Tag Archives: Novella

Last Train Out by DJ FitzSimons ~ A Friday the 13th Story Series ~ #Fridaythe13th

Please help me welcome welcome DJ FitzSimons with the next story in the Friday the 13th Series,  Last Train Out...

Fun Fact:

I am British and grew up riding trains everywhere. I have always loved them, so I thought it would be great to centre this story around a train ride. On the older trains, with their separate compartments, it was always creepy being in one late at night….

 

Cold-blooded killer Terrance Higgs escapes from a mental institution in the English countryside and manages to catch the last train out. The train is strangely empty, except for one passenger who doesn’t want to talk. The night passes slowly, the train never stopping at other stations until Terrance begins to question where they are going.

The comforting rocking motion of the wheels rolling along the tracks lulls Terrance into a dream-filled sleep. The past replays itself while vivid memories dance through his mind.

But as dawn breaks, Terrance realises this is no ordinary train, nor the journey he planned to take. It’s a terrifying destination he never expected. Has the table finally turned? Is the killer now the victim who’ll have to beg for his life?

Excerpt:

I like the sticky feel of blood on my fingers. In biology lab at school, I always enjoyed picking apart frogs and dissecting stuff. Anatomy is a beautiful thing. Sometimes, I’d even cut myself, just to watch how my blood sort of oozed out the thin slit in my skin, coagulate and then stop. Cool right? How did Mother Nature, or God, or whoever the fuck made us, design creatures with the ability to stop themselves bleeding with some agent in our chemistry?

            Except if you hit an artery. Now that’s like watching your blood getting pumped out by a little motor. I killed this old lady when I was sixteen. I knocked her out, then when she hit the floor, I nicked the carotid artery in her neck and then just watched it go. It was like a tiny volcano erupting. Her blood came out faster than I thought it would and made a hell of a mess, but it was fascinating.

            That was many years ago, but I can close my eyes and be right there. Funny how the mind is. Today’s Friday the thirteenth. I’m not superstitious, but I like the fact it’s one of those weird dates on the calendar, and I’m going to do something memorable. I’m lying on the hard bunk in my tiny, sterile room. We’re on lock-down for the night as it’s gone seven. Well, I should clarify that everyone else is on lock-down except for me. Any minute now, my door’s getting opened.

About the Author…

DJ FitzSimons is a misplaced Londoner living in the Midwest. This is her second collaboration for a Friday the 13th collection. DJ is currently working on a contemporary thriller set in Oklahoma, and a ‘chiklit’ story set in England. DJ also writes gothic mysteries and a monthly blog under the pen name of Jude Bayton.

Website https://www.judebayton.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/JudeBayton

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/judebaytonauthor/?ref=bookmarks

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/judebayton/

Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/deb-bayton-fitzsimons-b044129/

 

 

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The Hotel California by Callie Hutton ~ A Friday the 13th Story Series ~ #Fridaythe13th

Please help me welcome welcome Callie Hutton with the next story in the Friday the 13th Series,  The Hotel California...

Fun Fact:

Of course, the book is based on the Eagles song, Hotel California. I just started to imagine what it would be like to be stuck in a place where you can never leave and what would happen while you were there.

 

It had been planned perfectly. Then it all went to hell…

Lauren Adams hadn’t intended to kill her ex-boss. She only wanted his money. Now, with a suitcase full of bills, she’s on the run. But very strange things are happening at the hotel she stopped at along the highway.

 

Excerpt:

She tossed the suitcase on the front seat of the shiny ‘previously owned’ Toyota 4Runner she’d bought that afternoon. The sleazy salesman was so anxious to sell her a car that he let her take it without checking her application or depositing the five thousand dollar check she gave him for the down payment.

On a bank account she closed two days before.

She climbed behind the wheel, her heart pounding. By the time the cops were notified when the men returned Monday morning, she would be far, far away. With a new identity. A quick look in her mirror reflected a woman with glasses, short curly black hair and brown eyes.

So different from Lauren Adams, the long straight blond hair, blue-eyed former clerk at Murphy’s Trucking Company. Plus it had been two weeks since she’d been fired. The truckers probably wouldn’t even remember her, since there was most likely another poor girl fielding their gropes and lewd comments.

But covering all her bases, she carried the driver’s license of Darlene Marshall with Lauren’s new persona on it. Despite having to kill Mr. Murphy, she had no regrets. She’d hated the stupid job, hated her boss, hated the truckers with their constant gross remarks and gestures, and even hated her small, dull, apartment. She was meant for better things. And now she would have them.

Three hours later, her head snapped up when she found herself nodding off as she zipped down the deserted highway. Her headlights reflected the sign coming up. Winslow, 53 miles.

It had been her plan to stop in Winslow for the night before continuing on to California, but she would never make another fifty-three miles. It had taken her longer to kill Murphy and clean out the safe than she’d expected. Who knew the old man would even be there? His threats that the money wasn’t all his confirmed what she’d suspected. He was doing something illegal.

Within minutes a building seemed to rise from the desert on the north side of the highway. Hopefully it would be a hotel or motel so she could spend the night in comfort. The thought of sleeping in her car, no matter how comfortable it was, held no appeal.

She swung her vehicle into the parking lot and parked in front of the building. She grabbed her backpack and suitcase with the money in it, and slid out of the car, grinning as she looked up at the name of the hotel.

About the Author…

USA Today bestselling author, Callie Hutton, is the author of more than forty-five historical romance books and historical cozy mysteries. She writes humorous and spicy Regency and Victorian with “historic elements and sensory details” (The Romance Reviews). With a million novels sold and translated into several languages, she continues to entrance readers with her heartfelt stories.

callie@calliehutton.com

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5349775.Callie_Hutton

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/callie-hutton

https://www.amazon.com/Callie-Hutton/e/B006O2IF2I%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

www.calliehutton.com

https://www.facebook.com/calliehuttonsbooks

 

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Thirteen Past Midnight by Stephen B. King ~ A Friday the 13th Story Series ~ #Fridaythe13th

Please help me welcome welcome Stephen B. King with the next story in the Friday the 13th Series,  Thirteen Past Midnight

 

Can dreams foretell the future? Every night Jonathon returns to the same nightmare…where a cat that seems spawned from hell is always waiting for him. The dreams began at the stroke of midnight, but the following dreams happen one minute later than the night before.

A sense of dread looms over him as the clock ticks ever closer to 13 past midnight. Will he realize they’re nothing more than frightening dreams…or will he die in his sleep?

Fun Fact:

I have always been fascinated by dreams, and in my much younger, impressionable days made a bit of a study of all things occult. It started with watching a movie, called, The Devil Rides Out, which I loved and wanted to learn more. I discovered it was based on a book by Dennis Wheatley, so I read it and while by today’s standards it is tame, to an impressionable youth it beckoned its crooked finger. From there I made a trip to the British Museum and spent a few days studying Witchcraft and black magic. I don’t think, looking back, I was ever drawn to trying to be a participant, it was more a deep-seated fascination and thirst to know more.

It was a natural step, after reading more of Mr. Wheatley’s books, to study dreams and in particular Astral Travel, which is the ability of a practitioner to direct their dreams, and even to meet other people on the plane and have different experiences not possible in ‘the real world.’

Of more recent times I saw the movie Inception, and while I accept this is a remarkable work of fiction, scriptwriting and cinematic spectacle, designed to entertain, here again was a concept about directing dreams to achieve an end. Ever since I saw the movie, I think for the fifth time, I wanted to write a story about dreams.

Who knows where random thoughts of inspiration come from? I certainly have no idea where mine originate from. They seem to just hit me from out of the blue. Once I have an idea, I must explore it, and can only do so by writing it chronologically from that point forward and seeing where it takes me. So, while I wanted to write a story about dreams, I still need a spark to get the fire going and it came from Alicia Dean, asking if I would like to contribute a story to the second volume of Friday the 13th and I literally jumped at the chance. My first foray was a lot of fun to write, a tale featuring my favorite character from the Deadly Glimpses Series I’ve written, a criminal psychologist, Patricia Holmes, turned cop, and having her attend a murder-mystery dinner party with other psychologists, but there is an uninvited guest intent on murdering them all for real.

So, when asked to come back for round 2 by Alicia and agreeing obviously meant I had to come up with a story that would suit the theme. That’s when I recalled wanting to pen something around dreams. I love the symbolism of Alicia’s charter: thirteen authors, thirteen chapters etc, and so – yeah shock horror here’s that inspiration I thought of a clock telling the time of 13 past midnight. And so began my favorite question; what if…..

What if someone has a recurring dream, not just recurring, but a continuing dream staggered exactly one minute apart, starting at midnight? The dream appears to be warning of an impending danger a threat of death not to continue, and each night the horror grows. What would happen at the appointed time, death, or worse?

 Jonathon is a troubled young man. He hates his job, is engaged to a wonderful woman who works with lots of incredibly fit Olympic swimmers as a physiotherapist and deep down, he worries. He fears she doesn’t really love him, that she is so much better than he is, and that the baby she carries isn’t his. Then, a woman, who in some lights reminds Jonathon of an evil looking grey cat, wants to commission him to renovate an old house. This house has a history of black magic ceremonies, murder, and suicide. As each nightmare gets closer to 13 past midnight, Jonathon gets better at controlling his dreams, and tries to fight the evil that is coming relentlessly nearer. 

Many thanks to Alicia for inviting me to write this tale, I had so much fun writing it, and I think, though of course I am terribly biased this could be the most interesting story I’ve ever written. What do you think, dear reader?

Excerpt:
I knew I was dreaming when I peered around the trunk of an ancient Red Gum tree in the park to see if I could spot the cat before he saw me. He, or she, I had not been able to discern the sex, was prancing back and forth across the path. It was waiting for me, and it looked pissed. Suddenly it stopped and jerked its head around, and I ducked back behind the trunk, my heart pounding.
The thing has seen me. How the hell did it know I was here? Now what do I do? My mind raged in overdrive.
Why not just wake up? I replied, then closed my eyes, shook my head, and opened them again.
Nope, not working, I’m still here. Any other bright ideas?
Look, dummy, it’s just a cat, what are you so scared of? Just walk up, kick it out of the way, and get to…to…where the fuck am I going in a hurry?
I took a long, slow, calming breath and stuck my head around the tree again.
HISSSSSSSSSSS. The cat had crept up on my hiding place and launched itself at me, claws out. In a second, it would be on my face biting and scratching.
I woke, sweating, frantic rubbing my face, while the alarm clock glowed and flashed three minutes past midnight.
Bio:
Me – just some bits and pieces about – ME!
(Or as my wife often says: “It’s all just about you Steve isn’t it?”)
I’ve said, more than once, life is about the journey, and not the destination, and what a journey my life has been. We are the sum total of our experiences, and not what we eat, in my humble opinion, and when I start talking about my life to people – just before their eyes glaze over – they often say: “You should write a book.” So I have, several in fact.
Thrillers and crime genres have always fascinated me, and in particular, the dark world of serial killers, and while my beginnings were in the ‘Make love not war’ sentiment, I love a good, unputdownable, thriller. You know, the kind you just want to read one more chapter of, and then another, and then you realise you are late for work. Have I succeeded in creating stories that can take people to that place? Boy I hope so.
Drop me an email, and let me know if I have.
steve@stephen-b-king.com
Happy reading
Steve

 

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The End of the Road Hotel by Peggy McKenzie ~ A Friday the 13th Story Series ~ #Fridaythe13th

Please help me welcome welcome Peggy McKenzie with the next story in the Friday the 13th Series,  The End of the Road Hotel

Fun Fact

I write western historical romance, but I needed a genre that offered a change of pace so I wanted to try my hand at something new. That’s when creepy came along. Could I do it? I had no idea, but I wanted to try.

Blurb

Sometimes, the end of the road is just the beginning…

Felicity Simon is at a crossroads in her life. She and her on-again, off-again boyfriend have been together for seven years with no progress toward matrimony. Perhaps it’s time to make a change. Suddenly, she receives the unexpected news that she’s inherited her great aunt’s estate, Could this be the change she’s been looking for?

The moment they arrive at the hauntingly beautiful old Victorian, Felicity senses something is off with their host, but she can’t quite put a finger on the problem. He’s amiable, attentive, and accommodating. And, his handsome face and impeccable manners hold an allure she finds very enticing. And yet…her instincts warn her to be wary.

It doesn’t long before she realizes her instincts were right.

Snippet: 

She and Teddy arrived just outside the closed dining room doors. “Prepare yourself for the thrill of a lifetime, my pet,” he announced with all the flourish and excitement of a boxing ring announcer. My pet? She did not like the sound of that, and she was about to say so when he pushed the double doors open wide, revealing a dining room full of people sitting at a long narrow table covered in white tablecloths, crystal stemware and silver place settings all reflecting the flickering lights of a room full of tall pillar candles. Everyone was dressed in black formal attire from the same era as Teddy’s tux and her dress. So, it was a costume party from the roaring twenties after all. And there was a dining room full of people, which surprised her. She’d convinced herself she was here alone with Teddy. Now, she wished Austin was here for two reasons: she wouldn’t have to worry about him, and she could say “I told you so” with a big, wide grin on her face. No one would have been more shocked than Austin to learn there were other people in this place, after all, and she would have enjoyed the hell out of watching him scramble to apologize for doubting her.

Teddy escorted her into the room on his arm with a flourish as if she were a grand lady on display, but the closer she got to the occupants of the table, the more her brain had trouble processing what her eyes were seeing. What exactly was she looking at? It was as if everyone was frozen in time. Literally. No one was moving at all. “Everyone, I’d like you to meet our special guest, Miss Felicity Simon. Felicity, say hello to everyone. They’re dying to meet you.”

She stared hard at the first person she came to—really stared at her—or rather…it. Finally, realization punched its way through her confusion. And then, she screamed until she lost consciousness.

About the Author: 

Where Love Becomes Legendary…

An Amazon best-selling author, Peggy McKenzie was born and raised in Oklahoma, and she’s been in love with stories of happy endings and second chances since her first fairy tales in grade school. It wasn’t until she became enamored by Miss Kitty and Marshal Dillion’s love story that she decided to write her own romance stories where she makes certain the cowboy ride away with his lady love and they live happily-ever-after.

Now living in East Texas, she’s right smack dab in the middle of cowboy country, and she’s more determined than ever to fill her stories with rugged, flawed heroes and courageous, strong heroines. If you like happy endings and second chances with a touch of humor, you’ll like this author.

“Heartwarming sweet romance at its best.”

Sylvia McDaniel-USA Today Best-Selling Author

“You will not just read a story by Peggy McKenzie, you will live it.”

Hildie McQueen-USA Today Best-Selling Author

To learn more about Peggy and her books,

visit her website: PeggyMcKenzie.com.

Follow Peggy on her adventures through Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, BookBub, and Goodreads. Gain access to her fan-based webpage where she posts exclusive content by joining her monthly newsletter at https://www.peggymckenzie.com/newslettersignup.

Website: www.peggymckenzie.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peggymckenzieauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pegmckenziebook

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/mckenzie2346/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/peggy-mckenzie

Amazon Author Central: amazon.com/author/peggymckenzie

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/peggymckenziebooks/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15276347.Peggy_McKenzie

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Witch Ever Way You Go by Robert Herold ~ A Friday the 13th Story Series ~ #Fridaythe13th

Please help me welcome welcome Robert Herold with the next story in the Friday the 13th Series,  Witch Ever Way You Go

Fun Fact

Witch Ever Way You Go is set in the Seattle area where I live. There is a bit of rivalry between Seattle proper and the suburban areas. Playing with this idea, I envisioned two rival covens, one in Seattle, the other in the wealthy suburb of Baalberith. (Baalberith is the name for a powerful demon who tempts people to engage in blasphemy and murder. Heck, there is a Diablo Dam and Diablo Lake in Washington State. Diablo means devil, so I didn’t think it was much of a stretch to call a Seattle suburb Baalberith!)

I used many other actual locations for the story: the University of Washington, the 520 Bridge (which was under construction in 2015, when the book is set) and neighborhoods on Capitol Hill. One of my favorite places was a decrepit but awesome Victorian house. Here’s a picture of it:

I have a wonderfully grisly scene in that place! I had planned to do an Instagram reel in front of the house to promote my story. Unfortunately, I just discovered it has turned into something really scary:

Bonus fun fact:

As a boy, Robert Herold wanted nothing more than to grow up to be a werewolf. (Is there any wonder why he writes horror?)

Blurb

When an ill-fated graduate student and his girlfriend are lured into a terrifying world of witchcraft and murder, they become targets for human sacrifice. Is there a chance they can escape a bloodthirsty coven of witches and certain death until the curse is lifted? A spellbinding story of modern horror.

Snippet: 

The crowd in the room became more animated, their voices rising until they were shouting. The man standing over the woman turned one way then the other, presenting the dagger. As the crowd continued the deafening chant, he raised the blade as high as possible, then thrust it down, just below the woman’s left breast. He yanked the knife free, and a fountain of blood sprayed over the man’s robe and white tuxedo. The crowd erupted in ecstasy.

My stomach turned in revulsion. We had been flirting just a few minutes earlier, and now she was dead. “Holy fuck.”

About the Author: 

The supernatural always had the allure of forbidden fruit, ever since my mother refused to allow me, as a boy, to watch creature features on late night TV. She caved in. (Well, not literally.)

As a child, fresh snow provided me with the opportunity to walk out onto neighbors’ lawns halfway and then make paw prints with my fingers as far as I could stretch. I would retrace the paw and boot prints, then fetch the neighbor kids and point out that someone turned into a werewolf on their front lawn. (They were skeptical.)

I have pursued many interests over the years (among them being a history teacher and a musician), but the supernatural always called to me. You could say I was haunted. Finally, following the siren’s call as an adult, I began writing horror.

Ultimately, I hope my books give you the creeps, and I mean that in the best way possible.

https://www.amazon.com/Witch-Ever-Way-You-Go-ebook/dp/B09V714SSF

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60624641-witch-ever-way-you-go

https://www.bookbub.com/books/witch-ever-way-you-go-a-friday-the-13th-story-by-robert-herold

https://www.amazon.com/Robert-Herold/e/B07YW82TLR/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

Contact info and social media links:

email@robertheroldauthor.com

https://www.robertheroldauthor.com

https://www.instagram.com/robertheroldauthor666/

https://www.facebook.com/bob.herold.31/

https://twitter.com/RobertHerold666

https://www.facebook.com/Fri13thShortStories/

 

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Deadly Illusions by Anna Kittrell ~ A Friday the 13th Story Series ~ #Fridaythe13th

Please help me welcome welcome Anna Kittrell with the next story in the Friday the 13th Series,  Deadly Illusions…

Fun Fact

 A skilled magician (not unlike a skilled writer) can suspend reality, causing the audience to escape into a different realm. Illusionists emit a sense of danger. They captivate and control, challenging us to believe the unbelievable. And who can keep their eyes from that sexy, scantily-clad assistant who drifts and twirls across the stage before succumbing to the handsome magician’s sinister tricks? Add in some mysterious music and billowing smoke—and wow. That’s entertainment! However, magic is predominantly a men’s profession, with less than 8 percent of magicians being female.

While writing Deadly Illusions, my goal was to have the book’s heroine embody the same commanding power and sensuality I’ve seen exhibited in male illusionists. The end result was Melinda Sloan, a beautiful independent woman with a love for magic that sadly, is rivaled only by her love of alcohol. I enjoyed writing a strong main character with real life struggles, who ultimately triumphs when faced with her demons. And the researching of magic tricks and viewing of wildly talented illusionists on YouTube while crafting Melinda’s stage performances was an exciting and unexpected bonus!

Blurb

 When Melinda Sloan’s dream of becoming a professional illusionist comes true, she’s headed for the bigtime—maybe even Vegas. But when a dangerous illusion goes wrong, killing her assistant and closest friend, Celine, Melinda’s dream turns into a nightmare—and a whiskey bottle turns into a friend. Hopeless, she vows to give up magic forever. However, when Melinda is evicted from the family home, her sister, Julia, convinces her to return to magic—and is dead set on being her assistant. Before long, Melinda is onstage in Las Vegas, doing what she loves most. But when her booking agent demands Melinda perform the very trick that caused Celine’s death, Melinda’s refusal results in a breach of contract. Julia persuades her to do the trick—penniless and unemployed, she can’t afford not to. But as she faces the sword-riddled cabinet that holds Julia, her blood runs cold. Is her baby sister lifeless and bleeding inside the sword box? Has she murdered Julia, the way she murdered Celine? Or is the magician being tricked?

Snippet: 

Melinda raised the final sword high in the air, twirled it, then rammed it partially into the box, feeling for Celine’s tug on the blade. With the weight of the audience’s stares on her, seconds felt like hours. What was taking Celine so long?

Finally, she felt a slight tug.

Didn’t she?

The booze swirled in her stomach, making her sweat. She grunted, pretending to struggle as she shoved the sword further into the box—then struggling for real as the blade met with resistance.

The music reached a maddening crescendo, each chord striking a nerve in Melinda’s pounding head.

How much time had passed?

The whiskey clawed at her throat as the room spun.

Just then, she felt a definite tug on the sword blade. Relief flooded her soul. Celine must’ve had a bit of trouble navigating the final blade around the others.

What had it been—five seconds? Ten at most?

Melinda shoved the sword down with all her might, feeling no resistance from Celine. The sword slipped easily through the box, into position.

Confidence soaring, Melinda placed a hand on the box and pranced in a slow circle, turning the platform, showing the spectators every side. She faced the box toward the audience.

Time to retrieve the swords and open the box. She loved this part. Celine would be sitting straight up, beautiful as ever, without a scratch on her. The audience would go wild, like they always did.

Melinda removed the first sword, followed by the others, saving the sword jutting from the top of the box for last. Grasping the handle with both hands and closing her eyes, she made a show of slowly pulling the sword from the opening, Excalibur-style, and holding it above her head.

The music stopped. Shocked cries punched through the silence as something warm dripped onto her face.

“Blood!” Someone shouted.

Who was cruel enough to yell out a thing like that? Sick bastard. The horrible word stuck to her, burning like hot tar.

Sweat rolled down her forehead, into her eyes and mouth. It tasted like whiskey. No. It tasted like blood.

About the Author: 

Anna Kittrell resides in the same small Oklahoma town where she grew up, and has been a secretary at Anadarko Middle School for over twenty years. She married her high-school sweetheart, raised two children, and has an eight-year-old grandson who is her very best friend.  She has written for as long as she can remember and still has many of her tattered childhood creations—stories she used to sell on the playground for a dime, penned on notebook paper. Her love of storytelling has grown throughout the years, and she is thrilled her tales are now worth more than ten cents.

www.annakittrellauthor.com

https://www.facebook.com/AKittrell

https://www.amazon.com/Anna-Kittrell/e/B009OWBPMM?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1648916080&sr=8-1

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#HobbyCareerPassion: Maria Imbalzano ~ Baking May Not Be My Forte, But I Love It! & New Release: Red Velvet Crinkles and Christmas Sprinkles #WRPgrp #Blog #AHAgrp

Welcome to my weekly feature where authors share about the hobbies, careers, or passions of their characters.

I’m pleased to introduce today’s guest, Maria Imbalzano…

Baking May Not Be My Forte, But I Love It!

 

I’ve always hated to cook, but I love to bake. The reason is simple: I have a sweet-tooth and licking the bowl, beaters, spoon or spatula is far superior than tasting some sauce or chicken and veggie concoction.

Every year during the holidays, my mom, daughters and I bake Christmas cookies. When my mom was in charge, they all came out perfectly. We made butter balls, chocolate walnut, chocolate chip and kiefle (a square of thin pastry dough stuffed with a nut mixture, lekvar or apricot jam). While my mom, who is now 94, still supervises, she doesn’t jump in and help. Unfortunately, my cookies never come out as good as hers did, and after a few years I gave up on the kiefle. My dough was never thin enough and I didn’t have the patience to keep rolling it out after it stuck to the rolling pin or cutting board.

The problem with my baking in general is that I’m a little casual with quantities. My mother, daughters and husband have all commented on my methods of measuring water, flour, sugar etc. and my response to anything that doesn’t come out quite right is “oh well.”

My heroine, Bella, in “Red Velvet Crinkles and Christmas Sprinkles” has a little bit of me in her. She’s a lawyer who lost her job in Manhattan and returns home to Princeton over the holidays to regroup. She learns that her parents’ gift shop in town is failing and she comes up with the idea to turn it into a cookie cottage.

Her parents bristle at the idea at first, but realize they may not have a business if they don’t change. In an effort to bolster the new cookie cottage during the holidays, Bella suggests that her father video her and her mom baking—with Bella making all kinds of mistakes. These videos will be posted on TikTok in an effort to reach a broader audience.

In order to write this scene, I researched common mistakes in baking – most of which I make. Who knew there was a proper technique for measuring flour? Apparently, you spoon it into the measuring cup instead of dipping the measuring cup into the flour bag, because no one wants excess flour causing a crumbly cookie. And too much sugar makes cookies brittle. You wouldn’t want others to break their teeth on over-sweetened treats. Not thoroughly creaming the butter and sugar results in flat, dense cookies instead of the more appealing light and fluffy ones. Not chilling the dough when called for means the batter will spread quickly and aggressively once in the oven. Presumably no one wants an aggressive cookie.

And the mortal sin of baking—using liquid measuring cups to measure dry ingredients. Or vice versa. So much to learn. Perhaps Bella and I will take heed. Perhaps not.

But one thing is for sure. “Red Velvet Crinkles and Christmas Sprinkles” is a heartwarming holiday romance that will squeeze your heart and make you smile. And it might even make you head to the kitchen to make Christmas cookies.

Maria’s cookies in Santa Plate

Find the recipe here:

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/231745/red-velvet-crinkle-cookies/ 

 

Blurb:

Competitive, work-obsessed Bella Simonetti has just been fired from her high-paying job at a Manhattan law firm. At an all-time low, she returns home and helps her parents at their small-town gift shop, but the business is failing and may not make it past the Christmas holidays.

Successful landscape architect Dean Jackson is like a son to Bella’s parents. But he’s a persistent annoyance to her—he seems to have forgotten his unforgivable blunder thirteen years earlier.

When Bella transforms her parents’ gift shop into a cookie cottage, Dean’s generosity and magnetic smile are hard to resist, and those feelings of unrequited adolescent love come rushing back. But can Bella let go of the past and accept Dean for the man he is today?

 Excerpt:

 “I agree with Dean. Barb’s Gift Cottage has been in Princeton for thirty years. You don’t decide one day to revamp the entire business. Get rid of the old, make way for the new. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Bella bit her tongue before responding, reminding herself to stay cool. “Okay. I’m open to anything. Let’s talk about your ideas to stay afloat.” She sat, poised with her pad in front of her, pen in hand.

Silence.

She looked directly at her dad first, eyebrow arched. “I’m listening.” Then she scanned over to Dean.

Her gaze moved up to his eyes—sea green in the harsh kitchen light but beautiful just the same.

His gaze locked with hers and held her hostage— an unwilling prisoner to his warden. All ire morphed into a swirling eddy of primal lust, and she felt herself disappearing into his aura. She needed to save herself as well as her ego. Fighting the pull, she surfaced, blinking to clear her eyes, inhaling to bring her back to the present.

She disconnected and glanced at her parents. Had they noticed she’d been missing?

The smallest smile quirked Dean’s lips—surely acknowledging her lapse into Dean-land. She reached for the annoyance she’d let slip from her grasp and pulled it back into her arsenal.

Buy links: 

Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09FYVGDWR

Barnes and Noble

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/red-velvet-crinkles-and-christmas-sprinkles-maria-imbalzano/1140147130?ean=2940162321644

Apple

https://books.apple.com/us/book/red-velvet-crinkles-and-christmas-sprinkles/id1585527197

 

About Maria:

Maria Imbalzano is a retired matrimonial lawyer who now writes full time. Instead of drafting motions, legal memoranda, and briefs, although fascinating, she now spends her days creating memorable characters and taking them on their emotional journeys through her contemporary romance novels.

Her novel, “Unchained Memories,” won the Wisconsin Romance Writers Write Touch Readers’ Award and the ACRA Readers’ Choice Heart of Excellence Award. “Sworn to Forget,” the first of the four-book Sworn Sisters Series was a finalist for the illustrious RONE award as well as the Book Buyers Best Award. Two of her novellas, “The Blueberry Swirl Waltz” and “A Song For Another Day” won first place awards in their categories in the NEST (National Excellence in Story Telling) contest. Both of these novellas were also finalists for the Beverley Award.

Visit Maria at http://www.mariaimbalzano.com

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/mariaimbalzanoauthor

Twitter

http://www.twitter.com/mariaimbalzano

@mariaimbalzano

Instagram: Mariaimbalzano_author

Blog Link

http://www.mariaimbalzano.com/category/blog/

Website Link

http://www.mariaimbalzano.com

Goodreads Author Page

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7276749.Maria_Imbalzano

Book Bub Profile page

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/maria-imbalzano

Mailing List Sign Up form

https://mariaimbalzano.com/sign-up-for-my-newsletter/

Amazon Author Page

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00FG9RI5K

 

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Filed under Author Blog Post, For Writers, Hobbies...Careers...Passions, New Release

“10 Moments That Changed My Life” by Melinda Dozier ~ New Release: TROUBLE WITH GOLD

#AHAgrp

Please help me welcome Melinda Dozier with the moments that changed her life, and her new release, TROUBLE WITH GOLD…

10 Moments That Changed My Life by Melinda Dozier

  1. Meeting my husband at The University of New Mexico. I remember the exact moment and how time literally stood still. I knew he was “the one.” (Yes, I am a hopeless romantic!)
  2. Graduating from university with a double major in Communications and Political Science.
  3. Moving to Guatemala, Central America after graduation with my then fiance, not knowing a word of Spanish or what I was getting myself into.
  4. Becoming a middle school English teacher in Guatemala without any teacher education. My first year was very painful, but here I am 24 years later!
  5. Having my first child in Guatemala. Since it’s a third-world country, the hospital was a little behind the times. I stayed in the operating room all alone until it was time to push. Then they allowed my hubby in with me. Once my first son was born, I knew my life would be forever different.
  6. The birth of my second and third sons in Guatemala.These two experiences were much better than my first. All in all, I love being a boy mom and it’s really WHO I AM!
  7. Finding God in 2008. I had always been raised as a Christian, but I truly BECAME a Christian during this year.
  8. Finishing my first book, Time Changes Everything, and then it actually being published in 2013! The bad news was that the publisher went under after 6 months of it being published, so I also learned a lot about the harsh publishing world. I’ve since self-published my first novel, because it’s my baby.
  9. My second book, Breaking the Rules, being chosen as a winner in the November Harlequin Blaze Pitch. However, I did not ultimately have my book chosen as the final winner, though I did conference with a Blaze editor and had positive feedback. In the end, Breaking the Rules found a home at Crimson Romance, and I’m so happy it did.
  10. Moving back to the United States in 2015. How I missed my home country!

What a great list! Thank you for sharing. I would miss my home country too. But, it’s so great that you had the experience of living in Guatemala. It’s crazy you became a teacher without a degree!

Please tell us about your latest release…

 

Blurb:

US snowboarder and notorious prankster, Ty (Trouble) Madsen is only getting a taste of his own medicine when his Olympic teammates shackle him to a fence wearing nothing but his boxers.  Reception and protocol volunteer, Nadia Hoffman, gets up close and personal with the sexy snowboarder to rescue him, but she’s not the kind of girl who lets her hormones get in her way.  A professional performance could help her land her dream job at Olympics Committee Headquarters, but her new assignment supervising the rambunctious US Snowboarding Team is making that difficult.  Can she see behind the snowman in the community center bathroom and into the warm heart of the man everyone calls Trouble?

Excerpt:

“Thank God you’re here,” a male’s voice groaned, in English.

Nadia looked across the path toward the stairs ahead of her and saw a very well built, tall man, light brown hair curled around his beanie, with a chiseled chest and tight thighs. Wait a minute. Why could she see his chest and thighs? It was zero degrees Celsius. Why would a man be standing in nothing but his underwear? Her mother always warned her about sickos.

She dug into her purse, searching for her mace – something she carried since her internship in New York last summer. It settled somewhere at the bottom. Great. When she finally needed it, she couldn’t find it.

“Do you mind?” He said, a little louder. “I could use some help.”

“I have mace.” She answered, still searching. “Stay where you are.”

“Not a problem.” He laughed, a deep laugh that sent tingly sensations from head to toe. God, sleep deprivation must be worse than she thought if she had these thoughts about a sicko.

She shook her head and finally held the mace up. The man remained in the same spot. He had a fabulous smile and a few wrinkles at the side of his eyes, from smiling or being out in the sun. He must be an athlete with that tight physique. “Who are you and what are you doing?”

Instead of answering, he let out a laugh all while his teeth chattered. An ache sat in her throat. Poor guy. If his blue lips and frosted hair was any indication, he was beyond cold.

“Are you okay?” She slowly approached the stairs, not sure what the handsome man would do. But, he looked like he was in trouble.

His eyes perused her from top to bottom and then he looked back into her face. “Better now.” He smirked.

Author Bio:

Reading romance has always been at the top of Melinda’s favorite past times. You can always find a book in her hands no matter where she is.Melinda is Louisiana born, New Mexico raised, Guatemala adopted, and recently a newcomer to Houston, Texas. So, it’s only natural that her stories take place all across the world.Melinda loves reading, reality TV, traveling, blogging, and playing Words with Friends.Find Melinda on social media at:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/melindadoz/

Twitter: www.twitter.com/melindadozier

Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/MelindaDozier

Buy links:

Universal Links: https://www.books2read.com/u/4jwYw2

Amazon: https://books2read.com/u/4jwYw2?store=amazon

Barnes & Noble: https://books2read.com/u/4jwYw2?store=bn

ITunes: https://books2read.com/u/4jwYw2?store=apple

Kobo: https://books2read.com/u/4jwYw2?store=kobo

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36643019-trouble-with-gold?from_search=true

 

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Filed under 10 Moments that Changed My Life, Author Blog Post, New Release

Author Interview with Jennifer Perkins ~ Upcoming Release: Daring Return

Another fun interview…please help me welcome Jennifer Perkins…

  1. Where did you get the title for your book?

Since I’m writing for the Carly Phillips’ Dare To Love kindle world, I knew Daring Return would be a sports themed book. Lucky readers here are getting a sneak peak of my cover since it hasn’t been revealed yet! The sport in my novella is football and I wanted to have my title reflect this. Originally, my working title was Daring Rebound. My children pointed out that my original title was more for basketball and they helped me retitle it for football. Ha, they’re bigger fans than me! Who knew?

  1. Some authors have said life sometimes gets in the way. Have you experienced this?

Haha. I have to laugh, because I was originally scheduled to be here several months ago, but life did happen to get in the way. My husband had knee surgery last year due to a fall and this week he had his sixth knee surgery. After the original operation, he’s been fighting infections. The first infection cleared, but he had a secondary infection. Between administering his medication through his picc line, taking care of the house (I actually wired a light fixture into our bathroom), and bringing him where he needs to be, I carve out time to write. It’s tough, but here I am at midnight creating the stories I hope my readers love to read.

  1. Are there any tricks or habits you use when creating a story?

Some authors I know write their stories by creating the characters first, some like to create the location first. I like to think about a situation or conflict and how two general people might resolve this. After working out the conflict, I like to create the actual characters and then try to see what location would best fit the story.

  1. Would you rather have a bad review or no review?

Reviews are very personal and there could be a myriad of reasons for what a person writes. I feel there’s value in any review, good or bad and they can help a writer grow. Having said that, I generally have a rule when reading reviews of books I think I’d like to read or a product I wish to purchase. I tend to not read the five star reviews. I find a lot of those come from an author’s friends and or family so they may be biased. I also tend to stay away from one star reviews, since I’ve found a lot of those are complaints on delivery or other issues not related to the actual book or product.

  1. What genre have you never written that you’d like to write?

Oh, good question. I have a few ideas for thrillers, something that might be along the lines of a Steven King thriller. I’d love to tell you about these, but they’re still in the idea stage. They’ve been on my mind lately and actually something I might try and develop later this year.

  1. What would you want your readers to come away with after they read Daring Return?

I’d like to think they’re moved in some way by this and any of my stories. I like to write sweet, so Daring Return is outside my comfort zone. This story has a BDSM flair, a first for me, and I hope the readers enjoy the way the story evolves. I believe readers like to experience stories and become immersed in our created worlds. Sometimes readers read for a reprieve from the turmoil their own lives take and I’d like to think I helped.

Thank you for joining me, it was great getting to know you. Now, please tell us about your book…

 

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Blurb:  Rose Perez is a physical therapist who shares a secret with Miami Thunder halfback, Bruce Hawkins. They also have separate careers outside of their shared world that could become derailed if their secret gets out. Neither had wanted a relationship. Does Rose have what it takes to look past the life Bruce is trying to portray or is she starting to fall in love?

Bruce decided early in life that true love was something other men wanted. Does he have what it takes to help Rose find real happiness without risking his heart?

Excerpt:

Before Bruce could say anything else, he heard the slam of Rick’s phone in his ear. The noise factor was probably one of the reasons Rick hadn’t used his cell. After the falling out he had with Rose, Bruce decided she’d be the best person to work with. He’d acted as a jerk, not letting her explain what happened. He needed to give her the benefit of the doubt and if he had to, he’d apologize to her. This day couldn’t get any worse. Then Bruce’s phone rang and he saw Randy’s number on the display.

“How much are you looking for or are you calling to tell me you found a real job?”

“That’s no way to greet your little brother,” Randy said.

“You stopped being my brother when you decided drugs, booze, and women were more important than family.” Bruce got out of his car and slammed his door shut in frustration. This was one conversation he’d rather not have.

“That’s why I’m here. So we can bond. Actually, it was mom’s idea. She suggested I crash here with you a while. You know, maybe pick up some kinda inspiration.”

Bruce had just gotten in the elevator and punched the number for his floor when his brother’s request registered with what he said. “What do you mean crash here? Where the hell are you?”

“Sitting on your couch looking at the great views you have. You know you’ve got a really nice place.”

 

Release date is Feb. 28th in Dare To Love Amazon kindle worlds – Author’s Amazon buy link page: https://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Perkins/e/B01M992WVJ/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

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Bio:

Jennifer Perkins grew up in a small New England town where quaint neighborhoods still remain hidden. This combination has led to a sweet mix of her love of family, romance, and imagination.

With a degree in Marketing, she’s held a potpourri of jobs. She’s an active member of RWA. Her two young adult children, while pursuing their careers are, with her husband, her greatest cheerleaders. Jennifer lives in Florida with her husband. When she isn’t dreaming of interesting ways to enable everyone to join in her characters’ lives, she loves to spend time with family, garden, dabble in photography, and go for long walks on the beach.

Contact Links:

Website:    http://www.authorjperkins.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/authorjperkins

Twitter:      https://twitter.com/AuthorJPerkins

Pinterest:    https://www.pinterest.com/authorjperkins/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15968745.Jennifer_Perkins

 

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Filed under Author Blog Post

A Brand New Valentines Day Story from The Wild Rose Press: Time Out, Valentine by Melinda Dozier

I’m always pleased to host Wild Rose Press authors, especially considering I am one myself. I love their covers, and they publish some fabulous stories. Today, I have Melinda Dozier answering some questions and sharing her latest release…

 

Where did you get the idea for Time Out, Valentine?

Two years ago I visited Portland, Oregon on a business trip. The city inspired me along with one particular couple I stalked ̶ um, I mean, saw ̶ at the International Rose Garden.

What is the most difficult thing about writing a book?

Novellas are always difficult to build the characters enough for readers to understand them. I think I did a good job, though. 🙂

Are there any tricks or habits you use when creating a story?

My agent has taught me to keep a character chart and it’s such a useful tool. If I forget an eye color, I can just check the chart instead of searching through the manuscript.

What book have you read that you wish you would have written?

All of Jill Shalvis’s books. I am a die-hard fan of Shalvis.

Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and how do you like it?

Yes, I’m a middle school teacher. I was kind of thrown into the position at first, but after 19 years, I’ve realized it was a calling. However, after this year, I’ll retire from teaching to focus on writing.

What celebrity would you most like to be stranded on an island with?

I have a celebrity crush on Ryan Gosling, so I should say him, but I think I’d like to have deep conversations with Neil Gaiman.

What is your favorite…

Movie Crazy, Stupid Love

Place you’ve visited Disneyworld

Place you’d like to visit New York City

TV show from childhood Little House on the Prairie

TV show from adulthood The Office

Food  Tex Mex

Sports team New Orleans Saints

Which do you prefer: Board games/card games or television? Card Games

Now, Melinda has a question for readers…

What has been your most favorite romantic date of all time?

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BLURB:

Lexi’s life is one big dump. Or so she thinks. To keep her mind off her latest breakup, she stays busy with work. It’s no big deal, since writing for Time Out Portland Magazine is a blast…except for the one small snag – Grant Reeds. Grant, a shy but sexy computer geek, is new to Time Out, working as the Networking Director for the online magazine. Even though Lexi thinks he doesn’t notice her, he sure as hell does. The owners have a plan for their upcoming Valentine’s Special, pairing up the two to explore romantic date ideas around the city. Soon, Lexi and Grant learn that the old adage, “Opposites Attract,” can ring true.

EXCERPT:

Grant sipped his beer and surveyed the room around them—anywhere but at the siren next to him, with her fancy drink, an umbrella hanging off the side. Overhead lights strobed the room, gleaming in all directions. The DJ announced a new song and a new crowd rushed to the dance floor, leaving them more alone in the back of the room. Thank God. 

It was stifling hot. He tugged his collar from his neck and rolled the sleeves of his white button-up. His glasses slid down his nose, forcing him to take them off and put them in his shirt pocket. 

Luckily in that part of the room, the music wasn’t so loud that they had to scream to converse. He only raised his voice a fraction to ask her the question he’d been wondering since they set foot in the place. “So, you think this is romantic enough for a Valentine’s date?” 

She batted her long lashes in his direction and smirked. “There’s low lights.” 

“Yeah and loud music, people all around.” To help prove his point, someone bumped him in the back, pushing him closer to Lexi. His hand circled her waist and rested on her hip. 

She sipped the drink, moving the umbrella with her other hand, then licked her lips. “It’sthe place to be. All trendy couples find their way here.” She cocked her head. “What would make it more romantic? Kissing?” 

A slow smile formed and he faced her. Not a bad idea. “Actually, yeah.” He placed his bottle on the table behind them, cracked his knuckles and stretched his neck. 

She laughed nervously, putting her weight on another sexy as hell foot. “What? You’re gonna kiss me? For real?” 

“We need romance.” He grabbed her cup and put it next to his bottle. His gaze dropped to her mouth. 

“You kissing me won’t—” 

He placed his thumb on her lips. “Shhh. Stop talking so we can be romantic.”

LINKS:

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00RASDUTS

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Time-Out-Valentine/book-yYA2K7SnFUSuL1kAU8LAhQ/page1.html?s=mfws6h0hQ0aRNbe-wLUbRQ&r=4

B&N: To come

The Wild Rose Press: http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=6037

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23784438-time-out-valentine

 

TRAILER LINK: http://youtu.be/DK4hVHiVAmo

 

 

MelindaDozierAuthor

AUTHOR BIO:

Melinda is a multi-published contemporary romance author with books from Crimson Romance, Swoon Romance and The Wild Rose Press represented by Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency. She lives in Guatemala, Central America with her husband/college sweetheart who brings “mucho amor” to her life. Melinda enjoys being the queen of her household and dreams of being pampered fully by her three boys once they are grown. Melinda’s guilty pleasures include reality t.v., traveling, blogging and playing Zynga games.

 

AUTHOR LINKS:

Website: www.melindadozier.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/melindadozier

Facebook: http://www.twitter.com/melinda.doz

The Wild Rose Press: http://goo.gl/F3IG1W

Sign up for Melinda’s newsletter HERE.

 

 

 

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Filed under Entertainment, For Writers