Please help me welcome today’s guest, Jill Piscitello…
Hair stylist Scarlett Kerrigan lost her job and her apartment. To alleviate a touch of self-pity, she succumbs to her stepmom’s pressure to attend a wedding in the New Hampshire White Mountains. Unfortunately, she runs into the vacation fling who promised the moon but disappeared without an explanation. Months have passed, but she is not ready to forgive and forget.
After a chaotic year, executive Wes Harley settles into his family’s event venue, The Timeless Manor. His carefully structured world is shaken to its core when Scarlett arrives for the Victorian Christmas wedding weekend. The feelings he never quite erased flood to the surface.
When secrets are revealed, will a magical chateau and a sprinkle of tinsel be enough to charm Scarlett?
Jill Piscitello is a teacher, author, and an avid fan of multiple literary genres. Although she divides her reading hours among several books at a time, a lighthearted story offering an escape from the real world can always be found on her nightstand.
A native of New England, Jill lives with her family and three well-loved cats. When not planning lessons or reading and writing, she can be found spending time with her family, trying out new restaurants, traveling, and going on light hikes.
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.
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?
“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.
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.
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.
Please help me welcome today’s guest, Ana Diamond….
Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets? I grew up in the suburbs of New York just outside of New York City. I also lived in New York City for 15 years. Now I’m back in the suburbs rasing two kids. I have 2 rescue cats who are also sisters.
Why did you choose this genre? I’ve always been drawn to mystery. I like intrigue and romance always keeps me reading.
Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and do you like it? I work in the medical field in a large hospital in NYC. It is the complete opposite of writing and creating but I find that it keeps me grounded and pays the bills.
Do you collect anything? I collect candles, dolls, Disney animated production cells and makeup.
What was your first job? Medical Assistant.
Have you written any other books that are not published? Yes, many. I have dabbled in different genres to figure out where I might fit in the best.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination? Entirely from my imagination.
How did you come up with the title?
It’s a play on words. It has a much more literal meaning since the story is set in a funeral home where there are lots of bodies and the story centers around a body that is found but doesn’t belong.
What’s the main thing that you could get rid of in your life that would give you more writing time? My day job.
Place you’ve visited: Bora Bora
Place you’d like to visit Egypt
TV show from childhood Sesame Street
Food A fresh salad
In a small town, gossip can get you killed
Mortician, Lily Reynolds is used to seeing bodies, but not the type murdered in her own funeral home. As Detective James Rivers zeroes in on her as the town’s number one suspect she must rise above the accusations and rumors to solve the case herself while keeping her attraction to the troubled detective at bay.
James has a past. The last time he let someone into his life she wound up dead. Vowing never to let that happen again he has sworn off dating for good. Until he meets Lily. In his gut he knows she’s not the murderer but pressure to solve the case puts him on the wrong trail while he struggles to keep Lily off the case.
Can she solve the case on her own or will their scandalous romance get in the way of proving her innocence?
“That’s Detective James Rivers,” Abrams said. “He came all the way up from New York City to our little town in the scenic Hudson Valley. He’ll be the lead investigator on this case since I know you ladies will be frequent callers.”
“Let’s be clear, I’ve never called you,” Lily said. “It’s always been Shanna.”
Abrams gave her a coy smile. He seemed flattered by the idea.
“Nice to meet you, Detective Rivers,” Lily said, finally turning toward the man who approached them.
Her breath caught in her throat. She didn’t know what she had been expecting, but not this—the angelic face with large sky-blue eyes, pronounced cheekbones and silken black hair. The only part of him that matched her ideas of what detectives looked like were his tattooed arms. She should know; her dad had been a cop.
May he rest in peace.
But James’s tattoos weren’t subtle. Snakes slid up his arms, past his rolled-up shirtsleeves, coiling around his thick forearms and biceps. One corner of his mouth lifted as he caught her staring.
Buy Here: https://books2read.com/anadiamondauthor
When Ana Diamond isn’t writing about tough gals finding love in unexpected places, she’s at work by day in the medical field. She writes romantic cozy mystery novels with feisty strong women and alluring men who can’t resist them. Her books are fast paced, entertaining and heartfelt all at once.
Ana is a 2020 Tara Contest Finalist for Body Conscious and 2015 Melody of Love contest finalist. She lives in New York with her husband, two children and two needy but wildly entertaining kitty cats.
Please help me welcome today’s guest, Jennifer Wilck and the other authors of her Ticket to True Love multi-author series. Such a clever idea. And the covers are fabulous! Sounds like a fantastic series. Congrats, ladies!
Thanks so much, Alicia, for hosting me on your blog today! Better Together in Bostonis a contemporary romance that released on June 11. It’s part of the Ticket to True Love multi-author series. I’m excited to tell you a little about the book, as well as to share some of the other books in the series.
Anna Levinson has long since come to terms with the understanding that “having it all” is impossible if she wants a successful career. Despite being left at the altar twice, Ben Diamond still believes his soul mate is out there. A long-distance relationship isn’t what either of them has in mind, and Anna isn’t about to ruin another person’s dreams; however, giving each other up is harder than it looks.
Here are a few of my favorite lines from the story:
This was it. The moment she’d waited for and dreaded at the same time.
The seventh inning stretch.
Anna was not like the other women she’d grown up with and knew. She’d never dreamed of a happily ever after for herself. Her mom was strong and independent, and she was, too. Regardless of how much guilt Anna carried, she never felt the need to depend on a man, so marriage had never been one of her goals. And once she started achieving professional success, a relationship would just be one more thing pulling at her time.
But every time she came to a baseball game with her mom, there was always someone nearby who would lean over and kiss his or her partner while everyone else rose during the seventh inning stretch. As a child, she’d been fascinated. As a teen and a young adult, she’d been at first horrified and then a little envious. But as she matured, she decided it was stupid, especially if the couple was unlucky enough to be shown on the Jumbotron.
Seriously, who wanted their kiss broadcast to the world? It gave an intimate moment too much weight.
Fun Fact: Boston is known for the “Freedom Trail,” but it also has an entire literary district, including the homes of famous authors and even a statue based on the story, Make Room for Duckling!
The most difficult thing about writing with other authors is making sure the things that carry through all our stories, such as the small town of True Springs, are consistently portrayed.
The best thing about writing with other authors is that I get the benefit of their knowledge and I have a built-in support system, whether it’s for blurb help or advertising.
And now, let me introduce you to the others!
Georgia Grace by Savannah Kade
Blurb: Equal parts determined and petrified, Grace is leaving her abusive boyfriend for good. Hopping on the the back of a stranger’s bike isn’t the worst decision she’s ever made. How can two broken and scarred hearts give in to love when they’ve each vowed never to lose themselves again?
Blurb: It was supposed to be a summer road trip in an RV with old friends. She never expected the adventure to be love. Big skies may call to both of them, but work is waiting for Rhiannon and Nick has never claimed one place as home. They only have a few days to decide what’s worth risking and what they’re willing to live without…or they might just find that what matters most is already gone.
“It was the first national park,” he said. He hadn’t let go of her hand and she hadn’t pulled away. “Seems an auspicious place to run into each other, no?”
They were the same passes their group had used to get into Indiana Dunes, into Theodore Roosevelt National Park, into Cuyahoga. But this time, knowing that Nick would be joining them all for dinner, that she was seeing him again in just a few short minutes, they felt like tickets to a far greater adventure This time, he was here with Rhiannon.
Fun Fact: This story was very much written as my love letter to young women who are still trying to navigate the world and their place in it. The inspiration of a group of summer camp friends who have stayed in touch and grown up together came from my very own group of summer camp friends. We have traveled together, grown together, and continue to be part of each other’s lives, no matter how far away we move.
Not only was Rhiannon’s relationship with her friends based on the real life friendship—and many of the real life conversations and experiences—of my own camp friends, but many of the stories in Yearning in Yellowstone are from camp, as well, if altered slightly. While nearly a decade has passed since I worked at a sleepaway camp, it was one of the most unique and challenging and exciting experiences of my life—and it definitely comes with stories. Camp taught me how to think on my feet and how to find joy in the in-between moments, and for that, I’ll be forever grateful. I’m also eternally grateful that I never have to deal with several dozen vomiting children again…
Working With Other Authors:
The Ticket to True Love writing process has been nothing but wonderful. I love the excitement of seeing where each of the stories are going to be set and how each other blends the series rules with their own style and story. The series guides, with the water and the tickets, really gave me a chance to push the story and try new things and I enjoyed taking Yellowstone to a whole new level. Ironically enough, the summer camp where I actually worked isn’t very far from where True Springs can be found, which helped inspire the very start. It’s also been so fun running parties and creating a community with such amazing authors surrounding romance and adventure and a little bit of the magic of love.
“Are you offering me some kind of partnership? Just spit it out already.” Sadie didn’t have time for this, and Jake was cracked if he thought she had any kind of capital for some kind of family-ruining buyout. “I’m going to be late.”
“No—it’s bigger than that.” Jake sucked in a big breath. “I’m asking you to marry me.”
Sadie’s mouth dropped open. Her heart stuttered with shock and then recovered, as if Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage had appeared and then vanished all in the space of a second.
She barked out a laugh—because really, what other way was there to react? “You are out of your mind.”
“I’m completely serious.”
She scrunched up her face and peered at him. His hair was mussed, but his eyes were clear and he wasn’t muttering or drooling or frothing. Not drugs, not a psychotic episode, not even sleepwalking.
And sadly, most definitely not some romantic notion blown out of proportion as a result of one heart-stopping kiss seven years ago.
Fun Fact: I grew up in Pittsburgh but the Strip District has had a complete blossoming since I’ve been gone!
Most Difficult Thing: Keeping everyone excited and motivated!
Tiffani Lemmen worked hard to get clean. If she can stay out of trouble and away from men, she’ll inherit her grandmother’s fortune.
Danny Ibanez is the most promising young cop on the South Sedona police force. The law is black and white, and when you’re the son of the most crooked cop in Arizona, you follow the rules. All of them. The last thing Danny plans to do is fall for an ex-junkie with a criminal past.
Resisting each other is impossible. Falling in love with cost them everything.
She hit the water back-first. The basin was deeper than she expected, and the water came up over her face. The cold surprised her, and she opened her mouth to gasp. Water filled her mouth, and she choked on it. Suddenly, time sped up, and she struggled to stand up. Her clothes had grown heavy and waterlogged, and her flip-flops had fallen off, so her bare feet couldn’t get purchase on the slippery tiled bottom. She managed to struggle over onto her hands and knees, coughing and spitting out water.
She looked up at the two young men in front of the statue, who had stopped mid-makeout to gaze at her.
“Well,” observed one of them, “that’s one way to find your true love.”
Fun fact about the story:
After I wrote the initial draft of “Sure to Fall in Sedona,” I sent it to a cop friend of mine. She replied, “Did you actually research police work? Have you ever met a cop? Have you ever even seen a cop show?” I had to admit the truth: all I really know about police work was that one time I’d been out to lunch with a girlfriend of mine and their was a bachelor party in the room next to us and a stripper in a cop uniform showed up and stripped down to his g-string. I corrected the actual police work in the book, but I left in a few cracks about ogling handsome men in uniform. Like I’m gonna pass up that opportunity!
The most difficult part of writing with other authors: I admire the other writers so much, and I was pretty sure they made a mistake when they invited me to join them. I was (and still am!) afraid that I could never match their level of excellence.
The BEST part about writing with other authors: I loved that we were all working with similar parameters and coming up with such different stories. I think the experience made me a better writer.
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, Debby Grahl…
Sundae My Love – at Sand Lake,
Where Ghosts Bring Two Lovers Back Together
Hi, I’m Samantha Murray, and Sundae My Love is the story of my family’s ice cream business. The Murrays have called Sand Lake, in the Irish Hills of Michigan, home since the nineteen fifties.
After my grandparents retired, I took over the running of the Dairy Delight. Lake-goers have enjoyed our Neapolitan Nectar milk shake for generations, but now Zack Hunter, the love of my life and the man who broke my heart, is back in town and threatens my business.
Hey there, I’m Zack Hunter, and I also grew up on Sand Lake. I left to go to college out west and have returned with a degree in architecture. You see, my grandparents built Frontier Town, a tourist attraction near the lake. The buildings have stood empty for years, and it’s been my dream to restore them and add an old-fashioned ice cream shop. The problem is the land I need to use adjoins the Dairy Delight. I have to confess I messed up pretty badly and hurt Samantha when I left. But I’ve realized my mistake, and I’m home and plan on winning back the woman I love.
When Wild Rose Press requested stories for their Two Scoops or One anthology, I knew my family’s home on Sand Lake was the perfect setting. Even though I’ve changed the characters’ names, the people actually exist. The house, built in the late nineteenth century, is as I describe, including the ghosts. I haven’t seen them, but, along with my cousins, we’ve heard them. Doors slam, floorboards creak, and footsteps go up and down the stairs.
Across the lake on US 12, there’s a drive-up ice cream shop, and down the road the empty buildings of a frontier town still stand. When I was young, my cousins and I would sit in the saloon wearing our western shirts and moccasins drinking root beer. We’d hop on the stagecoach which was always held up by outlaws.
The Irish Hills is a rural area in southeast Michigan. There’s farm land, a number of lakes, woods of maples and oaks and dogwoods. I now live on Hilton Head Island, SC, but each summer I go home to the lake where I enjoy spending time with all my cousins, going out for ice cream, and reminiscing about growing up in such a beautiful place.
Can ancestral ghosts bring Samantha and Zack back together to fulfill all their dreams?
Sundae My Love Blurb
As manager of the Dairy Delight, Samantha Murray is dismayed to discover her past love is back and plans on building a rival business next door.
Zack Hunter returns to Sand Lake to win back Samantha and fulfill his grandfather’s dreams by restoring Frontier Town, a tourist attraction once owned by his grandparents, and adding an old-fashioned ice cream parlor.
Samantha is heartbroken over Zack’s past betrayal and struggles, conflicted over the love she can’t deny, but resolved to stop his building plans.
Zack is torn between his love for Samantha and his determination to follow through with his grandfather’s legacy.
Convinced the two are desperately in need of help, the family ghosts intervene to bring them together and solve their differences.
Sundae My Love excerpt
In the living room, a female shape materialized. Her long dress swirled around her ankles, and the heels of her high button shoes tapped across the hardwood floor. “Good grief, Angus, I wanted you to make them meet on the lake, not have Zack run Samantha down,” Patricia Murray said with exasperation.
In a Queen Anne style chair, a male form appeared. “Patricia, it wasn’t my fault. Thaddeus was sitting next to Zack and took control of the wheel.” He removed his pipe from his shirt pocket. Puffs of translucent smoke soon filled the room. “But it worked out.”
Hands on her hips, Patricia glowered. “Worked out! Are you kidding? What should have been a romantic reunion has made Samantha even more upset.” Patricia shook her head. “Samantha and Zack are perfect for each other. It’s beyond me why that boy broke her heart and now is making matters worse by threatening the Dairy Delight.” She narrowed her eyes. “You don’t seem too surprised over Zack’s plans. Did you already know about this?”
Angus squirmed in his seat. “Ah, well.”
“You did. Angus Murray, I can see it in your eyes. You’ve known all about this and didn’t tell me. This is why you’ve been gone so much lately. I’ll bet you and Thaddeus have been over there watching every move he’s made.”
“The boy is doing a top-rate job restoring the buildings. I can’t tell you how pleased Thaddeus is. You know how much that place meant to him.”
“What about Zack’s disregard for Samantha and the Dairy Delight?”
“Patricia, we’ve watched over our family for three generations. And no matter what problem occurs, they manage to work it out.”
Patricia threw up her arms in exasperation. “Sometimes situations need to be helped along. Samantha is on her way to confront Zack. Go over there and see what happens.”
“You want me to spy on my great-great-granddaughter?”
“Yes. It’s for her own good.”
“Why don’t you go?”
“Because Thaddeus is your friend, not mine. Besides, I promised Virginia Bradly I’d visit this afternoon. You know how lonely she gets when her family is gone.”
Angus sighed, then stood. He placed his pipe in his pocket, adjusted his suspenders, straightened his bow tie, kissed his wife’s cheek, and vanished.
Debby lives on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, with her husband, David. Besides writing, she enjoys biking, walking on the beach and a glass of wine at sunset. Her favorite places to visit are New Orleans, New York City, Captiva Island in Florida, the Cotswolds of England, and her home state of Michigan. She is a history buff who also enjoys reading murder mysteries, time travel, and, of course, romance. Visually impaired since childhood by Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), she uses screen-reading software to research and write her books.
Sundae My Love, in the Two Scoops or One anthology from The Wild Rose Press, will be released June 30. Her other books are Mountain Blaze, His Magic Touch, Decorated to Death, Rue Toulouse, and The Silver Crescent.
Please help me welcome Kathy Otten with her new release, HEART OF ASH, a M/M Historical Romance Short Story…
Eleven Days—The Life Expectancy of a World War One Pilot
Captain Elliot Bainbridge and Lieutenant Harry March, the characters in my new, historical romance short story Heart of Ash, are British pilots in the Royal Flying Corps, fighting during World War I.
While the notion of becoming a pilot at the forefront of aviation, these eager, young pilots, many of whom were in their late teens and early twenties, were only given an average of seventeen hours of instruction (expanded to fifty hours later in the war), with as little as five hours of flying time in planes they would not fly in combat. Approximately 8,000 pilots died during training between 1914 and 1918. If they survived, they were sent to France to fight Germans who had better planes and better training.
Once stationed in France, pilots engaged in dogfights in machines made of canvas, wire, and wood. They had few instruments and would have to flip the engine off and on to slow down for landing. They flew without parachutes. Averaged together, this gave a pilot in the early part of the war a life expectancy of eleven days.
Over confidence was usually fatal, while self-doubt could give a pilot the edge he needed to stay alive. Eventually, the more flight and combat experience a pilot gained, the better his chances of survival.
While these men played football, drank, and sang together, they seldom allowed themselves to grow close. Sometimes they never knew each other’s full name. Men were there and then they were gone. Speaking about death aloud was avoided at all cost. Instead, when a pilot was killed, they spoke of it in obscure terms, such as, “So and So has gone west.” They believed each man had predetermined amount of luck and worried about the day that luck would run out. Nightmares were common. Nothing was more terrifying to these young men, than the possibility of burning to death. Some men kept a loaded pistol in the cockpit, and a few chose to jump to their death rather than burn.
The plane Elliot, the hero in my story, flew was a French plane, the Nieuport 11, which had been designed to counter the Fokker Scourge in 1916, the summer my story takes place. The biggest disadvantage the Nieuport had was that it didn’t have an interrupter gear, which the Germans had developed for their planes, allowing the machine gun to fire through the propellor. The Nieuport had its Lewis machine gun mounted on the top wing. A cable ran from the trigger to the pilot enabling him to fire the weapon. The gun used a Foster mount system which allowed the pilot to drop the gun down to change the drum, rather than forcing him to stand in order to reload.
Another problem was that sometimes during high-speed dives, the lower wing would stagger and the fabric could rip off.
Despite the level of danger a pilot faced, to the men confined in the mud of the trenches and the terror of no-mans-land, looking up to see a plane soar through the sky was a life to envy. The newspapers glorified that notion by creating heroic Aces to encourage the people at home about the war rather than putting the focus on depressingly high statistics of infantry death rates. Thus, the myth of the heroic pilot was born.
But while the life of a pilot was easier than living in a trench, it was no less dangerous, and for the two heroes in my story, they each had to decide whether or not it was worth risking their hearts.
In the skies over France during the Great War, the life expectancy of a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps is measured in days. Captain Elliot “Ash” Bainbridge is certain he’ll be the next pilot sent spinning to earth in a ball of fire. Not because the Germans will shoot him down, but because God will punish him for daring to love another man. When Ash met Lieutenant Harry March, their attraction was instant. But Harry hates Ash’s fatalistic attitude. He believes in capturing the moment. Can Ash set aside his fear of death and take a chance on love? Or should he try to keep his heart safe from hurt forever?
“You can’t…we can’t clutter our minds with lust or friendship, whatever this is. You can’t face the Huns if your perceptions are dulled thinking of me, or I you. Up there we must keep clear minded.”
March shook his head. The gold of early morning light reflected a glimmer of sadness in his eyes. “I can’t do that. Every time we go up, I watch your tail. I can’t think of you in the same way as the rest of this lot.”
“You must, because whether it’s a Fokker or another Albatros, it won’t matter after today.”
Published author, book coach, and developmental editor, Kathy lives in the rolling farmland of Western New York. Her novels and short stories are filled with wounded heroes and feisty heroines. Her Civil War novel, A Place in Your Heart was a Northwest Houston RWA Lone Star winner, and her historical western Lost Hearts, a Utah/Salt Lake RWA Hearts of the West finalist. An active member of Pennwriters, Inc., and leads an area critique group. Kathy teaches fiction writing at the local adult education center and presents workshops on-line as well as at conferences and author events. When she’s not writing, Kathy can be found walking her German Shepherd, Henry, through the woods and fields near her home, or curling up with her cat and a good book.
Please help me welcome today’s guest, Susan Antony…
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am an aspiring Renaissance woman who never shies from a challenge. Not only do I have a degree in the Liberal Arts, I have a degree in Automotive Technology. Currently, I work in the IT department at a local Charleston hospital. I live with my teenaged son and two behaviorally-challenged Cairn Terriers. Pre-covid, to maintain my sanity, I cherished Friday evenings dancing the night away! Now, I dance in my backyard.
Are there any tricks, habits or superstitions you have when creating a story?
I create my entire novel in my head while I’m driving or taking long walks. I play with characters for a year or more before putting them on paper so they are very real to me. Sometimes they surprise me. They’ll hijack my story and lead it in another direction.
Do you collect anything?
Anything Mid Century. My house is filled with furniture, lamps, knickknacks and art from the ‘50s, ‘60’s, and ‘70s.
What’s the main thing that you could get rid of in your life that would give you more writing time?
My goal is to one day not need my day job and support myself entirely by writing.
What do you want readers to come away with after they read your book?
That the world is not only black and white. Things that happen to us are not always visible on the surface. And finally, the decisions we make can change the course of our lives.
Would you rather have a bad review or no review?
I don’t mind bad reviews. First, I consider the source and do research if necessary. Then, I peruse all critiques carefully, weed out things I decide are insignificant, and revel or learn from the rest. In my mind, any publicity is good publicity. What’s that saying? One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. When I was starting out, my harshest critic taught me the most. Had I not listened to him, I might not be doing this interview now.
What genre have you never written that you’d like to write?
I am currently working on a YA Historical. I never thought I’d go in that direction, but once my characters started speaking to me, I couldn’t help but to write down their words.
What do you want your tombstone to say?
Forever young. She never gave up.
How much of the book is realistic?
I’d say 80 percent of the book is realistic. 20 percent is fantasy, or maybe magical realism. There are no creatures or mythical beings in It Happened on Thunder Road. Everything that occurs, happens involves characters in human form.
Thank you, Susan. I enjoyed getting to know you! (love your bio pic! :))
Rockabilly lives in new release, It Happened On Thunder Road
Hang on, baby, for the ride of your life
We faced each other for a beat or two. Then he placed his arm around my shoulder and took my hand in his, positioning his body a respectable distance away. We danced, slow and reserved at first, but as the singer’s wails intensified, so did Charlie’s moves. His hips swayed from side to side, and he inched closer to me, smidgen by smidgen, until his pelvis ground against my hipbones.
Our bodies melded, moving together in perfect synchronicity. Side to side. Back and forth. He moved his hand to my lower back and pulled me closer. I took in a quick, sharp breath. He
“You know, baby,” he murmured, “You and me have more than chemistry. We have fire. Not the easy kind of fire you can make from a box of matches, but the kind of fire you get when you rub two sticks together. I’m all yours if you want me.”
The world around me blurred as if I were watching it through thick lenses. I imagined Charlie’s lips against mine. I imagined him shirtless, propped above me, his triceps bulging as he slowly lowered his chest—mine rising toward his, beckoning him closer. He groaned a low animal-like sound. It drew me to him.
And I wanted him bad.
I wanted our bodies to burn in Hell together for all eternity.
What was happening? Had I lost my mind? I wasn’t ready. Was I?
Spasms of panic surged from my loins to the deepest recesses in my brain. In a sharp snap, the imaginary lenses cracked, and through the broken glass was a clear image of a boy with kind eyes and a halo of yellow hair.
Keir was my angel, and I was dancing with the devil. A devil who would betray his brother. A devil who would convince me to betray him as well.
I shuddered and pressed my free hand, fiercely against his shoulder. He clutched me tighter.
“Charlie, please. We can’t do this.”
“Why not?” he demanded.
I took in a long, ragged breath. “Because I don’t want to hurt Keir. He likes me.”
He forced a laugh and loosened his grip. My hand slipped from his, and he leaned toward me. His chin brushed against my cheek, and flesh bumps shimmied down my spine.
“That was the right answer, New Jersey,” he whispered in a throaty voice. “Welcome to the gang.”
( Also will be available at other retailer in digital formats.)
Susan Antony, author of the award-winning novel, Cherokee Summer, is an IT by day, hip-shaker and writer by night, artist whenever possible, and an internet addict. She lives in the sunny south with her teenage son and two Cairn Terriers. Her second soon-to-be-released novel, It Happened on Thunder Road, took first place in the South Eastern Writers Association 2020 Contest.
Please help me welcome today’s guest, Sadira Stone…
I’m thrilled to introduce Eddie Volkov and Rosie Chu, the romantic leads in my just-released sexy contemporary romance Opposites Ignite: Bangers Tavern Romance 2.
Skinny, shy, and strait-laced, Eddie works as barback at Bangers Tavern and has been crushing on Rosie since the day they met at work. He’s keeping a secret from his family: instead of taking over their dry-cleaning business, he wants to open his own bar. Inspired by his Russian heritage, Dacha Vodka Bar will feature Russian dumplings and a hundred varieties of vodka, plus craft beer and wines from Washington State, since he’s located in Tacoma.
Curvy, blue-haired, tattooed, and flirtatious, Rosie Chu loves her work at Bangers Tavern but aspires to become a professional tattoo artist. Kissing Eddie under the mistletoe at work leads to more than she bargained for, and now she must figure out how such a mismatched couple could possibly work. Guys like Eddie never stick around with girls like her.
Food plays a huge role in this love story, from the endless varieties of tater tots served at Bangers Tavern, to the Russian goodies Eddie’s mom pushes on the couple, as well as Asian fusion treats they sample on their dates. Here’s Eddie and Rosie talking about their favorites:
Rosie: “You’re charming, Eddie, and cute, and a great kisser, but what really won me over was all the Russian dumplings. What are those steamed ones called again? The ones your grandma made for New Year’s Day?”
Eddie: “Pelmeni. They’re killer, right? You were a good sport to try Mom’s chocolate salami.”
Rosie: “What are you talking about? It was delish, even if it does look a little like a turd. And who could resist a guy who brought me pirozhki on one of the crappiest days of my life?”
Eddie: “Well, fried dumplings can cure pretty much anything. They’re pretty heavy, though, not like those fresh spring rolls we had downtown.”
Rosie: “Stay on my good side and I’ll make some for you.”
Eddie: “And those spicy Korean chicken wings? Wow. Plus, you looked really hot licking the sauce off your fingers.”
Rosie: “Food is seductive, right? Remember how you won me back with a platter of onion-Swiss-bacon tots?”
Eddie: “What can I say? It makes my inner caveman happy to feed my woman.”
Here are a few links, in case you want to try some traditional Russian treats.
Find all of this, plus cocktail recipes from Bangers Tavern, in Opposites Ignite!
A mismatch sparks the hottest flames.
Blue-haired, buxom, and bodacious, server Rosie needs her job at Bangers Tavern, where her work family adores her weirdness and supports her hunt for a tattoo apprenticeship. When too much New Year’s bubbly tumbles her into a sweet, shy coworker’s bed, she craves more. But guys like Eddie never stick with girls like her.
Strait-laced, soft-spoken, and skinny, barback Eddie has a huge crush on his curvy, tattooed coworker. Their New Year’s surprise is a dream come true—until grandma walks in on them. Eddie begs Rosie to fake-date him to appease his old-fashioned family. He’s already keeping secrets, so what’s the harm in one more? But the longer he pretends with Rosie, the deeper he falls.
Their boss lays down the law: No relationship drama at work, or you’re fired. Rosie’s everything Eddie ever wanted—but to keep her, he’ll have to drop a terrifying truth bomb on his loving but stifling family. And Rosie must trust her bruised heart with the guy who nearly crushed it.
Come back to Bangers Tavern for a steamy, laugh-out-loud, opposites-attract romance that ignites in all the worst ways—and the best!
But why did Dawn hang mistletoe from the bar’s ceiling if she didn’t want people to kiss? Eddie would wait until the boss was in her office, then find some excuse to linger beneath that clump of green, his eyebrows flicking up in a flirtatious question. You wanna?
Damn it, she did wanna. His crooked smile was so tempting. And his lips were so soft, his kisses so sweet—unlike the slobbery mauling she got from most guys she dated. Desire simmered under his cool surface, making her want to dive deeper.
New Year’s Eve served up the perfect excuse. When the bar staff toasted the new year, it was so easy to land in Eddie’s arms. So easy to keep dancing as their coworkers filed out, leaving them alone beneath the kitschy disco ball, its dizzy sparkle whirling them around and around.
And now he slept beside her, sunlight glinting off his wavy brown hair, glossy lashes fanned across his cheekbones, dark scruff shadowing his razor-sharp jaw. So pretty, so vulnerable, so one hundred percent wrong for her. Clean-cut guys like Eddie never stuck around with girls like her. God knows she’d bashed her head against that brick wall enough times to learn her lesson.
Breath held, she gingerly removed his hand from her breast and wriggled toward the edge of the bed. Eddie sighed and squirmed into the space she’d vacated, nuzzling her pillow. No, she corrected herself, his pillow. Gotta get out of here.
Rising on unsteady legs, she turned back for a final look. Sleep melted his solemn daytime expression into peaceful sweetness. His bare shoulders rose on a shiver. As she bent to tuck the quilt around him, her boob brushed his arm.
“Huh?” His eyes fluttered open. His brow rumpled, then smoothed as a bleary smile spread across his pillow-creased face. “Good morning,” he croaked and pushed up on his elbow. His gaze sharpened as it raked over her naked body. “Wow.”
“Yeah. Wow.” She waved a limp hand over the bed. “Last night was, uh—really something.” She shuffled backward, stifling the impulse to cover her bits. After all, he’d seen every inch of her. He’d sampled it all, too. Twice, if she recalled correctly. The details were still kind of blurry, but she remembered lots of giggling, Eddie’s silky hair tickling her inner thighs, the slap of flesh on flesh, and a climax so powerful she nearly blacked out.
Ever since her first kiss, Sadira’s been spinning steamy tales in her head. After leaving her teaching career in Germany, she finally tried her hand at writing one. Now she’s a happy citizen of Romancelandia, penning contemporary romance from her new home in Washington State, U.S.A. When not writing, which is seldom, she explores the Pacific Northwest with her charming husband, enjoys the local music scene, plays darts (pretty well), plays guitar (badly), and gobbles all the books. Visit Sadira at http://www.sadirastone.com.
I’d love to hear from you! Please visit me on all the socials.
I’m pleased to share my re-release of Cupid’s Beau through The Wild Rose Press – Just in time for Valentine’s Day!
I love to create fictional locations for my stories, and I always try to attach some kind of meaning to them. For Cupid’s Beau, I set it in Wisconsin because I wanted it to be a wintry setting and because my favorite NFL team is the Packers. For the name of the town I chose Castleville. It’s a play on Castle Rock, from Stephen King novels, and a town I lived in as a child for a brief, idyllic time, Cassville, Missouri. (Technically, we didn’t really ‘live’ in Cassville. We lived in some odd Bermuda triangle type location that was a mash up of Exeter, Washburn and Cassville, but we attended Cassville schools, so that’s what I went with 😊)
Ivy Pierce is a Cupid who prides herself on doing her job well. Except when it comes to a certain human male, Grant Crawford. Each time she’s supposed to shoot her arrow into his heart, her stomach hurts, her chest hurts, and she feels….sad. Cupids are never sad.
Humans who are not looking for love only get three chances to find it. And after Ivy sabotages Grant’s last chance, her boss, Aphrodite, sends her to earth to right her wrong. She has until Valentine’s Day to help him find his soul mate.
But the more she’s around him, the more she wants him for herself, even though she knows that can never be. A Cupid and a human? Unheard of.
As V-Day draws closer, can she sacrifice her own happiness to help the man she loves find his?
He helped Gretchen into her coat and walked her to her car. She hesitated before climbing inside the door he held open. Did she expect a goodnight kiss? Snow had started, and he wanted to get back in, so he leaned forward. She lifted her lips, and he gave them a quick kiss. “Goodnight, Gretchen. I had a nice time.”
Her expression showed disappointment, but she didn’t voice it. She slid in the driver’s seat. He closed the door and watched while she backed out of the parking spot and headed down the road.
Before going in, he glanced down the street. A woman was outside a small cottage half a block away. Was that Ivy? What was she doing outside, in the dark, with a blizzard brewing?
None of his business. He turned toward the restaurant, but didn’t go in. What if something was wrong? If she was hurt? How would he feel if he didn’t at least go check on her? Cursing under his breath, he whirled and stalked down the sidewalk to her house.
“Ivy? What are you doing out here?”
She turned to him, her eyes wide. She wore a white coat with a fur hood framing her face. “Grant! Hi. Isn’t it beautiful?”
He blew into his hands and rubbed them briskly together. “It’s freezing. Are you out of your mind?”
She closed her eyes and stuck out her tongue, trapping a snowflake and swallowing. She looked at him. “You try it. It’s wonderful.”
He nearly groaned with irritation. “I don’t have time—”
She took his hand, her soft, gloveless skin warm on his. “Just try it.”
Letting out a heavy sigh, he groaned again. The sooner he acquiesced, the sooner he could leave. He stuck out his tongue. Icy snowflakes drifted into his mouth. Nope. He still didn’t get it.
She squealed. “Wasn’t it great?”
Her green eyes sparkled, the pink in her cheeks making her look…heart stoppingly lovely.
He hadn’t seen anyone show such pure joy in…well, ever. Especially in something so insignificant. He looked up into the sky. Snow drifted down from the blanket of blackness. The Heavens dumping an icy wonderland on Earth. Nature was amazing. While he didn’t exactly share Ivy’s enthusiasm, maybe it wasn’t so insignificant after all.
Hello and welcome to the third of my posts about a brand new series of 13 suspenseful “Friday the 13th” short stories, each by a different author.
Today, I am happy to share Dianne McCartney’s “Vanity Kills” – Now available for pre-order…releasing Nov 13.
The subject of body-shaming has always interested me. I have a tall, stocky build and my daughter is on the other end of the spectrum, yet we have both suffered this behavior, mostly from other women. Those experiences are what spawned this story.
Detective Marcus Flint is hot on the trail of a demented killer. His initial victim, Carla Sharkley, is found with her body altered to look much bigger than her real size. Her face is made up like a clown’s. What bizarre message is this twisted killer trying to send?
Further investigation links her to a group of high school friends, cheerleaders, who were known bullies. Is the killer one of the victims of their abuse?
A search for similar crimes reveals several suspicious deaths, one in Marcus’s home state of Tennessee and two more out of state. All occurred on Friday the 13th.
When Marcus meets the lovely Eleanor Trask, one of the targets of their abuse, he is more determined than ever to solve this case. All bets are off, though, when the killer goes off script to reach his final goal.
Will Eleanor become his final sacrifice?
At one forty-five, he headed down to the morgue. Dr. Georges Appel, the medical examiner, wouldn’t let anyone in to watch the autopsy unless they were present from the beginning. A fastidious man, he made an excellent medical detective, never missing a thing.
He grunted a hello as his assistant set up the equipment. Autopsies were not for the faint of heart, but it had never bothered Marcus. His old trainer had advised him to think of the body as a box that no longer contains a person. It had helped.
The doctor entered the room, washing his hands at the sink before putting on gloves. “Your victim was dressed in size twenty clothes, even though she is perhaps a size six without the padding.”
He explained the reason behind the subterfuge or their best guess about it.
“People can be so odd. Is this his only victim?”
“We haven’t confirmed yet, but I don’t think so. We found a similar case upstate.”
“Before we begin, I assume you noted that she had signs of being restrained on her wrists. Probably handcuffs.”
“I did. Thank you.”
The doctor murmured his observations into a recorder as he worked, beginning with the surface examination of the skin, fingernails and toenails, taking scrapings. Y-shaped incision to open the torso. The initial blow to the heart had been the death blow. On examining it, he said, “Very deep, you see. Your killer is strong. The knife was likely a hunting knife, kept quite sharp as the edges are crisp. Maybe six or seven inches long.”
“Do you think the strike to the heart was intentional and the others were random?”
“Yes. He’s making a comment, don’t you think?”
He continued to work. “She didn’t bleed much after the initial wound, because the heart stopped beating. He accomplished his task very quickly. The poor girl never had a chance.”
Dianne McCartney is an award-winning writer, speaker and contest judge from Canon City, Colorado. Her books, Just One Night, The Daughter of Death and The Road to Justice are published by The Wild Rose Press. A long-standing member of the OWFI and The Rose Rock Writers, she has sixty writing awards from contests in Oklahoma, Texas and Tennessee.