Tag Archives: suspense

June Featured Books – Find New & Amazing Authors!!! #AHAgrp #BookWorm #AmReading #Ebooks

Looking for something new and fabulous to read? Try these…

With her stepfather’s sudden death, Lady Anastasia Covington goes from living a privileged lifestyle to selling vegetables in the village marketplace in the blink of an eye. Alone and at the mercy of her nefarious stepsister, she yearns for love and acceptance.

Disguised as a simple soldier, Prince Percival catches a dark-haired emerald-eyed beauty in his arms. He is bewitched. The more he sees her, the more intrigued he is by her contradictions. Forced to keep his identity a secret, he must somehow convince Lady Anastasia he is the right man for her.

But time is running out. Lady Anastasia’s mother is determined to find a proper suitor and see her wed –and someone wants her dead.

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After a family crisis, Katie Hathaway must return home to help out in the family’s ice cream shop. She leaves behind her dream job of teaching ballroom dance to spend her summer scooping ice cream and mixing milkshakes.

Chaz Hollander, Katie’s high school crush, has also returned to town to work in his family’s business. After Katie treats him to a blueberry swirl sundae, he invites her to the town’s upcoming dance. The only problem is he has two left feet.

When Katie starts giving Chaz dance lessons, their chemistry ignites, and the postponement of her dream doesn’t seem as ominous. But financial woes and a suspicious business deal cast a shadow on their budding relationship.

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After one concussion too many, Ben Leit is done as the NFL’s golden boy quarterback. Then his father, who was about to expose a bombshell sports scandal, is murdered.

Mimi Fitzroy, CIO for Rex Sports International, panics as she discovers thousands of stolen emails that prove Rex is breaking federal laws—big time. As Ben and Mimi work together to find a killer, they also find a connection they weren’t expecting and didn’t want.

They are headed for an explosive showdown in Seattle…and not everyone will walk away.

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If you’ve never lost a loved one, it’s hard to imagine the excruciating pain that goes along with it.
When a parent or someone close to you is sick, dying or has passed away, it’s agonizing, painful and hard to navigate the details that lie ahead.
We’re normally not educated on the process of handling these types of tasks because it isn’t something that happens frequently.
After sharing my journey with close friends, I learned many of them had never been through this before and had no idea about all the details involved.
I kept a log of every single task my husband and I took care of during the entire time Mom was sick, until she passed away, and afterwards, and the list was quite large.
I recapped my own experiences and compiled a list of questions and checklists that quite frankly would’ve been helpful for me. I’m hoping that what I’ve created will help you plan for when a parent or loved one passes. The questions and checklists are meant to help the ones left behind and are located at the end of the book.
For instance, I had no idea what a financial power of attorney was or that it had an expiration date.
I also didn’t know exactly what hospice did or what kinds of services were offered in an assisted living facility, nor how to place an obituary or even how to write one.
Going through loss is a terrible experience but having some insight, checklists and questions to ask might make your process easier.
This book is helpful for:
•Senior citizens who have done no planning or have health conditions.
•Midlife parents who haven’t started planning yet.
•Young parents who want to plan early in life.
•Young adults who may have the unfortunate task of handling a parent’s estate.
•Anybody wanting to make their sure assets are protected.
The information provided is meant to get you thinking about planning for the future. It isn’t meant to make you uncomfortable or scare you.
I hope you find the book and the tools helpful.

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May Featured Books – Find New & Amazing Authors!!! #BookWorm #AmReading #Ebooks

Looking for something new and fabulous to read? Try these…

With her stepfather’s sudden death, Lady Anastasia Covington goes from living a privileged lifestyle to selling vegetables in the village marketplace in the blink of an eye. Alone and at the mercy of her nefarious stepsister, she yearns for love and acceptance.

Disguised as a simple soldier, Prince Percival catches a dark-haired emerald-eyed beauty in his arms. He is bewitched. The more he sees her, the more intrigued he is by her contradictions. Forced to keep his identity a secret, he must somehow convince Lady Anastasia he is the right man for her.

But time is running out. Lady Anastasia’s mother is determined to find a proper suitor and see her wed –and someone wants her dead.

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Xi San saved the life of a mysterious girl one night in his ravaged San Francisco neighborhood. He can’t get her out of his mind, but believes that she’s lost to him.

Lin Kwan came to America to bring her scientist father Chinese medicinal herbs, hoping to stop the virus that killed most of the world’s Caucasians before it mutates to infect the rest of the world. On her way to finding him, she meets again the man who once saved her, a man she can’t forget.

With a diverse group of fellow travelers, they head for St. Louis, where civilization is being rebuilt. Between them and safety, danger lurks—Gabriel, a self-styled religious leader and white supremacist, who has organized his army from Upper Midwest survivalist and militia followers, determined to take revenge for the white man.

But Gabriel isn’t their only enemy. Before they reach their destination, they will battle nature, prejudice and even those hidden among them who wish their destruction.

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After one concussion too many, Ben Leit is done as the NFL’s golden boy quarterback. Then his father, who was about to expose a bombshell sports scandal, is murdered.

Mimi Fitzroy, CIO for Rex Sports International, panics as she discovers thousands of stolen emails that prove Rex is breaking federal laws—big time. As Ben and Mimi work together to find a killer, they also find a connection they weren’t expecting and didn’t want.

They are headed for an explosive showdown in Seattle…and not everyone will walk away.

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When three people’s lives collide in a perfect storm of heartbreak and ruin, betrayal and love, will they be destroyed or transformed by their fate? They are drawn to coastal South Carolina to an oceanfront Victorian B & B inn, fleeing their former lives of heartbreak, betrayal, anger, racism and grief. Jade Armstrong from Santa Barbara is newly divorced and left with nothing by her treacherous, lying ex-husband. Gabriel Montoro of San Antonio is reeling from a cheating wife and loss of his young daughter who moves out of state. Rick Stirling owns the inn and has suffered a devastating personal loss.

Jade vows revenge while believing she deserves a new life. Gabriel believes a good life is only for fairytales and something he’ll never have. He vows to break hearts and spirits as his own have been broken. Rick’s life is one of purely work with no room for anything else but sorrow. None of them want love or relationship, but as they move into and through the emotional storm of their lives, destiny brings them together in an extraordinary way in the quaint beach town of Golden Shores.

Through work and friendship, their inner conflicts extend to each other while vying for the need for survival, healing, attraction and love. The plot twists keep the reader guessing if and how they resolve their issues, and if they move on separately or together.

The story takes place in the Grand Strand region of coastal South Carolina providing a restorative, inspiring seaside setting. A charming oceanfront inn complete with mystical, enchanting elements lifts the characters’ spirits and helps them on their journeys. Their passionate triangle must be broken for them to move on with their lives, but who ends up with whom, or do they, and when?

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April Featured Books – Find New & Amazing Authors!!! #BookWorm #AmReading #Ebooks

Looking for something new and fabulous to read? Try these…

 

Should she live in fear, or turn to the man who she once rejected?

Lady Pamela Manning has happily made her home in Bath after several disastrous Seasons in London. Although she sings like an angel, Pamela cannot complete a full sentence without stuttering.

The life of a social recluse with two friends whom she adores is fine with her, and she easily dismisses the attentions of Mr. Nicolas Smith, the owner of an exclusive gambling club in Bath. However, something strange is going on in the boarding house where she lives, and she is afraid she has accidentally stumbled into a dangerous situation.

Who else can she turn to, except a man who grew up on the streets and the most likely person to help and protect her?
Mr. Nicolas Smith.

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They had no idea how much their lives would change…forever.

Imani Karunzika is fiercely independent and refuses to be forced into a loveless marriage with the domineering man her parents want for her. When her friend Crown Prince Wasim al-Hassan of Barrakesch learns he’ll be passed over for the throne because he has no wife, she suggests a plan where they enter into a fake engagement. He can then secure his birthright, and she can get her parents off her back.

But the marriage must proceed as planned. Wasim becomes the king, she becomes the queen and is now under the rule of a man whose power and authority is unmatched. But Imani’s greatest struggle lies not within the walls of the palace, but inside herself as she fights to keep the ultimate secret—that she’s madly in love with the king.

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After one concussion too many, Ben Leit is done as the NFL’s golden boy quarterback. Then his father, who was about to expose a bombshell sports scandal, is murdered.

Mimi Fitzroy, CIO for Rex Sports International, panics as she discovers thousands of stolen emails that prove Rex is breaking federal laws—big time. As Ben and Mimi work together to find a killer, they also find a connection they weren’t expecting and didn’t want.

They are headed for an explosive showdown in Seattle…and not everyone will walk away.

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This is the telling of Hashké and Arianna.

Arianna Galloway is having a hell of a day. From being so excited about a new job, to being stranded alone on a desolate road in New Mexico. A lover of hiking, she decides to embrace the unexpected free time she now has and explore the area. She’s lured into a cave by the trickster Navajo god, Coyote, where she accidentally discovers a portal and is thrust into the past.

Hashké, a Navajo warrior, is forced into a life of a cowboy instead of the warrior he is meant to be. He must wrangle mustangs to help his brothers buy back his sister, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. In the midst of a hunt, he rescues Arianna from being torn apart by a wolf pack. Now he must decide if he will go along with the Navajo ways and help someone in need or stay true to his baser feelings of hatred toward the white people who have murdered his parents and let this white woman die.

Arianna’s eyes are opened to the ways of native American healing as Hashke’ nurses her back to health, and Hashke’ learns that not all white people are evil. Arianna embraces the Navajo culture and the unconditional love of Hashke’ and her new place in time and space. Settled and happy, Arianna’s contentment doesn’t last as they hear of the horrible conditions the captured Navajo are being held in. She knows that her warrior and his brothers must act to save the Navajo tribe from withering away in internment. Can they make it out of this time alive?

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Bio-terrorists release a plague in the United States that spreads to kill most of the world’s Caucasian population. As the deadly virus mutates, Tzu Shin, a renowned medical doctor and biologist, defects from China to help develop a cure. His only daughter, Lin Kwan, is left behind in Hong Kong with her aunt.

Then Kwan’s father summons her from across the sea to bring him Chinese medicinal herbs he needs to develop a cure. Lonely and missing her parents, she accepts the challenge, traveling with her sensei Li Zhong to the New World.

But a Chinese assassin is on her trail, determined to kill her and Li Zhong, and when Kwan discovers her father has disappeared, she sets out on a journey to find him and deliver her precious cargo, a quest that she may not survive.

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A devastating earthquake that rocked Southern California turns Jill Cassidy’s life upside down, but the quake is nothing compared to what looms on the horizon. Armed with determination and an incomplete graduate degree in geology, Jill embarks on a dangerous journey through a world of elves and monsters she had no idea existed.

Fae-prince Alden watched in horror as one of his own people released the Kolgardi, a hive intelligent race of monsters. Now the ancient evil roams free, feeding on humans and gaining in strength. Despite a judgment laid against him for a crime Alden didn’t commit, he is willing to risk execution to right the wrong and stop what awaits humanity.

Together, with a cynical reporter, Thomas Rainer, the unlikely trio stands together, determined to stop the Kolgardi. Can they save mankind from extinction?

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17 Alicia Dean Ebooks – 99¢ each!!! #99Cents #BookWorm #EbookSale #Kindle99Cents #OklahomaAuthor

Sheltering at home? Running out of books to read? For a limited time, a select group of my Ebooks are on sale for only 99 cents. Enjoy…stay safe!

Mystery/Suspense/Romance:

Paranormal Romance:

Vintage Romance:

Gothic Mystery Romance:

Romance with Suspense Elements:

10 stories: mystery, paranormal, and romance

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March Featured Books – Find New & Amazing Authors!!! #BookWorm

Looking for something new and fabulous to read? Try these…

Beth Leighton moved to Scotland to marry the love of her life. But then he betrays her and she is fatally shot. However the Archangel Remiel interferes, and she awakes to find herself in 18th century England. Alive but confused and lost, she wants to go home. Despite a roguish and handsome highwayman.

Christopher “Kit” Locke is haunted by his past mistakes and lives on danger’s edge, not caring if he lives or dies. He will leave that choice to Fate. Intrigued by the spirited Beth, he is drawn from his spiraling descent and is enlisted to help steal an evil artifact, the Viper’s Eye, a demonic soul-stealing jewel.

While the Archangel and the Duke of Hell battle it out, both Beth and Kit must also fight evil. When the stone seeks Kit’s soul can Beth’s love keep him from falling victim to the Viper’s Eye or will she lose Kit to Hell’s fire?

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Caryn Orlane has law enforcement in her blood; her father was a cop, and his father, too. She’s a federal agent in northwest Montana, protecting the old forests and keeping the peace.
Levi Bradshaw also believes in protecting the forests, but has a very different MO. He’s the leader of a group of eco-warriors, determined to save the trees of the Bitterroot by legal—and illegal—means.
When they meet in the woods at gunpoint, their encounter ignites a spark of interest, despite operating on opposite sides of the law. When their worlds turn on them, they only grow closer. If they don’t work together, can either survive?

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After one concussion too many, Ben Leit is done as the NFL’s golden boy quarterback. Then his father, who was about to expose a bombshell sports scandal, is murdered.

Mimi Fitzroy, CIO for Rex Sports International, panics as she discovers thousands of stolen emails that prove Rex is breaking federal laws—big time. As Ben and Mimi work together to find a killer, they also find a connection they weren’t expecting and didn’t want.

They are headed for an explosive showdown in Seattle…and not everyone will walk away.

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1972 – Vietnam, the pill, upheaval, hippies.
Wyoming rancher Cooper Byrnes, deeply attached to the land and his way of life, surprises everyone when he falls for vagabond hippie Cassie Halliday. Fascinated and baffled, he cannot comprehend his attraction—or say the words she wants to hear.

Cassie finds Coop intriguingly different. As she keeps house for him and warms his bed at night, she admits to herself she loves him but she misinterprets Coop’s inability to express his feelings.

Parted, each continues to think of the other, but how can either of them reach out to say, “You were ‘always on my mind’?”

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In the sleepy coastal Maine town of Penhallow, a stranger dies on a train, drawing Historical Society Director, Rachel Tinker, and curmudgeonly retired professor, Griffin Tate, into a spider’s web of archaeological obsession and greed. With the help of the victim’s rival, they set out to locate the Queen of Sheba’s tomb. Their plans are stymied when a tug of war erupts between the sheriff and a state police detective who want to arrest the same man for different crimes. It’s up to Rachel to solve a mystery that includes two more murders, if she wants to unlock the soft heart that beats under Griffin’s hard crust.

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“Lessons From Rejection” by Olive Balla

Please help me welcome Olive Balla with an article all writers should read…

“Lessons From Rejection” by Olive Balla

For the umpteenth time, I click my cursor through the terse, to-the-point emailed responses to my latest barrage of agent queries. Thanks, but no thanks; Unfortunately, your work is not a good fit for our agency; and finally, the dreaded: This is in no way meant to reflect on the quality of your writing, keep it up.

“I’m seventy years old; the clock’s ticking,” my internal doomsday prophet intones. How many increments of a typical six-month waiting period do I have left? I don’t even buy green bananas.

Driven by the desire to hit that sweet spot required to find an agent willing to take a chance on my writing, I ask, “What does a good fit look like?”

Apparently, as the old saying goes, it’s different strokes for different folks. One agent’s pot-o-gold is another’s anathema. The bottom line is, how tough would an agent find it to sell my story? The shifts in the industry over the past decade alone have made it harder than ever to sell anything even remotely considered cliché, passé, overdone, or not edgy enough. To quote an agent who spoke at a writer’s convention I attended, “Please, don’t send me another story about vampires or kid wizards.” It’s a market-driven business; fads quickly come and go – emphasis on GO. To be marketable, a novel must not only be well-written, it must sizzle and pop with unique plot, peopled with and acted out by unique characters.

The latest series of rejections compelling me to action, I spend the day researching books on Amazon, paying careful attention to the back covers and blurbs to get a feel for what’s selling. Then I read my manuscript out loud, in hopes that getting another sense involved may help me spot gaps in the plot or highlight weak verbs and wonky sentences. Regardless of how many times I’ve edited, I edit again, searching for typos, misspellings, and over-use of be, am, is, are, was, were, been, or has been and have been.

If I’m still happy with my plot and character arcs, I seek and destroy anything written in passive voice – the use of which will doom even a great story.

I then move on to the Query letter. Does it sing? Does the Hook really hook? I re-read Query by C.J. Redwine and invest a day re-working my Query letter. I search the pages of the latest Guide to Literary Agents, highlighting the agencies I’ve not yet queried.

After doing everything I know to do, and as the melody of Cast Your Fate to the Wind – a golden oldie from the seventies – floats across my memory, I send out another barrage of Queries. Then I square my shoulders, open the Outline Template on my desktop, type in a working title, and begin another story.

 

Blurb: 
Eleven-year-old Jillie Ross escapes the vicious relatives threatening to flush away her beloved sister’s ashes if she doesn’t lead them to her dead father’s rumored treasure. Determined to find her sibling’s ashes and honor them along with their parents’ remains, the feisty orphan must endure harsh weather, escape a stalker, and hide from the police. But how long can she survive when at least one family member wants her dead?
Excerpt: 

Jillie dropped the metal lid as if it were red hot… Her stomach heaved, and something sour shot up her throat. Panic sent her running to the door where she pounded against the unyielding wood until the muscles in her arms cramped.  She  fell to her knees and clawed at the floor, ignoring the pain radiating up her arms from torn fingernails…The sound of approaching footsteps made the tiny hairs on the back of her neck move. Jillie snatched up the broken shovel handle and took a position in front of the door. With her legs slightly bent,, she balanced on the balls of her feet as she’d seen a martial arts professional do on television. She gripped the pole in both hands as if it were a sword, aimed its broken, pointed end at the door, and waited.

Olive Balla is a retired educator and author of two mystery/suspense novels An Arm and A Leg and Jillie published by TheWild Rose Press, Inc. A New Mexico native, Ms. Balla lives in the village of Los Lunas with her husband, her bossy puppy, and her pesky Internal Editor.
Find Olive Here:

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February Featured Books – Find New & Amazing Authors!!! #BookWorm

Looking for something new and fabulous to read? Try these…

Princess Marina Hersher is on her way to marry the prince of Brenalin when her caravan is attacked. Dressed as her servant, she decides to keep her identity a secret from the attackers. She is knocked unconscious and is rescued by the dragon, Narud. He is a creature not seen on Feldsvelt for thousands of years. During the days that follow, Marina learns more about the dragon, and finds companionship.

Duran Abass is the high prince of Brenalin and can go no farther than the dragon’s lair. Dragon and man hold a silent battle for control of their shared body in the cave where Narud intends to keep the princess. The princess knows nothing of this struggle or the dragon’s intent, but learns to love them both.

Together, Marina and Duran and even the dragon, Narud, join forces to battle against the sorceress for their lives and love.

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Eleven-year-old Jillie Ross escapes the vicious relatives threatening to flush away her beloved sister’s ashes if she doesn’t lead them to her dead father’s rumored treasure.

Determined to find her sibling’s ashes and honor them along with their parents’ remains, the feisty orphan must endure harsh weather, escape a stalker, and hide from the police. But how long can she survive when at least one family member wants her dead?

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Corinne Taylor has a secret. And it must be protected. If her mother discovers what Corinne has been hiding, Hell will not describe the place in which she will find herself. Beulah, Corinne’s mother, has proclaimed herself “queen” of Pike’s Run, and no one crosses her, especially not her daughter.

And while Corinne does what she can to guard her secret, her best efforts aren’t enough. War comes to Pike’s Run and the Taylor household when Beulah learns of her daughter’s betrayal. The battle that ensues forces Corinne to seek help from a new arrival.

Jonathan Pierce, a successful lawyer, has come to Pike’s Run looking to find solace from his past. When Corinne asks for his support, her innocence and bravery call to the needs within his broken spirit, and he can’t turn her down. She is capturing his heart, but if she ever learns of his cowardice, she will reject him, killing any hope he has left of finding love.

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Simon MacKay, the last Earl of Cleitmuir, was murdered two hundred years ago because of his family’s dangerous legacy. Alone and cursed he haunts his home in order to protect the lost treasure. A pastime that leaves him angry and embittered until he meets a feisty American Tourist. Not only is Laurel sexy and beautiful, she can also see him in his ghostly form.

Antiquities expert, Laurel Saville, leaves Chicago to visit her best friend in the romantic Scottish Highlands. She is saved from a tragic fall by the ghostly Simon. Once she realizes she is not crazy, she pledges to help him find his family’s missing artifact. A pledge hindered by treasure hunter Alex Mackenzie, a descendant of the clan that murdered Simon.

Laurel risks everything, including her life, to help Simon resolve the issues keeping him earth bound. But will she lose him forever or is there a way Laurel can keep him with her on this earthly plane?

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January Featured Books – Find New & Amazing Authors!!!

Looking for something new and fabulous to read? Try these…

Young, overworked medical intern Sarah James has no time for sleuthing. Her elderly neighbors, the spunky Fog Ladies, have nothing but time. When, one by one, old ladies die in their elegant apartment building in San Francisco, Sarah assumes the deaths are the natural consequence of growing old. The Fog Ladies assume murder.
Mrs. Bridge falls off a stool cleaning bugs out of her kitchen light. Mrs. Talwin slips on bubbles in the bath and drowns. Suddenly, the Pacific Heights building is turning over tenants faster than the fog rolls in on a cool San Francisco evening.
Sarah resists the Fog Ladies’ perseverations. But when one of them falls down the stairs and tells Sarah she was pushed, even Sarah believes evil lurks in their building. Can they find the killer before they fall victim themselves?

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Desperation fuels freelance news photographer Tempest Raines when Russian rebels kidnap her adult son. Out of options to rescue him, she dredges up her past and turns to the only man she believes can help her.

Navy SEAL Commander Chance Adams has sworn off women, but when Tempest comes to him for help, his past haunts him once again. What is it about this woman that makes him want her as much as he loathes her?

The rescue mission they undertake is fraught with danger for both Tempest and Chance, but if Tempest’s secret gets out, she isn’t sure if getting killed might not be her best option.

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The year is 1856. White pine is king of the forest.
The last thing Jonathan Wain wants to do is ride miles through Pennsylvania’s wilderness to help his father’s logging partner in the small settlement of Clearfield. His family owns clipper ships in the Chesapeake Bay that carry the coveted logs to the markets each spring, and they can’t afford a loss.
The last thing Wilhelmina Wydcliffe wants is a handsome sea captain from Maryland meddling in her father’s logging operations under attack by unknown enemies. A feisty tomboy and better known as Willie to her crews, she has a dream to be the largest logging operator east of the Mississippi River.
When both Willie’s and Jonathan’s lives are threatened, they are forced to work together to find their enemies before both of their companies are in shambles. But as their attraction to each other escalates, can they set aside their differences, unearth the truth and troublemakers, and discover contentment in each other’s arms?

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December Featured Books – Find New & Amazing Authors!!!

Looking for something new and fabulous to read? Try these…

 

Cassie O’Dey arrives in Virtue, Florida searching for information about Becca, the mother who abandoned her. While staying at the same bed and breakfast where Becca last stayed, Cassie encounters a familiar ghost.
Walker Thayner, a widower, has returned to Virtue to work on restoring the bed and breakfast his family has owned for generations. Hoping to find solace in his work, Walker has shut himself off emotionally. Despite his sullen demeanor Cassie finds herself drawn to him.
Even as hopes of a future in Virtue fill her heart, Cassie finds her thoughts drawn to the dark past of this small Florida town. Can she solve a murder that took place a quarter of a century in the past and put the ghost of Becca O’Dey to rest?

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When Professor Michael Peterson learns he has a terminal brain tumor and is faced with no other viable options, he promises complete confidentially to undergo an experimental and highly secretive operation in brain cell grafting.

While recuperating, he begins to have flashes of fragmented images that have no connection to his life. He soon realizes he is an unwilling participant in a murder plan initiated by his donor.

Drawn into a maze of deceit and danger, Michael must choose between keeping his word to the person who saved his life or making an attempt to save the life of a complete stranger.

 

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Boston ~ 1947

Iris Taggart should be ecstatic. She’s engaged to one of the wealthiest men in Boston, and he dotes on her. But, her marrying a rich man is her mother’s dream, not hers. Iris longs to be a nurse and care for others, and she’ll never have the career she wants if she marries a Boston Blue Blood. It just isn’t done.

Dante Morello returned from WWII a war hero, and now he’s a Boston detective working the South End Slayer case where a deranged killer is butchering the poor and homeless. Dante’s investigation leads him to reconnect with Iris—a girl he’s known most of his life—who is volunteering at the soup kitchen where the murderer finds his victims. When Dante learns Iris is in the killer’s sites, he’ll do whatever it takes to protect her, and not just because she’s woken something in his heart he thought he’d never feel.

But neither of them is prepared for how precarious life can be. When secrets are exposed, and a madman’s full intent is revealed, will their love…and their lives…be destroyed?

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Twice-widowed Jane Marsh ties the knot for the third time with longstanding fiancé Dale Capricorn. Jane’s ready for a celebratory reception at her uber-trendy condo in downtown Denver with champagne toasts, fancy dress, and her family and dinner club friends. Everyone knows she and Dale’s prettier and younger ex-wife Polly are “frenemies,” but Jane starts fresh and asks Polly to cater the event. However, after the last guest leaves, Jane discovers the ex-wife dead—and Jane’s the obvious suspect. If Jane doesn’t find the real killer, her third marriage certainly won’t be the charm.

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A Creole beauty. Eccentric sisters and a black rose. One granny woman and a red button. Church suppers and bingo nights. A poet out of his element. Dreams of Mexico. The shadowy world of thoroughbred horse racing. If the Creek Don’t Rise is a collection of hard-used characters, tangled relationships, family angst, and fortitude. Step into the Deep South and experience the lives and hardships, hopes and dreams, of folk who have nothing except grit—and sometimes love—as their currency.

Eighteen tales and six postcard vignettes, highlighted with artwork by Susan Raymond, make this collection a skillful and moving exploration of the commonplace, the hidden, and the unforgettable.

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President’s Award for Best Published Book, 2014, Awarded by the Ozarks Writers League
Washed in the Water: Tales from the South offers vignettes of folks living the best they know how as they reach out for redemption. Set between 1950 and 1980, each tale stares at an individual as unique as the humid landscape of the South. Hard lives, daily survival, and lessons about getting on with the business of living reverberate among the characters.

“. . . compelling, wide-ranging stories. Hartney brings to mind both Caldwell and Allison, but her voice at last is her own. ‘Last Love’ is both gritty and warm, and ‘The Fig Trees’ is deftly nuanced.”
~ Robert Cochran, Center for Arkansas and Regional Studies, University of Arkansas

“This brief collection of stories deals with such diverse experiences as a river baptism and coon hunting while it embraces emotions of love, jealousy, and altruism. The seven southern tales contain some real gems.”
~ Pat Carr, author of One Page at a Time and The Radiance of Fossils

“No better voice of the south can be found than Nancy Hartney, with her touching stories of life looked at in a most extraordinary way. Hartney writes about people we can love or despise, but most of all sympathize with and enjoy.”
~ WILLA Award-winning author Velda Brotherton

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A sweet Christmas novella to warm your heart!

When concert pianist June Westberry inherits her late grandfather’s music shop, she returns to her small hometown in New York to renovate and manage it. But she never expects to clash with the town’s ornery old music teacher, Nettie Jones who demands she find a lost, fifty-year-old holiday musical score.

Single parent and contractor, Leo Ciaffonni, enjoys restoring old buildings, and the A# Music Shop with its pretty new owner is no exception. When he’s injured, June finds herself caring for Leo and helping his little daughter bake cookies for her class.

As the holidays close in and the shop’s renovations continue, the problems June tries hard to solve only seem to become more chaotic. A# Sharp Music Shop is broken into. A harvest recital for her new students requires multifaceted planning. And the perpetrator and the lost musical score have not been found.

Will she be able to find peace and order in her new life this Christmas—and the love she’s always dreamed of?

******************************************

Joy Frost Burton lives a busy, successful life, finding comfort in the lovely home she shares with her three little boys. A widow, she isn’t looking for love again, in spite of her three younger sisters’ rather pushy encouragement.
Mysterious fate has other ideas and throws charming Sean Summers into Joy’s world again and again. Soon, however, ghosts from the past and a challenging family crisis create difficult complications.
Does Joy dare risk loss and sorrow a second time by following her wounded heart’s new rhythm?

******************************************

TV Reporter Noelle Frost enjoys life now that she’s free of her abusive ex-husband. She and her young daughter are doing quite well without a man in their lives. Then she meets a giant of a man, six-foot-ten Zave Trayce, a basketball legend. Her trust in men is damaged. Zave seems like the ultimate player on and off the court. She will have to decide if she’s brave enough to risk her heart in the game of love.

******************************************

Holly Frost has suffered from unrequited-love since she turned down Elam Holmes in high school. Years later they are still doing the “friend zone” dance. They’ve seen each other through heartbreaking loss and shared everything–except the truth. Can they break down the walls they’ve built to find love beyond friendship?

******************************************

Chrissy Frost’s self-identity has changed from “happy-go-lucky” to “broken” after losing her parents in a tragic accident the day after Christmas nearly four years ago. Every aspect of the holiday season, especially snow, has a devastating effect on her.

A work assignment where she is able to change others’ lives for better, in addition to meeting handsome, caring, caramel-delicious Decker, might spark a flame of hope in her wounded heart.

Yet there are so many bumps in the road, Chrissy’s not sure she can handle the risk of getting burned.

 

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Interview with a Villain by Olive Balla

I’m happy to have Olive Balla back on my blog. Today’s article is entertaining and informative…

Interview with a Villain       

Grinning as if I’d just won something, which I never do, I push my office chair back from the desk and toss another ball of wadded paper toward the trash can. Whoosh, it falls through the opening without touching the sides. A good omen; one which cannot be ignored.

“Woo-hoo!” I pump my fist up and down. My pulse quickens, and I glance at my watch.

Today’s the day. In precisely six minutes, I will interview a murderer.

I couldn’t do such a thing on just any day, you understand. It must be a day filled with good omens, a day in which I feel physically energized and psychologically pumped.

A day like today.

In preparation for the interview, I drag a woven, cane-bottomed dining room chair into my office and situate it directly across from my seat. The straight, ladder back should prove uncomfortable enough to keep my guest off balance, thereby ensuring more spontaneous responses to my questions. The distance of five feet between chairs, give or take a few inches, will allow unimpeded eye contact.

I take a deep breath and blow it out through puckered lips then drop into my chair. With less than two minutes to go I peer at the screen of my laptop. My mouth goes dry as I consider the questions that seemed insightful minutes earlier but now appear insipid and pointless.

Do they zero in on the villain’s motivation like a professor’s laser pointer, or are they so ambiguous as to allow room for sloppy evasion? Are any of them redundant? Will they elicit responses that help my Readers to understand human nature while chilling their bones?

I chew my thumbnail and shoot a look toward the office door. A shadowy figure stands in the opening, backlit by the hallway light.

“You’re early,” I say.

“Insightful,” the murderer says. “Anything else, or is that it?”

“Thanks for showing up.” I point to the chair opposite me. “Have a seat.”

The villain saunters to the rattan chair. She stares down at it, snorts then grins and shakes her head. “Such an obvious ploy. Contrived. Best be careful or I’ll disappear before you have what you need.”

“Sorry.” I hold my hand up, palm out as if to stop a charging rhino. “Is there anything you’d like to tell me?”

“No, no, no.” My murderer moves her index finger back and forth imitating a clock’s pendulum. “That’s not how this works. While allowing me freedom of expression is important, it’s up to you to ask the right questions. Otherwise, you risk making me predictable, or worse, cliché. When I have something unexpected to say, as I most assuredly will if you do this right, I’ll jump in and it’ll be up to you to keep up.”

“Okay.” I take a deep breath.

For the next hour or so, I shoot questions at my murderer, furiously typing her responses into my laptop. I’ve just finished memorializing her umpteenth impromptu stream-of-consciousness monologue when she falls silent. I glance in her direction just as her shadowy form retreats through the office door.

“Thanks,” I call out.

Wordlessly, she waves an arm over her head then is gone.

My pulse pumps like race car pistons as I review the transcribed pages that will set the stage for my suspense novel.

“Not at all what I expected,” I murmur.

The fragrance of lilacs suddenly fills the room. I breathe deeply, sensing another presence.

“My turn,” says my Protagonist.

“So it is,” I say. “Please, have a seat.”

 

Thank you, Olive. Love this! It’s a great idea for writers to interview their villains, and main characters, before writing their stories. 

Now, here’s Olive’s latest release, chock full of villains…

 

Blurb:
Eleven-year-old Jillie Ross escapes the vicious relatives threatening to flush away her beloved sister’s ashes if she doesn’t lead them to her dead father’s rumored treasure.
Determined to find her sibling’s ashes and honor them along with their parents’ remains, the feisty orphan must endure harsh weather, escape a stalker, and hide from the police. But how long can she survive when at least one family member wants her dead?
Excerpt:

Jillie dropped the metal lid as if it were red hot..Her stomach heaved, and something sour shot up her throat. She pounded against the locked, unyielding door until the muscles in her arms cramped.  She  fell to her knees and clawed at the floor, ignoring the pain radiating up her arms from torn fingernails...   

The sound of approaching footsteps made the tiny hairs on the back of her neck move. She snatched up the broken shovel handle and stood behind the door. With her legs slightly bent, she gripped the pole with both hands as if it were a sword, aimed its broken, pointed end at the door and waited.  

Bio:
A retired educator, Olive Balla began writing in her sixties. Her first mystery/suspense novel, An Arm And A Leg, was published just after her sixty-fifth birthday, and her second, Jillie, was recently published. Ms. Balla is a mother of three, grandmother to eleven, and great grandmother of seven. When she isn’t writing, she can be found making sawdust in her wood shop near Albuquerque New Mexico.

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