Writer Wednesday – Kate Hill

I am pleased to welcome author Kate Hill to my blog to talk about her latest release, St. Augustine’s Silhouettes.

staugustinessilhouetteskatehillIn St. Augustine’s Silhouettes the hero has a murky past and he’s not concerned with being accepted. In a world that fears those who are proud to be different, Alister St. Augustine is the first suspect in a series of murders that have taken place in a small town. People who aren’t afraid to stand out in the crowd are often mistrusted, excluded and even mistreated by others while those who blend are easily accepted, even if their motives aren’t pure.

Katherine is also an outcast in town for similar reasons. She’s drawn to Alister. Despite warnings from the townsfolk, she trusts him and appreciates his uniqueness and courage.

 

What draws you to a romance hero? Do you tend to mistrust those who don’t follow the crowd or do they stir your interest?

St. Augustine’s Silhouettes

by Kate Hill

A killer runs loose in a small American town. When free-spirited Katherine allies herself with a man dubbed Satan by the townsfolk, has she found the man of her dreams or has she fallen into the hands of a murderer?

Excerpt:

At the sound of rustling in the trees, she spun, squinting in the dimness. A cloaked figure crouched in the shadows of wild shrubs. Stifling a scream, she threw her skirts over her arm and raced toward the town square. Terrified of stopping, she didn’t pause to glance over her shoulder, though she heard heavy footsteps and the rasp of another’s breath close behind her. Hoof beats sounded in the distance. Katherine imagined the killer’s accomplice galloping toward her on a dark, fiery-eyed steed, ready to carry her body deep into the woods. She tried to leap across a narrow brook, but her boot slipped on the wet rocks. Screaming, she crashed into the muddy water, fully expecting her stalker to fall upon her.

The horse shrieked and its cloaked rider leapt off its back before it came to a complete stop. Hands covered in black gloves reached for her. She slashed at them with the scissors. Her attacker caught her wrist before the scissors struck home. The hood fell from dark hair streaked auburn in the moonlight. Dark eyes flashed at her from beneath arched brows. Katherine gasped. Alister St. Augustine’s fine lips narrowed into a grim line. His face looked ghostly against the darkness of his cloak.

“Be still,” he ordered, squeezing her wrist in his steely grip until she dropped the scissors. “Who was chasing you?”

“I don’t know. You just lost my best cutting shears in the bottom of this brook!”

“Sorry, but I don’t take kindly to nearly being stabbed.”

“If you didn’t frighten a helpless woman walking alone on a dark night, then you’d be in no danger of that.”

“I would hardly call you helpless.” He stood and offered her his hand.

After a brief hesitation, she took it and he tugged her to her feet, then released her.

He continued, “As for being out after dark, you shouldn’t be, at least not until the killer is caught. Aren’t you the dress shop girl?”

“Katherine Sinclair,” she said. Standing this close to him was almost as unsettling as being chased. She’d only seen him through his shop window. Up close he was even more handsome than she’d realized. Despite his good looks, she sensed he could be as dangerous as the man who had stalked her.

With feline grace, he mounted his charcoal gray gelding and extended his hand to her, palm up. “Are you coming, Miss Sinclair?”

She stared at him, stunned at the suggestion that she should share a horse with the man dubbed Satan by the entire town.

http://www.kate-hill.com/staugustinessilhouettes.html

About Kate

Always a fan of romance and the paranormal, Kate Hill started writing over twenty years ago for pleasure. Her first story, a short erotic vampire tale, was accepted for publication in 1996. Since then she has sold over one hundred short stories, novellas and novels. When she’s not working on her books, Kate enjoys reading, working out and spending time with her family and pets. She also writes as Saloni Quinby. Visit her online at http://www.kate-hill.com.

Writer Wednesday – Meet Andrea Cooper

I am pleased to bring back Writer Wednesday and welcome Andrea Cooper to my blog. Her new release Stolen Hearts released in the past few weeks. Here she is to talk about it.

Stolen Hearts Book 1 – Contemporary Romance Suspense

Tagline: She stole a cop’s heart… will this thief pay for her crime?StolenHeartsThumbnail

Blurb:

Crystal was raised as a thief, bent on revenge. She uses her talents to target the corporation that destroyed her family and her innocence.

When a handsome undercover cop enters her life, Crystal worries she’ll be caught before her mission can be completed – or lose her heart to the one man she can’t trust.

Kade lost his partner in Texas and is looking for a fresh start in the NYPD. Catching the thief whose been targeting the Westridge Corp. will help his transfer become permanent.

Will Kade discover the truth, or will he blame Crystal for stealing his heart?

 

Excerpt: 

Crystal shimmied down the drainpipe with her trophies tucked inside her backpack and computer files loaded onto her USB, hung around her neck disguised as a locket. This was too easy. Not like the Warren job where the COO kept changing the menu and supervised their catering to ensure they had followed the strict rules of kashrut.

She landed on the concrete with a thump, then removed her mask. Usually she worked at night when the catering gig didn’t provide the necessary cover, but she had a date this evening.

A blind date.

Her sister’s fiancée had called earlier that day to let them know his cousin from Texas would join them for dinner and would Crystal come along? As far as Crystal was concerned, it was the closest thing she’d come to as a real date in a long time. She’d take it.

Thankfully, her catering appointment with Westridge canceled yesterday. While she enjoyed cooking, it was only a cover for her and her sister’s illegal activities. What she excelled at was computers, but having a career in that field, now, would be too suspicious. Her IT skills far exceeded a Level One Help Desk worker. She despised working for Westridge, the man who had her mother killed and her dad thrown into jail, but catering was the easiest way into her target’s homes without suspicion. And she refused to pose as a cleaning lady and scrub their filth.

Years ago, Dad found what he thought was a series of accounting errors. For his honesty trying to help Westridge correct the problem, he was thrown in jail to rot. Westridge and his company framed her dad for embezzlement and sharing confidential information with preferred suppliers to obtain favors. Now she and her sister were halfway toward exonerating him and exposing Westridge and his corporate crimes. To see the look on Joshua Westridge’s face when he was convicted would make all her and her sister’s sacrifices worth it.

Thunder boomed as she weaved through alleys, stinking of rotting food and urine. She barely made it to her car before thunder rumbled.

Crystal checked the time on the dashboard, almost seven. No time to waste. Paul and his cousin, Kade, were picking up her and her sister at seven-thirty. Her car hummed to life as she stashed her backpack behind her seat. The stolen cash, including a recently purchased blood diamond necklace, lay inside. Hopefully the money and necklace would throw off Westridge’s Sales Manager to the fact that computer information had been the real prize. And hopefully, they wouldn’t discover the truth until it was too late. For now, another piece of the puzzle to exonerate their dad and lock Westridge away lay on her chest inside her locket.

She whipped into traffic and hit the wipers as fat drops of rain slapped against the windshield. Great. Ahead, a red light flickered as taxis and cars lined up behind it. She debated taking Ninth, but decided against it. Construction was still ongoing and traffic would be worse than this.

Maybe squeezing in a job before dinner wasn’t such a great idea.

 

Like the sample? You can grab it at Amazon here: Stolen Hearts

About Andrea:

andrearcooper_1361058981_140Andrea R. Cooper writes fantasy, paranormal, historical and romance suspense. She traded in Nancy Drew books for Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie novels at the age of nine.

Her real life hero brought love and magic into her life and showed her that true love never gives up. Today, she is happily married with two sons and a daughter.

Andrea believes in the power of change and delighting in each moment. But most fervently, she believes in the magic of love.

The Cheese that Wouldn’t Melt (A Cooking Channel Fail)

Sometimes you get something in your head that you want, and today I wanted a nice home made cheese dip, you know the white cheese kind that you buy in a Mexican Restaurant. I had told my husband we would have quesadillas for lunch, and he made the chicken. I stopped by the store and picked up the white queso package that you melt to get cheese dip. I’ve never paid much attention, but I’ve seen it before, and I purchased it without a lot of thought.

No, I did not. I picked up a different white queso package (queso fresca) that is designed to not melt. It’s used in filling for stuffed peppers. Apparently I needed queso blanca. I got home, realized that I didn’t have as many tortillas as I thought, and ran back to the store, only ten minutes away. My husband said he would keep the cheese moving along in the melting process. I had already chopped it into smaller bits, and it just needed monitoring. Neither of us had ever heard of this horrible invention, cheese that does not melt.

Non-Melting Cheese

Non-Melting Cheese

 

By the time I came back, he had Googled “How to melt queso fresca.” The answer was that you do not. When they say it doesn’t melt, no amount of coaxing will get it to melt. We added different cheeses, milk, butter, taco sauce–ended up with a thin lumpy cheese dip that wasn’t very festive at all.

I won’t even talk about the fact that I caused a glass bowl to crack because I wanted to use it as a double boiler. Bobby Flay did it on Saturday, why couldn’t I?

I like to cook, and I like to experiment and try new things, and I’m not afraid to admit when I get it wrong. If you want to get a big laugh, check out my attempt at peanut butter balls here at Peanut Butter Hands of Death.

I will have to work in this whole non-melting cheese event into a book someday.

Sign up for my mailing list here to find out about upcoming books. I offer two types, new releases only and a monthly, sometimes quarterly newsletter.

Happy Valentine’s Day – I think

Trashed Roses

Broken Heart, or Dead Flowers?

I am really not sure who today’s holiday is for.

Girls/women over the age of 16 who are otherwise well adjusted get upset if they aren’t part of a couple.

Boys/men over the age of 16 who aren’t dating rejoice that they don’t have to participate in this “commercial holiday.”

Couples who have been married a while don’t want to deal with the hassle of going out on the most crowded night of the year. My husband and I fit that category.

Women in relationships over a certain length of time have hope there will be a proposal today, but invariably they are disappointed because that’s just too overdone.

Guys trying to impress that new girlfriend spend way too much money or rack their brains to do something different or non-cliche.

So, to sum up, best I can tell, the only people that enjoy the holiday are little kids before puberty (because the candy) and women who have been dating less than a year who don’t expect a ring but whose boyfriend still wants to impress. So, for that subset of the population, enjoy your day. (Another exception is couples celebrating their anniversary on Valentine’s Day — they have a different excuse, right?)

For the rest of us, celebrate love in your own way, whether you are single or married or divorced or widowed or whatever. My husband says he is cooking dinner, which works for me as long as he cleans up after. :)

Remember that romantic love isn’t the only kind of love, and the legend is that St. Valentine sent handwritten cards. Not diamonds or rubies or flowers. The big consumer machine got you good on this one.

Writer Wednesday – Meet Author Julie Young

This week on Writer Wednesday, I’m stepping away from romantic suspense to feature Julie Young, writer of the young adult novel Fifteen Minutes of Fame. Take it away Julie.

Synopsis:
SHE SOLD HER SOUL TO ROCK AND ROLL
FMOFame           It was the story that rocked the music world. After five years, four Grammy Award-winning albums, numerous Number One singles and outselling every other act in the music industry, entertainment icon MonAmi was a walking case of burnout. When her plans for rest and relaxation were derailed on the final night of what was supposed to be her Farewell Tour, the enigmatic singer took matters into her own hands running away from her career, her manager and the mysterious identity that made her into a superstar.
            Now a rocker gone rogue, MonAmi returns to her hometown of Kentwood, Indiana where as 15-year-old Megan Taylor she was plucked from obscurity and molded into rock and roll royalty with a new name, a lucrative recording contract and a carefully crafted Hannah Montana-like image. However, what started as a teenage dream, quickly turned into a living nightmare as her label gradually controlled every aspect of her life telling the singer: what songs to write, what to wear, when to tour and who to date. “The Suits” know that MonAmi has a short shelf life as a music sensation and they are determined to get everything out of her before her fifteen minutes of fame are over.
          Fifteen Minutes of Fame is a  fictional memoir told by MonAmi/Megan that offers fans (and readers) the behind the scenes reality about manufactured fame and all the trappings that come with it. Geared for YA fans of Meg Cabot, Robin Benway, Rachel Chon and Jen Calonita, Fifteen Minutes of Fame chronicles MonAmi’s discovery, her rise as a rock idol, the pressure to perform, her failed romance with drummer Denim Rhodes, the well-publicized disappearance and the events that forced her out of hiding and caused her to make peace with her alter ego once and for all.
Excerpt:
 
      No matter where I go in the world, I am always asked about what happened. I can be doing the most mundane thing like eating dinner or visiting a museum and someone will approach, tell me how much they like my work, but invariably-the conversation works its way around to the Incident for which I am best known. Never mind that it has been over a decade since it happened, everyone is still fascinated by the saga as if there is some part of the story I didn’t divulge; that I still have something to hide.
     I get it. I really do, but it’s how they ask that throws me. Something happens to people when they come face-to-face with a celebrity and I don’t know if it’s nerves or if they just say the first goofy thing that comes to mind, but people sure know how to put their foot in their mouths sometimes. Thank goodness I have a thick skin because in this business, you have to take the adoration with the scorn. Anyone who can’t really isn’t cut out for the gig, you know?
      “Were you just freakin’ nuts back then, or what?” a cab driver asked when he realized who he had in his back seat. Of course, he didn’t really say freakin’ and it did not prevent him from asking me for an autograph for his three kids in the next breath.
       I scrawled my name on the back of a business card from a local veterinarian’s office and handed it to him over the back seat. It’s always the same. In London, the locals are unfailingly polite when they query. They pepper their sentences with a lot of “rah-thers” while the Chinese resort to crude sign language when they try to make contact. I can’t speak Mandarin of course but it doesn’t matter. I am all too aware of what an index finger moving in circles near the temple means. It’s a gesture that requires no translator.
     Americans however, are the only ones who add the salty expletive. You know which one I’m talking about. The one that’s not freakin’.
     Sure I was a little crazy at the time. Who wouldn’t have been? I lived a double life that was hardly the best of both worlds however; my story is far from unique. I don’t know the statistics on the subject, but the list of rock stars that cracked under the pressure could read like a Who’s Who list of the industry if it were actually compiled. If I had the inside track on which performers would adjust well to the madness and which are train wrecks waiting to happen, I would go find another singer somewhere and become her manager.
     It’s not as though I planned to run. It was a spur of the moment decision that will haunt me for the rest of my life. I won’t be a bit surprised if it’s etched on my grave after I’m dead. Over the years fingers were pointed and blame was cast on my parents for being greedy and opportunistic, my manger, for pushing me and even my record label for child exploitation. Stories were written and books were published, some written by people who knew enough details to manipulate the facts and others by people who didn’t know me from Adam. It seemed that everyone was willing to sell his or her own spin on the tale that rocked the music world no matter how inaccurate.
     After years of trying to ignore it, I decided that the time had come to tell everyone the truth, to lift the veil and let everyone see what really happened. My career is not without its controversies, but I survived in a world where some fall by the wayside and others think they are one hit song away from a comeback. For better or for worse, this is my story: the behind the scenes reality about manufactured fame and all of the trappings that come with it from the girl who sold her soul to rock and roll.
What others are saying: 
“This is a fun and quick read. I highly recommend it!” – Sherri Emmons
“Love the way this author writes. She tells a tale that won’t let you put this book down.”- Sandra Denton.
“When a young library regular said she loved Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries, I picked them up. I was charmed! I felt the same way about FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME by Julie Young. ” P. Powis
“Young had me sucked in the moment I began reading.” -Elizabeth (Amazon Review)
In the interest of disclosure, I asked Julie what age the book targets, and this was her response:
The book is from…I would say, junior high on up, but as a parent myself, I didn’t want to write a lot of graphic scenes and did not feel that they were necessary to get the story across. There is occasional language, which makes sense considering the Rock and roll world we are dealing with, but I tried use it sparingly (I feel it packs a bigger punch that way.) There are few bedroom scenes because the story really  focuses on her journey on the rock and roll roller coaster rather than a romance…however it is in there. Anyone who has handled Twilight can easily handle my book…a dear friend of mine who happens to be a Catholic Sister read the book, loved it and didn’t have an ounce of problem with any of the content.
There you go… Sounds like a winner to me. If you want to rush out and buy this one, you can find it here:

Fifteen Minutes of Fame – Kindle

(It’s also available as a download in the Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Prime program)

Fifteen Minutes of Fame – Amazon Paperback

Fifteen Minutes of Fame – Barnes & Noble Paperback

About the Author:
Julie_Julie Young is an award-winning writer from the Indianapolis area whose work has been featured in a number of local, regional and national publications including: The Indianapolis Star, The Indianapolis Monthly, The Indianapolis Business Journal, Michiana House & Home, IN Michiana, South Bend Tribune, ADVANCE for Nurses Magazine, Catholic Teacher Magazine, National Catholic Reporter, Evansville Living, and INTents Magazine. As a former writer with the Associated Press, her work has been seen globally including the online juggernaut CNN.com.
She is also the multi-award nominated author of six local history titles. Her first book, A Belief in Providence: a Life of Saint Theodora Guerin was a finalist in the Best Books in Indy awards as well as a nominee for Foreword’s Book of the Year award. She followed that up with Images of America: Historic Irvington, Eastside Indianapolis: A Brief History, A Brief History of Shelby County, CYO in Indianapolis and Central Indiana, Famous Faces of WTTV-4. She has completed two books for the Idiot’s Guide Series including Catholicism (January 2015) and ASMR (coming May 2015) In addition, she has written the manuscript for the Indiana Historical Society’s Youth Biography series entitled From Local to Legendary: a Life of Michael Jackson.She has earned a reputation as a guest speaker and a mentor at schools throughout the state and has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show. She lives in New Palestine with her family and plays in a rock and roll band. For more information about Young, please visit www.julieyoungfreelance.com or e-mail Julie@JulieYoungfreelance.com
Social Media: 
@julieYoung14 
Official Fifteen Minutes of Fame Tour Diary (Written by MonAmi)https://fifteenminutesmonami.wordpress.com

Writer Wednesday – Meet Author Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra

The Coin

Who ever thought a coin could get you killed?TheCoin_small-2

A DANGEROUS FIND

For artist Gabriela Martinez, life has become complicated:  she suspects her mentor and friend wants her as his mistress, her husband is neglecting her, and her latest illustration is ruined.  Seeking peace, she visits her favorite thinking spot in La Marbriére, the mountain overlooking her home in the Côte d’Azur.  Distracted, she winds up in an unfamiliar clearing, where she discovers a 1945 French coin half-buried in the ground.  Delighted with its beauty, she has it set on her favorite bracelet.

TREACHEROUS KNOWLEDGE

Richard Harrison, an American intelligence officer, is livid.  A simple favor for his boss has turned his vacation in the French Riviera into a hellish assignment.  Now, not only does he learn the truth about the coin, but he must also protect Gabriela from a cunning killer who will stop at nothing.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT

Together with Maurice Nôret, from French intelligence, Richard attempts to discover the madman’s identity, except his budding love for the beautiful artist is turning into a dangerous handicap.  Every one of his moves is thwarted with brutal countermoves.  Soon, the psychological games to terrorize Gabriela escalate beyond his control.  If Richard doesn’t find a solution, it may be too late for them both.

Set in the exotic French Riviera, The Coin is a story of hatred, betrayal, love and duty—of terrible and painful choices that, nonetheless, bring about personal triumph.

 The Book of HoursTheBookOfHours-200x300

For artist Gabriela Martinez, psychopaths do hit twice.

A LOVE IN JEOPARDY

In 1993, artist Gabriela Martinez almost lost her life to a sociopath’s twisted vision.  If not for Richard Harrison, the operative sent to protect her, she would have ended up dead.  The dramatic showdown pushed them together, but there were too many obstacles temporarily pulling them apart.

A NEW THREAT

After catching a glimpse of Gabriela’s new work, The Book of Hours, Arnold Wickeham has been like a man possessed.  Now, he will do anything—anything—in order to claim it, and nothing, especially not Gabriela, will stand in his way.

THE PAST IS CATCHING UP

Richard Harrison has never given up his true love, Gabriela.  Now someone new is threatening her life, and he will risk everything to protect her.  But the stakes are now higher, and there is much more to lose.  And, if he doesn’t stay one step ahead of the danger, her life, but especially, their future, may very well go up in flames.

A LOVE TESTED

In The Coin, Gabriela and Richard were cruelly used by fate—and destiny isn’t done.  In the shadow of this new threat, their choices may not just save their lives, but also their love.

The Coin Buy Links

The Book of Hours Buy Links (Pre-order for Feb. 12 release)

Giveaway

Maria was generous enough to offer a rafflecopter giveaway. Just follow the instructions in the box to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Meet the Author

OMaria Elena Alonso-Sierra is a full-time novelist based in North Carolina. With Cuban roots, she has lived in many countries, including France, the setting for her first novel, The Coin. She speaks English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German, and reads Latin, Middle English, and old French. She holds a Masters in English literature, specializing in medieval romances, and is currently an active member of the Carolina Romance Writers. She loves to hear from her readers, and always hopes to open a dialogue with her fans.

 

 

 

Social Media Links

Interview questions

These blurbs intrigued me, so I thought I would ask the author a few questions.

The Coin is set in the French Riviera. This is definitely a romantic location, steeped in James Bond lore. Tell our readers about your affinity for the Riviera.  (Did you travel there? Live there for a while, etc.)

Funny you should mention James Bond.  I always thought of my character, Richard, in The Coin, as a mixture between James Bond (worldly, sophisticated, drop-dead gorgeous, but with no gadgets) and Rick Blaine in Casablanca (cynical, noble, with a capacity for self-sacrifice).  But to answer your question, my affinity for the Riviera is simple:  I lived there for five years and those years were absolutely wonderful ones (wish I could afford a home there like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt).  Apart from the fact that the area is gorgeous, the architecture magnificent, and you can rub elbows with the rich and famous while walking the streets of Nice, Monaco, or Cannes, the area is also steeped in history–and I am a fan of history, especially ancient and medieval.  What more can a person ask for?

The main character is an artist who gets pulled into a world of spies and international intrigue. What called to you about that profession?

A lifetime of loving art and not being able to draw but stick figures!  I have always wanted to be a Raphael, a Da Vinci, or a Michelangelo.  I have a good amount of art books in my library and, whenever I have the chance, I go to museums.  Why not give my character, Gabriela, that profession?  That would also complement her personality with her career–a woman who creates beauty, but is drawn into a world that is the opposite.  Great conflict point.

What can readers of The Coin expect?  

Thrills, a window into the Riviera not many have seen, a unique love story, and moments of humor.  And did I mention a unique love story?

Does this series end here, or do you envision it continuing into a third book?

The series ends with The Book of Hours, which I set half in Monterey Bay, California and London, England.  I never planned for a third book about Gabriela’s and Richard’s lives. They have come full circle, overcoming everything I threw at them.  They have earned their rest, but you never know.

 


 

I hope you enjoyed this romp around the Riviera with Maria. Follow my blog to meet more romantic suspense authors. I am almost ready to send out my January newsletter, and I’ll be doing a drawing of my subscribers for a $10 gift card, either to Starbucks or Amazon. So sign up for my newsletter today. I send out emails no more than monthly, and usually I have fun recipes, and heads up about my book projects. You can sign up here. The list is run by mailchimp, so no spam ever.

 

Writer Wednesday – Romantic Suspense Author K.L. Docter

Can you believe we are at the end of the year? This is my last Writer Wednesday this year. Over Christmas, I’m working on revamping the whole website, so next time you visit I’ll have a facelift.

I’m welcoming K.L. Docter to my blog today, a romantic suspense writer extraordinaire. She put the suspense in romantic suspense. I told her if it weren’t for the sultry love scenes, she could crossbrand into the thriller category, easy.

Today we are talking about Killing Secrets, the first book in the Thorne’s Thorns series.

The Blurb:

Some secrets are better left dead.

Rachel James’ ex-husband is released from prison determined to reclaim her and her little girl — the child is his key to controlling the James fortune. Frightened, Rachel flees to Denver with the child who hasn’t uttered a word since her daddy went to prison.

Contractor Patrick Thorne wants nothing to do with another of his parents’ charity cases. He failed his own wife so abysmally she took her own life as well as his unborn son’s. After two years, it’s time to concentrate on the bid he’s won and the saboteur trying to destroy his construction firm.

There is no room for trust in either of their hearts. But trust is all that will untangle the secrets that dominate their lives, free a little girl of her silent prison, and save them all from a serial killer who stands too close.

(A Thorne’s Thorns Novel)

KLDocter Cover

It’s difficult to tell a writer’s style from a blurb, so here’s a brief excerpt:

Excerpt from Killing Secrets

© Copyright 2014 – K.L. Docter

 

Denver, Colorado.

At the first crack of gunfire, Rachel dove headfirst into the garden she was weeding. Listening for the second report she expected to follow, she prayed Amanda stayed at Patrick Thorne’s house where she’d gone an hour ago to play with her new friend, Suze.

Gasping for air, she inhaled the rich, spicy scent of freshly turned soil and crushed nasturtiums instead. Dirt and grit bit into her cheek and the bare flesh exposed by her cutoffs and T-shirt. The mid-afternoon sun beat hot against her shoulders and legs, and all she could do was lie there and watch a fat bumblebee dip into a russet blossom three inches from her nose.

Had she run almost nine hundred miles only to die like this, grubbing alone in the dirt like a spineless worm?

A surge of anger gave her impetus to lift her head. She peeked over the flimsy wall of twelve-inch annuals between her and the street. A second gunshot rang out, belched in a cloud of black smoke from an ancient Volkswagen bus that disappeared around the corner.

Backfire?

She groaned, more relieved than embarrassed by her overreaction. Her chin dropped. Taking several deep draughts of the thin Colorado air, she worked to calm the pound of her heart against her ribcage. Her efforts made her head swim. A minute later she was able to push herself out of the three-foot section of garden she’d mown down.

Her nerves had been on edge since she fled Dallas on Friday, five days ago. If she weren’t so overwrought it would have occurred to her Greg would never stand at a distance and take potshots at her. No. Greg liked to look into her eyes when he meted out his punishments.

An icy shiver skimmed her skin. Each day that passed without his appearance should have reassured her she’d made the right decision to accept Katy’s arrangements with the Thornes. As long as Greg didn’t track her and Amanda to Denver, they were safe.

Problem is she hadn’t felt safe since Amanda was born and she discovered what kind of man she’d married. Now she couldn’t pluck enough weeds from Evelyn Thorne’s gardens by day to tear the anxiety from her heart at night. Her growing sense of trepidation kept her awake long after the morning stars dimmed above the mile-high city’s cloudless skies.

How could the justice system simply hand Greg a “get out of jail free” card?  She’d always known the man had connections in high places, but how had he arranged for the evidence in his case—evidence she’d risked everything to provide—to disappear before he even went to trial?  If he’d accomplished that feat while behind bars, how in the world was she and Amanda going to stay out of his clutches?

She felt like there were giant bull’s-eyes painted on their backs, that it was only a matter of time before Greg tracked them down. During their marriage the man would spend weeks, even months, laying meticulous groundwork for one of his cons. He’d had six months to plan dozens of new punishments for his betrayer.

“‘Til death us do part, darlin’.”

His words echoed over the expanse of time and distance, ringing a fresh peal of dread in Rachel’s breast. With one hand, she brushed clumps of soil off her tangerine T-shirt and whispered a small prayer. Please don’t let him find us!

**

Karen has a style that’s easy to read, with realistic dialogue and fast-paced action. This isn’t a quick mystery, coming in at over 300 pages. She is a master at weaving multiple story lines together and keeping you guessing until the very end. If you need something to keep you company these long winter nights, this is the book. You can grab it on Amazon for the steal price of $3.99, or read it as one of your Prime or Kindle Unlimited selections.  Purchase it here: Killing Secrets (Thorne’s Thorns Book 1)

 

Bio

K.L. Docter writes two different kinds of romance novels….KLDocter Pic

Romantic Suspense w/a K.L. Docter: Women hunted by killers…men who’d die to protect them.

Contemporary Romance w/a Karen Docter: Romance…With a Kick!

K.L.’s romantic suspense novels are filled with romance, although the dangers the hero and heroine face are intense, usually because a serial killer is bent on ending one or both of their lives before they can fall in love.

Her contemporaries (written as Karen Docter) are cute & spicy romances. She loves writing about real men and women with dreams and goals that don’t allow for a relationship just so she can throw them in each other’s path…with a tickle and a smile.

K.L./Karen’s an award winning author, a four-time Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® finalist, and won the coveted Kiss of Death Romance Writers Daphne du Maurier Award Category (Series) Romantic Mystery Unpublished division.

When she’s not saving her characters from death and destruction or helping them fall in love, she loves camping and fishing with her family, reading, gardening & cooking. If she can do most of those things over a campfire, all the better!

To find out more about all of Karen’s books, check in with her online at http://www.Karendocter.com.

________________

Before you go, if you haven’t grabbed it yet, my second novel (Under His Protection) is on sale at all major retailers for $2.99.  Grab it quickly, because it won’t stay at this price long! All the links can be found here: Under His Protection.

Give Karen/K.L. a shout-out in the comments to make her feel welcome, and sign up for my newsletter before you go. I shoot for monthly, but it’s been less than that lately. Each month I reach ten new subscribers, I’m giving away a Starbucks giftcard.

(Click Here to sign up for newsletter)

Soapbox Time – Gender Discrimination is Real

I am still amazed at stories I hear about women not being hired because they have kids. A writer friend of mine who has decided to return to the workforce posted this on Facebook today:

Advice I have learned over the past year of job hunting: stay at home parents, never be honest that you were a stay at home parent. I was turned down for three jobs because of basically this. I know it because I wanted to be honest! And open! And on my third interviews, I was saying, “I am so good at juggling lots of things at once because of my SAHP skills!” and they were like, “Will you really be dedicated? You have kids! We have other applicants who don’t have kids.” Now when I go on an interview, I won’t even admit to having friends. “I’m a workaholic virgin with an ant farm I keep for company, but with no ants, because their care gets in the way of my work,” is the line I’m going with.

In case you’ve forgotten, potential employers aren’t supposed to ask about children, about child-rearing plans, about the potential of future children, or whether you plan to have children, or any permutation of that. They can ask about attendance requirements, or physical ability to meet the job requirements, but not about children at home, or spouses, or anything too personal.

So those of you who think we’re past gender discrimination in this country, we’re not, and this makes me very sad. Meanwhile, in other news, I also ran across this article in the New York Times, “Why US Women are Leaving Jobs Behind.” Reasons cited in the article, in addition to a soft economy, are lack of flexibility on the part of employers, and lack of inexpensive childcare options. Most other developed countries have a year of family leave available, a good bit of which is paid.

We’re the worst. Corporate profits are at an all-time high, and yet we still struggle to provide basic benefits to our employees. Such basic amenities as a private location for pumping breast milk are unavailable for most moms, who end up weaning early because pumping breast milk isn’t an option.

I stayed at home with our two children from September 2001 until September 2004, and it took me a while to find a professional position that would be worth it with the cost of two in childcare. Now I’m blessed to have an employer who provides generous annual and sick leave, including up to ten days per year of family sick leave. That means if one of the kids has strep throat, I can stay home and make sure they get proper fluids and rest without worrying about my job. Yes, I’m in a professional position, and I can do some work from home, but it gives me incredible peace of mind knowing my boss understands and works with me when life happens.

What are your thoughts? How can we get more women to return to work?

Writer Wednesday – Meet Ray Anselmo, Author of The Slave Auction

The Slave Auction

I haven’t been sharing many books lately on the blog. I’ve been busy, and many of the books that I’ve read recently have been just okay, and I haven’t felt like talking about them.

I discovered The Slave Auction on one of my Facebook groups. I had never heard of Ray Anselmo before, but I gave his book a chance. In fact, I enjoyed it enough to take the time to track down the author on his blog and beg to host him here.

If you haven’t bought a book for Christmas break yet, rush out and get this one. Get ready to step into the post apocalyptic future, where the land that was California is now the feudal state of Scotia. There is no electricity, and manual labor is in high demand. The strong conquer the weak and force them to become slave labor. Everything has changed, but human nature remains the same in many ways.

 

First, the Blurb:

Sixty years after the Final War smashed the countries of the world, the remnants of humanity are still working to rebuild civilization. In Scotia village, deep in the forests of what was once northwestern California, that’s taken the form of a return to feudalism, with the warrior descendants of pre-War survivalists forming the nobility. Below them are their tenant farmers, a few independent priests and artisans … and at the bottom of the pyramid, the slaves.

Eliza Cronin is the young head of the most powerful noble house in Scotia, with all the duties that accompany such a station. And as she’s yet to find a suitable consort, one who will treat her as an equal, she’s largely doing it alone. So she goes to the local slave sale, seeking someone who can help her manage her myriad responsibilities. But she quickly finds that Aaron, the slave she purchases, is more than she expected. Physically weak but with a strong mind, Aaron is soon turning her life upside down, and causing her to discover things about herself she never would have guessed, both good and bad.

Nor is all her stress coming from inside her house. There’s also a masked rapist targeting Scotia’s noblewomen (who may have picked Eliza’s cousin as his next victim). A fellow noble, her good friend and closest advisor, is nearing death. On top of that, there are whispers of a conspiracy against not only her, but the entire village. In the midst of all this, plans will have to be formulated, serious choices need to be made, lives will be at stake. And it seems only a lowly slave has what she needs to navigate the crises ahead … and maybe even find love …

A world torn by war. A noblewoman seeking help in a climate of fear. A hero in an unlikely disguise. And a romance for the ages. The Slave Auction is all that and more. Prepare for the future.

 

After I tracked Ray down, and he graciously agreed to visit my blog, I peppered him with questions.

 

This book seems to defy genre and predictability. What gave you the idea to write this book?

The initial idea was just a mental picture – a tall, austere redhead (think Julia Roberts or Keira Knightley) walking through a medieval marketplace in period dress. Other ideas sort of accrued to it, like layers on a pearl, and soon I found myself starting to write it because I couldn’t not write it. Eliza and Aaron, the protagonists, were coming to life, and I couldn’t stand in their way.

 

On your website, you indicate that the book took ten years to write. Was this a continuous ten years? Did it go through many iterations? Or were there long periods when you put it aside to work on something else?

When I finished the original draft in 2004, it was partly out of frustration with my job prospects – I was getting jerked around by temp agencies, bouncing from one clerical job to the next, and was looking for another field to pursue. I kept trying to find “normal” work, but every so often I’d come back to it, tinker with it a little, submit a portion to a publisher only for nothing to happen.

My friend, the novelist Geralyn Beauchamp (aka Kit Morgan) gave me a lot of good advice over the years on how to develop the characters and show their emotional growth. And when I got tired of getting deafening silence from publishers, Geri was the one who urged me to self-publish and showed me how. This year, after publishing a couple of small short-fiction collections as e-books – kind of testing the waters – I gave The Slave Auction one last polishing and sent it on out there. So it’s been quite a journey.

 

Tell us who you think would like your book.

I have an almost visceral reaction to the “muscular boy meets flighty girl, girl swoons” stories that are kind of the stereotype of romance novels – “bodice-rippers,” my grandmother used to call them. I can’t imagine Eliza Cronin swooning unless she’s been severely injured – she’s strong and tough and trained as a warrior, and she doesn’t let anyone push her around. Nor is Aaron the usual bulging-pecs leading man – he’s fairly humble, a gentleman, someone who gets by on brain power rather than muscle. So I think The Slave Auction would have an appeal for people who want something more than just the usual romantic story, who want more depth or a different twist on the concept.

I tend to write “clean,” so I also think The Slave Auction would be a good read for young-adult readers who are fans of post-apocalyptic books like The Hunger Games and The Mount. And science-fiction fans who appreciate a good love story and good characters would enjoy it as well, I believe.

 

Given genre conventions, how do you feel about classifying this book as a romance?

I don’t mind. As one of my heroes, Bill Veeck, put it, I have “the literary digestion of a garbage disposal unit,” so I pull from a lot of genres and styles when I write. I probably write more that could be classified as science fiction than anything else, but romance would be a close second, and a lot of my writing – including The Slave Auction – has elements of both. If you’re going to put a label on it, “romance” is a perfectly good one to use.

 

Are you planning additional stories in this futuristic society showcased in The Slave Auction?

Absolutely – The Slave Auction is book 1 of a saga that I’ve already planned out as at least six books, plus some shorter pieces. The first of the short works, “The View from the Cliff,” will be included in a short-story collection I’m releasing on January 19 entitled Adventures in Time and Place. It will give some background on Aaron and where he came from, and show how the leadership in Scotia is changing in their relations to the people in the surrounding area. If all works out, I hope to have a new Scotia novel out in 2015, and every year through 2019.

Also, I’ve written a novella, The Glory of a King, that takes place in the same universe as The Slave Auction – it’s available now through Amazon. I may do a couple of similar stories in the future, tales from elsewhere in the world Scotia is part of, though none are specifically planned.

 

So you can get a feel for Ray’s writing style, here is a short excerpt of the book. You can also download a sample from Amazon.

Tricia McCarron’s words bubbled through Eliza’s mind like a sulfur spring for the rest of the day. She found herself unable to concentrate at dinner, and kept dwelling on it as she dressed for bed.

When the right fellow comes along … She kept thinking she should be annoyed at yappy Tricia for bringing the subject up, but figured there was no point in that. The tenant’s wife meant well, just as so many other people meant well when they nudged her on the subject of marriage. Or, worse yet, started suggesting that they knew just the man for her, he’s really a prize, a good, strong fella and wouldja like to meet him sometime? They wanted her to be happy, and who could get angry with someone for that?

Eliza sat on the edge of her bed in her cotton pajamas and rubbed her temples. She certainly didn’t have anything against marriage, or any desire for spinsterhood – quite the opposite. And there was the succession issue to think of as well. As head of the house of Cronin, her firstborn would be the logical heir, complete with all the attendant privileges and responsibilities. No marriage meant no heir, which would eventually mean problems for the house. She wasn’t getting any younger, either – she would turn thirty in a few months, rather old for a woman to still be unattached in these times. If she was to produce an heir, time was beginning to run low.

But necessity alone was not going to drive her to the altar. And frankly, she really hadn’t met anyone she wanted to spend the rest of her life around, let alone allow access to her womb. Most of the noblemen in Scotia, at least those who were close to her own age, were too stuck on themselves or too willing to kowtow to her or (Franklin Duritz came to mind, and she made a face) both. When it came to eligible men in the village, the cupboard appeared to be bare.

Frankly, the best of the lot seemed to be Franklin’s brothers Jefferson and Hamilton. But as far as she could tell, Jeff’s devotion was to his father and his father’s house, to the exclusion of all else. He not only hadn’t expressed any interest in Eliza, he hadn’t expressed any interest in marrying anybody, as far as she knew. And Ham? Ham was good-looking and strong, but he was also so timid that Eliza was always afraid of overwhelming him whenever they interacted. Plus, with both Jeff and Ham would come the irritation of having Franklin as a brother-in-law …

She shook her head forcefully. No, that would definitely not do. She knew her father had held a very high opinion of Franklin, though she had no clue why. Thankfully, Robert Cronin had felt strongly about letting his children pick their own mates – probably reflecting his own experience, she mused – so he hadn’t tried to force her into a relationship, with Franklin or anyone else. But leaving her to her own devices, wise though it most likely was, had done nothing to fix her husbandless state.

As she rolled her eyes in exasperation, a children’s song her mother used to sing to her came to mind. Someday my prince will come “Yes, of course he will,” she muttered to herself sarcastically as she sat down on her bed. “And if he doesn’t come soon, he’ll find me a mildewed old husk.” She was about to take that cheery thought and cuddle up under the covers with it when she heard the knock on the door.

Aaron, of course, showed no sign of similar emotional burdens, instead being eager as ever to report on the day’s events and then move on to reading. As spring went on and daytime had begun to lengthen, “an hour after sunset” was moving inexorably later. In consequence Aaron was reading a little less each night before Eliza nodded off. The protagonist of the story had changed – from Samuel the noble priest to Saul, a popular warrior but impatient and presumptuous, and then to David, a nobody infantryman who had worked his way up through the ranks and became the chief noble himself after the self-inflicted collapse of Saul’s house.

As Eliza shifted under the covers, she thought to herself how this David could seemingly do no wrong. Why wasn’t there a man like that around for her to meet?

But as Aaron read, she found she was in for a disappointment …

 

Short Author Bio 

Ray Anselmo lives with his wife, two kids and various neuroses in Stockton, California. The Slave Auction is his first novel, but his fifth e-book – he’s also produced a novella and three small collections of short stories. His first full-sized short-fiction collection, Adventures in Time and Place, releases January 19, and The Irrational War, the second book of the Scotia Saga, is scheduled for later in 2015.

 

Find Ray and Find his books…

To purchase from Amazon (currently only $4.99 – a steal, I promise): The Slave Auction: Book One of the Scotia Saga

Ray’s Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Ray-Anselmo/e/B00KI85EDM/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ray.anselmo (personal); https://www.facebook.com/Million.Dreams.Press (publishing)

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/rayanselmo

 

 

More about Winter Tales

A Holiday Anthology (Volume Two)

A Collection of Winter Holiday Tales

EQCover

3ee39-synopsis

Please join us in reading this fantastically diverse FREE collection of stories to warm
your heart while you wait for the kids, the oven to buzz, on a
15-minute break from work, or when you just need to hide for ten minutes
from everyone! Every story is PG,but a few have a hint of zing.

The calendar on the wall says 2014 but the holidays are a magical time where anything is possible when it comes to romance. Prepare to travel through snow or to a tropical setting with a little dash of fantasy sprinkled in to make your holiday reading enjoyable. This heart-warming collection of all new, very short stories is our way of saying happy holidays to you.

 

FRANKIE’S WISH by Jennifer Garcia

“Every night, as my daddy taught me, I kneeled by my bed and said my prayers. But tonight, I wanted to ask for something.
“Now I lay me down to sleep… I pray the Lord my soul to keep. Oh, please bring me a mommy. Amen”

THE GIFT OF TIME by Rose Anderson

“Rose is a multi-published, award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and discovering interesting things to weave into stories. She lives with her family and small menagerie amid oak groves and prairie in the rolling glacial hills of the upper Midwest.
Possessing an active imagination, she writes everything from children’s stories to historical non-fiction.”

FRANKIE’S WISH by Jennifer Garcia

Jennifer believes in writing love stories that connect families and touch hearts. Her first novel, My Mr. Manny, was released August 2013 and her first novella, In My Mother’s Footsteps, was released July 2013.

A KISS AT MIDNIGHT by Lily Bishop

Lily Bishop lives in South Carolina with her husband and two children. She writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense, and has published two books in the City Lights series, No Strings Attached and Under His Protection. She is working on the third book now.

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER by Dee Ann Palmer

In every age the heart loves, and Dee Ann Palmer’s romances reflect those eras in fantasy, historic, contemporary and futuristic tales. The award winning Palmer is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America and belongs to the Los Angeles chapter of Sisters in Crime.

MARJA’S VICTORY By Barb Caffrey

Barb Caffrey is a writer, editor, book reviewer and musician from the Midwest. She is the author of the humorous urban fantasy/romance AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, and is the co-author of the Adventures of Joey Maverick series (with late husband Michael B. Caffrey).

CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS by Beverley Bateman

Beverley Bateman is a Canadian author of several books who loves traveling, good wine and a mystery. She lives with her husband and two Shiba Inu dogs among vineyards and orchards set in lake country and surrounded by mountains – beaches, swimming and skiing.

GINGERBREAD DREAMS by Victoria Adams

Victoria Adams is a romance writer, dividing her writing between contemporary romance and New Adult contemporary romance. She lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and kitten, Licorice. She likes to study Raqs Sharqi (Egyptian belly dance), garden, and bake.

CHE GELIDA MANINA by M. S. Spencer

Although she has lived or traveled in every continent except Antarctica and Australia (bucket list), M. S. Spencer has spent the last thirty years mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, kayaker, policy wonk, non-profit director and parent. She has two fabulous grown children, and currently divides her time between the Gulf coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine. Ms. Spencer has published nine romantic suspense novels.

ROMANCE VALLEY by Kaye Spencer

Native Coloradoan Kaye Spencer writes romances from her basement hovel in a small, rural town in the far southeastern corner of Colorado—no mountains in sight—just prairie dogs, buffalo grass, and glorious prairie sunsets. While drawn to cowboys and the Old West, all genres are within her story-crafting realm. Retired from a long career in public education that included teaching through a community college outreach program, Kaye is enjoying being a full-time writer and spoiler of grandchildren. Kaye is also afflicted with ACD—Accumulative Cat Disorder—with no cure in sight.

THE CHRISTMAS EVE GIFT by Janis Susan May

Janis Susan May is a seventh-generation Texan and a third-generation wordsmith who writes mysteries as Janis Patterson, romances and other things as Janis Susan May, children’s books as Janis Susan Patterson and scholarly works and non-fiction as J.S.M. Patterson.
Janis and her husband live in Texas with an assortment of rescued furbabies.

TROPICAL CHRISTMAS by Gemma Juliana

GEMMA JULIANA is a multi-published author who lives in an enchanted cottage in north Texas with her handsome hero, teen son and a comical dog. She loves making new friends and hearing from readers. Exotic coffee and chocolate fuel her creativity.

A KISS AND A PROMISE by Lyndi Lamont

Lyndi Lamont is the racy alter ego of author Linda McLaughlin, who writes historical and Regency Romance. Since becoming Lyndi Lamont, she has discovered that writing sexy romance is a license to be naughty, at least between the pages of a book.

A COWBOY’S HOLIDAY by E. Ayers

E. Ayers is a multi-published and best-selling author of western and contemporary romances. Her books are never too sweet or too hot. She writes down the middle.

570ff-purchase

It is available for FREE at smashwords-icon1

will be available at Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Kobo.

eeba1-addtogoodreads

Last year’s anthology is also available at

smashwords-icon1

and

6b0c2-b2526n