Category: Books

What I’m Writing Now

I’m not talking about this blog. One of the new things you’ll see around here this year is at least once per month, I’ll give you a glance behind the scenes…or more accurately between the covers…of whatever I’m writing at the moment.

Have you Seen These?

The current project is in “revision” mode. This isn’t my favorite. I think I’ve shared this meme before, but each time I see it, it reinforces my emotions in the two processes of being an author: writing and editing.

There is a series within the First Street Church Series published by Sweet Promise Press. This is a trilogy I’ve affectionately called, TEXAS HOMECOMING.

In Book One, Jaz comes home with a plan to find a post-military job and make a quick exit. Since her brother’s death, she and her father can barely occupy the same room without having harsh words.

Bailey dreams of leaving Sweet Grove, too, but when his sister returns home with plans to convert the family ranch into a resort, he knows he has to stay and help her. She’ll be his only family once their father succumbs to the cancer devouring him.

But what if they don’t inherit the ranch? What if a “blood” relative comes to claim it? Bailey seeks out a legal expert and finds his high school crush. Jaz can’t turn the handsome cowboy away, but she’s hardly prepared to start falling for him.

Even without a will, love finds a way.

 

 

 

 

The story continues in Book Two. I refer to this as “Jaz’s story” because she finally gets questions answered about her brother. Of course, a mysterious visitor makes an auspicious delivery. When Bailey sees Jaz embracing the man, he suspects the worst.

Because he knows he’s not worth loving.

Sometimes hope needs a helping hand.

I Have a Plan

When I originally concieved the idea for this series, I hoped to write THREE books outside of Sweet Grove. I was going to pull readers from the Kindle World into my own sweet romance world.

And then their were no more Kindle Worlds.

But there was Sweet Promise Press. And I enjoyed working with Melissa Storm and her crew of friendly and knowledgeable professionals. So, I decided to bring the characters back to Sweet Grove. It was supposed to be a Texas Homecoming anyway, right?

My new plan is to release the third book in the trilogy in April.

Then I’ll hire a designer to make a lovely Texas Homecoming print wrap and in the fall, I’ll release the trilogy in a print collection. All three stories (somewhere between 80,000 and 90, 000 words) together in a single paperback.

Doesn’t that sound like a fantastic idea?

Between the Covers

Now for the moment you scrolled past the rest of this to see. Here’s a scene from the second chapter of the book.

I hate to give too much away, but book three is Bailey’s story. Plenty of reviewers have commented about how static and even whiny Bailey has been in the first two books. Well, he’s not weak. He has a bad past.

And it’s about to come to Sweet Grove.

From the second chapter (this is NOT final copy and is subject to change and IMPROVEMENT) before it’s included in the final book:

Lonie Dyer was a piece of work. Jazlyn Rolle had met sweet talkers like him during her six months with Boldt & Associates.  It wasn’t the false charm that grated against her as much as the expectation to get something for nothing.

By the time he’d spoken two sentences, Jaz had known that the striking physical resemblance between Bailey and Lonie was all there was. Even without the sharp planes on his face and hardness in his eyes, Lonie wasn’t at all appealing.

“And who might you be?” That was the first sentence he’d spoken.

“This is Jaz.” Tess stepped around her as the two of them entered the parlor.

Lonie’s hand settled possessively beside a photo book of Central Texas on the edge of an antique table.

“A Sweet Grove native like my little girl?” His tone dripped honey, and Jaz figured the man could con a starving man out of his last meal.

Probably how he’d convinced the parole board a man with one armed robbery after another shouldn’t serve out a full sentence. Jaz had entered the man’s name into the county database as soon as Bailey had mentioned he was out of prison. Not that she expected him to show up in Sweet Grove. He’d burned whatever bridge he might have had to his children years ago.

“I thought you’d be in your room.” Tess gazed at him with expectation.

That’s when Jaz saw herself in her friend’s posture. Tess wanted his approval. Since she’d always yearned for Daddy love, Jaz knew the feeling exactly. But her friend missed the calculating way Lonie’s eyes narrowed, and Jaz knew Tess was heading for heartache.

Jaz stepped closer. Lonie’s gaze flashed to her and roamed lasciviously down her body.

The very same thing had happened so many times during her six years in the army that Jaz was surprised when she glanced down at herself. The uniform she expected to see was only loose boyfriend denim and a form-fitting sweatshirt. By the way the lust filled the older man’s gaze, it should have been something much more revealing.

“I’m Bailey’s girlfriend, and he’s on his way here.”

Lonie’s lips thinned into a reptilian smile. “Boy couldn’t wait to see me.” His dry chuckle sent a hoard of shivers down Jaz’s spine.

“Tess and I are going to hang out until he gets here.” Jaz turned Tess toward the doorway. “Let’s get some sweet tea. What’s on the menu for breakfast?”

She forced her backbone to steel as she marched her friend back to the kitchen. Tess responded about breakfast, but Jaz didn’t pay attention. Now that she’d met the man and seen the open desire in Tess’s eyes, she realized Bailey hadn’t been overreacting to send her to the ranch.

Jaz blocked the doorway into the kitchen by leaning on the side of the bar. Lonie pulled up a stool like he belonged there.

“Sweet tea?” Tess paused to glance over her shoulder at Lonie while pulling glasses from the cupboard.

“I never did sweeten to it.”

Once Tess turned away, Lonie shifted a leer to Jaz. She glared, unblinking. Maybe it would be smarter to pretend to fall for his slimy charm, but she couldn’t do it. Men like Lonie Dyer had too much power over women, and Jaz refused to be another conquest for him, even if it was only in his own mind.

Tess handed her a glass of tea and sipped hers. “What are your plans?” She set her glass down. “Did you want something else to drink?”

This wasn’t part of her normal B&B hostess routine, and Jaz wanted to snap at Lonie to leave the kitchen, since it wasn’t generally open to guests. But Tess’s hopeful expression killed the protest before it reached her lips.

“A shot of Jim Beam would be nice.” Lonie chuckled again, this time the sound more authentic, although it still grated on Jaz.

“How about a coke? I have Sprite or cola.”

Lonie shrugged. “Don’t go to any trouble for me, darlin’.”

As if she hadn’t already by loaning him a rent-free room. The front door opened and closed, and footsteps plodded toward the dining room. Jaz’s heart leapt, but Bailey would use the kitchen entrance, so it must be Tess’ other guest.

“That’s Mr. Gary.” Tess brushed past Jaz and into the hallway.

Lonie arched a scraggly eyebrow at her and smirked. “How long you been goin’ down on my boy?”

Jaz clenched her fist. “He’s not your boy any more than Tess is your darlin’.” She mimicked his syrupy drawl of the endearment.

What do you think? Are you ready to read more?

A Fun Look into Match-Making

No, this is not an episode of HOW IT’S MADE. I’m talking about romantic matchmaking…not the manufacture of match sticks. Although both of them can lead to fire.

A matchmaker is a trouble maker.

Okay, that’s not the dictionary definition. But if you’ve ever been subjected to matchmaking by someone, you know first-hand that it can be a painful experience. Maybe not root canal or tonsillectomy quality agony but close.

A new series from my publisher looks at kids of single parents as the meddlesome matchmakers.

It’s supposed to be a series of romantic comedies. Although I’m the first to agree I’m hysterically humorous, I tend to write books with a serious tone.

I hope my readers won’t be disappointed by my foray into this new genre. Based on the experience, it’s unlikely I’ll continue to write in it. It’s not like I don’t have tons of other things to write (like I talked about here.)

 

THE LINE-UP

Indie authors with huge followings and tons of experience will write in this series. Although I’ve only read ONE of the actual stories, I know you won’t be disappointed in the quality of the writing. (UPDATE: I have actually read THREE of the stories plus my own, and I’m certain you’ll be thrilled to invest in the entire series.)

Here’s the Mommy’s Little Matchmakers line-up:

  1. Mommy Loves the Principal by Shenae Johnson
  2. Mommy Loves the Military Man by Allie Kincaid
  3. Mommy Loves the IT Guy by Joanne Dannon
  4. Mommy Loves the Rockstar by Janae Ronniesha
  5. Mommy Loves the Doggy Doctor by Deb Kastner

And last but not least…
MOMMY LOVES THE BANKER


Okay, first of all. There’s a titling formula for this series. I’m sure you noticed it.

My book is not about the actual mommy. In my book, the grandmother is taking care of the mischievous little matchmaker for a year. A more appropriate title would be MIMI LOVES THE BANKER.

So…you’ve been warned.

The Blurb

Neither was banking on love…but their granddaughters have different plans.

She was abandoned by her husband. He buried his true love. Can they find a second chance at happiness?

In a new town, filling her daughter’s shoes as a stand-in mommy, struggling entrepreneur Meredith Williams longs to prove her ex-husband wrong and make a go of her lotion-making business. But when he constantly defaults on his alimony, she approaches the local bank for a small business loan. She’s about to find something so much better.

Tightened lending policies at Bank of Virginia force Donavan Anders to reject Meri’s loan application, killing any chance he can act on his interest in the enterprising woman, until he realizes their granddaughters play on the same T-ball team. Maybe he can make up for bank policies and score a date at the same time.

When bullies make T-ball difficult for their granddaughters, it’s up to the grandparents to step up their game. While they’re working together on that, their matchmaking granddaughters connive their way into one sleepover and two lunch dates. Lots of girlish giggles might lead to a happily-ever-after…if only those stubborn grandparents will get a clue.

I LOVE THIS STORY

This story was tons of fun to write. Since I’ll be a first-time grandma a few weeks after this book releases into the wild, it was fun to imagine myself in Meredith Williams’s shoes.

We have other things in common too: 1) We’re entrepreneurs; 2) Dads who left; 3) Love of baseball and 4) Disgust for bullies.

While I’m happily married, it’s always great fun to imagine a romance for people near my age. Since Meri hadn’t really experienced all the feels of falling in love before, I wanted her to have lots of tingles and ah-ha moments.

Who better to give them to her than a man who HAD been head over heels before. A man who felt certain he’d spend the rest of his life alone because he’d already had his “one true love.”

Debunking ideas like this are one of the best things about being a fiction writer.

GRAB THE SERIES

If you’re a fan of this genre or you think the premise of kids as matchmakers is intriguing, you can grab the entire six-book set for 35 percent off the price of purchasing the titles individually.

Better yet, you will get ALL SIX STORIES on the day the first story releases. While everyone who doesn’t order the entire set is twiddling their thumbs for a month to read MOMMY LOVES THE BANKER, you’ll have it on your ereader on March 1.

Doesn’t that sound awesome?

Of course it does. Order your set now. Read one and read them all before everyone else.

After hearing about this book, are you excited to read it? Do you like a series written by different authors? Or do you prefer to stay with the same characters for a series?

Under Construction: Building an Audience

Welcome to Sharon Hughson, author under construction!


This is the year. In 2019, I’m going to build an audience of readers.

According to marketing gurus, an author needs one thousand dedicated readers to have a successful book launch. And I’m launching (at least) four new books in 2019.

Thanks to a few free and paid promotions using my third First Street Church romance, LOVE’S LINGERING DOUBTS, I’ve built my scrawny newsletter list to nearly 800 subscribers.

Only half of those open the stuff I send them. I’m betting at least 30 percent of those email addresses are to boxes that are never checked.

So the question becomes HOW do I build an audience?

STEP ONE: FIND MY TRIBE


Author in search of her first 1,000 readers isn’t a headline that drives traffic to my social media sites.

And…which social media site will be the best for interacting with my tribe (once I find them)?

Yeah, I have more questions than answers about the process of finding my tribe. But, I’m working on it.

Here’s what I hope will happen:

  • I gave away more than 500 copies of LOVE’S LINGERING DOUBTS. I hope a large percentage of the people who grabbed those ebooks will read (and review) this novella. More importantly, I hope they fall in love with Jaz and Bailey and want to read the rest of their story. (Spoiler: there will be a happy ending.)
  • Links at the back of the book will connect these readers to my other fiction. They will click through and read them all.

There’s also information about joining my newsletter and the Facebook Group. They will be so excited to get the next installment of Texas Homecoming that they’ll join it all! (Yes, I’m dreaming all sorts of crazy here.)

STEP TWO: INTERACT WITH THE TRIBE


It’s no secret that I’m an introvert. I would rather sit in my lovely, light-filled office playing across the pages with my imaginary friends. Seriously, even when I create problems for those guys they love me anyway.
Because I always give them a happily-ever-after.

Wouldn’t it be great if life guaranteed that? (Yeah, sorry. I’m totally NOT able to deliver that for you.)
But I enjoy chatting with people through social media or email. I’m even trying to plan some in-person events. To warm up for that, I (sometimes) do a weekly live video on Facebook.

There are twenty-five people in my Friends of Author group. Pathetic. I know. Don’t rub it in.

I’m sharing the group every chance I get, but still not getting much traction.

One thing I always share in this group is book recommendations and freebies of books I’ve read and enjoyed.

Once I get a few members who interact regularly, I’ll start some giveaways. I also want to have read-alongs of my new books (and other titles we might agree on).

This isn’t me reading the book aloud to you. No, it’s all of us agreeing to read a certain amount (three chapters) and then hang out in the group at a certain time to talk about what we’ve read.

Good times, right? Who doesn’t love talking about books?

Mid-year or so, I’ll be using a special feature in the group to share one of the study books I wrote with you. For free. For your input on HOW I could turn it into an online course.

Not that I want to teach online courses, but I do want to find an audience for my study books (since I’m writing the third one now and hope to release it in June).

STEP THREE: EXPAND MY REACH

Actual expression on my face while considering this step

Yeah, I’m totally clueless about how to do this.

I’ll participate in a few more Book Funnel promotions and probably pay for another promotion with LitRing to find new readers and subscribers. When I release my paperback omnibus of the TEXAS HOMECOMING series (you can help me title it in the Facebook Group), I’ll buy an advertisement on Amazon and cross my fingers.

But the best way for me to reach new readers is if my “1000 readers” share my books with all their family and friends.

Yes, friends, word of mouth is the BEST way to expand my audience.

So this is me asking you to spread the word. Share the memes I post on social media. Talk about my books. And review them on Amazon and Goodreads.

What other tips do you have to help my Under Construction Audience?

Nine Lives for the Crazy Cat Ladies

Welcome to the culmination of the NINE LIVES of Fellowship of Fantasy’s newest release.

Grab your print or digital copy of PAWS, CLAWS AND MAGIC TALES today.

Here’s an annotated table of contents so you can see what you’re going to get. The italicized parentheticals are my mini-commentary on the stories because I’ve read them ALL!

The Witching Hour by Savannah Jezowski
As shadows encroach on the city of Lite, one cat stands between humanity and the hounds of darkness. Will true love save the day?            (A comedic not-actual romance that is a perfect kick-off to this collection.)

The Tail of Two Kitlings by Sharon Hughson
Two kitlings. One tail. A mother’s sacrifice and a brother’s betrayal. Who will survive the Siamese curse?

Black Knight by Laura L. Laura Croman Zimmerman
When a jingly bell goes missing, there’s only one supercat to solve this crime—the mysterious Black Knight. (Not just another Batman tale. I smirked. Perfect bedtime reading for your kiddos.)

Sulphur & Sunshine by Grace Bridges
How to Handle a Dragon, Feline Edition: on a volcanic shore, the accidental appearance of a local fire-guardian has unusual consequences for a street cat. (A different sort of story. The perspective threw me off at first, but in the end, I liked it.)

The Magic of Catnip by A. J. Aletha Bakke
An impulse purchase of catnip leads to unexpected shenanigans. (Prepare to laugh.)

The Secret Treasons of the World by J. L. Rowan
When Braelin stumbles upon an outlawed Guardian, she must choose between his safety and her own—and the cost may be more than she can bear. (A gripping story with the feel of YA epic fantasy.)

The Poor Miller and the Cat by Lelia Rose Foremann
When a poor miller rescues a cat, it promises to make him a wealthy man. But what is true wealth? (The requisite fable.)

Alex the Cat and Alex the Prince by Ace G. Pilkington
The prince’s parents are telling him he has to marry for money, and his cat says it could cost him his life.

Whisker Width by H. L. Burke
Get a cat they said. It’ll be fun, they said. No one mentioned the portals to a mysterious realm opening up in Kara’s bathroom. (I didn’t want this one to end because it felt like it was just beginning. That’s author-speak for too good to be so short.)

The Honorable Retrieval of Miss Sunbeam Honeydew by Pamela Sharp
When two princesses of the realm claim the same cat, how far will their loyal retainers go to see that each princess gets her way? (Loads of fun, and another great story for bedtime reading to your kids.)

The Witch’s Cat by Rachel Ann Michael Rachel Harris
Walk under ladders. October the 13th. A black cat. Perhaps the only way to bring two lovers together is through the worst luck. (Entertaining. Defied some stereotypes.)

The Cat-Dragon and the Unicorn by Janeen Ippolito
Ademis the cat-dragon only wants his freedom but must graciously help a scared unicorn girl who should be glad of his benevolent assistance. (If you don’t want a cat-dragon after reading this, you’re not as far along the crazy cat lady road as I am.)

Destined for Greatness by Jenelle Leanne Leanne Schmidt
Kendall knows he is destined for great things. The problem is, the Fates — if they even exist — don’t seem to agree. (Very tongue-in-cheek, but KITTENS!)

Sammy’s Secret by Karin De Havin
A ring is lost. A friendship is ruined. A cadre of cats is on the case!

Death Always Collects by Jeremy Rodden
Loki, a regular old Siamese cat, finds Death looming to take his human. Bargain as much as you want, but remember: Death always collects. (Not what I expected, but a regal portrayal of a cat’s loyalty.)

The Wild Hunt by Naomi P. Cohen
When an immigrant violinist’s music enchants a Cait Sidhe, she’s entangled in the secret world of the New York Fae. (Not your usual wild hunt, but a twist of some stereotypes written against a historical backdrop.)

Read one tale. Read them all. Leave your review on Goodreads and Amazon.

This 1/16th of the authorship thanks you.

Cattin’ Hook thanks me to put him down already!

Time for TRUTH to Debut

Today, Roane Publishing releases TRUTH, a new romance novel.

Hiding secrets is a huge theme in genre fiction. But the truth always comes out.

I read Truth by Avery Woods in August. Look for my review on Thursday.

Blurb

Sometimes you shouldn’t ask questions you aren’t prepared to hear the answers to…

Cori Winters life seems to be going according to the plan. While completing her PhD in Chemistry, Cori is offered a Research Fellowship, by one of the most accomplished Chemists in the Country. In addition, Cori has finally agreed to marry her long term boyfriend, Erik.

Abandoned at a young age, Cori has been told growing up that her biological mother has been MIA due to a severe illness. After a visit with her father, Cori discovers her dad sending a large amount of cash to an unknown woman. Cori decides to take matters into her own hands where she finally seek answers regarding her mother. However, sometimes secrets are better kept hidden…

After a childhood incident ruined any shot of Jesse having a relationship with his parents, he is finally glad to be living on his own, where he isn’t constantly reminded of what happened. That is, until his seventeen-year old step sister, Bethany, confides in him that she’s pregnant. Jesse vows to help Bethany, but what is the right choice to make when she wants to keep her pregnancy a secret? The truth is bound to come out….

Cori and Jesse grow closer, when Cori’s fiancée attends a wedding in Italy. Cori and Jesse relate to one another, when each confides secrets of their own. However, when each reveal their secrets, will the other be able to handle the truth?

Excerpt

“Are you ready?” Jesse asks me.

Am I ready? No. Do I have to do this? Yes. “Where are you going to be?”

“There is a nearby record store I wanted to check out. Depending how long you take, I might go back to the hotel and call Bethany. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. Just call me, either way. Even if I don’t make it down the block.”

“Okay.” I’m glad he has something to do. It will be embarrassing if I end up calling him after a short time, but I know Jesse won’t be judgmental, which is why I let him accompany me on this trip. “I’ll call you when I’m done.”

Jesse rubs my thigh before I get out. “Good luck, Cori.”

I give him an uneasy grin as I step out of the passenger seat. I can feel my whole body shaking. Jesse reverses slowly, and I give him a weak wave as he drives away. I like that he is giving me privacy. I need to do this on my own.

I take five calming breaths and begin to move my shaky legs towards the front door. Shivers run up and down my spine. I’m covered in goose bumps. I can’t believe I am actually doing this. It’s surreal. A million thoughts run through my mind, and by the time I get to the door, I realize I have no idea what I am going to say to her. I don’t think, ‘Hi, I’m the daughter you abandoned almost twenty five years ago’ is a great opener.

I stand in front of my mom’s house for a couple minutes, just trying to collect my thoughts and process through my head that I am actually standing in front of my mom’s house. I decide it’s like pulling off a band aid and I just need to knock on the door. Before my mind convinces me to chicken out, I lift my fist and knock on the door.

When I hear movement coming from inside the house, I’m tempted to turn around and book it. I keep my feet firmly planted on the ground, as I keep reminding myself that I can do this. A few seconds later the door opens, and I am almost certain my heart stops for a good couple of beats.

The woman who opens the door is of average height, with a petite waist. She is extremely beautiful. She has the same porcelain doll skin as I do, but unlike me she has shoulder length, straight blonde hair. She has a small nose, with big blue eyes that are darker in colour than mine. Her lips are full, and she is wearing a cream cashmere sweater with dark blue denim jeans. She has a few soft wrinkles on the corners of her eyes, but opposed from that she looks almost too young to be my mom.

“Meredith Holmes?” I ask.

She gives me a puzzled look, letting me know that she has no idea who I am. My stomach drops shortly, but I regain myself, as she answers. “That’s me. How can I help you?”

The Author

Avery Woods lives in beautiful, but sometimes rainy Vancouver, BC, Canada. In addition to writing, Avery Woods works as a full time Registered Nurse. When she’s not writing or working as a nurse you can find her consuming books by the minute. Trust is her first book.

Connect with her at her website, on Facebook or Twitter, and follow her on Goodreads

Buy Now

All the purchase links can be found here

Spice up your summer with SPICE BRINGER

I read fantasy. Fantasy makes me happy. And there are a few authors who I will always pick up their books. H.L. Burke, author of SPICE BRINGER, is one of those.

I’m in Ms. Burke’s “fan” group on Facebook. I’ve been hearing about this book since it was an idea that was keeping her from focusing on another project. So…for awhile now.

I voted on character names. Each of the tidbits she shared as she wrote it piqued my curiosity. My opinion was cast when she asked for input about the blurb.

But it was at that point I told myself, “This is going to be a sad book. I don’t think I’ll read it.”

And that’s why I signed up for an advance copy.

Wait! What? It doesn’t make sense to you that I’d volunteer to read and review a book I’d decided I wasn’t going to read?

It was a book by H. L. Burke. I wanted to read it (even thought I didn’t want to read it). So I convinced myself that the best thing to do was get a free copy, and that way if it was too sad for words, I wouldn’t have spend money on it.

Makes perfect sense, right? *holds up hand*


What’s the Story?

This is a tale of three people on individual quests. Their goals bring them together.

Niya has known she’s living on borrowed time for her entire life. She dreams of seeing the sea and riding an elephant, but she’s happy to spend her days in the grove caring for the spice that keeps her alive.

Unfortunately, the princess of the realm believes she needs the fire salamander that helps the vitrisar seeds to germinate and grow in order to ascend her adoptive father’s throne. When her eagerness to snatch the beast sets the grove on fire, Niya must take the remaining plant and Alk, the fire salamander, to a safe place.

Early in this journey, Niya runs into people who want to steal the spice she’s carrying. It’s rare and valuable. Jayesh, a monk on his own quest, saves her from robbers and joins her. He’s searching for redemption. His lack of faith in his god cost people their lives, and now he’s trying to atone for that. Helping Niya fits into his plans.

They travel. They meet people. Their beliefs are tested. Eventually, they face the princess. Can they convince her that their quest will benefit the empire than hers?

My Thoughts

Once I started this book, I didn’t want to put it down.

But I did. Because I also didn’t want it to end.

I hate books like that. I mean because I LOVE them, so why can’t they go on forever?

These three characters are realistic and relatable. You want to despise the princess because of the heartache she causes for Niya, but since Burke gives you scenes from the princess’s point of view, you know what’s motivating her. And it’s a reasonable and justifiable motivation.

Even if she’s being manipulated.

Niya’s death sentence makes her live every moment to the full. But it also makes her leery of emotional attachments. After all, she’s going to die, and whoever loves her will be brokenhearted.

Jayesh has his own baggage. His tendency to over-think every decision and wait to act puts him in conflict with Niya’s immediacy. Since he rescues her at their first meeting, we cheer him on to the end. He’s a good guy and he deserves to find the redemption he seeks.

There is a not-so-obvious allegory in this story. The three gods that act together could represent the Trinity. Each of the gods have an attribute that is also one of God’s characteristics: Kind, Just and All-Knowing. The battle between good and evil is clear.

The magical elements are neatly interwoven into the setting and characters. It was easy to believe each one. Burke does a great job of explaining what could be unbelievable in a way that doesn’t rob it of it’s mysticism (The Force was way more interesting before it was explained).

I laughed at the character dialog and interaction. I cried at the heartaches and losses. And I predicted who would make the first and greatest sacrifice.

My Recommendation

If you read young adult fantasy, this book is for you. If you like quest stories, this is a story you don’t want to miss.

You like snarky heroines? Me too! You’ll get that and an even MORE sarcastic fire salamander. The bi-play between the two will make you laugh.

Maybe you think stories should have a deeper message, not be solely for entertainment. Well then, why are you still reading this? Go get this book. Download it today and see if you aren’t moved by the themes underlying the adventure.

Yes, there’s romance in this story. It’s not sappy. And it’s not typical.

In fact, the only people who might not enjoy this story are people who despise fantasy, especially if it has a hint of allegory. Otherwise, this is a five star read guaranteed to take you from hilarity to suspense to tears and back again.

SPICE BRINGER is the perfect spice for the final weekend of summer (and any other time of year).

Your Peek at UNEXPECTED

It’s finally Friday. All week, I’ve been throwing tidbits from the amazing stories in the ONE SULTRY DAY anthology. But you follow me, and you’ve been waiting for today’s excerpt.

I know you have. Well, I hope you have.

But…a few weeks ago, I made a promise to the people who agreed to admit they were my friend (or maybe even a fan of my writing) and join an exclusive Facebook group.

The promise: I will only share excerpts of my work in the group.

And…I can’t break my word.

BUT…while this is a closed group, I’m happy to add anyone to the group.

So, if you want to read today’s excerpt, you’ll have to click over to the Facebook group. I’ll have the excerpt front and center.

If you’d rather avoid all that and just read the entire story, click on the book cover, and buy away.

Or maybe you’ll take your chances and try to WIN a copy (or $10 from Amazon which will purchase TWO electronic copies). If that’s your game plan, click on the meme below and follow the giveaway instructions.

The Grand Prize: TEN bucks to spend at Amazon

Otherwise, I hope to see you over at Facebook. If you’re going there from here, will you comment on the excerpt post that that’s how you found it? I’m doing a little market research.

Thanks for reading. And Happy Friday!

 

A Sneak Peak at a Ghostly Good Romance

I hope you’re not tired of this anthology yet, because there are still TWO more stories you haven’t sampled. Read on for more for ONE SULTRY DAY of romance reading.

Don’t forget to enter the contest at the bottom of the page. There are several ways to get entries, and I know you want to win TEN BUCKS to spend at Amazon.

Today’s Excerpt

Excerpt from Ghosts of Lost Summers by T.E. Hodden

“How many beers did you have?” I asked.

“Not enough to make that mistake,” she sighed. “Good night Bunny.”

“Good night Alice.”

She got out the car, and looked back as she reached the door. She wore a smile I hadn’t seen before. She stopped and walked back to the car, holding up a hand to stop me driving off. She pulled open the car door, and leant over me.

“Alice?” I asked, my throat feeling like it was made out thorns, my heart running so fast I felt weightless.

“You aren’t the mistake.” She wouldn’t look in my eyes. “You didn’t think I meant that?”

“I don’t think you meant that, but I think I would be a mistake.”

“No.” She held up her finger. “No. The kiss… the moment… would have been the mistake. I said it wrong. You will make the right woman very, very, happy, with a kiss like that. You would make me happy, but right now it would be a mistake. I know it’s a mistake for you. I know what you drag out of bed with you every morning. I carry it too. It would be. I know Phil was a while ago, and he has moved on, and he has Taylor now, but… I’m not ready for this. A date? I could do a date, dates are silly, and fun, and even when they go wild, it’s…with somebody I could happily walk away from and never have to see. But, this? A moment like this, with a good friend? A trusted friend? I… don’t want to walk away from you. This would be a mistake.”

“I know.” I stroked her cheek.

“Do I have to say sorry?” She muttered.

“I knew what you meant.” I smiled. “I appreciate it.”

“You do?” Her smile blossomed with relief. It was like a summer day dawning behind her eyes.

I nodded.

“Okay.” She kissed my forehead. “Good night Bunny.”

“Goodnight Alice.” I let her slip away.

When she was back in the building, I could breathe. I gripped the wheel and screwed my eyes closed, and concentrated on breathing, on not letting my heart punch its way out of my chest. I begged my hormones to stop flooding my veins, my flesh to stand down from the precipice of hunger, and for primordial, instinctual, bits of my brain to stop imagining all the wonders that might have resulted if only our lips had brushed together, and my hand had found the small of her back, to hold her to me, to welcome her.

All those little thoughts, all those little whispers to myself I had been burying deep and locking away bubbled up to the surface.

“No. No. No.” I chided myself. “That is not… I can’t… I shouldn’t…”

Those were true.

“I don’t,” I told myself, knowing it was a lie. “She’s just a friend. It’s all I want.”

I didn’t need to see Hannah to know she was painfully, keenly, aware of the lies I told myself.

Want to read more? Click here to get your copy of ONE SULTRY DAY.

What’s Inside the Anthology

There are FOUR stories from FOUR different authors with unique style and voice.

Second Chance Summer by Lily Carlyle

Escorts for Hire – Heartaches for Free by Deryn Pittar

Ghosts of Lost Summers by T.E. Hodden

Unexpected by Sharon Hughson

You’re sure to find one summer romance to lose yourself in. And maybe you’ll discover a new author to love.

Scavenge to Win

If you’re not positive you will love these stories, how about reading them for free?

There is a Rafflecopter giveaway. You could win:

  • A $10 Amazon Gift care
  • A digital copy of ONE SULTRY DAY (Three available)

Click and enter now!

PEEK INSIDE Summer’s Most Romantic Anthology

If you want to keep that summer romance alive, ONE SULTRY DAY is the perfect choice. And who doesn’t want a little romance in every day?

Four Stories

Escorts for Hire – Heartaches for Free by Deryn Pittar

University drop-out and current barista, Lexi Fletcher-Bain upgrades to a position as a quality controller for a new agency established by her friend Jess. An agency designed to provide escorts for discerning women.  Anything’s better than driving an espresso machine. Despite her shattered ego after a disastrous breakup, Lexi decides to try it for a month.

Sadly, the assessments aren’t any more fun than making espresso. The first subject, Jeremy Miller, gets the Aunt Freda special and Lexi manages to send him running for the last train back to the city.  Her second assessment is ruined by an accidental meeting with her ex-fiancé Simon.

Back at the cafe, things get more complicated when Jeremy looks her up wanting a do-over. When Jess says Simon has applied to be an escort, Lexi is forced to explain why she broke off their engagement and why Jess shouldn’t hire him.

The bigger question: why is Jeremy no longer available?

Ghosts of Summers Past by T.E. Hodden

For five years Bunny has never once felt alone. He has been haunted by the tragedy that stole Hanna, his first true love from him, and has always felt her presence on one shoulder, and blame on the other.

Now Alice, a minor star from the show he writes, is on the verge of becoming more than just a friend, and the sun-baked palm beaches are almost feeling like home.

Can Bunny face the ghosts of his past? Or is history about to repeat itself in the most terrible of ways?

Unexpected by Sharon Hughson

Grad student Ivory Konner relishes a summer of guiding rafts on the Wenatchee River far from the expectations of her parents and the reminders of her recent dumping. Falling in love is the furthest thing from her mind when a thin guy and his dog nearly send her plummeting off the trail.

Cancer survivor Prescott Colyer drops out of college, escapes to his uncle’s photo gallery in Leavenworth, WA, and quietly pursues his art. But when an unexpected encounter during a hike exposes him to pain-free physical contact, he risks everything for a girl who’s not interested in romance, not even for the summer.

Once Ivory connects with Prescott’s art, she offers to help him build a business. As they spend time together, her heart takes on its own mission.

Can their unexpected encounter urge Prescott out of isolation? Will Ivory include love in her long-term plan?

Second Chance Summer by Lily Carlyle

Twenty years ago, Summer and Jason’s summer romance seemed destined to last. Until Summer abruptly broke it off, with little explanation. Heartbroken, Jason leaves the Outer Banks—indeed, the entire East Coast—waiting two decades to return. When he comes home to settle his great-aunt’s estate, one of the first people he sees is Summer.

She’s ready to tell him the truth about that summer. But is he ready to listen?

Today’s Excerpt

Excerpt from ‘Escorts for Hire – Heartaches Free’ by Deryn Pittar

She’d chosen the tearooms because of their proximity to the train station and had arrived before the time she’d told him on the phone. She wanted to be able to observe him before he realized who she was.  Of course, having his photo gave her a distinct advantage, whereas he was looking for a woman wearing a floral dress carrying a largish, red sisal bag and wearing a sunhat, which now hung on the back of the third chair at the table. Perhaps she should stand outside to get a clearer view. She made to rise then sat again. Was this him?

Yes, she recognized his face from the photo she had and he was tall, very tall compared to her 5 ft. 2”. Just as well she wore sandals with a reasonable wedged hell which gave her another 2” in height. Despite his long legs he didn’t stride, he sort of strolled with a slight swing to his hips. His blond hair flopped over his forehead, cut short at the sides and long on top  in what seemed to be the current  trend. A pale chambray shirt over dark blue jeans, his pullover draped over his shoulders, its arms half knotted across his chest. Very casual chic. He looked absolutely delicious. Where did that thought spring from? Here she was, off men altogether and suddenly her brain had woken up from a long sleep and declared an interest.

He stood a short distance away from the tearoom’s doorway and checked his watch then after putting his hand in his pocket ran a comb through his hair, pulling back the fallen fringe.

Note to self: early for appointments, dresses well, takes care with his appearance.

Her heart sank. He walked away and to her horror disappeared around a corner across the road. What? He was abandoning her without even meeting. How could she explain this to Jess? How embarrassing. She left the table, waving her hand at the waitress. “Looking for my friend,” she explained and walked outside. The heat hit her. Unbelievable for this time of the day. The stone paving had already absorbed enough sunshine to reflect heat and the highest temperature for this summer was predicted for this afternoon.

She stood, feeling foolish and sad as early shoppers bustled around and past her. Once again the last girl left standing without a partner while everyone else danced. It wasn’t fair. She hitched her bag over her shoulder and decided to give him a few more minutes to change his mind and come back. After all, checking her watch, it really was just on half nine.

“Excuse me, would you be Alexandria?”

He’d returned, sneaked up on her from the side. His blue eyes set below arched eyebrows held her gaze and even as she thought to look away, she couldn’t. Ignoring the flip-flop in her chest as her heart bounced with excitement she got a grip and stood as tall as she could and gave him her best smile. This could be fun after all.

Want to keep reading? Click here to purchase the anthology from your favorite retailer.

One Fantastic Giveaway

In order to celebrate this newest release, I’m running a contest. The mandatory portion of this “Rafflecopter” is a scavenger hunt of sorts. You visit either websites, blogs or Facebook pages to find the answer to the question.
I promise, the answers are front-and-center and so obvious all but a blind person could find them. (No slight to my plethora of unsighted readers intended.)

Besides the scavenger hunt, there are multiple ways to enter, including visiting Facebook pages or following authors on different platforms. Four entrants will win.

The prizes:

The Grand Prize: TEN bucks to spend at Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THREE winners of a digital copy of the anthology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re always game for cash to spend at Amazon and/or FREE books, click on the link. Enter by visiting the authors’ pages.
To make it simple, the answer to my scavenger hunt clue can be found in the blurb from “Unexpected” (scroll back up to see it).
I’ve always liked the summer camp romances. What’s your favorite summer romance trope?

Read on for your Second Chance at Summer Romance

I’ve been hinting about my next story for weeks (okay, months). Yesterday, One Sultry Day went live at retailers everywhere.

There’s a contest. Scroll to the end of the post for details and a link to the entrance form.

BUT…I know it’s a risk to buy stories written by strangers. So, I’ve promised to share an excerpt from each of the stories. Each author has graciously contributed up to 500 words from their story.

Today’s Peek

Read on for an excerpt from ‘Second Chance Summer’ by Lily Carlyle:

 

Jason poured himself a large cup of coffee and went to the register to pay.

“Mornin’. That be all?” A t-shirt with “KDH Pier” emblazoned across it stretched tight over the cashier’s bosom and round belly, and although she did not have a cigarette dangling out the side of her mouth, both her demeanor and her voice suggested she might have just recently stubbed one out.

Jason dug three ones out of his wallet.

“You on vacation? Haven’t seen you before.” She punched keys on the old-fashioned cash register, took his proffered money, and handed him some change.

Jason hesitated, unsure whether she was being friendly or nosy. After so many years on the west coast, he wasn’t accustomed to strangers asking personal questions. “This is my first time here in 20 years. I just inherited a cottage, so I’ll be around most of the summer.”

“Yeah? Who died?”

Taken aback by her directness, Jason blinked, but was saved from answering by someone lining up behind him.

“Jake, dude, I haven’t seen you forever.” Her husky voice rose slightly as she greeted the person behind him.

Happily stepping aside out of the limelight, Jason turned and came face to face with the young man he’d seen earlier running on the beach. He blanched, realizing why the young man had looked so familiar. He was the masculine version of Summer. His hair was the same shade of rich, dark chestnut, and the high planes of his cheekbones were identical to hers. Even his gesture, as he swept the sweat-dampened hair off his forehead, reminded Jason of Summer.

He could feel his mind churning, trying to process this bit of information. Summer must have a son. Then he reminded himself, this could be a nephew. Or even a cousin.

As if to help him find an answer, the woman behind the counter interrupted his thoughts with her grating voice. “Where’s your mom? I haven’t seen her in forever.”

Jason tried to subtly lean in so as not to miss the young man’s response.

Jake shrugged and pulled on the water he’d just bought. “She’s been busy, I guess. She was at my grandparents’ a few days. Just got back last night.”

“Tell her I said hi and to stop being such a damned snob. She hardly comes around anymore.”

“Sure thing.” The young man turned to leave, rolling his eyes at Jason as he passed. He probably assumed Jason’s dazed expression was entirely in response to the cashier’s inquisitiveness.

He watched Jake walk away. Even his stride reminded him of Summer’s, not to mention his rangy build and long legs.

A husky cough drew his attention back to the woman behind the counter.

“He’s too young for you.” She straightened some straws in a container next to the register.

“What?” Then realization dawned. “Oh, God, no. He just reminds me of someone I used to know.” He took a big gulp of the bitter coffee, and although it burned from both temperature and sheer badness the whole way down, he never flinched.

“Is his last name Ingalls?” Jason tried to sound casual.

“Jake’s? Nah, he’s a Foster.”

Jason heaved a sigh of relief, but before he was finished exhaling, the woman added. “But his mom’s maiden name was Ingalls. Summer Ingalls. You might know her.”

Conscious of his quaking legs, Jason pulled out a stool from under the counter, and sat down with studied casualness lest he collapse on the floor. “How old is Jake?”

She narrowed her eyes at him, as if offended by his curiosity. “I dunno. 19, 20? I barely know how old my own kids are, let alone everyone else’s in Kill Devil Hills.”

Jason didn’t answer but pretended to watch the TV suspended behind the counter while he sipped the gut-burning coffee. His stomach churned, not so much from the disgusting coffee, but from his own suspicions.

Was Jake his son?

 

Can’t stand the suspense? Need to read more? Grab your copy of ONE SULTRY DAY now.

What Else You’ll Get

Since One Sultry Day is an anthology, that means you’ll get FOUR complete stories. Each one is written by a different author.

Although each one has something to do with summer, they are quite unique and distinct.

You’re a fan of escort services and accidental romances? Escorts for Hire – Heartaches for Free by Deryn Pittar

You like a little mystery or spookiness with your love story? Ghosts of Lost Summers by T.E. Hodden

Love comes in unexpected places, and those are the tales you enjoy reading. You’ll enjoy Unexpected by Sharon Hughson (yes, that’s me)

Still not sure? Come back tomorrow for a peek inside another story.

Enter to Win

The Grand Prize: TEN bucks to spend at Amazon

There’s a little scavenger hunt. Enter your answers in the Rafflecopter form. The more stops you make and the more answers you give (pages you visit or people you follow) the better your chance to win either:

  • A $10 Amazon Gift Card or
  • A digital copy of One Sultry Day

Make sure you check back here tomorrow for another peek inside the anthology of sweet romances. It’s one way to insure there’s a little romance in your summer.