Tag: romance

Another Year is Ending

It seems like only a month or two ago and I was working out the word of the year for 2018. Now it’s time to introduce the word for 2019.

Where has the time gone?

And so much has happened for me this year. It’s crazy! And unbelievable.

But choosing Metamorphosis for my theme word last year turned out to be more accurate than I’d planned.

Remember how I was going to change my brand and my focus.

It all started with hiring a designer to help all my posts have a certain look.


I joined Novel Academy, mostly for the weekly live classes.

Then I went to the Deep Thinker’s Writing Retreat. And while I was there, I messed up the story I was working on. Because the SEQ’s for the characters revealed more story background than I could reveal in a 30,000-word novella.

I released my second book to Kindle Worlds in March. Then Kindle Worlds announced they would be closing in July. What? I had planned three more novellas to release in that world for the year.

So much for those plans.

Thankfully, the owner of the First Street Church Kindle World decided to open her own publishing company. I was SO thrilled about this.

I wrote the story for the July 3 release that wasn’t going to happen now that Amazon had closed Kindle Worlds. I submitted the manuscript to the new press, and it come out at the same time my first two novellas re-released.


August was a busy month for me. Those three novellas came out, and a short story I’d written for a summer romance anthology with my first publisher, Roane Publshing, also released.

I ran a contest and found a few new subscribers for my newsletter. I also tried a different method of finding an Advance Review Team, and of the twenty-two books I gave away, nine people reviewed ONE SULTRY DAY.

My sister and I visited our brother in New York City over Labor Day weekend. When I got home, I was hard at work at the contracted novella for Sweet Promise Press (to release April 2019).

At the end of the month, my husband and I attended a marriage seminar in Florida. It was hot and wonderful.

While I was there, my publisher, Roane Publishing, notified us that they were closing their doors after seven years.

This ripped my heart out.

Half of my published works disappeared the next week.

This was NOT the metamorphosis of my brand I had in mind last December when I was coming up with that word.

Strangely, my remaining works were all Christian. It was like someone else DID have a big plan.


While I was working on the romantic comedy and outlining two novellas to write for National Novel Writing Month, an idea for a Bible study book gelled. I outlined that, too, and wrote some of it while on vacation with my husband.

After the big closing announcement (two in one year? Really, God?), it was difficult to focus on anything. But I did. And I determined that 2019 will be a building year for me.

I’m going to build my newsletter list. I’m going to build my new brand as a Christian writer. And one of the ways I’m going to do it is by expanding the REFLECTIONS FROM A PONDERING HEART into a series. (More on that later.)

I struggled to write 50,000 words in 30 days for National Novel Writing Month. But I did finally manage it.

Then it was December. I had to rewrite the romantic comedy, beef up my character motivations and figure out how to make it funnier without losing the serious essence that is my trademark.

I spent a week in Hawaii. So this post was written early.

Based on the clues I’ve given, what do you think my word will be for 2019?

Do you pick a theme verse or a theme word each year? If so, what will yours be?

Writing “The End”

November. It’s golden leaves turn brown and crunch beneath the soles of my shoes. (Shoes and socks?! Ugh!) Then the wind blows them away.

Meanwhile…at my computer…

National Novel Writing Month compels me to write at least 50,000 words.

For the past five years, I’ve attempted to accomplish this feat before Thanksgiving. Since the first day of the month was a Thursday, my favorite holiday came early this year.

Which means my Nanowrimo deadline came later.

Day One

It begins. I’m excited. I have prepped the two Scrivener files I’m using for the next two First Street Church romance novellas. If I draft both of them fully, that should take me closer to 60,000 words.

There’s a write-in at a local coffee shop from 1 PM to 3 PM. There are only two of us there, but words pour from our fingertips.

I update my word count on the nanowrimo.org website as frequently as possible.

Day Two

I’ve decided to write all Bailey Travers’ point of view scenes first and then return to write the shero scene. This is exactly how I wrote my young adult fantasy novel during November two years ago.

By the end of the day, I have 8,000 words.

Write on!

Day Three and Four

The weekend. I don’t usually write on weekends. This means I won’t get the badge for updating my word count five days in a row. *sad face*

Day Five

I’m scheduled to work at St. Helens Middle School. This position involves teaching seventh grade science for four hours and monitoring a study hall for an hour.

During the hour prep period, I start Jaz’s first scene.

Since I’m showing the same movie and discussing the same work sheet during all four class periods, I manage to finish writing the scene during the afternoon class sessions.

Day Six

I need to research a few items about the Texas Family Protective Services for Jaz’s story line. Also, I’ve missed my Monday scheduling of Facebook and Social Media, so my morning is unproductive as far as word count goes.

In the afternoon, I finish off all of Bailey’s scenes. I’ll be ready for Jaz in the morning.

Day Seven

I wake up with a sore throat.

Day Eight

I’m still lethargic from not completing the usual workout stuff. I’m in the Hot Seat during the weekly Novel Academy webinar, so I work on the dark moment for Tessa, the shero of the second novella I intend to write during November.

I do manage to get the SEQ filled out (although it changes somewhat during my 30 minutes of fame online), and write a scene from Jaz’s point of view.

I’m still ahead in the word count.

Day Nine

Finally, I have a 4,000-word writing day.

Word count by day-end: 20,875

Day Ten – Eleven

Weekend Again. I write this blog post and do laundry. Sunday, there’s church.

Day Twelve

Conquer the FINAL scene of November novella #1

(Yes, this manuscript might need additional scenes to complete it, but I’m ready for Tessa Travers to face her demons and fall in love.)

Except wait…this scene refuses to be written today, so on to the the opening scene of Tessa’s story. Hey, at least I wrote a couple thousand words.

Day Thirteen

Thanks to the repeated listening of John chapter 11, my writer’s brain gets a new idea. It would include redesigning the cover this book:

And releasing it as A PONDERING HEART next Christmas. After that, another new book written from the perspective of other Bible women would be released each month until Easter 2020, when the fourth (and possibly final) REFLECTIONS book would come out. (Thus, it’s a series so a cover redesign is imperative so all the covers can feel similar and I can’t afford to hire the cover designer who created what you see above for THREE additional covers.)

So, I wrote a scene for that first story (Maybe A SERVANT’S GIFT) to the total of 1,527 words.

Afterward, my muse allowed me to finish Jaz and Bailey’s story.

Thank you, Ms. Muse.

Daily total: 3,556 words

Day Fourteen

Edits on LOVE’S RECOVERING HOPE.

Must. Submit. To. Publisher. This. Week.

Day Sixteen

Tonight’s the night. Our local writers show up at the public library at 5PM and write and write and write.

Creative energy buzzes around us, increasing everyone’s typing speed.

There is pizza. There are sweet treats. Some drink coffee and others consume tea.

The past three years, I reached 50,000 words on this night.

So not happening this year. But the camaraderie is delightful and the story unfolds.

Day Nineteen

More of the same. Some scenes fly off my fingers. Others feel like I’m cutting them out with a dull Exact-o blade.

But…eventually…I reach the end of the second novella.

It’s Finally Over

Not really. Come January or February, these two stories will be subjected to my extensive rewriting and revising process before finding their way to beta readers and my editor.

If you’re a faithful reader, I’m planning for them to release in April and June 2019.

But, what is finally finished is the insanity of National Novel Writing Month.

Goodbye, November.

I’ll be heading to Hawaii in three weeks…and I’ve got some revising to do on my other April release before then.

The “Choices” I’d Like to Make

In October, I made a huge mistake. It involved my iPad and game applications.

Once upon a time, I played Candy Crush. Then I rammed against a level I couldn’t conquer. But I still opened the application and spent my lives every day. Then friends sent me lives.

It became a time suck.

So I deleted the application.

But recently, I wanted a little “down time” for my brain. So I downloaded Matchington Mansion.

This was a BAD idea.

I want to get through all the tasks. Which means I have to play the levels to earn stars (because you KNOW I’m not spending money on those things).

Don’t download this time sucking game if you have a competitive streak.

Stupid Ads

Most games have an option to watch video advertisements so you can earn coins or stars or diamonds.

I don’t want to watch ads.

But sometimes I needed the coins. Truly. Because I was this *holds fingers an inch apart* close to beating a tough level.
Now I’m stuck on level 204.


Thankfully, there was an ad for a “free” story game. Choices is the name of the application.

Of course, I downloaded it because I wasn’t beating that level on MM. And when I tried, it stressed me out, so I needed another game to help me relax.

Who Writes These Stories

I’m a storyteller, so the idea of choosing the story line makes me happy. Most of the “books” were romances. Many geared to teenagers, but who doesn’t want to go back and make high school a happy memory.

I should have known.

If the story possibilities aren’t ridiculous, the good choices are going to cost me.

In this game, it’s all about diamonds. A dozen here will give you time to build your friendship with someone. Fifteen here will make you the hero of the day. Not to mention the 18 needed for the perfect homecoming dress.

At a mere $1.99 for 20, why not?


Why?

Why did I ever start playing these games?

Now there’s a new one called The Elementalists with magic and a college where they’ll train me to use magic I didn’t even know I had.
It only costs 15 diamonds for those cool magical orbs. And a mere 17 diamonds will give me private tutoring sessions with the smart kid.
Yeah, I’m done for. Today I actually looked at buying 60 diamonds because it worked out to TEN for FREE. Because since starting the Choices adventure, I’ve purchased at least 60 diamonds (more like 120, but don’t tell anyone).
May as well get a deal.

Help!

Send iTunes gift cards. For $19.99, I could purchase 250 diamonds! That should keep me in the coolest of Choices for a week or two.
What about you? Have you made some unhealthy choices recently?

A Review of TRUTH

My small publishers always want MORE people to read and review their titles. They also offer the opportunity for their authors to read any book for free in exchange for an honest review. By now, they know my truthful reviews aren’t generally worth five stars.

I volunteered to read an advance copy of TRUTH by Avery Woods because the blurb was appealing.

A few weeks before the release, the author emailed me to thank me for promising to review the book. I emailed her back to say that the review would be for three stars and that I would wait to post it if she wanted.

She told me to post it right away. I loved her confidence, and I think you’ll find that as you read her story.

The 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?

My Review

Cori and Jesse didn’t engage me. I didn’t buy their motivations.

This is a common complaint for me in romance novels. Many authors believe they’re telling the story of the romance, but if I don’t connect with the desires of the characters, the story–no  matter how incredible–falls flat.

Much of this was the story of Cori discovering she didn’t truly love the man she was with and that she wanted to find out the truth about her mother, who she assumed was dead. I will give Kudos to Ms. Woods for adding a twist to the “true heritage” for Cori. It wasn’t your average, “mom died when I was young” or “given up for adoption” background.

Jesse’s story with his sister didn’t compel me in the least. Yes, it’s a common issue and the author handled it gracefully. But I felt like the events were relayed to the reader. How did Jesse feel? Why did he feel that way? What made him bond with Bethany so much?

And when we discovered Jesse’s wound, the opportunity for deep connection with him had already been lost. A powerful backstory didn’t engage me because Jesse never felt anything. Or I should say I was never invited to experience anything along with him.

The actual romance between these two felt rushed. My favorite romances are friends who become lovers, and that’s one of the reasons I picked this book up to read. But even their friendship developing happened before the story began and I was expected to believe they were friends when all I really saw was Jesse’s crush and Cori’s distance (because her boyfriend was the jealous sort).

The story earns three out of five stars from me.

My Recommendation

Romance readers will likely enjoy this story. I expected more character development based on the blurb and then I didn’t truly connect with the characters.

Readers who like the slow reveal of an unexpected secret might find more here than they bargained for. While the story and characters didn’t engage me, it wasn’t because of poor writing.

You can grab a copy of this book from the publisher, Amazon, Amazon UK, B & N, Bookstrand, Kobo and Smashwords. Ms. Woods would appreciate if you would leave your own review at the retailer of purchase and Goodreads.

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!

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.

Get Ready for ONE SULTRY DAY

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO
ONE SULTRY DAY!

One Sultry Day
A Sweet Romance Anthology
 
 
Escorts for Hire – Heartaches for Free by Deryn Pittar
 
University drop-out and current barista, Sandi Fletcher-Bain is offered a position as a quality controller for a new agency, established by her friend Jess and designed to provide escorts for discerning women.Anything has to be better than driving an espresso machine and despite her shattered ego after a disastrous romance Sandi accepts the position providing she can trial it for a month. 


Sandi’s first assessment subject is Jeremy Miller, tall, blonde and rather dishy. She takes him home for the day under the pretence of viewing the estate’s gardens, pretending she’s never been there before. Aunt Freda dispels that lie and after an evening meal Sandi manages to offend Jeremy to the extent that instead of staying the night he leaves to catch the last train back to the city. While their relationship fizzed and cooled during the day she has to admit he has all the qualities required to be an escort. It were her faults that caused the problems.
With Nicholas, her second assessment, she is honest from the beginning and their visit to her parent’s home is an enjoyable day out, ruined only by an accidental meeting with her ex-fiancé Simon. This destroys her confidence and she gives up being a quality controller, it’s no fun at all, and returns to cafe work.

Jeremy finds her and asks to begin their friendship afresh; admitting that the good wine had something to do with his previous reactions.

Meanwhile Jess says Simon has applied to be an escort and Sandi is forced to explain why she broke off their engagement and why Jess shouldn’t hire him.

And why is Jeremy no longer available Jess wants to know?

 

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?



Love Unexpected by Sharon Hughson


Grad student Ivory Konner relishes a summer of guiding rafts on the Wenatchee River for from the expectations of her parents and the reminders of her recent dumping. She isn’t looking for romance 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 his collision on a hiking trail exposes him to physical contact without pain, 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 CarlyleTwenty 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?

 
 

Come back tomorrow (and the rest of the week) for EXCLUSIVE excerpts from EACH story.

Also…there’s a giveaway.