Smart Girls Read Romance

Smart Girls Read Romance -- so do the bestselling and award-winning Authors who write this blog. Join them as they dish about Books, Romance, Love, and Life.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Should She Shift Or Should She Soar?


I never thought I’d ask myself that question as I’m working on a story, but the creative pursuit of what might be has taken me on some amazing and unexpected writing journeys. If anyone had told me several years ago that I would create a Young Adult fantasy romance series with wolf shifters and other fantastical creatures and characters, I would’ve been mightily surprised. I began fiction writing in solid historical romance. Then ghosts appeared, and ‘The door to nowhere' opened--a portal in time--and a bearwalking Shawnee Warrior growled to life. Add some magic, a dash of fantasy, and the next thing I know, I'm on the engrossing path to Wapicoli Lodge. Given all of this, I must admit the seeds of The Secret Warrior Series were sown long before I undertook this supernatural adventure.
These writing journeys remind me of the wonderful quote from The Lord of the Rings: “It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien
I never know where I may be swept off to in my imagination. Undertaking a new series in a new genre is definitely a potentially dangerous business. I've entered uncharted territory. Whether or not this series meets with approval, I have loved every step of the journey. If you enjoy the stories, please leave them a kind review, and yes, you need to read them in order.
I can't share The Panther Moon, book 3 in The Secret Warrior Series, without touching on the series itself, and the whys behind it. Passion, knowledge, and various influences lie at the heart of these stories. My love of history, mystery, fantasy, and fascination with the mountain people and Native Americans ignited a wildfire of ideas. Some episodes of Monster Quest drew my attention to how many supposed creatures inhabit the Alleghenies--including werewolves and space aliens. The TV show Grimm explores the hidden world among us...These all deepened my pondering.

On an autumn drive into the Allegheny Mountains (pictured above from that trek), it struck me how easily anything could hide in these rugged ridges. And Fort Valley, called Hidden Valley in the series, is tucked in the Massanutten Mountain Range, truly off the beaten path. Getting back there involved the most hair-raising drive over a mountain I've ever experienced--depicted in the beginning of The Hunter's Moon (Book 1). The ascent is so steepI was certain our pickup would flip over backwards. The curves are also a nightmare. But it was an inspiring trek, one I never would have written the story without. Those of you who fear the wilderness is disappearing, it's still out there. Trust me.
Living in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia surrounded by mountains veiled in mist and mystery was perfect creating the characters and setting for this series. Some characters are based on lore I've learned over the years—lore some folk swear is true. Others appeared to me, as characters have a way of doing. Out of the mist. Even though the series is fantasy, a great deal of research went into it. Everything I write, whether fantasy, paranormal, time travel, or straight historical, has its roots in the well-researched past.
In The Hunter’s Moon, 17-year-old Morgan Daniel begins this journey much as I did, in ignorance. She must learn about the strange world she’s entered, and the bizarre, but vital, role she’s destined to play. The meeting between her and alpha shifter Jackson Wapicoli sets off sparks, but when the curse she’s lived her entire life unaware of is revealed, the learning curve is mind-blowing. Good thing Morgan has guts and a lot of support. And then there's the prophecy...
The Panther Moon is in pre-order now, out on the 30th. The story will be available in kindle and print at Amazon, and in eBook from all major online booksellers. 
Story Blurb:
Being the seventh Morcant has its perks: Morgan is learning to fly and wield magical blue fire.

But the coyote shifters are growing bolder. Mateo and his panthers seem impossible to defeat. And vampires aren't real – are they?

When the elusive and enigmatic Chief Okema disappears and the wards protecting the Wapicoli territory falter, Morgan and Jackson are forced into the role of leaders. Badly outnumbered and outgunned, do they have time to search for the secret of the Divining Tree, and will it help them in the final battle? 

The Panther Moon (The Secret Warrior Series) is on a book blog tour with prizes. It runs through the 30th. The link for the tour is: http://www.itchingforbooks.com/2016/09/blog-tour-giveawaythe-panther-moon-by.html



Monday, September 26, 2016

There's Always Something Special About Your First

We all have memories of a lot of firsts in our lives. Our first bra; we were growing up! Our first kiss: two guppies smacking lips. Our first pregnancy; ugh, the morning sickness. Our first homemade Thanksgiving turkey...you mean we had to thaw it first??? Please tell me I'm not the only dummy out there. And, for writers, our first published book. 

Mine was a contemporary western, STORM'S INTERLUDE, that released with The Wild Rose Press five years ago. I was overjoyed. I'd dreamed of being published since I was in the sixth grade back in the day when we were crawling under our desks for bomb protection during the era of the Cold War. So we're talking about dreaming for something for a lo-o-o-ong time.

Since then, I've moved on to HarperImpulse and Random House Loveswept with 16 more books. Number 17 is due out the end of November. I've gotten the rights back to 3 books with Wild Rose and entered the world of self-publishing. My first self-pubbed book? STORM'S INTERLUDE, of course. After all, there's always something special about your first book. It's the culmination of years of wishing and the story is embedded deeply within your heart.

The original version earned the HOLT Medallion of Merit for best romance and best book by a Virginia author. It was also voted book of the year at Long and Short Reviews the year it came out. For a writer who had so much to learn, all the accolades were quite humbling. I didn't think anyone would like it or the way I'd written it or my characters or.....self-doubt is an awful thing, isn't it?

So my first Indie book is standing tall and proud in the back of the pack of so many others, but I'm hoping Storm and Rachel will win some more hearts. It's now the first book of a planned series "Rosefire, Texas Romances."




Nurse Rachel Dennison comes to Texas determined to prepare her new patient for a second round of chemo. What she isn't counting on is her patient's twin brother, Storm Blackhawk. Despite her initial attraction, Storm has two things Rachel can't abide: a domineering personality and an ex-fiancée who won't leave him alone.

Half Native American, with the ability to have "vision dreams," Storm dreams about Rachel for three nights before her arrival. Both are unprepared for the firestorm of emotions their first encounter ignites. Ultimately, it is Rachel's past--an abusive, maniacal ex-boyfriend--that threatens to keep them apart...and Storm's dreams that brings them together again.

AMAZON BUY LINK: http://a.co/43HDtOp

Learn more about Vonnie Davis at www.vonniedavis.com 

Friday, September 23, 2016

SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER



 by Judy Ann Davis

See you in September. See you when the summer’s through.” 
Can you name that song?

Of course, “See You in September,” which was originally sang by the group, The Tempos in 1959. It became much more popular when it was later released in 1966 by the group, The Happenings. Since then, it has been released by various other groups like The Pacemakers.

It’s one of my favorite songs since September signals the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. The clever landscape artists will soon arrive in Pennsylvania to paint our hillsides in colors of gold, scarlet, and tangerine. Autumn brings cooler misty nights, foggy mornings, and warm sunny days.

It’s sweat shirt weather and the sound of crackling leaves and the bubbling laughter of children as they gather at the bus stop. It’s the smell of wood smoke in fireplaces and outdoor fire rings. It’s also the most wonderful time to play a game of golf in moderate, cool temperatures. The downside? Trying to find your golf ball among the early falling leaves.

I love autumn in Pennsylvania. But September also reminds us that we need to finish all those fair weather chores before winter creeps upon us. The mild weather lets us reassess what we hoped to accomplish and determine what we really need to do.

For me, September is a new beginning and a chance to evaluate the writing projects I want to complete before the holidays come galloping into my life to distract me. What chores do you hope to accomplish this fall?

Whatever they are, do enjoy the wonderful weather outside. And I’ll see you in October—right here on this blog!



Find Judy Ann Davis on:
Find her latest novella on Amazon Kindle: SWEET KISS

Thursday, September 22, 2016

dreams as inspiration-- or not

My dreams go from amazing to pedestrian. Sometimes they fit into my day-- at other times not so much.

The times when I am less interested in what I look like tend to be the ones where I'll have a dream with people telling me how gorgeous I am or looking at me openly admiring. My current state of being overweight (if not obese) disappears in such dreams. After one of those, you are desired by everyone, I wake up thinking-- does my subconscious really see me so insecure that I need bolstering?


from Stencil images

More than once, I've dreamed an opening scene for a book that when I wake I know I can use. That happened recently where in the dream a man threw a child into a roiling caldron of seawater (which at the coast we call devil's punch bowls). The hero (looking just like the images that will be him in my work in progress) saw it happen, realized the child could never survive until professional rescuers could arrive, and dove into the water, getting hold of the child and managing to get him on a safe ledge where the heroine, a natural witch, used her own elemental powers to bring the child to the top. As the hero realized he might not be able to get himself out of the hole, she brought him up. It was the first time he believed she was what she had told him. I hadn't planned an episode like that in the WIP but began to think how I could use it as it suits other plot elements. The dream did help my story but did it have another meaning I missing-- one for me personally?

My dream from last week, still vividly in my memory, went the opposite  direction from reassuring myself that I am all right, and it isn't for a scene for a book. 
Living in a kind of apartment building (one I don't recognize), I want so much to be accepted by a groups. I don't really know why I am not, but my life, even when in the midst of others, feels lonely and closed off. I reach to them, but they never reach for me.  I am chosen for nothing. I recognize it's like my high school years all over again.

Wanting to be accepted, I show one of the group's popular leader a piece I had written praising their newest project. I had written it to overcome my jealousy. I am looking for attaboys that I am not admitting. I invite her to my apartment to read it before I publish it.

She is nice, reads it, and then looks up with an uneasy expression before she looks around my apartment. She says, 'I sympathize with you-- but you do understand why you are not part of our group?' When I don't answer, she says, 'Look at this apartment with dirt on the floor and the windows haven't been washed ever.'

I try to make an excuse. 'I've washed them. They're not that bad.'

She then looks at me and says, 'How could you fit with us?' She shakes her head. 'You're such a plain little person.'

'Well, I'm not little.' I was fully aware that was because I was fat-- as I try to not cry. I manage a smile that I don't feel. 'I need to take a shower.' 

The woman nods and leaves, heading back to her fans and friends, while I head toward the shower and a sob fest, but instead wake up. 
It was about 2am. What did that mean? My muse had chosen a woman I know only from the Internet, but she fits the personality and looked like the dream woman. I think she represented all the ones who are on the inside, the ones everybody wants to be friends with, the ones chosen to lead, those who decide who fits and who does not. Women like that aren't really the mean girls like the movie. They are mostly likable, funny, and admired--including by me. They just don't see me as fitting and not sure I can clean up whatever it is that blocks me. 

When I left high school, I thought I had put behind me a lot of the insecurity of a world with cliques. I've found those cliques a few times since then, like in our rural church. But in terms of revealing light and dark, building power, or tearing it down, the Internet is a cosmos of its own. It has the potential for the best and worst to be brought out.

In my experience with the Internet through chat rooms to Facebook, I've seen that some are in on the joke, and they have everyone laughing while I am still trying to figure out what the joke was. My muse/subconscious was not doing anything to build me up with that last dream other than to say--- face how you really feel.

Other than waking me up feeling depressed, I did get one positive thing from that dream-- it helped me get an even stronger handle on my heroine in the WIP because she is shy and never feels she fits. Her more powerful mother and sisters do not mean to but their very strengths have left her unable to see her own powers. Bringing me back, to feeling like I was back in high school, did help me connect with her-- but now may I have one of those-- oh, my gosh, you are so gorgeous dreams?

To end on a positive note, this is the hero for the third paranormal, suspense romance. Some years back, I bought this image on CanStock.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

How To Jumpstart Your Brain

By Sandra Nachlinger


After waking in the morning and eating a bowl of cereal, I have a cup of chai tea. Only then do the mists in my mind start to dissipate. But it takes a round of word games on my computer to actually clear out all the fog. Here are links to a few games that jumpstart my brain and get it going:


Make as many words as possible from sixteen letters displayed in a grid (four across, four down.) You can set the timer for sixty seconds, ninety seconds, or more. I usually opt for ninety, especially early in the morning.


Type Writer on the AARP website has four levels. On the first level, your task is to make as many four letter words as possible, using a “key” letter. You get more points if you place the letter in the highlighted space. In the second level, your words consist of five letters; six letters in the third level; ending with seven letters in the final level.


Players can choose “regular” or “master” skill level. First thing in the morning, “regular” is my choice. That’s challenging enough!
Another source of online crosswords is Dictionary.com“Regular” and “experts” levels are options here, too.

All of these games get my brain in gear and, surprisingly, often bring long forgotten words to the surface. Just last week I remembered “ennui”—a great word I haven’t thought of in ages. An online game jarred it loose from the filing cabinet in my head.

You might want to give these word games a try to see if they activate your brain, too. But be warned. They can be addictive and can cut into time that could be spent on more productive things, like writing or reading.

Do you have a ritual to start your mornings and jumpstart your brain?






I.O.U. Sex (co-authored with Sandra Allen)

  

Sunday, September 18, 2016

OUT NOW! Time-Travel Romance Set in Galveston, Texas



FAITH AND THE TEXAS LAWYER, A Brides of Texas Code Series, Novella, Book 4

I've had this romance story in my head and heart since I visited Dallas' Heritage Park many years ago. There are old homes, churches, and examples of the city and life of yesteryear. Touring one of the homes, a Time-Travel story began growing in my head and finally, this year, it worked its way onto the page.
When the setting took me to Galveston, Texas in 1900, the only logical thing was to include the hurricane of 1900. There hasn't been a natural disaster in the United States as devastating as 'Isaac's Storm' since. The island was nearly leveled from 140 MPH winds and a 15 ft storm surge. Over 6,000 lives were lost.
I enjoyed writing Faith and the Texas Lawyer and think it's the best book I've written to date. I hope you like it.


Blurb:
   Faith Daniels has had a hard time fitting in all her life, from the time she was left on the steps of a firehouse to her recent divorce. The only time she feels connected is when she rehabs old houses. Often she wishes she could have experienced life in a simpler time. Her current project, a 1900 Galveston mansion, is all she ever wished for and more. When some mysterious force transports her from 2016 to 1900, just prior to the most devastating natural disaster on record, will Faith give up all she has attained in her present life to stay in the past with the sexy turn-of-the- century lawyer?

   Joseph Benning has serious trust issues. He is still recovering from the jolt of being dumped by his fiancĂ© shortly before their wedding. In order to prove to himself he can manage on his own without a woman in his life, he decides to reach outside of his routine and buy a house. Suddenly, a strange woman shows up inside his house telling fantastic stories of disaster and destruction. Will Joe be able to make the right decision and let her go, when it comes time to save her life?

Excerpt:

Faith took a minute to reason through what he’d said. Even though she was essentially in her underwear and, except for the slit in the seat of her drawers, she was far better covered than when she wore her bikini to Lake Ray Hubbard. One other reason finally made up her mind.
“Well . . . “she said, smiling and reaching for the corset. “Okay, I’ll accept your offer of assistance, but only because I really want to wear your sister’s beautiful dress.”
“Thank goodness, that’s settled. Come over here.” Joe took her hand and led her to the foot of the bed. “Now put the corset over your head and hold on to the post.”
She followed him, and then did as he instructed. Standing at the foot of the four-poster bed, she grasped a post with both hands. One of his hands held the ties of the corset at her waist, while the other pulled and tugged the laces tighter drawing the two back sides closer together.
Her mind immediately went to the disaster movie about the Titanic, where Rose’s mother laced her up, while giving her the tongue lashing of her life. A very unsettling moment for Rose. Faith’s own experience, however, was unsettling for a vastly different reason.

Each time his fingers slipped between the crisscrossed cords and her chemise, she had the sensation of being scorched. She closed her eyes and imagined his hands touching her bare skin. Heat concentrated and moisture pooled in places she’d forgotten about in recent months. This was without a doubt, one of the most erotic moments she’d ever had.
  Joe's hands stilled at her waist, and then bracketed her upper arms. He pulled her to him, lowered his head and kissed her neck just below her ear.
“You smell good.”
“Umm,” Faith crooned, leaning her head to the left to give him better access. “I found a bar of lavender soap in the trunk.”
“It’s more than little purple flowers,” he breathed the words against her temple as his left hand traveled up her neck to clutch a handful of her hair. “You smell down-to-earth, sensible, and exotic. You smell like . . . woman.”
“Wow, you not only kiss like nobody’s business, you talk real nice, too.”




I hope you'll give this Time-Travel Romance a try. I think you'll like it! She's at Amazon for $2.99 or FREE in Kindle Unlimited.

Hugs to all,
Carra

Friday, September 16, 2016

Do You Believe in Love at First Sight? by @JoanReeves

Part of Love, Christmas, available 10/01
I write novels full of romance and passion—not to mention sex and humor—and everything I write depends on the magic of love.

The Magic of Love

I think if you are in a love relationship then you identify with that kind of magic.

I just finished writing Last Christmas, a novella for the upcoming Love, Christmas Romance Collection, and this was a love-at-first-sight gone wrong. Or, seemingly gone wrong.

Love With Capital L

For most people, love comes subtly, often growing slowly and steadily until one day, you realize that you're in Love! That's right, Love with a capital letter L.

Some though really do experience love at first sight. What is this insanity called love at first sight? It's an instant spark of recognition that transcends common sense. Anyone who has ever felt the magic of first love will tell you that it's real.

Oddly enough, most of the couples I know who say they knew the moment they met that they were going to marry that person are older people--most of them married scores of years. They all say that they took one look and fell in love.

Head Over Heels in Love at First Sight

Every culture has an expression meaning love at first sight. In Italy, they call it colpo di fulmine which, roughly translated, means struck by a lightning bolt. I imagine that's what that instant knowledge feels like.

Does Love at First Sight Really Exist

My maternal grandparents met when they were children. They instantly "liked" each other. They were young back in the day when family responsibilities took precedence over personal desires.

As a young man, my grandfather was the sole support of his widowed mother and his spinster sister. He was in love with my grandmother, but he didn't propose because of his responsibilities. He moved away to take a job that offered him the income to support his mother and sister.

My grandmother loved my grandfather, but what could she do? It was unseemly for women to pursue men. As the last daughter at home who was unmarried, she became the sole support and caregiver for her widowed mother. (I know she could have married many times because she was very beautiful.)

Time Waits For No One

More than 20 years passed. At one point during a leap year, my grandmother mailed my grandfather a poem she wrote in which she proposed to him. I think he carried that poem with him every day in his wallet until it was in tatters.

My grandfather's mother passed away. My grandmother's mother passed away. He went to a jewelry store and bought a ruby ring in a yellow gold setting. He and his brother took the train back to where my grandmother lived.

Both my future grandparents were in their 40's by this time. He arrived on her doorstep one morning. The next morning they were married. A few years later, my mother was born. Since my grandmother was in her late forties by this time, my mother was a beloved only child.

My grandparents were together until death separated them. My grandfather lived on and passed when he was 100. He often talked to me about my grandmother, telling me how they played together as children, and they they grew up and wanted to marry. He said that the years between them didn't matter that it just made their marriage even sweeter.

Most people think love at first sight is just immediate lust and that the love dies after the lust is satisfied. Maybe that's true for some, but I think lasting love can arise from love at first sight too. In that moment a man and woman meet, something happens.

At least that's what happens in my novella Last Christmas.

Last Christmas, Annabelle gave Rick her heart, but he threw it away. Now they meet again, and Rick wants to redeem himself—but she has that other word R-word in mind: Revenge.

CINDERELLA BLUE, on sale now.
Post Script

Joan Reeves writes Sassy, Sexy Contemporary Romance. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers with audio editions available at Amazon, Audible.com, and iTunes.

All of Joan's books have the same underlying theme: It's never too late to live happily ever after. Joan lives her happily ever after with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State.

Subscribe to Joan's free newsletters: Writing Hacks, tips about the art, craft, and business of writing, and WordPlay, her email list and book chat for readers. Find Joan online: Blog, Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.