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.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Readers Change Lives!

By Kimmie Easley

As writers, we hope to give something to our readers; joy, hope, inspiration, direction, laughter, or even a sense companionship for a few hours. We have a goal in mind.

What we don’t always expect is when a reader takes the time to give something back; to give us insight into how our work has impacted their own personal lives.

I have been blessed with one such reader. I’ve asked this reader, and now friend, if I could share a little piece of her heart and she graciously agreed.

Like any other day, my daughter asked to check the mail. When she came inside she was bubbling with excitement when she handed me a handwritten envelope addressed to, ‘Author Kimmie Easley’. I quickly opened it and started reading. When I was done, I couldn’t move or talk. I was blown away.


Kimmie,

I wanted to let you know how excited I was to learn that I had won a copy of your new book “Souls Set Free” in the Goodreads giveaway. Fortune and luck are not familiar to me. I also wanted to let you know that it couldn’t have come at a better time. When the package was delivered, I found a book I had been hoping for; and autographed none the less, and my sister (whom I live with) looked at me and said, “Finally! You need something good right now.” Which gives you an idea of the hand that the universe has dealt me the last few years.

Then I read the first paragraph, those three sentences and cried a little. I don’t do that. Ever. Especially due to a book or movie. The book was put away because I knew that I wasn’t ready to read it yet. But eventually I did, and what I read will stay with me. It is beautiful how, as an author, you wrote the story through the eyes of someone who feels like the bad guy, who “happy people” could never sympathize with, yet make her the single most human character I’ve met in years. The familiarity was harrowing. At one point, I c aught myself realizing that I wasn’t simply sympathizing with the troubled main character, that I WAS her. That I didn’t want to hug Emma, I wanted to hug Jansen, and because I was already Emma and I knew how inexplicably important it was that Jansen was the man he was. The book proves that strength can help you up, but it can also pull you down. I know that your intention for the book was most likely NOT a lifeline, but it turned out that way. Like I said, it showed up on my doorstep at the right time.

The day I finished the book, I went to visit my mother at the restaurant where she works. When she saw me she was happy and asked, “What do you want to eat? The usual?” I told her I wasn’t getting take out, that I just wanted to swing by, give her a hug, and say hi. She stood and stared for a minute, then asked what I wanted. J These spontaneous drop-ins should happen more frequently, she sees me roll with the punches and move on. She doesn’t see me improve or rise above.

I’m hoping that when an opportunity arises, the voice of Emma will remind me to TAKE that opportunity!

Now that my spiel is done, THANK YOU again for your gift, and for understanding the power of writing! I can’t wait to see what’s next. Maybe another haunting tale of empowerment, I could use a reminder! J It’s a great work, and it’s found a permanent home in my library. Good luck in everything! You make a difference!

*

Now, I’ve probably read this letter twenty times. I pull it out when I feel down or unmotivated. I made sure to touch base with this woman, and found her to be a beautiful, kind, and giving soul. She’s continued to give me uplifting words and she helps drive me more than she knows.

To show my appreciation, I wanted to give something back to my amazing and encouraging readers. In addition to offering Souls Set Free for .99 CENTS over the Holiday weekend (SOULS SET FREE on AMAZON), I wanted to do a reader/reviewer giveaway to say thank you!



After reading Souls Set Free, you can link your review to this event (SOULS SET FREE HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY) and be entered to win goodies, including a $25 Amazon gift card! Tell your friends and let’s make it a party and remember, YOU READERS MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Legacy of Old Homes and Actual Site of the First Thanksgiving


While doing research for the sequel to my colonial American historical romance novel Enemy of the King (postponed after the idea for light paranormal romance novel Somewhere My Love came to me) my mother and I toured several of the lovely old James River plantations.  Two of these, Berkeley and Shirley, most influenced the home in Somewhere My Love, ‘Foxleigh.’  While visiting Berkeley, originally called Berkeley Hundred and named after one of its founders, I was especially impressed by the wealth of history behind this beautiful home and stately grounds. That sense of the past just flowed over me, and I particularly remember a kind and informative guide, an older woman. But there were others.

The magnificent terraced boxwood gardens and lawn extend a quarter-mile from the front door to the James River.  The mansion itself wasn’t built until 1726, but the plantation’s history reaches much farther back into America‘s roots. I didn’t know that Berkeley was the actual site of the first Thanksgiving in America on Dec. 4th, 1619.  Most of you probably don’t either. (*Image from Williamsburg Weekends)

On December 4, 1619, a group of 38 English settlers arrived at Berkeley Hundred about 8,000 acres on the north bank of the James River near Herring Creek in an area then known as Charles Cittie. It was about 20 miles upstream from Jamestown, where the first permanent settlement of the Colony of Virginia was established on May 14, 1607. The group’s charter required that the day of arrival be observed yearly as a “day of thanksgiving” to God. On that first day, Captain John Woodleaf held the service of thanksgiving.

During the Indian Massacre of 1622 nine of the settlers at Berkeley Hundred were killed, as well as about a third of the entire population of the Virginia Colony. The Berkeley Hundred site and other outlying locations were abandoned as the colonists withdrew to Jamestown and other more secure points.  After several years, the site became Berkeley Plantation and was long the traditional home of the Harrison family, one of the First Families of Virginia. (*Image from Berkeley Plantation First Thanksgiving Festival)

Benjamin Harrison, son of the builder of Berkeley and the plantation’s second owner, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and three-time Governor of Virginia. William Henry Harrison, Benjamin‘s third son, born at Berkeley, was the famous Indian fighter known as “Tippecanoe,” who later became the ninth President of the United States, in 1841. His grandson, Benjamin Harrison, was the 23rd President.


Many famous founding fathers and mothers were guests at this gracious and elegant estate. For more on Berkeley Plantation and a fascinating glimpse into early America visit: http://www.berkeleyplantation.com/
And if you have the opportunity to visit in person, by all means go.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Different Kind of Thanksgiving This Year


By Vonnie Davis

Thanksgiving changes for some of us over the years. The kids grow up and move to other states. Grandkids grow up, too. Sometimes the weather throws us a curve, changing travel plans. For us, all of the above are true, plus the release of a book on Thanksgiving Day. When Harper Impulse told me release date for my Christmas novella would be November 28th, the date didn't register. I even wrote it in my date planner--you know, the old paper kind no one but grandmas use anymore. Still, the significance of the date didn't hit me until two weeks ago.

OMG, my book releases on Thanksgiving. I guess a publisher in the UK wouldn't get the importance of our turkey day, would they? So, Calvin and I are celebrating low key this year, staying home so I can do promo and tweet until I've worn out my hashtags and my fingertips. We'll be eating dinner out, something I swore I'd never do since I love cooking the big meal.

Black Friday will be spent conducting a book release party on Facebook. I'd love it if you'd attend. In the search bar where you look a person or organization up, type in Book Release Party for Santa Wore Leathers and hit Enter. You'll be on the party page. Join in the conversation. We'll be talking about pets, for one thing.

But why? This is a Christmas romance, right?

Yes. But one of the main characters of the story is a German Shepherd named Einstein. Einstein's on a mission. He wants his man-shy mistress to hook up with their Marine Rescue next door neighbor. Okay, so he has to steal a few of her thongs to get the man's attention, buy a dog's gotta do what a dog's gotta do.

We'll be sharing pictures of our pets and the messes they make.

We'll also be sharing photos of men. And laughter. We'll be sharing lots of laughter.

So, stop in after you're through with your Black Friday shopping. The party runs from nine to nine and there will be lots of prizes and laughs and girl talk...and men.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

MY PERSONAL LITTLE BLACK CLOUD

We've all had them. Those days or even weeks when a little black cloud hovers over your head and screws up all your plans.

First of all. I'm a "right brain" person. My left side shriveled up a long time ago. There is no way I could solve an algebra problem if my life depended on it. That may be why technology and I are constantly at war.

The back up battery for my U-verse died about a year ago and the replacement never showed up. Every 10 hours, a constant beep goes off and I have to re-set the thing. The company says it's on the way. Yeah.

Then, I turn on my ceiling fan light and it blows out. I've had this problem with other light kits in another room. I wrote a nasty review for the brand, but it hasn't solved my problem. I'm waiting for help to replace the stupid light kit...it's dead. I'm sitting in my office, in the dark.  Kind of sets the mood.

Then, I edit 26 pages for my critique partner, hit save and print. And, bingo! It vanishes. Gone, never to be found.

I met my critique partners for lunch at a cozy Italian bistro. Thankfully, I had the other partner's pages only to discover they had fallen between the wall and the booth. We had to wait until the other people left so I could pull it out and retrieve my papers. At least the other diners were entertained

I realize there are bigger problems in the world and mine are small potatoes. Whining here saves the cost of a therapist.

So, here I sit, in the dark with the sound of beep, beep, beep and a little black cloud hovering above.

On second thought I think I'll just take a nap.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Reading a new Genre

Hi All,

As many of you know, I write the Romantic Suspense, Falcon Securities Series. I love Suspense and have a list of writers I read faithfully. I'm happiest chin deep in a good action read. But, I also read other genres, often written by the same authors.

I've often wondered how a writer could switch around like that and still write a great story that I loved reading. I don't have the answer, but I tried it myself in my latest release. I wrote an Erotic Romance that I think is very vanilla. No hard core stuff for me.

In writing a different genre I worried about how it would affect my series that is very successful. I found several readers crossed over from WRONG ROOM Room to my Falcon Series and enjoyed them both. I was very surprised.

When I questioned my street team they said, first they make a connection with the writer while reading their book. If they enjoy the read, they want more of what that author writes, the genre doesn't  matter.
They're actually buying our voice because it shows up in every book we write.

Walk on the wild side, try new reads, buy a book from an author you've never read before, try different genres and set your imagination free. I hope you'll try my new Erotic Romance novella. WRONG ROOM is the first installment in the Accidental Pleasures series.



Amazon:

Monday, November 18, 2013

IT'S FAMILY TRADITION TIME AGAIN - ARE WE READY?


 

We all have family traditions. Some of these are developed with new families, some are carried down through generations. In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Such was the first Thanksgiving, although it's doubtful they called it that.

This week we began planning our own Thanksgiving dinner. We lean toward a more Southern menu, I think. Starting with the oven roasted turkey, we add mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, kernel corn, green beans, cranberry sauce, giblet gravy and dressing -- not stuffing -- cornbread dressing. Dessert includes pumpkin and pecan pies. In the last few years, my daughter has been making cheesecakes that would give any one's efforts a run for their money.

 All of our immediate family will be coming to our house, including our daughter and her husband, our son and his wife and our three grandchildren. Each family will contribute to the meal. The atmosphere will be chaotic and tremendous fun. Family.

The day after, when everyone has gone home and my husband has left for the deer lease, I will begin decorating for Christmas. Putting up the tree and all the decorations usually takes me about two weeks. It seems I'm always finding additional trinkets to put out. Thankfully last year we bought a pre-lit tree. Best decision we've made in a long time.

 I'm fairly certain that our family traditions, including the decorated tree, started, at least, as far back as the late 1700's to early 1800's. The trees through the years have come in all shapes and sizes. Growing up we had short ones, tall ones, fir, white plastic and a cedar that my dad cut for us one night. It was such an adventure having daddy cut down our own tree, that is, until we saw the sign saying we were on land belonging to a state park!


My husband and I started our family's tree tradition with a Lionel train set and a town consisting of a farm, train station and Santa with reindeer. While the placement and additions have changed throughout the last 40 years, it's content remains circa 1955. The following shots are from our tree last year.



I'd like to share with you, now, my news of a short story I've published on Amazon called, A SANTA FOR CHRISTMAS. It takes place in San Antonio, Texas in and around the River Walk.
 
Merry Hernandez has lost both her father and her brother in the last year to unfortunate circumstances, and, due to a bad economy, stands to lose her business, Very Merry Events, as well.,. No one is spending unnecessarily for parties they can plan themselves. While that is bad, she regrets most not participating in the  Riverwalk Christmas Pageant in San Antonio, Texas, where her father always played Santa and handed out toys to the children. Will the handsome stranger and his father be able to help her fulfill her dreams?
Sam Claus has journeyed to Texas with his father to help him make a young woman's Christmas wish come true. Due to the older man's illness, Sam doesn't see a way to help Merry Hernandez. Throughout their evening together on Christmas Eve, too many circumstances occur that he can't explain. Will Sam be able to turn the tide of events in her favor?
Will Sam and Merry realize their special connection and reach their Happily Ever After?
A SANTA FOR CHRISTMAS is available on Amazon, http://tinyurl.com/oqjdq9f
I hope you're able to read my short story and enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. While you're there, I've also released a short story for New Years Eve that I'll talk about next month called, LILAH BY MIDNIGHT. http://tinyurl.com/opgrccg.

Please share your family traditions with us in the comments. I would love to hear from you!
Thanks for stopping by and Happy Thanksgiving,

Carra

Saturday, November 16, 2013

ARE SMART READERS ALSO LISTENERS? PLUS A GIVEAWAY.

Joan Reeves usually posts today, but she is moving and overwhelmed with life’s events. She asked me to post something in her spot. A perfect opportunity for me!

The AUDIO version of my award winning book, BRAZOS BRIDE, is now available. I have a couple of copies to give away FREE, my favorite price for anything.  The audio of this full length historical western romance is beautifully narrated by Valerie Gilbert.  To be entered in the drawing, all you have to do is leave a comment.

AUDIO BOOK COVER

Here’s the info on BRAZOS BRIDE:

Hope Montoya knows someone is poisoning her, but who? She suspects her mother was also poisoned and knows her father was murdered. Who wants her family eliminated? She vows to fight! She realizes she won’t last the eight months until she turns twenty-five and her uncle no longer controls her or her estate. Never will she be dominated by a man as she was by her father, as she has seen her mother and grandmothers dominated. If she marries, she gains control now, but only if she weds a man she can trust. Only one man meets her requirements. Can she trust him to protect her and capture the killer...but then to leave?

Micah Stone has been in love with Hope since the first time he saw her. But he was accused of her father’s murder and surely would have hung if not for his two brothers’ aid. Most in the community still believe him guilty. But the drought has him too worried about water for his dying cattle to care about his neighbors’ opinions. When Hope proposes a paper marriage in exchange for land on the Brazos River and much needed cash, her offer rubs his pride raw. His name may be Stone, but he’s not made of it. He can’t refuse her for long, and so their adventure begins. He and Hope have to stay alive and discover the killer before they become victims in the deadly assaults.


Palo Pinto Mountains from a valley


The novel is set in the Palo Pinto Mountains of North Central Texas. The Brazos River runs through these picturesque hills that are covered with cedar, post oak, live oak, and other native trees. Though by no means comparable to the Rockies, they are genuine mountains due to their geologic formation. Popular with the Comanche and Kiowa Indian tribes, they were not settled by anglos until the mid 1800’s. Indian raids against the whites continued until early 1870’s.


Real ranch house changed to a
hacienda in BRAZOS BRIDE

The ranch used as the location for Hope Montoya’s home is one I have visited on historic Palo Pinto County tours. I fell in love with the location and have used it in the Men of Stone Mountain trilogy, although I altered the home and fictionalized the town of Radford Springs. The ranch’s owner says the spot where the home is built was an annual Comanche gathering and camping area due to the convergence of two streams. The spring for one creek does not dry up even in drought times.

I love this book, this trilogy, and this part of Texas. Of course, I love all of Texas, but this locale is especially dear to my heart. The second in the Men of Stone Mountain trilogy, HIGH STAKES BRIDE, is currently being converted to an audio book and will be available in the near future.   

I hope you smart readers are also eager listeners.

Thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Blatant Promotion- Please Excuse Me.

I was sitting at my computer writing a reply to a comment on one of the blogs I'm on for a blog tour promoting my new release, Laying Claim, and I glanced at my date book and noticed I had to get a post pulled together for this blog, tomorrow! Eek! Did that ever sneak up on me! 

I am posted out from writing interesting posts for my blog tour. If you would like to read the ones that are up already, you can go to my blog, http://www.patyjager.blogspot.com/2013/11/laying-claim-blog-tour.html and find all the blogs on my tour and read about the research I did to write Laying Claim, a historical western romance set in Alaska and the Yukon in 1898, during the Klondike Gold Rush. The tour is Nov. 10th to the 16th.Here is the cover, blurb and an excerpt of Laying Claim:


Jeremy Duncan commits to haul one last load of supplies across the great interior of the Yukon before heading home. But, he has to trade his pack animals for sled dogs and leave Skagway in the middle of a blizzard due to one strong-willed, business-minded beauty.

Determined to find her older brother, Clara Bixbee doesn’t care how she gets across the pass, as long as she does, and soon. Hiring handsome pack guide Jeremy Duncan seems to be her best choice. Especially after she saves a young girl being beaten by the local gang leader and needs to escape Skagway fast.

Excerpt:

    “Who’s there?” a female voice questioned through the wood barrier.
   “I have a trunk for a Clara Bixbee.”
   The door swung open. A girl stood in the opening. 
   He blinked. 
   No. A girl didn’t fill out the front of a dress like this one did. But she was small. Tinier even than his sister, and she barely came to his shoulder. 
   “It’s about time you brought my trunk. I’ve been waiting hours for it to arrive.” Her green eyes snapped with anger.
   “I don’t know who you asked to pick this up, but I found two thieves rummaging through it on the beach and saved it.”
   She gasped, then her small pink mouth set in a grim line. “I paid the clerk downstairs to have someone bring it to me.”
   No wonder the man had a startled look on his face when Jeremy hauled the trunk up the stairs. “Where would you like me to put it?”
   The woman stepped back, opening the door wider. “I cleared a spot over there. I’ve yet to meet my roommate but will have a word with her about this mess when she comes back.” 
   Jeremy set the trunk on the floor and turned to the woman. Her blonde hair was pulled up into a working woman’s bun, but her clothes, the ones she had on and the ones he’d sifted through in the trunk, were not working-class clothes.
   She stood with her hands on her hips, her head tipped back, eyeing him. “How did you know this was my trunk?”
   “After I chased the men off, I took it to my livery where I had some light and looked through it until I found the Bible with your name in it. Then I left it in safekeeping and started asking for you at the hotels.” 
   Her smooth, creamy skin flushed a deep pink. “You went through my trunk?” 
   “Would you rather I left it to the thieves who wouldn’t have brought it to you even after they took all they wanted from it?” While the woman was soothing on the eyes, he wasn’t keen on her attitude.
   She gasped and dropped to her knees in front of the trunk. Her tiny fingers clasped the broken latch where a key had most likely locked the box. She unclasped the other latches and dug down to the bottom of the trunk shoving the clothing, causing them to spill over the sides.
   Jeremy watched in fascination as she burrowed into the contents. She pulled out an oilcloth jacket and pushed her hand into a pocket. A smile crept across her face. Her hand reappeared empty. He’d guess she had money stashed in that coat. 
   He cleared his throat and she jumped. In her urgency to make sure she hadn’t been robbed, she’d forgotten he was still in the room.
   “Mr…?”
   “Jeremy Duncan. Miss…?” He hoped she didn’t say she was married. It would be a shame to have rifled through a married woman’s unmentionables. It would make fanaticizing about her not near as much fun.
   “Bixbee.” She frowned. “You know my name. Why are you asking?”
   He smiled. “Just figuring out if you’re married.”
   “I am not, and it isn’t proper for you to be in my room.” She pushed to her feet and stood, again, with her hands on her narrow hips. 
   Jeremy nodded to the open door. “The door isn’t closed so you haven’t been compromised.”

Buy Links

Kindle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GK50QWG

Nook 
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/laying-claim-paty-jager/1117353101?ean=2940148913771
Another release I have coming out on the 18th but can be pre-ordered at Amazon is: Sweetwater Springs Christmas: A Montana Sky Short Story Anthology. Ten other authors and I wrote Christmas short stories set in Debra Holland's fictional town of Sweetwater Springs, Montana. We used her setting and some of her locals, but added our own new and some old characters. My story has Zeke and Maeve Halsey from my book Outlaw in Petticoats as secondary characters.

Because I took up so much room with Laying Claim, I'll leave you with the brief blurbs for each story in Sweetwater Springs Christmas.

E. AYERS - A CHRISTMAS FAR FROM HOME
Far from home and a young Wyoming rancher and the daughter of a Montana railroad businessman learn the true joy of Christmas is in giving. 
www.ayersbooks.com

LINDA CARROLL-BRADD - WISHES ON A STAR 
Will a wish on a star foretell the future of a young suffragette and a visiting rancher? 
www.lindacarroll-bradd.com

MJ FREDRICK - ABIGAIL'S CHRISTMAS ANGEL
A lonely widow and a lonelier marshal make peace with their past.   
www.Mjfredrick.com 

DEBRA HOLLAND – THE GIFT OF MUSIC 
Can two reserved people overcome their limitations and find love? 

drdebraholland.com

DEBRA HOLLAND - A FAMILY FOR IKE 
A newly-orphaned boy finds and unexpected family.   
drdebraholland.com

DEBRA HOLLAND - THE JOY OF CHRISTMAS
The town banker learns that perhaps some things are more important than money. 

drdebraholland.com

PATY JAGER – A CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER
Ida doesn't remember the last two years, but her husband is determined to find her and reignite their love. 
www.patyjager.net 

JILL MARIE LANDIS - UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR
A spinster discovers it's never too late to embrace love and the surprises life has in store. 
www.jillmarielandis.com

TRISH MILBURN – A NEW HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
A woman scarred in face and heart finds love with a cowboy.
www.trishmilburn.com

LINDA MCLAUGHLIN - THE BEST PRESENT
A grieving ten-year-old girl anticipating a sad Christmas receives some holiday surprises.
www.lindamclaughlin.com

BEV PETTERSEN - THE CHRISTMAS CROSSING
With a little Christmas magic, two searching hearts discover they can bridge much more than a raging river.
www.BevPettersen.com

TORI SCOTT – A PROMISE FOR CHRISTMAS
Faced with her first Montana winter without her husband, Rachel Tanner and her young son need a miracle.
http://toriscott.blogspot.com

CYNTHIA WOOLF - SUGARPLUM DREAMS
Julia Bosworth travels west to fulfill a special dream and finds her heart’s desire.
www.cynthiawoolf.com

Pre-order link:

http://amzn.com/B00G06W3SA




Paty Jager

Sunday, November 10, 2013

THE SECRET DOOR

By Ashley Kath-Bilsky

If you could go back in time and revisit a specific day or moment in your life, when would it be, and why? Would you try to change something you did, or a path you chose that led you to your present place and time? Perhaps you’d like to go back to have just one more conversation with someone you love – a mother, father, grandparent, spouse, or friend –someone who has passed on leaving you with so many unspoken words or unanswered questions?

There is no denying that I love history and the concept of time travel, or that both have played an important role in my desire to write historical fiction. Whether or not there is time travel in each of my novels, the period in which the story is set always provides me with that imaginary time travel experience, and I hope that the reader feels the same way.

But with Thanksgiving around the corner, and as the vibrant colors of autumn will soon fade and make way for winter, my thoughts turn not to a historical setting of a book, but to my lifetime.

Like many others, I reflect and count my blessings. I ponder the lessons I have learned, the stumbles I have made, and the dreams I still want to achieve. And, invariably, like a rising mist from a distant memory, I also think about loved ones, neighbors, teachers, and so many other people (most of whom died a long time ago), yet who continue to impact my life.

There was my pediatrician, Dr. Edwin Toddy, who cared for me since my birth and would come to our home with his black doctor’s bag whenever I was sick…which was often. I remember his concerned expression as he listened to my breathing, and the curious thump, thump, thump sound as he tapped my back to check for congestion. For every illness, big or small, this dear man treated me, and I’m sure all his patients, as if they were members of his family.

There was Mr. Sturgess, the retired policeman turned crossing guard who, whenever he saw me bundled up in a snowsuit and hardly able to walk, would smile, lift me up and carry me across the snowy streets safely to the schoolyard. He knew all the children by name, and he loved my mom’s fruitcake every Christmas. I see his smile now, as well as his somber expression when he told me I could not walk home on the opposite side of the street with a school friend because he knew I would eventually have to cross the street without his supervision to reach my home.

There was the school custodian whose kind face I remember, but whose name I cannot recall. Each Halloween he would open the school up and have apple cider and plain cake donuts for all the children out trick or treating.

There was an elderly couple who lived on our street. Like the custodian, their faces are imprinted in my heart but I don’t remember their names. They sat in rocking chairs and had two adorable cocker spaniels. With my mother’s permission, each afternoon when I was four years old, I would walk a few houses down to visit with them. I would sit and pet their dogs and wait for my older brother and sister to walk home from school. I can still remember the smell of yarn as the lady knitted and talked to me, while her husband read the paper and would chuckle softly at our conversation.

You might be asking yourself why I’m talking about these people now. Well, it’s because as a writer I recognize we are each products of our life experiences – good and bad. As a writer, I recognize the influence that people and events had not only on my growth as a person and my perception of the world, but in my approach to writing. Even the painful experiences, the mean girls who bullied you or pulled your hair as a child, the heartaches you suffered, the times you may have felt alone or as if you’ve been knocked down by life one time too many to ever stand upright again – all of these moments can not only help make you a stronger and more empathetic human being, but help a writer in their work, and in relating that work to a reader.

Years ago, as a student I first attempted to write a work of fiction. I doubted my ability or even what to write about. My professor said, “Write what you know.”

It is surprising how often life experiences inspire a writer. It may be a subtle nuance, help create a specific character, or even influence the plotline of the book.

Whether or not you write fiction or non-fiction, as a writer you want to connect with the reader on an emotional level. In romance novels, it is especially important that the characters resonate with a reader emotionally. The humanity of a novel’s characters, their flaws, strengths, fears and dreams, their struggles and hope for love, and the challenges or obstacles they face, will all combine to touch the heart of a reader, as well as entertain them.

“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”~ W.T. Purkiser

Each of us has walked through many doors in our lives, doors that brought us home, into the local library, or the many classrooms where teachers worked diligently to teach us how to read, write, and learn about history, science, and the world around us. Doors of churches, synagogues, museums, concert halls. Doors that brought us to the bedside of a loved one in a hospital, or the room where our child was born.

We may not be able to actually go back in time and revisit moments and people from our lives, but the secret door I talked about above is inside each of us, in our hearts and memories. All you have to do is picture the moment in your mind, turn the key, open the door…and remember.

Thank you so much for stopping by today, and I hope each of us draws strength and comfort from the moments in our past that perhaps tested us, and the people who helped to guide our footsteps, our understanding, and ultimately contributed to the person we are today. May each of us continue to grow as caring human beings, to believe in love and happy endings, and appreciate the blessings in our lives today. In ways we may not even realize, we are all connected and we have the potential to help others find comfort and even hope from our actions each and every day.

Happy Thanksgiving. ~ AKB

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Life of a BURIED Author

I'm not buried, not in the dire physical sense, anyway.

All authors are different. Some make their writing their full time job. For me, not so lucky. I work a full-time job and haven't mastered the art of saying "NO," to many other obligations.

I bury myself under too many obligations and wonder where all my time goes. Precious time that I want to save for writing. But, as I scurry around, a blessing comes out of nowhere and saves the day.

I'd been struggling for awhile with a current work-in-progress. I couldn't relate to the direction the story was taking. In fact, I'd repeatedly deleted chapters and re-written scene after scene, to the point I had pondered scrapping it and starting from scratch. At the advice of a writing friend, I walked away from it for the last couple of weeks and focused on other things for awhile.

The timing was perfect because I had been so busy with other obligations, that I needed to free my mind. Can an author actually free their mind, I ask? With so many story ideas filtering through at a moment's notice, MY MIND is a cluttered closet that needs serious recycling!

Last night, I had dinner with friends in Uptown, a neat place north of Downtown Dallas. A really cool area of town with great urban feel... And the backdrop for the first two books of my Running Series.

On my way home from dinner, I made a wrong turn and ended up on a long journey of one-way side streets trying to get back to the major highway towards home. The one-way streets seemed reflective of my BURIED LIFE lately. All the side streets of my life were keeping me from staying focused and getting on track.

It was an epiphany!

The rest of my journey home, I made mental notes of all the things that were getting in my way of achieving success in the areas most important to me, and things that were burying me as an author. When I got home, I grabbed a blank piece of paper, wrote out my notes of my immediate to-do list and what my new goals and aspirations were. I suppose it was my New Year's resolution a bit early.

Today, as I start to UNBURY myself, I am going to LEARN to say NO more. I am going to prioritize  my obligations and free myself of the invisible chains that are holding me hostage.

If you are buried, I can suggest a great detour in Dallas! ~ LOL

Thanks for reading my ramblings today. I hope your day is blessed,

DeLaine

DeLaine Roberts
www.delaineroberts.com
@delaineroberts

Chasing Air     ~     Running To You     ~     Two Sides of a Heartbeat

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dreams


By Ellie James

I’ve always been a dreamer.

From the time I was a little girl, growing up in Louisiana, vivid images greeted me while I slept. There were all the standard dreams, about school and friends and monsters, flying and falling, being chased, being trapped. As I got older my dreams changed a bit, with boys entering the mix, and all sorts of exciting romantic scenarios. But I still had those scary dreams, the ones where you know you need to run, but your body betrays you, and you can’t move a single muscle, where you lay there in bed, paralyzed and terrified…

By the time I met my husband, I was a young adult living alone in my own apartment. We married, and wow was he surprised the first time I let out a blood-curdling scream in the middle of the night—and smacked him silly!

With time, my nightmares faded, but my dreams remained vivid. While my husband dreamed of playing Scottish links with life-sized bunny rabbits, I found myself wandering University with no idea where I was supposed to go, or even on occasion walking down the aisle of a grand cathedral, with no idea who I was about to marry. (Yes, I’m sure Freud would have a brilliant time with that one!) But other dreams were there, too, the kind of dreams that guide you while you’re awake, the dreams that carry you into the future.  For me I dreamed of writing books, of telling stories of suspense and danger and, always, romance.

I suppose it’s only fitting that both waking and sleeping dreams combined to create my first Young Adult novel, Shattered Dreams. Shortly after my son was born, I closed my eyes late one night (or was it early one morning?) and suddenly saw a group of teenagers sneaking into a beautiful but long-abandoned mansion in the Garden District of New Orleans. But I was more than simply watching. I was there. I was one of them. I gazed into the darkness and smelled the decay. I saw the strange piles of corn and ashes and bone, the slip of the shadows, and I jumped at the sound of branches scraping the grimy windows. There were mean girls and a guy who made my heart pound, and we all made our way up the rotting staircase for a seemingly innocent game of truth or dare.

But there was nothing innocent about it.

I woke up breathless, and more than a little surprised. Unlike dreams that fade, the images lingered. It was all so real and vivid. I couldn’t stop thinking about what I’d experienced, and from that, the questions came: What happened next? What if one of the teens was a psychic? What if she saw something…something bad?  What if what she saw actually happened? What if no one believed her, or at least, no one but the last guy she should let herself begin to fall for?
As I answered those questions, Shattered Dreams was born!

What about you, have you had dreams so real you would swear they were?

What if they are?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Welcome to the Pickle Barrel

The Fun Part of an Author's Life

If you keep up with writers' blogs, you'll see a bazillion articles every day about the trials and tribulations that authors have to endure to stay in the business.  Yep, they're real and you know them all — the total time suck of promotion, confusion over the Next Big Trend, befuddlement of marketing, yada, yada, yada.  Despite all that, we persist.  Why?

Because we love to tell stories and we love for you to love them.

We also like to have a good time with others who love books as much as we do.  For those of you who participated in the 9 Ways to Fall in Love boxed set party, you know what I mean.  We had a month-long party and got to know one another pretty well.  It was grand.

Friends had been urging me to form a Facebook group for a long time, but with writing and all the aforementioned authorly things to do, plus dodging four little boys, I just never got around to it.  Well, now I have, and several of the 9 Ways party animals are there, so we're still having a good time.  You just can't keep a good party down.

Where's it at?  The Pickle Barrel Bar & Books.


This is where we have a party now and then, have fun with books, and is the first place I announce my latest releases.  (No, it's not a street team.)  We talk about everything from ghost towns to chickens, and you get a hand stamp when you join, so be careful not to wash it off.

To go along with this, I also started the Pickle Barrel Bar & Books Newsletter, which is only released when I have actual news.  A regularly scheduled newsletter seemed like one more "have-to" to me, and I didn't think I could deal with it, so when there's a contest that might interest my readers, or if I have a new release, then I send out a one-pager.  I hope you'll sign up.

So now, for my latest releases (and I have another release from Western Fictioneers due out tomorrow!):

Sleight of hand, or...
A Straight-Laced Spinster 
Lexie Campbell, more comfortable with neat and tidy numbers than messy emotions, is determined find the sharper who ruined her little sister and make him marry her. When his lookalike brother Burke appears, she greets him with a rifle and forces him to help her. Can she resist his magic charm? 
A Gambler With Magic Hands 
To claim the family fortune, smooth-dealing Burke O'Shaughnessy has to find his brother Patrick, despite being saddled with an angry spinster. But when Lexie shows an astounding talent for counting cards and calculating odds, he figures she might be useful after all. Can he draw the queen of hearts? 

Another wonderful tale from Jacquie Rogers. I could clearly picture the hard benches, soot and steam of the train, the private cars, the gambling tables and opulent hotels. Burke is a handsome, cheeky and generous gambler who weaves his way into your heart. You can picture Lexie with her straight backed, 'holier than thou' attitude. It is heart warming to read as Burke breaks down her barriers and wins the girl of his dreams. Great read that I highly recommend. ~ Susan Horsnell
And just in time to bring in the Christmas season:


Cowboys, kisses and love in the holiday air make for a special recipe in each of these wonderful new stories. Christmas miracles can happen when you're Wishing for a Cowboy!


A Christmas Miracle by Phyliss Miranda
Acceptance comes not through frosty eyes, but from the warmth of loving hearts.

Outlaw's Kiss by Cheryl Pierson
A long-ago schooldays crush is rekindled by an Outlaw's Kiss that sparks true love, and a new future for Jake Morgan and Talia Delano.

A Husband for Christmas by Sarah J. McNeal
A haunting night of horror and a wish for a new life.

Peaches by Kathleen Rice Adams
When a strong-willed schoolteacher invades an irascible rancher's Texas range, not even the spirit of Christmas may be able to prevent all-out war.

A Gift for Rhoda by Jacquie Rogers
A mail-order bride disaster!

Her Christmas Wish by Tracy Garrett
Her only wish for Christmas was the man who left her behind.

Covenant by Tanya Hanson
Can a Christmas blizzard ignite love gone cold?

Charlie's Pie by Livia J. Washburn
A wounded man, a desperate woman, a gang of ruthless outlaws... and the best pecan pie in Parker County!

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