Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Idyllic Towns are Murder in Lynn Cahoon's Tourist Trap Series

Lynn Cahoon writes both mystery and romance just as I do. Her small town background is fertile ground for her imagination. Welcome, Lynn. Please tell us a little about yourself.
The official bits? Here’s my bio: USA Today and New York Times, best-selling author, Lynn Cahoon is an Idaho native. If you’d visit the town where she grew up, you’d understand why her mysteries and romance novels focus around the depth and experience of small town life. Currently, she’s living in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. She lives with her husband and four fur babies.
I love walking. And thinking. I’ve always been a bit of a loner. Don’t get me wrong, I like people, I just love making up stories in my head and that takes a little peace and quiet. I was President of my high school FHA (Future Homemakers of America) club, and District VP. I love setting and reaching goals. 
Talk about the books you’ve written. What was the first seed of an idea you had for your book? How did it develop?
The Tourist Trap mysteries started with Guidebook to Murder. And Guidebook started with a trip to central coastal California to visit my sister. I was driving around, taking in the sites when I came across this house for sale. Run down, the yard turned to weeds, I wondered what it would be like to pick up my life and start all over there. With a divorce in process, a good job, and a kid still in school, I didn’t take the chance. Many years later, my heroine, Jill Gardner did what I was too afraid to do. 
Now, five books into the series, I think both Jill and I are becoming stronger, more independent women.
Jill sounds a lot like Jesse in The Cavanaugh House. I love strong female protagonists! How would you describe your writing process? Do you outline? Let the muse lead you? Or something else?
I’m a total pantser. I know where I’m starting and where I’m ending and I might know the ‘theme’ of the book, if there is one. My one belief in writing is that the magic comes from the work. I might think I know where the story is going, but when I write, the process takes over and the product is a lot better. 
I do put down bullet points of what’s going on in the chapter, or if I’m feeling really blocked, I’ll plot the entire book. It might not be what I wind up writing, but at least it’s a roadmap. I just like taking side roads. ☺ 
We are writing soulmates. I am a total pantser, too. While the story develops, I’m as surprised as I hope my readers will be. When you get the edits back from your editor, how do you work through that process?
The first thing I do is peek to see how bad they are. I scan through to see if she laughed where I thought she should. I look for comments telling me she didn’t follow my convoluted (at times) reasoning or if I let a plot thread drop. 
If they’re not too bad, I go through once, doing the easy stuff. Commas, word choices, etc. I ignore any comment that makes my eye twitch this time. The third time when I go back, I deal with the harder problems, and by that time, somehow, they wind up not being as hard as I’d expected.
Sounds like a great process. What books have influenced you as a writer?
On Writing- Stephen King; The Novel Writer’s Toolkit – Bob Mayer; Illusions – Richard Bach; The Stand – Stephen King
An impressive list of books. How do you balance writing, marketing, promoting, bookkeeping, family and work? 
Well, family is my husband. And he’s pretty self-sufficient, especially when I’m on deadline. Writing, I’m trying to get as much done in a week as possible. I’m finding if I keep the word count up, I stay in the story better. I had hip replacement last November so I’ve been off work until this week. I’m sure I’ll be feeling the stress of balancing right about now. Marketing/promoting, I tend to do a big blog tour around release days, then do softer marketing for the rest of the time. I’m active on Facebook, have a blog, and tweet, but I try to keep those activities to less than two hours a day. Accounting, I’m going to have to get better at. Right now, I do it all at the end of the year when I do my taxes. 
You’re spinning a lot of plates! What is the best piece of advice about writing that you ever received or read? What would tell aspiring writers today?
I guess the best piece of advice I got was finish a book. I was the queen of four chapters. Once I got through an entire process, I realized what worked, and what didn’t. So that’s the first thing I’d tell aspiring writers. Another thing I would say is don’t worry about the business side of writing until you have the craft down. I won’t say “mastered” as I believe that happens over your lifetime, not with book 2. Finally, I’d tell them not to shy away from working with small presses for your first books. I learned a heck of a lot by trying different small publishers. I learned how the publication process worked. How to read contracts and royalty statements. And I learned how to edit and work with an editor. 
You don’t make a lot of money with the smaller presses, but you do earn an informal Masters in Creative Writing, one day at a time. 
Great advice! What are you currently working on?
This week I’m finishing the final (for now) novella in The Council series – Salem Gathering. Next week I start the sixth Tourist Trap book. This time, Sadie’s in hot water as her boyfriend’s wife shows up in town, then shows up dead. I’m also editing a contemporary romance that I’ll be self-publishing in the next few weeks.
You are one busy author! I wish you all the best with your writing. Thanks for being my guest today, Lynn.
If the Shoe Kills blurb:
The tourist town of South Cove, California, is a lovely place to spend the holidays. But this year, shop owner Jill Gardner discovers there’s no place like home for homicide. . .
As owner of Coffee, Books, and More, Jill Gardner looks forward to the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers. But when the mayor ropes her into being liaison for a new work program, 'tis the season to be wary. Local businesses are afraid the interns will be delinquents, punks, or worse. For Jill, nothing’s worse than Ted Hendricks--the jerk who runs the program. After a few run-ins, Jill’s ready to kill the guy. That, however, turns out to be unnecessary when she finds Ted in his car--dead as a doornail. Officer Greg assumes it’s a suicide. Jill thinks it’s murder. And if the holidays weren’t stressful enough, a spoiled blonde wants to sue the city for breaking her heel. Jill has to act fast to solve this mess--before the other shoe drops. . .
"Murder, dirty politics, pirate lore, and a hot police detective: Guidebook to Murder has it all! A cozy lover’s dream come true." --Susan McBride, author of The Debutante Dropout Mysteries
Buy Lynn’s books at:
Visit Lynn at:

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Looking at Love from the Loyalist's Side

While I write historical romances set during the American Revolution from the patriots’s point of view, Canadian author Elaine Cougler writes from the Loyalists point of view. We’ve talked about doing a book tour together—how fun would that be! I am so pleased to welcome you to my blog today, Elaine
In writing my novels, I often come to one scene (or more) that is so difficult to write I have to leave my WIP for a while and let the ideas percalate. Was there a scene for you that was more difficult than others? One that you pondered whether or not to include it?
In The Loyalist’s Wife (book 1) there were a couple of scenes that
were difficult to the point of tears as the words poured onto the screen. I never considered leaving out those scenes for two reasons. One, I agree with Anne Rice who says in order to hook your reader make life difficult for your heroine and then make it worse. Two, I had to leave Lucy’s terrible brush with low-life ruffians in to satisfy the plot. And I realized that I was crying because I’d managed to catch the essence of what was happening to my heroine. If  it affected me that much, surely my readers would be similarly affected.

You mention the same reasons I left difficult scenes in my book. What do you keep in mind as you write? An overarching question? A theme? The last line of the book?
Like so many women, I tend to be a facilitator and I see issues as gray rather than black and white. I can usually see two sides to every story and this came out in both The Loyalist’s Wife and The Loyalist’s Luck. Showing how ordinary people’s lives are affected when those in power make decisions is paramount. I try to keep from finger pointing and just show the story, especially since Canada and the United States today enjoy such cordial and respectful relations. That being said, the second book does do a bit more enemy bashing than the first one but this is partly because of where the story is in book two and the actual history.

I take no offense LOL. There must be conflict for any good story, and I have done the same thing in both Love’s Destiny and Love’s Spirit. Tell us about the funniest/craziest/most interesting thing that has happened to you as a writer.
After the first book came out, I was interviewed by our local television station on a program about authors. It was a half hour show and my bit was about fifteen minutes. Talk about our fifteen minutes of fame! Well, a couple of weeks later, I was in the local drugstore checking out when the clerk gave me an extra special smile. “Don’t I know you?” she asked, and before I could answer she went on. “Aha! I saw you on TV. You’re that author!” 

Now that is a great moment in any author’s life. You must have felt great! But there is the less glamorous side of our craft, too. How do you balance writing, marketing, promoting, bookkeeping, family and work?
As a teacher I spent my life living with deadlines and time schedules so that setting my own schedule to get everything done is fairly easy. I’m a great believer in lists and just now I have a small white board on the corner of my desk with six large projects I’m working on. Each day I sit down before that list and try to start with the research for book two. Then I spend time on a couple of the others but allow myself some leeway here as to what intrigues me at the moment. Every day I market, no matter what. It may be as simple as talking to strangers at a historical marker site and handing them bookmarks. Or it might be writing my weekly blog and sending it flying through the e-airways to the world (I wish!). This daily marketing does pay off as I’ve secured many speaking, signing, workshop gigs by just asking. Somewhere in the last months a marketing guru said writers must market every day for at least three years. I pretty much do that.

I admire the discipline in your daily routine. I am going to adopt your secret of daily marketing. What is the biggest chance you’ve taken as a writer? How did that work out?
Part of my six-year journey to publication involved the switch from traditional to self-publishing. In Canada there are very few historical fiction books published every year. The number I was told was six. After writing 40 query letters with disappointing results and being the type of person who jumps into the deep end with both feet, I finally plunged into going it on my own. I wasn’t alone as I found a wonderful cover designer and printer in Victoria, B.C., as well as an accomplished interior designer in Paris, France. And, of course, my Toronto editor was fantastic. This all has worked out very well as the book sales are good and self-publishing is attaining stature. My first book was, in fact, a finalist in the Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair, Canada’s self-publishing awards last November. 

Congratulations on being a finalist! You are certainly dedicated to your craft.
Thanks so much for inviting me to be on your blog, Elizabeth.
It’s been my pleasure, Elaine. I wish you all best with continued success.

Contact Elaine at:

Excerpt from The Loyalist’s Luck, Book 2:

When the Revolutionary War turns in favor of the Americans, John and Lucy flee across the Niagara River with almost nothing. They begin again in Butlersburg, a badly supplied British outpost surrounded by endless trees and rivers, and the mighty roar of the giant falls nearby. He is off on a secret mission for Colonel Butler and she is left behind with her young son and pregnant once again. In the camp full of distrust, hunger, and poverty, word has seeped out that John has gone over to the American side and only two people will associate with Lucy—her friend, Nellie, who delights in telling her all the current gossip, and Sergeant Crawford, who refuses to set the record straight and clear John’s name. To make matters worse, the sergeant has made improper advances toward Lucy. 

With vivid scenes of heartbreak and betrayal, heroism and shattered hopes, Elaine Cougler takes us into the hearts and homes of Loyalists still fighting for their beliefs, and draws poignant scenes of families split by political borders. The Loyalist’s Luck shows us the courage of ordinary people who, in perilous times, become extraordinary.

Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Buy Elaine’s books at:

Book 1: The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon
Book 2: The Loyalist’s Luck on Amazon

About the Author

A lifelong reader and high school teacher, Elaine found her passion for writing once her family was grown. She loves to read history for the stories of real people reacting to their world. Bringing to life the tales of Loyalists in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 is very natural as Elaine’s personal roots are in those struggles, out of which arose both Canada and the United States.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Embracing the "One Little Word" Challenge

My friend Lisa challenged me and our friend Tina to consider the “One Little Word” challenge. This idea is the brainchild of Ali Edwards who in 2006 began to chose one word each January that
One of Ali's One Little Word Projects
would be her focus for that year. While I am not taking part in her workshop because I am in the midst of revision for my next novel, I accepted my friend Lisa’s challenge to think of a word that could be my focus for 2015.

Embracing my beautiful daughter, Kate
While I was watching Ali’s video about her workshop, my word came to me as surely as if someone (Boris?) whispered it right into my ear. Embrace. That is my word for 2015. I will embrace my loved ones, as always. But I will also embrace the present moment. I will embrace success, and I will embrace failure. I will embrace revision and editing.I will embrace opportunities, trials, even this darn head cold I have right now.

How am I embracing this head cold? Instead of feeling sorry for myself as I sniffle, cough, sneeze and shiver my way through the day, I am trying to relax (my friend Lisa’s word) into the extra rest and sleep that I know I need. Instead of fighting it by overexerting myself, I
Embraced by my beloved, Rich
am trying to honor (my friend Tina’s word) the extra care I need right now. So instead of cursing the darkness of self-pity and despair, I am lighting the candle of embracing the moment whatever it brings. Do I sound painfully cloying? Perhaps. But I think it’s a better coping mechanism than “poor me” which usually would be my default right about now.

I suspect my word embrace will have far more positive application than negative throughout the year. What I hope is that it will make me more mindful of the present moment, more grateful for the many blessings in my life and more accepting of the lessons always taught in the face of challenges.


What word you would choose? I would love to know.

Author's note: After writing this post I learned of the unexpected death of a friend who was a loving husband and father and gifted musician. I must also embrace sorrow today.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Rachel Donnelly's Evelina Series Will Bewitch Readers

While Rachel Donnelly’s Evelina Young Adult series is a fun fantasy, she also explores some serious topics, too. Welcome Rachel. It’s so nice to have you here today.
Thanks so much for having me as a guest on your blog today, Betty. Happy New Year to everyone! 

What is the biggest chance you’ve taken as a writer? How did that work out?
 This is it.  The Evelina series—book of my heart—a lot of good clean fun—something for all ages to enjoy. Evelina and the Time Pirates has had 70K reads on Wattpad, so that’s good news. And Evelina and the Reef Hag will be out in paperback this week. I’m excited to finally hold it in my hands.

There is nothing like the feeling of holding your own book in your hands! How has writing this book changed you?
Every book has changed me to some extent.  It’s a journey filled with darkness and light where my mind wrestles with my soul. I wrote the Evelina series just for fun. I gave myself permission to just puke it out and write a story from my heart. I realized after writing the Reef Hag how much the Evelina series explores so many themes near and dear to me, like freedom of expression, living an authentic existence, standing up for yourself, and my belief that learning should be a joyful adventure.    
But inevitably darker themes surface. I realized after writing Evelina and the Reef Hag—the insidious curse of the Reef Hag was a way of me working through the pain and loss of my brother’s depression and eventual suicide—something difficult to discuss, as mental illness is not well understood. The death of Robin Williams, one of our great talents, prompted a great deal of dialogue this year.  Hopefully, more can be done in the future to help people who need it.    
So your book explores some very important issues. What a gift for your readers. Was there a scene that was more difficult than others? One that you pondered whether or not to include it?
Not in this one, although I did wrestle with the ‘black moment’.  But I have had to chop whole scenes in some of my historicals. The story usually has to rest for a while before I see it, or feel it. Often something wonky with the pace alerts me to the problem. And I’ll think “what the hell have you been yammering’ on about here? Get rid of it.”
I tend to write in a linear fashion, with the exception of the odd crazy scene or bit of dialogue that pops into my head.  I get it down and then later, if it fits, I’ll use it. 
Oh my, your Muse does that to you, too? How do your characters influence your writing? Do you have disagreements with them?
My characters tend to be quite vivid.  Sometimes late at night, when I’m getting ready for bed, I’ll get flashes of faces in my mind of strangers or possible characters. It’s a bit weird. LOL Not sure what that’s all about. But, if I lose touch with a character I might make of list of “he wants/ she wants” to keep their goals and motivations fresh in my mind. It’s a great way to churn up plot and kick-start ideas for those unexpected twists and turns.   
How do you handle major rewrites? 
Luckily I haven’t had any of those yet. 
You lucky woman! What food or beverages do you turn to while you are writing? Are you a stress eater on deadline or a “lack of inspiration” eater when ideas are not flowing?
I’m a huge coffee fiend, but I drink instant so I’m not too wired. I definitely have to keep a lot of veggies on hand to munch on when I’m restlessly wandering from the computer to the kitchen between bursts of inspiration.
You are so healthy! I reach past the veggies and head right to the chocolate LOL. Thanks so much for being my guest today, Rachel. Wishing you great success with your Evelina series.

Evelina and the Reef Hag blurb:
Evelina Crimm has to stop the Swamp Hogs from winning the Glaring, but a Reef Hag is killing off the competition.

Her powers are limited as a novice Water Witch, but she’ll fight the dark forces that conjured the Reef Hag to the bitter end. She’ll do what she has to to catch her parents’ killer, even if it means risking expulsion. Falling in love with a Time Keeper is just as forbidden, but it’s difficult to stay away from Frankie Holler, even when he keeps breaking her heart.

Frankie Holler is a Time Keeper on a mission. Like other Warlocks, he wants his tribe to win.  But he’ll sacrifice glory and do what he has to, to save the future of the Water Witches, including breaking a few rules, to help Evelina Crimm.  

Evelina and the Reef Hag excerpt:
Chapter One

“You’re dead, Crimm!” Henrietta Ledbetter leered across the aisle, jowls quivering, black eyes narrowed to slits in her big melon head.
“Evelina Crimm!” Sister Mary Rosalina, or Sister Mary Elephant as everyone called her, swung round from the blackboard, like a Smart car pulling a U-ie. The scent of shoe polish and mothballs swirled around her in a noxious tornado. The chalk in her hand slid away from the half drawn quarter note. “Eyes on the board!”
Evelina came upright in her seat.
Every hair sprang to life from the stubble on her legs to the tip of her ponytail.
She’d been thinking about Frankie Holler again. Whenever that happened her brain left the building. 
Everyone turned to stare—sliding in their seats toward her, like water to a drain. 
Her heart tapped louder.
The last thing she needed was another detention—one more and she’d be pulling garbage duty, or scraping gum off chairs.
She stared straight ahead, ignoring Henrietta’s hot glare, wondering what she’d done this time to incite her wrath? Not that it took much. She was a freak show. 
Maybe it was that goose in her bed. Maybe not the goose so much, but what it left behind. Having just learned she was a Water Witch, Evelina didn’t have much control over her powers. Nights were cold at St. Cecelia’s in December. She’d only been trying to conjure a nice warm duvet. But things got a little out of hand—okay, a lot out of hand, especially when the goose escaped.
But who knew that was going to happen?
Not that she was ever far out of Henrietta’s beady sights. But right now Henrietta was relishing her power. Every day since her cousin, Sister Bellona became their new Phys. Ed. instructor, Henrietta had grown meaner. 
She seemed to feed off the fear Sister Bellona incited. One gym class was enough to discover why. After two broken noses and a near fatal asthma attack, the school was on high alert. Bellona was out for blood. 
A shiver ran up Evelina’s back.
Sometimes she hated school. Hate was a strong word, one you should never use, according to Grammy Crimm, but, today it seemed appropriate. Oh, she enjoyed the learning part, especially music, when the flute trilled in her hands like a spring robin. But all that theory she could do without. 
And classmates like Henrietta. She took the prize for evil. It oozed out of every pore, dripping in foamy bubbles from the side of her mouth whenever she went ballistic.
Like right now. 
She looked like a bull ready to charge.
Henrietta sprang from her seat, snatching the piece of paper from Evelina’s hand. 
Henrietta held it high over her head like a trophy. “Lookee here! Whatcha got, Orph?” She slashed Evelina a look of poison. “Doesn’t look much like a treble clef!”
The entire music class roared with laughter.
A few clapped.
Molly Nuttle, Henrietta’s best friend, howled like a hyena, sending her greasy blonde hair swinging past her ears.
The caricature of Sister Mary Elephant with her pointer shaped like a claw floated above Evelina’s head like the angel of death. She hardly remembered drawing it. She was always drawing something. 
Actually, it was a pretty good likeness. 
“Oh, no!” Lily Huckabone, Evelina’s best friend, groaned, slinking down in the desk beside her. “Not good.”
She was right.
From the look on Sister Mary Elephant’s face, retribution was at hand.
“SILENCE!!!” She snatched the claw from the corner of her oak desk. The image was so similar to Evelina’s picture a few students snickered. “You think that’s funny, do you, Crimm?”
“No, Sister.”
Sister Mary Elephant’s pale blue eyes narrowed behind her black horn-rimmed glasses. “On your feet when I’m talking to you!”
Evelina scrambled out of her seat, taking the opportunity to snatch the picture from Henrietta’s meaty fist.
Henrietta gnashed her bulldog canines in a snarl.
Evelina leveled a fierce glare on her. For once Evelina was grateful for her height. She might be a feather weight, but at least she could look Henrietta straight in the eye.
Henrietta backed up, wedging her bulbous butt into her seat with a satisfied sneer creasing her face.
“Evelina Crimm!”
Evelina spun round.
Sister Mary Elephant’s pinched features constricted. “Go to Sister Juliana’s office at once!” 
Evelina glanced back at Lily, who sat clutching her sandy braid like a rip cord, chocolate eyes as wide as cupcakes behind her wire-rimmed specks.
 Being sent to the Mother Superior’s office was no small matter. Inevitably consequences followed, not usually of the pleasant kind. Sister Juliana meant well. But her discipline bordered on medieval, adhering to the ‘no pain, no gain’ philosophy.
Evelina strode from the room with a straight back.
But the hollow bang of the door closing chilled her blood.

Evelina and the Time Pirates is currently a Goodreads Giveaway. To enter, click here: 

Visit Rachel at 

Buy Rachel’s books at:

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Danger Lurks and Romance Blossoms in The Thornless Rose by Morgan O'Neill

Last chance to get The Thornless Rose at its introductory $0.99 price. Ends soon!

Deborah O’Neill Cordes and Cary Morgan Frates writing as Morgan O’Neill create such a compelling world in The Thornless Rose that images stay with you long after you’ve put the book down (which you can’t do until you’ve finished it.)  Within this world simmers the passion of lovers brought together by time and kept apart by circumstance. I love every book Morgan O’Neill has written, and I am so pleased to feature their latest novel. 

Title: The Thornless Rose
An Elizabethan Time Travel Novel
Author: Morgan O’Neill
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication Date: December 29, 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction

No one ever knew what really happened to Dr. Jonathan Brandon back in 1945. He simply disappeared from a London pub, leaving behind an unsolved mystery and his fiancĂ©e—Anne Howard’s grandmother. Seventy years later, Anne herself is haunted by the strange tale, along with inexplicable hallucinations straight out of Elizabethan England. Including a scarred, handsome man whose deep blue eyes seem to touch her very soul...

Anne wonders if there isn’t something more to the story. Is it even possible that Jonathan disappeared into England’s dark past? And why does Anne keep hearing him whisper her name? Because now she too feels the inexorable pull of the past, not to mention an undeniable attraction for a man she doesn’t even know.

It’s just a matter of time before Anne will step back into history, and face a destiny―and a love―beyond imagining…

Excerpt from The Thornless Rose
Author’s note: In this scene, time travelers Anne Howard and Dr. Jonathan Brandon are thrown together for the first time.
Anne felt a tingling, a creeping of skin on the back of her neck and arms. She closed her eyes, suddenly feeling faint, when the air stilled beyond anything she had ever experienced.
What the––? From darkening shadows, she gazed out. Oddly, the chapel was brilliantly lit by dozens of candles. Black-clad monks knelt on wooden misericords, praying.
Their soft, collective droning was a counterpoint to her heart’s fierce drumming.
“Wh—what just happened?” Anne stammered, trying to keep the shrill edge out of her voice. “Where’d you come from?”
The monks turned. To a man, their gazes cut through her, sharp and deeply suspicious.
She swallowed in fear. “Where am I? There were tourists. What happened to them?”
Eyes widening, a young monk held up his crucifix. “Woman,” he said, straining to see Anne, “why dost thou speak gibberish? Hast thou no wits?”
“But this is Westminster Abbey, isn’t it?”
“Aye. But if thou seeketh absolution, thou must find the bishop, for we are at prayer.”
Anne took a deep breath and crossed into the light. Gasps exploded from the monks as they gaped at her shorts and bare legs.
“Strumpet! For shame!” a monk shouted.
“Princess of Sodom!” cried another. “Get thee gone!”
Anne backed up, anxious to escape, and quickly turned to avoid the royal tomb directly behind her. She stopped and stared. The place looked nothing like before. Instead of a marble sarcophagus, there was a pile of broken stones heaped on the floor.
She spun toward the monks, still frozen against their misericords. “Where’s the tomb? Queen Elizabeth’s tomb?” she croaked.
“Elizabeth?” The young monk rose to his feet. “Would that the foul heretic were dead! There,” he pointed to the heap of stones, “rests our true Catholic queen, Mary Tudor. God rest her soul.”
“Brother Daniel, silence!” shouted another monk. “If the queen’s men hear thy words of sedition...”
But the young monk, Daniel, shook his head, eyes blazing. “Witch, I’ll send thee back to hell!” He lunged at Anne.
Instinctively, she put up her arms, covering her face in a defensive posture. Then, in disbelief, she realized she felt nothing, no contact with her attacker. She turned just as Brother Daniel tumbled behind her onto Mary Tudor’s grave.
Anne looked down at herself, realizing for the first time she was fading away. Her body looked transparent! “Oh, help!” she shouted, panicked. “Help me!”
She started, blinked, and stared. The monks had vanished, the crowd of tourists surrounding the queens’ tomb the same as before. She held out a trembling hand. Her skin looked as it’d always been—she was whole again.
It took her a moment to get her bearings, to steady herself, but then a voice brought her fully around. 
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” a woman said. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Anne muttered, even though she knew she wasn’t. Shocked, she looked at her shaky hands, again solid, part of the here and now. She shoved them into her pockets and walked on. What just happened?
She picked up her pace, intent on leaving. She shouldn’t have had that shandy on an empty stomach.
The lights suddenly dimmed, the atmosphere hushed, expectant. Just like before!
She halted in her tracks. Flickering candlelight and deep shadows, no tourists. The Abbey was even darker than it had been when she’d seen the monks.
What the hell is going on?
“Anne! Anne!”
Stunned, she turned. A man in costume ran toward her.
“Go back,” he shouted, “back where it’s safe!”
She stood transfixed. As he came closer, she recognized him—his eyes, the scar.
He halted and pulled her tight against him. “I love you, Anne,” he whispered into her hair, “but you have to go with him. Save yourself.”
He stilled her confusion with a tender brush of his lips, and she responded instinctively, their kiss deepening as her body arched against his, her blood ablaze with sudden desire, until the rest of the world seemed very far away.
When he finally drew back, he stared into her eyes, and Anne’s heart seized when she saw his pain, the sheer desperation in his gaze.
The feeling was apparently mutual, because he pulled her close and swore under his breath, “Bloody hell, the bastard will pay for this.”
I don’t understand. 
He opened his eyes and stared at something in the distance. “Anne, go now,” his voice cracked, “because I can face anything if I know you’re safe.”
His fingers gently cupped her chin, his touch unleashing more heat. He lifted her face for another kiss, and then—nothing. He was gone. She fought for control, her breathing erratic, her legs threatening to crumble. She touched her lips, still feeling his caress, his soft breath on her skin, but he was gone.
The lights flashed on, the tourists once again milling about, unaware.
“Mummy, they were kissing!”
A small boy pointed at her, but his mother paid no attention.
He saw us! Anne plastered a fake smile on her face until the boy disappeared into the crowd. He saw us, and that means I wasn’t hallucinating. But how? How could Dr. Brandon be here? She touched her lips once more. The way he’d held her, spoken to her, whispered her name, made her believe he was real—and he...
He knew me. But how? A chill enveloped her as the memory of the monk’s stare supplanted Brandon’s.
Trembling, she left the Abbey.

About the authors:
A chance meeting at a writers’ conference brought Cary Morgan Frates and Deborah O’Neill Cordes together, two award-winning authors who connected because of a mutual love of time travel fiction. Collaboration ensued, the search for a pen name the first step in their working relationship. Their maiden names provided the solution - and “Morgan O’Neill” was born.

Cary and Deborah’s backgrounds are uniquely suited to writing stories steeped in atmosphere and history: Deborah has a Master’s Degree in history and is a dedicated genealogist; Cary is a talented linguist in French and is currently a student of Latin. They’ve traveled to Europe’s ancient and medieval sites many times, with Cary living on the Continent for five years.

The Morgan O’Neill time travel novels have received a number of literary awards, including two finalist wins in the Booksellers’ Best Awards, two semifinalist wins in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, first, second, and third place wins for the Mainstream Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category of the Golden Rose Contest, a top ten finalist award in the Pacific Northwest Writers' Conference Zola Awards Literary Contest, and a top ten finalist win in the Orange Rose Contest.
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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Winter Dreams is a Romantic Winter Read

As many of you know, my first book, Love’s Destiny, is one of ten novels in a bundle of historical romance novels called Time After Time. Crimson Romance has just released a new bundle perfect for this time of year that includes novels by seven of my author friends. Cuddle up with a cup of hot chocolate or a hot toddy and read the excerpts from each. Please note the fantastic sales price—that us not a misprint!

7 Heartfelt Holiday Romances 
$0.81 on Amazon for a Limited Time (Prices at other e-retailers vary)
Bundle Blurb
Winter's crisp cold is the perfect backdrop for holiday lights, snowball fights, and starry nights by the fire, curled up with hunky heroes. Let these seven couples show you how to find the warmth of red-hot romance.
  • Christmas Dinner: Amanda dreads returning home single for Christmas, but the only available man is her rival for the TV anchor spot. Can the holiday spirit turn animosity into love?
  • The Winter Fairy: Recuperating ballerina Penelope Glazier can enchant the young girls in her class, but will her magic work on Carson Langley, the sexy but straight-laced single father of her most talented student?
  • Holiday Hoopla: Halle is about to lose her gift shop, until banker Blake walks into her life, dangling an offer that could save it all, or cost her everything.
  • Wynter's Journey: Twelve years after tragedy tore Wynter and Sam apart, can another predicament bring them back together?
  • The Winter Promise: War throws Lady Emma and Lord Robert together, where they must decide if they can listen to their hearts - or if they would be wiser never to trust each other.
  • Winter Storms: Daniel's sailing accident cost Carly her shot at Olympic dreams, while his own athletic success was unhindered. Now he's returned and they're stuck in the Cornish village where storms lash them from outside - and within.
  • Old Christmas: Casey needs help from the magic that walks on Old Christmas Eve to find her way back home, and to the love she left behind.
Sensuality Level: Sensual

Purchase Links
Christmas Dinner by Robyn Neeley
“Arrive at destination on left.” The familiar voice of Tate’s GPS echoed throughout his
Jeep, interrupting the soft sounds of Christmas music.

This couldn’t be right. Could it? He pulled onto the side of the road. His navigation
system had taken him down a dark and twisty path for the last fifteen minutes. There
were few homes on either side. He shook Amanda’s shoulder gently. His eyes focused on
the spectacle in front of him.

“What time is it?” She yawned and sat up. “Are we here already?”

“That’s what I would like to know. Amanda, is this your parents’ house?” He leaned over his steering wheel and peered out the window. In front of him, thousands of decorative red and green lights flickered on rows of Christmas trees at the bottom of a hill, showcasing what he could only describe as a cross between Santa’s Village and the middle of Times Square. A blanket of snow stretched at least a quarter of a mile up the hill. At the top was a beautiful two-story mountain log cabin. Glistening white Christmas lights outlined the house.

Amanda sighed. “Yep. We’re here.”

“This is amazing. Amanda, is your dad Santa Claus?” he asked, half joking.

“Not quite.”

“They could land 747 jets on your front yard. That tree in the middle has to be over
thirty feet tall.” He pointed to the west side of the lawn. “Is that a horse and sleigh over

“The horse is fake. I’d rather not talk about the sleigh.”

“Then we won’t.” He suspected she might have some unpleasant memories of it
involving the infamous ex. Perhaps it was the scene of the aborted proposal.

Amanda sighed. “Good. Did your parents decorate their lawn for the holidays?” She
reached behind her for her bags.

“No. Well, yeah, I guess. But this, well, this . . . wow . . . It’s just really something.”
About Robyn
Robyn Neeley is an East Coaster who loves to explore new places, watches way more reality TV than she cares to admit, can’t live without Recess Peanut Butter Cups and has never met a Christmas cookie she didn’t like. (Her favorite cookie made it into Holiday Wedding!) She writes romantic comedy, sometimes with a hint of magic, but always with a happy ending. Visit her at

Winter Fairy  by Lola Karns 
The sight of Penelope sitting on his sofa with her long legs tucked up beside her drew his attention as soon as he stepped inside. Her blue eyes blinked at him, giving her an expression that managed to be both innocent and alluring at the same time. He set down the cups he held in his hand, and after a long minute remembered to take off his coat and boots.
“Hi, yourself.” She smiled. “How did your shopping go?” She skeptically eyed the one bag and the cups resting on the entry table.
He approached the couch, carrying the bag and coffees with him, the same time as she stood. “Very good. I’ll have to empty the trunk later. I brought you something.” He waved the coffee cups. “I didn’t know what you like. I got a peppermint mocha and a gingerbread latte. Which would you prefer?” She bit her lip and furled her brow. “Stay for a bit. I can’t drink all this coffee by myself.”
Her gaze slid to the cups, the left side of her mouth raised slightly as she glanced back to him. “I’m such a typical girl. I can’t say no to chocolate.”
He offered her the mocha before sitting beside her. He couldn’t agree with her – she was no typical girl in his book. She unsettled him. “Then I know which piece of cheesecake you’ll want.” He reached into the bag and handed her a box and a fork. “I could get plates if you want.”
She opened the box, revealing chocolate cheesecake decorated with chocolate ganache and white chocolate drizzle. “This is great. Thank you.”
Her fluttering eyelashes distracted him, but the moan she let out when she took her first bite went straight to his groin. Now he was second-guessing his decision to bring dessert. He’d wanted his grown up company to stay longer - he hadn’t anticipated being reminded of the more carnal pleasures he missed with his self-imposed solitude. Or had he? As he tried to resolve his true motive, she interrupted his thoughts.
“If it’s not too rude, what prompted this delicious treat?”
“I was by the shop and cheesecake sounded good. It’s been a long time since I’ve indulged in dessert after Eloise has gone to bed. Dessert always tastes better when…”
He hesitated. Calling her a friend didn’t seem quite right. She seemed more than that, even though he barely knew her.
She looked up,“When it’s shared.”
About Lola
Having worked as a wide variety of jobs as she moved through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey, Georgia, and Virginia, Lola decided she needed a more portable career. Writing fit the bill.
Lola currently resides in Minnesota with her husband, two children, two hairless cats, and a fluffy ex-stray cat. When not writing, she enjoys baking, reading and drinking coffee.
She is the author of Bad Traveler and Winter Fairy. Visit Lola at

Holiday Hoopla by Dana Volney
Blake Ellison continued to watch the woman. Can’t I have a moment of peace? I can’t even Christmas shop without . . . This gal has the right idea, drinking in the afternoon. That’s my kind of day. He wished it was just because of the holidays, but lately his life was complicated with unfair obligations that made him want to drink—a lot . . . a whole lot.
Blake assessed the friendly sales gal. Her blonde hair was tied back in a messy pony tail that was weirdly sensual. Her fresh face was a welcome relief from the overly made up women he usually encountered.
“I’m Blake by the way.” He offered his hand.
“Halle, nice to meet you.” She slipped her hand in his firmly. Strong. Good. Limp fish handshakes were the worst.
“You don’t happen to have another glass or bottle of beer hiding back there, do ya?” He raised an eyebrow again.
Halle laughed and her green eyes danced. He grinned, getting swept up in the moment.
“Tsk, tsk.” She crinkled her nose. “Isn’t it a little early?”
“Well, you made it look so fun.” He cocked his head toward the counter where she’d spilled what smelled like a Zinfandel.
“You, my new friend, are in luck. I happen to have a glass and, better yet, a new bottle.”
She knelt down to fish under the counter and Blake leaned over to check out the view his higher perch now afforded him. Sexy. Halle popped back up and his startled eyes found hers. She fetched a decorated glass off the shelf and waggled it in her hand.
“Convenient.” He nodded toward the spot she’d just made vacant.
“Perk of being the owner.” She winked and headed to the back of her store.
Blake wasn’t sure what do to, but he followed because she had wine. She owns this place? Huh. He couldn’t keep his eyes from roaming. Nice ass.
Halle motioned to a couple of high backed, brightly patterned green and pink chairs. A sitting area had been set up in the middle of the store, complete with an end table between the chairs and a rug. They sat and she poured.
They clinked glasses.
“So, Blake, what drives you to drink in the middle of the day?”

About Dana
Dana Volney lets her imagination roam free in Wyoming where she writes romances and helps local businesses succeed with her marketing consulting company. Surrounding herself with good friends, family, and boating on the lake whenever she can, she thrives on moments and memories created with loved ones, especially on sun filled days. That's when Wyoming's charm really sinks in. Dana is bold, adventurous and--by her own admission--good with plants, having kept a coral cactus alive for more than one year. Visit Dana at

Wynter’s Journey by Jennifer DeCuir
Okay, it was go time. What was the first thing they were supposed to do? Sam looked wildly around the room. He kept his voice calm, and hid the tremors that threatened to rattle his teeth loose. Wynter was counting on him.
He got her into bed and rushed to his desk in the corner. Jerking at the mouse to wake up the screen, Sam brought up the website he’d been studying just a few short hours ago. He thought he’d had more time.
Yeah, he’d been anticipating this. It was Vermont–in the dead of winter. Chances were pretty damned good that a snowstorm would make a routine hospital delivery less and less likely. And he’d been right to assume that Wynter wouldn’t take the contractions seriously until it was too late. She was too stubborn for her own good.
So they were doing this. Another scream from the bed had him yanking the power cord from the laptop and carrying it with him back to the other side of the room. The website hadn’t bothered to explain that hearing his best friend’s gut-wrenching cries of pain would push his own stress levels beyond human endurance.
“Amazing what you can learn from the internet.” That ridiculous statement earned him a glare. Yeah, probably best to keep the chatter to a minimum.
“Sam. Call 9-1-1,” she panted.
He was going to do that. It was next on his list. Really. He reached for the cell phone that he kept on the nightstand charger next to his bed. It wasn’t there. He stared frantically at the empty charger. 
Wynter watched him closely, her eyes pleading with him.
“Sam, please!” She clutched at the sheets with a white-knuckled grip, her entire body going rigid. Crap.
“I’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere.” Sam spun on his heel and raced for the stairs, taking them two at a time, falling on his butt and sliding down the last few. Not letting it stop his momentum, he ran to his office.

About Jennifer
Jennifer DeCuir grew up in a small town in Maine, which provides the basis for Scallop Shores, the fictional town in Drawn to Jonah. She's busy raising two kids and a husband. She loves including children and babies in her stories, as her own provide endless story ideas. Currently residing in rain-soaked Washington, she can usually be found working on her latest book in a local Starbucks. Visit Jennifer at

The Winter Promise by Jenny Jacobs
The painful stirrings of a headache began to throb behind Robert’s temples. He knew he was about to hear a story. He hoped it would at least be entertaining. He very much doubted it would be true.
The foreigner stared at his face with wide violet eyes. He narrowed his own gray eyes at her. He knew he was not the most attractive man to women, but she needn’t gawp at him in such a rude way.
He acknowledged her with a curt nod and seated himself on his chair, rough-hewn from one of the alders that flourished on Athelney, as sturdy and as solid – and as undecorative – as he. 
Nettled by her stare, he responded in kind with a thorough and thoroughly offensive inventory of his own. She looked young but must have reached her majority or she would have a guardian to look after her and would not require his generosity. For he had no doubt that was what she was here to obtain. She must be a widow, or at least unmarried, or there would be a husband. Unless – he hoped she didn’t expect him to intervene in a marital dispute. He would never let a wife like this run away, not one with such delicate features and soft unmarred skin, masses of dark hair demurely covered with fine linen, the spark in her eye hinting that her spirits had not been entirely quelled by whatever misfortune had befallen her. Her wide violet eyes were compelling, and he found himself looking into them for a long timeless moment. 
He made himself shift his gaze, cataloging all of her failings: the borrowed dress she wore, which could only mean she had arrived at Athelney without personal possessions of any kind; the lack of companions to accompany her, where any lady of quality would have at least one or two trailing after her, annoying his servants; the awkwardness of the curtsy she’d given him, which meant she didn’t care about her manner, and he already had enough of those in his household; the boots on her feet, which meant she would not be the quiet, retiring type who stayed indoors and consoled him with gentle murmurs and warm compresses; the outline of a dagger in her sleeve. He sighed again.

About Jenny
Jenny Jacobs, a writer living in the Midwest, is still kissing frogs, but likes to write about people finding their happily ever after—even if they have to go through some difficulties to get there. She is the author of Sadie’s Story and The Winter Promise. Visit her at

Winter Storms by Lucy Oliver

Slinging a rucksack over his shoulder, he stepped across the floating jetty to the sea wall. A rank odour of dead fish, salt water, and rust hit him; scents he remembered from his childhood. Boats creaked at their moorings and faint music drifted over from a pub.

Brick steps led up the harbour wall, slippery with rubbery, rotting seaweed and when he reached the top, he froze, waiting for the bright flash of a camera. It never came and he smiled. Of course in winter, the harbour lay deserted. It was during the summer months that scores of flip-flops struck across the warm cobbled streets, sticky with dropped Cornish ice cream. But he always preferred winter when the pavements were empty and waves hit the harbour walls in powerful green swells.

He strode across the cobbles. A new shop had been set up in his absence, a neat, modern place with a window display lit up by bright fairy lights and filled with sugar mice. Tomorrow he’d come back to buy Christmas presents, since he brought none with him, but now it was time to go home, time to surprise his family, to explain about Imogen and the cancelled wedding. He stepped back into the full force of the wind, striding along the harbour to the main town. Here the buildings caught the worst of the gusts and he moved faster. 

A few shops were still open, filling the air with the scent of fresh bread and spicy minced pies, making his stomach rumble. A large fir tree dotted with white lights stood in the central town square surrounded by a band who clutched brass instruments and rattled collection buckets, sleet beading on their blue uniforms. Two younger members grinned at him and he smiled back, dropping a few coins into their pot.

“I know you,” the teenager said. “Your photo’s on the hall of the sailing club, you’re Daniel Edwards.”

About Lucy
Lucy Oliver grew up by the sea and particularly loved walking along the harbor in winter, when the streets were deserted and waves crashed against the seawalls. Now living inshore, she likes to return to those memories by writing passionate romances set against the backdrop of the English countryside. Lucy enjoys writing about characters that like all of us, have flaws, mixed in with her trademark touch of spice.

She also writes under the name Lucy Hartbury for higher heat level works, including an exciting and saucy version of Dracula. Join her on Twitter at Writingoliver or check out her blog at

Old Christmas by Kathryn Brocato
Casey blinked and shook her head. “Now I know what’s wrong here. This is a dream. All of you except Granny are dead. I knew there was something weird about this.”

Cynthia tilted one hip forward in imitation of a model’s stance. “You’re the one who believes in all Mom’s nonsense about Old Christmas. And they do say spirits walk on Old Christmas Eve.”
“I’m getting out of here.” Casey felt her hair attempting to lift off her scalp. “Come on, Granny.”
Alice chuckled. “No one here means you any harm, Casey. We all want the same thing–your happiness.”
Casey reached out tentatively to touch Alice. Alice’s skin was warm and solid, not cool and fragile as it had been in the hospital.

Casey swallowed and regarded her grandmother in shock.

Alice smiled. “Don’t try to hold me, Casey. I’m more than ready to go. It’s Old Christmas Eve, you know. I only came to apologize for teaching you to be ashamed of your mother’s actions. I simply didn’t realize how it would affect you.”

Casey squeezed her eyes shut, then opened them again, and forked her hair back to stare wildly around the barn. She couldn’t see two inches in front of her face.

She was alone. 

About Kathryn
Kathryn Brocato writes contemporary romance with a small-town touch. She is a scientist and business owner who lives in Southeast Texas with her husband, dogs, and chickens. Her first published romance was a Kismet Romance, Storm Warning. She also wrote The Cartwright Heritage, writing as Katy King for White Rose Press. Currently, she writes contemporary romance for the Crimson Romance line. Visit Kathryn at