Spotlight on Becky Lower

I am happy to feature Amazon best-selling author Becky Lower and her new release, Expressly Yours, Samantha.

Here’s Becky!

beckylowerAs is the case with most authors, I started writing complicated plot lines as soon as I could pick up a crayon. But there’s a world of difference between being a writer and being an author. The author thing didn’t happen until much later in my life.

For years, I’d entertain my friends with long stories about my complicated, dysfunctional family. While they enjoyed my stories, I was constantly told I should write them down instead of being a vocal storyteller. I ignored their good advice since I was busy with a job and had a rambling old house that kept falling apart.

Then, my life got shook up. The economic downturn happened and my job disappeared. While I scrambled for ways to pay the mortgage on the rambling old house, I saw an ad for an adult learning course offered at a local community college, on How To Write A Romance Novel. Even though it had been years since I’d written anything, I signed up for the class.

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I’d like to say I went right from that class to selling my first manuscript to a major publisher. But reality didn’t match up with my dreams. That first manuscript is still under the bed. Oh, I worked on it, entered it in some contests, took the feedback and rewrote it, even won a contest based on the first three chapters. But it never quite gelled for me. I’ll get back to it some day, since it contains two of my most favorite things–time travel and the early American west.

As I slid the time travel idea under the bed, I asked myself what I really wanted to write. I’m a big fan of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series, but I didn’t want to write books set in England. Then, a friend of mine began to talk about her days as a debutante and her Cotillion Ball, and the lightbulb moment happened. The Cotillion may have begun in Europe, but it did eventually make its way into American high society. A bit of research later, and my Cotillion Ball Series was born. There are nine siblings in this well-to-do New York family, and each one has patiently (or, in Jasmine’s case, not so patiently) waited for their own book to be written. Expressly Yours, Samantha, is the seventh book in this nine-book series, and features the youngest boy in the family, Valerian. He’s a rider for the fabled Pony Express and fate brings him into contact with Sam Hughes, who is really a girl named Samantha, on the run from an abusive uncle.

Obviously, I like to write about American history and use it as a backdrop for my stories. I was fortunate to have the Cotillions begin during an era where there was so much going on in America–tensions were mounting between the North and South over slavery, the West was being opened to settlers willing to face the journey, the Pony Express, and then the Civil War. What an exciting time in America as events, both great and small, impacted the lives of those living through it.

But what an enormous amount of research was needed for each book. So, I began to write contemporaries in between each historical, just for a break from the research. I now have three contemporaries in print and a trilogy under way. All the books so far are about women who reinvent themselves when their first acts were finished. Kind of the story of my life, wouldn’t you say?

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Blurb

Samantha Hughes has one day to escape from her wicked uncle, and a sign in the post office is her answer. She’ll cut her hair to pose as a man and become Sam Hughes, a Pony Express rider.

Valerian Fitzpatrick doesn’t want the weight of responsibility that his brothers have in the family business. Fortunately, the Pony Express offers a chance to make his own way in the world.

He assumes his new buddy, Sam, is on the run from the law, until she’s hit by a stray gunshot and he has to undress her to staunch the wound. Friendship quickly turns to attraction—and more—but when Sam’s uncle tracks her down, she is forced to run yet again.

Val’s determined to find her, but will a future with Sam mean giving up the freedom he’s always craved?

Bio

Amazon best-selling author Becky Lower has traveled the country looking for great settings for her novels. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love, amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it on a covered wagon headed west or in present day small town America. Historical and contemporary romances are her specialty. Becky is a PAN member of RWA and is a member of the Historic and Contemporary RWA chapters. She has a degree in English and Journalism from Bowling Green State University, and lives in an eclectic college town in Ohio with her puppy-mill rescue dog, Mary. She loves to hear from her readers at beckylowerauthor@gmail.com.

Where to find Becky…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads | Pinterest | Amazon

Clean Jokes for Toastmasters

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Use one of these jokes at your next meeting.

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A man and a woman had been married for more than sixty years. During that time, they had shared almost everything; the woman had a shoe box that was off limits to her husband.

For years, he had never thought about the box, but one day the woman got very sick and the doctor said she would not recover. While sorting out their affairs, the man took the shoe box to his wife’s bedside.

She agreed it was time to share the contents of the box. When he opened it, he found two crocheted dolls and a stack of money totaling $95,000. He asked her about the contents.

“When we were to be married,” she said, “my grandmother shared the secret of a happy marriage – never argue. She advised me to keep quiet and crochet a doll whenever I got angry.”

The man fought back tears. Only two precious dolls were in the box. She had only been angry with him twice in all those years of living and loving. He almost burst with happiness.

“Honey,” he said “that explains the dolls, but what about all of this money? Where did it come from?”

“Oh, that?” she said. “That’s the money I made from selling the dolls.”

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Frustrated, a woman asked her doctor for advice. “My husband has a habit of talking in his sleep. Is there anything I can give him to cure this problem?

The doctor replied, “Give him an opportunity to speak when he is awake.”

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An airline company introduced a special package for businessmen: Buy your ticket and get your wife’s ticket free. Pleased with the overwhelming response, the company’s executives sent letters to all the wives, asking for their feedback.

All of the women gave the same response: “What trip?”

Spotlight on Lauren Linwood

I am happy to feature Soul Mate author Lauren Linwood’s inspiring journey and her new release, Ballad Beauty.

Here’s Lauren!

laurenlinwoodI was a writer before I could even write words on a page. As an only child for several years, I learned how to entertain myself with my vivid imagination. I would gather my dolls and stuffed animals around me and create all kinds of stories, which my little friends would act out. That make believe-ing eventually led to being a writer today—though it was a long journey.

In seventh grade, my English teacher assigned us to write a short story. I tamped down my enthusiasm as my classmates grumbled, but I couldn’t wait to get home and start. I wrote a 25-page western. My hero Joshua Wade seemed more real to me than any person I’d ever met. In a twist of fate, many years later I met that same teacher at an RWA chapter meeting. She’d left teaching English and French to pursue her dream and had become a popular Harlequin romance author.

In the years since I’d seen her, I’d also become a teacher. I’d written my first novel in college (where it still rests high upon a shelf in my closet), and my goal was to teach by day and write by night.

Hah!

That seemed impossible. That first year, I should’ve brought a sleeping bag to school and stayed overnight to save commute time. I lived, breathed, and dreamed of school. Between reinventing the wheel, lesson planning, meetings, grading, meetings, parent conferences, training seminars, and meetings? I had very little personal life beyond taking a moment to floss. I should’ve taken a crazy pill because I enrolled in grad school and added classes 2 nights a week on top of my teaching load. All of a sudden, I had papers to write and books to read and projects to do and tests to study for. Frankly, it was hard to find time to even eat! Then I threw into the mix meeting and dating my future husband. Sadly to say, writing went on a back burner for many years as we married, raised a family, and I acquired more and more responsibilities in my job as I sat on numerous committees, wrote curriculum, and attended workshops so I could train others.

But you know what? That burning desire to write never left. To tell my stories. To share the people inside my head. To feed that beast inside me who longed to get out. And I finally did something about it!

I found a couple of like-minded women who needed to fulfill that creative outlet. We formed a critique group, the most valuable step I ever took in learning how to be a writer. It eventually led to pitching to my future editor, Debby Gilbert of Soul Mate Publishing, at a conference. When she asked me to send her the entire manuscript, I could’ve floated from Houston back to Dallas. And then when she offered me a contract, I soared all the way to heaven. That book, Music For My Soul, was the birth of a new chapter in my life. It’s been followed by Outlaw Muse, A Game of Chance, Written in the Cards, A Bit of Heaven on Earth, and today’s release—Ballad Beauty.

I’m actually glad that it took this long to become a published author. The life experience I bring to the table adds to my writing in ways no 20-something could imagine. I’m older, a tad wiser, and can better manage my time to write. So here’s to staying with the dream, no matter how long it takes!

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Blurb

After ten years apart, Boston schoolmarm Jenny McShanahan receives a letter from her beloved father that instructs her to join him in Texas. She has no idea that he’s become Famous Sam McShan, the Robin Hood of the West. She arrives to find Sam already gone, but he left instructions for Jenny to hire a guide and rendezvous with him in Nevada.

Texas Ranger Noah Daniel Webster knows Sam personally because his father, Pistol Pete Webber, was Sam’s longtime partner in crime. When Pete is killed during their last big score, Noah requests the assignment to bring Sam to justice. Going undercover, he volunteers to act as Jenny’s escort across the dangerous prairie, using her to track her outlaw father’s location.

As they journey through rough country, love blossoms—but Noah knows the second he arrests Sam, his betrayal will kill Jenny’s love for him. Should the lawman do his duty as a Ranger, or should he let love rule? The choice Noah makes will change their lives forever.

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Bio

Lauren Linwood became a teacher who wrote on the side to maintain her sanity in a sea of teenage hormones. Her romances use history as a backdrop to place her characters in extraordinary circumstances, where their intense desire and yearning for one another grow into the deep, tender, treasured gift of love.

Lauren, a native Texan, lives in a Dallas suburb with her family. An avid reader, moviegoer, and sports fan, she manages stress by alternating yoga with five mile walks. She is thinking about starting a support group for Pinterest and House Hunters addicts.

Where to find Lauren…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Amazon | Goodreads | About Me

Failure is What Success Looks Like, Before It’s Born

I am happy to feature Soul Mate author Zen DiPietro and her upcoming release Guardians of Terath: Seeking Sorrow.

Here’s Zen!

zendipietroIn any creative process, you have to make a lot of bad things before you can make good things. I got my bad books out of the way right after college. I’m glad of that, because it paved the way for what came later.

It took me several years afterward to get back to writing, but when the idea for Seeking Sorrow came along, it started burrowing into my head with two particular scenes. I wrote the entire book around those two scenes. Not surprisingly, they’re two of my favorite sections of the whole book.

Once I’d resolved to get this story out of my head and into text, it all poured out, and the product was Seeking Sorrow. And then Facing Fortune. And now the not-yet-named Book 3 of the series.

If you have a passion for something, keep at it. If the first few things you make aren’t any good, be glad for them, because you’re that much closer to making something that really makes you proud.

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Excerpt

An earth-like world of high-tech humans faces the reality that their world is not as safe as they thought it was. Five people are thrown together to quietly get to the bottom of an unfathomable mana event that must stay quiet. If the population of Terath becomes aware of the truth, it will spark a civil war. That war would pit the majority of the population against the powerful minority with the ability to harness and manipulate mana. The resulting cataclysm would decimate the population and tear apart the foundation of society.

The five people chosen for this must reconsider everything they thought they knew about mana, even as they learn to trust one another’s abilities. They must embrace everything they never wanted in order to prevent the devastation of their world. One of them will be forever changed. Love will be denied, badassery will be unleashed, and Terath will never be the same.

Even success comes at a price.

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Bio

Zen DiPietro is a lifelong bookworm, a fantasy/sci-fi writer, a dancer, and a mom of two. Also red-haired, left-handed, and a vegetarian geek. Absolutely terrible at conforming. Particular loves include badass heroines, Star Trek, British accents, baba ganoush, and the smell of Band-Aids. Writing reviews, author interviews, and fun stuff at Women of Badassery. Very active on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Where to find Zen…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

Irish Blessings

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May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

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May you have:
A world of wishes at your command.
God and his angels close to hand.
Friends and family their love impart,
and Irish blessings in your heart!

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May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been
the foresight to know where you’re going
and the insight to know when you’re going too far.

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May God grant you always…
A sunbeam to warm you,
A moonbeam to charm you,
A sheltering angel, so nothing can harm you.

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May your troubles be less,
And your blessing be more.
And nothing but happiness,
Come through your door.

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May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun.
And find your shoulder to light on.
To bring you luck, happiness and riches.
Today, tomorrow and beyond.

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HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

When Imagination is Involved…

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Layne Macadam chatting about her multi-act life and recent release, Obsession Down Under.

Here’s Layne!

Layne Macadam PNG (2)Thank you Joanne for having me here today. I really enjoyed writing this piece as it got me thinking, which is always a good thing!

I look back on my life to date and believe there have been many acts so far, and God willing, there will be many more. My writing career started late, I guess, by many standards. Married young and with children now grown, I needed to do something I enjoyed and to feel a sense of worth. Because I love to read, it dawned on me I could write my own stories and make characters and situations turn out exactly how my imagination dictated.

My first book took several years to complete. I enjoyed the research and commitment it took to actually finish a manuscript of that length. I sent it off to various publishers and when a contract popped up in my inbox, it gave me an immense sense of achievement. Also what fascinated me was how the characters took on a life of their own. That was something I never anticipated, how could this happen? But when imagination is involved anything can happen and did!

As my book collection is growing so is my confidence in what I do and in what I am capable of achieving. It is a heady feeling this power I have at my fingertips. Obsession Down Under is the first story that is set in one of my favorite places on earth, a country town called Glen Innes in my home state of New South Wales, Australia, and for that reason it will always be special. The hero, Whip McGregor, has three brothers and a sister, so it is very possible, at some future point, I will write another tale on one of the McGregor’s from Highland Glen!

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Blurb

Aspiring author Jessica Butler-Reid has never done anything exciting in her entire life. The daughter of a Minister and his aging wife, she sees her life heading down the same tedious predictable path has her mom’s, organizing church fetes, bazaars, and bake-offs. But when she innocently posts a help request on an Internet forum for some technical advice with her book, her life is changed forever when Australian cattle rancher, Whip McGregor, answers the call.

Jessica embarks on an adventure of a lifetime, but little does she know her decision to accept his offer of a two-week paid vacation to the land Down Under will, jeopardize more than one life and, have far-reaching consequences neither she nor Whip could have foreseen.

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Bio

Layne lives with her husband, two dogs, and a cat on the mid-eastern coast of New South Wales, Australia. In addition to being an author she has a degree in history and holds down a full-time job.

She has always been an avid reader and voraciously consumes all types of fiction, but she particularly loves a happy ending, so writing romance seemed a natural progression for her. But as she sat at the computer one day — staring at a blank screen — it all seemed rather daunting. Yet once she finally started tapping on the keys, the words kept flowing, and what was meant to be a short story turned into a full-blown novel, Desire Unleashed, the first book in the “Desire” series.

Layne writes contemporary romance, paranormal, and sci-fi. With her passion for travel and a love of history an historical romance is not outside the realms of possibility.

When she’s not writing, you might find her tackling a craft project, walking by the lake, or in the kitchen creating some culinary delights.

Where to find Layne…

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Joanne here!

Layne, thanks for sharing your inspiring journey. Best of luck with Obsession Down Under.