Spotlight on Vicki Batman

I’m happy to welcome award-winning author Vicki Batman. Today, Vicki shares her writing journey and latest release, Sommerville Days.

Here’s Vicki!

*Waving* Hi, everyone! So nice to see you today. Thank you, Joanne, for hostessing me on your blog.

Some writers have always known they wanted to write. Some studied creative writing. But that isn’t my story. I wrote poetry and good papers. Did that qualify me to be a writer?

When #1son was two, Handsome and I went into a used book store where I looked for an author I discovered, Dick Francis. I loved his books, and when Handsome asked me why, I blurted out, “I wish I could write like him.”

But I didn’t. I know I didn’t have the courage to try and was missing the tools to try.

Years later, I traveled with girlfriends for a weekend of fun. On the way home, one suggested playing her version of car games. We groaned but agreed to play. Her first question was, “Pick one. Tom Jones or Englebert Humperdink.” Her next question was, “Write the opening paragraph of a book using the word window.”

I had nothing. I mean nothing, nothing. My friend knew I wanted to write (and I now believe this was her way to push me to try). That day, I admitted I had nothing, and she suggested emailing something later.

Two days later, I sat down at the family computer and wrote. I wrote and wrote for two days. I revised. Finally, I asked her to meet me for lunch, where I handed her a disc (yup, ancient tech). She took it home, read what I’d done, and said, “Keep going.”

So I did. (My friend fully takes credit for the push, too.) I learned how to make my work better and did revision after revision until the story received an award.

I’ve written two romantic comedy mysteries, Temporarily Employed and Temporarily Insane. Temporarily out of Luck is coming soon. I’ve sold about thirty-five short stories and essays. I’ve combined shorts into a collection, one of which is Sommerville Days.

Excerpt

Love blossoms in the small town of Sommerville in these heartwarming tales, filled with fun and forever possibilities.

Raving Beauty: What if the love of your life was in front of you all along?

Store Wars: The competition is heating up when Janie’s old flame returns to town and is running his family’s store. Could following dreams break her heart?

San Diego or Bust: When a young woman plans a romantic getaway with her boyfriend, disaster strikes. Is her Mr. Right the right Mr. Right?

A review: Vicki Batman has a clever endearing way of making each of her characters seem like someone you might know and can relate to in each situation. The stories are witty and warm and keep you rooting for the happily ever after ending.

Amazon | Kindle Unlimited

Bio

Vicki Batman has sold many romantic comedy works to magazines, several publishers, and, most recently, two humorous romantic mysteries. Along the way, she has picked up some awards and bestsellers. Avid Jazzerciser. Handbag lover. Mahjong player. Yoga practitioner. Movie fan. Book devourer. Chocaholic. Best Mom ever. And adores Handsome Hubby. Most days begin with her hands set to the keyboard and thinking, “What if??”

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Author Central | Goodreads | Bookbub | Email


Book Blast: Spring at the Little Duck Pond Cafe

I’m happy to welcome author Rosie Green. Today, Rosie shares Spring at the Little Duck Cafe, Book 1 in the Little Duck Pond Cafe Series.

Blurb

Fleeing from a romance gone wrong, Ellie Farmer arrives in the pretty village of Sunnybrook, hoping for a brand new start that most definitely does not include love!

Following an unscheduled soak in the village duck pond, she meets Sylvia, who runs the Little Duck Pond Cafe. Renting the flat above the cafe seems like the answer to Ellie’s prayers. It’s only for six months, which will give her time to sort out her life, far away from cheating boyfriend Richard.

But is running away from your past ever really the answer?

Clashing with the mysterious and brooding Zak Chamberlain, an author with a bad case of writer’s block, is definitely not what Ellie needs right now. And then there’s Sylvia, who’s clinging so hard to her past, she’s in danger of losing the quaint but run-down cafe altogether.

Can Ellie find the answers she desperately needs in Sunnybrook? And will she be able to help save Sylvia’s Little Duck Pond Cafe from closure?

Excerpt

I have never climbed a tree in my life.

But I suppose there’s a first time for everything.

It’s a gaspingly cold mid-January morning with an ice-blue sky overhead – not exactly the ideal conditions in which to be lurking on the pavement outside a stranger’s house, nervously eyeing up the oak tree in their garden.

Camera gripped in my freezing hands, I stamp my feet and blow out misty breath as I psyche myself up to be bold. I’ve driven sixty miles from Newtown, where I live, to the pretty, chocolate-box village of Sunnybrook in Surrey – with the ultimate goal of climbing this very tree and taking photos of the view from up there.

The tree is almost exactly how I pictured it in my imagination – old and gnarled with broad, evenly-spaced branches. My eye homes in on one branch in particular. It reaches out to the left, a little over six feet from the ground; the perfect place to sit and gaze out over the village green and the duck pond. (As I knew it would be.)

Tears fill my eyes. But I’m smiling, too.

It’s all in a good cause.

Stop dithering and just do it!

When I push it open, the garden gate swings inwards without creaking and the windows remain blank. I drop my bag by the gate and head for the tree.

It’s amazing how fear can give you almost super-human powers. Under normal circumstances, I’d need someone to give me a bunk-up into this tree. But today, with Adrenalin pumping through my system, I manage to swing myself up there with no problems at all . . .

Amazon (US) | Amazon (Canada) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (Australia)

*Readers will be able to read the whole series on Kindle Unlimited.

Author Bio and Links

Rosie has been scribbling stories ever since she was little.

Back then, they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by ‘the baddies’.

Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger at all – unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love.

Spring at the Little Duck Pond Café is the first in Rosie’s brand new series of novellas centred around life in a village café. Each novella is a ‘stand-alone’ read.

Twitter | Amazon

Giveaway

Rosie Green will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Rosie on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.


Inspiration from Disney Villains

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Quotes from these 24 Disney villians–among them Ursula, Thanos, Kylo Ren, and Rumplestiltskin–can teach us many life lessons and help us get through challenging days.



Quotes that resonates with me…

Ursula (All three quotes)

Which quote speaks to you?


Spotlight on The Rebound Effect

I’m happy to welcome author Linda Griffin. Today, Linda shares her latest release, The Rebound Effect.

In the small town of Cougar, struggling single mother and veterinary assistant Teresa Lansing is still bruised from a failed relationship when Frank McAllister sweeps her off her feet.

Frank is a big-city SWAT officer who moved to Cougar only four months ago. He’s handsome, charming, forceful, very sexy, and a bit mysterious. He had his eye on Teresa even before they met and is pushing for a serious relationship right away.

Teresa finds his intense courtship flattering, and the sex is fabulous, but she doesn’t want her deaf six-year-old son to be hurt again. Her former fiancé cheated on her when he got drunk after being unjustly fired, but he loves her and her son, and the whirlwind romance is complicated by his efforts to win Teresa back.
And then there’s the matter of the bodies buried at Big Devil Creek…

“Frank!” she cried, laughing, but a little scared—what if he dropped her? He was strong, but she wasn’t very light. He didn’t drop her—or he did, but deliberately, from about an inch above the cool, clean sheets of his bed. They were both laughing, and he started kissing her randomly, here and there. This can be a lot of fun, she told herself. Enjoy it while it lasts. “Remember when you asked if it was too soon for me to date?” she asked.

“Yeah, and you said it depended on the definition.”

“It turns out it was too soon,” she said, “and now it’s too late.”

Add to Goodreads

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Google * Kobo * Website

I was born and raised in San Diego, California and earned a BA in English from San Diego State University and an MLS from UCLA. I began my career as a reference and collection development librarian in the Art and Music Section of the San Diego Public Library and then transferred to the Literature and Languages Section, where I had the pleasure of managing the Central Library’s Fiction collection and initiating fiction order lists for the entire library system. Although I also enjoy reading biography, memoir, and history, fiction remains my first love. In addition to the three R’s–reading, writing, and research–I enjoy Scrabble, movies, and travel.

My earliest ambition was to be a “book maker” and I wrote my first story, “Judy and the Fairies,” with a plot stolen from a comic book, at the age of six. I broke into print in college with a story in the San Diego State University literary journal, The Phoenix, but most of my magazine publications came after I left the library to spend more time on my writing.

My stories have been published in numerous journals, including Eclectica, The Binnacle, The Nassau Review, Orbis, Thema Literary Journal, and forthcoming in Avalon Literary Review, and and in the anthologies Short Story America, Vol. 2 and The Captive and the Dead. Four stories, including two as yet unpublished, received honorable mention in the Short Story America Prize for Short Fiction contests.

Member of RWA and Authors Guild

Website * Facebook – Author Page * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Pinterest * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Linda Griffin is offering a $25 Amazon gift card in a Rafflecopter giveaway. Find out more here.

Follow Linda on the rest of her Silver Dagger tour here.



Spotlight on M. S. Spencer

I’m happy to welcome multi-published author M. S. Spencer. Today, Meredith shares her writing journey and latest release Orion’s Foot.

Here’s Meredith!

Although I’ve lived and traveled in five continents, I spent thirty years mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, non-profit director, and parent. I hold a BA from Vassar College, a Diploma in Arabic Studies from the American University in Cairo, and Masters in Anthropology and in Library Science from the University of Chicago. Once I escaped academia (for which my mother never forgave me) I worked for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Department of the Interior, in several library systems, both public and academic, and at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia. I now divide my time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine. All this experience has insinuated itself into my books.

Although I’ve been writing all my life (including the novel that sat in a drawer until my husband inadvertently threw it out), my first novel was published in 2009. Since then, I’ve released twelve more romantic suspense or murder mystery novels, with two more on the way. I had my share of rejection slips, but my luck changed when an accessions editor who—even though she rejected the manuscript—gave me invaluable editing advice. I took it to heart and Lost in His Arms was accepted on the next submission. After the requisite shriek of joy, I got down to work. As many authors have discovered, the validation a signed contract brings is all you need to keep writing.

Below is an introduction to my latest book, Orion’s Foot: Myth, Mystery, and Romance in the Amazon.

Monsters and mystery lurk deep in the Amazon—a tale of passion and obsession.

Blurb

Petra Steele is wallowing in self-pity after being dumped at the altar, when her brother Nick invites her to come to the Peruvian Amazon. Before she even sets her suitcase down, she’s confronted with a murder victim. In a research station peopled with a quirky assortment of scientists, she is drawn to Emory Andrews, a gruff, big man with a secret past. That is, until his beautiful ex-wife shows up. More murders, more secrets, more mysteries ensue, all in the deeply romantic, sizzling jungle.

Excerpt: Lure of the Amazon

“I can see why you became a librarian.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You want to put everything into neat categories.”

“And what’s so wrong with that?”

He pulled her to him. “Because I don’t fit in a neat category, and neither do you.”

She grinned but pushed him off. “You’re saying I’m special?”

“Yes. And so is every other creature on the planet.” He kissed her hand. “However, if it will make you happy, I’ll put you in the class Mammalia, order primates, family Hominidae, genus Homo, and species…let’s call it bibliothecarius. And leave you there. Not very romantic, but rational.”

Heaven forbid he should be romantic. She shrugged off the touch of melancholy. “They’re waiting for me.”

He grew serious. “Be very careful. Something out there is unhappy with us.”

“I will.”

The others waited in the boat. “Where have you been?”

“Getting last-minute instructions from Emory.”

Denys’s eyes narrowed. “Like what?”

Petra’s hand went unconsciously to her top button.

She held up Emory’s phone. “And to record any bird sounds we hear.”

Aguirre spat. “The hoatzin are easy—they sound like feral swine.”

Nick tossed the line onto the dock. “I don’t think we need to go by their calls—I hear you can smell ’em a mile away. It’s like passing a dairy farm on a sultry summer afternoon.”

“It’s true. That’s why we call them stinkbirds.” Winston took the tiller, and they headed north. A few miles up, the Pacaya fed into the Amazon proper. As it had the first time Petra came down from Iquitos, the vastness of the channel awed her. The water—though not quite as silty as its tributary—still ran olive brown, giving the impression that the river carried a bit of everything in its currents: plants, animals, diseases and their cures, all the colors of the spectrum. Even the dreams of explorers were lifted and propelled ever deeper into the jungle on the mighty Amazon.

Explorers. That’s where I heard the name Aguirre! Let me see…a movie…that’s right. It was an old movie—black and white—about a Spanish explorer. Aguirre—Wrath of God. A conquistador named Aguirre had gone to Peru with a band of men to search for the lost cities of gold. Instead they dealt with hostile natives, swarms of mosquitoes, and carnivorous caimans. As his followers fell away—dead of fever, poisoned arrows, or predators—he soldiered on, clinging to a raft on the river and hurling invectives at his god.

She looked at the fellow’s namesake. His sharp, black eyes were riveted on the shoreline, his hawk-like nose raised as if waiting to catch the scent of his quarry. His body was taut, and his hands clenched the rail, the knuckles white. He is driven. A true scholar? Or a madman?

Buy Links

Wild Rose Press | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iTunes | KOBO | Google Play | Indigo | Indie-bound | Walmart

My author page at Amazon lists all thirteen novels: http://amzn.to/1fD4jG3

Where to find M. S. Spencer…

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram | LinkedIn | Bookbub


Risking: A Tale of Two Seeds

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

To risk or not to risk. The following story from Patty Hansen may help you make that decision.

Two seeds lay side by side in the fertile spring soil.

The first seed said, “I want to grow! I want to send my roots deep into the soil beneath me, and thrust my sprouts through the earth’s crust above me…I want to unfurl my tender buds like banners to announce the arrival of spring…I want to feel the warmth of the sun on my face and the blessing of the morning dew on my petals!”

And so she grew.

The second seed said, “I’m afraid. If I send my roots into the ground below, I don’t know what I will encounter in the dark. If I push my way through the hard soil above me, I may damage my delicate sprouts…what if I let my buds open and a snail tries to eat them? And if I were to open my blossoms, a small child may pull me from the ground. No, it is much better for me to wait until it is safe.”

And so she waited.

A yard hen scratching around in the early spring ground for food found the waiting seed and promptly ate it.

Moral: Those of us who refuse to risk and grow get swallowed up by life.

Source: Chicken Soup for the Soul, 101 Stories to Open the Heart and Kindle the Spirit, pp. 220-221


10 Authors on my Keeper Shelf

I’m happy to welcome award-winning author Helen Johannes. Today, Helen shares ten of her favorite authors and her latest release, Lord of Druemarwin.

Here’s Helen!

Ten Authors on my Keeper Shelf—in no particular order—and what makes me return again and again to their work…

#1 – Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Breathing Room, First Lady, It Had to Be You, etc. – Complex, fully realized characters whose sometimes wildly inappropriate actions are always properly and expertly motivated and who have a deep and authentic backstory.

#2 – Deborah Crombie, Duncan Kincaid, Gemma James (A Share in Death, Bitter Feast, etc.) series – Careful world-building, engaging characters that have become a family, and seamless interweaving of past and present so that the anatomy of a crime can be traced to the root cause.

#3 – Elizabeth Peters, The Amelia Peabody mysteries – The creation of characters, relationships, and settings sufficient to sustain a thoroughly fascinating series set during the archeological heyday in Egypt.

#4 – Rick Riordan, Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Heroes of Olympus series, Magnus Chase series, etc. – Can’t-put-it-down pacing, humor, wildly imaginative world-building, great characters whose strengths are also their flaws, and—not to be forgotten—terrific chapter titles.

#5 – Jennifer Crusie, Faking It, Welcome to Temptation, Agnes and the Hitman, etc. – Fascinatingly flawed characters who fail at love at first but keep trying—in often hilarious ways—until they get it right.

#6 – Louise Penny, Inspector Gamache/Three Pines series – Amazing ability to lure the reader into a story with apparently ordinary words that nonetheless resonate and make the reader care and care deeply about these characters.

#7 – Janet Evanovich, Stephanie Plum series – Humor, pacing, snappy sentences, an unmistakable voice, and something never fails to explode.

#8 – JRR Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings – Incredible world-building, vast scope, great and memorable characters, and a mind-blowing ability to weave all the threads of an enormous plot together over three epic books.

#9 – Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick – Hook openings, flawed but immediately engaging characters who find a way to confront their demons and heal their wounds, effective dialogue, and fast pace.

#10 – Dick Francis – Spare, tight writing, intense action scenes, moral conundrums realistically handled.

Give me great characters and a strong sense of place, throw in some action, humor, and a mystery to solve or crisis to avert, and I’m likely to pick up your book. And because these elements please me as a reader, I try my best to incorporate them into my own writing. Well, except for the chapter titles; I bow to others’ greatness there.

*************LORD OF DRUEMARWIN*************

PAGES FROM THE HEART Winner in Fantasy Romance

Tag line: In a world of lies and betrayal, can they trust each other?

Blurb

Lady Raell can fight, ride, and argue politics as well as her brothers. Only being mistress of her father’s household keeps her in skirts. In Naed, the new Lord of Druemarwin, she has found devotion, a kindred spirit, and a marriage promise. But when a forgotten and unwanted betrothal comes to light, she has no choice but to run.

Amidst sweeping revolution, Naed must rally his people, fend off assassination attempts, and fight against claims he’s a traitor. Then he discovers everything about his lineage and family is a lie. And his beloved belongs to another.

With lives and a kingdom at stake, Raell and Naed must find a way to protect the innocent and save their love.

Excerpt

“Raell, now is not the time—”

Aye, it wasn’t. They stood in torchlight on an open parapet while assassins stalked them, but this might be her only chance to reach him across that precipice he’d thrown up between them, to secure the future they were meant to share.

“Does my honor mean naught? When weighed with D’nalian honor, is mine lesser because ‘tis a woman’s honor? Or because ‘tis a Tolemak’s honor? Be honest and tell me that.”

The world had gone silent; Raell could hear nothing over the rush of blood in her ears, the terrible heavy beats of her heart while she waited, dizzy with fear, breathless with longing, for the man she loved to respond with a word, a look, even a blink. Even a shift of his gaze she’d take as a sign he’d at least heard, mayhap begun to consider—

“Yes, be honest, Lord Naed,” said a voice she’d heard but once, a voice that raised all the fine hairs on her body and made her innards contract into a cold, tight knot. “Tell us both how much honor means to a bastard who’s betrayed his countrymen and his blood.”

Buy Links

Amazon | Nook

Author Bio

Helen C. Johannes writes award-winning fantasy romance inspired by the fairy tales she grew up reading and the amazing historical places she’s visited in England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany. She writes tales of adventure and romance in fully realized worlds sprung from pure imagination and a lifelong interest in history, culture, and literature. Warriors on horseback, women who refuse to sit idly at home, and passion that cannot be denied or outrun—that’s what readers will find in her books.

Other Books: The Prince of Val-Feyridge | Bloodstone

Where to find Helen…

Blog | Author Central | Goodreads | BookBub | Email