An Inspiring Multi-Act Life!

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Barbara Mountjoy who writes as Alana Lorens. Today, Alana shares her multi-act life and new release, A Rose by Any Other Name

Here’s Alana!

I’d studied English and Journalism in college, because I’d always wanted to write, since I was a kid. My first and second round of job searches hadn’t yielded much, so I didn’t have a job in the field. Life attacked in the form of a husband and two daughters, which put my employment on hold. Motherhood and wifehood was plenty to deal with, especially as my husband was in the service, so we moved a couple of times even in his first hitch.

Given a year into our Homestead, Florida posting, I saw the local paper was hiring a reporter. I snagged that position and for several years, had a blast doing all the stories and columns. I was the religion editor, the schools’ reporter, and put together the special hurricane tabs—on a first name basis with local senators and mayors and even the head of the National Hurricane Center.

One of the small cities I covered was Florida City, the last town right before the Florida Keys. The city attorney and I became close, and he recommended I go to law school. Now, this was never a career path I’d considered before that time—and my husband and I had just divorced, so I was a single mom of two preschoolers. Law school? What a crazy idea.

But it grew on me.

So I started with the entrance exam, the LSAT. I’d take it and see how I did. I did really well.

Well, I’d have to have help going to school. I didn’t have much saved up. But the grants and loans came through.

Then I’d have to have somewhere to live with my girls, and there was only limited housing on campus. But we got it. Right across the highway from the day care center.

Since it all came together, I took the jump. Those three years of school set the stage for a second act career as a family law attorney, which I practiced for 30 fulfilling years before I retired.

And now I’m back to writing full time again. 😊

For those contemplating a change, as so many are at this point in America, I’d hope they’d try to imagine where their potential career might be in five years. With tech and culture changing so quickly, they wouldn’t want to cross train into a field that doesn’t have longevity. But also, don’t stay in a career that doesn’t bring you joy simply for lack of courage. Waiting too late to change jobs might be the saddest choice of all.

Blurb

Up-and-coming mommyblogger and single mom Marisol Herrera Slade returns to her old hometown in western Pennsylvania for her 20th high school reunion in 2005, reluctant and yet compelled to see her high school sweetheart, Russell Asher, who dumped her for the homecoming queen.

Russell’s marriage to the golden girl, however, ended in a nasty divorce, and he has been systematically excluded from his sons’ lives. In his Internet wanderings, he’s found feminist blogger named Jerrika Jones, who glorifies single motherhood, essentially putting a stamp of approval on what’s happened to him. His group of single dad advocates have vowed to take this woman down.

What Russell doesn’t know, when he thinks to rekindle what he had with Marisol, is that Marisol and Jerrika are one and the same. When his group discovers the truth, will their drive for revenge derail any chance the couple have to reunite? Or will they find they have more in common than they ever expected?

Excerpt

Heather Armstrong had books out now, spawned by the popularity of her Dooce blog. The Julie and Julia movie deal started with a simple blog. That Shatner show on TV, “$#*! My Dad Says” came from a Twitter account. If she could get noticed, really noticed, the big time wasn’t so far away in this brave new Internet world.

So. Better to stir the pot, right?

She closed her eyes, summoned up the image of Jerrika at her cheekiest, and started typing. Apparently I stomped on a couple of hearts yesterday when I pointed out the joys of raising my son without having to kowtow to the demands of an irrational non-custodial father. You know what? I’m not sorry, either.

People like FreeDad91 hide in their troll costumes and take pot shots at other people instead of addressing their own issues. Sounds to me like this guy has problems from his past. Either his own father walked out on him, or he walked out on his own kids, and he’s decided the best way to handle his guilt is to dump on the mothers.

Well, honey, this is one mother who’s not going to just sit by and let you. I love my son dearly. He’s been my morning, my evening, and lots of my midnights over the years. Maybe he didn’t have a father by his side during those days and nights. But he never lacked for attention, from men or women. I made sure he had that village he needed, the one it takes to raise a child. Would it have been easier to co-parent? I expect it would have. But that option wasn’t open to me. So take your hatred and turn it back where it really belongs: on yourself.

She added a few more choice stabs, and filed the post for the day.

Book Trailer

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Walmart | Wild Rose Press

Author Bio and Links

Alana Lorens has been a published writer for more than forty years, after working as a pizza maker, a floral designer, a journalist and a family law attorney. Currently a resident of Asheville, North Carolina, the aging hippie loves her time in the smoky blue mountains. She writes romance and suspense as Alana Lorens, and sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal mystery as Lyndi Alexander. One of her novellas, THAT GIRL’S THE ONE I LOVE, is set in the city of Asheville during the old Bele Chere festival. She lives with her daughter on the autism spectrum, who is the youngest of her seven children, and she is ruled by three crotchety old cats, and six kittens of various ages.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram | Amazon Author Page | Bookbub

Blurb Blitz: The Widow Wore Plaid

I’m happy to welcome best-selling author Jenna Jaxon. Today, Jenna shares her latest release, The Widow Wore Plaid.

Blurb

The Battle of Waterloo made them widows, but each has found new happiness. And Jane, Lady John Tarkington, intends to keep her freedom, even if love—and one particular gentleman—are determined to claim her heart . . .

It is a truth rarely acknowledged—at least in public—that a wealthy widow is free to pursue a great many adventures. For two years, Jane has privately enjoyed her independence. Why should she remarry, even when the gentleman proposing is as wonderful as Gareth, Lord Kinellan? She entreats him never to ask her again. But as her Widows’ Club friends—now all joyfully remarried—gather at Castle Kinellan, Jane begins to wonder if stubbornness has led her to make a terrible mistake . . .

Kinellan needs a wife to give him an heir, and he wants that wife to be Jane. They are perfect together in every way, yet she continually refuses him. Just as he is on the point of convincing her, a series of accidents befall Gareth and point to an enemy in their midst. He has promised Jane a passionate future filled with devotion, but can he keep them both alive long enough to secure it?

Excerpt

Throwing up his hands, he groaned and sagged against the wall, his banyan sliding half off him. “Have your way with me, woman. I surrender myself into your hands. Do with me what you will and I swear I will enjoy it.”

Panting, she stepped back from him, seeing the sculpted muscular form, strong arms, and dark eyes glazed with smoldering desire as if for the first time. This man wanted her, or had wanted her to be his wife for a long time. No one would ever make her feel this way again, no matter how many lovers she might take. She could look for the rest of her life and not find a man as kind or generous or loving as he. And she had all but thrown his love away with both hands. The revelation devastated her and she hung her head.

“Jane?” Kinellan straightened, peering into her face.

Sobbing, she threw her arms around him, laying her head on his broad chest, the only place she wanted it to be. Tears pricked her eyes. The fast beat of his heart beneath her ear should have given comfort, but did not, for her own heart was tearing asunder. The trickle of tears became a flood.

“Darling.” He slipped his arms around her, cradling her close. “What is wrong?”

“I…I don’t want to leave.”

“Sweetheart.” He cupped her chin and turned her face up to his. A thundery frown marred his brow. “Who has asked you to leave? Was it Aunt Prudence? Fiona?”

“N…no.” Jane sniffed, trying to blink back the tears and regain her composure.

“Someone else?” His frown grew darker.

She nodded. “You.”

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple | Google Play

Print copies are available at:

Amazon, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop.org, Hudson Booksellers, Indiebound, Target, Walmart

Author Bio and Links

Jenna Jaxon is a best-selling author of historical romance, writing in a variety of time periods because she believes that passion is timeless. She has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager. A romantic herself, Jenna has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise. She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories.

She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets–including two vocal cats, one almost silent cat, two curious bunnies, and a Shar-pei beagle mix named Frenchie.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Giveaway

Jenna Jaxon will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

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

Virtual Book Tour: 52 Weeks of Writing

I’m happy to welcome writer and coach Mariëlle S. Smith. Today, Mariëlle shares her affirmations and latest release, 52 Weeks of Writing.

10 Affirmations to Live Your Best Creative Life

As a writing coach, I come across so many limiting beliefs about writing and being a creative person. Below, you’ll find ten affirmations that will help you live your best creative life. Most of these affirmations can also be found in my Seven Simple Spreads series, in which I combine creativity, cartomancy (the reading of cards, such as those of the tarot or oracle cards), and chakra philosophy.

1. I honour my creativity

2. It’s safe for me to create

3. I deserve the joy and pleasure of living a creative life

4. I can create whatever I want to

5. I love everything about my creative self

6. I enjoy all parts of my creative journey

7. I walk my creative path with an open heart

8. I acknowledge and celebrate all of my creative wins

9. I trust my creative purpose

10. I easily turn my creative dreams into plans

Blurb

‘A brilliant, supportive, challenging workbook, highly recommend.’ Jamie Sands

You, too, can become the writer you’ve always wanted to be!

The 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner:

• makes you plan, track, reflect on, and improve your progress and goals for an entire year long;

• invites you to dig deep through thought-provoking prompts and exercises; and

• helps you unravel the truth about why you aren’t where you want to be.

Two years after publishing the first volume of 52 Weeks of Writing, writing coach and writer Mariëlle S. Smith brings you the updated third volume. Similar in style but reflecting the tweaks made to her coaching practice during the pandemic, 52 Weeks of Writing Vol. III is even better equipped to help you get out of your own way and on to the path towards success.

Ready to start living your writing dream? Order your copy now.

Excerpt

WRITING PROMPT

Each writing prompt is optional. If, for whatever reason, it does not speak to you, let it be. Who knows? It might make more sense to do the prompt later in the process.

Most writers are introverts and dread the visibility that comes with success. This might not be you, but to some of us this fear is what stops us from finishing our work. Because what if people read it and want to talk to us about it? What if we’re forced to leave the privacy of our desks and go out into the world, into the spotlight, with nowhere to hide?

If this resonates with you, know you’re not alone. Grab your journal or open a new document on your computer and set your timer to ten minutes. Now list all the good that could come with success.

If this is a fear you recognise all too well, keep this list close once you’ve finished it.

Purchase Links

Amazon | All Purchase Links

From the start, I knew 52 Weeks of Writing would be very different from the other craft books gracing my bookshelves. Reading about the author’s creative journey in the Introduction motivated me to implement a daily journaling habit focusing exclusively on writing. Everything from the themed quotes at the beginning of each week to the thought-provoking questions to the tracking sheets bears the imprint of a seasoned author and coach. While completing the exercises, I could easily imagine Ms. Smith at my side, encouraging me to dig deep and reveal my innermost thoughts.

Highly recommended!

Author Bio and Links

Mariëlle S. Smith is a writer, writing coach, and editor. She lives in Cyprus, where she organises private writer’s retreats, is inspired 24/7, and feeds more stray cats than she can count.

Website | Facebook | Blog | Goodreads | Instagram | YouTube

Giveaway

Mariëlle S. Smith will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

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

Blurb Blitz: Stop the Clock

I’m happy to welcome author Cassie Swindon. Today, Cassie shares her new release, Stop the Clock.

Blurb

Stop the Clock is the finale in the Golden Chains trilogy.

Raelyn Bell has already experienced death and loss. Her family is falling apart at the seams. Despite her fears that Zohaib will hurt the few people she has left, Raelyn is still determined to prove him guilty. But this villain’s hunger for more power threatens to rip her and Kody apart.

To save Raelyn from being captured, Kody Walsh makes a deal with the devil and is dragged across the border to the middle of a rainforest by Zohaib’s hostile force. Commanded to complete unimaginable tasks for the sake of the enemy, Kody’s stakes couldn’t be higher.

Raelyn desperately seeks for any way to rescue Kody and has to decide if she can trust her mother for help after all they have been through. Can they see this journey through without losing their lives—and each other?

Excerpt

Raelyn lit another candle. The flicker added a layer to the dancing light coming from the fireplace. Seducing Zohaib with an email of this gorgeous model might be the only way to plant a virus and access his files. Raelyn refused to let that scumbag capture or sell one more woman.

She turned too fast, sending her new Canon camera flying. The naked woman beside her reached out and grabbed the stand before the tripod toppled to the cabin’s floor.

“Woops, sorry.” Raelyn shook her head.

“It’s fine. I got it.” The model followed Raelyn’s gaze. “Why do you keep glancing at the clock?”

“No reason.” Raelyn handed over an elaborate Venetian mask.

“I need you to wear this over your face.”

The model smiled. “We’re playing dress-up?”

“The man we’re doing this for is Italian, and he likes mystery and games.”

The woman clicked her tongue and fastened the mask on, covering most of her face. “Whatever you say…” She took the sheet of paper and angled it closer to the fire. “So, this is the script? … I’m all yours, Zohaib. Where and when can we meet?” She crunched the paper into a ball. “This is crap. I have a better idea.”

“You’ve done this before?” Raelyn asked.

“Manipulated a man? Of course. You haven’t?”

“That won’t happen. I won’t let Zohaib near Raelyn.”

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon CA| Amazon UK | Amazon AU

Author Bio and Links

Instead of the boring bio info, here’s some interesting tidbits about the author:
• Tackled her father for a pair of Michael Phelps’ personal goggles
• Cried when the Cubs won the World Series
• Met husband freshman year of college- a blizzard & tequila may have been involved
• Moved cross-country by the flip of a coin
• Mutated into a zombie when daughter was born in 2013, then again 17 months later when her son was born
• Evacuated from a boat crash in the Atlantic during a whale watching tour
• Witnessed a wild horse pack galloping through the Rockies
• Cofounded a three-person Beanie Baby Club in the 90s- in a treehouse
• Snorkeled in The Great Barrier Reef
• Broke her foot when pretending to be a Baywatch lifeguard
• Stranded in a Cancun lagoon while jet skiing
• Crunched the back of a Dodge Neon against a wall while transporting a Medieval knight to a pub
• Invented a symbol language to pass notes to her best friend in high school
• Swung off a rope swing of pirate ship in Aruba
• Backpacked through Italy
• Stole plaques showing what swim records she broke

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Giveaway

Cassie Swindon will be awarding a $10 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

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

Virtual Book Tour: Just A Girl in the Whirl

I’m happy to welcome actress and writer Annie Wood. Today, Annie chats about her writing process and shares her recent release, Just a Girl in the Whirl.

Interview

What process do you use? Are you more of a plotter or pantser?

I get an idea and write it down. Then I spend time thinking about the main character and what they want and what they need. I think about the setting and time period and I start thinking about what themes I want to explore. I write out a beat sheet, just one sentence blurbs that serve as my outline. Then I usually write a play or screenplay and then the novel version.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

There are pieces of me in almost all the characters and also family members and people I’ve met and imagined throughout my life.

Describe your writing space.

I have a small home office that I love. I recently decorated it with wood furniture and bookshelves and I painted the walls blue and orange. I have a few 1920s styled lamps and another small lamp with the word APPLAUSE on it. It’s lit up every day to encourage me.

What is your favorite quotation?

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others”
― Martha Graham

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

That I would be able to create an invisible bubble of protection around everyone I love. Self included.

Blurb

A 17 year old girl is overwhelmed with responsibilities trying to keep her messy family together. Everything spins out of control when her addict actor dad who bailed on the family three years ago leaving her with her lovable but bi-polar mom and her two little sisters, comes back into town and wants to reconnect.

Writing poems is her only escape. Just a girl in the is about family, forgiveness, and having enough courage to live your own life, your own way.

Excerpt

In the past 747 days I’ve made 747th breakfasts for my family. I barely have to think about what I’m doing anymore the eggs just poach themselves. Doing the same thing, day in and day out, gives my life the feeling of being stuck in slo-mo. In fact, I’m moving so freakin’ slowly I may as well be standing still. It’s like I managed to step into a vat of cement while everyone around me is coasting along on one of those people movers they have at the airports. Also, my particular vat of cement happens to be on a carousel, going around and around and around. So, sure, there’s movement, only I’m not getting anywhere.

“Damn it.” I bend down to pick up yet another broken glass. My bad. As usual. When my mind wanders, it takes my coordination with it.

“Lauren. Don’t say damn.” my kid sis reprimands.

“You’re right, Sara. Sorry. Finish your scrambled eggs, okay?”

“Okay.”

“Ouch.” I cut my pinkie on a sliver of broken glass.

“We’re out of Band-Aids,” Matty informs. “You should get more.”

“Gee, thanks, sis. Don’t bother getting up.”

“I won’t,” she tells me as she continues scarfing down the food I made her.

Yep, this is my brood. Not on purpose, though. I mean, I didn’t plan this brood or birth this brood, it just sort of turned out that they’re now, mostly mine.

My eighteenth birthday is in 99.3105497 days away and then I’ll be free.

Author Bio and Links

Annie Wood is an Israeli-American, Hollywood native, and a lifelong actress and writer. The web series she created, wrote and stars in, Karma’s a Bitch, was Best of the Web on Virgin America (anniewood.com/Karma)

Wood was part of the NBC DIVERSITY SHOWCASE with her comedic scene, That’s How They Get You. She’s written 100s of scenes for actors that have been used by Emmy Award-winning TV director, Mary Lou Belli in her UCLA course and casting director, Jeremey Gordon in workshops all around town.

As an author, she has three books out: Dandy Day, Just a Theory: a quantum love adventure and her first YA novel, Just a Girl in the Whirl (Speaking Volumes Publishing)

Annie’s also an Internationally exhibited mixed-media artist, a produced playwright, and was the third female solo dating game show host in the history of television with the nationally syndicated show, BZZZ! that she also co-produced. (Which just re-ran in 2020 on BUZZRTV!)

Annie writes and creates art daily.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Art | Shop | Email

She also runs the Twitter account for the Women of the Writers Guild West. Follow us here —> @WoWGAW

She is part of the Middle Eastern Committee at WGA, a Dramatist Guild Member and an Authors Guild Member.

Get the book!

https://amzn.to/3xL4hMI

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Soul Touching Work Of Art!

“This book made me tear up multiple times, as I felt a real connection with the characters and their struggles. I recommend it for all ages.”

Giveaway

Annie Wood will be awarding a $40 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Annie on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here

Book Blast: Mafiosa Princess

I’m happy to welcome multi-published author Liza Malloy. Today, Liza shares her new release, Mafiosa Princess.

Blurb

Two men love her. But only one truly knows her.

College Junior Giada Conti wants nothing more than to pursue a normal life fueled by her own choices. Unfortunately, she doesn’t realize her father’s business isn’t completely lawful, or how that fact will completely dictate her future.

Pre-law student Adrian Patras is certain Giada is the perfect woman for him, until he meets her family and grasps the extent of his girlfriend’s naivete.

As Adrian finds himself unwillingly pulled into the family business, Giada grows frustrated with his insinuations about her father. Meanwhile, Giada’s ex, the notorious Luca Marino, pops back into her life with his own criminal agenda that includes winning her back.

Mafiosa Princess is the captivating first book in the steamy mafia romance series that you won’t want to put down.

Excerpt

I shielded my eyes from the sun peeking in above my calypso blue sunglasses and gazed over at Luca. He was pacing back and forth ten or so yards away, clutching his phone tightly by his ear.

I tried to view him the way the other girls must. It wasn’t hard to see the appeal. He was indisputably good-looking, the quintessential Italian man. Lean muscle comprised his tall frame, long black eyelashes framed his rich chocolate eyes, and his dark brownish-black hair was soft and just long enough to run my fingers through. He carried himself with confidence, and everything about him oozed wealth and power.

I thought about what Luca said, how he’d admitted that losing me was a mistake. Had he actually meant that, or was he just trying to cheer me up? I wasn’t oblivious to the way he flirted with me, or the way he unapologetically checked me out whenever he wanted. But that didn’t necessarily signal anything except for a deep-seated sense of entitlement on his part.

Years ago, I was more susceptible to Luca’s charms. Even at sixteen, he radiated control and dominance. The attention he bestowed on me in high school instantly ratcheted up my popularity and made me more sought after by all of the guys, but thanks to Luca’s smooth lines and ceaseless flattering, I had eyes only for him.

During the time we’d been a couple, my self-esteem had been at an all-time high. If the coveted Luca Marino loved me, I had to be beautiful, smart, and funny. He wouldn’t have wasted his attentions on someone unworthy. Besides, he could’ve had any girl at our school. Yet, he chose me.

Now, years later, my heart still fluttered at the possibility that Luca still wanted me. It was flattering, and it was precisely the ego-boost I needed after watching Adrian leave me for Chicago. But could it be more than that?

Author Bio and Links

Liza Malloy writes contemporary romance, women’s fiction, new adult romance, and fantasy. She’s a sucker for alpha males, bad boys, dimples, and muscles, and she can’t resist a man in uniform. Liza loves creating worlds where her heroine discovers her own strength and finds her Happily Ever After. When Liza isn’t reading or writing torrid love stories, she’s a practicing attorney. Her other passions include gummy bears, jelly beans, and the occasional marathon. She lives in the Midwest with her four daughters and her own Prince Charming. Her books are available in both paperback and ebook, and can be found on Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, and more!

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon |
Buy Link

Join her email list for access to exclusive bonus content at http://bit.ly/34FrD71

Giveaway

Liza Malloy will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

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

Spotlight on Margot Johnson

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Margot Johnson. Today, Margot shares her creative journey and new release, Let It Snowball.

Here’s Margot!

A little about my writing journey…

I write feel-good stories about women who chase their dreams and bump into romance along the way. They live in small communities near my home in the Canadian prairies, and they count on an eclectic mix of family and friends to make their lives interesting and fun.

My mom recently found my first book—written with illustrations in grade two—so I really have wanted to be an author all my life!

Years ago, I focused on magazine writing and had a couple of articles published in Chatelaine, a national women’s magazine in Canada. Then when my children were young, I got very interested in picture books and came close to having one or two published.

For a long time, I set aside my writing and focused on family activities and my career. Some people found it strange, but at work, I liked writing so much I didn’t even mind writing routine reports and briefing notes.

Dipping my toe back into creative writing, I collaborated with my sister Donna Gartshore on a novel. We alternated chapters and wrote without a detailed outline, so we had fun surprising each other. That novel didn’t go anywhere, but my dream of having a book published kept simmering.

Donna now writes for Harlequin Love Inspired, and she inspired me to get serious about writing a novel. While I still worked full-time, I set the alarm for 5:30 and wrote for 1-1.5 hours before work. I then wrote in the evening until I reached my daily target of 1,000 words.

All that effort paid off when The Wild Rose Press offered me a contract for my first sweet romance Love Takes Flight. My new release for Christmas is my third book, and a followup novella is in editing for release in early 2022.

About Let it Snowball

Tagline: Christmas tours brim with lights, cookies, and…unexpected romance?

My new release is available as an eBook on Amazon and major online bookstores. I hope you agree it’s a fun way to celebrate the Christmas season!

In my story, the heroine, Merilee, shares her famous cookie recipe for chocolate snowballs – see below. Maybe you’ll want to add it to your Christmas baking list.

Blurb

Divorced, empty nester Merilee is on a roll. Filled with scrumptious cookies and old-fashioned fun, her Christmas bus tours aim to add festive spirit to her hometown and new meaning to her lackluster life. Too bad her reserved driver slams the brakes on fun.

Widowed farmer Ross needs a little joy to combat his December blues. Behind the wheel, he wears a Santa suit but can’t muster a convincing ho-ho-ho. Too many memories block his road to happiness…until irrepressible Merilee sparks a snowstorm of unexpected feelings.

In two weeks of holiday tours, Ross might drive Merilee crazy…or will romance snowball inside their lonely hearts?

Excerpt

After a short drive, the busload arrived at their first stop. “You’re in for a treat.” Merilee leapt up, leaned over, and gave directions on where to park. Absorbing Ross’s delicious scent, clean like snow infused with a trace of peppermint, she jerked back and steadied her breath. Sudden, shocking warmth flooded her insides. Now where was she? She paused to gather her wayward thoughts.

“These rules apply for each stop so we can all enjoy the goodies inside and still keep the tour on schedule. You are free to choose from several platters of cookies. If you would like to sample other kinds or take some home, you can purchase as many as you’d like. We’ll stay for thirty minutes, and then I’ll jingle.” She demonstrated with a string of bells. “Last one back on the bus has to tell a joke or lead a song. If you agree, shout snowball.”

“Snowball.” In a chorus of voices, the group hollered back the right answer.

She lowered the mic. “What about you, Santa?”

He shifted the gear into Park. “Nobody’s going anywhere without me.” He straightened his hat and quirked a fluffy eyebrow.

She smiled, folded her arms, and tapped a foot. Her boots were pretty eye-catching covered in green and red toppers with bells on the toes. Maybe she could cajole him into some good-natured joking. “Santa, you know what happens to kids who don’t behave. You don’t want to end up on the Naughty List, do you?”

“Snowball.” He kept a straight face.

Buy Links

Let it Snowball | Love Takes Flight | Love Leads the Way

A Review from New York Times Bestselling Author Mary Balogh:

“I loved LET IT SNOWBALL. From the first page I wanted to book a place on Merilee’s nightly Season’s Eatings Christmas tour bus with its three stops at cookie shops to sample and buy. On the last page I wanted to book ahead for the Valentine’s tour! Margot Johnson has a way of making a festive atmosphere seem very real. Combine that with a warm and gentle love story that feels truly authentic, and you have a winner of a story.”

My writing tip: Don’t wait for the perfect idea or ideal moment. Just sit at your keyboard and write!

Inspiration for this story: I live in a place where winter storms and frigid weather are common. I also love Christmas.

Last year during lockdown, my husband and I couldn’t visit friends and family in person, so we delivered Christmas light necklaces to their doors and then connected online. We also bundled up for a walk on a minus forty degree day. I can imagine my characters Merilee and Ross sharing similar adventures.

One wish: I love hearing feedback from readers. I wish everyone who reads Let it Snowball would post a review.

Merilee’s Famous Chocolate Snowballs

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup 2% or whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Icing sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Add egg, milk, and vanilla and mix well.
4. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
5. Gradually add to creamed mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
6. Shape into 1 inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets and bake until tops crackle (7-8 minutes).
7. Remove to wire racks and cool. Roll in icing sugar.

Enjoy!

Bio and Links

Margot Johnson grew up in a family of writers and has always loved books and writing. She is the author of two, sweet romance novels—Love Takes Flightand Love Leads the Way and the Christmas novella Let it Snowball. Her characters can’t possibly find their happy endings…or can they?

Before turning her focus to the fun writing life, Margot held leadership roles in human resources and communications. Her motto is “Dream big and work hard.” When not writing, she loves to connect with family and friends, volunteer with SK Writers Guild, and walk at least 10,000 steps a day (except when it’s minus 40!)

She lives in the Canadian prairies with her amazing husband and beloved golden retriever.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

My 10 Most Embarrassing Moments, in No Particular Order

I’m happy to welcome back Wild Rose Press author Kimberly Baer. Today, Kimberly shares ten embarrassing moments and her new release, Snowdrop Dream, Cherry Thumbprint Screams.

I’ve lived long enough that I’ve had plenty of opportunities to embarrass myself. Here are ten such instances—though I can assure you, there are lots more where these came from. (Maybe if I get these off my chest, they’ll cease to turn my face red when I think back on them.)

1. All those times I responded to somebody who was waving at/smiling at/talking to me, only to realize they were actually waving at/smiling at/talking to somebody else.

2. During a beach trip with friends, I was frolicking in the ocean when a particularly forceful wave hit me. When I emerged, my friends started shrieking with laughter. That wave had undone my bikini top, and it was wrapped around my neck! Several nearby strangers got an unexpected show.

3. I used to work at an insurance claims office. Ken, one of our agents, would often speak in goofy voices when he called. One day I answered the phone, and a strange, slurred voice said, “Zis ze surance company?” Figuring Ken was up to his usual shenanigans, I said, “You are so weird!” There was a stunned silence, during which I realized the caller wasn’t Ken after all. It was a customer! I was so mortified, I put the guy on hold and made one of my coworkers take the call.

4. During a luncheon at my workplace, I was trying to cut my chicken breast with the flimsy plastic utensils we’d been given. The knife slipped and the chicken went flying—straight onto the plate of the lady sitting next to me. Silence prevailed for a long moment as everyone at our table stared at the errant chicken breast. Sheepishly, I stabbed it with my plastic fork and took it back, mumbling apologies.

5. When a friend and I were eighteen, we left our respective churches and started going to a new church together. Week after week, for unknown reasons, we would start giggling—silently, but with enough force to shake the whole pew—during the quietest part of the service. Despite the dirty looks we got, we just couldn’t stop.

6. When I was about fifteen, I thought the word vagina was pronounced “va-jeena.” (I mean, it has the name “Gina” in it, right?) I even got my friends saying it that way. I was pretty embarrassed when somebody finally set me straight.

7. I fell onstage while performing in a high school play. I was supposed to walk offstage, trailed by another character. But because of a mix-up, we weren’t standing in our assigned spots, and in an unprecedented ad lib, she grabbed me by the wrist and yanked me forward. My feet got tangled in my long gown, and down I went. Can you imagine being sixteen and taking a graceless tumble in front of an audience of hundreds? I would rather have fallen through the stage than on it.

8. Then there was the time I… Wait, no; that one is just too embarrassing to write about! Sorry!

9. As I was leaving a big-box store with two gallons of custom-mixed paint, one of the containers slipped out of my hand. When it hit the floor, the lid flew off, and a whole gallon of pink paint spilled across the floor, splattering the legs of nearby shoppers. If you were in the store that day and heard, “Cleanup at the main entrance!”—that was me.

10. At age fourteen, I had a major crush on seventeen-year-old Mike. One night my best friend and I went to his house and told his mom a crazy, made-up story: a strange man had tried to lure us into his car. She called Mike to come drive us home—which (bwa-ha-ha!) had been my plan all along. Years later, I ran into Mike, and we started dating. I confessed that I’d had a crush on him in high school and had made up the attempted-kidnapping story because I wanted to see him. Turned out he already knew and always had. I was mortified—not for my current self, who, after all, had gotten the guy of her dreams in the end, but for fourteen-year-old me, who, OMG, would have died, just died, if she’d known Mike knew she was into him. (Side note: The teenage crush depicted via flashbacks in Snowdrop Dreams, Cherry Thumbprint Screams is based heavily on my real-life crush on Mike. I’ve even included the fake kidnapping incident.)

Blurb

When Annie Barkley discovers a boy living in the attic of her cookie shop, she’s stunned—and oddly elated. She can almost believe the universe is giving her back the infant son she lost eleven years ago.

Annie senses that something bad happened to the boy, but he won’t talk. All she knows is that he’s terrified of being found. When her long-ago crush, police captain Sam Stern, stops by to inquire about a missing boy, Annie says she hasn’t seen him.

Big mistake. Because that lie might cost her more than a romance with Sam. It also leaves her vulnerable to a ruthless pursuer, one who’s determined to silence the boy for good.

Excerpt

The days passed in a blur of bliss and apprehension. Annie rushed home from work each day, half afraid the boy wouldn’t be there. But he always was. One afternoon he surprised her by making a lettuce and tomato salad to go with dinner. Another day he ran the vacuum. In the evenings the two of them watched sitcoms or played video games.

Before she knew it, a whole week had gone by. Then another. She still hadn’t contacted the authorities. She’d expected the boy to be talking by now, but he was clinging to silence, resolute as a monk.

Cookie Heaven was closed on Thanksgiving. Annie declined several dinner invitations, including Jessica’s. She made an elaborate turkey dinner, knowing there’d be far too many leftovers. In the end, there wasn’t as much as she’d expected, because Jonah ate like a pig.

She was cheered to see him eating so heartily. Relieved that he was starting to fill out. Proud that she was giving him the things he needed—nourishment, love, a warm bed in a safe, comfortable home.

At the same time, she was aware of all the things she wasn’t providing. Like education. Jonah should have been in school. He needed friends to hang out with. He should have been playing sports, getting exercise. He was living a stunted life—but there was no way around that right now.

She took the day after Thanksgiving off. After lunch, while the aging dishwasher rumbled and gushed and clattered, she and Jonah adjourned to the living room to play a video game. When Jonah made a mistake that cost him a life, he let out a wail of anguish.

“Ah,” said Annie. “So you do have vocal cords.”

Jonah shot her a look that said he got sarcasm and didn’t appreciate it.
A sound from outside startled them—the crunch of tires on gravel. “Who on Earth could that be?” said Annie.

Jonah’s game controller clattered to the coffee table. He slunk across the living room, as if sneaking up on somebody. As he approached the picture window, he halted. And then a rich, young voice rippled across the living room.

“It’s the police, Annie! The police are here. Help me, please!”

Outside, a car door slammed. Jonah whirled toward her, his face as stricken as it had been the night she’d caught him in the cookie shop. “Don’t tell them about me—please! Cause if you do, they’ll put me in jail!”

Pre-order here

Social media links

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Blurb Blitz: Promising Love

I’m happy to welcome author Sarah Ohlin. Today, Sara shares her new release, Promising Love.

Blurb

When a glamorous spa owner seduces the grumpy neighborhood bartender, passion smolders…

Ruby Naylor, confident, successful proprietor of Spa La La, has been crushing on Lachlan MacGregory for ages and finally throws herself at the grumpy bartender as he’s helping her tipsy butt home to her apartment above his pub.

Ruby is the only woman Lachlan has ever loved—from afar. When she makes a pass, he finally admits he’s wanted her for a long time. He leaves her that night with three promises—a kiss, a special connection between them and an epic tomorrow.

Unfortunately, when tomorrow arrives and Lachlan is smacked with the knowledge that she’s already in a relationship with two men, he feels he has nothing to offer her.

His day gets worse when his addict father is on his doorstep again, demanding money. The thought that he could end up sick and miserable like his father eats at Lachlan, making him focus on what has never let him down, his successful pub in the burgeoning Corvallis neighborhood.

Learning that Ruby is not taken, Lachlan finally goes all out to win her back. With his heartfelt apology, it’s easy for Ruby to forgive him—she believes in joy, in romance, in happy ever after. What she never expected was how vulnerable Lachlan could make her feel.

Can their love withstand life-shattering events to lead them into a beautiful future?

Excerpt

“Beautiful, I want that.” His voice was rough with need and it gave her a shiver to know she did that to him. “But not on Detective Naylor’s couch.”

Stunned for only a second at the last words she expected to come out of his mouth, Ruby burst out laughing. She couldn’t help it. Lachlan rocked them together.

“Love that sound.”

“Oh my goodness, are we sixteen just waiting to get caught?”

“You think this is funny?”

“Uhm, hilarious. I’ve been waiting a lifetime for you to kiss me and do all the other amazing things. And we’re adults, but we’re getting blocked by my dad who isn’t even here.” The laughter poured out of her. Her energy needed an outlet and apparently it wasn’t going to happen how she imagined it right this minute.

“A lifetime, huh?” Lachlan’s deep, soft voice was a stroke against her skin.

“Yeah,” she whispered.

“I’ve been waiting too.” He brushed his fingers through her hair, following their path with his eyes. Pensive eyes. Tired eyes. Ruby noticed the little details. “I can keep waiting.”

“Me too,” she said, resigned but still in a happy place, lost in him.

“Waiting sucks,” he said. And his pout was so darn cute.

“Yeah.” Ruby chuckled again. “But this sure is nice.”

“Mmm. Maybe you could do that thing to my head again with your hands. Felt damn good.”

Her smile was automatic. It felt amazing taking care of this man. Ruby ran her hands through his hair and kneaded his scalp with her fingers, stroking once in a while with her nails. Soothing, deepening, then soothing again. It was only a few minutes before his breathing changed and his weight settled. Her hottie was asleep. Oh, you precious man.

“Best kiss ever,” she whispered as he slept beside her.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Totally Bound | Kobo | GooglePlay

Author Bio and Links

Puget Sound based writer, Sara Ohlin is a mom, wannabe photographer, obsessive reader, ridiculous foodie, and the author of the contemporary romance novels, Handling the Rancher, Salvaging Love, Seducing the Dragonfly, Igniting Love, Flirting with Forever and Promising Love.

She has over sixteen years of creative non-fiction and memoir writing experience, and you can find her essays at Anderbo.com, Feminine Collective, Mothers Always Write, Her View from Home, Under the Gum Tree, and in anthologies such as Are We Feeling Better Yet? Women Speak about Healthcare in America, Take Care: Tales, Tips, & Love from Women Caregivers, and Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Although she’s the author of many essays about life, grief, motherhood and the connections we make through delicious food and shared meals, Sara loves creating imaginary worlds with tight-knit communities in her romance novels. She credits her mother, Mary, Nora Roberts and Rosamunde Pilcher for her love of romance.

If she’s not reading or writing, you will most likely find her in the kitchen creating scrumptious meals with her two kids and amazing husband, or perhaps cooking up her next love story. She once met a person who both “didn’t read books” and wasn’t “that into food” and it nearly broke her heart.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | BookBub | Goodreads

Giveaway

Sara Ohlin will be awarding a $30 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

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

Book Blast: Spell Sweeper

I’m happy to welcome author Lee Edward Födi. Today, Lee shares his latest release, Spell Sweeper.

Blurb

There’s nothing magical about wizard school
. . . at least, not for Cara Moone.

Most wizard kids spend their days practicing spells and wielding wands, but Cara? She’s on the fast track to becoming a MOP (a.k.a. Magical Occurrence Purger). You see, when a real wizard casts a spell, it leaves behind a residue called spell dust—which, if not disposed of properly, can cause absolute chaos in the nonmagical world. It’s a MOP’s job to clean up the mess.

And no one makes more of a mess than Harlee Wu. Believed to be the Chosen One, destined to save the magical world, Harlee makes magic look easy. Which makes her Cara’s sworn nemesis. Or she would be, if she even knew Cara existed.

Then one of Harlee’s spells leaves something downright dangerous behind it: a rift in the fabric of magic itself. And when more rifts start to appear around the school, all in places Harlee has recently used magic, Cara is pretty sure the so-called “Chosen One” isn’t going to save the world. She’s going to destroy it.

It will take more than magic to clean up a mess this big. Fortunately, messes are kind of Cara’s thing.

Excerpt

* * *
There’s nothing magical about a broom
* * *

It’s one of my earliest memories, vivid as a full moon. I’m only four or five, and Su is walking me to school like any good big sister. We stop at the crosswalk and I see an old woman sweeping the pavement, just a few feet away. She wears a frayed sweater, grimy jeans, and maybe a secondhand pair of sneakers. Her broom is wisps of straw, the handle fashioned from a twisted stick of wood. Everything about her is ordinary. Mundane. But as I watch her, the morning sun catches her just right, and for an instant she ignites with a golden luster, frozen in a perfect moment of magic—a fairy sweeping away the shadows of the night.

Then she vanishes. Maybe it’s a trick of the light, maybe my childish frame of mind, but I’m convinced she’s a witch, that she has leapt upon her broomstick and taken to the clouds. When I tell Su this, she doesn’t laugh or chide me for having an overactive imagination. Instead, her eyes dance with wonder.

“Well, there is magic in the world, Cara. That’s what Dad always says. Right?”

I nod dramatically in agreement.

Of course, that was a long time ago. A lot of things have changed since then—with me, with my sister, with everything.

I know now that you can’t fly away on a broomstick. It’s not that I grew up and stopped believing in magic—actually, I believe in it more, which is what happens when you’re chosen to attend one of the most prestigious wizard schools in the world. But here’s the thing: when I was given my own broom, it wasn’t so that I could soar across the skies, read prophecies in the stars, or fight dragons in wand-to-fang combat.

It was because I’m a failure.

Trust me. It doesn’t matter if you’re some old lady on a street corner or a kid with a whisper of magic in her blood—a broom is for one thing and one thing only: sweeping.

Yay, me. I’m going to wizard school.

And it’s terrible.

Author Bio and Links

Lee Edward Födi is an author, illustrator, and specialized arts educator—or, as he likes to think of himself, a daydreaming expert. He is the author of several books for children, including The Secret of Zoone and the Kendra Kandlestar series. He is a co-founder of the Creative Writing for Children Society (CWC), a not-for-profit program that helps kids write their own books. He has the joy of leading workshops for kids in Canada, the US, Korea, China, Thailand, and other places here and there. Lee lives in Vancouver, where he shares a creative life with his wife Marcie and son Hiro.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Purchase Links

Giveaway

Lee Edward Födi will be awarding a Spell Sweeper prize pack: Hand-made miniature broom, hand-made magical creature egg, spell bottle, and bookmarks to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Lee on the rest of his Goddess Fish tour here.