Spotlight on Julie Howard

I’m happy to welcome back Wild Rose Press author Julie Howard. Today, Julie shares her author journey and new release, The Three Widows of Wylder.

Here’s Julie!

Thank you, Joanne, for hosting me today! This is a lucky day for me because my eighth book, The Three Widows of Wylder, releases today.

I never thought I’d have eight books out. My dream was to someday have one published. My journey to becoming a novelist was both long and short. My childhood dream was to be a novelist and I was always creating stories and jotting down plot and character notes. I majored in journalism in college and was a newspaper reporter, columnist and editor for a number of years. This was a great training ground as I learned quite a bit about human behavior during the stories I reported on (motivations), how different people speak (dialogue), and understanding what made an interesting story (plot). For a few years, I worked in marketing before I realized time was growing short for realizing that old childhood dream.

In my forties, I quit work and started writing my first novel. I learned writing fiction was very different than nonfiction. While I had the technical abilities, I still had a lot to learn. I took a few classes, attended conferences, and read a number of books on writing fiction. I spent a few years researching and writing a historical fiction novel and then, mentally exhausted by that effort, decided to write a mystery to clear my mind. That book, Crime and Paradise, was picked up by The Wild Rose Press.

What seemed like an immediate success to those around me was actually the culmination of years of work putting the building blocks in place. I’ve stayed with the same publisher for seven subsequent titles and am now working on my next novel. Finally, after all these years, I’m living my childhood dream.

Tagline

Three women. Three terrible secrets.

Blurb

Three women on the run.

After the death of her husband, Clara flees a hanging judge and seeks refuge with her brother in Wylder, Wyoming.

With secrets of her own and good reasons to flee, spoiled and vain Mary Rose joins Clara on the trek to Wyoming. Surely a suitable man exists somewhere.

Emma is a mystery. A crack shot and expert horsewoman, her harrowing past seeps out in a steady drip. She’s on the run from something, but what?

After the three women descend on Wylder, a budding romance leads to exposure of their pasts. As disaster looms, will any of them escape?

Excerpt

Emma stood, legs apart, one hand on the pistol at her hip. The covered wagon was the type used years ago by pioneers, before trains tamed the prairie, and they still lumbered across areas where tracks hadn’t been laid. Two women sat side-by-side, too focused on their argument to yet notice the camp they entered. Their one horse, overmatched by the heavy wagon, was damp with sweat, its mouth flecked with froth.

“We should have stayed on the main road.” The peevish one appeared much younger, curly gold hair topped by a large straw hat. She wore a light-yellow dress with lace at her wrists and throat, a perfectly inadequate outfit for travel. “Someone could have provided directions.”

The older woman had finely-drawn features, a few strands of gray threaded through her dark, uncovered hair. Dressed in sensible blue calico, she gripped the reins too tight and the poor horse gave a pathetic shake of its head. “The whole point was to avoid people,” she sniped.

Emma strode forward and seized the reins. “For God’s sake, you’re killing him.”

The two women gaped as though at an apparition. The horse, released from harsh hands, lowered its head and halted. Its sides heaved as flies drank at its sweaty flanks.

“Whomever let you two fools handle a horse should be whipped.” Tempted to dispatch the women to hell for their cruelty, Emma rested her hand on the pistol’s handle.

They two travelers spoke in tandem. “Who are you?” and “How dare you call me a fool.”

As Emma crooned into in the horse’s ear, her expert fingers undid the buckles at its shoulders and haunches. By the time the older of the two women climbed to the ground, the horse was unhitched and Emma led it to the creek.

“That’s our horse,” cried the one in yellow. “Clara, what is that insane girl doing? She’s stealing him.”

Emma halted, shoulders stiff. She turned and pointed the pistol at the one with lace at her throat. “I’m no horse thief.” She cocked the hammer. “Apologize.”

Buy Links

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Bookbub | Goodreads

Author Bio and Links

Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime mystery series and Spirited Quest paranormal mystery series. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild and editor of the Potato Soup Journal.

When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time outdoors cycling, walking or gardening. A fifth generation Californian, she now lives in Idaho.

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

Book Blast: To Entice a Spy

I’m happy to welcome multi-published author Diane Scott Lewis. Today, Diane shares her new release, To Entice a Spy.

Blurb

In 1794, Widowed Countess Eseld Trehearne seeks revenge for the brutal death of her female companion during a Paris riot. On her return to England, Eseld delves into espionage to defeat the French rebels.

Baron Robert Penhale, Eseld’s childhood love, rejoins the Secret Services after his wife’s death. He’s determined to protect England from the revolution terrorizing France.

A ruthless French spy fights for the common man while disguised as an English aristocrat. He’s intent on revenge against those who oppose him.

With the spy stalking them and Robert in fear for Eseld’s life, the fate of the couple verges on disaster.

Excerpt

Pierre entered the Blue Anchor tavern. At a table in the far corner, he sat and ordered a small beer. He reached into his greatcoat pocket and pulled out the letter he’d just picked up from the General Post Office. Crackling it open in the dim candlelight, he started to read the coded letter.

Men laughed and talked in the low-ceiling taproom, puffing on pipes. The word, “revolution,” popped up now and then. Had their arguments been for or against?

The nerve of the English to care about his country’s events, but the murder of useless royalty across the Channel had made George III fear for his crown. Now Britain, along with Austria, attacked France to demand the status quo.

A pretty wench in apron and cap sauntered up to his table.

“You promised to visit me. I’m that earnest to run my fingers through your hair blacker than coal, an’ gaze into them blue eyes. Handsome devil.”

“Not now, I’ll come back later tonight. I’m busy.”

Pierre was anxious to finish his note and turned from her. Another chit he dallied with. He heard her walk off in a huff.

He hunched down and snickered.

The note confirmed that a woman, a spoiled aristocrat, was in town to interfere with him.

“How delightful,” he muttered under his breath. Could that be the recent arrival, Countess Trehearne?

He crunched the paper in his fingers as if to rip apart anyone who impeded his operation. This woman, the delectable Eseld, would be easy to fool, and dispose of, if necessary.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Target | Book Depository

Author Bio and Links

Diane Parkinson (Diane Scott Lewis) grew up near San Francisco, joined the Navy at nineteen, married in Greece and raised two sons in Puerto Rico, California, and Guam. She’s a member of the Historical Novel Society and wrote book reviews for their magazine. She’s always loved travel and history and has had several historical novels published. Her most recent is the Oyster War Novel set in the 1950s: Ghost Point.

Her spy novella, To Entice a Spy, set in England during the French Revolution—two former lovers chase a ruthless spy; will love rekindle as murder stalks them? — will be released on October 11, 2021.

Diane lives with her husband and one naughty dog in western Pennsylvania.

Website | Amazon | Bookbub | FB Fan Page | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter

Giveaway

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

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

Goodreads:

Blurb Blitz: The Girl in the ’67 Beetle

I’m happy to welcome author and editor, Linda Lenhoff. Today, Linda shares her new release, The Girl in the ’67 Beetle

Blurb

The art director of Kids Press, Amy Shepherd has been assigned to reinvent the story of Goldilocks, and she finds her own life reflecting a similar tale. Will she fall for a man who’s a little too old (but exciting), a man who’s a little too young (but awfully exciting looking), or a man who’s just right, at least as far as her friends are concerned? Or will she bring Goldilocks’ story—and her own—up to date with a little help from high-technology and the Goldilocks Planet theory? Amy will have to decide how her own tale will end, all the while driving her beloved powder blue convertible through the streets of Santa Monica, where she has become known as the Girl in the ’67 Beetle, the only thing in her life that, so far at least, feels just right.

Excerpt

I think it’s a sign of our times that when we feel low or confused, unsure or unloved, we look for someplace warm and comforting, with soft colors and soothing music, and find ourselves time and again at Pottery Barn. At least, my pal Susan and I do.

“Shopping has gotten a bad name,” Susan says. Susan is my bestie from college, though we don’t use the term bestie because it’s a little too cute, and Susan is a serious person. She has a serious face with a serious haircut—auburn tinted straight hair, excellent posture, and one of those fit bodies where everything’s proportioned right. I think it’s because she’s tall. But she doesn’t lord it over me or anything.

“It’s true,” I say. “I feel guilty shopping now. Even window shopping makes me look over my shoulder to make sure no one’s watching. When did this happen?”

“It’s all those TV shows where women in too much eye makeup are constantly shopping for shoes.

“I’ve never willingly gone into one of those pricey shoe stores,” I say.

“Boutiques,” Susan corrects me.

“That’s a polite word for them,” I say. “What’s wrong with DSW? What’s wrong with grabbing your own size and putting shoes on yourself?” I ask.

“You just don’t get what it means to be a modern woman,” Susan says, raising her nose in the air. “A modern woman who spends money on shoes that hurt.”

“I’d rather have a nice quilt,” I say, looking at a nice quilt. It’s five-hundred dollars, so I won’t be buying it, either. But at least if I did, it wouldn’t pinch my toes.

I am scanning the aisles of Trader Joe’s, looking for something celebratory but inexpensive for dinner. It is my anniversary, and I realize I’m acting a little like a New Agey Hallmark card for a thirty-four-year-old celebrating the first anniversary of her divorce (and you just know the card would be too pink, with a girl holding a martini glass with too much martini in it).

Trader Joe’s is the grocery store where I came as a college student to buy very cheap wine (I still buy it) and big blocks of cheese (I’ve cut down on the cheese—dairy, you know).

The store looks brand new, having undergone renovation this past year. A lot like me, but more fluorescent and way more noticeable. You can now find some form of chocolate at the end of almost every aisle. Something that makes me think they know I shop here, or there are a lot more women like me than I ever thought.

A crowd has gathered around the low-carb section, which thankfully isn’t too large an area. Lots of women studying the fine print.

An older man is watching the low-carb folks, too. He looks at me, and we share a smile. He then accidentally turns and knocks over an entire rack of chocolate bars (the ones with the white wrappers and hazelnuts inside, a very good choice), and the whole group of low carb-ettes turns to see, with looks of longing on their determined faces. The older man looks slightly bemused.

“You’re a tempter, is that it?” I ask, helping him pick up the bars. I put one in my basket. I don’t care if it fell on the floor. It’s wrapped.

“Who could resist?” he says, with a mischievous smile on his face. “Thanks for the help. I should buy you a chocolate bar,” he says.

“Please, I’m over thirty,” I joke. “You should buy me two.”

Author Bio and Links

Linda Lenhoff has worked in publishing as a writer and editor for several years, having edited nearly everything from makeup techniques (apply blush up and over the “apples” of your cheeks) at Seventeen Magazine to migraine studies (cut back on that chocolate) at research institutes. She has earned an MFA in Creative Writing, and her next novel, *Your Actual Life May Vary, will be published in 2022. Linda lives in California’s Bay Area with her husband and daughter.

Contact Linda at (925) 784-9393.
Website | Amazon Buy Link | Email

Giveaway

Linda Lenhoff will be awarding one printed copy book or a $25 Amazon/Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

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

10 Things I Never Expected to Like So Much

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Karen Guzman. Today, Karen shares an eclectic list of unexpected likes and her new release, Arborview.

Here’s Karen!

It’s funny sometimes how we think we know our tastes, our likes and dislikes, what we’ll go for and what we won’t. In the spirit of disclosure—and self-discovery—here’s an eclectic, random list of stuff I’ve stumbled across and, to my surprise, really enjoyed.

The lesson: Give it a shot. You never know.

1. Economic theory – Not something I waded into during my MFA program, but my day job now is a writer for a graduate business school. I’ve learned so much about the way markets work, and why we’re in the mess we’re in.

2. Edamame beans – versatile, delicious, and so healthy. Who knew?

3. The Showtime series Billions – a guilty pleasure. Depraved, greedy egotists trying to outdo each other via over-the-top plot twists, but smart writing and great acting make it a hoot.

4. Microgreens – These looked like the weeds in my lawn when my husband I first saw them at our local CSA farm. Now we show up early before they sell out. Crunchy, cool, a hint of spice. Take any salad to a new level.

5. Hard Seltzer – fruity flavors, just a hint of alcohol and totally refreshing.

6. The Revenant movie – Heard it was violent and wasn’t interested in watching Leonardo DiCaprio fight a bear. In reality: a deeply spiritual tour de force with amazing performances. One of my favorite films.

7. The California desert — I’m not one for heat, so I was skeptical when we visited my mother-in-law in Palm Springs the first time. Now, wow. The vastness, the barren brown hills, the startling green of a hidden oasis, the solemn stark beauty of Joshua Tree National Park. Amazing landscape.

8. Snowshoeing – I’m a hiker, but I was skeptical about strapping these onto my boots. Now I love crunching over the surface of freshly fallen snow.

9. Local talk radio – for old cranks, right? Wrong! Informative—and often entertaining—listening to people you know hash out the issues of the day.

10. Cutting the lawn. Okay, this is a weird one. I think it’s the instant gratification. The lawn is an out-of-control mess. A little work later, and the yard is transformed.

Blurb

When the recipe for a new life is bittersweet…

Ellen Cahill’s financial future rides on the success of her new pastry shop. A bruising divorce has drained her bank account, along with her spirit. A man enters her life promising love, but Ellen, haunted by the past, questions whether she can pull off this new beginning.

College student Rosa Escamilla has her own culinary dreams—and a difficult mother who’s dead set against them. Rosa won’t be deterred. She scrapes up the money to enroll at a prestigious culinary school, setting out to prove everyone wrong.

When hidden betrayals by the people they love most surface for both Ellen and Rosa, can they overcome the blows they never saw coming on the road to where they want to go?

Excerpt

The light was dying in Arborview. Ellen had to get going, but she wasn’t ready. Descending the ladder meant reentering her life. The time she spent here, suspended among the branches, did not banish the uncertainty that crept back when her feet hit the ground, but it did give her reprieve.

The stillness, the silence, slowed her mind. Be still and know that I am God. She used to love that old Psalm. This must have been what it meant. Her thoughts unraveled in Arborview, exposed in a cool, piercing light, a calm glow giving her hope.

It had been a week since she’d heard from Alice, and the memory of her guilty laundry-room face lingered. Perhaps Ellen had been too harsh, too judgmental. That was a big thing today, wasn’t it? Judging. Nothing was supposed to be off limits, nothing truly wrong, or shameful. Ellen had broken down and left a voicemail, but Alice had not returned the call.

The warm impression William had left in her bed, the faint whiff of his cologne on the pillows, had stayed with Ellen, too. He was coming to take her to dinner in an hour.

William had struck a chord with his pastry shop idea. It had taken root and grown all week within Ellen, its tendrils reaching into her heart. She could see it: a little storefront place, a jingling bell on the door, cakes and pies in the window, a soft wash of light on the gleaming display cases inside.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Author Bio and Links

Karen Guzman is a fiction writer and essayist. Her new novel, Arborview, will be published on September 29 by The Wild Rose Press. Her debut, Homing Instincts, was published by Fiction Attic Press in 2014. Karen’s short fiction has appeared in a number of literary magazines, and her story collection, Pilgrims, was a finalist for the St. Lawrence Book Award.

Karen is a regular contributor to the Collegeville Institute’s Bearings Online magazine. She is the recipient of a 2021 writing fellowship at the Collegeville Institute.

You can find Karen’s books on Amazon, and learn more about her work at https://www.karenguzman.com.

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Write Despite

Spotlight on Unexpected by Jana Richards

I’m happy to welcome back Wild Rose Press author Jana Richards. Today, Jana shares her new release, Unexpected.

Tagline

A marriage of convenience. An unexpected love.

Blurb

Single dad Ben Greyson wants only to retain custody of his two stepdaughters. A dysfunctional childhood has made family the most important thing in his life. When his late wife’s parents sue for custody, a desperate Ben is left with two choices – run away with his girls or marry his next-door neighbor.

Jamie Garven wants to be a mother. She’s intrigued by her handsome new neighbor and falls in love with his little girls. Then Ben is faced with losing his children, and Jamie agrees to marry him for a chance at motherhood. They’re determined to show the world, and the girls’ grandparents, two loving parents.

Their marriage of convenience turns into unexpected love. But Ben interprets Jamie’s efforts to save their family as betrayal—they could lose everything, including each other.

Excerpt

Jamie didn’t sleep the rest of the night. The logical part of her brain told her if Ben lost custody it wasn’t her fault. Circumstances beyond her control, and Ben’s, had conspired against them. But guilt and worry wouldn’t let her rest.

The crazy thing was she could see the four of them together as a family. And she could see herself with Ben. She’d been fighting her feelings for him since the day they met. Learning he was a recovering alcoholic was a shock, but she knew he was much more than that. He was kind and funny, and a loving father.

But he didn’t love her.

She remembered what it was like to watch, day by day, as Carson fell a little more out of love with her. Every day another piece of her soul withered. To the outside world they probably still looked like a happy couple. But she could feel Carson pull away bit by bit, like water trickling out of a broken vase. It was in the awkward silences between them, the unexplained absences, the times he didn’t reach for her in the night.

Eventually the slow trickle turned into a torrent and he was gone. It had nearly destroyed her.

Could she live with a man who didn’t love her for a second time? Could she willingly step into a relationship, knowing it would likely end the same way her relationship to Carson ended?

Thoughts and emotions whirled in her brain, making her dizzy.

At four a.m. she gave up all pretence of sleep. She went to the kitchen for a drink of water and as she ran the tap, she saw the lights were on in Ben’s house. He probably couldn’t sleep either.

What must he be going through? She couldn’t imagine losing a child.
The old longing ache she’d worked so hard to dispel pressed on her heart. This is your chance, her heart whispered. Maybe your only chance to have children.

Jamie groaned out load. She couldn’t say no. Ben and the girls needed her.
Yet how could she say yes and expose herself to almost certain heartbreak?

Maybe some things were more important. Maybe it was enough to be a mother to the girls and create a family with them. She couldn’t expect Ben to love her as well. It was asking too much.

She couldn’t let him lose the girls. And she couldn’t let her one chance to be a mother slip away.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | Goodreads | BookBub

Author Bio

When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at http://www.janarichards.com

Social Media Links

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon Author Page | Amazon UK Author Page | Newsletter Signup | Goodreads | Bookbub

Virtual Book Tour: Something Lost

I’m happy to welcome bestselling author Bernadette Marie. Today, Bernadette shares life lessons learned from her martial arts training and her new release, Something Lost.

10 Life Lessons I Have Learned from My Martial Arts Training

10. Lifelong friendships are forged through shared experiences.

9. Your body can accomplish amazing things when you push a little harder, especially through doubt.

8. Discipline is a key factor in your success.

7. Failure is a teaching tool.

6. Respect should be earned not demanded.

5. Muscle memory is an amazing thing.

4. Hitting someone is powerful.

3. Getting hit is powerful.

2. You can do anything at any age (even if it has to be modified.)

1. You can overcome anything.

Blurb

Saying goodbye is sometimes the beginning.

Craig Turner was Coach Diaz’s star player, back in the day. He was held in high regard, until he broke the rules and dated the coach’s daughter. Young and stupid, his affection for her lasted until graduation, and then it was time to face the real world–but his love for her would never leave him.

Rachel Diaz became who her father wanted her to be, a well educated, well traveled, successful woman, but she holds a well full of secrets from the outside world. As a high school therapist, she uses her past traumas to help others overcome their own.

When the Fabulous Five arrive at Coach Diaz’s funeral, to pay their respects, a rekindling happens between them all—and between Craig and Rachel.

Is Rachel woman enough to face her demons and is Craig man enough to accept them? Or will their encounter be as brief as the affair they had a decade ago, behind her father’s back?

Excerpt

“Dr. Olivia Chasen,” Santa’s jolly baritone popped her mental fuzzy bubble.

She stopped as she struggled to whirl around. “Me?” She touched her chest with a dramatic flourish she didn’t know she possessed.

A powerful spotlight illuminated her; its heat burned her already flushed face.

She pressed a clammy palm to her chest. “How do you know my name?” The haze in her mind was paralyzing all cognitive function.

“My dear girl,” Santa chuckled, “you should know by now that Santa knows everything and everyone,” he tapped an index finger to his temple.

Santa Claus turned to address the waiting line. “Girls, Boys, Moms, Dads, everyone, if you don’t mind waiting for a brief moment, I’d like for Olivia,” he pointed a white gloved finger at her, “to please come up here on stage, and tell me what she wants for Christmas.”

She stood dumbfounded as the audience and the people in line clapped and chanted her name, “Olivia! Olivia! Olivia!”

Oh no! What was she going to do? She couldn’t possibly go up onto that stage. She was far too shy to address a theater full of people.

But if she didn’t go that would be so unexciting and so like the old Olivia.

But she wasn’t unexciting! She was the new Olivia, and she was exciting! And she wanted to have fun! Correction: She was determined to have fun. Besides, she’d never see these people—her fellow passengers—ever again.

Author Bio and Links

Bestselling Author Bernadette Marie is known for building families readers want to be part of. Her series The Keller Family has graced bestseller charts since its release in 2011. Since then, she has authored and published over thirty-five books. The married mother of five sons promises romances with a Happily Ever After always…and says she can write it because she lives it.

Obsessed with the art of writing and the business of publishing, chronic entrepreneur Bernadette Marie established her own publishing house, 5 Prince Publishing, in 2011 to bring her own work to market as well as offer an opportunity for fresh voices in fiction to find a home as well.

When not immersed in the writing/publishing world, Bernadette Marie and her husband are shuffling their five hockey playing boys around town to practices and games as well as running their family business. She is a lover of a good stout craft beer and might have an unhealthy addiction to chocolate.

Amazon | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Email

Giveaway

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

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

10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Light Through the Pouring Rain

I’m happy to welcome author James Ruvalcaba. Today, James shares his new release, The Light Through the Pouring Rain.

Hello, I’m James Ruvalcaba the Author of The Light Through the Pouring Rain and I’m here today to tell you 10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Light Through the Pouring Rain. My story is an emotional story that details the trials and tribulations of a couple battling a cancer diagnosis. So, now I want to give you a “behind the scenes” look of the top 10 things you didn’t know about my book.

1. I wrote this book in one month.

During the Covid lockdown, I found myself stuffing my face with Oreos and washing them down with pop-tarts. I noticed some weight gain and needed a change, so I began to establish a routine. I would walk and then write. With a clear mind, the ideas flooded the pages as I wrote. Next thing you know the book was complete in a month.

2. There is a longer version of the book.

I originally wrote a 400-page version of The Light Through the Pouring Rain, but after sampling the book to the younger generation, they informed me that “400-pages is too long.” I decided to trim the book to what it is now – 150-pages.

3. Tik Tok & SportsCenter inspired the new length of the book.

After sampling it, I thought I shouldn’t worry about others’ thoughts of the book, but then I thought of the length of Tiktok and highlights on SportsCenter. The shorter the better, so I made sure to cover the highlights of our story and made sure it stayed true to the message.

4. Kobe Bryant inspired the book cover.

When it was time to come up with a direction for my book cover I had communicated that I was looking for something that was artistically similar to the animation that was used for Kobe Bryant’s live poem “Dear Basketball”. After one simple conversation, my illustrator got it right on the first try.

5. All included in the story declined to be named.

Out of respect to all involved in my story, I asked if they would like to be named, but all unselfishly thought it would be best for my name and my fiancée Anabel’s name to be the only ones included so readers would walk away only remembering our two names.

6. The story told is very true but was originally going to be taken in a different direction.

Throughout our process, my fiancée Anabel and I attempted to document as much as possible with hopes to use our story to inspire others to continue to push forward in their battles and appreciate their loved ones. Unfortunately, that story didn’t get told but was planned throughout the cancer process.

7. The story is out because of a friend.

After completing my story I had no direction where to go or what was next, so on one particular day I was followed on social media by an Author (that will remain nameless) or I should say my friend and one direct message later on social media the rest was history. It’s due to her that my book is out and available. Without her, my book may still be sitting on my computer waiting to be released. I will be forever grateful to her.

8. My book was fully completed within a week.

I was very blessed to be connected to a very amazing group of individuals that had a quick turnaround on my book. From the editor to the book cover illustrated they had my book up and ready for release within a week.

9. I released my book with no marketing.

Due to excitement on just being able to come through on my promise I made to my fiancée in our last moments, I released the book as soon as I could. I only made one Instagram post about it and released it immediately afterward.

10. My book came out on December 21st in honor of my mom.

My mom was the MVP of the entire story and without her, I wouldn’t be here today. So as an honor to show my mom my token of appreciation I wanted to tell our story on her birthday. Mom, if you are reading this, Thank you for everything!

About the Book

A remarkable love story that pulls on your heartstrings and leaves you inspired. A page turner that gives a first-hand look into the lives of a young couple madly in love and eager to start their lives together, only to have it all halted by a cancer diagnosis. With no clear road map on how to navigate their new normal, James and Anabel proceed into uncharted territory, hand-in-hand, with the love of their families and their faith in God to guide them.

Book Trailer

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

About the Author

Before he started writing romance stories, James worked with the Special Needs population for 10 years. He devoted his life giving back to the population. From schools to agencies and everything in between, James has worked almost every job within the community. After that, during the pandemic James decided to start writing to pass the time, but to come through on his promise he made years earlier. He devoted his life to giving back, now he devotes his life to telling his stories.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Giveaway

One randomly chosen winner via Rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon gift card. Find out more here.

When a Sequel Burns to be Written

I’m happy to welcome author Brenda Marie Smith. Today, Brenda shares an interesting post about sequels and her new release, If the Light Escapes.

After I’d written If Darkness Takes Us and was querying it to agents and publishers, it was time for me to start a new novel. I considered several story ideas, but the only one that captured me was a sequel to If Darkness.

“Don’t do it!” more experienced writers told me. “Never write a sequel to a book that hasn’t been sold yet. Publishers don’t like it.”

But I had this compelling world I’d created, and a cast of characters I had carefully crafted until, to me, they had lives of their own. I couldn’t just abandon them. They’d be hanging there in stasis waiting for me to return and breathe more life into them.

I know this isn’t actually the case, but that’s how it felt to me. They and their world exist in my head, and my mind refused to ignore them. Besides, I had more plans for them. Not to mention that it’s easier to start with characters you’ve already drawn than it is to start from scratch. It was almost as though I couldn’t stop myself from writing a sequel. So, I gave up trying to refrain and started writing.

If Darkness centers on a grandmother named Bea who is keeping her four grandkids when a solar pulse destroys modern life, then their parents don’t return home. She has to teach the kids how to survive without power, cars, phones, or running water. In that story, Bea’s grandson Keno stands out as a complex older teen who is suffering but heroic in the face of it all.

Keno was the character I wanted to focus the sequel on, but because he was so young, I was worried he wouldn’t be able to carry the weight as the protagonist of an adult novel. I needn’t have worried. Keno’s eighteen-year-old voice poured out of me so fast that I literally couldn’t type fast enough to keep up with him. I wrote a 120,000-word first draft in 27 days. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before, and I wouldn’t expect it to happen again.

Of course, 120K words is much too long for a novel in the apocalyptic genre, so I spent months and months refining the story and trimming it down. Meanwhile, I won the 2018 Southern Fried Karma Novel Contest for If Darkness Takes Us, and the prize was a publishing contract. My first ever, from SFK Press.

I had to set If the Light Escapes aside while I focused on publisher edits for the first book and then on marketing it. Then, we had a pandemic. Still, I managed to get a contract from SFK for If the Light in the summer of 2020, and have spent much of 2021 working with an incredibly good team of editors to make it shine. The ARCs are going into production now in early June, and I’m getting more excited by the day.

It’s important to me to write what compels me. I’m not sure I could write a decent novel any other way. In this particular case, it’s working out well that I ignored the advice I was given. But even if I’d never found a publisher for either book, I would still be satisfied for writing what was burning in my heart.

Blurb

A standalone sequel to IF DARKNESS TAKES US

A solar electromagnetic pulse fried the U.S. grid fourteen months ago. Everything’s gone: power, cars, running water, communications, all governing control and help—gone. Now northern lights have started in Texas—3,000 miles farther south than where they belong. The universe won’t stop screwing with eighteen-year-old Keno Simms.

All that’s left for Keno, his family and neighbors is farming their Austin subdivision, trying to eke out a living on poor soil in the scorching heat. Keno’s still reeling from the the death of his pregnant sister. His beloved Nana is ill, Grandpa’s always brandishing weapons, and water is far too scarce. Desperate thieves are hemming them in, yet he can’t convince his uncle and other adults to take action against the threat.

Keno’s one solace is his love for Alma, who has her own secret sorrows. When he gets her pregnant, he vows to keep her alive no matter what. Yet armed marauders and nature itself collude against him at every turn, forcing him to make choices that rip at his conscience. If he can’t protect Alma and their unborn child, it will be the end of Keno’s world.

IF THE LIGHT ESCAPES is post-apocalyptic science fiction set in a near-future reality, a coming-of-age story told in the voice of a heroic teen who’s forced into manhood too soon.

Excerpt

FROM CHAPTER 3

A huge sliver of moon rises to the east, lighting up the park and Alma’s face with an orange-yellow glow. We pull ourselves up and sit wrapped together on top of the monkey bars like we rule the planet, gazing into our dark subdivision, on the southern edge of our emptied-out city, in the middle of the scary*** world.

“Keno? Alma?” Bobby Carlisle calls from the street. “Y’all come home. Now!”

The crickets and tree frogs have gone silent. I hear Bobby cock his rifle thirty yards away. …Alma and I gape at each other, and then we run.

When we reach Bobby in the street… I scan the trees behind the swings and monkey bars, half a football field away.

Before the sun zapped us, those trees would’ve seemed pretty. Tonight, they’re creepy. I’ve been too worked up about Tasha and Mom to even think about watching the tree line. As bad as things sometimes get around here, I’m still not totally used to life post-apocalypse and the never-ending vigilance.

“I don’t see—”

“Shh!” Bobby aims his rifle…

I shudder and run my eyes back and forth among the trees. With all the different-sized trunks in the deep shadows, people could be hiding in there and blending in.

“There!” Bobby hisses, pointing to the north edge of the trees. And I see—what?… Two pairs of feet… Then …metal flashes in the moonlight. Behind me, Alma gasps. I pull my Glock, flick off the safety, and aim.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Bio and Social Media Links

Brenda Marie Smith lived off the grid for many years in a farming collective where her sons were delivered by midwives. She’s been a community activist, managed student housing co-ops, produced concerts to raise money for causes, done massive quantities of bookkeeping, and raised a small herd of teenage boys.

Brenda is attracted to stories where everyday characters transcend their own limitations to find their inner heroism. She and her husband reside in a grid-connected, solar-powered home in South Austin, Texas. They have more grown kids and grandkids than they can count.

Her first novel, Something Radiates, is a paranormal romantic thriller; If Darkness Takes Us and its sequel, If the Light Escapes, are post-apocalyptic science fiction.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Goodreads

Giveaway

One randomly chosen winner via Rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card. Find out more here

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

Spotlight on A Pride of Brothers: Aiden

I’m happy to welcome back award-winning, multi-published author Peggy Jaeger. Today, Peggy shares a short post about eidetic memory and her new release, A Pride of Brothers: Aiden.

Here’s Peggy!

Alexis “Lexi” Buckley, my heroine in A PRIDE OF BROTHERS: AIDEN has what is called eidetic memory. The easiest definition of the term is the ability to recall images in great detail after seeing or reading something once.

Along with this image recall, some eidetics can also remember things that have happened to them in chronological order or they can tell you what day of the week any date in any year fell upon.

Giving Lexi eidetic memory served an important plot point for me because when she reads something just once, she remembers it exactly, and this helped her and Aiden discover who was behind the killing of her sister in the book. It also didn’t hurt that she was able to get earn her Ph.D at a young age due to her amazing memory.

Famous people in history — and even today — who claim/claimed to have this gift include:

Leonardo da Vinci
C.S.Lewis
Nikola Tesla
Teddy Roosevelt
Rachmaninoff
Marilu Henner
James Spader

Blurb

Lexi Buckley wants answers about her younger sister’s death. The police have labeled it a suicide, but Lexi doesn’t believe it. Stymied in her investigation, she doesn’t know where to turn next. After a chance encounter with a private investigator, she thinks her prayers have been answered.

Aiden Keane has never been an answer to a prayer before, but he agrees to help Lexi. A quirky combo of brains and beauty, the pixie blonde makes him feel things no professional ever should for a client.

When their investigation puts Lexi’s life in jeopardy, her safety becomes his number one priority. The hard part is not falling for her.

Excerpt

Were you close with your sister?” Aiden asked.

Not the way we should have been. Not at the end.

“We had a sizable age difference between us. Almost ten years. I was the big sis. The oldest.” Her lips trembled when she pulled them into a sad line. Rolling her eyes she added, “The bossy one, according to her. She was the baby and took full advantage of her status from the moment she realized it.”

“And rightly so.” The corners of his eyes crinkled. “I’m the youngest of my brothers and I’ll can tell you with one hundred percent honesty, my oldest brother is the bossiest one of us. I think it comes with birth order. Although he takes his so called right uber-seriously. Especially at work.”

This time her grin was steadier. “What kind of business do you all own together?”

“We a run a private security company.”

“Security?”

“Personal bodyguards, if a client needs protection from something. Background checks for employers. Mostly we do investigations.”

“What, like private eyes? Like on television?”

He laughed. “Nothing so glamorous. The fast cars and hot babes are all fantasy. It’s a lot of boring research, computer work, and surveillance, but yeah, you could say I’m a private eye.”

Lexi’s entire mood turned on his words. The sorrow flew, the hurt dissolved. Even her nervous trivia-speak went dormant. She sat bolt upright, her knees bumping against the tabletop when she shifted. Excitement shot from her system as she turned her body, placed a hand across his forearm and declared, “Oh, my God. You’re the answer to my prayers.”

Book Trailer

Universal Buy Linkhttps://books2read.com/u/braGJZ

Bio

Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes Romantic Comedies about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them. If she can make you cry on one page and bring you out of tears rolling with laughter the next, she’s done her job as a writer!

Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, she brings all topics of daily life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she’s created the families she wanted as that lonely child.

When she’s not writing Peggy is usually painting, crafting, scrapbooking or decoupaging old steamer trunks she finds at rummage stores and garage sales.

A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, Peggy is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

As a lifelong diarist, she caught the blogging bug early on, and you can visit her at peggyjaeger.com where she blogs daily about life, writing, and stuff that makes her go “What??!”

Where to find Peggy…

Website/Blog | Twitter | Amazon | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | Instagram | BookBub | You-Tube

Cover Reveal: The Texan’s Favor

I’m happy to reveal the cover of D. K. Deters’ novel…

A stranger’s path, a broken promise, and a second chance…

Blurb

Ambushed, Texas Ranger Jake Fontaine’s a dead man until a Kansas spinster raises her shotgun in his defense. Despite the rogue lawman’s obsession to bring in his brother’s killer, duty demands he escort her to the next town.

Kat Collins is a thief, though an honorable one. She’s on the run from controlling kin and aims to escape her past. Traveling with Jake offers the perfect cover—until her uncle finds them sharing a campfire and imposes his own kind of justice—a wedding.

Marriage will cost Jake his freedom but refusing may cost him his life. Kat figures he’s bound to recognize her on a wanted poster. Would sharing passionate nights in his arms be worth the peril?

Excerpt

“Not that it’s any of your affair, Ranger, but I’m goin’ to St. Louis. I didn’t plan for any delays. You were in trouble, and I tried to help.” She lifted her chin. “Although you bein’ a Texas Ranger and all, I’d think you would’ve had the upper hand.”

He stuffed his hat back on. Contrary to his usual confidence around women, she baffled him. “Lady, you’re riding a horse to St. Louis, alone?” Stubborn woman, someone should be responsible for her welfare. Was Emmett involved with her decision?

She slammed the coffeepot to the smoking fire and a moment later stomped across the ground separating them. At over five-and-a-half feet tall and her boot heels adding an extra inch, she dug her forefinger into his chest. “Ranger, you question where I’m going? Don’t forget you’re in Kansas. Don’t Texas Rangers ride in—Texas?” She stretched the word Texas and placed her hands on her hips. “Did you lose your way?”

Her words strained his good intentions. He leaned forward, wrapped his hands around her thin wrists, and murmured, “Honey, it’ll be a cold day in hell before I ever lose my way to Texas.”

Available for pre-order on Amazon and Apple Books

About the Author

D. K. Deters is a fantasy and historical romance author. She was a communications consultant before turning to a writing career. Like many historical romance authors, she’s always had a deep interest in history, and the nineteenth century is her favorite. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her adult children and their families. Her hobbies include restoring old dollhouses and secondhand furniture. Christmas is her favorite time of the year. Her debut eBook, Christmas Once Again, was also published by The Wild Rose Press.

Connect with D. K. Deters

Amazon | BookBub | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter | Website/Blog