Virtual Book Tour: Theft Between the Rains

I’m happy to welcome Canadian author Luba Lesychyn. Today, Luba shares the best moments of her creative life and her new release, Theft Between the Rains.

My Ten Best Moments as a Writer

Travelling to Southern Italy

When I was looking for a publisher for my first book, I decided to attend the Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera in Southern Italy because a part of its program included ‘speed dating’ sessions with publishers and agents. It was a long trek from Toronto, but I fit in a side trip to Rome as well. But Matera is like no other place I’ve visited. The Unesco World Heritage Site looks like something out of Lord of the Rings.

Attica Books

While in Matera pitching my first book, Theft By Chocolate, to publishers and agents it went horribly. But several weeks after returning home, I received an email from Attica Books, based in Oxford, England to say they wanted to publish my book.

Praise from My Older Brother

My late older brother was a genius and I thought he’d think my work was inane, so I was really hesitant about having him read my humorous art theft thriller. After reading it, he told me he thought it was brilliant. I thought he was pulling my leg at first, but he started to break it down scene by scene and discuss his favorite bits.

Live Interview on National Television

Because of the timing of the publication of my book, I missed the deadline to have a booth at Toronto’s renowned book and magazine festival, Word on the Street. But the college where I had done my creative writing program asked me to be one of their panelists and I ended up being interviewed on a national news program by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation about my book.

Book Launch

My formal book launch didn’t take place until about six months after it was published, but it was held at the headquarters of a preeminent Toronto chocolate maker and involved chocolate-making demonstrations and a presentation on the art of chocolate-making. It was a standing room only event and I couldn’t have had more fun.

Reading at the ROM

My books are set in Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum, where I had worked for more than 20 years, and I was invited to do a reading there. I was terrified that the academics and other museum staff would crucify it for the artistic license I used in the book, but instead, they have been so positive about both books and the Museum staff have been some of my biggest supporters and fans.

Weathering a Snow Storm

I travelled around the province doing readings with my first book, and one of those landed in the middle of winter in a community a couple of hours drive north of Toronto. There was a snow storm that day and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it, let alone any guests. But when I arrived, the room was packed and the people were some of the most friendly and appreciative I have ever met.

Praise from My Mom

My mother had mobility issues in her later years and she didn’t get out much. But with the help of my brothers, they got her to one of my readings and she was beaming at the end. I’ve always been very shy and dislike attention and she couldn’t believe how much I came to life reading from my book. She even said that she thought maybe I missed my calling as an actress. I’m not so sure about that!

UK Launch

Besides launching my book in Canada, I also launched it in the UK and did readings in London and Edinburgh. That was the experience of a lifetime.

Book Events Go Virtual

I was just getting started promoting my newest book, Theft Between the Rains, when almost without warning, it became a very different world. Most of our lives are currently taking place in our homes and in Canada our isolation rules have been very strict. But libraries started doing virtual events with authors and I have been so lucky to land of plethora of these events. And now I don’t have to travel in snow storms to share my work.

Blurb

What would you do if you worked at a reputable international museum and art works listed as still missing since WWII began showing up on your doorstep?

That’s the substance of the newest urban art theft thriller Theft Between the Rains by Luba Lesychyn.

Drawing on her more than 20 years at Canada’s largest museum, Luba reintroduces many of the affable and quirky characters from the prequel, Theft By Chocolate. Also resurrected is the malicious art thief who has been on the world’s most wanted criminal list for decades.

Theft Between the Rains takes readers behind the scenes at museums and to parts unknown of Toronto. And with water being a character unto its own, Luba uses both humor and thriller elements to weave a page-turning story while simultaneously illustrating how changing weather patterns and flash flooding are impacting metropolitan centers globally.

Excerpt

Lying slumped back in a chair, my body felt as though a truck had dumped a load of concrete over me. I mustered enough energy to crank my head upwards, but my brain was foggy, punch-drunk, as if I’d overdosed on gluten. In a mirror on the opposite wall, I caught a glimpse of my reflection. What was that dark mark on my throat, small and round? My head drooped downwards, and I noticed the door swelling open, incrementally, a sliver of light growing by millimeters. And then…a leg came into view. And, another. Where was I? Who was this coming in? Was I asleep, having one of those 3:00 am witching hour anxiety dreams? Should I get up? I couldn’t get up. Neurons were misfiring. I knew that person at the door. He was saying something to me…but the words seemed out of sync with what I was hearing.

Why did this guy sound like Johnny Cash…singing “Hurt”? Oh my god, it was Marco Zeffirelli, and now he seemed to be screaming at me, but it sounded as though he was underwater.

“Huh, what’s going on?” I said. Was I on some kind of drug trip? I didn’t do drugs. Did someone drug me?

Marco’s hands came towards the sides of my face, tugged at something, and the music stopped. Oh, right. It was all coming back to me. I had been listening to my iPod while working at my desk.

Author Bio and Links

Luba Lesychyn is a popular Toronto-based mystery writer, a graduate of the Humber School for Writers, and a respected author in the library readings and events circuit.

In her two books, she draws from her more than 20 years of work experiences at the Royal Ontario Museum (Canada’s largest museum), and her time working for a private museum consulting firm to write humorous, international art theft thrillers featuring amateur sleuth Kalena Boyko. Her newest book, Theft Between the Rains, is a sequel to Theft By Chocolate (about a woman looking for chocolate, love and an international art thief in all the wrong places) published in 2012 by Attica Books and launched in Canada and the UK.

Luba currently spends her time writing and virtually touring Theft Between the Rains in which lead character Kalena Boyko returns to find herself pulled into international art theft intrigue when masterpieces missing since WWII start appearing on her doorstep.

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Kobo | Pinterest | Twitter

Giveaway

Luba Lesychyn will be awarding a print copy of Theft Between the Rains to a randomly drawn winner (US or Canada ONLY) via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

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

Spotlight on A Summer Wedding at Cross Creek Inn

I’m happy to welcome bestselling author Cheryl Holt. Today, Cheryl shares ten interesting facts about the characters of her new release, A Summer Wedding at Cross Creek Inn.

10 Facts About My Characters

1. In my new novel, A Summer Wedding at Cross Creek Inn, I have several protagonists and four main storylines.

2. My character, Jennifer, is a nice, fun, pretty girl from a nice, ordinary family who doesn’t know her fiancé very well and shouldn’t have gotten engaged to him.

3. My character, Amy, is her sister who suffered a tragedy at age seventeen. She’s been grieving and punishing herself for over a decade, and she’s ready to move on with her life.

4. My character, Sharon, the groom’s mother, was incredibly hurt when her husband divorced her for a much younger woman. She has been grieving and furious with him for fifteen long years.

5. My character, Crystal, is a trophy wife who always has schemes fomenting, but they all finally unravel.

6. I write great characters, so the novel also includes tons of secondary characters who cause plenty of mischief for the main characters.

7. The groom’s family is uber-rich Hollywood royalty. The bride’s family is…normal.

8. The bride and groom shouldn’t have gotten engaged, but isn’t it too late to complain?

9. I am known as the “International Queen of Villains,” so I write some of the “best” villains in American fiction. They constantly have schemes in the works, but they never succeed in implementing them.

10. My characters all (and always) get his or her just desserts—for good or ill!

Blurb

From New York Times bestselling author, Cheryl Holt, comes a sparkling, fast-paced novel about the complexity of family—and all the ways they can drive us crazy.

The lavish Layton-Benjamin wedding promises to be an event to remember, and the groom’s wealthy parents have spared no expense to impress their guests by hosting it at the exclusive Cross Creek Inn, a private mountain retreat tucked away in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. But the bride and groom are from completely different backgrounds, and they’ve only known each other for a few months, so it’s been a ‘hurry-up’ engagement that has everyone worried.

When the groom arrives late and tempers start to flare, it’s clear the wedding is a minefield that has to be carefully navigated. As parents and friends begin taking bets over whether the happy couple will make it to the altar, secrets are revealed, new loves emerge, and true happiness is finally found.

Book your visit to the Cross Creek Inn! A witty, fun summertime story about family, friendship, and finding out what matters most—that only Cheryl Holt could tell.

Excerpt

Sharon…

The view out the window of her suite was spectacular, and Sharon was trying to enjoy it. She was surrounded by thick, verdant woods, and off in the distance, stark mountain peaks rose, seemingly to the stratosphere. Even though it was mid-July, they were dotted with snow.

She’d never been what might be described as a mountain person. Being a typical Californian, one who’d been born and raised in Los Angeles, she’d had her auras read and her chakras aligned and her pores opened. She was a water person, and she lived on the beach in Malibu where she could stare out at the ocean.

Still though, the Colorado scenery was beautiful, and she had to remember that it was and focus on that fact. It was awfully quiet though, and the silence would take some getting used to. In Malibu, with its lone highway that was constantly clogged with cars, there was always a hum of traffic. It was a regular drone that never ended.

She wondered if the serenity and isolation might gradually drive her crazy, but then, she was staying in Colorado for four short days. She could endure any torment for four days. Couldn’t she?

On Sunday morning, after Eric and Jennifer departed on their honeymoon, she would head back to California, and the appalling weekend would be over.

As the mother of the groom, she should have been more excited, but she couldn’t muster the necessary enthusiasm. Initially, she’d decided she wouldn’t attend, but friends had nagged until she’d changed her mind. So…here she was, but she wasn’t glad about it, and she had to alter her mood, bury her misgivings, and forge on with a positive attitude.

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Author Bio and Links

CHERYL HOLT is a New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon “Top 100” bestselling author who has published over fifty novels.

She’s also a lawyer and mom, and at age forty, with two babies at home, she started a new career as a commercial fiction writer. She’d hoped to be a suspense novelist, but couldn’t sell any of her manuscripts, so she ended up taking a detour into romance where she was stunned to discover that she has a knack for writing some of the world’s greatest love stories.

Her books have been released to wide acclaim, and she has won or been nominated for many national awards. She is considered to be one of the masters of the romance genre. For many years, she was hailed as “The Queen of Erotic Romance”, and she’s also revered as “The International Queen of Villains.” She is particularly proud to have been named “Best Storyteller of the Year” by the trade magazine Romantic Times BOOK Reviews.

She lives and writes in Hollywood, California, and she loves to hear from fans.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Giveaway

Cheryl Holt will be awarding an autographed print copy of the book (US ONLY) to 10 randomly drawn winners via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

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


Through the Ages

I’m happy to welcome author Everley Gregg. Today, Everley shares ten interesting facts about the origins of her medieval series–The Forgotten Flowers of Flanders–and her new release, The Warrior and the Wildflower, Book 1 in the series.

Here’s Everley!

Thank you, Joanne Guidoccio, for inviting me as a guest on your blog today! I’m very excited because what has, truly, been a lifelong dream of mine is finally coming to fruition. I’d like to share with your readers ten interesting facts about how my new medieval romance series, The Forgotten Flowers of Flanders, came to be.

1. I was smitten when I was in the second grade—not with the cute boy across the aisle, but with history. And not just history in general, but with a particular place and time: 15th Century Flanders. How did this happen to an innocent 8-year-old? I was last in line to pick a book out of the interlibrary loan box. The one I ended up with was filled with colorful plates of paintings by artists in the Netherlands in the late Middle Ages.

2. Nightmares: long after the book was returned to the library, my nights were filled with terrifying nightmares starring the characters depicted in some of those paintings. My curiosity about the age, and the painters, piqued. I began researching artists such as Jan Van Eyck, Hieronymous Bosch, and Pieter Breugel. The essay for my senior English project (for which I earned an “A+”) discussed the symbolism behind these apparently religious, yet secretly secularly motivated works of art.

3. Obsessed with all things medieval, I signed up for Latin courses in college. The language, it seemed, came naturally to me. My professor could not believe how well I spoke it—as though I’d spoken it before. (I am not good with learning other languages—English is the only “other” one I ever learned!) I also signed up for a course in Medieval Manuscript Illumination, an education that will guide the plot for my third book in The Forgotten Flowers of Flanders Series. The heroine of Book Three is a manuscript illuminator.

4. The trip: Due to a totally serendipitous event, I found myself traveling to the place I’d always wanted to visit—Belgium. There I was the guest of a gracious couple who listened to me blabber endlessly about my obsession with the region, and who took me to the places I’d longed to see, both in Belgium and the Netherlands (which used to be . . . Flanders!) ‘Twas the most magical week of my life.

5. I began writing romance novels in 2012, along with a memoir and several nonfiction titles. But were they historical romances? Nay. I had it in my head that I was “not yet good enough” to do justice to the stories in my head.

6. After publishing six novels in the paranormal and contemporary romance genres, I finally decided to follow my true calling. Was I yet “good enough”? I didn’t know. I figured I’d take a leap of faith and ask my idol in the genre, Kathryn Le Veque, to act as my mentor. Did I expect a response? Nay. Did I get one? Aye! To my surprise, I did, along with some hard-to-swallow advice—followed by an offer of a contract with Dragonblade Publishing.

7. The first book in the series, The Warrior and the Wildflower, features a heroine who was born with a birth defect: a club foot. So was I! In the mid-20th century, the defect was fixable. In 15th C. Flanders, it was not. Eva, though she’s set her sights on the life of a lady, has a few obstacles in her way, among them being a “creple” and having more than her share of hubris, i.e., pride.

8. In addition to an obsession with the Middle Ages, I have also always been a horse fanatic. Of course, my first hero, Mathieu, had to be a horseman (ostler), as well as one who trained the hunting birds for the court. Falconry has also been a lifelong fascination of mine.

9. Once I dove into my pre-destined genre, the stories now come easily. I finished The Warrior and the Wildflower in just two months. The second book, The Knight and the Rose, I completed in less than three months, during a time of extreme stress and distraction: the holidays, Covid, and my husband undergoing major surgery.

10. Why, even after being advised that I’d set my novels in the wrong location—”they should be set in England or Scotland”—did I push forward with the series set in Flanders? First, because Ms. LeVeque said she was willing to “give the series a try.”

Second? I simply had no choice. A lifelong obsession should not be ignored, no matter what the outcome.

The Blurb

Fifteenth Century, Burgundy.

Eva of Utrecht is an unrecognized, illegitimate daughter of the Duke Philip III. She fears she will never rise above her roots as a simple tailor’s daughter. Her birth defect, a club foot, brands her even less desirable. When the missive arrives inviting her to attend the May Day Festival at Coudenburg Castle, hope rallies.

Under Lady Isabella’s wing, Eva blossoms into a confident young woman—one blinded by pride. She sets her sights on the life of a lady, determined to win the love of a gallant knight. Little does she expect her heart to be swept away by a simple horseman who’s shunned his chance at knighthood.

Mathieu of Liège was on a warrior’s path when he brutally witnessed how power can taint the title. He bears the scar on his face and the horrible memory as reminders. The ostler believes he does not need the sword and spurs to uphold the principles of chivalry. He leads a simple life, training the horses and hunting birds for Duke Philip’s court. Mathieu, though, is lonely, and dreams of finding a lady love to share his life, one who will appreciate his quiet strength and infallible dignity.

When Matthieu falls hard for Eva, he must find a way to convince her of his valor… even if he doesn’t wear the armor.

Can their love take flight?

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

***Releases on Amazon TODAY!***

What’s Next?

Book Two, The Knight and the Rose, will be released later this spring. Please visit my website and sign up for my mailing list so you will know as soon as the title goes up for preorder!

More About the Author

Everley Gregg grew up in upstate New York. She married her happily-ever-after love at 19, and they will celebrate 43 years of marriage this year. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Lesley University. Everley has three children and two gorgeous grandchildren. After retiring from her full-time career in laboratory science, she now writes full-time. She also writes supernatural suspense and contemporary romance under the pseudonym, Claire Gem.

Everley loves to connect with her readers! You can connect with her here:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway

One person will win a $25 Amazon gift card and a paperback. Another will win a paperback. Find out more here.



Honoring President Abraham Lincoln

Born this day in 1809, Abraham Lincoln served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He led the country through its Civil War and preserved the Union. He also abolished slavery, strengthened the Federal Government, and modernized the economy.

An extraordinary man and leader, he is consistently ranked among the greatest American presidents.

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I’m honoring his birthday by sharing 10 favorite quotes:

Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

Determine that the thing can and shall be done and then… find the way.

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing.

In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.

You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.

Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.

I leave you, hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a doubt that all men are created free and equal.


Virtual Book Tour: Love, in Writing

I’m happy to welcome author Elsa Winckler. Today, Elsa shares her favorite books and new release: Love, in Writing.

My Ten Favorite Books

I was born and raised in a very small town in South Africa where at the time, the only entertainment were the movies and the library. So I read. A lot. And getting lost into a story is still something I can’t do without.

Anne of Green Gables – Lucy Maud Montgomery.

It was lovely to discover the fanciful, imaginative and dramatic Anne – living mostly in my own imagination, I could relate on so many levels.

The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I was very young when I read this the first time and although at the time I didn’t quite understand what it was about, there was something about the story of the little prince in space talking about loneliness, friendship and love that touched my heart. Years later, I bought myself a copy – it’s still one of my favourite reads.

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

I’ve known about Jane Austen and I’ve read the stories and I’ve seen movie adaptations of most of them, but it was only while doing my Honours studies at the age of 45 that I really learnt to appreciate Austen’s gentle mockery of the world she lived in.

Middlemarch – George Eliot

I also discovered George Eliot during my studies and Middlemarch is one of those books I try to reread regularly. Such a rich, character-driven story with so many layers, I still discover some each time I pick up the book.

North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell

I fell in love with John Thornton the minute Margaret sees him for the first time. It looks at how the industrial revolution changed people’s everyday lives but for me it’s the love story that makes this a must-read.

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

Aaah – the passion, the story, Heathcliffe! He’s also one of the heroes I lost my heart to a long time ago. ‘Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same’ – how can you not fall in love with this story!

A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara

This book nearly destroyed me – I didn’t sleep for two nights! Brace yourself before you read it but do read it. The most challenging, upsetting but beautifully written story with no mercy for the reader, I’ve ever read. It follows the lives of four friends, but it’s Jude’s story that nearly ripped my heart out.

The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George

Even the English translation of this beautiful story has the flow and the rhythm of the original version. Heart-wrenching but beautiful.

The Language of flowers – Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Another beautiful if heart-breaking story about a girl who was brought up in the system but who finds a connection to the rest of the world through flowers.

Happy Ever After – Nora Roberts

And my list cannot be complete without a love story! I love Nora Roberts’s writing and this one is my favorite, probably because of Malcalm Kavanaugh 

Blurb

A hardcore Science Fiction writer and a softhearted romance novelist clash on the sunny South African coast…

Margaret Parker is a hopeless romantic whose fantasies fuel her writing. For Graham Connelly, science fiction is the perfect genre to express his cynical worldview. A chance meeting in a lift leaves them both interested and aroused — with no clue as to the other’s identity.

Margaret has been looking for a face to match her new fictional hero — and Graham’s is it. Graham has been looking for proof that innocence and optimism still exist — and he’s found it in Margaret. But fantasy isn’t reality, and both Margaret and Graham are used to controlling their fictional worlds. Can they step off the pages long enough to find their own happy-ever-after?

Excerpt

Margaret gaped. His mouth was moving but it took a few minutes for her befuddled brain to process what he was saying. She was fascinated by his face, the movement of his lips, the taut skin of his cheeks. Her eyes couldn’t move away from him. He was really beautiful. What was he saying? Gradually, his questions penetrated her brain.

“What… Who are you? You must be mistaken. I was at a par—”

He nodded and put his hands into his pockets. “Is this how you’re going to play it? You’re going to pretend you don’t know who I am?” He was smiling, but it wasn’t a nice smile.

She had no idea what the man was talking about. All she knew was she had to get out of the elevator, and fast.

Margaret swallowed and shook her head. Breathing had become so difficult and for a minute, she worried she might faint. He was standing right in front of the door and she started to squeeze past him so she could get out as soon as the elevator stopped. He turned with her, his eyes never leaving hers.

“Like I said, I don’t mind taking you up to my flat…” His voice dropped to a whisper. “You really do have the most amazing eyes.”

He walked closer, and she stepped back. And still he moved closer. She tried to step farther back, but was blocked by the side panel behind her. Their faces were about two centimeters apart. There were tiny flecks in his eyes. His musky male scent seeped through her entire being. She swallowed. He scowled but she didn’t feel threatened. His gaze dropped and a hiss escaped through his teeth.

Margaret looked down. The top of her lacy, red bra was clearly visible from this angle. Her eyes gaze flew back to his.

Leisurely, his gaze connected with hers again. The sudden flash of desire in his eyes robbed her of the last of her breath. As if in a trance, he lifted his hand and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. With a look of fierce concentration, he trailed his fingers down her cheek.

His eyes darkened; he cupped her face in his hand. Around them, the air sizzled with strange electricity. He had the palest of blue eyes, she thought. A sound penetrated her befuddled brain. It had come from her throat. His eyes mirrored the confusion she was experiencing. Then, as if stung, he dropped his hand and stepped back.

Buy Links

Amazon | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

Author Bio and Links

Elsa has been reading love stories for as long as she can remember and when she ‘met’ the classic authors like Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Henry James The Brontë sisters, etc. during her English Honours studies, she was hooked for life.

She married her college boyfriend and soul mate and after 45 years, 3 interesting and wonderful children and 4 beautiful grandchildren, they are now fortunate to live in the picturesque little seaside village of Betty’s Bay, South Africa.

She likes the heroines in her stories to be beautiful, feisty, independent and headstrong. And the heroes must be strong but possess a generous amount of sensitivity. They are of course, also gorgeous! Her stories typically incorporate the family background of the characters to better understand where they come from and who they are when we meet them in the story.

Website | Personal Facebook Page | Author Facebook Page | Twitter | Goodreads | BookBub | Pinterest | Wattpad | Instagram | LinkedIn

Giveaway

Elsa Winckler will be awarding a copy of a short story (“Plan B”) to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

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

My Favorite Holiday Movies

I’m happy to welcome back award-winning author Vicki Batman. Today, Vicki shares her favorite holiday movies and new release, Sommerville Holidays Too.

Here’s Vicki!

During the holiday season, if a holiday movie is on TV, I’ll watch. I can’t say the number of times I’ve seen some of them. They are a part of me and my holiday season as much as buying a Christmas tree, baking goodies, and partying with friends and family.

So here goes my top ten list of My Favorite Holiday Movies:

White Christmas –I have three sisters and this is a favorite of ours because of the “Sisters” number. The best time is when a lot of my family is together to watch this one, and we sing all the songs.

Stalag 17 – Why a WW2 movie set in a German prisoner of war camp? Because it is set on Christmas Day. And William Holden is incredible in it.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Seriously, doesn’t your heart melt when the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes that day?

Charlie Brown Christmas – I LOVE the part when Charlie Brown discovers the beautiful little tree, jumps up and down, and the friends sing “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.” I have to sing too.

Millions – Came out years ago. When England is switching their currency to Euros, two brothers discover a bag of pounds. There is a beautiful scene when they see their late mother who is on her way to sainthood.

Love Actually – I’ve actually heard people say they aren’t fond of it, but I love it. The guy with the placards, the rock star, the writer, and many more find and lose love at Christmas. Great cast.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – I remember when this one released and being entranced. And yes, I love the songs, too.

The Bishop’s Wife – classic Cary Grant as an angel, helping a minister find his way at Christmas time.

Star in the Night – This one is a must see! A Western take on the Nativity Story. It’s short and tender and won an Oscar.

While You Were Sleeping – an adorable film with Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman who find love during the holidays.

I love to write short stories and have written many holiday ones. I’m happy to share my latest—Sommerville Holidays Too, three delightful tales full of fun and forever possibilities.

Blurb

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

The Great Fruitcake Bake-off: When five-time baking champion Samantha Greene teams up with new neighbor, Dixon Roberts, for The Great Fruitcake Bake-off, they discover baking a prize-winning entry is complicated, bad guys are plotting to take the crown, and first prize isn’t just about a ribbon.

Christmas Romeo: When two feuding co-workers win Christmas river cruises at the company holiday party, they discover each other isn’t so bad after all.

Twinkle Lights: When the owner of a Christmas tree stand, which benefits the children’s hospital, has a heart attack, a do-gooder and a reformed high school delinquent turned lawyer show their holiday spirit and staff the business. The twosome meet the challenges of running the establishment and begin to fall for each other. Yet, when the revenue goes missing, fingers are pointed.

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Author Bio and Links

Vicki Batman has sold many romantic comedy works to magazines, several publishers, and, most recently, three humorous romantic mysteries. Along the way, she has picked up awards and bestsellers. Avid Jazzerciser. Handbag lover. Mahjong player. Yoga practitioner. Movie fan. Book devourer. Chocoholic. Best Mom ever. And adores Handsome Hubby. Funny, sweet, and quirky, Vicki’s latest stories are full of her hallmark humor and romance and will delight all readers.

Website & Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Author Central | Goodreads | Bookbub | MeWe | Word by Word

Happy Bodhi Day!

Today, we celebrate the transformation of Siddhartha Gautama into the spiritual leader we know as the Buddha.

A bit of history…

Born a prince in Nepal, Siddhartha lived a comfortable and sheltered life. While he could easily have enjoyed those circumstances, he traveled about the country witnessing the misery of old age, sickness, and suffering. Profoundly affected, he chose to leave his palatial home and seek the meaning of life.

He spent six years living the life of an aesthetic and served six teachers. Still unsatisfied, he tried different disciplines, among them surviving by eating only one grain of rice each day.

Frustrated, he vowed to sit under the Bodhi tree until he had answers. After fasting and meditating for an entire week, he woke up on the morning of the eighth day and experienced enlightenment. Those realizations became the basis of modern-day Buddhism.

Here are ten of my favorite quotes from the Buddha…

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.

The mind is everything. What you think you become.

You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.

Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.

All that we are is the result of what we have thought.

We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.

10 Interesting Facts About The Earl’s Treasure

I’m happy to welcome Soul Mate author, Nancy Lee Badger. Today, Nancy shares ten interesting facts about her new release, The Earl’s Treasure.

Here’s Nancy!

1 This is the official release of my long-awaited book The Earl’s Treasure. I say Long-awaited because it took me many years to write. I put the story aside several times while I published others, then came back to it and decided it had to be shared with my readers.

2 Why did it take so long, you ask? I traveled to conferences, took on presidency of my local Romance Writers of America chapter, moved Mom to NC from Florida, published several paranormal novels with Soul Mate Publishing, worked for my county’s board of elections, and…so far, I have survived a pandemic.

3 Behind the scenes: my editor, Kathy Rothenberger, got the story clean enough for me to shop it at two conferences. It still needed work, so my mother took a look and made suggestions. Dear hubby helped with the Scottish side, and author Betty Bolte was kind enough to give it a read and make suggestions. It takes a village, they say!

4 Why this hero? Stone is a second son who bravely fought against Napoleon and spent some time as a spy. Wounded, he heads home when word arrives that his brother has died. Eric, our second son, fought for America while in Iraq but we were extremely fortunate that he came home to us unscathed. (His brother is fine, too)

5 What irks Stone? His mother’s ancestry. His English father taught him to despise everything Scottish. Check out what happens when a treasure hunt sends him to Scotland and he ends up in a kilt!

6 Who is Adele? She is a childhood friend of my hero. Ten years have passed since they kissed. Why they parted, why he disappeared from her life, and how he reacts when he finds out she married and was recently widowed brings surprises.

7 Why ‘Treasure Tales’ for my series’ name? A treasure is at the heart of the story, and I throw in hints of suspense, concerning things that go missing from Adele’s home. When a man tries to abduct her from the ball, she and Stone meet up once again. Adventure ensues!

8 Horses rule! I love horses and Stone’s war horse, Satan, plays a pivoting role. He saves the day in many ways. Another animal is shot to death, which was hard to write, but necessary.

9 Why do I love to set stories in Scotland? Why not?

10 The real answer to why I set this book partially in Scotland: This is my 30th romance and locating most of the action in Scotland is due to my love of that country. I have volunteered at the New Hampshire Highlands Games for over 25 years with family, but only recently discovered I am partially of Scottish descent. Ever since I wrote a book called Dragon’s Curse many years ago, I found the urge to write other Scottish historical paranormal novels. This book is not paranormal. Instead, it is a spicy romance based upon a mysterious treasure.

A Short Blurb

After Stone is wounded and thrust into an earldom, and Adele is widowed by an abusive husband, these star-crossed childhood friends meet at an English country ball, escape a kidnapper searching for a treasure, and depart for Scotland ahead of those intent on killing anyone in their way.

Excerpt from The Earl’s Treasure

“It’s up to me now,” Stone said to the horses. Their ears flicked back, as if listening. When Adele’s beauty shimmered in his head, the thought of making babies with her rose to a fever pitch, then fell just as fast. In order to beget the next earl he needed a nubile young innocent, not a barren, beautiful widow of twenty-six.

He sighed, then spied the peaked roofs of Gretna. Squeezing his fists until his knuckles hurt, he cursed. “Dear Lord! I am back in Scotland!”
Snow glistened on the thatched roofs, the village blacksmith’s hammer clanged, and the acrid scent of smoke made him cough. He steered the horses to an inn where they would stop for their comfort, then head to an area just north of town to eat the luncheon Sadie had packed for them. After he pulled on the reins to command the horses to stop he bounded to the ground, jarring his knees. Straightening, he rolled his aching shoulders. The one wounded in battle burned, as if the bullet remained deep in his flesh. A young lad appeared and gathered up the reins of their horses.

“Water them, but leave them hitched. We are not staying long.”

“Aye, my lord. Yer not getting’ hitched?” He chuckled at his own use of the slang word for being married over the anvil.

“No, lad.” He had tied his stallion to the back of the coach. “Don’t forget this one, lad, but be wary of his teeth.”

He opened the coach door and handed Adele down, with her eyes red-rimmed, and her steps unsteady. They entered the inn and she headed to the lady’s retiring room. The innkeeper recognized Stone which surprise him since he hadn’t been around since before he left for Eton.

“Sure as the day is half-past I recognize our Cora’s little lad,” the man said.

Stone pursed his lips, holding back the urge to tell the man what he could do with his statement. He never thought he looked anything like his Scottish mother, which seemed a blessing. Now, he wanted to have a drink, empty his bladder, and get back on the road.

“Yes, you have the right of it. Been ages since I visited Castle Bradan.”

“I’m sure ye had yer reasons, but the laird will love seeing ye.” The innkeeper poured whisky into a glass and set it in front of Stone.

Gingerly moving his foot, assured the gem rested between the leather and his wool stockings, he gulped the wee dram of aged Scottish whisky and awaited Adele. When she returned, he ordered her a tankard of spiced cider.

“Dear Lord!” the innkeeper said, “Is this little Adele Hartwell from the Glen House?”

“Aye, ’twas my name when a girl at da’s home. He passed away years ago, after I moved to Longtown.”

“Over yon border? Aye, I believe I heard telling of a baron winning yer hand.”

Stone marched away and took care of his personal needs while Adele stayed safe inside the inn with people she knew.

Let them reminisce about a life I no longer cherish.

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AUS

SPECIAL EBOOK PRICING NOW THROUGH DECEMBER 7TH!

What’s Next?

I hope to write several other books that feature secondary characters from this book. I recently released a tie-in story titled Love, Hamish. Find out how to get this novella FREE HERE.

More About the Author

Nancy Lee Badger grew up in Huntington on New York’s Long Island. After attending Plymouth State, in New Hampshire, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree and met and married her college sweetheart. They raised two handsome sons in Rumney, New Hampshire while dreaming of being a writer. When the children had left the nest, and shoveling snow became a chore, she retired from her satisfying job as a 911 Emergency Medical Dispatcher and moved to North Carolina, where she writes full-time.

Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and the Triangle Association of Freelancers. She finds story ideas in the most unusual places. Connect with her here:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads

10 Interesting Facts About My Protagonist – Jordan James, PI

I’m happy to welcome back Soul Mate author Rachel Sharpe. Today, Rachel shares ten interesting facts about the protagonist of her mystery series.

Here’s Rachel!

Jordan James is the main character of my Jordan James, PI series and its protagonist. Please enjoy reading 10 interesting facts about her and her series.

10 – The best writing advice I ever received came from the wife of the late author Walker Percy, who told me to always “write what you know.” I try to make it a point to do just that.

9 – The premise for Simple Misconception came from my desire to write a story in Jordan’s hometown of New Orleans. The character of Natalie, her friend who turns up missing, is loosely based on an old friend from high school.

8 – The premise for Bitter Retribution came from two separate trips: one to Hollywood where I visited family who work in the entertainment industry, and one to Colorado to go skiing.

7 – The premise for Lost Distinction came from my fascination with the Kennedy family and a trip to Martha’s Vineyard I took prior to writing book two.

6 – The premise for Cold Ambition came one night after I had decided I wanted to write a novel. The first thought that came to my mind was I wanted her to be a girl from New Orleans living in New England who decided to follow a childhood dream and become a private investigator, which was my childhood dream.

5 – Jordan’s childhood neighborhood is based on my grandparents’ neighborhood.

4 – Jordan’s first client and love interest, Rick, is based on former 1950s teen idol, Rick Nelson (hence the name).

3 – The character of Jon Riche, Jordan’s associate, foil, and sometimes love interest, came about during the first draft of Cold Ambition. He’s not based on anyone in particular and almost writes himself. I enjoy writing about him because I never fully know where he may take Jordan or the story.

2 – Jordan’s best friend, Heather, is based on my best friend.

1 – Jordan James isn’t based on me, but on what I’ve considered could have been my alternate life had my life gone differently.

Bio and Links

Rachel Sharpe is the author of Cold Ambition, Lost Distinction, Bitter Retribution, and Simple Misconception, all part of the Jordan James, PI series, a mystery series with sweet romance. Although born and raised in the South, “Yankee” relatives first led Rachel to historic New England, which she has come to consider her second home and is the setting for the series.

Rachel currently resides with her husband and children in the Greater New Orleans area.

Check Out Rachel’s Sites to Keep Up with Jordan James!!!

Facebook | Twitter

Rachel’s Novels

When Jordan James decided to embark on a career as a private investigator, she never could have imagined that a chance encounter would lead to her staring down the barrel of a gun on the roof’s edge of a high-rise building. As she begins to investigate her first case, the puzzling murder of a prominent businessman that has left Boston’s finest mystified for more than two decades, she finds herself suddenly immersed in a treacherous underworld brimming with betrayal, raw greed, and political subterfuge of international proportions. In the midst of this, she discovers she is falling for her mysterious client despite the hints of his dark past. Can this feisty Southern girl with a penchant for trouble solve this baffling case, or is she doomed to become another tragic chapter in an international conspiracy?

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“It all started with a favor . . .”

When private investigator Jordan James agreed to search for the missing son of a U.S. Ambassador, she didn’t realize she was walking into a case one hundred years in the making. The deeper she delves into this unusual assignment, the more shocking, and the more dangerous, it becomes. With time running out and lives at stake, Jordan must race to identify the culprit of an elaborate plot while also uncovering a far more personal truth too intimate to ignore . . .

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“What started out as a star-studded vacation has turned into a sensational avalanche . . .” When private investigator Jordan James decided to join her best friend on the set of her hit television series in the Rocky Mountains, she had no idea she would become a key player in a murder mystery more suited for the big screen than the slopes. With one actor dead and a killer on the loose, can Jordan uncover the culprit before another victim makes headlines on Hollywood Minute?

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A Trip to the Big Easy Turns into a Big Nightmare…”

When private investigator Jordan James returns home to New Orleans for Christmas, she never imagined her holiday could end with kidnapping and death. As she begins to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a childhood friend, she unwittingly stumbles upon a dangerous, international syndicate. With lives at risk and time running short, Jordan must find a connection between these seemingly unrelated events if she ever hopes to find her friend.

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10 Interesting Facts About the Glass Dolphin Mystery Series

I’m happy to welcome Canadian author Judy Penz Sheluk. Today, Judy shares interesting facts about the Glass Dolphin Mystery Series and her new release Where There’s a Will (Book 3).

Here’s Judy!

1. The Glass Dolphin is the name of an antiques shop where, according to owner Arabella Carpenter, “authenticity matters.” In early drafts of the novel, it was called the Blue Dolphin, until Judy discovered there was a Blue Dolphin Antiques in Maine (there’s also one in Oregon, and there are probably others, too). It just seemed easier to change the name.

2. The Glass Dolphin got its name from Arabella’s first antique “find,” a pair of cobalt blue dolphin candlestick holders, made by the Boston & Sandwich Glass Company in Sandwich, Mass. Production of dolphin candlesticks began about 1840 and continued for 35 to 40 years. They were produced in clear or opaque milk glass, as well as in colored glass, including green, canary yellow, and cobalt blue. Blue is generally the most sought after color.

3. The Glass Dolphin is located on historic Main Street in Lount’s Landing, a small town about ninety minutes north of Toronto, Canada. The town of Lount’s Landing (on the Dutch River), is loosely based on Holland Landing (on the Holland River), where Judy lived for 25 years.

4. The fictional Lount’s Landing was named after Samuel Lount, a blacksmith, farmer, and politician who lived in the village of Holland Landing in the nineteenth century. He was hanged for treason on April 12, 1838. There is a historic plaque dedicated to Samuel Lount in front of the Holland Landing Library and Community Centre.

5. Lount’s last words as he headed to his death were, “We die in a good cause; Canada will yet be free.” These words play a pivotal part in The Hanged Man’s Noose, book 1 in the series.

6. The Hanged Man’s Noose is the name of a local pub, owned and operated by Betsy Ehrlich, a history buff and a good friend of Arabella’s. Her signature drink is the Treasontini, a blueberry vodka martini. [Download the recipe here: http://www.judypenzsheluk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/How-to-Make-a-Treasontini.pdf%5D

7. The Hanged Man’s Noose also offers a good selection of pub food, including Arabella’s favorite: Full Noose Nachos. [Download the recipe here: http://www.judypenzsheluk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/FULL-NOOSE-NACHOS.pdf%5D

8. Arabella’s sleuthing partner is Emily Garland, a former freelance journalist and local magazine editor, and now a partner in the Glass Dolphin. A bacon eating “vegetarian,” Emily’s name comes from Emily in Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery and Judy’s namesake, Judy Garland.

9. Arabella’s ex-husband, Levon Larroquette, is an antiques picker (think American Pickers). He is also a major character in each book. In Judy’s head, Levon looks like a young Kris Kristofferson (think A Star is Born, 1976). Levon’s name is a combination of the Elton John song, Levon, and the last name of actor John Larroquette.

10. All factual information in each book has been carefully researched; Judy was the Senior Editor at New England Antiques Journal from 2008 through 2018, and prior to that, the Editor for Antiques & Collectibles Showcase. And like Emily Garland, she was also a freelance journalist for many years.

About the Glass Dolphin Mystery Series

A cozy mystery series without the cats, crafts, or cookie recipes, the Glass Dolphin mysteries follow the investigations of amateur sleuths Arabella Carpenter and Emily Garland. The books include: The Hanged Man’s Noose (#1), A Hole in One (#2), and Where There’s A Will (#3). While it is always preferable to read a series in order, any one of the titles can be read as a standalone.


















About Where There’s A Will

Emily Garland is getting married and looking for the perfect forever home. When the old, and some say haunted, Hadley house comes up for sale, she’s convinced it’s “the one.” The house is also perfect for reality TV star Miles Pemberton and his new series, House Haunters. Emily will fight for her dream home, but Pemberton’s pockets are deeper than Emily’s, and he’ll stretch the rules to get what he wants.

While Pemberton racks up enemies all around Lount’s Landing, Arabella Carpenter, Emily’s partner at the Glass Dolphin antiques shop, has been hired to appraise the contents of the estate, along with her ex-husband, Levon. Could the feuding beneficiaries decide there’s a conflict of interest? Could Pemberton?

Things get even more complicated when Arabella and Levon discover another will hidden inside the house, and with it, a decades-old secret. Can the property stay on the market? And if so, who will make the winning offer: Emily or Miles Pemberton?

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple

About the Author

A former journalist and magazine editor, Judy Penz Sheluk is the author of two mystery series: the Glass Dolphin Mysteries and the Marketville Mysteries. Her short crime fiction appears in several collections, including The Best Laid Plans and Heartbreaks & Half-truths, which she also edited.

Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves as Chair on the Board of Directors. Find her at http://www.judypenzsheluk.com.

Samuel Lount photo courtesy of Ontarioplaques.com