My 10 Most Embarrassing Moments, in No Particular Order

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Virtual Book Tour: The House on Crow Mountain

I’m happy to welcome author Rebecca Lee Smith. Today, Rebecca shares fascinating facts about crows and her new release, The House on Crow Mountain.

Ten Fascinating Facts About Crows

1. A group of three or more crows is called a Murder.

2. Crows can recognize human faces. (Researchers had to disguise themselves by wearing rubber face masks to keep the crows from considering them their enemies.)

3. Crows have the same brain-to-body ratio as a chimpanzee, which makes them one of the smartest birds in the world.

4. American crows use scraps of food as bait to catch fish.

5. Crows have funerals. Not only to mourn, but to find out what killed their fellow crow, then they band together and chase the predator.

6. They make and use tools (usually some kind of twig) to dig insects out of sidewalk cracks for food.

7. Crows build decoy nests if they think another predator bird is watching them.

8. They enjoy playing games while flying. (Tag, maybe?)

9. American crows like to party. They will stand on anthills and rub the ants into their feathers, which causes them to get drunk from the formic acid.

10. Crows can live up to fourteen years. (And I bet they have fun doing it.)


When her aunt suffers a stroke, New York portrait artist Emory Austen returns home to the North Carolina mountains to mend fences and deal with the guilt over her husband’s senseless death. But that won’t be as easy as she hoped.

Someone in the quirky little town doesn’t like Emory. Is it the sexy architect who needs the Austen land to redeem himself? The untrustworthy matriarch? The grudge-bearing local bad boy? Or the teenage bombshell who has raised snooping to an art form? Even the local evangelist has something to hide. Who wrote the cryptic note warning her to “Give it back or you’ll be dead?” And what is ‘it’? As the clues pile up and secrets are exposed, Emory must discover what her family has that someone would kill for.


Never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly.

“Fat chance of that.” I glanced up from the tiny sticker someone had stuck to the dashboard of my rental car and focused on the narrow winding road. I’d kept the little Ford Fiesta ten miles under the speed limit all the way in from the airport, and the drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains had still been one mini-adrenaline rush after another.

I pulled into a foggy scenic overlook, bemoaning the fact there was zero cell service, and grabbed the map I’d picked up at the North Carolina Welcome Center. I reached for the bag of candy I used to keep myself calm and selected a dark chocolate square, perilously warm from sitting too near the heating vent. With two miles and six switchbacks to go, I risked the inevitable mess it would cause and tore the foil open with my teeth.

One single drop of dark raspberry chocolate dripped onto the center of the map. One tiny dark red dot. Just like the one that had been sitting in the middle of Kent’s forehead when the coroner rolled him over on his back.

I shoved the memory out of my head—something I had gotten decidedly better at in the last two months—and tossed the map on the seat.

It had been a long day.

And it was about to get longer.

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Author Bio and Links

Rebecca lives with her husband and a dog named Wilbur in the beautiful, misty mountains of East Tennessee, where the people are charming, soulful, and just a little bit crazy. She’s been everything from a tax collector to a stay-at-home-mom to an award-winning professional actor and director. She loves to travel the world (pre-pandemic) because it makes coming home so sweet. Her Southern roots and the affectionate appreciation she has for the rural towns she lives near inspire the settings and characters she writes about.

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Rebecca Lee Smith 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 Rebecca on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.

10 Life Lessons from Jarrett Brandt, the Hero from A Hero’s Heart

I’m happy to welcome back multi-published author, Amber Daulton. Today, Amber shares ten life lessons learned by the protagonist of her latest release, A Hero’s Heart.

Here’s Amber!

DEA Special Agent Jarrett Brandt has made a lot of mistakes in his life. Though he’s doing his best to move on and do better, what exactly has he learned?

1. Youth is wasted on the young. — His wild teenage years led him on a path of destruction, but…

2. Hitting rock bottom is a good thing. — Faced with prison time and a hard reality check, he finally realized what kind of man he wanted to be, and he was nowhere close to becoming it.

3. Redemption is hard but worth it. — He’s pushed down his regret for so long while ignoring his pain and plastering a smile on his face. Now it’s time to do what he fears most—make amends.

4. Pride isn’t everything. — For some men, it’s all they have. That’s true for Jarrett. But he needs so much more, so he casts aside his ego for what his heart truly desires.

5. Goodbye isn’t always forever. — He’d left home with no intention of returning, but fate has a will of its own.

6. True love never dies. — He’s only ever loved one woman, and it’s never too late to win her back.

7. Family is forever. — Though he and his overbearing father rarely get along, he learns the hard way that his dad loves him.

8. Enemies lurk around every corner. — As an undercover agent, he’s met a lot of unscrupulous people, but the most dangerous foes are often the ones pretending to be his friend.

9. Allies come from unexpected sources. — At the darkest hour, truths are revealed, and the friends he never knew he had stand with him.

10. Second chances are rare. — With love and family welcoming him with open arms, he finds the courage to accept it and becomes the man he always wanted to be.


Lies. Betrayal. A million-dollar bounty.

After an undercover mission goes awry, DEA agent Jarrett Brandt hides out in the last place he wants to be—his hometown. Now he’s stuck with his judgmental parents and the memory of his perfect brother hanging over his head. His one bright light? Marissa Reinn Brandt—his high school sweetheart and former sister-in-law.

Marissa lost Jarrett once before. No way will she let him back in; then her son offers him their guestroom. His wicked charm and smoldering stares are hard to resist, but she’ll make him work to reclaim his spot in her bed.

When his enemies close in, how will Jarrett keep Marissa and her son safe, or will he lose his shot at redemption?

– Triggers: drug use (discussed) and a brief assault of the heroine
– A Hero’s Heart is a smoking hot second chance, romantic suspense novella. No cheating. HEA guaranteed.
– Second edition. Newly revised and edited.


Rekindling the flames of love has never burned so hot.


“You can trust me, Jarrett. I won’t tell your parents anything you don’t want me to.” She sighed and stood as well. “You used to tell me everything. We never kept secrets.”

Jarrett paced between the coffee table and fireplace. “My parents’ opinion doesn’t matter. Dad would still throw up my juvie record or the fact that I’m not a cop, even if I was a model citizen. I’m not that lost, angry kid anymore. I know who I am now, and it’s not someone you’d want to know.”

“I disagree.”

“God, you don’t understand. Marissa, I’ve missed you so damn much. I’ve laid awake so many nights wondering what my life would’ve been like if I’d stayed here.” When he made love to other women, he imagined Marissa beneath him or above him, panting his name. When the nightmares of blood and gore faded, he dreamed of her. Those bittersweet memories and what if scenarios were almost worse than the nightmares. “I’ve done things I’m not proud of.”

“I hated you after you left, but I’ve gotten over it. Everyone feels regret and guilt over something. It’s all about being human.” She dashed away her tears. “I told you mine last night. Will you please show me the same courtesy?”

“I can’t.”

“At least tell me what you did last Christmas. Jason made it crystal clear that he didn’t want you alone. He wants you to have a tree.” She pointed at the Douglas fir. “Well, there you go. What did you do last year?”

Jarrett licked his dry lips, heat swelling in his cheeks.

He’d joined the Consuelo gang last December and spent the holiday in a slummy apartment with five thugs who sold cocaine on the streets of Albuquerque. Living around his drug of choice had nearly destroyed him.

“What about your last birthday?” Marissa blocked his path and braced her hands on her hips. “Did you have cake or go out with a bunch of buddies and get drunk? Did something horrible happen? Why won’t you tell me anything?”

He shoved a hand through his hair. “Damn it, Marissa. Yeah, I got drunk. A few of us went to a strip club where I fucked two dancers in a backroom. Is that what you wanted to hear?”

Her eyes widened as she stepped back.

Way to go, you fucking idiot. He brushed his shaky hands on his button-down shirt to steady them. “Marissa—”

She strode past him with a high head and left the room.

Her cold shoulder skewered him, but he didn’t deserve better.

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About the Author

Amber Daulton is the author of the romantic-suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through Daulton Publishing, The Wild Rose Press, and Books to Go Now, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats.

She lives in North Carolina with her husband and demanding cats.

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Happy November!

In the ancient Roman calendar (in use until 45 BC), November was named for the ninth (novem) month of the year. Despite its change in position on the Julian calendar, November was not renamed.

Here are ten interesting facts about November:

1. This month marks the end of Daylight Saving Time at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday. Clocks are set back one hour.

2. November 11 is Remembrance Day in Canada and Veterans Day in the United States. We honor the courage and sacrifice of those who have served our respective countries.

3. American Thanksgiving has been celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November since 1621.

4. November’s full moon is called the Beaver Moon. In North America’s early colonial years, hunters would set their beaver traps for the last time before the lakes froze.

5. The month’s birthstone is the topaz. A symbol of strength and honor, the ancient Greeks believed the stone had the ability to turn oneself invisible.

6. The month’s birth flower is the chrysanthemum

7. In Canada, Australia, United States, and United Kingdom, men grow their moustaches during the month of November. This annual event (Movember) helps raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s suicide.

8. People born between November 1 and November 22 fall under the sign of Scorpio and those born later in the month are under Sagittarius. Intense yet imaginative, Scorpios value trust and honesty. Generous and open-minded, Sagittarians are energetic and idealistic.

9. Famous people born in November include Marie Currie (November 7, 1867), Claude Monet (November 14, 1840), Georgia O’Keeffe (November 15, 1887), Margaret Atwood (November 18, 1939), William Blake (November 28, 1757), and Sir Winston Churchill (November 30, 1874).

10. November has been designated as National Adoption Month, National Diabetes Month, National Hospice Month, National Military Family Month, National Novel Writing Month, National Pomegranate Month, and Banana Pudding Lovers Month.

10 Interesting Facts About Forever Winter by Amber Daulton

I’m happy to welcome back multi-published author, Amber Daulton. Today, Amber shares interesting facts about her new release, Forever Winter.

Here’s Amber!

Thank you for letting me visit today, Joanne. I’m excited to share ten awesome facts about my new release.

1. Forever Winter isn’t a new book. Not really. It was originally published in a Christmas-themed anthology with Bradley Publishing back in 2012. The publisher went under two months after the release, but luckily, one of the authors I met who also wrote for Bradley suggested I submit my story to her other publisher, Books to Go Now. Thankfully, BTGN accepted Forever Winter in 2013 and re-released it as an individual book. It stayed there for years until the rights reverted to me a few months back.

2. Forever Winter is my debut book.

3. I’ve given it a makeover with a fresh cover and edit for the re-release. I’ve also added a new subplot, which carries strongly throughout the book. Honestly, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it when I first wrote the book almost ten years ago.

4. I love graphic design, so I created the cover for Forever Winter myself. After a couple failed attempts and repeat visits to the drawing board, I finally created something I really liked that also got great feedback from the artists and authors in my book design groups.

5. I prefer to write sensual to smoking hot romance, but Forever Winter is one of two sweet, no on-page sex stories in my backlist. (The other is Lightning Over Bennett Ranch.)

6. I love historical romances, and the Regency period is one of my favorite eras. Most Regency books take place in the heyday of the era—between 1811-1820—but the time period typically ranges from 1795 to 1837. Anyway, Forever Winter is set in 1834, an oddity in the world of Regency romances.

7. Most romance books begin with the protagonists meeting and falling in love with maybe a quick, sappy wedding ceremony before the book ends. Not so in Forever Winter! The reader meets Susanna and Camden on their wedding day. They’ve already courted for a year and are now ready to begin their married life together. Don’t let this put you off from the book, though! It’s a complete, standalone novella that focuses on a single day in the lives of two people who are madly in love.

8. Weddings in the Regency period were typically low-key affairs for the common-folk and just a little better for the wealthy. Most took place in a church before noon, but if you obtained a special license—which was very expensive—you could marry wherever you wanted at whatever time you liked. In addition to the bride, groom, priest, and two witnesses being present, family and friends could of course attend, but few people traveled to attend a ceremony. It was just too expensive, difficult, and time consuming to travel from town to town or clear across the country to witness an event that would be over in less than an hour. There wasn’t a big to-do about the flowers, seating arrangement, or the dress, though some wealthy women did buy a new dress for the ceremony, which they later wore as a regular dress. In Forever Winter, Camden purchases a special license and Susanna orders a new dress, but their big day doesn’t compare to the extravaganzas lots of people throw today.

9. Susanna and Camden’s wedding day tanks! Everything that could go wrong, goes wrong in a spectacular fashion. If I were Susanna, I probably would’ve postponed the wedding, but she didn’t have that option—not as a young woman living under the strict rules of 19th century England. Poor girl.

10. Forever Winter shows the strength of love, friendship, and mutual respect in the face of adversity and that no matter what happens, love will prevail.


A perfect Christmas wedding, a snowstorm, and a shocking secret. What could go wrong?

Susanna Lorican must marry the man she loves before the truth is discovered, or face the gossip of the ton. With an unexpected snowstorm injuring the minister, her future hangs in the balance.
Viscount Camden Beckinworth vows to keep his bride safe, even if he must betray her confidence. When their love is put to the test, how will he uphold her honor without jeopardizing his own?

– Warning: this sweet, complete Regency romance novella features a brief scene where the heroine is assaulted.

– Second edition. Newly revised and edited.


Will their love withstand the storm to come?


“Susanna, please, talk to me. Let me know your thoughts.”

He grasped her arms in a firm but gentle hold. Did he expect her to flee rather than confide in him? She couldn’t lie to him, nor did she want to. The truth spilled from her lips in a rush—her shame, her frustration, her anger. Everything poured out of her, except for the most precious reason of all.

“Oh, my darling.” He pressed her close to his chest.

She sniffled. His rich scent of smoke and pure male radiated from him in a soothing balm she scarcely deserved. “I-I planned the perfect wedding but never imagined things might go wrong. I didn’t consider anyone but myself. If I could change what I did, I would, but it’s too late. Too much is underway.” She gritted her teeth and pulled back from Camden’s embrace. She wrapped her arms around her churning stomach and paced again.

As Camden rubbed his creased brow, she bit back a cry of frustration. He tried so hard to be patient with her. Every fiber in his body probably urged him to snatch her arm, pin her against his chest, and kiss her until she melted in a puddle at his feet. She almost wished he would. Who cared about the gossip that might ensue if someone caught them in the act?

“You were right.” Susanna pressed her knuckles against her aching temples. “Mama was right. A spring wedding would have been wonderful, but with my luck, these catastrophes would have happened regardless.”

“There is always the possibility of something bad happening—rain, wind, anything. The dress still might have been late, or a highwayman could have robbed the coach and stolen it. The reverend could have fallen from his horse on a dry road.”

His words rang with truth, but the misery clenching her heart doubled.

Camden blocked her path. “I’m glad you chose today, the anniversary of the day my life changed for the better. I will never forget your blue muslin dress, or how you moaned over your hurt ankle then clammed up when you saw me. You were so stubborn, so beautiful, that I lost my voice. I had never truly seen you until that moment.”

She flushed warm as the memory calmed her racing heart.

She’d been playing with a few of the servants’ children in the courtyard when she fell and twisted her ankle. While the children hurried off to find help, Camden found her and carried her inside. They were inseparable for the rest of the evening. Though his kiss in the library startled her so much that she’d slapped him, her heart had soared and nearly split her rib cage.

He suckled her lower lip between his teeth until a moan escaped her throat. He pulled back and stared deep into her eyes. “You are so kind, darling. I wish you realized that.”

“How could you believe such a falsehood? I’m selfish and—”

“Would a selfish woman invite servants to her wedding, and their brood?” He cupped her cheek. “Of course not. You wanted them to enjoy this day too. I have seen the way the children—both your flesh and blood and the others—gravitate to you. Your goodness calls to them.” He tapped his palm on her upper chest, right above her heart. “If something else happens and prohibits our union, God forbid, we will marry as soon as possible. Nothing will keep me away from you.” He hooked a stray lock of her hair behind her ear and lowered his mouth to hers.

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Purchase Links

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About the Author

Amber Daulton is the author of the romantic-suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through Daulton Publishing, The Wild Rose Press, and Books to Go Now, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats.

She lives in North Carolina with her husband and demanding cats.

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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.


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?


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

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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

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Happy October!

This month’s name came from the Latin octo (meaning eight) because this was the eighth month of the early Roman calendar. When the Romans converted to a twelve-month calendar, they didn’t change the name, even though it’s now the tenth month of the year.

In Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of the month while Hallowe’en is celebrated on October 31st.

Here are 10 interesting facts about October:

1. On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas.

2. October babies are more likely see their 100th birthday than those born in other months. One theory: These babies were less exposed to seasonal illnesses since they avoided the extreme high and low temperatures of summer and winter.

3. People born between October 1st and October 22nd were born under the star sign of Libra while those born later in the month are under Scorpio. Compassionate and empathetic, Libras dislike conflict and avoid confrontations. Scorpios can be intimidating, but they are also the most loyal friends.

4. More American presidents were born in October than any other month.

5. A busy month for food lovers, October has been designated the national month for pizza, cookies, sausages, popcorn, and dessert.

6. October has also been designated as Italian American Heritage Month, Polish American Heritage Month, Breast Cancer Month, Healthy Lungs Month, Country Music Month, National Book Fair Month, and National Roller Skating Month.

7. Tourmaline and opal are the official birthstones of October.

8. October’s birth flowers are the cosmos and the calendula.

9. October is a big mating season for elk, white-tailed deer, moose, and porcupines.

10. A poem for October:

October glows on every cheek,
October shines in every eye,
While up the hill and down the dale,
Her crimson banners fly.
Elaine Goodale Eastman

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.


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?


“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.

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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.

Happy National Live Creative Day!

Today is National Live Creative Day, a day set aside to dream, discover, and invent. Consider resurrecting an old hobby, participating in a favorite pastime, or exploring a new passion.

If you’re feeling stuck, here are ten quotes to spark your imagination:

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.”
Maya Angelou

“What keeps life fascinating is the constant creativity of the soul.”
Deepak Chopra

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Albert Einstein

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” Erich Fromm

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” Steve Jobs

“The creative adult is the child who survived.” Ursula Leguin

“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” Jack London

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” Sophia Loren

“Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.” Pablo Picasso

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” Sylvia Plath

10 Favorite Books from Linda Griffin’s Bookshelves

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Linda Griffin. Today, Linda shares her favorite books and new release, Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking.

Here’s Linda!

Thank you for having me, Joanne! I don’t know what these choices say about me and my work, but here are my 10 Favorite Books:

1. Fun with Dick and Jane by William S. Gray. That might sound like a joke, but I dedicated The Rebound Effect to “Dick and Jane, who first ignited my passion for the printed word.” It represents the miracle of learning to read, and I read it out loud to everyone in the house, including two captive kittens, one under each arm, and then I read it backward! As soon as I figured out somebody had to create those words, I knew I wanted to be a “book maker” when I grew up.

2. Half Magic by Edward Eager. I read this so many times as a child that I can still recite the first several pages. Four children acquire a magic coin that gives them half of anything they wish for, with adventurous and humorous results.

3. Karen by Marie Killilea. Marie was a founder of the Cerebral Palsy Association, and Karen was her daughter. I first read it when I was too young to understand all the words—I remember that decade and articulation threw me—but Karen was my hero. I’ve read it many times since and know the ending by heart. Karen’s story is cited in my story “All the Bells and Whistles,” published in Toasted Cheese in June 2021.

4. Ever After by Elswyth Thane. It’s part of her Williamsburg series, but was my particular favorite. The hero, Bracken Murray, was my ideal man through high school and college. He’s a journalist and his work takes him to many places, including up San Juan Hill in 1898. He’s also in love with young Dinah Campion, and the course of true love never did run smooth. There are probably traces of him in all of my books’ leading men.

5. Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn. This was my favorite when I was in college, an interracial love story set during the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties. It “raised my consciousness” as we called it then, and maybe it influenced my own interracial romance, Guilty Knowledge, although they’re very different.

6. A History of God by Karen Armstrong. The focus is on the three major monotheistic religions, but the book delves into other religions as well, and traces the development of man’s ideas about God as they changed over the centuries. Armstrong is uniquely qualified as a religious scholar, and she’s written a beautiful book.

7. A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard. I think this book gave me PTSD the first time I read it, but I keep going back to it. It’s raw and messy and harrowing, but her strength and courage shine through. Reading it led me to similar memoirs, such as Hope by Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus and 3,096 Days by Natasha Kampusch, and to the writing of several captivity stories of my own. One of them, “Rumpelstiltskin,” was published in Eclectica, April/May 2018.

8. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. If everyone, introverts and extroverts alike, would read this, we would all understand ourselves and each other much better. Cain examines every aspect of the subject in fascinating detail, including how we can accommodate our differences at work and in relationships.

9. A Call to Action by Jimmy Carter. Not a political text at all, but a carefully researched and insightful work about the treatment of women all over the world. He points out how entitled white males of every religion have distorted sacred texts in order to oppress women, and how costly the denial of women’s rights is to the world.

10. Hunger by Roxane Gay. A searingly honest memoir by a talented writer who struggles with a traumatic past and fat shaming. I’ve loved everything I’ve ever read by her, but this one can give you a whole new perspective.


She wants to be friends. And he wants so much more.

Software engineer Reid Lucas loves to cook and has a history of falling in love with married women. When he leaves his complicated past in Chicago for a job in California, he runs into trouble and must call a virtual stranger to bail him out of jail. Alyssa Knight, a tough street cop waiting for a church annulment from her passive-aggressive husband, is the roommate of the woman Reid calls for help, and she reluctantly provides bail for Reid. He falls for her immediately, and cooking for her is an act of love. She just wants to be friends, but they keep ending up in bed together. When his boss is murdered, Reid is a suspect—or is he the intended target?


Alyssa gave him a smile that suggested she wasn’t fooled. She was knowing and affectionate and so pretty he couldn’t resist her. He put a hand on her knee and leaned in to kiss her. Her mouth was soft and willing, and he put down the coffee cup and took her face in both hands.

After a long, intense interval of suspended time, she pulled away and rested her forehead against his. “Oh, Reid,” she said—half disapproval, half sighing acquiescence. He stroked her breast, and her breathing quickened, and he slid a hand over her nylon-clad knee and under her skirt to find bare thigh. “Don’t,” she said.

He paused but didn’t withdraw his hand. “Is that no?” he asked.

She sighed. “Not yet,” she said, but she was warning him too, not to go too far, beyond the point of no return. Only it was hard to know where that was.

Author Bio and Links

I was born and raised in San Diego, California, and although I love to travel, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I retired as fiction librarian for the San Diego Public Library to spend more time on my writing and have had stories of every length and various genres published in numerous journals. Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking is my fourth romantic suspense novel from The Wild Rose Press, after Guilty Knowledge (2020), The Rebound Effect (2019), and Seventeen Days (2018). In addition to the three Rs—reading, writing, and research, I enjoy Scrabble, movies, and visiting museums and art galleries.

You can find me here:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Buy Links

And some of Reid’s recipes can be found here.