Tink...tink...tink...anyone out there? Hi! I'm Barbara Donlon Bradley - Author - editor and slightly crazy - ask anyone in my family. I hope to use this blog to talk about writing, editing and whatever pops in my head. Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A New Release By Beverly Ovalle - Triple D Dude Ranch #rhacafe


Triple D Dude Ranch
By Beverly Ovalle
Published by Secret Cravings Publishing
October 4, 2014



Tagline:
One look ignites a smolder between Dan and Blaire, one touch sparks a wildfire that burns out of control, hotter than the Texas sun.

Blurb:
Blaire is a freelance photographer on assignment. She is heading home to Texas, armed with her camera to do a photo feature for the Tribune. Taking photos of the dude ranch, she gets an eyeful of an uninhibited cowboy through her lens. The summer heat of Texas has nothing on the heat he generates in her.

Dan was expecting a photographer but not the sexy urban cowgirl that arrived. He knew it was hot out, he just hadn’t expected the hot and sexy woman to make him burn the minute he caught sight of her. One look and he had to quench this fire inside.

One touch between Dan and Blaire sparks a wildfire that burns hotter than the Texas summer and is just as hard to put out.

Available:

Excerpt:
Graduation had her moving to Chicago. After a couple of years of living and working there, she realized that Chicago couldn’t give her the life she thought she’d wanted. What she wanted was right here in Texas, so when she got this assignment she packed her bags, subletted her apartment, and headed home.
The GPS announced she was there. Looking around, Blaire spotted the driveway; it was hard to miss. The wrought iron arch over the drive simply proclaimed Triple D Dude Ranch. She frowned. The drive was just as dusty as the road and there was not a hotel in sight.
Sighing, Blaire put on her signal and pulled over. She stopped and grabbed her camera. A picture of the arch, with the wrought iron words showcasing the name, would be a perfect shot. Blaire opened her door and groaned as the leather made a sucking sound as she peeled herself off. Maybe she shouldn’t have shucked her panties at that last stop. She hadn’t thought about peeling herself off the leather seats, only how infernally hot the day was. Stepping out, she looked both ways before she minced to the opposite side of the road. The heels of the unfamiliar and recently purchased cowboy boots and the long drive had made her a bit wobbly.
Blaire lifted her camera, uncovering the lens and holding the cap in her hand. No dust on the lens, she was glad to see. It wouldn’t have surprised her at all if there were. She felt like every crevice of her body had grit in it. Her cute Western outfit might never be the same. She felt wilted from head to toe. Lining up the arch in her lens, Blaire cursed as she dropped the lens cap on the ground. One of these days she’d remember to attach it with the string to the camera itself.
“Damn it!” Bending over from the waist, she picked up the cap from the ground; after all, it was a good opportunity to do one of her daily stretches. Blaire tucked it in the pocket on the front of her cute little denim skirt as she stood, like she should have in the first place.
Lining up the arch once again, Blaire could see that the dust continued, the drive a little smoother than the road coming in. Shaking her head, she snapped a picture. Moving around, she tried to capture it from different angles. She could always delete the ones that didn’t work.
Finishing, Blaire decided she’d had enough of the arch. There had to be at least one good one. She started back to the car when she heard a noise and whirled around.
Her breath caught and she instinctively lifted the camera for a shot. Holy hotness! That was          a real cowboy. Her eyes widened as she looked through the lens, quickly snapping a picture.

Author bio:
Beverly Ovalle lives in Wisconsin with her husband Edmond of 25 years and two Chinese Water Dragons. Having her own Dragons is expected as she is dragon crazy and anyone that walks in her house can tell. Her son Nicholas visits when he is on leave from the Marines.  Her daughter Susannah visits from time to time to make sure us ‘old’ folks are alive and kicking.

Beverly has traveled around the world thanks to five years in the US Navy and has worked for the government in one capacity or another for the past 30 years. Beverly and her brothers have travelled most of the continental United States as children due to the station wagon from Hell.  Still active with veterans, she is adjutant for her local AMVETS.

Beverly has been reading romances since her Aunt introduced her to the gothic romance in the fourth grade and is still reading every chance she gets.

Contact Links:
LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/BeverlyOvalle


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Saturday, September 27, 2014

I have a new Guest! E. Ayers #mfrwauthor

I want to welcome, Elizabeth a.k.a E. Ayers. First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

Let me say thanks, Barb, for inviting me. Barb and I can actually share a pot of coffee, except our schedules make that near impossible! I’ll even tattle on her and tell ya’ll that she’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet in this business! She’s extremely organized, highly efficient, has a brilliant creative mind, is probably one of the best sci-fi writers today, and has an unbelievably hectic life. I’m honored to call her a friend.

Aww, thanks E! You got me blushing.

I try to live a very boring life, except I’ve never succeeded. I like peace and tranquility, and somehow obtaining it is elusive. I live in a pre-Civil War home that is way too big for just me, but I love this old house. Well, most of the time I do, actually only when everything is working the way it should, which probably means three weeks out of the year – if I’m lucky. The rest of the time I curse it.
I have a computer room that is centrally located and it’s where I stay. It was the large formal dinning room. I can close it off from the rest of the house and hibernate in here. There’s plenty of light from two big windows and a third skinny window on the north side. The room is constantly in severe need of a good cleaning, and it needs re-arranging. The problem is if I’m in here, I’m at the computer writing, editing, making covers, or doing something related to publishing. That doesn’t get the room clean.

I’m widowed with two grown daughters and now grown granddaughters. The youngest grandchild just graduated from high school. I keep telling my oldest daughter that I had her when I was two. She swears I don’t have to lie about being in my forties, because she’s only twenty-nine. Yes, I raised her right!

I’m too young to be a widow and too old to try to train another husband. Besides I had a wonderful, fantastic man who could have been a role model for almost any romance novel complete with a fantastic body. Most people never find such a guy so why would I even think I’d ever find a second one? I’m not sure I subscribe to the theory that you have to be looking to find something, but I haven’t bothered to look.

Tell us about your latest release.

My latest releases all came at once. The Authors of Main Street decided to do a boxed set of wedding themed books. I had an idea for a story and jumped on it. My heroine was going to strike out on her own and have her own bridal design business. The rest of the gang from Main Street thought it was a great idea, too, and they wanted to order bridal dresses from my character. I dove in, typing as quickly as I can (which is quite slow – peck, peck), and when I came up for air, I was in big trouble. I was supposed to be writing a novella of twenty-five thousand words. Oops! I was almost there and nowhere near the end. I didn’t want to cut everything away from my story. I’d have to start over again. That’s when another author from Main Street suggested I use someone from the Main Street Bridal Salon and write the shorter story. I had the perfect person, the daughter of the hero in the first story.

My mistake turned into my writing two books. The first one is a novel, With This Ring. It’s the story of DeeDee Drayden and her dreams of having her own successful bridal business. She was an only child and the product of a broken marriage. She doesn’t really believe in a happily ever after, especially since her only serious relationship ended when she caught her guy cheating.

Cody Montgomery has two failed marriages in his past and a pack of kids from those marriages. He’s sworn off women until he meets DeeDee. But chipping away at her tough exterior isn’t easy. With four teenagers, a pre-teen, and a set of young twin boys, hot dates are near impossible, especially when trying to set a good example for his children.

I Thee Wed is a novella. Julia Montgomery is Cody’s oldest adopted daughter. She was the boy-crazy teen who hated school, but decided she wanted to work for DeeDee in her salon. It was the best decision she’d ever made. She loves working there and working for DeeDee.

Aaron Symons spotted Julia while he was making a delivery to the salon. For him, it was love at first sight. But he was headed back for his final year at the university and his PhD. Long distance relationships aren’t easy, and Julia has no idea who she really is.

I Thee Wed is in the boxed set, Weddings on Main Street by the Authors of Main Street. Each novella has a wedding theme. I Thee Wed is also available as a single title.

On top of those releases, I have a River City novel, Campaign, which released in July. I would have never scheduled all of this together - three books in forty days. Totally unplanned, everything came together at the same time. May was chaos and June - only been a tad better. July finally calmed down-somewhat. August showed me I could still breathe.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
From the Roadrunner cartoons, Wile E. Coyote! He’s hysterical. He’s an absolute genius, yet nothing goes the way it should. He’s also rather harmless to everyone but himself. It’s the epitome of a thriller. Roadrunner knows exactly who the bad guy is and that the bad guy wants to kill him. Plus you have to admit the dialog is fast paced, beep-beep!

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
That’s a tough question, because I have several favorite male characters. But hands down, so far, my favorite female character is Dallas from A New Beginning. She’s had this whole screwed-up childhood, yet she’s super intelligent and a gifted artist. When Rick takes her in, she’s a foul-mouthed teen who is, in her own way, starving for positive attention and respect as a person. She’s got this hello-world-I-am-here way about her, yet she can be quiet and withdrawn, very yin and yang. She was a wonderful, but a difficult character to write. Once she’s with Rick, this huge choking fog lifts from her and she can be herself. Making her believable was tough, and Rick didn’t make my job very easy. He was such a solid rock of a guy that trying to pry the emotion out in him was extremely challenging. But he was exactly what Dallas needed and his love for her grew as she matured.

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
Mostly I write contemporary and occasionally western historical. I’m extremely mainstream but with the happily-ever-after of a romance. What I write is almost biographical. It’s called slice-of-life. I pick up the romantic portion of two lives and write their life, not just the romance. Today, people have jobs and it’s very much a part of who they are. Most can’t take a two-hour lunch. I keep the realism in it.

I’m very comfortable writing it. I look around and there is this endless supply of fodder for it. It’s just there and I use it. I think it’s funny when people say I’ve been sneaking in their kitchen because they totally relate to that scene. The truth is we all do those quirky things, and I add that to my writing.

4.) What are you working on now?
I’ve got two more River City books in the works, a historical western diary, another Creeds Crossing historical, a contemporary (In Wyoming) romance, a sequel to Mariner’s Cove, and another wedding story. I’ve been at such a hectic pace for over three years, with virtually no time off, that I needed to step away. Real life called me to do a few things such as clean my house! It would be totally impossible for me to walk away from the computer for any serious length of time, but for several hours each day I worked on finding my house under the dust and clutter. Unfortunately that time away gave quite a few characters time to play, create stories, and in general bug me to write them.

5.) What got you to start writing?
I’d been writing non-fiction for years. Also I wrote stories for my children to keep them reading. Then I settled into writing YA/Middle Grade fiction with no idea how to publish it.
That’s when my best friend’s daughter, who wrote romance for one of the big NY publishing companies, stepped into the picture. She was also a founder of a successful epub back in the day when no one knew what epubs were. She twisted my arm, and beat me over the head until I acquiesced to write romance. Now I’m glad I did.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
Everywhere! Bits and pieces of real life filter into my head and get caught in there. Get enough little pieces and they start jelling together. Suddenly I have characters emerging or a storyline that begins to form.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
A year ago, I would have said nothing, but after writing A Calling in Wyoming, I think people would be shocked to discover that I’m an atheist. People assume it’s a preachy sort of story when it’s not. I wasn’t raised in a vacuum. My family was Christian and I was wed in a Catholic Church. When my husband and I moved to Virginia, we lived with some family members for a few months. The husband was the pastor of a small church. Oh, the stories I could tell. Oh, wait, I did tell some of them as I wrote the book.

But seriously, it’s a hard look at a young man who considered himself to be a good Christian. He’s got a great job, and life is everything he ever wanted. Then he gets asked to take on this small rural church in the middle of nowhere and he’s being asked to do it for paltry pay. How does anyone ever decide to do something like that?

How do any of us ever decide what we should or should not do? I wrote a line and I think it sums up the feeling for so many people when facing a fork in the road and we need to make a decision. He prayed for a sign, a bolt of lightning…four flat tires…something…anything. We all want some sort of road map for our lives and the truth is there is none. Decisions must be made and once made, we just keep going.

8.) Do you have any special talents?
Absolutely nothing that I will admit… No, really nothing. I’ve done some interesting things over years but nothing special. I can’t sing, dance, or play the piano. I can wire, plumb, and shingle a house, change tires and oil, and use most any power tool. (That doesn’t mean I want to do them! Only that I know how.) I can sew, cook, and bake. I love to paint, but usually work in pen and ink. I enjoy photography and canoeing. But there’s no super talent in there anyplace. Everything is a learned skill.
Even writing is a learned skill. I learned to read and write, and write, and write! As a child, I could write my way out of a paper bag and get an A on an essay. Unfortunately I’m cursed with an overactive imagination. When I was little, I never paid attention in school. I got what the teacher was saying the first time. After that, I’d mentally wander off to play with the children in my head. I was always in trouble for daydreaming in school.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
There are two things. One is never give up and the second is to learn everything you can about the business. You have no idea how many times I wanted to throw in the towel and give up publishing books. I doubt I could ever stop my mind from churning out the stories, but getting them out there is not easy. There’s always something new to learn in this business and considering I’m independently publishing, I’ve got to know what is going on because it will affect me and what I do. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but it could make a big difference a year from now and I must be prepared for it.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
I could give you a list a mile long of people from the past. But I’m afraid I might be disappointed that they weren’t as wonderful as history has made them, and the idea of traveling back in time doesn’t hold much appeal.

But, I’d be thrilled to have an afternoon with Laura Bush. I’d love to know what it really was like living in the White House, trying to raise teenagers that were under a microscope, and how she copes even today with the publicity – both good and bad. And I’d love to do the same with Rosalynn Carter. They both seem like such lovely women and yet very different. Do I get to put in a request for both of them?

11.) What song would you say describes your life?
There’s nothing that would cover my life, but when I heard Roberta Flack sing The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, I knew instantly that was my love for my husband. She nailed it. I try not to cry when I hear it.

12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?
A red-faced buzzard aka turkey vulture, they are the ugliest birds, and the thought of eating carrion has no appeal, but I love to watch them soar in the sky. When the red-faced ones spread their wings, they appear to have fingertips on the ends. They just catch a current and ride it seemingly forever. They are so beautiful in flight. There’s not another bird that I am familiar with that flies the way they do. I want to be able to fly like that.

(The black-faced ones don’t have those “fingertip” feathers, and they have to flap their wings more frequently. It’s a fast way of identifying them during flight.)

It’s not that I ever want to be a turkey buzzard; I just would love to be able to fly the way they do. To have nothing better to do in a day than enjoy a long ride on an air current seems so wonderfully peaceful. There’s a tiny airport not far from here that tows gliders up into the air. Think I need to take flying lessons?



“That bitch thinks she’s too good to even talk to anyone. Her and her fancy clothes all cuddled up to Brad Shoemaker. She’s going to rub everyone’s nose into the fact that she’s got the best catch in town.” A breathy female voice could be heard from someplace behind Ryn.
Brad wrapped his arm around Ryn and held her close as the pain of what the woman said chewed at her insides. She curled her fingers around Brad’s hand as she watched Dallas cut her gaze in the direction of the voice.
“Would you like me to set the woman straight?” Brad asked in a whisper.
Ryn shook her head.
“Well, I’m not going to sit here and say nothing.” Dallas frowned. “I won’t tolerate a guest in my house being rude.”
Ryn held up her hand and shook her head. She mouthed. “Please, no.”
Maybe Brad was right and walking around with a placard that said I’m mute would make it easier for both of us. Layers of anger, aggravation, self-pity, denial, and depression wrapped her heart as it pounded in her chest.
She never thought of herself as living a sheltered life, but she realized she had. Wealth had blanketed her, protecting her from the real world. Sitting on a picnic bench with Brad while a jealous female made obnoxious comments was about as far from her world as she could get.
How many times had she told her students that they could do anything they wanted to do and be whatever they wanted to be? Beethoven continued to write music after he was deaf, Marlee Matlin was deaf and won an Oscar, Stevie Wonder and Jose Feliciano became musical superstars, Julliette Gordon Low, the poet Homer... names of famous disabled people who had accomplished great things flowed through her mind.
What a fraud she had become. She wanted to turn tail and run. She didn’t have the guts to stand up to a lone female.



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Lisa Carlisle is in a few new Bundles! #RHACafe


THIRST: A Vampire Romance Boxed Set





THIRST: An EIGHT Author Vampire Bundle of Edgy Vampires that THIRST for the one. Deliciously inhuman, paranormal sexiness!
ONLY ONE MONTH LEFT TO ORDER! GRAB IT BEFORE IT'S GONE FOREVER! *NO CLIFFHANGERS*


Are you THIRSTING for the unusual? Try thousand-year-old vampires, Latin and French vamps, vampire Earls, sexy Native American vampires and even berserker vampires! This bundle will slake your THIRST for otherworldly, hot and sexy, unique vampire stories.
EIGHT creative and original stories that prove, one little seductive bite doesn't hurt.
------
Vampire Berserker by Carl East: A vampire that needs to feed on other vampires in order to survive.
The Vampire and the Rose by Yvonne Anthony: Rose’s mother has often warned her to stay away from dark places—especially at night, but curious Rose will ignore the warnings, jumping headlong into danger with startling consequences.
Dark Velvet by Lisa Carlisle: Savannah is thrilled for her residency at an art colony where she meets the sculptor Antoine. She discovers his dark secret, putting her life in jeopardy.
Vampire Lords of Blacknall by Shirl Anders: Only a creature of the night can save her. Lady Beth never stays home in the evenings. She fears her evil stepbrother. Then a monster stalks her in the dark and she cannot tell beast from savior.
The Vixen Torn by J.E. & M. Keep: Anjasa has been through the worst parts of hell and come back from it wounded but stronger. A trained assassin and courtesan, she’s seen the worst in others… and herself.
When Comes the Night by Anita Dobs: Trying to leave a troubled past far behind, Stacy escapes to England, but gets more than she bargained for when she meets Rafe Hawkins, the mysterious C.E.O at the renowned Sirius Advertising Agency.
Ash: Before Dawn by Skye Eagleday: Ash drank deeply of the blood of his enemies at Custer’s Last Stand. Now the beautiful Native American Vampire hunts in the gay bars of Seattle, where he will face an ancient Vampire far more deadly than the troops at Little Big Horn. Will he and his new human lover be able to use his powers of seduction and warrior skills to survive until dawn?
Love Blind by Claudia D. Christian: 1978. Rio de Janeiro. Josephine made a desperate bargain with a vampire named Julio Alberto. Her life for another. Kept in a gilded cage, will she ever allow herself to truly love her charming captor?
Buy now for only 99 cents. Only available for one month until it's gone forever!

HIGHLAND SHIFTERS: Paranormal Romance Boxed Set



12 scorching hot shifter romances for only $0.99!
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NO cliffhangers!


Find out what's under that kilt in this collection of steamy shapeshifter romances! NY Times and USA Today bestselling authors such as Selena Kitt, Michelle Fox, Tabitha Conall, Adriana Hunter and Liliana Rhodes offer stories featuring hot alpha shifters in kilts. Most of the 12 stories in the collection are brand new! 

Are you ready to peek under the plaid?
Her Scottish Alpha by Tabitha Conall: In the midst of trying to figure out their mating, Alpha werewolf Lachlan and dragon slayer Keira have to find Keira's missing sister, fight a war and save Lachlan's life.

Liulf by Victoria Danann: For two thousand years the Scotia werewolves have enjoyed the protection of the Fae Monarchy, but the world is changing and the tribe must adapt or face extinction. Or move.

Highland Wolf Pact by Selena Kitt: Englishwoman Sibyl Blackthorne escapes her arranged marriage to a cruel Scot only to find herself in the arms of something even more dangerous - and discovers only one wild heart can claim another.

Kiss the Dragon by Michelle Fox: A cursed dragon finds his maiden is already claimed by the future. If he can't save her, she can't save him.

By the Light of the Scottish Moon by Red Phoenix: Bryn, the pack leader, is so lost in his own pain he can't see beyond it. Freya is dying & has come home to Scotland.to say goodbye. Her fate lies in his hands - but to save her he must kill her.

The Highlander's Mate by Liliana Rhodes: Centuries after an ancient curse on his clan tore werewolf Bran MacCulloch away from his mate Ainsley Drummond, he catches her scent on the breeze. But how can it be her?

Highland Moon Rising by Sarah Makela: When wereleopard Caitlyn returns home to see her werewolf half-brother after he’s rescued from scientists, she’s imprisoned by the Pack. Will the Alpha who hungers for her be the protector she needs?

Knights of Stone by Lisa Carlisle: Gargoyles, tree witches, and shifters have divided their Scottish isle. When a witch breaches into another territory, she's tempted by a forbidden attraction that may affect the future for all.

The Zrakon's Curse by Linda Barlow: Sea dragon shifter Colin Malloch's need for a mate draws a woman from another world into grave danger. How can he keep her safe when his own brother demands her life?

To Tame a Highlander by Adriana Hunter: Curvy nurse Aspyn Montgomery's night takes a sudden turn when a patient she watched die suddenly turns up at her apartment desperately needing help. Can fated love triumph over the threat of war?

Roots and Fang by Skye Eagleday & Ripley Sage: When McKay takes a male Fae lover it triggers the deadly jealousy of the powerful Pooka shape-shifter the Fae abandoned. Can love conquer all when only one of you is human?

Midnight Hunt by Arial Burnz: As Broderick unravels the mystery of why Monika reminds him of his late wife, his quest for answers causes a chain of events, starting a witch hunt, dooming them both to the fiery stake of judgment.


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Saturday, September 20, 2014

My New guest: Please welcome Rhonda Strehlow


I want to welcome Rhonda Strehlow! First I’d love you to introduce yourself.
Tell us about your latest release.

My latest, and first, release is Second Act. 

Cassie Burns loses her husband and her children try to persuade her to buy a condo and act like a grandmother.  Instead she takes her first solo trip to Eagle River, Wisconsin where she had a chance encounter with mysterious Kurt Troy and Will Harley who introduces her to the beauty and wonders of farming.
Cassie begins a dual existence of soul-affirming work with Will’s family interspersed with spontaneous, intense romantic encounters with Kurt who turns out to be a popular retro singer.

After a wonderful summer, a tragedy sends Cassie packing and heading for home.  Kurt intercedes and invites her to stay with him.  There time alone is intensely sexual but the reality of living in a booze, sex and drug culture intrudes on their haven.  Before a big award presentation, in an effort to erase the affects of time, Cassie become fanatical bout vanity surgeries, exercise, pills and bulimia and ends up in the hospital.
As she recovers she needs to decide how she will play out her Second Act.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
The book I’m currently working on has a person called Brett who messed with the life of the protagonist when she was young.  I’m enjoying creating him because I don’t want to develop a one-dimensional evil character so my challenge is to understand why he does what he does and help my readers relate to him.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
I like Kurt Troy because he is alive and sensuous and flawed.  In other words, an ideal man!

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
I write romance.  I picked that one because my first book was sensuous and I didn’t really know what category it fit in.  I still don’t.  Perhaps it is chick lit.  I’m still learning this authoring business!

4.) What are you working on now?
After my second book, Separate Lives was chosen by Melange, I knew I wasn’t done telling the story of auctioneer Honor Horton, who is my main character.  There are so many venues left to explore with her so my third book, One More Night, tells another chapter in her life.

5.) What got you to start writing?
I’ve been writing for most of my life but when I was downsized from my job suddenly I was given the gift of time thereby reducing the barriers to pursuing my dream.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
Everywhere!  Overheard conversations, reading people’s faces, attending auctions—I’m an auction junkie!  Actually the genesis of my first book came from a tiny incident that I included in the book.  I was walking down the streets of Chicago and a handsome man grabbed my arm and warned me not to swing my purse.  We instantly connected and spent the next two hours talking.  He never told me his name and I never saw him again but he is Kurt Troy.  I wonder if he realizes what an impact he had on me!

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
I try to balance the time I spend in my head with physical activity.  I love to garden, bike and even split wood!

8.) Do you have any special talents?
I make great homemade breads!

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
I’m an introvert so I never told anyone I wanted to be an author. 

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
In Second Act there is a character named Winston.  He is a virile, 70 year old who is an avid reader and still a dreamer.  I would like to talk with him about how he keeps his dreams alive.

11.) What song would you say describes your life?
Anything by Phil Collins but Separate Lives just speaks to me.

12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?

Something sleek, perhaps a panther.

Second Act by Rhonda Strehlow

Second Act
When CASSIE BURNS' husband dies her children think she should move into a condo and act like a grandmother. Instead she plans her first solo trip to a resort in Eagle River, Wisconsin.

In a chance encounter she meets mysterious Kurt Troy whose touch makes her "buzz" with excitement and Will Harley who introduces her to the beauty and wonders of farming.
Cassie begins a dual existence of soul-affirming work with Will's caring family interspersed with spontaneous, intense romantic encounters with Kurt.

When Will's ex-wife returns, Cassie reluctantly decides to head back to her safe and predictable future. On the way home, she unexpectedly encounters Kurt who invites her to move in with him and she impulsively agrees.

Their time alone is intensely sexual but the reality of living in booze, sex and drug culture intrudes on their haven. Before a big awards presentation, in an effort to erase the affects of time, Cassie becomes fanatical about vanity surgeries, exercise, pills, and bulimia until she overdoses two days before the big night and ends up in the hospital.

As she recovers, how does Cassie choose to play out her Second Act?


Excerpt
Chapter One
What day is it? It is spring? Possibly early spring I think. Or is it late winter? It has been a long time since I knew or cared what month it is let alone what day it is. I didn’t know I could feel this tired. It has been a long time coming. How long? I have to think, almost nine years. I looked in the mirror and do not recognize the person I see there: lank gray hair, when did I color it last? My skin is sallow; I look ill. I can’t remember the last time I slept through the night. Always listening. And waiting. When was the last time I exercised? Or saw the sun. Even my brain feels fuzzy.

I squint as I step onto the deck. Lassie walks out behind me; poor, neglected dog. She needs a walk and a good brushing. She looks hopeful so I pick up the leash and clip it to her collar. She starts tugging and I let her; all of the obedience school tricks escape me now. It is just the two of us walking down the street. Tentatively old Mr. Kamps waves. I know he wants to talk but I just nod, point to Lassie and walk on. My friend, Juliet, is weeding her flowers but doesn’t look up so I dodge that bullet, too. I don’t want to talk. No more words of sympathy, thank you. We walk faster. Lassie’s excited. I’m numb.

The neighborhood is quiet, well it is Tuesday at—I check my watch, and it isn’t on my wrist. I don’t know where I put it; where I have been time didn’t matter.

It is two hours before we get back to the house. Lassie is spent; she walks in a neat little circle then lies on the carpet in front of the sofa. That used to be her watch station since Gordie spent so much of the last few years in that same spot.

I’m still numb. When we enter I experience incredible quiet—the quiet of emptiness. Except for Lassie, I’m alone. I take in the fact that I’m alone for possibly the first time in all of my adult life.

I feed Lassie, look into the refrigerator and take of note of the casseroles and jellos; people are still, generously, bringing food. My stomach churns at the sight so I grab a can of Monster and quickly shut the door. When did I become addicted to this drink that makes me hyper-vigilant? But I sigh as the first sip gives me a pleasant buzz. This must be how alcoholics feel. I can picture myself at a Monsters Anonymous meeting. “Hi, I’m Cassie Burns and I am a Monster addict.” I take two long swigs and put the rest in the refrigerator. I’m pacing myself.

It is time I do some work; clean the living room; strip the bed, the kitchen floor needs scrubbing, the refrigerator needs cleaning. And when was the last time I did the laundry? Do I have any clean underwear left? I sit down. Where should I start? There is so much to do. I walk into the bedroom and shut the door. I can’t sleep but I’m beginning to unwind. I hear the phone ring but don’t move. I don’t care who is calling. They can leave a message.

“Mom, answer!” It is my oldest daughter. She sounds impatient. She’s often impatient. A rising young healthcare executive she plans to be CEO of her hospital by the time she is 30. She is calling to give me more well-thought out advice. I’ll listen to it later. Courtney’s advice always goes down better with a long cold drink. Courtney often acts like she is the mother; some days it is easier to just let her believe that.

I drift off. I awake with a start. I didn’t know where I am and it is dark. Lassie’s wet nose touches my hand. O.K. I’ll feed you, but the bed won’t let me go. She whines a little and then the lights go on in the kitchen. I’m not expecting visitors. Lassie doesn’t seem concerned so I tousle my hair with my fingers as Lucas, the baby at 22, knocks on the door and gives me one of his enveloping hugs.

“Were you sleeping, Mom? Are you O.K.?” He looks tenderly into my face.

I give my stock answer, “Always.”

“M-o-o—o-m,” He drags out the single syllable word.

I smile at my soft-hearted son and run my fingers through his crazy hair. “The question is how are you doing?”

“I miss him.” His expressive face droops.

I don’t say anything. Instead, I rummage in the refrigerator, “Chicken pot pie, tuna casserole, orange jello with oranges, orange jello with pineapple, orange jello with fruit cocktail. Choose your orange jello,” I challenge him.

He takes my hands and leads me to the couch. “Later, Mom what’s next?”

I shake my head. Suddenly I don’t know if I can talk. I check out the peeling wallpaper and squash a particularly large dust ball with my sock-covered toes.

“What do you want?” he persists.

“Rest, quiet, peace on earth, the end to all wars and pestilence. By the way, what do you think pestilence is?” I say trying for a joke.

“Alright, it doesn’t look like we’re going to have a normal conversation so I guess I will have to challenge you to a game of Scrabble.”

“Fine with me but, no looking up words. Smart as you are you know I can whoop you with one eye closed.”

“Well I can whoop you with both eyes closed and one hand tied behind my back.”

Lucas is my sweet blond-haired, blue-eyed youngest child. So tiny at birth we didn’t know if he would survive. As clear as  yesterday I remember Dr. Korth taking Gordie and me aside. “This young man is a fighter. He doesn’t know that he is the littlest guy in the nursery, so don’t tell him. We’re going to pull him through.” Eighteen days later he hit the five pound mark and we brought him home. And he hasn’t stopped eating. By the sheer volume of food he puts away every day he should weigh 300 pounds. Instead, he tops the scale at 165 pounds of muscle on a six foot one inch frame.

I bring myself back to the present. I look at the score and he is ahead twenty points. He has a doughnut in one hand, is watching Wheel of Fortune, and scanning the newspaper.

The phone rings, I check caller I.D. It is my mother-in-law, Delia. She’s called three times today already. I understand she needs someone to talk to but I can’t talk to her again today. 
I let it go to voice mail. I’ll deal with her later.

Lucas raises one eyebrow; I point to the board, and say, “It’s your turn.”

I beat him by three points. I have to pull out the big guns, quire, ibex. I’m pretty sure he let me win.

Lucas routinely drifts in and out of the house. He has a steady girlfriend, Cora. Cora is a very beautiful woman with perfect skin, honey-colored hair, a size two maybe. I think she is a bit of a lightweight but they seem to get along.

Lucas has a BA in chemistry, is studying to be an EMT and he’s applied to medical school. He is a dichotomy; a handsome, loveable, driven man who hasn’t quite figured out where he fits.

“Mom, I have something to tell you.” He wiggles exuberantly in his chair, like he did when he was a toddler with something important to impart.

He sounds serious. “O.K.”, I say.

“I was accepted to medical school at Creighton.”

I smile. “Oh, Lucas that’s wonderful!” I hug him hard.

“I’m packing. I want to get settled. I can finish my EMT certification there and be ready for school by fall. Cora is going with me.”

I’m silent. My baby had decided to leave the nest. I take a deep breath. “You will be a wonderful physician, Lucas.” Then I add,” I’ll miss you.”

“And, I will miss you,” he says but his eyes are shining with anticipation of his anything-is-possible future. “I feel bad leaving you now.”

“We can play Words with Friends over the internet. And, I’ll Skype you.” He squeezes me hard like he did when he was a little boy.

“Go, be free,” I say as I shoo him out the door. “I’m sure Cora is waiting for you. You’ve got lots of plans to make and packing to do. Just call me before you leave.”

Lucas leaves a void. He is Lassie’s favorite—always willing to toss the ball or run around the yard. Lassie lies down facing the door eyes expressing hope that Lucas will return momentarily. I give her a treat which she eats gratefully but she doesn’t move away.

I straighten the pictures and knickknacks, fluffing up the pillows on the sofa. It has been so long since I’ve had time to be domestic: dust, rearrange furniture, put up new curtains. The house feels neglected, and it has been. But I’m determined to change that; just not today; as soon as I’ve had my fill of sleep. I figure twenty-four undisturbed hours will do it.

There is a knock and Lila shuffles in with all three kids. Sandy shrieks, “Grandma,” and attacks my legs. Then she climbs up my body like a jungle gym. We’ve done this rough housing since she was little, but now, at forty-two pounds, I’m having a hard time holding her.

“You’re getting too big to climb on Grandma like that,” Lila admonished Sandy.

Sandy snuggles up to me and says, “I’m not too big, am I, Grandma?”

I hold her close. “You will never be too big to snuggle,” I offer. She smells like baby shampoo and sunshine as she crushes her sinewy little body to mine.

“Let’s play cribbage, Gram, I’ve been practicing.”

“Lila, do you want to play?”

“No, thanks, I’ll feed Jesse and get out some games for Ashley.” She looks through the refrigerator. “It’s nice of people to keep bring you food, Mom. It doesn’t look like you have eaten much since the last time I was here.”

I shrug. “I think they are just glad that it didn’t happen to them.”

Lila gives me a hard look.

“Sorry, sweetie, this is just not my best day.”

Sandy and I play a rousing game of Cribbage which takes forever because she is still learning the game and how to count. I admire her as we play—her crazy blond hair pulled back in pony tail with a purple scrunchie, her enormous blue eyes and her concentration. “I have the picture you drew for me and the letter you wrote is on the refrigerator,” I tell her. 
She is carefully counting her cards so she doesn’t answer.

“Where’s Grandpa?” she asks unexpectedly.

“Honey, you remember...” I start but she interrupts, “I remember he is gone. And not coming back,” she continues to count her cards. She only has six points; I can see that from here.

“Sandy,” Lila calls a warning from the living room. “We talked about this on the way over here. Have you forgotten?”

“No Momma, I was just making conver... convers... What was I doing, Grandma?”

“Making conversation.”

“I’m making conversation with Grandma, Momma.”

“We’re O.K., Lila,” I call out.



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Leigh Ellwood has a new release! #RHACafe


Deals and Steals From Leigh Ellwood!

Happy Autumn! Hope you're as excited as I am to see two of my books discounted to 99 CENTS at Amazon Kindle. Both are on sale this week only, so if you haven't read either/both this is a great time to get them. Truth or Dare was my first erotic romance and it spawned a nice series for me. It's usually $4.99 so this is a great deal! Love is Bliss is a duology of two paranormal romances in a newer series. Normally $2.99, it's a great deal, especially with a third story due soon.

New Releases Coming Soon

If you enjoyed my first Decadent Publishing 1Night Stand story, A Different Class, keep an eye out for A Class Act (M/M), which is newly contracted. A third story in the Love is Bliss series, Holiday Bliss (M/F), is due out this winter as part of a box set, and another M/M short (title TBA) is also coming at the end of the year. I'm excited to share these new stories with you!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

My Newest Guest: J. Hughey!

I want to welcome J. Hughey and her new release Eruption. First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

Thanks, Barbara, for the opportunity to visit with you today. I’m an author of five historical romances who is branching out into contemporary fiction. My day-to-day life is pretty normal, with my husband and two teenaged boys and a day job. Right now we’re busy with high school football.

Tell us about your latest release.

Eruption: Yellowblown™ Book One is being released today, September 13!
The perfect semester for Violet Perch starts with an awesome roomie and a freshman crush intent on becoming a sophomore reality. Yay! With everything going right, it only makes sense for the Yellowstone caldera to erupt for the first time in 630,000 years.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
The Sheriff of Nottingham as played by Alan Rickman in the 1991 movie “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” comes to mind first. He was horrible, funny, and understandable in a sick way. Also, more recent would be Andrew Scott as Moriarty on the BBC series “Sherlock.” His performance of that character is downright creepy.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
This is an impossible question, like picking your favorite child. Right now I’m in love with my Yellowblown™ hero, Boone Ramer. He’s a Nebraska cattle rancher, super nice, level headed, All-American guy. He wears plaid shirts and doesn’t swear (much) and holds the door for girls. Sounds like a total nerd but so, so not. Violet and her roommate refer to him as Hotness!

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
Right now I’m writing New Adult contemporary romance. In case you haven’t heard of the New Adult genre, it fits in the gap between young adult and adult, and generally deals with coming of age themes. Often racier than would be appropriate for a young adult read because the lead characters are in their late teens and early twenties. I also have my historical romances titles available, written under the name Jill Hughey. There will be a new novella coming out in a Love Historicals anthology this fall.

4.) What are you working on now?
I’m working on book two of the Yellowblown™ series. The title is Rhyolite Drifts, and it follows Violet and her family through some difficult challenges and heartbreaks caused by the Yellowstone eruptions, while she deals with the interrupted romance with Boone.

5.) What got you to start writing?
My first book started in my head with a very distinct scene between the hero and heroine. Those two would not quit, and I found it relaxing to escape into their world. When I had a pile of scenes trapped in my head, replaying over and over, I decided I needed to get them out, and I did. That’s how it started. The most odd thing is the original scene didn’t survive into the final manuscript. Such are the cruelties of editing!

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
The story idea for the Yellowblown™ series in particular built really slowly for me. Originally, I was probably thinking about how my family would survive an eruption. (And why would a sane person be thinking about that? Because I majored in geology in college, and the Yellowstone/Wydaho region is my absolutely favorite place in the world, so I think about this stuff.) Anyway, originally the scenario used a family like mine, but I don’t personally enjoy reading stories about middle-aged people muddling along with their teenagers so I certainly didn’t want to devote a lot of time to writing something like that. Instead, I created a young heroine whose world should be expanding into adulthood yet begins to retract.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
I’m sort of a conservative person. Letting my mom read my first book—with sex scenes—was really hard for me.

8.) Do you have any special talents?
My most unusual talent is singing. I started taking voice lessons about eight years ago and discovered I have an honest-to-God respectable soprano voice. I’ve tackled some difficult classical pieces and shock the heck out of people who know me only as a middle-aged mom when I open my mouth to sing.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
Write the next book. Like most authors, I don’t have the luxury to pursue this career full time, so I have to be careful to protect writing time, and sprinkle in promoting and hanging out on Facebook as little as possible.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
I’m not particularly religious, but I think I’d like to meet Jesus, or his mother Mary, mainly because I want to ask what parts of his life story actually happened the way portrayed in The Bible.

11.) What song would you say describes your life?
This will sound sappy, but I pick “The Sound of Music”—the song, not the entire musical. “I go to the hills when my heart is lonely. I know I will hear what I’ve heard before. My heart will be blessed with the sound of music, and I’ll sing once more.” Those words are sung by a character who knows herself, knows she has to recharge her batteries, and tries to do her best to share her gifts with the world. I’m sort of an introvert, so I think that describes how I approach my life.

12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?
I would be a sloth. They are so placid, I have no idea how they have survived. I recently saw a video where one was trying to cross a busy road. A man picked it up by its back and it just spread its legs out, sort of like a baby’s startle reflex in super slow motion. No aggression whatsoever. Nothing done in a hurry. I want to come back as something or someone really relaxed.



EXCERPT
I saw him holding Hoag Hall’s front door open for some girls who’d dressed for success the first day of class. My armpits got really sweaty, like they did every time I’d thought about him this summer, which had been pretty often.

Pathetic, since I’d intended to forget him after realizing his words in February had been kindness, not truth.

Six months of rejection didn’t stop me from smoothing my hands down the legs of my shorts when Boone, irresistible as always in a dark green T-shirt with a little V at the neck and faded plaid shorts, walked in the classroom carrying a stack of stapled papers. My first syllabus of the year, no doubt. Why geology, why, why, why, with him as TA and Mom’s college degree in it? And why did I sit in the second row like a geek? No one sat in the front row so I was a total, total geek.

With his papers delivered to the lecturer’s table up front, he walked directly to me, as if he’d known I was there. Like, maybe, he’d been watching for me like I’d been for him. My face felt hot as I sat up in my seat.

“Hi Violet,” he said with the awesome smile that showed off his blunt jaw.

“Hey,” I managed.

“How was your summer?”

“It sucked,” I blurted.

He laughed, and I thought I heard some chick behind me sigh at the throaty sound.

“Whoa,” he said. “There must be a story there.”

“Not much of one. My mom. Remind me to never spend another summer at home,” I said, quickly rediscovering the easy banter that always made me want to spend more time with him.

“Maybe I’ll do that.” His eyes flicked down the front of my sleeveless floral blouse, feminine and flowy over the form-fitting tank top beneath it. His glance wasn’t sex-predator freaky, but appreciative, like a guy checking out a girl he wanted to know better.

Dr. Potter cleared his throat. “Duty calls,” Boone said, turning away.

“Doesn’t it always?”

He stopped mid-stride to look over his shoulder at me, mouth lifted in a half smile. I’d struck the mark with my little barb, and I lifted my eyebrows to acknowledge the hit.

When Boone handed out the syllabuses or syllabi—or whatever the plural form was—he made a point to give me the bottom one.

A Western Case Copperheads football sticky note fluttered on it. Blocky handwriting, from a pen about to run out of ink said, “Pregame party on Saturday? Text me.” And his cell number.

I tried to act like senior guys I’d been crushing on asked me out every day, while inside, July 4th fireworks zinged through me until my fingers went numb. With my best “whatever” expression, I fumbled to move the sticky from the first page to the fourth page of the syllabus (four pages!).
I hardly heard a word the prof said.

Eruption is available at the special price of 99 cents for a short time. Grab your copy now, before it goes up to $2.99.   http://www.amazon.com/Eruption-YellowblownTM-Book-J-Hughey-ebook/dp/B00MRHAIRO
Where to find J. Hughey
Website:  www.jillhughey.com
Newsletter Subscribe: http://www.jillhughey.com/contact



Thank you so much for welcoming me here today, Barbara