Author Interview and Giveaway: Allie Boniface

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Allie Boniface, whose newest trilogy Cocktail Cruise Line was released this summer. Leave a comment or ask Allie a question for a free e-book of the winner’s choice of any 1 of the Cocktail Cruise Series (Tequila Sunrise, Sex on the Beach, or Between the Sheets).

Allie has been published since 2007 with three small presses and has been indie-published since 2013.

“The industry is constantly changing, and that’s one thing that’s so exciting about it,” she told me. “Everyone thought e-books would be a fad or would take forever to catch up to print book sales, but look what’s happened in just a decade or so! Amazing.”

Allie iscurrently working on the third book in her Hometown Heroes series, Labyrinth of Love. The first two in the series, Beacon of Love and Inferno of Love, are both set in the fictional small town of Lindsey Point, Connecticut, and focus on hunky small-town guys who’ll do anything to protect the women they love. These three books comprise her 8th, 9th, and 10th books.

I asked her which of her books was her favorite.

“My favorite is my first, The Promise of Paradise. The hero, Eddie, is still a guy that readers swoon over. I wish for the ease of that story every time I sit down at my keyboard. I still haven’t found it yet.”

The hardest part of writing for Allie is finding the time to write.

“Since I work full-time outside the house, it’s a challenge to find the time to write a complete novel,” she explained. “I do try to write at least 1000 words a day. More on the weekends. And I try to draft at least 2 complete novels over the summer, when I’m not in school. That way I have something to revise when school starts up again!”

Allie grew up in a very small town in central New York and she credits her upbringing with being the reason she writes about small towns in her books.

“I love that everyone knows everyone else,” she explained. “I love the beauty of the historic old homes, and I love that you can walk down Main Street at midnight and not worry an iota about being safe.”

“What was the scariest moment of your life?” I asked.

“I don’t know if it tops the list, but I was the driver in a pretty serious car accident almost 3 years ago. Another car pulled blindly into our path (on a major highway, while we were going 65 mph)and totaled our car. Those 5 seconds when we spun out of control down the road, and the 5 seconds after the car stopped and we were trying to process what had just happened, were pretty scary. Luckily I wasn’t injured, but my husband still suffers from back and neck pain.”

Finally, I asked, “What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?”

“Have patience and develop a thick skin. Yes, some people are break-out bestsellers with the first book they write. It takes the rest of us much, much longer – and most of us won’t ever see our names on the New York Times or USA Today Best-Seller lists. That’s okay. Write because you like to. Write because you want to. And don’t let other people tell you what to write – unless it’s your beta readers or your critique group or your agent and you really, really value their input. Finally, remember that some readers won’t like your stories. They may even post negative reviews. That’s okay too. Don’t take them too hard. Learn from constructive criticism, but keep writing. Don’t get discouraged.”

About the Author: 9_17 DONE Allie_AuthorPhotoA high school English teacher by day, author Allie Boniface writes small-town sensual romance and is the author of the fast-paced One Night novels and the Hometown Heroes series. In addition, her indie published Cocktail Cruise Line trilogy was released Summer 2014. Allie is an RWA member and EPPIE award finalist who regularly attends writers’ workshops and conferences. She loves chatting with readers and writers about all matters of the heart. Allie lives in the Hudson Valley, New York, with her husband and their two furry felines. You can keep up with all of Allie’s news and new releases on Facebook, Twitter, or at her website or blog. Also find her on YouTube, Goodreads, or Amazon.

9_17 allie Between the Sheets CoverAndrea is determined to merge a cruise ship career and single motherhood. But that leaves zero time for sex or love, so when she has a chance for a fling with a sexy cruise ship dancer, she goes for it. Sebastian enjoys a low-key life as the ship’s dance instructor, a welcome change from his previous life in Argentina as the star of a hugely popular dance show. But when Andrea sweeps into his life, everything changes. Will new love help him come to terms with his past, and convince her to find room in her life for another man?

How to Handle Negativity by Victoria Roberts – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews congratulates Victoria Roberts on the release of her newest book, My Highland Spy. Answer Victoria’s question below for a chance to win a copy of the book (US/Canada only)

*******

Thank you so much for having me today at LASR.

Want to know my golden rule of thumb for handing negativity?

There is no way you’re going to please everyone. Once you accept that single fact, your life will become so much easier. Don’t get me wrong. It took me years to wrap my head around the idea as well. Enough negativity can bring anyone down, but the sooner you learn to handle it, the better.

As an author, we want every reader to love our work. Why shouldn’t they, right? We’ve certainly put our blood, sweat, and tears into our babies. But let’s be realistic. Do we honestly believe we’re going to please every single reader? Of course not. I’ve read some of the most popular books in a genre and after I’ve finished the book, I couldn’t understand for the life of me what all the fuss was about. Think about when you watch a movie. I’ve watched movies that have won tons of awards, and guess what? I didn’t like them. Does that mean the work is terrible? No. What it does mean is that the movie wasn’t for me.
Everyone has different tastes and ideas of what pleases them. People come from different backgrounds and have different expectations, have life experiences that may not be similar to our own. I’ll never forget one of the most hurtful reviews that I’d ever received for my second novel, X Marks the Scot.

“The novel’s cover and title suggest a conventional kilt down, tresses up smut fest, but the story itself tries to deal with themes of marriage, love and sacrifice. I would love to see Roberts expand her pretty awesome assassination plot and place less emphasis on the Liadain’s and Declan’s by-the-books love story. But as it stands, “X Marks the Scot” is just a bottom-bin romance in a gilded kilt.” Rating: 2 arrows to the knee/stars

That last sentence and the rating “2 arrows to the knee” nagged me for days. I was letting one reviewer opinion drag me down. Oh, yes. At the time it felt as though a knife was impaled into my heart, but guess what? One opinion didn’t matter. X Marks the Scot won the 2013 RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice award for Best Medieval Romance.

So yes, my golden rule of thumb for handling negativity: You are never going to please everyone. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family and don’t let negativity bring you down. Behavior breeds behavior. Stay positive and things will work out for the better, even though you may not be able to see that now.

How do you handle negativity? Sourcebooks will give away one paperback copy of My Highland Spy (US and Canada only, please.)

“An exciting Highland tale of intrigue, betrayal, and love.”
—Hannah Howell, New York Times bestselling author of Highland Master

“Roberts’ newest features a surprise-laden, quick-paced plot, replete with unconventional and fiercely independent characters. Her lyrical prose grabs readers’ attention, and the high level of emotional tension simply adds to the depth of the story. This book begs to be read and reread.”

—RT Book Reviews

9_16 victoria roberts My Highland Spy (1)This Highland Laird won’t bow to the Crown

Laird Ruairi Sutherland refuses to send his only son away to be educated by the English. And he most definitely will not appear in Edinburgh to pay homage to a liege who has no respect for Scotland. So he does what any laird would do-he lies to the king. The last thing Ruairi expects is a beautiful English governess to appear on his doorstep.

But this lady spy might make him…

Lady Ravenna Walsingham is a seasoned spy who is sent to the savage Highlands to uncover a nefarious plot against the Crown. Playing the part of an English governess—a job easier said than done—she infiltrates the home of Laird Sutherland, a suspected conspirator.

If she doesn’t betray him first

Ravenna soon discovers that the only real threat Sutherland poses is to her heart. But will the proud Highland laird ever forgive her when he discovers the woman he loves in an English spy?

9_16 Victoria RobertsAbout the Author:    Award-winning author Victoria Roberts writes Scottish historical romances about kilted heroes and warriors from the past. She was named by RT Book Reviews as “one of the most promising debut authors across the genres” and was also a 2013 RT Reviewers’ Choice award winner for X Marks the Scot.

Represented by Jill Marsal of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, Victoria is a member of Romance Writers of America® and several local chapters, as well as a contributing author to the online magazine Celtic Guide.

Victoria lives in western Pennsylvania with her husband of twenty one years and their two beautiful children—not to mention one spoiled dog. When she is not plotting her next Scottish adventure, she’s dragging her clan to every Scottish festival under the sun. Visit her at www.victoriarobertsauthor.com.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/victoria.roberts.395

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5763317.Victoria_Roberts

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million

Launch Day Blitz: What If by Rebecca Donovan

9_16 What-If-Launch-Day-Blitz
A new novel by the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Breathing Series . . .

9_16 donovan_WhatIf_TRWhat if you had a second chance to meet someone for the first time?
Cal Logan is shocked to see Nicole Bentley sitting across from him at a coffee shop thousands of miles from their hometown. After all, no one has seen or heard from her since they graduated over a year ago.
Except this girl isn’t Nicole.

She looks exactly like Cal’s shy childhood crush, but her name is Nyelle Preston and she has no idea who he is. This girl is impulsive and daring, her passion for life infectious. The complete opposite of Nicole. Cal finds himself utterly fascinated-and falling hard. But Nyelle is also extremely secretive. And the closer he comes to finding out what she’s hiding, the less he wants to know.
When the secrets from the past and present collide, one thing becomes clear: Nothing is what it seems.

Rebecca Donovan is the USA Today bestselling author of the highly-acclaimed New Adult trilogy, The Breathing Series. Her novels include: Reason to Breathe, Barely Breathing, and Out of Breath.

Rebecca is a graduate of the University of Missouri -Columbia and lives in a quiet town in Massachusetts with her son. Excited by all that makes life possible, she is a music enthusiast and is willing to try just about anything once.

You can learn more about Rebecca at:
rebeccadonovan.com
Twitter @BeccaDonovan

Facebook.com/RebeccaDonovan

Please also visit the special interactive website for WHAT IF and share your own “what if confession.” http://whatif.rebeccadonovan.com/#/index
WHAT IF is available as an ebook wherever ebooks are sold.  Buy links for retailers can be found here:  http://whatif.rebeccadonovan.com/#/index
And of course you can add it to your shelf on Goodreads here: http://bit.ly/1lvQf8U

Forsaken by Sarah Ballance – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sarah will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please click the banner to see a list of other stops on the tour.

Her past is back to haunt her—and this time, it’s got a gun.

When Gage Lawton finds his brother shot to death on his back porch, every shred of evidence points to one person: Gage’s ex-lover, Riley Beckett. The only gun in town that fires a bullet of that caliber belongs to her.

Certain the shooting is payback for his part in the loss of her parents, he abandons his promise to stay out of her life and confronts her, his rage backed up with a revolver. Yet when she steps through the door, all thoughts of revenge burn to ashes.

A year after Riley unwillingly walked away from Gage, she enters her home to find him sitting in the dark, gun pointed at her head. One look into those achingly familiar blue eyes reminds her how wrong she was to let him go. But now there’s more standing between them than their heated past.

A twist of fate—and a hail of sniper bullets—puts them in the cross hairs of a killer, leaving Riley with just two slim options: trust her greatest betrayer, or face a murderer alone.

This book has been previously published.

Warning: Prepare to get caught in a crossfire of profanity, danger, and desire. Intense violence may trigger the desire to wear body armor…and take it off. Very, very slowly.

Now enjoy an excerpt:

“Gage?” Her voice broke on the single syllable. Riley’s grip on the keys tightened, her blood raging hot and cold all at once.

A creak sounded from the corner chair. Her eyes refused to adjust in the darkness, but not even the faint light kept the blond streaks in his russet hair from giving him away. Like rays of sunshine, she used to tease, and her words never failed to draw a scowl across his rugged face.

“Riley.”

God help her, her name on his lips sounded as it always had. Coarse. Dangerous. Forbidden. Even before… The memory surged, hot and vivid, leaving a metallic taste in her mouth. White heat assaulted her from every corner of the room.

The keys fell to the floor with a dull clink.




Sarah and her husband of what he calls “many long, long years” live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep. She never dreamed of becoming an author, but as a homeschooling mom she often jokes she writes fiction because if she wants anyone to listen to her, she has to make them up. (As it turns out, her characters aren’t much better than the kids.) When not buried under piles of laundry, she may be found adrift in the Atlantic (preferably on a boat) or in search of that ever-elusive perfect writing spot where not even the kids can find her. To learn more about her work in contemporary, historical, and supernatural romance and romantic suspense, please stalk accordingly.

Website: http://www.sarahballance.com/

Blog: http://sarahballance.wordpress.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sarah.ballance.author.news

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahBallance

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/SarahBallance34/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4103362.Sarah_Ballance

Buy Links:

Samhain Publishing – http://store.samhainpublishing.com/forsaken-p-73612.html

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Forsaken-Sarah-Balance-ebook/dp/B00K7YXB4Q

Barnes & Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/forsaken-sarah-ballance/1119867315?ean=9781619222625

Kobo – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/forsaken-25

iTunes/iBooks – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/forsaken/id878566015?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Google Books – http://books.google.com/books?id=F5OSAwAAQBAJ&dq

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Forsaken-Sarah-Ballance-ebook/dp/B00K7YXB4Q/

Amazon CA – http://www.amazon.ca/Forsaken-Sarah-Ballance-ebook/dp/B00K7YXB4Q/

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Q& A with Jacki Delecki

long and Short Reviews welcomes Jacki Delecki. Sign up for her newsletter for a chance to win a copy of her new release, “Women Under Fire.”

How long have you been writing?
Five years.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
It is very difficult when you’re writing for deadline. I always go outside. Nature always helps me relax and to slow my brain from spinning.
Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.
My newest release has a terrorist plot. I’ve consulted with a national terrorist expert who consults with the CIA. My family is worried that either the FBI or CIA are going to come for me over my Google Searches and emails.
Are you working on anything at the present you would like to tell us about?
As I finish Women Under Fire, I’m making notes for my Regency release, part of The Code Breakers Series. A Cantata of Love. I find when I’m stressed about my writing, I love making up the next book’s plot.
What are you reading now?
Mary Balogh’s latest release The Escape and Julie Garwood’s Hotshot. I’m always reading several books at once.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I acquired an agent. When a paid professional believed I could sell my work. LOL
What is your most embarrassing moment?
When I was late for a bow at Seattle Opera, I ran across the stage as the curtain was rising. The audience and the entire cast witnessed the faux pas.
What is your favorite food?
My favorite food is kale salad. I also love seafood, so it’s convenient living in Seattle.
When writing descriptions of your hero/ine, what feature do you start with?
I always start with the eyes. I can picture the character’s heart and soul if I can imagine their eyes
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I started as a pantser. And by personality, am definitely a pantster. After having to go back and fix plots in my first two books, I now do an outline that gives me a direction.
Where are you from and what do you love best about your hometown?
I’ve lived in Seattle for so long, I consider it my hometown. Seattle is physically outstanding with water and mountains on all sides. Love my city and have made it a character in my Grayce Walters Series.
Ebook or print? And why?
I read print books. Hate to reveal that I still like to touch books. I read my favorite authors over and over again.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
I love all the things I do for research, go to Gay Bingo, work with Seattle’s Fire Department, go to museums in Paris, but probably the weirdest is I’m ALWAYS listening to people’s conversations. I want to hear how people are talking to each other. I once stopped and tied my shoe for 5 minutes to hear a couple argue.

Do you listen to music while writing? I do listen to music, but it can’t have any words. Has to be instrumental and mostly mood music, or meditation music.

What are your favorite TV shows? Just got addicted to the new 24 series. Great fun and what great writing for plot twists.
What is your favorite meal? Anything I didn’t cook.
What group did you hang out with in high school? Cool kids but hung with everyone.

What are you passionate about these days? My writing. I’m finishing a MS so I’m feeling really good. Ask me in a few weeks when I doing edits and rewrites.
What would we find under your bed? Dog hair.
Do you write in multiple genres or just one? I write both contemporary and historical. Ask me why? Because I’m crazy? I like a challenge?
Favorite color? Green
Favorite place to read? BED.

About the Author:9_12 jackiDescended from a long line of storytellers, Jacki spins adventures filled with mystery, healing and romance. Her love affair with the arts began at a young age and inspired her to train as a jazz singer and dancer. She has performed many acting roles with the Seattle Opera Company and the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Her travels to London and Paris ignited a deep-seated passion to write A Code of Love, a romantic mystery set in the Regency era. Jacki is certain she spent at least one lifetime dancing in the Moulin Rouge.

Although writing now fills most of her days, she continues to volunteer with Seattle’s Ballet and Opera companies, as well as leading children’s tours of Pike Street Market. Her volunteer work with Seattle’s homeless shelters influenced one of her main characters in An Inner Fire.

Jacki’s two Golden Labs, Gus and Talley, are her constant companions. Their years of devotion and intuition inspired her to write both dogs as heroes in A Code of Love. A geek at heart, Jacki loves superhero movies—a hero’s battle against insurmountable odds. Fortunately, her heroines don’t have to wear a unitard to fight injustice and battle for the underdog. Jacki’s extraordinary heroines love and heal.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads

9_15 JackiDelecki_WomanUnderFire_HRLife heats up for Grayce Walters when she is thrust into the public eye after she solves an arson case with a critical clue from a French Poodle. A reporter, envisioning a compelling story, badgers Grayce to treat the cat of a missing female Afghanistan War Veteran. The cat’s owner is known to suffer from PTSD and is a patient in a treatment group at the VA hospital. The reporter has convinced the Vet’s mother that Grayce will be able to locate the missing woman, by “talking” with the cat.

Heavenly Desire by J.L. Sheppard – Spotlight and Giveaway

 

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $10 Amazon Gift Card to one randomly drawn winner and a bookmark to 20 additional winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Will he sacrifice his wings for a woman he loves but can never keep?

Jade Ashley has a past she’d like to forget and a destiny she isn’t aware of. A stranger, Clyde, saves her from an attack and demonstrates extraordinary abilities she believed only she possessed. She soon realizes he’s her guardian angel sent to reunite her with her long lost sisters, who like her are part of a new breed of immortals, Elementals, prophesied to determine the outcome of the upcoming war.

Clyde, an angel, battles the one thing he believes will lead to his fall from heaven—his new found emotions, forbidden among his kind. Nonetheless, the Angel Lords promise to promote him to warrior when he completes his last assignment—to find Jade. When he does, emotions he never knew possible arise. For the first time in two thousand years, he curses his existence, knowing she can never be his. Will he sacrifice his wings for a woman he loves but can’t keep?

Enjoy an excerpt:

Clyde swallowed, summoning the courage to ask, “Is she yours?”

“No, idiot,” Jacob spat. “She’s yours.”

A wave of relief washed over him, and he released a breath. Exhausted from his fear, anger, jealousy and the scorching pain eating him alive, he didn’t respond to Jacob’s goad. He knew, despite what everyone else believed, Ashley wasn’t his because he was an angel.

She wasn’t Jacob’s either, but he knew every time Ashley spent time with another immortal male his fear would again rear its head. It would only happen so many times before she met him—her mate. Each time, it would be more painful than the last.

Before he found the energy to turn and walk away, he acknowledged: If it hurts this bad now, when she finds him, it’ll kill me.

About the Author:

J.L. Sheppard was born and raised in Miami, Florida where she still lives with her husband.
As a child, her greatest aspiration was to become a writer. She read often, kept a journal and wrote countless poems. She attended Florida International University and graduated in 2008 with a Bachelors in Communications. During her senior year, she interned at NBC Miami, WTVJ. Following the internship, she was hired and worked in the News Department for three years.

It wasn’t until 2011 that she set her heart and mind into writing her first completed novel, Demon King’s Desire, which was published in January of 2013.

Besides reading and writing, she enjoys traveling and spending quality time with family and friends.

Previous Releases:

Demon King’s Desire, Elemental Sisters I: January 2013

Burdened by Desire, Elemental Sisters II: January 2014

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads ~ Pinterest
Buy the book at Wild Rose Publishing, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.

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Do you have an ear for fiction? by Jacki Delecki

Do you have an ear for fiction?

By: Jacki Delecki

 9_12 JackiDelecki_ACodeofLove_1400A few months ago I was invited to do an audio version of my book, “A Code of Love.” I enthusiastically accepted the offer, never anticipating how different it would be to create a book based on sound instead of written words. Not only was the creative process different, but I also discovered enjoying books on audio offers an entirely different experience as compared to reading them.

Before delving into the creative side of audio book production, let me tell you a little bit about the technical side. ACX is the DIY branch of Amazon Audible. ACX provides support services for authors who want to release their book in audio format, serving as an interface of sorts. Authors can audition narrators and hire producers for assistance, or you can do everything yourself. Once a narrator is selected, the recording process starts. That’s a lot of listening and then collaborating with the voice actor to produce a finished product.

Now for a look at some of the creative challenges.

Written books and audio books share some similarities. Authors spend a lot of time constructing sentences and choosing words to inspire specific moods and emotions. And using the wrong pacing or inconsistent characterization can ruin any book, written or audio.

When readers listen to a story, the words still matter, but the delivery format changes. Instead of being distracted by misspellings or typos as in written books, readers will be pulled out of an audio story if the narrator stumbles over words or doesn’t match the tone of the tale.

“A Code of Love” is a romantic mystery set in Regency England. Both the hero and the heroine are members of the privileged class, meaning they are intelligent, cultured and subject to societal standards. It wasn’t enough to hire anyone with a British accent to narrate my book. I wanted—no, needed—someone who sounded like an upper-crust Brit. And because it’s a story of scandal, intrigue and danger, I required a narrator capable of infusing this drama into her voice.

9_12 Pearl HewittI eventually hired Pearl Hewitt, a British voice actor based in Texas. Not only did she “sound” perfect, but her experience in producing audio books helped to shorten my own learning curve. As Pearl recorded each chapter, I would carefully listen and give approval or ask for modifications. Eventually we worked our way through the entire book.

Once the book was finished and I finally sat down to listen to the story from start to finish, I found myself drawn into the story like never before. Pearl’s vocal inflections added depth and dimension to my characters, enriching my mental vision of them. I also found myself filling in sounds that were missing from the soundtrack, but which would have been heard in Regency London: the clop of horses’ hooves on cobblestone, the creak of saddles and buggies, the calls and shouts from street merchants and vendors.

It was pretty amazing to “hear” Lady Henrietta Harcourt and Lord Cordelier Rathbourne. I’m happy to report they sounded exactly as I had imagined.

Visit my website to enjoy an audio excerpt or the book trailer for “A Code of Love” and let me know what you hear.

Author Bio: 9_12 jackiHeart-pounding adventure filled with danger, intrigue and romance from Jacki Delecki, award-winning author of the Regency suspense series “The Code Breakers” and the contemporary mystery series “Grayce Walters.” Visit www.JackiDelecki.com to learn more about Jacki and sign-up for her newsletter. Follow her on Facebook (Jacki Delecki Author) and Twitter (@jackidelecki).

 

Water, Water, Everywhere… by Virginia McCullough – Guest Blog

Water, Water, Everywhere…
by Virginia McCullough
The wonderful employees at my local library regularly create displays of both fiction and nonfiction books that match the turn of the seasons and holiday themes. In October they bring out Halloween-related paranormals, and soon after they arrange Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Hanukah-themed novels next to colorful cookbooks. By Memorial Day, the novels filling these shelves usually have covers showing beach houses or cabins on shimmering lakes and they’re mixed with nonfiction books offering recipes for the perfect barbecue sauce and cooling summer cocktails.

When I make my library rounds, I make a point of browsing through these intentionally grouped books. Whatever the season, I’m drawn to cover art with water somewhere. It could be a frozen lake mirroring snow-capped mountains or a turquoise sea sparkling under the sun. Rushing rivers or winding streams attract me, and Adirondack chairs and beach umbrellas will catch my eye as well.

Perhaps unconsciously, my eye wanders to what it longs to see. Or maybe I’m drawn to familiar elements that remind me of my childhood and much of my adult life, too: Lake Michigan, the beach, the Chicago skyline, and the miles of shoreline. That big city waterfront was a touchstone for me twelve months a year, even when the lagoons in the lakefront parks froze over and ice patches scraped the long stretches of tiered slabs of concrete and rock we walked in the summer. Even riding the bus, I always looked up from what I was reading when we turned onto Lake Shore Drive and I could gauge the mood of the lake that day.

Still in my twenties, I moved to the ocean. My first writing desk offered a view of the water and a couple of islands in Penobscot Bay on the coast of Maine. Then my own young family moved aboard a sailboat and for several years we port-hopped down the east coast, ultimately ending up in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. I also had the privilege of crossing oceans and visiting all sorts of exotic ports on oil tankers, and day after day all I saw was water. I stayed on deck or on the bridge wings for hours at a time, mesmerized by whatever ocean we happened to be crossing.

Fortunately, I can write anywhere—and I have. Whether it’s a kitchen table, a navigation station on the boat, a café, a library, or my home office, I don’t need a view of the water to write. Apparently, though, I need the security of knowing that water is nearby. It’s as if a body of water itself feeds my imagination, just as it did when I was a child and claimed a patch of beach and built sandcastles with moats and towers, along with ponds in the castle’s courtyard and rivers all around.
It’s heartening, isn’t it, that when kids are absorbed in playing on a beach, adults tend to leave them to their own devices? No one directs them and tells them what their sand buildings should look like. Lucky for kids everywhere, when it comes to making forts, skyscrapers, castles, and whole villages out of sand, there’s no such thing as right and wrong or good and bad.

Within all these memories, what keeps coming back to me now is how often I’d stop my “architecture” and stare at the water, mesmerized by it, all the while feeling quiet and self-contained. In those moments I was oblivious to kids kicking up sand around me and to the smell of hotdogs and suntan lotion. And I was daydreaming, too, the ways kids do in unscheduled moments.

Artist Robert Henri said, “[the sea]…has some kind of potent power to make us think things we like to think.” When I read that line, I laughed out loud. For me, it’s any body of water, not just the sea, but the point is the same. All that daydreaming was—and is—spent thinking about what I like to think, spinning tales.

9_12-viginia-island-healingToday, many decades later, I still daydream when I create worlds for my characters, always inserting a body of water into the picture. Rivers, lakes, or oceans; whatever I choose, it isn’t so much a setting as an environment. A setting is a backdrop, but we interact with our environment, we create memories that involve our specific surroundings. For characters in a novel, the environment plays a part in the way the story people grow and change, or don’t change, stumble through their challenges, heal their wounds, make critical decisions, and fall in love. Like those of us in “real” life, characters take their troubles for a walk the beach, they swim across icy lakes when they’re desperate to be alone, they lick their emotional wounds in their rented cottages, and they dream about a beach wedding. Sometimes, they gather their children and the dog and flee their homes when the river rises or a storm threatens.
When I see children on the beach I smile to myself and remember the girl-child I was, marveling that while the details of the environment have changed many times over, water still captures the imagination of the woman and writer I’ve grown into. Long ago, water chose me as much I chose it.

 

 

About the Author: 9_12 viginia Publicity PhotoVirginia McCullough just released her third and fourth novels, Greta’s Grace and Amber Light, but before focusing on fiction, she was a ghostwriter and coauthor of over 100 books for doctors, therapists, business owners, and professional speakers. Visit Virginia at www.virginiamccullough.com and on Facebook and LinkedIn.

A Soldier is Always Prepared by M..L. Buchman – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Welcome to M.L. Buchman whose newest book in the Night Stalker series, Light Up the Night, was recently released. Leave a comment, ask the author a question, or pick which book in the series you would want– three commenters will be able to choose their choice of a book from the Night Stalkers series (US/Canada addresses, please).

A Soldier is Always Prepared
by M. L. Buchman
To be prepared, a soldier follows simple steps. They train for them. Work on them until much of the process is automatic. This prepares the warrior to apply a simple series of steps to dealing with something new.

IDENTIFYING THE PROBLEM

Light Up the Night is the love of two people with no past that they’ll admit to. Neither one is willing to give an inch.

Lieutenant Trisha O’Malley doesn’t exist before the moment she climbed aboard an attack helicopter. Lieutenant Bill Bruce might as well have been a Navy SEAL since birth for all anyone knows.

DOING THE RESEARCH

Military ships do not afford copious opportunities for privacy. And sometimes you just have to go looking for answers. The trick is to be ready for what you find:

Bill tweaked aside the lapel on the jacket hanging in her closet to look at the awards pinned there and tried to suppress a whistle of surprise. Multi-tour Iraq and Afghanistan, sharpshooter, parachutist. Both Commendation and Air Medals with the V signifying that the exceptional service had been in battle and the number 5 on the Air Medal indicating this was far from her first one. Weapons specialist in addition to Aviator and Air Assault, which was why she flew the attack version of the Little Bird. Carrier certified, of course. Trisha had clearly never hesitated when the call came to join battle.

So why in hell was she avoiding him? Well, he was ready to engage in at least a serious skirmish right now.

“See anything you like?”

He let go of the lapel of her jacket as if he’d been burned and turned to face her.

Damn. The answer to her question was a very definite yes.

Lieutenant Patricia O’Malley in nothing but a towel and a hot temper choked his breath in his chest. Her short hair was still dark red with water. Her shoulders showed muscle, the long lean muscle of fitness, but still looking incredibly feminine with no adornment but her dog tags and some of the creamiest white skin he’d ever seen. And beyond the dark-blue towel a deceptively long length of leg on a woman so short. Either the towel was dangerously short, or her legs were dangerously long. They certainly were seriously good.

“Yep. See a whole lot I like.” He aimed a leer in her direction.

She scoffed.

“Do you mind waiting while I get dressed?”

“Not a bit.” He settled into the chair in front of the desk, which was barely big enough to fill out a two-page report.

Trisha’s glare was intense, and her eyes were incredibly blue with her temper.

“Don’t tempt me, sailor.”

He leaned the chair back against the cabin bulkhead behind him and folded his hands over his stomach. “I’m wondering to myself, ‘William…’ I call myself William when I’m wondering about things. ‘William,’ I ask, ‘is she going to have to drop that towel in order to beat the shit out of you?’”

“What’s your answer?” She shifted her weight, cocking a hip in a way that the towel did nothing to hide but also caused the lower edge to ride an interesting inch higher.

“My guess is yes. And my conclusion is that it would definitely be worth the risk considering the potential side benefits.”

If he hadn’t been expecting it and prepared for it, he’d have been on the floor when she kicked the chair out from under him. Instead of laying him flat on his back, he hung there because he’d braced his feet on the floor and shoulders against the wall as if sitting on air.

“Damn!” She stormed the two steps away that the cabin allowed. He leaned down to retrieve the chair without leaving his “sitting” position. As he relaxed back onto it, he refocused on her legs.

FINDING MORE THAN YOU BARGAINED FOR

Trisha has spent her whole life being convinced that she is ready for anything. It finds her: trouble with the street gangs of Boston, conflict with her family, and arguments with past and present commanders. Her problem is how to face what she’s discovered when she finds something she didn’t even know existed:

Trisha looked up at Billy. His narrowed eyes revealed that he was indeed totally perplexed as to why she’d been avoiding him.

It was perfectly clear to her, and she just figured that meant she was too damn stupid to live. She shrugged to herself, feeling the warm weight of his large hands still resting on her shoulders.

Well, stupid is something I’m really good at, she had to admit to herself. With one foot, she shoved the door to her cabin closed until the latch clicked. Then putting a hand on either side of his neck, Trisha pulled his face down to hers.

His hesitation didn’t last long, then the kiss became everything she remembered from the first one. Power, heat, strength.

And then it became more. When he folded his arms around her and held her tight against him as they teased each other’s lips, she was just gone.

She’d never felt such a thing before. In Billy’s arms, Trisha O’Malley felt…safe. As if someone else would take care of the world, just for awhile. That was so foreign, she almost pushed away. Then she changed her mind and leaned closer because it felt so damn good.

Trisha wished she was still wearing the stupid towel, so that she could just let it slide ever so slowly to the floor like some heart-fluttering romance heroine. But she was dressed now, so she went for plan B.

FINDING THE FINAL SOLUTION

By the time their pasts are wholly revealed, that is no longer the issue, it’s the present and the future they must deal with. It is a romance; we know the solution even if our soldiers do not. But it’s the ride that’s the fun.

9_12 LightUpTheNightTrisha O’Malley rebelled against her affluent family by joining the U.S. Army’s secret helicopter regiment, the 160th SOAR. Now a Chief Warrant Officer, she found her toughest fight yet in the pilot’s seat of an MH-6M attack helicopter.

William Wallace Bruce is an undercover CIA agent who doesn’t trust the military. But when the Horn of Africa is threatened by Somali pirates, Trisha flies out to recover ships and hostages…including one very ungrateful Will. Everything about Trisha triggers his mistrust: her elusive past, her wild energy, and her proclivity for flying past safety’s edge. Even as the heat between them turns into passion’s fire, Bill and Trisha must team up to confront their pasts and survive Somalia’s pirate lords.

Amazon – http://amzn.to/1iJb4w0

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iTunes – http://bit.ly/1iJb6E6

 

About the Author: 9_12 MLBuchman

M. L. Buchman has over 25 novels in print. His military romantic suspense books have been named Barnes & Noble and NPR “Top 5 of the year” and Booklist “Top 10 of the Year.” In addition to romance, he also writes contemporaries, thrillers, and fantasy and science fiction.

In among his career as a corporate project manager he has: rebuilt and single-handed a fifty-foot sailboat, both flown and jumped out of airplanes, designed and built two houses, and bicycled solo around the world.

He is now a full-time writer, living on the Oregon Coast with his beloved wife. He is constantly amazed at what you can do with a degree in Geophysics. You may keep up with his writing at www.mlbuchman.com.

 

Website: http://www.matthewlieberbuchman.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/M_L_Buchman

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Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/mlbuchman

Silent Love by Casey Clipper – Spotlight and Giveaway

BBT Silent Love Tour Banner copy

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. A Grand Prize of a $25 Amazon GC will be awarded to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Also, leave a comment to win a PDF of the book on this stop. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

MEDIA KIT silent-love-final2-02Former Navy SEAL Sean Millen has been perfectly fine with his bachelorhood until recently, when he realizes he’s unhappy with his single status. Unfortunately, his playboy reputation doesn’t offer him the type of woman that could fulfill his days and nights as well as settle into the specific life he envisions.

Four years ago, Beth Connors’ world was entirely altered. Beth spends her days trying to remain invisible in order to avoid unwanted attention. Each night she sheds grief-filled tears over the former life she once led but will never be able to regain.

When Beth literally runs into him. Doctor Sean Millen. A force of nature. A rock. A reputable heartbreaker, who takes an immediate interest in her, there’s no place for her to hide. But Beth’s natural instinct to push Sean away to save herself and him from the difficult task of adjusting their lives to her shortcomings is always front and center. Yet, Beth secretly longs for love. Is she strong enough to tear down the walls of her self-imposed prison?

Sean finds himself falling for a woman who is determined to reject his every advance and deny their surprisingly deep connection. Can Sean push past Beth’s concrete walls that she refuses to destroy? Or will Beth’s shocking revelation of her past prevent them from finding the love they both deserve? Or will a tragic accident pull Sean and Beth apart permanently?

*This is not a cliffhanger.
**Not suitable for under 18 years old. Contains sexual scenes.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Seated at her desk, Beth pulled up the notes on the patient whose bill was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Medicare was auditing the chart, and she had to make certain all the i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed before the paperwork left the office. About to plunge into the work, a large figure loomed behind her. She’d seen his shadow step into the background of her dark computer screen.

Heart fluttering with nervous excitement, he returned despite her objections.

A gentle hand landed on her shoulder. Spinning in her chair, Sean stood behind her with a giant grin donning those devastatingly handsome features. Gawd, he should be a model for SEALs ‘R Us.

“Hi,” he said.

“Hi.”

“Lunch today?” he asked.

She nodded. There was no way she could turn him down. After he left her house last night, all she did was think of him late into the early morning hours. Thoughts of a potential future toyed with her. There’d been a time in her life when she defined herself by the man who held her heart. That changed a long time ago when she’d needed the support of her boyfriend the most, but he checked out. Disappeared. He’d left her at her most dire time.

“Good,” he said. Reaching into his lab coat pocket, he pulled out a small white box tied with white string. “This is for after lunch.” He leaned down and kissed the top of her head. “I’ll come and get you at noon.” He sauntered off before she could argue she’d rather eat lunch a half an hour earlier.

After she’d watched him until he was out of sight, she spun back to her work but eyed the small box. She’d never been a patient girl when it came to gifts. Many Christmases her parents spent coming up with new hiding places for her presents.

Beth pulled her scissors out of the desk drawer and snipped off the string. She unfolded the lid and gasped. A tiny chocolate cake with fudge icing sat picture perfect inside the white box. Tears formed in her eyes. That simple pastry was the most thoughtful gift she’d ever received from a man.

About the Author: Bestselling Contemporary Romance Author Casey Clipper lives in Pittsburgh, PA. She’s an admitted sports fanatic and chocolate lover (though that could be classified more as an addiction). An avid romance reader, she loves to lose herself in a good book. Casey is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Contemporary Romance Writers, Pennwriters, the Authors Guild, TRRW, ASMSG, and IAN.

Buy the book at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon CA, or Smashwords.

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