LASR Anniversary: Victoria Pitts Caine

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This post is part of Long and Short Review’s 9th Anniversary Celebration. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a $100 gift card or other prizes.

Growing Succulents

My new passion is growing succulents. Last year I made a succulent wall out of concrete bricks, stacked just right to expose the center hole, filled it with potting soil and I had an easy care garden. My front porch holds a very large and very old Jade plant.

Succulents are also known as fat leaves since they store their moisture in various parts of the plant. There are sixty different plants families including succulents and they do well in a hot, dry climate which is what we experience a good six months of the year.

If grown indoors, they need five to six hours of sunlight and don’t go with the temptation to overwater. You need a well-draining container and they’re less happy in glass. They prefer 70 to 80 degrees, so if you’re comfortable, they probably are, too.

This year for my spring birthday and Mother’s Day, I received a basket of succulents and a box of succulent starters. Since the starters were routed from California to the vendor on the east coast and then back again, I was worried they’d survive. They also sat in a delivery van and the little box was hot when I received it. I busily got them planted, hoping they’d endure their ordeal. Thankfully they did, and I have a beautiful planter to keep my other succulents happy at the entryway.

I have been told you can water them and ignore them, probably why I do so well. Did you know the best thing for succulents is a spray bottle? Spritz and forget.

Cairo_Cover_medLiz McCran and Donnie Barnes travel to Cairo, Egypt, in search of Addie and Gary Wright, who were asked to deliver a mysterious envelope. Within days of their arrival, the couple has vanished. When Liz locates the Wright’s contact, Mr. Moustafa, she receives the first of several riddles.

Rayhan Shenouda, an Egyptian working at the American Embassy, agrees to help but his desire is to win Liz’s heart. Following his traditional customs, and much to her surprise, he proposes within days of their meeting.

Will the Wright’s be found? Can Rayhan and Liz’s love withstand an inevitable collision of cultures and customs? Or will it all end at the hands of a nomad insurgent named Ahmad?

About the Author:Victoria Pitts Caine is a native Californian and lives in the central portion of the state. Her varied interests include genealogy and exotic gemstone collecting both of which she’s incorporated into her novels.

The author has received recognition in both fiction and nonfiction from: Enduring Romance top 10 picks for 2008, William Saroyan Writing Conference, Byline Magazine, Writer’s Journal Magazine and The Southern California Genealogical Society. Her first novel published in 2007.

Victoria is a former staff technician in air pollution control. She is the mother of two daughters. Victoria and her husband enjoy travel, cooking, and are self-appointed “foodies”.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Buy the book at Amazon.

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LASR Anniversary: Carolyn Haley

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This post is part of Long and Short Review’s 9th Anniversary Celebration. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a $100 gift card or other prizes.


The first gardening mistake I made when we moved to rural Vermont 17 years ago was thinking that perennials are something you plant once and enjoy forever.

Ohhhhhh no. Oh-ho-ho-no.

Well, in some cases it’s true—we’ve got peonies, for example, that came with the place and must be decades old—but the very fact that perennials stay in the ground makes them subject to seemingly endless variables, all exacerbated by the seemingly endless microclimates that characterize the region in general and our yard in particular.

I knew going in that some perennials, such as gladioli, are sensitive and must be brought indoors for the winter then reestablished in the spring. So I skipped those. I also knew that some perennials, such as most everything in the mint family, are invasive and must be either contained or planted where they can run amok. So I avoided those, too.

Then went on to plant my favorite species, since our well-established perennials represented a previous homeowner’s taste. Pretty much everything I put in failed within 1-3 years, while the established plants flourished. Huh?

I can divide or transplant the established perennials with shocking brutality and they just keep going like Energizer Bunnies, but my carefully selected, carefully tended new perennials just don’t last. Heck, I’m the only person I’ve ever met who can’t keep daffodils!

Even after I got smart and started planting only Zone 3–hardy specimens (learned from cataloguing everything established and finding that to be the common denominator), I still lose the new ones. Or else they shrink back in number to a few feeble survivors that keep returning enough to keep giving me false hope.

The experience has taught me a lot about the dominance of microclimates over zone maps, the difference between reproductive techniques, and perennial vs. diennial growth patterns. It also clarified the definition of “partial sunlight.” The thing that surprises me year after year, however, is the fact that some perennials move.

It’s a creepy thought that nags at me during the winter. While the land is frozen for months, somewhere below my feet there are tendrils reaching out, or seeds that fell over the summer, which will result in plants emerging somewhere other than where I put them. Thus I’ve had grape hyacinths and glory-of-the-snows pop up in the middle of the lawn. Thus I’ve had a crocus appear even though I never planted one. Thus the horseradish emerged in the woods 30 yards away from its calculated placement, the phlox choked out a complete garden, the lupines stepped sideways two feet, and the bee balm took over the compost pile.

These plants behave, in fact, like certain weeds. Heck, perennials are weeds, if you consider this definition: “What we call a weed is in fact merely a plant growing where we do not want it” (E. J. Salisbury, The Living Garden, 1935). In my yard, some perennials are invasive weeds—like the nightmare phlox, along with lilacs, anything in the rose family, and lily of the valley, which to me is as pernicious as grass. I have come to hate grass, which grows like a metastisizing cancer where you do not want it and refuses to grow where you do.

What this all adds up to is a three-part lesson: (1) Do thorough homework before you plant perennials. (2) Be prepared to monitor them closely and manage them regularly. (3) Make sure you put clumpers in the garden and movers somewhere they can spread.

Else you’ll discover that perennials are actually annuals, because you’ll be reinventing your yard and garden every year!

IntotheSunrise_w9422_300On one day in 1975, Linny Eagan loses her job, her beloved, and her dream of becoming an equestrian champion. So she adjusts her dream to include only horses, since unlike men they can never betray her.

While recovering on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, after a fall in a show, she meets Con Winston, trail leader at a stable. Con dreams of being a cowboy artist on a Montana ranch, but must play family head-games with his father until his twenty-fifth birthday, when he will inherit a fortune that will actualize his dream.

Though Linny needs love and money, she needs independence more. With neither of them willing to abandon their dreams, they continue in opposite directions despite a perfect match of heart and mind. Only Con’s horse connects them, until distance proves that pursuit of a dream needs love to sustain it.

About the Author:Carolyn Haley is a writer, editor, and reviewer living in rural Vermont. Through her business, DocuMania, she writes magazine articles and commercial copy, while helping book authors through editing, production, and education. She is author of The Aurora Affair, a metaphysical romance, and Open Your Heart with Gardens, a primer about interacting with the living green world.

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Buy the book at The Wild Rose Publishing.

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LASR Anniversary: Megan Slayer

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Fun Songs of the Summer

When I’m writing, I love to listen to music. I need to have noise. It’s silly, but if it’s quiet, then I’m not very productive. Now I’ve been on a writing binge this summer and I mentioned needing music. So what’s on my summer music list?

Glad you asked! Here are my top 5 songs:

Catch a Wave by the Beach Boys – it just puts me in a great mood and makes me want to write playful scenes. Plus, it’s a good segue into something a little hotter.

Short Shorts by The Royal Teens – this one is a little older than I am, but I love it. This tune makes me want to write beachy scenes with lots of hugging and kissing in the sand. It kind of makes me wonder about the sand in places, but that lends itself to fun in the shower, trying to get the sand off!

Splish Splash by Bobby Darin – Nice segue, eh? I thought so. Yep, this is the splashing in the tub song, but it’s more. I like the part about everyone joining him in the tub. Does it make me think of a ménage? You bet!

Wild Thing by the Troggs – First, I think of the movie Major League and what’s better than baseball players? The boys of summer!! But I also think of hot, steamy nights and needing to cool off…in inventive ways. That ménage, now with baseball players who may or may not have been on the beach in shorty shorts and sand in dangerous places, is really starting to take shape!

Finally… (this one will date me a bit)

Rush, Rush by Paula Abdul – This one sets the tone for hot times and snuggling. So after all of the theatrics of the day for those baseball players, now they can get comfortable.

What about you? Do you have special songs for the summer? Something a little newer than the ones on my list? Something to recommend? I’m all ears!!

MS_TogetherinCedarwood_coversmBobby Gagnon came back to town in the hopes of starting over. He’s got his kids and his accounting business, but he wants more. One look at the hot guy sharing the running trail with him is enough to stoke Bobby’s fire. He wants to hook up with the sexy runner, but he doesn’t even know the guy’s name. Will the man even want to be with a single father?

Remy Bard never considered himself a kid person or parent material. He’s happy with his job at the Cedarwood Tribune, but it’s not enough. Something’s always been missing in his life. He keeps seeing the same guy at the park—tall, dark, handsome and hot as hell in those running shorts. Although he’s shy, Remy isn’t about to let this guy get away without at least one night together.

These opposites certainly attract, but will their differences be enough to keep them apart or will they find a way to come together in Cedarwood?

About the Author: Megan Slayer, aka Wendi Zwaduk, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and BDSM themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been the runner up in the Kink Category at Love Romances Café as well as nominated at the LRC for best author, best contemporary, best ménage and best anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on and AllRomance Ebooks.

When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice. Find out more about Megan and Wendi at:

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LASR Anniversary: Tess Bowery

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This post is part of Long and Short Review’s 9th Anniversary Celebration. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a $100 gift card or other prizes.

Garden marks in history

There is something compelling and intrinsically summer about the feel and smell of a kitchen garden. Our small plot of herbs, berries and veggies was the first thing to go in when we bought our first house, that feeling of ownership and belonging solidifying with every turned-over shovelful of that rich, dark earth. We’re urban gardeners, far from our families’ roots as farmers, but there’s still a magic to picking the first peas of the spring, and watching the strawberries and raspberries swell and redden in the sun.

I try an experiment in part of the garden every year, and last year’s ‘new thing’ was a packet of baby bok choi seeds, in the hopes of freshening up our stir fries and hot pot dinners. We were out of town when a heat wave hit, and the entire crop bolted, so I put the bok choi out of my mind and this year didn’t bother to reseed — on to asparagus and parsnips, for spring salads and winter stews. Except something wonderful and unexpected happened as soon as the weather turned warm. Little heart-shaped leaves began to push their way up where I had planned to put this year’s tomatoes, and within days —thank goodness I was lazy about weeding!—they developed into the delicate green leaves of more baby bok choi. We’ve enjoyed two meals out of the volunteers so far, with hope for more to come.

Sitting and weeding this morning, the dirt under my nails and the surprise bok choi flourishing in the space it reclaimed for itself, I flashed back to a study done in the 1970s, by a botanist named John Erskine. He travelled the province of Nova Scotia looking for evidence of colonial homesteads, houses and farms that had long since vanished. He wasn’t looking for foundation stones or rusted gates, though—he found his evidence of habitation in the plants surrounding the spaces where villages might once have been.

He found his long-deported Acadians in imported European plants, still seeding and replanting themselves in the reclaimed forests and old trails. Hawthorne hedges mark off pastures and boundaries from 350 years ago, collections of tansy, sorrel and hops flourish in spaces that may once have been kitchen gardens or herbals.

Flower seeds brought to Nova Scotia by trading ships clung to wagons and to horses, dropping along the stretches of wagon roads as farmers headed home from market, and found favourable soil. The roads not turned into modern highways have vanished along with the homesteads they connected to, but Erskine could trace their history in the unexpected patches of yellows and pinks that remained to colour the ground.

I couldn’t ask for a better reminder that the actions we take today will have ripple effects running down through time. What traces will my humble garden leave behind for future generations?

We are all autobiographers, in a way, leaving pieces of our own histories etched into the face of the planet. The next time I go walking in the woods and spot something out of place —a stand of horseradish, or patch of garden cress—my mind will be going to Erskine’s study, and the memories of a people who once made this land bloom. Will someone, hundreds of years from now, stumble upon some trace of my tiny asparagus bed and my perennial herbs and trace the memory of my summer days, recall the dirt under my nails for future generations?

It’s not a bad legacy, all told.

~~Erskine, John S. The French Period in Nova Scotia, A.D. 1500-1758, and Present Remains : A Historical, Archeological and Botanical Survey. Wolfville, N.S.: 1975.

SheWhomILove1400_webres Love would be simpler if it came with a script.

Marguerite Ceniza dies on the London stage each night, but her own life has barely begun. The ingénue is on the prowl for a lover, but while she burns with desire for Sophie, a confession could ruin their decade-long friendship. In the meantime there are always men vying to be her patron, and square-jawed, broad-shouldered James Glover can’t help but catch her eye.

Sophie Armand has been a lady’s maid for too long, and she’s sick of keeping secrets. Her hidden scripts and the story of her birth are only the beginning. Her nights are haunted by desperate thoughts of the beguiling Marguerite, and of James, the handsome tradesman who whispers promises of forever into her ear.

James has the kind of problem a lot of men would kill for—two women, both beautiful, both sensual, and both willing. Sophie wants marriage, while Marguerite’s only in it for fun, and choosing between them isn’t easy.

What’s the worst that could happen if he secretly courts them both?

Their romantic triangle is complicated in the most delicious way, until a shadowy figure from Marguerite’s past threatens to destroy the budding relationship—and their lives.

Warning: Contains a lady’s maid with secret desires, a corset-maker who knows his way around a woman’s body, and an actress who never has to fake it. Rated for adult audiences only.

**ARE Bestseller, and Finalist in 2016 Bisexual Book Awards for both Best Romance and Best Erotic Romance categories.**

About the Author: Tess Bowery lives near the ocean, which sounds lovely, except when it snows. An historian by training and a theater person by passion, she’s parleyed her Masters degree in English history into something that would give her former professors something of a surprise.

Her love for the Regency era began as they always do, with Jane Austen, and took a sharp left turn into LBGT biographies and microhistory. Now she indulges in both of her passions, telling the stories of her community in the time periods that fire the human imagination. Her first foray into contemporary M/M fiction, High Contrast, releases in 2016.

Along with writing, Tess splits her time between teaching, backstage work, LBGT activism and her family. She spends far too much money on comic books, loves superheroes and ghost stories, and still can’t figure out how to use Twitter properly.

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Buy the book at Tess’s website.

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LASR Anniversary: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

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The Place to Be in the Summer

Every summer, my Granny’s porch became the gathering spot, a seasonal replacement for her living room. Sometime in late spring, my Pop would check out the glider. If it needed a fresh coat of paint or some oil to keep it gliding, he took care of the chores before returning it to its’ usual spot. Granny would get out the cushions or, every few years, buy new ones, usually in bright floral prints and make the glider a comfortable place to sit. To handle guests, they always brought a few of the heavy iron lawn chairs from the back as well and by the time summer arrived, the porch had become the place to be.

Although times have changed, I remain a porch person. I like to settle down in the swing on my front porch and read. I enjoy sipping some sweet iced tea or a chilled glass of Moscato wine. I also enjoy savoring a favorite summer treat out on the porch. Sure, there’s ice cream, sherbet, and Italian ices but another delight is peach upside down cake. It’s simple to make delicious to taste, and goes perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Here’s the recipe:

Peach Upside Down Cake

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 and ½ cup fresh peach slices or 1 16 ounce peach slices
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk.

Melt margarine in an eight or nine inch oven proof skillet or layer cake pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar and arrange the peach slices. Cream margarine and granulated sugar together, blend in egg and vanilla, then add combined dry ingredients alternating with milk. Stir batter and pour over fruit. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes. Invert onto serving platter.

Enjoy and savor the sweetness of peaches, one of my favorite fruits, while reading. Romantic suspense fans might enjoy my latest, Slattery’s Sin available in eBook or paperback. Here’s the cover blurb:te

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00070] Living in California, working undercover is still surreal for Louisiana native Pride Slattery. He stands out – because of his unusual name, his military service in Iraq, and even his disability. Although he’s never quite adjusted to Los Angeles, he remains in place because he’s lost any enthusiasm for the future. One day is just like another and he’s schooled himself not to care. Things change, however, when he rescues a stolen purse for a beautiful woman, Sabetha Hill, who turns out to be from back home. He risks his heart for the first time in years as events propel him closer to an unexpected future. When he’s billed as a hero at a traffic accident, Pride is unmasked as a federal agent and danger looms ahead for both him and his lady. Someone will live, someone will die, and whether or not there can be a happy ending rests in Pride’s hands.

About the Author: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy delves deep into the human experience as she writes from the heart about everyday people caught up in often extraordinary circumstances. Although she makes her home in the small town of Neosho, Missouri in the Ozarks, she’s a native of St. Joseph, Missouri. When she’s not writing or reading, she may be found in the classroom as a substitute teacher. She’s penned more than 17 full length novels, a number of novellas, has been included in two dozen anthologies, and published many short stories and articles. She writes a weekly column for the Neosho Daily News. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Missouri Writers Guild and the Ozark Writers League. Her novels and short fiction have won awards. Her publishers include World Castle Publishing, Evernight Publishing, and Champagne Books. She is married with three children. She enjoys cooking, gardening, and sitting on the front porch in what passes for suburbs in a small town.

Look for a new release coming this fall, Canaan’s Land, also from World Castle Publishing or any of her other titles. Check out the full list on her Amazon author page.

Amazon Author Page

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LASR Anniversary: Jana Richards

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This post is part of Long and Short Review’s 9th Anniversary Celebration. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a $100 gift card or other prizes.

Summertime in Spain
Two summers ago, my husband and I were lucky enough to spend a few days in Barcelona. We were about to embark on a cruise of the Rhone River in southern France, but before the cruise began, we had about three days to explore Barcelona. I loved the city. The architecture was beautiful, the people were warm and the weather was fabulous. Everywhere you look there’s something interesting to see.

We spent a lot of time walking around the old city, making our way through narrow cobbled streets lined with shops and tapas bars, and visiting extraordinary churches and other historical buildings. After our long walks we discovered the very pleasant Spanish custom of sitting at a sidewalk café and ordering a pitcher of sangria. I’d never much cared for sangria before, but I’m sure that was because it hadn’t been prepared properly. The Spanish really know their sangria! In every café we had it, it was delicious and refreshing. I can tell you the world looks very good when you’re watching it go by with a glass of sangria in your hand.

Here’s a recipe I found from Minimalist Baker that I believe embodies the summertime, chilled-out feel of Barcelona. ¡Que aproveche amigos!

Easy Traditional Red Sangria
½ apple, cored, skin on, chopped into small pieces
½ orange, rind on, sliced into small pieces, large seeds removed (plus more for garnish)
3-4 Tbsp (41-55 g) organic brown sugar, or 3 Tbsp (37.5 g) organic cane sugar
¾ cup (180 ml) orange juice, plus more to taste
1/3 cup (80 ml) brandy, plus more to taste
1 750 ml bottle of dry Spanish red wine
Ice to chill – 1 cup

1. Add apples, oranges and sugar to a large pitcher and muddle with a wooden spoon for 45 seconds.
2. Add orange juice and brandy and muddle again to combine for 30 seconds.
3. Add red wine and stir to incorporate, then taste and adjust flavor as needed. You can add more orange juice, brandy or sugar if you wish.
4. Add ice and stir once more to chill. Serve as is or with more ice. Garnish with orange segments (optional).
5. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator for up to 48 hours, though best when fresh.

perf5.000x8.000.inddDr. Alex Campbell has an agenda—finish his contract to provide medical services in Maine, pay off his medical school debt, and head back to his real life in San Diego. But when he meets Julia, all his carefully laid plans are put in jeopardy.

Julia Stewart, Lobster Cove’s high school principal, swears she’ll never let another man drag her away from the home she loves. Her aging parents need her, and the Cove is where she wants to raise her daughter. When her mother’s illness brings her and the big city doctor closer together, panic sets in. Her marriage taught her men don’t stay.

Can she put aside the heartaches of the past and trust Alex enough to accept the love he’s offering? Or will her fear of abandonment mean she’ll send him away forever?

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

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada with their Pug/Terrier cross Lou and several unnamed goldfish. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website.

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Buy the book at The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, or Barnes and Noble.

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LASR Anniversary: Victoria Pitts Caine

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This post is part of Long and Short Review’s 9th Anniversary Celebration. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a $100 gift card or other prizes.

Summer Memories

It’s hard to put my finger on one special memory, but a number of memories from summers spent at the lake surfaced in my mind. Several families joined us over the years. Some related, some friends. I was always the youngest child, much to my brother and cousin’s dismay.

I learned to swim at the lake even though I took lessons at the high school pool. Dad would always take us around to the back of the lagoon where there was a large tree with massive exposed roots clutching on to gleaming white quartz. I have a piece of it in my rock garden fifty some odd years later.

The meals and evening campfires were the best because everyone ate together. The grownups pooled their resources and came up with the best meals. My mother always fried yeast bread at least once during the two weeks we stayed. Sprinkled with powdered sugar it was a wonderful treat resulting in my sticky fingers mingled with the dirt of camping.

After dinner, the adults would sit at long wooden benches, the night lit by Coleman lanterns. Depending on who might be there, as many as four couples. They all played cards, while my brother told me stories. He liked to scare me and convinced me moths were only the babies of a monster winged creature that lived over the mountains. He called them hoo-dangs and had me scared for years.

We camped in the same spot after I married and had children, but a certain magic was gone. I was now the magic maker teaching my girls to roast marshmallows in the evening after a day at the creek with their dad. Their sticky little fingers reminded me of mine and I hope left a memory.

TheTemperingAgent_Cover_medDr. Priscilla Hackling finds herself thrown back into the murder investigation of her fiancé, Trey Whittington. While she was a suspect three years ago, she’s now working with the police to find the murderer, Egyptian artifact trafficker, Zarka El-Din.

During a sting operation in Siwa, she and Agent Donnie Barnes are drawn to each other but Priscilla, overcome by personal ghosts from her past, decides a relationship isn’t possible.

Priscilla realizes she’s the bait in the ruse and uncovers others involved with El-Din. Will she and Donnie reconcile and unravel the reason behind Trey’s death before El-Din kills her, too?

About the Author:Victoria Pitts Caine is a native Californian and lives in the central portion of the state. Her varied interests include genealogy and exotic gemstone collecting both of which she’s incorporated into her novels.

The author has received recognition in both fiction and nonfiction from: Enduring Romance top 10 picks for 2008, William Saroyan Writing Conference, Byline Magazine, Writer’s Journal Magazine and The Southern California Genealogical Society. Her first novel published in 2007.

Victoria is a former staff technician in air pollution control. She is the mother of two daughters. Victoria and her husband enjoy travel, cooking, and are self-appointed “foodies”.

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LASR Anniversary: R.J.Hore

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Summertime, and the Living is Queasy

Summers tend to be short and hectic here. By mid-July I still don’t have the boat in the water, the garden is turning into a major jungle threatening to hide the house, and I haven’t had the top down on my car in a week or more.

This morning the contractor came to give me his expert opinion on why the basement has water in one of the carpeted spare bedrooms. This afternoon I have an eye exam to see how well my sight is holding up.

And the large demanding cat got me up at 5:15am this morning to inform me he decided he wanted to sit outside in the screened-in porch and watch the world go by.

While doing the walkabout with the contractor I noticed the pump on the fish pond seems close to being completely plugged. This is probably due to all that recent activity in there. I suspect we have two males and one female who have become extremely lively lately. That probably means when I empty the pond in the fall I’m going to have to use a screen and watch out for small fry again. We already have two babysitting tanks inside. Somehow I thought fish would be the answer to keep mosquitos from using the pond as a nursery. I’m still not certain how well that is working.

But I’m a writer, and all this should be grist for my mill, except I’m working on an epic project which has nothing to do with summer. While I crack the 70,000 word mark I keep wondering if my editor is going to scream and throw this back at me. I’m supposed to be finishing off a trilogy with a first draft of book three due by the end of August.

Then too, I should be promoting my latest novel, “We’re Not in Kansas.” A near future sci-fi thriller tale about a mother and daughter way in over their heads, it’s a slight departure from my usual fantasy trilogies or my fantasy detective series. I will be on three writer’s panel discussions in mid-August at When Words Collide. Something else I should do some homework for.

I just looked at my watch which decided as of yesterday to slow down. The magnificent piece of technology has lost ten minutes in the last two hours. Where does time go?

Summers seem to be passing by faster now. I remember, years ago, when we putted across county in a Volkswagen camper. There was the daughter who danced on a wasp’s nest, and also got her finger stuck in a tent pole at a remote campsite just before dusk. That raises the embarrassing memory of the woman who found a lost son in a campground, shortly after she returned a couple of lost daughters.

I think I’ll have my second cup of coffee and stare out the window at the things I should be doing today, while remembering summers.

Kansas CoverArchaeologist and single mother Macy and her teenage daughter Tiffany are off to a dangerous part of the world, on a fool-hardy search for traces of an ancient Egyptian cat-goddess, Bastet. What they find is far more than they bargained for: a dangerous dictator, a mysterious police inspector, and a grizzled Indiana Jones look-alike.

You might say the trip takes them right out of this world. Will they get home alive, or simply disappear into very thin air?
Set in the near future, with a blend of thriller and speculative fiction, and a hint of romance.

About the Author: After winning a Canadian Authors national contest with a ghostly tale, Ron connected with Champagne Books of Alberta to complete “The Dark Lady” high fantasy trilogy, followed by “The Queen’s Pawn” trilogy, and his fantasy detective effort represented by a series of seven novellas: “The Housetrap Chronicles.” His latest novel with Champagne, blending modern with Dark Age, is “Alex in Wanderland.”

Ron recently signed on with a second publisher, eTreasures Publishing of Florida. His first novel there is, “We’re Not in Kansas,” a near future thriller. A what-if trilogy, “The Toltec Series,” is nearing completion with the first book due out shortly.

In his spare time he reviews genre novels for an on-line magazine and is a member of several writing groups.
Ron lives in Winnipeg with his understanding wife and a large demanding cat. On rare occasions he escapes to his sailboat on Lake Winnipeg.

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LASR Anniversary: M Pepper Langlinais

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Books in Season: Summer – M Pepper Langlinais

I’ve always felt that books, like movies, have a season. For summer, I prefer lighter fare, the stuff I can speed through, the “popcorn” of books. If I want a mystery, I’ll reach for Agatha Christie (John Le Carré is strictly fall/winter reading). If I want a thriller it had better be Michael Crichton or Tom Clancy or some similarly plot-driven tome. And I have a very particular memory of reading The Godfather while in Cancun one June. I also very much enjoy indulging in Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant series while sitting outside on my chaise lounge.

My sense of books having seasons began with my father who each fall would pick up The Hobbit and read it and The Lord of the Rings trilogy over winter. Then in the summer he would return to things like Stephen King or the Conan the Barbarian novels. On summer nights we would sit out on the deck together, and Dad would set up the telescope so we could search for planets. And while we did that, Dad would tell me the stories from his books. I first learned of Bilbo and Frodo and Galadriel—oh, how I was obsessed with her power and beauty!—from my dad’s oral history, and I first heard the terrifying story of the rabid dog Cujo that way, too. (I still have never read Cujo, though I’ve enjoyed many Stephen King stories since.)

One particular night when I was in fifth grade, Dad told me a mesmerizing story of time traveling Nazis and later slipped me his copy of Dean Koontz’s Lightning with the caution, “Don’t let your mother catch you with this.”

My parents were both readers, my mother leaning more toward torrid romance until the day she decided it was too sinful and she switched to what would be called “sweet” romances now. I did eventually develop my own taste for Regency romances, and those are also good summer reads, or most of them anyway. The Christmas ones are better for the holidays, naturally. Victoria Holt, however, is fine summer fare, as is Jane Austen.

In truth, summer books really are like summer movies. They move fast and don’t require too much work on the part of the reader (or viewer). Just like summer itself slipping past at an impossible speed, the long days getting shorter, the darkness closing in so slowly we pretend it will never come, summer books fly by like pages ruffled in a stiff breeze. And that breeze grows just a little bit cooler, day by day, as we rotate toward autumn. So enjoy summer now, and the books that go with it. Because there’s almost nothing worse than picking up a book and realizing it’s out of season and you can’t read it yet.*

*Of course you can read a book any time. I realize that. But, at least for me, the mood has to be right. Ripe. Hence my sense of books having a season.

The_Fall_and_Rise_of_Peter_Stoller_by_MPepper_Langinais-500In 1960’s London, British Intelligence agent Peter Stoller is next in line to run the Agency—until he falls in love with cab driver, Charles, and his life goes off the road. When Charles is accused of treason, Peter is guilty by association. Peter manages to extract them both, but the seeds of doubt have been planted, and Peter is compelled to find out whether his lover really is his enemy. Is ignorance truly bliss or merely deadly?

About the Author: M Pepper Langlinais is the author of several Sherlock Holmes stories as well as a produced playwright and screenwriter. Her latest project is the YA fantasy series CHANGERS. She lives with her husband, children, hamster, and cat in Livermore, CA. Find her at

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LASR Anniversary: Kathleen M. Rodgers

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She’s Come Undone

Stepping out of the pool
wearing nothing but a dare,
she looks around.
No roofers in sight,
only the neighbor’s cat
curled under the Mimosa
and a gecko doing pushups on the fence.

She crosses her arms in front of her
covering herself like a shield.
It’s the Pilgrim in her you know.
Then slowly, she drops the facade,
lifts her arms wide
and does breaststrokes in the air.
The stars aren’t even out,
high noon howls at her back
as she glides this way and that,
barefoot in the sun,
pirouetting in grass that’s still green
until the scarecrows come out.

A hawk flies overhead,
his high-pitched keeee calling her
to join him.
She takes off across the yard
and decades fall behind her,
shedding the years until she is five
and running through sprinklers.

Diving into the blue,
she torpedoes through the water
propelled by an energy
she hasn’t felt in years.
When she comes up for air,
she spots two lily pads of cloth
floating nearby…the discarded suit.
Flipping on her back,
the buzz of a light plane catches her attention.
And she laughs at the moment
when she defied convention.

© Kathleen M. Rodgers

johnny come latelyJohnnie Come Lately deals with the repercussions of a heat-of-the-moment confession, an absent mother, a son’s enlistment during wartime, and second chances. Johnnie Kitchen battles insecurity and doubt but never lets failure win. She comes from a family that is good at keeping secrets. Her mom has been missing for years, and she doesn’t know why? Maybe the statue at Soldier’s Park knows the answer. Or, the bird that calls her name?

About the Author:Kathleen M. Rodgers’ stories and essays have appeared in Family Circle Magazine, Military Times, and in anthologies published by McGraw-Hill, University of Nebraska Press/Potomac Books, Health Communications, Inc., AMG Publishers, and Press 53. In 2014, Rodgers was named a Distinguished Alumna from Tarrant County College/NE Campus. Three of her aviation poems from the book Because I Fly (McGraw-Hill) were featured in an exhibit at the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Long Island, NY.

Seven Wings to Glory is Rodgers’ third novel. Her second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, has garnered four awards: First Place Winner for women’s fiction from Texas Association of Authors 2016 Best Book Awards, 2015 Gold Medal for literary fiction from Military Writers Society of America, Bronze Medal for women’s fiction from Readers’ Favorite 2015 International Book Awards, & 2015 Best Cover Awards from Southern Writers Magazine. The novel has been featured in Family Magazine, Stars & Stripes, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Morning News, Southern Writers Magazine, and on “”The Author’s Corner”” on Public Radio. The audio edition is narrated by Grammy® Award-winning vocalist and Broadway Actress Leslie Ellis.

Rodgers is also the author of the award-winning novel, The Final Salute, featured in USA Today, The Associated Press, and Military Times.

She and her husband, Tom, a retired USAF fighter pilot/commercial airline pilot, reside in a suburb of North Texas with their rescue dog, Denton. The mother of two grown sons, Thomas and J.P., she is currently working on her fourth novel and is represented by Loiacono Literary Agency.

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