Friday, May 30, 2014

Two Free Books for Freebie Friday!

I haven't read either of these books, but they look so interesting that I thought I'd pass them along.  The first one You Belong With Me by Shannon Guymon, looks like a fun romance!

Here's the back copy:

Layla Kendall is the oldest of three sisters. She's a burned out social worker one step away from a major depression and she needs a fresh start. When she and her sisters Kit and Jane inherit their grandmother's bakery, she doesn't know if she can trust her good fortune or not. Life has taught her that happiness is just an illusion. But the chance to be with her sisters and get away from the heart ache and pain she's faced day in and day out is a chance she's going to take. The fact that they don't know anything about running a bakery won't stop them. 

With Layla's new life, come new connections and friendships including Michael Bender, a single dad and someone who wouldn't mind getting to know Layla better. She doesn't trust men and she doesn't want to change her mind but Michael's little girl Stella grabs her by the heart and won't let go. When Layla and her sisters realize that there are people who want to see them fail, it will take a lot of heart and courage to keep going. Layla will have to let go of the past in order to grab onto the future if she'll ever find the love she needs.

If this looks like something you'd like to read, click here to download your free Kindle copy!

The second one is billed as a clean YA paranormal romance.

Here's the (very long) back copy:

A dark shadow stalks the night, watching her—waiting to claim what is his. 

Seventeen-year-old Tayla Jonas longs for a simple life, but after a traumatizing family loss, she is forced to be both mother and sister to her cousins while caring for her mentally unstable aunt. Moving to her grandma’s quiet town of Cody, Wyoming, Tayla finds some normalcy with her quirky green activist friend, Chel, who spends no time converting her to vegetarianism. 

A few weeks into her new school, Tayla catches the eye of Kyle Harrington—the high school quarterback and resident millionaire—who can seduce any girl with his charismatic charm, including Tayla. But Kyle is anything but what he seems. 

Walking through City Park, Tayla is unaware that an ancient curse has her in its crosshairs. The silver moonlight illuminates the path to her van, sprinkling shadows like evil twinkling eyes. Tayla’s skin prickles, and she turns. Something—or someone—is watching her. 

A powerful werewolf steps from the shadows. An iridescent blue chord shoots from him and slams into her stomach, dissolving instantly. Pain wracks her body, and she tries to scramble to safety, but his silver eyes freeze her in place as the curse binds them together. The chord settles deep inside her body, coiling with dread around her heart. 

Dismayed by the prospect of a werewolf for a shadow, Tayla fears for the safety of her friends and family. How will she keep the werewolf’s insatiable hunger in check? Her plans for a vegetarian lifestyle quickly dwindle away, and Tayla wrestles to fit her frazzled life back together—piece by piece. But what she didn’t expect was her attraction to the werewolf or the power of the full moon. 

Will Tayla be strong enough to survive the Curse of the Beast? Or will it consume her like so many before? Find out in the first installment of this unique retelling of Beauty and the Beast. A clean young adult paranormal romance. **2012 Whitney Award Nominee** 

If this looks like something you'd want to read, click here to download your free Kindle copy!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

How I Got Out of a Writing Slump

Well, friends, it's tough to admit, but I've been in a writing slump for a while now.  And by slump I mean, I just can't wrap my brain around the craft I've studied for years.  I'm like an octopus, reaching for something I know is there in as many ways as I can, but unable to grasp anything.

I've been working to get out of this slump, trying everything I can to force myself to sit down and write. Usually writing is a stress reliever for me, but lately I've been under so much stress that my mind felt melted, frozen, unable to string any words into an intelligible sentence.  I've never faced anything like it before.

So, now that I'm coming out of said slump, I thought I'd share the three things that really helped me.

One.  Don't sit at the computer.  Print out your manuscript and work on it, or just write it out on a piece of paper. Somehow just being at the computer was overwhelming so when I just used my trusty paper and pen, in the sunshine, or sitting in the car, or anywhere but at my desk, it helped.

Two.  Do writing sprints with people, but don't put pressure on yourself.  I was just typing out mostly dialogue, but it got the story flowing in my veins again and put some words on the page that I could work with.

Three.  Walk.  Taking a walk worked out some of my stress and let my mind wander over my characters and story. It was cathartic and got my creativity going again.

Being in a writing slump has been hard and has taught me some lessons about myself and my writing.  I've learned that emotional stress stunts my writing like no other. I've learned that forcing myself to sit at the computer didn't help at all.  Neither did watching a JAG marathon or eating a bag of pretzels while I struggled to get something on the page.  Complaining didn't help and hoping it would go away didn't help either.  Just the simple steps above calmed me and allowed the writing to flow again. Whew!

I'm just so glad my slumpiness is going away.  I've missed the invigoration I feel when a story is coming together.  I feel like raising my arms in triumph and saying, "I'm baaaaack!"

So tell me, how do you get out of a writing slump?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Word Count Wednesday

Well, I won a three chapter critique from Eschler Editing so I've been endlessly tweaking my three chapters that I'm going to give to them.  Which pretty much means my word count went like this---add two words, take away three words, add four more words, take away one word, and so on and so on.

I think I might have broke even.

I need to stop tweaking and just give it to them.  And probably stop obsessing so much. It's a curse I tell you. The curse of the endless editing.

How did you do this week?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ten Life Lessons From A Navy SEAL

Navy Admiral William McRaven Photo Credit AP

With graduations going on all around the country, I was interested when I saw this article that William McRaven, who was the former commander of SEAL Team 3 and is the current commander of U.S Special Operations command, gave a commencement address for the University of Texas at Austin.

His address was comparing a lot of what he learned in basic SEAL training, which he described as, "six months of long, torturous runs in the soft sand, midnight swims in the cold water off San Diego, obstacles courses, unending calisthenics, days without sleep and always being cold, wet and miserable," and how he could apply those lessons to real life.  (And SEAL training doesn't sound fun. At all.)

He gives ten lessons he learned in SEAL training that could help these graduates form a foundation for their lives. The lessons were all really good, and the article is well worth the read, but there were two that really stuck out to me.

The first one described how they would line up for a uniform inspection that was exceptionally thorough. You had to have a perfectly pressed uniform and starched hat and your belt buckle had to be extra shiny.  But no matter what you did, how perfect you had it, the instructors would always find something wrong and when they did, you had to run, fully clothed into the surf then roll around in the beach sand until every part of your body was covered with sand. They called that the “sugar cookie” and you had to stay in that uniform for the rest of day, cold, wet, and full of sand.

McRaven said that so many SEAL trainees just couldn't accept the fact that no matter what they did, their efforts were in vain and no matter how hard they tried it was all unappreciated.  He said, "Those students didn’t understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform. Sometimes no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform, you still end up as a sugar cookie. It’s just the way life is sometimes. If you want to change the world, get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward."

As a mother, as an author, as a human being, sometimes no matter how hard I try, my efforts are in vain and aren't appreciated.  I can stew about the child who doesn't see how much I've done or sacrificed for them that day, I can cry about the bad review I got on the book I loved writing so much, or I can do as McRaven suggests and get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.

I love that image. I love the idea of being in the trenches, getting dirty, being cold and miserable, but getting up and moving forward instead of wallowing in my sugar cookie-ness.  And the idea that I can try again and again because sand can be washed away at the end of the day, you know?  I can still change the world both as a mother and as an author.

I also really liked the ones about making the bed and not judging people by the size of their flippers, but the second one that really touched me was when the trainees had to paddle down to some mud flats and spend fifteen hours trying to survive freezing cold mud and the pressure to quit from the instructors.  He tells the story of how one night his class was ordered into the mud. It was so gooey it sucked them down in until you couldn't see anything but their heads.  The instructors promised that if five men would quit they could get out of the mud.  It looked like some men were considering it because it was still eight hours until the sun came up and that meant eight more hours of "bone-chilling cold."

Then one guy started to sing--horribly out of tune, but loud and proud. Others started to join in until the whole class was singing.  They knew that "if one man could rise above the misery, then others could as well." After they started singing, McRaven commented that, " . . .somehow — the mud seemed a little warmer, the wind a little tamer and the dawn not so far away. If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person — Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela and even a young girl from Pakistan, Malala — one person can change the world by giving people hope. So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud."

How many times have we thought about quitting as writers?  How many times has the mud of deadlines and critiques and reviews pulled us down?  How many times have you thought, "I don't think I can do this," when the child has a dance recital in less than an hour and lost their dance costume and the phone is ringing and someone is yelling and the house is in chaos?  Honestly, when I turn on some music, whether it's Van Halen or Piano Guys, depending on the situation, it does calm something inside me when I sing loudly (and probably off-tune actually.)  Even humming along can change my attitude and take away some of the stress when I need it most. Somehow, there always seems to be that tiny voice of hope inside me when I'm singing that things will be better tomorrow.  I can get through this.

There were so many more things I could say about the simplicity of Admiral McRaven's address and how he related things that he had learned to real world applications. The ideas he presented weren't new, but they were put in such a way that has really made me think today.

Here's what you should do.  Go and read the whole article, then come back and tell me what was your favorite life lesson. I think I could go on and on with what struck me about this address.  This man has battled in his life, he's gone to the forefront of the war on terror, and yet when he wanted to leave a legacy behind to graduating students, he spoke of his basic training and how that laid the foundation for his life.  I know I will be looking back at my own legacy and foundation as a wife, mother, and author. What about you?

Click here for the full article.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Book Review: Immersed and a Giveaway!

Immersed tour

Immersed New

First of all, Happy Memorial Day. I hope you take a moment to remember those who have died for freedom and that you get to spend today with friends and family.

Today I'm taking part in the blog tour for the last of the Ripple Effect novellas, Immersed, by Jennifer Griffith.  This one is about Lisette Pannebaker who graduates with her MBA but her life doesn't go the way she expects.  Her almost-fiance unceremoniously dumps her while at the grad ceremony, and to top it off, her mother seems to be backing away from helping her start her own business, wanting her to find a husband instead.  She holds firm with her mom, though, and starts what she thinks will be her dream job. Unfortunately, her clients mostly see a pretty face and don't take her seriously as a type of language immersion assistant, and want her to be more of an escort, if you catch my drift.

Her Aunt Corky (a quirky fun character in the book) suggests she do a make-under to make herself less attractive and help clients see her as more than a pretty face.  Everything seems to be going okay until Lisette finds out that her mother is keeping a huge secret (and I wish the mom had been a stronger character. She barely bats an eye at some of the things that happen to Lisette and puts herself in a situation that seems odd for a woman who is a major shareholder in a corporation to really do. But at the end of the day, she does love her daughter and that's clearly shown.) Anyway, at the last moment, Lisette lands a client from Iceland, Erik Gunnarson, who could help her get her mom out of the predicament she's in, but he has a few secrets of his own.  (I really loved him as a hero. Sweet and unsure, yet strong in all the ways that matter. *le sigh*) And the author definitely provides us with a nice twisty ending on the road to happily ever after. Love that.

This novella was a fun afternoon escape, light fluffy-type romance that every girl needs once in a while. A nice finish to the series.

Here's the back copy:

Lisette Pannebaker speaks five languages and has a brilliant business plan—personal language immersion. Clients can hire her to shadow them and speak all day in any language they need to learn for business or travel—whatever. But there’s a major hitch: she’s far too pretty. Clients with less than honorable intentions sign up just have Lisette at their side. Solution? A make-under. Way under.It works like a charm. None of her male clients show her the least bit of interest. Until… Erik. Erik Gunnarsson is charming, kind, and smart—everything she’s ever looked for. Even though he seems to have a secret and she swore she'd never date a client, Lisette is tempted to shed her disguise—even if it means jeopardizing her career.


Author Jennifer Griffith Jennifer Griffith studied French, German, Japanese, and a wee bit of Spanish in her school days. Her grandmother was Norwegian, and Jennifer grew up with lots of Scandinavian traditions floating around, including fabulous cardamom laced cookies called Krumkaker, made on a fancy waffle iron. However, she’d never dream of trying to teach someone any of those languages. And she might botch the cookies. Instead, she writes novels in English, drives her five kids a million places, and laughs with her husband, who came up with the plot for Immersed because he’s just a cool muse like that.

  Blog Tour Giveaway $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 6/9/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 23, 2014

Nearly Freebie Must Have Books!

Yesterday I posted about the Bookmarked Bargains going on, so I won't repeat myself here.  But I did want to mention that two of Joyce DiPastena's books are both .99 cents.  (Loyalty's Web and Illuminations of the Heart.) She is one of my favorite medieval romance writers.  The research that goes into her books is incredible, and yet it's not a history lesson.  You really get lost in the romance and the setting.  I have loved every book I've read of hers and wanted to pass it on.

Here's the back copy for Loyalty's Web:

Heléne de Laurant has not forgotten how the Earl of Gunthar destroyed her father’s castle during Henry II’s war with his sons. Apparently neither have her family and friends, for when someone tries to murder Gunthar, every sign points in their direction. Heléne realizes the only way to prove her loved ones’ innocence is by exposing the true assassin.

As Heléne and Gunthar spar over the identity of the traitor, fierce determination gives way to mutual attraction. Heléne must race against time, and dark secrets of the past, to unmask the would-be killer before the kingdom plunges back into war and takes the life of the man she has unexpectedly learned to love.

If this looks like something you're interested in, click here to download your copy for only 99 cents!  And then download the next one in the series, Illuminations of the Heart, for .99 cents, too!  

Here's the back copy:

Siri de Calendri was trained in the art of illumination in her brother’s workshop in 12th century Venice, but when her brother dies his will sends her far from home. Siri travels to the faraway county of Poitou in France, where she enters the guardianship of her brother’s friend, Triston de Brielle. Once settled, she hopes to find employment in an illuminator’s shop— until Triston unexpectedly snatches her heart away with a kiss.

Triston is a man of quiet honor and courage, but the guilt he carries for the death of his wife, Clothilde, has left him numb and hesitant to love again. Worse yet, Siri bears an uncanny resemblance to his lost love. Or does she? Her merry laughter and twinkling eyes are very different from his late wife's shy smiles and quiet ways. Yet when he gazes into Siri's face, all he sees is Clothilde.

Then Triston's past returns to threaten them both. Trapped between the rivalry of the king's sons on the one hand and a neighbor out for vengeance on the other, Triston realizes it would be safer to send Siri away. Siri is determined not to be cast off and not to live in another woman’s shadow. She has illuminated many a priceless book with pen and paint, but can her own vibrant spirit illuminate the darkness in Triston’s soul and make his heart beat for her alone?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bookmarked Bargains Sale Starts Today!

Have you gone over to look at the Bookmarked Bargains site? There are dozens of books on sale for .99 cents or FREE and the chance to win all a Reader's Pack full of fun prizes. Go to Bookmarked Bargains to click on the books you'd like to purchase and to enter to win. (Yes, I've already been and downloaded several books I've been hoping would come on sale!)

Just for your preview enjoyment, here are the participating authors. Definitely something for everyone!

Imperfect Love, Rebecca Talley
Wild Hearts, Heather Tullis
Fallen Angel, Lisa Swinton
The Daisy Chain, Heather Moore
Sweet Confections, Danyelle Ferguson 
A Portrait for Toni, Annette Lyon
My Own Mr. Darcy, Karey White
Home Matters, Julie N. Ford
Silver Linings, Kaylee Baldwin
Third Times the Charm, Heather Moore

Discovering Sophie, Cindy Roland Anderson
The Making of a Queen (Ariana Book 1), Rachel Ann Nunes
Prank Wars, Stephanie Fowers
Mr. Wrong, Alivia Anderson
Intercession, Vicki Budge

Amazon, Sunset, Marie Higgins
Loyalty’s Web, Joyce DiPastena
The Man from Shenandoah, Marsha Ward
Intertwine, Nichole Van
Illuminations of the Heart, Joyce DiPastena
Spinster’s Folly, Marsha Ward
Tell me No Lies, Rachel Branton
Spy Noon (Spy Another Day prequel), Jordan McCollum
A Change of Plans, Donna K. Weaver
Fourth of July, Cami Checketts
Homecoming Identity, Heather Justesen
I, Spy (Spy Another Day #1), Jordan McCollum
To Sleep No More, Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen
The Colony, Cami Checketts

There, Their, They're: A no-tears guide to grammar from the word nerd, 2nd edition, Annette Lyon   
Homeschool Lifestyles from Homeschool Moms, Valerie Steimle
The 2012 Book Bloggers' Cookbook, Christy Dorrity
Of One Heart: Being Single in the LDS World, Valerie Steimle

Nourish and Strength, Maria Hoagland
Wall of Faith, J Loyd Morgan
Intercession, Vicki Budge
Family Size, Maria Hoagland

Just Like Elizabeth Taylor, Lu Ann Staheli          
Worth It (an LDS love story), Taryn Taylor
The Princess Sisters, Stacy Lynn Carroll
Frogs and Toads, Stacy Lynn Carroll
Confessions of 16-year-old Virgin-Lips, Cindy Hogan
Samara: A Kilenya Romance, Andrea Pearson
Tides across the Sea, Lu Ann Staheli
Gravediggers, Cindy Hogan

Heroes of the Highest Order (1-3), Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen
The Secret Sisters Club (A Ginnie West Adventure), Monique Bucheger
The Stone of Valhalla, Mikey Brooks
The Key of Kilenya, Andrea Pearson
Simply West of Heaven: A Ginnie West Adventure, Monique bucheger
The Dream Keeper, Mikey Brooks

The Waxing Moon, author J Loyd Morgan
Blue Dragon (Dragonbound Series book one), Rebecca Shelley
Nexus Point, the Fall of the Altairan Empire Book 1, Jaleta Clegg
Soul Windows, Jaleta Clegg
DragonBound IV: Red Dragon, Rebecca Shelley

Inevitable, Tamara Heiner
Twisted Tales Trilogy, Stephanie Fowers
The Roilden Stones of Elf Mountain,  Anna del C.
Awakening: Book One of the Geis, Christy Dorrity
Fateful, Cheri Schmidt
The Silent Warrior Trilogy, Anna del C.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Word Count Wednesday & Writing Sprints

I KILLED it this week. I found a sprint partner and sprinted two nights this week that added 6288 words to my manuscript.  Then I buckled down on my own and added another 3222.  So BOOYAH! It's been a good work week for me. Over NINE THOUSAND WORDS. I kicked butt and I'm not going to lie, that feels really good.

I cannot even tell you how motivating it was to have that sprint partner.  I didn't realize how much I missed having that, and since I've been having a lot of trouble with this work in progress, it was just the kick in the butt I needed.

What about you? Do you find sprints motivating or is it too much pressure? How did you do this week?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Castle Withdrawals, Dancing With the Stars, & 24

I was feeling the Castle withdrawals last night.  *sigh* It's going to be a long summer.

Although I did tune in for Dancing With the Stars.  I've been rooting for Derek Hough and his partner, Amy Purdy, who is a Paralympian bronze medalist. Both of her legs were amputated below the knee when she contracted bacterial meningitis at the age of nineteen. I couldn't believe that a woman without legs would be competing on a dance show and this season's competitors were especially good (two other Olympians, for example), not to mention that everyone else had two feet (some of them had both left feet, though! Ha!) Yeah, Amy struggled at times working with her prosthetic feet, trying to find solutions for any obstacles as to what her body could and could not do, and going out of her comfort zone in learning dances that anyone would have trouble learning, never mind someone with a disability like hers. I've been inspired every week by a woman who is gutting it out, giving her all,and showing the world that just because you have a disability that doesn't mean you can't achieve your dreams, no matter how out of reach they seem or what doctors may say. Amy has been a poster girl to just "take that first step" and bring your dream in reach and she became a great dancer in the process. I'll be cheering for them at the finals tonight!

And then I watched Jack Bauer tearing it up on 24.  One thing that show has really shown to me is how to ratchet up tension in a scene.  The writers of that show are so good at showing what the stakes are and then coiling up the scene (and the consequences) with every second that passes.  It is mesmerizing.

This ep has the president addressing British Parliament and trying to explain how a U.S. drone attacked and killed British and American soldiers.  The Chief of Staff, Mark Something or Other (are last names important? I can only think of him as Tate anyway) is deciding what to tell the president and when.  He's so shifty!

Meanwhile, Jack Bauer is trying to get the flight data recorder from the pilot who is holed up in the American Embassy in London.  He uses protesters to gain entrance, then once he gets the recording, he can't escape the dozens of Marines looking for him, so he barricades himself in the communication room with hostages. (And he flips tables! I knew that was coming, haha!)  But it was So. Tense.  I love that stuff.  Kiefer also uses the full power of his velvet voice, which is how we explain why everyone just does what Jack wants when faced with The Velvet. No one can resist the Velvet! (There used to be recaps on a website years ago that actually called Jack, the Velvet.  I should see if it's still around.)

Anyway, we shift to the the terrorists who are evil and terrible and violent.  I had to turn away during one scene, but that's classic 24 actually.  I should probably take some lessons from that, since my critique group says my villain in my current book needs to be meaner.

So, there you have it.  What about you?  Are you watching any good shows or are they all on hiatus now?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Double Book Review: Miss Milton Speaks Her Mind & Come Home to Me

Today's double book review starts with Carla Kelly's Miss Milton Speaks Her Mind, but it is a tiny bit incomplete because I haven't quite had the chance to finish it! But I'm dying to climb into my bed and find out what Miss Milton's secret is.

So far, this has been a slow and sweet romance to savor. It's not a first love with fireworks and sparks, but a sedate love filled with moments and friendship and sweetness.  Our hero isn't the dashing six pack ab rake, but a mill owner, an older man, (forty years old I think it said) with glasses and a compassionate heart.  This is a romance that will make you sigh and smile.

It's about Miss Milton, who has come from a rough background of a work house and being in charge of girls at a finishing school. She comes home to her cousin's home where he asks her to care for his newborn baby while he takes a weekend trip with his wife.  The wife is killed on the trip, and the husband dies later on, so Miss Milton is left to care for this sweet orphan boy whom she loves as her own. Unfortunately, her rich relatives seem to feed on rumors that he isn't legitimately the heir and are indifferent and somewhat cruel to the boy.  When he's forced to go to Latin School with the bullies of the village, the mill owner offers to help tutor him.

And that my friends is the start to this beautiful friendship that blossoms right before our eyes.  *sigh* The thing of it is, Miss Milton has this secret and while I think I know what it is, I don't know for sure so I'm going to go finish the book so I can see if I'm right!

Here's the back copy:

A lovely young woman is the guardian of her cousin's son, whom she has cared for since his parents's death, and loved as her own. Her wealthy relatives question the true parentage of the boy, placing his inheritance and their future in jeopardy. Then a handsome mill owner offered to tutor the young boy, catching the eye of his guardian, as well. But could she really find love while harboring a scandalous secret that no man could know....

The second book is Come Home to Me by Brenda Novak.  I have really enjoyed Brenda Novak's Whiskey Creek series and this is the next installment.

Presley wasn't part of the original group, but we got to know her in Cheyenne and Dylan's story and I was glad Ms. Novak decided to do her story.  When we last saw her, she was trying to get her life together and stay away from her pal Aaron since he took her back to her old life of drugs and on the edge living. Now she's come back to Whiskey Creek and is opening a massage/yoga business. Aaron is thinking about leaving Whiskey Creek to do his own mechanic business.  They cross paths and the sparks fly as they struggle to figure out if their connection is something they should pursue.  Of course there are always complications, like the fact that Presley hasn't told Aaron that her baby is his baby, too. Such raw emotion between the two of them really added to the story.

The only thing that took away from the story, for me, was Cheyenne's deception of Dylan. Since it's likely he's infertile, her scheme is to use Aaron's biological material and pass the baby off as Dylan's. It really ruined Cheyenne for me and she had been my favorite story from the series.  Sigh.

If you take away the Cheyenne issue, though, Presley's story was well done. Full of emotions, great dialogue, and of course, Whiskey Creek with all its quirks and characters. (For my gentle readers, there were brief sexual situations that are easily skipped.)

Here's the back copy:

Home is where her heart is...

When Presley Christensen returns to Whiskey Creek with her little boy after two years away, she has completely changed her life. She's made peace with her past and overcome the negative behavior that resulted from her difficult childhood. Now she's back in the small town that was the closest thing to "home" she ever knew—the town where she can be with the sister who's her only family.

There's just one catch. Aaron Amos still lives in Whiskey Creek, at least until he moves to Reno to open a branch of the Amos brothers' auto body shop. And no matter how hard she's tried, Presley hasn't been able to get over him. Seeing him again makes the longing so much worse. But she hopes she can get through the next few months, because she can't fall back into his arms…or his bed. She's come too far to backslide now. And there's a secret she's been guarding—a secret she'll do anything to protect.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday Freebie---Your Eyes Don't Lie

Today's Friday Freebie is Your Eyes Don't Lie by Rachel Branton.  I haven't read this one yet, but I've read other books by this author that I've enjoyed so I'm glad I found this one free today!

Here's the back copy:

Sometimes Survival Isn’t Enough . . .
Years of living on the street and fending for herself have made Makay Greyson tough and resourceful, if a bit disillusioned. She’s come a long way from sleeping in parks and scavenging for food. Her entire focus is on providing a better life for her young brother, one without fear of loss and neglect.

That certainly doesn’t leave time for Harrison Matthews, who from their first meeting sends fire through her veins and upsets all her carefully laid plans.

Makay has done things she isn’t proud of to survive, and those choices now threaten the small amount of security she’s created—and any chance of a future with Harrison. They’ve been raised in two very different worlds, and the secrets they both hide can only lead to disaster.

There is only one chance to make it right, and one misstep could be fatal.

Your Eyes Don’t Lie is a story about facing fears, sacrificing for those you love, and about a girl who thinks she isn’t worth loving and a guy who knows she is.

If this sounds like a book you'll enjoy, click here to download your free Kindle copy!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Importance of a Writer's Chair

This is the chair that I have written the last five or so of my novels on.

My husband has offered to buy me a new one, I've even had a neighbor offer me one that they couldn't use anymore because as you can see, it's a little on the worn side.

I can't seem to bring myself to replace it.  There's just something about this chair.  It's comfy.  It's familiar.  It knows me and my moods. It tips back and rocks a bit, so when I'm deep in thought or working out a plot problem, I can kick back and rock and think.  It's the perfect height for me and is soft like a pillow.  I can even sit sideways in it and drape a foot over the arm for those times when I've got a deadline and I'm sitting in this chair for hours and need a different position.

For me, a writer's chair is an important chair, an important part of a writer's support system.  You can't just have any old chair for a writer because it's there for all kinds of moments.  My chair has seen over half of my writing career.

  • This chair supported me (since I was sitting in it) when I found out I was accepted by a publisher and nominated for different writing awards.
  • This chair has seen the blood, sweat, and tears of doing edits and being up against deadlines. (And yes, I mopped up any and all spills off the chair.)  
  • This chair has held me while I slept at my desk after one too many long nights.  (At least until my husband came to see what I was doing.)
  • This chair has heard all my laughs and sighs as I've written scene after scene and been there every time I've written The End.  It even provided the little swivel of celebration for that moment.  (Who doesn't love the swivel?) 

It has been the perfect writer's chair for me.

So, even though it's tattered and worn, and has definitely seen better days, I know this chair will be there until it can't support me anymore. And I will let it.  For the love of a writer's chair.

All I can say, is thank heavens for the perfect writer's chair.  *swivel*

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Word Count Wednesday, A Book Cover Contest, & Stories Wanted!

There are two awesome things to tell you about today and one not so awesome thing.  What do you want to hear first? The not so awesome thing? *sigh* Okay.  I didn't do very well with my word count until yesterday. But I'm on a roll and working hard now. I got just over a thousand words. Woohoo! (In a subdued sort of voice.)  (I changed the name of my heroine, though, so I have to go back and make sure I got all the old names out of the manuscript. Harder than you think!)

The first awesome thing is a book cover contest! There are some awesome covers up for an IndieRevAward (yes my cover is one) but you should totally go and check out all the covers and vote for your favorite Winners get cash prizes, so yay!  Click here to see the covers and scroll all the way down to cast your vote.

The second awesome thing is that my friend, Julie Spencer, is compiling a collection of stories and recipes and is asking for submissions of comforting times where food has positively affected your life and/or the lives of the ones you love. For example: when someone has a baby, we show up with food. If someone passes away, we show up with food. If we're getting together for a celebration (holiday, wedding, graduation, etc.) it always involves food! In so many ways, we speak love with food! The stories will be compiled in a similar fashion as one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books (no pun intended, it's just that type of book). It will be positive and uplifting, maybe a few tears here and there but in a good way. You can click here for more details. Doesn't that sound like such a great thing!

How did you do on your word count this week?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Thoughts on Castle Season Finale For Better or Worse

Last night's season finale still has me shaking my head.  I should have known . . .

We start out with Castle's family going over wedding details---venue is set, tuxedo fittings are being set up (although I still think having Alexis as best man was silly.)  Our happy couple is heading to get the wedding license and everything seems in order except for the fact that Beckett doesn't have her divorce papers.  And didn't know she was married!

Apparently, she'd gone on a drunken weekend to Vegas with Rogan O'Leary when she was in college and thought it would be fun to go to a wedding chapel drive-thru.  She didn't think it would be legal, but it is.  Of course Kate is freaking out a bit and Castle calls his lawyer.  He presents her with dissolution of marriage papers that she has to get Rogan to sign.  Castle stays behind to keep going with wedding plans, Kate heads off to find Rogan. Probably one of the funniest moments was Espo and Ryan telling her what her "husband" has been up to and how long his rap sheet is.  They are really rubbing it in and it was funny. The other funny moment with those guys was when Ryan tried on his tux and it was really really small. And Espo made fun of him. Haha! I love those two.

Although, when Kate does find Rogan, I have to say, I laughed pretty hard when he looked up from the floor where he landed after his current girlfriend clocked him and he says, "Kit kat?"  Haha.  Anyway, she tells him about their marriage and he sees that she wants him to sign those papers pretty bad so he says he will if she steals the garage door opener in his girlfriend's truck.  The look on Castle's face when she tells him what she's about to do? Priceless.

She gets the garage door opener and goes back to get Rogan to sign the papers, but he's being abducted. Kate calls it in, but as soon as the police officer realizes it's Rogan, she puts her notebook away saying they don't have enough manpower to look for Rogan with all his shenanigans.  Poor Kate.  Castle heads up to help her look for him and I liked how this episode really highlighted how well they work together as a couple. They balance each other, even under the worst circumstances.  I mean, during this episode alone, the venue had a fire, Kate's dress was ruined, and she's still married to a loser.  She starts to unravel a bit, but Castle's little speech about how every great love story has obstacles to overcome and that's what makes it great made me say awwww.  Love, love, love them.

Caskett go back to Rogan's apartment where an armed gang is waiting for them.  They reveal that Rogan had hired them to steal a stripper's phone and they wanted their $5000 for the job. Castle only has $500 on him which buys them twelve hours before the armed gang breaks Castle's legs.  They head over to question the stripper and get nowhere, but Rogan's girlfriend lets them see the laptop he was trying to get back from her and that has a lot of information on it---like downloaded pictures from the stripper's phone that has a local pastor getting a lap dancer  They go to the pastor and he admits the blackmail but says he was going to pay $25,000 to make it all go away.  Our dynamic duo realizes that Rogan was taking over the stripper's blackmail, so they go back to her strip joint, but she's gone.  Her friend gives Caskett her boyfriend's address, though, so they go looking for the stripper there.  She isn't there, but Rogan is, being held in a barn.
They sneak in and approach a hooded figure on a bale of hay and when Beckett touches his shoulder, his head falls off.  It's a scarecrow.  But Castle screams like a girl which makes Rogan cackle like an old woman and question Castle's masculinity.  Their little digs at each other go on for the rest of the episode and they were funny as well---except for the fact that Rogan starts to call Castle Man Parts.  That was weird.

Beckett gets down to business and won't untie him until he signs the papers.  He's futzing around, doesn't want to sign them and lets slip that the guy who has him is named Barbosa and they want the laptop because it has his picture on it.  Kate remembers that Barbosa is a mob hitman that has eluded authorities for years. They have to get out of there.  But it's too late. They're all caught and tied up.  After some pretty funny dialogue when all three of them are tied up, Castle leads them back to Rogan's apartment where the armed gang is waiting for them. Kate mentions to the gang that they get the $100,000 reward for Barbosa's capture and they take it.

Kate and Castle wrap things up with Rogan, get the papers signed, and head for the wedding.  Everything is set.  The Hampton house looks beautiful, Kate is in her mother's gown, Martha gives her family heirloom earrings, Castle is on the phone telling her he loves her and will be there in twenty minutes.  However, a mysterious black car is tailing him and getting closer. Uh oh.

An hour later he hasn't arrived and everyone is worried.  Then Kate gets the call and rushes to the scene of a fiery car crash where she stand there in her wedding dress, staring in horror.  Oh no Castle! The look on her face is devastating.

And matches my own! How could they leave us hanging for an entire summer with that? Aaaarrrrrggghhh.

Did you see it? What did you think?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Double Book Review & Giveaway!

I am so excited to tell you about this book. It is seriously one of the funniest and yet poignant books I've read all year. So. Funny.  Like tears running down my cheeks and I can't breathe funny.  But I better start from the beginning.

So, the book is these two black ladies who are members of the LDS church and they talk about their lives with funny stories that also taught them lessons about faith  The dialogue is so . . . them, with phrases like "Be your brother's keeper, not your brother's creeper," and "God is in the game"  and "Will Smith (with his fine self)" and "if we wanna stay boo'd up," (the book even provides handy definitions if you don't know what the phrase means LOL) to just name a few.  These ladies present life lessons with a perspective I've never really heard before, but boy did I need it. Love, love, love this book.  And the stories/chapters were short enough to give me a quick pick me up and food for thought all at the same time. You have to get this book. So. Good

Here's the back copy:

You’ve read the title, and now you’re scratching your head, wondering if this book is for real, right?

It is. Yes, the authors are bona fide Mormons. And hilarious, too! They call themselves Sistas in Zion.

Did we mention they’ve got enough faith to move mountains? Well, they haven’t moved any mountains just yet, but that’s not stopping them from keeping right on praying and believing and knowing that the gospel of Jesus Christ is worth it.

Their unique perspective on their own diary entries will have you laughing one minute and exclaiming “Amen!” the next. They talk about personal experiences and lessons they’ve learned about relationships, sisterhood, standing up for what you believe, embracing diversity, and dealing with adversity—what being a Christian is all about.

The Sistas’ humorous and poignant outlook on life will strengthen your faith and remind you of the joy to be found in living a Christ-centered life. You’ll soon realize that the authors aren’t mad-mad—they’re crazy-mad, funny, and inspiring!

Zandra Vranes and Tamu Smith are popular multimedia personalities and the authors of the online blog Zandra (Sista Laurel) and Tamu (Sista Beehive) also host a weekly online radio program, Sistas in Zion Radio. Their media identities, which focus on humorous aspects of faith and Mormon culture, seek to uplift, inspire, bridge religious divides, and create healthy dialogue.

Zandra and Tamu are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter—day Saints. They enjoy the fact that their Christian values and their work coincide.

Their lives are blessed by amazing family and friends. Zandra is thankful for her boo, the love of her life. Tamu enjoys spending time with her husband of twenty years and their six wonderful kids.

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second chances tour

The second book I want to tell you about today is Second Chances 101 by Donna K. Weaver.  This book was about Francie Davis, (who we met in the last book) and she's going back to college.  She has to work her way through and landed a job as an administrative assistant shared between two professors. One professor is cranky and yells at her on her first day, and the other one is a lecher.  Yikes.  Poor Francie.  To top it all off, she lives in the rundown old house and is so poor she has to grow her own food and seems worried about being hungry in the winter.  Yeah, her life sucks.  Oh, and her abusive husband just died, so there's the silver lining, I guess.

It's kind of depressing in the beginning for the heroine, but she has a good attitude.  The hero, Professor Diederik, has an equally crappy life, but his attitude isn't quite as good. His ex-wife is a nightmare and bent on turning his daughter against him and threatening to tell her horrible lies about him.  He's trying to deal with his daughter's emotional trauma of seeing her mother with another man, turning into a Goth, and regressing. So he has a few anger issues to work through. (Not bad ones. You just feel sorry for the guy, you know?)

So, these two scarred and hurting people start to see each other in a new light and their hearts are starting to heal a little bit.  I liked their courtship and how they connected on several levels.  I loved how our heroine overcomes her challenges, she was so realistic and relatable. There were a few areas that felt rushed near the end and the ending itself made some giant leaps that didn't seem to fit with the rest of the story, which was a bit confusing.  Regardless, it was a happy ending, which I liked.  Excited for the last book in the series!

Scroll down for the back copy and the giveaway!


Second Chances 101 by Donna K. Weaver

 Thirty seven year old Francie Davis, a recent widow and empty nester, gets to attend college at last. She’s sure her luck has changed when she also lands a job on campus that will pay her tuition, as administrative assistant to a history professor. When her handsome new boss yells at her on the first day of work, Francie worries she will never be good enough. For Professor Alex Diederik, life is going downhill fast. Not only is his bitter ex-wife trying to poison their only daughter against him, but now his one place of solace—his work environment—is being complicated by his attractive new administrative assistant. She drives home his feelings of failure as a husband and father, and Alex wonders if hiring her was the right thing to do. Francie will have to put aside her hurt and insecurities or risk her dreams, while Alex must look outside himself if he’s to mend the breach with his daughter. And, perhaps, find someone who can help heal his pain.



Author Donna K. Weaver Donna K. Weaver has always loved reading and creating stories, thus she’s been ever entertained. An avid cruiser, she’s sailed the Pacific five times. Wife-mother-grandmother-Army veteran-karate black belt-Harry Potter nerd.

  Blog Tour Giveaway $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 5/26/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday Freebie--Come To Me

Today's Friday Freebie is Come To Me: Book 1 in the Love and Trust Trilogy by Shannon Guymon.  I haven't read it myself, but it's in my TBR pile and it looks good!

Here's the back copy:

Will the past repeat itself? Rob hasn't had the best of luck when it comes to women and his epic failure with Kit Kendall is still very fresh. Rob might be successful in sports and in business but does he have what it takes to be successful in love? When Rob gets to know Wren Tyler, his sous chef, he's willing to try again even knowing he could get hurt. 

Wren on the other hand, is very attracted to Rob, but she knows she's not in his league. So when he starts to pay her attention, who could blame her for being a little suspicious? But have Wren's past heartbreaks destroyed her ability to trust? And will Rob be able to overcome his past failures and become the man Wren needs him to be? Only true love will be able to heal Wren's heart and help her trust again.

If this looks like a book you'd like to read, click here to download your free Kindle copy!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Book Review: Old West Romance Anthology

Today I want to tell you about the next installment of the Timeless Romance Anthologies with the Old West Collection.  This is a charming collection of romantic stories set in the Old West.  I am a big fan of several of these authors' other works and they did not disappoint.  I think the thing I liked the most was how different each story was---the style of each author came through, and even with the similar themes, they were all very individual.

I loved the romance and how each hero had issues to work out.  For example, in Carla Kelly's story, the hospital steward, Colm Callahan, can't seem to admit he's in love with Ozzie Washington, the lieutenant colonel's maid.  The inner dialogue for these two, as well as the colorful character of Lysander Locke made me laugh.  Really well done.  And then there are the romantic heroes like Douglas Cooper.  So swoon-worthy.  I could go on and on.  Sarah Eden's hero, Gregory Reeves, has come to help the sister of his best friend killed in action, but finds himself caught in a lie that he can't seem to fix and you can't help but feel for the guy! Heather Moore's story and Annette Lyon's story were life lesson stories that really struck a chord with how well they were told and how realistic the characters seemed.  Marsha Ward's story was particularly well done and made me want to go out and make sure I own and have read all the books she's written.

Each story had great heroes and extraordinary heroines.  I love that time period and read a lot of historical fiction, so this was a sweet treat for me.  Of course, I always wish they were longer, especially with my favorites, but I really enjoyed the stories in this collection.

Here's the back copy:

About the Anthology
A Timeless Romance Anthology: Old West Collection

Six Award-Winning Authors have contributed new stories to A Timeless Romance Anthology: Old West Collection. Readers will love this collection of six historical western novellas, all with one thing in common: Romance.

In Break a Leg, a charming story by two-time Rita Award winner Carla Kelly, hospital steward Colm Callahan is ready to move away from army life at Fort Laramie. His only regret is leaving behind exotic Ozzie Washington, easily the prettiest woman on the post. As a maid to the lieutenant colonel's wife, Ozzie is no wilting flower when it comes to hard work. When the post surgeon leaves for an extended week, Colm must handle several medical emergencies on his own. He pleads for Ozzie's help at the hospital. While they spend long days and nights working together, Colm, a shy man, realizes he can't hide the truth of his feelings for Ozzie. He needs a little help, though. Enter from stage left, Lysander Locke, Shakespeare tragedian on his way to Deadwood.

The Soldier’s Heart, an enchanting novella by Sarah M. Eden, follows Gregory Reeves has fallen in love with a woman he’s never met. Her brother’s dying wish is that Gregory checks on his family, and after the war, Gregory is only too happy to meet the woman he’s been dreaming about. Helene mistakes him for a hired hand and sets him to work immediately. As time passes, Gregory finds it more and more difficult to reveal his true connection to her family, fearing that a woman who loathes liars will turn her disapproval on him.

Hidden Spring is an enthralling novella by Liz Adair, in which Susannah Brown is just getting her life back together after becoming a widow. She still misses Wesley with a fierce longing, but when she meets his half-brother, Douglas, she learns her heart is not completely dormant. Over the next several weeks, Douglas helps Susannah with repairs on her small ranch in exchange for supper. The exchange becomes more and more meaningful as Susannah realizes that Douglas might be the one to finally heal her heart.

The Silver Mine Bachelor, by Heather B. Moore, is a sweet romance between an unlikely pair. Lydia Stone has a checklist for men who qualify as the eligible bachelors in the mining town of Leadville, Colorado. Her new boss, Mr. Erik Dawson, is about to be struck off the list when she sees him coming out of the town brothel. Lydia doesn’t know that Erik Dawson’s sister has been living the brothel lifestyle for years, and he’s set on redeeming her soul. When Lydia discovers Erik’s secrets, she learns that life is not as black and white as she thinks.

In Annette Lyon’s delightful story, The Sweetest Taste, Della Stafford hates being a farm girl in the tiny town of Shelley, Idaho. She’ll do anything to live in a big city and experience real city life. Her only regret is that she’d have to leave Joseph behind, the young man who makes her heart flutter. But she's convinced that moving away is for the best; her dreams and Joseph's dreams are too dissimilar. Then Della takes a job as a maid in Los Angeles and must face the truth that what she thought would make her happy and what really will are totally different things.

In the captivating novella, Faith and the Foreman by Marsha Ward, Faith Bannister is forced to travel west to earn a living as a school mistress in Arizona Territory. Faith soon learns that living the frontier lifestyle of a single woman has many harsh challenges. But when she meets Slim McHenry, she discovers that life doesn’t have to be so lonely. Unfortunately the dangerous Rance Hunter stands between her and Slim, and she must act with courage before everything is lost.