One of the big things I struggle with when starting a story is likeability. The general premise is that a reader needs to be able to connect with a character, that the character should have redeemable qualities so that the reader can like him or her.

I have two issues with this. First of all, I’ve written nice alphas and I’ve written jerky alphas–no one cares. These guys don’t have to be likable. They need to be heroic. They can be jerks and still live by their own code of ethics. I have zero problems pulling this off, but it bugs that heroes are given so much more latitude than heroines.

Second, I have a hard time making likable heroines. I’ve written everything from the wilting flower (who everyone loved, right off the bat–not my typical heroine) to, shall we say, more abrasive heroines (these are the ones I usually start out with). I prefer to think of them as complex.

Because, here’s the thing. My characters are not happy when the story starts. Their lives are usually in shambles or, they think they have everything under control, but it’s all just a house of cards waiting to fall. And people with difficult lives are not happy, likable people.

It really annoys me that I have to try to make my heroine conform to being “likable” in order for her to be identifiable. Um, look… I’m a likable person. But sometimes, I’m a wreck. Sometimes, I’m a handful. And, you know what? I think more people can identify with me than can not.

Starting right now, I’m going to fight this stereotype–that women only like to read about sweet, light, giving creatures. The Snow White, whistling while she works as birds light upon her finger. I never even liked Snow White. Or Cinderella. They were both basically doormats for their antagonists. Why would I want to write that?

Please, give me your opinion on heroines at the beginning of a story. What do you love and hate to see? Call it research, because I really need to know.

Today, I’m interviewing one of my favorite authors, my critique partner (which means I get first reads on all her stories), and one of my best friends. Her new book, The Raven Who Caught the Canary, was released last month. It’s a sequel to Raven, Pirate, Assassin, Spy. These are some hella awesome books.

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

My most recent book is, The Raven Who Caught The Canary. It’s an interracial romance with a hint of intrigue, spies, and reunited lovers. I don’t know about anyone else, but reunited lovers is one of my favorite tropes and my H/h have a lot of past issues to overcome. Not to mention there are gunfights, fist fights, secret assignations, and a really awful General who I’m happy to pit my couple against.

What inspired you to write this book?

My inspiration was the first book in the series, Raven Pirate Assassin Spy. Upon completion, I realized that there were characters I loved in that book and that they needed their own happily ever after. Can’t give them that without a book. I also realized that the big villain, rising Nazi Germany, hasn’t been defeated so more stories are needed.

What advice would you give a writer just starting out? Share three pearls of wisdom.

Announcing to the world that you want to write a book is half the battle. Three pearls you can bet on:

  • Write a lot – you have to write a lot of words before a book is complete. To be honest, more than half of those words will suck. It’s okay, sucking is part of the process. Just know that anything that sucks can be fixed, but you can’t fix what doesn’t exist.
  • Read a lot – read widely, too. Read everything, books in the genre you want to write, books in your favorite genre, non-fiction, memoirs, blogs, craft books on writing (I know Lori can recommend several here on her website). Don’t stop reading. The day you think you’ve read everything is the day you can stop being a writer.
  • Finish what you start – It’s hard to get to the next parts of this business unless you finish what you start. Finishing a book is more important than publishing it. Truth.

Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

I once stood less than 15 feet from Bruce Willis. Yep, I saw him and I totally planned on being cool and then I froze. Frozen solid in place, and a total idiot. Needless to say, I’m better staying away from celebrities, EXCEPT my favorite authors. I can easily fan girl over them every day.

Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?

As the saying goes, “Don’t quit your day job”, and I haven’t. I could argue that I have multiple day jobs that include mom, chauffeur, chef, secretary, and accountant. In truth, I work for a company as a compliance project manager. My world is all food safety and safety based, assessing and identifying risks, developing appropriate measures to reduce risk, and monitoring to ensure those measures work. Sounds like a mouthful, huh? It is.

Blurb:

Revolutionary and pirate, Luther Corvino, seeks revenge for a lifetime of hell. The German general responsible is the same one building a tunnel to Britain. Kill the man; blow up the tunnel. These tasks should be easy compared to the fights Luther has faced —until he runs into the one woman he’s never forgotten. Too bad she’d rather turn him in than play kiss and make up.

Eva Canari has never forgiven Luther for abandoning her in France. Caught for spying, she’s been recruited by the Germans as a consort and agent. She’ll do anything to get her nightclub, La Roux, back in her possession, even selling out her ex. Trouble is, she’s having a hard time betraying him when his touches are sweet heaven, and his charm the devil’s own.

Can Luther and Eva rekindle their love, or are they ensnared by a game they may never win?

Excerpt:

“Wanted to make sure everything was safe here,” he whispered, taking in the cream-colored silk robe—the one she’d worn the other day when he’d kissed her.

She moved outside, shut the door quietly, and stood on the top step, which brought her right in line with his face. “I’m surprised at why you had to do such a thing. It wouldn’t have something to do with accusing George of not protecting me.”

Her aggravated tone irked him. The bastardo didn’t care about her, yet she offered her loyalty. “I heard he preferred to be called Herr Buckner. Formalities for the lowly people and such.”

“I’m not lowly. I’m his consort.”

Luther snorted. “He must be one hell of a lover to have earned your favor. Did you fuck him tonight?”

“We’re not going to discuss my bedroom activities. In fact, it stopped being your business when you abandoned me in France.”

Again, the past. She brought out the devil in him. “Too bad the magical spot between your legs couldn’t keep me where you wanted me.” He regretted the words as soon as they flew out of his mouth.

His cheek became the logical target for her slap, and he received it without complaint. Something becoming more common the more time he spent with her, why did her violence inflame him more? “Do you want to hit me again?”

“Not if you’re going to enjoy it. Now, tell me why the hell you came up here?”

“He doesn’t give a shit about you. The Brit. You’re just some mulatto whore, a plaything, and he’s having fun letting you prance around to do his bidding.”

Her face scrunched at the evil word he hated so much. Hated how it affected how she perceived herself when the only things he ever associated her with came from her strength, bravery, and beauty. The parts of her he never wanted to see destroyed.

“I think you’re jealous.” She tugged at the edges of her robe in a futile attempt to cover herself and her exposed neck.

“Are you cold?”

“Quit changing the subject. I’m fine. Anything else?” The distant, icy woman he’d met a couple of years ago, when she’d asked for his help, returned in full force.

“Nothing, except to make sure you have a report ready in the morning to go out, and make sure George looks incompetent.”

She chuckled, her voice low and smoky, like when she sang those Delta blues tunes. “If everything you say holds true, then he doesn’t need my help. He’s already an idiot.” Turning away from him, she grabbed the handle of the doorknob and turned gently. After the door had opened without a squeak, he moved. She let go of her hold on the knob as he pulled her against him. The door stayed open.

He ran his free hand down her cheek, caressing the soft skin he remembered so well. “You’re right. He is an idiot. You’re not a plaything. No, dea. Beauty and pleasure are gifts sent to you by heaven. Never believe anything less.”

The sigh she let loose before melting against him sent erotic images zipping around his brain like the electric currents streaking through a Tesla coil. He pushed her back to a standing position, turned on his heel, and got the hell out of there. He needed to keep his emotions squirreled away where she couldn’t find out about them. Opening up to Eva or attempting to comfort her wouldn’t get him anywhere but locked up.

Buy:

Amazon

Author Bio:

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day, and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

Author Links:

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Pinterest ~ Goodreads

REJOICE! The children are back in school.

For those who live to read…here are some awesome books provided by the incredible authors who wrote them. All in celebration of the new school year.

While a few of these books might be oldies, but goodies…others could be new and fresh off the presses.

Relax and find your new favorite author.

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ROMANCE

Romance in traditional literary terms is a narration of the extraordinary exploits of heroes, often in exotic or mysterious settings. The term romance has also been used for stories of mysterious adventures, not necessarily of heroes. These adventure romances usually are set in distant places.

Please enjoy these books that focus on romance and all their sub-genres. The list is available in alphabetically order by title.

Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win an Amazon Giftcard.

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A Journey Home by Angela Scavone

Contemporary Romance

Air Force Captain Stephanie Tyler’s sole duty is to fly overseas to war torn areas of the world to retrieve and escort the bodies of fallen soldiers back home to the United States. It is a tough and emotional job but she is honored for the privilege. Her duty also helps her to escape her past and her failed marriage. But those flights have become increasingly more dangerous and she is forced to have a partner accompany her. Much to Stephanie’s surprise and dismay, she is partnered up with her ex-husband, Captain Douglas ‘DA’ Aston. From the moment DA enters the scene, he irritates her. It could have something to do with the fact he slept with her best friend while she and DA were married. As they go on several missions together, Stephanie is forced to be courteous and professional with DA even though the very sight of him irritates her beyond comprehension. Then, Stephanie’s cheating, husband stealing, ex-best friend is killed in Afghanistan and Stephanie and DA must escort her body home. While executing this difficult duty, a myriad of conflicting emotions makes Stephanie ponder how short life really is . . . and to question her own ability to forgive.

Beside Still Waters by Ryan Jo Summers

Contemporary Christian Romance

Top Journalist and corporate climber McKayla Buchanan is sent to a remote California mountain camp for inner-city, at-risk teens. Accustomed to political and high-society assignments, she is suddenly a fish out of water. At Camp In As Much, she meets eight hostile and distrustful teens, assorted volunteers, rescued horses—and Clay.

Clay Michaels is the man who founded Camp In As Much and made it the success it is now. His hope for the highly recommended journalist is to come and write a feature to send seeds out to form other camps like his nationwide one. He never considered the reporter would turn out to be a lovely woman, or for him to have such an attraction to her.

Between McKayla’s worldly experience and Clay’s strong faith, they form a partnership to help with the endless challenges of the kids.

While McKayla’s assignment is supposed to be temporary, it isn’t long before she and Clay are each wishing it could last longer. A serious situation will force McKayla to decide if she can give up her worldly ways and place her faith in the same higher source that Clay does.

Betting on Love in Vegas by Stacy Hoff

Romance

Catherine “Cat” Warner has problems. The profits from her inns are down. The pressure from her parents is up. Her love life is non-existent. But Cat did manage to get the attention of tough, powerful, gorgeous hotel magnate Ty Orland. Unfortunately, his interest in her is for all the wrong reasons. Instead of wanting Cat, this debonair CEO only wants her land—a parcel he desperately needs for his next big development deal. Too bad, it’s not for sale. A people pleaser by nature, Cat knows to stand strong. If she caves in to the demands of this sexy, alluring man, it will be her own neck on the line.

Ty Orland has a lot of things going for him. Success. Power. Respect. Unfortunately, he’s also got an old chip on his shoulder and a new financial nightmare. His development deal is going down in flames—and fast. His only way out is if Cat sells him her strategically located parcel. But romancing the land from her is not easy when love gets in the way. The woman is as beautiful as she is beguiling. And Ty no longer knows which prize is more valuable.

Desperately Seeking Sixty-Nine by J.D. Frettier

Romantic Comedy

The year is 1969. Though there is war and unrest in the world, on August 15th, on a farm in upstate New York, a little concert will go down in history as the most famous music festival of our time: Woodstock.

It also happens to be the day Bonnie McMillan and Peter Hampton meet and begin their free-spirited love-filled journey with each other. What happens at Woodstock stays at Woodstock, right? Nope!

Fast forward forty-seven years. Bonnie unexpectedly passes after a night of hot sex and is whisked up to Purgatory, ‘The Green Room’ as they call it. Bonnie’s best friend meets her at the pearly green gates and the fun begins, from body sculpting to channeling.

Follow Bonnie on her erotically incorrect quest to re-connect with the love of her life. Or at the very least, make sure the sex toys are hidden before the kids start sorting through her things!

Everything I’ve Dreamed Of by Norah Bennett

Contemporary Romance

Kate Willowbrook dreamed of a life filled with beauty –– a man who loves her, friends, and a home. At eighteen, Kate’s dreams were replaced by nightmares when she witnessed a crime. Kate fled, never settling down and never trusting anyone until at the age of the thirty, she discovers the small town of Lakes Crossing and CEO, Noah Reed. When Noah’s wife was killed in an accident, his world exploded. Noah settled for an empty, loveless life until the day he met Kate. When he learns about Kate’s past and finds she is still in danger, Noah takes over, becoming over-protective—to the point Kate feels stifled and controlled. As Noah and Kate struggle to put the past behind them and find a balance that fulfills both their needs, they learn that there are no guarantees in life, but in Lakes Crossing they have been given a second chance at love.

Fall With Me by Jayne Frost

New Adult Romance

As the bassist for the band Caged, the last three years have been one, long non-stop party. Sure, I’ve had some regrets. Everyone does. But getting trapped in a relationship isn’t one of them. I know good and well what happens when the attraction fades. I’ve seen it first hand. Love is a zero sum game, so why play? As long as I’m upfront about my feelings, no one gets hurt. Besides, I’m never in one place long enough to worry about tomorrow.

That is, until the band decided to take an extended hiatus in our hometown. That’s when I met Melody Sullivan. She’s the full-package. Whip smart and beautiful, with enough determination to take on anything life has in store. And the best part? Melody shares my philosophy on the fleeting nature of attraction. She doesn’t buy into the whole “happily ever after” crap anymore than I do. We’re perfect for each other. For now. And now is all I want.

With the expectations off the table, I can let my guard down and enjoy her company until the spark dies. And we both know it will. In a week, or a month. But until then, we’ll just keep having fun. The good kind, with lots of sex and no strings attached. And when it’s time to move on, we will. No drawn out goodbyes and no remorse.

That’s the plan, at least.

Find My Way Home by Michele Summers

Contemporary Romance

She’s just the kind of drama…

Interior designer Bertie Anderson has big dreams for her career, and they don’t include being stuck in her hometown of Harmony, North Carolina. One last client, and Bertie is packing up her high heels and heading for her dream job in Atlanta. But her plans are derailed by the gorgeous new owner of that big old Victorian she’s always wanted to renovate…

He’s vowed to avoid…

For retired tennis pro Keith Morgan, Harmony is a far cry from fast-paced Miami-which is exactly the point. Keith is starting a new life for himself and his daughter Maddie, and he’s left the bright lights and hot women far behind. Bertie’s exactly the kind of curvaceous temptation he doesn’t need, and Keith refuses to let their sizzling attraction distract him from his goals. Keith and Bertie both have to learn that there’s more than one kind of escape, and it takes more than wallpaper to turn a house into a home.

Infamous by Lori Sizemore

Romance

Justine Montgomery, daughter of a divorced beauty queen and TV magnate, is a tabloid disaster after her infamous sex tape. She’s so desperate to help save her family’s home she turns to her deal-making dad. Can she prove to him she’s cut out for a career in television or will she lose it all?

Sawyer has his own past and a successful career is his only goal. Seeing Justine fail would mean the promotion of a lifetime, but things get complicated when he develops feelings for her. Suddenly, the lines between work, life, sex, and love are blurry.

They will have to overcome the bitterness of a rejected ex, the controlling actions of her father, and the half-truths they’re telling one another to forge a lasting partnership both on the job and off the clock.

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Today, I’m giving you a little peek into K.K. Weil’s story, Some Whisper, Some Shout.

Blurb

Devices. Jolie’s got tons of them. Coping mechanisms that ensure she’s not falling victim to the mental illness that’s taken hold of both her brother and father. Helping the homeless gives Jolie much needed consistency. But when a stranger struts into her Jersey Shore creperie, writing cryptic songs on napkins and then disappearing, her world becomes anything but routine.

Reed can play the soul out of his saxophone, but he’s hiding something. Why else would he reveal so little about himself, or plan one secluded, albeit eccentric, date after another? And what’s in that backpack he carries everywhere? Then again, with her distressed brother missing, an estranged mother returning home, and a feisty grandmother acting weirder than usual, Jolie can’t decipher whether her suspicions are valid or dangerous delusions.

When inexplicable slashings of the homeless occur in her otherwise safe town, Jolie’s devices begin to fail.

Excerpt:

“Come here.” Reed took my arm and pulled me toward him. Then he eased my shoulders down so I was sitting in his lap, straddling him. “Tell me.”

“Tell you what?” It was such an obvious stall tactic I would have laughed if I weren’t so sad and embarrassed.

“Jolie.” He watched me and waited for me to speak with that same expression he wore the first time he spoke—as if he already understood me. It made no sense. It was impossible, but it made me want to open up to him in ways I never did with anyone else.

“You must think I’m…”

“Crazy?” He chuckled.

That word. That word that I despised, that struck my last nerve. “No, not crazy.” I stood from his lap, but he was too fast. He held my hips in place until I sat back down on him of my own accord.

“Okay, not crazy,” he said once I was back where he wanted me. “How about stunningly beautiful?” He kissed my lips tenderly.

“I’ll take that one.”

“So do you want to tell me now?”

“I thought you said I didn’t have to,” I said, but, oddly, part of me hoped he’d push.

“You don’t.” He brought his face away from mine and waited for me to lead the conversation. He wouldn’t shy away from the topic. If I didn’t want to talk about it, I’d have to change the subject. For the first time, I wanted to discuss Tristan with someone other than Mamie.

“My brother is sick.” I couldn’t look Reed in the face. Instead, I found a small chocolate stain on his shirt that he must have gotten from one of Mamie’s pastries, and traced over it with my pointer. “He’s got”—I hadn’t spoken the word in so long I didn’t know if it would still fall from my lips—“schizophrenia.”

Reed sighed against my finger. “I’m so sorry, Jolie.”

“He was diagnosed at nineteen as soon as he started exhibiting symptoms. We knew what to watch for because, well, because my father had it too.”

He took my hand and brought my fingers to his lips, holding them there. I fought to keep the tears from my eyes. I’d already broken down once tonight. I didn’t plan on doing it again

Buy:

Amazon | The Wild Rose Press

Social media links:

Kkweil.com

https://www.facebook.com/KKWeilAuthor

https://twitter.com/

kkweil.blogspot.com

novelconcepts1.blogspot.com

https://www.instagram.com/kkweil/

Author Bio:

K.K. Weil grew up in Queens, but eventually moved to New York City, the inspiration for many of her stories. Weil, who attended SUNY Albany as an undergrad and NYU as a graduate student, is also a teacher. She enjoys writing her own dramas and lives near the beach in New Jersey, where she is at work on her next novel.

Today, I’m interviewing another The Wild Rose Press author who has a book coming on September 1. That book is Consent of the Governed and I’m going to tell you more about it after we find out a little more about Bernard.

Are you working on another book?

Consent of the Governed is a stand alone, but I also have a mystery series that revolves around a young minister. Right now, I am nearly done with the second book in the series, No Such Thing as Enough. In it, I explore what happens to someone who achieves everything he wants and realizes he doesn’t want it.

Does your book have a lesson? Moral?

Theme is always my starting point. The main theme of Consent of the Governed is that we—Americans—have to decide what kind of nation we want to live in, what kind of world we want to create for ourselves and our children, and what kind of people we are. If we let fear push us into seeking security at the expense of our civil liberties, we become a nation that we don’t like. And we can’t blame the government because it only happens when we, the people, consent to it happening.

What advice would you give a writer just starting out? Share three pearls of wisdom.

These are the things I tell my students:

1. Your first job is to get something down on paper. Or on the screen. Don’t let the editor in your head stop you. Shut him up. If the muse doesn’t give you anything, grab her by the throat and squeeze it out of her. And if you can’t think of anything, write about not being able to think of anything. How’s that for a prompt?

2. You are allowed to write a really lousy first draft. You’ll fix it later.

3. Never pass up a chance to improve your craft. Even if you suck at writing, if your heart is there, you’ll get better if you keep learning.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

It’s not that the characters hijack the story; it’s more like I drop them in the ocean and watch how and where they swim. If I were better at planning, I’d be able to keep a tighter reign; but I only have so much patience, and outlining makes me antsy.

What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

When I was in college, I shared some of my writing with a teacher I respected. She read it and asked me, “Do you have anything to say?” That was the toughest thing because I couldn’t answer her. It was a long time before I figured out what I had to say.

In Consent of the Governed, Annie Winthrop, one of my main characters, was sexually abused by her parents. To work out her character, I wrote a six-thousand-word backstory for her, detailing what had happened. A member of my writing group told me that even weeks after reading it, she still found it disturbing. At the risk of sounding perverse, I felt good that I could write something that could have that kind of impact. If anyone feels put off about reading something so disturbing, I cut out the entire section, redistributed it, and softened it a bit.

Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer?

I’ve retired twice, but staying home doesn’t suit me. My day job is teaching writing and literature for Lackawanna College in Hawley, PA. I love it; I get to spend my days talking about reading and writing, my two great passions. I find that sharing my own writing experiences and struggles with the craft helps my students gain confidence that they can do it, too.

Bio

Bernard LoPinto draws inspiration for his stories from his years in ministry and prisons and creates a reality where the lines between good and bad, right and wrong, are easily blurred. He and his wife, Jeanne, live in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Blurb

It’s 2026 and the United States has fallen under the sway of an oppressive government where all citizens’ rights have been stripped, Red shirt platoons patrol the streets, and people die for voicing opinions. Into this chaos step Sid and Annie Winthrop. The elderly couple set out on a journey of revenge against the Red Shirts who murdered their son.

Red Shirt members Victor and Brooklyn have devoted their young lives to the cause of the president in protecting the nation.  When attacks on their home town leave dozens of Red Shirts dead, Victor must help his superiors find the vigilante.

At their darkest moment, each couple finds a common bond in their suffering and must decide where their loyalties lie.

Buy

The Wild Rose Press

I was recently asked what my dream reading area would be like. My imagination immediately started conjuring this room. Yes, room–not a nook or an area, but a whole room.

To enter my reading room, first off, you have to find the secret door. It’s hidden behind a bookshelf. Ironic, right? Or maybe not, but clever, at least. So, one opens the secret bookshelf door however one does and walks in. I don’t know, for sure, as I’ve never actually encountered one of these doors in real life.

The first thing that strikes you is the scent. There are a few scented candles placed strategically–all the same scent because I’m obsessive that way. Something fruityor foodie like pineapples or apple pie. Nothing too flowery or frou-frou. This is a serious room, for serious readers, and we don’t like pretention.

Look around at the bleached wood floors with colorful throw rugs. You just want to go stand on them, feel the softness under your toes. The room is a seating delight. There’s a chaise lounge int he corner, with a floor lamp behind it, and lots of plump pillows to settle into. There’s a window seat, of course, because that’s where one does the whimsical reading. You can curl up on the cushioned seat and watch rain bead on the windows or birds gather in the garden outside.

In the center of the room is a plush, enormous, couple-of-adults-sized poof. You can just sprawl out in the bean bag of your dreams, flopping onto your stomach, then shifting to your side, finding just the right position to get lost in a good book.

There are discreet pockets of light throughout the room. Enough brightness to read by, but low enough as to inspire a feeling of intimacy and immediacy. The reading is crucial, it’s right now, it’s all that happens in this space.

This room is a sanctuary–hence the hidden door–and only the truest book lovers can enter. One needs to know that smell an old book produces, a little bit vanilla, a little bit heaven, just to access it. Troubles are left at the door. There is comfort here, of the physical and emotional sort.

This isn’t just a physical place, it’s a mindset. A dedication to books and those who love them.

I’d love to know what your ideal reading space is like. It doesn’t need to be as detailed as mine (though that’s just as welcome!). Just leave me a comment with a bit of description or even just to say hello.

xx

Today, I’m interviewing Peggy Jaeger, a fellow author from The Wild Rose Press, and really sweet human being. She’s releasing a new title, Passion’s Palette, which sounds wonderful.

Tell us a little about yourself, perhaps something not many people know.

While I come across as assertive (some would say aggressive at times), I am in reality very introverted and shy. I’m always nervous I am going to the say the wrong thing to someone unintentionally, or hurt someone’s feelings unknowingly. Because of this I have a huge personal space bubble around me and I don’t let very many people passt it.

What is your book about?

Passion’s Palette is the 5th book in my MacQuire Women series and tells the love story of artist Serena MacQuire and veterinarian Seamus Cleary. This is actually the second prequel I’ve written in the series. The first book to be published was the story of Serena’s niece Tiffany (SKATER’S WALTZ) then the next two were about Serena’s twins Moira (THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME) and Padric ( FIRST IMPRESSIONS.) After those three were written, I really wanted to explore the two mothers of all these people. I wrote Carly, Serena’s older sisters’ story, first ( THE VOICES OF ANGELS) and then I knew Serena needed to share her own love story with the romance reading world.

What inspired you to write this book?

Part of that question I’ve just answered, but the rest of the reason is that I wanted to show how losing people you love – and not only people! – doesn’t have to close off your heart to ever finding love again. My grandmother was only 33 when she lost my grandfather. She had three little girls to raise and was left penniless. This was in the 1930’s before welfare and government assistance for children and mothers. My grandmother never married again, and never engaged in any kind of romantic relationship, even when her daughters where grown and out on their own. She simply closed her heart to ever finding love again, and that just made me so sad for her. So I wrote a tragic past for Serena along the same vein, and had her closing her heart to ever being able to love a man again without being fearful she’d lose him. Seamus Cleary is the man to break that wall down and claim her heart, thereby freeing her from a lifetime of loneliness.

What is your writing style?

Before I tell you I have to tell you that, as a nurse, I have a scientific background and I use that knowledge base to guide me through life, decisions and problems. What that means is that I look at a problem from every angle, figure out where I want to go in solving that problem, and then think of events that would deviate me from solving it. So, that’s a longwinded way of saying I am a plotter first, last, always. Before I ever type Chapter One on my laptop, I know every single facet of my H/H’s lives. I do a full story bible, write my GMC ( Goal, motivation, Conflict) out on a dry erase board for clarity, and then troll the internet and magazines for images of what I think my H/H look like. I make Pinterest boards for my books in progress, and I do vision boards for each story so I can visually refer to them during the day when I write. All this planning takes anywhere from 2-3 weeks, so when I actually start to write, I know where I am going, and when and how I am going to get to the end. I have a minimum daily ( 5 days a week) writing goal of 2500 words, but most days I exceed that, which is why I can churn out an 80,000 word first draft in about 6-8 weeks.

What advice would you give a writer just starting out? Share 3 pearls of wisdom.

A. First and foremost, write the story of your heart-do not write for what’s trending at the moment. Fads change. Today’s vampire love story will morph into something new in a heartbeat. If you’ve got a story about a newly divorced 45 year old with three kids and she needs to move to Antarctica to survive – then write that story and make it the best story you can. B. Try to write every day. I heard Nora Roberts once say writing is like exercising a muscle. If you don’t use the muscle, it weakens and atrophies. I think this is the same for writing. Even if you don’t work on your current story every day, post something you’ve written on your website, or a diary, or write a piece for another writers’ blog. Just utilize those writing muscles so they keep strong and toned. C. Go to a romance writing conference like RWA or RT, or any of the dozens of writing chapters around the country and soak up as much knowledge as you can. While there do not be afraid to ask questions of other writers – even the really famous ones! Believe me, they are willing to talk to you. They remember what it was like to be a fledgling, unpublished writer and I’m sure they wished they had asked questions of their idols that they didn’t take the opportunity to.

Blurb:

Talented and witty portrait artist Serena MacQuire is successful in everything but love. Her gift for capturing people on canvas is rivaled only by her fiery and legendary temper. A tragedy from the past keeps her heart securely locked away, preventing any man from getting close enough to claim it.

But Seamus Cleary isn’t just any man. After he left his professional football career to become a veterinarian, his bitter wife ended their marriage. Now, as he starts his life over in a new town, love is the last thing he’s looking for. The more he tends to Serena’s horses, though, the more he realizes her own heart needs tender care and healing as well.

Will he be the man who finally unlocks and claims her heart?

Excerpt:

With a hip resting against the tabletop, he browsed through her paints and brushes, lifting one color pot, then another. “So. You’re an artist.”

She nodded.

“What do you paint?”

As he opened and closed the pots, Serena observed his hands, silently assessing the length and width of his fingers. Her mind registered the dexterous movements of each action, the deliberate, studied way his hands performed each task.

“Portraits, mostly.”

His eyebrows rose. “This is pretty big equipment for a portrait. Where do your pictures hang? In castles?”

“Three do,” she told him, charmed when his neck reddened. “But this stuff will be for a mural I’ve been commissioned to do for a hospital.”

His eyebrows lifted. “Impressive. You must be good.”

Allowing a smidgeon of playfulness to creep into her voice, Serena gave him a shrug that rivaled his own. “Better than some. Not as good as others.”

He returned her smile with one of his own.

Serena’s heart giddyapped.

Buy Links:

Amazon | The Wild Rose Press

Author Bio:

Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.

Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, Peggy brings all topics of daily life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she has created the families she wanted as that lonely child.

Tying into her love of families, her children’s book, THE KINDNESS TALES, was illustrated by her artist mother-in-law.

Peggy holds a master’s degree in Nursing Administration and first found publication with several articles she authored on Alzheimer’s Disease during her time running an Alzheimer’s in-patient care unit during the 1990s.

In 2013, she placed first in two categories in the Dixie Kane Memorial Contest: Single Title Contemporary Romance and Short/Long Contemporary Romance.

In 2017 she came in 3rd in the New England Reader’s Choice contest for A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS and is a finalist in the 2017 STILETTO contest for the same title.

A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

Social Media:

Website | Twitter | Amazon | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | Instagram

Thanks so much to Peggy for sharing her new release and letting us get to know her better!

I want to preface this by saying that I was contacted by Aleksandra Lechwar, who runs a great Etsy shop called Just 1 More Chapter. Apparently, my Christmas post of great reader gifts was sending Aleksandra some traffic (yay, right?) and he wanted to thank me. He offered to let me pick out a couple of pieces for free, which I gladly did because they looked so cool.

I chose two pairs of earrings. One, Wicked, because I adore Elpheba and her story. It’s one of my favorite books. The second set, The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe, was because that was a book my English major grandmother gave me when I was a teenager. If you read my blog, you know she passed away in January after a long battle with Alzheimer’s, I miss her, but I’d missed her a long time–that will make sense to anyone who has had to live with a family member slowly descending into this horrible disease.

The earrings came quickly and they’re so cool. They not only have the book cover, they have the spine, back cover, and even little “pages” along the side. They’re very true to life.

Here are a couple of pictures of me wearing one pair and a detailed picture of the other. I also want to add that I’m allergic to nickel and most earrings make me itch, even some that claim to be nickel-free. I wore these earrings all day and didn’t feel even a twitch of itchiness in my ears.

All of this is to say that now that I’ve tried out the products, I can’t recommend Just 1 More Chapter’s products highly enough.

PS. I was in no way asked to leave a positive review of the product and have received nothing in compensation for doing so. I just really wanted to share these super-cute and well-made products.

Blurb:

Two years after her husband’s death, Kelly believes her romantic life is done. Until she reconnects with her girlhood crush on social media, and as fate would have it, he lives across the street.

James is over the whole true-love thing. His grasping ex-wife tore that belief out of him, when she left him for a rich, old man. Then he finds out his first love moved to San Diego too, and their attraction burns as hot as ever.

What they don’t know is that Fate didn’t bring them together – the Guardian Angel Corps did, led by two unlikely Cupids – Kelly’s late husband and Zane, a rough and tumble, 19th century cowboy. When a Fallen Angel decides to tear Kelly and James apart, cherubs and harps aren’t going to cut it, and Zane’s unique skills might be just what they need to get a second chance at their first love.

Excerpt:

She flashed a bright smile at her old friend,  “I sent a friend request to Susie Davidson, and I want to see if she’s responded.”

“Susie Davidson,” Grace’s voice dripped with disdain, “we didn’t badger you into doing this so you could reconnect with Susie Davidson.”

“Hey, what’ve you got against old Susie? She was an integral part of our nerd squad in high school,” David said. “Right, Kel?”

When she didn’t reply, he glanced over at his old friend to see her frozen at her computer, all the color drained from her face. “Kel, what’s wrong?”

“I didn’t hear from Susie, but I did get a message from James Flynn,” she whispered.

David jumped to his feet and peeked over her shoulder at the computer screen. “Yummy James Flynn from Rye?”

Grace snickered, “Sounds like a sandwich. I’ll have a Yummy James Flynn on rye. Hold the mayo.”

Kelly and David swung their heads in unison to stare at her.

“What? It’s not my fault you two come from a town named after a bread.”

David shook his head mournfully and intoned, “Californians.”

“Native, baby.”  The blonde woman grinned playfully, “And don’t you New England Yankees forget it.”

“What does he say, Kel?” David asked with interest.

Kelly gulped, “He wanted to get in touch and maybe meet for a drink.”  She twisted her head to look up at David, her eyes huge on her pale face, “He lives here, David. In San Diego.”

Buy Links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Amazon UK | The Wild Rose Press

Author Bio:

My career has been a winding road. I worked in the business world for years, got my MLS and worked in a school library, and am now living my dream as an author. I love to read and write contemporary and fantasy romance. I live in Maryland, with my husband, who is my real-life romance hero. We both enjoy traveling to visit our far-flung family and friends, and spending time on the beach with an umbrella drink and a good book.

Contact:

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

Today’s the day these two characters I’ve grown to love so much get set free into the wild (that’s your, the reader’s, hands). Hint: If you make it all the way to the end of this post, there’s a giveaway.

Read a little more about them…

Former social worker Roxie Fisher believes she’s cursed to never find happiness and an invitation to Cupid’s Café isn’t going to change her situation. All the same, against her better judgment, she gives it a try. What else does she have to lose?

After the death of his wife, accountant-turned-firefighter Aidan Craig, can’t stop taking ridiculous risks and never turns down a dare. So an invitation to Cupid’s Café is an offer he can’t refuse. What he doesn’t expect is to meet the social worker who helped him through the darkest days of his life. Now she’s the one struggling, and he’s compelled to help.

The two experience an immediate attraction, but Aidan swore to never become involved in another relationship, and Roxie can’t imagine daredevil Aidan being interested in a boring, cat-rescuer like her.

Can Roxie find the simple joy of taking a risk? Is Aidan willing to risk his heart? Or will they both lose out on a chance at true love?

Buy Links

I’ll update these as I can. For now:

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play | Scribd

A hot little excerpt when you click read more (and giveaway details)…

Read More →