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and Fearless Friday as told by my guests and me.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Good Things Come In Small Packages By Elizabeth Harmon


MUSE MONDAY
So happy to welcome Elizabeth Harmon to Muse Monday.
My latest release, Heating It Up: A Red Hot Russians Novella, actually began as a homework project.
After publishing three full-length novels in my Red Hot Russians contemporary romance series, I was eager to try writing something shorter. Last January, I took YA author Catherine Chant’s online workshop, Writing A Romantic Novella and decided to try a concept I’d had in mind for a while; a warm-hearted small town romance set in an unlikely place: Antarctica.
Since my full-length novels clock in at a hefty 95,000 words, writing a 30,000 word novella should have been a piece of cake…right?
Not quite.
While novellas have fully developed plots and characters, with goals, motivation and conflicts, they differ from novels in several important ways.  Time lines are compressed, casts are smaller and there’s not a lot of room for lavish description.
As a writer who loves slow-burn romance, I’m used to having my couples take months to fall in love. Heating It Up’s Nora and Alexei have less than a week. Realistically, Nora’s grief over her fiance’s death wouldn’t heal instantly. The solution was to put her loss two years in the past, rather than the recent event I’d originally imagined. While she hasn’t yet moved on, a part of her is ready to. Meeting Alexei gives her a reason to take the first step.
Resisting the urge to over-populate Amity Bay was a challenge too, since big casts of quirky townspeople are one of the things I love about small-town romance. But with so many characters running around, it’s hard to keep track of the players without a roster sheet, not to mention that Nora and Alexei risked getting lost in the crowd.
I solved this problem by having Alexei and Nora trapped by a snowstorm during the story’s opening chapters. It’s not until they return to town mid-book, that we’re introduced to some of the folks who call Amity Bay home. Setting the story at the start of an Antarctic winter, when stations typically operate with just a skeleton crew, also meant I could keep my cast smaller, and it allowed me to add a bit of the “ticking clock” plot device—which works well in novellas.
And since I loved my Antarctic setting, the final challenge was to resist cramming in every fascinating fact I learned about this vast and beautiful place. My awesome editor Lauren Plude was a great help in determining what to keep in, and when it was best to let readers fill in the details for themselves.
What I didn’t expect was that the mysterious, isolated setting would take on some fanciful elements, inspired in part by the magic realism used to portray Alaska in the 1990s TV series, Northern Exposure. Series creator Joshua Brand said the show was more about what Alaska represented, than what it actually was. I loved bringing a few touches of that same other-worldliness to Amity Bay.
Taming my sprawling approach to storytelling was one of the most challenging things I’ve done as a writer. I hope readers enjoy the result—and their trip to Amity Bay, Antarctica. 

Blurb:

In HEATING IT UP, a heart-warming novel of mistaken identity and forced proximity, widow Nora Bradford and Russian adventurer Alexei Zaikov must work together to save their small Antarctic town from being shut down—but will the truth about Nora’s role in Amity Bay’s demise, doom their romance?
Excerpt:
A woman?  Dread prickled inside Alexei’s clothes. "Hello?" His voice echoed in the emptiness.
He started up the stairs, every sense alert. Who was she? How did she get here? Most of all, why would a woman hide out alone in an empty building during an Antarctic winter?
The second-floor landing opened into a library.  In the middle of the room, was a worktable, covered with drawings. Stunned, he picked up a drawing of a luminous green iceberg that looked more like trapped emeralds, than ancient plankton and sea plants which were the real cause. Again, came a startling thought of Quinn’s secretary Nora, with the ethereal green eyes.
From behind, a floorboard creaked.
He spun around; coming face to face with someone he'd never expected to see again. Her once-ruby lips were pale and taut, but there was no mistaking those eyes.
"Put it down. Now."
Buy Links:
Amazon:
Barnes and Noble

Kobo
Apple ITunes Books
Smashwords

Bio:
Contemporary romance author Elizabeth Harmon loves to read and write romances with a dash of different. She is the author of the Red Hot Russians sports romance series. Her debut novel Pairing Off is a 2016 RITA® Award Finalist. www.romancewriter-girl.com

Friday, February 24, 2017

Embrace the Fear—Take the Risk By Author Stacy Gold

FEARLESS FRIDAY
Please welcome Stacy Gold as my guest today!

At the age of 19, I drove from Georgia to Colorado with my dog, $500 dollars in my pocket, and the promise of a job as a whitewater raft guide. That winter, I decide to ski-bum in Breckenridge—and I didn’t even know how to ski.
People often called me brave, but I never felt brave. They touted my fearlessness, but damn was I scared. Didn’t matter though.
I did what I believed I needed to do at the time, and the consequences of not taking the leap always seemed much worse than the alternative. Even when everything didn’t work out perfectly, in hindsight, I’ve always been glad I took the risk—fears be damned.
Since then I’ve made a habit of pushing my comfort zone. I’ve moved seventeen times and lived in nine states and two countries. Changed careers a few times. Traveled solo in Europe and Mexico. Kayaked class V rapids. Been helicopter dropped in to a hut in the middle-of-nowhere to backcountry ski for a week in total solitude with a handful of friends.
Probably the riskiest, scariest thing I’ve ever done—given my family history—was marrying the love of my life because it was important to him, even though I was against the institution of marriage. Almost seventeen years later, I don’t regret it one bit.
Every single time I’ve done something crazy or risky or out of my comfort zone, I’ve felt a mix of fear and excitement and joy and trepidation. The unknown is always scary, and there’s nothing more unknown than your own future.
The thing is, fear is healthy. Fear is human. Fear is, ideally, what keeps me from killing myself by doing something stupid. That doesn’t mean fear rules me.
Amazing things come to those who are willing to take calculated risks. Who push through the fear and move forward anyway.
Luckily, moving through fear gets easier with practice. I should know… I’m practically a pro nowadays.
I’ve learned to embrace the risks. I’ve come to relish doing the “crazy” thing (including becoming a romance author). Because life has proven to me time and again that it’s worth it.
Fear is not a giant stop sign in the road of my life. It’s a warning flag to carefully consider the risks and how I can mitigate them before proceeding. And the older I get, the more I delight in pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone.
Case in point—A year and a half ago, my hubby was offered a new job in Colorado. We sat in a restaurant in Boulder the weekend this company flew us out, discussing whether or not he should take the position. If he did, we’d be selling our house, leaving our friends, and uprooting our lives after fifteen wonderful years in Seattle for…The great unknown.
Hubby, with fear in his eyes: “Is this crazy?”
Me, with a lunatic grin: “Absolutely. But we should do it anyway.”
So, we did. It‘s been totally worth it, and we have zero regrets. Were we fearless? Hell, no. Did it matter? Not one bit.
I believe deeply in the words of the late, great, Hunter S Thompson:
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”
When fear threatens to paralyze me, I ask myself these simple questions…
1)      What is the best thing that can happen, and what are the chances?
2)      What is the worst thing that can happen, and what are the chances?
3)      Is the potential risk worth the potential reward?
4)      What happens if I do nothing?
5)      Am I okay with that?
That last question gets me moving pretty much every time.
Have you ever done something that made other people think you were fearless when you weren’t? What was it, and why did you do it despite the fear? How did it turn out? I’d love to read your stories in the comments below.
Enjoy this Excerpt from Just Friends
My eyes followed the curve of his lips. They weren’t thin, and they weren’t full either. But they had a kissable shape that begged me to trace their subtle contours with the tip of my tongue. To nip. To explore and taste.
Not that it would ever happen. Not again. I had proof of that.
We’d kissed once, on a drunken night years ago, right after he’d split with his long-term girlfriend. It started out toe-curling, but ended when he pulled away and made it clear he wasn’t attracted to me. At least, not in the way I was attracted to him. Mortified, I pretended it was the alcohol and vowed never to let him know how much I wanted him.
A good vow to remember. Especially now, when I needed a friend more than anything else. Definitely more than I needed a romantic distraction.
 “It’s great to see you.” His words, and his smile, flowed over me like liquid caramel.
“You too.” The connection between us buzzed in me like high-tension power lines. Same as always. So powerful I couldn’t understand how, or why, he didn’t feel it too.
Our noses were inches apart. I tasted his breath, minty and sweet, and licked my lips in anticipation of a kiss I knew would never come. Some habits die hard. I was determined to choke this one until it gave up the ghost.

About the Author
Stacy Gold is a compulsive tea drinker, outdoor sports junkie and lover of good (and bad) puns.
Two years ago she gave up her day job as Communications Director of a nonprofit mountain biking organization to write sassy, steamy, contemporary romance novels. Her stories are packed with strong, independent women, and the men who can’t resist them, finding love and adventure in the great outdoors. When Stacy’s not busy reading or writing, you can find her dancing, laughing or playing hard in the mountains with her wonderful hubby and happy dog.


Her short, steamy, contemporary ski romance “Just Friends” is available for pre-order now. Release date March 3rd, 2017. http://stacygold.com/books
Enter to Win a $25 REI Gift Card and be the First to Know About Stacy’s Contests, Freebies & New Releases by Joining the Gold Club!
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Romance and Indian Tacos! by Dena Garson


WICKED WEDNESDAY
My guest for Wicked Wednesday has a wicked recipe for you. Don't forget to read to the end and enter her Rafflecopter. Welcome Dena Garson to Discover Yourself.
My latest release, When Ash Remains, is a Native American (historical) paranormal romance. I researched a variety of topics as I wrote –clothing worn by various tribes, horse tackle used around the time period I had in mind, and even just every day family life. Living in the heart of the Cherokee nation makes some of that easier. I belong to the Choctaw Nation but I work for one of the Cherokee Nation companies, so I’m surrounded by Cherokee citizens in my daily life.

One of the things I’ve come to look forward to at company functions, and sometimes local festivals, are Indian tacos. If you’ve never had a handmade one, you are missing out. The basis for the taco is fry bread. The bread is topped with ground beef and/or beans, as well as the usual taco fixings – lettuce, tomato, cheese, and sometimes salsa. I’ve been told the process for making them is handed down through the family. Here’s one recipe for making the fry bread. 

Fry Bread ingredients:

·         2 cups flour
·         1/2 tsp. baking powder
·         1/2 tsp. salt
·         1/2 cups instant dry milk
·         1/2 cup water
·         2 cups shortening 

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, powdered milk, and water in a bowl. You only want to work the mixture long enough to form a doughball. (HINT: if you overwork the dough it will become tough) 

Heat/melt the shortening until flakes of flour bubbles when dropped into it. 

While you wait for the shortening to get hot you can roll out the pieces you want to fry. Take a palm-sized ball of dough, roll it into a smooth ball, then flatten it into a disk. It can be any size you prefer. 

Once the shortening is hot, add the dough disks one (or two, depending on size) at a time (just don't let them touch while cooking). Let each disk cook until brown. Turn the piece over with tongs and cook other side until it is brown also. HINT: Watch carefully as you cook as they will burn faster than you expect! 

Take the bread out of the shortening and allow them to cool and drain.

HINT:  Some people use a brown paper bag with sheets of paper towels in the bottom to help drain the grease. 

Recipe makes about 6 servings. 

I hope you will check out Kajika and Ayoka’s story. Here’s the blurb for When Ash Remains: 

A warrior with a mission

There isn’t a buffalo or deer that Kajika cannot take down. So when his cousin is slaughtered he relishes the chance to track down the killer. The trail leads him to a woman with gifts he has trouble believing in. Despite their differences he cannot fight his instinct to protect her from all threats – even those he cannot see. That drive even rivals his desire to explore every inch of her body.

A woman with a destiny

Knowing the spirits will protect her, Ahyoka allows the handsome warrior to take her to be questioned by his chief about the unexplained deaths in their village. He may not believe in her abilities but he is one of the few who doesn’t treat her like something to be feared or shunned. He awakens feelings that make her yearn for things she thought she’d never have. Her biggest fear is that once he learns the full extent of her gifts he will reject her like most of her tribe did.

A killer twisted by hurt and anger

Kajika and Ahyoka must work together to find the one responsible for the string of deaths in and around their villages. Faith, trust, and even a little bit of love will be needed to defeat the killer and right the wrongs committed in the pursuit of power and revenge.

Buy Links:





To celebrate my new release I’m doing a few giveaways. You can enter the drawings by hoping over to Rafflecopter at:  https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/cbc5e7ff7/








Wednesday, February 8, 2017

MIX WICKED POLITICIAN AND RUGGED ROCK STAR

WICKED WEDNESDAY
Wicked politician, crooked FBI agent, ruggedly handsome rock star, and a pixie of a woman juggling it all. You HAVE to love the premise!

No party named, honest. So dive in and get embroiled in Love and Murder.

THE POWER OF LOVE AND MURDER
For thirteen years, Penny Sparks has managed to hide from the political powers who murdered her family. When she unwittingly exposes her true identity, not only is she marked for death, but the people closest to her risk meeting the same fate. 

Jake Winters is out of rehab and coming to grips with his demons. When he meets his sister’s roommate, Jake believes Penny might be that someone who can help him find life after rock star status…until her secrets blow up his world. 

With a government agent turned hit man closing in on her, Penny and Jake race to expose the presidential contender behind the murders of her family. Even if they win the race with death, the murder that stands between them could end their hope for a new life.

You'll love this kind of wicked...two villains in one story: the kind you like to hate and the kind you hate to like.



“Jianna Ricci has surfaced.”
A smile flitted across the senator’s face. “Aren’t
we lucky the FBI never closes a case?”
“That depends on which side of the fence you
crouch.”
The politician threw a sneer into the air. “Where is
she?”
“Flagstaff.”
“Ha!” This time, the senator smiled broadly.
“Fate’s been working in my favor lately, Elams.
Thursday, I’m scheduled to appear at party
headquarters in lovely downtown Flagstaff. An organized
crime hit can happen anywhere, can’t it? An up close and
 personal reason why the Coconino county voters need
 me.”
            Vince closed his eyes to the sun and the joy on the
 politician’s face.
 “I’m wondering what’s the point of this meeting.”
 Westingly’s voice went from joyful to low and
 menacing. “If you were hoping for a different game
 plan, perhaps something more creative in dealing with
 this matter, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed. Your
 order stands.”
            Creative? Game?
“She hasn’t made a move in thirteen years. It’s
 highly unlikely—”
“Hardly your decision. I’m not asking for input.”
 He adjusted his glasses and clasped his hands behind
 his back. “It would seem the crime syndicate that wiped
 out her family has finally caught up with her. Let’s
 see…today is Saturday. I’d say the paper should have
 the story by midweek.”

I hope you'll click on one of the links to buy, and enjoy the read!!