Monday, November 21, 2022

Going Back by Anastasia Abboud

MUSE MONDAY

Time travel, PTSD, and love...interesting combination and sounds like a great read. Anastasia is here to tell us about it on this Muse Monday.

Is it true that we can never go back? Short of time travel, it’s probably true that we can’t physically go back. What if we suffer loss, hurt, guilt from events of the past? How do we deal with it, move past it in order to live happy, productive lives? 

Personally, I believe that love has great healing power that can lead to redemption, renewal, and hope. 

Falling from fourteenth century Scotland to modern times, Lachlann has lost everyone and everything he loved. The hardest part for him is that he lost them before he even fell. Survivor guilt eats at him constantly. Unspoken grief and trauma – PTSD – allow little room for relief. For him, life – living – has become a burden, something he simply can’t escape. He holds onto one vague hope, that he might be able to travel back in time, just as he traveled forward, to change even one thing. If only he could figure out how… 

Deidre has also suffered hurt, disillusionment, and loss. She risked all for a man who turned out to be a malicious liar. Through her own childish mistakes, she destroyed her relationship with her parents and lost both her job and her self-respect. For all the world, she wishes that none of it had ever happened. She’s moved on, but she lives with regret. 

Can Lachlann and Deidre help each other? Can they find peace? Would they have to go backwards to heal? Or can they move forward together? 

Excerpt from Tremors Through Time 

Lachlann sauntered across Deidre’s driveway just as she was locking her front door. She turned toward him, smiling. He froze. She was wearing a saffron-colored leine, or tunic, underneath a blue, fitted surcoat. He should have known! She was a woman from his own time. His heart and head began to pound as he stared at her.

“Lachlann?” Deidre’s voice reached him, soft and hesitant. “Don’t you like my costume?”

Costume. Of course, it was a costume. He struggled to regain his voice as his heart rate calmed. “It’s great,” he managed, giving himself a mental shake. Fool!

“Thank you,” she replied, her voice still uncertain. She looked at him inquiringly. “I surprised you, didn’t I? I’m sorry. I should’ve warned you. I like to wear something fairly authentic in case I run into
some of my students.”

“You do look authentic.” He managed a wink. “Bonnie as well.”

She blushed. “You’ve probably seen lots of costumes like this in Scotland.”

“Not so many, and none in Texas.”

It was a wonder to him that he was still standing. Her costume, as she called it, was perfect. She might have fallen through time like himself. It was an even greater wonder that he had not yet carried her off to bed. He’d never wanted anyone as he wanted her.

Now, dressed in such a familiar manner, she suddenly seemed more tangible than ever. She looked magnificent, the clothing emphasizing her generous breasts and hips, her deep red tresses flowing freely down her back.

His mouth went dry as he wondered how he might persuade her to dress like this more often.

Their eyes met. To hell with time.

He stepped toward her.

She's made mistakes and paid the price, but Deidre Chisolm is no quitter. She'll never again be a fool for a man, not even her gorgeous new neighbor with his haunted eyes and strange accent. She'll be friendly, but nothing more. 

Lachlann has to go back to fourteenth-century Scotland. He can't forsake his family, his son. But when a beautiful, kind, funny lady buys the house next door, he's never been so drawn to anyone in his life. Would she believe his story? After years of struggling through nightmares and flashbacks, headaches and illiteracy, dare he ask her to help him return? 

Book Links: 

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Author Bio: 

For me, playing is the best -- playing outdoors in nature or in my garden, experimenting in the kitchen, spending time with those I love. I also enjoy disappearing into a good book, attempting crafts, learning, writing, exploring, discovering. I especially like to mix it up and have yet to perfect any of it; and I've come to realize that perfection's not the point. It's all wonderfully fun. That's the point!

​I prefer authentic and natural, be it food, lifestyle, people. I passionately enjoy both history and science, and certainly sociology to a degree, and I am most truly a romantic.

​​My husband and I have been married for over forty years. We reside near Houston, Texas, surrounded by loved ones. We have a blast with our little grandchildren.

​I thank God for this wonderful life.
 

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Wednesday, November 16, 2022

A Taste of Christmas by Kris Bock #WickedWednesday #recipe #romance

WICKED WEDNESDAY

My favorite season is in full swing, as far as I'm concerned. November and December are wonderful months. And good food is everywhere! How great to get a recipe, a wickedly good, recipe from Kris Bock (I adore ginger) along with a taste of her latest release. Enjoy!

As we head into cooler weather in the northern hemisphere, not to mention the holiday season, how about a wickedly good molasses cookie recipe? This has the normal warming spices, along crystallized ginger for an extra kick. The characters make these cookies in my latest release, The Billionaire Cowboy’s Christmas.

Gingery Molasses Cookies

These molasses cookies get an extra kick with two kinds of ginger! Note that this recipe needs to be chilled before baking. Liquid molasses makes the cookie batter very soft. Chilling creates a firm dough. 

¾ cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar    

¼ cup molasses

1 egg

2 cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon cloves

½ cup chopped crystallized ginger 

Tip: Dark molasses gives the cookies a stronger molasses flavor. Light or mild molasses provides less flavor. 

1.     In a large bowl, mix the butter, sugar, molasses, and egg.

2.     Stir together the flour, salt, baking soda, and all spices. Pour this into the butter mixture and blend well. Stir in the crystallized ginger.

3.     Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

4.     Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the cups of a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Scoop spoonfuls of dough and roll them into 2-inch balls in your hands. Place each ball in the cup of a muffin tin.

5.     For soft, gooey cookies, bake about 10 minutes, until the edges look firm but the middle is still very soft. For crisper cookies, bake 12-14 minutes, until they look firm in the middle.

6.     Rest the cookies in the muffin tin for five minutes. Then remove the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container. 

Tip: You can also make these cookies on a regular baking sheet. They spread a lot though, so using the muffin pan results in thicker cookies. 

The Billionaire Cowboy’s Christmas 

He has everything this Christmas, but all he wants is the quiet ranch life he’s losing… 

When Josh Tomlinson’s Texas ranching family wins a fortune in the lottery, the formerly tight-knit family is suddenly on edge. Seeking advice, Josh reluctantly contacts family friend and now attorney, Carly Garza. His business is serious, yet he can’t believe Carly’s morphed from a long-legged colt of a girl to a sophisticated woman. Besides, he knows the intelligent Carly has no interest in a quiet, rugged cowboy like him.

 

Carly’s crushed on Josh for years, and she plans to ask him out now that she’s back in Last Stand. She’s hoping he’ll finally see her as someone other than his younger brother’s middle school girlfriend. But when Josh needs advice on how to handle his family’s lottery win, his client and billionaire statuses put him firmly out of reach. If only her heart could ignore the sparks that flare between them.

 

They’re already keeping the family’s lottery win a secret from the town. Can they also hide their budding romance during the most magical time of year? 

Excerpt [Josh’s family has won the lottery, and Carly is helping them navigate their sudden fame. In this scene, Josh stops by Carly’s apartment.] 

Josh lifted the dish he held. “I brought dinner. People keep bringing casseroles and pies. I don't quite understand the logic, but I guess they want to do something to help us celebrate. Only a few of them brought investment ideas or requests for loans at the same time, and we referred them to you. I hope that’s okay. We’re not going to get through all this food, and the deep-freeze is packed.”

   “And you suspected I was here moping because my fridge was empty.” Carly couldn’t stop smiling. “Thanks. Are you staying for dinner?”

   “I’d love to. I’ll pop this in the oven.” He did so and then studied the groceries on her counter. “Doing some baking?”

   “I just haven’t put things away yet.”

   “Well, this might change your mind.” He pulled an envelope out of his jacket pocket and handed it over.

   She opened it. “An invite to the cookie exchange!”

   He hung his jacket in her closet. “Mama is still hosting.” He turned back toward her, hooking his thumbs in his front jean’s pockets. “Ladies only, so you won’t get the pleasure of my brothers’ company. Mama says you’re all grown up and back in town, so you’re one of them now.” Josh shrugged. “I don’t know if you consider that a compliment or not.”

   She hugged the card to her. “It’s sweet. Sometimes I’m not sure whether people here see me as grown up or not.”

   “I guess it’s a good thing you bought baking ingredients. What are you going to make?”

   “Hm. Good question. Should I go classic or try to find something no one else is likely to bring?”

   “Always a challenge. If it helps, I have a pretty good idea of what the other women will make.”

   The room seemed too small with him there. That slow old oven took forever to get warm, and then the casserole had to heat, so they had at least an hour until they could eat. What was she going to do with Josh in the meantime?

   A few thoughts sprang to mind, but she shoved them down. It didn’t matter how sweet he was or how good he looked. She had to keep her hands to herself.

   “That oven takes a while to heat up,” she said. “Want to help me make cookies?”

   “As long as I get to taste test.”

   Maybe the oven was heating up quickly for once, because she was getting far too warm.

   They debated cookies and settled on molasses, because she had her grandmother’s recipe and it was one of Josh’s favorites. Baking distracted them for the next little while.  

Find the series at Tule Publishing       Amazon US     Amazon UK     B&N/Nook             Apple  Kobo   BookBub         Goodreads 

Kris Bock writes novels of romance, mystery, and suspense. Her Furrever Friends Sweet Romance series features the employees and customers at a cat café. In the Accidental Detective series, a witty journalist solves mysteries in Arizona. Get a free cat café novella, mystery stories, and more when you sign up for the Kris Bock newsletter. 

Kris also writes a series with her brother, scriptwriter Douglas J Eboch, who wrote the original screenplay for the movie Sweet Home Alabama. The Felony Melanie series follows the crazy antics of Melanie, Jake, and their friends a decade before the events of the movie. Sign up for our romantic comedy newsletter and get Felony Melanie Destroys the Moonshiner’s Cabin. Or find the books on Amazon US or All E-book retailers. 

Find Kris:

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Monday, November 14, 2022

#Romance, History, and #Mystery By Donna Schlachter #giveaway

MUSE MONDAY

The holidays are coming at us lightspeed. So, this Muse Monday is fun and will get us in the mood. And in the spirit of giving, Donna has a giveaway, so read on, have fun, and maybe win!

When I sat down to write A Mistletoe Mystery, I asked myself, as I often do: “What was I thinking?” I had the parameters of the story—contemporary or historical mystery for a Christmas anthology “Merry Little Mysteries”. Clean and sweet. Apart from that, authors could write what they liked.

I decided a historical would be good, because I had just finished a contemporary, and I like to keep things fresh. That said, what time period? Setting? Plot?

I love writing in the late 1800s, so I did some research on what was going on in Colorado, and found an article about apples in Boulder. Sounded good, but not Christmas-y. More research led me to Christmas Tree farms, and I had my setting and period—1883.

Since this was meant to be a fun mystery and not too serious, I named my heroine—actually, I have two—Holly and Ivy. Christmas. They own a tree farm. And when their trees are sabotaged, they blame the brothers who live next door and also have a tree farm.

Turns out they have history—from grade school—with these boys. Stolen kisses, it seems. Once I sat to write, their stories came alive for me. And wouldn’t you know it? Each character has hopes and dreams that collide with their sibling’s but matches with another character. The set-up for a Happily Ever After.

What follows is a typical mystery in that the four band together and follow the clues, ask questions, narrow down the list to a few suspects, and trigger a meeting of the bad guys by putting pressure on a weak link.

While they’re doing this, they’re also spending time with each other. Figuring out they like how the other person has turned out. Wonder why they ever stopped talking to each other. And—well—love blossoms, as it should, in any good romantic mystery.

You can purchase the ebook or print book at: https://mybook.to/MerryLittleMysteries 

Giveaway: Leave a comment and we will randomly choose one lucky winner to win an ebook copy of “Merry Little Mysteries” anthology. Cleverly disguise your email address so the bots don’t find you. For example: donna AT livebytheword DOT com 

A Sneak Peek:

Holly & Ivy Christmas Tree Farm, Boulder, Colorado 

Chapter 1

December 3rd, 1883 

Holly Christmas froze in her tracks. Not because the temperature hovered around ten degrees—although it did. Not because she’d tromped around her thousand-acre Norway Spruce tree farm for almost three hours—although she had. And not because the sun only now cast a blush on the Rocky Mountains as it peeked over the horizon—although it was.

No, Miss Holly emulated a statue because of what hung from the branches of the prime specimen before her. A tree destined to decorate the grand ballroom of the governor’s mansion in six days’ time. Already paid for. Already marked with a red flag for cutting and shipping tomorrow.

She tore her gaze from that monster of a spruce and scanned the next in line. This one, a foot shorter than its neighbor’s fourteen feet, for the mayor of Kansas City. Again, due for cutting next week.

Holly pushed her spectacles higher on her nose. Didn’t change what she saw.

Her heart pounded in her ears at the sight before her. And at its ramifications.

Mistletoe.

Dwarf, to be exact, if she knew her botany.

Native to Colorado. Usually found in stands of spruce and pine that suffered from disease, or overpopulation, or overgrowth.

Never in her tree farm.

Not before today, that is. 

About A Mistletoe Mystery in “Merry Little Mysteries”:

Boulder Colorado 1883: Two sisters living next door to two brothers. When bad stuff starts happening, who is behind it? If not a neighbor, then who? Can the two ranches, competing in the Christmas Tree Market, cooperate enough to save their land? Or are they doomed to lose all? 

About Donna:

A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 50 times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both, and is an avid oil painter. 

www.DonnaSchlachter.com Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!

www.DonnaSchlachter.com/blog

Check out previous blog posts at www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com and www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/DonnaschlachterAuthor

Twitter: www.Twitter.com/DonnaSchlachter

Books: Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ci5Xqq

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/donna-schlachter

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=donna+schlachter

Friday, November 11, 2022

Ready to Travel! by Vicki Batman #FearlessFriday #travel #HolidayFiction

FEARLESS FRIDAY

Traveling has been a fearless endeavor ever since COVID made the scene. Vicki's family finally took the plunge.

Munich
After three years of Covid fear, our three-time postponed trip was back on. First, we traveled to Munich, Germany. With family members, we visited Octoberfest. Expecting excessive partying, we were hesitant about going, but we’re glad we did. The grounds were so colorful! And the beer halls were decorated differently. Lots of fun food stands and thrilling rides were situated outside. The event reminded us of our State Fair with an exception—no fried food. LOL. 

Next, we were bused to Oberammergau for the Passion Play which was held every ten years, but rescheduled because of the virus. The actors spoke and sang in German which was a bit challenging; however, all was beautifully done. 

Vienna
In Vienna, we were able to see the Lippizaner stallions at the Spanish Riding School. This has been a dream for me ever since I read Airs Above the Ground by Mary Stewart. That night, we attended a Strauss concert.

In Krumlov, we explored a Medieval castle, ate lunch, and shopped. I found a handmade shop where I indulged in Christmas gifts for the family. Our trip ended in Budapest. We loved it there. Our hotel sat on the ruins of a former monastery and next door to a cathedral. We walked tons of miles to many great places and ate yummy food. 

The past three years put the world’s lives on hold. We’re glad we could make our trip finally happen. 

Are you traveling for the holidays? 

In between your holiday activities, curl up with these holiday stories:

Love blossoms in the small town of Sommerville in these heartwarming holiday tales, filled with fun and forever possibilities. 


The Great Fruitcake Bake-off: When a five-time baking champion teams up with her new neighbor for The Great Fruitcake Bake-off, they discover baking a prize-winning entry is complicated, bad guys are plotting to take the crown, and first prize isn't just about a ribbon. 

Christmas Romeo: When two feuding co-workers win Christmas river cruises at the company holiday party, they discover each other isn't so bad after all. 

Twinkle Lights: When the owner of a Christmas tree stand has a heart attack, a do-gooder and a reformed high school delinquent-turned-lawyer meet the challenges of running the establishment; yet, when revenue goes missing, fingers are pointed. 

Find the fun at:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08JQN19L6/

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1125179 

Funny, sweet, and quirky, Vicki Batman's stories are full of her hallmark humor and romance and will delight all readers. She has sold many romantic comedy works to magazines, several publishers, and most recently, three humorous romantic mysteries. Along the way, she has picked up awards and bestsellers. Avid Jazzerciser. Handbag lover. Mahjong player. Yoga practitioner. Movie fan. Book devourer. Chocaholic. Best Mom ever. And adores Handsome Hubby. 

Website & Newsletter: http://vickibatman.blogspot.com/p/more-about-me.html/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Vicki-Batman-sassy-writer-133506590074451/ 

Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/author/vickibatman/   

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/vicki-batman/ 

Krumlov Castle

Budapest


Monday, November 7, 2022

Musing on Muses by Carmen Webster Buxton #SciFi #romance

MUSE MONDAY 

What better way to do Muse Monday than to talk about Muses with Carmen?

“Where do you get your story ideas?” It’s a question writers are often asked. So, where does inspiration for a story come from? The ancient Greeks believed in the existence of muses, inspirational goddesses of literaturescience, and the arts who, presumably, could help those who needed inspiration. However, I’m pretty sure the Greeks didn’t have a muse for science fiction.

Some writers may use a specific process to inspire a story, but for me, most of my stories began their existence as a picture that popped into my head. The first novel I published The Sixth Discipline began with a man walking warily through a forest. The next thing I knew, he was being kidnapped by a bunch of strangers. I didn’t set out to write a far-future science fiction story about a man from a primitive culture being snatched by people with more advanced technology, but when that scene played out in my head, that was what was happening.

On the other hand, the story in my time travel/alternate history novel King of Trees started with a question generated by a real (but not in any way personal) event. I was reading about the abdication of Edward VIII of Great Britain (now the UK) and what a fuss it had caused in 1936. Edward wanted to marry a twice-divorced American woman and since the monarch was the head of the Church of England, that was (at the time) not considered acceptable. [Note: This is incredibly ironic when you realize that the Church of England split off from the Roman Catholic Church so that Henry VIII could divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, in order to marry Anne Boleyn.]

This made me think about what is, in effect, a contract between a monarch and those he rules— or, in more modern times, those from whom he accepts money and reverence, just for being their monarch. What does he owe them in return for what he gets from them? That led me to write a story in which a young man who is a king, but with no actual power, has to choose whether to marry the woman he loves or the woman who can help his country. He’s not named Henry or Edward but Bardolph, and while his country is called Albion, it’s an alternate version of the country we call England. Inspiration doesn’t mean you need to stick to realty.

But the most dramatic instance of story inspiration for me, was when a story came to me because of a major event that happened in my life. My parents had been married for 28 years and had four mostly grown children when my dad announced he was leaving my mom. What came out, eventually, was that he had had learned that a married woman he had admired decades before was now a widow, and so he left my mom and eventually married the other woman. My mom was, naturally, devastated. 

This made me contemplate the way marriage works in our society, both now and in the past. A few hundred years ago, divorce wasn’t acceptable. And yet marriages were often arranged, most often but not exclusively at the higher levels of society. In some cultures, arranged marriages happen even today. A 2020 article in the Washington Post described how many Indian families still rely on old-style matchmakers who connect people looking for spouses.

And of course, in the Western world, many people use online dating apps to screen prospective partners for compatibility, not only of temperament but also income, race, and looks, so I can't claim screening potential mates is a purely an Eastern thing. 

But after seeing my mom’s devastation, I tried to imagine a world where that circumstance could never happen to anyone. How could a human being make a lifetime commitment to someone and be absolutely sure it wouldn’t be broken? I realized, of course, such certainty wasn’t really possible for humans, so I invented a world where it was. I ended up creating Wakanreo, the planet that is the basis for the trilogy that begins with the novel Alien Bonds. The aliens known as Wakanreans are unique in my far-future universe because they mate for life from a purely biological reaction. And once mated, the attraction never fades.

Finding a life partner is a serious matter. Some people stay single from choice, some from despair after a bad relationship, and some because they're waiting for the right person to walk into their lives. But in the society I created on Wakanreo, every adult is either paired off or waiting to be paired off, based on a biological reaction beyond his or her control.

Once I had determined the mechanism for this bonding, I thought about how it would affect the cultures of this world. This system has advantages and disadvantages for individuals, but one side effect is, there are no castes, no aristocrats, no stratification of society, because pairing off cannot be controlled or arranged like marriage can be. Also because of that, sex has nothing to do with morality.

But the heart of that novel is that attraction and love are two different things. The couple in the story cannot resist the pull of the biological reaction, but that does not mean that they love each other. The bond from the biological mating is practically instantaneous, but the bond from love, like love itself, takes time to grow and must be nourished. And in that way, Wakanreans are like humans, in that while the lifelong commitment is unbreakable, love isn’t guaranteed to be part of it.

I don’t know if anyone could tell from reading my books whether they originated from an intellectual question or from pure spontaneous generation, but for me, the process was very different. I am a “pantser.” I write “from the seat of my pants,” without an outline. In fact, I credit a lot of my output to insomnia; I wrote most of my books in my head first, while lying in bed trying to go to sleep. The stories that started from a specific question were more constrained than those that simply flowed from my subconscious, because they had to conform to my inspiration. As to which are the better books, I will leave that to the reader to decide.

But if I were to create a muse for science fiction writers, I think I would name her Mary, after Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley who wrote Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, the very first science fiction novel. It seems only fair.

And if you would like to visit Wakanreo, you can find Alien Bonds for sale online in paperback or on the Kindle.

Buy: US Kindle store (also currently available through Kindle Unlimited)
Buy: 
Paperback

Blurb:

A human woman and an alien man are unexpectedly bonded and must learn to navigate the sea of their
differences. Industrial chemist Dina Bellaire travels all the way to the planet Wakanreo to advance her career. Her carefully planned life goes up in flames the second she meets Kuaron Du, a Wakanrean who makes his living singing ancient songs in a dead language. Both of them know they can’t go back to the way they were before they met. They just have to convince the rest of the universe that what happened to them is real. From Kirkus Reviews-- "Buxton offers an SF story about interplanetary love triumphing, despite the odds.. . . readers will feel truly immersed in their religion, values, and technology of Wakanreo and appreciate the relevance of Buxton's depiction of a couple fighting for their relationship in a climate of intolerance in this thought-provoking work. A dense but often engrossing tale, grounded in a relatable love affair."

Excerpt:

Neither of them had taken a step since he took hold of her arm. Dina swallowed once, conscious of discreet glances and overt stares from those around them.

“I’m all right,” she said finally, wondering if she was speaking the truth. The dizziness had passed, but she still felt lightheaded. “Thank you, but you can let go now.”

He loosened his grip but didn’t release her for a few seconds. When he did, he brushed her bare arm with the back of his hand. Dina was amazed when it sent shivers of anticipation up her spine.

“This is unexpected.” His wonderfully resonant voice had a rich, warm timbre to it that made Dina’s shivers change from anticipation to yearning.

“Yes,” she said, unsure of what he meant, but afraid to give offense.

“Where do you live?”

“I have an apartment in the off-world sector,” she said, wondering why she was answering him. She fought the urge to close her eyes and just listen to that wonderful voice.

“My house is in the cliffs outside the city. Let’s go there instead.”

“All right.”

It took Dina a moment to realize that she had agreed to go home with him.

Bio:

Carmen Webster Buxton spent her youth reading every book published by Ursula LeGuin, Robert Heinlein and Georgette Heyer. This combination of far-future worlds, alien cultures, and old-fashioned courting customs influenced her writing, especially in her ThreeCon series.

Carmen was born in Honolulu and experienced a childhood on the move, as her father was in the US Navy. Having raised two wonderful children, she now lives in Maryland with her husband Charlie, and a beagle named Cosmo. She writes science fiction, often with a romance or two, and the occasional fantasy. She is a member of
the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America  (SFWA).