Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tortuga, Tucson, and $$ Tips

Tortuga Thursday 
In 2012, on the plains of Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love

A stop on the Sabino Canyon tour
Taking time to post for Tortuga Thursday has been difficult. Plus, I've discovered while in pain, I'm not much good at writing. Yep, the back is still a problem. I hoped the three days of relaxation I would be forced into when we went to Tucson would do it. No such luck. I've got an appointment at the Indian Medical Center tomorrow.

However, the time in Tucson - a gift from Lance and Christie for my birthday - was fantastic. Here's one of those living on the cheap tips: resorts in the off season can be had for a third of their normal fees.

On the resort grounds
While in Tucson, we took the tram through the Sabino Canyon. We
On the resort grounds
got the senior discount. We didn't do any hiking because of my back, but can't wait to return when I'm healthy. What a gorgeous place.

On the farm, we have soy beans, okra, crookneck yellow squash, tomatoes, onions, and zucchini harvested every day. Soy beans have about a 3-day period when they have to come off the plant. I hit it right this year. They taste wonderful.

Purple okra in a basket of soy beans
We are officially done with the farmers' markets. Although we have
Purple okra bloom
some product left, we're not vending anymore. We'll keep it and use for ourselves or give at Christmas. I'm rather happy to be done with the market which tied up every weekend for us.

One sad note, we had to euthanize Rusty. One day he was fine and the next he couldn't stand on his own. We miss him horribly. He was my other son and my baby. He was Frank's fishing buddy and best friend. We're thankful we had him for the past eleven years. He enriched our lives as only a good doggie can. 

Barrel cactus in bloom in Tucson

Monday, August 24, 2015

A TRUTHFUL Muse Monday with Joyce Proell

Please welcome my special guest, Joyce Proell.

It’s a special treat for me to be on Brenda’s blog today. We’ve been critique partners for at least nine years—maybe even longer. Over countless discussions about beloved WIPs (works in progress), a deep trust has emerged. I feel so blessed to have landed in a group with Brenda. She’s given me expert advice on many projects including all three of the ‘Truth’ books in my Cady Delafield series.

I value your input in shaping these stories. Thanks, friend.

Today, I want to talk about how the Cady Delafield series came about. As a reader, I’ve always been split down the middle when it came to my preference for romance versus mystery novels. Why couldn’t a book be both? Since I could never choose which genre I preferred more, I decided to combine each element in the ‘Truth’ books. A Deadly Truth, A Burning Truth and A Wicked Truth are as much suspense/mystery as they are romance.
The series was conceived as a trilogy. Murder is the catalyst that throws Cady and Doyle together. Over the course of the three stories, they fall deeply in love, but their path to the altar is fraught with danger, doubts, interfering families and the ever present criminal.

Like all great mysteries, the stories are written with enough twists to keep the reader guessing about the criminal’s identify until the end. Cady’s feisty personality and Doyle’s confident, take charge attitude insure that things are kept lively. Their romance is sweet, sensual, sometimes turbulent and always fun.
Following is a little info on all three books.
A Deadly Truth
A man obsessed, a woman willing to risk it all…

Tainted in the eyes of Victorian society by his wife’s suicide, successful entrepreneur Doyle Flanagan turns a deaf ear to the baseless gossip and harsh rebukes. Ignoring his shattered reputation, he goes about his business making money, doing some good for others and making a few enemies along the way. Arrested for murder, he is forced to rely on a feisty school administrator to solve the puzzle. As he struggles to prove his innocence, he realizes gaining the trust and loyalty of Cady Delafield may be more important than his freedom.

On a quest to locate a missing student, school matron Cady Delafield enters a stranger’s house and discovers the woman murdered. Driven to see the murderer brought to justice, she is determined to prevent any further tragedy even if it means joining forces with the very man accused of the atrocity. Against the wishes of her powerful family, she risks her job and reputation to learn the truth. But will the truth, once revealed, drive her away from the man she has come to love?

Passion and murder collide in 1880’s Chicago as they race to keep one step ahead of the police who want Doyle to pay for his crime. As the attraction between Cady and Doyle sizzles, they battle suspicions, lies and lethal actions to uncover the murderer before he destroys them both.

A Burning Truth
In 1881, the air in Chicago is rife with worker discontent, yet business titan Doyle Flanagan is hopeful for the future. He looks forward to a lifetime of peaceful bliss with Cady Delafield and leaving the wretched past behind. But his life is once again thrown into disarray when his office is vandalized and the night watchman viciously murdered. Clues lead to a powerful organized labor movement. Targeted in the press as anti-labor and with a big rally staged next door to his offices, Doyle must uncover the culprits before his wedding plans and his livelihood go up in smoke. 
Plagued by memories of four brutal deaths, school director Cady Delafield is determined to drive the recent tragedies from her mind and enjoy being courted.  Although his commanding personality threatens to overshadow her, Doyle Flanagan is the most dynamic man she’s ever met. When another tragedy unfolds placing him at the center, she takes action—action that could shatter her future dreams.

A Wicked Truth
The wedding date is set, and life is magical for Doyle Flanagan and Cady Delafield. Yet trouble has a way of finding these two. Honor bound to repay an old debt, Doyle agrees to help a friend find her sister. As he searches for the girl, painful memories surface, stunning Cady when she discovers facts about Doyle’s hidden past.

In spite of incredible odds, Cady and Doyle’s love has flourished. Now mired in tragedy and secrets, their happiness is in jeopardy. Their wits are put to the test when catastrophe strikes close to home threatening those Cady loves the most. Can they overcome the turmoil with a fateful decision that will change their future forever? 
Here’s an excerpt for A Wicked Truth

“Someone’s been in my room and taken things.”
His brow tightened. “How do you know?”
“I haven’t been able to find the lovely scarf you gave me. I assumed I’d lost it or left it behind when I met Grace for tea last week. Then today, I noticed one of your notes missing.”
“When you send a gift, you always include a card or note.”
“You kept my notes?”  Doyle beamed.
“I’m a romantic, all right?” Hot with embarrassment, Cady lifted her chin and stared him dead on. “They’re precious. I’ll cherish them forever.”
His face softened. He skimmed a finger along her jaw and let it linger over her lips. At his touch, her body quickened.
“What did the note say?” When he removed his hand, the spell broke.
“Oh, it was the one about our first kiss, where I trembled beneath your fingers.”
“Ah, I recall.” His voice dropped a level.
The same finger he’d placed over her lips now traced the opening of her dress causing an immediate shiver of excitement. It slipped past the fastened buttons and stopped just over her heart. “Is anything else missing?” As easy as a breeze, he undid the button between her breasts.
“I don’t think so.” Even to her own ears, she sounded shaky.
“Are you afraid?” His finger darted inside and wiggled below the silky fabric of her corset and chemise.
“No,” she breathed.
He dipped his head, his mouth mere inches from hers and worked a few more buttons.
“Are you worried one of your roommates may harm you?” When his hand disappeared inside her dress and caressed her nipple, she gasped.
“Angry,” she mumbled, aware more of the physical sensations than logic and words.
“What?” It was as if he called to her in a fog.
“You’re trembling beneath my fingers, like the first time.” His words were a feather brush erasing all reason.
“Are you surprised?” she managed to ask.
 “The way you tremble, the change in your breathing…” With a sweep of an arm, he slipped her on his lap.
Relieved and thrilled that the moment she’d waited for all night had arrived, she threw her arms about his shoulders. Her mouth fell hard on his, and she lost herself to a kiss that seemed wonderfully endless.             

To find out more about Cady and Doyle or to sign up for my newsletter, connect with me at:
Happy reading, Joyce


Friday, August 21, 2015


Please welcome my guest, Peggy Jaeger and enjoy her fun post!

I used to think I danced well. I always had fun at weddings and parties when the music played, as long as it had a recognizable beat. So last year when I was asked to take part in our town high school’s fundraiser Dancing with the Keene Stars, I said “yes” without a moment's hesitation. The event is patterned after the television show where 10 stars or people active in community affairs are partnered with 10 pros or people with dance experience. I agreed because it’s a wonderful fundraiser for Project Graduation. Plus, I knew I could dance.

Turns out I can't. Not according to Ballroom rules.

I was assigned a much younger partner (read 24 to my 55), given the Cha-Cha to learn which we would dance to CeeLo Green's Forget You. Snappy, upbeat tempo song, perfect for a fast cha-cha.

And someone who could actually dance.

From the first day of rehearsals I tried to put on a good game face. I listened to all the instructions given by the dance director, only managed to step on my partner's toes three times and fell down flat on my a** twice.

Yeah, I thought I could dance.

The closer we got to the actual performance, the lousier I danced - if what I was doing could be called dancing. In reality my partner guided me around the dance floor while I tried to keep up and not fall...or come out of my shoes. I put my good, game face on again, answering people who asked if I was nervous, "of course not. What’s to be nervous about? It's a fundraiser, so everybody wins. Besides, what's the worst that could happen?"

I realize now I didn't think that statement through.

At dress rehearsal the night before the first performance, I glanced around at all the other stars. None of them looked like me, were as old as me, or seemed as scared as I did. What was I doing here? I was a 55 year old, bottled blonde, menopausally chubby (read: fat!) woman, sweating like a farm animal from non-relenting hot flashes, trying to compete with girls half my age, NOT going through menopause, and who all looked model-amazing in their skimpy dance costumes, while I was wearing a black Amish schmatta with fringe covering me from my neck to the bottom of my knees. Not a good look. On anyone.

My rehearsal did not go well. It fact, I was pretty certain they were going to pull me from the line up. Of course they didn't (no such luck!). I wanted to run out of the auditorium, straight to Dunkin Donuts, and drown my self-doubt in Boston Cremes and chocolate munchkins. I didn't have a month to drop 67 pounds; I didn't have time to get a new costume; I didn't have any more time to practice the dance. Tomorrow night I would be forced to make a complete and utter fool of myself in public with friends, family, and business leaders watching me, look sweaty and fat-jiggly doing it, and have to face the community afterwards.

Driving home from the debacle, I realized I had two opposing forces working inside me: a truckload of fear and a lifetime of attitude. The fear was from pure performance anxiety. I don't like being the center of attention on any day, so what the heck had I been thinking when I'd said yes to being in the cast? It must have been a menopausal brain synapsis misfire moment. Well, aside from food poisoning, running away, or sudden death, I was committed to performing, so I decided to put the attitude to work, in spite of being scared to death.

FDR said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Tell it to the chick in the black dancing shoes, shaking like she's going through an earthquake and sweating enough to raise steam from her body. But I digress.

The night of the first performance I was scheduled to go on second to last - sheer torture for the nerves- and stayed back stage, running the routine in my head a thousand times, a smile tinged with a boatload of crazy of my face, my hands folded in front of me so no one could see them shake. Never let them see you sweat...remember that one?

The curtain rose, the music started, and my partner and I danced out.

We were...okay. I didn't fall or forget my routine. I did come out of a shoe at one point though, but I stomped my foot back in and kept the maniacal smile on my face. When we were done there was even applause. Thunderous applause. So much applause I looked around the stage to try and see who everyone was clapping for. Well, jeez: it was me! (and my partner).

During the interview phase after the dance the 3 judges all commented on how fabulous my legs looked - the only skinny part of me - and how I kept my smile in place through the routine, which they all agreed, I seemed to be enjoying. If they only knew. I'd been detailing my comical woes of dancing on my website blog throughout the week as a way of promoting the event, and one of the judges had been following my entries. I got teary-eyed when she quoted something I'd penned the night before after the rehearsal disaster. She read aloud to the audience, "...challenges come in all forms, and in order to grow and thrive as humans, we need to take them up from time to time. Learning how to dance the cha-cha has been an enervating and exhausting thing for someone as sedentary (both in mind and body) as myself. I have to think logically, count (not my strong suit!) and concentrate on so many aspects - head up, don't look down, keep your shoulders square, smile. It's a lot for someone like me who basically hibernates in a solitary writing room."

It felt a little weird having my written thoughts repeated back to me, but in a way it was empowering as well. Since the first performance was over and I'd succeeded in not breaking a leg or doing some serious damage to my partner's toes, the fear of performing in public ebbed a tad.

Less than a tad, actually.

Night two went...okay also. Same thunderous applause again, and this time the judges said the toe-tapping song, my dance routine, and my happy smiling attitude had energized the audience who'd begun to wane a bit. Imagine!

I may never dance in public again but I was able to put my self-doubts and fears of not looking perfect and of not performing flawlessly aside for a good cause. The take away lesson for me was to just do the best you can with anything you attempt, smile through it, and...never let them see you sweat.

Oh, and one other thing I learned: I did know how to dance...freestyle, that is. I'm leaving the ballroom stuff to the pros from now on.

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

Her current titles, available now, include SKATER'S WALTZ and THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME, books 1 and 2 in her 6-book The MacQuire Women Series, published by The Wild Rose Press. Book 3, FIRST IMPRESSIONS releases on 9/23/15.

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.

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

Monday, August 10, 2015

Classic Lit Inspires Cowboy Sexy by Lexi Post

Please welcome my guest, Lexi Post!
Brenda, thank you so much for having me! I’m thrilled to be here on Muse Monday.
I like talking about the inspiration for my stories. My erotic romance is inspired by classic literature and though that may sound counter intuitive, it really works for me. My most recent release COWBOY’S MATCH is book two in my Poker Flat series. The whole series is inspired by Bret Harte’s 1869 short story “The Outcasts of Poker Flat.” I always post the original story (or link) on my website for those who are interested
In Harte’s story, four members of Poker Flat society—a gambler, a prostitute, a madam, and a drunk--are banned from the western settlement when a sudden urge to be virtuous overtakes the citizens. On their way to the next settlement, they meet with an innocent couple, a young man and his fiancée (a tavern waitress). This cast of characters explores the relationship between the innocent and the tainted in Harte’s story. In the first book in my series, COWBOYS NEVER FOLD, I paired up one of the innocent, a cowboy, with one of the tainted, a female professional poker player and owner of Poker Flat Nudist Resort.
In book 2, COWBOY’S MATCH, I delve into a different theme: judging who is tainted and who is innocent. Cole Hatcher is a cowboy who became a professional firefighter to help support his horse rescue ranch. He decided to be a firefighter because his first girlfriend in high school had been accused of arson and then later the fire was ruled accidental. Lacey Winters, the said girlfriend, has always been a good girl and was hurt by the arson charge, but devastated by Cole dumping her because of it. She goes off to college, earns a degree in accounting and then chooses to work at Poker Flat as their bookkeeper.  When Cole arrives at Poker Flat to put out a fire and sees Lacey again, he immediately assumes the worst. I hope by the end of the story, not only is a reader satisfied with a happy, sexy ending, but also thinks about how we judge
people. I know, way too deep for an erotic romance. What can I say, I was raised on classic literature, but read romance voraciously. The whole theme is buried in the story, so it’s still just a fun, hot read.
COWBOY’S MATCH is currently available in the 12 ALARM COWBOYS box set that just released August 4th for only 99 cents. This is a limited time price. It’s 12 brand new cowboy firefighter stories by 11 amazing authors and myself and they are all hot ;-) Hope you enjoy.
Always, Lexi
Here’s an excerpt from COWBOY’S MATCH.
Finishing her last bite of taco, she took another sip of tea and headed for the kitchen with her empty glass. She refilled her iced tea, narrowly avoiding Rachel.
The last thing she wanted was the staff gossiping about her and Cole. No, her and John. Sugar, she needed to push Cole Hatcher out of her head.
She strolled through the main room with the huge fireplace, pondering whether to do the state taxes or the bills next. As she turned the corner to the back hall, she walked straight into a clothed man. She grabbed her glass with both hands as strong hands on her shoulders kept her from falling. She didn’t need to look up to know it was Cole. His cedar scent and his bulk told her.
“Are you all right?” The concern in his voice mirrored that in his gaze as it roved over her face.
No, she wasn’t all right. She was a complete mess. “Yes, I’m fine.” Her breath came out as a whisper and she cleared her throat. Darn, but he had the most beautiful eyes. The bright green was streaked with tiny flecks of blue, making them hypnotizing.
“Lacey?” He lowered his head, bringing those breathtaking eyes even closer.
She could lose herself in his gaze, especially as it turned dark and his face tensed. She remembered that look. He was going to kiss her.
She tried to make her mouth form the word her heart craved, but her mind triggered a warning bell as loud as a fire alarm. As he lowered his strong chin with his firm lips toward her own, her throat finally opened.
“No.” The word came out more like a caress than a command, but he stilled, his lips only inches away from hers. She swallowed. “Please don’t.”
He pulled back as if she’d slapped him. “Am I so odious?”
She shook her head. “I can’t go there with you again, unless you can honestly tell me you believe I didn’t start the fire in Orson.” A glimmer of hope flamed to life in her heart as he hesitated.
Turning his hat in his hand, he met her gaze and sighed. “I can’t, Lacey.”
That stubborn flame of hope extinguished quickly in the pool of hurt in her chest. “Then please leave me alone.”
Indecision flashed in his eyes before he nodded. Without saying another word, he donned his hat and strode out of the building.
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About Lexi
Lexi Post is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of erotic romance. She spent years in higher education taking and teaching courses about the classical literature she loved. From Edgar Allan Poe's short story “The Masque of the Red Death” to Tolstoy’s War and Peace, she's read, studied, and taught wonderful classics.
But Lexi's first love is romance novels. In an effort to marry her two first loves, she started writing erotic romance inspired by the classics and found she loved it. Lexi believes there is no end to the romantic inspiration she can find in great literature. Her books are known as "erotic romance with a whole lot of story."
Lexi is living her own happily ever after with her husband and her cat in Florida. She makes her own ice cream every weekend, loves bright colors, and you will never see her without a hat.