Monday, May 29, 2017

A Day in Scotland: Rainbows & Clouds by Jean M. Grant


Please read on for a fun guest post from Jean M. Grant.

I can thank Judy Garwood and Diana Gabaldon (of Outlander fame) for seducing me with all things Scotland nearly twenty years ago. Kilts, burly men with brogue-accents, castles, moors, and majestic mountains…ah, so very romantic and rich in history! The setting in A Hundred Kisses takes my hero and heroine on a journey across the Isle of Skye and the sea separating the Hebrides and mainland, and then on to the Isle of North Uist. I was fortunate enough to visit Scotland in September, 2008, which I’d expected to be a blissful, sunny month. Mmphmm. Nope! Those majestic Cuillin I reference in the book? Yeah, they were shrouded by rain – thank goodness for internet research, right? It was no wonder the Bonnie Prince Charlie hid here – I could barely see the road, yet alone the rugged landscape. 

However, Alasdair and Deirdre’s journey begins at the signature castle, Eilean Donan, originally built in the 6th century but fortified circa 1300s. Remarkably, sunshine visited me on that day (it was a very wet September when I visited Scotland). Like many castles, it’s steeped in a colorful history of feuds, disputes, ownerships, destruction, and restorations; and there are even claims that Robert the Bruce stayed here during the Scottish Wars of Independence. This castle is as resplendent and utterly dreamy as all the pictures portray. It’s situated on a small isle, surrounded by three lochs, and stands guard over the Kintails. I managed a solo visit with my husband right before a tour bus arrived. We were gifted with a bowing rainbow over the breathtaking mountain and loch. 

Even though Skye and the isles eluded me, there were plenty of windswept moors, lochs, meadows, stone-topped crags, and green rolling hills. And rain. Plenty of rain to inspire. Scotland’s rugged enchantment did not let me down. And I hope I did it justice in A Hundred Kisses.

Two wedding nights. Two dead husbands.
Deirdre MacCoinneach wishes to understand her unusual ability to sense others’ lifeblood energies…and vows to discover if her gift killed the men she married. Her father’s search for a new and unsuspecting suitor for Deirdre becomes complicated when rumors of witchcraft abound.

Under the façade of a trader, Alasdair Montgomerie travels to Uist with pivotal information for a Claimant seeking the Scottish throne. A ruthless baron hunts him and a dark past haunts him, leaving little room for alliances with a Highland laird or his tempting daughter.

Awestruck when she realizes that her unlikely travel companion is the man from her visions, a man whose thickly veiled emotions are buried beneath his burning lifeblood, Deirdre wonders if he, too, will die in her bed if she follows her father’s orders. Amidst magic, superstition, and ghosts of the past, Alasdair and Deirdre find themselves falling together in a web of secrets and the curse of a hundred kisses…

She sensed no colors in the murky, lifeless water, and it was freeing. All breath escaped her. Muted visions passed before her eyes—her mother, her father, Gordon, and Cortland. Just a moment longer, she thought…

Suddenly, a burst of warm light invaded her thoughts as air filled her lungs. Red-hot hands burned her shoulders and ripped her from her icy grave. She breathed life into her body. She coughed, gagging on the change.

Muffled words yelled at her.

Oh, God, so hot. His fingers were like hot pokers. Her head pounded as she slowly returned to the present. Heat radiated from her rescuer. Somebody had pulled her from the water.


“Hush, lass. You nearly drowned.”

His voice was as soothing as a warm cup of goat’s milk on a winter’s day. A red-hot glow emanated from his body. Never before had she felt such a strong lifeblood, and it nearly burned her. She struggled in his arms to get free. She blinked, only seeing a blurry form before her. “Release me!”

She splashed and wriggled, and he did as told. She clambered to the shoreline. Numb and shaken, she began to dress. It wasn’t easy as she fumbled with slick fingers to put dry clothes over wet skin. She instantly regretted her naked swim. She pulled on her long-sleeved white chemise first.

She faced the forest, away from her rescuer. He quietly splashed to shore. His lifeblood burned into her back. He wasn’t far behind, but he stopped. She refused to look at him until she was fully clothed, not out of embarrassment of her nudity, but for what had just happened. He released a groan and mumbled under his breath about wet boots. His voice was not one of her father’s soldiers.

When she put the last garment on, her brown wool work kirtle, she squeezed out her sopping hair and swept her hands through the knotty mess. She fastened her belt and tied the lacings up the front of the kirtle. Blood returned to her fingertips, and she regained her composure. Belated awareness struck her, and she leaned down and searched through her bag for her dagger. She spun around.

She gasped as she saw the man sitting on the stone-covered shoreline, his wet boots off. Confusion and the hint of a scowl filled his strong-featured face. She staggered back, caught her heel on a stone, and fell, dropping the dagger. Dirt and pebbles stuck to her wet hands and feet, and she instinctively scrambled away from him.

His glower, iridescent dark blue eyes, and disheveled black hair were not unfamiliar. Staring at her was the man she had seen in her dream—it was the man from the wood.

Buy Links:

Author bio:
Jean is a scientist, part-time education director, and a mom. She currently resides in Massachusetts and draws from her interests in history, science, the outdoors, and her family for inspiration. She enjoys writing non-fiction articles for family-oriented and travel magazines, and aspires to write children’s books while continuing to write novels. In 2008, she visited the land of her daydreams, Scotland, and it was nothing short of breathtaking. Jean enjoys tending to her flower gardens, tackling the biggest mountains in New England with her husband, and playing with her sons, while daydreaming about the next hero to write about...

Twitter: @JeanGrant05

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Clock Strikes Nun by Alice Loweecey

Please welcome Alice Loweecey to Fearless Friday with an intriguing post!

Apparently, I’m an overachiever, because I’ve accomplished two life-changing events. Yay, me? 

Back in the day, Catholic schools were staffed almost entirely by nuns. The old way (sort of): Nuns in modified habits looking like cosplaying penguins. (I really like penguins, too.)

The nuns were so mysterious and set apart. Could you imagine being one of those special women? What a carrot to dangle in front of teenage girls’ noses. 

I snatched the carrot and learned first-hand how a cult operates.

Cut you off from family and friends? Check.

Change the way you dress? Check.

Change the way you walk and talk? Check. (Really.)

Censor your reading material? Check. (Although the reeducation sort of makes you censor it yourself.)

Open your mail and listen in on your phone calls? Check.

Read your private journal? Check. 

I took it for years because I was “chosen,” “special,” “set apart.” Brainwashing gets its hooks into you and you have to work for a long time to dislodge them. I blame no one but myself for the brainwashing. I could’ve walked away anytime pre-convent. But, yanno, “chosen,” “special,” “set apart.” 

Four years in, I made the decision to jump the wall. There was a wall, but I walked out the door. Less drama, easier on the ankles. By the way, if you ever hear the phrase “jump the wall,” it means only one thing: Leaving the convent. 

So much for life-changer #1. 

You may think entering the convent is difficult. You’re right. Leaving behind everyone and everything, changing practically everything about yourself, living with 95 women who all cycle at the same time. But let me assure you, it’s a tropical vacation compared to walking away from it all. 

I spent my last two weeks as a nun in my room. I came out of it only for meals and Mass. 

30+ years ago, there was something of an exodus of younger nuns. The older nuns watched and thought, “Who’s going to push my wheelchair when I get old?”

Fifteen years passed before I got past the anger of those last few months in the convent. Now I look back and realize the nuns were scared and took out their fear on me. 

Less than fun. 

I came home to my parents’ house with a single change of clothes to my name. Not like I was going to sneak a habit in my bag. If YouTube had been around then, the clip of me trying on high heels for the first time in four years would’ve gone viral in a day. 

The weirdest part? Interacting with people as an equal instead of a combination RCC ad/Dear Abby/authority figure.

Just like when I joined the Cult of the Convent and changed everything about myself, I had to relearn who I was as a “regular” person. 

Life changer #2 achieved. 

But when life hands you horrible experiences—use them for fiction! That’s my philosophy. Also, I have party conversation for the rest of my life. And nun jokes. A lot of nun jokes. If you ever see me at a writers’ conference, I’ll tell you a few.

Doomsday Preppers and Online Dating and Cults, oh my! Nun but the Brave, Giulia Driscoll's new mystery, is in stores now from Henery Press.

The Redeemers are here! Haunt your nightmares now, from Dark Recesses Press.

Baker of brownies and tormenter of characters, Alice Loweecey recently celebrated her thirtieth year outside the convent. She grew up watching Hammer horror films and Scooby-Doo mysteries, which explains a whole lot. When she's not creating trouble for her sleuth Giulia Driscoll or inspiring nightmares as her alter-ego Kate Morgan, she can be found growing her own vegetables (in summer) and cooking with them (the rest of the year).

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Naughty Friends by Nell Castle


Please join me in welcoming Nell Castle to Discover Yourself. It's all about naughty friends for Wicked Wednesday.

"Writing is something you do alone. It’s a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while telling it.” John Green 

I always prefer writing to talking, but sometimes my friends insist on taking me out into the “real world” for “actual experiences.” I don’t know why I’m friends with so many extroverts. Maybe opposites attract. Maybe extroverts seek out introverts to ensure someone will listen to their many, many thoughts. Maybe they secretly fear that, like the proverbial tree in the forest, they might not even exist without an audience. 

I have been audience to plenty of bad behavior from my more extroverted loved ones, especially when the “real world” they take me out to is a bar on a Saturday night. I’ve watched friends accept drinks from guys they weren’t into and then ditch them with me, at my table, when someone better came along. I’ve watched friends challenge each other to find the cutest couple in the bar and flirt with them until they broke up. I’ve stood alone under the bright lights of a karaoke stage, frozen in terror at the first strains of I’ve Got You, Babe after my brother promised--promised--to be Cher to my Sonny, but when our number came up, he’d disappeared into the parking lot with a sailor on leave. I’ve pleaded with friends not to embarrass me by approaching a guy on my behalf, and watched in horror as they led him straight to my table. 

We all have that friend. (And if you don’t have that friend, chances are you’re that friend.)  

Janna Wilson, my main character’s boss in Turning the Tides, was inspired by a certain flirty blonde friend of mine. In the excerpt, Janna is meeting Lee for lunch to advise her on a case--until she gets distracted by a burly fireman openly staring at them from the bar. 

Lee frowned at her menu. “Don’t encourage him.” She put her phone on silent and slipped it into her purse, hoping for some uninterrupted counsel from her supervisor.

“Come on, live a little.” Janna removed her lightweight black shrug and drew back her shoulders to invite attention to what lay beneath her tight gold camisole. Her skin, deeply tanned, bore the faint, erosive lines of middle age.

Lee widened her eyes, the corners of her mouth quirking. “I thought we were here to talk about work. Not pick up guys.” Janna’s husband of twenty-odd years had left her for a younger woman a year ago. From her co-workers, Lee caught a definite whiff of disapproval at Janna’s attempts to reclaim her youth with tight clothing, online dating, and dance clubs.

Janna gave a little wave to the bar and brought her attention back to Lee with a triumphant smile. “Yeah—but I’ve still got a pulse.” She scanned the appetizer menu. “Have you tried alligator yet? It actually does taste like chicken.”

Lee wrinkled her nose. “No, but I’ve learned to like conch fritters. I’m not in the mood for anything fried today, though.”

Her eyes brightening, Janna glanced up from the menu. “Don’t look now, but here comes the main attraction.”

Lee swiveled her head and found her gaze level with the zippered crotch of their server. She snapped her face back to center, eyes wide with embarrassment.

Janna smiled upward, her wavy, highlighted hair falling back from her face. “My friend here says she likes your fritters. What kind of fritters were those, Lee? Co—?”

“Conch!” Lee choked out, her face burning. She glared at Janna, struggling to control her voice. “Conch fritters. And no, I don’t want any today.”

Surveying the menu with a wicked smile, Janna gave a tiny shrug. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Jumping Time Periods by Augustina Van Hoven

MUSE MONDAY          
Please join me in welcoming Augustina Van Hoven to Discover Yourself today.
Writing a series that takes place in two different time periods requires a lot of research.  For the Rose series I needed to know the colorful history of the Idaho Territory, in particular the years of 1881 and 1882.  Several of the real historical figures and events made it into the series.

            The modern day parts of the book take place in the Idaho Legislature.  For these parts I studied current political issues as well as drawing on personal experience.   A few years ago I substituted for my own representative in the legislature.  I presented and debated bills in committees as well as the floor of the House.  Even though the book is fiction, the political bills that my characters present have actually been discussed either in interim committees or on the House floor.

            All these elements are blended into this paranormal story involving two supernatural beings who use people and ghosts as chess pieces in their game of wills.  I had a lot of fun telling this story and weaving all the different parts into a unique tapestry.  I will miss all these characters that have been a part of my life for several years. The Bloom of a Rose is the third and final book in the series.  It releases on March 14th

Augustina Van Hoven

Proving Love is Strange



THE BLOOM OF A ROSE – Available March 14th

Twitter:  @augustinavhoven

Pinterest: Augustina Van Hoven, Author 

The Bloom of a Rose
Rachel Bartlett doesn’t expect to meet the man of her dreams at a funeral.  But a chance conversation with Paul Miller inserts her in a political game between good and evil.  Unfortunately, her political strategist mother has other plans for her, and they don’t include romance.  Paul is the exact wrong guy for her, but sometimes it takes someone from the opposition to show you the way out of the maze.
Paul Miller is fighting battles on multiple fronts, and he doesn’t have time for an infatuation with a graphic artist, no matter how blue her eyes or how sharp her wit.  If his trust is misplaced, then a wrong move loses the game.
What the couple doesn’t know is that they are not alone.  Supernatural beings battle behind the scenes—and humans are all pawns on a chessboard.  The outcome of the game will determine not only what the future might be…but whether or not there even is one.
The Bloom of a Rose
March 14th

            Paul reached for the sweet and sour chicken trying not to let his hand shake.  “Did you come to a decision?”
            She set down her fork and stared at her plate. “No.”
            He let out his breath and his chest relaxed a bit.  “Are you leaning one way or the other?”
            She looked up and he could see the tears sparkling in her eyes.  He set down his food, reached out and gathered her in his arms.  She leaned against his chest and he could feel the moisture of her tears dampen his shirt. 
            “It’s all right.  I’m here, I can help you.”
            She wrapped her arms around his waist and cried.
            After a while she let go and straightened up.  He handed her a dinner napkin and she wiped her eyes and nose then took a deep breath. 
            “It’s cheaper for me to go back to school.  There are some low rent apartments available not too far from a bus route that will go right past the school.  The school has a list of places willing to hire students.  I can also apply for some of the art scholarships provided by some of the school’s patrons.  Because of the time I’ve lost since I came to Boise, it will take me a year and a half to two years to finish my studies.”  She ran the napkin over her face again.
            “If I take the online option, it will take two to two and a half years to finish.  It is more expensive to live here and I will have trouble finding a good job because of my mother.”  She sniffed and used the napkin again.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Finding Inspiration by Joanne Guidoccio


Join me in welcoming back Joanne Guidoccio to Discover Yourself. Always a good guest!
When I decided to pursue my writing dream, I imagined one of the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne visiting each morning, taking my hand, and guiding me to the computer. There, she would remain, offering words of encouragement until I produced my daily quota of words.
That was the fantasy.
The reality was very different.
I was unprepared for the tyranny of the blank page. While everything was in place—business cards, new computer, dreams of a runaway best-seller—my writing muscles refused to budge.
Hoping for inspiration, I researched the writing rituals of famous authors:
·                Alexander Dumas color coordinated his paper. He used blue paper for novels, yellow paper for poetry and rose-colored pages for nonfiction.
·                Mark Twain and Truman Capote write lying down.
·                Ernest Hemingway sharpened dozens of pencils before starting to write.
·                Willa Cather read the Bible before writing each day.
·                Before picking up his pen, John Donne liked to lie in an open coffin. (I wonder about this one!)
·                Honoré de Balzac drank vast quantities of black coffee, ensuring that he could write all day and night.
·                Maya Angelou rose at 5 a.m., gathered her legal pads, a bottle of sherry, playing cards, a Bible, and Roget’s Thesaurus and checked into a hotel room (stripped of all stimuli from the walls). She would write 12 pages before leaving in the afternoon and edit the pages in the evening.
Eventually, I came up with my own ritual. Nothing too dramatic, but it works for me.
While having a leisurely breakfast (one of my retirement perks), I don’t linger over that second cup of coffee. If I choose to have more than one cup, I do so while checking email and social media. At nine-thirty, I start writing. My goal is 1000 words a day. At first, I used the oven timer to keep me on task, but that annoying sound reminded me of incessant school bells, so I invested in a bird clock. Each hour, one of my feathered friends, among them the Downy Woodpecker, Belted Kingfisher, and Great Horned Owl, chirp and remind me to pace myself.
When Gilda Greco invites her closest friends to a VIP dinner, she plans to share David Korba’s signature dishes and launch their joint venture— Xenia, an innovative Greek restaurant near Sudbury, Ontario. Unknown to Gilda, David has also invited Michael Taylor, a lecherous photographer who has throughout the past three decades managed to annoy all the women in the room. One woman follows Michael to a deserted field for his midnight run and stabs him in the jugular.
Gilda’s life is awash with complications as she wrestles with a certain detective’s commitment issues and growing doubts about her risky investment in Xenia. Frustrated, Gilda launches her own investigation and uncovers decades-old secrets and resentments that have festered until they explode into untimely death. Can Gilda outwit a killer bent on killing again?
“I’m a nobody here,” David said, glancing down at his plate. “And with my credit rating, none of the banks would endorse a loan. I’m screwed.”
“What if I backed you?” I couldn’t believe I was speaking so casually, all the while my heart beat at an alarming rate.
David rubbed a hand over his chin and flashed a grin at me. “Gilda, darling, you’re sweet to offer, but I don’t think you know what’s involved here.”
Susan nodded in agreement.
Were they playing me, I wondered. Since winning nineteen million dollars in Lotto649, I had encountered many sharks who hoped to prey on my easy-going nature. A quick Google search would have revealed my three-year-old lottery win. Old news, but still there on the second and third pages.
“Would one hundred thousand dollars be enough?” I asked. “In case you don’t know, I won a major lottery several years ago.” Since winning, I had received many proposals from across the province and had backed three local ventures. In each case, I had chosen to remain a silent partner.
David’s right hand trembled as he poured himself another glass of wine. Susan’s mouth dropped open, and she gave a little gasp.
“I take it that’s a yes,” I said.
More mild protests followed, and another bottle of wine disappeared. We were all a bit tipsy when we shook on the agreement. And so Xenia was born. 
Buy links:
Amazon (US):
Amazon (Canada):
The Wild Rose Press:
Barnes & Noble: 
In 2008, Joanne took advantage of early retirement and decided to launch a second career that would tap into her creative side and utilize her well-honed organizational skills. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes cozy mysteries, paranormal romance, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.
Where to find Joanne...

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Dreaded Second Phase #RONEAwardNominee


I warned you this day would come. I'm asking for your help.

I am a semi-finalist in the RONE awards with two books in the same category. (A Legacy of Love and Murder AND The Power of Love and Murder). These two books made it past round one (getting a 4 Star review) on their way to a prestigious RONE award. Step two is a vote...from readers. If I get enough reader votes, then the book will move on to the final phase,  which is Industry Professionals will read and pick the winners.

Back to step two, where you come in. I need your votes. There are 24 nominees in my category, Thriller/Suspense, and only two will move on to the final phase. If you haven't registered with InD'tale before, you'll need to do that. After the contest, if you want to unregister you can. What registering does is allow you to vote and you'll also receive the online magazine each month for free. It really is a nice one, but you can opt out. The point is...I need your vote first.

The conundrum is I have two books in the running. I think I need to favor one over the other or risk the challenge of not getting enough votes for either one. Here's my idea. If you've read them both, then vote your conscience if you must, but I think I'm going to favor THE POWER OF LOVE AND MURDER.

Here's the link:

Thank you so much!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Owls and Healthy Coffee


7:00am and the neighbors are having their RV power washed. These are the neighbors on the bedroom side, of course. Doesn't bother me since I've been awake for awhile, but FDW didn't wake too happy this morning. At least he's not mad at our resident owl, who I love. Can you see him in the tree?

Speaking of! I like mine flavored and thought I'd share a recipe I came up with. There are two reasons I'm experimenting with this. First, I thought it might be cheaper than buying the flavored creamers, and second, I wanted to add some health benefit to my morning java.

Cinnamon is one of the healthiest spices. It can lower blood sugar levels and reduce heart disease risk among other things. Coconut oil is great for keeping your cholesterol in check so also good for your heart. And fiber plays a role in digestive, heart, and skin health. So here is my coffee recipe:

1/2 tsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp honey
3 shakes of cinnamon
1 tsp fiber (I use a soluble fiber called Benefiber)
1 tbs cream
1 cup coffee

You can of course add more oil and honey for a sweeter concoction. Mix ingredients in a blender until you have a frothy delicious cup of latte! Also note, I have a single size blender so I don't have to drag out the big one. Makes it easier. You can get one for $10-$15.

It's growing more quiet by the day on the RV ranch. Two of our Happy Hour Crew couples have left and won't return until mid October. Others we don't know have vacated. I did meet a new couple yesterday who are here for the long haul. She has a garden started in pots and a spiral tower. Pretty impressive. Their story is much like ours...sold the home fast and not sure where they want to light next so they came here. They might find themselves in no hurry to leave just like us.
Our morning walk

Monday, May 1, 2017



Please join me in welcoming Sharon Ervin to Discover Yourself today.

Memories of friends from high school can prompt daydreams. Sprinkle in some “what ifs,” and splashes of reality and Voila! a novel is born. At least that’s how MEMORY came to be. Easy peasy.

A woman's mangled body found on the shoulder of a highway is mistakenly identified as Memory Smith. Was she murdered or the victim of a grisly hit-and-run? Assistant District Attorney David "Mac" McCann, knows exactly where Memory is, and it's not lying dead beside a highway. While they investigate rumors and foiled assaults on her person, Memory and Mac stumble across other forgotten, home town mysteries, and become caught up in a little unexpected romance.

The drizzle became intermittent sprinkles as David drove to the only all-night convenience store in town. He bought a hairbrush, a toothbrush and toothpaste. He glanced at packaged ladies’ briefs, but decided that might be taking chivalry to a tasteless extreme. Donnie Rutherford talked on a cell phone the whole time David was in the store, even kept the device at his ear as he rang up the purchases. With a sense of mission, David drove back to Flanagan's.
Caught up planning his campaign for the siege of Room 107, David heard more sirens. Another accident? Maybe. He’d get details at the office Monday, which would be plenty soon enough.
He rapped on the motel room door several times before Memory, her muffled voice just at the other side, asked who it was.
“David McCann.”
“What do you want?”
“I brought you some things.”
The security chain rattled. There was a brief pause, then the chain rattled again as she reattached it before she released the dead bolt, turned the knob and cracked the door, which opened only as far as the chain allowed.
David tried not to stare as he passed her the sack from the convenience store. All he could see of her was one firm, smooth, bare arm and shoulder, and part of her face, twisted into a frown.
“Give me your wet clothes.” He intended to capitalize on this opportunity, take it as far as he could.
“What? Why?”
“I’ll take them to the motel office. Get Mrs. Flanagan to run them through her clothes dryer. It probably won’t take an hour.”
Memory stared into his face, the almond eyes narrowing. She closed the door and shuffled away, then returned, and opened, again only as much as the chain allowed, and squeezed her denim dress through. It was wrapped tightly as if it contained other clothing.
David smiled. “Be right back.”
“You can’t go get them later wearing a bed sheet and I didn’t think you’d want me to sit in the car for an hour, in this.” He glanced skyward, ignoring the fact the fickle sky was clearing. “Mrs. Flanagan can ring the room when the clothes are dry and I’ll run pick them up for you.” Without giving her time to think of an alternative plan, he took off for the office.

Book available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and bookstores. ISBN 978-1-5092-12903
Buy links for MEMORY are or or

You can connect with Sharon:
Web site:
Email is