Friday, April 27, 2018

#Fearless Belly Dancer, Not Cave Dweller


At least one Friday a month, I have a guest with a great tale of fearlessness. It's about time I offered up something, but then I think what have I done in my life that's fearless? What is brave to one person is no big deal to another. When FDW and I picked up and left Minnesota to farm with our son and his family, a friend said "Wow, you're brave." I just thought it was an adventure.

No, this isn't me.
So, I put on my thinking cap (as Daddy used to say), and came up with a couple of things that might fit into the fearless category. And I certainly wouldn't try all of them again.

Once upon a time, I took belly dancing lessons. It was great fun and great exercise. I might do that again, if I had time, but the fearless part is performing. Twice. One night, my group performed at half-time at a Phoenix Suns basketball game. Another time, we performed on stage at the Arizona State Fair. Will never again do belly undulations in front of hundreds of people!

Once upon another time, I hitched hiked from Genoa, Italy to Monte Carlo in the rain. Our car broke down on the way to the
Grand Prix. We weren't about to miss the event, so we stuck out our thumbs. A wealthy French woman in a very small yellow car, drove us all the way there. Then we braced ourselves on the side of a muddy hill and watched the race and the celebrities. We tried to get into the famous Monte Carlo Casino, but jeans were forbidden. I don't suppose the muddy feet helped either.

My last thought about fearless concerns caves. I'm claustrophobic. I tried, really, but when the entrance disappeared and walls narrowed around me in the Oregon Caves, I panicked. I turned around and ran. Poor FDW could barely keep up with me. When I made it back to the entrance, a gate of bars were locked. Tears! FDW had to turn around and find his way back to the group so the leader could radio out for my escape. On this one, I failed the fearless test.

Do you have a fearless story, success or failure, you'd like to share?

Monday, April 23, 2018

It's a #WritersLife Thing #Craft #Monday


It's Sunday afternoon, and I'm finally sitting down to watch the Diamondbacks. I love our Arizona baseball team. I am composing a post for Muse Monday. FDW is sitting in the recliner next to me, and I'm hoping I can get this post out of my head and on the page before he catches me. This is definitely a writer thing, not a Brenda thing. We don't take full days off our craft without a degree of guilt. So we rarely take a complete day off. Writers Life.

The weekends really don't feel different than any other day if you write. It's a rare author who goes on vacation without a phone and/or her laptop. I've been known to sneak into another room when FDW isn't paying attention to check my emails.

There's one thing he can't call me on and that's writing in my head. Most of my writing is done without a computer in front of me. Actually, I've been caught in cerebral writing mode a few times. "You're thinking about your book, aren't you?" Did the faraway look in my eyes give me away, or that I didn't respond to anything he said in the last twenty minutes?

The voices in my head don't know Sunday from Wednesday. How can I explain my inability to shut them down? Then there's promotion. Yes, I've known for months that the next book would eventually get released, but there were edits and those voices. And I didn't have everything I needed to approach promotion in a meaningful way. So, when the email comes with the release date for the next book, as it did last week, there is a mountain of work to do. Because until you get that date, the ISBN number, and a book that has been edited to death, you can't do much of what has to be done.

It's push time. Sunday isn't a day off.

But before you think this all sounds like no fun, there are benefits. The biggest thing is flexibility. I can take my office to the chair in front of the TV and watch the boys of summer while I work. I can work a long day and get ahead of the game so I can go play with my granddaughter. And the only one who's keeping track of my "to-do" tasks is me. I can cheat today and make up for it tomorrow.

Yet...those voices in my head are always there. Luckily, no one knows but me (and now you) and I like it!

The Worldwide Release date is coming up this summer for the fifth book in my Love and Murder Series. Look for The Deep Well of Love and Murder on June 18.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

#Wicked Delicious #Recipe by Linda O'Connor


I don't get recipe posts here often enough, so I'm loving this one. Please welcome my guest Linda O'Connor. This recipe sounds like it's to die for...and her book Behind the Bench sounds like a good read.
Behind the Bench is set in Clarington and one of the best desserts in town is a wickedly sinful Turtle Pie. It’s a decadent combination of chocolate and caramel and a fav of Danni and her friends – especially freshly made by the chef at the new café at Bibbington Bowling Lanes. The chef was kind enough to share the recipe. Yum!! Enjoy!
Turtle Pie (Gluten-free!) 
Baked Coconut Crust
1 c sweetened flaked coconut
¾ c ground almonds
2 Tbsp butter
Combine and bake at 350° F for 15 minutes. Cool. 
Double Chocolate Mousse Filling
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 c butter
½ c granulated sugar
½ c half and half cream
1½ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
4 eggs
Preheat oven to 350° F. Melt chocolate, butter, sugar, cream, vanilla, and salt over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth. Whisk eggs separately in a large bowl. Slowly beat warm mixture into eggs until well blended. Pour into 10-inch greased spring-form pan and bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from the edge comes out clean. Cool. 
Crunchy Caramel Topping
1 c chopped pecans
1 c sweetened flaked coconut
½ c granulated sugar
½ c evaporated milk
1 egg yolk
3 Tbsp butter
½ tsp vanilla
Toast pecans (~8 min) and coconut (~6 min) on separate baking sheets in a 350° F oven, stirring once, until golden. Transfer to same large bowl. Cool.
Meanwhile, in saucepan, whisk together sugar, milk, and egg yolk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until consistency is slightly thickened (like a thin pudding) about 8-10 min. Stir in butter and vanilla. Stir into pecan mixture until butter is melted. Let cool. Spread evenly over pie. 
 Alternative Smooth Caramel Topping
In small pot over medium heat, simmer 1 can of Eagle Brand Dulce de Leche caramel-flavoured condensed milk for 5 minutes to thicken. Cool and pour over pie.
Behind the Bench (In the Game Hockey Romance series, Book 2) by Linda O’Connor
Dr. Danni Angelo is the team physician for the Clarington Quakes hockey team. She’s worked hard to earn the players’ respect, but the new coach, Trey Mason, is stirring things up, and Danni’s worried her job may be in jeopardy. 
Trey finds Danni…distracting. Beauty, brains, and sexy moves on the ice have him uncomfortably attracted. He’s the new guy on the block. He has a reputation to build and a standard to set. The last thing he needs is a complication. 
When the team spirals out of control and Danni and Trey get caught up in a drug scandal, things heat up on and off the ice. It’s a whole new game plan…Behind the Bench. 
Buy links:
Behind the Bench is part of the Coming in Hot: Rescue Me medical romance collection.
Author Bio
Linda O’Connor started writing a few years ago when she needed a creative outlet other than subtly rearranging the displays at the local home décor store. It turns out she loves writing romantic comedies and has a few more stories to tell. When not writing, she’s a physician at an Urgent Care Clinic (well, even when she is writing she’s a physician, and it shows up in her stories :D ). She hangs out at
Laugh every day. Love every minute. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Story Sets the Scene by P.J. MacLayne


Readers, join me in welcoming P. J. MacLayne!
            Wolves' Gambit wasn't supposed to be set in Wyoming. Sure, I deliberately wrote the opening scene in an old bar in the middle of nowhere, but by the second chapter the story  was planned to move  to the East Coast where the other Free Wolves' books were set. It didn't work out that way.
            I made it to the second chapter before I realized my original plot wasn't going to happen. The whole story was going to occur in Wyoming. And not even a well-known area like Jackson or Yellowstone. No, it was going to stay out in the desert where there are more cows than people. Well, there would be if the area wasn't populated by two packs of wolf-shifters. For some reason, cattle and wolf-shifters don't get along.
            The change in locale opened up some interesting story threads and subplots. For example, it's currently legal to hunt wolves in Wyoming. That explains why the packs in my story were so isolated.
            I was also able to take advantage of the desolate scenery and wide-open spaces to help my heroine, Lori Grenville, in her quest. And present obstacles for her at the same time. Crawling over and under barbed-wire fences isn't what I thought she'd be doing. She's used to big cities and crowds, slipping in and out of stores while making her escape.
            So, I'm glad the story moved to Wyoming. It gave me the opportunity to play with new landscapes and different personalities and unique challenges. And, overall, I think Wolves' Gambit became a better book because of it.
Wolf-shifter Lori Grenville was rescued from near-slavery and a brutal pack leader by the Free Wolves. To pay back the favor, she's dedicated her life to helping others in the same situation, leading shifters to safety and a new start, risking her life in the process. She's faced down alphas and has no qualms in undermining pack structure.
Now she's challenged with the task of restoring an alpha to his rightful place. If she gets it right, she can stop a war from ripping apart two packs and spreading across an entire state. If she fails, she'll be among the first to die.
There's still the option of walking away and letting the Jaeger and Destin packs destroy each other. That means she'll fail in her original mission of rescuing the daughter of the Jaeger alpha before the girl is forced into marriage for political gain.
Lori hasn't failed in a mission yet. This one may be the exception.

In her night camouflage suit, she wormed her way down a gully. She'd observed the sentries bypass it on their rounds on a regular basis. The barbed wire fence that marked the boundary didn't follow the dip, so there was plenty of room to slip under the wire.
            Once out of sight of the guard, she stripped off her clothes and stuffed them into a small backpack. She reached for that glorious sense of other and felt her body change. Wolf now, she began the long trot across the desert, carrying the backpack in her mouth.
            There were unforeseen obstacles and she noted their locations for future reference. A ranch house with dogs that barked as her scent reached them. A four-lane highway carrying more traffic than she'd anticipated. The creek bed that was marked as dry on the map but wasn't. At least it had been narrow enough that she was able to leap across it.
            By the time she got to Destin territory, it was too late—or too early in the morning—to slip inside. The color of the sky was changing from the dark of night to the pale gray of a cloudy morning. She found a spot on the top of a rise that allowed her to track the sentries as they made their rounds along that section.

Buy links:
            Barnes and Noble

To celebrate the release of Wolves' Gambit, I have a giveaway happening. You can win an ebook version of Wolves' Pawn, the first book in the Free Wolves Series. You can enter here: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can reach P.J. MacLayne here:
P.J. MacLayne can be reached on: 

Saturday, April 7, 2018


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Friday, April 6, 2018

#Fearless #Horse Tale by Sasscer Hill


I love horse racing stories so I'm particularly pleased with my guest today, Sasscer Hill. She is fearless in this experience!
Back in my thirties, I got incredibly lucky and was given a handsome four-year-old steeplechase horse. I named him Rascal, and somehow managed to transform this spirited, high strung animal into a riding horse and foxhunter.
I’ve always been a bit too brave and reckless for my own good, and after owning him two years, I dared myself to ride Rascal in the Potomac Hunt Races. When my friends heard I was racing this two-mile course over four-foot, solid, nailed board-fences, they thought I was nuts. They might have been right.
In the jockey’s tent before my race, I was the only female. The male jocks wore enough bandages and braces over wrenched necks, broken collar bones, and shoulder injuries, that my hands began to tremble. In the race before mine, professional jockeys rode the exact same course I would soon be riding. One of them left in a medevac helicopter. Can you say nervous going down to the start? I was scared to death.
But if you’ve read my books, you might have picked up on one of my themes–that you get what you
give. This was so true with Rascal. I trusted him, so he trusted me. I was kind to him, so he was kind to me. Still, I was scared to death riding him to the starting tape.
I was about to have the most extraordinary experience of my life. I was so focused, and so in tune with Rascal that he seemed able to read my mind. It’s the only time in my life where the world moved in slow motion. There was a big crowd that day, and once the race began, the crowd diminished. I never heard them or saw them. The fences came at me, not the other way around. I became one with my horse, and about halfway through, Rascal was running so well, we had only one horse ahead of us.
Suddenly I realized we were badly positioned. Rascal’s head was even with the hindquarters of the other horse. We were speeding toward the biggest fence on the course. I was terrified he’d try to lift with the other horse, be unable to clear the jump, and crash down on top of that wall of nailed boards. I’ve seen it happen.
He allowed me to slow him, just enough to move back out of danger. But the move had cost us ground. As if reading my mind, he darted to the inside of the other horse, and cleared the fence. I hadn’t even had time to give him a cue. He just did it, then flew by the competition They’d never seen us coming. Now we were on the inside, saving ground. About three quarters through the race, Circus shortened his stride, but was only taking a breather. I did not carry a whip, I knew he’d give me what he had. After the last fence, I shook the reins, and scrubbed him out with my hands and legs. He opened his lead on the rest of the field and we won!
I’ve never been so internally focused. When I finally managed to pull the horse up, I saw my mother standing by the rail waving at me. It was so hard to mentally leave the race and re-enter the normal world, that it took me a while to figure out who she was and why she was there.
When I reached her, she was crying, and said, “Don’t you ever do that again!”
Find Sasscer's novel, The Dark Side of Town HERE
Facebook author page:

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Curses, Foiled Again! by Laura Haley-McNeil #villains #wicked #series


Villainy Wicked Wednesday is the best. Please welcome Laura Haley-McNeil with a great post about villains, and she has a series that you'll want to read.
Recently, I was a guest on a blog that wanted to know about my villains. Of course, my favorite villains are the least expected. We’ve seen so many hunched men wearing capes and twirling a mustache that we’re conditioned to know that no matter how pure, this man is the villain. Writers have tried to be more creative by making the least suspicious character the villain, but I believe audiences are becoming conditioned and aren’t surprised when the police officer or the minister is the villain. 
One of my favorite villains is the character that always gets away with a crime. The headlines are filled with well-known people who have skated through life and because of wealth or notoriety, they manage to escape conviction. But their not guilty verdict, never an innocent verdict, doesn’t seem to surprise us. They have the money and/or the prestige to pay the high price for their freedom. Too often we’ve seen these perpetrators commit another crime, commit another heinous act against another innocent victim. When their past catches up with them, how satisfying is it to know that there is justice in this world? Maybe not in the legal system, but even if someone can skirt our legal system, they won’t go unpunished. Maybe not in the time frame we’ve set for justice, but at some point justice will prevail. 
As someone once said, what is legal isn’t always fair. 
That’s why fiction is so satisfying. We can give a promise to the reader or the viewer that some sort of justice will prevail. I’ve read the book The Lovely Bones, but I saw the movie and that had a satisfying ending for the viewer, though I was sad that the characters were never aware of the verdict. I don’t know if the movie followed the book. As long as I know the villain received his just reward, I can live with that. 
Now to a topic that’s much more joyful—springtime! Hope yours is starting out lovely and that enjoying fresh air and blossoming trees. Have a fabulous week! 


Book 6 of the Crystal Creek Series
JT Whitloch can’t close his eyes without seeing the body of the woman who drowned in his swimming pool two years ago. Though he doesn’t remember that night, he blames himself for her death and walks away from a life that gave him everything he ever wanted…almost everything. His move to Crystal Creek gives him the solitude he longs for, but still he can’t find peace. 
Then Gretchen Moore moves to town, and she doesn’t just stir up his desire. She stirs up his past, a past with a secret so deadly it could destroy her. 
Gretchen wants nothing to do with JT. Because of him, someone wants her dead. The terror from his past forces them into an alliance that soon ignites their passion. Fighting these feelings leads them to the secret of the woman floating in JT’s swimming pool, but the knowledge doesn’t ease JT’s inner turmoil. Instead, it reveals an answer that could destroy him and Gretchen. His own destruction he could accept, but he’ll defend Gretchen to his death. 
Barnes and Noble

Monday, April 2, 2018

The Story #BehindTheStory – Petty Cash By Leeann Betts


Please welcome my guest blogger, Leeann to Muse Monday. And be sure to leave a comment so you have a chance at winning a print edition of Petty Cash (US only) or an eBook.

My parents once owned a timeshare property in Hyannis, Cape Cod, back when timeshares were overpriced and didn’t hold their value. In fact, this particular property was so bad in the years after they bought, that they couldn’t even get anybody to rent it for their week, which happened to be the last week of August each year.

I actually went and stayed in this condo one year because I hated the idea of my parents losing money, and I wanted to see how bad it could be that nobody would rent.

Well, it was bad. Tired. Worn out. Almost but not quite sagging. Perhaps sagging emotionally.

However, I had a blast that week, swimming, shopping, seeing the sights on the Cape. So when I was looking around for ideas of where to send Carly this time around, Hyannis came to mind.

Mind you, I have her staying in a much nicer house, overlooking the beach, in a fictional town, but my time on the Cape provided some insights into the setting.

Leave a comment and enter to win a free print (US only) or ebook copy of Petty Cash. 

About the book:
Petty Cash, book 7 in By the Numbers series featuring Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant, finds Carly headed off for another mystery. 

She and hubby Mike travel to Cape Cod as emotional support for their daughter Denise and her dentist husband Don who finds himself in the middle of a potential practice dissolution. But when their host fails to make an appearance, and a tropical storm blows through the area, things are topsy-turvy.

When their host’s body washes ashore, Don is a suspect. After all, they’d had several arguments witnessed by a number of people. Can Carly figure out who the real killer is before her son-in-law is shanghaied into a life sentence?

Book: Amazon  and Smashwords:

About Leeann:
Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released seven titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers. In addition, Leeann has written a devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk, Counting the Days, and with her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, has published two books on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold and More Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays, articles, and exercises on the craft. She publishes a free quarterly newsletter that includes a book review and articles on writing and books of interest to readers and writers. You can subscribe at or follow Leeann at All books are available on in digital and print, and at in digital format.

Website: Receive a free ebook just for signing up for our quarterly newsletter.