Thursday, November 29, 2018

Reading and #Reviews (Sandford, Anderson, Henderson)

I'm a writer, but I'm also a reader. Each month, I'll share with you what I'm reading and some reviews. My available time to read is limited because I write, but I love to curl up with a book or a reader at night for the last hour of my waking day.

I tend to read what I write, which is Romantic Suspense, but not exclusively. My current read is a Romantic Suspnse by Jannine Gallant entitled Hidden Secrets. I also like detective thrillers, WWII historicals, mysteries, and some main stream character driven novels.

I'm sharing three more books with you today. Maybe you'll discover a new book or author!

Amazon Buy Link
Sudden Prey by John Sandford
It's been a couple of years since I read this Crime Thriller, but I wanted to introduce you to the series if you haven't read it. There are a ton of Prey books. You can read them out of order, which is what I did with the first couple, but you'll enjoy them more if you start at the beginning. Lucas Davenport is the main character, a cop that is tough and is a character I fell in love with. The series follows him as he climbs the ladder of success to detective and on into the political side of law enforcement. There's a new murder to solve in every book. Sandford's secondary characters are great. And Lucas has a love life that eventually has him settling down with an equally engaging character.

Amazon Buy Link
Fear Land by Rolynn Anderson
Ms. Anderson tackles a tough subject in this Romantic Suspense...emphasis on the suspense. PTSD in children is Tally Rosella's focus as an acclaimed psychiatrist. But someone doesn't want her to tie her findings about troubled children to PTSD. Tally meets Army Major Cole Messer who won't admit his Afghanistan experience and PTSD have disrupted his life. You'll enjoy the suspense and romance and get yourself educated about PTSD at the same time.

Amazon Buy Link
Undercover Nanny by Alison Henderson
This is the 3rd book in Ms. Henderson's Phoenix, Ltd. series about female bodyguards. You don't need to read them in order. I can't begin to give a quick summary of the plot of this Romantic Suspense. It involves kidnapping, extortion, antiquities smuggling, and arson. The inexperienced Casey isn't quite prepared for her body guard duties when it turns so suspenseful. She's not too prepared for handsome Alec either. And no one knows how to handle a pesky monkey. This is a fun read. Adding the monkey was a funny touch.

Monday, November 26, 2018

There is Rural, and then there's #RURAL by Julie Howard #murder


Please welcome my guest, Julie Howard who writes exciting stories set in rural areas.

I used to be a city person. We lived in an urban area of California, fought traffic every day in tiresome commutes, and considered the “country” anything more than a half hour away from a city. Imagine the tribulation of driving nearly an hour to find a Starbucks. Then I moved to Idaho.
There are communities in this northwest state tucked so far back in the mountains that you have to ask “why?”, followed by “how?” Many of these communities sprang up during the gold and silver rushes of a bygone century. Roads were built before asphalt and automobiles, and remain gravel and dirt. Now these places are havens for those who seek privacy and who don’t worry about modern conveniences such as an electric grid or cell phone coverage.
In California, my small hometown of 14,000 people was considered small and rural. I stand
corrected. Rural is Atlanta, Idaho, twenty miles or more down a rough dirt road and cut off from the rest of the world at least a few times a winter when the snows get deep. Rural is Yellow Pine, deep in the backwoods, home of the annual Harmonica Festival, and with a population of about 50. There are unnamed places dotted here and there where there’s no such thing as neighbors, near nor far. If you get out this far, top off the gas tank, bring your own generator, pack a lunch and check the spare tire.
These places are the inspiration for the setting of my Wild Crime series. I liked the idea that, if you get into trouble, you’re pretty much on your own. And if your spouse doesn’t like you much, you may never be seen again. The fictional Hay City, Idaho was born and my main character Meredith Lowe was in deep trouble before her husband decided they would move there.
The flip side of remote locations are the characters you can meet and the instant friendships that crop up. People are kind and generous, and children are safe to play in the front yard unattended. Life moves slower and time appears to stand still.
I’ve lived in Idaho for nearly twenty years now and am thankful to have made this my home. My husband and I have a great time traveling the back roads and marveling at the tiny towns we discover in remote locations.

Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime series. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild, editor of the Potato Soup Journal, and founder of the Boise chapter of Shut Up & Write. Learn more at 

Book one of the Wild Crime series is “Crime and Paradise”
Book two is “Crime Times Two,” released October 2018

“Crime Times Two” burb:
Meredith knows three things: First, the man in the library begged her to help him. Second, he was afraid of his wife. Third, now he’s dead.

While the evidence first points to a natural death, Meredith is certain there’s more to discover. People are tight-lipped in this small mountain village, and the man’s wife isn't talking either. Then a second death occurs, with remarkable similarities. It’s time to talk about murder. 

As a slow-burning relationship heats up in her own life, Meredith struggles with concepts of love and hate, belief and suspicion, and absolution and guilt. Nothing is clear cut…
She must decide: Is guilt, like evil, something you can choose to believe in?

Excerpt from “Crime Times Two”:

Jowls quivered under the man’s weak chin, and Meredith noted the stained and frayed shirt of someone who spent a lot of time alone in dark rooms, sending out a better version of himself into the virtual world. His eyes were anxious and beseeching at her as though she should have a clear understanding of him and his life.

Somehow, over the past hour and a half they’d been sitting next to each other – him playing video games and sharing his life story and her ignoring him the best she could – she had become his confessor and friend.

Meredith gave him what she hoped was an impartial-though-quasi-friendly smile. She reached for her purse and papers and rose from her chair. “Well. Nice talking with you.”

The man was lost in his own train of thought and seemed only slightly aware that Meredith was leaving.

He shook his head, morose.
“To make a long story short,” he summed up, “I think my wife is trying to kill me.”

Crime Times Two

Crime and Paradise

Connect with Julie here:

Friday, November 23, 2018

Shattered Fairy Tale and Happy Endings by Emma Leigh Reed #suicide #fairytale


Please welcome my guest, Emma Leigh Reed, today. This post will speak to you in the world we live in. Shattered dreams, so distraught suicide looks good, and finally the break through. Some fairy tales do come true. Thanks, Emma.

Fearless. It’s a word I would never use to describe myself. Going through struggles and obstacles in life, it is inevitable that something changes within. My life has not always been easy, nor happy. I have fought hard to get to a place of contentment where I am today. But to understand the realization of being fearless, one must understand the need for protection. We live in a world where girls at a very young age decide they want the fairy tale; a man to come into their lives and be there forever with them, no matter what...a source of strength to rely on and a partner through the good and bad times. When that dream of a fairy tale shatters, it leaves one fighting to protect themselves at all costs.

I wanted the fairy tale. The chance to love and be loved in return. It’s why we turn to romances, right? It’s why as an author we write the books that help keep these dreams in place for our readers. I’m not sure exactly when I lost sight of my dream. It could have been the night I took pill after pill, hoping to ease the pain and then waking up the next morning feeling the weight of failure. Or maybe it was going into a marriage hoping to find that love, but realizing I had entered hell instead when the abuse started. Amid these struggles, my heart died. It closed itself off to anything remotely personal. I started holding everyone at arm’s length, even friends. No one knew the personal pain I struggled with daily. I built walls around my heart and was bound and determined that no one would ever get close to me again. I swore I would never allow myself to feel the hope of what romance brings, the newness of meeting someone and feeling giddy when a text comes through, or when they make you laugh and smile more than you have done in years.

The problem with closing yourself off is you become hard and cynical. Jaded to the idea of romance and love. The thought of hope makes you shake your head in disbelief. You shut yourself away from the things you once loved -- like the magic of Christmas and the peace you once felt at the joy the season brought. For years, I have closed myself off and it became second nature. I didn’t even think of it. If I met a man, I would self-sabotage the relationship because I didn’t believe that it would last anyway. It becomes a very lonely place. Then one day, I found myself meeting someone new. A man that makes me laugh and smile. A man that believes in fairy tales and the hope they bring. A man that exudes caring. And slowly without even realizing it, I found myself wanting to open up to him, wanting to share in that hope he has. Fear. It can be paralyzing. I found myself struggling with what to say to him, but not wanting to be closed off for the first time in a long time.

When you take that deep breath and slowly exhale, allowing yourself to relax and face the fear, you can become fearless. In that moment of fearlessness, I found myself opening up and telling him about the suicide attempt, about the abusive marriage, why I’m so closed off and how hard I feel the need to protect myself. And as I sat there waiting, holding my breath, for his response -- holding fear at bay because I wanted this. For the first time in a long time, I wanted to be fearless and have hope.

As I look back though I find different times in my life that I was fearless. I have written books that have part of me in them, some of them having only small parts and my latest with the main character addressing the taboo subject of the suicide attempt. I have survived these obstacles and pivotal moments in my life. I have picked up my life and moved to a new state with only what fit in my car, with no job or place to live. These moments I have been fearless. In the moment, I felt I was doing just what I had to do to survive, but courage can hide behind our protective shield and we can call it anything but what it truly is -- fearlessness.

I’m so excited to introduce Isabelle in BREAKING THE RULES as she learns to confront her guilt and regret and become fearless. For sale now, click on Amazon.

Isabelle LaFayette tries to end her own life. Her failed attempt haunts her, along with her other past regrets and the inability to forgive herself, for what her mother calls a selfish act.

Jack Riley comes into Isabelle’s life and makes her feel alive, but believing she doesn’t deserve to be happy, she pushes him away. She must find the inner strength to confront the true source of her pain, or she’ll never be released from the bondage she’s encased herself in. 

Isabelle needs to give herself permission to heal and break the rules that have been imprisoning her. It is the only way for her to find ultimate freedom from the past and piece her heart back together again.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

WIP Update #RomanticSuspense #series

The plot thickens, as the cliché goes. Joshua, Arizona is buzzing with the news of a body found down in The Ravine. The bones are twenty-five to thirty years old. That could mean the unsolved murder from 1990 might be related to the unidentified body. Could it be the body of the teen who went missing? Or could the teen have been the murderer of both of them? Will Magpie’s father be a suspect in two murders? I’ve dipped into all of these questions.

As for the romance side of the book…

I hit the spot in my WIP (work in progress) when it seems apparent the two main characters are not going to be able to keep their hands off each other. Yes, the sex scene loomed. Every reader of romance expects it and probably anticipates the moment the hero and heroine jump into bed…or
wherever. But the sex scene can also add to the suspense of a Romantic Suspense. It’s not the dangerous kind of suspense, but there is still the page-turning moment. Will they, or won’t they?

“What do I do to you, Zack?” Magpie ventured her first real smile of the evening. With his fingertips sending a tickling sensation along her lower lip, she couldn’t help but enjoy the moment.
He slipped his hand along her jawline and under her hair to caress her neck, and the pleasant sensation his fingertips caused traveled south.
“You make me a little crazy.” His husky voice caressed her.
She leaned into him, set her hands on his thighs, and brushed her mouth across his lips. His vanilla coffee breath was sweet. His mouth warm and soft, yet firm.
He licked his lips, and his breath came in short puffs. “You make me a lot crazy, Magpie.” He blinked, his green eyes going dark emerald with emotion.
What was she doing? She’d met this man only yesterday. “This…us…it’s crazy all right.” Her body didn’t care. Her fingertips pressed into his jean clad legs.

Magpie and Zack got their moment…only they didn’t. The timing was just too early.

This is a partial scene from Chapter Nine. I’m now halfway through Chapter Eleven. Unfortunately, it’s not been a good month for writing. Lots of personal events, including the upcoming holidays, have created obstacles. I am, at least, just over the halfway mark of
completing the first draft. Once Thanksgiving is behind us, I’ll dig in.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Iceland for Christmas by Laura Strickland Genre Hop Part 5 #Holidays #Christmas


This is the last segment of Laura's posts about different genres. And I love this idea. I would love to adopt Iceland's tradition. Read on and enjoy. And if you've had a good time reading about the different genres Laura writes, please visit her web site to see how you can find all of her great books.

In Iceland, they have an amazing tradition. On Christmas Eve—an enchanted night by anyone’s standards—folks there present one another with gifts of books, following which they make some hot chocolate, snuggle up and spend the cold winter’s night reading. It’s called Jolabokaflod, or flood of books, and if there’s a better or cozier idea, I just can’t imagine it.

For me, the holidays are all about cozy. Whatever way you celebrate, whether it’s with candles, carols or family gatherings complete with comfort foods, there’s a feeling of warmth that starts at the heart and spreads outward. Good scents, great company and gratitude for shelter against the cold all combine to create deep contentment.

I don’t know about you, but I get that same feeling when I curl up with a good book. I think it’s one of life’s greatest pleasures. Whether I use an e-reader or choose the more tactile experience of a physical copy, the result’s the same. The world goes away, a new world blossoms in my mind’s eye, and bliss ensues.

That’s doubly true when the book is a holiday story. Magic is woven between those pages, complete with reindeer, Christmas cookies and snow—there has to be snow. Anything’s possible, mistletoe has the power to summon your true love, and wishes always come true.

I think that’s why we love to read holiday stories, and to write them. But why should Jolabokaflod be confined to only one night? There are so many great holiday books out there, and Christmas decorations are already in the stores. I say, gift yourself a book, grab your comforter and your favorite treat, and cuddle up. Let the flood begin!

What’s your favorite holiday story?

Blurb for Northern Magic:

When Santa asks his worker, Olja, to help make another elf’s Christmas wish come true, she believes the job calls for a love potion. Brewing it up will require her to travel all around the North Pole gathering unusual supplies, and to take a few dangerous risks. But she’s never failed Santa in the past and doesn’t intend to now. 

Elf Runi’s in the business of guiding Santa’s sleigh and making other people’s wishes come true. This year he’s dared make a wish of his own, one from the heart. When he meets Olja, he hopes he’s found his forever. But it will take assistance from a reindeer, a generous helping of love and a whole lot of magic to make his wish come true. That is, if Olja and Runi can just outwit the three troublesome trolls who decide they’d make a fine winter’s snack.

Buy links for Northern Magic:

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Wicked Sexy with Sadira Stone on #Wicked Wednesday #erotica


It's wicked sexy today. Please welcome my guest, Sadira Stone. Read on and enjoy. Then go to her web site and sign up for her newsletter. You'll receive a freeby!

Many thanks, Brenda, for this chance to meet your readers!

The word Wicked carries a whisper of “I really shouldn’t, but I’m gonna.” Go ahead, try it. Say, “Tonight, I’m going to be wicked.” Feel that satisfied smile tugging at your lips? I love that feeling.

My contemporary romance Through the Red Door was inspired by my love of indie bookshops, as well as my fascination with erotic artwork from long ago. After all, people who lived in Pompeii, ancient Egypt, pre-Colombian Mesoamerica, or Baroque-era Europe were as amorous as we are today, and they expressed their sensuality in erotic art, bawdy songs and stories.

Side note: In my previous career as a high school English teacher, I’d point out the dirty jokes in Romeo and Juliet. I didn’t explain them, of course. I just said, “That’s a bawdy line, y’all,” and giggled to myself as the students tried to figure it out. The Bard had a wicked sense of humor.

So, Clara’s indie bookshop is in trouble, faced with the overwhelming competition of a huge chain store. Her one advantage: an extensive collection of historical erotica curated by her late husband and kept behind a locked red door at the back of her shop. Since Jared’s death, Clara hasn’t had the heart to tend to her collection. Until Professor Nick Papadopoulos arrives in search of research materials for a project.

Here’s an excerpt:

Probably just one of those guys who flirt with everyone. Thinking of him that way made it easier to face the prospect of seeing him again when he came for the rest of the books on his list. She knew in her bones she was not ready for a— what, a fling? A flirtation? A hot tumble among the naughty books? Her body’s fevered response to Nick felt like a betrayal to Jared. But the thought of running her hands along Nick’s tawny skin warmed her in places that had been too cold for too long.

If spicy contemporary romance warms your cockles—and other parts—I hope you’ll enjoy Through the Red Door. If you’ll pop over to my website and sign up for my email newsletter, I’ll send you A Peek Behind the Red Door: Historical Erotica that Inspired the Book Nirvana Series.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Unexpected Cross-Pollination by Nancy Raven Smith #PreciousStones #Mystery


Please welcome my guest. I don't know about you, but the title drew me in. And it's all about how a book came about, which is always fun!

Hi, Brenda. Thank you so much for letting me visit and share how the setting for my current work-in-progress, Land Sharks - The Killer From Coober Pedy, came to be.

Most people are familiar with the phrase “cross pollination.” The obvious definition is of pollen from one type of flower being dusted onto a different one. Here, I’d like to use it as borrowing, using, and/or being inspired by a field of interest other than one’s own. This is a common occurrence for people in creative fields, and it happened to me recently from a source I didn’t expect.

My husband teaches metal fabrication and jewelry. I write mysteries. Recently, I attended a rock and mineral show with him. The fossils, rocks, and petrified wood were fascinating, but what I found most interesting were the discussions we had with several vendors from Australia who were selling opals.

Apparently, the majority of opals in the world come from two places in Australia. Lightning Ridge, which is to the northwest of Sydney, and Coober Pedy, which is located north of Adelaide in South Central Australia and part of the outback.

When I got home, I was so intrigued by Coober Pedy that I did some research and discovered some interesting facts. Here are some of them.

  • Opals were discovered in Coober Pedy in 1915 by a fifteen-year-old boy who was part of a small group of men searching for gold.
  • Top Opals are worth more per carat than diamonds.
  • Opals can often be located scattered on the surface of the ground, although most are found by digging vertical mine shafts.
  • The terrain around Coober Pedy is so barren, it’s often used in movies to represent landscapes on Mars.
  • Gold and oil have recently been discovered in Coober Pedy, making it a fortune hunter’s dream location.
  • People from over forty-five countries live in Coober Pedy.
  • The climate is so hot that many people live underground in caves and re-purposed mines to avoid the heat. 
Here’s my favorite fact - the name Coober Pedy is from an Aborigine word meaning “white man in a hole.” 

As a mystery writer, I’m interested in frauds, cons, and scams. If I can write a mystery which includes a fraud in an exotic location, along with some romance and humor, I’m happy. So I owe my husband a big thank you taking me to an afternoon rock and mineral show and introducing me to the unusual town of Coober Pedy. It became the setting for my current work-in-progress, Land Sharks - The Killer From Coober Pedy. Book two in my Land Sharks series.


When an embezzler is murdered, Beverly Hills bank fraud investigator, Lexi Winslow, tracks the stolen money to a town in the Australian outback. Unfortunately, she’s persona non grata in that country. She needs to get in, recover the money, and get out before the Australian police discover her presence. But will the unexpected appearance of an ex-lover make her linger too long? 

Excerpt from Land Sharks - The Killer From Coober Pedy
Lexi Winslow, a bank fraud investigator from Beverly Hills, and her young partner, Steve, approach the house of a suspected embezzler.
            Steve and I pass through a low hedge to reach Willis’ front door. As we do, I notice a curtain twitch at the house next door exposing a middle-aged woman peeking out at us. Nosy neighbors are probably the second best security you can have. Dogs are the first, of course. And I can hear one inside Willis’ house barking up a storm. It sounds like a smallish dog from the timber of its voice.
            Steve rings the doorbell and the dog inside turns frantic. There’s a narrow, heavily tinted bronze glass panel beside the door. In the dark interior, I can barely make out what appears to be a mixed-breed Westie. I think mixed-breed because it has spots all over it and West Highland Terriers are normally solid white. This one scratches wildly at the door. But no one responds to the bell. Steve rings again with the same result.
            “There’s someone home at the place next door. See if they know anything,” I say. “I’m going to walk around back.”
            Steve heads to the neighbor’s, and I let myself through the side gate into the fenced back yard. There are tall hedges down both sides and a low fence at the far end of the mowed yard. Beyond the fence is a dirt lane that parallels the street in front. I step carefully along the flagstone path in an effort to keep my favorite heels from being ruined by sinking into the soft dirt. Reaching the back door, I peer inside.
            The Westie unexpectedly leaps up on the other side of the glass, startling me. I hastily back a step. And then I look again at the dog through the clear, sunlit window.
            I draw my gun. Those aren’t spots on the dog’s coat, it’s blood. 
Land Sharks - The Killer From Coober Pedy (Book 2) - available Spring 2019 on Amazon. 
Land Sharks - A Swindle in Sumatra (Book 1) - Free on KU and available now on Amazon at

Find Nancy here: 

Another Nancy Raven Smith book:

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Fall in #Rural #Arizona

What a great time I had a couple of weeks ago in Chino Valley, Arizona. The Chamber of Commerce sponsored the 50th anniversary of Yavapai College with a day long event. This is rural Arizona so there were hayrides, a truck and tractor show, pumpkin patch, corn maze, beer garden, food, dog costume contest, and vendors. I was part of that last group.

A fellow author, John J. Rust, joined me in offering our books. I signed and sold a bunch. This event was held far from town, and I
was doubtful about the attendance, but I was wrong. Lots of people and lots of readers. It was a great time.

This month is NaNoWriMo. Translation: National November Writing Month. An author can get into this seriously, or not so much like I do. If you take part in the national group, you have check in and set goals. I belong to a group called Pretendo NaNo. We set our own goals, cheer each other on, and don't judge when we fall short. I've been doing okay. The first book in my new series is taking shape. Helping our son move cut into my writing time, but family always comes first.

Another day down the drain as far as writing was yesterday. I had oral surgery. I'm having the tooth I knocked out in June replaced with a permanent one. Yesterday, they inserted the screw that the permanent tooth will be attached to. Nothing like having your head drilled. No fun. Still recovering this morning.

I'm enjoying the cooler, darker mornings here in Arizona. This is my favorite season. What's yours?

Thursday, November 1, 2018

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE MEANS EASY SHOPPING #holidaygiftguide #holidayshopping #Christmasgifts #books

Have you started your holiday shopping yet? I’ve teamed up with over forty-five award-winning/bestselling authors to bring you the ultimate holiday gift guide for any Book Lover. 

Books make the best gifts and N. N. Light’s Book Heaven has got you covered with their Holiday Gift GuideThe best part: it’s an online store. Scroll away and do all your holiday shopping in one place. Over 130 books to choose from, many of them from award-winning and bestselling authors. Head on over and check out the selection. 

You may even find a book or two to treat yourself to. This shopping is hard work. . . you deserve it. For the Holiday Gift Guide, click HERE.