Thursday, March 26, 2020

Reading and #Reviews (Eaton, Kidd, Gallant)

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

I tend to read what I write, but not exclusively. Tomorrow I’ll start a novelette, Precarious: Martini Club 4~The 1940s. Besides Romantic Suspense, I read crime and law novels, WWII historicals, mysteries, and some main stream character driven novels.

Here are some of the books I've read recently or in the not too distant past. Maybe you'll discover a new book or author!

A Riesling to Die (The Wine Trail Mysteries, book one) by J. C. Eaton
Cozy Mystery
Norrie Ellington is a successful screenwriter living in New York City. She’s also been a silent partner for her family’s winery upstate—until her sister and brother-in-law take a year-long sabbatical. There’s a local sour grape by the name of Elsbeth whose body is found on Norrie’s property. Norrie dons a sleuthing cap to uncover the identity of a killer who told the B&B proprietress to put a cork in it—permanently . . .

I had fun reading this book. Loved the winery setting. J. C. Eaton gives just enough technical information to put you there and enough lovely scene setting to make you want to stay. The mystery plot is twisted with lots of good characters to follow. I’ll look forward to more in this series.

The Secret Lives of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Mainstream Fiction
Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina--a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna.

“This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.” I have to agree with this statement. I thoroughly enjoyed the book for the story, the characters, the depiction of life in the south in the 1960s, and setting.

Imminent Danger (A Counterstrike Novel book 3) by Jannine Gallant
Romantic Suspense
Brody Grant had it all—wealth, the woman of his dreams, and a young son he loved more than life. But his world came crashing down the day River was kidnapped and murdered. Torn apart by grief, he creates Counterstrike, a covert team of highly trained operatives whose sole mission is to rescue kidnap victims. After losing her only child, Arden Grant tried to pick up the pieces and go on. But her husband is distant, immersed in his perilous quest to save others. Leaving Brody to live in the backwoods of Vermont, she searches for solace in simplicity.

I’ve read the two Counterstrike novels that came before this one, and I have enjoyed all of them. Ms. Gallant did a fine job of depicting what losing a child can do to a couple. I loved the setting Arden chooses after leaving Brody. I wanted to stay in her cabin and drink tea with her. Brody is just macho enough and just tender enough to make a great hero. The suspense half of the book is intense and exciting. The author is talented at weaving romance with suspense.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Picking Apart Your Favorite Scene by Karen Hulene Bartell #writing #romance


Writing one of those favorite scenes, or lots of favorite scenes, is exactly what authors strive to do. Welcome my guest, Karen Hulene Bartell as she muses on what makes a scene so memorable.

Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog. It’s a pleasure to be here!

We all have favorite scenes—but why? What about it attracts you? Does the rhythm of the words or the conversational lilt appeal to you? Does the imagery evoke memories or unexpressed emotions? Does the scene’s action grab your senses or transport you to another time or place?

Following is one of my favorite scenes from Wild Rose Pass, and in this blog, I’ll try to figure out why, so in the future, I and, hopefully, you can write other “favorite” scenes.

Cadence’s fingertips grazed Ben’s thigh, and she caught her breath.
He bristled as his gaze locked with hers. Then he inched closer, leaning into her space.
As if magnetized, she inclined her body toward his. How will his lips feel on mine? Eager to learn, she closed her eyes, parted her lips, and waited…
Moments passed.
“We’d better head back.”
His words sounded gruff and strangled. Opening her eyes wide, she stared horror-struck. Did I just make a fool of myself? Huffing, she jerked the reins. “Fine,” she called over her shoulder as she wheeled around her horse…

It’s almost a first kiss scene—yet not. Interest ignites. Sexual tension builds, piques, and vanishes. The frisson turns to friction, with humiliation and anger closely following.

Have you ever had your anticipations crushed? Let’s say I can relate, which makes the scene more poignant. In fewer than a hundred words, the heroine sizzles through a range of emotions, from initial attraction to expectant arousal, to disappointment, then mortification, and finally hell-hath-no-fury rage.

As the reader, I’m involved and absolutely on Cadence’s side!

Then in the next chapter, I read Ben’s side of the vignette’s tiff:

What was I thinking? Bad enough she’s the captain’s daughter—cultured and educated out East—but she’s West’s woman, and he outranks me.

Being outranked in the cavalry, Ben must be realistic, but feeling outclassed, he understandably displays prudence.

As the reader, I empathize with him, which creates a moral dilemma. Who do I root for—Ben or Cadence?

So why is the pseudo seduction scene my favorite? Partly because it’s pivotal in changing the protagonists’ relationship and heightening the story’s subsequent tension. Partly because it’s the moment when one protagonist’s reasoning counteracts the other’s and places me in a “what happens next” frame of mind. Who do I root for—Cadence or Ben?

So the next time you find a scene intriguing and pause to reread it, analyze why it appeals before you read on. You may just discover the trick to writing more emotionally engaging scenes.

Wild Rose Pass by Karen Hulene Bartell

Cadence McShane, free-spirited nonconformist, yearns to escape the rigid code, clothes, and sidesaddles of 1880s military society in Fort Davis, Texas. She finds the daring new lieutenant exhilarating, but as the daughter of the commanding officer, she is expected to keep with family tradition and marry West Point graduate James West.

Orphaned, Comanche-raised, and always the outsider looking in, Ben Williams yearns to belong. Cadence embodies everything he craves, but as a battlefield-commissioned officer with the Buffalo Soldiers instead of a West Point graduate, he is neither accepted into military society nor considered marriageable.

Can two people of different worlds, drawn together by conflicting needs, flout society and forge a life together on the frontier?

Reining his horse between catclaw and prickly-pear cactus, Ben Williams squinted at the late summer sun’s low angle. Though still midafternoon, shadows lengthened in the mountains. He clicked his tongue, urging his mare up the incline. “Show a little enthusiasm, Althea. If we’re not in Fort Davis by sunset, we’ll be bedding down with scorpions and rattlesnakes.”

As his detachment’s horses clambered up Wild Rose Pass, the only gap through west Texas’ rugged Davis Mountains, Ben kept alert for loose rocks or hidden roots, anything that might trip his mount. A thick layer of fallen leaves created a pastiche of color shrouding the trail from view. He glanced up at the lithe cottonwood trees lining the route, their limbs dancing in the breeze. More amber and persimmon leaves loosened, fell, and settled near the Indian pictographs on their tree trunks. When he saw the red- and yellow-ochre drawings, he smiled, recalling the canyon’s name—Painted Comanche Camp.

“How far to Fort Davis, lieutenant?” called McCurry, one of his recruits.

“Three hours.” If we keep a steady pace.

Without warning, the soldier’s horse whinnied. Spooking, it reared on its hind legs, threw its rider, and galloped off.

As he sat up, the man groaned, caught his breath, and stared into the eyes of a coiled rattler, poised to strike. “What the…?”

Flicking its tongue, hissing, tail rattling, the pit viper was inches from the man’s face.

A sheen of sweat appeared above the man’s lip. “Lieutenant—”

Buy Links:

Amazon Paperback:
Barnes & Noble NOOK Book:
Barnes & Noble Paperback:

About the Author:
Author of the Trans-Pecos, Sacred Emblem, Sacred Journey, and Sacred Messenger series, Karen is a best-selling author, motivational keynote speaker, wife, and all-around pilgrim of life. She writes multicultural, offbeat love stories that lift the spirit. Born to rolling-stone parents who moved annually, Bartell found her earliest playmates as fictional friends in books. Paperbacks became her portable pals. Ghost stories kept her up at night—reading feverishly. The paranormal was her passion. Westerns spurred her to write (pun intended). Wanderlust inherent, Karen enjoyed traveling, although loathed changing schools. Novels offered an imaginative escape. An only child, she began writing her first novel at the age of nine, learning the joy of creating her own happy endings. Professor emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin, Karen resides in the Hill Country with her husband Peter and her “mews”—three rescued cats and a rescued *Cat*ahoula Leopard dog.

Connect with Karen:

Friday, March 20, 2020

Writer to Author: Fearless Journey by Dee S. Knight #FearlessFriday


I love author stories and how they got to where they are. Let's listen to one of my favorite guests, Dee S. Knight.

Fearlessly going where no man has ever gone before…

That's how it felt the first time I submitted something I had created—fresh, from my own little pea-brain—to a publisher for the first time. I imagine I'm not alone in that. To submit your work to a publisher—or anyone—for a critical review is one of the scariest things a person can do. Yet, being fearless is a requisite for being an author.

In the dictionary, the definitions for author and writer are pretty similar. But I want to separate them. I want to say that "writer" is someone who puts something to paper (or disc or the cloud). It can be a book, a short story, a white paper, anything, really. A writer's intention might be just to amuse himself/herself, and perhaps never show their work to another person. An "author" is someone who creates a product using the written word for others to read.

I have a friend who wrote the opening chapters of a book and asked me to read it for feedback. Like an idiot, I said okay. Reading another person's work—a friend's work—can be a touchy thing. You want to be honest and yet not risk the friendship. So I tried to be diplomatic when I told my friend that something she had included in her writing might keep her from being published. "Oh, I don't care about that," she said. "I write for myself. I don't intend to send this to a publisher." Okay, I thought. But then, why ask me to read it? In my heart of hearts, I thought my friend was fearful. I think she wanted affirmation that her book could be published, but she was afraid of sending it off and finding out that it couldn't. And maybe it would have been published. She'll never know because she wasn't fearless enough to send it off.

Haven't we all had that fear? Haven't we all had rejections and had to pull ourselves together and try again? Authors are often thought to be introverts and solitary people. It's true to a point. But we can't be mice, cringing in the corner when it comes to our work. For that, we engage with the outside world or we would never be read. And creating, honing our craft, publishing, and being read is what all the effort is about. For that we must be fearless.

When asked for advice to give new writers, I usually say to write, write, write. But I should add to that, to be fearless enough to send your finished, polished work to an agent, editor, or publisher. Without that final step, using my definitions, you might be a writer, but you won't be an author.

Be fearless!

Burning Bridges is a book I’ve been fearless about three times! Right after I wrote the book, I sent it to publishers and agents. There were no bites (though there were nibbles), so I sent it to a well-known online publisher. I received the rights back last year and have now published it myself.

Sara Richards’s world is rocked when three love letters from 1970 are delivered decades late. The letters were written by Paul Steinert, a young sailor who took her innocence with whispered words of love and promises of forever before leaving for Vietnam. Sara is left behind, broken hearted and secretly pregnant, yearning for letters she never received.

Then Paul died.

Now, years later, she discovers the betrayal wasn’t Paul’s, when her mother confesses to a sin that changed their lives forever. How can Sara reveal to Paul’s parents that they have a granddaughter they’ve missed the chance to know? Even worse, how will she find the words to tell her daughter that she’s lived her life in the shadow of a lie?

Picking her way through the minefields of secrets, distrust, and betrayal, Sara finds that putting her life together again while crossing burning bridges will be the hardest thing she’s ever done.

About Dee S. Knight

After a while, Dee split her personality into thirds. She writes as Anne Krist for sweeter romances, and Jenna Stewart for ménage and shifter stories. All three of her personas are found on the Nomad Authors website ( Fortunately, Dee’s high school sweetheart is the love of her life and husband to all three ladies! Once a month, look for Dee’s Charity Sunday blog posts, where your comment can support a selected charity.

Author links:

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The Monsters Are Real by Augustina Van Hoven #fantasy #paranormal


Join me in welcoming Augustina Van Hoven to Wicked Wednesday. The idea that there is truth in fiction, in our myths, gives me the chills. Read on!

Have you ever wondered why all cultures on earth have the same myths and legends?  Men who can turn into animals, men who drink the blood of others, elves, fairies, magic? That was the question I asked myself when I started my new book, The Hidden. Since all cultures have stories about these creatures there has to be some basis.  I went on the assumption that there are so many stories because these creatures are real. That brought up the next question, what are their intentions?
So many stories have at their base, the concept of good versus evil.  In my story there is a villain.  Even though he is introduced, it’s his minions who put my hero, the vampire Valerian DuCharme, and heroine, Lily Montgomery, in danger.

Karl glanced over at Lily. “Are you sure you know how to shoot that thing?” he asked.
Lily tried to hold the rifle steady. Between the snow, the wind, and the cold, she had trouble keeping the wolf she was targeting in her sights. “Yes, I can shoot. My father used to take me duck hunting when I was a teenager.”
“Did you ever hit anything?” Karl kept his eyes on his target, the other wolf.
“I have a trophy on my mantelpiece that says I did.”
The wolf was using the large rock in front of it as a shield. But it didn’t quite fit. At times, parts of its tail, legs, and sometimes even its head showed. With the rifle and scope, she knew she could hit the animal if it came for her.
A piercing howl sounded in the wind.
“I see only two wolves. Where’s the third?” Karl shifted his aim.
“I don’t know; I’m still aiming at the same one.”
A yelp sounded from behind them, and the missing wolf ran past them. The piercing howl sounded again, only closer this time. A moment later, a fourth wolf came into view.
“Oh, crap.” Karl moved to target the new wolf.
Lily nearly jumped out of her skin when Valerian’s voice sounded behind her.
“Need a hand?”
“What are you doing up?” Karl asked. He tried to hide it, but his relief sounded in his words.
“I got bored.” Valerian scanned the four wolves. “Didn’t I teach you not to play with strange animals?”
“Yeah, well, nobody told them.” Karl shifted his position again. “There are more weapons in my duffel bag, if you want to make yourself useful.”
Valerian smiled. Karl had a good mix of courage and gall; he’d chosen his assistant well.

The Hidden, releases on March 24th

The monsters are real

For most of her life, Lily Montgomery had thought the creatures that inhabited her dreams lived on only in the pages of the horror novels she wrote. Until she was kidnapped by a vampire and forced to go on the run from werewolves and other shapeshifters. And from her emotions. For, against all reason, her heart was also at risk of being captured by the vampire.

Valerian DuCharme had been turned into a vampire against his will. But in the turning, he did not lose his charisma or his caring. Now the enforcer for one of the princely houses of the Community, he tried to ensure the safety of anyone who came within range. And of many who didn’t. But it was all reflex, until he met Lily. And emotions he hadn’t felt for hundreds of years surfaced.



Barnes & Noble: CLICK HERE


Augustina Van Hoven was born in The Netherlands and currently resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, dog and two cats.   She is an avid reader of romance, science fiction and fantasy.  When she’s not writing she likes to work in her garden or in the winter months crochet and knit on her knitting machines. 

Monday, March 16, 2020

Pot of Gold #Giveaway #StPatrick'sDay


Post-War Dreams is on sale for $.99 for the first time ever on KINDLE, NOOK, AND iBOOKS. This book will transport you back to those romantic 1940s.

World War II has ended and the soldiers are coming home. After years of following her crop worker father, motherless Claire Flanagan is also coming home. If she can keep her father in one place long enough, she plans to follow her dreams to Hollywood. Until she meets Benjamin.
Benjamin Russell has been working since he was fifteen to support his mother and siblings. What he most wants in life is to own a construction business and take care of the family his father abandoned. The last thing he expects is to fall for his younger sister’s best friend.

Life, however, throws cruel twists and turns into the path of romance. And when an unrequited love seeks revenge against Claire, and Benjamin learns his ex-girlfriend is pregnant, will lost dreams of a future together be the only thing they have left?


AND it's also being featured on NN Light's Celebrate Ireland promo where you could win 17 books. You have to check it out! You could WIN 17 books!

Here's the link to discover great books and enter to win: POT OF GOLD EVENT

Friday, March 13, 2020

We're Lucky 13 What's Your Number?

Do you have a lucky number? Does Friday the 13th freak you out?

FDW and I have long considered 13 our lucky number. Here's why.

Many years ago, we made the decision to leave Phoenix for Minnesota. When FDW flew to Minneapolis for his job interview, he sat in row 13 on the flight there. When he checked into the hotel room the company secured for him, his room number was 13.

FDW aced the interview and left ahead of me to begin his new job. I had to sell the house and take care of all those things that accumulate after years in one place. The company that hired him arranged a place to live. He moved to a high rise apartment for six months in downtown Minneapolis. You might guess what his apartment number was...1313. And I know
this is pushing it, but he started to work on the 13th.

We've never had such a run since, but that year set us up for eighteen wonderful years in Minnesota. We loved Minnesota and considered 13 an omen of good luck from there forward.

If you have a lucky number story, I'd love to hear it.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Tips, Myths, and #ThursdayThoughts #50years

I ran into a fun article for the over fifty crowd. And even if you aren’t over fifty, you might be awed by how long these things have been around. My guess is you’re still using, eating, or wearing stuff that’s been hanging around for 50+ years.

Birkenstocks came around in 1964 as the rage—ugly but comfortable. 25 million of them are still sold every year

The Bikini first made the scene in 1946. In 1960, the tiny suit was immortalized in the rock and roll song “Itsy Bity, Teeny Weeny, Yellow Polka dot Bikini.”

M&Ms were first crunched in 1941, and they are still the most popular candy today.

Miniskirts came on the scene in the early 1960s. You can still catch that much leg on women today. The stock market is said to rise when hemlines do.

In 1965, Gatorade led the way to the sports-drink boom.

James Bond hit the silver screen in 1962. Who’s your favorite?

To Kill a Mockingbird published in 1960. A million copies a year are still sold.

The orange snack, Cheeto, came out in 1948, a World War II invention. Who can eat just one?

In 1964, Pop-Tarts hit the grocery shelves. They were named after Andy Warhol’s pop art movement.

Remember the sexual revolution? We can thank the Pill, making its debut in 1960.

There’s more! I’ll share next month.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Wicked Good #Sale for #WickedWednesday

I have wicked good news for you. The fourth book in the Love and Murder Series is on sale for a short time. $1.99 for your Kindle, Nook, or iBook. You really can't beat it. If you haven't read ANY of the Love and Murder Series books, then start with the last one, and you'll want to drop back and read all of them.

The fire filled my nostrils with smoke, I could feel the stalker and others just watching and waiting. I had goosebumps. Whether you like mysteries or romance you will enjoy this series. 

Yeah! What she said.

After an abusive childhood and bad marriage, Laura Katz has finally found a home, stability…and possibly love. But her blissful refuge as nanny on the Meadowlark Ranch, miles from Flagstaff, shatters when her ex is released from prison, determined to reclaim her.

Randy Silva, the Argentine foreman, has plans for his own ranch, but a nasty land grab is underway. While the battle escalates, Laura steals his heart, but there are outsiders who stand in their way. He’s in a fight for his land, and the woman he wants by his side.

Stakes are high, as the attacks on Randy and his ranch draw blood. While the vengeful ex-husband stalks Laura, a mob-backed land developer teams with a desperate gambler. Randy can’t be sure where the next attack will come from—or who will be caught in the crossfire.

So get yourself some entertainment for the weekend coming up. Grab it while it's cheap!



Wednesday, March 4, 2020

#WickedWednesday with Lyncee Shillard #recipe #chocolate


I'm delighted to have Lyncee as my guest blogger today. And YOU will be delighted with her post and a yummy, wickedly good recipe!

Hey Hey everyone! I’m so excited to be here and share some wickedness with you. When I’m not plotting/writing murder, mayhem, and steamy sex I love to spend time in the kitchen. I enjoy cooking and I’m always looking for ways to include a ‘little’ something that makes my recipe a little wicked. Actually, my current WIP is a romance suspense called What’s In The Pie? It deals with all kinds of deadly and wicked food things. But for today’s wickedness…

This cake is standard St. Patrick’s Day thing in our house be we also enjoy it at Thanksgiving, and several other times during the year. My family would eat it all the time but it is time consuming, so I limit them to a couple times a year. I mean all wickedness should be controlled.

Irish Cream Chocolate Torte
What you need…
For the cake…
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
¼ cup Irish cream
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup butter softened
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the filling…
2 cups whipping cream
2 teaspoons Irish Cream
2 tablespoons sugar

For the glaze…
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
¼ cup Irish Cream

What you do…
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans. Set aside.
Combine all cake ingredients in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until smooth.
Pour batter evenly into pans. Bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans. Cool completely.
Combine whipping cream and Irish Cream (okay transparent time – I’ve been known to buy cool whip and stir in the Irish Cream – actually most of the time - shhhhh it’s a wicked secret 😉). Beat at high speed, scraping bowl often, until soft peaks form. Continue beating, gradually adding 2 tablespoons sugar, until stiff peaks form. 
Cut each cake layer horizontally in half using serrated knife (there are a lot of youtube videos on how to do this with toothpicks to make the layers even – how complex this becomes is really determined by your level of OCD)  Place split cake layer onto serving plate; spread with 1/3 of whip cream filling. Repeat with remaining cake layers and filling, ending with cake layer. Refrigerate torte at least 1 hour.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in 1-quart saucepan; stir in chocolate chips and corn syrup. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, 2-3 minutes or until chocolate chips are melted. Remove from heat; stir in Irish Cream. Spread glaze over top of torte, allowing glaze to drizzle down sides. Refrigerate until serving time. Actually, the longer you let it chill the better it is. This is often considered torture my kiddos.


When I’m not hanging out with the 8-year-old, I’m writing or working on my side hustle – Writing with Crayons – it’s journaling (I do workshops and stuff).  For the 5 minutes of ‘me’ time I get a week 😉 I spend it reading, crocheting, or making self-care products.

I’m a planner babe and vodka wizard. I also enjoy taking pictures, I'm not claiming to have a talent it's just something I like to do.

If you would like to come and hang out with me…we will talk doughnuts, vodka, and planners…

My current release it Taking A Risk…

It was Monday. She should be home cleaning her refrigerator. And enjoying red peanut M&M’s. Not dying with strangers...

Available at:

Thanks for having me and letting me share my wickedness!