Thursday, June 25, 2020

Getting Hooked on the Book #reading #ThursdayThoughts

The first few lines of a novel are the most important in the book. For a reader that isn't necessarily the case. It's highly unlikely you would throw away a book you'd paid for or delete it from your eReader if the first paragraph doesn't totally knock your socks off.

But for an author, the first sentence or two can make or break your book. I might be overstating this slightly, but if an author can't rope in an acquisition editor that quickly, her book may never make it to print. Editors are busy people with hundreds of manuscripts to read. They need to be quickly convinced their time won’t be wasted by investing an hour in reading further.

As an experiment, I pulled some of my favorite books to see how they begin. I tested the rule to see how impressive these published, successful authors did with their first couple of lines.

Diana Gabaldon, Outlander
"It wasn't a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance."

Maeve Binchy, Circle of Friends
"The kitchen was full of the smells of baking. Benny put down her school bag and went on a tour of inspection."

Robert James Waller, The Bridges of Madison County
"On the morning of August 8, 1965, Robert Kincaid locked the door to his small two-room apartment on the third floor of a rambling house in Bellingham, Washington."

Nora Roberts, Angels Fall
"Reece Gilmore smoked through the tough knuckles of Angel's Fist in an overheating Chevy Cavalier."

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
"When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem's fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury."

Hmmm...A couple might pass the test, but all in all, it’s going to take at least the first page to hook me. More than likely an editor will give you that much - that is if the synopsis doesn't kill your chances. A couple of these do rope me in after the first page, but a couple of others took even more reading to make me want to turn the next page.

In the end, I'll keep doing as they say and not as they do. Trying to hook a reader on the first page is a good model to follow.

I'll end with the first lines of a few of my stories.
"I woke before Wesley that morning, the first morning waking up next to him. I silently yawned, stretching my feet against the cowboy sheets tucked tight at the foot of his bed."

"The throb behind Abigail’s eyes scraped at her temples like chiseled fingernails. She squeezed her lids tight. Was the sheet twisted around her?"
"The cheap chenille could have been angel hair as I smoothed the spread over the bed, my mood sunnier than the faded yellow walls of the room. For most of my life, I'd never had my own room."

"Phoebe awakened sudden and breathless. Not slow like when the sheet tangled around her legs or when she needed a trip to the toilet in the gray fog of near-sleep. What noise had she heard that now wasn’t there?"
"Lacy quickened her pace. The footsteps behind her did the same. As fast as her feet touched the bricks, her heart beat twice that speed. If only she could clear the narrow alley, step onto the lit sidewalk…" 

When I separate them away from the rest of the text, it's easy to see which have "oomph" and which do not.

Do you have any great first lines that hooked you on a book?

Monday, June 22, 2020

What's In An Occupation? by Lexi Post #Cowboy #Alien


I'm so pleased to welcome back Lexi Post. She always has a fun post. 

As an author, I always put a lot of thought into the naming of my characters, whether they are cowboys (Cole) or aliens (Davos). Sometimes the names come to me before their story. Sometimes they don’t tell me their names until I’m in the middle of writing the story, but the name always ends up fitting the character perfectly…at least in my mind. But what about their occupations?

Some are a given, cowboy, rancher, firefighter, Coast Guard rescue swimmer, but others are more difficult. And what about the women that love them flaws and all? Should they have a brainer career? A military career? A sexy career? Should they have a college education, master’s degree, or simply high school, if that? The only time the occupation is absolutely easy is when it influences the plot; otherwise, it really is about the character’s personality. In my new Last Chance Ranch boxed set, I have a cowboy/firefighter and a bookkeeper for a nudist resort, a cowboy/rancher and an off-the-grid animal whisperer, and a firefighter/cowboy and an animal rescuer. So where do you stand on character occupations and education? Any preferences?
Always, Lexi

Welcome to Last Chance Ranch, created for rescued horses, home of rescued hearts.
Cole Hatcher, the cowboy firefighter who has already had a second chance with Lacey, has once again let his mother come between them. It’s not until Lacey spends Christmas with Angel that Cole realizes it’s his last chance at forever with the woman he loves.

Soon to be divorced Trace Williams doesn’t usually find himself attracted to women who point a shotgun at him, but when he meets Whisper Adams, the squatter who has no social skills but a unique ability to communicate with animals, he’s intrigued. Unfortunately, there’s a reason she’s living off the grid, and she soon becomes Trace’s Trouble. With his heart in tatters once again, he has to decide if he’s going take one last chance on love.

Firefighter Bo Fletcher knows better than to get involved with a woman he rescued from a burning building. Unfortunately, when animal rescuer Dana Wilson shows up at the fire station to give him a piece of her mind, sparks fly that he can’t put out, and she is soon dubbed Fletcher’s Flame. Now as fires seem to follow in her footsteps, he’s got one last chance to gain her trust or lose her forever.

Lexi Post is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of romance inspired by the classics. She spent years in higher education taking and teaching courses about the classical literature she loved. From Edgar Allan Poe's short story “The Masque of the Red Death” to Tolstoy’s War and Peace, she's read, studied, and taught wonderful classics.

But Lexi's first love is romance novels so she married her two first loves, romance and the classics. From hot paranormals to sizzling cowboys to hunks from out of this world, Lexi provides a sensuous experience with a “whole lotta story.”

Lexi is living her own happily ever after with her husband and her cat in Florida. She makes her own ice cream every weekend, loves bright colors, and you will never see her without a hat.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Running From Fire #Bushfire AZ #ThursdayThoughts

June 15 from the Roosevelt Marina
If you follow me on Facebook, you know FDW and I had to evacuate on Monday, June 15. The Bush Fire in Arizona was eating up the desert faster than man could control. We hooked up the fifth wheel, packed in as much as we could, and headed south.

We thought we would park by Roosevelt Lake for the day and see if the "Go" order would be short-lived. It didn't take long to see that wasn't going to be the case. And spending the night without electricity when the temp hit 101 didn't look like an option. We moved farther south to a Globe.

And here we have stayed. We are hunkered down in a treeless, along the highway, RV park. Not a destination I would recommend. But we are safe. We are living day to day, hoping each morning the news will be good. The fire is only 5% contained.

June 15 looking back from where we came

We live in a tree covered area with Tonto Creek running along the back of the ranch. The Lazy JR Ranch was converted to an RV park many years ago. Today, they are back burning across the road from the entrance. The firefighters are doing a wonderful job, working through the nights, and so far have protected all structures. Add to that how the community has pulled together to help each other.
June 16

I'm sharing some photos,
some we took, others that have appeared on line from members of our community.

Big thank you to the efforts of our tireless firefighters.

June 16

June 16

June 16

June 17 fire threatens behind our local store

June 18 Back Burn by Roosevelt Dam

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

A Wicked Character for #WickedWednesday by Karen Hulene Bartell


Wicked characters we love to hate make a book so enjoyable to read. Karen Hulene Bartell has a good one for us.

Thanks for hosting me on your Wicked Wednesdays blog, Brenda!

Judging from reviews of Wild Rose Pass, First Lieutenant James West is the readers’ favorite character to hate. He’s a West Point graduate and “an accomplished officer,” according to Cadence’s father, the captain of the 1880 West Texas fort.

But the problem, according to Cadence, is James is more interested in becoming her father’s son-in-law than her husband. She searches for affection but sees only affectation. Though she finds his attention flattering, she wonders…Does he really care for me, or is he just bucking for a promotion as my father’s son-in-law?

Excerpt I ~ The Proposal:

Abruptly, the music stopped, and mid-spin, she came to a teetering halt. The momentum swayed her skirt, but she paid no attention. Still enveloped in Ben’s arms and gaze, she stared back, wrapped in his spell.

“Ladies and gentlemen, my apologies for interrupting this waltz, but may I have your attention? I have an important announcement.”

James’ voice stole into her private world. The sound was faint, like a fly buzzing at the window. Forcing herself to break Ben’s gaze, she watched as James unabashedly strutted across the band’s raised platform toward her father.

Amid hoots and giggles from the dancefloor, Captain McShane put up his hands.

A hush fell over the crowd. Their faces expectant, the group seemed to hold its collective breath.

“Cadence, dear, everyone at the fort expects us to marry, and we mustn’t let them down.” Addressing her from the raised platform, James chuckled as he glanced at the crowd. “When do you want to set the date?”

While the assembly listened for her answer, a deeper stillness descended on the dance floor.

Someone coughed.

The nerve. Her jaw and neck stiff with suppressed rage, she turned toward Ben, embarrassed almost as much for him as for herself. Then she shifted her gaze to James, her father, her mother, the grinning faces in the crowd, and back to James. He didn’t propose marriage. He issued an order and expects me to obey. Her eyes narrowed as she regarded the room’s beaming faces. Military tradition is the reason behind his arrogance. Everyone expects me to accept the dashing West Point officer’s proposal.

Excerpt II ~ The Ultimatum:

Wearing an unperturbed smile as he approached, he appeared to hold no grudge.

“You seem in good spirits today…” She studied his face for clues.

“Why not? This is a new morning, and I’m in the company of a beautiful woman. What more could I ask?”

His eyes glittering like rhinestones, he curled his lips into a smile.

“I thought”—skeptical, she tilted her head to inspect him—“after last night—”

“Oh, that.” He shrugged off the previous evening’s turn of events. “It’s a perfect day for a stroll. Walk with me.”

His eyes surly, he gave her a winning smile.

Something isn’t right. Squinting as she guessed at his intentions, she wavered. “Maybe a short stroll—”

“That’s my girl.” Instead of crooking his arm for her, he put his hand at the base of her skull and steered her.

The gesture made her uncomfortable. Why? Feeling like a ventriloquist’s dummy, she shrugged off his hand.

He strode quickly, like a man with a mission, until he paused in front of the trading post.

“Why are we stopping here?”

“You’ll see.”

Again, he pressed his fingers into her neck, steering her none too gently up the steps, inside the store, and toward the dry goods section. Stopping at the cabinet of rolled fabrics, he handed her a bolt of ivory colored silk.

“What’s this material for?” Shrugging off his hand, she ran her fingertips over the smooth fabric.

“Your wedding gown.”

“What?” Shocked, she spoke so loudly, other shoppers’ heads turned.

“And use this pattern for your wedding dress.” After choosing a paper packet from the table, he all but threw it.

“Have you lost your mind?” Though she caught the packet by instinct, she scowled at his condescending tone, as if he were barking orders at a recruit.

“Come now, Cadence. You know you’re marrying me. Why keep on with this foolish charade?”

She huffed at his patronizing words, too furious to speak. Then she saw a Chihuahua on a short leash, and everything fell into place. He keeps his hand at my neck to manipulate me—control me.

“You don’t want a wife. You want a poor, broken-spirited creature. Marry a hobbled horse for all I care, but I wouldn’t have you if you were the last man in God’s creation.” She started out in conversational tones, but by the time she finished, she shouted. With a frustrated, guttural roar, she threw the dress pattern and silk on the cutting table and stormed out.

Excerpts from Wild Rose Pass:

About the Author: Karen Hulene Bartell

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:

Monday, June 8, 2020

Ice Cream and Romance by Peggy Jaeger #Romance #IceCream


I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream...and romance! Tell us about it, Peggy.

Who doesn’t love ice cream?

I know it’s a food group for me, so when the call went out to the Wild Rose Press authors about a new series that centered around ice cream, well I just knew I had to get in on the ground floor.

The ONE SCOOP OR TWO series is a group of novellas in all genres of romance from sweet to sexy and erotic, contemporary to historical, paranormal to fantasy. There are currently 12 titles out in all those categories, my own VANILLA WITH A TWIST, included.

VANILLA WITH A TWIST tells the present day story of Tandy Blakemore, a thirty something gal who owns an ice cream parlor in the Seacoast community of New Hampshire. Running her own business, being a single mom to a teenager on his way to college, and weaving her way through financial setbacks make up the bulk of Tandy’s days. She’s got no time for herself, and certainly no time for men. She wouldn’t know what to do with one if presented with the opportunity.

When a vacationing engineer strolls into her shop on the day her most important machine goes on the fritz and the line is out the door for her ice cream, Tandy does what she never does and accepts his offer of help. Thus begins a friendship that grows to something much more.

I loved writing about ice cream and I have to be honest, a lot of research went into getting this story as perfect as could be from a taste viewpoint. Hee hee. But what I really loved was watching the friendship between these two lonely people bloom into a lasting love. And I didn’t give away the plotline, because this story is at its core a romance. The one rule of romance? A guaranteed Happily Ever After ending. And since this one has ice cream, that doubles the pleasure for the reader and the writer!


Tandy Blakemore spends her days running her New England ice cream parlor, single-parenting her teenage son, and trying to keep her head above financial water. No easy feat when the shop's machinery is aging and her son is thinking about college. Tandy hasn't had a day off in a decade and wonders if she'll ever be able to live a worry-free life.

Engineer Deacon Withers is on an enforced vacation in the tiny seaside town of Beacher's Cove. Overworked, stressed, and lonely, he walks into Tandy's shop for a midday ice cream cone and gets embroiled in helping her fix a broken piece of equipment.

Can the budding friendship that follows lead to something everlasting?

Buy Links:

Excerpt1 – short:
For a few moments, she regarded him with a look his mother would have called insightful. The corners of her eyes narrowed, she dipped her chin a hair, and she pulled her mouth into another appealing pout he was tempted to kiss.
“I bet,” she said after a long, drawn-out sigh, “you were the kind of kid who took apart clocks and fans and vacuum cleaners to see how they worked.”
“It was more washing machines and lawn mowers and anything with a motor, but yeah. I was.”
She shook her head, her own lips forming a lopsided grin. “Your poor mother.”
“She survived.”
Tandy rolled her eyes and shot her hands to her hips. “So it’s working again?” She thrust her chin at the ice cream machine.
“For now.”
“Okay, well, I can live with for now. And you think you know the real reason it’s been acting up?”
“I definitely do. But like I said, the water to the machine needs to be shut off to fix it.”
“Okay. Well, we close at nine.”
“I’ll come back a little before then. Get things ready. Is that okay with you?”
“I guess it’ll have to be.” She bit down on the inside of her cheek as her brows pulled together. “And you’re sure you want to do this?”
“If I weren’t, I wouldn’t offer, Tandy.”
Why her reluctance to have him help was such a turn-on was something he considered while he waited for his ice cream.

Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes Romantic Comedies about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them. If she can make you cry on one page and bring you out of tears rolling with laughter the next, she’s done her job as a writer!

Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, she brings all topics of daily life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she’s created the families she wanted as that lonely child.

When she’s not writing Peggy is usually painting, crafting, scrapbooking or decoupaging old steamer trunks she finds at rummage stores and garage sales.

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

As a lifelong diarist, she caught the blogging bug early on, and you can visit her at where she blogs daily about life, writing, and stuff that makes her go "What??!"

Social Media links:

Amazon Author Page:

Monday, June 1, 2020

Try It Before You Buy It #series #romance #suspense


What motivates you to buy an eBook or Print Book or Audio Book? How about a sample? As much as I worry about Amazon's reach, about putting the little guys out of business, and their power over the author's venue, I have to praise their virtual store access. Why? You can read a sample of a book or listen to a sample of an audio book before you lay out the moola...and in the comfort of your home at any time, day or night. That is a definite advantage.

Most authors have an Amazon page. Click on HERE to see mine. You'll find all of my books and a little about me. You can go to the individual book page to read a sample. OR...

You can read the entire first chapter on my Web Page. Click on HERE to go directly to the "Read the First Chapter" page.

The first four books of my Love and Murder Series is now available on audio. And the very first book I published, Sleeping with the Lights On is also available on audio. Click on the links below, "Listen to a Sample", to hear a sample of the audio books. And I still have free audio codes which I'm more than happy to give. Shoot me an email or comment here. Thanks for checking them out!