Monday, May 23, 2022

New Fiction Sheds Light On Burn Victims by C. Becker

 MUSE MONDAY

It's great to have C. Becker back to Discover... on Muse Monday. Her new release sounds fantastic. Please join me in enjoying a great guest post.

Near my town in PA, an accident occurred at a cogeneration plant where four employees were scalded and burnt. More than twenty years later, my heart still aches for the victims and families. One succumbed to the burns; two of the three treated were transported to a burn center 90 miles away. As I began writing Saving Euphoria, I wanted to bring more awareness of burn injuries and the fight patients face in dealing with afterburn care. You may already know someone burned by a fire, wounded by a hot object, electricity or chemical. Their recovery can often take long, painful years.

Though I could never portray all aspects of burn recovery, my protagonist’s husband is set on fire when he tries to protect his family from a drug dealer. I introduce him months after the incident when he is medically stable for rehab. In his chapters, I touch on some elements of a burn injury through his rehab and daily living as he finds his way back to his wife and kids, both physically and emotionally. Through his journey he never gives up on his family, and his wife never gives up hope that he’s alive. Having suffered a minor burn three years ago, I’ve developed a new respect for burn patients and their medical & rehab teams. They are unsung heroes who deserve our attention.

Blurb:

Hailey Langley and her children struggle to cope with the shocking and mysterious death of her husband Mark. Her teenaged son is rebelling, and Hailey is dealing with physical and mental challenges as well.

Tom Parker, Hailey's former partner from the Special Crimes Agency, comes back into her life. He warns her to trust no one even as he tries to rekindle the flame that connects them.

Everyone has secrets, even Parker, and some of those from the past threaten to destroy the present. Hailey fights to move forward after losing Mark, but she needs to figure out if she can trust Parker and risk taking another chance on love.

PG Excerpt:

He moved closer, his breath warming her face. “I don’t want to be a friend. I want more.”

Her eyes blurred. “It’s only been six months since Mark died.”

“Life goes on, Hailey. Mark’s gone.”

“Six months, Parker.” Tears burnt like acid splashing in her eyes. Six months was not nearly enough time to let go.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say it that way.” Parker reached over and held her hand.

The tenderness in his touch made an instant connection to her heart. Ashamed at her heart’s betrayal, she yanked her hand away and wiped a tear off her cheek.

He held her hand again and whispered. “I love you, Hailey. I always have. Somehow, life or fate, or whatever it is you want to call it, got in our way. I kept my distance when you married Mark, but I never stopped loving you.” He tightened his grasp on her hand. “Now I feel like an idiot because I waited too long.”

“Parker, please. I’m not sure I even want to get involved with someone again.”

“You’ve become so miserable. You’re a strong woman.” His face hardened. “Mark wouldn’t want you to waste your life grieving. He’d want you to go on—and at least try to be happy.” He caressed her cheek with his thumb. “I think deep down, you know it.”

Few people had her pegged so well. She bit her lip, “I do.”

BUY LINKS

AMAZON

THE WILD ROSE PRESS

B & N

iTUNES

C. Becker is the author of Finding Euphoria and Saving Euphoria. She is currently working on the third book to the Euphoria trilogy. As a medical technologist in a former career, Becker has never outgrown the attraction of using science in everyday life.

Becker enjoys hanging out with her family and Jack Russell, playing the piano, reading, and gardening. 

And here is how to reach C.Becker or get more information about her books:

Website https://cbeckerauthor.wixsite.com/cbeckerauthor

Twitter https://twitter.com/cbeckerauthor

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CBeckerauthor/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/beckercee/?hl=en

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60471332-saving-euphoria?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=ZlQNFmJQAc&rank=1

BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/books/saving-euphoria-by-c-becker

Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/C.-Becker/e/B07NRWPWX3

Get to know C. Becker better by signing up for an email newsletter https://mailchi.mp/7a51fa024f7a/cbeckerauthor


Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Djinn, Ifrit, or Genie It's a #WickedWednesday by J. L. Sullivan

WICKED WEDNESDAY

What a fun Wicked Wednesday with J. L. Sullivan who is letting the genie out of the lamp or ifrit out of the cave. Look out what you wish for! Read and enjoy. 

Thanks for having me on Wicked Wednesday, Brenda!

Not much is more wicked than an evil djinn. Djinn have a long and storied history of wickedness. The word jinn first became prominent in ancient Arabic myths and Islamic folklore. Later, Roman-influenced translations changed the word to djinn. And still much later, the French translation of the book One Thousand and One Nights, gave us the French word genie. All to describe essentially the same spiritual being. 

While not strictly good or bad, the jolly blue guy who tells jokes and sings is a very rare interpretation. Most djinn—and there are many kinds—pride themselves as mischievous tricksters or dangerous demons. And because djinn legends have evolved alongside human cultures, their influence can be felt in societies around the world. Many believe a type of djinn called Shaitaan is what early Christians came to know as the devil, while another type called a ghul, is where the word ghoul originated. 

For my novel, I chose one of the most intriguing djinn—ifrit—as my story’s antagonist. Ifrit are considered one of the most powerful and cunning types of djinn. They live underground or in caves, and are often born of fire and smoke. And instead of the traditional wish-granting fare of some of the lesser djinn, my ifrit reads the mind of my protagonist, fifteen-year-old Baxter, granting the wishes of his innermost thoughts.   

What could possibly go wrong with granting wishes based on the subconscious of a fifteen-year-old boy? 

Blurb: Bax always fantasized something remarkable would happen in his life. So when a decrepit man with glowing purple eyes offers him a ring intended for his estranged father, Bax accepts. 

The ring speaks to Bax in a dream, tempting him with a vision of a powerful djinn. Desperate to make his fantasies a reality, Bax unleashes a creature called Ifrit, but soon learns this djinn isn't what the ring led him to believe. Feeding off the depths of his subconscious, the sinister demon fulfills what he thinks Bax wants by manipulating, threatening, and murdering. With everyone he loves in danger and a trail of crimes pointing back at him, Bax must scramble to solve the puzzle that will banish Ifrit forever. 

Book Links: 

AMAZON BUY LINK

BARNES AND NOBLE BUY LINK

GOODREADS

BOOKBUB

Bio:

J. L. Sullivan writes young adult stories inspired by gritty urban environments and the fantastical tales that percolate within abandoned buildings and desolate alleys. In high school, he wrote for a local newspaper before venturing into creative writing in college. He currently lives in St. Louis with his wife, two daughters, and a dog named Princess Penelope Picklesworth. 

Socials:

WEBSITE

TWITTER

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Reading and #Reviews (March, Beard)

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

I tend to read what I write, but not exclusively. Besides Romantic Suspense and Mystery Romance, I read crime and law novels, once in a while a true story, WWII historicals, mysteries, and mainstream character driven books.

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.
 

Alpine Glow by Robin Balogh March

Two tales. One location. Mystery and suspense with a twist.

Every place in the American West has a story. Shadows of the men and women who fought to survive the deadly challenges of the Old West remain, some inspiring, some dark, all of them waiting to be discovered.

The Old West Suspense series follows the adventures of journalist, Beverly Conners, as she hunts down modern day stories in small town America while also telling the lost tales of the people who lived and died in that same town long ago.

Alpine Glow is a parallel tale masterfully woven between a passionate western mystery and a modern day thriller, both taking place in the same desert town of Alpine, Texas...over 100 years apart.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Review:

It took me a couple of chapters to get into this story, but I did. This book is really two stories told simultaneously in present day and the old west past. I have to say, I was far more vested in the old west tale. The present-day romance was a little forced to me, the suspense not quite suspenseful. But overall Ms. March made the book work. If I gave stars, it wouldn’t be a 5-star read, but I was entertained…which is all I ask for in a read.

 

What Happened That Night by Susanna Beard

THAT NIGHT.
Lisa remembers the first part of the night: an evening in the pub with her best friend.
Then nothing.
She wakes up, days later. She’s in hospital. Her best friend is dead.

WHAT HAPPENED?
Lisa holes up in a remote country cottage, plagued by guilt and flashbacks: how did their assailant know them? Why were they attacked? And what really happened that night?

With only vague memories of the event, she cuts herself off from friends and family, spending her days wandering the hills with her dog, Riley.

Lisa realises there's another truth still hidden to her, a truth she can't escape from. A truth that may have been right in front of her all along.

Discover this shocking and absolutely gripping psychological thriller that delves into jealousy and suspicion by critically acclaimed author Susanna Beard.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Review: 

Honestly, I don’t know how to review this book. I didn’t want to finish it. I was often irritated by the protagonist. I was often irritated by the tease. But I HAD to know whodunnit. The author writes a smooth book. So maybe the author did her job? If I really don’t like a book, I won't read to the end. But I did because I had to know. I would suggest you read the sample on Amazon and make your own decision as to whether to start it or not.

 

Monday, May 9, 2022

Inspiration from Burn Victims #NewRelease by C. Becker

MUSE MONDAY

It's great to have C. Becker back to Discover... on Muse Monday. And what a special day it is. Release  Day for her newest novel with a real punch behind it! Please join me in enjoying a great guest post.

Near my town in PA, an accident occurred at a cogeneration plant where four employees were scalded and burnt. More than twenty years later, my heart still aches for the victims and families. One succumbed to the burns; two of the three treated were transported to a burn center 90 miles away. As I began writing Saving Euphoria, I wanted to bring more awareness of burn injuries and the fight patients face in dealing with afterburn care. You may already know someone burned by a fire, wounded by a hot object, electricity or chemical. Their recovery can often take long, painful years.

Though I could never portray all aspects of burn recovery, my protagonist’s husband is set on fire when he tries to protect his family from a drug dealer. I introduce him months after the incident when he is medically stable for rehab. In his chapters, I touch on some elements of a burn injury through his rehab and daily living as he finds his way back to his wife and kids, both physically and emotionally. Through his journey he never gives up on his family, and his wife never gives up hope that he’s alive. Having suffered a minor burn three years ago, I’ve developed a new respect for burn patients and their medical & rehab teams. They are unsung heroes who deserve our attention.

Blurb:

Hailey Langley and her children struggle to cope with the shocking and mysterious death of her husband Mark. Her teenaged son is rebelling, and Hailey is dealing with physical and mental challenges as well.

Tom Parker, Hailey's former partner from the Special Crimes Agency, comes back into her life. He warns her to trust no one even as he tries to rekindle the flame that connects them.

Everyone has secrets, even Parker, and some of those from the past threaten to destroy the present. Hailey fights to move forward after losing Mark, but she needs to figure out if she can trust Parker and risk taking another chance on love.

PG Excerpt:

He moved closer, his breath warming her face. “I don’t want to be a friend. I want more.”

Her eyes blurred. “It’s only been six months since Mark died.”

“Life goes on, Hailey. Mark’s gone.”

“Six months, Parker.” Tears burnt like acid splashing in her eyes. Six months was not nearly enough time to let go.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say it that way.” Parker reached over and held her hand.

The tenderness in his touch made an instant connection to her heart. Ashamed at her heart’s betrayal, she yanked her hand away and wiped a tear off her cheek.

He held her hand again and whispered. “I love you, Hailey. I always have. Somehow, life or fate, or whatever it is you want to call it, got in our way. I kept my distance when you married Mark, but I never stopped loving you.” He tightened his grasp on her hand. “Now I feel like an idiot because I waited too long.”

“Parker, please. I’m not sure I even want to get involved with someone again.”

“You’ve become so miserable. You’re a strong woman.” His face hardened. “Mark wouldn’t want you to waste your life grieving. He’d want you to go on—and at least try to be happy.” He caressed her cheek with his thumb. “I think deep down, you know it.”

Few people had her pegged so well. She bit her lip, “I do.”

BUY LINKS

AMAZON

THE WILD ROSE PRESS

B & N

iTUNES

C. Becker is the author of Finding Euphoria and Saving Euphoria. She is currently working on the third book to the Euphoria trilogy. As a medical technologist in a former career, Becker has never outgrown the attraction of using science in everyday life.

Becker enjoys hanging out with her family and Jack Russell, playing the piano, reading, and gardening. 

And here is how to reach C.Becker or get more information about her books:

Website https://cbeckerauthor.wixsite.com/cbeckerauthor

Twitter https://twitter.com/cbeckerauthor

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CBeckerauthor/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/beckercee/?hl=en

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60471332-saving-euphoria?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=ZlQNFmJQAc&rank=1

BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/books/saving-euphoria-by-c-becker

Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/C.-Becker/e/B07NRWPWX3

Get to know C. Becker better by signing up for an email newsletter https://mailchi.mp/7a51fa024f7a/cbeckerauthor





Life in a Hotel by Jill Culiner #romance #MuseMonday

MUSE MONDAY

I'm delighted to have Jill Culiner back for Muse Monday on Discover... She always has an interesting post, and this time is no exception. So grab a cuppa, sit back, and enjoy.

          

I live in a hotel. Yes, I know: a sentence like that conjures up room service and a certain amount of luxury. But that’s far from my situation, as you’ll soon discover. 

            I’ve always been fascinated by shabby old hotels, places that existed in the days before renovation, norms, so-called conveniences, and mass tourism. And when ensconced in one of those throwbacks to another era, I do enjoy imagining long gone guests and forgotten dramas. One sagging old Nevada hotel where I stayed conjured up boomtown days and silver mines; several old inns here in France took me back to a time when itinerant artists, craftsmen, and mercenaries wandered the roads. I’ve known hotels in bleak communist countries where impersonal rooms might or might not have been bugged, worker’s hotels in Turkey where men told sad stories and brewed me fern tea. But my stay in such places was, sadly, only temporary.

             Then, one day twenty-six years ago everything changed. An acquaintance called me at the radio in the west of France where I was working at the time, asked if I could help him out. He, a photographer living in a distant city, needed to find picturesque villages in this area. Could I show him around? Indeed, I could. I knew the region quite well, for I was then searching for a house to buy. 

            Together we drove over back roads lined with high hedges, shadowed by ancient oaks, and passing, every few kilometers, through modest villages. In one, on a silent main square, I caught sight of a shabby old hotel with crumbling rendering and peeling paint. It was the sort of inn that had known its heyday back in the 1930s, when people, satisfied by less, spent holidays in sleepy places, indulging in nothing more strenuous than fishing in the local river, strolling along dusty lanes, and eating well in the hotel dining room. I was fascinated by this neglected and unloved building. I longed to slip inside, explore, listen to the walls whisper, but that was impossible since it had been closed for many years. We drove on.

            The next morning, I resumed my quest for a house to buy. Imagine my surprise when I walked into a notary’s office and saw a photo of that same hotel. It was for sale and very inexpensive—no one was much interested in purchasing an old wreck. No one but me… 

            Without a second thought, I bought it—how could I resist? Yes, it took quite a bit of restoration—definitely not renovation—and the addition of plumbing and new electrical wiring, but it’s where I still live. It’s a lovely place indeed, four or five hundred years old, with uneven beamed ceilings, and cracked quarry tiled floors. As a special treat, set into the former dining room’s walls, there are ten large landscape paintings dating from 1914. And I can guarantee that this old place quite definitely tells me tales.

             Thus, inspired by my hotel environment, the Mizpah Saloon became the setting for my new romance, A Room in Blake’s Folly. The Mizpah is very much like that Nevada silver boomtown hotel I mentioned earlier, and it’s very lovely and authentic—although some hotels in the Far West could be very dire places back in the 1800s, as Westley Cranston, a main character in A Room in Blake’s Folly, explains: 

You can’t put potential investors up in the usual hotels—those are lice-infested, with one towel, one sheet for all comers, and wall separations made out of strips of old paper—so towns have to build hotels like the Blake’s Folly Emerald. It’s a grand place, too, with authentic cast-iron pilasters, a paneled dining room, and a raised stage for an orchestra. 

            It’s in the Mizpah Saloon that, in 1889, Westley falls in love with Sookie Lacey, a former prostitute, now a dance hall girl. But romance rarely follows a straight path. Times change, loyalties end, life goes on, and new relationships form. And because we are all nosy folk who want to know more, we listen to the walls speak. 

Excerpt (from 1927 when Susanna Lacey, brothel owner, runs into Alexander Treemont, former silver baron.) 

            Hearing the purr of a car’s engine, something rare on these back streets, she turned. A large Oldsmobile, an old-fashioned car, elegant in its antiquated way, and obviously well cared for, was coming in her direction. She knew whose it was.

            The car stopped when it reached her. Out stepped Alexander, smiling, dapper in fine leather driving gloves and a cream-colored suit, the sartorial choice of those with a well-nourished bank account. He removed his flat tweed cap, greeted her, and Susanna noted how his pomaded hair, glossy and silver, stayed perfectly in place. How easy it was for men with no combs or pins to battle with every day.

            “I certainly didn’t expect to run into you out here,” she said, holding out her hand. “But it has given me the perfect opportunity to thank you for the roses. They are beautiful.”

            Briefly, he took her hand in his firm grip and bowed.

            “Yellow. For friendship,” she added.

            He met her gaze evenly. “And joy.”

            Joy? “Ah. I didn’t know.”

            His smile was warm. “I didn’t expect to run into you out here either.”

            Susanna laughed. “I suppose most people do think I’m some strange night creature who never risks daylight.”

            A line of embarrassed confusion appeared between his brows. “I didn’t…Excuse me if I…”

            She couldn’t let him finish. Reaching out again, her fingers touched the soft fabric of his elegant suit jacket. “I know you didn’t mean anything offensive. You’ll have to forgive my frivolity. This spring air does have that effect on me.” With a strange reluctance, she let her

hand drop. “However, I do come out walking every day.”

            “So do I.” He cocked a curious eyebrow. “But I’ve never run into you before.”

            “Because I rarely head in this direction, southwest of the town.”

            “And what brings you here today?”

            She was unprepared for the question, and the real answer would be too revealing. Why had she come out this way? Because she’d been curious. She’d wanted to catch a glimpse of that wooden mansion where he lived, that swanky building with its broad front porch and high balcony. Ever since the arrival of those yellow roses, she had thought about him constantly—although why pretty flowers had turned her head in such a way was beyond her comprehension. 

Blurb 

A Room in Blake’s Folly by J. Arlene Culiner (published by The Wild Rose Press) 

If only the walls could speak…

In one hundred and fifty years, Blake's Folly, a silver boomtown notorious for its brothels,
scarlet ladies, silver barons, speakeasies, and divorce ranches, has become a semi-ghost town.
Although the old Mizpah Saloon is still in business, its upper floor is sheathed in dust. But in a
room at a long corridor's end, an adventurer, a beautiful dance girl, and a rejected wife were once caught in a love triangle, and their secret has touched three generations. 

Purchase Links

https://books2read.com/BlakesFollyRomance

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wt3VkYUTVNk 


Author Website: http://www.j-arleneculiner.com

Blog: http://j-arleneculiner.over-blog.com

Storytelling Podcast: https://soundcloud.com/j-arlene-culiner

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/j-arlene-culiner

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jarlene.culiner/

Amazon Author Page : https://www.amazon.com/author/jarleneculiner-quirky-romances

 

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Villains to Hate, Villains to Love by HM Thomas #WickedWednesday #romance

WICKED WEDNESDAY

Oh, good, a fun post about evil characters by HM Thomas! Discover... Wicked Wednesday and we're talking villains...you might like? 

Villains. They come in all shapes, sizes and levels of villainy. In my books I’ve had a club owner/drug dealer/pimp that was kind of lovable, a beautiful human trafficker, and an abusive ex. As an author, creating obvious bad guys isn’t that difficult. Throw in someone like Cruella de Vil with her furs and maniacal eyes (you’ve seen the cartoon, right?)  and you don’t have to work very hard to get readers, or characters, to realize this is the person they’re supposed to hate.

But I like a villain who, if we didn’t know better, we might like. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about an anti-hero or a truly good character who’s had to make horrible choices and just comes across as bad. I’m talking a depraved, cruel person with a polished veneer.

In my latest novel, Island of Secrets and Scars, Victor Roberts fits that bill. The story’s main character is Cameron Crawford, an American doctor living on a remote island off the east coast of South America, has heard stories of the nefarious Victor Roberts and, as a doctor, seen first-hand the effects of his cruelty. Still, when she sees the man for the first time she can’t help but notice that he’s handsome and even smells good. These facts make her angry, because what she sees isn’t at all what she expects and she believes that’s unfair.

But that’s how a “good” villain sucks us in. If Victor Roberts was an overweight, toothless, smelly mobster dressed in a sweat-stained tank top, people would stay away from him. But, turn him into a good-looking charmer dressed in a suit with nice hands and a dimple and suddenly people want to get close—and that’s when he strikes.

In Island of Secrets and Scars, Victor is beyond redemption, but he serves as a catalyst for major changes and maybe even some redemption for those whose lives he’s affected.

Excerpt

“I’m Victor Roberts. And you are?”

His hand was large. His fingers long and thick but not fat. Cameron imagined when clenched, his fist would be massive. She knew for certain it would cause maximum damage. Yet the appendage looked so harmless with its clean, close-cropped nails. She raised her gaze to stare into the eyes of the man who’d ruined Keso’s sister. The man Keso had vowed to ruin in return. A corner of the man’s mouth lifted in a smirk, revealing a dimple. Her stomach twisted and bile rose in her throat. Coughing, she tried to keep the sour liquid from escaping. Roberts dropped his hand, then moved closer.

“Are you okay?” He placed a hand on her forearm.

She jerked away. The dimple had disappeared. “I’m fine. Is there something you need here?” For the sake of everyone on the island, she needed him to get on his way.

“You have Americans in your clinic. I need to see if any of them are my friends.” He leaned forward, as if heading for the door.

Cameron remained firm. “They’re not.”

The man stood only inches from her now. His cologne tickled her nose. Surprisingly, he smelled nice. Unfair. A man like Victor Roberts should smell like the garbage he was.

“I’ll see for my—”

“No.” Her daughter was inside the clinic. She’d die before she willingly allowed this monster near her baby.

His jaw tightened. His nostrils flared.

“The only Americans are tourists from boats,” she explained. “Your plane passengers are on the beach . . . or the water.” They’d pulled out any bodies they’d found, but Cameron’s priority had been the living. No one on the plane had fit that category.

“Well, I’d like to see for myself, if you don’t mind.” He tried to push past her.

Cameron stiffened her legs, rooted to the spot. “You’re not coming into the clinic.”

The men behind the intruder inched forward. He lifted a hand to stop them. A slow smile stretched his lips. She dropped her gaze before that damn dimple showed itself again.

“Dr. Crawford, I need to see who is inside this clinic.” He spat the word. “You can allow me of your own free will or…”

He didn’t have to continue. She knew what happened after or. Keira happened after or. Still, she couldn’t let him inside.

Her knees shook. “I’m sorry, but I can’t allow that. There are rules. Laws. That prohibit me from revealing the identity of patients.”

He laughed, so close to her face she could smell the mint on his breath. “Laws?” He turned to his companions, still laughing. “Did she say laws?”

The men shrugged.

Roberts turned back to her. Stone-cold anger replaced the humor on his face. “I am the law, Dr. Crawford.”

Buy Link:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09VQ4XYJM 

HM Thomas combated her perfectly normal childhood by creating her own drama and excitement on paper. By the time she entered college, she’d been a creator of horror, mystery and suspense, but it wasn’t until her own Happily Ever After that she delved into romance. Now she’s convinced each of her characters needs one as well, no matter how much she might torture them in the process.

When HM’s not writing, she enjoys traveling and exploring new places with her husband, three children and rescue dog. On a good day, she can be found in a comfy chair with a book. On a really good day that chair’s in the sand or by a campfire. 

Contact Links:

Newsletter signup- https://hmthomaswrites.eo.page/3v24z

Website – www.hmthomaswrites.com

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/hmthomas_author/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/hmthomaswrites

Monday, May 2, 2022

Some of My Best Friends Aren't Real

MUSE MONDAY

I'm very close to having book three of the MacKenzie Chronicles completed, which means I'll be saying goodbye to a cast of characters I've grown close to in the town of Joshua, Arizona. Getting all sentimental reminds me of the last series I completed and how I felt.


The Love and Murder Series is a five-book series, so the time spent with those people was a few years. I still think about them. I remember vividly the last line of the last book:

“Well, then, sugar. Let’s get started.” 

With those last words, I typed The End to book five in the Love and Murder Series. Sniff, sniff. 

The Deep Well of Love and Murder ended the series, and I sadly bid farewell to a cast of characters I’d loved and lived with for a few years. I still Lacy’s level-headed personality, Chance’s dedication to peace-keeping, Phoebe’s sassy, gypsy style, Mason’s sexy attitude, August’s feistiness, Wolf’s James Bond coolness, Penny’s braveness, Jake’s soft side, and last, but not least, from The Deep Well, Laura’s independent flare and Randy’s…there’s too much to miss about Randy. 

When I write a book, I know so much more about the characters than I can include between the pages. It’s a satisfying feeling, putting their stories to rest, but it’s also as if they move on without me. Can they? I suppose Randy and Laura are just fine without my meddling, but honestly, I miss checking in on them every day. 


The Deep Well of Love and Murder
Excerpt:

“You let me be the judge of what messes I choose in my life.” His hands twitched at his sides, longing to hold her and stifle her anger. He narrowed his eyes and stared deeper into hers instead. “Taking care of your ex is a mess I look forward to.”

“This is my mess, not yours.” Her tone grew more combative. “I’ve handled what I’ve been dealt, and I’ll continue handling whatever gets thrown at me.”

“I don’t see it that way.” He kept his voice level, but hard edged. His own emotions, convincing her while fear of losing her, hammered his self-control. “You’re locking me out. Why? Because you think you aren’t allowed to be happy?”

Her mouth pinched in a tight line, and she glared at him. “Randy—”

“I think it’s about damned time you stopped blaming your mother, your ex, or whoever for your unhappiness.”

She whirled away, ready to flee, but he couldn’t stop now. He needed her and had to make her see how much she needed him. “Don’t be afraid of me, Laura Jane.” He shuffled a half-step closer.

“I’m not afraid.” She faced him again. “But I don’t need you to tell me how to run my life, if that’s what you think you can do.”

Perro jumped and planted his paws on Randy’s hip, panting heavily. “For Pete’s sake, Perro—”

Laura’s brow furrowed. “Do you smell that?” “What?” As soon as he’d asked, the hot, smoky scent assaulted his senses.

Fire.

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Friday, April 29, 2022

Real Life Fearless by Colleen L. Donnelly #FearlessFriday #romance

FEARLESS FRIDAY

My guest today, Colleen L. Donnelly, knows how to entertain us. I'm voting her the most fearless this year to date on Discover... And because she is such a good tale spinner, you'll want to check out her fiction books too. So read to the end and then check out her books! 

Fearless? Maybe not, but when Kenny Rogers sang “The Gambler,” I heard my escapes from harm crooned to a catchy tune. My dad had already dubbed Kenny a herald of truth when “You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me, Lucille” coincided with a bout of bad blood sugar that weakened my mom, his best farmhand. But Kenny’s insight didn’t dawn on me until long after endless replays of his Greatest Hits during high school study hall. Much later his words brought my brushes with disaster to light through The Gambler’s eyes. 

“Son, I've made a life
Out of readin' people's faces
Knowing what the cards were
By the way they held their eyes”

Targeted
The face I read outside my closed car window told me what cards that man held. Cajoling and sincere, he assured me under meager streetlights that the person I said I was looking for was just around the corner. “Leave your car, and follow me,” he coaxed from outside my locked car. Then his pleas shifted from “Trust me” to “Roll down your window so I can hear you better.” The way he held his eyes told me to start my car. When “No, don’t go” darkened his face, I hit the gas. 

“Every gambler knows
That the secret to surviving
Is knowing what to throw away
Knowing what to keep”

Which goes for advice. Like that given to me in a Burger King parking lot by a man who pointed to my rear tire before I exited my car, advising, “You should see your tire. It’s flat.” When I hesitated, he persisted, “Don’t drive with it that way.” Since I had just driven there without the flapping limp of a flat, I challenged him. Which brought him closer. “Get out and look at it,” he insisted. “See for yourself.” His persistence piqued the Gambler’s “secret to surviving.” Throw away lunch? A tire? I threw away the fellow’s advice, knowing what to keep. Me. So I left—on four solid tires. 

“The night got deathly quiet
And his face lost all expression”

Make that a deathly quiet alley. And two faces. Two that went from cocky assurance to shock when I wheeled my ninety-month pregnant body around and faced them. They’d trailed me as I waddled from a local grocer to my house. I felt them before I heard them, footsteps then voices that donned a casual pretense designed to keep my defenses asleep. They drew closer. Their pace quickened. I couldn’t run, had nothing to defend myself with, so I turned. If innocent, they would smile and step aside. But their pretend joviality and conversation vanished. They stood expressionless as their pregnant victim suddenly barreled straight toward them, through their deathly quiet, and then away. 

“If you're gonna play the game, boy
You gotta learn to play it right”

Wrong place, wrong time
Which means truthfully. Someone wanted something I had. When threats and coercion failed to get it from me, they took me to court. To the judge, they spun a yarn that painted them a victim and me a scoundrel. I pondered an equally fabricated defense until the judge turned my way. King Solomon shone in his eyes, the same brilliance that had ages ago resolved the squabble as to which of two women an infant belonged to by decreeing the baby be cut in half. The judge raised a question the way Solomon lifted his sword. He was looking for the truth—the real mother who would give up her child in order to save its life. I played it right and told him the truth. His gavel hit the podium. And what was mine remained mine. 

“You got to know when to hold ’em”

Rumor had it that the man who backed into our parked car, but accused us of hitting his, was tied to organized crime. Cool, calm, and collected, he swaggered into the courtroom, hands stuffed in the pockets of a long trench coat, and stood beside us in front of a judge. The rumor seemed true when the judge entertained only one side of the story…not ours…then dismissed the case. While my co-witness screamed, “Liar,” I watched the back of the trench coat swagger out the doors he’d entered. She screamed it again in the hallway, utterly fearless while I considered the enormity of what…not who…had dinged the car. Wisdom said, “Hold ’em,” and I did. But she didn’t. Until that enormity turned and delivered her a promise we knew he would keep. 

“Know when to fold ’em”

Is it fearless to climb into the basket of a hot air balloon when you’re terrified of heights? Or was I more afraid of the people who clapped my back and said, “You can do it, come on.” My wits that had kept me safe through countless other scrapes, failed me the moment pride took over. More cowardly than wise, I knew I should have folded before I stepped into the basket, or before I even accepted, or by pretending to be sick. But when the gas failed to ignite and lift the balloon into the air, it was time. I folded. And kissed the ground I belonged on. 

“Know when to walk away”

Bullies. Two giants decided to tail my daughter and I in the mall. Enormous shadows darkened wherever we walked. Taunts and snickers bristled the air. Chortles and insults tempted me to turn and retaliate, but I took her hand and kept moving forward. The more they picked on a mother and child, the smaller they became. So small, even their sticks and stones fell flat. I understood then what my mother always said—insecure people try to bring you down to their level. Low and small. My daughter and I became the giants then, and we walked away. 

“And know when to run”

Approaching a gate after dark to an outdoor testing site that I and other lab techs worked, my car became besieged by Spanish-speaking men, roused from singing around their campfire. They grinned as they surrounded the car of a dazed blonde who quickly locked her doors. To their too happy expressions, I offered smiles, exaggerated gestures, pressed my ID to the glass, and tried a simple English explanation to encourage them to move away. I even claimed I had a husband—a grande husband—in broken Spanish, but nothing budged them. Preferring not to drag them with my car, I pondered employing the 21 Foot Rule and demand they step outside my vulnerable distance. Then the smile pressed against my window vanished. A large hand clapped the man’s shoulder and pulled him from my car. His friends moved also when our heftiest lab tech didn’t let go. His nod said what I already knew—this is when I run. 

Colleen L. Donnelly is an Amazon #1 Bestselling author of historical fiction and romance. She can be found at:

http://www.colleenldonnelly.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ColleenLDonnelly

http://www.Goodreads.com/colleenldonnelly

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/colleen-l-donnelly

http://amzn.to/37vcnO4

https://twitter.com/ColleenLDonnell/ 

And her books:

Mine to Tell     http://amzn.to/1PNJo4S

Asked For        http://amzn.to/1TyflEu         

Love on a Train     http://amzn.to/1m9eYCx

The Lady’s Arrangement      http://amzn.to/2qj7DE2

Out of Splinters and Ashes   https://amzn.to/2K0WTHt

Letters and Lies      https://amzn.to/2yNFGNv

Sonata Contineo     https://amzn.to/2I0zzYi