Monday, June 27, 2022

Dreaming Up A Book...Really! by HM Thomas #inspiration #romance


It's special to have a return guest. Today, the talented HM Thomas joins us for Muse Monday on Discover... She's sharing her answer to a question all authors are posed often. Read on and enjoy!

Thank you, Brenda, for having me back on your blog. I’m so glad to be here talking about where I get my ideas for books.

Thankfully, I’m one of those lucky writers who usually doesn’t have to look too hard for story ideas. That’s not to say that I don’t have to beat my head against the desk sometimes to get those ideas to work—it’s just that the initial seeds seem to be everywhere I look. I listen to people’s conversations, I hear songs that don’t tell me enough, I watch strangers, especially other couples, trying to figure them out . . . and I dream.

Many of my stories have come from a kernel of a dream, a flash of memory from sleep that haunts me until I have no other choice but to ask myself what the rest of the story is.

Island of Secrets and Scars was no different. While on vacation with my family at the beach I had a dream about a tidal wave that hovered over me as I stood in the sand. When the wave finally crashed, I was submerged in water, fighting for my life and surrounded by dead bodies. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with water. On the one hand, it feeds my spirit and my creativity. And on the other hand, I’m convinced it will be my downfall. I respect water and its power, but I also fear it.  Because of this fear, I have dreamed of tidal waves for years.

But this dream was different. The vision of me standing on shore with the wave looming over me followed me through the day. It tapped me on the shoulder while I fed my baby, and whispered my name as I played on the beach with my preschoolers—it demanded my attention. And so I started asking “who was this woman standing on the beach?” “Was she afraid?” “Why did she stand there facing something so much stronger than herself?” “What kind of woman would do that?”

And Dr. Cameron Crawford was born. In Island of Secrets and Scars, Cameron flees her old life after an attack that kills her unborn child and alters her relationship with her fiancée. Although she’s afraid of the ocean, she ends up on an obscure island off the coast of South America. Years later, a plane crashes on her island, and she must call for doctors to help care for her friends and family. Ultimately, the plane crash proves to cause more problems than she anticipated, when it draws people from her past to the island, and with them comes threats to her new life and the secrets she thought she’d buried in the sand beneath her.


Even from the shore, Cameron heard the happiness in Esme’s voice when she replied, “Everyone is well. The others are helping Aimee with the garden this morning. Where’s Arabella?” she called as her husband cast a net into the water with long-practiced efficiency.

Cameron turned back toward the rocks, surprised her daughter hadn’t already appeared to see the Huntes. Esme and Brodie were as close to an aunt and uncle as the girl would ever have. She never missed an opportunity to chat with them or finagle a trip on their fishing boat.

“I don’t know. She—"

The rest of her reply died on her lips as the sound of an engine split the peaceful silence around her. She raised her gaze to the sky, where a plane approached. Aircrafts weren’t unheard of over their small island, but since the modest airstrip on the big island sat on the opposite side, most planes rarely traveled in this direction. And when they did, they were much higher than this one.

From the plane came a haunting click click click—a sound Cameron had hoped to never hear again. Suddenly, a face flashed into her mind. The same face she’d seen in her dream just hours before—that of the young, helpless boy who’d stared at her from across a jungle with regret and fear in his eyes before fire erupted between them.

Her heart lurched into her throat, keeping the scream bubbling inside her from escaping. As she swung her gaze from the plane to her friends’ boat, fear grabbed hold of her with talon-like fingers.

“Esme,” she screamed fruitlessly. Her voice couldn’t compete with the sudden explosion overhead.

The plane blew apart, sending metal and flames shooting through the air. Cameron stood, frozen, as a tire flew past her. Pieces of the plane’s body dropped into the sea. A small wave swelled, coming toward where she stood rooted in the sand.

Move,” her brain screamed. But she couldn’t stop watching.

Finally, her body responded, and she turned and sprinted toward the rocks. Water licked at her heels, then rose to her calves. Fear gripped her, trying to keep her immobile as the water splashed against her legs. Until she’d moved to this island, she’d avoided the ocean at all costs. She didn’t trust any of the elements. How could anyone trust anything so powerful and unpredictable? But, as she’d learned in Africa, avoidance didn’t equal safety. Her back still bore the scars of the fire that had ravaged her body and left her womb empty. Shaking away the fear clawing at her, she pushed forward. Above her, the tops of palm trees burned. Their limbs crackled with flames. Once she reached the rocks, she climbed atop the nearest one and looked over her shoulder. Debris filled the water that only moments before had been tranquil. Now, fire burned on the surface as gas and oil leaked from the plane. She recognized the sinking and burning pieces of wood amongst the plane’s remains as Brodie’s boat, Kè Mwen. My Heart.


Betrayed by her fiancée and reeling from an attack that killed their unborn child and left her injured and scarred, obstetrician Cameron Crawford flees to a remote island in search of the healing and peace that elude her. Six years later, she thinks she’s found both serving as the island doctor and raising her young daughter.

Dr. Ian Gauthier has never stopped searching for the fiancée who disappeared six years ago. He’s all but given up hope of ever actually finding her, until a plane crashes on a remote island, and he and his team of doctors are called in to assist the island’s doctor—the woman he’s mourned for half a decade.

Cameron thought the plane crash would be her biggest obstacle, but the accident draws two men from her past to the island. While one man threatens the fragility of her still healing heart, the other threatens the safety of the family she’d die to protect.  In order to save one, she may have to sacrifice the other. 

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Friday, June 24, 2022

Lessons I Learned Kayaking the Grand Canyon, and How They’ll Impact My Adventure Romance Novels by Stacy Gold


Wow! Kayaking the Grand Canyon. Sounds like fun! Welcom Stacy to tell us about her fearless adventure.

Many years ago, I realized that ninety-nine percent of the time I should do the thing I fear the most. Do the hard thing, not despite it being hard, but because it’s hard.

Recently, I achieved one of my biggest, hairiest, most audacious goals…

I paddled the entire 226 miles of the Grand Canyon from Lee’s Ferry to Diamond Creek—in 12.5 days, while carrying all my gear in my extra-large expedition kayak. On top of all that, I did it at age 51, after having two rotator cuffs reattached to the bone and assorted other injuries and surgeries. It’s a goal that’s taken me thirty years to achieve.

My first invitation to paddle the Grand Canyon came way back in 1990, when I was a raft guide and college student. But it was a fall trip, and I was due back in school. A few other invites to kayak along with raft trips came my way over the years but the timing was never right. And seven years ago, I was supposed to do almost this exact same trip, but I blew out my shoulder mountain biking.

I’d started to think maybe it was never going to happen. Or, at least not under my own steam and I’d have to ride in a raft as a passenger. While there are worse fates, it’s not how I prefer to run rivers.

So, When I got invited on this trip, I jumped on it despite dealing with a host of injuries. I mean, my body isn’t likely to be any stronger or healthier next year. Or the year after. It might be, but at my age especially, there are no guarantees.

While I wasn’t 100 percent sure I could physically do it, I did everything possible to get in as a good a shape as I could. Then hoped it would be enough.

And it was. Just barely. But it was. That’s what matters most.

Here Are Four Life Lessons I Learned Kayaking the Grand Canyon

  1. I am tiny. Miniscule. And the world keeps turning and people keep doing things and it all continues whether I’m there to witness or experience or not. It’s very freeing to remember that the modern world is something of our own creation, but there’s a whole other world out there that’s far older, and to me, more real. So why not take a risk and do something like write and publish romance novels. That’s way less scary than running remote rivers.
  2. It’s gotten harder to find ways to step outside my comfort zone, but the Grand Canyon pushed me to new limits physically, mentally, and emotionally. I realized I’m still capable of so much more than I ever would’ve thought.
  3. Journal—especially about the big, hairy goals and the process of achieving them. I hadn’t been in the habit in a while, but I bought a pretty new one, and on night three forced myself to sit down and catch up (despite the exhaustion and overwhelm). I wrote down the day’s events and emotions pretty much every evening from there on out. The first few days were such an overwhelming blur I’ve had to piece them together from my notes and photos. It’s amazing how much my brain scrambled and squished moments and places and experiences but this way I have somewhere to look to make sense of it all.
  4. Push through the fear and do the hard thing anyway. Go for the big, hairy, audacious goal even if you aren’t 100 percent ready. When I first shoved off shore at the start of the Grand Canyon I worried I’d gotten in over my head. By night two, when my entire body was in excruciating pain, I thought I’d made a huge mistake—but it got better and easier every day from there. I learned all I have to be is ready enough. Strong enough. Good enough. Not perfect.

How will kayaking the Grand Canyon influence my future outdoor adventure romance novels?

You can trust that pieces of my Grand Canyon trip, and all I learned along the way, will make it into my book. Much the same way all my years as a backcountry ranger and guide went into my latest, steamy backpacking romance, Wild at Heart.

I’m already working on both a rafting romance and a whitewater kayaking romance. With a whole lot of forced proximity and tons of things that can go wrong—and really, really right—on a multi-day river trip in the middle of nowhere, it’s a no-brainer. 

Stacy Gold Bio

Award-winning adventure romance author Stacy Gold would rather be in the middle of nowhere than almost anywhere else. To that end, she’s run more than 50 rivers in three countries, been heli-dropped into remote ski huts multiple times (and made it into even more under her own steam), worked for the U.S.D.A. Forest Service as a backcountry ranger, river ranger, and naturalist, and spent fourteen years as a commercial river guide and kayak instructor. Her last “real job” was serving as Communications Director for a state-wide mountain biking non-profit.

When she’s not busy kayaking, skiing, mountain biking, or hiking, with her husband and happy dogs, Ms. Gold writes about independent, capable women finding love and adventure in the great outdoors. Her newest release, Wild at Heart, came out May 2nd, 2022. 

Short Book Blurb

Overworked entrepreneur Jules Martinez can't be one more guy’s rebound girl. Evan Davenport lost his job, dumped his fiancé, and hates his life. Each hit the trail solo in search of themselves, but Mother Nature has other plans and keeps shoving them in each other’s paths. Usually naked.

When sparks fly, can they find what they’re looking for together instead of apart?

Buy Links

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Apple Books 

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Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Reading and #Reviews (Valpy, Culiner)

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, 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.

The Dressmaker’s Gift by Fiona Valpy

Paris, 1940. With the city occupied by the Nazis, three young seamstresses go about their normal lives as best they can. But all three are hiding secrets. War-scarred Mireille is fighting with the Resistance; Claire has been seduced by a German officer; and Vivienne’s involvement is something she can’t reveal to either of them.

Two generations later, Claire’s English granddaughter Harriet arrives in Paris, rootless and adrift, desperate to find a connection with her past. Living and working in the same building on the Rue Cardinale, she learns the truth about her grandmother—and herself—and unravels a family history that is darker and more painful than she ever imagined.

In wartime, the three seamstresses face impossible choices when their secret activities put them in grave danger. Brought together by loyalty, threatened by betrayal, can they survive history’s darkest era without being torn apart?


I’m a sucker for 1940 era fiction if the story is character driven and full of conflict. The Dressmaker’s Gift satisfies in that way. I don’t want to tell you much beyond what the blurb above states. Ms. Valpy’s synopsis is clear, and you know what the story is by her summation. The only part of the story that bumped me a bit was Harriet’s outlook on her life in comparison to her grandmother’s story. She seems to be searching for something, and expects to find answers to her life through her grandmother’s experiences in Paris. Or maybe I’m dense and missed the point. Regardless of that, the wartime story of the three seamstresses was highly entertaining. There is romance, danger, mystery, and historical accounts I found enjoyable.



A Room in Blake’s Folly by J. Arlene Culiner

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.


What an intriguing way to tell a story that spans generations. Blake’s Folly and the Mizpah Saloon are characters unto themselves. They live and breathe with the lives that passed through the space they occupied and still occupy in time. As each story within the novel is told, I could feel the story before still echoing off the walls of the saloon. Ms. Culiner is talented at painting a scene and bringing characters to life while weaving a story you can’t put down.


Monday, June 20, 2022

Magical, #Fantasy, and #Dragons by Helen Henderson


Happy Muse Monday. Please help me welcome Helen Henderson to Discover...

Thank you for letting me Muse on Monday. Over the years, I’ve worn many hats. From the logical side of my brain came the skills for technical writer, computer programmer, and systems analyst. In contrast is my experience as museum director and historian. And of course, author. 

One of the most interesting items in some historical collections are the diaries. These hand-penned missives capture a specific point in time in one person’s perspective. The data captured can be as simple as the amount of money spent on groceries that day, discussions held at a civic group’s meeting or who gathered for dinner and what they ate. In his diary, Charles Wardell of Matawan, a small town in Monmouth County, New Jersey, recorded the 1884 earthquake. Inspired by the diaries I read while in the museum field, I incorporated the concept into my latest release. 

Deneas is a slayer as was her mother, and her mother’s mother. In Fire and Amulet, the slayers keep a journal of lands explored, people met, and trades made. However, not all of their entries were meant for public viewing. To keep her thoughts and experiences private, Deneas’ mother used a double encryption to ensure the information did not fall into the wrong hands. Not only did she write her entries in a personal code, but used a language that no one in in the village knew except her friend Trelleir. As an added level of privacy, she hid her journal amidst the reeds of the thatched roof of the home she built. 

When commanded to leave her home village and slay a mythical dragon, Deneas decided to use her mother’s journal as a guide. To see the results of Deneas quest, you’ll have to read Fire and Amulet. 

Fire and Amulet

One Click to Sales Sites

 Blurb:  Trelleir is a true dragon whose magic allows him to take on human form. The last of his kind, he longs for companionship. However, his only friend is not only a human female, but a slayer. Sworn to kill all dragons, including him. 

Summoned by the village council, Deneas is sent on a quest to kill any and all dragons, and cannot return without proof of her success. Finding the mythical creature and avoiding its deadly talons and fire are not her only problems. Another slayer follows with orders to kill her. As she retraces her slain mother's footsteps, she learns the world is not what it seems. 


The pull of someone seeking him tore Trelleir from his somber reflections. Only one person could be the source of the summoning, Deneas. He had protected her since her birth when the non-verbal thoughts of the babe registered as little more than faint cries. Now that she had reached adulthood the mental connection between them increased to the point where he swore he could hear her thoughts. 

He pictured her in his mind’s eye, sitting on the rock wall he and Adais had built as a border around her private garden. Deneas’ face was turned towards the heavens. He knew she searched for a dragon. The urge to leap into the darkness, to fly to her, tore at his control. 

“Go to her,” whispered the wind. 

About Helen Henderson:  Although the author of several local histories, and numerous articles on the topics of American and military history, antiques and collectibles, Henderson’s first love is fiction. Her work in the museum and history fields enables a special insight into creating fantasy worlds. The descendent of a coal-miner's daughter and an aviation flight engineer, her writing reflects the contrasts of her heritage as well as that of her Gemini sign. Her stories cross genres from historical westerns to science fiction and fantasy. In the world of romantic fantasy, she is the author of the Dragshi Chronicles and The Windmaster Novels. Stand-alone novels include the dragon magic fantasy, Fire and Amulet, and the dark fantasy, Imprisoned in Stone. In her books, she invites you to join her on travels through the stars, or among fantasy worlds of the imagination. 

Find her on the web at her blog, Goodreads Follow her on Facebook and Twitter


Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Be Careful What You Wish For by J. L. Sullivan #WickedWednesday


What if your every wicked thought came to fruition? Oh what troubled lives we would lead. J. L. Sullivan's debut novel swirls that awful thought into a stunning new novel. Please welcome him back to Wicked Wednesday.

Thanks for having me back for another Wicked Wednesday, Brenda! 

We all have a little wicked in us. A fleeting thought we’ll never admit. An irrational idea that peeks its head out every now and then before we shake our head and move on. We are consciously aware that we cannot take action on every thought or impulse without facing real-world consequences. Society is fortunate that, as humans, we have this ability. We can’t always control our wicked thoughts, but we can control our actions. Most of us can, at least…we’ll discuss sociopathology at another Wicked Wednesday. 

In my novel, Baxter Allen summons a sinister djinn called Ifrit who pulls Bax’s wishes from the depths of his subconscious, using whatever means necessary to make those desires real. Ifrit brings to life the fleeting thoughts floating in Bax’s mind without regard for repercussions or consequences, no matter how greedy, selfish, or cruel they are, leaving Bax to pick up the pieces. Essentially, Bax loses his ability to “shake his head and move on” when his actions hurt those around him. Instead, he is forced to confront the consequences and wrestle with the knowledge that on some level, he caused the damage Ifrit created. 

Ifrit is the ultimate antagonist because Bax’s unfiltered, uncensored thoughts motivate him. And who would want to face the consequences of the wicked thoughts that momentarily pass through our minds in the depths of sadness or the rage of anger? 

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: 





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. 






Monday, June 6, 2022

Taking a Second Chance on Love by JL Regen


Please welcome JL Regan to Muse Monday on Discover... Let's take a peek at her new book.

In Secret Desires, Edward, the hero, is taking a second chance on love. However, he must first get over the pain of losing his wife whom he loved dearly. As the book ends, readers will be left to their own conclusions as to whether Edward and Margo, the heroine, will unite in marriage. I envision a sequel in which their path to happiness is blocked by an unforeseen force. In life, so often, our second chances are hampered by our own fears of going for it due to past traumas.  Don’t let that happen to you. 

Book Blurb

Nothing in Margo Simmons’s life comes easy. She can’t claim the inheritance on a condo apartment her uncle has left to her until she is gainfully employed in a job for a year. She meets the man of her dreams but anguishes over a loving relationship because he is still emotionally tied to his deceased wife. With great difficulty, she becomes the guardian to a recently orphaned child she had been tutoring.   Margo evolves from an insecure, newbie elementary teacher into a woman determined to fulfill the secret desires locked in her heart. My story speaks to anyone who has suffered a loss and had to start over. 


Chapter 1


chair, waiting for details from the family lawyer about her

Uncle Harry’s death. She hoped it would be shorter and less painful

than the reading of her father’s will.

An older gentleman extended his hand. “I’m sorry your mother

couldn’t be here.”

Margo looked up from her reflections to acknowledge him.

“Thanks, Mr. Steinberg.”

“You’ve grown into a lovely young woman.”

Margo blinked back tears at memories of good times shared

with Uncle Harry. “Not so young. I’m twenty-three.”

The portly man squeezed himself into a swivel chair and peered

at her over wire-rimmed bifocals. “I’m ancient compared to that


Margo gripped her knees to steady her nerves. “My mother

wanted to come with me, but they’re downsizing at her dress

shop. She was afraid to leave early. My stepfather is furious because

Uncle Harry didn’t leave him any money.”

Mr. Steinberg saddened at the sorrowful expression on the

young woman’s face. “It pains me to hear Jerry hasn’t changed

his ways. However, since you’re the only one present to hear your

uncle’s will, I’ll get to the point. Harry has left you his Riverside

Drive condominium apartment and the sum of two hundred and

fifty thousand dollars.”

Margo jumped up from the chair and hugged the man. “This is

a miracle. I can’t wait to tell my Mom. She’s wanted me to get out

on my own. Now I can. Though I wish it hadn’t come with the

loss of my uncle. I adored him.” 

Buy Links

JL lives in the New York metropolitan area, is a published photojournalist, has short suspense stories online, and has taught special education and English as a Second Language to students around the globe. This is her first contemporary romance. She has also published three nonfiction books.

JL's Amazon Page