Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The Human Side of a Villain by Gretchen Lovett


Please welcome today's guest blogger to Discover... Gretchen's villain sounds like we might want to get to know him! 

I love a good villain! I think what makes them interesting is their human side. In Second Chance Louisiana, the villain is a bank robber who has a mysterious connection with our hero. The first time Tyler sees him when the bank is being robbed, he feels like he knows the man. Then when our villain shows up at Tyler’s home ten years later, his feeling is confirmed.

Karl is just down on his luck. He fell in with the wrong crowd and ended up committing one crime after another. He doesn’t know how to get out, and while he continues to make bad choices, he’s not an evil person. 


Tyler took his opportunity, wrapping a hand around the stock and yanking it up. The stranger cried out in surprise, firing up into the heavens. Tyler felt the heat wash up the barrel and the explosion rattled his teeth.

He punched the guy hard, determined to put an end to this tragedy before it began. The criminal fell back but didn’t let go of the gun. He swung around, kicking at Tyler, connecting with the ex-con’s knee. Tyler felt a blast of pain race up his thigh, and staggered, holding onto the gun for dear life.

He knew that whoever let go first was a dead man. He had to survive; Misty was counting on him. Just a few days ago, he might have struggled a little less, might have let the bastard get one over on him. There were times in prison when he wished for a swift end. But after this afternoon and the successful conclusion of their first marital spat, Tyler was feeling good about his future. He wasn’t ready to give it up. He didn’t want Misty to give it up either. This idiot stole fifteen years of Tyler’s life from him. He deprived Savannah of a father and Misty of a husband. Tyler wasn’t going to kill him because he didn’t want to risk another jail sentence, but he was going to make the man pay. 

Buy Link:

Author: Gretchen Lovett

Author Bio:

Gretchen Lovett is a romance writer, ghost writer, freelance writer and lover of all things literary. She has a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science and worked as a secretary for a large nonprofit organization up until COVID. After the lockdowns, she stayed home and began to take on writing jobs. Through Magnolia Blossom Publishing, she released seven romance novels. After signing NDAs, she has worked on 21 romance novels for various clients and six nonfiction titles on subjects ranging from parenting to healthcare. She has two brilliant, handsome young men in her life who are getting ready to leave the nest. They are not allowed to read her books, nor are they interested.


Friday, July 22, 2022

Newspaper to Law by Alana Lorens #FearlessFriday


Please welcome Alana Lorens to Discover... for Fearless Friday. Young divorced mother to family law. That's a huge fearless jump...

Once upon a time, I was a newspaper reporter in a tiny town in deep south Florida called Homestead. My husband and I had moved there in the late 1970s as he was attached to Homestead Air Force Base, which figured pretty largely earlier on because of its proximity to Cuba. Our second daughter was born there. One thing led to another, and we divorced, so I was a single mom with a five-year-old and three-year-old.

One of the folks I interviewed regularly for the paper was the city attorney for the next town over, Joe Tomassi. When I expressed frustration at only being able to help people so far as a reporter, he suggested I go to law school. Now this is something I had never wanted to do in my whole life.,. The more I thought about it, though, it kinda made sense. Well, except for the whole single mom of two preschoolers thing.

But I thought, well, I’ll take the LSAT entrance exam and see how I do.

I did great.

Wow. So I applied to the University of Miami, being the closest school, and I got in. Also wow.

As a private school, one can imagine (even in the 1980s) that it was not cheap to attend. So I applied for financial aid. And got it. And on-campus housing for me and my kids. There was an on-campus day care and kindergarten for my child just up the road/

How could I say no?

Thus began a thirty-year practice of family law, which indeed helped many more people. It has also well informed my Lady Lawyers series, and also a many-years’ love affair with the Florida Keys, which has led to PROPHECIES AND PROMISES, my new historical novel set in Key West at the time of the Spanish-American War.  A twist of fate led us to homestead, another to divorce, but the biggest leap of all was reaching for the new life of a lawyer—and all the steps that fell into place to make it happen. 

Book Trailer: 

Blurb:  Tamsyn McKiernan thinks her dreams have come true. She’s engaged to a dashing Key West bachelor and finally in her widowed father’s good graces. But in her heart, she knows something’s wrong. She loves the ocean and the quiet pleasures of nature—so what does the aristocratic life she’ll lead truly hold for her?  

Mercenary captain Drake Ashton is neck deep in preparations for the Spanish-American War, running guns and other supplies to Cuban natives who want out from under their Spanish masters. He and his brother Freddie risk their lives daily, focused on saving his friends on the island. Nothing else matters but his mission. 

A chance encounter with a spiny sea urchin brings the two together, and neither of their lives will ever be the same again.



Alana Lorens has been a published writer for more than forty years, after working as a pizza maker, a floral designer, a journalist and a family law attorney. Currently a resident of Asheville, North Carolina, the aging hippie loves her time in the smoky blue mountains. She writes romance and suspense as Alana Lorens, and sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal mystery as Lyndi Alexander. One of her novellas, THAT GIRL’S THE ONE I LOVE, is set in the city of Asheville during the old Bele Chere festival. She lives with her daughter on the autism spectrum, who is the youngest of her seven children, and she is ruled by three crotchety old cats, and six kittens of various ages.

Author Links




Amazon Author Page 


Twitter:  @AlexanderLyndi 




Monday, July 18, 2022

Riding in a Covered Wagon – Not all it’s cracked up to be By Donna Schlachter


Please enjoy Donna Schlachter's guest post on Muse Monday for Discover... I love western movies and stories! And please read to the end for your chance at a free book. How cool is that?

Who doesn’t love an old western movie? The long rides into the sunset. Horses that do what you ask. People who help you out of a tough spot. The bad guy always gets what’s coming to him. And, of course, travel in a covered wagon is comfortable, convenient, and carefree. 

What’s that? Wrong!? 

But that’s the way movies show them, isn’t it? Rolling along across the flat prairie. Children skipping alongside. Butter churned by the end of the day. Complete dinners prepared over a campfire. Coffee always available. 

As any of the hundreds of thousands of westward emigrants could attest—and often did, in their journals, letters home, and books—covered wagons and their journeys weren’t as easy a way to journey as we think. 

In research my recent book, Calli, I discovered the following facts which I found very interesting:

n  Although most movies show Conestoga wagons, they were rarely used in the west because they were too heavy to pull up and down mountains. Instead, the small and lighter wagon, often a simple farm or cargo wagon, was used.

n  Oxen were used even more often than horses. Oxen are stronger, can pull for more hours a day, and are more durable than horses.

n  Clambering into a covered wagon involves getting your body up at least five feet above the ground. Step stools were rare, so unless somebody stood on the bed and hauled you up, your path usually involved the wheel hub, the top rim of the wheel, then gripping the side of the wagon and hoisting your leg over. All in a skirt and several layers of petticoats that reached to your ankles, if you’re a woman. 

About Calli:

Calli works as a nurse with the US Army at Fort Bridger, Wyoming in 1880. When a wagon train full of discouraged emigrants passes through on its way east, a pregnant widow delivers her baby then dies. Bradley Wilson, leading this train, has few options. He asks Calli to travel with them until they find a relative to take the child in St. Joe, Missouri. Calli, drawn to both this dark and quiet man and the child, resists. But when she disappears, he wonders if she’s run away or been kidnapped. Can these two put their pasts behind them and move into a new future together? Or will Calli insist on having things her own way? 

Buy link: 


April 30th, 1870

Twenty miles west of Fort Bridger, Wyoming Territory 

Bradley Wilson shielded his eyes from the burning sun and surveyed the trail ahead, thankful to be out of the wagon and stretching his legs. Eastward. He’d traveled this same trail two years before, heading in the opposite direction. What took him back now? Failure? No, more like disappointment. A cloud of dust as big as Kansas, kicked up by the prairie schooners ahead of him, blotted out whatever lay in that direction. Sweat dribbled down the center of his back. He longed to scratch but knew the action wouldn’t satisfy. Instead, he yanked a wrinkled ball of calico from his shirt pocket and swiped at his face. How a body could sweat so much in a land so empty of water was beyond him.

He wished he could guzzle the rest of his day’s ration. Or pour it over his head to cool his fevered brain. But neither would satisfy more than a second and a half. Wasting the precious commodity would haunt him.

Maybe he was too good for his own good.

Isn’t that what those who abandoned the wagon train had said? Right before they broke off on their own, forging ahead instead of waiting for Joe Collins to die? Two weeks it took. Fourteen days of listening to the man keen and holler night and day. And no amount of laudanum eased the pain of his broken back. Of his insides in knots, sewn back into place as best his wife could do.

Who knew a horse could drag a man for more’n three miles, and that person still survive? Even if for only a fortnight.

And Miz Collins, ready to drop her first young’un any minute.

Bradley shook his head and double-stepped ahead of his oxen. No, siree. Joe Collins was too good for this world. Along with his widow, Elspeth.

His oxen followed the team ahead as if he sat in the wagon and held the leads. He patted the muzzle of the one nearest him, Beau. The off-side lead, Bob, snorted.

“I know. You’re jealous. I’ll get you soon.”

The pair, purchased in St. Joseph two years prior, had carried him westward. Away from memories of the war. Hoping to find a better life. Away from his sweet Millicent. And their babe. Both now buried on a hill under a tree in east of the Missouri River. He should never have left them behind. Should have kept them safe. Away from the influenza.

But running wasn’t the answer. As he now understood. And so, he returned east, passing wagon trains of the hopeful and the excited and the naïve going the opposite direction every day. Them heading west, toward the new life he’d sought but never found.


Calliope Jeffers—or Calli, as she preferred—leaned over her patient. “You’re going to be fine.”

The woman, a private’s wife, her hair plastered to her forehead with sweat, panted. “Don’t feel like it. Hurts a lot.”

Calli propped the woman’s legs up so her feet lay flat on the tick mattress. “It will be over soon.”

The door creaked open, and an anxious face appeared in the space. The husband. “Is it done yet?”

Calli shook her head. “No, it’s hardly started. Go outside and wait.” She sat on a stool at the end of the bed and tugged a sheet over her patient’s legs. Even in this, she’d afford her whatever privacy she could. “Now, when you feel the next contraction, breathe through it like I showed you. Quick breaths. Understood?”

“Until the pain gets so bad, and my brain stops working.”

The mother-to-be did well until, as predicted, she stopped thinking. Her toes curled, and she bore down.

Time to distract her.

Calli’s eyeglasses steamed up from her own effort and the heat that had built during the day. Whoever thought that married couples should live on the second floor of a barn-style barracks, with paper-thin walls and a one-layer roof should be taken out and shot. She cleaned her glasses in her apron, then donned them again. “That was good. Next time, when you want to push, scream instead. Sing. Holler. Whatever works.”

Even two short years of experience taught Calli it was difficult to bear down and scream at the same time.

Two years. Is that all it was since she moved here to Fort Bridger and taken on her dream job? After graduating from nursing college, most of her class sought positions in city hospitals, hoping to find a handsome doctor to marry.

Not her. At twenty-one, she already had the man she wanted. And his assignment to Fort Bridger afforded her the opportunity to work with one of the best doctors in the territory. Such plans she had. Work. Learn. Have babies.

But then it all ended. Snatched away by a supposed accident. 

Giveaway: I will gift one lucky randomly-drawn winner with an ebook copy of Calli. Leave your answer to the following question AND include your email address cleverly disguised in this format: donna AT livebytheword DOT com  That way the spammers can’t find you, but we can! 

Question: What’s the strangest vehicle or method of conveyance you’ve ridden/driven in? For me, the moto-taxis in Lima Peru. 

About Donna:

A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 50 times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both. Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive 2 free ebooks simply for signing up for our free newsletter!

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Friday, July 15, 2022

How Do You Spell Relief? T-h-e E-n-d!

Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound... Walking away from a crash that would've killed a normal person... There really is light at the end of the tunnel... Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore... 

Unless you write books, it's hard to explain the huge relief that comes when you get the final version of the last novel of a series back from your editor. I am thrilled to announce the third book (eBook version) in The MacKenzie Chronicles is up for pre-order and will release on September 5, 2022. The print version should be available by July 25, 2022.

Curse of Wolf Falls sent me on a wild ride of research. Elidor MacKenzie isn't like any character I've written before. I've loved Joshua, Arizona since the first glimmer of the idea for The MacKenzie Chronicles crossed my mind - an 1800s mining community-turned-ghost-town, reborn hippie haven, and now tourist town clinging to the side of Spirit Mountain.

Reserve your copy now of the third story of The MacKenzie Chronicles, a suspenseful Arizona family saga, and have Curse of Wolf Falls delivered automatically to you on September 5.




And other Amazon sites worldwide.

Secrets can protect what the truth will destroy.  

Elidor MacKenzie has a gift she can't return—the ability to absorb the joy, pain, and suffering of others. She's spent her life running from what she considers her curse. Now, her best friend is dead, and she alone holds the key to an archaeological discovery that could destroy a culture. With newfound inner peace, Elidor has returned home to make amends and guard the secret revelation. But greed-driven scavengers have followed her. Once again, the energies of Joshua will stir the hurricane, with her at the deadly center.  

Jules never got over Elidor. Twenty years and a famous journalism career later, he's back in Joshua—and so is his first love. If his heart can stand the torture, he'll risk reviving their relationship. But saving Elidor from herself and the secret she won't give up may be the death of them both.  

With Jules by her side, Elidor is determined to outrun the scavengers, guard the secret, and renew their love. But fate is coming after her, and there's nowhere the couple can hide.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Reading and #Reviews (Mofina, Tan)

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 Panic Zone by Rick Mofina

A car crashes in Wyoming: A young mother is thrown clear of the devastating crash. Dazed, she sees a figure pull her son from the flames. Or does she? The police believe it's trauma playing tricks on the mind, until the woman hears a voice on the phone: “Your baby is alive.”

A bomb explodes in Rio de Janeiro: The heinous act kills ten people, including two journalists. Jack Gannon's assignment is to find out whether his colleagues were innocent victims or targets who got too close to a huge story.

A Caribbean cruise ends in horror: Doctors are desperate to identify the cause of a passenger's agonizing death. They turn to the world's top scientists, who fear that someone has resurrected their secret research. Research that is now being used as a deadly weapon.

With millions of lives at stake, experts work frantically against time. And as an anguished mother searches for her child and Jack Gannon pursues the truth, an unstoppable force hurls them all into the panic zone.


This story roped me in from the beginning. I did get irritated with the authorities not believing the young mother, over and over again. I kept thinking that couldn’t happen. But I took the leap of faith that they were convinced she was too traumatized to know what she saw. For a good part of the book, there are three story lines. Then they slowly merge. It’s a nail biter. If you can suspend belief for a while, you’ll enjoy the read. 



The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who's "saying" the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. "To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable." Forty years later the stories and history continue.

With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined. Mothers boast or despair over daughters, and daughters roll their eyes even as they feel the inextricable tightening of their matriarchal ties. Tan is an astute storyteller, enticing readers to immerse themselves into these lives of complexity and mystery.


I’ve been so busy writing, I've had little time for reading. I had to pull a book from my past to review. I read this book thirteen years ago. I can’t give it enough kudos. It’s a heart-tugger. It’s complex. It’s intriguing. Highly recommend.




Wednesday, July 13, 2022

The Next Stop is Dead by Jan Selbourne


Please welcome Jan Selbourne for an exciting glimpse into her story. Is it real? You judge...and enjoy!

Alison McLeod had no idea that getting into the train on a dreary Saturday afternoon would change her life and almost kill her. Seated at the end of the otherwise empty carriage are three men and at the next stop another man enters the carriage.  A few minutes later this man sits beside her and opens his newspaper. It takes Alison several seconds to absorb what he’s written on the inside page. ‘Don’t look up. Get out at the next stop. The man in the middle is dead.’   

Trapped in a carriage with four men, on a train going express through the next four stations. Alison is terrified, but she has no choice but trust this man until she can get out at the next stop.

Doug Stanford hastily introduces himself as they run to a phone to call the police. When the train is stopped and searched there’s no sign of the three men, nor has anyone else seen them. Worse, Alison and Doug are charged with wasting police time and disrupting public transport.

It’s an old newspaper photo and a visit from a security organization that convince Alison and Doug something is very wrong.  However, nothing prepares them for their capture at gunpoint and the discovery the three men on the Melbourne train go back to Europe’s dark days of Nazi occupation - and the man known as evil in uniform. 

Evil Lives in the Night: Two historical, suspense, noir novellas - Kindle edition by Selbourne, Jan, Krist, Anne. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @


Author’s note –

I grew up in Melbourne Australia. Years ago, my friend’s cousin was on an almost empty Melbourne train when another passenger wrote on his newspaper to get out at the next stop. A man seated between two others at the other end of the carriage was dead. When the police stopped and searched the train, the three men had vanished. It never made the news, nor did I hear anymore.  Was there a body or was it hushed up? It’s a story that begs an ending. 

Friday, July 8, 2022

#FearlessFriday Trip Across the Ocean by Miriam Newman


I've had many guests for Fearless Friday on Discover... and a few have surprised me with their fearlessness. But I have to say this piece from Miriam Newman will win favorite in my heart. Not only am I part Irish (my grandpa as opposed to her Nana) but to pick up and take off all by herself and then ending up an author in another phase of her life is magnificent. Enjoy today's fun post and get inspired! 

In 2009, I was forty-one years old.  I had married a little later in life to a man with five children and pursued a career as a social worker for eighteen years, interspersed with writing poetry in lieu of tackling a 100,000-word novel.  I wanted to write one, but life and finances had to take first place.  I was a very busy professional woman. 

All that changed when my husband was diagnosed with leukemia.   For four and a half years, I was his wife, his nurse, his chauffeur, his counselor and his business manager.   In addition, I encountered health problems of my own and had surgery three times in eighteen months.  Between his troubles and mine, sleep was something I got whenever I could and there were many times it didn’t come, which was when I read historical romance novels for some mental respite.  I could still name some of those books, but won’t!  My own muse, whom I had named Persephone after the Queen of Hell, took a sabbatical during those rough years and I assumed she was gone. 

When he passed, my husband left some amount of life insurance, and I stunned myself (and everyone else) by getting on a plane and flying to Ireland.  Mind you, though my grandmother had been born there, I didn’t know a soul.  She had only told me to go there, and I went. 

Soon, I knew a lot of people, especially in the pub nearest where I was staying.  It seemed that Persephone wasn’t gone.  She was in Ireland.  In between drinking Guinness donated because people thought it was great that somebody was writing a novel, I began scratching out my first one on yellow legal pads—no laptop for this girl.  I hauled those pads into a sheep pasture with a fantastic view of cliffs, gazing at the ocean my Irish Nana had crossed to America, knowing my heart had come home.  I found that despite the cost of a protracted stay in Ireland, I preferred a whole heart to money in the bank.  Ah, well, I was a writer after all. 

“The King’s Daughter” was the first of thirty-two novels.  It was first of a series now numbering six and is still my beloved and favorite, as well as my best seller.  Being a Lord of the Rings fan, of course I call it “My Precious.”

Born to a dying queen and an ambitious king, Tarabenthia is heir to the crown of Alcinia. Yet when the idyll of her childhood ends she will defy her father, tipping the balance in a world poised on the brink of destruction. In a time of war, what would you surrender in the name of love?












Amazon Author Page:


Monday, July 4, 2022

The Game Authors Play...What If? by Ellen Parker #romance


Readers, please welcome Ellen Parker to Muse Monday on Discover... It's always fun to hear how an author works at putting that story into book form. 

What if…?

I’ve never taken an official poll -- but my guess is this is the most frequent game played by authors. I know I ask myself this question a dozen or more times a day. At least it seems that often when plotting a book, writing the first draft, and changing major items for the second draft.

At the very beginning of Morning Tryst, I had the meet cute between my protagonists, but not much else. Many games of “What if…” later, I wrote a two page, first-person, background for each of them. Lots of this pertained to family of origin and education. This document was paragraphs of little things the author needs to know, but the reader is only interested in portions or hints as the story unfolds.

What if…the state of Missouri hires one photographer to update materials on all the state parks and historic sites?

What if…the bartender is actually a millionaire?

What if…the protagonists hold opposite views of family?

What if…I can visit some of these places, explore the ground, and write the experience? 


The Blurb

During a San Francisco visit, photographer Serena Carter sights arresting potential in the hotel bartender and invites him to model. Later, in San Diego, they meet at a beach, and she discovers his personality as fascinating as the images her camera captures.

Self-made millionaire Zack Sans usually avoids cameras. He prefers the world of scientific laboratories and engineering students. But something intrigues him about the petite photographer.

When realistic Serena accepts an opportunity to photograph Missouri State Parks in all seasons, she expects the budding friendship to die. Will Zack’s ties to Missouri overcome cyberstalking, a wildlife encounter, and opposite views of family?


Gently setting the pitcher on the bar, Serena pressed her hands flat against the smooth, cool surface to conceal their sudden tremble. “Our table…we need…a refill. Drinks and supreme chicken nacho platter.” She lowered her gaze from gray eyes behind wire-framed glasses past a clean-shaven chin to rest on a black-and-gold nametag. An instant later, she shifted her line of sight to his neck and confirmed her earlier glimpses. In the next blink, she widened her view. Lingering her gaze on his face for the next few seconds, she classified the radiating character marks around his eyes as more age than smile. Fifty? If correct, he was near to her own fifty-two years. Hiding a sigh, she broke the silence. “We have a tab.”

He reached for the dirty pitcher and glanced over her shoulder. “Table twenty, the one in the corner— with four thirsty ladies?”

“Affirmative. We’re celebrating.” She questioned her use of the word the instant it left her lips. Reminiscing. After a day filled with the memorial service and the commitment ceremony, the four remaining best buddies shared drinks, food, and conversation. During recent minutes, the topics shifted from fond memories to current circumstances with a sprinkle of future plans.

“Anything else?” He tapped the order on a touch screen and lifted a cocktail shaker.

Slipping one hand into a pocket, she fingered a business card and waited for him to face her again. “I want to shoot you, Zack.”

Buy links for Morning Tryst:




Raised in a household filled with books, it was only natural that Ellen Parker grew into an avid reader. She turned to writing as a second career and enjoys spinning the type of story which appeals to multiple generations. She encourages her readers to share her work with mother or daughter – or both.

Ellen currently lives in St. Louis. When not guiding characters to “happily ever after” she’s apt to be reading, walking in the neighborhood, or tending her tiny garden. 

Find Ellen on her website:

Facebook: (20+) Ellen Parker | Facebook

Twitter: (20) Ellen Parker (@eparkerwrites) / Twitter