excerpt

NYT Bestseller Anita Clenney Interview, Excerpt + Giveaway!

>Today, I welcome NYT and USA Today Bestseller Anita Clenney! Anita’s celebrating the release of her second book in the Highland Warrior series, Embrace The Highland Warrior. And we have a giveaway of a copy of the book and 5 custom handmade bookmarks. Simply comment to enter!

Anita, tell us about your upcoming release.

Here’s a blurb:

 Cody MacBain let the woman of his destiny slip away. A member of an ancient clan of Scottish warriors, he grew up beside Shay Logan as her secret protector, but his heart compelled him to become more. Until Shay’s true identity was revealed, and the fated pair’s chance was gone…

But danger will drive them back into each other’s arms…

Shay fell for the boy next door, suspecting nothing of the ancient secrets he guarded. After a stinging betrayal, she’s determined to banish the memories of her first love forever. But the past can’t let go, and the boy she once loved has returned to her a warrior determined to protect her from the unspeakable evil fate has planned…

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?
I love the emotion between Cody and Shay, the powerful connection they shared, and I love watching them try to reconnect now. They’ve changed so much, but the elements of their past are still there. I also love having all the warriors from Awaken helping them out. In the midst of turmoil and confusion, it gives a feel good element.

What sparked the idea for this book/series?
A dream.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?
A terrible betrayal, and secrets that will make your heart ache.

Why did you put these two together?
These two just seemed so natural. They belonged together, then all the secrets got in the way and messed up a good thing.

What is your strategy in creating villains?
I love my villains, one of them in particular. In fact, he’s so great I want to make him a hero. It’s either that or go back and do a prequel. His backstory is just wonderful. I don’t know how I come up with them. I can’t explain it. They’re just there. And I have so many of them. I love it.

What was the hardest part of this book to write and why?
Love scenes. I’m never sure how far I want to go.

Tell us something unusual about this book (i.e. in its creation, execution, production).
This second book was the first manuscript I ever wrote. It was originally a romantic suspense. I started writing the first book in this series, what is now Awaken, about six months later. When my agent saw Awaken, she said this is the one. She was right. She always is. I knew this had to be a series, and I realized that the first manuscript was the perfect second book of the series. So the first became second and the second became first.

What do you love most about this book/series?
I love this series. The warriors have become like family members to me. I love hidden treasure and secret things, old keys and graveyards and all those eerie things. They’re all in here. And I absolutely love that connection between a woman and a man that defies the universe to stop it.

Is there a message in this novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are some underlying messages. Evil doesn’t come up and say, “Hello, I’m evil.” But mostly, when readers pick up my books, I want them to laugh, cry, gasp, maybe even scream.

Does your novel have a theme? How did that come about?
I’m rotten at figuring out themes. It’s about Secret Warriors, Ancient Evil, and Destined Love. The series started with a dream and a very vivid imagination.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
If I had to choose…Elizabeth Peters who wrote the Amelia Peabody series.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
I think the stories I loved influenced me. I read, I felt, and I wanted to do it myself.

How does your family view your writing career?
They’re very supportive and proud of me. My husband is waiting for me to get rich and buy him a ranch.

What entity do you feel supports you most in your writing career outside of family members?
My critique partner, Dana Rodgers is amazing. She’s such a help to me.

How do you keep in touch with your readers?
Mostly email. It’s so great getting emails. That was something I wasn’t quite prepared for. What a thrill.

What is in your TBR pile?
I get a headache just thinking about it.

What would you like to tell readers?
Please buy my book…oh, you were serious. I adore this series, and I hope you do too. There are so many wonderful writers out there, that I cherish every reader who spends their hard earned money and time on me.

What is your preferred genre to read for pleasure?

I have varied tastes ranging from romance to mysteries. I love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and I also love Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.

Do you have a second career? (Yes, motherhood counts!)
If motherhood counts, I have two! I spend a lot of time with my hubby and kids, but I do write full time.

What did you do before you became a full-time writer?
I was staying home with the kids for a few years, but prior to that I worked in real estate, and I was an administrative assistant. I’ve also booked shows and traveled with Aztec Dancers.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Good storytelling, really nailing down the characters and the emotion.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started writing?
The importance of writing faster.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
No formulas. I get an idea (this series started with a dream) then I mull it over and as the story unfolds in my head I make lots of notes, and then I start writing. I usually have a synopsis before I start actually writing the story.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Only an imagination and some method of getting it down. Typewriter, computer, notepad.

How would you best describe your books?
Mysterious, suspenseful, romantic, adventurous, sprinkled with humor. I love blending genres.

What would you write if you could write anything you wanted to write?
I love this series, and I also love mysteries. I’m working on two mystery series now.

What do you most like about writing? Least like?
I love brainstorming, creating the plot twists for a story. Least like…promotion. I adore meeting readers, but I don’t like feeling as if I’m pushing my books.

Which is your favorite of the books you have written? Awaken is the story of my heart, but I also love Embrace. I don’t know. That’s sort of like asking which child you like better.

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
It’s been amazing to see my book on the shelf.

What would you say is your biggest writing quirk?
I find it hard to write if I’m not motivated.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Other than spending time with my family, I’m usually on some kind of obsessive kick. It might be collecting candle holders or mirrors. I can devote an unhealthy amount of time to those things.

What are your current projects?
This series, a paranormal romantic mystery series, and a cozy mystery series.

Do You Have Any Undiscovered Or Hidden Talents?
I can smell a TJ Maxx from a mile away. I’m like a TJ Maxx bloodhound.

Are You The Same Person You Were As A Child, Or Much Different?
I have a lot of the same characteristics, but now they’re molded in different ways.

Do You Believe That The Cup Is Half Empty Or Half Full?
Depends on the day, usually half full.

Favorite Midnight Snack?
Whatever is the quickest.

Are You An Introvert Or An Extrovert?
Introvert who loves people.

Are You A Window Person Or An Aisle Person?
Window.

Do You Like Short Or Long Hair On A Guy?
I like both, but I probably lean toward long.

Ever Hit A Jackpot On A Slot Machine?
No. I’ve never been gambling. I spend all my time and money at TJ Maxx.

Are You Afraid Of Heights?
Uncomfortable.

Do you prefer your mattress soft or hard?
Soft.

How many pillows do you like to sleep with?
Lots.

Do you believe in snipes?
Only if they’re named Wesley.

Which do you like more—rainy days or snowy days?
Snowy.

What is Your Favorite Beverage?
Diet Pepsi or Coke.

Are You A Heavy Or Light Sleeper?
Light.

Do You Have Any Phobias Or Fears?
Goofy ones. I don’t fear the real things that I should be afraid of.

Are you a night or a morning person?
NIGHT!!!

At The Beach Would You Rather Play In The Sand, Or Play In The Water?
I’ll dig in the sand for lost jewelry. Did I mention I love jewelry?

Do You Have A Recurring Dream? What Happens In It?
I do have recurring dreams, a few of them. It would take far too long to explain them since I don’t fully understand them.

Are You Usually Late, Early Or Right On Time?
Promptly 5 minutes late.

Where can we find you online?
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Blog
Goodreads
Redroom

About the Author

NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Anita Clenney writes paranormal romance and romantic suspense. Before giving herself over to the writing bug, she worked in a pickle factory and a preschool, booked shows for Aztec Fire Dancers, and has been a secretary, executive assistant, and a real estate agent. She lives with her husband and two children in suburban Virginia. To find out more information, please visit http://www.anitaclenney.com/, follow her on Twitter @anitaclenney, or like her on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/anitaclenneyAUTHOR.

Some places Embrace can be purchased:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Booksamillion
Apple

We’ll leave you with an excerpt from Embrace:

Cody sighed. Might as well get it over with. He removed the shackles, returned them, and bent over her. “Shay, wake up.”

Her eyes flew open. She planted both hands against his chest and shoved, knocking him on his back, then sprang on top of him. “How dare you handcuff me to a bed?” she yelled, punctuating each word with a shake that rattled his brain. He didn’t fight back. She had to get it out of her system, and he didn’t blame her. He’d be more than pissed if someone shackled him.

She landed a fist into his stomach, and the breath rushed out of him. Okay, enough was enough. He captured her hands and rolled, trapping her under him.

“Get off me, you oaf.”

“I’ll get off when you stop beating the snot out of me.”

She let out a war cry and lunged for his throat, teeth bared. Intrigued, he hesitated a second too long, and she sank her teeth into his neck. A jolt of desire shot straight to his groin. He’d never been one for the rough stuff, but damn! He pulled back before she could do more than leave a bruise. He trapped her legs with his and held her hands above her head, letting his full weight press her into the soft mattress. She still struggled but could move only enough to get him excited.

“I’m sorry, Shay. I had to do it. It was too dangerous to let you go traipsing through the woods. I had to keep you safe.”

“What if he was hiding in one of the other bedrooms and sneaked in here while I was handcuffed to the bed? You left me so I couldn’t even protect myself.”

“Lach heard him out in the woods, but that’s why I locked the door, just in case. If this guy had broken it down to get to you, you would’ve screamed, and I would’ve come running. I was never far from the house.” He’d heard every name she called him.

Her eyes still flashed fire, but her breath was steadier, and she kept glancing at his mouth. He thought that was a good thing. He wondered if she’d calmed enough not to hit him, because he should move. She had to notice the effect all the wiggling around was having on him. He felt her hips push against his, and he groaned. He relaxed his grip and lowered his head, letting his lips touch her chin. He kissed his way to her mouth, and she head butted him in the nose.

While the stars exploded in his head, she shoved him aside and bolted out the door. He jumped up and went after her as she pounded down the stairs. He caught up with her outside. She was swinging her purse like a whip, headed for the car.

“Where are you going?” he demanded.

“Get away from me.”

“You can’t leave.”

“Watch me.” She opened the door. “I’m tired of people hiding things from me. I thought you were going to stop. Now you’re handcuffing me to the bed.”

“I explained it to you.”

“Don’t touch me,” she said, jerking away when he grabbed her arm.

“You’re not leaving.”

Shay straightened her shoulders. “You can’t stop me.”

He grabbed her, tossed her over his shoulder, kicked the car door shut, and stomped up the steps.

“Put me down!” Shay kicked and twisted, cursing at him. He dumped her on her feet inside the door.

She blew her hair out of her face, and as soon as she could see, she threw a punch at his chin. He deflected it and grabbed her arm. “Stop hitting me.”

“How dare you throw me over your shoulder like some kind of caveman,” she spat, trying to wrench her arm free. It didn’t work, so she used her knee.

“Ah, not there.” Cody trapped her knee. “I made the mistake of letting you leave here nine years ago without listening to me. By God, I won’t do it again. You’ll listen if I have to sit on you,” he growled.

She drew back her other arm, and before she could throw the punch, he had her on the floor and was sitting astride her, pinning her wrists to the floor. She bucked and twisted, but he held her down. “We can do this all night if you want, but you’re going to listen to me this time.”

“Listen to more lies? You’re still hiding things from me. Like the fact that you have Nina’s entire house under surveillance. Like the fact that you’ve got a Bat Cave in your basement. Like the fact that you were in Scotland when the stalking started.”

“You think I’m your stalker?” he yelled. “Me! I’m trying to keep you alive. We’re all trying to keep you alive. That’s what the clan’s been doing your whole damned life, trying to keep you alive! And just like always, you’re making it hard as hell. Your father wasn’t a bloody spy, and that thing in your living room wasn’t a man!”

Anita’s publisher will give away one copy of Embrace the Highland Warrior, US and Canada only, please.  We’re also giving away 5 custom bookmarks!
The question is, besides reading, what’s your favorite thing to do?

>NYT Bestseller Anita Clenney Interview, Excerpt + Giveaway!

>Today, I welcome NYT and USA Today Bestseller Anita Clenney! Anita’s celebrating the release of her second book in the Highland Warrior series, Embrace The Highland Warrior. And we have a giveaway of a copy of the book and 5 custom handmade bookmarks. Simply comment to enter!

Anita, tell us about your upcoming release.

Here’s a blurb:

 Cody MacBain let the woman of his destiny slip away. A member of an ancient clan of Scottish warriors, he grew up beside Shay Logan as her secret protector, but his heart compelled him to become more. Until Shay’s true identity was revealed, and the fated pair’s chance was gone…

But danger will drive them back into each other’s arms…

Shay fell for the boy next door, suspecting nothing of the ancient secrets he guarded. After a stinging betrayal, she’s determined to banish the memories of her first love forever. But the past can’t let go, and the boy she once loved has returned to her a warrior determined to protect her from the unspeakable evil fate has planned…

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?
I love the emotion between Cody and Shay, the powerful connection they shared, and I love watching them try to reconnect now. They’ve changed so much, but the elements of their past are still there. I also love having all the warriors from Awaken helping them out. In the midst of turmoil and confusion, it gives a feel good element.

What sparked the idea for this book/series?
A dream.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?
A terrible betrayal, and secrets that will make your heart ache.

Why did you put these two together?
These two just seemed so natural. They belonged together, then all the secrets got in the way and messed up a good thing.

What is your strategy in creating villains?
I love my villains, one of them in particular. In fact, he’s so great I want to make him a hero. It’s either that or go back and do a prequel. His backstory is just wonderful. I don’t know how I come up with them. I can’t explain it. They’re just there. And I have so many of them. I love it.

What was the hardest part of this book to write and why?
Love scenes. I’m never sure how far I want to go.

Tell us something unusual about this book (i.e. in its creation, execution, production).
This second book was the first manuscript I ever wrote. It was originally a romantic suspense. I started writing the first book in this series, what is now Awaken, about six months later. When my agent saw Awaken, she said this is the one. She was right. She always is. I knew this had to be a series, and I realized that the first manuscript was the perfect second book of the series. So the first became second and the second became first.

What do you love most about this book/series?
I love this series. The warriors have become like family members to me. I love hidden treasure and secret things, old keys and graveyards and all those eerie things. They’re all in here. And I absolutely love that connection between a woman and a man that defies the universe to stop it.

Is there a message in this novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are some underlying messages. Evil doesn’t come up and say, “Hello, I’m evil.” But mostly, when readers pick up my books, I want them to laugh, cry, gasp, maybe even scream.

Does your novel have a theme? How did that come about?
I’m rotten at figuring out themes. It’s about Secret Warriors, Ancient Evil, and Destined Love. The series started with a dream and a very vivid imagination.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
If I had to choose…Elizabeth Peters who wrote the Amelia Peabody series.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
I think the stories I loved influenced me. I read, I felt, and I wanted to do it myself.

How does your family view your writing career?
They’re very supportive and proud of me. My husband is waiting for me to get rich and buy him a ranch.

What entity do you feel supports you most in your writing career outside of family members?
My critique partner, Dana Rodgers is amazing. She’s such a help to me.

How do you keep in touch with your readers?
Mostly email. It’s so great getting emails. That was something I wasn’t quite prepared for. What a thrill.

What is in your TBR pile?
I get a headache just thinking about it.

What would you like to tell readers?
Please buy my book…oh, you were serious. I adore this series, and I hope you do too. There are so many wonderful writers out there, that I cherish every reader who spends their hard earned money and time on me.

What is your preferred genre to read for pleasure?

I have varied tastes ranging from romance to mysteries. I love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and I also love Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.

Do you have a second career? (Yes, motherhood counts!)
If motherhood counts, I have two! I spend a lot of time with my hubby and kids, but I do write full time.

What did you do before you became a full-time writer?
I was staying home with the kids for a few years, but prior to that I worked in real estate, and I was an administrative assistant. I’ve also booked shows and traveled with Aztec Dancers.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Good storytelling, really nailing down the characters and the emotion.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started writing?
The importance of writing faster.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
No formulas. I get an idea (this series started with a dream) then I mull it over and as the story unfolds in my head I make lots of notes, and then I start writing. I usually have a synopsis before I start actually writing the story.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Only an imagination and some method of getting it down. Typewriter, computer, notepad.

How would you best describe your books?
Mysterious, suspenseful, romantic, adventurous, sprinkled with humor. I love blending genres.

What would you write if you could write anything you wanted to write?
I love this series, and I also love mysteries. I’m working on two mystery series now.

What do you most like about writing? Least like?
I love brainstorming, creating the plot twists for a story. Least like…promotion. I adore meeting readers, but I don’t like feeling as if I’m pushing my books.

Which is your favorite of the books you have written? Awaken is the story of my heart, but I also love Embrace. I don’t know. That’s sort of like asking which child you like better.

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
It’s been amazing to see my book on the shelf.

What would you say is your biggest writing quirk?
I find it hard to write if I’m not motivated.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Other than spending time with my family, I’m usually on some kind of obsessive kick. It might be collecting candle holders or mirrors. I can devote an unhealthy amount of time to those things.

What are your current projects?
This series, a paranormal romantic mystery series, and a cozy mystery series.

Do You Have Any Undiscovered Or Hidden Talents?
I can smell a TJ Maxx from a mile away. I’m like a TJ Maxx bloodhound.

Are You The Same Person You Were As A Child, Or Much Different?
I have a lot of the same characteristics, but now they’re molded in different ways.

Do You Believe That The Cup Is Half Empty Or Half Full?
Depends on the day, usually half full.

Favorite Midnight Snack?
Whatever is the quickest.

Are You An Introvert Or An Extrovert?
Introvert who loves people.

Are You A Window Person Or An Aisle Person?
Window.

Do You Like Short Or Long Hair On A Guy?
I like both, but I probably lean toward long.

Ever Hit A Jackpot On A Slot Machine?
No. I’ve never been gambling. I spend all my time and money at TJ Maxx.

Are You Afraid Of Heights?
Uncomfortable.

Do you prefer your mattress soft or hard?
Soft.

How many pillows do you like to sleep with?
Lots.

Do you believe in snipes?
Only if they’re named Wesley.

Which do you like more—rainy days or snowy days?
Snowy.

What is Your Favorite Beverage?
Diet Pepsi or Coke.

Are You A Heavy Or Light Sleeper?
Light.

Do You Have Any Phobias Or Fears?
Goofy ones. I don’t fear the real things that I should be afraid of.

Are you a night or a morning person?
NIGHT!!!

At The Beach Would You Rather Play In The Sand, Or Play In The Water?
I’ll dig in the sand for lost jewelry. Did I mention I love jewelry?

Do You Have A Recurring Dream? What Happens In It?
I do have recurring dreams, a few of them. It would take far too long to explain them since I don’t fully understand them.

Are You Usually Late, Early Or Right On Time?
Promptly 5 minutes late.

Where can we find you online?
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Blog
Goodreads
Redroom

About the Author

NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Anita Clenney writes paranormal romance and romantic suspense. Before giving herself over to the writing bug, she worked in a pickle factory and a preschool, booked shows for Aztec Fire Dancers, and has been a secretary, executive assistant, and a real estate agent. She lives with her husband and two children in suburban Virginia. To find out more information, please visit http://www.anitaclenney.com/, follow her on Twitter @anitaclenney, or like her on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/anitaclenneyAUTHOR.

Some places Embrace can be purchased:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Booksamillion
Apple

We’ll leave you with an excerpt from Embrace:

Cody sighed. Might as well get it over with. He removed the shackles, returned them, and bent over her. “Shay, wake up.”

Her eyes flew open. She planted both hands against his chest and shoved, knocking him on his back, then sprang on top of him. “How dare you handcuff me to a bed?” she yelled, punctuating each word with a shake that rattled his brain. He didn’t fight back. She had to get it out of her system, and he didn’t blame her. He’d be more than pissed if someone shackled him.

She landed a fist into his stomach, and the breath rushed out of him. Okay, enough was enough. He captured her hands and rolled, trapping her under him.

“Get off me, you oaf.”

“I’ll get off when you stop beating the snot out of me.”

She let out a war cry and lunged for his throat, teeth bared. Intrigued, he hesitated a second too long, and she sank her teeth into his neck. A jolt of desire shot straight to his groin. He’d never been one for the rough stuff, but damn! He pulled back before she could do more than leave a bruise. He trapped her legs with his and held her hands above her head, letting his full weight press her into the soft mattress. She still struggled but could move only enough to get him excited.

“I’m sorry, Shay. I had to do it. It was too dangerous to let you go traipsing through the woods. I had to keep you safe.”

“What if he was hiding in one of the other bedrooms and sneaked in here while I was handcuffed to the bed? You left me so I couldn’t even protect myself.”

“Lach heard him out in the woods, but that’s why I locked the door, just in case. If this guy had broken it down to get to you, you would’ve screamed, and I would’ve come running. I was never far from the house.” He’d heard every name she called him.

Her eyes still flashed fire, but her breath was steadier, and she kept glancing at his mouth. He thought that was a good thing. He wondered if she’d calmed enough not to hit him, because he should move. She had to notice the effect all the wiggling around was having on him. He felt her hips push against his, and he groaned. He relaxed his grip and lowered his head, letting his lips touch her chin. He kissed his way to her mouth, and she head butted him in the nose.

While the stars exploded in his head, she shoved him aside and bolted out the door. He jumped up and went after her as she pounded down the stairs. He caught up with her outside. She was swinging her purse like a whip, headed for the car.

“Where are you going?” he demanded.

“Get away from me.”

“You can’t leave.”

“Watch me.” She opened the door. “I’m tired of people hiding things from me. I thought you were going to stop. Now you’re handcuffing me to the bed.”

“I explained it to you.”

“Don’t touch me,” she said, jerking away when he grabbed her arm.

“You’re not leaving.”

Shay straightened her shoulders. “You can’t stop me.”

He grabbed her, tossed her over his shoulder, kicked the car door shut, and stomped up the steps.

“Put me down!” Shay kicked and twisted, cursing at him. He dumped her on her feet inside the door.

She blew her hair out of her face, and as soon as she could see, she threw a punch at his chin. He deflected it and grabbed her arm. “Stop hitting me.”

“How dare you throw me over your shoulder like some kind of caveman,” she spat, trying to wrench her arm free. It didn’t work, so she used her knee.

“Ah, not there.” Cody trapped her knee. “I made the mistake of letting you leave here nine years ago without listening to me. By God, I won’t do it again. You’ll listen if I have to sit on you,” he growled.

She drew back her other arm, and before she could throw the punch, he had her on the floor and was sitting astride her, pinning her wrists to the floor. She bucked and twisted, but he held her down. “We can do this all night if you want, but you’re going to listen to me this time.”

“Listen to more lies? You’re still hiding things from me. Like the fact that you have Nina’s entire house under surveillance. Like the fact that you’ve got a Bat Cave in your basement. Like the fact that you were in Scotland when the stalking started.”

“You think I’m your stalker?” he yelled. “Me! I’m trying to keep you alive. We’re all trying to keep you alive. That’s what the clan’s been doing your whole damned life, trying to keep you alive! And just like always, you’re making it hard as hell. Your father wasn’t a bloody spy, and that thing in your living room wasn’t a man!”

Anita’s publisher will give away one copy of Embrace the Highland Warrior, US and Canada only, please.  We’re also giving away 5 custom bookmarks!
The question is, besides reading, what’s your favorite thing to do?

Review, Interview + Giveaway with Jody Hedlund & The Doctor’s Lady

>Jody Hedlund is one of the fabulous authors I met on Twitter. I’ve admired her thoughts on writing, the writing life and developing a career as an author. I’ve appreciated the genuine warmth and sincerity that comes across even online.

Leave a comment or question for Jody to enter for one of these prizes:
1) A copy of The Doctor’s Lady
2) 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks
Open Internationally

The Doctor’s Lady released early September and I was lucky enough to receive and early copy for review. This is the first novel I’ve read by Jody, but it won’t be the last. Her debut, The Preacher’s Bride, is near the very top of my TBR pile. And I was thrilled to hear recently that we will all be blessed with more of Jody’s talent as she has secured a three book deal with Bethany House. (YAY Jody! Congratulations!)

The Doctor’s Lady

Priscilla White knows she’ll never be a wife or mother and feels God’s call to the mission field in India. Dr. Eli Ernest is back from Oregon Country only long enough to raise awareness of missions to the natives before heading out West once more. But then Priscilla and Eli both receive news from the mission board: No longer will they send unmarried men and women into the field.

Left scrambling for options, the two realize the other might be the answer to their needs. Priscilla and Eli agree to a partnership, a marriage in name only that will allow them to follow God’s leading into the mission field. But as they journey west, this decision will be tested by the hardships of the trip and by the unexpected turnings of their hearts.

Review:
This novel was so much more than I expected.  As inspirational romance is not a genre I read often, I suppose my expectations were a bit out of whack. 🙂  Going off the cover, the cover copy, the genre, the publisher I was ready for a light love story and lots of rich historical fact. 

Boy, did I underestimate!  The Doctor’s Lady went above and beyond my every expectation.

While the cover copy explains the external conflict that fuels the hero and heroine’s cross-country journey and hints at a touch of romance, it doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of all the depth beneath the cover.  The Doctor’s Lady is filled with characters so real I often felt as if I could reach out and touch them; their struggles so universal, every human being could relate on some level. Their commitment to fulfill their God-given calling while struggling against broken hearts, dashed dreams and dimmed hopes created strong internal conflicts while the untamed Western lands and the hardships they brought created a very real, very threatening external antagonist. 

Click for larger view

The Doctor’s Lady is filled with sigh-worthy moments–those turning points, sometimes epiphanies, sometimes small flickers of revelation, when the hero or heroine would make a self discovery which would bring them closer to the other–a relationship the reader can see is part of the reason God brought them together on this mission, but one neither character is willing to give in to.

The hero, Eli Earnest, has a wonderful character arc.  His stubbornness and preconceived ideas give way to a new perspective and a fresh respect for not only the heroine, Priscilla, but for women in general, seeing them as strong individuals rather than his previous opinion of them as “liabilities” because of their weaknesses.  The reader also gets to watch him slowly fall in love with Priscilla, all while he ignores the signs.

Priscilla starts out strong, but becomes even stronger as the book moves forward.  One of the things I loved about the heroine was the way she could be so very strong, yet never need to overpower or bully or use harshness to show her strength.  She never lost that feminine softness, no matter how rough the road became, as that made me respect her all the more–woman to woman.  I found it especially enjoyable to watch her grow stronger in one aspect of her personality while softening in another to allow Eli into her heart.  A very complex character growth that Jody portrayed artistically.

Through it all, the external conflict never wained.  At every turn in the road, every fork in the path, new conflict arose, testing the characters will, their determination, their commitment all while showing their internal growth. 

I’m a picky reader.  Someone who has to have something pushing me forward to the next page–personal conflict, character growth, plot twists, action.  I won’t hang out for lingering description, although I value beautiful prose.  I’m not patient enough to wade through paragraphs of historical facts, no matter how fascinating.  I need stuff (a highly technical term) to happen–internally, externally, it doesn’t matter.  But something has to happen to get me to move forward.

I couldn’t stop moving forward with Jody’s book.  There were nights I purposely didn’t pick up the book because I knew I wouldn’t put it down and I had to get sleep for work the next day.

Oh, and don’t let the genre fool you…Jody is absolutely fabulous with sexual tension.  The attraction between these two sparks from the beginning and the heat only grows throughout the story.  But one of the elements that makes that desire so strong between them is the development of their emotional bond along the journey.  Their attraction and love for each other is truly a beautiful thing to watch grow in front of your eyes.

And I’m thrilled with the excerpt she chose to post because it’s one of my favorite moments in the book.  I think it’s the moment my heart completely opened to Eli and I knew Priscilla’s would too.  This excerpt is the perfect example of so many passages in The Doctor’s Lady that gave me “Ahhh” moments.

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?

I had a lot of fun writing the wedding night scene. Because Eli and Priscilla agreed to a marriage in name only, they have no plans to consummate their marriage. However, nobody else knows their secret. And so after the wedding, Priscilla’s mother and sister help her get ready for her first night with her new husband. They turn back the covers on the bed, brush her hair, and give her instructions on what to expect. While they’re doing this, Priscilla gets really nervous. And a little later when Eli finally comes into the room and sees her in her nightgown with her hair down, he gets nervous too.

I enjoyed exploring the growing attraction between them, the awkwardness of being thrust together in the same bedroom (after only knowing each other for about a week), and then watching them figure out how they’re going to handle the physical aspect of their relationship for the duration of their trip West.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?

One of the biggest conflicts is that Eli, the hero, didn’t want to have to take a woman to the West. He thinks it’s too dangerous and would rather go alone. However, in order to start the mission to the Nez Perce (and receive funding for the trip), the Mission Board leaves him with little choice—he either must take a wife or give up his dream of going west.

Priscilla, the heroine, on the other hand, wants to prove that she is strong enough for such a trip and life in the west. She believes she has all of the qualities necessary. However, as the trip progresses, they face one life-threatening danger after another but meanwhile begin to fall in love. Eli’s growing love for Priscilla only makes him all the more determined to keep her safe. He’s even decided to give her an annulment and send her back home if needed. 

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?

If I had to pick one person who has been the most instrumental in shaping my writing career, I’d have to single out my mom. When I was growing up, she facilitated an environment that fostered my love of writing and my creativity. She read a lot to me, allowed time for plenty of free play, believed in me, taught me to work hard, and encouraged me to dream big. Because of that, I grew up knowing I could do anything I set my mind to. Even today, she’s still a huge part of my writing career, cheering me on and encouraging me in countless ways.

What is your writing routine?

Since I have 5 children ranging in ages from 6 to 14, I have often have trouble finding uninterrupted writing time! But usually I try to carve out a couple of hours each afternoon to meet my daily word count goal (or chapters when I’m editing). Whatever I don’t finish during the afternoon, I come back to after my kids are in bed.

I also have a couple of mornings a week where I get a few extra hours of writing time, and I also take the entire day on Saturday to write.

Which do you like more—rainy days or snowy days?

I’m going to have to say rainy days. I love the blowing wind and the way the leaves and raindrops patter against the house. On those dark days, I light scented candles and drink hot tea.

And while I like snowy days too (I am a Mid-Western girl born and bred!), by the end of the winter I get tired of all of the shoveling that we have to do!

Where can readers find you?

I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund
I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund
My home base is at my website: jodyhedlund.com

Excerpt from Chapter 5 of The Doctor’s Lady by Jody Hedlund:

(When Eli knows he has to ask Priscilla to marry him in order to fulfill his dream of going west. He sneaks into the classroom where she is teaching and . . .)

A burst of laughter near the back of the narrow schoolroom finally commanded her return to earth and to her classroom.
“Now, children. You are disobeying our rule for silence.” Her gaze lingered on the board for a second longer before she tore herself away and pivoted to face the class.
The younger children perched in their desks near the front of the room, and the older children sat in the back near the entrance—mostly the girls who weren’t privileged enough to attend Female Academy in Troy where she’d done a significant amount of her schooling.
The students’ wide smiles greeted her, and the sunshine pouring in the large windows lit their faces. She had only to follow their glances to the back row to see the source of their laughter.
Her fingers flew to the cameo at her neck.
With his long legs tucked awkwardly under a desk and his hand raised, Dr. Ernest watched her with a solemn expression that didn’t match the merriment in his eyes.
“Miss White.” He lowered his hand. “I have a question.”
She stared at him speechless, a strange mixture of excitement and apprehension stirring in her stomach.
“Some scientists say that Ceres isn’t really a planet.” He hunched his back to fit onto the small bench, and his knees pushed against the flimsy desk top. “After all, it’s located in the asteroid belt.”
What was he doing back in Angelica? And how had he managed to sneak into the school without her hearing him?
His shirt and waistcoat were crisp and clean. Without his hat, the wild, untamable waves of his hair had rebelled against his obvious attempts to smooth them down. He’d shaven the shadowy layer of stubble, but his smooth, tan skin had a scruffiness he couldn’t shed. He was as well groomed as any gentleman she’d ever met. But for all his efforts, there was still something rugged about him—and something dangerously appealing.
Her hand fluttered to the wisps of hair that floated about her face. Surely he wasn’t back to carry out Mother’s marriage charade.
Even from the furthest row of the classroom, his winter blue eyes caught hers with their intensity. For a long moment she couldn’t breathe. Nor could she look away. He was a flame, and she was the little girl who’d been warned not to touch. Only she couldn’t remember why she ought to stay away, especially when every nerve in her body urged her to reach out.
“And Ceres is too small.” A grin teased the corner of his mouth, almost as if he knew he was getting the reaction from her he’d intended.
She forced herself to start breathing again, calmly. If he thought he could steal into her classroom and flirt with her, then just wait until she joined in. She’d had plenty of practice in her younger days, when she’d been much more carefree. He’d be no match for her ability to beguile.
“Why, Dr. Ernest.” She tilted her head. “You said you had a question. And all I’ve heard are statements.
 “Excuse me, Miss White.” His grin widened. “Course, you’re right.”
She lifted her lips into her sweetest, most practiced smile. “Would you like to try rephrasing your statement and show the children how to ask a proper question?”
“Certainly,” he drawled. “For such a pretty lady like you, how could any man say no?”
The older girls tittered. Their flashing smiles and flushed cheeks were evidence they had already fallen prey to his winsome ways.
She braced herself. He wouldn’t so easily sway her. After all, he’d made it quite clear he wasn’t interested in her.
“So . . . ” he started.
If he wasn’t back because of her, why was he sitting in her classroom intent upon engaging her in playful banter?
“So, my question is this.” A shadow filtered through his eyes and snuffed the laughter in them, making them too serious. And when he extricated his legs from the desk, instead of rising to his feet, he lowered himself into the aisle onto one knee.
She stifled a shiver.
“Miss White?” His gaze found her again.
The intensity sent her heart into wild dash. Her fingers went back to her throat, to the delicate cameo, to the pattering of her pulse beneath.
His eyes spoke the words before he could get them out. “Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”
©Jody Hedlund, 2011
Leave a comment or question for Jody to enter for one of these prizes:
1) A copy of The Doctor’s Lady
2) 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks
Open Internationally
*MUST* Leave a contact email to WIN!
If you have trouble commenting try :
~ a different browser
~ leaving a comment w name and URL
~ leaving comment as annonymous w email/name in message
~ email me and I’ll post your comment (joan @ joanswan.com)


Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling book, The Preacher’s Bride. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children. Her second book, The Doctor’s Lady released in September 2011.

>Review, Interview + Giveaway with Jody Hedlund & The Doctor’s Lady

>Jody Hedlund is one of the fabulous authors I met on Twitter. I’ve admired her thoughts on writing, the writing life and developing a career as an author. I’ve appreciated the genuine warmth and sincerity that comes across even online.

Leave a comment or question for Jody to enter for one of these prizes:
1) A copy of The Doctor’s Lady
2) 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks
Open Internationally

The Doctor’s Lady released early September and I was lucky enough to receive and early copy for review. This is the first novel I’ve read by Jody, but it won’t be the last. Her debut, The Preacher’s Bride, is near the very top of my TBR pile. And I was thrilled to hear recently that we will all be blessed with more of Jody’s talent as she has secured a three book deal with Bethany House. (YAY Jody! Congratulations!)

The Doctor’s Lady

Priscilla White knows she’ll never be a wife or mother and feels God’s call to the mission field in India. Dr. Eli Ernest is back from Oregon Country only long enough to raise awareness of missions to the natives before heading out West once more. But then Priscilla and Eli both receive news from the mission board: No longer will they send unmarried men and women into the field.

Left scrambling for options, the two realize the other might be the answer to their needs. Priscilla and Eli agree to a partnership, a marriage in name only that will allow them to follow God’s leading into the mission field. But as they journey west, this decision will be tested by the hardships of the trip and by the unexpected turnings of their hearts.

Review:
This novel was so much more than I expected.  As inspirational romance is not a genre I read often, I suppose my expectations were a bit out of whack. 🙂  Going off the cover, the cover copy, the genre, the publisher I was ready for a light love story and lots of rich historical fact. 

Boy, did I underestimate!  The Doctor’s Lady went above and beyond my every expectation.

While the cover copy explains the external conflict that fuels the hero and heroine’s cross-country journey and hints at a touch of romance, it doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of all the depth beneath the cover.  The Doctor’s Lady is filled with characters so real I often felt as if I could reach out and touch them; their struggles so universal, every human being could relate on some level. Their commitment to fulfill their God-given calling while struggling against broken hearts, dashed dreams and dimmed hopes created strong internal conflicts while the untamed Western lands and the hardships they brought created a very real, very threatening external antagonist. 

Click for larger view

The Doctor’s Lady is filled with sigh-worthy moments–those turning points, sometimes epiphanies, sometimes small flickers of revelation, when the hero or heroine would make a self discovery which would bring them closer to the other–a relationship the reader can see is part of the reason God brought them together on this mission, but one neither character is willing to give in to.

The hero, Eli Earnest, has a wonderful character arc.  His stubbornness and preconceived ideas give way to a new perspective and a fresh respect for not only the heroine, Priscilla, but for women in general, seeing them as strong individuals rather than his previous opinion of them as “liabilities” because of their weaknesses.  The reader also gets to watch him slowly fall in love with Priscilla, all while he ignores the signs.

Priscilla starts out strong, but becomes even stronger as the book moves forward.  One of the things I loved about the heroine was the way she could be so very strong, yet never need to overpower or bully or use harshness to show her strength.  She never lost that feminine softness, no matter how rough the road became, as that made me respect her all the more–woman to woman.  I found it especially enjoyable to watch her grow stronger in one aspect of her personality while softening in another to allow Eli into her heart.  A very complex character growth that Jody portrayed artistically.

Through it all, the external conflict never wained.  At every turn in the road, every fork in the path, new conflict arose, testing the characters will, their determination, their commitment all while showing their internal growth. 

I’m a picky reader.  Someone who has to have something pushing me forward to the next page–personal conflict, character growth, plot twists, action.  I won’t hang out for lingering description, although I value beautiful prose.  I’m not patient enough to wade through paragraphs of historical facts, no matter how fascinating.  I need stuff (a highly technical term) to happen–internally, externally, it doesn’t matter.  But something has to happen to get me to move forward.

I couldn’t stop moving forward with Jody’s book.  There were nights I purposely didn’t pick up the book because I knew I wouldn’t put it down and I had to get sleep for work the next day.

Oh, and don’t let the genre fool you…Jody is absolutely fabulous with sexual tension.  The attraction between these two sparks from the beginning and the heat only grows throughout the story.  But one of the elements that makes that desire so strong between them is the development of their emotional bond along the journey.  Their attraction and love for each other is truly a beautiful thing to watch grow in front of your eyes.

And I’m thrilled with the excerpt she chose to post because it’s one of my favorite moments in the book.  I think it’s the moment my heart completely opened to Eli and I knew Priscilla’s would too.  This excerpt is the perfect example of so many passages in The Doctor’s Lady that gave me “Ahhh” moments.

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?

I had a lot of fun writing the wedding night scene. Because Eli and Priscilla agreed to a marriage in name only, they have no plans to consummate their marriage. However, nobody else knows their secret. And so after the wedding, Priscilla’s mother and sister help her get ready for her first night with her new husband. They turn back the covers on the bed, brush her hair, and give her instructions on what to expect. While they’re doing this, Priscilla gets really nervous. And a little later when Eli finally comes into the room and sees her in her nightgown with her hair down, he gets nervous too.

I enjoyed exploring the growing attraction between them, the awkwardness of being thrust together in the same bedroom (after only knowing each other for about a week), and then watching them figure out how they’re going to handle the physical aspect of their relationship for the duration of their trip West.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?

One of the biggest conflicts is that Eli, the hero, didn’t want to have to take a woman to the West. He thinks it’s too dangerous and would rather go alone. However, in order to start the mission to the Nez Perce (and receive funding for the trip), the Mission Board leaves him with little choice—he either must take a wife or give up his dream of going west.

Priscilla, the heroine, on the other hand, wants to prove that she is strong enough for such a trip and life in the west. She believes she has all of the qualities necessary. However, as the trip progresses, they face one life-threatening danger after another but meanwhile begin to fall in love. Eli’s growing love for Priscilla only makes him all the more determined to keep her safe. He’s even decided to give her an annulment and send her back home if needed. 

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?

If I had to pick one person who has been the most instrumental in shaping my writing career, I’d have to single out my mom. When I was growing up, she facilitated an environment that fostered my love of writing and my creativity. She read a lot to me, allowed time for plenty of free play, believed in me, taught me to work hard, and encouraged me to dream big. Because of that, I grew up knowing I could do anything I set my mind to. Even today, she’s still a huge part of my writing career, cheering me on and encouraging me in countless ways.

What is your writing routine?

Since I have 5 children ranging in ages from 6 to 14, I have often have trouble finding uninterrupted writing time! But usually I try to carve out a couple of hours each afternoon to meet my daily word count goal (or chapters when I’m editing). Whatever I don’t finish during the afternoon, I come back to after my kids are in bed.

I also have a couple of mornings a week where I get a few extra hours of writing time, and I also take the entire day on Saturday to write.

Which do you like more—rainy days or snowy days?

I’m going to have to say rainy days. I love the blowing wind and the way the leaves and raindrops patter against the house. On those dark days, I light scented candles and drink hot tea.

And while I like snowy days too (I am a Mid-Western girl born and bred!), by the end of the winter I get tired of all of the shoveling that we have to do!

Where can readers find you?

I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund
I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund
My home base is at my website: jodyhedlund.com

Excerpt from Chapter 5 of The Doctor’s Lady by Jody Hedlund:

(When Eli knows he has to ask Priscilla to marry him in order to fulfill his dream of going west. He sneaks into the classroom where she is teaching and . . .)

A burst of laughter near the back of the narrow schoolroom finally commanded her return to earth and to her classroom.
“Now, children. You are disobeying our rule for silence.” Her gaze lingered on the board for a second longer before she tore herself away and pivoted to face the class.
The younger children perched in their desks near the front of the room, and the older children sat in the back near the entrance—mostly the girls who weren’t privileged enough to attend Female Academy in Troy where she’d done a significant amount of her schooling.
The students’ wide smiles greeted her, and the sunshine pouring in the large windows lit their faces. She had only to follow their glances to the back row to see the source of their laughter.
Her fingers flew to the cameo at her neck.
With his long legs tucked awkwardly under a desk and his hand raised, Dr. Ernest watched her with a solemn expression that didn’t match the merriment in his eyes.
“Miss White.” He lowered his hand. “I have a question.”
She stared at him speechless, a strange mixture of excitement and apprehension stirring in her stomach.
“Some scientists say that Ceres isn’t really a planet.” He hunched his back to fit onto the small bench, and his knees pushed against the flimsy desk top. “After all, it’s located in the asteroid belt.”
What was he doing back in Angelica? And how had he managed to sneak into the school without her hearing him?
His shirt and waistcoat were crisp and clean. Without his hat, the wild, untamable waves of his hair had rebelled against his obvious attempts to smooth them down. He’d shaven the shadowy layer of stubble, but his smooth, tan skin had a scruffiness he couldn’t shed. He was as well groomed as any gentleman she’d ever met. But for all his efforts, there was still something rugged about him—and something dangerously appealing.
Her hand fluttered to the wisps of hair that floated about her face. Surely he wasn’t back to carry out Mother’s marriage charade.
Even from the furthest row of the classroom, his winter blue eyes caught hers with their intensity. For a long moment she couldn’t breathe. Nor could she look away. He was a flame, and she was the little girl who’d been warned not to touch. Only she couldn’t remember why she ought to stay away, especially when every nerve in her body urged her to reach out.
“And Ceres is too small.” A grin teased the corner of his mouth, almost as if he knew he was getting the reaction from her he’d intended.
She forced herself to start breathing again, calmly. If he thought he could steal into her classroom and flirt with her, then just wait until she joined in. She’d had plenty of practice in her younger days, when she’d been much more carefree. He’d be no match for her ability to beguile.
“Why, Dr. Ernest.” She tilted her head. “You said you had a question. And all I’ve heard are statements.
 “Excuse me, Miss White.” His grin widened. “Course, you’re right.”
She lifted her lips into her sweetest, most practiced smile. “Would you like to try rephrasing your statement and show the children how to ask a proper question?”
“Certainly,” he drawled. “For such a pretty lady like you, how could any man say no?”
The older girls tittered. Their flashing smiles and flushed cheeks were evidence they had already fallen prey to his winsome ways.
She braced herself. He wouldn’t so easily sway her. After all, he’d made it quite clear he wasn’t interested in her.
“So . . . ” he started.
If he wasn’t back because of her, why was he sitting in her classroom intent upon engaging her in playful banter?
“So, my question is this.” A shadow filtered through his eyes and snuffed the laughter in them, making them too serious. And when he extricated his legs from the desk, instead of rising to his feet, he lowered himself into the aisle onto one knee.
She stifled a shiver.
“Miss White?” His gaze found her again.
The intensity sent her heart into wild dash. Her fingers went back to her throat, to the delicate cameo, to the pattering of her pulse beneath.
His eyes spoke the words before he could get them out. “Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”
©Jody Hedlund, 2011
Leave a comment or question for Jody to enter for one of these prizes:
1) A copy of The Doctor’s Lady
2) 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks
Open Internationally
*MUST* Leave a contact email to WIN!
If you have trouble commenting try :
~ a different browser
~ leaving a comment w name and URL
~ leaving comment as annonymous w email/name in message
~ email me and I’ll post your comment (joan @ joanswan.com)


Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling book, The Preacher’s Bride. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children. Her second book, The Doctor’s Lady released in September 2011.

RITA nominee Dana Marton Excerpt + Giveaway

>

Many of you may have run across my guest today.  Dana Marton is not only a multi-published author (27 books now!), but she also runs www.prizesforreaders.com!  A girl after my own heart!!

Today, Dana offers an excerpt of her June release, GUARDIAN AGENT. 
And she’s GIVING AWAY an ecopy of the full book as well!!
Just comment to enter! (Open Internationally)

Guardian Agent

Chapter One

Dark waters lapped the century-old palace’s foundation, eager to claim the forgotten building on one of Venice’s backstreet canals. At four on the February morning, tourists still partied on in the distance, drunk on love, youth and full-bodied Italian wine. Gabe Cannon could hear both the water and the faint beat of the music, but he couldn’t hear the half dozen men in the building with him. His new commando team spread out like ghosts moving through the night.

“Target on the roof,” the team leader’s voice whispered in his earpiece.

He stole up the crumbling stairs, ready for the rogue soldier who needed to be brought in before he caused more damage. He’d known Jake Tekla ten years ago in the army–a decent guy back then, but war could change a person, could even twist a man’s mind.

Static hissed in his earpiece before the words, “Kill order authorized. Repeat, authorized to shoot on sight.”

His instincts prickled. Standard procedure called for an attempt to capture first, and see what information they could gain during interrogation. Usable intelligence trumped a quick kill, every time. Then again, he worked for a private security firm now: XO-ST. Xtreme Ops Shadow Teams. They did things differently than his previous employers, the army and the FBI.

Gabe reached the roof. Plywood patches formed a psychedelic pattern in the moonlight—an unexpected break. Not having to sneak around on crumbling Mediterranean roof tiles would make this much easier. He stole forward and eased into the cover of a crooked chimney stack.

He caught a silent shadow at the door he’d come through–Troy, one of his teammates, joining him. Odd how Gabe had been last into the building, but first on the roof. Maybe the others had pulled back on purpose, testing the new guy. Another person might have been annoyed, but he’d expected this much. He wasn’t afraid of having to earn his stripes.

Dormers, chimneys and ridges blocked visibility. Clouds kept drifting over the moon. Scan. Move forward.Take cover. A night game of hide and seek in a labyrinth, with a fair chance that the ramshackle roof could open up under his feet any minute.

Then he stole around a dormer and spotted the target at last. Jake Tekla blended into the night in black fatigues, similar to Gabe’s, black ski mask in place. A lot slighter than Gabe remembered. Looked like being on the run had taken its toll on him. The man crept toward the edge of the roof, his focus on the jump he was considering.

No visible weapons.

Yet another thing that didn’t add up. Not for a government-trained, seasoned soldier.

Gabe inched closer, watching for a trap. He flicked the safety off his gun. Come on. Turn. He moved another step closer then stopped with his feet apart, gun raised, silencer in place.

His target sensed him at last and spun around.

Oh, hell.

Gabe caught the curve of a breast in the moonlight, and his finger froze on the trigger as he stared at the woman.

She could be a trap–Tekla’s accomplice or a decoy.

He had a kill order.

Most of the men he worked with squeezed the trigger each and every time, preferring to err on the safe side. He’d been like that once. A muscle jumped in his cheek. He pushed the North Village incident from his mind.

The woman stared at him for a startled moment, then her instincts kicked in and she ran. Or tried. He lunged after her, caught up in three leaps and brought her down hard. She was lean, yet soft, every inch unmistakably feminine. But none of that feminine softness showed in her fighting spirit. She shoved against him with all she had. She had to know she was conquered, yet she refused to yield, stirring some of his base instincts.

“Stop,” he hissed the single word into her ear as he did his best to subdue her.

Plywood gave an ominous creak on the other side of the ridge, the team moving into position to cover the roof and inspect all its nooks and crannies. Something stopped Gabe from calling out even as the woman did her best to scratch his eyes out, fighting in silence. Enough small things about this op had triggered alarms in his mind for him to want to see what he had here before he called the rest of the team in.

He patted her down one-handed, although if she had a knife she would have probably used it on him by now. He kept his voice low. “Did Tekla send you?”

She tried to buck him off. He managed to hold her down with one hand and ripped her black mask off with the other. Wavy dark hair tumbled free, eyes going wide with panic even as her full lips snarled. Despite the semidarkness, he couldn’t miss her beauty, or the fact that she had Tekla’s eyes and nose.
“Who are you?” he asked, even as the answer was already forming in his mind.

The man had two sisters, the younger one a teenager and the other somewhat older. The one under Gabe now was all woman and then some. Definitely not the teenage sister. He’d met both once at the airport when Tekla and he had gone home on a short leave over Christmas, back in their army days. They didn’t have parents, he remembered suddenly. Tekla had enlisted so he could support what was left of his family.

What in hell was his sister doing on the roof? No way his team’s intel could be so bad on an op like this. They weren’t fighting in the chaos of some distant battle field. The target’s sisters were supposed to be living with a distant aunt in Arkansas, according to the op files.

His mind ran all the options as he pressed her down a little harder to keep her still. He wanted to believe that Brent Foley, the team leader, hadn’t known who she was when he’d given the kill order, but being naïve didn’t pay in this business.

But if Brent did know… Eliminating one of Tekla’s sisters might push the guy over the edge, bring him out into the open as he came in for revenge. XO-ST’s small army for hire consisted of ex-soldiers and ex-agents, conducting outsourced ops for the U.S. government and anyone else who could meet their price. Brent wrote the book on how to reach goals by whatever means necessary.

Except, Gabe hadn’t signed on to kill innocent women, no matter how badly he needed the money. He motioned to her to stay down and stay quiet, then eased his body off her a little so she could breathe.

“Is he here?” he whispered.

After another spirited minute of resistance, her muscles went slack and she lay there, breathing hard, despair filling her eyes. She shook her head.

He pulled up all the way. Her gaze slid to his gun, and she swallowed, her body stiffening. Fear came onto her face, that wide-eyed look of people who know they are about to die. She didn’t beg, nor did she offer her brother’s life for her own. She simply met Gabe’s gaze and lifted her chin.

She still looked impossibly young, although he figured she had to be around twenty-six or twenty-seven by now. Her slim body might have looked fragile next to his, but her eyes shone with defiance. Which wouldn’t be enough, not with a kill order in place and a team of mercenaries spread out around them.

“I’ll come back.” He secured her with a plastic cuff to the iron scroll that decorated the roof’s edge, with one smooth move.

He switched on his mouthpiece as he turned from her, ignoring her silent struggle. “Target escaped the roof. East end.”

He ran along the edge toward the other side where a six-foot gap separated the old palace from the next building. Dark shapes materialized from the shadows. He jumped without giving the steep drop below him much thought. As expected, his clear purpose and energy drew the rest of the team behind him.

He dashed forward as if he could see a man’s disappearing back somewhere up ahead. He didn’t slow for twenty minutes and several rooftops later. Then he braced against the edge of the roof as he stared down onto a dark, abandoned bridge below him. “Lost visual contact.”

A four-letter word came through his headset, then, “Did he look hurt?”

“No.”

“I could have sworn I clipped him before we lost him last week.” A moment of silence. “Spread out.”
As the team scattered, Gabe made his way back to the old palace, trying to think of the woman’s name, not expecting much after ten years, surprised when it did pop into his brain: Jasmine.

She was going to take him to Tekla. He would bring the man in himself, making sure she didn’t get hurt in the process. Things could get out of hand when a cornered person was confronted with an entire commando team. For all he knew, the other sister was here, too. His jaw muscles tightened. He had no respect for a man who would use his sisters as a shield. Gabe vaulted from roof to roof, watching out for crumbling edges.

If he could complete the mission without bloodshed, he wanted to give it a try. Maybe saving a few lives, after having taken so many, would even the scales a little.

Except, he found the palace roof empty.

Leave a comment to enter to win a full ecopy of GUARDIAN
 
Dana Marton writes fast-paced action-adventure romances that take her readers all over the globe. She is a Rita Award finalist and the winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence. She loves writing stories of intrigue, filled with dangerous plots that try her tough-as-nails heroes and the special women they fall in love with. Her books have been published in seven languages in eleven countries around the world.  

She would love to hear from her readers.

Okay, the above version is the glamour version for press releases. The truth is that my path to publication was nothing but unglamorous. I wrote for 13 years and completed 4 books (as well as having others in various stages of completion) before I finally received a call from a Harlequin editor. I was beginning to wonder if I was being tenacious or just too dense to know when to quit. But it all worked out at the end! J I love, love, love writing and would spend all day in front of the computer if I could just break my family of the habit of wanting to eat and wear clean clothes. What’s up with that? But I must get up from the desk now and then, if only because my Internet connection goes down or my ancient PC overheats. Then I do enjoy cooking, knitting, hunting for treasures at the flea market, our Beagle, Peanut the Destroyer, and gardening.

I’d love it if you picked up one of my books and emailed me to tell me what you thought of it. I’ve been known to name characters after readers. Just ask Princess Judi.

Find Dana Marton:

Email
MySpace
Facebook
Twitter

>RITA nominee Dana Marton Excerpt + Giveaway

>

Many of you may have run across my guest today.  Dana Marton is not only a multi-published author (27 books now!), but she also runs www.prizesforreaders.com!  A girl after my own heart!!

Today, Dana offers an excerpt of her June release, GUARDIAN AGENT. 
And she’s GIVING AWAY an ecopy of the full book as well!!
Just comment to enter! (Open Internationally)

Guardian Agent

Chapter One

Dark waters lapped the century-old palace’s foundation, eager to claim the forgotten building on one of Venice’s backstreet canals. At four on the February morning, tourists still partied on in the distance, drunk on love, youth and full-bodied Italian wine. Gabe Cannon could hear both the water and the faint beat of the music, but he couldn’t hear the half dozen men in the building with him. His new commando team spread out like ghosts moving through the night.

“Target on the roof,” the team leader’s voice whispered in his earpiece.

He stole up the crumbling stairs, ready for the rogue soldier who needed to be brought in before he caused more damage. He’d known Jake Tekla ten years ago in the army–a decent guy back then, but war could change a person, could even twist a man’s mind.

Static hissed in his earpiece before the words, “Kill order authorized. Repeat, authorized to shoot on sight.”

His instincts prickled. Standard procedure called for an attempt to capture first, and see what information they could gain during interrogation. Usable intelligence trumped a quick kill, every time. Then again, he worked for a private security firm now: XO-ST. Xtreme Ops Shadow Teams. They did things differently than his previous employers, the army and the FBI.

Gabe reached the roof. Plywood patches formed a psychedelic pattern in the moonlight—an unexpected break. Not having to sneak around on crumbling Mediterranean roof tiles would make this much easier. He stole forward and eased into the cover of a crooked chimney stack.

He caught a silent shadow at the door he’d come through–Troy, one of his teammates, joining him. Odd how Gabe had been last into the building, but first on the roof. Maybe the others had pulled back on purpose, testing the new guy. Another person might have been annoyed, but he’d expected this much. He wasn’t afraid of having to earn his stripes.

Dormers, chimneys and ridges blocked visibility. Clouds kept drifting over the moon. Scan. Move forward.Take cover. A night game of hide and seek in a labyrinth, with a fair chance that the ramshackle roof could open up under his feet any minute.

Then he stole around a dormer and spotted the target at last. Jake Tekla blended into the night in black fatigues, similar to Gabe’s, black ski mask in place. A lot slighter than Gabe remembered. Looked like being on the run had taken its toll on him. The man crept toward the edge of the roof, his focus on the jump he was considering.

No visible weapons.

Yet another thing that didn’t add up. Not for a government-trained, seasoned soldier.

Gabe inched closer, watching for a trap. He flicked the safety off his gun. Come on. Turn. He moved another step closer then stopped with his feet apart, gun raised, silencer in place.

His target sensed him at last and spun around.

Oh, hell.

Gabe caught the curve of a breast in the moonlight, and his finger froze on the trigger as he stared at the woman.

She could be a trap–Tekla’s accomplice or a decoy.

He had a kill order.

Most of the men he worked with squeezed the trigger each and every time, preferring to err on the safe side. He’d been like that once. A muscle jumped in his cheek. He pushed the North Village incident from his mind.

The woman stared at him for a startled moment, then her instincts kicked in and she ran. Or tried. He lunged after her, caught up in three leaps and brought her down hard. She was lean, yet soft, every inch unmistakably feminine. But none of that feminine softness showed in her fighting spirit. She shoved against him with all she had. She had to know she was conquered, yet she refused to yield, stirring some of his base instincts.

“Stop,” he hissed the single word into her ear as he did his best to subdue her.

Plywood gave an ominous creak on the other side of the ridge, the team moving into position to cover the roof and inspect all its nooks and crannies. Something stopped Gabe from calling out even as the woman did her best to scratch his eyes out, fighting in silence. Enough small things about this op had triggered alarms in his mind for him to want to see what he had here before he called the rest of the team in.

He patted her down one-handed, although if she had a knife she would have probably used it on him by now. He kept his voice low. “Did Tekla send you?”

She tried to buck him off. He managed to hold her down with one hand and ripped her black mask off with the other. Wavy dark hair tumbled free, eyes going wide with panic even as her full lips snarled. Despite the semidarkness, he couldn’t miss her beauty, or the fact that she had Tekla’s eyes and nose.
“Who are you?” he asked, even as the answer was already forming in his mind.

The man had two sisters, the younger one a teenager and the other somewhat older. The one under Gabe now was all woman and then some. Definitely not the teenage sister. He’d met both once at the airport when Tekla and he had gone home on a short leave over Christmas, back in their army days. They didn’t have parents, he remembered suddenly. Tekla had enlisted so he could support what was left of his family.

What in hell was his sister doing on the roof? No way his team’s intel could be so bad on an op like this. They weren’t fighting in the chaos of some distant battle field. The target’s sisters were supposed to be living with a distant aunt in Arkansas, according to the op files.

His mind ran all the options as he pressed her down a little harder to keep her still. He wanted to believe that Brent Foley, the team leader, hadn’t known who she was when he’d given the kill order, but being naïve didn’t pay in this business.

But if Brent did know… Eliminating one of Tekla’s sisters might push the guy over the edge, bring him out into the open as he came in for revenge. XO-ST’s small army for hire consisted of ex-soldiers and ex-agents, conducting outsourced ops for the U.S. government and anyone else who could meet their price. Brent wrote the book on how to reach goals by whatever means necessary.

Except, Gabe hadn’t signed on to kill innocent women, no matter how badly he needed the money. He motioned to her to stay down and stay quiet, then eased his body off her a little so she could breathe.

“Is he here?” he whispered.

After another spirited minute of resistance, her muscles went slack and she lay there, breathing hard, despair filling her eyes. She shook her head.

He pulled up all the way. Her gaze slid to his gun, and she swallowed, her body stiffening. Fear came onto her face, that wide-eyed look of people who know they are about to die. She didn’t beg, nor did she offer her brother’s life for her own. She simply met Gabe’s gaze and lifted her chin.

She still looked impossibly young, although he figured she had to be around twenty-six or twenty-seven by now. Her slim body might have looked fragile next to his, but her eyes shone with defiance. Which wouldn’t be enough, not with a kill order in place and a team of mercenaries spread out around them.

“I’ll come back.” He secured her with a plastic cuff to the iron scroll that decorated the roof’s edge, with one smooth move.

He switched on his mouthpiece as he turned from her, ignoring her silent struggle. “Target escaped the roof. East end.”

He ran along the edge toward the other side where a six-foot gap separated the old palace from the next building. Dark shapes materialized from the shadows. He jumped without giving the steep drop below him much thought. As expected, his clear purpose and energy drew the rest of the team behind him.

He dashed forward as if he could see a man’s disappearing back somewhere up ahead. He didn’t slow for twenty minutes and several rooftops later. Then he braced against the edge of the roof as he stared down onto a dark, abandoned bridge below him. “Lost visual contact.”

A four-letter word came through his headset, then, “Did he look hurt?”

“No.”

“I could have sworn I clipped him before we lost him last week.” A moment of silence. “Spread out.”
As the team scattered, Gabe made his way back to the old palace, trying to think of the woman’s name, not expecting much after ten years, surprised when it did pop into his brain: Jasmine.

She was going to take him to Tekla. He would bring the man in himself, making sure she didn’t get hurt in the process. Things could get out of hand when a cornered person was confronted with an entire commando team. For all he knew, the other sister was here, too. His jaw muscles tightened. He had no respect for a man who would use his sisters as a shield. Gabe vaulted from roof to roof, watching out for crumbling edges.

If he could complete the mission without bloodshed, he wanted to give it a try. Maybe saving a few lives, after having taken so many, would even the scales a little.

Except, he found the palace roof empty.

Leave a comment to enter to win a full ecopy of GUARDIAN
 
Dana Marton writes fast-paced action-adventure romances that take her readers all over the globe. She is a Rita Award finalist and the winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence. She loves writing stories of intrigue, filled with dangerous plots that try her tough-as-nails heroes and the special women they fall in love with. Her books have been published in seven languages in eleven countries around the world.  

She would love to hear from her readers.

Okay, the above version is the glamour version for press releases. The truth is that my path to publication was nothing but unglamorous. I wrote for 13 years and completed 4 books (as well as having others in various stages of completion) before I finally received a call from a Harlequin editor. I was beginning to wonder if I was being tenacious or just too dense to know when to quit. But it all worked out at the end! J I love, love, love writing and would spend all day in front of the computer if I could just break my family of the habit of wanting to eat and wear clean clothes. What’s up with that? But I must get up from the desk now and then, if only because my Internet connection goes down or my ancient PC overheats. Then I do enjoy cooking, knitting, hunting for treasures at the flea market, our Beagle, Peanut the Destroyer, and gardening.

I’d love it if you picked up one of my books and emailed me to tell me what you thought of it. I’ve been known to name characters after readers. Just ask Princess Judi.

Find Dana Marton:

Email
MySpace
Facebook
Twitter

Author Sherry Isaac on Imagination + Excerpt + Giveaway

>My guest today, Sherry Isaac is an amazing writer and an even better friend. Her first collection of shorts, STORYTELLER, debuted last month, July 2011.

She will be giving away one copy of her book and 5 custom made bookmarks. Post a comment or ask a question to enter!

Welcome, Sherry!!

KNOWLEDGE PLANTS THE SEED. IMAGINATION MAKES IT BLOOM.
by Sherry Isaac
 


Write what you know.
That’s the advice we’re given when we start to write, but what does it mean? Does it mean that, because I don’t know a Phillips from a Robertson, a mallet from a hammer, a G-clamp from an A-frame, my hero can’t be a carpenter?
If it does, then it’s re-write time again.
True, author John Grisham (A Time To Kill, The Chamber) uses his knowledge and experience as a lawyer to write his legal thrillers. But did Anne Rice actually interview a vampire?
Or did she draw on her knowledge of New Orleans and the gothic impressions of the ornately decorated churches of her childhood, and fill in the rest with imagination?
Don’t know about you and Stephenie Meyer, but I’m going with the latter.
When looking for a starting point in a story, nuggets of truth are a great place to find inspiration. It is imagination that dictates where the story will go, and how it will end.
My maternal grandparents, Isaac and Katie, are gone, but a year or so before my grandfather, who went first, passed, I heard a story. A story of how they met.
Isaac and Katie both fled Russia in the days following the revolution. Isaac ended up in Winnipeg, Katie in Ste. Anne, a small farming community southeast of the city.
Isaac, educated and wealthy in his homeland, retired a machinist. I don’t know where he worked or what he did in the twenties, but suspect it was factory-oriented. As the story went, Isaac and his cousin knew where to go to meet girls.
And on what day.
Like many girls her age at the time, Katie worked as a domestic in the city, and Wednesday was the standard day off. Woolworth’s on Portage Avenue, in the heart of downtown Winnipeg, was the place to meet their girlfriends and ‘spend their earnings on ox-blood lipstick and the new flesh-colored stockings that were al the rage’.
There are a lot of blanks in the story. Who caught whose eye, who said what, and how a chance meeting turned into a life-long love is a mystery. In the end, a fact: In a city park, under the shade of a tree, my grandparents shared their first afternoon together.
A scandalous afternoon spent… Kissing!!!
Grandpa, you sly dog.
What I knew for sure when I started to write seriously was that someday I would write a piece honoring Isaac and Katie’s lifetime devotion.
Isaac had a steadfast rule: Never ask a girl out more than twice. A third date meant you were serious.
Bit of a player, perhaps?
After that afternoon with Katie, he confided in his cousin: “Let’s just say there’ll be a third date.”
What I knew for sure when I heard that detail was that someday, somehow, in some story, I would have to use that line!
Years later, the two things I knew for sure came together, and I wrote what I knew, filling in the blanks with imagination, dicing it up with a little research to get the details right.
Imagination fuels the give and take of dialogue, gestures, the dance of body language: ‘She turned to the inside leaf of the dust-jacket; her hazel eyes darted across the lines. Simon slid three book lengths closer and pointed to the open page. “That looks interesting. What’s it called?”’
Imagination sorts through the fashion of the day: ‘There were morning girls, too anxious and eager to please, in their flapper dresses, all pearls and feathers, bare arms and knee caps… The shapeless lunch-hour girls disguised their curves in boyish clothing, with hairstyles to match and hats that hid their eyes…’ and settles on the heroine’s look: ‘Her flowing floral print dress fell to mid-calf, slender ankles tapered into low-heeled Mary Janes. Her fair hair caught the light, rippled finger-waves that skimmed her fine jaw’.
Imagination devises a pant leg caught in a bicycle chain, the clank of metal on a wooden sidewalk, and Simon’s reaction,“Bloody hell!”, to shape setting and character.
Imagination is a twist, a tango, a Texas two-step. Writer and reader, the partners. A cluster of clues fill the reader’s mind and soon the scene takes shape. When the young man in wide-cuffed trousers who dreams of owning a Ford Model-T suggests a date, “Why don’t I treat you to a soda?”, the reader supplies the malts, the floats, the egg salad sandwiches.
A Love of Reading is not memoir. Outside of their initial meeting and their life-long marriage, the heroine and hero, Lila and Simon, bear little resemblance to my grandparents.
The end result ‘reveals,’ in the words of author and reviewer Tanaz Bhathena, ‘nuances of a love that is all at once innocent, mysterious and timeless’.
I like to think my grandparents are proud.
~~~
A LOVE OF READING
Short Story Excerpt
Sherry Isaac
“Simon, it’s your turn. I can’t read anymore! My voice is getting hoarse.”
The spring sun was warm so they’d sought the shade of a large weeping willow. Simon lay in the cool grass, his legs crossed at the ankles, his hands behind his head. He’d been wrong, ole Roger Ackroyd held out for several chapters. Simon removed the long blade of grass from between his teeth. “But I love the sound of your voice, Lila. Even when you speak of poison and suicide, it’s like an angel sighing.”
Lila sat on Simon’s jacket so she wouldn’t stain her skirt. She tapped the toes of his boots with the book. “Oh, stop!”
Simon rose to his knees and tossed the book aside. “If you’re tired of reading, I know something else we could do.” He crawled toward her until his face was inches from hers.
She lowered her long lashes. “What would that be?” Her rosebud lips barely moved. Her breath was warm, sweet.
He leaned closer, his lips a mere breath away from hers. “This.”
Simon rode his bicycle to work the next day without incident. The journey seemed to last only seconds as he pedaled the last stretch down McPhillips Street. He entered the gate and saw Jacob leaning against the fence, waiting for him.
“Where’d you get to yesterday?”
Simon dismounted and parked his bike. “Nowhere.” He lowered the brim of his hat, chin tucked under to hide his broad grin as he walked toward the plant entrance.
Jacob was ahead of him, walking backwards so they could face each other. “You met her, didn’t you? You finally met her!”
Simon bit his lip to erase his grin before answering. He stroked his chin, eyes downcast, as if considering a complicated mathematical formula. Numbers and symbols danced in his head, the language that didn’t exclude him. The tactic worked. He could meet his cousin’s eyes with an aloof expression. “I might have.”
Jacob pulled off his cap, waved it in the air and let out a whoop. “I knew it! About time, too. What’s her name?”
The smile would not stay hidden. It spread across Simon’s face and made his cheeks cramp. “Lila.”
“Lila? Mm. Even I could fall for a dame with a name like that. What’s she like?”
Simon stopped and pressed his lips together. “You know I don’t kiss and tell.”
“She let you kiss her? In Woolworth’s? You’re smoother than Rudolph Valentino! So what now?” Jacob landed a playful jab on his cousin’s shoulder. “You gonna gently remove the hook and let her go?”
“Let’s just say there’ll be a third date.”
~~~

Winner of The Alice Munro Short Story Award, Sherry Isaac’s tales of life, love and forgiveness that transcend all things, including the grave, appear online and in print. Her first collection of shorts, Storyteller, debuts July 2011. For more information, or to order an autographed copy, click HERE.

Enter to WIN a copy of Sherry’s book or 1 of 5 custom bookmarks by posting a comment or ask a question!

**US/Canada only**

**MUST leave a contact email to WIN!!!**

>Author Sherry Isaac on Imagination + Excerpt + Giveaway

>My guest today, Sherry Isaac is an amazing writer and an even better friend. Her first collection of shorts, STORYTELLER, debuted last month, July 2011.

She will be giving away one copy of her book and 5 custom made bookmarks. Post a comment or ask a question to enter!

Welcome, Sherry!!

KNOWLEDGE PLANTS THE SEED. IMAGINATION MAKES IT BLOOM.
by Sherry Isaac
 


Write what you know.
That’s the advice we’re given when we start to write, but what does it mean? Does it mean that, because I don’t know a Phillips from a Robertson, a mallet from a hammer, a G-clamp from an A-frame, my hero can’t be a carpenter?
If it does, then it’s re-write time again.
True, author John Grisham (A Time To Kill, The Chamber) uses his knowledge and experience as a lawyer to write his legal thrillers. But did Anne Rice actually interview a vampire?
Or did she draw on her knowledge of New Orleans and the gothic impressions of the ornately decorated churches of her childhood, and fill in the rest with imagination?
Don’t know about you and Stephenie Meyer, but I’m going with the latter.
When looking for a starting point in a story, nuggets of truth are a great place to find inspiration. It is imagination that dictates where the story will go, and how it will end.
My maternal grandparents, Isaac and Katie, are gone, but a year or so before my grandfather, who went first, passed, I heard a story. A story of how they met.
Isaac and Katie both fled Russia in the days following the revolution. Isaac ended up in Winnipeg, Katie in Ste. Anne, a small farming community southeast of the city.
Isaac, educated and wealthy in his homeland, retired a machinist. I don’t know where he worked or what he did in the twenties, but suspect it was factory-oriented. As the story went, Isaac and his cousin knew where to go to meet girls.
And on what day.
Like many girls her age at the time, Katie worked as a domestic in the city, and Wednesday was the standard day off. Woolworth’s on Portage Avenue, in the heart of downtown Winnipeg, was the place to meet their girlfriends and ‘spend their earnings on ox-blood lipstick and the new flesh-colored stockings that were al the rage’.
There are a lot of blanks in the story. Who caught whose eye, who said what, and how a chance meeting turned into a life-long love is a mystery. In the end, a fact: In a city park, under the shade of a tree, my grandparents shared their first afternoon together.
A scandalous afternoon spent… Kissing!!!
Grandpa, you sly dog.
What I knew for sure when I started to write seriously was that someday I would write a piece honoring Isaac and Katie’s lifetime devotion.
Isaac had a steadfast rule: Never ask a girl out more than twice. A third date meant you were serious.
Bit of a player, perhaps?
After that afternoon with Katie, he confided in his cousin: “Let’s just say there’ll be a third date.”
What I knew for sure when I heard that detail was that someday, somehow, in some story, I would have to use that line!
Years later, the two things I knew for sure came together, and I wrote what I knew, filling in the blanks with imagination, dicing it up with a little research to get the details right.
Imagination fuels the give and take of dialogue, gestures, the dance of body language: ‘She turned to the inside leaf of the dust-jacket; her hazel eyes darted across the lines. Simon slid three book lengths closer and pointed to the open page. “That looks interesting. What’s it called?”’
Imagination sorts through the fashion of the day: ‘There were morning girls, too anxious and eager to please, in their flapper dresses, all pearls and feathers, bare arms and knee caps… The shapeless lunch-hour girls disguised their curves in boyish clothing, with hairstyles to match and hats that hid their eyes…’ and settles on the heroine’s look: ‘Her flowing floral print dress fell to mid-calf, slender ankles tapered into low-heeled Mary Janes. Her fair hair caught the light, rippled finger-waves that skimmed her fine jaw’.
Imagination devises a pant leg caught in a bicycle chain, the clank of metal on a wooden sidewalk, and Simon’s reaction,“Bloody hell!”, to shape setting and character.
Imagination is a twist, a tango, a Texas two-step. Writer and reader, the partners. A cluster of clues fill the reader’s mind and soon the scene takes shape. When the young man in wide-cuffed trousers who dreams of owning a Ford Model-T suggests a date, “Why don’t I treat you to a soda?”, the reader supplies the malts, the floats, the egg salad sandwiches.
A Love of Reading is not memoir. Outside of their initial meeting and their life-long marriage, the heroine and hero, Lila and Simon, bear little resemblance to my grandparents.
The end result ‘reveals,’ in the words of author and reviewer Tanaz Bhathena, ‘nuances of a love that is all at once innocent, mysterious and timeless’.
I like to think my grandparents are proud.
~~~
A LOVE OF READING
Short Story Excerpt
Sherry Isaac
“Simon, it’s your turn. I can’t read anymore! My voice is getting hoarse.”
The spring sun was warm so they’d sought the shade of a large weeping willow. Simon lay in the cool grass, his legs crossed at the ankles, his hands behind his head. He’d been wrong, ole Roger Ackroyd held out for several chapters. Simon removed the long blade of grass from between his teeth. “But I love the sound of your voice, Lila. Even when you speak of poison and suicide, it’s like an angel sighing.”
Lila sat on Simon’s jacket so she wouldn’t stain her skirt. She tapped the toes of his boots with the book. “Oh, stop!”
Simon rose to his knees and tossed the book aside. “If you’re tired of reading, I know something else we could do.” He crawled toward her until his face was inches from hers.
She lowered her long lashes. “What would that be?” Her rosebud lips barely moved. Her breath was warm, sweet.
He leaned closer, his lips a mere breath away from hers. “This.”
Simon rode his bicycle to work the next day without incident. The journey seemed to last only seconds as he pedaled the last stretch down McPhillips Street. He entered the gate and saw Jacob leaning against the fence, waiting for him.
“Where’d you get to yesterday?”
Simon dismounted and parked his bike. “Nowhere.” He lowered the brim of his hat, chin tucked under to hide his broad grin as he walked toward the plant entrance.
Jacob was ahead of him, walking backwards so they could face each other. “You met her, didn’t you? You finally met her!”
Simon bit his lip to erase his grin before answering. He stroked his chin, eyes downcast, as if considering a complicated mathematical formula. Numbers and symbols danced in his head, the language that didn’t exclude him. The tactic worked. He could meet his cousin’s eyes with an aloof expression. “I might have.”
Jacob pulled off his cap, waved it in the air and let out a whoop. “I knew it! About time, too. What’s her name?”
The smile would not stay hidden. It spread across Simon’s face and made his cheeks cramp. “Lila.”
“Lila? Mm. Even I could fall for a dame with a name like that. What’s she like?”
Simon stopped and pressed his lips together. “You know I don’t kiss and tell.”
“She let you kiss her? In Woolworth’s? You’re smoother than Rudolph Valentino! So what now?” Jacob landed a playful jab on his cousin’s shoulder. “You gonna gently remove the hook and let her go?”
“Let’s just say there’ll be a third date.”
~~~

Winner of The Alice Munro Short Story Award, Sherry Isaac’s tales of life, love and forgiveness that transcend all things, including the grave, appear online and in print. Her first collection of shorts, Storyteller, debuts July 2011. For more information, or to order an autographed copy, click HERE.

Enter to WIN a copy of Sherry’s book or 1 of 5 custom bookmarks by posting a comment or ask a question!

**US/Canada only**

**MUST leave a contact email to WIN!!!**

Welcome Dale Mayer with Two Releases!

>Welcome, Dale Mayer!!

Freelance writer Dale Mayer lives in the beautiful Okanagan valley in British Columbia, Canada. She’s multi-pubbed in nonfiction but her true love is the stories that weave through her mind. For the past nine years, she’s written around the daily responsibilities of being a single mother of four and still squeezes in time to produce new fiction manuscripts each year.

In fiction, she writes taut psychological suspense with romance and paranormal elements. She has recently branched out into both mystery and urban fantasy books for young adult with the occasional vampire book thrown in just for fun.

Dale is here today with two releases in two different genres: romantic suspense and young adult.  She is providing excerpts from both as well as one Ebook of each as a giveaway to two random commentors.  Contest ends midnight 7/3/11.  So tell us which genre you prefer, what you liked best about one of the excerpts or ask Dale a question — any comment to qualify for the giveaways!

Young Adult: DANGEROUS DESIGNS

Description:

Drawing is her world…but when her new pencil comes alive, it’s his world too.

Her… Storey Dalton is seventeen and now boyfriendless after being dumped via Facebook. Drawing is her escape. It’s like as soon as she gets down one image, a dozen more are pressing in on her. Then she realizes her pictures are almost drawing themselves…or is it that her new pencil is alive?

Him… Eric Jordan is a new Ranger and the only son of the Councilman to his world. He’s crossed the veil between dimensions to retrieve a lost stylus. But Storey is already experimenting with her new pencil and what her drawings can do – like open portals.

It … The stylus is a soul-bound intelligence from Eric’s dimension on Earth and uses Storey’s unsuspecting mind to seek its way home, giving her an unbelievable power. She unwittingly opens a third dimension, one that held a dangerous predatory species banished from Eric’s world centuries ago, releasing these animals into both dimensions.

Them… Once in Eric’s homeland, Storey is blamed for the calamity sentenced to death. When she escapes, Eric is ordered to bring her back or face that same death penalty. With nothing to lose, can they work together across dimensions to save both their worlds?

Excerpt:

When she couldn’t keep her eyes open any longer, she dropped the book to the floor beside her, clicked off the light and dropped into a deep sleep – a sleep full of weird dreams and voices calling to her.

“Storey, come and get me.”

“Storey, come.”

“We need you, Storey.”

Disturbed, she bolted upright gasping for breath as she stared wildly around the room. Who said that?

No one. She was alone – and clearly losing it. Her heart banged in her chest as a film of sweat covered her skin. She took several deep breaths and tried to calm down. Talk about nightmares.
She shuddered and lay back down. It took several minutes to get her breathing under control and when it did, she started to get pissed.

“What the hell do you want with me?” she snapped in the direction of her backpack, the drawing safely secured inside. “Crap. This is too freaky, even for me.”

“Storey, is that you, honey?”

Her mother knocked on the door and poked her head around, the light from the hallway lighting the silver streaks in her otherwise dark hair. “Can’t you sleep?”

“Sorry, if I woke you, Mom.” Storey sat up, brushing her own jet black hair back off her face. “Just a bad dream.”

“That’s because you didn’t have any dinner. I checked up on you after the meeting finished only you’d fallen asleep.” Her mother’s fingers twisted around a dangling lock of dark hair, stepping further into the room, her Wiccan robes dragging on the floor. She bit her lip. “Storey, you have to eat. You’re already skinny enough.”

Bone rack is what a jock had called her last month. Looking down, Storey realized they could be right. Her hip bones stuck out to match her big elbows. And her body had developed to the point she just barely missed the skinny scarecrow look. Too bad. She might have been able to make that work.
“I’m eating, Mom. They had pizza in class today, so didn’t need my lunch. Ate that on the way home.” She had more important things to worry about anyway.

Relief washed over her mom’s pretty face. “Oh, I’m so glad to hear that. Sometimes, I worry about you.”
Sometimes? Didn’t she mean all the time? Was that was normal for moms? Then again, there was a world of difference between normal moms and hers.

“What time is it?” Storey looked out the window. Blackness stared back.

“It’s just about 12:30 am. Please get into your pajamas. You don’t want to be sleeping in those jeans.” She backed up to the open door. “If you’re alright, I’ll say good night. It is witching hour after all.” With a carefree grin, her mom closed the door.

Witching hour. Right. Only in her house. Sighing at her mother’s antics, Storey collapsed down on her covers and fell into a light, troubled sleep.

“Storey.”

She sighed. “What now, mom?”

No answer. She sat up and glanced at the closed door. Weird. She could’ve sworn she’d heard someone call her. Lying down again, she pulled her blankets over top, not bothering to get changed.

“Storey.”

She bolted upright. That’s it. Who the hell was playing games with her?

“Storey.”

Throwing back the blankets, Storey kneeled on her bed. “Who said that?” she hissed into the early morning air. Not trusting the gloomy light, she flicked her bedside lamp on, quickly scanning the room. Empty. “I am so losing it. This is nuts.”

Her gaze landed on the backpack on her floor. Her gaze widened. Oh no.

‘No, no. Hell no.” She shook her head, slowly at first then more wildly. “This can’t be happening. It’s a picture. Nothing more. Nothing less. I created you. I can destroy you.”

That’s exactly what she was going to do. She dragged the backpack onto her bed and opened it. The knot defied her first and second attempts, before she managed to pull the laces apart and yank out her book. “I don’t know what’s going on here, but enough is enough.”

She flipped to the last page she’d been working on and grabbed it at the top left and ripped. It wouldn’t tear off. She tightened her grip and tried again. It refused to budge. Scared now, she threw it on the floor and in a fit of defiance, she jumped on it.

And fell through the picture, through the floor even.

She went right through the doorway in her picture.

Romantic Suspense: TUESDAY’S CHILD

Description:

What she doesn’t want…is exactly what he needs.

Shunned and ridiculed all her life for something she can’t control, Samantha Blair hides her psychic abilities and lives on the fringes of society. Against her will, however, she’s tapped into a killer—or rather, his victims. Each woman’s murder, blow-by-blow, ravages her mind until their death releases her back to her body. Sam knows she must go to the authorities, but will the rugged, no-nonsense detective in charge of tracking down the killer believe her?

Detective Brandt Sutherland only trusts hard evidence, yet Sam’s visions offer clues he needs to catch a killer. The more he learns about her incredible abilities, however, the clearer it becomes that Sam’s visions have put her in the killer’s line of fire. Now Brandt must save her from something he cannot see or understand…and risk losing his heart in the process.

As danger and desire collide, passion raises the stakes in a game Sam and Brandt don’t dare lose.

Excerpt:

The shepherd’s low growl warned her halfway.

“It’s okay, boy. It’s just me. I’ll be taking care of you. Give you food, fresh water, and friendship. The things that help us get along in life.” Although she kept her voice quiet, warm, and even toned, the growl remained the same.

She couldn’t blame him.

He might be able to get along without friendships, but she wanted them. She’d never had that elusive element that others took for granted.

Sam approached the dog’s cage with care. According to his chart, he’d had surgery to repair internal bleeding and to set a shattered leg. On top of that, he’d suffered several broken ribs, a dislocated collarbone and was missing a huge patch of skin on both hindquarters. Written in red and circled were the words – aggressive and dangerous. The growling stopped.

Sam squatted down to stare into his eyes. The dog should have a name. He didn’t give a damn. But a name gave the dog a presence, an existence…an identity.

“How about…” she thought for a long moment. “I know, how about we call you Major?”

The dog exploded into snarls and hideous barking, his ears flattened, and absolute hate filled his eyes.

“Jesus!” Sam skittered to the far corner of the room–her hand to her chest–sure her heart would break free.

“Is everything okay back here?”

Sam turned in surprise to see one of the vets standing behind her, frowning. “Sorry,” she yelled over the din of the other animals that had picked up the shepherd’s fear. She waited for the animals to calm down before continuing. “I’d thought of a brilliant name for the shepherd, but from his reaction, I think he hates it.”

The vet walked over and bent down to assess his patient. “It could have been your tone of voice or the inflection in the way you said the name.
He’d been abused even before this accident.” After a thoughtful pause, he added, “I’m not sure, but it might have been kinder to have put him down.”

“No.” Sam stared at him in horror. “Don’t say that. He’ll come around.” At his doubtful look, she continued, “I know he will. Give him a chance.”

That she seemed to be asking the vet to give her a chance hung heavy in the room, but she didn’t think he understood that.

He stared at her, shrewdness and wisdom in his eyes.

Then again, maybe she’d misjudged him. She shifted, uneasy under the intense gaze.

“We’ll see. We’ll have lots of opportunity to assess his progress as he recuperates.”

Sam had to be satisfied with that. She knew the dog was worth saving and so, damn it, was she. Her salvation and that of the dog’s were tied together in some unfathomable way. She could sense it. She’d fight tooth and nail to keep him safe.

In so doing, maybe she could save herself.

Dale is a talented multi-genre author. Leave a comment to enter the drawing for a free Ebook of either DANGEROUS DESIGNS or TUESDAY’S CHILD.
  • Contest entries end midnight 7/3/11.
  • International giveaway (Ebooks)
  • MUST leave an email contact address

>Welcome Dale Mayer with Two Releases!

>Welcome, Dale Mayer!!

Freelance writer Dale Mayer lives in the beautiful Okanagan valley in British Columbia, Canada. She’s multi-pubbed in nonfiction but her true love is the stories that weave through her mind. For the past nine years, she’s written around the daily responsibilities of being a single mother of four and still squeezes in time to produce new fiction manuscripts each year.

In fiction, she writes taut psychological suspense with romance and paranormal elements. She has recently branched out into both mystery and urban fantasy books for young adult with the occasional vampire book thrown in just for fun.

Dale is here today with two releases in two different genres: romantic suspense and young adult.  She is providing excerpts from both as well as one Ebook of each as a giveaway to two random commentors.  Contest ends midnight 7/3/11.  So tell us which genre you prefer, what you liked best about one of the excerpts or ask Dale a question — any comment to qualify for the giveaways!

Young Adult: DANGEROUS DESIGNS

Description:

Drawing is her world…but when her new pencil comes alive, it’s his world too.

Her… Storey Dalton is seventeen and now boyfriendless after being dumped via Facebook. Drawing is her escape. It’s like as soon as she gets down one image, a dozen more are pressing in on her. Then she realizes her pictures are almost drawing themselves…or is it that her new pencil is alive?

Him… Eric Jordan is a new Ranger and the only son of the Councilman to his world. He’s crossed the veil between dimensions to retrieve a lost stylus. But Storey is already experimenting with her new pencil and what her drawings can do – like open portals.

It … The stylus is a soul-bound intelligence from Eric’s dimension on Earth and uses Storey’s unsuspecting mind to seek its way home, giving her an unbelievable power. She unwittingly opens a third dimension, one that held a dangerous predatory species banished from Eric’s world centuries ago, releasing these animals into both dimensions.

Them… Once in Eric’s homeland, Storey is blamed for the calamity sentenced to death. When she escapes, Eric is ordered to bring her back or face that same death penalty. With nothing to lose, can they work together across dimensions to save both their worlds?

Excerpt:

When she couldn’t keep her eyes open any longer, she dropped the book to the floor beside her, clicked off the light and dropped into a deep sleep – a sleep full of weird dreams and voices calling to her.

“Storey, come and get me.”

“Storey, come.”

“We need you, Storey.”

Disturbed, she bolted upright gasping for breath as she stared wildly around the room. Who said that?

No one. She was alone – and clearly losing it. Her heart banged in her chest as a film of sweat covered her skin. She took several deep breaths and tried to calm down. Talk about nightmares.
She shuddered and lay back down. It took several minutes to get her breathing under control and when it did, she started to get pissed.

“What the hell do you want with me?” she snapped in the direction of her backpack, the drawing safely secured inside. “Crap. This is too freaky, even for me.”

“Storey, is that you, honey?”

Her mother knocked on the door and poked her head around, the light from the hallway lighting the silver streaks in her otherwise dark hair. “Can’t you sleep?”

“Sorry, if I woke you, Mom.” Storey sat up, brushing her own jet black hair back off her face. “Just a bad dream.”

“That’s because you didn’t have any dinner. I checked up on you after the meeting finished only you’d fallen asleep.” Her mother’s fingers twisted around a dangling lock of dark hair, stepping further into the room, her Wiccan robes dragging on the floor. She bit her lip. “Storey, you have to eat. You’re already skinny enough.”

Bone rack is what a jock had called her last month. Looking down, Storey realized they could be right. Her hip bones stuck out to match her big elbows. And her body had developed to the point she just barely missed the skinny scarecrow look. Too bad. She might have been able to make that work.
“I’m eating, Mom. They had pizza in class today, so didn’t need my lunch. Ate that on the way home.” She had more important things to worry about anyway.

Relief washed over her mom’s pretty face. “Oh, I’m so glad to hear that. Sometimes, I worry about you.”
Sometimes? Didn’t she mean all the time? Was that was normal for moms? Then again, there was a world of difference between normal moms and hers.

“What time is it?” Storey looked out the window. Blackness stared back.

“It’s just about 12:30 am. Please get into your pajamas. You don’t want to be sleeping in those jeans.” She backed up to the open door. “If you’re alright, I’ll say good night. It is witching hour after all.” With a carefree grin, her mom closed the door.

Witching hour. Right. Only in her house. Sighing at her mother’s antics, Storey collapsed down on her covers and fell into a light, troubled sleep.

“Storey.”

She sighed. “What now, mom?”

No answer. She sat up and glanced at the closed door. Weird. She could’ve sworn she’d heard someone call her. Lying down again, she pulled her blankets over top, not bothering to get changed.

“Storey.”

She bolted upright. That’s it. Who the hell was playing games with her?

“Storey.”

Throwing back the blankets, Storey kneeled on her bed. “Who said that?” she hissed into the early morning air. Not trusting the gloomy light, she flicked her bedside lamp on, quickly scanning the room. Empty. “I am so losing it. This is nuts.”

Her gaze landed on the backpack on her floor. Her gaze widened. Oh no.

‘No, no. Hell no.” She shook her head, slowly at first then more wildly. “This can’t be happening. It’s a picture. Nothing more. Nothing less. I created you. I can destroy you.”

That’s exactly what she was going to do. She dragged the backpack onto her bed and opened it. The knot defied her first and second attempts, before she managed to pull the laces apart and yank out her book. “I don’t know what’s going on here, but enough is enough.”

She flipped to the last page she’d been working on and grabbed it at the top left and ripped. It wouldn’t tear off. She tightened her grip and tried again. It refused to budge. Scared now, she threw it on the floor and in a fit of defiance, she jumped on it.

And fell through the picture, through the floor even.

She went right through the doorway in her picture.

Romantic Suspense: TUESDAY’S CHILD

Description:

What she doesn’t want…is exactly what he needs.

Shunned and ridiculed all her life for something she can’t control, Samantha Blair hides her psychic abilities and lives on the fringes of society. Against her will, however, she’s tapped into a killer—or rather, his victims. Each woman’s murder, blow-by-blow, ravages her mind until their death releases her back to her body. Sam knows she must go to the authorities, but will the rugged, no-nonsense detective in charge of tracking down the killer believe her?

Detective Brandt Sutherland only trusts hard evidence, yet Sam’s visions offer clues he needs to catch a killer. The more he learns about her incredible abilities, however, the clearer it becomes that Sam’s visions have put her in the killer’s line of fire. Now Brandt must save her from something he cannot see or understand…and risk losing his heart in the process.

As danger and desire collide, passion raises the stakes in a game Sam and Brandt don’t dare lose.

Excerpt:

The shepherd’s low growl warned her halfway.

“It’s okay, boy. It’s just me. I’ll be taking care of you. Give you food, fresh water, and friendship. The things that help us get along in life.” Although she kept her voice quiet, warm, and even toned, the growl remained the same.

She couldn’t blame him.

He might be able to get along without friendships, but she wanted them. She’d never had that elusive element that others took for granted.

Sam approached the dog’s cage with care. According to his chart, he’d had surgery to repair internal bleeding and to set a shattered leg. On top of that, he’d suffered several broken ribs, a dislocated collarbone and was missing a huge patch of skin on both hindquarters. Written in red and circled were the words – aggressive and dangerous. The growling stopped.

Sam squatted down to stare into his eyes. The dog should have a name. He didn’t give a damn. But a name gave the dog a presence, an existence…an identity.

“How about…” she thought for a long moment. “I know, how about we call you Major?”

The dog exploded into snarls and hideous barking, his ears flattened, and absolute hate filled his eyes.

“Jesus!” Sam skittered to the far corner of the room–her hand to her chest–sure her heart would break free.

“Is everything okay back here?”

Sam turned in surprise to see one of the vets standing behind her, frowning. “Sorry,” she yelled over the din of the other animals that had picked up the shepherd’s fear. She waited for the animals to calm down before continuing. “I’d thought of a brilliant name for the shepherd, but from his reaction, I think he hates it.”

The vet walked over and bent down to assess his patient. “It could have been your tone of voice or the inflection in the way you said the name.
He’d been abused even before this accident.” After a thoughtful pause, he added, “I’m not sure, but it might have been kinder to have put him down.”

“No.” Sam stared at him in horror. “Don’t say that. He’ll come around.” At his doubtful look, she continued, “I know he will. Give him a chance.”

That she seemed to be asking the vet to give her a chance hung heavy in the room, but she didn’t think he understood that.

He stared at her, shrewdness and wisdom in his eyes.

Then again, maybe she’d misjudged him. She shifted, uneasy under the intense gaze.

“We’ll see. We’ll have lots of opportunity to assess his progress as he recuperates.”

Sam had to be satisfied with that. She knew the dog was worth saving and so, damn it, was she. Her salvation and that of the dog’s were tied together in some unfathomable way. She could sense it. She’d fight tooth and nail to keep him safe.

In so doing, maybe she could save herself.

Dale is a talented multi-genre author. Leave a comment to enter the drawing for a free Ebook of either DANGEROUS DESIGNS or TUESDAY’S CHILD.
  • Contest entries end midnight 7/3/11.
  • International giveaway (Ebooks)
  • MUST leave an email contact address