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THE LONGING and Cornelia Warmenhoven

If you’re up for something different THE LONGING might be just the thing.

 

In the early 1900’s thousands of immigrants crossed under the shadow of the Statue of Liberty to find freedom and opportunity in America.

In The Longing, history and culture provide the backdrop as the Taten family makes the difficult decision to immigrate to the United States from Holland. Like immigrants the world over, the Tatens discover that the longing for the comfort, traditions, and familiarity of one’s homeland never ends.

It’s 1904, and Dora Taten wants to leave an untenable situation in the Netherlands to forge a new life in the United States. Not everyone in her newly blended and extended family—not even her husband, Paul—is convinced that this is a good idea. But enough members of this tightly knit Dutch family decide to take the risk and journey to America. They prepare as much as they can, but many surprises and challenges, good and bad, await them.

Part family saga, part-coming-of-age story—this richly textured novel is drawn from author Cornelia Warmenhoven’s life experience and is colored with language, details, and illustrations that give a snapshot of life in another country and in another time. Step back in time and enjoy a simply good story, well told. It will delight and warm the heart

 

THE LONGING tells the story of why the Taten family decides to leave Holland and immigrate to America, where the streets are paved with gold, during the early 1900s  and their lives once they’ve arrived.

THE LONGING is the heartfelt story of one immigrant family’s travails and triumphs in America.  Unlike many who immigrated, the Taten’s reasons weren’t financial; however,America did offer them opportunities unavailable to them in Holland.

Paul is the patriarch of the Taten family.Paul wasn’t, per se, a bad man.  He had been catered to all his life by his mother, sister and wives.  He was prone to melancholy and depression, especially when things didn’t go the way he thought they should or wanted them to.  He was often self –centered.  Can’t say that I liked him but, then again, I didn’t dislike him. Paul, in my estimation, was a weak man when it came right down it.  When he went off pouting I thought someone should call him on it instead of walking on eggshells and babying him.

Jennie was Paul’s first wife; she died shortly after giving birth to Maarten.  Jennie was very committed to Paul and their children.  She also stood up for what she believed in, regardless of what others might say or think. Jennie was fragile physically though, perhaps from having so many children so closely together.

Janneken is Paul’s oldest daughter–kind and good natured.   Janneken was, overall, the only one who attempted to be nice to Dora until the possibility of immigrating to America came up.

Gertie is the second daughter.  Blunt, practical and smart she was one of my favorite characters.

Fred is the oldest son.  Always cheerful and determined Fred was another favorite.

Lisa is the third daughter and very much her father’s daughter.  In addition to Paul’s moroseness Lisa could be very knowingly hateful.

Magda and Maarten are Paul’s youngest daughter and son. After Jennie’s death Magda lived with Nel and Maarten lived with Oma.  For various reasons they stayed in Holland when the rest of the family went to America.

Oma is Paul’s mother.  She takes responsibility for Maarten after Jennie’s death.  She and Nel helped Jennie with the children and household duties for years due to her poor health.

Nel is Paul’s sister. Unable to have children of her own she looks on her nieces and nephews as partly hers, especially Magda.  Nel considers Magda hers and resents any interference even though she strives to hide it.

Piet is Nel’s husband.  Piet is well aware of Nel’s feelings and faults and loves her dearly.  He’s considered the wise one, always thinking carefully before saying anything. The family, as a whole, values his counsel.

Jacob is Oma’s brother.  Jacob is a labor leader in a local factory.  He’s much younger than Oma and not much is seen of him until after the Taten’s move to America.

Dora is Paul’s second wife.  Spinster daughter of a local wealthy farmer,Dora nursed her mother until her death.  Her father is distant, thinking more of his money than his daughter.  They lead separate lives while living in the same house. Dora encounters Paul for the first time at the cemetery.  In the village Dora was known, unkindly and rather unjustly, as The Hunchback so she rarely ventured there.  Poor Dora,Jennie was a tough act to follow and it’s nearly impossible to compete with a ghost.  Along with Fred and Gertie, Dora was a favorite.

Rachel is a Lithuanian Jewish girl they welcome into their family when her brother dies on the ship, leaving her alone.

Ko, a fellow Dutchman they meet on board the ship.

The Anderses,Anna and Ben, along with their sons Ralph, Finch, and John are a wonderfully warm and loving family.  Gertie goes to work for Anna shortly after moving to Wisconsin and the family plays a large role in the lives of the Tatens.

THE LONGING started a bit slow but that was most likely my adjustment to the writing style.  Simple and understated, the Taten’s lives flowed easily, conveying depth and a slew of emotions without being melodramatic and flamboyant.

By far my favorite characters were Dora, Gertie and Fred.  I adored Fred’s passion for life, learning and his upbeat optimistic attitude.  I very much admired the work ethic displayed by all the characters.  It’s something you don’t see much of anymore.

Gertie had a straight forwardness and honesty combined with a warmth that just drew you to her.  She was big enough to admit when she was wrong and apologize when necessary.

Dora, while the most maligned by others through the book, was my absolute favorite. Dora’s decision to fight for her marriage irrevocably changes her life and the lives of those around her.  She made the only choice she could, given the circumstances, so the only ones to blame were those who left her no alternative.  Dora displays a quiet dignity you can’t help but respect.

THE LONGING isn’t my usual type of read so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it and credit that fact to the way it was written.  I could easily have been reading about my great grandparents who emigrated from Belgium and also settled in Wisconsin.  Like me you may find it impossible not to compare then and now. Ms.Warmenhoven does an excellent job showing the Dutch culture and the Taten’s adjustments and sincere effort to assimilate.  THE LONGING is an engaging immigrant story that focuses on the characters’ lives and doesn’t have an agenda or point to make; making it highly readable and easy to get lost in.

3.5 stars

Corneila on Goodreads 

Cornelia Warmenhoven has led a storied life traveling the globe. As a young nurse in the Netherlands in the 1940s, Cornelia joined the Dutch Resistance against the Nazis. Soon after World War II ended, Cornelia married Henri Warmenhoven, a Dutch national who had grown up in Indonesia and who had been interned in a Japanese prison camp during the war. While Henri earned his degrees as a political scientist and lawyer, Cornelia lived with him and their son, George, in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and Europe before the family settled for good in the United States. She lives in Richmond and Georgetown, Virginia.

 

HAVE NO SHAME and Melissa Foster

 

HAVE NO SHAME
When civil rights and forbidden love collide  

“This book will resonate with readers who enjoyed Kathryn Stockett’s, THE HELP, Julie Kibler’s, CALLING ME HOME, John Grisham’s, A TIME TO KILL, Sue Monk Kidd’s, THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES, and Kathleen Grissom’s, THE KITCHEN HOUSE.”

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Within moments of starting to read, you will be transported back to the Arkansas of 1967 – hot, dusty, utterly rural and edgy. Poor white farmers dependent upon cheap black labor who, due to their superior numbers, are constantly suppressed, living on the wrong side of town, ghettoised and terrified. You will remember scenes from `In the Heat of the Night’ and `Easy Rider’; you will remember that, less than fifty years ago, if you were black, you could be beaten for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And if you died at the hands of a white youth, justice would almost certainly be denied you.” Author Roderick Craig Low

 

SUMMARY  

Alison Tillman has called Forrest Town,Arkansas home for the past eighteen years. Her mother’s Blue Bonnet meetings, her father toiling night and day on the family farm, and the division of life between the whites and the blacks are all Alison knows. The winter of 1967, just a few months before marrying her high school sweetheart,Alison finds the body of a black man floating in the river, and she begins to view her existence with new perspective. The oppression and hate of the south, the ugliness she once was able to avert her eyes from, now demands her attention.

When a secretive friendship with a young black man takes an unexpected romantic turn,Alison is forced to choose between her predetermined future, and the dangerous path that her heart yearns for.  

****

“A gripping and poignant novel dealing with a subject once taboo in American society.” Hagerstown Magazine

“Have No Shame is a powerful testimony to love and the progressive, logical evolution of social consciousness, with an outcome that readers will find engrossing, unexpected, and ultimately eye-opening.” Midwest Book Review

“A historical novel of love and its triumph, told with a unique and compelling voice.” Bestselling Author Kathleen Shoop

“Have No Shame is a delightful eye opener and a rather poignant book that everyone everywhere should put on their must-read list.” Readers’ Favorite

“A dynamic and heartwarming tale of young love, giving testament to those who struggled so we can live in an integrated society.” Author Rachelle Ayala  

“[HAVE NO SHAME] Perfectly catches the South at the dawning of the Civil Rights Movement. Melissa Foster takes us on an adventure that twists and turns unpredictably to a tense climax that renders this novel a true page-turner. This is undoubtedly the best novel I have read in a long time.”  Roderick Craig Low, Author of ‘Promises of Love and Good Behaviour’

“This book is not just a story; it’s an experience.” Author G.E. Johnson

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                                                               INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING AUTHOR

Melissa Foster

Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of four International bestselling novels. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, the World Literary Café. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success.Melissa is also a community builder for the Alliance for Independent Authors. She has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine.

Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington,DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.

Visit Melissa on The Women’s NestFostering Success, or World Lit Cafe. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.

 

Awards

Megan’s Way
2011 Beach Book Award Winner (Spirituality)
2011 Readers Favorite Awards, Winner (Fiction/Drama), Finalist (Women’s Fiction)
2010 Next Generation Indie Book Award, Finalist (Spirituality)
2011 New England Book Festival, Honorable Mention (Spirituality)

Chasing Amanda
2011 Readers Favorite Awards, Winner (Paranormal), Finalist, (Women’s Fiction, Mystery)
2011 Dan Poynter’s Global eBook Awards, Winner, (Paranormal)
Top 10 Books of 2011, Pixel of Ink
Amazon Top 100 75+ Days running
Indie Reader’s Bestselling List That Counts (8 weeks)
Top Books of 2011, The Write Agenda

Come Back To Me

2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Finalist,

2012 Readers Favorite Awards, Finalist

2012 Kindle Book Review Best Indie Books Award, Finalist

2011DanPoynter’s Global Ebook Awards, Finalist

Top 5 Must Read Books of 2011, IndieReader
Top Ten Books of 2011, Tea Time With Marce
IndieReader Best Reviewed Books of 2011, Huffington Post

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SHORT RIDES with Lorelei James and giveaway

 

 

Short Rides is an anthology compilation of two novellas and one short story in the Rough Riders world. These are NOT meant to be read as standalone stories, but are a peek into favorite character’s lives after the happily ever after…

The stories included in the Short Rides anthology are:
King of Hearts* — Deputy Cam McKay deals with a murder/suicide case on Valentine’s Day.
Rough Road — Chassie, Trevor and Edgard Glanzer spend a romantic weekend away from the ranch and kids celebrating their anniversary…only to return home to face their biggest challenge yet.
All Knocked Up — Keely and Jack Donohue are having a baby. Given Keely’s raging pregnancy hormones, will Jack need to wear a cup in the delivery room?
*previously published in the Guns and Roses anthology in 2012

KING OF HEARTS excerpt

A murder/suicide.

In Sundance, Wyoming.

It was one of the worst scenes Deputy Cam McKay had dealt with. And he’d seen a lot of horrific things over the years. He’d served several rotations inIraqand witnessed the aftermath of suicide bombers. He’d seen animals used as vessels to hold bombs. He’d been in a caravan that’d hit a string of IEDs, resulting in death and dismemberment of his fellow soldiers. He hadn’t come away from war unscathed—he’d lost most of his left leg, part of his hand, and bore scars, both visible and invisible.

During his time as deputy inCrookCounty, he’d dealt with deadly car accidents, including a fatality involving his cousin, Luke McKay. He’d broken up domestic disputes where one or both of the parties were drunk, armed, angry, and bleeding. He’d stumbled across a wild horse slaughter.

But this? It was beyond sickening.

The hysterical 911 call from the neighbor who’d discovered the bodies hadn’t prepared him at all for what he’d found at the crime scene.

His stomach roiled as his brain flashed back to the carnage and he fought the urge to throw up.

Again.

ButCamhadn’t been alone in his reaction. Sheriff Shortbull had stumbled outside and heaved over the juniper hedge after his glimpse at the dead couple.

A murder/suicide.

In Sundance, Wyoming.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Maybe it seemed worse becauseCamknew the couple. He’d graduated from high school with Jeff Wingate.Camcouldn’t fathom how the mild-mannered insurance salesman could carry out such brutality, especially to his wife. And Angela hadn’t fought back. She’d literally lay down and died.

What a fucking waste.

What a fucking mess.

There’d been no indication of domestic issues. No 911 phone calls in the last year. No history of violence. He’d seen them eating in Dewey’s Delish Dish two weeks ago. They’d acted… happy.

Because the crime scene was beyond their small county’s investigative expertise, they’d had to call in the DCI fromCheyenne. Which meant waiting for the crew to arrive. But neitherCamnor Sheriff Shortbull could stomach waiting inside the house where the bloodbath had occurred.

So they stood outside in the frigid February weather, taking turns warming up in their patrol cars. He and the sheriff were too disturbed to slide into their usual defense mechanism, cracking jokes—which was how most law enforcement officers handled unpleasant aspects of the job—trying to find any bit of humor to escape the horror of the gruesome scene.

Grand Prize:  $100 Amazon, B&N or ARe Gift Card (winner’s choice)
Winner will be announced 4/27/13.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

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Billi Jean with A SPARTAN'S KISS

Although this isn’t a New Years post, I am still celebrating the successes of last year. I think I’ll be celebrating 2012 for many years to come, too. 2012 was a year of change for me. Some good, some not so good. But through it all, I found within myself such strength at times I had to step back and say, “Slow down, girl!”

For my writing, this past year has been one success after another. I moved out from Noble Romance Publishing to work with Total E-bound and the transition has been wonderful. I still shudder at the memory of working with Noble and take the time to express my thanks to the great ladies and gents I work with at TEB. Sometimes life works that way – you learn through tough times, to appreciate the good times even more.

My first two novels, Midnight Star and Silver’s Chance are still ‘owned’ by NRP, but TEB was kind enough to let me continue my stories in a sub-series, entitled, Sisterhood of Jade. Tabithia’s story, A Spartan’s Kiss, starts this new series with some hot sparks, and I hope a loving, warm tale of two people finding true love.

I can’t say enough good things about working with TEB and won’t bore you with all the differences I’ve found, but I do have to mention that not only is TEB right on the money with their professionalism, but they take the time to ensure each and every sentence is formatted correctly and there are no errors, prior to print. In other words, you won’t find the ending to my book in the middle! J

Tabithia’s story deserved this tender care.

 

Tabithia is a witch with some deeply hidden issues she battles almost constantly. When she encounters her Spartan, Aeros, she falls down a path where she has to choose a life with him, where she hides her inner most secrets, or let him go.   There’s only one problem with those two choices – Aeros. He’s not about to let his witch go, nor is he willing to sit aside while she harms herself. So the two of them have a bumpy ride, but one I hope is well worth all the misunderstandings that arise between them. I hope you agree.

Here’s a small snippet from when Aeros is confronted with Tabithia in all her glorious badness – in other words, being the powerful witch she is.

 

“Stop.” Tabithia’s whisper had him halting a breath behind her. She smelled fresh, like some sunny field of jasmine, sweet and pure. “Back up a step, would you, Sparkie?” Grumbling something under her breath, she held a hand up when he opened his mouth. She took a step like a blind man would when entering an unknown room. “Not good. Not freakin’ good. Shit.”

“What is it?” He saw nothing. No difference that he could see or feel. Well, he felt something but it was a familiar pulsing beneath his trousers. Merely the sight of this woman had him gritting his teeth and clenching his hands to fight the urge to pull her close.

“Shhh…” Cocking her head to the side, she lowered her arm and slowly crouched down on the trail. A huge root criss-crossed at the toes of her boots, the thick moss-covered appendage bigger than his waist. He watched her reach out and run a small hand over the bark much like he’d fantasised about her stroking him. Under her hand, the root arched for more of her touch. His hand tightened on his machete.

“Ah…good, very good, but not good enough. You’ll have to try a bit harder, won’t you?”

Before Aeros could ask what she meant, her hands glowed green and she wove them in a complicated pattern. A cold breeze blew against his back and the small hairs on the back of his neck tingled. The men behind him shifted quietly, but didn’t move from their positions.

The breeze grew to a strong wind. Around them the jungle quieted. The immense kapok trees to either side of the trail suddenly made a sound as if struck by lightning. The crack had his rifle in his hands and his attention fixed on the path ahead of her. Behind him, he sensed his men doing the same. Near his head, flowers the size of dinner plates suddenly snapped shut, hiding their oddly coloured yellow, purple and pink petals.

Acting as if nothing had happened, Tabithia stood gracefully from her crouch, patted the kapok tree next to her and tilted her head up at him. A shiver settled over his back at the calculating look in her eyes.

“I thought I said you didn’t need that?”

He re-slung his rifle and ran a hand through his short hair. What to say?

“Mmm, well, whatever makes you feel better, I suppose. So, this godhead.” Her gaze turned into something powerful. “This is some kind of relic, don’t you think? She’s tricky, huh?”

She? Before he could ask, Tabithia shrugged.

“No worries, we’ll figure it out. Watch out for the vines, boys.” She tapped a long, thick one with her finger and tutted at him. “Poisonous, you know?”

“The vines?”

Behind him, Narc cursed and stepped away from where he’d been leaning on one.

“Yep, best not touch anything, ’kay?”

Again, she turned without waiting on a response. She stepped over the now motionless root and waved them on.

“Come on, they should behave for a while now, but we need to speed the pace up a bit.”

Narc lifted a shaggy brow. “Behave?”

“Did you see that root move?” the Bard demanded.

She’d spooked his men. All of them wore worried scowls, even Ajax. The silent assassin looked like he’d just been floored by her power.

“We move on. She’s a witch. She’s doing what she can to make sure we get the relic back.” He hoped. He drew his machete and the others did the same. The Bard had never sheathed his, he noted. Aaron grimaced but nodded. Narc simply scowled and fell back next to Ajax. Assured they all were paying attention, Aeros turned and caught up to her within seconds.

“What was that back there?”

She frowned. Her delicate eyebrows were shades darker than her stunning hair and angled down whenever she seemed to worry over something. Her bangs blew in the soft breeze, revealing the frown marring her perfect forehead. On the flight, she’d also nibbled her finger, analysing something in her mind for hours without speaking. What, he didn’t know, but he wanted to. Now he needed to.

“I need to know so I can be prepared, Tabithia.”

“Yeah, got the memo,” she grumbled. “The first spell. She’s good. And I have a feeling we are dealing with something altogether different, or maybe not different… Maybe she wanted out of your god’s little altar and out here in this realm. Whatever, she’s tricky, very tricky, but we’ll see who wins in the end, right?”

“Why do you keep refereeing to the relic as a she? Why can’t the godhead now be in the hands of a witch?”

She stopped and met his eyes steadily. Hers were the deepest green he’d yet seen on her. Serious. Deadly serious. Centuries before, he’d once passed through the far north, well past Hadrian’s Wall, and found a field, lush and deep green, on the edge of an ancient forest. Her eyes reminded him of that lush clover-filled field. “Well, because this godhead, or whatever you call it, is a creature, not a thing.”

“How can you be sure of this?” He was stunned. How could he not know this?

“I felt something, when I took it. I felt something.” She broke off suddenly with a frustrated sound. “But we were kinda in a hurry. Now?” Her look said she’d had more time to think, and what she thought just might kill any chance he had with her.

“It’s a female. What species, I’m not certain, but I soon will know. Soon. Maybe we’ll all know.”

He didn’t stop her when she moved ahead. Instead, he frowned at his men. Ajax caught his eye before he turned back to the trail. All of them were too far back to have heard her, but he doubted he could convince the playful witch to keep that bit of information under wraps. He still tried.

“Let’s keep that on the lowdown for now. You don’t know that and your guesses merely make this more difficult.”

She glanced back at him, frowning thoughtfully. “More difficult?”

He nodded sharply, hoping she’d see reason. Until they knew what the chalice actually was, it made sense not to say anything.

“So, keep the boys in the dark, huh?”

“They follow orders. They don’t need to know your guesses.”

“Guesses? Interesting.”

Why did he suddenly feel like he’d stepped into a minefield? The next moment, she halted him again, this time with a hiss and a hand on his chest. There was no time to savour how good her small, warm hand felt. A deep unease rushed up his system. He’d lived too long to ignore the warning. Death Stalker attacks usually triggered his instincts, but this felt different. Still, he grabbed hold of her arm and jerked her protectively behind him. Seconds later, all hell broke loose.

Tabithia turned into a shrieking banshee. With more strength than he thought she should possess, she broke his hold. Around them, the jungle erupted in howls, and something small whizzed by his head. Another something—much bigger—crashed through the jungle, making more noise than a nuclear bomb. His men cursed, pulling in tight, guarding Tabithia in a diamond formation.

Her green eyes glowed bright emerald, the colour matching the glow surrounding her palms.

“Hell, hell, hell. What the hell is this?” she screeched.

Behind him, he got the full force of something hitting him hard enough between his shoulder blades that he stumbled forward only to be jerked backward again by the little banshee’s grip on his shirt.

“Oh, no. You stay here. Get out of my way and stay put!”

She tried to shove him back. If she’d slapped him, he’d not have been as surprised. He didn’t budge. She glared up at him then spun in front of him, hands up, to face a stampede of what looked like jungle animals—wild boars, bristly rodents the size of house cats, monkeys screaming from the vines, and even a jaguar—charging them from the trailhead.

Before he could open his mouth or drag her to safety, she started chanting. The glow around her grew almost blinding. Around him, he heard his men swearing, but her voice, her musical song, distracted him. She pitched her tone so low he was surprised the beasts could hear her.

“By Maiden, Mother, and Crone, I bind you to obey me. By the three goddesses, you will listen. Three words I call, three words I evoke, three gods I choose. Go, obey me. Go, obey me! Go! Obey! Me!”

The last she shouted with such power his eardrums felt near to breaking. His men groaned, and the wild pigs squealed. The monkeys’ screams grew louder and turned into a frenzy. The jungle shuddered as the animals turned, frantic to be anywhere but near Tabithia.

“Sweet, you do not want to mess with me.” Her hand shot out in a dismissive gesture.

A branch fell, almost knocking her off her feet. She hissed at the tree and sidestepped the branch easily. Throwing her arms up as in frustration, she glared up at him and blew out a breath.

“Well, she wants to play, huh?”

An evil grin lifted her pink lips and before he could stop her, she leapt up on a tree branch two feet above his head.

“Fuck! Get—”

“Sparkie, never get in the middle of a cat fight.”

He growled a curse, and her eyes widened before she muttered something at him about his language. How she stood on the tiny branch he had no idea, and didn’t want to find out. Instead, he wanted her down. Now.

“Tabithia, you need to—”

Of course, she cut him off.

“Release them! You have no hold on such. Release them! Return them to their own. Release them!” She lifted her arms high above her head, weaving them so fast they left a green glowing pattern. As he watched, the green light spilled from her fingertips, like lightning from the clouds, built up to a brilliance that had him grimacing and his eyes watering to keep her in sight. Her red hair blew on a breeze, her heavy bangs lifting and revealing her determined expression.

Power sizzled to a point of almost pain around them. Next to him, a tree split in two, crashing heavily to the jungle floor. Another made an ear-splitting explosion behind him. As Aeros watched Tabithia, she flung up a hand and murmured something low. The tree veered left and landed a hundred feet to their left in the jungle. A branch followed, then another. Something sounding like flowing water began to penetrate his brain. Tabithia jumped down, landing lightly next to him in a crouch before slowly standing. Suddenly, everything around him dimmed compared to the powerful ten-foot-high wall of water cutting a path through the jungle towards them.

“Fuck!” Ajax made a jump closer. Aaron dropped into a crouch, looking stunned. Narc grabbed the Bard by the back of his BDUs to drag him closer. All of them looked out of their depth. He knew the feeling.

Eyes back on Tabithia, he watched as she lifted her hands, palms together until they were even with her face, then shoved them apart and out, making a sound like a shriek, wild and powerful, as she did. The wall of water parted close on either side of where they stood but not so much as a drop touched them. Around them, though, dark water the colour of mud, filled with debris, swirled and arrowed by them in a moving wall. Tabithia stood in the middle, the point deflecting the power attacking them while he and his men stood and watched.

Gods, she was magnificent.

Just as suddenly as the flood had begun, it slowed to a trickle around them. Silence filled the damp air. After the attack, the now quiet jungle almost hurt the senses.

Checking in on his men, he saw amazement on their strong faces. They’d faced many battles, some with magic spewing the land from under their feet, or attempting to slice them to pieces, but never once had they seen the kind of power this tiny witch called forth. And, even more incredible, she appeared as steady as usual. As if she’d not just held back a storm, parted a flood, and single-handedly saved their asses.

The beasts were gone. The jungle lay in wet, muddy destruction as far as he could see. Water flowed around their trail, in front and behind them, too, no doubt, but on the patch they stood it was dry, free of the wreckage littering the surrounding area. Dropping a bomb wouldn’t have caused as much damage.

A shriek cut through the air, ending the silence.

Tabithia crouched lower and nodded. “Aye, I agree, sister. But not a chance of it. Bring it on again, and I retaliate in kind. Let us come. We will anyway.”

Nothing met her soft-spoken words but silence.

In front of him, Tabithia lowered her arms. The brilliant green blaze flowing from her simply disappeared. Slowly she glanced up and nearly had him stepping back. Pain, rage, and something else, something dark swirled in the depths of her eyes.

“This is going to cost you more than I think you realise, Spartan.”

The fury in her tone gave him pause. The lack of nickname hit him harder. Something had changed. Correction, something had changed her. In place of the mischief, the prankster, was a cold, hard anger, and if he had to guess? Something close to disgust. Or disappointment. Or perhaps all three. Her gaze flashed up at him, then swept to his men. He shouldn’t have felt better that his men were earning her wrath as well.

She turned without another word and headed off with a muttered, “Don’t fall behind.”

He watched her step over a dead but still wild and dangerous-looking boar with enormous yellowed tusks. She didn’t even glance down at the creature. Somehow, he doubted she’d missed the beast.

‘This is going to cost you more than I think you realise, Spartan.’

What he had to pay for, he had no idea, but he was beginning to realise Ares had led him into a trap. A trap impossible to get out of without alienating the one woman Aeros wanted more than his next breath.

A SPARTAN’S KISS @ Total E-Bound 

Billi Jean on Amazon

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Continuing Education with Michele Drier

My seventh book is languishing, mired in the dreaded middle third.

I know where I’m going to end up—although I haven’t written the last line yet—but the middle is a slog. Partially because I’ve had a few interruptions.

I write in two genres, traditional mysteries—not cozies and not thrillers—and paranormal romance. And my timeline is three books a year. I’m an unknown, still, and figure that since I haven’t had the “breakout debut novel” I’m better off with a quantity of work out there. All good quality, just unread, as yet.

One of my other hats is the secretary of my local Sisters in Crime chapter, Capitol Crimes.

We have about 50 members and are an active group. In 2012 we were the host chapter for the Left Coast Crime conference—lots of work and great fun.

And last weekend, I was the chair for our one-day Writers’ Workshop, with David Corbett, Allison Brennen and Simon Wood as presenters.

Great line-up, wonderful workshop and a fair amount of work. Threw my schedule out of whack for couple of weeks…not to mention getting up at5:30 a.m.on Saturday (not a morning person any more!).

I’ve always called myself a panster—I start writing at page one and just write through, finding characters and trailing down paths and detours until the last line. It makes for interesting writing and my characters surprise me by the tacks they take and some of their reactions. Nothing out of character, just nuances I didn’t realize they had.

So I wasn’t sure how much I’d come away from the workshop with—beyond sore feet and a mild case of exhaustion.

But I did.David Corbett talked about characters and motivation, about yearning and questing, about barriers for the protagonist and resolution and secrets that, when revealed, lead to healing. Heady stuff.

Allison Brennen is a true pantser, starting each book with no idea where she’ll end up. And she does, with 24 novels as well as short stories published. “Prolific” was probably coined for her. And she does it all while raising five children.

Simon Wood is a plotter. He puts together a chart of about 80 scenes, color-coded by action, lead, subplot, surprise, final action and reaction and a wrap-up. Because of his meticulous planning, he can write a book in four months.

All different people with different writing styles and techniques. I went into the workshop as a worker, watching for late registrants, checking for the lunch delivery, eyeing the clock for windup, and I ended up being a student.

I believe everything is continuing education. I’ll continue being a pantser with an idea of where I’m going, maybe somewhere closer to Allison with a little of Simon thrown in.

But the best take-away? Positive, close to raving, evaluations, still trickling in. One participant said, “Thank you for allowing me to be able to attend this wonderful workshop and also join Sisters in Crime.”

And we even had a small profit!

Now back to Labeled for Death.

Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home.  During her career in journalism — as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers – she won awards for producing investigative series.

Her mystery Edited for Death, called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review is available at Amazon. She’s working on the second book in the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries, Labeled for Death, out in spring 2013.

Her paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, is available in ebook, paperback and audible at ebook retailers.  All have received “must read” reviews from the Paranormal Romance Guild. SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story and Danube: A Tale of Murder are available singly and in a boxed set at Amazon, B&N and Kobo. The fifth book, SNAP: Love for Blood rated 5 stars, is now out. She’s writing SNAP: Happily Ever After? for release in summer 2013 and a seventh book in late fall 2013.

Visit her websitefacebook page,  or her Amazon author page.

TIN GOD with Stacy Green

I have a confession: Kentucky is the farthest south I’ve been. I’ve never seen any of the plantations the Delta Crossroads Series describes, felt the smothering heat or smelled the sweet magnolias.

So why on earth did I set the series in the South? In 1985, when I was eight years old, I watched a miniseries with my parents. The series was North and South, featuring Patrick Swayze as Orry Main. It follows two men, Orry and George, (Orry from South Carolina and George from Pennsylvania), as they attend West Point, become close friends, and then weather their differences through the Civil War.

I fell in love with the history, the way of life, the speech, and the plantations. The horrors of slavery aside, the antebellum south cultivated a lifestyle unlike any other and in some ways, the southern states still have a very different way of life. Even better, they’re proud of their cultural differences.

 

North and South jump-started my love for history, and when I came up with the idea for TIN GOD, I knew the book’s religious undertones meant it needed to be set in the Bible Belt.  Mississippi immediately stood out. Littered with key points in American history, the state has several plantations, and many are operating as bed and breakfasts. More important is the historic town of Natchez, a place loaded with antebellum homes. Roselea, the setting for TIN GOD, is modeled after Natchez.

By creating Roselea, a town full of historical homes and busy tourists, it was easy to juxtaposition Jaymee, my heroine, as she struggles with poverty and her desperation to find the daughter she believes was stolen from her.

TIN GOD and the Delta Crossroads Series are set in the south because the mystique of the history and the haunting beauty of the plantations creates the perfect atmosphere for the mystery. Terrible things can still happen in safe, sleepy towns, and Roselea is the quintessential historic town full of nasty secrets.

 

My review of TIN GOD for those who may be interested

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About the author

Born in Indiana and raised in Iowa, Stacy Green earned degrees in journalism and sociology from Drake University. After a successful advertising career, Stacy became a proud stay-at-home mom to her miracle child. Now a full-time author, Stacy juggles her time between her demanding characters and supportive family. She loves reading, cooking, and the occasional gardening excursion. Stacy lives in Marion, Iowa with her husband Rob, their daughter Grace, and the family’s three obnoxious but lovable canine children.

Website

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SURRENDER TO DESIRE with Tory Richards

Surrender to Desire is available on Smashwords today! This short, erotic romance is the 2nd book in the trilogy of the Evans brothers. You met Beau and Marissa in A Perfect Fit. Now read Blade and Callie’s story! Both books can stand alone.

BlurbCallie thought her man troubles were over when she accepts work at the Evans ranch. Until Blade Evans rescues her out of a tree and she winds up in his arms, and his bed. Against her will she starts to fall for the handsome cowboy. Then begins to wonder, as his new housekeeper, is she just a convenient outlet for his sexual urges? Or does he feel the same way about her?

Unedited Excerpt

Oh Crap! Callie jumped out of bed the next morning, swearing when she realized she’d forgotten to set the alarm. It was five till six. That meant she had five minutes to get Blade’s breakfast ready. Voices drew her blurry gaze to the TV, which was still on. She’d fallen asleep and slept the whole night through. She rushed to the bathroom, splashed some cold water onto her face, and dashed from her room.

Her mind was racing as she quickly filled the coffee pot. She found the Texas bread in the fridge and popped two pieces into the toaster that was on the counter. The clock on the stove showed it was ten minutes after six. Grateful Blade was running late himself that morning, she began to search for a frying pan. Just as she found one in the bottom cupboard next to the stove footsteps behind her revealed Blade had entered the room.

“Good morning!” Callie was so nervous she didn’t give a thought to the way Blade was looking at her, or the reason why.  “I’m so sorry I’m late the first day. I, ah, forgot to set the alarm. I fell asleep watching TV and slept right through the night. I never do that. I must have been really tired.” She knew she was chattering a mile a minute but couldn’t seem to stop herself. She was nervous and aware she hadn’t set a very good example her first day on the job. “Coffee will be ready in a minute. Just let me get these eggs going.”

“Hold on!” he barked.

Callie stopped what she was doing and waited for him to continue. He was dressed much like he was the day before. Looking very male and capable of anything. As the silence grew between them she began to calm down. And that’s when she became aware of other things. Like the smell of coffee filling the kitchen, the sensual heat in Blade’s eyes as they lingered on her, the tic in his square jaw. Is he angry with me?

She knew the nightshirt covered her decently, stopping at mid-thigh. Marissa was a little smaller than her, so the material covering her breasts was stretched and she’d been forced to leave some of the buttons undone. Callie glanced down to make sure nothing was hanging out. It was worse than she thought. She wanted to groan when she saw how much cleavage was exposed, and that her hard, brown nipples looked like they were about to poke right through the filmy shirt.

Her gaze returned to Blade’s in time to see he was staring down at her breasts. She wanted the floor to open up and swallow her, praying he didn’t think she’d dressed like this to come on to him. Surely he remembered she didn’t have anything with her. When his gaze drifted lazily back up to her, Callie offered him a shy smile.

“Marissa gave this to me.” A slight draft brushed over her legs and for the first time she noticed how short the shirt hung on her. She reached down a little self-conscious to see where the hem rested against her upper thigh.

His left eyebrow raised a fraction, and he crossed his arms. “I’m not complaining. You show up every morning dressed like this and you can be as late as you want.”

Final book will cover Chaz and Val’s story!

Tory Richards

Smashwords

Megan Frampton and HERO OF MY HEART

 

Hero of My Heart is what many readers would call a difficult book—it’s got an initially unheroic hero (an ex-soldier with an opium addiction), an illegitimate vicar’s daughter, and takes place nearly entirely outside of London, far from the society displayed in most historical romances.  

In some ways, however, it is absolutely a traditional romance in that the hero and heroine have to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve their Happy Ever After—and (spoiler!) they do.  

The first image and idea I had for the book was of a man, obviously under the influence of something, sitting at a worn wooden table while a woman stood on a wooden bar having her virginity auctioned off. In writing Hero of My Heart, I took inspiration from one of the first “damaged heroes” books I read, Edith Layton’s The Devil’s Bargain, which had an intriguingly difficult and broken hero in Alasdair. I even borrowed Layton’s hero’s name for my own hero.  

While I love light romances where the most important thing is how much money the hero and heroine might have to live out their days—my first book, A Singular Lady, was about just that—I was interested in delving deeper into what might possibly allow a person to recover from something as painful and…addictive as drug addiction. I also wanted to have the hero and heroine together for the entirety of the book, not separating them to be able to think too much. They had to work out their issues together. The book was initially titled Road to Passion, because they were on the road together so long until someone pointed out the title was reminiscent of those Bob Hope/Bing Crosby/Dorothy Lamour road pictures (there were seven of those in all, began in 1940 and went all the way to 1962! So it was a good idea, just not the same kind of tone I was going for).  

Some of my favorite authors write supremely damaged heroes and the heroines who love them in spite of their faults—in addition to Layton, I look to Anne Stuart’s heroes for inspiration, as well as some of Connie Brockway’s darker romances. I also admire how Eloisa James can take an unpleasant person or a person with unlikeable qualities and turn them into someone we can all root for.

Megan on Amazon

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DRIVE ME TO DISTRACTION and Caitlyn Nichols with giveaway

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Sometimes life or death decisions are easy. Alex Radford has a choice – borrow the money to treat her mother’s rare and aggressive cancer from sleazy moneylender Hamish MacCameron. Or do nothing and watch her die.

MacCameron has an agenda. He wants Alex in his bed, and he wants her to help him exact revenge on his sworn enemy, Robert Dryden. He is only too happy to lend her what she needs, but the strings attached form a tangled web from which Alex has little hope of escape.

It’s not all bad. Since she was a girl Alex has had one dream: to become a Formula 1 driver and show the boys how to drive a race car. MacCameron’s money gives her a shot at fame, and in a move that scandalizes the F1 racing fraternity she becomes the new driver for Rob Dryden’s struggling F1 team, Prometheus.

Alex tries to keep her distance from Rob, knowing that one day she will need to betray one of the few people who ever had faith in her. But things begin to unravel when Hamish MacCameron is murdered and she and Rob are the top suspects on the list .

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I’ve always loved to read. I began pinching my Mum’s Mills & Boons (from the teetering pile by her bed) at the age of fourteen, and cannot remember a time in my life when I was without a romance novel. From the classics (Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen is my alltime favourite – because it makes me laugh) to the contemporary (Crossstich by Diana Gabaldon, or anything by Janet Evanovich, or… okay let’s not go there!) I love them all.

I began writing in 2005. Exhausted, pregnant (sure I was going to expire from morning-sickness) and coping with a demanding toddler, I decided the time was right to embark on a writing career. (In hindsight I may have been suffering from a scorching case of sleep-deprivation).

Still, it kinda worked out. My debut novel – and the first manuscript I’d ever written – Running Scared, was published by Samhain Publishing in January 2007.  My next book, Secret Intentions by also published by Samhain in 2009.  Then I had a short story published in the Mammoth Book of Special Ops Romance (MBSOR) in 2010 – my story is called The Grey Man.

In 2012 my novel Drive Me To Distraction was published with Momentum Books (Digital first imprint of Pan Macmillan Australia), and my novella The Danger Game came out with Escape Publishing.

Drive me to Distraction at Amazon

Fun Facts:

  1. When I first took myself backpacking in Europe (at the tender age of 17) I was such a young innocent thing that I assumed the scantily clad young ladies hanging about in doorways near her hostel were waiting for a lift home. (They were hookers)
  2. I’m ambidexterous. I can do almost everything left and right handed, except for write – which I do left handed.  (It comes in handy)
  3. I was born in England and moved to Australia in 1983. (I love them both – but I’m sorry UK, the Aussie rugby team owns my heart)
  4. I hate shopping, and am bored by shoes. My husband loves shopping and shoes. (We are a perfect match).
  5. Televisions unexpectedly turn themselves on in my presence. (Seriously, its freaky)
  6. I love to travel by train. (I often don’t feel that way about my travelling companions though)
  7. I love to garden and have a huge vegetable patch – I grow awesome tomatoes – even though I loathe them and never eat them.
  8. I can speak, read and write Chinese (very rustily). Many years ago (1998) I spent three months on a language exchange in Kunming, Yunnan. I was once locked out of my apartment complex, and was caught scaling the fence by the local police. (It ended well – and there are a lot of photos of me looking slightly stressed adorning a police station somewhere)
  9. I once wanted to be a chef. I studied cooking for a summer at the Cordon Bleu cookery school in London. One of the other students was from Montana, he fell madly in love with me and begged me to go back to the States and live on his ranch. (I said no – but I’ve always wondered what if??)

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Rose, Exposed - When Characters Have Secrets with giveaway

Thank you for hosting me today. I’m excited to discuss character secrets and my recent release, Rose, Exposed, a multicultural historical erotic romance set in the 1930s.

When Characters Have Secrets

Secrets never fail to fascinate. Discovering them is fun. Keeping them is challenging. In my latest release, Rose Exposed, Rose, a biracial young woman with pale skin, struggles with the biggest secret of her life — pretending to be white in 1930s southern Maryland. Living a double life stirs up every emotion imaginable, including fear, doubt, curiosity, and even excitement. After a lifetime of never fitting into either race, she enjoys the experience of identifying with one group. Leroy, the African-American hero, however, brings out another side of her she cannot deny.

The problem with secrets is they’re hard to keep under wraps. The good thing about them is they make great plot devices for books. When the reader knows something some of the main characters don’t, she feels empowered. She also sits on the edge of her seat as she reads, wondering when the cat be will inevitably let out of the bag and what disaster will follow. Good books torture characters to the max because that’s what creates conflict and makes them grow.

Although secrets can be complex, they usually make for an honest good read!

Rose, Exposed

Publisher:  Ellora’s Cave Publishing

Release Date:  27 March 2013

eBook ISBN #:  978-14199-45205

Buy eBook

Stay tuned for reviews and more.

(I love creating trailers for all my books!)

Blurb

When Leroy gets promoted at the new oyster plant on Pearl Point, all he cares about is working hard. Then he meets flirtatious artist Rose, and soon nothing matters except getting her to the altar and into bed. He’s healing from a recent loss, and isn’t about to let her go too.

Because Rose’s strict, social-climbing father doesn’t approve of dark-skinned Leroy, they court in secret. Although Leroy’s raw passion can convince her to do almost anything, why can’t he understand she needs freedom, not marriage? However, in the 1930s, freedom for any woman is hard to come by.

In Leroy’s arms, Rose finds unimaginable sensual pleasures, but she’s torn by desire and duty. Her father wants her to be white; Leroy wants her to embrace her black heritage. Playing both sides of the fence leaves this young biracial beauty exposed in more ways than one.

 

Excerpt (modified)

Rose, Exposed – Copyright © AFTON LOCKE, 2013 – All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.

 

“You’re so…dark,” she exclaimed. Instead of the disdain he expected, he heard fascination.

Come on, lady. Don’t tell me you’ve never seen a colored man before. 

“Yes, I’m dark,” he agreed as he politely removed her hand, “which is why it’s not a good idea for us to sit alone together in this car. Someone might come along and jump to the wrong conclusion.”

A conclusion that could get him beat up or worse with the Klan close by on Oyster Island.

But before he could stop her, she clasped both sides of his face and pressed her sweet mouth to his. A man only had so much self-control, and she’d just shattered his. Unable to stop himself, he plundered her delicate mouth. Her lips reminded him of rose petals, and he sucked the sweetness out of them as if he were a bee. The more he tasted, the more he wanted.

She opened, giving him access to her even sweeter tongue. Taking a big breath, he pulled away from her.

“We can’t do this. You’re white.”

She looked down at her upturned palms. “Then I really do look white?”

Leroy frowned. “Aren’t you?”

 

WIPs Coming Soon

Rose, Exposed is the sequel to Plucking the Pearl, an interracial historical erotic romance.

I have two more books planned for the Oyster Harbor series. Next up for romance are Sadie and Henry.

Where readers can find me

I will be attending EC’s RomantiCon Oct 10-13, 2013 in Canton, Ohio – Don’t miss the book signing on Oct 13th.

I’m also hosting a Fabulous Fusion workshop with Koko Brown and Eve Vaughn to celebrate interracial erotic romance for EC’s Fusion line.

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This post is part of the official Rose, Exposed Blog Tour (3/26 – 4/09).

The grand prize for the tour is vintage-style rose earrings for pierced ears (U.S. shipping address only).

To be eligible, COMMENT on this post. Comment should include the historical time period and geographical setting (when and where) you’d most like to see in a romance.

The tour winner will be announced at http://www.aftonlocke.com/RoseExposedTour.html on April 11th.