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Violet Dukes Complete NICE GIRL TO LOVE with giveaways

 

NICE GIRL TO LOVE (The Complete Collection)  

The • Nice • Girl n. 1. female of the species who never does anything or anyone bad: Hands-off, she’s a nice girl. 2. the woman that men take home to meet mom: Find my son a ‘nice girl to love.’ SEE ALSO: a good girl; girl scout; Abby Bartlett.

This is the complete Nice Girl to Love serial romance collection, which contains: Resisting the Bad Boy (Book One), Falling for the Good Guy (Book Two), and Choosing the Right Man (Book Three).   

THE ONE SHE NEVER THOUGHT SHE COULD KEEP… 

Abby Bartlett is the quintessential nice girl. Between teaching, volunteering, completing her PhD, and helping her best friend raise his daughter, Abby never gets the chance to be anything but nice. That is, until the all-wrong-for-her man she’s only ever known from afar starts daring her to simply take that chance for herself. His sage advice? Try something wild and fast.  Preferably him.

An unbridled, hotshot attorney with a not-so-little black book, Connor Sullivan has earned himself quite the bad boy reputation. But in his defense, he’s a very conscientious one. He knows far too well that sometimes in life, love isn’t enough…or worse, not even a factor at all. To avoid that misery–and repel the drama–Connor has a firm ‘nothing over a month’ rule.  Who knew a nice girl would be the one to make him want to break all his rules?  

THE ONE SHE NEVER HOPED SHE COULD HAVE… 

Abby is well aware that everyone thinks she’s in love with her best friend Brian. He is, after all, the type of man a nice girl should be with—the polar opposite of the bad boy—the kind of guy who didn’t let his wife’s decade-long illness stop him from showering her with a lifetime of love every second until her dying day. But everyone’s wrong; she couldn’t possibly be in love with him.  Because she’s never once allowed herself that option.

It’s taken a while but Brian has finally come to terms with surviving the woman he spent half his life loving, a third of it losing. Truth is though, he wouldn’t have ‘survived’ any of it really had it not been for Abby—sweet, incredible Abby—the woman he’s never once had to picture his life without, never realized he couldn’t truly live without. Until now. Now that he’s finally able to love her the way she deserves, the way he knows she wants to be loved…by his brother.  Who’s giving him exactly one chance to speak now or forever hold his peace.   

A DECISION SHE NEVER DREAMED SHE’D HAVE TO MAKE… 

And now it’s up to Abby to decide between the bad boy wanting to start a life with her and the good guy fighting for the life they’ve already built.

Abby went mute as she felt Brian’s tongue lash across her skin, sensitizing the nerves to levels beyond pleasure.

If he didn’t stop, there was a good chance she’d pull the towel he was wearing right off.

“Do you want me to take it off?” he asked, his words tickling her skin.

Yes.  “No,” she stammered, unable to take her eyes off the portion of the towel that was tucked at his hipbone.  Just one good tug—

“I was talking about the ice, sweetheart.  But if you have other things in mind…”

Ice?  What ice?  “Oh!  Ow.”  The burning of the ice at her ankle finally filtered through to her brain.  “Yes, actually, can you take it off?  I’m a wuss when it comes to icing my injuries.”

Brian quickly pulled off the ice and rewrapped her ankle before resuming his massage.  “So back to the other things you wanted me to take off,” he teased.

Okay, seriously?  It was a really good thing the man had never flirted with her before because she was certain she’d never have survived it, especially not when his hands were kneading her muscles into butter.

“You’re impossible,” she complained thickly, though it came out more like a purr.  His massages should be illegal for how good they felt.

She blinked slowly at him and started wondering idly what was so wrong with him losing the towel.  A fuzzy smile drifted across her face.

“Damn, you’re going to fall asleep on me aren’t you?”  Brian’s voice floated over her hair softly as he pressed a smiling kiss to her forehead.  “Go ahead and rest, sweetheart.  You had a pretty eventful afternoon.”

With that, he stood and walked over to the linen closet for some clothes.

Shame.

He was heartbreakingly handsome.  Always had been.  But ever since he’d gone back to coaching afterschool to supplement his teaching income, he’d gotten even burlier from the added lifting sessions before practice.  It was almost unfair.  Superhuman, really.  His build was now more impressive than the average underwear model’s physique—a standard issue Sullivan trait it seemed—though every other aspect of him remained far gentler and way more mellow than Connor.

She’d never thought of mellow as being the new sexy.  But it so was.

And nice was the new hot.  With two T’s.

Hearing Brian’s soft chuckles echoing in the room, she realized she must have said the last couple of sentences out loud.

“I think you’re ‘nice with two T’s’ too, Abby,” he whispered before kissing her on the cheek.  “Sweet dreams, honey.”

Violet is giving away a $25 gift card via the Rafflecopter below.  She’s also giving away Resisting the Bad Boy (Bk.1) and Falling for the Good Guy (Bk.2) to one lucky commenter!  Who do you think is more appealing, Good Guys or Bad Boys & why? Giveaay ends @12 am est August 5, 2013 with the winner announced shortly thereafter.  Good Luck! 

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VIOLET DUKE is the pen name of Nina Nakayama, lovingly chosen in honor of her two adorably wacky kids.

Nina blames her lifelong addiction to reading on the public library she all but lived in as a kid.  Now decades later, she’s still a bonafide book junkie with a book-a-day habit she can’t kick and nightly reading-by-flashlight binges.

You could say that reading was her gateway obsession, with writing being its natural progression.  And she couldn’t be happier for it.  She gets to scramble after a bunch of untamed story characters in her head for a living, without the fear of men in white coats and butterfly nets coming after her—not for those reasons anyway.

Like the heroines in her novels, Nina has had her fair share of ups and downs in life…along with a quirky happily-ever-after she couldn’t have written better herself.  Her dream house on O‘ahu is one that some crazy builder let her draw up the plans for via an old bargain bin architecture software readable only on WinXP or older.  And the hero of her romantic tale is a guy who, after getting her number from her former student, tricked her into nightly marathon phone calls while she’d been trying to focus on her doctoral dissertation.  She ended up falling in love with the sneaky man within weeks­—before ever meeting him in person—and marrying him a few months later.  Now, whenever folks ask what inspired (possessed) her to one day put a pin in her career as an English Ed professor to pursue her dreams of becoming a romance author, she smiles and points an accusatory thumb at him.

You can find a longer life story here with jucier details…and photos.

Why I write with P. J. Roscoe


It is a question I have asked myself on numerous occasions, especially when I get a rejection, and there have been many over the fifteen years of writing, but it is one I have never truly answered. It would be easy to say, ‘because I love it’ or ‘I do it because I’m good at it’ but what is it that drives me to write knowing the chances of publication are slim and at best I might receive an obligatory letter of rejection so there’s no doubt and no room for hope. Yet, I will, after a day or so of lamenting my trauma return to the one true action in my life; writing.

Is it an addiction? Do I need to fulfil my quota of words; like a drug addict who yearns for the poison that will set them free for awhile? Is it essential for me to lose myself in the dream that ‘this submission is going to be the one that will get their attention’? When the reality is, there are millions of us out there all dreaming the same dream; we can’t all be granted the same wish or there would be bedlam!

Bringing up a child with Autism is my full time job. Counselling and holistic therapy are my part time jobs, but writing is not and never has been a job, it is me. Plain and simple. I cannot live without breathing, I cannot live happily without writing, it is a necessity too strong to be ignored. An itch that has to be scratched, or else like a person with an itch, I cannot sit still, I cannot concentrate on anything else until I have scratched and then, I am free to continue with all the other elements in my busy life. As my husband points out to me when I say I should give up, “I couldn’t live with you if you weren’t writing, you wouldn’t be who I fell in love with!” meaning I am resilient, courageous and I believe in what I do, even if I forget it once in awhile.

And so I cry and sulk before I allow the frustration to work its way to my fingers and I get back on the computer and continue my journey. I breathe in and I breathe out, and keep going because if all else fails, I can look back and say, ‘I did that. I wrote novels that people enjoyed; no regrets.’  On that note, I’m off to work on my third novel ‘Where River’s meet’ and empty my head of the whirlwind of idea’s that fight to get out at all hours of the day. To all you writers out there, do what pleases you and be happy regardless of acceptance.

P.J Roscoe

Award winning author of ‘Echoes’ winner of best e-book in the Paris book festival and Honourable mention in the New England book festival. Five star review from Readers Favourite.

                                                                                                          

 

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All my novels can be found on Amazon and Kindle.

Echoes’ is also available on Smashwords for a free 25% download.

 

 

 

A Sister Nun mystery THE FAMILY THAT STAYS TOGETHER and giveaway with Deborah Plummer Bussey

Creating My Feng Shui Writing Space

I have a beautiful home office with a sizeable mahogany desk and large black leather office chair that comfortably supports my back and oversize butt.  It was decorated by my sister, Simone Alisa, a designer in Atlanta who is also the inspiration for the Tina character in the Sister Nun Mysteries They Still Call Me Sister and The Family That Stays Together.  The colors are coordinated shades of brown, tan, and white with a pop of lime green.  There is a beautiful tufted contemporary white couch with side table and a contemporary lamp with a white linen cylinder shade.  The windows are large and face the carefully manicured entrances of the front of my condo complex.  It is the perfect place for writing.  But I never write there.

Instead, when I write, I plop my oversize butt on an old floral chair in my sun room with my laptop resting on one of those hard lap desks that they probably don’t even sell anymore because everyone uses some kind of tablet.  There isn’t a whole lot of room in this chair and I have to share this space with my pug, Louis Vuitton.

I love my sun room. It is a great place to relax, meditate, listen to the radio or music or watch endless hours of programs on the Food Network channel. The sun room is not the most conducive place to write.  But that is where I choose to write the Sister Nun mysteries.

During a move to a new home, I found all of my journals from the years when I was in the convent.  Pages of pages of angst.  Pages describing futile attempts to be holy. Pages of navel gazing that did not have its root in narcissism but were really about deep anxiety and low self-esteem.  As an African American woman in an all-white community, my writing coach encouraged me to use the journals to write a memoir.  Really?  And expose all of those insecurities and anxiety? No way.

So when I was encouraged by a friend to write fiction, the Sister Nun Mysteries were born. The main character Kathy, a former nun and practicing psychologist always discovers something in her therapy practice that she feels compelled to bring to light because there is a suicide that she believes to be a murder or an accidental death that she is convinced is actually a murder.
As a psychologist and former nun,Kathy is like me in a few ways and so not like me in so many ways.  As she comes more and more alive on the pages of these novels, she develops her own unique identity.  Her gregarious sister and partner sleuth Tina, inspired by my own sister, shares Kathy’s passion for life but could not be more different in how she expresses that passion.

Somehow it seems fitting that Kathy and Tina come to life—their lives—in my sun room.  It is not the most conducive conditions for writing if you were to compare that space to my home office, but it works.  It is my Feng Shui writing space. The space creates the kind of harmony and balance needed for writing and making the sister sleuths come to life.

 

 

When a television celebrity becomes suspect in the murder of her ex-fiancé, sister sleuths Kathy and Tina rally to support their family friend. Soon they end up in trouble. Will family ties be strong enough to protect a suspected murderer?

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Thanks to Sami at JKS Communications we have a digital copy of THE FAMILY THAT STAYS TOGETHER for one (1) lucky commenter.  Could you do something as taxing and intense as investigating a murder with your sibling?  Giveaway ends @12 am est July 30, 2013 with the winner announced shortly thereafter.  Good luck!

 

 

 

 

Former nun and practicing psychologist Kathy Carpenter knows something is off when a patient is found dead and it’s claimed a suicide. Enlisting the help of her gregarious sister in Atlanta, she sets out to prove her patient was murdered. But with the only suspect a shadowy figure called “Brain Fag,” the answers seem well out of reach. As Kathy gets closer to the truth, political intrigue begins to surround her, and her own life begins to be in danger. Can she find the killer—or will she be a victim

herself? Mystery lovers will thoroughly enjoy the first in a series of psycho-social tales featuring amateur sleuth Kathy Carpenter. They Still Call Me Sister is a warmly written story with an intriguing and diverse cast of characters and plot twists that will keep you guessing.

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One of Deborah Plummer Bussey’s favorite childhood memories is visiting the local library where she first immersed herself into the world of books, but she never thought that one day she would become a writer. She is now releasing her third book in summer 2013.  Bussey lived in Cleveland, Ohio, until she was recruited to the University of Massachusetts Medical School in New England. She holds a Master of Education degree in community consultation and a doctorate in psychology. She is a psychologist and human resources professional with expertise in diversity management and  organizational development.  After a lengthy career as an academic, she discovered a passion for writing. Bussey’s nonfiction self-help book, “Racing Across the Lines: Changing Race  Relationships Through Friendships,” released by Pilgrim Press received the
publishing company’s Mayflower Award for Best Publication in the church and state category. She is also the editor of the “Handbook of Diversity Management: Beyond Awareness to Competency Based Learning” from University Press of America.  Having spent more than a dozen years of her life as a nun, Bussey is the creator of the Sister Nun mystery series. Half Dozen Publications released her debut novel, “They Still Call Me Sister,” in December 2011. Her newest book, “The Family That Stays Together,” is due out in July 2013.

Deborah on Amazon            B&N            Facebook           Half Dozen Publications     Goodreads

Tara Fox Hall and TAKEN FOR HIS OWN

My latest book is Taken for His Own, the fourth installment in my Promise Me Series. It takes up where the third book left off. Sar had done her best to rebuild her life when her fiancé Theo went missing. She’s partnered with her former vampire lover Danial to raise Theo’s daughter Elle (Elle’s natural mother is dead from childbirth complications). She’s also had a child of her own with Danial, Theoron, and is trying to come to terms with her inevitable turning from human to vampire. When she finds out Theo’s alive, she can’t stop herself from journeying west to find him, and confront him about where he’s been for the last year and a half. This is where Taken for His Own begins. After a passionate reunion and a hasty marriage, the two lovebirds are headed back east. But picking up the pieces is far from easy. While Danial is accepting of Theo’s return, Elle prefers her vampire adoptive father over Theo. More than one enemy is waiting in the wings, making repeat attempts on Sar’s life. Add into the mix Devlin, Sar’s old enemy who’s now turned good guy, and a new paramour for Danial and you’ve got a powder keg primed to explode.

After learning Theo is alive, Sar immediately embarks on a mission to find him. Reunited, the lovers return to New York; Danial, Terian and Theo uneasily combining forces to protect Sar from Al’s assassins still seeking her. But when Sar is taken prisoner in an all-out attack, only one man can save her: her old adversary, Devlin.

“What about what you did to me?” I whispered, gazing at him and biting my lip.
“That wasn’t a whim,” Devlin said, dropping his eyes. “That was my bad judgment. Sadly, it wasn’t the worst mistake I’ve made in my life.”
“What was?”
Devlin didn’t answer. I reached out and took his cool hand in mine.
“When you lead others you must do whatever you have to in order to save your people,” he said with a sigh. “Compromising values should matter less than saving lives.”
“I agree with you,” I said. “If you rule others, you have a responsibility to them above the responsibility to yourself. But even then, I think your family should come first.”
“They should,” Devlin said in a cracked voice. He swallowed hard. “But the past can’t be undone.”
I squeezed his hand. “What happened to Danial wasn’t your fault.”
“Yes, it was,” he said softly.
“How is it your fault?” I said curiously, easing closer to him.
“Because I should have known what the thing was when it attacked. I didn’t know anything back then, except strategy and tactics. I was too concerned about rising through the ranks as fast as possible, so I could leave my family behind and become someone important.”
“What did you want to be?”
“A commander of men, either soldiers or police.”
I was surprised that Devlin would want to uphold the law or spend his life guarding others. Yet it made sense. When he’d taken me from my house years ago, he’d insisted on taking me to Danial, because I wore the choker. He was here putting himself in danger now to keep me safe.
“I knew something had attacked a few people on that road in that last month,” he continued. “I knew that there was a chance we might be attacked transporting the prisoner. But the road was the quickest way to our destination. I’d been assured that if I made the journey in good time, I’d get the promotion I wanted, and Danial would get my old position.”
“You aren’t at fault for what you did. It wasn’t for an evil reason.”
“Yes, I am,” he said despondently. “It was my greed and pride that doomed us.”
Carefully, I reached for Devlin and put my arms around him. He tensed at my touch, then relaxed.
“You did the best you could. You aren’t damned.”
“Yes, I am. You have no idea what I’ve done.”
I shifted uneasily.
“And I wouldn’t want you to,” Devlin added, his arms snaking around me loosely. “My ends have always justified the means, no matter what they were. I’ve done great evil in the hope of averting worse evil. Sometimes it worked and sometimes not. Still, it’s likely that given the chance to do my life over, I’d do the same things, make the same choices. I’d find myself here, at this same point in time, a fallen king.”
“In case you’re wondering,” I said deliberately. “I’m waiting for you to add into your speech somewhere that you regret everything you did to me while you were king…um, ruler.”
“I regret hurting you,” Devlin said quickly. “Yet I don’t regret coming for you that night or taking you to Danial.” He looked up at me. “You might not have gone back to Danial after Theo went missing, if I hadn’t. Theoron might not be here. I can’t regret any action of mine that led to him being born.”
I didn’t reply, considering his words.
Devlin laid his head against my chest, and his arms tightened on me slightly. We lay there like that for a few moments, not speaking, then I slipped into sleep.
I woke sometime later when Devlin stirred. According to the bedside clock, it was almost dusk.
“I have only one regret,” Devlin said finally, propping himself up on his elbow, his expression intent.
“What’s that?” I said, covering my yawn with my hand.
“That it wasn’t me you found in your quarry that night,” Devlin said, kissing the back of my hand with cool lips. His golden eyes locked on mine, transfixing me, as he drew my hand away from my face.
He was going to kiss me. My lips parted as my breath caught in my throat.

Amazon      Smashwords      Melange/lulu link for Print, PDF and HTML copies

All Romance E-books        B&N     Facebook         Goodreads      Visit Tara

I’ve loved vampires since I sawFrankLangellain the first “hot vampire” version of Dracula years ago. That love intensified in my later teens with The Lost Boys, and reading Interview with the Vampire, along with anything vampire I could get my hands on. But I wanted more than the evil monster chasing young virgins; more than the sweet, misunderstood handsome fanged stranger that becomes the perfect mate for the woman who captures his heart after so many lone centuries. I wanted a vampire so well-crafted in detail that I could believe he was real. I wanted something different to happen in the story, other than girl becomes vampire, or vampire becomes dust. I wanted passion, tragedy, romance, suspense, action, and the haunting sweetness of poetry and song floating on a soft night breeze. So I penned my own vampires.

7/24-Manic Readers

7/25-Amanda Master

7/26-Anthony Cowin

7/27-Elodie Parkes

I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS Cover Reveal and Excerpt with Jessica Scott

Chapter One

Fort Hood, Texas Early 2007

Sergeant Vic Carponti paused outside his company operations office, taking a deep breath. It was funny how their corner of Fort Hood felt deserted the night before a deployment. The company colors had already been cased. They would uncase them in a few weeks, once they got settled into their new home across the ocean in the middle of the war.

He didn’t know why this deployment was bothering him so much. It wasn’t his first time heading off to war, so he knew what to expect when the shit hit the fan in combat. But there was something hanging over his head this time. A fear that maybe this time his luck would run out.

He sighed and rubbed his face with both hands before walking into the company ops. The only thing they’d left up was the plaque that bore the names of their fallen brothers from the last deployment. The commander—Captain Trent Davila, a man Carponti had known for years—was planning on carrying that with him personally so it couldn’t ever get lost.

And so no one would ever forget. Carponti reached up and took it gently off the wall, then strolled into his company commander’s office with a nonchalance painted on his face that he damn sure didn’t feel. But people expected him to laugh and joke and make them forget the bad shit all around and so that’s what he was going to do.

“Don’t forget this,” he said, placing the plaque on Trent’s desk. He plopped down in a chair, then kicked his feet up on Trent’s desk. “Are you coming out with us tonight?”

Captain Trent Davila lifted one eyebrow at Carponti’s feet and said nothing. Carponti looked at his commander and longtime friend, then at the plaque next to his boots.

“Fine,” he said with a sigh, dropping his feet to the floor. “So answer the question.”

Trent sighed. “I can’t go out with you guys. I’m the company commander. I’m not allowed to have fun,” Trent grumbled. “Besides, my boss would have my nuts in a sling if anything happens while I’m there.”

“It’s the last day before our deployment. You’re allowed to have fun. You can just say you’re supervising all of us miscreants.” Carponti took the last Dr. Pepper out of Trent’s fridge. “The deployment hasn’t even started and you already look stressed the hell out. You should be working your lieutenant to death instead of trying to do everything yourself.”

Trent shook his head and pushed his glasses to the top of his head. “Yeah, well, my new executive officer seems to think he’s God’s gift to the army. He’s good but he’s not as good as he thinks he is.”

“Oh, the boys just love him,” Carponti said.

“Really?”

“No, not really. He’s an arrogant fuck who believes his own press. Personally, I can’t stand him, but luckily I don’t have to deal with him much. I just sic Sarn’t Garrison on him.”

Trent grinned and reached for the plaque, sliding his hat on top of it so he wouldn’t forget it. “Yeah, Garrison has a way with words.”

Garrison was Carponti’s platoon sergeant. Garrison and Trent had been squad leaders many moons ago when Trent had still been enlisted. In Carponti’s world, it meant a whole lot that Trent had stayed close with his enlisted friends even after he’d crossed over to the dark side and become an officer.

“I’m swinging by his place on my way home. He needs to go out before someone shoots his grumpy old ass. He’s been a complete buzz kill since his wife left him.”

“Your sympathy is astounding,” Trent said dryly. He grinned and shook his head. “Why do we put up with you?”

“Because I’m charming and funny and good in a firefight?” Carponti said with a grin.

“Pretty much. You can make anyone laugh.”

“It’s an important life skill. Like balancing a checkbook. So seriously, find a babysitter and come out with us. Your wife could use some fun before she has to spend the year dealing with all the spouses in the Family Readiness Group and chasing your kids around while you’re off on another fun adventure.”

“I wouldn’t exactly call going to combat a fun adventure.” Trent rubbed his chest. There was a scar there, Carponti knew. A scar that had damn near killed Trent several years ago. Carponti wondered just how much stress his commander was carrying and not telling anyone. Trent’s face flushed when he realized Carponti had caught him rubbing his scar and he tapped the pencil hard enough to snap the eraser off. “You know, you’re right. Let me see if we can’t find a sitter.”

“Excellent. We’ll be congregating by the bar when you get there. Now I just have to go convince Garrison to come out with us.”

“Good luck with that,” Trent said, pulling his glasses down. “He’s on the verge of becoming a warrior monk.”

“Not if I have anything to say about it,” Carponti mumbled as he strolled out of his commander’s office. He wished he hadn’t seen the flicker of worry that flashed in his commander’s eyes when he’d mentioned his wife. He’d thought that Laura and Trent were one of the strongest couples he knew. She’d put up with him deploying back to back to back since he’d almost died a few years ago.

But that flicker of worry? Yeah, Carponti hadn’t missed it. There were problems there, hopefully small ones that Trent would take time to fix after this rotation into the sandbox.

Carponti looked down at his own wedding ring. It was his last night home and his last night with his wife.

He was glad he’d convinced her to come out with him and the boys. That way he could make sure they had a most excellent party and spend time with Nicole at the same time. He was going to spend part of  the night chaperoning his guys to make sure they made the most of it—which meant making sure no one ended up in jail—but then? Then the time he had left was going to be spent making his wife laugh.

Because try though he might, he couldn’t shake the quiet dread that settled in the pit of his stomach that tonight was the last night of normalcy he had on this earth.

<orn_sb>

Nicole Carponti breathed deeply and fanned her eyes, trying to stop the burning of hot tears. She leaned against the wall of the bathroom in Ropers and tried to stuff down all the churning emotions chained to the fact that her husband was leaving for war tomorrow. Again.

The first time he’d left she’d been scared, but then the war, the deployment…the waiting…it had all been unknown. She’d worked on finishing her degree and kept herself busy and waited by the phone like all the military wives who had gone before her.

The second time he’d left, she’d known better what to expect. The long waits between phone calls. The silence when he couldn’t talk long. The quick e-mails saying “I’m alive” that once upon a time would have been too little, but during the war were more than enough to keep her going.

But this time? This time was different. The Surge was different. They were sending in massive amounts of soldiers to try to quell the Iraqi insurgency. It was bloody and deadly and soldiers were getting attacked at higher rates than at any earlier time during the war.

And Nicole was terrified.

She had to hide it, though. She’d agreed to come out with him tonight just because it gave her a chance to pretend that she was fine. She had to keep everything in check until after he left. She couldn’t let him know how much she worried this time.

Fanning her eyes once more, she stepped out of the bathroom and into the rowdy country bar. A place like this was guaranteed trouble on a normal night, but tonight her husband’s platoon was rolling deep. Which was either going to be a really good thing or a really bad thing for her future job at the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division, depending on how cantankerous tonight got.

She spotted her good friend Laura Davila at the bar with a cute blond woman Nicole had met in the bathroom a little while ago. She had already completely forgotten the other woman’s name. She was terrible with names.

She wound her way through the pulsating crowd until she reached them. Laura grinned at her and she exclaimed, “I can’t believe you came out tonight.”

“You’ve already said this twice,” Laura said. They had to shout to hear each other.

Nicole flagged down the bartender and leaned around Laura to her friend. “I’m a terrible person but I already forgot your name. I’m Nicole Carponti.”

The petite blond held out her hand. “Jen St. James.”

“Nice to meet you, Jen. I won’t forget this time,” Nicole said with a smile.

Laura leaned toward Nicole. “I’m trying to get her out of her shell. She had cancer and she’s been struggling with her self-esteem ever since.”

Nicole frowned, glancing toward Jen, who was now trying to get the attention of the bartender. On the other side of her, though, was Garrison, her husband’s platoon sergeant. He was a big man and he was currently leaning down to talk to Jen. “How’s that for a self-esteem boost?” Nicole said, gesturing toward the two.

Laura glanced over, then quickly looked away before she was caught. Her eyes lit with a brilliant smile. “Oh, that couldn’t be more perfect if I had planned it.”

Nicole studied her friend through narrowed eyes. “Did you plan it?”

“I wish. But let’s just see how this little situation develops, shall we?”

Nicole raised her beer in mock salute to her friend. “You, m’dear, are a devious and loyal friend.”

“I’ll drink to that,” Laura said. “So how’s Carponti taking this deployment?”

Nicole heard the undercurrent in her friend’s voice. “You know how he is. Always cracking jokes, which I suppose is a good thing. I’m fucking terrified, though.”

“Yeah, I know. I’ve been talking to some of the spouses. The Surge has everyone terrified. One of the spouses told me it was a death sentence.” Laura took a sip from her beer, scanning the bar.

Nicole scoffed quietly. “How’s that for melodramatic?” But she didn’t voice her own fear that this deployment was going to be worse than the previous ones. “I don’t envy you as the Family Readiness Group leader.”

“Oh, come on, don’t you want to volunteer? You can be responsible for keeping me from going crazy. It’s a primary duty position, you know.”

Nicole laughed. “Not in this lifetime,” she said. “I always feel out of place once the spouses find out I’m pretty much a cop.”

Jen leaned over, rejoining their conversation as Shane wandered off in the direction of Laura’s husband. “What’s going on over there?” she said, pointing at Laura’s husband.

Nicole sighed heavily and took another drink. “Oh joy. Looks like Trent is giving one of his lieutenants some love. Couldn’t have the rest of the night without drama, could we?” She glanced back at Laura and Jen. “We should go interrupt before the second round of fireworks go off.”

Earlier Vic had gotten into an argument with Lieutenant Randall and now it looked like Laura’s husband was finishing things off with the arrogant prick. The LT made Nicole’s skin crawl and she wasn’t looking forward to another bar fight. Not two in one night, that was for sure.

But whatever had happened was over now. She watched as LT Randall made a beeline for the door. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Garrison talking to Jen again. And Laura? Once Randall was gone, she and her husband moved off to a dark corner of the bar and were deep in conversation.

She hoped it was a good one. She didn’t like the worry she’d seen in her friend’s eyes when she talked about her husband.

She snuck up behind Vic, sliding her hands over his hips and up his t-shirt and the smooth hard skin of his body, placing a kiss at the little indentation at the indentation between his shoulder blades.

He turned and wrapped his arms around her shoulders. “There you are.” He kissed her fiercely, reminding her of how much she loved this man. “I was about to send out a search party for you in the little girls’ room.”

Nicole wrapped her arms around his waist and lifted her chin to meet his eyes. He was leaner than he’d been when he’d come home last year. His body was more solid from long ruck marches and hard training for this deployment. His eyes, though, were the same bright, mischievous green that they’d always been and she counted herself lucky that whatever he’d gone through in the war, he’d come home okay so far. She just prayed their luck held.

“No search party required,” she murmured against his lips. “I was talking to Laura. I’m impressed that you got Garrison and Trent to come out.”

“You should be,” Carponti grumbled, biting her bottom lip gently. “I had to guilt both of them into it. It’s like they both turned thirty and amputated their fun genes or something.”

Nicole laughed against his mouth. “Dance with me?” she asked.

“What in our history makes you think I know how to dance?” he grumbled even as he allowed her to lead him onto the dance floor.

“You’ll figure it out,” she said, sliding her arms around his neck. She rubbed her body against his, sensuously moving her hips in time with the music.

He dropped his hands to her hips, guiding her exactly where he wanted her. “Keep that up and we’ll have to sneak out to the car,” he said, his breath hot on her ear.

She nibbled on his bottom lip, biting it gently. “I think you’re trying to seduce me,” she whispered. She dug her fingers into his back, her blood humming with latent arousal. God but she loved this man.

“I’m absolutely trying to seduce you,” he said. He angled his thigh between hers, pressing close to the juncture of her thighs. The pressure sent vibrations through her body and straight to her core.

“I’m kind of ready to go home.” Her words were a gasp as he rubbed his thigh against her swollen center. “Before you get into any more fights with your lieutenant.”

“Can we not talk about work when I’m trying to turn you on?” he mumbled. He slipped his hand beneath the hem of her shirt, stroking his thumb down the centerline of her back. A shiver ran through her.

“You don’t want to talk about work? That doesn’t turn you on?” She undulated against him, grateful for the crush of bodies that swayed around them and enabled them to be lost in the crowd.

“No, trying to get you naked turns me on,” he said. “We really need to get out of here.” His breath traced over her ear a moment before he bit her earlobe gently, a fierce burst of pleasure in the pain.

“That sounds like a brilliant idea.”

He sighed as a commotion cleared a corner of the dance floor. “I hate being one of the responsible adults.” He kissed her hard. “Let me get everyone out of here first? That way no one goes to jail on our last night in the States.”

She kissed him fiercely. “I’ll be waiting over here for you to get done being all caveman.”

“I’ll show you caveman later,” he said with a grin before wading into the crowd and diffusing the situation between Garrison and Trent.

It took the better part of an hour before they’d shuffled everyone off to their respective cabs and vehicles. Nicole talked with Laura and Jen and tried not to notice how Jen kept watching Garrison. Oh now wasn’t that interesting?

It felt like forever before her husband strolled across the parking lot and scooped her up, carrying her toward their vehicle.

Their car was parked deep in a shadowed corner of the parking lot, and the moment her husband closed the door Nicole crawled into his lap on the passenger’s seat. He pulled her close, kissing her hard and fast. Pouring a thousand unsaid things into that kiss. His hand threaded into her hair and he slanted her mouth until he owned her—all of her—and she was lost in his taste, his touch.

Then he broke off abruptly. “What the hell?”

“What?”

“Who is that with Garrison?”

Nicole twisted around in time to see Garrison, one of Carponti’s oldest friends, lean in to kiss Jen.

“Oh now that’s interesting,” Carponti whispered.

Nicole spun around. “Don’t you say anything to him,” she said.

“Why not?”

“Because this is the first time Garrison has done anything for himself since his wife left him. Leave him alone.”

Carponti blinked innocently. “What makes you think I would say anything?” he said. His words slurred and Nicole grinned before fishing around in his pockets for his car keys. “A little more to the left.”

Nicole laughed then climbed into the driver’s seat as Garrison stepped back, letting Jen walk to an ancient sedan. “She’s cute. She’s friends with Laura.”

Laura, who was being carried across the parking lot by her husband. She hoped for Laura’s sake the happiness lasted longer than just tonight. The war was taking its toll on everyone, and Nicole had noticed more than once that there was a strain in her friend’s voice when she talked about her husband.

Vic just looked at her. “Oh really?”

Nicole drove them away before her husband could interrupt what had looked like something very sweet between Jen and Garrison. She’d known Garrison as long as she’d known her husband and it was long overdue for him to find someone that made him happy outside of the army.

She glanced at her husband, who had closed his eyes the moment the vehicle started moving, a lazy smile on his lips. Something warm bloomed inside her.

She wished Garrison could find the kind of happy that she had with Vic.

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Five Favorite Snippets from His Passion, Her Temptation

I’m very excited about my new release, His Passion, Her Temptation, which is the fourth book in the Dominating BDSM Billionaires Series. His Need, Her Desire (Book 1) is currently free at most online retailers. His Desire, Her Surrender (Book 2) hit bestseller lists in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. Her Wish, His Command (Book 3) released in June.

Today, I thought I’d give you a peek at a few snippets from the book. Enjoy!

1.  Ben approached Monica and then turned his back toward her. He loosened his tie and pulled it free, tossing it over his shoulder in Monica’s direction before unbuttoning his shirt and letting the fabric fall to the floor. He turned slightly and caught her eye. Monica flushed under his wicked gaze.

2.  Questions bubbled up inside her, but she didn’t dare speak and break the silence of the audience. Awareness of him spread throughout her body. Her fingers itched to touch him and she longed to taste his lips.

3.  Monica felt no embarrassment—no self-conscious urge to cover herself under his appreciative scrutiny. His boyish quality was gone—erased by need for her.

4.  The burning ache inside her burst into an inferno of need. The craving for his touch overwhelmed her, and she strained against him, writhing. “Ben … please.” Her voice cracked.

5.  Monica expected him to push up her skirt immediately but he didn’t. He smoothed the fabric and then skimmed his palms up her bare back. He massaged her scalp with his fingertips, and his thumbs found the tight muscles of her neck. Ben cupped her shoulders and rubbed in a calming, circular motion.

His Need, Her Desire (Book 1) is currently FREE at most retail outlets.

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His Passion, Her Temptation 

Granger Pharma executive Monica Granger is hiding her relationship from her family. She has to. Her lover is the son of her father’s biggest business rival. Ben Coron is more than Monica can resist; he’s everything she’s ever wanted—including dominant in bed.

But when Coron Health makes a play for Granger Pharma, Monica’s relationship—and her life—blow wide open. She loses her job, and her family rejects her. Someone’s stealing Granger’s vital trade secrets, and worse, Monica’s brother is dodging attempts on his life.

Their passion is too strong to keep Monica and Ben apart for long. They must thwart the takeover and heal the rift between their families. If they don’t, they’ll never trust one another enough to pursue the dominance and submission they both need.

*****

 

“So, do you want to eat now … or later?” Monica’s smile turned seductive.

“Well, I think I might need you first.” His hand reached to touch the silkiness of her hair.

“I agree. Food can wait.” Monica pulled his head down and kissed him, greedy to taste his lips.

Without breaking the kiss, Ben guided her out of the hallway into the living room.

Monica slipped her finger under the edge of his collar. “You know, it doesn’t seem fair that you get to call all the shots.”

“Oh? I call all the shots?” Ben’s hands roamed to her rear and squeezed.

“Yes … you decide when and how …” Monica licked the edge of his lip.

“One, that isn’t quite true, and two, I haven’t heard you complaining.” He gave her a playful pinch on the ass.

“Oh no, I’m not complaining.” Her hand moved to the front of his pants, cupping him.

“Then what?” His hands slid down to the back of her thighs.

“I thought it might be fun to … try a little something else.” She rubbed him through the fabric of his pants.

“What did you have in mind?” Ben swept his hands up her back and tangled his fingers in her hair.

Monica tilted her head back. “Do you recall that night before I left for Hawaii?”

“I do believe it is burned into my memory.”

“Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t be interesting to reverse things.” Monica observed his face for a reaction.

“Reverse things?”

“Oh yes.” Her finger laid a trail down the front of his chest. “You,” she poked him gently, “would do as I say.”

“I see. Are you finding you have a dominant streak?” he teased.

“I’m not sure, but I have a desire to find out.” The thought of taking charge appealed to Monica, not all the time, but perhaps occasionally.

Ben smiled. “That sounds … enticing.”

“I hoped you’d think so.” Monica walked around him, patting his ass with her palm.

“How would you start?”

“I’d tell you to disrobe for my viewing pleasure.” Monica enjoyed looking at the hard planes of Ben’s body, so different from her own curves.

“Shall I?”

“Oh, yes.” Monica crossed the few steps to the seating area and settled herself into an upholstered chair.

Ben approached Monica and then turned his back toward her. He loosened his tie and pulled it free, tossing it over his shoulder in Monica’s direction before unbuttoning his shirt and letting the fabric fall to the floor. He turned slightly and caught her eye. Monica flushed under his wicked gaze.

His Passion, Her Temptation is available for preview and purchase at the following online retailers.

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This month I’m part of the Insatiable Reads Book Tour, where the hottest authors in romance debut their sizzling new reads! We’re touring the web and awarding prizes the whole month of July.

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*****

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Malia Mallory lives in Hawaii with her husband and daughter. She’s been working with words since alphabet blocks rolled into her crib, not only writing her own work but copy editing and proofreading the work of others. She has loved to read about relationships since she first sneaked off with her mother’s Harlequin.

Malia Mallory is the best-selling author of The ABCs of Erotica series, which covers the erotic spectrum from BDSM to ménage and everything in between. More releases in the series are on the way. She has also released the Mia’s Cop Craving series and Santa’s Backdoor Baby. Malia’s books have hit the bestselling erotica lists at both Amazon and iTunes. Her books are available in electronic format at major retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Sony, Diesel, Smashwords and AllRomance Books.

For a free copy of B is for Beach from The ABCs of Erotica, head to her website and sign up for the newsletter.

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Meet Grim Hammerhand of NORTHMAN’S PLEASURE with Kate Hill

Grim Hammerhand has a reputation. Fierce, cunning and remote, he’s a warrior without peer. Many believe that in battle he changes into an enormous red wolf. Today the man himself isn’t available for an interview, but people who know him are willing to talk. Here’s what they have to say about the man who has been sent to rescue his king’s daughter.  

I knew as soon as Grim came for me that I didn’t stand a chance against him. I’d once fought alongside him and knew that once engaged in battle, he showed no mercy. If I was going to fall by his blade, I wanted him to suffer as well. Using pretty Asgerd as a flesh-and-blood shield seemed like a good idea at the time, but in the hereafter, the shield maidens aren’t pleased by my treatment of the woman. Maybe I should have spent less time drinking mead and more time training.

~ Stein the Black, speaking from the afterlife

I shouldn’t feel this way, but I can’t help being grateful to Grim for destroying my nephew. I’m not sure how much longer the village would have lasted under Stein’s leadership. The way he treated everyone, slave and freeman alike, was appalling. Before Asgerd arrived, Halla and I bore the brunt of his violence. Still, we didn’t suffer nearly as much as Asgerd, since we weren’t forced to share his bed closet. Yes, Stein was my nephew and I had some feelings for him, but the truth is he was a monster. I hope Grim treats Asgerd in the manner she deserves and I hope for all our sakes, he’ll be a better leader than Stein.

~Gudrun, Aunt of Stein the Black

Grim? He’s arrogant and miserable. Hardly talks unless he’s barking orders. He stormed in here like the God of Thunder and overthrew my brother–not that I’m complaining about that. Stein deserved what he got, especially after how he treated Asgerd. Speaking of Asgerd, I don’t know what she sees in Grim–or maybe I do. He’s rather attractive, if you like rangy men with fiery red hair. Personally I think his cousin Thorkel is more handsome. A clumsy oaf, but a handsome. Not to mention he’s a great warrior and kind and. . .I’m sorry. It’s Grim we’re talking about, isn’t it? He seems to care about Asgerd very much, but he’s a hard man to read. Asgerd isn’t a fool, though. If she trusts Grim and believes in him, then so do I.

~ Halla, sister of Stein the Black

You were just talking to Halla? What a woman! One day I hope to make her my wife, but don’t mention it to her yet. I don’t know how she’ll feel about it. Grim? He’s a great warrior and will be a strong leader. He’s stern, but he knows people. I tend to be a little awkward off the field of battle, but he still wants me by his side. I’ve learned much from Grim and will always be loyal to him.

~ Thorkel, a young warrior and cousin of Erik Ice Tooth

What can I say? When I discovered my daughter was abducted by Stein, I knew Grim was the man to mete out justice. He would squash the traitor like a bug. I was much like Grim in my youth. Handsome. Powerful. Ready to rule. My daughter Asgerd has lusted after him for years, but Grim had strange ideas. He didn’t want to marry or have children. I had a feeling he might change his mind, though. When I offered Asgerd to him, I knew eventually he would accept. I’m usually right.

~ The King

Yes, some people have a problem with Grim, but he’s an honest man. What he lacks in charm he makes up for on the battlefield. One thing I’ve learned about both my brothers, they have to be accepted flaws and all, but I guess that’s true of most of us, isn’t it? I have no doubt Grim will be a fine leader. He needs to learn how to relax and enjoy life, though. Hopefully Asgerd will help him with that.

~Sigfred, Brother of Grim Hammerhand

Grim and I had our differences in the past, but I would trust him with my life. Even more, I’d trust him with the lives of my beloved Bera and our son. He can be aloof and unyielding, but he would protect those he cares about with his life. He’s loyal and just. I’m proud to call him brother.

~ Erik Ice Tooth, Brother of Grim Hammerhand

 

 

 

Northman’s Pleasure releases July 17th from Ellora’s Cave

Legend is Grim Hammerhand is half wolf. Vowing never to marry, the muscular, red-haired warrior saves his passion for the battlefield and the forge. That is, until the woman he secretly lusts after is abducted.

Asgerd has loved Grim for years, only to be ignored by the object of her desire. She has eluded the bonds of marriage, hoping that someday Grim will notice her, but her dreams are shattered when she is captured and defiled by the brutal warrior Stein.

After the king sends Grim to rescue his daughter and claim Stein’s land, the passion between the couple finally ignites. In the end, Grim’s mistrust of all women could destroy their one true chance for happiness.

 

 

“Defiant females must be common around here then.” Grim raised an eyebrow and held up Asgerd’s bonds, then tossed them aside.

It felt so good to be free of them. She rotated her ankles. He grasped her foot and lightly rubbed the place where the metal had worn away part of her boot. Their gazes locked and Asgerd’s heart beat faster. She studied Grim’s angular face and lingered over the breadth of his shoulders. Glancing at the long-fingered hand curled around her ankle, she imagined how it would feel on other parts of her body.

After what she’d endured with Stein, she’d never imagined being aroused by a man, but it seemed he hadn’t fully killed her passion.

For so long Asgerd had managed to save herself and avoid coupling with men she could never love. Truly, in a girlish fantasy, she’d imagined Grim falling in love with her, marrying her and taking her to his bed. Now, whether he claimed her or not, she had been ruined by Stein. She wondered if she’d ever cleanse her soul of that filthy pig’s touch.

“Is my cousin Thora alive?” Asgerd asked. She hoped Thora had survived the attack during which Stein had taken Asgerd captive.

“Yes,” Grim replied.

Asgerd sighed with relief.

Grim finally released her ankle. He stood and she couldn’t help admiring the length of his muscular legs. His hard thighs strained against his trousers and his soft boots hugged his well-developed calves. He raised his hand and Asgerd instinctively flinched—not that she believed Grim would strike her, but after being with Stein, she’d learned to dodge blows.

His brow furrowed. “I was merely reaching for the shackles,” he said, taking them from the table. Their gazes met for a moment and he glanced at a rough-looking slave woman who was cleaning off the table. “Leave that to the others. I want the bed closet emptied of Stein’s belongings and the bedding aired. From now on my wife and I will be staying there.”

Asgerd’s heart sank. She forced herself to sound just mildly interested when she said, “Wife? I didn’t know you married, Grim.”

“I haven’t yet. Your father offered me this land if I defeated Stein. He also offered me your hand in marriage.”

About Kate

Always a fan of romance and the paranormal, Kate Hill started writing over twenty years ago for pleasure. Her first story, a short erotic vampire tale, was accepted for publication in 1996. Since then she has sold over one hundred short stories, novellas and novels.

When she’s not working on her books, Kate enjoys reading, working out and spending time with her family and pets.

Kate also writes under the pen name Saloni Quinby. She enjoys hearing from readers and she can be contacted at katehill@sprintmail.com.   Visit Kate online.

What’s in a name with Declan Sands

In my fun and sexy Hoale Construction mystery series, my main character’s name is Adam Hoale—A. Hoale for short. #:0) Believe it or not this character was named after a real life person. The unfortunate real-life guy was so desperate to escape his parentally-assigned moniker that he actually took his wife’s last name when he married. Apparently he didn’t share my love of fun and interesting names. #:0)

I’ve always liked names. I enjoy finding names that roll off the tongue in a fun way, names that reflect genealogy (or species), and names that give clues. I’ve been known to flip words around and use them backwards as hidden messages. (Hint: Check out the planet names in my Blood-Hound paranormal series. #:0) In general, I wring the most I can from the names I pin to characters and locations in my books. And because I believe that character and location names are important, I give a lot of consideration to them in my books.

Character names are a huge part of the character’s makeup and identity. When a reader begins reading one of my books, he or she has no idea who my characters are. It’s my job to introduce them on level that is deep enough to form a friendship. This is no easy task within the space of a few hundred pages, or in the couple of hours it takes to read a book. It’s especially difficult in a novella, which is what I write exclusively for one of my publishers. So every detail about a character is important. Every detail highlights a little bit of my character’s personality, his background, and what makes him tick.

Sometimes the picture a name paints is misleading. When that happens, the fun is in showing just how different my character is from the name I gave him. The name I give my character forms a picture in the reader’s mind. If I tell you a character’s name is Alastair Honeybun, do you picture a frail old Englishman drinking tea? Would you be surprised to hear he’s a strapping six foot three inch sexy man who lives in Indiana (at least between the pages of the Honeybun Heat series books #:0)

In my Hoale Construction series, Adam Hoale has to suffer insensitive jokes from people who refer to him as A. Hoale. Adam handles the burden of his strange name with grace and good humor and that’s a point in his favor and a window into the strength of his personality. It’s one small detail that, mixed with all of the other things we learn about Adam in the course of these books, makes the reader understand him a bit better. And hopefully encourages her to see Adam as someone she wants to spend more time with.

So, what’s in a name? Actually, just about everything!

Happy Reading everybody!

Hoaley Inexplicable – M/M Romantic Suspense/Mystery

Bringing Bobby’s Gym into the twenty-first century should have been fun. But the dead guy draped over the weight machine definitely took the joy out of it!

The Hoale Construction gang has taken on the task of bringing Bobby’s Gym into the twenty-first century. But the dead guy hanging from the new lat machine is putting a serious crimp in their timeline. When Bobby becomes the number one suspect for the murder, Adam and the gang are forced to try and clear him. But who is the guy? And was Bobby really the last one to see him alive? Questions only seem to multiply the deeper they dig. Until they uncover a connection with a group of thugs who call themselves the Indiana Mobsters. Things just continue to spiral downward from there.

5 Stars! “Adam Hoale and the gang are dragged into another murder mystery when they find a dead body in Bobby’s gym. Who is the guy and how can they convince C.C. that Bobby didn’t do it? This is another fast paced, truly humorous, terrific mystery. You could probably read it stand alone but with a series this good you really ought to read them all.” ~Donna, Goodreads Reviewer

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Other books in the series:

A Hoale Lot of Trouble, Book 1
Hoaley Ill-Manored, Book 2

AUTHOR BIO:

Declan Sands writes romantic paranormal/fantasy and mystery/suspense, creating stories that celebrate the joy of love in all its forms. Known for writing great characters, snappy dialogue, and unique and exhilarating stories, Declan has been writing for over a decade under several noms de plume.

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What My Teaching Career Taught Me About Writing with Jayna Morrow

 

 

 

Over the summer, something magical happens. The organization fairy pays a visit to my empty classroom and transforms it into the most magnificent, color-coordinated learning environment on the planet. Books are sorted, supplies are materialized, papers are filed, new draperies are sewn, bulletin boards are trimmed, and desks are placed neatly in rows. When I arrive for in-service week, my co-workers and I take in a few workshops and meetings, and then have lunch and reminisce about our relaxing summer vacations at the beach.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian romance author, Jayna Morrow, is published with Prism Book Group both in print and eBook formats. With a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Texas and elementary teaching certification from LeTourneau University, Jayna has been in the position of both teacher and student for many years. Her debut novel, Garrett, is the first in the Sweet Home, Texas series. The theme of Garrett is finding God’s purpose and trusting in God’s plan. Jayna makes regularl guest blogging appearances all over the internet, and has even been featured at eReader News Today and Christian eBooks Today.

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All Romance Ebooks

 

 

 

Did you pick up on the sarcasm in that first paragraph? In reality, I am my own organization fairy, complete with construction paper wings dusted with chalk. I spend several days a week during June and July in my hot classroom (there’s only air conditioning on certain days) sorting books by level and topic, taking inventory on supplies, filing and prioritizing paperwork, sewing new draperies and reading cushions, decorating bulletin boards, experimenting with different seating arrangements, and scouring yard sales for treasure chest trinkets, more books, craft materials, and odds and ends. Summer is also the time for the bulk of my lesson planning. Going through the TEKS and matching them up with fun projects and engaging activities, so I’m prepared for every teachable moment, makes me a better teacher.

And therein lies the key to success that applies to writing as well – preparation.

I’m a plotter by nature and that means putting on my teaching cap and doing a lot of prep work. I’d never take on a class of 22 students without a lesson plan, and I’d never take on a new manuscript without an outline. From characters and plot points to problems and solutions, I have a method for them all. Every day for a month, I uncover another layer in the pre-writing process. Then comes the rough outline and first draft. Finally, a finished product I can work with on many rounds of editing. In all, it takes me about 4 months to complete a novel. My goal is 4 books a year, so I’m working on efficiency to improve my productivity. Like my students, I have goals.

I have many writer friends who are pantsers, and all I can say about them is that they are like those gifted students who never have to study and make straight A’s. I commend them. Writing a novel is no easy task. I’m the kind of student who has to study a lot, take good notes, highlight important information, and keep a detailed binder on everything. Maybe that’s why I’m a plotter? Teaching and writing go hand-in-hand. It’s a process that spans a certain length of time, requires a fair amount of learning, and involves setting and achieving goals.

Have I accomplished all my goals? Yes, some of them. Then I set new ones. My experience as a teacher has taught me to set high expectations. I’ll let you, the reader, decide if I achieved those expectations.

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“I see you decided to show up.” The harsh words grated like a meat grinder in Garrett Hearth’s ears. They echoed with double impact in the small metal building that served as the town hall.

His brother, Gabriel, shoved a straw cowboy hat on his head and stomped in the direction of the large, glass front door. He slammed into Garrett’s shoulder as he passed—a childish gesture, but one that spoke volumes.

Garrett took a step back to absorb the shock of the aggressive move. The churlish greeting came as no surprise. Gabriel could always be counted on to let him have it, no matter what the situation or who was watching.

“Good to see you, too.” He raised his voice loud enough for others in the room to hear. He wanted to draw attention, simply because his brother disliked it, but Gabriel never looked back. Guess he wasn’t in the mood today.

Garrett didn’t understand Gabe’s animosity and he never would. Their lives were so opposite they might as well live on different planets.

He pulled his attention back to the here and now. The folks filing out of the city hall building wore a variety of expressions, from angry to nonchalant to visibly stressed. He’d missed the meeting. Not that it mattered. Most everyone in town was against him anyway. Well, he didn’t care. His property belonged to him, and he could sell it to whomever he wanted. He didn’t owe anyone anything.

A shaft of late-afternoon light pierced his eyes as the front door opened, and he squinted. A young woman with bouncy brown hair and long, slim legs jogged out the door and caught up with Gabriel. He watched as the two talked, the woman using lots of descriptive hand gestures.

Moments later, she returned to the building more slowly than she’d left. By this time, Garrett stood in the entryway alone. She stopped in front of him, the smell of earth and flowers wafting around her, and gave him a slight smile that ruffled his soul like a warm breeze.

“I need to lock up. Are you ready to leave?” A pleasant enough voice, Garrett decided, although she looked a bit tired from this closer perspective, and she seemed a bit exasperated.

She stood in the doorway and jangled a set of keys from fingertips that sported well-chewed fingernails. Her jeans were worn in the knees and torn in places. Soil covered the tops and sides of her athletic shoes. She wore a t-shirt that read It’s Easy Being Green on the front. Rich, brown hair was pulled into a ponytail, but some of it had worked free and was tucked behind her ears. She’d clearly been working outdoors, but her beauty shone through all the dirt.

She tapped her toes, and Garrett remembered she’d asked a question.

“Yeah, I guess I missed the meeting. I better head out.”

“It was a good one. I think we’re finally starting to convince the property owners that selling out to the developers is bad news for Sweet Home. We’re already beginning to see the effects of heavy construction everywhere. Those vultures.” She pursed her lips and narrowed a pair of hazel brown eyes. Garrett stepped around her and out the door. He didn’t want to get into a debate right now.

The roof’s overhang blocked the light, making it possible to see without a glare. Her expressive eyes sparked with raw emotion, and for a moment her passion for the town almost swayed him from his resolve on the issue dividing Sweet Home—to sell or not to sell.

Almost.

Progress had been creeping into the small Texas town for years. A rural area not far from Bishop, Texas, Sweet Home had drawn the attention of big-city developers. Landowners were being offered good money to sell. The situation had neighbor pitted against neighbor. For months, town meetings had tried to bring unity, but so far, the efforts had only added fuel to the fire.

“I’m sure I’ve seen you around before, but I don’t think we’ve officially met.”

The young woman’s statement refocused his mind and he noticed her ringless hand stretched out toward him. How long had he been lost in those beautiful brown eyes?

“Garrett Hearth.” Their hands made a warm connection. Hers sported a layer of dirt, which she transferred to him during the handshake, leaving his skin feeling a bit gritty.

Enthusiastic and beautiful. Too bad she was on the wrong side. That made her a beautiful bother.

“I saw you talking to my brother, Gabe. How long have you two known each other?”

Rumor had it that Gabe was involved with some dark-haired woman. One of his co-workers told him that she was a well-to-do real estate broker from Bishop. Gabe always traveled there to see her. Could this be her? For some reason, he hoped not. She looked more country than city.

“Gabe’s your brother?” Her eyes lit up like amber stars. “Then you’re another descendent of this town’s founding family!”

A sense of pride surged through him, then fell away like leaves from a tree in autumn. His ancestors had settled here long ago, and others established homesteads around them. The Hearth family had named the town. For many years, life in Sweet Home had been ideal for all residents—pure, simple country living.

Now it was time for change.

“Yeah. That’s my family.”

“You must be so proud of your rich heritage. What a history this area has.”

Her eyes sparkled as she looked toward the surrounding hay fields, where golden bales glowed in the early evening sun. Beyond them, a densely wooded area boasted a variety of trees—old oak, pecan, and cottonwood stood tall and majestic alongside smaller mesquite trees.

All of them slated to be cut down.

“War, drought, the Depression, flooding…this town has made it through it all.” This gal was nothing if not single-minded. “I can’t imagine anyone wanting bulldozers coming in and tearing it all down. Oh, well. We just have to keep praying.”

A big smile spread across her face, replacing the serious expression from half a second before. Garrett allowed his eyes to roam from her face to take in the rest of her. Whatever it was that she did outdoors, it must involve physical labor. Well-defined muscles in her arms flexed slightly as she turned the locks on the door. Even in work clothes, she had a classy air about her.

“Oh! Your brother.” Her ponytail bounced as she spoke. “I didn’t answer your question. I haven’t known him long. I own a small plant farm and sometimes do installs for clients. Gabriel hired me to complete his landscaping project at his house. Been working over there all day, and I’ll be there at least another two days. Lots of work.”

Thinking about the job must have made her self-conscious because she dusted her jeans and held grimy hands in front of her, fingers splayed. “I’m a mess. Barely made it to the meeting—not a chance of going home to clean up. I didn’t call the meeting this time, and it wasn’t convenient at all.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Garrett couldn’t help grinning at her sudden discomfiture. “You look great. And these old farmers and ranchers don’t give a hoot about appearances. You’re fine.”

So she wasn’t Gabe’s girlfriend. Excellent.

LEGACY OF A DREAMER with giveaway

Legacy of a Dreamer (Book 1) 

Chantal Breelan is a ward of the state, living under the care of a woman who is cold and heartless. Her past is a mystery, and her future is even more uncertain. She can’t recall why she had been taken from her parents and so she’s left with nothing but an empty hole where her childhood should have been. When she awakens from her nightmares, she’s left with terrible, violent images, as well as a boy whose face is oddly familiar, yet can’t be placed.

Scared and alone, Chantal begins to confide in an imaginary friend – a shadow in the shape of a man who stands in the corner of her room. She is comforted when she believes he listens to her.

On her eighteenth birthday, Chantal is forced to leave her foster home. She moves to New York City, but the start of her new life doesn’t begin as smoothly as she’d hoped. In this environment, she faces a whole new set of challenges.

One night at a subway station, Chantal meets a young boy who runs away from her, and she’s compelled to follow him down into the tunnels. But this Rabbit Hole reveals a world where reality is a nightmare. Her dreams are clues to her future, and her life becomes twisted and dangerous when she learns that things that go bump in the night are not just in fairy tales and childhood stories.

My thoughts on LEGACY OF A DREAMER    4.5 stars

Chantal Breelan is a ward of the state until she turns eighteen.  Chantal has no clear memories of her past before she was placed in foster care, then the dreams start.  Chantal knows inside she’s different yet the doctors diagnose anxiety and just give her pills. She doesn’t like the way they make her feel so she’s learned to palm them. 

On her eighteenth birthday, when the system cuts her loose, it’s like her life can truly begin. With excitement and trepidation she moves toNew York, gets an apartment and starts looking for a flexible job that will work with her school schedule. MonicaTrenton, another resident of her building, becomes Chantal’s first friend.  Things are truly looking up when the dark and shadows, the constant sources of her fear, reveal their true nature. 

Chantal was justified in fearing the darkness and shadows.  

LEAGACY OF A DREAMER has a unique premise that goes above and beyond the traditional take on the Nephilim, offspring of angels and humans, and The Fallen.  LEGACY OF A DREAMER expands on biblical lore in an engrossing thought provoking manner while avoiding being preachy.  Hope, love, and something greater than ourselves were the centric themes that came across to me.  You may take away something completely different.

Chantal isn’t nephilim nor is she human.  Creatures like Chantal, as far back as can be remembered, have never lived to her advanced age despite extensive protection.  This makes Chantal, her abilities, and her role in the ongoing battle between good and evil a completely unknown variable.   Chantal has been treasured and guarded, albeit clandestinely, since the horrific events in her past that forever changed her life and so many others.  Chantal, and those like her, are precious being a source of hope and grace.

The fact that she’s still alive is nothing short of a miracle.  The question now is how long she’ll be able to evade capture by the Kajola, avoid torture, and stay alive. 

Action packed with Warriors, both light and dark with plenty of grey thrown in, and mentally challenging LEGACY OF A DREAMER is quite unlike anything I’ve read and I had trouble putting it down.  Starting with the frightening incident in the subway the pace resembles a bullet train with brief respites and mind boggling revelations.  The concepts put forth in LEGACY OF A DREAMER are intriguingly singular and I can’t wait to see what challenges Chantal and her Warriors face next.

Thanks to The Writer’s Coffeeshop I have a digital copy of LEGACY OF A DREAMER to give away to one (1) lucky commenter.  Do you enjoy thought provoking books, prefer to be strictly entertained, or a mix?  Giveaway ends @ 12am est on 7-20-13 with winner announced shortly thereafter.

DREAMS OF THE CURSED (Book 2) Release date October 3, 2013

A violent war has waged in secret underneath the notice of humanity since the beginning of time. Evil has pledged the destruction of humanity in spite of a power those that covet it could not possibly contain. Now the Warriors have inherited this fight and are honor-bound to rid the world of this ancient malevolence. By guarding the most precious, piercing light they possess—their female kin known as the Oracles, or Dreamers—the Warriors have a chance against the darkness.

Chantal Breelan has suffered from horrific nightmares for most of her life, believing something is wrong with her to have such visions of destruction. But when creatures of terror came crawling out of the shadows to hunt her down shortly after her eighteenth birthday, she discovered the truth. Her dreams became reality, throwing her headfirst into a battle wrought by cursed monsters, where death and torture lie at every turn.  

Mathias is a descendant of a Fallen Angel and a powerful Warrior. He vows his life in service to pay recompense for the sins of their fathers by guarding Chantal from within the shadows. Long has he fought, shedding sweat and blood, hoping that his struggles wouldn’t be in vain. With Chantal’s life in danger, he’s been forced to reveal himself, yet she has managed to surprise him with her fierce tenacity and strength. In his sacrifice, he finds redemption and life’s ultimate reward—a love to surpass all time. 

Now Chantal has picked up the reins of her birthright and stands by her Warrior kin, by Mathias. She’s on a mission to rescue others like herself. Yet, in this challenge, a battle of wits is exposed. New players are discovered, throwing strategies into question. When the truth comes to light, can Chantal hold her band of brothers together, or will they crumble under the weight of betrayal?

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Allie Jean was born with an overactive imagination. At a very early age, her days were spent inventing stories, directing her sisters in made-up plays or telling elaborate ghost stories. Her mind never took breaks, or shutdown, even when she slept. When her eyes shut at night, she would have vivid dreams complete with extensive, elaborate plot lines, and good overcoming evil villains.

She was encouraged by her parents, even at a young age, to write down her tales, and it has remained a somewhat secret hobby.  It became a means to escape from the drama of real life into one of the many worlds she created.

Now, living in California with her husband of ten years, her love of storytelling had taken a back seat with the arrival of their four children. Though, she always found time to write down her thoughts on whatever was handy, including a stray diaper or two while rocking a sleeping child in the middle of the night when her character’s begged for attention as well.

As a busy wife, mother and working full-time outside the home, somehow she has been able to write down her relentless character’s story.  Her once secret hobby and private world, is now released, for others to enjoy.  Nothing would make Allie happier that to continue writing and spend more time at home with her family on a more full-time basis.