Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Paranormal Week - Things That Go Bump in the Night

Happy Halloween!

There are all kinds of creatures that go bump in the night. Wolves, ghosts, witches, black cats, zombies, and vampires are a few. Movies and TV shows have given us numerous paranormal offerings. Who can forget Bela Lugosi's Dracula? Lon Chaney's Wolfman? There's Cassandra Patterson's "Elivira," The iconic "Halloween" movies, "Scream," and "Nightmare on Elm Street," make our pulse pound. I'd be remiss if I didn't include the creepy "Twilight Zone" TV show from the 1950's and the campy "Dark Shadows" series. Harry Potter and the "Twilight" series appeal to the younger audiences of today. One of my personal favorite paranormal series is "Underworld."

Underworld has the perfect mix of action, romance, mystery, and nail-biting suspense. Plus, it makes me think. Kate Beckinsale gives "Selene" depth, striking a great balance between Selene's vulnerabilities and physical prowess. The back story is interesting and the story going forward in Underworld 4 is compelling.

Question: I'd love to find out who your favorite paranormal character is. Or your favorite movie/show. Why? What stirs your paranormal heartstrings?

Leave a comment to the question and your email and I'll pick two winners to receive a FREE PDF copy of "Heart of Moldavia," and "Under a Christmas Moon."

Tomorrow: A Look at the Moldavian Moon Series

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Spotlight: The Award Winning Budapest Moon Series

Most Unique/Unusual Romance Setting 2011 – Hope Chest Reviews

2011 SILVER Award Winner Reader's Favorite Contest, Romance: Sci-Fi/Fantasy – "The Count's Lair"

2012 FINALIST Reader's Favorite Contest, Romance: Sci-Fi/Fantasy – "Danube in Candlelight"

The wolves in the Budapest Moon series find themselves trapped between the modern world and the dictates of the old myths which come from being a wolf.

In BOOK 1, "The Hungarian," Matthias Duma finds himself in England so his daughter can get to know her grandparents. He struggles with his condition, and discovers it's not easy to conceal the fact he's a wolf from the world. When he meets Katherine Archibald, she challenges him, stimulates him, and breaks through the battlements surrounding his heart. Dare he fall in love again? The novel is set in 1901 in England and Budapest.

"I highly recommend The Hungarian, even if you aren't that interested in the paranormal such as werewolves. The romantic tale of The Hungarian is enough to win over anyone." - Sizzling Hot Book Reviews, 5 Hearts


In BOOK 2, "The Count's Lair," Anton Varga can't deny the attraction he feels for Lady Amelia Andrassy. She drives away the loneliness that surrounds his heart. Fearing she won't believe his secret, (he's a wolf) he gives her 3 clues. Can Amelia accept Anton for what he is? The novel is set in 1901-2 during Christmas in Budapest.

"This is one of the best werewolf books I have ever read. Stephanie Burkhart gives a great view of the 18th Century Catholic Church and Werewolf relationship, as well as going into more detail about the attributes of werewolves. If you enjoy the Werewolf legends, or just romantic relationships, The Count's Lair is a wonderful read." - Sizzling Hot Book Reviews, 5 Hearts


BOOK 3, "Danube in Candlelight," is set in 1922 just after World War I. Morgan Duma returns to Budapest after living in England with relatives. The daughter of a wolf, her unusual eyes and lupine characteristics set her apart from other women. Morgan becomes a nurse, but her mother's severe injuries and her father's secret drive her down a reckless path which werewolf Zoltan Kristos takes advantage of. He turns Morgan. Is the love Morgan shares with Adam strong enough to withstand the challenges of her lupine's condition?

"Once again, Stephanie Burkhart has touched my imagination and with her writing brings 1922 Hungary to life. Danube in Candlelight is a very romantic, yet spicy read. This is a must read if you enjoy the paranormal werewolf stories or even if you merely enjoy a great romance." – Sizzling Hot Book Reviews



BOOK 4 in the series, "The Secret Door" will be available in FEB 2013. Set in 1927, the story takes place between Sopron, Miskolc, and Budapest. Zoltan Kristos falls hard for Anton Varga's daughter, Sophia. When Zoltan is pursued by a reckless wolf, Sophia comes to his aid. Can love bloom in a garden full of secrets and denials?

QUESTION: How do you spend your Halloween? Do you pass out treats? Bake? Watch scary movies? I'd love to hear your comments.

Tomorrow: Things That Go Bump in the Night

Monday, 29 October 2012

Welcome to Paranormal Week at Desert Breeze!

Q&A with Paranormal Author Stephanie Burkhart

Welcome to Paranormal Week at Desert Breeze. Halloween is just around the corner. The spooks, ghouls, and goblins are on the hunt. If you get a chance, explore the interesting paranormal titles Desert Breeze has to offer here:

QUESTION: Tell us a little about yourself, Stephanie. How long have you been writing?

STEPH: I grew up in Manchester, New Hampshire. When I turned 18, I joined the US Army and spent 7 years stationed overseas in Germany. In 1997, I left the Army and settled in California with my husband. Currently, I work for LAPD as a 911 dispatcher.

I've been writing since I was six, but I didn't start writing for publication until I got out of the Army. My first story was a self-published effort, Destination: Berlin, but I'm looking for a new home for it. I've been on since 2005 and it really helped me grow as a writer.

QUESTION: When did you realize things went bump in the night?

STEPH: When I was a little girl. I was convinced a vampire lived under my bed, so I always made sure the covers reached my neck. It probably didn't help that I watched "Creature Double Feature" on Saturdays, either. I learned everything I needed to know about vampires, werewolves, Godzilla, zombies, and Frankenstein from watching that show.

QUESTION: The Budapest Moon series is set in Hungary. Have you been? Tell us about the series.

STEPH: I was deployed to Hungary from July – October 1997. I was stationed in Taszur, Hungary in support of the troops in Bosnia. My time in Hungary was very rewarding to me. I also had a chance to go to Budapest on a USO trip. Budapest was amazing. When I began to write Matthias and Katherine's story, I knew I wanted to set it in Budapest. It's a city where you just might believe a werewolf might live.

The series explores how werewolves struggle to live in a changing world while trying to deal with their dangerous infliction. The series spans from 1901-1927. The wolves have witches to tend to them during the full moon. They deal with adversity, challenges, experiencing their emotions in a heightened state from disappointment to love. Can the power of love help them manage their challenges of being a wolf?

QUESTION: Have you ever written a ghost story?

STEPH: I have! It's a free read offered with Desert Breeze called "Under a Christmas Moon." A ghost haunts Matthias and Katherine, the couple from "The Hungarian," in the Budapest Moon series.

QUESTION: Who is your favorite witch that you've written?

STEPH: I love all my witches. I really enjoyed writing "Beatrice" from "The Wolf's Torment." My favorite witch outside of my writing is Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series.

QUESTION: Who is your favorite wolf that you've written?

STEPH: Another toughie! My heart goes out to "Anton" from "The Count's Lair." He had a real tough life growing up and then he's bitten by a wolf.

QUESTION: Do you have a favorite paranormal movie?

STEPH: I love the Underworld movies, especially 1 and 2. I loved 3 for the back story. Kate Beckinsale is great as "Selene."

QUESTION: Are you a plotter or a panster?

STEPH: A panster for sure. I draft a rough outline, then plot out the first 3 chapters. Then I "fly by the seat of my pants" until the end.

QUESTION: Do you decorate and get dressed up for Halloween?

STEPH: I like to decorate the front yard for the boys, but this year I haven't. Sadly, there's just not enough time in the day. I haven't decided if I'll be Spongebob or Daenerys for Halloween.

I'd love to hear your Hallowen plans. Are you going to give out candy? Get dressed up? Attend a party? Host a party? I usually give out Junior Mints because my son has a nut allergy and I don't like to give out candy with nuts.

Feel Free to visit the following paranormal author pages:







Tomorrow: Travel to Hungary and meet the wolves of the Budapest Moon Series

Friday, 26 October 2012

Author Spotlight - Excerpt from "Aboard The Wishing Star"

Thank you so much for supporting Debra's week in the spotlight. Leave a comment today, Saturday, and Sunday along with an email and I'll pick a winner at random to receive a print copy of Debra's book "A Desperate Journey." The winner will be announced here on the blog on the following Monday and on the Connections Yahoo Groups.

Enjoy the Excerpt!
Moderator Steph


Calypso music played as the ship eased out of the dock heading for open seas. She could see another ship in the distance, and a third a bit farther out, one following the other like ducks in a row. She was so busy watching, lost in thought she didn't notice Nate until he spoke.

"Alone at last." Nate's voice was resonant and sensual, and his words wrapped around Kara as she turned to look at him. He winked at her, climbed into the hot tub, and then sat, leaning his powerful, well-muscled body back against the hot tub. "Did they find your luggage yet?"

She tried not to stare at Nate's bare chest. "No."

"It could be down below clearing customs even as we speak."

"I hope so."

He glanced at her swimsuit.

The swimsuit that fit her all too snug.

"At least you have a swimsuit. What else do you need on a cruise?" He winked.

"Well perhaps a nice dress to wear to dinner."

"I'm sure your luggage will turn up soon."

"I hope so."

"So, we're sailing on the Wishing Star. Have you made a wish yet?"

Was he psychic?

She wouldn't admit she'd wished to see him again tonight.

"I made a wish. But I can't tell you what my wish is."

"Because you're afraid it might not come true?"

"No." She smiled.

"I'll tell you mine later if it comes true."

"I hope you get your wish."

"And I hope you get every one of yours."

He couldn't know she was full of unfulfilled wishes.

If she were honest with herself, she'd been making wishes for the past month. Whispered wishes in the dark. "I hope so too."

Viv came back with two pina coladas, took one look at Nate, and practically purred. "Well, hello again."

"Hello," he responded with a polite smile as she handed Kara a drink. He returned his full attention to Kara, his gaze interested and warm "Kara and I were just talking about wishes."

"Well, tell her to hurry up and make one or she's going to miss out. She doesn't listen to me."

"I suspect she's already made her wish." He smiled.

Kara returned his smile. It was nice having him take up for her.




Buy links:

Desert Breeze Publishing


Barnes and Noble

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Author Spotlight - Debra Parmley talks about celebrating the holidays on a cruise ship

Kara and Viv are looking forward to celebrating New Year's Eve aboard The Wishing Star. When writing this story I drew from my own experiences as well as those of my clients who would take a holiday cruise.

Americans setting sail on holiday cruises are usually interested in celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year's Eve.

A holiday cruise can be a great way for families to come together in a family reunion style gathering. They can also be a fun way for a small family to celebrate. But it can also be a fun way for singles to celebrate a holiday, particularly the New Year's cruises.

Usually the cruise lines stick to time honored traditions, but they sometimes add innovative festivities. For example, Princess Cruises employs snowmaking machines to offer daily snowfalls in the atrium throughout the month of December. On Disney Cruise Line's private island, Castaway Cay, the tram will be magically transformed into a sleigh. And, luxury line Crystal does a full-on balloon drop in the atrium to ring in the New Year.

What can you expect onboard a holiday cruise? Of the four major holidays -- Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year's -- Christmas garners the most attention.

Cruise lines serve special meals during holiday cruises. For instance, expect latkes (potato pancakes) during Hanukkah and some lines serve the traditional meal. The traditional Thanksgiving meals are served on most cruise lines.

Our family went on a Thanksgiving cruise and had our choice of the traditional foods such as roast turkey, along with such trimmings as stuffing and cranberry sauce. But given the choice between the traditional meal and surf and turf we all chose lobster tails and steak!

All the cruise lines decorate though the trimming and timing varies from ship to ship. In the fall it may be pumpkins and cornucopias, in December wreaths and decorated trees. Decorations generally go up around Thanksgiving and stay until the New Year.

Our family once took a Christmas cruise to the Caribbean and inflatable Santa's waited on the piers as we sailed into port at each island. It was fun to see how the different islands decorated for the holiday.

On New Year's Eve, a ship wide countdown to midnight is to be expected, as is a Champagne toast. Celebrations might be on the top decks under the stars, weather permitting. Or they might be down below with balloons and noisemakers.

You or your travel consultant can find out what each cruise line is doing to celebrate a holiday, from decorations, to special meals, to music, live shows and movies with a holiday theme. There may be a priest; a rabbi or a reverend on board for special religious services on some cruises. There may be special children's activities. Santa may pay a visit. There may be arts and crafts for children. There may be areas for viewing NFL on large screens. Cruising on a holiday cruise is very different from cruising on an off holiday cruise. Everyone on board the ship is celebrating the holiday too, which means the crew as well.

For Kara and Nate, celebrating aboard The Wishing Star is a romantic and memorable occasion. I had so much fun writing this story and watching them celebrate their first New Year's Eve together.

Have you ever been on a holiday cruise? If you could sail aboard The Wishing Star on a holiday cruise which one would you choose? What would you look forward to?





Buy links:

Desert Breeze Publishing


Barnes and Noble

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Author Spotlight - Character Interview with Kara from "Aboard the Wishing Star"

Debra - "Kara, now that you're all packed for your cruise I'd like to ask you some questions. If you are so afraid of water, why are you going on a cruise?

Kara - "I won a cruise for two at work. There was a contest for the most productive employee and I still can't believe I won. I guess all those hours of overtime really paid off."

Debra - "Who are you taking with you?"

Kara - "I invited my best friend, Viv. We've been friends since we were young, but I haven't seen her since my husband died. So I'm looking forward to a week of girl time. My boss Daryl hinted that he wanted to be invited, but I'd already invited her and I'm looking forward to being away from work. And he was probably just joking. Everyone at work was saying 'pick me'."

Debra - "That sounds like fun, a girls week in the Caribbean. What else are you looking forward to?"

Kara - "Yes, it will be. Viv is always fun and I've missed her. She's more of a party girl than I am so we'll probably dance every night in the club, but I'm looking forward to lounging by the pool or on the beach with a good book."

Debra - "You've been working so much it sounds like you need the rest. When was the last time you took a vacation? You must be really dedicated to your job."

Kara - "I haven't had a day off since my husband took me to the Washington zoo to see the pandas. That was the day he was shot at the gas station. For a long time I wasn't able to talk about it without crying. I guess I started working extra hours to stay busy at first and keep my mind off of what happened and how much I missed him. Then it just became a habit. Daryl always has extra work projects for me. Sometimes it feels like I'll never get caught up."

Debra - "I hope you get the relaxation you need and have a fun time with Viv. Have you thought about what you will do if your water phobia takes over?"

Kara - "I took a timid non swimmers class at the gym, but haven't swum since. So if we're in the pool I'll stay in the shallow end unless there is flotation then I can go into the deep end. But the ocean, well, I don't know about that. Viv swears there will always be life vests and she says we'll be too busy drinking frosty rum drinks and checking out all the hot men to be swimming in the ocean. I'm still pretty nervous about it though. My travel agent said it's completely safe and I don't even have to wear my swimsuit or get wet if I don't want to."

Debra - "Is this a singles cruise? Your friend mentioned hot men. How do you feel about that?"

Kara - "No, it's not a singles cruise, but the travel agent said there's a high percentage of singles that go on this one since we'll be celebrating New Years on board. Viv is always checking out hot men. I don't think she'll ever get married. I'm not looking for that, or even dating, but she's always trying to talk me into going out and meeting men. That's just how Viv is and she's always been a party girl. Back in high school she was the life of the party and I was the shy one."

Debra - "It sounds like you're happy with your single life now and not looking for a relationship."

Kara - "Happy? I guess. Lately I've been thinking about finding a new job, doing something new. My life is okay. I have a busy job, a house and I'm healthy. I should be happy. Maybe I'm just tired of the job and need to do something else with my life. Nights can be hard. Sometimes I get lonely at night. I miss the companionship of being married. The little things, you know?"

Debra - "I do know. Little things, like sharing how the day went and things that maybe aren't so little. Like being held? I've heard it said wishes can come true aboard The Wishing Star."

Kara - "Yes. I miss that. But I don't want to talk about that any more. Wishes don't always come true and it can hurt too much when they don't."

Debra - "Well, Kara, I hope all your wishes do come true aboard The Wishing Star and I hope you have a lovely trip. Thank you for talking to me today."

Kara - "Thank you. I've got to go over my packing list now and make sure I don't forget anything."





Buy links:

Desert Breeze Publishing


Barnes and Noble

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Author Spotlight - The Romance of Cruising

By Debra Parmley
Anyone who has cruised the seas or who has watched "The Love Boat" knows there can be romance to sea travel. Feeling the wind in your hair, the endless ocean views, stars twinkling above a darkened sea, the setting sun and exotic ports of call, all can set the mood for love. Yes, this is cliché, but onboard ship it is also a real experience, not only a daydream.

Cruising by its very nature is romantic. Many people remember the popular American television show The Love Boat, which aired on ABC from 1977 to 1986 and was watched all around the world. The show was based on a 1976 made for TV movie based on the nonfiction book The Love Boats by Jeraldine Saunders, who was a cruise director. The sitcom was usually set aboard the Pacific Princess, a Princess Cruises cruise liner.

It might seem unlikely but aboard a ship filled with hundreds, even thousands of people, together time for two still happens. So many things can be arranged. A table for two at dinner, lounge chairs side by side at the pool, dancing together in the evening followed by a walk around the outer deck, and then there are the private cabins with balconies. For couples wishing to spend their honeymoon or anniversary onboard a cruise, many options are available.

I spent several years as a travel consultant and have arranged many such trips for my clients. I have also sailed on many cruise lines and on many ships. I love being at sea. So it's no surprise I would set one of my romance novels onboard a ship sailing the Caribbean.

My third book, Aboard the Wishing Star, is the story of Kara, a widow who sails away thinking she has escaped her problems only to find they have followed her.

One of the problems Kara deals with is a phobia of deep water, a fear of drowning. You might ask why she goes on a cruise if she has this fear. The answer is, she wins a cruise for two and invites her best friend, Viv. Now you might be thinking even that wouldn't be enough of an incentive and while it is true there are people with water phobia who would never cruise no matter how great the incentive, there are people who would. How do I know this? Because I am one of them.

I have a water phobia which I have had since I was a small child. I'm not sure where it came from, there are no stories of me almost drowning, but there it is. I didn't learn to swim until I was in college and only then because it was a requirement for graduation at the private women's college I attended. I took the "timid non-swimmers" class and I passed, but just barely. The instructor told me I was the first truly phobic student she'd ever had. Today I will swim in a lake or ocean but only with a life vest on and I can swim in a swimming pool but only with flotation. Why? Because without flotation I tend to freak out and cannot hear anyone who is yelling at me. Anyone trying to save me had better get behind me so I don't hurt him or her. I'm simply not capable of intelligent coherent thought when that phobia strikes. And yet, I love the sea and I love sailing. I love the ocean and the beach. Nothing feeds my soul quite like it, so I am always drawn back no matter how far away I live from the beach. I love to snorkel and I have even gone tubing (though just one time for that because it felt like I was going to drown) and I once walked the plank of a pirate ship off the coast of Grand Cayman. I've pushed myself to my limits, always with flotation of course. I love the ocean too much to stay away from it, even with the phobia.

So I can relate to Kara, a little bit when it comes to swimming in the ocean. The scenes where Nate teaches her to snorkel are my favorites and I'm hoping they come across well to my readers. I admit to being a little nervous about this. Perhaps this is normal when an author puts a little bit of herself into one of her characters, particularly when it involves a phobia. But I went out on that limb and here I am. That's what I do with this phobia. Every so often I go out on a limb.

That's what Kara must do. Go out on that limb, taking a chance on a shipboard romance, which is always a chance because who knows what will happen once they disembark? And that's one of the more risky things we do, if we've ever been deeply hurt, taking one more chance at love.

What do you think of cruises? Have you ever been on a cruise? If you have never been, would you like to go? Do you have a phobia and if so, how have you handled that?





Buy links:

Desert Breeze Publishing


Barnes and Noble

Monday, 22 October 2012

Author Spotlight - Q&A with Debra Parmley

STEPH: I don't know much about "Aboard The Wishing Star." Tell us about it.

DEBRA:My third book, Aboard the Wishing Star is the story of Kara, a widow who sails away aboard her first cruise thinking she has escaped her problems only to find they have followed her.

When Kara's husband is shot and killed in front of her in what she's told is a random act of violence, she becomes convinced the world is unsafe. Her life is quiet and predictable until she wins a Caribbean cruise for two and takes along her best friend Viv.

One of Kara's fears is a fear of deep water. She takes a first step in facing that fear by going on the cruise where she meets Nate, a scuba diver and ex marine.

Nate can't wait to teach Kara how to snorkel and will share his love of the sea with her, hoping she will overcome her fear.

Will Kara learn to trust Nate with her heart, when she fears this shipboard romance will reach an end and she'll never see him again, leaving her broken hearted?

When Kara's creepy boss, Daryl shows up at their first port of call unexpectedly, Nate's protective nature comes out.

Kara returns home from the cruise where her creepy boss is waiting and suddenly she doesn't feel so safe. She calls Nate, but will he rescue her?

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

DEBRA: Aboard the Wishing Star was the second novel I wrote and it took a long time because the novel went through five rewrites to reach its present form. Several of them were major rewrites. This one has taken seven years and I'm thrilled it's finally out. The story wouldn't let me go and I'm thankful it found a home at Desert Breeze Publishing.

STEPH: Did you have to do any research for the novel?

DEBRA:Research wasn't something I had to do for this book because I worked as travel consultant for a few years and have been on many cruises to the Caribbean. It's a world I know well.

STEPH: How does the cover reflect the story within?

DEBRA: I love the cover for Aboard the Wishing Star. It's my favorite so far. Gwen Phiffer did a wonderful job of showing the elegance and old-fashioned romance of the story. I asked for a cover similar to the movie poster for An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, which was also on a cruise ship. Throughout the story Kara makes wishes and there are three wishing stars in the cover. One up in the sky above them, then one atop each "I" for a total of three. Gwen did a wonderful job adding little touches like that.

STEPH: Kara is the heroine. What are her strengths? Weaknesses?

DEBRA: Kara shows her strength when despite her fear of water she goes on a cruise and learns to snorkel. She's a woman who tries to overcome her fear instead of letting it freeze her. One of Kara's weaknesses is the way she usually gives her boss Daryl the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his behavior and intentions. It's her trusting nature.

STEPH: What does the hero, Nate, find intriguing about Kara?

DEBRA: Nate, a former Marine finds Kara's sweet, trusting nature attractive. She brings out his protective nature but while he wants to protect her, he also wants to teach her to face her fears and to overcome them.

STEPH: What is the theme of the novel?

DEBRA: Themes in the novel, well let's see. There is the theme of facing your fears and learning to be braver. Then there is the theme of making wishes and believing in them coming true.

STEPH: Where do you draw inspiration from?

DEBRA: As a writer, I draw inspiration from everything. My travels, historical sites I've visited, books and music. More and more I find myself drawing from places I have visited for my stories. With Aboard the Wishing Star, it's my cruise experiences. With the 1920's romance I am working on now, Trapping the Butterfly, which is an April 2013 release from Desert Breeze Publishing, the setting is Hot Springs, AR and many of the characters are staying at the Arlington Hotel, where I've stayed. When working on Aboard the Wishing Star I listened to music I'd heard on board cruise ships I've sailed on.

STEPH: Do you have an ebook? If so, which one?

DEBRA: My Kindle is about three years old and I love it. The letters are worn off the keypad, much like my laptop.

STEPH: Fun question: Are you dressing up for Halloween?

DEBRA: Oh I love Halloween and costume parties. I'm attending a costume party with my hubby and have to finish sewing our costumes this week. It's a yearly bash and they go all out, with creepy looking foods and decorations. I'm making hatching spiders to bring. These are deviled eggs with spiders on top made out of black or green olives. The round part for the body and strips cut for the legs. These sit on top of the deviled eggs like they've just hatched.





Buy links:

Desert Breeze Publishing


Barnes and Noble

Friday, 19 October 2012

Author Spotlight - Excerpt from "That Impossible Dream"

Thank you so much for supporting Shirley during her week in the spotlight. Leave a comment on today's excerpt post, today, Saturday, and Sunday along with your email (so we can get ahold of you) and I'll pick a winner on Monday to receive either a GC to Amazon or B&N or a PDF copy of one of Shirley's novels, "That Impossible Dream," or "Say Goodbye to Yesterday."

Enjoy the excerpt!
Moderator Steph


She waved a hand to stop him. "Please...don't explain anything. I've already made up my mind anyway. I shall work as your hired governess, Mr. McKenna."

His eyes widened. "But didn’t you think, or assume...I mean, should I not explain?"

At this point, she was not ready to hear what he might have to say. It would only make matters worse. She lifted her cane again, and held it in front of her, so he might get a good hard look at what she needed to get herself around each day. It was what her stepfather carved on it which was most important to her.

"I suppose if you think I'm suitable enough at least for governing a child, Mr. McKenna, then, no, there's nothing to explain right now. After all, what else am I good for? Hmm?"

She glared at him obstinately then turned toward the window, immediately embarrassed at what she just said. After closing her eyes briefly, Geraldine veered back. She shook her head and glanced over at Erin then back at him. "I apologize for that. What I just said was terribly rude. What I meant to say was--" What exactly had she meant to say?

Still she had to add one more jab. "I wonder if this is the time to be discussing my frailties and my inconveniences, especially since I've learned you disapprove of me as much as your brothers did."

He gave her a look of shock. "Disapprove? What made you think...hardly do I--" He stared at her in silence. Finally, he finished. "I was going to explain."

She held up a hand to stop him, fixing her eyes on her skirt. "I've already informed my uncle I'd do this." She lifted her chin. "You see, I want no part of any union with you, sir -- not with any McKenna male. Marriage into your family couldn’t be further from my mind."

He looked stunned. "My grandmother suggested otherwise, Geraldine."

Twisting away and returning to her chair, she pretended to make herself more comfortable. "Whatever your grandmother or my aunt inferred, well, you no longer need to assume it's so. I have clearly changed my mind." Of course, when she said she had no interest in marrying Shaun Alistair McKenna, it was not exactly true -- okay, not at all true. Geraldine crossed her arms, angry with herself once again. She knew deep down, way deep down, she in no manner wanted to let go of the vision she alone held of herself and Alistair together. In truth, she did not want to think about Alistair in any way other than as a dear friend and potential husband. When she dreamed, she would have to make certain it happened only rarely from this point on. There was no reason he need know what might accidentally wander through her thoughts.

Buy links:

my website:
my author page at facebook:!/ShirleyKigerConnollyAuthor
my twitter:

Review snippet from Decisions Book One: Say Goodbye to Yesterday: “From heartache to love to forgiveness and redemption, this novel will leave the reader breathless. The best part of this story is that it's the first in a series so there's more to come! I am excited to see what Ms. Connolly has in store with the second book. Take a trip into time, learn to accept your actions and move on with new friends and a fantastic story line! – Reviews by Molly…Romance Reviews

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Author Spotlight - Shirley Kiger Connelly talks about making characters come alive

Story characters are inspired by those we observe throughout our lives, by experiences we've had with friends or acquaintances, both to the good or bad. Often the inspiration for our character comes from what we wish could happen to us or what we hope would never happen, but it’s sure okay for our characters. After all, these are just characters. Even if they fall from the sky, we won't feel a thing.

How about getting a character through a dream, especially a guy character. I could give you many examples of that potential guy, but then I'd have to share him. I'm not prone to pass on what took so long for me to dream up.

The characters in our stories must come alive The last thing we want is to see the character turn into cardboard, with no life-breath, stilted, easy to discard, inanimate, and without interest to the reader.

As you write, ask yourself how interesting your character really is. Does he jump out at you? Is he a person you'd like to get to know or invite into your home one day? Maybe he’s one you wouldn’t dare say hello to.

Oftentimes, we, as writers, need to step back and look with more of an objective eye to make sure our character is substantial to the story, doesn’t lack depth, and doesn’t seem artificial.

How do you avoid those uninspiring, uninteresting little men and women? How can you breathe personality back into them?
1 Give them memories.
2 Give them flaws.
3 Give each a past life.
4 Give yours a terrible memory or a nasty relative.
5 Provide something they want desperately to forget.
6 Make them flawed but find something to give them appeal.
7 Give them feelings; make them noisy or quiet, happy or sad, smiley or frowny.

You get the idea.

Always remember, a character without substance bores the reader in no time. Before you know it they'll close your book and grab another from their TBR pile.

There are numerous ways to inspire your character into that one that the reader finds irresistible--a fragment from someone somewhere. People all around you are interesting to observe. Writers can find them everywhere. It's amazing how quickly we can find that suitable one to fit our story needs perfectly. It works every time.

Buy links:

my website:
my author page at facebook:!/ShirleyKigerConnollyAuthor
my twitter:

Review snippet from Decisions Book One: Say Goodbye to Yesterday: “From heartache to love to forgiveness and redemption, this novel will leave the reader breathless. The best part of this story is that it's the first in a series so there's more to come! I am excited to see what Ms. Connolly has in store with the second book. Take a trip into time, learn to accept your actions and move on with new friends and a fantastic story line! – Reviews by Molly…Romance Reviews

Monday, 15 October 2012

Author Spotlight - Q&A with Shirley Kiger Connelly

STEPH: I don't know much about "That Impossible Dream." What's it about?

SHIRLEY: Geraldine Jordan has lived all her life with an unpleasant disability. She learns the meaning of painful rejection early. Any probability of obtaining a respectable suitor one day to someone like Alistair McKenna the man of her lifetime dreams is slim to none.

When Geraldine is passed off to live with her controlling-zealot Uncle Henry, she grows weary of waiting for that impossible dream -- until a treasured aunt arranges a potential marriage with an esteemed Chicago banker in search of a wife and mother for his young ward. But Geraldine’s disgruntled Uncle Henry whose always believed her unsuitable for any man of status, sets out to block the betrothal. He quickly demotes Geraldine to status of a common servant, hiring her off to a family in need of a governess.

Will the shattered Geraldine be forced to abandon all hope when she suddenly learns the prospective groom-to-be her aunt arranged for her was none other than her life-long love, Alistair McKenna?

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

SHIRLEY: Everything I write seems to me to take forever, Steph. This one took me a year.

STEPH: How much research did you have to do?

SHIRLEY: Since this was the second in my Decisions series, I didn’t have to do too much research except for the area of Chicago, where Geraldine must go. Also, as it is about a young woman with a disability, I didn’t find that difficult either. That’s because my model for Geraldine, has character traits and reactions to her problems that are similar to what I’ve seen in my physically challenged daughter.

STEPH: How does the cover reflect the story within?

SHIRLEY: The cover artist did an awesome job. Since the story is so much about a dream that’s impossible for my heroine, the artist showed the house Geraldine must go to, but with an gated area that looks very difficult to go through. I was more than pleased with her vision.

STEPH: Geraldine is the heroine. What are her strengths? Weakness?

SHIRLEY: Geraldine’s strengths are her determination, her sweet disposition, her faith, and I believe, her stubbornness. Her weaknesses probably would have to be the difficulties she believes she has with her disability. That and her over-sensitivity about how she might look to others. She’s a typical woman, really, who has a thing about her appearance. I decided to emphasize that in the story.

STEPH: What does Alistair find appealing about her?

SHIRLEY: Her perseverance, her uprightness, that he hasn’t seen in most of the women he’s known before, her faith, and that she lives it.

STEPH: What is the theme of the novel?

SHIRLEY: Not to give up, even if things don’t look like they are going the way you might have hoped they would. And if something other than your dreams are headed your way, try to look for the good in them, rather than the bad, no matter how difficult it might be.

STEPH: As a writer, where do you draw inspiration from?

SHIRLEY: Mostly from God. Sometimes from past experiences that have taken place throughout my life or that I’ve seen.

STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

SHIRLEY: I use a Kindle. Although I love print books, at night before I go to sleep and whenever I’m traveling my Kindle works best. I really hope to get myself an ipad soon.

STEPH: Fun question: Autumn is the season for baking. Do you do any autumn baking? Pies? Cookies? Specialties?

SHIRLEY: I love to do apple pies and pumpkin pies. Not sure how I’m going to work that this year, since my husband and I are trying to go gluten free. My cookies are the pits, so I avoid them, except for eating of course. Specialties? Baked squash with brown sugar and butter and nuts, scalloped potatoes, fresh clam or mushroom soup. Autumn is my favorite time of year…could it be because I’m a redhead and those are just my colors?

Buy links:

my website:
my author page at facebook:!/ShirleyKigerConnollyAuthor
my twitter:

Review snippet from Decisions Book One: Say Goodbye to Yesterday: “From heartache to love to forgiveness and redemption, this novel will leave the reader breathless. The best part of this story is that it's the first in a series so there's more to come! I am excited to see what Ms. Connolly has in store with the second book. Take a trip into time, learn to accept your actions and move on with new friends and a fantastic story line! – Reviews by Molly…Romance Reviews

Friday, 12 October 2012

Author Spotlight - Excerpt from "Death Cheater"

Thanks for joining me this week at the Desert Breeze Publishing blog. I enjoyed sharing a few thoughts and some details about Death Cheater. Enjoy the excerpt below and have a wonderful October! - Danielle Thorne


From Death Cheater

I glanced at my watch and realized the last bell had rung long ago. "I'm late for European History," I apologized. I blinked to see if I could make him disappear, but it didn't work. Maybe he could do the snapping thing again.

"Yes, I give you a ring, you come to me, and we work a little project together now and then." He made it sound like a school assignment, and as if he had a cell phone, which I doubted.

"You want me to help someone pass on?" I guessed.

"Bingo." He pointed at me.

I shook my head. "I really don't know how to do that. Sometimes things come back. Sometimes..."

"I know, the flatworms. I get it. That's why I'm here."

"I just don't understand," I shrugged. "I can't go around bringing people back to life. It's sacrilegious to even think about it."

"You can help people decide," he suggested. "Some people, like your Poppy," he added with an accusing glare, "have their time up, and there's no use talking them into staying."

I stared back trying to see where he was coming from.

"What good did it do you?" he challenged me.

"I had more time with him. I didn't even have to think about it, I just wanted him to stay. That doesn't mean I meant for it to happen."

"He suffered. He was sick."

I swallowed away some guilt.

"You have the power of influence, Athena." Aero sighed and glanced down at his hand as if studying his cuticles. Did the un-living dead get manicures? "I need your help, you see, in convincing people it's time to go."

That seemed kind of hokie. I tapped back in to the hum of the room. Aero did not ooze angelic peace or light. He was dark. He moved in it. He emitted it. The chill bumps had not completely disappeared, nor the hazy glass-like edges of my peripheral vision. I felt sick and hot again.

Aero seemed to sense I was back peddling. "Have we got a deal?" he asked.

I could not mistake the demand in his cold tone. Concentrating on the hum of the room, the dark dog, and the not-so-good feeling he emanated, I slowly shook my head 'no.'

His eyes flared with angry spurts of indigo light. The hound on the floor bounded to its feet and growled.

I stepped away. "I can't," I stuttered. Fear shot through me, and it felt like my head suddenly weighed a ton, crushing down into my feet.

"You can," Aero answered.

"No," I said, reaching for the hum. For Poppy. For light. "Whatever it is you want me to do, it’s no good. I can feel it," I admitted. "Here." I put my hand on my palpitating chest. My mind hurt.

With one swift movement, Aero leapt up onto the sink. He snarled a wicked sound that made my knees buckle. It was scarier than the dog that had somehow disappeared. "You weren't so angelic when you chose to come, Athena."

I stumbled back, falling against the bathroom stalls. "I don't know what you're talking about," I cried, losing my grip on courage. Before it slipped completely away, I gushed, "I won't help you make people die."

"You will, Death Cheater. If you can make them live, you can make them die."

There was a crack like lightning striking glass, and everything went black.

Buy Now:

A Goodreads Review:
"…I really enjoyed this book, it was well written, had good pace, and kept the reader interested. I really related to Athena as a character, and really felt for her and the problems she was facing. It definitely reminded me of what it's like to be a teenager, and I really liked that she had her own way of saying things, eg: 'oh cheese!'

The storyline itself was intriguing, the idea of being a death cheater was original and not something that I have come across before, and the romance element was light and didn't overpower the rest of the book.

Overall I really enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone who likes young-adult fiction, or books with a paranormal/fantasy feel."

Find Danielle at:

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Author Spotlight - Danielle Thorne talks about Inspiration

People are always curious about me when they find out that I write. The first question they always ask is, "What do you write?" Although I still find it difficult to answer, I know in my heart the response should be, "Whatever inspires me."

Have you noticed those who move through life as if theirs is more important? I think that is what we envy in people more than we know. Perhaps we think we covet a smile, shoes, a car, or even a home, but what we truly admire in people is the energy with which they live their lives.

Inspiration is what moves us. It gets us out of bed in the morning. It takes us from one day to the next, gives us drive to prepare for what is coming, and courage to deal with what is left behind.

We need the world to inspire us. We need good story tellers, dancers, football players, good food, bad jokes, mountains, and blue skies over water. We need music in our day. We need chocolate and daintily-wrapped gifts. Children need to hang on us. Grandparents must take us in their flabby, funny-smelling embraces.

This thing we call death is already upon us in our sadness, boredom, hatred, and fears. We need to be inspired to have something to live for. Something small, something every day, something that makes us bubble up inside and want to live. A baby through the nursery window. An old woman in the beauty shop. The cat curled up on the sofa. A book waiting on a shelf.

Life without inspiration is not living. It is a monstrous routine of breathing without thinking, without caring, without wondering. It is waiting on death the way people wait at bus stops.

What inspired my new paranormal, Death Cheater? The fact that so many young people worry too much about the wrong things. Their youth passes them by in a cloud of insecurity and bad direction. I wanted to inspire readers that courage isn't all that hard to find inside of us when we set our mind to it. And it takes courage to live.

Why do writers write? Why do readers read?
Why do we sit outside and face the sun with our eyes closed?
So we can be inspired.
So we can dream.
And that is why I write.
Because I want to live.

Danielle Thorne
Blogging as The Balanced Writer at:

Danielle Thorne is the author of sweet romantic adventure books, both historical and contemporary. She has published poetry, short fiction and novels. Danielle currently writes from south of Atlanta, Georgia. She was the 2009-2010 Co-Chair for the New Voices Competition for young writers, is active with online author groups, and she moderates for The Sweetest Romance Authors. Besides freelance editing and writing full time, Danielle has four sons with her husband, Rob. Together they enjoy travel and the outdoors. Death Cheater is her first paranormal.

I would love to meet you!

Follow on Facebook:
Twitter: @DanielleThorne
Follow the Blog:

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Author Spotlight - Danielle Thorne talks about what she learned from a Hobbit

Part of being a good writer is being a reader, and I don't often get the chance to indulge in reading for pleasure these days. It's ironic, since books have been my biggest inspiration in life. Last summer, I sat down for almost three days and indulged myself in a Lord of the Rings marathon. As much as I would have liked to have time to actually sit down and read the books (and I plan to with my ten year old who let me read The Hobbit to him last year), I did get a lot out of the movie and took some time to reflect on the beauty of Tolkien's imagination and the wisdom in his messages.

Every time I write a story, whether it's a romance or some far flung adventure, I am conscious of the messages that I send out with my characters. While I'm certainly no genius at integrating life changing morals into epic tales, I am fully aware of the impact of what my stories say. It's my hope that with my sea adventures, the reverence I have of the oceans comes through the pages.

With historicals, I strive to bring the beauty and innocence of the past to life. With my young adult paranormal, Death Cheater, I hope that you ponder on the fragile existence we own in this short life, and the power we have to make it all that it can be. Life needs reverence and beauty, and it takes courage, too.

So many lessons are too easily forgotten. Maybe in his own way, that's what Tolkien was trying say. Here are ten things that I have learned from the hobbits of the Shire:

Life was meant to be an adventure.
Never, never, never quit.
Faith will always find a way.
There is no greater gift than a loyal friend.
Power is a heavy burden to those who are true, and a weapon for the wicked.
No one is flawless.
To die with a friend, is to go in peace.
Trees have feelings, too.
To choose not to act, is to fail what is right.
There is no place like home…

I know there are more messages, all more profound, in the story of Frodo and his ring that I haven't even begun to unravel. I wish I'd taken the time to jot down my thoughts as I watched the films, but that they still linger on my mind is proof of the profound influence a good book can have. I wish each of you a wonderful autumn full of books (and epic film interpretations) that bring inspiration, wisdom, happiness -- and yes, adventure.

Check out the adventure of Athena Gray in Desert Breeze Publishing's Death Cheater. Here's a little blurb:

Athena Gray lives vicariously through her sister because people in general avoid her. Whether it's strange things like dead butterflies fluttering to life, or the time she saved her dying grandpa just by willing him to live, Athena knows that she is different. The only person who doesn't seem to think so is Dan, the most popular boy on Omega High School's baseball team.

Happy Reading!
Danielle Thorne

Danielle Thorne is the author of sweet romantic adventure books, both historical and contemporary. She currently writes from south of Atlanta, Georgia. Besides contract editing and writing full time, Danielle has four sons with her husband, Rob. Together they enjoy travel and the outdoors.

DEATH CHEATER (Desert Breeze Publishing)
THE PRIVATEER (Desert Breeze Publishing)
BY HEART AND COMPASS (Desert Breeze Publishing)
JOSETTE (Whimsical Publications)
TURTLE SOUP (Smashwords)
SOUTHERN GIRL, YANKEE ROOTS (Willow Moon Publishing)

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Author Spotlight - Danielle Thorne & Autumn Spooks!

I love promoting my paranormal, Death Cheater, during the month of Halloween because it goes hand in hand with the spook-filled holiday. Ironically, the real truth is when it comes to all things ghostly, I am the biggest chicken. I believe in spirits, and yes, I've had my own paranormal experiences, but writing about them didn't become a journey until my vacation to the Native American burial mounds in Pinson, Tennessee that inspired my story. I wondered how many ancient souls wandered through the nearby forest. I wondered what it would be like if I could see those spirits, and what would I do if there was contact? Reaching back into my memories of high school to shape a new character was quite the self-introspective adventure.

Athena Gray is a strong, independent character who understands she doesn't have to fit in to like herself. She also knows that she has a gift. High school doesn't come easy though, because dealing with teen drama and her own social anxiety issues are as difficult as accepting her grandfather's death. With no parents to turn to and few friends, Athena has to dig deep when a dark angel enters her life at the worst time. And he doesn't just have information about who she is, he has demands.

Now don't be too concerned. Athena isn't left entirely to her own devices. Her older sister has her best interests in mind, and Dan Lipinsky, Athena's secret crush, seems determined to make her one of his closest friends.

Is there really such a thing as ghosts? Are there dark angels intent on making us miserable? How many of us have abilities we haven't embraced? Death Cheater is an exploration into forces from the other side and our power to choose what is right over what they would influence us to do. Meet Athena Gray and find out more!

Danielle Thorne
Blogging at

Danielle Thorne is the author of sweet romantic adventure books, both historical and contemporary. She has published poetry, short fiction and novels. Danielle currently writes from south of Atlanta, Georgia. She was the 2009-2010 Co-Chair for the New Voices Competition for young writers, is active with online author groups, and she moderates for The Sweetest Romance Authors. Besides freelance editing and writing full time, Danielle has four sons with her husband, Rob. Together they enjoy travel and the outdoors. Death Cheater is her first paranormal.

I would love to meet you!

Follow on Facebook:
Twitter: @DanielleThorne
Follow the Blog:

Monday, 8 October 2012

Author Spotlight - Q&A with Danielle Thorne

STEPH: I don't know much about "Death Cheater." What's it about?

DANI: Death Cheater is a young adult paranormal for all ages, set in West Tennessee and the fictional town of Omega. It tells the story of Athena Gray, who has lost her grandfather and is trying to get through high school without anyone finding out that she has a strange ability. She's able to see death and in some cases reverse it. When a dark spirit shows up in Omega and tries to blackmail Athena into using her powers for evil, her secret and her family and friends are in danger.

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

DANI: I was very inspired by Athena's story once I had the idea, so it was a very quick writing process compared to my previous work with environmental and historical romances. It was a fun experience-- when you really enjoy what you're doing time flies.

STEPH: How much research did you have to do?

DANI: I'd visited and been inspired by ancient burial mounds in Pinson, Tennessee. There's a haunting atmosphere in that park, and it gave me a lot of my story ideas. The only research I needed for Death Cheater was to study the Chickasaw nation of that region and prehistoric people who dwelled there.

STEPH: How does the cover reflect the story within?

DANI: I love the cover of Death Cheater. Jenifer Ranieri did an amazing job capturing the very essence of the story. The woods of Omega are Athena's haven, but once they become dark and dangerous she loses that safe and comforting place. Athena has experience with insects and butterflies fluttering to life once she touches them, and her own journey throughout the story is a type of rebirth and realization of her strength and courage. I thought a butterfly was a perfect symbol to represent her story.

STEPH: Athena Gray is the heroine. What are her strengths? Weakness?

DANI: Athena's greatest weakness, like so many of us, is that she doesn't know how strong she is. She's insecure and suffers from real social anxiety, but she has courage that not everyone has; she's able to be true to herself no matter the circumstances, and she faces her fears with great courage.

STEPH: What does Dan find appealing about her?

DANI: Dan Lipinsky is Athena's new best friend. He's one of the most popular boys at school, but despite Athena's coolness toward others he sees right through her tough exterior and seems to understand her insecurity. Dan admires that Athena is smart and not a follower.

STEPH: What is the theme of the novel?

DANI: The theme of Death Cheater is enduring the little things and standing up to our darkest fears. My hope is that readers will be inspired by Athena carrying on despite her fears and the obstacles thrown in her path.

STEPH: As a writer, where do you draw inspiration from?

DANI: I’m often inspired by the places I visit. I love to see new things, even just a quirky road sign along the highway that may be funny or curious. I've learned to become an open minded-observer of the little things around me. For me, history and nature are full of stories waiting to be told. And the parts of ourselves we keep hidden from the world are great character traits waiting to be explored and analyzed.

STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

DANI: I have a Kindle Fire at this time which I love reading books on from online, but I do wish I could find a PDF program that would give me text size options and better control for reading other files on it.

STEPH: Fun question: Are you going to dress up for Halloween this year? If so, what are you going to be?

DANI: I dress up every year and help my neighbors and neighborhood pull off a great Haunted Mansion and pirate tour. Last year I dressed as a voodoo woman a la Pirates of the Caribbean and this year I will probably play that role again. It's a good time.


Friday, 5 October 2012

Author Spotlight - Excerpt from "Baer Necessities"

Thank you so much for supporting Linda during her week in the spotlight. Leave a comment today, Saturday, and Sunday along with your email addy (so we can contact you if you win!) and we'll pick one lucky winner on Monday to receive a copy of Linda's latest book, "Baer Necessities." Enjoy the excerpt!

Moderator Steph


Baer Necessities - Book Two of The Three Baers

One of them will be just right.

Connor Baer left the ranch to see the world.

Jessie McIvey wasn't far behind.

He wanted no part of small town life, and she didn't want a cowboy in her future.

But sometimes the thing your heart wants the most, you've had all along. Two people left one small town to find what their hearts were searching for only to find everything they'd ever wanted right in their own backyard.

As he drove toward the wide spot in the road known as Sentinel, Wyoming, he found his Jeep pulling into McIvey's Café parking lot.

Strange, he wasn't really hungry.

A little, lime-green, hybrid zipped into the spot next to him. The license plate said Colorado. A dozen strands of beads and a peace sign hung around the rearview mirror. Greenpeace and Eat Vegetarian stickers plastered on the rear window.

The man inside the hybrid gave Connor a nod as he got out of the car and followed him inside the café.

George McIvey smiled.

"Hi Connor, what can I get you?" He walked to the counter. George never changed. He still had the same military buzz cut, although it had gotten grayer. He still wore the same white apron, same flannel shirt underneath, and his eyes couldn't hide his happy soul.

"Coffee." Connor sat on a stool at the counter, watching the stranger who plopped down a few stools over. Curly dark blond hair fell to about mid-shoulder; he had a beard and moustache, square sunglasses, and sandals. Sandals? Well, at least the man didn’t wear socks with them.

George slid a fresh cup of coffee in front of him, and waited on the stranger.
"Coffee for you, sir?"

"No thanks, I'd like water, and do you have a vegetarian menu?"

George laughed, "You're in luck, our last cook was a vegetarian, and she made some mighty good meals." He handed the man a small paper menu. "It's short, but it's good. I'll get your water."

"Get that mangy mutt out of my restaurant." Margaret yelled from the kitchen as the swinging doors that separated the dining area from the kitchen slammed open. A muddy, foul smelling dog burst out of the opening in the counter, followed by a very cute woman on its heels.

Connor smiled as the dog wedged himself under the table in a booth, peering out at the sexy woman who tried to coax him out.

"You, come out of there. Come on boy." She bent over, talking softly to the dog, and the jeans pulled tight across the cutest little butt he'd seen in a long time. Her bare feet only added to her hotness.

"Jessie, is that you?" Sandal man walked toward her.

She stood and turned around.

Connor took in a deep breath. Damp, brown, curly hair matted around her face. Her eyes were chocolate brown, her lashes long, her hips tiny, and her breasts large. This girl was like a walking, talking Barbie doll. Connor swallowed hard, using the paper napkin George had supplied with his coffee to wipe his brow. It seemed rather hot in the café.

"Oak?" A smile lit up her face. "You came." She squealed and ran across the room to the man, throwing her arms around his neck.

"Connor," George leaned on his elbows across the counter, toward him, "did she just call him Oak?"

"I believe so."

Margaret stomped across the room, ignoring their reunion. "Dog. Out," she ordered, but the dog didn't move. "George." Her head turned toward him, her eyes shooting daggers.

He nodded and ran from behind the counter. "Come on." He got on his knees, calling to the dog.

"Dad, let me try." Jessie pulled away from Oak, dropped to her knees and nearly crawled under the table with the mutt.

Connor envied the dog.

Oak walked past George, tapped Jessie on the shoulder, and held his hand up. "Let me."

Margaret gave Connor an eye roll, crossed her arms over her chest, and tapped an aggravated foot.

"Come boy. Come out." Oak looked to Jessie. "What's his name?"

"Toby." George mused.

"Hank." Jessie chimed in.

"Dead dog," Margaret said, "if you don't get him out of my restaurant."


Booktrailers - - Baer Necessities
and - Baer Truth

Linda McMaken

BAER TRUTH - Book One of the Three Baer's Trilogy
-One of them will be just right for you!
From Desert Breeze Publishing

Ancient Rome, epic battles, endangered hearts
From Desert Breeze Publishing

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Author Spotlight - Linda McMaken & Mud :)

There is a place that has legendary mud. I mean mud on steroids. This mud sticks to you like a lobbyist sticks to a politician. I've only found this mud in one place, Wyoming. Any readers from this amazing state will back me up here.

We headed out on a day trip up in the Big Horn Mountains. The road was hard packed dirt on the drive up the mountain. But coming back down we discovered it had rained, and now the road had to turned to not just mud, but sludge.

We safely made it down and the next morning as we reminisced about our mountain adventure, we noticed a strange substance clinging to the fender wells of the truck. Hubby kicked at it - it wouldn't budge. On further inspection we discovered it was mud from the aforesaid mountain road. He took a shovel to it, only a few small chips of the stuff dropped to the ground. We loaded up and headed into town, to find a car wash.

With a spray of high intensity water, a pick-ax and a military shovel we dug at the goo that had lodged under the truck. It was stuffed into that little divot inside the bumper, under fender wells, wrapped around the tie-rods, was even plugging the bottom part of the radiator.

We've off-roaded before and a swish of power washer always cleaned off the mud - not this mud. It took 2-hours, about 20-dollars, and a pick-ax and there was still mud on that truck. In fact, I broke my little Army shovel on this darn mud!

We continued our vacation, another 1500 miles, came home and there was still mud on the truck. We power-washed it, we scraped it, we finally took it to a big semi-truck wash that had industrial washing equipment - this is where a huge boulder of the stuff fell off. The guy at the truck wash went to scoop it up with a shovel and nearly snapped his back trying to lift it. (No, wonder our fuel mileage dropped on the way home.)

He remarked, "What is that stuff?" As he tried to shovel it outside.

I smiled, "Wyoming mud, legendary mud."

My darling husband snarled commenting about nuclear waste.

The car wash guy grunted, arms straining to take the lump outside. "Remind me never to go there. This stuff is nasty."

Booktrailers - - Baer Necessities
and - Baer Truth

Linda McMaken

BAER TRUTH - Book One of the Three Baer's Trilogy
-One of them will be just right for you!
From Desert Breeze Publishing

Ancient Rome, epic battles, endangered hearts
From Desert Breeze Publishing

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Author Spotlight - Linda McMaken talks about the inspiration behind "The 3 Baers Trilogy"

Even though I'm a Midwest girl by birth, my heart is in the West. My mom used to read me Zane Grey, Louis L'amour, and Max Brand books. She took me to every John Wayne movie that was made and she'd talk about mountain men and cowboys and their free spirits. Cowboys are tough, hardworking, quiet and unassuming, and I think that is what attracts many people to read and attracted me to write about them.

I'd have to say my inspiration for writing westerns, would be my mom. Although she never got to visit the West, it lived in her in so many ways. She would tough, dependable, hardworking, faithful, everything that history seems to have embodied in cowboys.

Since, I know about farming, but very little about ranching, I figured me being on a ranch would be pretty funny to those cowboys. So, there is a bit of me in some of those funny scenes.

Baer Truth, the first book in the Three Baers Trilogy began during a family vacation in Wyoming. We passed a cattle ranch where hundreds of head were grazing. I wondered about that ranch family, how long had they lived there? How big was the ranch? Then my snarky muse (who I call comedian Robin Williams evil twin) takes over and says "what if a cowboy on that beef ranch fell for a girl who happened to be a vegetarian?" Baer Truth was born, and other cowboys soon followed!

Booktrailers - - Baer Necessities
and - Baer Truth

Linda McMaken

BAER TRUTH - Book One of the Three Baer's Trilogy
-One of them will be just right for you!
From Desert Breeze Publishing

Ancient Rome, epic battles, endangered hearts
From Desert Breeze Publishing

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Author Spotlight - Linda McMaken shares the cast of "Baer Necessities"

Meet the cast of Baer Necessities:

The Three Baers - Joe, Connor and Matt Baer. They live on the Hidden Rock Ranch, well, not all of them. Joe loves the ranch and lives there, Matt is sort of finding his way around the Baers, and Connor, he left the ranch to find greener pastures elsewhere.

Baer Necessities is Connor's story. Called back home when Joe is critically injured in a bull riding event, he hangs around to help out. When things are back to normal, he longs to head back to Seattle and a job as a geologist that takes him around the world, far from the ranch fences. Although, after he runs into a former high school friend, Jessie McIvey, he isn't so sure anymore.

Jessie McIvey left home right after graduation, headed to college, earned a degree in archeology and she too has traveled the world. Growing up with cowboys left her longing for a different kind of man, a refined, well-read man -- no cowboys for this girl.

As a nasty neighbor rancher with a vendetta against the Baers starts making trouble of the legal kind, they stay to help. Although they are at bitter odds over how to help. The stealing of a satellite, (they just borrowed it), water rights, and legendary Wyoming mud are all standing in their way.

---Sometimes the things we yearn for the most, have been right in our back yard all along. --

Booktrailers - - Baer Necessities
and - Baer Truth

Linda McMaken

BAER TRUTH - Book One of the Three Baer's Trilogy
-One of them will be just right for you!
From Desert Breeze Publishing

Ancient Rome, epic battles, endangered hearts
From Desert Breeze Publishing

Monday, 1 October 2012

Author Spotlight - Q&A with Linda McMaken

STEPH: I don't know much about "Baer Necessities." What's it about?

LINDA: Baer Necessities is Book Two of the Three Baers Trilogy. Set in Wyoming, the first book was brother Joe Baer's story, and being cowboys and brothers, well the other two wanted their story told. Baer Necessities is Connor's story. Connor is the brother that left the ranch to see what lay over those miles of fences. He became a geologist, and when younger brother Joe, got into a little trouble, he came back to the ranch to help.

In the meantime, Jessie McIvey, his nemisis in high school has come home for a visit with her current boyfriend. After leaving Sentinel, Wyoming, she vowed she'd never have anything to do with another cowboy. She set out to find her hearts desire in far away places. As an archeologist, she has also been called to do some investigating of artifacts on the local Indian reservation.

When the two meet again, well, let's just say it wasn't exactly a match made in heaven. There is legendary Wyoming mud to deal with, a ruthless rancher who wants revenge on the Baers and lots of humorous obstacles in the way of these two getting together.

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

LINDA: Well, Connor hollered so loudly after the first book was published, that it didn't take as long as the first one. Since many of the characters were already in place. It took around six months.

STEPH: How much research did you have to do?

LINDA: Surprisingly, I did quite a bit. There is a satellite in the book and I needed to learn about those, of course, I had to learn a bit more about ranching, buffaloes, drilling for water, and zoning information in territorial Wyoming. I really NEED to go back to Wyoming for book three! LOL

STEPH: How does the cover reflect the story within?

LINDA: In spite of the fact that both of them left Wyoming at their first chance, both are "cowboy/cowgirl" deep inside. The minute they return to Sentinel, their boots and hats come out. Not just any boots, worn, comfy, working boots.

STEPH: Jessie is the heroine. What are her strengths? Weakness?

LINDA: She can take care of herself quite well. She's been around the world, to places most of us only see in National Geographic. She's tough, opioniated and stubborn -- these are also her weaknesses, well that and Connor. She's been searching for everything she never wanted, and all along everything she did want is right at home.

STEPH: What does Conner find appealing about her?

LINDA: He likes that she's a firebrand, tough, take no crap kind of girl. She can ride, rope, and ranch with the boys, yet she's still charming, warm and feminine.

STEPH: What is the theme of the novel?

LINDA: Sometimes the things we want the most are right in front of us and we are too blind to see them.

STEPH: As a writer, where do you draw inspiration from?

LINDA: It would be easier to say where don't I? LOL Pretty much anything that captures my attention can become a book, so be afraid! You have been warned.

STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

LINDA: Yes, I have a Kindle.

STEPH: Fun question: Do you dress up for Halloween? What were you last year?

LINDA: I haven't dressed up for a few years, as there have been some significant medical issues in my family. This year however, I think I might just be a cowgirl!

Here's the link to both booktrailers - -

Baer Necessities
and - Baer Truth

Linda McMaken

BAER TRUTH - Book One of the Three Baer's Trilogy
-One of them will be just right for you!
From Desert Breeze Publishing

Ancient Rome, epic battles, endangered hearts
From Desert Breeze Publishing