Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Short and Sweet Review: Passionate Secrets by Lana Williams

Fans of Lana Williams rejoice! The second book of her Secrets Trilogy is now available! The first installment, Unraveling Secrets, swept readers up in a Victorian Romance filled with mystery and suspense...as well as some breathtaking romance.

Now Ms. Williams is back with book number two, Passionate Secrets. The underlying story of a science experiment gone wrong and the three young men whose lives were changed forever as a result, continues.

Michael Drury, the Viscount Weston, is one of these survivors, left with the ability to read a person’s aura that indicate success or failure for their current ventures. But Michael hasn’t dwelt on his new talent, instead he’s been trying to save the family fortune and honor, both lost by his parents whose passions clouded their judgment as well as their hearts, ultimately leading to their deaths.

Michael commits to avoid entanglements of the heart, feeling they lead to ruin. He makes his own fortune and plans to wed a cold but connected beauty whose father holds the key to the final piece of his inheritance. Just as the plan seems set, a woman from his past reappears.

Emma Grisby is the niece of the now-dead professor whose experiment changed Michael’s life. But is he dead? Michael has reason to believe he may not be. And Emma, intent on gaining his assistance with an interview for a governess position, seems oblivious to this new turn of events regarding her uncle.

Is Emma playing a game? Her family has fallen on hard times and her sister is desperately ill. Certainly she has every reason to rue an uncle who disappeared just as her family needed his help the most. But is he helping them now? Michael intends to keep her close to find out the truth, while keeping himself personally distant, avoiding those messy affairs of the heart. He has a plan after all.

Emma, however, whose dour and stand-offish exterior hides a woman of great talent and gentle nature, slowly softens that hard exterior making it very difficult for Michael to reign in his growing feelings...and find out the truth about the evil professor’s diabolical scheme to control the population, and possibly endanger them all.

Passionate Secrets is a great read all on its own, whether you read the first book or not...but it might make you want to read them both! Williams writes a fluid and compelling tale that will make you a fan of all her books. Luckily, readers can anticipate a third installment in the future. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Short and Sweet Review: Below Zero by C.J. Box

Another awesome and gritty tale in C.J. Box's Joe Pickett series. I believe Below Zero is #9 and the author shows no signs of lagging in his diligence to take the reader on a thrilling ride through the wilds of Montana...and the heart of a family.

This series is not for the feint of heart or the squeamish. But the most difficult scenes to read are not arbitrary. Everything has it's purpose to advance the plot and, on occasion, educate the reader to the controversies of the contemporary west.

I would never put a reader off a particular book, but I would advise starting this series at the beginning with Open Season. By the time you reach Below Zero, Joe Pickett is chasing down a dying Chicago bad guy, and his seriously screwed up son, with a warped idea about how he can clean the slate before he dies. But Joe is also urgently searching for a young girl who may...or may not be the adopted daughter whose death years--and books--ago left an aching hole in the hearts of Joe's family.

Of course the elusive and mysterious Nate Romanowski has Joe's back when things turn ugly, which only makes the whole experience richer. But first Joe has to hike into Nate's remote lair where he's hiding out from the feds.

The title doesn't refer to the cold, but it certainly could refer to the hearts of these 'bad guys'. Readers can count on Joe catching up with them, but as always, we have no guarantee that there won't be collateral damage. That's the catch with Box's series: there are no promises. But I'll make a promise--if you can take it, you'll love these books!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Short and Sweet Review: Just Another Maniac Monday by Jennie Marts

Just Another Maniac Monday is a funny romance with plenty of heart. The third installment of Jennie Marts’ Page Turner series, tells the story of the oldest member of the group, the elderly, but fun and feisty Edna.

The sudden return of Johnny, an old flame whom Edna had thought long dead, occasions some marvelous flashbacks to Edna’s young adult years in the 50’s. If you've read the previous books this is a change of scenery, not to mention era. But the author does a marvelous job of creating the feel of the time and developing characters who are true to their day.

Meanwhile, back in the present, Edna’s friends bring humor and love as they dive right in to help her discover the truth of Johnny’s return as well as protect her from a very real present-day threat.

Marts books are always fun to read but Monday had the added appeal of a very touching and tragic love story that might just have a shot at a happy ending-if they all survive to the end of the book (don’t want to give away any spoilers here!).  I highly recommend it for a fun and touching summer read or even a cozy winter get-away. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Blog Tour: My Writing Process

Today is Blog Tour Day. This blog tour is where writers and authors answer questions about their writing process. My friend Lana Williams, who writes wonderful historical romances, posted hers last week. You can check out her writing process here: Love Historicals 

I hope you enjoy this peak into my process and I’d love to hear your comments and questions-please add those at the bottom!

1)  What am I working on?
Right now I’m writing the sequel to my women's fiction novel, The Shell Keeper, which was the first in my Keeper trilogy. I’m just past mid-way and still wandering a bit in the wilderness that is the middle of the book. I always find I more or less sprint to the middle, hit a plateau and then wander a bit before I find the way to get to the end. As usual I have another book in the back of my mind that I sometimes play with. This one is unrelated to the Keeper trilogy, and its plot is percolating until I am ready. 

                2)  How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I write in two genres: women’s fiction and mystery (that one is Framed, a Kay Conroy mystery). This current book is women’s fiction and the trilogy is based, in part, on themes from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from The Sea, which explores the phases of a woman’s life. Instead of one main character, I have three best friends whose stories we follow in each book, focusing more heavily on a different character in each book. The Shell Keeper followed Gwen, this current book (still working on the title) follows Claire and the final book will be Del’s story. But don't think they are heavy, serious reads! I love to incorporate humor, happiness and romance in all my books. 

                3)  Why do I write what I do?
I enjoy exploring the highs and lows that women face in all times of their lives. That can be pretty serious stuff, but I like to inject some humor into my stories as well. I suppose it’s a reflection on my own life since I tend to be a 'glass half full' kind of gal and, whenever possible, would rather smile and laugh than cry. In a way, I hope reading my books will help other women see that they aren’t alone—in whatever challenges they face—and help them face them with a smile. Okay, I know, it’s corny, but it is what it is!

                4)  How does your writing process work?
If you know what a Pantser is that’s me! I go in with a general idea of where I’m starting, how it ends and what happens in the middle. Then I let the characters show me the way...within reason. Sometimes they stray (especially in that plateau I mentioned in #1) and I have to wrangle them back. But generally they cooperate; which is not the same thing as behave!

Like many authors, writing isn’t my day job, so I have to work around my work schedule, which changes daily. In general, I try to hit the keyboard after an early lunch and, if I’m lucky, I’m there till mid-afternoon. I might write a page or a chapter. Either way, I think as long as I’m writing it’s like putting one foot in front of the other—I’ll get there.

Since I work from home I have a separate, smaller office set up just for writing. It’s tucked away in a cozy corner and, if I exercise will power and avoid my email, I can focus completely on writing.

I know many writers wax poetic about their chocolate/diet cokes/etc., but since my writing happens after lunch, I don’t usually bring along food. I might have gum or Twizzlers if I’m particularly antsy, but I do have something to drink, like water or iced tea.

Even if I know what I’m going to write next, I always start by rereading what I wrote the day before. It’s the first official edit (my sweet spot—more on that in a second) so it cleans it up a bit and gets my mind back into the story. Along the way I keep notes on each chapter on a separate document with color coding for all of my characters. I trudge and shove my way through my first draft and then I’m a happy camper because I LOVE editing. I’m a little odd that way but I can’t help it. Having something to work with vs. a blank page just makes me giddy, and I think I do my best working adding/hacking/tweaking from beginning to end.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post!!  Curious about other writers? You can check out the writing processes of R.S. Guthrie, Jennie Marts and Michael Roueche next Monday, May 19! Here's a little bit about each one and a link to their blog:


R.S. Guthrie "BlackBeast: A Clan of MacAulay Novel" marked Guthrie's first major release and it heralded the first in a series of Detective Bobby Macaulay (Bobby Mac) books. His ‘Sheriff James Pruett Mystery/Thriller’series includes "Blood Land", “Money Land” and“Honor Land” is due out in 2014.It is set in a fictional town in the same county where he spent much of his childhood and still visits.
To find his blog click HERE

Jennie Marts Jennie loves to make readers laugh as she weaves stories filled with love, friendship and intrigue. She's the author of the Kindle Bestselling romantic comedies, Another Saturday Night and I Ain't Got No Body and Easy LikeSunday Mourning. Reviewers call her books "laugh out loud" funny and full of great characters that are "endearing and relatable."
To find her blog Click HERE 

Michael Rouche writes historical fiction about the civil war era including Beyond the Wood and A River Divides. Whether you are a Civil War buff or not, Michael's books really draw you in -I highly recommend them!
To find his blog click HERE

Saturday, April 26, 2014

**99 cents**?! Woohoo! Kindle Countdown on The Shell Keeper!

Check it out FAST! Only 2 days to get The Shell Keeper for 99 cents! Just missed the boat?! Then you've got two more days to get it for $1.99 and after that, two more days at $2.99...then it's back to it's original price.

These Kindle Countdowns keep readers hopping, but they are a great way to stock up on some fun summer reads. Here's the link: CLICK HERE! and please be sure to leave a review after you've read it. I LOVE hearing from my readers. 

So, you wonder, why should I get on board and read The Shell Keeper now if I've procrastinated about it this long? Because the sequel is coming soon and you'll want to get acquainted with the girls and read Gwen's story. Book 2 (still working on the title) is Claire's story (see where I'm going here?). 

So CLICK HERE now and join the fun as Gwen, Claire and Del explore life, love and friendship in the Rocky Mountain town of Blue River. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What To Read?!?

You know the feeling. You come at last to the end of a wonderful book. The finale is satisfying, but you have that empty feeling...your friends are gone, living happily on in their own alternate universe without you. The only cure is to find a new universe to jump into and join in the fun-but which one? Assuming you're not making your way through a sequel, how do you find a new book to read that's a wonderful as the last?

Sure, sometimes you already have a book in your sites, but what if you've used up your 'must read' list? Where do you go? Of course, asking other readers what they are reading is a good start. If you are on Goodreads you can join one of their many Goodreads Groups of fellow like-minded readers and follow their advice, comments and reviews. One group I particularly follow is the Women and Books group.

Naturally, Goodreads itself offers so many reader reviews of a wide variety of books that can aide in your search. Just visit the site and search your interests. They even host Giveaways-and who doesn't like winning a free book?!

Another resource might be visiting the online book review page for your local newspaper-or any paper whose reviews you appreciate. I find the Wall Street Journal has the most incredibly extensive reviews-it's almost like reading the book itself!

You might also follow a book review blog. I have several I enjoy checking in on, but one of my favorites is Shellyrae Cusbert's Book'd Out. She's a book reviewer and blogger in Australia whose volume is truly prolific! I particularly like her It's Monday, What are You Reading?' posts. She lists what she read last week along with her goals for the coming week.

I hope that gives you some new resources, but I'd love to know where YOU look. I always need a good book to read!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spammers Are Endlessly Entertaining For Writers!

So...I received an 'urgent' email from my 'cousin' in Wisconsin. She was stuck in (the) Ukraine and needed my help. Or, more accurately, my money. Yeah, well, I gotta wonder just how stupid these Eastern European scammers think Americans are. I guess some of them are gullible, or what I like to think of as too kind-hearted because they wouldn't keep trying this stuff if they didn't get nibbles-and cash.

Anyway, before I hit the tab to alert my service about the obviously deceptive email, I just have to read through it and giggle here and there. It's the writer in me! These guys know just enough English to show how un-American they are. Here's the original version, with highlights of the troublesome spots, along with my 'American' comments in red:

Good morning (Hi!)

I really hope you get this fast. I could not inform(tell) anyone about my trip, because it was impromptu(you mean last minute?). I had to be in Ukraine
(most American’s don’t know you don’t say ‘the’ anymore)for a program (are you an actor? dancer?). The program was successful (uh-huh...), but my journey has turned sour.(how distasteful) I misplaced my wallet on my way back to my hotel after I went for sight seeing(I can sooo hear the eastern European accent here-trying not to profile, naturally!). The wallet contained all the valuables I had. Now, my passport is in (the)custody of the hotel management pending when (until)I make payment.

I have made contact with my bank but it would take me 5-7 working(business) days to access funds in my account i (even an IPhone auto-corrects this!)am sorry if i am inconveniencing you, but i have only very few people to run(turn) to now. i will be indeed very grateful(really appreciate it?!) if i can get a loan of $2,750 USD($ means USD and where the heck are you staying, The Kiev Ritz?!) or any amount you can afford from you(redundant). this will enable me sort my hotel bills and get my sorry self back 
home.(haha...delightful attempt at American ‘lingo’) I will really appreciate whatever you can afford in assisting me with. I promise to refund it in full (aka, pay you back)as soon as I return. let me know if you can be of any assistance(that’s ‘help’ in Rio Linda). Please, let me know soonest (cute) and I need you to keep checking your email because it's the only way I can reach you.(ah...sure)
Thanks so much

Almost impossible to read this without an accent, isn't it? Those are just my 'off the top of my head' comments, but can you be the first person who can tell me the BIG 'tell' that shows up throughout, especially in the last paragraph? And if you know the Rio Linda reference you get extra points! 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Are Writers the Demi-Gods of Literature?!

Over the holidays I had a bad case of 'no-time-to-write'. It's understandable and excusable for all of us. I had a long list of house guests to make comfortable, cookies to bake, turkeys to stuff. Not to mention my 'day job'. 

But the problem with no-time-to-write-itis is that it can go viral and, if you don't watch out, turn fatal! Not to you...but to your characters. That's what kicked me back into gear. I had one of those paradigm shift moments and suddenly saw my characters in the book I'm currently working on (and the other one...am I the only person with another book waiting on the back burner?!?) as stuck in a limbo of my own making. 

Like God...or maybe just a demi-god, I had given them life. But until I returned to the keyboard they were waiting to breathe their next breath! What if I never returned? Would I, in effect, be a murderer? There's an existential question for all the writers with unfinished manuscripts! 

If you've never looked at a book in quite this way, you might pick up The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. It's the first in his 'Thursday Next series'. Thursday is a woman of the future, part of a Special Ops division policing literature. She has a unique skill, she can jump inside books and interact with the characters and, believe me, there's a lot going on between the pages of some of our greatest works of fiction! 

Once you've seen fiction from the other side you can easily understand why I felt a special affinity for the souls whose lives were in my hands. That should break down any writer's block...or even a slight malaise, and kick us all back into gear! And so I am back at the work on the sequel to The Shell Keeper, breathing more life into those three wonderful gals whose adventures I now feel a particular responsibility to fulfill. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Short and Sweet Review: Unraveling Secrets by Lana Williams

As a huge fan of Lana William’s Vengeance Trilogy I was sorry to see that series end, but delighted to read the first installment in her new Secret Trilogy! Set in Victorian England, Unraveling Secrets is a fast paced, suspenseful romance about Abigail Bradford, who is determined to protect her family from the man who murdered her father. The only problem is he’s supposed to already be dead-put to death for the crime.

But Abigail knows better, she’s seen him and now she’s worried they he may come back to find what he couldn’t find the first time. Abigail is a feisty gal, but considering the times, she needs help. That's why she turns to Stephan Nolton, the Viscount Ashbury, an extremely attractive aristocrat with some very shady connections. He’s kept away from society to protect himself from a gift that seems more of a curse. Stephan can see the good, bad and ugly auras that others give off. Still, he can’t resist Abigail and soon, the feeling is mutual!

Following these two as they seek to solve the mystery and save Abigail's family from further harm is delightful on two levels. First, the mystery itself, and the close calls that almost cost them both their lives. Second, the growing romance and magnetic attraction between Abigail and Stephan make it hard to put this book down, particularly in the later pages!

As always, Ms. Williams delivers with both plot and wonderful characters. I’d definitely recommend this book for a very fun read for fans of suspenseful romance, and I’m already looking forward to the next installment in this trilogy!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Short and Sweet Review: Believe in Me by Lana Williams

Sir William is tasked with delivering Lady Cristiana to her new guardian, Bishop Duval. Though he’s initially anxious to be rid of his charge, feeling the commission beneath him, he soon finds himself attracted to the lady. Nevertheless, he’s befuddled and frustrated by her persistent efforts to foil his mission, combined with her strong dislike of the Bishop for reasons she holds secret.

Cristiana has good reason to distrust all connected with the Bishop, but she too begins to warm to William. Once delivered to the Bishop, she determines to find out the truth regarding her mother’s violent death while protecting a secret gift of her own that, though it may save the lives of others, could cost her her own.

Believe in Me is the third and final installment of Lana William’s Vengeance Trilogy and, like the two books before it, this one delivers on all levels. The author moves her characters comfortably through their medieval world all the while building the layers of her characters and her story. Add in the touch of paranormal that is a hallmark of this trilogy and you have one very fun read.

Yes, this book stands alone, so don’t feel you must have read the previous two, A Vow to Keep and Trust in Me, to enjoy it. But why not read all three? If you've been looking for a wonderful romantic series to enchant and excite you, this could be the one!