Saturday, October 22, 2016

Road "Tripping" by Leah St. James

Last week, my hubby and I took a long-weekend road trip from our home in Southeastern Virginia. Early last Thursday morning, we headed due west, then up Interstate 81 through Virginia’s Blue Ridge mountains to Northeastern Pennsylvania, then turned southeast to Central Jersey. From there we headed due south down the Atlantic Coast and along the Eastern Shore back home. The purpose of the trip was twofold:  To visit his family’s grave site (he’s one of those “grave” guys who feels closest to his loved ones who have passed at their graves), and to get some good food.

Fall Foliage, Elmhurst, PA - October

Now, let me qualify that last statement. We’re blessed in the food department, and we know it. Not only do we live in America, where there’s a grocery store or “super” market nearly on every corner, shelves stuffed and stocked to the brim (at least in most populated areas), but we are gainfully employed so can afford to buy some of that food. (We don’t eat fancy, but we don’t go hungry either. We are truly blessed.)

But there’s quantity, and then there’s quality.

The South is known for many things – hospitality, for one, and in the food department, great ham and biscuits. But for native Northeasterners, raised on mouth-watering breads and cheeses, the Southern versions of those staples just don’t cut it on our food-o-meters.

So we were really looking forward to stuffing our stomachs with our favorite pizza (pepperoni from Vince the Pizza Prince in Scranton, Pa.), good real diner food (New Monmouth Diner in Middletown, NJ) and bagels (Hole Lot of Bagels, Middletown, NJ). We even took a big cooler and filled it with pizza and bagels to take home. (Oh, yum.)


But while we’ve been all nostalgic about the food, there was one biggie we forgot about living in the northeast—TRAFFIC and NORTHERN DRIVERS.

When we first left for warmer climes about nine years ago, we knew ourselves to be “Jersey Drivers.” It's driving for survival in the areas of dense population. Gaps in the traffic flow? Fill them...quickly! See an open parking space? Grab it; you may never find another. Be quick. Be decisive. And for God’s sake, don’t stop at a yellow light or you’ll find yourself up close and personal with the driver behind you, and it won’t be pleasant.

We weren't sure we'd ever get used to the slowness of the south. Then somehow, their ways crept into our everyday driving behavior. We found ourselves slowing down...a bit. (Let’s not get crazy here.) We don’t like long lines of traffic, but at least we know our fellow drivers will, for the most part, be polite and considerate. We won’t find people waving middle digits at us or honking horns if we need to merge. They’ll actually make room for us! (It’s amazing.)

The bad part about that is when you have to head back north and drive among the natives again...holy shhhh—I mean, Sugar-Honey-Iced-Tea!

Within 10 miles of crossing the Jersey line, a pickup with a trailer raced up the left lane that was ending, running us onto the shoulder of the freaking highway going 70 MPH. The next day, as we were driving down the main drag in town (a four-lane state highway), a car flashed us as it cut across from our left to get to the far right to exit--crossing four lanes! (We weren’t dragging either. We were right up to traffic!) I hit my imaginary break so hard, I almost sprained my ankle! The next morning going to breakfast, we were cut off by no less than three cars within a space of half a mile.

18-Wheeler a bit too close for comfort
We wondered if our fellow drivers saw our Virginia plates and thought we were easy pickings. Ha! What they don’t know is that my hubby is a wanna-be NASCAR driver! He’s got nerves of steel when he’s driving, and it took him no time at all to get back into the swing of things. (Picture me clutching the car's “oh-crap” bar with one hand, covering my eyes with the other, and him saying, “What’s wrong with you?”)

All I know is I don’t remember the traffic being this bad when we lived there. I don’t know if it has become worse, or we’ve just acclimated to the South. Or maybe it’s just that we have aged over these nine years. Whatever, as much as I hate to say it, I was not sad to leave that part of Jersey life behind when we pulled out of the hotel at 0-dark-thirty to head home!

Next time I get a hankering for some of that food, I’ll see if they ship. Or better yet, maybe Amazon will carry it by then. :-)


Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil and the power of love. Usually some anecdote about Jersey life makes it into her stories. Once a Jersey girl, always a Jersey girl. Learn more at

Friday, October 21, 2016

What happened to Indian Summer? by Barbara Edwards

From my porch
The last few days have been a wonderful break in the Fall weather. I enjoyed the chance to catch up on yard work and cleaning my garden.

To my surprise, none of the weather channels mentioned that we were enjoying Indian Summer. You remember. It always followed a killing frost. The warm days and nights lasted from a day or two to weeks. The weathermen spent hours asking why we’re having such nice days instead of saying enjoy. There seemed to be some effort to connect Indian Summer with global warming although this phenomenon has been around for as long as there have been people to notice.

It got the name Indian Summer from the tribes taking advantage of the weather to continue gathering and hunting to fill their stores of food.

I guess this is another high-jacking of words to twist them into something that needs redefining, like a burglary of a residence is now a home invasion. 
What other changes have your noticed? Besides the uni-version of him and her?

Since we’re fast approaching the holidays, I wanted to share one of my short holiday romances.

Journey of the Magi by Barbara Edwards

Blurb: Widow Noel Martin never breaks promises, and she promised her kids they'd have Christmas at her childhood home in Connecticut. But driving across country takes money. Noel is broke when a snowstorm blows them into a tiny Minnesota cafe owned by a man who can change her mind. She accepts his offer of a job. Despite her attraction to him, she makes it clear she is only temporary help.
Dan Longstreet isn't adopting any more strays, but he needs a waitress. Dan works so hard to make his cafe a success, he doesn't have time for love. Though Noel's slender blonde beauty stuns him and her two adorable children tug at his heart, he denies how they threaten to change his life.
When tragedy strikes, their new-found love is the first victim. Noel can't stay and Dan can't leave. Will their journey be the gift that reunites them? 

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Amazon Author’s Page

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sedona by REMullins

Beautiful, mystical Sedona. 

I finally got the chance to visit Sedona with my daughter and it was more and less than what I expected. 

This, however, was entirely my fault as I couldn't be satisfied with the gorgeous scenery.

You see, I'd read about ley lines and vortexes and couldn't wait to hike out to see one. I hoped the site wouldn't be roped off as I wanted to get right up there and feel the raw, concentrated energy bubbling out of the earth...

Perhaps the vortex would be a small hole with trails of white vapor escaping ala Yellowstone? I wondered how strong the magnetic pull of a ley line might be. Would I get the sensation of walking through sucking mud when I walked along it?

Okay, I admit it. My imagination had taken things much further. This is how I was picturing things as we drove up from Phoenix. 

Though dressed in shorts, tee, and sneakers, in my mind's eye, I saw myself wearing a long white robe. My hair flowing in the breeze and a crown of flowers encircling my head. Earth child returning to her mother. And since it was my imagination, I shaved off about ten pounds. Envisioned my skin a little tighter. Boobs a little firmer. 

As soon as we reached the mystical spot, I'd lift my arms in supplication to the ancient earth spirits. I'd stand Marilyn Monroe style in the circle of stones...or the crevice...or whatever the vortex might actually be. Then, I was positive, I'd feel a miraculous sense of healing and renewal filling me. Maybe, I'd even finally understand life in a more metaphysical level.

But most of all I believed there would be some finite location an X marks the spot type thing. Was I ever disappointed to learn there wasn't a designated spot. 

The entire region is supposedly the vortex. What? You are left to find what you will. My mind balked, completely revolting against the idea it wouldn't be all mapped out for me. I wanted, no needed an epicenter of some sort. 

My daughter and I hiked up into Bell Rock and as I walked I thought I could hear faint musical notes. Was this my totem spirit guiding me? Turns out it was a man with long, grey hair sitting atop a spiral of red rock blowing spa-reminiscent music on a tribal flute. 

Cynicism took over and I said on a sneer to my daughter, "the park probably pays him to come out and play for the tourists."

The steep climb wore me out. I was sweating and my leg muscles had turned to jelly - so not what I'd envisioned. My daughter and I found a place to sit on an outcropping of red rock shaded by a scrub tree. I closed my eyes in relief as I felt a slight cooling breeze. The music wove around, the vista was breathtaking, and I was filled with a deep sense of serenity. 

Perhaps that was my vortex moment. Yet to me it was no different from the peace that fills me while sitting next to a lake or stream. I've felt the same calm contentment at the beach or working in a flower garden. 

It suggests that mental healing can be found anytime we slow our lives long enough to allow our hearts to open. Rested, peaceful, we headed back to the trail head.

Reaching the parking lot we discovered a couple studying the trail map. The man stopped us with a perplexed look.

"Where exactly is this vortex located?"
I laughed and left my daughter to explain. 


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Re-Releases – Yay or Nay? by Alicia Dean

I know there are varying opinions on re-releasing titles. I have re-released a few, for different reasons. I currently have not one, but TWO re-releases available for pre-order. Here’s the scoop…

Soul Seducer – Available tomorrow, Oct 20th – I landed an agent with this book a few years back. She liked it a lot, but said editors wanted ‘hotter’ – So, I added very spicy sex scenes, out of my comfort zone spicy sex scenes. The book was eventually picked up by Crimson Romance. They wanted me to cut, a lot, not because of content but because of word count restrictions. I did. I cut the sex scenes and the scenes from the killer’s point of view. My experience with them was less than awesome. Eventually, I got my rights back and self-published. I published a version that included the sex scenes. I planned a few sequels to Soul Seducer, and I didn’t really want to self-publish them all. I decided to submit to Edward Allen Publishing, our own Leah St. James’ publishing house. I have a short story as part of an anthology through Edward Allen, and I LOVE being with them. I wouldn’t have asked them to consider my book, with it being a re-release which seems unfair to them, if I hadn’t planned (and still plan) sequels. I’m hoping this will be a beneficial experience for them and for me. (I kept my same cover)

Amazon Pre-Order Link:


As a nurse, Audra Grayson devotes her life to healing others. She realizes death is inevitable, but struggles every day to help her patients combat it. When she has a near-death experience of her own, she inadvertently opens a portal between the world of the living and the dead. Two Grim Reapers step through—Gaylen, bent on vengeance, determined to bring death to the innocent, even when it isn’t their time. And Dimitri—sexy and deadly, even though he’s just ‘doing his job.’ When Gaylen targets Audra’s patients, then her loved ones, she’ll have to conquer her fears to defeat him. But she can’t as easily conquer her feelings for Dimitri—she’s falling in love with him, and there’s no future with a man who exists in a world beyond the grave.


He was there. Waiting where he said he’d be, leaning against the wall, his hands shoved in the pockets of his jeans. A light above the emergency door illuminated the alcove, allowing Audra to make out his features clearly. His crystal blue eyes glittered as he watched her approach. He didn’t speak when she reached him.
“Okay,” she said breathlessly, staring up into his face. “Tell me who you are and what the hell has been going on since the night of my accident.” Blood pounded through her veins, rushing loudly in her ears as she waited for his reply.
He chuckled, taking his hands from his pockets and straightening.
A flash of anger shot through her. “What’s so damned funny?” she demanded.
“Nothing. It’s just that, this hasn’t been going on ‘since the night of your accident.’ It’s been happening since the beginning of time.”
She threw her arms in the air and let them drop to her sides. “Great. All the shit I’ve been through, and I get riddles. You think you’re a Batman villain or something?” She moved closer and jabbed her finger toward him. “I want some straight up answers. Right. This. Second.”
He lifted his hands in surrender. “Okay, okay. Calm down. I’ll tell you, but it’s going to be difficult to believe.”
She gave a humorless laugh and crossed her arms. “Everything that’s happened lately has been difficult to believe. Try me.”
He took a deep breath and let it out in a long sigh. “My name is Dimitri. I’m a reaper.”
She waited. She couldn’t have heard him right, so she let the words play in her head for a bit. What else might he have said? It sounded like he said he was a reaper. But that wasn’t possible. That was utterly ridiculous. Of course, all of this was utterly ridiculous.
“Did you just say you’re a reaper?”
“I did.”
“And what exactly is it that you reap?” She’d play along. See where this led.
“Souls, Audra. I reap souls.”
Right. She impatiently brushed a lock of hair back from her forehead. “So, you’re a reaper as in, Grim Reaper?”
A grin played over his full lips. “I can’t say I’m fond of that adjective. Grim. Sounds sort of...repugnant. I’m just a reaper. Plain and simple.”

The Twelfth Day – Available December 7, 2016 – This short story was part of a Christmas anthology last year, which was released for only a short time. I submitted the individual story to The Wild Rose Press, and they contracted it. (I LOVE being with them as well!). (Isn’t this a wonderful cover?)

Amazon Pre-Order Link:


As a teen, party girl, Sabrina Spencer was the lone survivor of a serial killer’s attack on her family. Her testimony put the killer behind bars, and she spent the following decade carving out a new life and trying to forget. But someone hasn’t forgotten. Two weeks before Christmas, she begins receiving bizarre messages with demented references to the Twelve Days of Christmas. 

Handyman Josh Cravens is remodeling the lake house she rents each year to escape the painful reminders Christmas brings. While his dimples and blue eyes are hard to resist, he’s the exact kind of player she’s been avoiding since she outgrew her wild days. But the isolated cabin and threatening messages boost her paranoia to fever pitch. 

As Christmas draws closer, she’s torn between finding comfort in Josh’s arms, and fear that he might be behind the twisted countdown to the twelfth day.


She opened the box lid. “The Twelve Days of Christmas” played from one of those little discs used in musical greeting cards. A silver bracelet lay amidst crumpled red tissue paper. And a note. On the third day of Christmas…
She gasped. The box fell from her trembling hands and landed on the table.
“Hey,” Josh’s low voice spoke beside her. He put his hand over hers, and a slight sense of calm stole through her. “You all right?”
All eyes were on her. “I-I thought I saw a spider in the box. I’m fine.”
“You sure?” His gaze captured hers. Doubt lingered in their blue depths.
Sabrina nodded. Everyone went back to eating, but she could barely focus on the remainder of the meal. This wasn’t just a computer glitch. The bracelet was just like the one she wore often, had been wearing when she was rescued. Someone was purposely referencing her past. But why? Was it a sick joke?

SO…those are my reasons for re-releasing. Do you think they are valid reasons? When promoting, would you suggest I highlight the fact that they are re-releases, or just leave that out? The titles are the same and the cover for Soul Seducer is the same. I think people will know if they already have them. What about you? Have you or would you re-release a title?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Hero Meets Dog by Jannine Gallant

So, after fifteen books, you may have noticed I put a dog in every single one of them. Some dogs play a greater role than others, but they are each unique in their own way. My purpose, other than feeling like it's sort of a trademark at this point, is too add an extra touch of humanity to my characters--because a hero who relates to an animal has to be loveable, right? Oh, and a little comic relief. Most of my canine characters are pretty funny. Wilde One is no different, although I'd have to say hero-meets-dog happens in a pretty unique way. Here's the excerpt.

A big rig thundered by, and Ainslee let out a squeal. But when the Mack truck passed, the dog—if the damned animal was a dog and not a big rat—was still cowering in the slow lane. She leaped out of the car.
“Holy crap!” Griff shoved open his door then slammed it. “No, Ainslee. Stay back. I’ll grab him.”
Horn blaring, a white pickup barreled nearer. Sprinting forward, Griff dashed out into the freeway to scoop the quivering bundle off the pavement. Brakes screeched, but he made it to the edge of the road with a foot or two to spare. The animal in his hand growled.
Griff’s gaze clashed with terrified brown eyes. “Don’t think about biting me.”
Jogging back to the SUV, he handed the tiny critter to Ainslee. Remarkably, it didn’t make any threatening noises at her. Cradling the dog against her chest, she climbed into the car. After running around the rear of the vehicle, he opened the driver’s door and slipped inside then waited for a string of cars to pass before pulling back onto the freeway. They’d gone at least a mile before his heart stopped pounding.
“It’s okay, baby. You’re safe.”
Baby? Oh, she’s talking to the damned dog.
“God, I must be crazy. That truck almost killed me.”
“Thank you, Griff. It would have broken my heart to see this sweet boy get squashed.”
           He noticed she didn’t mention the state of her heart if he’d been turned into a grease spot by oncoming traffic.

So, what do you think? Is Griff hero-worthy for risking life and limb for a miniature pup? Do you like your romance with a side of doggy humor?

Here's my own personal canine comedian...Ginger.

You can pick up your copy of Wilde One at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, or KOBO to see how it all turns out for Griff and Ainslee. Find more info on all my books on my website. Happy reading!

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Scattering of Commas by Betsy Ashton

This may be the nerdiest post yet from me. It's a minor rant about grammar.

When you stop and think about it, writing is like recombinant DNA: Throw a bunch of mouse DNA into a blender, add a dash of bat DNA, a pinch of cat DNA, and push blend. What comes out could be a better mouse of a cat that can fly.

Writing takes twenty-six letters, if you use the Western alphabet, and a handful of silly marks to let a writer craft something on paper that has a semblance of brilliance. Twenty-six letters. Scatter them across a page. Shake them in a bag with flour. Put them on keys in a nearly incomprehensible order. What gives with the QWERTY keyboard anyway? Or, sharpen a cupful of pencils and lay out a stack of legal pads. It doesn't take much more than that to get started.

Oh, wait, you say. What about those silly marks? What about the rules that "govern" them? Well, that is a dilemma. We seem to have more exceptions to the rules than rules themselves. Periods and question marks are fairly easy. They mark the end of a complete sentence or a sentence fragment ("hair ball," cry grammarians), or they mark a question. Either way, they are found at the end of a sentence. Do you use a question mark when you ask a rhetorical question. A colon can function as a kind of period:  As a writer, I like colons. I try to use no more than one per chapter: Sometimes I use more.

Semi-colons defy logic. I mean, who said they can't be used in dialogue? So, if I want to create a series of similar items, do I use a comma or semi-colon? If I have a sentence, which contains multiple clauses, do I use the semi-colon? Like in Johnny and Mack walked to the store to buy candy; Lydia met them there, because she wanted them to treat her; and Suzie ran into them with her car. Okay, that makes absolutely no sense, but you get my gist. What if this was in dialogue? I couldn't use the semi-colon, or could I? I could break this into three sentences, or I could remember that the Delete key is my friend.

It's the lowly comma that gives writers more angina than anything else. To comma or not to comma, that is the question. Whether it is nobler to use them correctly or be creative...

I mentor a first-time writer. We've had interesting discussions about that lowly comma. He doesn't favor commas here:  "Look, Michael, we have to fix this." Nope, If he had his way, there's be no commas in that sentence. Serial commas, as in a, b, and c are alien beings. So are commas before constructions like, "I'm going, too." I think he'd take the comma off his keyboard, if he could.

Just when we were making a ton of progress, along comes a Pulitzer Prize winner that doesn't use quotation marks to set off dialogue. I think you can count the number of quotation marks on both hands. A block of text can have a dozen changes in speaker, some demarked by dialogue tags, like he said. Or not. Some changes in dialogue are set off by action following what I thought was a quote. Once I figured out how to read the book, I couldn't put it down. Of course my mentee had to pick it up one day. He said, "Hey, he doesn't use quote marks. Why do I have to?" My response: because you haven't won a Pulitzer. When you do, you can dismiss grammar.

I'm thinking about running a test:  scatter all the letters of the alphabet onto a piece of paper, had a handful of commas, a period or two, rinse, stir and dry. I wonder what I would end up with. What do you think? Is this worth an experiment, or should I spend an hour looking at kitten videos on Facebook?


Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max, Unintended Consequences, and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery, now available at Amazon and Barnes and NobleI'm really excited that the trade paper edition of Uncharted Territory was released this week. Please follow me on my website, on TwitterFacebook and Goodreads.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

What A Week It’s Been by Donna Michaels

Hello, it’s Donna Michaels, sorry I’m late, but considering the past ten days, I guess it’s fitting that I scramble to get this post written. J

Last week, I was hanging out with the amazing Rolynn Anderson at InD’Scribe Author/Reader Convention in Burbank, California where we both won awards! Woot! Rolynn was 2nd Runner-up in the Romantic Suspense category of the RONE Awards with FEAR LAND! Congrats, Rolynn! And I was shocked to win 1st Runner up with COWBOY PAYBACK and then 2nd Runner-up with LOCKE AND LOAD in the Cops, Jocks, and Cowboys Contemporary category! Still in shock!  Here’s a photo of me holding them, taken by my real-life hero, my hubby, while I stood in front of one of my favorite hero inspirations…J

The convention was great with several informative and fun panels, but you can ask Rolyn, I missed a few and had to juggle my time because I was on deadline and writing every spare second. Bless my editor, she was on standby and editing the chunks of story I sent her every day because the novella I was writing was due for upload in Paige Tyler’s Dallas Fire & Rescue Kindle World no later than Tuesday because the launch was Thursday. So I had to write, edit, then format the book. Yeah, crazy, but doable. And I did—able. lol Phew.

Even managed to get two hours sleep before hubby and I hit Universal Studios on Sunday before we flew back home on Monday.
Here's a photo of my husband at Universal, trying on a fabulous hat.
I like to call this Dino-Michael :-)

I’m happy to report I uploaded on time. Launched on time. And oh my goodness, WHINE AND RESCUE hit #1 in Romance in Kindle Worlds for several days this week, and is currently at #3!!  Can you believe that? I can't believe that, hence the screen shots I took on release day. :-)
Thank you to all who helped make that possible. I am truly humbled by your support. <3

In case you're interested, here's the cover and blurb to the novella I mostly wrote last week in California.

The brother of her sister’s fiancĂ© is hotter than a Texas summer and back in Dallas making Layla Pickett want things she can’t have. Him. It doesn’t stop her from fantasizing though, especially since he often frequents her coffee shop—Coffee Cats—a place she opened for the firefighters to destress with kittens and cats while grabbing a quick coffee and a bite to eat. Although, whenever he’s near a very different destresser comes to mind.
Noah Donovan knew being around his future sister-in-law’s sister was going to be tougher than leaving his buddies in his guard unit and fire house up in the Poconos of PA. He’s faced bullets, bombs, and fires with those men, but returning to Dallas is even more dangerous. No amount of turnout or guard gear can protect him from the attraction that sizzle between him and Layla. And when he visits her shop, it’s not the cats he wants to play with.
But even if she is willing to take a chance on a guy who is about to become a permanent extended part of her family, will the fact her godfather is his captain put a damper on their heat?
 All that rushing and scrambling and sacrificing is worth it, and I’ll keep reminding myself of that as I begin to scramble to write a novella and novel by Nov. 13th. But first, I think I need to sleep for two days.

Have a great October! Thanks for reading,