Saturday, August 17, 2019

Bookstore Romance Day by @SatinRussell #RomanceGems

Have you heard? There’s a new holiday for romance readers to celebrate. This August 17th will be the first annual Bookstore Romance Day.

What is Bookstore Romance Day, you ask? Well, I’m here to tell you!

According to their official website, Bookstore Romance Day is “designed to give independent bookstores an opportunity to celebrate Romance fiction—its books, readers, and writers—and to strengthen the relationships between bookstores and the Romance community.”

Isn’t that a worthy cause? As a self-published author, I have to say I’ve always been surprised by how many indie bookstores don’t even keep a romance section in their stores.

There are so many romance authors who are either hybrid or independently published that it seems like a natural relationship, especially since it provides opportunities for community outreach in the form of author signings and book release parties.

Apparently, quite a few others feel the same way. In fact, there are bookstores all across the country who are hosting official events. You can find an interactive map of locations here: https://bookstoreromanceday.org/participating-bookstores/

What’s even better is that there are quite a few Romance Gems authors who will be participating this year. If you’re in the area, I encourage you to check out any of these events.

1. Satin Russell at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, MA.
2. Peggy Jaeger at Toadstool Bookstore in Keene, NH
3. Kari Lemor at Bookery Bookstore in Manchester, NH
4. Elsa Kurt at That Book Store in Wethersfield, CT.
5. Lucinda Race at The Bookloft in Great Barrington, MA.





While you're here, don't forget to enter the Romance Gems August Rafflecopter Contest. The theme this month is the Dog Days of Summer.

Grand Prize: Winner's Choice—Pet-Themed Tee Shirt or $15.00 Amazon Gift Card

2nd Prize: Winner's Choice
Pet-Themed Gift or $10.00 Amazon Gift Card

3rd Prize: Winner's Choice
3rd Prize Option
Pet-Themed Gift or $5.00 Amazon Gift Card

4th Prize:
Bundle of 4 Ebooks

5th Prize:
Bundle of 3 Ebooks

6th Prize:
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Be sure to visit our Monthly Giveaway Page for all the details!

Friday, August 16, 2019

A Glass Of Wine Anyone? @ConstanceBretes #RomanceGems


I’m not a wine drinker, but I do enjoy festivities that have to do with wine. In Michigan, there are a lot of wineries, especially in the western part of the state. Every year, at the Ella Sharpe Museum in Jackson, Michigan, there is a wine and arts festival that features some of Michigan’s best wines, and artist exhibits. Visitors can sample wine and look at the creative artwork. It was at one of these festivals I discovered my ‘taste’ for wine tends to be of the fruity, sweet type instead of the dry type. My favorite is raspberry wine, with some dark chocolate. Oh YUM!




I also loved to visit St. Julian’s winery when it was on I-94 in Marshall, Michigan. They had great wine tasting opportunities there, as well as a great selection of wine at reasonable prices.
I haven’t been shopping in Alabama yet at the local wineries. However, I see there are plenty of places to go to and will definitely be visiting in the near future.

The idea came to me to write about wine today because my husband got a storage unit that had a nice wine rack to it. I had to claim it to put my wine in, and my chickens on it to guard the wine. I just love this wine rack. Looks pretty nifty, doesn’t it?




I have never used wine in my stories, but now as I think of it, all sorts of possibilities are popping into my head. Those ideas have prompted me to check out the local wineries here and start asking research questions for the next book I write! What a great ‘excuse’ to start wine testing again, huh?

Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win my book, Elkhorn In The Moonlight and other books that contains pets in their stories for the Dog Days of Summer monthly giveaway.




The search for stolen Sacred Arrows leads to much more.

Marcus Blackhawk is on a mission to locate the Sacred Arrows that were stolen from the Cheyenne Nation. When he learns that someone has seen the arrows he leaves immediately to track the person down and get more information.

Nicole Lancaster ekes out a living in a small town by helping her brother run a motel and working part-time in a restaurant. Her mundane life suddenly becomes more exciting when Marcus arrives in town asking about some arrows that she came upon years ago while hiking in the Elkhorn Mountains. The gorgeous man makes her heart beat fast, but she knows he’d never be interested in a Plain Jane like herself.

When Marcus offers Nicole a large sum of cash to lead him to the cave where she saw the arrows, she takes him up on the offer. After a three-day hiking trip through the mountains they locate the cave, but then the unthinkable happens, and they find themselves trapped inside. As they wait, hopeful they’ll be rescued, they give into the passion that’s been simmering between them.

Will help arrive in time to save them? And if so, can their night of passion ever be anything more? Marcus has no interest in an actual relationship, and Nicole wants the whole nine yards.


Dog Days Of Summer Giveaway

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Pitbulls, Photos, & Cover Art by @BonnieEdwards #RomanceGems



Long ago, covers were often painted portraits of real people in costumes against an appropriate backdrop for the romance. I had one of those covers. Artwork by Pino, a famous cover artist of the time graced my first book titled This Heart of Mine (Kensington Books). 

Then, stock photos came into use and I got one of the first sensational, groundbreaking ones on The Hard Stuff, another Kensington title. This cover burst onto the scene like a meteor. It was discussed all over the media; from CNN to Geraldo Rivera. "These aren't your grandmother's romance novels," was heard in each and every news story.

And then suddenly, I was self-publishing a book that had never been published anywhere before. A book of my heart. Figuring prominently was a pitbull named Razor who was a bit battered, but happy and loving. Naturally, he was based on my own dog who'd already crossed the rainbow bridge. I was able to scan a 35mm picture of him and have him used as a cover model. I've never loved working on a cover project more.

Amazon Exclusive
From the  Reader Letter:
If you’re an animal lover, you’ll recognize how much I loved my pit bull, Beau, whose image I got to use on my cover. He was young, fit, and always happy to play when that photo was taken. Time took away his glossy black patches and filled them in with gray, but his eyes never lost their adoring gaze. Too many of the bully breeds suffer at the hands of irresponsible people, but our Beau lived a joyful life...and never once growled or threatened another living being: human or canine. In fact he tolerated a rather dramatic cat who found ways to torture him, but that’s another story for another day.

Today only I have another book that's free on Amazon. This is a collection of three stories set at Christmas and feature a matchmaking mutt named Bella. You guessed it, she was based on another family dog, a poodle cross who passed away just before the last book was released. Bella was a dancer and a cuddler who gets mentioned in reviews. Sweet girl is playing with my Beau...

FREE TODAY

Don't forget to enter our Monthly Giveaway This time, it's winner's choice with a lovely bunch of prizes from which to choose. Have a look and happy reading!



p.s. If you decide to read either Love in a Pawn Shop or Love at Christmas, I'd love to hear your thoughts in a quick review. BookBub is the perfect place because it's so easy. You can follow me here: Bonnie on BookBub


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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Vintage Perfumes: The Fragrances that Defined Each Decade by Connie Vines

Nothing can transport you back in time like a fragrance. They say that your sense of smell is the most powerful and evocative sense, and it’s true: Emeraude reminds me of my mother, Quorum my husband, and Halston Z-14 reminded me of my teens and guys who bathed in a cologne—rather than indulging in a spritz or two.

“A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” – Coco Chanel

This may have been a dramatic overstatement.  However, when I was in the business of selling perfume, quotes such as these, gave women confidence when she entered a room! And Chanel No. 5 is one of the most popular fragrances of all time. A bottle of it is sold every 30 seconds (this includes me , too).

Coco Chanel also stated that women should wear perfume wherever they hoped to be kissed. Wise words indeed – please note that this does not mean ‘layered’ in perfume, as perfume counter girls armed with spray bottles will advise you.  No one should be able to smell your perfume, unless they’re that little bit closer than is polite, then it should be something delicious and intoxicating.

Whilst researching which perfumes were popular over the decades I was surprised how many of these I’ve actually owned. Over the years, I’ve tried Anais Anais, Shalimar, Opium, Poison, Red, and Patou 1000 before, I finally settled on Chanel No. 5. Of course, I selected one of the most expensive perfumes on the market, but I guess there is a good reason why it’s been a bestseller since it was launched in 1921!

Vintage Perfumes: The Fragrances that Defined Each Decade

It’s surprising how many of these perfumes are still best sellers even now, but then why would they go out of fashion?

Popular Perfumes in the 1920s.

Popular Perfumes in the 1940s.

L'Air du Temps by Nina Ricci (in a pretty glass bottle with a bottle stopper fashioned as two doves).

After the war lighter and fresher perfumes became more popular, one of which was the still-popular Miss Dior by Christian Dior in 1947

Popular Perfumes in the 1950s.

Femme de Rochas was a rich, sultry perfume aimed at the femme fatale created in 1944.

Arpege by Lanvin is a floral romantic perfume, created in 1927, but became particularly popular during the 1950s.

Max Factor’s Hypnotique and Primitif (as advertised by Jean Patchett above) were popular and an affordable perfume for the masses compared to the fragrances by the big fashion houses.

Soir de Paris by Bourjois was a popular fragrance amongst teenagers during the 1950s. It was discontinued in 1969, but relaunched in 1992

Popular Perfumes in the 1960s.

Oh! de London by Tuvache, YSL Rive Gauche was a popular 1960s scent.

Hubert de Givenchy created L’Interdit for Audrey Hepburn, and she wore the perfume for many years before it was released into the public in 1957. She featured in the adverts for L’Interdit throughout the 1960s.

Tuvache’s Oh! de London is a bright sparkling scent which perfectly captured the mood of the swinging sixties.

Guerlain introduced the heady oriental scent Chamade in 1969.

Popular Perfumes in the 1970s.

Charlie by Revlon and Diorella by Christian Dior, a perfume for the independent woman who has everything, were both very popular.

Opium by Yves Saint Laurent, launched in 1977, and was a heady, rich oriental evening perfume.

Christian Dior released the classic perfume Diorella, which combines citrus and musky notes.

Anais Anais by Cacharel, launched in 1978 and was an immediate hit (my brother gave this to me as a Christmas Gift).

Did I list one of your favorite perfumes?

Or, perhaps a fragrance you’ve never dared to try?


Perfuming is an art.  Indulge your senses, enjoy the fragrance—it’s mystical; it’s magical, it is the new you!    

How does Connie know so much about perfume and the art of perfuming?

While attending college, I was employed as a fragrance consultant at an ‘exclusive’ Perfumery.  I was trained by the House of Versailles to select a client’s fragrance by her/his pH level and fragrance family preferences. 

You will discover more about the art of perfumery in my next release An anthology titled 
"Gumbo Ya Ya" for Women who like Cajun Romance
                   
Happy Reading! 


Don't forget to enter our August Rafflecopter Giveaway. We are celebrating The Dog Days of Summer with great prizes as well as free books. Check out our Giveaway Tab above for complete information.
You can also reach the entry form by clicking HERE.



Even Zombies need love!  Meet Meredith's pet hamster-- Gertie.


Monday, August 12, 2019

Good Vibrations: Writing to Music by Laura Hunsaker

If you're on Twitter, you'll often see a tweet from an author about writing in a coffee shop. And just as often it'll spark a conversation about who needs absolute silence while writing, or who needs white noise, or who needs a public space. It got me to thinking that while I don't have the time to write in a cafe, I absolutely would. I can't write in the silence. I usually write at night when everyone is in bed, and I always have ear buds in and music in the background.

It took me a while to find my groove for Dark Past. I originally started by listening to Hamilton, but anyone who's ever heard that soundtrack knows you just can't listen without singing along, so as much as I loved it I had to try something else. I used the Braveheart soundtrack for my last Highlander book, but that didn't feel right for a Romantic Suspense.

Then I heard a Sam Hunt song on the radio one day, and I knew that was it. Sam Hunt's "Break Up In A Small Town" was the one.




My new release Dark Past is set in a small town in Northern California, and I'd love to share what was running in the background as I wrote!

So let's do a quick playlist of what I've been writing to (I linked each song to youtube because it was easiest).

Sam Hunt's "Break Up In A Small Town" was on repeat for me for a while.

And one scene is absolutely perfect for "Ex to See" also by Sam Hunt.

Brantley Gilbert's "Bottom's Up"

Luke Bryan and Karen Fairchild's duet "Home Alone Tonight"

Luke Bryan's "Someone Else Calling You Baby"

Sam Hunt "Make You Miss Me"

Some more Sam Hunt with "Take Your Time"

Carrie Underwood's "Heartbeat"

Luke Bryan "Strip It Down"

Fallout Boy "My Song Knows What You Did in the Dark"

Sam Hunt "Leave the Night On" I mean really it was almost every single Sam Hunt song lol

During the climax and action scenes I actually went for instrumental selections with the How to Train Your Dragon 2 soundtrack.

If you've read Dark Past, let me know what you think of the songs I listened to while writing it! Don't forget to enter the giveaway below!


Dark Past



Amazon  |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo   Google Play Books  |  Smashwords


The small town was supposed to be safe... 

Kate Landry is tired of running. Thinking she's safe, she settles in the small logging town of Chester, California to manage a cafe. She may be keeping a low profile, but she's hoping to return to a normal life.
When FBI agent Kyle Donovan visits to Chester to stay with a friend, and to recover from his latest case, he never expects to meet sexy barista Kate.

But someone is following Kate... 

Kyle worries he brought trouble to her door, while Kate worries her dark past is coming after her.
With danger lurking around every corner, her safe haven isn't as safe as she'd thought. Kate will finally have to trust someone enough to tell him her secrets. Secrets that may just get them killed...
 

GIVEAWAY:

Don't forget to enter our August Rafflecopter Giveaway. We are celebrating The Dog Days of Summer with great prizes as well as free books. Check out our Giveaway Tab above for complete information.
You can also reach the entry form by clicking HERE.




Sunday, August 11, 2019

THE GRASS ONLY LOOKS GREENER by @ Kathleen Lawless #romancegems


When I was first divorced, I used to look enviously at a married couple down the street.  My seven-year-old son was friends with their son.  The boys even had the same birthday.  He hung out at their house a lot that summer of divorce, looking, I guess, for a more stable family environment.  Sherry graciously referred to him as ‘my other son’.

On my lonely walks around the neighborhood, I’d see Sherry and her husband in their yard, or walking their dog and holding hands.  I'd think, “Lucky Sherry.  Nice husband.  Lovely home and family.  Companionship.  Support.”  Until the night she showed up at my door in tears, asking if I had any wine in the fridge.  A redundant question. 

Sherry wasn’t beaten or abused.  Just desperately unhappy.   And guess what?  She used to walk past my house thinking, “Lucky Kathleen.  She can come and go as she likes.  No one to answer to.  No tiptoeing around someone else’s mood.” 

I learned a lot that night, and I think Sherry did as well.  Don’t judge by appearances.  Someone else’s grass is not greener.  Their life is not better than yours.  Enjoy your own life.  Fit into your own shoes.  Celebrate you! 

I count myself very lucky to be able to write.  To be part of the Romance Gems.  And to have, at long last, found my soul mate.   May your life be equally blessed and filled with joy.  Your green grass is the best grass on the block.

p.s.  In case you’re wondering, Sherry eventually divorced her husband.  He hit on me.  I declined. 

Braydon meets his soul-mate in BRAYDON'S  BRIDE, released on the 24th of this month and available for pre-order right now, for only 99 cents.  



My Seven Brides couples are all amazing, all perfect for each other, but I confess to a tiny bias toward Henrietta and Braydon.  Their story was one of those rare magic moments in a writer’s life where the characters take over and I became simply a dicta-typist, getting their story down as quickly as possible.    Here’s a sample….

From BRAYDON’S BRIDE            copyright 2019 Kathleen Lawless

          Henrietta heaved a sigh of relief as Braydon sauntered back to the bride and groom’s head table.  “Don’t encourage him,” she hissed under her breath to her friend, Percy.
          Percy shook his elegant blond head.  “Darling, Henny.  Men like Braydon Mason don’t need encouragement.  They thrive on any sort of challenge.”
          Henrietta sniffed.  “As long as he doesn’t consider me one.  I was warned he fancies himself quite the ladies’ man.  He was raised in a brothel, of all places.”   
          Percy laughed out loud, causing a few of the guests to look their way, wondering if they had missed a good joke.  “I don’t know if I ought to envy the bloke or pity him.  Oops, don’t look now, but here he comes.”
          Sure enough, Henrietta looked up to see Braydon making a bee-line for their table. She rose before he reached them, scanning the room for the nearest exit, but only made it two steps before he caught her arm.  She glanced back, horrified to see he held her shawl and her reticule in one large, sun-browned hand. 
          “Forgetting something?” 
          There was no mistaking the teasing glint in his dark eyes.  She tossed her head proudly.  “Not at all.  I was just …”  She glanced around, seeking an excuse for her attempt to flee.  “I was just going for another glass of Champagne.”
          “Great idea.  I could use a beer.”  Before she knew it, her hand was tucked in the crook of his elbow and secured there with his free hand.  The warmth of his clasp sent unwanted tingles of awareness up her arm and beyond. 
          Henrietta felt the curious gaze from more than a few pairs of eyes following their progress, and much as she wanted to pull away and tell Braydon Mason to keep his filthy hands to himself, she reminded herself there was a time and a place for everything.  She was the newcomer here, and something of a curiosity to the locals. 
          “’Nother beer, Bray?”  the bartender greeted him. 
          “And Champagne for the lady, Mac.”
          “Coming right up.” 
          “Thank you,” she said, accepting the glass Braydon held her way, relieved when he released her to pick up their drinks from the bar.
          “My pleasure.”  The way he watched her over the rim of his glass implied his pleasures were vast and varied.  And that he wasn’t above sharing.   
          Two could play at that game! 
          She leaned against the bar, not taking her eyes from him.  “I hear the women in town are all wondering who will be the next Mason brother down the aisle, and with which lucky lady.” 
          “I’ve got four other brothers in the running.  I’ll sit that race out.” 
          “Don’t be saying that too loudly,” Henrietta said.  “I can’t bear the sight of female tears.”     
          “One more thing we have in common.”
          “I wasn’t aware we had anything in common, Mr. Mason.”
          “I told you.  Braydon.”  He reached forward and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear with an easily familiarity that annoyed her.  She went to bat his hand away, but he caught her hand in his and raised it to his mouth.  Before she could jerk free his tongue made the most delicious warm, hot swirls across her palm at the same time his thumb stroked the sensitive underside of her wrist. 
          Pulling her hand away was the furthest thing from her mind. 
          Instead, she dashed her glass of Champagne in his face.

 Get it here:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TM3RGYG

There is a free series prequel available to anyone who joins my V.I.P Reader's Group.
http://eepurl.com/bV0sb1

Keep in Touch:

Website:  www.kathleenlawless.com








Don't forget to enter our August Rafflecopter Giveaway. We are celebrating The Dog Days of Summer with great prizes as well as free books. Check out our Giveaway Tab above for complete information.
You can also reach the entry form by clicking HERE.



Saturday, August 10, 2019

No Pets Allowed by @SatinRussell #RomanceGems

On my husband’s fortieth birthday, we were out celebrating when he turned to me and said, “I want a bulldog. You have ten years to get used to the idea, but when I turn fifty, I’m going to get one.”

My heart dropped. This tends to shock a lot of people, but I do not like pets. Any type of pet. I do not want to own a dog, cat, bird, fish, hamster or any other popular type of pet. Owning an animal has never been on my ‘to-do’ list.

Who’s the smarter species? The person picking up excrement or the one being picked up after? As I consider myself part of a self-aware, fairly enlightened species, I do not feel inclined to pick up poo. The very concept chafes on a base, philosophical level.

As a kid, my dad always said the best type of dog was the neighbor’s dog. Dogs shed, pant, drool, bark, and chew on things. They require feeding, watering, and walks. They’re inconvenient to lingering over a second round of cocktails or making travel plans. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the excuse, “Sorry, I can’t. I have to go home and walk the dog.”

Mind you, none of these feelings were kept secret when I got married. My husband knew where I stood on the subject. However, he grew up with dogs and he misses having one around. And now, he’s renegotiating the terms.

In his bid to win me over, he’s taken to showing me videos of bulldogs—puppies falling over each other, wearing sunglasses, or even skateboarding. It’s always accompanied with a soundtrack of, “See? Isn’t this guy so cute? Look at him!”

And I try. I really try to see the allure. But they have such folded scrunched faces, stocky bodies, and snuffly noses. They fart and snore and – I’ve heard – are overall a very stubborn breed to train.

*Sigh* I have eight more years to come around to the idea. I guess you could say I’m in the dog days of dog-free days.

I'm interested in hearing what you think! Are you a dog lover? If so, why? Maybe you can help me change my mind about owning a pet. Or, are you like me? I'll be honest. I haven't met many people who feel the same way, but I know I can't be the only one.


Regardless of whether you love pets or not, don't forget to enter our August Romance Gems Rafflecopter contest. The topic is the Dog Days of Summer.

Grand Prize: Winner's Choice—Pet-Themed Tee Shirt or $15.00 Amazon Gift Card

2nd Prize: Winner's Choice
Pet-Themed Gift or $10.00 Amazon Gift Card

3rd Prize: Winner's Choice
3rd Prize Option
Pet-Themed Gift or $5.00 Amazon Gift Card

4th Prize:
Bundle of 4 Ebooks

5th Prize:
Bundle of 3 Ebooks

6th Prize:
Bundle of 3 Ebooks

Be sure to visit our Monthly Giveaway page for all the details.

Friday, August 9, 2019

I WILL TAKE IT WITH ME by Hannah Rowan #RomanceGems


Before the recent Romance Writers of America national conference in New York City, many authors were inundating Facebook with packing issues.  The conference officially lasted about four or five days, though some people came early or stayed late.  Still I was stunned by the lists of items people were reporting putting in their suitcases.

Some of the authors had shoes, shoes, and more shoes.  It sounded like they had entire suitcases just devoted to shoes.  And outfits for workshops, different outfits for meals, outfits for lounging, and really jazzy outfits for the awards ceremony.  I think several authors were lugging along more outfits than I own.

Now, when I’m travelling I admit I don’t get any sleep the night before because I’m obsessing over what’s in my suitcase.

I must have my teabags and my Splenda.  What if I get to a hotel—it’s been known to happen—and all they have is herbal tea or only one or two teabags in the room?  What a nightmare!

Since the invention of e-readers I no longer have to weigh down my luggage with books.  In the old days I had to make sure I had enough books to cover however much time I was going to be away plus several extra in case of emergency. This made for an extremely heavy suitcase even if I limited myself to paperbacks.

Now I also have my tablet loaded with e-books.  Lots and lots of e-books because I never know if I’ll be stranded somewhere and what if I run out of books?  And I lie in bed worrying about whether I remembered to pack my charger.

I toss a few paperbacks into my bag, just in case.

Then I have magazines in my carry-on if I’m flying.  It’s so satisfying to actually finish reading a magazine that’s been languishing on my coffee table for months and throwing it away, leaving room in my luggage for…well, probably for buying any interesting books I find while wandering the airport.

I generally fool myself into thinking that I’ll get some actual work done in my down time instead of ordering movies on the hotel TV.  So I must pack legal pads, notes, and possibly some research books I’ve been meaning to read more carefully.  And pens.  Many, many pens because what if I have an idea and I can’t write it down because my pen is out of ink?

My laptop goes into my carry-on bag as well, leaving very little room for anything else, but I do manage to squeeze in a mouse, and a back-up mouse, and batteries, and again, the charger.  Because I hate trying to respond to email on my tablet or my phone, and I kid myself into thinking I’ll use those notes and research books to do some actual writing.

Somewhere in there I might find space for a second pair of shoes, two or three t-shirts and a pair of jeans.  But only after I make sure I’ve got all the important stuff covered.



Don't forget to enter our August Rafflecopter Giveaway! We are celebrating The Dog Days of Summer with great prizes as well as free books. Check out our Giveaway Reach the entry form by clicking HERE.


Thursday, August 8, 2019

This One's For the Dogs by @AuthorElsaKurt #RomanceGems

Hello to the dog days of summer! 

I know many people are tired of summer by now, but it's my favorite season, so August can go as slowly as it wants in my book. In fact, if you're inclined to torture me for some reason, all you need to do is post a pumpkin spice anything meme on my Facebook page. Please don't, though. I'll cry.



When I heard about our theme, the Dog Days of Summer, the double meaning got me thinking of all the summers over my lifetime with our various dogs. (Not to mention the cats, fish, gerbils, rabbits, and hamsters.) Growing up around animals gave me a natural affinity and affection for them, so much so I can't imagine life without our furry brood. These days we have three Shih Tzus, the newest of which just came home on Monday and weighs a whopping 2.5 lbs. Her name is Lola (sing it, come on, I know you want to!)

My love for all things great and small led me to always expect that I'd grow up to work with animals in some capacity... but there were a few other career ideas, too. In no particular order, I wanted to be:


1) A movie star
2) Writer
3) Artist
4) Singer
5) Veterinarian
6) A person who lived on the beach
7) Dr. Doolittle
8) Grizzly Adams' wife
9) Zookeeper, but not for the monkeys (I didn't like monkeys & still don't).
10) Wonder Woman



Let's just say one out of ten, folks. One out of ten. Although, in about four years, number six will sort of come to fruition. In fairness, I suppose a few of my great ideas were a bit... unrealistic. I can't sing. Too shy to act. Moderate art skills at best. Wonder Woman, no elaboration needed. Same for Dr. Doolittle and Grizzly Adams' wife.

As for the more possible career aspirations, I took myself out of the running because - instead of college - I married, had children, and was a stay-at-home mom. Sure, I could've gone back to school, but that wasn't the choice I made. Bye-bye zookeeper job and veterinarian. All for the best, though. I can't even squash a bug, so there's no way I could ever euthanize an animal.

That leaves writer. For a very long time, I thought I'd edged myself out of that role, too. Then I decided it didn't. Once I gave myself permission to be more than I thought I was allowed to be, I discovered I could be all the things on that list, too. I could write myself - or a fictional version of myself - into those roles any time I want. Oh, and of course they always have animals!

If I had to pick one story out of them all though, A Billion Reasons is where I gave myself the most freedom to indulge in every young girl fantasy. Ironically, it's a short story in an anthology called Billionaire's Club. In it, my main male character, Griffin Pierce, is an old-money billionaire with a sprawling mansion in upstate New York. His philanthropist wife bred Irish wolfhounds and donated the money to charity, and when she passed away, Griff honored her legacy by continuing her operation. When he realizes he needs help, he hires the enigmatic dog behaviorist Jenna Maxwell

The story, though short, is complex, romantic, and sexy, and as a bonus, it features six Irish wolfhounds with unique names: John Wayne, Cary Grant, William Powell, Jimmy Stewart, Myrna Loy, and Kate Hepburn. Basically, I got to fulfill a bunch of  "I wish's" in one shot. It has a May-December romance (my favorite) dogs (lots of dogs) a billionaire (because why not?) and a job I'd totally dig (dog behaviorist).

Here's an excerpt from A Billion Reasons:

Jenna slung her battered duffel bag over her tan, too thin shoulder and hopped off the last gritty step of the Greyhound bus. Her dark brown cowboy boots kicked up a cloud of burnt sienna dust. She grinned and shook her head. That sure isn’t city dust. She slid a black hair elastic off her wrist and whipped her long, pale-blonde hair into a quick ponytail as the bus door closed with a hydraulic hiss and lumbered away. 
Her eyes swept over the acres of green grass, manicured shrubs, the horses grazing in the distance, and a lake peeking out from between the trunks of tall evergreen trees. All under an endless blue sky, unobstructed by skyscrapers. Jenna took a deep breath, letting the clean air fill her lungs. Then she promptly began coughing. Apparently, her city lungs were rejecting the fresh country air.
Someone was supposed to meet her at the bus stop—a groundskeeper or some other hired help—but she was alone by the winding dirt road.  Jenna sighed and squinted at the speck of white in the distance. Averly Estates. Her home for the next twelve weeks... unless she got caught out as a fraud.  If that happened, then... No, don't think about that. It'll be fine. Dog Behaviorist. Please, how hard could it be?
Anyhow, she hadn't completely lied on the application. Okay, dog walker might be a bit of a stretch from dog behaviorist. But with a little help from the internet and a fancy looking—albeit fake—certification award, Jenna thought she could pull it off. 
She cupped her hand against her forehead and took another sweeping look across the estate.  A tree-lined, pea-gravel road branched off from the main road and wound a meandering path to the great house. She guessed it to be maybe a mile or so away. Nothing for a professional dog walker. I mean dog behaviorist. 
Of course, she’d not factored in the blazing ninety-degree heat and one hundred percent humidity. Or the lack of skyscrapers for shade. Crap. Jenna dropped her duffel on a small patch of grass by the road, took a quick glance around, and peeled off her semi-sheer blouse. Then she rummaged around inside her bag for a tank top. Her arms were through the holes, and her head bowed when a deep voice called out.
“There are facilities at the main house, you know.”
Jenna froze, then hurriedly pull the top on. “What the hell—” In her haste, she yanked the elastic halfway out of her hair and had pulled the tank top on backward. She straightened, squinted around, and found the source of the voice. It was a ruggedly handsome, older man. Jenna guessed him to be in his mid-forties. Or a well-aged fifty. Jenna eyed him coolly. Damn, even the help dressed nicely here. Shit. Jenna’s worn-out duffel held a meager array of shorts, tank tops, bathing suit, vintage tees, one dress, and her undergarments. Her purse her all her otherworldly goods—toothbrush and toothpaste, mascara, one tube of plum spice lipstick, and seventy-seven dollars. Oh, and half a pack of cinnamon gum.
“You always sneak up on people like that?”
“No, Miss…”
“Maxwell. Jenna Maxwell,” she filled in. It was actually Jenna Caldwell, but he didn’t need to know that. The less anyone around here knew about Jenna, the better.
“Yes, of course. Jenna Maxwell, professional dog behaviorist from New York City. I apologize. I was resting against that tree over there and, well, I fell asleep,” he said with a shrug. He glanced down at her bag. “Is that all you brought?”
“All I need.” She added her own shrug and hoped it looked nonchalant rather than embarrassed.
The man stared at Jenna for a long moment. A faint smile pulled at the corners of his mouth. “Right, then. Follow me, please. You don’t mind if we walk, I hope?”
“No, no, not at all.” Hundred-degree temps, four-hour bus ride… a mile-long walk sounds peachy. Jenna suddenly realized that he never introduced himself. “And you are…”
“You can call me Griff.” He said nothing more.
Griff. Okay, I guess that’s all I’m getting.
 Jenna sighed. This guy wasn’t the first uppity staff-of-rich-people she’d ever dealt with. Mrs. Lannister in her fancy penthouse had a secretary named Johan who treated Jenna like a peasant. All while ironing Mrs. Lannister’s underwear, no less. Despite Johan and his snooty attitude, things had been going well for Jenna. The anonymity of the bustling, never sleeping city had caused her to lower her guard enough to make acquaintances, if not friends. Ophelia from the bodega set aside the best mangos for her. Abram at the coffee shop remembered just how she liked her coffee. Though she always kept her head down and baseball cap on while walking the dogs, she began to occasionally smile and wave to the regular faces she saw. She should’ve known better. Familiarity breeds attachment. Attachment attracts questions, and questions attract trouble. Until she’d let her guard down, she’d weaved through New York like a ghost, unnoticeable in the sea of faces. Fake identifications, burner phones, library internet, and landlords who like cash. She’d lulled herself into believing that the city was perfect for anonymity—it was for nearly a year—but then she must’ve gotten sloppy.
Out of the blue, a small white envelope arrived at the Lannister’s penthouse addressed to Jenna. Johan handed it to her with a sniff and a reminder that ‘Mrs. Lannister’s penthouse was not her personal post office.’ With shaking hands, Jenna tore open the seal and read the note.

Hello, dearheart.
Time to come home.
-yours always, Me

He’d found her again. Like a relentless wolf tracking a scent, or a feline stalking its prey, he was edging closer. Worst of all—he wanted her to know he was coming for her. Jenna felt a chill run down her back and shot a surreptitious glance at Griff to see if he’d noticed. He did. She spoke quickly before he could question her.
“So, Griff. What’s the boss ladylike?”
“Theboss lady?” Griff turned slightly, his brows drawn together.
“Yeah, owner of this grand upstate estate. Ha—that’s funny. Upstate estate, sounds funny, right?” Jenna laughed alone. Griff raised an eyebrow at her.
Okay, note to self. Really good-looking, no sense of humor.
“What, may I ask, makes you believe the… boss is she?”
Jenna had a smart retort ready, then realized that all along she’d just assumed it was a woman. She halted. From her purse, she pulled the printout of their last email. It stated confirmation of her employment, details of the job, and the address. Signed: G. Pierce.

If I piqued your interest, you'll be happy to know this anthology featuring five intertwining stories is only .99. You can pick it up on Amazon HERE. Thanks for stopping by & enjoy these lazy hazy days of summer (and stay cool!).






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