Friday, April 30, 2021

Showers of Riches by Liz Flaherty #RomanceGems


A week or so ago, when I said, Sure, I'll write a post for a vacant day, I threw that title up there at the top to save my place. "Showers of Riches." Because, you know, showers for April. Riches because...well, because no one had used it yet. And because, when I went to adding them up, April does indeed offer an abundance of them.

Both of my parents were born in April, as were my oldest son and two of my grandkids. That same son married my beloved daughter-in-law 31 years ago on the 30th. I am grateful beyond measure.

But this is a writing blog, isn't it, and my writing life hasn't been quite so enriched in past years. While I'm happy for those who've had great years and who are embracing the changes I can't quite keep up with--actually, there's no "quite" to it; I can't keep up, period--I've spend most of the past several years wondering about my place in publishing. In the inimitable words of Clash, "Should I stay or should I go?"

Of course, it was never a real tossup. I'm staying. Probably until they withdraw the mouse from my cold, dead hand. But I've talked about quitting so much my friend Nan rolls her eyes and my husband completely ignores me. (He does that on other occasions, too, but we're not talking about that today.)

So I did what writers always do. I asked my friends what it was like for them.


Kari Lemor said, "Every time I look at my dashboard and see days and weeks of no sales, I think 'what's the point?' But then the stories in my head nag at me to write them. I'm not really given a choice."

Well, yes, there is that...and Nancy Fraser agreed. "Like Kari, the stories that pop into my head keep me going. I'd hate think how crowded it would get in there if I didn't get them out."

Marcia King-Gamble said, "After writing as many as five books a year, and managing a demanding full time job, traditional publishing underwent a change.  Publishers began buying  a different kind of book. Sex really does sell. My income took a hit, but I couldn't not write. There's still a market out there for readers who want good stories with a slower sensual build."

From Bonnie Edwards: "I'm not sure what my mind would be full of. Without writing I envision a huge black void, like the deepest reaches of space...infinite, cold and alone. What would I fill that with if not characters and stories?

The whole idea is terrifying."

M. J. Schiller said, "I've never thought of quitting, but scaling back on marketing, yes! I have a few more books I want to get out and aggressively market and the others I will take more time with and make it more of a hobby than a job."

From Jan Scarbrough: "Writing is part of my identity. When I was getting chemo last summer, I couldn’t volunteer, I couldn’t go horseback riding, but I could write."

Kara Watson says: "I keep publishing so I can make my characters real. If they stayed in a manuscript on a laptop, no one else would ever get to know them. And that's so sad to me."

From Amie Denman: "Writing makes me happy, and I need a place for all the stories in my head!"

For myself, once I asked this question, I thought over and over about how many 1000s of words I've written since the beginning of the pandemic. Did it make my voice different? Uh-huh. But it gave writers an endless and bottomless place to put our frustration. It reminded us every day that even masked and distanced, we could still laugh, love, and work. 

Quit? Oh, no. Not going to happen.

Thanks to everyone for their answers to my "help me with this!" question. Both the variety and the sameness in the answers reflect back to the blog title, don't they? Whether we are traditionally, indie, or hybrid published, our voices and the methods in which we use them are indeed showers of riches. 

Of course, that prose is a little purple: showers of riches, indeed. Hmph. Obviously, I need an editor. 






Thursday, April 29, 2021

It's Raining Reviews by Nora LeDuc #RomanceGems




This month my April Showers brought me flowers and snow. What do I really want the rain to bring? As an author, I thought hard about this question and came up with an answer. I'd love to be showered with wonderful REVIEWS! Yes, forgive me if I'm wrong, but they seem to be every writer's dream. (Besides a hero to die for.)


So I wondered, how long have these mini critiques of our works been around? A quick Google search revealed a 1846 comment by Edgar Allen Poe that answered my question. Mr. Poe believed reviews (and the publishing industry)"were a sham and riddled with nepotism." But I'll jump ahead a few centuries to my first memories of a magazine containing tons of romance reviews. Can you guess the name? Yes, I mean the Romantic Times (RT). 

 Created in 1981 by Kathryn Falk, the RT was originally a newsletter. Ms. Falk's first edition took nine months to create and was distributed to 3,000 subscribers. The premier edition contained a Book Excerpt from China Bride, an Author Interview with Janet Dailey, New Titles for Summer Reading, and a piece titled “What your favorite Novels Reveal about your Personality.” I loved the RT. I would read it cover to cover, searching for those great stories, reading about authors I knew only by their pen names, and pages of recommendations listed by category. And I was not alone. 

Thanks Unsplash

By 2004, the magazine reportedly had 50,000 subscribers and had built a reputation as “Romance's premiere genre magazine.” (A good friend of mine collected each copy and stored them in her bookcase.) I would go to the New England RWA Chapter meetings where a woman from a bookstore always dropped by and sold copies to anyone who hadn’t bought theirs yet. I knew an author who even secretly reviewed for them–– of course under another name. As times changed, the RT did too. In later years the magazine went digital until it ended in 2018 with Kathryn Falk’s retirement. I still miss it.


Today we have many review book blogs, tours, and more. But thanks to Ms. Falk’s imagination, marketing skills, and the authors who wrote the stories, we enjoyed a shower of reviews between the glossy covers to help us daydream our forever happy endings. 

And today, I’m reminding you. Don’t forget to shower your favorite authors with those dream comments. They’ll be forever thankful. 

  Take care my friends.

  🌷Nora LeDuc ❤️ 

DON'T FORGET~

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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Bring Me Flowers by @KaraONealAuthor #RomanceGems

Our theme for the month is April Showers, and I adore the rain. Especially early in the morning on days when I can sleep in. That's a blessing I always treasure. But showers, storms, whatever you want to call them, bring much more and they are some of my favorite things...

Flowers.

I don't care what kind they are, or what color, or how cheap, I love them ALL. And as long as my husband gets me flowers on Valentine's Day, I couldn't care less what else he gives me. There's something about them that just makes my heart sigh.

My favorites are Texas wildflowers. God bless my state and what happens in the Spring, because nothing else equals it. Not in my opinion anyway. My absolute favorite flower is the Bluebonnet.

Growing up, we'd go on "bluebonnet hunts". We'd search for the best fields that showcased all of the beauty God had to offer and got to tour Texas at the same time.

One of the coolest places to visit is the Antique Rose Emporium. They've been a nursery for over a hundred years and have centuries old roses. I can wander the Emporium's meandering paths for hours, and I'm not even a gardener. (My mother is and if I could, I'd show you her backyard, but the freeze took it.)

And all of this gorgeousness inspired the talent of the heroine in the book I'm releasing on May 7th. It's available for pre-order right now...




MR. PIERCE'S HERO  

Corinne Taylor has a secret. And it must be protected. If her mother discovers what Corinne has been hiding, Hell will not describe the place in which she will find herself. Beulah, Corinne’s mother, has proclaimed herself “queen” of Pike’s Run, and no one crosses her, especially not her daughter.

And while Corinne does what she can to guard her secret, her best efforts aren’t enough. War comes to Pike’s Run and the Taylor household when Beulah learns of her daughter’s betrayal. The battle that ensues forces Corinne to seek help from a new arrival.

Jonathan Pierce, a successful lawyer, has come to Pike’s Run looking to find solace from his past. When Corinne asks for his support, her innocence and bravery call to the needs within his broken spirit, and he can’t turn her down. She is capturing his heart, but if she ever learns of his cowardice, she will reject him, killing any hope he has left of finding love.

Excerpt

Once Jonathan had crossed the bridge over the stream, he caught sight of a figure walking down the road, heading toward him. His senses came alive when he recognized Miss Taylor. He gritted his teeth and tried to foster indifference to her appearance.

She faltered in her steps when she saw him, but then picked up the pace. “Mr. Pierce,” she hailed.

Hadn’t he given her permission to call him Jonathan? He stopped in the road near a copse of maple and sprawling live oak and waited for her to reach him. Perhaps she didn’t remember that he’d asked her to use his given name. Until she did, he wouldn’t use hers. It was too intimate, and by the way his body reacted to her swaying hips and smooth complexion, he needed distance. “Afternoon, Miss Taylor.”

She halted five feet from him. Her gaze searched his face, scanned the area around them.

She looked confused. Or uncertain.

“Is something wrong?”

He saw her swallow, and the need to shield her and knock the teeth out of the person who dared upset her came over him. How anyone could torture this lovely creature escaped his reason. He took a deep breath and tried to rein in his fury on her behalf. Her fight was not his.

“My m-mother intends to use my garden tomorrow.” Her eyes went wide with fear.

Her gaze pleaded with him, but what did she want him to say? He’d already advised her on what to do. “I’m sorry.” He didn’t know how else to respond.

“I have to tell her she has no right to,” she rasped.

He inclined his head once, easily detecting the tremble in her, and he wanted to slay her dragon for her. He would have no problem telling the woman any interference would be considered trespassing, but…this was not his war.

Miss Taylor’s shoulders slumped, and she pressed two fingers into each temple. “I can do it. I can stand up to her.”

The words sounded like a litany she repeated to herself. They weren’t an assurance for him. “Of course, you can,” he offered, but he really had no idea of the stuff of which she was made.

She let out a slow breath then drew in another deeply. After a few moments, she lowered her arms to her sides and lifted her chin. “Would you like to see it?”

“Your roses?”

She nodded.

“Of course.”

Aware she gave him an opportunity only a handful of others had experienced, he didn’t dare turn down her offer. He should, though. In fact, he should be going on his way, putting distance between himself and a woman who tugged at his basic needs and protective side.

But instead of heeding good sense, he followed her. She headed into the lush trees to his right, and he lifted his brow in surprise. He’d stopped near the path that hid her handiwork? He hadn’t even realized it. Stunned with how well disguised the trail was, he checked his surroundings in case he needed to get his bearings on the walk back.

He had to duck under sprawling branches, and if he hadn’t had the owner leading him, he would have missed the footpath buried under fern and ivy. They wound among the trees, the forest thick enough that they had to walk single file.

When hedgerows appeared, she unlatched a gate and let him in. He hadn’t gone two steps before amazement struck him. He stopped in his tracks and stared at the beauty.

Was it acceptable to even breathe amidst this labor of love? The blooms were open to the five o’clock sun streaming in. The bright orange light danced off of shades of purple, pink and red. Yellow dazzled the eye, along with peach and white.

He felt a nudge at his elbow. He looked down, and the smile directed up at him put the flowers to shame.

“You can walk around. You won’t hurt them.”

The teasing glint in her eyes made his mouth tip up at the corners. He couldn’t stop himself from glancing at the luscious curve of her lips. Warmth spread through him, but he turned away, avoiding the lust curling inside. Instead of a reply, he went down the stone walk, allowing the glory of her handiwork to delight his eye.

He paused at different varieties, noting the shape of the petals or how they lay against each other. Their fragrance wafted around him, making him want to sit and soak up their loveliness. Which was odd.

When he reached the center, he turned and found her several paces behind him. She hadn’t said a word as he’d explored. He could only describe the expression on her face as one of pleasure. She seemed glad she’d shared her haven with him.

“You did all this?”

She nodded, a blush staining her cheeks.

Even standing amidst the evidence of her talent, modesty enveloped her. He couldn’t help the slight smile that formed. “It’s magnificent.”

“Thank you.”

Should he venture into her world and help her? If he did, he feared the safety of his heart. Still, he couldn’t hold back. “And you can’t let your mother do…whatever it is you suspect she will do.”

His words made dismay flit across her lovely features. He wished he could recall what he’d said, but it was the truth.

“I know,” she replied, her voice hoarse with feeling. 

BUY MR. PIERCE'S HERO

And you can enjoy the first eleven books in the series, as well! Visit Pike's Run, Texas, and you'll get a bit of Little House, a dash of Anne of Green Gables and tons of romance!

TEXAS BRIDES OF PIKE'S RUN SERIES



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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

April Showers as art, by Peggy Jaeger


Weird title for a post, right?
Hee hee.

This month's theme, APRIL SHOWERS, hits home for me in a big way.

First, I love the rain. In any form. The more torrential the rain, the louder the thunder, the blacker the sky gets, and the brighter the lightning, and I am a happy camper. I know...weird. Maybe I was a meteorologist in a former life. Who knows. But rain, simply, does it for me.

I adore cozying up in one of my big comfy chairs during a rainy day with a book, a pot of tea, and cookies. Lots of cookies. With a blanket I've crocheted over my lap, and sometimes even a fire roaring if I can convince hubby to make one, and I am hard-pressed to find a more relaxing, joyful way to spend a few hours.

So what's this all got to do with the title of my post? Let me 'esplain.

Several years ago, I wrote the fourth book in my MacQuire Women series, THE VOICES OF ANGELS. The book was a prequel to my first romance, SKATER'S WALTZ. When it came time to let the art designer at Wild Rose Press know what I was looking for in a book cover, I had something tangible to show her for the first time. I'd once spied a very famous photograph in an art museum devoted to photography that I fell in love with. I always remembered the picture because I knew, someday, I was going to write a story based on it. And I did, hee hee!

I sent the cover artist a copy of the picture and told her the theme and vibe I was going for was something like it:



This is the book cover she came up with:






Isn't that divine!!!

It's exactly what I wanted. We didn't even tweak it. The moment she sent it to me I said YES! That's the one.

On a funny side note, my friend Jill found a mug for me right after the book was published and sent it to me because it reminded her of the cover:






There's an important storyline in THE VOICES OF ANGELS concerning severe Spring storms. My heroine, Carly Lennox, is terrified of storms due to a child trauma concerning one. When she and my hero Mike Woodard, are engulfed in a severe storm on the way to her farm, all Mike wants to do is comfort Carly. He comes to the realization that he wants to comfort her for the rest of his life, if she'll only let him into her heart.

I detailed the storm and Carly's reaction to it over several pages. Unlike me, she is paralyzed with fear when the rain and thunder start. And, luckily, she lets Mike soothe away her fear.

So that's where the title for the blog came from. Art karma led to cover karma that led to a tea cup karma! Heehee

If you're interested in learning about the VOICES OF ANGELS and all the MacQuire Women books, check out my Amazon page. Here's a little about TVOA:
Love is the last thing Carly Lennox is looking for when she sets out on her new book tour. The independent, widowed author is content with a life spent writing and in raising her daughter. When newscaster Mike Woodard suggests they work on a television magazine profile based on her book, Carly’s thrilled, but guarded. His obvious desire to turn their relationship into something other than just a working one is more than she bargained for.

Mike Woodard is ambitious, and not only in his chosen profession. He wants Carly, maybe more than he’s ever wanted anything or anyone else. As he tells her, he’s a patient man. But the more they’re together, Mike realizes it isn’t simply desire beating within him. Carly Lennox is the missing piece in his life. Getting her to accept it-and him-may just be the toughest assignment he’s ever taken on.


Looking for me? Here I am: Blog me // Tweet me // Buy my books // Friend me // Pin me // read me // pitcure me // watch me // review me

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Until next time, Kids ~ enjoy your month ~Peg



Monday, April 26, 2021

Coffee and Conversation with the #RomanceGems

It's time for Coffee and Conversation with the Romance Gems! So, grab a cup of your favorite beverage and join us for some fun. This month's topic is: Weather In Your Books 

We’ve all heard the phrase…April showers bring May flowers. But what do they bring to your books? 

Weather is a great tool authors can use to set a mood or set things into motion. Snowed in by a blizzard or frightened by a thunderstorm? Maybe a twister or Nor’easter slams through your fictitious town? A kiss in the rain, or a downed plane? 

Share one of your books where weather plays a major roll. Let’s talk!


“Kentucky Rain. Elvis Presley sang the song. I used it as a title for a romance novel, and in the opening and closing scenes. “Scott moved toward her and took her into his arms. There, in the crowded asphalt parking lot at dinner time, he hugged her and kissed her. A car drove by and honked. They ignored it. They ignored the raindrops that began to fall.” ~ Jan Scarbrough


“Weather affects me while I'm writing--a rainy or snowy day will make the word count soar--but I don't think I use it that much IN writing. One exception was in The Happiness Pact, when a tornado ripped through the Lake Miniagua community, destroying the heroine's business. Living where tornadoes are "popular," the description was easy, but the emotions were real enough to make it uncomfortable to write. I loved it!” ~ Liz Flaherty


A moment from Wild Card Undercover – book 1 in the Love on the Line series (currently only 99c)

The rain fell heavy, matching Meg’s mood. She watched the empty beach from the bedroom balcony, tears intermingling with the mist. Empty. She understood that. Felt it deep inside today. The worst part, it was her day off. She couldn’t even distract herself with work.

Leaning on the railing, she didn’t care that she got even wetter. Nothing could penetrate the blanket of sorrow covering her. It had seeped inside her skin, chilling her to the bone. Why had she allowed herself to get into this fix? Couldn’t she have been happy with her life the way it was? ~ Kari Lemor


“Jax had to get Suzanne to a safe place. He had to get to his ship because he was scheduled to move the ship within the hour. He brought her to his ship intending to take her out to the Bering Sea with him to keep her safe while he and his crew are crab fishing. What Jax didn’t know was that Suzanne was deathly afraid of water, and she suffered from sea sickness. It is almost always stormy in the Bering Sea. Storms and winds make the sea very dangerous, and the waves rock the boat back and forth, Does she get out alive?” ~  Constance Bretes


“Weather can be a good tool in a story. In my recent release, Breathe, Max and Tessa are driving home from an important meeting when a snowstorm flares up. It causes treacherous driving conditions and ice puts their SUV into the guard rails.

“They’re both injured but sadly Tessa’s injuries are more severe. As they’re trapped in the car and she’s unconscious, Max realizes Tessa means more to him than just a boss or friend. Putting them in this situation gave Max an opportunity to begin to leave behind his lone wolf demeanor and a chance for personal growth.” ~ Lucinda Race


“Emma Prescott, the heroine in my very first book, buys her own land and puts in a cotton crop. She does it to prove to the man she loves that she's not the spoiled heiress he remembers. It also proves to him that she really did run away from her murderous father. But just when her cotton plants have blossomed, a tornado rips through the town and destroys her crop. She has to start over. But nothing, and I do mean nothing, can keep Emma Prescott down. She is one of my favorite heroines. And her book is Welcome Home.” ~ Kara O'Neal

“Although the weather doesn't play a major role in the book, I love how it adds to the scene in ROCKED BY GRACE when Zane comes to apologize to Grace for being a jerk. It's raining and a streak of lightning illuminates the bedraggled Zane on Grace's fire escape, complete with his sad, mangled bouquet of flowers. It provides a little dramatic effect for his entrance and also makes him sympathetic enough for Grace to take him in and hear him out.” ~M.J. Schiller


“I adore rainstorms. The louder the thunder, the brighter the lightning, the darker and murkier the sky, and I’m a happy girl. Carly Lennox, in THE VOICES OF ANGELS, definitely does not like storms. Of any kind. The childhood trauma of her father's death during a storm still haunts her to this day.

“When she and Mike Woodard are caught in a violent spring storm, Mike comes to realize he’d do anything to comfort Carly. The storm raging outside is nothing compared to the one raging within him, all due to the lovely mystery writer.” ~ Peggy Jaeger

“I wrote TABOO while on vacation in Jamaica, where every afternoon at 2 pm a warm, sensual light rain would fall for about 15 minutes.  I never even left my lounger, just made sure my hand-written manuscript was safely under cover.   Is there any doubt I included a highly sensual scene of my hero (who’d been purchased at a bachelor auction) and my heroine (a repressed widow) making love outdoors while a warm, spring rain fell?  I couldn’t help myself.” ~ KathleenLawless

“Weather. You either love or hate it. I was never a fan of the stranded-by-weather trope but assumed I'd eventually write one. Because I live in the North Atlantic, I knew it had to be snow. And, of course, trapped in a cabin! Oh, and with a man in a kilt.” ~ Nancy Fraser

“I consider the weather another character. For instance, a thunderstorm can be the foreboding of trouble to come, as it is MAIL ORDER BLAZE. The main characters know there’re killers searching for them and expect to be attacked—but when? Lightning and thunder stage foreboding that becomes reality for the family. Over the course of my writing career, I believe I’ve used every type of weather to further a story’s impact. After I submitted one manuscript to a contest, the editor/judge asked me if the weather event in my story (a flood) was accurate. She said, if so, why would anyone live in such a place? I tactfully failed to remind her she lived where hurricanes came ashore.” ~ Caroline Clemmons   

“I do love weather—both in my books and in real life—and I feel it can truly amp up the intensity and/or impact of a scene. In my first book, Haunting Highland House – A Time Traveler’s Journey, Samantha Merrill (a reluctant caretaker of a remote estate) experiences a powerful Nor’easter while alone in a Victorian-era mansion. The old house has stood the test of time and weathered many rough storms. But a secret is revealed to Sam that night, as she huddles in candlelight. One that changes everything.” ~ Kathryn Hills


Okay, it's your turn to join the conversation! Add your comments below or send via email through the "contact us” link on the bottom of the left sidebar. You can also make suggestions on what you'd like to discuss here in the future.

 Thanks for joining us!

 ~ The Romance Gems ~

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Fortuitous Library Finds by Cheryl Bolen

Now that it’s been a while since I got my second vaccine dose, we’re back to traveling domestically. We’ve just returned from a trip to New Orleans, a city we visit about three times a year. Sadly, the city’s famed restaurants and music venues have been hard hit by the pandemic, and French Quarter crowds were terribly thin. Fortunately for me, though, I found some real treasures at the library sale at the Milton H. Latter Memorial Library, located in the city’s beautiful Garden District.

Being an author of historical romances, I buy a lot of research books, most of them through internet searches and from sellers all over the world. It’s a lucky day when I physically happen on a book pertinent to my English Regency era.

Imagine my delight when I looked up on a top shelf and found this ten-pound behemoth titled Coaching Day of England. Originally published in 1964, it’s full of wonderful illustrations pertaining to the old coaching inns and roads and conveyances as well as informative text. Price? A mere $10. When deciding where to put it when I got home, my husband took a scene from Seinfeld and said I might want to consider Kramer’s suggestion to have a coffee table made from a book!

This isn’t the first fortuitous find I’ve gotten from great library sales. I belong to several Friends of the Library groups in my state and neighboring Louisiana, and one year at the New Braunfels (Texas) Friends of the Library annual sale I found one of the last editions ever printed by England’s Debrett’s Peerage. It, too, is a behemoth. It’s four inches thick. These used to sell for hundreds of pounds but have now gone digital. My price? Fifteen dollars.

In addition to writing more than three dozen novels set in Regency England, I have also been writing non-fiction articles on Regency England for more than 20 years; so, I do a lot of research about real people who lived in the Regency.

One of my greatest purchases at a library sale was a complete set of The Dictionary of National Biography—published by the Oxford University Press about notable Brits. Dictionary hardly describes these entries which are really biographies. It’s now available only through digital subscription. My set sits proudly in my home library—all 22 volumes! My cost? Two bucks a book for a total of $44.

Going to these library sales in two states gives us a good excuse for little get-aways we so enjoy. Then I come home and get back to work on the next book. What’s my next book? Countess by Christmas, a House of Haverstock novella, is a May 17 release that’s now on preorder everywhere. You can find me on the internet at these places:

Friday, April 23, 2021

SOME LIKE IT WET by M.J. Schiller #RomanceGems

First off, you may have noticed that I'm not Kathryn Hills. We did a switcheroo, but Kathryn will be back next month, don't worry.

When I heard the theme this month was April Showers Bring May Flowers, as a romance writer my mind went to a place that normal people’s minds wouldn’t have. Shower scenes! But, since we don’t have a warning on this blog, I need to keep it clean (which I think is funny because, ya know, with the soap and all…). But which shower scene should I share?

 

In thinking through my options, I realized something. I like my characters wet! Whether it’s Killian and Bridey (SIN WORTH THE PENANCE) in a shower on the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland, or Sam and Kyle (TO HELL IN A COACH BAG) doing the same in Denver. I’ve got Josh and Cassie (ROCK ME, GENTLY) falling into a pool in Vegas, and the teenaged Chase (ABANDON ALL HOPE) daring Hope to skinny dip, along with the adult Chase and Hope in the waves near Los Angeles shooting a music video. There's also the scene in SATAN, LINE ONE where Killian walks in on Josie in the tub. Even in ROCKED BY GRACE we have Zane coming to apologize to Grace on her fire escape during a storm. And there’s dozens more. I mean, you gotta see what the hero looks like wet, don’t you? Just search stock art sites and you’ll see how much people like a guy with drops of water clinging to him.

 

Holy moly! If I keep on with this, we’re all going to need a cold shower. I will share a scene with you, but first…are you a shower person, or a bath person? I love to send little gifts, but when I'm looking at bath bombs, I sometimes struggle to remember which of my kids and their girlfriends are shower people, and which are bath takers. My sister is a notorious bath addict--although she refers to them as wishy-washies--and I follow that family tradition. Some would say I’m a little obsessive about my foaming bath salts, but a gal needs her suds, right?





Here's a shower scene (clean) from ABANDON ALL HOPE. First I'll give you a blurb to help you make sense of things. 


It was one of those mornings for newspaper-writer/photographer Hope Creswell.

 

The alarm clock didn’t go off and she cut her finger on broken glass. Twice! Not one to let such things get her down, Hope headed into her assignment meeting with excitement, only to leave it stunned. Her new assignment is to trail the sensational rock-star, Chase Hatton, for an article. Chase Hatton. No one knows the power that name holds for her. No one knows of the childhood friendship that blossomed into romance, only to abruptly die on the night of Hope’s senior prom. No one knows of the ache still filling her heart. 

 

What starts out for Chase Hatton as an average publicity trip to Chicago suddenly becomes complicated.

 

Chase's manager tells him Hope Creswell will be interviewing him in the morning.

He spent eight years trying to forget Hope, and now she would be in his penthouse in a matter of hours?

 

When Chase opens the door to his penthouse and finds Hope on the opposite side, his heart begins beating a rhythm the rocker has yet to capture in any of his music.

 

The smoldering embers of their former romance are fanned by their mere proximity. Will they both be burned again? And what about Hope’s boyfriend, Phillip? Where does he fit into the picture that Hope is developing?

 







As Chase let the hot water pour over his body, taking with it all the salt and sand which were deposited on his skin earlier, it dawned on him that on the other side of the shower wall, Hope was naked. His movements stilled and he stared at the marble as if he could bore a hole through it with his eyes. On a whim, he reached out with both hands and touched the wall, then leaned his forearms against it, letting the water flow over his back. He could just make out her voice over their combined water use, singing. Since she hadn’t turned on the jets yet, he was able to make out the melody of “In Your Eyes,” the song they were shooting the video for. It hadn’t even been picked up yet by many stations, but obviously she'd heard it. Did she guess the lyrics were written with her in mind?



All I want is to forever be lost in your eyes,
To sing you my love, and to hear your reply.
I strum in the dark, put my heart on the stage,
To the roar of the crowd, but it’s your voice I crave.

I pace in the shadows and wait for my cues,
All the while wondering why I must pay these dues…


He pushed his arms out straight and raised his head to let the water tap dance on his eyelids and flow over his lips and chin. Then, he hung his head between his arms and let it pound into his shoulders, losing himself in the sensations. He reached down and finally turned off the shower, then stepped through the open marble doorway to grab a towel from the bar.


He rubbed his hair, then patted the moisture off his body before wrapping the towel around his waist. He moved over to the mirror, which was veiled in steam, placing both hands on the marble counter to lean against it. He still heard her sweet singing, if only in his head. He snatched a hand towel out of a basket and rubbed an oval in the steam to peer at his reflection. Why the hell did he ever agreed to let her do this story? Her nearness was like poison running through his bloodstream, burning him from the inside out.


The landline rang in his bedroom. He thought about Hope’s email message and rushed to pick it up before the second ring. “Hello?” He noticed the jets turn off in the next room; she must have heard the phone, too.


Over the static, a male voice replied, “Hello?Is Hope Creswell available?”


He hesitated only a second, moving in the direction of the door. “Umm…she’s in the tub. Just a minute.” He hurried into her bedroom and up to the bathroom door. “Hope, you have a phone call.”


“Oh, okay. I’ll be right out.” She sounded flustered. She opened the door, jumping a little when she saw him standing there with a towel wrapped around his waist, holding out the receiver. Her eyes grew wide, and she quickly reached up to secure her towel with one hand and grasped the phone with the other. Then she waited, pointedly, until he left.


He knew he shouldn’t be listening in on their phone conversation, but he had to get dressed, didn’t he?

“Phillip. How are you? …Do I have my own room?” 


Chase smiled. His plan to make Phillip nervous about the accommodations worked. 


“Well of course I have my own room. What sort of a brazen hussy do you think I am? Oh. That sort of brazen hussy. Oh my. You have been away too long.” She laughed in that low, sultry way that gave him goose bumps. “You’re in London? That’s fantastic. No kidding? Tomorrow? Sure, let me get a piece of paper to write this down.” He heard her rummaging through a few drawers before she, evidently, discovered a pad of paper and something to write with. “Go ahead. The Sunset Astoria Hotel. Isn’t that expensive? Well, of course I’m worth it. I never questioned that,” she teased. “But can you afford it? What do you mean something special? All right,” she said with a sigh. “I guess I’ll have to wait then. I’ll see you tomorrow night. You, too. I will. Goodbye.”


He listened for any type of reaction to the phone call—an excited squeal, happy humming, Hope throwing the phone against the wall—but he heard…nothing. 

It sounds like What’s-His-Name is on his way back.

He knew perfectly well his name was Phillip, but he preferred not to acknowledge that. 

It’s not like the two are engaged. And I’ll be damned if I let her walk out on my life again. So, I’ve got tonight.





 If you'd like to find out who comes out on top with this one, you can purchase it here:

Amazon:  mybook.to/AbandonAllHope

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/abandon-all-hope-mj-schiller/1115678168?ean=2940016478500

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/abandon-all-hope-1

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/abandon-all-hope/id804684527?mt=11


Thanks for reading! And let us know which you prefer, shower or bath. Inquisitive minds want to know!


Thursday, April 22, 2021

April Showers Bring May Flowers!


April has always represented optimism to me.  Optimism and hope. For those living in places where there are four seasons, it also means Spring is on the horizon.

With spring comes hope, especially for those experiencing a gloomy winter. When I lived up North, the first sightings of daffodils and crocuses made me do a happy dance.  It still does. Fifty something degree weather had me putting on shorts.

Even after the dismal year we’ve had, April still brings with it hope and promise. The promise of a new tomorrow can only be good. Because of this, I am going to dub this post ‘Showered with April blessings.’ Why not find the silver lining in every cumulus cloud? There is still much to be thankful for.

So, that said, April 2021 may just be the perfect time to count our blessings.

First, and after some initial confusion, most states finally have access to the long awaited COVID vaccine. That makes most of us feel safe, or at least safer.


April, is also considered a precursor to warm weather. While it isn’t quite time to crank up the air conditioning, it’s the perfect time to crank down the heat. This means we’re saving dollars and lowering our electric/ gas bill.

The good news is schools are opening back up and so are office buildings. Those laid off are being called back to work, and unemployment is on the decline.

For those in the travel industry, like me, who were greatly affected, we have hope that we’ll be called back to work.  While the big cruise liners aren’t sailing, some of the smaller boats are.  This gives us hope that states like Florida, dependent on the cruise industry for revenue, are on their way back.

What’s nice about this April is seeing folks out and about again. Restaurants are back in business and people are gathering to socialize, even if it means wearing a mask.


With Memorial Day around the corner, we can plan on having those customary barbecues. It will be a reunion of sorts since most of us haven’t seen close family members in over a year.

Street fairs and concerts are on again, and wouldn’t it be nice for our readers to get out. Take that book to your favorite park, or browse your bookstore, find a comfortable seat, and simply enjoy.

This April 2021 we are showered in blessings.  Optimism is in the air. We are all looking forward to getting back out there.


About Marcia King-Gamble

Romance writer, Marcia King-Gamble originally hails from a sunny Caribbean island where the sky and ocean are the same mesmerizing shade of blue. This former travel industry executive has spent most of life in the United States.

A National Bestselling author, Marcia has penned over 34 books and 8 novellas. She has contributed to Michael Fiore’s DigitalRomanceInc and served as a moderator on the now defunct eHarmony advice boards.  Having witnessed the bad, the ugly, and the not so good in relationships, she still prefers to write about happily ever after. Caring for her animal family keeps her grounded and sane.


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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Hail the Cougar! by Nancy Fraser

I've found I have a real affinity for Cougar & Cub stories, whether it's reading them or writing them. There's just something about an older, more experienced, heroine who's still brave enough to look for love!

Of course you can't discount the energy of the younger man either! Or, at least, I can't. Nothing beats a studly hero who's eager and willing to please.

On Monday, I released the second book in my Cougars & Cubs series, Seduced by the Handyman.

As you may have seen earlier in the month when Joan posted her round robin of 'music to read/write by', my song of choice was one that denotes a woman taking hold of her power...namely from the infamous "Daphne takes what she wants" scene from the Bridgerton series. The End by JPolnd is just too good not to write to when working on a steamy lovescene. You can bet my heroine from Seduced by the Handyman had me playing it on repeat!

Here's a bit about the book:

After a prolonged and messy divorce, 42 year old Cate Matthews uses her financial settlement to purchase a condo in a regentrified warehouse. The only problem with her new home is the plumbing. It doesn’t take her long to realize she needs an expert to fix the rusty pipes—both the building’s and her own.

Mitch Taylor, 27 year old former Army Ranger and now full time student, is working hard toward earning his engineering degree while balancing his education with part time work doing household repairs.

When Mitch shows up in Cate’s lecture hall, she’s immediately impressed with his knowledge of U.S. history, a subject to which she’s devoted her academic career. However, as impressed as she is with his historical acumen, when he lands on her doorstep with an impressively large bag of tools in hand, history is the last thing on her mind.

Perhaps this much younger and infinitely sexy man is just what she needs to get her dormant sex life back on track. Given the huge difference in their ages, Cate assumes the relationship will fizzle out after a few—albeit perfect—trips around the bedroom.

Much to her surprise and delight, Mitch seems to be in it for the long haul. Their 15 year age difference is the least of her worries when she realizes how quickly she’s been seduced by the handyman.

Warning: Contains language and lovescenes some readers may find HOT!

~ ~ ~

I'd love to know how you feel about age-gap romances. As I said, they've become a new reading obsession for me and I'm always looking for more.

Until next month, stay happy, stay healthy, and stay well read.

Nancy

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

BREAKIN' UP IS HARD TO DO!

 By Caroline Clemmons

No, not a romantic breakup. I’m talking about favorite clothing.

One thing I’ve noticed recently is that no matter how overstuffed our tiny closets, I usually choose what I wear from the same few pieces. I favor maxi-skirts and knit tops with three-quarter sleeves. Which brings me to my point: 

How long do we continue to wear an item of clothing before we have to “break up” and send it to the ragbag or trash?

You know what I mean, right? Soft, often-washed fabric relaxes to fit your movement. Tops and skirts/pants that are your friends. Never mind that the skirt’s hem may be frayed (it is) or the top’s elbows are wearing thin (they are). These clothes pamper us in ways a new set can’t.

Recently, I gave in to my eldest daughter’s urging and tossed a pair of slacks into the trash. Letting go hurt, but she was right. They were disgraceful with their almost bare knees and frayed hem. Still, I had to hold the slacks a few minutes for a last goodbye before I could release them into the bin. They were part of the ensemble to the skirt I’m wearing now—the one with the frayed hem. I bought this so long ago I’m not sure of the age. Other than old. I know that soon I’ll have to relinquish the skirt.

The same is true for my favorite top, which is so romantic it’s perfect for a romance writer. It’s soft pink with the words “romance” and cabbage roses and other romantic graphics, all in soft hues. I’ve searched for a duplicate or suitable replacement without success. I do remember where and when I bought this top. I found it at a tent on the Granbury, Texas square during a celebration which drew vendors from across the area. I checked for choices using the label, but nothing happened to help me.

In the meantime, please get my latest release, MAIL ORDER BLAZE, Secret Baby Dilemma Series, at https://www.amzn.com/B08T6C5FKD   This is a short, sweet but fast-paced read I believe you'll enjoy. I love the cover model's dark red hair very like I've always wished I had. Sigh. Are we ever happy with out own hair?

Blaze arrives by train to meet her groom.




She is desperate to save a boy…

He questions his mail-order bride’s past…

An evil man threatens their survival.

 

Bernadette “Blaze” Cook rescues her nephew after her brother-in-law murders her sister in a drunken rage. While the killer is in jail, Blaze takes her nephew with her when she answers an ad in the Grooms Gazette. As further precaution, she doesn’t tell anyone where she’s going. She hopes to disappear and keep her nephew safe.

Andrew “Drew” Wagner didn’t expect his bride to have a toddler but he’s willing to accept the boy. He is suspicious of her story. If the child is hers, why not admit it? As his fondness for her grows, the question becomes less and less important, but won’t rest. Is his wife here to stay or is she planning to take off with some of his cash?

When the nephew’s father breaks out of prison, he’s able to trace Blaze. She and Drew will need all their resources to overcome the killer’s try for revenge. Will their new found love survive as well?

 


A couple of cows bawled. More moved forward until they were near the wagon.

Kenny pointed at the closest steers. “Moo, moo. Mik, mik.”

“This isn’t the kind of cow we milk, dear, but you’re right. We get milk from cows and they go moo. You’re being a good boy.”

“Ma’am, pardon me for saying so, but you’d better put him back in his play area. If Drew fires at something, the horses might jerk the wagon. Sure don’t want the boy to fall out.”

The thought sent her stomach sinking to her knees. “Oh, thank you, Henry. You know I’m new to being in charge of a child and even newer to ranch life. I’ll appreciate your pointers.”

She set Kenny in the triangle formed by the trunks. “If you’ll look the other way, Henry, I’ll climb over the seat and keep him busy.”

“I’m looking for Drew, but feel free to use my arm or shoulder for support. Don’t see him. Sure wish he hadn’t told me to wait here.”

She managed the transfer from the seat to the center trunk without tearing her stockings or her skirt. “I understand, but if he fires the rifle and the blast frightens the horses or the cattle, then I’d be lost at what to do. A runaway team would be disastrous.”

“Oh, I see the point of me staying here, I just wish I didn’t. I worry about Drew. He’s a good man and kind, but sometimes takes risks he shouldn’t.”

“Like now? But he has to protect his herd. That’s his livelihood.”

“We could send the others to look for what’s causing the ruckus and hope nothing happened until they got here.”

A screech like a woman screaming for help prefaced the blast of a rifle. What had happened to cause that horrifying shriek?

“Bwaze!” Kenny cried and grabbed her legs.

Frightened herself, she laid a hand on her nephew’s back. “Henry, did Drew scream?”

The ranch hand stood and appeared to search the direction from which the sounds had come. “That wasn’t a who, that was a what—a panther. Sounds like a woman in agony, don’t it? Fact is, first time I heard one, I figured a cat had attacked a woman. Reckon Drew will be along any minute now.”

Drew appeared trudging toward them. When he reached the wagon, he leaned on the side. “Biggest panther I’ve ever seen. I’d like the pelt for a rug. Henry, you mind staying here to keep the birds away until I can send the others to help?”

Before Henry could answer, Blaze asked, “What if you loaded it behind the trunks?”

Relief shot across Drew’s face when he looked at her. “I hated to ask you, but that would sure help. I don’t want ants and other bugs to get to it.”

“Then, let’s load it now.” She was eager to get to her new home, but apparently this meant a lot to her husband. She simply wouldn’t look at the dead animal on the way to the ranch house.

Drew climbed onto the wagon and released the brake. “It isn’t far. In fact, he was so close it gave me cold chills. We drove within ten yards of him.”

The news set her shaking. The cat could have attacked them—Kenny might have been injured. If she were killed what would happen to her nephew?   

From the wagon seat, Drew snapped the reins. “I can almost hear your thoughts churning, Blaze. We always keep a rifle in the wagon for this reason. You and Kenny were never in danger.”

“Thank you for telling me, but I have a vivid imagination. I don’t understand how having a rifle in the wagon equates to no danger if the panther had leapt at us. Surely someone would have been severely injured before you could fire the rifle.”

“He wouldn’t have attacked the wagon. He was looking for a weak animal to pull down, like a calf or a birthing mama or an old deer. We lost a calf last week and knew a panther had killed it. Lost the tracks across rocky ground on a ridge. Reckon this was the one responsible. Mt men were keeping an eye out for signs.”

The wagon stopped beside the carcass of a huge cat. She had never seen one except in pictures and hadn’t realized how large they could grow. Stretched out, it was longer than a man was tall. How horrid it would be to have such a creature leap at her.

Kenny climbed onto her lap to watch the men. Henry let down the tailgate, then helped Drew lug the cat onto the wagon bed. When they had it loaded, they closed the tailgate and climbed onto the wagon seat.

Kenny pointed at the panther. “Kitty cat says meow.”

The men laughed.



 Our theme this month is April Showers. Our area has had lovely showers and I look forward to May's flowers. Already, the roses planted on two sides of our patio are a riot of red. How can I fail to be optimistic with such color greeting me each morning?

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