An interview with author Darlene Fredette–her new release is Cherry Red!

Thanks for being with us today. First, would you tell us a bit about yourself? What area of the country do you live in, do you have a family, pets, etc.

I live on the Atlantic Coast of Canada with my husband and daughter. We also have a rambunctious three-year old Yellow Labrador.

Are you a coffee fiend, or do you have another “addiction” you must have on your desk at all times?

I don’t drink coffee or tea, but my go-to caffeine addiction is hot chocolate. I have a cup of hot chocolate every day, and my favorite is flavoured white hot chocolate.

Is your education relevant to your writing, or have you branched off in something entirely different to create?

I studied administration in school and followed that path in my career, which led to a position as Director of Administration and Marketing. My writing stemmed from English classes when we had to write essays on books.

How would you best describe your books?

Contemporary Sweet Romances.

Tell us about your most recent publication/whichever book you’d like to talk about today?

Cherry Red is about a woman who owns an ice cream business. Carly has no time in her life for a relationship…until Noah strides into her life and she is forced to pretend he is her boyfriend.

This summer, ice cream entrepreneur Carly Redd’s only focus is expanding her business—until she’s coerced into attending her ex’s engagement party. Showing up without a date is unthinkable. She reluctantly agrees to be escorted by her brother’s co-worker, although doing so breaks her rule of not dating firefighters.

The daughter of the town’s fire chief should wear a Do Not Touch sign, but firefighter Noah Harding’s interest blazed the moment he saw Carly. Agreeing to be her fake boyfriend is a no-brainer, but convincing Carly to trust him with her heart is harder than extinguishing a fire.

Overstepping the platonic-only rule is as dangerous as fire and ice swirling into a tempting combustion.

What inspired you to write this story?
When I learned my publisher was looking for ice cream stories to fit their One Scoop Or Two series, I thought about the perfect storyline to fit the theme.

What interesting thing did you learn or research to write it that you didn’t know before?

Researching ice cream was so much fun!

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today? Any special memories you have in the creation of it?

I love the characters I created from the main characters (Carly and Noah) to the whole cast. They were enjoyable to write about.

What do you most like about writing? Least like?

I like getting into the story and seeing the characters grow and interact. I don’t like editing. It’s painful and tedious.

When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

I wrote a short story for my high school English class and enjoyed developing the plot and characters.

Is there any special music you like to listen to while writing? How does it inspire you?

I listen to the radio while writing. It’s on but not very loud. Music is very therapeutic.

Do you belong to a critique group? What do you find most valuable about the experience?
I am part of a beta group. I don’t know what I would do without their input.

To encourage those still on the path, tell us a little about your path to publication. How many books have you published? How many books did you write before selling one? What do you think was the key to selling that first book?

The main thing is to stay positive, even when rejections hit hard. The key to selling my first book was perfecting the writing craft – reading and learning as much as I could. Cherry Red is my eighth published book

What are you writing now? What’s next for you—will you be making personal appearances anywhere our readers can find you?
My ninth book, Finding Home Again, received a contract and is currently with the proof-reading department. Once proofing is done, it will be formatted, and I’ll receive a release date. I am writing book ten, which brings me back to Redford Falls.

Anything else you would like to add?

Thank you for the opportunity to share Cherry Red with your followers!

Bio: Darlene resides on the Atlantic Coast of Canada where the summers are too short, and the winters are too long. An avid reader since childhood, Darlene loved to develop the many stories coming to life in her head. She writes contemporary romances with a focus on plot-driven page-turners. When not working on her next book, she can be found with her husband, her daughter, and her yellow Labrador. Darlene’s favourite pastime is taking summer daytrips to the Valley to soak in the small-town feel.

This link will bring you to my website which has links to all distributing sites for my books. Universal Purchase Link: http://darlenefredette.blogspot.com/2021/04/my-books-purchase-links.html

Author Web Site: http://darlenefredette.blogspot.com/

Blog: http://findingthewritewords.blogspot.com

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Fredette/e/B005NAF660/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DarleneLF

Murder, mystery, suspense in latest from Brenda Whiteside

The Wickedest Town in the West turned ghost town, turned hippie haven, turned tourist mecca…that’s the inspiration for my latest series, The MacKenzie Chronicles. Although I’ve renamed my city Joshua, Arizona, anyone familiar with Jerome, Arizona will recognize the setting within my stories.

KODAK Digital Still Camera
  • I was born and raised in Arizona and fell in love with the city in the 1960s. Jerome has long been a favorite place to visit for locals. The town nearly died in the 1950s when the mining dried up. What once was a raucous little town hanging on the side of a mountain, inhabited by the men who worked the mines, the wealthy who owned the mines, and the ladies who lived in the cribs and entertained both, became a ghost town. And the city does literally hang on the side of the mountain. Three main roads are stacked like stadium seating.

In the 1960s, hippies discovered Jerome and squatted in the abandoned buildings. But they also bought the homes, improved them, and turned the town into a center for art.

Today, the town flourishes with artists, wine tasting, historical settings, and restaurants. The residents prefer to keep the town looking much like it did in the 1920s when the mines pumped out the minerals that made millions.

Frank MacKenzie, an artist, and Susie Muse, a store owner and mystic, met in the hippie days of Joshua. The MacKenzie Chronicles are about their three children, now grown. Susie died a couple of decades ago, but two of her offspring have mystic talents while one is creative like her father. There is murder, mystery, and suspense in their pasts as well as their presents.

Mystery on Spirit Mountain, book 2 in the series, is Harlan’s book, and officially releases on September 15. Preorder is available now at a sale price.

The past never sleeps.

The truth never dies.

Only Harlan MacKenzie can sense the troubled history of the Big Purple House. When he’s hired to restore the historical mansion, he doesn’t foresee the secrets—secrets that entangle his family in deceit and murder.

Phaedra is selling the house that has been in her family for decades. As her friends-to-lovers relationship with Harlan escalates, she puts her values on the line and chances losing him.

After a stranger comes to town, weaving her web of deception, hell-bent on correcting an old grievance connected to the house, dark revelations of the past implode the present. Harlan and Phaedra are thrown on a dangerous path, not only risking love but possibly their lives.

You can read the first chapter of Mystery on Spirit Mountain here:

https://brendawhiteside.com/mystery-on-chapter-one

To reserve your copy of Mystery on Spirit Mountain (The MacKenzie Chronicles book 2) at the sale price: https://www.amazon.com/Mystery-Spirit-Mountain-MacKenzie-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B09CP3BXVG/

BIO:

Brenda Whiteside is the author of suspenseful, action-adventure stories with a touch of romance. Mostly. She and her husband are gypsies at heart having lived in six states and two countries. For now, they’ve settled in Central Arizona, but won’t discount the possibility of another move in their future. They share their home with a rescue dog named Amigo. While FDW is fishing, Brenda writes.

Visit Brenda at https://www.brendawhiteside.com

Or on FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/BrendaWhitesideAuthor

Sign up for her email newsletter: https://us3.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=4804e039587723cfe02e83f2c&id=5e4b22a4ac

Twitter: https://twitter.com/brendawhitesid2

She blogs and has guests: https://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003V15WF8

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3972045.Brenda_Whiteside

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/brenda-whiteside

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brendawhitesideauthor/

Featured this month at Author Promo Pal!

Going out on her own at 42 terrifies lawyer Inessa Regan, who’s always had an easy associate’s position at her firm.

But when they shove her out the door, she has no choice. Will she survive financially, or is she doomed to fail?

https://www.amazon.com/Second-Chances-Alana-Lorens/dp/1612710808/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1630437009&sr=1-1 

#olderwomanyoungermanromance #lawyersinlove #Iraqveteran #PTSDissues #Pittsburgh #PittsburghLadyLawyers

Second Chances is book two in the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyers series, and is published by Zumaya Publications.

Aussie author Iris Blobel’s newest–the Alinta Bay series!

Defying Rules

Alinta Bay Book 1

by Iris Blobel

Genre: Contemporary Australian Romance

Sometimes one has to break rules in order to find happiness…
Widower Logan Hendrix is puzzled by the recent series of small crimes against his son’s new teacher. It’s a mystery to him, and he offers her his help. There’s an instant attraction, and Logan wants to take their parent/teacher relationship to a more personal level.
It doesn’t take Addison Ryker long to fall in love with Alinta Bay, the small town she’s moved to for her new teaching position at the local primary school. Her newfound haven is threatened, however, when her house is broken into and she is relying on the unbelievably stubborn but very sexy Logan for help. Although captivated by him, Addison worries her career could be compromised, because there are rules about dating a parent.

**Only .99 cents!!**

Goodreads * Amazon

Tell It To My Heart

Alinta Bay Book 2

Confronted with the choice to care for his friend’s family on the other side of the world or to return to Alinta Bay to be with his own newfound family, how will Noah choose?

Following the death of his grandmother, Noah Fielding returns to Alinta Bay and the first thing — or person — he finds is the next-door neighbour in his nan’s bathroom — naked no less. Still jetlagged, he doesn’t hit it off with Molly at first. Yet, over the next few weeks, as his past uncovers itself bit by bit, she becomes is anchor, his friend, and his lover.

Molly Reid had the world at her feet, happily married with a young son … until a tragic car accident took everything away from her. With her heart broken, she moves to Alinta Bay to escape the memories of the past. Her peaceful existence, however, is interrupted after a heavy storm floods her house and she temporarily moves into her recently deceased neighbour’s house next door.

When Noah’s friend and partner goes missing during a routine flight, Noah returns to Alaska to help, but will he come back for Molly?

Goodreads * Amazon

Between Goodbye and Hello

Alinta Bay Book 3

Can two seemingly incompatible people who judge each other on past events be able to find some common ground?

Harrison Hendrix believes in second chances, but when it comes to Melody, he has every reason to doubt it’s possible. He’s conflicted when he sees her back in town and tries his best to see the change in her that other friends mention. Even more so when spending a night with her after being set up for a dinner date.

Life hasn’t been kind to Melody Foster, and she returns to Alinta Bay for a new beginning. Hit by tragedy again, she’s determined to live life to the fullest and with no regrets. She creates a bucket list … on which #8 the very difficult, yet extremely sexy Harrison has been included. Why does it seem he’s always around when she’s in trouble?

Maybe it’s time to take a risk and leave the past where it belongs, but will trusting their instinct be the right choice for them?

Goodreads * Amazon

Touch Me

Alinta Bay Book 4

She loves the feel of his skin beneath her hands …

Lexie Marshall packs up and moves 3,000 km east with her daughter Zoe, to forget and move on. Now, all that matters is her daughter and her new job. She tries hard to stay focused, but the sexy and extremely kind park ranger, Jesse, is not making it easy. And when her husband shows up in the small coastal town creating chaos, all she can do is hang on and trust her new friends.

After his last girlfriend walked out on him, Jesse Parker is doing just fine on his own. Until his accidental meeting with single mother Lexie, when he rescues her and her daughter from getting lost in the forest. But when her past catches up with her, he is right in the middle of it all and it might ruin his career.

Will returning to her old life be the only chance to save his career?

Goodreads * Amazon

Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London, as well as Canada where she met her husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper only emerged late in life, but now her laptop is a constant companion.
Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her beautiful two daughters as well as their dog.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

$15 Amazon

a Rafflecopter giveaway

An interview with Seelie Kay

Q.  Why do you write romance?

Because I am fascinated by the games people play to find and secure a lasting relationship, which is not always love. There’s the chase, the courtship, the falling, the surrender. That’s what I try to capture in my stories.

Q.  Do you prefer a certain type of romantic hero?

I adore smart, dashing gentlemen who aren’t afraid to live on the edge. They can be a bad boy, a billionaire, a prince, or a secret agent. That hint of danger just hooks me! However, I they have to be paired with strong, independent women who aren’t afraid to fight for what they want, even love.

Q.  Why did you write “Ye Gods! The Law is an Ass?”

Donovan Trait is a vampire lawyer. In the human world, a very respected lawyer. I wanted to give him the opportunity to shine in the vampire world. So I created a scenario where his turned vampire bride Shirley is unfairly punished for an unintentionally violating their marital agreement, as well as other outdated, outrageous, and outright discriminatory laws—she unintentionally  To survive and protect their unborn child, they must not only fight back, but also rebel. In this instance, human history provides them with the path. That gave me the opportunity to draw parallels between the fight for human rights and the rights of vampires who aren’t purebloods. It also allowed me to poke at the continued need of both societies to embrace social change. Perhaps surprisingly, the vampires lag far behind the humans in terms of equality and individual freedoms. However, in the end, the message is clear: Whether human or vampire, an individual is entitled to certain rights and liberties. And no human or vampire has a right to deny them.

Blurb:

It was the Great Lie, and it could destroy the Vampire Nation.

In First, We Kill All the Lawyers, vampire lawyer Donovan Trait survived repeated attacks by a serial killer. Now, after violating a marital agreement with the Vampire Coalition, and several ancient Vampire Laws, Donovan, and his newly-turned vampire bride are on the run. You see, in exchange for permitting a pure-blood vampire to marry a turned human, the Traits agreed to allow vampire scientists to monitor the conception and birth of their children. When Judge Shirley Magnusen Trait turns up accidentally pregnant on her wedding day, the fury of the Coalition is unleashed. The tribunal recommends unacceptable punitive action and the Traits are forced to flee to a mysterious island of vampire nuns. The Traits are, by profession, seekers of the truth. But this time, the truth may not set them free. In fact, it could start a revolution. Will the Traits escape the clutches of the Coalition and keep their babies safe? Or will their family be…eliminated?

Excerpt:

Jonathan opened the envelope and reviewed the report. When he got to the last page, his eyes grew wide. “Donovan, it seems Shirley had a reason for that lightheadedness.”

Donovan gasped. “What is it?”

His father handed him the document and pointed at the bottom of the page. “She’s pregnant.”

Donovan grabbed at the wall. Overwhelmed with unfamiliar emotion, he settled onto a chair and rested his head in his hands. “Ye Gods,” he muttered. “I’m going to be a father.”

“And I am to be a grandfather, finally. However, I am afraid the Coalition may have a problem with this. They may not permit your marriage today or anytime soon.”

Donovan Trait turned to his father, his eyes filled with fury. “Why does it matter? We’re already married in the human world and we are about to repeat our vows before all in the Vampire Kingdom. This doesn’t change anything. It’s not like we are going to have a child out of wedlock. We have broken no laws.”

Jonathan Trait arched a fluffy white brow. “We need to discuss this, son.” He sat beside him. “The problem is, you explicitly agreed to allow the Coalition to oversee the conception and birth of any children born of this joining. Every step of the process was to be observed, studied, and documented. You know this.”

“So, they are going to force us to terminate the pregnancy and start over?” Donovan groaned. “It’s too late. I will not force her to start over. They can be voyeurs the next time. I am sure Shirley will have no problem with the monitoring of her pregnancy. It’s not like she can consult with a human physician. They would not understand that her child may have fangs in utero. And the blood work…” He shuddered. “I can’t imagine what…”

Jonathan frowned. “The agreement says from the point of conception, son.  You know what sticklers they are. Our women became barren more than a century ago. We need to understand why. From a scientific perspective, we need to know exactly what was different, so we can find a solution.”

Donovan harrumphed. “Seriously? Did they wish to observe while I made love to my wife? That’s ludicrous. Horny old bastards.”

Jonathan chuckled. “Some of those old fuddie-duddies would stroke out if forced to watch a virile man like you seduce his wife.” His expression turned somber. “Let’s look at the facts as we know them. As a lawyer, that’s a process with which you are familiar.

“Human women can’t carry a vampire child to term. We know that. They miscarry. The human uterus is simply not strong enough to withstand the damage caused by a developing vampire fetus. Those fangs shred the amniotic sac. However, we also don’t know if a female vampire can carry a human baby to term. Shirley may not be able to provide the fetus with the nutrition that it needs to develop properly.

“In addition, we don’t know the point of conception, which means we don’t know if Shirley was fully turned when she conceived. We also don’t know what the genetic makeup of the baby will be and whether that will change as the pregnancy progresses. Furthermore, we don’t know whether the baby’s genetics will alter after birth. We don’t know what the child will need to survive. We don’t know much.

“That raises several questions, Donovan. Is Shirley’s life in danger? And is your child’s life in danger? Not just physically and genetically, but socially. The baby is an anomaly. To some, an adnomination. A freak. He or she will constantly be in danger. If you had kept to the agreement, she and the baby would have been protected. Now everything is at risk.”

Book Trailer–

Buy links–

Extasy Books: https://www.extasybooks.com/ye-god-the-law-is-an-ass

Amazon:

Barnes and Noble:

Kobo: 

Universal link:

About Seelie Kay:

      Award-winning author Seelie Kay writes about lawyers in love, sometimes with a dash of kink.

Writing under a nom de plume, the former lawyer and journalist draws her stories from more than 30 years in the legal world. Seelie’s wicked pen has resulted in nineteen works of fiction, including the new paranormal romance series Donovan Trait, as well the erotic romance Kinky Briefs series and The Feisty Lawyers romantic suspense series. She also authored The Last Christmas, The Garage Dweller, A Touchdown to Remember, The President’s Wife, The President’s Daughter, Seizing Hope, The White House Wedding, and participated in the romance anthology Pieces of Us.

When not spinning romantic tales, Seelie ghostwrites nonfiction for lawyers and other professionals. Currently, she resides in a bucolic exurb outside Milwaukee, WI, where she enjoys opera, the Green Bay Packers, gourmet cooking, organic gardening, and an occasional bottle of red wine.

Seelie is an MS warrior and ruthlessly battles the disease on a daily basis. Her message to those diagnosed with MS: Never give up. You define MS, it does not define you!

Seelie can be reached at http://www.seeliekay.com, http://www.seeliekay.blogspot.com, or on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

Author links:

Website:  https://www.seeliekay.com

Blog:  https://www.seeliekay.blogspot.com

Twitter: @SeelieKay https://twitter.com/SeelieKay

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/seelie.kay.77

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/seeliekay51/

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Seelie-Kay/e/B074RDRWNZ/

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/seelie-kay

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16492565.Seelie_Kay

Newsletter sign-up:  https://rb.gy/w69pim

Prior Books:

Kinky Briefs:  https://www.extasybooks.com/kinky-briefs-1

Kinky Briefs, Too:  https://www.extasybooks.com/kinky-briefs,-too

Kinky Briefs, Thrice:  https://www.extasybooks.com/kinky-briefs,-thrice

Kinky Briefs, Quatro:  https://www.extasybooks.com/kinky-briefs,-quatro

Kinky Briefs, Cinque:  https://www.extasybooks.com/kinky-briefs,-cinque

The Garage Dweller:  https://www.extasybooks.com/the-garage-dweller

A Touchdown to Remember:  https://www.extasybooks.com/a-touchdown-to-remember

The President’s Wife:  https://www.extasybooks.com/the-presidents-wife

The President’s Daughter:  https://www.extasybooks.com/the-presidents-daughter

The White House Wedding:  https://www.extasybooks.com/the-white-house-wedding

Snatching Dianna (Feisty Lawyers Book 1):  https://www.extasybooks.com/snatching-dianna

Infamy (Feisty Lawyers Book 2):  https://www.extasybooks.com/infamy

Cult Feisty Lawyers Book 3):  https://www.extasybooks.com/cult

Hope (Feisty Lawyers Book 4):  https://www.extasybooks.com/hope

Martimus (Feisty Lawyers Book 5):  https://www.extasybooks.com/martimus

Seizing Hope:  https://www.extasybooks.com/seizing-hope

The Last Christmas:  https://www.extasybooks.com/the-last-christmas

Bovine Tricks (Royals Gone Rogue 1): https://www.extasybooks.com/bovine-tricks 

First, We Kill All the Lawyers (Donovan Trait 1):  https://www.extasybooks.com/first,-we-kill-all-the-lawyers

Check out the Masonville series!

Unexpected

The Masonville Series Book 3

by Jana Richards

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Single dad Ben Greyson wants only to retain custody of his two stepdaughters. A dysfunctional childhood has made family the most important thing in his life. When his late wife’s parents sue for custody, a desperate Ben is left with two choices – run away with his girls or marry his next-door neighbor.
Jamie Garven wants to be a mother. She’s intrigued by her handsome new neighbor and falls in love with his little girls. Then Ben is faced with losing his children, and Jamie agrees to marry him for a chance at motherhood. They’re determined to show the world, and the girls’ grandparents, two loving parents.
Their marriage of convenience turns into unexpected love. But Ben interprets Jamie’s efforts to save their family as betrayal—they could lose everything, including each other.

**Pre-order Now – Sep 17th to get the special discount price of $2.99!**

Add to Goodreads

Amazon * Apple * B&N

To Heal a Heart

The Masonville Series Book 2

Two souls in pain, two hearts in need of rescue.

Garrett Saunders’ world changed two years ago on a road in Afghanistan. Back home, he feels like a stranger. As he struggles to find his place in the world, he meets a horse destined for the slaughterhouse and a woman bent on rescuing the strays of the world, including him.

Blair Greyson moves to Masonville to look after her ailing grandfather and give her rescue horses a home. Right away she butts heads with a surly former Marine. Despite a rocky start, they come to an agreement: Blair will board Garrett’s rescue horse and he’ll help with repairs around her farm.

Garrett finds purpose working with Blair—and falls in love with her. But she’s hiding a secret. Can she forgive herself and accept Garrett’s love, or will she let guilt and regret continue to rule her life?

**On Sale for Only .99 cents Aug 20th – Sep 3rd!!**

Add to Goodreads

Amazon * Apple * B&N * Google * Kobo * TheWildRosePress

Child of Mine

The Masonville Series Book 1

Is Lauren’s love for Cole stronger than her fear of scandal in her hometown?

Lauren didn’t intend to sleep with her brother-in-law Cole on the day of her husband’s funeral. But now that she is pregnant, she’s not sorry. Cole’s given her a baby, a long-wished-for miracle. He’s been her friend forever, though she never told him or anyone else how unhappy her marriage to his cheating brother was. And she’s afraid to tell the small town that considered her husband a hero that the baby isn’t his.

Cole’s been in love with Lauren since he was sixteen. It kills him that everyone believes the baby is his dead brother’s. All he wants is to claim the baby, and Lauren, as his own. Though she marries him, will Lauren’s heart ever be his?

Lauren must tell the truth or risk losing Cole. Is her newly-discovered love for him greater than her fear of scandal in her hometown?

**On Sale for Only .99 cents Sep 3rd-17th!!**

Add to Goodreads

Amazon * Apple * B&N * Google * Kobo * TheWildRosePress

When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.janarichards.com

Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads * Newsletter

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

$20 Amazon

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Watch out for that first step–this hike’s a doozy!

During the daylight hours, I am a project manager, dad, ranch hand, and general all-around average guy. I spend my free time with my family, reading, playing games, golf, and the working on our small ranch.

A closet romantic, Fate Takes a Hike was a challenge I set myself almost a year ago. While I have been writing short stories and fan fiction for years, I’d never pushed myself to do a full, book-length tale, until now.

With the book’s release, I will start my journey into this world called romance writing. Let’s hope I survive!

EXCERPT:

Prologue— Jacob

Mist from the early morning rain clung to the trees and mixed with the light breeze to cool the sweat on my face as I walked up the small trail.

Just past the halfway point to the glade, I stepped over the roots of old Splitjaw. At some point in its past, the aged fir tree had been bent over and broken, creating a neck-like structure where the shattered ends split open, making the trunk look like the opened jaws of an alligator. Kara, my fiancé, named it Splitjaw during our first hike in this area.

I smiled, thinking back to that day and her silliness. She’d insisted that Splitjaw needed to be fed. She had dug through her backpack and pulled out some beef jerky, which she opened and stuck in its jagged “mouth.” Pleased with herself, she’d shouldered her pack and continued with our trek.

Digging into one of the cargo pouches on my pants, I pulled out the strips of beef jerky I brought with me for this very moment. I unwrapped them and placed them into Splitjaw’s mouth. Pocketing the wrapper, I patted the tree and proceeded on my way. Tradition satisfied.

It was close to noon when I stepped out of the trees and into the clearing. Sunlight bathed the meadow. The tall, waving grasses forming a sea of green, almost like a calm lake. The lone Oregon white oak dominated the center of the clearing, a soldier standing guard over the meadow and its denizens. I had no idea how that acorn made it to this area, but I was happy that it had found a home here.

Its branches spread outward to provide shelter and shade to all those who gathered below them, perfect for the task I had given it.

I drew in a cleansing breath, shaking myself from my reverie, and continued walking until I stood under the oak’s branches. I unshouldered my backpack and set it down against the tree before letting one hand rest gently on its trunk.

“Sorry I’m late. I was finishing up some drywall in one of the upstairs bedrooms and lost track of time.”

I bent down, opened up the pack, and pulled out a collapsible rake. Unfolding it as I stood, I began clearing the detritus of small limbs and leaves from around the area.

“It took longer than I planned, but I got the flooring finished in the kitchen. I know we talked about that white checkered slate tile, but it was out of stock and the backorder was going to take too long. So, I ended up doing a grey, sixteen-inch tile that has four small black diamonds in the center. I think it looks fantastic against the backsplash.”

I continued my rundown of my construction highlights as I kept raking.

Satisfied that no limbs or leaves remained, I collapsed the rake, stowed it back in the pack, and pulled out a small set of shears. I squatted down on one knee and began trimming the grass around the two small bronze markers. I worked in thoughtful silence, letting the metallic snip-snip of the trimmers soothe my mind and heart as I cleared back the grass and weeds that had grown since my last visit.

Once everything was pruned to my liking, I stowed the shears and retrieved a small rag and bottle of brass cleaner. Pouring a small bit of the solution onto my cloth, I began scrubbing the bird droppings off the markers.

With the bronze gleaming again, I stowed all of my tools and supplies and gazed down at the markers, telling myself I wouldn’t cry even as the first tear worked its way down my cheek. Every time I thought I had cried myself out, I found that with these two, I never would.

Kara Berman

Loving Wife

Karen Berman

Beloved Daughter

“I love you both,” I whispered, letting my fingers lightly brush the metal.

I stood up, grabbing my backpack and swinging it up and onto my back. I shrugged my shoulders a couple of times to seat the straps comfortably, then fastened the belly band, tugging on it to make sure it was tight.

With a final, pained glance at the markers, I turned and headed east, passing quickly out of the meadow and into the trees beyond.

Chapter 1 Josie

I shook the small handheld GPS unit in an attempt to make it work.

“You’ve got to be freaking kidding me! I will smash you into a million pieces, you worthless hunk of plastic!”

The small, yellow electronic devil was obviously unimpressed with my threat and mocked me with its refusal to comment. Looking up at the sky, I almost asked the heavens, ‘What next?’ But I didn’t want to tempt fate. Little did I realize at the time that the heavens could read minds, and fate could be a real bitch.

Sighing like a teenager being asked to do the dishes, I shoved the worthless plastic demon into my backpack and pulled out my trusty old compass. Flipping open the lid, I began turning in a small circle, talking to myself while the needle danced inside its glass case.

“Okay, let’s see,” I muttered to myself. “If that’s north, then that way is west and towards the lake. If I can make it to the lake, I should be able to get to the marina and use their phone.”

I nodded to myself, taking a deep, calming breath. This was good. Everything was going to be okay.

“I’m going to call Brianna Cranston and give her a piece of my mind. Wait, no. First, I’m going to get her to come pick me up and take me to my car, and while she’s driving me to it, then I’m going to give her a piece of my mind. She’ll be trapped then and can’t escape my wrath. Nice plan, Josie. Less walking, more righteous satisfaction.”

Brianna had been the one to talk me into this jaunt when I should have been helping Mom with the store. I knew that somewhere in those spreadsheets and invoices was the answer to our financial situation, something that would pull us up out of the hole we were spiraling into.

Apparently, I had been getting a tad bitchy with folks lately. Brianna cornered me in my small office Wednesday. Mom apparently let her slip back to harass me.

“Girl, you need to get away from the sheets of numbers and clear your head before you bite one of your worker’s—or worse, Kaylin’s head off,” she told me, crossing her arms and skewering me with an icy glare.

I scrubbed my tired eyes, glancing up at her. “I don’t have the time. We’re losing money every day and if I don’t figure out how to stop it, Mom and I are toast.”

Brianna began lecturing me, using her finger like a conductor’s baton. “Get your lazy butt out in the woods. You and your dad loved the woods and trails around here. Hell, you were a tomboy for most of your time here. Get out there, walk among the trees, and clear your mind. Maybe an acorn will fall on that head of yours and give you the idea you need!”

I had reluctantly agreed, more to get her to leave and to stop her nagging. And I had to admit … she had a point. I needed a break.

Putting my compass in the pocket of my shorts, I began walking in the right direction, only slightly limping, thanks to the blister on my heel. Normally, I’d have fixed it with some moleskin, but since I was in such a hurry to leave this morning, I neglected to pack my first aid kit.

My pack contained everything else I might need. Bear whistle, snacks, water, and dry socks. I even had a copy of Cosmo that I had filched from the beauty shop. Figured it could double as emergency toilet supplies should the need arise.

No GPS, no moleskin, a squishy blister on my heel, and still a long way from my car. The day was just a winner all the way around.

“Just you wait, Brianna, I’ve got two sweaty socks with your name written all over them!”

I chuckled evilly at the thought of taking off my boots in her car and launching an odoriferous attack. If I were lucky, she’d puke. Hey, if you can’t make your best friend puke, why are they your bestie?

While I might have thought Brianna gagging on sweaty socks would be funny, what galled me the most was that she was right.

About an hour into the hike this morning, I realized I actually felt better. The rich smell of the trees and the sounds of nature slowly eroded my stress level, lowering it to what most folks considered normal. I was bordering on darn near relaxed. Even with the blister and the evil GPS unit, I was feeling better than I had in several weeks.

“Okay, Brianna, maybe no socks this time.” Nodding to myself, I continued on down the trail.

After another thirty or so minutes of walking, I came to a ridgeline. Taking a moment, I glanced down into what appeared to be about a fifty-foot drop-off. It wasn’t a straight drop, more of a steep downhill, something you might ski on if there were snow, and if you didn’t mind rocks and trees at the end of your run. Unhooking my water bottle, I took a small sip as I drank in the panoramic view. I could just see the lake on the horizon. Clipping the water bottle back to my pack, I took a deep, refreshing breath.

“Finally, something is going my way.”

I began walking along the edge, hoping to find a way down that looked less like a blue diamond run and more like a bunny slope. I enjoyed skiing, but the lack of skis and snow put a damper on shooshing down the ledge. With my luck today, I’d fall and break an ankle.

At that exact moment, the heavens showed me that they had been paying attention to my thoughts. Just as I walked near a patch of scrub brush, a small rabbit burst out of it right at my feet, moving as if it was late for something.

Like any red-blooded girl seeing something that looks like a mouse on steroids flying at her, I screamed and high-stepped away from the impending rodent mauling that I just knew was coming my way.

Unfortunately, in my adrenaline-fueled rush to escape, I forgot about the ridgeline I had been admiring. I screamed again as I toppled over the edge. I smashed flat on my side and began tumbling end over end as the loose rocks and dirt gave way. I saw ground, sky, ground and then felt a sharp burst of pain in my leg and a punch to my stomach.

I barely had time to think, “Ow … shit,” before blackness took me.

CONTACTS

Email: bdswritings@gmail.com

Website: https://BDStorey.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BDStoreyAuthor/

Instagram: https://instagram.com/BDSwritings

About The author

When he’s not writing, or working his day job, Bob spends his time helping his wife take care of their three horses, four cats and the multitude of chores one finds around the farm. When there is free time left, he enjoys playing golf, video games, and DnD with his friends on the west coast and watching their three kids grow up and explore life.