romance

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.

New from Aussie author Cynthia Terelst!

Love and secrets are a tricky combination

For Emily, going home isn’t easy, especially when her small town never felt like home in the first place. She escaped Alma seven years ago when she went to university, but now her estranged father needs her help. At least returning means spending time with the only good thing in town—her best friend, Luke.

Luke always knew Emily needed to be free of their hometown, so he withheld his true feelings. Even though she has returned, he knows she will never stay. He tries hard to respect the boundaries of their friendship but every moment they spend together makes it harder to deny their connection. Self-control dissipates. One kiss turns into two…

But is Luke really the man Emily remembers? When Emily discovers Luke has betrayed her trust, they could lose the most precious thing of all—each other.

**This is a standalone romance with medium heat**

Buy Links

Release Price $2.99

Universal Link – https://books2read.com/u/3n7nPK

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08Q2YD2DC/

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08Q2YD2DC/

Aust – https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B08Q2YD2DC/

Canada – https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B08Q2YD2DC/

Emily

Luke had been strange all morning. It was weird. Up until our visit to Brodsky’s he’d been fine. His normal Luke self. He seemed to change after he’d held my hand. Maybe he’d read my thoughts when I’d looked at him. He’d always known what I was thinking, sometimes before I did and at that moment, in that store, in front of Callum, I’d thought about kissing him.

I was so stupid. Luke had never shown any interest in me other than being friends even though he was always there for me. Always. I enjoyed spending time with him more than anyone else in the world. Had he read my mind and freaked out?

Filling the kettle, I shook my head. I kept busy, getting the cups out of the overhead cupboard while I waited for the kettle to boil. My thoughts strayed to Luke’s lips, his strong arms, his hands—so much bigger than mine but so gentle, roaming across my body. I dragged my thoughts away. There was no point ruining our friendship for a kiss.

The kitchen door creaked as it opened. Luke came in, running his hand through his hair. He was nervous. What had I done? One stupid slip had led to this. Not even a kiss. A dream of a kiss.

“Need a hand?” he asked, coming over to where the cups were sitting.

“My saviour,” I said, giving him a hip bump. I wanted the old Luke back. I handed him the plate of Tim Tams and started pouring the cups of tea. He grabbed one and took it outside. I watched him leaving, longer than I should have, but damn his arse filled his shorts nicely.

Luke

Callum walked up the driveway and Emily went out to meet him. I raised my hand in greeting but stayed on the porch with Jim. I didn’t need to be in the Emily/Callum bubble. So, I stood at the railing, watching them like a creeper. As they set off Callum put his hand on the small of her back just like he’d done last week at the meeting. Touching Emily seemed so natural to him. Even when he let go, they stayed close. They walked to the end of the field looking back once. Callum said something and Emily laughed, turning her attention back to him.

I could tell she liked being with him by the way she walked with so much energy. I could feel it from where I stood. She turned into him when he spoke, gazing up into his face. My hands hurt from clutching the railing too tight. I kicked at the post, visualising Callum’s shin.

“Looks like you left your run eight years too late,” Jim said from behind me.

I clenched my jaw. I should have known better than to get my hopes up. The kiss the other day meant nothing. Just a moment in time never to be repeated. It’s what I deserved for not putting up an argument about the fake dating and then for not telling Emily about it.

Author Bio

Cynthia Terelst is an emerging Australian author based in regional Queensland, where the sun shines 283 days a year. She is a project officer by day and a writer by night. Cynthia’s mother introduced her to a lifelong love of reading, for which she will be forever grateful. With love for the written word instilled in her, she wrote her first picture book at the age of 8, about her lost cat, Fluffy.

Cynthia writes contemporary romance and has four books published in her Love Down Under series. She refers to her writing style as ‘heat with heart’. In her novels, she likes to share a little bit of history, some Australian scenery and a whole lotta love. Her novels do not shy away from difficult topics, as she feels that they should not be ignored.

Social Media Links

Website http://cynthiaterelst.com/

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Linktree – https://linktr.ee/cynthiaterelst

Play time is past, time to grow up: The Ramadan Nights

They’re not kids anymore. 

Just when he starts to get his act together,  Mansur wakes to an empty bed and a crying baby. His wife leaves him with their infant on the day he starts a new job. Uneasy and alone, he looks across the street to Faiza for help. As he relies on their long friendship, desires for the sexy firefighter reawaken within him. 

Faiza can’t deny Mansur, even though she should. Her heart broke when he married another woman. She got herself together and moved on. Now, he is back in their childhood neighborhood and her life. She knows they’re just friends, but she can’t help longing for more.  

Family and culture kept them apart when young, but Mansur won’t allow interference from anyone or anything. He is determined to make Faiza more than just a friend.

The Groom is a boy-next-door romance full of passion and an alpha who proves that he is no longer a little boy. **NO cliffhanger, Guaranteed HEA.**’

Series Blurb

Fast, pray, love. 

The men of the Ramadan Nights series love their Creator and women.

Igniting passion within them is worship.

The Ramadan Nights series features four exciting and inspirational romances by bestselling and award-winning authors. Get ready to be captivated by characters as they explore the links between faith and sensuality. This vibrant series includes a spectrum of New Adult and Adult fiction, from sweet to steamy. Enjoy romance stories of second chance love, friends to lovers …

Fall in love with strong, confident alphas and heroines as they undergo tests of resolve to love and captivate each other from sunset until daybreak.

EXCERPT:

Faiza reached for the popcorn bowl before Mansur put it on the table. “Thank you.”

He smiled and sat at Beni’s feet; his little body stretched between them. “Do you want anything else?”

“What you, need more time away from the feeding frenzy?” She popped a handful of buttery goodness in her mouth, looking at the screen and him.

He sat and rested an ankle on the opposite knee. “I told you, I’ve changed. So, let’s get into your sick fixation with cannibalism.”

She scoffed. “How many times do I have to tell you? It’s not cannibalism. The Titans aren’t human, not exactly, anyway. They’re shifters. “She moved to the edge of her seat. A giant scooped up a poor townsperson, gnashing the snack between its enormous teeth. “See, that’s what happens when you don’t listen.” Her guffaws burst through the room with the next fighting scene. “Oops, Beni.” She covered her mouth and looked down at him. Barely a move. “Who am I kidding? He can sleep through anything.”

Mansur draped an arm over the back of the sofa. “That’s the truth.” He lifted one of Beni’s arm. It fell flat on the couch.

She waved a hand. “Stop that. We don’t want to take any chances. We’re only done with season one.”

“Wait, how many of these things are we supposed to watch?”

She lifted more popcorn in front of her lips. “It depends. How sorry do you feel? I think at least the first three seasons is enough penance.”

“Three?”

“It’s the weekend.”

“We have prayer.”

“We’ll make them between seasons like we did the last one. All you’re doing is proving that you’re still frightened.”

“Oh, I’m not scared. Fine, three seasons.”

She shoved the popcorn in her mouth, chest swelled with victory.

He winked. “I guess I’ll sleep here.”

That got a gasp out of her, allowing a piece of popcorn to wedge in the back of her throat. She lurched forward, coughing with no noise, grabbing the edge of the table for dear life. Bits of chewed popcorn sprayed in front of her, but the one morsel killing her stayed lodged.

“Crap, Faiza.” Mansur lifted and spun her. He wrapped his strong arms under her breasts and pulled her against him.

She clamped her hands over his hairy forearms. It would have been a turn on if she weren’t dying. The popcorn flew across the room after Mansur’s third try. Her entire belly ached, and pride sat lying on the floor next to the hunk food in a tiny pool of saliva. “Tha—thank …” She bent over, resting her hands on her knees while he stroked her back.

“Just breathe.” His soothing words clashed with a series of explosions bursting from the screen. “Are you all right?”

“Yeah.” She fell back in her seat. He sat across from her on the coffee table. “Humiliated, but fine.”

He laughed. “For real? It’s me, Mansur.”

She met his gaze. The kindness in his gray eyes drove away concerns of dying and flesh-eating giants. He was right. She shouldn’t be embarrassed, not with him. “I know it’s you. I’m glad it’s you.” She couldn’t stop staring at him. “Listen. We’ve been friends since we were babies, but lately—” A knock at the front door stopped her.

Author Bio

Lyndell Williams is an award-winning writer and bestselling author. She is a cultural critic with a background in literary criticism specializing in romance. She is an editor, writing coach and mentor. She has been published in peer-reviewed journals and writes for multiple online publications.

Author Links

Blog – https://laylawriteslove.com/ 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/laylawriteslove/ 

Twitter – https://twitter.com/laylawriteslove 

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/laylawriteslove/

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWpN2YTkr9cGO9Z7-AB8xNw

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/laylawriteslove 

Amazon – http://amazon.com/author/laylawriteslove

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/abdullahpoulos/lyndell-williams-author/

Newsletter – bit.ly/lwlnewsletter   

A talented prince, a woman with a free heart–fire or ice?

Get off Your High Horse

Love Down Under Book 3

by Cynthia Terelst

Genre: Contemporary Royal Romance

When two opposites collide, will their differences ignite a spark or send them into turmoil?

Frankie and Sebastian live totally different lives. Lives that are entwined through polo, the sport of kings.

Frankie’s a country girl, working hard toward her dream of turning the family farm around. She needs to endure one more polo season to make that happen. She has no interest in high society or the rich, arrogant riders she has to deal with, especially Sebastian. Her heart may be softening to his charm, openness and love of working with horses, but her brain won’t be convinced. She looks forward to her summer break on the farm, away from him, until her parents decide to invite Sebastian to stay.

Sebastian descends from royalty. Rich and arrogant come with his family title. But that status is something he’d rather avoid, just like he avoids returning home to a life he doesn’t want. Sebastian sees a freedom in Frankie he wishes he had. Her life is full of love, family and horses; something he can only dream of. And her, he can dream of her. But a dream is all it will be, seeing as Frankie does her best to avoid him.

If only he can convince her to look past his title, and see that his hopes and dreams aren’t so different from hers.

Goodreads * Amazon

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56239045-get-off-your-high-horse

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Get-Off-Your-High-Horse-ebook/dp/B089Y1NDN9/

Excerpt

Sebastian

“Princes have many talents I’m sure you’re not aware of.”

“Such as?” She turned to face me; her body so close I could feel her breasts pressing against my chest.

“We like to roll around under the covers as well.”

“Is that so?” Her breath brushed against my lips. Her body pushed against mine, sending electricity through me. I imagined her standing there in her lace bra and matching knickers. I wrapped one arm around her back pulling her tightly against me. The other cupped the back of her head, tangled in her pony tail. Her lips met mine and opened and I sought out her tongue. Her hands found their way around my back and held tight.

I couldn’t let her go. I wouldn’t. I’d wanted to kiss her like this for months. This was so much better than what I’d imagined. My erection pressed against her. I deepened the kiss, holding her tight. She sighed into my mouth.

I shouldn’t have kissed her. I shouldn’t have invited her down the road of misery I would soon be facing. Only one of us should have a broken heart.

About the Author

Cynthia Terelst is a project officer by day and a writer by night. She is a contemporary romance writer who likes to share a little bit of history, some Australian scenery and a whole lotta love. Cynthia does not shy away from difficult topics, as she feels that they should not be ignored.

She lives in Queensland, Australia, where the sun shines at least 283 days a year.

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

Author Links

Website: http://cynthiaterelst.com
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/cynthiaterelstauthor

FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/572605370313807

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CynthiaTerelst

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

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/cynthia-terelst 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Cynthia-Terelst/e/B07ZCTX8SB

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19874340.Cynthia_Terelst

Giveaway

$20 Amazon

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

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Can miracles happen at Christmas?

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 “The Last Christmas?”

My father is 94-years-old and as you might expect, has had a number of serious medical, age-related events. Each time, we were told to prepare for his death. Each time, he survived. The fact was, my Dad wasn’t ready to die. And his children and his grandchildren weren’t ready to let him go either. So I started thinking about terminal diagnoses and how they are really a best guess, not a guarantee. That, of course, led to thoughts how a terminal diagnosis often causes people to give up and prematurely mourn the death of the person who is ill. I wondered how that impacted the outcome. And because I was preparing to write a holiday book, I also started thinking about the power of family, and how, time after time, families are capable of creating miracles.

That led me to “The Last Christmas.” Christmas truly is a time for miracles, and thought it important that everyone be able to experience one through the tale of the Wright Family.

Blurb:

When the doctors say there’s no hope, Santa begs to differ. After all, he claims, miracles are love combined with action to get the desired result. And at Christmas time, everyone deserves a miracle!

David Wright is dying from cancer. He is not expected to see another Christmas. At least that’s what the medical professionals say. Fortunately, Santa begs to differ. After all, modern medicine is nothing more than a best guess. Santa believes anything is possible until you give up. When Santa tells David’s wife, Joan, that heaven is full and she has to keep her husband alive, she is beside herself. She has no medical skills. How can she save anyone’s life? Set your skepticism aside as Santa embraces a family already mourning their father’s terminal diagnosis and teaches them that a Christmas miracle doesn’t always require heavenly intervention. Sometimes, all it takes is a family with enough love to create their own. As Santa says, a true miracle is when love combines with action to get the desired results. And only humans are capable of that. Will Santa’s words fall on deaf ears? Or will Team Wright find a way to save their father’s life?

Excerpt:

“It’s not about you, it’s about him, Joan,” a grumbly voice said. “You’re looking at this all wrong.”

Joan turned so fast she almost lost her balance. She glared at the old man who had spoken. He was around seventy, with ruddy cheeks and twinkling blue eyes. And thick white hair. Lots of white hair. Flowing over his shoulders, winding up in a very lush beard. On top of his head was perched a brightly colored red knit hat. She frowned. “Wait a minute. You’re Santa Claus. Without the red suit, but clearly, you’re him. I’d know you anywhere.”

The man bowed and with a smile, said, “At your service.” He gestured toward a park across the street. “Let’s take a walk.”

“Oh, no. I’m not going anywhere with you.” Joan shook her head. “I didn’t mean you actually were Santa Claus. Everyone knows he doesn’t exist. I just meant you looked like him. You’re just a man who looks like him. I don’t know you. Why would I…” She glared at him. “You’re not even wearing a red suit. And since when has Santa taken up armchair psychiatry?”  She ran a hand through her blonde hair. “I must be hallucinating.” Despite her objections, she followed him across the street.

Santa laughed. “My dear, I have been dispensing advice since I was old enough to talk and make people listen. God chose my role a long time ago and I have gotten very good at it.” He looked toward the heavens. “Sorry, old boy. Still working on that humility!” He chuckled. “Man never stops reminding me.” He smiled at Joan. “Do you sense any ill-intentions from me? Of course not. I’m Santa. All I want to do is talk.”

Joan reached out and touched his shoulder.

He laughed again. A laugh that came directly from his belly. “Yes, I’m real. Well, as real as a centuries-old spirit gets. I even eat all those cookies children leave me each year. And let me tell you, that’s a heavenly feat.” Again, he looked skyward. “Yes, sir, I am well aware that borders on gluttony. A sin. You know darn well it has nothing to do with gluttony and everything to do with the magic of Christmas, an affirmation that Santa is real. I do it for the children.” He smiled at Joan. “Sometimes, He gets a little overbearing with his angels.”

He smirked. “Even God has his faults. He is by no means perfect.” A strong wind swirled through the plaza, nearly catching his knitted cap. He clapped his hand on his head to hold it down. He whispered, “And he doesn’t take criticism too well, either.”

Joan stared at the man. Surely, she was losing it. Santa a spirit, an angel? He and God didn’t even travel in the same circles. She shook her head, trying to make the hallucination go away.

Santa sighed. “I know, I know. You’ve been taught that I’m not real. That I’m a myth. That’s a rumor started by Satan himself, the old devil. He can’t stand the fact that people embrace the goodness in the world. And that I spread good cheer. He would much rather unleash a plague and make people miserable. He hates Christmas. He hates that the birth of Christ is celebrated, and his birth, well, is not. He really can’t stand the fact that love binds people so tightly during the holidays.” Santa shook his fist toward the ground. “The fool pouts all through the holidays.” He then sat up straight and gazed at Joan. “Christmas is really about love, you know. All kinds of love. The type of love he’ll never have. Love of family, love of children, love of—”

“What the heck do you want?” Joan blurted. “People are starting to stare.”

Buy links:

“The Last Christmas” is scheduled for release in December 11, 2020 and will be available from all major booksellers, including–

Extasy Books:  Preorder Link Available November 27, 2020

ABOUT SEELIE KAY:

Seelie Kay is a nom de plume for a writer, editor, and author with more than 30 years of experience in law, journalism, marketing, and public relations. When she writes about love and lust in the legal world, something kinky is bound to happen!  In possession of a wicked pen and an overly inquisitive mind, Ms. Kay is the author of 18 works of fiction, including the Kinky Briefs series, the Feisty Lawyers series, The Garage Dweller, A Touchdown to Remember, The President’s Wife, The White House Wedding, and The President’s Daughter.

When not spinning her kinky tales, Ms. Kay ghostwrites nonfiction for lawyers and other professionals. She resides in a bucolic exurb outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she shares a home with her son and enjoys opera, gourmet cooking, organic gardening, and an occasional bottle of red wine.

Ms. Kay 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!

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/

Prior Books:

Kinky Briefs, http://www.extasybooks.com/kinky-briefs/

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

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

Kinky Briefs, Quatro, http://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-1734-5-kinky-briefs-quatro/

Kinky Briefs, Cinque, http://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2023-9-kinky-briefs-cinque/

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

A Touchdown to Remember, http://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-1504-4-a-touchdown-to-remember/

The President’s Wife, http://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-1795-6-the-presidents-wife/

Snatching Dianna, http://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2263-9-snatching-diana/

The President’s Daughter, http://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2032-1-the-presidents-daughter

Infamy, https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2291-2-infamy/

Seizing Hope, https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2349-0-seizing-hope/

Cult, https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2538-8-cult/

Hope, https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2658-3-hope/

The White House Wedding, https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2796-2-the-white-house-wedding/

Martimus, https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2862-4-martimus/

Fascinated by shapeshifters, Sydney Winward tells their bloody story

Bloodbond_w14492_ibWelcome to Sydney Winward and her new book, BLOODBOND!

Do you base your characters on real people or make them up from scratch?

All of my characters are made up from scratch. I have never used someone I know in my books, nor any of their qualities or personality traits. It’s not that people in my life aren’t interesting. But my characters are all unique and none of them fit the mold of others around me.

What genre do you write and how did you come to start writing that genre?

Surprisingly, I never saw myself as a paranormal writer. I was always into fairy tales and princesses. Magic and fantasy. So when I hatched an idea about a paranormal romance, with vampires of all things, I was skeptical at first because I had never dipped my toes in this genre. Although fantasy and magic will always have my heart, I have discovered a new love for the paranormal genre.

How did you get interested in writing fiction?

I have always been a daydreamer. I passed long car rides in my own head, thinking about stories and dreaming of romances. Reading about princesses, magic, and dragons was one of my favorite things to do growing up, and when I decided I wanted to write my own stories down, nothing could stop the pencil. (Yes, I wrote them all by hand in high school! My fingers will never forgive me for it.)

What are you reading right now? 

I am always on the lookout for new authors and new stories. Recently I came across an author named Blythe Carver. She writes historical western romances, and I’m seriously in love with them! I am slowly working my way down the list of her Westward Hearts series.

What’s something you’re good at?

Finding change on the ground. I got this skill from my dad! He’s found up to a hundred dollars worth of change on the ground in a single week. Although I have never found that much and he still holds the title of reigning champ, I aspire to win someday!

What superpower would you like to have?

Most definitely shapeshifting. If I could turn into any animal, human, or mythical creature, that would be the most amazing thing ever. Mystique from X-men is my favorite character, and she has the power to be able to shapeshift into anyone at any time.

Blurb for Bloodbond:

Zachariah Degore spent ten years locked under ground as a feral vampire. Now he has to redefine what it means to be healthy and whole. With his human life behind him, he starts anew in the vampire city of Ichor Knell with the vampire shah as his kin. He must prove he is worthy of his place in this new world.

Laurel Covaci is vampire elite, she would never court a feral vampire. After two hundred years she has yet to find a mate who meets with her satisfaction. She hides the pain of past hurt and abandonment behind a cold façade. Zach is confident that Laurel is the vampire for him, but can he break through her icy walls and convince her he’s the mate she’s been waiting for?

TwitterBloodbond

Excerpt 1:

She stared at him. And stared. Until it became uncomfortable.

So he stood and started to pack up his things, but she glared at him and pointed to his seat.

“Sit.” He did. Who could disobey a tone like that? “You can’t kill?” she asked incredulously. “You only recently came out of being feral, correct?” He nodded. “And you can’t kill? Human blood doesn’t send you into a rage. You refused to drink from the goblet at the service.”

“Have you been spying on me?” Laurel

She ignored his comment, and her mouth puckered slightly as if in deep concentration. He couldn’t help but stare. He’d never seen her do it before. Another endearing quality he added to the lengthy list of what made Laurel Covaci absolutely perfect.

“I have searched high and low, but I simply cannot find any answers to this particular conundrum,” she finally said. Heat rose to his ears. She’d been thinking about him?

He grinned. “Well, well, Lady Covaci. I didn’t realize I was filling up your thoughts.”

She blushed prettily, and he almost expected her to get up from the table and leave, regretting she even sat down in the first place. But she stayed put. In fact, she stared right back as if challenging him. He enjoyed the eye contact. Her eyes were so blue. So beautiful. They took him back to green fields of his childhood, of staring back at the blue sky as clouds lazily drifted past.

Excerpt 2:

“You obviously won’t bring up what is ailing you,” Oriel said, “therefore, I will. What is it?”

Her scowl deepened as she glared at a patch of red flowers that didn’t deserve her anger. “Zachariah is receiving mounds of handkerchiefs, and I fear it will interfere with his learning.”

He grinned slyly as he turned to face her. She didn’t like that look, as if he knew something she didn’t.

“I believe you are experiencing feelings of jealousy. Laurel, you are in love with Zachariah Degore.”

Shock hit her like a sleigh slamming into her at breakneck speed. Never in her life had she expected to hear the words “Laurel”, “Zachariah”, and “love” in the same sentence. Still, she shook her head stubbornly, but in her shock, she tripped on her bad foot, wincing as pain shot up her leg. She lowered herself onto a stone garden bench and took her slipper off, massaging the place where it hurt most while Oriel hovered worriedly.

“I am not in love with Zachariah,” she insisted. “We are only friends and I am simply worried about his studies.”

“Then why is your heart beating like a hummingbird’s wings?” he teased.

This time, she directed her scowl at her brother. “Curse you, Oriel. Mind your own business.”

“Your business is my business. I never liked Luca, but I like Zachariah plenty. I approve of a union between the two of you.” He sat beside her, draping an arm across her shoulders. “Zachariah is Dracula’s kin. He won’t be on the market for long.”

“I know,” she grumbled miserably, though she admitted to nothing. She was afraid to tell even herself that she felt more for Zachariah than just friendship.

Excerpt 3:

lavender-3576129_1920She giggled, but her smile quickly faded as she bit her lip and walked along the table, looking deep in thought. “I heard Jenica Avery gave you a handkerchief,” she said casually, running a finger down the long, wooden table and inspecting the lack of dust.

“Yes?” he replied. Why did it matter? It was a dumb, old handkerchief. “I am awaiting Adam’s reply about whether or not vampires can also be witches. Right after she gave it to me, a hoard of females attempted to do the same. Are you aware that I have to hide in the castle? Every time I go outside, I nearly get trampled by vexed females.”

She snorted in laughter, but quickly clamped her hands around her mouth. He grinned at her lapse in self-control and couldn’t deny that he liked it. A lot.

Clearing her throat, she stood poised and elegant, the perfect example of grace. “You hide in the castle? One would think you would rather choose to court one of these vexed females.”

He sighed with his arms resting on the table, looking longingly at Laurel’s lips he desperately wanted to kiss. “Perhaps someday. But the right female has yet to be vexed. Still, I am convinced witchcraft is to blame. No one wanted to walk on the same side of the street as me several weeks ago. Now females are chasing me? I don’t think there is any other explanation for it other than witchcraft.”

“Zachariah,” she breathed, and her tone made him lift his head warily. Her expression looked serious, and he wondered for a moment if he’d said something wrong. “I am getting the distinct impression that you don’t know what you look like.”

He tilted his chair back and shook his head, watching her curiously. “The last time I was able to look back at myself in a mirror was thirteen years ago when I was still a human. I’m sure I have changed quite a bit since then. I always imagined I looked like Adam.”

“You don’t,” she said, placing her hands on top of the chair across from him as she gazed back. “Well, perhaps to a certain degree. I can tell you two are brothers. But Adam doesn’t have that…thing that attracts females. That charisma. That striking quality.”

A flush crept up his neck. Was she trying to say he was handsome? Did Laurel think he was handsome?

About the Author:

SydneyWinwardAuthorSydney Winward was born with an artistic brain and a love of discovery for new talents. From drawing to sewing to music, she has loved to explore every opportunity that comes her way. At a young age, Sydney discovered her love of writing, and she hasn’t been able to stop writing since. Her active imagination and artistic mind take her away to different worlds and time periods, making every new story a fantastic adventure. When she is not writing (or fawning over animals in the neighborhood) she spends time with her husband and children at home in Utah.

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvqlfMc19Is

Buy Links: Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Applebooks

Social Media Links: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon Author Page ~ Instagram

This scavenger hunt may have love as a prize — new from Cynthia Terelst

Thanks to author Cynthia Terelst for being with us today, with her new release, LET SLEEPING DOGS LIE.

 First, would you tell us a bit about yourself? 

Hi Everyone, Here are some random facts about myself:

I live in Queensland, Australia with my two cats, Kimmy and Possum. Kimmy was adopted from a local refuge and Possum was a foster fail through a rescue. I foster kittens for a local rescue. When I don’t have any in my home, I have withdrawal symptoms.

My mum lives a few streets away and visits every week. My daughter lives over 100km away. We talk every day, multiple times.

A lot of my friends love coffee and cannot function without one. I am not one of those people. I drank coffee once, when I was a teenager, and have never gone back. Every now and then I will have a hot chocolate. I usually drink water or sugar free cordial. I like to go all out and have a glass of soft drink with dinner.

I do not have any formal training in writing, in fact my degree is in commerce, which is funny really when you think that numbers and words are opposites. I don’t think you need an education in writing to be a good writer.  Although, having an understanding of structure, flow and grammar helps. I try to attend inline classes run through my state’s writing centre when something of interest comes along. But I think the most I learn is by listening to others, especially a close writing friend I work with.

Tell us about your most recent publication?

Let Sleeping Dogs LieMy second novel, Let Sleeping Dogs Lie was published on 30 June. It is a second chance romance that revolves around a scavenger hunt. A completely made-up scavenger hunt.

What inspired you to write this story? 

Last year my daughter moved to a new town for work. I put up a post about the two pubs in town and a friend commented saying it sounded like it was a puzzle. Then I thought, that sounds like a fun idea for a novel, I’m going to write about a scavenger hunt.
What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today? Any special memories you have in the creation of it?

You would think coming up with places to hide a treasure and thinking up clues would be easy. But it was quite a challenge. You need enough details so that the participants can get to the right answer, but then be vague enough that they can’t get the answer easily. I learnt quite a bit about Sydney and its history.

How would you best describe your books?

My motto for my writing is – I like to share a little bit of history, some Australian scenery and a whole lotta love. One reader said my stories are not lovey dovey and that would be right. Even though they are romance they are not sickly sweet. I like to throw some real-life issues in there because I feel like they should be spoken about, even if it is in some small way. Some issues I have dealt with in my writing is loss, domestic violence and addiction.

What is your favorite genre to write? To read?

I write romance but read just about anything – romance, thrillers, YA fantasy, dystopian. If it’s good, I’ll read it. I have even tried space opera.

What do you most like about writing? Least like? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

I like creating characters who are believable and who readers can root for. I enjoy adding Australian slang into my writing. Australia is such a unique country and I like sharing some of our culture with the world.

I wrote my first full length novel when I was sixteen.  Life interrupted and I put writing aside for over twenty years. Now I am back at it and I feel like I am doing what I am supposed to do.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?

I belong to Queensland Writers Centre and sometimes I join their online courses. I am a subscriber to many writing newsletters but find I don’t have enough time to read through them all. One of my favourite writing craft books is, The Emotional Craft of Fiction.

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

Sometimes, I listen to music, sometimes I don’t. When there was a clue in Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, that remotely related to Elton John, I listened to his music for fun.

Tell us a little about your path to publication. 

This is the second novel I have published. It sure has been a big learning curve. There is so much involved in getting a book published – writing, self editing, beta readers, professional editing, proofreading, formatting. Indie authors cover all of these costs. Leading up to publication there is a whole big launch plan to follow and then marketing.

What are you writing now? What’s next for you—will you be making personal appearances anywhere our readers can find you?

Next, I am writing a royal romance. The ideas haven’t been fully fleshed out yet. I am hoping a library talk I was invited to attend will be rescheduled soon.

What would you like to tell readers?

I would like to encourage readers to leave reviews for books they read. This is especially important for indie authors who don’t have big publishing houses behind them. Even a two sentence review is helpful. Reviews help new readers find our books.

Blurb

Will one of the treasures they find be each other’s heart?

It’s been five years since Tara walked out of Shepherd’s life without a word. Since then he’s spiralled through drugs, alcohol and empty relationships, with Tara on his mind the whole time. Now he wants to win her back, and what better way to do it than by creating a fake scavenger hunt? He knows she won’t be able to resist.

Tara’s lost enough loved ones and she didn’t want to see Shepherd added to that count. So, when she saw him high at graduation, she did the only thing she could – she walked away. When she’s teamed up with him for a million dollar scavenger hunt, the feelings reignite. For a second chance at love to work, she needs to be brave enough to open up to him, to tell him everything she withheld the first time around.

Shepherd didn’t realise how much winning would mean to Tara. He now needs to come up with $3 million for her foundation before the hunt is over. If he can’t he will need to tell her its all fake, and he doesn’t know if he can risk that.

Will secrets destroy them a second time around?

Excerpt

Tara

Shepherd and I sat on the couch side by side and watched The Martian while we ate dinner. The warmth from where our arms touched seeped through me. I should have moved away, but I didn’t want to. The spices from the tacos radiated off him. What would they taste like when mixed with the sweetness of him? My eyes were drawn to his lips, the curve of them. I could practically feel their softness.

Shepherd turned his face to mine. My eyes lingered for a moment as I imagined his soft breath brushing my face as he bent his head toward me. My breathing shallowed to the point that it was nearly non-existent, as if I were a starfish. I turned my face away and resumed watching the movie, making sure my hands kept to themselves and my thoughts remained on the man saving his own life on the screen. Matt Damon may have been the most attractive astronaut I’d ever seen, but he was nothing compared to Shepherd.

The movie ended and I sat there while the credits rolled. Our closeness suddenly made me feel like we were in a flux capacitor. Time—five years of it—had been starved, and now it was swallowing me whole. Everything about Shepherd felt like home. Everything. And if I allowed it to, this feeling wouldn’t just swallow me, it would become me.

I jerked away from him, my heart racing, my skin cold, while I broke into a sweat. I couldn’t allow this to happen. Shepherd was no longer my solace. He never truly was because he never knew my grief. My grief over my brother. The feelings of loss at my parent’s death.

No, Shepherd was not my solace. Not then. Not now.

Buy Link

https://www.amazon.com/Sleeping-Dogs-Love-Down-Under-ebook/dp/B082HQDV66/

Author photoAuthor Bio

Cynthia Terelst is a project officer by day and a writer by night. She is a contemporary romance writer who likes to share a little bit of history, some Australian scenery and a whole lotta love. Cynthia does not shy away from difficult topics, as she feels that they should not be ignored.

She lives in Queensland, Australia, where the sun shines at least 283 days a year.

Social Media Links

Website http://cynthiaterelst.com/

Newsletter https://www.subscribepage.com/p9p9y0

Twitter https://twitter.com/CynthiaTerelst

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

Facebook For the Love of Words FB Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/572605370313807/

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

BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/cynthia-terelst

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/Cynthia-Terelst/e/B07ZCTX8SB/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/cynthiaterelst

Linktree – https://linktr.ee/cynthiaterelst

 

 

Drawn into voodoo revenge–#MFRWHooks

When her big trial goes bad, corporate attorney Brianna Ward can’t wait to get out of VoodooDreams_w7507_medPittsburgh. The Big Easy seems like the perfect place to rest, relax, and forget about the legal business. Too bad an obnoxious–but handsome–lawyer from a rival firm is checking into the same bed and breakfast.

Attorney Evan Farrell has Mardi Gras vacation plans too. When he encounters fiery and attractive Brianna, however, he puts the Bourbon Street party on hold. He’d much rather devote himself to her–especially when a mysterious riddle appears in her bag, seeming to threaten danger.

Strangely compelled to follow the riddle’s clues, Brianna is pulled deeper into the twisted schemes of a voodoo priest bent on revenge. To escape his poisonous web, she must work with Evan to solve the curse. But is the growing love they feel for each other real? Or just a voodoo dream?

BUY LINK: https://www.amazon.com/Alana-Lorens/dp/1628300450/ref=sr_1_8?dchild=1&keywords=Alana+Lorens&qid=1591129683&s=books&sr=1-8

In the swamp, the fire illuminated the multi-tiered altar and some of those who gathered around it.  Painted with tribal markings in black and white, the three drummers’ faces
stood out like bare skulls against the reflected flames.
The people in the back row were silhouettes only, dark outlines swaying to the rhythm of the drums.
On the altar, Brianna identified a Damballah cross on the top level, surrounded by a number of unlit candles, and some small statues. On the next level sat a bottle of liquor. A large bowl and some cups on a tray were laid out before it, and what looked like a loaf of bread next to a large machete, blade gleaming in the firelight. Bright, tropical flowers decorated all the levels.
Finally, on the ground to the left of the table was a large box with a screen on the front, that appeared to be a carrying case for an animal, something alive.
A snake. 

It was one thing to see these items laid out in a cold array at a museum; quite another when an actual voodoo ritual was taking place before her eyes.
Avoiding the thrill of fright blazing through her, she focused on the table, searching for clues to why she and Evan had been summoned.
As the drums continued their spellbinding beat, a dark figure eased into the light before nola-pcola-012the altar, a tall, slender person dressed in black. Moving gracefully to the rhythm, the priest approached, bearing a tall black candle, which he used to light the other candles.
Eyes closed, chanting words Brianna could not understand, the priest turned slowly around to face the others. Those seated before him on rough wooden benches rocked from side to side.
She gasped when she recognized the man as Copper, dressed as she’d seen him in her mind’s eye when she’d touched that first note, a red turban on his head and, on his face, jagged red paint slashes like bloody lightning.
Instinctively, she pulled back, hoping they couldn’t be seen in the shadows.
He turned to the altar and lit two long sticks of incense, which soon filled the clearing with an exotic smoky scent. Walking in lock-step with the beat of the drum, he reached for a cup and one of the bottles. He poured red liquid into the cup, then held it up.
The drums stopped.
He spoke loudly in English, gesturing with the cup to the four corners of the clearing.
“By the power of St. Anthony of Padua, Legba Atibon, guardian of the crossroads, Legba, guardian of the bush, Legba, guardian of the house, Ago, ago si, Ago la!”
After the words passed, the drummers played again, even louder. Copper took a drink of the liquid, pouring some also into the fire where it hissed into smoke. He handed the closest drummer the bottle, and he drank from it, then passed it to the man on his left.
mfrw-book-hooks400He drank as well, and did the same. Whatever was in the bottle seemed to inspire them. Their drums reverberated with sound until Brianna could hardly breathe.
Copper leaned down before the altar, shaking something onto the ground. Brianna couldn’t see what he was doing, so she inched up until she stood behind the thick tree trunk next to her. He held some sort of painted tin, and from it, he dropped a white substance on the dirt in a distinct design.
“What’s that?” Evan whispered.
“That would be the veve,” Brianna whispered back. “It’s the sign for a particular deity or spirit. First, there should be the drummer’s veve, then there will be others, depending on which spirit they are calling forward.”
Her heart pounded so hard, she couldn’t believe Copper didn’t hear it.
Copper drew a second figure on the ground. The drums’ rhythm changed. Several people in flowing robes rose from the first row and began a seductive, erotic dance. The dancers thrust their hips forward and sideways in a frenzied manner, moving around the fire
kettles oblivious to each other until the drums stopped again. They froze.
“Gator Guede, le bon ton roulette, ye, ye, ye.”
He raised the cup to the sky, then took a long drink before dumping some in the fire, causing it to flare up.
He poured the remaining contents of the bottle into the large bowl, then added a red liquid Brianna hoped was wine, swirling the bowl in a large gesture before his chest.
The drums beat a new rhythm, so compelling Brianna could hardly keep still. The lead dancer took the bowl from Copper and passed it among the participants.
When all had drunk, the dancers returned to the area before the fire and danced again, the drummers changing rhythm to something more primal. The silhouettes moved between Brianna, Evan and the fire, rotating their shoulders and bouncing up and down.
They left a respectful space between themselves and Copper, who continued to create more designs on the ground, evenly spaced and spreading out toward the edges of the clearing.
He began to chant again, this time echoed by a chorus from those seated on the ground. Brianna felt herself drawn into the give-and-take, her head and thoughts growing fuzzy.
“Do you know what they’re saying?” Evan asked.
Brianna pulled herself back with difficulty. She shook her head, a little dazed.masked girl
Here, hold my hand,” she whispered. “I feel so strange. If I look like I’m getting—” She stopped, unsure how to explain what she was experiencing.
She didn’t believe in this stuff. Not at all.
Then why do I feel like there’s spiders crawling around inside me?

https://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=297338

Wild Rose Pass: an adventure in learning for the author

Readers, please welcome author Karen Hulene Bartell!

Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog. It’s a pleasure to be here!
Writing Wild Rose Pass was a stretch for me because I’d never written in the Frontier, Western, or Historical genres before—no ghosts and nothing paranormal. Adding to my dilemma, the timeline was 1880 Texas, so every phrase they spoke, every idiom they used, every food they ate, every dress and uniform they wore, as well as the roles they played, all had to be double-checked for historical accuracy. Writing it was slow going.

And although romance is always a part of my novels, I’d never written a true “Romance” before, so I had to learn how to write from two points of view and speak in both the heroine’s and hero’s voices. With few exceptions, I’d always written from the female POV. Suddenly, I had to give equal time to a male POV, often in the same scene—but from the other’s perspective.

I learned how women and men communicate differently. Men are more concise in their speech. An article in The Guardian noted that the male brain is more visual-spatial and better adapted to mathematics, while the female brain is more adept at communication. A BBC post by Claudia Hammond stated that women speak 20,000 words per day compared to men’s 7,000 words per day—men prefer action to talk.

Because the men in Wild Rose Pass were officers in the cavalry, accustomed to giving orders, I wrote their dialogue in short, terse bursts, using simple subject-verb sentences. Additionally, the hero Ben had been raised by Comanches, who taught him that “Men keep their own counsel” and “Men don’t whine.” Trained to keep his thoughts to himself, he spoke guardedly, even when he wanted to express himself.
Besides those restraints, Ben had no formal schooling. Self-taught, he felt embarrassed about his lack of education—especially when compared to the heroine, who had attended school out East. With his feelings of inadequacy, he chose his words carefully, even when he “opened up.”

Despite my learning curve, I enjoyed writing Wild Rose Pass and had fun getting into the Old West mindset. Maybe it reminded me of the old Westerns I used to watch as a kid ��

Blurb:

Cadence McShane, free-spirited nonconformist, yearns to escape the rigid code, clothes, and sidesaddles of 1880s military society in Fort Davis, Texas. She finds the daring new lieutenant exhilarating, but as the daughter of the commanding officer, she is expected to keep with family tradition and marry West Point graduate James West.

Orphaned, Comanche-raised, and always the outsider looking in, Ben Williams yearns to belong. Cadence embodies everything he craves, but as a battlefield-commissioned officer with the Buffalo Soldiers instead of a West Point graduate, he is neither accepted into military society nor considered marriageable.

Can two people of different worlds, drawn together by conflicting needs, flout society and forge a life together on the frontier?

Excerpt:

Reining his horse between catclaw and prickly-pear cactus, Ben Williams squinted at the late summer sun’s low angle. Though still midafternoon, shadows lengthened in the mountains. He clicked his tongue, urging his mare up the incline. “Show a little enthusiasm, Althea. If we’re not in Fort Davis by sunset, we’ll be bedding down with scorpions and rattlesnakes.”

As his detachment’s horses clambered up Wild Rose Pass, the only gap through west Texas’ rugged Davis Mountains, Ben kept alert for loose rocks or hidden roots, anything that might trip his mount. A thick layer of fallen leaves created a pastiche of color shrouding the trail from view. He glanced up at the lithe cottonwood trees lining the route, their limbs dancing in the breeze. More amber and persimmon leaves loosened, fell, and settled near the Indian pictographs on their tree trunks.

When he saw the red- and yellow-ochre drawings, he smiled, recalling the canyon’s name—Painted Comanche Camp.

“How far to Fort Davis, lieutenant?” called McCurry, one of his recruits.

“Three hours.” If we keep a steady pace.

Without warning, the soldier’s horse whinnied. Spooking, it reared on its hind legs, threw its rider, and galloped off.

As he sat up, the man groaned, caught his breath, and stared into the eyes of a coiled rattler, poised to strike. “What the…?” Flicking its tongue, hissing, tail rattling, the pit viper was inches from the man’s face.

A sheen of sweat appeared above the man’s lip. “Lieutenant—”

 

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 About the Author:

Author of the Trans-Pecos, Sacred Emblem, Sacred Journey, and Sacred Messenger series, Karen is a best-selling author, motivational keynote speaker, wife, and all-around pilgrim of life. She writes multicultural, offbeat love stories that lift the spirit. Born to rolling-stone parents who moved annually, Bartell found her earliest playmates as fictional friends in books. Paperbacks became her portable pals. Ghost stories kept her up at night—reading feverishly. The paranormal was her passion. Westerns spurred her to write (pun intended). Wanderlust inherent, Karen enjoyed traveling, although loathed changing schools. Novels offered an imaginative escape. An only child, she began writing her first novel at the age of nine, learning the joy of creating her own happy endings. Professor emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin, Karen resides in the Hill Country with her husband Peter and her “mews”—three rescued cats and a rescued *Cat*ahoula Leopard dog.

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