Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tina Susedik Had Help Finding The Trail To Love #Giveaway

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 2 comments
Tina Susedik is a multi-published author with
books in both fiction and non-fiction, including history, children’s, and military books.
Her favorite is writing romance stories where her characters live happily ever after.
The Trail To Love is her sixth book with Soul Mate Publishing.
Tina usually works alone, but she had collaborators for her latest book, The Trail to Love. 
I invited her to tell her adventure.
(Tina is giving away an e-book of The Trail to Love and an e-book of Never With A Rich Man. You can enter to win at the end of this post.

In the past few years, I have had the pleasure of watching my grandchildren learn to love reading and writing.
When one of my granddaughters was ten (she is now 13), we wrote and published a children’s book, “Uncle Bill’s Farm,” together. Now my grandson, (age 8) says he’s ready to help me write the next one. Yes! I wrote my first published children's book with my son, Christopher Corbin when he was ten. It was published when he turned twenty-five.
Two years ago, when I was watching the three of them, my son-in-law came home from work. He stood in the kitchen and stared at us. We were all scribbling away in notebooks. It was dead silent in the house. “What are you guys doing?” “Shh, Daddy. We’re all writing our own story about an elf.” 
I can't begin to tell you how much I love this. Excuse me. I'll stop interupting.
The reason I bring this up is because last year I was approached to be part of The Soul Mate Tree Collective. It involves an old, ancient tree that appears to a person when they are at their deepest, darkest point in their life and lets them know who their soul mate will be. 
Of course, they don’t believe it, because a tree simply can’t appear out of nowhere. 
There are thirteen authors in the collective. We could write in any genre and in any time. Once a month another book comes out.
I was excited to be asked to join this group and told my granddaughters about it. They were in third (Emmi) and sixth (Alli) grades at the time. I said I thought I’d write a historical, maybe a western. 
It took two seconds for Alli to yell out, “The Oregon Trail. They have to go from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon.” I think they must have been studying it in school.
“I have to come up with characters – a hero and heroine." 
“Jack Billabard,” Alli yelled. 
“How on Earth did you come up with that name?” 
“I don’t know, it was just popped into my head.” 
I was impressed.
For the next few hours, the girls researched, took notes, came up with my characters, the clothing they’d wear, the dogs they would have that would fall in love and have puppies, and a bit of a plot. 
Did you know you can put two breeds of dogs into the computer and it will show you what their puppies would look like? I hadn’t.
At one point I said my heroine, Sarah (“Make sure it has an ‘H’ at the end,” Emmi said.) was going to be married, but her husband dies. 
Emmi, who didn’t quite understand what it was like in the past said, “You have to have horses. Her husband (and I’m writing this exactly as she has it in her notes) “he died of rasing and the hores nockted him of and he brock his knek.” This last part was said with a twisting of her neck, dropping it to her shoulder and making a neck-breaking sound. This is exactly how I had Sarah’s husband die. How could I not?

I have their hand-written notes, which I’ll never get rid of. 
I dedicated “The Trail to Love” to them, but because it has two love scenes, they can’t read it – until they’re much, much older. I will catch them randomly working on stories, either on the computer or in a notebook. Alli is like most writers – it’s fun to start a new story, but has trouble finishing it. That's wonderful. You've started them on the path as writers. When they are finally old enough to read the entire book, they will be so proud. I know they already are - to have had a hand in it. 

Jack Billabard, mourning the loss of his wife and baby in childbirth, vows to never to love again. After their funeral at Fort Laramie, he rides into the Wyoming hills beyond the ranch he built for his wife. Through his grieving tears, an ancient tree appears, giving him the hope he doesn't believe is possible. For the next four years, he acts as a guide on the Oregon Trail, taking families to a new life while his looms lonely and stagnant.
The night before her abusive husband’s death, an ancient tree appears in Sarah Nickelson's yard as she agonizes over how to survive her marriage. The tree gives her hope she can’t help but reject. After all, a tree doesn't just appear out of nowhere. After her husband 's death, and with no options as a widow in Independence, Missouri, Sarah decides to travel to Oregon City as a Mail Order Bride.
During their trek west on the Oregon Trail, Jack and Sarah encounter one another, each afraid of being hurt again. Can they survive dogs and puppies, wind and rainstorms, Indians and unfavorable fellow passengers, while their love blossoms? Will the tree fulfill its promise?

Short Excerpt:
Cold seeped into his bones. Something warm blew across his face and ears. Jack swatted at his ears and peeled one gritty eye open.
"Papaya!" He pushed at the horse's nose. "Go away." Papaya continued prodding at him. "Damn horse." He rubbed his cold hands together.
In the dim light, he wasn't sure if it was morning or evening. The previous day's events came back to him. He sat up and wiped a hand over his stubbly chin. Tears burned behind his eyes.
Papaya tugged at his sleeve until the only thing he could do was stand. "Dammit, horse, leave me alone." He pushed the horse to the side. The sun rising behind the mountains from the east cast a shadow on a tree Jack swore hadn't been there the night before.
Standing at least twenty feet high, the trunk was twisted and gnarled like the arthritic hands of his grandfather. Several roots rose from the ground making it look as if it would walk away. Some of its massive branches drooped close to the ground, like arms dragging across the grass.
As the sky lightened, he realized that, unlike the rough bark of the pines at this altitude, the tree's light brown bark was smooth. Was it the lighting, or did some of the bark actually seem golden while in other places it was rough and dark brown? The surrounding trees paled in comparison.
Jack stepped closer. Pale green, oval leaves reminded him of an elm tree, only much smaller. When the wind blew, the undersides shimmered with a silvery glow.
Had he been so distraught yesterday he'd missed the massive structure? The tree seemed to beckon, calling him to its embrace. He dipped beneath its branches.
His hand shook as he reached out to touch the trunk. The instant he came in contact, his icy fingers warmed. Then his arm. He tried to pull away, but he couldn't move.
Warmth spread through his body then settled in his aching heart. Was he hallucinating or was the tree humming? Had the tree actually whispered, "Love will come."
A calmness settled over him and the darkness of the past few days diminished.
Between the hanging branches a person, surrounded by a foggy haze, appeared. Actually, two people. One tall, the other waist high, with a smaller version of Jack's hat on its head. Suspenders held up too-short pants over the little one's plaid shirt. A woman and a boy? They held hands, swinging them back and forth as if they hadn't a care in the world. The woman's bonnet hung down her back, loose hair flowing to her waist.
Was the tree showing him what Lily and his child would have been like if they'd lived? His heartbeat pounded in his ears, and he swore his heart cracked. As quickly as the despair washed over him, the tree hummed again and his heart warmed and peace settled through him.
Then the woman looked over her shoulder. This wasn't Lily. The sun struck the vision. Instead of his wife's dark hair, this woman's shimmered like gold. Even from this distance, her sparkling blue eyes pierced through him.
Her smile beckoned him, and when she crooked her finger, all he could do was follow. The closer he came, the farther away they moved, until their bodies faded and nothing stood before him except the large boulder he'd slept against.
The tree. What if he touched the tree again? He pivoted on his foot, ready to run back and feel the twisted branches. What the hell? Maybe he'd lost his bearings while chasing the woman and boy. He spun in each direction. Nothing. The tree was gone. Poof. Was he losing his mind and dreaming the whole incident?
Something light brown on the ground caught his eye. Jack picked it up, his fingers warming at its touch. Bark from the disappearing tree? Had it all been real after all? If so, then where had the woman and boy gone?
Jack retraced the steps he'd taken to follow them. Only his own impressions in the dirt showed. He was going crazy. That was it. Crazy from grief. Maybe what he needed was to get away from the land and the memories it held.
Papaya pushed against Jack's back, nearly knocking him to the ground.
"What do you think, old boy?" He ran his hand over the horse's soft nose and recalled Samuel Hunt's offer of a job from before he’d married Lily. "Should I see if Sam still needs someone to help take those crazy emigrants to Oregon?"
As if he understood what Jack was saying, Papaya nodded his large head.
"Well, since I'm already crazy, I might as well listen to you."
After a quick breakfast of cold biscuits and hard tack, he swung onto Papaya's back and headed back down the mountain. Back to his empty home and future.
Book Trailer for The Soul Mate Tree: https://youtu.be/VjxyyD3TVoA

Trailer for THE TRAIL TO LOVE:  https://youtu.be/WUm0whWw1Z0
Thank you for being her, Tina. The book sounds great. Please congratulate Alli and Emmi for me on their great ideas. The giveaway is below. Happy Reading.
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Twitter: @tinasusedik
Website: TinaSusedik.com
Facebook: Tina Susedik, Author
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Robyn Carr's new book Any Day Now # Review and Giveaway.

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 3 comments
Any new Robyn Carr book is a cause for celebration as far as I am concerned.
I received an ARC of Any Day Now in return for an honest review. And, since Robyn was the keynote speaker at The California Dreaming Writer's Conference, I got it autographed.
Then I was sent a hardback copy. Now you know I am keeping one for myself. But the giveaway is Reader's Choice. The hardback copy or the autographed softcover ARC.

Any Day Now, book 2 in the Sullivan’s Crossing series, is a stand-alone novel.

There is never one story in a Robyn Carr book. That’s one of the beauties of them. The main story centers on Sierra Jones, a recovering alcoholic nine months sober, who’s come to Sullivan's Crossing to escape a shadowy figure from her past. She’s been drawn to this small town in Colorado because her brother Cal and his new wife have made a home there. It’s a chance to be near her favorite brother and make a new start.

Cal and Maggie welcome her into their busy lives and she quickly finds herself bonding with Sully, the quirky campground owner who is the father figure she's always wanted.

But when her past catches up with her, it's a special man, Connie (Conrad) Boyle, a firefighter with emotional wounds of this own, and an adorable puppy who give her the strength to face the truth and fight for a brighter future. In Sullivan's Crossing Sierra learns to cherish the family you are given and the family you choose.

There’s another charming story twining around the main story. The growing relationship between two single parents learning it’s possible to find romance even when you are overburdened, overworked and have teenagers.

Robyn Carr feels like my own personal Scheherazade. She draws you into the lives and problems of her characters and spins tales you always want more of. I know there will be another Sullivan’s Crossing book and I can’t wait to find out who the heroes are.
Any Day Now came out today, April 18th. If you would like to win one of my personal copies, enter below. Happy reading.
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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Help! Name the Bunny. #Reward

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 20 comments
I am revising chapter 2 of Kate's Hero.
Chapter 2 is when we first meet Dr. Michael Walsh, the hero.
I originally had him playing a Sudoku game trying to tune out a complaint he'd heard many times from a hypochondriac patient.
One of my critique partners said that made him unsympathetic. So I changed the scene and put in a three-year-old with a stuffed toy bunny.
I hate the name I came up with for the bunny. Please give me a new name for the bunny. And I wouldn't mind a new name for the three-year-old.
Reward: $5.00 Amazon gift card. The Rafflecopter is at the end of the chapter.
Here are the three bunny images I found.:

Bunny 1

Bunny 2

Bunny 3
Here's the little girl. This image matches her in my mind.
Here's the Chapter
Chapter 2 Michael
Parsonville, California
Dr. Michael Walshe removed his stethoscope from the tummy of Ashley Carter’s pink stuffed bunny. “Princess Fluffy is as healthy as a horse.”
“She’s not a horse,” the three-year -old protested. “She’s a rabbit.”
“Dr. Michael means there is nothing wrong with her, Ashley.” Her mother turned to Michael. “I am worried that she thinks her toy bunny is alive. Did I tell you how she . . .”
Michael tuned out Prissy Carter’s mosquito-like whine. He put the stethoscope to Ashley’s ears so she could hear her own heartbeat.
Ashley squealed in delight. “Let Princess Fluffy hear.”
Michael transferred the stethoscope’s earbuds to the bunny’s floppy ears. He heard a question mark in the stream of consciousness that was Prissy and nodded.
“That’s wonderful, Michael. I’m so glad you can come.” Prissy trilled.
Michael looked up. What had he agreed to?
 Prissy’s smile was scary. Full moist lips revealing pointed incisors. “Ashley’s been saying how much she wants Doctor Michael to come over and have dinner with her.”
Michael cursed himself for drifting off. He’d been avoiding that damn dinner invitation for months. The woman had too much money, a child she paid scant attention to, and a blatant desire to acquire him as Ashley’s next daddy.  One little bit of inattention  . . .
The intercom buzzed “Dr. Walshe, you have a call from Mrs. O’Brian on line one.”
Saved by the intercom.
“Sorry, Ashley, I have to take this.” Michael handed her a lollipop. “Don’t share this with Princess Fluffy,” he whispered. “Candy is bad for bunnies.” He turned to Prissy. “Ashley’s personification of her toy is perfectly normal. She has a healthy imagination.”
“I’m so relieved to hear that.” Prissy squeezed his fingers meaningfully. “Don’t forget. Saturday, at seven. See you then.”
He couldn’t refuse with that heart-shaped face beaming up at him. Michael waited till Prissy followed a skipping Ashley out the door before picking up the phone. “Essie, what’s wrong?”
Essie’s voice had more spring in it than he’d heard in months. “And can’t a body call you without being sick? I was wondering if you could drop by today, Michael, I’ve got to go home to Ireland and I’m not sure I can do it by meself.”
Couldn’t be a funeral. She sounded too perky. “Somebody getting married?”
“More than one, dear boy. I’ve got a mission to fulfill.”
Not good. That sounded delusional. “Of course I’ll come. I’ll even make dinner. Spaghetti ok?”
“That will be grand. I’ve some of your favorite shortbread on hand.” Essie lowered her voice to a whisper, “It’s not just the trip. I don’t know what to do about the cat.”
Relax. We’ll figure it out. See you soon.” He flicked the intercom. “Lynne, how many more patients?”
His nurse poked her head through the door. “Prissy was the last one. She told me she’s got a date with you for Saturday. How’d she manage that?”
“Ashley and I were doing a bunny checkup and I zoned out on Prissy’s voice.”
“Doctor Adorable bites the dust again.” Lynne lounged against the door frame, her rocker-punk hairstyle contrasting oddly with her broad moon face. Her daughter must have been playing hairdresser again.  “You know they wouldn’t try so hard if you weren’t hot.”
“Stuff it, Lynne.”
“I’m serious. You look exactly like the new doctor on As She Turns. Tall dark and dreamy.”
Michael turned on the faucets in the small office sink. Lynne needed a new hobby. “Watching soaps will rot your brain.”
“That hint of beard on your strong, manly chin. And that aloof but rumbly look in your eyes and . . .”
He took the last paper towel out of the dispenser. “We need more towels.”
 “Your only fault is you don’t have a romantic bone in your body.” Lynne clasped her plump hands over her Hello Kitty scrub top. “I’m having a fantasy here. Don’t ruin it.”
He would never understand women.  “What do you need a fantasy for? You’re in love with your husband.”
“So? He has fantasies too. Part of being happily married. His is Tracy Jay.”
Michael winced. Growing up with a well-known actress for a godmother meant he’d met lots of A-list stars, but his heart had been immune till Lorena introduced him to Tracy Jay at the wrap party for Just the Girls two years ago.
“Come on, Michael. Don’t you have fantasies?”
“None that I care to tell you about.” His relationship with Tracy was classified. Tracy had wanted it that way. He exchanged his white coat for the tan windbreaker he kept in the small closet. “I’m off to check on Essie. We have a dinner date. I’m making her my secret-recipe spaghetti sauce.”
“Big deal. I know you use Ragu.”
“What is it with this town? You know my grocery list?”
Lynne patted his cheek. “I think there’s a town website devoted to your every move.”
“Go home and annoy your children. We’re done for the day.”
Lynne blew him a kiss and shut the door behind her.
A quick stop at the market, and off to Essie’s. What kind of secret mission could she be fantasizing? His phone buzzed. Another phone call from Tracy. They’d been coming like clockwork all day. He pushed delete without answering.
Lynne’s question echoed in his mind. Don’t you have fantasies? His heart twisted, remembering his last sight of Tracy.
Not anymore..

Thanks for your help. I wish you a Happy Week

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Book in a Week & Camp Nano = First Draft.

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 1 comment

On April 9, 2015, I started the Book in A Week challenge. I attended April Kihlstrom's Book in a Week workshop at the 2015 California Dreaming Conference and I felt 50% sure I was equal to it. All I had to do was write 8,000 words a day.
I began writing at 10:00 AM. Sixteen hours later, I quit for the day. I had written about 6,000 words.
I knew I couldn't keep up that pace.
Everything was in my favor. Beautiful place to write. A chance to clear my mind every day with  Yoga and a walk on Ventura Beach. Zero interruptions. . . .

My brain wouldn't cooperate. Jen, my main character, veered off course, taking the plot with her. My subconscious took over the writing. Good, yes? Ummmm.
My subconscious spent a lot of time meditating. Tidbit by tidbit, it released plot points.
Day 2. 4,000 words.
By the end of the week, I had 33,000 words; a plot that scared me, and a determination to see it through.
Fortunately, it was April. I turned to CampNaNoWriMo for encouragement, I am a deadline junkie. I need chocolate, coffee and a goal. I highly recommend Camp NanoWriMo.
At 11:00 PM on April 30th, I typed The End on Maybe This Time.
Trumpets sound. Angels sing Hosanna
I had my first draft.
I'd gone through the fire and survived and I think my time travel logic will hold. It was a real cliffhanger. I wasn't sure Google or my subconscious would tell me how to solve it.

I am now going to make Paleo Chocolate Chili Fudge. I ate the last batch during the final three days.

Best things about writing

1.You get to create your own world.
2. If you let them, your characters will astound you.
3.The joy of learning something new.
4. Someone invented the computer and gave writers a new set of tools. Cut. Paste. Spell check and, best of all, Cntrl & Z which undoes your last mistake (like erasing a whole chapter.)
5. Having a great critique group.
6. Going to SCBWI or RWA events
7. The call or email saying someone wants your work.
8. The first time you see your cover.
9. Good reviews.
10. Calling yourself a writer and believing it.

Worst things about writing

1. The no idea zone.
2. Your brain won't give you a sentence.
3. You hate your character.
4. The dead middle of the story.
5. Trying to find an agent.
6. Trying to find a publisher.
7. Rejection(ssssssssssssssssss)
8. Trying to keep up with social media.
9. Bad reviews.
10. Believing there are so many good books out there and why would anyone read yours?
Add to my list, please. What are your favorite and least favorite things about your career?

The happy Ending? Several rewrites and two critique groups later, Soul Mate Publishing accepted Maybe This Time and it  will be published July 12th, 2017