Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Any Rainy Thursday by Jessie Salisbury

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with No comments

Please welcome guest poster, Jessie Salisbury. Her newest book, Any Rainy Thursday comes out September 19th. 
We can’t really help it, but weather affects all of us in a wide variety of ways both good and bad – including the characters in our stories. In my newest book, Any Rainy Thursday, now on pre-sale and due out on Sept. 19, the weather is almost a character. The heroine owns a farm stand and her vegetable crops depend on the cooperation of sun and rain. The lovers meet in a wild August thunderstorm, revel in the warm gentle rains of summer, and the story concludes in the misty sleety drizzle of November. The cold of the approaching winter adds to her feeling of loss and desperation.
Rain is life-giving. It washes the air clean of dust and car fumes and the breeze brings us the scents of new mown grass, the Christmasy smell of pine trees, the lingering aroma of lilacs and June roses, and the heady scents of the herb garden and the field of wildflowers. Smells add to the ambience and invoke memories, good and bad.
Weather is full of the colors that bring life to our stories: the flaming orange sunrise above a cloud bank that presages a stormy day; the vanilla pudding sunrise of a cloudy day; the arch of clear blue above the picnic spot or the lakeside camp; the puffy fair weather clouds that fill a perfect summer day; the reds and purples that end a long full-filling day that brings hope for another; that sudden wash of clear green that follows the sunset just before the deep turquoise blue of evening.
We feel buoyed and confident on a clear day, ready to face whatever comes along; depressed and less sure on a cloudy one; apprehensive as a storm approaches; and several days of rain can leave us gloomy and depressed. A violent storm full of thunder and lightning can exhilarate us, or leave us trembling in fear, depending on the circumstances.
Being isolated by a snowstorm can be frightening, or a time for quiet contemplation by the fireplace until the roads are plowed. The snow can be a welcome blanket protecting the plants from the winter’s frosts, or an impediment to doing what is needed.  The first golden rays of sunlight after an ice storm can turn the commonplace into a glittering world of diamonds, but the frozen crust on the snow can shatter into razor-sharp shards.
It is all a matter of perspective, one we can use to advantage in any story to add a touch of beauty, of the magical, making the usual into something more, something that touches the soul. Weather is the scent of roses as well as the villain rain ruining our picnic. Let’s all make the most of it.
Jessie Salisbury
Althea owns a farm stand and she wants to make it as close to what her grandfather and uncle owned, if the weather and all will cooperate. The land is her heritage and she loves it. She needs a partner who understands that.

Miles is a wandering minstrel, the handsome, gifted musician who wants to win the lady's hear but never commit. He has never settled anywhere.
They meet in an August thunderstorm. Although the attraction isn't quite instantaneous, it grows, and Miles' painful past emerges as Althea discovers her own deeper desires. Can two such different personalities really connect?
If you would like to pre-order Any Rainy Thursday here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/Any-Rainy-Thursday-Jessie-Salisbury-ebook/dp/B07FB3Q5V1
As for me:
For the past 40 years I have covered several small towns for various newspapers, currently the Milford, NH Cabinet and the Nashua Telegraph.
Any Rainy Thursday is my sixth novel with Soul Mate, plus a collection of short stories. I am also the co-author of two history books Images of America- Wilton, Temple Lyndeborough, from Acadia Press, and Lyndeborough Central School 1949-2015, commissioned by the School Board. Currently, with two others, we are updating our town’s history, beginning in the 1890s and filling in omissions in our two previous histories, 1905 and 1955. It is a great – and fun – adventure.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Meet Claire Davon and Shifting Auras #giveaway audio code for Fire Danger

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

Meet Claire Davon, president of the Los Angeles chapter of RWA, LARA. And the author of a wonderful paranormal called Shifting Auras which came out last month from Soul Mate Publishing. My books are also published by Soul Mate. Since we were chapter-mates and fellow Soulies I immediately bought the book.
From my review: 
Great Fantasy/Romantic Suspense
Shades of X-Men! Here is a brand new steamy romance series featuring mutants. Dueling US and Russian paranormal agencies with a wildcard new agency in the game. I can’t wait for the next book.
Claire's giving away an audio code for the paranormal Fire Danger at the end of this post.
Claire, please tell us a little about yourself.
Hi, everyone! My name is Claire Davon and I am a part-time writer with a full-time day job. I actually love both jobs so I am one of the fortunate ones. I write paranormal and contemporary romance across all heat levels and I also write science fiction, fantasy, horror, you name it and I have probably tried to write it (except crime stories, I have no talent for those). When I’m not writing or wrestling television distribution contracts I can be found doing animal rescue or just enjoying a rare few free moments at the movies.

I love firsts, so tell me about the moment when a publisher told you they wanted to publish your book.
I remember it so clearly. A new employee had just started and I was showing her one of our systems when my phone notified me I had a message from Samhain Publishing. I had sent them an R&R (revise/resubmit for those who don’t know) about a month prior so I knew this had to be an answer. I told her “I have to look at this” and pulled up my email. When I saw it was an acceptance to publish Fire Danger, the first in my Elementals series, I wanted to dance and sing. But of course bosses shouldn’t do that around new employees, so I just smiled and said “this is a great day” and went back to showing her the system. Now, later I got to sing and dance…

If it isn’t too nosy. How about the first time you kissed your true love?
Ah…a nice girl doesn’t kiss and tell (unless she’s writing about it!)

Other than your own, who are your favorite (heroes/heroines/writers) in your genre?
Some of my writer heroines are ones I don’t read so much anymore. Laurell K. Hamilton, Sherilyn Kenyon and Christine Feehan formed the basis for my latent desire to write paranormal/fantasy and I devoured book after book of theirs. I still remember reading half a dozen Dark-Hunter books and thinking “yeah, that’s the stuff.”
For contemporary romance I am still in awe of Barbara Samuel O’Neal’s talent. I first discovered her as Ruth Wind and the combination of setting, mood, and emotion wowed me and continues to wow me to this day.

What is the most exciting moment, so far, in your writing career?
Well, definitely the story above is among my favorites but other than that I have to say that it was the days in which I decided that I was tired of saying I “was going” to write and got back to the business of writing. Before that I kept putting it off or fretting that I wasn’t good enough, blah blah blah but about six years ago I said “enough of this” and started writing again. I have never regretted it.
What is your favorite pastime, other than writing?
What is this thing you call free time? Haha. Honestly, I don’t have a lot of time between my job and staying focused on writing but when I do have that elusive thing I like to check out movies and certain TV shows. I tend to skew toward fantasy and science fiction, so the Star Wars movies, as well as Avengers and those sorts of things are among my favorites. Me too! I’m Geekish
How do you motivate yourself when inspiration takes a vacation?
I am one of those people who simply continue to write. I have had plenty of times when inspiration took a left turn when I took a right and I am staring at the screen going “I have no idea what to do.” But I have to stay focused because I have a demanding job and time is precious so I write no matter what. Even if I only keep 100 words out of my daily 1000 that’s a hundred more than I had the day before. My motivation is to see the words turn into chapters and turn into stories or novellas or novels day by day. I need to do what you are doing!

Any advice for new writers just starting out?
In the movie “Glengarry Glen Ross” Alec Baldwin’s character has his “ABCs” which are “always be closing.” My advice for new writers is “always be writing.” The only way to get better is to keep doing it. I found that as much as I thought my early work was the bomb dot com I could, and did, do better. Develop a daily practice of writing, however that looks, just to make sure that you have that routine going. Never be afraid to write messy but also be prepared to tear apart your darling and re-form them into something stronger.

Tell us about Shifting Auras. (I forgot to mention how much I love the cover.)
This book and this series has been so much fun to write. It started out as many of my stories do, with a half-remembered dream. Then it changed many times from the initial words to today’s story but the idea of a secret government agency that utilizes the extra powers of our heroes and heroines stuck with me. There actually was such an agency decades ago called the Stargate Project that tried to find evidence of ESP and other things. Really? Wow!

Maya, the psychic heroine, came from that dream. Our dishy telekinetic Ian took many twists and turns to become our British spy with a tragic backstory but I adore him. Below is the blurb and a short excerpt. Enjoy!


Maya Wingfield was raised to trust no one—least of all the dueling U.S. and Russian paranormal agencies, Universe and Night Stars, who’d love to harness her mind-reading gift.

She thought Richmond a safe place to escape their influence and hide from a rising psychic malevolence that drove her out of San Diego. But when she gets yet another call to retrieve her drunken roommate, her mind shows her an amber-eyed Universe operative with an impenetrable net around his deepest secret—and a voice that sends shock waves of awareness down her nerve endings.

Maya’s curves and aquamarine eyes aren’t the only things that jolt Ian Sanderson’s mental shields, bringing sexual tension thrumming back to life. It’s a power his Universe-trained mind knows he shouldn’t trust. And a vulnerability that makes his telekinetic power burn in his palms to protect her.

But to Universe, she is just one of too many unanswered questions. A target for Whisper, a shadowy new group of paranormals with powers beyond anything Universe has ever seen. Once before, Ian failed to protect a sensitive from a brain-scrambling attack. He will not fail again . . . if it means using his talent—or his body—to stop a bullet.


They were out of the building and heading for the car before Maya focused on Ian.
“Thanks,” she said, a catch in her voice. “You didn’t have to do that.”
“It’s all gone to sixes and sevens,” he said, pushing a hand through his hair, spiking it. “It’s been a long night. I’m chuffed to meet you. It’s been a while since I knew a sensitive.”
Maya tilted her head, turning it to the side as she studied him, her brow wrinkling. “Chuffed? That sounds bad.”
“Chuffed. Pleased.” He gestured to the red BMW SUV. Her eyes widened at the sight of the car, although she had seen it before. The events of the day had happened so fast that it was a blur in her mind.
“Bobbie got vomit on that?” she asked, gaping at the sleek machine. There was a streak of blistered paint down the side where he must have leaned Bobbie’s head out the window, so she could retch. This sort of expensive machine was out of reach for her limited funds. She told herself if she could have afforded something so well built the attractive exterior would have been nothing more than a bonus.
Ian pressed the unlock button, a chirping noise signaling the release of the alarm. “I’ll take it through a car wash. It’s unimportant.” He held open the passenger door and waited for Maya.
“Ian Sanderson, I’m not sure if I’m chuffed to meet you or not,” she said, using air quotes around the unfamiliar word as she did so. Too many emotions spun through her for her to be sure of anything. Maya’s stomach growled. “I do know I’m hungry. It’s been a long few days. Quillan suggested you feed me, and my stomach agrees. Are there any restaurants open at this hour?”
Maya kept a poker face when they wound up at the Waffle House. The cheap casual dining place didn’t seem like his style, with his fancy car and British terminology. His accent reminded her of James Bond, his appearance the recent blond version of the famous spy.
They settled in and ordered coffee. Maya was sure the brew would be undrinkable, but she needed the caffeine. His bright red car had no business in that parking lot. It was next to a pickup that had seen better days a decade ago, and a small American car of an unknown origin that sported dealer plates.
“I’ve never been to this place before,” she said, glancing around.
Ian wasn’t relaxed, as evidenced by his dark-blue aura. Even people great at hiding their body language couldn’t conceal their auras, and Ian didn’t try. As a member of Universe, he had to know she could see it. That strain of pink still ran through his, and she thought if she could see his groin he would be showing evidence of arousal. A fire burned low in her gut at the idea that he was still turned-on despite everything.
“That was a right dirty trick your roommate played,” Ian said. “You were a fool to trust her. You won’t live long in this world by being an idiot.”
“I know. Now.”
A tired-looking woman with cat-eye glasses and a careless updo approached them with a pad and a bored manner.
“What can I get ya?” she asked, popping a wad of gum.
“I recommend the waffles and bacon,” he said, pointing to a selection on the menu. “The pecan is delicious.”
Maya pursed her lips. Feelings danced on the edge of her awareness, a myriad of emotions coming from the sparse customers in the building.
They ordered coffee, and Maya turned back to Ian. “How could Bobbie do that to me? Why did she steal my money?”
“You know the answer to that, don’t you, luv?”
“Yes,” she said. “She wanted to leave me no options, so I would have to rely on Oriel. She betrayed me.”
“She did.”
Ian kept fit, judging by the shape of the muscles under the T-shirt and the nice arms she’d admired when he first showed up. Goosebumps came and went on her arms as awareness warred with fear in her mind. Ian wasn’t like her mental image of British men, with pallid skin and bad teeth. His skin was tanned, with dark-blond hair dotting his forearms and a bit peeking out from the blue short-sleeved button-down shirt he wore. He had the air of someone who spent time outdoors, which she wouldn’t have expected for someone in a shadow organization. There was nothing in Ian’s hard, fit body that suggested he spent much, if any, time behind a desk. Well, James Bond did a lot of running around, Ian must be the same. From their brief contact, she knew his muscles to be hard, and they filled out the shirt nicely. A sliding, silvery sensation shot down her spine, making her want to shiver from the awareness of him.

 What’s your current WIP?
I never just have one WIP, that’s sort of my nature. Right now I am finishing a first draft for a paranormal novel that will go into a box set next year. It’s going to be the first of three books around the gorgons – and they’re the good guys. This has been a lot of fun to explore different mythology as well as Greek mythology and tweak the story of the gorgons to modern day. I am also working on editing the second Universe chronicles book and starting edits for a contemporary that I pitched at RWA Nationals. In addition, the third book in the Elementals series is in final proofreading so that I can self-publish it on October 1st. I also have short stories I am working on…you see how it goes! Wow! You deserve every success. That’s really awesome.

And finally, where can we find you?
Facebook, Twitter, website, all are good. I love to hear from people so feel free to reach out at any one of the links!

Website is www.clairedavon.com

 Thank you for being here, Claire. And thank you for offering an audio code for Fire Danger: Elementals' Challenge, Book 1 
Rafflecopter below. 
Happy reading. I wish you all a week of unexpected joys.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Critique Groups plus The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel #giveaway

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 1 comment
Today my Romance Critique group met in Culver City. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel fairies lunched in the same restaurant. They were on a publicity mission. We were on a 'make my writing better' mission.
MY critique group are the ones not in pink.
Me, Tema Merback(writing  as Belle Ami), Therese Gilardi, Kelly Hartog and her companion, Bronte
The Maisel ladies gave us roses and souvenir notebooks. I am giving you a chance to win mine. (The notebook. The rose wouldn't mail well.)

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel got 16 well deserved Emmy nominations and is my current favorite series. You can binge it on Amazon Prime. All. Nine. Episodes.  I wept when I realized there were no more to watch. I can't wait for season 2.
If you haven't seen the show here's the premise:
It's the late 1950s and Miriam "Midge" Maisel has everything she has ever wanted -- the perfect husband, two kids and an elegant apartment on New York's Upper West Side. Her seemingly idyllic life takes a surprising turn when she discovers a hidden talent she didn't previously know she had -- stand-up comedy. This revelation changes her life forever as she begins a journey that takes her from her comfortable life on the Upper West Side through the cafes and nightclubs of Greenwich Village as she makes her way through the city's comedy industry on a path that could ultimately lead her to a spot on the "Tonight Show" couch. The series was created by Amy Sherman-Palladino ("Gilmore Girls").
The premise doesn't do justice to the wonderful scripts, terrific acting, the fabulous period sets and costumes, and a score I can't get out of my head.
I'll put a Rafflecopter for the notebook at the end of the post.

Critique Groups
If you are a writer, you probably belong to a critique group. A good critique supports each other, and makes each other's work better. My group is fantastic. None of us write the same kind of novel. Therese Gilardi usually writes young adult. Tema Merback writes romantic suspense under the pen name Belle Ami, Kelly Hartog writes women's fiction and I jump all over the place. I know when two of them point out the same thing, I must pay attention.

Right now I am working on a novel that starts in Victorian England and jumps to 1940 wartime England. The heroine is a real person from history. Ada Augusta Lovelace - Lord Byron's Daughter.

Lord George Gordon Byron was a leading poet, politician and scandalous rake. His wife left him shortly after Ada was born. She saw that her daughter was given an excellent education in science and mathematics, hoping to avoid the strain of madness Lord Byron exhibited. Ada grew up to be a brilliant mathematician. She invented the first computer language in way back in 1843 for a machine that was a mere an idea - Charles Babbage's Analytical Machine. Her story has fascinated me since I learned of her in my first computer history class. I wanted to time travel her to 1940 when Alan Turing, hero of the movie, The Imitation Game first made his machine to break German codes. I knew he had used Ada's work. Thus my novel.

Here is an example of how a critique group improves a story.
Lord Byron’s Daughter 
2nd draft - the first being unreadable to anyone but the author.
Papa would not have approved of her current situation. But then Papa never stuck around long enough to approve anything.
Ada pushed her away out of Baron Mountjoy’s embrace. “Sir you go too far.”
“No, I must have you. You are my light, my sta,r my fortune.”
Well that at least rang true.
“Sir, perhaps you are unaware of the fact that papa’s will specified that I married an Englishman I would be cut off without a penny.”
  Baron Mountjoy stepped back, his codfish eyes gaping. “Why would an Englishman make a will like that? Even a demmed caper merchant like Lord Byron?”
Mountjoy stank of whiskey and days old perspiration. Was he so sure that the spinster daughter of Lord Bryon was so desperate to marry that he didn’t bother to change his shirt?
Stains of Handel’s Water Music drifted in from the ballroom.
“Papa didn’t approve of Englishmen. My fortune is contingent on my marrying an Italian.”
“Good lord the man was even dottier than he was rumored to be.”
True. Ada smoothed her skirts, wondering how she could induce the man to leave the library.
She’d only allowed herself to be persuaded consented to let her mother drag her to this ball at Lord Stanley’s house in hopes of examining his mathematical treatises. She’s heard from Babbage that he had works of Pythagoras that had never been read. Babbage lamented his inability to translate ancient Greek.

This is the current first page after my critiqu group's input. I think it's better.
Lord Byron’s Daughter
London, April 1840
The massive library door shut, muting the strains of shrill conversation from Lady King’s overcrowded ballroom.
Ada Byron’s taffeta skirts rustled, disturbing the cathedral-like silence which called to her soul. She’d only allowed her mother to drag her to the Countess of Lovelace’s ball in hopes of examining her ladyship’s son’s collection of mathematical treatises. When she heard from Charles Babbage that William King had a rare untranslated work of Pythagoras, she knew she had to read it. She was convinced it held the final key to her new language for Mr. Babbage’s probability machine.
Plump arms stole around her waist overlaying the intoxicating scent of old books and rich leather with the stench of garlic. Allowing Baron Mountjoy to escort her into their hostess’s glorious library was an error in judgement.
Ada pushed her way out of Baron Mountjoy’s embrace. “Sir, you go too far.”
Mountjoy stank of days-old perspiration. One would think a man planning to court a woman, even one so far on the shelf as she was, would bother to change his shirt.
 “No, I must have you. You are my light. My star. My fortune.”
His fortune? Well, that at least rang true.
May you find a book to love today. Happy Reading.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

A Hot #SummerRead by Brenda Sparks for the Paranormal Romance Reader

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

Meet paranormal author Brenda Sparks and her latest book, Alpha Pair. Born in Virginia, Brenda Sparks now resides in the Sunshine State.  
Balancing her professional commitment to the local school district with her writing is challenging at times, but writing suspenseful paranormal romances is a passion that won’t be denied. Her idea of a perfect day is one spent in front of a computer with a hot cup of coffee, her fingers flying over the keys to send her characters off on their latest adventure.  renda, I have a question or few for you.
I love firsts, so tell me about the moment when a publisher told you they wanted to publish your book.
I was sitting at home when I received an email stating that the senior editor at The Wild Rose Press wanted to contract a short story I sent her. I was so excited my hands shook while I opened the attachment and read the contract. I could barely type my email reply to her accepting the offer. When you are an author trying to be published, there is nothing like that first contract offer. Knowing someone in the publishing industry values and enjoys your work is priceless. 
What is the most exciting moment, so far, in your writing career?
 Hearing from a fan is always exciting for me. I have friends and family who enjoy my stories, but a little part of me wonders if they are biased. When a total strange leaves a 5-star review or likes my work enough to contact me through social media or via email, I'm thrilled. Hearing from readers is the most exciting thing about writing for me. 
What is your favorite pastime, other than writing?
I was a music major when I started at the university, so it’s probably no surprise that music is my favorite pastime. When I graduated from high school I could play 13 different instruments. Today I mostly just play the piano and clarinet. Wow! I am impressed. I can’t even play my computer keyboard well. #WorstTypistEver
Any advice for new writers just starting out?
Join a writer’s group. They are invaluable. You learn a ton by attending the conferences and speaking to published authors. We all have stories to share and advice to give. New and experienced writers alike can benefit from the knowledge of others in the business. Agree. I get so much out of my writing groups.

What’s your current WIP?
 Alpha Revealed is my current WIP. It is the next book in the Alpha Council Chronicles Series. It features Vlad and his heartmate. There is a surprise around every corner in this story, and I can’t wait to finish it. 
Alpha Pair Blurb:
How strong is the blood that binds? Tatiana Bolovich is a beautiful femme fatale with a haunting history. Having recently discovered the brutish Demetri Romanoff is her heartmate, she spent the past year avoiding him, but the Fates have other plans. 
Demetri commands every situation. A strong, valiant warrior, he’s used to being in control, that is until he is kidnapped by demons. Forced to endure unspeakable experiments at the hands of his enemy, the Alpha discovers just how out of control life can get.
Summoned by the Alpha Council, Tatiana grudgingly helps track Demetri down, promising herself that she will disappear from his life forever once the job is done. But matters of the heart are not so easily ignored. Will she give him a chance to prove himself, or will she deny her nature and slip away into the night?

Buy Links:

Book Excerpt:
The Alpha swung a leg over the motorcycle and tugged on his helmet. “You coming anytime this century, woman?”
Tatiana pulled her helmet down over her dark hair, the blunt ends sticking out from under it like twigs in a nest.
“Hold your horses, Romanoff.” She straddled her bike.
Demetri shifted the bike from its stand and rousted the thing with a kick of his booted heel. He gunned the throttle. “My horses want to go,” he called over the roar of the sports bike.
Tatiana started the motorcycle she borrowed from Marcus with a push of a button. The black beast growled to life. “Well, what are we waiting for then? I bet I can get to the counseling center before you.”
The howl of her engine made further conversation impossible when she revved the machine.
They tore off down the gravel drive, the bikes fishtailing. Bits of gravel spit out behind them. Demetri gunned his engine and took the lead. He flashed her a brilliant smile when he passed, making it almost worth being second place. But not quite.
As they rounded out of the gated fence onto the road, Tatiana cut under him to regain the lead.
He shook his head. Life will never be dull with you, tigress warrior. You are a fierce competitor, but then so am I.

Wonderful excerpt. Thanks for being here, Brenda. Brenda loves to connect with readers.  Please visit her online or stop by her website to say hi. Happy Reading, all.
Author Links:
Twitter Handle: @brenda_sparks https://twitter.com/brenda_sparks