Wednesday, September 12, 2018

New Book Announcement!

Jennifer has a new book coming...

I’m excited to announce the next book in my Serendipity Series, Learning to Love, will be released by The Wild Rose Press on November 28. 

Here’s the blurb:

Dina Jacobs is a single librarian who has never fit in due to her off-the-charts intelligence, frizzy hair and rounder-than-socially-acceptable figure. She left her past behind until she receives an invitation to her ten-year high school reunion, and all her insecurities return.

Adam Mandel is a single corporate attorney who just missed his third deadline at his father's law firm, the law firm where he is up for junior partner. With his reputation on the line, Adam needs all the help he can get to convince his father that he deserves the promotion.

When Dina and Adam run into each other on a deserted road, Dina thinks Mr. Flashypants can't possibly be interested in someone like her. Adam thinks Dina is just the person to help him improve his reputation. Lies and insecurities force them to take a look at themselves. Can they trust each other to look beyond the surface?

The book was a lot of fun to write. Adam comes across as a real player, but he’s got a soul, and bringing it out was challenging and rewarding. Dina is a strong female who spouts random facts when she’s nervous—and Adam makes her nervous! I had a lot of fun researching!

It will be up for preorder on Amazon and Barnes & Noble soon, but in the meantime, you can check it out on TWRP website and add it to your wishlist!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Ana's Getting 'Tis the Season

Ana is thrilled to share the cover for 'Tis the Season, a joint project between five authors.

“Tis the Season of the heart. Baking cookies, trimming the tree and falling in love with sprinkles of Christmas magic in a collection of sweet romance novelettes.
Sometimes, all you want for Christmas is right before your eyes.”

Releases October 20, 2018 

Poinsettias, by Ana Morgan

Chapter 1
Neely Martin rushed up the Boughboro Hospital stairwell and yanked open the heavy third-floor door. The scent of disinfectant, beeps of monitoring machines, and confident stride of nurses with identification badges reassured her that her father was receiving excellent care. 
She found his room and opened the door without knocking. “I’m so sorry, Dad. The plane from D.C. was late and—” 
Her father sat in a wheelchair wearing his old leather bomber jacket. A rigid plaster cast encased his leg from the top of his thigh to the ball of his foot. His face looked ashen, the lines on his forehead pronounced. 
She gave him a careful hug, and then leveled a scowl at the petite nurse holding the handles of the wheeled chair. “My father had surgery less than twenty-four hours ago. Why isn’t he in bed?”
“Mr. Martin talked with his doctor, and Dr. Franklin agreed to discharge him,” the nurse explained. “His first check-up is in two weeks. We just finished going over his medications.”
“Going over? With whom?”
“With me.” Justin Harrington stepped clear of a partition curtain. 
Neely’s heart stuttered. Justin looked tan and fit, as if he’d stuck to their after-we-graduate promise to balance work and personal time. 
She searched his handsome face for a sign he’d finally forgiven her for accepting the job in D.C., but his steel-blue eyes held no warmth. She swallowed the lump that formed in her throat. “I wish you would have waited for me.”
“We weren’t sure when you’d be able to tear yourself away from Congressman McHenry.” Justin’s voice was cold and condemning.
An awkward silence filled the small room.
Dad patted her arm. “Justin offered to stay until you arrived, honey.”
Remembering how things used to be, she shook off Justin’s jab. When her mother left without saying goodbye he’d sat with her on the edge of the playground while their first-grade classmates played. Fifteen months later, he’d stood beside her in the cemetery as her mother’s casket was lowered into the ground. 
He’d taken her to the prom and waited to mail his application to the University of Vermont until she’d rewritten her application essay. They’d both studied Public Administration with a desire to serve the public. 
So why couldn’t he understand that being an aide to Congressman Daniel McHenry gave her the means to solve big problems? 
“Miss Martin”—the nurse interrupted her thoughts—“The doctor’s orders are pretty straightforward. Elevate the leg. Take the meds. Keep all check-up appointments.” 
The nurse crouched until she was eye-to-eye with her father. “After the cast comes off, you’ll need several weeks of therapy. Then you can ease back into work.” 
Her father nodded. “Understood.”
“We decided the back seat of my four-by-four would be the best way to take him home,” Justin said.
Neely felt a ping of embarrassment. The car she’d rented at the Burlington airport was small and fuel-efficient. Good for the environment, but wholly inadequate to haul a big man with titanium screws in his fractured femur. 
“I’ll meet you at the entrance.” Justin picked up two aluminum crutches and a drawstring hospital bag and carried them out of the room.
“Anything more to carry?” Neely scanned her father’s hospital bed.
“I don’t think so.” Her father craned his neck and looked up at the nurse. “I’m ready to go.”


Neely stood beside the nurse in the elevator, noting her father’s hunched shoulders and clenched jaw. He was in pain—and determined to go home.
The elevator door slid open. 
They passed by the emergency waiting room and approached the automatic exit doors. 
Outside on the curb, Justin stood beside a metallic-blue pickup. Its spotless finish and chrome trim gleamed under the early December sun. 
He’d gotten the city manager job he wanted—and now a truck. Probably saved up and bought it outright. 
The nurse wheeled her father outside and positioned the chair next to the open crew cab door.
Her father immediately pushed out of the chair and tried to stand.
“Dad!” Neely grabbed his arm.
His good leg buckled. He started to topple over.
Justin darted forward and caught him. 
“Back him up to the seat,” the nurse ordered. “Don’t hit his head on the roof.”
Her father scooted across the seat butt first until the full length of his cast was safely inside the truck. Justin leaned in, stretched out a seat belt, and buckled him in.
“You’ll have to slow down, Mr. Martin,” the nurse chided. “Wait for others to help you.”
Her father closed his eyes and nodded, his face ominously pale.
“Take him straight home and put him in bed.” The nurse turned to Neely and lowered her voice. “He needs home care assistance for at least a week. Maybe longer.”
Neely gulped. Her father had never been able to afford top-of-the-line health insurance, and she didn’t have much in savings. Rent, metro transit, and student loan payments ate up most of her congressional aide salary.
Justin shut the crew cab door. “John’s ready to go.” 
Grateful for an excuse to dash off, Neely thanked the nurse, fished the rental car key from her blazer pocket, and scurried across the parking lot. She and her father would manage on their own, just like they’d done for years.

Every muscle in Neely’s body ached by the time she and Justin tiptoed out of her father’s bedroom.
Dad had been so unsteady on his crutches, he’d tossed them aside on the front steps and stretched his arms across her and Justin’s shoulders. They’d supported his weight while he hopped on one foot up.
Justin stopped in the hallway and gazed at the picture taken at their high school prom. His gold cummerbund and tie of his rented tuxedo matched the bodice of the evening dress still hanging in her clothes closet. His forehead glistened with sweat. “Remind me never to own an old house with steep stairs.”
“I’m down for one level with no walls,” she bantered. “A big open space with all the furniture on wheels so you can roll into the kitchen at midnight for a glass of warm milk.” 
She held her breath. They’d often joked not so long ago. Would he play along now?
“I best be going,” He walked downstairs and lifted his jacket off the coat rack. “John’s prescriptions should be ready. He authorized me to pick them up. I’ll swing by, so you don’t have to leave him.” 
“You’ll need money for the co-pay.” She ran down the stairs.
“Already have it.” He chewed on his lower lip, an all-too-familiar sign he had more he wanted to say but was holding back.
She waited for him to disparage her work with Congressman McHenry. She could take it. Working in D.C had taught her to shoulder criticism. 
Without another word, he walked out.
Disappointed, she stood beside her father’s recliner in the living room and watched out the picture window as Justin strode down the front walk, got into his truck, and drove away. She heaved a sigh and felt something in her hand. Looking down, she realized she’d wadded the crocheted doily her father kept on his recliner’s headrest. 
She smoothed her mother’s handiwork back in place. She’d never forgive her mother for walking out, but she didn’t hate her anymore.
Hopefully time would heal the rift between her and Justin.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Up to My Ears in Audio

Debra's audio books are making progress.

Since my publisher began offering an audio version of their books, I've been literally up to my ears in listening. Editing an audio book is a bit different than editing a print book, as cadence and tone and annunciation all play a role. It's different to listen with your ears instead of looking with your eyes.

Up until now, the titles that have come through of mine have all been novellas. This past week I started listening to the first full-length novel of mine that will be offered in audio. Let me just say it's a loooong process.

First of all it's hard for me to just sit and listen. I feel like I'm not doing anything. And I'm not one for sitting around idly. I'm ALWAYS doing something. So while I listen I do try to multi-task and do things like fold laundry or prepare dinner or other rote things that don't require too much concentration. I do have to be careful which chore I choose to multi-task with, as some take away from my focus on what I'm supposed to be listening to. But overall, I think I've found a good balance of listening and being able to get other things done. If I do hear a mistake, I put aside what ever 'other' task I'm doing and focus solely on rewinding and listening and marking the spot of the error and documenting the error so it can be fixed.

Makes me realize that unless it's riding in a car on a long, I probably wouldn't do well with other audio books. Like I said, it's too much like sitting there and doing nothing. I've only given audio a try once on a road trip, and we wound up turning it off because we got caught in a raging downpour that drowned out the sound of the story. We never went back to it. We probably should give it a try again on the way to/from one of our camping adventures.

Anyway like I said, it's an interesting process to edit the audio version of a story. Yesterday I turned in notes/corrections for chapters 1-8 and was 'rewarded' with files for chapters 9-13. So my work is far from over. A full length novel is A LOT to listen to.

One thing I've discovered as I've been listening to Wild Wedding Weekend is how much I LIKE the story! It's been a while since I've 'visited' it, and I'm remembering all the reasons it was such a fun one to write, even if it hasn't been one of my biggest sellers. Maybe audio will help that. Only time will tell.

Until next time,

Happy Reading! (or listening!)


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Three Questions

Paula asks (and answers) three questions!

Firstly: A couple of weeks ago, someone on FB was asking why the sales of her books were so low. Okay, I know, it’s a question many of us could ask! One of the replies suggested that she should look at the bestselling books on Amazon, and aim to write something similar to those.
My reaction: unless she’s a very fast writer, the ‘popular’ trends might have completely changed by the time her book is actually published, because people soon tire of the same kind of novel. Personally I go into ‘yawn mode’ when I see yet more books about ‘cosy cafes’ or, here in the UK at present, stories set in Cornwall (I blame Poldark for that!), and I’m not into ‘psychological thrillers.’ Yes, these may be current trends, but how long do these kinds of trends last?

Secondly, another author (again on FB) declared that she had read and enjoyed books about the music scene when she was a teenager, so decided to write her own series. This same author then said she’d enjoyed books by another author set in her own city, and so she decided to – yes, you’ve guessed it, write her own series set in that same city.
My reaction? Don’t you have any original ideas of your own, without having to ‘duplicate’ what other authors have written about?

Thirdly, yet another author declared that ‘if you like books by x, y, and z, you will love my book.’
My reaction: for one thing, it comes over as incredibly conceited to ‘compare’ yourself to bestselling authors. Also, if you need to ‘compare’ yourself to other writers, it doesn’t say much for your own originality.

So, what do we do? Follow the trends (albeit belatedly), write to a theme that has been successful for another author in the hope that it will be as successful for you, or try to gain readers by likening yourself to other authors?
My reaction: I couldn’t do any of these things. Or rather, yes, I probably could, but I wouldn’t want to. I can’t write to a ‘trend’ or a ‘theme’, and I certainly don’t try to imitate any other writer.

Maybe my novels don’t sell as well as stories about ‘cosy caf├ęs in Cornwall’ are selling; maybe I’ll never reach the top ranks on Amazon; but I write the stories that I want to write, and I write them in my own style.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Book Trailers

Have you ever made a book trailer?

I’ve seen several and they intrigue me. Basically, they’re taglines paired with photos and set to music, and they’re used to illustrate your book. Like a movie trailer.

I’ve attended conference workshops about them and people pay good money to have them made. While marketing does require investment, trailers were never something I was going to spend money on, because I’m not sure it’s the best use of my resources. The problem is I’m really not a graphic person or a videographer—I should probably make use of my kids.

But then I discovered this free program/computer app. It takes you step by step through the process of creating the video. It can even create one from a blog you write. You can choose images to use and music, colors and fonts and it puts it all together for you.

So I tried it. Once I got the hang of it, it was super easy to do. My biggest problem with trailers is that they’re static, like a slide show. And because I’m not spending money, I’m making do with the images I have access to, as well as the music. But I don’t think it’s a terrible trailer, and I certainly don’t think it’s doing me any harm.

What do you think?

Saturday, July 14, 2018

In the throes of Summer

Ana's summer is probably as busy as yours.

I took cell phone photos of the three ice-cream pails of just-picked-by-me raspberries and my grandkids sliding down the big slide yesterday at the county fair, but Blogger says they are not formatted for uploading. So word pictures will have to suffice until I figure that out.

I asked for, and was granted, an extension on book 2. I'm not a fast writer, and I over-estimated how many chapters I could write last winter. Writing in summer is more challenging with work, gardening and grandkid sleep-overs. I'm half way through the story. The heroine and side-kick are entering a seedy bar in search of the injured and missing hero.

I had fun this past week helping with a short film shoot. The ten-year-old granddaughter is the protagonist. She goes exploring and is frightened by an alien hiding in an abandoned house. She runs home and returns with her skeptical older sister and squirt-gun-toting younger brother. They track down the alien, who checks them out and zooms away.

My film-producer daughter brought home her camera gear, including a film drone. (The drone has crashed into tree tops twice on homing mode. Obviously, it's a city, not a country, drone. More online tutorials will be downloaded.)

The short film footage is now in Rachel's editing computer. She'll add CGI images (shimmery light?) to show the alien being. It will be fun to see the final footage. If it's good enough, she'll color correct and sound design, and who knows where it will end up. The footage Rachel shot with the ten-year granddaughter (when Brandi was five) was just released as a music video for a New York City band.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

A Month of History

Debra spent June immersed in early U.S. history.

My hubby and I love to travel. Usually our one big trip a year is a cruise over spring break for our anniversary. Summers used to be filled with long weekend trips with our parents and and another with the hubby's sister and family. But, as our parents have gotten older and unable to walk around as well as they used to, and as our niece and nephew have gotten older and it's no longer 'cool' to hang with your older relatives, those smaller trips had stopped.

This summer, things changed a bit. At the beginning of June we took a week-long road trip with a friend out to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. While we spent the majority of our week in Williamsburg immersed in 18th century history, we did take a side trip to Yorktown and Jamestown, which gave us a peek into 17th century history. Every little part of the trip was wonderfully awesome. There is no possible way to pick a favorite thing, although I have to say their Nation Builder program topped the list. My favorite to listen to was Thomas Jefferson. He talked about the importance of education and how the most important thing we can teach our children is history. My paraphrase of both speeches he gave is along the lines of: You have to know where you've been to see where you're going.

Governor's Palace - Colonial Williamsburg

Old Capitol at Night - Colonial Williamsburg

Young Thomas Jefferson - Colonial Williamsburg

The Church at Jamestown Settlement

Artillery Demonstration at the Revolutionary War Museum in Yorktown

Last spring we purchased a travel trailer, so we've been taking quite a few weekend jaunts recently. Last weekend we took a short trip out to Galena, IL (home of President/General Ulysses S. Grant) and walked around taking in the sites of 19th century history.

On July 1, I officially took over as President of our local Historical Society. I'm looking forward to leading the Society in its new direction of programming and education.

Our Newly Restored Original 1896 One-room School

Interior of Central School

Me (Playing "Schoolmarm" at a Laura Ingalls Book Discussion in the Schoolhouse)

So, yessire, it's been a history kind of summer so far. And I love it! (And what a perfect lead up to the Fourth of July here in the States!) #historyisfun

Until next time,

Happy Reading (and traveling)!