Sunday, November 8, 2015

Honoring Our Veterans

I could talk about upcoming books and all that, but November 11 is Veterans Day. This week, I'm dedicating this blog page to honoring those who serve and have served our country. In my lifetime and being a post-WWII baby, I've known us to be involved in some way with a war in Korea, Vietnam, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Iraq....and probably, in some way, in other wars around the world. War has remained distant, taking place on other shores, but has always been a fact in my lifetime. Always at a distance, until 9/11 when the horror of war was brought to our shores. I've had relatives and friends who served in many ways in the armed forces during war, both in active combat and here at home. I have friends whose names are etched in the wall of the Vietnam War Memorial. It was humbling to visit that wall and run my fingers over those names, realizing what those young, young men gave up for the freedom and security I enjoy.


I always knew my father, Dale R. Rettstatt, Jr., as a soldier. He served in WWII, bringing home with him two Purple Hearts and the remains of shrapnel in the back of his neck and head that gave him excruciating headaches at times. I looked at a picture of him as a young boy whose dream was to become a draftsman. (I still have a set of steel drawing instruments he used). And then I recall the man I knew, and I'm certain he brought back more than physical wounds. No one goes through a war unscathed. And, yet, he remained an active member of the Army Reserve until his death (which came early at fifty-nine.)

I often wondered what happened to that hopeful, smiling boy in the picture. Not that my dad didn't have a great smile and quick wit at times, but there was often something haunting in his eyes, too. Sobering. He never became a draftsman and I wonder if that dream died in the trenches of France.

I have such empathy for those returning from Afghanistan and Iraq and for their families because they will forever be haunted by the horrors of war, even if they don't bear physical wounds. We need to take care of our returning heroes--and that's what they are. One definition I found of a hero is:  a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. "a war hero". All wounds are not visible and we owe these men and women our support.

This Veterans Day, let's pause to remember all of those men and women who have sacrificed for our freedom and our dedication to freedom for all people. Regardless of what you personally believe about war. Thank those Veterans who are still with us. Demand our government to take responsibility for the care of those who have returned from war, wounded and shattered and in need. Let's also make a promise to never stop trying to find a better way to bring about peace and preserve human dignity. This is what I learned from my father, a man who (I believe) was forever changed by his experience of war.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Something A Little Different - For Me

Those of you who have followed my writing for a while know that I'm not locked into one genre. I started with Women's Fiction and then ventured into writing Contemporary Romance. I've added in a dash of mystery, the paranormal, and suspense to that mix. My newest book, which will release on November 20, is an Inspirational Romance titled After the Fall.

And if you know my books well, you know that my titles often are metaphor for the story. After the Fall is the story of Molly Daniels and Chase Harrington. Both have experienced the falling apart of their lives. Chase, a police detective, vows to make changes to move on with his life, having lost his wife and teen-aged daughter two years earlier. Molly Daniels,a pediatric nurse, moves her fourteen-year-old daughter out of an abusive home in Chicago, returning to the Pittsburgh suburbs where she had spent her early years. Starting a new job and trying to ease her daughter's transition to a new school, Molly is sure things will be better--after the Fall.

The last thing Chase needs is an attractive women with a teen daughter moving in next door and dredging up so many memories. Molly finds it challenging to trust the handsome but often brooding neighbor. Faith is the one thing that has carried Chase through his nightmare losses. Molly has abandoned her faith when she felt betrayed and abandoned by her church. Despite their fears and hesitation, Molly and Chase are drawn together as he believes he might love again and she learns that some men--or at least this man--can be trusted..

You can pre-order After the Fall now at Amazon.com


Monday, October 5, 2015

A Sad Ending and A New Adventure

I just signed my name to accept the Reversion of Rights for my books published with Turquoise Morning Press which has closed its doors. It's sad to see this come to an end and, yet, I know it opens a new door for me. My books previously published with TMP will continue to be available as I shift them over to self-publishing.

I've been in this business now for more than ten years. I've seen many e-publishers and small presses come and go. I've heard the horror stories of authors whose rights have been tangled up in the closures. Some authors have had to resort to lawsuits to get their books returned to them.

Kim Jacobs is one class act and a business woman of the highest caliber. Even in this closing of the company, she has exhibited the utmost professionalism and integrity. Things are being done smoothly and with every consideration for the authors. If there's a right way to close a publishing house, she has found it.

I would be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to thank Kim for her support of my work for the past five years. And I want to thank the magnificent authors I got to meet and who will remain my colleagues and friends as we all find our way forward.

I wish Kim Jacobs only the very best in her own future endeavors as author. And I'm grateful for the people I've met during my journey with Turquoise Morning Press. You all have made me a better writer.

                                                          Linda

Sunday, August 30, 2015

...and then this happened.

We writers can easily fall into a funk. I'm not talking about writer's block. I'm talking about that questioning of why we do what we do. Book sales rise and fall and, when they fall, it's easy to begin to question the time and effort and the expense put into producing a book. When everything is quiet, sales are slow, no reviews are coming in, it's a challenge not to just put the laptop away and do something else. Of course, most of us can't do that. It would be like holding our breath until we pass out. I had a weekend of such questioning and decided I needed to call a family meeting. So I got us all together to remind myself of why I do what I do. Why do I invest so much time and energy and my own resources into putting out books? I looked at my website. My branding says, Writing for Women: Stories of strength, love, humor and hope. 

Well, there it is--why I write. Other than the fact that it's a passion that gives me much more than it demands. I write to give people hope. To bring a smile to someone. To make my readers feel--happy, sad, hopeful, not so much alone. I write to entertain. I write because--for as demanding and challenging as it can be--writing is a passion that is a constant for me. I sat down and began to browse through my books and then this happened:




Here we are at the family meeting. I'm so proud of all my children. And, yes, they did a great job of reminding why I write.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Finding the Real Thing

I'm not married. Have never been married. But I do know a little about relationships and, having worked for a time as a therapist providing couples counseling, I learned a lot more. One thing I know for sure: Marriage is not easy. In my new book, THE REAL THING, Jane and Mitch Devereaux have a nearly twenty-year marriage that is sorely tested by change. Writing as author Janelle DuMonde, Jane has been using her marriage and her husband to work out the finer points of her book plots. Mitch resents being used as a "sex slave-slash-model" for Janelle's heroes. He decides they need some time and distance between them; Jane is confused and terrified by his departure. But something keeps pulling them back to one another. Something won't allow them to just let go.



Jane and Mitch discover that sometimes love can be found in a most unexpected place -- right where you left it.

I hope you'll check out THE REAL THING, now available in ebook and trade paperback at Amazon.com

Friday, August 7, 2015

Being Your Own Best Friend


So, it's my birthday! Yay, me!!! And, no, I'm not telling which one. But if you go by the photo, you know I've been around a while. I like to think I'm old enough to know better and still young enough not to care.

I've had so many invitations from friends over this week, all wanting to celebrate this day with me. I'm so blessed with good and caring friends and so very grateful. Now some understand my decline of invitations on this particular day and some look a bit puzzled. I love to celebrate life with my friends. Just not ON my birthday. My tradition has long been to spend this day WITH myself. Not 'by myself' as some people suggested, saying that was not a good thing.

It took me a long time to grow into this person I am today, to get to know her, to accept her faults and failings and to acknowledge her gifts and talents. As narcissistic as this may sound, I like me and I enjoy spending time with me. I'll relax, reflect, offer thanks for this wonderful gift of life, remember losses and look ahead to the future. Most of all, I'll celebrate ME. No agenda, just options. No schedule, just time.

My wish for all of you is that you (if you haven't already) become your own best friend!

I'd like to celebrate today by giving something to others. To that end, I will give away AT LEAST five (maybe more) Audible copies of my Romantic Suspense novel, PROTECTION to the first people who comment on this post. You can check it out on Audible.com and listen to a sample here:
http://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Protection-Audiobook/B012DWPABG/ref=a_search_c4_1_2_srImg?qid=1438968879&sr=1-2



Just click below and leave a comment about how you spend time WITH yourself. It's that simple. I'm off to play now. I'll check back in later and announce the winners. Oh, be sure you check back, too so you can send me your email addy if you win.

Cheers.

Linda

Monday, July 27, 2015

Reading and Driving? That can't be good.

Often people will ask me what I'm currently reading. I generally say, "Well, I reading (whatever I'm reading at the time) on my Kindle and I'm reading (something else) in the car." A few immediately 'get' what I'm saying, but many people gasp in horror. "You read while you drive?"

When I took a job that required nearly a one-hour drive each way, I discovered the value of audio books. I'd occasionally picked up an audio book when traveling, but it wasn't until the monotony of a daily drive back and forth on the same highway threatened to bore me out of my mind. Audio books not only break the boredom. Listening while driving gives me a chance to 'read' more books. As a writer, I need to stay tuned to what's being written by other authors and as a reader, I need to be entertained. I will admit that driving and listening to a book on CD is just about the extent of my multi-tasking abilities. On occasion, I've pulled into the parking lot at work and had to sit for at least five minutes to find out what was going to happen next. Once the receptionist came out to see if I was okay. 

Imagine my delight when I learned that I could have my own books recorded in audio without breaking my budget. My first self-published book, RESCUED, was released in audio in April of this year. PROTECTION, my romantic suspense, just came out on July 20. It was exciting to hear my words performed by Caroline McLaughlin (RESCUED) and Kevin Scollin (PROTECTION).

If you enjoy audio books, check them out here:



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Flight of Fancie




What better place to honeymoon than the historic and quaint Tybee Island, Georgia? Unless, of course, you're spending your week with four other women. After she gets the "We have to talk" talk from her fiance, Fancie Hollensby's bridesmaids whisk her off to the beach where she can lick her wounds. It's also where she discovers she has given herself away on so many levels and Fancie--who's always admired butterflies--develops her own flight plan.

It's July. Need a beach read? My newest women's fiction is available now at Amazon.com

Thursday, April 30, 2015

An Interview with Alexandra Ramsey from RESCUED


L:         I’m here at Harley’s Haven today with director Alex Ramsey. Hi, Alex. Thanks for letting me stop by today.

A:        Oh, you’re welcome. I hope you don’t mind a few wet kisses and a little animal hair on your pants.

L:         (Laughs) For our readers,  just to clarify, the wet kisses are coming from Lambchop, Walter and a few of the adorable puppies here in the shelter lobby. And, no, I don’t mind at all. This is cheaper and more effective than therapy.

A:        I agree. This is my therapy.

L:         So, many of us have read your story in the novel, RESCUED, and I have to say it’s quite a story. You built this beautiful no-kill shelter from scratch.

A:        Pretty much. My sister, Kellie, is a real estate agent and found this fabulous location. We were able to take my plans and build what you see today. Of course, none of this would be possible without the generosity of Miss Amy Whiting.

L:         Yes, I understand Miss Amy was a dear friend and that she also brought you and your husband, Evan, together—in a way.

A:        Evan is Amy’s grand-nephew. Circumstances brought us together, but I’m sure Amy played some role in it. She always did know what was best for me. (Tears up) I still miss her.

L:         (Pauses) A number of people who have read your story think of you as a hero in the animal rescue community. What do you say to that?

A:        (Blushes) I’m not a hero. Lots of people do what I do. I just love animals and live out of that passion. I’m blessed to be able to do so.

L:         Family is very important to you, too. Your mother abandoned you and your sister when you were very young. How do you think that impacted your passion for rescue?

A:        I’m not sure I’d use the term abandoned. She didn’t leave us in a convenience store, but deposited us in the care of our grandfather. I’m not defending her, but I’ve come to understand some things about her. I don’t know. I’m sure that had an impact on my life. I was angry for a very long time. I could never bear to see an injured animal or any animal wandering alone and not do something to help them.

L:         You bring up anger. A few who have read your story were put off by your…uh…rough edge.

A:        (Laughs) You’re so polite. You mean they think I’m something of a bitch. I was and I still can be at times. I feel very strongly about a few things—animals, family and my southern heritage. When I think any of those things are being discounted, I react. It’s a miracle Evan and I are together considering the way I behaved when we first met. I wasn’t very nice. Yeah, I was pretty nasty.

L:         Tell us about that first meeting.

A:        I was working part-time in my uncle’s grill. It was a family business opened by my grandfather. I’d say I was having a bad day. But that bad day lasted for months. Evan was a chef in New York. He was raised in the north and didn’t really know his Aunt Amy. It’s not unusual for folks to come to the south and expect us all to be walking clich├ęs of dumb rednecks. I see that a lot and had come to expect it. Let’s just say Evan rubbed me the wrong way from the start. And it was a rocky start. I assumed Evan was just like those other ‘Yankees’ and, well, that chip on my shoulder was more like a boulder. I know now I couldn’t give him a chance because, honestly, from the moment I walked over to his table to take his order, I felt something, a connection like I’d never felt. Scared the wits out of me.

L:         You don’t seem so nasty now. What made the difference?

A:        Oh, I can still slip into my ‘bitch’ mode now and then. (frowns thoughtfully) I’ve been in the rescue business for a long time. I’ve seen just about everything in terms of animal behavior. The ones I have the softest spot in my heart for are the ones that have been so neglected or abused that they just can’t trust. Now, I was far from neglected and abused. My grandfather and my uncle took very good care of me. Uncle Jack was the father I didn’t have growing up. But I know what that kind of mistrust can breed into an animal. And I think, until I confronted my mother and was able to come to terms with her leaving, I couldn’t fully trust that anyone could love me and not leave me. For as much as my uncle could assure me he was in my life forever, I had to find a way to believe it.

L:         How do you gain that trust from an animal that has plenty of reason not to trust?

A:        Patience, time and consistency. You hang in there. You wait. You have to prove yourself worthy of that trust. I guess we humans aren’t all that different. When one of those mistrusting animals walks over and shoves its muzzle into my hand for the first time, I melt like an ice cube in August. Their trust is such a precious gift.

L:         So what do you want people to know and understand about Alex Ramsey?

A:        That I’m a woman of passion. My passions for rescue, family and as a southern woman drive me, make me who I am. Some will perceive me as a strong, no-nonsense woman. They are probably being generous, as is my husband when he describes me this way (and always with a grin). Some might be put off by my rough edges, but those edges are as much a part of me as the compassion and care I hold. I learned a long time ago that everyone won’t like me. It took me years to realize that was okay. If I’m lucky, a few will love me. And that makes all the difference. My husband has the patience of a saint. I see, now, how he rescued me. He'd tell you I did the same for him.

L:         Thanks so much, Alex, for your time. If the sounds from the kennels are any indication, you have work to do.


A:        I do. It’s feeding time. Thanks for letting me tell my story. Come back any time you need puppy therapy. You asked to visit our cat room, so I'll show you in before I get back to work. But I have to warn you, most people don't walk out of there without a new companion in their arms.


Read Alex's story in RESCUED and decide for yourself how you feel. Available in eBook, trade paperback and, now, in audio book at: Amazon.com

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

PROTECTION Gets Some Recognition

PROTECTION finaled for the 2015 EPIC eBook Award in Romantic Suspense and has also finaled for the 2015 Carolyn Readers Choice Award in Romantic Suspense with the North Texas Romance Writers of America.





Saturday, March 28, 2015

The True Heroines in My Life - National Women's History Month

The month of March is designated at National Women's History Month. The theme this year is Women Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives. I've introduced you to the women of my novels over this month. Now, let me introduce you to some of the remarkable women from my family.

Top left is my maternal grandmother, Anna Kenney Hennessey--Grandma. She bore ten children, raised nine of those children into adulthood. She was the essence of the term 'homemaker.' She always had homemade soup on the stove and homemade bread on the table. She walked miles to church because the church was important to her. Family was her vocation and she lived it well until she passed at the age of 60.

Top right is a photo of my paternal grandfather, me, my sister--Peggy, and my paternal grandmother Georgie Margaret Hurst Rettstatt--Nana. My father was her only child and we were the only grandchildren. She doted on us. I remember shopping with her in Brownsville. It was never just about the shopping, but about going 'downtown' and visiting with women she knew who worked in various shops there. Shopping was a highly social event. She worked at different times, in a dairy store and, later, selling women's clothing in a store in Cleveland, Ohio where she and my grandfather relocated. She was short and round and soft and truly a Nana. She live to the age of 94.

And my sister, Peggy, three years my junior. I grew up with stories in my head about how I'd like to live, the things I'd like to do, the risks I'd like to take. She had the courage to do them. She's still braver than I when it comes to living life instead of imagining it.

Bottom left is my mother, Anna Katherine Hennessey "Kay" Rettstatt. When I look through family documents, I find my mother listed as Catherine, Kathryn A., and Anna Katherine. She used to love to tell stories about herself when she was growing up and then caution my sister and myself to NEVER do the same things she did. She was a risk-taker in her earlier years. From my childhood, I have fond memories of her joining us for a game of baseball in the back yard, playing with a hula hoop (which I still have on 8 mm film somewhere), and the way she sang country songs while she worked around the house. She had a great sense of humor. I always felt a bit of sadness for my mother, believing she wasn't completely happy and that, perhaps, had a dream she'd never pursued. Maybe that's why she had three different configurations to her name. And maybe that's her gift to me--to pursue my dreams.

The next two photos on the bottom are me--expressing my individuality and interest in music at age three and a more recent photo taken during a casual photo shoot for my website. I look at myself now and I reflect that self off those other women. I am who I am largely because of who they were. Nurturing, caring, faithful, hard working, loving and fun-loving. Perhaps with a shadow of mystery, a wee bit of sadness. Not the kind of sadness that makes us want to curl up in a ball. The kind of sadness that reflects a longing for something more, that drives us deeper into the search for our own truths.

There are so many women throughout history who have cleared a path and lighted the way for us. Some of them may still be with us, walking at our sides, covering our backs--bringing a smile from our memories. Take the time to thank them today.

Who are or have been the strong women in your life who have made you who you are today?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Lily and Chelsea Champion - Renting To Own


I bring my celebration of National Women's History Month to a close by introducing Lily Champion and daughter, Chelsea. Lily was going to come alone, but being a single parent, couldn't get a sitter.


I apologize.It's just been Chelsea and me for so long, I'm used to having her with me everywhere. My neighbor, Mrs. Glenn, had a bingo tournament this evening. So it Women's History Month. I'm only twenty-four now, so not much history here. Though some days I feel four times that age.

I don't like to complain because it sounds like I regret my life, and I don't. I especially don't regret having Chelsea. It might have been better to wait a few years, sure. But having her forced me to grow up fast--something I'd already begun after my mom died when I was seven years old. I also have Helen Shaw who was my high school English teacher, my port in the storm and, for all intents and purposes, a mother to me.

I'm finally getting our life together. I have a great job and a house I'm renting to own. At times I feel our life is like that--Renting To Own--paying dues to toward security. Some people look at my life and see struggles and mistakes. Well, hell, who doesn't have those? I look at my life and see love, forgiveness, and strengths I never dreamed I could possess. When I look at my daughter, I see determination and self-confidence in her eyes. If I give her nothing else, I'm proud that I've given her this.

My name is Chelsea Champion and I'm five years old. My teacher told Mommy I'm very sociable. I'm not sure what that means, but I think it's a good thing. Mommy and I moved out of Auntie Helen's house because Mommy got a better job. And then she got a different job again with Rick. I like Rick a lot. I hope Mommy likes him a lot, too. Don't tell them I said this, but sometime I ask God to make Rick my daddy 'cause I don't have one of those. 

Read Lily and Chelsea's full story in RENTING TO OWN (published by Turquoise Morning Press), available in ebook at Amazon.com.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cee Cee - Ladies In Waiting


Winding down on National Women's History Month with the story of Cee Cee from Ladies In Waiting.



Most people crash wedding receptions or birthday parties. Me? I crashed a retreat for women over the age of fifty. I'm only thirty-two. But I'm so tired and so uninspired with my life. Don't get me wrong. I love my kids more than anything and I think I still love Ben. So much is going on in my life right now and I need him to be supportive. But we just seem to get farther and farther apart. I feel lost. So when my mother was unable to attend the retreat with other women her age, I arranged for my mother-in-law to babysit, packed a bag--which turned out to be filled with all sorts of surprises thanks to my kids--and drove my soccer mom van to a retreat house whose name I couldn't even pronounce.

The other women--Julia, Liv, Markie and Andi--were all there to reinvent themselves. I felt like I was there to invent myself in the first place. I thought about all the things no one told me--that married love changes, that we start to take each other for granted, that sometimes we make sacrifices we regret. That being a grownup is so darned hard.

That these women let me stay with them for the week was miracle enough for me. That they were gracious enough to share their stories with me--the kid of the group--was just amazing. That week was like a crash course in aging well despite making mistakes. They each came to the retreat running from something, the same way I was running. But these women were warriors. They ARE warriors, and I want to finish growing up just like them. I'm glad I started when I did. I'm also glad I found a way to follow my dream and still hold onto the dreams I'd begun to build with Ben and our kids. I know you can't have it all, but I sure do have more than I'd ever imagined.

Get to know Cee Cee better in LADIES IN WAITING, (from Turquoise Morning Press) available in ebook and trade paperback at Amazon.com

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Markie and Julia - Ladies In Waiting


Continuing my month long celebration of heroines from my books, meet Markie and Julia from LADIES IN WAITING. (Talk about two very different women.)



My name is Markie Lyons and I'm an artist. I'm also a left-over hippie, having experienced the great Summer of Love in San Francisco, right after running away from home. I've had an interesting life. It's usually more interesting to others than to myself. I embraced my father's grandmother's Gypsy heritage and I took on her name--Markova. All I ever wanted to do was to create art in several forms, including painting and sculpture. Both require a steady hand and a clear mind. What will I do when I'm no longer assured of having either? I don't see a way I can live without my art. I came to this retreat to sort out thoughts and feelings and fears and to come to some peace with what I need to do next. The small group of women who gathered her are so wonderfully passionate and compassionate. I could easily see myself becoming friends with any and all of them. Even Julia. The poor woman has herself buttoned up so tight and locked in such a small box. I hope she can relax and let go of the tragedy that drove her here. Yes, I know who Julia is and what happened to her. Of course, it's not my place to say anything. I hope she can find the inner forgiveness she needs to get free.

My name is Julia Lane and I'm an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. But don't spread that around too much. I'm not exactly popular there right now. With good reason. I did my job thoroughly and efficiently on a recent case. The job was all that mattered and the results were tragic. And while I've never been one to admit failure, I failed everyone involved in this case. I'm not here for some New Age crap about reinvention. I'm here because it was affordable, available, and in driving distance, and I needed a place to hide. None of these women know who I am or why I'm here. I intend to keep it that way. I'll have at least seven days of peace and quiet, time to figure things out. I love my work. Or I did until this last case. Hell, I don't blame the people in Philadelphia who are demanding my head on a platter--yes, some of them actually carried signs depicting this. I want my head on a platter, too. Nothing changes by my coming to this place, except that I'm not in that place where people hate me. A week or so and I'll get myself together and be ready to face what awaits me back in Philadelphia. I'll keep to myself and no one will get hurt.

Learn more about Markie and Julia in LADIES IN WAITING (published by Turquoise Morning Press), available in ebook and trade paperback at Amazon.com

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Liv and Andi from Ladies In Waiting


Continuing my celebration of National Women's History Month and the theme of Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives, I want to introduce the women of LADIES IN WAITING. First up are Liv and Andi.



Hi, this is Liv. When I found the women's retreat in Cape May, New Jersey, I confess I didn't much care about the topic. I saw it as a refuge. I needed an escape, space to just breath, to find out who Liv Zacharias was now. She wasn't the woman hiding under the disguise of hair color and a semi-fictional story. She wasn't the woman the papers made her out to be, either. Of course I fit the profile for the retreat: Embracing the New You: Reinventing Yourself After Fifty. I needed a new you and a reinvention more than anyone I knew. So here I was, sitting in the driveway at Siochain (which I'd learned was a Gaelic word that translated to Peace) and staring at the other women seated on the expansive wrap-around porch of the old Victorian house. I wanted to turn tail and run back to Long Island. What if they recognized me? What if they believed the newspapers? What if my antianxiety meds stopped working? Well, there was only one way to find out.

Andi Ryan here. You know, if you're having a group of menopausal women meet for a retreat on the shore in summer, you should warn them that there's no central air conditioning? When Liv, the newest retreatant to arrive, informed me of that little tidbit, I wanted to get into the car, turn the AC on high, and head straight back to Tom's River. But, damn, I needed this time away. I needed to sort out my feelings about being a young widow (shut up--young is a relative term), being at odds with my almost adult daughter, and finding myself in a very hot relationship with a much younger man. Now this was heat I could tolerate. The Andi I always knew was still in there under all that mess--somewhere. I was sure of that. I just needed to find her again. Sometimes you have to step away from the familiar to see what's right under your nose in the first place. It can be like taking a step back from the mirror and the vision becomes clearer. This was my step back. If the damned hot flashes didn't kill me first. I liked the other women here, at least until I met Julia. You'll see what I mean when you meet her. Now Liv looks so familiar to me, but I just can't place her. Menopause brain, I suppose.

Meet the ladies of LADIES IN WAITING (published by Turquoise Morning Press), available in ebook and trade paperback at Amazon.com.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Lainie - Quiet Time


Meet Lainie Graham, the heroine from QUIET TIME, and hear her remarkable story of survival.


Be careful what you wish for--you just might get it. How many times have I heard that? I never thought that getting what we wish for could be a bad thing, though. Right? Wrong. I'm a busy mom and homemaker. James and I decided I would stay at home at least until our daughter, Chelsea, was in pre-school. I love being a mom. I love keeping a home for James. But I do admit there are times when I'd like to run away alone for just a few minutes and have a little private quiet time. That was my wish. In a most unusual and frightening way, I got my wish.

I never knew what hit me. Truthfully. Not until much later when James told me what happened. I just found myself suddenly trapped inside, aware of the world outside, but unable to participate in it. Your mind can really play with you when you're in this state of suspension. I discovered things about myself that I'd ignored or taken for granted--my ability to be jealous, my ability to doubt those I love, my ability to want to give up. I also discovered my capacity for love and forgiveness. I guess you could say I had a grand awakening in many ways.

Travel inside the mind and heart of a coma patient. Let Lainie show you what that life inside is like. QUIET TIME (a short novella) is available in both ebook and trade paperback at Amazon.com

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Alex Ramsey - Rescued


Today, I'm very pleased to share the story of Alex Ramsey, heroine in RESCUED. 



Some people say that what I do for animal rescue is admirable. Some say I'm crazy to spend so much time, energy and my own money to save a few strays. Others (from my family) suggest I might be trying to work out my own issues. I know that what I do serves a good purpose. I may be a little crazy--something I consider when I'm crawling beneath an abandoned mobile home in the middle of night, looking for puppies. And Lord knows I have issues.

I do what I do because everyone deserves a second chance. I thought my second chance was having the resources to operate Harley's Haven and rescue animals. I didn't realize my second chance came with a nearly six-foot frame and wearing an apron. I figured he needed rescuing, too. What I hadn't counted on was that he would rescue me. And then there was Walter....

You can read RESCUED in ebook and trade paperback, available at Amazon.com.
* Proceeds from the sale of RESCUED benefit the Tunica Humane Society, a no-kill animal shelter in Tunica, Mississippi.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Shannon Chase - Protection


My featured heroine for today--in keeping with the theme of Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives--is Shannon Chase from my romantic suspense novel, PROTECTION.


Sometimes when we're blinded by love (or something we think is love), we find ourselves in a situation not all that easily resolved. And sometimes the wisest thing to do is to disappear. No one was taking my baby away from me. Not her father and certainly his powerful wife. Yeah, I know. This is the blinded part of the story. I believed him when he said he was single. I guess I wanted to believe it. As soon as I learned the truth, I broke it off. But by then I was already pregnant.

I never thought I'd be on the run, leaving my family and friends, my job, my life behind. Driving a back mountain road in the fog and hitting a tree proved to be the best thing that could happen. We met Jake.

We needed his help, his protection, more than I could admit at the time. And he took us in, even though he put himself at risk. I learned that some men can be trust. More importantly, I learned to trust myself.

You can read PROTECTION in ebook or trade paperback. Available at Amazon.com.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Jessica Windsor - In The Spirit


How have you been celebrating National Women's History Month? Hopefully by honoring the strong women you've known. You may even be one of them. Today I celebrate by introducing you to Jessica Windsor, the heroine of my paranormal romance, IN THE SPIRIT.


I never thought of myself as a strong woman. I've made my share of mistakes. And now, here I am having shuffled my son off to my parents so I can hide in a mountain cabin to meet a publishing deadline. Who am I kidding? I can't finish this book. I was just dumped by my fiance and the book is a romance, for crying out loud. Want to know how I feel about romance right now?

I came her to this cabin to work and now I have a cat that's hissing at the wall and weird flashes of light I can't explain. Frankly, it scares me a little. Strong? Ha! I thought I was losing it--my focus, my ability to write--my mind! Then Andrew appeared. Literally 'appeared.' Now, there's a romance for you--Andrew and Laura. Their love story is what gave me courage and strength to delve into the truth, even putting myself at risk. Isn't it funny how we sometimes find strength we don't know we possess for the sake of love, even if it's someone else's love. And, sometimes that opens us up to our own possibilities again.

Learn more of Jessica's story in IN THE SPIRIT available in ebook at Amazon.com.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Vanna Marbury - Dark Horse (Dark Heroes)


Next in the line-up of my book heroines is Vanna Marbury from my novella Dark Horse (Dark Heroes)



I'm a private investigator and I'm also a single mom. So I'm selective about the cases I take on, careful not to put myself in the crosshairs of danger if I don't have to. People think you have to be tough to be a PI. I think it's tougher being a mom. I took on a case trying to recover a stolen colt. How hard could it be to find a stolen thoroughbred colt, solid black with a white star and white boots? Easy, I thought. Unless your search takes you to Lexington, Kentucky where horse farms abound.

I thought I'd found the perfect small stable to board my daughter's horse and keep a low profile for my investigation. I hadn't planned on the likes of Braxton Hicks. Yes, you read that right. The man is named for labor pains and the name fits.

I've had a good track record as an investigator, proud of the fact that (in a manner of speaking), I've always gotten my man. In this case, I just wanted to get my horse. But I ended up with more than I bargained for.


Read the whole story and find out why Brax's name fits with DARK HORSE, available only in ebook at Amazon.com.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Meg Flores - Unconditional


Women face difficult choices every day, often when it comes to matters of the heart. Meet Meg Flores from UNCONDITIONAL


I thought I knew all about love. I grew up surrounded by love--my grandparents, my parents, even my older sister, Audrey--though love was sometimes irrational to her. And then I met Thomas Flores. Oh, he was so beautiful. Really, in that way a man can be beautiful. Classic Latin features with dark eyes that flashed to black when he felt passionate about something. The last time I saw that look, he was telling me our marriage was over.

To say Thomas broke my heart would be to minimize what his pronouncement did to me. If he'd left me for another woman, well, that would have been oddly understandable given that he left me for his secretary. His male secretary. I didn't know how to fight that choice. Thomas took everything from me--love, trust, and my future.

And despite all that, deep down where it mattered most, I still loved him. When the tables turned in a most hideous way, that love was tested. How do you know when love is unconditional? When it demands more of you than you think you have to give.

Read Meg's entire story in UNCONDITIONAL, available in ebook and trade paperback at Amazon.com.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Valerie Marks - A Falling Star


Today's featured heroine is Valerie Marks from A FALLING STAR. 


I wouldn't consider myself a heroine. Isn't that like a female hero? And to my estimation, I've done nothing heroic. I had the same big dreams many of my friends in high school had--to get out of this small town and build a career somewhere else. Anywhere else. I also thought that future might include Spencer Pulaski, my first love. We had plans, or so I thought.

He broke my heart. But I got over it. I got over Spence. I made tough choices that I believed were for the good and returned home to run the local newspaper owned by my grandfather.

I had built a good life there for myself and my daughter, Ali. Sure, there were things missing in my life. But I have time to fill in the empty spaces.

And who shows up on a street corner in Clarkston one afternoon? Spence Parker (formerly Pulaski), recently dubbed 'sexiest man alive' by at least three national magazines. And, dammit, just like that, one of those empty spaces began to ache. I was not just sitting here waiting for the day Spence would come back home. I wasn't. Honestly. But here he was now and eleven years got ripped off like a Bandaid. If he thinks he going to waltz back in here all movie-star gorgeous and pick up where we left off, he's...well, he's... Crap, he might be right. But I have no intention of making it easy.

You can read more of Val's story from A FALLING STAR at Amazon.com.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Jennifer Barnes - Act of Contrition


Meet Jennifer Barnes, heroine of ACT OF CONTRITION, as we continue to celebrate National Women's History Month.


Growing up in Miley's Cove, Maine was like growing up inside a warm hug. My dad, until he was killed, my grandparents, and the Doyles. Especially Patrick. We were friends, then best friends, then lovers Then...Well, then we had a fight and I left.

When my husband and son died in a car crash, one in which I was driving, my physical injuries healed long before the other ones--the ones that would leave permanent scars that only I would see. I could only thing of one place to go--home. Even though my grandparents were gone and the small cottage on Penobscot Bay sat empty. That seemed a fitting place for me, since I also sat empty. And alone.

The accident wasn't my fault. That's what everyone tells me. I wasn't speeding. The roads were wet. We hydroplaned. See, the thing is, I can't clearly remember those few moments because I was distracted by Matt, my husband. We were arguing, as usual. I woke in the hospital to learn I'd lost Matt and my precious, precious son, Cooper. He was named for the small island in the bay where I'd always found magic and mystery and peace.

I came back now to try to find that peace once again. What I didn't expect to find--or should I say who--was Patrick Doyle. I'm strong, a survivor. At least I used to be. I'm just not sure how to survive another round of Patrick.

Read all of Jenny's story in ACT OF CONTRITION at Amazon.com.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Trudi Sheppard - The Promise Tree


Meet one of my more 'mature' heroines, Trudi McNeil Sheppard from THE PROMISE TREE.


When I moved from Paxton Corners, the small rural West Virginia town where I grew up, I vowed I'd never return. Not for more than few days visit to my mother. I'd left the small town, the old farm house and Wynn Colton behind years ago. I'd lived a whole life since then--married, had two daughters, divorced, made a nursing career for myself. Life was good.

It wasn't without its struggles. My father died and left mom alone. Then she began to, as the doctor put it, "fail." She became frail and forgetful. I convinced myself I was being a good daughter by hiring someone to live in and provide care. Boy, the lies we can tell ourselves convincingly. When her caregiver quit, I had to hurry home to put a new plan into place--convince Mom to go into a care facility, either there or in South Carolina where I now live. These things always seem reasonable on paper, don't they?

My eldest daughter was about to make me a grandmother for the first time and I'd promised to be there for the birth. One thing at a time, though. I flew to Paxton Corners thinking I'd be there for a week, two at the most. One evening I took a stroll at sunset to the creek and to tree Wynn and I had dubbed The Promise Tree. I soon found myself caught between a freight train load of memories from the past and a future slipping out of my control. Control is a funny thing. We think we need it until we have it, then we realize we don't want all that responsibility. I could no more control my feelings for Wynn Colton than I could control the disease that was dragging my mother deeper and deeper into darkness. All I really needed to do was to let go.

THE PROMISE TREE is available in ebook at Amazon.com and in trade paperback at Wings ePress.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Candace Hudson - Wake-Up Call


As I continue to introduce the heroines of my novels in a celebration of National Women's History Month: Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives, let me introduce you to Candace Hudson from Wake-Up Call. Candace and I have one thing in common--we're both social workers.


I'm a little embarrassed to admit to my behavior at that conference in New York. I'm generally a level-headed and responsible person. While it's not an excuse, I can say things have been difficult lately, what with my mother's passing and then being made a complete fool of by my fiance, Randall Spiker. Then this cowboy appears at my door--Griff Calhoun--all six feet, boots and cowboy hat.

I have to say that I managed to check almost every item off my 'do not do this' list in the weeks after I met Griff. What can I say? The heart wants what the heart wants? (I'm not a fan of cliches, but in this case, it's true.) When I answered the phone in my hotel room that morning thinking I was politely responding to what I later realized would have been an automated wake-up call, I couldn't imagine I would get exactly the Wake-Up Call I needed. (And so did Griff!)

WAKE-UP CALL is available in ebook and trade paperback at Amazon.com.

Friday, March 13, 2015

M.J. Rich - Reinventing Christmas

Women Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives - National Women's History Month. Meet M.J. Rich, the heroine from REINVENTING CHRISTMAS.


You may have heard the saying, "You can't go home again." That's not true. You can go home again. Just don't expect things to be the same as you left them.

I love my family. They're everything to me. They're crazy and loving and fractured. But they're mine. When I decided to spend Christmas at home instead of at a ski lodge with my ego-driven boyfriend, I thought I'd be walking into something like a warm embrace where I could just relax and be myself and enjoy the holiday.





Boy, was I wrong. It didn't help that a blizzard hit and I got stranded at an airport halfway home. I was brought up to be cautious with a long list of things you never do. I'm sure somewhere on that list is: You never share a rental car with a strange man in an airport and drive half way across the state of Pennsylvania with him. I'm very sure that list included: You never, ever share a deserted mountain cabin with a strange man in the middle of a snowstorm. And then turn around and invite him to join you and your family for Christmas.

I've discovered that, when things don't go the way you anticipate, when what you knew to be true has changed, it's time for reinvention.

REINVENTING CHRISTMAS is a sweet contemporary romance available at Amazon.com and in trade paperback at Champagne Books.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Trish Garrity - Love, Sam

Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives--the theme for National Women's History Month. Meet Trish Garrity from my award-winning novel, LOVE, SAM.


I think I felt different my entire life. Different even from my twin sister, Tracie. Different from everyone I knew. Until I met Sam. Then I was home.

Life can be so unfair, you know. We had almost six years before.... I learned something from Sam. I learned the true meaning of love. Yeah, I know that sounds so cliche. But it's true. Love isn't all hearts and flowers and romance, though those things are nice. Love is about caring about the other person both in life and until death. Sometimes after.

If Sam hadn't left me a path to follow, hadn't shown me the way through the pain and back into life, I'd have been lost forever. If I never love again, I know that I was loved so completely by Sam. It still amazes me that, even in death, Sam could bring people into my life and take me places that bring me peace.

Read Trish's whole story in LOVE, SAM at Amazon.com and in trade paperback at Champagne Books.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lexie Morgan - Shooting Into The Sun


Continuing the theme of Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives to celebrate National Women's History Month, allow me to introduce you to a secondary character who could have easily taken over the story--Lexie Morgan.


I think you may have met my big sisters, Rylee, already? Yeah, I know--she can be a real pill. I love her dearly, but honestly if she comes up with one more freakin' rule to live by, I'm gonna scream. I'm surprised her head doesn't explode trying to remember all the rules and the boundaries she sets. She's wound tighter than grandma's mantle clock.

I, on the other hand, know how to enjoy life. My philosophy: Rules are just suggestions and meant to be broken. Boundaries are there to be tested. You have to push yourself and the boundaries if you're going to get anywhere in this life.

Sure, sometimes that results in disaster. Take my former engagement, for example. Now THAT was huge mistake. But I learned from it and no one died. Mainly because I didn't have a gun on me when I walked in on Jimmy, my fiance, in bed with my best former best friend. If there's one thing I know I can count on, though, it's my sister's need to fix things and maintain order. It is cool having a sister eight years older. Especially when I have a mother who's trying to be two years younger than I am.

Rylee finally offered to take me with her on her summer job that meant driving all around the country. I've never been outside the county. She hired me as her 'assistant.' I knew what that meant--"Lexie, get me this" and "Lexie, put this away for me." I didn't mind. It was a free trip around the country. I figured in addition to gophering, it was also my job to help Rylee loosen up and extract that stick from her butt. I thought she'd pop an artery when we--meaning I--offered a ride to a hitchhiker. Turned out to be the best thing I ever did for Rylee. Life's too short to keep yourself on a leash. That's my motto.


To get a few more smiles from Lexie, check out Shooting Into The Sun at Amazon.com and in trade paperback at Champagne Books.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Rylee Morgan - Shooting Into the Sun


Today's featured heroine in the celebration of National Women's History Month: Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives is Rylee Morgan from Shooting Into The Sun.


I'm a professional photographer. I don't have time for nonsense. Some people don't understand that, among them my kid sister, Lexie. You'll have to meet her sometime. But I'm here to tell you about myself. Which is a challenge. I don't like talking about myself or about my life. What good is rehashing the past? You can't change anything. You just fix a goal for yourself and set one foot in front of the other and don't deviate from the path. Then you'll be fine.

Except I made the mistake of deviating from my path. To give you a little background, I learned photography in my childhood from my dad, Ryan Morgan. See, I'm named for both my mother and father--Ryan and Lee Ann Morgan. Hence, Rylee. But I was always Daddy's girl. At least until Daddy left. 

I still have the old camera he gave me right before he got into his car and drove away sixteen years ago, never to be seen or heard from again. I studied photography and then got hired at the school I graduated from. And, now, I have a major opportunity to travel around the country for the summer, shooting America. It's a lot of driving and hotel rooms and strange places, but I love the solitude when I work. And that would have been fine by me if it wasn't for Lexie having a life crisis. See, I'm more of a mother to Lexie, who is eight years younger, than my mother is for either of us.

I was looking for a summer of travel and adventure and work. I was NOT looking for a summer of teasing and loud music and explaining myself every five minutes. I also was NOT looking to pick up a hitchhiker (way outside my comfort zone and list of rules) and then fall in love with him. Where did that come from?

One of things I like about photography is that it has certain rules attached in order to get the best results. Not the least of which is: You never shoot into the sun. I thought life worked the same way. I'm not one to easily admit I'm wrong, but....well... I suppose we all are at one time or another.

Read more of Rylee's story in Shooting Into The Sun at Amazon.com and in trade paperback at Champagne Books.



Monday, March 9, 2015

Lynn - Next Time I'm Gonna Dance


The continuing celebration of National Women's History Month and Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives. Let me introduce Lynn, one of Emmie Steele's closest friends and her sister-in-law.


Since Polly already made it clear that she's Emmie's "best" friend, I'll have to settle for being one of her closest friends. But I do have the singular distinction of being Emmie's sister-in-law. We're family but, then, all of us women are Emmie's sisters.

I met Emmie and the others later when my family moved and I transferred into their school. I thought it would be hard being the "new girl." But I was only the new girl for half a day, then I was Emmie's friend and, by virtue of that, friends with Brett, Chris and Polly. That's Emmie--she only knows a stranger for ten minutes and she's quick to act to ease another's discomfort.

That was the challenge for me when Emmie was diagnosed not once, but twice, with breast cancer. Being there for her despite my own fears. Being with her despite the panic and desire to run. Making her more comfortable. I didn't think I could feel any closer to Emmie and the others. But by including us in her struggle, Emmie brought us all even closer.

I'm usually the voice of reason, the one with the level head of our group. Brett, well you've met Brett. She's a lawyer so everything's kind of black and white. Polly, the soap opera writer, is all about the drama. And Chris. What can I say about Chris? She just so darned--good. But she's has that devilish side, too. Yeah, she's a nun, but not all rigid and stuffy and holier than thou.

What would they all say about me? They'd say I'm good in an emergency. They'd say I can cry at the drop of a hat. They'd say I chose teaching to fulfill my desire to have a child--something that never happened for my husband and myself. Emmie opened me up to new possibilities. What else would my friends say about me? That I'm not too old to learn.

Read more about Lynn, Emmie and all of their friends in Next Time I'm Gonna Dance at Amazon.com and in trade paperback at Champagne Books.