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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween AP-PLES!!!

I remember (in ancient times - ahem!) when I was a child in Winnipeg. Halloween was the day us kids would hurry home from school in a panic to get our costumes organized. Back in “the good ole days” my mom used to get a bunch of used clothes out from the closet in readiness. My sister and I would fight and scramble to get the pieces that would best fit our vision of whatever witch or old man our mom had dictated as our choices for that year.


The money was never there to buy costumes. Folks today think of it as a necessity but we never had the wherewithal for such foolishness. Not when there were pieces of cardboard, old clothes and paints to make up something that would ensure us our ultimate goal - that of getting as much candy as possible.


As the light waned, we’d watch out the window, prancing from foot to foot, praying that the streetlights would come on soon. It was our sign that the time had come. Mom would give us each a pillow-slip and some gloves (Winnipeg right??) and off we’d go to join hordes of other goblins all racing to and fro to get their anticipated cache.


Up and down the streets childish voice yelled Halloween Apples??!! Little ones in the care of older brothers and sisters were dragged along, forced to keep up because there were only so many houses in the neighborhood that would give away candy apples as reimbursement for singing a song. And everyone on our street had practiced their song knowing that the reward far outstripped the effort.


Soon we’d have to drop off the first load at the house because the pillowcases, half full of apples, would be heavier than we could manage, and mom would have warned us that she would be running out and would need reinforcements from our precious supply before the night was over. At first, we always begrudged this necessity, but after stuffing our faces with as much junk as we could force down, it didn’t seem to be so painful to let her pass some of it back out again.


Finally by the end of the evening—we’d stick it out as long as there were lights on in front doors and our frozen fingers and toes could stand the cold—we’d head home to peruse our catch and gloat about the candy we’d stuffed into pockets, hoping that sharp motherly eyes wouldn’t see the bulges.


Because we so seldom had candy, parents in those days knew that the best way to handle this bounty was to pass out daily treats in order to make it last. Funny thing is, by the end of the week, we’d run out. Always wondered how that could happen. Of course, today I know exactly where the stuff went.

Darn sneaky parents!!
 Christmas Runaway - a short story!

One 5 star review read -
Mimi Barbour has pushed all the Christmas buttons in this endearing short story; loneliness, family misunderstandings, the realization of how fast time goes by, traditional foods, snowy weather, even a beloved family pet.
If you enjoy heartwarming Christmas romances, you will wile away a pleasant hour reading Christmas Runaway.
This book and many other fabulous short stories will be FREE in a Partay starting November 1st at http://freepartay.com


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Readers: Trick Or Treat by Joan Reeves

I’m a trivia collector. I love the odd fact -- especially odd facts and bits of esoteric knowledge about authors.

Since tomorrow is Halloween, I thought I'd celebrate early by offering some tempting treats to whet your appetite -- for books, of course. Or, am I trying to trick you with falsehoods? After all, the phrase of choice on Halloween is Trick or Treat.

So, I'll leave it up to you whether I'm offering an amusing tidbit of knowledge or tricking you with a made-up bit of fancy.

1. Stephen King's real name is Richard Bachman.

2.In the last seven years of his life, Thomas Hardy, author of Far From The Madding Crowd, took no baths.

3.  Jude Deveraux's real name is Judy.

4. LaVyrle Spencer was the protege of the late Kathleen Woodiwiss.

5. Lord Byron set his hair in curlers at night. (True, he probably wasn't the only man of his day to do so, but the mental picture is still funny.)

6. Sandra Brown wrote the very first Harlequin American Romance.

7. Charles Dickens idolized his grandchildren and loved to be called Grandpa.

8. Jayne Ann Krentz writing as Jayne Castle wrote the very first Dell Candlelight Ecstasy Romance.

9. Frank is the real first name of Mickey Spillane.

10. Ernest Hemingway said of Harold Robbins: "Robbins is a jerk."

11. Continuing insults, here's one from history. Tolstoy said of Nietzsche: "Nietzsche was stupid and abnormal."

12. Kurt Vonnegut said: "I’d rather have written Cheers than anything I’ve written."

Truth Will Out

1. Trick. Bachman is a psuedonym Stephen King has used.

2. Treat. And yuk!

3. Trick. Jude was a Jude from birth. Jude Gilliam.

4. Treat. Yes, LaVyrle Spencer and Kathleen Woodiwiss were neighbors, and Kathleen became her mentor.

5. Treat. Yes, I know it makes a less than sexy image of the famous lover, but it's true.

6. Treat. Tomorrow's Promise by Sandra Brown was #001 in the Harlequin American Romance line.

7. Trick. Dickens was less than avuncular. In fact, he detested being called Grandpa.

8. Trick. Joan Hohl writing as Amii Lorin was the author of The Tawny Gold Man, Dell Candelight Ecstasy Romance #001. Jayne Krentz wrote #002, The Gentle Pirate.

9. Treat. Yes, hard-boiled mystery author Mickey Spillane was indeed named Frank.

10. Trick. It's the other way around. Harold Robbins said: "Hemingway is a jerk."

11. Treat. Totally true. Many of the literary giants made scathing remarks about other authors. Truman Capote had something nasty to say about everyone it seems. He was infamous and prolific in his biting remarks so it's kind of pointless to single out any individual for his caustic comments. Gee, if these guys had the Internet, just think of the flame wars they could have engaged in.

12. Treat. Mr. Vonnegutt did say that. I think he appreciated the best in popular culture. I can only imagine the magic he could have brought to Cheers had he indeed written a script for them.

Post Script

Authors are endlessly interesting because they are mere humans, with the foibles and attributes all humans possess.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Creating Characters

How do you encounter your own characters?

***Do you make a composite of your characters before you start writing your story? Here are mine for the characters you'll find in Book 1- Partners & Book 2 - Roll the Dice for the hot new Vegas series.



My Characters:

Aurora MorelliHeroine

- Sapphire blue eyes, long dark hair, compact body. Looks feminine but hates it.

- Has always tried to overcome her size by the strength of her personality. There's a chip on her shoulder that she nourishes. It's her protection from getting hurt—that and sarcasm, many times humorous.

- She wears high-heeled boots and walks tall, with her head up and shoulders back to add height because she hates feeling inadequate for being so short.

- Concealed under those boots, she has ankle bracelets and painted toenails.

- She hates her bitch of a mother because the woman killed herself in a drunken rage and never, ever gave her daughter any inkling that she mattered. Therefore the little girl hiding inside Aurora still craves those missing hugs.

- She's a secret romantic, loves the happy endings and hides her romance books all around her apartment.

- She's a little Miss Homemaker, has recipes books and bottles of fancy oils in her kitchen. There are homemade quilted pillows on her sofa and herb plants on her windowsill.

- Born and raised in Casa Grande, loves the Coyotes and has a favorite souvenir coffee mug. Her lieutenant grew up near her and they know each other's backgrounds, and therefore they have a special attachment.

- Las Vegas detective for 5 years and has worked with a female partner, Debbie, who she loves more than anyone else. They've formed an attachment closer than sisters, and Debbie is the only person who she's let inside her protective armour. From the night Debbie gets assaulted, Aurora has a mission. Find the serial rapist who hurt the person she loves most. Then put the animal away.

- When Debbie becomes pregnant, takes leave, and gets married to none other than the lieutenant, knitted within Aurora's happiness, feelings of envy emerge. One day, she wants to get married and have her own baby.

- She's had lovers, but never anyone who matters enough for her to change. The men she's actually attracted to aren't the men she chooses to date. It's the hotshot, sexy, cowboy type that sets her heart beating faster, especially if they have the charisma of a lover and the looks to back it up.

***Do you make a detailed analysis or a short, spotlight into each person? A kind of profile to give you an idea of what drives each person to act the way they do under any situation.

Kai LarsonHero

- This man is a Bruce Willis lookalike, has a bald head and his eyes are deep and blue.

- He's a natural tease, a bit of a smartass, and sharp as a whip. Likes to take control.

- He carries a computer case that looks like a purse and wears tight blue jeans, cowboy boots, and favors t-shirts.

- Being that he's from L.A., it isn't hard to believe that his favorite hockey team is the L.A. Kings.

- In L.A. he's a sergeant and has turned down multiple chances at moving up the ladder. He likes working the streets and is good at it.

- He was in the army with Aurora's lieutenant, and after their stints were up, they went to the same police academy. When Kai needs to move to Las Vegas to find and kill the man who'd raped his sister, he places a call and the move is on.

- Except that when he arrives, he's forced to take on a partner. A woman partner who's fixated on getting the same man he wants, only she wants to put him in jail. A woman walking around with a huge chip on her shoulder, and he soon realizes that it turns him on.

- Blessed with good parents, a happy childhood and a gift of attracting the females, he grew up unconsciously feeling entitled.

- Then his sister was raped. From that day he's changed. Made a vow of vengeance. She lost her life and so will the man who'd made her feel such despair that her only way out was to kill herself.

***Or like me, do you fill in these characteristics as the story grows? I find that it's only by how they deal with each conflict I throw at them, that their personalities start becoming clear. And I do love conflicts!

I have a fairly good idea of their looks, because before I ever put any words on file, I've lived with the characters in my head for a few weeks. By then I can see them as clear as if I was remembering an old friend.

It's how they react under different sets of circumstances that's still a mystery which gets solved as I write their story.

***How do you deal with the people in your story? It'll be interesting to see how many of us work in the same way.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Winchester Mystery House - Perfect for Spooktober!

Have you ever heard of the Winchester House? This interesting (and creepy!) house is located in San Jose, California. Built by Sarah Winchester, construction on the house began in 1884 and continued around the clock (24/7) for 38 years. Construction finally stopped on the day she died – 5 Sep 1922. Famed magician Harry Houdini visited the house in 1924 and called it a 'mystery house.' Nowadays the structure is known as the Winchester Mystery House.

Many claimed the house was haunted. There are approximately 160 rooms, 47 fireplaces, 17 chimneys, 2 basements, and 3 elevators. At the time it was built it had forced air heating, flushing toilets, plumbing, and hot showers.

To understand the house one needs to know what fueled Sarah Winchester's motivations. She was born in 1840 in New Haven, Connecticut and had a privileged upbringing, learning to speak 4 languages. In 1862 she married William Winchester, the manufacturer of the Winchester repeating rifle. The couple was off to a happy start, but in 1866 their infant daughter, Annie, died to a mysterious illness. In 1881, William and depression. She visited a medium in Boston. The medium counseled Sarah saying her family and money were haunted by all those people killed by Winchester rifles and she was the next victim. However, if she traveled west and built a house for the spirits killed by the rifles, as long as the house was under construction, Sarah's life would not be in danger. Heeding the medium's advice, Sarah went west and in 1884 bought an unfinished farmhouse.
Things that go bump in the Night

Sarah had an interesting love/hate relationship with the spirits inhabiting the Winchester House.

She never slept in the same bedroom 2 nights in a row so as to confuse the evil spirits.

The house had an abundance of light sources so the spirits wouldn't feel conspicuous by shadows since they couldn't cast their own.

Only 2 mirrors were placed in the house though. Ms. Winchester believed the ghosts in the house were afraid of their own reflection.

Interestingly, Sarah Winchester never gave an interview or left a journal. There are hundreds of wild stories about her the house, the ghosts. Who's to say what's true?

Question: Has anyone ever visited the Winchester House? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Enjoy Spooktober!

Stephanie's latest 99 cent story, "Feast of Candles," is set in Sonoma, California. A spicy contemporary romance. Drake deBrettville is about to take the biggest chance of his life over a bottle of wine. He travels to Sonoma, CA to meet Lily Marquand, the winemaker. Can he break through the battlements that surround Lily's heart?

BLURB: Drake takes the biggest chance of his life all because of a bottle of wine. Can he breakthrough the battlements surrounding Lily's lonely heart?
Small Excerpt:

He stared into her eyes, keeping his hand on her waist. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing." She hesitated. "Everything. You..." her voice trailed off. Silence grew between them. God, what had she been thinking? Was it possible to have a future 5 with him?

5 Stars, Loves Romance Reviews:
The ending with the feast of candles is so romantic, you'll want your own.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Hallo-Weenie

 Nothing says Halloween like a really good scare.  Haunted houses abound with ghosties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night.  As a rule, I do not lend myself to the joys of haunted houses, but my husband/sons convinced me that I wasn’t a complete person unless I experienced a good Halloween nightmare.  Fortunately, from my sons’ viewpoint, this year a Haunted Forest had materialized in the dark recesses of the countryside.  Now a haunted house, to my mind, would seem enough.  How big can a haunted house be?  But a haunted forest?  The idea invoked mental images of miles and miles of trauma-induced psychosis.  Still, I wanted to be part of the group (as much a part as one lone female can be in a male-oriented household). 
            The males determined that the most propitious time to visit the Haunted Forest would be on Saturday night (which gave me all week to prepare and all day Sunday to recover).  Saturday night arrived.  Was I ready for this?  I didn’t think so, but off we went.  The night was very dark and cold.  I had enough winter gear on to be warm even in a worst-case scenario.  Unfortunately, it also made me somewhat challenged in my ability to move with any amount of speed or agility. 
 We arrived at the Haunted Forest.  A long line was waiting, but I took this as a good omen—the gates might be closed before I actually got in.  Slowly the line climbed forward and, about an hour later, we finally made it to the entrance—an entrance guarded by vampires (of course) and the eerie sound of screaming echoing through the night air.  I handed the lead vampire my ticket and we stepped onto the unlit path. 
The vampire hissed. “Stay on the path if you value your life.” 
Well, I can tell you, I value my life!!!  I was going to hug that path like gorilla glue.  My men grouped around me, offering their protection, and we started off.  I tried walking with my eyes closed, but kept tripping over things on the path.  I opened my eyes, and—continued tripping over things on the path.  It was so very dark.  Trees lined the path on both sides, their spiny limbs reaching out to grab unlucky passersby. 

            We stumbled on.  Most of the time we were guided only by the feel of the path beneath our feet.  As we came around a corner and into a small open space lit by the full moon, the “Headless Horseman,” riding a huge gray maniacal-looking horse galloped towards us.  Screaming hysterically, I ran down the path. Gasping for breath, I stopped running, thinking we had left the “Horseman” behind (simply stated, because the weight of my clothing kept me from running very far or fast).  I turned and, staring me right in the face, to my total and utter terror, was the “Headless Horseman’s” horse—nose to nose.  I turned and ran again as fast as I could. But have you ever seen a Sumo wrestler run?  I heard my men ahead of me crashing through the bushes. As I stumbled through the dark, “Jason” armed with a chain saw revved his motor.  I ran faster of course (probably at normal walking pace), down the dark path into nothingness.  My men were ahead of me and I could barely see them by the light of the tree shrouded moon.  As they hit a corner in the path, my husband tripped over my youngest son and down they went.  Very solicitously, “Jason” ran over and leaned down to help them up.
Are you hurt? “Jason” asked.
When my men said they were okay, “Jason” immediately revved up his chain saw and after my men he went.  I edged by and ran for the trees.  I was alone—alone in the Haunted ForestHow did this happen?  Where was everyone?  I was too old for this sort of thing.  Scary things scare me!
            With my hands out in front of me, I blindly groped forward, knowing in the deepest chasms of my soul that huge spiders were waiting to jump on or entangle me in their monstrous webs.  A hideous giant snake dropped down from a tree and stared me in the face.  A bat landed on my head.  A hand reached out and grabbed me!  I couldn’t take much more of this, I can tell you. 
            Alone and unprotected!  Who knew what lurked in the deep shadows of the night, but I was learning the hard way.  I crept forward, bumping into trees, waiting for the next monstrous appellation to attack, praying for salvation.  My life swam before me.  Why was I here?  Was this how my life would end?  Surely this torture would soon be over.
            After hours it seemed, my oldest son found me. 
            “Where have you been, Mom, we’ve been looking all over for you.” 
            Like I had run away or something!  “I’ve been right here trying to find my way out—I want out, and I want out now.” 
            “Oh, come on, Mom,” he said. “It isn’t that bad.”
            Sure, he could say that, he wasn’t the one left all alone, in the dark. 
            The Good Lord was watching out for me.  Thankfully, my son took my hand and led me along the path to safety. 
            I’d made it!  I was back in the light, back in the center of real people—alive.  I had made it!  And not too soon for me! 

P.L. Parker is the author of two 99 cent ebooks - Fiona and Riley's Journey.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I'm a Bargain Hunter. Are You? by Morgan Mandel

I'm a bargain hunter. I go to the grocery store on Wednesdays for double coupon days. Although I frequent local restaurants which offer reasonable prices, I also check flyers for dine-in or carryout deals. Even the phone book has coupons for pizza places and other spots. I love going to garage and rummage sales to find hidden treasures.

When I buy books, I'm the same way. Unless I know the author personally, More than $4.99 seems a lot to pay for a Kindle book. Most of my purchases are in the $2.99 to 99 cents range.

Print books? Again, I won't buy one unless written by a friend.

I know some of you will pay almost any price to get your hands on a book you're dying to read. That's a good thing, if you can afford to do that.

Still, I suspect there are many of you out there who are bargain hunters like me. That's why all of my Kindle books are at 99 cents, from my new novella, Her Handyman, to my longer novels, Forever Young: Blessing or Curse, Killer Career, Girl of My Dreams and Two Wrongs.

Her Handyman by
Morgan Mandel

Morgan Mandel
Many of you may have even downloaded Her Handyman for free during the recent promo days, and taken advantage of that bargain. If so, I hope you enjoyed the experience and would like to check out my other 99 cent books, while they're at that low price.

Enough commercials. I'm sure you'd rather read a book. (g)

Morgan Mandel
Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/morganmandel
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/morgansbooks

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Years ago a Kensington editor asked me to write a novella about an historic wedding. That's all the guideline she gave me, but when I told her how I was progressing and the plot, she said "No, no, that's not what I want." She wanted a disastrous wedding modeled after “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” but I don’t like that type humor. To me, it’s not funny when a bride’s dress catches on fire or she falls into her wedding cake. But, money talks, so I tried for MY version of a disastrous, yet funny, wedding. By this time, I had only three weeks until the deadline.

First, I asked my friends if anything went wrong on their wedding day. Wow, did I get ideas! My husband and I were incredibly lucky and nothing disastrous or humorous happened to us - unless you count as funny the fact we were so nervous we practically had to support one another. I gathered the ideas I could use from those who shared, and my friends from the Yellow Rose RWA chapter helped me plot this novella.

Once I started writing HAPPY IS THE BRIDE, I enjoyed the process a great deal. I love the hero and heroine, and came to love the secondary characters - except for the bride’s parents. That cold, stuffy, snobby couple deserved one another.

A while back, the rights reverted back to me and HAPPY IS THE BRIDE now available for 99 cents. What a great deal!

Here’s the blurb:

Beth Pendleton is tired of the gossip her three failed engagements--each arranged by her pompous father--have created. She knows she’s not a jinx, an Ice Queen, a snob, or any of the other hurtful labels slapped on her. She takes food to the ill, serves the community in numerous ways, and is active in church. For her twenty-eight years she has tried to please her demanding parents. Neither her mother nor her father has ever had an encouraging word to say to her. Spiteful comments from her only cousin incite Beth to take charge of her fate. She proposes to Mason Whittaker, her lifelong friend and champion.

Mason Whittaker, is a hero after any woman’s heart. Carrying on his father’s ranching tradition, he has strong family ties. Unlike Beth’s critical parents, Mason’s mother and father are loving and kind and he has a close knit extended family. As long as Mason can remember, he’s been in love with Beth. The only time he loses his temper is when he hears someone speak ill of her. But he’s learned to count to ten--or twenty--to curb his anger. He never believed he’d be able to marry her. Her proposal astonished and pleased him. But wait...did she mention love?

Will Mason marry Beth and put an end to the gossip? And what about that silly bet Beth made with cousin Rachel that Beth would be wed by the end of June? What will Mason think if he learns of her impetuous gamble? But Beth’s bet is not the only hazard to their wedding. Murphy’s Law is working overtime as Beth and Mason battle outside forces to create their happily ever after.

This historic church is only a
few miles from my home.

And here’s and excerpt from HAPPY IS THE BRIDE:

Mason took Beth's hand and tucked it in the crook of his arm. "Let's take a stroll by the river."

She looked back at the chapel, knew she should help her mother, and weighed her mother's irritability against her own desire to walk with Mason. He put his hand over hers, and that contact swayed her. Instead of the comfort his touch used to arouse, currents of lightning shot through her.

Why would an engagement make a difference between her and a friend of more than twenty years?

All she knew was that since she'd proposed to Mason, her reaction to him had changed. His presence incited escalating odd sensations, and she had the most scandalous thoughts. She questioned whether he had the same thoughts, and the heat of a blush reached her cheeks.

There hadn't been time for proper courting. He'd called on her, but other than the day she proposed to him, they'd had no time alone. Her parents accompanied her to his home and that of his parents. When he called on her, one of her parents remained in the room. A hasty kiss on the cheek was all he'd given her, but his soulful looks let her know he wanted more.

Her breath hitched, and she struggled to keep her eyes averted for fear he might read her mind. Her mother said a lady never had thoughts of the flesh, yet Beth couldn't stop dwelling on it. Would he be scandalized? Right now she wondered how his lips tasted.

Mason guided her under the back edge of the building between two of the stone columns and pulled her into his arms. "Forgive me, Beth, I can't wait for this any longer."

Strawberry jam.

Mason Whittaker
He tasted sweet as the jam she'd given him last week. She melted against him, and he deepened the kiss. His tongue traced the line of her lips, and she opened to his invasion. She gasped, but his tongue probed against hers and created a pool of warmth low in her abdomen. Her knees threatened to give way, and she clung to him.

Surprised at the giddiness his action evoked, she soon matched his thrusts with her own tongue. Dear heaven, the thoughts that aroused. A pulsing, aching heat built in her private place. Much more of this and she'd burst into flame.

One of his hands caressed her breast, and new tingles shot through her. He broke contact with her lips to murmur between kisses to her neck, "I can hardly wait to view these beauties tonight."

She looked up at him. "V-view them?" She whispered, "You mean see, um, see me without clothes on?"

He smiled. "Yes, that's what I mean. Not a stitch on either one of us, just like God made us."

"Is that proper?" Panic seized her. Right now she wanted to give Adam back his rib.

But then Mason moved his hand across her nipple, those tingles changed to jolts of pleasure, and she reconsidered. Maybe this man-woman thing wouldn't be too bad, in spite of what her mother said.

Mason's other hand cupped her bottom and tucked her into him. She sensed a hard bulge pressing against her as he resumed their kiss. It must be his man thing, and she worried at the size of it. How could that fit inside her?

Breathless, she broke the kiss. He pulled her to him and cradled her head against his chest. She slid her arms around his waist and savored his embrace. In spite of her worries about tonight, in his arms she knew peace.

He kissed her temple. "Can't tell you how much I've needed this. I've dreamed of us alone in our own home tonight."

That's when they'd come together. But Mason wouldn't do anything to hurt her. She trusted him.

"I look forward to it, too. We make a fine couple, and we'll have a good life together." She raised her head and asked the question that had worried her since she'd proposed to him.

"Mason, you're not sorry you said yes, are you?" She knew he'd never go back on a promise, but it worried her that he might regret that he'd agreed to wed her.

He brushed his lips against hers in a soft, sweet kiss. "I'm only sorry we've wasted years when we should have been together. We belong with one another."

"I'm relieved you feel that way." She sighed and nuzzled into him. "In spite of all the talk, I'm feeling very lucky right now."

"Not nearly as lucky as me. I've wanted this as long as I can remember."

Thunderstruck, she looked up at him. He wanted her? "Mason, you never said. Why didn't you tell me long ago?"

"I couldn't. You were so all-fired set on pleasing your folks by going to that fancy school up north. Then when you came back, well, I thought you were too fine a lady for the likes of me."

Did Mason think her a snob? The suggestion created a ball of worry hi her. "How could you think such a thing? If—if I gave you that idea from anything I said or did, then I apologize. There's no finer man anywhere than you, Mason."

He pulled her back to his chest, and she heard him exhale, a great whoosh of breath, as if he'd been holding in the air. "I thought you deserved a whole man, someone not hampered by a limp."

She pushed away from him with her hands rested on his chest. "Mason Whittaker, don't ever let me hear you say another word against yourself. I'm real sorry about your leg because I know it pains you, but that doesn't make you less of a man. In fact, you've achieved success in spite of being slowed by it, so that makes you twice the man of anyone else I know."

He pushed a stray curl from her face. "You always championed me. Guess that's one reason why I love you."

He loved her.

She didn't know what to say. Mason Whittaker actually said he loved her. She should answer him. But how? Instead, she clung to him, pressed herself against him, and held on. Dear Lord, and she'd asked him to marry her because of a bet. She should tell him, confess right now. But she knew his temper and his hard-shelled pride. If he found out, that pride of his would drive him away. She couldn't bear another cancelled wedding. More, she couldn't bear losing Mason as her best friend and their future together.

Now she was forced to face the question of whether she loved Mason as a man or just as a friend? She hadn't considered that. She'd been so determined to show her cousin Rachel and stop the laughter and humiliation that she hadn't stopped to consider the consequences for Mason.

How selfish she'd been. The knowledge made her ashamed of her hasty proposal. Then she remembered that when she decided to find her own groom, she hadn't considered anyone but Mason.

Did she love him?

Mrs. Pendleton's shrill voice saved Beth from answering Mason.

"Bethaneeeeee. Where are you?"

"Oh, no, we'd better go around by the wagons. Mother sounds upset with me." She loathed breaking contact with him, but stepped away. "Soon I'll be out of yelling distance, even for her." She laughed, wishing it were funny instead of sad.

Nothing she did would ever please her mother. Heaven knew she'd tried for twenty-eight years. She couldn't remember one time when her mother had a kind word for her, not even one.

Mason grabbed her hand. "Knowing my temper, I can't promise I'll never yell at you, but I give you my word I'll try not to."

"You haven't yelled at me yet And I'll try hard to be the best wife in the world, the kind you deserve."

Mason loved her.

Why hadn't she seen that? He'd always been so thoughtful of her every wish, listened to her secrets, took up for her against anyone who said hurtful things to her.

"One more." He swept her to him in a fervent embrace.

Beth slid her arms around his neck. Who would have dreamed kissing Mason would render her into a melting puddle? But it did, and she wanted to continue for a long time.

She wanted him to touch her breast again. Did that make her wanton? Her mother insisted only harlots enjoyed the things that went on between men and women.

Someone coughed. "Boss?"

Mason and Beth jumped. She knew her face reddened at being caught in Mason's arms.

Rowdy pretended to look away. "Mrs. Pendleton made me come fetch you two back up there right away. She's all het up, and I reckon you'd better hurry along before she has a spell or something."

"Thanks, tell her we're on our way." Mason took Beth's hand and smiled. "In a few hours, no one can interrupt us."

His words gave Beth hope. They rounded the corner pillar and climbed the slope to the front of the chapel.

At the buckboard, Mason held her hand and looked into her eyes. "Guess Rowdy and me better get this straw spread. I'm expected at my folks later this morning."

Mrs. Pendleton tapped her foot. "Straw's not necessary, but if you've nothing better to do, I suppose it won't hurt."

Rowdy helped Mrs. Pendleton and Beulah climb onto the buckboard. Beulah took the reins, but smiled at Beth and Mason and waited patiently.

Mrs. Pendleton snapped open her parasol. "Bethany, we don't have time to dally all day."

Beth sighed, wishing as she had many times that her mother was a kinder, more patient person. No matter, soon she and Mason would answer only to each other. Mason still held her hand, and she squeezed his fingers before she pulled free. "I have to go."

Mason pecked her on the cheek. "Yeah, I know, but it won't be long until we're wed." He helped her up and stepped back. "See you later."

Beth waved. "In a few hours." She thought ahead to tonight when they'd come together and knew she blushed.

His eyes darkened. Plainly, his feelings matched hers. She recalled his words about seeing her naked and wondered how her body would look to him. Would she disappoint him?

Beth hoped not. All her life she'd disappointed her parents, though she tried hard to please them. She had no intention of disappointing her husband. Would being a good wife be as impossible as being a good daughter?

If you’re intrigued, HAPPY IS THE BRIDE is available from

Smashwords at

and Amazon at

If you like HAPPY IS THE BRIDE, please leave your favorable review on Smashwords or Amazon or Goodreads. I’ll truly appreciate your effort. Leaving a kind review, especially on Amazon, is a terrific favor to an author.

To learn more about my books, please check my website, www.carolineclemmons.com, where you’ll find a place to subscribe to my newsletters for fun contests, giveaways, new releases, and more.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Shifters, Skinwalkers, weres - by Vijaya Schartz

Since it's almost Halloween, let me speak of shifters, but not your run of the mill variety. Since so many authors write about shifters, I wanted mine to be original and fresh. And, like in all my books, I wanted my hero to be believable as a Native American, as a hero, and as a shifter.

In order to write COYOTE GORGEOUS, I had to study Native American legends and lore. I wanted my shifter hero, Kaletaka, as well as his nemesis, to keep in line with the traditions. I also studied rituals and spoke to many local Native American friends and writers, to make sure my story fit the beliefs of the tribes. I swear I must have been a Native American in my previous incarnation.

Mix with all that research a romance, some suspense, and a mystery, and this novella took flight. I enjoyed writing it and I hope readers will like it, too. The novella sells for 99 cents and is available in all eBook formats everywhere

The best compliment I received by a Native American reviewer was: "...a fantastic story, with the integration of Navajo legend into the modern setting... this volume is a real page turner... I am a Choctaw Indian myself... I was truly impressed with the seamless integration of the Navajo legends of skinwalkers. This is a fun read that I highly recommend to anyone with a passion for shapeshifters, Indians and mystery." - Four stars - Cassie - Bitten By Books

99 cents novella:

Arizona Game Ranger Madison Huntley, investigating a wild animal attack on a ranch in Cave Creek, discovers disturbing details. If she didn't know better, she'd say the legends frightening the ranch hand might be true. But Madison isn't just a wilderness cop. As a biologist and a wild life expert, she believes in facts and science, not scary tales.

Kaletaka, a Hopi Native, enjoys fame among the white man, forging haunting sculptures of half gods, half humans. When he awakens bloody, with no recollection of what he did the night before, he remembers the legends of his tribe, and the meaning of his name. But as hard as he tries, can he escape his destiny?

Can Madison solve the mystery killings and insure the safety of the town? Let alone her own safety? For each step closer to the truth and to Kaletaka, unleashes an unspeakable evil, and no one is safe...

FIND MORE OF VIJAYA'S eBOOKS  AND PAPERBACKS (contemporary, sci-fi, medieval fantasy, all romance) AT:

Vijaya Schartz
Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Who's Who Among Writers by Joan Reeves

Most readers know that many authors write under pseudonyms. Writers do this for various reasons.

Publisher Pressure

Sometimes publishers request it. Until recent years, Harlequin always wanted authors to be published under a pseudonym that they controlled. Often, this was a detriment to the authors who could not "take" their pseudonym to other publishing houses.

Many times, publishers made authors take pseudonyms if their previous sales under a different name weren't as good as the publisher wishes. With a new name, they could launch the author as "a new name in fiction" or something similar, even though the author in question may have written and published dozens of books.

If an author wanted to write in a different genre, the publisher often required them to publish in the other genre under a different name for marketing purposes. The thinking was that a known romance author would alienate her readers if she published horror, or that horror readers wouldn't give her a chance if she was known to be a romance author.

Privacy Issues

Sometimes, authors prefer to use a pseudonym to protect their privacy. Taking a pseudonym in this age where privacy and security are relevant concerns is certainly understandable. Sometimes, authors just don't want to have to defend what they write to their neighbors, church friends, their kids' teachers, or even relatives.

Many times, a pseudonym is used for a short period of time and then abandoned. This happens because one name becomes predominantly successful so the others aren't used or publishing contracts expire, lines fold, etc. There are many reasons why names get abandoned.

What Happened To What's-His-Name

Readers may find themselves wondering what happened to some of their favorite authors like Billie Douglass or Owen West or any of the other popular genre fiction writers. In actuality, Ms. Douglass is doing just fine living her life as Barbara Delinsky, and Mr. West is living quite well as Dean Koontz.

For your entertainment, and for you masters of trivia, here are some popular pseudonyms by well-known authors.


Amanda Ashley is the fabulous Madeline Baker. Mystery novelist Jill Churchill is Janice Young Brooks. Candace Camp is Lisa Gregory, Kristin James, and Sharon Stephens. Janet Evanovich of Stephanie Plum fame wrote under Steffie Hall. Diana Palmer is Susan Kyle. Amanda Quick, Amanda Glass, Jayne Castle, Jayne Taylor, Jayne Bentley, and Stephanie James are all Jayne Anne Krentz.

If you're a true Nora Roberts fan, then you know that Nora, J. D. Robb, Sarah Hardesty, and Roberts Smith are all personas of Eleanor Wilder.

The aforementioned Dean Koontz wrote as David Axton, Brian Coffey, K. R. Dwyer, John Hill, Anthony North, Richard Paige, Own West, Aaron Wolfe, and, oh, yes, Leigh Nichols and Deanne Dwyer.

William E. Butterworth III is also known as W.E.B. Griffin, W.E. Butterworth, Webb Beech, Edmund O. Scholefield, Patrick Williams, Alex Baldwin, Walter Blake, James Douglas, Jack Dugan, John K. Dugin, and Blakely St. James. Oh, he was also a she as in Eden Hughes and Allison Mitchell.

If you think that's a lot of names and authorial identities to remember, take a look at Spur Award Winner Robert Vaughan who has written about 250 books under 35 different names.

Even Agatha Christie published under the pen names Mary Westmacott and Agatha Christie Mallowan. In real life, Louis L'Amour was born Louis Dearborn LaMoore so he edited his name and became a literary phenom.

Post Script

Maybe that new author you're reading is really just an old favorite in disguise.

(Joan Reeves is a Kindle bestselling author of romantic comedy. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers and in audio from Audible.com and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free newsletter for writers. For articles about the art, craft, and business of writing and the world of books, visit Joan's website  and SlingWords, her blog.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

TRick or Treat FREE Par-Tay

Trick-or-Treat Free ParTay! For Two Days Only, Oct. 10th – 11th,"Her Greek Romance" will be FREE! If you like "Her Greek Romance"you might also like these other FREE books:


“Voodoo or Die,” A voodoo doll gift turns out to be anything but! By Stephanie Bond.

“Optical Delusions in Deadwood,” Packed full of humor, romance, sex, ghosts, suspense, and mystery! By Ann Charles.

“Light The Hidden Things,” A woman’s love saves a self-destructive PTSD veteran. By Don McQuinn.

“Stolen Secrets,” Danger threatens to tear them apart. By NancyRadke.

“Songs for Perri,” Danger wears a mask, nothing is as it seems. By NancyRadke.

Puppy mills, adventure, and romance spark magic in HIS DEVIOUS ANGEL by MimiBarbour

To enter to win a Kindle and $25 worth of Amazon gift cards, simply visit FreePartay.com and sign up for our newsletter!

LET's Par-Tay with many fun books for Trick or Treat

Saturday, October 6, 2012


We continuously try to improve in life, improve our health either because we have been sick or had surgery (as I had last week); improve our career by taking classes, seminars, and work harder until we get the coveted promotion; or improve the quality of life by taking a well -deserved break and vacation to relax and unwind. 

The same applies to our writing and our books. We want to do better, offer interesting stories to our readers and keep them buying more of our books, grab them with more attractive book cover and enticing titles. 

One of my books went through a real saga on its way to improvement.

From Greek Encounter to Her Greek Romance to Sailing with You and back to Her Greek Romance. The latest because of the recommendation of an expert in the matter and the work of an artist.

The professional cover.

HER GREEK ROMANCE  http://tinyurl.com/7xwp8eo

Monday, October 1, 2012


Would your family stories make a good novel? Of course they would. In fact, you could write from now until you die using only family stories. Your relatives might never speak to you again, depending on the stories and the family members' sense of humor. That could be good or bad, depending on your kinfolks. ☺ I’d hate for mine to ban me from the family...well, most of them.

I don’t normally use real people as characters in my novels. I do use family names, though. I use those who’ve wronged my family as the villains. When friends invited me to write a Civil War novella, I cringed inside. That’s not my time period, and I avoid the distasteful whole slave issue. Plus, my relatives fought on the losing side of that war. But I wrote a novella set in Georgia and we had a lovely anthology. Now that I have the rights back, I’ve republished this story online. It’s the only thing I’ve written which does not take place in Texas--not even a scene.

It was fun to write, and I hope readers enjoy it. I based it on historical journals about the area of Northwest Georgia from which my ancestors migrated to Texas. Witherspoon is not a real town, but named after a Granbury, Texas antique mall where my daughter and I once had a booth. I used some family names, though: Parmelia, Sarah, Bailey, Hardeman, and McDonald (the Scots clan to which my Johnson family aligned). I also used the home description from my ancestors.

We redid the font on the cover. Do you like it?

Here’s a blurb from LONG WAY HOME.
Parmelia Bailey has promised to keep her family safe until the men in her family return from War. That includes bringing her brother’s fiancée, Sarah Hardeman, and Sarah’s mother and sisters to stay at her grandmother’s home in town. Maybe she shouldn’t have stolen back her horses from the Yankees, but she could think of no other way to rescue the Hardeman women.

Darrick McDonald waited four years to return to Witherspoon, Georgia and Parmelia. Who would have dreamed war would bring him back. He had to protect Parmelia from a renegade who’d vowed to make her sorry she’d turned down his proposal. He prayed he wasn’t too late.

Parmelia Bailey
Doesn't she look spunky enough
to steal horses from the enemy?

Here’s an excerpt from LONG WAY HOME:
At last, she turned into her grandparents’ drive and pulled around to the back. With a huge sigh, she stopped at the carriage house. Surely a week had passed since she caught her horses last night. All she wanted now was to crawl in bed and sleep for days, pretend the war never happened. She couldn’t relax yet, not until the horses were back with those Yankee scoundrels.”
“Sarah, let’s see your mother and sisters inside. After that, Rob and I will deal with the chickens and cow.” Parmelia’s hands shook as she climbed out of the buggy. Fatigue, relief, and fear turned her limbs to jam.
She walked Sarah and her family to the back door where Grammy and Mama took over.
Parmelia returned to the carriage house. “Rob, help me unhitch the horses and put their bridles on so I can take them back.”
“Why don’t I do that.” Darrick McDonald stepped from the shadows. He appeared calm, until she looked at his face.
Parmelia was surprised sparks didn’t shoot from his dark eyes and ignite the entire carriage house. She clutched her throat, hoping a way out of this predicament would come to her. How had he known to come here, to wait for her?
“Darrick, you—you gave me a fright.”
“Did I? Perhaps you have a guilty conscience.” He freed one of the horses.
“When did you come back?” She fought for an idea, but none came to her.
“Late yesterday.” He walked back and forth beside Lady. “Funny thing, you having two horses after the Army confiscated all the livestock in town. Another coincidence, two Army horses went missing overnight.”
“Did they?”
He stopped and gave her a piercing look.
She gave up with a sigh. “I can explain.”
“I’m listening.” His eyes were still dark with anger.
“My brother’s fiancée. You remember Sarah Hardeman? I had to bring her and her family to town. I—I had no way to do that without a team.”
Rob added, “These are our horses anyway. You low down, yellow-bellied Yankees stole them from us.”
Oh, Lord. Leave it to her brother to make things worse.
“Hush, Rob. Give me the bridles. Put the cow in the barn then come help me with these chickens.”
He pouted and handed over the tack. “Oh, all right. I never get to hear anything good.” Rob untied the cow and stomped toward the barn.
“So, you’re a Yankee officer now.”
“Captain.” Darrick crossed his arms. “I’m waiting for an explanation, Parmelia.”
Her temper conquered her good sense, and she stepped toward him. “You’ve got your nerve, coming here wearing that uniform, you...you traitor.”
He stepped forward until they were almost touching. “Call me what you will, but you’re the one who stole two horses in a time of war.”
She refused to retreat. “How can you accuse me of stealing, when you Yankees have taken over our town?”
“Because you did steal them, and you weren’t even clever about it. I followed their tracks to your grandparents’ home. You do realize that with a less sympathetic Colonel, they could lose their home?”
Dear heaven, she hadn’t considered her grandparents if she were caught.
“No!” She took a step backward. “I was going to return them. Rob’s right, they are ours. They know me, so they were eager to come to me.”
He pulled a small, withered apple from his pocket.
Rats, she must have dropped it, one of the few from their store of fruit in the cellar.
Darrick held the apple in front of her nose. “Looks to me as if you coaxed them away.”
She sighed, “Maybe I did, but it was only to use them for a little while. Sarah and her family were in great peril.”
He tossed the apple from one hand to the other, but stared at her face. “Are you crazy? You could have been killed.”
She grabbed the apple from him. “Sarah, her mother, and sisters could have been murdered and their home burned. We barely got away in time as it is.”
“If you had bothered to consult the Colonel, he would have sent soldiers for them. As it turns out, I would have taken my men and gone.”
“Are you crazy? You could have been killed.”
Shocked at the concern in her voice and in her heart, she continued, “Um, I mean, they might not have recognized you and could have shot you. Or, that man that tried to take my horse could have killed you.”
Oh, no, she hadn’t meant to tell that last part.
He grew angrier and grabbed her arms. “What do you mean?
She tried to twist away. “Nothing.”
“Parmelia Bailey, who tried to take your horse?” He turned her to face him.
Refusing to meet his gaze, she stammered, “There, um, there was a man in the woods, a ways north of the Mitchell’s house. He…um, he jumped at me and tried to take Beauty, but Rob and I got away.”
“You are the stubbornest, orneriest woman I’ve ever known. Don’t you realize what could have happened to you?”
“It crossed my mind,” she snapped and raised her face.
“If you were mine, I’d, I’d...”
“Yours? You moved away and left me, remember? And now you’re a Yankee officer.” Lord, she shouldn’t have reminded him she’d loved him. Worse, she still loved him.
She willed tears not to fall. Keep your anger up, don’t let him know how he hurt you.
“You know why I left Witherspoon. You know I had no choice.”
“There’s always a choice.” And she would have chosen to go with him, if only he’d asked, even if she had been only sixteen.
“Like you chose to steal these horses?”
She shrugged away from his grasp. “Steal? Soldiers stole them from us. Do you understand the term borrow? That’s what I did.”
“In times of war, the government has the power to confiscate items from civilians. Do you understand that?”
“Call it what you wish, it’s still stealing when you take what’s not yours and keep it.”
“Maybe we’re only borrowing your horses.”
She thought his mouth twitched to hide a smile. His humor only irked her more.
“Like you Yankees borrowed from the stores in town so we can’t even buy supplies—that is, if we had money. Which we don’t.”
He smiled. “I heard you had plenty of those Confederate dollars.”
“Oh, you...you Yankees make me so mad. Take my horses and leave.” She turned and stomped toward the house.
He called, “Aren’t you going to invite me in to say hello to the family? Maybe you could bake me an apple pie.”
She slammed the kitchen door and leaned against it. His laughter floated around her.
From the front of the house, she heard Mrs. Hardeman complaining and Mamma and Grammy’s soft, soothing answers. She wondered how much of Mrs. Hardeman’s grousing they’d have to endure.
Parmelia pushed away from the door, and then remembered those dratted chickens. Peeking through the curtains, she saw Darrick leading the horses away. His long, lean body looked good, his walk a confident swagger. Dark brown hair caught the sunlight. Lordy, he was better looking than he had been four years ago when he lived in Witherspoon.
When he’d touched her just now, she’d sizzled. She’d wanted to throw herself in his arms and have him reassure her, kiss her, love her. How could he create these sensations inside her when he’d abandoned her four years ago? When now he sided with their enemies?
She jumped when Sarah came up to her.
“Parmelia, is something wrong?”
“I—I just remembered the chickens is all. I’ll get Rob to help me get them down and into the chicken coop.”
“Nonsense. My sisters and I will do it. You look all worn out. You must have ridden most of the night.”
She shrugged. “I’m all right. We started for your place close to midnight.”
Sarah’s dark eyes sparkled. “Did you really take those horses from the Yankees?”
“Yes, but they’re on their way back to those thieves now. Darrick McDonald was waiting for them in Grammy’s barn.”
“Darrick?” Sarah touched Parmelia’s arm. “Oh, Parmelia. Is he still as handsome?”
She sighed, hating to admit the truth. “More. And taller. He sure fills out his uniform, too, but it’s blue.”
“Oh.” Sarah paused. “But he’s here, and you talked to him. That’s something, isn’t it?”
Before Parmelia had to answer, Rob slammed inside the kitchen. “That old cow’s still upset. Am I supposed to milk her or what?”
“I’ll get the pail for you.” Parmelia retrieved it from the screened in porch. “The stool’s still in the barn.” She clasped her hands. “Fresh milk. Oh, that will be wonderful. We’ve been without it for a month.”
Rob called, “We got to have hay.”
“Maybe she can eat the lawn tomorrow. I’ll try to barter some hay.” But who had any supplies except the Yankees? Sighing, she went back into the kitchen. She simply could not deal with another crisis today.
“I took off my extra clothes, but my hair’s a mess.” Sarah stood at a small mirror over the washstand and smoothed curls of brown hair from her face. “I don’t know about you, but I don’t think my teachers at Thorndike Academy of Young Women would approve of my appearance.”
Parmelia looked at herself over Sarah’s shoulder, then gasped. What must Darrick have thought of her? She told herself she didn’t care then admitted she did. She’d been so careful about her appearance when he’d called on her years ago. He must think she’d turned into a hoyden. Peering at her rough hands and broken nails, she thought maybe she had. Oh, what did it matter? Forcing back tears and regrets, she pulled at her men’s britches and curtsied to Sarah. “I don’t think anyone from Mrs. Carrington’s School for Young Ladies would even speak to me.”
They broke into giggles and went in search of Katie and Nancy.

You can find LONG WAY HOME at Smashwords, here:

The buy link at Amazon Kindle is:

To find out more about my books, try www.carolineclemmons.com

Thanks for stopping by!