Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sue Fineman's New Release, The Mitchell Money


Old Enough to Know Better . . .

Thanks for inviting me to participate in the Blog Event at The Word Place.  My first book with The Wild Rose Press, THE MITCHELL MONEY, is being released today. 


I love writing romances with older characters, people who are old enough to know better than the younger generation, yet young enough to accept and enjoy each other in every way.  Characters who have lived longer and have had rich life experiences bring a different dimension to the page.  These characters are usually wrapped up in their jobs and families, or in just getting by, so they’re not expecting to fall in love again.  For some, it’s downright inconvenient.  For the ones who’ve been hurt, it’s difficult to trust again, and love is harder to accept.  



In THE MITCHELL MONEY, Gary, a former cop and rancher, is pushing fifty.  His son, Joe, is an attorney.  Joe lives with Gary on the ranch, the biggest one in that part of Arizona, but neither of them can cook.  Gary burns pans and sets off the smoke detectors.  He lost his wife years ago and has grown surly in his loneliness.  He’d half-heartedly looked for another woman to love, but never found anyone who could measure up to his beloved wife.  The town gossip and all-around pest has been after him for years, but he’d rather shoot her than marry her. 

Before he died, Rachel’s husband hid most of their money.  If she doesn’t find it within the next two months, she’ll lose her half-built home and the land it stands on, her only real assets.  She’s in her mid-forties, with two grown daughters in another state.  During their marriage, her husband had never allowed her to work.  Even with a job, she can’t make the hefty payments on the new house.  She needs the missing money to get by.  Finding love is the last thing on Rachel’s mind.  After her lousy marriage, she can’t imagine ever trusting another man or getting married again. 

The excerpt below is from the first chapter of THE MITCHELL MONEY, when Gary and Rachel meet.  As you can see, it didn’t go well.  Rachel had just met with Gary’s son, Joe, who offered her a job cooking at the ranch, but she didn’t meet Gary until he ran into her car.  She didn’t realize the surly man in the battered blue pickup was Joe’s father. 

Gary called Bert’s Body Shop, then offered to take her home.  The excerpt follows:

    The woman stared at his cell phone and her eyes narrowed.  Her lips pressed tightly together, and she looked like she’d erupt any second. 
    “What’s wrong now?” he said in frustration. 
    “Were you talking on that thing when you ran into me?”
    Oh, no!  She wasn’t blaming this on him.  She’d backed out right in front of him.  “Lady, if you’re implying I can’t do two things at once, you’re wrong.”
    She lifted her chin.  “If you’d been watching where you were going, you would have seen me and stopped in time.”
    He snapped back a response.  “If you’d bothered to look first, you wouldn’t have backed out in front of me.”
    After a withering glare, she said, “I’ll wait for my car.”  She opened the door, slid off the seat and walked to the bench nearest Joe’s office, muttering something to herself.  He couldn’t hear her words, but it was probably just as well.  She was obviously irritated, but so was he.  The woman backed right into him.   
    Bert arrived and, ignoring the scowling woman on the bench, Gary pointed to her car.  “See if you can pop the fender out so she can drive it.”
    Bert reached under the fender with a rubber hammer and, in three quick whacks, popped the dent out.  A crease remained, but the metal no longer touched the tire. 
    “You want this fender replaced?” Bert asked the woman.
    She peered at the fender.  “Can I drive it like that?”
    “I don’t see why not.”
    “Then that’ll have to do.  How much do I owe you?”
    “I’ll take care of it,” said Gary.
    She scanned the front of his old truck.  “Are you sure your truck is all right?”
    “It’s fine.”  Best truck he’d ever had. 
    Her eyebrows knit as she peered closer at his pickup.  “You mean it always looks like this?”
    Gary looked to see what she was talking about.  It was scratched and dented and the bumper hung a little askew.  The hot Arizona sun had faded the light blue paint until it looked white in spots, but he didn’t see anything wrong.  “Like what?” 
    “Like . . . like this isn’t the first time you’ve hit something.”
    A burst of laughter erupted from Bert’s mouth.  “She’s got you pegged, Gary.”
    “Mind your own business, Bert.”  Gary turned to the woman.  “Are you making fun of my truck?”
    “I didn’t mean to insult you or your . . . uh . . . lovely truck.  Thanks for taking care of this.  I’ll try to stay out of your way from now on.”
    He tried to explain his rude behavior.  “Look, I’m not having a very good day today, and—” 
    “Well, neither am I,” she snapped.  Without another word, she got in her car, slammed the door, and drove away, leaving him standing in the street beside his truck, feeling like an idiot.  Frustrating woman.  She’d be nice looking if she’d get rid of that angry scowl on her face.  With any luck, he’d never see her again.

 THE MITCHELL MONEY is available from The Wild Rose Press.

 Sue Fineman is a grumpy old lady who lives with an even grumpier old man in a small town in Washington state.  She writes romance, romantic suspense, women’s fiction and light paranormal romance novels.  Although she doesn’t write comedy, there’s a little humor in everything she writes.  You can visit her blog at: http://suefineman.blogspot.com/


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sharon Buchbinder and the Allure of High School Reunions




About two years after I published The Lake Placid Cure, I was invited to participate in the Class of ’85 Series by our fabulous Last Rose of Summer Wild Rose Press editor, Kathy Cottrell.  I said yes immediately. Not because I’d been to so many high school reunions, but because I’d been to so few.  If you read Bonded for Life or An Inn Decent Proposal, you’ll note that neither story takes place at the Class of ’85 Reunion events.  





 In An Inn Decent Proposal, the Inn where the festivities occur is seen the year before the event, a grande dame down on her luck, rescued by Genie King and Jim Rawlings.  In Bonded for Life, Lola Getz is running from kidnappers, to the safest place (she thinks) in the world. Little does Lola know when she arrives under cover of night that The Dweebster has grown up to become a hunky cop--and he has her in his cross hairs. Like Lola Getz, as soon as I graduated from high school, I ran away as fast as I could. 
Why did I run? No, it wasn’t because I’d become a contract killer, like Grosse Point Blank’s Martin Blank. You see, in high school I was a walking cliché: formerly fat, unpopular book worm from the wrong side of the tracks and a divorced mother.  With a graduating class of 200, there was no nerd herd to hide me. I had a few good friends who kept me sane, but unlike my sister, I was not going to win any beauty contests. I had a hard enough time just finding hand me down clothes that weren’t too small because I was taller than my sister. Did I mention I was a giant, scrawny 17 year old (5 foot 7 inches, 127 pounds), too? 
In spite of all the above, the hardest part of my life was my big secret. To the outside world my mother was perfect. She was a Girl Scout Troop leader, a Sunday school teacher and a hard-working single mother in a Donna Reed world. But at home, behind closed doors, she was Mommy Dearest. She told me never to reveal the abuse or else.
When I hit my 52nd birthday, after much soul searching, many hours of therapy and support groups ad infinitum, I decided to face my demons. First I paid a visit to my mother to whom I had not spoken in over 25 years. What I found in my wiser adulthood was a woman with a severe personality disorder who was incapable of giving any affection, much less being a good mother.  
The second thing I did was to attend my 35th high school reunion.  Unlike the comedian in the Quinnipiac College Reunion Video, I did not go to see who had gotten fat or who was single. I went to prove to myself that I had outgrown that awkward adolescent girl, that I had become someone better because of my trials and tribulations.
To my unending surprise, I was greeted with smiles, hugs and warm welcomes. Many of the women who had been in my mother’s Girl Scout troop and Sunday school  class approached me and said apologetically, “I hate to say this, but your mother--she wasn’t right.” “Your mother was---eccentric.” “Your mother scared me.” To each woman I replied, “Thank you. Thank you for telling me this. You have no idea what this means to me.” The “secret” wasn’t a secret.  I was freed from the chains of that lie, at last.
So go to your high school reunion. Find out what happened to the guy you had a crush on. Maybe he’s single--or maybe he’s transformed himself into someone new. You never know.  Maybe, just maybe, you’ll find yourself. 


PS: Three lucky readers will receive a copy of one of my Last Rose of Summer stories: The Lake Placid Cure   Bonded for Life and An Inn Decent Proposal. All you have to do is find out the name of the hero and heroine in The Lake Placid Cure, then go to my website at www.sharonbuchbinder.com , go to the  Contact Me page and complete the online form. Send me your contact information and the names of the H/H in The Lake Placid Cure.





Tomorrow:  Sue Fineman

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jana Richards and The Class of '85


Posted early due to severe weather and possibility of power outage.




Writing for a Series
When I heard that the Last Rose of Summer, the mature romance line of The Wild Rose Press, was creating a series revolving around the 25th year reunion of the fictional Summerville High School, I immediately wanted in. The Last Rose of Summer line features heroes and heroines who are well past their twenties and have done a lot of living. At this point in their lives they know who they are and what they want. They’re ready for second chances, at life and at love.
And so the Class of ’85 was born. In each story, one or both of the main characters is a Summerville High School alumnus. In some of the stories, the characters may have lived in Summerville all their lives, while in others it is their first visit in years. Sometimes old loves are rekindled and sometimes brand new romances take flight.
One of the challenges of writing for a series is making sure to get details right. If an earlier story in the series talks about the formal dinner and dance happening on Saturday night, then yours better happen on Saturday night as well. To keep us on track, our editor Kathy Cottrell, created a Yahoo group for us so that we could stay in touch. Information was tracked on a spreadsheet there, and pictures of a real town on the shores of Lake Ontario gave us the feel of what the fictional town of Summerville would look like. As a latecomer to the reunion, I’ve had the extra added benefit of reading many of the stories already published. I got a good feel for the reunion and like many of the other authors, I was able to give repeat performances to a couple of previously featured characters.    
High school reunions are fraught with anxiety about how we look. We want people to say “Wow, she looks great!” instead of “Boy, has she aged!” Or even worse, “Boy, did she gain weight!” I know this from experience. When I attended my own high school reunion, I was seven months pregnant, a happy time for me, but unfortunately I wasn’t at my optimum weight. If I’d been given a choice, I would have opted to have the reunion the following summer, after I lost the baby weight!
We also want our former classmates to see how well our lives have turned out. We want to show off pictures of our beautiful homes and our darling children. We want to impress them with our high-powered, well paying jobs. I think the whole purpose of a class reunion is to determine who has lived up to their potential and who hasn’t, and who surprises us by doing something unexpected.
In my story, “The Girl Most Likely”, Cara McLeod’s life has not turned out the way she’d envisioned back in high school. She thought she’d have the perfect marriage, the perfect career, perfect children and a perfect life. Well, one out of four’s not bad. Cara does have two beautiful daughters. But her marriage has ended in divorce, and as for her career, she’s working in an entry level position, and calls herself “the world’s oldest junior assistant”. Even worse, to Cara’s way of thinking, she’s gained about twenty-five pounds. When she receives the invitation for the reunion, her first instinct is to throw it in the garbage. The last thing she needs is to be reminded of all her failures.
But life has a funny way of pitching curveballs. Cara had no idea that getting ready for her twenty-five
year reunion would mean a whole new career and a brand new chance at love. Here’s a blurb:

Cara McLeod, the girl most likely to have the perfect marriage, is now divorced and, in her own words, “fat, frumpy, and over forty.” The thought of facing former classmates—and the ex-husband who dumped her—at her high school reunion terrifies her. Cajoled into attending by her kids and her best friend, Cara enlists help at the gym to lose weight and look great for the reunion. Personal Trainer Finn Cooper is more than willing to help—but does he have to be so to-die-for gorgeous?

Finn thinks Cara is perfect just the way she is. She’s everything he wants in a woman, except for one thing—she can’t get past the fact that he's eight years younger. To Finn, age and weight are just numbers. But can he convince Cara the numbers she worries about add up to only one thing for him—love?

And here’s an excerpt from “The Girl Most Likely”:
He chuckled. “Jessica better watch her back. You could give her a run for her money.”
He heard Cara’s throaty laugh, and various parts of his anatomy tingled in response. “Yes, that’s my evil plan. Take over Rochester Noon, then the world.”
“If you set your mind to it, I’m sure you could do it.”
“Thanks Finn.”
“For what?”
“For believing in me.”
“Are you going to be okay now?”
“Yes, I’m fine. Thanks to you.”
He wanted so badly to tell her he loved her, adored her, thought she was the most amazing woman in the world. But fear stopped him. Was she truly over her ex-husband? Why else would losing weight for the reunion be so important to her if not to impress Peter?
“I’ve got to run. Thanks again. I’ll talk to you later at my condo, right?”
“Absolutely. I can hardly wait to hear about your big TV debut. Break a leg. Isn’t that what they say in show biz?”
She laughed. “Yeah, that’s what they say. Bye.”
Finn replaced the receiver and closed his eyes. He hoped everything went well with this interview. Cara deserved to realize how amazing she was.
If she did come to that realization, would there still be room in her life for him?

 ####
 
Jana Richards has tried her hand at many writing projects over the years, from magazine articles and short stories to full-length paranormal suspense and romantic comedy.  She loves to create characters with a sense of humor, but also a serious side.  She believes there’s nothing more interesting then peeling back the layers of a character to see what makes them tick.
When not writing up a storm, working at her day job as an Office Administrator, or dealing with ever present mountains of laundry, Jana can be found on the local golf course pursuing her newest hobby. Unless it’s forty degrees below zero, of course! When it’s that cold outside you can find her in front of the fireplace!
Jana lives in Western Canada with her husband Warren, along with two university aged daughters and a highly spoiled Pug/Terrier cross named Lou. You can reach her through her website at http://www.janarichards.net

Here are two more of Jana's works:





  

Monday, April 25, 2011

Liz Flaherty Guests Today

 Posting early due to bad weather in state and possibility of losing power.

   “Your writing seems kind of old-fashioned.”
    Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh! I bled over this contest entry and these protagonists that I loved. I asked my kids what words I should use instead of the 1960isms I am most comfortable with. I even asked my grandkids. And I took their advice. Sometimes. I still don’t use the f-bomb. I still don’t insert “like” into a sentence if the speaker is over 17. I can’t make myself say “awesome applesauce,” which was suggested by Mari, my third-year-in-college granddaughter.
    And all the contest judge had to say was “kind of old-fashioned”?
    Well. The truth is, she was right. The other truth is that I am old-fashioned in a lot of ways. I’m still bellowing, “I am woman. Hear me roar,” when there’s a whole generation out there who’s not sure what in the world I’m shouting about. And I want to read—not to mention write—about women like me. Who have stretch marks and crows’ feet and all kinds of other Badges of Accomplishment we’ve earned over the years. Another truth is that we want to celebrate what we’ve learned and what we feel, not bemoan the fact that we no longer have skin tone or flat stomachs. (Okay, I do bemoan those things, but they’re not nearly as important as I once thought they were.)
    I’m the first to admit it’s difficult. There aren’t too many markets open to old-fashioned voices. But some are. The Wild Rose Press is not only open to it; it celebrates it. They published my historical, Home to Singing Trees, last year and this year Because of Joe is a Last Rose of Summer Rosebud. I’ve included a blurb and an excerpt here. I hope you enjoy them.
    Judy, thank you so much for having me at The Word Place.


Tell knew the moment he saw her that she was the one. He offered Rags eternal love, children and a seat in his hammock. It was a match made in heaven. How could she say no?


Even though things should have been perfect, each took wrong turns. Rags and Tell found themselves on a one-way street traveling the wrong direction. Their marriage collapsed in a sea of accusations and disappointment.


Years later, they meet again, their memories as fresh as if it were yesterday. Instant physical attraction and emotional connection blindside them, leading them back to that perfect place.

And then there’s Joe.

He stepped onto the deck, silent in his bare feet, and lifted the Nikon.
Once he started, he didn’t stop. Even when Rags lifted her head at the sound of the clicking shutter, he kept moving and snapping pictures.
“No,” he said once, “not like that. Reach up and muss your hair. Let’s see sexy at forty-two.”
When she laughed, he took pictures of that, too.
“Walk away from me,” he ordered.
“No.”
“Aw, come on, old lady. What kind of model are you?” He grinned at her, but she wasn’t smiling.
“I walked away once, and will do it again when this—” she raised her arms to include the house and all that happened within, “—is over. But not right now.” He clicked the shutter again.
The words “not right now” sang in his ears. He grinned again. “Okay,” he said. “Walk toward me.”
She did. Her gaze was direct and slumberous at the same time—what his mother would have termed “come hither.” Tell took the last picture on the roll, lowered the camera, and went hither.

My website is http://lizkflaherty.com and the books can be gotten at http://thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=869 or from Amazon or B & N.

Tomorrow:  Jana Richards   
   

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Clare Austin and 'Hot Flash'



Thank you for having me on your blog site today. I’m thrilled to be here and chat a bit about my LROS novel, Hot Flash.
Like many writers, I started making my stories into books for my own pleasure. I wanted to see if it could be done. The idea that anyone else would want to read my tales came only after I had written two full length novels in 2006. Hot Flash became number three.
When this story started to form in my mind I was, literally, working out in an all women’s gym.  In my oxygen deprived state…oh wait…my mind was clarified by the sweat pouring off my body…right… I decided I needed to write a book featuring women like us.
 There we were, jogging and pumping away as Cher belted out a song on the CD player, a room full of smart, beautiful, mature women. Sure, we might have a wrinkle here or there and a little cellulite on our thighs, but we know the value of relationship and never discount the virtue in good color and highlights! Though we live in a culture obsessed with youth, it is not true that it is more likely for a woman over forty to be abducted by aliens from outer space than she is to attract the hot guy. Not if we believe in ourselves.
As it turned out, Hot Flash, was the first book I submitted to publishers and agents. I felt it filled a need in a romance market rarely targeted…baby-boomers.  To me, boomer that I am, it felt like the perfect moment to spotlight mature women. We have time to read, our children, if not grown, are independent enough to allow us a modicum of freedom and we have maturity and sophistication that only experience in life can teach. Why not a heroine turning fifty years old?
Publishers in general did not agree with my market strategy. So, I put Hot Flash away.  I wrote Butterfly and sold it almost as soon as I finished it. The Fadό Trilogy was born out of the joy I had spending time with the characters in Butterfly.  Angel’s Share, the second book in the series, came out just a few months later. While I wrote the third book, Selkie’s Song, my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, asked if I had any other stories. I submitted Hot Flash to the Last Rose of Summer line.
Hot Flash is about starting over, learning to trust again and believing in one’s own value. It is about the freedom of relationship without fearful dependency, love without the urgency of youthful inexperience.
The story of Kate Aiello and Bran Sullivan is, I think, tender, filled with sensuality and emotion, but not forgetting the humor and joy that are the necessary comic relief in fiction as well as real life.
If you enjoy an in-depth story of relationships and the challenges of blending families, and a sizzling hot romance set in the exciting world of equestrian sport, this novel will capture your imagination and, hopefully, your heart.
I wrote Hot Flash for you. I hope you enjoy it.

Clare Austin

My novels are available in paperback and electronic formats from www.thewildrosepress.com, most online booksellers and selected book stores throughout the U.S., Ireland, the U.K. and Australia.
If you would like an autographed copy of any of my books or just want to read a little more about my writing journey, please go to my website www.clareaustin.com

“Sexy but sensitive, powerful but poignant---Hot Flash is not your daughter’s romance! This is a story for real women. Savor every word.”
---Award winning author---Deb Stover


About this excerpt…
The hero in my novel Hot Flash is Bran Sullivan. He’s Irish, wears his emotions shamelessly and is demonstrably affectionate to family and friends. He’s often inclined to give a  hug and kiss on the cheek. He’s a man who loves being in love.
Kate, whom Bran insists on calling Katie, is facing her fiftieth birthday, suffering hormonal hot flashes and has recently been ingloriously dumped by her philandering husband. To discourage her mother from “fixing her up” with a distant cousin, Kate lies and claims she is engaged to Bran Sullivan, her riding instructor.
But when she is caught in her deception and must confess to Bran to get his cooperation, he takes the opportunity to “seal it with a kiss.”

Excerpt from Hot Flash by Clare Austin, The Wild Rose Press 

“Katie, if it will make you happy, I’d be honored, but I think we need to seal the deal.” He pulled her to him, encircled her slender waist with one arm and slipped his other hand into her hair at the back of her neck, coaxing her to look up at him. “You asked me to do this last night…I told you I wanted you sober. Are you sober, Katie?”
“As a judge.” But she couldn’t breathe, her heart failed to pump enough blood to her brain and a sensation of heat that started at the place where his hand touched her back spread to her neck, trickled down her spine, across her belly and landed, softly, low in the cradle of her pelvis. She was certain that the source of this heat had nothing to do with waning hormones.
“Do something for me, Katie.” His breath came in soft gasps against her ear. “Believe, even if it’s only for now, when I tell you that you are the most beautiful woman who walks the earth.” He brushed her lips with his. “Believe me,” he whispered and kissed her again, his mouth soft, warm, moist and wanting.
And for that moment Kate did believe, while he tasted her, teased her with his tongue and lips. Kate Aiello, for the first time in half a century, made the conscious decision to believe that she was, for this unequivocal moment, the most beautiful woman on the planet.
#####
Clare Austin has been courting a love of literature since reading The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins in primary school. Now, inspired by a belief in a happy ending and a passion for lyrical prose, Clare spins her own tales of romance with a touch of humor and pathos.

Clare makes her home at the foot of the Colorado Rocky Mountains with her husband, their three horses and Maggie the Cairn terrier.


The Fadό Trilogy:
Butterfly, the first book in the Fadό Trilogy
Angel’s Share, the second book of the Fadό Trilogy
Work in progress, book three in the Fadό Trilogy, Selkie’s Song

Hot Flash, a contemporary romantic women’s fiction



Thursday, April 21, 2011

Author Kat Henry Doran takes a bite out of social injustice


 
Hi, Judy,
          Thanks for inviting me to your blog.

          You asked that I talk a little about writing for the sub-genre of older heroes and heroines. I do it because I'm attracted to men of this age group: those who have a few life experiences under their belts. It follows naturally, that the women these men are attracted to are the ones I want in my books. And if they only go for brainless twenty year-old twits? They're no heroes to me and find their asses kicked to the curb right fast.

          All of the books and novellas I've written have heroes and heroines in their very late 30's and into their 50's. I had an awful time pitching the early stories to the usual suspects in New York City houses which is why I'm grateful to The Wild Rose Press for their Last Rose of Summer line. The two books I'd like to focus on are Try Just Once More, a full length romantic suspense novel set in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State and Embraceable You, part of the Class of '85 series.

          In TJOM, registered nurse Maggie McGuire has returned to her childhood home in Saranac Lake to regroup after being cleared of all charges associated with her husband's death and continue her journey down the rocky road to sobriety. Just when things are going pretty good, she learns someone is trying to kill her children. On top of that, the new chief of police in town keeps nosing around, asking all kinds of intrusive questions in order to solve the crimes. To keep her kids safe, Maggie must put her trust in a cop—not easy for a woman who narrowly avoided a maximum security cage after the machinations of the corrupt police detective assigned to investigate her husband's death.  Chief Mike Brandt, wildly attracted to the smart mouth Maggie, despite a nasty track record with nurses, must put aside his contempt for women with chips on their shoulders to keep the McGuire family safe and intact. Both must learn to try just once more.

          Several years ago, while researching one topic, I stumbled across Las Madres de la Plaza, a group of women who lost their loved ones [children, siblings and/or spouses] to the military junta during Argentina's Dirty War, 1976-83. Las Madres are amazing for their strength of convictions, inspiring in their devotion to los desaparecidos, the disappeared ones, and to this day demonstrate weekly—thirty years after the events—to show we cannot forget nor tolerate tyranny and murder. The group became an integral part of Embraceable You after the heroine, Druzilla Horvath, finds herself in danger after photographs she took during a Las Madres march uncovered an escaped war criminal living out in the open in Buenos Aires. The hero, Rory McElroy, volunteers to provide protection during Dru's appearance at an awards banquet at the reunion for the Class of '85. After witnessing the work Dru has accomplished, Rory realizes she is the woman who will complete his life, someone to embrace forever.  

          I love to hear from readers at: www.WildWomanAuthor.blogspot.com.
          All of my stories can be found at: www.thewildrosepress.com.

Kat will offer a download copy of Try Just Once More to one lucky visitor who leaves a comment the day this post goes live.  
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Excerpt:
          The woman showed more brass than the Marine Corps Band. “Look, Miz McGuire, could we start over?”

          She glared down her nose at him, like she'd just stepped in something foul. “You're too late, Chief. Much too late.”

          With that, she stalked toward the exit door, leaving an open-mouth Mike wondering where he'd lost control of the situation. Staff at the desk immediately sought avenues of escape. As two nurses slipped past him, one said, “It's always a treat to watch the Reigning Queen of Man-Haters kick some guy to the curb.”

          “That Maggie,” the other sighed. “She's my hero.”

          Taking a slow count of three, Mike bolted for the door, and found the Queen in the parking lot. Posture military stiff, she strutted toward a red Saturn, hair flowing around her shoulders in a halo of copper. Despite his mounting agitation, he couldn't help but admire her guts. And her fanny.

          “Maggie. Please. Let me apologize.”

          Still moving, she called over one shoulder, “As I indicated before, you're too late.”

          Bitterness, an emotion tied too closely to his failed marriage, scalded the back of his throat. “You know something, lady? A couple hours ago, I couldn't decide if your beef is just with cops, or men in general. Clearly that's not the case.”

          She came to a stop, drew back her shoulders, then turned. “Who awarded you the right to pass judgment on me?”

          The verbal exchange gave him the time needed to reach her side. To get in her face. “Don't try to convince me that all men rank as a lower life form with you. Not after I saw you hanging all over Investigator Jackson.”

          She reached down to jab the key into the door lock. “Obviously, my convincing skills need a bit of polishing.” 
 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 Excerpt
Suddenly, Dru remembered the back-up phone tucked inside the double zippered pocket in her satchel, right beside the extra flash cards and rolls of antacids. Hot damn. All was not lost. With a grin, she hefted the bag over her shoulder and turned toward the bathroom. “I won't be long.”

            Before she made the first step, he slid in front of the door, blocking her access. “Give it up.”

            Down to her last strike, she pulled the affronted female card. Granted, she used it maybe once in a decade, but Fiona was probably tearing her hair by now. “I beg your pardon?”

            Leaning forward, he brought them nose to nose. “Play much poker, Horvath? Your face just lit up like the Fourth of July, which tells me you've got something more stashed in the tote. Unless you let me search it, it stays with me.” 

            Clutching the canvas bag to her chest, she sneered, “The only thing in here is my outfit for tonight, McElroy. If you think I'm parading around naked in front of you, one of us is a couple fries short of a happy meal.”

            His response came in the form of another gimme motion with those thick, blunt fingers. “I'll close my eyes if I encounter any lacy unmentionables.”

            She knew the instant he found the back-up. The screw-you look morphed into a smirk. “It's not wise to mess with Homeland Security, sweetie. Those guys eat small animals for breakfast.” 

Monday: Clare Austin

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Brenda Gayle Reflects on Seeing Ourselves in What We Read (and Write)


Seeing Ourselves In What We Read (and Write)              
by Brenda Gayle

When I turned 40 I decided it was time to “get in shape” so I joined a gym and sought out a personal trainer. There were a lot of wonderful women to choose from--most of them young and at the peak of their physical prowess. But I know myself too well. If I’m sweating it out, convinced I’m about to die, how seriously can I take the encouragement of some twenty-something trainer telling me “you can do it; just ten more”?

Really?

Far from inspiring me, I’d be more likely to snap, “Lady, let me hear you say that when you’ve reached my age, have given birth—twice, have a mortgage to pay, and are juggling the demands of family, a full-time job, and a writing career.” Needless to say, the trainer I eventually picked is a fantastically motivating woman over 40, with kids and mortgage of her own.

I sometimes feel he same way about the books I read. Don’t get me wrong. I love stories about “first love” and the emotional thrill that goes with it. But more often than not, I can’t relate to a young, innocent heroine. She has barely lived so how can she possibly know that the hero is the man for her? Instead, I find myself turning to books where the heroine is older with some personal baggage, either physical or emotional. This woman is more interesting to me and, I suspect, to a growing number of romance readers.

In my contemporary romance, SOLDIER FOR LOVE, the heroine, Major Julie Collins, has just been promoted and given her first overseas command. She projects an image of strength and confidence, but privately questions whether she’s really up for the job. I struggled with pinpointing her age while I was writing it. I was under the impression, from much of what I was reading, that she needed to be fairly young in order to appeal to the romance market. But a young Major Collins didn’t ring true for the character, and I edged her age up as much as I dared.

When I pitched the book to The Wild Rose Press I deliberately made no mention of Julie’s age, hoping to skate by my dilemma without notice. The response of Senior Editor Kathy Cottrell floored me. “Can you make her older?” she asked. “I’d love to have this book for our Last Rose of Summer line.”

According to the Romance Writers of America, the typical romance reader is 45, female, and in a committed relationship. As the baby boom bubble works its way up, the average age will increase. And as they’ve done with just about every other aspect of society, the boomers’ attitudes, tastes, and purchasing power will influence fiction.

A young, naive heroine may be fun to escape with once in a while, but I believe we read to see ourselves. And let’s face it; older women are simply more interesting. How does a middle-aged woman with years of emotional baggage find love and happiness? What compromises is she willing to make for it? Is there a hero out there who can accept her for who she really is? And what compromises will he make for her? These are some of the issues I explored in SOLDIER FOR LOVE, and the challenges I love to see addressed in other books.

What do you think? Have you found your taste in books has changed as you’ve gotten older? Is there a particular heroine that you’ve really identified with? Who is she and why has she touched you?  One of today’s commenters will receive a copy of SOLDIER FOR LOVE.



SOLDIER FOR LOVE
She’s his Commanding Officer. So why does he seem to be in charge?  
Major Julie Collins should be on top of the world. Her long-sought promotion has finally come through and she has just been given her first overseas command. But when one of her troops turns out to be the handsome Native American who has just left her bed, everything starts to unravel. And then she’s kidnapped by a deranged voodoo priest.
Although fictional, the setting for SOLDIER FOR LOVE was inspired by the geography, history, and culture of Haiti. I am donating 25% of book and eBook royalties to Haitian relief and reconstruction as a way to give back to the men and woman who allowed me to share their world during the researching and writing of the book. For more about me and my work-in-progress, visit my website at www.BrendaGayle.com.

** A special thanks to my extraordinary LROS editor Maggie Johnson, whose keen eye and gentle hand were instrumental in guiding SOLDIER FOR LOVE to publication.

Tomorrow:  Kat Henry Doran

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Putting the Fun Back into Boomer Romance with Author Veronica Lynch



 Hi, Judy,
Thanks so much for allowing me to visit your blog. There's nothing I like better than running my mouth.
          I'd like to offer a bit of history on how Veronica came to be. I'd written a very short story for the Free Reads out of Wild Rose Press under my other author name [which shall not be mentioned]. It was, I thought, a cute, fun story about boomer age newlyweds and how they cope with the stressors of a new marriage combined with high intensity jobs. The ego took a huge burn when WRP rejected it based on the fact they are/were married. So, the story Those Who Wait, went into the mythical 'drawer' to gather dust bunnies. Someday I promised myself it would be published, perhaps as part of an anthology. 
          In the summer of 2010, while waiting for my grandchildren to march in a fireman's field days parade—a huge event in their small rural town—I scanned the latest edition of RT BookClub and saw a call for submissions from a new electronic press. Specifically, they were looking for stories to beef up their line of Boomer Romances. Right up my alley. I yanked open that squeaky drawer, submitted the story, and had it published in less than 30 days. Yahoo!
          Suddenly it dawned on me: I need to find a new name. The real Veronica Lynch came to mind. Not only did she have a lovely Irish name, but she took an active role in my father's generation; a single professional woman whose name inspired confidence and respect from my dad, his siblings and cousins [no small deal here]. She showed the world a woman could be successful in her own right, without the guidance and advice of a man. What a hero and role model to follow! That's how Veronica Lynch came into existence.
          After being burned once, I never planned to submit again to Wild Rose Press but when the Class of '85 series took off and the stories were so varied, and so cute, I couldn't resist. The plot line of revenge has always appealed to me; following on that came the idea of schoolyard bullies. Two very 'popular' secondary characters, Richard Heade and Ready Betty Baumgartner, found throughout the Class of '85 stories were the typical school bullies and are now married to each other. I could not resist using them as well as finding an opportunity for the heroine to take a bit of revenge on each. 
          That's how The List came to be.
          I write for this sub-genre because I can not write about them. I am grateful to Wild Rose and that other press who took a chance on that unknown author, Veronica Lynch, for their commitment to older heroes and heroines.
          I was recently at a conference in New Jersey and for the first time heard rumblings of agreement that 40 and 50 year-olds are the new 30 something generation. I credit the popularity of actresses such as Sandra Bullock, Glenn Close, and Andie McDowell and Meryl Streep; actors such as Tommy Lee Jones, Pierce Brosnan, Bruce Willis and Liam Neeson. If I'm going to cuddle up with some guy [at least in my dreams], I want someone who's been around the block a time or two, someone with some life-lines on their faces and can make me laugh.
          That's why I write for this genre and that's why I love boomer romances.
          Thanks, Judy—this has been fun.
Veronica

PS: I'd like to offer a small gift to folks to stop by and leave a comment—a Veronica Lynch mouse pad!!!

purchase at:  www.thewildrosepress.com

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Twenty-five years ago, Fiona Thorpe's classmates voted her most likely to explode. Through hard work and rigorous self-control she is now every woman's fantasy, every man's wet dream. Head held high, and less than half her former size, Fee returns to her high school reunion weekend. Her goal: exact revenge on those who made her life a living hell back in the day. Her first attempts are remarkably easy and give her profound satisfaction. But no one is more shocked than Fee when she discovers the handsome, respected man seated beside her at the opening banquet is a modern day Paladin, who avenges those unable to defend themselves. To make matters worse, he is her former chief tormentor, Mick Dineen.

Are some wounds too deep to heal? Or can two former enemies find common ground?

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


 
Frustrated with the holdup, Fee glanced around the room, hoping to see Dru the minute she entered the ballroom. A hand on her arm claimed her attention. “Here comes someone you should meet.”
“Who?”
“Last year's Eastman Award winner,” Rafe said. “And a helluva nice guy.”
“Where?”
“There, coming toward us.”
One nano-second later, all thoughts of revenge evaporated like steam out of a boiling kettle.
Thick gold hair flecked with gray grazed the collar of his jacket. His features were weathered, as if he'd already lived ten times over. Broad through the shoulders and chest, and narrow at the waist and hips, he possessed the long legs of a broken-field runner. Moving across the parquet floor as if born to a runway, he looked confident and  at ease with himself. Without disrupting that graceful, fluid motion, he undid his tie, then shrugged out of his suit jacket.
She'd almost given up on finding a man like this.
This one had The Look.

Tomorrow:  Brenda Gayle, author of Soldier for Love

Monday, April 18, 2011

Jannine Gallant and Her Class of '85 Stories







First of all, I’d like to thank Judy for having me on her blog. I’m honored to be included in this exciting LROS spotlight event! Today, I’d like to discuss:

The Dreaded High School Reunion!

If you haven’t attended one, you’ve surely received an invitation. How did you feel when you read it?

Nostalgic —  “Hmmm, I wonder what ever happened to that cute boy from biology class.” Or maybe, “OMG, I haven’t seen Suzie in years!”

Apprehensive —  “I can’t possibly go if I don’t lose ten pounds first!”

Bored —  “Why would I want to see those people again. High school was the worst four years of my life!”

All these thoughts and more rattled around in my brain when I saw the call for submissions for the new Class of ’85 Reunion Series. Endless possibilities! What fun! But there was a catch; the hero and heroine had to be middle-aged (like me!) Where was the excitement in that? Could forty-something still be sexy?

The answer, I discovered as I started writing my first story, was a resounding YES. My characters had life experience. They’d been around the block and survived. They knew what they wanted (and what they didn’t!) Self confidence is sexy. I had such a blast creating these dynamic people, I couldn’t stop. I wrote a second story for the series, and then a third! Each character had different reasons for attending the reunion. Each had a story to tell.

My first book, Lonely Road To You, is Tyler and Kate’s story. Tyler North was the quintessential bad boy turned rock star turned recluse on a Montana ranch. His reason for attending the reunion – guilt and redemption. He wants to apologize to the girls he treated with so little respect back in the day. Kate North was the new girl her senior year. She’s certain no one will remember her, but her only true friend from high school asks her to attend. Fate throws Kate and Tyler together, and their journey back to Summerville is filled with self realization and a few surprises.



I wrote After All These Years next. Chantal Day was one of Tyler’s flings. She was the rich, spoiled girl who worked hard to build a thriving cosmetics company. When she loses her business     shortly before the reunion, the last thing she wants is to face former classmates. But an old love convinces her to go. Chantal and Flynn’s story is one of second chances and new beginnings.   






Maybe This Time is my final story for the series. It’s due out May 11th. Adam York attends the reunion hoping to see his old pal, Chloe, and is disappointed when she doesn’t show. Chloe Lane is dying to see all her old friends, but circumstances intervene, and she misses the reunion. Months later the two meet by chance. This is the story of two people who were never more than friends discovering the possibility of something more.

If you’d like to learn more about my books, check out my website at http://www.janninegallant.com/.



Wednesday:  Veronica Lynch

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bess McBride Shares 'A Trail of Love'


Thanks to Judy for having me here on her blog today to help her celebrate the release of her new release from The Wild Rose Press, “The Showboat Affair.”  She invited some of her fellow authors who have published in “The Last Rose of Summer” line, a line for women of a certain age. 

I’ll admit I wrote my “A Trail of Love” first because it was near and dear to me, and I found The Last Rose of Summer line after.  I’d published with The Wild Rose Press before, but I hadn’t yet submitted to The Last Rose of Summer line. 

In 2007, I embarked on a dream of living full time in a recreational vehicle and working summers in a national park.  The plan was to work in a national park for the summer and write romance novels during the winters on some lovely beach in a warm climate.  I was lucky enough to find summer seasonal work at Glacier National Park “working” the gate.  It was a wonderful experience, and I wrote “A Trail of Love” to celebrate my two summers at Glacier National Park.  My heroine has lived, loved and lost, and she wonders if she’ll ever find love again.  Like me, she’s not a young girl anymore.  J  Here’s the blurb and an excerpt.  I hope you enjoy! 
 


Kerrie is on the run from a painful past, and she hides in plain sight as a summer employee in the majestic setting of Glacier National Park. Lonely and isolated from the family and friends she left behind, she dreams of the day when a kind and gentle man will say to her: “I fell in love with you the first time I saw you across the room.”
Dace Mitchell could be that man! When the handsome bear ranger rescues Kerrie from her own foolish behavior...more than once, she finds herself drawn to him against her will...until she discovers he’s already involved with someone else.
When Kerrie begins to get mysterious silent phone calls, it seems likely that the past has caught up to her. Can Dace save her from a violent man who will stop at nothing to have her?

  PRINT ISBN 1-60154-299-2(180 pages) Sensual Available at The Wild Rose Press

Excerpt:
A moose! Baby mooses! Was that the right word? Kerrie had never seen moose before in real life. They were magnificent! The dark brown mother so tall, her long stick-like legs seemingly incapable of bearing her great weight. The dark blonde youngsters, though lighter in color and smaller in scale, were perfect mirror images of their mother.
Kerrie's heart tapped an excited rhythm against her chest. If this was any indication of what the summer promised, her hiding place suddenly looked a lot like Paradise.
She turned to face an approaching vehicle, casting a last glance over her shoulder to make sure the moose cow and her calves did not reenter the road.
A large silver truck pulled up to the kiosk and Kerrie wished she could have slid down to the floor of her booth. The driver was Dace and he wore the same Smokey Bear hat as she, except as one of those outdoorsy men, it looked so much better on him. He worked for the Park Service. Her summer had just gotten much, much longer.
Tuesday:  Jannine Gallant, author of After All These Years, Maybe This Time, and Lonely Road to You