Thursday, June 27, 2013

Roxy Boroughs - What to Read Thursday!

What will you be reading next?  Do you need a recommendation? 

Welcome to What to Read Thursday! 

“What to Read Thursday” is posted every other Thursday (For previous posts, click here.)  The focus of these Thursdays will be on romance novels.  Sub-genres of romance are welcome, but Happily-Ever-After (or Happy-For-Now) endings are mandatory.  :) 

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This week, I'm thrilled to welcome Roxy Boroughs to my blog!  I first met Roxy at my local writing group, Alberta Romance Writers' Association, where she has presented some of my favorite workshops on writing.  I also had the pleasure of seeing one of Roxy's dinner theatre murder mystery productions at the Deane House in Calgary where I guessed "who-dun-it"!  (I was the only one at my table to figure it out. Woo hoot!) 

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Thank you, Roxy, for joining me on my blog today.  With the Calgary Stampede just around the corner--which is amazing, considering last week's devastating floods--I am happy you've chosen to highlight your cowboy novel, Crazy for Cowboy, today! 

Roxy has also graciously offered to give away a $10 Amazon Gift Card today to one commenter (see the bottom of the post for details) and I am giving away a copy of my new release Devin's Second Chance--because you just can't get enough of cowboys! :)

Roxy: Thanks for inviting me to visit with you today and chat about my romantic comedy, “Crazy for Cowboy.” I’ve got your cowboy book on my Kindle and I’m looking forward to reading all about Devin.

Lorraine: Aw, thanks, Roxy.  I hope you enjoy it! I also have your book on my eReader! There is something special about cowboys, isn't there?
 
 
Question: Is there a particular food / drink you associate with this story?  If so, what is it and why?
I love, love, love this cover for
Crazy for Cowboy!

Roxy: There are actually quite a few food-related scenes in the book, which hints at my own, ravenous appetite. LOL. But at one point, the hero takes the heroine on a romantic picnic, and sausages are one of the items on the menu. It’s a running gag in the novel, because the hero is an actor who’s portraying a cowboy. He assumes the name Houston Saveloy, and a saveloy is a sausage.

Lorraine: Haha, that's great! I think I ate those when I was in the UK. 

Question: What was your inspiration for this story?

Roxy: When I moved from Ontario to Alberta, I was suddenly surrounded by cowboys. I thought it would be great fun to write about one, but I knew absolutely nothing on the topic. I did, however, know something of film and television from my acting days. So I came up with a story about an actor, Brandon, who’s portraying a cowboy in a movie. Unfortunately for him, he’s never been on a horse before. (In fact, he’s allergic to them!) So he has to learn how to be a real cowboy, while he wins the heroine’s heart.

Lorraine: I love your premise! And, an allergy to horses would certainly be difficult for a cowboy!  Poor guy! 

Question: What did you enjoy the most about writing this story?

Roxy: Because this is a romantic comedy, I had a lot of fun with both the characters and the plot. I was giggling away as I typed, putting my hero and heroine in situations totally outside their comfort zones. Reviewers comment that they laugh out loud while reading the book, which is hugely gratifying for me. It’s a thrill to know I’ve lightened someone’s day and that we’ve been able to share a chuckle together.

Lorraine: Laughing while reading is the best. I can't wait!  And, I know what you mean about the thrill--the first time someone said they laughed out loud at something I'd written was the best feeling in the world.

Question: What’s next?  Do you have another story on your desk you’d like to tease us with?

Roxy: Yes! Right now, I’m working on the Frost Family Christmas series with three other authors – CJ Carmichael, Amy Jo Fleming and Brenda M. Collins. Each novella is a sweet romance featuring one of the Frost siblings, and all are set in Vermont. My hero is the black sheep of the family. He comes back to town and meets up with his high school sweetheart, who now has an autistic son. It’s called “Home for Christmas” and is the second story in the series. The e-books will be available through Amazon starting October 1, 2013.

Lorraine: Oh! I'm so excited to hear about your series!  I love Christmas books!   I will be looking forward to them in October.

Question: What is one of your favorite lines or snippets from your story?

Roxy: I’ll give you two.

The first one is an exchange between two older women that the heroine, Emily, overhears while she’s in a restaurant. It’s a little quip about the hero, who’s wearing a long, oilskin duster – the kind you see in the old cowboy movies.

“He must be hot in that coat,” one of the women at the other table muttered.
“He’s hot, period,” declared her sidekick.


That, of course, is a lighter moment. The second quote is more serious and one that readers have highlighted the most and I can understand why. It’s a good reminder for folks like me who tend to get stuck in their ways, and is something the heroine’s kooky best friend says in a moment of clarity.

“Change helps you grow, expands your horizons. It may be uncomfortable at the time, but it can lead to great things.

Lorraine: Fun! I can totally picture the two older women eying up the hero! And, there nothing like a best friend to help put things into perspective.  I can see why your readers have highlighted that quote.

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Blurb for Crazy for Cowboy:

She’s through with cowboys. But this one’s the 'reel' deal.

Equine veterinarian, Emily Grant, has had her share of cowboys, and they always break her heart. After vowing to give them up forever, Brandon Hollister strides into her life.

He’s a different kind of cowboy, one that works on the silver screen. But is he just playing the part when it comes to love? Or can this gorgeous hunk get past a case of mistaken identity, and escape from the "Houston" character he's portraying, to become the man to win Emily’s heart.

A 50,000-word sweeter romantic comedy.

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BUY LINKS: Amazon

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Excerpt for Crazy for Cowboy:

Emily followed Houston’s line of vision down to the front of her wet blouse. Her white, cotton shirt was matted to her body, revealing her skimpy bra beneath. Even from her perspective she could see the pink tips of her breasts showing through the material. She imagined he had an even better view. In fact, she could guarantee it. His ragged breath might have been in response to their recent dash, but that fiery look in his eyes came from a more primal place.

He grasped her shoulders. A part of her prayed that he’d kiss her. The other more logical part ... well … it was kind of hopeful about it, too. She watched as he moved closer and closer, until his mouth brushed against hers.

Just say no to cowboys. Just say... “Mmmmmmm.”

His grip around her tightened as he traced a line of soft kisses along her cheek. “Emily, when can I see you again?”

“Oh, Houston,” she heard her breathless voice say, “I can’t.”

He pulled away. Slightly. “You’re not seeing someone else, are you?”

“No. It’s nothing like that.”

“Good. Then answer my question,” he whispered against her neck as he nibbled his way to her collarbone.

How could she answer? She couldn’t even think straight. “Houston,” she gasped, “we have a problem.”

He gave a low chuckle. “More than you know, darlin’, but let’s not get into that right now. We’ll approach this another way. If you weren’t going to see me again, when would be the best time to do it?”

It took her a while to figure out what he was aiming at. “I’ll be back at the ranch again this Friday, but I don’t think–”

“Friday is perfect. We can have dinner together.”

“But Houston, you don’t understand. I made a vow...” The rest of her sentence came out in a moan as his lips descended onto hers once more. This cowboy must have used liquor in his lip balm, because she was definitely getting tipsy. By the time he came up for air again, she was mush. If he hadn’t been holding onto her, she would have floated away.

“Now, I have only one question left,” he said, curling an arm around her and guiding her out of the pond. “How am I gonna get you back to your truck safely with you looking like that?”

Emily wrapped her outside arm across her chest. “Are you worried about protecting me from the other cowboys?”

“No, ma’am.” He smiled. “I’m worried about protecting you from me.”


~~~~~

About the Author: Before turning her attentions to writing, Roxy appeared in several TV series, commercials, and movies. Look for her romantic comedy CRAZY FOR COWBOY, and her suspense titles, the award winning A STRANGER'S TOUCH, and the follow-up novella A STRANGER'S KISS, all available through Amazon.






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Where to Find Roxy:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RoxyBoroughsAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RoxyBoroughs
Website: http://www.roxyboroughs.com/


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Thank you for checking out What to Read Thursday this week!  And, thank you again to Roxy for stopping by to talk about her book, Crazy for Cowboy!

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Obviously Roxy and I love cowboys!  And we want to know:
What do you like most about cowboys?

Include your email address in your comment to be eligible to win either the $10 Amazon Gift Card from Roxy or an eBook copy of Devin's Second Chance from me.  Two winners will be selected randomly from the eligible comments and announced on  Friday, June 28th.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Today I'm a Guest on Sarah Kades' Blog!

Woo hoo!

Today I'm a guest on author Sarah Kades' blog!  I'm so excited about this! This is my first ever guest blog as a published author! 

I'm talking about my 10 Steps to Overcoming Writer's Shyness.  If you feel shy about sharing your writing with other people, you should stop over and check it out!

Woo hoo!  (Followed by a squee!)

Come visit me at Sarah's!  http://sarahkades.blogspot.ca/2013/06/10-steps-to-overcoming-writers-shyness.html

I'm off to exotic blogging locales again! 
(This picture is from my holiday in Bermuda.)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fundraising for Alberta Floods Relief

As many of you know, I live in Alberta and many of my books, including my new release Devin's Second Chance, are set here too.

These last few days have been rather traumatic in Alberta
and I have been trying to figure out how I can help.

On Thursday afternoon, I was at work when emergency alerts starting breaking through regular radio programming over and over again to announce floods, flash floods, emergency evacuations, etc. 

It was eerie and bizarre. 

It seemed those initial emergency alerts gave very little warning, and almost announced the emergency as it was unfolding, which, given how close those first impacted areas are to the top of the water basins, is perhaps not surprising.  A co-worker lives in one of the first mandatory evacuation areas and she had less than an hour to get home grab her essentials and get out before the area was secured.  If our office had been further away from her home, she probably would have missed the window.

When I woke on Friday morning, nearly every bridge in Calgary was closed and the city officials begged people to avoid all non-essential travel. Needless to say, our office stayed closed... which meant I spent the entire day--and I really do mean the entire day--with my television on the live news coverage and my laptop, iPad and smart phone connected to Twitter (#yycflood, #abflood), Facebook and Youtube.  (I am lucky enough to live in a community that was missed by these events.) 

Some of the videos looked like this...



This video is from Canmore.  I have to wonder: WHY WERE THESE PEOPLE STANDING THERE (?!?!) when the backyards had been swept away and the footings of their houses were exposed!?!?!?  But it is an amazing video.

The footage and photos of the flooded and damaged areas both shocked and saddened me.  Many of my friends and family have been evacuated, but I believe all are safe.  I saw somewhere that an estimated 175,000 people were displaced. As the high water makes its way down stream I expect those numbers will grow and move beyond Alberta.  And, it is not just this one watershed that is going crazy--nearly every river and stream in Alberta that starts in the mountains is raging. Many towns and all of the major cities have issued flood watches, warnings or local states of emergency.

My heart goes out to those who have lost homes and loved ones. I hope we don't hear of more casualties in the days ahead.  It is a miracle that there have not been more deaths and injuries announced already. 

Our emergency personnel and government leaders have been amazing through this crisis.  I applaud them all.

The city officials expect downtown Calgary, which is the heart of the city's commercial district, will be closed until next week.  A vibrant, busy city has been brought to a screeching halt.  But, on a positive note, Mayor Nenshi has indicated that, although it may not be quite the same as usual, the Calgary Stampede will go on!  It is scheduled to start on July 5th. Considering that the Stampede grounds are still under water and the Saddledome, which is both the home of the Calgary Flames and one of the big venues for the Stampede, is flooded to the 10th row, this is an impressive goal.  Still, I can't help but think this is smart decision, giving people hope and some positive news amid all the devastation.

As hard as the last few days have been, I expect the major difficulties for those impacted will be coming in the days ahead as people are slowly allowed to re-enter their neighborhoods and assess what has become of their homes.  There is a lot of work ahead.

So, today, I donated to the Canadian Red Cross. 
 
If you want to too, the link is: http://www.redcross.ca/
 
Today, I also decided I will make a second donation in July.
All of my June 2013 earnings from Devin's Second Chance will be donated to the Canadian Red Cross Alberta Floods Fund.
 
My debut book, Devin's Second Chance, was just released last Monday, days before the flooding.  As I type this, my earning have reached $28.70 (all retailers included).
 
I don't know if I'll have earned much more than that by the end of the month, so if my total earnings are less than $50, I will personally match the amount, thereby doubling the donation.  I'll update you in July with my final June earnings and donation amount.
 
If you are interested in buying Devin's Second Chance, it is available here:
 
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I hope everyone is staying safe!
 
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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Alberta - Ram Falls Provincial Park

Last July, we were in the midst of selling our condo and buying a house.  It was a hectic, stressful process.  I checked my phone minute-by-minute to see if the deals were accepted, approved, etc.  
 
Somewhere in the middle of all this, my honey decided we needed a break. We jumped in the car and he started driving.  He may have known where we were heading, but I didn't. I tamped down the control freak in me and just went along for the ride.  I even tried not to ask where we were going! We ended up at the beautiful Ram Falls Provincial Park, which is located the Upper Foothills area west of Red Deer.
 



Ram Falls
Life takes root
in even the most unlikely locations.
 
Over the last few months I've been featuring posts on Alberta, the province where I set most of my stories. If you want to check out earlier posts, click here.
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When was the last time you just got in your car and drove?  Did you end up anywhere interesting?


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Today I'm being interviewed by Mae Clair!

Today I'm being interviewed on Mae Clair's blog!  I'm so excited about this!  It is my first ever interview as a published author! 

Woo hoo!  (Followed by a squee!)

Come visit me at Mae's by clicking here!

Today I'm taking a little holiday from my blog
to visit new and exotic locales!
Come visit me at Mae Clair's blog!
(This is a photo I took in Bermuda in February. 
It is lovely, isn't it?)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Devin's Second Chance - Official Release Day!

Today I'm thrilled to announce that my debut book, Devin's Second Chance, is now available at eBook retailers! 

Book cover for DEVIN'S SECOND CHANCE
Book cover for DEVIN'S SECOND CHANCE

DEVIN'S SECOND CHANCE

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 84,000 words
Publication Date: June 2013
Series: A Morning Lake Novel: Book 1

Buy Links: AmazonSmashwords | All Romance eBooks | Kobo

Read an excerpt here.

Blurb:
Cowboy Devin Trent’s life has been stuck for years, unchanged since his faithless wife died, and he is determined to keep it that way - an ever-present reminder of why he doesn’t deserve a second chance at love. Claire Best, by contrast, is in turmoil – she is renting her house to summer folk, she is planning a big fundraiser, and her doctor has discovered something that needs to be investigated.
Pulled together by the fundraiser, Claire’s teenage renter, and Devin’s matchmaking mom, their immediate attraction quickly escalates to more, but Claire fears her own health worries will only resurrect Devin’s pain and grief over his wife’s final days and she is willing to sacrifice her own happiness to protect him.

Can they overcome their pasts and listen to their hearts before their happily-ever-after slips away?
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You can sign up for my newsletter (top right side of this page) to get an email notification of special news, promotions and my next release!

You can also join me over on Facebook for my virtual release party, where I'll be very generous when pouring the virtual champagne!
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Thank you for visiting!  Let's break out the virtual champagne! 

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A new development--I'm giving away a $10 gift card for Amazon to celebrate!  To be eligible to win the gift card, please include your email address with your comment on this post!  :)  One name will be selected randomly and then announced tomorrow (Tuesday) morning!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Devin's Second Chance - Excerpt

Book cover for DEVIN'S SECOND CHANCE
Book cover for DEVIN'S SECOND CHANCE
DEVIN'S SECOND CHANCE

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 84,000 words
Publication Date: June 2013
Series: A Morning Lake Novel: Book 1

Digital copies are available here:
Amazon | Smashwords | All Romance eBooks | Kobo

Print Copies are available here:
CreateSpace | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Blurb:

Cowboy Devin Trent’s life has been stuck for years, unchanged since his faithless wife died, and he is determined to keep it that way - an ever-present reminder of why he doesn’t deserve a second chance at love. Claire Best, by contrast, is in turmoil – she is renting her house to summer folk, she is planning a big fundraiser, and her doctor has discovered something that needs to be investigated.

Pulled together by the fundraiser, Claire’s teenage renter, and Devin’s matchmaking mom, their immediate attraction quickly escalates to more, but Claire fears her own health worries will only resurrect Devin’s pain and grief over his wife’s final days and she is willing to sacrifice her own happiness to protect him.

Can they overcome their pasts and listen to their hearts before their happily-ever-after slips away?

~~~~~
Excerpt:
CHAPTER 1

Summer in Morning Lake was disgusting—too many damn tourists, screaming children and shit hawks. As one of the largest and warmest lakes in landlocked Alberta, the town had become something of a destination to a certain type of people, and that type wasn’t him. God, he hated going downtown this time of year. He avoided it whenever possible.

Today, it wasn’t possible.

Devin Trent drove through the town’s crowded streets for ten minutes, circling, looking for an empty parking stall, which was about a rare as pasty white skin in this town. The only open space was five blocks from the pub. Shirley, his wife’s—his dead wife’s— mother had chosen the place, so she shouldn’t be surprised to have to wait.

The early July day was thick with the kind of heat that made you wonder how people survived before having an air-conditioned truck—the sky was clear, the air was still, and the sun blistered. Main Street snaked along Morning Lake’s wide beach, so the whole town core was littered with half-naked sun worshippers. His scuffed leather boots, worn jeans and cowboy hat made him stick out like a bull in a chicken coop.

Not that he cared about fitting in, but their curious gazes still made him itch at the collar. By the time the pub’s patio came into view, his temples throbbed.

God, Shirley was sitting in the sun in front of the Shining Whistle. Didn’t she feel the heat? Perspiration rolled down the side of his face. He wiped his forehead. Mistaking his movement for a wave, Shirley lifted her hand, then dropped it to her lap again. He greeted her with a nod, knowing full well he was scowling.

Shirley smiled, seemingly unaware. How much had she had to drink already?

When Devin opened the gate to the outdoor patio, Shirley stood to hug him.

A moment later, they were seated at a table that could double as one of his living room’s TV tables. His shirt was now stuck to his damp back from when she’d embraced him.

“I hope you don’t mind, dear.” Shirley motioned to the drinks on the table. “When I saw your truck pass a few minutes ago, I ordered you a lager. I don’t remember which kind—something domestic.”

Livy had never called a beer a beer either.

“Thanks.” Damn, he wished Shirley hadn’t dragged him here. He took a long draw from his beer, and the cool draught swished through his body. The throb in his head shifted down to a dull ache. When he set down his frosted glass, he watched Shirley poke at the ice cubes in her glass with a straw. The clear liquid was undoubtedly a double G and T. She was seldom without one clutched in her long thin fingers. Judging by the cluster of used straws beside the salt- and pepper-shakers, Shirley’d had a few before he’d arrived.

Under Devin’s gaze, she pulled out the straw and set it on the table. She attempted a smile. He waited for her to speak, but she took a small sip instead. She seemed hesitant, which was odd for Shirley. She reached out to cover his hand with hers.

“What’s going on?” he said.

“You say that like something’s wrong.” Shirley smiled as if to reassure. “I had a voicemail the other day.” She paused again, before clearing her throat and looking up at him. “It was from the gallery here in town, The Red Door.”

“Yeah, so?” Devin narrowed his eyes.

She slipped her other hand beneath his, so she was cradling his in both hers. “They phoned to ask about Olivia’s art.”

“I already said no.” He withdrew his hand.

“They told me.”

“Then it’s done. They shouldn’t be bothering you.” The last thing Shirley needed was someone pestering her about Livy. The woman didn’t need the constant reminders. She was a wreck as it was.

Shirley’s gaze was soft and glassy. Was it caused by the booze or the talk of Livy? “It’s been nearly three years—”

“I know exactly how long it’s been.” Devin shifted in his chair, trying to stretch his legs under the child-sized table. He patted his breast pocket looking for a pack of gum. He’d given up chew ages ago, but sometimes he still needed to gnaw on something. This was one of those times. He pulled out the pack. Damn, it was empty. He’d finished his last piece on his drive into town. He clenched his teeth. His foul mood was getting as heavy as the heat. Tossing the useless pack on the table, he looked out at the street.

“Devin,” Shirley said, waiting for him to look at her again before she continued speaking. “It’s hard. More than anyone else, I know how hard. But it’s…it’s been time for a while now.” Her voice broke, drawing his attention again. She dabbed at a trickle of tears. He was an ass for making her cry, but, damn it, they’d been down this road before and it wasn’t time until he decided it was.

And it wasn’t now.

“Put those stained glass pieces in a gallery and they’ll be gone. For good. Livy isn’t making any more.”

Shirley cleared her throat again. “I know that, too. But you can’t keep living how you have been, with all her work just sitting around you.”

Devin picked up Shirley’s straw and started chewing on the end of it. He’d heard it all before. Sweat slid down his neck. The woofer of a beat-up old hatchback thumped as the car rolled down the street.

He didn’t respond.

“Let’s go talk to the gallery owner. Maybe he’d be interested in highlighting local artisans, and he could show a few, without selling them.”

Devin shook his head. “It isn’t a museum. They work on commission. I’m not selling her stuff for the sole reason of getting it out of my space. I will not peddle her work as if we’re holding some high-end garage sale.” He hadn’t sold them when he was hard up after Livy’s death, so with his finances finally landing in the black, he wasn’t about to hawk them now.

“That’s not what I want either,” Shirley snapped. Then she took a deep breath. “But Olivia was preparing for an event in Toronto when she got sick.” Her voice was softer now. He used the same tone on spirited horses when they were being stubborn. “She was able to complete so many exquisite pieces. It would be a shame not to share it. She really was at her artistic peak.”

Devin didn’t know about that. It seemed to him no one much cared about Livy’s art when she was alive, regardless of that supposed art show she had scheduled in Toronto.

“I often wonder if her illness gave her a special insight…”

They sat in silence for a few minutes. He didn’t want to talk about this, but he did want another drink. Where was the waiter?

Shirley slapped the table, perhaps slamming down the memories with the gesture. “Olivia made the pieces with the expectation of selling them.”

He leaned forward. “She hoped to make a living at her art. There is no need to do that now.” He knew he was being a jerk, but she just wasn’t getting it. How blunt did he need to be?

“I’m not suggesting you get rid of everything, but she didn’t create those lovely pieces so they could collect dust in your house.”

She’d called it his house. Not Livy’s house. Not Livy’s studio. Damn, he wished he had gum—the straw wasn’t cutting it.

“For me?”

“Fine.” He wasn’t changing his mind, but he knew the gallery would not show without selling. That was how they made their money. Everything was about money.

Devin threw a few bills on the table. He was itching to leave town anyway. The sooner the gallery guy said no, the better. The instant he stood, Shirley had hold of him, gripping the crook of his arm, guiding him along the street toward the gallery. Her bony fingers bit into his flesh.

The gallery was along that same mobbed road he’d just walked and it was beside Livy’s favorite trendy gift store. Neither of those things improved Devin’s outlook.

To all outward appearances, they were two people out for a walk, taking in the tourist atmosphere. In reality, her hand on his arm felt more akin to a noose around his neck. He hated being told what to do. He’d usually do the opposite to prove he could, or he’d lose everything trying. That’s what had gotten him on the rodeo circuit more than ten years ago—and that decision had almost cost him everything.

Shirley slowed as they approached the old wood building that housed the gallery. Its door had been freshened with a coat of red paint, making it stand out among its beige and white stucco neighbors. The gallery folk probably thought it was all chic and modern. It reminded him he still needed to paint the barn and the other outbuildings this summer.

She squeezed his arm—as encouragement, no doubt.

Devin glanced in the window. “What the—”

A life-sized image of Livy stared out at him from a poster in the gallery window. The photographer had captured the look Livy had “after” - after she had found out she had cancer, after she had confronted him about cheating and he hadn’t denied it, after she realized she was dying…

His heart stopped. He couldn’t move. He’d been sucker punched a few times in his life—this was worse. Then, in a rush, his blood blasted through his veins. “What the hell is going on?”

He motioned to the window. Shirley pivoted and her face paled at what she saw. “Olivia.”

“What did you do?”

“I didn’t know, I swear.”

Devin shook her off before charging to the gallery. The door rattled on its hinges when he yanked it open. There were only three people inside the quiet, cavernous room. Their mouths all widened with surprise when he burst in. Devin glanced from one to another.

“Who’s in charge here?”

The young couple closest to him shrugged. The man stepped between Devin and his companion and wrapped his arm over the girl’s shoulders to guide her out of the gallery. Another woman averted her eyes and followed the couple. Then the place was empty.

Devin growled and marched to the back of the display room. Ahead, a door was ajar. A female voice carried from the room. Devin’s boots rapped angrily against the polished hardwood. Shirley scurried behind him.

“Devin, it’s a wonderful picture of Olivia. Did you see it? She is beautiful. They remember her, don’t they? Everyone in town can see her. Remember her.”

He ignored her.

When he arrived at the door, he pushed it open. It swung smoothly. A woman with very dark, very straight brown hair had her back to him and was murmuring into a telephone receiver. She had a nice voice, the kind you could imagine would be perfect for soothing a newborn with a lullaby.

Jesus, that beer must have gone straight to his head.

“Is there anything…anything I need to do ahead of time?” Her voice stumbled over the words.

When the doorknob banged against the wall, she jumped in her chair, then swiveled to face him.

“Excuse me a moment,” she said into the phone. Then she covered the receiver and said, “I will only be a moment.”

“Are you in charge?” Devin asked, crossing his arms.

“I said I will be with you in a moment. If you could wait in the gallery…”Her words trailed off when he leaned against the threshold.

“Fine, I’ll wait.” He stared at her. Shirley tugged on his shirt, trying to yank him into the gallery. He didn’t move.

The woman let out a loud sigh. Devin expected her to hang up the phone, but she didn’t. Behind him, Shirley was raving about some picture on the far wall, trying to lure him from the office. He stayed.

“I’m sorry,” the woman said, turning her attention to the caller. Her words were barely more than a whisper. “What did you say again? The doctor needs me to—” She paused and scribbled on a notepad. “When is there an opening?”

She peeked at Devin, perhaps to confirm if he was still there. A faint blush had stolen over her pale cheeks. She scowled at him over her black-rimmed glasses, the artsy kind that Livy’d bought in three different colors. Other than the glasses, she didn’t match his vision of a gallery person. And he’d had his share of gallery folk through Livy. This girl’s clothes seemed more business and less art, but what the hell did he know?

“I…I would guess…” Her cheeks were bright red now. She traced her finger over a calendar on the desk. “Um…maybe fifteen days ago?”

Good God, was she making a woman’s appointment? Why did his brain kick into calculating her ovulation cycle? Maybe he had spent too much time thinking about his mares’ breeding schedules.

The woman was still trying to ignore him. She nodded as she listened to the speaker on the other end of the line.

“Yes.” She turned from Devin then, and faced the far corner of the office. “All right, I’ll be there. Thank you.” She nodded. “I have your number if I have any questions.”

She trembled when she replaced the receiver on its base. She took a deep breath. When she did turn to Devin, the blush that had crept over her white cheeks a few moments earlier was fading. Was she going to be ill? She looked as if she’d had a hell of a day, and he wasn’t about to make it any easier. Then she met his gaze. Her eyes were the color of a clear blue sky in the morning. There was probably some fancy name to describe that color, but it all came down to the fact that they were stunning.

No, not stunning. He didn’t find women stunning. Not any more.

“Is there a problem?” The woman circled the desk and walked toward him.

Now that he saw her move, he had the sense he had met her before. A long time ago.

“Devin Trent, correct?” She held out her hand to shake his. He kept his arms crossed. Realizing he wasn’t going to shake, she frowned and withdrew.

“I want that poster removed.” He pointed with his thumb toward the window where Livy’s image faced the street. A billboard along the highway would be less visible.

“It’s an advertisement for an upcoming event. Perhaps if you return then, you could purchase the original.”

“No, I don’t want to buy it. I don’t want it. I don’t want it hanging there.”

The woman pushed her glasses up her nose. “I don’t understand.”

“That’s my wife. I never gave anyone permission to—” Devin swallowed. “Take it down.”

The red stain on her cheeks was returning. She was more attractive with a bit of flush on her skin. What the hell was the matter with him today? Devin shook his head. Maybe it was the heat that had gotten to him.

She straightened. Her lips pressed together. Her gaze took him in with a quick up and down. She didn’t look pleased with what she saw. “I have the paperwork. Olivia Trent signed a model release form.”

“Hi, dear.” Shirley stepped between them. “Is this your work?” She motioned to the oil painting she’d been admiring. It was as if she’d forgotten the poster in the window. How long had she been drinking at the patio before he’d arrived?

The woman’s gaze moved from Devin to Shirley. “No, this isn’t my work, but I’ll be having a show in a few weeks.” Then she looked directly at Devin again. “The poster in the front is advertising it.”

“Oh?” Shirley swayed toward the window. “That’s yours? You’ve done an amazing job capturing my daughter’s image. She really is beautiful.” Her forehead creased. She pursed her lips for a moment and shook her head. “Was. She was beautiful. Right to the end. Wasn’t she, Devin?” Her voice sounded more wistful than grieving, but the last thing he’d want was for Shirley to start sobbing, so maybe it was better she’d numbed herself with drink. “So beautiful.”

“Thank you,” the girl said.

“You look familiar,” Shirley said. “Have we met?”

“I knew Olivia. Actually, the show is a cancer fundraiser, in memory of people in our community, like Olivia, who’ve…” Her voice faltered. She cleared her throat. “People who’ve had to confront cancer. I had hoped to display some of your daughter’s pieces with her portrait, but when there was no response to the letter or the phone messages I left for Mr. Trent…” The woman tilted her head, as if with her short stature she could pull off peering down her nose at him.

He had at least a foot on her.

Devin shrugged when Shirley shot a questioning look his way. There may have been a letter, he didn’t remember. The minute anything came in with the word “gallery” on it, he’d tossed it. Voicemails were erased. Sooner or later people got the idea. Evidently, this woman wasn’t overly bright.

“What a lovely idea. My daughter’s name will be out in the public again. Her talent was so great, I knew she wouldn’t be forgotten. Devin, dear, we were just discussing that very idea, weren’t we? I knew when I heard your message I had to bring Devin here today, and I was right.” Shirley clapped in a short and rare burst of enthusiasm. “What is your name, dear?”

“Claire Best.” She shook the older woman’s hand. She didn’t offer her hand to Devin again.

“Was that why you called the other day? That was you, yes?” Shirley was focused on Claire.

Claire nodded.

“What a lovely idea,” Shirley repeated. “Devin, don’t you agree?”

“I want the poster down,” he said.

“Devin, dear.” Shirley touched his forearm. “It’s to raise money for cancer.”

“So?”

“Perhaps in this instance…”

Devin gritted his teeth. The last thing he wanted was to have the world remember Livy that way, with that look on her face. It was the one he’d put there and couldn’t erase. It’d haunted him, and now it was on display for everyone in God’s creation to see.

“Devin, dear, perhaps you need some fresh air?”

He scowled.

“No?” Shirley shrugged. “Okay, let’s chat about how to proceed. I’m sure the gallery will be very accommodating with Olivia’s work and whatever concessions you might want. Right, Claire?”

He growled.

Claire raised her eyebrows.

“Go on now, Devin. We’ll talk about this tomorrow. I’m sure we can work it out.” Shirley’s eyes pleaded with him silently as she spoke. They begged him to let this be.

Devin pivoted toward the poster. The display area wasn’t obviously accessible, or he’d have ripped the damn thing out himself. “There is nothing to talk about, except getting rid of that picture.”

“Devin, perhaps you should leave. We can talk about this again once you are calmer.”

He fought the urge to hit something. Maybe it’d be better if he left. An instant later, he was walking down the street to the convenience store. A bell jingled when he entered.

He didn’t like being sideswiped. And if Shirley thought just because he felt sorry for her he’d give in to this gallery girl’s demands, well, perhaps even Shirley couldn’t push him that far. Sure, she could manipulate him into going to the gallery, but this was a whole other situation.
 
He grabbed six packs of cinnamon flavored gum on his way to the checkout counter. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Happy Father's Day - Devin's Second Chance #2

Weekend Writing Warriors Logo
Happy Father's Day!

Thank you for stopping by!  I'm excited to share a few more sentences from my contemporary romance, Devin's Second Chance!

About this excerpt: In honor of Father's Day, I wanted to include something with Claire's dad, so these eight sentences are from much later in the book than last week's excerpt. This snippet is from when Devin meets Claire's parents. Claire's mom speaks first.

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          "Is this man the reason you are staying here?"
          If only the storm brewing overhead could break now. 
          Devin winked at her.  Good God, what was he thinking?  "Mr. and Mrs.  Best," he said, "it has been a pleasure." He nodded to them, but instead of getting in his truck, he went to the house. Her parents stared at Devin. 
          "Is he a real cowboy?" her father asked.

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[A Short Disclaimer: I've had to modify the sentences a little to fit within the eight sentence limit.] 

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Thank you to everyone who stopped by my blog last week!  I love reading everyone's comments on my post and enjoyed checking out everyone else's snippets too!

I've posted links to this blog post on the Weekend Writing Warriors site and the Sunday Snippet Facebook Page.  If you aren't familiar with those blog hops, I encourage you to check them out to find some great authors and writing.

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My Virtual Release Party for Devin's Second Chance is taking place Monday June 17th on Facebook!  I'd love it if you stopped by!  (I have the virtual champagne chilling. ;) )

Oh - and sign up for my newsletter! The first edition will be sent via email right away!  And, there is a special something in there for subscribers. (Just so you know.)

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Meeting someone's parents for the first time can be a bit awkward, but I think Devin handles this very well, don't you?

Virtual Release Party for Devin's Second Chance!

Book cover for
Devin's Second Chance
Join me on Facebook on Monday June 17th for a virtual party to celebrate the official release of my debut book, Devin's Second Chance

Click here to visit the Event page on Facebook!

Click here to check out my Facebook page!

Stop in to read quotes throughout the day and ask questions.

I'd love to see you there!

Glasses will be overflowing with virtual champagne! ;)




 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Donna Cummings - What to Read Thursday!

What will you be reading next?  Do you need a recommendation? 

Welcome to What to Read Thursday! 

“What to Read Thursday” will run every other Thursday.  The focus of these Thursdays will be on romance novels.  Sub-genres of romance are welcome, but Happily-Ever-After (or Happy-For-Now) endings are mandatory.  :) 

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This week, I'm excited to welcome Donna Cummings to my blog!  I first met Donna through the now defunct Six Sentence Sunday blog hop, which is also where I first read snippets of I Do... or Die.  I was hooked on the story immediately!

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Thank you, Donna, for joining me on my blog today.  I recently read I Do... or Die and loved it, so I'm glad you decided to talk about it today.

Okay, let's get started!



Book Cover for I DO OR DIE
Question: Is there a particular food / drink you associate with this story?  If so, what is it and why? 

Donna: Shelby, the heroine of I Do. . .or Die, is a former food personality with a local TV show. Unfortunately there was "the okra incident", which ended her TV career. It wasn't really her fault, but in true Shelby fashion, it was a spectacular incident! I'm not a fan of okra, so when it came time to pick a food that would cause her some troubles, it was easy for me to choose that one. Brussels sprouts were standing by as a runner-up, if okra didn't work out.

Lorraine: Poor Shelby - that "okra incident" really haunts her!

Question: What was your inspiration for this story? 

Donna: Most of my stories start out with me thinking, "I wonder what would happen if. . .", and it's usually when I'm thinking about something else entirely. This one commenced with a bridesmaid complaining about all the dresses she had, from the numerous weddings she'd been in. I must have been pondering several of the weddings I'd been in when I was younger. But all of a sudden this little snippet turned into a mystery, with gunfire at the wedding, and the bridesmaid mentioning that her dad was a gigolo--I had no idea what I was starting by ruminating about my various bridesmaid dresses that day!

Lorraine: Inspiration is a curious thing, isn't it?  I love how your muse jumped on board - Gunfire would certainly make a wedding memorable! 

Question: What did you enjoy the most about writing this story? 

Donna: I loved the banter between Shelby and Ryan. In fact, they were so comfortable with their banter from the moment they first met on the page, I had to stop writing and figure out WHY they were so comfortable! I'd never had characters that acted as if they'd known each other forever right from the very beginning, and I wasn't sure what to do about it. I came up with what I think is a good reason for that, and then I went back to writing their encounters, cackling the whole time.

Lorraine: I've cackled at my characters a time or two too! I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one.

Question: Do you have a favorite scene in this story?  If so, what makes it special to you?  

Donna: This was probably the hardest question to answer! There are so many scenes where I'd think, "Okay, this is my favorite", and then I'd think of another one, and then I couldn't make up my mind. But I will say I love Shelby's interactions with Serena, Ryan's time-share cat. One reason I like those scenes so much is because Serena turned into an intriguing character, with an arc of her own, and helps Shelby grow too. Initially Serena was just a brief mention in an early chapter--something for Ryan to explain why he didn't have any milk for Shelby's cereal. This is what I love about writing. When a throwaway line becomes something fun and more important than I ever would have expected.

Lorraine: Serena is perfect! I can relate completely!  The cat who lived with my husband before I came into their lives has never really accepted me.  ;)  Serena came around, so I can hold out hope that Mikka will too.

Question: What’s next?  Do you have another story on your desk you’d like to tease us with?

Donna: I'm actually working on several things, depending on which characters strong-arm me to the laptop that day! There's a story called Driving Miss Crazy which includes the brother of the hero from I Do. . . or Die. And another one called Heartbreaker, with the best friend of the hero from Back on Track. The one I'm working to finish first, however, is Lord Rakehell's Love, which commences The Curse of True Love series, where the Greek goddess Aphrodite tries to play matchmaker in Regency London, with disastrous results. I hope to have it available in the next couple of months.

Lorraine: Wow--you are very busy!  I can't wait to read your new stories!  I especially love the premise of your The Curse of True Love series! 

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Blurb for I Do... or Die:

“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride” is Shelby Atwood's personal credo. She’s managed to avoid commitment all her life – no pets, no plants, not even a long-term lease. Heck, she’s had colds last longer than her romantic relationships. How could she be any other way when she has a gigolo for a father?

But then gunfire erupts at the latest wedding she’s agreed to be in, and it ends up being the best thing to happen to Shelby’s love life. Detective Ryan Nichols is assigned to the case, and when the shootings don’t stop, he becomes her 24-hour bodyguard. Shelby wouldn’t mind except Ryan is too appealing, too sexy, and too happy to remind her of the raucous bachelorette party when she mistook him for a stripper.

Shelby’s plan is simple: find the shooter, have a fling with Ryan, and return to her non-committal life. Unfortunately, the shooter is very elusive. Shelby’s feelings for Ryan are way more than adrenaline-fueled lust. And returning to her normal life is now impossible since, despite her lifelong resistance, she’s managed to put her heart smack dab in the line of fire.

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BUY LINKSAmazonBarnes & Noble | iTunes
 
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Excerpt for I Do... or Die:

Serena at least waited until we got inside before she started marking her territory. She wound her gray furry self in and out of Ryan’s legs, looking at me the entire time with her enigmatic eyes.

Even with my sketchy detection skills, I knew she was saying “Mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine” each time she rubbed against his ankles, ensuring I could not possibly think otherwise.

I wanted to taunt her by saying we forgot to stop for more milk, because we’d been too busy in the elevator to think about anything else, and then finish by sticking my tongue out, but I refrained. It wasn’t like she was going to hear me. Or maybe I was afraid what kind of revenge she might exact.

Ryan bent down and gathered Serena into his arms. She nuzzled his face, and started purring so loud it sounded like a Boeing 747 had just lifted off from the coffee table. She turned and looked right at me, her mouth raised in a “take that, bitch” expression.

I refused to be jealous of a cat--especially one who had the same commitment issues I did.

Instead I reached toward Serena the Slutty Cat and rubbed her head between her ears. She closed her eyes and almost winced, like my touch was something she had to endure, and not graciously.

I kept rubbing, and scratching, and petting. Ooops, I accidentally touched Ryan in the process.

Serena opened one eye and gave me a warning look. I narrowed mine in return.

The Battle of the Alpha Cats was a tie so far.

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Photo of Donna Cummings
The lovely Donna Cummings.

About the Author: I have worked as an attorney, winery tasting room manager, and retail business owner, but nothing beats the thrill of writing humorously-ever-after romances.

I reside in New England, although I fantasize about spending the rest of my days in a tropical locale, wearing flip flops year-round, or in Regency London, scandalizing the ton.

Back on Track, my contemporary novella set on the Napa Wine Train, recently released as part of the Strangers on a Train collection from Samhain. Also available is Summer Lovin', a free romantic comedy novella, and Lord Midnight, a Regency historical romance.

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Where to Find Donna:





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Thank you for checking out What to Read Thursday this week!  And, thank you again to Donna for stopping by to talk about her book, I Do... or Die.

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Now, I'm curious: how many bridesmaids dresses do you own?