“One of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read” – Sunyi Dean, author of The Book Eaters
A rogue black hole tears apart the solar system. Mairead’s life is already in pieces.
The Earth has less than a year to survive.
Asteroids rain hell; earthquakes rattle cities; manic tides swamp coasts. Mairead intends to give herself to the erratic waves that erode her remote Irish island, the same that claimed her child. When Gavin, an American, arrives to scatter his father’s ashes, she becomes torn between wanting for life and death.
Despite the tides, fuel shortages, and closing borders that threaten to trap him on the island, Gavin can’t seem to scatter the ashes. He doesn’t know how to let go any more than Mairead does and they find a strange comfort in their confusion.
Their affair draws Mairead back to the world of the living, but the longer Gavin stays, the more it seems there might be a future for them. There is no future.
Life closes down around them. The world they know shreds. Life drains into an inescapable abyss. And yet Mairead fights, both the gravity of her grief and the restless, dissonant desire to find some kind of peace no matter how brief.
“Here?” I say.
Gavin and I inch down grass carpeted limestone steps from the buckled road to a strand the sea exposed. This is foolish of us but then this is our fashion so we go on, being fools, further out into the moonscape the retreating sea exposed. Crabs skulk through the seaweed. The rock slick. The seals beach hundreds of yards off shore and we just keep going, skipping from one pink stained stone to the next, like playing hopscotch with no end.
Do I want it to end?
A rogue wave could come in. I could slip on a rock and brain myself. He could. Could I? Could I slip, right now, and pull him with me? I squeeze his hand. He squeezes back. He’s got me. I pull and then he’s done; he guides me to a flat bit of rock and we sit, where people have not sat or stood since there was ice covering the world.
His hand touches his coat pocket. “Maybe.”
For a long time we watch the seals sleep. They rest their hairy chins just over the water. How tired they must be, spending all night in the turbulent sea. How sad they must be, to fight this war with the water every single day. How angry they must be. Who do they blame.
Do they know.
Gavin holds the pill bottle in his hands. The current surging through him to twist off the cap. The strain on his face. The trap he’s set for himself. It’s like giving up the drink. You want to. You just can’t. It’s nothing to do with wanting. You’ve no control over it. He can’t let go.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Darby Harn studied at Trinity College, in Dublin, Ireland, as part of the Irish Writing Program. He is the author of the sci-fi superhero novel EVER THE HERO. His short fiction appears in Strange Horizons, Interzone, Shimmer, The Coffin Bell and other venues.
Have you heard of Readict? It’s a popular new reading app. At the urging of an author friend, I submitted my contemporary romance about a price and a commoner and their rocky relationship. When it was accepted, I set to work in earnest at polishing it ready to send into the editor.
Fast forward and it is now ready to read on the app. You have to download the app (needless to say) and start reading. Many of the books are free reading. The way it works is that you subscribe for a big $.99 per month and can download whatever you want. The books are available in chapter format. The only drawback from an author standpoint is that the book never appears in print.
Royal Secrets’ Blurb:
Finally, Desjardins, a wealthy European principality, has negotiated an ambassador from the United States. The ambassador’s daughter Chrissy is hosting her childhood friend Ginny MacDonald for the summer. Both young women idolize Desjardins’ dashing prince Alexander. When they’re introduced to him, that meeting sparks a cruel competition between the two friends. The trophy? Alexander’s heart.
Alexander Leandres is everything a handsome prince should be. His dark hair and blue eyes melt women’s hearts. But there is something missing from his life of glitz and glamor. When he is introduced to the new ambassador’s guest and acting secretary, his life will change in ways he’d never dreamed possible.
Ginny had watched Alexander from afar, never dreaming that one night, in a cape, its hood shadowing her face, she’d creep up the palace’s back stairs, the sound of her own footsteps reminding her of mistresses in a century long past.
Inspired by the famous love affair of Edward VIII of England and the American divorcee, Wallis Simpson, Royal Secrets is a poignant story of love and loss…and of the power of love.
As I spun Ingrid into the final turn of the waltz, I was thinking of the new American Embassy we’d finally won for my country. This morning, I was at the King’s righthand when he signed documents finalizing the long negotiations. I knew how much this meant to him because I am Crown Prince and Heir Apparent to the throne of Desjardins, a province-state in southern Europe, captured between the mountains and the sea. This embassy would create more financial strength and give us a stronger voice in world politics. My lover gazed up at me, totally unaware that my thoughts were elsewhere. Necessarily, I’m good at hiding behind a smile.
Between one turn and the next, suddenly, I lost focus…on Ingrid, on the embassy, and on the Spring Ball dazzling around us. Something inside me—the restless hunger that had begun to eat at me often late at night—lifted its anonymous face. Her perfume engulfed me, suffocating and cloying. What was this? I loved the fragrance. I’d bought it for her on our last escape to Paris. But like a dying man, I sucked in a last breath and exhaled a long sigh.
“That was a heartfelt sigh if I’ve ever heard one.” Ingrid tilted her head, trying to gaze beyond my smile…trying to read my soul.
“Nothing of the sort,” I said and would have left it at that, but Ingrid is a tenacious woman.
“I just wondered why you seem so distant,” she said.
“I have a secret.” The American embassy had yet to be announced.
The waltz ended, and the band in Leandres livery switched to another classic. Ingrid’s hand slid to my elbow, ready for the next dance. It wasn’t that she was a great dancer. I knew Ingrid. By keeping me on the dancefloor, she kept me away from the dozens of beautiful women sparkling beneath the crystal chandeliers. The theme of the Ball was the newborn colors of Spring, and the ladies’ attire showed how closely the nobility listened to my mother.
When I covered my lover’s hand with mine, my signet ring flashed gold. The piece had been handed down from my grandfather to my father, then to me when I turned eighteen. “Let’s sit this one out.”
She tossed me a flirty wink and a wicked grin. “Must we? Surely, you’re not tired. You’ve hardly danced with me all evening.”
“Not tired.” I bit down on, “merely bored,” confining the admission to my thoughts. “Merely on duty.”
“You poor thing.” She patted my hand. “Dancing with all the pretty girls is such a chore.”
As I escorted her from the dancefloor, we earned envious glances from some and curious glances from others. Ingrid wasn’t a woman to be ignored. Her blonde, blue-eyed beauty alone turned heads. Her stunning gold lame gown spiked her allure. The mysterious smile—as if she knew something you didn’t—drew reporters like a magnet. However, had she not been my almost constant companion, she wouldn’t be on the cover of various and sundry magazines and tabloids.
“This is our second anniversary, Lex.” She flung the accusation at me as we passed a crop of this year’s debutantes, all of whom my father had thrown in my path at one time or another. “I bet you’ve forgotten.”
Guilty as charged, I winced, stiffened. I had forgotten. It was hard to believe that Ingrid and I had been lovers for two years. Already, the media had us engaged, dogging our steps waiting for the big announcement. She was intelligent, gorgeous, and good in bed, but there was just that something missing. Surely, a man my age shouldn’t believe in romance or soul mates. Father constantly reminded me that at twenty-six, he’d had a wife and an heir. Three years later, my sister had been born. Therefore, as Heir Apparent, I should have a devoted spouse and offspring by now. Yes, the King of Desjardins littered my path with nubile young maidens, but much to his dismay, I had Ingrid, and no one else appealed to me quite the way she did. Until now, when her very presence annoyed me.
At each island of guests, we halted for the obligatory brief conversation. I’d far prefer to be hand-carrying the embassy documents to America or arguing world politics with my sister. In an unwavering path, I guided Ingrid toward a quiet alcove that was my favorite hiding place. Didn’t they say you could hide in plain sight? If only I could ditch Ingrid and the Spring Ball for a precious moment of solitude, I’d decipher these strange longings, but I owed a duty to the people of my country—even if that duty is merely to be seen in a tuxedo.
Frowning, Ingrid tugged me to a halt. “Are you ill? You’re very quiet.”
I gave her a quick one-armed hug and darted a kiss to her cheek. “I’m fine.”
“Eugenie upstaged us on the front page of the Mirror today.” She squeezed my arm to the side of her breast, presumably to recapture my wandering attention. “They caught her leaving her Paris flat in dark glasses with a scarf tied around her head. She looked like a 50s film star.”
“My sister can have the front page,” I said with a wry smile. “She hates the spotlight. That’s why she escaped. She’d enjoyed all of the media she could stand.”
“Ha!” Ingrid laughed. “I thought she liked to make waves.”
“She merely wants her freedom.” I flung a gesture encompassing the ballroom, the guests, and all the trappings. “From all this.”
“Sometimes, Prince Alexander Abelard Philippe Leandres, you sound like you want to escape…” She imitated my gesture, her gaze gliding around the faces turned our way. “Would you?”
“Careful, Ingrid, you speak treason,” I joked with an edge to my voice. “You’d be subject to public execution.”
“You are in a mood this evening.” She frowned, shaking her head, then smiled as we passed a visiting dignitary.
I had to give it to Ingrid. The woman could turn on the charm. I think she prided herself on being a lady—which she was not—another bone of contention with the King. I turned my head to look at her, really look at her, from a point of detachment as some stranger might. What I saw was a beautiful woman. She tilted her head and met my gaze. Her pale blue eyes were mirrors in which I saw my reflection. I couldn’t see past the façade she showed the world. Regret squeezed my heart. I knew that, like Ingrid, my eyes, too, were mirrors. I’d never allowed this beautiful woman to touch me deeper than the skin, nor had she let me pierce her ice-cool barriers. In essence, we were strangers. I wanted more than that. I needed to share myself with someone who’d risk loving me.
By way of introduction, Ms. Smith has agreed to a short interview, then we’ll dive into her post-apocalyptic science fiction with If Darkness Takes Us. Very intriguing title!
So, stay tuned. The author will be awarding a $50 Amazon or B/N Gift Card via Rafflecoptor (random drawing) during the tour.
What is your greatest temptation:
In food: Barbecue pork ribs. So bad for me, but so delicious. Luckily, I don’t have access to them very often.
In clothes: Flamboyant blouses with artistic designs.
What is your greatest weakness (example: buying shoes)?
Buying gifts for my family and friends, especially for Christmas, and almost any cocktail with tequila in it.
If you could have any kind of car, what would it be?
An electric blue Tesla Model Y – a bit sporty but also practical, and it would make me happy to create less pollution in the world.
Your dream home – mountains or ocean?
If I have to pick one of the two, it would be the ocean. But I’m a fan of low, rolling hills, and even the plains with their spectacular skies.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I’m not actually sure what inspired me, but I have wanted to be a writer ever since I wrote my first story as a six-year-old. Something just burns inside me so that I have to tell stories, and it’s most fulfilling if they are stories that I’ve invented myself.
Do you have a daily writing routine? If so, please share.
I don’t actually sit down to put words on paper every day—I work part-time doing accounting and income taxes, and it also takes a lot of time to market books. But I do think about my stories pretty much constantly, and for me, thinking is the most important part of writing. On the days that I do write, I usually start around noon and write until 6:30, when I stop to eat dinner and spend time with my husband. He goes to bed early because he has to get up at 4:00 a.m., so I often write more after he goes to bed. I have to stop a few hours before bedtime, or I will never get to sleep.
What is your favorite book?
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, is my favorite, but there are so many other excellent books that I love: Cider House Rules, by John Irving; A Constant Gardener, by John LeCarré; Beloved, by Toni Morrison, and dozens more.
What is your favorite movie?
Cold Mountain, based on the book by Charles Frazier, is very high on the list, but also: The Sixth Sense, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, On the Beach (the Gregory Peck version), Mystic River, and dozens of apocalyptic movies, the best of which by far is The Road, based on the Cormac McCarthy novel.
Who is your favorite historical figure?
Mahatma Gandhi, for his courage and his love of justice and for coming up with a nonviolent means of accomplishing his peace and justice goals.
If you were given the opportunity to spend a day with any person, living or dead, who would it be?
My parents, who passed on in 2001. I have so much I want to ask them.
Who is your favorite heroine and please introduce her?
In If Darkness Takes Us, my favorite heroine is the protagonist, Bea Crenshaw. She’s almost seventy and has been worried about environmental collapse. When she inherited two million dollars, she hid it from her family and bought the house behind hers, which she filled with food, seed, water, and survival gear. A solar pulse destroys modern life while she’s alone with her four grandkids, and their parents don’t return home. Bea has to teach the kids to survive without power, phones, cars, or running water. She’s whip-smart, funny, and too controlling, but she is fierce about protecting her grandchildren and teaching them to live with love and grace in an altered world. I could only hope that I would be half as heroic if I were to find myself in Bea’s situation.
In your books, who is your favorite hero and please introduce him?
In If the Light Escapes, the protagonist hero is Keno Simms, Bea’s 18-year-old grandson. He’s a young man who loves his grandmother and the rest of his family mightily and will do what has to be done to protect them. He wears his heart on his sleeve and is under immense pressure to become a man in the face of an apocalypse with all its dangers. He lifts me up with his heroism, and he makes me ache for him.
Would you date your favorite hero/heroine?
No, dating Bea would be too much like dating myself. And Keno is fifty years younger than I am. He’s like a grandson to me, so no. Now, if I were a teenage girl who didn’t create Keno as a character, then absolutely. And there is an old man in both books that I would date, Jack Jeffers, who is based on my stellar husband. Also, in my first novel, Something Radiates, a paranormal thriller, I would totally date the hunky carpenter, Johnny Trahan. He is based on a younger version of my husband.
New releases anytime soon?
If the Light Escapes is a standalone sequel to If Darkness Takes Us, and will be published by SFK Press on August 24, 2021. It will go up for pre-order on Amazon by early August.
Thank you for hosting me and my books on your blog. It’s much appreciated. – **You are most welcome, and best wishes with your new novel!!**
GENRE: post-apocalyptic science-fiction
In suburban Austin, Texas, Bea Crenshaw secretly prepares for apocalypse, but when a solar pulse destroys modern life, she’s left alone with four grandkids whose parents don’t return home. She must teach these kids to survive without power, cars, phones, running water, or doctors in a world fraught with increasing danger. And deciding whether or not to share food with her starving neighbors puts her morality to the test.
If Darkness Takes Us is realistic post-apocalyptic science-fiction that focuses on a family in peril, led by a no-nonsense grandmother who is at once funny, controlling, and heroic in her struggle to hold her family together with civility and heart.
The book is available now. It’s sequel, If the Light Escapes, is told in the voice of Bea’s eighteen-year-old grandson, Keno Simms, and will be released by SFK Press on August 24, 2021.
“Bea Crenshaw is one of the most unique characters in modern literature—a kick-ass Grandma who is at once tough and vulnerable, and well-prepared to shepherd her extended family through an EMP disaster, or so she thinks.”
—Laura Creedle, Award-winning Author of The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily
“There is real, identifiable humanity, subtle and sweet and sad, and events utterly shattering in their intensity.”
—Pinckney Benedict, Author of Dogs of God, Miracle Boy, and more
No matter how desperately a mother loves you, she can only put up with so much. And so, the day came when Mother Nature lashed out against us.
I understood where Nature was coming from. My family never listened to me either, which is why I didn’t tell them about the guns I’d bought.
The whole thing started with the train wreck.
On a Friday in early October, the young adults in my family went to the Oklahoma-Texas game up in Dallas—a big football rivalry around here. They dragged my husband, Hank the Crank, along with them, leaving me in South Austin with my grandchildren.
At the time, I was glad to see Hank go. He’d been making me crazy since he retired: hovering like a gnat; micromanaging my coffee-making; griping at me for reading instead of waiting attentively for him to spout something terse. Lord, I needed a break from that man. The three-day trip to Dallas seemed perfect.
I wasn’t a built-in-babysitter type of grandma, and I only saw my four grandkids together as a group on birthdays and holidays. For weeks I’d been excited about spending a long weekend alone with them.
A cruel trick sometimes, getting what you ask for.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Brenda Marie Smith lived off the grid for many years in a farming collective where her sons were delivered by midwives. She’s been a community activist, managed student housing co-ops, produced concerts to raise money for causes, done massive quantities of bookkeeping, and raised a small herd of teenage boys.
Brenda is attracted to stories where everyday characters transcend their own limitations to find their inner heroism. She and her husband reside in a grid-connected, solar-powered home in South Austin, Texas. They have more grown kids and grandkids than they can count.
Her first novel, Something Radiates, is a paranormal romantic thriller; If Darkness Takes Us and its sequel, If the Light Escapes, are post-apocalyptic science fiction.
I’m so excited and immensely humbled that I get to share The Inventor’s Heart with y’all. This story was truly a labor of love.
My heroine, Julia Forrester, is dyslexic. Now, the book takes place in 1885, so they didn’t call it that back then. A doctor in Germany termed it “word blindness”.
I’m a special education teacher, and Julia’s story is very dear to my heart. Her feelings of uselessness, of embarrassment, etc., are what my students battle every day. I shed tears while writing this book, let me tell you.
As luck would have it, sweet Julia is in love with the town genius, Alex Davis. But when she realizes he loves her in return, she gets scared. She feels her academic weaknesses would be a burden to him and rejects his proposal. Which causes Alex to take on the fight of his life, proving to Julia that she is, in fact, quite brilliant.
This was the book I was writing when my publisher went out of business a year ago.
You can imagine the sadness I felt, as Alex and Julia’s story is VERY important to me. I wanted this one in the hands of readers so badly. But now, I didn’t know what to do…
I wondered if I should keep writing.
I agonized over it, because I wasn’t sure if I could publish a book on my own. And, quite frankly, I wasn’t sure if I was even doing the right thing. Writing takes time. As does publishing. Then marketing…well…that job never stops. I also had my day job to contend with, which can be pretty demanding. And writing takes time away from my family.
So, I wondered if it was all worth it.
And then, about one month after my publisher went out of business, something happened…
My fabulous editor sent me the following message:
“I wanted to thank you. I’ve struggled with reading all my life and your book got me to thinking about color again. I discovered I can actually change the color of the page in Word. I finally figured out a way to make editing easier for me. But it helps with my writing, as well. I actually look forward to writing now!”
My joy was immense, let me tell you. I mean, I have tears now reading this. Goodness! So…her message sealed it for me. I was going to figure out how to self-publish come Hell or high water.
Pike’s Run, Texas, 1885
Alex Davis has just returned to Pike’s Run, Texas, from Yale with a fabulous invention that could revolutionize the use of electricity. He can’t wait to show his work to his family and his dearest friend in the world, Julia Forrester. But from the first day he arrives home, Julia avoids him. He doesn’t understand and tries everything he can think of to spend time with her, but he fails.
Julia Forrester has loved Alex Davis since their school days. He was her confidante and her champion whenever she struggled with her studies. She helped him with his inventions, spending as many of her free hours as possible with him. She’d thought he’d loved her, but when he went off to college without her, her heart broke. And the infrequency of his letters proved his feelings didn’t match hers. Now that he has returned, she is determined to move on with her life. She has written a symphony, and she won’t let past hopes and dreams overtake her again.
But Alex won’t give up, and when Julia confesses the reason for her distant attitude, the “Genius of Pike’s Run” realizes his stupidity. He is in love with Julia and will now move Heaven and Earth to have her. But he is battling more than her distrust. Julia has another reason to keep away from Alex, and he sets out to fix it. Will the “genius” be able to prove his theory?
“You don’t want to stay here with me? Why?” Alex tried to calm his rising anger, but hurt at her obvious want to escape him overruled his will. “You prefer to be caught under the mistletoe and kissed by every fellow in town?”
Julia reared back. “I want no such thing!” she declared, trying to tug her hand free of his.
He would not let go. “Could’ve fooled me. Fitzsimmons practically had you off your feet. And Hollister is married and lingered entirely too long when he grabbed you.”
With force, she tried to yank free, but he was having none of it.
“It’s just a game,” she argued with a scowl. “I didn’t plan it, and I can’t control how any of the men kiss me.” She lifted her chin. “Besides, it’s all in good fun.”
Fun? Every embrace had torn him inside out. “None of them should have touched you. You’re my friend.”
“What does that mean?” she asked, her voice rising. “I belong to you?”
He almost shouted the affirmative, but he controlled the overwhelming feeling of possession. Instead, he kept quiet, not knowing how to explain his statement.
“You’ve been gone for five years, and I have other friends. Am I supposed to sit on a shelf waiting for you to come home?” She glared up at him.
Was she considering stepping out with someone? Jealousy roared inside him. “You think another man is better for you than me?”
“Emmet might have swept me off my feet, but at least he paid attention to me, at least he seemed to be interested in me, at least—”
Unable to take her compliments of another man a second longer, he yanked her forward and slammed his lips on hers. As desire engulfed him, he plundered her mouth, snaking an arm around her waist and pulling her up against him.
She moaned, and the sound spurred him on. He shoved his tongue inside, demanding she open for him, needing to prove that he was the man she wanted. He turned her and shoved her up against the wall, and she let out a whimper as she ran her fingers through his hair.
A shudder went through him, and he drank from her, never wanting to let her go. How had he not understood that her arms were his safe place? Why hadn’t he ever realized his best friend could set him on fire? His heart pounded hard, echoing in his ears and making him sing with life.
Born and raised in Texas, I had to make the state the setting for my first series. From the food to the fun, like floating the rivers, it is the fire in my blood that inspires me. My family and friends take center stage in my books. My sisters and best friends are my heroines, and my husband created my favorite hero. Love and family are the point of my stories, and I seek to entertain, relieve stress, and inspire people. Books can take one on a journey that one can relive over and over. I am extremely grateful to those authors who did that very thing for me. I learned and I fell in love with their words and characters. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Will coming home be a mistake or a new beginning for them both?
Five years earlier, Emily Bennett ran out on Chase Michaels on the eve of their wedding. At twenty-two, she wanted more than the island of Last Chance Beach could offer. Intent on making a name for herself as a world-class journalist, she left to take a job with a big city newspaper.
Heartbroken, Chase left Last Chance Beach and joined the Coast Guard in an effort to rebuild his life. Returning four years later for a family emergency, he decided to stay and go into business with his best friend.
Emily’s returning as well. Not as the journalist she’d hoped to be but as a bestselling romance author. One of her books is about to be made into a movie, and filming will take place on Last Chance Beach and in the nearby town of Summerville.
Will Emily’s return give them a second chance at the love they once shared? Or, will her ‘other’ reason for leaving put a wedge between three best friends that can’t be healed by time or intention?
Pick-a-Read Bookstore, Boston, MA
Emily Bennett took a seat behind the cloth-covered table and waited for her publicist and good friend Mary to give her standard introduction. No matter how many of these events she’d done, to Emily they were never routine. Nervously, she adjusted and readjusted the angle of the ink pens and candy dish and fanned the bookmarks and other swag out across the tabletop.
Mary tapped the microphone, waited for the echo to stop, and then began, “Thank you all for coming to today’s book promotion event. Author E.M. Stephens will be here for the next two-and-a-half hours, and happy to sign copies of her New York Times bestseller, Love in the Surf, as well as early copies of her newest release, A Bad Boy for Willa.” Mary paused, then added, “For those who haven’t yet heard, Love in the Surf has been optioned for a movie and will begin filming within the next month.” Beaming proudly, Mary turned in her direction. “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the romantically gifted, E.M. Stephens.”
The queue of fans bent around the front of the bookstore and out into the mall, with tables set up inside the entryway and books stacked in piles of twelve. One-by-one, the towers of both books diminished quickly.
Two hours in, less than a dozen people remained in line. Emily’s hand was beginning to cramp, but she forced a renewed smile to her lips and raised her gaze to the young man who stood in front of her.
“Is there a name for an inscription?”
“Eileen, please.” He flashed her a smile. “It’s for my mom. She’s a big fan.”
Emily wrote a short note and signed her name. “Tell your mother ‘thank you’ for me.”
“I will,” he assured her before moving on.
Emily repeated the smile and sign process over and over again until—finally—the line was gone.
Mary gathered up the remaining bookmarks, empty candy dish, and a half dozen pens before leading the way to the back of the bookstore and into a small private room. The moment the door closed behind them, Emily released a long sigh and reached for the mid-length blonde wig that had been driving her crazy for the past hour, releasing her long brown hair to hang freely across her shoulders.
A quick change out of her bright red blouse, tight black leggings, and fancy rhinestone hoop earrings, and back into her faded jeans and vintage T-shirt had her feeling more like Emily, and less like her alter ego, E.M. Stephens.
“I don’t know about you, sweetie,” Mary said, a long sigh escaping, “But I could use a greasy burger, with an onion ring and frosty beer chaser. Why don’t we get out of here and go someplace dark and inconspicuous and kick back for a while?”
“As much as the idea appeals to me, I’ve got to finish packing and then load the car. I’m hoping to be on the road by six in the morning, if possible.”
“I don’t understand why you’re driving all the way to Last Chance Beach. Why not fly into the closest airport and rent a car?”
She gave a quick shake of her head. “I’ve got too much stuff to drag with me. Besides, the drive will give me two days and a night to get my story straight and figure out how to explain everything to my parents.”
“I still can’t believe you never told your parents about your books. With all the success you’ve had, you’d think bragging rights alone would have prompted the discussion.”
“I grew up on Last Chance Beach before it became a tourist magnet. I went to high school on the mainland where they still do farmer’s markets and county fairs. It was bad enough I left under less than stellar circumstances. I’ve never been ready to explain why I gave up on a career as a serious journalist to write romance novels.”
Mary’s grin was followed by a very unladylike snort. “For the money, sweetie. The glitz, the glamor and the chance for a huge movie deal.”
Emily flexed her sore hand. Opening the door, she stepped back out into the store, totally unrecognizable to her adoring fans. “Glitz and glamor? Not according to my impending carpal tunnel.”
NANCY FRASER—Jumping Across Romance Genres with Gleeful Abandon—is an Amazon Top 100 and Award-Winning author who can’t seem to decide which romance genre suits her best. So, she writes them all.
Nancy has published over forty books in full-length, novella, and short format. When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five wonderful grandchildren and looks forward to traveling and reading when time permits. Nancy lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.
Fellow PFS author Toni V. Sweeney recommended that I send a book to Readict. They accepted it, and now it’s live I found out this week. I never saw the cover until I looked on the app, but even though it isn’t 100% accurate, it is a good cover. I’ll share it below.
Royal Secrets is a contemporary romance about a young woman who visits Desjardins (a small but elegant European principality–think Monaco) as the guest of the daughter of the new US Ambassador to that country. She has long had a crush on the handsome young Prince of Desjardins. Prince Alexander, Heir Apparent to the throne, is everything a Prince Charming should be. The story involves their struggles to keep their love alive during opposition from almost every quarter.
Readict is an on-line reading app you must install before you can begin reading tons of different romance genres. You…
Lexi Buckley wants answers about her younger sister’s death. The police have labeled it a suicide, but Lexi doesn’t believe it. Stymied in her investigation, she doesn’t know where to turn next. After a chance encounter with a private investigator, she thinks her prayers have been answered.
Aiden Keane has never been an answer to a prayer before, but he agrees to help Lexi. A quirky combo of brains and beauty, the pixie blonde makes him feel things no professional ever should for a client.
When their investigation puts Lexi’s life in jeopardy, her safety becomes his number one priority. The hard part is not falling for her.
Were you close with your sister?” Aiden asked.
Not the way we should have been. Not at the end.
“We had a sizable age difference between us. Almost ten years. I was the big sis. The oldest.” Her lips trembled when she pulled them into a sad line. Rolling her eyes she added, “The bossy one, according to her. She was the baby and took full advantage of her status from the moment she realized it.”
“And rightly so.” The corners of his eyes crinkled. “I’m the youngest of my brothers and I’ll can tell you with one hundred percent honesty, my oldest brother is the bossiest one of us. I think it comes with birth order. Although he takes his so called right uber-seriously. Especially at work.”
This time her grin was steadier. “What kind of business do you all own together?”
“We a run a private security company.”
“Personal bodyguards, if a client needs protection from something. Background checks for employers. Mostly we do investigations.”
“What, like private eyes? Like on television?”
He laughed. “Nothing so glamorous. The fast cars and hot babes are all fantasy. It’s a lot of boring research, computer work, and surveillance, but yeah, you could say I’m a private eye.”
Lexi’s entire mood turned on his words. The sorrow flew, the hurt dissolved. Even her nervous trivia-speak went dormant. She sat bolt upright, her knees bumping against the tabletop when she shifted. Excitement shot from her system as she turned her body, placed a hand across his forearm and declared, “Oh, my God. You’re the answer to my prayers.”
It’s been five years since William Barrett returned to Dickens to take over as CEO of Wil-Bar Toys. He’s spent these past years helping build Wil-Bar into a leader in creative, handmade toys. His work ethic and drive has left him little time for a personal life. Or, perhaps he’s still pining for the one who got away.
Catherine Gates moved away from Dickens six years earlier. Now a staff reporter for a woman’s magazine, she’s returning to Dickens to do a story on Wil-Bar Toys new production methods and get the scoop on their upcoming holiday line.
When Will and Cat meet up again for the first time in years, it’s as if they’ve never been apart. Rekindling their friendship, and attraction, becomes more important than Cat’s article, or even the secrecy of the new toy lines.
Can these two childhood friends make up for lost time and pursue the romance they missed out on years earlier? Or, will Cat’s story expose too much and put them at odds with one another?
Tagline: Will their first meeting in six years be all business? Or, can they make up for lost time?
Wil-Bar Toy Factory
“Isn’t it a bit early for Christmas carols?” William asked, motioning skyward where the factory speakers were blaring a string of both classical and modern holiday songs. “If we don’t vary it every once-in-awhile, I’m going to end up ripping the wires out of the ceiling.”
His father shot him a pained look. “Is it ever too early for Christmas music in a toy factory where we spend every working hour up until the beginning of December getting ready for the rush?” Waving his hand dismissively overhead, Wilfred Barrett added, “Besides, it keeps the production line moving like clockwork.”
“How’s the new head of design working out? What’s his name? Gibson?” Will asked.
“Ted Gibson. He’s got some great ideas for sure. Including inviting that magazine editor to send someone to write an article on our new state-of-the-art assembly line.”
“Somehow I don’t picture an article in a woman’s magazine doing justice to the mechanics involved in creating toys like our latest designs.”
Giving a shrug, Wilfred admitted, “It can’t hurt. Besides, it’s women who do most of the buying, especially for the children. If the article can convince these mothers that our toys are safe and won’t come apart with one day of rough play, then it’s as much as we can hope for, I suppose.” Pushing aside the ledger in front of him, he added, “I’d like you to be the one to give them the tour.”
“Why me? Let Gibson do it. After all, it was his idea. Or, you do it—it’s your company, after all. I’d much rather keep my focus on these sales and shipping projections.”
“You’re the new face of Wil-Bar Toys, son. The younger—what’s the term—hip version of a toymaker. Not that I don’t still love it, but these young mothers would much rather see your picture accompanying the article than mine.”
“Ted’s young too. And, if the women crowding around the watercooler are to be believed, quite a catch.”
His father leaned back in his chair, a sure sign the discussion was coming to an end, his decision made. “The magazine is sending one of their staff writers to do the interview. She’ll be here day-after-tomorrow.”
Will turned toward the door to his father’s office. “I feel the flu coming on,” he groused. “I may have to call in sick.”
“You might be a grown man, but I’m sure your mother would love to have you home all day long,” his dad quickly pointed out, a grin lighting his face. “She can stuff you with chicken noodle soup and fuss over you to her heart’s content.”
“You can be downright mean when you want to be, Pops” Will said, chuckling. “No doubt, you’d suggest she read to me too.”
NANCY FRASER—Jumping Across Romance Genres with Gleeful Abandon—is an Amazon Top 100 and Award-Winning author who can’t seem to decide which romance genre suits her best. So, she writes them all.
When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five wonderful grandchildren and looks forward to traveling and reading when time permits. Nancy lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.
If you’re looking to be spoon fed knowledge about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, look elsewhere. (Yes, they do touch on other cryptocurrencies). But if you’re looking for a clever, entertaining read, and information presented in a way that doesn’t have you saying, “this is over my head”, Smart Bitches is it. I’m not saying you won’t learn from this book. You will. I don’t know enough about Bitcoin to invest in it yet, but this book gave me enough information to whet my appetite and encourage me to dig deeper. One thing I did learn:- To consider Bitcoin when, at the beginning, I’d thought it was an investment game for the very wealthy.
The authors’ witty presentation of dry facts keeps you turning the page. It doesn’t immediately put you off with huge, industry specific words that might daunt the uninitiated (like this reader), or put you to sleep in your recliner. If someone says ‘bitcoin’ now, at least I know what they’re talking about!
Where will you store your Bitcoin? They give you the alternatives.
A quick, fun, and illuminating read.
This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Branden LaNette will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
It seems like everyone’s talking about Bitcoin these days. Still, a lot of people just don’t get it. Or they assume Bitcoin is just for tech-savvy millennial guys or rich investors like Elon Musk.
As for women, many of us didn’t get a great financial education. Some of us shy away from conversations about money and investing especially if it has to do with the crazy world of cryptocurrencies.
What to do? Start with this brand new short, fun, and easy read,”Smart Bitches Buy Bitcoin: A Simple Guide for Women Who Want to Learn the Truth About Bitcoin and Control Their Financial Future.”
The book is designed to help women understand the current financial situation, why Bitcoin could be the life raft they need, and how to get started investing in it. Don’t leave your economic future to chance just because it seems scary or confusing and this is the perfect book to get you started.
Read an Excerpt
Recently, at the annual gathering of the world’s elite in Davos, Switzerland (attendees included 119 billionaires, 53 heads of state, plus Shakira and Matt Damon), hedge fund manager Ray Dalio told the group, “Cash is trash. Get out of cash.” He went on to say that people who got stuck holding cash were going to feel stupid.
No one blinked. They’re the global elite, they already knew this was the case.
So where should you put your cash? Well, we know where not to put it, and that’s in the stock market.
The stock market isn’t a bubble that’s going to pop, it’s a super-bubble that’s going to eventually explode.
So, where do we think you should put your money? Anywhere that isn’t in cash, and anywhere that isn’t in stocks, that’s for sure.
What does that leave?
Well, there’s commodities. Like oil. And soybeans. Natural gas. Corn. Wheat. Cattle. Hogs. Lucky Charms. Whatever. And precious metals, of course: gold, silver, platinum, copper, etc.
All these things have a chance at growth, while the experts say cash is certain to drop in value. But do you know what is way better than all of them?
Yeah, you guessed it. Bitcoin.
About the Author:
Branden LaNette doesn’t look like a typical author but she has long ignored what she “should” do, say and look like. On her own at a very young age, Branden eventually found herself with the wrong guy, the wrong job, and a bleak future. The fairytale she was promised as a child never materialized.
Finally, Branden decided that she wanted something different for her life, and realized no one was going to do it for her. Prince charming wasn’t coming to save her—she’d have to save herself.
Step by step, decision by decision, through major trials and tribulations that would stop most people in their tracks, Branden learned how to turn heartbreak into happiness and self-judgement into inner joy.
Today, Branden LaNette is an entrepreneur, coach, speaker, wife, and stay-at-home Mom to six C-section babies (ages 1-16) and way too many f-ing pets. Somehow, however, she manages to juggle all of this effortlessly (a blatant lie) while pushing her way through the kinds of fear and self-doubts that whisper within all of us (totally true) to achieve her goals. Her most recent dream come true is this book, one that is destined to have a major impact on millions of women across the globe (or at least nine people in Michigan.)
Through it all, she has found her happiness, her joy, and more importantly, her voice.
This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions.
M.K. Scott will be awarding a $40 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
The future of Cupid’s Catering Company hangs in the balance. With a rival bakery, owned by the queen of all mean, rich girls, Della is at a distinct disadvantage.
Della hinges her financial future on winning the local truffle contest. As if there wasn’t enough on her mind, additional problems arise, including missing cats, jewel thieves, and her desperate attempt to find the incredibly kind man who’d lent her hand when she had tire trouble.
Can she solve all these problems and find time to whip up a cookbook at the same time?
Read an Excerpt
Donning rubber gloves, Della tackled the dirty dishes, indulging in an impromptu trip down memory lane. Even though it was more than a decade ago, every now and then, the memories of not quite fitting in no matter what she did came back. Her school broke down into cliques with the predominant ones being jocks, popular kids, and the hipsters, plus everyone else that didn’t merit a label. As for the jocks, their name said it all while the popular kids were a little harder to define. Sure, it was easy to know who they were, but what made them popular was difficult to pinpoint. Most came from powerful, affluent families that usually had a member on the school board. This often translated into starring roles in the school play or being on the first string in athletics.
Thanks to a cyber security assembly in middle school at which her father presented the other students knew her father as that cop. It resulted in Della getting the side-eye now and then, especially if other students happened to be talking about underage parties. Every party that was busted somehow got laid on Della’s doorstep. Never mind the fact her detective father didn’t take noise complaints associated with teen parties. They assumed she told. Not sure how they came to that conclusion, when she’d never been invited. Not once did the partiers ever consider that deafening music, the abundance of cars, and raucous behavior might have resulted in irate neighbors calling the police.
Some kids might have let it go, but not Lacey. Just her name had Della gritting her teeth. Small town life had its share of mean girls who aged into entitled, mean women. Lacey had to be the queen of them all. For most, being beautiful, wealthy, and the topic of most conversations would be enough. Even with everyone treating the woman like royalty, Della could tolerate it if her royal meanness stayed far, far away.
That was why a woman’s condescending tone reaching into the kitchen and might as well pinched Della. “Oh, how quaint!”
Her head jerked up, and the pan slipped from her fingers. A shiver raced up her spine. No, it couldn’t be. Better check it to be sure. There had to more than one snotty female in town. Her athletic shoes allowed her to creep across the kitchen floor without making a sound. Whoever was out there would say something else, dispelling the possibility it was Lacey. Why would Lacey even visit her modest bakery?
About the Author: M. K. Scott is the husband and wife writing team behind The Painted Lady Inn Mysteries and The Talking Dog Detective Agency. Morgan K Wyatt is the general wordsmith, while her husband, Scott, is the grammar hammer and physics specialist. He uses his engineering skills to explain how fast a body falls when pushed over a cliff and various other felonious activities. The Internet and experts in the field provide forensic information, while the recipes and B and B details require a more hands-on approach. Morgan’s daughter, who manages a hotel, provides guest horror stories to fuel the plot lines. The couple’s dog, Chance, is the inspiration behind Jasper, Donna’s dog. Overall, both are fun series to create and read.