Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wednesday First Page - Rain Trueax and Arizona Sunset

A new feature on the blog that I hope will become a regular feature is what I call a First Look, where I showcase an author's first page of their book or a favorite scene. First up is Rain Trueax, with her newest book Arizona Sunset, which will release on August 31st.

Tucson, Arizona Territory-- June 1883

            She leaned against the wood frame door, arms crossed over her chest, watching dust devils whirling up the street. The faint breeze that had kicked up the spinning spirals did nothing to cool her skin. The sun blazed down with an intensity that seemed to suck the life from all living things. She shifted her gaze to the distant mountains, a hazy purple, their outlines jagged against the intense blue of the sky. Somewhere up there, they said it was cool. She’d have to take their word for it as her world allowed for no such escapes.
            In the office behind her, the uneven clicking of Martin Matthew’s typewriter told her he was struggling with the report for her father. Loud voices carried up the street from one of the string of saloons that began at the corner of Congress and Meyer Streets. Apparently, she thought with a cross between amusement and disapproval, there were a few activities that weren't affected by heat.
A woman’s voice rang out with joy—most likely coming from one of the bawdy establishments north of Congress, the Tenderloin, which no gentle woman was supposed to know existed. As to why it was called by such an odd name she could only speculate because she could never ask anyone apt to know.
            Farther away she heard the steady beat of a blacksmith's hammer, a horse's nicker. A heavily loaded wagon lumbered past, accompanied by the clip clop of hooves, muffled curses of the driver, and squeak of the springs. The heat put man and beast in a foul mood… well, except for those in the Tenderloin.
            "Abigail, I could use help on this," came Martin's whine. She moved farther onto the boardwalk. Holding her dress away from her skin, she wished for the hundredth time since April that she could wear the loose cotton blouses and skirts of the Mexican women. At this time of day, they would be down along the Santa Cruz, their colorful laundry stretched across bushes to dry while they chattered and enjoyed the shade of big, overhanging cottonwoods.
            Changing one’s station in life, however, was not an option. She sighed. A woman was born where she was; and from that time on, important decisions were taken from her control. She either washed clothing along a river bank or she wore clothing ill suited to the climate. Little of it mattered what the woman wanted.
            Martin’s complaints penetrated her thoughts. Why on god’s green earth, not that there was much of that in this land, was it a threat to his manhood for her to dare to go outside for a few moments?
            She heard his chair squeak as he rose from it. She waited. “What are you doing out here?” he protested as he squinted at her against the glare of the sun.
            "Nothing, Martin. Absolutely nothing."
            "You should come inside."
            “It’s not cooler inside.”
“Abigail, ladies do not stand on boardwalks.”
“How do you know that?”
When he had no answer for her, his irritation grew and turned his face pinker. It wasn’t as though she should blame him for what he was. He was doing what was written out for him also. She wondered if he thought he was going to be able to grow a full beard and mustache. The scanty effort on his face seemed rather sad. Was he fond of those starched shirts, tidy ties. Perhaps he was as trapped as she. Did he even think of such things?
Despite what she knew had to be a mutual lack of attraction between them, she had begun to believe he was the man her father hoped she would marry whenever he, instead of hinting, got around to doing something about it. Of course, she would be expected to approve the convenient arrangement.
She knew she was not a pretty woman. Beyond marriageable age, she had no prospects to change that. The fact that she wanted no prospects was beside the point. She had spent her twenty-five years obeying her father’s dictates; and with such a opportune marriage, she could continue to take care of him, merely adding a husband and any children that might be immaculately conceived.
She was determined that there would be no marriage-- not to Martin Matthews, nor any demanding, unappreciative male creature. She didn't know how she would escape the trap that had sprung closed on her long deceased mother and, so far as she could tell, the spirits of all women; but she would find a way.
            Martin’s eyes reflected nervousness as he glanced down the street and back at her. "I must insist you come into the office.”
            She smiled, raising her eyebrows. "No."
            He glared. "I cannot accept that, Abigail."
            "I don’t see what you can do… other than tell on me."
            He opened his mouth like a fish; then shut it. She expected more arguments, but he swung on his heels and headed into the office, the footsteps not stopping at the front desk, but heading for her father's inner sanctum. She almost laughed. He was going to do it. He was going to tell on her.
            She turned her gaze to the street where she noticed for the first time men coming out of the Pedrales Bar. They were roughly garbed, laughing, their boisterous voices and crude words carrying on the heavy air.
            If she hadn't known that to go into the office now would make Martin believe he had won, she might have ducked inside when she saw several of the men mount their horses and wheel them up the street, a route that would take them past her.
A tall man, garbed in black, strode from the cantina, cast a last laughing comment behind him, and gave a quick running leap to vault into his saddle. The whole movement had been like that of a big cat. She found her attention held by the grace of the man's seat on a large black horse that showed its spirit by rearing up, then settling down under a sure hand on the reins.
            In seconds the man had wheeled his horse and was heading up the street at a fast canter. Abigail pressed herself against the wall. She could not explain the mix of emotions-- repulsion and fascination-- in equal parts. She didn’t turn her gaze away even when she saw his head turn toward her. He wouldn't see her, wouldn't notice a mousy woman like her even if he had, but she felt a sudden fear.
A heavy gun belt hung on his hip, slung low. That gun identified him as clearly as her own plain, gray cotton dress and tightly bound hair would identify her. He was a gunman; she was a spinster.
            Startled, she saw him wheel his horse to a sudden halt in the street in front of her.  Good Lord. His black shirt was open almost to his waist and she saw through the opening a bare chest. Good god. She should look away but she couldn’t tear her eyes from him. He took his hat from his head, ran a muscular forearm across his forehead as he turned and looked straight at her. No gentleman would have done such a thing; he would’ve pretended not to see her. Not that she had any reason to suspect such a man to be a gentleman.
Their gazes met and then to her shock, he looked her up and down, giving her a clear view of an angular face. Beneath his bold stroke of a mustache and heavy beard, she could not tell if he was smiling. She sensed for one wild moment that he was considering coming toward her, saying something, but he settled his hat onto his head and kicked his horse into a gallop, leaving a cloud of dust and hundreds of tiny dust devils in his wake.
            In moments he was at the head of the other men. Like the pack of wolves they resembled, they raced, yelping for the outskirts of town, woe unto the human or beast in their way. She watched until the desert haze swallowed every sign that they had passed. Only then did she go into the office.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - Ain't No Angel

There were two things Jonas Monroe loved above all else - horses and Tyler’s mother. 
“A horse is like a woman, son. Treat them with a firm but gentle hand, respect them for who they are and see to their needs, and they pay you back with undying devotion.” His father’s words echoed in his mind. That had been Jonas’ favorite saying, up until Tyler was twelve years old. 
One fateful day changed all that, the day his mother left the ranch and didn’t return.  Jonas never uttered those words again. Instead, he would say, “Earn a horse’s respect and they will never betray your trust. Horses are all that matter, son. Don’t ever let anyone or anything, least of all a woman, come between you and the horses.”
For years, his father had hoped and waited for his wife to return. Slowly, he’d become an embittered man, and no matter how much Tyler coaxed him to rejuvenate his interest in the horses, his father slipped more and more inside himself. He’d changed from being a respected member of the community, a man of integrity and values, into someone to stay away from. Friends and neighbors avoided him because of his cantankerous behavior, and the running of the ranch soon fell solely on Tyler’s shoulders. Three years ago, he’d found his father dead in the barn, hung from the ceiling rafters. His father’s misery was all because of her . . .   
Tyler vowed he would never let that happen to him.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Guest Author Rain Trueax

 I'm excited to welcome historical romance author, Rain Trueax today! So glad you're here, Rain. Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.

My name is Rain Trueax. Most of my life has been lived back of beyond. Currently my home is on a small ranch in Oregon’s Coast Range where my husband and I raise cattle and sheep. We also have a vacation rental (which means we rarely get there) in Tucson AZ. I used to say my heart was divided by wanting to be in Oregon as well as Arizona. Now I have a third love in Montana and Wyoming.
Getting away even for a vacation can be tough when you raise livestock. I write, paint, sculpt, and consider photography one of my loves. Married almost 49 years, with two happily married, grown children, and four grandchildren, for the most part, I live the life I want. I enjoy writing as well as being able see my stories available for others to buy. When I turn 70 (in just over a month), I will be looking forward to the start of a new decade and new experiences.

 Why did you decide to write historical romances? What is the appeal?

I’d been writing a mix of contemporary and historical romances since my 20s. I like the historicals for the fun of doing research but also visualizing a world very different from my own. My first, a story of the Oregon Trail, was written when I was in my late teens, polished off and on through the years and will be out as both paperback and eBook in the spring of 2014. It’s the longest book I’ve ever written, and I still love the coming of age romance with the Oregon Trail as a metaphor for growth and its difficulties.
My recent release and first published historical, Arizona Sunset, is set in the mid-1880s and again has an underlying theme of  change and how do we bring that about. One thing I always like in my books is to tell an interesting story, a believable romance, but with a deeper message. That’s the fun of writing as well as the challenge and is true of contemporary stories as well as historical ones.

 How much research goes into your books, and how do you tackle that?

Because I have always loved history, especially of the settling of the United States, I generally know quite a bit about a region before I plot a story there. What I go looking for will be the little details like what kind of cloth they would have worn, food, medicines, tools, guns. I have an extensive collection of books on the American West. The Web is a wonderful place to get little, seemingly inconsequential facts, the ones that give grace notes to a story, making research a breeze in comparison to what it used to be.
Contemporary books also take research when I am writing a story about something like say adult ramifications of childhood abuse or cult groups. I am putting myself into a situation where I have not personally experienced. Memoirs and journals help a lot. I keep my stories to the American West—contemporary or historical. I also only set them in places I have lived or spent considerable time as to me the energy of place, how that impacts someone’s life, is a big part of any of my stories.

What is the best comment you ever received from a reader? The worst or weirdest?

My books haven’t really drawn a lot of comments, which I wish was otherwise, but whoever knows why readers are willing to take the time to leave their critique. My best one came from a man who said-- “"Desert Inferno" is not what I thought a Romance book would be like. Apparently there are different styles of them, which does make sense. I can't really call it a mystery as you know who the bad guy is early on but it is a great story to read about the characters involved and how they relate to each other. They are interesting, believable people and it is fun to read about how their relationships develop. Rain knows the desert country of Arizona and "paints" these places in words so the reader can form their mental image of the countryside. And there is plenty of action all through the story.”

 Tell us a little about your writing style? Do you plan and plot your stories, or do you just plow through them?

I know the outline of where a story will be going as I do a lot of trying out various plot ideas in my head before I ever touch a keyboard. By the time I start writing, I know these characters pretty well and their beginning goals (which as with life may be changed by circumstances). I am though the one in control and characters don’t take it over. What I find along the way are surprises that add to my enjoyment as scenes open up that I didn’t originally think about. So within the framework, the characters can influence new and better ways of getting to the end but they don’t change the end.

 Can you tell us a little about your current work, Arizona Sunset? Is there a story behind the story?

This book was written well over 20 years ago and came out of my thinking how it’d be for a woman in Arizona’s 1880s who wanted to do the right things but felt totally repressed. She hadn’t chosen her life and she didn’t see a way out. I would say the story behind it is how we can all be repressed in different ways, and it takes looking around for the options that might be there. Sometimes a culture or family put restrictions on us, but most of us have more choices than we often think. We just need to look for them and be prepared to pay the cost. Sometimes when we are on a well-worn path, it’s hard to take the flak from others when we decided to take a less traveled one to get where we most want to be.

Arizona Sunset will be out at Amazon in paperback and on Kindle on Saturday, August 31.

What sets your heroine, Abigail, apart from all the other women in your hero, Sam’s life? Why is she perfect for him?

She is the good woman and he’s never been close to such because of the life he has led. His beginnings were not totally unusual for his time but they were not conducive to any kind of normal family life—not even when he was a child. He has had a lot of expectations as to what his life would be like with a ‘good woman’ but finds he has to make some painful readjustments if he hopes to keep her with him.
Basically this is a story of two people who each had expectations for what it’d be like with someone on the ‘other’ side.

 Have you ever had writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

I don’t really get writer’s block because I can write so many different places; so if I’m not feeling it for a book, I switch to the blogs. Before I start a fiction story it might appear nothing is happening but it’s all in my head which makes the actual first draft go pretty fast.
I have started a few books to find they were going nowhere. It hasn’t happened a lot but when it does, I put them aside, try something else, and keep the partial in my mind for some future story or maybe just totally discard it.  I get more painter’s block than writer’s block.

 Can you give us a little background on your hero, Sam Ryker, that’s only in your author notes, and not found in your story? What inspired you to create this character?

Well, I guess the only thing I can think of here is that when I was doing regressions, which is a hypnotic approach to gaining access to past lives, I think he was in them. I do not necessarily believe such past-life story retrievals means there is reincarnation as it might be we are accessing something deep in our brain that is a accumulation of many images. Anyway some years after I had written the book, I met the man in real life and although he was a contemporary friend, his life experiences did generally resemble the basics of those lived out by Sam. What that all meant I have no idea but it does make me wonder from where a lot of our stories have come.

 Describe a favorite scene in your current novel?

I like a lot of them; but maybe when Abby is learning to milk a cow and Sam, in giving her instructions, is teasing as well as telling her something about his love making skills. The scene has humor, reality (yes, I’ve milked), and the kind of by-play between a man and woman that makes love not just romantic but fun.

 What else do you have in store for your readers?

Come November, a sequel to Arizona Sunset will come out. It’s titled Tucson Moon and will carry on some of the characters, reveal more about one family, and have its own love story.
Me, I’ll be writing on the fourth of the Oregon series, which is the one swirling around in my head right now. I’ve put off the writing, as I want a bit more research (traveling to the area where it’s set one more time). It is the continuing story of one family that headed for Oregon in 1852. This romance will be set after the Civil War and deal with the Indian Wars in the John Day region as well as a few other things going in a complex time in Oregon’s history.

Be sure to come back Wednesday, when Rain will share a First Page look at Arizona Sunset. 

My links:
Contemporary romances:  Desert Inferno, Bannister’s Way, Evening Star, Moon Dust, Second Chance, Hidden Pearl, Her Dark Angel, From Here to There, A Montana Christmas (a novella), Sky Daughter, and Luck of the Draw.  All books are based in the American West-- danger mixed with romance.
Historical romances: Arizona Sunset with Tucson Moon scheduled to come out in late November.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - Teton Sunset

Today's Teaser is from Teton Sunset....

A shrill yell pierced the air. What the hell? Was he under attack from some Indians after all? The Blackfoot didn’t winter in these mountains. Had some of them returned early? It seemed highly unlikely. Loud curse words that would rival the most hardened mountain man drifted through the woods. Definitely not Injuns. Using the cover of the trees, Lucas made his way silently toward whoever was making all that racket.
The loud rustling of leaves in the brush and predatory snarls reached his ears. Lucas threw caution to the wind and ran between the trees, his hand firmly gripping his knife. The vicious snapping of a jaw sent an unexpected wave of dread down his spine.  He’d heard that sound only once before, a long time ago when he was out hunting with his father and brother. He’d much rather tangle with a bear, or even a cougar, than the animal he knew with absolute certainty he would face any moment. Common sense told him to run the other way.
When has common sense ever stopped you before?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Guest Author - James DiBenedetto

Today I am pleased to welcome paranormal romance auhor, James DiBenedetto to the blog. Hi, James. Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.

I’m a full-blooded Italian (3 of my 4 grandparents were born there and came over in their youth) from a pretty big extended family (although I’m actually an only child).  I was born in the Bronx, New York, and I ended up in the Washington, DC area 18 years ago, got a job and I’ve been there ever since.
By day I do mail fundraising for nonprofit groups (please don’t call it junk mail!), and at night I’m a writer.  I’ve been writing since college, but it was never serious.  I have a hard drive full of “page 1s” that never made it to page 2.  A year ago, a friend of mine sold her first novel, and it got me thinking, “why can’t I do that, too?”  So I went back and dusted off the one thing I had managed to finish a draft of – the first draft of the book that became “Dream Student”.
Besides writing, I love the opera and go whenever I can; I’m a big sports fan, a science fiction geek, and me and my wife are also the property of a tortoiseshell cat that runs our household.

Why did you decide to write Paranormal Romance? What is the appeal?
I didn’t really “decide” to write in this genre.  When I originally wrote the first draft, I didn’t know there was such a genre!  I just followed the story – the first idea was simply the thought of seeing into other people’s dreams.  Right away, that led me to wonder what a person would do if they saw something horrible, if someone was dreaming or fantasizing about committing murder.  The person who saw it would be the only witness – but there’d be no proof.  What do you do then?
The story grew from there, and the romance quickly came into it – at first it was just to give Sara’s character some moral support, but the relationship quickly became as important as the dreaming aspect of the story.  And then the subsequent books grew out of that.

How much research goes into your books, and how do you tackle that?

Quite a bit of research.  The first book didn’t require as much, because it’s set when and more-or-less where I went to college, so a lot of it was just from memory.  I mainly had to look up some specific details for individual scenes, but it wasn’t too much.
The second book, when Sara goes to medical school, was a different story.  I knew nothing about med school.  I was lucky, though – I came across a memoir about a woman’s experience in medical school in the late 1980s, and that was a perfect fit.  I got a lot of the “feel” of the book from that memoir.  For Sara’s actual lessons, I used the “look inside the book” feature on Amazon to go through the standard textbook used for the first-year anatomy (dissection) class.  And I visited med student internet forums and the websites of several medical schools to get a sense of what her day-to-day class schedule would be like.
The fourth book, when Sara is mistakenly arrested and is booked into jail, I had to do some research there as well.  That’s never happened to me, and I wanted what happens to her to ring true, and I found quite a bit of material to help with that.
There are also lots of small details – what movies and TV shows were popular at the time each book is set, and so on.  Google, Wikipedia and IMDB have been my friends!

What is the best comment you ever received from a reader? The worst or weirdest?

The best comment was from one beta reader who actually asked if I was a doctor or had been to med school after reading “Dream Doctor”.  I was thrilled that (at least for one reader) I did a good job of making it feel true.
The worst comment was a review that said “the story lacks conflict, interesting characters and a suspenseful plot.”  It was just one review (the overwhelming majority have been very positive), but that did hurt a bit to read.

Tell us a little about your writing style? Do you plan and plot your stories, or do you just plow through them?

I plow through, more than plot in a detailed way.  I know in general where the story is going, and sometimes I have a very clear idea of exactly how the climax will play out long before I get there, but I don’t outline or plot out every scene.

Can you tell us a little about your current work, “Waking Dream”? Is there a story behind the story?

Waking Dream” is the fifth book in the series.  We’re almost 12 years on from the first book, and Sara encounters something that she never expected – someone else (not in her own family) who can do what she do: go into other people’s dreams.  And unfortunately, this other woman isn’t interested at all in helping people; she’s using her gift for selfish and harmful ends.  And she might be coming after Sara’s husband…
This was going to be the plot of the fourth book, “Dream Family”, but that book changed dramatically as I was writing it, and it became about Sara being completely traumatized after her arrest and brief time in jail, and then her recovery from that.  But the idea was too good to put aside, and so it became the next book.
What sets Sara apart from all the other women in Brian’s life (and vice-versa)? Why are they perfect for each other?
She’s really the only woman who’s ever been in his life; in the first book when they meet, he’s only a freshman in college.  And Brian is more kind and selfless than any of Sara’s previous boyfriends. 
But the real reason they’re perfect for each other is the qualities they bring out in each other.  When they first meet, Sara’s trying to figure out what her strange dreams mean, and she’s slowly losing her mind.  Brian’s pretty shy and nervous and hasn’t found his confidence yet. 
Helping Sara cope with the dreams, and eventually hunt down the killer who she’s seeing every night, forces Brian to find that confidence and grow into the man he was meant to be; and taking the lead in a relationship and guiding Brian into becoming that man is just what Sara needs to help her focus on something besides her dreams – and also come out of her own shell.
Have you ever had writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
I’ve never had it for long enough to be a huge problem (yet, anyway – knock on wood!).  What I usually do when I am stuck is to skip ahead in the story and write a scene to look forward to.   Even if I end up junking it later, it gets me writing again.

Can you give us a little background on your Sara that’s only in your author notes, and not found in your story? What inspired you to create this character?

I’ve got tons of background on Sara.  I know every class she took in college, and who her grade-school friends were.  I’ve got a huge spreadsheet with all kinds of details about her. 
One thing that’s not found in the first five books (although it will show up in the next book, which I’m writing now), is that Sara is not the most astute businesswoman, and she’s much too generous with her time and money, sometimes to her own detriment.  The details don’t make it into the book, but I figured out exactly how much money she’s making in her medical practice, for example, and how much she’s costing herself due to poor (or overly charitable) decisions.
I honestly can’t name a specific inspiration for Sara – she kind of came out fully formed, for the most part.  She still surprises me now and then, but she’s always been Sara.

Describe a favorite scene in your current novel?

In “Waking Dream”, which comes out this month, Sara’s adopted daughter Grace, who’s eleven years old going on thirty, has her first kiss, and Sara witnesses it, and then a little later has to give Grace “the talk”.  We also get a flashback to Sara’s (very embarrassing) first kiss herself.
What else do you have in store for your readers?
I’m working on the sixth book in the Dream Series, and I’m also working on another book, tentatively called “Queen of the Idiots”.  It’s more of an adventure in the tradition of “Romancing the Stone” than a straight-out romance.  The story follows Jane, an American graduate student who’s studying at Oxford.  Her professor asks her to drive his brand new car from England over to his research site in Spain.  Unknown to Jane, there’s a sealed box containing priceless archaeological relics in the trunk, which various people are willing to kill over, and the simple drive becomes a dangerous chase across three countries…

Here’s my bio:

J.J. (James) DiBenedetto was born in Yonkers, New York. He attended Case Western Reserve University, where as his classmates can attest, he was a complete nerd. Very little has changed since then.
He currently lives in Arlington, Virginia with his beautiful wife and their cat (who has thoroughly trained them both). When he's not writing, James works in the direct marketing field, enjoys the opera, photography and the New York Giants, among other interests.
The "Dreams" series is James' first published work.

Amazon Author Page




Book links:

Book blurbs (all 5 books)
Dream Student
What would you do if you could see other people’s dreams?  If you could watch their hidden fantasies and uncover their deepest, darkest secrets…without them ever knowing?
Sara Barnes is about to find out.  She thought that all she had to worry about was final exams, Christmas shopping and deciding whether she likes the cute freshman in the next dorm who’s got a crush on her.
But when she starts seeing dreams that aren’t hers, she learns more than she ever wanted to know about her friends, her classmates…and a strange, terrifying man whose dreams could get Sara killed.
“Dream Student” is the thrilling first installment of the Dreams series.

Dream Doctor
“I didn’t expect to be woken up by someone I don’t know dreaming about killing somebody.  I thought I was done with that once and for all…”
But Sara’s not done with it.  As if adjusting to life as a newlywed and starting medical school weren’t difficult enough, she’s started seeing the dreams of everyone around her, again.  Before everything is said and done, those dreams might destroy Sara’s hopes of becoming a doctor, wreck her marriage and even end her life…
“Dream Doctor” is the thrilling second novel in the Dreams series.

Dream Child
"I would give anything to take this away from her.  I would gladly go back to having the nightmares myself – the very worst ones, the ones that had me waking up screaming in a pool of my own vomit – rather than see Lizzie go through this..." 
As a resident at Children's Hospital, Sara can handle ninety hour workweeks, fighting to save her young patients from deadly childhood diseases.  But she's about to be faced with a challenge that all her training and experience haven't prepared her for: her four-year-old daughter has inherited her ability to see other people's dreams...
"Dream Child" is the suspenseful third novel in the "Dreams" series.

Dream Family
"Why is this so hard for me?  Why am I having so much trouble?  Why do I feel so helpless, so hopeless?  What the hell is wrong with me?"
After tangling with murders and mobsters, not to mention medical school and three years of residency, Sara thought she could handle anything.  And then the police show up without warning at her new office and arrest her for a crime she can't possibly have committed.  Sara's confidence, and her grip on reality, is shattered during one terrifying night in jail.
Now, the very dreams that have endangered her life and driven her to the edge of madness may be the only thing that can help Sara find herself again...
"Dream Family" is the powerful fourth novel in the "Dreams" series.

Waking Dream
“Oh, God!   We can hurt each other.  Whatever we do to each other in the dream, we’ll do it to ourselves for real…”

When her own dreams are visited by a mysterious woman in a red dress, Sara realizes she has something she never expected: a counterpart, someone outside her family who shares her talent to see other people’s dreams.

When the woman in red keeps showing up in other dreams as well, leaving ruined lives in her wake, Sara knows she has something she never imagined: a nemesis.

Now, Sara must track the woman in red down in the waking world, before she’s forced to fight for her life in her dreams…

“Waking Dream” is the exciting fifth novel in the “Dreams” series.

Excerpt, from book 5 (Waking Dream) – this is part of the scene mentioned in the interview:

I decide that I need some water before I can properly fall asleep.  I get up, open the door and tiptoe out, down the hall, to the stairs.  But there’s already someone downstairs, and – I don’t know why – I stand perfectly still and silent on the top step. 

It’s Grace, pacing back and forth near the front door, looking quite impatient.  I don’t know why I don’t call out to her, but some instinct is telling me not to.  A moment later, there’s a hand on my shoulder, and I look up into Maggie’s tired and windblown face.  They must only have gotten back from nighttime skiing a few minutes ago.

“I was looking for David,” she whispers into my ear.  “He’s been in the bathroom downstairs for a while now.”  And now I think I know why Grace is pacing, and why in that particular spot.  I put a finger to Maggie’s lips.  We both hear a door open, and then David comes into view.  He’s heading straight for Grace.  Of course he is.

He stops about six inches away from her, right under the mistletoe.  They stare at each other for a minute or two; it’s too far away to judge the expressions on their faces.  Finally, in response to some unspoken signal, they come closer – closer – then their lips meet.  The kiss lasts for just a second, and they spring apart like a pair of repelling magnets.  But then, after another minute or so, they come closer again.  This time, Grace puts her arms around him, pulls him tightly to her.  Then she grabs his hand and places it – oh, God, I can’t believe she’s doing this! – on the back of her neck.  She holds it there, exactly in the spot that Brian always touches me.  The spot that makes me swoon when it’s touched just the right way.  And now she’s running her hand through his hair; again, just the way I do with Brian.  They do say that children copy their parents.

She tilts her head slightly to the side and goes in for another kiss.  This time it’s much more serious, and it lasts a lot longer. 

They break apart again, more slowly this time, and it’s hard to be sure with the distance and the dim light, but I think they look more confused than anything else.  I turn away to look up at Maggie, and her face is unreadable too.  “Go back to your room,” I whisper fiercely.  “Don’t let them see us!”  I follow my own advice and scamper back to my bedroom, closing the door softly behind me.

Brian’s looking confused.  “Where’s your water?”

“I got distracted,” I say

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - Ain't No Angel

Here's a first quick peek at Ain't No Angel - Book 2 in the Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series. 

Delaney Goodman stood in front of the bathroom mirror, dressed to kill. She stared at her reflection and laughed, a short, disgusted laugh. Committing murder - preferably her own murder – might be easier than what she’d resigned herself to do. How could she possibly bring herself to go through with this? The idea hadn’t seemed so daunting a week ago.
She inhaled a deep breath and released it slowly in an effort to calm her frazzled nerves. What the hell was she doing here, in this fancy hotel room? When had life turned from horrible to downright unbearable?
There is no other way, Laney. You’ve sunk about as low as you can go. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Guest Author - Trish Jackson

Please welcome Romantic Suspense author, Trish Jackson to my blog today!

 Please introduce yourself, Trish. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.

Peggy, let me thank you first for having me on your blog. I've always lived in the country, and I love animals, and my books are mostly about small country towns, the people who live in them and their animals.
I love getting to know new people, and I hope I can get to meet some of your followers.

Why did you decide to write romantic suspense? What is the appeal?

This is my most favorite question. I am an incurable romantic. I love romance of any sort, and my own story is testimony to that. I married very young to my childhood sweetheart, one of those older, sexy, gorgeous bad boys we all love, and am still married to him after 42 years. We still hold hands.

I grew up on Africa and I always longed for suspense and adventure as a child. You might think growing up in Africa would be adventure enough, but life was actually pretty mundane -- elephants and lions did not roam the streets, and we lived in nice houses in quiet suburbs. Then a guerilla war started in my country, Rhodesia -- now called Zimbabwe -- and everything changed.

Every able-bodied man under 55 was drafted into the military. Bands of communist-trained insurgents attacked homes in outlying areas where women, children and the elderly had been left alone, brutally torturing, raping and murdering their victims without an ounce of compassion.

I was left alone with three small children in our country home, where my closest neighbors were about half a mile away. I carried an Uzi around ready to fire at all times. Thankfully, the only bit of excitement I experienced was the night an enormous Egyptian cobra got into the dog's kennel. I had to go and shoot it, holding the flashlight between my legs.

I couldn't move to some safer place where my neighbors would be closer because I ran a horse riding school and I would never have left my horses or my four Dobermans, not to mention the chickens, pigeons, rabbits or guinea pigs. 

My first novel, Way Out of Line, is about two kids from Texas who end up in the wilds of Mozambique and have to find their way home. As you might guess from the titles the other two, Redneck P.I. and its sequel Kick Assitude, I also like to throw a little humor into the mix.

How much research goes into your books, and how do you tackle that?

Authors of today are so lucky to have the Internet at their disposal. It's like a ginormous worldwide library and the wealth of information available is infinitesimal.

What is the best comment you ever received from a reader? The worst or weirdest?

The best comment was this: Trish! I've just finished reading your book, "Redneck P.I." and loved it! Great story! Great mix of humor, romance, action, suspense and I utterly adore your character, Twila. Congrats! And where do I find more?! It ended on a "watch out for the sequel" note :-)

The weirdest was:
You were writing it with tongue-in-cheek, right?

Tell us a little about your writing style? Do you plan and plot your stories, or do you just plow through them?

I've always been a pantser – I write by the seat of my pants without plotting and the characters seem to be inside my mind telling me what to write. However, in my new Astrology Series, the first of which is due to be released before the end of this year, I've had to do a lot more plotting, perhaps because it is a lot more intense than the Redneck Series.

Can you tell us a little about your most recently released work, Kick Assitude? Is there a story behind the story?

This is the sequel to Redneck P.I. and this story kind of unfolded in my mind while I was writing the first one, and I placed several references leading up to it in Redneck P.I.

What sets your heroine Twila Taunton apart from all the other women in your hero Harland O'Connor's life? Why is she perfect for him?

She's not afraid of anything and doesn't understand the meaning of 'politically correct', and he just loves her free spirit—apart from the fact that she has curves in all the right places.

Have you ever had writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

I think it is something all writers experience. I go for a long walk or hike through one of the nearby state forest areas and think it through in my mind. When I get back, I'm anxious and ready to get back to my computer.

Can you give us a little background on your hero, Harland that’s only in your author notes, and not found in your story? What inspired you to create this character?

Harland is a twin and he often fought with his brother, Horton over girlfriends even when they were still in primary school. Two of my children have twins, and I guess that's probably what inspired me to put them in my books. I'm actually about to start writing short back stories about the characters in my novels with the idea of allowing readers to download them for free.

Describe a favorite scene in your current novel?

My most favorite scene in Kick Assitude is when Twila and hard-drinking octogenarian Great Aunt Essie head out on their Harleys in the dead of night to a haunted mansion known to be patrolled by man-eating wild boars.  Once they have crawled through the fence and have almost made it through the overgrown brush to the house, someone or something crashes through the undergrowth from behind them. Twila pulls Aunt Essie down. "Scared me so bad I peed in my pants. You're just lucky I didn't--" Aunt Essie screeches.

What else do you have in store for your readers?

The third book in the redneck series is in draft form and I absolutely love it and am having too much fun writing it. I've brought back Gasser Cunha, a character from the first book, known for his computer hacking skills and infamous for his farting. Twila and her friends rescue several dogs from an illegal puppy mill and I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to help educate people about the evils of puppy mills.
Also, Capricorn Cravings is being released by Soul Mate Publishing later this year. It's the first in my Astrology series where each heroine will belong to a different star sign. Riley Shaughnessy, a veterinarian in a small town in Colorado can't believe she's falling in love with the man who could be a serial killer. The next in the series, Aquarius Arcanum is progressing well and I should be able to finish it within the next month.

Amazon USA

Amazon UK

You can find out more info about me and my books at my website:
Please feel free to comment, and if you buy a copy of Kick Assitude and show me the proof, I'll give you a free download of Redneck P.I.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - Teton Sunset

Here's a first look at Teton Sunset:

Buffalo Horn studied him intently while he listened to Lucas retell his experiences from the previous year. For a fleeting moment, Lucas thought the Indian might react in an angry manner. As far as he was aware, the Bannock hadn’t had any trouble with the army or with white settlers. He raised his eyebrows at Buffalo Horn when the Indian suddenly smiled brightly.
“I thought that perhaps you are searching for the Ghost Woman,” he finally said. “It is clear that you have not taken a wife yet, or you would be at home in your lodge.”
“The what?” He ignored the Indian’s last comment. Ever since his brother Joseph had gotten married over a year ago, people seemed to think that he, too, needed to get hitched.
 “What is a ghost woman?” Lucas couldn’t keep the mocking tone out of his voice.
“You have not heard of her?” Buffalo Horn raised his brows and straightened in his saddle. “It is said she is a woman of exceptional beauty, the one with golden hair the color of the setting sun and eyes as green as a mountain meadow in spring.” The crazy Injun swept his hand dramatically in front of his face.
Lucas smirked. Golden hair? Eyes like a spring meadow? The description didn’t fit an Indian woman.
“She sounds like a real prize. Maybe you could introduce me to her?” He leaned toward Buffalo Horn, feigning eager interest.
Buffalo Horn’s mouth contorted in a disapproving grimace. Lucas couldn’t suppress the grin on his face, and he laughed out loud.
“You have not changed your ways, young Walker.” Buffalo Horn grumbled. “It is not good that you make light of the beliefs of the People. While on a hunt for mountain sheep, my cousin’s son has seen her with his own eyes during the summer moon.” The Indian’s face turned serious, as if he believed his ridiculous words.
“Women don’t usually hide from me, Buffalo Horn.” Lucas maintained his grin. “I’ve been all over these mountains my entire life, and I’ve neither seen nor heard of a ghost woman before. If your relative has met her, then I’m a little upset that she hasn’t shown herself to me,” he continued to tease, and sighed dramatically. “I guess she don’t like me if she’s that elusive.”
He turned his head from side to side, glancing into the distance. “Would be mighty nice if she’d offer me a warm place to stay for the night. Looks like we’re gonna get some snow.” Lucas tried with all his might to - as his mother often told him - wipe the grin off his face. If Buffalo Horn believed that the spirit of a woman haunted these mountains, Lucas could at least have some fun with the idea, especially since his family seemed to think he needed a female in his life. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Guest Author - Lori Foroozandeh

 Please welcome non-fiction author Lori Foroozandeh to my blog today. 

Lori, please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.

I’m Lori Foroozandeh, but if I were honest I also have five other names, but most of them I’ve divorcedJ
Well the book pretty much is my WHOLE LIFE, if I tell you things about me then it would be repetitive in the book.  But in short I’m a 47yr. old who lives in Michigan and LOVES ANIMALS.  Part of my profits from the book goes towards the HSUS.  I was born on 12-11 at the time of 12:11, which to me was very odd. I am not one to follow any superstitions or doctrines based on numerology but the way my life has went I now wonder if that birth-date and time, which coincide so perfectly, might in all actuality have a purpose.

Why did you decide to write this book? 

I only wrote one book and it was my life story with the focus on escaping from a POW camp in Iran after 911.  If I hadn’t had any tragedies in my life (and trust me this isn’t the only one) I probably wouldn’t have written one.  Everyone told me that I should write a book and it would be a great catharsis.

How much research went into your book?

The only research was my memory

What is the best comment you ever received from a reader? The worst or weirdest?

I received it from Tom Clancy and he said “YOU SURE KNOW HOW TO WRITE A BOOK FOR THE “REAL” AUDIENCE.
My worst was, “you suck and you know nothing about Iran or Muslims”….as you will find out I actually doJ

Tell us a little about your writing style? Did you plan and plot your story, or did you just plow through it?

I literally plowed through it, I sat down and just wrote for three-six months.  I never re-read it because it was too hard. So I had John re-read it and my literary agent for errors.  My therapist and I started going through the chapters then stopped when I started having flashbacks.

Can you tell us a little about your current work, Lori's Song?

It’s my true story of being held captive in a POW type camp in Iran for six weeks.  The book also deals with my childhood sexual abuse, substance abuse, PTSD and living with bipolar.  It is a very graphic  book when it comes to scenes during the camp.
My book is available on Kindle, paperback and hardcover.  Its available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and anywhere online.  Search “Lori Foroozandeh”.

These are my social networking links and I also have a blog. (WEBSITE) (BLOG) (TWITTER)!/lforoozandeh (FB) (AMAZON

Here is an excerpt from my book:

Anyway getting back to "blows done to humility": The two other girls and I all of which we're not the only females in the camp were chosen as the soldiers "toys"! This meant that when they got bored or just for sadistic purposes they would choose one of us and rape us, all of the soldiers would.... Which if you counted them all it meant anywhere from 20-29 on any given day...
The first time that they came for me, I knew it was coming....I had this sudden nauseating feeling in my stomach, and kept watching the ground intently, while the soldiers approached. All I could hear by the time that they got to me was my heartbeat within my ears. I felt a sudden jerk on each arm and a kick to the back while I was being drug away from Faresh. Yes this was the only time that the cuffs came off....I did the usual screaming and fighting although I knew that in the back of my mind this didn't help, there were too many of them, and only one of me....When the first soldier grabbed me, the other two stood back and pointed their guns at me...and I knew what was happening....I just kept asking the soldiers where in their (word deleted) Qur'an did Allah tell them to do this??? Which only angered them more...

Thank you for allowing me to be featured on your blog, your very gracious.  If readers have any questions they can email me: