Friday, May 31, 2013

Non-Fiction Friday!

Happy Non-Fiction Friday!
Today I'm out celebrating. What am I celebrating, you ask? The end of the school year! I've been at my school since January, have made new friends and have secured a spot on staff for next year. I'm excited to start plotting and planning my 6th grade classroom for 2013-2014 over the summer.
At the moment, I'm more excited to celebrate this year being over! I've learned a lot, I've helped a lot of students and I've pitched in to assist wherever I was needed. I'm proud of our accomplishments and of getting a chance to get some kids excited about learning. But EVERYONE is ready to be on vacation! We all, kids and staff, need to be away from each other. We all need a break to relax and reorganize our brains.
Yesterday I went out to lunch with one of my new friends to celebrate and today I think a bunch of us might also be going out for lunch (since both days have been half days). THEN tonight I get to celebrate all over again with my writing happy hour group! Whoohoo! Who knows? Maybe I'll continue celebrating all weekend!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hot Summer Nights Winner!

Thank you to everyone who stopped by and left comments during the Blog Hop! Using, I've unveiled the winner of my prize. The winner is......
Veronica Vaughn
Veronica, congratulations! Look for an email from me shortly about getting your $10 Amazon gift card and other book swag items out to you!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Way Back Wednesday!

Welcome to Way Back Wednesday! With the end of the school year only 2 days away, I thought I'd share a memory from my professional, "real world" career.
In 2002, I finished my first year of teaching. At the time, the school was new and most of the teachers were as well. In all we had 5 teachers, 2 staff members and about 50 kids. Needless to say we were a lot like a family.
On the last day of school, the staff decided to go out for drinks. Most of went, including our super cool principal who, I think, bought us a round of drinks. We stayed, talked, patted each other on the back. We drank and drank....and drank some more. At one point, we glanced out the window in the restaurant and saw the traffic and decided to stay for dinner...and more drinks.
By the end of our night, the sky was dark and the staff at the restaurant had stopped coming to our table. Much of a hint?
It was a great time with great people and I'm so thankful I started my teaching career where I did. The following year things changed, the school grew and although it was still a great place to be, nothing could compare to that last day of our first year.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sneak Peek Sunday!

Welcome back to Sneak Peek Sunday, where authors post 6 paragraphs of a published work or a work-in-progress for your enjoyment! To see who else is participating, visit here!

Now, for my sneak peek.....

Over the last 2 weeks I've shared snippets from my June 5th book, Carry Me Home. This story is set in the Scottish Highlands and is a contemporary romance. This sneak peek picks up from what I posted last week. Mary MacDougall has only been back in the Highlands for seconds and she's already struggling with herself and her husband. To read the opening of the book, click here. To read last week's snippet, click here.

And now, for this week's 6 paragraphs.....


Nothing had changed. Making this trip had been the right decision. The sooner their marriage was over, the sooner she could move on with her life.

"Thank you, but I’d rather you brought me the signed divorce papers." She flexed her fingers around the suitcase handle and started down the stairs.

With the flowers still in Jamie’s hand.

A small smile crossed her lips. She’d take any victory she could. This would be a fierce battle.

"Mary, wait." His work shoes clumped down the wooden stairs.

Please keep me strong. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Non-Fiction Friday!

Welcome back for another installment of Non-Fiction Friday! This is where I talk about my "real world" adventures.
So, a while back I told you I signed my new contract at the day job for the 2013-2014 school year. What I didn't mention was during the conversation about my salary and my teaching duties, the principal also signed me up for some "extra" duties.
At first, he tried to get me to agree to be involved in the Quiz Bowl. Um, no. Not gonna happen. I vaguely remember Quiz Bowl from my high school days and I have no desire to be involved. So I played dumb and asked what it was and what I'd have to do. I don't think he really knew because we went back to the drawing board. He started listing off all the duties and I was worried I wouldn't find anything I liked or would be remotely qualified for.
In the end, I agreed to be the Spelling Bee coach. I was a great speller when I was in grade school and I remember the spelling bees I was involved in. THEN, I later found out my buddy, the music teacher who started at the school the same time as I did, signed up to also be involved in the Spelling Bees. She and I will have a GREAT time!
I also agreed to be involved in the Gifted & Talented Program. I chose that because usually the GT kids are cool kids and well-behaved. Plus I love challenging kids to be life-long learners. There is someone else involved so at least I won't be completely on my own for that.
In the end, I think I made good choices! Now, though, I'm thinking that I probably should have asked if there was a newspaper or a creative writing group. Those would be more up my alley. Oh well. There's always the following year! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Welcome Kathleen Gallagher!

Folks, help me welcome fellow Decadent Publishing author Kathleen Gallagher! She's here today to share her latest release with us. Read on for the details!



Savannah Mason fought for independence since she was a young girl, smothered by a controlling father who insisted she take over his medical practice one day.  Now, at the age of thirty, alienated from her father, the career minded journalist spends long hours at her job, hoping to take the spot as anchor.

On her darkest day twelve years ago, Savannah agreed to give her child up for adoption. She never even had the chance to hold her.  On her daughter’s birthday, a chance encounter gives Savannah an opportunity to explore a corner of her heart she thought was lost forever.

The last thing Savannah wants is a relationship, especially one with a doctor who happens to have two young children.

Rob Sinclair, a cardiothoracic surgeon and NY Times best-selling author, needs a promo spot on the television show The News Stop.  When Savannah gets the interview over a senior reporter, a door opens to her future.  However, first she must face the sorrow of her past and cast away the agony of guilt before she’s free to accept love.

Rob’s commitment to climb the ladder of success and provide a good life for his two small children keeps him on the road.  He’s determined to push forward despite the heartache of a broken marriage.  His deepest fear is being an absent parent.  When he meets Savannah Mason, desire and passion awaken his broken spirit.  Will he ever be able to trust another woman?

Savannah and Rob’s strong attraction to one another is undeniable as they follow the path to a place where honesty, love and forgiveness, can bring them both home.

When a man who seems totally wrong for Savannah slowly weaves his way into her heart, will he accept her when he learns about her past?

Savannah and Rob’s attraction to one another is undeniable.  As they follow the path to a place where honesty and forgiveness can bring them both home, will it be enough to heal the scars of the past and allow them another chance at love?


Savannah stood and slowly moved toward him. Her chest tightened with each step. As she approached him and admired his broad shoulders, it dawned on her he could be a candidate for People’s sexiest man alive. Control yourself.   

“I’m happy here.”  Savannah admitted. “I love it when the morning light shines on the water and it mimics fine pieces of crystal.”

 Rob slowly approached her. The look in his eyes told her he had more than the view on his mind. Savannah turned away, afraid of what might happen next. Before she could stop him, they were too close for comfort. An electric energy surged between them. With one swift movement, Rob reached for her and gently placed his lips on hers. He cradled her head in his hands as if she was a precious jewel. The warmth of his touch sent shivers down her spine and the world stood still. When Rob’s hands moved slowly across her back, her body went limp and it took her to a level of arousal she never expected. It all happened so quickly, she didn’t have time to react. She found herself spellbound by the feel of his rock hard body pressed up against her chest. All of the emotions she’d kept inside emerged when Rob held her tight. When they finally parted, Savannah stood frozen in shock with her heart pounding and her ears ringing.

Rob’s expression made him look as if he broke the law. He quickly took a step back. “I don’t know what to say. I’m so sorry for my rude behavior.”

 “You weren’t rude. I didn’t stop you.”

 “I don’t know what got into me. You’re an amazing woman and I find you terribly attractive.” He stared deep into her eyes.  

“Thank you.” Savannah looked down, still shocked, but flattered.   

“I’d like to take you on a real date. Would that be possible? Is it against your ethics to date someone you’re working with?”

“There’s no rule against dating a guest on the show. I make my own rules.” Savannah could not believe her own words.

“That’s what I like about you. You’re not afraid of taking a risk. I could tell from the moment I met you, you were a strong, independent woman.”

 Unanswered questions twirled around in Savannah’s mind. What am I doing making a date with a doctor and one with a family, no less. I must be crazy. Her mind told her to run from a relationship with a client, however, her body told her something completely different.

Book Trailer

I write contemporary, paranormal, and erotic romance.

Although writing is my passion, nursing is my vocation. I work in an emergency room, and it’s been challenging, and rewarding, to be such an integral part of so many other’s daily struggles. I have a wonderful husband who always offers his support, and never complains about my crazy schedule. One of our favorite romantic getaways is Cape May, New Jersey, an old historic beach town where we take a step into the past, and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Although my children are all grown with busy lives of their own, Chaz, our Shepherd mix, still dutifully stands guard at the house. We are also blessed with three adorable grandsons.

Other interests of mine include cooking, reading, and the theater. However, spending time with my family is most important to me. Even though my life is filled with work, family, etc., my mind continues to ponder the next story or concept for a new novel.

You can find Kathleen here!  She loves making new friends!



Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hot Summer Nights!

Welcome to the Hot Summer Nights Blog Hop! We're excited to have you join us. We are going to also offering two Grand Prizes!! In order for readers to take part, they must leave their name and email address in their comments. Two winners will be chosen at random and notified no later than May 31, 2013.

1st Grand Prize: (1) Kindle Fire!
2nd Grand Prize: (1) $100 Amazon Gift Card
In addition to these fabulous prizes, I'll be giving away a $10 Amazon gift card and some book swag to one commenter here!
I'm not such a fan of hot summer nights, unless they include a hot guy by my side! I have to put up with summer heat that threatens to melt me. For the most part, I try to stay inside where there's air conditioning!
But my characters, on the other hand....
In my upcoming book, Carry Me Home, the main characters have a few steamy summer nights, for sure! Jamie and Mary MacDougall have been married for years, but their marriage is on the verge of collapsing. Mary left town to "get away" and has now returned, six months later, to force Jamie to sign divorce papers. But Jamie has other plans. He knows they are meant to be together and he has every intention of reminding Mary of that. He concocts a plan for an intimate weekend filled with hot nights and sweet days, everything his bonnie lass needs to feel loved and cherished once again. Here's a short excerpt for you!
Beads of sweat gathered along Jamie’s collar. His outfit smothered him, but it had been worth every ounce of discomfort. The look on Mary’s face when she saw him in his kilt would live in his brain forever.

And her own dress had left him speechless. Aye, him. The silky fabric clinging to her
called to him, begged him to strip it off her. But he couldn’t. He had to bide his time. He absolutely could not mess this night up. It might be his only chance to save his marriage, to hold onto the woman who owned his heart.  
And so he’d pretended to be a complete gentleman all through dinner, had ignored his body’s urge to claim her once again, and had begun to believe he might have a chance to win her back.

While they waited for Berney to prepare the cranachan, one of her favorite songs came over the speakers. Aye, he’d planned the soundtrack for the evening, but he couldn’t have timed it better. As the first string of notes filled the air, she tilted her head to one side.

Jamie stood and held his hand out to her. "Come."

"What for?"

"A dance."

She hesitated, but only for a moment. As she slid her fingers in his and stood next to him, she said, "Only because you know how much I love this song."

"Fair enough." He tugged her into his arms. Her soft body entwined so perfectly with his, like the old days. They used to hold each other every chance they could get before their world fell apart. He brushed the back of his fingers against her cheek, along her jaw, down her neck. With his hand drifting to the nape of her neck and massaging there, he moved his mouth over her eyes, her nose, her lips. She opened
her mouth to him, invited his tongue with her own, taunting, teasing, playing like brand-new lovers getting to know each other. He supposed, in some ways, that was exactly what they were.

But he’d not rush them. The marriage had taken time to disintegrate. He’d not be able to sew it back together in one more night. Perhaps, though, a long weekend of loving memories would reopen the doors to their love.

He pleasured her mouth, matching her tongue strokes and then taking his away, giving and taking. When the song ended and Berney brought out their traditional Scottish dessert, he guided her back to the table.

And when the meal was completely finished, he escorted her to her hotel room door, kissed her on the cheek, and walked away. Why? Because that was what gentlemen did, and his lass deserved to be treated like a lady.

Now, here's your question for the Blog Hop: What's the steamiest night or steamiest couple you've read? Come on, now! I need some book recommendations! 
Leave a comment (with your name and email address) and be in the running for both my prize and one of the grand prizes!
Remember, the more you participate, the better your chances are of winning a prize! Visit our other authors, comment and get in the running!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Talent Tuesday!

Folks, welcome back for another Talent Tuesday! For this segment, I have a lady I've known for several years, Vonda Sinclair! She's generously sharing some of her fabulous photography with us!

My love of photography started when I was a child. Although I wasn’t allowed to touch a camera then, one of my prized possessions was my photo album, which I still have. In college, I took a photography class as part of my minor in art. My husband, who was then my boyfriend, bought me a nice professional 35mm camera for Christmas (this was during the time before digital cameras.) I was hooked! Over the next few years I burned through hundreds of rolls of film. People had me photograph their weddings. You rarely saw me without a camera around my neck. When digital cameras arrived on the scene, I was thrilled. No more film to buy or having to pay for processing. No darkroom work, just photo editing software. (I love Photoshop.)

I don’t call myself a photographer. I’m more like an amateur photo bug. My husband is used to me saying, “Stop! I have to take a picture.” My only explanation for this obsession with photos is that I’m a very visual person. I love to look at beautiful scenes, settings, and colors. Simply gazing at a gorgeous photo gives me a lot of pleasure and it can even affect me emotionally. I often look at something, usually a landscape or maybe a collection of flowers, and think that would be an awesome photo. I compose it in my mind before I point the camera. I notice the details and the background.

I have two photos of flowers on display in a local area hospital, which I consider a great honor. One is a picture of foxgloves I took on Isle of Skye. And the other is black-eyed Susans taken in my garden.

I’ve also done drawing, painting, pottery, sculpture, flower arranging, jewelry making, candle making and various other crafts. But photography is the only one that has stuck with me so long.

My favorite place to take photos is Scotland. The country is so beautiful it would be difficult to take a bad picture there. The landscapes and natural scenery are breathtaking and atmospheric. The castles are often situated on islands, beside lochs, or next to the shore in amazing settings.

My favorite series of photos are ones I took on our last trip. One evening, we were returning from a hike in Glencoe, heading toward Oban, and driving along Loch Linnhe in Argyll. The sun’s rays sliced through the dramatic clouds. I had never seen anything so beautiful! I almost went crazy wanting to find a pull off and take come pictures. These are the moments photographers live for. I found a pull off and hurried as fast as I could to get out there beside the loch with several more people who were just as impressed as I was by the stunning natural beauty. We were hurrying because, well, who knew how long the scene would stay as it was? I took a few there, then rushed on a mile or two further to take some with Castle Stalker and the sunrays. I got some great ones. But I’m still kicking myself for not finding the side road to go down and take some of the castle from a different angle.

I also enjoy taking pictures of rainbows, which Scotland has a lot of, considering the amount of rain. Two of my favorite things—Scotland and photography—go wonderfully together!
My Daring Highlander at Amazon

Vonda Sinclair’s favorite indulgent pastime is exploring Scotland, from Edinburgh to the untamed and windblown north coast. She also enjoys creating hot, Highland heroes and spirited lasses to drive them mad. She is a past Golden Heart finalist and Laurie award winner. She lives with her amazing and supportive husband in the mountains of North Carolina where she is no doubt creating another Scottish story.   

Latest book: My Daring Highlander

Beautiful and fiercely protective of those she loves, Lady Seona Murray captured Keegan MacKay’s attention when she first set foot in Dunnakeil Castle. Though she is a chief’s daughter and forbidden, Keegan has fallen in love with her from afar and burns to possess her. But so does the clan traitor, Haldane, an obsessive outlaw bent on murder and kidnapping.

Sinfully handsome, Keegan MacKay is a fearsome guard as well as the chief’s cousin, but Seona’s father would never consider him a worthy husband for her because he is not a titled laird. Seona has secretly watched the sensual, tawny-haired warrior from across the crowded great hall for months, but when he is tasked with escorting her across Scotland, back to her home, their simmering attraction flames into sizzling passion with just one kiss.

Though she fears she is endangering Keegan’s life, Seona cannot resist his seductive charm or his spellbinding kisses. Keegan sets fire to the memories of her sad past and shows her what it means to truly live. But her father has other plans. He’s arranged for her to marry a wealthy Lowland laird. Is Keegan daring enough to steal her away? Or will the vindictive Haldane snatch her first?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sneak Peek Sunday!

Welcome back to Sneak Peek Sunday, where authors post 6 paragraphs of a published work or a work-in-progress for your enjoyment! To see who else is participating, visit here!

Now, for my sneak peek.....

Last week I said I'd be sharing snippets from my upcoming book, Carry Me Home. This story is set in the Scottish Highlands and is a contemporary romance being released on June 5th! This sneak peek picks up from what I posted last week. Mary MacDougall has just gotten off the train in her Highland village after 6 months away. To read last week's snippet first, click here.

She crossed the brick bridge over the track, her heels clacking against the stone in time to the rhythm of the wheels of the case. By the door to the one room station house, she stopped. "You."

Standing by the stairs to the parking lot with his hands behind his back was the man who’d stolen her heart and trampled it until there was nothing left. Jamie, her husband.

And yet, her old ticker still stuttered.

Damn. She had hoped to have at least a few hours to steel her nerves before confronting him. But no, here he stood, tall and big and so tempting. Her gentle giant with his well-trimmed beard and his wild red hair hanging too long.

"Hello, love." His smooth voice enveloped her like a perfect summer dress.

All she’d learned about herself over the last six months came to her brain. She was her own woman—confident, sexy, independent. He had lost the right to call her love when he'd all but forgotten about 
her…back then. When she had needed his strong arms to hold her up, he jumped into work at the family’s pub and left her to deal with her pain alone.

Well? What do you think? Let me know!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A New Review On An Old Book!

Squeeeee! I just read this review on my second Honor Guard story, Fractured Paradise. It still tickles me to hear what people love about my books and I'm thinking that will never change. I'm so thankful to anyone who leaves an honest review anywhere other readers can see it!

Rachel is a headstrong woman determined to renovate her grandmother's house. Aidan is the man determined to buy it from her.

What I loved about this book is both Rachel and Aidan each had reasons beyond their own personal needs to buy and keep the house, and there were so many emotions that accompanied the reasoning: guilt, love & grief. The romance was steamy, and got hot. Then the author threw in a bit of danger and drama, and overall it was a very nice quick read that had emotional depth I could relate to with both Aidan and Rachel. A wonderful "beach read."

Thank you Carly Fall!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Non-Fiction Friday!

Welcome to Non-Fiction Friday! This is where I talk about my "real world", outside of my writing. I may eventually talk about non-fiction books I'm reading, but not today!

I'll be on a semi-vacation in just 2 weeks and 4 days! I say semi because I'll still be doing a bit of work. (Gotta promote the new book, of course!) BUT I do plan to be taking a break from writing and I plan to limit my online time to a certain amount each day and stick to it. I've got plans to go out with friends, hang with family and see some people I haven't seen in ages. I'm also planning to be a book nerd. I've got 3 books lined up so far for my vacation.

I bought One Summer by David Baldacci at my school's Scholastic book fair. I do like his work, the back cover blurb sounded good and I love the cover.
I'm also reading a copy of Can't Stop Believing by Jodi Thomas. I worked with Jodi when she appeared on my group blog, Get Lost in a Story before. She graciously sent me a copy of her latest book. I've read one other one, loved it, and reviewed it, so I'm excited about this one too!

This last book, A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson, I found at a local book store, The Book Stop. My mom and I LOVE going to book stores together and we were in picking up a book she'd ordered. I promised myself I wouldn't buy anything new because I want and need to read some of the ones I have waiting for me, but I kept walking back to this book. I figured, at that point, that I'd regret it if I didn't buy it. Plus, it was on sale! So I bought it and decided it would be one of my vacation books! 
So, have you read any of these? Am I in for a treat? If you haven't read them and would like to find out more about any of them, I've included a link to the authors' web pages for you.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Way Back Wednesday!

Welcome back for Way Back Wednesday!
In 2010, I quit my teaching job. I thought I was doing the right thing. I expected to be under employed for a while and then I thought I'd find the perfect place for me to be. I didn't intend to teach. I wasn't sure what I wanted.
I had a lot of "growing up" to do.
Yesterday I signed a contract to teach 6th grade English (my favorite grade) for the 2013-2014 school year. I'm officially a salaried employee again. Or at least I will be come August. To say I'm thrilled is an understatement. I'm pretty sure teaching is where I'm meant to be. I'm in an environment that is supportive with so much to look forward to.
Many people will say I was stupid to do what I did (quitting without a job to go to), but you know what? I don't. I needed that change. It was the right decision for me at the time with what I knew. Yes, I would quit again if I had a chance to relive the last 3 years, but I would plan better, though.
Now, I feel I'm come full circle. I'm smarter, in that I know so much more about myself now. My gutsy, crazy decision in the summer of 2010 has done a lot for me as a writer, a human and as a woman. And THAT is a treasure I wouldn't trade for the world.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Talent Tuesday!

Welcome to Talent Tuesday! Today Gilli Allan shares her talent with us. Enjoy!

How My Art Fits Into My Life
My parents were both artists - my mother an enthusiastic amateur painter and my father a graphic designer, in advertising.  I am the middle child of three.  Before I had any sense of my own ability I was told I was “good at art”.  At infant school, when Miss Lawrence - my first year teacher - went round the class, asking everyone what they wanted to be when they grew up, I was aware of her surprise when I confidently asserted that I wanted to be a commercial artist.  
I also began to write “novels” before making the transition to secondary school, but this hobby was not taken seriously by my parents. Their interest and enthusiasm was captivated by the doodles and illustrations with which I embellished these growing tomes. They didn’t dismiss my writing, they simply ignored it, assuming it was silly, childish stuff and that I was headed for a career in art.  I accepted this without question.  Art was the only subject at school that I was unarguably good at, so I never for a moment thought that writing as career was open to me.  For one thing, I’d never finished one of the many novels I’d begun. And for another.....  Well, published writers were clever, educated people weren’t they? They went to Oxford or Cambridge and then worked in journalism or TV.  I left school at 16 with just enough exam passes to get me into art school (I now realise I am on the dyslexia spectrum) and I stopped writing.

After a few false starts, I eventually landed my dream job, working as an illustrator in an advertising design studio.  In due course I went freelance.  But advertising is a very pressurised world.  Jobs were typically wanted yesterday, and sitting for hours, or even days on end with nothing to do, and then working through the night on a job that had to be in by 9 am the following morning was not an uncommon experience. When I married and had my son I very much enjoyed being at home.  My only artistic outlet was to sign myself up for life classes (studying the human figure) which had been my favourite part of my art school curriculum. I started writing again when my son was four, hoping I could earn money at home by writing for Mills & Boon.  How difficult could that be?   Ha ha ha ha ha......  Of course, I now realise it is very difficult.
By the time I’d finished Just Before Dawn I knew the story was too challenging and off-beat to interest Mills & Boon, and when they rejected it I wasn’t surprised.  But a small publisher had just been established.  Love Stories, characterised at the time as “The thinking woman’s Mills & Boon”, were actively looking for books to fulfil a perceived demand for more unconventional, un-clich├ęd romantic fiction.  They published Just Before Dawn, and in due course, published my second novel, Desires & Dreams.  They already had a designer but they accepted my offer to produce my own cover art. But my publisher folded after about 5 years.  Unable to fight their corner in a fast-changing publishing world, Love Stories couldn’t achieve the promotion and distribution necessary to ensure success for itself or its writers.  (Some years later these two books were republished in paperback, by a POD publisher, again using my own artwork.)


I continued going to life classes and I continued to produce our yearly Christmas card, which I’d done for the family ever since I was 17. And I would always do small art jobs for friends and family, if asked.  But with two books published, I now thought of myself as “a writer” first and an artist second.  I was confident of finding another publisher but from then on I languished, unable even to interest an agent.  I wrote what I’d always written - challenging, edgy relationship fiction, always with a love story at the core - but not conventional “Romance”.  When the e-revolution began I wondered what this could mean for me.

Christmas 2010, my husband bought me a Kindle and with the realisation that anyone could self-publish to this device I began to investigate this option.  But, I am very un-technical and poor at absorbing and understanding instructions, particularly if couched in jargon and acronyms - a typical dyslexic trait - so getting my book, Torn, up onto Amazon Kindle was a very steep learning curve for me and involved a few false starts.  But one of the more enjoyable aspects of self-e-publishing is that again I can design my own covers.  For Torn, e-published in 2011, I went to Bigstock to find a royalty-free photograph.  I wanted an image of a barbed wire fence in a countryside setting. The image I found conveyed all I wanted to say about the story. The barbed wire in the foreground is a barrier to the idyllic sunlit field in the background. I designed the layout. This book is now also available as a paperback, published with CreateSpace.

Life Class - e-published in 2012 - was a title waiting for a story. To research one aspect of it I attended a sculpture workshop, where I took the photograph which I used for the cover design (first obtaining the permission of the nude model!). My son helped me alter the image and to achieve the effect now seen.  Life Class is also now available in paperback. In a few months (I don’t yet have a publication date) my book Fly or Fall will be coming out.  I have gone back to one of the royalty-free photo warehouses for the image, but I will be putting my own stamp onto the finished design. 

(All the images reproduced here are copyright, and may not be reproduced without my permission.)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sneak Peek Sunday!

It's time again for Sneak Peek Sunday! A bunch of authors share six paragraphs from a published work of theirs or a work-in-progress. To read more about Sneak Peek Sunday, visit this website. As for the sneak peek into my own work.....

In 3 weeks and 3 days, my next book will be available! Carry Me Home is the name of it and I'm soooooo excited! Early reviews are saying good things! So, as I'm working on promo ideas for it, I've decided to share snippets with you from Carry Me Home each week for the next 4 Sundays. Today's snippet is the opening of the book. I hope you like it! Please let me know what you think!

Mary MacDougall tossed the edge of her scarf over her shoulder and reached for her suitcase handle in the overhead compartment of the train. Six months was a long time to be away from everyone she knew and loved. Much had changed with her. Would anyone notice? Or would she fail and return to the woman she used to be?

With her case in her hands, she descended the stairs. When she stepped onto the Glenhalish platform, her stomach curled. Sunshine brushed across her face. She turned up to it, closed her eyes, and inhaled the scents of her home. Sweet heather and freshly cut grass from somewhere.

Aye, she loved Edinburgh, but Glenhalish held her soul.

Had held it until she’d run away in the dead of winter.

As the train closed doors and chugged onward, Mary reopened her eyes. She’d be reboarding in four days’ time, with everything she owned and the signed papers that granted her freedom.



Friday, May 10, 2013

Non-Fiction Friday!

Welcome to Non-Fiction Friday! Have I got news for you!

Remember earlier this week when I talked about my 10th graders discovering my pen name and my books, my email to the bosses AND my bosses' reaction? Well, even MORE good things happened. What, you ask?

That same day, Monday, 1 of the bosses came to the teachers' lounge and asked to speak to me privately. (I've been a full-time writing tutor, an hourly employee since January.) I jokingly asked if I was in trouble and she said yes, but in a joking way. Well, we went out to the hallway and she asked......

Wait for it........


Did I want a SALARIED teaching position for next school year? I'd be teaching middle school English. Of course I said yes, and immediately I started thinking about all the things I could do with a salary. Then she said it would be teaching 6th grade and I'm sure my face lit up. 6th grade is my favorite age group to teach! (They're still young enough you can scare them, but they're not quite as obnoxious as 7th graders. LOLOL!)

So, I can FINALLY be a full-fledged teacher again, I'll have money to invest in my writing career, I'll have money for vacations, and I'll be back on track to getting back to my own condo. I've come full-circle since I quit my teaching job 3 years ago. I've learned A LOT about the world and myself and I'm ready to be ALL I can be!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Real World Crashing Into Writing World...Update

Hey, everyone! If you read my blog on Monday you know how my teaching career and my writing career crashed together thanks to a bunch of 10th graders. For all the details, visit here.

So, here's the update:

I did send the email to 2 of the assistant principals on Monday morning. I just told them that we'd been talking about drafting in class, then publishing in general and then me specifically. For the record, they were both supportive of my writing career when I first told them about it just after I got hired. They think it's cool that I have another career and that I write books.

The next time I saw one of the ladies, she walked toward me and said, "Don't be silly." I explained I just wanted it to be officially documented that I let them know. She then said, "Have you seen some of the stuff they read?" We left it at that.

Later in the day, when she asked to speak to me in private (out of the teachers' lounge), I said, "Am I in trouble?" If the principal hadn't been walking by at that moment she was going to tease me and say, "Yes, don't be spreading your smut all around!"

So, with the adults, I'm okay. I have a good feeling that if any parents DID have a problem, the assistant principals would have my back.

As for the kids......

Nobody's said anything since Monday. I've seen the class twice. One of the kids talked to me today about writing and teaching, about being an introvert too. We got on to talking about Facebook and I told her to send me a friend request (to my personal FB, one I've got a lot of former students and parents on). I told her she'd have to wait until she's 18 for me to accept a friend request to my Alexa FB account.

Seems I worried for nothing. But at least I did what I felt was right. Thanks for ALL your support, both on here and in private emails. It was GREAT knowing I had that many people behind me!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Way Back Wednesday!

Welcome to Way Back Wednesday!

In 1984, I turned 13 years old. One of my favorite songs at this time was The Warrior by the band Scandal. Everytime I hear it as an adult, the same event comes to mind. I was at a roller skating rink and I think it was for someone's birthday. Or at least a bunch of us were there for the afternoon. I was never a very confident skater, but I wanted to be and I tried. This song came on at one point, I loved it and started singing it, and I was determined to skate around the rink.

As I said, I wasn't very good. In fact, I was horrible. (I almost broke my mom's arm once when she was trying to help me become a better skater, but that's a story for another day.) While the song played on, my feet flew out from under me, I fell backwards and banged my head on the wooden floor.

I never went skating again.
The Warrior by Scandal

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Talent Tuesday!

Welcome to Talent Tuesday! Today's guest is historical author Rosemary Morris. Take it away, Rosemary!

First of all thank you Alexa for inviting me to be here today.
I am a historical novelist, living in Hertfordshire England. Four of my historical novels have been published by MuseItUppublishing as e-books.

 Far Beyond Rubies and Tangled Love set in the reign of Queen Anne Stuart 1702 -1714, and Sunday’s Child and False Pretences set in Regency England.

 The novels are available from

kobo and elsewhere.

Apart from reading historical fiction and non-fiction, visiting places of historical interest and writing, I am a keen organic gardener. So much so that I included a recipe for my favourite curry at the end of Far Beyond Rubies; and, one day, I plan to write a novel about gardening in England throughout the ages.

Unfortunately, last year was a disaster. Heavy rain rotted my strawberries, and the biggest slugs I’ve ever seen were voracious. This year there has been heavy snow, icy cold weather, bitter winds and rain. The soil is too cold and water-logged to sow seeds or plant seedlings.

In spite of these setbacks I am hoping to harvest herbs, soft fruit, stone fruit and vegetables. Slowly but surely the weather is improving. I have chitted early potatoes i.e. put potatoes in a light, warm place to sprout.  Some of the sprouts are so tall that I hope the potatoes will thrive when I plant them out, some in containers in the greenhouse and some outdoors at the end of next week when warmer weather is predicted. I am now about to chit my second early potatoes and in a couple of weeks will chit maincrop potatoes. When choosing which varieties to grow I look for those resistant to potato blight and scab.

 I am writing this in April while really looking forward to warm weather but while waiting for it I have sown seeds in heated propagators which are on the kitchen windowsill. There are eight varieties of tomatoes, tiny cherry ones, delicious small yellow ones called Idli and several types for salad or cooking. Fingers crossed this year blight will not attack the plants. I’ve also sown a variety of squash called Sweet Dumpling, pumpkin, courgettes aka zucchini, and green peppers called Big Boy.

This week I’ll be sowing spinach, New Zealand Spinach, cauliflower, curly Kale and other kales, either in the greenhouse or outdoors. I’ll also be sowing cucumbers and lettuce in the greenhouse and carrots and parsnips outdoors. It is late to sow parsnips, but the seeds should produce small, sweet roots.

Yesterday I walked round the garden and noted the rhubarb is pushing its way up through the earth. Last year the crop was not very good so I’m going to move it to soil enriched with manure. Hopefully there will be a good enough crop to provide rhubarb pies, rhubarb crumbles and rhubarb chutney which is delicious in cheese sandwiches.  The buds on my apple, pear and plum trees are swelling but my peach tree is not doing as well as I had hoped. Every year I grow something different, two years ago I bought the disease resistant peach tree and planted it in a large terracotta pot. So far it has yielded only one delicious peach. Maybe I should plant it in the ground. Last year I planted blueberries in pots of ericaceous compost; they have grown in size and cropped fairly well. As for my soft fruit, the redcurrants and blackberries crop profusely. Redcurrant jelly aka jam made after straining the fruit is delicious, and like rhubarb blackberries are very versatile. I still have enough blackberries in the freezer to make another blackberry and apple pie. My raspberries look promising but, this year I need to plant a new strawberry bed. I also plan to buy a dwarf nectarine which I can grow in the greenhouse. It might do better undercover than my peach tree has done outdoors.

 Of course, basil needs warmth to thrive but my other herbs are doing well. Even in the worst weather I have rosemary, sage and thyme to flavour soups and stews, and a variety of other herbs which I use medicinally and to make herb teas. My favourite herb tea is black peppermint tea. I pluck a generous handful of leaves, bruise them with a rolling pin to release the flavour, put them in a teapot and pour boiling water on them to release the flavour, allow it to stand for two or three minutes before straining it and adding organic honey. I also like lemon-verbena tea made and sweetened in the same way.

Every year, some crops flourish and others are a disaster for various reasons. For example, two years ago my plum tree was loaded with honey-sweet fruit and last year it produced nothing. However, in spite of battles against slugs, wood pigeons from the woods behind my house which peck at my greens and squirrels that steal my fruit I usually have enough surplus home grown fruit and vegetables to give away. (One year, to my astonishment,) I even saw a grey squirrel picking my brussel sprouts and burying them!) However I am always optimistic when the growing season begins, and later, even at the coldest times of the year, either have something fresh to eat straight from the garden or hone-grown from the freezer. At the moment my curly kale has survived freezing conditions. Sometimes I strip the kale from the stalks, shred it add a little sea salt and then steam it. Next I add sesame seeds to a little olive oil, stir fry them very briefly and add the kale which I stir fry for a minute. It is delicious with a little lemon squeezed onto it.

Why do I go to so much trouble to grow my own? There are several reasons. My garden is organic, and I believe organic food is beneficial for health. Freshly picked fruit and vegetables taste delicious. Herbs add flavour to almost anything. I enjoy deciding what to cook and going into the garden to gather it. Also, I am a strict vegetarian, which means I do not eat meat, fish or eggs, but I am not a vegan, I enjoy organic dairy products.

Even if you do not have a garden I suggest you experiment by growing a few tomatoes, lettuce, or anything else you fancy in containers. I’ve even seen lettuce growing in old trainers!

By the time you read this I hope my garden will be fruitful – in other words, my very own little Garden of Eden.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Real World Crashes Into Writing World


Most of you know I'm an educator in my "real world". I taught grade school for 9 years, substitute taught for 2 1/2, and I've been a Writing Tutor since January. Some of my coworkers know I'm a published romance writer. Some have talked about supporting me and buying my books. Some think it's really cool. I've given out bookmarks and talked a bit about the writing life to them. (Some more than others, just like closer friends hear more details.)

As for the kids, I've talked about being a published writer and usually tie it in to their brainstorming and drafting their essays. I don't ever tell them my pen name and I don't give them the names of my books. I'm not comfortable talking about my romance books with the kids.

I'm teaching this 10th grade English class that basically writes essays. I was asked to teach it a few weeks ago for the rest of the school year. Of course I said yes. I'm hoping the school will give me a salaried teaching position for next year and I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to show them what I can do.

This past Friday in the 10th grade class, we started off talking about the testing they'll be doing next week, the rough draft essay that they were writing for me, and the final draft I expect next week. I mentioned about how many drafts I do of each book on my own (to show them drafts are a GOOD thing)....and that led to a chunk of time of me answering questions about publishing in general. I talked about the editing process and how many drafts I do for each book with editors too. I tied it all back into what I do with them and for the school, too. I did not reveal my pen name or my book titles even though they asked a lot and tried to get me to slip up. I explained I hav a pen name to keep my two lives separate. (I didn't mention about the romance aspect of my books. I just say that I write about crimes and justice, which IS true.)

After school, I was tutoring a younger class with another teacher. A handful of the 10th graders came up to the door and slapped a piece of paper to the window in the door that said "We know". I excused myself and went out to the hallway. They were excited and bouncing and exclaimed, "We know your pen name!" I asked what they thought it was and.....they were right. I asked how they found out and they said they'd googled my real name and it linked up to my pen name fairly quickly.

I was a bit freaked out because I don't want it to be (or become) a problem. I've never been in this situation before. I asked them to be respectful and to not make a big deal out of it since I want to keep the two worlds separate. (Because let's face it....not all parents will be thrilled with a romance writer teaching their kid to write.) I thought about emailing my bosses and explaining that some of the kids know my pen name and how they found it just so they're aware and so they don't think I'm spending my days in the classroom talking only about my writing. I'm thinking I might still send that email early this morning.

But really, I haven't done anything wrong. The kids are tech savvy. They found me online. I didn't give them any information. I didn't talk about my books or the scenes. I'm still teaching what I'm supposed to be teaching, and, hell, my books are something to be proud of, right? They illustrate healthy, emotional, adult relationships...relationships we should all be striving for.

What do you think?