I’m always curious as to where writers get their ideas for their stories, and so I asked Jennifer Kacey, author of Final Surrender, where she found her inspiration. She came up not one, but five things that helped inspire her book.
Over to you Jennifer...
Everyone wants to know what inspired a book. I love that question. It’s a time when I get to relive certain moments in the book and give you guys the insider moments of WHY I wrote certain things. I draw inspiration from a lot of different places and people and instances of perfection. These are from current happenings to things that happened years and YEARS ago.
OK, so I’m going to tell you about 5 things that inspired certain parts of Final Surrender.
OMG this is so fun!!
OK, OK, OK. Totally professional now.
1.The car scene when Clay takes Angela home from her ice cream “date”. There’s this moment in the car. This…pause…that happens. One of those moments that you know will change your life. I had that moment a very long time ago. *grins*
2.The picture over the fireplace in Angela’s loft that comes up several times, I saw a TV show about the artist. Touched me deeply. Knew I had to showcase her in a book!!
3.When Angela wakes Clay up from his nightmare in his apartment the night of her prom. The need, the immediacy of that moment, the ridiculously hot sex – yeah – might have been from a personal experience in college. Might. Have. Been.
4.The story being set in New York and Angela being a fashion designer came from watching seasons of Project Runway. I’ve loved some of the genius designers I’ve seen over the years. How eclectic their styles can be and how one thing can inspire an entire collection. Or the designer themselves. So when I knew Angela was going to make it in the fashion world she had to be down the street from Diane von Furstenberg’s studio. In December of 2013 my parents and I took miniman to New York for the first time and we went on a Final Surrender tour. We had a driver and we had him take us to all the places I wrote into the book. It was epic!!
5.Angela’s Thinking Spot!!! My mom had a friend that had a thinking spot in a park when she lived in TX. Somewhere she would go to think and to reflect and make gigantic decisions. One time the man she loved showed up to talk to her. That HAD to go in a book!!! And this was that book!! Every time I read about Angela’s thinking spot I think of the woman that inspired it.
So the moral of the story and my best advice to authors out there is write what you know!!! I LOVE love stories that are believable and relevant and above all not perfect. People have issues, and baggage and stuff they have to work through and overcome. I like it when my romance does the same. Let your experiences influence your characters. It allows for an amazing story to unfold on your computer and it can help you work through things that are bothering you as well.
And an added bonus? It’s much cheaper than therapy.*snicker*
Ten years ago, Angela Meyers told everyone she went to New York to find herself. It was a lie. She fled from the aftermath of one hot night with Clay Waters. A night filled with wet heat, all-consuming releases…then his regret. Now, with a stalker threatening to destroy her career, there’s only one man she trusts to protect her. The man she still loves, hates, needs with every breath she takes. It’s not that Clay never craved his best friend’s younger sister. With a ticket to boot camp burning a hole in his pocket, he couldn’t allow himself to love her. The moment he lays eyes on her again, the old need—to take down her tightly wound hair, press her long, lean body to his—surges inside him stronger than ever. But this is no ordinary bodyguard assignment. The best way to identify the voice in Angela’s shadow is to lure it into the light of day. Even if it means convincing her to trust him with her heart…and surrendering his own.
"You need to show him the park,” Mark commanded, as if somehow reading her mind and finding the one spot she didn’t want to share.
She turned as best she could and shot him her best Go to Hell look.
“What?” he asked with complete ignorance. “He needs to know where you go when you want to be alone. You love that place and you’re there all the time.”
“Yes, and it’s where I go to be alone, Mark.”
“What park?” Clay asked.
Angela opened her mouth to tell him it didn’t matter, when Mark butted right in. “Madison Square Park right off Park Avenue and East 26th Street.”
“Mark, shut up!” Angela barked.
“No, I’m not going to let you sabotage this, Ang. Clay needs to know where you are at all times, so you aren’t going to be able to just flit anywhere by yourself anymore. At least not until we get a handle on this.”
“The only situation I have at the moment is an overbearing brother who doesn’t know when to back off.”
“Yes, you definitely have that,” he admitted with a smirk.
“The fact that you think this is a good thing is really starting to piss me off.” She rolled her shoulders, trying to lessen the tension building again.
After a minute of silence, Clay asked, “So, where do you grocery shop?” Obviously trying to change the subject so he didn’t have to separate the siblings next to him.
“Meat district, west of the island, on 14th Street, straight down from the studio.”
“Food. I’m hungry,” Mark admitted.
“You’re always hungry, Mark. Do you not eat at home?”
On cue his stomach growled and he patted it, as if to quell the rising beast within.
“Where are we now?” Mark asked no one in particular.
“In Midtown on Park Avenue. Why?” Angela wanted to know.
“Meli Melo is right up the next block. Let’s get takeout and we’ll go back to your apartment and eat, so I can crash early and get packed since I’m leaving pretty early tomorrow morning.”
Angela’s heart stopped, not certain why she thought her brother would be staying longer. Obviously he didn’t know she needed a chaperone.
Clay asked, “What is a melli marshmallow anyways?”
Mark threw his head back and laughed as Angela gave a small snort and said, “You are a Texan, huh?”
“Born and branded,” Clay admitted with no humor whatsoever.
“Meli Melo is a restaurant with the best food.”
“That’s what you say about every restaurant in New York.”
“Yeah, but this time it’s true. What about you, Ang, you up for it?”
“That’s fine with me. I’m not really hungry, so just order me something little and you guys get whatever you want.”
“Clay, what about you?” Mark asked, completely pleased he was going to get his way.
“Sure, as long as I don’t have to eat raw fish, back home we call that bait, so other than that, I’m game.”
“Sweet, head over between 29th and 30th on Madison.”
While the cabbie maneuvered through traffic, Angela glanced at the clock and couldn’t see where the time had gone.
Clay had already been there more than five hours.
As they pulled up in front of the restaurant, Mark asked, “You guys coming in?” as they all exited the cab.
Angela paid, before Mark could even get his wallet out then said, “No, just order me a salad and some crepes.”
“Just order me something that’s not rabbit food. I’ll stay with Angela.”
His eyes raked over, but she kept her gaze on the passing traffic, trying not to notice.
“’Kay, see you guys in a few,” Mark agreed as he entered the restaurant, more or less drooling on the patrons trying to leave.
Angela took a deep breath, trying to calm her still racing heart.
Unable to help herself any longer, she stole a glance in Clay’s direction.
He caught her looking and smirked.
Being taunted really wasn’t what she needed, so she turned and faced him head-on. She may have added a little bit more sass to her walk as she sauntered in his direction. Let’s see how he felt if he was put on stage to answer personal questions.
“So when did you get the scar on your cheek, Clay?”
The instant scowl on his face was all she needed to know.
She looked at the ground before glancing back at his gorgeous face. “You don’t have to answer if it’s private.”
“We’re a bit past private at this point, don’t you think, Angela?”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Jennifer Kaceyis a writer, mother, and business owner living with her family in Texas. She sings in the shower, plays piano in her dreams, and has to have a different color of nail polish every week. She’s the Amazon top seller and award winning author of the Members Only Series and the Surrender Series along with several stand alone novels and novellas. The best advice she’s ever been given? Find the real you and never settle for anything less.
A story may have an awesome setting or interesting characters, but it’s the plot that runs the story. If your plot isn’t well-thought, what holds your story together? What stops the reader from putting your book down?
Every plot needs conflict and a resolution. Create a plot to pull your characters together. Give them obstacles to jump over. Promote tension and emotion, and push your plot forward. Then develop a satisfying ending.
The most popular romance clichés/tropes are: second chances, secret babies, the billionaire, good girl/bad boy, revenge, best friend’s sister, marriage of convenience, opposites attract. The list goes on and on.
The key to using a romance cliché is to make it your own. Put your own voice into the plot. Add in twists and turns. Who doesn’t enjoy a story that keeps you guessing? You want your readers to say, “I didn’t see that coming!”
While the ending of a romance book is predictable with its happy-ever-after, take the reader on a journey to get there. We all love to read the romance clichés, but don’t let your reader expect what comes next. Make your plot unique and hold your reader’s attention all the way to the end.
Katrina has one goal—follow through on her late-grandmother’s last request, to oversee the renovation of Katrina’s childhood home. The handsome contractor is distracting, but she refuses to be swayed by his deep brown eyes and broad shoulders. A summer romance is not part of the plan. When the truth is discovered about her family’s past, Katrina fears her own future is in jeopardy. She doesn’t have faith, but the twists that lie ahead may just change her mind.
Nick refuses to accept help from anyone, until Katrina gives him an ultimatum—one he can’t refuse. Her renovation project will save his business, but puts his heart on the line. Can he convince Katrina to stay or will a promise to her late-grandmother pull her away? With a little twist of Faith, the odds may be in his favor.
The man shifted his weight.
Suddenly, the air cooled around her. For the first time since she spied him in her home, Katrina stared face-to-face at her intruder. Past the pain, she saw a strong jaw line and a chin framed by the shadow of a goatee, or as they say in Paris, a French beard. A perfect set of lips held a thin moustache and his brown layered hair fell just above his chin. Dark brown eyes kept her gaze captivated. Johnny Depp has broken into my house.
His face didn’t belong to someone who made a living from breaking-and-entering. This face belonged to a refined and hard-working man. She could tell there was more to the story behind those eyes, but the instant she stared at his lips, her thoughts turned to mush.
He stumbled to stand, leaning on the wall for support. Johnny Depp kicked the wood, sending it rolling to the other side of the room.
Katrina, now believing he meant no harm, accepted the hand he offered to help her from the floor. She ignored the tingling sensation running up her arm, knowing the fuss couldn’t be from the strong hand holding hers.
He inhaled a deep breath and opened his mouth to speak, but shook his head instead. Frowning, he pointed a finger toward the card on the floor and limped to the exit, slamming the door behind him.
She bent to pick up the card, which read, Donaldson and Porter, Architecture and Contracting, Nick Porter. Her shoulders dropped. “Damn!”
Katrina now had less than twenty-four hours to master the art of groveling.
An avid reader since childhood, Darlene loved to put a pencil to paper and plot out stories of her own. She writes heartwarming contemporary romances with a focus on plot-driven page-turners. When Darlene isn’t writing, editing, or reading, she enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, and Yellow Lab.
I asked author Cara Carnes how her love of travelling, photography, and reading have influenced her work. I hope you enjoy reading her answer as much as I did.
Seeing The World Through A Lens
I grew up in a very small town in south Texas. It was so small we had to trek almost half an hour to the grocery store. The education system stopped at the eighth grade. Anything beyond that required a voyage by bus to a town 20 miles away. The lens for the world back then was very small, a finite point on the map.
I became enthralled with travel from an early age. My grandparents took us on two week long treks during the summer time a few summers in a row. The RV was cramped with six people, but we drove our way through every state (except Hawaii, because my grandma said we could go “only when I good, big highway existed).
As I grew up my thirst to not only view the world but capture the moment through the lens of my camera began. Though life tends to halt my desire for travel and photography, I’ve taken my passion for those two hobbies and spun them into my writing as much as I can. As the world within a series unfolds in my head I try hard to provide a unique setting, an adventure for the reader who may be like me—thirsty for a different place than their norm, yet trapped within a day job and a mountain of responsibilities.
With each world I create the adventure becomes an immediate challenge. How does the heroine see the setting? How different is it from the hero’s perspective?
In A Shadow’s Embrace (and the Indigo Shadows series) the setting isn’t a lush, exotic location filled with lush rolling mountains and wild creatures cavorting happily. It’s a gritty, dark existence for most of the characters in the streets of Chicago—a not so great part of town actually. While it isn’t a pretty postcard world, the setting is a very active part of the series for me. The hindrance its harshness presents is a very real presence within the heroine’s daily life as she helps the psychic street children with no other support system in place except each other.
It’s been an exciting challenge to unravel this world and it’s renewed my passion for seeing the uniqueness every crevice of locations around the world offer as a setting for a book. There’s vast potential in what can be done and I’ve had so much fun crafting this series. As the next books unravel the rest of the journey for the Shadow Elite Operatives fighting the injustices psychics face, they’ll battle adversaries in the wilds of South America and in the underground networks around the world.
I hope you all can take the journey with me.
Personally, my bucket list of places to go is extensive. On the top of the list is New Zealand. What about you?
On the run from evil, her only hope is the Shadows.
Devyn James escaped hell once. A rare technopath, she eventually broke out of the genetics testing facility with the help of the Shadow Elites—General Conver’s super soldiers, who rebelled and now fought to protect psychically enhanced humans.
For the past few months Devyn, or Indy as she’s known on the street, has covertly passed intel to the SEO. Even though the street doesn’t trust the Shadows, she does. They rescued her once and she knows they’re the only ones who will be able to save her from Conver and figure out what she uncovered.
Dagan is determined to save the female being chased by Conver and his squadron. He soon discovers her identity and vows he’ll do anything to keep her protected—even if it’s from herself.
Together they discover everything is possible when you trust A Shadow’s Embrace.
Excerpt Turning away from the cause of the discord, she telepathically accessed the surveillance system. So far it had been quiet.
Almost too quiet. Paranoia was her middle name where Conver was concerned. The fact that her team was out there gathering intel to cover her ass made her stomach pitch.
“I’m thinking we need to get a couple of things straight.” The husky whisper, its proximity, startled her. Warm tingles spread beneath her skin where he touched her upper arm.
“I’m thinking I’ve heard enough of what you have to say.” She should pull away, demand he respect her personal space, but she inhaled his warm, musky scent. Woodsy vanilla. His breath tickled her cheek.
“If you think I don’t respect what you and your crew do, you’re crazy. It takes balls, brass ones, to put yourself on radar to help others. Y’all do that without the tactical training we’ve got behind us.” He squeezed her arm slightly. “Not a single Shadow I know isn’t terrified at the thought of Conver getting his hands on you or someone in your group. We’ve seen what he’s capable of. It’s worse than you could imagine.”
“I don’t have to imagine it.” She turned and held his gaze, even though the fiery obsidian depths made her thoughts falter. “You weren’t the only group held. You might’ve endured more, had to do more black ops than we could imagine, but I assure you the cages were the same, the restrictions the same. The punishments the same.”
His gaze darkened, narrowed. “You were in a facility? You weren’t in the halfway houses or camps? Which facility? Where?”
Author Bio: Born in small-town Texas, Cara Carnes was a princess, a pirate, fashion model, actress, rock star and Jon Bon Jovi’s wife all before the age of 13. In reality, her fascination for enthralling worlds took seed somewhere amidst a somewhat dull day job and a wonderful life filled with family and friends. When she’s not cemented to her chair, Cara loves travelling, photography and reading. More information about Cara can be found at www.caracarnes.com
Overshadowed by the beauty of her older sister, Lillian is better known as the other Tisdale; unremarkable and unsure how she will ever deliver on the promise of her family's name.
He’s a rake in need of reforming…
Will Colton leads a frivolous existence, embracing notoriety instead of managing his family’s fortune. Determined to forget his financial burden and his father’s growing resentment, he maintains a lifestyle dedicated to pleasure and self-indulgence. When Will is invited to the Tisdale estate for an extended holiday, he never expects to become friends with the forgettable Lillian. But when a family secret comes to light, he must choose between leaving London and protecting the honor of one woman or staying and risking the reputation of another.
Upon his return, Will finds the girl he left behind has come out of the shadows and into her own. Lillian’s finally the center of attention, and not all of it good. With his own reputation in tatters, can a reformed rake lure her out of the hands of London's bachelors and back into his own arms? Can he escape his past and reclaim her heart, or has he lost her forever?
He was a writer after all and had an unparalleled skill for making up stories. How was this any different from the others he’d led her to believe?
“Is that all you have to say for yourself?”
“You want more? I thought that should be enough.”
“I don’t want more, but I do want the truth.”
“What I’m telling you is the truth.”
“Why should I ever believe a thing you say again?” she asked, jutting her chin.
The hopefulness that was written on his face, was immediately erased. “Because I’m not who I used to be.”
Lilly felt tears stinging her eyes. It had been years since she’d last allowed herself to cry.
Two to be exact.
“And,” he continued. “Because I still care for you. I never wanted to leave you …”
“But you did.”
“I had no choice.”
“Of course you did. There’s always choices and you chose to leave me-”
“You’re right,” he interrupted. He hadn’t taken his eyes off her, the intensity behind his gaze making her feel as if she could very well melt into a puddle at any moment. “I was presented with an opportunity to redeem myself, so I took it. I knew it meant losing you, but it was the only way to make everything right. You would have never been happy with the person I was, not like you could be with the man I am now.
His honesty was shocking, but he spoke with such passion that she found herself falling for him all over again.
Still, she would not, could not, let herself be swayed. “I believed you before, Will. I refuse to be made a fool again.”
His body grew stiff and his face turned to stone before her very eyes. “I understand,” he said curtly, his voice tense. Will reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out a letter. “This is for you.” He held his hand out and waited for her to take it.
She looked down at the foolscap as if it would reach out and bite her should she make a move.
“Just take it. In case one day you change your mind.”
Lilly tentatively reached out and took the note.
“Good bye, Lilly.”
She heard the words, but did not watch him as he said them. Instead, she stared down at her feet, at his boots, cracked leather worn with age—anything and everything but him.
The ground below her started to blur, colors mingling together like watercolors on a piece of canvas.
The carefully restrained tears had finally breached their dam.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Jessica Jefferson makes her home in northern Indiana, or as she likes to think of it—almost Chicago. She is heavily inspired by classic sweeping, historical romance novels, but aims to take those key emotional elements and inject a fresh blend of quick dialogue and comedy. She invites you to visit her at jessicajefferson.com and read more of her random romance musings.
Links and social media:
http://www.JessicaJefferson.com and http://www.embracingromance.com
Like me at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jessica-Jefferson/545243542195152
Shy accountant Veronica Bass is determined to live it up a little before settling down with a perfectly respectable man to live a perfectly respectable life, just the way her mother wants.
So when rock star Diego Diaz flashes his bedroom eyes at her during a wedding reception, Veronica swallows her shyness and leads him to the nearest hotel room. Now this total sex god keeps popping up in her life, and she finds herself telling some not-so-little white lies to keep him interested.
Diego’s world evolves around music, women throwing themselves at him, and having fun. His lifestyle hasn’t allowed him to find the right girl to settle down with until now, but his own secret stands in the way of forming a lasting relationship with Veronica.
Is their love destined to last for only a New York minute?
“Hello.” His voice reverberated down to her core.
She gulped her martini to gain more liquid courage, but rather than bravery, the unthinkable happened. She swallowed the cherry that swam in her drink and the tickle in her throat drove her into a coughing frenzy.
She tried to smile through it, to let him know all was fine and she could still be the sexy seductress. As his large, firm hand patted her back, she fanned the air and grabbed his tumbler, downing the thick liquid.
After a last cough, she cleared her throat one more time. “Whoa. What was that?”
“Whiskey. Neat.” He grinned, his gorgeous caramel eyes lit with an inner glow. “You okay?”
A warmth spread over her cheeks. Holy freaking embarrassment. “It was strong.”
“I could’ve warned you, I guess, but you were busy.” He grinned and squeezed her shoulder with his large hand.
Was that an accent? Damn, could he be more perfect? Immediately, she glanced at his hand that revealed several tattoos peeking out of his jacket hem, from his wrist all the way down to his fingers. No ring. Thank God.
“Can we forget that happened? I’m not usually like that.” She waved her hand in the air and winced inwardly.
God, she wanted to erase that doomed first impression. She was confident, dammit. She didn’t want this dreamy man to know she could be less than sophisticated. Her act was more difficult than she imagined.
“It’s a shame. I kind of liked the unusual first encounter. Not that I want you to choke, but I was ready to save you.” He braced his tattooed hand against the wall behind her, moving closer. His manly smell was soapy, with a hint of wood.
Save her he might. “Who are you?”
He squinted his glowing eyes and turned his head to the side. He didn’t say anything for a long time, just studied her and then rolled on the heels of his feet. “Who are you?”
His “r” rolled off his tongue with a Spanish accent of some kind.
“When someone answers a question with a question, it’s one of two things. Either the person doesn’t have anything interesting to say or he’s hiding something. Are you hiding something?”
He lowered his voice and ran a hand up her arm. “I think we all do. Why are you hiding in the corner?”
Damned if the man’s touch sent shivers all the way to her toes. “So someone like you would find me.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Melinda Dozier is a multi-published contemporary romance author represented by Blue Ridge Literary Agency. After hectic days of teaching English to middle school students, Melinda finds time to write and read in the evenings. She lives in Guatemala, Central America with her husband/college sweetheart who brings "mucho amor" to her life. Melinda enjoys being the queen of her household and dreams of being pampered fully by her three boys once they are grown. Melinda's guilty pleasures include reality TV, traveling, blogging and playing Zynga games.
Who me? I’m fifty-two years old and I’ll tell you every time I hear this question I look over my shoulder to see who is being asked the question? It can’t be me, the washed up hairdresser from nowhere Tennessee! I started in this industry very late in life. I always loved to read, and write. In grade-school and high school I always had a book in my hand, from Nancy Drew to Nero Wolf, I graduated to the Harlequin romances and Danielle Steele. I was part of the creative writing club and penned my share of angsty poetry and short stories for our High school magazine, but… https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=-tB1GQbZIBs And for many years I stopped reading, much less writing. Gasp! Yes, I didn’t read, because it made me sad. I knew what I wanted to do, and if I couldn’t do it, I didn’t want to others living their dream. Selfish and self-destructive. I know. Finally my sister shoved a series under my nose I couldn’t resist, The Dark Hunters, by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Bam! I was hooked again, and once again I was reading a book a day. I found a community online of like- minded readers and review site looking for reviewers! Oooh! Free books! So, I started reviewing for an online site. Through this connection I met many authors. I had a few tell me how much they liked my “voice.” (Damn, I had a voice? Who knew?) Some used quotes from my reviews on their book jackets. Wow, that made me proud. Others asked if I would be interested in beta reading their books. Another new venture. Beta reading, more free books and before anyone else got to read them. Well duh! Yeah I’ll do that! I loved beta reading. I got to see the book in its forming stage, give me input, know that what I thought was helping to form the final product. It was almost like writing a book. Almost. These writer friends of mine and my dear husband kept telling me, “You should write a book.” I really wanted to, I really did, but I was scared. I had never written anything longer than a short story and I wasn’t sure I could write a novel. Just the thought was so intimidating. Then serendipity struck. I saw an ad for a short story contest! I thought, okay here’s my chance to dip my toe in the water. So, I wrote my short story. Heart of a Soldier, 37 pages. I submitted and I waited, and waited, and waited. I didn’t win, but did get a contract to publish! After that, one thing just led to another. One book to another and I’ve been publishing ever since. Mine is obviously not the normal story. I have been very lucky.
At the right time, in the right place, and with the right contacts. It doesn’t happen that way for most people. So as I said, when I hear that question, “What is your advice for writers?” I still look over my shoulder. But, that being said. My best three pieces of advice: Read, read, read. You can’t be a good writer if you aren’t an avid reader. See what your competition is up to. See what’s selling and why. Look at how your fellow authors create real, likeable (or detestable) characters. Etc Two: Write what you know. That’s not to say you can’t do research or write about shape-shifters or aliens. But to make your characters believable, put a little of what you know in them; A personality you know, home town slang, a job you’re familiar with, etc. Three: Dialogue- The biggest screw-up I see in editing is dialogue that sounds like it comes from robots or 1900th century dukes. Make sure your characters talk like you talk. Use contractions. You don’t say, “I am going to the store, mother.” You say, “I’m goin’ to the store, Ma.” Remember, you’re not writing an English paper, you’re writing a fictional novel. Thanks for stopping by to visit today! Happy Reading!
Twenty-five and never been kissed, Jenna Raynes is a beautiful woman with a rubenesque figure often overlooked by men. In the mood for a little honey, the sassy new schoolteacher is stopped in her tracks by one growled word from an alpha bear…“Mine.”
Bern Helms’ inner bear catches the scent of his destined mate. His animal’s desire is drawn to her curves, but Jenna is human, and not lured to him by instinct. Convincing her begins as a sizzling, sweet affair that is soon spoiled by danger. In their small backwater town, nerves are strung taut. Someone is abducting shifter children.
When confronted, Jenna is as protective of her students as a mamma bear. For Bern, all bets are off when the kidnapper’s take Jenna too. Nothing will keep a bear from his mate. The hunters will become the hunted…
Bern had come into the store for his daily honey fix. He admitted it, he was addicted to the stuff. He had just bought two dozen biscuits at the bakery and he was going to drown them in honey, along with a nice piece of salmon for dinner.
When he stepped through the door he stopped in his tracks. His nostrils flared and his heart began to race. What was that fabulous scent? Like honey and vanilla, but something else too. Something that was making his cock stand up and do a happy dance in his pants.
Mate. Oh my God and goddess, his mate was in this store. He couldn’t think. Instinct took over and his legs carried him to the source of the tantalizing scent that had his libido raging and his bear roaring.
He was beside her before his brain had caught up with his body. He had to touch her. She was his. His hand covered hers as she reached for a jar of honey on the shelf. “Mine,” he growled. When she looked up at him with crystal blue eyes he thought he’d fallen into them and drowned.
Flawless porcelain skin covered a face that could have been painted by Botticelli. Pale blonde lashes framed her startled eyes and her cheeks were flushed an enticing pink. She bit her bottom lip and he wanted to kiss away the sting her torment caused the luscious flesh.
“There’s more than one jar,” she said, and her voice was husky and sweet.
She took a step back and a low growl escaped his throat. His bear didn’t like their mate backing away from them.
“I beg your pardon?”
“You are mine. You are my mate.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Tamara Hoffa lives in central Tennessee, with her husband of 30 years, her parents, 2 dogs and 2 cats. She started reading at four years old and has rarely been seen without a book since. At home you will usually find her in “nana’s chair” with her kindle, her laptop or one of her precious, precocious grandson’s in her lap. Tamara is an author, an editor, and reviews/promotions coordinator for Secret Cravings Publishing. Tamara is proof positive that it’s never too late to reach for your dreams.
Today, I’m on the Romancing the 8 Blog Tour and thought it would be fun to share the first eight sentences from my next book, A Woman of Courage. As an added bonus Trans Canada Romance Writers is adding a $5 gift card to be won by anyone who leaves a comment...and the more blogs you leave a comment on, as part of the tour, the more entries you get.
A Woman of Courage
A Stone hill fort: The Grianan of Aileach
Fianna Byrne scrambled up the steep embankment that circled the hillfort of Duncarraig. Scratches streaked across her legs, her body ached, and no matter how much she tried to prevent it, blood seeped into her mouth from a gash at her temple. But these wounds were inconsequential compared to her grief. Her home, her people, her entire clan had been decimated in one hellish night.
She hammered on the wide wooden gates of the fort. Would she be welcomed or turned away? Were old feuds still guiding their decisions? Muffled voices floated down from the rampart, and footfalls echoed on the wooden palisade.
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Maggie Adams Isn’t Just Whistlin’ Dixie About The Grafton Flood
Whistlin’ Dixie is the first book in my contemporary romance series, Tempered Steel. The series revolves around the efforts of one family to rebuild their community after a devastating flood. I know just how horrific a flood can be to a small town like Grafton, Illinois. My friends and family lived through the Mississippi River Flood of 1993.
I personally lived in the Grafton area for several years and that is why it is the perfect setting for my series. Our family moved in February of 1993, but my daughter went to kindergarten at the old Grafton School and my son was baptized at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. I saw the pictures on the news of how the Mississippi River overflowed its banks, causing millions in damage. I heard the stories from other family members of how the churches and beloved historical buildings were all but destroyed, but unless you are actually there, you just can’t fathom that type of destruction. It gave me the idea for this series.
Although the story is romantic fiction, many of the places and events portrayed are in Grafton, Illinois. Whistlin’ Dixie tells the tale of the romance between the eldest brother of seven, Mac Coalson, the owner of a construction company, who is trying to rebuild the town after a flood. Vandals have wreaked havoc on the new construction, and he’s determined to find the culprits. When evidence points to the brother of the new schoolteacher (Dixie), she locks horns with the stubborn construction company owner. They grudgingly agree to combine efforts to find the vandal, but their relationship is volatile at best.
It’s a story about real life struggle, and how fate plays a hand in life. It has humor, suspense, and a healthy dose of steamy romance, along with sites many locals will recognize. The bluffs, the river, Pere Marquette Lodge, and the marina, as well as several local businesses, names changed, of course, are all a part of the story.
As to the characters, well, my husband comes from a family of ten children – seven brothers, three sisters. I learned first-hand the dynamics of the large family, how every person is different, with differing opinions and characteristics. I took one or two particular characteristics of each of the brothers and used it to create the characters for my series. Although they are completely alpha males (read stubborn and hard headed here), they are also compassionate, honorable men who love fiercely and forever.
The female characters aren’t your typical types, either. They are just as hard-working, hard-headed, and hard to handle as their male counterparts. No shrinking violets, here. They know what they want and are determined to get it. And if it takes knocking a few heads together to achieve that goal, well, better get the ice packs ready!
The secondary characters that make up the small community are real folks, too (names changed) that I remember from my childhood in the Grafton area as well as some new friends I met while researching the changes in Grafton over the past twenty years. My characters are “Characters”, there’s no doubt about that! But again, I tried to convey the actual feel of this small community where everyone knows everyone and if they don’t, well, you can be sure they will find out who you are before you leave.
Whistlin’ Dixie is full of fun, laughter, suspense and of course, steamy romance. Book Two, Leather and Lace is now available as well. So now there’s twice the reason to grab a glass of iced tea and settle in to visit with the friendly folks of Grafton, Illinois. After all, who doesn’t like a little fun, laughter and a sexy ever after?
Mackenzie Coalson was determined to rebuild his hometown after a devastating flood left it in ruins. He has no time for a relationship and all the romantic junk that goes with it. He has a vandal to catch and no sweet smelling bundle of femininity is going to sway him.
A woman protecting her family.....
Dixie Harris charged into the county sheriff's office with a sassy sway and a smart mouth, eager to give the sheriff, and anyone else, a piece of her mind. When she locks horns with the devil himself, in the form of Mac Coalson, she quickly learns he has a temper to rival hers, even if he's the living epitome of her sexual fantasies.
When the two unite to catch a potential murderer, it's in everyone's best interest to keep it, "business only". But that's hard to do when their combined attraction is volatile enough to burn down the town.
He had to know if what she had told the doctor was the truth. “Your brother suggested I tie you up and stuff a rag in your mouth to get you to listen to me, but since you’re not going anywhere but here, this will do just fine.” He patted the blankets near her hand.
“If you don’t leave this instant, I’m going to scream.” She nodded to him to show she meant business.
Dixie was furious. She was practically an invalid and he was teasing her mercilessly. She wanted to throttle him. She wanted him to hold her. She was definitely going crazy. Either that, or the drugs were making her delirious. She couldn’t make up her mind about anything.
“Thanks for the warning, darlin’. I guess I’ll take your brother’s advice after all.” He reached into his back pocket for a handkerchief.
“You wouldn’t dare,” she growled.
Suddenly Mac leaned closer, putting his arms on either side of her head as he pinned her with his gaze. “I’ll dare anything to clear up this mess and have you back in my arms where you belong.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Hi! I'm Maggie Adams. I live near St. Louis, MO, with my high school sweetheart, Ned, and my wonderful kids, Katie (Kyle) and Ross (Valerie). My life is like a walking, talking sitcom from I Love Lucy, but I love it, although people do tend to keep their distance from me!
Writing has always been my dream, with reading my favorite hobby. When I’m not writing, I can be found singing, dancing, and cooking, often all at the same time. I try to include a little bit of my life in everything I write, so when you read my books, keep your eyes wide open - I'm in there somewhere! Happy reading!
I love to hear from readers and I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The inspiration for my story, The Lady of the Garter, came to me after a trip I took back in time one autumn afternoon. I live in Ohio, and we have one of the largest and most authentic Renaissance Festivals in the country.
I even dressed the part, and took a ride on a warhorse. I was inspired by what I saw. The jousting reenactments, danger, romance, chivalry, comedy, comradery. It was all there and I wanted to write a story about that world, as well as build a story around a period in England that would be recognizable to the readers who are also history buffs.
I love the idea of chivalry and romance mingling together. In the late 15th century, the notion of the knight in shining armor was not a fantasy, but a reality (if history doesn’t lie). And as a lover of history and romance, I couldn’t resist researching and then writing about a group of knights who have been revered and served the English monarchy for generations. The Most Noble Order of the Garter was founded by King Edward III in 1348, holds the highest order of chivalry, and is the most prestigious group in service to England. Even Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, serves as a Garter Knight today.
As a homage to King Edward, I named the squire, who becomes a knight in my story, after the Garter’s founder, but there’s more to my squire than meets the eye.
Well, as much as I like to think watching jousting matches at the Ren Fair would help me write a story that featured knights in tournaments, I realized early on, that I’d need to do something more in-depth. I was surprised to find that the Ren Fair had a book kiosk and stumbled upon a book called “Knights at Tournament,” by Christopher Gravatt. This resource was indispensable. I also interviewed a man who travels the country working as a jousting knight on the Ren Fair circuit and on the TV show, “Full Metal Jousting.” He told me what it felt like to be struck by a lance and how it impacted his body, liking putting him bed for a few days to recover after one brutal hit.
Also, when it came to getting details about the 15th Century. I had three books at my fingertips: Everyday Life in the Middle Ages, Life in a Medieval Castle, and The Lady in Medieval England 1000-1500. These resources helped me paint my pictures of medieval life and they also ensured my descriptions were accurate. Words like bailey and porticus, were imperative for the story to describe places in the castle. I also needed to know what period items of clothing were called at that time. A hauberk of chain mail and a houppelande gown, were items I described my characters wearing, helping to provide authenticity and provoke visual imagines for the reader.
When Henry VII takes the throne, not all are loyal to the new king. Garter knight, Sir James, is charged with bringing dissenters to justice. Determined to fulfill his vows, he’s unprepared for Lady Elena, a girl from his past he’s never forgotten.
Lady Elena defies her family and disguises herself as a squire to reunite with the man she’s always loved. She might be able to wield a sword, but she still possesses a woman’s heart.
Thrust into a world of danger and family rivalry, James and Elena face the ultimate test.
Can James avenge his father’s death and find passion, or will his Garter oaths hold him to a life of service without love?
Servants began to bustle about the hall. Men offered pitchers of rose-scented water and towels. Overflowing baskets of fresh bread and pitchers of wine were placed on the tables. Elena was ready for some mead after all she’d been through. Once the king’s taster sampled the fair, he nodded to the queen. The feast had officially begun. Nudging her brother, Elena confessed, “I was ordered out of the tent.”
“What did you expect? What kind of man do you take James for?” He laughed, raising his goblet in honor of the king.
“You tease me,” she said. “I don’t like it.”
“What did you find, Edward?”
“A foul-mouthed, dirty warrior,” she complained. “Not the sweet innocent lad I fell in love with.”
William’s eyes were filled with merriment. “Lads grow into men. Men become knights.” He studied her face. “And what of your other goal?”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“Becoming a knight,” he reminded her.
Elena gasped. The other squires stared as if they’d overheard her brother.
William chuckled, raising his cup again. “Long live the king.” The squires joined his salute.
Elena shot her brother a look of warning. How could he be so careless? Spirits. She rolled her eyes. “I admit it,” she said with defiance, keeping her voice low. “I want to become a knight. I’ve never kept that secret from you, but we both agreed I must serve as a squire first.”
Their conversation was interrupted by a woman who placed a trencher on the table in front of them.
“Peacock, venison, quail, and rabbit,” the wench announced, flashing a toothless grin.
William quickly helped himself to half the meat. Always selfish, he even chose the tenderest pieces of venison.
She glowered at him. “Will nothing change? I must accept the meager portions left after you claim the best?”
He licked his fingers, then leaned in so only she could hear his reply. “To these lads you’re just another squire. But I know what’s underneath those pants. So yes, you are still a female, and I get the best. Be satisfied there’s anything left for you to eat.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
With a degree in journalism, Marisa has spent many years writing for the television industry. As an award-winning producer/director/marketer, she has worked on commercial production, show creation, product branding and social media.
Marisa’s passion for writing began when her first-grade teacher read her poem aloud and posted it on the classroom wall. She soon followed up by writing plays for her neighborhood friends and hosting the productions in her garage.
Marisa has always enjoyed reading romance novels and now realizes a dream come true, writing romantic adventures. She lives in Kettering, Ohio, with her first love and knight in shining armor, James.
I’m very excited to announce that from midnight tonight you will be able to buy my latest book, A Woman of Love. It will be on sale through Amazonand The Wild Rose Press for $0.99.
To celebrate the release I’m going on a book tour. The stops on my tour are available under the March Book Tour and Giveaway heading in this website. Please join me. On 1st April I’ll be awarding one lucky winner a $10 Amazon egift card, via rafflecopter.
I thought this might be a good time to share some of my memories and the reason I decided to set A Woman of Love in Berkshire and Windsor. It’s a beautiful part of the world and one I’m very familiar with, as I grew up in this area, and spent many happy days there, especially in my teenage years.
Crooked House in Windsor. Photo copyright Marlow Kelly
On rainy Sunday afternoons, when there weren’t many tourists about, me along with my friends, Valerie, and Mandy, would take the bus into Windsor and go for afternoon tea. There’s a little tearoom behind this crooked house. Rumor has it that the tearoom used to belong to Nell Gwen, mistress of Charles II, and that a secret tunnel runs from Windsor Castle to the house. Whether or not this is true I never found out, but it was fun to speculate.
We would sit with sniffling noses, and our fingers red from the cold. Valerie and Mandy drank tea and I ate the scones with clotted cream. We would talk about boys, school and all the inane, insensible things teenage girls talk about. Once we were warm and had said all there was to say we would step out into the rain, heading for the bus stop to catch the bus back home.
I met Valerie and Mandy just last summer. We’re all older now and our lives have taken separate directions. We’ve all had our ups and downs, but the memories of those years are still precious and always will be.
This is the Pinterest Board I made for A Woman of Love. These images helped me envision James' and Annabel's world.