Monday, April 28, 2008

*Wild At Heart* by Gina Hartoog Released


Wild at Heart by Gina Hartoog is now available at By Grace. Order your copy today!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Blurb and Excerpt: *Wild at Heart* by Gina Hartoog

Wild at Heart by Gina Hartoog

New York photojournalist Katelyn Hillfox is determined to stay focused on her original assignment to South Africa. But after meeting handsome game ranger, Jacques Kruger, Katelyn knows her heart has a different plan. Her sleuthing instincts kick in when she hears about a spate of burglaries on the reserve. Katelyn starts snooping around and learns that Renprox, an eccentric animal rights organization, may be involved. Her own reputation is at stake when someone paints her as a heartless journalist out for a good story. Suddenly Jacques wants nothing to do with her. Can Katelyn find the truth before she loses him for good?

*******
Camp was deserted. It was after ten o’clock and the night drive guests were back from their outing. Katelyn walked along the path, now familiar with its twists and turns, and stopped to listen to the sounds of the night again. She was used to the owls and the pulsating squeak of the bats high in the trees. The branches above her head rustled. Katelyn pulled her shawl tighter around her shoulders and walked on.
The cottage was just as she left it but the interior was much darker. The moon had moved over since her last visit and its light did not illuminate the room as it had before. She walked over to the filing cabinets to begin her search. Painstakingly, she looked though each drawer using her sense of touch as a guide. The manila envelopes Janet used were rough to the touch. Each time she felt a different texture, she pulled it into the dim light where a crack of moonlight filtered into the cottage. When the last file was back in place, Katelyn sighed in frustration. Her fruitless search had been a waste of time.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Author Essay: Gina Hartoog

It was during one of our annual trips to the Kruger National Park that I got the plot idea for Wild at Heart. I wanted to capture some of South Africa’s incredible wildlife and bushveld areas in a story that could be enjoyed by readers from all over the world. Using a journalist from another country meant that I would need to portray that magic through new eyes. It was a challenge to ‘see’ the places and experiences I’ve known since childhood as though they were completely new.

Just after I started work on the novel, one of my magazine editors went on a business trip to London and the airline lost her luggage. It’s a nightmare we’ve all heard about but rarely experience and I decided to use it in my story for an interesting twist.

Quiz Day!

So, here is another fun quiz!

Angie's heart is PINK!

Monday, April 21, 2008

By Grace Publishing Author Bio *Gina Hartoog*

Author Bio *Gina Hartoog*
Gina Hartoog was born in South Africa. She was introduced to books at a young age and was soon captivated by the magic between the pages. After high school, Gina studied photography and journalism. She started her writing career as a journalist where she worked in-house as a sub-editor, features writer and photographer.

After her second daughter was born in 2002, Gina started working freelance from home. This proved a wise decision and she was able to dedicate more time to her fiction writing. Gina regularly contributes to consumer and trade magazines. Her regular columns include topics in the gardening, child care and DIY industries. She has also completed two re-writes of classic Mark Twain stories for a South African publisher. By Grace Publishing will publish her first novel Wild at Heart in April
2008. Gina lives in Johannesburg, South Africa with her husband, Bram and two daughters Shona (9) and Chiara 5. She has just had her third child, a son, in March 2008.

Friday, April 18, 2008

It's Available! *His and Hers Dalmatians* by Grace Tyler


*His and Hers Dalmatians* by Grace Tyler

Callie and Hayden James have nothing in common, other than their last names and a pair of Dalmatians. Their relationship was just as volatile after their divorce, so they split up the dogs to maintain the peace. After two years apart, attending the wedding of mutual friends forces Callie and Hayden to see each other again. Can this event lead to a truce and sharing custody of the dogs?

Buy it soon HERE!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Blurb and Excerpt *His and Hers Dalmatians* by Grace Tyler

His and Hers Dalmatians by Grace Tyler
Callie and Hayden James have nothing in common, other than their last names and a pair of Dalmatians. Their relationship was just as volatile after their divorce, so they split up the dogs to maintain the peace. After two years apart, attending the wedding of mutual friends forces Callie and Hayden to see each other again. Can this event lead to a truce and sharing custody of the dogs?

EXCERPT
“Don’t worry about calling your shots,” Hayden said, stepping back.

“All right.” Callie bent over the pool table, holding her cue awkwardly under her left arm. “Help me?”

He groaned mentally. Standing behind her to guide her shot fit in perfectly with his mid-dinner plot of getting her to stay the night. It wasn’t so perfect for his post-dinner resolution of chivalry and self preservation.

He took a step closer, daring no more. Her citrus-clean fragrance tempted him to take another step forward. “Grip the end of the stick lightly.”

“All right.” She loosened her hold on the cue and then propped the stick across the knuckles of her right hand.

“Like this.” He lifted the cue off her table hand. “The stick needs to glide lightly across your skin. This hand is just to steady the stick while you push and aim with your left hand.” He repositioned her cue so that it rested between her right index finger and thumb. “Use your other fingers for stabilization.”

“Now I remember.” She flashed him a brief smile before taking the shot. The cue ball bounced harmlessly off the bumpers. “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.”

“Come on. Try again.”

Callie walked along the two free sides of the table. The other two sides were hemmed in by the corner of the room. “I’ve got a shot,” she said, taking aim from a new location. “I’m going for the thirteen. Maybe it’ll get into the pocket if I hit it just off center.”

“Remember your table hand is just a guide. The power comes from your shooting arm, so judge how hard you need to hit the ball.”

“Watch thirteen,” she said, sparing a look at him before returning her focus to the table, her short sable hair fanning against her cheek. She pushed the stick forward in practice a couple of times, and then she made her shot. Her aim was true, but she’d hit the cue ball too hard, and the thirteen ball bounced off the rim of the pocket.

“Great shot!” He meant it. She’d never played well when they were dating, but she never let her discouragement show. “You want to go again?”

“No, it’s your turn. I’ll watch and try to pick up some pointers.”

Hayden took his shot, and the cue ball smacked against the three-ball, which tumbled into the right center pocket.

“Go again,” Callie said. “No need to give me extra turns.”

“Practice is the only way to get better,” he protested, but he had lined up his next shot the moment she urged him to take another turn. “Four-ball.” He took one of the short sticks down from the rack and went to the far side of the table next to the wall. “I should have gotten a smaller table,” he lamented. “It would have been easier to play in here.”

“But it wouldn’t have been what you wanted,” she responded.

She seemed to understand him, maybe for the first time. “Right. This was what I wanted.”

Hayden’s shot was true, and number four went directly to the pocket next to Callie on the outside of the table. But it didn’t sink all the way, didn’t rumble down the ball track to the retrieval area. “What’s up with that pocket?” he asked.

She plucked the ball out of the hole. “There’s something stuck in here.” Her hand disappeared into the table, and she started laughing. “You missing something?”

Before he saw what she had found, he knew what it had to be. The unmistakable ring of keys sounded as she jiggled them in his direction. “Who keeps their keys in the pool table?”

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wednesday: Author Essay

Grace Tyler
I love reunion stories, because they demonstrate the difficulties of making a relationship work over the long haul. The words, “And they lived happily ever after,” don’t really demonstrate what happens after a couple walks down the aisle, as anyone in a long term relationship can verify.

From here, I borrowed an idea from the movie “The Parent Trap,” but instead of splitting up twins, I’ve split up the couple’s Dalmatians. The movie focuses mostly on the children’s reunion, but I’ve focused on the divorced couple’s reunion, which is forced on them by the need to attend the wedding of mutual friends.

Questions I wanted to explore were why do couples break up when they really love each other? How can I make my hero and heroine have significant enough differences to necessitate a divorce and yet have enough commonalities and a strong enough love to bring them back together in the end?


(c) 2004 M. Deer

Why Dalmatians, as opposed to any other breed of dogs? First and foremost, they are beautiful dogs with elegant markings and regal bearing. And they do not make good pets for many people, because they require a lot of exercise and interaction. Hayden discovers this after he begins the single life. Our hero is a high powered business man and travels a lot. Consequently, he has to hire a live in caretaker for his dog. Hey, he’s got the bucks.

Dals are beloved by the aficionados of the breed, and have many fun characteristics. They are highly intelligent, athletic, and tend to be mischievious. They also display what is known as a “grin.” In the pictures I saw of it, it looks like the dog is growling the way the teeth are displayed. But Dals actually smile when they are happy or excited, and the way to tell the difference when you are inexperienced with the breed or the individual dog is to watch his tail. If his tail is wagging and his teeth are bared, he’s smiling at you.

A Dalmatian smile
(C) 2000 Judith Barneveld

Pictures courtesy of http://hattrick-dals.home.att.net/DalInfo.html

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Quiz Day!

If one train leave New York at 2 pm going 97 mph, and another train leaves Los Angeles at 6 am going 82 mph....
Now, now, don't get nervous, it's not that kind of quiz. This is a fun quiz, it is about dogs. Take the quiz here and see what kind of dog YOU should have!

Angie took the quiz and should have a beagle. Cool, I like Snoopy!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Athor Bio: Grace Tyler

Grace Tyler
A native of central Utah, Grace idolized her grade school teachers who fostered her love of reading. Writing stories was just as fun as reading, and during high school she penned two full length romances to take her mind off her health problems and difficulty fitting in when moving from school to school. Now after college, fifteen years of marriage, and three children, she is living her dream of seeing one of her romances in print. Her greatest hero is her husband, whose service and hard work are the ultimate representation of love.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

University Day Voice: What is it, and how do you avoid polishing it right out of your novel?

Cindy K. Green
www.cindykgreen.com
Voice is the way you sound on paper. My personal voice comes out best when I am writing 1st person POV heroines. My sarcastic wittiness just exudes from me under those circumstances. But when you are writing, the voice of your characters must be taken into consideration. How would that jaded government agent hero sound compared to a graduate student/bookshop clerk heroine? Your reader should be able to “hear” the difference in your writing. Go with the voice that is coming out on the page. Don’t be afraid to follow where it takes you.

Judy Jarvie
Voice is your uniqueness. Your own story, told in your own way.

Read aloud for flow and concentrate on making improvements, clearer meaning etc rather than altering everything or becoming editor zealot.

Susan Atwood
Your writer’s voice is the combination of vocabulary, punctuation, sentence structure, etc. that makes your writing sound like you. Reading aloud is a sure way to keep from polishing your voice out of your novel. If you make changes and the result sounds like an instruction manual hit the undo typing key! Reading aloud also helps to keep the rhythm of your prose in place. If you notice that the natural ebb and flow of words stalls or stops all together, back up and try again.

Denise Patrick
Voice is your unique way of putting words together on a page. I look at it this way: If five different authors were given a paragraph to edit to their own style, you'd get five different paragraphs that all say the same thing differently. Unfortunately, when you ask someone else to critique something you've written, if you incorporate all of their suggestions, sometimes what you end up with no longer sounds like you wrote it? If this happens to you, you've edited out your voice. That little bit of you that you infuse your writing with has been deleted and you should do everything in your power to get it back - otherwise you've lost the spark that might have attracted an editor.

Josh Lockwood
I’ve been told I have a ‘good voice for historicals’ and have no idea what that means. I write what sounds natural to me - trying to get inside the heads of my characters, trying to understand their actions and reactions, their emotions – and if it doesn’t sound realistic I take it out and rethink the scene. I studiously avoid anything that sounds contrived. I want my readers to have that ‘Been there, Done that’ feeling and the only way to get it is to write something I think they can identify with.

Judy Huston
Your writing voice is like your DNA: it’s unique to you, but not always easy to identify at first. It may take you a few books to find your own voice and feel comfortable with it. Meanwhile, no matter how much you admire another writer, don’t try to imitate them slavishly. You can learn a lot from them, but copying them completely will muffle your own voice.
You may also find that your writing voice is not what you expected, but don’t be afraid of it. Avoid editing your work so much that the voice can’t be heard clearly. When you’re presenting a point of view, for example, don’t feel that every sentence has to have a subject or a verb. Incomplete sentence, used sparingly can provide a great way to convey thoughts and emotions quickly, if that is the way your voice wants to present them.

Angie Martin
http://angiemartin.webs.com/
Your voice is how you tell a story. Your way of expressing emotions, describing scenes and telling your story. Everyone has a unique voice, you just have to be careful not to edit it out by too many rewrites of a scence, it's better to walk away from it for a few days before rewriting it.

E-mag Day: Short Story *Rearview* by Jessica Raymond

Rearview
by Jessica Raymond

Sophie checked the clock on her dashboard and pulled out on to the main road. It was two o’clock. Her appointment wasn’t until half past and the journey only took fifteen minutes, so she had plenty of time.
She circled a roundabout and glanced at her rearview mirror. A sleek sports car merged into the flow of traffic behind her; its shiny grillwork and clean lines stood out from the other vehicles. When Sophie slowed to a stop at the traffic lights she checked her mirror again, just as she had been taught when she’d been a learner driver. The sports car was right behind her.
Her fingernails drummed the top of the steering wheel as she watched two women use the pedestrian crossing in front, but her gaze was quickly drawn back to the rearview mirror.
Sophie took a closer look at the male driver of the sports car, and at his shoulders, which were clad in a royal-blue shirt. The man moved his hand on the steering wheel, and Sophie noted that his sleeves were rolled up, exposing strong tanned arms. Her heart began to thud rather noticeably and a wave-like tingle swept down her neck and over her shoulders as she drank in the sight of him.
The warning beep of the pedestrian crossing died into silence and the amber light began to flash, notifying the cars that they could prepare to move. Sophie returned her concentration to the road and, after the green light had glowed into life, she drove on.
Another glance at the clock told her that five more minutes had passed. Her anticipation grew as she neared her destination; her hands felt a little shaky and her knees tingled. The warm, bouncy feeling in her stomach intensified when she took another furtive look in her mirror to see the man in the sports car still following her.
Their eyes met, and her breath caught slightly in her throat. He smiled at her. She returned the gesture automatically then looked back at the road, knowing she should pay more attention to her driving.
An approaching sign informed Sophie that her turn-off was mere seconds away. She switched on the indicator and slowed down. Her eyes travelled briefly to the rearview mirror again—only to comply with basic mirror–signal–manoeuvre rules, she told herself—and Sophie saw the indicator light on the sports car begin to flash. Another frisson of excitement raced over her skin. Forcing herself to concentrate on the task at hand, she gripped the steering wheel and turned into the side road.
Almost there. It was now a quarter past two—just fifteen minutes to go until her appointment.
She didn’t need to look in her mirror to know that the sports car was still behind her, because every now and then a shiny wink of light would reflect off its pristine bodywork and into her vision. Knowing it was still there made Sophie feel nervous in an unusually exhilarating way. She caught his eye again; this time he raised his hand from the steering wheel and waved at her with that lazy smile still on his face. Sophie’s heart skipped a beat. There was no denying it—he was incredibly handsome.
A sign for the entrance suddenly loomed into view on her left. Her heart practically raced in her chest and there was a funny, fuzzy sort of sensation in her stomach.
Down went the indicator branch as Sophie reached her turn-off. The rearview mirror told her that sports-car man had signalled left as well.
She scanned the directions on the road sign. “Bear right and look for the large red M,” she read out loud, thinking she could really do with a cheeseburger and fries. A minute later, Sophie pulled into a space in the leafy car park. An engine grumbled behind her and she watched the sports car park two spaces away.
She locked eyes with the handsome driver. He smiled at her. Sophie took a cleansing, calming breath. Was it even possible for nerves to feel this good?
She opened the door and stepped out.
“Hi,” the man said, shutting his door at the same time as her.
“Hi,” she replied in a shaky voice.
“I wasn’t sure if you’d noticed me following you.”
“I did.” Sophie smiled and watched him walk around his car towards her. “It was a nice surprise. I wasn’t sure you would make it.”
He kissed her on the cheek. “I got one of the other guys to take my two o’clock test drive. There’s no way I was going to miss this. The boss even let me take the new convertible and he hasn’t allowed it off the forecourt before today.”
His hand closed over hers. Sophie could feel the comforting coolness of his wedding ring against her palm. Her heart grew several sizes in her chest. “I love you, Tom. You know that, don’t you?”
“Of course I do, Soph.” He kissed the top of her head. “And you know I love you too.”
She nodded.
Hand-in-hand, they walked over a small lawn area to the entrance of the maternity unit. Sophie took the appointment card from her pocket and read once more the printed words she already knew off by heart:
Sophie Finnigan — 12-week ultrasound — 2.30pm
She slipped the card back into her pocket while avoiding a patch of daisies on the lawn.
Since the moment she’d found out about the tiny life growing inside her, she had come to look at the world in a different way.
Daisies had changed. They were no longer insignificant wildflowers, but possibly one of the most beautiful yet simple pieces of nature Sophie had ever seen.
Driving anywhere, no matter how near or far, was different. Every turn, brake, and acceleration was a potential risk.
Cheeseburgers and fries were different. They were no longer banned from her vegetarian menu, but had become the most delicious meal she’d ever eaten.
But most of all, her husband was different. She had fallen in love with him all over again. Rather than being the Tom she had known since high school and married two years ago, he had become the father of her unborn child. A man she now looked at through new eyes, seeing all that was good and kind about him—all the things she’d somehow forgotten to notice any more because she’d been so used to them.
It was as though impending motherhood had given her new eyes with which to look out on the world. New senses to feel it, hear it, touch it, and taste it. Her life, through being put on a path of phenomenal change, had been renewed.
And she had never felt happier.

Writing Prompt Day - Scene set on or near a lake

Cindy K. Green
www.cindykgreen.com
The scene at the lake was gorgeous and serene, everything I was not feeling. No, it would be better to describe my frame of mind as that of someone about to be thrown into one of those car smashing devices. Charlie was about to break my heart. Well, I guess out here there will be no one except the geese flying in and out of the water to see me make a scene. Will I make a scene?
“Evie, look, I know you…you…” He stopped to clear his throat, his dark beautiful eyes darting from my view.
See, even he can’t bring himself to say it. Hey Evie, I’m sorry. We had a great couple months together but I’m moving on. I met someone new—someone prettier, smarter, and more my type. But thanks for all the fun.
As he opened his mouth, my heart sunk down to my stomach…no I think it fell all the way to my toes. Somehow his hands had found their way around my shoulders without me noticing. I must have been too distracted with the incoming destruction just on the tip of his tongue.
“Evie, I think I’m in love with you.”
Help! I’ve had an aneurism because he can’t possibly have said what I think he said.
Neve zipped up her wetsuit. She’d conquer this if it killed her – and it just might if thanks to Aunty Anne’s surprise ‘gift’.

Judy Jarvie
The windsurfing crash course would never be her holiday pursuit of choice.

“You ready?” Neve shuddered as windsurf coach Craig fixed her with his dark gaze.
“This time, let’s do it like you want to be here,” he said.

Susan Atwood
Drina’s protests apparently fell on deaf ears. There was no way she was going in that cold, slimy, icky, disease-laden lake. Hadn’t she made that perfectly clear? She dragged her feet as Hal pulled her across the grass and dug in her heels as they reached the soft dirt at the water’s edge.
“If you dislocate my shoulder I’ll only be able to swim in circles and I’ll never make it back to shore and then I’ll drown and no parents will sign their kids up for your swimming classes and then the—” She was cut off by a bruising kiss and Hal’s voice, as rough as his two-day beard. “I won’t let you drown.”
I’ll never forget swimming in our pond as a child. Our above ground pool was as dark and disgusting as they came, so the pond was the better option.

Catherine Berlin
My favorite day was the one where my older brother-- the brother who picked on me constantly-- came shooting out of the pond, screaming his head off.

A fish apparently thought the dark spots on his chest were bait.

Denise Patrick
http://denisesden.blogspot.com
She was going to be sick. Carrie knew she shouldn’t have allowed Jeff to talk her into the rowboat. The lake had looked so calm under the clear blue sky - just like a picture. That was a half hour ago. Now that they were closer to the center than the shore, gray clouds had arrived on the scene and the lake was no longer the placid mirrored surface it had been when Jeff had convinced her to accompany him.

Jeff didn’t seem to notice her distress. He was too busy snapping pictures of the wildlife around them with his binoculars. If she hadn’t been trying to impress him, none of this would have happened. She would have told him that she didn’t like small boats or being on the water. Most importantly, however, she would have confessed to not knowing how to swim.

Josh Lockwood
It was quiet. Too quiet. And the moonlight glinting off the still water of the lake didn’t bring him the peace he’d expected. Instead, his mind flicked back to that little damned rice paddy south of Vinh Moc. The one where he’d taken his hit.

It had been quiet that night, too. Until Charlie opened up with the 50 caliber from the undergrowth on the far side of the clearing.

Judy Huston
Mary let her gaze drift across the lake. Sunlight sparkled on its surface and a few swans cruised lazily near the shore, a safe distance from the sailing boats that were already skimming across the water in the distance, taking advantage of the early morning breeze.

The binoculars were powerful. She caught the Classy Lady squarely in her sights and zoomed in. There was Brad on the deck, his face turned directly towards her as if he could see her, white teeth flashing in his tanned face as he smiled with the pure joy of being alive. Mouth tightening, fingers gripping the binoculars so hard they ached, Mary forced the focus away. She needed to see who else was on that yacht.

Angie Martin
http://angiemartin.webs.com/
This was his favourite time of the day. The sun would soon begin its slow decent, and the water was calm, the boat barely making tiny ripples on the surface. Just he and his fishing rod in the quiet late afternoon.

Blurb and excerpt of *Adopting Alyssa* by Denise Patrick


When a tragic accident on the interstate leaves an orphaned 4-year-old in her charge, social worker Helen Carstairs is certain she's found the perfect couple to adopt her. Jason and Kelly Moore are a young couple in her congregation with a strong, steady faith.

The only thing that would make life more perfect for Kelly would be a baby of her own, not an enchanting four-year-old with adorable green eyes and the brightest smile this side of heaven. God seems to have other ideas and soon Kelly finds herself wondering how she got along without the little bundle of energy.

So, what are the odds that the bearer of so much joy would also be the catalyst that uncovers a secret Kelly thought long buried in her past? A secret which could undermine her faith and destroy her marriage, all in one fell swoop. But, as her world threatens to crumble around her, Kelly discovers the miracle of second chances and realizes God doesn't play the odds.

Excerpt:

Jason was waiting for her when she stepped off the elevator. She wondered if he thought she might chicken out if he wasn’t there to meet her. She wouldn’t have. She wanted to give this a try; to meet Alyssa and see if there was something there. She already felt sorry for her, but pity wouldn’t do. She had to feel something more for her than that.
Helen was coming down the hall as they headed toward Alyssa’s room, her expression grave.
“Are you going to go see Alyssa?” she asked, stopping them.
“Kelly has agreed to meet her,” Jason answered.
Helen was silent for a moment, her gaze thoughtful.
“Is something wrong?” Jason asked.
Helen looked around the empty hallway. Gesturing to a row of chairs, she said, “Let’s sit for a moment.”
Jason pulled three chairs into a small circle and they sat. Kelly took in his worried expression and Helen’s serious one and braced herself for something bad.
Helen took a deep breath. “I had to tell Alyssa about her parents today. Her doctor said she’s been asking for them, so my supervisor and I decided she should be told. A grief counselor who works with children has been with her for most of the afternoon.” She looked from one to the other for another long moment. “I don’t want to put you on the spot, but in telling Alyssa about her parents, I felt it necessary to also tell her it was my job to find new parents for her.”
There was a tense, silent moment then Helen continued to Jason. “She asked about you.”
Jason exhaled. “I see.”
Kelly could feel his tension. What would you have me do, Lord? Her short prayer from the car floated through her head.
“Would you prefer we not go to see her?” Jason asked.
Helen’s shoulders slumped. “I honestly don’t know. I don’t want her cut off from anyone, but I also don’t want to get her hopes up. If you continue to visit her, she might bond with you.” She looked at Kelly. “If you decide you don’t want her—” her voice trailed off, but Kelly understood the end of the sentence.
It was suddenly clear to Kelly. She was the one with all the reservations. Both Helen and Jason were decided, but she had to make a decision as well. Could she go in and see this little girl, then walk away as if nothing had happened? Could she forgive herself if she broke a little girl’s heart? She’d also be letting Jason down. Was this God’s way of telling her she had to make a decision now, even before meeting Alyssa?
She reached out and took Jason’s hand. “I would be willing—but, suppose we don’t hit it off?”
Both Helen and Jason smiled at her, and Kelly felt like a child who'd gotten the right answer to a question from the teacher. The feeling irritated her, but she didn't know why.
“I don’t think you have anything to worry about,” Helen replied. “But why don’t you go and see her for yourself?”
A few moments later, the three of them entered Alyssa’s room. Her little body looked small and lost in the hospital bed, and Kelly found herself drawn to the child instantly. With her head turned to one side, Alyssa looked sad and heartbroken. Helen went to her bedside.
“Alyssa. Look who’s come to visit.”
Kelly was not prepared for the effect Alyssa’s gaze had upon her. Twin emerald orbs nearly identical to her own stared up at her dispassionately. The sorrow and uncertainty in that young expression tore at her heart. How could someone have abused such a helpless child?
Jason moved to Alyssa’s side. “How are you feeling tonight?”
“My tummy hurts,” was the small response, although Kelly noted the light that entered Alyssa’s eyes at the sight of Jason. “Miss Helen says I have to have a new Mommy and Daddy, ‘cause mine went to heaven.”
Jason nodded. “Helen told me that, too. I’m very sorry to hear it. Did you eat any dinner?”
The little head nodded. “But I didn’t want very much. Miss Ann said I didn’t have to eat it all.”
Jason looked up at Helen.
“The grief counselor,” she mouthed.
“So, what did you eat?”
“Ice cream.”
“That’s all?” Jason’s teasing voice drew a wan smile from her. “You’ll never get big and strong if you only eat ice cream.”
Kelly was beginning to feel like a third wheel as the two of them conversed. But then those eyes turned back to her. She could see the natural curiosity behind the gaze.
“Who’s she?” Alyssa asked.
Jason slipped an arm around Kelly's waist, drawing her closer. The touch gave her comfort and encouragement. “This is my wife, Kelly.”
There was no hint of surprise or confusion. Hope dawned in the little girl’s eyes. “Are you my new Mommy and Daddy?”

Buy it here

Monday, April 7, 2008

Spotlight By Grace Backlist *Adopting Alyssa* by Denise Patrick

Adopting Alyssa by Denise Patrick
http://denisesden.blogspot.com

2007 CAPA Winner and 2008 EPPIE Finalist

Reading is as natural as breathing to Denise Patrick. So, it wasn't hard to move from reading to writing once bitten by the "I can create my own stories" bug. Unfortunately, it took many years before she actually sat down to write. Instead she trod the normal path of college, marriage, family, career.

Although her first love is historical romances, when a friend asked her to write that first Inspirational, she quickly realized that it didn't have to be the "preachy" book she usually associated with Inspirationals. Instead, she tries to portray people of faith going about their daily lives, but with 'bumps in the road' that test their faith.

Denise lives in Salt Lake City with her husband of 24 years, and two math and science wizards who did not inherit their talents from her. She works full time, leads the Youth at her church, sits on too many church committees and task forces, is the Newsletter editor for her RWA chapter, and loves to craft, sew, and machine embroider.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Now that the first/rough draft of your novel is written, what do you do next?

Cindy K. Green
www.cindykgreen.com
I let the manuscript sit for a bit, usually sending it out to my critique partner while I work on something else. When I get it back, I will work on her ideas/corrections. Then I sit and read the whole of it, in one sitting. At this point, I am making sure the flow of words is correct, punctuation is right, plot holes are taken care of, characters are in character. I also might add more layering – more characterization, more intricate plot, etc, etc. After going over it many, many, many times, I send it back to the cp before I submit.

Judy Jarvie
Let it rest. Take a break – read some novels (not just romance), indulge your own reading habits, the more diverse the better. Create some space that lets you go back to the novel afresh with a more critical eye for that first polish and edit round. Then send it out to your critique partner – it’s amazing how improvements/omissions occur once you’ve sent it somewhere.

Susan Atwood
Writing THE END on your first draft is only the beginning, as we all know! I think it is important to let your project “percolate” for a few days or a week before you do anything. That time away gives you a better perspective. Once you’ve let it sit, then it’s time to polish. On the first read I try to look for words and phrases I know I overuse. For me, one problem is the word “that.” I also try to change any commonplace verbs to those with more power. Stronger verbs carry stronger emotions, and that is what romance is all about!

JoAnn Carter

http://home.comcast.net/~jo.glenncarter/site/
I like to let my first draft percolate for awhile so when I look at it again, I can see it fresh. If I read it too soon, I find I read right through my mistakes.

The most important tip I can give is one I’ve learned the hard way. It’s imperative to read your book cover to cover in one sitting when you are done. Why? Because often motions or little saying can be repeated several times in your manuscript without you even realizing it.

Catherine Berlin
The best thing you can do with any first draft, is throw it in a drawer. Not forever. Just for a week or two. Enough time for you to forget a lot of it.

After two weeks, take it out, and have a pencil. Read it. Every page you have the urge to correct or add to, do it! Then put that particular page aside.

When you’re done, take those pages and use them to edit the file on your computer.

Rinse and repeat.

Denise Patrick
The first thing I do is print it out and set aside for at least two weeks (sometimes longer). Once the two weeks are up, I sit down with the hard copy and read it completely through from the view of a reader and look for the following: plotholes, inconsistencies, scenes that don't add to the book, etc. As I re-write and tighten, I also look for excess words - that, was, had, and -ing words. The last thing I do is a "find and replace" for those words.

After all of that, I print it out again and let it sit again for a while - maybe only one week, then I read it again. If I'm satisfied with the product, it's sent out. If not, I do the above over again.

Josh Lockwood
I usually set it aside for a couple of weeks, clear my mind so to speak, then open it up again and read it as though it were someone else’s novel. It’s odd but, by doing that, I can immediately see the weaknesses, where it needs more depth or explanation.

After that I normally send it out to my critique partner, to get her feel for it. Once I get the feedback from her, I start the revising and polishing process.


Judy Huston
Put it away for a few days – a week if you can bear to be separated from it for so long – and resist the urge to add, subtract or do anything at all to it in that time. Do other things such as clean up the study.

When the time is up, find yourself a quiet spot and read your novel as if it’s a book written by someone else. Keep a pen handy and make a note of things such as slow sections, inconsistencies in time, place or character, repetitions, and areas of long exposition that could be replaced by direct action or dialogue. Then start rewriting those parts that are obviously in need of work. You’ll be surprised at how much your novel improves and tightens up immediately.

Angie Martin
http://angiemartin.webs.com/
Once the first draft is done... I yell Whoo-hoo! And then of course, it's time to edit. Usually I try to let it sit for a while, to try to get some distance from my story and my characters. This is the tricky part, because now once it's done all I want to do is polish it and make it better, you know, changing dialogue... making sure someone isn't sitting in a car while speaking to suddenly be inside the house without ever having actually gotten out of the car, or walked up to the house.

April Name Game

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If you know the answer, post it as a comment. The first correct answer wins an e-book from this author's backlist. You'll need to check back to see if you won. Good luck!

1. My first book released in December 2006 with By Grace Publishing.

2. I homeschool my children.

3. I wrote a story for one of the Moonlit Romance Beach Party duets in 2007.

4. The book cover for my next By Grace release, Meeting Mr. Right Online is on my website.

5. My story is the first one in the By Grace winter themed anthology, Winter Wonders.

Moonlit Romance Backlist Spotlight: *The Fixer-Uppers* by Cynthianna Appel

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Cynthianna (Appel) is a multi-published author who enjoys writing light-hearted, contemporary romantic fiction. Her contemporary-romances The Fixer-Uppers and Preachin’ to the Choir were released by Moonlit Romance. She recently has branched out into fantasy romantic-comedy. Details about this can be found on her website. You can read excerpts at Cynthianna’s web site: http://www.cynthianna.com Her blog is “Confessions of a Blonde Writer” at http://momsday.blogspot.com and you can join her monthly e-newsletter at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cindyappelnewsletter



Back Cover Blurb

Can a single mom find happiness on a blind date—or at least dinner with a male who can cut up his own food? Cassie and Mike believe they're "in like" not "in love." But when down-on-his-luck Mike is evicted, Cassie takes him in. Mike starts fixing everything from window screens to broken hearts. Will Cassie let him fix hers?

The Fixer-Uppers by Cynthianna Appel ~ Excerpt


Mike’s chin brushed against the top of her hair. “Hmm, you smell really nice. What kind of perfume do you have on?”

Cassie stood entranced. She knew she should move away from Mike, but somehow her body refused to follow orders from her brain. 

  “It’s called Red Door. I got it as a birthday present many years ago. I hardly ever wear it anymore. I’m trying to make it last.”  She closed her eyes, trying hard to break the spell, but it was hopeless. “Hmm, you smell good, too.”

 Mike dropped his head a little lower. Cassie felt his warm breath tickling her neck and décolletage.

“Thanks,” he replied. “I like your robe. I like it a lot.”

She felt warm all over. The room seemed to be swaying beneath her feet. She coughed to clear her suddenly dry throat. “Yeah, it’s a nice robe.” The room began to spin faster as she breathed in deeply the masculine scent of him. “I don’t wear it around much since it has the tendency to slide off me at the most inconvenient times.”

Mike’s lips lightly brushed against her earlobe. “Show me,” he whispered.

Her knees turned to liquid. She knew she had to get a grip on herself, turn the conversation around somehow, but she couldn’t. A moment later the acrid smell of burning cloth brought her back to reality.

“Mike?”

 He nuzzled her earlobe again. “Hmm, yes?”

She opened one eye slowly. “I think we’ve ruined my dress.”

“I’ll get you a new one.” He took the iron from her and yanked the plug from the wall.

 “What’ll I wear tonight then?”

He put the iron down and slowly turned her to face him.  “I like what you’ve got on now.”

The Fixer-Uppers
by Cynthianna Appel
Moonlit Romance (http://www.moonlitromance.com/fixeruppers.html)
Cynthianna
http://www.cynthianna.com/fixeruppers.html

Monday, March 31, 2008

Looking Forward to Spring

Margaret Callaghan
http://mcallaghan3.googlepages.com/home

An Easter tradition: Decorated Eggs
Eggs have long been regarded as symbol of renewed life.

White-shelled hen’s eggs are best for this. When hardboiled with dark colored vegetables such as spinach or beetroot, the eggs take on some of their color. For a bigger range of colors add a few drops of a chosen food coloring to the water. Add variety with patterns by arranging narrow strips of masking tape onto the eggs before boiling in the colored water. Peel off the tapes after cooking to reveal the un-dyed white parts against a colored background. Polishing the boiled eggs with a little olive oil adds gloss. Another alternative is to boil the eggs in plain water and then decorate with wax crayons, vegetable dyes or even water colors, oil paints or felt tip pens. All it needs is a little imagination. Oh yes, and children to help with the fiddly parts.

Robin Bayne
www.robinbayne.com

I don’t have a green thumb, but I know spring is approaching when my husband moves all of his plants and trees to the front porch. I like to sit out there and read or write on warm spring days. There’s something inspiring about writing surrounded by greenery in the warm breeze.


Deb Kinnard


This late-winter has been brutal in Chicago. So I thought I’d try something new—forcing blooms. I cut a couple branches off the forsythia tree in the front garden, put ‘em in some warm water and changed the water each day, just like the gardening site said to do. Voila! I have sunny yellow blossoms just beginning to peek out. It gives some much-needed hope while we shovel out from under our fifteenth straight snowstorm .

Gina Hartoog

This is great fun if you have kids - write a name in seeds. Prepare a flat container (15cm) with any soil. Soak wheat grass seeds overnight before planting. Sprinkle seeds closely together over the soil to spell out the name. Sprinkle a layer of soil over the seeds and water lightly. Cover with newspaper and place on the patio or windowsill. Mist lightly with water everyday until green sprouts are visible, then remove newspaper and wait for the grass to grow taller.

Judy Huston

Spring-time gardening tip: Pour yourself a glass of your favourite red or white, turn the telly on to one of those classy gardening shows where everyone knows exactly when and how to prune and mulch and do whatever else you are supposed to do in gardens, and where everything always grows to neat and tidy perfection. Forget the wilderness awaiting you outside. Sip and watch. Dream. Escape. . .

Judy Jarvie
www.judyjarvie.com

Hyacinth Heaven – why spend money on artificial air fresheners for the home? Go to your nearest plant store and buy some beautiful ‘real’ flowering hyacinth bulbs. Place in a prominent position in a nice container with several small stakes to keep the plants upright as they get heavier – voila! Breathe in that amazing aroma as they flower. A beautiful fragrant natural focal point! Enjoy the arrival of Spring.

Sherry (Shara) Jones

Peanut Butter No-Cook “Easter Eggs”
No baking required. Delicious, quick and easy ball cookies.

Ingredients:

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 pound white candy coating or almond bark

To Do:

· Combine sugar, peanut butter and margarine in a mixing bowl.
· Shape into 1-inch balls and put in the refrigerator to chill about 30 minutes.
· While balls chill, melt candy coating in the microwave until smooth for about 2- 3 minutes.
· Dip the balls into the melted candy coating and cover completely.
· Place on waxed paper to harden.

These make a nice gift displayed in a pretty jar with a ribbon.

Susan Atwood
www.susanatwoodsbooks.blogspot.com
My “over-the-back-fence” neighbor told me how to make this one evening last spring—over the back fence, of course!

Shelley’s Ten-Minute Potato Salad

4-6 potatoes, cooked and cut in bite-sized chunks
3-4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
(I cheat and buy the little pouch of already cooked/crumbled bacon)
Ranch dressing.

Cook the potatoes any way you like (peel or not; boil/steam/nuke.) I’m always in a hurry, so I just scrub ’em and nuke ’em like you would a “baked” potato with the skins on and then cut them up. Add bottled Ranch dressing to coat. Sprinkle with bacon. Toss. Serve warm/room temperature.


Angie Martin
http://angiemartin.webs.com/

Ever since I was a child I’ve planted vegetables and flowers in the springtime. Back then it was in a small garden at the back of the house, where my parents let me and my brother each have a little area to plant our own veggies. I remember the fun and excitement we felt at the planting, and watering with our own little watering-can and watching the first few green leaves peek out from the soil.
We never could remember what we planted where, so it would always be an interesting surprise to see which little row was carrots, which one was lettuce and which one was parsley and so on.
As I got older I thought it would be better knowing which plants were where, so I started using Popsicle sticks and writing the plant name on it and placing it at the end of the row. Made it much easier to see that “oh, look, the deer ate all the budding lettuce.” Or “I see the neighbour’s cat used my parsley row as a potty area – again!”

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Editor’s Desk: Tip of the Day.... Learning to Look at Your Novel Objectively

My apologies for this Friday blog being a day late, there were some technical difficulties.

Here’s a tough concept for many writers accomplish: the ability to look at their work objectively. It does take practice and time to grow into this. It requires a willingness to detach enough to look at your own work with fresh eyes. It requires the ability to admit that your baby isn’t perfect and that there’s always room to learn and grow in the craft of writing—a double whammy!

Easier said than done, right?

Likely.

But still, you should try it. Like nasty, disgusting lima beans, this could actually be good for you!

The Lima Beans...


You’ve finished the story. Excellent. That’s half the battle right there.

Lima Bean #1:Admitting that while you’re enamored with your brilliance, it’s just possible this Most Terrific Novel Ever Written could still be in that "diamond in the rough" stage.

Lima Bean #2: Keep an open mind about the comments you receive about your novel, especially if they’re from your trusted critique partner... or your editor. It’s hard to swallow the bean when you’re told your baby kinda resembles a head of rotting cauliflower—even if it’s said with love, so if you’re not ready for a critique from a trusted source, you’re not ready for an editor to look at it, either. Step 1 on the Road to Objectivity is to be open to the likely possibility that your cp (or editor) is right.

Lima Bean #3: Put the manuscript away. Step away from the manuscript. Let it age for a couple of weeks there on your hard drive. Refresh your mind. Remind yourself what your spouse looks like. Reintroduce yourself to your children. Calculate the number of sick days you used so you could finish the story and how many you have left for the year. Reacquaint yourself with the outlandish notion of eating a hot meal before it grows cold. Go scrub the mold that’s threatening to colonize your shower to oblivion. Refocus by starting a new WIP. Whatever you do... Don’t think about your story.

Lima Bean #4: When you get back to your novel, after you’ve eaten Lima Bean #3, read it like you’ve never seen it before. Keep an open mind to the fact that you’re likely to find places in your manuscript that have you wondering what exactly was in those chocolate chip cookies you ate while you wrote that particular scene. This is OKAY. This is GOOD. This means you just had an objective moment. Pat yourself on the back. Kiss your brain. Then get back to work! This is no time for slacking off— you’re on a roll!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Grammar Quiz

The It’s, Its, Their, There, They’re Quiz

Laura Hamby
You got 10/10 questions correct.

It's pretty obvious that you don't make basic grammatical errors.
If anything, you're annoyed when people make simple mistakes on their blogs.
As far as people with bad grammar go, you know they're only human.
And it's humanity and its current condition that truly disturb you sometimes.

Angie Martin
You got 10/10 questions correct.

It's pretty obvious that you don't make basic grammatical errors.
If anything, you're annoyed when people make simple mistakes on their blogs.
As far as people with bad grammar go, you know they're only human.
And it's humanity and its current condition that truly disturb you sometimes.


How well did YOU score?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Rock Star By Any Other Name...

We weigh the names we give our children. Our pets. Some of us name our houses and cars, too. And then for writers, there’s naming characters. This can be easy, it can be hard. However, we have Blog Things to help us name our next Rock Star Character. GO HERE!

Blog mistresses Laura and Angie have learned the following:

Laura will have a rock star named Brooklyne Vicious. Now there’s a visual for you. Brooklyne is 6 feet tall, barefooted. She’s fond of wearing retro-1970's wedges, which brings her to a towering 6 ft. 5 in., give or take an inch or two. Her long black hair is sleek and shiny, the perfect foil for her pale pink complexion and deep blue eyes. She prefers halter tops (a la the 1970's) and tight fighting leggings, with large clunky jewelry. Her dramatic use of black eyeliner and bright blue eyeshadow complete her "signature look."

Angie will have a rock star named Skittlez Destruction.
Skittlez is a very colourful person. She is short, only 4’ 9” but makes up for this by having her short bright pink hair fluffed up really high and wearing sparkly light blue 6” heels. In between she prefers to wear light green sparkly tight clothes, and a wide shiny purple belt, which may not be the best look for her, as she is about the same girth as her height. She tends to remind people of a happy Easter egg while singing and dancing around on stage.

What are you waiting for? Go find out what you should name YOUR rock star character!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Editor’s Desk: Tip of the Day...Revising Your Manuscript

Okay. You’ve written the first (or rough) draft of your Magnificent Novel. Congratulations! That’s an accomplishment, whether you’re published or not. It means you found a story to tell that you were passionate enough about to bother committing to...er...computer memory. ;)

You’re done. Right?

Nope.

Now it’s time to revise.

Wait a minute. I’ve heard this word "revise" before. Do I have to?

In a nutshell: YES!

Reasons to Revise:


To make your novel the best it can be.

That’s it. Really. It’s your chance to make sure you’ve tied up all the loose ends. That the character and story arc mesh to make this story work. To tighten your prose; to balance your narrative, exposition and action; strengthen your characters’ GMC; to add that extra added *punch!* to the emotion....In short, making your novel the best it can be.

Monday, March 24, 2008

What Punctuation Mark Are You?

Who knew punctuation had "people personality"? Take this Blog Things Quiz to find out what punctuation you are, and share what you find out with us in the comment section.
Critique Partners and Best Friends Sherry Jones and Laura Hamby discovered their inner punctuation marks:

Sherry (Shara) Jones

You are a Dash

Your life is fast paced and varied. You are realistic, down to earth, and very honest.
You're often busy doing something interesting, and what you do changes quickly.
You have many facets to your personality, and you connect them together well.
You have a ton of interests. While some of them are a bit offbeat, they all tie together well.
You friends rely on you to bring novelty and excitement to their lives.
(And while you're the most interesting person they know, they can't help feeling like they don't know you well.)
You excel in: Anything to do with money
You get along best with: the Exclamation Point

Laura Hamby

You are a Comma


You are open minded and extremely optimistic.
You enjoy almost all facets of life. You can find the good in almost anything.

You keep yourself busy with tons of friends, activities, and interests.
You find it hard to turn down an opportunity, even if you are pressed for time.

Your friends find you fascinating, charming, and easy to talk to.
(But with so many competing interests, you friends do feel like you hardly have time for them.)

You excel in: Inspiring people

You get along best with: The Question Mark.

Friday, March 21, 2008

*Mr. Beckman's Secretary* by JoAnn Carter available NOW


Mr. Beckman's Secretary
by JoAnn Carter


When Harrison Beckman meets his father's secretary, Daniella Duncan, she's shy and self-conscious. Harrison, however, is determined to get to know her better. Before he gets to do that a rival comes along to steal Dani's heart as quickly and thoroughly as the company's contracts, which have been disappearing.

As the mystery unfolds, Harrison has to fight for the woman he loves, even though this means crossing swords with his father and his determined adversary. Will Harrison be able to find the love that could await them or will it be too late?

Purchase *Mr. Beckman's Secretary* by JoAnn Carter.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Excerpt from *Mr. Beckman’s Secretary* by JoAnn Carter, By Grace Publishing

Mr. Beckman’s Secretary
by JoAnn Carter
© 2008

When Harrison Beckman meets his father’s secretary, Daniella Duncan, she’s shy and self-conscious. Harrison, however, is determined to get to know her better. Before he gets to do that a rival comes along to steal Dani’s heart as quickly and thoroughly as the company’s contracts, which have been disappearing.
As the mystery unfolds, Harrison has to fight for the woman he loves, even though this means crossing swords with his father and his determined adversary. Will Harrison be able to find the love that could await them or will it be too late?


EXCERPT : MR. BECKMAN’S SECRETARY

“For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

PROLOGUE
Daniella’s nine-year-old heart hammered in her chest, like a jackrabbit chased by a hound dog, as the boy stormed toward her.
“Hey, you little runt. Give me that bat!”
The heavy wooden club dropped from Daniella’s grip and landed with a puff of dry dust. The pungent smell of dirt overwhelmed her, and, coughing, she waved away the cloud of grit with a chubby hand.
The granules hadn’t even settled before the bully sneered, “You ain’t never gonna be on my team, fatso. You ain’t good enough.”
Daniella took a step backwards; her breath came in quick, shallow gasps.
The large boy loomed over her and the gym teacher called out, “All right, Troy.”
The boy continued to stare holes into her. Daniella somehow managed to drag her gaze away from him and looked across the field to where Mr. Hunt stood on the sidelines. He called out in a gruff voice, “I said, that’s enough.”
Troy spat in the dirt, narrowly missing the toe of Daniella’s worn left sneaker. “Aw,” he complained, “why do I always get stuck with the nerds?”
Mr. Hunt scrubbed a hand over his sweaty face and sighed. “Troy.”
Troy groaned, “Yeah, yeah, I know.”
Slump-shouldered, Mr. Hunt said to Daniella, “I want you to pick up the bat and at least try to keep your eyes on the ball this time.”
Daniella’s pulse pounded in her ears, making the teacher’s voice sound miles away. She fixed her eyes on the bat and wished the ground would swallow her up whole.

* * * *

The relentless beep, beep, beep of the alarm startled her awake. Dani slipped one hand from beneath the flannel sheets to slap the snooze button. Same old stupid, horrible dream she thought, burrowing deeper under the covers. Just a dream, but…
She rolled onto her back. Dani knew she had to get a grip, had to do something about this disruptive nightmare she’d had since elementary school.
Unfortunately, she’d always been one of those ‘once I’m awake, the night’s over’ types, so she flung the covers aside and slid both feet into her slippers, then shuffled toward the window. One quick tug at the bottom of the shade sent it flapping and snapping to the top, and the warm winter sun, peeping over the horizon, slanted across her room.
The clutter certainly had accumulated over the years. Stuffed animals scattered across the red carpet stared sightlessly through wide, shoe-button eyes. Her desk, littered with dictionaries, magazines, monitor and computer tower, sagged from the weight of its burdens. Rumpled bed linens spoiled the ‘look’ of her beautiful canopied bed, while Precious Moments collectibles collected dust on the bookshelves. There was even her baby blanket crocheted by Aunt Thelma, hanging over the back of Grandma Faye’s overstuffed chair. She really did need to get a grip, because the nightmare had overflowed from her dreams into just about every area of her life.
Like every other morning of her twenty-six-year existence, Dani squeezed her eyes shut, as if that could blot out the ugliness from her room… from her life. But if pretending for those few tranquil seconds that her life was, indeed, in order hadn’t worked in all these years, she had no reason to hope it would work today.
Eyes opened and teeth clenched, she folded her arms across her chest and straightened her spine. She had to start somewhere if her dream of an organized life was to come true.
I’ll start right after work, she promised herself.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

By Grace Publishing *Author Essay* by releasing author JoAnn Carter

What was fun/interesting/new insight I gained because I wrote this book? by JoAnn Carter

While in the middle of writing this story, I heard the song MIRROR MIRROR by Barlow Girl on the radio. As I listened to the lyrics, it hit me how many women like Dani, (the heroine in Mr. Beckman’s Secretary) struggles with self-image.
As the plot develops, and Dani comes to the realization God loves her the way he made her. I had to be honest and ask myself, “Do I believe that?” It’s easy for me to nod my head while I’m writing this, but it’s another story when I’m standing in one of those dinky changing rooms try to find a bathing suit for the summer!
Accepting myself is sometimes is a daily struggle. In the same way this story has challenged me, as you experience Dani growth reading this book, it’s my prayer that it will draw you closer to God as well. (If you’d like to hear Mirror Mirror, click onto this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZgq8pA-ipY&feature=related )


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By Grace Publishing Backlist *By The Book* by JoAnn Carter

Perky 24-year-old police dispatcher, Sarah Murphy, is held captive by images of her past. She doesn't trust men and is determined to hold onto her heart at all costs.
Lieutenant Dylan Eldredge of the Hampton Police Department believes she’s the woman God has intended for him and is equally determined to have her for his wife. But can he prove he’s the man for her?

~*~*~*~

By Grace Publishing Backlist *WINTER WONDERS* anthology ~ Smuggler of the Heart by JoAnn Carter

Disheartened and tired, Samantha Warren returns to Vermont during the winter break. Her passion for history rekindles after finding an old smuggler’s chest hidden in her grandparents' attic. Will she be able to return to New Jersey without her heart being smuggled like the chest once was? Or is it already too late?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

By Grace release week *Mr.Beckman's Secretary* by JoAnn Carter

JoAnn Carter's Biography

Hi! My name is JoAnn Carter. I live in Vermont with my wonderful husband of 15 years, four children, and the best dog in the world...Ginger. I love to be with my family & friends, write, read, and cook. I'm a Licensed Practical Nurse, but currently I'm not working in the medical field. Rather, to be home with my children, I've chosen to work as a substitute teacher, which I fully enjoy.
I love to hear from readers! Please visit my web-page to contact me @ http://home.comcast.net/~jo.glenncarter/site/

Friday, March 14, 2008

University Day: The Sagging Middle, Part 2

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Last week, the UE authors shared tips on how to recognize the dreaded Sagging Middle. This week, we have tips for how to firm that Sagging Middle.

Margaret Callaghan
1. Move forward and work on the next key scene, moving back to the sagging middle once the pace has picked up.
2. Be ruthless and cut out any dialogue that does not move the plot forward.
3. Re-visit the plan and timescale and adjust accordingly. If writing ‘into the mist’, plot out the rest of the book by logging at least the main points of conflict.

JoAnn Carter
Plan for the climax. i.e. re-read your chapters and see if you have a blend of dialogue, conflict and character development to help set-up your fulfilling ending.

Ask yourself if the character’s experiences are leading up to who you want him/her to be by the end.

Ask yourself if you’re staying true to the story or following rabbit trails? You may need to re-familiarize yourself with your time-line, through-line or summary… or if you don’t have one of those re-connect why you wanted to write this story.

Meg Allison
Go through with a firm hand – and a red pen – and cut any and all scenes; bits of dialogue; description, etc, that do not either move the plot along or advance the romance. Do you love a scene more than you love the story? It’s time to be tough.

Deepen the main conflict. This can be done by revealing a ‘secret’; introducing a new secondary character; or, my favorite, killing someone off. :)

Tear them apart! Don’t let your hero/heroine become a happy couple too soon. They can’t admit they’re in love … or if they do, through an obstacle between them. The happy ending has to be just that – an ending, not a middle.

Josh Lockwood
1. Give them another problem to overcome.
2. Introduce an antagonist.
3. Beef up the beginning of the story so the middle doesn’t have a chance to sag.

Cindy Green
Come up with some extra crag to the story that is totally unexpected – a character, an event that mixes everything up a bit.

Make sure you are showing what has happened instead of having a character tell or think about it.

Keep sight of your main characters – what is their emotional level at this point and utilize that to stir the story up.

Sherry (Shara) Jones
Tip Number One: Once you resolve a conflict, introduce another conflict to increase the stakes.

Tip Number Two: Change the POV to reveal a different perspective on the conflict, introducing a fresh spin or to reveal new information.

Tip Number Three: Make the reader care. Up the emotional stakes to show character growth.

Angie Martin
Can anything change in the current setting/situation of your characters? Should it change? If it should, how should it change, for the better for the character? For the worse? How would a change affect the following scenes but still bring them to the happy ending you have planned?

Have the characters grown or learned anything from the previous experiences, or are they just repeating the same actions and saying the same words?

Are all the scenes actually needed to move the story forward? Do we need to know that aunt Mildred feeds her cat Princess every morning at 8:05? If not, painful as it may be, remove the scene. (Aunt Mildred really is much happier feeding her cat in anonymity anyway.)


Laura Hamby
Some questions to consider about your Sagging Middle:

1. How does this move the story forward? Am I saying it in the best possible manner?

2. Is the conflict strong enough to carry the story through? Am I bringing the conflicts (internal and external) towards resolution in a realistic and well-paced manner?

3. Have I gotten off track? Am I chasing down a scenic rabbit trail? Do I need to go back and remove any scenes to a "choppity chop" file in order to get the story back to where it needs to be?


Judy Jarvie
Pace and punch – have a read for pace and punch and see if you’re lacking. Pace and punch are key drivers in writing and if you lose them you can let your story go off the boil.

Is the piece emotional? Are you losing sight of what matters to your characters? Remember emotion is the key seller and if you haven’t ‘dug into/tuned in’ enough you may be losing the heart of the story.

Don’t be afraid to skip it – sometimes if you hit a block you just need a ‘breather’ to get to clear writing space. If skipping the hard part and coming back helps you find your mojo – then do it. Remember – getting the first draft down is the important part. Better to skip and finish than to leave a piece of work languishing because you got stuck in the middle.

Robin Bayne
Jot a timeline through the middle of the story, and chart each character’s progress.

Determine if each scene is needed—can you cut a whole scene without interrupting the flow?

Jot down a summary of your ending. Will the middle you have now support that?

Susan Atwood
1. Now is the time to reveal some information that will give the reader better insight into the characters. Make sure there is something new, not just a rehash.
2. Always a good time for a plot twist. Send the ho-hum, everything’s hunky-dory plot in a new direction.
3. Up the emotion between the hero and heroine in every encounter.

Gina Hartoog
* Play the ‘what if’ brain-storm game with some weak scenes. What if so-and-so dies, what if she finds out he killed someone. This can help you to increase the tension and suspense often lacking in ‘middles’.

* Read your work aloud. This helps you to catch repeated words, clichés and obstacles that draw away from the story.

* Leave your computer and invest in some ‘thinking time’ in your plot as a whole. Perhaps your characters need to move in another direction from where you are taking them. If you hit on something interesting, go with even if it isn’t where you envisioned the story to be.

Judy Huston
Plan to zip one or more of your characters into a new setting. This can freshen things up for both you and the reader (not to mention the characters!)

Keep the background info and flashbacks at a minimum.

Make sure there’s plenty of action and developments to keep things moving and to keep the reader wanting to know what happens next.

Deb Kinnard
1) If your characters are the problem, interview them. Write down several questions about their history, likes/dislikes, primary motivators, and the like. See what they “say” to you and use it to jazz up the middle chapters in your tale.

2) Consider your setting. For characters, like real people, a change of scene can be quite invigorating. Are they in the country? Give them a compelling reason to travel into the city. Are they getting burned out by the stresses of urban life? Give them a reason to take a break for a day and rediscover each other.

3) I’ve found I tend to draw out “travel” scenes way too much. Sometimes when these scenes happen in the middle of a book, I find I can cut pages down to a paragraph or two and nothing is lost—quite the opposite. The spark comes back.

Grace Tyler
1. Distractions R Us:
Turn off the internet. No, really. Do it now. Close the browser. Step away from your email. Do not answer the persistent call of your friends’ IMs. Turn off the television and the phone. Set the timer. Write some crap for a set amount of time, no matter what. No, you don’t need to clean the toilet today. It will just get dirty again, anyway, and you’ve got a sagging middle (and perhaps a deadline) to shore up. Spousal unit and/or kids can order pizza today. You’ve got a novel to save!!!!

2. What If:
There are probably as many ways to play this game as there are writers. I have a couple of ideas for you.

What if…Nora Roberts/Sandra Brown/Debbie Macomber/Lori Foster, etc. were writing this book? What would happen next? See where this is going? If you write cozy sweet novels and your middle is just sagging and you don’t know what should happen next, pretend you are J.D. Robb or Janet Evanovich. What would she throw in here to spice things up? A dead body? An exploding car? A second love interest? The more different from your own style, the better. Jot the ideas down and get your juices flowing.

Still can’t think of a thing? If you just can’t figure out what to type and you’ve gotten rid of your distractions (see Idea #1), I’ll let you get back on IM or the phone and call your best writing pal for help. Now, you have to work. No gossip or complaining about the spousal units. You are going to play the “what if” game, and it really helps to get someone else to help, because they will come up with some wild ideas you would never think of. After all, your heroine just wouldn’t do that. Or would she? What if she did, and …

3. Now hang up and get back to writing. After you’ve played a couple of creativity games with yourself, you’ll filter those outrageous ideas and find something that fits with your style and your book. Happy writing!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Writing Prompts: St. Patrick's Day Limericks

Strikes Don't Matter by Denise Patrick Reviewed by Coffeetime Romance

I am thoroughly impressed with Ms. Patrick’s writing style... Krista, Coffeetime Romance. Read this 4 Cup Review HERE.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Margaret Callaghan

An Irishman living in Spain
Went walking one day on the plain.
He came to a river
And crossed in a dither
And never was heard of again.


JoAnn Carter

St. Patrick went to Ireland in the 5th century to proclaim…

There is no greater joy my dear friend,
then to know Jesus whom God ever sends.
To live in our hearts,
He never will part.
Praise God, He’ll be with me to the end!


Robin Bayne

St Paddy’s is a day of great joy,
Did you know he was once a real boy?
He cared for us all,
The weak and the small,
Now his day we can all enjoy.


Cindy K. Green

There once was a lass name Kathleen
Who was fresh as a rose at eighteen
She met a nice lad; who was of the name of Chad
And they lived happily ever after in a house of sage green


Gina Hartoog

There once was an Irish gent
Who lived in a striking green tent
Then on St. Patrick’s Day
The wind came up and blew it away


Josh Lockwood

There was an old man from Claddagh
Had a tryst with the sheriff’s dear Ma.
He ran out of the town
With his trousers still down,
Just one hop ahead of the law.


Judy Huston

It’s snake-free in Ireland, they say
‘Cause when my forebears set sail one fine day,
St Pat gave ‘em a bin
Reptile-packed to the brim
And said, “Take the darlin’s Down Under to stay!”


Judy Jarvie

There once was a man called O’Malley
So in love with a woman called Sally
That he went half insane
When he just heard her name
And a glimpse of her sent him Doolally!


Grace Tyler

There was an old man from Nantucket
Who kept all his balls in a bucket.
On the fairway he’d play.
At the end of the day
Poor man was too tired to duck it.


Meg Allison

There once was a lovely Colleen,
Who thought all of life she had seen,
She traveled to Galway; O’Brien had his way,
Soon she found out what living did mean.


Sherry (Shara) Jones

From a leprechaun a country girl won a charm.
She looked around her place in alarm.
She gave the clover a kiss,
Made a magical wish,
And suddenly Handsome Dan appeared on her farm.


Laura Hamby

There once was a man in green
Upon his hat he wore a bean
For luck, so he said
This bean on his head
And his grin was wide and serene


Angie Martin

In Ireland there once was a guy with a stick
who had a very neat trick.
He banned all the snakes
from the land and the lakes,
that’s why they call him SAINT Patrick

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

By Grace Backlist Spotlight... *Angel With a Ray Gun* by Deb Kinnard

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Deb Kinnard


Deborah Kinnard started writing at age ten, frustrated because there was no preteen girl with a horse in Bonanza. Between raising two active girls and a delusional cat amongst the books, cherishing a husband, pursuing a couple of college degrees, and a career in health information at a big Chicago teaching hospital, I’ve been writing nonstop ever since. I’m a member of ACFW and the HISWriters subsection which includes people who are crazy enough to write historical romances. To date I have twenty finished manuscripts, five of which are published. ANGEL WITH A RAY GUN, my “fun book” was released in 2006 by By Grace, then came the BRIDES AND BOUQUETS 2007 anthology with my story “Something Borrowed.” MY SILENT HEART is a November 2006By Grace release. Please see my website for information about my other published works. My web site is currently under construction for the 42nd time, just like the potholes in Chicago streets. My blog is at www.justtellthestory.blogspot.com

Angel With a Ray Gun... Back Cover Blurb

Matt Greenlee mixes an active ministry with science fiction writing under a pen name. When he’s assigned a new—female—editor, Matt scents disaster. What sort of damage will she do his next bestseller? Secretly he fears attraction, considering himself poor husband material. How can he risk his heart?

AJ Mercer edits books for a living, and she’s good at it. Matt as an author is a challenge. As a man, even more so. Her wingy, crystal-power, anything-goes mother advises her to go with the flow. AJ’s offbeat upbringing has left her wary of both Christianity and men, but she’s attracted to her client. The gloves are off—his biases versus her need for success.

When these two mix it up over a book, can they find happiness, either loving or literary?


Excerpt... Angel With a Ray Gun by Deborah Kinnard

The appointment was set for Tuesday at three. Matt found many ways to keep busy, gulping analgesics to keep a pounding tension headache at bay. Tuesday morning he found respite in repainting the teenagers’ meeting room with some of the other guys. Tuesday afternoon crept by more slowly than college chemistry lab. The clock hands didn’t crawl toward three, they oozed. Matt prayed she’d be late, then chastised himself as a stupid kid. Best to get the ordeal over with.

At two minutes after the hour, he heard a car door open. Certain that it was unseemly for a minister to peek through the windows, he put his eye to the open casement anyway. She put one leg out the car door. A slender, dainty leg, encased in black to the toe of the chunky, stylish shoe. Then the rest of her emerged, a sight that made Matt’s jaw drop.

She was built like original sin.

He gaped. The female, presumably AJ Mercer, put both hands behind a swan-like neck and took her time stretching the kinks out. With her short black skirt she wore an amber turtleneck, the sort of shirt nobody with a spare pound could manage. Her height was below average, though perfect proportions made those dancer’s legs appear longer than they could possibly be. Her hair was worn short, not long as he liked it on women. A sleek, trendy haircut for ebony-brown hair that shone like mink in the sun.

His mouth went dry with a sudden burst of interest. Now where on earth did that zip of awareness come from? “Relax,” he muttered, flexing tension out of his arms. “Twenty-nine, single, normal. People get attractions from time to time. Chill.”
The impossible editor grabbed a brown leather attaché and approached the church doors. Lloyd Daviess could bluster and boom until the Second Coming. Matt would not, could not court catastrophe like this. “Aw, c’mon, Greenlee,” he scolded himself. “Get real. You sound like a Dr. Seuss storybook.”

He glanced around. His office was its usual tidy self, courtesy of his faithful secretary Jeri and disposable dust rags. A few books, of course, piled on the flat surfaces, but nothing out of the ordinary for an SF writing preacher.

He prepared for this affront of an editor with the jazz dancer’s walk. Matt made sure his plaid shirt was tucked into his jeans all the way around. He scrubbed his front teeth with a frantic tongue, trying to recall if he’d eaten broccoli for lunch. He thrust both hands through his hair to finger-comb it, and fled his office. There wasn’t time for more.

Wrong again, Jake Starborn whispered just behind his left ear. It’s the Warrior’s duty to approve the female, not the other way around. “Shut up, Jake.” He forced himself to descend the stairs toward the parking lot.

His footsteps on the pavement didn’t make her glance his way, so he cleared his throat. “Hello.”

Her dark head snapped up. “This is a church.” She didn’t spit the word, not quite.
Matt feigned shock, glancing around at the big two-story sanctuary, the attached classroom and office wing, the day care center’s fenced play area. “You know, you’re right. Now when did they put this up? There was a perfectly good diner here a few years ago.” He grinned to show her he was kidding, watching as a rosy glow spread over a pale porcelain complexion. Did the woman never get out into the sunshine?
“Sorry. Of course it’s a church. I’m looking for Mor—Matt Greenlee.”

“You found him. Both of him are me.” He stuck out his hand. “And you would be AJ Mercer.”

She nodded. Her clasp was firm and yet feminine, her hand less than half the size of his. Peered at through an office window, AJ’s appearance was, well, interesting. Viewed up close, the correct term was ‘stunning.’

Hold on, Buster, said Jake, she’s too short. And don’t you prefer blondes?

Purchase Angel With a Ray Gun by Deborah Kinnard at By Grace!

Friday, March 7, 2008

University Day: Your Middle May Be Sagging If...

No, we're not talking about the sagging middle many of us carry around on a daily basis, either. We're talking signs that you've hit that invisible, yet very scary wall and are suffering from Sagging Middle Syndrome. Next week, we'll have tips for firming up that problem.

Margaret Callaghan
1. Writing gives way to Spider Solitaire.
2. Redrafting the opening chapters has become an obsession.
3. The dialogue between the two main characters becomes forced and stilted.

JoAnn Carter
There is no immediate conflict.
The scenes are not moving the story forward.

Meg Allison
You fall asleep at the computer while editing chapter four.
Your major conflict is resolved by chapter five.
You use seven paragraphs to describe the heroine’s outfit in chapter six. She’s wearing jeans, sneakers and a t-shirt.

Robin Bayne
Your characters begin to venture into scenes that don’t contribute to the story.
Your descriptions get longer, slowing the action to a minimum.

Susan Atwood
The introduction of secondary characters who will only provide “fluff” and have no relevance to the plot.

The emotional play between the hero and heroine becomes stagnant.

Repetition of back story

Judy Huston
Writing it is a chore you begin to dread.
Once it’s finished, even you start yawning when you read it.

Cindy Green
If you are bored with your characters or plot then the readers will be too
You’ve lost focus of the plot to get you to the finale
You do in several chapters what could have been accomplished in one

Judy Jarvie
Where’s the oomph gone? If you’re feeling like you’re train’s run out of steam, there’s a sagging middle.

You’ve peaked too soon.

Josh Lockwood
I know I’ve got a sagging middle when I start adding scenes that don’t contribute
to the story just because I need the word count.

Gina Hartoog
* You lose interest in the story as you get into the middle chapters. If it doesn’t grab and hold your attention, it’s unlikely to affect your readers.
* Your characters lose their depth and become two dimensional
* Plot loses impact. Scenes don’t propel the story forward.

Deb Kinnard
1) You fall seriously out of love with your plot or your characters.
2) You re-read your middle chapters and discover that although you’ve written some dynamite scenes, absolutely nothing in them moves the plot forward.
3) You’re not being rough enough on your characters.

Angie Martin
The sagging middle… well, one sign that it’s sagging is when you decide that you are getting bored reading it, and just want to skip ahead.

When your characters seem “out of place”. Would they really be in this place/situation if they are headed for the ending you are planning? Or are they just wasting time?


When the character’s conversations have become stilted and they seem to spend more time watching the scenery around them than actively doing something.

Sherry Jones
Sign number one – The original conflict hasn’t been resolved, increased, or changed in any way.

Sign number two – The characters aren’t revealing any new information and have become ‘talking heads’ — generating conversation, but little substance.

Sign number three – The emotional stakes haven’t changed so as to show character growth.

Laura Hamby
#1 No matter how hard you try, you can't finish that sentence/phrase/paragraph/chapter.

#2 What you have been able to write contributes nothing to the story plot-wise, romance-wise, character development-wise-- in other words, it does absolutely nothing for the story arc.

#3 You've written just exposition, or just narrative, or just action.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Name That Author

We've had two months of "Name That Title" so it's a refreshing change of pace today that we have hints for "Name That Author"! Good luck.

1. I'm busy with a number of things, including homeschooling my daughter.
2. One of my titles is A Nice Cup of Tea.
3. I've appeared in each and every spooky anthology: 2005, 2006, 2007.
4. One of my heroines is named Veronica Lowe.
5. I opened Moonlit Romance in 2006.

Who am I?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

E-Mag Shortie: *Easter Parade* by Sherry (Shara) Jones

Easter Parade by Sherry Jones


“Hello, there. A mayor’s work is never done?”

Cade Benson squinted against the noonday sun and took in Laurel Kingston's long length. The Creative Director of WonderMart, herself.

Cade knew her type. Breeze into the small town, make a dazzling display and we’re here for you speeches before the corporate juggernaut rolled on towards the next small town that struggled to maintain a sense of community in the face of inevitable progress.

He had nothing against progress and the town could do a lot worse than WonderMart. It would serve to revitalize a stagnant economy for the area and provide jobs for many. No, he objected to the knowledge that WonderMart, for all its discount prices, would never really be part of the community.

Any more than the woman who grabbed his feelings from deep inside and made him want to settle down and raise a family would ever be part of the community, either. Women like her rarely stayed in such a small town by choice.

“Hello, Laurel. Sadie here has an issue that needs fixing.” He refocused his attention on the soapbox derby car. “These nuts need tightened because you don’t want to lose a wheel when you come screaming down Widowmaker Hill toward the finish line,” he explained to the little girl who stared in awe at him with a dirty, upturned face.

“I wouldn’t wanna to crash,” Sadie agreed solemnly. “This lady here said that we would get our pictures in the newspaper.”

“Well, I’ll bring the City Hall camera to take your picture, because I’m sure Ms. Kinston will be too busy ushering the corporate bigwigs around.”

“Why do your friends wear big wigs? Is it for Easter? Cuz my mama said that Brookdale used to have an Easter Parade and everybody would wear big hats and stuff. We don’t do that anymore.”

“Would you like to have the Easter Parade again? It sounds like fun.” Laurel knelt down to the little girl’s eye level. It also put her on Cade’s level as well. He could see the natural honey-gold streaks in her hair and just catch a whiff of her delicate perfume.

“I would wear a big hat with big paper flowers on it.” Sadie stretched out her arms to illustrate, which caused Laurel to overbalance.

“I think I'd like that, too,” Laurel told Sadie and favored Cade with a smile as he helped her upright.

“Maybe WonderMart would like to lead the parade,” Cade said in derision.

Laurel waved to Sadie’s mother who followed behind as the little girl navigated down the street towards home. “What a cynical attitude you have.” She tilted her head as looked at him.

Cade stood slowly, wiped his hands on the bandana that hung like a flag from the back pocket of his jeans. “I had no idea that WonderMart was the corporation with a heart. Does the WonderMart CEO plan to man a scooper at our next ice cream social?”

“Well, not the CEO of WonderMart, Mr. Mayor, but others will certainly participate.” Laurel looked away to return a greeting from the local realtor.

“You’d come from the city to scoop ice cream,” he snorted in disbelief. “Did Bob McCann just ask you to sign some lease papers?”

Laurel’s smile slid beautifully over her face. “I have to go. I have a proposition to discuss with you, if you can schedule me some time,” she called over her shoulder as she hurried towards the realty office.

Cade made up his mind in an instant. “Meet me at five o’clock in the town square by the flower garden.” He watched as she gave a flutter of her long, slender fingers in reply.
* * * *


Laurel hung up the phone and pumped her fist in silent exultation. “It’s perfect, if I do say so myself,” she crowed as she did a little victory dance. “Now to meet Cade and convince him.”

During the walk from her room at the local bed & breakfast, to her destination at the town center garden, she'd stop, stare and just breathe. Everything in the little town of Brookdale exuded Norman Rockwell type nostalgia. She certainly didn’t want to diminish that aspect.

She’d dealt with her share of objectors who balked at having a WonderMart settle into their town. It was never a good thing if the mayor led the opposition. She hoped that her proposition might curb his reticence.

Laurel reached the gardens, eager to meet Cade. Such a cruel irony that he who also happened to be the one man that made her heart thrum like a host of hummingbirds with beating wings. He never needed to know that sensation had figured into her recent life changes.

“I brought dinner.” Cade waved a white paper sack from a local meat market that specialized in slow cooked barbeque. “You can tell me about your proposal while we eat.” Cade placed a protective hand against her lower back as they navigated over an uneven place in the aged sidewalk towards a quaint gazebo.

“WonderMart has agreed to sponsor the Easter Parade as an annual event. I think its good business to revive a favored tradition. This will be my last official act for WonderMart.”

“The town will love the idea of reviving the parade. It’s gotten too expensive for City Hall’s coffers these past few years. You’re really quitting WonderMart?” Cade gave her a narrow-eyed stare.

“I resigned my position last week when I leased on that empty storefront on Main. I belong here. I can feel it. I’m putting down roots, so deal with it, Mr. Mayor.”
Hours passed as they enjoyed the sunshine that faded into a starlit evening while they shared their dreams.

“Well, Madame Shopkeeper, might I offer my escort for the upcoming Easter Parade?”
“I would be delighted to accept, Mr. Mayor. Do you favor Easter bonnets with large paper flowers?”

“Not for myself, especially, but I’d favor a certain lady under such a bonnet. Shall we seal the deal with a kiss?”

Two silhouettes blended in lengthened shadows across the sidewalk under a glowing moon.

The town would later declare the Mayor’s engagement had made it their best Easter Parade ever.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Moonlit Romance in the Spotlight: *Taking the Leap* by Judy Jarvie


Practice nurse Anya Fraser’s adopted son is at the centre of her life.  But when her new senior partner, Dr Max Calder arrives at work, distracting her in too many ways, suddenly her anti-relationship mantra isn’t working. Max volunteers to help her succeed at the charity parachute jump she’s so terrified of and attraction simmers from the off. Taking a leap of faith has never proved so scary nor so attractive –- how will they cope with the challenge of working together and taking to the skies? And resisting a future their pasts taught them to avoid?

Taking the Leap by Judy Jarvie


Next day Max strode through Cala Muir reception in pale khaki aviator overalls that were so sinfully sexy they should have carried a censorship warning and encryption against susceptible female attention. From head to foot he represented every woman’s private Topgun fantasy. Or Anya’s anyway. She gulped.

Even in unflattering utility wear the guy was super hot.

Could she be losing her wits lately? All she had on the brain when it came to Max nowadays was lustful thoughts. All too easily her thoughts slipped to wondering what it would be like to open up all those press stud fastenings and zippers and slip her hands inside. To wonder what lurked beneath? Boxer shorts? Or gulp, count to three and keep calm, less than the above? Daredevil Doc. Commando. She recognised the now familiar striking way her pulse bobbed when his eyes met hers.

“Ready for adventure?” he teased. “Hey where’s your suit? Not chicken are you?”

She faltered.

“Er, I’m running late. Do we all have to wear those?”

He nodded sagely. “Oh yes. No half measures when Katie’s in charge.”

In spite of the comic overtones of his words, his hot look told her she needed to baton down her susceptibility force-field. She’d have to try her best to keep him at arms’ length if she were to stay level headed.

“All ready for my close up, Mr. De Mille!” He feigned a thespian tone. “How do you want me?”

Dressed like that, the epitome of her every bad boy fantasy? She could name a good dozen positions. All of them indecent, flagrant and raunchy.

Purchase Taking the Leap by Judy Jarvie at Moonlit Romance, the 2007 catalog.