Midweek Tease: Wedding Bell Blues

MWTease15Good morning! I’ve been MIA for some time, first dealing with a family emergency and then taking a much needed vacation in the sunny, warm south. I’m back from a 14-day cruise in the Western Caribbean and it’s time to get back to work. By the way, the water is just as beautiful as I knew it would be.

Mid-January, Wedding Bell Blues, my contemporary/paranormal/fantasy/suspense/funny novel was released. Today, I would like to bring you an excerpt from it. I’ve teased from this book before.

Here’s the blurb:

WBB final coverRomance, mermaids, cursed treasure, and more.

MJ’s having a bad year. She’s canceled her wedding, but refuses to give up the honeymoon. When she arrives on Paradise Island, she discovers her ex has changed the reservation. Stranded, she has to rely on her first love, a man who sees her as his kid sister, for help. When Paul discovers the man behind her plight is the bully who made his own teen years hell, he gets MJ to agree to pretend to be his fiancée. Reluctantly, she agrees. Add in mermaids, treasure hunters, and Quimbois magic, and anything can happen—even falling in love.

Here’s the set-up. MJ’s on her way to Paradise Island. How does Mother Nature greet her?

With rain, of course. Enjoy!

MJ stood at the railing of the resort’s passenger ferry letting the drizzle soak her. She rolled her eyes. With her luck, she would probably catch pneumonia, spend the next ten days in bed, and listen to Mama and Carla’s “I told you so” for the rest of her life.

Sighing, she shook her head. This was the twenty-first century. Despite Carla’s dire predictions, lots of women traveled alone and had wonderful trips, coming home intact with all their eggs and organs right where they were supposed to be, without any danger of being sacrificed to volcanoes, zombified in voodoo ceremonies, or kidnapped by pirates—although if a Captain Jack Sparrow lookalike wanted to take her captive, she might surrender.

Last evening, on what should’ve been her wedding night, she’d consoled herself with room service and a large bottle of wine. After opening at least three dozen messages from friends and cousins showing the lucky couple, she’d flung her cellphone across the room, shattering it. Eventually, she’d realized that had been a mistake and had contacted Carla.

Fine. I’ll let your mother know you dropped your phone, but you’ve got to keep that Greek-Irish temper of yours in check, MJ. It’s going to get you in trouble.

Staring out at the water, she huffed out a heavy breath. Somewhere out there, the man of her dreams waited for her. All she had to do was find him. She removed her glasses. There was so much mist on them, she couldn’t see through them anyway.

A vision of Paul the way he’d looked last Saturday, half-naked, his body slick with perspiration, filled her mind, obliterating the stormy seas. He’d looked good, but she would die before she threw herself at him. A girl could only take so much rejection, and she wasn’t going to grovel to any man ever again—not even men who looked like Greek gods.

The ship bucked the waves as it slowly crossed the distance between Martinique and Paradise Island. Ten miles seemed a lot longer by boat than by car. Her stomach roiled. She hated flying and had taken her medication, but with more turbulence than usual, it had been the worst flight of her life. While she didn’t usually get seasick, it seemed this boat ride would prove the exception. If she were going to toss her cookies, not that she had any since there hadn’t been a crumb to eat on the plane, she would rather do it overboard than in the crowded lounge.

Pursing her lips, she looked out at the horizon, but with the rain and without her lenses, there was nothing to see.

“Are you alright, miss?” The deep voice startled her.

She turned around. She didn’t need her glasses to tell her this was the bearded crewman who’d checked her ticket when she’d boarded, the one with the nasty scar on his cheek. What had Carla said? Kidnapped by pirates?

The man leaned against the gunwale beside her and exhaled a plume of smoke she realized came from cannabis, not tobacco.

“It’s dangerous for a landlubber to be up here alone in this weather.”

MJ smiled, her lips compressed.

“I’m not feeling too well. I’ll probably vomit all over myself shortly, and it seemed like a good idea to do it here rather than in there.”

He chuckled. “How considerate of you since I would be the one to clean the mess. Have a drag. It’ll settle your stomach.” He turned and offered her the joint.

“No, thanks,” she said, looking up at him. “I don’t … you know.”

He stared at her, mumbled something she didn’t understand, moving closer to her, invading her space.

Had she insulted him?

She tried to swallow, but her mouth was dry.

“No problem. Your kind rarely does.”

Her kind? What did he have her pegged as? Some prissy, tight-assed bitch?

“Jack Crowder,” he offered his empty hand.

“MJ Summers.” She reached for it, her hand limp in his. Why the hell had she given her real name? Probably because it was plastered all over her luggage.

“You’ve got gorgeous eyes, MJ Summers,” he said. “They remind me of these waters on a calm, sunny day. Beautiful and mysterious. A man could drown in eyes like yours.”

MJ’s cheeks heated.

Give me a break.

“Thanks,” she said. “Nothing special about them—they run in the family.”

She really needed to corral this imagination of hers. The man was flirting with her. Why was that so hard to believe? Hadn’t she hoped for a single man here? It wouldn’t be the first time her dreams didn’t turn out the way she wanted them to. She put her glasses on and smiled, her mouth lifted to the left.

He grinned, lifting his hand to push her hair back behind her ear.

It took everything in her not to bolt.

“I’ll bet they do.”

Please visit all of the other midweek teasers.

Want to read more of Wedding Bell Blues? It’s available, in ebook and paperback, from most online retailers.

https://mhsusannematthews.ca/books.php?book=wedding-bell-blues

#MidWeekTease February 7, 2018


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Tuesday Tales: From a Word ANGRY

Badge for TTWelcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. If you are a regular reader, you know that each week, I post an excerpt from a work in progress. To date, three of my published works got their start here: Hello Again, Forever and Always, and my latest novel, Wedding Bell Blues.

Currently, I’m working on a woman’s fiction piece called, Same Time Next Year. Since I’ve been away on vacation in the sunny south–14 days on a cruise ship in the Western Caribbean, pictures to come–I’ve gone back a bit to the last post to set the story.  As a reminder, this is a novel within a novel, as a 67 year-old woman recalls her first love, hoping to discover what went so wrong fifty years ago. The past is written in the first person point of view, while the present is third person and includes the hero’s viewpoint, too. You can read all the entries by looking at the log and selecting the Tuesday Tales posts each month. This week’s entry is a little long, and I apologize for that.

Tuesday Tales are written based on a prompt–either a picture or a word. This week, we have the word ANGRY.

Enjoy!

Twyla sat down in front of her laptop and pulled up her music files, choosing “Somethin’ Stupid,” by Frank and Nancy Sinatra, and letting the soft melody wrap her in its warmth. It was hard to believe a father and a daughter could’ve sung such a powerful love song. She and her father certainly couldn’t have. Sighing deeply, she opened the document she’d left during the night and began to type.

Chapter Two

I’d only been at The Captain’s Inn for a week, but my world had shrunk to this place and Michael. From the time I got up in the morning, the idea of being with him consumed me. The world seemed more alive. Even the colorful flowers delivered to the inn every morning had a fresher scent, no longer reminding me of funeral parlors and over-perfumed replacement teachers.

For the first time, the controversial novel of my teens made sense. I understood how Connie must’ve felt about seeing Oliver, pining for him when he wasn’t around. I wasn’t Lady Chatterley, but I felt her ache and pain. While I didn’t have a wheelchair-bound husband who was impotent, Michael and I had our own differences, issues that in retrospect proved to be insurmountable.

lockDuring the day while Michael worked, I ran errands for my mother and her friends, sometimes babysitting younger children, but most often, I simply sat on one of the picnic tables biding my time. If there were no boats waiting to move through the lock, he sat with me. Occasionally, Mavis would show up, give me the evil eye, and leave again, but generally, he was my idol, and I was his groupie. Some of the other summer students cracked jokes about his shadow, but I didn’t care. As long as Michael wanted me there, nothing else mattered.

Most days, we listened to music on my transistor radio and sipped soft drinks—nobody drank bottled water back then.

I cherished every second we spent together, hanging on his words as if they were pearls of wisdom. I loved the sound of his voice. He didn’t have his father’s Irish accent, but there was a lilt to it, a cadence so very different from the sounds of New Jersey that it beguiled me. No matter what he said, I listened, my eyes fixed on him as he told me about himself and his family, one so very different from my own that we could’ve been born on different planets.

When Michael had been accepted into RMC, his father, a new Canadian fresh from the Emerald Isle as he used to say, had been proud of him, so unlike the anger that had enveloped my father when Ethan had enlisted. Now that Michael had finished his education, he would have to serve five years in the army as an officer, not a grunt as Ethan called himself, and while I knew Michael would face danger just as my brother did, his future sounded so romantic and exciting, like something out of the past. He wouldn’t just be a soldier—no! He would be a member of something greater than himself or even his country. He would be part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces. I envied him as I’m sure Ethan would have, knowing he would’ve given anything for Father’s support.

I shared a little of my life with Michael, not wanting to dwell on our differences—working class Irish Catholic was a far cry from my father’s privileged Protestant forefathers who’d come over on the Mayflower. At the time, I didn’t realize we were as poor as church mice, father having sunk all of his money and most of Mother’s into Studebaker stock. We still lived as if we were rolling in dough, and until the bottom fell out of my world, I expected that to continue.

My musings ended when Michael finished tying down the lock doors and walked over to me, a smug smile on his face.

“How’d you like to blow this place for a couple of hours?” he asked, raising my chin with his index finger, my gaze drawn to his.

I smiled. “I would love to. Where do you want to go? Swimming?”

“I was thinking of someplace a bit more private. How about you show me that place you’re always talking about, you know that small pond on the road to Sand Lake. I have to be back by four, but that gives us a couple of hours, and I would love to be somewhere where we could be alone. I feel like I’m dating you inside a fishbowl.”

I laughed. “It’s not that bad.”

I trembled with anticipation, not knowing what to expect. Maybe he would kiss me, I mean really kiss me, like the French kisses Mary-Louise and her friends described, the ones that would fill me with the wicked needs that had led Lady Chatterley to betray her marital vows.

Under Mavis’s scowl, we got a couple of drinks from the store, a chocolate bar, and a bag of chips, and borrowed two of the resort’s bicycles. Since Michael had been coming to the area for more than fifteen years, he probably knew it as well as I did, but I believed my secret pond was mine alone.

fallWhen we reached it some twenty minutes later, it wasn’t nearly as private as I thought it would be, and all my hopes for my own secret tryst evaporated. We stood on the rock escarpment and sadness filled me. Someone had built a cottage below us. Children played in the water, their laughter shattering the peace and quiet I’d adored.

We spread towels on the grass and sat, side by side, eating the snack we’d brought with us. To this day, I can’t eat the nougat and chocolate bar without remembering that afternoon. After a while, the children went inside, and if I didn’t look down, I could pretend we were truly alone, away from prying eyes.

Michael put his arm around me. “It isn’t so bad here. We can see and hear them, but I doubt they can see us up here.” He tilted my chin toward him. “I’ve waited a week to do this. Jersey, you take my breath away.”

He bent his head and his lips captured mine. At first, the kiss was soft and gentle, but then, it was as if something exploded inside me, and I wanted more. I opened my mouth, not realizing that was the invitation he needed for the kiss I’d hoped for. When his tongue entered my mouth, fire started in my belly and worked its way down. Somehow, I was now on my back, his body partially covering mine that throbbed and ached in places I didn’t even know could behave that way. I needed something else—what exactly, I didn’t know—but before he could give it to me, the sound of a car horn forced us apart. We jumped up so quickly, it was amazing we didn’t get whiplash.

“God, Twyla, what you do to me. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get carried away. I’ve never felt about another girl the way I do about you.”

That was the moment when I understood what the song playing on the radio beside us meant, and the something stupid blurted out of me.

“I love you, Michael,” I said, my breath catching as my heartbeat thundered in my ears. “I’ve never been in love before. In fact, I’ve never even kissed anyone … like that … I feel happy and excited and sick to my stomach all at once. I didn’t know I could ever feel this way.”

Michael smiled. “Neither did I,” he said, looking around, making sure our audience was gone before kissing me again.

This time, my body burned. Within seconds, we were on the ground again, his mouth on mine driving me to madness. He moved his hands along my sides where he cupped the edge of my breasts, sending delicious shivers running up and down my spine. No wonder Connie had been willing to throw everything away for Oliver’s touch. As his hands moved along my body reaching the apex of my thighs, I cursed the clothes that kept his flesh from mine. If he’d wanted to strip me naked and take me on the grass, I wouldn’t have argued with him.

But Michael was a bit more clear headed than I was. Pulling his hands and his mouth away, he smiled down at me.

view 1“We can’t do this here. Not now, rushed like this. I know a much better place. We need to get back, but tomorrow, after my shift, I’ll take you where we can be alone without worrying about anyone seeing us. We can even go skinny dipping.”

My face had to be as red as my hair, but I grinned at him. I wasn’t quite sure exactly what skinny dipping involved, although I thought it might mean swimming in your underwear, but, whatever it was, I wasn’t going to let him see how clueless I was. He and Mavis probably skinny dipped all the time.

Michael kissed me again, just a quick peck that left me unsatisfied and then helped me stand. I rearranged my clothes, my own touch making me ache for his hands on me once more.

 

Twyla looked away, her body burning at the memory. How naïve she’d been, but if Michael walked in that door this minute, she would be putty in his hands just as she’d been that July afternoon. No one had ever touched her but him. He hadn’t coerced her. She’d been a willing participant. But he hadn’t repeated the words she’d said—there had been no “I love you” on his lips that day. Had there ever been?

Glancing down at her watch, she saw that it was almost three. Saving her work, she turned off the computer and stood. It was time to go and meet Nessa, time to discover what had gone so wrong all those years ago. What was it they said? The truth will set you free?

That’s it for this week! Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on  Tuesday Tales

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Tuesday Tales: From a Picture

Badge for TTGood morning. This will be my last Tuesday Tale for the next two weeks. as I head to warmer climate for a winter vacation with my spouse. I’m sure I’ll come back rejuvenated and full of wonderful ideas to carry me through the rest of the year.

If this is your first visit, Tuesday Tales is a closed weekly blog in which a small group of authors share a scene from a work in progress based on a word or picture prompt. These blogged scenes form the first draft of novels. This time around the prompt is a photograph. I’m continuing with Same Time Next Year, my first attempt at Women’s Fiction. For those of you who’ve been following the post, you know that it is a book within a book. The inside book is about a past love affair that ended badly, while the bulk of the book is present day and the author’s quest for answers to what went wrong. The hero’s point of view only occurs in the main book, and he tells his side of what happened fifty years ago through flashbacks. Our tragic couple is within a few posts of reuniting and trying to unscramble the miscommunication that has kept them apart all this time. This book is allowing me to look back on my own teenage years and remember the good times and the music I loved.  As always, picture prompt posts are limited to 300 words.

I chose the following image. Enjoy.flowers

Twyla pulled up her music files, choosing, “Somethin’ Stupid” and letting the soft melody envelope her. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNMLe3o4F-Y

It was hard to believe a father and daughter could’ve sung such a powerful love song. Sighing deeply, she opened the document she’d left during the night and began to type.

Chapter Two

I’d only been at The Captain’s Inn for a week, but my world had shrunk to this place and Michael. From the time I got up in the morning, the idea of being with him consumed me. The world seemed more alive. Even the colorful flowers delivered to the inn every morning had a fresher scent, no longer reminding me of funeral parlors and over-perfumed replacement teachers.

For the first time, the controversial novel of my teens made sense. I understood how Connie must’ve felt about seeing Oliver, pining for him when he wasn’t around. I wasn’t Lady Chatterley, but I felt her ache and pain.  I didn’t have a wheelchair-bound husband who was impotent, but Michael and I had our own differences, issues that in retrospect were insurmountable.

During the day, while Michael worked, I ran errands for my mother and her friends, sometimes babysitting younger children, but most often, I simply sat on one of the picnic tables biding my time. If there were no boats waiting to move through the lock, he sat with me. Occasionally, Mavis would show up, give me the evil eye, and leave again, but generally, he was my idol, and I was his groupie. Some of the other summer students cracked jokes about his shadow, but I didn’t care. As long as Michael wanted me there, nothing else mattered.

That’s it for this week! Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on  Tuesday Tales

Wedding Bell Blues is now available for purchase! Read the edited, finished product now.

 

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Tuesday Tales: From the Word TWIG

Badge for TTWelcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. The word prompt this week was twig. I had to get creative!

Enjoy.

By Sunday morning, Twyla was miserable, ready to admit that Billie might’ve been right, and she was on a fool’s errand. Not only had it rained for the past three days, it was cold enough outside that she’d used the gas fireplace rather than the air conditioning. To make matters worse, she’d somehow managed to catch a cold. Everyone knew summer colds were the pits. She hadn’t even been able to bring herself to get dressed and go to the dining room for food, satisfied to eat fruit and yogurt—when she did feel like eating at all.

Normally, she managed to get a stranglehold on one of these viruses within a couple of days, but that was when she could take the medication that actually worked, but now, because those could raise her blood pressure dangerously high, she was limited to the less effective ones.

To add insult to injury, her muse had vanished, and despite how many songs she listened to, she’d made little progress on the book. Remembering wasn’t as easy as she’d thought it would be, especially when it made her miss Michael and her youth more than ever. She’d managed to write about their first whole day spent together—well as together as two people could be when joining eight others at a private beach for an afternoon barbecue.

Someone knocked at the door bringing her back to the present.

“Who is it?” she called, not expecting visitors nor wanting any.

“It’s Solitaire. I’ve come to make up your room.”

Twyla frowned. Housekeeping. She’d sent the girl packing yesterday, and since she planned to spend another day in bed feeling sorry for herself, did she really need the room cleaned?

“I’ve brought you some of my mom’s chicken soup. It does wonders for a cold.”

The thought of homemade soup made Twyla’s stomach grumble. Reluctantly, she climbed out of bed, slipped her feet into her mules, and grabbed her housecoat. Unlocking the door, she smiled at the young girl on the veranda, a thermos in her outstretched hand.

“My cousin Ezra works in the bar. He mentioned you hadn’t been in for meals since Thursday when you started feeling poorly. Starving yourself when you’re sick is never the answer. Mom always feeds us soup when there’s a bug around,” the young girl said, handing her the thermos.

Twyla grinned. “No matter how lousy I feel, I’ll never say no to homemade soup, but you don’t really need to clean up. I’ll probably spend the day in bed again.”

“Staying in bed feeling sorry for yourself is the worst thing you can do,” the young brunette continued matter of factly, as if she were an expert on the topic. “Mom insisted we get plenty of rest, but rest didn’t involve lazing around all day in bed when we were sick. Chicken soup and fresh air were her cures, although she did keep us inside if we had a fever. Why don’t you shower while I change the bed, and then I’ll clean the bathroom for you? The sun’s coming out, and it’s going to be a nice day. If you don’t want to venture too far, you can at least sit on the veranda and soak up the sun—maybe even take your laptop out there to write.” Her cheeks reddened. “Listen to me bossing you around. I guess it comes from having so many underfoot all my life.”

“Really?” Twyla chuckled. “With a name like Solitaire, I would’ve expected you to be an only child.”

The young girl shook her head, her smile wide enough to split her face.

Live_And_Let_Die_wallpapers_17“No such luck. I’m an identical twin. I was named after a character in a James Bond movie. I suppose it could’ve been worse.”

Twyla burst out laughing. “Considering some of the more unusual names, I would say you lucked out. So, you have a sister?”

“And four brothers: Sean, Roger, Tim, and Pierce. Sean’s the oldest, then there’s Jane and me, followed by the rest of the boys. As the oldest girl, I spent a lot of time bossing the young ones around.”

“I’ll bet. Four Bonds and one heroine. Jane Seymour did play Solitaire, I believe.”

The young girl laughed. “True enough, but I’ve never thought of it that way. My brothers are all named after relatives—my grandfathers, Sean and Roger, my dad, Timothy, and my uncle, Pierce. My sister’s named after my mom’s sister. It’s funny no one ever saw that before, but you’re a writer. I’ll bet you see connections like that everywhere.”

Twyla shook her head. Five minutes with Solitaire had improved her mood considerably. Maybe the girl’s mother was right.

“I think I will take that shower and then feast on this.” She held up the thermos, her head cocked to the side. “How did you know I was a writer?”

Shrugging, Solitaire carried the clean sheets over to the bed. “I heard Mrs. McKeown telling Julia, she’s the manager here, that you’re a famous New York bestselling author.”

Nodding, Twyla smiled at the girl’s curiosity.

“I’ve had a few successes. I write as Dawn Williams,” she said, proud that she’d accomplished one of her dreams.

“Get out of here!” the girl shrieked, her eyes the size of twonies, the strange two-dollar Canadian coins. “I’m reading one of her—I mean your—books right now.”

“Which one?” Twyla asked. This girl couldn’t be more than twenty, much younger than what she’d assumed her fan base was, and some of her books definitely had adult content in them.

“One of the color ones. I just love the titles. The Crimson Carnation was amazing. The one I’m reading now is The Tangerine Tulip. I’m waiting for The Primrose Peony at the library. Using specifically colored flowers as code is brilliant.”

Twyla smiled. While her spy thrillers did have adult situations, they were less graphic than some of her other ones.

“Is this going to be another Hannah Jones mystery?” the girl asked, moving the twig-colored scarf off the bed.

“No, but I do have one in the works. We’re debating on the title at the moment. My publisher wants something with mauve, lilac, or purple. She’s giving her assistant nightmares since the flowers can’t be too rare. I can’t say any more since that would be bad luck, and we writers are a superstitious lot. I’ll just get cleaned up.”

Fifteen minutes later, feeling better than she had, Twyla came out of the bathroom. Solitaire had cleaned and vacuumed and stood by the open drapes gazing outside, the wistful look on her face reminding Twyla of how she’d felt fifty years ago. Was she missing her lover? The girl sighed so deeply she actually moved up and down.

“A penny for your thoughts,” she said, making the girl jump. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Solitaire turned to face her. “You didn’t, but we don’t have pennies in Canada anymore. It would have to be a nickel.” She smiled. “But, you wouldn’t get much for your money. I was woolgathering. Never a good thing to do when there’s work to be done. By the way, your phone rang. I didn’t answer it, but maybe the caller left a message.”

“Thank you.”

Twyla reached for her cell phone, checking the call display, expecting to see Billie, Lana, or possibly Caprice, surprised when the missed call was from Nessa. She’d forgotten all about her offer to have coffee with her old friend.

Pressing redial, Twyla waited as the phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Nessa, it’s Twyla. Sorry I missed your call. I was getting a late shower. What can I do for you?”

“I was wondering if you were free for that coffee this afternoon?” Nessa asked, her voice filled with hope. “I have to meet Mavis to discuss wedding plans—her granddaughter is marrying my nephew, and she wants me to read something during the service. It would give us a chance to talk before the others arrive.”

About to say no, Twyla reconsidered. Nessa’s parents had run the post office here years ago, and Nessa had frequently been the one sorting the mail into the post boxes. She might know if Mike had even gotten her letters. Besides, she was feeling a bit better, and maybe the fresh air would do her some good.

“I’d like that,” she said instead. “Where and when do you want to meet?”

“How about in the bar around three? Then if we decide we want wine instead of coffee, we won’t have far to go.”

Twyla chuckled. “A woman after my own heart. See you then.”

She ended the call as Solitaire came out of the bathroom.

“All done. Enjoy the soup. I hope you feel better.”

Twyla smiled. “I already do. Have a great day.”

Solitaire opened the door and waved goodbye.

Unscrewing the lid on the thermos, Twyla sniffed appreciatively and poured some of the golden liquid into the lid. Reaching for the spoon on the counter, she tasted the soup. Delicious. Within minutes she’d finished it all.

That’s it for this week! Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on  Tuesday Tales

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The Insecure Writer’s Support Network Monthly Blog, January 3, 2018

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeHello and welcome to my blog, Living the Dream. I’ve been unable to participate the last little while, but I’m here today.

I started writing and publishing in 2013. Sadly, for me, 2017 was the worst year on record for my writing career. My primary publisher, Crimson Romance, was acquired by Simon and Schuster. You would think being an author with one of the top publishing houses would be a good thing. Sadly, it had the opposite effect. For one, during the transition, all my books were taken down and not available. Then, I discovered the books now have different ASIN numbers depending on where they are purchased, so I somehow lost most of the following I had in the UK. Add to that, the new publisher canceled the lucrative deal we had with Amazon Encore and essentially consigned my first novel, Fire Angel, to oblivion. Finally, to add insult to injury, they raised the prices on all of our books, virtually ending sales. 

This left me in an awkward position. I’m not ready to stop writing, but I needed to see a return on my investment soon. I couldn’t just keep spending and not earning!  I participated in two Kindle Scout campaigns, neither of which resulted in a contract with Amazon publishing, but the first book I tried. Sworn to Protect, actually has outsold one in the same genre that I released through Simon and Schuster, No Good Deed. In fact, if you don’t count bundle sales which Crimson continues to do even under the new publisher, my independently published novels outsold my traditionally published ones.  So, that brings me to this month’s question.

January 3 question – What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

A very good fiend has shared marketing advice with me which I intend to try. I’ve taken the first step by putting Wedding Bell Blues, my second Kindle Scout book up for pre-sale and not limiting it to Amazon as I’ve done in the past. I’ve also stopped the auto-renewal for the KU on the other books I have published on my own with Amazon. I’m not sold on this since most of my income this year came from pages read, but I will try it for six months and see. Hopefully I won’t lose my shirt in the process. I’m also going to try for a Bookbub spot. It’ll cost me money to give a book away, but hopefully it’ll generate sales of my other books. I’m putting a lot of hopes on Wedding Bell Blues to do well. Once the time runs out on my KU books, I will gradually move them to more publishers. Am I doing the right thing when we all know Amazon is the sales’giant? I don’t know. Time will tell. In the meanwhile, I have books to finish and edit. Let’s hope something good happens in 2018.

Check out other posts from the Insecure Writer’s Support Network here. http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

 

 

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Tuesday Tales: From the word BLUE

champagneHappy New Year. Let’s toast to 2018, and as I raise my glass to you, I hope 2018 will bring everyone health and happiness.

Welcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday Tales. Many thanks to Jean Joachim for creating this blog hop and helping us explore our creativity each week. From her word and picture prompts wonderful scenes and books are written.

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This week’s Tuesday Tale comes from my women’s fiction story, Same Time Next Year. The word prompt is BLUE. See if you can find how many times I’ve used it and variations of it in today’s post.

Mike, barefoot in blue shorts and white t-shirt,  stood on the middle deck, the one off the kitchen, and raised his navy coffee mug to his mouth, praying the analgesics he’d taken would kick in soon. He loved the multi-level house he’d designed all those years ago, the one he’d finally built after he’d retired to the Pacific Coast. With decks off three rooms, it reminded him of the summer house on Indian Lake and the various viewing platforms his father had built down to the water level. While Michael didn’t have direct water access since this section of the coastline was too rugged for that, he was only five minutes from the marina.

Facing the Pacific, he had an incredible view whether from the top deck off his bedroom, this one, or the lower one off the family room, where he’d built a big stone fireplace, the perfect place to sit on those cooler winter evenings. If there was one thing he didn’t miss, it was Eastern Ontario’s cold, snowy winters.

He stared out at the marina, its aquamarine water free of whitecaps today, and spotted Jethro Wilkes’s fishing boat coming in. As usual, the boat must’ve gone out at the crack of dawn.

The guy, his head covered by that antique, indigo, fishing hat he wore, had to be almost ninety years old, but, rain or shine, the man never missed a chance for fresh fish. It was amazing to see, but these days, there was always one of his grandkids there to help him. The old Haida, with the eyesight of an eagle, waved at him. Even from this distance, Mike could see his faded blue jeans, at least two sizes too big, cinched tightly at his waist, giving him the wasp-waist any woman would’ve envied fifty years ago. The twelve inches of additional belt flapped in the wind.

Mike waved and went inside, envying the old man once again. Since he’d never met anyone he cared enough to marry—other than Twyla who’d dumped him—he had no grandkids to help him carry on. Lydia’s boys, Trent and Art, handled most of the tours these days while he focused on the paperwork, but there was nothing like being out on the ocean when the gentle giants surfaced or even when there was a pod of Orca on the hunt. Twyla would’ve loved it. Now that he’d pulled the Band-Aid off and exposed the memories, more and more of them flooded him. He chuckled remembering the first time he’d taken her fishing. She’d been awed by that bass. The damn thing would barely be considered bait out here.

He stared into space, seeing a different azure sky.

 

“Come on, Jersey,” he said. While he liked her name, he preferred nicknames. He’d called her T last night, but he wasn’t sure she liked it. “You’re going to love this. Mom made lunch for me, and I had her add extra. We won’t starve.”

Twyla laughed and then frowned. “I’m not likely to starve to death in a matter of hours, but that’s an awfully small boat. Are you sure it can hold both of us?”

“It’s a standard, sixteen-foot aluminum fishing boat. It belongs to Harold, the fish guide. Believe me, it’s carried a hell of a lot more weight than the two of us.”

He held out his hand to help her into the boat, pulling her tightly to him when she stumbled. The feel of her body against his wasn’t something he could ignore, so he stepped back. They’d only spent some half-dozen hours together since they’d met. The last thing she needed was to feel his pole at attention. Today wasn’t the day for that kind of fishing.

“Thank you,” she said, sitting down on the seat facing the back of the boat and the motor. “Do I need to put on the life jacket?”

“That’s your choice. It’s one of the new foam ones, lighter than the old kapok ones, but if you can’t swim…”

“I can swim,” she answered, grinning from ear to ear, her eyes twinkling, as she set the orange life vest on the seat beside her.

He frowned. “Did you bring a hat and a cover-up? I mean, not that I don’t appreciate what I can see,” he commented, his eyes raking her body in the peacock blue print swimsuit, “but you’re kind of pale. I don’t want you to burn.”

“I have a long-sleeve terry jacket, suntan lotion, and a hat in my bag. The lotion helps me tan instead of burning. One of these days, someone will invent something for skin like mine, but until they do, I just have to remember Mother’s favorite word: moderation. I told her I was going fishing, and I wouldn’t be back until later. Where are the others? You did say we’d be spending the day with the gang.”

“I might’ve misled you there. We’ll meet up with Mavis, Lydia, and a few of the local kids later when we go swimming at a little sand beach we use, but for the next couple of hours, it’ll just be the two of us.” He swallowed. “I can go fishing by myself and come back later for you, if you prefer.”

Twyla smiled, those emerald eyes of hers flashing with pleasure.

“Actually, I like that. Thank you for asking me to spend your day off with you. Since I’ve never been fishing—Ethan refused to let me intrude on his private time—it’ll be less embarrassing if I do something dumb when I’m alone with you rather than in front of an audience. Besides, you did guarantee I would catch a fish. I brought my Brownie, so you can take a picture of me with it. I want to send it to my brother.” Her eyes dulled. “He’s in Vietnam.”

Michael nodded. “I’ve got a few friends from Kingston who crossed the border and enlisted.”

“Will you be going there , too?” she asked, her face pale in the glow of the morning sun.

He shook his head. “Canadian forces officially only support UN Peacekeeping Missions. Unless things change within the next few months, I’ll be headed to the Sinai.” He smiled. “As far as making a fool of yourself fishing, I don’t see how you could do worse than Mavis. I took her and Lydia out when I first came home in May, and she almost tipped the boat over when she pulled in an eel. Funniest thing I ever saw.”

“I’m sure Mavis didn’t think it was funny,” she said, affronted for the girl he knew had been nothing but rude to her.

“Don’t waste your breath defending her. Mavis has a hide on her thicker than an elephant’s and the conscience of a gnat. She’s always ready to do whatever she thinks is best for her. At that point in time, it was getting Peter Seward to notice her, and he was in the boat beside ours. She figured if she draped herself all over me like cheap curtains, he’d get jealous. It didn’t work.”

“You don’t like Mavis very much, do you?”

He sneered. “I’ve known her most of my life. It isn’t that I don’t like her, it’s that I know her well enough to see through some of the games she plays. I also know enough not to turn my back on her. Now, enough about that harpy. Let’s get the show on the road. Harold shared some of his prime fishing spots with me.”

He pulled the cord on the motor, untied the boat from the moorings, and headed down the canal to the open water of Opinicon Lake. The lake was reedy and weedy, ideal for fishing, and within a couple of hours, they’d filled their basket.

At first, he’d had to help her, but after the third try, she managed to bait her own hooks and land her fish without his help, including a sixteen-inch largemouth bass that had to weigh two pounds. As promised, he’d taken a picture of her and her “gigantic” fish as she’d called it. He’d even cleaned the monster for her, and they’d roasted it and a few others on the beach later that da. He’d never enjoyed fishing as much as he had when he’d fished with Twyla by his side.

 

The phone pulled Mike out of the memory. He glanced at the call display—Lydia. Reaching for the handset, he swallowed. While he’d like to ignore her, she’d keep calling until he answered.

“Morning, sis. What can I do for you?”

“Morning?” she scolded. “It’s almost noon.”

“And? Today’s my day off. So, why are you disturbing me on this lovely day?” She didn’t need to know about his hangover and sleepless night.

“Michael Arthur Morrison, you know damn well why I’m calling. You phone, tell me to get the tickets, and then hang up. When I tried to call back, all I got was voice mail. I thought you’d gone to the wedding and looked for you.”

“You know how I feel about weddings,” he answered, and yet he was going to one.

“You’re infuriating.”

“You didn’t phone just to call me names, did you?”

“No, damn you, I didn’t. You’d better have been serious because I got your ticket in a last-minute seat sale. We’re leaving on Tuesday.”

“Tuesday,” he yelled into the phone. “What the hell for? That’s four days before the damn wedding.” While it was true he wanted to talk to Twyla, it wouldn’t take him that long to do it.

“Well, aren’t you good at math,” she answered, her voice dripping sarcasm. “Yes, it is. Mavis has a few activities scheduled for the old crowd, including a meet and greet on Wednesday night. She reserved one of the two-bedroom cabins for us, so we’re all set. Just remember to pack your good blue

pinstriped suit and that royal blue tie I bought you for Christmas to wear to the wedding. Go and get a haircut, too.”

“Yes, mother,” he answered, letting the cynicism ooze out of him, knowing he had no one to blame for this but himself. He’d agreed to go, and he was a man of his word. It was too bad Twyla had never realized that.

“Mike,” there was a conciliatory tone to his sister’s voice. “This is going to be a good thing, you’ll see. Once you get to the bottom of this, you’ll be able to move on and find someone.”

He burst out laughing. “Lydia, I’m almost seventy years old. That’s a little long in the tooth to find love and settle down. But it will be a good thing to get everything out in the open once and for all.”

“But I just hate the fact that you’re all alone…”

“I’m never alone as long as I have friends and family. What time is the flight?”

“We fly to Vancouver at half past one and our flight, non-stop to Ottawa, leaves at three. We’ll pick you up around eleven thirty.” She paused, and Mike knew something he didn’t want to hear was coming. “I always liked Twyla. I’m curious to know why she hurt you that way, too.”

Mike swallowed. “I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Hell, she may not even remember me. I’ve got to go. I won’t be in tomorrow. I’ll need the day to get a few things organized—including that haircut you think I need. See you Tuesday.”

He hung up the phone and dropped into a chair at the kitchen table. Was he really ready to do this?

That’s it for this week! Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on  Tuesday Tales

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Saturday Surprise From Heather Renee

 

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To The Falls  The Falls Trilogy: Book One, By: Heather Renee Free Dates: 12/28/2017 to 12/31/2017

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

To the FallsBack Cover Copy

Kaliah “Kali” Atwater is awaiting two things, finishing sophomore year in college and her upcoming twentieth birthday. The day before Kali’s birthday, she finds out that the dream she’s had every night for almost a year of a beautiful land, isn’t a fantasy at all. It’s her birth place.
Every twenty years a new generation of Guardians return to Arvata to bring life back to their world and renew the magic of the Falls. Now it’s Kali’s turn, but dark magic has made its way into her new home preventing the Falls from replenishing.
Kali must accept the role assigned to her by the Fates or let Arvata crumble. Can she and her friends save Arvata in time? Will new love make her stronger? Or will the darkness finally win?
Only the Fates know for sure…

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On Sale For Only .99! From The Falls The Falls Trilogy: Book Two By: Heather Renee  Sale Dates: 12/28/2017 – 12/31/2017

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

From the FallsBack Cover Copy
Arvata is thriving and Kali is finally getting a handle on being an Elder. The only thing missing from Arvata is their town healer, who left unexpectedly six months ago and didn’t tell anyone why.

Lorelle finally returns to explain what the Fates had assigned her to do, but she now needs the new Elders help with the mission. Half-Guardians, that shouldn’t even exist in their world, are out there and need to be protected, but time is running out.

Unknown magic lurks within these hybrids and they possess powers unlike full Guardians. It’s up to Kali and her friends to figure out how to protect the half-Guardians and prevent more from being created.

Trust will need to be earned, unseen powers will emerge and loved one’s lives are threatened. Will the risk be worth it in the end?

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New Release and Completed Trilogy!

Embracing The Falls  The Falls Trilogy: Book Three  By: Heather Renee Available: 12/29/2017

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

embracing the Falls

Back Cover Copy
Rebellious animals have threatened Strix’s realm and Kali is determined to help him reclaim his home. There’s only one problem… she’s eight months pregnant.

As Kali battles Lucas and her family’s disapproval, help comes from unexpected places. When Otherworld allies pledge their assistance, her friends and family reluctantly agree to accompany her to Dásos, Strix’s world, in hopes of resolving the rebels’ complaints peacefully.

Their journey to Dásos makes one thing clear. There is far more behind the sudden change in the creatures inhabiting the land. Nothing is as it seems, and Kali will have to overcome more than she’s prepared for. As darkness encroaches upon the Elders, it will be up to each of them to embrace the light before it’s too late.

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heatherAuthor Bio:

Heather Renee is a new indie author that lives in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest in Oregon. She writes YA Fantasy that has a mixture of suspense, humor and a little romance.

When Heather’s not writing, she is spending time with her beautiful daughter and amazing husband. Two cats, and a dog who loves the snow, complete their household. On weekends if she doesn’t have a book in her face, you can find Heather going on different adventures with her family. Her favorite being hiking to Multnomah Falls.

She loves to hear from her fans, so visit her webpage and the Contact Me link for ways to connect. http://www.HeatherReneeAuthor.com

Author Links:

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