Monday, July 31, 2017

Mélisande by Philippa Lodge

I’m not Catholic – not very religious at all, in fact – so the fact that part of the story is a young woman’s conversion to Catholicism surprised me, too. It was the dominant and official religion in France in the seventeenth century, of course, but magic was still a major player. France had dabbled in witchcraft trials for a while, but never with the intensity of the Spanish Inquisition and the English and their colonies. At the time I’ve set this story, the court scandal was not that people consulted witches and bought potions from them, but that some of those potions were poison bought to free unhappy spouses and greedy heirs.

Oh, and that the king’s official mistress, Madame de Montespan, might have been participating in satanic rituals. She might NOT have, too, as all the “evidence” was given under torture, when witches were saying anything at all to try to make it stop. But King Louis XIV had all the evidence gathered and locked away, then burned the box. He was probably protecting the children he had with her, as he had legitimized them and given them estates and titles and rich spouses, and not protecting her, precisely.

So anyway, a lot of Googling of saints and practices and churches and miracles later, and here we are.

Melisande is becoming Catholic to please her birth father and get enough money to support herself and her family. Lucas has been steeped in it from childhood and is in danger of becoming as rigid and angry as his godfather, who is Melisande’s father. He’s at a turning point in his life, though, where his godfather has shown his feet of clay, hunger for power, and hypocrisy one too many times. And along comes this element of his godfather’s past, the illegitimate child of the old days when the Comte was partying with witches. Let the struggle for the souls begin.

Saturday, July 29, 2017


Where Does a Writer Get Ideas

Having read nursery rhymes to all four children, years later, seeking a new method of murder, I got a great idea.

“Jack Sprat Could Eat No Fat,” prompted my imagination. The villain could feed his victim to morbid obesity, then pump air into her blood stream to precipitate her death.

Might that work?

One evening, at a meeting of the high school’s adult quarterback club, I mentioned my idea to a couple of medical doctors who volunteered as team physicians.
One of them agreed a man might easily feed his wife to morbid obesity, but doubted anyone could then use the condition to kill her.

I suggested using a syringe to shoot air into her veins. Both men laughed heartily and nixed that. It would take too long, one would have to use an oversized needle, and the obvious needle marks would arouse immediate suspicion.

One of them then nodded and said, “But you could break a bone.”

The other one’s eyes rounded as he grasped his associate’s meaning. “Of course, a broken bone would release emboli into her bloodstream.”

They then joined in a duet. “And there would be nothing we could do to prevent her death.”

“She’d have to be really fat.”

“Right. But it would work.”

“And it’s unlikely anyone would suspect foul play.”


The two were so enthusiastic at having realized this unusual method of murder, that other members at the meeting had stopped their discussions and eavesdropped on this one. Most of them laughed, nervously, and suggested we get back to club business.

The diabolical advisors were Don Crawley and Kenneth Miller.

JACK SPRAT COULD will be released August 25, 2017 from Wild Rose Press. It will be my thirteenth published novel.

Sharon Ervin

Friday, July 28, 2017


ONE NIGHT WITH A DUKE by Sandra Masters Released June 21, 2017 The Wild Rose Press

Setting: Regency England 1817, the industrial revolution, and returning soldiers with no employment set the scene for political turmoil.

His Grace, Raven, Tenth Duke of Ravensmere, reclusive, politically powerful, denies love after the tragic deaths of his duchess and baby son. Bound by a deathbed promise made ten years prior, he has
vowed never to allow love to enter his heart again.

He meets Lady Samantha Winston, a young widow, who permits him to seek refuge in her carriage in a time of need, and what started out as a kiss in the name of safety, became pleasurable and not safe at all. In spite of every caution, his interest escalates into unexpected but welcomed desire.

Author: What is your main fear, Your Grace?

Answer: Being a mature and politically savvy peer, I feared to fall in love again passionately as I did with my late wife. The loss of her and our son paralyzed my every thought. To assuage the remorse, I delved more into all political events and devoted my efforts to my constituency and the tenants on my estate. England won the war against France but bankrupted the country. My goal was to propel my country back into the forefront of the financial world. My loveless life continued. And then by accident, I met Samantha Winston.

Author: Can you tell me about the incident?

Answer: You were the one who concocted the scene, but I’ll relive the events for our readers. After a meeting with the Prince Regent at his Carleton Townhouse, I chose to walk to the Townsend Ball a few blocks away. However, I encountered anarchists intent on doing me bodily harm simply because I was an aristocrat. The night darkened, and I cat-walked against walls, turned into an alley, and somehow avoided direct contact. Seven to one are not great odds for success. I saw a waiting carriage on the street with lit lanterns and raced to the door, pulled it open, expecting it to be empty. Instead, a lady sat on a seat, alarmed at my intrusion. The mob was now around us. The coachman bellowed for them to leave, but one lout climbed to peer through the window. Before I could speak to her, I went to her side and took her to me. All the thug could see was two presumed lovers in an ardent embrace and kissing. It must have amused him because he jumped down and chuckled moved the group down the street.

Author: Lady Winston allowed you, a stranger, to kiss her?

Answer: There was little time to speak, only to act. The lady kicked me in the shins, clouted me with her reticule until I uttered a sentence.

Author: Rather curious, Your Grace. What was the sentence?

Answer: Damnation, Madam. I asked her assistance since I was in dire straits…that I would explain and then I kissed her. It was when I said, “Please,” that she consented.
Author: Odd, that a duke of the realm would resort to such a word.
Answer: In dangerous times, a man would resort to any unusual actions. Now stop your falderal and let me continue.

Author: One kiss or two?

Answer: One long and pleasurable kiss. I remember thinking that a kiss in the name of safety was not safe at all. In the lantern light, I memorized her young face, but it was her verdant eyes that begged further inspection, not to mention her copper colored hair.

Author: And then what happened?

Answer: I apologized for my rash actions, made my explanation, and introduced myself. Other women would have fallen apart. Instead, she said, “It seems peculiar, Your Grace, to have introductions after our scandalous kisses. Perhaps it should have been the other way around?” Most of all, her sense of humor appealed to me. Her pleasant demeanor impressed and she chatted informally with me as if we were old friends. I offered to stay and wait for her relatives to explain my presence, but she asked for propriety’s sake that I leave.

Author: Did you?

Answer: Yes, after all, it was her request. I thanked her for her assistance. And that’s when she leaned forward and said, “Au revoir.” She whispered, “Until we meet again,” and touched my arm.

Author: Did you meet soon after?

Answer: You certainly know the entire story, but I avoided two dangers. One was the anarchists attempt to harm me. The second was the danger of a beautiful, high-spirited woman intent on flirtation or seduction. The latter intrigued me no end and represented a risk I would face with infinite pleasure. I determined that at another time, another place, I would find her again and demonstrate all the other things my lips and manly parts would do.

Author: Your Grace, I’m shocked that you would speak so.

Answer: I beg to differ with you, Mistress Masters. I can’t believe I did and said many of the things you wrote. You took great liberties with my persona in our book. You brought me out of the darkness of my personal life and gave me the desire to live and love again. There were those who never would believe me capable of such passionate utterings. They used to speak of me, under their breaths, as cold as ice with an even colder heart. The truth of the matter was that my heart needed resuscitation and my lady did an adequate job. Admittedly, you took a circuitous route, caused me great angst, pain, and suffering, but then I might not have appreciated Lady Samantha’s firebrand wit and courage. So I forgive you.

Author: For our readers’ sake, I’d like to say that you did reunite in Chapter Two. However, Lady Samantha Winston appeared to push all your ‘hot’ buttons much to your chagrin.

Answer: Yes, she did. I got the distinct impression you enjoyed every moment of my distress. We did meet at the ball later that evening, and I knew that my life would change forever because I saw the spitfire side of the lady and wanted to tame her indomitable spirit. I’ve always loved a challenge. Now, I suggest you go on to the next book because I want to savor the publication of our story. Feel free to join my lady and me in the library for a libation. I remember that you favor gin over brandy.

Author: Raven, you’re such a rogue. If I were to drink with you, I might have to write you in another book. You were one of the first dukes I created, but you gave me such a hard time because you were complicated in every way imaginable. Most of all, I liked your charming arrogance. I have created you out of the figment of my imagination. I hope I brought you justice. So, goodbye for now…oops, perhaps I should have said, “Au revoir. Until we meet again.”

Once in a while
In the middle of ordinary life
LOVE gives us a FAIRY TALE.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

How FBI Special Agent Jake Bernstein Evolved

I began with one of my favorite fiction characters, Gabriel Allon from Daniel Silva’s great spy thrillers. A Mossad assassin, Allon is now Chief of Israel’s Mossad. A complex man with a multitude of talents—a brilliant artist, a linguist fluent in German, Hebrew, Arabic, English—he is also a moralistic man. You ask, how can an assassin be a man of moral principles? He is. He draws the line at killing only those despicable people who have killed innocent civilians in their quest for religious dominance, money, power or national zealotry.


So from Gabriel Allon, whose German Jewish family was killed by the Nazis and whose wife and son were killed by radical Muslims, I jump into the heart and soul of Jacob Bernstein. He’s a modern American male with a German Jewish/Irish Catholic family background. His identification with his German-Ashkenazi Jewish grandparent prompts him to pursue a law enforcement career aimed at seeking justice. Naturally, with his Navy Seal history, he relishes the field work of counter-terrorism. His unique training has prepared him for going undercover on a variety of cases, from tracking down an elderly American grandmother suspected of WW II war crimes to exposing a terrorist cell’s plot to commit mass murder. Now, in WHERE DANGER LIES (Book Three in the FBI romantic-suspense series), Jake helps inexperienced NCIs investigate the murder of a Navy weapons specialist assigned to Naval Base Coronado, San Diego. Meanwhile, his girlfriend, Meg Larsen, finds herself in the midst of helping one of her students, the daughter of a Muslim woman who has become the victim of an attempted “honor killing.” There are people who want to stop both of them before the truth is discovered. For even in beautiful San Diego, you never know WHERE DANGER LIES.


In the next installment (Book Four) of FBI Special Agent’s Jake Bernstein’s adventures, a Silicon Valley tech genius plots to sell his Bio-weapon of Mass Destruction plans to the highest bidder. But who among an international crowd of the world’s most dangerous villains will be the one to succeed? Can Jake uncover him in time to stop the transaction? And bring the American traitor to justice? This time, Meg Larsen, having joined the Special Services Group of the FBI, partners up with Jake in their undercover operation. Stay tuned for SPIES IN BLACK TIES!
by Donna Del Oro

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Coming soon from The Wild Rose Press

In this contemporary, #ownvoices debut set in the Southwest, single mom and recent graduate gets more than she bargained for when she accepts the help of a sexy as hell businessman fighting to keep his company.

Single mom Valentina wants to provide a good life for her son, starting with the perfect home. When the deal on her dream house falls through, rather than move back in with her parents and disappoint them and her son once again, she accepts the help of the intimidating-as-hell stranger she’s admired from her coffee shop seat for the last six months. She's afraid to fall for the wrong guy again, so she makes Cole promise to keep their relationship strictly professional.

Following his failed marriage, Cole can’t find a reason to care about anything or anyone. Saving his company from his ex-wife is the only thing that has kept him afloat for the past six months. As loneliness sets in and he begins to lose the fight over his company, Valentina becomes his lifeline. Cole wants to be more than her landlord, and he has a plan to get her to release him from his promise.

Find out more at

About the Author:
Diana became an avid reader when she found her first romance novel tucked away in a corner of her high school library. The more books she read, the more she wanted to be a writer. Diana has a Master’s degree in information systems and accountancy, and for many years worked for a major Fortune 100 telecommunications company as an IT project manager (As one does when pursuing a career as a romance author.).

These days, when she’s not writing, Diana enjoys running half marathons, traveling, and indulging in the simple joys of life like wine and chocolate. She lives in Atlanta, and loves spending time with her two children and husband. Visit her online at, or on Twitter at @diana_hicks.


ONE NIGHT WITH A DUKE by Sandra Masters Released June 21, 2017, The Wild Rose Press.

Setting: Regency England 1817, the industrial revolution, and returning soldiers with no employment set the scene for political turmoil.

Her Grace, the Duchess, former Samantha Winston, as a young widow, permits His Grace, the Duke of Ravensmere, to seek refuge in her carriage in a time of need, and what starts out as a kiss in the name of safety, becomes pleasurable and not safe at all. In spite of every caution, her interest escalates into unexpected and welcomed desire.

His Grace, Raven, Tenth Duke of Ravensmere, reclusive, politically powerful, denies love after the tragic deaths of his duchess and baby son. Bound by a deathbed promise made ten years prior, he vowed never to allow love to enter his heart again. And then he met the lovely, high-spirited, irreverent and beautiful Samantha.
When a high-spirited woman disrupts the routine of a duke who follows the rules, sparks sizzle and planets collide…the duchess laughs when she hears this tagline.

Author: What is your main fear, Duchess?

Answer: Having been on the shelf, so to speak, I feared to fall in love again passionately as I did with my late husband, Percival, whom I adored as a little girl. My brother’s best friend was over the house all the time, and I soon was the pest he liked. As I grew older and prettier, he grew so handsome. Our friends said we were over the moon with each other, but little did they know that Percival neglected to inform me of his malady—impotence! You can imagine my empty bed on my wedding night while he gambled the night away. Two weeks later he was killed by footpads who robbed him. I then became an unconsummated widow. Of course, the duke never became aware of this circumstance until it was too late.

Author: Can you tell me more about the circumstance?

Answer: You were the one who concocted the scene, but I’ll relive the events for our readers. After the stunning revelation from my new husband, and after his death, I built walls around me. I have been known to have wit, high spirit, and an interest in politics. The latter was a definite negative when seeking a new relationship. I vowed I’d never let any man dupe me again. I wanted to sample the masculinity before I committed again. You made me outrageous.

When Raven and I first met in the carriage, I felt a jolt of desire in his kiss. He was grateful for my assistance in the carriage against the anarchists. When we met at the ball, I raised my walls even higher by challenging his goals and motivations. I wanted him to know that I wasn’t a ninny hammer, but I went too far. I believe in the aftermath one of his comments was: “One could say that to be called old, egotistical, a coward and an over-aged schoolboy in the same two minutes of conversation is a novelty for me. Tell me, did I miss any other affront to my dignity?” He controlled his tone but kept it superior. “Yes. I also said you suffered from vanity.” As I look back on it now, I did shock him. He made a reference that he’d find me a soap box to lecture from in Hyde Park. My offense was deliberate, but I regretted doing so.

Author: Did the duke ever speak to you again?

Answer: Not for an hour or two, but he did present himself for a waltz upon which we agreed before the entire hullabaloo. I remember it well. We floated on air, and the chemistry between us regained its intensity. I apologized, a difficult act for me, but I was too strong in my comments. After the waltz, we sat and talked and that was when he won my heart with his tale of loss. To endure such grief at the loss of wife and child endeared me to him. I felt even worse for my actions. I concluded that he could be a man of significance. He was fearless. I was interested.

Author: Did you encounter him again?

Answer: At the end of the evening, I bid him, Au Revoir, and I’m sure it jogged his memory. My brother had invited him for lunch the next day. So, yes, we were thrown together once again but the atmosphere heated, not in anger, but we ‘played’ with each other in double entendres and all sorts of mischievous romantic intentions. Then he created a scandal.

Author: Tell me, duchess, what scandal. It sounds delicious.

Answer: It was. From our conversations, Raven knew I was afraid that at the lunch auction of my charity that some rake might bid for two hours of my time. Such a worthy cause. At the event, imagine my horror that one rogue bid a high amount. I was terrified. The duke matched that sum with the pastor conducting the sale, by five pounds each time. When the sum got to five hundred pounds, every participant was stunned into silence to know the outcome. The pressman reported it in every gossip trades paper the next day.

Author: Tell us more. I’m on pins and needles.

Answer: Since you created me, you know how unfair you were. However, the duke bid the astronomical sum of one thousand pounds. The rake capitulated. The crowd cheered, and my duke took me to a private table where we ate lunch and took a long walk.

Author: You called him ‘your duke?’

Answer: Not to his face. He was romantically aggressive, and I was a willing student. Being grateful, I allowed him another kiss. In fact, there were a few. There were many. His strong, masculine body pinned me against a tree where no one could see me. He set me afire, a sensation new to me. In between kisses, there was the sensual banter and wit. I remember raking my hands through his hair. He whispered things I’d never heard in referring to my lust-swollen lips. You wrote: “Energized blood coursed through my body igniting every part, awakening my dormant soul with the promise of all he might do.” It becomes obvious his manly parts worked.

Author: And then what happened?

Answer: As you well know, over the course of the next days and weeks, he did quite a bit.

Author: Did you allow him to do other things?

Answer: Your readers will have to read the book. This interview has become too risqué, and I’m sure Raven will think me indiscreet. Needless to say, your book is about a May-December relationship, filled not only with the romance aspects, but also, suspense, intrigue, international skullduggery, an attempted assassination, and glorious sex. I was determined to seduce him as I mentioned before…to sample the wares.

Author: And?

Answer: They were more than acceptable. Now you have delved too far, and I must conclude this interview. I hope your next heroine is different from mine. Good evening.

Answer: Decidedly so. It took me seven years to edit this too long epic story but demanded a reader audience. I’m delighted you are still happily in love.

Author: Do you have any other comments?

Answer: Mistress Masters, I can’t believe I did and said many of the things you wrote. You took great liberties with my persona in our book. You brought me out of the darkness of my personal life and gave me the desire to live and love again. There were those who never would believe me capable of such passionate utterings. They used to speak of me as the spinster. The truth of the matter was that my heart needed rescuing and my duke did an adequate job. You caused me great angst, pain, and suffering over many chapters thinking I could lose him, but then I might not have appreciated Raven and all his qualities: magical and otherwise. He was so ready to be loved.

Author: For our readers’ sake, I’d like to say I had so many favorite phrases as compared to my other books. My most favorite was when you asked him, “But what would I have to do?” He answered, “I leave that to your resourcefulness…and mine…under a starlit night with nothing but our naked imaginations.”

Answer: Yes, I do remember thinking: His nearness too intimate; his touch too hot; his desire too obvious. Hmm. I do believe I should see about the whereabouts of my duke. He may want to play. Good night, again.

Author: Samantha: Before you go, have you ever noticed your first name is close to mine? That our personalities are somewhat alike? Oh, she’s left the room. We’ll never know.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Seafood & Sailing- a book launch treat!

Went on a four-day sail around the San Juan islands as a reward for the release of Lipstick on the Strawberry this month. The border of the US and Canada, where pine trees, vineyards, oyster farms, and whales thrive.  So beautiful! 

Twelve guests, most not known to one another, thrown together for four days of hard work, uncomfortable sleeping quarters, and great conversation. Sounds like a classic whodunit plot.
Not what I write, but book ideas kept bubbling up.

The trip was a caterer's dream, too. In addition to hauling sails up and down, deck swabbing, and "helping" the crew, guests on the sail tucked into Pacific Northwest seafood and wine. Fabulous food. My "Lipstick" heroine, Camilla, can't wait to get back in the kitchen to test some of the recipes! They may appear on my blog's cookbook, available to subscribers.

Margaret Ann Spence
@Margaret Ann Spence

Monday, July 24, 2017


Every writer knows that word of mouth and reviews can propel a new book into success. (At least six reviews are recommended for debut day.) So you enlist your best friends, beta readers, critique partners, and family members to review your baby. Pretty safe odds love rolls in for the “newborn!” LOW RISK only to biased honesty.
            No time to bask in the lovelight. You create a media kit, blog, tweet, guest post on social media, organize a street team, host a launch party, do book signings, readings, advertise… everything it takes to announce and promote that book in the frenetic search for READERS. Competition is always huge when supply exceeds demand for books. A supply created, in part, by a flood of eBooks and the rise of Indie authors in the last few years. Does Amazon really have millions of books in their online catalog? Add review magazines and online review sites to the mix, and REVIEWERS are also in demand. It’s a Catch 22 when good books need to be discovered but discovery…and sales…often depend on reviews.
            When the organic reviews are slow coming in, you DO have options to jumpstart. With no strings attached, paid reviewers will insure an honest review, but it’s a marketing expense that can burn a hole in your pocket. Kirkus and Chanticleer charge hundreds of dollars for a review—with no guarantee to even recommend the book. Still, you do have the option to post…or not if the review burns a hole in your heart. HIGH RISK for the expense.
            “Nagging” is another option. A kinder word is “trolling.” If I know someone who has purchased a copy from me, I might ask for a review weeks or months later. Posting on FB, Goodreads, in your newsletters and emails, even on business cards you can gently “nudge” with links directed to your book sites. In the stash of prints I keep on hand to sell, I insert a little card in each book with my site links, along with a friendly review request. Readers who know you will not want to comply if they didn’t like your book, but even readers who loved it may feel unqualified to post a review, or unable to understand the process if they don’t navigate social media. MODERATE RISK –more to pride/friendship.
            Networking with the brotherhood is another option. You’ve been inspired by other writers, followed their blogs, rubbed shoulders with other Indies or authors published in your Press. You share and commiserate with them. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “the only way to have a friend is to be one.” Can that be twisted into “the sure way to get a review is to write one?” Doesn’t every author swap reviews on occasion, particularly if they value an elevated review count that Amazon is sure to notice! If you swap with a writer in your genre, chances are good you already like their subject. And even if the book does not meet your rating standards, you can always find something nice to say after a short synopsis—minus any spoilers. Only another writer can appreciate the fact that writing a book is an accomplishment in itself. VARIABLE RISK to time consumed and qualms about trading an equal number of stars.
            Whoever said “Reward never comes without risk” had to be a writer...or a cliff diver. Same thing?  Sometimes. 
By Cj Fosdick

Saturday, July 22, 2017

FLAWLESS on Sale for .99 cents!

My World War Two romantic suspense, FLAWLESS, is on sale for .99 cents until July 28. I love writing stories about WW2, and stories that capture the danger of that time, combined with a great love story, are my favorite. I hope you'll agree. Here's the blurb from FLAWLESS:

France, 1942.  The world is at war. The Nazis have stolen the infamous blue diamond, Le Coeur Bleu, intending to barter it for weapons that will destroy the Allies. Jewel thief Hunter Smith is given a choice; help the French Resistance steal back the diamond and avenge the death of his best friend, or stay locked up in an English prison. He chooses revenge.
Resistance fighter Madeleine Bertrand’s husband died when he was betrayed by Hunter Smith. How can she now pretend to be married to the arrogant American? How can she betray Jean Philippe’s memory by her passionate response to Hunter’s kisses? Neither is prepared for the maelstrom of attraction that erupts between them. To survive they must uncover the mysteries of the past and conquer the dangers of the present. But first Madeleine must decide if her loyalties lie with her dead husband and the Resistance or with the greatest love of her life.
Here's an excerpt:

Hunter’s eyes snapped open, his blood pounding in his ears. “What do you know about The Blue Heart?”

“Only that it is one of the most famous and rare diamonds in the world, over 30 carats, and said to be flawless.”

Hunter rose from his cot and paced his small cell, heart racing. “Ah, finally something you don’t know. Le Coeur Bleu has a small flaw, an inclusion visible only with a jeweler’s loupe.”

Campbell inclined his head. “My mistake. I bow to your superior knowledge of the stone.”

He met Campbell’s calm stare. He doubted this man ever made mistakes. “What else do you know about the diamond?”

“I know the diamond is reputed to have magical powers. Some even say it is cursed.”

“You don’t really believe in magical powers, do you?” Hunter scoffed.

Campbell lifted one shoulder in a delicate shrug. “Perhaps, perhaps not. Do you think your friend Jean Philippe Bertrand believed in magic?”

All the air rushed out of Hunter’s lungs and he struggled to breathe. “What do you know about Jean Philippe?”

“That he came into possession of Le Coeur Bleu and was murdered for it by the Nazis.”

Hunter dropped heavily onto his cot, shock and pain turning his knees to water. Snippets of the telegram he’d received from his best friend a few weeks before his arrest flashed in his head. Need to buy Heartstone times two from Jewish refugee. Desperate. Send cash. Hunter had immediately wired JP the money to buy the Heartstone, the name by which Le Coeur Bleu was sometimes known. He never heard from Jean Philippe again. In all the months of his captivity he’d clung to the hope that Jean Philippe was safe. But now that hope was dashed.

 “Dead? You’re sure?”

 “Yes. The SOE is very well connected in France. I can assure you, your friend was killed for Le Coeur Bleu.

Guilt flowed through Hunter’s veins like a poison. If he hadn’t sent the money, JP wouldn’t have had the diamond and the Nazis would have had no reason to kill him.

Campbell stepped closer to Hunter’s cot, determination glittering in his eyes. “I’m giving you the opportunity to avenge your friend’s death. Will you take it, Mr. Smith?”

“How is stealing The Blue Heart going to avenge Jean Philippe’s death? It’s just a stone, Mr. Campbell. Very pretty, very valuable, but just a rock. Is stealing it going to bring him back?”

“No, it won’t,” Campbell conceded, “but it will hurt the Nazis immensely. I can assure you that taking Le Coeur Bleu from them will reduce their capacity to fight, Mr. Smith. It may even shorten the war and provide the turning point we’re looking for. Is this not what your friend would have wanted?”

As Hunter stared into Campbell’s round face, he remembered the last stinging conversation he’d had with his friend. “If you used your God-given talents for good instead of squandering them on party tricks, perhaps you’d be a lot happier. It’s time to grow up, Hunter. For once in your life, be a man.”

Perhaps the time had finally come.

“How soon can I get out of here?”

Campbell smiled in satisfaction. “Follow me.”

FLAWLESS can be purchased at the following retailers for .99 cents until July 28:

The Wild Rose Press | Amazon UK | Amazon | B & N | Bookstrand |Google Play | Amazon CA | iBooks


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Chararcter Interview With Dan Rothberg

An Interview With Dan Rothberg, hero of Addicted to Love, by Jennifer Wilck

I want to introduce you to my hero, Dan Rothberg, today. He is a complicated guy—swoon worthy, with salt-and-pepper hair, the most amazing to-die-for blue eyes, and a limp from an accident he refuses to talk about with anyone. He’s a widower living in Hoboken and working in New York City. He’s doing his best to raise his teen daughter and recover from some pretty serious mistakes from his past. He doesn’t let a lot of people into his life, so the fact that he’s seeing Hannah Cohen is pretty amazing. We’re dropping by his office to say a quick hello.

Hi, Dan. Thanks for talking to me today. Can you tell our readers a little about yourself.

[Looking at his watch.] “Sure, but I only have about five minutes. I’ve got a crisis at work going on that I have to attend to. Tess will be home from school any minute and I need to check in with her about her homework as well. So we’ll have to make this fast. What would you like to know?” [Tips chair back, drums fingers on chair arm.]

Wow, you’re a busy guy. Let’s start with your job. What’s going on?

“I’m a forensic accountant, which basically means I investigate companies’ finances. I really can’t talk much about it, but my investigations have to remain under wraps until we find evidence of a problem. Unfortunately, the press got a hold of what we are doing regarding a pharmaceutical company and all hell is breaking loose. The company makes a lot of charitable donations, and if the leak isn’t found and plugged, patients, charities and the company are going to suffer.” [Mumbles under his breath.]

I’m sorry, I missed that last part.

“My girlfriend thinks it’s my fault.”

Wait, what?

“It’s a long story. But the sooner I find the leak, the better for everyone.”

I’ll bet. Tell me about your girlfriend.

[His face lights up.] “Hannah is amazing. She’s young, younger than me by about ten years. She’s beautiful and smart and has this innate ability to make me feel like I’m the best I can possibly be when I’m around her. And she’s phenomenal with Tess.”

And Tess is...

[He laughs.] “My daughter. She’s a teenager and anyone who can get along with someone else’s teenage daughter—attitude, eye rolls and all—is a saint. Hannah can even get her to smile.”

Wow, Hannah sounds perfect.

“She is.” [He swallows.] “I can’t get the sound of her crying on the phone to me out of my head though. And I’m not sure I deserve her...” [His phone lights up.] “Dammit, I have to go. Great talking to you.” [He rises, leans on his cane and points to his office door.]

Jennifer Wilck

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Agents and editors are notorious prologue skeptics. The reason being, many times a prologue is what is referred to as “backstory” or an “info dump.” So when I had to confess to my editor that I had written a prologue, her reaction was –Why?

The truth was my first chapter had become bogged down with backstory, and after rewriting it no less than twenty times, it still read like an info dump. The reader needs some backstory, and it is the writer’s job to make it as invisible as possible. Sometimes the narrator gives the reader this information, sometimes it is told through dialogue, and sometimes it is done with internal monologue—a character’s thoughts. But no matter what the delivery, it becomes boring if too much backstory is laid on the reader before he has even met the main character.

The backstory problem I faced with A Splinter In Time was that I had two female characters whose lives and history were intertwined. They have been best friends since the age of six, one is black and one is white, one’s ancestors owned a plantation before the Civil War, the other’s ancestor was a slave on the plantation. All of this information is essential for the reader to know before the time travel event sends one of them to the Civil War South.

And so a prologue seemed my only option. It is short, and is set on the day the girls first meet. To my surprise, it was the easiest chapter in the novel to write. I had been to Charleston and I could see the scene in my head. As I wrote, I watched six year old Audrey’s doll fall from the rail of the second floor piazza. I saw Leigh’s mother bring her up the sidewalk and settle her in the shade of the scarlet crape myrtle, then go to the door to ask for work. I heard the creak of the screen door when Leigh’s mother went into the house, and the rustle of wisteria leaves when Leigh climbed the woody vine to return the doll to Audrey.

When chapter one opens, thirty years have melted away. The reader knows these two women, and the first chapter isn’t bogged down with the details of their history.

To read the prologue of this award winning novel, click the following link, then click “Look inside” just above the book cover.

Linda Shelby
A Splinter In Time - Historical Romance/Time Travel

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

WHERE DANGER LIES by Donna del Oro

Based on actual events, in WHERE DANGER LIES, Book Three in my romantic-suspense FBI series, there are two plot points taken from my research. One, the existence of PRC (People's Republic of China) spies in the USA. I read about this in several places: Wall Street Journal, several news magazines and a few other sources. These spies tend to congregate in technology rich places like Silicon Valley and near military bases, such as San Diego and Seattle. In WHERE DANGER LIES, FBI agent Jake Bernstein is asked by a Navy commander to help young CSIs solve the murder of a Navy weapons specialist. This murdered Navy officer often visited a gay nightclub in San Diego, also frequented by suspected PRC spies.


One of my FBI sources told me about a counterespionage case of his which involved the surveillance of a suspected PRC spy. This case will become the crux of my fourth book in the series--title as yet undecided.


The second plot point in WHERE DANGER LIES is based on a newspaper report about an honor killing that took place in Escondido, California in 2014. A Muslim man killed his wife in a so-called "honor killing" because she had threatened to go to the police and expose him as a potential terrorist. In the police investigation that occurred, the man blamed white supremacists and various hate monger groups for beating his wife to death. The cops were actually inclined to believe him until the man's teenaged daughter came forward and revealed the truth. In my book, the woman doesn't die but comes close. And yes, the daughter ends up revealing the truth.


We suspense/crime authors never have to go far to find ideas for our plots, do we? Unfortunately, that is so true.

--by Donna Del Oro

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

An Irish Ghost Hunt

As the release of The Cauldron Stirred approaches, I’d like to share one of my favorite memories from the first time I visited Ireland. I was eighteen at the time. It was my first trip overseas with my parents and the perfect opportunity to meet our Irish cousins, who welcomed us with open arms. The parents were a little older than mine; their five children, about my age. They lived near Kilkenny, and while their current home was modern, their old residence still stood on the property. When I say old, I mean centuries old! My great-grandfather, Michael, had lived in the house before coming to America, and now his progeny explored the abandoned rooms.

History was alive there, in the people as well as the structure. My cousins spoke of Oliver Cromwell as though he’d invaded Ireland three weeks (instead of three centuries) before. I soaked it all up and was eager to learn more about the history of the area.

On the second day of our visit, my parents and I set out alone for some sightseeing. We’d driven only a short distance when we noticed a castellated manor house set back from the road in beautifully landscaped, walled grounds. Ever the intrepid photographer, my dad was determined to get a picture of the place. A view from the street marred by iron gates wasn’t good enough, so he found a side road and parked the car. He marched onto the grounds, and my mom and I trailed behind.

I love my dad, but there are moments when he seems to channel Clark Griswold, Chevy Chase’s character in the Vacation movies. This was one of those moments.

He made his way to the front lawn and paused. Then he lifted the camera and seemed poised to capture the perfect snapshot of the manor’s façade. All at once, two Dobermans tore around the side of the house. Snarling like the hounds of hell, they raced toward him. Dad flinched and assumed a deer-in-the-headlights look, then spun on his heel.

An abrupt command rang out and stopped the dogs in their tracks. The homeowner, who strolled around the corner, appeared to be in her early sixties. With inborn grace, she approached my dad as Mom and I reached the scene.

Apologies ensued and in the end, the woman invited us to tour her home. It was originally a medieval manor house but had been rebuilt in 1708. Decorated with antiques, the structure oozed history. We admired its elegance, but its owner struck us even more. She was amiable as could be and deft at handling the large ring of tinkling keys she housed in her pocket. Handle them she did, for all rooms had to be unlocked before we could enter, which seemed a little strange. A lot stranger was the fact that she locked the door behind us every time we crossed the threshold, both into and out of each room.

Of all the rooms, one stood out. Family portraits—paintings and photographs—covered the walls and adorned every piece of furniture with a flat top. At first, the owner favored us with stories of her ancestors. Then she indicated a black and white, circa 1950s picture of her deceased sister on the nearest table. In both hairstyle and dress, the sister reminded us of Jackie Kennedy. I made a mental note of the photo before the sound of jingling keys foretold our imminent exit.

At the end of the tour, we expressed our humble gratitude and returned to our cousins’ company. They were excited by our recent adventure and divulged that no one except the owner had been in that house for years. The property had a mysterious past shadowed by ghosts, fairies, and murder.

Was there a better place to investigate the paranormal? In our opinion, no. Were we up for the challenge? Hell yeah. Just before midnight, the lot of us set out in two cars for the manor’s extensive grounds. We had no intention of trespassing; this time, we would stick to the road.

Absent any street lights, the said road and its environs were only visible by the grace of the moon’s glow. I was just commenting on the fact when a peculiar sight stopped me in mid-sentence. Outside the car, to our left, a woman in full riding gear (high boots, tan pants, black coat and hat) urged her horse onward.

One of my cousins twisted in his seat. “Why is she out ridin’ in the middle of the night?”

No one had an answer, so we kept driving. Farther down the road, we spotted the woman again. This time, she was on foot, walking her horse in the field.

We continued on, but as we rounded another bend, my cousin made an odd, strangled sound. “There’s no sense to it. How did she get there so fast?”

I shrugged, then frowned as a new thought struck me. “Isn’t it dangerous to ride in the dark?”

Dad hit the brakes. The second car halted behind us, and everyone hopped out.

“It isn’t right,” another cousin said. “How could she be here one minute and there the next?”

Nonplussed, we peered down the road, seeking a distant outline of both horse and rider, for we’d all seen the same thing.


We whirled around and there, not five feet away, was the woman. The horse was nowhere in sight.

Our senses reeled. Her presence seemed impossible, yet there she was.

Perhaps it was nerves, or the absurdity of the situation, but my dad blurted out the bald truth. “We’re looking for ghosts.”

She regarded him for a long moment. “They say you can spot them sometimes at night.”

I cleared my throat. “Have you seen any?”

The hint of a smile touched her lips. “No. But you never can tell.”

My parents, cousins, and I exchanged glances and awkward giggles. Then we turned back to the woman.

She had vanished. Her entrance and exit were as silent and preternatural as the grave.

Back at my cousins’ house, we gathered around the large kitchen table and nursed mugs of hot tea between our chilled hands. Only then did my parents and I recall the manor’s portrait room and the owner’s remembrance of a beloved sister…a sister she had lost.

Our agreement was instantaneous. The midnight rider looked exactly like the woman in the picture.

When it came time to write The Cauldron Stirred, the first book in my Guardians of Erin series, I knew there had to be at least one ghost hunt. There are three! I hope you’ll join the Donoghue family in Ireland and follow their adventures, in this world and the Otherworld.

Judith Sterling

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Cowboy's Fate is a semi-finalist

A Cowboy's Fate, published by The Wild Rose Press with cover art by Debbie Taylor is a semi-finalist in Affaire de Coeur's Almost Kiss Cover Art Contest. Please drop by and vote (which you can do daily!)
5 STARS from NetGalley
Kicked out of England for offending the Royal Family, Britania Rule heads for Leadville, in the Colorado backcountry. Passing herself off as a highborn lady, she pursues her dream of opening a parlor of spiritual enlightenment.

Cody James, her guide, thinks he must be half-crazy to hire-out to a female. But his luck at the gaming tables has run dry, and she’s his meal-ticket out of town. Betrayed by the only woman he ever loved, and shot and left for dead by a man he once called friend, Cody declares himself a loner.

Traveling side by side, they deny their desire for one another, but the Tarot cards say otherwise—and their hot night of passion confirms the prediction. Will love be waiting at the end of the trail? Or could Cody’s past destroy their future?

Help keep the romance of the Old West alive, vote for A Cowboy's Fate.
Gini Rifkin

Monday, July 10, 2017

Did you see this photograph?

A photograph on a magazine cover inspired the story of my new romance, "Saving Shelby Summers." I wonder if you saw it too? The picture was of a distraught young woman and her stranded horse buried in a sink hole. The emotions were powerful; fear, love, determination on the girl's part to save her drowning horse. Would she succeed? I had to know. I had to write a possible outcome for this image, even though my story had nothing to do with the unknown person in the picture.

     Authors never know where the germ of their next book lies. In all my romances I include the beloved dogs that have brought such delight into my life. I build their characters, just as I do with my human characters. So, in "Saving Shelby Summers", a couple of mismatched rescue pets share the journeys of the heroine, Shelby, and the hero, Nathan, a vet trying to build a new life for himself and his little four-year-old daughter. Shelby is traumatized by a teenage experience, and it is only in her mid twenties that she faces the past, hoping that one day she too may discover a loving relationship.

There are animals, tears and laughter in this highly-reviewed book. "Saving Shelby Summers" has an Australian setting and is available on pre-order now, and for general release on July 26th. View it on Margaret Sutherland's Amazon book page at or via her web page at

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Quick, Grab The Lipstick!

People always ask me about my book's title, Lipstick on the Strawberry. I came across the idea while researching a caterer's daily life. My heroine, Camilla, has a catering business. She hires a young woman who is training to be a food stylist. The girl grabs an unripe strawberry, swipes red lipstick across its green surface and snaps a photo. The picture shows a luscious, shiny fruit.

My story involves a family secret hidden under a gloss of respectability. How often does that happen in real life? Even in families with perfectly ordinary lives, there are often stories best left kept from the world.

Camilla is English. The story is set partly in Boston, where I lived for many years, and partly in Cambridge, England, where I've spent months at a time. I wanted to capture Camilla's sense of "in between-ness" as she contemplates whether to stay in the U.S. where business opportunities are better, or to try to reconcile with her estranged family in England. Her romance complicates these decisions.

Cambridge, England, is to my mind one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is the home of one of the world's oldest universities and of some of the world's finest minds. So to an ordinary person like myself it can seem intimidating. Camilla feels shut out of this world because unlike her academic family, she struggled at school. All she wants to do is to cook. I took a photo of King's College, Cambridge. I think it illustrates Camilla's mindset - and as the book progresses, she becomes more self-accepting.

Margaret Ann Spence
who believes everything gets better with chocolate.

Author of Lipstick on the Strawberry, to be released July 5 2017

Monday, July 03, 2017

Haunting Highland House is On Sale!

Only .99 cents for a limited time

She’s looking to escape her man troubles. Instead, she finds the man of her dreams.

There’s only one problem. He’s dead.

Living in a haunted house and uncovering a gateway in time were not in the job description when Samantha Merrill agreed to be the property manager of Highland House. Old photos of the reclusive master of the manor captivate her, yet she’s terrified when he appears out of nowhere. How can Robert Pennington be making love to her by the parlor fireplace when he died over a century ago? 

Robert Pennington is a powerful industrialist charged with caring for an ailing father, a meddling mother, and two wayward siblings. Weary of his burdens, he longs for change. Is he ready for a woman from the future? His disciplined world turns upside down when the mysterious Samantha Merrill crashes his sister’s birthday ball. He is wildly attracted to this intriguing beauty, but is it magic or mischief motivating her? When Sam vanishes before his eyes, he knows only one thing for certain.  He wants her back.
Haunting Highland House Excerpt
Dressed in the same clothes she remembered—tight pants and boots, a billowing white shirt—tonight the shirt was open exposing his chest. And what a chest. Thick muscles tapered down to well-defined abs. Dark hair trailed into a thin line, disappearing beneath his waistband. She swallowed hard, redirecting her stare to his profile. His hair was longer, more unruly, his jaw darkened by a beard. It had only been one day since she’d seen him, and yet he looked weary and worn now.
Summoning all her strength, she stepped into the light before him. Her heart pounded as if it would explode right out of her chest. “Why are you haunting me?” she demanded in her bravest ghost hunter voice.
“Haunting?” He gave a bitter laugh though he still did not look at her. “Is that what I am doing? I believed you to be the spirit, sent to torment me.” Vacant eyes traveled up her body and then widened. “Samantha!” He jumped to his feet and snared her wrist. “Dear God, where have you been?”
“Let me go,” she cried, twisting in his grasp.
“But Samantha, it’s me.” He pulled her close.
“Help!” She yelled, though no one would hear.
“I’ll not harm you, I swear.” His arms encircled her. “How could I hurt the woman I love?”
“No,” she cried fighting with renewed strength. “I don’t know you.”
“You do, Samantha, remember. Remember me,” he commanded. He captured her face, forcing her to look at him. His voice dropped to a pleading whisper. “It’s just the doorway working its evil. You know me. You must.”
Sam went still. She dared to meet his gaze. He was sinfully gorgeous, like some dark fallen angel. Golden firelight flickered across his features. It was madness. She was alone in a far off mansion with a stranger, and yet…
Sanity fought for a toehold. “I’m not who you think I am,” she rasped barely able to speak.
He caressed her cheek. “I know everything about you.”
“Don’t,” she warned, looking away. She squirmed against him until he released her with a tortured groan.
“Then all is lost. There is nothing more.” Wavering as if about to collapse, he sank to the couch. “You are only a dream then, another hallucination. Fool doctors with their laudanum.” He shook his head as if to clear it. “I’ve longed for you, night after night, alone in the darkness. Prayed you would come back to me.” His gaze roamed over her. “I remember everything. Your hair falling over me, the smell of your skin, your sweet lips parting. How can you not?”
Mesmerized, Sam was powerless against the dark magic he wove. Solid ground crumbled beneath her feet. Her body pulsed where they had touched. The very air around them seemed electrified.
With a low growl, he pulled her down into the space between his legs and wrapped his arms around her again. This time, she didn’t fight. “You knew me once, took me deep into your body. Let me love you. If only we could travel back in time.”

Twitter:  @AuthorKathrynH
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About Kathryn

The rich history and many mysteries of New England are the perfect backdrop for Kathryn’s books. Winding roads lined by old stone walls, forgotten cemeteries, grand homes with shadowy pasts...all sparks for her imagination. Whether it’s a quaint seaside town or the vibrant city of Boston, it’s easy for this “hauntingly romantic” author to envision the past mingling with the present.

Taking it further – to have characters experience the past and present, opposite to “when” they belong – is the fun part. No surprise, some of Kathryn’s favorite stories involve time travel. And ghosts! Sprinkle in some magic, and you’re off on a great adventure!

When not writing, she’s taking photographs of the beautiful landscape that surrounds her. Kathryn shares her colonial home with those she loves most…her wonderful husband and daughter, and four crazy dogs.