Monday, July 4, 2022

Together in Spirit by Cathy Shouse

Cathy and Liz Isaacson
I definitely am a reader as well as a writer. When I created my debut short novel, I intentionally chose to put in what I love in a story. Cowboys. Babies. Diners. Christmas. 

In November, I went to a writers’ conference in Las Vegas. Liz Isaacson, one of my favorite authors, challenged us to publish a book by Christmas. She said lots of readers get gift money at Christmas and they buy books.


 I didn’t really have any book ready. In fact, I had been writing for years but had never published a novel. But a seed was planted. I decided to revise an unfinished cowboy novella. And why not turn it into a Christmas romance?  


It sounded simple enough.  


It turned out the manuscript was full of highlighted passages in different colors, all comments made by my mentor in 2018 when I’d started writing the story. I thought I’d deleted them after I read them. Sadly, my mentor had died unexpectedly in late 2019, and reading her words was bittersweet.


So I began to revise, following her advice, and it felt like she was cheering me on. She’d written “Good,” and “This is a very nice section,” and “cut this.” 


During one late night session, I reached this comment: “Cathy, hang on to this moment a little longer,

Cathy's mentor

with the right emotion, it could be pivotal.” I let that sink in and kept going, inspired by what she was telling me. I was still at the computer when the sun filtered in through the windows. After catching a few winks, I hadn’t been up long when there was a knock on the front door. This was weird. It turned out to be my mail person and she handed me a box addressed to me. 


My late mentor’s niece had sent a photo of her aunt, mounted on a heart- shaped piece of wood that read, “Friends are always together in spirit.”  


I finished the short book and hired an editor to go through it with me to help polish and make it better. I had a friend who had designed a cover and she agreed to add Christmas touches. On Christmas Eve, I published Her Billionaire Cowboy’s Twin Heirs: Christmas in Fair Creek.


If you’d like to read the book, or if you know someone who might enjoy it, I’m offering it for free over the next week or so. There’s a website that offers all books for free and mine will be on there for three days starting July 8th. The link is here https://hellobooks.com/  It’s currently free at all online bookstores.


What are some of your favorite things to read about in books? I’d love to know. I also really enjoy knowing what people are tired of reading about! ☺



All she’s ever wanted was another baby and he’s got two that landed unexpectedly in his life. He’s wounded by a bad break-up with someone only interested in his money.


Single Mom Annie York and eight-year-old Chloe live above the diner, where she works for her cousin. She’s given up on finding love and is hiding a secret. She’s a subpar housekeeper, in the extreme. When Annie has a surprise reunion with Caleb Galloway from high school, they must join forces to care for his sister’s twin babies.

He’s a guy with everything in its place. She has no idea where anything is. But seeing Annie with his niece and nephew has him wondering whether he belongs right next to her.

Excerpt:


Annie held her breath, turned the knob to let them in, and swung the door open. “Ta-da,” was all she could think to say.


Caleb’s eyes widened. His jaw dropped. She’d seen that reaction before and it was the reason she didn’t have people over. He appeared to arrange his face into a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “Maybe a dump truck to go along with that shovel?”


She let out a shaky breath. Two bowls with dribbles of milk and the cereal box sat on the large kitchen table, among papers strewn all over its surface. Chloe’s pajama bottoms were on the back of one chair and Annie’s T-shirt and jeans from last night’s practice were draped on the sofa.


Annie sprinted in, grabbed her sports bra that was snagged over a lampshade, and tucked it under a sofa seat cushion. More discarded clothes covered her one upholstered, yard-sale chair.


“To be honest, I used to kind of beat myself up about this…I mean, sure, I really wish things were neater right now. Who wouldn’t? But part of me sees some advantages to being impulsive. Spontaneity is good sometimes. She looked at Drew and then Ella, who wouldn’t be here with two adults caring for them if Annie hadn’t acted on impulse. “So I’ve gotta take the good with the bad. And sometimes I can’t tell the difference myself. I’ve accepted that I’d rather be flexible and messy than rigid and neat.”


She did a one-arm sweep with the papers layering the table, sliding them into a nearby chair. Then she gestured for Caleb to set the babies in their car seats down on the cleared table.


“So that’s what people mean by ‘there’s a fine line between a weakness and a strength,’ huh?” he asked


He had listened to her, really heard her. There was something really attractive about a man who paid attention.


“That’s exactly my point.” She was talking too much but couldn’t stop, like her life depended on him understanding.

~*~

Cathy Shouse writes inspirational cowboy romances. Her Fair Creek series, set in Indiana, features the Galloway brothers of Galloway Farms. Much like the characters in her stories, Cathy once lived on a farm in “small town” Indiana, where she first fell in love with cowboys while visiting the rodeo every summer. Please visit cathyshouse.com for more information on discounts and new releases or to sign up for her newsletter.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

The Fourth of July and Pockets of Hope by Liz Flaherty

I wrote this two years ago. Although I am even more discouraged now than I was then, I have pockets of hope, too. That's what we've always been about, isn't it?--finding and filling pockets of hope. Have a safe and good Independence Day Weekend. - Liz

Today is the Fourth of July. It's always been a favorite day, full of family celebrations and parades and awe-inspiring fireworks. It's been a reminder of patriotism, of lives lost, and of sacrifices made. Of the amazing glory of our comparatively young country.

Do I still feel this way? Not so much. There is no place right now for those who tread the middle ground, which leaves many of us longing for the way things used to be. If I'm honest about it, I'll admit they weren't really that way even then. I guess we were just a lot politer about it.

There are things, though, that still feel the same. My husband, my brother, our 
son, and our grandson have all served--or still serve--in the military. I am proud of their service, proud of them, and proud of others who have answered that call. There is no limit to the love and gratitude I feel. When I watched my husband give our grandson (who now outranks him) his first salute as an officer, I re-understood the meaning of having one's heart swell with pride.

I remember, though, don't you? During Vietnam Era when people spat on soldiers? When they called them baby-killers. When the government tried to deny the damage that had been done to our own by Agent Orange and by the greed that led much of the war. So, no, not always better. I not only worry about my grandson having to fight in wars not of his generation's making, but of his own countrymen treating him badly when he is at home.

I love the flag and I'll always stand for the anthem if I'm able. But I'm happy the USA is still a place where it's your choice whether you stand or kneel or go on watching television when it plays. While I think burning the flag, emblazoning a political figure's face all over it, or making it into a shirt is disgusting, you are free to do so. 

And, oh, yes...protesters burned it "back then," too. There was a lot of noise about making it a constitutional amendment that outlawed burning it. But they didn't really do much about the reason for the protests. And the only amendments most people honor are the ones they deem the most important. The First one is big to me, but many people are perfectly willing to ditch it in a heartbeat as long as the Second one remains untouched.

So many people are angry. That includes me. We all feel betrayed by more people and more things than I can begin to name or understand. The Fourth of July holiday and all it's stood for for all these 244 years is just having the crap beat out of it, isn't it? 

I'm a sucker for patriotic songs. I remember most of the words to the ones we learned as kids and cop to having cold chills whenever I hear "God Bless the USA." Especially that one piece of a line in it: "...the flag still stands for freedom..."

It does, as it has for that 244 years, but if it's not standing for everybody's freedom, well, we have a really long way to go as a country, don't we?

Happy 4th of July, USA, and everybody in it. Have a good week. Stay safe. Be nice to somebody.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Felicity's Fortune by Kara O'Neal




I could hardly wait for the second book in my Gamblers and Gunslingers series – FELICITY’S FORTUNE – to release!


When we visited St. Joseph, Missouri, we had to stop at Jesse James’ house. While I was walking through those rooms, I wondered about his wife.


She’d set up a house, cooked meals, raised children…and her husband was an outlaw. She knew what he was, and that surprised me. Of course, who knew how she felt about his choices, and I’m sure it was hard to leave him since she loved him.


But I thought…what if she hadn’t known? What if a woman had married a man who was an outlaw, and she discovered it…


And turned him in.


So…FELICITY’S FORTUNE was born.


I had to give her a mighty hero, and so Butch Wilder grew in my mind’s eye. And he’s a good one. He had to be a little sinful, though, but he’s got a big, big, big heart!


I loved writing this story. Felicity’s daughters are the cutest little things.


I also enjoyed sending Felicity to Hell’s Half Acre, because God bless Texas, but that place was scary. It belonged in a book.


You know, that’s the best thing about being an author. You get to put cool places, events and people in your books.


I hope y’all enjoy Felicity and Butch’s story as much as I did! Happy reading!



Blurb


Felicity Capwell Archer had no idea she'd married a thief and a killer. And even though she's the one who turns him in, people still think she helped her former husband steal and is now hiding the money. To protect herself from the repercussions and attacks, she hires Butch Wilder. Gambler. Gunslinger. And a giant who hides a heart of gold.

Butch Wilder grew up on the streets of New Orleans, learning how to fight, how to gamble and how to use a Colt .45 with deadly precision. When Felicity begs him to protect her family, she's too damned pretty and too intriguing to turn down. Determined to avoid any emotional attachments and to keep it purely professional, Butch takes the job. But he finds himself sitting down to nice meals, walking her children to school and being part of a family for the first time.

Only by finding and returning the stolen loot can Felicity and her daughters ever truly be safe. Following clues she deciphers from her former husband’s letters, Felicity and Butch travel to the outlaw-infested Hell's Half Acre. It's madness, but Butch will do anything to protect Felicity. Even if it means his life.


Excerpt

When Butch reached Rickman’s office, he tried to see through the windows to the inside, but the grimy panes allowed for nothing. Cautious but unafraid, he walked in without hesitation.

But when he found who had come calling, he about swallowed his tongue. He stopped short, his hand on the knob, his mind devoid of all thought.

“Are you Mr. Wilder?”

Her honey voice poured through him, grabbing hold of his senses.

She cleared her throat. “I’m sorry to interrupt your work, sir, but I’m looking for Mr. Butch Wilder. Are you he?”

Snap out of it, man! Butch blinked then cleared his throat. “Uh, yeah. Yes. I’m Butch Wilder.” He shut the door.

She looked him over.

He steeled himself against the fear he might see in her eyes due to his size, but when her gaze touched his face, what he found was desperation. Confused and a little nervous, he wrapped his thumbs around his suspenders.

“Do you know who I am?”

Would it upset her if he did? But he couldn’t lie to her. Somehow she’d know if he did. “Yes.”

She twitched her lips as if frustrated by her infamy. He couldn’t blame her.

After letting out a slow exhale, she said, “My home, and by that I really refer to my children, my housekeeper and myself, has been under attack since my former husband was arrested and tried.”

So…she had gotten divorced. Or was it an annulment? He stayed quiet, not knowing what she wanted or if he was allowed to respond.

“We need constant protection until this is settled.” She waved a hand in the air. “Until either the…the hanging or…” She paused, and her gaze went distant.

He narrowed his eyes slightly. What bothered her? The event she hadn’t mentioned or the hanging?

She shook her head. “I apologize. The last weeks have been rather harrowing.”

He could imagine. From the arrest, to the trial, to now…

A portion of what she’d said registered in his mind. “I’m sorry, ma’am. But why are you here? You mentioned…protection?” Hell. Was she going to ask him to…

“Yes. The sheriff’s office can’t provide anyone, so he suggested I hire you.”

Butch’s mind whirled with the implications.

“I will pay you well, plus meals, because I would prefer it if you moved into my home. People come at all times of the day and night. I’m fearful of what has occurred in my absence for the last few hours.” She pressed two fingers to her temple and rubbed. “Not that I can do anything about it,” she muttered. She let out a weary exhale.

While she struggled with exhaustion, he tried to make sense of what she was offering. It was ridiculous. Him? Butch Wilder? Protect her? And her family?

Hell. That was damned laughable.




Book Purchase Link:  https://amzn.to/3MXKUa9



Author Bio

Award-winning author, Kara O’Neal is a teacher and lives in Texas with her husband and three children She write stories with strong family ties, lots of romance and guaranteed happy endings! Please visit her at www.karaoneal.com.



Where to Find Kara

Website –  www.karaoneal.com

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Blog -- http://www.karaoneal.com/blog

Blog – The Story Continues -- http://www.karaoneal.com/the-story-continues




Saturday, June 25, 2022

"Remember the ladies..." by Liz Flaherty

"I desire you would remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors." - Abigail Adams, 1776

I was a single mother in 1970. Even more, I was the worst of the worst--a single mother who'd "gotten herself pregnant" outside of wedlock. I was one of the lucky ones (with lucky being relative) in that my family was supportive. Not happy, by any means, but supportive nonetheless. Had there been a scarlet letter close by, I think my mom would have suggested I wear it. 

It wasn't easy being single and pregnant. It was lonely, although I had a circle of friends who stuck in there. Some of their parents didn't want them to, because obviously, I was "that kind of girl." A friend who worked in the pharmacy at the base told me I should "get rid of it," because no man would ever want to raise another guy's kid. He offered to help me do that. Not that it was legal. It wasn't.

I don't know how he would have helped me. I didn't believe in abortion as long as the pregnancy was a healthy one for mother and child. I still don't. 

For me. 

And no one ever tried to force me to get one. There were a lot of people back in 1969-70 who thought like my friend did. They were shocked when I wasn't going to give my baby up for adoption. They couldn't figure out why I didn't ask for help from the welfare system or sue the sperm donor for support. They thought I'd ruined my life. 

But, like I said, I was one of the lucky ones. I worked as long as I could, then went home to my folks' house. As soon as I could after the baby was born, I went back to work. Remember that it wasn't easy being single and pregnant? It wasn't easy being single and a mom, either. I couldn't get credit--I was a girl. There were places I wasn't welcome anymore, which was okay--I hadn't been all that welcome before that, either. I made minimum wage or a little more, paid for child care, and got really slim because there were times when I lived on my own that only one of us could eat and it wasn't going to be me. I had medical bills that weighed heavily, and paid them $5.00 at a time. I'm surprised I'm not still in debt.

But I always had a support system. Not an eager one that was thrilled to death with the path I chose, but an unstinting one. We were never homeless, my child and I were both loved, the times I was hungry were because I was trying so hard and so foolishly to do things on my own. 

If I had it all to do over again, would I have had an abortion? No. Do I think things would have been better for women and girls then if it had been a legal option? Yes, absolutely. Because then just as now, we should have been entitled to choices about our own bodies and our own lives. 

Many people (most of the ones I know being men...hmm...) are saying the right to abortion should be a state issue anyway, not a federal one. They're right; it should. But the states haven't proven themselves to be particularly caring about all of their citizenry, have they? 

Here I am. I've written much this morning and have no solutions to offer that improve on the words of Abigail Adams. My gratitude to  her and to everyone else who has spoken out over this 240-some years for those of my gender. For the six on the Supreme Court who set us back 50 of those years this week, to Justice Thomas, who has same-sex marriage and birth control in his sites as I write this, I have no words at all. Actually, I have plenty, but I'm pretty sure you're coming after my free speech next, and I don't want to give you any ideas. 

Have a good week. Be nice to somebody. 

Monday, June 20, 2022

Bridges Tour

 

 


Bridges

by Linda Griffin

Genre: Sweet Historical Romance 

In 1963, Neil Vincent, a middle-aged World War II veteran and "Christian atheist," is working at Westfield Court as a chauffeur. He spends most of his spare time reading.

Mary Claire DeWinter is a young, blind, Catholic college student and reluctant heiress. To secure her inheritance, she has to marry within a year, and her aunt is pressuring her to marry a rich man who teased and bullied her when she was a child.

Neil and Mary Claire shouldn't even be friends, but the gulf between them is bridged by a shared love of books. Can they cross the bridge to more?


Amazon * Apple * B&N * Google * Kobo


On the drive to Brierly Station, he didn’t speculate about who Miss DeWinter might be. It wasn’t his job to know who she was, only to meet her train and take her safely back to Westfield Court. She wouldn’t be the last of the friends and relatives who would gather as the old man’s life came to its long-awaited and peaceful end.


Brierly was bustling today, as restless as the St. James household. He was in plenty of time for the train and sat in the car reading. The car was a Bentley Mark VI, as well-maintained and highly polished as it was the day it was purchased. The book he was reading was Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native.

When the train rumbled in, he got out of the car. He stood patiently on the platform as the passengers disembarked, holding up a small slate on which he had chalked DEWINTER in large capitals. There weren’t many passengers, but they were briefly delayed while the conductor helped a blind woman navigate the steps. Neil’s gaze fell expectantly on a woman in her thirties, with an awful hat, but she was immediately met by a portly man and a teenage boy. No other likely prospects appeared, and he waited for someone to respond to the sign. No one did.

Finally, only two passengers were left on the platform—a small, homely man and the blind woman. Blind girl, really. She couldn’t be more than twenty. She had a jointed white cane, and her large sunglasses didn’t cover the edges of the scars on her face. She would not have been beautiful even without the scars—too thin, for starters, of average height but with small bones. On the other hand, her face might once have been pretty, and her hair was clean and shining, raven black, and well brushed. She was too pale, and the scars around her eyes were red and ugly. She looked a little lost.

Feeling foolish, he lowered the slate. “Miss DeWinter?” he asked as he approached her.

“Yes,” she said, turning toward his voice with a smile.

“I’m Vincent,” he said. “The St. James chauffeur.”

“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Vincent,” she said. “Thank you for meeting me.” Her voice was soft, her enunciation perfect.

The porter fetched her luggage—a single gray vinyl suitcase with a flower decal—from the depot and turned it over to Neil with a cheerful nod. Jane would be disappointed, especially if the girl’s other clothes were as plain as what she wore, a simple dark dress with long sleeves and an unfashionable, below-the-knees hemline. “Would you take my arm?” he asked, positioning himself so she could place her hand in the crook of his elbow, which she did with easy confidence.

“Do you have a Christian name?” she asked.

“Yes, miss. It’s Neil.”

“That’s a good name,” she said. “Mine is Mary Claire. How is my grandfather, do you know?”

Neil, who hadn’t known the old man had any grandchildren, said, “Hanging on, miss.”

He opened the car door and helped her into the back seat.

“You don’t have to call me ‘miss’ all the time,” she said. “Please call me Mary Claire. Or my friends at school call me Sunny.”

“Yes, miss,” he said automatically and closed the door.


I was born and raised in San Diego, California and earned a BA in English from San Diego State University and an MLS from UCLA. I began my career as a reference and collection development librarian in the Art and Music Section of the San Diego Public Library and then transferred to the Literature and Languages Section, where I had the pleasure of managing the Central Library’s Fiction collection and initiating fiction order lists for the entire library system. Although I also enjoy reading biography, memoir, and history, fiction remains my first love. In addition to the three R’s—reading, writing, and research—I enjoy Scrabble, movies, and travel.

My earliest ambition was to be a “book maker” and I wrote my first story, “Judy and the Fairies,” with a plot stolen from a comic book, at the age of six. I broke into print in college with a story in the San Diego State University literary journal, 
The Phoenix, but most of my magazine publications came after I left the library to spend more time on my writing. 

My stories have been published in numerous journals, including 
Eclectica, Thema Literary Journal, The Binnacle, The Nassau Review, Orbis, and  The Avalon Literary Review, and in the anthologies  Short Story America, Vol. 2, The Captive and the Dead, and  Australia Burns. Four stories, including one as yet unpublished, received honorable mention in the  Short Story America Prize for Short Fiction contests. A sweet romance, Bridges (2022), and four romantic suspense novels, Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking (2021), Guilty Knowledge  (2020), The Rebound Effect (2019) and Seventeen Days (2018) are available for order from the Wild Rose Press.


Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

$10 Amazon

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Saturday, June 18, 2022

Relevancy and Diet Cherry Coke by Liz Flaherty


I use skim milk. I like to buy it in half-gallons because I don't use that much of it and I don't like to throw it away. 

I use sugar-free hazelnut coffee creamer. Yes, I know this grosses a lot of people out, but I really like it. The sugar-free part makes me feel righteous.

When I am watching what I eat, which is fifty percent of the time--the other fifty, I just eat without watching--I use Land O Lakes spreadable light butter. No, it's not as good as the real thing, but, as I said above, it makes me feel righteous. Don't I look thinner to you?


While I'm on that subject, I'm also fond of Kraft fat-free shredded cheese and Diet Cherry Coke. 

My husband likes Folger's Special Roast coffee. He will drink other coffee cheerfully, but this is his favorite. Before this, he drank Maxwell House's Slow Roast. 

I have a favorite kind of underwear. Not expensive. Nice colors. Always available at Walmart so I didn't have to look high and low to find them. I used to have a favorite bra, too, that was expensive, came in colors I loved, and was fairly available at a couple of places. 

Well, guess what. All the things I mentioned above--with the possible exception of the skim milk, although that has happened, too--have become either difficult or impossible to find. In some sad cases, they have been discontinued or...heaven forbid...improved.

What all this boils down to is that I might be an influencer (on my most hated word of the year list, and yet I'm using it--go figure) who has subliminally coerced everyone to like the same things I do so they're never in stock. However, the more likely scenario is that the things I like aren't popular enough with marketing and public opinion polls to keep them available to the general public. 

Because...you know...that demographic thing. I already know I'm not in the age group marketing experts consult or care about pleasing. I am, after all, over 49--well over 49 Does this tick me off? Oh, yes. The same thing happens with books. While I have more money to spend on books now, there are fewer that fit within the parameters of what I want to read because those "in the know" don't realize that ones outside the lines in their coloring books don't deserve being recognized. In their minds and their playbooks, we lack relevancy. 

It kind of reminds me of the DOT running roughshod all over the place because people who don't live in large cities are merely incidental and don't need convenience. Oh, but that's another column for another day. 

Do I have a solution for my soliloquy of complaints up there? No. We will just find things we like almost as well to replace those we can't find and life will go on. 

But the marketers and the advertisers and the corporations are wrong about one thing. They've been wrong about it all along. Everyone's relevant, whether they want to recognize it or not. 

Have a good week. Be nice to somebody. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

On vacationing with grown kids. In Alaska. by Cathy Shouse

Our family of four has always enjoyed travel. But now in their twenties, our kids had pretty much canned vacationing with us. So last July when they approached us and floated the idea to resuscitate the “family vacation,” we were fully on board, and that’s an understatement. I felt like I’d won the lottery. Days away from the rat race with our kids? Sign me up! 

We opted to go big or stay home. After all, who knew when a family vacation might happen again? 

Alaska, here we come! 

There weren’t as many days off at the same time as we wished for. One kid lives 2,000 miles away from our Indiana home, in L. A. The other, still in college, had out-of-town summer work that ended a day before we left. We also hadn’t planned ahead at all! 

Giddy with anticipation and delirious from arranging all the logistics, we took off.


in August, we flew in to Anchorage, Alaska around midnight on a Saturday. The plan was for we three from Indiana to land and wait 90 minutes for the L.A. kid to connect. But due to our plane being stalled on the tarmac after landing, we all ended up departing two separate planes at the same time. It felt perfect seeing my kid land on the same airstrip we were on, side by side. I decided the trip was meant to be!

Picking up the rental car in the wee hours of the morning was not our best idea. It is Very Dark in Alaska when the sun isn’t shining. After a short drive in unknown terrain with no moon shining into our path or street lights showing the way, we switched drivers. To head to the small town with our Airbnb condo, we decided the kids had the best night vision.

They ended up doing a lot of the driving. Plus, gone were the days of sending them to bed early so we could get up at the crack of dawn and adhere to Mom and Dad’s agenda. Instead, we followed their lead, staying up late and sleeping in a bit. Heading to a coffee shop seemed to be their favorite thing, and we went along—literally.

We don’t even drink coffee, but walking to a nearby coffee shop together became a pleasant routine for the almost-week we were there.


The scenery was as stunning as anticipated. Equally exciting were the prices! Any differences in ages and interests melted away looking at the mountains and inhaling the fresh air, which was just special somehow, like it was extra clean. And who knew a homemade breakfast at a little resort diner overlooking a mountain could provide a much-needed recharge?

That isn’t to say it was all sunshine and blueish icebergs. Viewpoints and approaches to life differed (to put it mildly). There wasn’t the interest or the time to take the 12-hour cruise our retired friends treasured. But an hour train ride to a 5-hour cruise to see the glaciers turned out to be a great compromise.

I tried to curtail my too-long conversations “helping” the kids with their lives, what they consider lecturing. It seemed we’d come a long way since a Disneyland trip years ago. Back then, I was winding up for a good “chat” about the genius of Walt Disney when one kid piped up, “Save it for your journal.”

But their love of hiking created a new challenge. We all started on a trail in deep woods, with steep inclines, made slippery from dripping water. After going a short way, all I could think about was that old commercial, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” We, the senior twosome, bowed out and waited in the car, still able to enjoy a breathtaking view.

After all, we weren’t trying to keep up with the kids--not that we could have. We were content to go together, at our own paces. My husband and I are finding that philosophy, of appreciating the next generation’s unique outlook, works well, whether traveling or in everyday life with grown kids.

Do you have special memories of spending time with multiple generations? If you do, I hope you’ll share!

~*~

Cathy Shouse writes inspirational cowboy romances. Her Fair Creek series, set in Indiana, 
features the Galloway brothers of Galloway Farms. Much like the characters in her stories, Cathy once lived on a farm in “small town” Indiana, where she first fell in love with cowboys while visiting the rodeo every summer. Please visit cathyshouse.com for more information on discounts and new releases or to sign up for her newsletter.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Writer Monday with Nan Reinhardt

Welcome to Nan Reinhardt, my best writing buddy, travel partner, and wine expert. (As in, she doesn't think a pretty bottle, a screw cap, and a $4.99 price tag are reasons enough to buy it.)

Nan  is a USA Today bestselling author of sweet romantic fiction for Tule Publishing. Her day job is working as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader, however, writing is Nan’s first and most enduring passion. She can’t remember a time in her life when she wasn’t writing—she wrote her first romance novel at the age of ten and is still writing, but now from the viewpoint of a wiser, slightly rumpled woman in her prime. Nan lives in the Midwest with her husband of 48 years, where they split their time between a house in the city and a cottage on a lake.


Q: Not only are you a prolific writer, but you’re also a freelance copy editor. What came first—writing or editing?

A: I’ve been writing since I could hold a pen, so the real answer is writing, but I’ve been a freelance editor since 1996 and my first book wasn’t published until 2012, so… you do the math. I love both my careers—editing is always challenging and I get to read a lot of great books and discover new authors. Writing is my heart. I can’t imagine me without it.

Q: The setting for your Tule books is the small town of River’s Edge, Indiana, which is full of quirky and fun secondary characters. Did you grow up in a small town?

A:I did not. I grew up in the suburbs of a big city, but ever since I read Anne of Green Gables, I’ve wanted to experience small town life. I get some of that at our lake cottage, which is in a small town, but mostly, I’m a city girl. That said, there are plenty of quirky characters in the city, too, so lots of inspiration.

Q: What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

A: The middle. My friend, author Liz Flaherty and I have a little saying that goes, “First is the meet-cute, the attracted, stuff happens, then there’s a conflict, and then the happily ever after.” It’s the “stuff happens” part that’s hardest for me, but if you let your characters go, they’ll usually come through.

Q: What is the toughest criticism you’ve received as a writer? The best compliment?

A: An editor once told me my hero was an asshole. Man, that one hurt, particularly because she was right. He was. I learned so much from her about characterization and story. I’ll always be grateful, but that was pretty harsh.

Q: Writing can be an emotional, stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?


A: Breathe. Really. Just breathe. When you’re overwhelmed, step away, take a walk, have a glass of wine, weed a garden, read a book, watch a movie, absorb some story. You’d be surprised how much it helps to just step away for a few hours.

Q: What did you want to be when you grew up?

A: For a while I wanted to be an archeologist—in 4th grade, I learned about Howard Carter and the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb and I was fascinated. But then I found out Egypt was hot and there were scorpions, so… In high school for a while I wanted to go to Paris and be a translator—I’m an unabashed Francophile. But between those, I was writing and I knew one day, I would be a writer. Being published was dream I didn’t dare to express out loud, but wow! It’s an amazing ride!

Q: Favorite book when you were a kid?

A: Every book I read—seriously. But the one that made me want to be a romance writer was Gene Stratton-Porter’s The Harvester. David Langston was the ultimate romance novel hero—I highly recommend it!

Q: And here is a question that everyone loves: If you could choose three people, living or dead, to invite to a dinner party, who would they be and why?

A: My mom because I miss her; Dorothy Parker because she’s funny and quick and I think we’d get along great; and Carole King because she seems like such an intelligent, gentle soul and after dinner she could sing for us.

Talk to Nan at:
nan@nanreinhardt.com

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Blurb 


Falling for the Doctor, Book 2 in the Lange Brothers Trilogy

They were in it for the fun, but never expected the storm…

Life for hometown ER physician Dr. Max Lange has always been sweet. He loves his job and is dialed in socially with his family, friends, and community. But lately, something feels like it’s missing. When a visiting doctor pulls him in for a hot kiss and asks him to play along in order to avoid unwanted attention from a hospital administrator, Max knows exactly what he wants and needs—the lovely Dr. Mitchell.

After a tragic error shakes her confidence beyond repair, Dr. Lauren Mitchell has abandoned her career in cardiothoracic surgery and instead works as a lead medical consultant for a top cardiovascular technology company. She enjoys her simple life on the road—hotel rooms, room service, and no emotional entanglements.

When a violent storm throws her into service at St. Mark’s hospital, Max has only a few days to prove to Lauren that they belong together, while she must reevaluate her career…and her life. Will Max’s love be enough to make River’s Edge and Max her home?


Buy Links:

Amazon | B&N Nook | Kobo | Apple Books

Excerpt:

…She stacked her bread plate on top of her salad bowl, but Max stopped her with a raised palm. “I’ll bus your dishes, honey. You go on, and good luck with the presentation.” He leaned down to drop a quick kiss on her upturned mouth—the lightest touch of his lips to hers. “Don’t let the turkeys get you down, okay?”

“Thanks.” Lauren smiled, packed up her iPad and phone, and shoved them into a leather messenger bag that she slung over her shoulder. Walking away, she stopped a few feet from the table. “Nice to meet you, Dr. Johnson.” She gave him a brief nod. “See you tonight, Max.”

Whew. She’s going to meet me!

At least he hoped that was what her farewell meant. With a mental shrug, Max settled back into his chair and scraped the last of the chicken and noodles from the plate in front of him. When he looked up, Chris was staring a hole in him, one brow raised cynically. “Come on, Max.”

“Come on what?” Max took a slug of milk, then swiped his paper napkin across his lips and beard.

“Who is she?”

“We told you. She’s Dr. Lauren Mitchell, cardiothoracic surgeon, currently a consultant for Cardiotronics. We met in Baltimore a few months ago and—”

“Your right eye twitches when you lie, Max.” Chris leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest. “It has ever since I met you freshman year in Bloomington. I imagine it’s happened your whole life. I could ask your mother. She likes me.”

Max offered a pointed glance and unwrapped his brownie.

Chris continued to stare at him. “I know this is crap because you’ve been in the ER with me for the past four days and I’ve not seen that woman once. Not one time. Plus, I know you. If you’d found that gorgeous creature in Baltimore, you’d have been crowing about it because you don’t date, and if you were dating the good Dr. Mitchell, you wouldn’t be able to resist telling me. And I haven’t heard so much as a peep out of you about her in—what’s it been since the conference?” He counted the months on the fingers of one hand. “February, March, April… It’s almost May. Three months.”

Max sighed. “You’re quite the detective there, Sherlock. Think you could’ve missed your calling?”

Chris chuckled. “Nope. My eight-year-old could’ve doped this one out. I’ll stick to medicine.” He pushed his plate away, set his elbow on the table, and cupped his chin in his palm. “So spill it.”

Max debated, but only briefly. Chris was no hospital gossip. He was his best friend and maybe it wouldn’t hurt to process a bit because, by God, he was darned curious about Dr. Lauren Mitchell. “I’ve never seen her before she threw herself at me”—he peeked at his smart watch—“thirteen minutes ago.”









Saturday, June 11, 2022

Preen and Prance and Promise by Bruce C. Embrey

I can't bear it, can you? Children dying, no matter how or when or where it happens, is one of those things I'll never get used to. One of those things I never want to get used to, although it feels these days as if those children who die by guns held by madmen are simply collateral damage so that the politically conservative interpretation of the Second Amendment can be held in the same reverence as the Bible and controlling women's bodies. And we can continue to do nothing. Nothing. 

Am I angry? Am I still angry even after hearing and reading about how the "government is trying to take the guns" ad nauseum? Damn right. 

Bruce Embrey wrote a poem he graciously allowed me to share. He's angry, too. And frustrated. 


 

 PREEN AND PRANCE AND PROMISE

by Bruce C. Embrey, Retired Judge
Can you recall the first time
You heard that children died, 
In school where they were safe
From the crazy, rising tide?

It started out with Columbine
And we thought surely now
Our politicians would respond
With a solution that really wows.

They preened and pranced and promised
But nothing could they pass,
For the NRA and gunmakers
Had them by the ass.

"The right to arms is absolute,"
The NRA still lies.
Fearful politicians voice agreement
So honesty has died.

When you take their money they own you
And never can you stray
Lest you lose their support
And risk their intimidating way.

The names of schools keep piling up,
Sandy Hook, Parkland, Noblesville, 
Uvalde, 288 in all.
But wait a month, we'll count again
And add the latest brawl.

"I have a right," the gun lobby says,
"And on that point we won't give."
But I hear the voices of dead children asking,
"Don't I have a right to live?"

We'll never collect guns although that lie
Has persisted for many years.
It's the most effective way
To stoke the fire of fears; AND SELL GUNS!

Are guns so very important
That they buy the votes of Congress?
Are we to trust the so-called leaders
Who betray us by accepting their largess?

I hear the voices of the dead
Whose shattered bodies scream.
"Are gun rights so important
That they trump our right to dream?"

So preen and prance and promise on
We know you won't answer the call.
But surely your reasons should make more sense,
For now they make none at all.

Have a good week. Be nice to somebody.