I just loaded chapter 19. Hope you enjoy it! http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/
I’m getting in gear for Thanksgiving. My two sisters and cousin always come to our house. I know–our family is pitifully small. This year, my daughter Holly and her son Tyler can both make it, too. Nate’s in the marines and can’t make it home until Christmas, but that’s not that far away. So I feel especially blessed.
We’ve had so many wonderful times with friends and family this year. Some of our dear, old friends who’d moved away have returned, and it’s like they never left. The years didn’t diminish our friendship at all. And as always, I have my writer friends–a true treasure–and today, I want to share my blog with a fellow writer I admire, Julia Donner. I’ve yammered on and on about how much I love her Regency romances. She just published a historical western romance, and I love it just as much, so I invited her here to showcase AVENUE TO HEAVEN. Thanks for the wonderful excerpt, Julia! I read this book and can’t recommend it enough. (Jake is a love interest to remember).
Blurb: When a coffin arrives on Annie Corday’s doorstep she knows who sent it—her former husband, one of Chicago’s most vicious crime lords. Desperate, she decides on a radical solution. If a man can advertise for a wife, why can’t she arrange for a bodyguard and temporary husband?
Jake Williams isn’t looking for a wife when he comes to Chicago to buy cattle but ends up roped into a loco marriage contract. And worse, he can’t stop his headlong fall into love with a woman who will eventually leave.
By the time Jake returned from the barn, Annie was at the range. He quickly learned that she liked it quiet in the morning, a slow waker. He knew enough about women to not provoke her and quietly ate. The thin, fragile pancakes filled with blackberry preserves were worthy of reverent silence.
He put his plate in the dry sink and went to get his hat. He hesitated at the door, toying with the brim, while trying to judge if she was ready for conversation. He gave up worrying about it and went out.
She surprised him when she joined him on the porch. In the quiet, they watched morning’s shy light spread its warmth across the land. The sharp scents of ragweed and dew-drenched foliage permeated the air. Gentle lowing of cattle drifted up from the pastures below.
He looked over at Annie. She gazed out at the new day and glory of a Colorado summer sunrise. She no longer looked grumpy.
He tugged his hat into place and pulled a pair of gloves from his back pocket. “Thanks for breakfast, Annie. And last night. Your word is good. I haven’t eaten like that in a long time.”
Not since Mother, but he wouldn’t tell her that. No sense in giving her a swelled head.
She stared sleepily at the spectacular view. “Thank you. Will you buy a milk cow?”
“Sorry. I don’t milk cows. I can have the neighbors bring milk over twice a week.”
“Wouldn’t it be easier to have a cow?”
“Are you willing to milk it every morning and night?”
That woke her up. He wisely swallowed a laugh when she scowled. He couldn’t tell if she was annoyed about his refusal to buy the cow or the idea of getting up early to milk it.
“Very well, sir. No cow, but I was accustomed to fresh milk every day and always kept a Jersey in the barn.”
“Plenty of cream,” she shot back.
“No cow, Annie. I spent enough years as a ranch hand to have developed a snobbish attitude about milking. Farmers milk cows. Ranchers breed’em.”
She gave up the argument with a sigh and turned back to the view. Jake started to leave, got half way to the barn and came back.
“Annie, do you know how to shoot?”
“Can you drive a team or a single hitch buggy?”
“Yes, and I can ride.”
“Well, that’s something. But you’ll have to learn how to shoot.”
She made an owlish face. “I think not.”
“Annie,” he began, careful to remove all traces of condescension from his tone, “there’s no choice. You have to learn.”
“Give me one reason why.”
“First off, it’s August. The heat draws the rattlers to the water trough and the well out back. Come September, or when the weather turns wet, they won’t be a bother.”
“Are you speaking of rattlesnakes?”
“Yes. They like the water when the heat gets bad.”
“Very well, then. I shall learn.”
“Tomorrow,” he succinctly warned.
“Why so soon?”
“Because, Annie, it’s hot and likely to stay like this for another three weeks.”
She huffed a sigh, letting him know she would do as he asked but that he’d spoiled her morning.
She suffered through her first weaponry lesson the next day. Her target was a dead tree. Jake demonstrated with a pistol, showing how easy it was for him to shoot off tiny twigs she could barely see and certainly had no interest in killing.
She took the Colt.44 from him and managed to hit everything surrounding the tree but not the tree itself. The pistol weighed too much for her wrist. His army issue revolver wobbled in her feeble grip, even when she used both hands. By the time he told her to stop, she was ready to give up and happily set the pistol on a tree stump. She hadn’t counted on his annoying determination.
He withdrew a rifle from a fringed buckskin case. “Here. This is a Remington D-Ring.”
Exasperated by yet another weapon to fuss with, she made an impatient noise. “How many guns do you have?”
“This is a rifle, not a gun.” Before she could ask, he explained. “It has to do with the interior design of the barrel.”
She huffed an aggrieved sigh and confronted the rifle. Smooth brass pegs had been hammered into the stock for decoration. The unexpected weight of it almost slipped through her fingers and toppled her to the ground. She gamely hoisted it up.
He showed her how to fit it to her shoulder. Standing behind her, he reached around and adjusted the position. She instantly lost the ability to concentrate. His entire body was wrapped around hers, huge and enveloping her within his heat. His breath brushed her cheek. When he correctly positioned her hands, his fingers felt raspy yet gentle. The solid ridge of his thigh supported her hip. The implacable wall of his torso braced her back. She tried to think about what he was saying, but his scent and heat and presence were making her head spin.
She heard his patient directions from a distance and tried to focus on his deep, whispery voice. “Squeeze it, Annie. Slow and easy. Don’t jerk on it. Just slide your finger over it. Here. I’ll show you how.”
His finger covered hers against the trigger. An explosion slammed into her head, her body rammed backward into his chest. The spot where the rifle stock fit against her shoulder felt like she’d been kicked by a horse. But there was a hole in the center of the tree.
Stepping back, he said, sounding oddly hoarse, “Now you try it without me.”
And she did, many times. She listened, forcing attention and persistence, while he explained how to load and clean the rifle. He didn’t stand closely again, but stood a little behind her, ready to support or catch her after the impact of the recoil.
At bedtime, she used a hand mirror to study the bruises on her sore shoulder, quite proud of the smudges. She could barely lift her arm, but she knew how to shoot. Not that she could hit much. The only time the tree had anything to fear was when Jake helped her to aim, but he’d only done that once. She pretended not to feel any disappointment about that, nor about the fact that Harold had yet to wire her about what was happening in Chicago.
That night she dreamed that Charles had come to the peaceful valley, vowing to keep her there forever. Jake was in Chicago at the Clark Street house, happy as a lark, soaking in the black marble tub, fully clothed.
M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)
I don’t post every time I put up a chapter, so you might have missed a couple, but chapter 5’s up. Hope you enjoy it!
I just put up the second chapter of LUCAS, (BROTHERS’ LOVE series). Hope you enjoy it!
I put a chapter up on my webpage. Not sure if romance is your thing, though, so I’m just testing it out. Hope you like it.
The first books I published were urban fantasies. I was proud of myself. I’d gotten an agent. Dystel and Goderich formatted my e-books to put online. But I’d always written mysteries before I tried my hand at UF, and when I read a chapter of Fallen Angels to my writers’ group, they looked stunned. Every person started his/her critique with, “I don’t really know this genre…” and then they asked why the only protagonists were fallen angels, vampires, werewolves, and witches. Weren’t there any humans? Etc. Etc. After this happened enough times, I pretty much knew that urban fantasy wasn’t and never would be their thing. So I sort of stopped volunteering to read. Which didn’t bother me. We have such good writers in our group, I’m happier to listen.
When my agent pushed me to try writing a romance, so that I could get a publisher, I signed up to read again for my group. And it didn’t really surprise me when my romance chapters didn’t impress them either. I got more of the same feedback. “I don’t ever read these…” Which I knew they didn’t. My group is made up of serious writers and serious readers. That’s why I like them. And my romances are lightweight, not serious. If you ask many romance writers, a lot of them struggle to get respect. Hell, I don’t read that many romances, but when I do, I can appreciate the skill that goes into writing them. The same goes for sci/fi and fantasy, memoirs and noir. They might not be my thing, but I know that it’s hard to write anything well.
I write a webpage, as well as this blog, and when I first started posting a few romance blurbs between other posts, I got such a kick out of a reader’s comment. She said that she really enjoyed my urban fantasies and was even going to reread some of them, but she just couldn’t make herself read a romance. When I mentioned that I was going to try to write a mystery, she commented that she’d follow me to mysteries. She liked those. And the truth is, that made me happy.
I completely undersand how she feels. Some things appeal to you. Some things don’t. It doesn’t matter how good the writing is. It’s just not your thing. But I’m hoping that the readers who liked my urban fantasies might crossover to mysteries. I never expected them to be romance fans. It’s still iffy, though. I’m not writing hardcore mysteries. Amateur sleuths might not excite them either. But that’s what my editor likes:) And I like them, too. So I’ll cross my fingers and toes and see what happens!
I put up chapter 7 for a Babet & Prosper story on my webpage: http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/
My author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel
On Twitter: @judypost
Hi, all! I’m so happy to spread the news that Kyra Jacobs’s third and last book in the Checkerberry Inn contemporary romance series will be out on July 17th, and it’s available for pre-order now. I love Kyra’s writing–both her romances and her dragon series–so I asked her to do a question and answer for us and to tell us a little about her new book. Here goes:
Questions for Karen:
- This is the third and final book in your Checkerberry Inn series. How did you enjoy writing a series? Did it have any challenges?
I love series writing, and being able to draw on the supporting cast from prior books to help drive new stories. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to plan ahead. I’ve got to be careful not to make a future hero/heroine act contrary to what you want them behaving like in their upcoming books.
- You tend to write about feisty heroines. Freudian, maybe? A little bit of you sneaking into your fiction?
Hah! I’m pleading the fifth, here. Pleading. The. Fifth.
- Besides writing romances, you skip off to write PNR novels, too. How did that happen?
Honestly, I don’t know. The dragons struck me out of the blue (re-releases coming 7/31!) , as did my latest fantasy/PNR novel (work in progress). But I’ve found that keeping a foot in each genre tends to help balance me out, crazy as that may sound. With my contemporary stories, I have certain plot rules for romance to follow, as well as making the story/setting/characters believable. With fantasy, I get to break all the “normal” rules while I create new ones that shape my alternate worlds.
- Your third book features a female chef. Do you love to cook? Are you a secret cookbook hoarder?
Ha! No, not a cookbook hoarder. Though, I’m certainly a cookbook/recipe user. If I don’t have directions to follow, I’m lost. Maddie, the chef in my story—she’s a wiz in the kitchen. Me? Not so much. I do love to bake (again, all about following the recipe) and have been trying my hand at grilling this summer. So far, so good!
- What about the hero, Cole? He’s a musician, isn’t he? Can you tell us a little about him? You’re a little addicted to music, aren’t you? Do you listen to it while you write?
Ah, Cole. He’s such a sweetheart but so misunderstood. I was glad to bring him a much-needed HEA. And yes, I do love music. If I’m in the car, I’m singing along. Working in the yard or on a walk, headphones are likely in (but I spare the neighbors from hearing me sing). During writing time, though, the music stays off. I need quiet for the stories in my head to make it onto my keyboard.
- Okay, tell us a little about you. If you were gifted a perfect day, what would it be?
Oh, wow. There are so many “perfect day” scenarios to choose from! I’m thinking one that has a little of all my favorite things in there—time with my boys, time in my flower gardens, time writing, maybe even a bit of yoga thrown in the mix. And something tells me, music will be included as well. 😉
Thanks for visiting my blog! Can you share your new book’s cover, a blurb, and excerpt with us?
Thank you so much for having me here today, Judy!
Maddie Frye, the Checkerberry Inn’s snarky, introverted chef, just wants to be left alone. But with the inn’s upcoming gala, Maddie’s boss has matchmaking on the brain. So when the gorgeous new guy in town helps her out for a night, she comes up with the perfect solution to her problem…
Cole Granville is looking for a fresh start. When a part-time job opens in the Checkerberry’s kitchen, he takes it without a second thought. The only catch? He’s got to help his sexy new coworker snag a date for an upcoming dance. But as he coaches Maddie on attracting her crush, Cole realizes he’s the one falling for the curvy brunette.
Cole froze, his heart racing. The last time he’d heard those words, they were followed by “Stop! Police!” Resisting the urge to run, he turned toward the voice and stared. The Checkerberry’s spitfire of a chef was running toward them, apron flapping in the wind.
“Uh-oh,” said Brent. “What’d you do to make Maddie leave the kitchen at this hour?”
“No idea, I haven’t seen her since church on Sunday. Maybe she’s yelling at you?”
Brent chuckled. “Looks like we’re about to find out.”
She came to a stop a few feet back, her peaches and cream complexion flushed from exertion. “Hey, hi. Cole, right?”
The men exchanged a glance. Brent offered him a victorious smirk.
“Yes, ma’am. What can I do you for?”
“Ma’am? Good grief, I’m not ninety. Even if I do feel that way sometimes. It’s Maddie. Just Maddie.”
She put a hand to her chest. Cole’s gaze followed the movement but he did his best not to let it linger there. He’d admired her curves from a distance many times, but never this up close. Today, her top was unbuttoned farther than it usually was on Sundays…
She cleared her throat and brought the hand down to plant on her hip. “You still looking for work?”
Cole stared at her, momentarily dumbstruck.
“Work.” She waved a hand in front of his face. “Are you still looking for work?”
He blinked, trying to clear the fog of surprise from his mind. “Yes, ma’am—I mean, Maddie. Did you need help moving something? Or lifting?”
“No. More like washing dishes. You got two working hands and arms?”
“Then you’ll do. Please tell me this was your last run of the day.”
“It is.” More like his only run of the day. Probably wasn’t even necessary, but Old Tom hated to see him sit around bored on the days he filled in at Granville’s Hardware. Not that he’d ever complain—those days were what graciously supplied the roof over his head until Cole got on his feet financially.
“Perfect. You finish with Brent, I’ll call your grandfather.” She hurried back toward the inn, leaving the men to themselves once more.
“Come on,” said Brent with a grin. “I’ll help you unload so you can get to our queen bee.”
Cole smirked. “Thanks.”
“I hope you didn’t have any plans tonight. Big gathering up there, lots of old biddies. They stay longer than you’d expect.”
“Nah, no plans.” Cole looked back toward the inn, seeing it for the first time as a possible ticket to success. Who knew? If washing dishes paid a decent wage, maybe he’d find a way to stay longer than expected. And a cash advance.
In fact, his dream studio was counting on it…
Happy book’s birthday to FIRST KISS, ON THE HOUSE. It’s up for sale! No heavy angst, just light-hearted romance–if you’re in the mood for a little humor and fun.
My fifth Mill Pond romance is available for reviews on NetGalley now. Miriam is a high school English teacher who can stop a rebellious teenager with one raised eyebrow. Take her seriously! Joel’s daughter is nineteen, but will always be mentally twelve. He comes to Mill Pond to open a brewery. Will beer and literature make a perfect blend?
This week has been a mixed bag. My grandson came home on a 10-day leave from marine basic training. Our family was all excited about seeing him. The poor kid came home with “recruit crud.” He said it’s common. Luckily, his first night home, I had a family welcome home supper for him, including steaks, macaroni ‘n cheese, and chocolate chip bar cookies–his favorites. We all thought he had a bad cold until two days later, his temperature spiked to 104, and his mom took him to the health clinic. He had “community pneumonia.” Also common, I guess. After a super shot and antibiotics, he started to feel better–and that’s when his mom, my husband, and I all started coughing and feeling crappy.
We’re taking meds now, and we’ve watched lots of movies together. Nate’s feeling almost up to par, so his brother drove from Indy on Friday to drink green beer with him on St. Pat’s day, but it hasn’t been the warm homecoming we expected. Still, we got to see him. He leaves tomorrow to go back to Indy to catch his airplane early Monday morning. He’s going to be gone a while this time. He says he’s going to try to come home healthy next time.
I had page proofs to finish while he was here, but did those around his schedule. Everything got done on time. Nate leaves on Monday, and then my book comes out on Tuesday. I hope that lifts my spirits. Anyway, I thought I’d include a snippet from the book. I hope you like it:
Autumn rain didn’t have the joy of its spring counterpoint. It served as a foreboding for worse weather to come. When they walked inside the bar, warmth greeted them. There were more empty tables than usual, and Daphne saw Paula sitting at a table by herself. She waved them over.
Mom tried to hide a grimace. She didn’t approve of Paula’s small eyebrow ring and the stud in her cheek. She glanced away from her tattoos.
But Paula was all smiles and cheerfulness. “Hi! I hear there’s a trip in your near future.”
Mom’s eyebrows shot up, surprised. “Where did you hear that?”
“Tyne told us. He said you’re going to Carolina.”
The eyebrows furrowed into a frown. “Really?” She shot a dirty look at Daphne.
Daphne hung her raincoat on a nearby peg and held up her hands in surrender. “He asked me about meeting him for supper next week, and I said I could, because you’d be out of town.”
Her mother didn’t look happy. Her dad looked downright nervous.
Daphne shrugged. “I didn’t know your trip was a secret.”
“It’s not.” Mom left it at that.
Paula looked back and forth between them, confused. “What’s wrong with having Tyne feed your daughter? He’s one hell of a cook.”
“We’ve heard.” Mom’s tone could form glaciers.
Louise Draper came to take their orders. Paula already had a hamburger, and they each ordered one, too. Of course, Mom and Dad ordered theirs plain, no bun.
When Louise left, Daphne decided it was a good time to change the subject. She turned to Paula. “Tyne’s brother is a chef, too, isn’t he?”
Paula’s lips twitched. She recognized a dodge tactic when she heard one, but Daphne had to give her credit. She answered quickly, “Holden’s won lots of awards. Of course, that’s what his parents expected. They always thought Holden would do well. He was a straight-A student and excelled at culinary school. They never expected much out of Tyne.”
Daphne could feel heat rush through her veins. “Why not? It’s hard to miss his talent.” Her voice held more of an edge than she expected. Her mother narrowed her eyes.
Paula glanced at the bar where Chase was taking someone’s order. “Tyne does things his own way, like Chase. Neither of them care if they impress anyone or not, and that didn’t impress Tyne’s parents. They’re big into status.”
Daphne fiddled with the paper napkin on her lap. What was wrong with Tyne’s parents? How could they miss how wonderful he was? She’d have never guessed Tyne had any challenges in his life. He seemed so sure of himself, so successful. She’d assumed everyone encouraged him, like her parents encouraged her.
When no one said anything, Paula went on. “Tyne came to Mill Pond to get experience, so that he can open his own restaurant someday.”
Mom breathed a sigh of relief. “So he doesn’t plan on staying here?”
Louise returned with their drinks—water with lemon for Mom and Dad, wine for Daphne.
Daphne gulped down disappointment. Most people moved to Mill Pond and never left. They fell in love with the area. But Tyne wasn’t like most people. Her heart lurched, surprising her. She didn’t want Tyne to leave. She realized she’d liked him from the moment they met, when he wanted to rent the apartment above her shop. It was an instant click. She often found herself watching for him on the nature trail that wound behind her cabin. Not because she had a crush on him or anything. He was just fun to be around. He was a good person. A friend.