Saturday, November 30, 2013

New Release: Seeking Christmas

Get in the holiday spirit with Seeking Christmas, an Ocean Mist Short Story

The Christmas season has eighteen-year-old Courtney crossing the state line with her little brother Dennis to rendezvous with the man who deserted them years ago. Courtney remembers him only as the tall man who ran away. Dennis doesn’t remember him at all.

Courtney is furious, but Denny is curious. Will their meeting result in a happy Christmas memory or another miserable disappointment?  


My phone buzzed against my leg. I pulled it from my pocket and checked the screen.
Such a stupid name.
For such a stupid man.
My gaze darted to where my mom lay slumped on the couch, her mouth hanging open and a gentle snore escaping her saggy lips. My brother Denny sat hunched over his math workbook at the kitchen table, a death grip on his pencil. His short, scrawny legs swung to and fro.
I pressed the phone to my chest and took the stairs two at a time to my room.
“What do you want?” My voice was tense, short. With a steel hold on the phone, I strode to the window and stared out. Across the street, strings of Christmas lights drooped over a fir tree, winking at me in all their sparkling glory.
I turned away.
“You know what I want. Please, Courtney.” The pleading in his voice rankled like a cat scratching at the back door.
“But it’s been over seven years. It’s time.”
“And whose fault is that?” My words cut.
“You don’t need to remind me.” A heaving sigh came across the line.
I stood ramrod straight beside my single bed and gazed around the empty expanse of the master bedroom. I attempted to shove down the lump of anger in my throat. 
“Dad, the answer is no.”
“I would meet you way more than halfway. I’ve got it all arranged. There’s a motel room for you. Your own. No sharing.”
“Mom would come unglued.” I sank onto the mussed flannel sheets and impatiently kicked aside a stray slipper. It struck my dresser and lay over like a dead animal.
“Your mother won’t talk to me.”
I went quiet and listened to his raspy breath. Despite my objections, despite my bitterness, curiosity pulled. I attempted to stifle it, knowing that giving in would mean wading into quicksand.
“Court? Come on, for old time’s sake?”
Resentment ripped through me. “Old time’s sake? Are you freakin’ kidding me?”
“How’s Tiffany?” he asked, changing the subject to my sister.
“Horrid, as usual. Seeing you last year didn’t help her any.”
“I tried. I wanted her to stay.”
“Yeah, well, you had a weird way of showing it.” I grew tired of the conversation. Such a pathetic waste of time.
I threw my cell onto the covers and moved to the walk-in closet. My gray hoodie sagged on a row of pegs running above an unused shoe rack. My four pairs of shoes lay scattered across the floor, resembling lonely children in a deserted playground. Like the massive room, the closet was wasted on me. My meager collection of clothes barely took one third of the space.
I pulled on my hoodie, adjusted my glasses, and went back downstairs. Bending over, I plugged in the lights on the waist-high Christmas tree perching on the coffee table.
Denny looked up, and his face relaxed into a grin. “Thanks, Court. I forgot to plug ‘em in.”
“Finished with your math yet?”
“One more problem.”
“There are some chips in the cupboard if you’re hungry.”
Denny jumped off his chair and scrambled into the kitchen. The cupboard door slammed shut, and he returned with his arm elbow-deep in the foil bag.
I chuckled. “I’m going for a walk. And no more banging around. Let Mom sleep.”
I grabbed my heavy wool jacket and carefully opened the condo door, clicking it shut behind me. The cold December air lent a crisp clarity to the stars. They seemed near enough to gather in my pocket. I headed west toward the ocean. A biting breeze brought the sour smell of seaweed and blew my dark, feathered hair against my cheeks. I checked the time on my phone. Keegan should intercept me any minute.

Meet the Author

My passion is writing! What could be more delicious than inventing new characters and seeing where they take you?
I'm a teacher so I spend most of my waking hours with young people. I love chatting with them and hearing their views on love and life. My students are magical, and I am honored to be part of their lives.
I've lived in Honduras, Grand Cayman, and Costa Rica. Presently, I live in Indiana with my husband, Paul. We have two grown children and three precious grandchildren, special delivery from Africa.
When not teaching, I love to hole up in our lake cabin and write -- often with a batch of popcorn nearby. (Oh, and did I mention dark chocolate?)
I enjoy getting to know my readers, so feel free to write me at: . Join my newsletter at: Visit me to learn about all my books and some smart and sassy, clean teen reads:  Happy Reading!

Where to find Brenda:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving With A Little History On The Side

Thursday November 28, is Thanksgiving Day here in the United States.  Unlike so many other holidays celebrated, Thanksgiving is not restricted to just one religion.  People across the country gather with their families and loved ones and give thanks.

Most of us associate this holiday with the Pilgrims, a group of individuals who settled in what is now called Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620.  However, while school children across the country are taught that the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621, Thanksgiving as we truly know it did not start until 1863.  That year President Lincoln declared that Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the final Thursday of November every year.  It was celebrated on that day every year until 1939 when President Roosevelt tried moving it up a week.  Most people in the United States did not like this decision and in 1941 he signed a bill officially making Thanksgiving the 4th Thursday of November.

That's it for me little history lesson today.  Now go and spend some time with your family and friends and have a Wonderful Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 22, 2013

On Sale For Until November 27

She was raised as an American Princess

Following the betrayal of a former lover, Sara Sherbrooke swore off relationships, too afraid she would be used again.  Instead she has devoted all her energy to succeeding in politics without relying on her family name.  That is until one night in Hawaii with her brother's best friend Christopher Hall.  

He is a self-made billionaire

Technological genius and CEO of Hall Technology, Christopher Hall first met Sara Sherbrooke when he and Jake Sherbrooke were college roommates.  While attending Jake's wedding in Hawaii, Christopher is reintroduced to Sara, a beauty who was once way out of his league.  But now as the most eligible bachelor in Silicon Valley, the only thing stopping Christopher from pursuing Sara is the thought of betraying his best friend.  

As they work together to promote a new education initiative, neither can deny the attraction between them.  But will their growing romance be worth all of the consequences?


Monday, November 18, 2013

Today's Feature: Choose Your Heart

Midwife Kerry Mackenzie has tried to move on with her life to no avail. Her deceased husband’s parents expect her to remain true to his memory. But at twenty-four, Kerry’s too young to wear widow weeds for the rest of her life. Seeking independence, she takes a job miles from home that will require her to move. Things may have worked out as planned if she hadn’t gotten stranded on the way…

Ranch owner Damian Greer happens upon Kerry perched alongside her disabled car on an Amarillo highway. Coming from a family whose members move quickly when it comes to love, the instant attraction he feels is no surprise. After observing her during an emergency, he suspects she may be the woman for him.

When it appears her car will be out of commission for a few days, Damian offers to drive Kerry to Albuquerque to meet with her realtor. Can Damian convince her to abandon her plan, and give them a chance?
Sound Good? Check Out This Excerpt

He took her in his arms, and within minutes, he had them spinning on the dance floor as if they’d done it together for years. Every time Damian turned her, he tugged her closer. The scent from the flower in her hair combined with the light perfume she’d used was an aphrodisiac. He slid his thigh between her legs and spun her halfway across the floor. Her skirt billowed out, and her curls danced in the light of the lanterns. Kerry threw her head back, her throat muscles moving as she laughed. He did some different movements, and each time she followed him with ease. Her beautiful, hazel eyes sparkled and her cheeks flushed a deep pink.

Was this how she would look in the throes of passion?

The music reverberated through his body, tightening his gut as the woman in his arms held him captive. Her scent, her feel, her softness. His gaze met hers, and her smile faltered as she searched his face, questioning.

The band finished the merengue and moved quickly and easily into a slow number. Damian cupped Kerry’s face and lowered his head. His lips pressed against hers, and she slid her palms up his chest to circle his neck. Slim fingers played with the hair at his collar. He turned their fused bodies slowly in a circle and ravished her mouth. He pressed against her lips with his tongue, seeking entrance. She opened, granting him access to the sweetest nectar he’d ever tasted.
Meet The Author

Callie has been making up stories since elementary school, and writing gave her a way to turn off the voices in her head. After having a number of articles and interviews published in newspapers and magazines, she took on what she’d always dreamed of. Writing that book. She currently has a number of both historical and contemporary romance books published. Visit her website for more information.

She currently lives in Oklahoma with her husband and adult children who move in and out with alarming regularity. Add three rescue dogs and the household is complete—and full. She enjoys hearing from her readers, and would love to have you visit her on Facebook.
Before you leave be sure to leave Callie a comment and include you email address to be entered into her contest.  She will be awarding an autographed copy of any of her in-print books, (A Run For Love; An Angel in the Mail; A Tumble Through Time; Emma's Journey; A Prescription For Love) and a hand-made beaded bookmark (US ONY) to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
To increase your chances of winning visit the other stops on Callie's tour.  They can be found here:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Interview With Debut Author Judy Kentrus

Today I am pleased to have debut author Judy Kentrus on my blog.  Read my interview with her, and then be sure to check out her new book Elusive Obsession.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?  
Since high school.  My English teacher said I should pursue a writing career, but I didn’t want to go to college. I married my high school sweetheart instead.
How long does it take you to write a book?  
I can get the first draft written in about three months then I go back and spend another two months editing.  I also spend a few weeks doing research if the storyline includes technical or historical data. 
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? 
I like to have fun and play tricks on my characters.  Sometimes the reader knows what is going to happen before my hero or heroine.  My chapters usually end with cliffhangers and I love to throw in unexpected twists. 
What do you think is the best way of publishing a book these days?   
More and more authors are turning away from traditional publishing.  I have quite a few rejection letters on my other books.  If self-publishing wasn’t the way to go, my book/s would most likely never see the light of day. I used Marie Force’s e-book formatting fairies.  Their services are top notch and I will use them for future books. 
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?  
Everywhere!  There are people and places that shout “write about me. I don’t go anywhere without a pad and pen!  I also take pictures on my cell phone when I see an interesting sign, building or location.
When did you write your first book?  
When my daughter was 12 years old, I went to Boston with the Girl Scouts and was surrounded by history.  In the bus on the way home, I started making notes for a historical romance novel.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?   
Cook and bake and work in my flower garden. My love of cooking and baking shows up in one of the characters in my stories. I post some of the recipes on my website. Michael, a character in my next book, “Maid to Order” is wheelchair bound and loves to bake.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?  
At times during story development, my characters take over and lead me in a direction I never planned - basically the characters like to take over and tell the story their way, not mine.
How many books have you written?  
Six- I say the first five were practice.
Which is your favorite?  
The one I just published   
Can you tell me and your readers something about your main characters? 
I create characters that the reader can relate to/with.  They’re not perfect with beautiful bodies, they make mistakes, their not afraid to say I’m sorry, they suffer all human emotions and love with all their heart.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? 

I recently got this message from a reader. (Julie is the main character in the book.)  OMG - What an awesome story!  Love  Love  Love this book.  I read a lot of romance and I don’t often find such relatable characters usually just Duchesses or weak little virgins.  Julie is my new BFF.  I’m desperate to hide from my kids to devour a few more pages!

What do you think makes a good story?
In my opinion, a good story line includes interesting and unusual characters that face a challenge and how they have to deal with it.  The ultimate goal is to find love and happiness.
What are your favorite book genres in writing and reading?
I love all genres, mystery, suspense, romantic suspense, contemporary, espionage and some young adult fiction
Why?  You certainly can’t get bored reading the same thing over and over again if you vary your reading genre.
Who are you favorite authors to read?  
Nora Roberts, J.D. Robb, J.T. Ellison, Allison Brennan, Cindy Gerard, Connie Shelton, Marie Force, Rick Riordan, Clive Cussler

Now A Little About Judy's New Book
Julie Keaton is an attractive widow raising two children on her own.  She’s content and proud of what she’s been able to provide for her children. She’s never accepted the circumstances behind her husband’s death.  Was it a tragic accident or was he killed because he knew too much.

Fate steps and changes her life in ways she never imagined when Julie’s sister asks her for a last minute favor. Mardi owns a party specialty and catering business.  Her neighbor is having a birthday party for her 85 year old father.  Julie is to pop out of a birthday cake, do a little bump and grind and faux strip tease.  It’s an easy $200.00 for a half hour’s work.

Julie’s favor turns into a nightmare when the banquet staff delivers the cake to the wrong party.  The birthday boy is no geriatric senior citizen, but a virile, handsome male no older than 35.

Scott Landis was losing interest in his surprise birthday party.  His boredom is cut short when his special birthday gift arrives in the form of a sexy blond stripper.  It had been a long time since he felt this instant attraction to a woman, especially a female who makes her living entertaining men.  When he gets hit in the face with a lacy red garter he decides its time to have a little fun and wonders how much she would charge to celebrate his birthday in a more private setting.

Does she have your attention?  Grab a copy of Elusive Obsession

Where To Find Judy:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Very Special Thank You to Veteran's Everywhere

Monday is Veteran's Day in the United States.  It is a day dedicated to the men and women who have served our country.  Thank you to each and every single one of you.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Elephant Walk and New Release: All For A Blast of Hot Air by R.Ann Siracusa

Elephants—The noblest of pachyderms. The largest land mammal on earth. We've all seen them in zoos and perhaps at the circus, but up close and personal, they are really big.
I draw inspiration for my novels from my world travels. Because I never know what information I'm going to need in the next book, I've learned to pay attention to the kinds of details that can't be researched. When I travel, I look for unique locations, attitudes, and customs that result in a story that couldn't happen anywhere else and be the same story.
And I take advantage of new experiences, which include eating strange foods and riding elephants.
In 2008, I traveled to Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, and Namibia. There, we not only observed and photographed elephants in the wild...we rode them. Unfortunately, this adventure didn't have a place in my latest release, All For A Blast Of Hot Air, which is set in Africa.

That's me with my critique partner Shirley and Donald (the keeper), riding Tatu. In such close quarters Donald smelled like elephant.

Getting on the elephant this was hazardous. When the elephant stood, the passengers tipped back and nearly fell off. The rest of us made the smart choice and climbed steps to a wooden platform more or less level with the elephant's back. Still, the animals are so big that it wasn't easy getting into the saddle.

The elephants we rode are part of a program which rescues "homeless" elephants. Usually, these are babies that have lost their mothers or sick elephants left behind by the herd. After they are brought back to health and when old enough, they provide tourists with a half-hour to forty five minute thrill. These elephants are not released back into the wild.
According to the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the African elephant is endangered due to poaching and loss of range through deforestation. In 1970 there were 1.3 million elephants in Africa. In 2007, the census was 470,000 to 690,000.
In Nairobi National Park (Kenya), the Orphan's Project rescues orphaned calves from all over Africa and nurtures them to adulthood. They have saved more than 150 calves which would otherwise have perished. When the rescued elephants are ready, they are released to live free in the Tsavo East National Park. Elephants reintegrate into the wild fairly easily, and it is up to the elephant itself when it is ready to make the break. Elephants live, under normal circumstances to about seventy to eighty years, and make the choice to go into the wild by ten years.
This is an super interesting project. Check it out at:
Follow me on my links. I'd love to hear from you.

Book 5 in the romantic suspense series, Tour Director Extraordinaire
By R. Ann Siracusa

A secret pre-nuptial honeymoon, a hot air balloon safari, and a plot to kill the US president all come together at a Vatican wedding.

I'm Harriet Ruby, tour director extraordinaire. Finally, I'm tying the knot with Will Talbot, my favorite spy and the love of my life, despite my nagging concerns about his dangerous profession. 
He could get killed! 
I don't want my children to grow up with an absentee father...or a dead one, but Will's work is his calling. I can't ask him to give it up. When he holds me in his arms, I have no doubt he'll find a way to make everything right. 
To avoid the huge Italian wedding my mother is planning in California, I jump at an offer to get married in the Vatican, only to learn my whole tribe is making the trip to Rome for the ceremony. Darn. Now, I'm stuck planning a big wedding in two months without help. I freak out totally when my boss cancels my vacation time scheduled for the honeymoon. 
At Will's suggestion, we get married at city hall, hire a wedding planner, and then take off on our honeymoon before the church ceremony. The first leg of our trip is a hot air balloon safari in Africa—well, it sounded like fun at the time—but afterward, we'll have two quiet, relaxing weeks totally alone. 
When a member of our tour is kidnapped, I learn Will accepted an assignment from the US government to keep the kidnap victim under surveillance—after he'd promised me his full attention. All my doubts about the marriage raise their ugly heads. 
Have I jumped the gun? Sure, we love each other, but is that enough to make this marriage work? 
It won't matter if we don't get out alive.

Later, sated and limp with contentment, we dozed. I awoke to him nibbling at my ear. 
"Hmm. Is it morning yet?" I eased away, stretched long and hard, then curled against him again. "Will..." 
I hesitated so long he pulled back and turned me so he could peer into my eyes, holding me in place so I couldn't escape. 
His voice conveyed concern. "What's the matter?" 
"Mmm, nothing. I was wondering if... Is this going to change when we get married?" 
Will stiffened and gazed into my eyes with an unreadable nuance of expression. "If you're asking if I'm going to whip out a roll of duct tape, run a line down the center of the bed, and put my Kevlar vest and a can of Mace between us, the answer is definitely not." 
I grimaced. "Mace would be risky." 
He laughed with amusement and some other undefined emotion that made me fidget in place. He wasn't done with me. "With your track record, we'd better forget the Mace. But if you mean this..."
Cupping my breast, he took the swollen nipple into his mouth, pinching lightly and pulling, sending bolts of sexual desire to my core, flushing my body with heat, then trailed hot kissed down my quivering abdomen and between my legs. My body arched, and, in a heartbeat, I flew from unprepared to orgasm to spinning in space among the stars. 
He gave me time to come back to earth and relax, utterly contented, and then said, "If you mean that—yes, it's going to change." 
My heart seized, then slammed against my rib cage. I pushed him away and sat up. "What do you mean, it's going to change?" Confused and alarmed, I grasped his shoulders and shook him. 
Gently clamping his strong hands around my wrists, he pulled me back down onto his chest, our faces inches apart. Our gazes locked in the dim early morning dawn seeping through the slats of the veneziani shutters. "As I understood it, you were asking me if our sexual relationship would change when we get married. I answered you." 
"But I don't want it to change!" 
"Get a grip, Tiger. You know everything changes." 
I sniffed and held back the tears burning behind my eyes. "M-maybe we... shouldn't g-get married." 
Sucking in a deep breath of frustration, he rolled me under him, nudging my legs apart and settling his weight in the V of my thighs, his gaze boring into me. 
"Jesus, Harriet. I didn't mean that. Think! Do you remember how our relationship was when we first met in Morocco, three years ago? Do you want us to go back to how we were then?" 
"Yes, I remember. It was good—really good—but I...I like things the way they are now." His erection pressed against me. Oh, yeah. I definitely like things the way things are now. 
"We've both changed, Tiger. Our relationship has changed...for the better, but it's not the same. We're at a different time and place in our lives. We'll never be back there, and we'll never be back here again, either." 
My lower lip trembled with trepidation and disappointment. "You're scaring me, Will. Promise me everything will stay the way it is now." Even as I pouted and sniffed like a child, I regretted my foolish statement. Of course, there was no way to stop life from evolving, no going back. I clamped my teeth on my lower lip to stop the quivering. 
His face softened into a tender expression, a faint smile tweaking the corners of his luscious lips. He shook his head. "Can't. But I can promise you this. As long as I live, I will never love you less than I love you now." 
Music to my ears, a silken caress to my fluttering heart. "You are so..." The word sweet came to mind, but he didn't like being called that. "Loveable." I arched my body and brushed my lips across his with feather lightness, then relaxed beneath him. 
With his weight on one elbow, he pushed strands of my undisciplined hair off my face and hooked one behind my ear. 
"I mean it." His pause made my heart constrict, as though his next words would be momentous. "But there are a few things I'd like to see change in the near future."
Meet The Author

R. Ann Siracusa is a California girl who earned her Bachelor of Architecture degree from UC Berkeley, then went immediately to Rome, Italy. On her first day there, she met an Italian policeman at the Fountain of Love, and the rest is history. Instead of a degree from the University of Rome, she got a husband, and they've been married going on fifty years. In Rome, she worked for as an architect and planner for a land development company for several years until she and her husband moved to the US.