I’m getting ready to go to my high school reunion this weekend. Let’s just say my graduation was a long time ago, and leave at that. The coming event has me going through old photos and ploughing through the cobwebs of my mind to recover memories of a time, which went way too fast some days, and oh so slow on others. Especially, waiting for the bell to ring in one of my least favorite classes, Physiology.
I loved high school. From the football games, to friends, and yes, even some of my classes, I enjoyed it all. I think that’s one reason I love the fall to this day. The cooler weather brings back memories of a new school year, and going to football games in my friend’s old 53 dodge. (No, that’s not the year I graduated). It was built like a tank. Strangest thing happened when she turned the corner, the car horn would randomly honk, and the passenger door would fly open. We got so the person closest to the handle would hold the door closed and the next person would hold on to her. Safety didn’t seem to be uppermost in our minds. We couldn’t do anything about the horn. but laugh, and wave at the other cars we passed as we turned.
Those years are a bit of a blur. They moved quickly. When I ask myself where did the years go, all I can say is, I was busy living them. Beauty School, state boards, and Bible College, marriage, along with children filled up many years. Laundry, mounds of laundry, and meals for my eating machines were part of the hectic years of raising three boys, along with going to every game imaginable. Priceless, crazy, busy, but filled with happy memories. More time slipped by as I taught women’s classes, worked outside the home, and took writing classes.
I am the author of eight books and counting. I never saw it coming, although I dreamed about writing someday. I am somewhere to be found in every book that I’ve written. I’ll never tell where. Jessie Reynolds might be my alter ego, at least in my dreams.
It’s true life is short, and time moves swiftly, but this small trip down memory lane has reminded me that I’ve really had a wonderful life.
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2YwYrMO
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2Ee3071
Apple iBooks: https://apple.co/2Ecj8pm
“I didn’t realize you two had moved into the ‘in sickness’ part of your vows.” A childhood friend wrote to me recently. And it was true. As I read her words, I was sitting in a hospital room with my husband. A routine physical revealed an anomaly in his EKG, some further testing, and…BOOM!…the Friday of Memorial Day weekend we were told he needed open heart surgery, and BTW, we’re admitting you and keeping you in the hospital until it can be done on Tuesday. A week earlier, we were doing what all good Baltimoreans were doing, sipping Black-Eyed Susan cocktails and watching the Preakness Stakes. To say it was a shock, would be a dramatic understatement. Fortunately, his surgery was a success, and he is now home with me for the long recuperation.But it made me think, as a romance writer, I end my stories on a high note. After all, one of the reasons I write and read romance is for the happy-ever-after endings. Life is a winding road, however, and love stories inevitably end up this way––one partner supporting the other, while facing a health crisis. And you know what? There’s a romance to that moment too. The depth of my love for my husband hit me like a sledgehammer, the moment they called from the OR to update me that he had been taken off the machines, and his heart was beating on its own. I cried. With relief. With love. We might not be as young as we once were, but he’s still my own personal romance hero, and I hope my characters someday share the kind of love Leo and I do.”
Author Bio:My career has been a winding road. I worked in the business world for years, got my MLS and worked in a school library, and am now living my dream as an author. I love to read and write contemporary and fantasy romance. I live in Maryland, with my husband, who is my real-life romance hero. We both enjoy traveling to visit our far-flung family and friends, and spending time on the beach with an umbrella drink and a good book. Blurb: Stephanie Williams left skid marks on the road out of Willow Springs, Vermont after she finished high school. She didn’t return until her company sent her to evaluate the town for a massive development project. Back then she thought the town was way too small and too cold. Now the cold isn’t as much of an issue since she’s reconnected with her childhood friend, Donald Flanagan. Stephanie doesn’t remember his eyes being quite so green, or his body quite so built. He’s smart and funny as he ever was, and a forest-fire sized attraction burns between them. Donald never understood his old friend’s driving need to leave Willow Springs. He loves everything about it. When he learns the truth about Stephanie’s project, and how it will turn his hometown into a theme-park version of itself, will it extinguish the flame that has sparked between them? Excerpt: It was much darker on this side of the building, without the bright, neon lights around the entrance, and even though they could hear the muffled music through the wall, it felt as though they were all alone in the world. Donald stopped and turned to face her, which placed her between him and the building. He cupped her face in his hands, and Stephanie marveled that she’d never noticed how big his hands were before. He leaned down a little and studied her face. His eyes seemed to be searching for a clue as to what she wanted. There were complications aplenty––putting their lifelong friendship at risk, and her work here in town, which Donald still didn’t know the extent of, being two major hurdles, but Stephanie knew what she wanted right now. She knew it from the bottom of her toes to the top of her head, with a certainty she’d never experienced before. Her blood pounded in her veins, and she felt a little breathless with excitement about the step they were about to take. “Hurry up and kiss me, Flanagan, before I spontaneously combust.” One side of the mouth she longed to be kissing quirked up in a sexy half-grin. “There’s no turning back if we take this step, Williams. Are you sure?”
I’m happy to introduce you to Kari Nichols an author friend of mine. I first met Kari on twitter a few years ago. I followed her adventure as she and her husband moved to France. I’ve watched their growing photography business and all the amazing wedding photos they’ve taken. I’ve visited many places vicariously through them. I’m happy to say she is still writing. I’ll let Kari tell you in her own words what she’s been up to.
I’m so happy to have just completed my first trilogy, The Plagued Trilogy. The story is about a family of immortals who are international assassins. The series begins by following Mattia, a grandson of the first immortal. The second book follows his father, Thomas. And the final book follows Priest, the original immortal. The most interesting part of the series is that the present-day story continues through all three books, but the historical flashbacks go further back in time with each story. Each book reveals more about how the family became immortal in the first place, so it’s really fun to get a little piece at a time as you read. If you’re a fan of romance, history, or contemporary fiction with a supernatural twist, you’ll definitely enjoy The Plagued Trilogy!
Now that I’ve finished my first series, I’ve begun world-building a massive epic fantasy series. I’m working on the map, history of the kingdoms, history of the gods, and character bios at present. But I’ll hopefully start writing soon! I’m also writing a fun, light, new adult romance in a university setting. And I’m working on a historical drama set in Alsace, France (where I currently live) during World War 2. The history of the war in this region is horribly sad and difficult, so I’m absolutely fascinated by the idea of writing a story set here during that era. It’s going to take a lot of research to make sure I honor the people who lived here during that time, but I’m absolutely willing to put in the work to tell the region’s story. That’s if for now, but I have a few more stories just swirling around my mind, waiting their turn to make it onto paper!
Thank you so much for letting me tell everyone about these stories! It means so much to me to have a connection with such a delightful author like you, Iona! Thank you!
My pleasure, Kari. You can check out her books by following the links below.
It happened again in Colorado, a parent’s worse nightmare. News filled the airwaves of another school shooting. I watched, the now familiar scenes of, frantic parents racing in fear to find their children. Kids who may have made it out alive in body, but will forever be impacted by the senseless event. The arguments about gun control and gun rights will rear its head for a moment, but in the end it will all be reduced to talking points, and parents will be left with the task of somehow easing the fears of their children.
My daughter-in-law shared a conversation she had with my granddaughter. It was heartbreaking to me. “Fiona couldn’t fall asleep tonight because she was scared someone was going to shoot her. I told her, “No one is going to shoot you! I am right here!” Only to have her reply, “that makes it worse. Then you would just die protecting me.” So this is parenting in the 21st century.
I can still remember the moment when I heard about the children at Sandy Hook, and the people at the concert in Las Vegas. I view going to the movie theater differently since the theater shooting in our state. I’ve had to ask myself what does this say about us as a society that we can see these horrific events, shake it off, and go about life as though we haven’t been diminished by it in some way; safe in our thinking and not challenged beyond our own belief. Not realizing that every time we allow the horror of it to be reduced to political spin, and more polarization we lose a little more of what it means to be human. We call the shooter, crazy or evil and wipe our hands, pushing the memory far into the recesses of our mind until the next time.
I’ve always thought we were better than this. I have friends, good people on both sides of the aisle. Being a Democrat doesn’t make someone evil, or being a Republican doesn’t make someone good or vice a versa. Love doesn’t belong to a political party. To me that’s where it starts.
I’m not advocating anything, only venting maybe, as I’ve had to take a hard look at myself. If I say I believe in life, it should be all life from the birth to the grave. The idea of treating others the way I want to be treated might help too. In the end I believe I must love the next generation, more than I love my own rights. I can’t say I’m for life and separate children from the parents at the border. Or consider another person as less than who I am. I can’t speak about life if I watch children die in their school where they are going to learn and say nothing. I can’t say I’m for life if I turn my back on those who are hungry, cold or sick. Our children are watching us and learn hate by the example we give them.
I remember the words from the Bible “a little child shall lead them.” I feel I’ve seen what that means and the price is way too high. Eighteen year old Kendrick Castillo, ready to graduate from high school tomorrow, died Tuesday when he rushed the gunman. He was shot saving others in his class. I’ll let that sink in for a minute.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, my heart screams. Hate has had its way for too long. Maybe to honor the memories of all the kids who have died in their schools we should remember we are humankind and be both human and kind.
Finding a Way Forward is the latest of the Blue Cove Mystery Series and has quickly become my favorite. I hope you will like it as much as I do.
Here’s a small taste of Finding a Way Forward.
“A flash of lightning lit up the living room with its brightness, followed by a clash of thunder that reverberated off the walls around her. The reflection danced eerily across the cove. She shielded her eyes, looking away for a few seconds. The air crackled with suspense. Jessie stared out the window, not wanting to miss…what? Motionless, she was spellbound, gazing into the heavens as the flashes of light and the darkness suddenly took on forms. With their swords drawn and gleaming shields in front of them, beings of bright light zipped in and out of the clouds. And then she saw him, a dark, terrifying dragon-like creature rising out of the dark waters and rushing toward the sky, warring with the creatures of light in the night sky. “
Book seven in the Blue Cove series was contracted, and is now on its way through the publishing process. I love this story. I say that every time I write a new one. Still, there’s something special to me about the book Finding a Way Forward. I enjoy my characters Jessie and Matt. They’ve been a part of my thinking for the past six years. I’m never sure when I start a book how it will end. Matt and Jessie seem to write each chapter themselves and I’m only along for the ride. There conversation has grown right along with their strength as characters. I could never have imagined when I started writing that I would have seven published books in five years. My writing career began later in life, and I’m grateful for the editors I’ve had at The Wild Rose Press who have worked hard at helping me grow into the best author I can be. (There’s still a long ways to go.) Also I’m thankful for Mary Rosenblum my mentor and friend who encouraged me to move forward through my self-doubt. She passed away this past year, and this book is dedicated to her. This is the first book she didn’t read or give her input on and she is sorely missed. I will always be grateful to her and to you my readers. This has been a wonderful chapter in my life that was born in the midst of some tough times for me. Below is the cover and the cover blurb. I’m not done yet, book 8 is on its way to being finished.
“When a ghost decides it’s high-time for her murder to be solved, she chooses Jessie Reynolds to solve the cold case. Armed with only the girl’s name, Jessie goes in search of information and is stunned to find a link connecting the dead girl to Matt Parker. Is it possible the man Jessie cares about had something to do with the crime? As the case unfolds, Matt and Jessie have all they can handle dealing with two possibly connected murders, a menacing man from Jessie’s past, and the knowledge of a porn ring at the local high school that could take down several prominent citizens of Blue Cove. Racked with questions and doubts about their relationship, Jessie will have to work with Matt to find a way to bury the past and build a bridge to the future.”
Author Judith Sterling is my guest. Her second book in her young adult paranormal series is being released on December 19. I love reading her stories about her family and I’m happy to have her share one with us. At a time when kindness is sometimes a rare and precious commodity I enjoy reading stories about love and in it’s triumphs in real peoples’ lives. As you know I truly believe that in the end Love Always Wins! I know you’ll enjoy Judith’s story and blurb for her books.
Christmas, for me, is all about family. My husband and I don’t buy gifts for each other. Any extra money goes toward presents—some tangible, some experiential—for our 14-year-old identical twin boys. It’s not a sacrifice; it’s a joy, and one we wouldn’t trade for the world.
It might not be a popular notion, but our family actually gets along. Every Saturday night is “family movie night,” and we take as many day-trips to cool locations—particularly historic ones—as possible. We love spending time together.
Don’t get me wrong. We have our disagreements. Heck, our boys can argue up a storm! But they’re also best friends and support each other no matter what. As a family, we express our love for each other before we leave the house in the morning and again at bedtime. In fact, the last thing we hear from our boys each night is, “Good night. Love you. You’re the best mom and dad in the world.”
Now, my husband and I know that last statement is false. We make mistakes all the time, and ever since we brought the boys home from the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), we’ve been winging it, unsure of ourselves and questioning choices big and small. But one thing we’ve done right: those boys know every single day how much we love them.
In my Guardians of Erin young adult paranormal fantasy series, my main character and her family have a similar bond. People might criticize that as unrealistic or a throwback to The Brady Bunch. They might say readers won’t relate to it. But I write what I know, and with all the strife and dysfunction in the world, it’s important to remind people that familial harmony does exist. Not every moment, but often enough to act as a strong, near-magical balm which can soothe our sorrows and brighten even our darkest days. If I can share that spirit of love through my books, then I’ve done something worthwhile. For all I know, it’s the one gift my readers need most.
Blurb for The Cauldron Stirred (Guardians of Erin, Book One) – It is important to read this book. Judith will be giving a free e-book copy to the first few people who leave a comment on this blog.
Ashling Donoghue never dreamed moving to Ireland would rock her perception of reality and plunge her into a mystery that brings legend to life.
At seventeen, she’s never had a boyfriend, but she feels an immediate connection to Aengus Breasal, the son of the wealthy Irishman who’s invited her family to stay at his Killarney estate. For the first time in her life, a guy she likes seems attracted to her.
But Aengus is secretive, with good reason. He and his family are the Tuatha Dé Danann, ageless, mythical guardians adept at shifting between this reality and the magical dimension known as the Otherworld. Evil forces from that world threaten the Breasals, the Donoghues, and all of Ireland. Ashling must open her heart, face her fears, and embrace a destiny greater than she could ever have imagined.
Blurb for The Stone Awakened (Guardians of Erin, Book Two) – the one releasing on 12/19:
Since moving to Ireland, Ashling Donoghue has tackled one challenge after another. Now the mystery of her parents’ disappearance seems unsolvable. Are they dead or only missing? No one—not even the godlike Breasals—has a clue. Hope and fear war inside her, but she’s determined to find answers and stay strong for her siblings. Even as she hones newfound powers, her banshee-in-training sister Deirdre needs her support.
Ashling could use a little help herself. She’s struggling to navigate her first romance, and while Aengus Breasal stirs her body, mind, and soul, his nemesis Lorcan does too. Both men harbor secrets about her past life as Caer. One has ties to Aoife, the scheming wind demon whose influence is on the rise.
As the Stone of Destiny awakens, so does the conflict within.
Excerpt from The Stone Awakened:
Thunder shook the night as the Dullahan’s black stallion reared beneath him on the sweeping lawn below. The horseman thrust his severed head toward the sky and called out the names of those he hunted.
“Dylan Donoghue! Maeve Donoghue!”
Powerless to stop him, I watched from the bedroom window. The glass panes infused my palms with the chill of death itself. Out of sight, my parents screamed, then fell silent. The sound of laughter followed.
Exultant. Spiteful. Malignant.
Aoife! The wind demon whose foul plot shattered my family with a single blow.
Hate and despair welled inside me. “No!”
“Ashling, wake up!” My sister shook me awake.
She switched on the lamp between our beds, and I scanned the room. The same sash windows as in the dream. The same luxurious décor in shades of periwinkle, white, and gray. Even my slippers beside the bed were the same. But the night was quiet, and there was no immediate danger.
Deirdre tucked her long, blonde hair behind her ears and gave me a knowing look. “Another nightmare about the Dullahan?”
Nodding, I wiped the sweat from my brow. “And Aoife.”
“Sounds almost as bad as my dream the night he took Mom and Dad.”
“We don’t know he took them.”
“We don’t know he didn’t.”
“They’re not dead!” Dread clutched my heart, and I pushed out a long breath to calm myself. “They can’t be.”
Judith Sterling’s love of history and passion for the paranormal infuse everything she writes. Flight of the Raven, Soul of the Wolf, and Shadow of the Swan are part of her medieval romance series, The Novels of Ravenwood. The Cauldron Stirred and The Stone Awakened are part of her young adult paranormal series, Guardians of Erin. Written under Judith Marshall, her nonfiction books—My Conversations with Angels and Past Lives, Present Stories—have been translated into multiple languages. She has an MA in linguistics and a BA in history, with a minor in British Studies. Born in that sauna called Florida, she craved cooler climes, and once the travel bug bit, she lived in England, Scotland, Sweden, Wisconsin, Virginia, and on the island of Nantucket. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and their identical twin sons.
Website – https://judithmarshallauthor.com/
The Wild Rose Press – https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/2212_judith-sterling
The Wild Rose Press https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/6385-the-stone-awakened.html
We’ve been home and off the road for a few weeks. I had to be back to participate in two book signings, but I can’t leave my travel tales behind without sharing a few stories from the final weeks of our trip. When we left Benson, we traveled to Phoenix. We had dinner with our good friends Mark and Anne Bork. Rob and I hadn’t been to Phoenix, in many years and we were surprised by how the city had grown, I’ve always loved Arizona’s beautiful sunsets, the cactus landscapes, and the warmth in the middle of October. Although, the days we were there were cooler than normal. Our final goal was to make it to California to surprise a friend at his art show.
On our way to the coast we spent the night in Quartzsite Arizona, the RV boondocking capital of the world. It was there that I learned an important lesson about keys. We were ready to leave after packing up. Rob had the keys in the ignition, the motor was running, and he had to get out to check on why the car was dragging instead of the wheels turning as normal. He had forgotten to run the car through a sequence that he had to do each time before we towed. When he left the motor home he shut the door, and the lock moved down. Of course, the door locked. Can I just say here in my defense, up to this point I had always had the spare keys on me. The moment we needed them the most, the spare set were in my purse in the RV.
I won’t tell you Rob’s reaction, but believe it or not, I didn’t panic. Even when Rob reminded me the ladder that was in my plan to retrieve the keys, was locked in the storage area of the RV. Being the social person that I am, I went to the two RVs closet to us and asked if they had a ladder. I found one, we set it up, and I promptly climbed up to the very top, (I’m short) and through the window taking the keys out of the ignition. Rob wished he had, had a camera and I was happy he didn’t have one. Thankfully, the driver’s side window was unlocked and it remained that way for the rest of the trip. The extra keys were also in my pocket every time I walked out of the RV.
We made it to California, to the art show, and to the ocean, which was great. One thing we weren’t expecting to do, but were able to thanks to Rick Kess and Natalie Acosta was to go to Disneyland for the day. We survived our first major road trip and learned some things to boot. I’m ready to do it again.
Here is a tiny taste of The Final Flashpoint.
“Pushing her glasses on top of her head, she walked closer to the water’s edge. Warm, humid air swirled around her in the wind. Shivers danced down one arm and then the other. The water seemed fixed on thrusting something caught in its grasp closer to the shoreline. Driftwood perhaps. It was getting closer, whatever it was. And then she saw someone sitting alone on the rock jutting out into the water as the incoming tide inched closer to him. “Are you all right?” she asked, taking an unguarded step toward him. He lifted his head, stared out to sea, and then his eyes locked on her face. It was happening again! In one intense moment, she knew it was this man’s body inching closer to land. Frozen in place, she shielded her eyes from the sun’s glare and together they watched the waves move his body, pushing him, tumbling ever closer until the moment the ocean spit him ashore near her feet.”
Life on the road has a few perks and downsides. We have learned, in crash course style, many of the downsides in a few short weeks. For example, it’s important to remember certain steps like always making sure you don’t leave the water open in a bathroom sink with the stopper in it when you hook up to water or you might have a mini-flood. (Rob) Thankfully we noticed it quickly and I went into action with anything handy to mop up the water. One of my keener observations is when it’s really windy outside it’s a lot like being in a boat out at sea, and when it rains several days in a row there aren’t many places you can escape to, but we have fared well so far.No seasickness and no major wars. I’ve managed to maintain my exercise routine daily, can I pat myself on the back and say yay here before I move on?
On the perk side of things, is seeing new places and meeting with some old friends and new ones alike along the way. I’ve had a great temporary office to work at and the scenery from the window has made me dub my space a room with a view.
Benson, Arizona was one of my favorite places so far. I got in touch with my inner nature lover in this small out of the way place. I saw roadrunners scurry along the road every morning and a large red tail hawk come down in front of my eyes when he spied his breakfast running on the ground. Thankfully it wasn’t one of the cute roadrunners. Every morning I jumped on my tramp to the sun rising over the mountains, it was breathtaking.
In the park where we stayed, we went to happy hour a couple of times and a jam session. We also play tourist for the day at the nearby town of Tombstone. I love history and I found myself thinking of a scene for a new book. I think traveling can be good to inspire the writer in me. I believe I could learn to love the journey as much as the destination, especially when we have no destination in mind and a day without minor catastrophes of our own making.
Yesterday was a travel day, but that is a story for another day. I leave you with pictures from Benson and Tombstone.