Interview and a Free Book: Author Barri Bryan

A gift for all readers

1. How long have you known you were an author?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be an author. The desire was always there. I began writing poetry when I was ten years old. When I was in middle school, I wrote a story that was published in the school newspaper. That’s when I knew I wanted to be an author. When my first book was published in 1998, I knew I had reached my goal.

2. What is your favorite place to write? What is going on around you? Music? Family? Pets? What do you see when you aren’t looking at the computer screen?

My favorite place to write is what I affectionately call my office. It’s a small bedroom that holds my desk, my computer, three bookshelves, two file cabinets, an office chair, a rocking chair, three small tables, a chest of drawers, and my printer. The closet is stuffed with paper, books, miscellaneous writing supplies, and other paraphernalia. When we moved into this house, I declared it off limits to anyone who didn’t have an invitation to visit. That was six years ago, before I realized nobody wanted to come in and listen to me say, “Don’t move any papers, don’t touch my computer, don’t shift my books around…” 

I like the seclusion and solitude of my little hide-away. I like music, but not when I’m working. It distracts me. I’m oblivious to what is going on outside my closed door. When I glance from my computer screen, I look through a window at the brick wall of my neighbor’s house.  I see, in my mind, visions and actions of what I will write next. When I ‘snap out of it’, I see a room that holds my little world of organized chaos. 

3. How do you develop your plots and stories? Seat of the pants? Or planning? Or both? 

I am a plotter. Before I begin to work on a novel, I make an outline for the book and character sketches for my hero and heroine. If the book is a historical, I do cursory research. Even with all that planning, I’ve been known to veer off course and take off in the opposite direction.

 4. Who is your favorite character in the latest  book and what will we like about him/her? Is there anything about this character that we might not like?

My favorite character in Forbidden is the villain. At the onset of the story he appears to be a grieving, kindly old southern gentleman. The man he appears to be solicits understanding, and invites friendship. By the end of the story, he is revealed as a ruthless, conniving, madman. By then, no doubt you will hate him. Maybe I like him because it was a challenge for me to create and develop such a devious, dastardly character.

5. Do you have any encouragement for writers-in-waiting, who are not yet published?

 I can pass along the best advice I ever received about writing. It was from the teacher whose name I can’t recall. She was the instructor in an adult education class I took in 1999. She began her class by saying, “Be honest with yourself so you can be honest with your readers.” That was a strange opening statement for the teacher of a course titled: How to Write Fiction. She went on to explain that she wasn’t speaking of literal truths, but personal truths. “Writing fiction begins by discovering a unique way of seeing a personal truth. Your task then, is to use your skills as a writer to convey that personal view to your readers. Memorable, moving books are not written from a sense of anything but the writer’s deepest and most honest convictions.” 

Barri Bryan is a retired teacher and educator. She is also a prolific author who has written and published several romance novels, a number of volumes of prize-winning poetry, numerous essays, articles, and short stories, and one how-to curriculum for creative writing. Besides pursuing a writing career, she raises house plants, is an avid reader, an enthusiastic knitter, crocheter and quilter, a devoted country music fan, and a passionate Texas history buff.

Visit her website at http://www.barribryan.com/ and her Author Page at Desert Breeze Publishing.

Barri’s free gift to you, above, is the sequel to Bridget’s Secret

A Girl and Her Hero

By Delores Goodrick Beggs

Caleb Cameron appeared in the New Mexico town of Mescal Flats shortly after  Jasper Greon did.  The difference between the men was Jasper liked to dress flashy and often acted a bit rascally when he proposed what he called larks – dubious adventures he dreamed up, bordering on excitement with a touch of danger.

Tennyson Wells found it heady being part of Jasper’s select little group, perhaps a tad too much so. When steady, constant Caleb came to town shortly after Jasper did, Tennyson asked him to complete their little group whenever Jasper proposed a new lark. She wanted to help people who needed assistance, but she sensed some of Jasper’s larks, which he thought of as fun, turned into pranks instead of frolics. She came to depend on Caleb to champion her and keep her out of potential trouble.

Tennyson reminds me at times of my own childhood.  I have a wonderful older brother, my personal hero. I loved to tag after him when I was small, never once giving thought to what his friends, all boys, might think of a little girl ensconcing herself in their group, not just a girl, but one with a hearing disability.

Whatever his friends might have said I’ll never know, but my brother knew; what I observed is from time to time he would ask me to stay back a ways, and some pummeling between boys would result once I moved a safe distance away. Sometimes he would walk me home and ask me to stay there, and a little later he’d return home disheveled, with his shirt tails hanging out, hair mussed, a bruised face, red dripping from a split lip.

 

I knew the wonderful, safe, feeling of having a champion at my side…so I empathize with my heroine Tennyson’s appreciation of Caleb accompanying them, times she agreed to participate in one of Jasper’s larks.

           But how did taciturn Caleb, who never spoke about himself, feel about this situation, protecting a lovely young woman and even removing her from participation when he sensed a planned lark was too shady? How did he feel about Tennyson herself? He never gave any indication of his own feelings until Tennyson’s older sister Mauranie asked him one day:

Excerpt:

“I do believe you care for her more than anyone knows.” Mauranie met his gaze with calm eyes. “Am I right?”

“Don’t take offense, Miss Mauranie, but I’ve not said anything to her.”

“You haven’t said anything yet?” Mauranie looked askance. “Caleb. Perhaps not speaking up for yourself is your problem. When she ran off with Jasper, who did she listen to about returning home? You. When Jasper crossed too far on the wild side, who influenced her to pull back and avoid trouble? You. Don’t sell yourself short, Caleb. Tennyson listens to you the way she doesn’t listen to anyone else. You do like her, don’t you?”

“Yeah,” he admitted. “I like her a lot, but she doesn’t seem to look at me special. I know I’m not exciting and all, like Jasper is. Sometimes I sort of feel like I’m a substitute lover, you know?”

“But don’t you see, Caleb? She doesn’t know. You haven’t told her how you feel. Caleb, tell her. Speak up for yourself.”

Available now  from Desert Breeze Publishing:  Place in the Heart Book Two: Substitute Lover By Delores Goodrick Beggs

You can also download today from Amazon.com, Barnes & Nobel, and other major e-book publishers

Also Available by Delores Goodrick Beggs: Place in the Heart Book One: Breaking Point and Charming Champion

 

With Family you’re never alone.

By Delores Goodrick Beggs

Lynette’s birthday photo is almost the same vintage so Delores let her share.

             Family – you have to love them. Nobody stands alone, however much they may think they do. My parents were special, just in helping me to live a normal life with a severe hearing problem, and more.

            Around the time of my seventh birthday, my mother started working too, to help make the family ends meet with four children.  Prior to that my folks, like the other parents on our Kansas City, Kansas block, held birthday parties for each of their children every year. When my birthday rolled around the year Mom began her job. They hadn’t said anything, but I assumed I was having a party as usual and invited my friends.

            On my birthday, my father arrived home from work soon after my party friends and I began a competition of dropping clothespins in an empty glass milk bottle.  I saw a strange look wash over his face when I told him we had gone ahead and started my birthday party, but he didn’t say anything, just stood around looking on while we played. When the winner of the game was declared, he dug into his pocket and produced a nickel for the prize. (a nickel was worth a lot back then, it would buy an ice cream bar.) My friends were both surprised and delighted at the unusual prizes of nickels given that day while we continued to play the usual birthday games.

          My mother arrived home from her job and my parents conferred.  My father went to the store and brought back some ice cream to serve. My party was the excited talk of my friends for days after.

            My wonderful parents never said a word to me about having invited my friends for that unplanned birthday party.  However, I did notice when my siblings birthdays rolled around, no more birthday parties were held, and so I asked my parents about a party the next year instead of inviting my friends, and was told times were really too tight that 1946 year for my family to hold birthday parties. It was then I realized I’d made an impetuous mistake the year before; but my parents never mentioned that party again.

             In my coming newest release, Substitute Lover, Tennyson Wells learns the hard way she’d made an impetuous mistake when she’d left home in defiance of her older sister Mauranie, who’d been supporting her on their ranch. Once she realized her mistake, she returned home.

 Excerpt:

“I came home.” She smiled at Mauranie through teary eyes.

“You are very welcome, dear. I never wanted you to leave.”

“Yes. Well. It’s all about decisions. Sometimes you have to change them.”

“I’m delighted you came back,” Mauranie spoke with a firm voice. “You’re my sister. Sisters should stick together, don’t you think? Come, let’s sit on the porch and celebrate.”

“Celebrate what?” Tennyson startled.

“Sisters.” Mauranie’s smile warmed, her voice firm. “You go on and make yourself comfortable, Tennyson. I’ll get coffee and cookies.”

 Place in the Heart Book Two: Substitute Lover, available from Desert Breeze Publishing. Also available from  Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other major e-book publishers

Available now from Desert Breeze Publishing or on Amazon:  Place in the Heart Book One: Breaking Point.

 

A Celebration of Life – New release deals with adaptive devices in the 1800s

By Delores Goodrick Beggs

In my upcoming December 21 release, Substitute Lover, a youth loses a leg rescuing the heroine, Tennyson Wells, who is inspired to start a mobility aids shop in the small, old, western town of Mescal Flats.

I have known two men who lost a leg, a friend and a distant relative, both losses from motorcycle accidents.  Both returned to full activity after a period of adjusting to an artificial limb; in fact I wouldn’t have known about the losses if I hadn’t known in the beginning, they compensated so well with their artificial limbs. But not everyone has the inner determination and resourcefulness to work at overcoming a physical loss.

It often takes an inspiring moment and deep desire to do something to push the action button.

While my hero and heroine (Substitute Lover) make it possible for the youth Theron to do anything he did before losing his leg by providing him with a hand-carved pegleg and a special stirrup on his saddle to hold it in place, he sits in his room focused upon the loss of his leg until one day he gets tired of awaiting assistance and decides to go visit his horse anyway, discovering freedom for himself and taking back his life again.

One of my mother’s favorite sayings was, “When life deals you a lemon, make lemonade.” Whenever she said that, which was often, she usually followed it up with, “There’s something better waiting down the road, but you have to keep on keeping on until you reach it.”

 My mother was a smart woman. She was right. It is all about determination, and celebrating life. When you want something enough, you find a way to get it.

 Excerpt:

“Caleb?” Tennyson followed him out.

“Yeah?” He leaned against a tree trunk and crossed his arms over his chest.

“He’s getting better now isn’t he?”

“Yes. I think he will want to try sitting up today.” Caleb pushed himself away from the tree trunk he’d leaned against, and turned to survey the small stand of trees nearby. He selected a sturdy sapling with a crook at the top, and broke it off near the bottom. He ran a hand over the straight trunk, clearing it of leaves and twigs. He held it out toward Tennyson. “Put it under your arm. Let me see how it fits.”

“A crutch?” She shot him a searching look, and then tried out the makeshift crutch as he’d asked. “I think it will do.”

“I hope so,” he said. He met her gaze and then looked away.

“Caleb, does he know about his leg?”

He sighed. “I don’t think he knows yet. We’ve kept the leg covered. He knows it hurts. He’s apt to guess when I take this in. If he doesn’t, then I’ll be telling him. When we go indoors, I want you to take Annie and go back outside for a bit.”

“But why?” Tennyson saw his mouth turn up in a wry grin at her question.

“I expect he’ll want to take a swing at me. I know I would in his place.”

Place in the Heart Book Two: Substitute Lover, coming December 21, 2012 at

Also available from  Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other major e-book publishers

Available now:  Place in the Heart Book One: Breaking Point or on Amazon.com Link:  http://goo.gl/DOo3E

New release – Historical fiction examines Markers in the 1850s, the Issuance of Invitations

by guest blogger Delores Goodrick Beggs

One important use of markers was to issue an invitation to men and youths, wanderers passing by isolated ranches and homesteads, seeking work and/or fortunes of their own. These men ran the gamut from honest fortune-seekers to dangerous outlaws, and yet when folks needed assistance, as they often did, they were willing to chance strangers coming to their door.

One of the connections to my family, I’ll call her Ellie, was placed in this position  when her siblings had left the isolated family homestead and her parents died, victims of one of the many disastrous diseases rampant in the area at that time.

Ellie had arrived in Southern Missouri as a child, with her family in a covered wagon. A wheel of the wagon hit a large rock while crossing a stream, throwing Ellie out of the wagon. She landed in the shallow water, striking her head on another rock, and was deaf after that. She also broke a foot, which healed distorted so she was unable to wear a regular shoe on the misshapen foot. She cut a slit in her shoes ever after to accommodate the healed bulge.

 When Ellie’s parents died, she wore herself tired to the bone trying to keep the homestead going and became desperate for help – she couldn’t manage her father’s farm by herself, and town was too far away to be practical to visit except when she needed supplies. So she put a marker on the front gate.

The markers used in those days to invite persons to come assist the farmer consisted of a strip of old fabric tied to a gatepost to indicate a farmer was looking for assistance. A man looking for a fresh start or a youth looking to strike out on his own knew he would find a welcome at that place, food and a spot to rest, perhaps even wages before he got restless and moved on again.  There was never any telling what kind of person might answer her marker. Ellie was lucky when a very nice gentleman showed up at her door asking for work.  He stayed, they fell in love and eventually got married and had children of their own.

But not all cases of markers ended up so happily.  In my coming December 21, 2012 release Substitute Lover:

“I’m forgetting you’re a town woman.” Jasper smiled again. “All we do is drive around and put one of these markers on gateposts. They’re signals that the folks that live there are looking for help, for workers.”

Just fasten them to gateposts?” It was hard to believe. “What happens next?”

“Oh, travelers pass by, see the marker. They stop up at the house and offer to do a bit of work, help the folks out, in exchange for a meal.”

It appealed to her. She didn’t see any harm in it. In fact, it seemed to her it would help folks like he said, in particular those who had difficulty doing the physical work, like Garrity, like Theron’s father. Even smaller places boasting just a cow or two, a few chickens, and a neat garden plot still involved a large amount of physical work.

“Come on, Tennyson. For old time’s sake. Let’s do this last lark together,” he wheedled.

She bit her lip in indecision, and then made up her mind. “All right. We will do this one last thing, but I warn you, Jasper.  After this, stay away from me.”

“If you say so.” He spread his hands wide and smiled again, making her wonder if he’d listened to her words at all. Jasper made arrangements to meet her later in the evening, and left at last, to her great relief. She turned away and hurried back to her store.

Home again at her store next day, the conversation with Jasper still bothered her, and she felt she should have just walked away from him when he first accosted her. Where had this wonderful insight been earlier when she needed it?

All of a sudden she felt uneasy.  Jasper had proposed a lark and she’d refused. She’d felt quite sure of herself when she’d said no, and then he’d instead proposed helping people. It had made it all different, didn’t it? Helping people? She’d said yes, and last night she’d gone out with him in the wagon to help people.

A wave of uncertain urgency swept through her. She had to seek out Caleb. Now.

Place in the Heart Book Two: Substitute Lover, coming December 21, 2012

DBP Breaking Point Link:     http://goo.gl/lH5NE

 Amazon.com Link:       http://goo.gl/DOo3E

About Delores Goodrick Beggs

Delores Goodrick Beggs is a prolific award-winning author in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, having started in high school when she would often awaken with a dream demanding to be captured on paper.

 She turned her notes into her first stories, often writing during short-lived Kansas thunderstorms that barely thinned the sweltering heat of Pony Ring Ranch where her father raised horses and ponies. She wrote her first collection of fiction on a mountaintop in California while watching her part-Appaloosa mare assert mischievous independence in the exercise corral.

Watch for her next novel: Place in the Heart Book Two: Substitute Lover, coming late December, 2012 from www.DesertBreezePublishing.com, also available from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and other major e-book publishers.

Stop by and visit her web site at http://www.goodrickbeggs.wordpress.com

And buy her books from Desert Breeze Publishing at her author page.

Christmas giveaway and reviews

The Return of Joy is featured today on the Long and Short Review site. Be sure to comment for a chance to win a free download of my book, as well as

see another vintage Christmas photo. And review the other posts – other authors are giving away for Christmas as well!  http://lasrguest.blogspot.com/2012/12/stuff-your-stocking-blogfest-lynette.html

Do you believe in Soul Mates? Last day to win a copy of Sara’s Promise!

 Were William and Annie brought together by fate, coincidence or by Sara keeping her promise?

William Grafton had the perfect life with his lovely wife, Sara, and two teenaged children. But one day his perfect forever was shattered when Sara died suddenly, leaving him alone to raise his children and wonder how he would ever get through life without his soul mate. Five years later, he finds himself looking into a familiar pair of blue-green eyes that remind him of Sara. The woman is the exact opposite of his late wife, yet he finds he is drawn to her. But after a few strange occurrences, he begins to wonder–are these just coincidences or has his Sara come back to him as she once promised in the form of this new woman?

Annie Paxton doesn’t believe in soul mates or fate. She had watched her father die of a broken heart after her mother passed away and has since cast away any fairy tale ideas of love. Then she meets the man who has been haunting her dreams and she begins to see love in a whole new light. But her dream man is still tied to his deceased wife, and Annie doesn’t know if he will ever be able to break away from his past. As strange occurrences unfold, Annie wonders if William could ever truly love her for herself and not for the traits that remind him of Sara.

 Excerpt:

 “It must have been hard after Sara died,” Annie said sympathetically. “Your life must have changed dramatically.”

“It was difficult. Sometimes it still is.” He hesitated a moment, unsure of continuing. He hadn’t spoken much about losing Sara to anyone, even after all these years. But Annie’s warm smile encouraged him to continue.

“You know, after she died, I was completely lost—literally. She did everything for our family, from the grocery shopping to the clothes shopping, paying the bills—everything. I didn’t know where to pick up the dry cleaning. I had no idea where she bought our prescription medicines. I didn’t even know the names of my kid’s teachers at school.” He sighed, his gaze far off in the distance. “In many ways, when I think of it, I used her. I just allowed her to take everything over so I’d have more time to do what interested me. I regret that now.”

Annie shook her head. “I never want to be anyone’s doormat,” she said without thinking, regretting the words as soon as they left her lips.

William looked up at her indignantly. “My wife was not a doormat,” he insisted, his eyes ablaze.

“I didn’t mean…” Annie tried to apologize for her thoughtless words, but the expression on his face changed abruptly to sadness, making her stop.

He looked at her with soulful eyes and sighed. “But we treated her like one,” he said softly.

 Buy Sara’s Promise on Amazon in Kindle, Paperback and on Barnes & Noble Nook

http://www.deannalynnsletten.com/p/saras-promise.html

 About Deanna Lynn Sletten:

 Deanna Lynn Sletten writes women’s fiction novels that go beyond the basic romance novel. Her stories dig deeply into the lives of the characters, giving the reader an in-depth look into their hearts and souls. Deanna has also written one middle-grade novel that takes you on the adventure of a lifetime.

 Deanna started her writing career in the early 1990s writing articles for parenting publications and local newspapers. Over time she transitioned to writing for blogs and websites and was a contributing writer for the women’s website, She Knows. In November 2011, she changed course and put all her energy into novel writing and hasn’t looked back since.

 Deanna is married and has two grown children. When not writing, she enjoys walking the wooded trails around her northern Minnesota home with her beautiful Australian Shepherd or relaxing in the boat on the lake in the summer.

 Connect with Deanna:

 Blog   http://www.deannalynnsletten.com

 Facebook    https://www.facebook.com/#!/DeannaLSletten

 Twitter     https://twitter.com/DeannaLSletten

 Goodreads   http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/555634.Deanna_Lynn_Sletten

 Amazon Author Page  http://www.amazon.com/Deanna-Lynn-Sletten/e/B00683SQYK/

Giveaway!  In celebration of Deanna’s new book release she is having a giveaway! Leave a comment on this site to have your name entered in the drawing for one of four prizes: Two $25 Amazon Gift Cards and 2 paperback copies of Sara’s Promise. Be sure to include your email address so we can contact you. You can enter at each site of the blog tour for more chances to win!

 

Rescue cats from Deanna Lynn Sletten

I Never Thought I’d Own Five Cats!

When I was growing up, I begged and begged to have a cat. My dad said he didn’t like cats so I was told I couldn’t have one. When I was about 13, though, a friend of my dad’s asked if we’d like a purebred Persian cat that a breeder didn’t want to keep because he wasn’t “show” quality. So, I finally did get my first cat – a beautiful black Persian I named Fonzie that lived for 17 years. After Fonzie died, I missed not having a cat, so I bought a beautiful white Ragdoll/ Himalayan cat that was the sweetest, cuddliest cat you could ever own. A few years later, as my daughter grew older, our family of cats grew and grew.

Our next cat was a rescue cat from our local humane society. My daughter wanted a cat that would belong to her only, so I finally relented and we adopted a black cat that she named Zip, after a Beanie Baby, but he ended up being called Zipper. Zipper is our hyper-active, talkative cat. I thought as he grew older he’d calm down, but he hasn’t yet. About four years later, I made the mistake of taking my daughter to visit the kittens at the humane society again and we ended up bringing home cat number three.Milohad a very different temperament – he is quiet and smart and cuddly. So, we were at three cats – my limit – and I thought that would be it. However, life likes to bring you surprises.

Not long after our white cat had died and we were down to two cats, it seemed to start raining cats at our household. My daughter’s boyfriend had left our house around midnight one night and was driving home on a country road when he saw what looked like a skunk in the middle of the road. Except that the skunk had four flashing eyes. He stopped his car only inches from hitting this animal and after looking for a few minutes, got out of the car to find two tiny kittens curled up together on the road. One was all black and the other was black and white. He called our house and told us what he’d found. Well, there really wasn’t much else to do except tell him to bring them back to the house. The little kittens couldn’t have been more then 5 weeks old and were starving. Obviously, someone had just dropped them off on this country road. Unfortunately, this happens quite often because people are irresponsible and they don’t want to pay to place the kittens at the shelter. Since we couldn’t find a home for the kittens, and I really didn’t want to split up the brothers after what they’d been through, I ended up keeping them. That’s how we acquired Jasper and Ozzie.

A year later my daughter and her boyfriend found yet another kitten on the staircase of their apartment building. This little guy wasn’t even old enough to be taken away from his mother, could barely walk and had to be hand fed. Of course, he came to me because I was the only one who stayed home all day and he had to be fed every 3-4 hours, just like a newborn baby. He became cat number five, and although we tried and tried to find a name that suited him, we never did and I ended up naming him Kitten. He’s full-grown now and still has small features, so the name actually fits him. (And I have to say, just like the baby in any family, he’s the cutest one of all and can’t do any wrong – but don’t tell my other cats that.)

Luckily for us, all the cats are male and they actually do get along well. Each one has his own personality, they all like attention and I can’t sit down anywhere in the house without at least one cat in my lap. Honestly, I never dreamed I’d own five cats at one time – but I’m used to it now. And no, if you find an abandoned cat, please do not drop him off at my doorstep. Even though I love all of my animals, five cats, one dog and a bird is all I can take.

Follow Deanna’s author blog at http://www.deannalynnsletten.com/ where a blog tour is going on. You can win an Amazon Gift card or her new book, Sara’s promise. Be sure to comment on the blogs you visit — including here on Dec. 17.

More FREE Christmas Love Stories

My publisher has even more free reads for your Christmas “me” time.  http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/StoreFront.bok or check them out below:

Joel Randolph was a set designer in summer stock when he met Emily Keeler, former Hollywood starlet — and her daughter, Max. Cast opposite her in a romantic comedy, and then summer friendship and acting as a father-figure for Max changed Joel, until he realized he wanted Emily and Max in his life permanently.

EXCERPT

A little body with an amazing mop of black curls squatted in the pool of light from the Green Room door, playing with one of the wooden tops that Gregori liked to carve during performances while waiting for his lighting cues. She looked up as Joel approached and opened her mouth as if she would say something, then shook her head. She stood up and held out her hand.

Bemused, Joel bent over. He had learned a long time ago that no matter how small the children, they hated when adults went down on one knee and emphasized how short they were. He shook her hand.

“Hello. I’m Joel. What’s your name?”

“I’m Max.”

“Max?” He grinned, sure he had heard her wrong.

“Max? What are you doing out here?” A little woman with pure white curls and a neon orange jogging suit paused in the doorway, leaning on her glossy black cane. “Honey, remember what Mommy told you? Don’t go running around strange places.” She took hold of Max’s hand to lead her back into the Green Room. “I’m sorry. We just got here, and she’s been riding for six hours and … well, you know children. If they can’t run around once every hour…” Her smile was full of mischief and life, and Joel found himself grinning back at her.

“But it’s not a strange place,” Max said, all seriousness. “It’s a theater. I know all about theaters.”

“You do, huh?” Joel gestured for them to precede him into the Green Room. “How’s that?”

“Max?” The sweet alto voice full of concern was more than familiar to Joel. He had just watched Sand and Storm two nights ago, on a rented videotape so grainy some of the scenes were lost in snow static. He didn’t mind – the static that came with too many viewings usually covered up Carlo Vincente’s face and cleared whenever Emily Keeler came on the screen. It never covered up her voice. As if it knew better than to interfere with her performance.

“Kurt Horner?” Emily said, coming forward and holding out a hand.

“Ah, no. Joel. Joel Randolph. Tech director. Kurt had to go to town for our annual conference with the police about traffic …” He held out his hand to shake, then the pieces clicked together in his head. Gloria had said “they” and “three.”

“I’m Emily Keeler, and this is my Aunt Maxine, and my daughter, Max.”

“I’m named for Aunt Maxi,” Max announced proudly.

“That makes sense.” Joel wiped his suddenly damp hands on the back of his jeans and looked around. “We should have your room ready for you soon. We call it the tower room. More than enough room for the three of you, and it gives you a great view of the ravine behind the theater. Let me give you a tour, show you where we eat, where the laundry facilities are, the bathroom, give you a rundown of how we run things here.”

Joel turned, gesturing for them to follow. It was a survival tactic he had learned long ago, when beautiful gray eyes and heart-shaped faces threatened to overwhelm him and tie his tongue into knots. The only solution was to do something, offer some service, and put himself into a position of giving instead of asking.

He had only taken two steps before Max scurried to catch up with him. She reached up for his hand and he gripped her little fingers without thinking. Later, looking back, Joel realized the moment he looked into those big dark eyes and that trusting little face, he had fallen in love.

Download the rest at http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-75/%3Ci%3EA-Tabor-Heights%2C-Ohio/Detail.bok

A Desert Breeze Publishing Free Read 

Companion piece to Anne’s WOUNDED HEROES series — beginning with Kill Shot

Hope Erickson, a Blackhawk pilot, and Nick Cunningham, an army ranger, renew their acquaintance on the battlefields of Iraq. Will they risk their hearts to one another or does fate have other plans in store for them?

Penned down under heavy fire, the sound of the Blackhawk chopper is one of the sweetest sounds a ranger will ever hear. Then to discover an attractive female at the stick has the sparks flying.

Hope Erickson, a Blackhawk pilot, and Nick Cunningham, an army ranger, renew their acquaintance on the battlefields of Iraq. He was a bully while she was the chubby girl with braces he and his friends picked on in school.

Hope has changed though, and Nick wants a chance to convince her so has he. Will they risk their hearts to one another or does fate have other plans in store for them?

EXCERPT

Nick changed out of his uniform and into the clean PT clothes he borrowed from another soldier. He hoped the accidental meeting would be worth the twenty bucks it cost him.

Hope was still in the weight room when he came out of the locker room. He considered his battle plan again. If she was still harboring ill feelings toward him he would have his work cut out for him.

“Hey, Cunningham, I thought you worked out in the mornings,” a fellow officer in his platoon hollered.

Hope glanced up from the weight bench midstride. They locked gazes. If she was surprised to see him, she didn’t show it. She did two more reps before straddling the bench.

Nick’s carefully thought out plan just went out the window. Without a clue as to what he was going to say, he walked toward her.

Lieutenant Garret, on the weight machine next to her, smiled at him. “Heard you got yourself in a bit of a jam today… bad Intel?”

“Yeah, but thanks to Captain Erickson here, we all made it out alive.”

Lieutenant Garret glanced at Hope. “You were flying the bird that rescued them? I thought they only used women pilots to ferry supplies and VIP’s.”

She tossed him a smug smile, “Not in this war,” then grabbed her towel and walked off.

Nick quickly followed. “Bet you get a lot of that, huh?”

“I’m used to it.” She stopped at a treadmill and stepped on, draping the towel across her right shoulder.

Nick climbed on the one next to her. After programming his speed and incline, he began a brisk walk. “How long have you been flying?”

“Since I was fifteen,” she answered with barely a glance.

“I meant in the army.”

“Nine years. Did Kylie tell you I was here?”

“Who’s Kylie?” he avoided her question, hoping to keep his promise.

“Never mind.” She met his gaze. “What do you want, Lieutenant?”

He gave her his best smile. “For starters, I’d like for you to call me Nick.”

“There are rules against fraternizing.”

“We’re only talking. Besides, if I did have aspirations toward you in that capacity, that rule refers mainly to relationships between officers and enlisted personnel.”

She shook her head as she glanced away.

“Whoa… wait a minute, was that a smile I just saw?” he teased. When she refused to look at him, he stepped off the treadmill and moved to stand in front of her. “I was a horrible kid, I admit it. And I’m sorry.”

“Forget about it. It’s no big deal.”

“Why don’t I believe you?”

“Believe me or not, that’s your prerogative.” She grabbed the towel from her shoulder and stepped off the treadmill. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go.”

He followed. “Now you see; if you didn’t keep brushing me off I might believe you.”

She paused at the door, turning to him. “Are you always this tenacious?”

“Yes. It’s one of my many attributes. Have coffee with me and I’ll share some of my other qualities.”

Hope laughed.

“Is that a yes,” he asked, hopeful.

“All right, I’ll have coffee with you. Not tonight, though. I have a pre-flight briefing at oh-seven-hundred.”

“Tomorrow night then… after dinner with your crew, I’ll meet you right here.”

“Okay.”

“It’s a date then. Don’t forget.”

“It’s not a date, its coffee, and I won’t forget.”  Download the full read from http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-239/Wounded-Heroes-Christmas-with/Detail.bok

For eighteen years, Nik has been a solitary man… focused on his career and his career alone after he lost his wife and son. Now, a chance meeting has given him something else, something more, someone to love again.

CJ Montgomery is young, naïve and moldable when she meets Colonel Nik Tanner… except he is the only person not trying to make her into something else.

Time and distance would eventually heal the rift that meddling, vindictive hands create, but their story is just as much in the past as in the future… A lifetime Ago


EXCERPT

Sequel to The Phoenix Rebellion Book One: Revolution

Saturday, February 21, 2043
Presidential Ballroom Edward J. Holbrook Center for Areth-Earth Alliance
Washington, Northern Hemisphere Capital City
Former United States of America

Soft music, laced with subtle string melodies, echoed through the expansive ballroom as military leaders, political figures and scientific pioneers mingled with Areth dignitaries and ambassadors. Subdued conversation hummed just below the surface of the music, blending with the tinkle of crystal and china.

Doctor CJ Montgomery stood at the top of the sweeping staircase that led to the ballroom floor, taking in the crowd as a giddy excitement danced up her spine. She tightened her hold on the arm of the gentleman walking beside her. He patted her hand affectionately.

“I take it you’ve never attended a soiree on this grand a scale, Miss Montgomery?”

“No,” she said as she released a pent-up breath, then blinked and turned to look at Professor Abernathy. “No, Professor.” Her voice was stronger this time.

He smiled behind his full, white beard and took a step forward. CJ walked with him, the flared hem of her silk skirt whistling around her ankles as they took the stairs. “You are the next generation of Genetics Engineering geniuses, Miss Montgomery. It’s high time you rub elbows with the men and women that will lead our world into a future full of promise and advancements like none we have ever imagined.”

They reached the bottom of the stairs, and Professor Abernathy led her directly to a small crowd of people gathered together in conversation. She immediately recognized Warrick, High Commander of the Areth fleet, and her heart jumped into her throat. He was dressed in a long robe of deep brown, five gold cubes on each shoulder the only indication of his rank within the Areth Chain of Command. He needed no insignia to set himself apart. There wasn’t a person on Earth who didn’t know Warrick by sight. She barely heard the exchange between Professor Abernathy and the Areth leader until the saying of her own name snapped her out of her daze.

“I consider Doctor Montgomery my prodigy, and predict her contribution to the study of Theoretical Genetics will be groundbreaking. She is a brilliant doctor.”

Heat rose in her cheeks and she glanced away from the professor and Warrick… and found herself looking into the most intense brown eyes she had ever seen.

“Doctor Montgomery, allow me to introduce Colonel Tanner,” said someone’s voice on the edges of her perception. “Colonel Tanner is one of our honorees this evening.”

Colonel Tanner towered over her, or so it seemed. CJ was five-foot-ten and had on heels and yet she still had to raise her chin to meet his gaze. He was at least six-foot-three, and the blue dress Earth Force uniform he wore accentuated his broad shoulders and a trim physique. His brown hair was cut close in standard military fashion, with the slightest hint of gray at the temples. That, with his rank, told her he had to be in his late thirties at least. Slight lines bracketed his thin, chiseled lips.

He extended his hand and CJ took it, his long fingers engulfing hers.

“Doctor?” he said, and his voice was like honey over gravel.

“Yes,” she managed to say, her voice lost somewhere in her throat.

Download the rest from: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-74/A-Lifetime-Ago–dsh–dsh-/Detail.bok

Bojan and Laney are newly married and about to embark on their honeymoon. They will be traveling to his homeland in eastern Europe to meet his family. Only Bojan has other plans in mind once they get there. He’s out to find his sister’s ex-boyfriend who nearly killed her and left her for dead a year ago. He wants to make sure his sister will be safe and will not have to look over her shoulder for the rest of her life. But he hadn’t thought things completely through and takes a risk by keeping his plans from his wife. The one thing he hadn’t considered, though, was God’s knowledge of the secrets in his heart.

EXCERPT

Bojan finally relaxed in his seat on the plane to Paris, his seatbelt almost too tight, and his fingers entwined with his new bride’s. While he hated to be deceptive in any way, he had another purpose for their stopping over in Macedonia to see his family. He needed to know if Georg was still alive, and if so, whether or not he realized Jovana had lived despite his abuse and leaving her on the streets for dead.

He imagined himself giving Georg a sound beating and threatening him within an inch of his life. He knew it wasn’t very Christian behavior, but how else was he supposed to feel knowing the sick things the man had done to his sweet baby sister?

Within seconds of takeoff, he slipped into a deep sleep and dreamt of his first meeting with Georg. Leaving Jovana behind in Arizona had been difficult, but losing her again to that scumbag ex-boyfriend Georg was something Bojan would not tolerate. He and Laney had a European honeymoon planned, but part of their trip included finding Georg so his sister would no longer have to look over her shoulder wondering when her ex would show up.

Yes, one of the reasons she had moved to Arizona was for protection from her ex, and he had no doubt that Georg would have a difficult time finding her there, but he wanted to make sure for his own peace of mind. His new bride thought they were only going to Macedonia to meet his family. She didn’t need to know the other details, but part of him ached to tell her the whole truth about their visit. At the same time, he had waited too long for them to be together to upset Laney right now. If she thought any harm might come to him, then she’d be frantic, and all peace between them would dissipate. Download at: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-397/Uncovering-the-Secret-Michelle/Detail.bok

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A Unique Love Story … Amazon reviews for The Return of Joy

5.0 out of 5 stars a unique love story, December 3, 2012

By Billie Houston (San Antonio, TX USA)
This review is from: Starting Over Book Two: The Return of Joy (Kindle Edition)

The husband Joy Huffman adored is killed in an automobile accident. Only hours after she receives the news, their daughter is born. Joy is devastated. With the passing of time and the help of her mother-in-law, Evelyn, she begins to heal. Almost two years later she is ready to revisit the cabin she and her husband designed and built before his death. Joy, Evelyn, and Charity, Joy’s daughter, pack up, leave St. Louis, and head for New Mexico.

Her return is not what she expected it to be. The caretaker, Mark Stone, is a handsome computer expert who runs his business from the cabin. She is immediately attracted to him.

Joy begins to suspicion that her husband’s death may not have been an accident. She realizes that she, Evelyn, and her little daughter, may all be in immediate danger. Should she stay and try to solve the mystery while dealing with her growing attraction to Mark, or should she run, not walk, to the nearest escape route?

Starting Over Book Two: The Return of Joy I found many things to recommend this book. The poems at the beginning of chapters are lyrical and lovely. The plot kept me engaged all the way through the book. The characters are flawed, but sincere and loveable. Joy and Mark’s love story unfolds like the petals of a fragrant flower. If you like a different twist on a romantic story, you will love this book.

4.0 out of 5 stars A Second Chance, December 1, 2012
By Barbara Scott (Florissant, MO USA)
This review is from: Starting Over Book Two: The Return of Joy (Kindle Edition)

At first glance, Joy Huffman seems to have the perfect life: a loving husband, a baby on the way, a beautiful cabin designed and built for the life they’d soon share. Fate had other plans. On the night she gave birth to her daughter, her husband Steve is killed in a car accident. Joy plunges into a two year tailspin saved only by the need to take care of her child and the support of her grieving mother-in-law. It is only the recurring dreams she has when Steve returns trying to tell her something, trying to draw her to the cabin she’s never seen completed and avoided since his death. When even her baby talks of seeing Steve, Joy feels compelled to go to New Mexico. Accompanied by baby Charity and mother-in-law Evelyn, Joy confronts the possibility that Steve’s death was no accident.

In The Return of Joy, Lynette Endicott creates an evolving storyline peopled with memorable characters and settings so vivid they provide a backdrop as alive as the people. The cabin is like an HGTV Dream Home with a waterfall wall, secret hideaways, and surprises at every turn. It is set in a landscape of mountain and desert splendor near Santa Fe where morning walks with handsome caretaker Mark begin to work their way through Joy’s grief. Hovering over all is the mystery of Steve’s possible murder.

This second of Endicott’s Starting Over series, stands alone but aptly addresses her theme of second chances in life. The reader strongly empathizes with and roots for Joy as she works to earn her second chance. The blend of romance and suspense mixes easily with the deeper work of the plot giving it a substance that lingers in the reader’s memory.

Barbara Scott

4.0 out of 5 stars Return to Joy, November 30, 2012
This review is from: Starting Over Book Two: The Return of Joy (Kindle Edition)

The day of her daughter Charity’s birth, should have been one of the happiest in Joy’s life. And it might have been, except it was the same day she lost her husband Steve. And the same day she lost a big part of herself.

Were it not for her mother in law Joy might have lost herself to the pain completely. But Evelyn had been there to help anchor a young mother to sanity.

Now, two years later, Joy, along with Charity and Evelyn, is taking a step back into the world by taking a trip to the family cabin. The place Steve and Joy built specifically for themselves, but never got to share together.

Joy would rather not go, but the recurring nightmares she’s been having of Steve lead her to believe his death was caused by something more sinister than a simple side-swipe and the answer to the puzzle just might lie in the secret hideaways of the cabin.

At the cabin she meets Mark, who just might be the key to restoring her broken heart. If only Joy will free herself to take the chance. But if Joy doesn’t face Steve’s past, she might not have a future.

The Return of Joy is the second in Lynette Endicott’s Starting Over Series. It has moments or sorrow, suspense and, of course, a Return of Joy.