Winners announced: Goodreads contest

Announcing book winjoy coverners, Goodreads contest: Krystyna Smith, New York, Wanda Snow Porter and Emily Stemp, California, Wend Holland from Ontario, Canada and Anthony Ingram from Washington state. A copy of The Return of Joy is going in the mail. Watch for a chance to win Book 1 in the Starting Over Series, More Than a Job, coming tomorrow.

Get your copy at Desert Breeze Publishing or Amazon.

First Kiss: Joy and Mark

joy coverExcerpt, The Return of Joy:

“New Mexican food isn’t quite like any other Mexican food, huh?” Mark took a bite of his and closed his eyes with an enraptured look on his face.

Joy giggled. “Look at us. You’d think we were starving. This food is amazing.” She wiped her lips with a napkin. “It isn’t too hot, but I can feel the tingle of the salsa on my lips.”

She hadn’t meant her words to sound provocative, but when Mark reached out one finger to touch the corner her mouth, she realized they may have come across that way.

He traced her lip to the other corner, his touch so light and gentle she caught her breath.

“I may have to check later and see how long that tingle lasts,” he whispered. He moved his gaze from her lips to her eyes. “I want to know how you taste. I’ve been wondering.”

He pulled his hand away, and immediately she craved his touch. She reached for his hand and squeezed it.

“We may need to do some mutual exploration,” she whispered back.

The sizzle of attraction became more potent whenever she touched him, so she held his hand a little longer. Until he began stroking it with his thumb. Until a Mariachi band strolled up to their table and broke the mood.

They played a loud, bouncing polka that rocked Joy’s mood from sensuous to frivolous, and when they finished the first number, Mark jumped to his feet and clapped. Unable to stop herself, Joy did the same. Then Mark leaned over and whispered something to the band leader, who nodded and passed the name of a song she didn’t recognize to the others. The trumpet on this tune was a little slower, butdreamstimefree_191246 still fun.

Mark grabbed her hand and pulled her closer for a dance. A few other couples followed their lead and took to the dance floor with quick, lively steps. Then Mark led Joy into a slower number as the tune changed, clasping one of her hands against his heart and circling his other arm around her waist.

As the song ended, he leaned in and brushed his lips across hers, then grinned. “I couldn’t wait. Hope you don’t mind.”

Her heart pounded with excitement at the gentle touch. “No, I don’t mind.”

She leaned toward him and captured his lips with her own, adding a little pressure, thrilling as the pace of his heart grew faster under her hand.

A few whistles and a light round of applause from the band drew their attention to the audience witnessing their first kiss.

Mark leaned close and whispered, “You’re blushing,” before leading her back to their seats.

Buy The Return of Joy at Desert Breeze Publishing or Amazon today.

Atlas, Mark’s dog, plays a key role in The Return of Joy

Excerpts from The Return of Joy:atlas cropped 2

Mark turned to Charity. “And who is this young lady?”

“This is my granddaughter, Charity.” Evelyn grinned, then busied herself with placing Charity on the ground. She was sucking on her fingers and eyeing the dog. She pointed to him, not frightened exactly but cautious. “Does he bite?”

“Hi, Charity.” Mark put out a hand to solemnly shake her pointing finger. “No, he doesn’t bite. And he loves pats and hugs and kisses. Would you like to pet him?”

Charity nodded, and Mark guided her hand to the animal’s head. Charity giggled and patted the dog with both hands.

“Can I lick him?” she asked soberly, no doubt thinking of doggy kisses.

All three adults chuckled at that.

“No, Charity, just regular people kisses, okay?” Mark crouched beside her and looked up at Evelyn. “She’s a wonder, Evelyn. You must love having a granddaughter.”

*****

When Charity dropped to the floor next to Atlas and showed him one of the books, Mark laughed out loud.

“What’s so funny?”

“She’s reading to the dog,” he pointed out.

“She’s been doing that for a couple of weeks, Mark.” So proud of both the girl and the dog she could hardly stand it, Joy grinned. “Josie has a therapy dog who listens to kids read at a local library. She helped us make sure Atlas could do the same.” Joy pulled a paper out of the pile of presents on the table. “Atlas passed his test. All we need is your permission to send everything in, and he can be an official therapy dog, too.”

Looking confused, Mark scratched his head. “A therapy dog? He’s just… you know, a family dog.”

Joy smiled and stepped closer to Mark. She patted his chest.

“I know he is your dog. That’s why we won’t pursue this if you don’t want to.” She turned and slid an arm around his waist. “But look at them. They’re so happy reading together.”

Mark looked, shaking his head. “He’s just lying there. He isn’t even looking at the pictures.”

“That’s what Charity said the first tim603986_377554449000333_815996728_ne. Then Josie explained he likes to listen to her tell the story. Charity can’t actually read yet, of course, but she’s learning to share, to decipher from the pictures, and turn the pages. You should see Josie’s dog, Zoey, at the library, surrounded by children from toddlers through about second grade. They all crowd around and pet her, and take turns reading to her.”

“So if you send in Atlas’ paperwork and he becomes a therapy dog, what does that mean, exactly?”

“It means I can volunteer with him at a local school or library, where kids will do just what Charity’s doing now. Read out loud to the dog.”

“And they don’t realize he doesn’t understand?”

“Nope.” Joy chuckled. “You should have seen Atlas at his reading test. One little boy read a book about Little Pig Piglet, who couldn’t sleep. At the end of the story when he read that Little Pig Piglet finally fell asleep, Atlas flopped over on his side on top of the book as if he was falling asleep, too. So of course he must understand. He doesn’t really, of course, but the children are so excited about being the ones to read out loud, and the dogs are so non-judgmental, that they get better and better at reading when they read to a dog. And the dogs never correct them, I might add.”

Mark seemed skeptical.

“I guess you have to see it to understand.” She looked up into his eyes. “Josie had one boy who came in with his grandpa who told us he couldn’t read but would it be okay if he petted the dog? Josie said sure, of course, and he knelt down beside Zoey and began to talk to her, saying ‘Good dog. You’re a good dog.’ When we looked up at Grandpa he had tears in his eyes. I asked him if he was okay and he nodded and told us it was the first time his grandson had spoken in months – that he has autism and has difficulty talking to people. But not to the dog!”

Buy The Return of Joy from Desert Breeze Publishing or Amazon.

When Joy met Mark

Joy Huffman doesn’t know how to get on with her life after Steve’s fatal accident. Then, several years after his death, he calls to her in a dream and urges her to go to the cabin they’d designed together, and that she has never seen. Can she embrace this home Steve built for them, and find a way to let love in once more?

Excerpt, The Return of Joy:

She stepped from the vehicle and took a deep, steadying breath to shake off the long day’s fatigue. Evelyn moved more slowly, chatting with Charity as she unbuckled the child from her safety seat.joy cover

“Now there’s the woman I like to see,” Evelyn commented.

Joy turned to smile at her. “I’m so excited to be here.”

Here, where I can be more like the woman you knew years ago. The woman Steve loved.

For a brief moment, she was no longer in mourning. She was full of joy.

A movement from beyond Evelyn caught her attention, and a man emerged from the woods, a yellow lab trotting at his side. As he moved closer, Joy stepped toward him with a smile and a greeting.

Then the greeting died on her lips, and she swallowed, hard. Something about his presence startled her. He was under six feet — only a few inches over her own five-seven. He had thick, dark, wavy hair that brushed his collar, and a red chamois shirt he’d rolled up to display his muscular arms. His face was mobile and expressive, showing determination, tension, and — something else. Joy wasn’t sure what. He moved with a graceful, confident stride. An athlete’s stride. Tight jeans hugged his hips. He stirred something within her, something she hadn’t felt for a long time.

“Hi.” She shook his extended hand, a large, strong hand that engulfed hers and made her feel dainty and petite. She gazed up into his eyes; they were of an indeterminate color — maybe blue, maybe green, maybe gray. To call the color indeterminate was unfair. They were beautiful eyes, with depths like a fine gemstone.

“You must be Joy Huffman. I’m your tenant, Mark Stone. This is my dog, Atlas.”

She had expected someone different. A pale computer nerd, maybe. After all, he ran a computer business from here. She had not expected this masculine man.

You can buy The Return of Joy at Amazon or Desert Breeze Publishing.

Yellow Lab, Therapy Dog is Key Character

atlas cropped 2

Excerpt from The Return of Joy

When Charity dropped to the floor next to Atlas and showed him one of the books, Mark laughed out loud.

“What’s so funny?”

“She’s reading to the dog,” he pointed out.

“She’s been doing that for a couple of weeks, Mark.” So proud of both the girl and the dog she could hardly stand it, Joy grinned. “Josie has a therapy dog who listens to kids read at a local library. She helped us make sure Atlas could do the same.” Joy pulled a paper out of the pile of presents on the table. “Atlas passed his test. All we need is your permission to send everything in, and he can be an official therapy dog, too.”

Looking confused, Mark scratched his head. “A therapy dog? He’s just… you know, a family dog.”joy cover

Joy smiled and stepped closer to Mark. She patted his chest.

“I know he is your dog. That’s why we won’t pursue this if you don’t want to.” She turned and slid an arm around his waist. “But look at them. They’re so happy reading together.”

Mark looked, shaking his head. “He’s just lying there. He isn’t even looking at the pictures.”

“That’s what Charity said the first time. Then Josie explained he likes to listen to her tell the story. Charity can’t actually read yet, of course, but she’s learning to share, to decipher from the pictures, and turn the pages. You should see Josie’s dog, Zoey, at the library, surrounded by children from toddlers through about second grade. They all crowd around and pet her, and take turns reading to her.”

“So if you send in Atlas’ paperwork and he becomes a therapy dog, what does that mean, exactly?”

“It means I can volunteer with him at a local school or library, where kids will do just what Charity’s doing now. Read out loud to the dog.”

“And they don’t realize he doesn’t understand?”

cover for on line ad“Nope.” Joy chuckled. “You should have seen Atlas at his reading test. One little boy read a book about Little Pig Piglet, who couldn’t sleep. At the end of the story when he read that Little Pig Piglet finally fell asleep, Atlas flopped over on his side on top of the book as if he was falling asleep, too. So of course he must understand. He doesn’t really, of course, but the children are so excited about being the ones to read out loud, and the dogs are so non-judgmental, that they get better and better at reading when they read to a dog. And the dogs never correct them, I might add.”

Mark seemed skeptical.

“I guess you have to see it to understand.” She looked up into his eyes. “Josie had one boy who came in with his grandpa and told us he couldn’t read but would it be okay if he petted the dog? Josie said sure, of course, and he knelt down beside Zoey and began to talk to her, saying ‘Good dog. You’re a good dog.’ When we looked up at Grandpa he had tears in his eyes. I asked him if he was okay and he nodded and told us it was the first time his grandson had spoken in months – that he has autism and has difficulty talking to people. But not to the dog!”

Download  The Return of Joy today. You may also want to read Book One in the Starting Over Series, More Than a Job.

A blog about writing romance or about animals or what?

A marketing professional’s question…pepper - Copy

It is a fair question. In answer, let me tell you a story.

After a fairly significant event that interrupted my career, I was working from home, deciding what to do with myself, and I decided to get back to my writing. I joined an on-line critique group, set aside writing time, researched articles where I could write short stories, joined the Romance Writers of America…all the things a serious romance writer should do.

During this time I learned the delight of being home with my teenage daughter. I had worked outside the home herwhole life, but now we had that precious time immediately after school when her day tumbled out as we drove home.

She’s the one who heard the kittens in the woodpile. A feral cat had a litter and they were as cute as they could be, especially when they began chasing each other around our back yard, tumbling and hissing and occasionally falling into the pool, but we were always there to fish them out. My daughter picked one of them up and asked, predictably, if she could keep it. I answered, predictably, no, her father didn’t like cats. Then she asked the question that changed our lives.

mostly ollie“Why do we let him decide?”

Why, indeed. Long story short, we adopted two kittens, and later another came into our lives to be rescued. We rescued a dog a few years later, and then a cockatiel showed up on our back porch.

I’d never owned a pet before, not one of my own. A few animals found their way through our lives as I was growing up, but none were mine and most had pretty sad stories, didn’t turn out well.

After I turned 50 my daughter’s spunk turned that all around and I am absolutely in love with all my animals. Now I can’t imagine life without them. Art imitates life, so my characters include animals. That is why Paige adopts two kittens found in her backyard in More Than a Job, Mark’s yellow lab, Atlas, becomes a therapy dog and reading tutor in The Return of Joy and a calico cat and a German shepherd are animal helpers in Animal Instinct, because all the heroes and heroines in our Time After Time Saga have animal helpers.

71916925269910592_1wlk4eov_bIn a few weeks you will meet another calico cat and a cockatiel in Survival Instinct. In Finding Her Voice, Starting Over Book Three, Ollie (the terrier mix above) accompanies Jen as she takes a journey across the country to figure out how to rebuild her life. This fall you will meet two more animal helpers, a horse and a barn cat, in Pioneer Instinct. So as the marketing professional calls it, in developing the “brand” of Author Lynette Endicott, animals will always play a part.  I enjoy bringing animals in with guest authors, too.

Check out all the books that are available at my Amazon author page.

There is a page for each of the books mentioned in the menu at the top of this page. Hope you will browse through to see what is coming soon.

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

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.

From a dog’s viewpoint

‎”Would you like a visit?”

You appear doubtful, hesitant and wounded on a level much deeper than physical as you, with quivering hands which flit like nervous birds, gather your blankets tighter around you and momentarily over your hair, tucking a few lose strands back.

You nod.

Your naked vulnerability is nothing new to me–I have seen a similar state in countless others. With but a moment I can sense your hurt. With but one snuffling huff I know all there is about the wound on your side, the medications dripping through your IV, the age of your NG tube and the state of your External Fixator. Your body language telegraphs a steady message of anxiety, despair, and pain pain pain.zoey and woman

But I am not here to judge.

My partner helps me settle on the bed next to you and offers you my business card. As you glance over the laminated cardstock, I nudge a little closer and you obligingly bring your arm up and around me, pulling me just that much tighter to you. For one moment we both sigh, content, before you thread one hand, no longer trembling, through my hair to fondle at one ear.

We sit in quiet. It is not my place to talk anyway. It is my job to be still, be present, and to listen.

You do not disappoint. After a few moments lost in a companionable hush, you pat my cheek to reassure me of your attention and doting before you begin to speak.

“I had one just like you. She was a bit smaller, though,” you chuckle at the memory, your eyes going sad for a moment, ignoring my small look of exasperation at the comparison. It’s not my fault I look this way. My body is much smaller than my covering gives me credit. “She was smart like you too. Beautiful.” A fond sigh. I cock my head and regard you with pleased silence. Compliments always have a special place in my heart. “Are you always this calm and quiet?” I shake my head and nuzzle a little closer in answer, hoping my response coaxes you on. I’m relieved when you resume carding your fingers through my hair.

“You know, I’m all alone now. My children don’t come to see me now that I’m out of the ICU. They have their own lives. And Ronnie….” A sob takes your voice as you curl closer. Your hand no longer caresses but clings. I don’t mind it. “Ronnie’s gone. My Ronnie is gone.” Breathed into the crown of my head as a terrible, whispering secret. “I never got to say goodbye or I love you…” The nightmare of your heartbreak steeps into my hair with your tears. I close my eyes and lean, struggling to shoulder the weight of this burden, to ease it from you for just one moment so you may rest, so you may smile, so you may hope. In spite of my small size and compact body, I am much stronger than I appear.

It is a strange moment, the moment of spiritual transference when one’s pain becomes shared and it can be overwhelming, stifling. But then your hand moves once more, patting, soothing, brought back to life and action as the tears begin to wane as you realize you are not quite so alone. I raise my face, offering up one of the few consolations I have as I dab your tears from your cheeks with my nose and am rewarded with a hesitant, watery smile and a weak laugh. We lock eyes and, keeping with my code of silence, I will you to see the truth.

Ronnie knows. He misses you. He loved you too. Smile. Heal. Resume.

You nod and bend to kiss my nose but I am determined you understand that this is not your moment to give love, but to receive it, without judgment, without desire for reciprocation, so it is I that kiss your nose.

I’m not a great kisser– they tend to be a little slobbery, but you don’t seem to mind.

You smile and resume your petting with greater enthusiasm, heartache temporarily forgotten. For the first time, I sense something different in your touch–perhaps it is the real you finally peeking through. You tickle my feet and quietly laugh as I tumble onto my back to offer my belly which you immediately scratch and pat. From nearby, my partner signals amusement as well as the warning that our time is drawing to a close.

Offering one last nuzzle and a lopsided smile, I allow my partner to guide me off the bed just as the nurse comes in to offer you more pain medication and something for anxiety. Your confident, calm decline of both makes my tail wag and as my partner taps a coded line of pleased praise with her fingertips along my leash, we respectfully take our leave.

From in the hall, we hear you call out to thank us not realizing that your smile and your time were thanks enough. — Author Unknown

(Thanks to Ruby, Mary and Zoey for the photo.)

(The Return of Joy includes appearances by therapy dogs Zoey and Atlas. You can download your copy from

 http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-357/Starting-Over-Book-Two-cln-/Detail.bok.