Saturday, December 31, 2011

Excerpt from The Daughter - Available Now.

Blurb:

Abandoned by her mother at birth, social worker Katie Delynski believes love and relationships are learned—and she hasn’t learned anything good about either. She avoids both love and relationships by focusing on her career and by getting prostitutes off the street. But when a man she’s never met commits suicide and names her as his daughter, leaving her millions of dollars and a family full of new relatives, things change. Her new family invites her into their lives, stirring a sense of belonging she is afraid to believe in.

Determined to put her windfall to good use, Katie buys an old building for a women’s shelter. Her newfound family puts her in touch with Conner Patterson, a family friend, to help rehab the building. As work progresses, Katie finds herself falling in love with Conner, but fear keeps her from acting on her feelings. It soon becomes apparent, though, that Conner may be her only hope for survival, when someone hurt by her father’s past indiscretions is determined to make Katie pay for her father’s sins.

 

Excerpt:
 
Prologue

With his right hand, Keith O’Neil lifted the crystal rocks glass above his head and watched as the light sparkled like amber diamonds through the southern bourbon. In his left palm, the cold weight of the semi-automatic .22 pistol taunted, asking if he had the balls to pull the trigger.

He downed the liquor, the hot bite coursing along his throat, a bitter reminder that life still pumped through his veins. Yet, it was the liquid courage he needed to complete the task at hand.

A cowards task for sure.

He set the glass aside and shifted the gun to his right hand. It was lightweight and compact, the metal smooth and almost seductive as though luring him into the siren’s song of death. He smiled, feeling the lull of the words… Come, come and play with me. There are no worries here….

Yes. That’s what he wanted. No more decisions. No more pain.

For a Catholic raised within the confines of a strict but loving family, suicide was the unthinkable sin. His parents taught him to believe it would give him eternal life in hell. The final act, he figured, of condemning his soul to the devil.

He glanced around his office, loving the shapes and contrasts he’d created for his personal space, a home away from home. The black leather square furniture favored his masculine side and the dark wood of the wet bar stocked with the finest liquors catered to his love for the expensive. A private bathroom adjoined the room from the right and a massive picture window stood at his back overlooking the city of Philadelphia. He had designed the building with his own hands, one of which now wrapped around the small gun, ready to destroy rather than create.

His status as a millionaire led the public to believe he held the world in his hands. He thought so himself at one time, believing his money gave him power. When he finished with people, he pushed them aside, ruining marriages, businesses’ and friendships, thinking he had earned the right with each dollar he’d made.

He had pissed off some important people along the way, ones who had wanted to take him for everything he was worth and be done with him. He wouldn’t give them the satisfaction. Once he was six feet under, they couldn’t touch him. He might be guilty of wrongdoing, but they weren’t pillars of the community either.

He spent money as he saw fit and invested using insider information. His tastes ran toward expensive homes, cars, quality booze and imported cigars. Oh, he gave to charity when giving served his purpose, but believed ‘doing good’ made one vulnerable and weak.

But things, time, his own body turned against him. How had he gotten to this place, when ending the pain seemed easier than facing life? It was surreal, a terrible dream.

Despite the money, he had been vulnerable and weak after all.

Cancer didn’t care about wealth or status.

Knowing death lurked made a person take stock of his life. Regret rumbled at Keith like a freight train with no breaks, forcing him to face the bright light rather then jumping from the tracks before it slammed into him.

One for the road. He reached across the mahogany desk to grab a cigar. His eyes caught on the photograph sitting to the left. The frame matched the office décor—his secretaries doing. She had set the family portrait there, too, thinking he would appear more human to his clients.

The picture of him, his parents and brothers dated back five years, capturing a time when he thought he had forever to make things right. They, his family, chose the day after his fiftieth birthday to schedule the sitting. He’d shuffled his calendar around so he could be available and was sure to make his family aware of what an inconvenience they had been. And for what? Plans he now couldn’t even remember.

There had probably been other pictures since, and if that were true, they had not invited him. And he hadn’t had forever to make things right. His parents passed away three years later, eight months apart and he missed them. His eyes welled with tears and he swiped the sleeve of his crisp blue shirt across his face in embarrassment.

God, what a pussy. Shame followed him everywhere these days.

If he had the balls to go through with this, Debbie, his secretary of seventeen years, would find him in the morning. Would she be sorry he was gone? Would she miss him? It wasn’t likely. He had done nothing to earn her respect. She had stayed on with the firm after ending their affair because he paid well, not because she cared about him.

She would be surprised to realize, though, how much he cared about her. No, he didn’t love her, not the way he had Rachel Molloy, but he did want her to be happy. He was glad she chose to stay with her husband and not tell him about the affair. One marriage he hadn’t ruined.

Everything was set. He had spoken to his lawyer last week and made a few changes to his Trust. With his death, a plan would be put in motion to right his wrongs. Those affected by the truth might not understand at first, but in time, they would appreciate the wisdom of his actions. He only wished he had done this years ago.

He should have paid closer attention. Simply by being absent from their lives, he had hurt the people he loved most. He had done very little for his family, but hoped what he left behind would make up for what he had been unable to give while alive.

No question, he would leave his mark on the world. Large, beautiful buildings scraped the skies of every major city in the United States and in foreign countries. They would live on long after he was gone. He had hobnobbed with presidents, kings and dignitaries, all for his own glory and satisfaction. But his death would mean nothing to them. No one would miss him, not his brothers, who he hadn’t seen in two years, or the daughter he knew only from a distance.

His biggest regret was letting his little girl go through life without a dad, having never known his family. He had letters and pictures from the girl’s maternal grandparents, the ones who had raised her, but he could have had more, done more. Lord knows he couldn’t have taken care of her himself, not then, and neither could her mother. But the child, now a twenty-nine year old woman, never knew….

She would soon enough. She would at least know his name.

He poured another shot of bourbon, left it sit on his desk while he toyed with the gun and listened for the seductive temptress to call to him. And when she did, he picked up the shot and downed the warm comfort. His right hand stopped shaking as he put the cold barrel of the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger.

Chapter One

Illegitimate Daughter of Millionaire Keith O’Neil Inherits Fortune.

Katie Delynski snatched the newspaper out of the receptionist’s hand and glanced around the social service department lobby to see if anybody else was reading the mornings news. To her relief, Vicky was the only one.

“Not a word of this to anyone,” Katie instructed, folding the paper under her arm and making a beeline for her office.

“But that’s my paper,” Vicky called after her.

“You’ll get it back.”

Katie shut her door and dropped her lunch and the article on top her desk. She sat before her legs gave out, took a deep, steadying breath and then dared to look at the headline again. The grainy picture accompanying the brief piece was several years old.

The lawyer, Derek Pratt, had warned her, but she hadn’t expected the information to leak so soon. Just two weeks ago, she had learned the truth herself. Truths she could have gone her whole life never knowing.

When she’d received the phone call requesting her presence at the reading of Keith O’Neil’s Trust, she had laughed, telling the man he had the wrong number. But then she’d told her grandparents about the call and her world had shifted beneath her feet when they confirmed Keith was her father.

Now, everyone would know.

Breathe, she instructed. You cannot have a panic attack at work. She closed her eyes against the sting of angry tears.

The shrill ring of the phone startled her. She checked caller ID before answering, thankful when her best friend’s number appeared. “Oh God, Lana, did you see the paper?”

“Yes. Are you okay?”

“I’m shocked, as stupid as that seems considering I knew this might happen.”

“What can I do?”

“You’re doing it.” Katie couldn’t imagine life without Lana, who was more like family than she was a friend. “I keep thinking this can’t be happening to me.”

“You’re going to be fine.” A heavy sigh eased across the line. “I know you don’t want to hear this but you should meet with the O’Neils’ tonight.”

“No.”

“Katie…”

“I won’t go through that again.” Katie’s breath shuddered out at the very thought.

“Come on, it was a shock for them, too. Bad first impression. It happens.”

“They’re only worried about the money.”

“What if they really are interested in you? Is that so hard to believe?”

“I don’t know. I’ll think about it. Listen, my eight o’clock appointment is here. I gotta go.”

Throughout the day, Katie caught people staring at her and conversation stopped when she entered the ladies room. Were they speculating about the money or her being illegitimate?

God, how she despised that word.

The tabloids and respected newspapers alike, had plastered Keith’s suicide across their pages. A Millionaire at the Top of His Game, or so the headlines had said. Yeah, right. People don’t take their lives when they’ve reached their highest point. They end it when they find themselves at the bottom, at their lowest and most desperate.

As a social worker in the heart of Philadelphia, Katie had seen it all—death and suicide—often enough to recognize despair when she saw it, reeking like the rotting of ones soul.

When five o’clock struck, Katie wasted no time gathering her belongings and heading for the parking lot. She rounded the corner of the building and hit a wall of media. The flash of cameras blinded her; her arm flew up to shield her face. She turned, searching for a way out, but they surrounded her, yelling questions.

“Is it true Ms. Delynski, you were not aware Keith O’Neil was your father?”

“How does it feel to be a millionaire?”

“How are you dealing with the suicide of your father?”

Sweat popped out over her entire body as the crowd shifted, knocking her off balance. She grabbed the nearest arm to keep from falling, attempting to step forward, but her escape route closed off.

“Will you continue to work?”

“Of course,” Katie responded. “Excuse me, please.” Tears of frustration and panic surfaced as the air wheezed from her lungs.

“Hey, buddy, watch it,” someone yelled.

Then the reporters parted like the Red Sea as a big man pushed his way through and grabbed Katie by the elbow.

“Back off and give the lady some room,” his voice boomed with authority. Taking advantage of the media’s momentary bewilderment, he pulled her away from them. She had to jog to keep up with his long strides.

“Who are you?” she asked, but received no answer.

At her car, the man turned his back, placing himself between her and the angry mob of reporters bearing down on them. With shaky hands, Katie rushed to unlock the door to her old yellow Volkswagen and hesitated to…what…thank the stranger? His towering height forced her to look up.

He glanced over his shoulder, his eyes a pale blue reminding her of the sky on a clear cloudless day and then his full lips curved into a devastating smile that left her transfixed for one…two…three seconds.

“Conner Patterson,” he said, answering her question and breaking the spell. “Go on now. Drive safe.”

Inside her car, she gripped the steering wheel to keep her hands from shaking as she drove away. The tremble running through her body did not stop. The lawyer was right. She wasn’t prepared to handle this. She kept the tears in check as she headed for home. The fragile hold broke when she pulled down her street to find reporters camped out in front of her house. She turned around in the first driveway and sped away.

To purchase click here.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Twas the Night Before Christmas - Romance Style

Twas the night before Christmas with a silk teddy draped over the chair.
She put on the last of her makeup and ran her fingers through her hair.
The stockings were snapped to the garter with care,
In hopes that her hero soon would be there.

Into the teddy, she slide with delight
And checking the mirror, knew it looked just right.
With tiny lace straps and in the color of red.
Instead of standing by the fireplace, she chose to wait on the bed.

Soft candle light flickered as her internal flame burned.
Every nerve ending pulsed and her stomach churned.
He was all that she wanted and wished for tonight.
She had only this moment to get everything right.

And then to her wondering eyes he did appear
She could see by the look, his desire was clear.
Oh, how handsome, tall, dark and rough,
She knew in a moment, one night would not be enough.

He strode to the bed, trailed a finger down her face,
Then continued on down to touch the silk and the lace.
He said not a word as he let his hands roam.
She drew in a breath and let it out on a moan.

He lay down beside her, so lively and quick,
He took her to heaven for he knew every trick.
More rapid than eagles, he too then came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called her by name!

She lay quietly beside him, waiting to hear
The words “I love you”. She waited in fear.
For every good Romance must have a great plot
And in the tangled story the heroin got caught.

For in the beginning, she thought what a jerk
But as the story moved forward, his charm it did work.
They labored through the conflict, both internal and out,
And then in a flash, she fell in love, no doubt.

But now as Christmas morning drew near,
Only one thing remained she needed made clear.
And she pondered and wondered as she stared at the wall.
Did he feel the same thing or nothing at all?

She started to speak, but he stopped her in stride
His eyes – how they twinkled – his mirth he could not hide.
He kissed her mouth roughly, then kissed her once more
As he reached for his pants that lie on the floor.

And out of his pocket our hero did take
A bright, shiny diamond and it wasn’t a fake.
He held it out for the heroine, who smiled with glee
For all of her wishes this Christmas had come to be.

I love you,” he said as his sexy lips drew up like a bow.
Outside in the beautiful Christmas morn, it began to snow.
And all was complete, wrapped up neat and tight.
They heard in the distance “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!”

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Five Special Gifts

I know, right, another blog about Thanksgiving and all it’s trimmings. Well, not exactly. I want to introduce you to five beautiful women that, yes, I am thankful to say I know. I want you to meet them because of something they are doing, something that inspired me and should inspire us all. But before I go further, let me make the proper introductions:  

Tory Rummel, Kim Wiederhold, Christine Wolfer, Krystle Gauche, Patty Luschek

Starting November 1st, they began posting on facebook what they are thankful for. Their goal - post something everyday for thirty days. I was intrigued and impressed. I didn’t participate, but I watched, smiled and clicked ‘like’ on many occasions, and nodded my head in agreement and understanding. Their posts ranged from the simple things they felt blessed by to the world around them. They gave tribute to their country, their friends, their family and their beliefs.

They didn’t do this for attention or for gain. They didn’t know that I would ask permission to write about them and share their blessings. I didn’t even ask them why they felt compelled to do it. All I had to do was look at their posts each day to know the reasons why.

We get caught up in all the bad around us and in the world that sometimes - often times - we forget to be thankful, to pay attention to the good in our lives. In the good we can do in the lives of others.

Obviously, I can’t include every single post they've each made, so below you'll get only a sampling. As you read, keep in mind that these women don’t have perfect lives. They face the same world we all face, they all work outside the home, they are raising or have raised children, they’ve loved and have had their hearts broken, they’ve been touched by cancer or other illnesses in their lives or the lives of loved ones, and they have all experienced loss. They are who we are, who we can be, what we should strive to be - real women, strong women, beautiful women - who choose to focus on the good in their lives.

Patty - I am so thankful for my wonderful parents and the love they gave me. With their love and support I am who I am and am so thankful. :-). Love ya Mommy and Daddy!!!!!

Christine - I am thankful for my Sisters...they know just what I need at all times!! I don't know what I would do without them!!

Krystle - I am thankful that in this recession I am able to have a job to help support my family.

Tory - Today and everyday I am thankful that I married my best friend 7 years ago. He graciously accepts my constant opinions, doesn't complain that I hate to cook, supports me through everything, and is the best daddy Cara could ever ask for. Love you babe!

Kim - I am thankful for the smell of fall harvest!

Christine - I am thankful/blessed to have a beautiful, happy and healthy baby girl!! She is 15 months old today. I love watching her personality get bigger everyday!! She makes my world a much better place!!

Krystle - I am thankful for the farmers who go out in the spring to plant and go out in the fall to harvest those crops that help feed the world.

Patty - I am thankful for the roof over my head. It may not be a show home but it is ours and provides us shelter, and warmth. There are so many that are not as blessed.

Tory - Thankful every minute of every day for my mother. I'm almost 30 and her supporting nature never fails me. Truly an angel here on earth. She continues to amaze me with her love and ability to care for others. I pray I am half the mom she is.

Kim - I am thankful and truly blessed to work with so many amazing people

Krystle - I am thankful for my little sister who I may have beat up a time or two, argued with, cried with and laughed with.

Christine - I am thankful for all of my Grandparents!! All of my Grandma's are now my angels in Heaven and so is my Papa Howard!! But those in Heaven and on earth mean so much to me!!

Tory - thankful for laughter and the people that make me laugh. That's what gets me through the days most often.

Patty - today I am thankful for the wonderful time over the weekend. Good company and Good entertainment.

Kim- I am thankful for my baby sister, Patty Wolfer Luschek. She may not realize it, but, I value her opinion and treasure every moment we share.

Tory - Today I am thankful for answered prayers, the grace of God, and being raised a strong Catholic.

Christine - I am so very thankful for my amazing Mom! She has never failed me and she showed me what being a Mom is truly about. She also taught me how to work hard and be a strong woman!

Patty - Today I am thankful for my faith in God and the Love and Blessings he has granted to my family and me.

Krystle - I am thankful for my wonderful neighbors. They watch over our place like a hawk whether we are home or not, as we do for them too.

Kim - I am thankful to live in a country that gives its people a voice. Vote!

Tory - I am thankful for my best friend in the whole wide world, Maggie Schoellman Crawford! Since 3rd grade, she has been my sister from another uterus!

Christine - I am thankful for my Daddy! He taught me what loving selflessly means! His love has shown me what kind of love I deserve as a woman!

Krystle - I am thankful that God blessed me as a mother. So many people don't get the chance to experience the joy of motherhood. Even though I felt the heartache of losing one and feel very blessed to have 2 healthy and happy boys and 1 angel above.

Patty - On this day, the only thing on my mind is how thankful I am for all the brave men and woman that have and are serving our county. I am very blessed that many of my friends and family have served and have come home safe. Thank you and God Bless you all!

Kim - I am thankful for growing up and staying in the country. Where values and beliefs are strong and opinions are honored. We don't have to always agree, and I will fight for your right to disagree with me.

Tory - I am so thankful for my cousins. Each and every one if them. Its true cousins are your first childhood friends and the ones you can always count on!

Krystle - I am thankful for one of my best friends Ashley Attinger. She is a strong person, a firecracker and doesn't tolerate crap from anyone.

Kim - I am thankful for food on our table, coffee in my cup, gas in my car and faith in my heart. All those things keep me going!

Christine - I am thankful today is Friday!! It means I get two days to do whatever I want. I choose to spend them with my girl...can't wait!!! ;-)

Patty - Today I am thankful for the sun in the sky there is nothing like a beautiful morning with a little sunshine.

I want to thank these wonderful women for letting me share bits and pieces of their story. In honor of them, I am giving away five e-books to five lucky commentors: Undercover, All Bets Are On, Buried In Briny Bay, Love's Long Shadow and Two Brothers. I hope you will take a moment to share with us what you are thankful for. Drawing will be Friday, Nov. 25th.

To the right of the screen, you can view the five e-books that will be given away. I would like to thank authors Bobbye Terry and Ciara Knight for graciously donating a copy of their books. Click on their covers to see more detail or to purchase the book. See below for other books by these authors:

By Bobbye Terry: THE MARRIAGE MURDERS, BURIED IN BRINY BAYCOMING TO CLIMAX. Sequel, NICK OF TIME, By Daryn Cross, WALK RIGHT IN, L&L Dreamspell
Visit Bobbye at: http://bobbyeterry.blogspot.com/

By Ciara Knight: Love's Long Shadow. Visit Ciara at: http://www.ciaraknight.com/

Saturday, October 15, 2011

UNDERCOVER - Available Now

As a police officer, Erica Salinas is determined to eliminate as many gangs as she can. When she's offered an opportunity to go undercover as a student at a Chicago city high school to stop the drugs trafficking its halls, she jumps at the chance. She intends to right a wrong committed against her family years ago and prove to herself she isn't the coward she once was.

It doesn't take long for her to identify the two gangs that rule the school and get offered drugs. But she isn't satisfied with runners, she wants to go up the chain to the dealer and supplier.

She befriends a boy who has connections with one of the gangs, hoping to get closer to her goal. Instead, she finds herself getting attached to the kid and falling in love with his brother, Derrick.

Sparks fly when Derrick and Erica meet for the first time. Derrick can't believe she is only seventeen and takes on a moral battle when he can't get her out of his mind. How will he ever forgive her when he finds out the real reason she's there?

Erica knows she is putting the case at risk by getting too involved. And when she spots a gang allegiance tattoo on Derrick's wrist, she'll have to decide if her career and avenging her sisters death is more important than love.

Undercover (novella) -  available in digital formats at the following places: Amazon.comAll Romance e-books and Smashwords.

Print version - coming soon.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Book Signing

Visit me October 8th from noon to 3:00 pm at the Clermont County Public Library - Owensville Branch. Books will be available for purchase. Those who already have their  book are welcome to bring them in to be signed.

2548 U.S. Route 50
Owensville, OH 45160
http://www.clermontlibrary.org/locationoe.shtml

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cheerleader or Nerd - Wacky Wednesday

By Joelene Coleman

I went to a parade Saturday to watch my granddaughter on a float (I hate parades in general. Grandchildren force you to do things you don't like). I watched the marching bands stroll by, followed by the cheerleaders jumping and whooping behind. My "Wacky Wednesday" topic presented itself, unfortunately, taking another embarrassing page from my life. From age 13 to 17, I lived through various stages of "nerdiness." However, this event at age 15 placed me at "Mega Nerd."

I always wanted to be a cheerleader - wear the cute little outfits on game day, and shake my "pom-poms." Cheerleaders got excused from school for away games, rode the team bus with the players, and always got the cute guys. Boys always wanted to date a cheerleader. It was like an ultimate code of acceptance from the other male chromosomes if your girlfriend was one. I wanted to be "that girl" who dated "that guy" and was naïve enough to think I had a chance.

I signed up for tryouts. A few things became immediately clear that I hadn't given a second thought to. Besides coming up with my own cheer and making a costume, I'd have to pull off some amazing spine damaging entrance and exit stunts. In front of the student body. Piece of cake? My brain had been abducted by my hormones. All I could see was me and the Quarterback cuddling under the bleachers, me wearing his letterman jacket and his class ring dangling on a chain close to my heart. Yeah, I could do this.

I wish my brain blocked this traumatic memory, because my road to becoming a cheerleader proved disastrous. I came up with my 4-liner masterpiece of prose, destined to wow the judges. Made my pom-poms. But my outfit? Oh dear Lord! My girlfriend and I picked a pattern for a cutesy one piece jumper thing, but her mother helped her. My mom didn't sew so my jumper bulged in the wrong places and the seam down my backside wanted to tuck between my "cheeks."

Every day I practiced in the back yard on the soft grass. I had cartwheels down, round-offs perfected, and ten years of ballet and contortionist gymnastics insured I could do the splits. The one thing I couldn't master was a backward flip. I tried repeatedly, but something about thrusting my body backward onto palms facing an unnatural direction, then propelling my legs over my head and landing in a soft bounce on the balls of my feet, proved impossible. I fell sideways, rolled into an overdramatized summersault, but never an actual handspring.

Two days before tryouts and still, no flip. I adjusted my routine to add a couple extra round-offs, hoping no one kept count. "D-day" arrived and I spent most the day inside the girls' bathroom. When 3:30 rolled around, I felt weak. But there was no copping out. I lined up in the locker room to get my number pinned on my back, just above the "wedgy line." I watched the contestants before me, taking mental notes on what worked, volume, and how many back flips. Everyone, including my girlfriend, managed at least one off. Well hell.

The girl right before me did four back flips for her entrance! The crowd loved her! I felt a trickle of sweat scurry between my breasts and my breath lodge in my throat. Of course she had to wow the crowd with a fantabulous exit, too! My cartwheels and round-offs would prove lackluster, if not downright hilarious. My name was called. It all went downhill from there.

I ran enthusiastically from the gym door, noting the blue tape where I was to begin the "wow factor." The wedgy tightened and I fought to not run knock-kneed, reminding myself the crowd would not see my backside. I tossed my pom-poms and performed a perfect round-off the minute my toe edged the blue mark. Points earned. A couple of cartwheels landed me square on the next mark. Another plus. I vaguely remember doing my cheer, because when I gathered my fluffs of crepe paper and turned, panic ensued. The crowd was much larger than I anticipated, and behind the panel of judges sat the football team. The Quarterback. On the bench beside him, the jacket, on his finger, the class ring. I had no choice. If I wanted an inkling of a chance at winning my prize, I'd have to do a back flip - one where I'd end in the splits.

I started my descent. Life unfolded in slow motion. Two round-offs executed with precision, and then…my back arched in a tight curve. Hands slapped the polished hardwood angled enough to support my weight or break my wrists if things went awry. I studied the wood grain of the slats, feeling my legs leave solid ground; my wedgy exposed and tucked even tighter in fear. When both appendages lined up over head, I felt my shorts slip! Holy crap! My underwear was exposed!! (Did I wear good ones?) Seconds felt like hours before my toes eased onto the floor and my body propelled upright, ponytail swinging over my red face. Immediately, I pushed my leg forward into the splits, but I'd landed wrong. My left foot was forward more so than my right and I couldn't shuffle. My legs spread and the force of my body coming out of the flip slammed me against the floor. Any chance of having children in the future disappeared. A searing pain radiated up my leg and I cried out…luckily covering the sound of the "fart."
I didn't make it to the final round. My prize? A pulled ligament, not the Quarterback. However, I did pull off my one and only back flip, even if I split my shorts in the process. The upside to my downfall? I still got the letterman jacket and class ring, only it ended up being from the captain of the tennis team, not the football team, but proved a better prize all around. He did confess after several months of dating, it was my exposed pink panties that won his heart that day. I never asked if he heard the fart. It didn't matter. He like me anyway. Wedgy and all.

So why share this embarrassing moment from the page of my life? Because life is a "blackboard"…always another lesson being scribbled across it and once we pass the pop quiz, erased and ready for the next. Trying out for cheerleader was my first attempt at stepping out of my "comfort zone" and doing something really scary. I'm very shy (I know, shocker to most of you). But I discovered when I wanted something bad enough, I was willing to go up against the fear. Each time we stretch beyond our limits, we grow. All my shortcomings, embarrassing moments, and shining achievements have shaped who I am. (I'd like to believe it's the "shining moments" that tipped the scales and shoved me out of a Size 4).

Tell us about a time you stepped out of your comfort zone. Was it to get a boys attention or was it the first time you let someone read something you'd written? Was it an embarrassing moment or a shining success?

Thanks, Joelene, for sharing your wonderful sense of humor with us. To check out other hilarious Wacky Wednesday posts visit Joelene at http://www.jcolemanauthor.blogspot.com/.

Joelene Coleman writes young adult as Harley Brooks
"Untangling superheroes from their capes."
Joelene creates journeys of discovery, inspired by all the "first times" of youthful innocence. She loves writing in the young adult romance genre because in her mind, she is still seventeen and think boys are hot!

When she needs to escape life, Joelene jumps on her Harley Davidson in search of her new muse. She doesn't believe in "I can't," and has stepped so far out of her "box," she has no idea where it is anymore. Besides, she's never been comfortable with square - she prefers round...."give what you can and the good will come back to you. Here's "winking" at you!"

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What Now?

Can you believe a month has come and gone since my debut release, Two Brothers, hit the stores? Okay, maybe you can, but for me it has been an amazing five weeks that flew by, setting a speed record all its own.

Last week, with the hype of the first few days and weeks having waned, it hit me that somewhere, someone I’ve never met could be reading MY book. It was a breathless moment for me, a humbling one.

I am amazed every time I get an e-mail from someone saying they read my book and loved it. “Couldn’t put it down,” are my new favorite words to hear. And while I will never get tired of hearing people's thoughts on Two Brothers, I also know it is time for me to get my butt back in the writing chair.

Before we do that, here are some of the best moments of the past month:

For almost two weeks straight, I sat in the number one spot for bestselling suspense e-book on All Romance E-books.

I stumbled upon a review blog, where another book was being reviewed, and in the comments section a lady mentions Two Brothers as one where the characters stuck with her for days after reading.

Holding the actual book in my hands.

My family and friends have gone out of their way to make me feel like a celebrity and are actively pimping me out to just about everyone they meet. Co-workers are bringing the book into the office and asking me to sign. This just tickles me.

These are the things that take me by surprise, that make me go WOW. These are the things that a writer, this writer anyway, dreams about, but doesn’t expect to have happen until they hit the level of Nora Roberts. I am grateful to everyone who has so openly shared their enjoyment of the story.

So, what now? What is in the works?

The novella I’m working on, Undercover, is coming along nicely. I hope to have it finished by the end of September and it should be available sometime the first part of November. This is a story about a female police officer sent to high school as a student to bring down drug dealers and about finding love when you least expect it.

Once Undercover is complete, I will begin edits on The Daughter, which is scheduled for release January 2012. From there, I'll move on to book three, Emotional Warfare, which is in draft form and needs to be polished. Or as I like to say, I have it sketched out and now all I need to do is fill in the color.

And to think, the journey has just begun.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

It's Here - Two Brothers is Now Available

I'm super excited to announce that Two Brothers is now available. This is the day I've been waiting for. I'm surprised at how quickly the time went by, but they do say time flies when you're having fun. And it has been both fun and nerve wracking.

To purchase follow this link: http://www.turquoisemorningpressbookstore.com/

I read the words to Jason Aldean's song Tattoes On This Town. It speaks to the heart of my story, talking about small town life and everything we learned living there. So, I've included a small portion of the song. 

We laid a lot of memories down,
Like tattoos on this town.

There’s still a rope burn on that oak branch,
That hangs over the river, I still got the scar,
From swingin’ out a little too far,
There ain’t a corner of this hallowed ground,
That we ain’t laughed or cried on,
It’s where we loved, lived and learned real life stuff,
It’s everything we’re made of.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Final Excerpt - Two Brothers

Book blurb:
At eighteen, Amanda Riley got her first lesson in love when Jacob Henderson broke her heart. But then she made the biggest mistake of her life – she ran off and married his younger brother.

Ten years later, she’s divorced and moving back to her small hometown. She’s made a name for herself in the cutting horse industry. That should count for something… Right? But decade old mistakes won’t be easily forgotten by everyone in town.

When Amanda and Jacob are thrown together to help an abused horse, old desires ignite and past truths are revealed. And just when they think they’ll get a second chance at love, the younger brother comes home.

Excerpt:
Saturday morning Amanda was up and on the road at dawn. The rain had stopped sometime during the night and the sun struggled to break through the thick clouds blanketing the sky. The weatherman predicted a warm and sunny day.

She passed by the Henderson farm and promised herself she’d work up the nerve to stop later to put in an order for hay.

Jacob’s house came into view and she remembered well the morning she’d left his house with her whole world turned up side down. She’d gone to him the night of her eighteenth birthday, determined to make him see her as a woman, not Matt’s little sister. She offered herself to him—heart, body and soul. He’d taken what she offered, never hesitated, and then afterwards told her it shouldn’t have happened. He’d told her to go home, scolding her like a child. She’d cried all the way home and then left town with his brother the next day.

The thoughts were inevitable. It had been a major turning point in her life. That night changed her and made her world less secure. She’d grown up. She knew eventually that she would be able to drive past his house without memories and sadness bombarding her.

As luck would have it, Jacob sat at the end of the driveway in his black pickup truck and waited for her to pass. She raised her hand in a half wave, which he ignored. She fought the urge to flip him the middle finger.

At her place, Amanda parked the car. Grabbing the cooler she’d filled with ice and bottled water, she headed for the house. She set the cooler just inside the side entrance, which served as a combined mud room/laundry room, adjacent to the kitchen. She’d made the decision, for better or worse, to keep the old refrigerator and stove the Ellison’s had left behind. They were easily twenty years old, but they worked and saved her money.

She made a quick run through the house flipping switches and smiling as light filled the rooms. She’d need light bulbs. The faucets squeaked and the pipes shuttered as water rushed forward bringing rust water before running clean. She added air freshener to her mental list to rid the rooms of the stuffy, unlived-in smell.

Satisfied with the house, she headed out to the barn to start stripping down the stalls. She made yet another mental note to stop by the feed mill and see if they could deliver shavings and feed next weekend.

Sweat rolled down the hollow of her back by late morning. She lost count of how many wheelbarrows of manure she’d hauled out of the barn, but her muscles ached with the strain. Her stomach grumbled and refused to be ignored any longer. She washed up at the kitchen sink and dried her hands on the legs of her jeans. Paper towels, toilet paper. She grabbed a pen and paper from her purse and made a list of items she would need.

First stop, the Henderson’s. Pride kept her from buying hay from another farmer. She knew the quality of the hay and while their families weren’t close anymore, she wouldn’t be forced to give her horses a lesser quality hay just to avoid the Hendersons.

She was here to stay and they all had to deal with the fact they’d run into each other now and then. Frank Henderson didn’t seem to have a problem with her, even if Jacob did, and she didn’t have a clue what Jacob’s mother, Grace, thought.

The shop doors stood wide open when Amanda pulled in at the main farm. She parked beside two trucks, one of them Jacob’s, and wished she had access to her truck. Maybe she’d rent a truck for next weekend.

Frank greeted her at the door. “Hey, Amanda.” He hugged her, catching her off guard. “Rumor has it you’re moving home, bought old Ellison’s place. Congratulations.”

“Thank you.” She spotted Jacob standing at the workbench, wiping grease off his hands. “Hello, Jacob.” She forced a smile onto her lips when he didn’t respond and his frown deepened. Never let them see you hurt. She’d used the same motto with Timothy and her father.

“I suppose you want to talk about the hundred acres we rent from Ellison.” Frank turned back into the shop and Amanda followed. “We’ve got soybeans planted for this year. We hope that won’t be a problem.”

“Not at all. I didn’t realize you rented ground from Ellison, but I don’t see any reason to change things.” She stood with her thumbs hooked into the back pockets of her jeans.

“We pay Ellison fifty bucks an acre. We won’t pay more than that,” Jacob stated sharply, refusing to acknowledge the warning look from his father. A truck pulled up outside the open garage doors, but the driver didn’t get out.

“Not a problem, Jacob. I stopped to put in an order for hay. I assume you’ll sell me hay for less than fifty bucks a bale.” Sarcasm dripped from her words in defense against his arrogance.

“Of course,” Frank interjected mildly and cast a pointed look at Jacob that said ‘be nice.’ “Jacob will get you all set up.” He excused himself to see to the passenger of the truck.

“I’m not sure what you have available from last year or your first cut. In three weeks, I’ll need about a hundred bales of hay.” His relentless stare unnerved her, but she managed to keep her gaze steady on his.

“We can manage that. Its four bucks a bale. It’s good hay.”

“I have no doubt. I’m going to need around six hundred alfalfa/clover bales every year, maybe more. I prefer them from the second cut. Any chance I can get on the list for this year?” She turned out her ankles then straightened them, never taking her eyes off his.

“Not a problem.” He took down a hardbound journal from a cabinet over the workbench, wrote down her information and then shoved the book back in place. “Consider it done.” He crossed his arms over his chest. Distracted by the corded muscles bulking around the band of his shirt sleeves, it took her a minute to realize he was dismissing her. What had she expected? And he was right, why pretend?

She turned and made it to the door before he spoke. “Amanda.”

She used to love the sound of her name on his lips, when it had been delivered without the bitterness she detected now. She closed her eyes for a brief second before turning back to face him.

“I’m sorry for the way I treated you at the wedding.” Even though a muscle jumped along his jaw, the words were spoken quietly and honestly.

She saw pain and anger in his ravaging blue eyes before he cast them down. Her heart broke for him. He’d been a part of her life forever and at one time, she’d considered him a friend.

“Thank you.” She wanted to give him comfort, give him something in return, but had little to offer. “I’m sorry, too. About Timothy. If I could change things, I would.”

He didn’t look up to meet her eyes, so she left him staring at his boots.

Thank you for joining me this month. I hope you've enjoyed the excerpts.Two Brothers is scheduled to be released August 1, 2011. Please check back here or my website: http://www.christinawolfer.com/ for the most updated information.

Monday, July 18, 2011

3rd Excerpt - Two Brothers

Book blurb:
At eighteen, Amanda Riley got her first lesson in love when Jacob Henderson broke her heart. But then she made the biggest mistake of her life – she ran off and married his younger brother.

Ten years later, she’s divorced and moving back to her small hometown. She’s made a name for herself in the cutting horse industry. That should count for something… Right? But decade old mistakes won’t be easily forgotten by everyone in town.

When Amanda and Jacob are thrown together to help an abused horse, old desires ignite and past truths are revealed. And just when they think they’ll get a second chance at love, the younger brother comes home.

Excerpt:
The late morning sun slanted though the window, across the bed and pierced the back of Amanda’s eyelids. She rolled away from the light and snuggled deeper beneath the covers. The fresh scent of the fabric softener her mother had used for years brought back sweet memories of childhood.

She stretched, pushed her legs out toward the end of the bed and then tucked them back up into a fetal position. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d slept past six in the morning. Back in Arizona, she’d be in the stables by now, the horses fed and the stalls mucked. Then again, she didn’t make a habit of staying up until two o’clock in the morning either.

After her dance with Mr. Henderson, she’d returned to her table of friends and did her best to push Jacob out of her thoughts. Once the girls realized she would not satisfy their curiosity as to what had been said between her and Jacob, they continued as they’d been. She’d done her best to get back in the spirit of the party, but the confrontation with Jacob acted like a wet blanket, snuffing out the fire.

She let her thoughts drift to him now. She’d never loved anyone the way she’d loved Jacob. He’d been her first crush and her first love. And she’d been so certain she would marry him one day. A teenager’s fantasy.

His shoulders were as broad and tightly muscled as she remembered. His dark hair and deep tan enhanced the cobalt blue of his eyes. A rugged face made more handsome in spite of or because of the fine lines that fanned out around the corners of his eyes.

She’d forgotten how tall he was, how well she fit in his arms. Her height matched well to his six-two frame, ripped with muscle from years of work on the family farm. His musky scent brought back vivid memories of a night spent between his sheets where the smell had surrounded and clung to her.

She closed her eyes against the pain those memories brought, surprised at how raw and fresh the hurt could be. First love left scars that never quite healed.

Distraction came in the form of Emily who burst through the door and jumped onto the bed. “Wake up sleepyhead.”

“I’m awake.” Amanda groaned. “Why are you here so early?”

“It’s after ten, lazy butt.”

The smell of bacon and coffee wafted through the open door, enticing her to get up. She didn’t budge.

“So, did you consummate the marriage?” Amanda giggled into her pillow.

“Oh God, yesss. He…”

“Okay, okay, don’t want to know.” She help up her hands.

They laughed.

Amanda felt a sudden onslaught of emotion at her sister’s obvious happiness. “I didn’t get a chance to tell you how beautiful you looked last night.”

“I could see it in your eyes.” Emily smiled and then gave a short laugh of disbelief. “You aren’t going to cry, are you?”

“No. I never cry.” Amanda twisted her face in disgust. “I know I’ve said it a million times, but thanks for understanding why I didn’t want to be in the wedding.”

“No problem. You would have been a distraction. The whole town would have been more interested in you than the wedding.”

“That’s a little extreme.”

“I’m just glad you were with me on my special day.” Emily settled in cross-legged on the bed. “Before we head down, you have to tell me what happened last night with Jacob. And don’t play dumb.” She pointed a manicured finger to stop the denial.

“I’m not sure, Em. He asked me to dance and then looked shocked to find me in his arms. He acted weird. I know he blames me for Timothy leaving town, but nobody forced him to dance with me.” She never understood the blame, but then she hadn’t ever really understood Jacob. If she had, she wouldn’t have thrown herself at him the way she had. She’d misread his signals and made a fool of herself. “Why the hell did he ask me to dance?”

“I don’t understand why he blames you for choices Timothy’s made.”

“Everyone blames someone when they hurt. I guess it’s easier than facing the truth.”

“What did he say to you?”

“He asked me about Timothy. About where he is and why he never came home.”

“Did you tell him?”

“I told him it was his brother’s choice to leave and his to never come back.”

“I don’t understand you, Amanda. I don’t know why you don’t just tell Jacob and the Hendersons what an ass Timothy turned out to be.”

“The truth would only hurt them and I don’t see a reason to do that. It doesn’t matter what they think of me.” She’d seen the pain in their eyes when, year after year, she’d come home and Timothy didn’t. She’d heard it in their voices when they’d call and Timothy wouldn’t come to the phone. To tell them the truth now would only add unnecessary hurt. “You haven’t told mom or anyone, have you?”

“No, of course not. You asked me not to.” Emily crossed her arms over chest.

“I’m sorry, Em. I should have known you wouldn’t.”

“Yes, you should. You didn’t deserve to get hurt, you know?”

“Yes, I know that, but I married him, so I had to deal with the consequences of my actions.” She said it with a taste of bitterness in her mouth for it was what her father had preached. There were consequences for every action. She’d lived with her choices.

“Come on girls, breakfast,” Adeline called up the stairs.

“I’ll be down in a sec,” Amanda said to Emily as she left the room.

Stretching her arms, Amanda yawned and rolled to her side. Her old room held reminders of the girl she’d been. Statues of horses, trophies and ribbons from the fair mixed in among pink flowers and frilly ruffles. A faded picture stuck out from the corner of the mirror. In the picture, she, Amy and Kimmie stood with their arms wrapped around each other. Big innocent smiles split their faces and their eyes danced free from the worries that the world would one day bring.

Horses still dominated her life. She didn’t win little plastic trophies anymore, but she thrived on the thrill of competition and winning. Somehow, despite the past ten years, bits and pieces of the girl remained.

She lounged a few minutes longer and then climbed from beneath the covers. She found an old pair of knee-length sweatpants and a white tee shirt she’d left behind. The sweatpants clung to her thighs and butt like a second skin, but they fit. She pulled the tee shirt in every direction possible in an effort to give herself room to breathe. They’d have to do until the airlines called with her luggage. She didn’t hold out much hope they’d call on a Sunday. With her luck, they’d find her bags Tuesday when she headed back to Arizona.

At the bedroom door, she stopped and glanced sideways out of the second story window. The little red barn out back stood empty, the fence gone. They’d sold the horses the year after she left, with her knowledge of course, but she’d hated to let them go. She’d wanted to beg her parents to keep the horses a little while longer, but knew she couldn’t ask. By that time, her father had made it clear he wanted nothing to do with her anymore.

Her love for horses had started at an early age and her father encouraged her love. He’d spent so many Saturday’s hauling her and her horse to riding lessons and shows. He’d bought cows when they’d fallen in love with the style and art of the cutting horse. He’d been the first to recognize her talent and always said, “God gave each of us talents and our thanks to Him is to make the most of that talent.” She understood now.

There hadn’t been a day she didn’t think about home, about what she’d left behind. She hadn’t planned to stay away or to marry Timothy. But every time she’d talked to him about home, he’d acted as if she’d destroy his world if she left. He’d said he loved her and at first he’d made her feel special, desired. He’d promised to take care of her. The opposite of what Jacob had made her feel that fateful night.

She’d loved Timothy as a friend and convinced herself that they could make their marriage work. And if he would have followed through on a single promise, she believed they could have. She thought they’d been happy despite her terrible homesickness and struggle to make ends meet. He’d been charming and knew how to make her laugh. He’d spin big tales about the life ahead of them, the house they would someday own, yet things began to unravel after the first year.

He took their rent money to gamble with, claimed he would hit it big and all their problems would go away. When the money didn’t roll in right away, he got frustrated and began to drink when he gambled. She took a second job and managed to keep them in a cheap two-room apartment.

In the third year, he’d bullied her into taking a job at a strip club, said with her looks she’d make more money than any of those bimbos. That had lasted only a few months, when after a day at the casino and a night at the strip club, she'd come home at three in the morning to find one of those bimbos in her bed.

Looking back now, she couldn’t believe she’d stayed, and humiliated herself in the process. He’d apologized and made more promises. She’d wanted to believe they could make their marriage work. She’d been afraid to fail. In the end, after five years, he’d left her.

She’d failed anyway.

In the process she’d accumulated a few additional blunders that, in comparison, made running away and marrying the wrong man look tame.

It all turned out okay, she told herself, and released a shaky breath. The past was the past and she had plans for the future, ones she needed to share with her family. With everyone gathered downstairs, she wouldn’t find a better time to tell them.

I hope you've enjoyed this excerpt and will check back next Monday for the 4th and final excerpt. Two Brothers is scheduled for release August 1st.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

2nd Excerpt - Two Brothers

Book Blurb:
At eighteen, Amanda Riley got her first lesson in love when Jacob Henderson broke her heart. But then she made the biggest mistake of her life – she ran off and married his younger brother.

Ten years later, she’s divorced and moving back to her small hometown. She’s made a name for herself in the cutting horse industry. That should count for something… Right? But decade old mistakes won’t be easily forgotten by everyone in town.

When Amanda and Jacob are thrown together to help an abused horse, old desires ignite and past truths are revealed. And just when they think they’ll get a second chance at love, the younger brother comes home.

Excerpt:
Jacob Henderson sat with his date, Maggie, and his parents, but found it difficult to keep from tracking Amanda’s movement around the room. When she stood in the doorway with Matt, he’d seen the tenderness on her face and wondered if she had regrets about her own wedding day.

He took the opportunity to linger over her long, lean body, paying close attention to each and every curve. She’d always been beautiful, but with maturity had come another kind of beauty which made her alluring and untouchable. He wondered if freckles still played across her nose and cheeks, and along the top of her slender shoulders.

Peals of laughter erupted from where Amanda now sat with her friends at a table across the room. He thought about all the times he’d seen them like this. The last time had been on her eighteenth birthday. His heart stabbed against his chest, a warning to stay away from those memories. When he’d been younger, he’d roll his eyes and acted like they were too silly to spend time with. Secretly, he’d been intrigued by their nonstop chatter and giggling. He’d wanted to know what they talked about all the time.

“Excuse me,” Maggie said as she stood and maneuvered between Jacob’s chair and the one behind him. “I’m going to go talk to Mrs. Weaver.” She leaned over, kissed his cheek and then grabbed his and his parent’s empty plates as she went. Nice job Henderson, he thought, not a good idea to ignore your date.

Jacob and Maggie had dated off and on for three years. He knew he should make things permanent between them, but just hadn’t taken the action to make it happen. There was always a good reason, although at the moment he couldn’t remember a one of them.

At thirty-three, he’d expected marriage and children by now. Weddings had a way of reminding him of this particular failure. As a third generation farmer, he’d yet to produce the next generation. If he didn’t have children, there would be no family left to leave the farm he owned and operated with his father.

And he wanted a family. It’s all he’d ever really wanted. Ten years ago, he’d thought his life would be with Amanda. He’d believed they’d have children together—five or six if she’d been able. He’d gotten it in his head they’d grow old together, but things—Amanda—hadn’t turned out the way he’d thought. When she’d disappeared from his life, his plans for the future vanished.

But a chance at a good life with Maggie stared him in the face. She worked as a kindergarten teacher and would be a good mother. He couldn’t ask for a more solid and loyal friend. So what held him back? Why wait? Maggie would make him a good wife.

He didn’t want to think that Amanda was the reason he hadn’t moved forward. His feelings for her had died years ago, right? So why avoid her? What was he afraid of? If anything, he should be pushing her for answers to the whereabouts of his brother.

He shoved to his feet. His chair slammed into the one behind him, startling his parents from their conversation with the Lewis’. He apologized, excused himself and headed straight for Amanda.

He’d prove he wasn’t afraid of her. That she was not the reason he’d never married Maggie. She held little interest to him other than what she might know about his brother.

One by one, the group of girls who hovered around the table began to zero in on his approach. Conversation began to falter and Amanda turned to see what had captured their attention. Those big green eyes of hers travelled up the length of him and rounded with surprise when she realized he was heading straight for her.

He starred into her eyes and felt as if he’d stepped into quicksand.

She hesitated, but stood to face him. “Jacob.” Her eyes darted off to the side.

“Would you like to dance?” He squared his shoulders.

Confusion creased her brow. “Sure.”

He led her onto the dance floor and took her into his arms. The DJ played another slow country song, but he didn’t hear the music. His heart pounded frantically, thumping in his ears and drowning out all other sound. The hand holding hers felt damp. The one resting along the swell of her hip felt too comfortable there. Heat burned his fingers. Her hair smelled of honeysuckle and resurrected the image of her standing in his bedroom doorway, her long dark hair splayed across her bare breasts. His body reacted to the memory, just as it had then, years ago.

For the past ten years he’d stayed out of her way when she came home. When that hadn’t been possible, they seemed to mutually ignore each other. Even though he’d set out with this purpose in mind, it now seemed odd to have her in his arms. She fit so well there and he wanted to pull her closer.

His eyes locked onto hers and the fog emptied from his mind. It was clear he’d failed his own stupid test. What the hell was he thinking?

She must have sensed the change in him because she attempted to step back. He knew he should let her go, but he didn’t. He saw the hurt drift across her face before she looked away. What the hell did she have to hurt over?

He’d lost both his hopes for the future and his best friend, her brother Matt. She’d turned Timothy against his own family and pitted their families against each other. He had a right to his anger and hurt. She didn’t.

“You owe me some answers. I should have asked for them years ago.” Her body stiffened and she stopped dancing. “Where’s Timothy? Why hasn’t he come home?” he asked.

“I don’t know.” She shrugged her shoulders and tried to step away from him.

He gripped her upper arms, fighting the urge to shake her. “How can you not know? You were married to him.”

“We’ve been divorced for five years.”

“You expect me to believe you haven’t heard from him since?”

“Believe what you want, Jacob.” She twisted her arms seeking relief from his grip.

“It’s your fault he left. Your fault he never came back.”

“Good, then you have your answers, don’t you?” she flung the words at him. Her eyes flared with emotion. Again, she tried to step away.

He tightened his grip. “What did you do to him? Cheat on him? Break his heart?” He could feel the heat rise into his face at her callous disregard for his brother’s feelings. He didn’t know this cold hearted bitch? How could he have ever thought he cared about her?

“He walked out on me, Jacob. It was his choice.”

“That’s what you say, but he’s not here for us to ask, is he?”

“Again, his choice.” Jacob’s grip tightened further when she attempted to jerk free. “Get your hands off me before I cause a scene.” Her eyes never wavered from his face. Anger dripped from every word she spoke.

“Excuse me.” Frank Henderson stepped in and laid a hand on Jacob’s arm. “Son, I think you need to sit down or leave.” Jacob heard the warning in his father’s voice and dropped his hands. Red marks encased her slender arms. Shame slithered and tightened his gut.

He turned on his heel and left as if hell itself chased him out the door.

Check back next Monday for another excerpt. Two Brothers will be available in August 2011. I love getting comments, so please feel free to leave one. Please be sure to check out the 2011 Summer Reading Trail by clicking the link at the top of the page.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Excerpt from Two Brothers

Book Blurb:
At eighteen, Amanda Riley got her first lesson in love when Jacob Henderson broke her heart. But then she made the biggest mistake of her life – she ran off and married his younger brother.

Ten years later, she’s divorced and moving back to her small hometown. She’s made a name for herself in the cutting horse industry. That should count for something… Right? But decade old mistakes won’t be easily forgotten by everyone in town.

When Amanda and Jacob are thrown together to help an abused horse, old desires ignite and past truths are revealed. And just when they think they’ll get a second chance at love, the younger brother comes home.

Excerpt:
Amanda Riley slammed out of the compact rental car, hit the lock button on her key and made a half-block mad dash to the church. The wedding march had already started. Canon in D floated like a soft breeze through the organ flues and out the rafters.

“Geez,” she muttered, taking the steps to the entrance of the old, Catholic Church two at time. She’d never hear the end of it. Her sheep’s wool couldn’t get any blacker with the last white hair plucked from her hide years ago. But all the same, she hated to give them cause.

It was the perfect country white church, really, the kind women dream of getting married in. It stood in the heart of the community as a symbol of the small farming town’s love for family, neighbor and God. The steeple peeked above the century-old trees that flanked both sides of the entrance to the church like guardian angels. Magnificent stained glass windows stood four feet tall and ran the length of the old building, each window inscribed in loving memory of a deceased member of the congregation.

The large double wood doors stood open to welcome all. Amanda hesitated there as if expecting lightening to strike. Pulling air deep into her lungs and then letting it out with controlled ease, she stepped just inside entrance. She flexed her hands, gave herself a mental shake and approached the back pew. She motioned with her hand to the silver-haired man sitting there, asking without words if she could sit beside him. He frowned, the lines cutting deeper around his pursed lips, but he slid down the glossy wood pew to accommodate her late arrival. Out of habit, she genuflected and then took her seat.

She shifted her focus to the front of the church where her little sister, Emily, dressed in a full southern belle white dress, stood beside her soon-to-be husband, Todd, decked out in a long-tailed black tux. Behind them, candles sparkled like diamonds and white orchids adorned every available space on the altar. The priest, with his long, silk green-and-white robe, made the sign of the cross over the couple and blessed them. The cloud of incense hung above the congregation like a spicy perfume applied with a generous hand.

Amanda’s sister had dreamt of and wished for this day since she’d been a little girl. What woman didn’t? If anyone deserved a day like this, Emily did. She’d done everything right. She’d gotten her nursing degree, worked for a year after graduation and dated the same guy through it all. It didn’t hurt that she’d picked the right guy.

Not that Amanda knew anything about that. She straightened the yellow gingham blouse she wore tucked into snug fitted Wranglers, along with her scuffed boots. Her clothes weren’t appropriate for a wedding, even in a backwoods town like Bedinford, Ohio. Her chin lifted a notch and she squared her shoulders. Let them talk. Let them speculate.

They couldn’t possibly say anything her father hadn’t already said about her. Amanda leaned out into the aisle. Peeking around the sea of bodies, she caught sight of her father’s head of dark hair, now sprinkled with gray. Daniel Riley’s tall, lean, muscled build had softened some over the years, but he remained unyielding, in more ways than one, for a man who would see sixty-five by the end of the year.

Thirty-some years ago, he’d been something of a town hero when he opened the only dentist office within miles of the community. Most people had given up going to the dentist altogether rather than drive thirty miles out of town. But her father had a way with people and his reputation for having a gentle touch spread like gossip. Now he had a loyal following, old and young alike. Even the opening of two other dentist offices over the last five years had done little to affect his bottom line.

Everyone loved him, Amanda thought, as she dropped to her knees along with the rest of the congregation. The traditions came back to her with ease even though she hadn’t attended mass in years. She stood when everyone stood, knelt when they knelt, however, when it came time to receive communion she did not partake. She caught glimpses of other family members as they filed out of their pews, took the host, then circled back to their seats.

Her brother, Matt, held his three-year-old daughter, Tabitha, who squirmed and pushed in an effort to get down. Her behavior drew looks of disapproval from the older generation who already believed their descendants didn’t have a clue how to discipline their children. Matt’s wife, Natalie, whose belly bulged like an overinflated beach ball with their second child, sent a stern look at the little girl. Tabitha responded with an equally stern look then buried her face in her daddy’s neck.

After communion, everyone sat in silent prayer. Amanda watched Tabitha pull and tug until she stood at the end of the pew, one foot strategically placed in the center aisle. She made faces at anyone willing to make eye contact. Several times she tried to step further into the aisle but Matt’s firm hand stopped her. Then, she spotted Amanda watching her and her squeal pierced the reverent silence. People jumped, startled from prayer, and heads turned in the direction of the commotion.

The outburst caught Matt off guard, giving Tabitha the chance to break free and tear down the aisle. The yellow and white ruffled dress she wore bounced around her chubby legs. “A’mda,” she squealed again. Everyone watched the little girl’s progress into Amanda’s open arms.

Heat leapt into Amanda’s cheeks as she latched onto her niece and lifted her with shaky arms, like a shield against the stares aimed in their direction. She glanced up to apologize for the interruption and her eyes collided with those of Jacob Henderson.

A bolt of lightening couldn’t have delivered a more jarring effect on her heart. She swallowed past the sudden dryness in her throat and tore her eyes free from the disturbing blue of his. Holy moly! From the look Jacob had just given her, one would think she was the devil herself, caught in the act of snatching souls right from under his nose.

The priest stood, cleared his throat to gain everyone’s attention, and then continued with the wedding mass.

Amanda let out the breath she hadn’t been aware of holding. “Thanks a lot,” she whispered to Tabitha and then kissed her ruby little cheek.

“Oooh, necklace.” Tabitha’s round, tiny fingers touched the silver cross, then wrapped around the thin chain latched around Amanda’s neck. With her niece distracted, Amanda’s eyes drifted back to Jacob.

He looked good. Tall and solid with his dress shirt pulled snug over the breadth of his squared shoulders. Working the land his entire life kept him fit and strong. At six-foot-two, he was an impressive sight. His thick, almost black hair hadn’t lost its natural wave despite the close cut he maintained.

She closed her eyes and, for a moment, remembered his smile. The way his full lips tipped shyly at an angle, softening the hard angles of his face. How his eyes sparkled like the sun reflecting off of water when his smile reached his eyes. She remembered the feel of his mouth against hers, the mix of soft and hard, the taste. Oh God, how she remembered the taste of him.

Her eyes flew open as she jerked back from her thoughts and memories. Her ex-brother-in-law wouldn’t appreciate her keen observation of his fine looks or the memory of his kiss. If anything, he’d find it offensive that the thoughts even entered her mind. After all, they sat in the house of the Lord and she’d been married to his younger brother.

Shame on me.

Tabitha gave a sturdy yank on the necklace pulling Amanda’s attention back. She crossed her eyes at her niece, getting the expected giggle, and distracting her long enough to rescue the chain from tiny fingers. God, she’d changed so much in a short amount of time.

Amanda’s last visit home had been four months ago, but it felt like an eternity. It always did. She belonged here. She knew that when she left ten years ago, had known it all her life. And today was no exception as she sat in the very church where she’d been baptized, taken first communion, and had hoped to one day get married. Everything she’d known and everything she’d ever wanted resided in Bedinford.

It was time to come home.

The priest pronounced the couple husband and wife. “You may kiss the bride.” He then turned them to face the congregation. “Ladies and Gentleman, I give you Mr. and Mrs. Todd Meham.”

The happy couple made their way down the aisle. Emily spotted Amanda and their smiles widened and they high-fived each other as Emily passed. Amanda laughed even as emotion swamped her and her eyes filled with tears.

The parents of the bride and groom followed with immediate family members close on their heels. Matt tugged Amanda and Tabitha into the aisle to exit with him and Natalie. He draped his arm comfortably around her shoulders as they stepped into the bright, sunny April afternoon. Spring was in the air, giving promise to new beginnings.

Tabitha squirmed until Amanda set her on her feet, but she didn’t get far before Natalie grabbed hold of her. “You stay with me,” she said, then flashed a smile at Amanda. “And this is with no sugar. I wish I had her energy.”

“We saved you a seat. Did you miss much?” Matt asked.

Ah and there it was; the hint of disapproval that always showed up soon after her arrival in town. Coming from Matt was a bit of a surprise, but then showing up late for her sister’s wedding was pretty offensive, even for her. But it wasn’t completely her fault. “I missed the wedding march by seconds.”

They descended the steps to where her parents waited. The bride and groom had been whisked away to enter the church from a side hall where they would set up for pictures.

“Hi, Mom.” Amanda hugged the small woman, the rock of their family.

“I’m glad you called to let us know about the delay.” Adeline patted Amanda’s cheek and smiled.

Amanda stepped back. “Hi, Dad.” Her jaws clenched and she ignored the flicker of pain in her chest.

“Late for your own sister’s wedding.” Daniel shook his head. “Couldn’t you have at least put on a dress, for Christ’s sake?”

She resisted the urge to run a hand over her blouse to smooth the wrinkles. “I can’t control the airlines, Dad. Or the fact that they lost my luggage.”

“Maybe you should have come in a day early.”

“Oh, what, you wanted me around an extra day? I don’t think so.”

“Stop it, right now,” Adeline whispered. She grabbed Daniel’s arm to stop the words ready to tumble from his mouth. Her eyes flashed a warning. “I’ll not tolerate this today.”

Once upon a time, Amanda had been his pride and joy, but he couldn’t get beyond the mistakes she’d made to see her accomplishments. Success in the cutting horse industry as a nationally known horse trainer hadn’t erased the mistakes. Even claiming the coveted National Cutting Horse Championship couldn’t make him forget.

Check back each Monday in July for another glimpse into Two Brothers. And I'd love for you leave a comment and let me know what you think so far.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Don't Blink

Unfortunately, I did or so it seems, and here we are in the first full week of June. Cool rainy days have turned into hot sultry nights (wish that was as sexy as it sounds). The first half of the year is almost done and I can only scratch my head in disbelief. My how time flies. And my how things change.

Kenny Chesney talks about this in his song "Don't Blink"? About how we are living our life and in a blink of an eye days, months or even years have gone by and things have changed. Sometimes it greets us in sad, heart wrenching ways, like the sudden loss of a loved one. Other times, it comes in the form of a phone call or an e-mail that makes our dreams come true. Either way, things change and life evolves at a pace that leaves us feeling like we are standing still.

If you don't know Chesney's song, here are some of the lyrics.

Don't blink
Just like that you're six years old and you take a nap and you
Wake up and you're twenty-five and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife.

Don't blink
You just might miss your babies growing like mine did
Turning into moms and dads next thing you know your "better half"
Of fifty years is there in bed
And you're praying God takes you instead
Trust me friend a hundred years goes faster than you think
So don't blink

I was glued to my tv when it looked like he looked at me and said
"Best start putting first things first."
Cause when your hourglass runs out of sand
You can't flip it over and start again
Take every breathe God gives you for what it's worth.

It goes hand in hand with 'stop and smell the roses', the message being not to let life just pass you by. Participate. Interact. Be alive. Take time to appreciate the loved ones in your life. The joys and even the sorrows must be felt and experienced to the full extent. Because in the blink of an eye it can all change - made better or taken away.

Growing up, I'd always heard that as you got older time would fly by and it has. Think of all the things that have happened since January 1, 2011 and how these events have changed peoples lives. And with the phenomenal events our world is and has faced just in the last five and half months, one has to wonder what it all means, what the big picture is pointing to. I, for one, plan to "take every breath God gives for what it's worth."

Here are just a few of the events that have changed people lives:
- An 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit Japan, triggering tsunamis and a nuclear threat that reached the shores of California.
- Seventy tornadoes tore across 7 states in the southeast and mid-west, leaving 500 dead. In the U.S. EF-5 tornadoes are rare, but this year there have been at least 4.
- On average there are 670 tornadoes this time of year, but this year there have been an unusually high number at 1,168.
- One of those tornadoes left a 75-mile path of destruction and lasted 2 hours.
- The predicted end of the world came and went. Imagine how different the lives of those who believed are now.
- Egypt overthrew their regime.

In the blink of an eye our lives can change. For me, one life changing moment came with the offer of a publishing contract almost six months ago. Since then, I feel like I've been running at full speed. And now I find myself wondering where in the heck the days have gone. I don't think I even slowed down long enough to truly celebrate my dream come true moment. I meant to, but then I blinked...

To continue with Chesney's lyrics:

So I've been tryin' ta slow it down
I've been tryin' ta take it in
In this here today, gone tomorrow world we're livin' in.

Have you had a 'don't blink' moment?
How would you finish this sentence: It seem like just yesterday...

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Men In Our Lives


I was giving some thought to writing about the hero being more than just the love interest of the heroine in our story. In my novel, Two Brothers, Amanda’s brother and father are also heros, playing a major role and wielding a positive influence over her life.

Then sitting in my office yesterday, at my day job, I heard the maintenance supervisor say to one of his men, “…watch it or she’ll write about you in her next book.” I have no clue what was said prior to those words, but I called out to them that I most certainly was taking notes. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard the men around me mention being in my next book.

It got me thinking about the reaction of the men in my life when they found out that I write romance. I have three older brothers, no sisters, and work in a male dominated industry, manufacturing aerospace parts. Only a few close friends even knew I wrote, but when they found out I was getting published, the news spread like crazy.

I was surprised by the reaction. The guys didn’t squirm at the idea of a romance writer or say “Ahh, you write that kind of book.” Instead, I heard things like, “I’m impressed”, “That’s really awesome”, and “I don’t normally read romance, but I want to read your book.”

Now, that's not to say there wasn’t some teasing, too. They wanted to know if they would be able to look me in the eye after reading the story. And I honestly answered, telling them that it would depend on if they had just read a sex scene or not. They also joked about being careful what they said or I might kill them off in my next book. My own brothers wanted to know if I’d written about them.

No doubt, most comments are made in jest. We all know that the majority of romance readers are women and we read because there is a part of us that want, for a little while, to be the heroine.

I tweeted the other day, “Funny how men react when they find out you’re a romance writer. Eager rather than put off.”

Is it possible that on some level, for a little while, they too, the normal everyday men in our lives, just want to be the hero of our stories?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The 137th Kentucky Derby - May 7th

Congratulations to Joelene Coleman. You are the winner of All Bets Are On!, a $10 Amazon.com gift card and a set of commemorative 137th Kentucky Derby glassware.

Wow! What a week. The release of All Bets Are On! has been exciting and I've had a lot of fun with the Kentucky Derby Party. There is still plenty of time to enter the drawing - winner will be posted Saturday morning. 

Check out the drink recipes by clicking on the page link to the right, under the Kentucky Derby Party. I might have to try a few of these drinks, the Minted Strawberry and the Orange Julep.

For details and to purchase All Bets Are On!: http://www.turquoisemorningpress.com/
Coming this week, Wednesday, May 4th
http://www.turquoisemorningpress.com/

Enter to Win
In the upper right sidebar you’ll see “Kentucky Derby Party” and underneath a page or list of pages. I will add new pages as the week progresses, so check back and leave a comment. For each page you visit and comment on, I will enter your name in the drawing to win a copy of All Bets Are On, an anthology of short stories about the Kentucky Derby which includes my first published story, As Luck Would Have It, a $10 Amazon.com gift card and a set of commemorative 137th Kentucky Derby glassware.

Also, become a follower to my blog and get your name entered again – increasing your chances to win.

Be sure to check back on Saturday, May 6th for the winner or leave your e-mail address with your comments and I will contact you directly.

(Excerpt from As Luck Would Have It below)




What pages you’ll see posted this week:

1. Sunday - Kentucky Derby (KD) schedule of events

2. Monday – Meet the horses and vote

3. Tuesday – Run for the Roses

4. Thursday – Hat’s, It's all about the hats.

5. Friday – KD Drink recipes

As Luck Would Have It (Excerpt)
Jack Warsaw was a mean son-of-a-bitch. There wasn’t a horse in the stable that liked being owned by him, but many were. He had a quick temper and a heavy hand with a whip. He didn’t look upon his high-priced thoroughbreds as prized possessions requiring care and appreciation, but as possessions to bring him glory and money.

Money spoke volumes in the racing industry and let a man get away with things most couldn’t. Jack had plenty of money and people tolerated him because of it, but they didn’t like him.

So it didn’t come as any great surprise, to those of us paying attention anyway, when Jack turned up dead the morning of the biggest thoroughbred race known to man – the Kentucky Derby. The surprise will come if anyone is smart enough to figure out the events that led to his death. They won’t think to look to me for answers, although I saw the whole thing go down.

While I’m sure it all started years ago with a festering anger over Jack’s success in rigging races, the actual events that would rid the racing industry and the world of Jack Warsaw began two weeks ago.

It was late on the night of the opening ceremonies for the Kentucky Derby Festival. The Thunder over Louisville, the largest fireworks display around, kicked off the two week long celebration in downtown Louisville.

From where we were at Churchill Downs, we couldn’t see the spectacular light show, but there were enough locals setting of fireworks that we saw quiet a colorful display. A few of the horses on shed row didn’t much care for the noise while others stood like bomb proofed soldiers.