Tink...tink...tink...anyone out there? Hi! I'm Barbara Donlon Bradley - Author - editor and slightly crazy - ask anyone in my family. I hope to use this blog to talk about writing, editing and whatever pops in my head. Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Welcome Isabell Kane! @KaneIsabelle

I want to welcome Isabelle Kane! First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

I write romance novels and I believe that romance and love are among the most delightful aspects of the human experience. I have a distinct fondness for flawed heroes, and I seek to provide my readers with rich tapestries of stories in which love is just one element of the forces that intertwine the lives of the protagonists. I believe every dreamer deserves the adventures and escape offered by an exciting novel.

Tell us about your latest release.

Eagle River is my first New Adult Novel. It is a contemporary romance with a sport’s theme, because I have always found athletic men particularly sexy.

Here’s the blurb:

Rivals, Galen Odgers and Cam Fawst have shared many things. Gifted athletes and favored sons of Eagle River Wisconsin, both have been quarterbacks for the same legendary football team, the Warriors. Each was raised by a strong woman, and both love the same beautiful girl, Kjersten Solheim. 

Though they despise each other, they are inexorably linked. But there is a secret about one of them, a secret that a mother took to her grave, that a high school coach swore never to reveal, and one whose consequences continue to reverberate. 

Can love survive the ultimate betrayal and the revelation of a decades old secret?

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?

The Phantom from the Phantom of the Opera because despite his at times violent and selfish behavior, he is motivated by love for Christine and music. His love is always hopeless, and so he is a tragic hero.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?

Luke White from Calypso’s Secrets because he is both a bad boy and an honorable hero.

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?

I’ve written Mystery/Suspense Romance, Historical Romance, and Contemporary Romance. I have always loved reading romance, so it is very natural that I write in this genre. However, I try to add a little extra something to my stories so that there is more to them than just romance.

4.) What are you working on now?

I am working on a World War Two era romance involving a British soldier and an American nurse.

5.) What got you to start writing?

I have always written, even as a little girl. I think because I loved reading, I wanted to create my own stories.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?

I get my ideas from all around me, perhaps from a snippet of conversation that I overhear or a stray thought that flits through my mind. I believe that writers have to have open eyes, ears, and minds in order to gather inspiration for their work.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?

I work as an elementary school librarian and I also write children’s books under another name.

8.) Do you have any special talents?

I used to train dressage horses and I competed through the Grand Prix level of dressage.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?

The best pieces of of advice that I ever received on writing were to write honestly from the heart and the gut, and to be disciplined about writing.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?

I think I would like to meet Robin Hood and find out how his real story turned out. Did he and Maid Marion live happily ever after?

11.) What song would you say describes your life?

The Glory of Love by Peter Cetera
I would say that this song inspired my views on romance and love.

12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?

I would be a horse, because they are beautiful, powerful, loving and loyal.


Chapter One

The Fair 1985
~ Ben ~

It was the kind of night when you held hands with your girl, rather than tossing an arm over her shoulders, because you were uncomfortably aware of the big sweat patches that extended all the way down to your belt. The evening breeze was heavy and sluggish with humidity, newly spun cotton candy, and buttered popcorn. Now and then, the heavy air would pick up a hot breath of animal smells emanating from the stock pens. And everything was sticky, especially the bodies of small, sun burned, black fingernailed children. The animals tied up in the fluorescently lit “Cow Palace,” were drooping and soggy despite the flashing lights and the cacophony of sound that rudely interrupted the surrounding opaque silence of a fallow field in the Midwestern night.

Years later, Ben could still hear it, the manically cheerful music of the Ferris wheel, the melodic wailing of some local country band from the beer tent, the dull hum of voices speaking, the lowing and bleating of the discontented animals, and, occasionally, a mother’s shrill cry for a child that had wandered off. He could still smell it and taste it, and it was right there when he closed his eyes. And then it would flood him and he would ache with the tight sunbaked skin feeling of childhood summers.

There was one such Saturday night that stood out as brilliantly lit among Ben’s memories as the Vegas strip in the quiet, indigo emptiness of the desert night. He remembered being ticked because his mother had saddled him with Timmy Johansson for the evening, and that meant that Ben had to leave the fair by eleven to get the kid home on time. Timmy wasn’t a bad kid. It’s just that he tried way too hard. His mom knew the kid had problems. She was the one who made Timmy go out for football, the year that Eagle River made it to the State Championships. Galen’s year.

That night, it turned out to be a good thing that Timmy came along. At least he was someone for Ben to talk to, someone easily impressed. Galen was in one of his moods. So, there they were, doing the fair thing: Ben, Galen the mute, and Timmy, shirt buttoned all the way up his neck, don’t-look-over-at-the-beer-tent Johansson.

It must have been around ten o’clock and all three boys were about faired out. They had taken to wandering around the stock barns with no real purpose, blowing time, when they heard cheering and applause from over near the game booths. There was a pause and then the same again. A good sized crowd had formed around one of the booths. They walked over to check out what was going on. Ben couldn’t see anything at first, but the three worked their way through the crowd. Ben was tall and so it wasn’t long before he had a decent view.

The crowd had formed a semi-circle around one of those games where one throws a football through a ring. The size of the prize you win was determined by how many times consecutively a person could throw it through the ring. The area in front of the booth was all clear, except for one figure which was alternately illuminated and then shadowed by the rapidly changing Ferris wheel lights. The man stood a good thirty feet from his target. At first, Ben couldn’t make out who it was. The guy was tall and strong. His shoulders were turned sideways. He stepped, reached back, and threw. The football sailed through the hole. The crowd went nuts. Their hero stood still, basking in their praise while some kid ran the ball back to him. Just then, a light from the Ferris wheel flashed across the man’s face, illuminating him. But Ben already knew who it was; he had kept stats at too many football games throughout high school not to recognize that particular throwing style.

Timmy, who had followed Ben through the crowd, tugged at his arm. “Hey, isn’t that Cam Fawst?”

Ben spun, searching for Galen, but he had already lost him somewhere in the crowd.

“You know him, right?” Insisted Timmy. He pushed at Ben’s shoulder. “Hey, Ben, what’s up?”

“Yeah, that’s Cam.” Where was Galen?

“Could you introduce me to him? He’s the Coyotes’ quarterback! I watched him on TV. I can’t believe that he’s actually here!”

Ben watched again as Cam turned, stepped, and hurled the football. It spiraled tightly, powerfully through the hole in the board. The crowd cheered wildly again. Once more, the kid jogged the ball back to Cam.

“That’s twelve, Cam,” someone shouted.

“Don’t miss this one, Cam.”

The tall figure turned into the half-light cast by the carousel. “It’s in the bag,” that familiar deep, confident, sardonic voice announced over the manically cheerful tune shrieking out from the carousel.

“No one has ever gotten thirteen, the whole fair, Mom,” Ben heard some little kid squeal. “Look how far back he is.”

“Hush, Toby. You’ll wreck his concentration,” a feminine voice ordered.

Ben watched Cam critically. He turned and threw. The ball spiraled through the air once more. So controlled, so smooth. But Cam still threw with this arm, not his shoulder. Ben had wondered whether the coaching Cam received in Milwaukee would correct that technical flaw. But, no. It was still there. But, if you were really critical, if you examined his throwing style as a potential NFL player, then you would have to admit that he didn’t use his shoulder the way the great ones did, the Johnny Unitases, the Dan Marinos. Still, Cam was impressive. And he remained Eagle River’s favorite son.

Once again, Ben searched the crowd for Galen, but there was still no sign of him. Is Kjersten here? Ben’s stomach twisted. God, he hoped not. It was way too soon for Galen.

Then, as he stared into the front rows of the crowd, the frenetic flash of the Ferris wheel lights reflected off moonlight bright long hair. He could just make out the familiar long, slender frame. God no! She’s here. Galen can’t deal with her right now, too!

Desperately now, Ben searched for his friend. He moved away from the awestruck Timmy and began to shoulder his way back through the crowd.

“Hey, watch it, kid,” a rather large farmer growled at him. In his haste, Ben had jostled the farmer’s lady.

“Sorry,” Ben shouted over his shoulder.

“That’s Oscar Happe’s boy, isn’t it?” Ben heard the farmer’s wife ask.

“Rude little bastard,” the farmer responded.

Perfect. But Ben had no time. Later, he would go back and apologize, but after he got Galen out of there. As he pushed through, the crowd began to thin. There, at the very edge of the huddled masses, stood Galen. At six feet four inches, Galen easily observed the scene over the heads of most of those assembled. His hands were jammed into the pockets of the faded Wranglers that clung to his long, muscled legs. Idly, or was it with restrained hostility, he kicked the toes of his battered and scuffed Roper boots into the dirt.


He looked in Ben’s direction, but he didn’t notice Ben. Galen’s eyes seemed focused inward rather than outward. His face nakedly revealed pain and shattered dreams.

“Galen? Kjersten’s here.”

“Yeah, Ben. I know, and I’m okay.” Now Galen’s face was emotionless.

“Let’s get out of here, Galen. I’ve had enough of this hick fair.” To be honest, Ben felt more comfortable seeing him this way. This was the face that most everyone else saw. Ben knew that he was probably the only one outside of Galen’s family who ever saw him that other way. Galen had been through a lot with his mother dying last year and then the break up. No question. No one knew that better than Ben did. It was just that Galen hid it so well most of the time that Ben could forget or pretend, for a while at least. Then, he was the old Galen, the one he’d grown up with, not this new bitter and haunted person.

An “Aw,” reverberated through the crowd. Clearly, Cam had finally missed.

“Galen Odgers, is that you out there?” Sal, the rotund bar owner’s mellow baritone called out.

“Yeah, Sal. It’s me.” Galen answered as he raised his eyebrows at Ben.

What amazing timing. Ben tugged his friend’s arm. “Let’s get outta here.”

“What you doin’ out there, boy? Come on up here. You show Cam how a real football player throws.”

Sal’s great bulk parted the crowd like Moses did the seas, the round, glowing end of his thick cigar preceding him. He strode up to Galen, threw a great hairy forearm around Galen’s neck and dragged him through the crowd.

“Galen,” Sal chuckled, then cleared his throat of chunky cigar sputum. “You get up here and show Eagle River what you got.”

“Sal, I’m not up for this.”

“Hey Cam,” Sal shouted out, ignoring Galen’s protest. “I got a challenger here for you. Bet ya this high school string bean can out throw a college star. Galen here is a real ball player. You see that ring over there, Galen? Cam tossed that pigskin there through it thirteen times from where he’s standing. I got a twenty that says you can make it to fourteen.” Sal moved back towards the football toss, dragging Galen with him.

Suddenly, there was chaos. People shouted out to Galen and Sal’s voice continued to boom out, taking odds.

Ben stood stock still. If you know a guy as well as Ben knew Galen, had grown up with a guy, you understood how he felt about things, about people, about Kjersten and Cam, in particular. Feeling anxious, he jostled his way back to the front of the crowd.

Meanwhile, Galen had taken Cam’s place. He stood silently, facing the target. He had to be nervous, what with the whole town and Cam and Kjersten there. Please God, don’t let him screw up. Please. Ben crossed his fingers. Galen drew his arm back and threw, quickly. Too quickly. Yes! It went through. One. The ball was run back to him. Again, he just drew back and blasted it. Two. Yes! Then, another. One more. On and on. The relief washed over Ben. Galen was keeping it together. He was sweet. Ben started to get excited, to get into it with the crowd.

Ben hadn’t seen his best friend play ball for most of Galen’s senior year. Ben had been away at college. He had heard that Galen was a real talent, but this self-composed, accurate quarterback was a far cry from the long limbed, loose cannon he remembered from a year before. Galen’s weight was balanced delicately, dancer-like on the balls of his battered, old, laced up work boots. His facial features were relaxed while his eyes were focused on that white ring in the distance. He seemed not to hear the voices shouting his name all around him. He appeared equally oblivious to Cam, who stood just off to his right side, and to the din and the flashing lights of the surrounding fair. Effortlessly, Galen tossed that football through the hoop, pausing only long enough for the boy to run the football back to him. Unlike Cam, who had reveled in the adoration, working the crowd, Galen was lost in the job at hand and he was really, really good.

As one, the crowd shouted the number of the throw out loud, drowning out the sounds of men betting and the fair noises: “Ten… Eleven… Twelve.”

The tension built with each successful throw. The crowd sucked in air as one, exhaled in relief as one.

“Thirteen.” Galen had tied Cam.

Unable to resist, Ben searched for Kjersten again. In the shadows by Cam, Ben could just make out her profile. Maliciously, he wished that he could see her face as she watched her old boyfriend show up her new one.


Hysteria was building.

“Seventeen...Eighteen...Nineteen...Twenty... Oh,” the crowd groaned as one. Galen had finally missed. The football had bounced just off the edge of the ring. Then, everyone went nuts. Galen stood still as the crowd swarmed around him. Ben saw Sal give him a few congratulatory smacks on the back. Then, Ben lost sight of Galen in the mass of people congratulating him. Gritting his teeth, Ben forced his way closer in. When he finally caught sight of Galen again, Cam had already cornered Galen.

Suddenly, Ben was fourteen-years-old and too chicken to help Galen out when Cam decided to make trouble for him. Cam wasn’t really a bully. He had never really cared enough about other people to waste his time trying to dominate them. Besides, he’d always enjoyed the kind of hero worship that other boys gave to superior athletes. But things were different between Cam and Galen. There’d always been something strange between those two, a heavy, dark feeling of which schoolboys should not have been capable.

Ben observed that Kjersten was on Cam’s arm. Long-limbed and slender and fragile, she passed under the lights, completely visible for the first time. The high cheekbones, the full lips, and the elegant neck were the same. Shouldn’t people look different when everything changed so much? But Kjersten was the same, albeit a thinner, more serious looking girl. She still wore her hair long and straight down her shoulders. She still moved with that particular step, seeming to dance forward, like the sprinter that she had once been. Her face was serene, still, and classically beautiful.

Ben watched as Cam held out his hand to Galen. “I’m glad that you’re keeping the standard up at old Eagle River High. I was worried that the Warriors would slack off with me gone.”

Galen stared at the proffered hand and then, slowly, hesitantly, reached out and took it. From his vantage point, Ben saw that both men were putting a good deal more than cordiality into their grips. Their hands remained interlocked, their eyes meeting, the smile thinning from Cam’s lips, neither one giving in. Then, as if by mutual agreement, they released. A draw.

“Your name is Galen, right?” Cam continued, that bright “for the fans” smile accentuating the hungry lines of his jaw. “Galen Otter, or Oller?” Of course Cam knew Galen’s name, but thankfully, Galen didn’t take the bait.


“I remember now. You were that weedy sophomore backup quarterback.” Cam chuckled familiarly. “You always brought me towels and water all through my senior year.” He punctuated his comment with a friendly nudge at Galen’s shoulder. But Cam’s eyes were sharp and focused on Galen. “I remember you had a big case of hero worship.”

Unfazed by the clumsy jab, Galen stared straight back at him. “Too bad you didn’t play much last year, Fawst.”

Cam quit smiling. “Things are different in college. Players run faster and hit harder. It takes anyone a while to adjust. You’ll see what it’s like if you get that opportunity. Throwing a football through a hoop is a cute trick but it won’t get you far in a college football game.” Cam paused, regaining his composure. “You decided where you’re gonna go next year? I’m sure that there are a lot of division three schools who would give you a shot.”

Galen didn’t take the bait.

“Well, see ya.” Cam was tired of the games.

“Hi Galen,” Kjersten’s voice was soft but carried through the darkness like a knife.

Galen nodded his head curtly towards the girl, acknowledging her, but didn’t turn to look at her. “Kjersten.”

Cam assessed them, looking back and forth between them. “That’s right, you two know each other.” He tossed an arm possessively over Kjersten’s shoulder and pulled her tightly to him, staring at Galen all the while. “Here’s my good luck, Galen. You need to get yourself one of these,” Cam chuckled at his own coarse joke. Kjersten’s face remained determinedly impassive, her body, stiff.

“Hey Cam,” Sal’s cigar roughened voice cut through the weighted silence. The large bulk of the bartender appeared at Galen’s side. “You gonna be around town for a couple of days?”

“I’d planned to stay through the weekend,” Cam answered.

“Would you mind stoppin’ by the bar during the Brewers and Twins game? You know what big Coyote fans we are. The guys would be thrilled if you would just come in and shoot the shit.”

“Sure, Sal.”

“Thanks, kid.” Sal was pleased. With satisfaction, he twisted the cigar between his teeth. “Galen, you comin’ by, too?”

“I don’t know, Sal. There’s a lot of work I gotta do at the farm. It’s tough to get away.”

No longer the center of attention, Cam turned away. “Come on, babe. Let’s get out of here. I’ve had enough of this small town bullshit,” Ben heard him mutter to Kjersten.

Suddenly, a hot, sweaty hand grasped Ben’s forearm. “Hey Ben, I’ve been looking all over for you. I thought that you’d ditched me.” It was Timmy. “Do you know how late it is already? My mom must be having a stroke. I haven’t called her in over two hours and it’s almost eleven. We’ve got to go soon or I’m gonna be late for curfew.”

“Yeah, let’s go.” Galen broke abruptly away and strode off, his long legs eating up the ground, leaving Ben and Timmy in the dust. They followed and tried to keep up at first and then fell behind. A stalk of corn from last year’s crop, suddenly jammed into the arch of Ben’s foot.

“Shoot.” Ben knelt down, pulled off his decrepit sneaker, and rubbed the abraded skin. He looked up as Galen swung open the door of his beat up, old pickup and hopped in. Ben cringed at the brutal clang of rusted metal on metal when he slammed the ancient door shut.

Timmy waited while Ben adjusted his shoe. “Is he okay? Galen’s not pissed with me, is he? I didn’t mean to act like a dorky little kid. It’s just that my mom worried. Do you think he’s pissed?”

“Don’t worry about it, Timmy. Galen’s not pissed with you or me. He’s just dealing with some stuff.”

As Ben straightened up, Galen started the engine. The ancient Ford was moving their way. It pulled abreast of them. “Come on, Ben. Let’s go,” Galen said impatiently.

Timmy hopped in and Ben followed a moment later. Galen shifted the truck into gear and swung it around. They spun off in a cloud of dust.

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Friday, September 9, 2016

My Latest Guest Marilyn Meredith!

I want to welcome Marilyn Meredith. First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

Tell us about your latest release.

Seldom Traveled is the latest in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. Back from her vacation, Tempe is immediately confronted with the murder of a vacationing woman with tangled ties to Bear Creek, a fugitive on the run, and a monstrous forest fire.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite author? Do you feel you write like them?

I have many favorites with William Kent Krueger probably heading the pack. And no, I don’t write like him, but I do try to do as well as he does with setting. There are so many others, the old-favorites and lots of the new authors, male and female, though I must confess, I read far more women authors than men.

2.) What was your favorite book growing up?

The only title I remember right off is The Angry Planet and I must confess I don’t remember much about it except I loved the characters. Of course I read Nancy Drew and the Little House on the Prairie series. I always checked out 10 books at the time from the library and I read all my mother’s Book of the Month Club selections—including Gone with the Wind many times.

3.) Are you a plotter or a pantser and why did you choose that method?

I’m a bit of both—probably leaning more town pantser, though I always start with a premise and the names and description of the new characters like the victim and the suspects, and the murder method.

4.) Do you consider writing a career or a hobby? Why?

A career—though if you have to make a lot of money to call it a career, then maybe not. However, if it’s based more on time spent writing and promoting, then it’s definitely a career.

5.) What are you working on now?

Because I write two books a year, while I’m promoting the latest book in one series, I’m writing the next in the other series. So at the moment, I’m working on the as yet untitled next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery.

6.) What one piece of advice would you like to pass on to an up and coming author?

Read the kind of books you want to write—and write, write, write.

7.) If you had the ability to time travel and your first visit was to see a younger version of yourself what would you say to that younger self?

Learn more about the craft of writing sooner.

8.) You just got a million dollars, whether it’s from an inheritance, the lottery, or a sweet book deal doesn’t matter. What would be the first thing you would buy for yourself?

A different car with lots of room to haul books and equipment to go to book fairs and other book related events.

9.) If you could un-invent one thing in the world what would it be?

Hatred. This would be a different world if people if people didn’t have the ability to hate. Loving one another is so much easier. We don’t have to agree with each other, just respect the fact that we are all different and be kind to one another.

10.) What is your favorite movie/TV Show? Why?

I like any movie or TV series that is well-written and acted. However, I am partial to mysteries in TV series and I have many favorites including many British series.


Marilyn Meredith is the author of over thirty books in several genres, but mainly mystery. She embraced electronic publishing before anyone knew much about it. She taught writing for Writer's Digest School for ten years and served as an instructor at the Maui Writers Retreat, has been a judge for several writing contest, was a founding member of the San Joaquin chapter of Sisters in Crime, serves on the board of directors of the Public Safety Writers Association, is also a member of EPIC and Mystery Writers of America.

Marilyn lives in the foothills of the Southern Sierra in California in a place much like Bear Creek where her heroine Tempe Crabtree serves as a resident deputy. She is married to the "cute sailor" she met on a blind date many years ago and is grateful for all the support he gives her and her writing career every day. She is proud of the fact that she and her husband raised five children and now are grandparents to eighteen and great-grands to thirteen.

"What happens in my books is the only place in my life where I have any control," Marilyn says, smiling.

The tranquility of the mountain community of Bear Creek is disrupted by a runaway fugitive, a vicious murderer, and a raging forest fire.

Deputy Tempe Crabtree is threatened by all three.


The dispatcher reported an escaped fugitive had been spotted headed for the small mountain community of Bear Creek. Deputy Tempe Crabtree was ordered to cooperate with the federal and county authorities. It was her first day back from a vacation which had included her son’s wedding. She’d also received a report of a missing woman.

Welcome home.

It was late October and nearly dark. Tempe knew she wouldn’t be spending time with her husband during the next few hours.

The fugitive, Morris Delano, escaped from deputies while being transferred from the county jail to another county for trial. Delano had originally been captured after a long and successful bank robbing spree that covered several Southern California counties. Local deputies boasted about their ability to catch the suspect while he attempted to rob a local bank in Tulare County after he’d eluded capture by much larger cities’ law enforcement. Their boasts didn’t amount to much now that they’d lost him.

Deputy Marshals had been called in to organize the search.

Besides his booking photo, what the authorities thought they knew was the man made his getaway in a stolen white, late model Chevy truck and headed up the highway toward the mountains of the Southern Sierra and the small community of Bear Creek.

Tempe received a call from a resident who’d noticed an abandoned Chevy truck a couple of miles above town on one of the bridges that crossed Bear Creek, the river the town was named after. Wearing her tan deputy uniform, she shrugged into her official jacket. As usual, she wore her long black hair in a single braid.

She called in the information and proceeded to the scene in her own white truck with the official Tulare County Sheriff’s logo on the sides.

Because the deputies and the marshals weren’t far behind, they arrived before she’d had much time to examine the abandoned vehicle. The driver’s door stood open and she’d only had time to glance inside.

Uniformed men poured out of official cars and trucks they parked on the main highway.

One of the marshals, wearing a bulletproof vest over a gray shirt, a fully-equipped belt, and black pants, stepped up to her. The man towered over her. Unusual.

“Deputy Crabtree, I’m Marshal Gallegos. Did you spot the driver of this vehicle?”

“No, sir. I arrived only a few minutes ago. The key is still in the ignition. It appears he ran out of gas.”

“Do you have any idea where he might have gone?” Gallegos asked.

“Not really. The highway heads east toward isolated private residences, campgrounds, Tapper Lodge and eventually dead ends in the forest. There are many side streets and lanes, but none of them go anywhere. There’s only one other rough road that heads back toward town, eventually going through the Indian reservation. Only a few cabins and no year-round residents are there.”

“And back the other way?”

“The town you just came through with homes on both sides of the river all the way back to Dennison.”

“We’ve got our work cut out for us, then. If you get any reports of a stranger trying to break in anywhere, let us know.”

She waited for him to give her other instructions, but he ignored her. Since she was an Indian she was surprised he didn’t want her to help track the suspect. She guessed he didn’t want her on the search, perhaps because of her ethnic background, or maybe he didn’t like women in law enforcement. It certainly wasn’t the first time she’d run into such prejudices. “Anything else you’d like me to do?”

“We have it covered.” He didn’t bother looking at her.

A deputy with a dog arrived.

“Might be a good idea if you searched along the river,” Tempe said. “The water is low right now. Your suspect could have easily crossed over in several places.”

“We’ll handle it.” Marshal Gallegos sounded annoyed.

Tempe shrugged.

Marshal Gallegos barked orders to the men gathered. He sent the deputy with the dog down the side of the river bank. The other men fanned out in both directions.

Since she wasn’t needed, Tempe decided to check on the whereabouts of the missing woman. She’d been given an address of a large vacation home farther up in the mountains. It belonged to the wealthy Konstanzer family. During the thirties, they’d bought many acres in the mountains, with the idea of building a ski resort. When the plan hadn’t been received with enthusiasm by the county planning commission, they found another area for their resort. They kept their vacation home, though as far as Tempe knew, their descendants didn’t use it more than one or two times a year.

According to the report she’d received, it was the granddaughter, Mariah Konstanzer, who was missing.

Tempe knew little about Mariah except that at times her photo turned up in magazines like “People” on the arm of a movie star or famous businessman. The only time Tempe had seen Mariah in person was when Tempe had investigated a burglary at the vacation house. Mariah arrived to spend a few days and found the front door unlocked, the back door lock broken, and several items missing. She didn’t seem upset, and stated what was taken could easily be replaced.

Tempe remembered her as a willowy type, with long dark hair. Her rather plain looks were enhanced by makeup.

It was impossible to know when the burglary happened, and no fingerprints could be identified. Burglaries in remote areas without nearby neighbors often went unsolved.

Tempe vaguely remembered Mariah Konstanzer saying she’d tell her parents to hire someone willing to serve as a caretaker. Tempe didn’t know whether or not that had happened. After letting the dispatcher know she was no longer needed on the search for the fugitive and planned to check the house of the missing woman, she called her husband, Hutch. “I’m going to be late.” She explained what was going on.

“Don’t they have a backup deputy to take your place?”

“Doubt there’s anyone left. Everyone’s looking for the bank robber. Be sure to keep our house locked up. No telling where that guy is by now, but I have a feeling he’s following the river. If he’s smart, he’ll head back to town. Anyplace higher is rugged with no place to escape.”

“I’ll put your dinner in the refrigerator.”

“I’ll come home as soon as I can. Love you.”

“Love you too, be careful.”


Monday, September 5, 2016

Hermine and Labor day

Hi All,

Normally I would have an interview up and running about now but because it's the Labor Day weekend and family normally invade I decided to take a break. It's hard to get the blog up when I have to entertain at the same time.

But we got company we didn't really want. Hurricane Hermine. What a pain! Lots of wind and water. I live in tidewater VA and as bad as the news might make it sound it's not bad here. We do have low lying areas so flooding isn't unusual for us, but where I am there has been no flooding and maybe a branch or two on the ground.

I hope the rest of the coast fairs as well as we have.

Keep dry everyone and enjoy Labor Day if you live in the states.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Meet My Latest Guest Ryan Jo Summers! @RyanJoSummers

I want to welcome Ryan Jo Summers! First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

Tell us about your latest release.

It is called Upon the Tide. This was started many years ago when I lived across the road from a marina and worked third shift. Consequently, I spent long hours in the early mornings and afternoons watching the boats and ferries come and go. It was a great time and full of many good memories. As you can probably guess, I love boats and the water. Out of all that came the origins of Upon the Tide.

Most of the action of this book takes place aboard boats, with a heroine who had one previous, terrible boating experience. She is not a happy camper! However, the locale is the Caribbean! And she’s with a sexy hunk who used to be a detective. Too bad someone’s out to kill them, right?

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?

This is a tough one. Until now, I never realized I haven’t focus on the villains because I’m really drawing a blank on any villain beyond the baddies in my books. And they are certainly not my faves. The only villain I can think of elsewhere is Cruella de Ville from ‘101 Dalmatians’ and I really kind of just hated her. So I guess I don’t have a villain I ever cared about.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?

Now this is easier! I adore all my heroes. Most are working class guys, hearts of gold, quiet and sort of shy. Oh, and handsome too. (That always helps) It would be hard to pick one because they are all special and dear in their own way. Interestingly, I’m falling in love with a four year old girl named Ruthie from my current work-in-progress. I tend to use kids as filler, secondary characters. However, Ruthie is such a livewire, she is taking over the scenes and pages with her energy, sass and sparkle. I was not expecting her to have such personality, but I am having fun watching her go. I just wind her up with a sentence or two and off she runs, full throttle!

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?

The genre is romance, the subgenres stretch from time travel, paranormal, shape shifting, mystery, Christian, and sweet. Many are blended mixes of any of the above. I also have written a young Adult/ New Adult and a women’s fiction novel. Why? Well, they say to write what you like. My first book I just wrote without even thinking of genre. It had the stuff in it I liked to read. Ditto for the next ones. It started that way as a youngster. I worked up to YA, as a teen, not knowing that was a genre. I simply liked S.E. Hinton style of books. Then I discovered Harlequin, Silhouette, etc. … and started writing what I liked in their imprints. It was my first publisher who labeled it romance and to be honest, I was kind of surprised to say I was a romance writer. Still am, actually.

4.) What are you working on now?

 A Christian romance with Ruthie, who is taking over. Then I want to rewrite an older time travel romance. I’m also in the research stages of another book, which will be set in the Golden Age of piracy. I am on the fence about making it a time travel as well. I think it would be a cool plot that way, but two time travels at once?? Humm, I already can’t remember the current date now as it is.  Two eras, and two locations and I won’t ever know when it is. Oh, and I’m plugging away on edits for my Christian romance coming out in November.

5.) What got you to start writing?

Age ten, family situation that rocked my world. I grabbed pencils and paper and wrote it out and drew illustrations. I didn’t know that I was writing, I was simply trying to cope. I always loved to read since my earliest memories. That situation was the catalyst to figure out to put pen to paper and opened my imagination. It grew from there.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?

Oh my gosh, everywhere! Anywhere! Songs, pictures and simple comments can open a whole new vein of thought for me. Entire stories have been written from one picture or one chance event. Multiple scenes can certainly be written by a line in a song or any of the above. I keep a file of headlines and newspaper/ magazine pictures that spark something, waiting to turn them into a story. My friends know to be careful what they say to me—it might become part of a book.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?

I am adopted, though I have known both sets of parents. I have never had any sense of smell—good or bad scents. I tend to become very passionate about issues I care about. Sometimes I get too involved, so that I have gotten into trouble. I prefer trucks and Jeeps over cars and have an insatiable sweet tooth.  I have over fifty houseplants. I make my own suet and hummingbird nectar for the wild birds and I cook my parrot’s breakfast from scratch each week. And I ask questions about everything.

8.) Do you have any special talents?

I can paint and write poetry. I am great at dealing with fractious animals. (by-product of working as a veterinary technician for many years) I have a super green thumb and my cats challenge it constantly. I like getting discounted dead plants from home centers and bring them back to life. The challenge isn’t reviving the plants, it’s keeping the cats from chewing on them. I am also quite crafty with needlepoint, floral design and such.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?

As a child, I was shy, awkward and had low self-esteem. I was quiet and reserved. My mother had an elderly friend who allegedly wrote stories. (I could never find any in print or on line) She saw something in me and took an interest in the kid everyone else tended to overlook. One day my mother mentioned I liked books and sometimes wrote a little something. Her friend studied me quietly, thoughtfully and finally told me I could be an author. In my mind, authors were highly regarded, intelligent, esteemed, and elite individuals. To be one of ‘them’ was an honor and distinction. And this woman, one of the people who had consistently seen value in me, told me I could become one of ‘them’. That simple comment--so thoughtfully spoken—raised my self-worth in ways I could not describe. And now, many years later, I am one of ‘them’—an author.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about? 

Believe it or not, I am coming up blank on this question. I’d love to talk to some departed loved ones, but they are only famous to me.

11.) What song would you say describes your life?

There is no 1 song. Some encapsulate a snapshot of time, for example Jo Dee Messina’s “Heads Carolina, Tails California” embodies a short period in 2004 when I left Michigan. It was literally ‘Toss a dart at the map and see where it lands’. I ended up in North Carolina. I see a bit of myself in “Desperado” by The Eagles/ Clint Black. I also see parts of my life in “Riser” by Dierks Bentley and “Moments” by Emerson Drive in darker periods. I resorted to asking friends and co-workers, since they see me at my best and worst. Answers range from “Doctor Dolittle” and “Old MacDonald had a Farm”, owning to my love of animals and houseful of assorted, beloved pets (aka fur/feather -kids), a Bonnie Raitt song, “I Will Not be Broken”, and a song by Superchick called “Stand in the Rain”. (Admittedly I had to go listen to the last two on YouTube and was pretty flattered when I did)

12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?

Another tough one. It’s a toss-up between cat, dog or horse. Cats are agile, graceful, and small enough to get into interesting places and hardy enough to take care of themselves. The perfect blend of beauty, independence, playfulness and ultimate laziness. Yet dogs are great. They are well suited to their function, whether they are working dogs, toy dogs or whatever. I have a collie and think the world of him. Dogs are the best combination of loyalty and protection, function and form and most are lovely to look at. I am a fan of big, hairy working dogs. Oh but horses! I love horses. Powerful, loyal. Smart. To be able to run like the wind, and still be gentle enough to work with the smallest, frailest humans and strong enough to pull or carry the heaviest loads. A unique mix of strength and gentleness. What a decision! And birds are awesome too, especially the parrots.


Actually, it seemed kind of simple to her. The bad guys chasing them were being eliminated. Once they were all gone, she and Kade could return to their previous lives. Personally, the reasoning of why the great chase across the Caribbean didn’t mean as much to her as just ending it.
However, as much as she knew she had to return to work and home, a part of her whispered it had been nice just being with Kade on his boat. Nice enough, that whisper nudged, to want to continue it.
Nonsense, she told the nudging whisper, pushing aside a strand of hair picked up on the breeze. Sure, it had not been all bad, but she still had responsibilities back home. Coming here had been a vacation only. Not a romance. Besides, she had no room in her life for romance. Regardless how pleasurable time with Kade was.
Gibberish, her mind whispered back, almost laughing at her.      Huffing irritably, she stomped back to the galley to fix breakfast. Yanking sausage out of the fridge, she slapped it on the cutting board and slashed away at it with a knife.

WEBSITE: www.ryanjosummers.com   

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Welcomemy Latest Guest Christina Hoag @ChristinaHoag

I want to welcome Christina Hoag. First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

First off, thanks so much for hosting me on your blog, Barbara, and giving me this space. I’m a novelist and journalist. I’ve been a reporter for the Associated Press and Miami Herald, and was a foreign correspondent in Latin America for nearly a decade. Now I work freelance so I have more time to devote to my fiction. I’m passionate about reading and writing, and have been my whole life. I’m a member of International Thriller Writers and I’m a volunteer creative writing mentor to at risk girls with an organization called WriteGirl.

Tell us about your latest release.

It’s a YA romantic thriller from Fire and Ice YA titled Girl on the Brink. It’s the story of a girl, Chloe, who gets involved with the wrong guy—haven’t we all done that at some point in our lives?—and this leads to some pretty drastic consequences for Chloe. But Chloe is smart and a survivor. She conquers her fear, summons her strength and not only survives but thrives. Ultimately, it’s a novel about the journey of girl power.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?

I always wish Arthur Conan Doyle had done more with Moriarty, the foil to Sherlock Holmes. He’s a baddie of Holmes’ own intellectual level, which is a setup for some great plots.  In general, I find criminal masterminds who use their superior intellect for villainous purposes the most interesting antagonists.  

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?

I have to say it is Magdaleno, the protagonist in my literary thriller set in L.A.’s gang underworld Skin of Tattoos, which is also being released this month by Martin Brown Publishing. Mags struggles to do the right thing and leave the gang, but his pride and ego get in the way. He’s just so humanly flawed.

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
I write character-driven thrillers. I love crime fiction, delving into the seamy side of life and what drives people in that world, but a lot of work in that genre is very formulaic, which gets boring after a while. I like to see how extraordinary events, which often happen in the context of crime, affect character so that’s what I write.

4.) What are you working on now?

I’ve got two novels both in the final stages. One is called The Revolutionaries, and it’s a literary political thriller based on the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela, where I was living at the time and working as a freelance journalist. The other is called Angels Lust. It’s a detective mystery set in Los Angeles.

5.) What got you to start writing?

I won a prize for “writing interesting stories” when I was six years old so I guess writing was always there. It came out as soon as I literally learned how to put pen to paper. I discovered journalism in high school so I knew that’s what I wanted to do as a career. I’ve written fiction on and off my whole life.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?

Like any writer, I draw on my own experience and what I see around me. Working as a journalist for many years has deeply influenced my fiction. As a reporter, you have an entrĂ©e into many subcultures, slices of life and people that normally you would not have access to. I’m also a passionate traveler. I’ve visited over 60 countries so international themes really call to me.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?

I didn’t come to the United States until I was 13 years old. I lived in six other countries growing up: New Zealand, where I was born, Fiji, England, Sweden, Nigeria and Australia.

8.) Do you have any special talents?

I love languages. I speak Spanish fluently, a decent French and a smidgen of Italian. I always wanted to learn more languages. I’m fascinated how language reflects culture, but it takes a lot of practice to keep them up.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?

“Never, never, never give up.” Winston Churchill said that, and it’s so true. Early on in my creative endeavors, I gave up on myself too easily. It took some maturity to realize you have to keep going even in the face of an onslaught of rejection.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?

I think it would be William Shakespeare. I’d love to ask him about his creative process, his philosophy of life, try to figure out the source of that marvelous wisdom.

11.) What song would you say describes your life?

A tough one. I think I’ll go with Van Halen’s “Jump,” because I believe in not letting fear hold you back from taking leaps into the unknown in life–I’ve taken many. Plus, I’m a huge seventies big-hair rock fan.

12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?

I’d come back as a scarlet macaw. They are majestic birds with such resplendent colors. It always wowed me when I spotted them soaring wild and free over the jungle canopy in Latin America. The romantic in me also loves the fact that they mate for life.


The carnival sets up for two weeks every summer in a field outside town. Everyone goes. It’s something to vary Indian Valley’s monotonous diet of bowling, the single-screen movie theatre, miniature golf, and hanging out at the Dairy Cream. 
Kieran grabs my hand as we stroll into the fair. It’s a riot of dazzling lights, whirling rides and thumping music. I scan the crowd, hunting for Morgan and Jade, who I spot waiting for funnel cakes.
“Hey, there are my friends.” I wave frantically at them with my free hand as I tug Kieran with the other. Morgan sees me, points me out to Jade and they both look my way.
Kieran yanks my hand in the opposite direction. “We’ll catch up with them later.”
“I want you to meet them. I told them all about you.”
“I just want to play my favorite game for you first.”
I can’t refuse. I let myself be pulled and make an apologetic face at them. Morgan’s expression hardens. She says something to Jade. The crowd swarms between us, and I lose sight of them.
Kieran steers me to a shooting-at-moving-ducks game and grabs a rifle. He’s a good shot and soon wins a white teddy bear with a red satin heart sewn on its chest. He hands it to me.
“For you.”
“Thank you. It’s adorable.” I proudly tuck it under my arm.
“Just like you. Hungry?”
“Me, too.”
We make for the food concessions. “Carnival hot dogs are the best,” Kieran says. “The pizza and hamburgers blow.”
“Totally,” I say as we line up.
We buy hot dogs slathered with relish—and root beer, of course—and sit at a picnic table. Kieran straddles the bench, patting the seat in front of him. I sit astride like him. He inches closer so our knees touch.
“Open wide,” he orders, looking at my mouth.
I obey. He feeds one end of the hot dog to me, then leans in and bites the other end. I crack up and almost choke.
“Don’t laugh,” which comes out something like “doan waf” through Kieran’s mouthful of hot dog.
No hands, he chews, swallows and takes another bite. I do the same. We manage to eat the hot dog, and at the end, our lips touch. Kieran presses mine into a kiss.
“So that’s why you like carnival hot dogs,” I say when we break apart. “To steal kisses.”
“Hey, I told you they were the best. Hold on, you have mustard on your face.” He swoops in and licks the side of my mouth.
I wipe off his wetness. “Ew, Kieran!”
“Mmmm, salty.”
I giggle. He swoops in again and licks all around my mouth and lips. His tongue tickles, and I laugh as I shake my head, sucking in my lips, trying to get him off me as I crack up harder, which only encourages him. He slurps my cheeks and chin, and I try to recoil out of his reach, but he pulls me to him. Finally, he backs off and dabs my face with a napkin as I recover my breath.
“You’re worse than a puppy,” I say.
“Ruff, ruff.” He pants and holds up his hands like paws, then jumps to his feet, holding out his palm. “Come on. Time for rides.”
We run like it’s an emergency.
“Cup of tea, Madam?” Kieran points to the tea cups, then pushes open the just-closing gate and leaps in a cup.
We spin madly in the tea cups, chase, block and slam each other in the bumper cars, cling to each other in the haunted house. We finish with a ride on the Ferris wheel.
It’s getting late, and the crowd has swelled with rowdy revelers who obviously made a pitstop at a bar before the carnival.
“Let’s go,” Kieran says, after a guy, drunk or stoned, stumbles in front of us.
“I really wanted you to meet my friends.”
“We’ve got plenty of time for that. It gets nasty this time of night, a lot of fights.”
“Okay.” I give a last three-sixty turn in case Jade and Morgan appear. Kieran’s right. Cliques of older guys and girls hang around the perimeter, smoking and drinking from paper bags.
We swing our clasped hands as we walk to the parking lot. I wish the night would never end. When we get in the truck, he blasts the air conditioning and rolls down the windows. We pull out into the street, and as the AC chills, I close my window. Using his control, Kieran buzzes it down again.
“The AC’s on,” I say.
“I know, but doesn’t it feel great? To feel cold air and warm air at the same time?”
He accelerates. Bathtub-temperature air whooshes along the side of my body, while my chest is cooled by the AC. The combination feels luxurious.
“You’re right. It does feel great!”
He grins. “Told ya.”
“My mom would kill me for doing this.”
“That’s why you’re hanging with me, not with her.”
He snakes an arm over and slides off the elastic holding my ponytail. I shake my hair loose and let the wind whip it.
“That’s it, sweetpea, be free.”