Happy Thanksgiving!



Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., and I’m blessed to be spending time with my family. Though there will be only five of us, it’s safe to say that there will be a smorgasbord of delicious array of food that could feed an army, (I have a feeling I’ll need to be sipping on Sambuca liquor later, to relax my fuller-than-full stomach after it’s all over, and, of course, while watching the Green Bay Packer game). Speaking of football, Dallas take on the Panthers, and while I’m a Cowboy fan, the highlight will be watching Luke Bryan during half-time.

Something for you…


As a special treat, and a way of showing how thankful for my family, friends, and faithful readers, I’ve marked down THE RIGHT DESIGN for $0.99 on Amazon, (it’ll go back up to $2.99 on December 1st, so if you’ll be taking advantage of Cyber Monday, this deal is for you)!


A few weeks ago, I shared that MERRY & BRIGHT is on sale for $0.99, so don’t forget to get your Amazon copy, which will definitely put you in the holiday mood!

I hope you all have a very blessed holiday!

EXCERPT: “The Restoration of Otto Laird” by Nigel Packer


restoration of otto

“The Restoration of Otto Laird” by Nigel Packer

Blurb: Retired architect Otto Laird is living a peaceful, if slightly bemused, existence in Switzerland with his second wife, Anika. Once renowned for his radical designs, Otto now spends his days communing with nature and writing eccentric letters to old friends (which he doesn’t mail). But Otto’s comfortable life is rudely interrupted when he learns that his most significant and revolutionary building, Marlowe House, a 1960s tower block estate in South London is set to be demolished.

Otto is outraged. Determined to do everything in his power to save the building, he reluctantly agrees to take part in a television documentary, which will mean returning to London for the first time in twenty-five years to live for a week in Marlowe House. Once Otto becomes reacquainted with the city he called home for most of his life, his memories begin to come alive. And as he mines his past and considers life moving forward — for himself and his building — Otto embarks on a remarkable journey that will change everything he ever thought he knew.



It was not uncommon, these days, for Anika Laird to return from one of her morning trips to town to find her husband standing naked in the kitchen window. The first time it hap- pened she was mildly surprised; by now it had become the stuff of routine. She would catch a peripheral glimpse of Otto as she cycled up the pathway, but the oblique angle of her approach, and a remnant of brick wall standing just beyond the window, prevented a more detailed study as she pedalled round the side of the villa to the front door. Once she was in- side, the image that greeted her as she propped up her bicycle and paused in the kitchen doorway was always the same. Otto stood with his back to her, his pale buttocks luminous in the gloom, and stared through the window with a still intensity. Sometimes, during rain, she would discover him pressing his fingertips lightly to the pane, one arm stretched before him in an attitude of silent reverence.

Anika watched in fascination from the cinnamon-scented doorway. Otto’s ageing body was transformed by the quiv- ering half-light into something elegant and weightless: an elderly sea lion, moving through the depths. He never seemed to hear her enter the house, or wheel her creaking bicycle through the hallway, and so she would watch him quietly for minutes at a time, breaking the silence with a soft call of his name. Invariably Otto came to with a start, the rim- less spectacles (his sole attire) bouncing on the bridge of his nose.

‘Anika,’ he would say, turning without embarrassment, ‘such terrible weather we are having – you must be soaked right through. Let me fix some luncheon for you while you change.’

Then he would gather up his discarded silk kimono from the stone floor, pull it about his unusually tall frame and tie the strings firmly round his scarred belly, closing each episode with a decisive gesture that seemed to rule out any need for explanation.

Rubbing a towel through her hair before the bathroom mirror, Anika pondered this odd, recurring scene with her husband. It troubled her to find Otto staring into space like that, not least because the kitchen window had no view. It was the only room in the house without one. Positioned immediately beyond it, the crumbling section of wall – part of an old cottage that once stood upon the plot – effectively blocked any sight of the surrounding hills, save for a hint of open landscape through a gap where some bricks had eroded. Despite Anika’s protests, Otto had insisted on leaving the wall in place when overseeing construction of the villa some eight- een years earlier. This was done partly from a sentimental attachment to vernacular architecture, partly from a sensuous attraction to the rough mauve bricks, with their regular intervals of vivid moss strata.

All the same, Otto’s choice of this particular window for his episodes of silent communion struck Anika as perverse. They had chosen this location specifically for its spectacular natural setting. Otto had designed their home with the greatest of care in order to maximise its potential. For anyone lucky enough to enter the Lairds’ hillside villa, the interior of the building never failed to draw gasps. It offered a dizzying profusion of light, glass and distant vistas; a three- dimensional frame through which to admire the pristine beauty of the Franco-Swiss borderlands. The blue hills of the Jura could be seen to the north; southward, the giant peaks of the Savoy Alps. Broken and discoloured as a dentist’s dream during summer, they were restored each year to a glinting perfection by the first winter snows. Underscoring this rampant geology was the wide expanse of Lake Geneva: implausibly blue when bathed in sunlight, impregnably grey when not. This, all of this, was available to the Lairds for moments of quiet contemplation; the same timeless land- scapes that had once inspired Voltaire, the Shelleys and Byron. Yet Otto – thinker, visionary, the avant-garde’s answer to Sir Christopher Wren – Otto seemed much happier with his piece of crumbling wall.

‘The inscrutability of genius,’ Anika told her reflection in the bathroom mirror.

In truth, she was not convinced by the term, but others had used it when describing her husband, so who was she to argue?

Wandering about naked, too. He must be losing his marbles. Thank God we don’t have neighbours for him to scare.

She thought of a Dutch phrase, and spoke it aloud.

‘Een gek. A crazy man. Whatever was I thinking?’

But she smiled to herself as she spoke.

Combing out the damp strands of vanilla hair, as long and striking now, when she was in her early sixties, as it had been when she first met Otto more than twenty years before, Anika glided from the bathroom to the south-facing lounge, paus- ing for a moment before its great wall of glass. An autumn breeze rippled the surface of the lake, while Mont Blanc in the distance lay truncated by the dark clouds troubling its heights, a legacy of the morning’s storm.

I could always knock it down, she told herself, thinking once more of the length of wall. One day when he’s off at a conference somewhere.

She would blame it on the bise, the brutal northerly wind that sometimes froze the lake-edge solid during winter, and could turn even the mildest spring days suddenly raw and hostile.

Otto entered the room, looking perplexed. He was carry- ing a tray laden with two mugs and a silver coffee pot. Setting down the tray on a low glass table, he retrieved a rolled-up magazine from the silk folds beneath his armpit, tossing it down with venom.

‘Unbelievable,’ he said, pausing to find a better word, before settling on the one he had already. ‘Quite unbelievable.’

Recognising the masthead of The Architectural Eye – Otto’s last remaining link, via monthly subscription, to a profession he had once helped to shape – Anika searched out her glasses in the pocket of her bathrobe and slid them onto her nose. The contours of the masthead sharpened before her as she picked up the magazine.

‘What’s upset you?’ she asked.

‘Page five, bastards,’ said Otto, whose habit of compressing two separate thoughts into a single phrase was familiar enough to Anika for her not to take offence. The expletive, she realised, wasn’t directed at her. She found the page and absorbed the headline.


‘One of yours,’ she said.

‘They want to demolish it, buggers,’ said Otto.

There was a pause. Anika was browsing through a mental scrapbook of Otto’s landmark buildings, but she couldn’t place Marlowe House with any certainty. She took a chance.


He nodded.

‘The concrete tower block south of the river. The one that looks a little off balance?’

‘That’s the one,’ he replied, somewhat testily.

Built in the early 1960s, Marlowe House had been one of Unit 5’s defining achievements. Anika remembered Otto once telling her it had won a major architectural prize.

‘And what’s their reasoning?’

‘People don’t like living there, apparently. The local news- papers have been campaigning for years. Finally they have their wish. The plan is to knock it down and replace it with private apartments. Stupid arseholes, the lot of them.’

Otto bent angrily to pour out the coffee. He struggled to tailor his movements to the task in hand, spoiling the delicate operation with a spill and a low muttering.

Anika was reading the article.

‘But I thought it was listed,’ she said, looking up at him above the frame of her glasses.

‘They listed its twin, Taylor House, the building out west. But not Marlowe House. It was always the more problematic of the two. The wrong part of London. Social problems and poor maintenance. No fashionable young people to buy up the apartments and trumpet their architectural value. Still consists almost entirely of local-authority tenants, as far as I’m aware. Damned shame we never tried for a listing, though. It’s much the better building.’

He became lost in memory then, an increasingly common occurrence during recent years. Unlike most of his work, scattered around the world and rarely visited by Otto after completion, Marlowe House was a building he had observed for many years at first hand. This came about by chance, rather than design, as its distinctive profile could clearly be seen from the stands at the Oval cricket ground, a place where Otto, a keen follower of the game, had spent many a spare summer day during his three-and-a-half decades in England. Consequently, during quieter moments in matches, or in the blissful afternoon reverie that usually followed a teatime scotch, he would find his attention wandering from the field of play, over the gasworks and across the skyline, before coming to rest upon Marlowe House, its lines in the lower- ing sunlight as crisp and elegant as a well-timed shot to the boundary.

**Buy “The Restoration of Otto Laird”: Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-Million   Indi Bound

About author, Nigel Packer: Nigel is a former journalist, whose eclectic writing career spanned from music reviews for the BBC to a reporting officer at the International Committee for the Red Cross. He received his BA in Archaeology from the University of York and an MA from Leiden University. Nigel lives in London and The Restoration of Otto Laird is his first novel.



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BOOK FEATURE: “First Love Again” by Kristina Knight



“First Love Again” by Kristina Knight


Some loves deserve a second chance…

Coming back to Gulliver Island after a ten-year absence to take care of his father should have been simple. Emmett Deal would fix and sell the family home, and return to Cincinnati with his ailing father in tow. Yet something compels him to stay a little longer. The beautiful, bright eyes of Jaime Brown.

Ten years ago, traumatic events changed the course of Jaime’s life forever, catching her in a small-town life she can’t escape. Emmett’s return stirs up the memories she wanted to ignore…and dreams she had forgotten. Now she finds herself with a rare opportunity—a second chance. Only this time, it’s not just for love…


“You could install an alarm system,” a new voice joined the conversation. The hairs on Jaime’s neck stood up again. The man in the corner. This time it wasn’t annoyance at being talked down to that caused the reaction. It was the voice itself. A voice she never thought she’d hear, at least not while she was on Gulliver.

The broad shoulders.

The not too long but not too short black hair.

Sure, his face was turned away, but she should have known or at least suspected. Ten years.

She turned slowly and felt the blood drain from her cheeks. The man from the corner booth wasn’t so much stranger as long-lost resident.

Emmett Deal stood there, listening to her argument with the trustees. Sunlight glinted off the pristine windshield of an unfamiliar work truck. Stenciled on the side were the words Deal Construction. Here was Emmett and here was his truck. She blinked and he was still standing at a table near the front door. She wasn’t imagining him.

His eyes were bluer than she remembered. More of a cerulean than the baby blues that invaded her dreams when she was overly tired. He was taller, too. Not by much, maybe an inch. His shoulders more broad and his hips— Jaime gave herself a mental shake and brought her gaze back to Emmett’s beautiful face. Chiseled jaw…hint of stubble.

Before he’d left Emmett had hated that he couldn’t grow a proper mustache. It didn’t look as though that was a problem any longer. Black, black hair flirted with the collar of his tight tee.

He seemed to look straight past her, though. Jaime swallowed and tried to ignore her rapidly beating heart.

KristinaKnightGuestPic2**About the author: Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police–no, she wasn’t a troublemaker, she was a journalist. Her career took her all over the United States, writing about everything from a serial killer’s capture to the National Finals Rodeo. Along the way she found her very own Knight in Shining Cowboy Boots and an abiding love for romance novels. Kristina writes contemporary romance with a smattering of sass, sex and (of course) drama, and she loves hearing from readers. And just like the characters from her favorite books, she’s living her own happily ever after.

**Contact Kristina: Website   Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   Goodreads   Google+

INTERVIEW with Courtney Psak, and EXCERPT of “Thirty Days to Thirty”


courtney psak

Author, Courtney Psak: Courtney is a New Jersey native who grew up with a passion for reading and writing.

After traveling the world, she settled into New York City where she earned her Masters in Publishing.
She is a member of the National Writers Association and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association.
She currently resides in Hoboken with her husband.

She spends her weekends seeking adventure through hiking, skiing and traveling.

**Contact Courtney: Website   Goodreads   Author Central/ Amazon   Twitter   Instagram   Facebook   Blog


Describe your books in five words: Funny, inspirational, adventurous, friendship and romance.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? I don’t know if it was so much of a decision as it was something I always did since I was little. It came naturally to me the same way someone realizes they like to paint or sing. I finally pulled the trigger on publishing this book since I am getting close to my thirtieth and considering the spirit of the story, I figured I would take my own character’s advice and accomplish one of my all time bucket list items.

Salty or sweet? Salty Sweet. Chocolate covered pretzels are my weakness.

What is the writing/editing/publishing process like for you? The writing process is great. It’s fun and it’s an amazing feeling to create a story of characters that you fall in love with.  The editing for me is a nightmare as I’m the worst editor ever. As far as the rest of the publishing process, which is building your author platform and marketing, it has been a scary but a fun learning experience.

At what time of day do you work best? On weekends it’s in the morning and on weekdays I’ll write a night.

If you could meet any other author, who would it be? James Patterson. He has the same quick writing style that I at least try to have. Plus the man knows how to market.

Where do you get ideas for your books? They really come organically. So my ideas come from everywhere really. For this book in particular I realized a lot of my friends, including myself, started to get the ‘quarter-life crises.’ We were upset over the fact that we were not where we thought we would be by this point in our lives. What I started to realize though, was that when life happens, it’s going to bring you places you never could’ve imagined you would be. In the process of trying to be a particular version of ourselves, we in fact, discovered who we really were.

What is the best advice anyone’s given you? Believe in yourself and never give up.

Hard/paperbacks or eBooks? I like to read multiple books at a time so ebook is my best friend.

Every author must have (a): Courage and confidence.

What do you want readers to take away from your books? That it’s not necessarily about the goals in life, but what you learn along the way.

What are you working on right now? I’m currently working on a book about a Hollywood Socialite who ends up on a reality TV show as the maid of honor to her best friend who is marrying her ex-boyfriend. The five words I would use to describe that book is funny, dramatic, dysfunctional, personal-growth (technically two words there).

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“Thirty Days to Thirty”: What if you were on the cusp of marrying the guy of your dreams and reaching that career goal you set for yourself, only for all of it to be taken away in one fell swoop?

What if this all happened a month before you turned 30?

This is the story of Jill Stevens, who after moving back home, finds a list she made in high school of thirty things she wanted to accomplish before her thirtieth birthday.

With a month left and hardly anything crossed off her list, she teams up with old friends to accomplish as much as she can before the big 3-0. Along the way, she discovers her true self and realizes it’s not about the material successes in life but the journey.


“So do you want to talk about it?” my mom finally asks me, taking a seat next to me with a cup of tea.

“I’m not really ready to recap,” I tell her with a mouth full of peanut butter. “I’m still trying to process everything.”

My mother basically got the hysterical gist of it when I called her at midnight, crying, and all she could make out was “pig head … boyfriend … cheated on me … fired … homeless.” She sat on the phone with me while I tried to pull myself together, and finally ordered me to pack up and get on the next train home.

“I understand,” she says, sounding disappointed. “We can talk about what you want to do for your birthday coming up.”

I look up mid-bite to stare at her.

“It’s your thirtieth, it’s a big deal,” she presses.

Yes, I know it’s a big deal. It’s a big deal because that’s when you’re supposed to have your life together. “Mom, that’s really the last thing I want to think about right now.”

“Fine,” she says getting frustrated. After a few minutes of silence, she leans forward as if to say something and then retreats.

“What’s wrong?” I ask her, knowing I won’t be able to avoid hearing what she wants to say.

“Well, I mean, aside from wanting to know what happened, I want to know what your plan is to get past this? I don’t want you just sulking around the house for the next few weeks.”

“Come on, Mom it’s been twelve hours since my life fell apart. I can’t get a full day to mourn here?”

“I didn’t mean it like that,” she defends herself, shaking her head as if I’ve blown things all out of proportion. “I was just reading this pamphlet about how to handle adult children living at home that I downloaded off the Internet.” She stands up and pulls it out of a drawer underneath the phone. Then she hands it to me. I scan it over. “When the Empty Nest Becomes Full Again,” I read. “I don’t plan on being here that long,” I say, handing it back to her. “Think of it as a two-week vacation.”

She doesn’t say anything. She simply shrugs and puts the pamphlet back in the drawer.

Finally, I give in and proceed to tell her what happened. My father, who’s come in from the garage to get his keys out of the drawer, listens in and eventually joins us at the table.

“Those bastards,” he contributes.

“Tell me about it,” I say, looking down at my milk and swirling the liquid inside the glass.

“Can you sue them?” my mom suggests.

“For what, exactly? Even if I could, it’s a law firm. You ever try to sue a bunch of lawyers?”

They’re both silent for a moment and give each other nervous looks. It’s obvious they’re trying to be supportive but they don’t really know what to say.

“It’s fine.” I try to convince them and myself. “I’m going to call a headhunter first thing Monday morning and I’m going to bounce back from this in no time. I’ll start looking at apartment listings today. Everything will be fine.” I stand up from my chair.

“I think you should at least stay here until you find another job,” my mother says. “There’s no sense in you getting an apartment somewhere and finding out your job is a far commute.”

Stay here? I do a double take. I can’t imagine doing that. “Mom, it’s New York. No matter where I get an apartment, as long as it’s in Manhattan, the commute will be doable.” I stand up and dump the remainder of my milk in the sink and load my glass and plate into the dishwasher.

“Well, what if you don’t get a job in New York?” she says, turning around in her chair to face me.

“Why wouldn’t I get a job in New York?” I ask, confused, as I close the dishwasher and stare out the window. I feel my body turn to ice at the thought.

“Well, Jill,” my dad says, “the job market is pretty bad, and as great as your resume and your education are, there may not be a lot of opportunities out there.”

“All we’re saying is maybe you’ve outgrown the city, and maybe now it’s time to settle somewhere closer to home. Maybe you’ll meet someone and settle down,” my mom concludes.

“Really?” I say, shaking my head. “You’re really giving me the you-aren’t-getting-any-younger speech when I’m already at the lowest point in my life?” I start to storm towards the hallway. I really don’t need to be hearing this right now.

“Sweetie, it’s not that I’m trying to kick you while you’re down, I’m just saying maybe it’s time to start reassessing your life.” My mom stands up to follow me.

“Thanks for the talk,” I say, walking past her and back up to my room. I suddenly feel like I’m a teenager again as I slam the door to my room.

“Marilynn, she just got home. Go easy on her,” I hear my dad defend me.

“Martin, I’m just following the pamphlet,” she insists.

“Well stop reading,” he says. “This is our daughter, not a case study.”

Living at home with my parents in my thirties? Maybe I really am a case study. I barely made it out alive the first time, how the hell am I supposed to do it all over again?

**Buy “Thirty Days to Thirty” now!: Amazon   Barnes and Noble   Smashwords


Thirty Days to Thirty (2)

**Click HERE for your chance to enter to in a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

**Click HERE to see other stops on Courtney’s Chick Lit Plus Blog Tour!

EXCERPT of “First & Goal” & GUEST POST by Laura Chapman


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“First & Goal” by Laura Chapman

Blurb: When Harper Duquaine’s no-nonsense approach to work unintentionally ruffles the wrong feathers at her new job, she joins her co-workers’ fantasy football league to prove she can hang with the guys. Only problem: she doesn’t know a sleeper from a keeper (or any of the other lingo thrown her way).

Embroiled in a world of lineups, stats, and trades, Harper’s quest to make nice topples when her competitive streak emerges. And her promise to herself that she’ll be a strong, independent woman and leave the drama and heartache behind is seriously tested when she catches the attention of her two biggest competitors: J.J., a local celebrity determined to win a fantasy championship, and Brook, the mild-mannered coach who seems too good to be true. Both threaten her resolve to remain single… and, more importantly, her chances at winning the prize pool.

With a slew of conflicting advice in her real and fantasy worlds, Harper must figure out how to play the game and come out a winner.

**Buy “First & Goal” now: Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Kobo

* * * * *


While I dig through piles of green and yellow shirts, I call my younger brother, Christopher. I need advice before the draft. I may not be in this for the glory of victory or the money, but I don’t want to embarrass myself by coming off as an idiot.

His sleepy voice answers a second before it goes to voicemail. “What’s going on?”

Not wasting any time, I explain the situation. After giving him a minute to get the laughter out of his system, I tell him what I need from him. “I need a crash course in drafting a team.”

“Why do you care if it isn’t about winning?”


He snorts. “Fair enough. Do you have a pen and paper?”

My hands freeze on a long-sleeved green and yellow rugby style shirt. “Not on me. Should I grab some?”

He busts out laughing again. This time I struggle to stay patient while he pulls himself together. “Can we get through this?” I ask. “Today if possible?”

“Calm down, BK.”

I glare at the pile of shirts. “I told you not to call me . . . that.”

“Technically, you told me not to call you—”

“Don’t even say it. And don’t pretend saying BK is any different.” I walk over to a rack of jerseys. “Tell me your ‘rules.’”

Christopher clears his throat and begins. “Rule number one: Don’t draft a kicker or defense until the last few rounds.”

“Why not?”

“It doesn’t matter if they show up as the highest-rated available player or if someone else makes a grab for kickers and defenses early. It’s a wasted pick. The guys in your league will make fun of you for the rest of the season if you do something so amateurish.”

Noted. Saving myself humiliation is the primary objective.

“Number two,” Christopher continues. “Don’t try to draft every player from your favorite team.”

“Why not? The Packers are good.”

“Yeah, but what happens if they have a bad week?”

I feign mock outrage. “Are you actually suggesting our beloved Packers would have anything less than a perfect season? What would Dad say?”

“Trust me on this one, Harper. Your Sunday . . . or Thursday or Monday will be a million times worse if you’re dealing with a Packers and fantasy loss.”

“Okay, avoid drafting the entire Packers starting lineup. Got it.” I’m going to have to do some fast research to find out who else I might want on my team. Basically, all the players I know are in Green Bay. “What’s next?”

“Have you found out what pick you have?”

My eyebrows furrow in confusion. “Pick?”

“Where are you in the draft order?”

Oh. “Fourth.”

“The first three people have selected the top three running backs in my mock drafts.” I want to ask what he means by ‘mock draft,’ but there’s no time. “You can have a little fun with being fourth, but I say you should take the Pope. You’ll impress the guys in your league.”

“Who’s ‘the Pope?’”

“John-Paul Massa. An underrated but totally badass running back.”

“Massa it is.” I stare at the Chad Baker jersey in front of me. “When can I draft Baker?”

“No sooner than the second round, but try to hold off until the third. You want to make sure you get a solid wide receiver, and they tend to go fast after the top six running backs are off of the board.”

“But I want Baker.”

“He’ll be around,” Christopher assures me. “And if things get hairy during your draft, you can always text me.”

“Is there a fourth rule?”

“Yes.” He clears his throat again and hesitates. Content with my clothing selections, I walk toward the checkout line. “My fast and final rule: Don’t let the guys seduce you into giving them the best players.”

My gasp of outrage draws attention from the person standing in front of me. I dart an apologetic grin, before hissing at my brother. “Why would you even go there?”

“Harper, you’re smart and driven.”

“But . . .”

“You’re an idiot when it comes to men.” He releases a heavy sigh. “Maybe it’s because deep down you’re a sweet person or maybe you’re too trusting, but you have a talent for giving it up to douchebags.”

I want to argue back on principle. I am a strong, independent woman, who doesn’t need a man to succeed. But, a glance back at my dating track record gives Christopher’s commandment some weight. Maybe I should tell him I’m a new woman after what happened with the last guy. Instead, I thank him for his advice and pay for the new football gear.

* * * * *


**About the author: Laura Chapman is the author of First & Goal, The Marrying Type, and Hard Hats and Doormats. Her work also appears in Merry & Bright, A Kind of Mad Courage, and All I Want For Christmas. A native Nebraskan, she loves Huskers and Packers football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. Laura is currently in pursuit of a fantasy football championship while penning her next novel.

**Contact Laura:

Website   Blog   Facebook   Twitter   Instagram

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* * * * *


No two days are exactly alike. That’s the beauty of being an author. One day you’re plotting, another you’re navigating your way through a tricky passage, and on the next you’re swearing at your computer, because your marketing plan hit a hiccup. While I’m a big plotter, one of my favorite parts about being an author is that it challenges me to adapt as the situation changes—which is every day.

When Isabella asked me to write about my life as an author, I found I couldn’t put it succinctly, because it’s always evolving. Rather than speak in generalities on the subject, I figured I’d share a few days that illustrate the world of Laura Chapman: My Life as an Author.

November 30, 2010

Only 1,000 more words to go. I note the time on the display in the corner of my computer monitor. It’s after seven—plenty of time to meet my deadline, yet it doesn’t seem like enough. It won’t be the end of the world if I don’t finish. No one will die, no wars will break out, and no one will care. Except for me. I will care.

When I started National Novel Writing Month on the first (Has it really been a whole month?) I was out to prove something. I had to show myself that I could do it—I could write a book if I sat down and made myself finish what I started. Finishing would be the key difference this time. The partial manuscripts rotting in a folder on my desktop were evidence of my inability to complete what I began. “Laura Chapman likes to start stories,” they seem to scream. “But she doesn’t have the follow-through to reach the end.”

Not this time. This time, I will hit the 50,000-word mark. And then I will keep at it until the story is done.

With only 1,000 words more words needed and a few hours until midnight, when I have to verify my word count online, I pack my laptop and drive to Indigo Bridge Books. The local bookstore has the vibe I need. People are always writing there, and productivity sizzles in the air. It will be good to spend some time around like-minded people. The bookstore also has another distinct advantage over staying home: it has Internet.

I’m two years out of college, and I’m still in a financial crunch. The recession hit mere months after I earned my diploma. I’m lucky to have a job, even if it doesn’t pay much. Tack on the student loans, rent, and the debt I accrued when I moved to and from Houston during the past eighteen months, and Internet is a luxury I can’t afford.

But I need the Internet tonight to verify my words. And I need to finish writing those words.

Settled in at a small table with a mocha latte and my laptop, I type away furiously. I can do this, I can write 1,000 more words tonight. I can paint the picture of Lexi Burke’s quirky world on the Gulf Coast. I can show her chemistry with Jason Beaumont. Oh man. Jason Beaumont. I may have broken the mold with this character. To my twenty-four-year-old self, he’s the epitome of male perfection. He has a good job, the motivation and drive to succeed, a sense of humor, and the everyday southern charm I witnessed countless times while I lived in Texas. And like Mr. Darcy, he has a pretty bitchin’ house. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a big sprawling home with a pool? I bet he has Internet, too.

And so I type and type away, giving pause every so often to check the time and my word count. What would Lexi do? Write it down. Keep going. Around nine, I do it. I pass the 50,000-word mark with some change. Adrenaline pulses through my veins. I did it. I wrote 50,000 words in one month. I still have a ways to go until I type “the end,” but this is a huge step in that direction.

Feeling like I just scored a six-figure advance from a major publisher, I pull up the NaNoWriMo website so I can let them know I finished. The page takes a full minute to load, and another minute passes before I get to the word verification section. I copy my document and paste the contents into the form. Blood pumps loudly in my ears. I click “verify my word count.”

And nothing happens.

The spinny wheel of death pops up and still nothing. I refresh the page, only to find I have to copy and paste my text once more. This time I wait longer. I’m about to break a pencil in half when an error message appears on the page. What the eff. I try a few more times without success. I hit up Twitter to see if anyone else is having issues. Just as I expect, the frustrated tweets flow on screen. Due to an influx of traffic, the NaNoWriMo website is having problems loading.

Well hell.

Not one to sit in my failure for long, I call a few friends with faster, stronger Internet connections until I find one who can help.


“Sure.”Of course Aja will help. We’ve been friends since first grade. We were in the same Brownies troop. Aren’t the Girl Scouts always preaching preparedness? Or is that Boy Scouts? At the very least, I’m quite certain we sang a song about being friends until the end. And this is as close to the end as I’ve ever come.

Staying on the line, I give Aja my password to log-in. I send her my document, and she runs through the same motions I had earlier. Only this time, instead of a spinny wheel of death or an error, a congratulatory message pops up on her screen.

“’Congratulations,’” she reads to me. “’You did it.’”

While she enters in the necessary information to complete my winner certification, the excitement returns. My eyes burn with unshed tears. For the first time ever, I feel like an author. I can do this. I can live my dream.

September 10, 2015

This isn’t a great time to be leaving town. My third novel launched yesterday, and there’s still a lot to do in the way of promotion. But I did my best to plan ahead. I sent out interviews and guest posts to more than thirty bloggers, and I scheduled my tweets and Facebook posts during the next few days. For the most part everything has gone like clockwork.

Except for one crucial element: one vendor still doesn’t have First & Goal available for sale. Oh, they say it’s available on the publishing dashboard, but the null searches on the purchasing side beg to differ. I suppose this isn’t a big deal—or so I keep telling myself to avoid having a stroke. It doesn’t look terribly professional to have to keep saying “It will be up soon,” to waiting readers, but what can you do?

You can have a heart attack or cry. I’ve come close to both, but to what end? I have a flight to catch for a previously planned business trip. Death and hysteria aren’t practical options.

At least the screening lines at the Lincoln Airport are fast. The small municipal airport usually gets you in and out without much fuss. That’s a good thing. I didn’t sleep much last night—or the night before. In addition to releasing a novel, I spent the previous day wrapping up a bunch of projects at my other job. Then I had to do laundry and pack my suitcase. As icing on the cake, I had to draft a crappy fantasy football team at almost midnight. It wasn’t my best draft, and there’s a lot of opportunity for heartbreak this season.

There’s always next year, I suppose.

Successfully through the TSA search, I park at the gate and pull out my laptop. Maybe there’s something I can do to help my book’s cause before I fly to Indianapolis by way of Chicago. Sure enough a new email appears from my publisher. Great news. The rogue distributor finally has First & Goal up on its site.

“We’ll begin pre-boarding for Chicago, please…”

With limited time, I update my blog and website. I post to Facebook and Twitter. Hopefully this helps me with a few more sales. Almost as quickly, I repack my suitcase and board the airplane. Crammed into the tiny puddle jumper, I check my social media pages and email until we are collectively asked to turn off our mobile devices. We taxi around the tiny tarmac then come to a halt.

A few minutes later, the captain’s voice booms over the intercom. “We’re experiencing some slight delays getting into Chicago. They’re a little backed up on account of some weather in the area. We’re going to hang out here for half an hour, but we’ll get you there as soon as possible.”

Sneaking out my phone, I check the status on my other flight. Still on time. Normally that would be great, but I only have a forty-five minute layover. And my gates are on opposing sides of the airport.

I guess that’s why the phrases “just one of those days” and “it’s always something” exist. Hell.

February 23, 2020

“Just five more minutes,” I plead. “I’m almost done with this scene.”

I said the same thing ten minutes ago, but this time I mean it. I know we should be out the door an on our way already, but there’s no stopping inspiration when it strikes. I’ve always written when the mood arises. I did it ten years ago when my stories were ideas, and I do it now that I’m a best-selling novelist. I can’t change who I am just because someone is in a hurry to hit the Red Carpet.

Not that I can blame him. My husband is up for an Academy Award—again—but this time I have no doubt he’s walking away with Oscar gold. He’s deserved it every time he’s been nominated, but the Academy would have to be crazy not to reward his ingenuity on screen. Besides, this year he has his good luck charm—me. At least that’s what he told me when he walked away with his Golden Globe and SAG awards earlier this season. I’m not sure if there’s any truth to the superstition. But if there is, well, my lucky charm skills can only be stronger now that we’re good and truly married.

(That’s between us right now, though. How we managed to sneak off to Germany for a simple, but beautiful, wedding with only our families and closest friends without alerting the media is still a mystery to me. But it will only be a secret for a few more hours. I snuck a peek at his acceptance speech—the one he won’t carry on stage, but has memorized. I distinctly saw a note to thank his “magnificent wife.” He actually called me magnificent. I’m living a fairy tale.)

I guess luck really is on our side this year. I’m married to one of the sexiest and most brilliant men alive—who is hours away from having “Academy Award winner” attached to his name—and my last five novels have hit number one on the bestseller lists.

And not to toot my own horn too much, but the screen adaptation for one of those books begins filming next month. The hubby and I are headed to the set after we take our overdue honeymoon. I helped pen the screenplay, so who knows? Maybe I’ll be adding “Academy Award winner” to my list of accolades one of these days too. For the moment I’m perfectly content with everything I have, including the scene I am just about to finish—

“My dear,” he calls out. “You know I could sit here and watch you write all day, but the studio will kill me if I don’t make a couple of stops on the Red Carpet. I’d hate to have Harvey tell me I’ll never work in this town again.”

I tear my eyes away from the screen and freeze. No matter how many times I see him in a tuxedo, I never seem able to keep myself from gaping. It’s hard not to—the man looks like he was born wearing an Armani suit.

Swallowing hard, I find my voice at last. “I’m done.” I slam the laptop shut, not caring whether or not I’ve saved the current draft or finished the scene. I rise from the desk in our hotel suite and gently smooth out any wrinkles that might have formed in my vintage Oscar de la Renta gown. “Sorry to keep you waiting.”

He captures my hand and raises it to his lips. “Worth waiting for.”

My stomach tumbles. It’s just like I’m seeing him for the first time when we met at that bookstore in London. He was picking up a couple of books to take on a shoot. I was finishing up a signing. That was almost two years ago, and here we are now.

He nods toward my laptop. “Are you at a good place for stopping? We can take a few more—”

“It’s good—great,” I correct myself, squeezing his hand. “And anyways, we can talk about the book later. You won’t have much of a choice when we’re on our way to Fiji. But tonight is about you.”

I can’t resist straightening his already perfect tie, just because I can.

“Your phone is charged?” I nod. “Then you can sneak in another scene in the car or during the commercials. And if any of the acceptance speeches go too long . . .”

Laughter about to erupt, I silence him with a kiss. We pull apart at last, and I can’t even remember what we were talking about. He does that to me. With my thumb, I smooth off the lipstick I inadvertently left on his lips. My shade of red does look nice on him though.

“Shall we?” he asks, taking my hand in his once again.

I nod. He leads me out of the room, down the elevator, and through the lobby to the waiting town car.

The driver scurries to open the door for us. “Ms. Chapman. Mr. Fassbender.”

If this isn’t living the dream, I don’t know what else could possibly compare.

* * * * *


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BOOK FEATURE: “A Ring for Christmas” by Wendy Ely


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“A Ring for Christmas” by Wendy Ely

Blurb: Nautica Pepper learned from an early age that nobody can stop her from following her dreams. She’s one of the few women boxers at One Punch Gym and demands that the women fighters get the same amount of attention as the men. With work on her mind, she doesn’t want to notice the hot guy who wants to join the One Punch family.

He wants nothing but the best! Javier Cruz already landed himself in a match with Trent McGibbon once before and won! Trent’s trainer, Felix Manzi, is the best in the biz, and Javier isn’t too proud to beg for a chance at joining the rest of the crew at the elite gym. If he trains with the best, he’ll be the best, right? He has one chance to prove himself to Felix and to Nautica. Felix gives him a fight on Christmas Eve that Javier can’t miss. But a family emergency sends him racing across the border.

Will Javier make it back in time to fight? Will Nautica decide that loving Javier is worth the risk?


“Good job, Gibbs,” Nautica yelled over the crowd before turning around to head back to her hotel room, but a man leaning against the doorframe caught her attention and stopped her in her tracks. She took a few steps closer. Wasn’t that the guy who’d been Trent’s opponent when he’d broken his hand? Another few steps. Same dark hair. Same dimpled cheeks. So sexy, broad shoulders. When she’d watched the fight between Gibbs and this guy, he’d been shirtless. Now he wore a suit jacket with a button-down underneath. No tie, but that was fine. This fighter oozed sex appeal that made her heart race and her panties damp. Too close to him now. She snapped her attention back to his face, and grumbled, “Excuse me.”

He stepped to the side to allow her to pass through the door, but said, “Aren’t you from One Punch Boxing?”

“Yeah,” she mumbled. Just because they were gorgeous didn’t mean they were smart, too. Her jacket read the gym’s name.

“Then I’ll be seeing you soon.”

“Huh?” Her eyes narrowed, trying to scan his face for an explanation of his statement. Just two dimples doing their best to twist her insides in a knot. Oh hell, they were doing their job, too.

“See you soon,” he repeated.

She shook her head as she walked away. Did he mean that he’d be joining the One Punch boxing crew? Hell no. He’d won against Trent. The boxers at One Punch were like a family, not quick to invite others into the mix. Besides, Felix didn’t like it when his players lost a fight and certainly when they got injured. Especially not to that guy.

**Buy “A Ring for Christmas” now!: Amazon   Barnes & Noble   iTunes



**About author, Wendy Ely: Wendy Ely is a USA Today bestselling author, who writes some romantic suspense, really hot stories, and the wonderful happily-ever-after. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her two teenagers, and two crazy cats. When she isn’t busy writing new stories, she enjoys time outdoors by taking trips to the hot desert or swimming at the lake.

**Contact Wendy: Facebook   Twitter   Website

HOLIDAY SALE! “Merry & Bright” is only $0.99!


Hey, everyone! I hope you all are having a wonderful day! To celebrate the upcoming holidays, and add in a little cheer, I thought I’d share with you a little treat!

Holiday Sale MB FB Post

“Merry & Bright” is on sale for $0.99!

“Merry & Bright” has been out for just over two years, and my contribution, “Meet Me Under the Mistletoe,” was my first published story, which is what made me an author. While I’m proud of the short story I wrote, I’m even more proud to have my name on the cover with five other authors I share this book with, though we couldn’t have done it without Lucie Simone at Simon & Fig! That being said, if you’re already in the holiday spirit (or are wanting to get into it), be sure to pick up your copy now, (the sale ends on December 31st).

MERRY-BRIGHT-SALEBlurb: Sip your eggnog, linger under the mistletoe, and make a Christmas wish. Merry & Bright brings you six tales of Christmas cheer, featuring stories of budding romances, Southern charm, lost loves, heaps of humor, and lots of pie by authors Isabella Louise AndersonCindy AroraLaura Chapman, Lauren ClarkLibby Mercer, and Nancy Scrofano. From sunny Los Angeles to the Rocky Mountains to the Deep South, Merry & Bright will take you on a heartwarming adventure you’ll love to visit again and again. Wrap yourself in holiday mirth and prepare to be swept off your feet.

**Buy “Merry & Bright” now!: AmazonAmazon UKBarnes & Noble, Barnes & Noble UKiTunes and Kobo

INTERVIEW with Kathleen Irene Paterka, author of “Secrets of the Royal Wedding Chapel”



About the author: KATHLEEN IRENE PATERKA is an Amazon bestselling author of women’s fiction novels. Her popular James Bay series includes Fatty Patty, Home Fires, Lotto Lucy, and For I Have Sinned. Her latest work, The Other Wife, is set in Chicago. Her newest release, Secrets of the Royal Wedding Chapel, was published by Booktrope Publishing in October 2015. Kathleen lives in Northern Michigan with her husband Steve, where she is busy working on her next James Bay novel.

**Contact Kathleen: Website   Facebook   Pinterest   Twitter   Subscribe to Kathleen’s newsletter


Describe yourself in five sentences: My husband would say I’m his best friend (true), romantic (I try my best!), and passionate about the things (and people) I love. My daughter would say that I am a perfectionist (true), creative (true), and overprotective (Hey! She’s 34 years old, but I’m her mother. Mothers are allowed to be overprotective!). My own mother (who died in March 2015) would have said that I work too hard (still debating that one), that I’m too hard on myself (I tend to agree at times), and that I’m kind, generous, and good-hearted (Mom, stop! People will think you’re prejudiced). My friends would say I tend to run full-tilt (true), I can be counted on to keep my word (also true), and that I’m loyal to a fault (and this is a problem?). As for what I think about myself? The jury’s still out on that one!

What is your writing/editing/publishing process like? I’m a very slow writer. It takes me a good year to write the rough draft of a book. My novels tend to run 80,000 – 100,000 words. There are days I consider myself lucky to even get one page written. Once the rough draft is finished, I start in on a round of edits (my least favorite part of the creative process). I hate chopping away at my words; I consider them ‘my babies’. Once the edits are done, I work with a professional editor/proofreader. The story is then re-edited, and then submitted to either my publisher or readied for indie-pub.

When did you know you were a writer? When I was 8 yrs old, I read my first Trixie Belden book (a series about a teenage girl detective). After devouring the novel, I made a decision right then and there that when I would grew up, I would be an author and write more Trixie Belden books.

Salty or sweet? I love a dash of salt on foods, and a bit of sweetness in the books I read.

Every author must have (a): Patience, perseverance, and nerves forged of steel.

Do you have any writing rituals? I’m up early every morning, on purpose. The house is quiet, and there are no distractions to pull me away from the steady stream of dialogue as the characters start chatting in my head. The world outside may still be sleeping, but my mind is buzzing. I try to get it all down on paper before too many interruptions pull me out of the magical daydream my imagination has created.

Tell us what a typical day is like for you? Since I have a day job (I’m the resident staff writer at a Castle! How romantic!), it’s necessary for me to allocate my time very carefully. My alarm goes off at 5 every morning. By 6:30, I’m dressed, have had breakfast, and am at my computer where I work for two hours on my latest writing project. I shut down at 8:30 AM, and then I’m off to work at the Castle. After dinner with my husband, I’m back at the computer answering emails and chatting on social media. Weekends, I pretty much follow the same scenario, except my alarm doesn’t go off at 5 AM… plus, I allow four hours for writing, rather than two. But regardless of whether I’m working my day job or not, mornings are reserved for my novels. That’s when my creative juices are fresh and flowing.

Hard/paperbacks or eBooks? Both! I’m a big fan of our public library, which has plenty of hard cover and paperback books to enjoy. Libraries = free books! What’s not to love about free books? But eBooks are great too, and I especially love my Kindle. There’s no waiting for someone to return a library book you want to read. Just download it on your Kindle. One flick of a finger, one-stop shopping! But hard/paperback or eBook, the most important thing I look for is a great story that keeps my interest.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Retired from my ‘day job’ as staff writer at a Castle, and cozily tucked away at my home computer working on my novels.

If you could meet another author, who would it be? Stephen King. I’m a huge fan of his books. His novel 11/22/63 about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is a literary masterpiece. King’s non-fiction work On Writing is the one craft book about writing that I keep close at hand.

What do you want readers to take away from your books? Take heart and have courage. There are plenty of experts out there handing out advice on how to deal with things. You can have all the head knowledge in the world, but it doesn’t begin to touch what’s inside your heart. My novels are about real people trying to find their way through issues or events that have shattered their lives. How do you learn to pick up the pieces? I believe that it’s ultimately about listening to what’s in your heart, rather than your head. That’s what I hope readers gain from reading my books.

What are you working on right now? My latest book takes readers back to the small resort town of James Bay (the setting for my first four novels: Fatty Patty, Home Fires, Lotto Lucy, and For I Have Sinned. The book features Chuck’s Tavern and Grill, a local eatery from the first four books. Chuck owns the Tavern, and his adult daughter Katie is the manager. Chapter 1 starts out with a simmering stew of a story that quickly escalates into a rolling boil when a mysterious young woman shows up at the Tavern and takes a seat at the bar. Who’s the stranger? What’s she doing in James Bay? Why is she so fascinated with Chuck? Katie’s radar is on high alert. She’s very protective of her dad, and she doesn’t appreciate strangers trying to worm their way into his affections. There’s a touch of mystery, a dash of romance, a pinch of suspense, and plenty of twists and turns… blend together, and hopefully it will turn into a delicious read (especially since each chapter features a favorite recipe from Chuck’s menu!)

SecretsOfTheRoyalWeddingChapelCoverPic**Blurb: Immersed in the regal world of weddings and romance, Lily Lavender grew up believing in brides, grooms and happily-ever-afters. A direct descendant of the British royals, it seemed her destiny and royal birthright to someday assume a position as wedding coordinator in their family-owned wedding chapel business. But when her mother Mimi’s third marriage eventually fails, Lily’s dreams of her own happily-ever-after quickly fade. She’s no longer interested in a life of assisting brides walk down the aisle into a life of disillusionment and possible divorce. Lily turns her back on The Royal Wedding Chapel and leaves Las Vegas to fashion a life of her own. Years later, Lily—now a single mom—discovers her teenage daughter has run off to Las Vegas, lured by Mimi to help run the chapel. Determined to save her daughter from the broken dreams of Sin City and the nonsensical world of which family fairy tales are made, Lily returns to Las Vegas. But nothing prepares Lily for the royal drama which awaits her… or the sins and secrets she stumbles across that threaten to close the chapel and ruin her family forever.


There’s a reason they call this town Sin City, my mother told me long ago when I questioned her about something I’d heard at school that day. But when I asked about the secrets part, Mimi had refused to explain. “You’re much too young to hear about such things, Lily,” she said and left it at that.

I wandered away, a confused eight-year-old, my head filled with even more questions. How could Las Vegas be full of sin and secrets when it was filled with so much sunshine? Growing up in this town, in the ornate, spacious villa behind Mimi’s Royal Wedding Chapel near the center of the Strip, I saw the glitz and glamour. It shimmered and sparkled like the beautiful brides in their wedding gowns gracing the aisles of the chapel. Peeking around the pews, I saw their glowing faces, heard the vows exchanged, witnessed the beginnings of so many happily-ever-afters.

And then I grew up.

It took a while—around the time Mimi’s third marriage, the one to Jack’s father, collapsed—for me to discover the truth. Las Vegas is full of sin and secrets. Most of them stay in Vegas, left behind to be cleaned up by maids and blackjack dealers who sweep away the debris. Others get carried home like guilty luggage, busting up marriages and businesses and causing bankruptcy.

I’m forty years old, and that naïve little girl I used to be disappeared long ago. She learned that happily ever after is merely an illusion and that sins and secrets can weigh just as heavy on your heart as our family’s heirloom tiara can weigh on your head. The dazzling crown, in the special display case behind bulletproof glass in the lobby of the Royal Wedding Chapel, gleams like the fortune it is worth. But the antique combs pinch and the diamond diadem is a burden. How my grandmother managed to keep the jewel-encrusted crown on her head when presented to the Queen is the stuff of which family legends are made. With my grandfather descended from British nobility and in distant line for the throne, the tiara is a priceless treasure, proof of our family’s heritage.

As far as I’m concerned, though, that tiara is exactly where it belongs: safely behind glass, viewed from a distance. It glitters and sparkles, but the pain isn’t worth it. Dare to wear it, as I did once, and—just like the secrets hidden in Sin City—the pain and guilt will tear you down. I’m lucky I managed to yank it off in time.

And I refuse to allow that tiara to ruin my daughter’s life the way it almost ruined mine.





“Losing Eva” by Jennifer Sivec

Blurb: Tragedy often seeks us out at the very moment we least expect it.

Brynn and Adam Michaels are rebuilding their lives after Brynn’s painful and cruel past threatened to tear them apart. Just when Brynn lets her guard down and imagines that she and Adam can have a happy life, a stranger arrives, threatening everything.

And when the one thing holding them together is ripped cruelly from their lives, they are irreparably changed, their fragile life together, teetering dangerously on the edge.

Losing Eva is the deeply complex, emotional sequel to Leaving Eva, and the second novel in the Eva Series. Caution: Eva’s story contains graphic violence, strong language, drug abuse, domestic abuse, and chid abuse.

Jennifer Sivec, author of women’s fiction, once again creates a deeply beautiful story of hope and promise, while exploring the dark edges of the human spirit and questioning how much suffering one can endure, until they are finally lost forever.

**Get the book now, (it’s FREE)!: Amazon

jennifer%20sivec**About the author:

Women’s fiction writer, Jennifer Sivec, has always found an escape in books and beautiful stories. In writing, she has discovered refuge and sanctity her entire life, which quiets the chaos while giving her perspective and peace of mind. She finds inspiration in the balance of beauty and tragedy, which is something she has experienced personally.

Jennifer was born in Seoul, Korea and then abandoned at a very young age. At the age of three, she was adopted and has lived in Ohio for most of her life. She is married to her best friend, Jeff, and together they share two incredible, funny boys.

Jennifer is the author of The Eva Series and the standalone novel, I Run to You. Leaving Eva is her first complete work and was originally released in April of 2013. Losing Eva is the sequel and continuation of Eva’s heartbreakingly beautiful story. The Eva series is an intense journey into abandonment, abuse, alcoholism, and cutting, with numerous twists and turns that will keep the reader holding their breath until the very end.

You can stay up to date with Jennifer by visiting and signing into her website http://www.jennifersivec.com/apps/guestbook/.

**Contact Jennifer: Website   Blog   Facebook Author Page   Facebook Profile   Street Team Group

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EXCERPT of “Lowcountry Bordello” and INTERVIEW by Susan M. Boyer



“Low country Bordello” by Susan M. Boyer

Blurb: The Charleston streets are dressed for the holidays in sophisticated Southern style: topiaries adorned with red ribbons, garland entwined with white lights, and poinsettias potted in gold planters. The high class bordello in a stately historic home is certainly no exception. When Private Investigator Liz Talbot’s dear friend Olivia swears she saw a dead body in the parlor of this bordello, one Olivia accidentally co-owns, Liz promptly comes to her aid.

With her wedding back home on Stella Maris less than a week away, Liz must juggle one elderly madam, two ex and future in-laws, three ghosts in the bordello, four giddy bridesmaids, five lovely courtesans, six suspicious patrons…and a partridge in a pear tree as she tries to keep her bridesmaid out of jail and live to walk down the aisle.

Related subjects include: women sleuths, private investigator mystery series, murder mysteries, whodunit mysteries (whodunnit), book club recommendations, Southern fiction, Southern humor, Southern living.


A Day in the Life of Liz Talbot, PI, by Susan M. Boyer

The dead are not altogether reliable. Colleen, my best friend, calls herself a Guardian Spirit. I can’t argue with the facts at hand: She’s been dead seventeen years, and she watches my back. I’m a private investigator, so situations arise from time to time wherein my back needs watching. Technically, Colleen’s afterlife mission is to protect Stella Maris, our island home near Charleston, South Carolina, from developers and all such as that. Since I’m on the town council and can’t abide the notion of condos and time-shares on our pristine beaches, protecting me falls under her purview.

Solving my cases, however, does not. She’ll tell me that in a skinny minute should I happen to mention how she could be more helpful. But she has been known to toss me the occasional insight from beyond that provokes a train of thought, which, upon reflection, proves useful. Here’s the thing: Colleen shows up when she detects I’m in danger. Sometimes she warns me in advance. Occasionally she drops by just to chat. But she doesn’t come whenever I think of her or call her name. It rarely works like that.

One Monday in December, I really could’ve used Colleen’s perspective. We were closing in on Christmas, and I was getting married on the twentieth—in five days. I was a teensy bit distracted, is what I’m saying.

It was a little after ten in the morning, and I was at my desk in the living room of my beachfront house, which doubles as my office. I was deep into research on a criminal case Nate, my partner and fiancé, and I were working for Andy Savage. Andy was a high profile Charleston attorney, and while this case didn’t amount to much more than fact-checking, we hoped it would lead to a lucrative relationship for Talbot and Andrews, our agency.

I stared at my computer screen and reached for one of Mamma’s Christmas cookies. My phone trilled out the ringtone named Old Phone. Old Phone was reserved for old friends. I grabbed my phone instead of the cookie.

Robert Pearson. He’d been a year ahead of me in high school, the same age as my brother, Blake. He’d married one of my best friends. Robert was also our family attorney, and he and I were both on the Stella Maris town council.

I tapped the green “accept” button.

After we exchanged the usual pleasantries, he said, “I wondered, if you’re not too busy, could you drop by this afternoon? There’s something I want to run by you.”

“I have an appointment at one that’s going to take most of the afternoon.” Multi-toned highlights are a maintenance issue, especially with hair as long as mine. My natural sandy blonde would turn Tweety Bird yellow if Dori looked at it wrong. She always took her time, but five days before my wedding she’d be excruciatingly meticulous. I couldn’t walk down the aisle with yellow hair.

“Noon?” he asked.

“Sure. See you then.”

“Thanks, Liz. I really appreciate it.” He sounded way too grateful for such an ordinary request. This is what should’ve tipped me off that something was up.

Copyright © 2015 by Susan M. Boyer — This excerpt is reprinted by permission from Henery Press. All rights reserved.

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SusanMBoyerPic**About the author: Susan M. Boyer is the author of the USA TODAY bestselling Liz Talbot mystery series. Her debut novel, Lowcountry Boil, won the 2012 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, and garnered several other award nominations, including the Macavity. Lowcountry Boneyard, the third Liz Talbot mystery, was a Spring 2015 Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Okra Pick. Lowcountry Bordello, the fourth book in the series, was released November 3, 2015. Susan loves beaches, Southern food, and small towns where everyone knows everyone, and everyone has crazy relatives. You’ll find all of the above in her novels.

Susan lives in Greenville, SC, with her husband and an inordinate number of houseplants.

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Describe yourself in five words: Do I need to make a sentence with them? Because that’s harder… Family-oriented book-freak-of-a karaoke-loving chocoholic wine enthusiast. Wait, that’s six… I don’t know what else to hyphenate.

When did you know you were a writer? I think from a very young age—early teens, maybe? But it was a long time before I could act upon my goals.

Salty or sweet? Oh, how to choose? I like them both, especially together.

Tell us about your writing/editing/publishing process? I like to have four months to produce a draft that I’m going to send to my editor. I don’t always have that, because life happens. When I’m writing, I write five days a week, sometimes seven. I typically start around nine in the morning and work throughout the day. The next day, the first thing I do is edit what I wrote yesterday. That gets me back into the story, and by the time I’ve finished the first draft, it’s already been edited once. I like to let the manuscript rest for a week, then dive back into an edit. Rinse and repeat. Once I’ve turned a manuscript in, I get high-level, developmental edits, then copy edits and proofreading. Once I get advance reader copies, there’s a last round of proofreading. Then I go into pre-launch/marketing mode. After the book is launched, I do some online events as well as some in person. Then the whole cycle starts over form the beginning.

Hard/paperbacks or eBooks? I love the feel of a hardback book in my hands. That said, I do read eBooks when I’m traveling for convenience and when I’m overcome by a moment of instant gratification syndrome, like when I finish one book in a series at midnight and can’t wait until the next day to start the next.

Is the social media a help or a hinder? Honestly, both. I love interacting with readers and keeping up with family, but at times I do get caught up and spend too much time online.

Where do you get your ideas coming from? Virtually anywhere. I have a vivid imagination. Something I overhear, sometimes just a few words, might start a story percolating. Or a picture, or a news story. It doesn’t take much to get me started.

If you could meet any other author who would it be? That’s a tough one. I’ve met and had the opportunity to speak with so many authors I admire through conventions and book festivals, and there are many I’d like to spend more time with. Among those I’ve never met who I’d like to spend some time with would be Stephen King. His book, On Writing has been very helpful to me, especially when I was beginning to write.

Where do you see yourself in five years? I’d like to have at least five more books in the Liz Talbot series out, and possibly the first book in a new series I’m just beginning to think about.

Every author must have (a): I think this may vary from author to author. I know I need a quiet place to write, free from distractions. But others love the coffee shop environment.

What do you want readers to take away from your books? Honestly, I just want readers to have fun reading my books. I want the books to be a pleasant escape into an alternate world where the reader can relax and enjoy a break.

What are you working on right now? The next Liz Talbot mystery, LOWCOUNTRY BOOK CLUB.


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