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Archive for the ‘romance books’ Category

I am delighted to have another contributing author visit, and bring their story for the Soul Mate Tree Collection of stories. Today I have the pleasure of hosting Steven Mitchell. His book is a delightful and fun Science Fiction Romantic Comedy, called “Between Venus and Mars”.

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An ancient legend spanning eras, continents, and worlds. To some, it’s nothing more than a dream. To others, a pretty fairy tale handed down through the generations.

For those in critical need of their own happy ending, a gift.

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HEAT LEVEL: Steamy **  An intergalactic adventure filled with laughs, love, and adventure.

Once Upon a Galaxy . . .

Zana Starchild is on a mission to restore her tribe’s livestock and save herself from one more meal of kelp. Sure, it’s technically illegal to visit Old Earth, but to a rim rat like Zana, galactic laws are really just guidelines. Her wrecked starship just means she’ll need to use her backup plan to get off the abandoned world, an old Earth legend her uncle passed down to her.

Pulled from a relaxing shower, across the galaxy to Old Earth, Galactic Marshall Kyle Kepler finds himself naked and marooned with a quirky rim rat. Zana’s broken more laws than Kyle can count, and he plans to arrest her, just as soon as he can find transport off the planet and a pair of pants.

A junk heap of a starship, a magical tree, and a roving gang of mutant kangaroos are just the beginning of rollicking intergalactic journey filled with laughs, love, and adventure.

Book Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rV0BQCcwhfk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdtFXXlGvbk

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Between-Venus-Mars-Soul-Mate-ebook/dp/B01N7OXSND/

Author S.C. Mitchell has this to say: When series collide: Between Venus and Mars is not only set the multi-dimensional worlds of the Soul Mate Tree legend, but also ties into my Hearts in Orbit series, a futuristic universe filled with starships, aliens, and new technologies. And, of course, romance. The Soul Mate Tree project offered me a great way to play with some new characters and further develop my universe, while partnering with some of the best authors in the business.

The Hearts in Orbit universe is a place where galactic marshals keep the peace in the cosmopolitan Core Worlds as well as the wild-west type rim world planets. While this book works as a standalone, and you don’t have to have read any of the others, I consider it Hearts in Orbit 2.5, fitting nicely between Pirates of the Dark Nebula and my soon-to-be-released Hearts in Orbit 3 novel Captives of the Kratzen.

Series Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B016DF63JM/

 

                              Hidden strengths, adventurous hearts.

S.C.Mitchell grew up an avid reader of comic books, science fiction and fantasy literature. He’s been writing stories for over thirty years. In 2010 he left his job as a computer desktop support specialist to pursue his passion for writing full time. He is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as the Wisconsin chapter.

As a writer of paranormal and sci-fi romance, fantasy, and science fiction, Steve crafts unique and wondrous worlds where his characters explore, romp, and fall in love. Whether traveling through dark, demon filled dimensions, the edge of wild space, or ancient mythological heavens, his heroes and heroines, guided by their adventurous hearts, discover hidden strengths on their pathway to enduring love.

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You’ll find him at:

http://scmitchellauthor.com/

Blog: http://scmitchellauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSCMitchell

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorSMitchell

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007D0Z1MW

Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rV0BQCcwhfk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdtFXXlGvbk

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I am happy to showcase a series by Soul Mate author Rebecca E. Neely. I have read two of the books in her Crossing Realms trilogy, and reviewed her first book, The Keeper, on this blog last year. The Betrayer is the 3rd book in the series and is currently being written now.

THE KEEPER  (Book 1)  

Nick Geary, jaded clan leader of human guardians, the Keepers, is doomed to love a human woman who’s forgotten him, time after time, for thirteen years: Libby Klink, a skittish accountant who’s as terrified of her recent and strange intuitions as she is of her mundane existence.

When Nick is ordered by the clan’s guiding force to seek Libby’s help in defending the clan against enemy Betrayers, romance sizzles as the pair forms an unlikely alliance in their desperate search to discover the key to the clan’s salvation—which Libby alone holds.

But a haunting secret could cost Nick everything, and in a race against time, both will be forced to choose between their hearts and duty. Can their love, and the clan survive, or will the very forces that drew them together ultimately destroy them?

 

THE WATCHER  (Book 2)

Hell bent on avenging his own death, former Keeper Dev Geary eagerly accepts when the Watchers task him with returning to the human realm to discover the secret for rendering Similitude—the very thing that killed him.

But to succeed in the seven days he’s been granted, he’ll need to work with the one human who wants nothing to do with him, and who he can’t help falling for—Meda Gabriel, a cagey, street smart bar owner with a unique skill set, and maybe, the key to his mission.

With the clock ticking and the Betrayers barely a step behind, can Dev overcome his demons and find the answers the clan so desperately needs, with Meda at his side? Can love find a way, or will he be forced to abandon her and the clan, leaving them all to face imminent destruction?

Can a former Keeper hell bent on avenging his own death conquer his demons in time to save his clan, and his heart?

Buy links:

REBECCA E. NEELY, AUTHOR  ~  Romance. Paranormal. Suspense.

A sucker for a happy ending, Rebecca strives to write the kind of stories she loves to read—gritty, suspenseful and featuring authentic, edgy and vulnerable characters, smack dab in the middle of action that explodes from page one.

Careers, past and present, include freelance writing, accounting, mother, problem solver, doer and head bottle washer.

Rebecca is a member of Three Rivers Romance Writers (TRRW), a PAN member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), and is proud to serve as a judge for several writing contests each year.

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CONNECT WITH REBECCA:

Website: www.rebeccaneely.com

Blog: https://rebeccaneelysite.wordpress.com/

Mailing List: http://eepurl.com/bqiDi5

Facebook    https://www.facebook.com/rebecca.mullnerneely

Twitter   https://twitter.com/Rebeccaneely1

Amazon   https://www.amazon.com/author/rebeccaeneely

Goodreads  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9857158.Rebecca_E_Neely

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/rebneely/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rebneely/

BONUS! REVIEW OF “THE WATCHER”!

“The Watcher” picks up where Book 1 “The Keeper” ended. To fully understand the characters, the setting, premise, etc…, I would highly recommend starting with book 1 first. Otherwise, parts of book 2 will not make sense. That said, “The Watcher” is the suspenseful story of Dev Greary, and introducing Meda Gabriel. It is fast paced, spicy, and full of loads of romance.

Dev, a returning character from book 1, and a hero in his own right, is fresh from his recent death and hell bent on revenge. Except he is charged only to helping his fellow Keepers clan to avoid catastrophic trouble. A lone wolf, Dev’s death hasn’t chilled him out much. He still lives “between the inches” in every situation.

So now he is back on earth, albeit temporarily, thanks to The Watchers. He has seven short days to right some wrongs and save human kind from the damage of the Betrayers. And, well, if he can manage to avenge his death, so much the better. Right?

To succeed at the revenge, he needs to get very lucky. To succeed in helping the Keepers and all human kind, he needs the help of Miss Meda Gabriel. She is the daughter of a late scientist and researcher whose work aligned very much to the non-human Keepers. Meda is the perfect match to Dav’s devil-may-care personality. She’s independent, wicked smart, and takes no crap from him. Ever. She sees right through him.

In fact, the lovely Meda can see a lot of things, with just a simple touch. Unfortunately, she can’t see into Dev’s heart and soul. And his Watcher ability to see into human’s vistas doesn’t work with Meda either.

Be prepared to read about a fair bit of scientific stuff–some factual and some probably a bit of literary fantasy. For example, I learned that everything contains energy. To paraphrase Ms. Neely, “Good energy, bad energy, it is everywhere and in everyone. Vitality is the whole of those energies”.

Ms. Neely has once more created a cast of characters, both good and bad. who are committed to their passions. Whether it is saving man-kind or destroying it, she blends suspense with science, with adventure, and with spicy romance in an artful style that will keep the reader turning the pages.

Time is short. Only seven days allowed. The clock–and the passions–are ticking.

 

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This story began with a rough and rocky start. A woman was getting beat–again–by her alleged boyfriend. It left a sour taste in my mouth and I almost stopped reading right there. But I reasoned there was hopefully nowhere else for the plot to go but up, so I turned another page.

To be honest, it was hard to swallow and I wondered why this woman–the story’s heroine–was staying for yet around round of abuse. After a flip of the page, she has left the sod, apparently for good. I let out a ragged breath and turned the page again.

Lauren McCray left Michigan in a haste, fleeing the vile and completely hate-able Clint Jackson. She eventually crosses enough state lines to run into Chase Montgomery, a slow drawling rancher you can’t help but instantly stumble into. Or fall for

Grammatical errors abound, which distracted from the read. It is a good story but I felt it could have benefited from another round of edits. The suspense was tight, the characters–especially the secondary ones–well-developed, and the story line moved along at a nice pace.Yes, there are rustlers involved, and I won’t spoil it except to say it was not exactly who I thought it might be. And there is very fast romance between Lauren and Chase. Personally, considering her terrible track record, I thought she ought to wait a bit before dashing off to love-land with Chase, but sometimes it just happens that fast. And Chase is just the protective rancher that you want to cuddle with and start your day with, and definitely end you day with.

Overall, “Rustlers and Romance” was not a bad book to read, fairly short at 129 pages, and worth spending an afternoon or evening curled up with.

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Incredible. That was the single word that came to mind months ago when I first learned of Soul Mate Publishing’s latest endeavor.  As it was described to me, this is a flagship group of Soul Mate authors who are busy creating a series of thirteen novellas for The Soul Mate Tree Collective, which combines legend and fantasy to bring soul mates together over time, over continents . . . over worlds.

 

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The legend of the soul mate tree:
I am old, I am ancient, my purpose is clear
To give those who are needy a treasure so dear.
They who come to my roots, touch my bark, stroke my leaves
Find the soul of their lives if they but believe.
When I call and you listen, your prize will be great
If your heart remains open and you don’t hesitate.
Do you yearn? Be you lonely? Is your time yet at hand?
Reach for me and I’ll give to you. I’m yours to command.
For your trust, for your faith, keep my secrets untold
And I’ll gift you forever, to have and to hold.
An ancient legend spanning eras, continents, and worlds. To some, it’s nothing more than a dream. To others, a pretty fairy tale handed down through the generations.
For those in critical need of their own happy ending, a gift.  The second story to launch in this series is by C.D. Hersh, entitled “Can’t Stop the Music”. As a treat, there is a short except at the bottom of this post.

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Here is the story’s Blurb:

For college senior and hippie wannabe Rosemary—Rose for short—a teaching job is within her grasp, but she wants more. She wants love, the kind of love that has bound her parents for so many years. When she’s dumped by her current boyfriend because her morals can’t bring her to give in to free love, she finds herself at Woodstock in the middle of the biggest free-love music festival of the Sixties. Alone, again. Until a magical tree grants her wish and she finds the man of her dreams—and loses him before she really knows who he is.

Dakota meets the girl of his dreams at Woodstock, but a jealous wannabe girlfriend drives them apart before he can discover Rose’s last name and where she comes from. After he sees a disappearing tree that promises him true love, a frantic search to find Rose comes up empty-handed.

Magic and music brings them together at Woodstock in 1969. Misunderstandings tear them apart. Will two flower children find one another again, or live with missed opportunities?

Book Trailer for The Soul Mate Tree: https://youtu.be/VjxyyD3TVoA

Trailer for CAN’T STOP THE MUSIC: https://youtu.be/18EuE-SOvH4

About C.D. Hersh:  

Two hearts creating everlasting love stories. Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.

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The books of their paranormal romance series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles are available on Amazon. They also have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors. (including yours truly)

They are looking forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life.

Connect with C.D. Hersh:

Website: https://cdhersh.wordpress.com/
Soul Mate Publishing Author Blogsite: http://smpauthors.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cdhershauthor
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/cdhersh
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorCDHersh
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/CDHersh

As Promised, a Short Excerpt:  “Can’t Stop the Music”

As they made their way to the festival site, Rose and her friends grooved to the music coming from the stage.

When they reached the makeshift bridge over the road, someone yelled, “Hey beautiful! You with the red hair.”

She looked around to see if there was anyone else with red hair. Then she glanced up and spotted two guys, one blond and the other dark-haired, leaning over the side of the bridge.

“Yeah, you,” the blond called out as he caught her gaze.

Willow halted beside her. “He’s cute. How about him?”

Rose looked away, her gaze landing on the other guy.

He jabbed his companion in the ribs. “Quit trying to pick up every girl you see.” Then he leaned farther over the rail. “Don’t pay any attention to him. He’s high.”

“So she’s not beautiful?” Willow yelled to the hippie.

She poked her friend. “Stop it, Willow, you’re making a scene.” In spite of her protest, her gaze remained on the dark-haired guy.

He rested his elbows on the rail and stared back at her. The intensity of his expression shot heat into her belly.

“I didn’t say that, just that she shouldn’t pay attention to him.” He flapped a hand at his blond buddy, then tapped his own chest with his thumb several times as if to say, ‘Choose me!’

Does he want me to pay attention to him? Her heart thumped in rhythm to his jabbing thumb.

“Take that one,” Willow whispered. “He’s the real cutie.”

Before she could respond, the crowd pushed them forward. When they reached the other side of the bridge, she looked back, searching for the dark-haired hippie, but the spot where he’d stood was empty.

Just my luck. I see someone who’s intriguing and he disappears.

With a sigh, she continued the trek to the festival grounds.

_________________________________________________________

I’ve had the pleasure to read this story before its release and would like to offer my opinion here.

Fans of Woodstock will enjoy the trip down memory lane. At the back of the book the authors thoughtfully included the song list of 60’s, 70’s, and other nostalgic titles that will surely wake up those groovy feelings of yesteryear. Music fans will be pleased with the many references to the classics and assorted instruments. All grown up, Rose (the heroine) and Dakota (the hero) leave Woodstock behind them and engage in teaching careers within the music field.

“Can’t Stop the Music” is a short read that delivers a lot of feel good emotions and enough questions to keep one turning the pages. The ultimate question of whether a bit of magic from a special tree can transcend time to bring two free love kids from the 60’s together ten years later will be answered only after much tension and twists & turns. Without spoiling the plot, let’s just say it is expected for people to move on and have a life over a ten year span. What happens when that life collides with the return of a past life? What happens when you can’t stop the music in your heart and soul?

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I began reading The Black Sheep, by Patricia Ryan, because I am unabashedly drawn to the bad boys (a fact that landed me in some trouble when I was young). And honestly, the model’s arresting gaze on the cover whispered to my curiosity. Oh yeah, plus the author is a USA Today bestselling author.

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Plus the nearly 400 Amazon reviews helped cement the decision.

This is the story of Harley and Tucker.  Harley is the house-sitter in charge. Tucker has a 20 year estrangement from his dad.  He arrives home to find the pretty new house-sitter. Now they have a few weeks to spend getting to know one another till  Tucker’s dad arrives.

Harley is organized and a wee bit of a control freak and perfectionist. She is regimental in her duties and habits. For her, it’s rooted in a rough past and how she keeps balance in her life now. Tucker is a true black sheep, in that he’d would rather bolt from any sort of conflict, and well intended truths, then deal with reality. He is also casual and lax in all matters of everyday. Clearly, Harley and Tucker are personality opposites.

Technical stuff, some errors that were not caught in editing that distracted from the reading flow and a few places where the tension sagged, but picked back up again in a page or two. It was not enough to keep me from reading on.

For all of Tuckers obvious flaws, he does have a tender and caring streak a mile wide. The time with Harley gives him chances to show those character traits. Haley, for all her prim and proper, can also harbor a careless streak of her own, taking the reader, certainly Tucker, and perhaps herself, by surprise.

Tucker’s friend adds a comic relief that is needed when sexual interest and tensions rise a little to high. A good dose suspense of wondering what Tucker will do next. Will he and dad reconcile or not? Can he win Haley’s heart?  A good blend of poignant and sass, fun and sexy. I liked the scene where Harley challenges him to catch her in the swimming pool. His prize if he succeeds—her.  That’s some serious stakes.

This is book 1 of the North Moon Bay Book series, by Patricia Ryan.
North Moon Bay Books

The Black Sheep

The Marriage Arrangement

My Best Friend’s Girl

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Last year, about this time, I posted on the evolution of my blog. It had turned five years old and had taken a few radical turns over those years. My ponderings were on those twists.

This year–as my blog turns an incomprehensible six years old–I find those original thoughts to still hold true, with a year’s worth of experience to add to. However, first, a review of last year’s post:

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Jan 1, 2016: In a few months my blog will turn five. I can hardly believe it. Just like I can hardly believe it’s already 2016. As I was taking the calendars down last night, I considered the fact it didn’t seem that long ago I put them up. And now I’ve turned their pages twelve times. I’m sure a few of you can relate.

And that got me to thinking about this blog. It hardly seems possible I started it, albeit very reluctantly, back in May of 2011. I had very little knowledge of what a blog really was, let alone the purpose of creating one. Yet I had been told if I wanted to be a serious writer, I needed one. So voila, Summersrye was created. Had I known then what I know now, I’d have skipped the nickname thing and just used my proper name. But I like Rye, and not knowing any better, it seemed acceptable. Honestly, I don’t recall how I ended up at WordPress. It might have just been the first blog site that popped up when I plugged in a Google search.

keyboard and notebook

I went through recently to see what kind of posts I’ve written and the transformation this blog has undergone. The results sort of surprised me. My first post was May 11, 2011, called “Starting out”. That was pretty much it for 2011. In 2012 there were a whole 17 posts. The content changed directions twice. First I was going to take a non-fiction manuscript and blog it piece by piece. Feedback was nil. I even sent out a post asking “Am I doing this right?” of which I got one response back. Okay, at least someone out there in cyber world was aware I was blogging.

directions sign

Then I got the contract for my first book, “Whispers in her Heart”, the book that would forever change my life. I was going to be a published author. Time to get really serious about this blogging thing. Right? My posts changed from the random and non-fiction snippets to lots of “Whispers” stuff.Whispers cover from amazon

2013 I posted about 48 times, (give or take one) I was learning book promotion and it showed. I started putting in progress on edits and cover creation as well as teasers for “Whispers”, and a few pictures of my first book signings. I included poetry and shared life happenings. I opened up just a little, trying to remember if anyone was reading this, they were a real person on the other end of the computer screen. I shared photos of my pets, who are part of my life. I shared personal reflections and works in progress.

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2014 I continued sharing anecdotes and photos of my pets. I was now reading other people’s books and trying my hand at posting my reviews. I was following other blogs and re posting things I found interesting. Now I had a few books out and was regularly sharing status and updates on “Whispers”, “Shimmers of Stardust”, and “When Clouds Gather”. I posted more times than ever before.

Recipe for writing success

2015 was much the same. Book reviews. Pet anecdotes. Personal situations. Personal reflections. I was getting pretty personal this year. My family of books was growing. Now we added “Chasing the Painted Skies” and “Sizzle in the Snow” Anthology plus more works in progress and two more slated for 2016. I had people contact me asking if I would please read and review their books. I added the new feature somewhere along the way of hosting authors, interviewing them and talking about their books. In exchange, I was usually hosted on their blogs. Giveaways were another new feature in 2015.

All in all, not bad for a kid who few thought would ever make a writer. I recall hiding in my closet, pounding away on an old manual typewriter I bought at a garage sale. I baby sat so I had money for paper, notepads, and pens. Finally my mother gave me an electric typewriter for either my birthday or Christmas when I was around twelve. To have access to the electric outlet, I had to move out of the closet and into first my bedroom and then a corner of the long harvest table situated in the living room. I guess she wanted to see her daughter once in a while.

old typewriter

So while looking back, I also want to look forward. What do I want this blog to accomplish in our brand new 2016? Well, I want it to be a communication point. First, I want to be able to share news with readers about new books, giveaways and anything else share-worthy. I want to continue having others from other houses on my blog, sharing news about their exciting new releases. Bonus if they offer giveaways too. I want to grow the book reviews. In fact, I just finished a sassy little story last night and will be posting a review this weekend. And I have that author scheduled to be hosted on the blog in a few weeks.

Writing is a gift

Of course I want to share stories and pictures of my zany pets. They are the world to me, as many pet owners will testify. I’d be tickled if readers shared their wonderful pet pictures. I will also continue to share personal reflections and observations. Sometimes life gets rough or crazy and it’s nice to talk about it on a blog. It may not fix it, but it makes handling it a little easier. I follow a few blogs of people who do that very well. I’ll probably go back to posting some of the poetry from time to time and maybe some short flash fiction or sample chapters. That has been in the back of my mind for a while too.

Happily ever after

The end result, I want 2016 to be a year of growth and connection both for this blog and my writing career.

 

 

 

 

 

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Well, now it’s time to turn the calendars to 2017. I have added a pet sitting service to my life this year, which does had the unfortunate side effect of eating into my writing life. The bonus is I have met some interesting people and wonderful dogs and cats this year. I have settled comfortably into the house I bought in late 2014, but still have two rooms to paint (still!) and a few odd chores here and there I tackle when I need a break from writing.

What I would like to do with this blog in the coming months is much what I’ve done the last two years–share book reviews, host authors and their works, and continue the ‘Been Thinking About’ posts. Naturally I want to keep sharing misadventures of my pets, though my rescue collie, Ty, has his own blog I struggle to keep up with here on WordPress. Since I have two more books coming out in 2017, I want to share the steps from edits to covers to final release. I have a special giveaway planned for the first one, a Food & Love anthology coming up around May (ish).

Since I have two works in progress, and one more I hope to start soon, I want to share sample chapters. The opening chapters to one is already on my website at http://www.ryanjosummers.com. And I would like to encourage everyone to leave a comment with what they would like to see included in this blog, or more or less of any feature.

Lastly, I wish everyone a happy and healthy and wonderful new 2017.

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Where do you get your inspiration? What do you do with it once it arrives, a gift from your muse? What inspires you to do the things that you do?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about inspiration and where mine comes from.inspiration

The short answer: everywhere. Seriously, inspiration is found–at least for me–everywhere and anywhere. While I would like to say I can simply sit somewhere like this picturesque table, gaze out across the lacy curtains and see flowers bobbing in the summer breeze, and easily dream up endless plots and characters–the reality is it usually doesn’t happen like that. At least not to me.

My ideas tend to be born from some sort of action. It might be as easy as reading a magazine article or listening to a song on the radio. Something might resonate and spark an idea. It happens. Pictures are awesome at germinating ideas. My whole novel, “Chasing the Painted Skies” was birthed from this one photo:

CPS Inspiration

From a 1988 calendar to a completed novel:

CHASING THE PAINTED SKIES_1800x2700Part mystery, part shifter, part treasure hunt, a dash of ghost story and all romance.

The heroine’s last name and the treasure idea came from when I saw a plumber’s van at a traffic light. “Coyne’s Plumbing'” became Raven Koynes and a quest for sunken treasure, which required more characters and enhanced the plot.

A photograph that served as an advertisement in a fashion catalogue became a driving force behind the Christian romance released this past November

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A character was introduced into the story based on me passing an inflatable Santa Claus on my way to work one day and a headline immediately leapt to mind. I knew that was the best way to introduce my troubled teen to the story of “Beside Still Waters”.

More recently, as wildfires ravished within miles of my house, eating up thousands of acres of forest, and destroying homes and businesses across the mountain in Eastern Tennessee, I had another great thought. I was out cleaning dry leaves away from the foundation, reducing the potential fuel for the flames, when something sprang to mind. Quickly I went inside to write it down, left I forget it. I’ve no idea what I will do with it, though I have some thoughts for when time allows.

It was as if God Himself withdrew a hand and swore no more water would fall due to the sins of the people.  {Character} swore as well, softly, pinching two fingers over the bridge of {his/her} nose. They needed the rain, desperately. Any rain. If {character} thought it would help, {he/she} would personally go to the nearest church, synagogue, whatever, and beg forgiveness for the entire town’s population,  a for the heaping amount of {his/her’s} as well.

     Because someone in {town} must have really screwed up to deserve this.

     {Character’s} teams couldn’t keep up. {Include number of heavy equipment} and they could not make a dent in the raging flames. They needed real, hard, rain, pouring from the sky in steady sheets. Endless rain. Otherwise, this out-of-control and control-defying wildfire was going to eat up every square mile of {town}.

And because we really did have a season-long drought and dry winds fueling the fire, I added another character’s POV within the hour, deciding this would be a twin or triplet story, with each sibling having a part in the tragedy as it unfolds. That was the Incident Management Firefighter’s POV. This would belong to another sibling, a law enforcement official:

      Everyone pretty much blamed Jody Ray McAllister for starting the fires. Old Jody Ray was a local wood tick, who doubled as the town handyman. He hired out to do anything for anyone needed an odd job done for a few dollars. He would mow, trim, cut, roof, dig, saw, hammer or tune up a car among other chores. He’d change oil, rotate tires, run a chain saw or move your furniture.  The school hired him to keep the grass cut and so did the library and sheriff’s office.

The only problem was Jody Ray loved to drink. And he drank a lot, unless he was actively working or lighting up the doobies. Sometimes he did both at the time. And that would explain how he could have started this damn fire.

So when the fire started,  and grew thanks to the month’s-long drought, and started eating up people’s homes and businesses, fingers were itching to point. Knowing that people would next be getting lawyers, the good sheriff promptly arrested old Jody Ray for reckless endangerment of a fire and burning without a permit.  Just to cover up his butt, he tested Jody Ray for alcohol and drugs. Except, and it had to be a miracle, Jody Ray came back clean. So he was tested a second time, and came back clean again. And there was no proof his little trash fire burned out of control when {character} checked it out. There was no away anyone could prove Jody Ray created the monster that was presently eating {town}.

It would have made everyone’s life, including his and the good sheriff, if Jody Ray had come back positive for increased blood alcohol or any drug. Even aspirin. As it was, all the sheriff had on him was burning trash without a permit. But that wasn’t keeping him from letting Jody Ray out of jail just yet.

Somebody was going to have to spill some sacrificial blood over this fire and it was {character’s} job to make sure it was the guilty person.

Okay, two POV’s, two related, estranged characters invested in one story. Not a bad start, though it needs lots of work. The truth that born this saga turned out to be some young kids playing around and setting the fires that burned Appalachia this past autumn. By following the real story, so close to home, gave me lots of reference material to draw from and a have a file bulging with notes and reference sites.

Earlier this year, again I was driving to work and spotted police tape stretched across a random driveway I pass each day. Initially I thought it to be a Halloween prank or decoration of some macabre sort. It remained flapping in the wind for about four days. The following is something just as somber that was born from passing that scene each day. Again, not a clue what, if anything, will become of it, but it sure has a promising beginning…

The yellow police tape fluttered in the cold wind as it waved from the leafless tree trunk to the car’s door handle to the porch railing like a bright serpent, and finally ending as a ribbon barrier, sealing off the driveway. A scrawny black cat slinking around the discarded bike and under the caution tape was the only other movement. The windows in the old house were dark, lifeless, and the layer of dust collected on the medium brown car, a testament to the recent lack of rain.

     She stood, shoulders hunched against the wind, hands balled in the pockets of her jacket. This was going to be one big mess.

Now, whether she is a good character or the antagonist, I’ve yet to determine. Also, there is nothing else beyond this dark and mysterious beginning. Interestingly, the house was actually a very pretty two story, in  a nice neighborhood, with an RV covered with a tarpaulin at the side of the garage. I’ve never seen any pets wandering freely. But it sure sounds good. . .

Another time I was sitting at a traffic light, waiting, and spotted a vintage Ford Mustang across the intersection. I don’t recall the exact reddish color now but I did think it would look really neat in seafoam green. Now, what character did I have that would drive a vintage seafoam green Ford Mustang?

Ah ha! A guy from my then work-in-progress women’s lit entitled “Raine’s Promise”. I was just developing him and my mind took wings! Ford de Galetti  restores classic cars as a hobby, so naturally he kept the Mustang as a reminder of his late brother who used to restore them with him. Throw Dad in there too and you have a family, background on the love-interest character and a good start at fleshing him out.

     She swirled her wine glass thoughtfully. “Ford.” She tested the name, gauging his reaction to it. “Your name and you drive one.”

      He smiled. “Ah, yes, the Mustang. A classic dear thing.”

      She pondered that. “It’s a car. Did you buy it just so you could drive something with your name on it?”

      “Hardly. I did not buy the Mustang. You might say it was a gift.”

      Okay, that caught her attention. Who would give a classic car as a gift? “I sense a story in there.”

      “Indeed.” He emptied his glass, looked into the bottom for a long moment and slowly pulled his face back to Raine. The sorrow in the depths of his dark eyes surprised her.

     “My brother was named Lance, for the Lancia automobile manufacturer. I was named for the Ford Corporation. My dad really had a thing for classic cars. Lance and Dad loved to restore them. Lance always somehow sniffed them out, even better than Dad could. For them it was a form of male bonding. So Lance found this derelict Mustang in some barn one day. The three of us rode up in Dad’s old pickup to collect it. It was dreadfully rusty, but in decent shape. Better than some of the rust buckets Lance and Dad have found over the years. A few of them I would have asked to see the title to prove what exactly it was, but they just seemed to instinctively know.

      It was not unusual to bring assorted pieces of cars back on the trailer or pick up bed as well, somehow fitting them together into a classic vehicle.

      So we brought the Mustang back, rattling behind on Dad’s trailer. It was coated with inches of dust but Lance saw great potential in it. He decided on that unique sea-foam green color as well. We were nearly finished when we lost Lance. Dad and I completed the restoration and I drive it in Lance’s memory.”

      Finished, he coughed once. Raine pulled back, not aware she had leaned into his story, reaching closer to him. She licked her lips, thinking it through. “Thank you for sharing that. How did you lose Lance?”

     Ford’s eyes fell to the table and he brushed a crumb away. “He was a weekend warrior in the Reserves. His unit had been called into active duty as we were almost finished with the Mustang. He was six months into his tour when he and another unit member took a direct hit.”  

      “Ford, I’m sorry.”

       He shook his head. “Don’t be. We have shared many great years. Cars have been the glue that kept us close. I remember one in particular, a 1933 chopped Ford Coupe. It looked just like the ‘Eliminator’ when we finished, I half expected to see ZZ Top climb out. The ’57 Mustang is just one of many fine memories Dad and I have of Lance. It was fate to be his final restoration and classics were their passion.” He shrugged, mustering a tiny smile. “No regrets.”

       “And what about you?” The question tumbled from her lips. Perhaps she had been thinking of her own brother overseas now, always hoping he came back safe. Or just feeling Ford’s strong emotions tugging at her.

       “I have a passion for my family. For anyone I love.”

       His earnest answer, coupled with the intense look in his brown eyes, sent chills quivering along Raine’s spine

Not too bad for just seeing a classic car across an intersection at the red light.

cartoon-inspiration

 

 

 

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