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rustlers-and-romance

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.

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.

 

smtree-series-baner

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.

cd-hersh-banner

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.

cd-hersh

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?

shattered-lies

I was prepared to like this story. The cover is great. The story-line is promising. I settled in for a memorable read. In the end, “Shattered Lies” did not live up to its promise. While I hate to bad talk any author’s work, I was disappointed with this book.

The main character, Kate Thayer, came across as immature. A divorced, thirty-year-old veterinarian, I had high hopes for her. Yet I never saw her working as at vet. She was only around the esteemed family horses one time, for a couple of pages. She allegedly was supposed to be running the family farm, yet I never read where she actually did anything. So in the end, I am not sure what exactly Kate does. At 30, most women are fairly mature, yet her family continued to treat her as a child. One even continually called her ‘Child’ instead of by her given name. The length of the book should have easily allowed room for building up Kate’s daily work routines.

Kate’s grandmother, Katherine, clearly doted on Kate, which is normal. However, the constant repeat of “darling’ multiple times in each sentence wore thin quickly.

The premise, that horrible things happened the day of Kate’s birth, and were kept from her, allures to the fact she is still considered a child. The lies that were told could have been gently, and truthfully, shared long before Kate stumbled across them. One relative leaks a nugget, and she finds a hidden gem, and Kate is literally off and running. Finally, once the whole, sordid truths come out, the guilty parties cannot stop beating themselves over the head with it all. Endless pages were dedicated to repeating their crimes, and repeating their crimes, and repeating…. I ended up skipping pages just to reach the end.

The racial issues also bothered me with the repetitiveness. It did nothing to endure most the characters to me and the use of Capital Letters B and W was confusing.

My apologies to S.J. Francis, however, I am required to post an honest review. “Shattered Lies” just wasn’t for me

images-31Lately I’ve been thinking about making it through things. It could be an event, a period in our life, an illness, a test, a divorce, a wedding, a meeting, a drive, or just whatever “it” currently is. And the interesting thing is the “it” tends to change as time progresses, but there always seems to be some form of “it” that we are always just trying to make it through. Or at least it seems like that for me.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been battling a cold-turned-acute bronchitis. Simply put: I have physically felt miserable just about non-stop for many endless days. And during this time I’ve had overlapping pet care dates scheduled and multiple doctor appointments while still maintaining my full time job and attempting to catch up on writing chores and household responsibilities whenever I could in between. You could safely say I’ve felt stretched like the cookie dough under a rolling pin.

So I’ve had a whole bunch of “it’s” to make it through. Some were fairly short, like the drive to and fro the various places I needed to be, or the doctor appointments, and those brief moments where I could knock a few to-do items off my list. Other things are longer, like waiting for the bronchitis to run its course and the gut-retching cough to go away and waiting for test results to come back.

About a month ago I started reading a book, called “You’ll Get Through This” by Max Lucado. I like his writing style, and to be frank, the title appealed to me. It is a study of the life of Joseph from the book of Genesis, and how his life was a series of making it through some unfortunate experiences. He had misfortune, one after another, and always ended up triumphant in the end. I’m not looking for triumphant. I would be satisfied with a short break in between things I need to make it through. A period of calm in which nothing is expected of me except to just breathe.

I’d love just a temporary respite to soak in the afterglow of nothingness. A time to drift, not needing to do, to be, go, have, say, or get. Anything.  My very own “Calgon, take me away!” moment.

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However, this raised a bigger question in my mind. Why do we feel we have to make it through “this”? Or climb the mountain? Or clear the hurdle? Or whatever metaphor you happen to personally like. Maybe we’re watching the  clock slowly creeping toward five o’ clock (or our own individual quittin’ time), counting down days until some big event or turning the pages of the calendar wondering where it all went or any other method of getting through. It seems life has become one big never-ending series of the next big-something. Something to dread or something to enjoy, something to endure or something to revel in. It’s always the wait for it to get here, the actual time spent, and the period immediately after to breathe deep or wipe the sweat away.

Sometimes for me that’s the time to grab chocolate and coffee. Celebrate. I’m big into celebrating even minor, small happenstances. Competing projects, surviving rough patches of time, and accomplishing challenging tasks will all garner the reward of chocolate and coffee and a few moments of treasured nothingness– to soak in the glow of satisfaction.

But still, I wonder, if there is some way to live a life that isn’t constantly filled with the sense of “I will make it through this” or worse yet, “I have to make it through this.” Can we just reach a point were life is lived, hourly or daily or by the minute, without the constant looking beyond the “right now”? Where escapism isn’t required or used as a reward for surviving? Because, in all honesty, I suspect my chocolate and coffee treat is sometimes a means to escape as much as a celebration for success.

 

Today, January 27th, is National Chocolate Appreciation Day. This could be like a nation-wide holiday. To celebrate, I thought I’d recycle a page someone featured on their blog earlier this year.

 

Cake Therapy

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choc cake finished productThere was a time when Ryan Jo Summers didn’t know if she was going to live until her next birthday. Undergoing surgery after surgery on her pelvis, only to suffer from an abdominal condition that nearly killed her.

After a two week stay in the hospital in a drug induced coma, she was finally able to go home.  She’s here on Fun Friday to share her sweet poem, Cake Therapy, and talk about a lovely recipe about the cake that she had to bake as a symbol of her year of suffering. The cake was difficult to bake, but well worth it.

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Cake Therapy  by Ryan Jo Summers

 

I had wanted to bake a cake, a hard one

a challenge, meant to be both therapy and fun.

A ‘difficult’ rated birthday cake, chocolate of course

To mark my birthday this year, my forty-forth.

Good intentions, I thought, to bake a grand layered cake

for my hard fought birthday, take to work, and celebrate

This year has brought many ups, down, trials and changes

and therapy I find often comes in phases.

 From measuring, leveling, mix and stir

until all the ingredients begin to blur

 A certain sense of unity

can be found by following the recipe

 Next into the oven, then the washing up

bowls, spoons, soapy water and the cups

Except something went unexpectedly wrong

overflowing, the pans set off the smoke alarm’s song

I know it’s part of what I had asked for—the challenge

so gamely the cake base I did try to salvage

 So tonight the failed effort goes into the trash bin

And tomorrow I shall attempt to bake a cake again

 Perhaps this foiled start is a symbol, a sign

Of the journey this year I have taken, the hills I have had to climb

 

So that is the poem I wrote while recovering. That was a few years ago, but I’ve never tried the cake again. I still have the recipe, so if you’d like a copy, just mention your contact method in the comments and I’ll get it to you.

Happy Chocolate Appreciation Day!! Go have a bite of your favorite chocolate treat and celebrate all the hills you have climbed.

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.

black-sheep-patricain-ryan

 

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

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.

chasing ideas

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.