Friday, June 22, 2012

How Amateur Astronomy Connects to My Writing

Several years ago when I struck up an interest in amateur astronomy, my passion for that soon became mirrored in some of my books.  In the beginning, I took a basic “backyard astronomy” class at a local community college and used my dad’s old binoculars, which weren’t too bad, in terms of their clarity.  (I even identified a few of the closer galaxies in them—a thrill for a beginner!)  Soon my basic education wasn’t enough to satisfy me, and I joined the Rose City Astronomers here in Portland, Oregon.  I purchased“giant” binoculars, specifically intended for stargazing—the kind sold in catalogs for telescopes.  And I chose the binoculars instead of a telescope because I loved the flexibility in being able to sweep the skies, as opposed to staying “stuck” in one part of it.  (The binoculars were very heavy, and eventually I purchased a tripod-type mount for them.) 

I also bought astronomy manuals, star charts, and the red-lighted flashlights for reading the charts.  (White light interferes with one’s night vision.)  After about a year, I earned the Messier Binocular Deep Sky award for having identified 100 deep sky objects.  What a challenge and what a thrill!  For several years, every summer, my husband and I attended their annual Star Party in the high desert of Central Oregon, many miles away from the closest town.  The night skies there, the darkest I’d ever seen, were spectacular, especially the Milky Way with its myriad of glittering star clusters in all sorts of fascinating shapes and forms.  The event, attended by several hundred other astronomy enthusiasts, also gave me the opportunity to schmooze with others who shared my passion. 

Well, I could go on and on, but the point is:  I wanted to share my love for astronomy in my books as well, hopefully give my readers a taste of its glories.  And so in Her Sister’s Keeper, my most recent book with Books We Love, I’ve created a romantic scene that portrays a summer meteor shower.  Herein my heroine Logan R.N. and the sexy pediatrician, Dr. Zack whom she works with, are camped out together on a mountain hillside while they watch this breathtaking show of celestial fireworks.  There, far away from city lights—plus the other campers--they ooh and aah at the trails of light streaking through the dark skies.  They also share kisses every bit as breathtaking.

After Her Sister’s Keeper, I published additional books with astronomy scenes, plus a handful of articles with astronomy-related themes in national magazines.  And I will continue to portray the splendor of the night skies in my writing—a celestial treasure trove, really—whenever the project seems right for that. 

So, if you’re planning on a writing venture in the near future, take stock of your passions and “write what you know”—even better, write what you love.  Your readers will be glad you did—and so will you!

Logan Corbett, registered nurse, suddenly becomes the guardian of her 10-year-old sister, Kim. A former prizewinning gymnast, the girl was seriously injured in the same plane accident that killed their parents. Logan admits she's overly protective of Kim, but only wants what she thinks is best for her. Dr. Zachary Dellinger, a pediatrician at the hospital where Logan works, suggests that Kim should attend a summer camp for children with special needs. Logan agrees, but on one condition--that she will volunteer to be the camp nurse so she can keep a close eye on Kim. Under starlit skies and breezy summer days, Logan struggles with her growing attraction to the handsome pediatrician--all the while, battling the urge to hold on too tightly to Kim. Will Logan ever be able to let go enough to allow love into both their lives?

"Her Sister's Keeper is a wonderful story of sisterly love and devotion. Delightfully written characters are a key part of this believable and enticing tale...a highly recommended read for contemporary romance readers..."
-Penny, Fallen Angel Reviews

A wonderful tale of the ability not only of the adult, but definitely for the children to survive life's foibles. You will gain a better understand of overcoming adversities whether you are young or old.
--Rendezvous Magazine

Logan Corbett, registered nurse, suddenly becomes the guardian of her 10-year-old sister, Kim. A former prizewinning gymnast, the girl was seriously injured in the same plane accident that killed their parents. Logan admits she's overly protective of Kim, but only wants what she thinks is best for her. Dr. Zachary Dellinger, a pediatrician at the hospital where Logan works, suggests that Kim should attend a summer camp for children with special needs. Logan agrees, but on one condition--that she will volunteer to be the camp nurse so she can keep a close eye on Kim. Under starlit skies and breezy summer days, Logan struggles with her growing attraction to the handsome pediatrician--all the while, battling the urge to hold on too tightly to Kim. Will Logan ever be able to let go enough to allow love into both their lives?

"Her Sister's Keeper is a wonderful story of sisterly love and devotion. Delightfully written characters are a key part of this believable and enticing tale...a highly recommended read for contemporary romance readers..."
-Penny, Fallen Angel Reviews

A wonderful tale of the ability not only of the adult, but definitely for the children to survive life's foibles. You will gain a better understand of overcoming adversities whether you are young or old.
--Rendezvous Magazine

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Joan Hall Hovey - Art Lessons Granny Taught Me

Art Lessons Granny Taught Me
By Joan Hall Hovey
This essay, in large part was my first published story.  It was published more than 30 years ago in Home Life Magazine.  This updated version was published in Mystery Readers Journal.  I hope you enjoy it. 
The illustration is by Padgett.
                She was 71 and lived alone in the cluttered attic of an old, two-story frame building with her easel, her paints, her brushes and sometimes, me. Her name was Lillian May (Watts) Hall.
 When neighbors spoke of my grandmother, they said, “A nice woman.” Then frowning and in whispers, the added, “but kinda funny.”  And in the early fifties, to the people who lived in our small, unsophisticated town, there was indeed something ‘kinda funny’ about an old lady who sat alone in her attic room and painted pictures.  At first glance, she was not unlike a million other grandmothers of her time - the same iron-gray hair drawn back in a bun, wire-rimmed glasses, a dark, high-buttoned dress with long sleeves and detachable lace collar, and a cameo brooch clasped modestly at her throat -  but there the similarity ended.  Granny, a tall, angular-boned parcel of nervous energy, was not the average storybook grandmother.
                Every day Granny would lose a prized possession.  It might be a valued brush, a particular tube of paint or a piece of canvas.  And while I stood on the sidelines, she would tear through her private disaster area, sending papers, books, talcum-coated hairpins, an unmated stocking, and her pink garters helter-skelter – all the while looking remarkably like an enraged bird.
                Almost always she would find what she was looking for, but occasionally I would be the one to spy the object of her frenzied search.  “Here it is, Granny,” I’d say, proud of my Sherlock Holmes tendencies.  She would smile sheepishly, relief flooding her face. 
                “Now, wasn’t that foolish of me to get so upset,” she would apologize.  “I’m just a silly old woman, dear.  Don’t pay me any mind.”  Then, calm and serene once more, she would begin the gentle strokes of her brush on the canvas.
                I often stood at the small, rickety table beside her, a piece of Bristol board and a brush in front of me.  I was even permitted to use the valued paints (which she could barely afford for her own work) so that I could play artist.
                After hours of painstaking work, Granny would set her brush to rest, stand back with a critical eye, and appraise the completed painting.  When it had dried sufficiently, and she was satisfied that it was of some worth, she would don her coat and hat and with the painting under one arm, off the two of us would go, door to door, in an effort to sell it.
                She walked with a brisk, sure step, and many times I found myself breaking into a run to keep up with her.  But we never had to walk far before making a sale.  Although neighbors found her way of life strange, they liked and bought what she painted.  It was hard times, and the return for her efforts was meager, yet sufficient to pay the rent on the attic, buy a few groceries at the corner store, and keep the coal bucket filled during the long winter months.
                I had a friend whose grandmother spun for her many fascinating tales of her girlhood.  But even there, Granny fell short.  In fact our roles were quite reversed.  It was I who spun the tales for her.  One story still causes me to cringe when I remember it.  It was during summer vacation and I had just returned from a day at the beach. 
                “Granny! Granny!” I shouted excitedly as I flung open the door.  “A man fell off the diving board at the lake today and I jumped into save him.  He almost pulled me under with him, but I punched him on  the jaw and knocked him out, and then I swam back to shore with him under one arm.  Everybody on the beach cheered,” I finished breathlessly.
                “Oh, my dear child,” Granny said with concern.  “You certainly did have a busy day, didn’t you?”  Then abruptly the concerned expression changed to amusement and she broke into a gale of laughter.  Rocking back and forth in her wicker chair, she laughed and laughed, absolutely delighted, but not for a moment fooled.  Every few seconds she would remove her glasses and wipe the tears from her eyes. By this time I was writhing inwardly and trying in vain to twist my story into something more plausible, but it was no use.  I was caught in the web of my lie. (Lesson 1. If you want your reader to suspend disbelief, you must make sense.)  I suspected she knew even then that I had the makings of a storyteller.  And I’m absolutely certain she knows now.
                Granny has not been with me for a good many years, and indeed I am a grandma now myself.  In fact, a great-grandma.  The year I turned fifteen, I was working as a housemaid when the telephone call came telling me that Granny had been rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.
                The hallway was in flames, making escape impossible.  Granny had climbed out of the dormer window and crouched on the ledge below it.  A passerby heard her cries for help and called up to her to stay there until he returned with a ladder.  Then the man fled to put in a call to the fire department.  Whether the heat from the flames became unbearable or whether Granny simply panicked, I’ll never know.  But she didn’t wait for the man to return with the ladder.  Instead, she jumped from the ledge  and fell in a crumpled heap to the ground below.  Her back was broken.  In two months she was gone.  I stumbled around, lost, for a long time.  I felt betrayed by God.  And then I grew up.  After a fashion.  But the child in us never goes far.
                In my third suspense novel (I have written five, the last The Abduction of Mary Rose) Chill Waters, my heroine deals with loss and betrayal on several levels.  Following the breakup of her marriage, after learning of her husband’s infidelity, Rachael Warren retreats to the old beach house in Jenny’s Cove, where as a young girl she lived with her grandmother.  It is the one place where she had always felt safe and loved.  But she is about to learn that ‘a safe place’ is mostly an illusion.  And that evil can find us no matter where we go.
                Jenny’s Cove is located in St. Clair, a fictional St. Andrews, a small town in New Brunswick, Canada.  St. Andrews lies on the Passamoquoddy Bay, and is close to the American border.  A place of charm and beauty, St. Andrews/St. Clair is a magnet for tourists and artists alike.  The beach house in Jenny’s Cove, however, is isolated.  Waves crashing against the rocks, and the sudden summer storms that visit Jenny’s Cove add to that sense of isolation. As a child, Rachael had found the violence of the storms and the sound of the sea comforting.  As a woman stalked and terrorized, that will change.
                I like the blending of light and dark in a novel.  Using shadowing to enhance dramatic effect, as in a painting.
               I also enjoy writing about women who struggle against great odds and triumph, as did my grandmother.  But, as in life, it’s never easy.  In books, it must be even harder, damn near impossible.  And in the suspense novel, there are always unseen dangers.
                My own life provides fodder for my imagination.  But it is my grandmother who taught me the art of concentration.  When she was painting, the house could have fallen down around her and she would have paid it little attention.  You knew not to talk to her then.  Only the brushes, canvas and the work at hand held any reality for her.  All else faded into the background.  Her focus was that of a child’s in the midst of intense ‘play.’  (If you have ever watched a child at play, and we all have, you know there is no one quite so serious.)  and she never stopped learning.  It was not about fame or fortune for her, as it is not for her granddaughter – but about the work, and the pursuit of excellence.  In her seventies, she was still taking art lessons when she could afford the few coins, from a Mrs. Holt on Elliott Row, a respected art teacher in Saint John, New Brunswick.   Sometimes she took me with her and I’d wait in the foyer.  There were always books to read.
                As Mrs. Holt’s lessons were important to my grandmother, my grandmother’s were crucial to me. 
                To quote author Willa Cather, “Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.”               
                I believe that’s true.  


Chill Waters

Bloody Dagger Award Winner


Following the breakup of her marriage, Rachael retreats to the old beachhouse in Jenny's Cove, where she once lived with her grandmother. It is the one place where she had always felt safe and loved. Devasted and lost, Rachael longs for the simplicity of her childhood. 
But Jenny’s Cove has changed. From the moment of Rachael’s arrival, a man watches. He has already killed, and mercilessly will do so again. Soon Rachael becomes a target for a vicious predator whose own dark and twisted past forms a deadly bond between them.
And sets her on a collision course with a crazed killer.

". . .you will find yourself with cold fearful chills running up and down your spine as you race to get to the ending."  ~ Kathy Thomason, Murder & Mayhem

"Chill Waters is a sure bet for those who like suspense thrillers with a hint of romance. It is easy and fun to read. Ms. Hovey creates a warm, cozy setting that seems to keep danger at bay. But just as you get comfortable, terror finds its way in. She weaves the tale tighter and tighter until you are neck deep in Chill Waters." ~ S. Loper-Herzog,  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Thanks Michelle for the gorgeous new covers for my Kelly McWinter PI series.  Looking at Jimmy on these covers definitely helps keep me inspired to get Deadly Consequences, book three, coming in August/September finished. 

Writing a series can be inspiring and fun, but there are some pitfalls.  It's so easy to fall into forget that your reader doesn't necessarily know all about that fantastic new nightclub you described so vividly in book one. Oh yes, and the reader doesn't know that your heroine absolutely cannot stand pink, or that your hero is allergic to shellfish.  Oh yes, lots and lots of easy little traps to fall into. 

Of course, as with all writing, there is always the temptation to go do something else -- like me -- over here visiting on the Blog instead of writing.  Sigh!  Nice to chat with all of you, but if we're ever going to see Book 3, I guess I'd better put my nose back to the grindstone.  Enjoy Kelly McWinter - a/k/a Jimmy Thomas. 

Behind the Cover: Images selection

By Michelle Lee
BWL Art Director

I’ve been called a Cover Goddess a couple of times, and as typical of me, I shrugged it off.  But now, I have decided, that if others are going to award me Goddess-ness, then I am going to start using it. So in true Goddess fashion, I have a few proclamations!

  1. No professor shall require a term paper to be written for any class that I am attending during my graduate coursework.  All term papers are to be voluntarily done for extra credit.
  1. No final shall be comprehensive.  In fact, finals shall be abolished!
  1. This crap with “self-teaching” is not going to happen anymore.  I am paying you, as my professor, to instruct.  Don’t tell me my learning is going to be self-guided.  If I wanted that, I would just buy the textbook and read it.
Wait … what?  You just want to hear the ones in regards to cover art.  You sure?  Cause I have a few more.  Well, okay …

Cover Art Proclamation 1:

No character, from this day forward, shall have hair.  None.  No wavy golden locks, no straight raven tresses.  Nadda, nothing.  Zero, zilch hair.

Number 2 …

What?  I can’t proclaim that characters can’t have hair anymore?  Why not?

Artistic freedom!  The heck you say!  But I am a Goddess … but, but …

*Insert several minutes of whining and whimpering*

Well fine then!

I guess I will return to the original topic I meant to address this blog post – image selection and how they relate to covers and artists.

The images that are picked for a cover are crucial.  CRUCIAL I say.  For, after all, they are the core of the cover.  And the cover is what a reader sees first.  Before the blurb, before the excerpt, generally they see the cover.

So you want a nice one.

You also want a sane cover artist.  S.A.N.E.  Got that?  Which means when you are selecting images to suggest, think about what you are asking for.

What I mean by that is, if the image has a woman with fly-away hair (you know what I am talking about, where it looks like a fan was turned on during the photo-shoot) and you don’t like the background, find a new image.  Isolating hair in images is tricky, so it is better if it lies fairly flat in the image.

Also, don’t pick a real dark image of a person, where they fade into a black background, and expect it to work with a sunny day beach scene behind him/her. 

It’s hard, as an author, to pick images.  I know – I am also an author.  So I know that there is a certain way a character is supposed to look, and often times, stock art is just too limited in options.  But doing photo-shoots for each and every e-book an author does is not cost-effective or practical.

So authors have to, in some ways, settle for what is available.  Which can be hard.

But if you take the time to make sure and pick images you are happy with, and that are easy to work with, you and your cover artist will both wind up happy with the finished product.

To that end, I am offering just a few suggestions, off the top of my head:

  • Don’t pick images with fly-away hair (see above) unless you LIKE the background
  • Don’t pick dark images, with dark background, and expect a bright background to be put in replacing it.  (Also see above)
  • Think about how many images you are suggesting.  Often, most covers have 1-3 images.  Any more than that gets costly.
  • Think about the perspectives of the images.  If you are looking flat on at a couple, and upward at the background you want behind them, it isn’t going to work together.
  • Make sure you know if the image is a photograph or computer generated.  Some times, a computer generated background can work in a cover – other times, it just doesn’t. 

For example, here’s one where it does work:

  • If you KNOW you are doing a series, and using the same characters, make sure there are other images of the SAME model that you like for future covers, and that there are enough for however many books you are planning.
  • If you know you are doing a series, think about the style of image, and make sure you can find other images in the same style to match your future characters.
  • Consider your images carefully – have you seen it/them on a ton of other covers?  If so, you should probably find something else unless you are just absolutely, completely in love with that image and it just fits perfectly and you have to have it or the world will just end in misery.
  • Be open to changes … I can’t stress this one enough.  Just because you suggest an image does not mean that it will be used.  Often times there is a very good reason why the cover artist will not use it (such as the sizes not being right, it is more long than tall – such as a woman laying down, it doesn’t match with the other images you selected, it can’t be isolated to fit with the other images, or there are terms that don’t allow for the image to be used on commercial items)
  • Speaking of isolating images, when you pick an image of a person, you want at least one side of their body to fully be in the image, not both sides running off of the image.  That allows for the person to be isolated from the background and merged with other images.  (Unless, that is, you just want that ONE image on your cover).
For example:

The image for CODENAME: ROMEO is one that I would not be able to move to the side.  Whereas the woman in WILDING NIGHTS I could move around the cover as needed.

  • If you are want the person moved into another background, be careful that you don’t pick an image with something from the foreground blending into the image.  For example, grass or wheat stalks, snow or rain, etc.  Both of these images work because they fit the changed background.  Had the author wanted either of these women at the beach, it wouldn’t have worked.

Well that’s all that I can think of right off.  Hope it makes selecting images just a little bit easier!

As for how I work them together, well, it’s not really something I can put to words.  I have to look at the angles/perspective of images, the colors and brightness/contrast to them, and just play around some times to get the right fit.

I do keep in mind previous covers I have done for the author, and also the genre. The hardest covers for me are mysteries and dark themes, since I like doing light covers.  I like happy couples – and especially SEXY couples.  Which can cause some problems, since I like sexy images, and some romances are sweet.  (So half-naked people just don’t work).

When I select images, I also keep my own “do/don’t” list in mind.  I also look at colors, and sharpness/starkness of images.  It a couple has almost a harsh lighting on them, then I won’t put them on a real soft focus background.  

Also, while brown/red hair can be switched fairly decently to the other, turning an image of a blond into a  raven haired person, vice versa, etc isn't that easy.  So I try my best to find images that fit the hair color as well as I can.

Eye color on the other hand is something that I can modify - so I never worry about it when I pick an image, because I know that I can modify it as needed (provided I know what color to change it to - so be sure to provide that info in your CAF).

Other than that, a lot of image selection for me is just flipping through images on stock sites and seeing if anything jumps out at me.  From there, I work all other elements around the image I selected.

If period clothing is required, then I will focus on the person, and worry about making the background fit.

If a setting is pivotal, and the couple’s attire isn’t that big of a deal, then I find a background that will work and then find a couple to fit.

And so on …


The reviews keep pouring for PRINCESS of BRETAGNE. This one is a 4-ribbon from Romance Junkies. it says:

“Her attention to the harsh conditions of this violent time period is spot on, and starting with a brutal Viking raid caught my attention immediately. She brings the world of Pressine to life with vivid details of daily life, clothing, customs, manners, Celtic history and the conflict between the early Christian church and the old pagan beliefs of the goddess.

This story is filled with action and danger and there are many interesting secondary characters that help drive the plot forward. I particularly like Gwenvael, Pressine’s brother, who has extensive scenes in his own viewpoint scattered throughout. Look for the just released, PAGAN QUEEN, to continue the saga of these two lovers.”

You can read the entire review at:

This review certainly made my day.

Vijaya Schartz
Swords, Blasters, Romance with a Kick
Vijaya on Amazon:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Imagine being forced to give up custody of your child.

 That’s exactly what happened to Vanessa Gleason. A fairy tale marriage turned into a nightmare, Now, alone in the world, Vanessa vows to fight her wealthy ex husband for custody of her daughter. Was it fate that brought her to the little church on Christmas Eve?

Vanessa locked herself in a hotel room for two weeks after her husband threw her out. Cried out, devastated and lonelier than she'd ever been in her life, she knew it was time to move on. Time to make a plan. 
First thing she did was get a newspaper and circle promising jobs in the classifieds. After a few phone calls, it didn't take her long to realize Christmas Eve wasn't the time to look for a job. Scared, bored, and half out of her mind with grief, she decided  to leave the small room and take a drive. Anything to avoid thinking.
She ended up in the heart of town among last minute shoppers and Carolers. Hurrying past them, she found herself in front of a small church. Something drew her inside. Inside and up to the Nativity Scene.    There she discovered an infant in a car seat. Before she had a chance to decide what to do, the back door slammed and someone walked down the aisle toward her. Could he help her win her child back? 
What happened next changed Vanessa's life forever. 
Elusive Mission is available from Amazon.


Vanessa’s stomach tensed. She had to get out of here. Needed some air, needed to escape. She got in her car and started driving, to where was anyone’s guess.
The quaintness of Strongsville, Ohio, especially the town square with the gazebo with all the Christmas decorations, brought fresh tears to her eyes. Vanessa wiped them away and parked the car. Shoppers and carolers filled the sidewalks. Ignoring them, Vanessa hurried past decorated shops until she came to a small church. St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, the sign out front said. Two huge wreaths hung on the heavy oak doors. The small white building beckoned to her.
Vanessa opened the door, walked up the steps and stood at the entrance. The quiet of the empty church filled her soul. It had been too long since she had attended services. Charles wasn’t particularly religious, but he had allowed her to have Alyssa baptized. She should have gone to church more often by herself, but after spending Saturday evening at the club, it was all too easy to sleep in on Sunday morning, and eventually it became a habit.
 Light showed through the stained glass windows, illuminating the red carpet-covered aisle way. A nativity scene at the front captured her attention and drew her forward. Memories from her childhood flashed through her mind.
Her father always helped set up the nativity at church when she was a little girl, and they let her put Baby Jesus in the crèche. A noise came from the side aisle, interrupting her thoughts. Vanessa stopped, saw a flash of red, and the side door slammed. Funny, she hadn’t noticed anyone else when she came in.
Oh, well, Vanessa shrugged and continued to the front and knelt down. What in the world? Next to the nativity scene sat a car seat. An infant, three, maybe four months old with blonde curly hair, opened almond-shaped, dark eyes and reached its chubby arms out to her.
 “What have we here?” Vanessa unbuckled the seat belt. “Hello, precious.” She picked up the baby, and a note fell on the diaper bag next to the car seat. Vanessa picked up the paper and read the scribbled words.
Please take care of my baby. Her name is Grace. Mary.
“Who could leave someone as precious as you?” Vanessa looked around. No one lurked in the shadows. Who left the baby? How long had she been here? God, what should she do? The baby cuddled against her, and Vanessa inhaled the sweet smell of baby lotion. Tears filled her eyes. For a minute, she was tempted to take the baby and leave, but she couldn’t do it.
Startled, when the door at the back of the church slammed, Vanessa turned toward the sound. A shadow loomed at the entrance, moving toward her. A tall figure walked down the aisle, checking the pews along the way. Vanessa hugged the baby against her, held her breath, and let it out when she saw who it was.
“Father, I’m glad you’re here. I came in here and found this baby. I was just about to call the police.”
“I’m a minister, not a priest. Pastor Dan Jacobson, Pastor Dan will do,” he said. “You found a baby?” A glint of gold glistened in his copper brown eyes below raised eyebrows. “Who do you suppose it belongs to?”
“Yes, I ... uh.” She could easily have pretended Grace was hers. He wouldn’t have known. “When I came in someone ran out through that side door. I came up here to see the nativity scene and….” Vanessa walked away and sat in a pew, cradling the baby against her chest. What was the use, he didn’t believe her. She didn’t need this. Not now. She had enough problems of her own.
“I see, pretty little thing, boy or girl?”
Vanessa stood and took a step closer to him. “Girl.” She stopped next to him. “You aren’t suggesting this child is mine, are you?” Vanessa looked him straight in the eyes. How dare he? Minister or not, what gave him the right? “Look, I came in here and found the baby. I told you someone ran out that door.” Vanessa took a deep breath, let out an angry sigh. “Here.” She pushed the note toward him. “This was lying on the diaper bag. I didn’t touch anything else.”
Pastor Dan stared at her, studying her. Vanessa stared back. Disbelief showed in his face. Like she’d try to pull off such a stunt? Imagine her abandoning a baby like this. The memory of Alyssa, clinging to her when Charles tore her away, flashed in her mind. Even now, Alyssa’s cries, when Charles slammed the door, ripped her apart.
Pastor Dan’s voice brought her back to awareness. “I see. Well, I guess we’ll have to call Social Services.” He read the note, then picked up the diaper bag and looked through it.
Grace squirmed in Vanessa’s arms and began to cry.
“Probably hungry.” Vanessa rocked the baby.
Pastor Dan pulled a bottle of formula from the diaper bag.
The warmth of the baby against her chest opened a hole in Vanessa’s heart, making her miss Alyssa even more. Her insides trembled, tears burned her eyes, threatened to fall.
“You have children?” Pastor Dan’s tone softened.
A tear escaped, fell on her cheek. She nodded, a lump caught in her throat.
“How many?”
“One.” Vanessa choked out the word.
How old?”
“Two.” The tears burst forth as if a damn had been unleashed. “I’m....” Vanessa couldn’t speak. She turned away, held back the tears, and paced across the front to the nativity scene, leaving him standing there.

Sizzling Summer Spectacular

Stock your shelves with spectacular summer reading.  Win one of five $20.00 Amazon gift certificates.  Gift certificates will be drawn monthly.  Two on July 5, Two on August 5, and One on September 5.

* * * 


Pamper yourself with a sensational summer spa basket.  Drawing on August 15.

Treat yourself to a chocolate indulgence day.  Drawing on September 15.

Find the entry form here and make sure you are a subscriber to our newsletter- only subscribers can win. The newsletter comes out once a month, no spam, just new releases and contest news. Find the form on the same page as the contest entry.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Spectacular Summer Novel Sale at Books We Love

Only $2.99 each

A Double Opposition by Janet Lane Walters
ASIN: B0057AFA26

Alien Lockdown by Vijaya Schartz
ASIN: B00495XUT0

Ancient Enemy Book One –
 by Vijaya Schartz

Ancient Enemy Book Two –
by Vijaya Schartz

Ancient Enemy Book Three –
Kicking Bots
by Vijaya Schartz

Archangel Book One –
by Vijaya Schartz

Archangel Book Two –
by Vijaya Schartz

Blood Games by Lee Killough

Blood Hunt by Lee Killough

Cabin Fever by Sheila Claydon

by Barbara Baldwin

Cachet by Shannah Biondine
ASIN: B00452V8OQ

Daring Masquerade by Margaret Tanner

Dark Spirit by Rita Karnopp

Deadly Betrayal by Jude Pittman

Deadly Secrets by Jude Pittman

Destined to Love by Shirley Martin

Dream Weaver by Shirley Martin

Echoes by Erin Quinn

Ellie's Legacy by Ginger Simpson
ASIN: B007U61O1Q

Embezzled Love by Ginger Simpson

Eye of the Storm by Renee Simons
ASIN: B00772ZAT0

Family Secrets by Jamie Hill
ASIN: B004478IN6

Family Ties by Jamie Hill

Finding Freedom
by Betty Jo Schuler

First Degree Innocence by Ginger Simpson

Forbidden Love by Shirley Martin

Gemstones by Janet Lane Walters

Genesee by Juliet Waldron

Hide and Seek by Jamie Hill
ASIN: B004HW6G46

Into a Dangerous Mind by Tina Gerow
ASIN: B006MN847A

Killer Karma by Lee Killough

Kidnapped by Rita Karnopp

Love in a Small Town by Betty Jo Schuler

Male Wanted by Betty Jo Schuler

Magnetism by Shannah Biondine

Mozart's Wife  by Juliet Waldron

Night Secrets by Shirley Martin

Night Shadows  by Shirley Martin

No Ordinary Killer by Rita Karnopp

O'Malley's Cottage by Ronald Ady Crouch

One More Tomorrow by Shirley Martin

Pagan Queen by Vijaya Schartz

Princess of Bretagne by Vijaya Schartz

Ransom Love by Rita Karnopp

Red Magic by Juliette Waldron

Revenge  by Rita Karnopp

Run to Me by Jamie Hill
ASIN: B004M8S95Y

Sacred Ground  by Rita Karnopp

Safe Haven by Renee Simons

Sarah's Heart by Ginger Simpson

Sex, Love and Murder by Sandy Semerad
ASIN: B007Z3TY34

Snatched by Vijaya Schartz
ASIN: B004QZ9V78

Spithandle Lane by Ronald Ady Crouch

Stone Maiden by Tina Gerow

The Last Cowboy In Texas by Pat Dale

The Sacrifice by Shirley Martin

The Taste of Magic by Gina Rosavin

The WisdomKeeper Collection
by John Wisdomkeeper

Time Tantrums
by Ginger Simpson

Trusting Evil by Mary Leo

Truths of the Heart  by G.L. Rockey

Web of Smoke by Erin Quinn

Whispering Sun by Rita Karnopp

Whispers by Erin Quinn
ASIN: B006G75O6G

Whistler's Murder by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

White Berry on the Red Willow
by Rita Karnopp
ASIN: B007U121ZE

Wilding Nights by Lee Killough

Winter Fire by Kathy Fischer-Brown

Wishful Thinking by Shannah Biondine
ASIN: B00774H8LQ

Witchcraft and Anchovies
by Jamieson Wolf

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Spring Fling Event Winners

* Winners! *

Teresa Balderas
wins a Kindle Fire in the Spring Fling Event!


Teresa says, "I can't believe I won the Kindle Fire.  I hoped that I would win it but, never dreamed that I would. Yippeeeeeeeeeeeeee!! Thank you all so much!!! I can't wait until it arrives to start using it.  Have a beautiful've sure made mine much brighter."

Val Pearson will receive an autographed print copy of Mary Leo's latest thriller, Trusting Evil!
Val, please send your snail mail address to so Mary can mail you the book.

Debra Guyette will receive the ebook series Love, Lore and a Wee Bit of Larceny. Debra, please email us at to receive your prizes!


Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to everyone who entered. Check out our Sizzling Summer Spectacular Contest, going on now


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My Publishing Journey to date by Jamie Hill

It's hard for me to believe that it's been six years since my first romantic suspense novel was published. Family Secrets wasn't the first book I wrote, but it was the first to get published. I had a wonderful editor (thank you Susan) and I really loved the book. I'll never forget my first ever review-- 4 and 1/2 stars out of 5, and the reviewer said glowing things. I printed that puppy out and carried it around for days, reading it to anyone who would listen.

The book did okay, and garnered more lovely reviews. Sadly, the small press that published Family Secrets closed it's doors and my book was an orphan. It took several years before I found a new publisher and the next two I chose folded before I ever really got going. I didn't give up, kept persevering, but just couldn't seem to find the right fit for the book and me. Harlequin liked my premise but said they could never have divorced heroes or heroines with kids for the lines I submitted to. (Really?)  By the time I got done trying to figure out their guidelines, my head was spinning. But it would have been nice to see my book in bookstores.

Actually, a nearby bookstore, Hastings, has a local author section, and they let me place some copies of Family Secrets there on consignment until they got too dusty a couple years later. I sold two, and one was to my best friend. LOL

Family Secrets was always meant to be part of a series. I started book two, Family Ties, shortly after book one. But frankly, when I couldn't find a good home for the first book, I didn't have much motivation to complete the second one. One of my Amazon reviews mentions that books one and two share similar characteristics, like heroes who smoke and drive Ford Explorers. (I like Explorers, okay?) And when I started these books years ago, many more people smoked. It wasn't farfetched that detectives who worked heavy caseloads might smoke, drink a shot or two, and yes, cuss. (Sorry Mom. She still hasn't forgiven me for that.)

Books We Love came along at just right time in my life. Once Family Secrets was happily settled in, I got busy and finished Family Ties last year. And this year, the Amazon revolution happened, and many of our Books We Love titles took off. I'm thrilled to say that Family Secrets was one of them. It hit #67 on the Top 100 Paid Kindle Books recently, which is pretty good for the thousands of books Kindle offers. Family Ties is steadily climbing.

So what this did was motivate me to get off my duff and write that third book I'd always imagined. It actually came easier than I expected, and I'm very, very pleased with the result. Family Honor is available for sale on Amazon now and will be in print in a few weeks. 

Family Honor makes the sixth novel I've published, three romantic suspense and three older titles that are straight romance. I've decided that romantic suspense is my true love. I'm plotting my next series and can't wait to get started. I hope you'll check out my books and join me on my unfinished journey!

Family Honor

Bodies of dead women are piling up and Detective Melanie Curtis is doing everything she can to solve the 'Cheerleader Slasher' case. Surprised to discover her chief has requested help from the FBI, she's even more shocked when she meets the sexy FBI special agent sent to assist her.
SSA Nate Willis tracks serial killers for a living. The slasher case is a challenge, but nothing compared to the feisty police detective he finds leading the investigation. Their attraction is swift and mutual, but the killer is escalating and they need to solve the case before they can focus on their personal relationship. When the unthinkable happens and the investigation is turned upside down, is their chance for happiness also in jeopardy?

“Author Jamie Hill has a knack for pulling a reader deeper and deeper into her stories as they try to figure out where she is leading them.” ~ Tammy, Fallen Angel Reviews

Friday, June 1, 2012

Contest News

Our Kindle Fire Contest closed May 31. Winner will be announced in our June 15 newsletter.

Subscribe here to see the winners and get all the news:

Watch for our Spectacular Summer Contest, coming soon!

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