Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Hunted Heart by J.J. Massa


I write all kinds of fiction, or do I? Some of what I write happened somewhere or another. To me? To you? Well, maybe. I like sensual, sexy, seductive, emotional, funny, carefree… I like reading and writing about all of that and when I do, I want you to feel it with me.

I’ve lived in many places and met so many people. So many secrets and I’m going to share them with you. Only thing is… I can’t tell you what happened and what didn’t, but trust me, I’ll tell you everything.

These days my writing partners include my dog Cosmo, my two cats, and my daughter—they certainly keep things interesting.

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Like all great authors, FBI profiler Tatiana Branigan has drawn from
personal experience in the creation of her best-selling thriller series.
But few realize just how up-close-and-personal those experiences are.
Ten years ago her fairy-tale marriage ended, wrecked by a man who has
obsessively hunted her and a memory that's haunted her.

For the past decade Von Branigan has been living out his solitary life
estranged from the only woman he's ever loved and isolated from
anyone who might try to reach through the wall he's built around his
heart. He may be inconsolably immersed in feelings of bitterness and
still wounded by betrayal, but when the police call and tell him that
his wife was attacked by a madman and is in need of refuge, he can't
bring himself to refuse to help her.

Von takes Tatiana back into his home and as time passes and old wounds
heal, back into his heart. A grave misunderstanding, a
once-in-a-lifetime love, a wife's sacrifice, a crime of passion, and
a second chance for happiness—A Hunted Heart.


Von told the sergeant at the desk that he'd received a phone call from a Detective Lester. The sergeant showed him to a small room and said he'd let the detective know he was there.

Trying not to think the worst, Von settled in a chair and waited. After he had been sitting for a few minutes, a large man came in.

"Detective Bill Lester, sir." A beefy, forty-something giant with a ruddy complexion and a shock of red-blonde hair stepped in front of him with his hand out. He looked like a bar fight waiting to happen.

"Von Branigan," Von replied, shaking the man's hand.

"Look, what's...

The large man handed Von a Polaroid. The photo showed a thin, frail, young woman laying on a black surface. Her features were pale, her eyes were closed, and blood could be seen around a wound at her temple.

"Can you identify that person, Mr. Branigan?"

Von nodded, swallowing. "Her name is Tatiana Branigan."

The dectective stood. "Wait here, please, Mr. Branigan."

"Is she..." Von began.

"Please wait here, sir." The detective left the room, leaving the door slightly ajar.

Von's head was spinning. Had he just identified the body of his wife? Was she dead or alive? I don't know if I can live in a world that she isn't living in. There must be something wrong with me.

As he sat, trying to absorb what had happened so far this night, Von began to notice the quiet of the building. He heard footsteps approaching and began to focus on the voices he could hear nearby.

"Go easy, Jim, it's been a heck of a night." Von heard a door open across the hall.

"Bill, it's bleeding again. I'm gonna check her eyes." He had to be addressing the detective that Von had just talked with.

"Stop it, Jim, you're making my headache worse!"

Von sat up straight. A voice that sounded seductive even when she was irate. That couldn't be...

"Tatiana, you need to be in the hospital. I know you have a concussion. You're not really recovered from the pneumonia." Jim sounded very agitated.

He called that woman "Tatiana"! My angel is alive!

"You know I'll refuse further treatment. What are they going to do for me, Jim?" came her soft-voiced reply. "They can't put my head in a sling."

"Tati, I'm going to call that number you gave me. You need someone to take care of you now." That was Bill, the big detective.

"Bill, nobody at that number wants to care for anything besides my remains. Don't make me sorry I trusted you."

Is that what she thinks? And why wouldn't she think that? I made it pretty clear she wouldn't be welcomed back, didn't I?

"It's only a happy accident you're not sporting a toe-tag right now, dang it!"

Von wanted to go in there but something made him listen for a minute longer. He waited for the pain of her betrayal to wash over him but he could only feel elation. He needed to get himself together. She's alive!

"He could have killed me anytime in the last nine years, Bill. He doesn't want me dead, he wants me to suffer."

Who is she talking about?

"Up until tonight, Tati, I would have agreed. But you tipped the scales, didn't you?"

What is he talking about?

"I don't know what you mean, Bill..." clearly, she did, too.

"Don't lie to me Tatiana Dmitri Branigan," the detective barked.

They must be pretty close.

"He's been torturing you for the last nine years, killing you slowly." Von moved toward the sound of their voices. "But I heard what you said to him before I got up the stairs. You not only asked him to kill you, I think you gave him a reason, didn't

She's even more beautiful than she was ten years ago.

She wore a long-sleeved dress that flowed over her. It was dark green velvet and came to her ankles. Her long black hair waved and curled just above her elbows. Blood trickled from a cut on her temple.

"Please, don't call that number, Bill."

"It's too late, angel."

At the sound of his voice, she grabbed for a nearby table.

"Von," she whispered. She looked as if she were seeing a ghost.

He moved to stand in front of her and cupped her cheeks. Those eyes. Her big gray eyes nearly took up her face. He caressed her delicate jaw with his thumbs. He let his hands slide down her shoulders until he lightly held her forearms. Her whole body shook.

"I thought you were dead, angel." He couldn't look away from her.

"I am dead, Von." Her eyes filled with tears and she closed them whispering, "Go home, please go home."

"I can't angel. I can't walk away from you."

and later...


Why did you become a writer? Was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?
I’ve always written a bit. Articles, different things like that. When I was young I imagined I’d be a writer and even did some magazine articles. But then, I got lost along the way. I wrote my first book when I was laid off from a teaching job at an adult school. I had run out of book that I wanted to read, so I wrote one.

What do you love about being an author? Is there anything you dislike?
I love being able to slip into another psyche, be someone else for awhile—I love the different perspectives. Sometimes that’s hard when there’s too much stress going on. It becomes hard to focus on characters sometimes. It’s like making the time to take a trip.

How do you balance your personal and writing time?
I try to do whatever calls the loudest. This week, my youngest needed me and the rest of my private life was clamoring loudly. So there was simply no choice but to answer the call. I usually write whenever I can. If I’m stressed, I read a bit or walk my dog if possible. Then I write—it’s my favorite thing to do.

How do you write? Do your characters come to you first or the plot or the world of the story?
I write using a laptop which has a speech to text program. (I don’t look blind, but I am. The programs that I use make everything equal) I’m a character-driven author. The characters inspire the story and take me through it. Plot is usually vague to me until I’m in the middle of the story.

What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
There isn’t a genre I don’t write in. I have sci-fi, mystery, contemporary, erotic, sensual, romance, thriller, even vaguely historical. Frankly ,though, I’m not very good at historical and don’t know if I could really write a true historical story. I write the stories I do because something sparks and then the story begs to be told—or the characters beg to be let out to play.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
My characters are based on any number of things. Some come from friends, my dog, a show I’ve watched as a kid. So I’d have to say yes to both. My characters have a little of real folks and a bit of imagination in all of them—even the bad guys ---muwahahahaha

Out of all the characters that you've written, who is your favorite and why?
Oh wow… that’s a toughie. My favorite really does change with each book and each day. Maybe it’s the one I just finished or the one I’m writing now. I become obsessed with the characters and the story and sometimes, the same people are in three different stories doing three different things. Sometimes they have just one or two little differences. Each story is a little bit of: “what if this happened?...what if that happened?”

What would you want readers to take away from your books?
I want readers to feel like they’ve really gone somewhere—that they got to step away from their own lives and ride alone in someone else’s. WE all need a break now and then. I just want a reader to be able to be invested enough in my characters to become involved and forget their own headaches for a few hours.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers in regards to writing a book?
Invest in your work—write something you feel strongly about and then get behind it, tell people about it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to turn to another author for a quick read. Sometimes a different perspective will show you something you’re missing or even show you what you don’t want. Most of all, have faith in yourself. People do want to read your book, keep working on it.

What are you reading right now?
I’m reading something that a mainstream author friend is writing. It should be out next year, so I can’t say what it is yet—it’s a little creepy. *grin* That’s all right—some of my stuff creeps him out, too.

If you could be anyone or anything that you wanted, who or what would you be?
You know, I don’t really want to be anyone else or to do anything else. Sometimes I’d like to pay my bills better or have less to worry about while I write, but I guess it all goes together to make me who I am. All that stuff is probably necessary to make me write how I write. I guess I’ll just keep doing the best I can.


“A heart-pounding, heartfelt suspense-romance that wil leave you utterly breathless.”
Samantha Sommersby, author of As You Wish

A Hunted Heart by J.J. Massa
ISBN # 978-1-60202-051-1
Book Length: 192 pages
SexualContent: (S) Sensual
$5.99 from Linden Bay Romance

Purchase A Hunted Heart by J.J. Massa HERE!!

posted by Rachelle
at 4:10 PM


Gone With the Groom by Janice A. Thompson


Janice Thompson is a Christian novelist, who lives in the Houston area. She has authored eleven books and has several more in progress, including a line of contemporary humorous wedding mysteries for Barbour Publishing. Janice considers herself somewhat overqualified when it comes to writing about weddings. In 2004, her two oldest daughters both received proposals within weeks of each other. Janice coordinated both weddings - a lovely Valentine's ceremony in February for her daughter, Randi, and a festive summer gala the following June for daughter, Courtney. The weddings came off without a hitch! Janice has since coordinated weddings for friends and is thrilled to incorporate many of her adventures into her stories. She's also tickled to be able to include her canine companion, Sasha, in each of her "tails."

Gone With the Groom by Janice A. Thompson
The best laid plans of brides and men go awry when Annie Peterson's future son-in-law Scott disappears. Have pre-wedding jitters caused Brandi's fiance to take flight, or are more sinister forces at work? Surely Annie can solve the riddle. But who could be behind this apparent kidnapping caper? Maybe the drug company Scott works for has hidden motives. Perhaps it's the handiwork of Otis, Scott's deceitful dad. But then again it could be the shady wedding photographer, or the "political enemies" of Scott's mother. Will Annie solve the mystery and recover the missing groom, or will she suffer "regrets only"?


1. What book is coming next?
There will be three more Annie Peterson mysteries after this one: PUSHING UP DAISIES, THE PERFECT MATCH, and CATERING TO DISASTER. In PUSHING UP DAISIES. They will all be released as part of the new mystery line at Barbour Publishing (Heartsong Presents Mysteries).

2. What book are you working on now?
I just turned in a Heartsong romance titled WHITE AS SNOW – about a young woman who can’t stand football. She lives in the Pittsburgh area, and eventually (of course!) falls in love with a professional football player. I had a lot of fun writing this one. Why, you ask? Because I’m not a football fan! Figure skating, yes! Gymnastics, of course! Football. . .are you kidding?

3. What book are you reading now?
I just really a really funny book by Ray Blackston call FLABBERGASTED. It was kind of like chick lit for guys. I ear-marked all of the pages that made me laugh out loud. By the time I got to the end, I think I’d ear-marked over forty pages! I also just read a really great non-fiction book by Lee Ezell called FINDING GOD WHEN LIFE’S NOT FAIR. In it, she talks about the death of her husband, and her bout with cancer, ten weeks later. I could relate to so much of what she was going through (refer to question below)

4. How do you deal with your other obligations (family, church, etc.) when it’s crunch time near deadlines?
This has been a tough year for me. During the writing of GONE WITH THE GROOM, I lost my father to bone marrow cancer. It was an awful time for our family. Then, the week before the book was due, my married daughter (Randi) became very ill during her 33rd week of pregnancy and the baby (Madysen) had to be delivered early. She was only four and a half pounds, but (thank God!) is just fine now. Then, about the time the book went to the edit stage, my sister passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly. This week, as I began marketing the book, one of my best friends suddenly passed away. It seems like every time a tragedy strikes, I’m on some sort of deadline. I don’t resent that fact, (though at times it’s tough to keep going). I find the writing to be a blessing, particularly in light of the fact that I “need” the humor of light-weight stories like GONE WITH THE GROOM to bring a smile to my face. God always helps me with the obligations/deadlines part. I’m totally dependent on Him for those things. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

5. What’s your favorite worship song, and why?
If you had asked me this question one year ago, I would have answered “Amazing Love.” It’s been my favorite for years. But this year, I’m very drawn to a song called “Praise You in this Storm” (by Casting Crowns). The lyrics are so true of my life right now:

I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

(Praise You in This Storm, words by Mark Hall/music by Mark Hall and Bernie Herms)

Trust me when I say that it is possible for believers to go on praising, even when the storms are blowing out of control around you.

6. What do you crave (beverage or food) when you have writer’s stress?
I am addicted to Diet Dr. Pepper. And when I’m really needing a treat, I turn to Earl Grey tea (like Annie Peterson) or even Chai Latte. When all else fails, I reach for a piece of cheesecake.

7. Where did you birth the idea for this book (and the series)? When? How did it come about? Did any of the experiences in the story happen to you personally?
I have four daughters in their 20’s. Two of them got married in 2004 within four and a half months of each other. It was a stressful time, but I always knew I’d eventually be able to use the information in a story. Just about the time I thought I could rest, my third daughter got engaged. Her wedding just took place six weeks ago. Three down, one to go! As for how I decided to turn these books into mysteries (instead of traditional romances)… I asked myself the question, “What would you do if you had to pay for two weddings and didn’t have the money to do so?” Out of that, the first book (THE WEDDING CAPER) was born. After that, I got to thinking, “What would you do if the groom disappeared just before the wedding?) Out of that, GONE WITH THE GROOM was born. And so on, and so forth.

8. If your book was turned into a movie, who would play the main characters?
Wow. Never thought about that before. Who would play Annie Peterson? If she were still alive, I might pick someone funny like Madeline Kahn. If she were younger, maybe Carol Burnett? Diane Keaton might work, (though, Annie is really only turning 50, so even Diane might be a bit too old). As for the twin daughters, I think it would be fun to have someone like Jennifer Garner play dual roles. Or, hey…what about the Olsen twins? They could split the workload, and they’re about the right age. As for the husband (Warren) I wouldn’t want to go for anyone terribly famous, because I wouldn’t want him to outshine Annie. For Sheila? Someone quirky like Bette Midler or even Kathy Bates would do – in flamboyant colors, of course.

9. Which one of your characters is most like you, and why do you say that?
I’m a lot like Annie Peterson, truth be told. I find myself “in over my head” a lot, and I tend to think I can solve most any problem. She’s going through some empty nest issues, and I can certainly relate to that. Like Annie I also find myself turning to God for the real answers. I’d like to say I’m funny like Sheila, but I patterned that character after my best friend Kay, who always keeps me laughing. Kay is always coming up with funny sayings, and all-the-more, now that she knows I need material for Sheila to use.

10. What do you want your readers to know about you?
I love God with my whole heart, and no matter what troubles come my way, (no matter what mysteries I need to solve) I will never ever give up on my faith. Never. I will keep on keeping on, no matter what!

Purchase Gone With the Groom by Janice A. Thompson HERE!!


posted by Rachelle
at 2:08 PM


Friday, June 29, 2007

Crime and Clutter by Cyndy Salzmann


Cyndy Salzmann is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers and the author of three nonfiction books on home management, one of which focuses on getting rid of clutter. She speaks nationally on the topic of home management and has a weekly radio spot airing on Moody station WDLM. Her novels celebrate life while making her readers laugh at the dilemmas faced by millions of modern women.


A storage unit, a 1963 Volkswagen minibus, and tattered letters...reveal shattering secrets from the '60s.

It's been a year since Mary Alice lost her father -- the father she never really Crime and Clutter by Cyndy Salzmannknew. Now she's stuck cleaning out his rubbish from a storage unit. Just when she'd rather it all go away from her well-ordered life, her long-held secret is discovered by the feisty Marina, one of the six members of the Friday Afternoon Club.

When these friends make it their mission to help Mary Alice tackle her stash, they arrive at the storage unit, prepared to clean. But what they discover takes them on a riotous ride through the crime and clutter of the sixties, the angst and betrayal of those caught in The Revolution, and the forgiveness that can only come through acceptance of a different kind of Cause.

Includes fun, easy, and tantalizing recipes!


1. How many days do you wear your blue jeans before they go in the laundry?
Jeans are so much more comfortable on the second day. Plus, laundry is the bane of my existence. I am always behind. My only solace comes from Gen 2:25, “They were naked and not ashamed.”

2. How many sizes of clothing do you have in your closet? In storage?
I sometimes think I should have those little size rings in my closet 8, 10, 12, “none of your business.” : )

3. What is your comfort food?
My mom’s fried chicken and cream gravy. Especially in the summer when she serves it with homegrown tomatoes, green beans fresh from the garden and creamy mashed potatoes. Maybe this is why I should have those size rings in my closet…

4. White chocolate? Milk chocolate? Dark chocolate?
Definitely dark chocolate now that researchers say it is a “super food” that’s better for you than blueberries. Plus I just found out that Harry & David sells dark chocolate covered blueberries. I can just feel the vitamins coursing through my body when I pop one of those babies into my mouth. : )

5. What’s your favorite mode of communication? E-mail, Instant Message, Land Line Phone, Cell Phone, Old-Fashioned Snail Mail Letter?
I adore receiving a snail mail note or letter. There’s something special about seeing someone’s handwriting and knowing they took the time to write and post a letter. However, thoughtless person that I am, I always use email.

6. What’s your idea of a day of relaxation?
Massage. Pedicure. Lunch. Movie. Bath. Bed. Ahhh…

7. When you are stressed, who’s the first person you call?
I have this reminder on my fridge… “Go to the throne before you go to the phone.” But I usually call my hubby at work to whine – unless it’s Friday. Then I can make it to 4:30 and whine to my FAC friends.

8. What’s your biggest pet peeve?
My husband and son’s channel surfing. I want to scream, “Just make a decision and stick with it!”

9. Who would play you in the Cyndy Salzmann movie of the week?
My friend Marilyn recently told me that my new hairstyle makes me look like Renée Zellweger. (Marilyn is now my very favorite friend.) So, I guess I’d have to let Renee at least audition for the part…

10. If you could do one thing over in life, what would it be?
Work less. Play more. That is so shallow…

Purchase Crime and Clutter by Cyndy Salzmann HERE!!


posted by Rachelle
at 11:37 PM


Veil of Fire by Marlo Schalesky


Marlo Schalesky became interested in stories handed down through her husband's family about the great Minnesota firestorm of 1894. Schalesky is the author of three historical fiction novels, Cry Freedom, Freedom's Shadow, Only the Wind Remembers, and one non-fiction title--Empty Womb, Aching Heart. She and her family live in California.



Who is the monster in the hills? In 1894, the worst firestorm in Minnesota Veil of Fire by Marlo Schaleskyhistory descended on the town of Hinckley, consuming 400 square miles and killing 418 people in just four hours. Heat, flame, and darkness swept through the town, devouring lives, and consuming all hope. In the aftermath of the fire, the town of Hinckley rises from the ashes, its people determined to rebuild their lives. But in the shadows, someone is watching, someone is waiting. Someone who knows the secrets the fire laid bare. A rumour spreads of a mysterious figure that haunts the hills. A monster? A ghost, or a memory? An enemy in hiding, or a lost love?

Through the compelling story of one person's journey through the Veil of Fire, readers are challenged to live the life God has given even if it's not the life they dreamed. And we find there is hope for all of us who have been burned and scarred by life's tragedies.


1. Where did you birth the idea for this book? When? How did it come about?
People often ask where I get my ideas for my books. My answer? You never know! For Veil of Fire, the idea was birthed at my favorite Mexican restaurant in the mission town of San Juan Bautista. There I was, sitting with my family, nibbling chips and salsa, when a wedding party came by. The bridesmaids were dressed in beautiful turn-of-the-century style gowns. As they passed, my mother-in-law began to tell me of the dresses that her great grandmother, who lived in Hinckley, used to sew for the rich ladies in Minneapolis and St. Paul. From there, came the story of the great Hinckley fire and the rebuilding that this woman, my husband’s great-great-grandmother, was a part of. And finally, I heard the tale of the mystery figure in the hills, a person burned beyond recognition. A person never identified, living as a hermit until one day he just disappeared.

At that moment, the first inklings of the story that would become Veil of Fire were born in my heart. Who was the hermit in the hills? What happened to him? And how would I solve the mystery if I could? As I pondered those questions, I knew that I had to write the hermit’s story. Had to explore what it would be like to lose everything, even your identity. Had to hear the hermit’s voice in my mind, and hear the story for myself.

So, the writing of the book became for me a process of discovery, as I hope it will be for my readers. I hope that as the mystery of the hermit drew me, so too it will draw others to this story of how fire can change you, take from you, and in the end, may just set you free.

2. Can you explain the research process, since this is such a historical novel?
The research for Veil of Fire was particularly fascinating not only because of its link to my personal family history, but also because of the incredible first-person accounts of the fire that were written by people who were actually there. These stories are compiled into a book written entirely by survivors who recount their personal experience of living through the firestorm that swept through their town. I read about a man whose hat lifted from his head and exploded above him as he ran through wind and fire. I read about another whose horse raced beside the Eastern Minnesota train as fire billowed around him. The horse swerved into the smoke, and the man was never seen again. I read about a boy racing down the tracks, falling, and surviving as the fire roared over him. I read about fire on the surface of the Grindstone River, darkness broken only by bursts of flame, the St. Paul and Duluth engine backing up to Skunk Lake through blinding heat and smoke. I read about a train trestle disintegrating into flame moments after a train passed, about Jane Tew praying on that train, and the brakemen who saved them all.

Those eyewitness accounts, as well as information gathered about the fire from other sources, created the realistic feel of the fire and its aftermath in Veil of Fire. Plus, you can be sure that if something seems almost beyond belief in Veil of Fire, it will be drawn from an actual account that came directly from the research, so amazing were the real stories of the fire on that day!

Today, a number of books about the fire, as well as artifacts, photos, and other articles can be seen at the Hinckley Fire Museum in Hinckley.

3. What takeaway points do you hope your readers pull from this book?
Once, when we were children, we believed in miracles. The impossible was only a prayer away. Fairy tales were real, and dreams were free. Where did we lose the ability to trust? When did we stop daring to believe? What happened to us?

Life happened. Failure, discouragement, pain, loss. Somewhere, somehow, life burns us all. And we realize that this life we live is not the one we once dreamed. The realities of life scar us. Doubts rise. Fear whispers that hope is gone. And what was once a simple faith can fail in the face of that fear.

In the midst of life’s disillusionment, choices appear. Do we retreat? Hide our hurts far from probing eyes? Do we embrace bitterness and cynicism? Do we use deceit to try to obtain our goals? Do we give up, give in, forget that we ever dared to dream?

Or is it possible to reach the high places of faith in the low valleys of life’s reality? Can we still live a life of bold faith, of fierce hope, when fairy tales don’t come true? How do we live this life that God has given us when it’s not the life we dreamed?

These are the questions I wanted to explore in Veil of Fire. These are the questions which underlie each character’s journey in the aftermath of the great fire of 1894.

So, for those burned by life, for those who carry scars that cannot be seen, for those who have retreated for fear of more pain, this story is for you, this journey from the hidden places of pain to a new hope in the unhidden truth of Christ’s love.

4. Can you share with your readers something God has been teaching you lately?
Through some recent tragedies and through writing Veil of Fire, God is showing me that I cannot measure his love by my successes and failures, or even by my happiness. Who I am on the inside, how I am being shaped into the likeness of Christ, the character of my life – the color and beauty of it – are what are important to God. And to create that color and beauty, sorrow is necessary. Hurtful things happen.

So, I’m starting to understand that my life, too, is a story that God is writing. And since the best stories have conflict, disappointments, and plenty of action, I shouldn’t be surprised when my life takes a turn and my faith is challenged once again.

And yet, my sorrow matters to God, my tears are counted by him as precious. He does not leave me alone in my hurt. He touches me, he heals me, he creates beauty from the ashes of my pain.

So I’m learning to walk through the fires in my own life. And to dig deeper – not to answer the question of why but the question of who – who is God really, who am I, and who is he making me to be? Those are the questions that matter. Those are the things that help me to face my own fires, accept my own scars.

5. What book are you currently reading?
Why, the New Testament, of course . . . in Greek! Now, before you start thinking that loving Greek makes me too scholarly to write a decent novel, you should know that even though I just completed my Masters at Fuller (that’s a Masters in Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary – so cool!), it wasn’t my desire for an “A” that made me fall in love with New Testament Greek. After all, most students get through Greek class as fast as they can and then forget it. I might have too.

But one day, as I was sitting there in class, learning forms and tenses, my professor happened to mention something interesting. “Did you realize,” he said, “that the Greek word for truth and the word for unhidden share the same root.”

Ah, in that moment an idea came to me, a little whisper from the heart of God. Truth. Unhidden. Truth. And I began to see the connection between truth and what it means for those who hide in their pain.

That idea became the basis for the theme in Veil of Fire. So you see, I can’t help loving the Greek. I can’t help wanting to read the New Testament that way. After all, who knows what I might discover next.

6. Which character in Veil of Fire do you most relate to, and why?
Even though I base no character on myself, they all reflect a little of me – my questions, my struggles, the issues that have shaped and molded me. In Veil of Fire, this is particularly true for the hermit in the hills. Just as the hermit questions God’s love, believes “I am Esau, unchosen, unloved,” so I too have struggled with those same feelings, doubts, and questions. I, too, have cried out to God, “Why don’t you love me?” For the hermit, it was a question born out of fire, abuse, and disfigurement. For me, it was a question that came out of failure, infertility, and miscarriage. So, in many ways, the hermit’s questions were my own, the answers mine, the external scars reflections of my internal ones, and in turn, I think, symbols of the scars of us all.

7. When writing Veil of Fire, did you plan the plot before sitting down to write the story, or did the plot develop as the story progressed?
I am a “headlights” writer, which means I can see the chapter I’m writing and a few chapters ahead. I may also glimpse a few “signposts” in the distance. The funny thing about Veil of Fire is that I wrote three quarters of the book thinking the hermit in the hills was one character only to find out as I neared the end that I was wrong! And the impact of that discovery was both a shock and a delight. Suddenly, I understood what God was getting at through the theme and nuances of character in the book.

And truly, while I may complain that it would be easier to write a book if it were all mapped out (it certainly would be quicker!), this sense of surprise and delight is one of things that I love about the writing process. I love when the story and characters take on a life of their own. I love to discover what God has been planning for a story all along. And I love to be surprised by a sudden turn of events. And I know if I’m surprised and delighted, my readers will be too.

8. What book project can we expect from you after Veil of Fire? Can you give us a sneak peak of the storyline?
After Veil of Fire, I’m writing 3 contemporary novels for Waterbrook-Multnomah. All of them are “Love Stories with a Twist!,” a new type of story that I think will knock readers’ socks off.

The first, Beyond the Night, releases in May 2008. With groovy 70’s trivia and a whopper of an ending twist, this one was as fun to write as it will be to read. Here’s a blurb about it:

They say love is blind. This time, they’re right.

A poignant love story . . .

A shocking twist . . .

Come, experience a love that will not die.

Nicolas Sparks (The Notebook) meets M. Night Shymalan (The Sixth Sense) in this moving story of two people trying to find love in the dark. A woman going blind, a man who loves her but can’t tell her so, a car crash, a hospital room, and an ending that has to be experienced to be believed. Watch for it next May!

Purchase Veil of Fire by Marlo Schalesky HERE!!


posted by Rachelle
at 9:37 PM


Tigre Moon by Jenna Leigh


Jenna Leigh hails from North Louisiana and until the birth of her brother, she was a lonely only child, so she made up stories in her head. After his birth, she tended to plot on how to kill him without getting caught. However, the stories stuck, but through exposure to romance novels they grew up somewhat. One fateful day, she decided to try her hand at writing and her world hasn’t been the same since.

When not writing, Jenna works as a secretary in a local hospital. At home, she likes surfing the net, talking to friends, and avoiding housework all while waiting to win the lottery. She’s married to a wonderful man who also writes. They have a teenaged daughter who never talks back and always picks up after herself. Jenna would like to remind you that she writes fiction and if you believe the previous sentence she has some ocean front property in Arizona for sale.

Yahoo Group:
My Space:



Tael searched for years to find his true love to set him free of the blood curse of the Tigre Moon. The Tigre are a race of accursed people from the planet of Maurania. Some say, they are immortal, others say they are demons. None know when they came into being. However, they have spread throughout the known galaxy. Some quest for their mates, the descendant of the planet that escaped the curse, others simply survive, torn between their human and animal half.

Neri lived a sheltered existence as the daughter of a favored slave, but after her mother’s death, she is placed on the auction block. Because she is rumored to be descended from the people of the planet of Maurania she is bought by Tael who has searched for many years to find the one true love to set him free of the blood curse of the Tigre Moon. But is Neri the one?


“Is the spell working?” a deep voice asked from a long way off. It was as if she was wrapped in thick blankets. She could move, but didn’t really want to. Her eyelids were so heavy she couldn’t lift them.

“Yes, it seems to be,” another answered.

“Good, it helps if they are relaxed the first time I come to them in my other form,” the first voice said. There was the sound of the door shutting and then silence.
After a brief struggle, Neri forced her eyes open and looked around. Where was she? The chamber was lit by braziers scattered around the room. The bed she lay upon was huge with dark burgundy hangings that were soft to the touch. Neri was dressed in a long white nightdress with lacy ruffles along the hem. She rubbed the fabric between her fingers, marveling at the silky texture.

She tried to sit up but found that it made the room spin in an alarming way. So she Tigre Moon by Jenna Leighlay back down, staring at the ceiling in wonder. It was painted with winged creatures all around the edge. In the middle, however was another creature. She’d never seen such a thing, but had heard of them in legends.

It was the Tigre . She knew of them from pictures in a forbidden book her father had. He was not aware that Neri could read; she and her mother kept it secret.

According to legend, the Tigre was a dual natured being, half man and half beast. The one you got depended on the phases of the second moon of their home planet. Their whole race was under a curse because a woman had refused the God of the Beasts in his pursuit of her. She had been turned into this fierce creature, it was said, and only when she found her true mate was she freed from the curse.

Her children were not so lucky. Now they were all damned to follow in her footsteps. Each one had been born with the same dilemma. Some went mad. Many were hunted down and killed, or enslaved. Some found their escape, and others lived out their long lives yearning for the one that would free them and enable them to control the beast within.

“Neri.” A voice whispered, echoing in her mind.

She opened her eyes wide and looked around. There was no one here.

“Neri. Come here.” Again it called; her heart thundered in her ears. Magic was considered sinful. The demons used magic.

She stood up, compelled to follow the direction of the voice in her head. She stumbled and almost fell when she reached the door, but then she steadied herself and continued out into the hall. The voice led her outside the compound into the jungle. A small lucid part of her was afraid, but her mind was foggy from the drugs and the command of the voice.

The next thing she knew, she stood in a small clearing, looking up at the twin moons of this strange planet. She blinked in confusion and looked around for a few minutes. “Am I dreaming?” Maybe she had been walking in her sleep. Shrugging, she turned to head back inside before she was caught out here and punished. The only rule she seemed to have was that she not leave the women’s quarters unescorted. She’d done that now, no matter that it had been accidental.

She walked quickly back into the forest, hurrying to get back before she was missed. She turned toward where she thought the palace was and kept going. She felt as if she were being watched. Neri turned her head this way and that, looking. She couldn’t see anything. But she felt it, all the same.

* * * *

He watched her as she paused to look around warily. The dappled moonlight was bright enough to shine through the gown she wore, showing him her curvaceous figure as if she were naked.

He crouched down, ready to make his move.

She stopped with a confused frown. “I am going the wrong way.”

He smiled as he heard her talking to herself. Her heart was pounding so loud, he could hear it from here. He could smell the oils from her bath earlier.

When she turned back around, she headed right for his hiding spot and he waited, tensed and ready. He would hunt well tonight. Neri stopped suddenly, and her already pounding heart began to race. He waited in the brush not five centens in front of her.

“Hello?” she said. “Is someone there?” All she got in response was a low growl. Neri reacted immediately. She made a small squeaking noise then grabbed the hem of her nightgown and ran.

Yes! He took off after her. He liked them to give a good chase before he caught them. She glanced back and screamed, her stride never faltering. Her legs pumped faster and faster.

He kept her in his sights. Now he could smell her fear and her sweat. It excited him, almost as much as the sight of her breasts when she’d turned to look back. She would be his before the night was over. Body and soul, he would own her.


Why did you become a writer?
I started writing fanfic and RP because of I couldn’t get my fix of authors’ books often enough. And after I kept getting emails from people telling me how much they liked my stuff, I wondered, why not try it ‘for real’? Was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life? Ever since I remember I’ve made up stories in my head, but, I never wrote them down because I liked to change them over and over. I didn’t start writing until I was thirty. I still like changing them over and over. I think that’s why it takes me so long to write my books. LOL

What do you love about being an author?
I write the books, I make the rules! Or I would if it weren’t for those pesky voices in my head telling me what to do that is.

Is there anything you dislike?
I despise writing a synopsis, which to me is a book report and then waiting on an answer once I submit.

How do you balance your personal and writing time?
I don’t really, because I have no life.

How do you write?
Do your characters come to you first or the plot or the world of the story? Sometimes, it’s just a tiny spark of an idea that grows. Then, other times there’s this voice that won’t shut up until I write down whatever they’re saying. Sometimes after I start listening to them though, they run and hide from me. Frustrating little twits.

What genre(s) do you write?
Contemporary, paranormal and scifi, all with varying heat levels ranging from pure romance to erotica. Most of the time, there’s at least a smidge of comedy in my writing too. Why do you write the stories that you write? I can’t not write them. I love the characters and the worlds they live in, some of them are a lot like my own world, but others are so far removed from my own, that it’s an escape from reality. That’s one attraction, then there’s the power I have over what happens, I control it so I know there’ll be a happy ending but the fun part is getting my hero and heroine there.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
Whether they’re werewolves, vampires or human, I’d like to think my characters act as realistic as possible. But yeah, I’ve written highly exaggerated versions of my friends as secondary characters. People who’ve read the books think I’m joking about how nuts those women are, though, but I’m here to tell you, the truth is nuttier than fiction.

Out of all the characters that you've written, who is your favorite and why?
Lainie Westerbrook from The Wolf’s Heart. She’s quick-witted, smart mouthed, funny and a lot meaner than some of the werewolves in the story she’s sharing. They say the female of the species is more dangerous that the male. Whoever ‘they’ is must have met Lainie on a bad day.

What would you want readers to take away from your books?
An enjoyable reading experience, and with most of my books, a big smile.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers in regards to writing a book?
Love your characters, the plot, the world your characters inhabit, especially if it's going to be a series. I know other authors say this, but write what you know. But if you don't know go find out, from at least three or more reliable sources. As to the act of writing itself, before you read your email or get online, write something. Get in the habit of doing that every single day and you’ll finish your book sooner than you think. Now if I could follow my own advice about that last one.

What are you reading right now?
Kay Hooper’s Sleeping With Fear, love this. Bishop is so hot. He kind of reminds me of Spock, you know. *sighs*

If you could be anyone or anything that you wanted, who or what would you be?
A fulltime stay-at-home never leave the house unless it’s to go and get more chocolate ice cream author. If I can’t be that, Hugh Jackman’s wardrobe assistant will do in a pinch, and believe me, there will definitely be some pinching :)

Alien Seduction by Leigh Ellwood, Jenna Leigh & Megan Hussey
Words: 50346
Genre: Erotica/Science Fiction
$4.99 from Fictionwise

Purchase Alien Seduction by Leigh Ellwood, Jenna Leigh & Megan Hussey HERE!!

posted by Rachelle
at 6:13 PM


Christian Fiction Challenge (June) - Dad-lit or Beach Read

This months challenge: Grab a family member or friend and ask them to join the challenge. Your friends have towering TBR piles too! Anyone can sign up for the challenge. You can sign up by yourself. But to be entered in the draw, you must bring a friend. Do they have to blog??? No. They can answer their challenge questions on your blog.

Here's who I brought with me:

Me and Echo

Echo's TAKE:
1. Title: Violette Between
2. Author: Alison Strobel
3. Copyright: 2006
4. How long was the book languishing in your TBR pile? 5 months
5. What made you buy/borrow the book in the first place? It was given to me by Rachelle
6. What were your thoughts on the story?

I'm not really into print books (i'm an audiobook and film junkie) so when I was asked to pick up this book I was all willy-nilly. But the book wasn't so hard to read and I was immediately pulled along through the book by its unusual narrative and unique storyline. Christian, the psychologist and Violette, the artist was a really good match but it's an unrequited love for Christian and that really pulled some heartstrings. I couldn't imagine myself being in a relationship with no intimacy and worse yet, knowing that your partner is in-love (or still in-love) with her deceased husband.

All in all, I loved Strobel's book. The story really hit home and as hard as it is to admit, it jerked a tear or two. The suffering, loss, and struggles of the hero and heroine became all too real to me I had to put it down in a sec. I am thankful for Alison Strobel's gift of writing and the awesome way she uses that gift to reach her readers!

7. Now do you wish you read the book sooner?
Not really. I would have wanted to read it on my own pace but having been able to read it just reignited my love for reading that has been pushed aside by the chaos of adulthood and a CG career!

8. Any questions/statements for the author?
Would a fall from a step-ladder really put someone in a coma? I would have expected Violette to have a few bruises and fractures but coma is far not too real, I think.
Will Christian and Violette have kids in the future?
Will there be a next installment?

9. Where will the book reside now?
I think I'll give it away to a friend or a relative. I would want it to touch someone else's life than get piled up with dust.

10. Go kiss a dad. Your relative or husband! If you read a book by the beach, pool, or tub: did you at least RELAX?? I hope so.
Can I just kiss my fiancee? Well, relax wouldn't be the word exactly but it did take my mind off other things and it felt good.


1. Title
This Pen for Hire

2. Author
Laura Levine

3. Copyright

4. How long was the book languishing in your TBR pile? Just a month or so. I bought it from a book sale.

5. What made you buy/borrow the book in the first place?
Because it's chick-lit. Anything chick-lit is an apple of my eye.

6. What were your thoughts on the story?
The book is laugh-out-loud funny. It's a humor-mystery riot. I've enjoyed it from the very first page to the last. Jaine Austen (named after the great Jane Austen) was rip-roaring fun. She's nosy when she's curious but knows how to use her gift of gab to get what she wants. I wasn't expecting much from the protagonist, being so naive and impulsive and insecure of her appearance but she has proved me wrong when she impersonated as a New York Times columnist, an attorney, and a police investigator with pure confidence and ease just to get the facts right through her investigation.

This book is fun and sassy with great characters and snappy dialogue. If you've read Deborah Donnelly, this book will definitely land on your keeper shelf.

7. Now do you wish you read the book sooner?
Yes, if I've known it was that good I would have devoured it as my breakfast, lunch and dinner. LOL

8. Any questions/statements for the author?
I've always wondered how you season your stories with humor. I've read quite a number of authors who have attempted at humor mystery but...failed.

9. Where will the book reside now?
My cabinet - where all my bought books hide and sleep.

10. Go kiss a dad. Your relative or husband! If you read a book by the beach, pool, or tub: did you at least RELAX?? I hope so.
I don't really kiss my Dad unless it's his birthday so I just kissed my fiance. :D
I read the book everywhere, even when i was attending a party or at the hospital having my regular checkup, so I wasn't really relaxed. I was frantic in finishing it. But I'm all relaxed now. What's the next challenge?

posted by Rachelle
at 4:50 PM


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Surge and Raine by Dana Littlejohn


Dana LittlejohnDana Littlejohn was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, but she has called Indianapolis, In. her home for over 10 years. Since childhood she loved to write and it showed in contest winning poetry and writing short stories to entertain her friends. To date she has published three full length romance novels, three novellas and four short stories and will participate in two anthologies. Stop by her website’s and see what’s happening next with her.



This ain’t yo mama’s Little Mermaid!

The time has come for Riptide, the son of Poseidon, to step down and his son, Surge to rule the oceans and the seven seas. Before going back into seclusion Poseidon left one rule for his son and his people to follow: stay away from the surface and leave the humans alone. Even as a young merman Surge found that rule difficult to keep. On one of his frequent trips to the surface he met the lovely Raine Foster and fell in love. One day he went to see her and she tells him she is in danger and must leave. Surge now has to go to the only who can help him get to the surface to save his love. Will Poseidon give Surge what he needs to save a human once he’s confessed all he’s done?


Before she could protest he captured her lips with his own lifting her from the floor. His hungry kisses made her melt in his arms. He lifted her and carried her back to the couch. As he laid her down, she pushed him away. “Surge wait, wait, we don’t have time for this.”

“You don’t want me to love on you?”

“I didn’t say all that. It’s just been a long time since someone has done that, and Surge and Raine by Dana Littlejohnwe need to leave. They’re coming for me. I know it,” she said breathlessly as he kissed her neck.

“You’re safe with me. I will protect you,” he whispered. He raised his head and began removing her clothes. When she was naked before him he smiled.

“I always assumed that females were made the same way on the top, but were different, of course, on the lower half because humans don’t have tails.” he whispered then touched her there. “So this is what a female looks like without a tail.” He smiled. “There’s hair here, too. It’s beautiful.”

“Tail? Ok, Surge, what’s your story? What are you talking about?” He smiled and continued to pat and touch her. “I came to help you. I only have two days on land to help you and convince you to come back with me to the sea and be my mate.”


“I only have two--”

“Ok, no, no, no, don’t repeat it. I heard you. I mean, what does that mean?”

“I came to help you, Raine. I love you and I want you to be my mate.”

“Mate? Where are you from that you keep saying mate and not wife?”

“I’m from the sea. Our home is on a reef.”

“A reef? What reef?”

“It’s an extremely large reef, where the water is warm.”

She leaned up on her elbows. “You mean the Barrier Reef? It’s a large, huge reef. That reef?”

“I suppose. My father continues to add to it as our population grows.”

“Your father? Who’s your father?”

“My father is Riptide, son of Lord Poseidon.”

“Lord Poseidon? The god of the ocean, that Lord Poseidon?” She watched him nod.

“Uh-huh, and who are your people again?”

“We’re mer-people.”

“Mer-people? As in mermaids? So what are you saying? You’re, like, a guy mermaid?”

He chuckled continuing to explore her body with his fingers moving between her legs.

“Yes, although we would prefer the term merman or even triton, but I get your meaning.”

She dropped herself back to the couch. “Great! The first man I’m even remotely attracted to in years turns out to be some kind of whacko.”

He chuckled again as his fingers slipped into an opening he found in the downy hair he was exploring. “Is this opening on all human females?”

She gasped as his fingers penetrated her. She couldn’t find her voice as he slid them back and forth so she just nodded.

“Hmm...” He removed his fingers from her first then he removed the cloth coverings from his legs.

Raine turned her head to look at him and her eyes widened. “Wow. For a merman you sure are built anatomically correct,” she murmured with a chuckle.

“Thank you. I asked Lord Poseidon to give me the body of my father before he changed him.”

She chuckled disbelievingly. “Yeah, ok.”

“Will it be sufficient?”

“Sufficient for what?”

He moved back between her legs and slid his fingers back into her.

Her breath caught as she tried to speak. "Surge, what, what are you doing?”

“My fingers seemed to slip right into this opening with no resistance. I can’t help but touch it, it’s so warm, soft and wet, but this body tells me this is what supposed to go there.”

She shook her head falling into a dizzying haze of euphoria as he slowly joined his body to hers.


Why did you become a writer? Was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?
I have always wanted to write. I've been writing since I was in elementary school. I work a full time job, but my dream was always to be a full time writer.

What do you love about being an author? Is there anything you dislike?
I love spinning the webs, the actual story telling. You can build your own worlds any way you like. i think that is so cool and there is no down side to that.

How do you balance your personal and writing time?
I used to write during my every waking lunch at work, before work, in the car, after work, where ever, but then I hurt my foot and was laid up for almost 3 months. When that occurred I had plenty of time to write and took advantage of it. I usually write on paper than transfer to computer so i can write anywhere.

How do you write? Do your characters come to you first or the plot or the world of the story?
Hmm, it depends on the story, but most of the time the story comes first and then the characters. For me the story just comes to mind and then the people build themselves.

What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
I write romance. I love the idea of love and I believe in love conquers all.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
It's a toss up. I based a few of them on real people, but most of them come from my head. :-)

Out of all the characters that you've written, who is your favorite and why?
My favorite character, by far, is Peter Cook. I love that he is a lover and believes in love at first sight. He instantly knew the woman of his dreams and took a leap of faith.

What would you want readers to take away from your books?
I want people to be able to connect to my characters one way or another. I want them to feel the love, feel the sex or just say I know some one just like that. That would be cool.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers in regards to writing a book?
My advice to authors is simply this: stay true to your voice. Another author said that to me when I first started writing and I remind myself of that every time I start a project. I may have my favorite authors, Piers Anthony, Jackie Collins and even Bertrice Small, but I try to learn from them not to copy from them.

What are you reading right now?
Between working and working I haven't been reading as much as I used to.

If you could be anyone or anything that you wanted, who or what would you be?
If I could be anything in the world, I would honestly want to be a author...famous, of course, but still an author. :-)

Surge and Raine by Dana Littlejohn
Genre: Contemporary/Fantasy/IR
Length: Novella
Rating: Tidal Wave
$3.49 from Ocean's Mist Press

Purchase Surge and Raine by Dana Littlejohn HERE!!

posted by Rachelle
at 4:23 PM


The Divine Appointment by Jerome Teel

(Howard Books June 5, 2007)


Jerome Teel is a graduate of Union University, where he received his JD, cum laude, from the Ole Miss School of Law. He is actively involved in his church, local charities, and youth sports.

He has always loved legal-suspense novels and is a political junkie. He is also the author of The Election, another political thriller that we reviewed November of '06.

Jerome and his wife, Jennifer, have three children...Brittney, Trey, and Matthew...and they reside in Tennessee where he practices law and is at work on a new novel.

You could visit Jerome at his Website, or at his blog Christian Political Blog.


"They aren't hiding just one something, but a bunch of somethings..."

Small town southern lawyer, Elijah Faulkner is a dying attorney that The Divine Appointment by Jerome Teelactually takes pleasure in fighting injustice by working hard for the little guy. But when he takes on a case to defend a philandering doctor with a pregnant wife in a seemingly open-and-shut murder trial, Eli is not so sure he is on the 'right' side.

Back in Washington D.C., supreme Court Justice Martha Robinson has died, presenting an unprecedented opportunity for conservative President Richard Wallace to impact the direction of the highest court in the land. He believes God put him in the presidency for just such a time as make a Divine Appointment. Not everyone is thrilled with the president's nominee, however. And some will stop at nothing, including murder, to prevent his confirmation by the Senate.

A lobbyist with a vendetta, a small-time Mafioso, an investigative reporter with a Watergate complex, and a powerful Washington political machine combine to create a fast-paced suspense novel that explores the anatomy of a murder, and the ripple effect that it creates across the country.


"Jerome Teel has crafted an intriguing political thriller...nice twists and turns to keep you reading. he paints vivid mental pictures that bring characters and locales to life."
-- Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee's 7th District


posted by Rachelle
at 2:57 PM


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Too Good to be True by Marie-Nicole Ryan


Romantic suspense author, Marie-Nicole Ryan, was definitely born in Kentucky, but defies anyone to discover and/or reveal the year. After graduating from Henderson County High School, she mistakenly decided that nursing school was her ticket to riches and happiness. Another career detour found her going to interior design school, and while it was a lot more fun than nursing school, it was even more work.

Through all these career stops and starts, she devoured books by the thousands: romance, science fiction, mysteries. After receiving a lot encouragement from an on-line writing community, she decided it was time to plant her butt in the chair and bring her stories to life.

Her fourth novel, Too Good to be True, was published by Samhain Publishing in electronic formats and will be available in print starting September 18, 2008. Borders Book Stores will carry Too Good To Be True by November or December. Her fifth book, the re-release of Love on the Run, is an October release in electronic form from Samhain Publishing and will be available in print in 2008.

Ms. Ryan has one son, lives in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee, and has thrown caution to the winds by abandoning her R.N. job and is now writing full-time.

Visit her website at
Other Links:



The sheriff has the hots for her prime suspect. What’s a girl to do?

Sheriff Rilla Devane has sworn to serve and protect, just as her father did before he was murdered. An influx of party drugs has killed two teenagers, but she has a suspect: handsome, rich newcomer Mackenzie Callahan, a published author seeking small-town atmosphere.

To build her case, she moves closer to Mackenzie and his dangerous brand of seductive charm. She’ll risk everything for her investigation, even when it means letting her guard down and falling for her suspect.

Mac Callahan lives and breathes for undercover work. But his last mission ended in near disaster, and he has one last chance to prove his value to the DEA. Taking sexy Sheriff Rilla to bed might ruin his career—or lead him to the love of his life.


After dinner served on the patio, Rilla slipped off her sandals and dabbled her toes in the water. Callahan stood right behind her—too close for comfort. “Still warm, isn’t it, from the sun?” His tone was warm, too. What the heck was he up to now?

“Yeah, feels good though,” she admitted grudgingly. Warm water. Warm tone. It was enough to drive her batty.

“Why don’t y’all go for a swim?” Katie suggested.

As tempting as it sounded, Rilla shook her head. “No suit.”

Lloyd’s voice boomed. “What’s wrong with skinny dippin’? Or don’t you do such things up North?”

“You just hush, Lloyd. We’re not about to do any such thing. Rilla can borrow one of my suits, and Mac can borrow one of yours.”

“Well…” Rilla hesitated. The idea of seeing Callahan in a pair of swimming trunks was more than tempting, but was it a good idea? He was still her choice for drug kingpin. And no matter how good he looked, she’d still arrest him once she proved it.

“Sounds good to me,” the traitor said and winked.

She glanced away, refusing to humor him. He had no business coming to dinner with her especially after she’d warned him she didn’t have time for a social life.

“Okay, that settles it.” Katie nodded toward the cabana. “Come on, Rilla, I’ve got the perfect suit for your cute figure.”

Rilla’s faced heated. This hadn’t been part of the dinner plans. Cavorting about in a skimpy suit…

Ten minutes later she stuck her head out of the changing room. The men hadn’t appeared yet, so she ran across the slate slabs and dived into the pool. She skimmed along the bottom until she needed air and pushed for the surface.

Brushing the hair from her eyes, she found herself facing a pair of bare feet and a fine set of muscled calves. Her gaze moved higher to his thighs and to the bulge—and away from the bulge back to his right knee and thigh. Damn, if there wasn’t a surgical scar at least eight inches long which started on his muscular thigh and traveled down below his knee…and what suspiciously looked like a bullet wound.

“Like what you see?” he asked, his tone amused. His blue eyes shone with good humor.

“Uh, that’s a hell of a scar. Old football injury?”

Mac laughed and turned to his host. “Lloyd, call off the sheriff. She’s interrogating me again.”

Lloyd straightened from his pool chair. “Damn, son. I think Rilla’s right. Looks like something got a-hold of you.”

“Almost but not quite. I had a compound fracture. The bone came through the skin—say, you remember the old movie with Burt Reynolds where he and his pals went canoeing? That’s sort of what happened to me, except I was in a car wreck last year. I’ve a metal plate and a bunch of screws holding this leg of mine together.”

“They did a good job. I never noticed any kind of limp,” Rilla said, wondering if he was telling the truth.

“I had six months of intensive rehab. I worked like an S.O.B. to get rid of the limp.”

“Come on in,” she said. At least if he were in the water, she wouldn’t have so much trouble keeping her eyes away from his crotch.

“You’re an excellent swimmer.”

“Thanks.” Rilla treaded water and tried to shrug, two activities she discovered weren’t easily accomplished at the same time. “Come on. I doubt you’ll melt.” But I might.

He tentatively eased into the water beside her, holding to the side as if he were afraid to let go.

“What’s the matter? she asked. “Don’t you swim?”

He rolled his eyes. “No.”

“Then you need to learn.”


“Everybody ought to know how to swim. It’s easy. Even little babies can learn.” She splashed some water in his face.

Callahan shook his head. “It’s been a long time since I was a baby. I’ve forgotten.”

She laughed. “Chicken.” With practiced ease, she backstroked away from him. “Come on. Come to me. I’m not far. Push off from the side, put your hands out in front like this.” She stretched her arms out, hands together in a V. “And let your body float to me. I’ll catch you.”

He glanced toward the pool deck. “Where are Katie and Lloyd? They need a good laugh.”

“If you’ll just do it, you can be swimming before they come out.”

His dark brows drew into a frown. “You’ll let me drown.”

“I assure you I won’t. I was a lifeguard at the country club when I was in high school. It would be morally impossible for me to let you drown, even if you are a real pain in the behind.”

“Harsh, but true.” He grinned.

Did anything ever make him stop smiling?

“All right. I’m trusting you with my life.”

She watched as he pushed off from the side of the pool, arms in front as she’d directed.

He reached her and snaked his arms around her, pulling her up against his chest. A thin scrap of fabric was all that separated her tensing nipples from his bare, muscular chest. Could he tell?

She felt the quick hammering of his heart against hers. Her hands splayed down his chest while his blue-as-the-pool eyes shone with merriment.

It hit her. “You can swim, can’t you?” she murmured, strangely unwilling to let him go even if he had tricked her.

Callahan grinned. “Yeah. I knew it was the only way I was going to get you in my arms tonight.”

He wanted her in his arms? A heady rush of warmth pooled in her belly. Her body molded against his—like they were made for each other—twin keys for the same lock.

She looked into his eyes, his gaze soft and warm. The heat built and shimmered between them. His muscled thigh was between hers—when did that happen? Instinctively she pressed against him and a thrill of pleasure shot to her core. She clung to him, her fingers kneading into his shoulders. Her lips parted. More than anything she wanted to taste him, rub against his hard erection and take him inside… She took a ragged breath.

“Woo hoo. Look at them, Lloyd.” Katie Bass’s shrill voice rang out. “I think they’re already in love.”

Hastily Rilla pulled away from Mac and swam for the opposite side of the pool. “Come on in, you two. The water’s great.”


Why did you become a writer?
I just couldn’t help myself, but mainly it was to shut up the voices in my head. And as far as I know, I’m not schizophrenic. LOL!

Was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?
I started writing when I was twelve or so. I loved books and read everything I could get my greedy little hands on. Unfortunately I showed my work to a friend of mine and she pooh-poohed it. I did some writing in high school, but my teacher said my work was, “trite.” Yes, it was a romance and she was a very intellectual person who didn’t respect any writing unless it was LIT-trah-ture. Again in my early thirties I started writing again, and it was one of those Rosemary Rogers type romances. Still I hated typing and retyping on my old Smith-Corona portable typewriter. Finally came the computer age and I jumped on the bandwagon and started writing. I haven’t looked back.

What do you love about being an author?
I love working from home and making the characters in my head live, breathe and love.

Is there anything you dislike about being an author?

How do you balance your personal and writing time?
I don’t really try for a balance. I find time once a month to meet with other writers at our local romance writers’ chapter meeting. The more difficult balancing act is balancing writing time with promoting my work on the various chat loops, etc.

How do you write?
I’m a hybrid. I started out being a seat of the pants writer. I’ve morphed into more of a plotter than I was earlier, but I’ll never attempt to outline a book—no fun whatsoever. Do your characters come to you first or the plot or the world of the story? Most of the time it’s the characters. When I decide to work on a story idea, I do an interview so that they can tell me who they are and what they like. I begin to pick up clues about their goals, motivations and conflicts which will in turn drive the story and the story world.

What genre(s) do you write?
I write romantic suspense. Why do you write the stories that you write? My two favorite genres are romance and mystery, and writing romantic suspense allows me the opportunity to blend the two.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
Most of the time, they are totally from my imagination. I start with an image—quite often male and female soap stars, but once I start writing the characters usually evolve and take on a life of their own.

Out of all the characters that you've written, who is your favorite and why?
That’s so difficult to decide. Sheriff Rilla Devane from TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE is one of my favorites because she’s nothing like me. She can kick ass and doesn’t take any BS from anyone. She’s tough and in charge, but a real woman when it comes to falling in love. The other one I have to mention is Randi Raines from LOVE ON THE RUN. She was my first heroine to see print. She was much more like me twenty years ago—afraid to fly, a mother who would do anything for her young son, but finally risked her heart and gave it to a yummy Scotland Yard detective. I love my detectives—all of them.

What would you want readers to take away from your books?
The rabid desire to go and buy up all my back list. Other than that, I’d like to know they took away the satisfaction of having read a well-written story and sorry it ended. I’d like them go away and feel something of the heart I’ve infused into the story.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers in regards to writing a book?
Don’t give up. Write consistently. Learn to take constructive criticism. Connect with a solid writing group. Romance Writers of America is absolutely the best organization for wannabe writers.

What are you reading right now?
I just finished FUNERAL IN BLUE by Anne Perry. Have to head back to the book case to see what I haven’t read.

If you could be anyone or anything that you wanted, who or what would you be?
LOL! I’d be an author who didn’t give up writing for something like twenty years before delving into it again.


"Too Good to be True is a very enjoyable story with a lot of twists and turns along the way. The heat between Rilla and Mac is sizzling..."
Reviewer: Tanya at Joyfully Reviewed

"Too Good to be True by Marie-Nicole Ryan is a gripping, edge-of-your-seat tale filled with smart, fast-talking characters."
Reviewer: Kay James at Romance Readers at Heart

"On the whole, the story was intriguing and an entertaining read."
Reviewer: Rista Tompkins at The Romance Readers Connection

Too Good to be True by Marie-Nicole Ryan
ISBN: 1-59998-460-1
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Electronic Release: March 20, 2007,
Print Release: September 18, 2007
$5.50 from My Bookstore and More

Purchase Too Good to be True by Marie-Nicole Ryan HERE!!

posted by Rachelle
at 4:47 PM


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

No Greater Loss by Diane Craver


Diane CraverAs the youngest in the family growing up on a farm outside of Findlay, Ohio, Diane Craver often acted out characters from her own stories in the backyard. In high school she was the student sitting in class with a novel hidden in front of her propped up textbook. Her passion for reading novels had to be put on hold during her college years at Ohio State University with working part-time on campus and being a full-time student. Before embarking on her writing career, she was a school teacher and play director.

After watching the original movie, Cheaper by the Dozen, young Diane decided then and there, she someday wanted a large family. By the time she married Tom, the love of her life, she decided maybe six children was a better number than twelve. She enjoys her life in southwestern Ohio with her husband and six children. Two daughters, Christina and April, live away from home with successful careers. Another two children, Bartholomew and Emily, are attending college. Life is never boring with two daughters, Sara and Amanda, born with Down syndrome living at home. Diane’s husband of thirty-one years is very supportive of her writing career, as well as her awesome children.

Diane writes emotional reads that touch your heart. To learn more about Diane and her books, please visit and her blog:



Can a new love heal a wounded heart?

Dr. Jennifer Hunter is so stunned by her past that she's unable to move on with her life. After losing her young husband and baby son fifteen years ago she's determined never to marry again. Losing loved ones is just too painful.

A friend introduces Jennifer to Luke Brunsman and suggests she hire him to renovate her antique farmhouse. Instantly attracted to Luke, she refuses the widowed contractor's help. But after she gets injured working on a fireplace, she gives in.

Luke clearly wants more than a business relationship, and Jennifer guards her heart. His kisses make her yearn for a future once denied her. Luke falls in love with her but finds tearing down the walls in Jennifer's house is easier than breaking through her protective shell.

When Dr. Hunter's radio talk show catches the attention of a vengeful arsonist, Luke and Jennifer must overcome the shadows of the past and find the courage to love again.


She smelled oil.

She opened her eyes for a second, trying to remember what woke her. It was such a nice dream. She wanted to dream again about her handsome husband and adorable baby. She drifted back to sleep.

Jennifer looked down to see why Christopher had stopped nursing. “Look at this baby smiling.”

“Hey, he’s a smart boy and knows he’d better grin at the lady who has the two No Greater Loss by Diane Craverdelicious jugs of milk.” Brad laughed as he looked at his son. “I need to see my mother before she flies home. I thought I’d go see her and my great-aunt tonight.”

“Tell your mom I hope her cold’s better.”

“I might be a little late. I’ll take the cycle in case you need the car.” He bent down and kissed Christopher and Jennifer. His eyes filled with deep tenderness, and he said, “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Jennifer and Brad kissed passionately.

She squirmed under the covers, shifting to her side, and threw her arm on top of the bedspread.

Brad roared off into the rainy night on his motorcycle with his hair blowing in the wind.

“Jennifer,” he screamed when he crossed the center line and hit the oncoming car.

“Jennifer, wake up.” Luke shook her, trying to get her to respond.

She opened her eyes, surprised to see him. “What’s wrong?”

“You overslept for one thing, but I smell oil. I’m going to go outside and check the oil line.”

She sat up. “I guess I forgot to set my alarm last night. I thought in my dream I smelled smoke. I remember vaguely that I woke up, but I must have gone back to sleep.”

“Must have been some dream.”

“Luke, thanks.”

“Anytime, ma’am. Brunsman Construction gives twenty-four hour service.” He headed for the door, but turned to look at her again. “I did knock, but when you didn’t answer, I used the key you gave me.”

“That’s good.” She’d given him a key last night since he wanted to get started on her house as soon as possible.

While he checked the outdoor oil tank and line, she took a quick shower. As she stepped out of the stall, she grabbed a towel. Why had she forgotten to check her clock last night? Waking up to Luke in her bedroom had been a shock. Dressing in a pair of black pants, red pullover top and black jacket, she decided breakfast would have to wait. She couldn’t believe she’d forgotten to set her alarm.

Downstairs in the bathroom, she was putting the finishing touches on her hair when she heard Luke say, “The oil line froze. I guess from the freezing rain and cold temperatures. There’s special antifreeze you can add to the oil in cold weather.”

She walked into the living room carrying her briefcase. “I wish there was enough space to install the tank in the cellar.”

“The tank could be buried underground.” He smiled and winked. “Ready, Sleeping Beauty?”

Jennifer nodded, noticing that he seemed very pleased with himself…like he knew something she didn’t. She wondered if he’d woken her with a kiss. Surely she would realize it if he had. She remembered kissing Brad in her dream, but when she opened her eyes, Luke’s face was close to hers. If he had kissed her, she knew one thing for sure—it was a lover’s kiss. No doubt about the type. Her anxiety level rose. They were just friends, not lovers. Then why did she remember enjoying the kiss?

Once in the car and driving on State Route 50, she asked Luke to stop at Harry’s Market. On Mondays, Harry’s wife, Donna, baked blueberry muffins and cinnamon rolls.

When they opened the store door, the aroma of freshly baked goods and coffee was in the air. Luke went instantly to the coffeepot.

“Good morning, Harry. It smells wonderful in here,” Jennifer said.

“Where have you been all weekend?” Harry demanded.

“Did you miss me?”

“Yeah, I saved a DVD for you that I knew you wanted to see. You usually stop in on Saturday night.”

She held up her bandaged hand. “I cut my hand when I tried to open the fireplace. Luke came to my rescue and took me to the hospital. I had to get stitches.”

Harry glanced at Luke carrying two cups of coffee and said, “I guess I gave you good directions to Jennifer’s house.”

Luke set the coffee on the counter. “It only takes me six minutes to drive to her house.” With a bright smile, he said, “Jennifer even let me cook her dinner at my place Saturday night, and yesterday she rooted for the Wolfhounds with some powerful whistling.”

Harry crossed his arms. “Glad you weren’t living like an old lady for once.”

She put her hand on her hip. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Holed up in that old house every weekend all by yourself just isn’t healthy. Shoot, senior citizens have more fun than you.”

“Harry, you’re one to talk. You practically live in this store. You never get out.”

“That’s different.” He took a deep breath and clasped her hand. “Doc, you’re a great psychologist but you need to have your own personal life, too. I think you live too much by your head and not your heart. I’m just telling you because I love you like a daughter.”

“You’re an interfering man, Harry Jones, but you have the biggest heart in the world and I know what you’re saying. Sometimes you do what you need to do to survive in life. And giving totally to my patients is what I have to do.” She leaned over the counter and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “And I love you, too.”

Luke and Jennifer munched on muffins as they drove through the small town of Newtown on the way to Cincinnati. He glanced at Jennifer for a second. “It’s great having company while I drive to work.”

She chewed on her lip. Was it a good time to mention his kiss? Or should she ignore what had happened in her bedroom.

After a few minutes of silence, Luke glanced at Jennifer. “What’s wrong?”

She didn’t answer. Should she ask him?

“Don’t tell me you’ve changed your mind about me doing the remodeling.”

“Of course not. You’re the man I want for the job.” She folded her muffin wrapper and pressed it with her fingers before throwing it in a bag. “Before you woke me this morning, did you kiss me? And I don’t mean a little peck on the cheek type of kiss.”

Luke ignored the question.

Keeping her eyes on him, she asked again, “Did you kiss me this morning?”

He turned into the parking lot behind her office building and gave her a direct look. “Guilty on both counts.”

“Both counts?”

“I kissed you and it was definitely not a brotherly kiss.” He grinned. “Enjoyable is how I’d describe it.”

Jennifer clenched her fists in her lap. “Luke, I need to keep our relationship strictly on a friendly business basis.”

“If I kiss you, I cross the line of a business working relationship.” He gently held her hand. “If I hold your hand, do I also cross the line?”

“I just know kissing makes me uncomfortable.”

“Are hugs acceptable?”

“Kissing, touching, and et cetera leads to deeper feelings…more intimacy.” The warmth of his hand soaked into her skin, but she didn’t want to pull away.

“You kissed me back.”

“I thought I was kissing Brad. In my dream we kissed, he left on his cycle, and he called my name before he crashed. I think he actually did call my name before he died. I woke close to two a.m. and heard him calling me.” She closed her eyes for a second, remembering. “I learned later that was around the time the car hit him.”

“I’m sorry.” Luke squeezed her hand. “At least you know his last thought was of you.”

She was quiet. She’d always wondered if, in his final moments, Brad might have been depressed about all the surgeries Christopher would require. Brad hadn’t liked to be around ill people, and he’d been worried about Christopher suffering. Her head felt heavy so she rubbed her forehead. After several seconds, she glanced at Luke and unfastened her seat belt. “I better go.”

“I’d like to see your office.”

“Sure.” She grabbed her briefcase, wanting to ask him something but afraid to.

He ran his fingers through his hair. “Okay, Doc. I can tell by your face, you want to say something else.”

“Why did you kiss me?”

“It’s the appropriate way to wake up a Sleeping Beauty.”

His answer didn’t relieve her anxiety. “I know you’re grieving, and I thought maybe you were remembering Cassie.”

He brushed his index finger across her bottom lip. “I wasn’t thinking of Cassie when I kissed you.”

She exhaled a deep breath and decided to get off the kissing topic. “Come on. I’ll show you my office.”


Why did you become a writer?
I’ve always loved to write and I’m definitely the happiest when I write. Even when a pesky character and parts of the story line give me a rough time, I still enjoy creating a new book. Also a writing career gives me the flexibility I need in meeting my family’s needs.

Was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?
Ever since I was small, I’ve enjoyed writing. When I was in junior high, I wrote a few stories for fun and also wrote poetry. In high school, I was yearbook editor my senior year. Then in college my roommate and I started writing about our adventures, but we never finished the book. After I married and started a family, I no longer taught full-time. I began writing nonfiction when our oldest daughter was a toddler. I had several magazine articles published by the time I wrote a special needs book since we were blessed with two daughters born with Down syndrome. I also wrote a “creative nonfiction” book, The Christmas of 1957, which is about how a little girl’s faith helps her father in overcoming a disability. It’s based on a true event from my childhood. Around 1995, I attended a romance writing conference in Cincinnati and it was sponsored by the Ohio Valley Romance Writers. I met many published authors and their enthusiasm was contagious. I decided to start writing fiction. I loved it but I got off to a slow start with six children at home.

What do you love about being an author? Is there anything you dislike?
I love being published. When I received three contracts close together for my inspirational romance, chick-lit mystery and mainstream, it was an answer to my prayer that someday I’d get published. And of course, I love the freedom writing gives me and that I can work at home instead of having to drive to work daily. Another cool thing about being an author is getting to research the careers of my characters.

I dislike waiting until December to receive my first royalty check from my print sales. I keep wondering how I’m doing as a newly published fiction writer.

How do you balance your personal and writing time?
I’ve tried writing so many words a day as a goal but I’m having more success thinking in terms of pages and chapters.

I don’t feel like I have very much personal time because I’ve had three books releasing so close together. I feel like I’m in front of the computer all the time with editing, doing online chats, writing entries for my blog, and mailing out promo items. Then there’s housework, laundry and so many other things to do. I did start a new book this spring. I don’t have a title yet and it’s about three sisters. While writing this book, I’m taking breaks to do other things. I like to walk, go for a bike ride with my daughter Amanda, swim with my daughters and son, watch movies, or read.

How do you write? Do your characters come to you first or the plot or the world of the story?
I think of the character first with an interesting conflict. For a few days dialogue, scenes, setting and characters parade across my mind before I write anything down. When I start writing, I put the big scenes down before even starting the first few pages. My characters tend to take over so I don’t make a detailed outline.

What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
I write inspirational romance, chick-lit mystery and mainstream.

I like to write wholesome books that are emotional reads filled with love and humor. Also my books are written with an inspirational quality. I like to integrate family into my romantic plots.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
I use some real-life situations for my characters but definitely also use imagination to mold them into unique people. An exception is in A Fiery Secret. The main character, Catherine Steel, is a feisty investigative reporter and is based loosely on my daughter Christina. A secondary character, Miranda, was inspired by my daughter Amanda. She is a vivacious seventeen-year-old and brings great joy to our family. By the way, Amanda was born with Down syndrome. I think it’s important to show people with disabilities in a positive light. The character Miranda also has Down syndrome, works in a coffeehouse and has a boyfriend.

Out of all the characters that you've written, who is your favorite and why?
That’s a tough question because I like several of them a lot. But Kimberly Collins is one of my favorite characters I’ve written. She’s a fashion buyer in my mainstream, Never the Same and in the beginning she is such a workaholic and makes detailed daily plans. Her whole life changes when she survives a plane crash. Before the plane crashes and death is a real possibility, Kim realizes what really matters in life.

What would you want readers to take away from your books?
I’d like them to fall in love with my characters and to enjoy living in their world while reading about them. And hopefully, get something personal out of my books that will make their lives richer.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers in regards to writing a book?
Follow your heart and believe in yourself!

You have to be persistent and develop a thick skin when it comes to rejections. Remember this is a subjective business so don’t get discouraged. I’d suggest finishing your book before querying publishers and agents. I had half of a novel done when I queried an agent and expected her to ask for a partial first which would give me plenty of time to finish it. Instead, I heard immediately from her and she requested the whole manuscript. It was very stressful trying to finish it and get it to her as quickly as possible. When you are established as a published author, you will be able to submit a partial manuscript to your agent or editor before completing it.

What are you reading right now?
Mary Jane Clark’s suspense novel, When Day Breaks

If you could be anyone or anything that you wanted, who or what would you be?
I can’t think of anyone I’d really like to be, but I’d definitely like to be thinner. LOL I’m trying to lose weight again so I guess that’s on my mind. I’d like to be better at sports. I’m the person playing volleyball who can’t get the blasted ball over the net. Fortunately, my children don’t take after me and are athletic.


5 hearts: Ms. Diane Craver presents a fascinating story about a couple who have secrets needing to be revealed, a passion that needs to be explored, and an incredible ending that is not expected. The end result may be anticipated, but the myriad of circumstances which the couple encounter, together and alone, just adds to the incredibility of this couple finding each other. I heartedly recommend this book to anyone. Don’t allow the “inspirational” category to mark this off your list; there is plenty of loving interaction to hold your interest! This is definitely a keeper!”
- Reviewer: Brenda Talley, June 18, 2007

4 cups: “This is a wonderful inspirational tale that manages to get the message across without getting too sentimental. There is a very good romance here with elements of suspense. The characters are very real and the reader will get to know them well as the book progresses… This one is definitely worth reading.”
Maura, Coffee Time Romance

No Greater Loss by Diane Craver
ISBN: 1-59998-393-1
Genre: Inspirational Romance
Publication Date: February 20, 2007
$12.32 from Amazon

Purchase "No Greater Loss" by Diane Craver HERE!!

posted by Rachelle
at 5:26 PM