Welcome everyone!  It's Fantasy Friday and I hope your Thanksgiving went wonderfully.  Gearing up for the holidays?  Consider adding this new book to your shopping list!  It sounds SUPER -- and the cover is just so very compelling!

Prophecy Foretold

An accident made him a savior.  Now Daniel Marten struggles to find himself and a way home while the armies of Naphthali battle to control him.

These are dark days for Naphthali.  The king has been murdered, the land invaded by the Imperial Army.  It will absorb Naphthali into an Empire that stretches across all of Enialé at any cost.  The ravaged people cling to an ancient promise, an assurance that a Prophesied savior will come to set them free…Daniel Martin is trapped in a life that hasn’t gone as expected.  His pharmacy is struggling and he is losing all hope of making a difference in his patients’ lives.  His family is the one shining light in his disenchanted life, but he is torn from them when an accident draws him to Naphthali.  The people need him but Daniel is driven by his need to return to the family he loves.  Is he the Prophesied One?  Only time will tell as both the Empire and the Resistance battle for Daniel while the fate of Naphthali hangs in the balance…

I asked Ron what internal issues does his hero have to confront and overcome.  Here's what he had to say: 

What a great question!  In The Prophecy Chronicles: Prophecy Foretold, Daniel Marten has several issues he has to overcome, the first of which is, “who is Daniel Marten?”  At the beginning of the story Daniel is in a car accident and is transported to another world.  When he comes to he remembers his name…but that’s about it.  Over time his memory slowly comes back, but while he is struggling to recall he gets swept up in a rebellion that rages across the country of Naphthali.  

While Daniel is pulled along across the war-torn country he is forced to face the fact that life in our modern society has left him woefully unprepared for the rigors before him.  He has no survival or martial skills, and any sense of control he’d had over his old life is stripped away as he is forced to rely on strangers for everything.  His helplessness imprisons him more surely than shackles as he struggles with feelings of worthlessness, the words of his earliest nemesis echoing in his mind: “What good are you?”

Local Naphthalians and the invading Empire alike recognize him for a prophesied savior and try to make him fit that mold, but with Daniel’s internal struggles he is powerless to stop them.  To make matters worse, as his adventures become ever more dire, allies sacrifice themselves for their faith in him.  Their need and his guilt nearly destroy him.

Does Daniel overcome these struggles?  Well, I don’t want to give too much away, but he does remember his family…which only adds more guilt and feelings that he abandoned them.  He faces down some of his demons, but guilt dogs him throughout his adventures, not only in Prophecy Foretold, but also in the next two installments to follow.

He was a savior by accident.  Only time will tell if he fulfills the prophecy or throws everything away in a bid to go home.

Again, I say, it sounds really fascinating.  I have definitely added this one to my reading list, and I suggest you all do as well!

Let's take a closer look:


Gelnar wiped his blade clean on the man's breeches as he calmly looked around the farm. When he was done, he turned to his men and said, "Take her." The men gave a loud cheer and bounded from their saddles as the sergeant rushed forward and kicked the head from the woman's hands. He forced her to her feet as she finally realized what was going to happen. She screamed and tried to pull away. 
Daniel felt hot fear in the pit of his stomach, but overriding that was an even hotter rage that he didn't know he possessed. He jumped from Blue Belle and pushed his way through the men, throwing his shoulder into the unsuspecting sergeant and knocking him to the ground. He looked into the woman's face and didn't realize until later that despite the horror surrounding her, she recognized him. He spun and pushed her behind him as her husband had done, looking at the hate-filled faces of the men.
Gelnar watched Daniel's charge with a slight smile on his face, and he laid a restraining hand on the sergeant's shoulder as he lurched to his feet. Daniel locked eyes with him and said, "Don't do this. You know it's wrong."
Gelnar's eyes narrowed and his jaws clenched before he finally chuckled and turned to the men. "Well now, the cunny's found his voice! And I thought he only had eyes for the goatherd." The insult thrown at Carmody was met with silence as everyone kept steely gazes on Daniel, murder in their eyes. Gelnar turned back to him and continued, "You presume much, but I am a…forgiving captain. You may have a turn with her, but you've hardly earned the Right of Firsts. I will allow you time…before she's done."
Daniel returned Gelnar's glare and shook his head. "Don't do this."


Ron will be awarding signed cover flats for each tour stop and a $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

Follow the tour -- the more you comment, the better your chances of winning!!  Complete dates can be found here:

About the Author:

Ron Hartman has had a life-long passion for the written word and is an avid reader.  The Prophecy Chronicles are his first written works.  Ron graduated from the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy in 2000 and lives in Ottumwa, Iowa with his wife and three children.

Learn More About Prophecy Foretold

A Goddess Fish Promotions Guest


Labels: , ,

Good morning, everyone!  Please welcome Laura Hawks to the blog today!  She's going to tell us about her new book, Demon Kiss -- which I thought sounded really intriguing!  And she sat down for an interview as well, to give us some more insight to her characters, the novel, and herself as well.

Grab your morning coffee and enjoy!

Demon Kiss
Paranormal Romance

When her family was murdered, Clarissa found her life altered. As the new guardian for a very powerful gem that could change the very fate of the Earth and its inhabitants should it be lost, she willingly accepted the responsibilities to keep it safe.

A demon named Xon was after the abilities the gem would afford him should he get his hands on it.

Azamel protected the world from demon kind. A demon himself, he was appointed judge and if need be, executioner to protect the various races that roamed the Earth. Now he had to hunt Xon and prevent him from obtaining a stone that could give him the edge he would need to rule, but to do this Azamel would have to work with a young wolf who had a chip on her shoulder. Could he succeed in time to save both of them... before it was too late? Or would Clarissa's mistrust doom them all?

Available At:  Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble


So, Laura, briefly take us on the journey with you – when did you start writing, did you start in the genre you’re published in now, what hurdles did you have to overcome, etc.

L.H.  I actually went to college to get a master’s degree in US History, Ancient Civilizations and Native American History. I achieved these in 2007. I had planned on writing Native American history books and had even started some research. During this time, I also was starting up a role playing game on Facebook based off of a series of books. This outlet really gave me a chance to expand my imagination as well as practice my writing skills. While working out of town, I was on a train to Agawa Canyon in Ontario, Canada. It was a rainy day and few people left the train, but I have been there so often and enjoy the lush forestry as well as the peacefulness of the area, I headed out to hike the trails.

Something clicked while on that walk. I had started thinking of a story for my role playing group, and realized it would make a better novel. I think I wrote the first three chapters in my head just walking on those trails. When I returned to the train, I sat down and wrote them out. I guess you could say, I have been really writing since. I realized during that walk, I could do Native American History, Mythology and add a good dose of fiction to it as a whole. This is the realm of where I would like to see my future books go.

My biggest hurdle, I feel is this whole industry. I sometimes feel like I am blind walking around feeling my way with everything since there is so much about this business I do not know or understand. I am still learning and am thankful to my publisher for her immense understanding and guidance in this new venture. I know in time, it will be old hat and I can just focus on my stories, but in the meantime having that guiding hand is always a great assistance.

Obviously you write in the paranormal romance genre.  Is that your favorite genre to read?  Do you write in any other genres, or under any other pen names you’d like to share?

L.H.  I really like Paranormal Romance, both to read and obviously to write. As I am a new author, I have not had a chance to explore other genre’s but will consider it at a future time. Therefore, I have no other pen names to share.

However, as to what I love to read, it really depends on my current mood. I still enjoy history books, horror, science fiction, mysteries, true crime and short stories by O’Henry; but I admit, paranormal romance, of late, has captured my foremost attention.

Of the books you have published, do you have a favorite?  If so, which one and why?

L.H.  (I laugh) Yeah.. Demon’s Kiss.. cause it is the only one I have published as a novel thus far. I do have a story published in the anthology, Fairly Freaky Fairytales... my contribution is Snow White and the Seven Cannibals. I admit I am partial to that one as well, since the Prince is based off of a real life friend.

What are your published titles and please tell us about anything coming down the pipe next.

L.H.  Published, I have Demon’s Kiss and a story in the anthology Fairly Freaky Fairytales, the specific story is Snow White and the Seven Cannibals.

I am currently working on a sequel to Demon’s Kiss called Demon’s Dream and the story that I wrote as a result of the walk in Agawa Canyon will be completed shortly. Working title for that is Hope Eternal.

Let's talk a bit about Demon Kiss.  Tell me about your plot development?  How did the idea spur, did you have to do much research, any interesting tidbits that we should know?

L.H.  My plot revolves around the Gem of Avarice... a stone that has been protected for eons by one family. Its an idea I have been playing with for a couple of years and in truth, no longer remember where the idea stemmed from. When I had the opportunity to write a story, the Gem was what sprung to mind. I did not do much research for this book, other than in looking at the Native American Myth of Wendigos. I do readily admit that this story was a result of consulting with a very dear friend about some of the logistics of the male psyche. He was very willing to help give me the male perspective on occasion and we had a great time discussing ideas. I am forever grateful for his assistance.

Every romance has a swoon-worthy hero. Let’s talk about yours.  What’s one thing about your hero that we wouldn’t necessarily learn in the book?  A secret dream, an embarrassing habit, an episode from childhood.

L.H.  Realized from the book, one will discover that he has kept himself isolated from any personal connection. In the sequel, you will find out why... but I will say he was really hurt and betrayed by those he thought he loved and trusted. His secret dream to find someone who can love his demon half that he could really, truly trust.

All heroes are unforgettable in one way or another.  What’s one thing about your hero that makes your heart go pitter-pat?

L.H.  For me, it is that he is finding his heart opening up again after eons of being alone and the innocence he portrays as realization dawns on him that he is caring for another. Physically, its those cold blue eyes that peer into one’s very soul.

If your hero doesn’t have a pet in your novel, what kind of pet would best suit his personality.

L.H.  Hmmm, that is a tough question. Do Dragon’s count?

On this blog -- ABSOLUTELY!

Changing gears a bit, how about your heroine?  Everybody has flaws.  Sometimes they are endearing, other times they are annoying.  What is your heroine’s greatest fault?

L.H. She blames herself for words that can never be retracted. How many times have we heard the saying, don’t say anything you might regret because you might never have the chance to take it back or make things right. You will learn in the sequel that she made this mistake and will carry that burden with her forever

Without giving away details that might spoil the story for those who have not read it, could you tell us the one strength your heroine provides to your hero?

L.H.  Her compassion.

If your heroine was your daughter – what advice would you give her upon meeting your hero?

L.H.  She has a hard time trusting... and for good reason. My advice would be to go with your heart and gut not your mind.

If we peek in on your hero and heroine’s lives ten years from now, can you give us a glimpse of what we’d see?

L.H.  Yes. Read the sequel to find out *Smiles*

Nice answer!  Very well done -- grin.

Let's go back to you, the mind behind everything for a little bit.  As a writer, what is your greatest strength?

L.H.  Coming up with ideas for stories

What do you find most difficult about your job as an author? 

L.H.  Finding the time to really sit down and write.

What has surprised you the most about being a published author?

L.H.  Everything. Its really a whole new world, but I am still surprised people like to read and LIKE my book. It is validating.

In your opinion, what is the hardest part of writing a novel? Why?

L.H.  The original thought and coming up with a title. I am horrible at naming things.

Okie dokie, Laura.  Thank you so much for stopping in today.  Readers -- check out Demon Kiss, I'm really liking the sound of this one.

About The Author:  
I have always been interested in writing in some form or other. A few years back, I was involved with and then ran a Star Trek Interactive Writing Group which was successful for a number of years. Yes, I am a trekker and proud of it.

Then a few years back, I got my Master's Degree in Ancient Civilizations, Native American History and United States History.

It was at this time I got involved in role playing on FaceBook, which gave me ample opportunities to grow and hone my writing ability.

A published friend encouraged me to write my own book, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Stay in touch with Laura via:  Facebook  |   Laura's Website


Labels: , ,

The editor is back this week!

Last week we talked a little about passive writing.  Today I want to expand on that with intruders, or intruder words.

Intruders do exactly what they imply -- they intrude on the reader.  This can also be classified as author intrusion, in some respects, though I tend to group that separately.

Let's start out with some intruder examples:

"He wondered what color her hair would be if she freed it from that floppy hat."
"He handed her the dress, and he knew she didn't like it by the way her face scrunched."
"He saw the dog run down the street, chasing the calico cat."

Other than they are a bit simplistic, these are perfectly correct sentences -- grammatically   Not so much when it comes to fiction writing.  All of them intrude on the author.

There's a whole bunch more than this, but the following words are common typical intruders:

Any word that resembles any in that list is most likely an intruder.  They weaken writing and turn it passive.

So how to fix?  Well, the reason these intrude is because nine times out of ten they occur when we are in the narrating characters point of view.  If the character knows, then we don't need to be told he knows.  Simply stating it in a descriptive manner makes the writing more effective.  So let's look at fixing those three sentences:

"He wondered what color her hair would be if she freed it from that floppy hat."

Assuming we are in his point of view, this is written more actively by just stating the question:

"What color would her hair be if she freed it from that floppy hat?"  

If we are in his point of view, that becomes an internal thought that most likely would be italicized as well.


"He knew she didn't like the dress by the way her face scrunched."

This is a little more difficult to fix, but can be achieved by adding just a little more detail and dropping the 'he knew'.  The detail specifies the way her face scrunched.

"He handed her the dress, and her face scrunched like she'd eaten a rotten egg."


"He saw the dog run down the street, chasing the calico cat."

Again, we're in his point of view and we are seeing what he is seeing.  We don't need to be told he sees something... just show us what we're seeing.  Case in point:

"The dog ran down down the street, chasing the calico cat."

In Sum:

By omitting intruders writing becomes more active and often more engaging.  In some cases it can become more descriptive as well, which further improves story-telling.

See you next week!

Publishing a book?  Check out Finish The Story for quality editing!


Labels: , , , ,

Good morning everyone!  We're back with Josh and Amanda and my Christmas release, All I Want for Christmas...Is Big Blue Eyes

All I Want for Christmas...Is Big Blue Eyes
Amazon Barnes and Noble | Kobo

Some dreams were never meant to be... 

Renowned architect, Josh McDaniels, spent ten years avoiding his hometown and the unforgettable memories of his youth. But when a former classmate phones him before Christmas with a proposal he can’t refuse, he finds himself back in small-town, Lexington, Missouri, surrounded by holiday festivities and engulfed in memories of a blue-eyed girl. 

Amanda Masterson knows three things about Josh. She loves him, he loves her, and he’ll walk out when those feelings terrify him, as he always does. Ten years ago, he abandoned their dreams. Eight years ago, he returned to break her heart again. Now, he’s back once more, and this time, he’s jeopardizing not only her heart but her daughter’s as well. 

Can the spirit of Christmas overcome a past riddled with mistakes? Or will fears and doubts destroy the greatest gift of all?



“Uncle Lucas!”

The childish cry of delight pierced through house, all the way up two flights of stairs, and brought an immediate smile to Amanda Masterson’s face. As the front door shut, the window over her desk rattled with the change in pressure. One of the many faults of her aging home.

She yanked her sweater down over her head and reached for her jeans.

“‘Manda?” Lucas bellowed.

“Up here, be down in a minute.” As she hollered back, she tugged her jeans up over her hips and buttoned the fly.

“Mommy, hur-ry,” Emma pleaded at the top of her lungs.

The rest would have to wait. When five-year-olds called, they didn’t give two hoots about hair and makeup. She’d heard that tone too many times to think Emma’s patience would last much longer. Chuckling, Amanda bounded down the stairs.

Rounding the corner of her formal dining room and into what was once the ladies’ sitting room, she found Emma already in her boots. Misbuttoned, her heavy winter coat hung about her lopsidedly, evidence she’d tried to dress herself.

As Lucas attempted to hold the squirming child still to fix her crooked state, Amanda grinned at him. “Morning, handsome.”

“Mornin’, yourself.”

“Uncle Lucas,” Emma protested as she tugged on his hand. “Don’t talk to Mommy. I’ve been waiting all morning. Let’s go get our tree. Santa won’t come if we don’t have a tree.”

“Emma, be nice. Lucas won’t take you anywhere if you act that way.” Although Amanda scolded, her smile didn’t falter. She couldn’t blame Emma for being excited. Already December nineteenth, and she’d shown amazing patience about not having a Christmas tree when all her friends did. It would have been different. They’d have put one up Thanksgiving afternoon if Amanda could have found the extra money somewhere. It took Lucas two weeks to convince her to accept his generosity. Generosity that felt, uncomfortably, like charity.

“Thank you, Lucas. She’s been waiting all morning.”

Understanding her reference, he merely gave her a smile and a nod as he stood up.

Emma sulked, let out a dramatic sigh, and leaned against the door, bouncing the back of her rubber boot on it. When Amanda gave her a sharp look of reprimand, her foot stilled. Her bored expression, however, didn’t change.

Lucas greeted Amanda with a tight hug. “Sorry I’m late. I got sidetracked by the phone. Wanna guess who called?”

“Your mother, panicking over where her fresh greens are for tomorrow night. I told her I’d have them there tomorrow afternoon. She probably also gave you the third degree about whether I really meant it when I offered to help hostess.”

With a smirk, Lucas shook his head. “No.” He paused, a thoughtful look pulling at his dark eyebrows. “Well, yeah, you’re right partly. She did phone, but that was first thing this mornin’. And yeah, she was panickin’. I smoothed that over. But I think you might wanna reconsider the hostessing.”

“Think I can’t handle shaking the hands of Lexington’s finest?” Amanda asked, laughing.

As Lucas’ frown deepened, his expression took on an air concerned, uncharacteristic seriousness. Her chuckles faded away.

“Josh called.”

She drew back, her eyes widening. “Josh? What did he want?”

“He’s comin’ into town. You know Mom won’t let him miss her party.”

A shiver rolled down her spine. It settled in her stomach, clamping it tight. Josh. Back in Lexington. Why?

“He’ll be there?” To her ears, her voice sounded shaky.

It must have to Lucas too, for he hurried to remedy the situation. “Really, you can back out. Mom’ll understand.”

Amanda frowned. Eight years ago, she’d decided she would never again speak to Josh McDaniels. Fate, however, seemed intent on throwing him in her path just as she began to forget the last time he came around. If she stayed home, there’d be no chance of running in to him. Safe. Protected. Nowhere near his mesmerizing green eyes.

A coward’s reaction. She was braver than that.

She shook her head vigorously. “I won’t hide. If he’s going to be there, I’ll be certain to look extra nice so he can choke on regret.” With a teasing grin and a flirtatious bat of her eyes, she asked, “You’ll keep me safe, won’t you?”

“‘Course, darlin’.”

“Okay you two, go on. Go pick us out the prettiest tree ever.”

Emma bolted upright, fastening her hand around Lucas’ to drag him out the door.

Lucas halted and lifted his eyebrows at her. “What do you say, Emma?”

Rolling her eyes, Emma faced to Amanda. “I love you, Mommy.”

“Love you too, sweetheart.”

Amanda eased the door shut behind the pair and leaned against it. She took a deep breath, but it didn’t help. Her hands still trembled against her thighs. Her legs felt weak. Josh. Back again.

Why couldn’t he just stay away? Let her live her life? Forget Lexington like he made it clear he wanted.
Damn it. She didn’t need this now. With everything else going wrong this year, she couldn’t handle Josh’s sudden decision to drop in out of the blue for a hometown holiday. Where the hell did he get off suddenly deciding to come back and stir up everyone’s lives again? She had better things to do, more important things to think about.

She shoved away from the door and stalked across the dining room to her kitchen. Flinging open the cupboard nearest the stove, she pulled down the flour, sugar, and three boxes of brownie mix.

More important things like bake walnut brownies, four one-pound tins of peanut brittle, and four trays of peppermint bark for Mae’s Christmas party tomorrow night.

Would Josh have cut his hair?

Amanda squeezed her eyes shut.

Focus. Baking, not Josh. You don’t give a rat’s ass about Josh McDaniels. Not anymore.

“Eggs,” she murmured as she went to the refrigerator. “No eggs.”

Glancing at the counter, she went through the cook times on her projects, gauging which to start first. The peppermint bark absolutely must be finished and stored before Emma came home. Otherwise, by tomorrow night there’d be less than half left.

The peanut brittle took the longest to cool. Emma would want to help break it up before they went down to the mall to see Santa after dinner. She should start it first. After Santa, she could stop by the store for eggs and make the brownies when Emma was asleep.

Nodding her head, agreeing with herself, she returned to the refrigerator for the packaged peanuts. As she opened the door, a box of Lindt bittersweet chocolate tumbled out, landing on her toe. She picked it up, set it on the shelf again, and paused.

Josh loved rum truffles.

Don’t you dare.

She pulled the box of chocolate back out, grabbed the peanuts, and went to the counter. If he said one inappropriate thing, she could throw them at him. One square between the eyes would certainly get her point across. He was not welcome here anymore.

With a mutter, she flipped open the recipe book and studied the page.

Oh, who was she fooling? It wasn’t like Josh would even give her a second look once he found out about Emma. Josh didn’t like kids. Never mind it had been Lucas who Josh called—not her. He’d made it clear years ago just how low on his list of priorities she fell. When he left Lexington, and their dreams, behind.

The lines on the recipe blurred as tears welled in her eyes. With a little sob, her shoulders shook. Dropping her elbows on the counter, she sank her head into her hands, and gave over to the heartache even precious Emma couldn’t heal.

She hated Christmas.


Lucas opened the door to Amanda’s house with one hand, supporting the thickest, biggest Christmas tree Emma could find on his shoulder. Snow still clung to its branches, dripping down his shirt collar and covering his ball cap. As he stepped inside, a clump tumbled to the floor. It quickly turned to watery slush. Holding the door open with his foot, he backed up and gave the tree a shake, dislodging most of the lingering snow.

The smell of peanuts and chocolate wafted to his nose, bringing a smile to his face. Amanda, despite her loathing of the holiday season, pulled out all the stops to make sure Emma never missed a moment of the magic of Christmas. Of all the holiday traditions, Amanda threw her heart into baking. And the things she created—they could bring a king to his knees.

She’d always had a knack for the kitchen. Even in high school, after Thursday night football practice, most of the team would go to her house for cookies. They’d all bring their girlfriends, camp out in front of Amanda’s television while she made them by the dozens, with Josh doing his fair share to eat the dough before she could cook it. As the weather got colder, her mom made sure they never went without cocoa either. Man, Christmas brought back memories.

“We’re home,” he called out.

Emma took off, racing through the house, her little feet pounding over Amanda’s polished wood floors. “Mommy, come see the tree!”

Strangely, Amanda didn’t answer.

Lucas frowned as he hauled the tree inside and propped it near the front door. “Emma, come back here. Get those boots off before you track water all over.”

“Where’s Mom?” She traipsed into the large front hall wearing a look of puzzlement.

“I’m sure she’s ’round here someplace.” He winked at her as he tugged off first one snow boot, then the other. He kicked off his own and set the two pairs on the grey-blue welcome mat. “Why don’t you go get those boxes we brought up from the basement yesterday and bring ‘em out here? They’re light enough you can carry ‘em. Set ‘em on the couch. Be careful.”

“Okie dokie.”

Emma vanished through a pair of inlaid glass French doors humming Jingle Bells.

He lifted his eyes to the stairs. The soft glow of light against the upper wall told him Amanda was in her room. Napping, if the variety of smells were any indication of what she’d been doing all afternoon. She’d wear herself out burning the candle at both ends, at this rate. His mother wasn’t helping either.

The stairs creaked with his weight as he mounted them. His feet echoed hollowly, marking his ascent, despite his socks. As he stepped onto the landing, he slid his hand along the polished mahogany banister. It wiggled. He’d have to fix that tomorrow. If Emma came barreling down the stairs and crashed into it, the damn thing would give.

Up another flight, he followed the light from Amanda’s open bedroom door. The only light on, it cast shadows throughout the dark-green hall and illuminated a floor-length mirror at the opposite end.

He poked his head in the door and chuckled. Stretched out on her belly, Amanda lay shirtless, passed out in her bed. The sweater she’d worn earlier was piled on the floor, globs of chocolate peeking out between the folds. Her hand hung off the bed, her fingers dangling over a black sweater as if it had tumbled free when she fell asleep.

He sat down on the edge of the mattress and bent over to kiss her cheek. “Rise and shine.”

She mumbled something, turned her head the other way, and snuggled deeper into her pillows. Her short blond hair draped over the side of her face, masking her features. The thin straps on her black bra stood out sharply against her creamy skin, and he let himself admire her for a moment.

Beautiful didn’t really describe her. She was pretty, extraordinarily elegant, and her petite build gave her a delicate quality. But what made her breathtaking was what lay on the inside. Her overly-large heart, the way she nearly always found a smile even in the worst of times, and her strength, amazed him.

Not so very long ago he’d considered asking her to marry him. They’d even tried pushing their friendship to the next level, dated a little, found some comfort in each others’ arms. But any thoughts he had of a taking things farther came to a screeching halt when, to both their humiliation, she whispered Josh’s name in the middle of sex. Dating ended immediately. While Lucas cared for Amanda, he finally understood she’d never get over self-centered Josh McDaniels.

A lesson Lucas should have learned when Amanda’s marriage fell apart shortly after she and Tyler Masterson said their vows. Something he should have picked up on while he was picking up the pieces of her shattered life. But he’d never been one to notice what was right beneath his nose.

Now, Lucas helped her raise Emma. Gave the little girl the father figure she needed and did what he could to make Amanda’s life easier.

He pulled on the back of her bra, snapping it.

Her head jerked up as she jumped.

“Wake up. We’re home with the tree and whatever you’ve cooked is makin’ my stomach growl.”

“Dinner!” she exclaimed as she sat up. “I forgot to get dinner started. I’ll go order a pizza.”

Like lightning, she bolted out of bed, jerked her sweater over her head, and fell to her knees to rummage under her bed. Likely for her thick, wool socks.

A piece of paper fluttered to the floor, catching Lucas’ attention. He picked it up and turned it over. Three pairs of eyes beamed back at him—his, Amanda’s, and Josh’s. They’d taken it on their camping trip to Yellowstone the summer after high school graduation. He closed his eyes with a sigh as something inside him twisted uncomfortably.

“Manda, look at me.”

“What?” Still on all fours, she lifted her head, along with her eyebrows.

He frowned as he noticed the stale trail of tears on her cheeks. Cooking hadn’t brought her up here. Josh had.

He tossed the picture back on her bed stand. “I don’t think you should go tomorrow night.”

“Don’t be silly. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. It’ll be nice to finally tell Josh to go to hell.”

Lucas would like to believe that would happen. He’d turn cartwheels to hear those words come out of her mouth. But his gut said differently. One way or another, smooth-talking Josh would do something to hurt her again. Twice hadn’t been enough, evidently.

Mom-my,” Emma bellowed impatiently from the bottom of the stairwell.

“Did you two find a tree?”

“Course we did. Think I’d come back empty-handed after the way she’s been carryin’ on about it all week?”

“Okay so that was a dumb question,” Amanda conceded. “Let’s get started on it. I gotta call in that pizza. What do you want?”

“Whatever you’re in the mood for.”

“I think Santa’s going to have to wait until Sunday. There’s no way I’ll get her up there tonight along with everything else I have left to do.”

As he stood up, Lucas flashed her a grin. “I already told her Santa would have to wait.”

“She didn’t scream and have a tantrum?”

His grin transformed into a deep laugh. “She knows better’n to try that with me.”

“You’re such a godsend, Luc. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

With a smile that stole his breath away, she vanished into the hall.  Her footsteps padded down the stairs. He followed more slowly, shaking his head at the whirlwind of unfaltering energy that was Amanda Masterson.

If Josh so much as disrupted a hair on her head this time, Lucas would be certain to give him the punch he’d held back for too many years.


Labels: , , , , , , , ,

It's time for another Sunday Six -- keeping with the holiday theme...  My very favorite book I've written.  A Broken Christmas.  It was a finalist for Best Contemporary in both the Golden Quill and the Reader's Crown Awards for 2012.

“You need to go,” he murmured. “Away from me. I’m a monster.”

The ache behind her ribs intensified, and Aimee leaned in close to press a soft kiss to his cheek. “No. I’m staying right here. Go back to sleep, it’s not yet five.”


A Broken Christmas
Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Delta Force operative Kyle Garland divorced his wife to protect her. His top-secret missions expose him to constant danger, and his world is full of lies and deceit. But the threat to Aimee doesn’t come in the form of insurgents or bombs. Rather, his soul-deep love and the dreams he silently nurtures are her greatest hazard. When a career-ending injury brings him home for Christmas, to keep her safe he must bury his feelings and hide the monster he’s become.

Fourteen months ago, Aimee had the perfect marriage… then Kyle blindsided her with a divorce. Now, he’s coming home, and she intends to get her answers. Yet the crippled man she confronts bears scars her years of nursing cannot heal. The secret he’s hiding is tearing him apart. No matter how she tries, he keeps her at a distance, despite the love that’s still evident in his kiss. What Aimee doesn’t know is her own damaged past terrifies Kyle more than any wartime horror.

As she forces him to confront his demons, will the holiday shred the fragile bonds they share, or will Christmas complete all their broken parts?


Labels: , , , , , ,

Good morning, everyone!  A while back, I mentioned I'd be starting a Writer Wednesday topic, and deadlines delayed that progress.  Today we're going to kick it off with a quick and easy way to detect passive writing.

I gave a presentation on editing at my local RWA chapter this weekend, and from some of the remarks in the room, I gather there's a lot of people who hear "Writing is passive", but they don't exactly know how to identify it or how to fix the problem.  This is, coincidentally, one of the things that I see predominantly in the work I freelance edit for Finish The Story.

Let me also add in that there are numerous ways writing can be passive.  This is one format, and one tip to fixing.  I'll address some others over my weekly topics.

So let's look:

"The moon was rising on the horizon, it's pale light a silver blanket on the field of wheat."
"The foxes were grouped together beneath the rock, and the eldest was sticking his tongue out at the youngest."

What's wrong with these sentences?  If you know, skip the lesson and go write some more words in that work in progress!

On the surface, they appear vivid, they're descriptive, and the grammatical structure is correct.  But both of these sentences are passive.  How so?

The "was" + "ing" combination.

Authors are told to stay away from was.  Yes, this is true, but it's impossible to write was.  The bigger issue comes with 'was' + 'ing' -- when it comes to passive writing.  (There are other ways 'was' negatively impacts writing.)

When you link was with an 'ing' verb, it automatically becomes passive.  The best fix for this is to replace that combination with the past tense.  Your sentence instantly becomes more active.

"The moon was rising rose on the horizon, it's pale light a silver blanket on the field of wheat."
"The foxes were grouped grouped together beneath the rock, and the eldest was sticking stuck his tongue out at the youngest."

It's a quick and easy way to scout through your first draft and improve writing. 

See you next week!

Self-publishing your novel?  Check out Finish the Story for discount editing packages.


Labels: , , ,

Good morning, readers!  It's that time of year again -- Thanksgiving is in two days!  And to kick off the heartwarming holidays, I've re-released All I Want for Christmas...Is Big Blue Eyes.

Please welcome Josh McDaniels and Amanda Masterson -- two of my very favorite characters.  They'll make a couple appearances on the blog as we get closer to Christmas.

All I Want for Christmas...Is Big Blue Eyes
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

Some dreams were never meant to be... 

Renowned architect, Josh McDaniels, spent ten years avoiding his hometown and the unforgettable memories of his youth. But when a former classmate phones him before Christmas with a proposal he can’t refuse, he finds himself back in small-town, Lexington, Missouri, surrounded by holiday festivities and engulfed in memories of a blue-eyed girl. 

Amanda Masterson knows three things about Josh. She loves him, he loves her, and he’ll walk out when those feelings terrify him, as he always does. Ten years ago, he abandoned their dreams. Eight years ago, he returned to break her heart again. Now, he’s back once more, and this time, he’s jeopardizing not only her heart but her daughter’s as well. 

Can the spirit of Christmas overcome a past riddled with mistakes? Or will fears and doubts destroy the greatest gift of all?



A chainsaw’s buzz brought Josh McDaniels’ head up with a snap. He gazed out his home office’s picture window at the turn of the century, Colonial mansion across the street as a one-hundred-year-old oak crashed to the ground. Three bulldozers, a backhoe, and a wrecking ball lined the gravel-packed, circular drive, their orange-yellow paint a harsh contrast to the surrounding, brilliant, white snow.

He let out a deep sigh. Some dreams were never meant to come true.

It was time. The old house finally couldn’t hold out any longer. After what must have been twenty years of sitting on the market with a four million dollar price tag, the California owners gave in to the pressure of hotel mogul, James Caverson, and signed the single-family estate over to development.

Kansas City would lose another historical landmark.

Never mind that others, like himself, had made reasonable offers on Warwick Manor with intentions to restore it. To return it to its heyday by recreating the Italian gardens complete with marble statues, polishing the oak floors, picking the weeds out of the cobblestone drive to reveal the inlaid Celtic cross. Repaint and refurnish. Move in. Let children run in the halls.

Not that he had plans for the children part. But the rest of it…The rest of it was all he had left of a summer he couldn’t forget.

Just like that summer, the house would crumble into faded memory.

He returned to his wide architectural pad and focused on the drawings. The columns needed a little more shade, the old iron lantern that hung over the porch wasn’t quite right.

He needed more time. Another day, and he’d finish the details. But as engines whirred to life, the crew outside told him loud and clear time had run out. What little more he could cram into the pages, he’d have to do quickly. Unless he wanted to recreate the picture with a wide hole in the middle of the old brick.

“Mr. McDaniels, you have a call on line two,” his secretary buzzed in on his phone.

Josh pushed a hand through his hair and inhaled. Now wasn't the time for sentiment. He shouldn't be working on fanciful blueprints anyway. He had more important things to do. Like finish the final details on the new, eight-level, Country Club Plaza parking garage. The developer intended to break ground with spring’s first thaw. For the last two weeks, the man had been all over Josh to finish the plans.

He pushed the intercom button. “Thanks, Nancy. I’ll take it.” Picking up the receiver, he looked out the window again. “This is Josh.”

“Josh!” a feminine voice he didn't recognize cried. “I’m so glad I got a hold of you. This is Sandra Rodgers, you know, from Lexington High?”

He furrowed his brow. The name was familiar, but damned if he could place her face. He’d shoved high school to the far corners of his mind, along with the rest of Lexington’s six thousand residents.

“Sandy with the red hair?” he asked, searching for more detail.

“The same.” Her voice held a touch of pride, pleased with his recognition.

He chuckled. “Well, I’ll be damned. What’s it been now—ten years? What have you been up to?” Why in the world would someone from his hometown bother to call him after all this time?

“A little of this, a little of that. Yourself?”

“Work. That’s about all I have time for.”

“So I've heard. Your reputation is amazing, Josh. Which is, honestly, why I called.”

Reclining in his chair, he put his feet up on his desk and crossed his ankles. At least she wasn’t calling to invite him to another reunion he had no intention of attending. “What can I do for you?”

“Well, I’ve got a proposal to run past you. I need an architect for a new shopping complex. Think you might be up for it?”

“Shopping complex, huh? Strip Mall, or…?”

“Strip mall feel, but I want the exterior to be authentic. A representation of historic, Lexington, Missouri.”
His feet thudded to the floor as he sat up. “This is in Lexington?”

“Yes. I’ve got a couple hundred acres just sitting right outside town off Highway 13, and I want to do something with it. I’m a developer. I’ve run the figures, gotten some outside investors together, and now we just need to get the ball in motion.”

His frown deepened. He had property off Highway 13. Granted, it was run down, abandoned, and the weeds had probably all grown into the barbed wire fences, but he should have had the brilliant idea of putting a shopping mall in off the main access road. Damn, what a concept! She’d be rich beyond all means when this was said and done.

“That isn’t out by my dad’s old place, is it?”

“Sure is,” she cooed. “Butts up to it. I’m sure we could extend the idea if you wanted to do something with your property too.”

Sandra evidently had more between her ears than what he remembered of her. All his foggy memory could summon was a girl with a sinful body who was more than happy to offer it to virtually every one of his friends on the football team.

“You want me to design it?”

“Sure do. You’re the top-rated architect in Kansas City—I’m sure the residents here would be even more excited about the idea if a hometown boy put his heart into it. Give them something more to be proud about.”
Beyond the historic landmarks? He doubted Lexington’s pride could grow any more. The damn Civil War cannonball in the courthouse pillar was like a religious icon. But she had a point. And the prospect of getting in on the deal was too tempting to ignore. It would almost be worth a trip back home.

Another tree crashed to the ground outside, and the bulldozer claw raked it out of the wrecker’s way. With the racket, a pair of the deepest blue eyes Josh had ever seen flashed in his memory. Unforgettable, big, blue eyes.

Almost worth a trip back home. But not quite.

“I’m not sure, Sandy. My schedule is pretty full. I’ve got deadlines out the ass and clients on my back for things I’m already obligated to.”

“Oh, come on,” she cajoled. “Say yes. Give yourself a Christmas present. Come down here and visit us. Help me line up things, then go home to enjoy your profits. I’ve got all the documents in line. Come out for the weekend. I’ll sit down and go over everything with you.”


Outside, the four, twenty-foot tall columns careened sideways like a stack of dominos. The peeling, white porch roof sagged in the middle, hung tenaciously for a heartbeat, and then splintered into a pile of rubble.
Another image floated through his mind. Blond hair. A smile that made his heart trip. Light fingertips that trailed through his wet hair after an afternoon in the lake. Promises and dreams he’d refused to believe.
There was absolutely no way he could sit here and watch that beautiful piece of history crumble.

“No, I have a better idea. Why don’t you get everything together, and I’ll come down and work up the blueprints over the holidays. I’ve got about two weeks in my schedule. I think I can get most of something like that accomplished. Most of it’s pretty standard anymore.”

“Really?” Disbelief edged her question.

“You’ve got yourself an architect. Noon on Monday sound good to you?”


“Rodgers,” he repeated thoughtfully. “You marry Pete?”

“Sure did.”

“Okay, Sandy. I’ll see you on Monday.”

Josh dropped the phone back in the cradle and stared at it. Lexington. Blond hair, blue eyes, and kisses that turned his world upside down. Lord, he’d never thought he’d go back to the little Missouri town on the river. Not for any reason.

At the crunch of breaking wood, he glanced out the window.

Lexington was better than watching the last of his youth fall to pieces.

Picking up the phone once more, he moved across the room with the entire unit to sit in the corner where he couldn’t witness the destruction. He punched in the information number and waited on the operator.

“City and State please,” the computer-generated voice requested.

“Lexington, Missouri.”

“One moment while I connect your call.”

Josh rolled his eyes. Such a stupid system. They always connected to a live person anyway. Why didn’t they start with one?

“This is Jennifer, how can I help you in Lexington, Missouri?”

“I need the number for Lucas Benning.” He spelled the last name.

On the other end of the line, fingertips tapped across a keyboard. “I have a Lucas Benning on Franklin Avenue.”

“That’s the one.”

“Would you like me to connect you?”


“One moment.”

The phone rang in Josh’s ear. Not the high-pitched dial tone he was used to, but more of a buzz. Like an old switch system that needed to be updated. Just like the whole damn town.

“’Lo?” Lucas answered.

“Luc, it’s Josh.”

“Well, shit.” Lucas let out a sharp burst of deep laughter. “How the hell are ya?”

“Pretty good. Happy Holidays. I got your mom’s card.”

“Merry Christmas, Josh. How you been?”

The sound of something heavy scraping across a wood floor brought a vivid picture of Lucas’ mother’s front room to Josh’s mind. Tall ceiling, plaster walls painted blue and edged with ornate, oak crown moldings—they’d gotten three kinds of hell for breaking her antique lamp when they practiced wrestling one afternoon.
It also brought to mind something Josh had spent eight years trying not to think about. An afternoon in Lucas’ backyard hammock, where those enchanting blond-framed, unforgettable blue eyes looked up at him with so much devotion he’d wanted to cry. And the girl…God, the girl.

Though Lucas left home and bought his own place years ago, Josh only had memories of a time far more distant.

“Good. Work’s going real good. I’m coming in town this weekend. You going to be around?”
Lucas didn’t immediately answer.

In the heavy silence, Josh shifted his weight.

“I should be. I’ve got some fence work to do. But I should be around.”

“Think you’d be up to a beer or two?”

Again the moment of silence. This time, Lucas’ voice held hesitation. “S’pose so. Ain’t coming back here to stir up trouble again, are you?”

Trouble. That’s what his former best friend now considered him. Well, he supposed he’d asked for it. Even best friends had a breaking point. Particularly when women got in the middle of things. But damn. One brief visit during his ten-year hiatus didn’t exactly warrant this degree of cold reception. It wasn’t like Lucas didn’t have his fair share of one-night stands under his belt. When in the hell had he decided Amanda was his concern?

“I’m coming in town for business,” he answered flatly.

“Well, ya better bring a suit and tie. Mom’s Christmas party’s tomorrow night. You know she’ll expect you, if you’re in town.”

Josh groaned inwardly. The last thing he wanted to do was go to a formal Christmas affair. This wasn’t supposed to be a social call. However, Mae Benning would hunt him down with her iron skillet if she found out he was in town and didn’t attend.

“All right. Will do. Just make sure you’ve got enough rum stashed in the kitchen cupboard to last the night.”
Lucas chuckled. “Always do. Only way to get through Mom’s parties.”

“Okay. I need to get some things done before I call it a day. I’ll be out later tonight.”

“Where you stayin’?”

“Thought I’d book a room at The Victorianne. Think they’ll have an opening?”

“This time of year—prob’ly. Though no guarantees. They’ve been busy this year.”

“I’ll call when I get in town and let you know.”

“’Kay. See ya then.”

“See you, Luc.”

Josh hung up and stared at his desk. The design book lay open, waiting for him to finish the front of Warwick Manor. When he did, it would join the other prints in his file room, waiting for the right builder to invest. Someone would. Some rich businessman’s wife would fall in love with the dream Josh had run from and make it hers.

He’d finish it later. When he was ready to turn it over to someone else and cut off those memories eternally.
Standing, he dropped the phone unit back onto his desk and left his office, entering the main floor of his bungalow home.

Nancy looked up from her computer with a smile.

“Why don’t you go on home, Nancy. Go ahead and give yourself some paid time off. Come back after New Year’s. I’m going to be working out of town for a while. Set the phone to forward calls to my cell.”

She blinked as her mouth dropped open a fraction.

He almost laughed aloud. Couldn’t say he didn’t blame her. In five years of working for him, he’d kept her on the job until the twenty-third of December and expected her back January second, bright and early. Even if he didn’t come downstairs until nearly noon.

“I know. Your kids won’t know what to do with you home.”

Laughing, she shook her head. “Adam won’t believe you didn’t fire me.”

Josh grinned. “Me, file my own things and answer the phones? Adam should know better. Hand me the checkbook, would you?”

She pulled open a drawer to her left and passed him the company checkbook. Flipping it open, he scribbled out a check for two thousand dollars, double what she’d make in the two weeks of work. With a fond smile, he passed the check to her. “Merry Christmas.”

Her eyes widened as she stared at the check. She shook her head. “Josh, I can’t.”

“You can, and you will. Go shopping. It’s the first time all week we’ve had three days without snow. Roads ought to be good by now. I’m going to go pack.”

As she fiddled with her computer’s mouse, closing windows and shutting down her system, she asked, “Where are you going?


Her hand paused. She cocked her head to the side. “You’re going home?”

He looked over her head and out the window behind her, catching the tail end of the wrecker’s ball before the heavy weight swung back out of his line of sight. He clenched his jaw. “No. This is home. I’m going to Lexington. There’s nothing homey about that.”

“Taking Olivia?”

His laughter slipped out in a combination of a chuckle-snort. “They’d have to find diamonds floating in the river to make my sister go back.”

Nancy let out a soft chuckle. “I rather thought that’s how you felt about it.”

Grinning again, he winked. “Close. Not quite though. She hated it when we were kids. That’s the difference.”

“Gotcha.” She picked up her purse and slid it over her shoulder as she rounded her desk for the door. “Well, I’ll get out of here. Let you get to packing.”

Stopping to flip the open sign around to Closed, she looked back over her shoulder. “Merry Christmas, Josh,” she added with a fond smile.

“Go have fun.” He nodded at the door. “Get the kids something special from Santa.”

With a little wave, she exited.

As the door settled quietly into the frame, Josh’s smile faded. Olivia was going to think he’d lost his mind.
Maybe he had.

Heading up the wide, sweeping staircase that led to the residential part of the house, he called out, “Olivia? Get dressed, I’m coming up. I’ve got to talk to you before I leave town.”

She called back to him, her voice muffled behind her closed studio room. “Out of town? Over Christmas?”
Halfway up the stairs, he answered, “I’m going to Lexington.”

Something heavy crashed against the floorboards over his head, followed by her muffled curse. The paneled door rolled open and thudded into the wall stop. Her voice came louder, almost a screech, as she stepped into the hall.

“You’re going where?”


Labels: , , , , , , ,

"Victorians used the term 'limbs' as a euphenism for legs, which were thought to be so sexually exciting to a man, even a glimpse of a table leg could incite him to sexual frenzy. Table skirts were invented to prevent any unnatural unions between men and furniture."
(History Channel International)



GoddessFish Promotions

Goddess Fish Partner

Night Owl Romance

Night Owl Romance
For The Latest In Romance Reviews

Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Coffee Time Romance

Coffee Time Romance
Blogging About Romance