Friday, June 22, 2018

Shenanigans Excerpt Tour

Blurb:
Kandi Cain inherited her Dr. Doolittle abilities from her grandmother and became a psychic pet detective. To her dismay, she just acquired the power to communicate with the spirit world, but dead people give her the willies.

Just when Kandi thought her life couldn’t get more complicated, the neighbor from hell moved in next door. The nasty guy’s name is Dutch Callaghan. How can someone so gorgeous be such a dick? Kandi could chalk some of it up to his job. Dutch is a Phoenix PD homicide cop.

Kandi’s current case is rescuing a Yorkie from a brutal dog fighting ring. Little does she know her dog napping suspect is involved in a series of brutal murders. Disguised as an elderly nun, Kandi rescues the Yorkie and, in the process, blows the hell out of Dutch’s undercover operation.

Kandi now finds herself a person of interest in her client’s murder and her sexy-as-hell, pain-in-the-butt neighbor is in hot pursuit of the Ninja Nun. Is Dutch about to slap the cuffs on? Only time will tell.



Exclusive Excerpt:
I bolted from the warehouse and ran over to the Impala. Hot dang! The keys were in the ignition. Crap. Would I be interfering with a police investigation, if I borrowed it?

“No matter how long it takes, I will find you, Sister,” Dutch roared from inside the warehouse.

Shit! Instead of going after Tomas, he was coming after me. Dutch’s priorities were screwed all to hell.

I jumped in and started the Impala up. The front end hopped up and down. I found a remote control and punched a button. The rear end hopped up and down. I tried the bottom button. The car rocked back and forth.

Oh, dear God, this could only happen to me. I hit another button. The rocking stopped.

Blowing out a breath of relief, I put the Impala in gear and drove off. The front end abruptly bobbed up and down like some demented rabbit. “Fuck!” I pogoed down the alley.

Tinkerbell wiggled out of my pocket and yapped.

“Yes. I know we’re in trouble.”

She barked frantically.

“No, the mean doggies won’t eat us. When she yapped again, I added. “Or the birdies.”

Tinkerbell looked out the window and yipped and yipped.

“You are not seasick.”

She growled.

“No. I’m not calling you a liar, but have you ever been on a boat?”

Arf.

“Lose the attitude. I just risked my life to save you. Show some gratitude.”

Tinkerbell bared her teeth.

I rolled my eyes. “Do you want to end up in doggie jail? Cause, if I get caught, that’s exactly where you’ll go.”

Woof.

“Didn’t think so.”

The sirens got closer and closer. It sounded like every cop in the city was responding. There was no way I could outrun them. I needed to ditch the car and the habit. I pulled into the rear parking lot of a convenience market.

Tinkerbell barked a warning.

“Are you shittin’ me?” I looked down the alley. Sure enough, Dutch was running after us. Persistent bugger.

The little Yorkie let out a series of yaps.

“You’re right, he does look like he wants to kill us.”  I shot out of the car and quickly picked the lock on the backdoor of the store. “You coming?”



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Author Bio and Links:
I was a 9-1-1 dispatcher for the Glendale Police Department and to keep from going totally bonkers – I mean people have no idea what a real emergency is. Take this for example: I answered, “9-1-1 emergency, what’s your emergency?” And this hysterical woman yelled, “My bird is in a tree.” Sometimes I really couldn’t help myself, so I said, “Birds have a tendency to do that, ma’am.” The woman screeched, “No! You don’t understand. My pet parakeet is in the tree. I’ve just got to get him down.” Like I said, not a clue. “I’m sorry ma’am but we don’t get birds out of trees.” The woman then cried, “But… What about my husband? He’s up there, too.” See what I had to deal with? To keep from hitting myself repeatedly in the head with my phone I took up writing.

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Curse of the Ancients Book Blast

Blurb:
As Craige Ingram climbed the stairs of the derelict building, that peculiar stench of a dead body hit him. It was the same smell no matter where—SpecOps SEAL encounter gone sour, or in a vacant, roach-infested apartment. Inside, his SEAL buddy-turned head of Buckingham Parish Homicide’s Investigative Support Division, Grayson MacGerald, was huddled with the coroner next to a swollen decaying corpse that was days old and hardly more than oozing dead meat. The PI inside Craige had a gut feeling that there was more to this than a dead body, and Craige’s Grannie always told him, “Trust your feelin’s.” But that was before Mihály Keaulescu set down two of his Black Falcon choppers on Craige’s Moccasin Hollow private airstrip in an uninvited stopover. It got worse. From his airstrip to Israel, to Turkey and a nightmare-dream of one-of-a-kind ancient artifacts that not only threatened the serene life Craige knew and loved at Moccasin Hollow, it would destroy the world.



Excerpt:
Craige cinched his chinstrap tighter and in the distance, glimpsed a profile of what looked to be a Bell Textron’s 62X KW warrior carrying an ALQ 131 or a 144 or a modified 147A white-noise jammer in the crook of his arm. Craige pressed his goggles to the ground tighter. Ready as he could get for the back-blast inferno and flesh-boiling incandescence. The ground punched his belly. He felt more than heard the rumbling plasma-searing waves tearing the ground with seismic jolting thuds. The pressure waves jarred his eardrums.

Follow-up chopper runs unleashed a consuming churning hell along the steep walls and dry wadi. Low-altitude chopper sorties took over with end-of-the-world sunbursts sterilizing a morass of targets. Laser guided missiles pulverized crumpled ledges and overhangs into igneous mini-lahars. Bunker buster smart bombs whistled into caves smashing tunnel walls, roasting any bottom feeders hiding inside. Secondary strikes continued, napalm, thermite, and phosphorous blanketed the area. The smothering white-heat boiled in the solar-hot overkill incineration of containers of stored Marburg-Ebolapox, leaving a sterile landscape of glazed sand, gravel, vaporized odds-and-ends, and a few recognizable body parts. The fearful kill-beauty of magenta and mauve mushrooms and cherry-white red-orange acrid plumes left the eerie shimmering moonscape. Avram ordered re-targeting the whole valley, including the passageways that had been tunneled into. He was taking no chances.

Craige felt a sad lament as the gunships made their final runs, missiles and bombs slammed into the mountain. Undiscovered artifacts destroyed, the site possibly entombed beyond recovery. It wasn’t the worst of what might’ve been. If the virus had been loosed, there’d be damn few survivors.



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Author Bio and Links:
With postgraduate degrees and faculty positions at several medical universities, Hawk MacKinney has taught graduate courses in both the United States and Jerusalem. In addition to his work in classrooms and laboratories, he has written numerous professional articles on chordate neuroembryology and authored several novels that reflect his southwest upbringing in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel nominated for both the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award, details the family bloodlines of his protagonist in the Moccasin Hollow Mystery Series. Hidden Vault of Secrets and Westobou Gold, Books 1 and 2 in the series, have received national and international attention. Hawk is also writing a science fiction series, The Cairns of Sainctuarie.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Moments of Disarray Blurb Blitz

Blurb:
Alex Kennedy knows he's a rascal. A rogue. An arrogant bastard. He wreaked havoc on his best friend's marriage by falling in love with his best friend's wife, and now he's trying to move on. Sex, drugs, booze, boys, girls and toys. He's hell-bent on forgetting the past and running toward a future he doesn't believe he deserves, only to discover the truth in moments of disarray.



Excerpt:
“Hey, man.” Jamie moved as though he meant to hug Alex, but held back at the last second.

Their hands clasped, grasped. Alex tugged. Jamie moved toward him. They hugged, hard, a bro hug for sure, minus the back-slapping. It softened after a few seconds. Jamie buried his face against Alex’s neck.

Alex held him.

Only that, not wanting to let go, not wanting Jamie to let go, either. Dampness on his neck. Jamie’s tears.

Alex clung tighter, a hand stroking over Jamie’s hair, then cupping the back of his neck. He whispered, “don’t, please. Don’t.”

Jamie pulled away to look at him. “I’m sorry, man--”

“Don’t,” Alex said again. “You don’t have to be sorry. Okay?”

“But it’s my fault everything got so messed up,” Jamie insisted. “I should never have asked you to sleep with her —”

Sleep with her. Like that’s all it had been, something base and somehow shameful, something without meaning. It turned Alex’s stomach to think of his time with Anne like that. Meaningless.

“Don’t,” Alex said sharply. Jamie stopped.

Alex couldn’t tell Jamie that he loved her. Jamie had given his permission for it, his blessing, and now he regretted it. But Alex didn’t and never could, because he could never wish away that love. He could pray for it to go away, not that he believed in any kind of god that would grant that request, but he could never wish that he’d never had it.

Jamie kissed him.



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Author Bio and Links:
Megan Hart writes books. Some of them use a lot of bad words, but most of the other words are okay. She can't live without music, the internet, or the ocean, but she and soda have achieved an amicable uncoupling. She can't stand the feeling of corduroy or velvet, and modern art leaves her cold. She writes a little bit of everything from horror to romance, though she’s best known for writing erotic fiction that sometimes makes you cry. Find out more about her at her website, or if you really want to get crazy, follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


The book will be on sale for only $0.99.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Storms Over Babylon Blurb Blitz

Blurb:
From the scorching plains of Persia to the opulent city of Babylon, Ashley and Alexander continue their sensuous and passionate journey through history. Alexander the Great is now king of Persia and Greece but his reign will be short. Time-travelling Ashley knows when her husband will die. She's determined to cheat Fate and save Alexander and her children, even if it brings the gates of time crashing down. Following Alexander on a tour of his new kingdom, she plans her moves and bides her time. She must, however, convince Alexander to abandon his crown and his kingdom.



Excerpt:
We had two weeks of marching through arid land before we came to Bampur. The most difficult part of our journey was over.

We’d lost more than five thousand souls in the desert. We arrived in tatters, deeply shocked by all the men, women and children who’d perished. We were relieved to be in a place where sweet water flowed in abundance and the grass grew green. It was like a rebirth, like arriving in paradise, and to top everything off the whole city had turned out to greet Alexander, conquering hero, and king of the world.

Alexander, conquering hero! The people lined the streets. They sat on the rooftops and were already hoarse from cheering by the time we were near enough to hear them.

Alexander, king of the world! Flowers fell like rain, wine flowed like rivers, the soldiers were feted and acclaimed, and Alexander’s name was on everyone’s lips. He had returned to his kingdom and the city, like a bride, opened her arms to him.

It was heady stuff for a man suddenly to realize that this was the summit of his glory. He had been fighting for so long that he’d forgotten why. He’d been struggling to reclaim a crown and consolidate a kingdom and now that it was done, suddenly, here it was. Here was his kingdom. It was just the edge, but it was here, and the people were weeping, screaming, and swooning when they saw him.

Even I, who had seen one of the ancient newsreels of the Beatles arriving in America, was impressed. The Beatles were an old hat compared to Alexander. These people had no television either. They had been waiting for months for a glimpse of the young king.

Here he was, and, by the gods! He was young! He was handsome! He waved and grinned and cried. His hair was bleached pale gold, his skin was burned deep brown, his eyes glittered blue and brown, and they were huge in his starving face. His purple cape was in tatters, but the mayor of the city gave him a new one. He wore the crown of Darius on his noble head and he carried the spear of a cavalry officer. His men had polished their bronze weapons until they shone in the red setting sun like drops of blood. The horses, wild with the scent of grass and water whinnied and screamed at the crowds, and the crowds screamed back.

Everyone cried, everyone laughed. It was our first homecoming and we were drunk within seconds with the ecstasy of ‘Nostos’, the return. We drank from the cups held out by every hand towards us. The men all had purple mouths and staggered drunkenly by the time we left the city and headed towards the encampment, but Alexander was drunk on glory. His eyes were brilliant and his color hectic. His face burned with fever and he had no voice left to speak.



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Author Bio and Links:
Jennifer Macaire lives in France with her husband, three children, & various dogs & horses. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. After graduation in St. Thomas, she moved to NYC where she modeled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.


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Monday, June 18, 2018

Heart of a Seal NBtM

Blurb:
They’re brothers in arms, Navy SEALS risking their lives for their country… and the women they love.

This is Luke Harding’s story.

Six months in a desert hellhole taught Navy SEAL Luke Harding things he never wanted to learn about life and death. Only tender memories of the beautiful brunette he met a few weeks before his deployment helped get him through the torturous days and nights. Back in the States after a perilous rescue, physically and emotionally damaged, Luke’s about to plunge into a new kind of war. In a seemingly bucolic Idaho town, Sally Duncan faces real—and unpredictable—danger.

All Sally ever wanted was a safe place to raise her nine-year-old daughter. Her identity hidden behind a façade of secrets and lies, can she trust Luke—a man she barely knows—with the truth? Even as they give in to long-denied passion, a killer with a personal vendetta is setting an ambush that will leave them praying for a miracle and fighting for the future they may not live to see.



Excerpt:
“Are you Petty Officer Second Class Luke Harding?” The man in battle gear
knelt beside him.

As hard as he tried, Luke couldn’t make a sound—or even nod his head. All he could do was stare until his eyes misted, and he squeezed his eyelids shut so he wouldn’t humiliate himself.

They know my name. Somebody knows who I am. Gratitude washed over him even as sorrow intruded into his momentary peace. Except for two short weeks, he could have celebrated with Ian.

The warrior reached for Luke’s hand, gripping it firmly. “It’s okay, Son. You stay with me. You hear me, Sailor? That’s an order.” He leaned over Luke and there was understanding in his eyes. “We’re here to get you home alive, and failure is not an option. You copy that?”

Luke would have smiled if he could have. Did the guy know the phrase he uttered so effortlessly was the only thing holding Luke together?

“Medic!” the man yelled over his shoulder, and two seconds later another warrior stuck his head into Luke’s space.

It was getting harder to breathe. His rasping and gurgling grew louder and filled his ears.

“Chest wound.” The second man applied pressure, none too gently, to the hole in Luke’s torso.

Jesus, you stupid SOB! Luke would have given anything for the strength to shove him away, while using every four letter word he knew, but the most he could manage was a pained groan.

“Hang in there.” The first man pulled Luke’s attention from the medic. “I know you’re in pain. The chopper will land any second, and we’ll get you onboard. Next stop—a nice clean hospital and then…stateside. We’re going to give you the good stuff so you can sleep through this next part. You’re going to make it, Sailor, so start planning your homecoming.”

Sally. The image of the sweet brunette he’d promised to return to flashed in Luke’s mind. He barely felt the prick of the needle before his eyes fluttered closed on his last memory.




It’s a pleasure to be here on the Sharing Links and Wisdom blog. Thanks for hosting the tour for my new release, Heart of a SEAL. This book is the first of three books in the Hearts of Valor series and my seventh published book. I only mention that because this weekend I ran across the first manuscript I ever wrote, buried in my office, along with several started but unfinished projects. It was quite a trip down memory lane!

There was good reason why that first manuscript, which I entitled “Dani” after the heroine and later changed to “Get Out Alive,” was not published. IT WAS SO AWFUL! I almost feel bad for the handful of editors and/or agents I submitted it to back in 1997.

As I’m sure most of you know, authors don’t just decide they want to write a book and then sit down to create a masterpiece worthy of a literary prize. Far from it. There was so much I didn’t know about the craft of writing, and I’m still learning. My seven books are small potatoes compared to the backlists of awesome powerhouse writers in my genre who’ve been at this writing thing a whole lot longer than me. I am sure, when I have two or three times that number under my belt, I’ll still be learning and trying to keep up with an ever-changing industry.

I had one thing going for me when I wrote “Dani”—a story idea. That’s important, but I didn’t have a clue about character development, passive sentences or points of view. I wanted to write a romantic suspense novel, but I didn’t know there were taboo subjects (according to publishers who still get to decide those things, even in the age of self-publishing.)

Much later, after acquiring representation through an agent, I learned that publishers would reject, without reading, a romance whose heroine is married at the beginning of the story and later divorces. I learned that two points of view were the established norm, one was acceptable, three was reason enough to land on the rejection pile and head-hopping screamed newbie like nothing else. I learned how to ‘hook’ a reader in the first paragraph and tie up all the loose ends before the final page. And I learned SO much about sentence structure, paragraph structure and those troublesome commas. (Oh, who am I kidding? I still get the commas wrong!)

If you decide to pick up Heart of a SEAL and give it a read, and you find that first sentence/paragraph/scene/chapter that makes you say: “Oh my, I would have done that a little differently,” just know I’m still a writer-in-training, always will be and my next seven/fourteen/twenty-one books will be better!

To prove a point, I’m now going to do something that no author in her right mind would do. I’m going to share the opening paragraphs of “Dani”, aka “Get Out Alive”, exactly the way I found it in my slush pile! Please…be kind!

The forest was quiet. The moon had risen to its full height in the night sky, and begun its descent toward morning, its luminescence covering the forest floor with a silvery hue. The branches of the pines swayed gently in the wind causing the pattern of shadows beneath them to shift and change. On a ridge, beneath the cover of a stately ponderosa, within its deepest shadows, a man stood, statue-like. He had been there for nearly an hour, watching and waiting silently. Just below his hiding place, a small herd of deer crossed the meadow, grazing unhurriedly until the night wind carried them his scent and they raced away, the sounds of their flight blown elsewhere on the breeze.
Tucker carefully surveyed the meadow and the tree-line surrounding it, listening expectantly for sounds that did not belong. Shifting his position slightly to ease the discomfort of tense muscles, he wondered impatiently what was keeping his contact. He couldn’t wait here much longer. He would need to start soon to get back before he was missed.
As he again searched the trees on the far side of the meadow, a tall, lean form separated itself from the shadows and stood for a moment in full view. From his place atop the ridge, Tucker removed a shiny metal object from his shirt pocket and allowed it to briefly catch the moon’s rays, causing it to glint dully. Watching the figure melt back into the darkness, he knew his signal had been received.

Wow! That was painful—but I think I’ve got the omniscient point of view down pat, don’t you? Not only that, I apparently didn’t know how to use contractions in 1997! If you suffered through that, I applaud you, and each and every one of you deserves to win the gift card in the Rafflecopter drawing, so don’t forget to enter.

Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by, and I sincerely hope I haven’t scared you off from giving Heart of a SEAL a try! If you like action-packed romantic suspense, I think you’ll enjoy this book.



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Author Bio and Links:
Dixie Lee Brown lives and writes in Central Oregon, inspired by gorgeous scenery and at least three hundred sunny days a year. Having moved from South Dakota as a child to Washington, Montana and then to Oregon, she feels at home in the west. She resides with two dogs and a cat, who are currently all the responsibility she can handle. Dixie works fulltime as a bookkeeper. When she's not writing or working, she loves to read, enjoys movies, and if it were possible, she’d spend all of her time at the beach. She is also the author of the Trust No One romantic suspense series, published by Avon Impulse.

Please visit her websiteFacebook author pageTwitter, or join her street team.

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Away VBT

Blurb:
Grim Morrigan, Guardian of the Ward and part-time private detective, polices the Folk, the clans of fairies who live in the foothills outside Denver. But his main job is concealing their true nature from the mortals around them.

Enter mortal Annie Duran, who hires him to look for her brother Richard, missing and presumed dead for ten years. Annie has seen Richard in the parking lot of the nightclub where she works. Now she wants answers, and Grim’s supposed to find them.

The quest for Richard ensnares both Grim and Annie in a sinister conspiracy involving kidnapped women and outlaw magic. But they also discover their own overwhelming attraction to each other.

When Annie herself disappears, Grim’s need for answers becomes even more urgent. With the help of a dissolute prince and a motley crew of unlikely fairies, Grim confronts a rebellion among the Folk.

And it may take more than just magic and luck to save both Annie and Grim this time.



Excerpt:
He leaned toward her, slowly, slowly, and she moved to meet him. His lips were softer than she remembered, gentle, brushing against the side of her throat. She took hold of his sleeve, her hand closing on the cool smoothness of the leather.

He pulled away, stripping off his coat, then edged in closer, catching her chin between his fingers. Not a gentle kiss this time, but a claiming that burned her skin, set her pulse racing. His hand cupped the back of her skull, holding her tight so his tongue could plunge deep into her mouth. She moaned, fumbling with the buttons on his shirt, feeling the coarse crinkle of hair and the heat of his skin. Her own desire built like a drumbeat.

And then he was lifting away, resting his forehead against hers, panting. “Wait.”

****

Wait? With every cell in his body screaming for her, he’d suddenly grown a conscience? Why the hell had his long-lost ethical sense decided to reappear now? Wretched timing, Grim. Just your style. He closed his eyes, catching his breath while he worked out what to say to Annie Duran that wouldn’t sound either insulting or insane.

“Wait?” She was staring at him, eyes shining with desire—and confusion.

He was such an idiot he felt like moaning.




Blurbing
If I were given a choice between writing a synopsis and writing a blurb (and believe me, that’s a horrible choice), I’d go with the synopsis. Synopses are basically summaries, and most of us have some experience with summarizing. You’ve got three or four pages for the whole thing, and your main job is to pick out the major incidents of the plot without getting too bogged down in detail. And, of course, you have to make the prose flow without constantly saying And then. They’re not fun to write, but I can usually knock one out in a couple of hours.

Blurbs, on the other hand, suck.

Blurbs are the copy found on the back of print books or at the front of ebooks. They’re also the copy that shows up in ads for the book and on Web pages. While you have three or four pages for synopses, you’ve got three or four paragraphs (at most) for the blurb. And the language has to be sort of “peppy.”

Basically, you’re writing ad copy, and for those of us who have never been in the advertising or marketing business, the process can be excruciating. My first impulse is always to overdo the peppiness. I use many, many exclamation marks!!!!! I may use italics with abandon. If I’m blurbing a paranormal romance like Away, I emphasize danger, danger, danger.

After I’ve read over the first draft and started to groan, I settle down and try again. This time I try to think about what’s really going on in the book. What’s the real reason a person might enjoy reading it?

The extreme brevity of the blurb means I’m never able to include everything that happens in the book, but I try to suggest the major themes, or at least some of them. Chances are, though, I’ll end up leaving out something crucial just because I have to.

So about the blurb for Away. I wanted you to know about my main characters, Grim and Annie, of course. And I wanted to set up the basic conflict in the book. Annie’s urgently searching for answers: why did her brother disappear, and why has he come back now? Grim actually has some information that could help, but he’s sworn to secrecy. Yet as the situation becomes more perilous for both of them, he finds that he has to break his vows and tell Annie what’s going on around her. It’s a lot more than she can take in, but in the end their relationship makes them both stronger. Here’s my blurb.

His job is keeping secrets, but she needs the truth.

Grim Morrigan, Guardian of the Ward and part-time private detective, polices the Folk, the clans of fairies who live in the foothills outside Denver. But his main job is concealing their true nature from the mortals around them.

Enter mortal Annie Duran, who hires him to look for her brother Richard, missing and presumed dead for ten years. Annie has seen Richard in the parking lot of the nightclub where she works. Now she wants answers, and Grim’s supposed to find them.

The quest for Richard ensnares both Grim and Annie in a sinister conspiracy involving kidnapped women and outlaw magic. But they also discover their own overwhelming attraction to each other.

When Annie herself disappears, Grim’s need for answers becomes even more urgent. With the help of a dissolute prince and a motley crew of unlikely fairies, Grim confronts a rebellion among the Folk. And it may take more than just magic and luck to save both Annie and Grim this time.



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Author Bio and Links:
Meg Benjamin is an award-winning author of contemporary romance. Her newest series, the Folk, is a paranormal trilogy set in Colorado. Meg’s Konigsburg series is set in the Texas Hill Country and her Salt Box and Brewing Love trilogies are set in the Colorado Rockies (both are available from Entangled Publishing). Along with contemporary romance, Meg is also the author of the paranormal Ramos Family trilogy from Berkley InterMix. Meg’s books have won numerous awards, including an EPIC Award, a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Holt Medallion from Virginia Romance Writers, the Beanpot Award from the New England Romance Writers, and the Award of Excellence from Colorado Romance Writers. 

Meg’s website is http://www.MegBenjamin.com. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Meg loves to hear from readers—contact her at meg@megbenjamin.com.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Love. Local. Latebreaking. NBtM

Blurb:
Professional passion in the tradition of Julie James, Love. Local. Latebreaking. is a page-turning romance shining a spotlight into television news.

"Heart-tugging relational tension but with a sophistication that raises it above the romance genre." -- Jlaird, verified purchaser

"Mr. Lareau manages humor beautifully--I was able to envision certain scenes/situations/people so clearly that I was chortling into my coffee. I highly recommend this novel as a light-hearted (and sexy) diversion." -- Sarah K. Clark, verified purchaser

"The heroine had a career that she worked hard for and that she didn't give that career up simply because she'd found love" -- A. Geek, verified purchaser

Local TV news reporter Karli Lewis has one goal: escape Iowa's cornfields and podunk local news scene to hit the bright lights of the Chicago's newsrooms. Karli’s career is on the rise, thanks to her talented, dizzingly handsome, yet enigmatic news photographer, Jake Gibson, a dedicated hometown boy who is staying put. Will Karli listen to her heart, or will she choose a dateline over her favorite date? Can she reconcile her unbridled ambition and her longing for the man she could lose forever?



Excerpt:
Her eyes and the smell of her skin and the pulse beating in her neck all told Jake that she was ready to be his. Her raised eyebrows and her erect, squared-off posture told him to stay away. He saw all of this in an instant, then fumbled for something to do that wasn’t kissing, in spite of the thudding pulse and the insistent twitch that urged him—now—to find the sweetness of her lips.

Jake wasn’t thinking through the feelings, the urges, the choices. Evolution or God or something had equipped men—and Jake more especially than most—with a finely calibrated system to gauge a woman’s readiness. Something—the pheromone density in the air or her posture or the pace of her breathing or some combination of those things or some other primal indicator—wasn’t yet right. One more moment of intimacy, though, and they would both be ready. Instinct guided him to the movie’s moment of consummation.

“When the heroine finds out that he really does love her and wants to marry her—that’s pretty powerful, isn’t it?”

Jake knew immediately that he’d said the wrong thing. Karli shook her head slightly and turned her blue eyes from his. She reached up and took Jake’s hand and the napkin it held from her face.

“Shut up,” she ordered him. “You think I was rooting for that insipid girl?” she asked. “No, Jake, I don’t identify with girls who need men to define them. I was cheering for the reporter. He had finally found his way to a real news job in a real market. He had escaped Des Moines.”





Strong Women are Front and Center in the Newsroom Romance Series

Interviewers often ask me how a man can write romance, as though there is something preposterous about the mere idea. When I remind them that—in hetero romances, at least—half of every couple is a man, that’s often brushed off as an insignificant detail. Romances are for women, after all, aren’t they?

Empathy is the centerpiece of every good fictional experience. Not just empathy for the romantic heroine, either. Readers come to novels to experience the feelings of even the peripheral characters—who doesn’t love a good villain, after all, or the walk-on parts played by memorable character actors? Fiction has meaning for readers because they’re engaged with the characters’ journeys and feelings—as long as they are accessible and truthful to human experience.

The hero in Love. Local. Latebreaking. has a uniquely masculine way of processing grief over the death of his karate student in this passage, which concludes a training session where the class was conducted entirely in silence:

Finally, Sensei Jake seated everyone on the back edge of the mat and then strode to one of the gear lockers. He took a two foot-long polished wooden case with a glass front from the locker and walked to the center of the mat. There he bowed formally to all the students and marched close to where they sat on the back edge of the mat. He placed the box down reverently and so the closest students could see the black belt inside with Darrin’s name embroidered in gold thread. As Sensei Jake turned and went toward an equipment rack, students who could see the belt whispered and gestured to the others what was written upon it.
His back to the class, Sensei Jake took a breath deep into his body and visualized each movement of the bo staff kata he had planned to teach Darrin for the January tournament. Finished, he opened his eyes and took a staff from the rack. He then snapped into rigid martial formality and marched to the front of the mat. He bowed crisply to the class and began the kata. Each time Sensei Jake stepped into one of the kata’s many stances, his legs, hips, and core took on a granite-like stability. Extending from that stillness, his arms propelled the bo staff into a furiously blurring aura of wood. The dojo was no longer silent as the staff’s wood stroked the air into a series of humming vibrations, the canvas of Jake’s uniform snapped, and the hissing of his intensifying breath all communicated the irresistible power he focused into each movement.
The performance transfixed everyone in the studio. Mary Rose sat cross-legged on the edge of the mat, a hand under each knee holding her own toes, her astonished mouth hanging slightly open. Senior students watched with rapt attention. The parents and other guests in the gallery sat forward, leaning in to better focus their attention on the barely contained explosion that was Jake’s performance.
Jake finished the kata with a two-beat pause followed by a powerful final strike and a thunderous yell from deep in his abdomen, karate’s spirit-yell or kiai. Coming after more than an hour’s attention to the subtle sounds of a silent training session, the kiai startled everyone in the studio—on the mat and in the spectator’s gallery alike. Sensei Jake then snapped back to attention, breathing heavily, as the small cries of surprise tapered off. He bowed to the room, took up the polished wooden box and placed it with the bo staff on a table a few feet off the training mat. An open book and a pen rested on the table for people to sign and jot memories of Darrin. He signed the book, paused to regard box and staff for a final silent moment, then walked quickly to his office, closing the door behind him.
The sweaty students left on the mat began to murmur questions about what was going on. They were cut off by the man who’d stood when Sensei Jake walked onto the mat, who held a stern finger to his lips and shushed them. He bowed as he left the training surface and went to the locker room without looking back to see that the others would follow. Some headed straight for the locker room, others went to the table to look at Darrin’s posthumous black belt and to sign the book. Others paused in indecision, then headed for the showers so they could sign without dripping sweat all over the book.
As the mat silently cleared and it became obvious that training was over for the night, one of the parents, who needed to talk to Jake about past-due tuition, knocked on the office door.
Quiet sobs from behind the locked door were the only answer.

Good romances share genuine truths about couples’ attraction, conflicts, and fulfilling love. Even men—heck, even a man who is a lawyer by day—can understand those emotional truths. Putting them into a story that is faithful to genuine life experience is manifestly not only feminine territory. Sylvain Reynard is a personal favorite among many authors who bring their male voices and perspective to truly fantastic romance novels. My ambition is to tell good stories where the male half of the romance is not just a heartthrob of a book-boyfriend but also a genuine contemporary man. Billionaires, kilted Scotsmen, and vulgar pirates with hearts of gold are too far removed from real life to be the kinds of men my heroines are interested in.

My heroines are strong women all, and they are front and center in the Newsroom Romance series. Powerful and brilliant women work in television newsrooms across the country, and television newsrooms are uniquely fertile places to grow attraction and conflict. Broadcast journalists work under intense deadline pressures and under microscopic public scrutiny. The wages are typically bad, so most journalists are trying to do work that’s good enough to propel them to bigger cities where they can cover bigger stories and earn something like a living wage. The competition among colleagues is fierce, but the work requires a huge amount of collaboration, too. Here, our heroine, Karli, encounters both the tension and collaborative energy that pull at the heart of most newsrooms:

The day had been so fraught with different, intense emotions that she didn’t think she could’ve handled one more temperamental coworker. Not only had Jake gone bonkers on her right after the bust, she’d had to coax her news director, producer, and assignment editor into letting her do the follow-up series of reports. Which was crazy, since she had enterprised the whole thing, doing preliminary research on drug-induced homicide, cartels in the midwest, addiction rates, and overdose deaths all in addition to the story and all in a single day.
Well, whatever. This was going to be the series that busted her out of Des Moines and into a real market. She had thought deeply about it, and the stories had all the ingredients: her writing and Jake’s shooting would bring out all the sweeping effects and deep public interest in the state’s—no, the region’s—drug problem, as well as the effects that almost certainly were felt as far away as, say, Chicago. Karli knew where this was headed: straight to a major market.
Karli spent the rest of the newscast going over the printouts of her research and her handwritten notes, making to-do lists and outlines for the upcoming series. As she was wrapping up her work for the day and putting her papers in a folder to be organized later, the newscast ended.
“What the hell do you think you’re up to?” Sophia Refai’s deeply feminine voice rolled across the newsroom like autumn thunder. Karli saw the lean, dark figure striding across the room toward her with less of Sophia’s usual runway-model’s stride and more the march of a uniformed officer about to enforce the law.
Oh, no, thought Karli. I’d forgotten about this angle. She looked around, as though the question must have been directed to someone else. But there was nobody else in the newsroom.
“Yes, you, Karli Lewis. The police beat is MY beat, and I do not appreciate you elbowing your way onto my turf,” Sophia said. Karli could tell that the anchor was only barely in control of her anger. “And I’m glad you’ve started the background on the series. Your research will come in handy as I report those stories.”
Karli was taken aback to see Sophia’s elegantly manicured hand outstretched, palm up, waiting to receive her notes and research. “You can’t have this stuff,” Karli gulped. “This is my work. And Jerry already assigned the series to me.” Karli slid the folder between the chair seat and her rear end, then leaned back and folded her arms.
“We will see who gets the series. But I warn you, stay off my beat, or life here will become very difficult for you.” Sophia turned and marched back to the news set to record the evening’s promos to air during prime-time commercial breaks for the 10 o’clock show.
Mary Rose, returning to the newsroom after putting away the camera and light kit, turned to watch the pacing fury, then turned back to Karli with her eyebrows raised in unspoken question.
“Just a little jealous that I covered a police story without her permission,” Karli said in answer to Mary Rose’s eyebrows.
“Just a little?” Mary Rose asked. “That’s enough that I’d change all my passwords and lock my desk if she was stomping around pissed at me like that.”
Not wanting to show that she’d been intimidated by the anchor’s fury, but grateful for the suggestion, Karli began clicking and typing to change her login password. She looked up at Mary Rose while she was making sure she could remember the new password and said, “I’d invite you out for a drink to celebrate the story, but I have to get my hair done. Maybe tomorrow?”
“That would be fun,” Mary Rose said, grinning while holding her lip-ring between her teeth. After a pause, she let go and said, “I really enjoyed working with you on the edit today and that animation a while ago. I’d like to do more stuff like that, but they always have me stuck in the studio or the control room. Let’s try for tomorrow.”
“Great,” said Karli, gathering her notes and purse and phone and stuffing them into her pack. “See you then.” And she grabbed her diet Dew and headed for the door before Sophia could come back off the set.

 To see Jake and Karli come together, read Love. Local. Latebreaking. They’re characters you’ll come to know and root for through their travails and triumphs. They continue their romance in Traffick Report (already available), where journalists continue their good work and come face-to-face with the powerful figures of the legal system.

Here’s to your happily ever after!

Please reach out to me at hllareau@icloud.com, or connect at my website; FB: Twitter; or Amazon.



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Author Bio and Links:
H. Laurence Lareau fell in love with romances the first time Pride and Prejudice came home from the library with him. Since that high school summer, he has earned an English degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, worked as a television and print journalist, built a career in law, and has remained a Jane Austen junkie through it all.

The Newsroom Romance series draws from his careers, his voracious reading, and his curiosity about the tensions between real life and real love.

Real life now is dramatically different from the real life of Austen’s times—privileged women no longer choose between eligible members of the landed gentry, nor are they imperiled by the sexist mysteries of the entailed fee simple estate in land.

Modern women with the privileges of education rather than birth now embark upon careers that can satisfy many personal and material dreams. Seemingly inevitably, though, careers fall short of the promise that they’ll fulfill women as people.

Strong, modern women have defined Lareau’s professional and personal lives, and strong women fully occupy center stage in their own newsroom romance stories. Their high-profile journalism and legal careers matter deeply to them and to the people they serve.

Then love comes walking in. These book boyfriends don’t have kilts or billions or pirate ships, though. Their career goals meet and often clash with their romantic counterparts, requiring both the men and women to make hard choices about what happily ever after should look like and how to achieve it.

When he isn’t writing, practicing law, or raising children, he’s working on martial arts and music.

Available on Amazon

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