Cover Reveal And Excerpt

Writing temporarily took a backseat recently due to family stuff, but I am pleased to say that I’m starting edits for the third Adventures in Blind Dating book this month, The Fix-Up Mix-Up, and it seemed like a good time to share the cover art and an excerpt with you, right?  Right.

So here goes…

Meet Jenna Owens and Ryan Caldwell:

When the two biggest self-proclaimed matchmakers in town throw down and call each other out, Jenna Owens feels obliged to step in and broker the peace any way she can. After all, one is her mother and the other is her best friend, and quite frankly all of this arguing is giving her a headache. So when they propose a three-week long “match-off” to see who can find the perfect match for the most widely-acknowledged practitioner of social ineptness in the neighborhood, Jenna is just happy that they’ve found a solution—until she realizes that they’re talking about her.

Oops.

Ryan Caldwell isn’t exactly thrilled that the two matchmakers have decided to use his bar and grill as the setting for their little social experiment and appoint him the official neutral third-party, but he has to admit that it’s certainly entertaining—especially when he gets a load of the unlikely candidates that come marching through his doors to woo the reluctant Jenna. If this is matchmaking, he wants no part of it, confirmed bachelor that he is.

Except that somehow intervening in one bad date escalates to the outright rescue of Jenna from another, and from there—well…

So much for staying neutral.

Excerpt

It was a busy night, which was good for business of course, but in some ways it was a welcome reprieve from the activity inside of the dining room and the bustling in the kitchen to step outside with a couple of hefty-sized garbage bags to toss into the dumpster. Ryan did so, pausing afterwards to breathe in the night air and appreciate the quiet for just a moment.

Well, almost quiet. A soft sound came from right around the corner of the building, something that sounded to his ears like a grunt of exertion. An oddly feminine one actually.

Curious, he poked his head around the corner to investigate only to see the top half of Jenna Owens sticking out of the window of the women’s restroom with what looked like a sparkly little purse between her teeth.

He stared at her, incredulous. “What on earth are you doing?”

The sound of his voice made her gasp and jerk in surprise, but she neither withdrew back into the restroom nor climbed the rest of the way out of it. She did, however, drop her purse from her mouth in her surprise, and it landed on the ground in the dirt below her. “Oh—” Recovering from her startle, she gave him a weak smile that had a distinctly sheepish edge to it. “Hey. Um. Fancy meeting you here.”

Frowning, he went closer and picked up her purse to brush it off for her. “Are you climbing out of that window?”

“Uh huh.”

“And are you stuck?”

“Uh huh.”

“You’re kidding me.”

She shook her head.

It didn’t take a huge leap of the imagination to guess what might have driven her to do such a thing. “Date night, huh?”

“Unfortunately, yes.”

“And he’s still in there? Waiting for you to come back?”

He was really only wondering how awful this latest guy must be to have driven her to bolt this way when the others she’d met recently—disagreeable as they were—hadn’t quite pushed her so far, but maybe she thought she heard a note of disapproval in his voice, because she was quick to speak again, defensive. “I was going to text him once I was outside. I was.”

“What did this one do?”

“For starters, he wanted to frisk me.”

Ryan blinked. “Say what?”

“And check my purse for surveillance equipment. But to tell you the truth, I’m not a hundred percent sure if he’s worried more about it being planted by the government or by…” And she pointed one index finger upward toward the sky.

“He thinks he’s being bugged by God?”

“What? No.” She frowned at him as if he was crazy to suggest such a thing. “By aliens, of course.”

Ah, yes. Because that was so much less crazy an idea.

“So excuse me for running off to hide in the ladies’ room, but I guess I just thought it might be nice to get out of here before this guy tried to… ‘beam me up’ or something, I don’t know. If I were Zoe I’m sure I’d have no problem being blunt with the guy and telling him that the date is off and to please go far, far away from me now and forever, but I’m not Zoe, which is why I’m here. Stuck in this window.” She squirmed but seemed just as stuck as before. Sighing, she slumped, which was probably no easy thing to do when halfway out a window the way she was. Certainly not comfortably.

It abruptly struck him as vaguely adorable, and he felt his mouth start to turn up at the corners. She glanced at him again, though, so he headed the smile off at the pass before she could see it for fear she’d be embarrassed; self-consciousness seemed to him to be one of her hallmarks. No, she wasn’t much like her friend Zoe at all, but she seemed to say that like it was a bad thing. Jenna without her own brand of awkward charm? Now that would be a bad thing. To his mind at least.

Bumps On The Road To Love

It’s true that sometimes authors can be a tad sadistic to their characters by throwing obstacles in their paths, and I’m no exception.  But when you’re writing a romantic comedy, you’re supposed to make the road to love less than smooth for the leading man and lady, right?  So that’s what I’m doing with my current project.  And if I’m kind of enjoying that, is that really so wrong?

Mua ha ha…

I’m about 23,000 words into the first draft of my next Adventures in Blind Dating book, and I’m having a lot of fun dreaming up “bad date” ideas for my main character.  Have you ever googled “bad blind date stories”?  I have, and wow there are some doozies out there. Great fodder for the writer’s imagination.  And as I was using my imagination again today to write up my character Jenna’s latest dating disaster, I was reminded of a certain episode of Everybody Loves Raymond in which big brother Robert thinks his latest date might be “the one.”  If you haven’t seen it, check out the clip below.  Spoiler alert:  she most definitely is NOT “the one.”

At least I spared Jenna from frogs.  Well… so far, anyway.  🙂

Plugging Away On Ye Old WIP…

WIP.  That’s “work in progress” for you folks who aren’t familiar with the term.  For writers, I think that term conjures up feelings of both pleasure and dread.  Pleasure because when you’re in the writer zone and are excited about your project and writing in general and the world is a happy place, you jump to work on your WIP every chance you get and hurry back to it whenever something silly like, I don’t know, eating or sleeping or the need for basic hygiene practices pulls you away from it.

But it also can inspire dread because when you aren’t in the zone, your WIP seems to loom over you as you stare at the (sometimes) blank screen in front of you, begging your muse to quit toying with you and start musing already or whatever it is muses are supposed to do.  That’s when things like deadlines and release dates haunt your dreams, and staggering insecurities eat away at you as your level of productivity goes down the toilet.  And when kindly and supportive people ask you, “How’s the writing going?” you do your best to give a cheerfully confident thumbs-up and hope they can’t tell that you’re so tense that every single muscle in your body is contracted around the clock along with a few things in your body that aren’t even supposed to be capable of contracting.  Like your spleen, or maybe your hair.

Ah, thank goodness for chocolate…

But contracting muscles or no, I’m currently 10,000 words into my next WIP and still plugging away.  It’s a little harder to stay focused now that the weather is turning nicer and things in the yard seem to be calling out for attention.  Fortunately, I have an ace up my sleeve in the form of a serious aversion to yard work and manual labor in general, so… ha! Nice try, dandelions, but you won’t get me outside that easily!  At least until the neighbors come calling with pitchforks and torches to demand that we do something about the weeds in our front yard, at which point I will pluck up a bit of dandelion fluff on a stem and say, “These aren’t weeds, they’re wishes.”  And blow.  I foresee that plan working out great

I’ll leave you with the book blurb for my WIP, The Fix-Up Mix-Up:

When the two biggest self-proclaimed matchmakers in town throw down and call each other out, Jenna Owens feels obliged to step in and broker the peace any way she can. After all, one is her mother and the other is her best friend, and quite frankly all of this arguing is giving her a headache. So when they propose a three-week long “match-off” to see who can find the perfect match for the most widely-acknowledged practitioner of social ineptness in the neighborhood, Jenna is just happy that they’ve found a solution—until she realizes that they’re talking about her.

Oops.

Ryan Caldwell isn’t exactly thrilled that the two matchmakers have decided to use his bar and grill as the setting for their little social experiment and appoint him the official neutral third-party, but he has to admit that it’s certainly entertaining—especially when he gets a load of the unlikely candidates that come marching through his doors to woo the reluctant Jenna. If this is matchmaking, he wants no part of it, confirmed bachelor that he is.

Except that somehow intervening in one bad date escalates to the outright rescue of Jenna from another, and from there—well…

So much for staying neutral.

Release Day!

It’s officially Release Day for my new romantic comedy, Center Stage (Adventures in Blind Dating Book Two)–Yay!  There will be much celebrating around here, and possibly chocolate.  ‘Tis the season for Cadbury Cream Eggs after all…

If you’d like to check out the book–and possibly pick yourself up a copy, you can do that by clicking on the link below:

Center Stage: (Adventures in Blind Dating Book Two)

I’m also celebrating Release Day by putting the first book in the series–It Happened One Night–on sale as a Kindle Countdown Deal through April 6th:  99 cents!  So if you haven’t read that one but would like to, this week is a great chance to grab a copy at a discounted price.  Click on the link below to find the book on Amazon:

It Happened One Night: (Adventures in Blind Dating Book One)

And now I’m off to get back to work on Book Three…

Have a great day!

“Hoo-ga” Kind Of Girl

This winter I’ve been reading up on something the Danish call hygge (pronounced  hoo-guh or hoo-ga, or something along those lines–my Danish is a little rusty), and it just seems like exactly the sort of thing that would appeal to a lot of readers (and writers). Especially during cold and grey weather, which is why I’m sharing it with you now.

Hygge is all about an appreciation–or maybe even a celebration–of all things cozy and homey, usually simple pleasures instead of fancy ones.  Things like cups of hot cocoa or tea; a slice of freshly-baked bread or even just the smell of it filling the air while it’s baking; warm, fuzzy socks and blankets; fresh flowers; beautiful music; maybe a pot of homemade soup simmering away on the stove…  And candles.  Definitely candles and all of that lovely, flickering light.

If all those things aren’t conducive to curling up in a comfy spot with a good book, I don’t know what is.  And according to the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen (yes, that’s a real institute), an appreciation of these kinds of simple pleasures are also a key ingredient to one’s level of contentment with life, and since the Danish are commonly acknowledged as the happiest people on the planet, maybe this whole hygge thing is worth a look-see, eh?

I just finished reading and would happily recommend Meik Wiking’s The Little Book of Hygge as a way to learn more about the subject:

It’s a nice introduction to the whole idea, and I enjoyed curling up with it even without the lit candles or hot cocoa.  One of my favorite things in it was the idea of creating a Hygge Emergency Kit for those stressful times when you–or someone you know–is in desperate need of a little soothing relaxation.  Books, candles, chocolate, your favorite tea–or maybe something more like a bag of microwave popcorn and a favorite film, who knows?  The beauty of it is that you can tailor it to your own preferences and pull it out some time when you’re feeling tired or low or just in the mood for solitude.  Wouldn’t that make a great gift idea?  Incidentally–ahem–my birthday is coming up…

Another book I enjoyed on the same subject is The Cozy Life:

Either one makes for a good read, and at least now you know what “hygge” means in case it ever comes up on Jeopardy.  You’re welcome.

Hope you enjoy these last few days of winter 2017–Stay cozy!

And We’re Up And Running

Just a short and sweet blog post today because I’ve spent so much time on my computer lately that my eyeballs literally hurt and I need to rest them.  And possibly slap an icepack on them or something, although it’s going to be kind of interesting trying to explain to the doctor how I got freezer-burn on my eyeballs.

 

Anyway, before my eyes go on strike, I just wanted to share the preorder link on Amazon for Center Stage, which now has the official release date of March 21st.

Woo hoo!  (Blink, blink…)

Now off to look for that ice pack…

Cover Reveal For New Release–And Excerpt

Hey, there!  It’s time for the official cover reveal for the second book in my Adventures in Blind Dating romantic comedy series:  Center Stage.  I’m pleased to share it with you along with this book blurb:

When financially-strapped actor J.J. McKinney responds to an unusual Help Wanted ad on the bulletin board outside his theater class, he has no idea that he’s in for an evening of improv like no other: posing as the hitherto fabricated boyfriend of one Erika Mills for the duration of a single family reunion. But hey, a job is a job, and if it will help get J.J. back in the good graces of his landlord, he’s completely on board. After all, how bad can one family reunion possibly be?

Enter Erika Mills: only child of one meddling mother, reluctant darling of several devoted yet squabbling aunts and uncles who are sure they know what’s best for her even if none of them can agree on what that is, and beloved grandchild of the tiny white-haired family matriarch who might just be more imp than invalid when it comes to managing family matters in spite of appearances to the contrary.

Throw in a suspicious cousin, an obnoxious ex-boyfriend who is determined to erase that whole “ex” thing from Erika’s vocabulary, and a rash deathbed promise that turned out to be less deathbed and more just a bad case of indigestion, and you get the reunion from hell—at least until the sparks begin to fly for real.

It ain’t Off-Broadway, but it still might turn out to be the role of a lifetime…

Is it my imagination, or does the guy on the cover look a little like Michael Bublé?  Maybe I should have made the hero a singer instead of an actor.  Or maybe I need to get my eyes checked, but anyway…

Click here to read the opening excerpt.

The book should up for sale on Amazon later this month if edits go well, and next month I should have details for you about the third book in the series.

Until then… hope your March is off to a great start.  🙂

For Cozy Reading…

This time of year with its–usually–cool and grey weather always puts me in the mood to curl up somewhere cozy with a good book.  (Or the mood to do my darnedest to write one, but that’s another matter…)  I don’t have a reading nook per se, but I’ve been seeing pictures of wonderfully cozy looking spots online that make me think it might be worth my while to create one, know what I mean?

Even if I can’t quite squeeze designing the perfect reading spot into my budget or my schedule–apparently housework doesn’t do itself, and I know this because I’ve done extensive personal research on the subject with disappointing results save for the possibility that the extra dust and cobwebs on windows may have provided an extra SPF factor–it’s fun sometimes to just take a look at what others have created and shared online and maybe dream a little bit.

And since every reading space starts with the perfect comfy place to sit, here is a cute article pairing an assortment of unique seating ideas with the perfect books to read with them, courtesy of Brit Co.  Click here to take a look, and who knows?  Maybe something will spark your imagination…

Enjoy!

Some Say It’s The REAL Holiday…

I saw this image on a Facebook post this morning, and I briefly toyed with the idea of hotfooting it down to the local grocery store to take advantaged of such rumored prices. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t or else instead of typing this blog post I’d be lying passed out on my couch in a chocolate-induced food coma with chocolaty evidence of my indulgence smeared all over my hands and face.

Valentine’s Day was mostly chocolate-free around here actually–hubby and I decided to stay in instead of going out, and we whipped up a roasted chicken with caramelized root vegetables that turned out to be melt-in-your-mouth delicious; who needs chocolate?  Our thanks to the Food Network, and if you’d like to try this simple yet scrumptious recipe for yourself, visit the link here.

In addition to experimenting in the kitchen, I’ve been experimenting with the written word as I work on the next book in my romantic comedy Adventures in Blind Dating series which is long overdue.  You remember the first one, right?  Here’s a picture to jog your memory:

Amazon

So yep, Book Two (Center Stage) is currently in the works and Book Three (The Fix-Up Mix-Up) isn’t far behind.  I’m happy to say that I should have cover art in a couple of weeks to show you for Book Two, and I hope to release it next month.  Fingers crossed…

In the meantime, here are pics from our Valentine’s Day featuring hubby modeling his favorite apron while he minces garlic; the finished chicken product; and the table that we set as prettily as possible but that is in reality usually covered in mail, books, and other assorted “stuff.”  So you see, I HAD to take a picture to document THAT…

Hubby acting as hand model–what a way with mincing!–GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Yum…  — GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Doesn’t look quite this pretty today, but it was fun while it lasted…  –GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Hope you had a great Valentine’s Day as well, and if you want to grab yourself some of that 70%-off candy, you’d better hurry before it gets switched out for the Easter sweets–

Oops, too late.  Dang, those grocery store stock boys work fast!  Well, enjoy those Cadbury cream eggs…