Cover Art Makeover

Just wanted to let you know that my Heavenly Bites novella series is getting a makeover of sorts with brand new covers–and I’m SO pleased with the new ones.  Hopefully you like them, too, and since I don’t want anybody to mistake them for entirely new books and buy them without realizing that–maybe–they already own them, here’s a reminder of the old:

D1t5pESyb5S._AA160_.png

And here are the new ones, starting with Pastels and Jingle Bells:

PastelsandJingleBells2016 200x300

Followed by Love Lessons:

LoveLessons2016B 200x300

And, finally, Playing Cupid:

PlayingCupid2016 200x300

There.  Whew!  If all goes well, they will be uploaded to ebook retailers soon, and if all doesn’t go well, then… I’ll probably start twitching, but never mind that.

Also wanted to share the book blurb for the newest contemporary novel I’m working on right now, tentatively titled The Encore:

When Jane married her college sweetheart and the love of her life, she never dreamed she would lose him to leukemia before either of them reached forty. A year later, she’s struggling to move on and create a new life for herself, a second act that she never expected to have to follow the first. Picking up the pieces is hard enough—it’s even harder when those closest to her don’t understand or support the way she’s trying to put them back together again.

But while the curtain may have come down on the life she originally had planned, life itself certainly isn’t finished with her yet.

And neither, as it turns out, is her heart.

And that’s all the latest news around here, at least writing related.  Hope you’re having a great February–remember, next month’s spring!  🙂

Welcome Back To The Fetal Position

For those of you who don’t already know, my go-to position whenever I have to tackle formatting issues for my ebooks is the fetal position.  A true classic, it really seems to lend itself to that particular activity and comes quite naturally to me in times of technology-induced stress.  It sure did this weekend!

Hard to type that way, though…

But anyway, I soldiered on because I’m hoping to make my books available on more than just Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and what’s cool about Smashwords is that an author can upload a manuscript to the Smashwords site, and then Smashwords will churn out appropriate digital versions that meet the technical requirements for a lot of online book vendors.  Like iTunes, Kobo, etc.  The only thing the author has to do is format his or her manuscript to Smashwords specifications.  Piece of cake, right?

Dang, my body almost went into “fetal lockdown mode” just at the memory.

But my books appear to have made it through the first phase of the approval process, the automated part; now I just have to wait for an actual human being to tell me if I screwed anything up.  Could take several days.  I predict much chocolate and ice cream will be consumed during that waiting period.  By me, at least.  I don’t know about the folks at Smashwords.

But while there’s a lot of stress involved with this particular side of writing sometimes, it’s alleviated a little bit when one wakes up to see a review like the one I got this morning from my first Smashwords sale:

PlayingCupid 200x300

“I came across this book by chance and found the description intriguing. After enjoying the sample, I quickly purchased the entire story. Being a writer myself, it usually takes a lot to pull me away from my own work, but Playing Cupid did so with surprising ease…”

For those of you who would like to read the entire review (I’m talking mostly to my mother here, I know), click here.

And now I’m off to find chocolate…

Cover Reveal (Or, My Babies Are Growing Up)

An author’s books are sort of like her babies, and I love to coo over my babies as much as the next proud mama.  I haven’t started carrying photographs of my books around in my wallet yet, but that may not be far off…

Today I’m cooing a bit because my three Heavenly Bites novellas that have previously only been available as either Kindle or Nook ebooks are going to be available in paperback shortly, knock on wood.  Not as three individual paperbacks–because as novellas they would be pretty skinny and might wind up getting used as coasters more than as reading material–but as a collection.

So these three babies:

PastelsandJingleBells 200x300-1     LoveLessons 200x300     PlayingCupid 200x300

will soon be available in paperback with this cover:

HeavenlyBitesPrintSCALED-2

I’m expecting a proof copy in the mail any day now, and if everything looks hunky-dory, this baby will be up on Amazon soon afterwards.  Can’t wait to hold a copy in my hot little hands!

Yep, I’m a proud mama.  🙂

Time To Introduce My Little Darling To The World–Or, Promo

PlayingCupid 200x300

Sure, Playing Cupid went live on Amazon and Barnes & Noble last week, but I was so busy writing it that I got a late start on lining up some promo for it (oops–heh heh…), but, hey–better late than never.  Besides, it’s a Valentine’s Day story, so I figure February is a good time to get a semi-official blog tour going, right?  Right.

Thank you to the bloggers and reviewers who very kindly squeezed me into their reading and/or blog schedules!  There are spotlights, excerpts, giveaways, and even a few reviews on tap.  Here’s what’s planned–and the first stop is actually still in January, so I’m feeling more on-the-ball by the minute:

January 31:  Romance & Beyond

February 3:  Le Book Squirrel

February 4:  My Recent Favorite Books

February 6:  Musings From An Addicted Reader; Lisa Is A Bookworm

February 7:  Read Your Writes Book Reviews; Zemfirka Blogs; Because Reading Is Better Than Real Life

February 8:  Toot’s Book Reviews; Aleksandra’s Corner

February 10:  Bookworm Brandee

February 14:  Rookie Romance; Paperbacks and Pastries; Getting Your Read On

February 24:  Lusty Penguin Reviews

Plus Tome Tender and A Novel Review Blog are going to try to schedule something in February, too, but I don’t have dates yet.  And thank you to those of you who have already left reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads.  It is much appreciated!  🙂

Guess What’s Finally Out?

And by that I mean both my third Heavenly Bites novella, Playing Cupid, and myself because I finally got to emerge from my writing cave and see the sun again!  Well, in theory.  It’s pretty foggy here.

PlayingCupid 200x300

But anyway… Playing Cupid is finally out on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble!  Yay!  So if you feel like getting an early start on celebrating Valentine’s Day this year, give it a read.  And if you don’t feel like celebrating early, you could give it a read anyway.  Maybe you’ll change your mind.  🙂

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

Another Release Day On The Horizon–And An Excerpt

PlayingCupid 200x300

Well, the third novella in my Heavenly Bites series should be up and running on Amazon and Barnes & Noble by the end of January, which is appropriate considering it’s a Valentine’s Day story, right?  While I’m getting things ready to go, I thought I’d share the first couple of scenes with you, so here’s the book blurb to give you some context:

Playing Cupid:

Much as she loves her meddling matchmaker of a grandmother, free-spirited Aimee Beasley is tired of dodging the dull and downright tiresome dates the older woman keeps trying to arrange for her.  So when she notices her beloved Gran preening in the presence of a distinguished elderly gentleman who’s been visiting their apartment building, Aimee is delighted at the prospect of turning the tables on her.

But her plans to match her grandmother up with the gentleman in time for Valentine’s Day hit a snag when Aimee realizes he’s the uncle of their downstairs neighbor, a stodgy thirty-something history professor named Doyle with whom she butts heads on a regular basis.  She’ll need to find a way to make nice and enlist his help, or her plan to see her long-widowed Gran happily matched again will never work.

For Gran’s sake, she’s determined to find a way.  In the process, she starts to realize that her cranky downstairs neighbor has a softer side she never suspected existed. 

And when it comes to romantic heroes, history professors may not have gotten a fair shake…

And here we go:

Playing Cupid: Opening Excerpt

            Aimee Beasley held the door open to their apartment building’s lobby for her beloved and bespectacled Gram as the older woman listed the many wonderful qualities possessed by her pharmacist, starting with his full head of hair and ending with his detailed knowledge of the common side effects of every medication known to humankind.  It was a surprisingly long list, so either Gram had spent a great deal of time compiling it, or she had simply made half of it up.  Either way, her dedication to her cause was admirable.

“So?” said Gram, expectant and finally pausing to draw breath as she peered at her granddaughter through tortoiseshell glasses that seemed to dwarf her face.

Aimee shook her head.

“But he’s such a nice young man—“ her grandmother protested.

“Nope.”

“I’m sure the two of you would have a lovely time getting to know each other.”

“Nope.”  This was becoming an all too familiar conversation between them, and it was usually sparked by whatever “suitable” prospect had happened to catch Aimee’s matchmaking grandmother’s eye most recently.  Today, of course, it had been her pharmacist, a man who Aimee was quite sure had as little interest in dating her as she did in going out with him.

Gram held a quivering hand to her heart and sighed dramatically.

“Nice try, Gram,” Aimee said patiently, unperturbed and shifting the bag of groceries she carried to one hand so she could dig in her pocket for her keys with the other.  “You know that won’t work on me.”

The older woman scowled, but the quiver in her hand abruptly disappeared.

“I don’t know why you insist upon turning down every young man I find for you.  I’d appreciate it if you’d keep an open mind about this sort of thing, Aimee.”

“And I’d appreciate it if you’d stop trying to pimp me out.”  Aimee finally

found her keys and pulled them out to shove the right one into their mailbox.

Pulling out the handful of envelopes and flyers inside, she closed it again and led the way to the elevator.

“But, dear, my pharmacist is really very charming.”

“Then you go out with him.”

Gram frowned at Aimee again and took the mail from her so Aimee could better balance the groceries.  “He’s barely thirty.”

Aimee let out a wolf whistle.  “My Gram, the cougar!”

“The what?”

The elevator opened, and both women stepped inside.  “It’s an older woman who likes to play with young boy-toys, Gram.  But if you do decide to bring your pharmacist home with you one day, do me a favor and put a sock on the door or something so I know not to go barging in, okay?”

“Young lady—“ Gram began, sputtering at her granddaughter as the elevator carried them up to the fourth floor.

Aimee gave her a cheeky grin.

The older woman’s eyes narrowed, and she recovered her composure.  “Don’t think I’ll give up that easily.  I’ve got plenty of time on my hands and little else to do besides think about these kinds of things, you know.”

“Bring it, lady,” Aimee returned, and then planted an affectionate kiss on top of the other woman’s headful of white curls as the elevator doors opened.  “So, turkey or tuna today?” she asked as they reached their apartment door and she juggled keys and groceries again.

“Tuna.”

“Melt or mayo?”

“Melt, I think,” Gram decided, following Aimee into the apartment.  “With the cheddar, if you don’t mind.”

“Cheddar it is.  Give me five minutes to put this stuff away, and I’ll fix it.”

“Oh, dear…”

“Okay, three minutes.”  Aimee pulled open the refrigerator door and began stuffing groceries inside.  “Are you really that hungry?”

“What?  Oh no, it’s not that.”  Gram waved an envelope.  “It appears we’ve gotten another piece of Mr. Berkley’s mail mixed in with ours again.  Fifth time this month, I think.”

Aimee twitched at the sound of his name.  Actually, it was the sixth time this month.  Not all that shocking considering D. Berkley lived in apartment three-twelve and D. Beasley lived in four-twelve, but it was unfortunate all the same, because each time it meant Aimee had to go downstairs, knock on Doyle Berkley’s door, and then—she grimaced—speak to the man.  Judging by the expression on his face every time he opened the door and saw her standing there, he enjoyed these little mail exchanges about as much as she did.

But this particular piece of mail didn’t look all that thick.  Maybe she could shove it under the door and make a break for it.  Sort of like pulling the pin from a grenade and then running.

“Dear, would you mind…?”  Gram held the letter out to her.

“Sure, Gram,” Aimee agreed, forcing a smile as she took it and turned to go.

“Wait—here, take some scones,” her grandma said, hastily reaching into the

grocery bag for the pastries they’d picked up at the bakery minutes earlier and arranging some on a small plate.  “It’s the polite thing to do when calling on a neighbor.”

So much for shoving the mail under the door.  “I’m not ‘calling’ on him—“

“Manners, Aimee.  You can’t go empty-handed.”

“I’m not empty-handed.  I’ve got his mail.”

But her grandma thrust the plate of scones at her anyway.  “Good neighbors are hard to come by, and Mr. Berkley is a good neighbor.”

Aimee snorted.

“He is!  He’s been very helpful to me in the past.  I don’t know why you dislike him so.”

“Because he walks around like he’s got a stick up his—“
“Aimee Elizabeth Beasley!”

“I was going to say backside,” Aimee returned piously.

“No, you were not.”

No, she wasn’t, but all Aimee said in response was, “Be back in a minute,” and then she slipped back out the door.

* * *

            The third floor was virtually identical to the fourth, and both showed their

age.  The pinstripe wallpaper must have been an update from whatever had covered the walls originally, but it was well-faded now itself, and the plain brown carpet in the hallways was worn so thin that it hardly looked like carpet anymore.  No, the Belmont was not exactly the most cutting edge when it came to apartment complexes, although it might have been fifty years ago when it was first built.  It was, however, the place where Ms. Delia Beasley had lived quite happily for the past three decades, and she had made it quite clear that she had no intention of moving.

Naturally, her son—Aimee’s father—was less than thrilled about his elderly and widowed mother living on her own, and the difference of opinion had caused no small amount of tension between the two.  Tensions had continued to rise until one day Aimee had taken matters into her own hands and simply suggested she move in with her grandmother, split the expenses down the middle, and voilà—everybody’s problems had been solved.

Well, except for the mail delivery, she thought as she approached apartment three-twelve.

Aimee raised her hand that held the envelope in order to rap on the door, and then the plate of scones wobbled in her other hand.  Reacting on impulse, she shoved the piece of mail between her teeth so she could rescue falling scones and grab the plate with both hands—which was, of course, precisely the moment when Doyle opened his front door.

Doyle Berkley always seemed to have an aura of grimness about him, and today was no exception.  True, he lightened up somewhat when speaking with Gram if they happened to pass each other in the lobby, but even then Aimee didn’t think she could exactly call him cheerful.  Only less grim.  Dark hair and shadows under his eyes did nothing to combat the somberness of his overall aspect, and he gave the impression of a man who did not care much for the company of others.

Likely as not it came from spending all his time with history books instead of

living, breathing people.  Memorizing dates and details about wars throughout the centuries—and then forcing university students to regurgitate them—couldn’t be healthy for anyone.  Which was probably why Aimee had flunked history in high school; it was on principle.

They stared at each other for a moment, Doyle’s grey eyes cool as they narrowed and took in the young woman standing on his doorstep with the envelope between her teeth.

“We got some more of your mail,” Aimee said matter-of-factly around the

edges of the item in question, the words slightly garbled because of the obstruction.

“So I see,” Doyle returned, reaching for the envelope and eyeing the faint teeth marks on it with obvious displeasure.  “And you decided to eat it?”

“In my defense,” said Aimee. “It is lunchtime.”

She got no response, not even a twitch of an eyelid.

Had this guy ever been fun?  He couldn’t be past his mid-thirties, and yet more often than not it seemed like he was channeling his inner curmudgeon.  “Oh, come on.  Lighten up.  It wouldn’t kill you, would it?”

He said nothing, but she could have sworn his eyes narrowed even further, if that was possible.

“Brr.  Did you feel that?”  She made an exaggerated shiver.  “I think the temperature in this hallway just dropped by about thirty degrees.  Happens every time I come by here.  How do you do that?”

“Thank you for my mail.  Are we done here?”

“Almost.”  Aimee thrust the plate of scones at him.  “These are from Gram.  She insisted.”

For a moment she thought his cool exterior thawed.  “Please thank her for me.”

“I will.”

“Good.”

“Okay, now we’re done here.”

Without another word, Doyle closed his door, leaving Aimee alone in the

hallway.

“Ah, there we go,” Aimee said aloud as she turned to go.  “Warmer in here

already.”

So… there you have it!  🙂  What do you think?

The Things You Learn When Researching For A Story…

Part of the writer’s life includes researching all kinds of things for stories, from whether or not something besides a carbon-based life form could potentially exist on other worlds to zoning ordinances in Peoria, Illinois.  (Now if only I could figure out a way to combine BOTH of those things in one story, I’d really be onto something….)

Well, for Playing Cupid–the third Heavenly Bites novella–one of my characters is a history professor with a deep love for that particular subject matter, so I did a little research to see what kind of historical figures he might find particularly interesting or inspiring.  And that’s when I stumbled onto a man named Witold Pilecki.

I had never heard of him before, and maybe you haven’t either.  If you haven’t, he is apparently the only known person to voluntarily enter Auschwitz during World War II.  He was a Polish army captain who suspected something awful was happening inside the camp–at the time people believed it was just a POW camp–and he decided to get himself arrested and thrown into the camp in order to smuggle out intelligence.  For two and a half years, that’s exactly what he did, opening the eyes of outsiders to the real horrors going on inside of Auschwitz.  He even hoped to organize a mass escape but was unable to get the support he needed, and then finally–suspecting his death was imminent–he was forced to make his escape.

I’m sure he had his flaws like the rest of us, but I was floored by his story.  And then I read further and discovered the sad reason why I, and probably many others, had never heard of him.  There are several articles about him online, and if you’d like to read a little more about him, here’s a link to an article on www.npr.org called Meet The Man Who Sneaked Into Auschwitz.

Kind of makes me wonder how many other incredible real-life stories are out there that few people–if any–know about…

Take A Deep Breath…Maybe Two

Do you ever get the feeling that your to-do list is somehow taking on a life of its own, growing and changing whenever you turn your back on it to the point where you lie awake thinking about it at night, and you get the feeling that if one more thing is added to it you will bare your teeth and start snarling like a rabid animal that’s been cornered, and people you know will start to back away from you slowly?

(Hey, I saw that!  You’re backing away from me slowly, aren’t you?  And now you’re speeding up…)

Or maybe you’ve noticed that every muscle in your body has apparently reached a state of perpetual tension in which you’ll either benefit from some truly AMAZING isometric toning or else something will just finally go sproing and you’ll flop over like a marionette that just got its strings snipped?

If you poked me right now, I’d probably go sproing.  How about you?  I know there’s some sort of saying about how it’s the pressure on the lump of coal that turns it into a diamond, but one has to be careful about offering up adages like that to people who are really stressed out, because it’s a good way for one to find oneself gagged and duct-taped to the wall for use as a human dartboard.

I kid, I kid… Sort of…

I’m feeling the pinch of deadlines and responsibilities right now, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.  There are friends whose face I haven’t seen in a long time because I’ve been in the depths of my writer’s cave for quite a while–Hi, guys!  Miss you!  My hubby thinks my laptop is some sort of new appendage I’ve sprouted, and my dog keeps trying to bat the laptop off of my lap so she can sit there instead.

I’m trying to come up for air once in a while so my family and friends will remember what I look like.  It’s quite the juggling act, and I’ll bet you’re juggling quite a few things, too; if you’ve got any tips on how to maintain one’s sanity, I’d welcome them!  And I promise I won’t touch the duct tape.

In the meantime, I’m going to get back to work on Playing Cupid.  Fingers crossed about that isometric toning!

Valentine’s Day Sampling

Happy Monday!  Today I’m working on my Valentine’s Day novella, Playing Cupid, and I thought I’d share the opening excerpt with you even if it is a few months early.  🙂

PlayingCupid 200x300

Aimee Beasley held the door open to their apartment building’s lobby for her beloved and bespectacled Gram and shook her head cheerfully as the older woman listed the many wonderful qualities possessed by her pharmacist, starting with his full head of hair and ending with his detailed knowledge of the common side effects of every medication known to humankind.

“But he’s such a nice young man—“ her grandmother protested.

“Nope.”

“I’m sure the two of you would have a lovely time getting to know each other.”

“Nope.”

Gram held a quivering hand to her heart and sighed dramatically.

“Knock it off, Gram,” Aimee said, unperturbed and shifting the bag of groceries she carried to one hand so she could dig in her pocket for her keys with the other.  “You know that won’t work on me.”

The older woman scowled, but the quiver in her hand abruptly disappeared.  “I don’t know why you insist upon turning down every young man I find for you.  I’d appreciate it if you’d keep an open mind about this sort of thing, Aimee.”

“And I’d appreciate it if you’d stop trying to pimp me out.”  Aimee finally

found her keys and pulled them out to shove the right one into their mailbox.

Pulling out the handful of envelopes and flyers inside, she closed it again and led the way to the elevator.

“But, dear, my pharmacist is really very charming.”

“Then you go out with him.”

Gram frowned at Aimee again and took the mail from her so Aimee could better balance the groceries.  “He’s barely thirty.”

Aimee let out a wolf whistle.  “My grandma, the cougar!”

“The what?”

The elevator opened, and both women stepped inside.  “It’s an older woman who likes to play with young boy-toys, Gram.  But if you do decide to bring your pharmacist home with you one day, do me a favor and put a sock on the door or something so I know not to go barging in, okay?”

“Young lady—“ Gram began, sputtering at her granddaughter as the elevator carried them up to the fourth floor.

Aimee grinned at her.

The older woman recovered her composure.  “Don’t think I’ll give up that easily.  I’ve got plenty of time on my hands and little else to do besides think about these kinds of things, you know.”

“Bring it, lady,” Aimee returned, and then planted a kiss on top of the other woman’s headful of white curls as the elevator doors opened.  “So, turkey or tuna today?” she asked as they reached their apartment door and she juggled keys and groceries again.

“Tuna.”

“Melt or mayo?”

“Melt, I think,” Gram decided, following Aimee into the apartment.  “With the cheddar, if you don’t mind.”

“Cheddar it is.  Give me five minutes to put this stuff away, and I’ll fix it.”

“Oh, dear…”

“Okay, three minutes.”  Aimee pulled open the refrigerator door and began stuffing groceries inside.  “Are you really that hungry?”

“What?  Oh no, it’s not that.”  Gram waved an envelope.  “It appears we’ve gotten another piece of Mr. Berkley’s mail mixed in with ours again.  Fifth time this month, I think.”

Aimee twitched at the sound of his name.  Actually, it was the sixth time this month.  Not all that shocking considering D. Berkley lived in apartment three-twelve and D. Beasley lived in four-twelve, but it was unfortunate all the same, because each time it meant Aimee had to go downstairs, knock on Doyle Berkley’s door, and then—she grimaced—actually speak to him.  Judging by the expression on his face every time he opened the door and saw her standing there, he enjoyed these little mail exchanges about as much as she did.

But this particular piece of mail didn’t look all that thick.  Maybe she could shove it under the door and make a break for it.  Sort of like pulling the pin from a grenade and then running.

“Dear, would you mind…?”  Gram held the letter out to her.

“Sure, Gram,” Aimee agreed, taking it and turning to go.

“Wait—here, take some scones,” her grandma said, hastily reaching into the

grocery bag for the pastries they’d picked up at the bakery minutes earlier and arranging some on a small plate.  “It’s the polite thing to do when calling on a neighbor.”

“I’m not calling on him—“

“Manners, Aimee.  You can’t go empty-handed.”

“I’m not empty-handed.  I’ve got his mail.”

But her grandma thrust the plate of scones at her anyway.  “Good neighbors are hard to come by, and Mr. Berkley is a good neighbor.”

Aimee snorted.

“He is!  He’s been very helpful to me in the past.  I don’t know why you dislike him so.”

“Because he walks around like he’s got a stick up his—“
“Aimee Elizabeth Beasley!”

“I was going to say backside,” Aimee returned piously.

“No, you were not.”

No, she wasn’t, but all Aimee said in response was, “Be back in a minute,” and then she slipped back out the door…

* * *

It’s still a work-in-progress, but…what do you think?

3rd Novella Cover Art Reveal

Today I got the cover art for the third of my three holiday novellas, the Heavenly Bites series.  This one is called Playing Cupid, and–naturally–it’s a Ground Hog Day romance.  Okay, it’s actually a Valentine’s Day romance, but you have to admit there aren’t nearly enough Ground Hog Day romances out there!

So…here are all three covers together:

PastelsandJingleBells 200x300-1     LoveLessons 200x300     PlayingCupid 200x300

What do you think?