Friday Featured Artist: Debra Holt


Today’s spotlight is on  Debra Holt and her contemporary western romance, Under Texas Blue Skies.

Rating: PG for some kissing

AC_UnderTexasBlueSkies_500x750Blurb:

J.D. Sterling, country music’s sexy superstar, has come home again.  He has achieved his wildest dreams and did what he set out to do when he shook the dirt of the small Texas town from his boot heels a dozen years before. Now, he’s returned for the final piece of the puzzle to completing his life….the girl who holds his heart.  Mandy.

Amanda Lawson has grown up.  From sheer heartbreak to struggling to survive to becoming a shrewd businesswoman, she has taught herself to never look back.  She survived once before the wild, green-eyed cowboy with only a guitar to his name and a pocketful of dreams.  He took her heart and so much more when he left her behind with his hollow vows.

Mandy was his muse…J.D. was her dream.  Despite tragedy, can they find their way home to each other again?

Excerpt:

J.D. Sterling’s heartbeats were thumping loud as a bass drum at the sight of the red sedan as it pulled into the circular driveway, stopping just behind the other realtor’s Hummer. He had purposely seated himself in a corner of the wide porch, away from the glare of the noonday sun, where climbing vines and shade would enable him to be concealed from the woman’s line of sight. He didn’t want her to know he was there, at least not right away. J.D. needed to see her first, to get his feet under him. At least, that’s the excuse he’d given himself. For someone who always planted his feet solidly in the middle of any situation, this was one time the spotlight was not what he sought. His pulses were racing as he saw the driver’s door swing open, and two slender ankles encased in gray high heels became visible as they touched the ground.

The woman stood up, one hand pushed her sunglasses further up on the bridge of her nose, and then she closed the car door behind her. She slung the straps of her leather bag over her shoulder and moved around the hood of the car, her heels making soft crunching sounds on the pea gravel along the drive. In the early afternoon stillness of the ranch, those sounds seemed to be amplified.

The eyes in the shadows drank in the features of the woman as she moved toward the house. Nowhere in sight was the country girl he had last seen. The vision that approached was confident in her stride, her head up and shoulders resolute. The girl he used to know was just short of being painfully shy and always hesitant to stand out of any crowd. Sunglasses concealed her eyes from view so he couldn’t see if they were still the amazingly vivid blue he remembered and had even immortalized in song once. They had filled his dreams on many a night and gotten him through some really hard times. It was those eyes he would see when he closed his own as he sang across the bright lights into the dark recesses of some huge arena, packed with screaming fans and loud music. He would sing to the girl in his dreams… the one he had left behind but never left out of his heart.

“Hello, Mandy,” he spoke softly from the shadows.

Amanda’s head swung in its direction. Her eyes sought to focus on the tall figure that stepped from darkness into light. She went to take a quick breath but found she couldn’t. In fact, for some reason, the light was receding, and the darkness was swallowing them all up.

 Available through:

Amazon:  http://amzn.to/UBdP9B

B & N:  http://bit.ly/1pJomHU

Smashwords: http://bit.ly/Xl4MuW

Meet the author: 20131024-DebbieHolt-94-Edit

Born and raised in the Lone Star state of Texas, Debra grew up among horses, cowboys, wide open spaces, and real Texas Rangers.  Pride in her state and ancestry knows no bounds and it is these heroes and heroines she loves to write about the most.  She also draws upon a variety of life experiences including working with abused children, caring for baby animals at a major zoo, and owning a wedding planning business (ah, romance!).

Debra’s real pride and joys, however, are her son, an aspiring film actor, and a daughter with aspirations to join the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (more story ideas!)  When she isn’t busy writing about tall Texans and feisty heroines, she can be found cheering on her Texas Tech Red Raiders, or heading off on another cruise adventure.  She read her first romance…Janet Dailey’s Fiesta San Antonio, over thirty years ago and became hooked on the genre. Writing contemporary western romances,  is both her passion and dream come true, and she hopes her books will bring smiles…and sighs… to all who believe in happily-ever-after’s.

The Seymour Agency represents Debra and she is soon to have two contemporary romances published by Spencer Hill/Tulip Romance and Astraea Press.

How to reach Debra:

Website: www.debraholtbooks.com

Email: debraholtbooks@gmail.com.

 

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Friday Featured Artist: Rachel Jones

Please welcome Rachel Jones as she shares her modern day romance, and debut novel To Dance One More Day.

Rating: PG 13 for some steamy kissing

ToDanceOneMoreDay-RachelJones_(2)Blurb:

At age thirty-two, Jillian Russell has endured a life time of heartache. Alone in the world, she has also suffered the loss of her dance career. Redirecting her life, she opens the North Carolina Ballet Company. Intent on making it the go-to company for serious performers, she shuts down her personal life while she struggles to build her company into the success she envisions.

As far back as he can remember, trauma surgeon, Alan Armstrong has had a penchant for fixing things. Since his father’s death, the ambition to open a community clinic in a rural area on the eastern coast has directed his actions. Hopeful to prevent future deaths due to lack of medical care, he has made the clinic his top priority.

When Alan’s life intersects with Jillian’s, the connection they both feel is undeniable. As a new board member to her ballet company, Alan is eager to help solve the financial damage of lost federal funding. But he doesn’t stop there. He wants to help her build new relationships to chase the loneliness from her life. As they grow closer, secrets from their pasts cause them to be pulled apart. Will they be able to overcome their pasts to have a future together?

Excerpt:

Jillian turned around and as she moved toward him, she tripped over a shoe left behind by someone. She lost her balance and with amazing timing, Alan broke her fall as he caught her by the shoulders. The heat from his hands spread through her body.

Pulling her upright, his hands lingered as he asked, “Are you okay? Your head almost collided with the edge of the bench and it wouldn’t have been pretty.”

Her breath caught in her chest. “Well, I guess my secret is out.” She giggled to hide her embarrassment. “I’m a klutz, except of course, when I’m dancing.”

“So, Ms. Klutz, are you sure you’re all right?” He guided her to sit on the bench. “You didn’t twist your ankle?”

His eyes pierced through her. She was not used to being so closely scrutinized and she felt she was losing control of the situation. One more flash of those dimples and she might cave.

“No, my ankle is fine. I’m good. So you said there was something you wanted to mention.” He must think I’m a klutz, first the water on his pants and now tripping over my feet. Looking up, she saw his eyes remained fixed on her.

“Are you sure you can’t skip rehearsal and go to dinner with me?” He removed his hands from her shoulders and reclaimed his seat.

“Somehow I think it would send the wrong message about professional obligations if I decided to cut rehearsal tonight.”

His head bobbed slowly up and down. He sighed. “Well, we can’t have that. So if you won’t lower your professional standards and go to dinner, I was wondering if you’d allow me to escort you to David and Ann’s wedding on Saturday.”

The question took her by surprise, but what a wonderful surprise! She sat without moving, her stillness rendering a statuesque appearance. The silence continued.

“It’s not a hard question. Just give a yes or no.”

Butterflies circled in her stomach. Her heart rate galloped and a seed of panic threatened to shut down her voice. On the one hand she wanted to go with him. On the other, she knew she shouldn’t.

Alan snapped his fingers in her direction. “Jillian — hello? Where’d you go?”

She focused her eyes on his handsome face. “Um, I’m sorry. My mind ran off on a little tangent about what dress I would wear. I’d love to go to the wedding with you.” She flashed a big smile and wondered how she could do such a horrible thing to him.

Available through:

http://www.amazon.com/Dance-One-More-Day-ebook/dp/B00L2EASUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404154763&sr=1-1&keywords=to+dance+one+more+day

 

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/to-dance-one-more-day-rachel-jones/1119742718?ean=2940149747580

 

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/449309

 

http://www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=to+dance+one+more+day

Meet the author:    IMG_0625_(1)

In 1977 Rachel earned her BA in Music Education and taught music for ten years. After the birth of her second child, she returned to school and in 1991 earned her AD in Nursing and passed the state boards for registered nurses. She has been a labor & delivery and antepartum nurse since that time.

Anticipating her retirement from healthcare, Rachel decided to write her first novel at age fifty-seven. For years she had experienced scenes of heroes and heroines rambling about in her thoughts and spilling into her dreams. So it was a no-brainer that she should attempt to capture these thoughts on paper.

Rachel resides in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia with her husband of thirty-seven years. She has three adult children, who help spoil their Labrador retriever. She is a member of Georgia Romance Writers, Southeastern Writers Association and is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America.

How to reach Rachel:

www.FaceBook.com/RachelJonesAuthor

 

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8336834.Rachel_Jones

 

https://twitter.com/rellenj1

 

http://www.pinterest.com/rjoneswriter/

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Friday Featured Artist: Kay Harborne

Today’s spotlight is on Kay Harborne and her modern day romance Never Say Forever.

Rating: PG — some serious kissing.

AC_NeverSayForever_500x750Blurb:

Do you follow your dream or follow your heart?

That’s the decision Kendall McKenzie has to make when she meets hunky businessman Jake Newman. It’s obvious that he’s as attracted to her as she is to him. But Kendall has vowed to never get married – and it seems that Jake, too, is determined to never commit. When the two are together however sparks fly and it’s obvious to everyone except themselves that they’re meant to be together. Can Kendall trust Jake enough to give him her heart? And if she does will she have to say goodbye to her dream?

 

Excerpt:

He turned and saw an open door leading into the kitchen where Kendall, her back towards him, was unplugging the kettle. She was wearing a neat, grey, pinstriped suit, the jacket tapering in at the waist and the skirt finishing just above the knee, with enough of a slit to reveal her very shapely legs.

She turned around and smiled at him, and his heart missed a beat. She was incredibly pretty and fresh, even at this early hour. Her glowing hair was loosely tied back from her face, which was bare of make–‐‑up apart from a touch of lipstick, and her eyes were bright and sparkling, as if she’d had a restful night’s sleep.

“OK, I’m ready now. I’ve just got to get my suitcase out of the bedroom.”

Here was where he was supposed to tell her that she was staying at the Birmingham office, that he didn’t need her in Spain, after all. But the words wouldn’t come. He might not need her in Spain with him, but he definitely wanted her there.

“Ouch!” Kendall’s cry of pain interrupted his thoughts. He dashed down the hall and saw her bending down, rubbing the back of her leg, the suitcase on the floor behind her.

“Are you all right?” he asked, worried. His eyes rested on the hole in her tights and the bruise already forming. “That looks nasty,” he said sympathetically.

She flushed. “The case was heavier than I thought. I stumbled and caught the back of my leg with it. I’ll be fine. I just need to change my tights.”

“I’ll wait in the car for you.” He effortlessly picked up the heavy suitcase. “And we’re all right for a few minutes if you want to put some ice on that bruise.” Without waiting for an answer, he carried the suitcase out the front door.

Maybe he was the one who needed the ice, he thought, as he took the case down to the car. The sight of Kendall’s bare skin peeping through the hole in her tights and hint of cleavage as she’d bent down to rub her leg had certainly made his temperature rise.

Don’t even think about it, he warned himself as he pressed the remote to open the car boot. This was a business trip, and he had to keep it that way. He never mixed business with pleasure and he wasn’t about to start now. Not even with Kendall McKenzie.

Especially not with Kendall McKenzie.

****

It was only as she walked into the car park at the back of the flats that Kendall realised she didn’t know what sort of car Jake drove, but the sleek, midnight–‐‑blue sedan just had to be his. She was a bit taken aback when he got out, walked around,

and opened the passenger door for her. Not many guys did that nowadays.

“Thank you,” she said as she slid onto the leather seat.

“My pleasure.” There was a hint of teasing in his reply, as if he knew he’d surprised her.

“Love the car,” she said as he got in beside her.

He flashed her a smile. “I quite like it too.”

“It might have been better if you’d got someone to drop us off at the airport so they could take the car back,” she suggested. “I wouldn’t risk leaving a car like this parked at the airport.”

ʺI’m not. I’ve left a spare set of keys with my chauffeur. He’ll pick it up later this morning then drive it home for me. It didn’t seem fair to drag him out of bed this early.”

He’s a nice guy, Kendall thought, kind and considerate yet rich and successful. In her experience, the qualities didnʹt always mix.

As they drove along, she was acutely aware of his presence beside her, of his strong hands holding the wheel casually but firmly, of his left hand reaching down to change gears effortlessly and smoothly, just a few centimetres from her knee.

“How long did you teach in Thailand?” he asked her. “I spent a bit of time over there myself a couple of years ago. It’s a beautiful country.”

“I was there for a year.” She was glad of the diversion. “I taught in a school in Chiang Mai.”

For the rest of the journey they spoke about Thailand and some of the other countries they had both visited, and she realised that he was actually very easy to talk to with a good sense of humour. She was almost sorry when they arrived at the airport; she’d enjoyed his company so much.

Careful, she told herself. I bet he’s as charming as this with all the women he meets. She knew he had a reputation for collecting beautiful girlfriends — Tanya had hinted as much at the engagement party. He was the eternal bachelor. Well, she was the eternal bachelor girl, wasn’t she? She could handle Jake Newman, even if he did make her go all goose-bumpy.

Available through:   Amazon US      Amazon UK

Meet the author:

Kay Harborne has written several romance stories for women’s magazines. Her romance Headshotnovel The Millionaire Plan was nominated for the RONE Award earlier this year. Never Say Forever was originally published by as a People’s Friend Pocket Novel, then in large print by Linford Romance. She is delighted that Astraea Press have republished it.  Kay has also written many children’s books under the name of Karen King. She loves reading, writing and eating chocolate.

How to reach the author:

Website: http://www.karenking.net/

Twitter: @karen_king

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Kay-Harborne/e/B00D5VD6LG/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1373543640&sr=8-2

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Adventures in retirement: working harder than ever

When my father retired, he did so at the age of 58. He’d worked since he was 14, and after my mother nearly died from a bleeding aneurism, he figure it was time. That was 28 years ago. Mom passed away nearly two years ago, but Dad is still with us.

Their retirement consisted of a bit of traveling, lots of games of shuffleboard, and delivering food for Meals on Wheels. They enjoyed their time together until Mom developed dementia a few years before her death.

Following in my father’s footsteps, I retired at the age of 58. Needless to say, I didn’t start working when I was 14, but I did have a series of interesting jobs: day care worker—hated it. Security checkpoint at the Houston Intercontinental Airport—wasn’t bad. Ticket counter/gate agent for Continental Airlines—loved it. Mother/home school teacher for 18 years—best job ever! Substitute teacher, which eventually led to a job as performing arts director at a small Christian school—one of the most stressful, yet rewarding jobs after motherhood.

I retired in order to spend time with my mother before she passed, and to help my father  390225_2539119711582_304029215_nhowever I could, but the one thing I never stopped doing was write. I started my first novel in 2001, and was finally published in 2012. It took me a while to realize that writing a book was the easy part–getting people to take notice, quite another story.

A month ago, my second novel “The Rose Ring” was published. Though my husband and I no longer have 9 to 5 jobs, I find myself working harder than ever. I have to balance writing, blogging, publicizing, housework, and family. I love all of the above, but sometimes struggle to make it work. The last few weeks have been spent spreading the word about my book, and spreading rocks in the garden at the front of my house. It’s my attempt to balance my life. I’m eternally grateful for a husband who supports my passion for writing while keeping me grounded.

imagesFor me, retirement doesn’t mean the end, it means what’s next. I don’t want to rock my days away on the front porch (okay, I don’t have a front porch). I want to create. I want to travel. I want to explore. I want to stay busy. I want to work at making whatever years I have left, the best years ever.

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Friday Featured Artist: Christina Lorenzen

Meet writer and jewelry designer, Christina Lorenzen.

I started designing jewelry back in 2012. I was having a terrible time writing–complete writer’s block–and I was looking for something to help me relax and relieve the stress.

I always loved Michals craft stores, and  my daughter wanted me to take her to get some supplies. She loves to just craft whatever she’s in the mood for. While there, I wandered into the bead aisle, and couldn’t believe the displays. There was every color, shape and size. I bought a few strands and some string to get me started, then wire and some tools…one thing led to another.  Before long I was buying books and watching videos.

At one point I had over forty items in my shop, but when I got back into writing, I donated them. A set of jewelry (about fourteen pieces) went to a breast cancer auction, while the rest went to a fundraiser for a two-year old boy who has cancer.

I’m working to build my shop again, and currently have a little over a dozen pieces for sale.

When I’m playing with beads, stringing and arranging them, I get lost. Everything else–the noise, the pets, the interruptions–simply melt away. There are days when I have to remember to stop and eat. Lol!

Check out some samples of Christina’s work.

10508518_766188543402872_303137628_nWirework earrings

 

 

 

 

 

Multi-colored glass bead chain10489162_766188320069561_305836857_n

 

 

 

 

 

10488864_766189000069493_651739013_nGlass pearl amethyst cyrstal bracelet

 

 

 

 

 

 

To see more of Christina’s work, check out her etsy shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/AddieFrankDesigns?ref=l2-shopheader-name

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Friday Featured Artist: Krysten Lindsay Hager

Please welcome Krysten Lindsay Hagar as she introduces her debut novel: True colors

TrueColors453X680Blurb:

Landry Albright just wants to be one of the interesting girls at school who always have exciting things going on in their lives. She wants to stand out, but also wants to fit in, so she gives in when her two best friends, Ericka and Tori, push her into trying out for a teen reality show modeling competition with them. Landry goes in nervous, but impresses the judges enough to make it to the next round. However, Ericka and Tori get cut and basically “unfriend” her on Monday at school. Landry tries to make new friends, but gets caught up between wanting to be herself and conforming to who her new friends want her to be. Along the way she learns that modeling is nowhere as glamorous as it seems, how to deal with frenemies, a new crush, and that true friends see you for who you really are and like you because of it.

Excerpt:

Every day I walked down the sidewalk to school and wished I was one of those interesting girls who ran up with exciting news. They were always yelling, way before they got to their group of friends so everyone could hear, about how they got asked out, or their parents were taking them on some amazing vacation or something. I’d prefer my news to be more like, “Guess what? I’m going to be in a music video!” Or maybe, “Guess who’s going to be in a movie?” But nothing, nada, never any news to share. Well, once a stray cat had kittens in my garage, but it was more annoying than anything since it smelled like cat pee in there for months after my mom found homes for them all. I couldn’t even say, “Ooh, guess who got a kitty?” since my mom said I couldn’t keep one because the poor thing would get lost in my mess of a room and starve.

 

Still, just once I’d like to be the interesting one instead of the girl who didn’t get invited to things because people “forgot” about her. Instead, I was the girl picked last in gym class (like today) and who couldn’t even get noticed there when I tried to get hit during dodge ball so I could sit down.

 

“Okay, hit the showers,” Coach Daly said.

 

I hadn’t done anything to cause me to break a sweat, so I didn’t need a shower. I pulled my ponytail holder out of my hair and hoped for the best. My pale blond hair, which behaved so well last weekend when no one saw it, now looked and felt like a broom. The more I tried to fix it, the more it felt like hay. I tried putting in a dab of styling crème, but it just made it greasy. I didn’t know how my hair managed to have a dry texture while looking oily at the same time, but it did.

 

I gave up on my hair and went to get dressed. I tugged on my khaki pants and navy sweater, which made up my glorious Hillcrest Academy uniform, (it was just my luck my school picked colors which made me look like a dead goldfish), grabbed my bag, and went to join the rest of my class lined up to go to the cafeteria. I was almost fourteen and yet had to walk to the lunchroom in a straight line like Madeline from the storybook. Stupid Hillcrest.

 

Lunch was my favorite part of the day. For one, it meant the school day was half over. I went through the lunch line and grabbed a ham sandwich, some chips, and a bottle of water and went to join my two best friends, Ericka Maines and Tori Robins. The lunchroom was always extra noisy on Fridays because everybody was talking about their plans for the weekend. Sometimes Ericka, Tori, and I went to a movie, but we didn’t do much else. Tori and I liked to go shopping, but Ericka’s parents thought hanging out at the mall would “morally corrupt” Ericka, blah, blah, blah. And they about had a stroke when she wanted to get a social media page. So I was surprised when Ericka said we should all go to the mall tomorrow.

 

“Landry, they’re having modeling tryouts to be on the American Ingénue show,” Ericka said, showing me the ad she had torn out of the Grand Rapids Press. “The Ingénue judges are trying to find local teens to compete on their reality show.”

 

I watched every second of the last show. Talisa Milan won and got a Little Rose cosmetics contract and was on this month’s cover of Bright and Lively magazine. She was also a host on Hot Videos Now, a music video show. Melani Parkington, the runner-up, was the new spokesperson for Bouncy Hair conditioner. You were almost guaranteed to be famous if you made it to the final round of the contest.

 

“First you have to win in your city, and then your state, and then the regional competition,” Tori read. “Then you get to the tough part of the competition where they vote off someone new each week on national TV.”

 

“It’s an amazing opportunity to get discovered,” Ericka said, checking out her reflection in her spoon.

 

“Yeah, except for the fact the judges are known to be brutal when they’re honest. Like when they told Melani her gorgeous face was too pinched, her forehead was too low, and her eyebrows were too high,” I said. “They also told one girl she was pretty, but her lips looked like she had walked into a sliding glass door.”

 

“Well, they did,” Ericka said shrugging. “The newspaper says the first fifty girls who try out got a free American Ingénue tote bag and Little Rose makeup samples.”

 

They were holding auditions at the Perry Mall, which was the smallest mall in Grand Rapids. There weren’t a lot of stores there, so you usually just saw old people mall walking around there. Still, it had a decent bookstore and a cute clothing store, so I said I’d go watch while they tried out.

 

“No, we’re all trying out,” Ericka said, grabbing the ad back from me.

Available through:

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/True-Colors-Krysten-Lindsay-Hager-ebook/dp/B00L2G0YJS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403419976&sr=8-1&keywords=krysten+lindsay+hager

Barnesandnoble.com: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/true-colors-krysten-lindsay-hager/1119742726?ean=2940149747658

itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/true-colors/id890673002?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/true-colors-17

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/449308

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/True-Colors-Krysten-Lindsay-Hager-ebook/dp/B00L2G0YJS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403420109&sr=8-1&keywords=krysten+lindsay+hager

Krysten Lindsay Hager

 

Meet the author: I write books for tweens, teens, and adults, too. I’m a book addict who has worked as a journalist and humor writer. I’m originally from Michigan and I’ve lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and currently reside in southwestern Ohio where you can find me reading and writing when I’m not catching up on my favorite shows: Hart of Dixie, The Goldbergs, Switched at Birth, American Dad, Dallas, and Devious Maids. I’m a die-hard Detroit Lions fan, too. I got my master’s in American Culture from the University of Michigan-Flint.

How to reach Krysten:

Website: http://www.krystenlindsay.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KrystenLindsayHagerAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KrystenLindsay

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/krystenlindsay/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/krystenlindsay

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22444090-true-colors

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96jxcUH54hU

Google+: https://plus.google.com/+KrystenLindsayHager/posts

 

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Friday Featured Artist: E. A. West

Today I’m happy to spotlight award-winning author E.A. West’s latest novel, Different.

Different453x680Blurb:

Jezebel Smith is different. She can’t talk, she doesn’t look like anyone in her family, and no matter what she does it’s always the wrong thing. God accepts her for who she is, but He’s the only one who does. Then she finds an unconscious man in her favorite cave, and her life is turned upside down. New people and new rules collide with the old, leaving Jezebel unsure of which set of rules apply to her life. When the strangers in town attempt to help her out of the nightmare she’s grown up in, it promises to change her life forever.

Excerpt:

The distant drip of water echoed off the rocky walls as Jezebel Smith wandered through her cave. Pungent fumes from her kerosene lantern stung her nose, and she wished for a flashlight. But her family would miss a flashlight. They never noticed when she took the old lantern from the barn.

Turning her face away from the lantern, she caught a whiff of the familiar scent of the rocks around her. She loved the fresh, earthy smell of her cave. Through countless hours of careful practice, her hiking boots barely produced a whisper on the bumpy path leading to her special cavern. If she swung the lantern on its creaky handle, however, she could fill the cave with a creepy echo that reminded her of Halloween.

She passed through an opening in the wall and entered a large cavern with several ledges in one end. As she approached the lowest ledge, the glow from her lantern touched an unfamiliar lump on the floor below the rocky shelf and she froze. She knew every inch of this cavern — every rock, ledge, and bump in the floor. No one ever came here. Nothing ever changed unless she changed it. The cave was the only thing she could count on to always stay the same.

This time, however, there was something new. The cave had broken its own rules, adding a boulder where one didn’t belong. She crept toward it, fighting tears of hurt that the cave would trick her like everyone else, and the golden light of her lantern revealed it wasn’t a boulder after all — it was the still form of a man. Her pulse pounded in her ears, so loud it threatened to drown out her own thoughts. Where had he come from? Why wasn’t he moving? Her heart skipped a beat. Was he dead?

Available through:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Different-E-West-ebook/dp/B00M0E4ZU0

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1119984134?ean=2940149685615

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/460703

 

Meet the author:

E.A. West, award-winning author of sweet and inspirational romance, is a lifelong lover of books and storytelling. In high school, she picked up her pen in a creative writing class and hasn’t laid it down yet. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, knitting, and crocheting. She lives in Indiana with her family and a small zoo of pets.  EAWest_300

How to reach E. A. West:

Website:  http://eawest.mcphitty.com

Blog:  http://thewestcorner.wordpress.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/EA-West/34280264617

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/eawest

Google+:  http://plus.google.com/107709864908331978411/posts

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Friday Featured Artist: Elaine Cantrell

Today, I’m happy to sptolight Elaine Cantrell’s The Enchanted.

Genre: Fantasy/romance

Rating: PG — a few cuss words and a shooting.

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BLURB: Forced by his father into a marriage he didn’t want, Prince Alan soon finds that his bride isn’t the sweet, submissive creature he expected.  Morgane has the heart of a dragon and beauty beyond compare, but she isn’t thrilled about the marriage either.  When black treachery threatens the kingdom, Morgane and Alan embark on a perilous journey that has an excellent chance of ending in failure and death for them and all of their people.

Excerpt: Morgane rolled over and faced him. He felt surprised to see anger on her face. “Why do you torment me, Prince Alan?”

Alan pushed back from her. “I? I torment you?”

“Yes! You torment me night and day. Your face is never far from my thoughts. In the morning my eyes fall upon you, and my heart sings to have another day in your presence. We were not supposed to have a common life at all! I tried very hard to run away, and you angered your father so much he put you through a year of torment to bend you to his will.” A little smile came to rest on her face. “But you did not bend, did you? Nor did you break. You remained the same man you always were. I know this in my heart.”

With a suddenness that took his breath away, laughter and light fled from her face. Bleak resignation and hopelessness turned her eyes into two wells of horror. “If I were as beautiful now as I once was, then you would find it difficult to turn away from me.” Her lip quivered. “I know that no man wants a scarred woman, but I had hoped…”

“What had you hoped?”

“That you could love me.”

Her voice had dropped so low it was hard to hear. Alan seized her and pulled her against him. “And I do. I do not see your scar. I see you with your lovely face and fine, spirited soul, and unless you love me, I cannot go on.”

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  elainespicture

Elaine Cantrell was born and raised in South Carolina.  She has a Master’s Degree in Personnel Services from Clemson University and is a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary sorority for women educators.  She is also a member of Romance Writers of America and EPIC authors.  She is married to her college sweetheart and has two sons and three grandchildren.  Besides writing she enjoys, quilting, gardening, and collecting vintage Christmas ornaments.  You can contact Elaine at her web site at http://www.elainecantrell.com.

You can find The Enchanted here:

http://www.elainecantrell.com

http://www.elainepcantrell.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/elainepcantrell

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elaine-Cantrell/300167253489086

http://www.twitter.com/elainecantrell

 

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Friday Featured Artist: Amanda Denette Chitwood

HinkleNewborn (29 of 31)Meet wife, mother and photographer Amanda Denette Chitwood, owner of Amanda Denette Photography:

I’ve always been a shutterbug, and had a camera with me all the time as a kid and teenager. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my first daughter that I really decided to learn how to use a camera. I switched over to manual and read any info I could find on taking better photos. I poured myself into learning and taught myself how to take the best photos I could possibly take. I shoot with a canon 5d mkii and usually use the canon 24-70L. I also enjoy using my tilt shift lens on occasion.

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I’m inspired by the everyday things. I take photos of seemingly mundane items or moments, but try to capture them beautifully. I love photographing families and during my session, taking a step back and watching them interact. I get shots of giggles, tickles, and tears. I want my sessions to not only be posed and portrait perfect, but also real and heartwarming. When I photograph a newborn, I make sure to shoot those little features that are so fleeting: the nose bumps, the fuzzy shoulders, the sweet baby rolls. I want to not only capture the regular, but tElaineStevenEngagementWeb (57 of 68)bhe things that you may not realize you’ll miss.

I’m always striving to learn new techniques and push the envelope both in my client work, and in my personal work. I want to take my work to the next level in both technical and artistic aspects. I want people to look at my work and think “Wow, that is amazing. How did she do that?” SneaksRedBalloon (2 of 13) copy

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To learn more about Amanda, or see more of her work, click on the links below.

www.amandadennette.com

www.facebook.com/PhotographybyADennette

 

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Friday Featured Artist: Heather Gray

Today’s spotlight: Jakal by best-selling author, Heather Gray .

GENRE:  Inspirational Regency Romance w/ some Suspense

Rating: PG 13 – Kissing and some acts of violence

JackalBlurb:  Hiding in the shadows just got harder.

When tragedy strikes, Juliana and her family must flee their home. Can they persuade a virtual stranger to help them? Juliana isn’t so sure, especially after their chaperone threatens to cane him. Even as Juliana struggles to trust him, she finds herself drawn to this mysterious man. Surely all she wants from him is refuge…

Rupert is a man whose life depends on his ability to remain unnoticed. What, then, is he supposed to do with this family he’s inherited?  His life is overrun with an ancient chaperone who would terrify a lesser man, two spirited girls, and the secretive Juliana – someone he comes to think of as his own precious jewel.

With this new responsibility thrust upon him, Rupert will have to make sacrifices – but will God ask him to sacrifice everything?

EXCERPT:  1810

A duke had been cut down in the prime of his life. According to the War Department, The Hunter was to blame.

Jackal had been put onto The Hunter’s scent and told to ferret him out at all cost. It was his job, his duty to the crown, and he treated it with the seriousness it demanded. Evil could not be allowed to go unpunished, and people who took pleasure in destroying the lives of others would not walk away with impunity, not on his watch.

Jackal met with his contacts in the Austrian government and found no gratification in revealing they had a traitor in their midst. It had been a necessary move, and now the problem would be dealt with. The Austrians would put The Hunter down, and England’s hands would remain clean of the mess, exactly as the minister wanted.

Grim foreboding furrowed his brow as he left the meeting with the Austrians. His lack of evidence mocked him. He’d done as ordered, and they’d believed him, but had it been his choice, he’d have gathered more proof first.

Jackal climbed into his carriage and slapped his hand against the roof, signaling the driver with his readiness to depart. A lengthy ride awaited him. He would leave the carriage and his current identity behind in Munich once he arrived there. New papers and fresh horses were waiting for him. The same would happen again when he crossed over into Stuttgart, and then again in Brussels. His task was clear: remain alive long enough to claim each of the new identities and return safely to his homeland.

Sitting back on the roughly cushioned seat, he accepted what he’d begun to suspect. This would be his last assignment for the crown. He was getting too old for the job. The time to retire was upon him. The younger bucks were willing – if not entirely ready – to take their place among the ranks of the unseen, unknown, and unnamed heroes of war. Jackal shook his head. Not too long ago, he’d been one of those young bucks. Ready for retirement at age thirty-two? The thought would be laughable in any other career. In his line of work, though, only those who retired young lived to be old and grey.

Lost in melancholy, Jackal barely noted the change from the raucous noise of a bustling merchant district to the quiet pastoral sounds that would accompany him on most of this journey. Europe was a large land with rich cities interspersed with vast emptiness dotted with small hamlets. Traveling by carriage would take weeks, but as long as he could report back that he’d done as ordered, it would be worth the time.

He settled into his seat. They were still days from their first sanctioned stop. As always, the best defense was to keep moving.

****

A change in the carriage’s soothing methodical movement woke Jackal from his doze and alerted him that something was amiss. Awareness coursed through his veins, pushing away the remnant of sleep. A quick glance at the curtained window told him it was late morning. They’d ridden through the night to put as much distance as possible between them and Vienna – the current hub of Austrian government.

The carriage was moving with a wildness he’d felt only one other time in his life. Dread snaked through his middle as he accepted the truth. There was no longer a driver in control of his conveyance. Jackal crouched low on the floor for balance as he prepared to throw open the door and jump. Perhaps he should have sought retirement one assignment sooner.

Before his hand could touch the door, a jarring force threw Jackal against the seat to his left, shooting pain up his arm. They’d been boarded, then, and his driver – an agent he’d worked with for years – had likely not been alive to sound the alarm. Emotion would come later. For now, Jackal needed to focus on one thing: Survival.

The carriage gained speed under the skillful hand of whoever now sat in the driver’s seat. I should have jumped when I had the chance. Jackal shook his head as he calculated the odds of survival.

Palming his gun, he pounded on the roof of the carriage, commanding the driver to stop. Surprise flared to life as his conveyance did indeed come to a standstill. Rather than slow to a gentle stop, the carriage halted its forward momentum in a skidding bone-shaking fashion. It was the kind of stop that guaranteed no beast would be able to walk away from it afterward.

Jackal jumped before the dust could settle. His best chance would be to go on the offence and catch the driver off-guard. Though he’d assumed the driver had a partner, nothing could have prepared him for the vicious attack awaiting him on the other side of the door.

Jackal no sooner touched the ground than he was trampled under the anxious feet of a high-stepping horse. He’d not even had a chance to gain his footing. As he lay on the ground, Jackal both heard and felt the breaking of bone in his left leg. A couple of his ribs surrendered to the heavy hooves as well. Rolling onto his side, he took aim at the perpetrator. The sun blinded him, and he could distinguish no features on the man whose gun dared him to move. In the split second it took for him to reassure himself he was not aiming at an innocent bystander – for they were indeed in one of the numerous modest hamlets that dotted the continent’s countryside – the rider pulled the trigger, and pain seared through Jackal’s already throbbing leg. It felt as if the lead had burrowed its way into his very bone.

He pulled the trigger of his flintlock pistol, and the man on the horse recoiled. Even as Jackal reached for the gun concealed at the ankle of his wounded leg, he knew it was futile. The rider had a second gun in-hand before his own fingers even brushed against the grip of his hidden weapon. Pain tore through his shoulder, immobilizing his shooting arm. Another ball of lead ripped into his middle. He felt his blood seeping out onto the street.

Accepting his fate, he asked only one thing. “At whose hand am I to die this day?”

Laughter vile enough to sour port met his question. “Today the Jackal shall meet his end at the hands of The Hunter.”

The Hunter? The Austrians were supposed to have him by now.

“Your plan failed, and I am free. Prepare to die.”

Blackness closing in around him, Jackal released the last thought held captive in his mind.

Why God?

Cold claimed his body as he slipped into darkness. He neither heard nor felt the next shot.

BUY LINKS:

Amazon US    Amazon UK    Barnes & Noble    Kobo    Smashwords    iTunes

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Heather Gray is the author of the Ladies of Larkspur inspirational western romance series, including Mail Order man, Just Dessert, and Redemption.  She also writes the Regency Refuge series with titles His Saving Grace, Jackal, and the soon-to-be-released Queen.  But that’s not all!  Interested in contemporary Christian romance?  Take a look at Ten Million Reasons and Nowhere for Christmas.

Heather loves coffee, God, her family, and laughter – not necessarily in that order!  She writes approachable and flawed characters who, through the highs and lows of life, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.  And, yeah, her books almost always have someone who’s a coffee addict.  Some things just can’t be helped.

Heather can be contacted at:

My Website – http://www.heathergraywriting.com

My Blog – http://www.heathergraywriting.com/blog

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/heathergraywriting

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/+Heathergraywritingnow

Twitter – http://twitter.com/LaughDreamWrite

Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/LaughDreamWrite

 

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