Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Resolutions?

I recently posed the question on Facebook: Resolutions--yay or nay? Do you resolve to improve some aspect of your life in the coming year?

As one poster says, if we don't, we aren't growing. Good answer. But I've abandoned those typical "lose weight and get fit" generic resolutions. I've learned the more specific the resolution, the better.

For instance, last year I resolved to write 1000 words every day, five days a week, and stuck to it as much as possible. This past year, 2014, turned out to be my most productive writing year in a decade. I also resolved to walk an hour every day possible. I have and will continue both resolutions.

My new resolution for 2015 is to clear out my sewing room (it has become a Christmas gift-wrap, catch-all mess) and get back to sewing. I love sewing and miss it. I intend to take a quilting class this year at our local fabric store.

When you make resolutions, follow the guidelines for any goal setting. Make your goals specific and realistic. Don't set yourself up for failure with overly ambitious resolutions.

Good luck and happy 2015!




Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Release day for A Dose of Romance (Drake Springs Book 3)




Authors love release day. Months of hard work--writing, editing, proofing, revising, copy editing--culminates in a finished product ready for readers. You! I'm no different. I'm thrilled to have readers download A DOSE OF ROMANCE and read Tiffany and Woody's story. It's set around the holidays but isn't strictly a holiday read. 


This is book 3, you say, and you haven't yet read books 1 and/or 2? Don't let that stop you. While it's fun to read a series in order, you don't have to. My number one rule in writing a series romance is to make the story stand alone. Threads from other stories need to be reintroduced. I don't want my readers lost or scrambling to re-read a previous story. So even if you've yet to try the Drake Springs series, dive in and read A DOSE OF ROMANCE. If you like it, then you may want to buy previous titles. Or not. Your decision.



Happy reading!  And don't forget to enter the raffle for a $10 iTunes card.



Excerpt:
Tiffany rushed in to Fox’s Apothecary right before closing and headed directly to the pharmacy. 
The pharmacist turned to greet her. “Help you?” 
It was him. Woody Fox. Mister light-brew-with-half-and-half. Her heart stuttered and her breath caught. “Um, yes, I’m here to pick up a refill for my dad. Er, Drew Blair.” 
His smile widened. “Drew Blair is your dad? I guess I didn’t realize. . .that is, I didn’t know your name was Blair.” 
“You know my dad?” 
“Yes, I do. Not sure where I’d be without him. He keeps my old Bronco running.” 
“Don’t know where I’d be without him, either.” 
He turned to search through the white bags of filled prescription orders. “His is the best auto repair shop- in town.” 
She did an eye roll at his back. “Right. He’s the only shop in town.” 
He turned his dazzling smile on her. “Here you go.” 
She took the bag and thanked him. “Well, I guess I’ll see you Monday.” 
He frowned. “You don’t work Saturdays?” 
“I do.” She pointed to her temple. “Duh. I’m brain dead from too much studying.” 
“What are you studying?” 
“Business. I’ll have my associate’s degree in May.” 
His hazel eyes flashed with interest. “I didn’t realize you were a college student.” 
“I’m not going to wait tables all my life, not that there’s anything wrong with it.” 
“I know what you mean. What will you do with your degree?” 
“I have a few ideas. Dad says I can run his shop, but that’s risking everything on one business. It’s better to diversify.” 
“Right. Spread the risk.” He leaned against the counter. “I didn’t know they taught business classes at Drake College.” 
“They don’t. I have to commute to Florida Gateway College.” 
“Is that in Lake City?” 
“Right.” She’d stalled long enough. He might think she was flirting. She turned toward the front checkout counter. “See you later.” 
“Sure. I’d like to talk more about your business ideas.” 
“Uh, yeah. But not at the diner, okay? I don’t want to discuss it on the job.” 
“Gotcha.”
Boyd and Lorraine didn’t know her plan. No one did yet. So why had she mentioned it to Mister light-brew-with-half-and-half? Mister engaged-to-be-married light-brew-with-half-and-half?

Friday, December 12, 2014

iBooks-the emerging giant in eBooks?

I don't know about you, but I do just about everything on my smartphone. I carry an iPhone 5S and love it, which surprises me because I resisted all things Apple for so many years. Live and learn.

I now have an app called Map My Walk that tells me how far I walk, what route I take, my splits (how long each mile takes), calories burned, etc. It emails me reports with summaries of my workouts. It even tracks how many miles are on my pair of shoes so I know when they should be replaced. 

I have an app that holds all my store loyalty cards. No more plastic tabs clogging up my key ring. Love that! I use the calendar app to track my family's appointments and activities, the email app to check for messages when I'm away from my PC, the MapQuest app when I need directions, the various social networking apps to check my friends' statuses, and the weather app to check the forecast. I can take photos and post them from my iPhone. I keep to-do lists and grocery lists stored, too.

Occasionally, I use the iPhone to place a call, although I now prefer texting. Who knew I'd be such a slave to one device?

While waiting in a doctor's or dentist's office, I read. I didn't realize how handy reading on my iPhone would be. Now I love it (and my iPad knows right where I leave off). 

So I'm late to the iBooks game, which I've learned is the fastest growing platform. News to me, but I see why. I can buy iBooks via the iTunes store using the iTunes account I already established for music, ringtones, and premium version of apps.

Most of my books are available via iBooks, too: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/cheryl-norman/id417449386?mt=11

If you are ready to jump into iBooks, you'll need an iTunes account. This month I'm offering a $10 iTunes gift card to a random entry. I hope you'll participate. If you win, you can download some iBooks and start reading wherever you go.

Happy Holidays.



Monday, December 01, 2014

Holiday Stories

I've posted before about my love of holiday themed stories. I re-read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens every December. I watch all the corny holiday movies on the Hallmark channel. I have my own copy of A Christmas Story. I admit it. I'm a sucker for Christmas stories, especially romances.

The first Christmas romance I wrote was for Wings ePress. My contemporary romance Last Resort, which was inspired by and loosely based on the old Alec Guinness movie Last Holiday (this was before Queen Latifah's updated version---and yes, I have that DVD, too), earned me the 2003 EPPIE (now EPIC) award for best contemporary romance.

2003 Eppie Winner

Last year, I wrote my first inspirational romance story, The Christmas Prayer,  part of The Heart of Christmas anthology from Highland Press. The feedback I received from readers overwhelmed me. I didn't expect to find many readers for my foray into the subgenre of inspirational romance. Evidently, there's a market.


 Click to Purchase


The reception for that story motivated me to write another, a sequel of sorts, titled Hometown Blessings, which is included in the Christmas Blessings anthology from Highland Press. (Note: All four stories connect to the four stories in the previous anthology, and there's talk of doing a third in the series for 2015). The "hometown" is fictional Harper, Georgia, a small community in the North Georgia mountains. The subject matter may be controversial, but I was moved to write the story. It's a timely issue--sexual predators within the church--and tough subject matter. Yet it's a happy holiday romance, too. I hope you'll give it a read.

 Click to Purchase

Since it's gift giving season, consider copies of these anthologies as presents to the romance readers on your list. The anthology is offered in both print and e-book, or you can download the individual stories for .99 each.   

And don't forget to enter the drawing for the iTunes gift card.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

FOSTER CARE ~ Drake Springs Book 2




What do you think when you hear "Foster Care?" In Drake Springs, "Foster Care" isn't used in the usual sense. Foster Care, located in Foster County and run by the two Foster sisters, is a nursery school and daycare facility. Actually, it's the nursery school and daycare. Drake Springs is a small town, and before the sisters opened Foster Care, working parents had few options for childcare. 

Kirby and Mandy Foster share a passion for children and education, so their chosen career paths make sense. Both vow to keep Foster Care open even in the event they marry. In Kirby's case, marriage is highly unlikely. She's gun shy after her ex betrayed her. Older sister Mandy is just too picky to find Mr. Right.


When a private investigator asks Kirby out to dinner, she knows it's a safe date. He'll soon head back to New Jersey, and she's not serious about any guy. But Nick Tomasi isn't just any guy. He's amazingly easy to talk to (and amazingly easy on the eyes, too). In fact, he seems eerily familiar. It's as if she's known him her entire adult life. How could that be?


As for Nick, could the pretty red-haired Kirby knock him off his game? Soon he falls victim to her "Foster Care" and almost forgets his real reason for the trip to Drake Springs. When Kirby finds out, all hope for a future with her almost soul mate evaporates. Can Nick save the day and win the girl, or will he ride off into the sunset?


Foster Care is available in digital formats from the following sites:




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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Where is Harper, Georgia?


The fourth and final holiday story in Christmas Blessings is mine, Hometown Blessings. The title's "hometown" is fictional Harper, Georgia, which is located vaguely near Cleveland, Georgia, in the mountains.

If you visit Cleveland (or any of the area's towns) you'll get a feel for the small town of Harper. My mental model for the town actually was Jasper, Georgia, but I wanted it located a bit closer to Gainesville and Atlanta. Folks in the North Georgia mountains get along. As with most small towns, they band together to help neighbors in need. Plenty of churches of all denominations dot the landscape, and there's a town square with the county courthouse and surrounding local businesses.

And there's good eats! In fact, the "Good Eats" man himself, Alton Brown, is from Georgia. The Smith House in Dahlonega and the Dillard House in Dillard are just two of the many family style restaurants where great local cuisine is served in large bowls (all you can eat!) that get passed around the table. Some of these seat you at large tables with strangers, but you won't be strangers long. Nothing breaks the ice like breaking bread together--usually cornbread.

The Moonlight Diner sits right in the center of Harper, right on the town square, and owner Maudine Jones serves the best biscuits in the South. It's where locals gather for the lunch special or simply for a coffee break. If you're law enforcement, Maudine gives you free coffee, so guess where local cops take their breaks.

Right before Thanksgiving, Harper decorates the town with lighted candy canes on each lamp post. Every place of business participates with lights of their own. The first Saturday in December is the parade and festival, followed that evening by the tree lighting and, weather permitting, street dance.

Welcome to Harper, Georgia. Y'all come on in and sit a spell. Get to know the friendly folks and yummy food. Enjoy Hometown Blessings.

And don't y'all forget to enter the giveaway! You can enter again today even if you've already participated.





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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tour Low Lake, Florida

Multi-published romance author Patty Howell is today's guest blogger, and she created her own southern town for her Christmas story, Low Lake. Patty calls Suwannee County, Florida, home now but has lived all over the world. She's known as a skilled editor, too. And she's also known as my friend and colleague. Be sure to read her story, The Blessing of Forgiveness, part of Christmas Blessings.






The setting for the Blessing of Forgiveness is Low Lake, a fictionalized small town in North Florida that borders Suwannee County. The town has grown over the last twenty years and now hosts about 20,000 residents. For big-city shopping and more elegant dining the townsfolk can travel to Jacksonville, Tallahassee, or Gainesville.

Low Lake’s fame is its churches. Almost every denomination is served and they work together to take care of the less fortunate living among them. Although snow isn’t an attraction at Christmas time, the love and warmth of its residents will melt even the coldest of hearts.

Some of my characters were born and raised in Low Lake, others have moved here from far and wide, but all agree on one thing: even in its growth, Low Lake takes care of its own.
Don't miss Christmas in Low Lake, Florida. And don't miss out on the giveaway. You may enter every day for a print copy of The Heart of Christmas.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Magic of Mistletoe, Tennessee

When it comes to Christmas tradition, no town does a better job than Mistletoe, Tennessee. Just ask its creator, author Judith Leigh, our next guest poster. Judy is a good friend, and her compassion and sensitivity show up in her writing.




My setting for Mistletoe Blessings came about one day when I was looking through a travel magazine. I spotted a picture of a snow-covered town, the kind that you see on a Courier & Ives Christmas card. The caption read Why Not Spend Christmas on Lookout Mountain. I knew where I was going to send my heroine, and since they grow Mistletoe around the area that is what I named my town.

Mistletoe is in Tennessee. The small town has grown somewhat and boasts a population of 7,950 residents. When they want to do heavy shopping and fancy eating, they go to Nashville or Chattanooga. Mistletoe is noted for its magical happenings. Many tourists have experienced the strange feelings that come over them while looking at the town’s angel statue. It stands near the center of town next to a Gazebo. It’s a place where dreams come true.     

Many of my characters were born and raised there. Others left then returned to stay forever. Warmth and love surround this town. The citizens are always there for each other with a helping hand and encouragement. It’s a place that once you come here you don’t want to leave; and if you do leave, you’ll come back again and again. 

Come on, why not plan a trip to Mistletoe? See what magic awaits this Christmas. We’re waiting for y'all at the cafĂ© with a glass of milk and a piece of Tami’s Christmas cake.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway. You may enter every day! 


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Monday, November 10, 2014

Welcome to Stableton, Florida


Today's guest post is from Susan Sweet, friend and author of inspirational stories for Highland Press and mysteries for Wings ePress. Susan takes us on a tour of her story's small town.

Dan Forest returned to his home town Stableton, Florida, after losing his wife and daughter to the devastating floods of Hurricane Katrina. He needed to be around his family and friends to put his life back together.
Stableton is a fictional small town in northern Florida, where there are fewer than 25,000 people. It boasts one major fire department, a sheriff's office, one hospital, and one large shopping strip which includes a major grocery store. Everyone there either knows you or has heard of you, but in a nice way. The closest major town is Jacksonville. If you need the attractions that city holds, you have to travel only 35 miles.
The citizens are friendly, helpful and actually care about the well-being of their fellow neighbors and friends. This is the town I've picked for my character's haven. This is the town where Betty and her daughter Amber rejoin their family to try and move on after tragedy struck them. You'll see how the family atmosphere of this small town steps in to do just that very thing.

Don't miss A Flood of Blessings, the lead story in Christmas Blessings. And don't forget to enter the giveaway. You may enter every day.

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Saturday, November 08, 2014

Small Town Holiday Stories

I'm a sucker for corny holiday stories. When George Bailey races through the snowy Christmas Eve to the town square of Bedford Falls yelling "Merry Christmas, Mr. Potter" I choke up. It's a Wonderful Life is a wonderful lesson in appreciating what we have.

Shopping for books, I'm drawn to cover art featuring a snow-covered town square decorated for Christmas. During November and December, my default channel on my TV is Hallmark because the network shows holiday films every day. Some I've watched a dozen times, like November Christmas, and I still boo hoo when the town pulls out all the stops to move up the calendar for a leukemia-stricken little girl (Spoiler alert: She lives. I couldn't watch it if she didn't).


Sure, good holiday stories are set in large cities, too, none better than Miracle on 34th Street. My first trip to the Big Apple included a shopping trip to the Macy's on 34th. Of course. Unfortunately, it was August and St. Nicholas wasn't there yet. Most of my favorites, though, take place in small towns.


My writing colleagues (and now my good friends!) and I put together an anthology of inspirational stories featuring feel-good Christmas stories set in small, Southern towns. Over the next few days, we'll give you a tour of each story's community.






We believe Christmas Blessings makes a good gift for the readers on your list. You may enjoy our previous anthology, The Heart of Christmas. The set would make a doubly good gift. Be sure to enter the giveaway to win a free copy of The Heart of Christmas. You can enter every day!


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Saturday, November 01, 2014

NATIONAL AUTHORS DAY

Who knew? November 1 is, among other things, officially National Author's Day, a day when you show your appreciation for authors you've read, especially those whose stories made an impact on your life.

So many authors have impacted my life. Where to begin? Of course, there are the classics, like Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and Mark Twain. Leo Tolstoy, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald. But today I pick one, and sadly he's gone. Died too soon. Here is my tribute to...

Michael Crichton.

I first read Michael Crichton after seeing a movie in the 1970s called The Carey Treatment (starring James Coburn and Jennifer O'Neil). The film credits mentioned the novel upon which it was based as A Case of Need by Jeffrey Hudson (It would be decades before I learned Jeffrey Hudson was a pseudonym for John Michael Crichton). I found the book and read it. A page turner, it surpassed the movie (although the film was exciting!), as is often the case with novels-turned-movies. 

After discovering his work, I couldn't get enough and devoured every book he'd written. I soon learned he was also a screenwriter, and his screenwriting credits included such gems as RunawayWestworld, Twister, and Robin Cook's novel-turned-film Coma.

But the novel that grabbed me and wouldn't let go--for whatever reasons--was Jurassic Park. In childhood I had a fascination with dinosaurs that led me to books like Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Mysterious Island by Jules Verne, and I guess it lingered. I read the book on the MARTA on my way to work in downtown Atlanta and became so engrossed that (thank God my bosses never caught me!) I once smuggled the book into the Ladies Room so I could sit in private and finish a chapter. Now that is one compelling read! I finished it in a day (during my ride home) and then wanted more!

Soon as I finished the book, I heard there would be a movie. The movie doesn't follow the book exactly, of course, or they'd lose the PG rating and younger audience. The film version is good but could never engross me the way Crichton's book had. I still rank Jurassic Park among my top ten favorite books, right up there with A Christmas Carol, Pride and Prejudice, and The Great Gatsby. Yeah, I liked it that much.

I never met Crichton--more's the pity because I sure wanted to--and now he's gone. Too bad. I would like to wish him Happy National Authors Day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Happy Halloween!

I love Halloween. I don't think it's satanic or evil. It's fun. 

I love costumes and makeup, too, which may have something to do with my passion for Halloween. The first year of our marriage, my husband and I threw a costume party. Here's an old Polaroid shot from that event:

The next year we dressed as cavemen (or I suppose I should say, cave people LOL).

 I won't post all our costumes, but here are a couple more favorites. He was a bunny rabbit and I was...well, not sure what I was supposed to be. A skeleton, maybe? :-)


The last party we threw I was a space cadet (don't say it!) and he was Zorro.


We developed other Halloween traditions, too. We watch creature features during the month of October, including (always!) Mel Brooks's Young Frankenstein.

However you celebrate this time of year, have a safe and FUN Halloween!



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

Em & M Books: Blog Tour, Guest Post, & Giveaway - Return to Drak...

Em & M Books: Blog Tour, Guest Post, & Giveaway - Return to Drak...: Return To Drake Springs by Cheryl Norman Series : Drake Springs, #1 Genre : Contemporary Romance Release Date : October 15, 2014...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Meet Maddie James-Author


Please welcome another of my Kentucky author friends, Maddie James!








I’m thrilled to be part of the Enchanted Lover: Tales of Everlasting Love boxed set, with Margaret Ethridge, JC Wardon, Jan Scarbrough, JM Kelley, and Cat Shaffer. This wonderfully diverse set of paranormal novels is sure to please. No vampires and no werewolves, but there is magic, ghosts/spirits, mystics, witches, reincarnation, and time-travel. That enough to scratch your paranormal itch?



My book, Entranced, is the lead book in my Soul Mates series. 

Here’s the blurb:

Can souls touch through time and hold on when all odds are against them?

Claire Winslow vacations on an East Coast barrier island, content with her life and her potential future—until the illusion of a man walking the misty shore haunts her. Then one kiss—a beautiful, soulful, stolen kiss in the night—and her life changes forever.


Nearly 300 years past, Jack Porter is in hot pursuit of his kidnapped wife. Not an easy feat considering the year is 1718 and the kidnapper is the notorious pirate Blackbeard aka Edward Teach. Determined to rescue his wife and take the pirate’s head in the process, Jack steals aboard the pirate’s ship to save her.


Entranced sends Jack and Claire on a wild search through time, not only for the resolution to a powerful attraction between them, but also for a historical artifact that holds the key to their future happiness—the coveted silver-plated chalice made from Blackbeard’s skull.

***
The year was 1990 (I think). I had just discovered Romance Writers of America and was attending a yet-to-be-official Kentucky chapter meeting. I’d met informally with a couple of the women who were pulling the chapter together. The lady who was soon to be the president had just returned from the RWA convention.

During the meeting she pulled out a thick, red, hardback novel, placed it on the table, and said, “And this publisher was giving away this novel. I assume they think she is going to be huge! Why would they put a hardback novel on the chair of every attendee at dinner if they didn’t think so?”
She passed the book around. I held it in my hands and could only dream. I jotted down the title, and soon thereafter, bought my own copy.

That book was Diana Galbadon’s Outlander. And yes, she of course, turned out to be huge.

Outlander was my introduction to time travel novels – especially romantic time travel novels. I fell in love with Jamie Fraser like most every other woman who has read the books. I loved the idea of falling through time—how does that work, exactly? And was curious about how to handle parallel universes, and make everything fit together.

The thought of escape, disappearance, of not being in control of what was happening to you, or where you had landed, intrigued me.

And as years rolled on, after reading the first few books in the series, I knew that I needed to pen one of my own. How? I wasn’t sure. And I definitely didn’t whip one or two out within a few months. I can easily say this writing project has been with me for two decades.

At this point in my writing career, I was a neophyte. I’d been stabbing at contemporary category romance, sending my work out to Harlequin and Silhouette. Unsuccessfully. What made me think I could pull off something incredibly complex like a time travel novel? Or a series?

I suppose it was the immediate love I had for the genre. It was different, at least to me. I’d never read anything like it before. And I knew I had to go for it. I also knew it would be tricky, and that I needed to take my time with it.

While on a family vacation during spring break of 1992, I found my premise, and the setting. Pirates, the ocean, the Outer Banks of North Carolina. My next step was research. And finally, I started to write. And write. And write.

And now, here we have it. The five book Soul Mates series, with the first three books released, and books four and five coming in winter/spring 2015. I'm so excited to have Entranced be included with this boxed set, so that more readers hopefully can be turned on to this series. Enjoy!


Remember, here are the details for the Enchanted Lover boxed set!



Seven Novels of Mystical, Magical and Paranormal Romance 


PARAMOUR by Margaret Ethridge (ghost)
Two men: one living, one dead, and both vying for her love. Camellia Stafford has never been alone in her room. For twenty years, she's been engaged in a fierce power struggle with her bedroom's previous tenant, Frank DeLuca, the ghost trapped in the light fixture above her bed.



ENTRANCED by Maddie James (time travel, reincarnation)
Jack and Claire set out on a wild search through time, not only for the resolution to a powerful attraction between them, but also for a historical artifact that holds the key to their future happiness--the coveted silver-plated chalice made from Blackbeard's skull.



MYSTIC THUNDER by JC Wardon (witch, mystic)
Millennia of tempestuous ancestral history forewarn Rayne Cavanaugh to hide her ability to communicate with ghosts. But-- When the nephew of the man she just can't resist goes missing in the mountains of Mystic Waters, West Virginia, she must decide between self-preservation and love.



RUNNING OUT OF TIME by Cheryl Norman (time travel)
When Stacy Webber travels to Germany for her best friend's wedding, she loses more than her luggage and purse. She lands in a different time, fifty years ago, with no idea how to return to her world.



TIMELESS by Jan Scarbrough (psychic, ghost, reincarnation)
When Beth Abbott receives a surprise inheritance from her birth mother, she travels to the family's nineteenth century mansion in Old Louisville, KY, now a bed and breakfast. There she meets the resident ghost, a little girl whose crying not only scares, but also intrigues guests.



MAN OF HER DREAMS by Cat Shaffer (dreams, parallel times)
Jessi Flint has a perfectly good life with a successful business and the perfect man. So, he's only in her dreams...until her flaky assistant goes to a New Age fair and Jessi suddenly begins receiving gifts with love notes signed by a mysterious Damian.



ALMOST MAGIC by J.M. Kelley (magic, witch, gifts)
When it came to Vivian Burroughs' unique connection with nature, her grandmother always said, 'Mediocrity may not burn as bright as a firecracker, but it seldom blows up in your face.' But the old woman never advised her on what to do when a sexy new neighbor stokes the flames of attraction.








Enchanted Lovers Blog Tour

Contest Starts October 7 - October 20, 2014


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Friday, October 17, 2014

RUNNING OUT OF TIME IN A COLD WAR


Special Sale Price: 99¢


RUNNING OUT OF TIME, my time travel novel that's included in the Turquoise Morning Press's Enchanted Lover--Tales of Everlasting Love boxed set, takes the heroine back fifty+ years to West Germany during the Cold War. Younger readers may have missed the Cold War. Some of us remember the tension and terror of the constant threat of nuclear war. Scary times.

Take fifty-two years ago this month. Perhaps you've read or seen history programs about the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was in junior high school and the crisis is permanently etched in my memory. On October 14, a U-2 spy plane shot photographs proving that Soviet missiles were being erected in Cuba. To prevent alarming the American public, and to conceal his evidence from the U.S.S.R. (and some say, for political timing because of the upcoming midterm elections), President John F. Kennedy kept the buildup of Soviet missiles in Cuba a closely guarded secret. On October 17, a second U-2 plane photographed more missiles, missiles with enough range to strike anywhere in the continental United States. 


Diplomacy failed on October 18 when Andrei Gromyko denied any buildup of military weaponry in Cuba. Rather than confront him with the evidence, President Kennedy maintained secrecy and met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff on a course of action. As a teen, I knew only what the president told us in his televised speech on October 22. The United States would quarantine the island of Cuba (a nice way of saying "blockade") until the missiles were removed. It wasn't until years later I learned how frighteningly close we came to war. The military wanted to invade Cuba, and who knows what would've ensued.


Fifty-six USNC warships and eight aircraft carriers circled the waters around Cuba enforcing the quarantine. As I remember it, the next few days were the most stressful of the Cold War. U.S. military bases worldwide were on high alert. Nuclear war seemed imminent when a U-2 stationed in Alaska wandered into Soviet airspace and encountered Soviet fighter jets. Fortunately, the U-2 escaped and returned unharmed, but not before a group of American fighter jets launched. In Cuba, a U-2 was shot down. The nation was on edge, and I suddenly wished my dad had built that fallout shelter we'd seen on television.


Eventually, both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Premier Khrushchev backed down from their military threats and reached an agreement. The Soviets would dismantle and remove all missiles from Cuba and the United States would lift its quarantine and remove missiles from Turkey. By the end of November, all Soviet missiles were gone from Cuba. One year later, President Kennedy was dead and by October, 1964, Khrushchev left office. He never recovered from losing face. Backing down from Kennedy was viewed by party leaders as a sign of weakness for the USSR.


My story takes place in the weeks following the Cuban Missile Crisis and is set in an actual U.S. Army base in Germany. It isn't a good time or place for a modern time-traveling Hooter's girl! 




Enchanted Lovers Blog Tour

Contest Starts October 7 - October 20, 2014


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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

RETURN TO DRAKE SPRINGS now!

Today is release day for RETURN TO DRAKE SPRINGS. I am excited to launch this category romance series with Turquoise Morning Press. RETURN TO DRAKE SPRINGS is the first of a six-book "Next Door" series of romance stories, all set in the small Florida town of Drake Springs.



Lance George debates his decision to return to his hometown, but the price is right on the abandoned veterinary hospital he hopes to buy. He’s saved his money to open his practice by living frugally and purchasing wisely. There’s no room in his life for wasteful spending. His alcoholic mother squandered everything she had when he was growing up, leaving him with an obsessive motivation to achieve financial security.

Iris Porter is unaware that she broke Lance’s heart in high school. She’s too busy trying to earn a living in a tough economy. She hopes to reclaim her old job as a veterinary assistant when Lance reopens the town’s only animal clinic. Popular and friendly, Iris is known to be generous to a fault. When a friend’s baby is stricken with leukemia, she organizes fundraisers and enlists Lance’s help.

Lance’s feelings for Iris rekindle when he realizes how much she’s changed. The high school snob is at odds with the caring, sensitive woman who wants to help a family in need. But can he reconcile Iris’s generous spirit with his overpowering need for penny pinching? 


Every book in the series begins with a post from the town's newspaper editor. Here is a sneak peek:

From The Drake Springs Democrat, 
Amy Gillespie, editor.


Welcome to this week’s edition of “Town Crier.” 
Don’t believe everything you hear about small towns. There is plenty going on in Drake Springs, Florida. We have an engagement announcement in the Community section. The dean at Drake College of Liberal Arts, Samuel Drake, is getting married to Victoria Draper of Tampa. This is happy news for the couple but sad news for our annual bachelor auction for charity. Sam Drake always earned generous bids from the women. 
In addition to the lovebirds, the love bugs have returned this month in full force. The swarms of insects that blacken windshields and threaten radiators show up every May and September. Along with our spring visitors, hot weather has returned. So if you’re new to the North Florida area, I say, “Yes. This is normal. Sorry.” At least we don’t need snow removal equipment and chains in winter. I’ll take that trade-off. 
My secret source in real estate says sales have picked up. Look for a couple of new businesses opening soon. Has someone finally purchased the Wilson House? It would make a lovely bed and breakfast (hint, hint). We also need a barista and a veterinarian. Any takers? 
Until next time, remember it’s not gossip if it’s true!


Amy


If some of these names seem familiar, you must have read Reclaim My Life or Rebuild My World, two romantic suspense novels that started my attachment to the small town of Drake Springs, Florida. Or perhaps you read the short story Veiled Threat, part of the Wedding Day Collection anthology.

If you're new to Drake Springs, fear not. The friendly citizens will make you feel right at home. Enjoy!


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Meet author JM Kelley.




JM Kelley is the author of Almost Magic, a paranormal romance novel included in the boxed set Enchanted Lover: Tales of Everlasting Love.


When it came to Vivian Burroughs's unique connection with nature, her grandmother always said, "Mediocrity may not burn as bright as a firecracker, but it seldom blows up in your "face.' But the old woman never advised her on what to do when a sexy new neighbor stokes the flames of attraction.

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When Almost Magic was with my lovely editor, Karen, I may have gone through about eighty different potential titles for the story. I’d never written paranormal before. I didn’t really know how to capture in just a couple words what was going on in the pages. The problem, I came to realize, was this: I was trying to find a complicated title for a simple premise.
Almost Magic has a good bit of, well…magic. It has witches and ghosts and mystical matchmaking. But it’s not about that.

It’s about finding magic in the ordinary. According to Vivian Burroughs, our (slightly) enchanted heroine, her grandmother once told her, “Mediocrity may not burn as bright as a firecracker, but it seldom blows up in your face.”
This is Vivian’s private mantra. This is what drives her. Growing up with not-so-ordinary gifts drives her to find extraordinary ordinariness.

Hopefully, when you get to the end of Almost Magic, you’ll see the point I was trying to make all along. Magic isn’t just found in the pages of a book. It’s all around us.

There’s magic to be found in a chilly autumn sunset. In waves crashing on the shore. There’s magic in a child’s laughter. There’s even magic there when you’re feeling low and your usually aloof cat chooses that moment to curl up in your lap and make you feel a little better.

Most of all, there’s magic when you meet that one person who makes your heart skip a beat every time you hear him speak your name. You know it has to be magic, too, because while your heart is skipping that beat, you’ve completely forgotten he’s standing before you, wearing black socks and tan sandals.

Love isn’t always easy to find, even for those given a mystical edge in life. In the end, even the most magical among us want the same thing: Someone who gets us, through and through.


That’s the enchanted story, and I’m sticking to it. 

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