Oh my goodness, readers, do you ever have one of those days where you have a million things to do and you get literally zero accomplished? That was my day yesterday, so here we are on Saturday having our Fall Into Romance interview because yesterday was just not happening. But I'm so excited to have author Tamie Dearen with us today to share her favorite scene from Restoring Romance. I've had the privilege of reading this one and it is such a fun story!
First, let's learn a little about Tamie. Tamie Dearen lives in Texas with her very romantic husband—the inspiration for her romance heroes. They have two beautiful daughters, both of whom are happily married, and they’ve been blessed with two awesome grandsons. A dentist in private practice for thirty years, Tamie plays a variety of musical instruments and spends every available spare minute writing books.
Sounds fun and busy! As I said earlier, I really loved reading Restoring Romance and one of my favorite scenes is the one Tamie is sharing with us today. Of it, she said, "Adam spies a new girl in town—one who’s very attractive—at the pet adoption tent, with a cat in her arms. Adam, who is terribly allergic to cats, rushes over to intervene, taking with him a humongous mutt dog to offer as a substitute."
Curious to know more about Restoring Romance?
She’s a big city chef who likes cats. He’s a small town mayor who restores antiques. But even with feline allergies at play, true love is nothing to sneeze at.
When Ash Hendrix moves into her aunt’s historic home in Romance, Oregon, she’s ready to bring New York City style to the sleepy little town. But her dream of remodeling the old home into a stylish restaurant is cut short when the mayor interferes. Her opposite in every way, the infuriating Adam is the last man she could ever be attracted to. So why can’t she stop thinking about him?
Mayor Adam Walker can’t believe the cute blond he met at the festival is the woman who’s trying to destroy his family’s legacy. Initially intent on shutting down her plans, he’s shocked to find himself wanting to fulfill them, instead. But she doesn’t trust him. And why would she, with her traumatic past and his earlier antagonism?
Can these two opposites find happily-ever-after? Not without a little help from their friends and family… and a can of pink paint.
“You’re not planning to adopt that cat, are you?” Adam asked.
“As a matter of fact, I am. Why shouldn’t I?” She lifted her chin, somehow managing to look down her nose at him while he towered over her. It was so adorable, he couldn’t help smiling.
“You might want to consider other options… better options… A dog, perhaps?” Adam swept his arm back in a grand gesture toward Kujo. “Perhaps this cute guy—he could be a companion and provide protection from… from criminals.”
Her plump kissable lips made a surprised O. “Is there a lot of crime, here?”
“Mmm… not usually, but you never know. Just to be on the safe side, you should consider getting a watch dog.”
Kujo let out a deep woof that rattled Adam’s ribcage, and the cat shrieked, struggling in the girl’s arms. She edged away a few steps.
“I think I need protection from that monster, not by him. Anyway, I’m happy with my choice.”
“Why would you want a cat when you could have a dog? Dogs are so much better.”
“I like cats.” Her eyes narrowed to angry blue slits.
Adam knew he wasn’t making a good first impression, but he figured he could make up for it later. After he prevented this disastrous adoption. Desperate times—desperate measures.
“But a dog loves you, while a cat merely tolerates your existence as a slave.”
“Dogs slobber on your clothes and chew up your shoes.”
“Cats scratch your furniture and spit up hairballs.”
“Dogs lick their private parts and then lick your mouth.”
Hmmm… she had a point. What else could he say to convince her? “I didn’t want to tell you, but this is the last chance for Kujo. He has to find a home today, or they’ll put him down tomorrow.”
He regretted his hasty words the instant tears puddled in her round eyes. Her lip trembled as she stuttered, “I… I still can’t…”
“Adam Walker! Why are you lying to Ash about Kujo?” Erin Walker appeared out of nowhere, waving a finger in his face, and he stepped back in the wake of her fury. Kujo added another deafening bark and the cat howled. Her finger moved down to poke against his chest. “You know good and well Brent would never put an animal down. That’s the whole point of the Finding Forever Animal Rescue.”
“I was only teasing.” He lifted his palms in supplication.
“Ash, I apologize for my brother-in-law’s behavior. There’s no excuse for him.” Erin scowled, her hands on her hips, and Ash matched her angry expression.
“It was just a joke, Erin. Give me a break. I’ll make it up to you.”
Erin crossed her arms as an evil smile slid onto her face.
Oh no! What have I done?
Erin whispered something in Ash’s ear, something that made her press her lips together, as if she were trying not to laugh.
“I suppose, we might be persuaded to forgive you…” Erin opened her eyes wide and blinked rapidly, adopting an innocent tone. “Yes, I think we could forgive you if you adopted Kujo. After all, he’s been looking for a home for a long time.”
“Wait a minute, Erin…”
“Why wouldn’t you adopt Kujo?” Ash stepped closer, glaring up at him, the cat still in her arms. “Weren’t you telling me what a good idea it would be to adopt him. Why not do it yourself?”
Adam let out a violent sneeze.
“Bless you.” Erin and Ash said in unison.
“I don’t need a dog.” He rubbed his itchy eyes on his sleeve. “And besides, who could afford to feed this guy. He weighs more than me.”
Erin made a tsking noise. “You should have thought of that before you got Kujo’s hopes up.”
His sister-in-law was a python, and Adam was her helpless prey. The coils squeezed around his neck. He couldn’t speak.
Erin strode away, calling over her shoulder, “I’ll go get the adoption papers.”
I hope you enjoyed this scene as much as I did. I was torn between feeling sorry for Adam and laughing because he got just what he deserved. Have you ever played a joke that backfired on you?
Just under three weeks until release day! We're excited to share this fun set with you!
It's been a long time since I used my blog for a rant, but I've been letting this one boil under my skin for too long and it's time to let it out. This is not directed at a single person, though there are parts that probably sound like they are, but rather a group of people who seem to think it's okay to get snarky when a parent complains about having a rough day.
Let me give you a quick word of advice: keep your snark monster to yourself.
Look, I get it. Those of you who are older and "wiser" parents might think you've got lots of great advice for the struggling parent. And sometimes you do give great advice. But there is a time and a place to give advice and there's a time to just keep quiet. Or at least pretend to be sympathetic. Those of you who don't have children might see that complaint and think to yourselves, "What did you think would happen when you had that baby?" Or you might just not realize that sometimes parenting is rough. However, whether you are an older parent, childless, or also a younger parent, it is never okay to get snarky with a struggling parent. Ever. And really, let's extend this to it's just not okay to get snarky with someone who is struggling, no matter how small the struggle may seem to you.
It might be tempting when you see that parent who always seems to complain about her children being out of control to say something about discipline. But unless she asked for your advice, do not give it. The reality is: she probably does discipline her children. But guess what? Children sometimes misbehave no matter what type of discipline program you use. That young parent might still be trying to find what works for her children. And with the sheer number of mommy blogs claiming to have the perfect solution to any parenting problem, finding what works can be surprisingly difficult. Or, she might have a system that normally works great for her children and they're just having a bad day. Don't make her day worse by giving her some snarky comment. She doesn't need to hear, "Oh, it only gets worse" or "Someday you'll miss this" or "Enjoy this while you can" or any other mix of those messages. Oh, and for those who are childless, this is absolutely not the time to say, "This is why I don't have children." What she needs to hear is, "I'm sorry you're having a rough day" or "This too shall pass" or "Hang in there, mama, you're doing fine."
Yesterday, I was that struggling mom. My kiddos were bouncing-off-the-walls crazy. I normally don't like to complain on Facebook, in part because I get really sick of the snark monsters showing up on my posts. But yesterday, they were so awful, I wanted to be able to vent. Even just a little bit and release some of that steam. And I was trying to lighten my own mood and situation by reminding myself that as bad as my children were being in that moment, they aren't always like that. So I let my Facebook friends know that my children were driving me crazy and were about to discover that early bedtime is a thing. The first two comments were what I needed. Another mom was struggling with her rowdy kiddos too and agreed that early bedtime sounded like a great plan. The next let me know that I was doing fine and my kiddos loved me. Trust me, I needed that reminder. Because right then I was questioning that.
Then the next comment implied that early bedtime would only work for as long as my children couldn't tell time and to enjoy being able to do that while I can.
Let me tell you what, I got mad. My day was already in shambles and I was not in a good mood. Having someone imply that I would stoop to tricking my children into thinking it actually was bedtime incensed me further. For one, I'm too dang lazy to change every clock in my house because seriously, do you realize how many clocks I have in my house between appliances, actual clocks, and media devices? For two, my oldest already can tell time, both on a digital display and a regular, twelve-hour clock. So, attempting to tell him, "Oh it's bedtime" isn't going to work. And for three, deceiving my children about the time in an effort to get them to bed early completely misses the point of, "You're in trouble and as punishment, you are now going to bed."
So, I'll be honest, I let my own snark monster out a bit and replied that deception wasn't the aim and my children were going to know they were going to bed early because they were in trouble.
And the commenter didn't get the hint to drop it. No, they had to come back and respond that putting children to bed early more often punishes the parents than the children.
Seriously? At that point, I knew this blog post would be written, but I waited overnight so I could allow at least some of my anger to melt off. Parenting can be punishing at times. I can agree to that. But you have no right whatsoever to question how I discipline my children. None. I don't really care what worked for you or your children because you are not me and your children are not my children. Let me tell you, there was weeping and wailing at my house when the kiddos realized I was serious about them going to bed early. And it was not me weeping and wailing. They were losing out on playtime and they knew it. They were missing out on dessert and they knew it. They were missing out on seeing Daddy get home from the football game. And they knew it. For my children, going to bed early as a punishment works. Do they end up waking earlier because of it? Sometimes yes, this time no. Would that work for every child? No, obviously it wouldn't. Some children would consider going to bed early a treat. And some children just wouldn't care. But for my children, this solution worked. Do I think it will work forever? No, I don't. But I'm not a one-trick parenting pony. I have many tools in my parenting arsenal and this is just one of them. One that I use only when I'm about to completely and totally lose my mind.
There is enough judgement in our world without adding to it. In fact, there is way too much judgement going around in our world. Social media is like a judgement breeding ground. Rather than adding fuel to that raging wildfire by getting snarky, can't you just keep it to yourself? I can't stop you from thinking it, and I honestly wouldn't try to. Your thoughts and opinions are your own and that's fine. However, just because it comes into your head doesn't mean it should come out of your mouth or through your fingers online.
So please, keep your snark monster to yourself. I don't need him running amok on my Facebook. If you need to, go watch Bambi and listen to Thumper. "If you can't say nothin' nice, don't say nothin' at all."
Anyone else feel like time just keeps speeding up on them? It's Friday and this week I have the delightful Melanie D. Snitker on my blog with her contribution to Fall Into Romance, Finding Forever in Romance. Melanie has enjoyed writing for as long as she can remember. She started out creating episodes of cartoon shows that she wanted to see as a child and her love of writing grew from there. She and her husband live in Texas with their two children who keep their lives full of adventure, and two dogs who add a dash of mischief to the family dynamics. In her spare time, Melanie enjoys photography, reading, crochet, baking, camping, and hanging out with family and friends.
In our boxed set, Melanie's story is the one that sets the stage for the rest of us. It is in Finding Forever in Romance we learn more about the animal shelter and the people who run it. Curious to know more?
From the time he was a child, Brent Todd has helped lost pets find healing and homes. Now, he runs Romance's Finding Forever Animal Rescue. Amid the dogs, cats, donkeys, goats, and exotic animals in his care, he convinces himself he has everything he needs. Then a beautiful woman and her son volunteer to help at the shelter. Brent soon realizes he needs more than the rescue animals to fill the empty spaces in his heart and home.
Dedicated to raising her son, Nicole Crawford views romance as a lovely idea. But between being a single mom and the pain of her past, she refuses to dwell on something so out of reach. To teach her son about helping others, they volunteer at Finding Forever on a temporary basis. But the more time she spends with Brent, the more she realizes it'll be impossible to walk away from him and the shelter with her heart intact. Together, maybe Brent and Nicole will discover a forever family of their own.
The scene we have today isn't at the shelter, but showcases Nicole's workplace. Melanie said of this scene, "This takes place at Romance’s local roller skating rink. Nicole works there and Brent decided to go to the family skate night, hoping for an opportunity to spend some time with her. He’s been skating for a while as he waited for Nicole to get a break from working the front counter.
"My brothers and I were homeschooled and when we were teens, one of the monthly activities was roller skating. We looked forward to it each time. They’d play our favorite songs and we’d laugh, visit with friends, and sing along. I also played roller hockey with a homeschool team and later in college with a small-time league. When I wrote this scene, it made me smile and brought back all those happy memories. My husband and I now homeschool our children, and our local group has roller skating every week. I still strap on a pair of inline skates and get on the rink with my kids from time to time."
And now for our scene:
Brent checked the time. With over a half hour until Nicole would get a breather, he decided he’d better sit down for a while. Otherwise, he’d be done before he even got a chance to spend time with her. He found a spot at one of the few picnic-style tables on one end and enjoyed watching all the people skate, laugh, and visit.
A while later, a shadow fell on him and stopped. Nicole stood in front of him, hands on her hips and inline skates on her feet. “I’m surprised you’re still here.”
Brent shrugged. “Sometimes I don’t know when to quit.” He gave her a pointed stare and was satisfied to see pink creep up her neck and into her face. “You’ve been working hard.”
She glanced over at the front desk. “The hardest part of my evening is over. Natalie will keep an eye on the front counter for the rest of the evening. Now I just need to stay awake.”
“If there are no more people coming in, what do you do for the rest of the evening?”
“I’m mostly a chaperone. Concessions and the skate counter are manned by other people.” She pointed toward the DJ. “And I could only choose the music once before getting kicked out of that spot.” They laughed. “I usually end up skating for a while and visiting with people. But yeah, Friday nights are long ones by the time we clean up and close.”
“So, if I head back onto the rink, I might run into you out there?” He crossed his arms in front of him, well aware he’d presented a dare.
She shrugged but couldn’t quite keep the amusement from her face. “Maybe.”
The DJ put on the original Ghostbusters song and most of the people on the rink cheered and sang along. Brent laughed. “I haven’t heard that one in ages.”
“Trust me, if you stick around here in the evenings, you’ll hear many songs from your childhood.”
Brent stood and skated onto the rink, happy to see Nicole was right behind him. They joined the crowd and skated side-by-side for a while. Ten minutes later, the DJ announced it was now couples only, and you had to be holding hands to stay on the rink.
A lot of people found a partner to skate with whether it was a parent, sibling, friend, or spouse. Brent held a hand out to Nicole. “Don’t leave me out here all by myself.” He winked.
She shook her head at him as if she didn’t quite know what to do with him before sliding her hand into his. The surrounding air had chilled her skin as they’d skated, and he liked the idea of warming it back up again. He laced their fingers together and gave her hand a squeeze. This felt right; as if her hand belonged in his.
They skated past the tables as Tony took a seat at one of them. “I take it your son isn’t a fan of couple’s skate.”
Nicole laughed at that and seemed relieved to have something else to focus on. “Oh, no. He’s at the age where the thought of participating in any way may as well signal the end of life as we know it.”
Brent chuckled. “I remember those days.”
“Yep, I’m fine with them. I’m not ready for him to grow up yet. Girlfriends, jobs, etc. I want to hold onto my boy a little longer if I can.”
They made their way around the rink as Brent studied her profile. “I’m surprised there aren’t guys lined up waiting to skate with you tonight.”
Nicole noticeably picked up the pace and seemed to look anywhere else but him. He’d assumed she was still single. What if that wasn’t the case? The thought of anyone else out here holding her hand caused a mix of protectiveness and jealousy to rise in his chest. When Nicole said nothing, he tugged on her hand just enough to slow her down. She glanced at him.
Brent had to know, even if roller skating might not be the most appropriate place to ask. “Are you seeing anyone?”
She gave her head a little shake. “No.”
Who knew one little word could inspire such a sense of relief? He flashed her a smile. “Good.”
Such fun! Did you ever have to work at getting someone to date you?
If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll already know that this week's author is one of my favorites. She's a talented writer, a wonderful friend, and about the sweetest and most encouraging woman you could hope to meet. Yes, I'm talking about the fabulous Shanna Hatfield. This week she's joining me to share her favorite scene from her contribution to the Fall Into Romance set, Blown Into Romance. A little about her:
After spending her formative years on a farm in Eastern Oregon, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield turns her rural experiences into sweet historical and contemporary romances filled with sarcasm, humor, and hunky heroes.
When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing or covertly hiding decadent chocolate from the other occupants of her home, Shanna hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.
Shanna loves to hear from readers. Follow her online at:
ShannaHatfield | Facebook | Newsletter | BookBub | Pinterest |
The scene she shared is both hilarious and sweet. She says of it, "I like this scene for a number of reasons. It shows how desperate Brooke is for help. She's used to taking care of everything herself so for her to call someone and ask for help is huge. I like the humor element. I mean, what would you do if you came home and found three little piglets had escaped their confines and were running loose in your house (or business full of breakable glass objects)? It also illustrates Blayne's character to perfection. He doesn't ask people "why do you need my help?" Instead, he jumps in to lend a hand. Oh, and let's not forget the hint of romance. Even though they just met, you get a clear idea that Brooke is interested in Blayne, at least that deep, gravelly voice of his. "
Curious about the story? Artist Brooke Roberts spent her life without roots, wandering from town to town. When she seeks refuge from a freak storm in the town of Romance, she decides to stay and open a blown glass studio. Determined to immerse herself in the community, she adopts a family of pigs. Brooke is unprepared for the chaos and comfort they bring to her world, or the dashing cowboy who rescues her heart.
Solid, dependable Blayne Grundy runs a busy ranch, volunteers on various committees, and takes in stray animals too large to stay at the local animal rescue. Then a chance encounter with a beautiful, beguiling woman leaves him so befuddled, he can barely remember his own name. His predictable organized life is about to be blown away by free-spirited Brooke.
A sweet, lighthearted novella, Blown Into Romance highlights the mighty power of love and letting go.
And now, let's go see what Brooke needs help with...
She opened the back door and stepped inside, listening to squeals and unhappy oinks emanating from the pig room.
“I’m coming, Winnie,” she called, racing to the room. Much to her dismay, she found only Winnie and little Roo in the room. The three boys had edged away the piece of plywood she’d used to block the doorway and escaped.
“Oh, this is bad,” she said, tossing down her purse and searching for the missing piglets. She found Eeyore curled up on her shop apron, taking a nap. Robin had somehow climbed into a box of labels and whined in protest when she lifted him out.
“You need to stay out of places you shouldn’t be, Robin,” she admonished the pig as she set him back in the room with his mother. “Where’s Tigger?” she asked, wishing he’d magically appear.
An hour later, she still hadn’t found the piglet. She’d searched every inch of her workshop as well as the front of the store. She’d crawled around her apartment, looking under furniture, in her closet, even beneath her bed.
Frantic, out of patience, and uncertain what to do, she riffled through her junk drawer, desperate to find Blayne’s card. Finally locating it in a stack of junk mail she hadn’t opened, she dialed his number and waited. And waited.
On the fourth ring, he answered.
If she hadn’t been on the verge of hysteria about her pigs, that deep gravelly tone might have sent her into an entirely different sort of fit, one that would have turned her limbs languid and brain to mush. As it was, though, she had more important problems than the way her body and soul ached to react to his voice.
“Blayne?” she asked, completely aware she spoke to him. No one else could make her knees turn to a gelatinous mass just by uttering a simple greeting.
“Yes,” he said, sounding cautious.
“This is Brooke. Brooke Roberts. We met yesterday at the festival and you helped me bring home my pigs.”
“How are the little oinkers?” he asked, a smile evident in his voice.
“Horrible!” Brooke took a deep breath to keep her tears at bay. “I went to the feed store to buy food and the woman there kept trying to sell me stuff for a cat. The guy at the pet store told me to go the feed store. If I go back there, I might just smack the woman into next week if she tells me I need catnip again. I came home to find the pigs had escaped and I can’t find Tigger. I’m a terrible adoptive parent! Maybe I should send them back to Brent or someone who doesn’t lose baby pigs. Winnie’s starving and I don’t know what to do.” She rambled. “I don’t know why I called you, but I’m just… I’m at…”
Rather than ask her questions, tell her to calm down, or laugh at her, he simply said, “I’m on my way.”
Poor Brooke! Have your pets ever gotten into mischief you couldn't solve on your own?
Only about a month until Fall Into Romance releases! Preorder now for a great deal on a fun, romantic set.
It's Friday! This week my dear friend, Franky A. Brown, is joining me to talk about her contribution to our Fall Into Romance boxed set, Wired for Romance. Franky has always called the South home and loves to write about it. She holds an English degree from the University of South Carolina and can’t seem to stop reading. She is the author of chick lit, humor, and romantic comedy about life, love, and Southern women. She also writes a gluten-free recipe blog, Julia and Me, Gluten-free.
When asked to share a little about her story and why she picked this particular scene, she said, "My novella ,Wired for Romance is about a therapist, Audrey, who hires an electrician, Josh, who happens to be her client's ex-boyfriend. Sparks fly and it becomes an issue because Josh doesn't know Audrey is working with his ex-girlfriend who has told her numerous unpleasant things about him. I loved writing this scene because of the element of suspense mixed with humor. Audrey has sprained her ankle and is feeling a little out-of-it from pain medication. Josh has taken her new dog Toby home with him to give her time to rest. So Audrey is home, alone, in a house with no electricity. It's something I can relate to. It's easy to become acutely aware of every sound when one is alone in a dark house...and if there is something I know for sure, is how loopy a shot of pain medication can make me."
Curious to know more?
He can rewire her house, but he can’t do a thing about the electricity sparking between them… Therapist Audrey Foster thought helping a difficult client through a breakup would be a challenge, but things get out of hand when the electrician she hires is the client's horrible ex-boyfriend.
Electrician Josh Chadwick needs a big job to pay off some debt and get his mind off women. Rewiring Audrey's house seems perfect, until he finds himself heavily distracted by everything about her, and wondering why she asks so many strange questions. How can Audrey stay professional when she knows so many dark secrets about Josh? And how can Josh convince Audrey, he’s not a bad catch after all?
And now for the fun part:
A loud, deep scream outside made her jump and she tightened the grip on her phone. What on earth was that sound? She clung to her pillow and struggled to breathe. Was someone being murdered outside her house? Was an animal dying?
She punched through her contacts with trembling hands and clicked to call Rob.
She brought the phone to her ear as a groggy voice answered. “Hello?”
“Rob! Oh my gosh, someone or something is outside. There was this horrible scream and this growling…and Toby isn’t here. Not that he’d be able to rescue me from something like that, but it’d at least help if he was here…” Her voice turned into a high pitch and she squeezed her eyes shut. “What if it’s Sasquatch?”
“I’ll be right there, okay?” The phone signal was breaking up. “And I’ll bring Toby.”
“Toby? Rob, is this you?” There was no answer and the call dropped. Then she looked at the screen and realized she’d called Josh. She really had thought she’d hit Rob’s number. “Well, this is the last time I let them give me a shot of painkiller then watch Bigfoot hunters in the dark.”
Okay, so Josh would come to her rescue. It may be embarrassing, but at least she’d get Toby back. It was probably nothing to worry about. Maybe kids were playing early Halloween pranks or something.
The growling noise sounded outside again, and she felt her heart pound nearly audibly. She pulled herself up and took a deep breath. She needed to figure this out. Limping once again toward the kitchen with her flashlight, she gulped and opened the wide blinds on the window.
There was nothing but grass, leaves, and that old white oak tree in the back yard. Behind her fence was a line of trees. Nothing was out there. She shined the flashlight back and forth and sighed. “Everything’s fine. So what was that horrific noise?”
Then the growling sound was back, sounding like it was right by the window. She thought she saw something moving, and she turned her flashlight off to see if she could see better without the glare from the window.
The growling became louder and something inside the oak tree rattled a branch, shaking more leaves out. Something was in the tree.
Then a pair of legs dropped down from the tree. Furry feet dangled in the air and the growling noise seemed louder every second. She squealed and covered her mouth with both hands, dropping back against the wall. Something was in her back yard. In her tree. Growling fiercely. Did Sasquatch growl? Did he climb trees? He certainly had two furry feet.
She dialed Josh again and he answered on the first ring. “I need my dog.”
“On the way right now, are you okay?”
“No, I’m not okay. I need help,” she whispered sharply. “There’s something big and furry and growling in my tree.”
“Animal or human? I’m almost there.”
“If it’s human it’s incredibly hairy. But that growling sound isn’t human.” Audrey clenched the phone tighter and hugged herself with her free arm. “I can’t believe I’m saying this right now. The feet dropped down from the tree and looked furry. Aren’t you the expert on this subject?”
“What kind of animal has two legs, climbs trees, and growls? Do Bigfoots climb trees?”
“Say what? Look, hang tight. I’m about to pull into your driveway.”
“Bring me my dog!”
“Don’t hang up, okay?”
“Okay.” It felt like an eternity as she sat against the wall in the dark, hearing her heart pound in her ears. In reality, only a few minutes passed before she heard Toby’s deep bark outside and she hung up the call. She looked outside again and spied one of the large branches rattling, and a furry-looking human figure leaped from the tree to the top of the side fence, then swung over it to the tree cover on the other side. She blinked, heart stopping.
Next she saw Toby running across the yard to the fence where the creature disappeared and Josh followed.
Then something small and furry jumped out of the tree and ran across the top of the wooden fence. It stopped and growled down at Toby.
Curiosity finally won over her fear, and she hurried as best she could with a sore foot to the back door and pulled it open.
“Toby, it’s okay,” Josh said and gave Toby a head rub, but he didn’t stop barking. The furry thing on the fence disappeared.
“I think I just saw a Sasquatch…” She stood frozen in place on the patio.
Josh walked toward her while Toby continued to bark. “Come on, Toby!” He stopped in front of her and studied her a moment. “Yeah…it was actually a ’possum. A rather angry one.””
“Are you serious? But what was that big animal that ran off?”
“What big animal? ’Possums make a variety of different sounds, it was probably in your tree.”
Her lip started to quiver. “Something on two legs, the size of a man. He was…furry…the feet were furry…”
“There was a man back here? We should call the police.”
“I told you, I think I saw Sasquatch!” Audrey covered her face with both hands, humiliation washing over her. Oh my gosh, I’ve lost my mind.
Josh paused for a moment and pulled her hands from her face. “Are you okay?”
“That scared me to death.” Audrey took in a shaky breath. “You didn’t see anything at all?”
“Just a ’possum.” He spoke slowly. “Do you really think it was a Sasquatch?”
She shook her head, now questioning everything. “To be honest, they gave me a shot at the ER for pain, and then I was watching videos in the dark…and it’s pretty late.”
“Were you watching ghost stories?”
She felt her face warming all over and knew she was turning red. “I may have caught a little of a Bigfoot reality show.” The last part was almost a whisper.
Josh pulled her into his arms and hugged her. She was a little surprised by the hug, but more surprised by how much she didn’t want him to let go of her. She held him and took in several deep breaths.
“It’s okay, whatever it was is gone.” Josh’s words were so tender, his lips were so nearby. She looked into his eyes and wanted to give in to his spell.
Then Toby wedged himself between their legs and they stepped apart. “Toby, you came to save me.” Audrey rubbed his ears and hugged her four-legged friend.
“But I do think we should call the police. There may be someone creeping around the neighborhood.”
She nodded. “Yes, you’re right. It could have been a prowler.”
Audrey continued to pet Toby. She desperately needed the distraction from the tingling sensations running through her body. The way she was feeling toward Josh was not at all appropriate for someone she depended on to restore her electricity, or for a new friend. And if he was Carly’s ex-boyfriend who believed in Bigfoot, she’d allowed herself to briefly buy into the myth and he would probably like that about her. But if it wasn’t, and if he didn’t really believe in the story, maybe he thought she was a therapist in need of serious therapy.
If you enjoyed this snippet, be sure to preorder your copy of Fall Into Romance so you'll be able to enjoy this story and the others the moment it becomes available.
.Last week we saw a little bit of J. J. DiBenedetto's story. This week, Liwen Y. Ho is visiting with her favorite scene from Chasing Romance and a little about herself. Liwen writes sweet and inspirational romance infused with heart, humor, and a taste of home (her Asian roots).
Want to know what Chasing Romance is about?
When pop sensation Chase Lockhart wants more than a room at Izzy Sutton’s Bed and Breakfast, she must decide whether it’s worth opening up her heart to him, especially when he’s eleven years her junior.
The excerpt Liwen shared has a little bit of reality in it. Here's what she said about it: "I was so excited to find out that our stories for Fall into Romance needed to include an animal that our characters would adopt. There are so many animals who need a home, and being able to write about one reminded me of our cocker spaniel who jumped into our car without hesitation the day we adopted him. I based Thor off the dog my sister and brother-in-law adopted two years ago. Sadly, Thor's injuries in the story happened in real life to my fur-nephew, but now that he's found his forever home, he's a much happier dog."
Amid the chatter of the animals, a lone bark caught her attention. It was the dog they’d heard earlier. Izzy walked over to one of the closest kennels where a black Labrador had his nose pressed against the wire door. “Hey sweetie, what’s your name?”
Whining, the dog scratched the crate with his front paws. His movements grew more frenzied by the second.
She knelt and placed one hand against his nose. “You want to come out, don’t you?”
Chase lowered himself beside Izzy. He leaned close to the crate and lifted the brim of his baseball cap to get a better look. “Poor dog. Do you see his back leg?”
Before he could elaborate, the dog began barking wildly. He backed away as far as the kennel would allow and growled, baring his teeth in Chase’s direction.
“Let's give him some space.” Izzy took a few steps away and pulled Chase with her. She spotted his name on the information card attached to his crate. “Thor. His name’s Thor.”
“Seems more like Thor’s evil brother, Loki, if you ask me.”
Shooting him a stern look, she admonished, “He’s not evil, just scared. A lot of these animals came from bad homes before they were brought here. Who knows what he’s been through.”
“I didn’t mean he was evil. Thor’s blond; his brother’s dark-haired. That’s the resemblance I was referring to.” He pointed to the crate’s left side. “You’re right; something happened to him. His back leg’s missing some hair.”
Izzy spotted the area Chase mentioned. Without fur covering it, part of Thor’s hind leg was as hairless and pink as a raw piece of chicken. Why would anyone mistreat such a sweet animal? She felt an unexplainable compassion for the dog and wanted to find out his story.
We're so excited to share this boxed set with you and for you to meet all the wonderful people of Romance!
It's Friday again which means it's time to meet one of the authors in the Fall Into Romance boxed set! This week I'm thrilled to have J. J. DiBenedetto share his favorite scene from his story, Finding Dori.
First, a little bit about him. J.J. DiBenedetto is the author of the Dream Series and the Jane Barnaby Adventures. He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his lovely wife and Danny, a white cat who’s trained them both. He’s originally from Yonkers, New York. He loves the New York Giants, fondue, photography, travel, the opera and he’s a huge science-fiction and fantasy geek.
And a little about the scene he's sharing today: "This scene doesn't in any way come from my life. I went to an all-boys high school, and never attended a football game, for one thing. And, anyway, I was so shy that even had the opportunity to kiss a girl presented itself, I certainly wouldn't have realized it, or gotten up the nerve to do anything about it."
Curious? Here's a fun snippet from Finding Dori, coming Oct. 5th in the Fall Into Romance boxed set.
What was wrong with him? He hadn’t been this nervous on a date since high school.
He remembered it as though it were yesterday. It hadn’t been his first date ever, but it had been the first one since he’d really begun to understand what liking a girl actually meant.
It was a chilly October Saturday, and he was sitting way up high in the bleachers. His jacket was draped over Izzy Sutton’s shoulders, and she was leaning close to him for additional warmth. Jumpy, tongue-tied fifteen-year-old Lucas didn’t dare imagine that she had any other reason for sitting so close, or for resting her head on his shoulder. Or for wearing perfume, and a sweater that fit very tightly and emphasized her every curve.
When the Romance Valley Archers scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to take the lead for good over the Meadowlarks of Portland Central South High, and the rest of the crowd erupted into wild cheering, Young Lucas knew he should act. He knew this was his best – maybe only – chance to make a move. He could kiss her. He should kiss her. Her head was on his shoulder; her lips were only inches from his. It ought to have been the easiest and most natural thing in the world.
Lucas remembered turning his head to face her, putting his hands on her cheeks and moving closer, closer, until their lips were less than an inch apart. He remembered what had happened next, too. His body utterly betrayed him. He burped, sneezed and hiccupped all at once, a combination he had never experienced before, or since. And just like that, the moment, and the opportunity for his first real kiss, was gone.
Poor Lucas! Did you ever have an embarrassing moment on a date?
Be sure to check J.J. DiBenedetto out and if you haven't already, preorder your copy of Fall Into Romance. This is one set you don't want to miss!
More about Finding Dori:
She’s a loud, pushy New Yorker who drives him crazy. He almost ran her over with his truck. Of course they’re perfect for each other…
Dori came to the town of Romance to help a friend. She wasn’t looking for a romance of her own. But when she broke her leg and found herself stuck in Romance for two weeks, romance found her – with the very man who caused her accident.
Lucas wasn’t looking for romance, either. But when the woman who almost killed herself by running in front of his truck turned out to be his next client, romance found him, too.
Dori has two weeks until her leg is healed and she can travel back home to New York. Lucas has two weeks until his job is finished and he won’t have see Dori again. Can the two of them stop sabotaging themselves long enough for Romance to work its magic on them?
I think one of the best parts of working on a group project like Fall Into Romance is getting to see all the fun other authors are having with their stories. Working together to build this little town and fill it with amazing people was such a joy! And yes, I was absolutely starstruck to be working alongside authors I've read and respected for some time.
If you've been visiting our Facebook page, you may have already read Melanie Snitker's interview with fellow author, Liwen Ho. And if you haven't yet, be sure to go check it out! I wanted to do something similar, but also make sure our posts weren't exactly the same. So, I've asked my fellow Romance authors for their favorite scene to write from their novella and if real life ever poked its head in. Today, I'll be sharing my favorite from Katie's Chance for Romance in order to give some extra time to the busy authors. Next Friday, we'll get to start seeing their replies. Are you excited? I know I am!
From Katie's Chance for Romance, we have the town's Costume Parade. Not only was this scene just super fun to write, (Who doesn't love a dashing hero in costume?) but it also has several "real-life" moments in it. I loved showing this playful side of Mike. He's a man who's had his heart broken, but he refuses to give up. And I have to say, if a certain someone showed up on horseback wearing...well, I won't spoil the scene too soon. ;) Let's just say, I'd go for that ride in a heartbeat! And I very much enjoyed surprising Katie. She often seems to be a step ahead, and this time Mike got her for sure.
What also made this scene fun was drawing on real-life experiences to flesh it out. My little town has a Costume Parade for the elementary and younger children every year through our downtown. My kiddos have never needed to trick-or-treat because the downtown shops fill their bags to bursting! You'll also hear Mike, who is a Spanish teacher, call Katie by a special Spanish nickname. While her nickname is not the same as mine, my Prince Charming, who is also a Spanish teacher, has special nicknames for me. And like Katie, those little Spanish words make me feel weak in the knees.
Without any further ado, the Costume Parade from Katie's Chance for Romance:
[Mike] drove to the town square and parked. Cheryl was waiting for him with a bouquet of flowers. “Katie’s lucky I’m a loyal friend, or I’d snatch you up myself tonight,” she teased as he got out of his truck.
“Very funny, Cheryl,” he retorted. “I feel a little ridiculous.”
She laughed. “Believe me, Mike, no woman looking at you tonight is going to have the word ridiculous anywhere in her vocabulary. Dreamy, gorgeous, manly, swoon-worthy…”
“Okay, okay,” Mike interrupted, heat crawling up his neck. “No need to go overboard.”
Cheryl laughed again. “One stunning fall arrangement, as promised,” she said, holding the bouquet out for him.
“Hang on to it for a second would you?” he asked. Mike walked around the trailer and led Licorice out before mounting smoothly. He then reached down for the flowers.
She sighed. “You’re going to leave a trail of broken hearts down Main Street tonight, Michael Elders.”
He rolled his eyes. “Thanks a lot, Cheryl.”
“Anything for you, Zorro,” she replied, trilling the r longer than necessary.
Mike shook his head with a grin. “Come on, Licorice, let’s go.” He waved back at Cheryl before getting Licorice to a brisk trot. He tried to ignore the gawkers as he rode down the street. Despite Cheryl’s affirmation that he looked fine, Mike still felt silly in the costume. Licorice’s hooves clopped loudly as he continued on, drawing stares and squeals from the older members of the parade. Most of the participants were young children who pointed and gasped, “Mama, a horsey! See the pretty horsey?” As he neared Sweet Retreat, his heart thundered in his ears. Earl and Viv made the perfect farmer couple from their matching denim overalls to the straw hats on their heads. Loverboy and Roxette charmed children with their scarecrow costumes while Earl kept them on a firm leash. But Katie stole the show. Make-up gave her a little brown nose and perfect whiskers across her cheeks while a headband sporting fox ears and reddish jumpsuit with a bushy tail completed the ensemble. A bright pink collar sparkled around her neck. He wasn’t sure how someone could look so utterly appealing and innocent at the same time. Swallowing his heart back down to his chest, Mike remembered the next part in his plan. “Hyah!” He kicked Licorice into a canter, going down past Sweet Retreat before turning and running back. He raised the sword above his head and pulled Licorice into a rear, causing his audience to gasp in awe. When the mare landed, he replaced the sword and hopped down from the saddle. Brandishing the flowers before him, he stopped in front of Katie. With his best Spanish accent, he announced, “I have come for mi zorrita. Does she come willingly, or do I carry her off into the night?”
Katie’s eyes widened as a strangled sound escaped her lips.
“As you wish,” Mike said. He handed the flowers to Aunt Viv who was staring at him with a mix of amusement and shock. “Put these in water please, señora, for zorrita.” He then scooped Katie up in his arms.
She squirmed. “Mike! I’m working.”
“Not tonight, mi amor,” he replied, carrying her to the patiently waiting mare. After letting Katie get settled, he swung up carefully behind her. “Buenas tardes, Romance!” he called and clicked his tongue at Licorice. The horse broke into a trot while the watching crowd cheered and clapped.
So if you're part of my fan group, or you've been hanging out at my fanpage, I've dropped a few hints at a secret project. I've been dying to tell you guys since I started, but when you're working in a group, you learn to keep a secret. But the time has come to reveal my secret project and I hope you're as excited as I am! Ready to find out what it is?
Fall Into Romance
Early this year I was invited to take part in a secret project involving several other authors. We were given the task of writing a sweet romance and having our main characters adopt a pet at the local animal shelter's annual fundraising festival. If you've read my Holly and Mr. Ivy, you know I love having animals help out with a romance. Fall Into Romance is a new boxed set coming this October to your favorite eReader. And guess what? Preorders begin now at a bargain price of only 99¢! Not only will you get my newest book, more about that in a bit, but you'll also get novellas from nine other amazing authors, including a couple of my personal favorites. Each story promises a sweet romance with lots of heart and at least one adorable pet to help nudge those silly humans along. There will be lots of laughter, perhaps some tears, and heart-warming love to take the nip out of the fall air. Curious what it's about?
Surround yourself in the romance of the autumn season with 10 heartwarming, sweet novellas from the USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors. Each story takes you inside the heart of a small town-its people-and features adorable animal friends in need of a forever home. Take a trip to Romance, Oregon, where falling in love has never been easier and happily-ever-after is guaranteed!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | Google
Stories and Authors
Lost in Romance by Stacy Claflin
Second Glance by Raine English
Blown Into Romance by Shanna Hatfield
Wired for Romance by Franky A. Brown
Restoring Romance by Tamie Dearen
Finding Dori by J.J. DeBenedetto
Katie’s Chance for Romance by Jessica L. Elliott
Chasing Romance by Liwen Y. Ho
Lessons in Romance by Kit Morgan
Finding Forever in Romance by Melanie D. Snitker
They all sound great, don't they? If you're curious about any of the above authors, click on their links and visit their websites. And be watching my blog over the next several weeks as I invite them in to talk about what makes their story amazing.
What's more, we have an awesome new Facebook page where you can stay in the loop of all the exciting things going on in our little town of Romance. Believe me, you're not going to want to miss a thing! We'd love to see you there.
So you're probably wondering about my contribution, Katie's Chance for Romance. The first character, though he plays a only a small role, who came into my mind was a gorgeous buckskin gelding named Chance. From there, the rest of the story grew with a pair of dogs, a lively aunt and uncle, and of course our main couple. It's been one of my most fun projects to date and I can't wait for you to enjoy it!
Katie Mackall broke up with high school sweetheart Mike Elders when he made a decision which deviated from their plans. Five years later he returns to Romance and she can't seem to shake him from her life, or her heart. When Mike rescues her from car troubles at Finding Forever's Fall Festival, Katie must decide if she's going to let go of her lingering doubts and give her heart the lead.
Mike never forgot Katie, and when he accepts a teaching position in Romance he hopes to have a second chance with her. But their complicated past and a PTA mom who won't get out of his way, doesn't make it easy. An instant connection with Katie's new dog may not be enough to win her heart, but determination and patience, with just the right touch of romance, might.
Are you a procrastinator? If you're not, you probably know by now I am. But I want to share something with you before it's too late. Fellowship of Fantasy is sponsoring a #MerMay giveaway! Want to know more? Keep reading...
Mermaids, naiads, women of the sea. Benevolent and beautiful or deceptive and vicious, you'll find all kinds in the stories available by Fellowship of Fantasy authors in our MerMay giveaway. Channel your inner mermaid and enter to win a dozen ebooks plus a gorgeous handmade mermaid journal.
Giveaway runs May 4-18 and is open internationally. (We reserve the right to substitute the prize for a non-US address.)
Sounds fun, right? It is! Among the books are new releases and upcoming releases (meaning if you win, you get to read them before anyone else). My contribution is Talori and the Shark which will be released toward the end of this month. If you've seen the updates on my illustrations, you know I've run into a couple minor snags. But, even with that I can make the promise that Talori and the Shark will be available and illustrated in both print and eBook by the end of this month.
But it's not just the books you get. You'll also receive this absolutely gorgeous mermaid-inspired journal. Pretty, right? I know, I really want one too.
So, what are you waiting for? Click below to enter the giveaway!
Jessica L. Elliott
Author, artist, mom and super-genius