Sunday, October 26, 2014

Our Private Worlds

I'll admit it–I caught the genealogy bug years ago. I methodically traced my family tree back to the Revolutionary War and to Europe. One of the things I kept noticing was the way the last names of various family members kept intersecting. I realized travel was hard, and there wasn't a large gene pool to draw from, so I kept track as cousins married first and second cousins. As more and more branches on the tree interconnected, it became a family joke that the inbreeding explained the occasional lunatic in the family–those who lived in their own private worlds.

Today, as I write this, I've just finished the seventh book in my American historical series. It takes place in 1860 and the story line is woven around the Pony Express. I've spent the last few months studying the movement of horses, and learning more about this portion of American history than I ever thought possible. I told a friend the other day that, after a morning of working on this novel, I was surprised to see cars driving by my door instead of horses. My private world has consisted of dirt roads, wide open prairie land and wild mustangs. Am I this generation's occasional lunatic? Or am I merely an author?

The book, Expressly Yours, Samantha, is about ready to be shipped out to my publisher. Normally, I take a break from my historicals, and intersperse a contemporary, just to lighten things up and to keep me grounded in reality. But, for some reason, the 1860s keep calling me. I'm thinking of taking a leaf from the old family tree and write about my great-great-grandmother, who had to maintain a homestead in the hills of southern Ohio and keep four children alive while her husband fought in the Civil War. Obviously, the woman could have used a strong man during these years. Who better to camp out in her woods than a half-breed Ojibwa Indian? So, I'm headed back into the 1860s, where I'll roam the hills and woods of southern Ohio with Susannah and Raoul. I'm headed back into my own private world again.

Here's the cover blurb for Expressly Yours, Samantha, set to release in March, 2015.

Samantha Hughes needs to get away from her wicked uncle, and, following her aunt’s death, she has one day to escape. A sign in the post office offers an avenue out. She can cut her hair, pose as a man, and become Sam Hughes, a Pony Express rider.

Valerian Fitzpatrick has defied his parents and stayed in St. Louis for the past year. He doesn't want the weight of responsibility his brothers have in the family business. All he wants to do is ride horses, and, fortunately, the Pony Express is starting up and looking for wiry young fellows.

When Sam Hughes helps Valerian control a runaway horse, Joseph, Valerian’s brother-in-law, tells him their meeting was destiny. Over the weeks and months that follow, Sam and Val work side by side on the exciting Pony Express. Val assumes Sam is on the run from the law, and helps shield his buddy from the Pinkerton agents. He thinks this must be the destiny Joseph talked about. Although Samantha harbors feelings for Val, he has no idea she’s a woman. Until she suffers a stray gunshot wound and he has to undress her to staunch the wound.

Friendship turns into attraction and maybe even love. When her uncle tracks her down, she is forced to run yet again. She realizes the danger she’s put Valerian into, having him try to shield her from her uncle, and leaves him behind with a note to not track her down. Will he be able to find her again, or is he relieved to not have any responsibility again?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Research--Regardless of your genre, you need it!

Today, I'm pleased to have Heather Thurmeier stopping by. She recently released a new book, The Wedding Hoax, which involved copious amounts of research and television. I asked Heather to talk about how she handles one of my favorite subjects–research. I think, even if you're writing a dystopian society story or a contemporary novel, you need to do a certain amount of research to authenticate your stories. Research is not just for an historical writer. But, I'll get down off my soapbox now and let Heather tell you how she approaches it. The floor is yours, Heather!

I’m sure every author has their own set of resources when it comes to researching for a story. For me, I have my usual ways and then every book has a few new ones too.

For all of my books, the research starts with the names.  It’s not very often that I know my character’s final names when I come up with a book idea. Sometimes to pick their names, I will poll my readers to find out what names they love at that moment. Other times, I’ll go to baby naming websites and scour their pages to come up with a short list of names. My favorite site is I like that you can save names and then it generates ones that go with it. I find it helps with sibling relationships as well as finding names for the hero and heroine that will sound good together on the page.

Next is usually the setting for the book. If I’m writing about a place I’ve never been to before, then I usually start with real estate listings and tourism sites to give me an idea of what it’s like there. I don’t list places with too many specifics since I think it’s fun to make up restaurant names and things like that. But when it comes to some thing, like subway stops in Manhattan, I definitely look up what train line and exact stop I need. All of that information is easily available online, which makes my job so much faster and easier!

And it seems I’ve been drawing a lot of inspiration and research from TV. For The Wedding Hoax, that was definitely true. I can’t tell you how many episodes of Say Yes to the Dress (and Bridesmaid Dress) I watched. Oh so many! But it was great since Daisy is a wedding gown designer and Cole is a bridal magazine CEO. It’s been 14 years since my own wedding and watching new brides on TV talking about their weddings while they look for their dress was great research! And it was fun to watch too!

Happy Reading!

Heather's giving away this beautiful Daisy bracelet during her blog tour. Go here to enter: The Wedding Hoax and #Rafflecopter #Giveaway. @AmazonKindle @amazon

The Wedding Hoax 


A satisfying category romance from Entangled’s Lovestruck imprint…

To save their companies, they’ll plan the fake wedding of the century...
Meet the bride...

Daisy Willows is a wedding dress designer who longs for her own happily-ever-after. In the meantime, she’s struggling to keep her business going even as she covers her mom’s increasing medical expenses. So when a bridal show expo owner offers to help her out, she can hardly say no. And all it takes is Daisy pretending she’s back with her playboy ex. And that they’re engaged...
Meet the groom...

Cole Benton works for his father’s bridal magazine, which is on the verge of downsizing. All he really wants is a crack at an outdoor lifestyle magazine, and if he has to fake-marry Daisy to make it happen, he’s definitely in. Now Daisy and Cole are playing up their fake engagement, shopping for rings, and even kissing upon request. All of which is makes it a whole lot harder to remember that their big white wedding is a big white lie...

Buy Links:






Cole adjusted himself in the boutique chair as Daisy came out in yet another stunning dress. He didn’t think it was possible to be attracted to a woman in a wedding gown, but apparently it was.

And it was maddening.
Damn it. He didn’t want to be any more attracted to Daisy than he already was. At this point, he wanted her to walk down the aisle in a white garbage bag so he didn’t have to see the shape of her curves, teasing him about what he couldn’t have but also couldn’t stop thinking about.

Nor could he stop imagining those undergarments she’d mentioned to the women at the bridal show. Was Daisy wearing something sexy under all that white lace and satin, too? A push-up bra? A thong?

He sat forward and leaned his elbows on his knees, ignoring the ache in his groin at the thought of Daisy in a thong. He didn’t even have to use his imagination. An image
of her lying on her stomach across his bed came to mind. Her skin had been smooth under his fingertips as he traced the lace of her thong to where it disappeared between two luscious hills of milky-white flesh. She’d shivered beneath his touch when he’d caressed the tiny crease where her bottom met the backs of her thighs. And when he’d playfully smacked her ass, the apples of her cheeks weren’t the only spot on her body to blush as she’d rolled away from him, giggling and smiling seductively.

If he’d realized that would be one of his last moments with Daisy, he would have savored it more, prolonged his own enjoyment to push hers further. What he wouldn’t give to see that spark in her eyes when she was on the cusp of going over the edge again. Or the pink tinge in her cheeks as his tongue tasted her.

“Cole!” Daisy’s voice was sharp, piercing his thoughts and shattering the nice memory he was currently enjoying more than the present moment.

“That one is nice,” Cole said on instinct, forcing himself to focus on the dress she wore instead of what she might be wearing underneath it. This dress was similar to the others— sleeveless, white, satin and beads, and expertly hand-stitched. He’d never really given Daisy a lot of credit for her work before, but he should have. She was a master of her craft.

She put her hands on her hips. “That’s what you said about every dress so far. Are you even paying attention?”


“I’m trying to, but you know how I feel about shopping.” He laid his head back and rubbed his eyes hard, hoping to erase the memory of Daisy’s thong from his brain long enough to get through this torture without a raging hard-on.

“How could I forget? You’re worse than taking a child shopping. At least with a kid you can give them a snack or a toy to keep them busy.”

“I could go for a snack.” He shrugged.

Author bio:

Heather Thurmeier is a lover of strawberry margaritas and a hater of spiders. She was born and raised in the Canadian prairies, but now lives in New York state with her husband and kids where she’s become some kind of odd Canuck-Yankee hybrid. When she's not busy taking care of the kids, Heather’s writing her next romance, which will probably be filled with sassy heroines, sexy heroes who make your heart pound, laugh out loud moments, and always a happily ever after. You can find out more about Heather and her books by checking out her website at:

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Tour Rolls On

The virtual book tour continues on for one more week. A complete list of stops for the remainder of the tour is on the right. I can't imagine how book tours were in the days before the internet, and have the utmost respect for the ladies who led the charge. Nora Roberts, in one of her "Get to Know" sessions at the RWA conference talked about appearances on QVC and how she had to cancel an appearance on the Today Show because one of her children had an accident and needed to be taken to the hospital. It's always been tough juggling home and career, and today is no different.

Like many authors, I write in multiple genres. On any given morning, I can be immersed in 1860 America and then switch in the afternoon to present day, to a beautiful lake in upstate New York. And then there are blogs to do for both genres, blog tour Q&As, stats to check, writer's groups to attend, and all the rest. It makes me slightly schizophrenic, but then I take a step back and think of the ladies who had to peddle their books by car, plane, or even by bus. They'd check into a tiny hotel room, missing their families, smile at the fans who braved all kinds of weather to come to the bookstore to chat with them for a few minutes and buy their books.

Twenty years ago, when e-books burst onto the scene, the industry was forced to change. No longer were under-performing books pulled from the shelves after a few months, never to see the light of day again. Now, a book's virtual shelf life is infinite. As can be an author's life. The first book in The Cotillion Ball Series, The Reluctant Debutante, has been out for two years now, and is still selling daily. I love being an author in the 21st century.

And, if anyone wants me to come to their bookstore for a signing, I'd love to accept.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

While I gear up for my next blog tour for The Duplicitous Debutante (stops appear on the right side of this page), I'm joined today by the talented Leslie Garcia. She writes about one of my favorite topics--horses. And love. Her new book, A Love Beyond, will be released Monday, October 6. But rather than me expounding on her work, I'll let her tell you. Take it away, Leslie!

When You Love Anyway…

            Love isn’t always smart. Lord, how many of us know that. In fact—who among us doesn’t?
            Case in point, health problems when I was still a pre-teen almost took my life. Without going into gory details, this lovely nurse drew a picture of a palomino, and finding out that my father had been transferred to Texas and I didn’t want to go, she made up a song about San Antonio and falling in love.
            A few years later, I sneaked across a cactus-studded pasture to elope with an illegal alien from the interior of Mexico. Weeks later, holed up in a hotel room in San Antonio, I saw my grandmother—my father’s mother—waiting at a bus stop down below and remembered the night she’d turned up at my husband’s dude ranch, trying to kill us both.
            Love isn’t always smart. I was an 18 year old who’d been socially isolated all my life, “book smart,” as my brother said, but otherwise—not so much. Yet we thought we should have a happily ever after. It’s how love works, right?
            Right. And love is a force that binds not just loving souls in the here and now, but that can reach tentacles through time. Love can fashion a future from nothing. But it also can be the tentacles of evil reaching through time and ensnaring new victims whose only crime is trying to be happy together.
            An example that struck me hard when I entered the Hispanic culture through marriage is the legendary wraith, La Llorona. Although the literal translation would be the “crying” woman,  the more accurate translation would be “wailing” woman. Many cultures use formalized wailing as part of the ceremony of death, and a wail is the demented scream you will hear along the riverbanks of the Rio Grande—if you listen carefully.
            What kind of a woman drowns her children? We have flesh and blood examples far too often.  But it is the story of a poor woman, devastated by betrayal, who surrendered her little ones to the river, who haunts my romantic suspense, A Love Beyond.
            AJ Owens returns to south Texas after her sister’s death, determined to recover the Thoroughbred stallion being held by her sister’s widower.  The task would be difficult under the best of circumstances—but a devastatingly handsome head of security seems to have his own agenda—one that involves keeping AJ away from her own horse. The grown-up game of seduction, secrecy, and villainy brings AJ close to the edge of sanity—whose unearthly presence stalks her—her sister’s, or the centuries old Llorona?
            Suspense draws into a story; romance makes us hold our breath and maybe whisper a prayer that the romance lingers and cements a relationship into something permanent and beautiful. Romance lets us believe that love might not always seem smart—but love knows what it’s doing with us.
            No, love isn’t always smart. But forty years into the marriage that should not have been, I still like to tell stories about loves that just are…even from beyond.

Want to have a taste of this book? Read on. 

Chance nodded. “Magnificent animal. I’ve only seen him a couple of times, though. Mike has him standing at his ranch in Nuevo Laredo this season.” He turned back toward the door, waving her ahead of him.

Almost halfway back to the house, a long, plaintive wail sliced through the night air.

Unending, a cry of unbearable pain and grief that raised the hair on AJ’s arms. She
shivered again, hard this time. Beside her, Chance tensed, looking around intently, and
from somewhere nearby, large dogs barked threateningly.

“Probably a coyote,” Chance murmured, and in spite of his dislike for her, he laid a
comforting hand on her shoulder. Warm and heavy, his hand evoked another shudder of an entirely different kind. Whether he realized the difference, she didn’t know, but he
slowly removed his hand.

“I’ve heard coyotes,” AJ retorted, her head cocked, listening for any other faint sounds
in the night around them. “Not recently, of course, but I don’t remember them sounding
like that. Mountain lion, maybe—but not here. Not in Laredo.”

Chance shrugged. “Then?”

AJ looked up at him. “La Llorona?” she suggested, teasingly, although the wail could
well have come from some poor, deranged soul. From a woman who’d bet everything on love and lost. Like Gina.

She expected him to laugh. Or scoff. Instead, he stared down at her, his face hard,dark, and emotionless.

“Maybe,” he said laconically. “There’s a world of hurt in the world.” For a long
moment, he held her riveted there by the intensity of his gaze, his presence. Then he gave another shrug, and turned away from her. “Let’s get you back. The dogs are out and you’re not safe alone.”

“I’m not alone,” she said, although she had to hurry to keep up with him. “I’ve got
you,” she added breathlessly, partly to annoy and partly because he walked too fast in his hurry to ditch her.

The glance he cast her menaced. Said clearly that he wasn’t amused. Or attracted. But
he didn’t speak. Neither of them spoke until he pulled the side door open to let her back
into the crowded ballroom.

“Good night, AJ,” he said politely, but his eyes were filled with distaste as, from
across the room, Mike Towers waved at them. “I hope you enjoyed your tour.”

His dislike and lack of respect hurt, she realized. Silly, since she wanted him to dislike
her. To stay away from her. She managed a final, flirty smile. “More than you can
imagine,” she purred seductively. “I’ll tell your boss how good you were to me.”

Anger tightened his face and thinned his lips, but he said nothing, just turned and
disappeared around the corner of the house. Mike Towers was coming toward her, all
smile and swagger. Undoubtedly, he thought she’d be grateful to him for the midnight
tour. She couldn’t let him know how repulsive she found him. Not yet.

She drew in a deep breath and tilted her chin up in determination. Towers had stolen
her horse and her dreams. That was nothing. Gina had taken her life because of him. AJ had no proof, but she knew. And nothing would protect him from her plans for revenge. Not his money, not his power. And certainly not a man like Chance Landin, no matter how diligent he was as head of security.

Far off, so faint she might be imagining it, a high, keening wail echoed in her ears.
A world of hurt,” Chance had said.

She had taken the words at face value then. But a sudden, strong awareness told her
his words weren’t meant to comfort. He was warning her. No. More than that.

Threatening her.

A Love Beyond (October 6th, 2014)               Barnes & Noble

Leslie P. GarcĂ­a grew up lost among a crowd of six siblings and a menagerie that included more than twenty horses and ponies, uncounted dogs and cats, possums, raccoons—even a lion and monkeys. Then she moved to Texas, fell in love, was disowned—and embarked on her real adventures, raising 4 children, teaching hundreds, and loving 9 grandkids through forty years of marriage. The fabric of that colorful life has always been writing. In A Love Beyond, Leslie celebrates two of her passions—unusual love stories and the ever present chance at redemption in spite of past mistakes. Leslie loves hearing from readers and can be found all over cyber space, including these places:
Twitter: @LesliePGarcia
Website: Return to Rio
Pinterest: Leslie P. Garcia