Monthly archives "May 2015"

Guest Post, Review & Excerpt- Holding Back by Helen Pollard

HoldingBack - coverThe last thing they’re looking for is love …

Laura Matheson is a natural at avoiding romance, so when she is drawn to mystery guest Daniel Stone while helping out at her friends’ hotel in Portugal, she assumes all she needs is a little extra willpower.

Daniel is at the hotel on business. The demands of work and a manipulative ex-girlfriend mean he doesn’t have the time or energy for romance, but Laura is a distraction he finds hard to ignore.

As they negotiate a minefield of misunderstandings and mutual attraction, will they both continue to hold back? Or will they finally allow love into their lives?

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EXCERPT

“Excuse me. You’ve picked up the wrong bag.”

Deep and decisive, the voice startled Laura from behind as she loaded her luggage onto her hard-won airport trolley.

“No, I don’t think so.” She swung round to confront the voice’s owner. Unnerved to find him towering over her, she took a step back, stumbling over her trolley in the process.

With lightning speed, he reached out to catch her arm, his grip strong as he helped her regain her balance. When she was upright again, she took in piercing blue eyes, thick dark brown hair, a hint of stubble on a tanned face—and felt an immediate jolt of attraction.

Laura ignored it. “I can manage, thank you,” she snapped, thinking she wouldn’t have tripped if he hadn’t surprised her like that.

He released his hold and raised an eyebrow. “As I said, you have my bag.”

Pushing away long strands of chestnut-brown hair that had dared escape their ponytail, Laura returned his gaze.

“No, this is definitely mine.” She was hot, harassed, and late. The last thing she needed was a futile argument over her own luggage!

“Would you mind if I check?”

“Help yourself.” Unable to disguise her impatience, Laura waved at it, adding, “But I am in a hurry.” She winced at the hostile tone in her voice, but she really didn’t have time for this. Tapping her foot in irritation, she waited to be proved right as he crouched over her trolley.

“Would you care to look?” he asked.

Laura’s foot stopped tapping. Recognising undisguised triumph on his face, she read the label over his shoulder with trepidation, but there it was in black and white—Daniel Stone, London Gatwick to Porto. The heat that rose in her cheeks seemed to burn right through her skin.

“But it’s the same as mine!” she blustered, watching with embarrassment as he hoisted the heavy bag from the trolley with ease.

“It’s hardly a unique design,” he commented, shrugging broad shoulders. “If you weren’t in such a tearing hurry, you might have spotted your own on the carousel.”

Laura spun around to see her bag riding forlornly around with the few that were left. Mortified, she opened her mouth to apologise.

But he spoke first. “Personally, I would advocate that old saying ‘More haste, less speed.'” His tone softened a little as he added, “I’m sorry, but you’re not the only hot, tired person whose flight was delayed, you know.” And off he strolled through the terminal, his bag flung over his shoulder, without a backward glance.

MY REVIEW

A dedicated teacher and friend, Laura Matherson, spends a portion of her summer vacation tending to her friends hotel while they take some much needed time off. Unattached and not the least bit interested in a relationship, she looks forward to the yearly ritual and enjoys having something to fill her days.

A headstrong workaholic, Daniel Stone, is on the constant move, travelling with little time to stop and enjoy any of beautiful places he visits. Keeping his business going is top priority. Putting distance between him and a pesky ex runs a close second. He’s not looking for anything other than to stay put for a few days in the same place, but then he meets Laura and she becomes quite a distraction in more ways than one.

Ms. Pollard has written a lovely story that is simply about all the small details. I felt as if I were in Portugal without ever having visited there and her ability to pull out emotions is completely outstanding. At times I became so utterly frustrated with Laura, I wanted to smack her. But in the end, it all comes together and you sit back and realize, that’s what makes a good story. One that makes you deeply feel and understand at the same time.

Set in sunny Portugal, Holding Back is a perfect summer read, filled with the right amount angst, a bit of humor and a sweet clean romance that leaves you happy in the end.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Please say hello and welcome Helen Pollard, who has graciously given me not only an excerpt to share with you, but she’s also taken the time to answer a few questions.  Hello Helen and thank you for stopping by.

First, tell us what is your favorite part about the writing process?

I like the unexpectedness of it best. I don’t really outline much at the start – I’ll have a basic idea in mind, and certain points or events that I definitely want to get to, but beyond that, I tend to allow my characters to take me where they want to go. It’s more fun that way.

I’m always curious to know how long someone has been writing or when they first knew they wanted to be a writer.  Do you have a defining moment or was it something that’s always been there?

I know all authors say this, but it’s true – I’ve loved writing for as long as I can remember. I don’t recall a time when I didn’t feel the urge to write. As a child, I had a vivid imagination fuelled by my love of reading, so I started to write my own stories in a notebook (I still have it, although it’s a little ragged now!)

You work full time, have a family and write. How do you manage it all?

By being grumpy and tired! You would think it should be a little easier now, as my daughter is at university for some of the year and my son is sixteen so he doesn’t need me as much! But my elderly parents are taking up more of my time these days, and promo and marketing seems to take up the rest.

Recently, I reduced my hours at work a little, the idea being to spend that time purely on writing … but something else always seems to fill the available space. I can’t honestly say that I write each day. I tend to have spurts at it when the mood takes me strongly enough for me to put everything else aside.

Holding Back is your sophomore novel.  I’m lucky enough to have had the pleasure of reading both it and your debut, Warm Hearts In Winter.  I immediately noticed that they vastly differ in setting and season. How important is it for you to have visited the places you write about?

For me, it’s very important. To be honest, I don’t think I would dare write about a place I’d never visited! I know you can research everywhere on the internet nowadays, and I still do a little of that to get my facts straight, but if I hadn’t been somewhere, I wouldn’t know if I was being accurate enough. I’d always worry about making mistakes!

Besides, I like both my characters and the setting of my books to come to life for the reader. If I’ve been to a place, I can try to give a real sense of it – sights, sounds, smells, the whole experience.

What inspired you to write Holding Back?

Definitely the setting. I’d visited that area of northern Portugal a couple of times, and it was so beautiful and friendly there, it stayed with me until my imagination ca

Can you tell us about your characters?

I wanted Daniel and Laura to be quite different from the couple in my first romance, Warm Hearts in Winter. In that story, the hero and heroine rather liked each other from the outset, so it was mainly a question of getting them past their personal demons to consider a future together.

But in Holding Back, Daniel and Laura don’t get on at all at first, despite – or perhaps because of – a mutual attraction. Both are resistant to romance, Laura because of her past, Daniel because of his present. Since my characters tend to develop a mind of their own as I write, getting them together proved more of a challenge than I’d envisioned!

Lastly, tell us a little bit about what you’re currently working on.

I’m polishing up a manuscript that I actually wrote before my two published romances. It’s set mainly in the Loire region of France, but this one isn’t a straightforward romance – I guess it’s contemporary women’s fiction with humor, and just an element of romance … which makes it more difficult to find a home for. But I personally love it, so I’m going to keep trying.

And your favorites- because I’m nosy 🙂

Color                   blue
Holiday               coastal
Food                     lemon sorbet
Season                 Spring
Time of Day       mid-morning (coffee time!)
Book                     Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen by P.G. Wodehouse
Hobby                  writing, of course! & reading
Type of Music   mellow (e.g. Jack Johnson, Simon & Garfunkel)

Helen Pollard author picHelen Pollard writes contemporary romance with old-fashioned heart. She believes there will always be a place for romantic fiction, no matter how fast-paced and cynical the world becomes. Readers still want that feel-good factor – to escape from their own world for a while and see how a budding romance can blossom and overcome adversity to develop into love … and we all need a little love, right?

A Yorkshire lass, Helen is married, with two teenagers and a psychotic cat. When she’s not working or writing, it goes without saying that she loves to read. She also enjoys a good coffee in a quiet bookshop, and appreciates the company of family and close friends.

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Shadow Beneath the Sea by Joanna Lloyd

TO COMMEMORATE 100 YEARS SINCE SINKING OF LUSITANIA, 
SHADOW BENEATH THE SEA IS ONLY 99¢

Shadow cover promo 20151915: Britain and Germany are at war and the waters off Great Britain have been declared a war zone. In six days the luxury ocean liner, Lusitania, sails from New York to England with 1,959 passengers on board.

 The story of the 202nd Atlantic crossing of the luxury liner, Lusitania was one of the great maritime disasters of the last century. The actions of the German U-boat captain, as the great ship cruised the Irish coast, spawned a flood of conspiracy theories, investigations, a court case, hard questions of the British Admiralty, and targeted Captain William Turner as the scapegoat. The whole truth of this disaster was closely guarded to protect the actions or non-actions of the Admiralty.
However, there sailed on this ship a group of fictional characters whose motives for travel were as varied as their personalities. In the time it took to cross the Atlantic Ocean, in the microcosm of this floating universe, lies and deceit festered, secrets changed lives, money was made and lost and a deep and lasting passion ignited between Lillian Marshall and Edward James.
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EXCERPT:

A cold chill crept up her spine, and she licked her lips, her mouth suddenly as dry as an empty coal bin. Before she could answer, there was a collective gasp in the room. The colonel had folded his cards and relaxed back into his chair. Walter and Zeke stared, unblinking at each other.

“Did you hear me, Walt? I am calling you and raising ten thousand dollars.”

Her father pulled out a large handkerchief, patted his throat and put his money on the table. Lillian saw the nervous gesture, but it didn’t match the gleam of excitement in his eyes. “Show your cards, Zeke.”

Edward grabbed her arm. “Tell me, now, Lillian. Quickly, before they end this.”

Tears welled in her eyes at the lies she was about to utter, but her future depended on this money. “There is nothing to tell, Edward. You have allowed your imagination to get the better of you.” His gray eyes searched her face, begging for the truth, and in that moment she knew she had wronged him as much as he had wronged her.

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Joanna Lloyd was born in Papua New Guinea and educated in Sydney, Australia. With a background in Psychology, she trained as a mediator and conducted Workplace and Family Law mediations for over twenty years. After muscular dystrophy caused her to be wheelchair bound, she transferred her fascination with human behaviour from real people to the written word. She now lives, and writes historical and contemporary fiction, in tropical Far North Queensland, Australia – her version of paradise.

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ROMANCING AUSTIN: SEVEN ROMANCES ONE WILD PARTY & GIVEAWAY

Hello!  I’m excited to have Romancing Austin on the blog today.  I grew up about an hour north of Austin so it’s like having a little bit of home, seven times over, in this anthology.  I absolutely can’t wait to dip into these stories!  Take a peek and don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a $75.00 Amazon giftcard.
Seven Romances. One Wild Party

A multi-genre contemporary romance anthology

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Introductory Price:$0.99 (limited time)

Former rock star Dex Reed throws a wild comeback party in his Austin penthouse, and seven romances heat up the night.

No Quitting Allowed, Rebecca Royce

One last assignment and then Lana is quitting her job, quitting Austin, and moving on with her life. Until Jake stumbles into her and changes the direction of her whole world.

 Twisted, Cara Carnes

Caleb “Colt” Douglas agreed to close out Twisted Delirium’s sold out world tour with a gig at SXSW for one reason–win back the woman he left behind.

Do Over, Chandra Ryan

When life offers Juliana a fresh start, will she follow her heart or play it safe?

Consortium, Riley Bancroft

Record exec Holt Michaelson married the enigmatic Chloe to keep his assets safe from a vindictive competitor, but after a fiery encounter with his new wife, he’s determined to claim her as his own, body and soul.

 Tall Order, Irene Preston

Dylan made the worst mistake of his life when he chose his career over Aston, but tonight he’ll take a risk on Aston even if it’s too late.

 Enchanted, Evelyn Berry

Stripped of her magic, fairy princess Aurora is torn between her duty to her imperiled family and to a brilliant musician who holds the key to their freedom…and her heart.

One Night with the Vampire, Jax Garren

Tonight Alex will finally possess the woman he’s craved, but Sofia’s dangerous family secrets threaten to tear them apart.

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Excerpt from No Quitting Allowed by Rebecca Royce

“You’re staring at me.” She set her glass on the bar and it made a large clink. “You’re beautiful. It’s easy to look at you.” She waved her hand as if to indicate the room. “Stare at someone else.” He looked around for no other reason than to appease her. She was a woman who needed a break. How badly did you have to be pushed to shove a bag and your job at your boss? He caught the gazes of two of his employees. They waved with a lot of gusto. He grinned. They’d be hung over in the morning. It was a good thing he’d given them a few days off to enjoy South by Southwest. Employees weren’t productive when they’d rather be somewhere else. “Nope,” he turned back to Lana, “I think I’d rather focus all my attention on you.” “Why? Don’t you want to gaze at Dexter adoringly?” “Let’s try a new refrain. We’ve had the Dexter back and forth already. I’ve registered it. You hate him. I don’t care one way or another about DBR. I listen to eighties’ punk. How about you?” She pursed her lips. Whatever she was about to say, he’d wager money she would shout it. He could feel it in his bones. In their short acquaintance, Lana liked to yell. God, she was really going to be an exciting person to know. So completely impolite on the street—and he had to admit, in the elevator. Yet, when she’d collided with him in her haste to get away from DBR, she’d apologized. Somewhere in all her bluster was a huge heart. He could see her light. “I enjoy listening to Broadway musicals.” She shouted the fifth word, exactly as he’d known she would. “And any other music found in New York City.” “Ah, I can feel an Austin dig coming on. And your criticism of my beloved city, I won’t take. Hate DBR all you want. Hate Austin? No, ma’am, no one with a soul can hate my city.” The full blaze of Lana’s temper turned on him and all straight from her eyes. What did it say about him that he got so fucking hard? Tonight would be an important turning point in his life; he could feel revelations buzzing in his bones. By the end of the evening, he would know himself better. Life was funny. The universe showed him truths at the most unexpected times. He’d known when he saw her on the street he had to purposely bump into her. She was a woman he needed to become acquainted with. “Have you ever been to Manhattan?” He smiled. “Sure.” “And you wouldn’t rather be there than anywhere else in the universe?” He threw his head back and laughed. “Right, Lana, baby.” He had to add the last bit to watch her color rise. “I’m right where I want to be.” Her grin twisted. “Hey, can I ask you a question?” “Sure.” Her query would be great, her mind had so far taken her mouth to really unusual statements. “If any of the bedrooms in here are unoccupied, would you want to fuck me? A really big quasi-anonymous romp in the sheets? Immediately?”

ROYCEREBBECA ROYCE

As a teenager, I would hide in my room to read my favorite romance novels when I was supposed to be doing my homework. I hope, these days, that my parents think it was worth it.

I am the mother of three adorable boys and I am fortunate to be married to my best friend. I live in Austin Texas where I am determined to eat all the barbecue in town.

I am in love with science fiction, fantasy, and the paranormal and try to use all of these elements in my writing. I’ve been told I’m a little bloodthirsty so I hope that when you read my work you’ll enjoy the action packed ride that always ends in romance. I love to write series because I love to see characters develop over time and it always makes me happy to see my favorite characters make guest appearances in other books.

In my world anything is possible, anything can happen, and you should suspect that it will.

I’d love to hear from you!

Cheers!!

Visit Rebecca Online:

 RebeccaRoyce.com | Blog | The Decadent Divas | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest  GoodReads | Amazon

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Excerpt from Tall Order by Irene Preston:

 “Hello, Dylan.” Dylan closed his eyes at the unfairness of the whole fucked up night. Damn, damn, damn. The sound of his name on Win’s lips still made him weak at the knees. It made him want to punch the asshole in the other room and anyone else who’d touched Win while he was gone. It made him want to take Win home, and take him to bed, and remind him they belonged to each other. Dylan and no one else took care of Win. Unfortunately, none of that was possible, and it was all his fault. He turned. “Win.” It was all he could manage. Up close Win was even more devastating. Dylan locked his knees so he wouldn’t take a step closer. If he started moving toward the man standing in the doorway, he wasn’t sure he could stop. “Most people just call me Aston now.” I’m not most people. Dylan stopped himself from saying it out loud. Win watched him for a minute. “I didn’t know you were back in town.” Was there a shadow of hurt in his eyes? Dylan couldn’t tell. The realization sliced him, because he had always been able to tell exactly what Win was thinking. “Just got back.” What else was there to say? Yes, he was back in Austin. No, he wasn’t in New York. Yes, his Big Chance had been a Big Mistake. No, he never should have left. He should have stayed here, a medium-sized fish in a medium-sized pond instead of trying to swim in the ocean. He should never have forced Win to choose. Win took a few steps closer and all the thoughts running around in Dylan’s head stopped cold so his brain could focus on one fact. Win. Right in front of him. I could touch him. Win was so close Dylan had to tilt his head to keep looking at him. The angle brought back the memory of every time he’d angled his head just so when Win leaned in to kiss him. Dylan held his breath, held as still as he could, and tried not to give the thought away. Win gazed at him for a minute, then lifted one hand and trailed a finger down the front of Dylan’s shirt, lighting up nerve endings as he went. “Cute.”

 Read More from “Tall Order


PRESTONIRENE PRESTON

Irene Preston has to write romances, after all she is living one. As a starving college student, she met her dream man who whisked her away on a romantic honeymoon across Europe. Today they live in the beautiful hill country outside of Austin, Texas where Dream Man is still working hard to make sure she never has to take off her rose-colored glasses.

 Visit Irene Online:

 IrenePreston.com | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | GoodReads | Amazon

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MEET KATE FOSTER AND HER MIDDLE GRADE NOVEL, WINELL ROAD

Please say a big HELLO and welcome Kate Foster to the blog.  A woman of many talents (as you’ll see in question number one below), who works on a variety of projects at any given time, Kate graciously gave me a few moments of her time and answered some questions about herself and her newly released, middle grade novel, Winell Road. But, before we get to the fun stuff, take a look at that beautiful cover and the blurb for Winell Road.  I must say, my boys are already dying to read this (me too!)

Winell Road cover 2

Twelve-year old Jack Mills lives at 5 Winell Road and probably has the world’s weirdest neighbours. Like freakishly weird. And to top it off, he lives with Mum: nosy, interfering, a hideous cook, and Dad: unsuccessful inventor of the Camera Belt and Self-Closing Window. All in all, it’s a boring, embarrassing, dead-end place to live.

So when Jack arrives home from school one day, a close shave with a UFO is the last thing he expects. But the fact it doesn’t abduct him, and that no one else, not even Mum, sees the gigantic flying saucer hovering over the street, adds a whole new layer of strange.

Soon after, an alien encounter threatens Jack’s life and he becomes embroiled in a galaxy-saving mission. With the assistance of his new neighbour, frighteningly tall Roxy Fox, he discovers Winell Road is hiding secrets—secrets Jack might wish he’d never uncovered.

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Now for the fun stuff.

Kate, please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a writer of children’s fiction, obviously, mainly middle grade novels and picture books, although I do have a chapter book series I’m working on — when I get time! I’m a freelance editor and proof reader, and volunteer my time for Ink Pantry Publishing (part of the Open University in the UK) proof reading articles and interviewing authors. I’m originally from a small village in the UK but now live on the Gold Coast in Australia with my family. 

Where did your inspiration for Winell Road come from?

My children, mainly. The main character is based on a mixture of my two eldest sons. But I find inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere to make up my novels as a whole. In the case of Winell Road, an awesome scene from one of my favourite movies (True Lies – the bit where, after Arnie and his wife are captured, he then explains what the bomb is and Jamie Lee Curtis is like, ‘WHAT? But you’re just a sales rep!’) gave the wheels the push they needed, and from this the story grew.

I have boys and from reading the blurb, it sounds like something they’d both enjoy. Do you feel Winell Road is a gender neutral book or does it mostly cater to one or the other? 
I have boys, too, so I guess, understandably, I wrote this initially with them in mind. But in truth the book will certainly appeal to both boys and girls. Although the protagonist is a boy, Jack, his new neighbour, Roxy Fox, is a feisty, confident and fascinating girl, as well as being frighteningly tall, and she shows Jack how to 1. have fun, and 2. believe in himself.

What was the most difficult part of writing this story?
The first draft. I’m not afraid to admit that I despise them. I have all these grand ideas and vivid scenes playing out in my mind like movies and translating them into words can be a struggle at times. And I don’t like getting things wrong, so when I write something that I know isn’t portraying the imagery perfectly, I get extremely cross with myself and the world.

Is it a standalone or will it become a series?
It’s the first in a series. The second book is written, the third is plotted out and ready to write. One day.

Do you have a writing process?
Not really. I write when I have spare moments, and I have to admit I have numerous projects on the go at the same time – so I could be described as a messy writer. But all these ideas have to come out of my brain straight away or I will forget them, and I absolutely hate writer’s block. It makes me feel low – not good – so I like to be able to move away to another project if this happens. I’m yet to experience writer’s block on all my projects at the same time, but if I do, I will most definitely start something new!

Are you currently working on anything else?
Yes! I have a handful of picture books in various stages of the editing process, some out on submission to agents. I have the second in the Winell Road series to polish, and another unrelated mid grade I’m editing. Mix that in with various articles and blogs, and I think that’s probably enough!

You’re also an editor.  Can you tell us your favorite thing about editing?
The entire process, to be honest. There isn’t a part I can say I dislike. I love rearranging sentences and paragraphs, scenes and chapters, and even entire storylines, until they run smoothly and sing to the reader. And pair that up with getting to know new authors every day and watching their careers go from strength to strength is pretty close to bliss for me.

Is there a message you’d like your readers to get from Winell Road?
No, not really. Is that bad? If they do then that’s great, if not, I just hope they’ve had a ball and want to continue with Jack on his adventure. I want them to experience what I did as a child when I read Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree books and The Wishing Chair series; magic.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Enjoy as much of the process as possible, NEVER give up, and listen to advice. Whether you take it or not is up to you, but get as much feedback as you possibly can from as many people as you possibly can and at every stage of the book’s life.

And now a few favorites, just because I’m nosey 🙂
Color – Brown
Time of Day – Bedtime
Food – All of it
Book – Can I have two? The Uninvited by Liz Jensen and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
Hobby – Writing!
Season – In England it was spring, in Australia it’s winter.
Holiday – (Does this mean a trip I’ve taken abroad? If yes…) Andalucia in Spain.
Type of Music – I love a good bop, so dance music

 KATE FOSTERKate