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Published: 30 articles

GUEST POST: JENNA VICTORIA

Greetings!  It’s been a while since I’ve had a guest on the blog.  To be honest, this is one I promised a long time ago – sorry Jenna, life has been a little hectic!  However, now that things have settled down a little (yeah right, we just started the process of buildings a house), I thought I would make good on my word and get it out there.  Besides, it’s never too late for a little Christmas cheer!

So, on to the good stuff.  You may remember Jenna stopping by back in November to debut her Christmas novella, War of the Heart.  If you are like me, you enjoy Christmas themed stories all year long, especially when they mix in some of that good ol’ white stuff.  Unfortunately, Kentucky lacked in that white stuff this year.  In fact, it’s a nice seventy one degree’s here today.  Oddly, that makes me sad, so I thought I would dream of all things white while getting to know Jenna a little better.

Hello Jenna!!!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself.

I live on the eastern seaboard of the USA and enjoy watching Hallmark movies and listening to  Christmas music year-round. My first camping trip occurred when I was nine months old, so tent camping is one of my guilty pleasures, and sitting next to a roaring campfire is addictive.  I write Happily-Ever-After romance & romantic suspense stories with a Christian world view. I write what I enjoy reading…about a heroine who is in grave danger & a hero who is smart enough to get out of her way as she solves the case (with a little help)… and books that feature the sweetest of small-town, fairy-tale-ending love stories.

How long have you been writing or when did you know you wanted to write?

I devoured books at the rate of five a week from early childhood, and I decided back then I wanted to create similar magical worlds of wonder and happiness for readers to escape into.

Tell us about your latest book and the characters.

War of the Heart is both a stand-alone book and part of a six-novella Snow Globe Christmas Collection on Kindle.  When a vintage snow globe sends Boston dress designer Louise Martin & British B&B owner George Walker back in time to London, December 1940, they race against the clock to reconcile a feud between their families and solve a 75-year-old mystery. As Louise relies on God; and on George for guidance, friendship then love, will the future George envisions strangle her own dreams? Will their love survive generations of mistrust, the Blitz and being stranded in wartime 1940, possibly never to return to their former lives?

Where did you get the inspiration for your latest book? 

I am enthralled with the social festivities and importance of the true meaning of Christmas, so being asked to write a Christmas-themed time-travel novella with a snow globe being the vehicle for going back in time was very fulfilling and fun for me.  I was able to select the time period and the method of how the snow globe was used in War of the Heart, and I colored a little bit outside the lines – both my heroine and hero go back in time together rather than one finding the other in the time jump.

Do you have a favorite place to write? 

My husband kindly bought me a 27-inch computer monitor once chemo-related vision issues surfaced, so I am happiest at home in my ergonomic chair, footstool and unlimited cups of Keurig coffee. Second favorite place is meeting some fellow Christian writer friends at a coffee house and brainstorming our plots.

Are you working on anything new?

I recently signed contracts for five novellas with Forget Me Not Romances for 2017. Titles are LOVE AMONG THE LILACS (June), GEMSTONE MOUNTAIN ROMANCE (June), WILDERNESS WEDDING, (July),  HER HIDDEN HEARTBREAK and THE HOUSEKEEPER’S HEART (both September). All contain elements of mystery, suspense and romance.

Give us one piece of advice or editing tip for aspiring writers.

Six simple words: Butt in chair. Hands on keyboard.

Give us a run-down of a day in the life of Author Jenna Victoria. 

As I am on disability and continuing to receive chemotherapy for triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) I have many doctor office appointments, lab workups, diagnostic tests and physical therapy visits to work my life around. That keeps me pretty busy and on my toes! I do a few chores as able, rest when appropriate, and fit in social networking as time permits after brief stints of writing.

Favorites because I’m nosey 🙂 

Color: Deep blue

Book: The Bible

Food:  Pizza – plain cheese

eReader or print-  print

Hobby:  watching or re-watching any Marvel comics blockbuster movie (Thor, Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, Dr. Strange etc.) or TV show (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)

Time of Day:  middle of night (peaceful, quiet, contemplative)

Hallmark movies, Keurig, middle of the night writing,  Jenna sounds like a woman after my own heart.  She’s also a busy and courageous woman to boot! Congratulations on the upcoming novellas.  Hopefully I can take some of that writerly advice and plant my butt in a chair soon. 

Now if your interest has been piqued like mine, you can follow Jenna along at all the places listed below and don’t forget to check out War of the Heart and keep an eye out for those upcoming novellas.

• Twitter @JennaVictori • Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/jennavictoriaauthor/ • Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/jennavwriter/ • Instagram  http://www.instagram.com/jenna_victoria_writer • Email  jenna@jennavictoria.com • Website http:// jennavictoria.com • Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/jennavictoria

 

 Amazon

FINALLY LETTING GO

Whew…

I’m not sure where to even start.   Do I back up and tell you about the 20 years of friendship or begin where it fell apart?  I guess to understand where I’m coming from, you have to know the story.  I’m sorry, I’ll warn you now: THIS WILL ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, CERTAINLY be long.  As in really long with a lot of rambling, so if you’re not interested in settling down with a cup of tea or coffee for the long haul, I suggest you pop on over to another blog.

When I was in seventh grade, all the cool kids played sports and like most kids, I wanted to be cool, so I tried out for the volleyball team.  Somehow, although, I had never picked up a volleyball before then, I made not only the team, I made the highly distinguished, “A” team.   It was in volleyball that I met a girl named Casie.  I can’t say Casie and I hit it off immediately.  We weren’t all that much alike.  She was shy and kind of backwards.  She played sports, but always made the B-team.  That never seemed to matter to Casie, though,  because sports weren’t really her thing.  Casie’s real passion was band.  I’ll be honest, I never understood her obsession with it, I don’t play any instruments and I can’t carry a tune to save my life. Nonetheless, our differences didn’t stop us from striking up a friendship.  By eighth grade we were inseparable.  I mean, you never saw one without the other.  We took turns staying at each other’s house on weekends and every day after school she would come to my house to hang out. We told each other everything and our parents quickly became adopted parents to the other.  Highschool didn’t change things.  Neither did the fact that I continued playing sports while Casie continued with band.  Nothing kept us apart and while other friends came and went, she and I stood strong.  She was the glue to my paper.  The zing to my zap.  My person.  My best friend.

I know you’re thinking, I see where this is going.  We grew up, graduated and drifted apart like so many others do, but that’s not true.  In fact, we remained tight through college and became even closer when it came time to start having real adult relationships.  We met her future husband a few months after highschool graduation.  Coincidently, he introduced me to my husband, whom he had gone to basic training in the army with.  It seemed like a perfect match, two best friends, dating and eventually marrying two guys, both of whom were from Kentucky and in the army together.  Life was indeed good.  Even after I moved to Kentucky, Casie and I talked every day.  And, when we weren’t talking, we were texting or emailing or planning on when or how we could see each other.  It was one of those friendships we never questioned and one I thought would always last.

So what happened?  I’d love to say there was a definitive moment, in reality, I guess there kind of was, but I’ll get to that in a minute.  Honestly, it ended up being just what happens to some friendships.  After sharing everything, after being there for every important event in each other’s lives from marriage to children, we slowly began drifting apart.  It started with little things mostly.  I found it offensive that she thought I should sanitize my hands to hold her baby and she thought it was repulsive that I allowed my children to play with toy guns.  We won’t even get into how she felt about my husbands hunting or how I was happy to live next door to my in-laws while she would rather hers went away and never come back.  She was a stay at home mom, while I juggled forty hours at an office.  The truth is, our lives changed, our circumstances changed and with that, so did our friendship.

Fast forward to 2011.  At this point, Casie and I have been friends for twenty-two years.  I’ll say it again, twenty-two years.  Damn, that’s a long time. Do you know how many friendships last that long?  Not many.  Unfortunately, 2011 would not be good for me.  I’ve talked briefly about it in an earlier post, but 2011 year was one of the hardest years I’ve ever had to endure.  Within a six month span, I learned my sister had ALS, I lost two Aunts and both my grandparents died within two weeks of each other.  It seemed like every time I turned around someone I loved was sick or dying.  To say I wasn’t at my best is an understatement.  I was pretty low.  Lower than low if you want to get real.  I couldn’t sleep and I cried all the time.  It didn’t help that we had to downsize at work, which caused me a great deal of concern or that my husband also had some health issues going on.  I was about as stressed as one person can get.  Trying to figure out how to handle my sister’s illness on my own was tough enough, but I also had to put on a brave face for my mom and my kids and help them, too.  So, I leaned on Casie.  A lot.  Too much apparently because I woke up one day to find she had blocked me and my family from Facebook.  Yep.  Poof.  One day she was there, the next I went to look more closely at some pictures of her kids she’d posted the day before and she was gone.  No warning, no explanation, just gone.  You can imagine how that made me feel.  I’m not sure that a knife through the heart is a proper description for the pain because it felt more like someone had ripped out my insides and shattered my soul.

To be fair, I should say I wasn’t that great of a friend.  Casie was having marital issues that I didn’t pay enough attention to, and instead of trying to focus on the good things in life, I cried incessantly and became moody every time she and I talked.  Yeah, I know, I had reason’s to be that way.  And trust me, I’m not excusing what she did by any means, I just know being my friend during that time couldn’t have been easy.  On the same token, being her friend during that time wasn’t easy, either.   Like I said, we had both changed.  We saw faults and judgments within the other we didn’t like, which made us unsympathetic.

I guess you’re wondering what happened or what I did.  Well, of course, I shot off an ugly email telling her exactly what I thought.  Then I called and left an ugly message because you know that’s what you do when you just got pissed on.  I never did get the courtesy of a return call, but I did get an email that wasn’t any nicer than mine.  Her exact words were “You’re life sucks and I don’t want to be a part of it anymore.”  Harsh a little?  Yeah, maybe just a tad.  But it hurt even more when she said she didn’t want to be friends mostly because she didn’t want to be around when my sister died because she doesn’t handle other people’s emotions well.  Trust me, any vulgarities floating through your mind have already come out of my mouth so feel free to say them.  Like I said, at this point, we’d grown apart, apparently more than we thought.

Friendships that last that long are much like a marriage.  Our lives were so tightly intertwined and woven together that every aspect crossed over.  And like many marriages that go south, our parting didn’t go well.  How did I handle it?  Well, I did what every mature adult would do.  I wiped her free from my life.  Her email was blocked, her phone number, all of her relatives, I even went so far as to defriend every friend or acqaintance we had from highschool because I wanted to ensure our paths never crossed in any way.  I removed my maiden name and highschool info from my profile so no one could find me, and then removed all her pictures and unfollowed her on every social media account I had at the time.  When I got home, I gathered everything she had given to me, piled it up in a bonfire and then lit that baby and watched it burn.  Childish?  Yes. Very.  I’ll happily admit it.  All I can say is I’m an all in or all out kind of girl and I did what I felt I had to do to get by.

That’s my ugly little secret.   Once upon a time I had a best friend and then I didn’t and I didn’t handle it so well.

So why is this on my mind today?  Well, two reason’s really, one, a few months ago, a close friend of my sisters growing up, friended me on Facebook. She posted today that it was the anniversary of her sister’s death.  Her sister, Amanda, was a year younger than me.  She died in a car accident when I was in 8th grade.  So my middle school years have bore heavily on my mind today.  And then out of the blue, I got a friend request from a guy I went to highschool with.  It surprised me, because like I said, I have sort of hidden myself away. But do you know what surprised me even more?  I didn’t hesitate to accept his request.  In fact, I got a little excited to see a little piece of that time of my life again.  So I I’m officially back on the grid and it feels pretty darn good.

I guess this means I have finally let go and made peace.  All I got to say, it’s about damn time!

As for Casie, although, they haven’t talked in years, my husband is still friends with her (ex)husband on Facebook.  Yes, apparently they got divorced. I supposed she’s doing okay, maybe?  I don’t know.  I  could ask her mother, who I occasionally have contact with, but I would rather not open that door.  Do I want to make amends with her?  No.  She hurt me.  Badly.  Our friendship might have been on the downward spiral, but the ending could have been handled differently.  For now, it is what it is  … and I’m finally okay with that.

So, to Casie … hope life is treating you well.

ps. I know you follow me on Twitter and that’s okay, too 🙂

 

Okay, so I kept a few pictures.

 

 

 

FROM THERE TO HERE AND IN BETWEEN

It’s that time of year … time to reflect on the past twelve months and the things we were able to accomplish, as well as, the things we wished we had.   Like most, I’m sitting at my computer remembering good times, sad times, moments of happiness and sorrow.  It has been a year of many highs and some very deep lows for me, a rollercoaster of emotions that have taken me to places I want to go again and places I wish I could erase from my memory as if they never existed.  I haven’t blogged much (hardly at all), so I thought I would sum up my year in one post.  Here it is:

  1. In January, I received my first of many calls from The University of Kentucky Hospital. Why do you ask?  Well, they wanted money, of course. Money for the ER visit and surgery my youngest son had back in September when he scalped his head at school.  We will just say, the lady on the phone and I didn’t exactly hit it off since her demeanor wasn’t all that friendly.  As I think back on that phone call now, I want to laugh because as soon as her attitude flew, so did mine.  Needless to say, nothing got resolved that day, however, in the coming months, Celeste and I would become quite acquainted with one another.  In the end, she ended up being a HUGE advocate helping to get the bills paid from our school systems insurance.   It took exactly one year and one week to have them all paid and that was after many tiresome calls, faxing of bills here, there, verification of what my insurance paid sent and then not received, threats of collection agencies, not so friendly calls to our superintendent, etc.  I know the important thing is that my son was okay, but when you have an excess of 100 grand of debt looming over your head, it becomes quite stressful.
  2.  In February, my sister, who is terminally ill, was dealt a blow when her husband asked for a divorce.  As if the devastation to her wasn’t enough, it was so much more than that, as my ex-brother in law was her primary caregiver (legally speaking.  My mother has always provided most of her care.)  I could say a lot here.  In fact, I’ve written and deleted several times, but I’ve decided to take the high road and spare you all the bitter details.  Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and move on.
  3. Instead of flowers, May brought tears with the passing of a beloved woman, who was so many things to me that I can’t think of a significant enough title to honor her.  Carolyn Conley was both of my boy’s preschool teacher, she is my co-worker’s eldest sister, my friend, all too often a lunch date, a supporter of my writing, fun travel companion, and our last stop on Halloween because she gave out the best bags of candy.  My list could go on and on.  She was truly one of the kindest people I have ever known and nothing I could say would ever properly describe her gentle and compassionate soul.  I loved her.  My kids loved her.  My husband loved her.  Our community loved her. She was a rare gem that is truly missed.
  4. Life hasn’t been all stressful or burdensome, though.  In June I took a girls trip to North Carolina with two friends (I blogged about this).  We had a blast.  I mean, we had an awesome and relaxing time visiting some of the places where Nicholas Sparks books are set.  If you’re a fan, you should visit and even if your not, you should still go because there are some really cool sites to see.
  5. July brought my husband’s and my 16th wedding anniversary.  I can’t begin to explain the amount of love I have for this man.  He is my rock, my soul, my best friend and better half.  And yes, I truly mean better, because I know without a doubt he could do so much better than I and yet he chooses every day to be my partner in this life.  There is no better feeling in the world than to know you are loved and he lets me know every single day.
  6. If I could pick a time to back up and replay again, I would pick July.  I’d replay it over and over and over.  Stop, rewind, play.  Stop, rewind play.  We vacationed in Florida with two other families that month.  There were ten of us in a house.  We stayed up late, played cards, had cocktails, listened to music, ate together, and laughed together.  Each night after the kids went to bed, the adults swam in the pool until the early hours of the morning.  My family snuck off to the Key’s for two days to visit my neighbor who has a house and boat there.  We went fishing, caught a shark, took a drive to Key West and toured Hemingway’s house. I also had the best (and expensive) lobster grilled cheese sandwich.  To say it was a great vacation is an understatement.  It was one of the most relaxing times I’ve ever had.  Unfortunately, if I had known what I know now, I would have done things differently.  I would have skipped the Keys.  I would have passed on that grilled cheese and Hemingway’s house.  I would have told my neighbor that we would catch him another time and I would have spent every minute we had making memories with those friends at that house.  I would have stayed in the pool later.  I would have talked until I couldn’t talk anymore.  I would have danced, laughed, cooked, whatever anyone wanted.  We all thought we were beginning a yearly tradition of vacationing with our families never knowing the blow we’d receive in just a few short weeks.
  7.   Man, it’s been five months and I haven’t written in depth about this.  It’s not easy.  If I had known what August 7th would bring, I would go back to that house in Florida and take in every word Anthony Gabbard had to say.  I would roll my eyes and head just so he would give me shit about it.  I would sit at the table by the pool and laugh about AT&T (inside joke) until the sun came up. I would tell him to eat all the pork you want buddy because who cares if your gout flares up.  I’d take more pictures and I’d tell him jokes to make him laugh because he had a great laugh.  On August 7th, after a night of shopping, dinner and a movie, my husband and I went back to our friends, the Gabbards, to play cards.  We stayed late or early, depending on how you look at it and as always, we had a great time.  Anthony and I were card partners and much to our dismay, we finally lost a game.  It was somewhere around four am when we left their house.  At nine we got a call that Anthony was being taken to the hospital unresponsive.  He passed from a sudden, massive heart attack before we made it there.  I have gone through a lot of emotions since then, but there is one thing that still plagues me and I think it always will.  Guilt. There is always that looming question of whether I missed something that I shouldn’t have.  It’s something I’ll never know.  It’s been five months and like I said typing all that out it isn’t easy.  He brought so much life to our group of friends.  He is deeply missed.
  8. August also brought a new school year.  My boys went on to middle and high school and yeah, that makes me feel old.  I suppose I am now.
  9. I turned forty and I hear it’s all down hill from here.  I hope not because I got a lot of life I still want to live.
  10. And last but not least, around Thanksgiving, my husband and I acquired a small parcel of land that joins our property.  Hopefully, in the new year, we will be begin building our forever home.  It’s something we’ve talked about for a long time and now our dream is finally becoming a reality.

Even with the bad that has happened, I look back on the year and can truly smile.  I have neglected my writing and reading, but I’ve also spent a lot of quality time with my kids.  I’ve strengthened friendships, worked on losing weight (down 15 pounds), gone to the theater and hiked a lot, I started taking pictures and cooking more.  I went to concerts, I’ve shopped and played board games.  I began volunteering my time and advocating for our local library.  I’ve met new people, got back in touch with others.  It has been a year of making time for the things that make me smile and really, isn’t that what life is about?  I believe it is.  I’m one blessed individual.

To 2017, may we all have a great one!

 

GUEST POST: JENNA VICTORIA, WAR OF THE HEART

Hello all!  I know it’s been a while, I’m sorry.  Things are a bit busy, so the blog has gone somewhat to the wayside, however I promise to update you with all the exciting or not so exciting news of my life happenings soon!

I am happy, though, to bring you a guest.  Jenna Victoria has graciously allowed me host her new release, War Of The Heart, which is a part of the Snow Globe Christmas Collection.  Please say hello to Jenna.

woth

 

When a vintage snow globe sends Boston dress designer Louise Martin & British B&B owner George Walker back in time to London, December 1940, they race against the clock to reconcile a feud between their families and solve a 75-year-old mystery. As Louise relies on God; and on George for guidance, friendship then love, will the future George envisions strangle her own dreams? Will their love survive generations of mistrust, the Blitz and being stranded in wartime 1940, possibly never to return to their former lives?

 

You can find it on AMAZON

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ever since her grandfather co-created Twinkies, Snowballs & Hostess cupcakes for Intercontinental Baking Company, circa 1959, Jenna’s yet to taste a cake she hasn’t liked. Jenna is the author of “fiction that feeds your faith” – Happily-Ever-After romance & romantic suspense stories with a Christian world view. She also writes clean, wholesome romances. Her stories emulate those she enjoys reading…with a heroine who is in grave danger & a hero who is smart enough to get out of her way as she kicks butt & takes down names… and those that feature the sweetest of fairy-tale-ending love stories.
She writes romances that glorify God and His sacrificial love through His Son, Jesus Christ and show how He gives us hope & peace amidst unbearable situations. After her first breast cancer diagnosis in 2012, several reoccurrences and metastasis, Jenna continues to praise God and trust His oversight in her life; and continues to write more books.

FOLLOW JENNA:
TWITTER    FACEBOOK    AMAZON    BLOG    INSTAGRAM    PINTEREST    WEBSITE

 

Bucket List Fun

So it’s been a while.  Yeah, I know.  I have all sorts of excuses I could give you, but I won’t bore you with the day to day life of being an adult and having this or that to do because we all have that problem.

Anyhow, I saw this bucket list floating around on my Facebook feed and thought it might be fun to share.   Here goes:

Been Married – yes
Ever fallen in Love – yes
Been divorced – nope
Gone on a blind date – no
Skipped school – Does senior skip day count?
Watched someone give birth- no and I’m not interested in it either.
Watched someone die – no, and again, not interested.
Ridden in an ambulance – yes
Been to Las Vegas – yes
Been to Washington, DC – yes
Been to Nashville -yes
Visited Florida – yes
Visited Mexico – yes
Seen the Grand Canyon – yes, but I was 3 and don’t really remember it 🙁
Flown in a helicopter – yes
Served on a jury – no
Been in a movie – no, but if you’re looking for someone, I’m up for a new gig 🙂
Danced in the rain – yes in downtown Little Rock!  Alcohol may have been involved.
Been to Los Angeles – I had a connecting flight there once.  Saw Samuel L. Jackson!
Been to New York City – no
Played/Sang in a band – no
Sang karaoke – no and trust me, this should never happen.
Laughed so much you cried – yes
Laughed so hard you peed – not that I can remember.
Caught a snowflake on your tongue – yes
Had children – yes
Had/have a pet(s) – Waaaaaaay to many to count.
Been sledding on big hill – yes
Been downhill skiing – no
Been water skiing -no
Ridden on a motorcycle – yes and don’t plan to do it again.
Traveled to all 50 states – not yet.  I’ve been to 31, though.
Jumped out of a plane – nope.  I’m one of those people who’s going down with that baby if it crashes.
Been to a drive-in movie – yes
Ridden a camel – no
Ridden a horse – yes
Ridden an elephant – yes
Been on TV – yes
Been in the newspaper – yes
Stayed in the hospital – yes
Donated blood – yes
Gotten a piercing – ears only folks 🙂
Gotten a tattoo – yes, 2.  One when I was eighteen and one when I was 34.
Been scuba diving – no
Been snorkeling – yes.
Ridden in the back of a police car – yes … don’t ask.
Gotten a speeding ticket – I wish I could answer no here, but unfortunately I have a heavy foot.
Broken a bone – yes
Gotten stitches – no
Traveled Alone – yes
Been Overseas- Not yet.  Someday!
Been to Hawaii- no
Been to Canada- no
Been to Alaska- no

So nothing too scandalous, just a little fun.  I’ll leave you with a picture of our recent visit to Key West! Hope you’re all doing well!

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When to call it quits.

Hello!  I know it’s been a while, but I thought I’d drop  a few lines to say “hi!”  I wish I had exciting news to share  … something about a new release, but alas, the title of this post is When to call it quits.  To squelch any confusion, no, I’m not giving up writing.  That will never happen.  It’s a permanent part of who I am. I write daily and will continue to do so even if I never publish anything else.  But, a person has to know when to call it quits and by quits, I mean know when a project isn’t working out.  I have been working on something for a year and a half now.  Yes, you read that correctly, a year and a half.  Maybe that’s not all that long to some.  I worked on my first book for almost ten years.  It still sits on my computer. Occasionally, I revisit it, but I think of it as more of a learning tool than something I’ll ever do anything with.  But, it has been a long and struggling year and a half.  No aspect of the book I’ve been writing has come easy and for the most part, I feel I was forcing out words that I would only go back and change later.  It was finished and then it wasn’t.  I changed a huge part of the plot and then decided it would be a series.  Characters changed, their ideas, values,  personalities.  It came to a point that I wanted to do anything else but sit down and write.  That should have been a red flag, but I’m not the kind that gives up easily.  I like to think I’m the type that finishes what I start.  I rarely and I mean rarely abandon a book I’m reading.  No matter how awful it is or how long it takes me, I try to finish it.  If I have a list to complete, I don’t stop until it’s done.  If I start a project, I’m all in until it’s finished.   It’s just the way I am.  Yeah, I know that’s a good quality to have, but I tend to go overboard at times because even small and inconsequential things must get done when really they have no bearing on the enjoyment of my life.  However, a time comes when you realize it’s time to stop.  I’ve decided that time is now.  This was not an easy decision to make, especially since I’ve spent a year and a half and have nothing to show for it, but to continue struggling and stressing isn’t going to turn out a book that I’m happy with.  So, I have saved and backed up everything to do with “When Love Goes South.”  It’s there, ready for me when the story wants to be told.  Unfortunately I just don’t feel that time is now.

When I came to this decision a few weeks ago, my husband said, maybe a change of scenery will be good.  I think he was right.  I felt a weight had been lifted off my shoulders the moment I started putting everything away.  Funny how that works.  And as for a change of scenery, I decided to literally take him up on that, too.  Last week I visited North Carolina with two friends.  One of them being a huge Nicholas Sparks fan, our initial plans were to tour the places mentioned in his books (you can get an itinerary from his website).  We hit the hot spots of the tour that we wanted to see and then did our own thing, but I must say, I can certainly see why Nicholas Sparks loves the area he lives in and writes about.  The towns are quaint, the people are friendly and there seems to be inspiration lurking around every corner.  Again, it was just what I needed.  I came back fully refreshed and ready to write.

Below you’ll find a some pictures from our trip.  I took so many, it was hard to choose which one’s to share.  There were countless spots in New Bern that had mentions in his books, but unless you’ve read them or seen the movies, it’s hard to really appreciate what we saw.  So, I’ve chosen a few that I thought some might know or just ones I liked or found funny.  Enjoy!

new bern

New Bern, North Carolina. Home of Nicholas Sparks and setting for many of his books. We did the Walk to Remember walk through town that took us to places mentioned in The Notebook, A Bend in the Road, and The Wedding.

 

pepsi

Inside the pharmacy where Caleb Bradham first marketed his Brad’s Drink which later became known as Pepsi-Cola. It’s mentioned in the books The Wedding and A Bend in the Road. Bob, the owner was a super cool guy. He even offered us part time jobs if we moved down there.

sign

Signs outside a restaurant in New Bern. I’m not sure who comes up with the sayings, but I found them hilarious!

sign2

capefear

Causeway mentioned in The Notebook

books booze

You can’t go wrong with Books and Booze 🙂

ferry

Ferry in the closing scene of the movie Safe Haven. This travels between Southport (where Safe Haven was filmed) and Carolina Beach.

matlock

Showing my age here … The fountain and courthouse steps seen in the TV show Matlock.  Wilmington, NC

wilmington

Wilmington’s River Walk as seen from The Cape Fear River

fishy fishy

Fishy Fishy was the general store in Safe Haven. The restaurant where the character, Katie, worked at in the movie sat right next door. Unfortunately my picture of it didn’t come out that well.

rocks

Rocks along Kure Beach

blackmountain

Entrance to Black Mountain College (Black Mountain, NC) as mentioned in The Longest Ride.

 

 

Sale Alert :)

FYI … for a short time Drive Me Sane is on SALE for 99¢ (or FREE with Kindle Unlimited)

cover photo

Unable to perform her duties in the army after a twelve-month deployment to Afghanistan that leaves her with scars no one can see, Sera Cavins returns to her hometown hoping that some time alone will help her find her way back to being the girl everyone once knew. That is, until she finds herself sharing a house with the man who left her heartbroken merely weeks before her deployment.

Tyler Creech made it to Nashville and even earned a number one hit, but being a rising country music artist isn’t as easy as he thought. He’s back in Cobb City, Kentucky, looking for something to ease the stress of his next release. He discovers it standing on his mom’s and stepdad’s lawn when Sera, the girl he once planned to marry, shows up.

They’d been perfect for each other until the strain of Sera’s deployment and pressure of Tyler’s career drove them apart. Now with neither of their lives going the way they anticipated, both are fighting different yet similar demons.

But change is good, and sometimes going a little crazy is too. Sometimes it’s what keeps you sane.

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You can read the first chapter for free HERE

 

February Reading Challenge

IMG_1396[1]The first of March is upon us and if it goes according to the old saying, in like a lion out like a lamb, by the end of the month we should be in a drought.  It’s raining here in the bluegrass, but the temperatures are okay, so, at least, we don’t have to worry about ice or anything.  I’ll be honest here, I haven’t had much time to read lately.  Maybe I should rephrase that, I have had plenty of time, I just haven’t taken advantage of it.  I’ve spent some much needed time with friends and I’m still working on my second book.  I actually had it finished, sent off to an agent and got a request back.  So yeah  GREAT NEWS …. except not really.  I let my nerves get to me in a bad way and started reworking it.  I’m almost there.  Time will tell what becomes of it, I guess.  But I will say that I have put a lot into this book, A LOT and so I want it to be the best it can possibly be.   Anyhow, I have made a point to stick to my reading challenge that I set out to do in January.  In February, we were to read a book recommended by a friend.  Kathy Palm was the only person to recommend one to me and after looking at her suggestion, I decided that it would better fit another month, so I’m saving that one for later and decided to read a paperback that a friend loaned me (almost a year ago) and it turned out to be a pretty darn good read.  Toni Blake is definitely an author I’d read again.  18498553 I have already sorted through my Kindle and found my book for March, which is one that’s on the bottom of your TBR pile.  I’m ashamed to say it’s one of those freebies I downloaded when I first got my Kindle years ago and never did anything with it.  I’m terrible about that and although, I could easily say I’ll do better about reading everything I download, I know it won’t happen.  But hey, it’s there if it ever strikes my fancy, right?

Tell me, are there books you’ve had for years that you’ve never read?

 

JANUARY READING CHALLENGE

IMG_1396[1]Back in December I posted the covers of all the books I read for 2015.  I honestly can’t remember how many there were, but I do remember that I didn’t hit my Goodreads reading challenge goal of 100.  When I say reading challenge, it isn’t actually much of a challenge other than to keep track of the books read during the year and while I’ve seen all sorts of different “challenges” that require you to read a book from this genre or that genre, most of them seem daunting with the requirements to complete them.  Just a little FYI …  I have an issue when I don’t complete things, it sort of BUGS me!  So, although, I like a good challenge and they look fun, I’ve never committed myself to one.  However, I saw this one, above, floating around and felt it looked simple enough that I could do it.

On the recommendation of a friend, for January, I picked A Walk To Remember by Nicholas Sparks.  I’ve AWTRnever read the book or seen the movie, and to be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with Sparks’ books.  Meaning, I either really LOVE them or I really HATE them, most usually the later is simply because I don’t like how it ends  While I won’t go into a full review of the book, I did enjoy it, although I was somewhat confused on the ending, but I don’t want to give any spoilers away in case there is someone else that hasn’t read it.  It’s one of Sparks’ earlier books and I can definitely see his writing has evolved over the years. It’s a quick read, approximately ninety five pages on my Kindle, so it didn’t take too long.

I haven’t picked my February read yet. I’ve had a couple recommended to me, but none of them have really grabbed my attention and said “READ ME.”  So, I’m reaching out to you guys, recommend something you think I’d like.

And Happy February!

GUEST POST: ANGELA SMITH

Today, I’m excited to welcome fellow native Texan and romance author, Angela Smith to the blog.  Angela has graciously stopped by with her romantic suspense, Burn on the Western Slope and Fatal Burn.  Psst… just so you know, they’re currently on sale for $1.99 so you better grab them up 🙂  Hello, Angela!

BURN ON THE WESTERN SLOPE

ASReagan McKinney is on a mission to discover more about a deceased uncle who mysteriously left her a sizable inheritance, a condo in the mountains, and a stash of stolen jewels. With both her graphic design career and her love life in shambles, the opportunity to begin a new life couldn’t have come at a better time. When she becomes involved with the sexy FBI agent next door, she finds her struggle is not only to keep her heart intact, but her life.

Grief stricken after an undercover investigation ends in the death of his partner, Special Agent Garret Chambers goes home to find solace in the arms of his mountain retreat. That is, until his boss assigns him to investigate the spirited brunette staying in the condo next door. He is assigned to investigate Reagan’s involvement with a large jewel fencing organization, but his investigation becomes compromised when his attraction to her heats up. Will his discovery destroy everything he has come to love, including Reagan?

AMAZON

FATAL SNAG

AS2Hollywood fashion consultant Naomi Fisher is happy to use her obsessive-compulsive planning to assist with her cousin’s wedding, but her history with the sexy and sullen Chayton Chambers, the groom’s brother, terrifies her. When the groom is kidnapped at his own wedding, Chayton and Naomi rush to find an important relic to satisfy the ransom before her cousin becomes a widow before a bride. Naomi trades garters for guns as survival, and love becomes a deadly game impossible to resist.

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About the Author:

AS3

Angela Smith is a Texas native and was dubbed most likely to write a novel during her senior year in high school since she always had her nose stuck in a book. Although high school was decades ago, the dream began when her mom read ‘Brer Rabbit’ to her and her sister so often they could recite it back to each other before ever learning to read. Research is one of her favorite parts of piecing together a story, and she loves creating new characters. Angela started with writing romantic suspense and is branching into other genres, but she hasn’t been able to write one yet where falling in love doesn’t come into play. She works as a certified paralegal and office manager at her local District Attorney’s office and spends her free time with her husband and the animals on her small farm. Although life in general keeps her very busy, her passion for writing and getting the stories out of her head tends to make her restless if she isn’t following what some people call her destiny.

Angela Smith LOVES talking to readers. You can contact her in the following ways:

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Angela-Smith/e/B00DYBSIMY
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAngelaSmith
Twitter – https://twitter.com/angelaswriter
Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7173505.Angela_Smith
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/asmithauthor
Website – http://www.loveisamystery.com
Email – angela@loveisamystery.com

Burn on the Western Slope Excerpt:

“The snow’s great, the skiing is great. When are you going out to ski?” Garret asked.

Reagan fumbled with the button on her sweater. When Chayton set her drink on the bar, she tightened her hands around the glass to curb her jitters.

“I hate to admit it, but I don’t ski.”

“You don’t ski?”

“I mean, I never have.”

“You have to be tempted, right?”

“Uh, not really.”             This was where he’d leave. He would think she was crazy, boring, uninteresting, and he’d find someone more fitting to talk to. Only, he didn’t. He smiled, his eyes twinkling with interest. At least, she thought it was interest. It could have been pity, or mockery, or…

No. She cupped a hand over her cheek, as if that would soothe her insecurities. The cold condensation from the glass she’d held sent a chill between her shoulder blades.

“How long are you staying?”

“A month, at least.”

“Do you want to learn to ski? Because I’m a pretty good teacher. And Tanyon is a great place to learn. It’s busy, but not as busy as some of the bigger resort towns.”

“Oh, I don’t know.”

“Yes. You have to try it at least once. You’ll love it. Chayton can hook you up with gear.”

“Well, I’ve always had a secret desire to plunge down a twelve-thousand-foot drop.”

Garret’s eyes sparkled, like sunbeams skipping across the ocean and landing under her skin. But even sunbeams on a clear summer afternoon wouldn’t affect her like this.

“It’s not so bad,” he said. “We’ll start on the bunny slopes. Then, if you fall it’ll only be half that.”

“I’ve seen the size of these mountains and there’s not a bunny slope in three-hundred miles.”

“Sure there is.”

Reagan clamped her mouth over the straw and slurped the cocktail. It tasted divine, the sugary, minty flavor inciting sweet thoughts of Garret’s lips.

“I’m not sure I’m ready for that,” Reagan said, running her tongue over her lips as she rested her glass on the counter. “Skiing, that is,” she quickly added. He would never know she’d been thinking of kissing him, but she had to force herself to look away from his mouth. Nudging Naomi, she stood. “It’s time for me to go. I need to settle in. I haven’t even unpacked yet.” And she had no intention of doing so now, but it was a good excuse to leave. She wiped her hands on her jeans before extending her hand to his, praying hers weren’t clammy. “It was great to meet you.”

Garret grasped her proffered hand and nested his other on top, engulfing her hand. She burned. Everywhere. “Meet me on the slopes tomorrow?”

Reagan bit her lip and glanced at the floor. “Tomorrow? I don’t know. I might need a little more time to get used to this place.”

“We’ll start with sledding. You can’t not like sledding.”

She didn’t know, seeing as how she’d never done it, but cozying up to him at a hundred miles an hour would probably be amazing.

“I’m safe,” Garret said as he dropped his hand.

“You’re what?” she asked, meeting his eyes. Maybe he was a good guy in most people’s standards, but he made her heart beat too fast to be anything but dangerous.

“I’m harmless. Several people in town will vouch for me.”

“But I don’t know them either.”

Fatal Snag Excerpt:

From the hushed voices and quick glances between Garret and Buchanan and the other officers in the room, Naomi knew something was up. Garret and Buchanan disappeared for a time, and when they came back in she noticed him squeeze Reagan’s hand tighter and thought she heard Chayton’s name. Garret’s face revealed no clues.

Was Chayton dead?

An officer came to stand by him. He fixed his hand on Garret’s shoulder and leaned down to say something in Garret’s ear. A shadow crossed Garret’s face.

Long, drawn-out seconds passed. Silent seconds. Naomi’s thought processes were past the point of rationality as every fear—past and present—rushed forward. She was about to jump up and demand an explanation when a door slammed, the reverberation like a cannon straight through her heart.

When Chayton walked into the room, Naomi was struck with shock the force of a tsunami. Waves surging, striking her off balance. Crushing. Washing over her, crashing down, choking her. Water in her chest. She wheezed, unable to breathe. Her thoughts tumbled with the force of the waves. The swell receded, releasing her, leaving her in a wake of relief. As she regained her momentum, her breath came in short, liberating gasps. Her heartbeat steadied. Warmth tingled her skin. She wanted to run to him, hug him, tell him how grateful she was that he was alive. Limbs shaking in exhaustion, she couldn’t stand.

Buchanan stood and shook his hand. She remained seated, her eyes focused on him as he spoke to Buchanan, trailing him as he sat across from her. His gaze found hers, forcing out the terror of his potential death. He reached out and curled his hand in hers. Warm. Assuring. Alive. She let out a weak smile, her body unable to fully express everything she felt. Relief overflowed in tears she managed to choke down.

She’d never felt so safe or so joyful. She’d feared he’d get himself killed, and they still had so much to straighten out with the police.

Her mouth was dry. She couldn’t speak if she wanted to. Garret bantered with him, but Naomi couldn’t follow the conversation. All she could think about was Chayton. He was alive. Unharmed.

Then she noticed Caleb beside him. Caleb, a friend who had never evoked those types of emotions in her. He winked at her and she smiled, returning her gaze to Chayton.

Chayton slouched in his chair and kept one hand up on the table, the other lightly holding Naomi’s. He spread out his knees in a casual stance, like he had no care in the world. Like he hadn’t almost lost his life. And as far as Naomi was concerned, she’d been pressured to the point of breaking. Being left alone in a hotel with a distraught woman. Being nearly kidnapped. Nearly smashing her face in the windshield—prevented thanks to the seatbelt. It’d been a hell of a day.

“Life with these boys will never be normal,” Naomi commented to Reagan, who was sitting beside her.

Reagan laughed and turned to her, her eyes gleaming. “No, it won’t, will it?”

Chaos was right up Reagan’s alley. She liked spontaneity and surprises.

Not Naomi. When she’d left Air Dog a few months ago, she couldn’t wait to leave. She couldn’t live the spontaneous lifestyle her cousin was so wrought to live. Picking up and moving didn’t bother Reagan, probably because she’d done it since she was a child. But Naomi needed roots, and those roots needed stable ground.

But now, the graffiti Chayton painted on her heart would be impossible to erase. She didn’t want to leave. She never wanted to leave. So maybe Chayton was a little careless. He was still the most thoughtful, intelligent, and strong-willed man she’d ever known. And she loved everything about him. Internal scars and all.

He leaned into her and bunked his nose on hers, still wearing that blasé, devil-may-care attitude. “Are you okay?” he asked. Maybe the look in his eye was casual, but his voice was full of emotion.

Her toes, her knees, her thighs, her belly, her neck, her ears trembled as the whisper-soft breath of his words branded her.

“I am now.”