Posts tagged with: Suzanne Ferrell

Allie Burton winner

1BanditBooty The winner of an e-copy of the LOST DAUGHTERS OF ATLANTIS COLLECTION featuring the first three books in the series: Atlantis Riptide, Atlantis Red Tide, and Atlantis Rising Tide is ELF!

CONGRATULATIONS, ELF!!

Please send your email addy to me at suzanne AT suzanneferrell DOT com and I’ll see Allie gets that prize to you ASAP!

Allie Burton returns with a story from the Antarctic!

SONY DSCIdeas, Ideas Everywhere

Writers frequently get asked where their ideas come from. The answer is simple. Everywhere.

At the store. At the park. At school. At parties and events.

Reading social media and newspaper articles. Watching TV and documentaries. Hearing music. Seeing artwork.

For example, I got the idea for ATLANTIS GLACIAL TIDES after seeing a photograph of ice tunnels in Alaska. The image was so beautiful and powerful I wanted to place a story there. Of course, ATLANTIS GLACIAL TIDES isn’t in Alaska, it’s located underneath Antarctica, but I could imagine the underwater ice tunnel there. And, while doing research for the story I got ideas on different things to include like Emperor Penguins and Rainbow Fish.

I got the idea for ATLANTIS TWISTING TIDES, the prequel to ATLANTIS GLACIAL TIDES, when I was watching the news about a hurricane.

And the entire Lost Daughters of Atlantis series came from a day at the beach. What if there were people who lived under the ocean? What if a war was going on underneath the sea? How would that war affect humans? What if you discovered you were not only a part of this world but a lost princess? And my imagination was off…

Atlantis Glacial Tides

Lost Daughters of Atlantis Book 5Atlantis Glacial Tides final

Shocked by her family’s plans to wed her to a stranger, sixteen-year-old Princess Adria must decide whether to flee the underwater Kingdom of Merta or fight to keep her rightful place. When Kai, the criminal she’d rescued informs her of a plot to kidnap her future sister-in-law, Adria decides to take action to prove her loyalty.

Sparks flew between her and Kai when they met during a hurricane misadventure, but she can’t trust her judgment about him. Especially when Kai won’t help stop the kidnapping because he’s on his own secret mission. A mission that he refuses to divulge.

In a case of mistaken identity, Adria is kidnapped and whisked away to a mysterious glacial underwater world of ice and evil where she learns that everything isn’t rainbow fish and roses, that there are Atlanteans who suffer and slave, and that being cold isn’t a state of body, but a state of mind.

With Kai as her prison guard, the two teens grow closer, and Adria must choose between loyalty to her kingdom or to her dreams.

Twisting Tides_72 dpi 2400 ht

Atlantis Twisting Tides

Lost Daughter of Atlantis Novella

When unrest threatens her kingdom, a mermaid princess must choose between loyalty and love.

When fifteen-year-old Atlantean Princess Adria sneaks away to see a hurricane on the surface of the ocean, she finds an air-breather in trouble. Kai’s sailboat is sinking and Adria risks exposure of her Atlantean powers in order to save him.

Kai believes he’s rescuing Adria. He’s Atlantean too, with his own skills and secrets.

The two teens stumble onto an uninhabited island still thinking the other needs rescuing. When other Atlanteans show up—Atlanteans plotting against Adria’s kingdom—Adria must decide whether to trust Kai based on the guy she’s come to know or the company he keeps.

What sets your imagination down a zigzagging path of what ifs and ideas?

Comment below for a chance to win an e-copy of the LOST DAUGHTERS OF ATLANTIS COLLECTION featuring the first three books in the series: Atlantis Riptide, Atlantis Red Tide, and Atlantis Rising Tide.IMG_1057 Prize Pack

And, ATLANTIS TWISTING TIDES is free on Amazon, iBooks, GooglePlay, and Kobo.

Subscribe to my newsletter on my website for a chance to win the Prize Pack (pictured) including a $25 Amazon or iBooks gift card, Steve Madden infinity scarf and gloves, several young adult books, and treats!

To subscribe or get more information about other books in the Lost Daughters of Atlantis series, visit my website at www.allieburton.com.

The Year Jazzman Was In Charge Of Present Disbursal…

TreeWhen we lived in Florida, I was scheduled to work Christmas Eve night, something every nurse has faced during holidays. Now that meant I’d be gone when the kids were asleep and I’d have to leave the “scattering” of presents under the tree to the Jazzman. I’d made three piles in our bedroom of wrapped presents with the stockings stuffed for each child on top of them. I gave Jazzman strict instructions on waiting until the kids (all in elementary and middle school) had gone to bed, then he was to mix up the presents under the tree, and lay the stockings to one side. (We didn’t have a fireplace, so that’s as good as it got.)

Well, the next morning, I got an interesting story from the kids.

Apparently Jazzman went to sleep before putting out the presents. OH NO!

So my youngest daughter and son woke up at around 5 am and imagine this…NO PRESENTS UNDER THE TREE!!

Well, being the smart kids they were, they quickly figured out Jazzman hadn’t done his bit. So they knocked on the bedroom door to wake him, saying, “Dad, you forgot to put our presents under the tree.”

So, Jazzman hauls out the 3 piles and puts them under the tree. In 3 piles.

The kids: No Dad, you have to mess them up like this.

And they proceed to make a huge mess of the presents, mixing them all up. In the mean time, Jazzman has decided he was awake and started making coffee. The kids put a big kabosh on that.

The kids: No Dad, you have to go back to bed now.

Jazzman: Why?

The kids: Because we have to find our presents and try to figure out what they are.20131224_011416-1

Jazzman: What do you mean find your presents?

The kids: Every year while you and Mom sleep, we get up early and find all our presents. We make a pile, then try to figure out what each one is. Then we put them back in a mess under the tree.

Jazzman, looking sleepy and confused: But they were in neat piles. You two just made the mess.

The kids: Daddy, this is our tradition!

Jazzman gave up and crawled back in bed. He said he layed there with the door cracked, listening to the two of them giggle and rattle the wrapped packages. Finally, they went back to bed, too. When I came home, I had to wake everyone up to open their presents, unaware of their little tradition.

:)

Close to the Fire final for Barnes and NobleI love that story. It’s amazing the traditions our kids pick up that we don’t even start, while others are intentional. I must make Buckeye candy every year, as well as chocolate mint cookies, peanut blossoms, coconut jam thumbprints and m&m cookies. I have to decorate cookie cutter cookies with the kids and now grandkids. We have to go to church on Christmas Eve just to hear my daughter sing O Holy Night. Everyone must get a stocking full of fun things and everyone gets warm socks. Oh yes, I also have to have a homemade cheeseball on Christmas Day for them to munch on while dinner is cooking.

So, dear readers, what is your favorite family tradition? Is there a food item you must have? Do you presents in a certain order? Does your family have something you must do every year in order to make the holiday a success? Since it’s holiday time, I think I’ll give away a copy of my newest book, CLOSE TO THE FIRE to one reader who posts a tradition today.

 

Close to the Fire finalPROLOGUE

 

Flames shot up in front of him. Heat knocked him backward.

The noise deafening.

Smoke and cinders flew about in the firestorm like evil imps dancing to the tune of the monster raging around him.

Sweat ran down his face.

His mask fogged. Cleared.

His turnout gear plastered to his body. What little of his skin was exposed stung. Blistered.

Bill.

He had to find Bill.

“Bill! Where are you?” he said into the radio amplifier attached to his mask and gear.

Thick smoke and wild flames raged around him.

Which way had he gone? He tried to get his bearings. Where was the exit?

 They’d been unable to get across the lower part of the warehouse and instead went up the side stairs to the metal bridge-like structure along the side of the building. There they split up, trying to see the kid they’d been told had been dragged into the burning building.

“Over here, Deke. To your left.” Bill’s voice sounded over the radio.

He swung his gaze that direction. There he was. About ten feet away, near the edge of the scaffolding they were standing on. Safe.

“Any sign of the kid?”

Bill shook his head no.

A rumble sounded above them.

They both looked up.  A hole in the ceiling open up. Flames whooshed upward.

Another rumble shook the building. A timber gave way and half the roof on the far side of the warehouse came crashing down, throwing Deke against the outer wall of the building.  Bill flew backward onto the shaky scaffolding.

Deke held on to a window ledge as he tried to get his balance. He glanced out. Two figures ran away from the burning building. The larger one had the smaller one by scruff of the neck, hauling him away in the opposite direction of the fire engines out front.

Damn, the night watchman had been right. There had been a kid with the arsonist.

“Kid’s okay, Bill. We need to get out of here.” He signaled down just in case his partner hadn’t heard him.

Bill nodded. “Meet you down below.”

Deke was halfway down the stairs when the loud creaking started above. He looked up.

The remaining roof broke into two parts. It dangled by a few metal beams. Right over Bill.

Another rumble.

The metal gave way. Hit the scaffolding.

One minute Bill was there, the next…only flames and twisted metal.

“Deke!” Bill said, then silence over the radio.

“Bill!” He tried to climb back up.

Another beam came loose. It hit him. Slamming him down the stairs, it knocked his headgear and mask loose. Flames all around him, hot metal landing on the side of his neck, something liquid seeping down into his turnout gear and searing his chest.

Screaming sounded in his ears.

His screaming.

Deacon Reynolds tumbled out of the bed and landed on the floor in a tangle of sweaty sheets. Willing his breathing to slow, he wiped his hands over his face.

“Dammit.” His words were followed by hacking coughs.

Jeez. He must’ve been screaming again. He didn’t do it every time he had the dream, but when he did his voice box complained with a coughing fit. The docs said the damaged vocal cords couldn’t take the trauma of making harsh sounds. He thought he’d had it under control. At least the screaming part. The dreams hadn’t been this bad in months, maybe even a year. What had triggered this one?

He ran his hand through his wet hair. His whole body was covered in sweat.

It had to be the summer’s heat.

Untangling himself from the sheets, he strode naked across to the bathroom and poured himself a glass of cold water. Drinking it slowly, he worked on letting his throat relax as he stared at his naked chest in the mirror. The thick cords of scar tissue extended from his jawline down his neck, across the left side of his shoulder and chest. Docs said he was lucky the movement of his shoulder hadn’t been damaged and that the burns hadn’t gotten too deep near his heart.

He barked out a harsh laugh.

Lucky. Right.

Sometimes he wondered if it wouldn’t have been better if the fire had claimed him right along with Bill.

It’s a RED HOT Party!!

Close to the Fire card back DekeThat’s right folks we’re having a book launch party!!! You know what that means, don’t you? Food, fun, friends…and a firefighter!! No, seriously. This time we’re inviting Deke Reynolds into the Lair. He’s a bonafide firefighter who happens to be not only the fire chief for Westen, Ohio, the fictional town where I’ve set my book, CLOSE TO THE FIRE, but he’s also the book’s hero! Here’s the character card for him. 

The heroine in CLOSE TO THE FIRE is Libby Wilson, the county social worker. We met her in the first book in the series, CLOSE TO HOME. That’s her character card right there.

Close to the Fire card back Libby

So what’s their story about?

They once were lovers:
After ten years of keeping his distance to the one woman he’s always loved, Fire Chief Deke Reynolds is finally ready to set aside his grief and confess his guilt to Elizabeth “Libby” Wilson about his part in her brother’s death. Libby’s own guilty secret has kept her from sharing her life with the man who stole her heart as a teen and awakened her body as a young woman.

Danger has forced them together again:
A fire and their odd connection to a new teenager at the local half-way house have this couple finally sharing their secrets with each other. With an arsonist on the loose, threatening the town of Westen and its citizens, have Libby and Deke waited too long to find their love again?

Close to the Fire finalYes, people…this is a reunion romance book. But it’s been a hot, dry summer in Westen. Things have begun to smolder.  All it takes is a little kindling to get things burning.

One of the fun parts of doing a series in one small town is the town folks who come into the story and add more flavor to it. So some of the regulars who are back is Lorna Doone, the owner of the Peaches ‘N Cream Cafe, Doc Clint and Emma Preston, Sheriff Gage Justice and his fiancee Bobby Roberts and of course our beloved Deputy Cleetus Junkins.

In fact, one of the newer residents in Westen is Miss Sylvie Gillis, a hair stylist over at the Dye Right Salon and she’s sort of got her eye on the big deputy.

There’s a newcomer to town who sort of stirs things up. A teenager named Kyle Gordon, who is a resident at the halfway house for troubled youths. (Okay, confess how many of you hear Joe Pesci say Utes just now?)

So, it wouldn’t be a Bandit book launch party without some fun and games. Here goes.

We’re serving cold drinks and five-alarm chili! What and who are you bringing to the shindig?

Name these movies with firefighters in them:

1. A team of ace firefighters travel around the world putting out oil rig fires.

2. A firefighter is trapped inside a burning building and contemplates his life as his team works to save him.

3. Two estranged firefighter brothers work from different angles to stop an arsonist who is setting fires all over Chicago.

I’m giving away print copies of CLOSE TO THE FIRE to 2 readers who answer the questions! (Oh, and if you want to download the book to your kindle, just click on the cover.)

Visiting with Suz

Hey, y’all! Pull up a comfy chair. It’s been a while since we just visited. That’s what my grandma CindyJane used to call talking with friends and family. She’d say, “Sit down and let’s visit a while.” When I was little that meant for me to crawl up onto the couch beside her, snuggle in and tell her everything going on in my life. As a teen and young adult, it meant sitting at the table with her, my aunts and mom and talk about life, family, neighbors…everything and anything!

My parents came from a small town in the Blue Ridge range of the Appalachians in Eastern Tennessee. I loved going there for vacations and visiting with all my extended family. Grandma CindyJane, Grandpa Sherm, my aunts, uncles, cousins. I loved the charm of the small town, saying hello to people who knew my family intimately.  When I started writing the Westen series, a series of romances in a small Ohio town, I drew on the experiences of my Tennessee visits in building my fictional community.

Close to the Fire finalIn CLOSE TO THE FIRE, I return to Westen for another visit with those friends. Lorna Doone is still running the Peaches ‘N Cream Cafe. Doc Clint and Emma still run the local health clinic with the help of taciturn nurse, Harriett. Gage and Bobby are busy planning their wedding and keeping the town safe with all the deputies of the sheriff’s department. But it’s been a long, dry summer and things are heating up in Westen, especially for Fire Chief Deke Reynolds.

They once were lovers:
After ten years of keeping his distance to the one woman he’s always loved, Fire Chief Deke Reynolds is finally ready to set aside his grief and confess his guilt to Elizabeth “Libby” Wilson about his part in her brother’s death. Libby’s own guilty secret has kept her from sharing her life with the man who stole her heart as a teen and awakened her body as a young woman.

Danger has forced them together again:
A fire and their odd connection to a new teenager at the local half-way house have this couple finally sharing their secrets with each other. With an arsonist on the loose, threatening the town of Westen and its citizens, have Libby and Deke waited too long to find their love again?

That’s the cover and cover blurb for the book, (out this month and available at Amazon, B&N, iTunes and KOBO). It’s a reunion story. I love those, thinking how two people so in love could be driven apart and eventually get their second chance at happiness. Time and tragedy have kept these two apart, but as Lorna Doone would say, “Even in Westen there’s an expiration date on stubbornness.”

CLOSE TO THE FIRE is also a story about a young man finding a place to belong. Also, a much beloved character finds someone with whom to share his heart. And finally a community comes together once again to meet trouble head-on.

So, I hope you’ll pick up a copy of CLOSE TO THE FIRE and have a sit-down with the friends waiting to visit with you in Westen.

Julie Benson returns with a Cowboy In The Making.

Julie BensonHey everyone! Today in the Lair we’re welcoming back author Julie Benson. As you know Julie writes contemporary western romances for Harlequin American. Today she’s going to tell us about her newest book, COWBOY IN THE MAKING.

Suz: Glad to have you back in the Lair, Julie! COWBOY IN THE MAKING is your fifth book set in the Colorado town of Estes Park. What made you choose that area of the American West to set your stories in?

Julie: I went to a wedding in Estes Park, Colorado and few years ago and fell in love with the area. While visiting there an idea for a story—one completely different than anything else I’d ever written—hit me smack in the face in the form of one fine looking cowboy. One day when I got stuck on a current story I took Suz’s advice and started working on something completely different—my cowboy story. I found my voice and had a blast writing that book. Then when I sold that story I decided to stay with the Colorado setting and cowboys for a few more books.

Suz: Tell us about COWBOY IN THE MAKING.

Julie: Here’s the blurb:

A Little Bit Country… 

Emma Donovan ran off to Nashville when she was young and full of dreams. Now she’s back home in Colorado with a little more common sense. And that sense is telling her not to count on Jamie Westland. He won’t be around long—not with his big-time career in New York City. 

Jamie’s never felt at home, not with his adopted family, not with himself. Now, on his grandfather’s ranch, the pieces of his life are coming together in a way that feels right. And Emma has so much to do with it. But when an opportunity comes along back in New York, he has to decide between his old life and the promise of a new one…with Emma. CowboyInTheMakingFrontCover-2-2

 Suz: In COWBOY IN THE MAKING, you handle the subject of adoption. I like how you showed three different sides to the process. How did you decide on that conflict for the book?

Julie: When Jamie’s character popped into my head I knew he was adopted. That’s where the whole story started. I first met Emma when she showed up as Avery’s friend in my third book, The Rancher and the Vet, but I knew very little about her other than she worked as the volunteer coordinator at the animal shelter and she had dreams of a career in country music. Jamie was much clearer to me. I realized he’d never felt like he fit in with his family because he was so very different from them. He also carried a lot of pain from his birth mother not wanting anything to do with him when he reached out to her as a teenager.

Suz: Both your hero and heroine are musicians in COWBOY IN THE MAKING, but from different genres, country and classical. Which begs me to ask the question, which are you more a fan of? Why?

 Julie: I’m a rock and roll girl, but my son Alex has gotten me listening to country music over the last few years so I’d choose it over classical music. I love how country music often tells a story and has such genuine emotion running through it. Those things call to me. Country music so often taps into universal themes. It’s got an honesty to it.

So readers, are you a rock and roll kind of person or more country? Or are you into classical? Jazz? What’s on your iPod or the CD in your car stereo? Do you listen to music when you read? If you’re a writer, do you listen to music while you write or do you like it quiet?

The Square-Foot Garden Adventure

20140910_190847Pull up a chair…get comfy…this is gonna take a while! :)

Y’all know I love my husband. I do. Let’s make that 100% clear.

However life with the Jazzman is…at times…an adventure. It’s how we ended up in Texas, by way of a few years in Florida. When he gets a new project he tends to focus all that genius IQ on it, sometimes to the point of obsession. Then there’s the experimentation part of most projects. (Nothing has blown up…lately.)

For the past year he’s been reading about organic gardening.

Let me back up a few years. We’ve gone “mostly” organic and reduced the amount of processed foods in our home. My parents grew up on farms in Tennessee and my mom cooked using fresh ingredients when I was growing up, even planting a small garden for tomatoes, peppers and the occasional cucumber vine. We had friends who grew half-runner green beans and corn in bigger gardens, which they would let us pick. In the summer we’d go pick strawberries at a pick-your-own farm outside of Columbus, blackberries at a friend’s farm and apples from relatives in Tennessee. Cooking with fresh ingredients as much as possible isn’t foreign to me, so I indulged most of Jazzman’s wishes for organic foods.

Guess what peeps. Shopping at the Organic Food Stores is expensive!

Jazzman understood this, (after a sit-down with me over the budget), hence his reasoning that we should grow our own vegetables….organically…in our little backyard.

Now, one thing about the Jazzman is that he researches, studies and analyzes how to do things. So naturally, he bought books, read articles on the internet and talked with organic farmers. After many months of research, he decided we should do “raised beds in a square-foot garden, Suz.”

Which of course led to many hours of him planning all the different ways to build a raised bed and how to make it efficient. There are places where you can buy pre-made raised beds in any dimension. Nope. Jazzman decided he needed to build ours out of cedar boards. So supplies bought, you’d think we were ready to go, right? Nope.

We watched the sun rise and fall for about a week, trying to determine where the best use of sunlight would be. Jazzman’s determination? Smack dab in the middle of the back yard. OH, HELL NO! I determined the best spot would be to the side where it would get morning sun, but the late afternoon and early evening would be in the shade. We live in Texas after all. No use frying the poor plants for more than 8 hours a day. Guess where the garden is. :)

1617206_811228818889231_5534118429170367418_oNow we’ve got the supplies and the spot. Jazzman proceeds to build his garden. 4 square feet by 4 square feet. Remember that number, it’s important. He puts the sides together and puts plywood on the bottom. We carry it out to the spot. Then he decides to build a trough-like raised bed 4 square feet by 1 square foot. To the back of both he adds rebarb stakes with piping at the top, then ties twine up and across this frame to make a trellis. (People…I said he’s detailed to obsession, but hey, while he’s busy with this…I’m writing!!)

Next comes the compost and manure mixture. One must have the right kind of soil and fertilizer after all. Finally, it’s time for plants. Now. He’s divided the 4×4 into 1ft square spots. Total…16 (Told you the # would come in handy!) Then the 4×1 is marked off to make 4 spots. Jazzman goes to the store and comes back with…2 pepper plants, 8 tomato plants, marigolds for bug control…and herbs.

HERBS?

Seriously? Okay, fresh basil and chives are cool…but honestly, you can grow them in pots on the back porch. We’ve spent a few bucks and I was wanting…vegetables. He did save a space for green beans near the trellis. Sigh. He was so excited. I let it slide.

Plants are planted, watered. They look happy to be in the soil. Then it rains. And rains. And rains.10348730_811732682172178_6160723296823379236_o

Now, not being professional farmers, we were pretty sure rain was good for the plants. Well at first it was. Things grew, looked lush, beans were starting to send vines up the trellis. But then we noticed the bottoms of the tomatoes were getting dark spots. The marigolds kept dying. What the hell was going on?

After much research, Jazzman determined the cause was poor drainage. See he’d built the raise bed for being on a patio by adding the plywood bottom and not having enough drainage holes. SIGH.

But all is not lost! We live in Texas, which has a very, very long growing season and two times to harvest. Who knew!?!

SQUARE-FOOT GARDEN #2.

Jazzman has bought more cedar and this time chickenwire for the bottom. He’s also reevaluated the soil mixture for the ultimate growing environment. So in JULY in TEXAS he’s decided to rebuild the squarefoot garden, mix up new soil using some from the old gardens, and try again.

Now picture this. He’s got the boxes built, coated them in linseed oil and is ready to fill them. He’s determined the easiest way to mix the new soil is to use a GIANT TARP in the middle of the back yard.

Temp at noon on D-Day is 102….let me repeat that…ONE HUNDRED and TWO freaking degrees.

So, I get this call from the backdoor to stop what I’m doing…(writing)…to come “help”. Help with what? Mixing manure. Yes, I got to play in manure in 102 degree heat. Jazzman pours not 1, not 2, but 3 kinds of manure, (chicken, cow and worm) along with mushroom compost, some expanding shale, and peat moss onto the tarp and we mix it into the old soil he’d dug out of the previous garden by…moving the ends of the tarp.

I KID YOU NOT! (okay, farmer peeps…stop laughing!!! That means you, Cassondra!!)

Here we are in the hottest day in Texas so far this summer, lifting 200# of….crap….over and over and over and over and over. I was not happy. Nope. Not at all. Zip. Nada! And I grumbled…and grumbled. BUT we got it mixed. He fills up the 4×4 with it. Oh wait…it only fills 1/2! WE have to do the tarp dance AGAIN!!! And repeat for the 4×1 replacement!

20140826_192832Finally, at the end of that long, hot, miserable day, Jazzman has the gardens redone, including the saved trellis from the previous ones. He’s replanted the basil…because we had a great basil bush in the old one. Bought new plants, this time, heavy on the peppers and tomatoes.

About a week later, everything is growing fine, but the Jazzman is concerned about keeping them moist so  he investigates, reads and researches how to make…an irrigation system.

Yes, people, we have the most high-tech automatic drip irrigation system for our little gardens. On timers. BUT we also have drainage.

 

tomato_hornwormOh, then we were invaded by aliens. Okay, maybe not aliens, but it sure looked like something from a sci-fi movie. It was actually a Tomato Hornworm. (That’s its picture over there!—–> ) We found four of them, they were happily stripping all the leaves off the tomato plants. They don’t make pretty butterflies, so we had to put them out of our misery.

 

20140917_191343BUT we have!!! Vegetables!! And they taste delicious!!

Are you laughing? I am! :D :D :D :D

So, do you plant a vegetable garden? Have you gone organic? Do you obsess over new projects? Got any good recipes for peppers and tomatoes?

BTW…we’re looking at planting winter vegetables soon…broccoli, onions, lettuce, peas…wish us luck! :)

 

Debut Author Patience Griffin talking Quilts & Kilts

Patience-GriffinHey Banditas and Bandit Buddies, y’all know how much we love bringing you debut authors so you can get their very first book for your TBR collections. Well, today I have a delightful new author to introduce you to. I met Patience several years ago at my local RWA chapter here in Dallas. Since then I’ve had the pleasure of watching her grow in her writing career and take that first step into publication. She’s in the Lair today to tell us about her debut novel, TO SCOTLAND WITH LOVE, book #1 in her Quilts & Kilts series.

Suz: Welcome, Patience!! Pull up a chair here in the Lair bar. Sven will serve up whatever you’d like to drink while we chat. Name your poison!

Patience: I would love to have a caramel frappe…with plenty of whip.

Suz: So, first things first…we LOVE call stories in the Lair, so tell us yours.

Patience: Oh, dear, do you really want to hear this? I have a long history of kidney stones and was in pain on this particular day. I had been sitting in a warm bath and had just gotten out. I’m usually pretty shaky after one of these episodes—I call it a kidney stone hangover—and decided I didn’t feel good enough to get dressed. So here I was lying under a pile of covers, naked, when my agent called. I had to ask her to repeat herself several times. Oh, and to this day, my agent doesn’t know I was naked while getting the news. So shhhh, mums the word. Okay?

Suz: Can you give us a little bit about TO SCOTLAND WITH LOVE to wet our appetites, please.

Chapter One
Cait Macleod frowned as the taillights of her taxi sped off into the night. She was standing in a deserted parking lot on the northeast coast of Scotland in the middle of December. All alone. Not new for her, but it sucked all the same.
“Don’t worry about me,” she said to the now-long-gone cabbie. She kicked snow off her shoe. “I’ll be fine and dandy.”
A fierce gust of wind caught her hair, reeling it around her head like tangled fishing line. The saying You can never go home again smacked her in the face as surely as the wind did. She gazed down at the scant glow of lights rising from the coastal village below and wondered if she was crazy to think she could recapture the happiness she’d once had here. Instead of coming home with her Scottish head held high, she was coming home in defeat.
But there was no time to ponder what was or what might be again as a wintry chill settled into her feet. She grimaced down at her metallic Brian Atwood heels immersed in the snowy slush. Clearly, she hadn’t given enough thought to her wardrobe when she’d decided to escape her crappy life in Chicago.
“This is one hell of a birthday,” she said into the wind. Thirty-one years today. She’d forgotten Gandiegow was a closed community—no cars past the parking lot, only walking paths. And here she stood with four hefty suitcases and only two arms to drag them into the village. She yanked two of her bags over to a tree to wait their turn. The other two, she rolled behind her as she awkwardly hobbled into the village, all the while cussing in Gaelic.
Gandiegow had exactly sixty-three houses arcing around the coastline, with rocky bluffs boxing in the village. The way the town snugged up against the sea made it look like an extension of the ocean. But instead of ripples of water, there were houses. She’d been born in this village. She’d watched her mother bake bread in their wood-fired stove. Her father, when he’d cared about being a good da, had taught Cait how to fish just yards from their front steps. Her cantankerous grandmother still lived here in one of the little stone cottages.
Cait sighed heavily at her predicament. How had it come to this? Her cheating husband, Tom, was dead. Her journalism career was nearly a corpse. And her hope for reviving her life was gasping for its last breath, too.
She stopped, pulled out her map, and checked the location of her own newly bought bungalow. It sat farthest away, next to the bluffs, isolated but for one other house next to hers. She’d purchased the cottage sight unseen, based on a few snapshots over the Internet. It was the craziest thing she’d ever done, selling everything and running away. But, she reminded herself, she wasn’t really running away; she was running home. Her father had been the one to uproot Cait in the first place. When she was thirteen, he’d dragged her and Mama halfway around the world.TSWL
“God, I haven’t turned into my da, have I?” she said to the wind.
No. Her rash move affected no one but herself. It was Tom’s deceit, their marriage headed for divorce court, and then the dirt mounding over his grave that brought Cait to the breaking point. She had to get out of Chicago and come home to Scotland. Maybe here she could pull herself together and eventually revive her writing career.
She went back to slogging through the slush, not really thinking about the cold. It was the tension that had built up over the last few days that was getting to her. Now it increased exponentially, making the knot at the back of her neck feel like a burning fist. Deydie. The only family Cait had left.
Her gran would wring her neck for not letting her know she was coming. Cait had tried—sort of. Before the plane lifted off, she’d called, but Deydie hadn’t answered and there’d been no machine to take a message. What kind of granddaughter waits until the last second to let her gran know she’s coming? A stupid one?
But dang it, Deydie wasn’t your typical gran. Cait loved her, but the old gal had issues. Crabby, in-your-face issues. During their last phone call, her gran had made it perfectly clear what she thought of Cait: a chip off the old block—specifically, her father’s worthless, good-for-nothing block. Cait knew there’d be hell to pay. She’d never given Deydie a good reason for staying away so long. But what could she have said? I can’t leave town because my husband screws around at every opportunity? Or, I lost myself along the way and did everything the cheating bastard told me to do? How ridiculous Cait felt. Especially now.
What if her grandmother and the other townsfolk rejected her? Cait hadn’t visited even when she was an adult and had the means. In Gandiegow’s eyes, that was indefensible, regardless of Tom. Cait had slapped her kinsmen in the face, and they would surely repay her by showing her their backs. What would she do then?
The gravel and slush gave way to a cobblestone walkway. Under other circumstances, Cait would’ve found the winding sidewalk charming, but right now it felt like the devil’s path. Her heels kept getting lodged in between the stones, and every few feet, the suitcase wheels got stuck, too. If she had to lug the baggage much farther, her arms were in serious danger of being ripped from their sockets.
Six houses and two turns of the stone walk later, she found cottage number thirteen. Her heart stopped. There had to be a mistake. This couldn’t be the two-bedroom bungalow she’d seen online. That one had been a quaint, one-and-a-half-story, ivy-covered dream.
This one was a black, smoky ruin.
“It figures,” Cait groaned.
Dangling sideways from a wrought-iron post hung the #13 sign. Judging by the look of the charred wood, a fire had claimed every bit of her new home. The only parts left were the chest-high stone wall surrounding the perimeter of the house and a smoke-stained chimney jutting out of the ashes.
Her house was dead.
It all made sense now. Death comes in threes. Wasn’t that the old saying?
Well, the Christmas tree back in Chicago had knocked off first. It turned into a skeleton and dropped pine needles all over the floor. Tom, her lying, cheating, weasel-of-a-husband, went next. He had a heart attack while inserting his holiday sausage into his mistress. And now her new home was dead, too. A freaking funeral pyre.
A shiver, which had nothing to do with Scotland’s frigid December weather, overtook her. “I’m such a fucking idiot.” Could life get any worse?
A fat raindrop hit her head. Then another. Just like that, the heavens opened up and dropped a shitload of rain on her dumbass head. She looked up. “Thanks.”
She dragged her bags to the house next door with the intent of using her neighbor’s phone. While stepping up on the porch, she formulated a few choice words for the online Realtor—the big swindler!
Before reaching for the knocker, Cait decided to dislodge the rock from her shoe first. But when she bent over, the door suddenly opened. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a man come through and stop short. She felt pretty sure, even from that angle, he was giving her ass the once-over.
She had every intention of giving him a piece of her mind—she didn’t allow men to ogle her like a rump roast—but when she stood and saw who was eyeing her . . .
Omigod! Mr. Darcy. She nearly fell in the ice and mud.
She couldn’t catch her breath. Graham Buchanan. It was Graham Buchanan in person. He was so outrageously handsome he seemed to glow and shimmer, and she couldn’t take her eyes off him. More impressive than he’d ever been on the big screen or in a magazine spread. No glitz, no glamour, no hair gel. Not put together in any sense. And better, so much better—his collar-length brown hair tousled, his beard a two-day stubble, and he wore a Scottish warrior’s frown like a badge of honor. Sexy as hell.
She had come to this house to ask for something, but for the luvagod, she couldn’t remember what. All she could do was stare at his broad chest and tall frame. She licked her lips. His spicy cologne drew her in.
He took a step back, ready to slam the door in her face.
“Wait,” she cried. She still needed a phone. And to smell him a second longer—a tantalizing mixture of ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg.
“You’re with the press,” he accused.
How did he know? Graham Buchanan must have a sixth sense.
But right now, who cared? His Scottish burr rolled off his tongue like melted caramel. She wanted to lap him up. And the pheromones flying off him were so palpable, they had her wanting to drop to her knees and offer herself up as his love slave, his sex kitten, his everything.
Get it together, Cait.
She straightened herself up and took a deep breath, then lied as if her career depended on it. “I am not with the press.” Not anymore. Editing Chicago Fishermen’s Monthly didn’t count when it came to journalistic credits.
She looked into his golden brown eyes. Being near him caused her heart to bang against her insides like a wild badger inside a metal drum. She closed her eyes, trying to center herself. It didn’t work. She felt like the envy of all ovulating women in the free world. It wasn’t every day she stood in the presence of the sexiest man alive.
It hit her then like a wrecking ball—oomph. The headline from People magazine in her carry-on bag—Graham Buchanan Gone Missing Again. According to People, no stone had gone unturned, yet she’d stumbled into him, now only three feet away. She’d found the lost actor. Cait Macleod had done it—found Graham Buchanan!
Inside the cottage, another man’s voice rang out from behind Graham. “What is it?” He sounded a little perturbed.
Graham’s eyebrows furrowed, distrust shrouding his features. “I’m not sure,” he called. Any second now he’d slam the door in her face.
Cait stuck her hand in the jamb. “I need to use the phone.”
“Then you’re not a journalist?” He crossed his arms over his chest. “You look like one of those leeching paparazzi—”
“Heavens no. I—I—” Her brain faltered, and the stupidest answer came out. “I’m a quilter.”
Graham jerked back. “You’re a what?” He closed the door a bit more.
A small boy saved her. He came up behind Graham and grabbed his hand. The kid looked about six, dark red hair, sad eyes and an even sadder mouth. Graham put his arm protectively around him. “Go back to your da, Mattie.” Obediently, the boy turned and left.
Graham watched him until he disappeared; then he gave her his full scrutiny again. “Usually, I’m right about these things. I can’t believe you’re not with the press.”
“You’re wrong this time, buster.” Her Episcopal upbringing had her wanting to make the sign of the cross, a little protection against lying so fervently. And for calling the mega star buster. She gestured toward her misfortune. “That’s my house next door.” She took a couple of deep breaths, trying to regain her composure. “The one that looks like a campfire gone awry.” She made sure she looked him square in the face so he wouldn’t know she’d lied about her profession. What a bonus that he was so easy on the eyes.
He leaned out and nodded toward her house. “She went up in flames day before yesterday.”
Cait gazed over at her cremated house as well. “I knew it was too good to be true. I’m plagued with bad luck.”
“Luck has nothing to do with it.” He shrugged. “Faulty wiring is what I hear.”
“About that phone? My cell’s dead.” She wiped the rain from her eyes.
He seemed to wake up to the fact that she was soaked. “Come in.” He still sounded leery, but stepped to the side and opened the door fully. “Duncan, you have company.”
“What?” A young man appeared, the same height as Graham, so like the actor it made Cait stare at both of them. Two things hit her at once.
The man behind Graham was little Duncan MacKinnon, whom she’d once protected from a bully at Gandiegow’s one-room schoolhouse. Shoot, she’d babysat for him a time or two as well. Duncan would be, what, twenty-five or twenty-six by now?
Second, and most unbelievably, Duncan MacKinnon was undoubtedly Graham Buchanan’s son. People insisted the star had no family. But the resemblance was just overwhelming. And the sad little boy—Graham’s grandson? She rubbed her temples. It was almost too much to take in.
“Duncan, meet your new neighbor.” Graham looked at her quizzically. “Miss . . . ?”
“Caitriona Macleod.”
“Caitie Macleod?” Graham said, incredulous.
Caitie. Her mother had called her that, and the villagers had called her that, too. Her stepmother, however, had refused, insisting
Cait drop the ie along with her other Scottish traits.
The men stared at her, gape-mouthed, in the entryway.
Finally, Graham found his voice. “I knew your mother, Nora, well.” Then, a lot sterner, “Does Deydie know you’ve come?”
“No, but I plan—” she started.
“Are you daft?” Graham took her arm and ushered her into a small but cozy living area. “Call her.” He pointed at the black 1960s-era wall phone hanging on the real-wood paneling.
Cait crossed her arms. “It’s late. I’ve been up more than twenty-four hours. I’ll see her tomorrow.” Graham might be a superstar, but he couldn’t tell her what to do. “Listen, I feel too wet, too tired, and my brain too jumbled to deal with Deydie. Is there a hotel in town?”
The men looked at her in disapproving astonishment, like she’d stubbornly sailed a dinghy into a hurricane. A churlish Deydie hurricane.
Duncan prodded her, much gentler than his da. “You must call her. She’s family. You don’t want her upset.” It sounded like a warning, the bell of a danger buoy.
He was right about one thing: Cait didn’t want to upset Deydie, the most daunting woman in all of Scotland. But there’d be no avoiding it. Cait was the prodigal granddaughter, and that was some powerful unpleasantness she’d rather face when she was dry and when her feet didn’t feel like a couple of stumps in her six-hundred-dollar heels.
She tugged at her Barbour trench coat. She’d never tell them the real reason she wasn’t asking her gran to put her up. Rejection. Cait had had it up to her wool cap with being dismissed, denied, rebuffed, and repudiated. “Tomorrow. I’ll see Deydie tomorrow. Tonight, I need a hotel.”
Cait got more frowning from Graham. “Gandiegow doesn’t have one,” he said, irritated.
“True,” Duncan said with an edge of resentment. “But he can help you out.” He gestured toward his da.
She didn’t know what was going on between the two of them, but at least someone was on her side. Cait used her best downtown-Chicago scowl to stare Graham down.
Finally, Graham caved with a sigh of resignation. “If you insist on being obstinate, then you can stay in the room over the pub.”
She was the one to be circumspect now. “You know this for sure about the room? Shouldn’t you speak with the pub owner first?”
The men shared a knowing look.
Graham pulled the handles up on her suitcases and started walking toward the door. “Aye, you’re in luck. The owner won’t turn you away tonight.”
Cait turned to Duncan. “It’s nice seeing you again.”
“Then you do remember me?” Duncan said.
“How could I forget little Dunkie MacKinnon? I used to babysit you at your grandda’s house,” she said.
Duncan smiled. “I remember getting extra biscuits when you took care of me.”
“We’ll catch up later,” she said with a genuine smile, then realized that Graham was already out the door.
She stepped outside and found the rain had turned into sleet. “Lovely weather we’re having.”
Graham shook his head. “What did you expect? It’s December in Scotland.”
She felt like an idiot and pulled her lapels around her face to block out the December in Scotland welcome. “The rest of my bags are back in the parking lot.”
“Let’s get you to the pub first; then I’ll go for the rest.”
“Thanks.”
The conversation died, and a million thoughts converged in on her. Was this where Graham went when he disappeared for months at a time? If Duncan MacKinnon was his son, how come the press didn’t know? Even more perplexing, why hadn’t she known? She’d grown up in Gandiegow.
Cait slipped and grabbed for Graham. He dropped the bag handles and reached for her, catching her around the waist with a strong grip. For a moment, they stood toe to toe with her hands holding on to his biceps, his made-of-steel biceps. Time downshifted to a complete halt. Before this moment, she wouldn’t have given two cents for a muscly man. In a twinkling of an eye, Graham Buchanan changed all that. She looked up into his face and turned into a hot puddle in his capable arms.
Geesh, Cait. Get a grip.
She dropped her hands, made sure she stood on solid ground and then continued on, not looking over at him. Thank God it didn’t take long to get to the pub or she might have gone so far as to ask for his autograph . . . or if he needed a warm bod to snuggle up to tonight.
Graham withdrew an old-fashioned skeleton key from his coat, unlocked the door, and held it open for her. “The switch is on your right.”
Her own lightbulb went on. “You’re quite the joker, aren’t you?” She mimicked his baritone voice. “The owner won’t turn you away tonight and all.” She flipped the switch. The place lit up with old-world ambience—all dark wood on the floor, booths, and counter.
The chairs had been upended on the tabletops, and the bar and floor had been polished by Mr. Clean. It lacked only a band of rowdy Scots and it would’ve been perfect.
“Why isn’t the place hopping?” Cait asked.
“Renovations. Tomorrow night is the grand reopening of the Fisherman.” For the first time, he actually smiled. “Let’s get you upstairs and dried off. Over here.” He made his way past the bar to a narrow set of stairs. He had to duck his head to make the climb.
She followed him, getting a gratifying view of his man-butt in his jeans. At the top landing, she found a small hall with two doorways.
He pointed to one. “The bath’s in there.” He opened the other door. “The bedroom. It’s not much. It should be enough for tonight, though.” He frowned at her, the frown he’d given her earlier. “Are you sure you won’t stay with Deydie tonight?”
She shook her head.
“Well, then, I’ll be off to get your other bags.” He pointed at the armoire. “Towels and linens are in there.” Then he was gone.
Cait hurriedly slipped out of her ruined heels and freed herself from her coat. Her Jones New York slacks would never be the same, and she stepped out of those as well. When she dropped her tailored white shirt to the floor and stood in nothing but her lacy white bra and her French-cut undies, the door opened.
Graham stood there slack-jawed. “I . . . I . . . just came back to tell you I’ll leave your other bags out in the hall.”
Bless him, he was embarrassed. But not enough to look away. He gave her underthings an appreciative nod. “I’ll be going.” The door shut.
Cait should’ve been incensed by him barging in. Instead, her belly warmed with excitement, and adrenaline made her tremble. What was wrong with her?
“What female wouldn’t get a little flustered with Graham Buchanan gawking at her underwear?” she rationalized to the wall.
The mirror caught her flushed face and bright eyes. “Oh, shut up,” she muttered to her reflection

Suz: I have to confess, the moment I read your hero played Mr. Darcy on TV, Colin Firth was in my head for the duration of the book. Sigh. Who did you have in mind for him?

Patience: I do love Colin Firth, but I might have had a particular Scottish actor in mind (perhaps Gerard Butler) while I was working on To Scotland with Love. My first Gerard Butler crush was when I saw Timeline. There have been many since.

Suz: Sigh. I do love a good Gerard Butler movie, picture…uhm, yeah. He could work for me as Mr. Darcy, too. Poor Cait, the heroine of TO SCOTLAND WITH LOVE. She has some hard choices to make when she arrives in Scotland, doesn’t she?

Patience: Cait does have a tough time of it. She has to choose between kick-starting her career or respecting the privacy of someone else. Her hard choices are just a reflection of what we have to face every day. When we get up in the morning, we have to decide whether we’re going to do only for ourselves or to take care of others. It’s a balancing act between self-preservation and loving those around us. It isn’t easy, but no one ever said life would be.

Suz: So quilts? Why did you decide to put quilting in your books?

Patience: I began quilting in Iowa. On the first Saturday of every month, a group of us quilters would get together and sew. We would eat, tell stories, and laugh while we were sewing. I loved my community of quilters and thought it would be fun to create a small town where quilters were the center of everything. Women are powerful and I enjoy showing how this community of women draw strength from one another through laughter, and sometimes, tears.Scots at Highland games

Suz: Okay, you know I’ve been green with envy ever since I heard you were going to Scotland. How was your trip? Meet any Scots in kilts?

Patience: My trip to Scotland was amazing. And, yes, I did see many Scots in kilts at the Highland games last weekend in Birnam—from the bagpipers and drummers, to the Highland dancers, to the men competing in the heavy athletics. It was a kilt feast for the eyes! My cousin wanted me to take a picture of a tartan that she liked. The older Scot accused me of taking a picture of the younger Scot’s bum. They had a good laugh about it and let me take a face-forward picture of them.

Suz: What’s next in your Quilts & Kilts series? Meet_Me_in_Scotland.indd

Patience: MEET ME IN SCOTLAND comes out January 6, 2015. Here’s a little blurb: You can run from your problems, but you can’t hide from love in the Scottish seaside town of Gandiegow…. When a video of her calling happily ever after “a foolish fantasy” goes viral, marriage therapist Emma Castle is out of a job—and off to Scotland.

The tiny town of Gandiegow is the perfect place to ride out the media storm and to catch up with her childhood friend Claire. But also in Gandiegow is the one man she hoped never to see again. She’s successfully avoided Gabriel MacGregor since Claire and Dominic’s wedding, only to find he’s now the village doctor—and just as tall, dark, and devilish as ever. Claire and

Dominic’s blissful marriage, however, is not what it used to be. Soon Emma and Gabriel find themselves taking sides even as the sparks begin to fly between them. Can Emma help her friends—or regain her career—as she struggles with her own happily ever after?

Website: www.PatienceGriffin.com

The Quilters of Gandiegow Creed: Our life is not measured by the quilts we create but by the number of quilts we give away.

Patience wants to know what’s your favorite quilt? Do you have a story to go with it? She’s giving away a signed print copy of TO SCOTLAND WITH LOVE to one poster today.

 

September Fun in the Lair!

I don’t know about all of you, but I can’t believe it’s September already. Before you know it, shops will be stocking up for Christmas! At least those of you in North America have Halloween and Thanksgiving to keep those retailers occupied. Here in England, we’ve seen tinsel and twinkling lights as early as the beginning of October. *shakes head*

 

A SEAL's Fantasy coverAnyway, the weather may be cooling in the northern hemisphere, as summer fades into fall, but here in the Lair, the fun is heating up – rather like the weather for our friends Down Under! As usual, we have a month packed with great Bandita books and lots of fabulous guests. I can hear my TBR mountain groaning already!

Duke very low resTawny Weber’s latest Sexy SEAL hits the shelves this month with A SEAL’s Fantasy.  The title really says it all.

 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00004]Also, don’t forget Caren Crane’s Tiara Wars (launch party coming on September 21!) and Anna Campbell’s What a Duke Dares.

 

DamasoWe kick off the month in style tomorrow, with the return of a Lair favourite,  as the lovely Annie West stops by to talk about her latest book, Damaso Claims his Heir. Damaso garnered a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews and it’s a doozy of a read so check it out.

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Donna will be interviewing Caroline Warfield about her debut historical novel, Dangeorous Works, on Sept 4.

TSWL

On September 5th, debut author Patience Griffin makes her first visit to the Bandit Lair with her book To Scotland With Love, the first in her Quilts & Kilts series.

 

More fun on Sept 7th, when Nancy and Trish report on this year’s Dragon*Con adventures.

 

Duke low res*Launch party alert* On 10th September, the fabulous Anna Campbell  is holding one of the lair’s infamous launch parties to send her What a Duke Dares, book 3 in her Sons of Sin series, into the world with a bang. Swing by for a glass of ducal champagne and giveaways!

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On Sept 12th, Barbara Lohr joins Donna to talk about her new release, Her Favorite Honeymoon. Barbara will be comparing a warmly familiar setting such as a small town series to a pulse-speeding read in faraway places or times, and asking which you prefer.

 

Vexing_The_Viscount_(eBook)A familiar and beloved face returns to the Lair on Sept 16th, as Christie Kelley joins Nancy to talk about her latest releases, Vexing the Viscount.

 

On Sept 17 Trish hosts Pam Mantovani to discuss The Cowboy on her Doorstep, her debut novel. 

 

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More cowboys on September 18th, when Julie Benson returns to chat with Suz about her latest Harlequin American book, A Cowboy In The Making!

 

 

Don’t forget to check out this month’s Bandita contests!

Anna Campbell’s RT Book Reviews Top Pick, What a Duke Dares, is out in the UK at the end of October so she’s celebrating this momentous occasion by having a cup of tea and giving two entrants in her current website contest a chance to win a signed print edition of the beautiful Mills and Boon edition of the book. To enter just email her on anna @ annacampbell.info (no spaces) with the names of the other full-length novels in the Sons of Sin series. There are two of them and you might find the answer here. The contest closes 31st October, 2014, and entry is open internationally.

Tawny’s giving away a free digital compilation of Hot Kisses to anyone joining her newsletter this month. To join and get your copy, just click here.

Do you have anything special that you’re looking forward to this September?

By the way, don’t forget you can buy most of these books quickly and easily by clicking on the covers!

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