Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Iris Blobel and the Alinta Bay Series

Iris Blobel is here with a look at her Alinta Bay Series. Welcome Iris!

Welcome to ALINTA BAY
I’m happy to share with you the second book in Iris Blobel’s series,
which is set at the Great Ocean Road in Australia.
If you love small town romance, be sure to get your copy today!

About Book Two
Confronted with the choice to care for his friend’s family on the other side of the world or to return to Alinta Bay to be with his own newfound family, how will Noah choose?
Following the death of his grandmother, Noah Fielding returns to Alinta Bay and the first thing — or person — he finds is the next-door neighbour in his nan’s bathroom — naked no less. Still jetlagged, he doesn’t hit it off with Molly at first. Yet, over the next few weeks, as his past uncovers itself bit by bit, she becomes is anchor, his friend, and his lover.
Molly Reid had the world at her feet, happily married with a young son … until a tragic car accident took everything away from her. With her heart broken, she moves to Alinta Bay to escape the memories of the past. Her peaceful existence, however, is interrupted after a heavy storm floods her house and she temporarily moves into her recently deceased neighbour’s house next door.
When Noah’s friend and partner goes missing during a routine flight, Noah returns to Alaska to help, but will he come back for Molly?
Add TELL IT TO MY HEART to your Goodreads TBR !
Get your copy of TELL IT TO MY HEART today!

Book One in the Series
Sometimes one has to break rules in order to find happiness…
Widower Logan Hendrix is puzzled by the recent series of small crimes against his son’s new teacher. It’s a mystery to him, and he offers her his help. There’s an instant attraction, and Logan wants to take their parent/teacher relationship to a more personal level.
It doesn’t take Addison Ryker long to fall in love with Alinta Bay, the small town she’s moved to for her new teaching position at the local primary school. Her newfound haven is threatened, however, when her house is broken into and she is relying on the unbelievably stubborn but very sexy Logan for help. Although captivated by him, Addison worries her career could be compromised, because there are rules about dating a parent.
Add DEFYING RULES to your Goodreads TBR !
Get your copy of DEFYING RULES today!

Where to find Iris:

Friday, April 24, 2020

WILL RISE FROM ASHES by Jean Grant: Now in Audio!

Jean Grant visits today with a look at her contemporary women's fiction, WILL RISE FROM ASHES. Jean is excited because the book recently released in audio, and she's here to tell us a bit about her favorite parks in the U.S.since the story begins in Yellowstone. Welcome, Jean!

10 National Parks You Must Visit

I’m a nature lover and national park enthusiast. I’ve been to over 30 national parks and monuments (there are 62 national parks and over 350 monuments, memorials, historic sites, recreation areas and seashores, all referred to as “park units”). Since Will Rise from Ashes starts off with a bang—the supervolcano bubbling below Yellowstone National Park erupts, I thought why not share my favorite parks (that I’ve visited—there are definitely parks I’ve not visited that should also be on this list, such as parks in Hawaii and Alaska, and Glacier NP).

1. Yellowstone National Park – a geothermal wonderland

2. Yosemite National Park (and Sequoia National Park) – granite cliffs, mountains, waterfalls

3. Crater Lake National Park – deep volcanic, sapphire lake

4. Arches National Park – hundreds of arches of sandstone, petroglyphs

5. Bryce Canyon National Park – orange-red hoodoos, spires, and canyons

6. Grand Teton National Park – ragged mountains, alpine lakes, grizzly bears 

7. Olympic National Park – rainforests, large rock beaches, glaciers/mountains

8. Acadia National Park – Maine coastline, forests, dominating peaks

9. Capitol Reef National Park – colorful slot canyons, cliffs

10. Dinosaur National Monument – wall of dinosaur bones, rivers, and quietude


Living is more than mere survival.

Young widow AJ Sinclair has persevered through much heartache. Has she met her match when the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, leaving her separated from her youngest son and her brother? Tens of thousands are dead or missing in a swath of massive destruction. She and her nine-year-old autistic son, Will, embark on a risky road trip from Maine to the epicenter to find her family. She can't lose another loved one.

Along the way, they meet Reid Gregory, who travels his own road to perdition looking for his sister. Drawn together by AJ's fear of driving and Reid's military and local expertise, their journey to Colorado is fraught with the chaotic aftermath of the eruption. AJ's anxiety and faith in humanity are put to the test as she heals her past, accepts her family's present, and embraces uncertainty as Will and Reid show her a world she had almost forgotten.


He slid closer and placed a hand on mine and squeezed. “I see a strong woman who has been hurt deeply. I see a resilient mother who would journey through hell for her children. I see somebody who has become jaded and has trouble trusting, unable to sort through friend and enemy. I see a woman with hope.” He held my gaze. “And I’d like to be your friend, Audrey Jane.” 

My jaw may have dropped. I wasn’t sure. I recovered quickly. Or at least I tried. “You’ve been talking with my therapist, haven’t you?” God, I was teasing him. I was joking. I was like Will. Will always got goofy with his peers in social situations when he didn’t know the expectations, or how to behave. 

Either way, Reid didn’t laugh. Thin lips pressed into a frown that I couldn’t decipher. 
I didn’t prod any further. I broke the gaze and released my hand from his, then stoked the fire for the tenth time, sleep luring me with sweet abandon. I tossed the stick into the fire. “I should turn in.” 

“I’ll stay awake,” he offered. “Until the fire goes.” 

“Okay.” I nodded, though the fire could have been quickly snuffed. 

I paused in my opening of the tent flap, turned around, and peered at him. My arms dropped to my side, my hands still. “I’m sorry about the hotel. I was sick and wasn’t thinking straight. Thank you for your help today.” A part of me couldn’t disclose the unvarnished truth. Part of it had been crazy withdrawal symptoms AJ. The other part—I’d been paranoid he’d been drinking. Harrison’s death remained a ghostly echo in my mind, perhaps clouding my judgment. The scent had been on his clothes though. I was sure of it. The more I pondered, I believed his story. Perhaps I had been triggered. Perhaps I really did have trauma or PTSD. I shook my head. I didn’t know. 

Firelight glistened off the growing beard hairs on Reid’s chin and spots of amber danced in his dark, round eyes. Speaking of soulful eyes… “You were looking out for Will. I understand. I had been gone far too long.” 

“You had a legitimate reason. Shit happens,” I countered. 

His lips curved into a resigned smile. “Yeah. Rest, Audrey Jane.” 

“You, too, Reid,” I whispered. I added in a deep exhalation, “And yes, yes, I’d like to be your friend.” 

As I stepped into my tent, I observed Reid’s normally straight shoulders slouch a hair. Perhaps he, like all of us, was on his own road of atonement. Searching for meaning, searching for answers…searching for absolution. 

I had treated him poorly. I didn’t know what the hell had just happened between us, but I tucked it away into a corner of my brain to contemplate upon another time when I was lucid. My remorse had lifted somewhat. 

Ignoring my exhaustion for at least a few minutes, I clicked on my headlamp and pulled out my journal. It was time to unburden my heart.

Buy links:

Audible ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ iTunes ~ Kobo ~ Google books

Author Bio:

Jean’s background is in science and she draws from her interests in history, nature, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction. She also writes articles for family-oriented travel magazines and websites. When she’s not writing or chasing children, she enjoys tending to her flower gardens, hiking, and doing just about anything in the outdoors.

Social Media links:

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Being a Hollywood Background Actor by Laura Haley-McNeil

Laura Haley-McNeil makes a return visit to Journeys with Jana to talk about her sweet romance, CALL IT LOVE. Laura has something in common with her heroine Addison - they've both been background actors in Hollywood. Here's Laura's Hollywood story. Welcome Laura!

Lights! Camera! Action!

When my book Call It Love, Book 3 of the Beaumont Brides Series, started to germinate in my head, I knew I wanted to create a Hollywood romance for my two characters―Addison and Spencer. It was the perfect book for me to write. Because I’m a Southern California girl, I actually had a little bit of experience with the film industry.

The studios are always looking for background actors, and I learned about these opportunities by word of mouth. Many of the background actors were serious actors and hung out at the studios. They learned about the casting calls first and scooped up the openings that provided face time and could lead to something else. For someone like me who has no acting experience, these gigs were a great way to pad an income.

The jobs can vary in length from a day to much longer. The gig paid more than most high school jobs, and the studio supplied delicious, catered meals. When I would hear about the call, I’d try to find out what to wear that day―did they need bikini clad girls (my mother would never permit it), girls in dresses, winter clothes? Whatever they needed, I’d fit the call.

When we arrived, and if we were selected for a scene, we had to register. We were paid at the end of the day so they needed our information to make sure the checks were processed correctly. Once on the set, everything was locked. They were paying us to work, not leave then return when filming had been completed to pick up the paycheck.

And what was the day like? It could be pretty boring. We waited around for our scenes to be setup. We had to listen to directions and watch cues to make sure we performed correctly. The stars could make mistakes, but we couldn’t. We’d walk across the set or dance or pretend like we were afraid or angry. We had to be quiet. The sound was dubbed in later.

It was fun to remember these experiences and recreate them in my book Call It Love. The film industry can be full of surprises and I enjoyed every minute of it.

To find about Addison’s and Spencer’s Hollywood romance, click the link below to download a sample or buy this sweet romance today!


A kiss isn’t just a kiss …

Struggling actress Addison Duvall hustles background acting jobs at the Hollywood studios hoping for her big break. When she’s cast as the stand-in for the lead actress in a blockbuster spy film, she can’t believe her luck. The surprises rush in―her first test shot is with Hollywood heartthrob Spencer Kingsley. Her even bigger surprise is when director yells, “Action!” and Spencer presses his lips to hers in a kiss.

Behind Spencer’s Hollywood façade hides the secret pain no one suspects. He’s the first to take a risk, except when it comes to his heart. He can’t deny he and Addison have chemistry―onscreen and off―and he’s  tempted to lower his guard. She seems real, not like the women he usually meets.

But once Addison’s star rises, so do Spencer’s doubts. She’s no different than the others looking for a connection to catapult their careers. Except he can feel himself falling for her. He won’t let another woman damage his heart. His decision made, Spencer wishes her success and moves on.

But it’s already too late. How does he heal this Addison-shaped hole in his heart? Should he risk more heartbreak for another chance at love?


Addison Duvall stood apart from the cast and crew crowded across the Hollywood soundstage and ended the call on her cell phone. She dropped her head back against the concrete wall and closed her eyes, but that did little to still the emotions rising in her chest.

Her agent, Donny White, had just told her she didn’t get the part on the sitcom that she was sure she had. The director was looking for someone tanner, blonder, shorter. She could be all those things if given a chance. She could go to a tanning salon, dye her dark hair, and slouch.

Donny laughed and told her he’d scheduled her for another audition. “Don’t worry, kid. I’ll get you something,” he said. But he said that every time they talked.

Sometimes she wondered if she should’ve accepted the teaching job she’d been offered and stayed in Colorado―even if it was January and freezing.

Conversations on the set silenced. Addison’s eyes flew open, and she clutched her copy of the screenplay for When We Say Goodbye to her chest. She’d been hired as the stand-in for Irene Wayne, the female lead in this top-budget spy film, and she didn’t want to miss her cue.

A tall, powerfully built man stepped onto the set. Spencer Kingsley, the film’s star, was the grandson of Hollywood great Mirabelle La Marr Kingsley and the hottest actor in town. His parents would’ve been acting legends had a tragic accident not claimed their lives.

Addison’s heart beat rapidly. She might be Irene’s stand-in, but this was the closest she’d ever get to Spencer Kingsley. When Irene’s scenes were shot, she’d be with Spencer in nearly every scene.
Lucky girl.

Buy Link:

Author Bio:

A native of California, Laura Haley-McNeil spent her youth studying ballet and piano, though her favorite pastime was curling up with a good book. Without a clue as to how to write a book, she knew one day she would. 

After college, she segued into the corporate world, but she never forgot her love for the arts and served on the board of two community orchestras. Finally realizing that the book she’d dreamt of writing wouldn’t write itself, she planted herself in front of her computer. She now immerses herself in the lives and loves of her characters in her romantic suspense and her contemporary romance novels. Many years later, she lived her own romantic novel when she married her piano teacher, the love of her life. 

Though she and husband have left warm California for cooler Colorado, they enjoy the outdoor life of hiking, bicycling, horseback riding and snow skiing. They satisfy their love of music by attending concerts and hanging out with their musician friends, but Laura still catches a few free moments when she can sneak off and read. 

Social Media Links:

Amazon Author Page:

Friday, April 17, 2020

Interview with Stephen B. King: #NewRelease - DOMIN8

Australian author Stephen B. King writes psychological thrillers, and I was curious about what drew him to this genre and how he got his ideas. As a romance writer, I was also pleased to discover that he includes romantic elements in his books. Stephen was happy shares his thoughts in our interview. Please welcome Stephen B. King!

Blurb, DOMIN8:

After his wife loses interest in him, fifty-year-old Dave Barndon turns to the dark side of the Internet and sex chat rooms. There he finds willing partners who are happy to fulfill his needs with no strings attached. But they aren't the only ones looking to play.

When a woman he had an affair with is murdered he becomes the prime suspect. He thinks his alibi is solid until a second woman is murdered, and then a third. He fights for his freedom and redemption while the body count rises. He must figure out who is framing him and why before the killer str ikes again.

Where did you get the idea for your new novel?

All my other twelve books came to me by way of inspiration, but Domin8 was an idea that gnawed away at me for a long time – years even. The difficulty was the juxtaposition of a mature, successful, happily married man but for one thing: his wife doesn’t want sex anymore. He discovers internet chat rooms after some unusual circumstances. Linking that with a murder/mystery/whodunnit and allowing him to find redemption was a challenge that took a long time to solve.

Why did you choose this genre?

This genre chose me. I’d like to think I can write an effective story in any genre. At school I loved writing challenges, but I am drawn with a morbid fascination toward serial killers and showing why they do what they do.

What was the most difficult thing about writing this book?

Finding a balance. My publisher and editor wanted the project, but my initial submission had too many graphic sex scenes in it (not that I enjoy writing them – far from it). I found it difficult to write about a man who is a self-confessed sex addict discovering a treasure trove of willing submissive women and NOT write sex scenes. For me the story was like an eighties Brian De Palma movie. By that I mean a straight-out thriller with sex, but the publisher struggled to find the right line to place it in. It was too much of a thriller for the erotic, but too many sex scenes for a thriller. It took a lot of rewriting and help from my wonderful editor to find the right balance.

What do you want readers to come away with after they read your book?

Two things. I’d love for them to be entertained first and foremost. Then, if possible, I’d like them to consider their own marriage and ask a couple of questions. 1..Was Dave justified in fooling around when his wife refused to have sex with him for so long? Many men I know in their fifties would say yes. 2..Is cyber-sex as bad as having an affair if there is no physical contact? I listened to a radio chat show about this very subject.

If you could change something about one of your books that’s already released, what would it be?

This book was released earlier and has gone through a major rewrite and I am delighted with the changes made to how this story is told. Four years of working with a brilliant editor has taught me a thing or two. I have three other self-published works, maybe I should check those too?

What was the hardest part about writing the story of an unlikable protagonist? What was the easier part?

Dave is likable, but he does things that most of us think is unlikable. The fact he got away with it so long is testament to the fact that he is such a likable person. He is tall, handsome, self-assured and flirtatious, so women find him attractive. That was the difficult part. I know most of my readers are women and they wouldn’t like what he was doing, so to find balance and help them keep reading was very difficult. The easy part is that I relate to Dave. I’m that age, happily married, work in that industry, and have seen a lot of men and women my age have affairs for the very reasons Dave does. So, I felt I wrote with some authority on what is a very difficult subject – yet hopefully built into it a thrilling, suspenseful whodunnit.

You told me that the editing process for this book represents about a year of work. Why did you decide to revamp and re-edit Domin8 and take it from being self-published to being published by The Wild Rose Press?

Readers have told me, and I passionately believe too, that Domin8 is a story that should be told because there are some life lessons people could learn while being entertained by a gripping, interesting story. Because of its complexity once written, I needed time away from it to get it right. When D8 was first published, I wasn’t happy with it, the editor I used loved the story, but I don’t think she was good enough to handle such a contentious issue. When I picked it up over three years after it was released, I was horrified at the errors. It was like the book was screaming out to me to make it better. I mentioned it to Melanie, my TWRP editor and she asked to read it and said yes it was possible for them to re-release a book, if it was good enough. So, I presented to her my re-written version. Then other editors read it to decide which line it suited so I was able to get lots of fantastic support and direction to make the story as good as I could, The book doesn’t scream at me anymore, it’s content now and I love it. As does everyone I asked to read it during the twelve months it took to edit.

In your serial killer series, you weave in a love story, and you tell me that Domin8 also contains two love stories? Why do you add romantic elements to otherwise dark and gritty stories?

Great question, why do I? I think if you write about the dark side of human nature, there has to be a balance of light and dark. Otherwise it’s too horrible. Plus, the thing I work hardest on is creating characters the reader can invest in. If I can get you to like and care about the characters, and want them to have a happy ending, then hold on tight, we are going for a ride. I think we all deserve a happy ending, but in life, we don’t always get it. Not all of my characters get to keep the love they found; just lie in real life, but I think we all want to feel love and be loved.

What do you like best about your hero in Domin8? 

Dave Barndon is a good man, flawed yes, but a good man who makes some poor life choices with catastrophic results. He wants to find redemption, if he can.

What do you like best about your heroine? 

Shannon is a no-nonsense woman who has been hurt by her husband who left her for a younger woman, and then Dave Barndon comes into her life. She is attracted to him, but hates what he has been doing, yet she is his nurse and must nurse him back to health after he has been shot.

In looking at all the books you've written, what book for you has been the easiest to write? The hardest? The most fun?

Easiest: Glimpse, memoir of a Serial Killer. Boy the words poured from me, and that’s a worry as half the book is from the killers POV. That book felt like it came through me, not from me – if that makes sense.

Hardest: Without doubt, Domin8, yet this is the book that means most to me in terms of the story I’ve been able to craft.

Most fun: Glimpse, The Tender Killer. So many aspects of that book were such fun to write, my female protagonist Patricia Holmes; my favorite female lead ever. A fabulous schizophrenic killer that  was brilliant to write for. And then there is Jolly; the killers imaginary alter ego, or, is he imaginary?

What’s one thing that your readers would be surprised to learn about you?

I left school at age fifteen to follow my love of rock music, and girls. Yet I have won two literary awards for my book Thirty-Three Days – that proves anyone can follow their dream.

Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it? Does it help you with your writing?

I manage a large Kia Dealership and worked in the motor trade for many years. I meet so many people I get lots of ideas for creating characters.

Name one person, book, or song who/that inspires flights of fantasy.

Leonard Cohen wrote a song called Nevermind, which was used in one of the True Detective series. The words in that song reached inside my soul and grabbed a firm hold. In particular, one line: ‘I live among you well disguised.’ That line inspired my first book, Forever Night which was picked up by a publisher on my first attempt and started this journey

If you could get rid of something in your life that would give you more writing time, what would it be?

My full time job. I have a saying: I work for a living and write for a passion. I’d love to be able to write for a living; that would be Utopia.

Do you have any pets? Are you cat person or a dog person? Or are you into totally different pets, like goldfish? What do you like best about your pet?

We have a rescue dog, named Snowy, a West Highland Terrier. When our children moved out of home there was a huge hole in our lives and Snowy filled it. He is so attached to my wife they are like Siamese twins; it’s a beautiful thing to see them together.

Name two authors we might find you reading when taking a break from your own writing.

Michael Robotham and Val McDermid. Both write about criminal psychologists who are flawed and I love their books

Do you have any words of advice to beginning writers?

I do; two things. Firstly, never give up. The more you write the better you get at the craft, and Domin8 is proof positive of that. Secondly, write from your heart, and edit, edit, edit with your head.

How can readers reach you or find you online?

Twitter: @stephenBKing1
Facebook: @stephenbkingauthor

Tell us a little about your current work in progress.

I’m in editing rounds with Winter at the Light, a romantic thriller set in 1952 on a remote lighthouse when 19-year-old Molly agrees to look after it for her father when he is injured. Unfortunately, she discovers, there is nowhere to hide on a Lighthouse. I’m also about 75000 words into Glimpse 4, called Glimpse, The Angel Shot. I thought I was done with Glimpse as a trilogy, however readers wanted more, in particular to know what happened next to my protagonists. That was so flattering I started thinking about where they both would be three months after G3 ended….

If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?

Well if you enjoyed a more romantic thriller, I’d begin with Thirty-Three Days, about 68-year-old Jenny whose consciousness has come back in time to her thirty-five-year-old body to save the world from an all-consuming blight. In the past she falls in love for the first time in her life, but she can only stay for thirty-three days. However, if your taste is for more psychological thrillers, Domin8 is a good place to start, or my darkest, is Glimpse, Memoir of a Serial Killer.

Do you have an event coming up you’d like to tell us about?

Domin8 is released on April 13th and I can’t wait to see what readers think.

Tell us about your next release.

Here is the (unofficial) blurb for Winter at the Light which should be released in three to four months:

In 1952, 19-year-old Molly agrees to run the Forbes Reef Lighthouse for her father who has broken his leg. She leaves the city and her nursing career behind, dreading three months of loneliness, trapped on a remote island. Once into her routine, Molly discovers she enjoys the solitude, the radio check-ins with the mainland, fishing from the jetty, and the joy of reading. When a massive storm arrives bringing a life raft, Molly risks her life to save the unconscious man inside. On waking he says he has lost his memory but as Molly nurses him back to health she wonders if he has. When the storm finally clears, Molly has fallen for the mystery man, but still has doubts about his honesty. A boat arrives with two men to kill him and anyone else who can identify them. Molly quickly learns there is nowhere to hide on a lighthouse.

Buy Links, DOMIN8:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2xCrMNC
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/2Qe0vaI

Stephen B Kingwww.stephen-b-king.com
twitter: @stephenBKing1
Facebook: @stephenbkingauthor

Thursday, April 16, 2020

April #99cent Book Sale Event!

Enter to win an e-book bundle of all 41 books featured in the 99 cents Book Sale Event:

Open Internationally.

Runs April 16 – 19, 2020.

Winner will be drawn on April 27, 2020.

View all the books in the sale here:

I'm featuring LIES AND SOLACE, book 1 in my Love at Solace Lake series, in the book sale event. It will be on sale for .99 cents from April 16 - 19, 2020.

Available at:

Free on KU!

To sweeten the pot, the other two books in the series are also on sale for .99 cents 
between April 16 - 19, 2020!

Available for .99cents from April 16 - 19 at:

Free on KU!

Available for .99cents from April 16 - 19 at:

Free on KU!

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Clothes Make the Character by Karen Hulene Bartell


Clothes introduce and identify your fictional characters. Period costumes and uniforms communicate their personalities, social positions, and even occupations.

Because Wild Rose Pass is a period piece, set in 1880s, I needed to research women’s fashions from the era.

The skirts of women of leisure were intricate compositions of folds and drapes. Bustles reappeared, and frills and lace trimmed the bodices. But a fashion revolution was afoot. Sensible clothing was becoming acceptable for women who worked in factories, as well as for sports minded women.
Cadence, the heroine, was ahead of her time. An 1880s society belle, she wanted to escape her constricted lifestyle of corsets and side-saddles. In the following scene, she musters the nerve to wear the convertible riding skirt she designed for the first time.

What appeared to be a skirt at first glance was flared pants that allowed her legs mobility. Modesty panels covered the front and back slits when she stood but also covered her ankles when she rode astride. “When I was out East, I rode side saddle like a proper lady, but riding aside on these trails is dangerous.” Squaring her shoulders, she lifted her chin. “Why risk breaking my neck when I can sit more comfortably and safely in the saddle?”

Tongues wagged at the fort because her conduct was “unbecoming for a young lady.”

“Nothing goes unnoticed at a fort. Living on a post is like living in a cage.” She examined her gloves and riding skirt, and then sighed. “The pins of patience.”

“The pins of patience…?” He squinted, unsure he heard right.

“Flossie has a favorite saying. ‘Women ought every morning to put on the slippers of humility, the shift of decorum, the corset of charity, the garters of steadfastness, and the pins of patience.’ ”

Clothes not only set the tone of your characters, but they lead to the conflict and action.
Because Wild Rose Pass is set in an 1880s cavalry outpost—Fort Davis, Texas—I also needed to research US officers’ uniforms from the era. However, the hats, boots, gloves, pants, and shirts of 1870 to 1880 lacked uniformity as the following photo illustrates.

Following the Civil War, the Army had a massive surplus of uniforms. When the medium sizes were depleted, the unpopular “Swiss blouse” was introduced, quickly  followed by the 1876 sack coat. So by 1880, the Army wore four versions of uniforms. Finding the uniform was a challenge, but the following photo nails it.

In Wild Rose Pass, the officers’ hats, gloves, and uniforms serve as the props for indicating superiority, frustration, anger, or urgency.

Holding out his kidskin-gloved hand to Cadence, he stepped in front of Ben. 
Not phrased as a question, his tone was a command—a senior officer speaking to a subordinate. Catching her breath, Cadence stiffened.

Or in this scene…

Riding at the front and wearing long, white leather gloves, James raised his arm to halt his men. Then dismounting, he tossed his horse’s reins to a private. 
She wrinkled her nose. So theatrical—as if he’s the marshal leading a parade.

Or in this scene…

Ben tightened his grip on his hat, twisting the rim between his fingers. “Have you sent out a scouting par—” 
“Of course.”
“Did you take a tracker with you?” Clenching and unclenching his hat rim as he curled first one side and then the other, Ben struggled to keep the frustration from his voice.

Or in this scene…

Before reveille? “Thank you, sergeant.” Ben yawned as he pulled up his suspenders and pulled on his boots.

Pay attention to your characters’ clothes. They not only set the tone and serve as props—they make the characters!

Wild Rose Pass by Karen Hulene Bartell


Cadence McShane, free-spirited nonconformist, yearns to escape the rigid code, clothes, and sidesaddles of 1880s military society in Fort Davis, Texas. She finds the daring new lieutenant exhilarating, but as the daughter of the commanding officer, she is expected to keep with family tradition and marry West Point graduate James West.

Orphaned, Comanche-raised, and always the outsider looking in, Ben Williams yearns to belong. Cadence embodies everything he craves, but as a battlefield-commissioned officer with the Buffalo Soldiers instead of a West Point graduate, he is neither accepted into military society nor considered marriageable.

Can two people of different worlds, drawn together by conflicting needs, flout society and forge a life together on the frontier?


Reining his horse between catclaw and prickly-pear cactus, Ben Williams squinted at the late summer sun’s low angle. Though still midafternoon, shadows lengthened in the mountains. He clicked his tongue, urging his mare up the incline. “Show a little enthusiasm, Althea. If we’re not in Fort Davis by sunset, we’ll be bedding down with scorpions and rattlesnakes.”

As his detachment’s horses clambered up Wild Rose Pass, the only gap through west Texas’ rugged Davis Mountains, Ben kept alert for loose rocks or hidden roots, anything that might trip his mount. A thick layer of fallen leaves created a pastiche of color shrouding the trail from view. He glanced up at the lithe cottonwood trees lining the route, their limbs dancing in the breeze. More amber and persimmon leaves loosened, fell, and settled near the Indian pictographs on their tree trunks. When he saw the red- and yellow-ochre drawings, he smiled, recalling the canyon’s name—Painted Comanche Camp.

“How far to Fort Davis, lieutenant?” called McCurry, one of his recruits.

“Three hours.” If we keep a steady pace.

Without warning, the soldier’s horse whinnied. Spooking, it reared on its hind legs, threw its rider, and galloped off.

As he sat up, the man groaned, caught his breath, and stared into the eyes of a coiled rattler, poised to strike. “What the…?”

Flicking its tongue, hissing, tail rattling, the pit viper was inches from the man’s face.

A sheen of sweat appeared above the man’s lip. “Lieutenant—”

Buy Links:

Amazon Paperback: https://amzn.to/2vQP41r
Barnes & Noble NOOK Book: https://bit.ly/32zhDfZ
Barnes & Noble Paperback: https://bit.ly/2T1V3JM

About the Author:

Author of the Trans-Pecos, Sacred Emblem, Sacred Journey, and Sacred Messenger series, Karen is a best-selling author, motivational keynote speaker, wife, and all-around pilgrim of life. She writes multicultural, offbeat love stories that lift the spirit. Born to rolling-stone parents who moved annually, Bartell found her earliest playmates as fictional friends in books. Paperbacks became her portable pals. Ghost stories kept her up at night—reading feverishly. The paranormal was her passion. Westerns spurred her to write (pun intended). Wanderlust inherent, Karen enjoyed traveling, although loathed changing schools. Novels offered an imaginative escape. An only child, she began writing her first novel at the age of nine, learning the joy of creating her own happy endings. Professor emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin, Karen resides in the Hill Country with her husband Peter and her “mews”—three rescued cats and a rescued *Cat*ahoula Leopard dog.

Connect with Karen: 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KarenHuleneBartell 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KarenHuleneBart 
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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/611950.Karen_Hulene_Bartell 
Website: http://www.KarenHuleneBartell.com/
Email: info@KarenHuleneBartell.com
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/karenhulenebartell
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AUTHORSdb: https://authorsdb.com/community/17847-karen-hulene-bartell

Friday, April 10, 2020

Flying Pumpkins and Shifters: BEAR WITH ME by Marilyn Barr

Marilyn Barr tells the story of her flying pumpkins that inspired  BEAR WITH ME, her paranormal romance about bear shifters, coming soon from The Wild Rose Press. Welcome Marilyn!

The days of my Ohio homesteading adventure I miss the most are the days when something went wrong.  It was only in the disasters that my one-sixth acre farm revealed its magic.  The cover of my debut novel, Strawberry shifters book 1: Bear with Me, is a mystical interpretation of one of those days.  While Alison the Green Witch uses her inherited magic to grow pumpkins, I used a series of coincidences to make my pumpkins fly.

Inspired by the 1960’s television show “Good Neighbors”, my spouse and I tore out the backyard grass from our suburban home.  We constructed a fence around our mud pit and hoped the Machiavellian homeowners association (HOA) didn’t look too closely.  It was a neighborhood of old money with a famous golf course on one end and a nationally ranked high school on the other.  We had received a nasti-gram from them for letting our trash cans burn the corner of our lawn.  When we ignored the letters, someone spraypainted the twelve-inch circle green under the cloak of darkness.

My husband was upset when he found that all the vines I had planted were butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash.  He wanted a Halloween pumpkin to carve and place on our porch, right under the noses of the HOA.  I didn’t see this as a reason to grow pumpkins in our micro-farm.   A few sweet words from his dimpled smile, and I was starting pumpkins seeds.  Where to put them?  We used companion planting in lieu of pesticides so we didn’t accidentally poison ourselves.  Every square inch of the backyard was planned for maximal growth conditions sans pumpkins.  In a huff, I planted the pumpkins under the pignoli nut (Italian pine) trees at the end of our yard.  With a sinister chuckle, I planned for the constant shade to kill them.

The vines flourished into a florescent green superhighway system.  The opposite side of the trees was the edge of a paved church parking lot, so I thought no harm was done.  They will crowd themselves to suffocation.  I was delighted when the ROUSes (giant groundhogs) of Ohio ate the blossoms and were too full to eat from our farm.  The pumpkins were serving a purpose.

It was a day in late November when we saw the first UFO.  My husband and I were planting fall garlic when our neighbor ran out with his camera.  He showed us the forty-pound pumpkin swinging about six-feet off the ground.  We laughed but noticed it had a friend in the neighboring tree.  Climbing the tree to retrieve the second UFO, I found several smaller pumpkins nestled in the tree branches.  Meanwhile, my neighbor and spouse were laughing in the church parking lot with the reverend of the church.

I joined them to view the pumpkins swinging from all the pine trees in the periphery of the parking lot.  The church sold them as a fundraiser and defended us against the HOA.  The reverend called it one of God’s miracles.  My spouse called it my magic.  It was this moment that gave birth to Alison the Green Witch and my (own voices) main character in Strawberry shifters book 1: Bear with Me.



“You look perfect. I mean perfectly healthy. I mean mostly uninjured,” she stammers. She places her tiny hand over her eyes.

Feeling braver than ever, I walk right up to her. I gently remove the hand from her face and hold it to my own. “See, I’m fine,” I whisper as I gently rub my thumb over her tiny knuckles.

Her eyes lift to mine and lock our gazes. I have always found the golden color of her eyes fascinating but never studied them up close. They are light brown with a golden star in the middle. I am literally star gazing as she takes in the injuries to my face. We stand there for about a minute, lost in time.

I wonder if she is thinking about when we first started dating, the hard times that followed, the present, or the future. I search her face for clues but don’t want to break the spell by opening my mouth. I decide to put said mouth to better use by lowering my head toward hers.

Author Bio:

Marilyn Barr currently resides in the wilds of Kentucky with her husband, son, and rescue cats. When engaging with the real world, she is collecting characters, empty coffee cups, and unused homeschool curricula.

She has a diverse background containing experiences as a child prodigy turned medical school reject, biodefense microbiologist, high school science teacher, homeschool mother of a savant, and advocate for the autistic community.

She would love to hear from readers via her website: www.marilynbarr.com.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Spotlight on ROCK HOUSE GRILL by D.V. Stone

D.V. Stone returns to Journeys with Jana for another look at her brand new release (April 6, 2020) ROCK HOUSE GRILL. If you missed her first visit with her favorite scene, check it out here. Welcome D.V.!


Aden House, successful but driven chef and TV personality, refuses to slow down. His life implodes one night, damaging him both physically and emotionally. He's rescued by a woman he thinks of as his angel.

Shay McDowell has rebuilt her life after her divorce. She juggles volunteer EMT duties and her job, while dreaming of becoming a chef. She finds her way to Rock House Grill and back into the life of the man she helped save.

Can love be the ingredient needed to survive the many obstacles they face?


“God, I need a miracle.” Olivia rubbed at the muscles knotted tight in her neck and shoulders.

“Well, maybe I’m an answer to your prayer.”

Spinning around, Olivia stared into a set of hazel eyes, twinkling with good humor and backed by steel. “Who are you?”

“Hi, I’m Shay McDowell.” The young woman came toward Olivia with her hand outstretched. Medium height, chestnut-colored hair pulled into a high ponytail, and tasteful makeup, she wore a sharp suit and practical, stacked heels. Shay McDowell looked the epitome of professional.

 “Olivia House.” She wiped her damp palm and grasped the proffered hand, giving it a brisk, businesslike shake. “How can I help you, Ms. McDowell?”

 “It’s Shay, and I stopped by to drop off my résumé.” The woman shrugged one shoulder and lifted her hand at the disaster. “But if you’re willing, I could give you an on-the-spot interview and get this under control.”

Quickly scanning the résumé, Olivia then eyed the shorter woman. “The previous hostess left with no notice.”

“Yeah, I met her in the doorway, but I’m more than a hostess. My specialty is Front of House.” Shay stepped back and glanced around the room. “Take a few moments. I’ll understand if you decline the offer. It’s not the normal way of applying for a job.”

Olivia took a moment to study Shay over the top of the résumé. The woman stood straight with shoulders back and chin lifted, wearing an admirable confidence. Her résumé definitely indicated experience.

“Well, it can’t get much worse than this. Have at it.”

At the rate the staff was going, it didn’t matter, they wouldn’t be ready for the first customers anyway. Margaret and Eli were dealing with their own issues in the kitchen and wouldn’t be any help out front. Stepping back, Olivia took a seat to watch the show. How had things deteriorated this far? Aden usually ran a tight ship. His split focuses recently had set in motion a downward cascade. Everything he’d planned to accomplish was falling apart. His absence the past couple of days was the final straw.

“Swwwttttt!” A sharp whistle filled the air, and Olivia jumped. She gaped as Shay took two fingers out of her mouth. The interviewee then proceeded to squirt hand sanitizer from a small bottle she pulled out of her purse and rubbed it into her skin while the staff hushed. Blessed silence filled the room as everyone turned to stare at the composed figure with hands now on her hips.

“May I have your attention, please?” Her pleasant voice carried well without shouting. “I’m Shay McDowell, and for today, I am your Front of House. We have two hours to pull this together, and I’m counting on each and every one of you to either step up or step out. From what I’ve heard, your boss, Aden House, deserves more respect than this.”

Gazes drifted toward each other. Soft murmuring and the shuffling of feet revealed embarrassment from many of the staff. No one left.

“Okay, I guess you’re all in.” Shay walked to the center of the room and started firing off orders.

She certainly knew how to work a crowd. Within minutes, the entire staff was eating out of her hand and working as a team.

Buy Links:

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Author Bio:

Born in Brooklyn, D.V. Stone has moved around a bit and even lived for a time on a dairy farm in Minnesota before moving back east. Throughout her wandering, she always considered herself a Jersey Girl. She met and married the love of her life, Pete—a lifelong Jersey Man, and moved this time to Sussex County.  They adopted Hali, a mixed breed from the local shelter, who is still working things out with their cat Baby.

D.V.’s career path varied from working with the disabled to become a volunteer EMT, which in turn led to working in hospital emergency rooms and then in a women's state prison. After a few years, she took a break from medicine and became the owner of Heavenly Brew, a specialty coffee shop in Sparta NJ, and a small restaurant in Lafayette. Life handed some setbacks, and she ended up back in the medical field, but this time in a veterinary emergency hospital.

During the poor economy, she was laid–off from a long-time position she cared about. Devastated, D.V. wondered what to do with her life. Finding comfort in her love of reading, she realized it was now time to follow her dream of writing. It's been a long road but worth every minute of it. Now a published author, she also works in a people medical office again.

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