Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Seven Secrets to Unleashing Your "Inner Author" and Writing Your First Book

Do you have a great book inside you but don’t know where to begin? During these dog days of isolation, now’s the perfect time to hit the pad and paper and finally start writing your big bestseller! Joan Gelfand is an award-winning author whose new summer beach read, EXTREME, will be released July 14. Here, Joan shares 7 secrets to releasing your ‘inner author:’

1. What’s your story? Your own personal story might be just the recipe for a great plotline. Or, a recipe might be the perfect starting point! Think Julie and Julia, the fabulous movie about a young woman who takes on the creation of Julia Child’s recipes as the challenge of her life.

2. Read the news. The next juicy protagonist might actually be right in front of you—in the papers, on the Internet or in a magazine. Great characters can be based on the real lives of politicians, celebrities, heroes and everyday people. A great summer beach read, murder mystery, chick-lit, sci-fi or crime story can grow with just the seed of an idea. Genre fiction is hot!

3. History can repeat itself ... in other ways, shapes or formats. Are there historical figures or periods in history that fascinate you? Are you obsessed with an obscure figure whose story has not been told? Or do you have some intelligence that has not been made public? Gelfand reminds us that while All the Light We Cannot See was probably the thousandth book written on World War II, Anthony Doerr found a way into the story with a young protagonist that was so compelling it won the Pulitzer Prize.

4. Use the Internet. Search engines like Google or Bing or platforms like YouTube are at your fingertips. Now, it couldn’t be easier to fact find. And don’t forget that when it’s OK to go out and congregate, librarians are a great resource too!

5. Romance, love or a bad divorce? Love makes for great stories; even ill-fated relationships can be superb jumping-off points. Think The Fault in Our Stars, The Way We Were, and Anna Karenina.

6. Mix it up. Writers tend to be introverted; however, you’d be surprised that a random Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn interaction can be the next inspiration for your next great story. Paris Blues Redux, Gelfand's award-winning short story, was based on a chance interaction she had in a Paris department store with a world-class pianist.

7. Travel. Remember that? Have you had any wild, scary, or even failed, adventures? Think Life of Pi. Exotic locations always lend themselves to great fiction. Gelfand wrote a story based on one image that struck her while traveling in Lombok, Indonesia. Let your imagination go.

About the author:
Joan Gelfand, author of EXTREME, is also a coach and writing teacher. Her book, The 4 C’s of Successful Authors: Craft, Commitment, Community and Confidence, is published by Mango Press. Gelfand’s reviews, poetry, and stories have won the Cervena Barva Fiction Award, The Chaffin Fiction Award, Red Room Authors award for reviewing and three Pushcart nominations. Her work has appeared in national and international publications, including the Los Angeles Review of Books, Rattle, PANK! Chicken Soup for the Soul, Prairie Schooner, Levure Litteraire, Voice and Verse, and the Toronto Review. A short film based on her poem, “The Ferlinghetti School of Poetics,” won best Poetry Film at the World Film Festival and was featured at 20 international film festivals. Joan is an active member of the National Book Critics Circle, a juror for the Northern California Book Awards and a contributor to the Huffington Post. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, Adam Hertz, a Silicon Valley veteran, and two beatnik kitties, Jack Kerouac and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Blue Light Press/First World Publishing
$21.95, Original Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-4218-3651-5
Available at Amazon

Release Blitz: "Second Chance Summer," by Allie Boniface

Whispering Pines Sweet Small Town Romance, Book 1
Contemporary Romance
Date Published: April 29, 2020
Publisher: DFM Publishing

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Ten years after leaving home, the last thing Summer Thompson expects is to inherit her estranged father's half-renovated mansion. And the last thing she wants is to face the memories of the night her brother died, fleeting as they may be. Now a San Francisco museum curator, she plans to stay east just long enough to settle the estate and get rid of the house. Until she finds it occupied by a hunky handyman who's strangely reluctant to talk about his past.

Damian Knight has been hiding his mother and sister from a violent ex, and Whispering Pines is the one place they’ve found peace and safety. He keeps to himself. He tells no one about his past. Yet when the lonely, haunted Summer steals his heart, he finds himself opening up to her in ways he should never risk. Especially to a woman who's planning to leave town after selling their refuge out from under them.

As their attraction grows, the past begins to catch up with them. Summer's mounting flashbacks leave her confused and determined to uncover the truth about the night her brother died. But that truth will cross paths with the man Damian and his family have been avoiding for years.

Can new love help them defeat the pain of the past? Or are some scars too deep to ever heal?

If you love small towns, memorable characters, and swoon-worthy happy endings, then you'll love this sweet romance by a USA Today bestselling author! (Note: This book was previously released as Summer's Song. Revisions and updates accompany this new version!)

About the Author

Allie Boniface is the USA Today bestselling author of over a dozen novels, including the Cocktail Cruise, Hometown Heroes, and Pine Point series. Her books are set in small towns and feature emotional, sensual romance with relatable characters you'll fall in love with.

Allie currently lives in a small town in the beautiful Hudson Valley of New York with her husband and their two furry felines. When she isn't teaching high school and community college English, she likes to travel, lose herself in great music, or go for a run and think about her next story. Take some time to browse around Allie's website, check out new and upcoming releases, and sign up for her newsletter. You'll get all the news about releases before everyone else, along with free stories available ONLY to subscribers. See you in virtual romance-land!

Contact Links

Purchase Link

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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Dark Fae Book Tour: Giveaway for a $10 Amazon Gift Card

Dark Fae 
The Dark Fae Book 1 
by Quinn Blackbird 
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Paranormal Romance 

He came to destroy the world.
He came to destroy us.
But he kept me alive when all else died.

It’s the end of us, the humans. Our world is ravaged, burned to the ground, destroyed by the armies of dark fae crawling all over our lands. They seek to end us, weed out the last of our survivors, and tear us to pieces.

We hide as best as we can. But it’s inevitable.

A dark fae army finds us hiding in a little village. We’re all goners. All of my group dies around me, and I’m about to join them in death -- until he spares me. 

**On sale for only 99 cents!**

Read an Excerpt:

I race for the treeline ahead.

My bag slams against my back, hitting a sore spot where my tailbone is—it cries out with every thud, agony searing me beneath the flesh. Falling over that wall has wounded me all over.

I shove through the pain exploding under my skin, at my ankle and back, my burning shoulder—I push through the pain and run faster than I fear my legs can carry me. They’re wobbling beneath me, threatening to give way as I race up the hill.

I make it halfway before an arrow whirs by my face. I jerk back just in time. It grazes my nose a second before I throw myself back onto the grassy slope.

My bag breaks the fall as I slam down on the dirt. But it doesn’t stop me from rolling down the hill, faster than I can run. Everything whirls by me; grass, dirt, and darkness polluted by orange firelight. The spinning only stops when I land with a crunch on the cobblestone at the bottom of the hill.

With a grunt, I scramble to my feet and spin around.

The dark fae are pouring out from the alleys, all over the village, and from the woods comes another dozen of them, arrows notched and ready to release. And as I know from the tiny drop of blood swelling at the tip of my nose, their arrows are faithful.

I’m completely surrounded. I have nowhere to go.

They advance on me. Their movements are dulled now. They know they have me cornered. They advance, slow and steady, wearing wicked smiles on their faces or vicious scowls that ache of bloodlust.

I can’t believe, after this long of survival, this is how it ends. Behind some forgotten village, where I’ll be left to rot or be eaten by wild animals from the woods. Either way, I’ll be gone. Forgotten, just like the village.

I back up to the nearest building until the hard touch of its walls presses against my bag. My hands somehow found themselves held up, as if in surrender.

And I do surrender, don’t I? By not running or fighting, I’m giving up. Facing death so weakly might not save my life, but it might mean a quick death. And that’s the best I can hope for right now.

Menacing faces draw in closer. Bloodshed glimmers in dangerous eyes all around me. I sink back further against the wall, as if I can simply fall into it and vanish.

It’s truly terrifying how silent their footsteps are. Even as they close in on me and I see their boots flatten against the ground, I can’t hear much other than my own rapid, choppy breaths and pounding heart.

Sweat seeps out from my pores. I can feel the beads gather at my brow. Watching the advancing dark fae, I hook my thumbs through the straps of my bag and slip it off. It slams down at my feet, freeing up the space between my waistband and my hand.

Reaching behind me, I feel around the waistband for the scissors tucked there. My fingers brush the handle as the first dark fae, whose eyes are like cut emeralds, comes at me.

I whip out the scissors and strike. Of course it misses him.

He laughs as he effortlessly dodges my attack. His laughter rises up over the army as some even throw their heads back and howl.

Guess I’ll go down fighting after all. But I’ll be laughed at in my final moments.

I lunge forward and swipe out at him again. His fiery-red hair whips to the side as he swirls around, and my scissors sinks into nothing but dark air.

Howls of laughter bubbles over the fae.

The red-haired one turns to face me, a feral grin twisting his mouth. He looks up at me from beneath short lashes and, in a blink, he moves for me.

A scream catches in my throat as he snatches me by the throat and, swiftly, throws me back against the wall. I smack against it audibly, then crumble to the ground.

Heat swells at the back of my head. Blood, I’m sure of it. I felt the crunch of my skull against the solid wall. My bones heard the impact.

The ground is spinning. I try to push myself upright, but everything tilts with every move I make, and dizziness washes over me. My body jerks forward as a violent heave shoves through me, and I slowly let myself slump against the ground. Better to die down here.

The heat of flames advances on me. I feel the sear against my skin. Lazily, I look up at the dark fae crowding me and see the fire-torches in their hands, outstretched, as they get a good look at me.

Some of the dark fae wear frowns as they study me. The red-haired one tilts his head and stares intently at the side of my neck.

Gingerly, I reach my hand to my neck and feel around for any monstrosity or wound. But there’s nothing there, nothing that I can feel at least. But there must be something, otherwise why are they all looking at my neck as if it’s just sprouted an arm?

Murmurs ripple over the crowd encircling me. Some of them look to another and talk in soft voices—as soft as their cutting language can sound. I frown back at the red-haired one as he takes a hesitant step toward me. I notice that he’s holstered his blade. There are no weapons in his hand.

He swipes a fire-torch out of another fae’s hand, then brings it closer to my head. The heat burns my skin, an odd itchy sensation. But it’s a short-lived feeling, because he pulls back after a few seconds, apparently satisfied. He chucks the fire-torch back to the one he stole it from, then gestures to me.

I’m too sore to move. My heart is pounding, my legs don’t work. It’s all I can do to lie on the ground as two fae move in on me and lift me up.

They carry me, not kill me. Yet.

The Dark Fae Book 2 

He's a monster.
I'm a prisoner.
And he's got his sights locked on me.

Caspan, the dark fae General, shows a dangerous interest in Vale, the latest human captive collected by the army.

What the dark fae want with the human captives is anyone's guess—but it's the last thing on Vale's mind. As she struggles to manoeuvre the strict rules of her new life as a slave, she quickly learns that she must avoid the attention of the dark, dangerous Caspan at all costs.

His interest in her is not only a sinister mystery—it's surely a death sentence.

Stay alive. That's her only rule in this dark, abandoned world.

But living amongst monsters sometimes means having to bend the rules. 

Dark Souls 
The Dark Fae Book 3 

Rule of the apocalypse. Don't mess with the dark fae.
I did, and now this monstrous fae wants me;
Wants to hurt me,
Kill me,
And kiss me.

Vale is trapped in the dark fae army, a prisoner of monsters. To make matters worse, the dangerous and dark General isn't forgetting her any time soon.

He corners her, watches her, and does what no dark fae should do with a human -- kisses her.

His lips on her skin is a kiss of death.

But Vale sees in him an opportunity to save the life of her only friend.

Didn't anyone ever tell Vale never to bargain with the fae? 

Quinn Blackbird loves a good anti-hero. All of her villains stay submerged in "dark," so expect little redemption. She thinks them up over hot coffees and warm cups of tea on the porch. When not writing, Quinn loves a good face mask and book on the couch with her two pups. 

Prize: $10 Amazon Gift Card 

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

Monday, April 27, 2020

A Deadly Inside Scoop Book Tour: Giveaway for an Ice-Cream Maker, Scooper, and One-Time Ice-Cream Delivery!

A Deadly Inside Scoop 
An Ice Cream Parlor Mystery Book 1 
by Abby Collette 
Genre: Cozy Mystery 

This book kicks off a charming cozy mystery series set in an ice cream shop—with a fabulous cast of quirky characters.

Recent MBA grad Bronwyn Crewse has just taken over her family’s ice cream shop in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and she’s going back to basics. Win is renovating Crewse Creamery to restore its former glory, and filling the menu with delicious, homemade ice cream flavors—many from her grandmother’s original recipes. But unexpected construction delays mean she misses the summer season, and the shop has a literal cold opening: the day she opens her doors an early first snow descends on the village and keeps the customers away.

To make matters worse, that evening, Win finds a body in the snow, and it turns out the dead man was a grifter with an old feud with the Crewse family. Soon, Win’s father is implicated in his death. It’s not easy to juggle a new-to-her business while solving a crime, but Win is determined to do it. With the help of her quirky best friends and her tight-knit family, she’ll catch the ice cold killer before she has a meltdown… 

I write as Abby L. Vandiver and Abby Collette, but you can just call me Abby... 

I love mysteries! Whatever I write, I put a little mystery into it. 

Now I've got a new cozy mystery coming out May 12, 2020. A Deadly Inside Scoop is part of my new series, An Ice Cream Parlor Mystery, from Penguin Berkley. I'm so excited for its release. 

Stay tuned as I gear up for Release Day with giveaways, interviews and, of course. ice cream. (Okay, I won't actually have ice cream on my page, but I'll talk about it. A lot.) Pre-Order here

An ice cream maker and one-time ice cream delivery and scooper 

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

Friday, April 24, 2020

Cover Reveal: "The Plus-One Proposal," by Cassie Cross

Today, we have the cover reveal for The Plus-One Proposal by Cassie Cross! Check it out and be sure to pre-order your copy today!

Title: The Plus-One Proposal
Author: Cassie Cross
Series: Love Is…
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 7, 2020

About The Plus-One Proposal:

Peyton Castillo’s life is nearly perfect. She has a job that makes her happy, the perfect apartment, friends who love her, and all the time in the world to do whatever she wants, whenever she wants. She’s single and loving it, but she has a handful of weddings she’s RSVPed to and no plus-one to go with. That’s where Adam Portman, her gorgeous-and-knows-it coworker comes in.

Peyton’s proposal is simple: she’ll complete a work assignment Adam’s been dreading if he agrees to be her date to one of the weddings.

The offer is tempting, but sparks fly when Adam counters with a proposal of his own. That work assignment isn’t the only thing he’s been dreading. His parents’ 30th anniversary celebration is coming up soon and his mother is determined to set him up with her best friend’s daughter, who will be at the party. Adam needs a date to play along and convince his mom he’s off the market, and Peyton is the perfect choice…

Pre-Order Today!

About Cassie:

Cassie Cross is a Maryland native and a romantic at heart, who lives outside of Baltimore with her two dogs and a closet full of shoes. Cassie’s fondness for swoon-worthy men and strong women are the inspiration for most of her stories, and when she’s not busy writing a book, you’ll probably find her eating takeout and indulging in her love of ’80s sitcoms.

Connect with Cassie:

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Book Blitz: "The Long Way Home," by D.L. Norris

Biographical Fiction, Drama
Published: February 2020
Publisher: Outskirts Press

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The Long Way Home is a compelling work of fiction set in 1950s Madison County, Nebraska.

At the heart of the story is Maggie Davis, a middle-aged widow and recent heiress to a grand Victorian manor. The stately home, which Maggie shares with her spirited nine-year-old daughter Jenna, also serves as a bed and breakfast to a once regular, but now transitory, clientele.

The kitchen table is the epicenter of lively, often contentious dialogue where no topics are off-limits. An outspoken neighbor and routine visitor delights in keeping everyone on guard with her opinionated tirades but is frequently reigned in by an elderly, equally forthright family member who has recently become a permanent dweller at the manor.

Maggie finds herself struggling with the painful memories of her husband’s tragic death, as well as the stirrings in her heart associated with a new house guest. A scandalous scheme to swindle her out of her property rides on the heels of a sudden, unexpected death, pointing to a member of the family as a suspect. Set against an intriguing backdrop of family secrets, scandal, love, and humor, the story culminates with an emotional twist.

About the Author

D.L. Norris is a notable author and motivational speaker who has written numerous short stories and articles on health, emotional wellness, family, and cultural history. Norris’s novel, The Long Way Home, captures in colorful, humorous style the actual events and cultural mindsets surrounding her Scandinavian family and personal life experiences. Norris’s expressive writing style quickly engages her readers and encourages them to sit back and enjoy a nostalgic, magical journey. She and her husband are happily retired in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, where she continues a passion for writing.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Want Me Always Release Day Blitz: Giveaway for a $10 Amazon Gift Card ~ 5 Winners!

Today ,we have the release day blitz for Lea Nolan’s Want Me Always! Check it out and be sure to order today!

Title: Want Me Always
Author: Lea Nolan
Genre: Contemporary Romance

About Want Me Always:

Her mind says no…

Wren Donovan’s done with love. Betrayed and humiliated by her ex-fiancĂ©, she retreats to her family’s beach house on Heron Harbor Island to lick her wounds and gorge herself on ice cream, spray cheese, and a box of glazed donuts. Wren vows to devote herself to her law career and swears off men forever, but she isn’t prepared for what being reunited with her oldest friend makes her feel…

His heart says yes, please…

Smith Connors can’t believe his eyes when Wren walks into his restaurant. He’s loved her since they were kids, when summertime found them inseparable best friends. As a boy, he’d never felt good enough for Wren. But now he’s a rising-star chef with a thriving business who knows what he wants—which means he’s not letting beautiful, brilliant Wren get away again.

Smith determines to show Wren how good they could be together, and soon neither of them can resist the heat growing between them. He’d do anything to earn her faith—and her heart, if only she could learn to trust again.

Grab Your Copy:
Kindle | Barnes and Noble | Apple Books | Kobo
Advance praise for Want Me Always:

"A heartfelt story that will make you laugh and swoon! The perfect feel-good read!" ~Laura Kaye, New York Times bestselling author

"A seaside reunion story that will have you believing that love heals heartbreak and truly transcends time." ~Christi Barth, USA Today bestselling author

Exclusive Excerpt:

He was trying to tease her. And dammit, it was working.

It wasn't fair. Wren had admitted her attraction and Smith was using it against her. It was time to turn the tables.

They put the finishing touches on the last wall, then turned to face each other.

"You've got a little paint." Smith pointed to a small white dot on her T-shirt that she already knew was there.

"Well, you've got a lot of paint." Wren swiped her still wet brush across his broad chest.

His eyelids stretched wide. "Did you really just do that?"

She nodded. "Uh huh. And guess what? I'm going to do it again." Wren swung the brush in the opposite direction, drawing a giant white X across his black T-shirt.

Smith's jaw dropped as he stared at his chest. "This is one of my favorite shirts."

Oops. That might have been a mistake. Nervous laughter bubbled up her throat. "Sorry?"

He lifted his head to meet her gaze. "Oh, it's on now." With a devilish glint in his eyes, he bent and scooped a handful of paint from the tray, then hurled it at her. It splattered her T-shirt and leggings.

"Aaah!" Wren squealed, then ran across the tarp and ducked behind the covered furniture in the center of the room.

"You think you can hide from me?" Smith laughed as he stalked toward her.

"Um...maybe?" she giggled, crouched behind the dresser.

He loomed over her, his hand filled with another pool of white paint. "Uh uh. You started this war, you've got to fight in it."

Wren stood, wearing her best sweet-and-innocent smile, the one she used when facing a particularly harsh judge in court.

"Truce?" she asked, her right hand tucked behind her back.

His lids narrowed. "Give me one reason why I shouldn't dump this on your head?"

"Because it would be really hard to wash out."

Smith exhaled. "That's fair." He slapped the paint on the tarp, then wiped his hand on the only dry spot left on his T-shirt.

Shaking her head, Wren clucked her tongue. "It isn't smart to disarm yourself before your opponent does." Rising on tiptoes, she pulled out the paintbrush she'd kept hidden behind her back and wiped it across his forehead.

Surprise flashed in his eyes. "You fight dirty."

She shrugged. "I am a lawyer."

"I'll show you dirty." In one smooth movement, Smith hoisted her up in his arms, and deposited her on the dresser top. Spreading her knees wide, he wedged himself between her legs and leaned in so far, she was nearly lying flat, propped on her elbows. A mischievous smile played on his lips. "That wasn't very nice."

"But it was funny."

Smith's eyes sparkled. "True, but you still deserve to be punished. What should your punishment be?" His hard length pressed against her. It was hot and hard and made her insides coil with need.

Wren swallowed. "It's never a good idea to ask the accused to set their own punishment. They always go too light. I'll leave it to you to decide."

Kiss me. Hard and rough. Then rip off my clothes and do whatever you want.

"Hmm, what do you deserve?" His gaze bore into her.

Her breath raged as electric energy sparked between them.

Smith's own fierce desire was written on his face. So what was he waiting for? All he had to do was dip his mouth to hers, then do all the things he'd promised last night.

Finally, his lips curled at the ends. "I've got it. But you're not going to like it."

Wren smirked. "Try me."

About the Author:

Lea Nolan is a USA Today bestselling author who writes smart, witty contemporary stories filled with head-swooning, heart-throbbing, sweep-you-off-your-feet romance. She also pens books for young adults featuring bright heroines, crazy-hot heroes, diabolical plot twists, plus a dose of magic, a draft of romance, and a sprinkle of history.

Born and raised on Long Island, New York, she loves the water far too much to live inland. With her heroically supportive husband and three brilliant children, she resides in Maryland where she cracks crabs and bakes ugly birthday cakes.

Connect with Lea Nolan:
Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Newsletter

Enter Lea’s Giveaway:

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Monday, April 20, 2020

A Case for the Yarn Maker Book Tour: Giveaway for a $50 Amazon Gift Card

A Case For the Yarn Maker 
Ainsley McGregor Book 2 
by Candace Havens 
Genre: Cozy Mystery 

Spin a yarn…at your own risk.

Everyone at Bless Your Art in Sweet River, Texas, is excited about the Yarn Goddess (yes, that’s her real name) coming to town. Ainsley McGregor has set up a special event at the local community center, but when old Mrs. Whedon doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the Goddess about using quality yarn, a fight breaks out. Who knew the octogenarian had ninja moves like that?

It’s all fun and games until George Clooney, Ainsley’s Great Dane, finds Ms. Yarn’s dead body in a booth at Bless Your Art. Now the prime suspect is Mrs. Whedon, and while she’s not the easiest woman to get along with, there’s no way she’s the killer. At least, Ainsley doesn’t think so. As this yarn unravels, Ainsley and her quirky friends learn some interesting things about the case and the Goddess’s checkered past. But there’s a killer on the loose, and George may be the only thing protecting Ainsley from certain death. 

Read an Excerpt:

Thirty minutes later, loud voices from the back of the store had George sitting up from his nap.

Mike’s face was priceless. His eyes wide, and his eyebrows nearly disappearing into his hairline.

“Let me guess,” I whispered as he neared the counter. “She’s here.”

“Um. Yep. And she’s not happy,” he said. “Something about the peonies not being large enough and it’s messing up her fengshoo shoo something for the signing.”

The woman was impossible. Who needed fĂȘngshui for a book signing? She couldn’t cancel the signing this late. All of those poor people were standing in line to see the woman. Surely, she wouldn’t disappoint them.

I guessed this is what Hilary meant about her having a bad day.

I grabbed a sip of water to push down the knot of terror in my throat. We’d bought several hundred copies of her books, and they were nonreturnable. I’d be out all of that money.

“I guess, I should say hello,” I croaked.

George followed me to the middle of the store where several of the booth owners worked to move things around.

Yarn Goddess, who was at least sixty but thanks to a great plastic surgeon, could pass for forty, wore a Chanel suit with pearls. Her dark hair had been styled into a chignon, giving the appearance of an elegant woman one might see shopping on Fifth Avenue in New York.

I’d watched her videos and she seemed so friendly on camera. But nothing could be further from the truth.

“I don’t want my fans to see any other yarn than my own,” she shrieked. “Do you have morons running this place? Why would you try to take away from my business when I’m doing you a favor?”

Maybe, I’d just go back to the checkout counter.

Sensing the tension, George barked.

“Ahhhhhhhh!” Yarn Goddess screamed. “What is that beast doing in here? It’s contaminating my yarn.”

“Hello,” I said, forcing my voice to stay calm. No one called George a beast, except me. “I’m Ainsley, the owner of Bless Your Art. I wanted to thank you for being here,” I said. “We’re very honored to have you.”

Her eyebrow lifted, not too high, as I’m sure there was a bunch of Botox keeping her from having many facial expressions.

I reached out a hand to shake, but she just stared at it.

“Why is your nose red? Do you have a cold?” She grabbed one of her wipes. “Did you touch anything in here? What is it with this place? Animals and sick people. Hilary,” she shrieked as she waved toward me and George, “take care of this. Now. Or I’m leaving.”

Nerves boiled deep in my belly.

“I’ll take George for a walk,” Mike said.

I took a deep breath. “Can you see if maybe Jake can watch him for me? Just until the signing and classes are over?”

Jake was the fire chief and a great friend. His place out in the country was next to mine, and he loved George.

“Got it,” he said.

Hilary guided me back to the front of the store. “I’m so sorry. I know I keep saying that,” she said. “I’d like to say she’s just nervous. This is her first time in public since her -- um, procedures. She’s worried people will think she had work done, even though she did.”

I bit my lip to keep from laughing.

A Case for the Winemaker 
Ainsley McGregor Book 1 

The closer she gets to the truth, the more she finds herself drowning in trouble.

It’s an exciting time in Sweet River, Texas, and the whole town's talking. Maybe, a little too much. Former English professor Ainsley McGregor has gambled everything on her new business: Bless Your Art, an artisan market where local artists sell their wares and teach classes.

The bright, white space is filled to the brim with colorful art, yarn, jewelry, pet treats, antiques and even a few medieval weapons. Oh, and there are wine tastings. Everything's better with wine. Ainsley is surprised by how well things are going–right up until the moment her Great Dane finds a dead body. With her friend accused of the murder, it’s up to Ainsley to find the real killer.

As the suspect list grows longer, Ainsley has her work cut out for her. The task is made more difficult by the fact her brother, the sheriff, doesn’t seem to want her help. If she doesn’t wrap up the case soon, she might be the next wine, um, one to die. 

Read an Excerpt:

He told me not to say anything to anyone until he came back for me. The cup rattled as my hands shook again. A bone-chilling cold that no amount of heat would warm had settled in me. But I was alert and focused on everything going on around me. No way was I going to be the victim of another crime and leave justice and investigation to those not involved.

Plus, I’d worked too hard on the grand opening of Bless Your Art and I refused to let everyone down. I needed to figure out exactly what was going on.

The man Michael had been arguing with earlier in the day was dead in the park, part of his head bashed in, and his eyes staring straight ahead.

That image would be burned into my brain for the rest of my life.

No one deserved to go like that. Not even this guy with his jerky attitude and bullying tactics.

“Can I get you anything else?” Maria asked. She’d been down the street at the grocery with her daughter Samantha when they’d seen all the flashing lights. “Tell me what I can do.”

I shook my head. There was a dead body. I wouldn’t get in the way of my brother’s investigation by gossiping about what I’d seen. Besides, talking wasn’t something I could even do at the moment.

My mind whirled with questions. Who else did that guy make so mad they wanted to kill him? Was it random? Was there some crazy in town who could possibly endanger all the people I’d come to love over the last year? I couldn’t stand the thought of all my friends in mortal danger.

“Girl, I can’t believe this happened. The last murder was nearly forty years ago,” Maria said.

“Mom,” Samantha murmured, “I’m worried about Ms. McGregor. She’s just staring straight ahead, and she hasn’t blinked in a really long time.” Samantha was a freshman at the high school, a book nerd and as kindhearted as her mother.

“She’s in shock,” Maria said from beside me. “Maybe we should call a doctor or take her to the hospital.”

Ugh. Hospitals were awful places, at least for me. The last time I’d been in one was Chicago. I’d woken up there alone and scared after the mugger had hit me so hard with his gun, I had a concussion.

I shook my head. I needed to at least appear normal. I forced myself to blink.

George, who had been leaning into me while I sat in the chair, put his head in my lap and sighed -- a deep, comforting sound out of his big barrel chest.

“Good dog,” I said with a shaky voice. I cleared my throat. “I’m fine. I -- my brother asked me not to say anything until he has a chance to talk to me.”

Bestselling author Candace Havens has published more than 25 books. Her novels have received nominations for the RITA's, Holt Medallion, Write Touch Reader Awards and National Readers Choice Awards. She is a Barbara Wilson Award winner. She is the author of the biography, Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy, and a contributor to several anthologies. She is also one of the nation's leading entertainment journalists and has interviewed countless celebrities from George Clooney to Chris Pratt. Candace also runs a free online writing workshop for more than 2000 writers and teaches comprehensive writing classes. She does film reviews with Hawkeye in the Morning on 96.3 KSCS and is a former President of the Television Critics Association. 

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