Thursday, October 31, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Prepare, For NaNoWriMo is Coming…

The Write Way Café welcomes Jami Gray to remind us to pencil-up, November is National Novel Writing Month.

Did you see that blur? Were you able to make out the bits of green of Spring? Or the shimmery waves of heat of Summer?  Did you miss the burnished coppers of the impending Fall?  I sure did and not just because Arizona doesn’t understand the concept of Fall.  As a matter of fact, when I bothered to poke my head up lately, do you know what was staring back at me?

The impending month-long battle of writer versus blank page, also known as National November Writing Month.

It goes by many names—NaNo or NaNoWriMo or Wordsmith Hell—but no matter what it’s called, don’t mistake it for anything other than the opening skirmish in one of the toughest battles you’ll face.

As I write this post, I can hear the two college males tormenting each other with battle cries of “This is Sparta!” and “It’s just a flesh wound.” as they face off in their Cave of World Domination in my modest homestead. 

I find both very apropos so I shall steal their hard-earned wisdom and share it with you as you begin this intimidating journey into NaNo.

(Bear with me because I’m going to channel a few classics here…)

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write 50,000 words in thirty days. This means a minimum of 1666 words every damn day for the entire month of pre-Christmas shopping and stuffed turkey family gatherings of November. (I could set it up like a math problem, but then I’d start to cry and walk away.)

Remember, this is a challenge, something you’re going to have to suffer work through, to achieve, otherwise how will you garner the lovely glow of accomplishment by battle’s end, instead of preparing for a padded room and a white suit with buckles? Granted, the second option may be looked upon with more favor as November 30 creeps closer on your horizon.

For writers who have mastered the secret of super-gluing their butts to the chair and their fingers to the keyboard for the other 335 days of the year, they may gaze out of the window perched above their holiest of holies, wearing a beatific smile as they wave to the churning mass of insanity boiling below. All because November is just another month in their collection of months as they birth their brilliance, year by year.

For the rest, you’re just gluttons for punishment. Not that I have a leg, or foot, or toes, to stand on, since I’ve done my time in the NaNo arenas. Granted, I haven’t always emerged victorious.

Let’s review my erratic history with the gods of NaNo shall we?

Year one my grand total was 18,480, which you won’t see on my profile because well, I messed up my author profile and it got deleted. (It was an accident, I swear!)

Year two I hit the 50K goal with 50,870 and most of those words are still part SHADOW’S MOON, but trust me, the original composition was very different than the final product.

Year three was a doozy as I was in serious recovery from a horrendous October when NaNo took the field, so I had to beg off.

Year four I rejoined the ranks of Word Warriors and got 38,944 towards eminent victory by dragging SHADOW’S CURSE along for the battle.

Year five I came back with a vengeance and kicked butt with 56,921 while MARKED BY OBSESSION fearlessly fought off the pesky imps of procrastination.

Year six I retook the field with grim determination and dominated at 60,510 while SHADOW’S DREAM hunkered down and sharpened my weapons.

I decided to retire from the field the following year as my word carnage count was built throughout the year to ensure the dreaded Business Plan did not come back with demands of forfeiture and my Muse decided she needed a vacation. Which seems to be the same cycle occurring this year.

So while, I’ll cheer you all on from the sidelines, I encourage those who are looking for that swift kick in the keister to carve the habit of a daily word count bone deep to take up the pen and craft your own battle cry. May I share a few enduring words of wisdom for consideration, so on November 30th, your celebratory dinner doesn’t turn into the Red Wedding scene from Game of Thrones.

Do not mount your trusty steed without making sure you have your armor, weapon and sacrificial page…planning is the key to winning the war.  Make sure you know which characters will be accompanying you on this journey and why they’re here in the first place.

Once engaged in the battle, do not look back! Not that you’ll turn into a pillar of salt but if you dare to glance behind you, I promise the big, sneaky guy on the black horse will wallop you upside your helmeted head and leave a dent.  Remember, the purpose of this particular battle is bring forth the words. Write them, don’t worry about how tense they are (there will be time to relax them later) or how they lose track of their spots. Get them down and keep going.

There will be days, hours, nay minutes where you will be besieged by warty little gnomes of doubt. Ignore them. They’re just insecure and in need of OxyClear. If they manage to snare you in their tangled skeins of mischief and keep you from your pen, come at them from a different direction—use one of your other characters to set the scene or sound the warning. Switch your voice, it will confuse them because again, warty little gnomes of doubt do not deal well with change.

Then write some more.

When the battle is complete, remember, it is a small, but necessary part of the war.  If, by the end of November, you have 50,000 sparkly new minions, I salute you, but you are not yet done.  If your minions are less because you lost some to the dreaded turkey feast and Christmas shopping, fear not, you too, are not finished.

This is a battle, not the war. Take a day, maybe a week, but not more than a month, to celebrate the win of getting your pieces into play. When you come back, revisit your strategy, embellish, kill a few unnecessary characters, bring others into the spotlight…

Add to your word tally.
Set it aside.
Come back.

Now that you have won the Crown of Pages, you are ready to take on the Quest of the Writer.

I bow before you and wish you Godspeed.
May the Muse be with you!

Jami Gray is the coffee addicted, music junkie, Queen Nerd of her personal Geek Squad, Alpha Mom of the Fur Minxes, and award-winning author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams, and her latest Romantic Suspense series, Fate’s Vultures. She writes to soothe the voices in her head. 

If you want to hunt her down, she can be found lurking around the following cyber locations:

Website        Amazon Author Page         Facebook  

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Tuesday, October 29, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Discovering New Authors

We all have our favorite authors. You know, the ones whose books we clamor for and buy at the first available opportunity. The ones whose books we buy without a second thought because (insert favorite author name here) wrote them.  Darn, those books are good – and hard to put down! But in your reading adventures, don’t forget to discover new-to-you authors, too!

The Write Way Café has introduced me to many talented authors, most of whom I would not have discovered through my normal channels. I’ve been intrigued by their blurbs and excerpts, and entertained by their interviews. I’ve followed them on social media and visited their websites and blogs, eager to learn more. I’ve purchased and read some of their books – and added them to my ever expanding list of favorite authors!

If you’re not used to reading outside your usual genre, you can still find new authors to read. Your favorite authors probably share books they enjoy reading, or books written by their friends. Follow social media for various publishers and you’ll be exposed to new authors there. And don’t forget to connect with other readers, either in person or on social media, who often share their favorite reads.

If you’re a romance reader, I urge you to check out the Common Elements Romance Project. Over seventy romance authors have come together to write stories that have just five things in common:
  • a lightning storm
  • lost keys
  • a haunted house (really haunted or rumored to be)
  • a stack of thick books
  • a person named Max
Books in this project will be published between October 2019 and January 2020. The books do not have the same “world” and they are not connected to each other. Book lengths vary, as do romance sub-genres and heat levels, so there’s something for everyone! Each month, there will be a drawing, and the winner will select a free eBook from the Common Elements books releasing that month. Check out the Common Elements Romance Project website to learn more.

I’d love to hear how you discover new-to-you authors. Please share!

HiDee Ekstrom never goes anywhere without a book or a pen and paper. Reading, writing, and chocolate are important elements of her daily life that inspire her to write. She also finds inspiration in and enjoys photography, scrapbooking, camping, hiking, and spending time with her family. Writing as Lainee Cole, two of her short-stories have been self-published in anthologies: Captured by Christmas and At Midnight. Follow Lainee at Facebook Author PageFacebook Author Profile Page, and on Twitter.

Monday, October 28, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Monday Morsel: The Christmas Kiss

...a taste of romance

by Augustina Van Hoven

Chapter 1
The Governess

With an effort, she focused on what Mr. Mason was saying. 

“It grieves me, Ms. O’Sullivan, to have to let you go. But I know how attached Mary is to you, and if she is ever to have a bond with her new mother, she cannot have you here acting as a distraction and a barrier. I’m prepared to give you an extra month’s salary as a severance, and a good reference. I’m sure that someone of your talent and abilities will be able to find a suitable position very quickly.” 

Anna swayed from the shock. It was the dead of winter. A suitable position was going to be hard to find. If she had to stay at a hotel or a boardinghouse, her savings and her severance pay would be gone in a few months.

Shock or not, this was her new situation. She’d faced difficult times in the past, when her own mother died and she was forced to find work to support herself. She could make it through this. 

Anna nodded at Mr. Mason. “I understand. I am sorry to be leaving, but I wish your family the best. And I appreciate your…generosity.” The words almost choked her, but it wouldn’t do to make a fuss about her situation and lose the severance he was offering.

Mr. Mason sagged as if relieved to have the conversation over without too much histrionics. Without another word, she fled the library for the little room beside the nursery that had been her home these past five years. She didn’t have much to pack, but her sorrow would add significant weight to her luggage.


True to his typical style, Mr. Mason left the next day for New York, saying he would return in one week. He left it to her to break the news to Mary. As Anna had expected, Mary was devastated. She cried for hours and refused to eat. Anna tried to console her, telling her that she was getting a real mother and, possibly in a year or two, a brother or sister. That seemed to help. 

They decided since they were going to be together for only one more week, they would set aside the schoolwork and make it a time of fun. That way, they would both have happy memories to look back on.

Anna wanted to have one of the footmen go to the forest and bring back a Christmas tree so they could decorate it, but Mrs. Burns, the head housekeeper, overruled her. She said Mr. Mason’s new wife would want to decorate the tree in her own taste and might even be bringing some personal ornaments with her. She and Mrs. Burns compromised by having a footmen chop down a very small tree that would fit on the table in Mary’s room. For two days, she and Mary made their own decorations and hung strings of popcorn, ribbons, and ornaments made of paper and cloth on the tree.

The next day they helped Agnes, the cook, in the kitchen, baking cookies and making custard pudding. They played with Mary’s dollhouse, had tea parties in the morning room, and made a formal gown for Mary’s favorite doll. 

When the last day came, the weather was clear and crisp and the snow was thick on the ground: a perfect day to play outside. They built a snowman outside the dining room window and gathered some small pine branches for Mrs. Burns to place around the house. After lunch, they climbed a large hill near the side of the house, one they’d climbed hundreds of times over the winters, dragging a sled and anticipating the thrilling ride down. The hill—smooth, steep, with a three-foot shelf midway down—sent the sled airborne for a few feet before landing back on the hill and finally slowing down as the ground flattened. The sled was a long one made to hold two people. A rope tied to the two handles gave it a minimum amount of steering.

It took them a while to haul the heavy sled up the hill. When they reached the top, they sat on a large rock and rested. 

Mary leaned up against her. “Anna, I don’t want you to leave.”

Anna gave her a hug. “I know, sweetheart. I don’t want to leave either, but your new mother is coming tomorrow and she will take care of you.”

“I want to write to you. I want to be able to tell you things. It won’t be like talking to you, but at least I won’t lose you.” Mary sniffed. 

Anna pulled a handkerchief out of her pocket and handed it to the little girl. She knew full well that Mr. Mason would never allow Mary to write. He wanted Mary and his new wife to become like mother and daughter. He was right. If Anna stayed, Mary would always come to her rather than her stepmom. 

“I’ll tell you what, I promise to answer every letter that you write.”

The wind was picking up, and it was getting colder. They finally prepared to slide downhill. Anna sat in the front so she could hold the rope and steer. Mary sat behind her, clinging to Anna’s coat, with her feet on the sled on either side of Anna’s hips. 

The sledding conditions were perfect. The snow was a four-inch layer of soft powder. The sled picked up speed as they headed down the steep incline. Everything was going well until the runners hit a rock hidden by the snow. The sled lurched hard to the left, and Mary lost her grip, coming off the sled and rolling in the snow before stopping. The loss of her weight made the sled go even faster. Anna was afraid to let go and roll off in case there were more hidden rocks. 

The sled hit the shelf and flew through the air higher and faster than Anna had ever traveled before. She was frightened and clung to the steering rope. 

The air in front of her seemed to shimmer. Her gloves slipped off the rope, and before she realized it, she and the sled parted company. She fell into darkness.

Want to read more?

by Augustina Van Hoven
What happens under the mistletoe…

When a sledding accident catapults governess Annabelle O’Sullivan ninety-four years into the future, she panics. She doesn’t know how to get back to 1925, and she doesn’t know how to survive in the twenty-first century. Annabelle must depend on the kindness of a stranger and his daughter, and she repays that kindness the only way she knows how: by making a home. The longer she stays, the less she wants to leave. But can she trust this stranger with her life?

Since the death of his wife, Daniel Wagner has shut down his heart to everyone except his daughter, Olivia. Other women—including some of his employees at the ski lodge he manages—have angled for his attention. But Daniel found avoidance easy, until he was forced to rescue an unconscious woman lying in a snowdrift by the side of the road. Although the stranger seems to have no past, Daniel soon finds himself thinking about a present—and a future—with her.  

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Friday, October 25, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe
When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. 
- Kurt Vonnegut
Thursday, October 24, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Meet Kaylie Newell

The Write Way Café welcomes Kaylie Newell, who enjoys writing Hallmark movie-esque sweet romances with her blind Doberman writing partner by her side.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book?
I knew I wanted to write as far back as I can remember! My dad was a copy writer, and I thought he was the bee’s knees. And then I discovered my mom’s Harlequins, and that was it. I knew exactly what I wanted to be.

What was your path to getting Christmas at Sleigh Bell Farm written and published? What type of research did you do?
My inspiration for Christmas at Sleigh Bell Farm was the Hallmark Channel. I love Christmas movies so much, and Hallmark movies just have a certain sweet feel to them. I knew I wanted this book to echo that sweetness. The research was really fun - a lot of movie watching!

Where did the idea for Christmas at Sleigh Bell Farm come from?
I’m a podcast junkie, so I’ve always wanted to write a podcaster as a heroine. The idea blossomed from there. I wanted Rachel to hold a contest on her show, and for her to meet Lucky that way. She’s a sucker for romance and happy endings, and what better way to achieve those things than with a sexy, country boy next door?

Why did you pick the setting you did?
Marietta is where all the Elliott’s of Montana books will take place. It’s the most wonderful town, originally dreamed up by the founding authors of Tule. It’s so fun to write stories set in Marietta. It absolutely feels like a real place to me, full of flesh and blood people.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
All my characters have aspects of me or of people I know. I think when you’re inspired by real personalities or quirks, it really breathes life into your writing. Fun fact - the two donkeys in Christmas at Sleigh Bell Farm are named after our neighbors, Dave and Betsy. ;) I’m not sure how they’d feel about that, but I just love those names together. True love!

Did you face any blocks while writing Christmas at Sleigh Bell Farm, and if so, how did you handle them?
It’s always hardest when I get to the middle of a book. It was the same with this one. Sometimes I worry the story isn’t flowing, but the best thing to do is keep plowing forward, taking it day by day, and fix it during revisions!

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing Christmas at Sleigh Bell Farm and after?
Lucky, my hero, turned out to be much sweeter than I had originally seen him. I thought he was going to be a little hardened by life, but he’s actually very tender. I love that about him.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about family farms, the sleigh ride business, and podcasters?
I learned through my research how hard it is to keep a farm running, especially when there are so many animals to feed and keep healthy (yikes!). I learned about animal sanctuaries, and non-profits, and what it takes to run an operation like that. I also learned a lot about donkeys and their personalities, and that someday I want one. I haven’t broken this news to my husband yet.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
Trying to stay focused. There are so many distractions. It’s a daily struggle to turn those off and stay immersed in the story.

What are you working on now?
My next Elliott’s of Montana book! This one is about a bull rider who’s scared of nothing, and a funeral home director who’s scared of everything. An opposites attract story that I’m really loving so far. It’s called Buck Wild, and it’ll be out in April.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
I’m a very mobile writer. In the summers I usually like to write outside on our back porch. In the winters, on the couch underneath a blanket. My dog (a blind Doberman named Orion) is my writing buddy. He’s always right by my side helping me get the words down.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why?
I’ve written light paranormal in the past, and some romantic suspense. That’s always fun. I’m also thinking about trying a cozy mystery. I’m a huge Murder, She Wrote fan!

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
That’s a tough one. Writing is truly my dream job. But if I had to pick something else, maybe I’d be an editor. That’s not too far removed. 😊

by Kaylie Newell
It’s going to take more than luck to make his Christmas dreams come true.

Jim “Lucky” Elliott is the country boy next door – charismatic, handsome and charming. But when he has to drop out of vet school to try and rescue his grandparents’ Marietta-based sleigh ride business and family farm, Lucky faces his hardest struggle yet.

Podcaster Rachel O’Rourke is done with broken hearts, but she can still find joy in other people’s happily-ever-afters. When she holds a contest on her show for the best first kiss story, her bruised heart beats a little faster when she reads Lucky’s submission. He doesn’t have a story, but his grandparents do, and free advertising for the winner is just what he’s looking for.

As they start spending time on the farm, Rachel finds herself not only drawn to the sweet setting, but also to the man. But when a real estate developer sets his sights on the Elliott land, Lucky will have to decide if the money means security for his family, or if he’ll fight for Sleigh Bell with Rachel by his side.

Amazon         Barnes & Noble        Apple Books        Kobo

Google Play       Amazon UK

Kaylie Newell was born in the great state of Oregon, where she was raised alongside rivers and lakes and scruffy dogs that chased their tennis balls as far as Kaylie’s noodle arms could throw. As she grew, so did her imagination, and it didn’t take long to realize she was a romantic at heart. She began to fancy herself the future wife of a cowboy, the likes of which graced every paperback novel she could get her hands on. She decided to go to college in Oklahoma to snag herself one, but irony won over when she fell in love with a hippie in sheep’s clothing instead. Together, they came back to Oregon, started a family and watched their dreams unfold. Kaylie wrote her first book when her girls were toddlers, editing sex scenes with The Wiggles on in the background. She’s proud of many things in life, among them the fact that she can still recite her lines from Romeo and Juliet from her seventh grade play, the fact that she can set a grilled cheese sandwich on fire faster than most people can make one, but mostly she’s proud of the stories blossoming inside her noggin on a daily basis.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Tuesday Special: Just Jenny


Readers' Choice Award Winner

by Sandra Owen
Jenny Nance has a plan--save enough money to tour the world. The desire to traipse the globe is a dream she once shared with her twin sister. Jenny made a deathbed promise to her sister that she would go to all the places they had fantasized visiting together. Nothing will entice her to break her vow to Natalie, not even the sexy new Blue Ridge Valley police chief . . . No matter how attracted she is to him.

Dylan Conrad left the Chicago Police Department to accept the position as Chief of Police in Blue Ridge Valley. Burned out and haunted by a tragedy of his own, he needs to get away from the memories tormenting him. He's hoping to find peace in the small mountain town, but the quirky residents, an infamous moonshiner, an errant prized bull, and a feisty redhead by the name of Jenny weren't quite what he had in mind.


A bestselling, award winning author, Sandra Owens lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Her family and friends often question her sanity, but have ceased being surprised by what she might get up to next. She’s jumped out of a plane, flown in an aerobatic plane while the pilot performed death-defying stunts, has flown Air Combat (two fighter planes dogfighting, pretending to shoot at each other with laser guns), and rode a Harley motorcycle for years. She regrets nothing.

A member of Romance Writers of America's Honor Roll, Sandra is a 2013 Golden Heart® Finalist for her contemporary romance, CRAZY FOR HER. In addition to her contemporary romantic suspense novels, she writes Regency stories.

Amazon Author Page   

Sandra’s Rowdies (Reader Group)

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Monday, October 21, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Monday Morsels: When Jack Trumps Ace

...a taste of romance

by Debbie De Louise

I was used to living on the edge and had to admit I enjoyed it as much as my father had. He’d taught me all his tricks. Jack Riordan, or Jack of Diamonds as he called himself, was one of the most infamous jewel thieves in the Midwest. My mother appreciated all the luxuries his heists allowed her, but she didn’t have a clue he was the masked burglar who broke into homes and left his calling card on rich women’s jewelry armoires. The card—the Jack of Diamonds—of course. He had decks printed up with just that card. It was lucky, he said, but his luck ran out when he was caught stealing Widow Pendington’s diamond necklace the night she returned home early from the opera with her escort, a retired security guard skilled in jujitsu.

Mother didn’t fancy being married to a criminal, so she sent divorce papers to Dad’s jail cell. When he got out a single man, he begged her forgiveness and promised to turn over a new leaf. She spat in his face. She’d already found another man, one who earned his money legitimately. Dad’s only consolation was that, at eighteen, I was legally able to choose the parent with whom I wanted to live, and I chose him.

For three years, we worked together stealing jewels because Dad couldn’t kick the habit. He taught me to be his lookout and then how to crack combination safes. I became quite adept at this, and my father was proud of the skills I developed. Then came the night we broke into the home of the wealthy Carlton couple. They were dining at a fancy restaurant in Chicago. I disabled the alarm but wasn’t aware they had a backup. When Dad entered the house, the silent signal was sent to the police. When I saw the squad car pull up, I tried to alert Dad with our emergency sign, a low whistle he’d also taught me. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get out in time. I hid in the shadows and watched. In the scuffle, a shot rang out. I heard the police call on their phones to send help; the suspect was down. Before the ambulance arrived, I ran away. I knew I couldn’t help my father, and he’d always told me to get away if I could and not think about him. It wasn’t easy to do, but I realized it was my only option.

Heading back to our small apartment in a Chicago suburb, I followed Dad’s contingency plan if one of us was ever caught. I quickly packed a bag with a minimum of necessities and headed to the address of the man my father called, “The Ace.” He said they’d met in prison and forged a strong bond. The “Ace” was like the son he never had. He was also a jewel thief.

I couldn’t take the chance of using my car even though it had been parked several blocks from the crime scene. Instead, I caught a bus uptown and walked the remaining ten blocks to Ace’s place in an upper-scale section of Chicago. It was strange feeling fearful as I walked the dark streets, but I wasn’t afraid of an attacker; I was afraid of the cops. How could Ace live in this area with all the surveillance? I recognized an undercover patrol car and kept to the shadows. When I finally arrived at the brownstone and tapped the button that read, “Andrew Miller,” Ace’s real name or possible alias, I was buzzed into the dimly lit corridor. A man stood in the door of 2B. Ace and I had never met, although I’d heard many one-sided conversations between him and my father when they spoke regularly on the burner phones Dad collected.

Ace looked younger than I imagined, shorter, but handsomer. He didn’t look at all like a thief. His hair was reddish brown. It was slightly curly but well-trimmed and neatly nestled against his pear-shaped ears. He sported a thin moustache, and his eyes were a cross between blue and green shaded with the longest eyelashes I’d ever seen on a man. His lips were thin but sensual. I had an urge to kiss them, but I just stood there speechless.

“Jackie,” he said, and his husky voice made me swoon. I had no idea how he knew who I was because I’d arrived uninvited, but then I realized Dad must’ve shown him my photo.

“Ace, I mean, Mr. Miller, I’m sorry to drop in on you like this, but my father’s in trouble.”

Those beautiful aquamarine eyes clouded. “Come in, please. I’ll try to help if I can.”

As I entered the apartment, I saw a brown tail disappear under Ace’s red leather sofa.

“There goes Roxie. She’s a bit shy. Have a seat, Jackie. Would you like something to drink?”

Roxie? I didn’t know a jewel thief would have a pet. As I collapsed on to the sofa, I felt a sneeze coming on and reached for a tissue from my travel bag. I was highly allergic to animals, particularly cats.

Ace brought over two wine glasses and poured some sherry into each. “You definitely look like you could use a drink. Have you been crying?”

I wiped my eyes with the tissue from my bag. “No. It’s your cat. I’m sorry, but I’m allergic.”

“Really? That’s a shame. Cats are wonderful pets. Let me get her and put her in the other room.” He reached under the couch and pulled Roxie out. Up close, I could see she was a beautiful creature. She had sable paws and a cream body. Around her neck, she wore a blue collar that matched her eyes. The collar was studded with diamonds.

“What a pretty cat. She’s a Siamese, isn’t she?”

Ace nodded. He held the cat firmly in his arms. “Notice her collar. I got those rocks especially for her from a rich lady’s wrist.”

I now realized the sapphire and diamonds were a bracelet. I recalled my dad saying that Ace specialized in diamond heists.

Want to read more?

Jackie Riordan's in trouble . . .
When her jewel-thief father is caught in the middle of a heist, Jackie makes her getaway to his ex-jail pal’s apartment. A man called Ace, who lives in an upscale neighborhood of Chicago. What she doesn't count on is falling in love with him and becoming his partner in crime. She also doesn't expect to compete with Ace’s old flame or deal with his cat Roxie who causes her allergy attacks.

All bets are off . . .
by Debbie De LouiseAfter Jackie discovers clues left by her father which lead her to a treasure that Ace may have stolen, she contemplates her next move. Should she trust Ace and believe her father gave him the money, or head home to her mother, a religious hypocrite who would have no qualms about ratting out her own daughter to the cops?

Things that sparkle aren't always Diamonds . . .
Before Jackie can decide who the good guys really are, she finds herself atop the Willis Tower carrying her father's ashes in her pocket and aiding Ace in the largest jewelry heist of his life. Things go terribly wrong, and Jackie's only choice seems to be to walk away from Ace or face imprisonment.

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📚  Find Debbie De Louise here:   

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Friday, October 18, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
- Maya Angelou
Thursday, October 17, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Mysteries With a Financial Twist!

The Write Way Café welcomes Cathy Perkins, who combines money with mystery in creating her Holly Price Mystery series.

Tell us a little about your Holly Price Mystery series.
     The series features an accountant. I know, I know. Some people don’t like math or taxes or any of the things she deals with. One of my favorite reviews starts, wow, this story is about an accountant – and it’s not boring!
     On that optimistic note, let me give you a bit of background for the series: Holly Price never expected to be back in Richland, Washington. She bolted out of the small town in eastern Washington for college—with no intention of returning. She also never expected her father to have a mid-life brain-fart and run off with his yoga instructor. His defection stranded Holly’s mother both personally and professionally. Without Holly’s CPA license, her mother would have to close the family accounting practice.
     Now Holly has all kinds of choices to make—should she stay in Richland and run the family business, which to her astonishment she finds she enjoys, or head back to Seattle and her high-flying position with Falcon, managing multi-million dollars deals? Then there’s the issue of JC Dimitrak, former fiancé and Franklin County detective who doesn’t want to be so former. Her family and clients end up embroiled in crimes where her forensic skills (and general nosiness) leave her scrambling to unravel the clues.
     And of course, there is the llama. And the pig.

What was your path to getting So About The Money written and published? What type of research did you do?
    So About the Money started as a riff on the adage, Write what you know. I’d written several dark suspense novels and wanted something lighter. Holly grabbed hold of me and said, Let’s go for a ride!
     While a traditional publisher reached out and asked for the novel to launch their new mystery line, unfortunately they decided right after releasing the first few novels to pull the plug on the imprint. But their decision worked well for me! I enjoy the freedom that comes with independent publishing and being a hybrid author (both independent and traditional) lets me have the best of both worlds. After receiving the rights back for So About the Money, I went on to write several Holly and JC novels, as well as novellas that feature other characters in the series.
     I didn’t do much research for the first story in the series. It draws on both my day job experience and the area I lived (when I wrote So About the Money). Subsequent novels took more research and I’m hugely grateful for a network of friends and friends of friends who answered my questions about everything from cars to guns to supply chain management.

Where did the idea for So About The Money come from?
     Sometimes a daydream offers a story start, but ideas and inspiration can show up in the strangest places. My husband and I were hiking along the Snake River in a game management area called Big Flats (which happens to feature in So About The Money, the first book in the Holly Price Mystery series). We had to push through some tangled foliage at the shoreline. Being a mystery writer, whose mind really can go strange places, I glanced over my shoulder and said, “Wouldn't this be a great place to find a body?”
     That germ of an idea kept growing. Why would the heroine be at Big Flats to stumble over the body? How did the body end up beside the river in the first place? And, of course, who would want her dead?

What is a forensic accountant?
     While all forensic accountants “follow the money” to dig into a company or individual’s finances, some prepare their results for legal battles. I head in the other direction and dig into the sometimes hidden dangers behind a planned company transaction. So, my branch of forensic accountants looks for fraud and other crimes, which of course is fertile ground for a mystery novel.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
     I picked the setting for the series for a couple of reasons. I live close to Seattle now. Before we moved to our current home, we transferred to Washington (well, actually we transferred to a small town in eastern Washington) from South Carolina. At the time, when people heard about our planned move, everyone said, “I love Seattle.”
     Because clearly Seattle is the only thing in Washington, right?
     We love Seattle too. But there’s the whole rest of the state. Eastern Washington is the complete opposite to Seattle. It’s conservative, sunny and dry, and home to fabulous vineyards and wineries. There’s access to tons of outdoor recreation…and a dearth of restaurants.
     As an author, I often see conversations, characters and settings in terms of story potential. Once we settled into eastern Washington, I knew I had to write a story set there. A story about a woman who had to come home, not as a failure with nowhere else to go, but as a woman who loved her nutty parents and put her ambitions on hold to bail out the family and their business.
     Besides, I could have fun with the wineries, Native American casinos…and assorted farm animals.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the series?
     There have been so many surprises! The ideas for the external plots always come as a surprise. For example, In It For The Money features rockcrawlers. I know, say what? At a party, a friend’s nephew regaled me with (way too many) details of the specialized monster truck he wanted to design and build. While those details went completely over my head, I couldn’t help but relate to his passion for the project. And my writer’s brain went, Hmm… Rockcrawlers…That’s different. What can I do with that?
     The twists and turns in Holly’s relationships with her parents seem to unfold as the stories do. And who would have expected Max, the yoga-instructor-homewrecker’s son, would turn into a good friend during Calling for the Money?

What or who has been instrumental in or to your writing journey?
     There are so many! Where to start…
     While I’ve had a life-long love affair with reading, I didn’t start writing until a few years ago. This probably isn’t how most people start, but I had a long-term consulting job in a city about 90 miles from my home. I’d listen to music and daydream during the commute. Pretty soon, the daydream developed dialogue, characters and a setting, and I thought, hmm, this is turning into a good story. That particular book lives in a box under the bed, but I was hooked on writing, creating worlds and characters.
     Once I screwed up my courage and showed friends my first story, they encouraged me to continue writing. I heard about a week-long writing retreat sponsored by the RWA Lowcountry chapter. I learned so much at their Masterclass, I joined a critique group when I returned home, hoping to learn more. Other writers encouraged me to join RWA and enter a few contests, including the Golden Heart. The Professor won those contests and was a Golden Heart finalist. I kept writing and learning and more of my books were published. Definitely a “dream” come true.

What are you working on now?
     I’m working on several things right now. I’m nearly finished with Calling for the Money, the next novel in the Holly Price series. Set in Los Angeles, where Holly’s working on a major transaction, she also has major decisions to make about her family and job, while helping a friend search for answers in another friend’s disappearance.
     In other news, my agent is preparing to shop the first book in a new series. The Body in the Beaver Pond won the Claymore Award from Thriller Nashville and I’m really excited about the possibilities for that amateur sleuth series. So, the second thing I’m working on is Peril in the Pony Ring, the next book in that series.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre? Which one and why?
     There is a book I’ve wanted to write for ages! It’s a more literary mystery/thriller that spans three generations of a South Carolina family. Maybe this year…

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
     That’s a harder question than I expected! I actually love the intellectual challenge of my day job. Working with so many different people and companies around the world kept it interesting.
     Playing with that dream idea, let’s go to the other end of the spectrum. When I was a kid, I really wanted to be an astronaut. Or else ride my own gold dragon and fight Thread with Anne McCaffrey’s Pern characters.

Thanks for letting me visit with you and your readers!

by Cathy Perkins
Holly Price knows how to make a deal. When her father runs off with his yoga instructor, she strikes a bargain with her mother. If Holly will leave her Seattle-based merger and acquisitions team and run the family accounting business for a year, her mother will never again mention the words "marriage" and "children" in Holly's presence. Finding her friend's body beside the Snake River isn't supposed to be part of the package.

Focused on the victim's abusive ex-husband, Detective JC Dimitrak would far rather push Holly's buttons than follow up on her suspicions about fraud in the victim's financial statements. As Holly unravels the web of interconnecting corporations, someone apparently decides CPA stands for Certified Pain-in-the- Ass. A few too many accidents later, her conspiracy theory isn't sounding quite so half-baked. And Holly's stick-her-nose- into-everything curiosity could mean she's about to lose more than a good friend.

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About Cathy: An award-winning author of financial mysteries, Cathy Perkins writes twisting dark suspense and light amateur sleuth stories. A contributing editor for International Thriller Writers' The Big Thrill, she also coordinated the prestigious Daphne du Maurier contest.
     When not writing, she does battle with the beavers over the pond height or heads out on another travel adventure. She lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Second Chances by @lcrandallwriter

weren't quite ready for the first.
To be honest, I grew up thinking my family was pretty special. I think every kid thinks that about their family until they learn otherwise.

That thought is not as sad or negative as it sounds right off. It’s just often a fact of life. In my case, I knew my parents loved me, but I learned as I grew up that my family had problems and we were hiding them well.

My experience of family exerted an influence on my early choices and it took me some time to truly become the individual I wanted to be, not just a reflection of other people’s ideas of who I should be. A common experience I believe. But life is kind if we’re paying attention, and gives us second chances at a life in which we can thrive. This is a theme in my new contemporary romance, Then There Was You.

Here’s the blurb:

Cherish Moss is well aware that most people would do anything for the life she has: accomplished attorney, daughter of a wealthy family, and hours away from her wedding day. But on the inside, she is barely breathing and no one even notices. When she leaves her fiancé at the alter she waits for the feeling of remorse…so why as she runs out of the church and down the street does she feel like she’s reclaiming her life?

Grayson Steele is hiding out having left his dream job in Chicago as an investigative reporter. After exposing police corruption, the threats on his life came fast and furious and now he has to not only protect himself but his family too. He’s not interested in a relationship. He can’t be, because he won’t put anyone in danger. But after meeting Cherish at a local bar, his longing for her is intense and it won’t go away.

The timing is all wrong for them both, but Grayson and Cherish must face the unwanted fate they helped create or follow their hearts to survive.
by Lynn Crandall

Here’s an excerpt:
Soon it all will be over.
Cherish sank into the delicious thought. No more decisions between lace or silk, salmon or pork tenderloin, Tahiti or Switzerland. Poetry or not.
Her wedding, just one day away, would make her Mrs. Devin Raye, emphatically not Moss-Raye.
Cherish slumped deeper into her chair. As with the selection of the dress with a huge bow at her waist capping a long train, she had acquiesced, and agreed to ditch her surname.
She shook off details. They weren’t important. She just needed to focus on the man she loved, right? Devin could be sharp, downright explosive at times, but he had his good points too. He could persuade anyone to do anything. He called that charm. When it came to the courtroom or what he wanted in his career trajectory, he was a gladiator. She admired that.
She chewed on her thumbnail, surveying her wedding dress. It stared her down from across the room. She eyed it back. Since the bridal shop delivered the enormous concoction to her office yesterday, she’d kept her distance. The delivery person had given her a strange look and asked how she planned to get it to the church. It was a reasonable question, but Cherish knew what she was doing. She was getting used to the dress. It hung on the lip above the closet, and in its see-through garment bag, she could regard its glossy silk skirt and sleeves dotted with tiny pearls. It was stately, her mother had told her at the bridal shop. It was sophisticated and dramatic.
Cherish began sweating, remembering standing in front of her mother draped in heavy silk.
She had said, “But Mom, it’s not me. It’s too, umm…stuffy.”
“Don’t be silly, Cherish. You look elegant. The silk really sets off your copper hair. Devin will have eyes for only you when you walk down the aisle in this dress.”
End of discussion. Emma Moss was always right.
She’d learned early it just wasn’t worth the fight to stand her ground because one way or another, her mother’s way was the way. Cherish sighed, as memories wafted over her.
“Cherish, you’ll never get into law school if you don’t go the extra mile and graduate at the top of your class.”
“Don’t wait to get in your application for a summer internship with a prominent judge. Summer isn’t the time to shirk off, it’s the time to further your career. You know I only want what’s best for you.”
Her mother’s guidance didn’t have a beginning, it just always had been there, and how could she argue with her mom’s insistence? Even when it came to Devin, she supposed Emma Moss was right.
Tap, tap-tap, tap. The sound of her fingers’ staccato beat on her desk echoed in her office. Time had flown since she’d said yes to Devin’s proposal six months ago and set off a metronome that marked a steady march to the big day. And here she sat, a matter of hours from a new life.
She counted backward in her mind to ten months ago and her first date with Devin. That was the day her parents predicted she and Devin would make a good match.
She hadn’t dated in months. After back-to-back betrayals, she had plunged into her work. Then she met Devin at a lawyers’ conference when she and her parents sat at the same table as Devin during lunch. He’d given her the hard court press, and dazzled her. Her parents admired him right off and didn’t hesitate to make him a fixture in the Moss family life, inviting him for dinner at their house and expecting her to show up. Devin had charmed her parents first, then he’d aimed it at her. He charted a flight to New York City and took her to the theater. He booked a room in a fancy Chicago hotel for the weekend and they took a cruise on Lake Michigan. His dynamic personality entranced her. It was so different from hers. With his endorsement from her parents, she hadn’t put up much of a struggle to give the relationship more time.
Her mother’s words surfaced in her memory. “You’re twenty-eight, the perfect age to settle down with someone. Devin is a good catch.”
Ugh. Good catch? Really? Her mother had made it seem as though Devin was an object and she was chasing him with throngs of women down streets of the city of Dunes Bay.
Anxiety spiked in her chest. Her parents had better be right about Devin and her belonging together, because as soon as all the fanfare ended, everything about the rest of her life would actually begin. The until-death-do-we-part time.
She breathed in and out deeply and shifted in her chair. Of course, that would be the good part. Waking up in the morning beside Devin, then kissing good-bye as they went their separate ways to work, hers to her family law firm and his to Wellington, Raye, and Black Law Firm.
Oh my God.
The antacids on her desk called to her. So much for being a joyful bride-to-be. Her stomach twisted into knots on a daily basis until two weeks ago. Now, it knotted hourly. Her parents assured her pre-wedding qualms were natural, and she believed them. Yes she did. Her nervous stomach and hair-thin patience didn’t mean she was about to get lost in a life she didn’t want.
She chewed the fruity tablets that promised relief from her self-created discomfort. She was doing this dance of nerves, inexplicably. Devin was a prominent lawyer in Dunes Bay. He was smart and fun. Who wouldn’t want to marry him?

I’d love to learn about your thoughts on how second chances led you to a happy-ever-after in some form. Share?

Then There Was You is on Amazon for preorder now, and releases November 12. Learn more about the book on Pinterest, my Facebook author page, BookBub, and Goodreads, and more about me on my Website, where you can sign up for my newsletter and receive two free stories.

Monday, October 14, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Monday Morsels: The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci

...a taste of romance

by Belle Ami

It was nearly closing time, and there were few people left in the North Pavilion where pre-1700 paintings and sculptures were displayed. Natural light from the ceiling cast a warm glow, washing the precious masterpieces in a filtered luminosity. Alex Caine entered one of the gallery rooms and noticed a young woman sitting by herself. Something about her stillness drew him.

Her midnight hair, secured in a bun atop her head, and her black-framed glasses couldn’t hide her beauty. The prim accoutrements enhanced her high cheekbones and full mouth. He moved closer to get a better look at her. She was oblivious of him and showed no sign that her private sojourn had been intruded upon.

With her hands folded in her lap, the young woman sat like a statue. Her dark eyes were riveted to a painting. A portrait of a young man captured in eternal contemplation. The subject’s eyes were hidden from the viewer. Why Botticelli had chosen to paint the young man with his eyes downcast was a mystery. The youth was handsome, almost beautiful. Thick dark waves of hair framed his face. He wore a stylish red velvet tunic that distinguished him as a man of royalty or rank. However, wealth could not dispel the overwhelming sadness imbued in his face. In three-quarter profile, his finely etched brows portrayed a man of extreme sensitivity, his face and demeanor more of a poet than a man of commerce.

He recognized the painting of Giuliano Medici—he’d seen it before, in Berlin. But never had he witnessed such a visceral reaction to a painting as this young woman had. The woman was so deep in contemplation that he could have broken out in song and she wouldn’t have flinched.

He hovered for a few moments, inexplicably drawn to her serene beauty. She began to whisper as if she were speaking to the painting, but he couldn’t hear what she was saying. Peculiarly, the lights dimmed, and an encroaching darkness descended upon him and the young woman. Looking up, he noticed the skylight showed a clear, blue sky.

What the hell is going on?

A fog swirled up from the floor, forming a cloudy curtain, separating them from the other visitors to the museum, who seemed completely oblivious.

A sudden flash of light over the painting propelled Alex to protect the woman. He rushed to crouch in front of her, but she continued to stare at the painting as though in a trance.

“Are you all right?” he asked her with concern. He felt compelled to protect her, but protect her from what?

What happened next made him doubt his sanity.

Her eyes changed color, turning from dark brown to forest green. Her gaze fixated on the young man in the portrait as though he were alive and standing before her. Her expression reflected radiant, passionate, love. Intense. All consuming.

It took his breath away.

Alex’s eyes shifted back to the portrait and what he saw sent his pulse racing.

The young man in the painting came alive, turned his face, opened his eyes and stared at the young woman, his dark eyes mirroring the same intensity as hers.

Alex was stunned. Never in his life had he witnessed such intense love in just one look, let alone directed at a portrait of a young man who’d died more than five centuries ago.

He shook his head, trying to clear his vision. Any minute he expected to hear Rod Serling’s voice.

Another flash of light, like a lightning bolt, shot out from the painting toward them. Reacting on pure instinct, Alex covered the woman with his chest and arms, feeling the jolt hit him in the back. Not pain, exactly. But certainly a shock.

He pulled away from the woman, hoping she was okay. And then something remarkable happened. She looked him straight in the eyes, laid her hands on either side of his face and spoke to him.

Ti amerò per sempre.” I will love you forever.

He couldn’t take his eyes off her as she spoke.

Sei l’unico uomo che amerò mai.” You are the only man I will ever love.

Alex had lived most of his life in Europe and was fluent in Italian. He understood every word she said.

She leaned in and pressed her lips to his, provoking him to respond. Desire seized him, his fingers tangled in the silk of her hair, pulling it free from the confines of her bun. A waterfall of dark waves cascaded down her back. Their tongues danced together and for long, breathless moments, he lost himself in her kiss.

Regaining his composure, he pulled away from her luscious mouth. The woman gazed at him with the same intense love she’d directed at the painting only moments before. Her eyes, still the color of forest-green moss. He was mesmerized. A yearning flowed through him, the likes of which he’d never felt before. He wanted this woman with every fiber of his being. Shocked at his own visceral response, he let go of her and leaned back, his gaze straying to the painting of the young man. He was relieved to see the portrait had returned to “normal” and the young man’s visage was turned away once more.

The young woman turned his face back to hers. “Siamo insieme in questo,” she whispered. “Devi aiutarmi. È il nostro destino.” We are in this together. You must help me. It is our destiny.

And without another word, she got up and left, walking through the swirl of gray mist.

The gallery filled with light again, the cloud lifted and the buzz of visitors walking by filled his ears. There was nothing to indicate anything out of the ordinary had occurred.

His heart was pounding, and he got up from the floor and sat on the bench. His face felt hot and feverish. The surprise kiss had unglued him. Hell, the entire experience had unglued him. He sought to find a plausible explanation.

He hadn’t had a PTSD attack in about two years. It had taken a year of intense therapy to mitigate the effects of four deployments in Afghanistan, capped off by a compound fracture that had nearly cost him his left leg when the Humvee he was driving was blown up. He closed his eyes, breathed deeply, and focused his mind until the raging storm passed. This didn’t feel like PTSD. This was something completely different.

Inanimate objects don’t come to life. It must have been the light playing with my imagination. And the kiss? Yeah, it’s been too long… This case must be getting to me.

Want to read more?

In the spirit of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown comes a suspense thriller that unravels an unforgettable mystery  . . .The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci by Belle Ami.

by Belle AmiOne painting, three lifetimes, will her visions lead her to the truth?

Art historian Angela Renatus is haunted by dreams of Leonardo da Vinci and a mysterious painting of Giuliano Medici and his mistress Fioretta Gorini. A painting that, as far as the world knows, doesn't exist. Compelled by her visions, Angela is determined to find out the truth.

When Angela is contacted by art detective Alex Caine, she's shocked to learn that he too is seeking the same painting. Alex's client, a wealthy German financier, is determined to clear the name of his late uncle, Gerard Jaeger, an art historian, who went missing in Florence, during World War II. In letters written before his disappearance, the historian describes his love affair with a beautiful young Italian woman named Sophia Caro, and the discovery of an extraordinary painting by the great master himself—a painting depicting Giuliano and Fioretta.

Angela and art detective, Alex Caine journey to Florence in search of the priceless treasure. Is it a lost da Vinci, potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars, or a wild goose-chase that will only lead to a dead end? But someone else is searching for the elusive painting—Alberto Scordato is a powerful man in the art world and a sociopath who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, even murder. Scordato knows something about Angela that even she doesn't know, something that could threaten both Angela and Alex forcing them into the crosshairs of fate.

Amazon          Softcover          Audiobook

📚  Find Belle Ami here:  @belleami5     Website        Facebook        Bookbub