~New Release~ A Fun Beach Read by Raine English

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AMY: BEACH BRIDES SERIES

Twelve friends from the online group, Romantic Hearts Book Club, decide to finally meet in person during a destination Caribbean vacation to beautiful Enchanted Island. While of different ages and stages in life, these ladies have two things in common: 1) they are diehard romantics, and 2) they’ve been let down by love. As a wildly silly dare during her last night on the island, each heroine decides to stuff a note in a bottle addressed to her “dream hero” and cast it out to sea!

It’s been three years and Amy Sheridan has yet to hear that her bottle’s been found, reaffirming her belief that love isn’t in her cards, so when the book club decides to return to the island for a reunion, she’s reluctant to go, until a psychic informs her that she’ll meet a handsome stranger there. Will romance be in her future after all?

Dawson Yates has it all…except a wife. Being a wealthy bachelor hasn’t been a problem until a talk show host questions his single status as CEO of a popular matchmaking service. After that, board members pressure him to give up his playboy lifestyle or step down from his position. Setting up a phony engagement at Enchanted Island seems like the perfect solution, until he learns that his chosen “bride” is already married. While pondering what to do next, he discovers a message in a bottle, wedged between some rocks. Could the author of the note be the answer he’s looking for, or would she steal his heart and break it in two?

Amy: Beach Brides is available at Amazon for $2.99, or Free with Kindle Unlimited!

~*~

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USA Today bestselling author Raine English writes sweet small-town contemporary romance, along with paranormal and romantic suspense. She’s a Daphne du Maurier Award winner and a Golden Heart finalist. To receive information on all her new releases, you can sign up for her newsletter, visit her website, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

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Christmas in July

Though, it’s not still July, I thought I’d share the unedited opening chapter of my Christmas novella “Christmas in July” that will be part of our upcoming box set. Hope you enjoy it.

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July

154lbs.

Seven Daily Meditations; Thirty minutes ~ in two fifteen minute morning and evening sessions ~ of personal journaling; one mile walking with the General; no chocolate; introduction of kale to diet.

 

July in Fish Creek was where joy went to die.

Madelyn Grace was sure of it.

Madelyn grew up in the Door, as Door County, Wisconsin was known to the few locals who populated it year round. Fish Creek in the summer, July in particular, was mostly populated with tourists. Wealthy Illinoisans created a large percentage of the visitors, some of whom had second, sometimes third homes here, as well as boats. Big boats. They subsidized the economy, and they knew it. They drove up home prices, and they didn’t consider what that might mean for everyone else.

The Door was built on service and the tourists demanded and got serviced. Regularly.

Wild horses and a crate filled with colored diamonds couldn’t have gotten Madelyn to move back to Fish Creek. It took her daughter establishing a 6+9 Naturopathic Medical practice here to do the impossible. Now that she was back in a place she’d swore never to return to, her daughter no longer seemed to have the time nor the inclination to be with her.

“Stop feeling sorry for yourself and go do something productive,” Madelyn said out loud. It was far from her usual morning meditation which was supposed to help her greet the day with joy, hope and the awareness that yes, she did have the power to make her life the wonderful adventure she dreamed it could be.

Madelyn was supposed to be repeating, “In small moments great achievements are built. Success comes in compiling enough small moments.” Since it was 7:30 and all she’d collected so far was the General’s small piles of poo, Madelyn decide it was time to grab the General, stop feeling sorry for herself, and walk a mile before the tourists realized it was time to wake up.

 

 

“Hey, Drew, Maddy’s walking that rat terrier of hers again. Right on schedule. Every day since she got back two weeks ago. 7:30 time to walk. How many more weeks are you going to let her walk by without talking to her?” Sam Wittaker, Drew’s deputy, said with a grin.

Drew looked at his watch, 7:32. Maddy was two minutes later than usual, so technically, she wasn’t right on schedule. All he said to Sam was, “Time for coffee. See you in a bit.”

Sam chuckled.

Drew ignored the younger man, reached for his hat, a ball cap he’d insisted the town adopt as part of his uniform, and started walking. He knew Maddy’s route by heart and he still hadn’t approached her. Every time he saw her, his heart thudded painfully in his chest like it used to in High School when she’d walk by. Maddy loved him then. Every bit as much as he’d loved her. Drew was sure of it.

Until she ran away.

Drew still didn’t know what made her leave. He couldn’t fathom why she’d stayed away for twenty-five years. And he didn’t know what brought her back, but he was fairly certain it had something to do with the new medical clinic just outside of town aptly named, Grace Medical. Hard for a police chief worth his salt to miss that connection. Drew wondered what the tag-line, For All Your Naturopathic Needs, meant. He’d find out before he made an appointment for his as yet undiagnosed naturopathic needs, the symptoms of which he started researching online so he could go there more than once if he needed to. He had to come up with something that wasn’t too severe and couldn’t be cured by a simple, drink more green tea and call me in a month. Of course he could just stop in and say ‘hello’, introduce himself, and offer to patrol more regularly in the event the new clinic’s owner needed assistance. But that wouldn’t help him understand the subtleties of how the newest member of the Grace family earned her living.

Grace Medical’s signage also indicated in very small print, Some emergency medical service provided as needed. Drew had no idea what kind of emergency merited naturopathic care and he was in no hurry to find out. Still, it was nice to have a doctor nearby when the closest emergency center was in Sturgeon Bay, miles away with one main road in and out.

Little did Drew Selleck know how manifestly those small seven words printed on Grace Clinic’s front door would forever alter his life.

What Drew Selleck did know was that today Maddy Grace was going to talk to him. Whether or not he had to arrest her to make it happen was totally up to her.

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Want to find out what happens? Look for the AoMS Christmas Box Set this fall at your favorite ebook retailer. Now it’s back to my writing.

 

Leigh

 

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People Needing People

I wanted to say something about the terrible events in Charlottesville this weekend, but I didn’t know how. I feel like I don’t know enough. Like most of you, all of my information is filtered through the media. This is what I came up with. This is a retelling of a story, it’s not mine. And it can be widely applied.

A band of travelers  set out to cross the desert. Strangers who had nothing in common but their desire to reach a city across the sand, they each carried their own provisions. Not long after they set out, a terrible dust storm arose, darkening the sky and burying the path in silt and debris. Many turned back. Some hunkered down to wait out the storm. A few carried on. They became separated, lost. But two of the group were fortunate and stumbled upon an inn. There they found rest, shelter, food, and water while the storm raged on.

The next day, one of the travelers set out for the city alone. But the storm blew around him, and he was forced to dig a shelter. There a band of thieves found him. They took his supplies and left him without food or water.

The second traveler was also in a hurry to reach the city, but he remembered the others in the desert behind him. He worried they would run out of water and get lost, so he set out to find them. Eventually, he was able to help them to the inn. The wind still blew and clouds obscured the sun. The road still wound through the sometimes deep sand, and thieves were still in the hills. But this time the traveler was not alone. The group was large. When sand blocked the way, work parties were organized to remove it. When some faltered, the strong shouldered the burdens of the weak. When night came, there were watchmen to man the watch. After many days, the second man and his friends arrived safely at their destination.

When they arrived at the city, they gathered around the second traveler and said, “We could not have come to this place without you. What can we do to repay you?”

And the second man replied,  “I have not brought you to this place, we have brought one another.”

This reminds me of the connection between a storyteller and a reader. We often don’t know each other, and yet the storyteller is, essentially, offering to take the reader on a journey. Sometimes we may think we know the destination, but always the reader has to learn to trust the storyteller and the storyteller has to earn the trust of the reader. They need each other. 

This story can also be related to the Indie community. Or any community, family, marriage, classroom, country. People need people. It’s not enough to simply not cause harm, if we’re in a position to do so, we should also help. And not just because it’s good for the helpless–it’s also good, if not necessary, for the helper.

As Ecclesiastes tells us:

Ecclesiastes tells us: ¶ Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.

10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.

11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?

King James Version, Ecclesiastes 4:9-11

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Summertime Fun Time!

It’s a lazy August weekend with a few of our authors on vacation.

BUT!!!!

You don’t have to run away to witness one of the most fun events in our summer sky. It’s the Perseid Meteor Shower this weekend  and you don’t have to be a million miles from civilization to see it.

If the shower fell on a weeknight my husband would sleep through it, but otherwise he was right there with us. We’d make ourselves comfortable and then watch.  One year, when the shower fell on a weeknight, our girls were in their preteen-early teen years. We lived in a city.  We all went outside and I warned them to keep their voices down, because at that hour, sound seems to carry.  The girls spread out across the front of our vehicles and got comfortable.  On a  good viewing night, you can see 1 or 2 shooting stars a minute even in the city.

A police officer was patrolling through the area and stopped in front of our vehicles. He called for back up. Hmm, I’m sure a two young teens and their mom must have looked like we were about to riot  or do some other dastardly deed, and he’d  have to arrest us and a three to one ratio wasn’t exactly in his favor. Suddenly we had about 5 cars in the front of us.

I’m thinking what the heck is going on? Are they chasing a major bank robber through our quiet little neighborhood.  No. They were coming for us.  Seriously? We’re in our own yard and the girls are on our vehicles.

This story just keeps getting a little more complicated – sort of like Alice’s Restaurant. (I’m showing my age.) A little background… I had a family member who was one of the big brass in the police department. That sounds as though I should know most everyone there. Not even close. I knew a few of the people with which he closely worked, because they would show up at Christmas parties or Fourth of July picnics. One of the cars that pulled in with several others, I spotted who it was. He got out of his car, crossed his arms over his chest, and leaned against his car with his big Cheshire smile plastered on his face.  The young officer shined his bright flashlight into my eyes and starts asking questions. Aside from blinding me, I was having a difficult time keeping a straight face.

Now try to explaining why the children are draped across our cars and what we are doing around 1:30 in the morning. Fortunately he turned off the flashlight, because after being in the darkness, any light would have seemed super bright. I’m blinking and trying to decide if I’ll ever see in the dark again.

me: “We’re watching the meteor shower.”

him: “What shower?”

me: “Perseid.”

him: “It’s not raining.”

me: (snicker) “No, sir. It’s not. If it were, we couldn’t watch the Perseid Meteor Shower. There’s one!”

him: “Where?”

me: “Sir, you’ve got to be watching for them to see them. They are fast.”

him: “What’s fast?”

me: “The falling debris from the meteor.”

me: (pointing) “Don’t look there. Look in this direction!”

Now Big Bad John is laughing. My youngest has slid off her perch on her dad’s car and is standing by John. The two of them are watching the sky. (We had perfect viewing weather.) In the meantime, the young man who has confronted me, is certain that I have a few screws loose and the girls are juvenile delinquents. At this point, every cop who had stopped is standing with John who out ranks all of them, and probably was in charge of half the city’s police night shift.  (Thanks, John, for tossing me to the young wolf who apparently wasn’t paying attention in science class.)

At this point, I can no longer keep a straight face. I dissolved into giggles.  Several more officers pull in, get out of their cars, and turn in the direction of the meteor shower. Apparently my block was the only place in the city to view this fabulous sky show. (Yes, I’m joking – but I’m not sure they knew they could see it elsewhere.) My other daughter has also wandered away and is standing with John.

It was Mother Nature’s fireworks display. One of the officers who came to the party a little late was verbal. “Wow! Look at that. There’s another. How long have all ya all been watchin’ this? How long does it last?”

My oldest daughter answered him. That caused my lone young officer to realize that the girls were no longer on the cars, but had stealthily slid past him were standing with everyone else in blue. And they were all watching the meteor shower.  Fortunately as the young officer turned, he also caught sight of these shooting stars. “You weren’t kidding!”

me: “No.”

John walked over to me and put his arm around my shoulder in a friendly brotherly way.  (I guess he decided I needed to be rescued.) His youngest daughter and my girls all played together whenever they had the chance. John properly introduced me to the young officer and explained my connection to Martin. Even in the dark, I could see that young officer swallow real hard.

Then I gave him my spiel about shooting stars and how the Perseid shower passes through here every summer.  For the next two hours, I was probably the most protected mother in that city. The girls resumed their positions on our vehicles and a few of our neighbors had joined the impromptu Meet Your Local Cops block party. I went back inside, grabbed the sleeve of paper cups, filled the ice bucket, scooped up the sodas from the refrigerator and brought everything outside.

That young officer, I felt a little sorry for him, because I knew he’d get razzed by the other cops. And to cover his tracks, he tried to explain that there was a curfew on juveniles, and seeing “people” draped over vehicles was worthy of investigation because they might have been defacing  personal property. He did what he should have done, he investigated.

Oh, the girls were warned not to get on the cars if their jeans had pocket rivets. Because I would not been happy if they scratched my car, and omigosh, they would not have wanted to scratch their dad’s car!

In all fairness to our local city, not every police officer hung around that night and a few left the area only to be replaced by another.  One of them wanted to know how I knew this stuff. Was I a science teacher? Not hardly.

My father loved looking up at star clusters and telling me the names of the different ones. He was the kind of man who would wake me up and have me watch the aurora borealis or see a lunar eclipse. But on very rare occasions when a solar eclipse happened, such as the one coming up, my dad was prepared with a super thick dark glass that could be used for safe viewing. I want to say it was from some sort of special welding equipment. He had it taped in a box so that I wouldn’t drop it.

I learned lots from him. From names of flowers and trees to the various bugs, he taught me. He would have loved today’s phone apps. The one that allows me to identify just about any bird I might see, or the one that allows me to point my phone towards a star and it will give me the name, tell me where the space station is or the Hubble telescope, etc.

I’m sure if I had such a phone that fateful night, it would have been easier for me to explain the Perseid shower. That young officer was doing exactly what he should have been doing, keeping our neighborhood safe from vandals and hoodlums that would climb on someone’s car. And for that I did thank him. He just happened to stumble upon one of his commanding officer’s godchildren and their mom.

I hope everyone gets a nice clear view of the shower this weekend. Go out, get comfortable so your eyes adjust to the darkness, and look towards the north.  It’s the wee hours of Saturday morning here in Tidewater and it’s raining. I no longer live in that other city. But if it’s clear tonight (the prediction is for more rain this entire weekend), I’ll be out watching one of the fun light shows that Mother Nature provides. Doesn’t cost a penny, only a little loss of sleep, but it’s worth it. Grab the kids and explain to them what they are watching. Or spend it with your honey. Do  quick search, read, and impress the one you love with your knowledge of Perseid. What’s more romantic than watching the stars with the one you love?

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Home is Where You Make It

Saying I’m from Tidewater, Virginia is not a singular spot on the map. It basically says an area affected by the tides. So more specifically I live in the Hampton Roads. That narrows it down to a few cities and outlying counties, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Isle of Wight, Newport News, Hampton, Poquoson, York County, and James City County. Any of these places sound familiar?

People tend to know this area because it’s the epicenter for military activity. With all forms of our military represented at the local bases, it’s darn hard for anyone to try to remember and count how many bases there are in the area. But probably the most notable ones would be Langley Air Force Base, N.O.B, and Oceana Naval Base. Jet noise is common. Where I am, I hardly ever hear them. I’m more apt to hear a helicopter from one of the bases such as Fort Eustis or maybe N.O.B. But there are places in Virginia Beach where the jet noise will definitely catch someone’s attention. Personally, I love to watch them fly, especially in formation. And sometimes they are so low in the sky you feel as though you can reach up and touch them. We say it’s the sound of freedom.

It’s a fairly conservative area probably because of the high number of military personal stationed here, and the military people who retired and stayed. Even politics are conservative. Often the Democrats and the Republicans find themselves meeting in the middle on most issues. It’s the people in power who represent the groups that tends to polarize and can heat a discussion. But two of our local congressional reps, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, I’ve known seemly forever and you couldn’t find nicer men.

Pickup trucks are a normal means of transportation. And plates on the back of many of those trucks say FARM USE. Common bumper stickers are A Girl and Her Truck is a Beautiful Thing, G.R.I.T.S Girl Raised In The South, a local hunt club, I’d Rather Be Fishing, or one of a dozen more that say that in spite of all the modern technology, we’re still content with the simple things in life.

The area is also rich in history. Newport News got its name because it’s where Christopher Newport caught the first bit of news concerning the New World before he sailed to Jamestown with fresh supplies. Yes, Jamestown, known for its stories of Pocahontas is just up the James River. A little hop, skip, and jump from Jamestown is Williamsburg, a Colonial capital. The James River is also the site of the famous Monitor and Merrimack battle of ironclads. The whole area is steeped in the American Revolution, and of course, the Civil War with places such as Yorktown that served in both wars.

But push all that aside and let’s look at the area today. The most obvious thing to visitors is water! There’s the York River, the James River, the Elizabeth River, and the Nansemond River, the Pagan River, etc. There’s also the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. Put it all together and it’s virtually impossible to get around without crossing water. The number of creeks…they are everywhere. I believe there are 33 named bridges in the Hampton Roads area. In fact if giving directions, we never even think about counting the minor bridges over the little stuff. So it’s the High-Rise bridge that takes people from the western and northern areas to the eastern and more southern areas. Calling it the High-Rise bridge is not its proper name. But say High-Rise around here and we all know which one it is. I hope you are not afraid of heights! And to make matters worse, most of these bridges lift to allow ships to pass underneath. That means you are driving on metal grates. Oh is that a weird sensation because tires sometimes feel as though the car is about to slide across the bridge. No, just hold the steering wheel steady. I’ve been told it has to do with the tread on some tires. I think of it as driving on ice. Don’t do anything fast or stupid. What’s at the top of the High-Rise? You guessed it, that metal grate.

The other thing that is unique to this area is the number of tunnels. Please do not panic in the tunnel! They feel narrower than they are. It’s honestly amazing how many people will do almost anything to avoid traveling through the tunnels around here. Now there are tolls on them, along with several bridges, which makes them expensive. Except for the High-Rise bridge, somehow it escaped the tolls. Come rush hour, traffic is unreal on the High-Rise because everyone is trying to avoid the heavy tolls on the tunnels. You can’t travel between the Peninsula and the Southside without going across a bridge that contains a tunnel, except for the James River Bridge, which spans from Newport News to Isle of Wight.

We also have the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel system. That takes us from this area to the Eastern Shore and points north. It’s about 22 miles long and contains two tunnels no matter which direction you are going.

There is another way to get from one side to the Peninsula other and that is the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry. No one seemly ever calls it that. They don’t know a thing about Scotland. It’s the “Jamestown” ferry between Surry and Jamestown/Williamsburg area. I love going on the ferry. Just drive the car onto the ferry and relax for a little while. If you want to feed the seagulls, they will ask you to do it from the back end (the stern) of the ferry.

To really confuse you, there are places such as Reeds Ferry. It’s bridge. Once upon a time, there was a ferry – I have no clue when. And I guess if the tide was out, you had to wait. It’s pretty shallow. There’s Kings Bridge and it doesn’t exist. It did until it was damaged in a storm and they closed it. Eventually demolished it. It was a shortcut. Now everyone must drive around. But it wasn’t highly traveled, and therefore, it keeps hitting the bottom of the list for funds to build a new one.

Hurricanes are our biggest threat. We haven’t had a really bad one since my hubby moved me here many years ago. But from what I’ve read on local history. Willoughby Spit was created by two major hurricanes. I’m sure one day a hurricane will remove it. Unfortunately, it’s a high dollar area these days and has been built up in the last 20 years.

There are lots of beaches and Virginia Beach is quite a tourist destination. Drive to the far end of Virginia Beach and, tucked against the Atlantic Ocean, there’s plenty of sand. Plus there are lots of smaller beaches such as Buckroe and Huntington. And if mountains are preferred, we are about 3 hours from the mountains in Virginia. Seafood is abundant and most of it is local. Nearly all the restaurants have several seafood dishes even if they don’t specialize in seafood.

Phenomenal historical museums abound. There’s also the Chrysler Art Museum with fabulous displays. A children’s museum, nature museums, an aquarium, zoo, lots of fun attractions such as Busch Gardens, and of course, Colonial Williamsburg, which everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime.

We have a baseball team, the Tides, who have their own stadium over in Norfolk. And we have the Norfolk Admirals, a hockey team that plays at the Scope in downtown Norfolk. The golf courses here that have been on the PGA and LPGA tours, have hosted championship games, and plenty that have no claim to fame other than the locals enjoy their beauty. There are several well-known universities in the area such as William and Mary, Hampton University, and ODU. And there are quite a few smaller colleges and universities.

Our climate is considered moderate. Moderate what? My hubby moved me here and I was pregnant with our first child. It was summer. I went outside one day thinking I’d get a little exercise by walking around the neighborhood. I did an about-face. Omigosh! This Yankee needed gills to breath in this air! I was told I’d get used to it. It was because I was pregnant and at sea level. I promise, I’ve never gotten used to it. We can have 100% humidity and it’s not raining! If it rains, it will knock some of the water out of the air. Between our temps and the humidity, the rain forest looks like a cool, dry place to visit.

It didn’t take me long to realize that winters here can be darn cold! People from northern states who are used to super cold weather swear it feels colder here. This cold goes to your bones – apparently it’s the high humidity. Snow is rare, maybe once every winter we get an inch or three. If the snow comes, it will vanish usually the next day. No point in shoveling the driveway or the walkway. But one thing it does do here is rain during the winter. It rains, and rains, and rains until the yards can no longer hold another drop. Bundle the children in snowsuits with boots, and let them play in the fresh air. Then bring them in and immediately put everything they are wearing into the washing machine to remove the mud. If the sun shines in the winter, we wonder what that brilliant ball in the sky really is. I think we go ten days or more sometimes without seeing a sunny sky. I’ve often stood by the window and hoped whatever natural light existed would lift my mood.

There are cultural differences between the North and the South. Food is one of them. I’ve learned to cook with cornmeal. I know what fatback is. I refuse to drink Sweet Tea. (No, it’s not the same as Yankee tea that has been lightly sweetened.) But my first contact with BBQ was interesting.

There was a small convenience store in Poquoson with gasoline not too far from our first house. They also sold sandwiches. To call it a convenience store is a stretch; it was more of country store where the locals gathered for coffee.

I needed gas so I stopped in. It was back in the days where you got out of your car and walked inside to pay. I had counted out some change and figured it would buy about a half tank of gas and I needed milk. I gathered my baby daughter into my arms and took her inside. I opened the cooler and grabbed some milk, but when I took it to the counter, I was stuck waiting in line. I read the sign over the little sandwich area. It said BBQ. I asked barbecued what? They laughed and said it was BBQ.

I knew I was a Yankee and often people didn’t understand me, so I tried again. I tried to explain that a barbecue is where food is cooked outside usually over charcoal. And we call the items cooked as grilled hamburger or whatever it was. No. They laughed and said BBQ is BBQ. That’s what it is.

Then the guy behind the counter offered to make me a sandwich of BBQ. I only had a little bit of money, enough to pay for the gas I had pumped and the milk I was buying. I turned the offer down. Apparently, they wanted to have a little fun with me, so they offered to make a sandwich under the condition that I ate the whole thing or I’d have to pay for it. I’ve eaten a lot of strange things in my life, what’s one more?

It was deal, except I had the baby in my arms. BBQ is not a one-handed sandwich. One of guys took her from me, and they kept passing her around as though she were a darling little pink piglet. She probably only weighed about 7 pounds and none of them could believe she was that tiny. The man handed me the sandwich. I had no idea what Texas Pete was, but he had sprinkled plenty on the sandwich and loaded coleslaw on top of it. I ate the whole thing!

When I was done, they asked if I liked it. No! It was hot! I had no idea what that sandwich tasted like because it was too hot to taste. They laughed and gave me back my daughter. I paid for my stuff and left. Every time I walked in there, they would offer me another BBQ sandwich. I think it was years before I ever ate another. Now I love them…without Texas Pete sprinkled on them!

I had to listen carefully to the locals with their southern accents. One of my husband’s friends had a young wife who would call me occasionally, and I’d hear her say the kids were rassling. She had to stop them. I had no idea what they were doing, but apparently it was bad if she had to stop them. Then one day, one of the kids got nekhid, and she had to chase that one down. Well, rassling is wrestling and nekhid is naked. And so I learned.

The other odd word is roots. I have no idea how to spell what they say. I promise it’s not roots, but put some ice cubes in your mouth and try saying roots. Do it slowly and drawl it.

When a Yankee friend moved into rental house and two days later nothing worked. She called the landlord who sent a plumber, but threatened her that if it was her fault, she was paying for it. It didn’t take the plumber long to figure out what was wrong. Tree’s roots had gotten into the sewage line and stopped it up. He tried to explain to my friend, who looked at him with a blank stare. Eventually she caught on and said, “Oh, you mean roots.”

“Yes, ma’am, that’s what I said.”

She called me on the phone and we had a good laugh. I warned her about rassling and nekhid.

Each area here has its own vibe and its own claim to fame. There are those who can trace their ancestors to the original settlers and are living on land grant properties that date back to England. And many who are stationed here for only a year or two as they fulfill their military duty. There are those who live in North Carolina but work here in Tidewater. The shipyards employ a large chunk of our population, as do so many other companies that are contracted to the government. It’s a melting pot of people from all over the world.

There are still places that time seems to leave alone, and where the folks in the grocery store know who you are. People will smile and hold the door for you. Please and thank you are common words usually followed with a sir or ma’am.

I live in one of those little enclaves, in a house that was built before the Civil War. Hand hewn beams hold up the floor and the corner posts of the house are about 30 x 30 inches, hand-cut, solid wood. That’s not unusual. There are plenty of historic districts scattered throughout Tidewater and homes dating to Colonial times are common.

This is my home now. I wasn’t born here. I wasn’t raised here, but I’m here. My daughters are here and so are my grandchildren. I can’t imagine being anyplace else. I get all four seasons, but I don’t have to shovel the snow.

My latest historical book, A Rancher’s Request starts out in Tidewater in the little town of Franklin.

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SADDLE UP AND GET GOING! Tips For Wannabe Writers to FINISH That Novel!

 

Starting, and finishing, a novel can be a daunting prospect, but you can do it if you’re willing to be a little disciplined and try a few different ways of doing things. I’ve compiled a few of the tips that have made the biggest difference to me in my journey as a writer. I hope something here will help you! I’ve used the tips below, some from others, and some I’ve discovered myself, to write and publish three full length historical romantic suspense/thriller novels in the past four years. They work for me.

 

 

  • Write…just write.

Get it out of your head and down on paper or on your computer, word processor or whatever you use.

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  • Plan your writing in the best way for you.

It may take some time to figure out what that best way really is. Some people are Planners (plot their novel out ahead of time), some are Pantsers (write by the seat of their pants) and some are a combination of the two, as I am. I write historicals, so I automatically have a timeline to work my story into. Once I plot out my basic story, with a solid framework offered by the real timeline (planning), I let my characters go to work and tell me the story (pantsing).

  • Let go of that ‘internal editor’.

While you write your rough draft, just write whatever comes out. It might be junk, but so what? That’s the beauty of a rough draft: you can edit it later. You can’t edit a blank page, so get on with it and progress your story, instead of getting stuck and giving up somewhere back on Chapter 1 or 2.

(Or NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program, if you’re a junior)

NaNoWriMo is a fun, worldwide, online-linked program where from 1-30 November of every year participants drive towards their goal of writing 50,000 words of their own novel. Yes, 50K words. Why would anyone want to put themselves through that? For me, it’s about getting better at the first and third bullet points, above. You can’t edit a blank page. (yes, I already said that—it’s that important) J

 I wrote a large chunk of the middle of this book in NaNoWrimo. It’s the one I’ve just released!

SOG 3D

  • Find a time to write every day.

Not most days, every day.

Finding a time to write undisturbed is not always possible and you may have to get creative. I like to write in bed, before I get caught up in everything I see needs doing around the place. This required changing my bedtime so I am awake before everyone else starts moving around and needing my attention!

  • Make a Daily Writing Pact.

In his excellent book: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King suggests making an agreement with yourself to write a certain number of words every day, and keeping to it.

No, you don’t get Sundays off.

Or Mondays. This is not a restaurant.

If you want to be an author, act like one, and write.

Even at 500 words per day, in 100 days or just over three months, you will have written 50,000 words.

At 1000 words per day, in the same time period, you’ll have completed the draft of that 100,000 word novel you’ve been dreaming about. For a professional writer, he suggests 2000 words per day.

Do the maths. It works.

  • Write what you know.

It adds insights that others may never have considered, but I think it’s also good to write what you don’t know much about, using it as a stimulus to learn about things that interest you and keep yourself fresh! If you choose to do this, however, find people who do know about those things you’ve just learned, to ensure you get it right! Especially if it’s about horses. Horse owners (including yours truly–yes, we’re snobs) may be intolerant of writers who don’t know their stuff and still write about horses. For me, regardless of the intrinsic value of the rest of the story, if a writer doesn’t get the horse parts right, he or she has has lost my confidence. I simply won’t read the book.

I almost didn’t write this book…it was a request from a few beta readers…I was scared to write this part, maybe because I grew up and lived in several places in this book!  I should have known, it would make it easier! I used to run and ride where this cover pic was taken!

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  • Help: Books for beginning writers or beginning editors (or any writers or editors, for that matter).

If you’re a beginning writer, you might read through some of the books mentioned below before you get started. If you’ve already done that draft, definitely read them before you go on.

  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King.

  • The Novel Writer’s Toolkit by Bob Mayer and Jen Talty

  • The Emotion Thesaurus, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

 ~

 

I’ve met many wanna be authors who say: “I started writing a novel once, but never finished it.”

I’ll bet my boots they kept going back to edit. How many of these people do you know?

Ask them.

It doesn’t have to happen to you.

Only you control your writing destiny.

~

Go for it.

 

I’ve just published Book Three in The Long Trails Series, entitled

A Sea of Green Unfolding

~ When you’ve lost everything,
the only way to go is up—
isn’t it? ~

Tragedy strikes in Aleksandra and Xavier’s newly-found paradise on their California Rancho de las Pulgas. Von Tempsky invites them on a journey to a new life in peaceful New Zealand, but change is in the wind. When they reach Aotearoa, they disembark into a turbulent wilderness—where the wars between the European settlers and the local Māori have only just begun.

Here’s this month’s giveaway!

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If you’d like to go into the draw to win a copy of the regular print edition of newly-released A Sea of Green Unfolding (when it’s available, soon!), leave a review of A Sea of Green Unfolding where you purchased your eBook or paperback.

The digital version is available on Amazon right now for just $2.99 USD! It’s also available to you if you’re on Prime or Kindle Unlimited!
Just send me your email address and the site where you left your review and you’ll be in the draw!

Amazon

My email: lizzi@lizzitremayne.com

What reviewers have to say about

A Sea of Green Unfolding

“As usual in this series, the historical research is excellent and extremely detailed, and…well-integrated into the narrative. The description of the environs through which Lizzi Tremayne’s characters travel are particularly good – lush and vibrant. In the New Zealand section of the novel she makes our country sound like paradise. Which it is. There is one more volume to come after this, Tatiana, and I’m looking forward to it.”

   –Deborah Challinor, number one bestselling author and historian

“I was lucky enough to read A Sea Of Green Unfolding prior to release and really enjoyed this beautifully researched and engrossing story.
This is the third book in the Long Trail series and follows on nicely from the other two, though if you’ve picked this one up and are keen to read it first you’ll find it stands alone well. Author Lizzi Tremayne has developed an exciting tale which kept me on the edge of my seat throughout as Aleksandra and Xavier faced one issue after another, first of all at their Californian ranch and later on their journey to a new home in New Zealand.
I loved the way that this story was interwoven with New Zealand’s turbulent mid-19th century history as European settlers and Maori tribes battled over disputed land. I loved the imagery too. Most of all though I loved travelling with Aleksandra through the Waikato countryside in her bid to be reunited with Xavier.
Lizzi Tremayne has stamped her mark as an excellent story teller who does her homework well and puts her knowledge to good use in her writing. I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.”

   –Shelagh Merlin, NetGalley Reviewer

 

Reviewers are saying of the rest of the series:

The Hills of Gold Unchanging:

“The pace is fast, there’s plenty of action and adventure and a few twists I didn’t see coming. Lizzi Tremayne writes good characters, and that definitely includes the horses. For me, though, it’s the history that’s the star in this story. Good characters plus excellent history equals a great read, which is what this is.”
–Deborah Challinor, number one bestselling author and historian

“…superb storytelling. As Aleksandra and Xavier faced and survived human malevolence, natural disaster and accidents, and their own doubts and insecurities, I kept turning pages to find out what happened next. I love books in which adversity sculptures character and where challenges to relationships bend them to breakpoint and rebuild them stronger. This is one of those books. I can’t wait to read the sequel.”
–Judy Knighton, editor

“There are so many things to like about this story. Lead characters, Aleks and Xavier, are well rounded and strong. Aleks has a stubborn streak and a determination to survive, no matter what. Both inspired me to cheer them on as they faced one problem after another along the way from Utah to California. The plot is well developed, and I particularly liked the attention to historical detail along the way. This is an author who does her homework, and it shows. I was intrigued by this story, and wish I’d read the first in the series before venturing onto this one. Despite that, this story does stand alone well, and is a cracking good yarn.”
  –Shelagh Merlin, NetGalley Reviewer

And about A Long Trail Rolling, Book One:

“vivid, light and fast-paced…it will appeal in particular to anyone interested in American…history, and in general to those looking for a ripping good read. I’m looking forward to reading The Hills of Gold Unchanging, the next volume in the Aleksandra and Xavier saga”
   –Deborah Challinor, number one bestselling author and historian

“The mystery, adventure, and danger of life in Utah in the 1860s is beautifully described…an authentic, emotional story of one woman’s fight for survival in an unforgiving landscape. I couldn’t put Lizzi Tremayne’s book down.”
  Leeanna Morgan, USA Today bestselling author
 
“An impressive debut from a New Zealand (ex-American) author…a romance, a western, and an adventure story, all rolled up into a compelling read…I devoured this one and am hungry for more.”
   –Booksellers NZ

Awards for A Long Trail Rolling

With this debut novel, Lizzi was:

Finalist 2013 RWNZ Great Beginnings;
Winner 2014 RWNZ Pacific Hearts Award
Winner 2015 RWNZ Koru Award for Best First Novel
Third 2015 RWNZ Koru Long Novel
Finalist 2015 Best Indie Book Award
Click here to go to my website to read the rest! 

 

I hope you’re having a great start to August!

Good luck in the draw!

Regards from NZ.


Lizzi

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(This is my son Elliot and I in a Combined Driving competition, driving Maya, or Blue Mist Shemaya. The wee lad is much taller than I am, now!)

 

…and now I’ve done this post, I’m off to work on my book for the Christmas Boxed set with Authors of Main Street!!!!

xx

Lizzi

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Minimalist Road Trip Vacation

I love to travel, but when 2017 arrived the purse strings and I didn’t expect to go much further than Indianapolis, for a summer wedding to be held in the state capital building. (It was beautiful! See the dome!)

DomeIn early spring when I was out walking, it occurred to me that surely I could manage at least a couple of small trips this year without breaking the piggy bank. There were two places I needed to go: Texas, to visit my cousin Dan, and northern Illinois, to see Beverly, whom I’ve known since third grade.

That very day, I got a phone call. Dan, only 60 years old, had died of a massive heart attack. I had put the trip off for too many years, not having enough money, time, and organizational inclination all at once. He and I had become such friends in the last couple of decades. He read my books, and encouraged me. We talked about real Mexican food, pursuing authentic lives, and every other possible topic. I miss him.

As you can imagine, it didn’t take me long to contact Beverly. She and her husband invited me to stay for a long weekend, and gave me some dates. Here’s a bit of serendipity for you–Beverly and family have lived near Woodstock, IL (where the movie Groundhog Day was filmed)  for about 30 years, and a college buddy of my son moved to Woodstock a couple of years ago.

Do you love road trips? For me this was the best kind–I was a passenger! Yep, my son and daughter-in-law made arrangements with their friends, and took time off work, so the three of us could travel together. Once we got to Woodstock, Beverly picked me up, and the kids had their own vacation with their friends.

In planning our time together, Beverly asked what I would like to do. I had a list of three things: take the train into Chicago, visit my godson and meet his new wife, and meet up with another girlfriend. Beverly is a can-do kind of gal, and set about making these happen.

The first morning, we got iced coffee (yum!) at the local Starbucks, and went to the depot. (It’s actually even cuter than this if your photographer doesn’t cut off the corners of the roof.)

train_depot

I’ll skip the long version of why, but we ended up spending the day at Lake Geneva instead. It was glorious!

LakeGeneva

We walked a bit of the shore path, took a boat tour of the lake (yikes! enormous homes!), and strolled through the town and its darling little museum. I took several photos of this lovely church.

church

Saturday, we attended the Woodstock Farmers Market, which is held around their picturesque town square. The entire space was full of vendors. I bought bars of homemade soap, and a little block of local cheese that could travel back to southern Indiana in a cooler.  There was even live music coming from the band stand!Woodstock_market_bandstand

We met my godson and his wife for lunch in the Public House, a delightful restaurant that’s in the former jail building.

Woodstock_public_house

On Sunday, Beverly and her husband drove me to New Glarus, Wisconsin, where we met our other friend and her husband. Pizza! Beer! Laughter! And another cute little town to explore.

By Monday evening, the wonderful vacation was over, and we three Southern Indiana travelers were back in our respective dwellings. I love my simple life, and my studio apartment. I think I love it even more when I come back home to it.#amwriting

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