OAVS #6: Fifty Miles at a Breath Coming Soon!

Hi all! We can’t wait for our Summertime Boxed set to be released this month, including seven great new novellas by Authors of Main Street authors! It’ll feature my Once Upon a Vet School #6: Fifth Miles at a Breath!  (Yes, you noticed… I’m going backwards… LOL)

Well… mine’s sort of a novella… I seem to have this little problem with “writing short“.  It’s come out at 59K… when it was meant to be… much less. :/  I hope you enjoy it!

Like horses? Things veterinary? You’ll love Fifty Miles at a Breath!

Fifty Miles at a breath

Here’s the first chapter from Fifty Miles at a Breath:

Fifty miles at a breath break

Southern California, 1986

“You’ll regret you refused me,” Gareth Barnett-Payne menaced, reaching for me, but I spun and ran until my legs—

“Lena… Lena” Raywyn, the head veterinary technician, waved her hand before my eyes.

I blinked, shaking my head and willing my heart to stop pounding in my chest.

“Are you okay?” Her brows knitted together.

I gripped the edge of the desk before me. “Yes, fine,” I mumbled, wondering how anyone could be so vicious. “So,” I swallowed hard and dragged myself back to today, “what’s the surgery schedule for tomorrow, Ray?”

She looked at me sideways, then turned to the schedule before her.

I took a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying to release the tension stacked up from three weeks of flea allergy dermatitis, hotspots, anal glands and catfight abscesses. Through those stinking hot Santa Barbara summer days, I yearned for the touch of a velvet nose, the solid muscle and bone, and the scent of a horse. Any horse. It wouldn’t be much longer before I could go home to my own roan. I bit my lip and scanned the small animal clinic, my eyes and nose running as freely as they’d been since the moment I first walked in through the practice doorway. Cat allergy in a vet—great. Thank god I was going to be an equine vet.

“Let’s see,” Ray’s finger ran down the page, “two dogs spays, a cruciate surgery, four cat neuters, and… hmmm… I can’t read it. I’ll need to ask Dr. Franco.” She flashed a grin at me. “With your handwriting, you should make a fantastic veterinarian, too. I can’t read a thing you write.”

“I really do try,” I said, with a rueful grin.

“Could have fooled me.”

“Not too many cats for tomorrow, then,” I sighed, “that’s a good thing.”

“We don’t have many appointments, so Dr. Franco will be free to supervise and you should be able to do most of the surgeries.”

“I’m pretty lucky,” I nodded, “I get to do so much surgery here. I’ve been speaking with some of my classmates. They just don’t get the opportunities I’ve been handed. I’ll be forever grateful to you and Dr. Franco for that. I’m going to be a horse vet, but I’m sure there’ll still be other animals in my life.”

Ray looked at me, brows narrowed, until I began to squirm, with an overwhelming urge to cover myself. “What?”

“It’s a man, isn’t it?”

I gritted my teeth and held my breath. “Maybe.”

“No maybe about it. Who is he?”

“Some creep with a control fetish.”

Ray blinked and shook her head. “Tell me he isn’t your problem anymore.”

“He’s not my problem anymore.”

“Truth?”

I nodded. “Never was, much, though he encouraged the idea… rather forcefully.”

“You need to come out with us to a few clubs tomorrow night. Just the girls.”

“I’d rather stay away from men, but thanks all the same.”

Ray’s smile faded. “It’ll be fun, Lena. It’s a group of women. We’ll dance, have a blast, and go home. Alone. Can you think about it?” Her smile was hopeful.

“I’ll think about it,” I said, biting my lip. “Can I tell you tomorrow?”

“Sure, but we’d love to have you along.”

“I don’t know… I’m truly over men,” I swallowed hard. “They’re just not worth the angst.”

“All you have to do is come out with us. You don’t even need to dance with them. You can dance with the rest of the girls.”

I was far from certain, but I had no other plans for my hot Friday night. “Okay,” I finally said.

Fifty miles at a breath scene break

The electronic music throbbing across the dance floor jangled in my head. It was so loud, my heart thumped in shock along with the beat. With a deep breath, I forced my butt to stay on the barstool. And tried to smile. And look pleasant. Hard when everything about the place made me want to run screaming out the door. The men either plastic and young in their shiny, synthetic shi—

“Aren’t you glad you came with us, now?” Ray’s voice cut into my thoughts during a momentary lull in the noise,

I bit my cheek and nodded. No use wrecking her night, too. There certainly wasn’t anyone here with whom I’d want to wake up, much less spend the rest of my life. Maybe I was just too serious.

“That guy,” Ray nodded her chin, “the one who looks like he never leaves the beach, has been eyeing you up for the past half hour. Why don’t you go put him out of his misery?”

I rolled my eyes as the music started pounding again. “Come on, Ray, you know I can’t shoot guys in here,” I shouted over the music and smirked. “Someone might object.”

Ray closed her eyes and shook her head. “You really are a tough case, aren’t you?” she yelled back.

“Okay, I’ll go. I don’t imagine he knows how to dance Western Swing,” I said into her ear as I hopped from my perch.

“You go girl!” Ray barked, her eyes twinkling.

Mr. Lifeguard may have been eyeing me up, but he looked ready to bolt at my approach.

“Hi, my friend thought I should come ask you to dance.”

“Hello,” he said, with a heavy accent and I blinked.

“A Danish hello?” A smile cracked my visage.

This could be interesting.

His rabbit-in-the-headlights look dissolved and he laughed.

Hvordan har du de?” he said, in my mother’s native language.

Fint tak,” I replied. That made me smile. My mother would be pleased,

He started off on a stream of rapid-fire dansk, and with a laugh, I put a hand on his arm to stop him.

“Whoa there. You’ve already heard most of my Danish. From my mom, I learned hello, thank you, you’re welcome, and stand up. Baby words.”

His smile melted, and he bit his lip.

“It’s okay,” I smiled. “Want to dance?”

Tak, thank you. That, I would love,” he said, as he put a hand on the small of my back and guided me to the crowded dance floor.

“You wouldn’t know how to dance properly, would you?”

With a smile that lit the whole room, he took my hand and whirled me around the floor. The man could dance—and I was thankful once again for my many years of Latin and ballroom lessons. I never knew when they’d come in handy, like now.

“What are you doing so far from home?” I asked, after we’d been dancing for what seemed like hours.

“I’ve been at University here, studying marine biology.”

“Really?” So, the lifeguard guess was close. “I almost did that. I love to dive—I started when I was an undergraduate here,” I shouted, “but I’m in veterinary school up north now. Maybe we could go for a dive before I have to go home.”

“I would love to,” he bit his lip, his brow furrowed, “but I fly back to Danmark tomorrow morning. I wish we’d met sooner.” He genuinely looked wistful and my heart twinged at the thought of the friendship we might have had.

“Believe me when I say I’m gutted to hear you’re leaving.” That’d be right. I finally meet someone with the same interests… and he’s heading halfway around the world the next day.

“Gutted?”

“Sorry, very sorry.” My mouth twisted.

“Me too,” said the Viking. He took my hand and made a little bow over it, then he kissed it. I had to take a deep breath and lock my knees to keep from melting. I love Europeans.

“It seems your friends are ready to leave.” He nodded at Ray’s table full of women. They looked at us over their empty glasses, purses slung over their shoulders. “Mange tusind tak, and goodbye for now,” he said, as he turned away toward his own friends.

Many thousand thanks…

My heart sinking, I rejoined Ray and her friends as they walked out the door.

Outside on the street, Ray and I split from her friends and turned toward our apartment over the clinic. Ray stared at the retreating back of the blonde Viking as he and his friends headed away from us and tripped over a crack in the pavement. She recovered and turned back to me. Her mouth twitched in the light of the streetlamp. “Well, you’ve certainly found yourself a live one,” she said, with a wink. “When will you see him again?”

I snorted. “Probably never. He flies home to Denmark tomorrow.”

Ray’s face fell. “You can’t be serious.”

“Story of my life.” I nodded. “Told you it’s not worth it,” I couldn’t repress a smile, “but the dancing was spectacular.”

“You two were awesome out there.”

“It was all him. I just followed.”

“Could have fooled me,” Ray muttered.

“Truth be told, it’s easier, or safer, anyway, than dancing Western Swing, where the only rules are to try to stay on your feet while they fling you around. It’s fun, but Jesper’s dancing was… so much more subtle. It was easy, like… like… dancing.” I beamed at my friend. “Thank you for dragging me along. I really enjoyed myself.”

“You at least have each other’s contacts, right?”

My mouth dropped open and nothing came out.

“I can see,” Ray sighed, “I’ll need to take you under my wing. You clearly lack training.”

We both laughed, but mine was a bit self-conscious.

“I’ll be okay.” I gave her a half smile. “My focus needs to be veterinary school now. I really don’t have the time or the energy for anything other than that. The next two years are going to be hard enough just taking care of me and my animals, without worrying about the ups and downs of a relationship.”

“I see,” Ray said, though she looked like she did no such thing.

“It’s really true,” I said firmly, wrapped an arm around Ray’s shoulders, and gave her a squeeze. “I have friends like you. What more could a vet student want?”

“I guess you’re right, and you have your precious horse waiting for you back at home.” Ray stopped dead and stared at me. “Oh my god, horse.…” she slapped her palm to her forehead and jerked her head toward me. “How could I forget about you?”

“Pardon?”

“A vet tech friend of mine asked me last week if I knew anyone who could help at an endurance ride next weekend.”

“Like a horse endurance ride?” I goggled at her.

“No, you goof, they’re racing penguins. Of course, it’s a horse endurance ride.” Ray’s eyes sparkled. She’d grown up with horses, but with her head tech position at the clinic, she didn’t have time for them now.

“Where do I sign?”

“Have you ever helped at an endurance ride?”

fifty miles at a breath

“I’ve been on the ‘P & R Team’ at the vet school and my family’s done endurance since before I was born—I’ve been on my family’s Tevis Cup crew since before I could walk.”

“Boy, am I glad to hear that.” Ray let out a breath and shook her head. “Sarah’s desperate for some helpers.” She turned to me, brow furrowed. “What’s a P & R team?”

“P for pulse, R for respiration. It’s a team of vet students that helps at local endurance rides by taking heart rates and respiratory rates on the horses before they go on to the vets at the control checks. It frees the vets up to focus on lameness and metabolic problems.”

“Oh, of course.”

“Where is it?” A tingle of excitement ran up my back.

“It’s at Los Lomitos, about an hour and a half from here. I’ll make you a deal: if you go help Sarah, you can leave on Friday at noon and needn’t be back at work until Tuesday morning—you can take some time for yourself up there.”

The weight, the tension sliding from my shoulders made me want to dance the rest of the way home. I was grateful for the opportunity offered by this summer preceptorship, but I wasn’t sure if I’d survive a whole two months down here, away from home and my animals, with only patient dogs and cats for company. Ray was offering me not only respite, but horses, too.

“Sweeten the deal,” Ray said, at my continued silence, “I’ll send you with my tent, sleeping bag and everything you’ll need to camp in luxury. Including poison oak medication.”

I laughed, afraid my cheeks might split from smiling so widely. “I’m in. You had me at hello.”

Fifty miles at a breath scene break

It was still early afternoon on Friday when I arrived at the endurance race campground and found Ray’s friend Sarah, the ride manager.

I’d beamed at myself in the rearview mirror for most of the drive. Four days of horses, camping, and outdoor life after the desert of life in a city. I’d owe Ray forever.

The somewhat frazzled Sarah managed a welcoming smile for me. “There’s nothing you need to do until later, Lena,” she said, handing me a lanyard and passes. “Ray told me your history, and I can’t say how glad I am to have a volunteer of your experience and training.”

“Happy to help,” I said. “I just want to touch some horses.”

“Plenty of opportunity for that.” Sarah’s eyes twinkled. “The P & R team briefing starts at 7 p.m. and there’s another session afterward to practice taking pulse and respiratory rates. You wouldn’t want to help with that, would you?”

“Of course,” I said. “I’m at your disposal.”

“I’d hoped you’d say that. Most of the team are experienced horse people, but only a few have taken vitals before.”

“I’d be happy to help them.” I smiled.

“Thanks so much.” Sarah’s eyes glinted. “Go ahead and set up your camp. There’s a nice swimming hole in the creek, just down there,” she pointed, “if you feel so inclined. I need to run,” she said, as a man wearing an OFFICIAL badge touched her on the shoulder, an expectant look on his face. “I’ll see you at dinner.” Sarah and the man headed off at a trot.

As my meals were supplied by the ride management, setting up camp took only minutes and I was soon free to enjoy my afternoon.

A luxury I haven’t had in long months,

Inside Ray’s tent, I dropped my jeans and slipped into my shorts and bikini top, grabbed a towel, and headed for the proffered swimming hole. I hadn’t gotten far when the throaty rumble of an Arabian caught my attention. He stared at me intently from his wooden tie stall and I approached him, looking around for someone connected to this magnificent creature, but no one was near. His blood bay coat gleamed over a faultlessly muscled body. He whickered again as I neared him. With his body carriage, he had to be a stallion, so I peeked under his belly. Yep, a stallion.

I reached out a hand to him and he lipped gently at my palm.

“Ooh, aren’t you the most handsome man?” I murmured.

I jumped when he answered.

“Why, thank you,” came a deep voice, tinged with humor.

I chuckled into the laughing gaze of the man who raised himself from the ground behind the short wall at the stallion’s feet. “I thought he answered me, for a moment.”

The man’s face creased into deep laugh lines around his gorgeous blue eyes. He was as handsome as the horse, to be sure.

“He talks, this boy,” he said, as he slid one arm over the bay’s back and gave him a scratch on his withers, then stuck out his other hand. “Blake, Blake Sagan. Pleased to meet you.”

I smiled and introduced myself. “Just admiring your stallion. He’s a beaut.”

“Thanks. He’s pretty special. His name’s Prince. Prince Witeż, after his grandfather. My pride and joy. Are you racing tomorrow?”

“Not this time. I’m here to help, P & R team.”

“Ever been to an endurance ride before?” He looked sideways at me while he waited for my answer.

“Oh, a few. My grandfather’s done the Tevis Cup numerous times, my mom and stepdad a few more, and I’ve done some shorter rides plus ride & ties. I usually get to crew, though.”

“Ah,” his eyes glinted, “you must be the vet student from Santa Barbara.”.

I blinked. News traveled fast.

“I knew Sarah was looking for helpers.” He smiled. “Thanks for coming along.”

“Glad to help. I was in serious need of a horse fix. I’ve been working in a small animal clinic this summer.”

“Not keen on the smallies?”

“I love them, but my heart’s with the horses.”

“You off for a swim?” He nodded at my towel.

“Sure am. Sarah told me to go down by the bridge.”

“It’s a nice spot, but there’s an even better one a little way upstream. I’m taking Prince down there for a swim shortly.”

“I’ll see you down there, then.”

“Be there soon,” he said, and waved at me as I walked away.

Blake’s gaze—there was more light in that man’s sparkling eyes then I’d seen in ages. I wondered what he did besides ride horses—with that quick, intelligent spark, it must be something special.

What can I be thinking?

The next two years are not about more devastating relationships. It’s time to finish my doctorate and establish my career.

I cannot go there.

I simply cannot.

 

 

Fifty miles at a breath break

Want to read more? Keep an eye out for Fifty Miles at a Breath in Summertime Romance on Main Street!

Coming in June 2018!

Fifty Miles at a Breath

Peace on Earth and Spread Good Will

December is for giving. What most people don’t realize is that most writers give back all the time. Being this is the season for giving, I thought I’d share with you.

I give back. I run writers’ groups every Tuesday. I do classes on writing at the local libraries. Usually twice a year, and I try to help local and online friends realize their dreams as authors.

Anyone in this business will help. But be prepared. Most of us are busy. Don’t expect an answer that evening or the next day. Especially if you want us to read something! Most of the answers can be found in Kindle Direct Publishing or what we call K. D. P. Don’t understand that technical stuff? Check their FAQ. There are also some great online groups where you can ask questions. Learn what you are doing! Don’t expect us to spoon-feed you. You’re an adult.

Yes, many of us entered this indie publishing as it was just starting. We didn’t have anyone to hold our hands. We made mistakes. Kindle made mistakes. But we kept making changes as they did and we’ve all learned. I can remember my panic as I uploaded my first book. I sat and looked at the button that said publish for probably five minutes until I had the guts to click on it. It honestly felt like an hour.

Know something about what you are doing before you do it! Do not expect to put your book up and have it sell a gazillion copies right from the get-go. You’ll hear about books that want viral. That didn’t happen overnight. They did a few things before they posted that book online. I’ve known people who have put a book online and then they will ask me when will it start selling. Have they done anything to make it sell? Have they spent money advertising it? Do they belong to any groups online? The answer is sad. No, they haven’t. They expected that it would just take off. They want that $100,000 a year income from it. Don’t we all?

The other thing I hear is: I want to write and publish my memoirs. My first question is why? What has happened to you that is so compelling? It’s always the same story. There are dozens of those stories out there. How many books have you read with that theme? What will make your story stand out? They don’t know.

May I offer a suggestion? Write it. Get it out of your system. Let your children know that you have this manuscript that you’ve written about your crappy life with a dysfunctional family. Maybe one day those children might read it.

On the other hand, those who do have lives worth writing about seem to ignore it. Case in point, a local woman has been a missionary in the Middle East and in places further east almost her entire life. Her story of that time is amazing. She’ll read her old journal entries during our writer meetings and you can hear a pin drop. I’ve been trying to tell her that those journals of her time there are worth putting into a book. She ignores me and wants to write devotional stuff. What’s truly fascinating in those journals is her hopes and dreams for her own children growing up in third world countries and her beautiful descriptions of places untouched by civilization. Living without running water and carrying the water they needed from a stream that wasn’t even close to the shack where they lived. The political stuff that she has lived to tell about. OMG! The people who have awaken them in the middle of the night and made them leave with only what they could carry, and then later that morning discovering that the country was overthrown in a bloody carnage. Trying to get to civilization because her babies were due or trying to get home to the States because a family member was dying. That’s what glues us to her readings. It’s the human aspect of her life while under duress. We can lead the horse to water but we can’t make the creature drink. Maybe someday her grandchildren will pull those journals into a book, not the whole journal but lifting the best tidbits from them.

December is beyond all the gift giving and Christmas lights. It’s about giving more than that. Have you given of yourself? Tried to lift someone up or helped in way way? December has just begun, there’s plenty of time to do that. There’s also time to plan for next year. Can you share a bit of yourself? Give some time to help those who are just breaking into your career or maybe studying for your career. Are you an engineer? Can you give an afternoon to your local library to entice children especially those little females that they too can be engineers? STEM is serious there are less than 12%  of the engineers are female, and the engineering schools don’t have females even applying for those classes. It has dwindled to virtually no female attendance.  Call your local Girl Scout office and say hey, I can do this!

Give that little gift of yourself. There’s some little talent inside that you can share and as a result the world will be different because of what you’ve done. Time is your greatest gift.

Merry Christmas…..Happy Hanukkah

No matter what you celebrate, stay safe this season and spread a little good cheer!

Writer Problems…What’s Your Name Again?

There are a lot of issues that strike authors throughout their career. Deadlines, an over active imagination, days where a story you aren’t even working on interrupts your WIP or days when not a single person living in your head wants to come out to play. So, from writer’s block to multiple personalities – we all have issues.

Recently, I have developed a new tick, of sorts. It is a regular part of my job to create people, to decide what they look like, their mannerisms and silly quirks, and then I name them. Whatever I want to call them, so shall it be!

Thad - Teaser 1This is Thad, he is a smooth talker and a loyal friend. He has a crooked smile and what some might call a devilish grin; all held together with a heart of pure gold and a wicked sense of humor! I named him. I couldn’t imagine him with any other name.

I adore him! I better get back on topic, he is distracting to say the least. 🙂

Back to my new-found problem, a lot of times when I see someone I get an idea of what their name “should” be, you know if I was writing their life. Unfortunately, this is not always the name they actually have. When I am introduced to said person, I am now having a hard time remembering their actual name and instead want to call them the name I feel suits them best. Like the kid on my son’s baseball team who looks like a Jake to me, his name is Logan. Or the high school basketball who I call Todd, even though his name is Josh. It has gotten so bad that my son now knows who I am referring to when I use their name improperly – because it happens so often. LOL

I am not saying that I prefer my imaginary world to the real world; no, no, I would never say that. 🙂 It just seems to bleed over more and more the longer I do this and the more books and characters I have under my belt!

On the bright side it makes life interesting for me and new people I meet and gives my son one more reason to shake his head at his crazy MOM! ❤ Good thing he loves me and has a good memory for names! 😛

facebook cover photo - Weddings

Speaking of characters, Thad and the rest of his wedding crew are all on sale this month of March. Each book in the One Day at a Wedding Series is 99 cents each or you can buy the entire collection for $3.50, which also includes a BONUS STORY, When Cassie Met Thad. It’s a peek into the early days of Cassie (Book One) and Thad’s (Book Three) friendship and why their loyalty and love is so unshakeable and PLATONIC! LOL

$3.50 eBook on Amazon, Barnes&Noble,Kobo and iTunes Paperback $9.26-11.99     (Prices Vary at retailer discretion)

Signed copies are also available on my website, www.kellyraebooks.com in the shop! :O)

Bride in wedding day in lavender fieldBride in wedding day in lavender field

Thanks for stopping by today and at the very least I hope you get a good chuckle at my expense or maybe even smile knowing you do the same thing. If you have a funny quirk that you have gotten due to your work or life, tell us about it and we can all compare notes. 🙂

Wishing you well, in Fiction and real life!

Kindly,

Kelly Rae

A Balanced Working Parent, Ugh! – Giveaway!l

Triton playing Sax

Triton Playing Sax

Being a mom is my most important job. Everything else and everyone else, comes second. I figure in about a decade I will have a life of my own, LOL! 🙂

Some days this clear-cut statement is harder to navigate that others – I need to work to take care of my child, but I also need to be there for him. And so the balancing act goes like this:

Last Friday I was scheduled to host a Facebook event on Hooks & Books page. Facebook events are fun and a great opportunity to meet and visit with current and new readers. Before I was doing my own, they seemed pretty easy and not all that time-consuming, beyond the 1-2 hours an author was chatting with the group.

The reality is that they take prep work; you have to write the posts ahead of time (well I do), so they are easily accessed and posted in a timely manner to the page. You have to set aside those 1-2 hours with little interruption so you don’t miss anything and/or leave a comment by a valued reader without a like or comment. You have to arrange prizes, get links set up, look for memes or photos of celebs to chat about, some of us make our own memes which takes time, as well. Suddenly, that 1-2 hours is now 3-4 hours where you aren’t writing your new book. So, there is a commitment made. All marketing is time-consuming – writing isn’t just about writing these days. Sad, but true! 🙂

So, back to my event last week. When I set up the event, my calendar was clear. My son’s basketball practice was cancelled, for its usual Friday slot, and so I scheduled the event to discuss my One Day at a Wedding Series. Then my son was asked to move up to the Pep Band and play with the high school kids (along w/ a couple of 8th graders). My son, Triton, is only in 7th grader and picked up an instrument for the first time just this past September. So, it’s a BIG DEAL that he was asked to play in the Pep Band as a first year student. I am very proud of him. The problem…their first game was Friday the 30th.

What is a parent to do? There is some liberation in the fact that I am a writer and essentially I work for myself. I make my schedule. But, I also want to be a succesful writer, one who can be counted on to meet deadlines, show up at events and be available to readers. My first thought was okay; I will set up posts, schedule them, and just do the event from my mobile phone, at the basketball game, while I watch the band. I have actually had to do Facebook events from my iPhone before, due to rescheduled basketball practices or games. So, it’s possible. But my level of engagement is certainly not as high.

Then the mom in me kicked in and said, how great would it to be feeling really special and look up in the stands to make sure your mom is watching you and instead see her looking down at her phone? Not so great. Here is the dilemma for working parents, focus on work to take of the material needs (inc. basic food/water/shelter) AND focus on their emotional well-being. It a choice all parents make, all the time.

In this case I opted to reschedule my event, last-minute, which I felt bad for doing. In an effort to make amends I did offer a giveaway to the site and those that were interested. That giveaway went really well and I was happy to see such a nice response and interest in getting a free copy of my series One Day at a Wedding. Even better was the look of pride on my son’s face, as I watched him play in the high school band. Sitting there in the stands, watching him was the only place I wanted to be. People in our small town were all telling me how great he was and I got to video the band to send home to our family in California. It was a great night and my son was beaming. I sure would have hated to miss that.

It’s a balancing act and the reality is that sometimes we are going to have to pick work over time spent with the kids. It’s just the way the world works, now that we can all access work from home, at night and on the weekends. All parents have to make tough choices, no matter what your line of work is, we face the balance. I am glad that last friday I was able to pick watching a high school band. My kid was awesome.

**GIVEAWAY**

A

For a chance to win a copy of the first book in my One Day at a Wedding Series, Once Upon a Wedding, please leave a comment below about your most recent balancing act and a winner will be randomly chosen to win an eBook copy.

For more information about my books please take a moment to check out my website http://www.kellyraebooks.com and look me up on Facebook for news about this series, the paperback coming out soon and future work, http://www.facebook.com/kellyraebooks

Thank you for stopping by today, we always appreciate our readers who visit. Make sure to comment and good luck on winning a free eBook from us today. See you on my next post.

Wishing you well, in fiction and real life

Kelly Rae

facebook cover photo - Weddings

Let’s Decorate & Read by Joan Reeves

Holiday Decorating, a Free Companion Book to Christmas on Main Street 2014Happy Pre-Holidays!

This post may be a bit longer than usual because I want to show you a picture of each craft in our wonderful free book, Holiday Decorating, available at these ebook sellers:

Amazon * iTunes * Kobo * Nook

Although only 12 of us participated in the Christmas on Main Street Romance Collection, all 13 of us Authors of Main Street contributed a favorite holiday craft to the free Companion Book, with detailed supply lists and step by step instructions for each.

Here’s a cute video about Holiday Decorating.

Sneak Peak at the Crafts

In the order that each author’s Christmas story appears in the Christmas on Main Street Romance Collection, here are the respective authors and their crafts!

Joan Reeves Holiday CraftJoan Reeves, Book 1

Christmas Stocking Hanging System

Yes, this is my craft. Everyone always tells me what a great idea it is when they see all my stockings hanging from the mantel.

I invented this method of hanging Christmas stockings many years ago. Now, darling hubby and I hang 19 stockings every year.

My how my family has grown!

E. Ayers Holiday CraftE. Ayers, Book 2

The Kissing Ball

Like most of us, E. Ayers first made her Christmas craft many years ago when she and her husband were first married.

If you’re a romance reader, then you absolutely must make a Kissing Ball this Christmas.

Be sure and hang it prominently!

 

Kelly Rae Holiday CraftKelly Rae, Book 3

Waterless Snow Globe

These are delightful, and they’re super easy to make! Plus, kid-made presents are adored by parents and especially grandparents.

Kids love these, and they love to show off their handiwork so be sure you get several jars to make a bunch.

Shake them and watch the glittery snow fall!

Tori Scott Holiday CraftTori Scott, Book 4

Salt Dough Ornaments

The little boy next door just made Salt Dough Ornaments in pre-school. He was so excited and proud when he showed his creations to me.

These are so easy and adaptable for every skill level. Small children can easily do these, and adults can have fun embellishing them to make them rise above their humble origin.

 

Mona Risk Holiday CraftMona Risk, Book 5

Manger Built By Kids

Kids will love this craft, and parents will love it too because it takes a bit of time to complete which keeps the kids occupied on a cold winter’s day.

Building a manger is great team craft that the kids will want to do each year.

From year to year, you can see how their skills improve.

Jill James Holiay CraftJill James, Book 6

Crafty Gift Tags

I love this craft because it’s a wonderful way to recycle Christmas cards.

So many people send digital Christmas cards now that it’s a special treat to get a print card in the mail.

This craft will be a way to share the beauty of cards with those to whom you give presents. What a lovely way to make a present even more special.

Kristy Tate Holiday CraftKristy Tate, Book 7

Fan Chart

This craft was something totally new to me. It’s a way of making a family tree and incorporating that genealogy with a Bible verse.

Be sure and visit Kristy’s Blog to see her own Fan Chart.

What better time of the year to make your family tree than at Christmas.

Leigh Morgan Holiday CraftLeigh Morgan, Book 8

Christmas Fortune Candle

Leigh’s Holiday Craft was also new to me. It combines the warm glow of candles with the good wishes we give to our family and loved ones.

This unique craft is easy to make and sounds like a good gift idea too.

I plan to make some of these as party favors for our annual Christmas Open House.

Carol DeVaney Holiday GiftCarol DeVaney, Book 9

Christmas Tree Photo Decoration

Carol combines recycling with a great craft idea: tree decorations made from photographs and/or old Christmas cards.

The sky’s the limit with this craft. You can make them simple or embellish to your heart’s content.

Show off your kids and grandkids with a photo tree ornament.

Pepper Phillips Holiday CraftPepper Phillips, Book 10

Holiday Decorated Mailbox

Pepper has inspired me to decorate my mailbox. I never thought about doing that before, but it’s such a clever and cute idea.

She gives directions for decorating a mailbox next to the curb or highway and also for a mailbox mounted on your house.

Genius!

Stephanie Queen Holiday CraftStephanie Queen, Book 11

Drum Ornament

Stephanie’s Holiday Craft celebrates the beloved Christmas carol “Little Drummer Boy.”

You’ll notice that Stephanie may not have contributed her craft to the book yet. She’s been away taking care of family. The book will be updated when she returns.

In the meantime, just know that you can get an updated book file when her content is added.

Susan R. Hughes Holiday CraftSusan R. Hughes, Book 12  

Kid Friendly Christmas Crafts

Susan offers not 1 but multiple crafts that the kids can do, and the kids from young to older children will like these.

A Snowman. A Reindeer. A Snow Globe.

Stock up on supplies and let the kids make at least one of each. Perfect for a cold winter’s day.

 

Bella Street Holiday CraftBella Street

Christmas Card Putz House Ornament

Bella was not able to contribute a book to the Christmas on Main Street Romance Collection this year, but I’m thrilled that she was able to participate in the publishing of Holiday Decorating.

Her idea is so darling! The picture you see to the left is one of her Putz House Ornaments she made from a Christmas card. With her easy to follow instructions, we can all make this!

All the Links

Here are all the links mentioned above.

Holiday Decorating Video

Get free book, Holiday Decorating: Amazon * iTunes * Kobo * Nook

Buy Christmas on Main Street, a Romance Collection of 12 Novels, for only 99cents: Amazon * iTunes * Kobo * Nook

Post Script

Wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving with lots of great food, fun, family, and friends!

(Joan Reeves, author of funny, sexy Romance Novels, lives her happily ever after with her husband in the Lone Star State. Her books are available as ebooks and audiobooks. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free NL for writers, and WordPlay, a free NL for readers. Find Joan online: Blog, Website, Facebook, Twitter, & other social media. Her motto is the underlying theme of all her books: It’s never too late to live happily ever after!)

Titles Should Be Short—Or Long by Joan Reeves

Jane (I'm Still Single) Jones

Lots of southern charm, a 10-yr old betrayal, and a man and woman who should have ended up together.

There’s a rule that says book titles should be short. There’s another rule that says book titles should be long enough to attract attention. Sheesh! That’s the trouble with rules. No one can decide what the rule should be.

Readers will tell you that a great title attracts them. So how can an author come up with a really great titles? Some authors have a knack for this, and some struggle endlessly. Some authors have editors at publishing houses who decide what the title will be based on various factors.

Some of those factors might be previous use of the same title, some words in the title that the editor or someone in the editorial department doesn’t like, something in the title that was trendy or not trendy, etc. In other words, an author’s chance of using his own title was very small.

My first published book, Summer’s Fortune, which I’ll bring out as an indie published title next year, carried my title. No change. That was highly unusual.

Just One Look was my second traditionally published book. (Available at most ebook sellers; audio edition at Audible and iTunes.) That book’s title was changed 3 times. The third time proved the charm when the editor decided on Just One Look.

The only other title of mine that I was allowed to keep was Jane (I’m Still Single) Jones. I felt I had a good chance of keeping the title since it was highly unlikely that there were other published books with the same title. Plus, the editor liked the title a lot, and the title fit the story perfectly.

Popular Wisdom

The general opinion is that short titles are best — the shorter the better. Short titles can be memorable. Dean Koontz — or his editor — chose well with Phantoms, Lightning, Watchers, and so many other titles in his booklist. If you’ve read those books, you know those titles fit the books perfectly. Most of Mr. Koontz’s books bear short titles.

It’s hard to find an evocative 1 to 3 word title that gives a glimpse of even one of the important elements of a novel: the premise, plot, characters, theme, setting, etc. That’s when you start playing around with more words.

Long Titles Can Be Glorious

Forget short titles. Sometimes long titles just resonate with readers. Some authors gravitate to long titles over and over. Long, evocative titles that just sing like lyrics in a song. Who doesn’t love these titles?

Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead by James Lee Burke

Snow Falling On Cedars by David Guterson

Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Ecco

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain

Through a Glass Darkly by Karleen Koen

and my friend Cynthia Wicklund’s In the Garden of Temptation which began her Garden series.

Let’s not forget the thrillers by Stieg Larsson that made such a splash a few years ago:

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl Who Played With Fire.

None of the books above could possibly have a short title as evocative and memorable as the name they ended up carrying.

The Short & Long Of It

For the most part, I’ve had success with the titles I’ve chosen. They all say what the book is about, and they’re “catchy” and attract attention. (Leave a comment today with your email address and win a copy of Jane (I’m Still Single) Jones, my longest-title book.) I do know that I leave no word unturned in my search for the perfect title.

What do you like? Short? Long? Somewhere in between?

( Joan Reeves makes her home in Texas with her hero, her husband. She writes sassy Contemporary Romance with the underlying theme that is her motto: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.” Her books are available at most ebook sellers and audio editions at Audible and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and WordPlay, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Find Joan online: Blog, Website, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Deadly Deadlines

Business Woman w. Laptop

Image via clip art

This summer, the ladies here at the Authors of Main Street put out a new collection of novellas, focused on weddings. The Weddings on Main Street collection was well received, with more than twenty 4/5 Star Reviews, in just over a months time. I am just thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful group of writers, and more importantly, people. Working with them this summer on this, and future projects, has been a highlight.  It also led to new opportunities for me.

Thanks to the wedding boxed set, I created a wedding series that I planned to do on my own, outside of the set.  A publisher took interest, and offered me a contract. A publisher with whom I am very excited to be a part of their contemporary romance line. This means I am officially a hybrid, which I admit sounds a lot less cool than being an Indie. But it means an opportunity for me to possibly reach new readers, with the assistance of a larger budget and more resources, in terms of marketing. I was ecstatic with this change in circumstance, despite it making me sound like a really slow, hipster vehicle. 😛

The week I signed the contract I already had the first two books, in the series, written and was working on number three. It seemed like a piece of cake, a good old walk in the park, until I sat down at my laptop. Suddenly, I was working on someone else’s deadline, making use of someone else’s resources, and someone else would be counting on me to help make a name of their brand. YIKES!!

via clip art on microsoft

Image via clip art

It took me almost a week to write more than a sentence or two. It was driving me crazy. I certainly spent some time worried that I was going to ruin this opportunity. It was a case of the deadly deadlines. I am used to working on my schedule and suddenly, I couldn’t write at just any pace and I was accountable to someone other than myself. I had signed a contract for heaven’s sake.

At some point, I just had to get over it and work. Writing is what I do, what I love, and I would do it whether I was publishing or not. So, big girl panties on, I sat down and just did it!  It had to be done and the story was all in my head, I just needed to get over the jitters.

Some days words flow like crazy and I wish I didn’t have to stop for real life things, such as cooking dinner or picking my son up from school. Other days, I keep an eye on the clock, willing it to be the end of my scheduled work day. It’s a process and I am so excited to finish this series, work with this new publishing house, and reach out to a larger fan base with my book babies. It’s been a great summer professionally. In between my deadly deadline issues, the exciting release of Weddings on Main Street, and getting some work done on other projects, I did find time to enjoy summer vacation with the kid.

 

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On this blog we love authors and supporting them in this industry. So, I shared my deadline story now we want to hear about your next deadline or most recent one. We want to hear about your new release, if you have one. I don’t like the term “pimp your book”, so let’s call this a “Book Shout Out”. Let our readers know what you are up to and where to find you on social media, so they can track you down. Ready, set, gooooooooo!

*fyi: the readers here are mainly sweet to mild heat, so we ask you keep that in mind w/ any excerpts, descriptions or images you post about your stories. Thank you in advance!

Image via Flickr Creative Commons

Image via Flickr Creative Commons

Thanks for stopping by today, wish me luck readers and writers on this new hybrid adventure. I feel blessed to be able to do both and I cannot wait for the next installment of The Authors of Main Street, which you can expect out in early 2015! We are plotting and planning and scheming away. 🙂

Wishing you well in fiction and real life,

Kelly Rae

Why I Love Small Towns by Joan Reeves

The Trouble with Love by Joan ReevesWe have a place in the Texas Hill Country where we spend most weekends. It’s far away from just about everything. In fact, the closest small town of 700 people is about 10 miles away.

Perhaps the fact that I grew up in a small town explains my affection for those little enclaves of eccentrics. Sometimes, small town idiosyncrasies can stop a city dweller in his tracks, but I think they’re charming and endlessly entertaining.

In my contemporary romances, I return again and again to the small town setting. In my Texas One Night Stand series, both The Trouble With Love (Book 1, Texas One Night Stands) and Romeo and Judy Anne (Book 2, Texas One Night Stands) are set in small towns in the fictional Alton County, located in Texas of course.

Life in rural and small town America compared to city life has more differences than mere population statistics.

Business Is Different

In most small towns in Texas, business is conducted Monday through Friday, usually from 9 to 5, except at the grocery story which closes at 8pm at night. Offices are not open on Saturdays, and nothing but the grocery store is open on Sunday.

When you walk into a place of business in a small town, everyone smiles at you and seems pleased to assist you. When you make a purchase, the employee smiles and says: “I hope you have a wonderful day.” The smile actually seems sincere and what they say sounds genuine and heartfelt.

Popular Attractions

Church is the big attraction on Sunday. Every church—and there are usually several—has a full parking lot, and nearby streets are lined with cars and pickups too.

Water towers are often picturesque with written sentiments regarding high school loyalties or state championships, no matter how long ago or how obscure.

Towns are proud of their local high school athletic teams. If a regional or state championship was won, a sign attesting to that fact will be found somewhere in the town regardless of how many years have passed since the victory.

Old men pass the time of day sitting on park benches in front of stores. They whittle, not any kind of carving or sculpture, but just a stick they shave with a sharp pocket knife. They talk and whittle, with the pile of wood shavings growing in front of them. Some of the men chew tobacco or dip snuff. You can recognize them by the spit cup they carry around.

I’ll be returning to fictional Alton County this summer when I write book three of the Texas series, Forever Starts Tonight.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep people watching in the small towns I visit because I confess that the slower pace is enormously appealing to someone like me who has lived most of her adult life at warp speed.

(Joan Reeves writes funny, sexy Romance Novels. For your consideration, get your flirt on with any of her novels, available at most ebook sellers, with audio editions available at Audible and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and I LUV Books, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Visit Joan Online at SlingWords, her website, or follow on Twitter @JoanReeves and Facebook.

The Creative Mind

Creative people, create…while this is true it also doesn’t mean we are all created (oops I was punny) equal. I am one of the least crafty people you will meet. I do not collage, or scrapbook or use tulle for anything. Nor do I want to. Someone shows me a craft box and all I see is the mess that will need to be cleaned up when it’s all done. I tried sewing once and realized that, like many other areas in life, I do not have the patience for the job. You can only put that pedal to the metal so much and it still doesn’t make the pants all on its own. Which is a real shame, because I like pants. 🙂

People often assume because you have a creative mind that this extends beyond your abilities. I have a very creative mind when it comes to story telling. In high school I crafted wonderful lies for friends to tell their parents – for mild offenses I assure you. I wrote stories and poems from then until now, but don’t ask me to decoupage – it won’t be pretty. I have on occasion surprised myself with a flower arrangement or a really nice paper airplane.

I know enough about myself to respect my limitations. You want a hot love scene for a Valentine’s note to your husband – call me, I have references for this one. LOL Just don’t ask me to use glitter, guns or to Paper-Mache you a heart to go with the sexy talk.

So today I will share a different side of my writing and post a poem I wrote many moons ago and hope you enjoy!

La Jolla Cove, CA

Afraid to Swim

The ocean is deep and vast
All consuming and powerful
I am afraid to swim, to even float
It is far too glorious for a man such as me

You are like the ocean
My love, my heart, my mated soul
I am afraid to get lost in your sea
To be consumed in the fullness of emotion

Your sound roaring at times
Other times calming as a lullaby
Your touch warm and soft
Other times cold and rough

You are all that is glorious and heartbreaking
Every emotion tenfold
I fear that much power over me
I am a man afraid to swim

Safer waters make more sense
A woman with depths similar to a pool
Compared to your ocean
Someone in whom I will not get lost

I am a man afraid to swim
Yet drawn over and over to sit at your shore
Praying for the courage to walk in
The courage to take you as mine

For as long as the tides roar and recede
As long as the waves wash my soul clean
Time and time again
You are the fear I will face and never conquer

Thank you for stopping by today and many thanks for helping the Authors of Main Street be so successful in 2013. If you haven’t checked out our Amazon Bestseller just yet, please head over to Amazon, Barnes & Noble or iTunes to get a great deal on 11 stories, for only $2.99. It won’t be available for that much longer, but the good news is that we will be putting out a new set mid-year. So, please sign up for our newsletter (at the top of this page) and you will be the first to hear about the new boxed set.

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Kindly,

Kelly Rae

www.kellyraebooks.com

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@kellyraebooks twitter

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What Is A Romance Novel by Joan Reeves

Scents and Sensuality by Joan Reeves

Scents and Sensuality by Joan Reeves — Available Now!

What is a romance novel?

As a reader, you may be surprised that the answer to that question frequently is under discussion by romance authors and the main organization of romance authors.

Sure, you know that the romance novel is a literary genre, and that the primary focus in this genre is the relationship – the love – between two people. Once, publishers of romance novels demanded writers end the story with a happily ever after. Now, publishers often ask for writers to end stories with an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.

To me, there’s a huge difference between happily ever after and emotionally satisfying and optimistic. I suppose the new romance novel standard is supposed to reflect the cynicism of contemporary times.

A Teensy History

In 1740, Samuel Richardson penned Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded. Considered the first romantic novel, Pamela had two surprising elements that were different from other novels. First, it focused almost entirely on courtship. Second, the novel was told from the viewpoint of a female protagonist.

In the next century, the remarkable Jane Austen, whose Pride and Prejudice is often considered the pinnacle of the genre, came along. She inspired Georgette Heyer – I always think of her as the twentieth century Jane Austen – who introduced historical romances in 1921.

About 10 years later, a small British company called Mills and Boon began publishing what were called category romance novels – short books with a set number of pages and standard elements. The Mills and Boon romances were resold for a North American market by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. Harlequin marketed directly to readers and allowed mass-market merchandisers to sell the books too and the genre was off and running.

Then, in 1972, Avon published The Flame and The Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss, the first single title romance novel to be published as a paperback original, and the modern romance genre was born.

My How You’ve Grown

From then until now, there have been a lot of romance novels published. The genre has grown and given birth to sub-genres of every possible variation. It has become the most popular genre in North America where it accounts for more than half of all paperback books sold.

Romance isn’t just a North America phenomenon. The genre is also popular in Europe, the UK, and Australia. In fact, romance novels are published in more than 90 languages.

Hey, Girls! Guess What?

For years, the romance novel was decried as being lowbrow and read by women who were out of touch with reality. We’re not out of touch with reality. We just know what we want. Sadly, many women don’t get that overwhelming love and romanticism from the men in their lives, but many women do have that.

I sometimes think a good romance novel sets the standard for the kind of love and romance a woman wants in a relationship. If a man really wants to know what a woman wants, he should read a good romance novel.

I find it heartwarming — and a bit ironic — that our beloved genre is now the most popular, best selling genre of all time. Tell that to your romance-dissing acquaintances the next time they start talking about how romance novels aren’t “real” books!

With all the changes and growth in the romance genre, I guess it’s not surprising that the happily ever after morphed into the optimistic and satisfying. But, I’m not willing to give up my happily ever after – in real life or fiction.

Maybe, it’s because the traditional ending is all about love — lasting love. Today, in the wake of so much death and destruction in the news, I find myself thinking about the importance of love. In the end, it’s the most important thing in anyone’s world.

With the romance novels I write, like my latest novel, SCENTS and SENSUALITY, I aim high. I want that happily ever after for my characters, not just an optimistic, satisfying ending.

After all, I always say my motto is: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.” And I believe that.

Post Script

What’s your favorite kind of ending for a romance novel?

(Joan Reeves writes sassy, sexy Romance Novels. Her latest novel, indeed all her ebooks, are available at most ebook sellers, with audio editions available at Audible and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and Wordplay, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Visit SlingWords, Joan’s Blog, or her Website.)