Book birthday: scoring a second chance

Today, please welcome authors Liz Crowe and Desiree Holt! These two romance authors have teamed up for a joint project that is hot off the press. Take a peek at Numbers Game!

Former pro football player and coach Duncan “Hatch” Hatcher fumbled his career and marriage. Now divorced and ready to tackle his future, he has an opportunity to redeem himself as coach of his college alma mater’s football team. But how can he turn the team’s losing streak around and keep the secret of his downfall buried when the school agrees to a documentary that will allow a lovely journalist to dig her way into his past…and into his heart?

Former pro football player and coach Duncan “Hatch” Hatcher fumbled his career and marriage. Now divorced and ready to tackle his future, he has an opportunity to redeem himself as coach of his college alma mater’s football team. But how can he turn the team’s losing streak around and keep the secret of his downfall buried when the school agrees to a documentary that will allow a lovely journalist to dig her way into his past…and into his heart?

Olivia Grant’s ex-husband almost wrecked her journalism career while he definitely did a number on her self-esteem. The documentary on Duncan Hatcher is the perfect way to rebuild both. As a freshman in college, she’d had a crush on the senior football hero, but he hadn’t known she existed. She never expects the sparks that fly between them as they work on the project nor the struggles they must face if they both want to win.

The book, a contemporary romance with a sports theme, is available in a number of retail outlets. Pick up your copy here: UNIVERSAL BUY LINK

Excerpt:

Excerpt:

Hatch winced at the memory of how goofy he must have sounded to the lovely woman he was going to be having a fair bit of contact with this season. Olivia Grant was, without a doubt, beautiful, not to mention sexy as hell. She was a natural reporter, putting him at ease, even in the face of his high-school-ish reaction to her at first. But dear Lord, the crap he’d said? That shit about her being “better than she thought” at the race? And “looking for a foot in the door”? He’d sounded about as slick as the grandpas he’d been named for.

He groaned and pressed his forehead to the leather blotter on his new desk. After his divorce, he’d made a point not to notice women, something that was a bit of a self-imposed penalty. But there was no not noticing Olivia. Her soft, dark blonde hair that kept dropping over one of her deep green eyes as she’d look down at her notes, then back up at him. That smile, and those full, barely lip-sticked lips. And there was no denying she had a body that would be hard to shake out of his brain. Scott had told him she used to play soccer here, a few years behind him as an undergrad. How he’d not known her… Granted, he hadn’t been a big partier then, kept mostly to himself and his close group of friends and, as always, focused on the game.

But damn. He’d missed out on something then, without a doubt. He felt his face flush red and his entire body begin to react in ways that didn’t really serve him well as a fully grown man, with plenty of experience under his belt, so to speak.

Thankfully, she’d left before he could embarrass himself any more.

Home. Shower. Beer. Stare at a string of old movies on the giant television screen. Anything to get the lovely Olivia Grant and all her many attributes out of his head. She was, after all, the media. And everyone knew how he felt about the media.

It was get-a-grip time—on all parts of himself.

This was his chance at redemption. The opportunity was a godsend, considering the sorry state he’d left his life in on the west coast, and he didn’t intend to do anything to screw it up. He couldn’t afford to get distracted by a single thing. But how the hell was he going to do that when Olivia Grant might prove to be the biggest distraction of all?

Introducing Desiree:

USA Today best-selling and award-winning author Desiree Holt writes everything from romantic suspense and contemporary on a variety of heat levels up to erotic, a genre in which she is the oldest living author. She has been referred to by USA Today as the Nora Roberts of erotic romance, and is a winner of the EPIC E-Book Award, the Holt Medallion and a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice nominee. She has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and in The Village Voice, The Daily Beast, USA Today, The (London) Daily Mail, The New Delhi Times and numerous other national and international publications. 

FACEBOOK AUTHOR PAGE

www.facebook.com/desireeholtauthor 

FACEBOOK PROFILE

http://www.facebook.com/desiree01holt 

TWITTER

 @desireeholt

FACEBOOK AUTHOR PAGE

www.facebook.com/desireeholtauthor 

FACEBOOK PROFILE

http://www.facebook.com/desiree01holt 

TWITTER

 @desireeholt

Pinterest: desiree02holt

Signup for my newsletter and receive a free book:
https://desireeholt.com/newsletter/

Introducing Liz:

Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville living in Central Illinois. She’s spent her time as a three-continent expat trailing spouse, mom of three, real estate agent, brewery owner and bar manager, and is currently a social media consultant and humane society development director, in addition to being an award-winning author. With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, inside fictional television stations and successful real estate offices, and even in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are compelling and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, at times frustrate, and always linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.

TWITTER

http://www.facebook.com/lizcroweauthor

FACEBOOK AUTHOR PAGE

INSTAGRAM

https://www.instagram.com/etlizcrowe/

http://www.lizcrowe.com

WEBSITE

https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/r2a2q5

NEWLETTER SIGN UP/FREE BOOK

Happy book birthday to Liz, Desiree and Numbers Game, and happy reading to all of you!

Darlene

Valentine Smooches for You! XOXO

Ahh, the kiss . . . affectionate peck . . . spine-tingling tease . . . soul-scorching lip lock . . . Anyone seen the movie Cinema Paradiso? Remember how the movie man, Alfredo, had to cut out all the kissing scenes from the movies, and then he put them all together on a reel for Salvatore? It’s a great montage of kisses!

Here’s a kiss reel of literary smooches! Enjoy! TSBU kiss

Reed leaned closer, his breath warm on her cheek. She braced herself for a friendly peck, but when her eyes fluttered shut, his lips grazed hers. Hovered there, and when she thought her legs might give out, Reed caught her arm and pulled her slightly toward him, his lips covering hers again.

He threaded one hand into her hair while the other tipped her chin.

Sparks exploded in her brain, and she grabbed hold of his arm. All of her senses came alive and responded to the unexpected deluge.

A long moment later, he pulled back and brushed a thumb across her cheek. “See you in about an hour.”

Kristen couldn’t speak but managed a nod. As soon as the door closed behind him, she collapsed against the sofa and ran a finger along her bottom lip. That kiss…Oh, man. The chances of her getting any writing done this weekend just dropped from unlikely to who-said-anything-about-writing?  The Story Between Us/Sweet contemporary romance by Darlene Deluca https://www.amazon.com/Story-Between-Us-Darlene-Deluca-ebook/dp/B08DCVKMWV/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=darlene+deluca&qid=1612996833&s=books&sr=1-1

“This is the proof we need. Oh, Tom. Thank you!” Becky grasped his shoulders and lifted on her toes, aiming for his cheek. 

Instinctively, he turned his head and their lips brushed in a brief kiss. Simmering desire roared into a full-blown bonfire. But she jerked away before he could get his arms around her and draw her into the flames with him.

“I-I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to,” she stammered. 

“I’m sorry you didn’t mean to as well.”  Tom Sawyer Returns by E.E. Burke https://www.amazon.com/Tom-Sawyer-Returns-New-Adventures-ebook/dp/B08S9RF6TQ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=K39HI2UMGFX8&dchild=1&keywords=ee+burke&qid=1613157930&sprefix=EE+Bur%2Cstripbooks%2C168&sr=8-1

“I…You…” He groaned and pulled her toward him, brushing his lips against hers. They were soft, giving, like everything about her. After the intractability of his father, he welcomed the change.

He needed the change. But he needed Dina more.

She gripped his elbows, and he kissed her. She tasted like wine and chocolate. His hands memorized the outline of her body beneath her sweater. In a corner of his mind he wondered if his hands distracted her as much as hers distracted him. Because hers currently played with the hair on the back of his neck and sent chills along his spine.

The thought came to him in a rush of panic. Like everyone else he’d ever cared for, she would leave him. 

He leaned forward, determined to make her stay. The gearshift dug into his rib, but he ignored the jab, needing to get closer. Pulling her against him, he traced kisses along her jaw. He nuzzled the skin behind her ear, smiling as she gasped. When her mouth opened, he plunged his tongue inside. She stilled before her tongue met his.  Learning to Love/contemporary romance by Jennifer Wilck On sale for 99 cents through 2/19 https://www.amazon.com/Learning-Love-Serendipity-Book-3-ebook/dp/B07J49V5SP

lips_PNG6198

Mandi leaned toward him, opened her mouth, and wiggled the pretzel on the tip of her tongue.

The invitation in her eyes stole his breath like a punch to the solar plexus. He moved in, ready to retrieve the pretzel. Just as their breath mingled, she quickly drew it back into her mouth. He helped himself to a handful of curls and landed a hard kiss on her lips instead. “You are a tease,” he said near her ear. “And you’ll pay for it.”

Laughing, she grazed his hand with her fingers. “Come on. One more dance then we go?”

Her whisper-soft touch sent an electrical current buzzing across his skin. “Yeah,” he managed. Something Good/contemporary romance by Darlene Deluca https://www.amazon.com/Something-Good-Darlene-Deluca-ebook/dp/B00J8UN1GI/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=darlene+deluca&qid=1612998121&s=books&sr=1-3

If Allison had ever imagined she would kiss Shane again in this lifetime, she would have imagined it this way. So sweet she wanted to die, so hard she tasted the need and the loneliness that bubbled up in both of them.

A sigh escaped her, and only drew him closer, and then he slipped the robe from her shoulders. He kissed her there and in the curve of her neck. When her knees buckled, he caught her and lifted her as if she was a wisp of marshland mist, a will-o-the-wisp. He sank onto the sofa, cradling her. She curled into his lap, put her arms around his neck, and kissed him again with all the heart of the young girl who’d first fallen in love with Shane McBride.  Will o’ the Wisp/ contemporary romantic suspense by Lucy Naylor Kubash http://lucynaylorkubash.com

“I can’t date the parent of one of my students.”

“What?”

His eyes narrowed as they bore into her.

“Is that a school policy?”

She looked away. “No. It’s not an official policy. But it’s not the way I operate.”

“Kate, I’m not married. It’s not like we’d be having an affair or something.”

“It just doesn’t look right, and I don’t ever want any suspicion of favoritism or inappropriate behavior.”

“Ah. I see.” He was quiet for a moment.

When she finally looked up, his mouth claimed hers. Heat surged through Kate, and her mind reeled as his lips moved over hers, warm and searching.

His hands pressed her back, and he stepped closer, deepening the kiss.

When he abruptly pulled back, she tightened her grip on his arm, dazed and unsteady.

“Might be time to re-think your position,” he said, lightly brushing his thumb against her lips.

Her lips were still buzzing when he closed the door behind him.  Unexpected Legacy/sweet contemporary romance by Darlene Deluca https://www.amazon.com/Unexpected-Legacy-Darlene-Deluca-ebook/dp/B00AW5NTC4/ref=sr_1_7?dchild=1&keywords=darlene+deluca&qid=1612999943&s=books&sr=1-7

ZlbU4GUQGmcEJH-BnpBF90H0mFFPOri_l1pTObBOfv8V-hW8Pas6KonFjnWAROshKGgPP3f-yaB7oXZMy4ICNcROVw-1q91A5Fnc

She examined her face in the bathroom mirror. She appeared as she felt—wasted. As she splashed cold water on her face, she heard knocking at the door. Drying her face and hands, she shuffled to the door and peered through the peephole. She opened the door and feasted on the sight of Aiden’s tall, powerful body looming above her. 

Without hesitation, Aiden wrapped an arm around her waist. As he closed the door with his foot, he gathered her to him and buried his face in her hair. Leila held on, burrowing close. On auto-pilot, she tilted her head. He captured her lips in a long drugging kiss as he buried his hands in her hair. For a few minutes, her world righted before she remembered where she was and why she was there. Breaking the kiss, she pulled away. She stepped back and wrapped her arms around herself.  Gravity by Mona Sedrak https://books2read.com/ap/8Yo0OQ/Mona-Sedrak

She drew herself up to full height, which was middling tall for a woman. “Noah is your brother,” she began, “If you can’t be bothered—”

    “Oh, I’m bothered, Miz Bramwell,” he said. “I’m tired and I’m hungry. I’m paying you to take care of—” 

    “And I’m telling you your brother needs your discipline,” she said, taking a step closer. 

He stepped toward her also. “If you calm down and tell me what he done—” 

“It’s did, Mr. Pershing. What he did was—” 

At her correction, Zeke saw red.

Her dark eyes glared at him and her mouth curved in a pout.

So he kissed her.  My Hope Secured/historical fiction by Theresa Hupp https://www.amazon.com/My-Hope-Secured-Frontier-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B07ZQM7SWP

“Janet,” he said, “you don’t want to get involved with me.”

       “I do,” she said. She bent her head and kissed him, gently at first. Then, as he began to respond, she slid her hand under his shirt and rested her palm on his warm, solid chest. She felt his heart beating.

       When at last she drew away, Wes looked at her for a long moment. Then he put his hands behind her head and pulled her back down to him.  Stranger in the Storm/romantic suspense by Patricia McAlexander https://patriciamcalexander.weebly.com

I held her close. She stroked my hair. With a thought I flipped the lights off; with another closed the wing of the piano. In the moonlight, I laid the woman of my dreams on top of the nine-foot concert grand, and I kissed her.

Breathing ragged, heart pounding, I stood back to worship her. I kissed her beautiful long neck, losing all consciousness except the wonders of her and the wonder that she was at last with me. I trailed my lips to her collarbone. She groaned, softly pleading.

Isabeau was trembling, her pupils so dilated her lavender blue eyes looked black.  Sinners’ Opera/Paranormal Romance (Vampire) by Linda Nightingale https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07X3RSRXQ/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i6

She leaned to kiss his cheek. An innocent gesture—until he suddenly turned to face her. Her lips landed firmly upon his.

Danielle should have backed away…should have resisted the temptation to explore. 

An explosion of tingles ignited from the tips of her curled toes to her fingertips as she received an immediate response. He tasted delicious.  Kissed By Winter/Sweet Contemporary Romance by Darlene Fredette  https://www.amazon.com/Kissed-Winter-Redford-Falls-Novel-ebook/dp/B08DZ6ZW2V/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=Darlene+Fredette&qid=1613157289&s=books&sr=1-3

She had so not expected this, was totally unprepared for the way her body heated at his touch. His tongue swept into her mouth, stroking her tongue over and over until her knees turned to water and she had to grip his biceps to stay upright. He tasted hot, and a little desperate. Desperate for her. Her body arched toward him, his thumbs leaving a trail of fire in their wake.  

He stopped kissing her and she wanted to whimper in protest, to beg him not to stop. He leaned his forehead against hers, breathing heavily as his hands gripped her hips.

“Don’t go.” His voice was a rough whisper. “Stay with me tonight.”  To Heal A Heart/small town contemporary romance by Jana Richards https://www.amazon.com/Heal-Heart-Masonville-Book-ebook/dp/B0875SLGK6 

With his hands on her shoulders, Lane leaned in then planted a kiss on her cheek. That’s all he intended to do, but it was out of his control. As if some magnetic force surrounded them, they were propelled toward each other. He couldn’t pull away. And neither did she. Another second, and his lips found hers.

Her hands gripped his arms, and he deepened the kiss, his lips moving over hers with need and urgency, oblivious to everything around them.

When she let out a soft whimper, he broke off the kiss and pulled her against his chest, burying his face in her hair.  Something Good/contemporary romance by Darlene Deluca https://www.amazon.com/Something-Good-Darlene-Deluca-ebook/dp/B00J8UN1GI/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=darlene+deluca&qid=1612998121&s=books&sr=1-3

I walked him to the door, resolved to say good night and for once not mean goodbye. I didn’t want him to go.

“Stay.” I laid my head against his chest. “We can sleep on the Castro.”

His shudder was rewarding.

“If you only knew how long I’ve wanted to hear you ask me. Jesus.” He laughed, a shy embarrassed sound that gladdened my heart. “I can’t believe I’m about to say this.” He took a deep breath. “We shouldn’t. Not tonight.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m not sure we’d be doing it out of love.” He looked at me with a question in his gaze. “I don’t want us to make love because we’re afraid.”

I frowned, my heart heavy, my spirit desperate to disagree, but unable to.

“Okay.” I sighed, but still clung to him. “Not tonight. But soon. And for the rest of our lives.”

“Soon. And for the rest of our lives.”

He cupped my face in both his hands then kissed me in our mutual agreement. Equal parts of nervousness and desire quivered in my belly. I liked the sensation, felt warmed as I imagined what soon would be like.  Haunted Serenade/gothic romance by Anna M. Taylor https://amzn.to/3aXifyu

Elmer slid his truck into a spot outside Margot’s apartment building, switched off the ignition, and sucked in a deep breath. Normally, he’d just ask for a good-night kiss. No big deal. But something about this tough little pixie urged caution and patience. Tonight, she’d loosened her armor just enough to glimpse the vulnerable softness beneath. If he wanted to see more, and he really, really did, he’d have to go slow.

   He took her hand and paused. When she didn’t pull away, he raised it to his lips. But before he could make contact, she made a funny grunting sound deep in her throat, tugged him close, and planted a wet smooch right on his mouth, her lips as soft and succulent as a ripe peach. For a second he froze. Then lust stomped on the gas. He crushed her against his chest and claimed what she offered.

   Rain pattered on the cracked windshield. In the darkness outside, the tires of passing cars hissed on wet asphalt. Inside, only the sound of their shallow breathing and the pounding of his heart, so damn loud she must surely hear it.

   Without releasing her, he pulled back just far enough to gaze into her face. Her deep blue eyes gleamed under the streetlamp’s feeble light.

   Her lips parted. “Wow, I uh…wow.” A deep blush painted her cheeks.  Love, Art, and Other Obstacles/contemporary romance by Sadira Stone https://books2read.com/u/bar2RP 

John smiles and cups the back of my head and we fall into a kiss. Our tongues dance together in sort of a slippery, erotic tango. I move closer to him and grasp his arm. I’m falling fast and hard and I don’t know how to stop myself. Not that I want to.

He pulls away first and holds my face between his hands. Then he kisses the tip of my nose. His lips travel to my cheek, my chin, and end at the nape of my neck, leaving me a hot, melting blob.

“Ace,” he whispers, we haven’t known each other long, and I know it might sound crazy, but I think I might be falling in love with you.”

Did I hear him right? My blob-self melts to a puddle on the floor. I pull it together long enough to say, “Thanks,” and pour myself out the door.  Cherokee Summer/ YA Romance by Susan Antony https://www.amazon.com/Cherokee-Summer-Susan-Antony-ebook/dp/B07L7GLGRG/

Shay turned to leave, but before she could walk away, Aden grasped her arm and pulled her to his chest.

“Uh-uh, no leaving before I get a kiss goodbye.”

Not one for PDAs, Shay glanced around. The coast was clear. She reached around his neck and pulled him in, giving him a fierce, swift kiss, then stepped back.

“Hey,” he complained, trying to get her back.

“I’ve got to go.” She giggled and danced out of his reach.  Rock House Grill/Romantic Suspense by D. V. Stone https://www.dvstoneauthor.com/

Catalina dove into the pool. Barely disturbing the surface, she cut through the water. Her hair flowed across he shoulders, tickling her with a feather’s touch. Five minutes passed. She looked to her left and saw Bonhomme resting against the side of the pool, elbows propped on the tile gutter. She swam a few more laps, then stopped and dipped her head back into the water.

 She waded toward Bonhomme. He reached out, pulled her close and held her with warm comforting hands. He placed a thoughtful kiss on her lips, moving to her neck and back to her lips again. He tasted her, then pulled away.  Return of the French Blue/suspense/women’s fiction by Pamela Boles Eglinski https://www.amazon.com/Return-French-Blue-centuries-International-ebook/dp/B008BDBKTS

He stepped closer, cupped her face in his hands, his thumbs resting on her cheeks, his exploring fingers spread into her hair.

He bent forward and kissed her on the lips. His long hair tickled her face, and intensely aware of his hard body, she let his strength call to her. His gentle tone tugged on heartstrings she never knew she possessed, and the sweet warmth of his touch lured her to lean into his hand. This close, his eyes were intense flecks of green, brown, and gold trapped within a black ring.

If he used magic on her, she didn’t care. All thoughts of the Guardians vanished. Nothing mattered. Only them. Only Cress. He created a longing in her that overshadowed everything else.

Her heart quickened and pulsated in a nice way. Maybe she could add lover to their relationship. A delightful shudder of anticipation rippled through her. — Woman in the Woods/ Fantasy romance by Darcy Carson https://www.amazon.com/Woman-Woods-Dragons-Return-Book-ebook/dp/B082S77VQ9/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=darcy+carson&qid=1613068531&sr=8-4

♥ Hope you enjoyed all those kisses! Happy Valentine’s Day to all! ♥

The Perfect Place for a Valentine Smooch!

Valentine’s Day weekend is the perfect day to think about kisses and romance. So on the blog today and tomorrow, it’s all about the smooch! First up, let’s talk about the perfect kissy locations! Many thanks to Janet McLaren, my favorite travel agent, for putting together this top-10 list for getting the perfect kiss pic!

lips_PNG6198

Here’s how to get them of you and YOUR sweetie:

  1. On the back deck of a cruise ship. Position yourselves so that you get the wake of the ship in the shot. Works well with a clear sky, interesting clouds, or a sunset. Better yet if your kiss is over a couple of glasses of champagne!
  2. Near an iconic structure. A classic fave is from Warsaw Square in Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the background! The Leaning Tower of Pisa is also a great example, because there’s a grassy lawn in front of it with plenty of space for crafting the perfect romantic backdrop.
  3. On a gondola ride in Venice. Get two shots — one with the city and canal behind you, and one with your gondolier in his jaunty striped shirt. I know it sounds “touristy,” but trust me on this one!
  4. In front of a waterfall. Really, just about any one will do, but may I suggest Niagara Falls? It’s big enough to create a wow! moment and a very splashy photo. Falls
  5. Near an iconic bridge. Probably nowhere is as glam as the Golden Gate Bridge framing the glory of San Francisco (drive to View Vista Point on the north side), but other famous bridges like the Brooklyn Bridge, Tower Bridge in London, or Liberty Bridge in Budapest are equally romance-inducing.
  6. In a colorful field of tulips. If you can’t make it to The Netherlands for this one, try a tulip festival near home! My faves are the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival outside of Mt. Vernon, Washington; the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival of Woodburn, Oregon, and the miles of tulip fields ablaze during Holland, Michigan’s famous Tulip Time festival (May 1-9 this year, but skip the crowds and go the week after).
  7. At the swim-up bar of a swanky all-inclusive beach resort. Order some fancy cocktails then have someone photograph your toast to romance! Be sure they get some palm trees in the background for maximum romantic effect.
  8. IMG_5364From the beach as the sun is setting. “Sunset beaches” are the best beaches! Think Panama City Beach, Florida (or really, about anywhere on the Florida Gulf Coast); Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; or Kaanapali Beach, Maui. If you’re in Hawaii, don’t forget your leis!
  9. In front of a showy fountain. If you can get there early enough to beat the crowds, then there’s no fountain as romantic as Trevi Fountain in Rome. Another lovely spot that happens to offer a variety of background options is the Raices Fountain in San Juan, Puerto Rico — I remember helping a couple there once with some fun off-angled pix (don’t be afraid to play around with your poses). And if you’re ever in Mazatlan, Mexico, don’t miss the dancing dolphins fountain on the waterfront!
  10. Up in the mountains. America is full of scenic wonders that make for dazzling romantic pix! Think Aspen, Colorado; Tucson, Arizona; Stowe, Vermont; and just about any of our fabulous national parks. Pro tips: if you’re at the Grand Canyon do not stand too close to the edge; and in Yellowstone stay away from the bison, they really hate getting their pictures taken with tourists.

If you need more romantic travel ideas, Janet can fix you up! 866-592-7351 | 972-231-0066 | jmclaren@cruiseplanners.com | www.cruiseplanforyou.com

All right now, don’t be shy! Tell us about your favorite smoochy spot!

 

Wrap up in a Piece of Art!

Hello, everyone! Continuing my series on women who are in business, entrepreneurs or just doing something cool, today I’m featuring Kansas City fiber artist Lauri Davidson. I had the privilege of working with Lauri for a short while, and I can tell you she creates fabulous pieces – I’m especially partial to her unique and colorful scarves.

First, tell us a little about your job/activity. What is your role/position?

I am an artist who creates with fabric and raw fibers like wool and silk. I tend to look for new ways to manipulate and create wearable works of art which I sell through a wonderful little art gallery called Eclectics Gift Gallery in Kansas City’s Waldo area. I became a member in January 2014. This is a co-op of 10-12 member artists who work together to run the shop. Each artist takes on a specific job to operate and maintain the shop and works in the shop several times a month. It’s the perfect opportunity to have time to create but also interact with customers and the other members about art.

image1(1)

IMG_8989What’s a typical day look like? 

Well, every day is a new adventure lately. Generally, I get moving to purrs and meows from our little family of kitties who require some morning chores. Usually by mid morning, I get to my studio with my fuzzy helpers to create or research how to make an idea I have in my head. It’s all about taking the pictures from my head to reality.

On days I spend at Eclectics, I usually prepare the night before tagging products, or organizing projects that I might work on in the shop. At the shop, it is a combination of greeting customers and getting things done around the shop. It could be restocking, checking for holes in displays or just cleaning up.

What do you love about it? 

I love working with customers who love art. It doesn’t need to be my art, but they love art and appreciate the creative process. Next, I love the creating process although sometimes I get too many ideas, and I just have to make a list so that I don’t forgetter things I want to try. Last, I enjoy working with a group of creative talented women whose creativity is amazing and inspiring. 

Tell us about your journey. Did you always want to do this?

I taught high school English, yearbook, newspaper and video for 27 years at Raytown High School. I loved working with the kids to develop the creative ideas especially in the publication classes. When I retired in 2013, it was my turn to create. I grew up with a mother who was always creating and is an incredible quilter, so working with fabric and sewing came naturally. I joined the Kansas City Fiber Guild and participated in their yearly show Creative Hand. While working with the KC Fiber Guild, I discovered Eclectics.

What do you wish people knew about your business?

This business has endured so many changes and challenges since its inception in 1991, and it has continued to survive and offer Kansas City a place to find the most unique gifts and art. Next year, Eclectics will celebrate 30 years. It has allowed many artists a place to share their artwork.

image0(2)

What do you bring to your field/job that you think is special?

I think I have a creative eye especially for color. I love playing with different tones and color combinations. Also, I love to take found items and redirect their purpose. I often upcycle fabric from thrift store clothing. At the store, I enjoy helping customers find that perfect gift solution or art piece that makes them smile.

What is your favorite book/movie/quote?

I always loved teaching Romeo and Juliet. For 27 years, I taught freshman English, and one of my favorite units was Romeo and Juliet. In his day, Shakespeare wrote for the masses and spoke to all the classes of society. The themes in Romeo and Juliet reached kids at all levels. At times, my struggling students would identify with the characters’ difficult situations. I loved watching a student light up because he/she/they suddenly “got” it and discovered they could relate to the character’s struggle.

Where can we find/follow you on social media?

https://www.eclecticskc.com

https://www.facebook.com/EclecticsGallery

Your website: https://www.milostoes.com

Thanks for sharing with us today, Lauri! If you have questions for Lauri, ask them here then be sure to check out her amazing wearable art on her social media sites. #supportsmallbusiness

As always, happy reading to all!

Darlene

Singing brings Joy

Hello, friends! Here’s another spotlight in my series on women who are in business, entrepreneurs, or doing something cool!

Today I’d like to introduce you to Kansas City singer/songwriter and all-around fabulous musician Joy Zimmerman! I’ve seen Joy perform numerous times, and it’s always uplifting, motivating and just plain fun! Her music is an extension of her generous and joyful spirit. Welcome, Joy!

First, tell us a little about your job/activity. What is your role/position?

I’m a touring (in usual times) Singer/songwriter and Creative Director at Joy Zimmerman Music. Although eclectic, most of my music falls into the Acoustic/Folk/Americana camp. I love playing solo or with other musicians, and it’s mighty fun telling stories with my original songs and favorite cover tunes

Joy Sinclair's

What’s a typical day look like?

Not surprisingly, there are no typical days. My activities include songwriting, booking and playing gigs, practicing, designing set lists, taking lessons, creating videos and social media content, writing blogs and newsletters, recording songs, marketing, attending webinars and music conferences, formulating workshops and retreats, volunteering, updating my website, creating “Cultivate Joy” merchandise, and filling orders.  

What do you love about it?

I absolutely love sharing the gift of music and community with audiences. It’s gratifying to hear that a song you’ve written is meaningful to others.

Some of Joy’s favorite lyrics:

Well, my friend, the chasm is o’er us

Echoes sing when quiet the night

Let us whisper of simple and hopeful

To carry us into time

Tell us about your journey. Did you always want to do this?

Beginning with lessons at age five, I played violin seriously through college but ultimately chose to pursue social work. While my sons were young, I reinvented myself by deciding to learn to play guitar, join my first band, take singing lessons, and try songwriting. All roads have led here.

What do you wish people knew about your business?

In addition to everything music, being a singer/songwriter means running a small business. 

Joy Zimmerman Live in Kansas City
Joy Zimmerman live CD recording at Carl Butler’s Gospel Lounge in Kansas City, MO

What do you bring to your field/job that you think is special?

Many of my social work skills translate well to performing and creating community. I have lots of life experiences to write about, and I’m curious and adventurous.  

What is your favorite book/movie/quote?

I love this quote: “Make connections; let rip; and dance where you can.” ~Annie Dillard

I love this current movie: “Enola Holmes”

I love this book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Where can we find/follow you on social media?

Let’s stay connected! You can find me on Facebook (Joy Zimmerman Music and a personal page) and on Instagram. I’m currently posting a weekly “What’s Up Wednesday” video series on Facebook, and I have a YouTube Channel. Follows and likes are always appreciated 🙂 

website: joyzimmermanmusic.com

Thanks for joining us today, Joy! Best wishes with your new release. Hope to see you on tour next year! Dear readers, if you haven’t already, I encourage you all to visit Joy’s website and tune in to Joy’s Facebook video series or have a listen on her YouTube. Come back here and let us know which tune gets stuck in your head! Have a question for Joy? Ask it here!

Happy listening and reading to all!

Darlene

 

 

Bringing talent to the table

Hello, everyone! Hope you are enjoying a nice fall! I’m starting a new blog feature today. In this series, I spotlight a woman in business or running an entrepreneurial enterprise, or doing something just plain cool! Today, please welcome my favorite travel agent, Janet McLaren!

Standing shot from Valerie

  1. Tell us a little about your job.

Hi Darlene! Thanks for the opportunity to talk about my travel business – there is so much a person can gain by experiencing the world that I just think everyone should get out there, and I’m thrilled to help them do it! So that’s what I do – take care of the practicalities of the getting there, the bookings, the experiences they want, the must-dos and don’t bothers, and all the little things that make a trip a success.

I’ve been doing it professionally for over 16 years, mostly as a franchisee with Cruise Planners, which I chose because it has the prestige of affiliation with American Express. I’ve traveled myself extensively throughout the Unites States, including Alaska and Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, and Canada. But the most thrilling trip of all, so far, has been a safari in Tanzania and Kenya!

  1. What does a typical day look like?

I start off with a bunch of coffee going through emails and news, then organizing what’s on my calendar and errands and such. Usually by the afternoon I’m in “research mode” on client projects, then it’s call-backs and follow-up, and answering emails again. It’s surprisingly exhausting, so I take several breaks, including one about 3:30 to feed a very hungry and persistent furry cat!

  1. What do you love about it?

Since I work from an office in my house the commute is very short, and I can drink coffee all day if I want, haha! I have great resources to work with, so I can almost always find just what a client wants and it’s very satisfying to put a plan together from beginning to end. Then when they come back from their trip and tell me what an amazing time they had it’s like frosting on the cake.

  1. Tell us about your journey. Did you always want to do this?

Before I bought my Cruise Planners franchise, I was a refugee from the restaurant business! My husband and I owned four fast-food places in small towns in Oklahoma, but he didn’t love it like I did, so after seven years we sold out. Then we moved to Dallas for the educational opportunities for our two sons (one graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas, and the other became a surgical technician after joining the Navy). Steve returned to sales in the food industry, which he had a more natural talent for and enjoyed.

I sold furniture for a while, which I also liked, but when the economic downtown slowed the furniture industry after 9-11, it wasn’t so lucrative to be working all those nights and weekends. Then a friend told me he knew someone managing a travel agency who needed a trainee, so I interviewed for that and got hired! I had planned most of our trips by myself so I knew I could do it for others; but I had also used travel agents for our more elaborate vacations and was aware of the value and expertise they could add.

But before I took the job, I tried out some do-it-yourself travel websites to see if there was still a viable market for travel agents. As I soon found myself befuddled and overwhelmed on the internet, I said to myself, “Oh yes, people will definitely be looking for help with this stuff!” We then went on a cruise, so I could be sure I had the “heart” for it (I book all kinds of travel but cruising is the major focus), and I absolutely loved it.

Us w Selemani (2)

  1. What do you bring to your field that you think is special?

Turns out I have many talents! The main goal is to match the right vacation/supplier/destination to the client’s wishes, and I am first of all very good at figuring that out and researching the best options. Next, I would say having a high tolerance for frustration and problem-solving; not because there are that many “problems,” but because each client is unique in their needs. Mostly it’s things like: cruise cabins tend to allow up to four people, but the family has three kids – how to best arrange accommodation for five. Or a tour they like is 12 days but they can only take 10 days off – how to customize the trip just for them. And then I’d say there is general knowledge of the best times to go places, how far out to book in order to get the best fares, and that sort of thing.

  1. What do you wish people knew about your business?

Great question – I would say, I wish they knew that I am not a “middleman.” There’s no upcharge for my services and payments go directly to the supplier, not to me. I’m paid by the supplier after the travel is completed. People have been sold on the idea that somehow “buying direct” would save them money, which I suppose could be true for home goods and such, but that’s just a marketing gimmick not applicable to travel. Travelers are better off with their own agent who can be their advocate and who can offer an assortment of options besides just the supplier’s – for example if you book a cruise direct, then their call-center clerks can only tell you about the products of their company.

  1. And just for fun: What is your favorite movie?

Haha, you’ll be (not) surprised to hear I love all movies that feature some kind of travel! Movies like A Room with a View, Roman Holiday, and The English Patient get me going every time.

Thanks for joining me today, Janet. I’d love to hear more about your adventures sometime! Hoping Covid-19 is a thing of the past soon and people can start to travel again. I’ve got so many places on my list!

Darlene

Find Janet at www.cruiseplanforyou.com

Have a travel question for Janet? Ask it here!

Welcome to Redford Falls!

Hi, everyone!

Today, I’m happy to host author Darlene Fredette, a fellow Wild Rose Press author. She’s in the middle of launching a four-book series of sweet contemporary romances that take place in . . . Redford Falls, of course!

Darlene resides on the Atlantic Coast of Canada where the summers are too short and the winters are too long. An avid reader since childhood, Darlene loved to develop the many stories coming to life in her head. She writes contemporary romances with a focus on plot-driven page-turners. When not working on her next book, she can be found with her husband, her daughter, and her yellow Labrador. Darlene’s favourite pastime is taking summer day-trips to the Valley to soak in the small-town feel.

Thanks for hanging out on my blog today, Darlene. Wishing you all the best with the stories of Redford Falls!

Here’s a peek at the series:

His Candy Christmas ~ A Redford Falls Story ~ Book 1

It’s going to take more than a few pieces of chocolate to fill this Scrooge’s heart with Christmas cheer. Luckily Candy has a whole shop full.

perf5.000x8.000.inddCandice Cane is not proud of the way she acted after her last encounter with Jackson Frost. Sure revenge was fun, but now Jackson is angry and looking for answers, and standing on the welcome mat in her chocolate shop. Now he’s after some revenge of his own.

Jackson returned to his small hometown for one reason and one reason only. So, he’s not sure how he ended up in a Santa suit in the middle of a chocolate shop, at the behest of its beautiful owner, instead of high-tailing it back to the city as fast as he can.

Kissed By Winter ~ A Redford Falls Story ~ Book 2

perf5.000x8.000.inddShe’s been on a flight from hell for over eight hours, lost four hours of daylight, and arrived in temperatures twenty degrees lower than accustomed to. Disliking winter for a reason she refuses to discuss, Danielle Lerato would rather be anywhere than in Redford Falls. She needs to get the job done and return home before getting caught up in the small town’s charm—and the arms of the handsome, brown-eyed restaurant owner.

Andrew Bailey’s first encounter with the buttery blonde didn’t go so well, and he well-remembers the chill of the glass of water she dumped over his head. Now, nine months later, a raging storm drops Danielle back into his life. She’s determined to leave, but he’ll do whatever it takes to convince her to fall in love with Redford Falls…and him.

Under The Apple Blossoms ~ A Redford Falls Story ~ Book 3

A tragic accident tore them apart. She left him behind and broke his heart. Is he strong enough to risk it again?

perf5.000x8.000.inddPolice officer, Tyler Kringle, keeps his heart locked behind bars. His first and only love, Maripier Nadeau, left Redford Falls many years ago after a family tragedy. She moved on, leaving him to pick up the shattered pieces of his heart. But now Maripier is home to care for her father and to attend a dedication ceremony in her mother’s honour. Her return rattles Tyler’s cage, causing old emotions to resurface. Once he discovers the truth from the past, can he reclaim the love of his life and lock-down their future before she leaves again?

— Here’s a fun thing: look to the right at the sidebar of Darlene Deluca books and see if you can spot the similarity! 🙂

A Recipe For Forever ~ A Redford Falls Story ~ Book 4

perf5.000x8.000.inddDwindling finances has Jess Robinson running out of options. With a past filled with failures, she longs for a new beginning. Applying for a job she isn’t qualified for may be another crazy mistake, but at this point Jess has nothing to lose.

Juggling two jobs, Travis Cooper has absolutely no time for a relationship and isn’t looking for one. But when his mother hires an unqualified baker, he has more to worry about than three-tiered wedding cakes and fighting fires. Will he break his own no-dating-employees rule and make a little room in his life for love?

Book One is now available, and the others are coming between now and the end of the year. Isn’t that great? No waiting a year for a sequel! You can dive right in. Hope you’ll take a look and get to know Darlene! (See links below) Enjoy!

And, as always, happy reading to all!

Darlene

Author Web Site: http://darlenefredette.blogspot.com/

Blog: http://findingthewritewords.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarleneLF

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DarleneLF

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Fredette/e/B005NAF660/

The Wild Rose Press Author Page: https://www.thewildrosepress.com/authors/darlene-fredette

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Fredette/e/B005NAF660/

Amzon.ca: https://www.amazon.ca/s?i=digital-text&rh=p_27%3ADarlene+Fredette&s=relevancerank&text=Darlene+Fredette&ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/%22Darlene%20Fredette%22?Ntk=P_key_Contributor_List&Ns=P_Sales_Rank&Ntx=mode+matchall

Google Play:https://play.google.com/store/books/author?id=Darlene+Fredette

A first look at a new book!

Hello, friends,

Occasionally, I like to introduce you to author friends and their books. Today, I’m hosting fellow Wild Rose Press author Amber Daulton. This is a big day for her — the cover reveal for her new novel “Arresting Jeremiah,” book two in her steamy romantic suspense series.

This one sounds like an intense ride!

Arresting Jeremiah

ARRESTING JEREMIAH — Here’s the scoop:

Injured Parole Officer Jeremiah “Jim” Borden never expected Calista Barlow, the sassy blonde waitress he’s craved for months, to ring his doorbell. She slips into his heart—and his bed—but he’s obsessed with a gangland investigation that threatens his career and maybe even his life.

Calista doesn’t trust easily, not with a daughter to protect and the stalker who keeps calling her. After her violent ex-boyfriend returns, she finds solace in Jim’s arms.

Jim may have to forego his need for answers to protect the ready-made family he adores, but how will he and Calista escape an unseen enemy that is always one step ahead of them?

The book releases Oct. 14 and is now available for pre-order.

Amazon – https://amzn.to/32vAlqu

Barnes and Noble – https://bit.ly/2E4eJYO

Apple – https://apple.co/35BOuo1

And if that’s not enough to entice you, Arresting Mason, book one in the Arresting Onyx series, is on sale for 99 cents! Limited Time Only. 🙂

Arresting Mason sale graphic

Thanks for sharing your news with us, Amber, and best wishes with the new release!

Happy reading to all!

Darlene

 

You go, girls! Happy travels!

It’s almost summer, and that means travel, vacation, relaxing with friends, right? Hopefully there’s a little of that in your summer plans! I’ve heard of so many great girl trips lately, that I asked my favorite travel agent some questions about planning the best trip with friends.
Enjoy, and happy travels!
Chatting with Janet McLaren, Cruise Planners, personal travel advocate:
Thanks for inviting me to your blog! It’s always fun to talk about travel, and travel with friends is always the best!

 

IMG_3852– What are some of the most interesting or unusual girls’ trips you’ve arranged?
It seems like women either want to get away for relaxation at a resort with a good beach and spa, or they want a cultural adventure with a combination of organized events and independent exploring. I’d say for most interesting: a group of ladies who are going to Italian wine country this summer. They are sharing a villa near Florence for a week and taking day trips into the city and into surrounding towns, then spending two days in Rome.
Getaway cruises are always popular, too, because they are usually economical for everyone and don’t require as big a commitment of time. One group of ladies takes a short cruise to Mexico every January when the fares are low.

– A friend of mine recently visited Barcelona on a tour with her wine club. I’ve heard of book clubs attending author-sponsored cruises. Are these kinds of themed-trips gaining in popularity?
They are, but they are mostly arranged by private groups, not the cruise line. An exception is river cruising — several of the top lines “theme” a number of cruises each year. I’m looking at one for a group right now that is focused on beer (haha, right?), but there are wine themes, music, and Christmastime, too. Also, there are land tours that are geared for special interests. I know of literary-themed tours in England that focus on historical sites related to authors such as Jane Austin, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Charles Dickens, for a few examples. Garden tours abound, as well as castle tours (think Downton Abbey, for instance), and “quaint towns.”

            Best shopping?   Mexico — the short cruises that go there, and the resorts of Cancun and Playa del Carmen are excellent for picking up handicrafts, jewelry, and clothes. New York and London shopping trips are still popular, although you have to watch the conversion rate of the British Pound to be sure popping off to London is a value or not.

            Best for beach/relaxing?  Interestingly, I get a fair number of inquiries about Miami Beach. The old-style glam resort hotels and the nightlife are very appealing. You get a nice combination of beach time, relaxation, and some fun. Restaurants are a big thing there, too. Of course many all-inclusive Caribbean and Mexican resorts have it all in one place! That’s probably the easiest getaway of all — just go, get transported to your resort, then don’t worry about very much at all. 

            Best sightseeing/culture?  Europe is still number one — history, churches, museums, wine, music, art, ancient architecture — it’s easy to come up with a common interest that binds a group together for a shared experience.

– Any tips or special advice for women traveling together?

Yes, I find that I am often reminding people that they cannot possibly do everything in one trip! Select a theme then let me help plan a reasonable, “do-able” outline that won’t exhaust you — decide on a few important highlights. Save some down time; not every minute has to be planned out and everyone could use a little “me time” mixed in, too.

– Any places you’d advise small groups of women to avoid?

Yes, sadly not all places in the world are travel-friendly to women and male-centric societies make for too much stress and worry. For some reason Dubai holds a fascination (I suppose for the shopping), but I wouldn’t choose it for a girlfriend getaway. India, China, some places in the Mideast and Africa — not worth it. Exceptions: I think a well-coordinated safari in certain locations would make a terrific all-woman adventure, and a historical or spiritual journey in Israel and Jordon would be safe and rewarding.

 

Thanks for sharing your time and expertise, Janet! I want to do it all! Dear readers, do you have a favorite spot for trips with friends? Tips or experiences to share? We’d love to hear them!

Contact Janet for additional info and ideas. 866-592-7351 | 972-231-0066 | jmclaren@cruiseplanners.com | www.cruiseplanforyou.com

International Women’s Day: Strong Women in Fiction

urlIt’s International Women’s Day!

I was with a group of women fiction writers last week, and someone mentioned the occasion. The authors at this meeting realized we all write about strong women. To celebrate International Women’s Day this year, each of us agreed to post an excerpt from our writing featuring one of our strong female characters. And we want to share them with you.

Unexpected_Legacy_CoverI present Kate Austen, interim principal of a suburban high school, who faces hostility from male peers in Unexpected Legacy, fiction with romantic elements.

Bruce accompanied Kate to the office where they signed the log for opening the school safe, deposited the money, and locked up again. Bruce had already turned, heading for the door, when Kate glanced at the log. Her head snapped up.

“Bruce?”

He stopped and gave her a nod. “See you Monday.”

“Bruce, wait a minute. I don’t see your signature on here for any other day this week. You said you’d put the money in the safe.”

“Yeah. I did.”

She clenched the clipboard in her hand, but resolved to keep her voice calm. Don’t overreact, Kate. “Without signing and without a second staff member verifying what you put in?”

He shoved a hand inside a pocket and scowled at her. “It’s nothing that needs to be verified, Kate. There’s no accounting on this. It’s completely outside of school business.”

She bristled at his tone. “I disagree. Any time we’re collecting money, whatever the reason, there needs to be careful record of it and personal accountability. We’re talking about several thousand dollars here, and it’s our responsibility to make sure that every dime collected is accounted for and used for the purpose it was intended.”

Bruce’s eyes shifted from her to somewhere beyond her, as if he were bored by the conversation. When he looked back at Kate, his eyes challenged her. “Are you suggesting I would mishandle funds?”

“Not at all, but if there were ever a question of propriety, we’d need to be able to show clear and accurate records.”

Bruce continued to stare at her a moment, then glanced at his watch. “Are we done?”

Kate let go of the log. “We can discuss this further on Monday,” she told him, her voice clipped. “From now on, please refrain from putting anything in or taking anything out of the safe without my authorization.”

Your authorization?” he repeated.

“Right.”

Both hands went to his hips as he stared hard at her. “District policy says another staff member.”

“I’m aware of that, but you didn’t follow district policy, so I’m adding a stipulation. For the time being, I’d like you to see me if you need access to the safe.” She gave him the sweetest smile she could muster. “Just to be sure we’re on the same page.”

To read posts from other women authors about their strong women characters, please follow the links below. Happy International Women’s Day! Enjoy!

Darlene

Joyce Brown, author of cozy mysteries

Pamela B. Eglinski, author of suspense and historical fiction

Theresa Hupp, author of historical fiction

Juliet Kincaid, author of historical fiction