Category Archives: Writing

The 50 Best Indie Books of 2018!

I’m so excited I can hardly stand it!

Remember when I said that The Search for Sam had been shortlisted for the 50 best indies of the year? You had to have someone nominate you, then people vote for you…and I’m on the list!

It really is wild how 2018 ended. In September I went to a conference I’d been dreaming about and Sam broke the top 100 on Amazon. Then in October I had my first book signing! November somehow got even better when A Christmas Reunion made it to #4 in Tudor Historical Romance, and stayed #1 in new releases for almost a week. And now in December I won an award!

I didn’t expect to be on the list at all because I’m such a new author so I am super stoked about making it. This year I’m #47. Who knows what will happen next year?

Thank you to everyone who voted! I love y’all! Take a look at all the winners here!

50 Best Indie Books of 2018

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The Christmas Wishes Series is Complete!

With the release of Rebellious Angel, the Christmas Wishes series is complete! Six fantastic Christmas stories from six different eras by six amazing authors, what could be better?

I just have to say that I am so happy that Dawn asked me to be in this series. A Christmas Reunion is my first holiday book, and my first Tudor as well, and I had a ton of fun researching and writing it. I’d love to do another one, maybe sticking with the Welsh folklore and writing about the Mari Lywd?

If you missed one of these fantastic books, you can still buy them everywhere!

Hela Takes a Holiday by Rebekah Lewis: books2read.com/HelaTakesaHoliday

A Christmas Reunion by Rebecca Lovell: books2read.com/AChristmasReunion

The Appeal of an Elusive Viscount by Hildie McQueen: books2read.com/u/bQ9E2E

Christmas in the Duke’s Embrace by Amanda Mariel: books2read.com/u/38rAQV

The Magic of Gingerbread by Sandra Sookoo: books2read.com/u/mvKMPq

Rebellious Angel by Dawn Brower: books2read.com/RebelliousAngel

Merry Holidays, y’all!

At Any Cost – Chapter One

It was late, and all Martin Caiber could think about was how much he wanted to go home. Thankfully, he was almost finished with his business and he yawned as he leaned back in his chair to watch his father’s accountant writing figures in his ledger. Stacks of money, carefully banded together, lay on the table around them and the accountant was tallying them up as he moved them from the table to a black duffel bag. Martin didn’t want to look at them, but he couldn’t help it.

He’d grown up seeing stacks of cash on tables just like the one they were sitting at, but had never gotten used to it. Now that his father was gone, all of it belonged to him and every time he saw one, it was surreal.

“That’s all of it,” the accountant said, putting the last stack of money into a duffel bag as he closed the ledger. “Good take tonight. It’ll put you far enough into the black that you can afford that pay raise you want to give the bartenders.”

“Good,” Martin said. “They deserve it. I’ve seen some of the crap they put up with from drunks and tips don’t make up for half of it, even if the drunks do tip well.” He pulled the bag across the table and zipped it up, then handed it to one of the bouncers who was inexplicably wearing sunglasses at night. “Take this with you and make sure it goes into the private account.”

“Sure thing, boss,” the bouncer said, heading for the door. Martin sighed.

“And don’t call me that,” he called after the bouncer. He put his hands over his face and rubbed it as the accountant put his ledger in his briefcase. “Thanks, Bill.”

“You’re always welcome,” Bill said, zipping his bag. “I don’t know that I ever said it, but I’m so sorry about your dad. It was a lovely funeral and I appreciated the invitation.” Martin nodded and his accountant put on his jacket. “Have a good night, sir.”

“Thanks, I will.” Martin yawned again and leaned his head back to look up at the ceiling. The late nights he’d been putting in at the clubs were starting to catch up with him, and he closed his eyes for a second. He was going to have to get used to them if he wanted to take his father’s place but he still wasn’t sure he wanted to.

Martin stood up, ran his hand through the black hair he’d inherited from his father along with his thin frame and put his jacket on. He was starting to zip it up when one of the other bouncers came in. He was still wearing the earpiece he wore when he was working the door, and the black suit he was wearing marked him as one of the men who dealt with clubgoers.

“Sorry to catch you when you’re just about to leave,” the bouncer said. “There’s a woman here asking to see you.”

“A woman?” Martin didn’t want to talk to a woman, he only wanted to go home. Unfortunately there was no other option. His new duties included meeting with new people and directing them to whatever part of the organization could help them. “Does she look like a cop?”

“No, sir. She’s wearing a suit with a flower in it. If she’s a cop, she’s not on duty.”

“Fine, send her in,” Martin sighed. The bouncer nodded, then went back into the club proper. He took his jacket off and sat back down at the table. It was a good thing the money had been removed from it; the last thing he wanted was some strange woman getting ideas about stealing it. There was a glass of whiskey near his hand and he picked it up to take a drink. He was already tired but the buzz he’d gotten from his previous glass had worn off, so he figured he could stand another. Martin was just finishing his drink when the door opened again and a woman walked through it.

She was indeed wearing a suit, and Martin could tell with one look that it was a man’s suit that had been tailored for a woman. It was black and obviously expensive, and she was wearing a peacock blue shirt beneath it. In her buttonhole was a fire-tipped rose, and she wasn’t wearing a tie. The boots she was wearing had a low heel that tapped in an authoritative way as she crossed the floor toward him, and her dark brown hair was twisted into an updo behind her head. The effect of it all was that he was dealing with a woman who knew what she was doing, and exactly what she wanted from him. When her bright blue eyes met his hazel ones, Martin felt warmth spreading through her body. He didn’t just want to talk to her, he wanted to ask her out.

“Hi,” she said as she reached the table. “You must be Mr. Caiber.”

“I am,” Martin said, motioning to the chair. “Have a seat.” The woman nodded and pulled out the chair across from him. “What can I do for you?”

“A significant amount, I hope,” the woman said. “Forgive me for showing up so late, by the way. I’ve been driving for hours.”

“Oh? Where were you driving from?”

“Michigan. I just finished a job there and decided I’d take off as fast as I could.” She smiled and Martin wondered exactly what kind of work she did. “Anyway, it just so happens that I’m looking for someone and I was told that if I wanted to find something out about any underground activity, Barry Caiber was the one to ask.” The woman raked her eyes over him critically. “You’re a lot younger than I expected.”

“That’s because I’m not Barry, I’m his son. My father died about a week ago, I’m afraid, and I don’t have his connections just yet. I’ll help you however I can, though.” Martin offered his hand to her. “I’m Martin Caiber.”

“People call me the Hawk,” the woman said with a smile as she took his hand and shook it. “Either that or just Hawk. Nice to meet you.”

“You too,” Martin said, drawing back his hand. “What is it that you do?”

“I find people,” Hawk replied simply. She reached into the breast pocket of her jacket and withdrew a business card, which she handed to Martin. He looked down at it, scanning the plain white card with interest. Written in simple black type were the words The Hawk and a phone number with a Texas area code.

“So you need information. Mind if I ask what for?” He offered the card back to her and she held up a hand.

“Keep it. In case you ever need anything.” She smiled and leaned forward. “There’s a little girl missing from Texas, and her mother has hired me to find her. My information led me to Michigan, but I hit a dead end with a pair of train tickets to Chicago. Which is why I’m here.” Hawk hesitated a moment and Martin raised an eyebrow, indicating she should continue. “Eddie Brighton gave me your father’s name.”

“I see.” Martin looked down at her card again. “Best I can do is give you another name, I’m afraid.” He took out his phone and brought up his list of contacts. “I have an associate that was a friend of my father’s who can probably help you. From what I’ve heard, he can find anyone.” He looked up at Hawk. “I haven’t had a reason to try him out, though.”

“I’m happy to take any help you can offer,” Hawk said. “I don’t like to waste time when I’m looking for children. Finding them is particularly important to me.”

“Glad to hear it,” Martin said. He rummaged through his pockets until he found one of his own business cards. It was much more detailed than Hawk’s, with a colorful logo and a font that had been created for him, and he flipped it over to write a name and phone number on it. “Jimmy Hirakawa. He’s supposed to be the best.”

“That’s just because you hadn’t met me yet,” Hawk said with a wink. She took the card from him and tucked it into her breast pocket. “Thanks for your time.” It looked as if she was going to get up and Martin was struck by the feeling that he was never going to see her again.

“How about having a drink with me?” He was afraid his voice sounded desperate but either Hawk didn’t realize it or didn’t care, as she smiled at him and leaned back in her chair.

“Sure,” she said. “This is a nice club, you’ve probably got some top-notch booze.”

“Damn right I do,” Martin said. “Hey, Jessie, bring us a couple of Rey Sol Anejo,” he called out into the bar, and a woman’s voice replied with something he couldn’t quite hear.

“Rey Sol, huh?” Hawk smirked at him. “You must be trying to impress me.” She crossed her leg over her knee and Martin returned the smile.

“Is it working?” A woman with a ponytail and an undercut came in and set two glasses of crystal clear tequila on the table between them, along with a bottle of what appeared to be the same liquor.

“You know I was about to clock out, right?” Jessie’s tone of voice suggested that she was extremely put out by having to serve him, but she brightened when Hawk took a folded bill out of her inside pocket and held it out to her with two fingers. The number 50 was clearly visible and it was Martin’s turn to be impressed.

“For your trouble,” Hawk said. Jessie gave Martin a withering look, then left them alone with their drinks. “My dad always told me you should try never to piss off your bartender or your hairstylist.”

“Good advice,” Martin said, lifting his glass. “Welcome to town. Here’s to what’s hopefully the start of a new friendship.” Hawk raised her glass and clinked it against his, then tipped it up and drained her tequila in one drink.

“That’s really good,” she said, setting her empty glass on the table. “Definitely worth tipping well. Speaking of money,” she went on, “I suppose you get paid for giving me this information?”

“My dad would have insisted on it, but I’m not going to push the issue. I’d rather not interfere with anything that a kid’s life might depend on.” Martin finished off his own drink and nodded to the bottle. “Want another?”

“Why not? I’m just going to my hotel after this.” She set her glass down and Martin poured her another. “Of course I’m going to pay you, by the way. You’ll get your money when I get mine. How does ten percent of my fee sound?”

“Sounds fine to me.” He poured himself another bottle and raised his glass. Hawk did the same and smiled. “I’m not in any hurry.”

“It shouldn’t be long, once I find the girl.” She smiled at him and downed her tequila. Martin looked at her a little more closely as she did. With the outfit she was wearing, she looked like a stereotypical hitman and he smiled at her.

“So what are you going to do when you find them? With the kidnapper, I mean.”

“Let’s just hope for his sake that he comes quietly.” She set aside her glass. “I’d better get going. My legs are cramped after driving so long and my hotel room has a whirlpool.” Hawk stood up and buttoned her jacket. “Thanks for the drink. I don’t know when I’ll get to have Rey Sol again.”

“Anytime you want some, come back here. I’m usually back here dealing with business.” He got up from the table to see her out and she raised an eyebrow.

“Business, huh?” Martin knew what she was implying, and part of him wanted to tell her it wasn’t what she thought but he also knew that he wouldn’t be considering that if he hadn’t been so struck by her. “Whatever you say, Marty.” She walked briskly toward the door, then stopped and looked back at him with a smirk, holding the card up between her first and index fingers. “Maybe I’ll make it twenty percent because you’re so cute.”

At a loss for words, Martin stood and watched her disappear into the front of the club. Once she was gone, he dropped back into his chair and exhaled. The woman was a hurricane in a tailored suit but it didn’t stop him from wanting to talk to her again. It wasn’t just that she was beautiful, she was also obviously intelligent and focused on her goal, which made him think that even if he wanted to see more of her, she would be too busy for it. It was a shame, though. He’d been so focused on trying to keep his life and his father’s separate that he hadn’t let himself have much of a social life, and now that he’d come across someone he liked it seemed as if she wasn’t in the market for one of her own.

The two Reys had given him back his buzz but he didn’t want to stay around the club much longer, so he finished his whiskey and put on his jacket. He didn’t feel like driving home himself, so he stepped outside to catch a cab. Even at this time of night there were plenty driving around and he went to the curb to flag one down. He was looking down at his cell phone, thinking he should put Hawk’s number into it, and didn’t noticed the car headed for him until its headlights splashed over him.

The gray sedan jumped the curb just as Martin dove out of the way into the alley, stumbled, and fell headfirst into a pile of garbage bags. One of the bouncers ran toward him as the sedan pulled back into the street and drove off in a squeal of tires. Martin sat up, surrounded by bottles and things he would rather not think about, and put a hand to his head.

“Are you okay, Mr. Caiber?” The bouncer stood over him and offered a hand, which Martin took gratefully to help him off the ground.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Martin said. “Just a little shaken up.”

“That car was coming right for you,” the bouncer said, looking down the street in the direction the car had driven. “Any idea who it might have been?”

“Not in the least,” Martin said. He picked a squashed lime wedge off his jacket and tossed it on the ground. “I don’t want to deal with it right now, either. All I want to do is go home and take a shower.”

“Let me drive you then,” the bouncer said. He pulled the earpiece he was wearing out and stuck it in his jacket pocket. “It’s too dangerous for you to stand around out here waiting for a cab.”

“If you say so,” Martin said, glad for the offer. He followed the bouncer around the back of the building where there were a couple of parking spots for employees. His own car was in one of them but he walked past it. If he hadn’t been in any shape to drive after the drinks he’d had with Hawk, he definitely wasn’t now.

The bouncer unlocked the car and Martin got into the back seat and pulled the door shut, then leaned his head back against the leather and closed his eyes. This was getting out of hand. As much as he didn’t want to seem paranoid, there was no getting around the fact that it was the second time in a week that someone had tried to kill him.

Available at all retailers January 15, 2019 – preorder now for $0.99!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07L2J1932

Nook, Kobo, Apple Books: http://books2read.com/BuyAtAnyCost

Rebellious Angel: Christmas Wishes Book 6

DB_Rebellious Angel_HiResToday, the Christmas Wishes series concludes with Dawn Brower’s Edwardian novel, which also happens to be her first Marsden Descendants novel as well!

Miss Angeline Marsden has a defiant nature and makes no apologies for it. Her parents would prefer she didn’t participate in the local suffragette group, but she believes all women’s voices should be heard. After she finds herself in trouble she can’t extricate herself from she has no choice but to turn to the one man she’s always loved and treats her like a sister.

Much to Lucian St. John, the Marquess of Severn’s dismay he’s always been drawn to Angeline. She’s his one irresistible temptation; however, she’s also his best friends’ sister, and off limits. When she finds herself in a mess of her own making he comes to her rescue and offers to marry her. 

Lucian and Angeline never dared dream they could have a future together. Marriage is the last thing either of them expected and it is the one thing they both want. Will they find a way to open their hearts to each other and obtain their Christmas wish.

This series has been a lot of fun, and I hope you’ve picked up all the books and enjoyed them as much as we’ve enjoyed writing them. If there’s one you’ve missed, click the bottom link and it’ll take you to the entire series on Amazon. Happy holidays!

Rebellious Angel – Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Rebellious-Angel-Marsden-Descendants-Christmas-ebook/dp/B07H8WP14H

Rebellious Angel – all other retailers: http://books2read.com/RebelliousAngel

The full Christmas Wishes series: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07HFFKYXZ

NaNoWriMo: Failure in the Small Things

Well, this year NaNoWriMo was an utter fail for me. A perfect storm of nonsense kept me from writing, or even trying to write. Some of the nonsense was good: a very successful book launch, a finished draft, a new job. Some of the nonsense was just plain nonsense.

However I look at this as a learning opportunity. While I wasn’t able to finish, I did get about 20,000 words written and am super happy with them. I also wrote the draft I finished at the beginning of November in 28 days, so I’m calling it my win.

No matter what, I’m planning on doing NaNoWriMo again in the spring and fall, so I’ve got three more chances to write books in 2019. It’s gonna be awesome.

At Any Cost – Prologue

At Any Cost_banner

It was late, and Michelle smelled like buttercream. She’d been working with the powerfully sweet frosting for hours, trying to get the texture just right so she could use it to make flowers on a wedding cake. As a result, it was in her hair and under her nails, and she never wanted to eat another bite of it. She walked out to her car, yawning. It was dark but her car was a sporty orange and easy to see, and its lights flashed as she unlocked it from a distance.

She was so tired that even taking off the bandanna that she had tied around her long, dark brown hair felt like it would take too much effort, and she wondered if Fox would be mad at her if she tried to go to bed without showering.

He’d probably make some stupid joke about ants, she thought with a roll of her eyes as she turned on the engine. Fox had the unfortunate tendency to think he was hilarious when he mostly just cracked corny jokes, but he was so earnest that Michelle couldn’t help loving him. She was backing out of her parking space when her phone rang and she frowned, glancing over at the display on the console to see it was her father.

“Hi, Dad,” she said, answering the call with a push of the button on the steering wheel. “What are you up to?”

“Nothing much,” Eddie replied, his voice rough from years of smoking. “I was calling to see if you and Fox wanted to get together for dinner on Saturday. Charlotte too, of course. I haven’t seen that cutie in a week and I don’t want her to forget her grandad.”

“Like she ever could,” Michelle said with a smirk. “With all the stuff you buy her, every time she comes back from seeing you all she can talk about is her grandad.” She pulled out into the street and started for home with another yawn. “I’ll talk to Fox when I get home and see which day is best for him, then I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“What do you mean when you get home? Are you still at work?”

“I just left,” Michelle said. “I’m ready to take a shower, kiss the sprout goodnight, and stuff my face before I go to sleep myself. I finally figured out the flowers on the wedding cake.”

“You’re going to work yourself to death,” Eddie sighed, and Michelle wondered if this was what having a mother would be like. “Next you’re going to tell me you have to put in all these hours so you can buy the owner out of the shop.”

“Maybe one day,” Michelle said with a smile. “Right now I’m happy just to learn everything I can. Whatever else happens, happens.”

“All right, all right,” Eddie said. “You talk to your husband and I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Don’t forget to send me the pictures from Charlotte’s birthday party.”

“I will, Dad, I promise. I’m just tired right now, and starving.” Thankfully, Michelle didn’t live very far from the bakery where she worked, so she was still on the phone with her father when she turned off the main street and onto the one that led to her neighborhood. “Whenever we get the time worked out, can we go to an all-you-can-eat place? A Chinese buffet or something?”

“You always did like that cheap Chinese food, now you’re passing it on to Charlotte,” he laughed. “How many times did I try to take you to nicer places?”

“Obviously not enough, otherwise I wouldn’t still love the cheap stuff. And of course Charlotte likes it, she’s three. She can get sweet and sour chicken and mac and cheese at the same time, what kid wouldn’t love—” Her voice trailed away as she turned the corner and saw a riot of flickering lights on her street. There were fire trucks, police cars, and even an ambulance. Michelle frowned and slowed to a crawl. “What the hell?” As she got closer a horrifying sight became visible around the fire trucks.

The flickering she had seen wasn’t all coming from the vehicles. One of the houses was on fire, and so consumed by flames that she was surprised she hadn’t seen the smoke. Hoping that it wouldn’t spread to her house and that the emergency vehicles would let her get home for the night, she continued her slow progression down the street. The closer she got to the burning house, the more familiar it looked and her stomach turned when she saw why.

“No,” she said, her voice no more than a whisper before building to a shout. “No, no, no!”

“Misha, what’s the matter? What’s going on?”

Not wanting to take the time to explain, Michelle threw open the car door and ran for the house without bothering to take her phone or bag, leaving the door open and the engine running as she did.  Barricades were set up in front of her house and she ducked under them smoothly. Fire lit up every window in the house and the firemen were unrolling several large hoses. They were all shouting at one another, but there was a ringing in Michelle’s ears that muffled everything they were saying.

“Ma’am,” a police officer said, hurrying up to her. “You can’t be here. We need you to get back behind the barricades where it’s safe.”

“This is my house,” Michelle said, trying to push past him only to be stopped by a very broad fireman. “My husband and daughter are in there, I have to get to them!”

“We’re doing all we can,” the fireman said, holding her arms tightly. “You have to get back right now and let us do our job.” Shaking her head, Michelle continued to try to get around both the policeman and fireman, who were determined not to let her pass.

“Calm down, ma’am,” the officer said. “We can’t let you put yourself in danger.”

“You have to—” A sudden, sharp pain stabbed into Michelle’s abdomen and she paused to press a hand to it. A second pain caused her knees to buckle and she stumbled to the ground. The pain was constant now, aching and sharp by turns, and it felt as if something was building inside her. Michelle struggled to get to her feet and there was a stab of pain as she did, followed by the feeling of a rubber band breaking after being stretched too far.

This time the pain was too much for her, and she slid out of the fireman’s arms onto the ground. Something hot and damp was spreading from her jeans and Michelle cried out as she clutched her abdomen. She heard someone shouting for EMS but it hardly registered.  She laid on the grass, tears streaming down her face as she watched her home slowly getting consumed by fire, until the paramedics converged on her and she finally passed out.

Available at all retailers January 15, 2019 – preorder now for $0.99!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07L2J1932

Nook, Kobo, Apple Books: http://books2read.com/BuyAtAnyCost

The Magic of Gingerbread: Christmas Wishes Book 5

SS_The Magic of Gingerbread_HiResSandra Sookoo has written an amazing number of books…75 at last count! I wish I had her time management skills, and hope to reach that number some day. This is her Christmas Wishes story, and it promises to be just as addicting as the rest!

In 1888 London, Miss Eleanor Redding, possessed of a beastly, grouchy attitude, works for Western Union Telegraph Company. It gives her a certain independence and a place to hide from her disappointing past in America. When she accidentally intercepts a Morse-coded message alluding to clandestine and nefarious activity, she accepts the challenge with alacrity. It will take her mind off the fact she’s once more alone for the Christmas holidays. Why couldn’t a man look past her prickles and scars to fight for her?

Mr. Cameron Hallewell, grandson of the Earl of Albemarle, is employed by the Home Office in the matters of foreign interests. He takes his occupation of protecting British interests seriously, but he longs for a woman to surprise him in unexpected ways, to want him instead of his social standing. When there’s news of a foreign operative lurking about Victoria Station planning something vile, he intends to track them down… only to find an attractive woman tailing various strangers on the platform and looking for all the world like a spy herself.

They get on together like oil and water, but despite Eleanor’s prickles and Cameron’s bruised heart as well as his secrets, a spark catches between them. As the unlikely pair work together to capture a spy and prevent harm from befalling London, they come to care for and rely on each other. Throw in the intriguing prospect of an unexpected Christmas courtship, and they could have a romance that spans the ages… if they’ll only let themselves give into granted wishes and a passion that’s been there all along.

Next week, the final Christmas Wishes book comes out! It’s still available to preorder for $0.99, at all your favorite online retailers!

The Magic of Gingerbread – Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Magic-Gingerbread-Christmas-Wishes-Book-ebook/dp/B07H3XCFY6

The Magic of Gingerbread – all other retailers:  www.books2read.com/u/mvKMPq

The full Christmas Wishes series: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07HFFKYXZ