Ways to Inspire Your Writing #WritingTips #WritingCommunity


Photo by Cristian Dina on Pexels.com

Ways I’ve found to inspire my writing

I often get asked where I go for inspiration. There are literally a million different storylines out there- you just have to be open to ideas.

The other night, on America’s Got Talent there was a trapeze act where the woman flipped in mid-air over a fiery pit of spikes. It made me wonder what her backstory was; why would she risk her life for a moment’s glory that way?

I follow a couple of amazing photographer blogs; Tofino Photography and Steve McCurry. Both of these men delve deep into the souls of their subjects. They fill me with awe and endless ideas for stories.

Another way that I get story ideas is from news clips. Whether you write murder mysteries, romance, paranormal, or true life there’s a story waiting to be told. Here’s an interesting story from my home province:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/possible-meteor-alberta-1.5457429

Many know my obsession with covers. I truly believe a great cover can lead to sales and the trickle effect of having your book noticed and talked about, but that’s not all. As a writer, if you decide on a cover prior to starting the book it can serve as inspiration for the story.

This is true for my contemporary romance, Valentine: A Hearts and Kisses Romance

Free from Feb 12-16

When I came across this cover, I immediately saw a rom-com and couldn’t resist snatching it up!

Blurb:

Take two humans who pretend they can’t stand each other and one matchmaking canine and the fun is nonstop!

Val Hodgins is on the road to success. His architect firm handles some of the biggest contracts along the western seaboard. He doesn’t have time to babysit his aunt’s aging house or her pain in the butt dog, but when she falls ill with pneumonia he drops everything to go to her aid.

Sierra Johnson’s dreams of owning a catering company go up in smoke thanks to a bad choice in boyfriends. Now, she’s stuck working for a tyrannical boss, care-taking an aging townhouse, and being tormented by the owner’s aggravating, caustic, way-too-attractive nephew.

Will these two get over their prejudices in time to realize love comes without a price tag?

Excerpt:

Val opened the door to the brownstone and ushered Norma Jean inside. What a fiasco. He was just glad it was over.

“Thanks for accepting my apologetic dinner. My aunt’s dog isn’t usually so…”

“Cute?” she supplied, smiling as he helped her remove her wet coat. Of course, it had to be pouring when they left the restaurant.

“Troublesome,” he corrected. Though really, he’d only been living here a week, so what did he know?

“It’s strange I never saw him here before your aunt became ill.” A horrified look crossed her pretty face. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories.”

He shrugged, uncomfortable. She couldn’t, he barely knew his great-aunt. “It’s fine, we aren’t that close.” He hung her jacket by the door. “Maybe next time we go out we can avoid setting off the fire alarms.”

He’d meant it as a joke, but when he turned and caught the hopeful expression in her sky-blue eyes he cursed his loose lips.

“That sounds amazing,” she sighed, then glanced down the hall. “Something smells good.”

Oh, hell. He’d left his roast slow-cooking while he took her out, but he hadn’t planned on the delay with the water sprinklers and the firemen who wanted to know what happened. He’d be lucky if it wasn’t beef jerky by now.

“Thanks,” he said. “I’m stocking the freezer for those days when I don’t want to cook after work. Do you want to join me for coffee and a sandwich?” he offered reluctantly.

She gazed longingly down the hall, but shook her head. “Maybe next time. I need to study, mid-terms are coming up soon.”

He sighed his relief. She was nice, and would make a great friend, but he wasn’t interested in anything else. He’d been burned by women enough to last a lifetime. He’d give love a pass.

“Okay, well… have a nice night,” he ventured, waiting for her to go up the stairs to her room.

She laughed softly and leaned close to brush his cheek with her cherry red lips. “Don’t try so hard,” she murmured, before sashaying away on the stilts she wore for shoes.

Val rubbed his jaw and strode down the hall. Maybe they could just be friends.

He entered the kitchen expecting smoke, and instead found himself staring at the shapely bottom of a woman bent over his oven basting his roast while the mutt who’d ruined his day sat nearby, a sloppy grin on its narrow face.

Now what?

Your turn; what inspires you to write?

Don’t forget, Valentine is FREE until Feb 16th!

happy valentine's day

#FreebieFriday #BeachRead Edition


Summer Reading

I don’t know about you, but I find it extremely hard to concentrate on my writing in the summer. I’d much sooner be outside, in the garden, or lounging under the cherry tree reading all the amazing books on my TBR pile (which is ready to run away and hide, it’s so tall! lol).

I have deadlines I have to meet, but maybe, just maybe, they can wait another day or two. 🙂

How about you? Do you find summer distracting?

Here’s this week’s freebie links- enjoy!

A woman and child in danger teaches Nick life is worth living.

ALL SHE WANTS IS TO LIVE HER LIFE 

Abused, Sara Sheridan finds the courage to escape her husband. She has no interest in getting mixed up with another alpha, attitude-laden male. Especially with her ex hot on her trail. 

ALL HE CRAVES IS PEACE AND QUIET 

Marine, Nick Kelley prefers solitude, away from the memories haunting him. So what is it about his reticent neighbor and her child that tempts him to give it up? 

UNTIL LOVE GETS IN THE WAY 

Nick and Sara’s growing attraction  leads them down a dangerous path as her ex-husband closes in on the new life she’s made for her daughter and threatens to blow it all apart. 

Excerpt

“How did you find me?” Sara fell back as Tom pushed his way inside, followed closely by Sam, and then she caught sight of Fiona being led in by two other men. Her friend was cuffed, arms pulled taut behind her back. Her mouth, covered by a bright red handkerchief tied so tight it cut into her whitened cheeks, highlighted an obscene bruise. Her eyes, one of them black and blue, filled with tears, begging Sara to forgive her.

“GPS, my dear, you’ve heard of that I presume? I traced you from your own phone, that wasn’t very smart of you. So, this is where you’ve been hiding.” He waved the others into the room, locking the door behind them. “What, no kiss for your Husband? You do recall you have one of those, don’t you?”

He looked the same, so tall and handsome standing there in his perfectly pressed suit and tie, not a hair out of place. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. It was so obvious to her now. The narrow, cold eyes, the supercilious attitude, the rigid stance, the not-so-well-hidden-anger, had he always been that way? She didn’t like to think so. How could she have been so wrong about him? He’d pulled the wool over her eyes from the beginning.

Free Today!

Let the authors of Summer Heat tempt you with some mouth-watering recipes. Bacon-Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Pistachios, Decadent French Toast, Marinated Steak, Devil’s Food Cake, Beer-Steamed Mussels, Baked Apple with Custard Sauce, White Chocolate Cherry Scones. These are just a few of the wonderful dishes you’ll find in this unique cookbook. Each is linked to a novella in Summer Heat, a collection of sixteen sexy romances by New York Times, USA Today and other Bestselling Authors. The food is great, and each recipe will whet your appetite for one of the stories in the boxed set by giving you insights into the life of the author’s hero and/or heroine. So enjoy the fabulous food along with the outstanding prose from a seasoned group of authors.

Book Bites offers samples for 9 romance novels and novellas. We hope you will find them not only delicious but also arousing an irresistible craving for more.

So, you ask, what is this boxed set all about?
At no other point is passion put to the test as in dire times of war. From the American Civil War to WWII, from Vietnam to the War in Afghanistan to the Persian Gulf, the stories in this boxed set summon the strength of true lovers. 
Written by bestselling, award-winning, and USA Today authors, the novels and novellas in this collection tell of overcoming loss, injuries, and separation, to celebrate the victory of love. 
If you like Military Romance, Wounded Warrior Romance, Historical Romance, Contemporary Romance, or Romantic Suspense, this anthology invites you to triumph over the worst of conditions and find the courage to bring forth the best in us.

The Authors’ Billboard is proud to publish Book Bites 9. Enjoy a sampling —the first chapter or two — of a scintillating peek into the contemporary romances from award winning and NY Times and USA Today bestselling authors from two of our boxed sets: Unforgettable Heroes and Sweet and Sassy.

Can’t figure out which flavor you’d like tonight? Maybe these will fire up your appetite. After all, your Kindle isn’t completely full, right?

These seventeen teasers are for lovers of romance stories of all heat levels. They are available in their complete versions in: UNFORGETTABLE HEROES and SWEET AND SASSY

He’s Still the One #Anniversary #FamilyFirst


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35th Anniversary!

Hard to imagine it’s been thirty-five years since DH and I said the big “I do” and began what would be a journey together filled with love, laughter, and yes, tears.

I remember being a nervous wreck that day. No one mentioned how stressful it is to plan a wedding- thank goodness I had the strong support of my family to help!

Pixabay.com

The day dawned sunny and bright (a good omen) and soon Mom and Dad’s was a flurry of activity. My bridesmaids looked beautiful in their pale pink dresses and I felt like a princess in my Cinderella gown.

There was a moment, pulling up to the church, when I was certain he wouldn’t show. I had to bite my tongue against begging Dad to take me home- I’m glad I didn’t!

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I’m not sure who shook worse walking down the aisle, Dad or me 🙂

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DH cried when he placed the ring on my finger.

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My brother, best man. Sister-in-law, maid of honor. Me and DH. My cousin, bridesmaid, close friend, best man.

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It was surreal. Was I dreaming?

At the park for pictures. In front; my youngest brother, ring bearer. DH’s niece, flower girl.

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We did it! Married. The word invoked feelings of comfort and sheer joy. Time to celebrate!

Grandma made our wedding cake, isn’t it beautiful?

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Mom and Dad (I miss him so!)

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Dancing with my new father-in-law- miss him, too!

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I won’t lie and say it’s been easy. DH and I are both hot-heads (he’s Scottish and a redhead, I’m French- need I say more, lol) but we took our vows seriously and worked through the issues and gradually they became fewer and farther between.

We’ve mellowed with age and melded our tastes into compromises that work for us. We’re best friends, lovers, parents and grandparents. The momentary fear I had on that Saturday so long ago was unfounded.

When you find ‘the one’, your soulmate, it’s worth taking a chance on love.

True love doesn’t happen right away; it’s an ever-growing process. It develops after you’ve gone through many ups and downs, when you’ve suffered together, cried together, laughed together.

Ricardo Montalban

Dodging a #Health Bullet and #ClimateChange


ammunition brass bullets cartridges
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

This past week was a tough one for me. We returned from a quick trip home (2500 miles in 3 days!) tired and a bit depressed. The hometown four generations of my family grew up in, is dying.

What was once a vibrant, growing town deep in the middle of oil, gas and coal country has been hit with a downturn in the economy like nothing I’ve ever seen.

To say it was disheartening would be an understatement.

I understand climate change is a concern for everyone, but should it come at the cost of livelihoods? People are losing jobs, homes, hope.

There has to be a compromise and it’s up to us to find it.

Edson- 1939
Edson, AB 1939

 

A day or two after our return, I developed this horrible pain in my lower back, left side. I put it off to a kink and took my ever faithful pain killers. But, it didn’t get better. In fact, it became unbearable every time I laid down- like a fist grinding into my back.

I hate, hate going to the doctor (it’s been 6 years since my last visit, other than for Mom and grandson) so that’s my explanation for what I did next. I attempted a self-diagnosis via the internet.

Please, don’t do this at home!

Talk about freaking out! When many of the so-called professional sites started throwing the ‘C’ word around, I quickly changed my mind and decided to call Mom’s doctor and see if I could get in. I nicely explained my dire emergency to the receptionist and that Mom, darling daughter and buddy were all patients of the clinic- imagine my surprise when she didn’t care, lol. They were fully booked and not accepting new patients- sorry.

Okay, fine. Give it another day or two to mend on its own then. Except, it didn’t. That night I moaned and groaned the hours until dawn away. The moment the walk-in clinic opened I was there. Forty minutes later, I got into the clean, stylish office (not half as bad as I’d imagined) and met with a doctor half my age, who kindly didn’t laugh when I explained the diagnosis I had come up with. Instead, he assured me it was nothing more serious than a muscle strain- possibly caused by all the gardening we’ve been doing- and subscribed some pain killers and muscle relaxants.

When I arrived home, DH ran outside to hear the news and give me a relieved hug and kiss- after all, who else was going to do his laundry? 🙂

Moral of the story- Don’t let pride go before the fall. If in doubt, visit your physician, they’re there to help.

A few of the flowers in our garden.

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Clematis

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Sweet potato vine, lobelia and petunias

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Rose and monkshood in the background

Busy bee

My Secret Addiction #Inspiration #Writing


Once a Gambler…

I have a confession to make- I love gambling on the horse races. I blame it on my grandma’s cousins, Betty and Mike. They introduced me to the thrill of racing as a young girl and I’ve been hooked ever since!

🙂

There’s just something about those beautiful, high-spirited animals prancing onto the track and lining up at the gate that makes my heart go pitty-pat 

Nowadays, I get my enjoyment from watching the races on TV- with the Triple Crown as the best.

In the United States, the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, commonly known as the Triple Crown, is a title awarded to a three-year-old Thoroughbred horse who wins the Kentucky DerbyPreakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. The three races were inaugurated in different years, the last being the Kentucky Derby in 1875. These races are now run annually in May and early June of each year. The Triple Crown Trophy, commissioned in 1950 but awarded to all previous winners as well as those after 1950, is awarded to a Triple Crown winner.

HTTPS://EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG/WIKI/TRIPLE_CROWN_OF_THOROUGHBRED_RACING_(UNITED_STATES)

Last year, in 2018, I was lucky enough to watch Justify take the crown!

Justify is only the second horse to win the American Triple Crown with an undefeated record, following Seattle Slew. Justify is descended from Seattle SlewSecretariatCount FleetWar AdmiralOmaha, and Gallant Fox, all of whom also won the American Triple Crown. He is also a descendant of English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky. Of the 13 American Triple Crown winners, Justify is the first who did not race as a two-year-old.

HTTPS://EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG/WIKI/JUSTIFY_(HORSE)

Is it any wonder I love the sport?

I decided to write a mystery set around the Kentucky Derby and added a twist by setting it in the 50’s.

Here’s a short excerpt from The Lady Said No

Gus followed the stiff-necked manservant to the door of the den, though his emotions were tugging him back to Rebecca like a starved man to a banquet.

He couldn’t believe how beautiful she’d become. She’d always been pretty, but now there was an added maturity to her features that suited her face. The tomboy figure he fondly remembered had become hills and valleys he ached to explore. They’d been best friends, then lovers, then enemies. It’d been his fault, that was the worst of it. He’d let his drive for a career ruin the only good thing in his life. He could tell himself he’d done his part. After getting his degree and returning to Bourbonville he had tried to find her. But she was right, he hadn’t tried hard enough.

Their relationship had already been floundering; it had seemed easier to let it die a natural death. He regretted that now. One glimpse of her had brought back all the old feelings. Memories of happier times.

Ernest reached for the door knob and was stopped by the officer on guard.

“Sorry, only trained personnel are allowed.”

Ernest glared at him. “I’ve worked in this household for years; I believe I am trained.”

The sergeant exchanged a helpless glance with Gus. “I’m sorry, sir. Those are the rules.”

Gus stepped between the two men before a full-scale war broke out. “It’s okay, sergeant.” He flipped open his badge. “I’m Detective Grant. The…” He waved a hand toward the butler.

Ernest lowered his brows. “Manservant.”

Gus nodded. “Manservant, was just showing me the way to the crime scene.”

The officer checked his badge, then reached back to open the door. The stench of death was immediate, a toxic mix of human waste impossible to forget. Gus turned his head to draw one last clean breath and met Rebecca’s anxious gaze.

That look gave him pause.

Why was she worried? Just how well did Rebecca know the owner of Balmoral?

“Coming, Detective?” The sergeant’s voice interrupted his musings. Gus shrugged off his misgivings and followed the man into the room, sliding past the grim-faced Ernest.

Nancy knelt by the victim, her hands covered with white gloves and booties on her feet. She glanced up when he walked in and pointed at his shoes. Gus dug through his coat pockets until he found his booties, put them on, nodded to the sergeant, and made his way over to her side.

“It’s a bad one,” she said, turning attention to her preliminary findings. “Single shot to the temple, through and through. Near as I can tell, time of death was sometime between midnight and three a.m., no sign of defensive wounds.” She stopped and gazed at him with world-weary eyes. “Who would do this, Augustus?”

Gus observed the brain matter splattered on the leather tufted chair and rich, red Aubusson carpet and his stomach churned. His first thought was crime of passion. There had been some effort made to set the scene up as a suicide. The gun rested in the victim’s open hand, finger wrapped around the trigger. A cut crystal tumbler lay on its side nearby, a stain wetting the carpet. Gus touched the wet spot and sniffed, rubbing the tips of his fingers—bourbon. The good kind. Not something a man bent on ending his own life would let go to waste.

“I’m not sure, Nancy, but I do know the brass will be all over this one, so take your time, okay? We don’t want to miss anything.”

She huffed out an indignant breath. “You telling me how to do my job, now?”

He held up a hand to halt her blistering tongue. “The Jorgensons are big news, that’s all I’m saying. Don’t they have a horse in the Derby this year?”

The sergeant, who had remained by the door, and watched their exchange with interest, piped up. “Forever Humble. Lots of money riding on that colt.” His face became animated. “You ever see him race, Detective? He’s some kind of fast. Likes to run the outside track. Gives me a heart attack every time.”

Gus smiled. “You a betting man…?”

“Fish, sir. Everyone calls me Fish.”

Nancy chuckled and the young man’s neck turned brick red.

“I’m not a gambler, no sir, but I admit I like to spend a Saturday now and then down at the track. It’s some exciting. You ever been, Mr. Grant?”

Gus shook his head. “No, can’t say as I have. Not that fond of horses, though I guess that’s the wrong thing to say in this house.” He admired the landscape watercolor on the wall, rolling hills with a herd of wild horses barreling straight at him, eyes crazy and manes flying as though they were about to burst the confines of paint and canvas.

“Augustus, there’s something you need to see.” Nancy’s voice was muffled as she stretched, shapely butt in the air, to reach something under the leather chair. She grunted and tugged until a bronze sculpture came into view. When she stood it on the carpet, he saw it was about twelve inches in height, a warrior on a horse, raised arm carrying a spear.

“There’s blood and hair fragments,” she said, turning it carefully to inspect the evidence. “I can’t be sure until I get it to the lab, but this looks like a match to our vic.”

Well, that explained why there were no defensive wounds. The poor sop probably didn’t know what hit him. Gus looked around until he found the suspiciously empty spot on the desk. He gave a wide berth to the corpse, conscious of Nancy’s critical gaze. The desk was one of those massive claw-foot affairs, mahogany maybe, rich and elegant instead of simply functional. He pulled a linen handkerchief out of his pocket and checked the drawers. An assortment of papers greeted him, some on household expenses, most on Jorgenson’s passion—thoroughbreds. Nothing that looked like a cause for murder.

Gus was about to replace the documents when a slip of yellowed paper lodged in the back of the drawer caught his eye. He reached in, using the hankie, and retrieved the handwritten note.

Do what I told you to do, or the truth will destroy you

The threat inherent on the scrap of paper chilled his blood. There was trouble brewing in the Jorgenson household, and Gus was afraid Rebecca was somehow involved.

This story is part of the upcoming boxset, Unforgettable Power- Love and Intrigue, releasing May 5th!

Seven suspenseful page-turners will captivate you with breathtaking stories and intriguing characters you’ll find positively unputdownable! If you enjoy heart-stopping, engaging novels, then you must read UNFORGETTABLE POWER – Love and Intrigue.

Pre-order your copy today!

https://amzn.to/2UJtMy4

International- http://books2read.com/UnforgettablePower

Recommend on Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/unforgettable-power-love-and-intrigue-by-mimi-barbour-and-jacquie-biggar

The #Blogging World is Alive and Well #Reading


Blogging is alive and well.

I’m surprised by how many writers feel they’re wasting time by building connections within the writing community. Where do they think book reviewers hang out?

As a reader, I’ve found many fantastic new reads thanks to the reviews I’ve read on blogging sites.

As an author, I follow blogs like Writers in the Storm and Story Empire to learn my craft. I’ve also learned the blogging community is open and friendly- always happy to welcome newcomers into their midst.

It’s a good way to build SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for your website, too! By commenting on other blogs, you’ll soon find your own stats will grow, along with your connections, so… win-win 🙂

A good way to do this is to make use of the WordPress Reader- you can find this on the top left of your website.

 

 

You can choose the posts you follow or do a search for those you’re interested in. I even follow the local news stations from there!

 

 

One of the best benefits to blogging are the friends you can make from all over the world. I’ve met people from South Africa, Sicily, England, France, the U.S and Canada. And the amazing thing is- we all love books!

One such friend recently read my new release, Skating on Thin Ice, and posted an amazing review. Here it is- in part from Staci Troilo’s awesome blog:

When a romantic suspense (one of my favorite genres) set in the hockey world (one of my favorite past times) was released by one of my favorite authors (Jacquie Biggar), I had to bump it in the queue. And like Letang’s slapshot through a goalie’s five-hole, I blazed through it. Here are my thoughts:


★★★★★ She Shoots and Scores!

Jacquie Biggar has done it again. I have yet another new book boyfriend—Mac Wanowski, captain of the Victoria WarHawks hockey team.

Mac is the perfect guy—a body that won’t quit, a quick wit to match, intelligent, chivalrous, and just damaged enough to tug your heartstrings without wanting to bash him over the head for his stupidity. (Well, not too often, anyway.)

Sam is his perfect match—strong, smart, quick-tempered, sassy, big-hearted. And she has a past with true heartache and a present with secrets that make her just a little mysterious.

If they gave a Stanley Cup to authors, Biggar would deserve one for this story.

⛸🏒⛸

Blurb:

Sam Walters has made a deal with the devil.

In order to win a much-needed contract as physical therapist to one of the NHL’s leading hockey teams, Sam must delay the recovery of their sniper, Mac Wanowski. The trouble is, the more she gets to know the taciturn hockey player, the more she aches to help him.

Mac ‘The Hammer’ Wanowski chased the Stanley Cup dream for too many years. Last time he was close it had cost him his wife. As injuries continue to plague the team, Mac works to catch a killer and keep the woman he’s come to love from the hands of a madman.

Hockey can be a dangerous sport, especially when millions of dollars are at stake.

Amazon Purchase Link

⛸🏒⛸

As you can see, the blogging community is a valuable resource. One you, as a writer, cannot afford to ignore!

 

You can also read Skating on Thin Ice in an upcoming anthology published by authors from The Authors’ Billboard- A Night She’ll Remember

Available March 31st!

Lives change as passions flare when nine USA Today Bestselling Authors share tales of intrigue, hints of suspense and new romance guaranteed to keep you reading.

Second chances, broken engagements, accidents, misled information and opposites attract are just some of what you’ll find within the passion-filled pages of A Night She’ll Remember.

 

Be sure to check out our Authors’ Billboard Monthly Contests for free ebooks, gift cards, and paperbacks.

 

Skating on Thin Ice by @jacqbiggar #RomanticSuspense #NewRelease


Skating on Thin Ice is Here!

This project began as a contemporary opposites attract romance, but it soon took on a life of its own and morphed into a fast-paced suspense instead!

Blurb

Sam Walters has made a deal with the devil.

In order to win a much-needed contract as physical therapist to one of the NHL’s leading hockey teams, Sam must delay the recovery of their sniper, Mac Wanowski. The trouble is, the more she gets to know the taciturn hockey player, the more she aches to help him.

Mac ‘The Hammer’ Wanowski chased the Stanley Cup dream for too many years. Last time he was close it had cost him his wife. As injuries continue to plague the team, Mac works to catch a killer and keep the woman he’s come to love from the hands of a madman.

Hockey can be a dangerous sport, especially when millions of dollars are at stake.

International: http://books2read.com/SkatingonThinIce

Add to your reading list: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43293227-skating-on-thin-ice

Recommend on BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/skating-on-thin-ice-the-men-of-warhawks-book-1-by-jacquie-biggar

Exclusive Excerpt

Sam lay on the ground at Mac’s back, mewling cries of terror crawling up her throat and blocking any possible clues of their assailant’s location. Someone was freaking shooting at them. Who got up in the morning and decided, I’m going to shoot someone today. Couldn’t he tell they weren’t deer or moose or whatever the hell he was aiming at?

Shaking, she ran trembling fingers over Mac’s torso, praying like she’d never prayed before that he hadn’t been hit. “I’m sorry I knocked you over,” she sobbed. “Please, M… Mac, talk to me. I’m so sc… scared.”

“Shh,” he snarled, throwing a hard glance over his shoulder. His gaze narrowed. “Are you hit?”

Shocked into silence, she dabbed her brow and lowered her hand to stare blankly at the reddish-brown streak staining the threads of her white mitt. “I….” She swallowed hard. “It’s a scratch, I’m fine.” They had bigger problems at the moment.

He considered her for a moment, then gave a short nod. “Probably some dumbass hunter. We’ll stay low for a bit, see if he moves on.” He turned his attention to the trees, searching out the monster in their midst.

Sam ducked her head to make a smaller target. Her cheek brushed the sandpaper-like surface of the snow and she inhaled the crushed pine needles under their bodies. Her mind filled with images of her family; Dad teaching them to fly fish, Kevin racing his tricycle to keep up to her and her friends, Mom encouraging her to go after her dreams. She covered her mouth to hold back the sobs. Would she ever see them again?

When she’d seen that gun pointed their way, her heart stopped. One second, she’d been contemplating the best place to hit Mac with her snowball and the next she’d seen that hunter and instinct had taken over. If he’d been shot… well, he wasn’t. If they got out of this in one piece, she was calling Uncle Thomas to pick them up. A mountain cabin was no place to be during hunting season—unless your name was Davy Crockett.

“I think he’s gone. We should be safe now.” Mac rolled onto his back and winced.

Contrite, Sam laid a hand on his broad chest. “Did I hurt you? I’m sorry.”

He turned his head to meet her gaze. “Who taught you to tackle like that, an old boyfriend?”

She smiled. “My brother, actually. He went to college on a football scholarship.”

“Ahh. Remind me to thank him sometime.” He closed his hand over hers and squeezed. “You’re quite the woman, Samantha Walters.”

Sam melted under the warmth of his regard. “Maybe you can meet him after we get off this mountain.”

He stiffened. “I’m not going anywhere.”

She sat up, oblivious to danger. “Are you nuts? You can’t be serious. What if something happens and you’re up here all by yourself? Who’s going to help you then, you big oaf?” Frustrated, she rose and dusted off her pants, keeping an eye out for any movement in the forest around them.

Maybe because of the gunshots, or maybe it was due to their little squabble, but the cheerful chirping chickadees and raucous squawks of jays had been replaced by an eerie silence. The shadows had lengthened since they’d started out just after lunch, and now stretched long, dark fingers through the broad branches of towering hemlock and fir trees. It all served to reinforce Sam’s decision; she was going back to the city where she belonged—with or without Mr. Tough Guy Wanowski.

“Can you get up on your own?” she asked, reaching for the discarded crutches. When she turned back, it was to see Mac, powerful arms braced, balancing his weight on the palms of his hands. In the next instant, he pushed upward, as smooth as a puma’s pounce, and landed on his feet with barely a wince.

Show off. Still fuming, Sam tossed him his crutches and clumped toward the cabin, wishing she could ditch the awkward snowshoes and sprint to safety. They walked in silence for about ten paces before Mac had to ruin it.

“Are you always this tempestuous?”

The dulcet tone of his voice scraped on her last nerve. “Aren’t you the least concerned? That hunter had a scope, he had to see us.” She stomped her foot, sending a puff of snow into the air.

“I know,” he said, so quietly she stopped to hear him better. He met her gaze and shrugged. “It’s not the first time.”

In Shadows by Sharon Sala #Suspense #BookReview


To protect her, he must remain a ghost…

Jack McCann has been in love with Shelly since they were teens. They married just out of college and right before he went to work as an undercover agent for the FBI. When he can, he slips away from his assignments to see her.

Jack has been undercover on his latest case for months, investigating a weapons-smuggling business. But just as the FBI is set to make the bust, Jack’s cover is blown. The last thing he feels as he crashes through a warehouse window and into the open water is a bullet piercing his back. The last thing he hears is Adam Wu promising to destroy everyone Jack loves.

Shelley’s worst nightmares come true when the FBI arrive at her doorstep to bring her the news. But she doesn’t know the truth: Jack survived the shooting and will do anything to keep his beloved wife safe—even if it means hiding in shadows…

 

 

Biography

Sharon Sala is a long-time member of RWA, as well as a member of OKRWA. She has 100 plus books in print under her name and her pen name, Dinah McCall. She is published in five different genres – Romance, Young Adult, Western, Fiction, and Women’s Fiction. First published in 1991, she’s an eight-time RITA finalist, winner of the Janet Dailey Award, four-time Career Achievement winner from RT Magazine, five time winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award, and five time winner of the Colorado Romance Writer’s Award of Excellence, winner of the Heart of Excellence Award, as well as winner of the Booksellers Best Award. In 2011 she was named RWA’s recipient of the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. Her books are New York Times , USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly best-sellers. Writing changed her life, her world, and her fate.

 

My Review

This book was a mixed bag for me.

It starts out with undercover FBI agent, Jack McCann sneaking home in the middle of an operation for a quickie with his wife, who obligingly opens her legs and says,

“Oh my God, oh my God.” Seconds later she was in her husband’s arms, returning kiss for kiss, pulling off his jacket as he removed his shoulder holster, unbuckling his belt so he could push the jeans down his legs.

Sala, Sharon. In Shadows . MIRA Books. Kindle Edition.

This is seconds after her house alarm sounds a warning that someone shut it off and a big, dark shadow of a man appears in the doorway. Now, I don’t know about you, but I would have freaked out and thrown a lamp at his head, at the very least.

The suspense amped up somewhat after this and there were a few page-flipping moments, but for me this book fell flat.

I give In Shadows three lovely kisses- Not her best.

Celebrating a Milestone- Realizing a Dream #Romance #Writer #eNovAaW


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Celebrating a Milestone

Five years ago, I decided to quit feeling sorry for myself and do something about it. You see, I’d recently moved away from home and was lost and lonely.

But, I had a dream.

One I’d carried in the back of my mind for years. I wanted to write a book. Deciding the genre was the easy part. Romance. I was an avid reader of romance novels. They took me to faraway places, fed my spirit and thrilled my heart.

Yep, romance it was.

Okay, now what?

I had a computer that I used for my bookkeeping, but had no idea how to use it as a writing tool. I needed to learn though, my lefty handwriting was atrocious- that wouldn’t work.

I searched online and found RWA® Romance Writers of America, a group of thousands geared toward helping authors better their craft. I also managed to find a local writing group and gathered up the courage to go to one of their meetings where I immediately felt at home. I joined both and began to take classes to learn the art.

It took time (I’m still a work-in-progress) but finally, FINALLY I published my first book in September of 2014.

Pride.

I could barely contain the excitement blooming in my chest to see a book with MY name on it for sale. But then came the realization. People were going to read it. My heart and soul on those pages and they were all out there– I felt sick.

The reviews trickled in, some good, some not so much, but the addiction was born. I loved to write!

This week I’m celebrating that momentous moment by sharing my first book with you- free!

Jan 11-15

Click the picture to go to Amazon

Excerpt

Nick jogged through the early morning streets, Jake trotting by his side, enjoying the peace and quiet before the town woke for the day. Little songbirds greeted him as he passed a cedar hedge on his way to the park. The air was fresh and cool at this hour. He was glad his strength had returned, his breathing even and stride long. It’d been an uphill battle. For a while after the ambush he’d shut down. Closed everyone out. He wished now he’d made it his business to keep in touch with all his old teammates. The faint sounds of a dog’s bark had Nick looking down at Jake, loping alongside. He’d healed up well, and only flinched at sudden loud noises these days. His hip had taken the brunt of the damage. When the explosion had thrown them, Nick worried he’d need to put him down, but he’d pulled through. Tough mutt.

After his run, he would head over to Sara’s and have a look at those files, see what they were looking at here. Nick had a bad feeling that Tommy boy was into some heavy shit. They needed to solve that first, before there could be a chance for him and Sara.

A sudden sharp pain stabbed him behind the eyes, causing him to falter. Jake whined, sensing his distress. Squinting through slit eyes he spotted a nearby bench, and slumped onto the seat. He pushed a shaky hand through his hair, and then using his thumb and middle finger squeezed in towards his nose, relieving the pressure. “It’s okay, boy. I’m fine. Let’s just take a little break, hmm.” The doctor had explained in excruciating detail while he lay in that hospital in Germany, how lucky he was. The explosion had hit him and sent him flying right up against the stone wall of a nearby house. Shrapnel had gouged a deep line on his forehead, right above his old bullet wound. A centimeter farther to the left and it would have been lights out, of the forever kind. Unfortunately, it’d taken his short-term memory away from him. He’d been told it would come back in dribbles, or one big slam––or maybe not ever. Nice. It angered him that he couldn’t break through the fog to discover the truth of what happened to him and his team. There was something there he could feel it.

He supposed he should be grateful he could remember his childhood, though those memories he could have lived without. Years of mental and physical abuse at the hands of his old man had sent him down nothing but a path of trouble during his high school years. Alcohol, substance abuse, vagrancy, you name it he tried it. His motto had been if you’re not living on the edge, you’re just taking up space.

Then he’d met Kendra in one of the few classes he’d decided to show up for and they’d fallen in love. She’d been the only child of lawyer parents, sweet and innocent. The odds had gone against him when they’d had unprotected sex on a hot summer’s night. She’d gotten pregnant. At least he’d done the right thing and proposed. And though her parents of course hated him, they agreed the marriage should take place. Maybe if they’d stopped it, or if he’d just walked away, Kendra and his son would still be alive today.

They’d been too young, and in the end, it tore them apart. He couldn’t even recall what the fight had been about––no doubt his lack of a ‘respectable’ job. He’d been working at a local garage at the time––all he did remember was getting up to answer the door, only to see two uniforms on the other side. Devastated, blaming himself, he spent the next couple of months shit-faced drunk. Coming out of an alcohol-induced daze one day he saw a poster for enlisting in the marines. Not caring much whether he lived or died at that point, he’d signed up. They sent him to Lackland Airforce Base in San Antonio, where he met Jake. They’d been inseparable ever since.

The searing pressure eased enough for him to open his eyes. Jake sat with his head cocked to the side, his ears laid back in commiseration. Nick nudged him with his knee and gave his sides a good hard rub, Jake groaning his thanks. “Okay, big guy, what do you say to finishing our run?” He’d learned a long time ago that pushing through the pain was often the best medicine.

He had that in common with Sara. She’d gone through both a physical and a mental trauma that would have crushed most. She was doing great, but he bet a violation like that was something from which no woman ever fully recovered.

It humbled him that she had trusted him enough to allow him to make love to her last night. Nick would never hurt a hair on her head, but there was no real way for her to be sure of that. He hoped and prayed no one would ever crush her again, and swore to do everything in his power to make sure of that, starting with Sheridan. If those files contained half of what Sara had intimated they did, he’d need some help. Checking to make sure no one was around, he pulled his cell out of his sweats and made the call.

“Hey, Chief, how are you? It’s Nick, Nickolaus Kelley. Long time, sir, too long. Shit, I’ve missed the team. How’s the whizz kid?” A big grin split his face as he listened to Frank describing Jared’s latest and greatest.

“No kidding, trust Martin to take the term, Land of opportunity, to a whole new level, right?” He laughed. Man, it was good to talk to the chief again. Why did people always let the important ones in their lives fall to the wayside, while they went about the business of life?

He could well believe Jared had almost shut down the strip; the man was scary good with electronics. “I understand that you’re out of the loop these days, sir, but I was hoping I could ask you, and Jared if he’s still with you, for a helping hand. I have a situation here and could really use your input.”

Relief coursed through his veins at the quick response to his plea. “I’ll tell you all about it when you arrive. Tomorrow then, and thanks—Frank.”

January’s Featured Blogger: Jacquie Biggar




I’m thrilled to be interviewed on artist and friend, Rob Goldstein’s wonderful #blog!

Art by Rob Goldstein

Jacquie Biggar has a wonderful gift for writing hot and extremely likable military men!

Jacqui Nelson

This month’s featured blogger is Jacquie Biggar

. Jacquie is a writer of romantic suspense novels.  She writes tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women.  Jacquie lives on Vancouver Island with her husband.

When did you start writing?

I wrote a few short stories in middle school that were well received by my teachers and fostered my dream of making it a career one day.

Unfortunately, I set it aside for many years while working and raising a family. I didn’t get serious about writing until 2012. I signed up to Romance Writers of America, took numerous classes to learn my craft and joined a couple of critique groups. One year later, I published my first suspense novel, Tidal Falls.

Did you always have a gift for writing hot guys?

Lol, I don’t know…

View original post 2,218 more words

Robyn: A Christmas Bride by @Jacqui_Nelson #WesternRomance #BookReview


Who’s the perfect match for a flame-haired Welsh tomboy who loves driving wagons?

Raised by three free-spirited older brothers, Robyn Llewellyn has learned to fight for what she wants—and now she wants to transform her boss and best friend, Max Peregrine, into a lifelong partner. Determined to become the image of what a marriage-minded man wants, Robyn trades her trousers for a dress and heads to Max’s hometown of Noelle, Colorado. But changing who she is with the help of the now happily married Brides of Noelle puts her friendship with Max at risk.

Who’s the perfect match for a work-addicted Denver business owner who loves his independence?

Defying his brother and grandpa’s wishes for him to stay with them in Noelle, Max Peregrine has created his dream job—leading a highly successful branch of Peregrines’ Post and Freight while working beside Robyn, the only person who makes him smile every day. But when she leaves without a word, Max follows her to Noelle where the choices they both must face could make it impossible for them to stay together beyond Christmas day.

Inspired by My Fair Lady, The Gift of the Magi, and the spirit of gift giving, Robyn: A Christmas Bride is a classic Western historical love story set in a small town high in the mountains during Christmas 1877.

 

 

Biography

Fall in love with a new Old West… where the men are steadfast & the women are adventurous. You’ll find Wild West scouts, spies, cardsharps, wilderness guides, and trick-riding superstars in my stories. Those are my heroines. Wait till you meet my heroes! My love for historical romance adventures with grit and passion came from watching Western movies while growing up on a cattle farm in northern Canada. I’ve been nominated for over 20 awards and won the RWA® Golden Heart® & the Laramie® — but my best reward is hearing from readers who have enjoyed my stories.

Follow me on Amazon to be the first to hear about new releases.

Visit my website ~ http://www.JacquiNelson.com ~ and subscribe to my newsletter to receive a FREE STORY and be the first to hear about exclusive bonus content. 

DO YOU LOVE HISTORICAL WESTERN ROMANCES? 
Then why not join historical western romance authors and readers on the Pioneer Hearts Facebook group and share your favorite stories, photos, and all things Old West? http://www.facebook.com/groups/pioneerhearts

My Review

Robyn Llewellyn is determined to show her boss and best friend, Max Peregrine, that she would make him the perfect wife. Desperate for results, she heads to Max’s hometown of Noelle, Colorado to seek help from the happily married Brides of Noelle. Will the changes she makes ruin her chances to get Max to see her as more than just a friend?

 Max Peregrine enjoys his Denver job at Peregrines’ Post and Freight and can’t understand why his best friend, Robyn, has run away to his hometown just when he needs her most. He follows her to Noelle-and his past-where the stubborn woman leads him on a merry dance. Will Max find a way to let Robyn know he loves her just the way she is?

This is a sweet holiday romance filled with many of the characters we’ve come to love in the small town of Noelle and an important life lesson on the value of loving ourselves as we are.

I give Robyn: A Christmas Bride 5 lovely kisses- an enjoyable tale!

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