Cover Reveal

Title: Cougar From Hell
Series: Hellman Brothers Series
Author: Marika Ray
Genre: Romantic Comedy/Small Town Romance
Release Date: January 12, 2023
Cover Design: Jennifer Olson



I have my fresh start in a new town, this time a widow with a preteen daughter who rolls her eyes enough to make them stay that way. Too bad my past mistake is also here to greet me.

Daxon Hellman. Town a-hole. Hot young contractor hired to build my house in the woods.

It’s only when I’m face-to-face with him for the first time that I realize he’s the mystery man from two years ago. It’s a long story of too many drinks, grief that made me resort to acting out, and an encounter in the dirty bathroom of a bar. Try as I might, I can’t forget that night. And now I have a name to go with that hot body.

Daxon growls at me…I irritate him with my constant social media posting. He orders me to do things…I trample all over his ridiculous commands with a smile and a choice finger in the air. He builds my house with that tool belt slung low on his hips and my cat steals his construction plans. We fit together like rain and exposed drywall.

Between insults and hot stolen kisses, Daxon and I reach a truce: to let our bodies do the talking and keep our hearts locked down. I’m older than him, which means I’m smart enough to keep a clear head. Until I realize when it comes to love, age and common sense do not go hand in hand.

This crazy town has more surprises up its sleeve to drive us apart, which makes me think this might not be our forever home after all…







 


Marika Ray is a USA Today bestselling author of steamy and sweet RomComs, spending her time behind a computer crafting stories, walking any beach she can find, and making healthy food for her kids and husband whether they like it or not. Prior to writing novels, Marika held various jobs in the finance industry, with private start-up companies, and then in health & fitness. Cats may have nine lives, but Marika believes everyone should have nine careers to keep things spicy. All her books come with a money-back guarantee that you’ll smile at least once with every book.

More information can be found at www.marikaray.com



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Teaser Tuesday – Cougar From Hell by Marika Ray

o Kindle Unlimited on January 12th!
Add to your Goodreads TBR: https://bit.ly/3Gdb0Wk
💞 Ten-year age gap with an explosive mee-cute💞 Hero is the town a-hole, hired to build the heroine her dream cabin💞 Heroine is widowed and now a single mom, looking for peace, not love, and certainly not a fling💞 small town RomCom hilarity

𝘐 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘮𝘺 𝘧𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘩 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘵 𝘪𝘯 𝘢 𝘯𝘦𝘸 𝘵𝘰𝘸𝘯, 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦 𝘢 𝘸𝘪𝘥𝘰𝘸 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘢 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘦𝘯 𝘥𝘢𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘳𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘴 𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘦𝘺𝘦𝘴 𝘦𝘯𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘺. 𝘛𝘰𝘰 𝘣𝘢𝘥 𝘮𝘺 𝘱𝘢𝘴𝘵 𝘮𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘢𝘭𝘴𝘰 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘦𝘵 𝘮𝘦.

Daxon Hellman. Town a-hole. Hot young contractor hired to build my house in the woods.It’s only when I’m face-to-face with him for the first time that I realize he’s the mystery man from two years ago. It’s a long story of too many drinks, grief that made me resort to acting out, and an encounter in the dirty bathroom of a bar. Try as I might, I can’t forget that night. And now I have a name to go with that hot body.

Daxon growls at me…I irritate him with my constant social media posting. He orders me to do things…I trample all over his ridiculous commands with a smile and a choice finger in the air. He builds my house with that tool belt slung low on his hips and my cat steals his construction plans. We fit together like rain and exposed drywall.

Between insults and hot stolen kisses, Daxon and I reach a truce: to let our bodies do the talking and keep our hearts locked down. I’m older than him, which means I’m smart enough to keep a clear head. Until I realize when it comes to love, age and common sense do not go hand in hand. This crazy town has more surprises up its sleeve to drive us apart, which makes me think this might not be our forever home after all…

“𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙘𝙝𝙚𝙢𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙮 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙗𝙖𝙣𝙩𝙚𝙧 𝙗𝙚𝙩𝙬𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝘿𝙖𝙭𝙤𝙣 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙍𝙞𝙩𝙖 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙖𝙗𝙨𝙤𝙡𝙪𝙩𝙚𝙡𝙮 𝙚𝙡𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙧𝙞𝙘.”
#CougarFromHellMarikaRay #CougarFromHellTeaserBlast #TeaserTuesday #ComingSoon #JanuaryRelease #AgeGap #RomCom #SmallTown #MarikaRayAuthor #MustRead #TBR #EnticingJourney
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Teaser Tuesday – Alpha Mike Foxtrot by Giulia Lagomarsino

~ ✰ ~ 𝗧𝗘𝗔𝗦𝗘𝗥 𝗧𝗨𝗘𝗦𝗗𝗔𝗬 ~ ✰ ~Alpha Mike Foxtrot: an OPS Protector Romance Novel Book 5 by Giulia Lagomarsino is releasing 12.26

𝗣𝗿𝗲𝗢𝗿𝗱𝗲𝗿 ➜ https://mybook.to/AlphaMikeFoxtrot
𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙘𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙢𝙚 𝙘𝙧𝙖𝙯𝙮, 𝙡𝙚𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙡—𝙥𝙨𝙮𝙘𝙝𝙤𝙩𝙞𝙘.I’m all those things and more. The darkness calls to me, sending me spiraling out of control. But one woman calms me, bringing me back from the edge when I’m about to lose it. She’s my savior in every way possible.𝘽𝙪𝙩 𝙨𝙝𝙚 𝙙𝙤𝙚𝙨𝙣’𝙩 𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙣 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬 𝙄 𝙚𝙭𝙞𝙨𝙩. 𝙔𝙚𝙩.I see the way she struggles, trying to maintain her sanity. I won’t let her go down the same path as my mother. She won’t be another statistic. There’s only one thing for me to do—take her.𝙄𝙩’𝙨 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙠𝙞𝙙𝙣𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙞𝙛 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙨𝙤𝙣. She didn’t believe me when I said that. But I’m not worried about it. She’ll soon find out there are worse things than being hitched to my wagon. I’ll cherish the ground she walks on for the rest of my life, whether she’s in it or not.𝙎𝙝𝙚 𝙞𝙨 𝙢𝙮 𝙥𝙧𝙞𝙤𝙧𝙞𝙩𝙮, 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙤𝙣𝙡𝙮 𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙨𝙤𝙣 𝙄 𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙪𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙡𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙙𝙖𝙧𝙠𝙣𝙚𝙨𝙨 𝙩𝙖𝙠𝙚𝙨 𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙧.I’m not naive. Just because I want Anna doesn’t mean I can have her. I am not a good man, but I am the man for her. I will protect her with my life, slaughter anyone that tries to take her from me. And when an enemy threat looms, I’ll remove them just like any other baddie.𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙞𝙨 𝙣𝙤 𝙨𝙪𝙧𝙫𝙞𝙫𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙋𝙝𝙖𝙣𝙩𝙤𝙢 𝙞𝙨 𝙘𝙖𝙡𝙡𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙤 𝙢𝙚.
𝗔𝗱𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗧𝗕𝗥 ➜ https://bit.ly/3OZ5dpW𝗕𝗼𝗼𝗸𝗯𝘂𝗯 ➜ https://bit.ly/3um5utt
🔥 𝗦𝗧𝗔𝗥𝗧 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗦𝗘𝗥𝗜𝗘𝗦 𝗧𝗢𝗗𝗔𝗬 – 𝗞𝗜𝗡𝗗𝗟𝗘 𝗨𝗡𝗟𝗜𝗠𝗜𝗧𝗘𝗗In the Trenches ➜ http://getbook.at/OPS-InTheTrenchesNuclear Option ➜ http://getbook.at/OPS-NuclearOptionCharlie Foxtrot ➜ http://viewbook.at/OPS-CharFoxtrotPop Smoke ➜ http://viewbook.at/OPS-PopSmoke
#alphamikefoxtrotteaserblast#teasertuesday#alphamikefoxtrotgiulialagomarsino#giulialagomarsinoauthor#owensprotectiveservices#comingsoon#decemberrelease#protectorromance#mustread#amazonpreorder#enticingjourney
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AuThursday – Claire Kohler

Claire Kohler
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
My favorite preschool activity was story time if that tells you anything. I’ve loved writing since I was ten years old. I wanted to pursue an English degree in college but felt it would be too hard to make a career out of writing, so I became a teacher. My husband actually encouraged me to get back into writing in 2016, and that’s when I got the idea for what became my debut novel. It took me five years from that idea to publication, but now I’m finally chasing my dream and am about to publish my second novel in October.
How do you make time to write?
I have a three-year-old and a one-year-old. I made it a habit to write during afternoon naps five days a week.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes! One of my strengths from the Clifton Strengths Finder is intellection. That means it’s important for me to turn ideas over and over in my mind. If I go too fast, I tend to get stuck or the story won’t feel right, and I’ll have to go back and think for a while until the right idea comes to me (I’m a discovery writer, so I don’t plan out my stories before I start writing them). It’s also important to soak up new information, and sometimes that means taking your nose away from the grindstone and enjoying others’ stories, so you can improve your own.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I write historical fantasy! I’ve always enjoyed monsters and the magic of fantasy, but I also love learning about cultures from around the world. Historical fantasy allows me to blend the two, so fantasy seems like maybe it isn’t such a stretch to believe in. Maybe mythical creatures did exist once upon a time.
How are you publishing your recent book and why? 
I’m an indie author. I originally tried the traditional route, but without connections, it’s hard to get an agent. Plus, you’re limited to the type of story a publishing house wants to print. With indie, I can create what I would like to read.The Heart of Everton Inn
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
I’m an introvert! I love people, but working with them can be intimidating, so being an author is great. I hide away in my office/cave and create works of art that I can then share with the world.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Learn, learn, learn as much as you can, and then be brave enough to chase your dream.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
First off, there’s my website: www.clairekohlerbooks.com, but I’m also on Facebook and Instagram.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
“I shall always love you, my dear bairn. Remember that, no matter what happens. And you must promise me something before I go,” the older woman whispered.
“Anything, Mum,” Briony answered.
“You must stay away from the water.”
Briony looked down at the floor, holding back tears as she tried to get a handle on herself. She couldn’t fathom why this was her mother’s dying wish, why this was so important.
Is her fear o’ the sea that strong? How can she hate it so much?
Briony felt the enigmatic pull she always did when she thought of the ocean. It called to her in a way she could neither explain nor understand. She had no reason to desire it as she did, for the sea had stolen her father from them years ago. At least, that was what her mother told her since Briony had no memory of the man.
She glanced out the window of the small cottage, wishing she could run to the waves at that very moment and escape the expectation lurking in her mother’s eyes. No matter how Briony replied, she knew she would cause misery; the only question was who would have to bear it.
She turned back to her mother, ignoring the lump in her throat as she said, “I promise.”
At hearing those words, Bethany gave Briony an earnest smile that lit up the room much more than the candles around them. Then, with a small sigh, the older woman closed her eyes and relinquished her spirit.
Briony almost felt it depart, ascending from her mother’s physical form before slipping away.
And it was at that precise moment that a series of bloodcurdling howls rang through the air. The sounds rose from just beyond Everton’s shores, filling the entire village with dread. The only person who didn’t notice them was the young woman herself, for the cries melded with her own moans of anguish as perfectly as if they had all come from the same throat.
The Secret of Drulea Cottage (Betwixt the Sea and Shore, Book 1) by Claire Kohler

Cover Reveal – Hiding from the Truth

Title: Hiding from the Truth
Series: Finding the Truth Series
Author: A.B. Medley
Genre: Romantic Suspense/Small Town
Release Date: August 16, 2022
Cover Design: Cover Me Darling (Marisa Wesley)



Secrets don’t keep.
Lucy’s are life-changing and dangerous.
Her darkest one is an abusive ex who will stop at nothing to control her, leaving only a smoking ember of who she used to be.
She thinks she’s alone in the battle to get her life back.
Then she meets Tate.
The one man who seems to tear down every defense she’s built around her heart.
The problem is…he doesn’t want a relationship and she wants it all.
Tate’s no stranger to secrets, but he’s content until he meets her.
At first sight, he’s enamored by Lucy.
But the more he discovers, the deadlier her truth becomes.
Now he’s determined to keep her safe whether she wants his help or not.
Suddenly— the ice around his heart is melting, leaving him helpless to fight his feelings for her.
Can they overcome their pasts and the real danger they face to give love a fighting chance, or will they keep hiding from the truth?








 


A.B. Medley lives in Tennessee with the love of her life and two sons. Her husband stole her heart when she was sixteen and their relationship is one of those meant to be love stories you find in magazines and novels.
She is a dental hygienist who loves to read and has always dabbled in writing. When she’s not making people’s smiles shine, she enjoys belting out songs with her boys, dancing, raspberries, baseball, and anything vintage. Like any proper Tennessean, Sundrop is her drink of choice.
She loves her family and friends fiercely and believes in always chasing your dreams.
Deception in the Truth is her debut novel—but now she’s hooked, and there’s more to come.



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AuThursday – Becca Turner

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m an author from southwestern Missouri, but I spent the first couple of years of my life in a small town an hour north of Oklahoma City. Somehow I got stuck with an Okie accent and I really love Green Country. I noticed that a lot of contemporary western romances are set in Texas. I was like, okay, but Oklahoma has its fair share of cowboys, so I decided to set a book series in a fictional town near Tulsa. Now I can’t stop writing about cowboys.
How do you make time to write?
I write in Google Docs on my phone. I basically have a word processor anywhere I go. I’ve been known to write while standing in long shopping lines, in restaurants, in cars, and pretty much everywhere.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes. Sometimes I just don’t feel like writing, but I find it’s mostly due to real-life stress or a lack of connection with the characters.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
Specifically contemporary western romance. I used to write historical westerns and even paranormal western romance, but in the last couple of years, I’ve focused on contemporary. When I was 16, I co-wrote a contemporary western romance with a friend. It never made it to publication, but the story stuck with me. In 2017 (almost twenty years later) another friend invited me to write for a boxed set. So I rewrote the first one, changed a bunch of stuff, and now there are six novellas and five novels in my Only an Okie Will Do series. The next novel should be coming out in late July.
How are you publishing your recent book and why?
I publish everything indie. I signed on with a couple of houses a few years ago, but three went under and I couldn’t see eye to eye with an editor at another. I like being my own boss. It’s also opened up pathways for me to learn book formatting. I also have several works published on a visual novel app called Chapters. It’s been a huge learning curve to create visual characters and get the text on there, but it’s really cool to see the stories come to life. And the readers here are so supportive and wonderful.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
Definitely an introvert. It gives me a lot of time to write.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Hope is the feeling you have that the feeling you have isn’t permanent. – Jean Kerr
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Writing isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always fun. It’s full of hardships and disappointment and days of staring at your blank earnings dashboard. But when you touch someone with your words, you know you’re in the right place. Use that to keep going, because if you’re truly meant to be a writer, even after long breaks and slumps and swearing you’re done for good, you’re not done. A reader once told me she was bawling at 12:30 at night over the ending of my book. It moved me to tears because I was amazed that she felt so strongly over my characters. If I’d never gone back to my computer after the last time I said I was done, I’d never have gotten that message, and so many more like it, from readers.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
This is from my first novel in the Only an Okie Will Do series, Cowboy Kind of Trouble.
trouble“Life’s not fair.” He slapped the side of the wheelchair. “So I guess I’ll sit my pathetic ass in the house all day from now on so you can keep an eye on me.”
“Wait. Listen to me, please?” She skirted Cielo and moved swiftly to Will’s side. “I didn’t panic because I didn’t think you couldn’t or shouldn’t go somewhere. I worried because…because I care what happens to you.”
His expression didn’t soften. “Why?”
“For the same reason you care that I’m upset after Ronni texts me. I guess we’re friends and we want each other to be all right.” She didn’t want to admit she was attracted to him. That maybe her concern went beyond caretaker and client. Because if she was honest with herself, before Will, her life had felt a lot emptier.
“Because I’m a paycheck.” He stared past her. “If you let me get hurt or killed, you’re out of a job. Maybe permanently.”
“Don’t say things like that. That’s not it.”
He stared sullenly at the pasture. “Right. Whatever. Go back to what you were doing before I messed everything up. Again.”
“Will Baxter, be quiet.”
“Why should I? I know you’d have told me where to stuff my attitude if you could’ve after the first day you were here.” He avoided her gaze. “I’m the last person you—or anyone—wants to deal with. Just admit it.”
She kneeled beside him and put her hand on his bicep. With a few words, she’d wrecked his confidence. “You don’t know everything.”
His back was straight, shoulders square, jaw tight. “I know the truth when I see it. Maybe we’d both be better off if you left for the day.” His comment stung, as he meant it to.
“You’re throwing up that wall to prove to yourself that you’re not worth me caring about you. Well, you’re wrong, just like you were when I first started coming here. I’m not going anywhere.” She leaned forward, her stomach pressed against the arm of his chair. Her face was inches from his. “I do care about you. More than I should.”
“Why?” His voice was a dry whisper.
“I can’t help myself.” She pressed her hands to either side of his face and pulled him closer. Damn it anyway. She kissed him, throwing the rules out the door once again. He pushed his fingers into her hair, holding her close. As though he was hungry for her kiss. As though he’d given it considerable thought. The same way she had. When she wasn’t dreading more bad news from Ronni, she thought about Will. About how they’d talked. How he laughed.

AuThursday – Chloe Holiday

PNWA picture thumbnailTell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I’m a military physician turned novelist who grew up on a farm, and until I went out on my own, the only way I could travel was through books. I strive to create that magical, transportive experience for readers—everyone can use an escape sometimes!

Do you write full-time or part-time?

Full-time, now that I’ve retired.

How much research do you do?

Lots! Much of what I write is from direct experience (medical or military subplots, scuba diving, aviation) but for the rest, I do extensive research online as well as interviews, and getting beta readers who are like my characters—it’s so important to make them authentic and avoid any “gimme a break” moments. For example, I wrote a Deaf heroine in Submerged Hopes and benefitted greatly from a fantastic beta reader who’s Deaf, and I consulted the Greek community for aspects of the Helios Series.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? It was great to grow up with brothers and serve in the military; I use a unisex name in my online international critique group and was quite pleased when men assumed I was a male and wondered “how I could write women so well!” To me, the most difficult thing is a male POV for sex scenes. I devil my poor husband with all sorts of questions.

How did you come up with the idea for your series, Helios?

I wanted to write a romance novel (my first novel was a thriller and still unpublishes) but felt “stuck” at how to start it—too many fun ideas swirling around in my head, and it felt like a shaken-up snow globe. Finally, I drew character types and tropes out of a bowl, so that’s why Helios features a sheltered young woman, a foreign billionaire alpha hero, a workplace romance, and elements of dubious consent—although the latter was hard to do, so I softened that aspect. The rest came out of my military background and “what if” thoughts. I really love some adventure and suspense in my stories, so that’s where the rock climbing, scuba diving, and adventure racing come in, plus I want my stories to be varied, so each pairing is different in terms of characters and conflicts. I also wanted to write a series in which each novel was a stand-alone so that readers could enter at any point.

What are your current projects?

I just published Fly Boy, about a crop duster in Texas and a woman trying to keep her late grandmother’s farm out of foreclosure, and am in final revisions on No Easy Match, about a transplant surgeon setting up a program for an enigmatic CEO in The Bahamas. It’ll be out late summer. I also just signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press for a novella in their Passports to Pleasure series. This one’s about an American GI who encounters a German girl outside a pub, in the middle of a raucous group of soccer fans.

What does literary success look like to you?

Ha! Though I wouldn’t turn down a movie based on my stories, success to me is having a cadre of readers who have been touched by my work and eagerly anticipate my next story.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

1) Read, read, read, both in and out of the genre in which you’d like to write. Seeing that the best-loved stories are still imperfect is freeing. 2) Find your “tribe” of fellow authors, with whom you can compare notes, get feedback, and hone your craft. 3) Eventually, you’ve got to take off the training wheels and put yourself out there! It’s scary at first but gets better.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

My website has my blog, more about the books, and people can sign up for my newsletter to download a free copy of Finders, Keepers: https://www.chloeholiday.com/ 

You can also find me here:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19579299.Chloe_Holiday

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Chloe-Holiday-Writer-102345001394478

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/chloe-holiday

Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Chloe-Holiday/e/B0875SGW6J?ref 

Instagram: https://instagram.com/chloeholiday27 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ridenour_robin

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

FlyBoy 3.5 MB

Travis pulled dry clothes over his damp skin and drove home, thinking. It was about the most embarrassing way to run into her he could have imagined, but the good thing was it could only get better from there, and at least the encounter had broken the ice.

Time to man up.

When he got home, he texted the number Nana had given him in the event of an emergency, asking to meet Tricia the next day. She sent a terse reply, granting an audience.

I’ll take Jake with me. Tricia always had a soft spot for animals, and women loved the yellow Lab. “It sucks that I need to use you to smooth the way, though,” he told the dog, who wagged and grinned, though he was less happy about the bath that followed.

The next morning at ten, Travis signaled for Jake to jump into the pickup—the cab this time, since it was so hot. The dog sat in the passenger seat, tongue hanging out, as he gazed around.

“Try to charm her,” Travis advised him. “Soften her up for me.”

Jake wagged, as good as a promise, but just to make sure it went well, Travis stopped on the shoulder short of the final bend and opened the door. “Hop out and pee now—I don’t want you hosing down her flower bushes.” 

Jake leapt out and lifted his leg.

“Good dog.”

The Lab raised his nose, whirled, and took off.

“No! Bad dog.” Travis slammed the pickup door. “Jake, wait. Hey, come back!” Damn it. Travis loped after him but when he heard a feminine cry of outrage, he broke into a sprint.

“Eww! Get off her!”

Travis tore up the lane to the yard.

Jake was trying his darnedest to hump a tall white poodle-looking dog, while Tricia hauled back on his collar. The thing had shaggy leggings like the boots of an exotic dancer, fluffy ears, and was otherwise sleekly sculpted except for a poof at the end of her tail.

Well, hell. “Jake, no. Bad dog!” Travis caught up and pulled his dog away, panting from the run, trying not to stare at Tricia’s cleavage on display as she wrangled her poodle.

Tricia glared at him. “Is this your dog?”

“Yeah. Sorry. I don’t know what got into him—or maybe I do. I think your dog’s in heat.” The poodle angled her fancy behind toward the eager Lab, wagging, and Travis got a better grip on Jake’s collar.

Tricia scowled. “Even if she is, that’s still no excuse.”

“Yeah, it is. They can’t help it—just doing what comes naturally.” He glanced at the lah-dee-dah pooch and tried to disarm Tricia with a joke. “He just can’t resist a pretty tail.”

“Well, he’d better resist or I’ll castrate him myself.” She eyed Travis as if considering a two-for one. “There better not be any puppies from this.” 

“He’s already neutered. He was just going through the motions.” From her snort, that was the wrong thing to say.

“What is he doing here, anyway?” 

Jake wagged harder, as if she’d praised him.

“I just thought you’d like to meet him. And that maybe the subliminal would be good, with the secret language of dogs and all.”

Her eyebrows rose. “Secret language? It wasn’t subtle in the least, let alone secret. ‘Hey, baby, let’s get it on’ doesn’t remotely qualify.” She narrowed her eyes at Jake. “You can stay in the bathroom, Romeo.” Holding the door open, she pointed down the hall.

“Come on, Jake.” Travis took his dog inside. Feminine shoes were lined up at the entrance, and he glanced at her bare feet, red toenail polish flashing in the sun at the threshold. “The secret language of dogs means what folks extrapolate to the owners,” he explained, slipping off his boots before she asked.

“You mean like rude and undisciplined?” 

“Ouch.” He put Jake in the bathroom, told him, “Stay,” and closed the door. He padded back to the living room. Strange not to see Nana puttering in the kitchen.

Tricia nodded to the sofa. “Have a seat, and an apple if you’re hungry.”

“Thanks.” He pulled his gaze from pretty feet to a glass coffee table which held a bowl of fruit like always, a big new picture book beside it. “No, a Labrador signals that a man is reliable, decent, and family-oriented.” He spread his hands when she raised an eyebrow. “Hey, you can’t argue with science.”

Tricia snorted again and headed to the kitchen, graceful as he remembered. “Science, huh?”

Thank heavens she was over her snit. “Yep. A man with a pit bull or Rottweiler is perceived as more aggressive, or maybe a lawbreaker.” Well, damn, that hadn’t been smart. Travis hurried on. “And a lady with a poodle—” Oh, Lord. Just shut up now.

She paused, her hand on the fridge door. “Yeah? What’s the great, secret significance of a woman with a poodle?” She jerked it open and pulled out a pitcher of tea.

Well, hell. “It, uh … Women who own poodles are, uh, supposed to be the kind most likely to agree to … a one-night stand.” His cheeks heated.

Tricia blinked, her face completely blank. But instead of the expected explosion, she laughed so hard she spilled tea on the tray. She threw down a dishtowel to blot it, carried the tray over to the coffee table, and handed him a glass before she dabbed at her eyes. “You could be right, I suppose—”

Damn! Is she offering? Travis choked on his tea.

“—but Nana’s not here to ask. This is her dog, Bella.”

Travis coughed until his eyes teared up.

AuThursday – Darlene P. Winston

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
 
I’m a wife, mother, and grandmother who work full time in corporate America but would love to write full-time. I’m an avid reader and lover of a good movie. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I’ve been fortunate to publish three novels and look forward to publishing more.
 
How do you make time to write?
 
I write during free moments. I keep a notepad handy at all times since I never know when a character will appear with suggestions.
 
Do you believe in writer’s block?
 
Yes, I do believe in writer’s block but I try not to let it linger too long.
 
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
 
I consider my work to be contemporary fiction because I focus on realistic life situations written for an adult audience.
 
How are you publishing your recent book and why?
 
Currently, I’m publishing as an indie author. I’d love to go the traditional route just haven’t had the opportunity.
 
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
 
I’m on the spectrum. I can be both. Being an introvert hinders me from openly talking about myself and my work.
 
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
 
It’s never too late to be what you might have been.
 
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
 
Simply never give up. Dr. Seuss was rejected many times.
 
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
 
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
 
Book Cover - Perfectly ImperfectMinutes later he emerged from the bathroom and looked over at K.C., who remained in the same position he’d left her in. He walked over to a chair and grabbed his clothes and began to dress.
 
“So we aren’t going to talk about this?” she asked.
 
He swiftly turned toward her. His clipped tone alerted her that he was not happy with her. “No, we aren’t K.C.” She wasn’t going to give up. “Dre–“
 
He held up his hand, stopping her. When he was sure that he had her attention he spoke as he continued to get dressed. “I’m serious, K.C., I refuse to have this conversation with you. You agreed, we agreed that we wouldn’t that we wouldn’t have any more arguments about Desirae, and for you to bring her into our bed is totally unacceptable.”
 
She opened her mouth to speak but he continued before she could get a word in. “Hear me because I am only going to say this one time. When I make love it’s to the woman I am in bed with, and for more than a year now, that woman has been you. I’ve had no need to think of, fantasize about, want, or need another at any time, and that includes in and out of bed.”
 

AuThursday – Chelsea Williams

Please welcome Chelsea Williams to the Clog Blog!  Chelsea, tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m Chelsea, I’m a single mom living in a small town in Indiana and I’m an upcoming children’s book author. My book, There’s Something About “I Love You”, will be available for preorders next month! My hope for the book is to remind people of the power of love. I’ve struggled with my mental health, and feelings of unworthiness for a long time, but becoming a mom helped those negative feelings start to heal. I felt like there was no way I would have been given the opportunity to be such a special little girl’s mom if I wasn’t worthy.
How do you make time to write?
I work a full-time job where the hours are early so I usually come home and take the time I have before school pick up to write. But I also make sure to just make the time. Writing is something I love, and it’s really like therapy for me so it’s important to me to make time for it.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Absolutely! You’re talking to someone with self-diagnosed ADD so writer’s block, mental fog, I definitely struggle sometimes!
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
So my first book coming out is a children’s book, and I think it came to me because I have a young daughter. I’m such a kid at heart and I’ve always loved a good animated film and still cherish the books I read as a young girl. It just made sense to me to write a children’s book where I can write something with an important message while also having it be fun and light-hearted. I also have a couple novel ideas rolling around in my head though so I’m hoping to bring those to fruition as well! I’ve always loved reading and writing. Immersing myself in a story has been a way for me to escape life at times. And my imagination can run pretty wild so I’d love to work on a novel next!
How are you publishing your recent book and why?
I’m indie publishing my children’s book. I think for me when I wrote my first manuscript, I had sent it in for a review and the feedback I got was good, but they wanted to know why I wrote it in rhyming format. They said it’s not popular and I’d need a reason to do it that way. My reason was, that I liked it that way. And so many books I’d read as a young girl were in rhyming format. I love it! And I truly think it helps kids read, it’s a form of poetry and I really feel like it’s an art. So after years of not working on my book because I kind of felt like I’d hit a roadblock, I just decided I’m going to work hard and publish it myself. I didn’t want to have to wait for someone else’s approval.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert? How does this affect your work?
I’d say I’m both. I’m about 3 months away from 30 and the older I get the more introverted I become. I think I’m just a homebody. But with the small group of friends I do have, I’m super outgoing and love to laugh and just be myself. I’ve also been working on my social media presence to get the word out about my book and I do find myself coming out of my shell more and more. I guess it just affects what I write about. Sometimes my introverted side wants to shy away from sharing the REAL thoughts and feelings I’m having.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Probably,
“We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are.”
I’m really good at telling myself I’ll never change or I’ll never get through something. So I like that one because it’s kind of the kick I need to be like, well yes, actually I can. I just have to decide to and work on it.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
If you want to start writing, just do it. Period. Don’t let fear or other people’s opinions stop you from doing something you love.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Www.chelseawilliamswrites.com is where you’ll find my blog and you can keep up with my children’s book (which is my main focus right now) at www.Instagram.com/writerchelseawilliams
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
Love is a powerful thing, so strong,
like a hero saving the day!
When all seems lost, it swoops right in,
and makes everything okay.
For nothing is lost forever
when love is leading the way.

AuThursday – Shannon O’Connor

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m a twenty something bisexual single mother from New York. I started writing full time during the pandemic and started publishing poetry in 2018, with my first romance novel in 2021.
How do you make time to write?
This is something I’m still figuring out, I honestly write when the creativity strikes.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I do! It hits me more often than I’d like.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
Poetry and Contemporary Romance. Poetry is something that has always been there for me and gives me a way to let out my feelings. It helps me process everything I’m feeling and heal. Contemporary romance is something newer for me. I’ve always written growing up but lately I have all these ideas and stories to tell that really feels like an escape. They’re stories I wish I had growing up or character’s who’s stories I feel I need to tell.
How are you publishing your recent book and why? 
Indie! I like the control that indie publishing has. Being able to be in complete control of each step is really important to me.
Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?
Extrovert. I like to think this positively affects my work because I will go out and look for new experiences to be able to write about them first hand.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
You got this. (something my mother has always said)
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Keep writing, take breaks but then keep writing & write the story you wish you could read.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
From my upcoming short story Christmas Sweets featured in the anthology, A Taste of You:
If there’s one thing to know about me it’s this; I hate Christmas. I’m not like a Grinch or anything, I’ll get the ones I love presents, spend the holidays with my family, but I just hate what it brings out in some people. I own a bakery and I have never seen people more hostile than they are at Christmas time. Something about the holidays bring out the worst in people. Because of this, I normally spend most of November and December in the back of the cafe. I’ll busy myself with paperwork, baking cookies, frosting cakes, anything to keep me from interacting with customers.
Except half my staff caught the flu this week so I’ve been forced to take charge of the counter. I guess that’s what I get for being in charge. I’ve already had several customers tell me they wouldn’t be coming back. Another customer angry that we don’t make cakes from scratch on the spot for their children’s birthday party they forgot to order a cake for.
I’m quickly making it through the line of customers asking for pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin flavored desserts. It’s one of our biggest sellers this time of year, and I can’t say I blame them, it’s one of my favorites too. Most other places give up on Pumpkin after October but this is when it really thrives. Half our front case is decked out in pumpkin flavored cheesecake, muffins, bagels, donuts, bread, and cake.
Although I do miss when just two weeks away I was decorating jack o lanterns and tombstones. Halloween is a much better holiday in my opinion, the chance for you to dress up with no fear or expectations. The day where it’s okay to be the most exuberant you, you can be. I sigh as I finish wrapping up a pumpkin cheesecake and pass it to the customer to pay. She thanks me with a smile and I’m silently grateful for her patience.