Tuesday, April 25, 2023

A Bundle of Romance

Libraries are one of those secret addictions I have had since childhood when my mother first introduced me to them. Every week I'd visit the town library and check out one or two books. No matter what city I lived in since then--from Denver to Los Angeles/Burbank to San Diego and Seattle-- I have always had a library card wherever I lived. 

Today's guest in My Writing Corner, Linda Griffin, got my immediate attention when she told me about her profession as a librarian. I have had the good fortune to feature two of her other books, Love, Death and the Art of Cooking and Bridges.  Now she brings us a collection of four novellas called Reluctant Hearts.  Let's turn it over to Linda to learn a little bit more about her and hear about her latest book. 

I was born and raised in San Diego, California and I would never want to live anywhere else. I retired from the San Diego Public Library, where I had the pleasure of managing the Central Library’s fiction collection, in order to spend more time on my writing. Although I also enjoy reading biography, memoir, and history, fiction remains my first love. In addition to the three R’s—reading, writing, and research—I enjoy Scrabble, movies, and travel.

My earliest ambition was to be a “book maker” and I wrote my first story, “Judy and the Fairies,” with a plot stolen from a comic book, at the age of six. My stories, in every length from short shorts to novellas, have been published in numerous journals, including Eclectica, Thema Literary Journal, and Avalon Literary Review, and most recently, Willow Review

Reluctant Hearts, a one-volume collection of four contemporary romance novellas, is my sixth book from the Wild Rose Press. 

Four stories, four couples. None of them are ready to love again. Can they overcome their personal challenges to find unexpected romance?

The original title of “No Regrets” was “The Reluctant Heart,” so when I decided to put the four stories together, I entitled it Reluctant Hearts. I chose “No Regrets” as the new title for the first novella when I realized that my story “Regrets Only,” which was published in The Binnacle in Spring 2015, could have been a prequel. The story can be downloaded from my website: Regrets Only .

No Regrets

Darien Francis has a small business, Errands on Call, and Richard Li is a bank guard with a small daughter he rarely sees. They meet when he saves her during a bank robbery and become friends, but she’s afraid to love again after a previous relationship ended badly.


      “Well, you are too good to be true, aren’t you?” She grinned, and then she sobered, and their eyes met. They stopped walking. The dogs tugged at the leashes and strayed from the path, sniffing at everything they could reach. Richard tossed the remains of his lunch in a trash container and put his arms around her. The sounds of traffic grew distant, muted. Manning walked in a circle, wrapping the leash around their legs. They both laughed, and they kissed quickly and then not so quickly. “In a public place,” she said in mock disapproval. 

The inspiration for this story was a TV show bank robbery. I noticed that the bank guard might have been able to stop it if he’d acted quickly enough. Maybe he was distracted…by a woman? 


Shane Kenniston is working in a factory after his life was upended by a false accusation. Beth Parker is a recent widow who had a crush on Shane when he was her sister’s youth orchestra leader. They meet again when Beth moves into the same apartment building, but neither is ready for the complications of their relationship.  


       “So, you don’t smoke, you don’t drink, and you don’t do Halloween? What do you do?”

“Whatever you’ll let me do, I guess,” he said. He hadn’t used that old line since college.

She was surprised, but she didn’t seem upset. She gazed at him speculatively for a few seconds and then leaned towards him. He didn’t want to take anything for granted, so he waited for her to kiss him first, but he responded without hesitation. She tasted of beer and cherry-flavored lip gloss. “Oh, gosh,” she said. “Wait till I tell Patty I kissed Mr. Kenniston.”

A scene in the movie, “Social Contract,” made me reflect that a man who slept with a woman who claimed to be 24 would have his life implode if she turned out to be 15. It was a story I had no interest in writing, though, until I read a newspaper article about registered sex offenders not being allowed to give out candy at Halloween. The character of Shane was partly based on the leader of the San Diego Youth Symphony, which holds public rehearsals in Balboa Park.

The Shape of Life

Contractor David Early and lab tech Kate Howard meet in the Laundromat, but her life is consumed by the needs of her disabled child, and David isn’t ready for the responsibility. 


Kate,” he said, into a pause that had unexpectedly lengthened into a silence, and she turned toward him, smiling a little.Without knowing he was going to, he kissed her.

She was warm and willing, and then she murmured, “David,” half in protest, and pulled away. “I’m sorry,” she said. “It’s not you. You’re a very nice guy.”

“It’s all right.”

“I can’t do this right now. My life is complicated enough.”

“I wasn’t trying to complicate your life.”

“No, I know.” 

“It’s all right,” he said again. He took her hand. “Relax. There’s no cost or obligation.”

The inspiration here was nothing more than a meditation on the shape of life, but the history really begins with my childhood, when “Karen,” by Marie Killilea, who founded the Cerebral Palsy Association, was my favorite book. 

House Hunters 

Realtor Frank Ellison meets speech therapist Kayla Barnes at an open house, and Kayla’s roommate Gia draws Frank into their circle. Unfortunately Frank’s mistaken first impression of Kayla derails any chance of romance, and Kayla has given up dating after a broken engagement. 


       Her shape had never bothered him before. But right now, it was distracting him to know she had that lovely, decidedly female body under her jeans and sweater. He turned his head toward her, and she looked up at him, and he leaned in to kiss her.

       “Don’t,” she said, but she kissed him back. The gesture was more friendly than passionate, but her lips were soft and sweet all the same. He knew it wasn’t supposed to be happening, but he couldn’t remember why, and he liked it—more than he liked the Canaletto.

I’m a fan of the TV show, “House Hunters,” so a romance that began with an open house was a natural for me. I also enjoyed poking a little fun at the show itself. Kayla’s job was borrowed from a Wheel of Fortune contestant.

Sounds like a good read! Thank you, Linda, for being my guest today. Following are Linda's buy links and her social contact information.

Buy links:


Barnes & Noble 










Any comments or questions for Linda?

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Cruising Into Romance

As a writer who is currently working on two different series and who has always loved reading books in a variety of series, I've always enjoy learning about authors who write series of their own. Today's guest in My Writing Corner is author Debby Grahl and her latest book is Island Heat.

Debby is an Award-winning author who lives on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, with her husband David. She says besides writing, she enjoys biking, walking on the beach, and a glass of wine at sunset. Visually impaired since childhood by Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), she tells us she uses screen-reading software to research and write her books. 

Her book, Rue Toulouse, a contemporary romance set in the French Quarter, was awarded second place in the Readers’ Favorite international competition, and was awarded first place in the Top Shelf Fiction for the Romance category. Her book, His Magic Touch, a paranormal romance, was also set in New Orleans.

Her latest book, Island Heat, will be released May 1, and will be the second book in her three-part Carolina series. The first, Mountain Blaze, was released in 2020, has received a five-star review from Readers’ Favorite. 

Let's get a blurb on Island Heat:

A chance encounter leads to romance and murder.

When bookstore owner Suzanna Shay and writer Austen Kincade meet on a Who Done It mystery cruise, their instant attraction has them more interested in romance than searching for clues.  But when the leading actress in the shipboard murder skit, Austen’s publisher’s wife, throws herself at Austen, she’s furious when he rejects her advances and vows to have Austen no matter what it takes.

After the ship docks, with plans for a future together, Suzanna and Austen part, unaware vindictive lies will soon test their newfound love and entangle them in a real mystery that proves deadly.

Want to know more? Let's talk directly to the characters, starting with Susanna.

What is your normal life like?

I’m the manager of Preston Books located in Charlotte, NC. This keeps me busy, but I love being around books. 

Why did you choose to go on a mystery cruise? 

I actually won the cruise through a contest the company was having for its employees. I still can’t believe I’m going to Santa Maya. Just think, a week all on my own.

What attracts you to Austen? 

The contest coordinators decided to pair the single participants, and to my utter delight, I got Austen. Talk about a hunk. Not only is he handsome, we hit it off as if we’d known one another for years. Since we just met I shouldn’t admit this, but I couldn’t stop thinking about having sex with him. And I did.

What frightens you about him? 

Our romance was hot and heavy. Even though he says he wants to have a relationship with me, I’m afraid it was nothing more to him than a shipboard romance.

What do you want for your future life? 

I’d love to someday own my own bookstore, somewhere near the beach. And hopefully Austen will be a part of my life.

Now let's hear from Austen. Why did you decide to go on this cruise? 

Going on the cruise was purely by chance. A friend of mine was unable to go and asked me if I’d like his ticket. I’m a writer and solving mysteries sounded fun. Not to mention relaxing in the sun.

What are you looking for in a relationship? 

My dream is to become a published author, which takes time and dedication. I’d like to find someone who understands this and will support me. 

What draws you to Suzanna? 

I can’t say I’ve ever been instantly attracted to a woman, but Suzanna knocked me off my feet. Not only was she sexy as hell, but she also loved books and was honestly interested in my writing.

What frightens you about her? 

I’m afraid Suzanna doesn’t believe I’m sincere when I tell her I want a future relationship. With us living in different states, and not knowing what direction my career is going, she might eventually give up on me.

What do you want for your future? 

A successful career in writing with Suzanna by my side.

Want more? Let's get an excerpt:

    “There’s a full moon. How about a stroll out on the deck?”

    Suzanna, you don’t know him. Think about what you’re doing. Her mother’s voice rang through her head. But as she gazed into Austen’s face, careful was the last thing she wanted to be. She stood. “Let’s go.”

    They said goodbye to the Paiges and headed for the doors leading onto the deck. The night was warm with a gentle breeze. Stars filled the velvet sky as moonlight sparkled upon the water.

    Suzanna breathed in the salty air. Right now, my life in Charlotte might as well be a million miles away, and I haven’t a care in the world.

    “There’s Orion,” Austen pointed. “Studying the constellations is a hobby of mine.”

    “I find the stars fascinating. And I love having my fortune told.”

    “I can tell you what your future will bring,” Austen replied. 

    “What’s that?”

    He took her into his arms. “This.” His lips covered hers.

    The warmth of his mouth made Suzanna’s skin tingle. This moment came right off the pages of the romance novels she so loved — a moonlit night, a handsome man, and the faint sound of a piano in the distance. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back. 

    He held her close. His kiss, gentle at first, his lips moving slowly across hers, skillfully coaxed her lips apart. Their tongues met, and Suzanna let out a low moan as the kiss deepened. Her body molded to his. She slid her fingers through the hair on the nape of his neck. His hand glided up and down her back. His hard erection rubbed against her, and Suzanna’s passion soared.

    Austen broke their kiss and gazed into her eyes. In a husky voice he said, “I want you.”

    Suzanna, never one to jump into bed with a man she’d just met, hesitated. Again, for a second, her mother’s disapproving scowl flashed through her mind. She defiantly brushed it aside. There’s no one here to question your actions. Don’t let this perfect night pass you by. Besides,  who would ever know? the adventurous part of her brain screamed drowning out any misgivings. Who was she kidding? Nothing would keep her from having sex with Austen. “Yes.” she whispered.

    “I suggest we get off this deck before we go any further. Your cabin or mine?” 

    Struggling to gather her wits, Suzanna nodded. “Mine.” 

Doesn't that make you want to read more?  You'll have to get the book, but thank you, Debby, for introducing us to your latest book.  Listed below are the links and the contact information for Debby's new book and previous books as well.  

Buy links

Amazon Author Page -- https://www.amazon.com/Debby-Grahl/e/B00B34HM26

B&N --https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Debby+Grahl?_requestid=5525094

You can find Debby at the following:

Website -- www.debbygrahl.com
Facebook -- https://www.facebook.com/debbygrahlauthor?ref=br_rs

Bookbub -- https://www.bookbub.com/search/authors?search=debby%20grahl
Twitter -- https://twitter.com/DebbyGrahl

Any comments or questions for Debby?

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Flocking to Another World

Today's guest in My Writing Corner comes to us from Canada. That's a place that has always been very special to me. From my very first trip to Vancouver, B. C. many years ago, I've always tried to get back to visit our neighbors to the north  every couple of years. Covid put a stop to my visits, but Canada is first on my travel list. 

Our guest today, Everlyn Thompson was born and raised on the beautiful Canadian prairies.   She prefers to spend her time outdoors with her family kayaking, skating, fishing, and hunting. She says she loves reading and writing about vampires, witches, fae and zombies that get to find their own version of happily ever after. 

Welcome Everlyn. Tell us about your road to publication.

During the co-vid lockdown, I had three different library cards under different names. I maxed out the digital downloads every single month, so when I found myself without any books to read, I decided to write my own. Once A Flock of Vampires was written, I paid a copy-editor $440 to clean it up and then I queried 28 different publishers. I was rejected 11 times, and received no response from the other 16. One of the very last companies I contacted was Burton Mayers Books in the UK. They had a lot of vampire books listed on their website and were willing to take a chance on mine. While they were considering my novel, I wrote a second one, Grave-Reaping Hermit, that was accepted by the Wild Rose Press in the US.

What do you enjoy about being an author?

My favorite part of being an author was signing the contracts for each book; it was a validation that someone else had enjoyed my story and believed that other readers would too.

What do you find is the most challenging part of being an author?

Finding time. I’d spend all my time lost in imaginary worlds if I could, but I’m needed in the real world more than I’d like to acknowledge.

Tell us about your latest book and how did you come up with the idea to write it?

The latest book I’ve written is Grave-Reaping Shrew. It’s the second book in my Grave Reaper Series. I came up with the idea because I spend a lot of time during the summer at our family cabin in Northern Saskatchewan. It’s occurred to me a few times that it would be super cool to discover a hidden world in the surrounding forest – my stories just evolved from there.

Today we're featuring your first book, A Flock of Vampires. Let's get a blurb: 

As an elite Warrior for the Vampire King, Stu's only mission in life is to wipe out the Rebels' Army, and maybe destroy a few Soul Eaters along the way. That all changes the night a Witch stumbles into the crossfire, using her healing powers to save one of his Warriors. 

Keltti, a lone Witch in the big city, is elated to start working as a healer for the King's Army. While using her magic for a good cause, she has finally found the sense of belonging that has been eluding her for years. Working alongside the Warriors to protect Calgary's Supernatural community, Keltti finds an unlikely family in the brotherhood of Vampires-along with an unexplainable desire for one sexy, dangerous Vampire in particular. 

Stu realizes that Keltti is his one true life mate. But war is no place for a life mate, so he refuses to complete the mating bond-a refusal which makes Keltti wonder if she ever really belonged in the first place. 

Let's get a quick excerpt: 

    Anytime now… Yet he was still here, the icy rain dripping down his neck and soaking into his clothes beneath his coat. And she was still in there, stacking her things into the bags tetris-style, not even aware that tucked in amongst the socks and sweaters, she had a stowaway; because somewhere along the way she’d managed to capture his heart. And now that she had it, it would go wherever she did. Metaphorically of course, since the big lump of muscle and flesh was still thumping away in his chest; but for all intents and purposes it was hers. 

    Letting the grief and sorrow dance under his skin, he gave up pretending he was hunky-dory with letting her go.

How do you develop characters?

I develop characters that I’d like to read about. Sometimes I ask myself, “How has nobody already invented these guys? They’re awesome!”

How do you come up with your plots?

I visualize stories as a roadmap. I know where the characters are starting from, and where I want them to end up, then I find the best way to get them there. I love when a book can surprise me or make me laugh, so I aim for that response. 

What advice do you have for beginning writers?

Keep writing. Even if nobody else recognizes the beauty of your work, keep writing. As long as you enjoy doing it, keep writing. Find supportive beta readers or critique partners that will lift you up rather than tear you down. And most of all, keep writing.

What’s your next project?

The third (and final) book in my Grave Reaper Series. In the first book, my MC discovered and then lost her love interest, in the second book she got him back, and now I’m giving her chance to discover her version of happily ever after.

Thank you, Everlyn, for being my guest today.  Following are Everlyn's buy links to get her book and her social contact information to learn more about her.

Buy Links: 




Social Links: 





Any comments or questions for Everlyn?

Characters Lead the Way

We're in the heart of the summer and it is time to relax and enjoy a few good books by the beach or in some secluded mountain cabin. To...