Monthly Archives: March 2015

Guest Blog Goodness — Marianne Rice

Happy Birthday to me!  I’m jazzed that Marianne Rice wants to play on a special Friday edition of Guest Blog Goodness!

Most writers I’ve known say that writing is invigorating; while some say that it’s their therapy. How does your writing serve you? Do you express your life through the story or does the theme come from your vision?

Oh, writing is definitely therapeutic. I have a full time job, three active kids—a youngster, pre-teen and a teenage princess—a workaholic husband, and too many hobbies. My life is absolutely crazy. I use reading as a means to escape and tune out, but my writing is my way of pretending I’m surrounded with some sense of normalcy. My characters aren’t modeled after my friends of family, but I’m sure you can find pieces of my husband (good and bad) spread amongst my various heroes. A few of my books have children in them, and some of their antics or lines have definitely come from my kiddos. My son is hilarious and I have a journal I keep of his crazy comments. Quite a few come up in my third book, False Impressions. I don’t live in or create a perfect world; my characters have their issues and black moments, but in the end, they are happy and in love. At the end of my day, despite all the craziness and fights and meltdowns, I like to think I’m pretty darn lucky, happy and in love as well.

Who or what inspired you to write?

Funny story. Well, to me it is. After popping out child #1, a.k.a. the teenage princess, I started reading. A lot. I started with Nicholas Sparks. Read all eight of his books (that’s how many he had out at the time) in a few weeks. Then, while driving, I’d reminisce about one of his books, add a little dialogue of my own, change a few things around. I started catching myself talking out loud. I may have even caught myself stroking my gearshift (mind out of the gutter! Not in that way…but in a gentle touch—like the back of a hand sort of way, pretending I was being wooed). At night, while trying to sleep, I’d take the characters from the story and make a new story of my own. I did that for a few years. Popped out another child. Then a third. On maternity leave while home with my newborn son, toddler, and preschool kid, I thought, hey, now’s a great time to put your thoughts in writing! And so I did.

What is the best way a reader can express their gratitude for the experience they had reading your work?

Kick-butt reviews and sharing my book with others! I’d also love to hear what made the book special and if there were moments that the reader laugh or cry, or connect to her own life. They can shoot me an email or add a post on my Facebook page.

What advice would you give a new author?

It’s cliché`, I know, but don’t give up your writing. You WILL get rejected, that’s a part of the process. In the meantime, keep working on your craft by attending writers’ conferences and meetings, and joining online writing groups. And don’t stop writing! When you get The Call…or The Email…you’ll want to have a few books under your belt. Readers are going to fall in love with your work and will want more. Having a backlog of books to submit to your publisher will boost your sales and keep your name out there.

Have you done all the things in your book with your partner? That’s what I want to know 🙂

Well, since I write the “less steamy” stuff, uh, probably, yeah. But maybe we’ve done some stuff that’s not in my books as well. ☺

Buy at Liquid Silver Books, Amazon or Barnes and Noble

False Start


Ex-NFL player turned high school football coach Connor McKay is well loved by all … except by the sexy principal who wants to make changes to his athletic program. Intrigued by Meg Fulton’s beauty and intelligence, Connor doesn’t mind going head-to-head with her. When he and Meg are set up on a blind date, he’s finally able to open a crack in Meg’s high emotional wall and see the caring woman inside. What Connor doesn’t expect is that his buddy and ex-teammate is the one responsible for Meg’s wall in the first place. To choose between a one-time brother and the woman he’s fallen hopelessly in love with, Connor will make the riskiest play of his life.

Always the misfit growing up, newly hired high school principal Meg Fulton uses a fashionable wardrobe and a sharp tongue to keep men at a safe distance. After a drunken, abusive experience in the back of a Chevy as a naïve teen, she became a single mother with a tough hide…until Connor McKay walks into the picture. She can’t stand him. He’s a sports-loving alpha male––no thanks! Meg has a good reason to hate jocks. Been there, done that, much to her regret. But as her path continues to cross with Connor’s, and attraction heats to a boiling point, Meg learns there’s more to Connor than biceps and a tight rear end. Things are heating up with them, when someone from her past threatens to tear them apart. Meg runs for cover…and from Connor. It will take a leap of love for Meg to shed the scars of her past and let love into her life.

Chapter 1

“We need to talk.”

Startled by the deep growl, Meg Fulton looked up to the towering stack of testosterone filling her office doorway and cursed the butterflies that fluttered in her stomach.

She straightened her posture, ran her hand through her thick hair in an attempt to put all the strays back in place, and then reached for the lapels of the suit coat that wasn’t there. She felt vulnerable in her silk tank top and wished she had an extra layer to shield her from the menacing daggers targeted at her. Putting on the jacket would only make a spectacle of herself. The thin tank would have to do.

“Sure. Have a seat.” She crossed her legs and attempted to smile. Inwardly, Meg groaned. Connor McKay. She’d noticed him on the football field coaching his athletes and had not looked forward to the expected confrontation.

He remained in the doorway, making no move toward the empty seats across from her desk. His blond hair was short, barely longer than the scruff on his face, and as she looked up she saw his eyes—a fierce, fiery blue filled with accusation and something that ranged between confusion and lust.

Meg stood and retrieved her suit coat off the rack, slid her arms through the expensive fabric, feeling the need to protect herself after all. In three-inch heels, she stood at almost five-eleven, but he still had half a foot on her. “What can I do for you?”

“This plan? Not gonna happen.” He didn’t elaborate, just made his statement sound like fact.

Pompous, arrogant jerk. He was probably used to flaunting his muscles to get his way. The Texas A&M shirt stretched over his massive chest, making him appear menacing and … hot. Horrified she even noticed, she tipped her head back and raised her eyebrow. “Why do you believe it’s not going to happen?”

Marianne Rice Bio:

Living in Maine after growing up in Southern California, Marianne Rice uses her cross-country living experiences to write contemporary romances set in small New England towns. Her heroes are big and strong, yet value family and humor, while her heroines her smart, sexy, sometimes a little bit sassy, and are often battling a strong internal conflict. Together, they deal with real life issues and always, always, find everlasting love. Connect with Marianne on Facebook, Twitter or visit her website at

Guest Blog Goodness–Amy Quinton

Please welcome Amy Quinton to the blog!  Her fantastic new regency romance is  chewing up the charts at Amazon!

What advice would you give a new author?
I could write pages and pages of thoughts on this topic… lol. But I’ll try to be brief. I guess the most important thing is to really want it. You’ve got to want it… badly. It won’t happen if you give a half-hearted attempt. And if you want it bad enough, you will not allow yourself to give up. This is important when the rejections start flooding in. They’ll be frustrating. You’ll question your capabilities. But the point is to believe in yourself and keep trying.

Secondly, you’ve got to put yourself out there. You never know who you’re going to meet and where. And you’ve got to learn how to talk about your book – even in the most unlikely of places. I’ve heard tell once that it takes, on average, 3 years to become an overnight success as an author. LOL. The point is that for most people, success is found slowly… by building your readership one person at a time. I have learned (and it was NOT easy) to find ways to bring up my book no matter where I am… I’ve sold books to a sales associate helping me try on clothes, to a waitress at a restaurant, to a cashier at my local grocery store, to a college student from my college who called asking for donations from alums…. I’ve learned to take my business cards and copies of my books everywhere!  But more important than that, I have made connections. I have immersed myself in writing groups and library events around town – and I cannot even begin to tell you how that has helped my career. Simply by being there, I’ve met editors I didn’t even know lived here who have given me profound advice, I’ve found support groups, and most recently, I met a woman who has offered to take a copy of my book to my favorite author! Because she knows her. I didn’t even know that when that fateful conversation began. I didn’t ask for it. But I’m passionate about writing, and she saw that – she knew I was a new writer, and when she realized how much I loved a certain author’s books, she made the offer.  Even if nothing comes of that connection, it is the greatest feeling in the world to sign my book (going all fan girl crazy for a moment lol) and know that my favorite author will have a copy – even if she chooses to use it as a door stop!  I think you get the point…  I’ve even been hired to give my first speaking engagement about author platforms and technology.  All because I force myself not to hide away in my house, at my keyboard – as is my wont. J

Finally – never stop working to improve your craft. Our craft is ever changing.  We will never reach a point where we cannot improve. One way to improve is to continue to read others’ works.  Sometimes, it can be hard. You don’t have time or worse, sometimes you read a particularly well written passage and start to doubt yourself. That is normal (but see number 1 – don’t quit!) as we authors are particularly hard on ourselves – But look for ways to turn that to your advantage. Study what makes that particular book, passage, description, dialogue, whatever… great and what you can learn from that. Of course, practice is also important for improving. Authors should do their best to write every single day. Even if it’s just a random thought about something bothering you.  Finally, read, not just novels or books on your subject, but also books on other subjects or about our craft.  Take a course if you’re inclined.  Readers’ wants change. Writing styles change. We don’t still write like Jane Austen, do we? So we have to stay on top of our craft by continuing to learn. Always.

Who or what inspired you to write?
I had never honestly thought about a career in writing until I was in college. In truth, I was a math wiz in school. But in college, I had more than one professor ask me if I had considered a career as a writer. I hadn’t, but the thought stuck in my head and took root. I love to read, you see. I read ALL the time. And I prefer romance over every other genre – especially historical romance. So, after ten years post college in the computer industry, I became a stay at home mom. And when both my kids were in school full time, I decided – why not give it a go?  With self-publishing being so readily available, there was no reason not to try, and I was fortunate to have the time and freedom to be able to try. So I did. I started my novel and right away I was hooked!  It was better than I ever imagined it would be!  Now, I get to choose the direction of the book and what the characters do!  (or at least my characters like to let me believe that – at times.) And the feeling I get when a particular passage is well written – it’s invigorating.  I love the challenge of it; it’s far more complicated to than I ever dreamed, and it never gets old. Now, I know I will continue to write for as long as I can.

What is the best way a reader can express their gratitude for the experience they had reading your work?
So far, the best way is just a personal message from the reader. I enjoyed the email I got from my first five star reviewer – more than the review itself. Then, a reader contacted me through my website just to tell me how much she loved the book and to ask when my next will be available.  That message came through on the day of my release, and was the most memorable event of my release day.  It was simple. It was short. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

What are your five “desert island” books?
My five desert island books: Between the Devil and Ian Eversea by Julie Anne Long, Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare, A Highlander Never Surrenders by Paula Quinn, Shadowdance by Kristen Callihan, and Living Wild: The Ultimate Guide to Scouting and Fieldcraft by Bear Grylls – well I have to have something practical for the situation…lol

Most writers I’ve known say that writing is invigorating, while some say that it’s their therapy. How does your writing serve you? Do you express your life through the story or does the theme come from your vision?
My writing is very therapeutic. I am able to say and do things I would never say or do in life. I am able to deal with things in my past through my characters. I do have a vision for many parts of my book. It’s the characters that come from pieces of my life – even the villains. And many of my characters carry sides of me in their personality… even the villains… lol – but hopefully only the redeemable ones J

Upstanding duke desperately seeks accident-prone wife from trade…

England 1814: Miss Grace (ha!) Radclyffe is an oftentimes hilariously clumsy, 20-year-old orphan biding her time living with her uncle until she is old enough to come into her small inheritance. Much to her aunt’s chagrin, she isn’t: reserved (not with her shocking! tendency to befriend the servants), sophisticated (highly overrated), or graceful (she once flung her dinner into a duke’s face). But she is: practical and in love… maybe… perhaps… possibly…

The Duke of Stonebridge is an agent for the Crown with a tragic past. His father died mysteriously when he was 12 years old amid speculation that the old duke was ‘involved’ with another man. He must restore his family name, but on the eve of his engagement to the perfect debutante, he meets his betrothed’s cousin, and his world is turned inside out… No matter, he is always: logical (men who follow their hearts are foolish) and reserved (his private life is nobody’s business but his own). And he isn’t: impulsive or in love… maybe… perhaps… possibly…

Can he have what he wants and restore his name? Can she trust him to be the man she needs?

WhatThe DukeWants

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…her chuckles died in her throat as she caught sight of the very man who occupied her mind day after day: Stonebridge.

Her hand rose to her chest as if she could physically steady her racing heart. He was so mind numbingly handsome and her heart literally ached with the knowledge that he would never be hers. It was so ridiculously unfair.

She watched as he entered a nearby building. He hadn’t seen her amidst the crowd, of course. Once out of sight, she was able to walk again. She strode forward hesitantly. Honestly, she should flee to the safety of the hotel, not loiter outside, dying with curiosity and the desire for just another, quick glimpse, but alas, she couldn’t make herself leave.

She passed the building he had entered and tried hard not to be so obvious as to ogle the door, but she did look and made note of the sign identifying the place as the offices of Tolley and Brinks, Esquire.

She passed a few more shop fronts, then turned. Her face was warm with embarrassment.

What am I doing?

She walked past the solicitors’ office again and passed a few more shops before shaking her head, resigned.

“Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Prince Regent plans Grand Jubilee in London!” called out a young boy, hawking broadsheets nearby. She heard him above the general din of horses, carriage wheels and people bustling about their business as she maneuvered her way through the throng of carriages to the opposite side of the street.

Once there, she purchased a paper, then made her way to a nearby bench which happened to be situated directly across the street from the duke’s solicitors’ office.

Convenient, that. She sat, only for a moment, mind. To read the paper. Honestly.

Oh, who am I trying to fool?

For half an hour, her heart missed a beat every time the door to the solicitors’ office opened. Really, what was she planning to do once he did come out? Dash into his arms? Call his name from across the thoroughfare? Run away and hide? She asked herself these questions, over and over again, the entire time; she certainly was no more aware of the latest news than from before she’d bought her paper.

Finally, at long last, he came out of the building, and he saw her instantly. She stood on reflex and looked back. For an eternity but only a minute, they stared at each other across the avenue, and her heart thundered faster than ever. Before reality intruded. This wasn’t wise and just as she recognized the truth of that, she saw his expression change from surprise to murderous.

Right. Time to go.

She tried to go around the bench at the same he stepped out onto the street.

Zounds! He was coming.

But in her haste to leave, she rounded the bench too carelessly, only to have her reticule catch on the bench’s arm, jerking her to a stop. Unfortunately, her nerves, along with the bench, conspired against her, and she stumbled to her knees.

The hand holding her bag came down hard onto the bench seat, over the arm rest. She’d have a bruise under her arm tomorrow from that. The straps of her reticule, still caught, pulled tight on her wrist, turning her skin white, then red and puffy. Her other hand, which had whipped out reflexively, hit the ground. It just stopped her from cracking her chin on the bench.

Why, oh why, did I even get out of bed this morning?

She closed her eyes in humiliation. All around her, people fell silent; even the boy no longer peddled his papers. She could make out the occasional horse and carriage, but even the whinnying of a nearby horse sounded like laughter to ears colored with embarrassment. She could hear the sound of running feet, boots striking on cobbles, and she knew that Stonebridge was dashing across the street—coming to rescue her.

He arrived a moment later, slightly out of breath, and she smiled at the thought that he’d run all that way…in public. For her.


Guest Blog Goodness–Sharon Callender

Please welcome Sharon Callender to the blog!

Most writers I’ve known say that writing is invigorating, while some say that it’s their therapy. How does your writing serve you? Do you express your life through the story or does the theme come from your vision?
Writing is an escape for me.  It’s a place where I can close the door to real life and immerse myself into an alternate reality where love always wins.  My stories are inspired by my vision of crafting characters that are unraveled by love.  Predictable vanilla lives are thrown into beautiful, passionate chaos when love unexpectedly arrives.

Who or what inspired you to write?
I started journaling when I was seven.  I chronicled every life event in my Hello Kitty journal.  But I fell in love with writing and reading in the second grade.  Our class worked with a writer in residence who helped up find our voice  through poetry.  He taught  us how to create poems  based on life experiences, nature, and the world around us.  It was an unforgettable and transformative adventure  that I’ll never forget.

What are your five “desert island” books?

  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Blessings by Julia Cameron
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux
  • Perfect  by Judith McNaught

What advice would you give a new author?
Promotion is key.  I didn’t realize how important book promotion was until my second book, No One to Trust, was published by Liquid Silver Books.   Even before your book is released, you must have some kind of marketing plan. There are great book promoters out there who can help you spread the word.

Have you done all the things in your book with your partner? That’s what I want to know 🙂
No.  I haven’t.  Sadly, I am very single and haven’t found my alpha male/prince charming yet.   My main characters have spicy hot love lives that make me shudder with envy!

Amazon Link (with extended excerpt)noonetotrust (cover)

Barnes & Noble Link (with extended excerpt)

Liquid Silver Books Link

Ibooks Link


Thirty-two year old Jenna Havilland doesn’t have time for romantic relationships. Driven and career focused, she is the personal assistant to eccentric contemporary artist, Pedro Rodriguez. When Jenna inadvertently becomes the target of a dangerous international art crime ring, she reluctantly captures the romantic interest of notorious playboy and fine art management firm executive, Alex Quinlan. They are both forced into the crosshairs of this deadly storm, and Alex is determined to protect her.

Still dealing with emotional baggage from her break up three years ago, Jenna is skittish when it comes to love. She can’t deny the off the charts chemistry between her and Alex, but she questions whether she can trust the gorgeous, heartbreaking playboy with her heart and her life as they dodge danger and try to stay alive. Can they find love knowing there is no one to trust?


Before she had a minute to think, to process what was happening, she heard Alex’s voice from some distance place saying, “Get down, Jenna. Get down now!” With his arms around her, he pushed her to the ground, ducking them behind the shelter of his car.

The sound of bullets slicing through metal lasted for what seemed like years. When she heard the pulsating sound of a plane engine roaring to life, they ventured rising a bit to peer over the car. The gunmen disappeared in a Cessna headed over the Atlantic.

Jenna panted now, after holding her breath for too long.

“Are you okay, Jenna?” Alex held her face between his palms and then tucked a strand of wayward hair behind Jenna’s ear.

“I think so,” she croaked out, still in a daze. “What just happened?”

“I have no idea.” He reached for his cell phone and began dialing nine-one-one.

Jenna tried to get up and gasped.  “What’s wrong?” Alex glanced at her, while still talking to the operator. “Oh my God, Jenna, you’re bleeding.” He knelt down beside her. “Operator we need an ambulance. The woman with me has been shot.”

“I didn’t even feel it.” Jenna clasped her left hand over the skin below her collar bone. She began to feel sharp pain course through the flesh of her upper body, throbbing deep inside her skin. The world started to spin too fast, making her dizzy. Jenna closed her eyes from the throbbing pain and to hide the tears threatening to fall.

“Hey, hey, don’t cry,” Alex told her gently. “You’re fine. The ambulance will be here any minute.” Jenna detected the fear in Alex’s eyes and wondered if she was going to die. He wrapped his arms around her, holding her tight. She pressed her face against his chest as he stroked her hair. Her body began to tremble. Blood drained from her face.

“You’re going to be okay,” he whispered in her ear. “Help is coming.” She hung on to him for dear life, feeling helpless as she slipped away from the world. “Stay with me, Jenna, hold on.” Jenna’s eyes fluttered closed, when all she wanted to do was stay awake.

Guest Blog Goodness–DawnMarie Richards

It’s my pleasure to welcome DawnMarie Richards to Musings…let’s give her a warm welcome!

Most writers I’ve known say that writing is invigorating, while some say that it’s their therapy. How does your writing serve you? Do you express your life through the story or does the theme come from your vision?
Like a chef who enjoys her own cooking, writing turns me on. And I’m not just talking sex scenes. That moment when inspiration hits and a particularly gnarly plot tangle becomes a clever story thread … well, let’s just say I might need a few minutes to collect myself. So, yeah, I find the creative process invigorating.

Who or what inspired you to write?
Story telling is in my blood. I learned a great deal about plot development, pacing and, even, dialogue around the holiday table. Grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, everyone had their bit of family lore to share. Add to that the fact I am a voracious reader with an intense love and overriding respect for written words and the folks who write them and, really, what choice did I have?

What are your five “desert island” books?

  • Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling, because I love to be entertained.
  • If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits? by Erma Bombeck, because I love to laugh.
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck, because I love to philosophize.
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, because I love to be challenged.
  • Someone to Watch over Me by Lisa Kleypas, because I love to … well … you know. (Um, do I have to be completely alone on this “desert island?” Because that just seems cruel.)

What advice would you give a new author?
I am a new author, so I’m the one looking for advice. Words of wisdom welcome!

Have you done all the things in your book with your partner? That’s what I want to know 🙂
How does the saying go? “Write what you know.” And that’s all I’m going to say about that!

Aaron'sWillLiquid Silver:
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Morgan Shore has made a habit of living in the present … the past is just too painful. Dylan Drumlin thought he had gotten Morgan Shore out of his life forever. But when an unexpected death brings them together again, they find the passion they’ve long denied is reignited. DawnMarie Richards is pleased to bring you Aaron’s Will, Book 1 of her new romance series, Legacies.

Morgan Shore was busy making other plans when her guardian, Aaron Field—a Boston attorney and philanthropist—unexpectedly died. Drawn back into a life better left in the past, Morgan finds herself compelled to contend with Dylan Drumlin, the man who categorically rejected her without a word of explanation or any hint of regret. Tragically, he’s also the only man to have stirred Morgan’s dormant passions and touched her tender heart.

Dylan Drumlin always knew he wasn’t the kind of man any women should build a future with, especially a woman like Morgan Shore. When he began to fantasize about the young woman with auburn hair, he knew he had to let her go. Time passed and Dylan believed himself safe from whatever insanity had gripped him. But when Morgan reappears one night bearing stunning news and a heart-rending grief, long suppressed desires are reignited. Dylan’s disciplined life begins to unravel, tattered by disenchanted amber eyes and the binding ties of Aaron’s Will.


After ringing the bell and knocking a second time, Dylan hooked his fingers over the door handle. It gave way under the slight pressure and the front door swung open.

For a moment, Dylan was besieged by the image of Morgan walking in unexpectedly on a mass of burglars when she’d returned. He’d never forgive himself if he’d forced her home early only to stumble upon intruders, or worse.  Warily, he entered the foyer.


No answer. Not a sound. The only thing it told him for certain was the Tibbes were not home. The point did nothing to quell his rising anxiety.

His body was tensed for action. The tiniest sounds echoed in his ears as he strained to hear Morgan’s cry. He grimly continued his search through the first floor, finding nothing. He had decided to continue upstairs when he glimpsed a splash of color outside the French doors connecting the solarium to the backyard. When he got closer he realized it was an article of clothing.

He went out onto the patio and bent to pick up the bathing suit top. He straightened and scanned the pool area. On the far side he saw what he assumed was the bottom piece. And beyond, a swatch of auburn was visible over the rise of the pool decking. He strolled toward it feeling slightly lightheaded at having found Morgan safe and sound.

The material he held slipped from between his suddenly bloodless fingers when he saw she was lying in the sand wearing nothing, but a secret grin. Her arms framed her face in graceful, shameless arcs. The heavy waves of her hair were fanned out around her head, like she had run her arms underneath before resting them in their current position. Her skin was glowing. Her stomach, enticingly dimpled by her belly button, gently sloped toward another more tightly curled thatch of auburn. As secluded as she was, Dylan noted with a smile she had bent one knee and draped it over her other leg, partially obscuring the interesting triangle.

He was unable to think, to breathe, to look away.

Her sleeping form stoked his desire to a raging hunger which soon bordered on pain. Sinking to his knees at her feet, he continued to greedily drink her in, his eyes roaming unimpeded over her creamy skin. He took in the alluring rise and fall of her breasts as she breathed. Their dusky pink nipples made his fingertips itch to touch.

He dragged his gaze upward, taking in the beautiful lines of her face. In slumber, her long eyelashes, high cheekbones and full lips made her appear young and innocent, and achingly vulnerable. She was all of those things, of course, especially since she was unaware of his presence. Dylan knew he should go. Slip away without her ever knowing he had stolen time with her. Precisely as he made the decision, Morgan opened her eyes.

“I’m sorry,” he blurted.

He expected her to scramble away, possibly hurl a few well-chosen expletives at him. Instead, a mysteriously wicked smile curved her lips. With a devilish twinkle in her eyes, Morgan came up on her knees before him. She cupped his head with both hands and pulled him toward her.

“You don’t want me,” he managed in desperation, the warmth of her mouth a fraction of an inch from his.

Morgan looked deeply into his eyes.

“You’re the only man I’ve ever wanted,” she insisted before closing the space between them.

Guest Blog Goodness — Annette Mardis

I’m thrilled to bring Annette Mardis to Guest Blog Goodness!  Her contemps are pure fun!

Most writers I’ve known say that writing is invigorating, while some say that it’s their therapy. How does your writing serve you? Do you express your life through the story or does the theme come from your vision? I’m a big proponent of the adage “write what you know.” I’ve loved dolphins since I was a little girl, and I volunteer at a nonprofit aquarium/marine animal hospital in Clearwater, Florida. So inventing an aquarium and a west-central Florida town as the setting for my Gulf Shore series was a no-brainer. While the characters in my books are fictional, the challenges they face and the work they do are based on things I’ve done, seen, heard about or read about. As for how my writing serves me, it has provided me with two careers: journalist (for more than 30 years) and now author and freelance editor. Writing knows no age limit, so I can continue to be productive for as long as I desire and have my wits about me. I don’t get too philosophical about my writing because I’ve always considered it a vocation more than anything else. But I definitely express myself better through the written word than I do the spoken word. Writing definitely can be invigorating when I’m on a roll, but it can be hard work and an exercise in frustration, too, when things aren’t going as well.

Who or what inspired you to write? Over the years, a number of friends told me, “You should write a book,” but that was the last thing I wanted to do when I came home from my newspaper job. Unfortunately, it took a tragedy to motivate me to give fiction a try. When I found out in 2012 that my close friend Charlene Allison was dying after an unsuccessful bone marrow transplant, I wanted to do something to honor her and capture her zest for life. She had a lot of challenges, but on the occasions that she did get to head out to have fun she managed to put her troubles aside, live in the moment, and enjoy whatever she was doing to the fullest. My husband would say, “That Charlene. She sure gets her money’s worth.” Thus, a book title was born. While readers know from the beginning of Getting Her Money’s Worth that the main character has a fatal illness, the purpose of the novel, which I self-published as an e-book, is to celebrate life and encourage people to go for the gusto in their own lives. I hope people will laugh much more than they cry when they read it.

What is the best way a reader can express their gratitude for the experience they had reading your work? By leaving a review and telling family and friends about the book(s). Word of mouth is invaluable and, as one author said, “reviews are love.”

What advice would you give a new author? Read books in your chosen genre and pay attention to story structure, plot and character development, pacing, etc. Don’t try to copy anyone else’s style. Find your own voice. Write about what interests you. If you’re bored with your topic, your readers will be, too. Do the research so your characters, settings, and situations are authentic. Even a fantasy world is grounded in recognizable realities. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike before you sit down to write. As the commercials for Nike used to say, “Just do it.” Nothing bulldozes writer’s block like fingers moving over a keyboard. And don’t try to write the “perfect” book on the first draft. You’ll revisit your manuscript so many times before it’s published that you’ll be tired of looking at it.

Have you done all the things in your book with your partner? That’s what I want to know 🙂 Oh, boy, what a question! Well, it’s often said that art imitates life. You don’t have to personally experience everything you write about but it helps.


HRshorefeelsrightShore Feels Right


Once a pariah among her coworkers, marine biologist Monica Sims has spent months reinventing herself as she seeks redemption. A history of failed relationships leaves her leery of romantic involvement until she meets Cosby Williams, the new co-owner of Nauti-Toys watercraft rentals.

As things heat up between them, Gulf Shore Aquarium responds to the stranding of a group of pilot whales. When a billionaire bachelor lends his private plane to the rescue effort, Monica catches his eye—and an obsession is born.

How will she cope with the unwanted attention? And will her past sins come back to doom her newfound happiness with Cosby?


Monica Sims didn’t suffer well in silence. All this wedding talk grated on her nerves, and she desperately wanted to distance herself from the radiant bride-to-be and the friends who acted like this was a match made in Buckingham Palace.

But the last thing Monica needed was anyone thinking she sat here sucking on sour grapes. Not when she’d done everything possible the past several months to convince these women, and her other Gulf Shore Aquarium coworkers, that she no longer resembled the selfish shrew they knew and loathed. She’d eaten a bakery full of humble pie, shoved aside her own satisfaction, smiled until her face ached, and bit her tongue until it nearly bled.

The response to her attitude overhaul had been better than she’d dared hope. She’d become one of the girls and even had made peace with her ex-boyfriend’s fiancée, who at this moment squirmed under the rapt attention of everyone at their table at Bikini Barb’s Bar & Grill. Everyone except Monica, that is.

She freely admitted now, without the slightest pang whatsoever, that Evan Sanders and Danielle “Dani” Davidson belonged together. She wished them the best, without reservation. But Monica simply couldn’t feign enthusiasm for the seemingly endless discussions about invitation styles, cake decorations, and buffet menus.

The impending “I do’s” left the other women at tonight’s “snipe and gripe” gathering positively giddy. They giggled and chattered like a gaggle of schoolgirls as they threw out suggestions on how Dani should break it to her mother that she wanted to be married right here in Gulf Shore, Florida, not back home in Missouri.

“Why is everything so flipping complicated?” Dani complained, posing a rhetorical question. That didn’t stop her friends from answering.

“Our parents live for the day they can torture us as payback for all the times we misbehaved as kids and made their lives a veritable living hell,” Tiffany Sandeski offered.

“If I ever get married, I’m eloping to Las Vegas,” Shontay Jefferson vowed. “I have enough trouble with my meddling mother as it is.”

“Not me,” Gina Martino asserted. “I intend to have the whole fairy tale from start to finish. That means a killer gown that makes me look like Kate Middleton, a huge wedding party, stretch limo, four-tiered cake, blowout reception with an open bar, gourmet dinner, live band, and a honeymoon in Europe.”

“You’ll need more than a fancy dress to make you look like Kate Middleton,” Tiffany teased. “Like a starvation diet for starters.”

Gina stuck out her tongue. “And I don’t care what the whole thing costs. I told Jeremy to rob a bank or two if he has to.”

“You did not,” Shontay scoffed.

“I most certainly did,” Gina insisted. “Trust me, it won’t be necessary. His parents are loaded and he’s their trust-fund baby.”

“Uh, what about your mom and dad?” Shontay asked. “It’s tradition for the bride’s side to pay most of the wedding expenses and for the reception, too.”

Gina barked out a laugh. “My parents don’t have a pot to puke in.”

Tiffany wrinkled her nose and halted the hand bringing the spicy chicken wing to her mouth. She dropped the poultry on her plate and pushed it away. “Thanks for the bodily function reference, Gina.”

“You’re welcome. No extra charge.”

“You know, a lot of couples now, especially if they’re older or have been together for a while, pay for their own wedding,” Shontay noted.

“Yeah, like that’s going to happen,” Gina replied. “Jeremy’s parents won’t let their perfect, precious boy spend a dime. They’ve already promised to help us buy a house right on the beach. Think of the parties we can have there, girls. I can’t wait to ditch this dive as a gathering spot.”

Shontay shook her head and turned to Dani. “What about you and Evan?”

“Our parents offered to help, but we’re paying for most of it. That’s why we’re keeping it simple.”

As others in the group added their nickel’s worth, Monica tuned them out. While she’d gotten over Evan, participating in this conversation still struck her as strange given that Dani’s groom-to-be was the one Monica let get away. Months before Dani moved to Gulf Shore, Evan had dumped Monica after discovering she’d cheated on him with the aquarium’s married marketing director, a new father of twins.

The fallout from that colossal indiscretion had been bad enough. But then Monica attempted to whip up trouble for Evan and Dani after they started dating. Fed up with the way she treated people, Monica’s rebound boyfriend broke up with her. Coworkers shunned her. She considered leaving Gulf Shore. Her older sister’s tough love helped turn her life around.

None of that mattered now, but some people thrived on stirring things up. Like Tiffany, who stared at her with a smirk of a smile. Monica knew that look.

“So what do you think?” Tiffany asked her. The other women turned their expectant attention to Monica.

“Uh, well, I’m not sure.” She inwardly cringed at how clueless she sounded.

“I bet you don’t even know what we’re talking about.”

“Of course I do,” Monica blustered. “Weddings.”

“So how should Dani solve her dilemma?” Tiffany pressed.


“Quit putting Monica on the spot,” Dani interjected. “It’s my problem. I’ll figure out what to tell my mother. Now, where’s the rest of our food? We were so busy today with those marine science students I had time to grab only yogurt and a granola bar for lunch. How long does it take to throw together salads and sandwiches?”

Eager for a legitimate excuse to leave the table, Monica offered to check on their orders. She headed to the well-worn wooden bar to speak to Pete, who mixed drinks and filled pitchers like a madman, and stopped a few feet from the barstool where a guy who looked familiar sat alone, nursing a mug of beer. They nodded at each other as Monica tried to remember his name.

“Cosby Williams,” he supplied.

“What?” Had he read her mind? She’d seen him in Barb’s before talking to Evan and two of the aquarium’s dolphin trainers, but they hadn’t been introduced.

“That’s my name. In case you were wondering.”

“What gave you that impression?”

He shrugged. “The way you looked at me implied it.”

“Yeah? And what way was that?”

“Like I’m not a total stranger but you don’t know me, either.”

“You’re pretty perceptive, aren’t you?” Sarcasm tinged her voice. She’d ruthlessly repressed that particular personality trait but still let it loose occasionally.

“I try to be.” If he noticed her flippant tone, he ignored it. “Right now, for instance, you’re deciding whether I’m worth talking to and if you should tell me your name.”

“Actually, I’m debating whether you’re charmingly candid or irritatingly blunt.”

Cosby laughed and Monica’s long-dormant libido stirred to life.

“How about a little of both?” he suggested. “But don’t worry. I didn’t come here to pick up women. My brother and I are celebrating tonight.”

“Oh? What’s the occasion?”

“Our business, Nauti-Toys watercraft rentals, has its grand reopening in two days.”

Suddenly the light of recognition switched on. “Now I know why you look familiar. I saw your picture in the paper the other day. The story said you two have given the place quite a makeover.”

“We’ve worked our asses off. This is the first chance we’ve had to take a breather.”

Monica stepped back and assessed his very fine jeans-covered rear end.

“What? Did I sit in something?” Cosby twisted to look at the seat of his pants.

“No. Just checking to see if you told the truth about working your ass off.”

He grinned and Monica felt it like a punch to the gut. Whoa! She resisted, just barely, the urge to lean forward and taste his tantalizing lips. She shook her head to clear it, and Cosby furrowed his brow as though trying to figure out what she was thinking.

“Now that you’ve seen the goods, what’s the verdict?” he asked.

“Why, Mr. Williams, are you fishing for a compliment?”


“On what?”

“On whether you’d think less of me if I was.”

“You’re very straightforward, aren’t you?” she observed. “I like that.”

“I have plenty of other commendable qualities, too.”

“Such as?”

“I send my mom a thank-you card on my birthday. I don’t leave the toilet seat up. I never give women kitchen appliances as gifts. I bowled nine strikes in a row once. I love kids, and they adore me. And I feed stray cats that hang out at Nauti-Toys.”

“Wow, all that and movie-star handsome, too.”

Cosby blushed and the unexpected show of humility charmed her.

“What can I say, I’m a good guy. Except, of course, when I want to be bad.” He winked and Monica laughed despite her best intentions. “How about I buy you a drink?”

“You’re the one celebrating,” she pointed out. “I should buy you a drink.”

“You’re making me work for it, aren’t you?”

“And by ‘it’ you mean what, exactly?”

“Your name.”

Many women already would’ve scribbled their phone number on a napkin. But Monica couldn’t afford to make another mistake with a man. Then she stared into eyes the color of a Caribbean sea and thought, oh, what the hell.


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