Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Time After Time Saga ~

The Time After Time Saga is a series of six books (at least that is how many we can see right now) set in different time periods as we track the women of the Heartmark and their conflict with the ancient enemy of their family, who travels through time to find them. Tami and I came up with the ideas in on-line brainstorming, and have written the first two entirely through email correspondence. Our plan is fun and inspiring for both of us. Each of us will take the lead for half the stories. What do I mean by take the lead? Simply put, I write one book, am responsible for all the hard stuff, writing the first draft, story line, editing, formatting, etc. Once completed, I e-mail the draft to Tami and she gets to go in and play. Then Tami writes the next book and I get to play! We sincerely hope you enjoy reading this ongoing series as much as we are enjoying writing it! Here is what you have to look forward to:
Animal Instinct, August 2012 (Lynette)
Survival Instinct, April 2013 (Tami )
Pioneer Instinct, December 2013 (Lynette)
Protective Instinct, August 2014 (Tami)
Maternal Instinct, April 2015 (Lynette )
Primal Instinct, December 2015 (Tami )

Animal Instinct by Lynnett Endicott and Tami Dee

An evil from the past threatens to destroy the love developing between Allison and Sean.
Will ancestral memories hold the key to freedom, or overwhelm them with fear?
Book Excerpt: Chapter Two
Sean tried to shrug away the tension gathering in his shoulders and the back of his neck. He'd seen the clinic on his way home yesterday, and he didn't know where any other vets were located. He prayed someone would be there, and they could take his dog. The sting the poor boy got during their morning run was swelling around his eye and his breathing seemed more shallow than just a minute before. As a first responder, he knew the signs of anaphylactic shock, and he was terrified. He shifted King's weight and kept on jogging, a slower jog with the extra hundred pounds, but he didn't want to waste any time. He was close, just another half a block. "Hold on, King, I'll get you some help." He shouldered his way through the door. He barely took in the prim ladies with their lap dogs on leashes. He only had eyes for the person behind the counter who could get him some help.
"Doctor Al's office, Carol speaking. How can we help you and your pet today?"
She wasn't talking to him. She was answering the phone. He rested King, all sprawling, hairy, panting, wheezing dog, right on the counter in front of her.
His swollen eye was on her side of the counter. She couldn't miss it.
"Just a moment, I have an emergency," she said to the caller. "I'm putting you on hold."
The woman was quick and competent. She called over her shoulder, "Doctor Al, we have an emergency in Exam One." Then she turned to Sean as she opened the door to the side of the counter. "Follow me." She opened another door into an exam room, grabbing what he recognized as the new epi pen on her way through. He carefully placed King on the table in front of them. "I will get you some paperwork in a minute. Do I have permission to treat your dog?" He nodded and she put the needle against King's neck and pressed the life-saving drug into his system just as Doctor Al came into the room.
King was already breathing easier.
Sean's whole body relaxed in relief. "Thank you, thank you." He pressed the hand of the lady from the front desk; the motherly one who had acted so quickly
"You're welcome. Doctor Al will look at your dog now. Stop by here before you leave."
Doctor Al was a woman. That was the first thing that registered. She was petite, with very small but competent hands examining King's body. "Carol has given your dog a dose of an antihistamine to quiet what appears to be an allergic reaction." She flicked her gaze to him. "How long ago did this bite or sting happen?"
Her presence was calming. He shook away the tears that formed in his eyes at the thought of how close he'd come to losing his partner, his best friend. "Only a few minutes." He cleared his throat in an effort to dislodge the fear and grief clogging it. "Maybe ten minutes ago. I was a couple of blocks from here, and figured it was faster to run in than to risk going home for my car." He looked down at his running sweats, gave her what he hoped was an apologetic grin. "I know I stink and I don't have any I.D. with me." Embarrassed heat warmed his cheeks. "Or money, because we were out running. But I don't live far," he assured her with a quick gesture of his hands. He hoped he could count on small town acceptance. "As soon as we have this situation under control I'll go get them."
She nodded, continuing her examination. "Has this ever happened before?" When he shook his head she added, "Looks like there is only the one sting. What's your dog's name?"
He slid a glance to his dog. "King Solomon, but I just call him King." At the sound of his name King raised his head, then got to his feet on the exam table, standing eye level with him and a head taller than the doc. He leaned in and licked at his master's face. Sean laughed, partly in relief, partly in the surging joy that his dog really would be okay. He put his arm around King's neck and the dog rested his chin on his shoulder.
Doctor Al lowered the stethoscope and looked into his eyes, and his breath locked in his lungs when he realized how beautiful she was. Auburn hair brushed her shoulders and framed her face, and eyes the color of the bluest sky met his. His knees went weak. He swallowed.
A hint of pink touched her cheeks and she averted her gaze from him back to King. "I'd like to watch him for a couple of hours, make sure we don't have any further reaction." With gentle fingers, she touched King's face above the swollen eye. "I also want to clean this wound once the swelling has gone down, make sure we have the stinger and that we don't risk infection. Can you come back after lunch?"
Sean nodded. He usually didn't have so much trouble thinking of something to say, but Doctor Al left him speechless. He cleared his throat. "I'll have a break at work around 2:00. Would that be okay?"
She nodded. "I'm sure that will work. Check with Carol at the front desk before you go."
She smiled, and dimples appeared on both sides of her mouth. Kissing dimples. Where that thought came from, he had no idea, but he wanted to brush his lips against those smooth cheeks, flick his tongue into the little crevasses and claim them, claim her, as his own.
He shook his head, a wry smile touching his lips. Boy, oh boy, he had it bad.
She had been so serious before now. Then that smile, wow, it hit him in the gut with joy.
She started to turn away and he wondered how he could get her to stay just another minute. As if she heard his mind call out to hers, she turned, tilted her head a little, and put out one hand. It shook, just a bit, and his heart sang. Maybe, just maybe, he wasn't the only one affected by this -- whatever it was which had tossed him into a sea of want -- of need.
"In our hurry to get King taken care of we didn't introduce ourselves. I'm Allison Green."
He engulfed that dainty hand in his own. It was cool, smooth, and soft. "Sean Barnett. I'm more glad to meet you than I can ever say." He covered their joined hands with his other hand, hoping to warm her a little, hoping to keep her close just a moment more. "Thank you so much, Doctor Allison Green."
There was that smile again, those irresistible kissing dimples winking out at him. "You are very welcome, Sean Barnett." She took the end of King's leash, which dangled from his collar. "See you in a few hours. King, come. Heel." King didn't look back, just dropped down to the floor from the exam table and meekly followed the Doc without even waiting for a release command from Sean. She did have a way with animals.
In an effort to calm the unexpected lick of desire building south of the elastic waist band of his jogging shorts, he whistled tunelessly as he left the room to talk to Carol and make an appointment to pick up King. He glanced up at the clock on the wall behind her and swore under his breath. He hadn't even gotten a shower yet, and he was already late for his first day at his new job.

Video trailer: http://bit.ly/OJFLzrl
Download from: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-332/Time-After-Time-Book/Detail.bok

Secrets of Willow Shade by Jean Thompon Kinsey


Maddy Kennedy is divorcing her unfaithful husband when she learns he has a secret more devastating than adultery.
Jenny, Maddy's mother, has taken the identity of Maddy's biological father to the grave with her. With a madman stalking the family, attempting to uncover hidden bank robbery money dating back to the days of the infamous Jesse James, Maddy's only hope is to find the answers to these secrets--to find her biological father before she loses her sanity or possibly her life. Can she do this without endangering the "daddy" who has raised her as his own? Maddy goes back to Willow Shade, the family farm in Logan County, Kentucky in quest of the truth.
Even though this novel is totally fiction, you will laugh, cry, reminisce and recognize characters, rivers, bridges and caves of Logan County, Kentucky, especially "Daddy," patterned after the author's own dad.

EXCERPT
She exited I-65 onto the gravel State road. White-faced Herefords dotted fields of sweet clover. Corn tassels nodded and tobacco stalks waved green arms in the wind. Maddy pulled the Pinto over, slid out of the car, and stepped onto the Jasper River Bridge.
"This is it, Welby." She shifted her eyes to the passenger seat, patted the dog's head and loosened his collar. "If I had a dime for each time I played under this bridge, I'd be rich now."
Leaning on the paint-peeled guardrail, she chewed on the tip of her left forefinger. Lacy white foam collected on the banks of the swollen stream below. It had rained yesterday.
Maddy sighed and summoned her courage. Willow Shade Farm spread across the sloping fields beyond. She swept her hand in the direction of the old plantation diminished to an ordinary farm. "When I was a young girl, I made believe I was Scarlet O'Hara and the farm was Tara." She surveyed the scene before her. The red roof of the main house dwarfed the smaller buildings like the owners had once dominated the slaves who subsisted in the little houses.
She took a deep breath, got back into the car, and followed the winding drive up to the farmhouse. Yeah, I know. Now it's more like Tara, post bellum. That old verandah's going to collapse one of these days. She shielded her eyes from the morning sun with her hand. "Look, there's Daddy on the porch."
Daddy leaned against a tall, white column, shoulders stooped, one thumb hitched into a strap of his bib-overalls, scrutinizing the car pulling into his drive. Howard Livingston would always be her real daddy even after she found the man who sired her. She wasn't looking to replace him. She only wanted to find her heritage. Daddy met her at the end of the walk. Weathered hands pulled a red handkerchief out of his hind pocket and blotted his eyes. "Maddy, you've come home. I been praying you'd show up. Been worried about you. Going through a divorce has to be hard. On Kenneth, too, I reckon."
"I'm fine. Really I am. Wouldn't know about Kenneth."
Author: Jean Kinsey
Length: Novella
Category: Inspirational
Rating: Warm
Photography/Artwork: Carol Fiorillo

Night Angel by Paisley Kirkpatrick

Sassy Amalie Renard, a poker-playing saloon singer, shakes up Paradise Pines, a former gold-rush mountain community by turning the saloon’s bar into her stage. Her amazing voice stirs the passions of the hotel owner, a man who anonymously travels tunnels at night providing help to the downtrodden as the mysterious Night Angel. Declan Grainger agrees to subsidize the building of a music hall to fulfill Amalie's dream, but a bounty for her arrest could spoil his plans. Distrust and jealousy stir flames of malice and revenge threatening to destroy their town. Drawing from past experiences, Declan and Amalie turn to each other to find a way to save the community
EXCERPT
Different colored bottles of whiskey and beer reflected in the mirrors along the wall behind the long wooden bar. Perfect. That's where she'd start her evening. She slipped off her cape and handed it to Declan. His appreciative gasp brought a smile to her lips. Having men ogle her appearance was hardly new. She'd learned early to use her looks to her advantage. The way Declan's eyes heated with appreciation when he cast a glance at the deep cut of her d├ęcolletage reminded her how good it felt to be a woman.
"Now you'll see who I really am."
Declan grabbed her arm. "Don't let them forget you're a lady, Amalie."
She cast him a wicked smile. "The name's Lily Fox. Believe me, honey, Lily's no lady."
She approached a couple of gamblers and leaned over slightly to give them full effect of her daring dress.
"Would you mind helping me, gents? I have need of your table for a moment."
The men jumped to their feet in unison, their cards forgotten. Amalie took the nearest man's outstretched palm, stepped onto a chair, over their cards, and up onto the long wooden plank bar.
"Good evening, boys." She strutted along the length of wood, avoiding whiskey glasses and kicking away eager hands.
The saloon girl stopped caterwauling. The room went still. She had everyone's attention, just the way Lily liked it.
"Get down, young woman. This ain't no place for you to prance about," the barkeep snarled in outrage.
Ignoring the scowling face with the handlebar mustache, she kicked up her heels. Adding a dance step, she pranced back and forth the length of the makeshift stage. Lily reveled in the whistles and disregarded the uncouth remarks. She was in her element. "My name is Lily Fox, and I'm here to entertain you tonight."
With the flick of her hand, she caught the attention of the stunned piano player. "Play something quick and lively, will you, honey?" She glanced around the room of excited faces and turned on her brightest smile.
This book has a rating of Sensual. Photography/Artwork: Gwen Phifer
Website: http://www.paisleykirkpatrick.com/
Blogs:
Sweethearts of the West http://sweetheartsofthewest.blogspot.com/
Scandalous Victorians http://slipintosomethingvictorian.wordpress.com/
Voices from the Heart http://voicesftheart.blogspot.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1272262167

A Promise of Possibilities by Laurel Hawkes


In England, 1816, spinster Elizabeth Thorn has been more slave than servant as her father’s housekeeper. The courageous war stories shared by author Paul Silver inspire her to correspond with him. But after years of heartfelt letters, he stops replying...
Jonathan Silverton blames himself for the brutal death of his best friend. When he moves to the countryside and unexpectedly meets his correspondent, he chooses not to reveal his secrets. But he cannot deny his desire to marry her, while hoping she’ll never discover the truth. Shattered trust and faith may tear them apart...until they each learn a vital lesson.
Excerpt:
"Matthew," Elizabeth hissed.
He grinned, unrepentant. "My sister instructs me I am not to ply you with my myriad questions, at least, not yet."
"You're incorrigible," she muttered. It was all she could do not to clamp her hand over her mouth. She'd never meant to utter the words aloud.
Mr. Jonathan Silverton turned his full attention on her, his gray-eyed gaze flicking over her from head to foot and back again.
Vague discomfort rippled through her. She knew she was unaccustomed to a man's attention, but had he lingered overlong in his perusal of her? Had she ever endured such scrutiny? Under her sire's critical gaze, of a certainty, and perhaps his cronies as well. This had felt different. The latter invariably filled her with the sensation of being one of her father's breeding mares, but not coming from Mr. Silverton. Instead, she had sensed something more -- familiarity or perhaps recognition -- and yet how could such a thing be when they'd never met before this moment? She would remember if they had, without a doubt. His brooding world-weariness and striking appearance were unforgettable.
She concentrated on keeping her own gaze directed to the gentleman's face, endeavoring not to notice his broad shoulders and chest, encased in a close-fitting coat and waistcoat, or his trim waist and lean hips and legs, in tailored trousers and boots, all of chocolate brown. In contrast, his shirt was stark white, and the cravat was tied with practiced carelessness. She suspected his piercing gray-eyed inspection of her discerned a great deal more than she wanted to reveal. Dragging her gaze away from his eyes to the rest of his face, she noticed it was tanned, his cheekbones high, his forehead broad, framed with light brown locks curling in disarray. His straight nose drew her perusal to his bow-shaped lips, the lower being fuller than the upper, and accentuated by his square jaw.
He stepped forward, and she offered her hand, smiling, hoping her own nervousness did not show. As handsome as he was, a darkness overshadowed him, a burden on his soul.
Tucking away her contemplations, she interjected, "Please pay no attention to my brother. He may be three and twenty, but when it comes to horses he is more like three and ten."
"Ellie, never say so. Seven and ten, at least, was when I knew enough to appreciate quality, when I saw it, and even you cannot deny those horses were prime quality."
Though Mr. Silverton offered a pleasant smile, it did not reach his eyes.
Author: Laurel Hawkes
ISBN: 978-1-61252-206-7
Length: Plus Novel
Category: Historical
Rating: Warm
Photography/Artwork: Carol Fiorillo

Slainte' inspired Animal Instinct feline helper



In the Time After Time Saga every hero and heroine has an animal helper. They aren't always the same book to book so I won't give away the future.
In Animal Instinct the helper to the woman of the Heartmark is Slainte' (pronounced slawn cha - and sometimes shortened to Cha Cha.) Slainte' is a Gaelic toast to health - and the real cat she was named for, which belongs to Lynette Endicott, needed all the health she could get when we rescued her.
The helper to the hero in Animal Instinct is his German shepherd K9 partner on the police force. He is named for the German Shepherd given to my family when I was in 3rd or 4th grade. Unfortunately no one knew how to train him or had the time, so the generous breeder who gave him to us took him back. Now that I am an adult dog owner I know that walking him and being consistent with his training would have given us a fabulous dog, but it was not to be.
Here are a few photos of the real life Slainte'. She is a feisty little thing who keeps the other cat and dog in line in a very intentional way. Notice her eyes are usually golden, not green. Tami Dee, the co-author on Animal Instinct, and Lynette recently discovered that both have rescued calico cats, although Tami's is much older. Their markings are very similar.
She is the only animal that Lynette's daughter's very lively beagle/bassett mix respects. She is smaller than the other cat but twice as feisty.

Meet the authors!

  The authors of Animal Instinct are Lynette Endicott and Tami Dee in their first joint venture. Both have been writing for some time, Tami for about eight years, Lynette with short stories since she was 14, but this is only her second full length book. Tami has six prior novels under her belt. While Tami and Lynette live only a couple of hours apart in Central California, they met in an on-line critique group and this entire collaboration happened through email conversations and manuscripts.

Laurel Hawkes has spent most of her life in the Valley of the Sun, calling Yellowstone, Thailand, and England home for a brief time. Work encompassed a variety of trades including housekeeper, cashier, switchboard operator, reservation agent, teacher's aide, sign language interpreter, medical transcriptionist, and, now, writer.
When she was told she could never succeed as a writer, she believed it, and boxed away the dream, but God laid writing on her heart. He offered her numerous breadcrumbs to help her find her way. Asking her not to write would now be tantamount to asking her not to breathe. A Promise of Possibilities is the first of eight books contracted with Desert Breeze Publishing.

Jean Thompson Kinsey, originally from Franklin Kentucky, now lives at Brooks, KY. Jean has always wanted to write, but life always got in the way. She retired from real estate sales when she was diagnosed with a rare debilitating illness, syringomyelia, and dedicated her energy to raising her three children. She likes to read, play with her grandchildren, teach Sunday School, travel and take cruises. It wasn't until she became a widow in 2005, that she began seriously writing. Jean's creative non-fiction can be found in multiple Chicken Soup for the Soul and Cup of Comfort books. Her fiction is published in Disciple's World, Live, Living, Harpstring and Splickety. Jean writes inspirational fiction and non-fiction. The Secret of Willow Shade is the first of her trilogy of Willow Shade Christian suspense and the others will release in March 2013 and October 2013. She also has a prior historical Christian novel, the Lightkeeper's Daughter, with Desert Breeze Publishing.

Dusty bearded men in miner's boots and faded shirts, gamblers in fancy vests and frock coats, a ghost or two tossed in for good measure -- these are the characters who come to life on the pages of Paisley Kirkpatrick's writing. Mix them with strong, independent women of the Gold Rush era who delight and tempt their heroes to take a chance on love and, voila, it's romance.
She and her husband of 43 years are fortunate enough to live in the Sierra Mountain Range of California where this colorful time in history took place. Exploring gold mines, inspecting the stately historic homes, and traveling through tunnels zigzagging underground stirs my imagination and brings reality to her stories. To write and create has always been her dream. Joining Romance Writers of America twelve years ago opened the door to achieving what I was born to do.
You can download new releases by these authors TODAY at http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-New-Releases/Categories.bok

It's a release party!

I am so excited! The day is finally here for the release of the first of the Time After Time Saga, Animal Instinct, written with Tami Dee. Some of our fellow (and favorite) authors from Desert Breeze Publishing also have releases today, and we are celebrating together. Take a look at these great choices and the great covers that go with them!

Time After Time Book One: Animal Instincts by Lynette Endicott and Tami Dee

An evil from the past threatens to destroy the love developing between Allison and Sean. Will ancestral memories hold the key to freedom, or overwhelm them with fear? http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-332/Time-After-Time-Book/Detail.bok



Endless Possibilities Book One: A Promise of Possibilities by Laurel Hawkes
Spinster Elizabeth Thorn is bartered to a man with more secrets than she imagined. When Paul Silver ceases corresponding, she is certain she'll never find another kindred spirit, but there is a familiarity about the neighboring estate's new owner, Jonathan Silverton. http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-331/Endless-Possibilities-Book-One-cln-/Detail.bok

Maddy Kennedy discovers her birth certificate says "father unknown." Can she find her father before a madman finds them both? http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-334/Logan-County-Book-One-cln-/Detail.bok
<i>Paradise Pines:</i> Night Angel
Paradise Pines: Night Angel by Paisley Kirkpatrick

A poker-playing saloon singer tangles with the mysterious Night Angel. She steals his heart the night he robs her the first time. http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-333/Paradise-Pines-Book-One-cln-/Detail.bok

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Perfect on Paper by Patty Froese


Perfect on Paper
by
Patty Froese



 Anne Stanborough, a well known mystery writer, inherits her maiden aunt's book store, Perfect on Paper. The lawyer handling her aunt's estate is none other than the handsome Jake Harrison, but despite his attraction to the beautiful author, his painful divorce has made him wary of a marriage between two driven professionals. Anne can't let go of the career she's worked her entire life towards, and he isn't willing to make a second mistake in marriage. It looks like they should call the whole thing off until Anne discovers that her late maiden aunt might not have been so "maiden" after all… A love story from the past tugs this couple back together again, but will it be enough to prove that a love founded in God really can overcome anything?


How much are you willing to give up for love?

In movies and books, we see people faced with incredible odds, willing to give up the world to be with the person they love, but in our real lives, are we really so adventurous?

We all know that a successful marriage is built on a lot more than a feeling. Shared values and goals help to solidify a relationship. In fact, the leading cause of divorce is a lack of communication, followed closely by money issues. [ 1 ] Falling in love is important, but having some staying power in that relationship is equally important!

So I ask you, how much would you give up for love? Would you be willing to be disowned by your family? Would you be willing to give up a friendship? Would you be willing to abandon a career you love? Just how much are you willing to pay for love?

My husband and I are very different. He's conservative where I'm a free spirit. He's technical, where I'm creative. He sees black and white, where I see gray. But while we have very different personalities, we share the same goals financially, the same desires from our relationship and the same commitment to talk things out until we reach an agreement. We got engaged after two weeks and everyone we knew thought we were crazy.  We've lasted, though! From that first spark of love until now, we're crazy about each other.

Everyone has to make the decision: how much am I willing to give up for this person? How much can I compromise on, and how much is simply non-negotiable?

In my book, Perfect on Paper [2], Anne Stanborough faces that same questions. She falls for a sweet lawyer who wants a housewife. She's a driven novelist who has worked her tail off to get where she has. Is she willing to give up her career to be with the man who captured her heart? Or is that price too high?

EXCERPT

"I thought our business was complete?" She crossed her arms and watched him with humor in her eyes. He laughed and shook his head, looking a little bashful.

"It doesn't have to be, does it?"

It was Anne's turn to blush. She thought for a moment, trying to keep her face from betraying too much. She busied herself with getting the mug and teabag ready.

"Unless you'd rather not..."

"It's just..." Anne started.

"You'd rather not." He sounded embarrassed, and her heart went out to him.

"No, I would," Anne said quickly, then blushed again and shook her head. "Except... Oh, I don't know. We want different things, Jake."

"But I'm fun," he reminded her with a playful look.

"You're fun, I'll give you that."

"And I know all the decent restaurants around here. I'm pretty useful."

"You know the good restaurants too." She couldn't help but chuckle.

"What do we want that is so different?"

"I want a career. You want... a housewife."

"Maybe I do." There was no apology in his voice.

"I'm pretty much the furthest thing away from your domestic bliss that you could find."

"Isn't it a bit early to be worrying about that?"

Anne felt the heat rising in her cheeks again. Maybe it was... maybe it wasn't. It wasn't like she was planning her wedding colors after one date, or rather business dinner, but she could see the writing on the wall. She also didn't like to toss her emotions into the fray just to have her heart broken when the inevitable happened.

"We aren't kids anymore," Anne said. "Why start something that doesn't have a future?"

"You have a point." His voice was soft and low. "But it was tempting."
Patty Froese

Patty Froese is an inspirational writer who blogs Monday to Friday about the lighter side of a writer's life. Come find her at her blog, pattyfroese.com, [3] or on Twitter. [4] She'd love to see you!
Buy link

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Dragon Clans by Sue Perkins




Plucked from the sea by a red dragon, the human woman Sie joins the Valdra Clan. Her red friends wish to join the dragon Treaty Alliance, but the other clans consider the Valdra wild and aggressive. Byron, a human friend of the Mondra Clan, works with Sie to overcome the many obstacles in their path. Will the other clans be able to forget the Valdra's past betrayals and present day destructive behavior? They believe they have succeeded but the planet has its own way of disrupting their carefully laid plans.

Once again thanks to Tami for hosting me on The Grapevine. My newest release is a young adult fantasy 'Dragon Clans' – the second book of the Dragon series.

I have to admit I love to read about dragons and it's even more fun to write about them. I've read many stories with dragons that are shapeshifters, dragons who work side by side to help humans. I wanted my dragons to be different, to have their own lives, families and culture.

The dragons of the Treaty Alliance of Nuer work well together, but the red dragons are not part of the Alliance and are considered a dangerous enemy.

In 'Dragon Flame' the first book, the human settlers came to an understanding with the four dragon clans. Dragon Clans tells the story of Sie who is rescued from the sea by a member of the red Valdra dragons. She is adopted into the Valdra and vows to help them rejoin the Alliance, but this proves difficult when the other dragons attack every time they see the Valdra.

Excerpt

The sunlight shining through the cave entrance woke Sie the next morning. Cozy and warm, she stretched and yawned. Her hands touched something soft and firm. Essi had joined her in the bed and coiled herself around her visitor. The dragon still slept so Sie took the opportunity to have a good look at this unusual beast.

Her orange scales shone in the sunlight, each one neatly overlapping the next. The huge triangular head rested on the short forelegs, and the tips of large claws peeped out from under the nose. The back legs curling round the other side of Sie were strong, muscular limbs with huge feet on each end. The wings were tucked at Essi's sides hiding them from view.

Sie rose, trying not to disturb her new friend. The thought surprised her. When had Essi become a friend? The dragon had taken care of her, made her welcome, fed her, and provided garments to keep her warm. These were things a friend would do, and a warm glow of gratitude filled Sie The Maass people insisted the beasts were friendly, but she found it comforting to experience it first-hand.

At the cave entrance she stood leaning against the wall, looking out on the sandy floored bowl below. The dragon settlement stirred with big red dragons moving into the sunlight, stretching their limbs and huge wings. Big sails of thin membrane stretched between lightweight bones, each of which was longer than the dragon's body.

Good morning. Sie turned to see Essi looking at her, the dragon's huge cat like eyes blinking in the morning light. Did you sleep well?

"Yes, I did. Thank you for looking after me last night."

You are welcome. Benare would like you to attend a clan meeting this morning. We must eat before this.

Essi shooed Sie out of cave and took her to the food enclave. This morning, Sie took more notice of the food preparation. Several large, flat rocks lay in a curve around a sandy corner under an overhanging rock. Each surface held different types of food. One for fruit, one for vegetables, and two for meat.

I hope to goodness they don't eat it raw. Sie blushed in case any of the dragons had heard her.




Friday, July 27, 2012

The Sixth Key by Sue Perkins



Tami has kindly given me some time on her new blog to talk about my new release "The Sixth Key". Thank you Tami.
I'm quite excited about this book as it's the first adult fantasy romance I've written since my Sky Castles Trilogy. I love building new worlds and making the characters who live there a little bit different. In this book the ruling class of the low technology, magical planet of Sacral have psychic abilities, mainly telepathy.

I wondered what would happen if a non-telepath came into their midst, but then thought there would always be the odd one or two people who were born non-telepaths. Considered inferior citizens and shunned, eventually they were banished to the forest where they set up their own community.

A news report of a minor accident due to rain, clicked everything into place and I got the rough fuzzy idea for The Sixth Key.

Riley, from Earth, gets knocked down and wakes up on Sacral. Here she finds her ex-boyfriend is the heir to the throne and he wants to continue with their relationship, but he seems different. She doesn't like the telepaths attitude toward the non-telepaths especially as she doesn't have the ability to mind talk. When she finds the Riddle of the Keys she questions whether there is an impostor on the throne. To save herself and the world of Sacral, Riley sets out to solve the Riddle.


Please enjoy this excerpt:
           A cold drizzle fell on Riley as she left home on Monday morning. The weather matched her mood. Another weekend wasted waiting for Jothur to contact her.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. He's gone Riley. Left without a word. He's probably taken up with some fancy woman in another town.

Head down, she pushed her way through the crowds, heading for the bus stop. Riley didn't pay any attention to those around her. Her thoughts were fixed on her time with Jothur.

They met at a party. A casual friend asked her to be nice to the stranger who had only recently arrived in town and didn't know anyone. Riley clutched her drink tightly and gazed unbelievingly at the tall, blond, handsome man. His smile made her insides melt, and when he spoke, the liquid tones of his voice flowed over her as molten chocolate.

Desperate to keep his attention, she offered to show him the around the town. Jothur accepted, and for several weeks they were inseparable. Riley couldn't help herself. She'd fallen hard for this gorgeous man. Did he feel the same way? Of course he did. Her guess proved correct when he talked about their future together. The day after they'd discussed this -- he disappeared.

No explanations. No note. No phone call. Riley's worries surfaced when he didn't turn up for their next date. To make sure nothing had happened to him, she'd grabbed her jacket and opened the front door before realizing she had no idea where Jothur lived. He'd always been pretty vague about his address, but at the time Riley hadn't thought anything of it.

Days passed. None of her crowd knew where Jothur lived either. Her misery increased. This had been her fourth weekend alone and she had to accept Jothur had left with no intention of coming back. It didn't mean she had to like it though.

The drizzle turned into a downpour. Raindrops bounced off the black road surface, but through the noise she could hear a bus approaching.

Great. Miss this one and she'd be late for work. She dashed out into the road, head down, trying to keep the rain from her face. A horn blared and brakes squealed. Riley stopped. Her head jerked up to see a huge yellow truck bearing down on her. The driver's horrified face filled her vision before everything went dark.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Brave Highlander by Vonda Sinclair


My Brave Highlander
by
Vonda Sinclair


 My Brave Highlander: Battle-hardened warrior Dirk MacLerie isn't who everyone thinks he is. He's Dirk MacKay, heir apparent to the MacKay chiefdom and Dunnakeil Castle on the far north coast of Scotland. When he returns home after a long absence, will his clan know him and will the duplicitous enemy who tried to murder him twelve years ago kill him in truth this time?
Lady Isobel MacKenzie is a beautiful young widow betrothed to yet another Highland chief by her brother's order. But when her future brother-in-law accosts her and threatens to kill her, she is forced to flee into a Highland snowstorm. When she runs into a rugged and imposing man she thought dead, she wonders if he will turn her over to her enemy or take her to safety.
Dirk remembers the enchanting, dark-eyed Isobel from when he was a lad, but now she is bound to another man by legal contract—an important detail she would prefer to forget. She wishes to choose her own husband and has her sights set on Dirk. But he would never steal another man's bride… would he? The tantalizing lady fires up his passions, testing his willpower and honor at every turn, even as some of his own treacherous clansmen plot his downfall.


Please enjoy this excerpt:
Chapter One

Scotland, November 1618

Dirk MacKay urged his horse into a gallop along the narrow, muddy road that led from Draughon Castle toward Perth. Praying he wouldn't be too late to see his father alive one last time, he squinted against the cool, misty rain stinging his eyes.
The meager light of dawn hidden behind thick, leaden clouds provided little illumination. Greenish-brown hills dotted with grazing sheep and rolling beige grain fields sped by on either side of the road. Tulloch carried him closer to the thatched-roof stone crofters' cottages situated before a small wood of bare-limbed trees. A faint white mist hung over the massive River Tay, hidden amongst the bushes in the distance.
Dirk hoped he'd slipped away before his two friends knew what he was about. They would insist on going with him and he couldn't allow them to make such a sacrifice.
Lachlan was recently married and a newly titled earl and chief. He would be daft to accompany Dirk on a dangerous trek through the snowy Highlands to the edge of the earth, leaving his wife and clan to fend for themselves.
Although Robert "Rebbie" MacInnis, Earl of Rebbinglen, was a Highlander with naught to tie him down, Dirk wouldn't put his life in danger, either.
It wasn't simply the severe cold weather of the north that made Dirk worry over his friends' safety. A murderer lurked amongst his clansmen… a murderer who wanted Dirk dead, and wouldn't bat an eye at killing one of his friends, as well. He shook his head. Nay, he'd done the right thing by not asking Lachlan or Rebbie to risk their lives by traveling with him to Durness.
The three of them had been near inseparable for the past few years, but Dirk needed to handle this on his own. He'd been living in limbo for twelve years, and now it was time to return to his real life… to follow his destiny.
Behind him, quick, rhythmic hoof-beats pounded the road and spattered through puddles. A sharp whistle pierced the chill, wet air. Dirk glanced back to find a dark-haired, black-cloaked man following him.
Rebbie.
"Damnation." How had he known? Dirk slowed his horse, then halted and turned to face his approaching friend. Tulloch, snorting at the interruption to his gleeful run, danced about beneath him. "Whoa, lad," Dirk said, trying to calm the horse.
When Rebbie drew up and stopped beside him, Dirk asked, "Where are you going?"
"A better question is where are you going? You left without a word. Luckily, I heard the floorboards creaking as you slipped past my chamber this morn. Does it have aught to do with that missive you received last evening?"
"I'm in no need of help," Dirk said, skirting the disconcerting question.
Rebbie's black brows lowered. "Even if you did need help, you're likely too proud to ask for it. What's happened to cause you to slip away like this?"
"I must return home without delay." And, nay, it was not pride that kept him from asking for help. There were some things a man must face on his own.
Rebbie tugged on the reins of his fidgeting, temperamental bay. "Why?"
Gazing north, Dirk observed the mist-cloaked, brownish mountains in the distance. He would have to travel far beyond them to reach home. "An urgent family matter."
"Of what sort?"
"Damnation, Rebbie. Must you always ask a thousand questions?" Dirk hated the way his chest tightened every time he thought about the loss he might face once he returned to the castle where he grew up. The regret. The fear. If he hurried, he might still have time to see his father alive. "'Twould take too long to explain it now. I must be on my way."
Rebbie's frown deepened and his steady gaze grew darker. "How far are you traveling?"
Dirk hesitated, unsure whether he wanted to blurt out the truth. His friends thought he was someone he was not, but 'twas time to face facts. 'Twould no doubt spawn numerous other questions from his inquisitive friend. But there was no point in lying anymore. He was coming out of hiding and taking the bull by the horns—for a certainty, his life would be in danger once he reached Castle Dunnakeil.
"I'm going home to Durness," Dirk said, feeling more like his true self than he had in years.
"Saints, man!" Rebbie exclaimed. His horse flicked his ears and turned in an agitated circle. "That's where you're from? I thought the MacLeries were from Strathspey."
"Aye." His mother's clan lived in that area and he had spent much time there. But his true name wasn't MacLerie. It was MacKay. He couldn't tell Rebbie that now or he'd ask a thousand more prying questions.
Rebbie waited for Dirk to explain, and when he didn't, Rebbie raised a brow. "Durness, aye?"
Dirk nodded, a sudden gust of wind whipping his damp hair into his eyes.
"Well, at least come back to the keep for a few minutes. Lachlan can provide supplies, food and wool blankets. In this weather, 'twill take a long while to travel to Durness."
"I'm well aware. My plan is to ride west, through Stirling, then head up the west coast by galley or ship. If the weather is decent, I can travel most of the way by sea." But the wind and rain, which had been near unnoticeable when he'd left Draughon Castle a quarter hour ago, was now turning into a gale.
"I'm coming with you," Rebbie said, his determined jaw hardening.
Rebbie was a proficient and skilled former soldier, up to any battle that might come their way, but the harsh Highland winter was a different matter, and so was the murderer. "Nay, I think it best if you stay here and help Lachlan."
"Och! 'Tis not safe for anyone, even someone so fearsome and trained as you, to travel that far alone. There are highwaymen, savage pirates and outlaws. Sometimes large bands of them." Rebbie's brown eyes narrowed, giving him the look of the pirates he talked about. "Come. Let's discuss it back at Draughon, out of this rain. Rushing off unprepared will be of little help. You need supplies. Extra wool clothing."
Dirk's stomach clenched with dread. 'Haps his friend was right. He'd planned to buy supplies in Perth or Stirling. But taking them from here might be more practical; he wouldn't have to waste time looking for the items he would need.
"Very well." It was still early morn. If they didn't tarry too long, they could make much progress today.
They quickly rode back to massive Draughon Castle with its four, round, gray stone towers and large rectangular keep. The guards at the black iron gates allowed them entrance to the high-walled, stone-paved barmkin. They circled around the side of one tower to the stables.
Rebbie swung down, his feet landing with a clunk on the cobblestones. "Prepare our horses, along with two more, for a long journey," he told the stable lad.
"Two more?" Dirk asked, dismounting. "Lachlan can't leave Lady Angelique and his clan."
"I ken it, but the two of us will need servants to care for the horses, run errands and such."
Dirk rolled his eyes at the coddled nobleman. "I have no servants. And the fewer in our party the better."
Rebbie waved him off. "We'll discuss it later."
The two of them proceeded around the side and up the front steps of the keep.
Once inside the expansive, two-story great hall, Dirk approached the massive burning fireplace near the high table to warm his back, while Rebbie sent his manservant, George, to wake Lachlan. Dirk ran his gaze over the large tapestries depicting Drummagan family history that decorated the walls. They reminded him of the ones at Dunnakeil.
Female servants lit candles and carried food up from the ground level kitchens, preparing for breakfast at the long wooden tables.
Rebbie and Dirk pilfered a couple of buttered bannocks while they waited.
A few moments later, Lachlan MacGrath-Drummagan, wearing a belted plaid, emerged from the narrow turnpike stairway. "Angelique is sick," he murmured for their ears only.
"What's wrong?" Dirk asked.
"Nausea, vomiting."
Dirk and Rebbie exchanged a concerned but curious glance.
"'Haps she is with child," Rebbie suggested.
"Aye." Lachlan gave a wee joyful grin. "I'm hoping that's what it is." His sandy-blond hair glinting in the candlelight, he glanced back at the stairs briefly, making it clear he wanted to be up in the bedchamber with her. Facing forward again, he asked, "What are you two doing? Looks like you've been out riding in the rain."
"Aye, Dirk is headed to Durness and I'm accompanying him," Rebbie said. "We need provisions and supplies, if you can spare them. Wool blankets, mantles and enough food for a sennight."
"God's teeth!" Lachlan's light brown eyes widened. "Why in blazes would you need to go to the far north?"
"I'm not entirely certain." Rebbie looked to Dirk.
He merely grunted, heavy dread hanging over him like the dark gray clouds outside. He didn't mind his friends knowing, but it was the act of telling them he wasn't looking forward to. Talking about his past stirred up all sorts of painful emotions. He hated emotions because he felt them too sharply and too deeply.
Lachlan sent two kitchen maids in search of food Dirk and Rebbie might take with them—bread, hard cheese, oatcakes, dried fruit, wine and apples.
"We'll go into the library." Lachlan led the way down a short corridor, then closed the door behind them.
Though no fire burned in the small hearth, Dirk had always found this smaller, low-ceilinged room cozy and comforting, maybe because it reminded him of his father's library at Dunnakeil, a place he'd felt safe as a lad.
"Out with it, man," Rebbie said, dropping into one of the cushioned leather chairs. "We want to know what the missive said."
"You are demanding of a sudden," Dirk muttered, pacing before the cold hearth. He could hardly bring himself to voice the words he needed to say, but stalling was doing naught but wasting precious time. He cleared his throat, trying to relieve the slight ache. "My father is ill. My uncle does not expect him to live long." Speaking the facts aloud was almost like an arrow piercing his chest for he had always been close to his beloved father.
"Nay." Rebbie frowned, his eyes troubled.
An unexpected illness of some sort had taken hold of his father. Dirk should've returned to Durness months ago, but he hadn't known his father would become sick.
"I'm saddened to hear of it," Lachlan said in a comforting tone. "When did you last see him?"
Dirk was ashamed to admit how many years it had been. "When I was fifteen summers."
A weighty silence filled the room. Dirk stared into the black coals of the hearth rather than his friends' curious eyes. He knew what they must be thinking. Why so long?
"Was there some sort of rift?" Rebbie asked.
"You could say that." His friends needed to know the whole truth. A truth Dirk hadn't spoken of for twelve years. It seemed like forever. He was closer to these two men than he was to anyone, even his own family. If he couldn't trust them, who could he trust?
He inhaled a deep breath and released it. "When I was a wee lad, my mother died giving birth to my sister. My father remarried a year or two later and had two more sons. My stepmother, Maighread Gordon, wanted her oldest son to inherit. So… she tried to kill me—or have me killed—more than once."
"'Slud!" Lachlan rasped, his amber-brown eyes darkening and his face turning into a warrior's mask. "When you were but a bairn?"
"Aye. The last time, when I was fifteen, a man attempted to push me off a cliff onto the rocks far below in the sea. My cousin, a good friend, was with me. He died but I, by some miracle, managed to land on a wee ledge about fifteen feet down. The next morn, my uncle came to my rescue. My father thinks I'm dead, as does the rest of the clan. The only people who know I still live are my uncle, aunt, and two cousins."
"Saints," Rebbie hissed. "What a witch. Is she still alive?"
"Last I heard. Anyway, my uncle told everyone I died and took me to live with my mother's clan in Strathspey. I went to university a couple of years later." That was where he'd met Lachlan and Rebbie. "I've kept my identity secret for the past twelve years."
"What is your true name?" Rebbie asked.
"Dirk MacKay."
"You're not a MacLerie? Why did you not tell us?" Lachlan asked.
"My mother was a MacLerie. And… well, it was simply easier and safer that everyone think my name MacLerie. My uncle ordered me to tell no one, for my stepmother comes from a powerful clan with a far reach."
"I see. Your father holds a title and property, then?" Rebbie asked.
"Aye, but nothing so remarkable as yours. He's a baron and a chief. MacKay lands are vast but contain little arable land. The holdings include a keep called Castle Dunnakeil, a manor house about twenty miles away and several hundred clansmen scattered over MacKay Country along the north coast."
"'Tis impressive," Lachlan said. "You will one day inherit, then?"
Dirk shrugged. "'Tis my duty and responsibility to lead and guide the clan when my father is no longer able. He trained me for this from as far back as I remember."
One of his first memories was riding a large horse with his father. Dirk must have been three or four at the time. One day this will be yours, Da had said. When I'm gone, I want you to take care of the clan as if they are your children. Do you understand? Dirk recalled looking up into his father's proud and noble face, with his russet beard and blue eyes. Dirk had nodded, even though he truly didn't understand. But his father had known that someday Dirk would remember and know what he'd meant.
Now, he didn't even know whether he'd see his father again. His throat ached.
"Did you get on well?" Rebbie asked.
Dirk nodded. "As well as could be expected. But Da was smitten with Maighread. Back then, he thought her the most beautiful creature on earth. He didn't believe me when I told him she was trying to kill me. He accused me of having too vivid an imagination."
"How did you ken 'twas her?" Lachlan asked.
"She threatened me from the first time she laid eyes on me, and took great joy in slapping me every chance she got, when no one was looking. She was not careful in what she said to me because she thought no one would believe me. She was wrong. My uncle believed me even if Da did not."
"Bitch," Rebbie muttered.
Dirk nodded, a sense of urgency coming over him. "I'm thinking 'tis time for me to take my leave. But first, I want to thank you both for your friendship these last ten years. You've become like brothers to me."
"Och," Rebbie muttered. "You ken we feel the same way."
"Indeed, brother." Lachlan stepped forward for a handshake. "Have a care on your journey north. And I must thank you also for your help in clearing up the mess we had here at Draughon last month. I wouldn't have survived without you both."
Dirk nodded. "That's what friends do. Help each other."
"Which is why I'm going with you," Rebbie said, standing.
"I must warn you that the weather, especially in winter, in MacKay Country is harsher than anywhere we've been thus far."
"I'm well aware. I've traveled to Thurso before."
"And my murderous stepmother might be just as inclined to kill my friends as she is to kill me."
"Och. Let her try," Rebbie grumbled.
"Well then, you've been warned. We'll need some warmer clothing and some wool plaids."
"I have some excess ones," Lachlan offered. "And we have the thick, shaggy wool mantles we wore back from Kintalon. They'll work well in the snow and wind."
Dirk nodded. "I appreciate it."
"I wish I could go too, but Angelique is not feeling well."
"You must stay here and care for her and the clan." Dirk clapped him on the shoulder. He'd never seen Lachlan smitten before, but his wee wifey had tamed the wild Scot.
"Send me a missive to let me know how things go there. If you need me, let me know and I'll be on the first galley north."
Dirk nodded. "I thank you."
"I hope your father is alive and well when you arrive," Lachlan added as they proceeded into the corridor.
Dirk prayed his da had a miraculous turn of health. At just over two-score and ten, his father was not an elderly man and 'haps that would work in his favor. Dirk had always imagined returning to Durness one day and seeing the surprised look on Da's face. He hoped he still would.

Reviewers love this Highland adventure!

"I REALLY enjoyed My Brave Highlander. Lots of action and sensuality--Dirk is so intense and yet when he's near Isobel the heat crackles and his defenses fall. The scenery is vivid and magical. I felt like I was in the midst of the Highlands, the snow falling and melting on my cheeks. Beyond the sizzling sensual tension (which Ms. Sinclair is an expert at weaving!) the adventurous plot had me on the edge of my seat. And Dirk's enemy--HATED with a passion. Ms. Sinclair has the unique ability to pull an emotional response from her reader on every single page.
*****

"Filled with romance, I had a constant smile to my face, I got chills, the whole nine yards! This might be my favorite of all three books in the Highland Adventure series. Well done, Ms. Sinclair--I highly recommend this book! And I can't wait to read the next one!"

Eliza Knight, History Undressed
 *****
 "I loved MY BRAVE HIGHLANDER! An intriguing tale of Love, Loss, Betrayal and heart stopping romance! A story you definitely DON'T want to miss! You gotta love those Highlanders!" 

A.L. Snider
*****
Download your copy today!



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