Son Of an Itch by @SDSkye1- GP and Excerpt – Win a Kindle Fire HD!

Son Of An Itch Book Cover Son Of An Itch
J.J. McCall novel: The FBI Espionage Series
S.D. Skye
Romantic Suspense/Spy Thriller
December 8, 2013

On the lam from the FBI, the ICE PHANTOM continues with plans to defect to Moscow but not before seeking revenge on J.J. McCall. Meanwhile, the FBI commences Task Force PHANTOM HUNTER, a team ordered by Director Russell Freeman to track down suspected Russian illegals within the U.S. Intelligence Community—and not a moment too soon. An agent of the Russian Intelligence Services is targeting the nerve center of U.S. national security, taking the lie-detecting FBI Agent and her cohorts’ next mole hunt to the highest echelons of the U.S. government.

J.J. and her co-case agent lead the motley crew of spy catchers while she struggles to deal with sobriety, conflicting feelings for Tony and Six, and an egotistical Secret Service agent whose jurisdictional stonewalling complicates her every effort to identify the culprit before he gets away—with murder.


Tony’s wannabe girlfriend bounced in the door with all the cheer of a drunken valley girl, gazelle graceful in her four-inch stilettos and body-hugging cranberry-colored pantsuit. After flipping her irritatingly thick Pantene hair behind her shoulder, she smiled and sang a bright, “Good morning!”

J.J. grabbed a handful of chocolate with the quickness of a hungry toddler. “Gia, you made it,” J.J. replied in a flat tone, offering a polite but grudging head nod. Her ears and cheeks warmed as she soundlessly growled and narrowed her eyes. “Please make yourself comfortable,” she said as the words “on Mars” flitted through her mind. She stuffed a handful of M&Ms in her mouth and waited for the next arrival.

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Gia replied, carefree and nonchalant, full of herself because in the contest for the heart of Tony Donato, she’d scored a major victory over J.J. by all appearances. A flirtatious grin edged the corners of her lips upward when Tony arrived seconds later, in all his muscled Italian glory. A towering hunk of olive-colored fine. Her voice bounced as she sang, “Ciao, Signore Donato.”

Show off, J.J. groused as she shifted in her chair, cocked her head to the side and shook it in disbelief at Gia’s shameless pandering. J.J. had sensed an attraction between the two. Her fears were confirmed by Tony’s first lie.


Today, I have author S.D. Skye on the blog with a guest post on how  the ‘Itch’ was created.  She is on tour with her  novel, Son Of An Itch,  book 2 in the  in the J.J. McCall: The FBI Espionage Series.

Don’t miss the giveaway at the end of the post.  The author will be awarding a Kindle Fire HD and a $25 Kindle Gift Card to
a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. (US ONLY)

about the author

S.D. Skye is a former FBI Russian Counterintelligence Program Intelligence Analyst and supported two major programs during her 12-year tenure at the Bureau. She has personally witnessed the blowback the Intelligence Community suffered due to the most significant compromises in U.S. history, including the arrests of former CIA Case Officer Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen. She spent 20+ years supporting military and intelligence missions in the U.S. Intelligence Community.

Skye, an award winning author, is a member of the Maryland Writer’s Association, Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She’s addicted to writing and chocolate—not necessarily in that order—and currently lives in the Washington D.C. area with her son. Skye is hard at work on several projects, including the next installment of this exciting series.




Buy Links

S.D. Skye Novels on Amazon – Kindle and Paperback

S.D. Skye Novels on Kindle – Worldwide Links

guest post

J.J. McCall – The Human Lie Detector

When I first conceived the idea for this FBI Espionage (counterespionage) series, I wanted to write a heroine modeled after an African American agent with whom I worked at the FBI. One of the things I remembered about the agent is that I admired her because she had an almost innate ability to walk into a room, command it, and then cut through the BS. We worked on a task force together, and she waded through all the white noise to get to the nitty gritty and take care of business almost immediately. But she operated in a smooth, classy way.

So, when creating the J.J. McCall character, I wanted to somehow infuse her with that same ability to cut through the BS. I wanted it to be something of a superpower, but not really a superpower because I don’t write paranormal, fantasy, or science fiction. I don’t have the imagination to world-build.

I also wanted her “gift” to be grounded in some reality.

Espionage, spying, and intelligence collection is all smoke and mirrors. When I thought about the major challenges counterintelligence agents face, one significant problem is discerning the truth from a lie. When an FBI Agent pitches a foreign intelligence officer and he refuses to speak with the FBI, does he really mean it? Or is he putting up a front because he’s afraid of getting caught by his internal counterintelligence service? When a new diplomat enters the United States and claims he’s legitimate, is he clean or is he an intelligence officer? From operational covers to legends to covert or clandestine operations, the spy world is built around lies. Counterintelligence is partially the search for the truth. Imagine a character who could detect a lie in this world?

Pretty cool.

So, I created a character that could mitigate the “lying” problem by detecting them. Then I wondered if I had made her job too easy. As writers, we can’t make anything easy on our characters or it’s not fun for the reader. Readers like to see characters that are challenged, that suffer before they succeed.

After some thought, I realized such a gift was limited in its use. First, she couldn’t be everywhere at once. Her gift would only be useful if she was speaking to a bad guy at the time they were lying about something related to a case or operation. Secondly, if you think about why people lie, we tell lies for a multitude of reasons. In addition to attempting to deceive others, we tell lies to protect other people’s feelings. We may lie to protect someone else from harm. All sorts of reasons. So, even though J.J. can tell whether someone is lying, she cannot answer the most important question—WHY. She almost always has to dig a little deeper. So this gives her an “edge” in this spooky world but limits her ability to leverage it.

As for the “itch,” years ago I took a class taught by an FBI agent, and he taught us methods to detect whether someone might be engaging in deceptive behaviors during interviews. Sometimes when people tell lies it makes them itch and they scratch. And I remember one instance in which we were watch the video of a subject being interviewed and the subject would scratch his nose only moments after telling a lie. So, I turned that around and made J.J. itch whenever she heard a lie. And I thought the associated humor might break the edge a bit in some very tense scenes. In addition, most people with extrasensory gifts welcome them. But I thought J.J. would reject this uncomfortable “gift” of an itch which makes the gift more complex (think Elsa in Frozen).

All that was left was to explain how she got the “gift.” At first I was just going to play God and not explain it, rather tell the reader, “This is the way it is, deal with it.” Well, as a reader, I probably wouldn’t buy into that. So, I decided to explain it through a little voodoo. I conducted some research and found out that people from cultures around the world actually believe in the curse of the “The Evil Eye,” that some “magic workers” could cast a bad luck curse on you through a contemptuous gaze. So, I gave J.J. roots in the Louisiana where in certain sects they believe in jadoo (magic workers) who actually do such things.

I wanted the curse to be generational, so I started with J.J.’s great-great grandmother. After spinning the idea around my head, I thought it would be an ironic twist for a jadoo worker to curse someone with the ability to tell the truth because they got caught in a lie—so my law enforcement mind thought “scam gone wrong.” But I didn’t know about scams back in the early 1900s. So I conducted more research and found out about the “Spanish Prisoner” scam that crooks ran on African Americans in the 1900s. Creole people were mixed race. They had such light skin that they could pass for Spanish. As the scam went, the wife of the “Spanish prisoner” would claim her husband got arrested on Jim Crow charges and beg for bail money. If the victim helped her, they be rewarded with Spanish gold and become rich. Of course in reality, the crooks took the money and ran. But the harshness of the Jim Crow legislation apparently made a lot of African Americans susceptible to the scam. When this scam goes wrong in the Jones family, the perpetrator leaves a generational curse behind before making an ungraceful exit.

Mix all these ingredients together and that’s how I came up with J.J.’s “Itch.”


The author will be awarding a Kindle Fire HD and a $25 Kindle Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. (US ONLY)

Follow the tour at Goddess Fish Promotions.

Please use this Rafflecopter code for entries:

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Tour: Bloodgifted by @TimaMariaLacoba – Guest Post,Excerpt

Bloodgifted Book Cover Bloodgifted
Dantonville Legacy
Tima Maria Lacoba
Paranormal Romance

How does a young woman live a normal life when she carries a rare genetic mutation? Descended from a cursed Roman soldier, Laura Dantonville has inherited the ability to delay aging but much of her past is unknown to her. That includes knowledge of her true parentage, and the fact that her unique blood is coveted by the secret community of vampires who reside in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. She later learns that it's her blood alone that provides these creatures with the ability to tolerate daylight. As such, she is the epicenter of a power struggle between two rival vampire groups who want to claim her. The oldest and most powerful of these factions is led by Alec Munro, whose position as leader, or Princeps, gives him sole claim to Laura. Has she any other choice but to accept her destiny?

Chapter 4

Meeting a Vampire


Christmas was only two weeks away and the streets thronged with eager shoppers. My aunt dropped me off in the large open court in front of St Andrews Cathedral, a popular meeting point in the city.
'Aren't you coming in with me?'
'No dear,' she hesitated. 'I can't. This is now between you and Alec. It might be awkward my sitting there and listening.'
'For you or for him?'
'For you, dear. There are some personal details the two of you will be discussing. You wouldn't want me there.' Aunt Judy patted my hand. 'Go in, dear. He's waiting.' I took a deep breath and opened the car door.
'Laura dear,' she said just before I stepped out. 'You have absolutely nothing to fear.
Alec is here to protect you.'
A vampire is going to protect me from other vampires. Great!
I made my way through the crowds to the main entrance of the cathedral.
Before leaving I'd asked Matt if he could pick me up after the Cricket. I'd told him Aunt Judy wanted me to meet an old friend, saying she was happy to brave the traffic.
It was the least she could do, I thought.
Matt was fine with that arrangement. Besides, he didn't want to miss the match.
Apparently, he and Dad had a bet going. But really, how could I possibly repeat what I'd just learnt from my aunt? I was still grappling with it all myself.
I pushed open the heavy glass doors and stepped into the cool, dark recess.
The scent of old polished wood rose from the rows of pews stretching the length of the nave. To my left, a well-worn stone-paved path led past them and through the length of the interior, while a shallow ramp on my right disappeared into a semi-concealed alcove ringed with high-backed wooden chairs.
Which way? If in doubt, follow the yellow-brick road, I thought. Turning left I followed the stone-path down the aisle. What on earth am I doing here? I asked myself.
Meeting a vampire, came the daft answer.
'He will find you,' my aunt had said. Right now, I didn't know if I wanted to be found! The truth is, I was nervous and even a little afraid searching for an unnatural
creature in a gothic building. How appropriate. All I need is for the cathedral organ to start playing creepy music!
At least I wasn't totally alone. Here and there a few people milled around, even though most were outside grabbing that last minute Christmas bargain as shopping hours had been extended. It was only about nine p.m. In the balcony at the end of the nave a choir was rehearsing The Messiah. I'm sure they'd hear me scream if this Alec Munro proved less benign than the impression my aunt gave. Why didn't I bring Matt? I should have simply ignored her warning and dragged him along anyway.
I followed the stone-path to the back entrance, around the massive sandstone baptismal font and up the other side. Every now and then the Choir Master stopped the singers mid-note for a correction before continuing their rehearsal. Three Christmas trees, bedecked with massive gold bows, had been positioned on either side of the communion table, while an impressive green wreath hung from the edge of the elevated pulpit.
I realized that the stone path I'd followed led to the small chair-lined alcove I'd originally noticed on entering. It was separated from the aisle by an ornately carved wooden partition, and there, leaning nonchalantly against the narrow opening, arms crossed over his chest stood a tall, broad-shouldered, impossibly good-looking man with hair the colour of a raven's wing.
My feet stopped mid-stride as my eyes drank in this strikingly imposing figure who so dominated the space around him, that I wondered how I could not have seen him earlier? Nor the way his piercing lavender eyes gazed back at me, demanding my attention.
I sucked in a breath, not just for the affect he had on me, but that he was the visual
confirmation of my aunt's words even if he didn't fit my image of a vampire.
But then I really didn't know what to expect - black cape, nasty protruding fangs, glowing red eyes and as pale as death perhaps? The man before me belied those preconceptions, and no vampire I saw in the movies ever looked that good in cream silk business shirt and slate grey trousers, which hung seductively low on his lean hips. His sleeves were rolled up at the elbows and the top button of his shirt left undone allowing his tie to hang loose.
I swallowed. Was this the blood-sucking creature whose bite left those marks on my aunt's wrist? No wonder she'd said I wouldn't mind!
He smiled and softly called my name. 'Laura.'


Today author Tima Maria Lacoba joins me on the blog, with a guest post on her ideal cast of characters for her latest paranormal romance  novel, Bloodgifted.  If your a fan of vampires, don’t miss this one.

There is also  a giveaway during her tour, which you can win a $20 Amazon Gift Card.  Check out the giveaway at the end of the post and be sure to check out the tour page on Chick-Lit Plus for more stops on the tour. Update: Giveaway is over

about the author

tima-maria-lacobaHi, I’m Tima Maria, and I write vampire books, but not just any vamp books – mine are Roman soldiers cursed by a Pictish witch in the 3rd century.
So, how did I start this series? In a previous life (before I started writing) I was a practicing archaeologist and historian, specializing in Roman Britain. Later, I took up high school teaching, as It gave me the opportunity to take my students on overseas excursions to visit the amazing archaeological sites they’d only seen in books.
Then one day, I surrendered to the itch of writing. After many years reading and correcting my students’ creative writing tasks and essays, I decided it was time to write my own. I couldn’t hold it in any longer.
Bloodgifted is the result.
In 2011, it was shortlisted in the Atlas Award – sponsored by a boutique Brisbane publisher – and eventually came fourth.
In 2012, it was listed among the top ten in the Choclit, Search for an Aussie Star Competition.
In 2013, I was offered a publishing contract, but declined in favour of going indie. I liked the idea of being in charge of my own creation.
Bloodgifted is just the start of a three part series I’ve entitled, The Dantonville Legacy. Later, I intend writing individual books on the other characters in the series, for they all have their own story.

Currently, I live on the Central Coast, an hour’s drive north of Sydney, surrounded by wooded hills, possums and seed-dropping rosellas. Between bouts of writing, I teach English and History, enjoy long walks while dodging the nesting magpies and plot the next series of books I’d like to write.

Connect with Tima!

 Twitter – @TimaMariaLacoba

Facebook – http://www.facebook/TimaMariaLacoba

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads/TimaMariaLacoba

My website –

guest post

If you were casting this book as a movie, who do you see as your dream team in the starring roles and why?

What writer doesn’t dream of having their book made into a movie?  I do. As soon as I began writing my book, “Bloodgifted” I went searching for my dream cast. From the beginning I decided on Australian actors as my story is set in Sydney, and although the supporting characters are originally Roman soldiers, they’ve been alive over eighteen hundred years and pick up the dialects around them in order to blend in. They’ve lived in Australia for over a hundred-and-fifty years-all except Jean-Philippe. He’s French.

The lead characters-Laura, Alec and Judith-are Australian.

So, who’s my cast? Let’s see:

1. Justin Melvey as Alec Munro. He’s perfect as the dark-haired, Scots-Australian doctor turned vampire.

2. Teresa Palmer as Laura Dantonville.

3. Chris Hemsworth as Lucien (Luc) Lebrettan.

4. Belinda Gibney as Judith Dantonville

5. Taylor Kinney as Terens (Tribune Sextus Terentius)

6. Alex O’Loughlin as Jake (Gaius Justinius)

7. Jesse Spenser as Sam (Sempronius)

8. Travis Fimmel as Cal (Calixtus)

9. Sam Worthington as Matt Sommers

10. Ryan Kwanten as Jean-Philippe

My dream team! I actually placed pictures of these actors on the notice board above my desk, so that when I’m writing I “see” my characters in front of me.

And finally, here’s the house they all live in-a magnificent neo-gothic mansion in the exclusive suburb of Vaucluse, and the perfect place for a family of vampires!

Thanks Dee, for the opportunity to share my Dantonville World with you.


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Tour: Chick-Lit Novel – Private Air by @BillieBates1 guest post, excerpt, giveaway

Private Air Book Cover Private Air
Billie Bates
chick - lit

When Sienna Harris joined the Australian Air Force as a flight attendant for the Prime Minister, she thought she’d hit the glam-job jackpot. But three years of weapons training, outback destinations, and a cheating fighter pilot fiancé, and she’s realized it’s not so fabulous after all. Time to embark on a new adventure, this time to the prestigious world of international VIP aviation.

Sienna and her best friend leave behind their small-town lives for a glitzy career flight attending on a Saudi prince’s private jet. Money, parties, designer clothes, and exotic locations fill the job description, while the sexy pilot, Ted, makes it hard for Sienna to obey the “no fraternizing” rule.

But even the most opulent of journeys can hit turbulence. Sienna’s boss, the appearance-obsessed chief stewardess, issues diuretics and Botox with the uniforms and catering orders, and the prince is a man who’s never told no. Underneath its lush appearance, could this desert oasis be more of a muddy puddle?

The Devil Wears Prada meets Pan Am in this fun frolic to the glamorous side of air travel, inspired by the author’s own experience as a VIP flight attendant in Saudi Arabia and Europe.


A glow of excitement washed over me as I jumped in a cab. Mike still didn’t know I was in town, so my arrival would be a sweet surprise. We’d been doing the long distant thing for three years, which wasn’t terrible, since I only had to worry about shaving my legs once every two weeks. But now that we were engaged and my contract was up with the RAAF, the plan was for me to discharge and move here to be with him.I’d always imagined taking time out to travel the world after my military contract ended, but life didn’t always turn out as planned. And even if giving up flying and living in Williamtown wasn’t quite the jet-set life I’d envisioned, being the wife of a fighter pilot wouldn’t be terrible, either. What girl didn’t want to find a fun swoon-worthy man to love and settle down with? I pushed aside the niggling thought that I was giving up on pursuing my dreams, and focused on nicer thoughts, like bubble baths… and reenacting love scenes from Top Gun.Fifteen minutes later, the taxi pulled up next to Mike’s black Nissan 350Z. Beyonce blared from the living room. Beyonce? Other than the Top Gun soundtrack, I usually couldn’t get him to listen to anything but AC/DC.I stepped through the front door to his townhouse and called out over the music, “Mike? It’s me, babe, where are you?”I needn’t have asked.Mike sat in the living room in his boxers, his hands behind his back in fluffy pink handcuffs, while a flame-haired Glamazonian, complete with leopard print thong, gyrated on his lap to Crazy in Love.

I froze, halfway through the door, with my hand still on the doorknob and my jaw on the floor. My initial thought was I’d just seen my first pair of bare, silicone boobs. Not a common sight in the circles we hung with.

Mike, although stunned, didn’t look nearly as worried as I thought he should. “Sienna, what are you doing here?” he asked.

My stomach lurched into my throat.

Big Red got off his lap, apparently bored, but didn’t attempt to clothe herself or to un-cuff him. She switched off the music with the remote, looked me up and down (or just down, considering she stood six feet tall), and swaggered to the bedroom. “Let me know when you’re done,” she called over her shoulder.

“Sienna, it’s not what it looks like,” Mike said.

“That’s original.” What I really wanted to say was, So you’re not getting a lap dance? You’re just having your crotch polished and her panties are the Shamwow? But the saliva build-up in my throat only let me swallow.

He sighed. “Why don’t you un-cuff me, then we can talk. The keys are over there on the coffee table.” He nodded in the direction of the table. The table I’d given him as a housewarming gift. In a daze, I inched over.

He took my silence as a cue to continue. “Arizona is a stripper, okay, but it’s not as sleazy as it looks. We’re old friends.”

I thought over a list of activities I participated in with old friends. Lap dancing didn’t come to mind.

“There’s no easy way to say this, sweet-thing…” He tilted his head in pity.

“Arizona and I have fallen in love.”

My heart stopped.

I didn’t know which was more insulting; that he’d paid another woman to gyrate on his groin, or that he was in love with another woman who’d been gyrating on his groin.

The blood that had drained from my face returned with full force. “You’re in love? You still call her by her stage name and you think you’re in love? You have a fifteen thousand dollar ring on another girl’s finger, and you think you’re in love?” My voice didn’t come close to matching my internal meltdown.

“Sienna, I’m so sorry, babe, this is hard for me too, you know. I was waiting for the right time to tell you. I guess the heart just wants what the heart wants...”

I stared at his bound and pathetic self and felt an overwhelming urge to kick the chair from beneath him. “No Michael, in your case I think the dick just wants what the dick wants.” I picked up a lipstick from the table and examined the base. Final Seduction. How appropriate. Mike sat jaw clenched as I wrote the word DICK across his forehead in hooker-red lipstick, then turned and walked out the door.

“I’m keeping the ring,” I called over my shoulder as I left.


Today I welcome author Billie Bates to the blog, with her chick-lit novel, Private Air.  Billie is touring with Chick-Lit Plus and is sharing with us an excerpt from an essay she has written.  She is also holding a giveaway during her tour, which you can win a $35 Amazon Gift Card and a handcrafted hat & headband.  Check out the giveaway at the tour page on Chick-Lit Plus.  Update: Giveaway is over.

about the author

billie-bates1Billie Bates grew up in Australia with unquenchable thirst for travel. After exploring the world as a VIP flight attendant for seven years, she finally settled in the quiet Midwest of the USA, where she now lives with her husband and two children.
Connect with Billie!

Website: www.billiebates.comFacebook: guest post


My first flying position in Saudi Arabia was for the Minister of Finance. Being the representative for money, the thing that caused Saudi to modernize and Americanize, didn’t put you in favor with the Al Qaeda. And being the aircrew for someone not in favor with the Al Qaeda, didn’t put you in favor with the Sandman. Unassisted sleep in Saudi was as hard to come by as a bible or a bacon double cheeseburger.

With five business jets in operation, the Ministry of Finance had thirty-six flight attendants, mostly British and Australian, who were supposed to rotate around a month on/month off schedule. However, due to the fact we lived on the top floor of a hotel rather than a  secure compound, our heightened stress levels were palpable, and our company, for fear of us never returning, wouldn’t honor the rotation of new girls until they’d been on Saudi soil for roughly six months.

Our company’s tactic to acclimate us before release needed revising. The girls were often so jaded by the blatant disregard for their  contracts that when they were finally flown home for a month off, they’d take their paycheck, go for a week of colonics and fasting in Thailand, and use the return-to-Riyadh leg of their ticket to wipe their freshly irrigated arses.

My first bout of stress elevation occurred on my third day in the country. Lying on my bed, I tried to decide between the Islamic prayer channel and Muslim Big Brother – tension was rising as two men argued over the direction of Mecca, and an eight-year-old boy played snooker alone. No women or alcohol allowed in the house. Riveting stuff.

Just then, an almighty BOOM sounded and the glass door to my balcony shuddered and vibrated so intensely, I was shocked it didn’t shatter. My heart pounded. Already wearing my abaya (black, wrist to ankle covering), I snatched my headscarf off the back of the door and bolted into the corridor. Other girls had done the same. The lead flight attendant took charge, hurling her hand toward the elevator. “Down stairs! Mosaics! Now!”

Mosaics was the restaurant at our hotel, and if you weren’t shopping, flying, or in your room chewing on Prozac and Ambien, this was where you spent your days, drinking copious amounts of muddy  coffee, chain smoking Marlboro lights, and bitching about the company. We were obviously worth the $120,000 tax-free they paid  us per annum.

The lead F/A called our sponsor, and before we’d finished our first carton of ciggies and our second pot of mud, an HR rep arrived.

“What car bomb, habibi? No car bomb! What is this you speak of?” he said. His perfect Arabian blend of sweet concern and ignorance was almost believable, except that from the window behind him we could still see fire trucks, police cars, and the smoldering damage to the building next door. The headquarters for the Ministry of Finance.

“The car bombs, plural, that just went off right beside us?” said our Lead. “Our boss’s headquarters? This is the final straw Mohammed, my girls need to be housed on a secure compound. It’s not safe for us here.”

She was surprisingly calm considering his outrageous attempt at denial, but I was fresh off the boat. It would take me a wee bit longer to learn denial was always the first line of defense. To continue  reading:

WARNING: May contain offensive material.


A GP on Being Impulsive by @_Sheila_Roberts – The Cottage on Juniper Ridge blog tour

The Cottage on Juniper Ridge Book Cover The Cottage on Juniper Ridge
Sheila Roberts
Contemporary Romance

Can a book change your life? Yes, when it's Simplicity, Muriel Sterling's guide to plain living. In fact, it inspires Jen Heath to leave her stressful, overcommitted life in Seattle and move to Icicle Falls, where she rents a lovely little cottage on Juniper Ridge. And where she can enjoy simple pleasures—like joining the local book club—and complicated ones, like falling in love with her sexy landlord, Garrett Armstrong.

Her sister Toni is ready for a change, too. She has a teenage daughter who's constantly texting her friends, a husband who's more involved with his computer than he is with her, and a son who's consumed by video games. Toni wants her family to grow closer—to return to a simpler way of life.

Other women in town, like Stacy Thomas, are also inspired to unload their excess stuff and some of the extra responsibilities they've taken on.

But as they all discover, sometimes life simply happens. It doesn't always happen simply!




... “You know, I wasn’t really in favor of reading that book, but now I’m glad we did,” Stacy said. “I got rid of all kinds of stuff I didn’t really need. I even got rid of some of my Christmas decorations.”Cass’s mouth dropped. “No.”“Well, not a lot,” Stacy admitted. “But a bunch of things we haven’t used in a long time, things I’m not that crazy about anymore. And I unloaded a whole box full of outside lights.”She and Bill Will chatted for a few minutes, mostly about him and how he was saving up to buy a place of his own. “Except I only got about a thousand in the bank,” he said with a shake of the head. “I need to find me a rich woman. Got any money, Jen?” he added with a smile.“Yeah. Tons. Can’t you tell?”“Aw, well. There’s more to life than money, right?” He set down his mug. “Let’s get started. I’m itchin’ to try out that machinery.”

She’d already marked off the area where she wanted the garden. “I figure I’ll put it over there,” she said, pointing to a sunny corner of the yard she’d marked off with string and some small yard stakes.

“Okay,” he said with a nod.

She watched, feeling a tingle of excitement, as he let down the tailgate of his truck and pulled out the tiller. Home-grown lettuce and spinach and peas and carrots. This was going to be great.

Bill Will took the tiller over to the future home of Veggie Central, started it, and began to churn up the earth. She should plant sunflowers, too, she thought watching him.

She was so into her garden daydream that it took a minute for her to realize that the tilling had stopped. “I think we got a problem,” Bill Will called.

Had he hit a rock? She hurried over to where he was squatting in front of clumps of grass and sandy soil, examining what looked like some sort of network of pipes. “What’s that?” she asked. Whatever it was, something was wrong with it, she thought, looking at the water gurgling from several that had been severed.

He pushed back his hat and scratched his head. “Well, I’m no expert on stuff like this but if I had to guess I’d say that’s your drain field.”

“Drain field?”

“You know, your septic system. I think we just tore something up.”

A sick feeling landed in the pit of her stomach. “Can you fix it?”

He looked at the mess in front of him and shook his head. “If you need a horse broke or a fence mended I’m your man. This, well, you better call your landlord.”

The sick feeling swelled. “Oh,” Jen said weakly.

Bill Will straightened up. “Sorry to ruin your day Jen, but I don’t think we better till any more until you know where all your drain field is. You don’t want to do any more damage.”

She’d just done more damage ... to her tenant-landlord relationship. Oh, boy.

“You’d better call Armstrong right away,” Bill Will advised.

She could hardly wait.

Her trepidation must have shown on her face because Bill Will threw an arm around her shoulders and gave her a hug. “It’ll be okay. He’s a good guy. He’ll understand.”

Jen wasn’t so sure.

Today, I have author Sheila Roberts back on the blog with her novel,  The Cottage on Juniper Ridge.   I hope you enjoy the excerpt, and don’t miss her guest post where she shares some good and bad moments from being impulsive.

Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of the post.  Sheila will be awarding a $25 B & N gift card and an eCopy of The Cottage on Juniper Ridge to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

about the author

Sheila RobertsSheila Roberts lives in the Pacific Northwest. She’s happily married and has three children.   

Writing since 1989, Sheila’s books have been printed in several different languages and have been chosen for book clubs such as Doubleday as well as for Readers Digest Condensed books. Her best-selling novel ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS was made into a movie and appeared on the Lifetime Movie Network, and her novel THE NINE LIVES OF CHRISTMAS has just been optioned for film. Her novel ANGEL LANE was named one of Amazon’s Top Ten Romances for 2009.    

When she’s not making public appearances or playing with her friends, she can be found writing about those things near and dear to women’s hearts: family, friends, and chocolate.


find me on Facebook as Sheila Roberts, author

Twitter: _Sheila_Roberts


guest post

 Being Impulsive

I have a character in my new book who tends to be impulsive. An idea pops into her head and she acts on it. I think there might be a little bit of me in her. In fact, I think there might be a lot of me in her. I always say I’m a quick thinker… not necessarily a thorough thinker.

That can lead to problems. In fact, it led to problems just this week. Our dryer, which is all of five years old, decided to have a problem. (After only five years? Seriously?) First it made funny whump, whump noises and then I discovered a little loop of some kind of felted belt sticking out. Well, that couldn’t be good. But when I made this discovery I already had a damp load of laundry that needed to get dried. Well, I reasoned, that thingamajiggy hasn’t totally come out, and I have too many clothes to simply hang up around my little laundry room. I’ll do this one load.

Later, when I found half the clothes wound around that little loop of felt, I wondered why I hadn’t thought my decision through a little more carefully. (If I had, surely I would have realized what would happen.) I guess the answer is that’s not how I roll. And my impulsiveness has gotten me in some embarrassing moments over the years. I’ve committed to projects and people I shouldn’t have and gotten myself into more than one awkward situation. But my impulsiveness has also often led to fun adventures and decisions that have changed out lives, like becoming foster parents and then being able to adopt the world’s most wonderful girl.

Being impulsive can lead to spur of the moment picnics or trips to the movies, baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies or lovemaking in the afternoon. And when my character Jen Heath impulsively decides to simplify her life and move to Icicle Falls it turns out to be a good thing. Before she knows it Jen’s made new friends and joined a book club. And that book club happens to be reading the same book that inspired her to leave her two jobs in the city and come to Icicle Falls in the first place. Inspired by both her story and the book they’re reading the women decide it’s time to simplify their lives, too. As they all work on making important life changes they learn that it can get complicated simplifying your life. But the end results are worth it. I think my heroine’s impulsive move to a new town and a new life is going to turn out to be a good thing.

How about you? Have you ever made an impulsive decision that turned out to be a good thing?


This giveaway is provided by and the responsibility of the author and Goddess Fish Promotions. Contest ends March  28, 2014.

Sheila will be awarding a $25 B & N gift card and an eCopy of The Cottage on Juniper Ridge to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

Comment below for your chance to win, and follow the tour at Goddess Fish Promotions for more chances to comment.


Kobo Aura

Moccasin Trace Banner

Moccasin Trace by Hawk MacKinney – Book Blast

Moccasin Trace Book Cover Moccasin Trace
Hawk MacKinney
Historical Romance
ArcheBooks Publishing

… it was about the land…a tale of love and loss and hope…

 “The most engaging and brilliantly crafted historical work since Margaret Mitchell’s great classic.”

Barbara Casey

Author, The Gospel According to Prissy

 Hamilton Ingram looked out across the fertile Georgia bottomlands that were Moccasin Hollows, seeing holdings it had taken generations of Ingrams to build.  No drop of slave sweat ever shed in its creation.  It was about the land…his trust, his duty to preserve it for the generation of Ingrams to come…

 It is July of 1859, a month of sweltering dog days and feverish emotional bombast.  Life is good for widower Rundell Ingram and his Hazel-eyed, roan-haired son, Hamilton.  Between the two of them, they take care of Moccasin Hollows, their rustic dogtrot ancestral home, a sprawling non-slave plantation in the rolling farming country outside Queensborough Towne in east Georgia.  Adjoining Ingram lands is Wisteria Bend, the vast slave-holding plantation of Andrew and Corinthia Greer, their daughter Sarah, and son Benjamin.

 Both families share generations of long-accepted traditions, and childhood playmates are no longer children.  The rangy, even-tempered Norman-Scottish young Hamilton is smitten with Sarah, who has become an enticing capricious beauty—the young lovers more in love with each passing day, and only pleasant times ahead of them.

 But a blood tide of war is sweeping across the South, a tide that might be impossible to stand before.


Bessie's head jerked around, "...them gun shots."           

A stooped-over Sarah looked up, "What?"           

"Gun shots..."  Bessie put down the box of jars and headed toward the cellar door.  "From the direction where the men be.  We gittin' upstairs, an' gittin' now."           

Sarah's heart pounded as they came up out of the cellar and looked in the direction of more shots.           

"Come on..."  Bessie hurried into the pantry where she reached down the powder horn from the top shelf, then the rifle and pistols. "Git 'em ready with all that shootin'.  Till we know different, we make sure two-legged low-downs don't sneak to the house."           

Sarah rushed to the window and murmured, "Hamilton..."  She feared  for him, for their child, for all of them.  "Surely you don't suppose it's Federals?"           

"Might be better if'n it is 'stead of what else be skulkin' in them woods.  Stay away from the winder, an' finish rammin' this powder."           

Sarah poured the ball and powder firm, rammed it, pulled the rammer out, and whispered, "Bessie listen...birds stopped singing."           

"Except that cawin' crow seein' somethin' what don't belong."           

Sarah took another quick peek, "There's several horses, but I don't see any riders.  Mules are still hitched.  I don't see anyone at the plow, but there's men on among the trees."           

"You watch the front door."  Bessie snugged the pistol in her apron pocket.  "I cover the back.  Anybody tries comin' through the dogtrot door or through the parlor, we back into here, keep 'em from circlin' us."           

"What about Papa Rundell?"  Sarah's stomach was queasy.           

"He keep his rifle ready.  Anyone bust in his room be dead 'fore they twitch a hair."           

With a crash the kitchen door flew open.  Sarah brought her rifle up and fired, the shot splintering door and jamb.  The sound thundered through the house.  Bessie's rifle steadied dead-on.           

The silhouetted head and shoulders ducked into a hunch and Hamilton yelled, "Sarah!"  His hand smeared at stinging blood-speckled splinters of wood along his cheek.



Today, I have a fun excerpt from Hawk MacKinneys novel,  Moccasin Trace.   Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of the post. Hawk will be awarding a  $25 Amazon gift card to a  randomly drawn commenter during the tour.   See the giveaway terms at the end of the post.  Update: Giveaway is over.

about the author

Hawk MacKinney, authorWith postgraduate degrees and faculty appointments in several medical universities, Hawk MacKinney has taught graduate courses in both the United States and Jerusalem. In addition to professional articles and texts on chordate neuroembryology, Hawk has authored several works of fiction.

Hawk began writing mysteries for his school newspaper. His works of fiction, historical love stories, science fiction and mystery-thrillers are not genre-centered, but plot-character driven, and reflect his southwest upbringing in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award, details the family bloodlines of his serial protagonist in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series… murder and mayhem with a touch of romance. Vault of Secrets, the first book in the Ingram series, was followed by Nymrod Resurrection, Blood and Gold, and The Lady of Corpsewood Manor. All have received national attention.  Hawk’s latest release in the Ingram series is due out this fall with another mystery-thriller work out in 2014. The Bleikovat Event, the first volume in The Cairns of Sainctuarie science fiction series, was released in 2012.

“Without question, Hawk is one of the most gifted and imaginative writers I have had the pleasure to represent. His reading fans have something special to look forward to in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series. Intrigue, murder, deception and conspiracy–these are the things that take Hawk’s main character, Navy ex-SEAL/part-time private investigator Craige Ingram, from his South Carolina ancestral home of Moccasin Hollow to the dirty backrooms of the nation’s capital and across Europe and the Middle East.”

Barbara Casey, President

Barbara Casey Literary Agency


This giveaway is provided by and the responsibility of the author and Goddess Fish Promotions.

Hawk will be awarding a  $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

Comment below for your chance to win, and follow the tour at Goddess Fish Promotions for more chances to comment.




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