A Free Story … Fabulous Feedback!

Finally!

Finally what, you might ask…

The Weko Harbor prequel is finally finished – and ready for new subscribers to my newsletter (<<< just click there). Yup. The story is my gift to you for signing up.

Here’s what one reader had to say about it… (Thanks so much, Kathryn!)

Perfect title to a new series that has so many wonderful stories just starting to unfold. A group of childhood friends reunited when coming together to celebrate the life of their longtime mentor after his passing. Mending fences, renewing friendships, healing hearts and souls. Sharing tears, smiles and opening up for more memories. No one tells a small town story like Ms. James does.

Just wanting to add a couple of things before I post this…

If you enjoy the prequel, you can click here (<<<), or on the title below, for links to the first full-length novel in the story, Loser Wins the Girl. Just so you know, the Amazon links are affiliate links. Learn more about those by clicking here.

And finally, I just want you to know that if you only want to subscribe to my newsletter to get the free story – and then immediately unsubscribe – that’s okay. No hard feelings. I promise. If you don’t like being on a mailing list, I understand. It can be quite overwhelming to keep getting slammed with emails. So, just click that unsubscribe button in one of the emails right after you get the book.

Why? Because the prequel is free for anyone who wants it. The newsletter is for those who want to know more about me, my writing process, my dog, cats, and chickens, updates on writing progress, and new releases. It’s okay to want something to add to your library but not want the rest. 

So whether you sign  up and hang around, or you sign up and unsubscribe, I hope you enjoy getting to know the residents of Weko Harbor. 🙂

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Pure Michigan – It’s Where My Characters Live

Most of them anyway…

One of the perks of being a ‘Michigander’ is that you basically live in a mitten. At least the trolls do. ‘Trolls’ are what the folks in our Upper Peninsula (aka, the U.P.) call anyone residing south of the Mackinac Bridge. Because, of course, trolls live ‘under’ bridges.

Another perk is that when there is no map handy, we can just use our hands. No, they’re not a perfect substitute, but in a pinch, they get the job done (as you will see below). Yes, that’s the outline of my hand. And, for the record, when using your hand as the Michigan map, you have to kind of twist and bend your thumb to get it to sort of look like that part of the mitten – and Saginaw Bay, which is why my thumb looks short and fat.

Now, let’s talk Mackinac. Or Mackinaw?

Looking at the ‘map,’ you’ll find Mackinaw City, but we also have the Mackinac Bridge, Mackinac Island, the Straits of Mackinac, and Fort Michilimackinac –all in northern lower Michigan.

Northern lower Michigan is where you’ll encounter your first trolls, if you started out in the U.P. If you started out somewhere in the south, it’s where you’ll encounter the last trolls before crossing the bridge and meeting the Yoopers.

Yoopers?!

Ya. Not Da Yoopers (of the Second Week of Deer Camp and Rusty Chevrolet fame), but the Yoopers who live and work in the U.P. The ones who dubbed the mitten dwellers trolls.

Anyway… Back to the Mackinac/Mackinaw conundrum.

From what I’ve gathered, everything up there started off as Michilimackinac, thanks to the Anishinabek – or Anishnawbeck, depending on who you ask – Nation. Early Michiganders shortened it to Mackinac, but somewhere along the line, the city came to be called Mackinaw.

If you want to learn more about that, there’s a short, cute video on Facebook titled ‘How Do You Pronounce It? Mackinac or Mackinaw.

Or, to save you time, just pretend all of the names end in ‘aw.’

Now, for a little more information and interesting tidbits:

*Michigan is the birthplace of some pretty famous people: Tim Allen, Jeff Daniels, Taylor Lautner (Team Jacob!), Burt Reynolds, Dean Cain, Alice Cooper, Magic Johnson, and more.

*U.S. 31 weaves its way from a few miles south of Mackinaw City all the way down to Holland, Michigan. My new series takes place in two fictional cities on a seventeen mile stretch of that highway, between Petoskey and Charlevoix. (‘New series’ was one of two affiliate links in this article. The other will be marked by an asterisk. Learn more about affiliate links by clicking here.)

*Weko Harbor and Tulley Falls are fictional cities – to everyone but me. To me, they’re as real as any other city in the United States. Hopefully, you’ll come to feel the same way.

*Petoskey is pronounced puh-tos-key

*Charlevoix is pronounced shar-la-voy

*Cheboygan is pronounced sha-boy-gun (I added this one for those who have read the Royal Sweethearts series (*) and wondered how to say it. Also the fourth installment – Quinn MacMahon’s book – will be out in the not too distant future, and there is at least one scene in that city)

*Battle Creek is the home of Kellogg’s Cereals, Tony the Tiger, and Frosted Flakes, which are, according to Tony, Grrreeeeaaat!

We even have our own song about Michigan cities – and I’ve loved it since the first time I heard it.

*Except for Reluctant Guardian and part of the Royal Sweetheart series, I’ve never felt the need to leave Michigan when it comes to my stories. We have it all – huge lakes that seem very ocean-like from our beautiful, sandy beaches. We have a few mountains, waterfalls, sand dunes, forests, and even tropical (SO humid!) weather in the summer. You can snow ski and surf here. Yes, people can and do surf on our Great Lakes. Check that out by clicking here.

*Hell actually does freeze over in Michigan. It’s located between Lansing and Detroit. It’s also only an hour from Maybee.

When my kids were in grade school, I always thought it would be fun to travel around the state, so when they went back to class at the end of summer, they could say they’d visited, Brooklyn, Holland, Bangor, Washington, Newark, Billings, Frankfort, Sandusky, Christmas, and Paradise … which are all cities in the great state in which I live.

And this concludes today’s lesson on Michigan. 🙂

***Just so you know, I will probably be putting this in the front matter of all Weko Harbor books – and any others set in Michigan. Some people start in the middle of the series, or don’t ever see my website, and some of this information could come in handy.

 

 

Posted in #romance, affiliate link(s), Love, New Book, Royal Sweethearts Romance Series, Weko Harbor Series, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Color Me Surprised! (and FREE Books!)

One of my goals this quarter is to put my nose back to the grindstone – for both writing, editing, and …. yuck! … marketing. In a word, I stink at marketing, so I’m trying to learn more about it, and gather a lot of information that may, or may not, help.

Today, I found myself on the Goodreads website. I’ve never done much over there because there just aren’t enough hours in the day to live my life, get any work done, and try to do all manner of social media. However, I wanted to check my ratings there. I don’t do it often because readers at Goodreads are notoriously rough on writers when it comes to rating books.

And while the following authors obviously have many more readers than I do (and therefore, more reviews), I was really surprised to see where they ranked on Goodreads.

Nora Roberts – 4.24
Richard Paul Evans – 4.17
Jane Austen – 4.14
Nicholas Sparks – 4.09
J.K. Rowling – 4.06
Stephen King – 4.05
Debbie Macomber – 4.0
Dickens – 3.9
Mark Twain – 3.87
Hemingway – 3.79

All of these authors are/were considered to be very good at what they do – writing books. And yet, on Goodreads, none of them have hit the coveted 5.0 average rating. It gives authors like me hope though.

Why?

Because my average at Goodreads is 4.01. Thanks to the 4,419 readers who took the time to rate my books, I could slip my name between King’s and Macomber’s. Of course, in the writing world, they are massive boulders and I’m just a teensy, tiny little pebble, but that’s okay. It’s close enough for now.

In the meantime, the task that sidetracked me was advertising my ‘Free Starter Library.’ <<< Click that blue link (or the covers below) to find out how to get your free digital copies. And full disclosure, the links for Amazon are affiliate links. Learn more about those here.

And now, because a spring cold has left me feeling a bit wimpy this week, I need some motivation – in the form of one of my favorite, probably over-shared videos. But, maybe you need some inspiration too.

 

Posted in affiliate link(s), free books, Love, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Blast From the Past

While looking for something in previous blog posts, I came across one from December 6, 2012. I’m not sure why I forgot about it, because it was totally cool. But after nearly eleven years and 798 (this will be 799!) blog posts, I lose track of everything I’ve done through the years. Technically, it’s not actually a ‘post,’ it’s a link to an interview on Diane Capri’s website. Yup. She interviewed me.

If you haven’t heard of Diane, she is a friend of Lee Child and writes a companion series to his Jack Reacher series – The Hunt for Jack Reacher.

“#1 New York Times bestselling author, Lee Child (author of the Jack Reacher series), says of Diane’s books, “Full of thrills and tension – but smart and human, too.””

So while you’re checking out the interview (click here to read it), you might want to have a look at her books. 🙂

Just to be clear, this is the movie based on the novel by Lee Child. But in case you didn’t know who Jack Reacher is by now, this is the guy they’re both writing about.  🙂

Posted in Love | 2 Comments

The Weko Harbor Gazette, Edition 4

I’m having so much fun working on Quinn’s book! I never suspected, when I wrote A Prince on the Run, that he would one day be the star of his own book. Of course, I didn’t know that Nolan or Fin would have their own stories either. And yet, here we are. Full disclosure – those are affiliate links. Learn more about those by clicking here.

Did you know you can also get A Prince on the Run and The Physician to the King in audible form – but under their original titles? Yup. Laying Low in Paradise (Cam) and A Cool Summer in Paradise (Nolan). Unfortunately, the narrator for that series wasn’t able to do Fin’s book. Someday, I hope to make that happen though.

The reason I mention this series is because if you haven’t read the first three, you’re probably not going to love Quinn like I do. 🙂

But enough of that! Here’s the latest Weko Gazette installment. 

 

Posted in #romance, affiliate link(s), Audible Books, free books, New Book, Royal Sweethearts Romance Series | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Change of Plans

At one point this month, I thought I’d write about all the ‘anniversaries’ from February 2020. That just smacked of beating a dead horse though. Then I thought, I still need to come up with something interesting, because I can’t just keep doing the monthly Weko Gazette posts.

I’d already accepted that the Christmas book I’d wanted to put out in December, and then January, was going to have to wait until the annual Christmas in July celebration. There wasn’t much I could do to prevent getting hit with two viruses in less than two months and, unfortunately, it took a while to bounce back from them.

Still, I needed to do something – but, I couldn’t think of anything. 

Until tonight.

And so, it’s back to the next book on the list. I’m partway through the final edits/rewrites on Quinn’s story (fourth in the Royal Sweethearts series – this is an affiliate link, learn more about those by clicking here). That means it’s time for another sneak peek. Hope you enjoy it! 🙂

~~~~~

Heart pounding like a jackhammer, Quinn MacMahon could feel beads of sweat breaking out on his upper lip. Willing himself to calm down, he laid on the bed in the dark room trying to focus on slowing his breath from panicked gulps of air to a more relaxed and normal rate. But he couldn’t break free. He could never break free.

“It’s a dream,” a disembodied voice chanted, like its owner was reading a child’s nursery rhyme. But it was his voice too. “It’s just a dream. It’s all in your head. Wake up, wake up before you’re dead!”

But no matter how hard he willed it to happen, the scene continued to play out in a nightmare that had been haunting him for the past five months.

It always started out innocently enough, trying to fool him. Trying to make him think it was all in good fun. Nearly everyone he cared about was there in the courtyard. Prince Cameron and his family. Nolan and Abby. Fin and Princess Briannon. Some of the other guards.

Unseasonably warm temperatures had melted most of the snow, more than a month earlier than usual, and the volleyball net had been set up as soon as the grass dried.

He heard the laughter and good-natured insults as each team gave their best effort to win the game.

Yeah. A perfect spring day. Or it had seemed to be.

Except he knew what was coming. Knew he couldn’t stop it from happening this time, any more than he’d been able to stop it the other times.

Fear set in and he could feel his heart begin to pound harder when the white ball sailed out of bounds and rolled toward the edge of the cliffs.

“It’s just a ball, let it go!”

The voice was frantic now, shouting. But, like a spectator sitting in a theater, he watched himself run after it. Like it mattered. Like they didn’t always bring extra balls because the odds were better than good they’d lose at least one more to the icy Atlantic.

But he was determined to save this one, laughing as he chased it. And then the dog appeared, as if from nowhere, probably thinking it was a game. Whatever the reason, the warnings came too late.

“Quinn! Look out!”

“Quinn, stop!”

“Quinn, no!

One step too far to the right to avoid crushing the little ankle biter and the ground gave way beneath his foot.

In that instant, he accepted the fact that he was going to die. Not protecting his king. Not protecting the king’s family. Those would have been noble reasons to give his life. But no. He was going to die because he tried to save a volleyball.

And then he was falling. Somewhere in the mess that was his mind, he remembered that part happening fast. But now, as he tried and failed to escape the clutches of the dream, it took forever.

The sky above him seemed larger than life, a vivid, impossibly brilliant shade of blue. The sun was bright, and perfect cottony clouds looked as though they’d been painted by the hand of the world’s most gifted artist.

He tried to concentrate on those, grateful he didn’t have to watch the jagged rocks below getting closer by the second. Once had been enough. More than enough. Like the impact. At least he always woke before reliving that moment, though he seemed to be getting just a little closer each time.

Being forced to remember the brief moments before he’d lost consciousness would have been too much. He’d never known such pain. He’d never prayed to die before either, but he’d done so that day.

Heart pounding fast now, Quinn could barely catch his breath. Then, mercifully, he woke, his body jerking so hard the bed shook.

Except for the drug induced sleep in the first few days following the accident, and for a time after each surgery thereafter, he’d relived the nightmare so often, he was almost afraid to close his eyes. He never knew what might trigger them, or what he might do to prevent them from happening.

Skin clammy and his body trembling, he commanded himself to calm down, to focus on the waves washing up on the shore outside his window. A soothing, relaxing sound, it should have helped, but it never did.

“It was just a dream,” he muttered, echoing the voice in his head, knowing that it really wasn’t. More like memories he couldn’t get rid of no matter how many ‘happy thoughts’ he tried to think after the sun set each night.

He wished he could forget it. Or that it had never happened in the first place. He wished he was back on Casteloria, doing his job instead of recovering here on Bois Blanc Island, praying he’d walk again. Knowing he never would. At least not like before. Before he was ruined.

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The Weko Harbor Gazette, Edition 3

A lot has been happening around Weko Harbor, as you’ll see below. A lot has been happening here too. Being out and about more during the holidays left me with two colds. After almost three weeks, the second one is finally almost gone – and I’m feeling more like a human being again instead of a sloth. 

Now, I’m anxious to finish up work on the Christmas book. It’s definitely going to be released late, but I figure a lot of people are like me. I not only listen to Christmas music year-round, but I read Christmas books too.

If you haven’t yet read the first book in the series, check out this link to find out how you can get your copy, Loser Wins the Girl.

Now, I leave you with the latest issue of the Weko Harbor Gazette.

Posted in #romance, Love, Weko Harbor Series | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Weko Harbor Gazette, Edition 2

Hope everyone’s start to 2022 is all you’ve hoped it would be – and that it gets nothing better from here on out! 🙂

As you can tell from the title of today’s post, it’s time for another peek into what’s happening in Weko Harbor, home of Wesley and Lainey, stars of my newest book, Loser Wins the Girl (that’s an affiliate link – learn more about them by clicking here).

A couple of quick updates first. Obviously, the Christmas book didn’t make an appearance last month. While it will be a little late, I’m still hoping to get it out by the end of this month. Unfortunately, someone shared a virus with me last month and it derailed all of my plans. My Christmas tree didn’t even go up until Christmas Eve. Yikes!

Also, much as I haven’t wanted to tackle this project, I hope to have my newsletter set up this week so that subscribers will be able to get the Weko Harbor prequel – free. While I am sort of tech savvy, I’m not newsletter savvy when it comes to figuring out how do things like this. But, as a southern girlfriend of mine might say, “I’m fixin’ to learn.”

And now for this month’s Gazette.

By the way – and these are affiliate links too, if you haven’t read my Coach’s Boys, Royal Sweethearts, or Depot series’ (The Secret, The Depot, and A Merry Depot Christmas), give them a try. You might just like them! And if you didn’t know, the first book in the Coach’s Boys and Royal Sweethearts series’ are free! 🙂

 

Posted in #romance, affiliate link(s), Coach's Boys Series, Goals, Love, New Book, Newsletter, Romance, Royal Sweethearts Romance Series, The Depot Series, Weko Harbor Series | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Years & New Beginnings

Happy New Year, everyone!

I hope you all enjoyed the holidays, including a safe and happy New Year’s. My favorite part will always be spending time with loved ones I don’t get to see as often as I’d like to. It’s not that I don’t love the decorations, the music, and the special foods, but the people mean so much more to me than anything else. And now that it’s over, part of me is glad that life is settling down again. Another part is sorry though. It’s a long wait until the next get-together.

But it is what it is, and it’s time to figure out what I’d like to accomplish in 2022.

Last year, I tried to set goals for the entire year. This works for a lot of people. They come up with long lists, and they know the odds are against them that they won’t accomplish all of them, but they will accomplish some of them. Unfortunately, that strategy doesn’t work for me. At all. In 2021, I set a list of goals: write/finish/edit/publish nine books, tackle a couple of business related goals that make me want to run away when I think about them, and go through two ‘work at your own pace’ writing courses.

I succeeded at two things on that list.

With that epic failure behind me, I didn’t know what to do for 2022. Then, a couple of days ago, a dear friend encouraged me to basically focus on one thing regarding my health, instead of several. Once that became a habit, add something else.

And that’s fabulous advice. So, instead of focusing on the whole of 2022,  I’m going to try to focus on one quarter at a time. There are three months in each quarter, so three projects seems like it should be doable. Especially these three. I have two books that are basically finished. A little editing, a little rewriting, and they’ll be ready to publish. The other is to start plotting the third book in the Weko Harbor series, and working on the character profiles. By the way, that was an affiliate link. Learn more about those by clicking here.

Okay, there are four goals, but there are only three for writing. Here’s hoping I can meet them all!

Now, I just found a pleasant surprise at Amazon. Three 5-star reviews for my new book, Loser Wins the Girl. You can check them out by clicking here. (that’s the same affiliate link as above)

Okay. One of my goals that isn’t work related, at least not entirely, is to start going to bed earlier. That ship has sailed tonight, but it’s not as late as I’ve been going most nights. I’m not entirely sure that training my brain to write during the day is going to work – because it really prefers to be creative between the hours of eleven p.m. and four to six a.m. – but I’m giving it a good shot.

Now, once again – I hope you have the happiest, most blessed new year ever! I also hope you enjoy this version of Auld Lang Syne – by one of my most favorite musical group ever!

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Just Want to Wish You All…

…the merriest of Christmases, Happy Holidays, and a safe, healthy, and blessed 2022!

Posted in Holidays | Tagged , , | 2 Comments