FEATURE: Belle Blackburn

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I was the little nerdette with a library card in my kindergarten hand, reading the kiddie books and planning what I would write. Come college time accounting seemed a more certain way to bring in a dollar so journalism was a minor. Writing was put on the back burner while dollars were made and kids and parents were raised, however, reading was always on the front burner. Probably my biggest influences would be Susan Howatch, Diana Gabaldon and Margaret Mitchell. A conversation with my husband 20 years earlier about suicide vs. murder percolated in the back of my mind and then announced it wanted to be written. I obeyed and out came The Doctor’s Daughter: Journey to Justice. The history of Nashville during the Civil War is just so interesting and so important at that time but most people won’t sit down with a history book so I sneaked the history and the antebellum law and medicine in with a good story. The story continues with a second book, The Doctor’s Daughter: The Choice.

Excerpt from The Doctor’s Daughter: Journey to Justice 

Curiosity got the best of me.  I just had to know.  “Is it true you cut up dead people for practice?”

He seemed entertained by the question.  “Yes, that’s true.”

I turned toward him.  “Where do you get them?”

“I don’t know.  It’s against the law to dig people up but there is no law against importing bodies from somewhere else.  They arrive at the school in some odd packages.  You never know what you are going to find when a crate or big bag arrives.  So we just don’t ask any questions.”

I shuddered.

“I really enjoy the surgery on live people much more.  I was one of hundreds who got to watch a brain tumor being removed recently.”

I had no idea what the appropriate response to seeing a brain tumor removed would be so I sat silently, watching the familiar buildings go by as we got closer to town.  I spoke this time.  “So why did you go to the bee and why did you invite me tonight?”

“The usual reasons,” he said with a hook on the end, like I was asking a redundant question.

“What usual reasons?”

“The same reason any other man would.  You understand.”

“Actually no, I don’t,” I said sharply, fearing what he was going to say, wondering what horrible things he had presumed of me, perhaps making assumptions due to my notoriety.

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FEATURE: Cassandra Parker

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I love romance in all its multitude of forms. Romance is wistful, poignant, and classic. It makes the heart beat faster; it brings a twinkle to the eyes, a tear drop, and a smile. Romance is love, joy, pain, and loss. It is endearing and lasts throughout time for all eternity.

Excerpt from Harley and Me: Love Means Never Saying Goodbye (Ride With Harley, Book 1)

Prologue

 

Whoever said, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” didn’t know what they were saying. Love means never saying goodbye. Even after all this time, it still holds true for me. You love someone; you never say goodbye. No matter where they are, or what has happened, they are always with you by your side. At least that’s how it was with Harley and me.

When he messed up and hurt my feelings, he was fond of saying, “My purpose is to love you. I guess it slipped my mind. I never said I was good, but I hope you can forgive me.”

I invariably did forgive him. I never could stay mad at him for very long. Even when I was upset, Harley found a way to make me smile or laugh. He brought such joy into my life. He could be a devil, but he was my devil.

His other favorite line was, “If you share my bed, you must share my name.” And he meant it. Boy, did he mean it! But it didn’t mean he had never made love only that it was worth waiting for when you finally found that special person.

He also said, “There’s more to love than the physical act of making it. If you love someone, you are in it for the long haul. You stay with that person through broken dreams, heartache, love, and everything that goes with a long term relationship. Not even death can separate you because with real love two people become one person.”

The mid-1970’s in Ohio were a memorable time. The state was still overcoming the aftermath of the Kent State Massacre over five years earlier. Gasoline rationing was in effect. Social Security funding was set to dry up.

Bands such as America, Elton John, Captain & Tennille, Linda Ronstadt, Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds, Neil Sedaka, Jigsaw, Ozark Mountain Daredevils and KC & The Sunshine Band were all on Billboard’s top hits chart. Harley’s favorite band, Steppenwolf, had just released ‘Hour of the Wolf’ in July. Two tracks on that album rapidly became Harley’s all-time favorite songs, ‘Another’s Lifetime’ and ‘Just for Tonight’ along with the classic biker anthem ‘Born to be Wild’ on an earlier album.

The first time I laid eyes on Harley, it in was September on the Commons at Ohio State University-Lima. It was a warm day for Ohio, with temperatures somewhere in the seventies. The noon sun beat down upon the grounds. Clusters of students sat on the grass around the Commons. Some were reading, others talking, and a guy was playing his guitar. He was playing ‘Sister Golden Hair’ by America.

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FEATURE: TaM D’Lyte

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When I was seven, I was bored. That happened a lot when I was a kid since I’m an only child! 🙂 I whined to my dad, “I’m bored!” His response, with a magnanimous wave of a hand, “There’s a bookcase. Go get a book.” So, I grabbed the biggest, brightest book there (a college biology book) and began from the beginning. It took a long time, a looong time to finish that book. Never one to do anything by halves, I wanted to be an actress, a vet and an astronaut–simultaneously, of course–but decided to be a horse trainer instead. (Really? A horse trainer? Yes, what of it?) No, I’m not a horse whisperer. A horse doesn’t care what you whisper at it. A horse wants apples, carrots and cookies. Especially cookies. Just like people. 😉 I’m also not a cowgirl (cows scare me!) and I don’t race my horses. Sigh . . . I’ve heard it all a million times! LOL Anyways, my mom was a reader, books tucked everywhere around my childhood home, and my dad was a writer, little half-finished stories under the coffee table and between the cushions. I’ve acquired both habits on a grander scale (remember, nothing by halves? LOL) and have boxes of books above your head filling up a whole room and my computer hard drive filled up with bits and bytes of half-finished stories. It’s a disease, I kid you not!

Excerpt from Bittersweet: Sanctuary (The Bittersweet Series, Book 1)

PROLOGUE

(5 Years Ago…)

Hurry, hurry, hurry…

“Come on, honey. We have to go.” Dread curled low in her gut, the urgent words a catalyst for fearsome change. “Right now.”

When she pulled the covers back from the sleeping child, the ten-year-old’s eyes had snapped wide and the girl took a startled breath. No other sound escaped her small frame. She understood the girl’s fear. Their shared anxieties, more often than not, justified with grim result in the dark of night.

As the child nodded her assent, it struck her odd how they both woke from their enforced dormancy of slumber. Holding out to the last possible moment, sleep more a time of vulnerability than of rest and recovery, they both woke fully aware, senses edged like those of a wild animal threatened by some unknown danger. Survival of the fittest. The fastest.

The fucking scaredest…

The thin child clung to her waist a moment but with the speed of rising tension, shrugged into the clothes thrust upon her.

She whispered directions and helped the waif-like child stuff money into her pockets, the waistband of her tucked in shirt, and down the jacket sleeves. Settling the backpack full of more money and clothes on the girl’s narrow shoulders, she checked the straps for maneuverability and fit.

The girl would be the mule. The one carrying all their worldly possessions. She herself would be the defense. Light for speed. Only weapons and deadly intent.

The girl’s slight form turned to face her and she briefly considered the child’s quietness. The lack of questions about motives or plans. No need-to-knows…no what-abouts…just the willingness to submit. To obey. Certainly, not a typical kid.

‘Course, this isn’t a typical life we lead. Or flee.

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FEATURE: Amber Laura

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Amber Laura lives in the beautiful, wild country of northern Minnesota—tall pines and birch bark, hiking trails, lakes, and fresh air. But that’s only a technicality; in her imagination, Amber Laura has lived all over the world. She considers it one of the best perks to being a writer: easy, cheap travel. Well, that and the oddball characters she meets along the way….

Excerpt from Topaz and Lace 

Moving gingerly into her living room, Cassie sat down on her lumpy couch. Kicking her feet onto the scratched coffee table, she let her head drop back against the cushions. Closing her eyes, she tried to look at the situation objectively.

Instead, all she could see were Brannt’s wide, thin lips catching against her own; feel his warm breath as it melted inside her mouth; remember his rough hand as it massaged the back of her neck, bringing her head closer…closer.

A key turned in her lock outside.

Eye’s springing open, Cassie had just enough time to gain her feet before her front door was unceremoniously thrust open, with a thunderous Brannt standing over its threshold.

“What are you…? How did you…?” Cassie sputtered, her terrified eyes unable to look away from his dark, angry stare.

Brannt dangled a pair of keys in one angry hand. “I grabbed the spare copy from downstairs.”

“But those—” Cassie shook her head confusedly. “How did you get them?”

“I asked BJ for them,” Brannt answered her easily enough. “She was only too happy to oblige.”

“Those aren’t for public use,” Cassie moaned, but she wasn’t talking to Brannt. She was going to kill BJ. While she made one hell of a receptionist, she was clearly a terrible apartment manager.

Brannt smiled. It was cold, filled with mockery. “Which is why I told her you’d accidentally locked yourself out.” His smile widened. “Then she was only too willing to hand ‘em over.”

“Ah, and you were what, the Good Samaritan in this ruse?” Cassie batted her eyelashes sarcastically.

“Something like that.”

“You’re a real jackass, you know that.”

“Yeah? And you’re a little coward,” Brannt returned just as quickly.

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FEATURE: Julia Bell

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I live in West Yorkshire, although I’ve also lived in various parts of England. I have two children and five grandchildren. My various jobs have included working as a qualified nurse and I have also worked as a civil servant in the Prison Service. When my children were young I successfully completed an Open University B.A. degree studying psychology and sociology. I was a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association for four years and I’m now a member of ALLi (the Alliance of Independent Authors). As well as writing I love country walks and travelling abroad (I adore bus stations, railway stations, airports and ferry ports – any place where people are on the move).

Excerpt from Songbird (The Songbird Story, Book 1)

I wandered slowly round the paintings and portraits, studying each one.  And then I came to a huge canvas and my heart nearly leapt out of my chest.  It depicted the scene at a pit-head after a disaster, when a rescue was in progress.  I glanced round the gallery and saw that two rows of chairs had been placed back-to-back in the middle of the room and I made myself comfortable.  I scrutinised the painting.  It was a bleak portrayal but so accurate.  I could see the grime of the area, the large wheel, the wheelhouse and the buildings associated with a mine.  A large group of figures surrounded the pit-head, the faces of the women pensive and strained, one girl clinging onto another, her hand over her mouth in horror.  The men looked determined as they stood outside the lift, waiting to enter and be taken down to see what they could do.  Their Davy lamps seemed to be the only bright part of the painting, small pinpoints of light in an otherwise dark and gloomy canvas.

“Which painting do you prefer, then?”  His voice from behind me made me start.

I turned my head and gasped with surprise.  “What are you doing here?”

He shrugged.  “It’s a public building.”

“Have you been following me?”

“I saw you running into the gallery and decided I would like to get out of the rain too.”

“I don’t think we should be talking.  Aren’t you worried about your reputation.”

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FEATURE: DJ Hunnam

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First introduced to the genre by her grandmother, DJ Hunnam is an author with a true love for great romance novels. After reading hundreds of them over the last twenty years, she finally decided to put pen to paper and craft her own HEAs. She loves to write about strong heroines who fall in love with super sexy heroes, while tackling real-world problems. Her books are packed with sizzling scenes sure to make you blush.

A scientist by day and author by night, DJ Hunnam straddles the fence between the mundane and the erotic on a daily basis. When she isn’t writing, you might find her curled up with a book, chasing her two wild sons, or pursuing her own HEA with her husband of ten years. She’s a sucker for dark chocolate, a good bottle of Malbec, and a sexy six-pack.

Excerpt from Faking it with Damian (A Clean Slate Novel, Book 1)

I slipped into the hallway and headed straight for Damian’s office. His door was shut, but I barged in, slamming the door behind me. With his Bluetooth headset in, he glanced up and smiled until he saw my glower.

“What did you do?” I hissed.

“Hey, I’m going to have to call you back,” Damian said to the person on the other end.

I paced back and forth as he said his goodbyes. The musky scent of his cologne permeated my senses and my body hummed in spite of my anger. He’d cut his hair since the last time I’d seen him and faint tan lines highlighted his cheekbones, I assumed from skiing. The man was sexy as hell and being enclosed with him was bringing back all of the things we’d done the last time we were in a room together.

“Hello, sweetheart. Long time no see,” he said as he leaned back in his chair and regarded me with a wry grin. His eyes trailed down my body.

“Don’t ‘sweetheart’ me.”

“Is that any way to greet your man after four long days apart?”

“What the hell is going on? Cindy just blindsided me in the bathroom.”

“Word sure does travel fast around here. I apologize you had to hear the happy news from someone else, but maybe if you hadn’t hidden in your office all day or if you’d bothered to answer any of my calls, I would have been able to fill you in.”

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