Thursday, July 20

My Epic Love

 A lot of movie viewers get excited for a new Star Wars or Star Trek movie, I get excited for a new Planet of the Apes story. 

The original movie premiered in 1968. We were in Iceland then, and didn't see it that I remember. I think I finally saw it when it premiered on TV in the seventies after we'd moved back stateside.

One of our local channels, KPTV 12, used to have Planet of the Apes marathons and we'd be glued to the TV. I think that may have been the only Sci-fi my parents actually watched.

In the summer, we'd play Planet of the Apes in the cherry trees and in the rafters of the houses being built in the dirt hills--what we called the development that replaced a filbert grove behind us. 

When Tim Burton rebooted the series with Mark Wahlberg, I was excited to see it come back. And every incarnation since--even though on the surface, unrelated to Tim Burton's imagining--I have loved.

Tuesday night, I saw the most recent one--War for the Planet of the Apes. And it was epic. 

It had subtle nods to the original stories and finally explained how humans became mute and the apes rose to power. Andy Serkis is amazing--again--as Caesar. When isn't he amazing? Steve Zahn as Bad Ape is wonderful.

I've often considered what is epic story building. And I think it's when you can imagine more stories from the original story--like Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter... and Planet of the Apes. I know there are a myriad of epics out there that I'm not mentioning and I'm sorry about the exclusion.

When it comes to the battle between Stars, I've always leaned more toward being a Trekker. The stories are endless and more universal. I've watched most of the series faithfully--except Enterprise, I never got into that one. And I think of stories that haven't been told yet, like why haven't they ever done a Starfleet Academy series??? Lost opportunity right there.

And Harry Potter? I adore the magical world created by J.K.Rowling. My daughters and I went to midnight book and movies releases. I was younger then. Now, I'd probably say, "We'll see it tomorrow."

But, in the end, my heart belongs to the Apes. And well, the Tenctonese from Alien Nation, but that's another blog.

Wednesday, July 19

#CoverReveal: Falling for You Anthology

Hey, WordWrangler Readers! I'm super-excited today because we're doing a cover reveal for a fab anthology that I'm lucky to be part of! It's called Falling for You, and it will be out this fall from a group of Harlequin Superromance authors. The best part? These novellas will be part of our on-going series - so for me, that means you get another Slippery Rock book!

My book in the set is called Outsider in a Small Town and features Aiden (Adam's twin, who has been gone from Slippery Rock for a long time) and newcomer Julia Colson, who runs a wedding/clothing boutique.

This is the cover - don't you just love it? I want to know what they're laughing about ... and the colors of the leaves - it's just perfectly fall, don't you think? The anthology is available for pre-order now, and will go on sale October 17, 2017.

Here's a bit more about the anthology:

This autumn, warm your heart with ten fall-themed novellas from some of your favorite USA Today bestselling, national bestselling, and award winning Harlequin Superromance authors.

Foreword by Brenda Novak.

When the weather cools down, hearts heat up…

Bonfires aren't the only things warming up the night. Across the land, hearts are falling along with the leaves. Curl up with a pumpkin spice latte and warm your heart with ten tales of autumn love.

It Was You by Tara Taylor Quinn:
He has no problem respecting the fact that she is off limits…until the one night he does.

The Right Man by Heatherly Bell:
When one long planned dream day veers wildly off-course, she must decide between the perfect wedding or the right man.

Her Hometown Cowboy by Claire McEwen:
Falling for him wasn’t part of her plan.

Meet Me in the Middle by Jo McNally:
She’s used to playing it safe, but when her old crush comes cruising back into town, she might have to risk it all.

Outsider in a Small Town by Kristina Knight:
She may hold the keys to his heart…and his future.

If I Fall by Kris Fletcher:
What goes up must fall…in love.

Finding Harmony by Janet Lee Nye:
Jericho was the last place she wanted to be, but it was becoming the best place for her.

Perfect Fit by Angel Smits:
She never forgot her first love…and though he never measured up, neither did he.

Home to You by Dana Nussio:
Can a woman who ran from home and a man who never had it ever hope to discover that home really is a place for hearts?

Can’t Help Falling in Love by Lisa Dyson:
She’s career-oriented. and he’s the one who just broke her boss’s heart.

Tuesday, July 18

Welcome Author Robena Grant

Our guest today is Robena Grant, author of several contemporary romance novels, including The English Village Series, stories that take place in a little English village called Oldcastle. The first book, One Safe Place, released in December of 2016, and One Truth Revealed, Book 2 in the series just released on July 14. Robena is Australian by birth but resides in Southern California. She has two adult children, enjoys reading, swimming, friends, simple dinners, a glass of wine, a board game, and man, I love this! Karaoke! Travel has always been her greatest love. France, Australia, Italy, England, and Scotland have featured in her stories. She often chooses a setting that has captured her senses through travel.

I’m so excited to have Robena here today to answer a few questions about Oldcastle and The English Village series. 

Hi Roben, welcome to the round pen! Right off, I loved ONE SAFE PLACE and I just got ONE TRUTH REVEALED on my Kindle on Friday, so I’m anxious to dive into it. Professor Drew Compton sounds like my favorite kind of rumpled academic-type hero. I love that you’ve got a little bit of a cozy mystery vibe going with this series.

Thank you, Nan. And thanks for hosting me today. I enjoyed writing Drew, and knew he deserved a romance, so made him the hero in Book #2.

I know you love to travel. Is Oldcastle based on a real place in England that you’ve visited?

No, it is fictional. However, it came from an oil painting I inherited from my mother-in-law, and it was a scene in the village of Eardisland, on River Arrow. Not wanting to bring bad karma to that village 😊 I made mine Oldcastle but pretty much stole the setting.

What other kind of research did you have to do for this series?

I lived and breathed England for over a year. I did many Google searches, read village church newsletters, spoke with English friends, visited Ye Olde Kings Head pub and restaurant in Santa Monica, and watched every TV show on PBS that I could find.

Your character’s names are all sorta British sounding, even American Naomi in ONE SAFE PLACE has a name that sounds English. How do you pick the names for your characters or do they come to you already named?

Naomi came from a FB post where I quizzed friends. I’d selected the last name from my mother-in-law’s family. Nia Fishchler came up with Naomi. Having known many Brits, Scots, and Irish people in Australia, I used a lot of those names.

Even though your books are marketed by your publisher as contemporary romance, most of them have a little suspense or mystery in them—is that what you read mostly?
I love contemporary romance, and women’s fiction. Add a touch of mystery, and I’m sold.
I know you’re trained as a nurse. Has that or any other jobs you’ve had in the past influenced your writing? 

Sometimes. I often draw on past medical knowledge, but always have to double-check because of newer medicines and techniques.

What’s the last book you read that kept you up enthralled until you finished it?

Definitely Mary Alice Monroe’s The Beach House. I read it last week and still think about it. A wonderful and difficult mother/daughter relationship, a newfound love, and wonder of wonders, sea turtles. The South Carolina island was a fantastic setting and made me want to visit.

Oh, I just ordered that one! Can’t wait to read it! I know we’re going to see a book 3 in the English Village series—is that it or do you have more Oldcastle stories in the works? If not, what is coming along?

Yes, One Unforgettable Friday will release, I think, in Spring 2018. It features Lizzie York as the heroine, she’s the younger sister of Oliver, the hero in One Safe Place, and she is wheelchair bound. I loved writing her story. I think that will be the last, and I’m already toying with a series set in Australia.

Fun! Now, for the trickiest question I always like to ask: Tell me the question you wish someone would ask about your writing, but nobody ever has? Answer it. 

How old were you when you first got published? I’d proudly answer sixty-five, the same year I applied for Medicare. You’re definitely never too old for this gig, you just slow down some.  😉

Thanks so much for stopping in for an interview, Roben—we’re so glad you came by and hope you’ll be back soon! 

Thank you, Nan, I truly appreciate this, and I wish you every success with your new soon-to-be released book, SAVING SARAH.

Kids, all of Roben’s books are available in print and eBook:

and B&N, KOBO, GooglePlay and iBooks. 

Robena may be reached at or follow her on FB, Twitter, or Instagram


At thirty-five-years of age, and with pressure from her adoptive mother, Lina Bright is ten days away from undergoing Artificial Insemination in London. She doesn’t need a husband. She travels to Oldcastle to meet her biological mother, a spinster who runs a village teashop. To keep her mother’s secret, but determine her father’s identity, she creates the cover of scouting for property to start a new school.
A bachelor at forty, Drew Compton is an English Professor in Oxford. Diagnosed with “poor swimmers” his fiancée left him. He plans to live out his life alone, with his books. Disliking his mother’s secrets and controlling ways, he seldom returns to Oldcastle. But a chance meeting has him intrigued. Who is this chic Londoner?
As Lina’s plans for a school become a reality, romance blossoms, but roadblocks ensue. Will Lina and Drew trust in each other to overcome the difficulties and create a future together?

Heat. She craved his heat. Her arms encircled the back of his neck, pulled his face tighter,
closer, her lips tingled and begged to be crushed harder.
“Lina,” he whispered, his breath fanning her cheek. Then he took her mouth possessively.
She almost couldn’t remain standing. “Again,” she murmured. The headiness of his kisses, the heat swirling in her belly, the weakness in her knees, had her pressing even closer. Their tongues met, tangled in a mating dance she’d rarely experienced. Everything about this man spelled permanence. The girls below shouted, “Keep him, we want him.” Dazed, she pulled away, took in a deep breath, and refocused.
If she didn’t keep her wits about her she’d be dragging Drew into the shelter of the ruins and having her way with him. Could this castle be a magic place? Did it encourage romance, and illicit rendezvous? Rendezvous? Oh, blast it; she couldn’t get involved. There were nine days left until her expected ovulation. She’d chosen her sperm donor. She’d committed to doing this, and had an appointment scheduled with a London clinic. That’s why she had to go back.
Drew rested his forehead against hers. “Everything okay?”

Monday, July 17

About promotion...

Re: last week's contest. Jan Bulawan was the winner, but I have no contact information for her. Jan? If you'll get back to me with your address, I'll send out the prize. Thanks to those who stopped by. We enjoyed reading the beginnings.
Now, for this week. Let's talk about promotional items. I just ordered my new-to-me thing for the year. What do you think?

It's a small tote bag, approximately 8 x 10 x 4 inches. I hesitated to order them because I wasn't sure they'd be something people used when they got them. After Nan and I talked it to death, I went with that size. I hope they work out.

In the past, I've bought lip balms and pens, cards and bookmarks. Magnets have long been a favorite. Like this one. (Had to include some of the grandkid stuff from the front of the fridge, too!)

I have stockings made to go with Christmas stories--which tend to be stocking-related. This year's story is Miracle on Joyful Street. It'll be out in October as part of Heartwarming Holiday Wishes, another visit to Christmas Town, Maine with ten Heartwarming authors.

One year, the lip balms I gave away were made and labeled by a friend who makes lotions, balms, and soaps with goat's milk and other natural ingredients. The balms were wonderful, but they weren't sealed. Although they'd never been opened, I ended up giving them to people who knew me personally because...well, because I wouldn't trust an unsealed lip balm from someone I didn't know. They were both the best giveaway item I ever had and the worst.

The absolute best thing I ever gave away--and Nan will attest to this--was cups and saucers. I drew winners on guest blog posts and sent them out in Priority Mail boxes. I bought them at antiques shops in Florida and, finally, in lots of six from Amazon. I never had so much fun with promotion in my life. The book, Jar of Dreams, sold well and garnered nice reviews. But, the truth is, the promotion was way too expensive.

When I buy pens, I usually aim for two things. One, they must write smoothly, and Two, they must be cheap. I buy a lot of them because, well, the more you buy, the cheaper they are. But last year, I tried something different. I only bought a few--maybe 50--and I bought nice ones that I give by hand in face-to-face meetings. I want to give the correct message that I value and appreciate readers' time. I think I'll do that again, but I'll buy cheaper ones, too, so that I can "work it" both ways.

There are items I remember from other authors. A vintage handkerchief sticks out in my mind enough that I had to track down the author who gave them away nearly 20 years ago. Delia Parr, whose most recent work is a midwife series from Bethany House called At Home in Trinity, says, "The handkerchief was a tie-in for my book, Sunrise. I had visited an antique store asking how to get several hundred. Ironically, the owner had just been to an auction and had a full box of handkerchiefs. They were a mess, stained and dirty. I bought the whole box for $80! Then I spent days and days soaking them clean with Biz, washed and ironed them and packaged them up. Compared to paper bookmarks or other paper handouts, these were a real hit."

When I asked the other Wranglers their likes and dislikes on promotion, Nan Reinhardt said, "Blog tours—I love to write blogs, but it’s hard to be creative every day for a month, plus, I’m hearing they don’t serve all that great a purpose. Anyone else hear that?" I'm right there with Nan on loving to blog, but blog tours are exhausting and...well, I wonder, too, if  they're worth it.

Margie Senechal says, "As a consumer,  I don't like Rafflecopter raffles where I have to "earn" extra entries by following on every social website available. I like one vote(comment), one chance the best." I agree with this one, too, because even though I read a lot of blogs, I'm usually hurrying when I do so--I don't have time for the extra steps.

Kristina Knight got some promotional zip drives, which I think are such a cool thing.  She has new bookmarks, too. Take a look.

I know this isn't the first blog post around that discusses promotional items. We've talked about it 
here in the round corral before, plus it's a subject that makes the rounds on all the authors' loops. It addresses a question I ask myself every time I have new books coming out: What shall I get this time?

What are your favorites--both to give and to get? What's been most successful? What hasn't?

Thanks for coming by. Have a great week!

Saturday, July 15

I'm Having a .99 cent Sale on FLAWLESS!

I'm doing a little shameless self-promotion today (and probably next week, too). My World War Two romantic suspense FLAWLESS is on sale for .99 cents until July 28. Yay! Here's the blurb:
France, 1942.  The world is at war. The Nazis have stolen the infamous blue diamond, Le Coeur Bleu, intending to barter it for weapons that will destroy the Allies. Jewel thief Hunter Smith is given a choice; help the French Resistance steal back the diamond and avenge the death of his best friend, or stay locked up in an English prison. He chooses revenge.
Resistance fighter Madeleine Bertrand’s husband died when he was betrayed by Hunter Smith. How can she now pretend to be married to the arrogant American? How can she betray Jean Philippe’s memory by her passionate response to Hunter’s kisses? Neither is prepared for the maelstrom of attraction that erupts between them. To survive they must uncover the mysteries of the past and conquer the dangers of the present. But first Madeleine must decide if her loyalties lie with her dead husband and the Resistance or with the greatest love of her life.  
Check out an excerpt:

Pentonville Prison, London, April 1942

Down the hall, the heavy iron door creaked open, then closed again with a clang.  Footsteps echoed on the stone floor, growing louder as they approached his prison room.  When the footsteps suddenly stopped, Hunter Smith opened his eyes, surprised.  In the eighteen months he’d been in this God-forsaken place, no one had visited him, not his so-called friends, and certainly not his parents. 

He turned his head.  A neat little man in an impeccable black suit and bowler hat waited patiently for the guard to unlock the barred gate of his cell.

“He shouldn’t give you any trouble, Guvnor,” the guard said as he opened the grate.  “Not like some is in ‘ere.  Quick to steal your purse and slit yer throat for yer trouble, most of ‘em.  But I’ll stay close by, just in case.”

“That won’t be necessary.”  The little man’s voice reflected British public schools and a cultured upbringing.  Hunter hated him immediately.  “Please wait behind the outer door.  I’ll call you when I’m ready.”

“If that’s what you want, Guvnor.” The guard shrugged, relocked Hunter’s cell, and retreated beyond the iron door with a clanking of keys. When the door had banged shut behind him, the little man spoke again.

“I have a proposition for you.”

Hunter sat up, wincing as his feet touched the floor and his back protested in pain. The lumpy, too-short cot caused him no end of aggravation. “Is that so?”

“I want you to steal a diamond for me.”

Hunter couldn’t restrain a burst of mocking laughter. The irony of the little man’s request would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.

“You want me to steal a diamond?”  He rose and swept an arm around to encompass his prison cell.  “I’d love to accommodate you, sir, but I’m afraid I’m a bit indisposed at the moment.”

The little man surveyed the room, wrinkling his nose in distaste as his gaze met the bucket in the corner that served as Hunter’s toilet. “If you agree to my request, I can have you released.”

Hunter’s heart rate tripled, but he kept his face neutral.  He’d do almost anything to get out of this hell hole. Anything but steal another diamond.

 He resumed his prone position on the cot. “I’m sorry you’ve wasted your time in coming here. I’ve turned over a new leaf. Seen the error of my ways.” He flung one arm over his eyes. “Besides, I’m a lousy thief. That’s how I ended up in here. I’m no longer interested in stealing jewels.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

Hunter waited to hear the man call for the guard, waited for the footsteps that would signal he had left the cell, but all remained silent. He lifted his arm and opened his eyes.  The little man stood patiently, waiting. Hunter rose to his feet once more.

“Who the hell are you?”

“Allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Alastair Campbell, and I am the head of the Special Operations Executive.”

“Bully for you.” Hunter had no idea what the Special Operations Executive was, but despite himself he was intrigued.

Campbell read his mind. “The SOE sends operatives to France, where they make contact with the French Resistance. We supply the Resistance with arms and two-way radios. The information they’ve supplied us on the movements of the Nazis in occupied France has been invaluable.”

“Perhaps if I were British I might be interested in joining your little band of merry men. But I’m not British, and I’m not interested.”

Arms folded, Hunter stared down at Campbell. His best efforts to intimidate the much smaller man were having little effect. Campbell smiled indulgently, like a kindly head-master at a stubborn and not very bright student.

“I’m well aware of your American citizenship. I’m also aware that you’ve spent a good portion of your life living in France and that you speak perfect French.”

That he’d lived in France wasn’t exactly a secret, but the idea that someone had gone to the trouble to find out unsettled Hunter. What else did this little man know about him?

 “Dropping into occupied France to have tea with the Resistance doesn’t exactly sound like a good career move. I hear the Nazis don’t take kindly to spies. I’m afraid I’ll have to decline your lovely offer.” Again Hunter lay on his cot and closed his eyes, waiting for Campbell to leave.

“Not even for Le Coeur Bleu?”

Hunter’s eyes snapped open, his blood pounding in his ears. “What do you know about The Blue Heart?”

“Only that it is one of the most famous and rare diamonds in the world, over 30 carats, and said to be flawless.”

Hunter rose from his cot and paced his small cell, heart racing. “Ah, finally something you don’t know.  Le Coeur Bleu has a small flaw, an inclusion visible only with a jeweler’s loupe.”

Campbell inclined his head. “My mistake. I bow to your superior knowledge of the stone.”

He met Campbell’s calm stare. He doubted this man ever made mistakes. “What else do you know about the diamond?”

“I know the diamond is reputed to have magical powers. Some even say it is cursed.”

“You don’t really believe in magical powers, do you?” Hunter scoffed.

Campbell lifted one shoulder in a delicate shrug. “Perhaps, perhaps not. Do you think your friend Jean Philippe Bertrand believed in magic?”

All the air rushed out of Hunter’s lungs. “What do you know about Jean Philippe?”

“That he came into possession of Le Coeur Bleu and was murdered for it by the Nazis.”

I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. The book is on sale for .99 cents until July 28 at the following retailers:

The Wild Rose Press | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | B & N | Bookstrand | Google Play iBooks

Have a wonderful weekend!