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Wednesday, January 20

Love on the Line with Kari Lemor #WordWranglers

The Wranglers welcome author Kari Lemor today, bringing us a spotlight of her newest book, Wild Card Undercover.

Some gambles are worth the risk . . .

Trapped in the nightmare of Miami’s illicit underworld, Meg O’Hara has no choice but work for a high-stakes criminal to repay a debt. Freedom is a pipe dream, until FBI agent Christopher Shaunessy offers her a way out. It won’t be easy, especially playing the role of lover to the charismatic agent. Getting the goods on her boss could mean her life, a risk she’ll take to be rid of the rat’s vulgar advances.

Chris Shaunessy doesn’t break rules, but working with Meg is pushing even his well-honed control to the limit. Personal involvement should never mix in the sordid world of organized crime. They’re playing a perilous game. Giving into temptation could be his biggest mistake because the kisses they share might be more dangerous than the case…


 She finished chewing the piece of cantaloupe she’d been devouring and said, “Juice would be great. Thanks. I didn’t mean to sleep so late, but the bed was amazingly comfortable. I don’t think you’re ever going to be able to get me out of here now.”

He poured juice into a glass and sat opposite her. “Glad you enjoyed it. Not everyone sleeps well in a new bed. Obviously, it didn’t affect you.”

She looked up, sheepish, taking a big bite of the cinnamon muffin in her hand. “I’m so tired after work, I could probably sleep on the side of the road.”

“I wouldn’t suggest trying that around here. You’re more than welcome to keep using the bed.”

As she grabbed a juicy, red strawberry, she rolled her eyes. When was the last time she’d eaten? He’d have to make sure to get some good food in here for her. She needed to be full strength. Hopefully, she liked home cooking, since room service hadn’t been part of the deal with the hotel.

He was sure she was a strong one, considering what she’d been through the last year or so. She’d have to be to continue day after day on her feet, then go home to that shithole of a room. Her determination in keeping her family safe was admirable.

“So, what are the plans for today?” she asked as she shoved the rest of the muffin into her mouth.

He faked a pensive look. “Well, I was thinking I’d hang out by the pool and work on my tan.”

He laughed at her exasperated glare. “It’s all part of the undercover assignment, sweetie. You can’t go running around sticking your nose in people’s business. You have to ease yourself in, slowly, so they don’t suspect anything.”

“Sweetie?” Her eyebrow raised, her tone derisive.

He threw her a crooked smile. “All part of the undercover assignment, sweetie.”

She groaned. “Do I have to call you some stupid, sappy nickname, too?”

“Only if you want to. You could make it something to show what you think of me. You know, like Stud, Hotcakes, or how about Big Daddy?”

She looked like she didn’t know whether to laugh or throw up at his suggestions.

“I know.” Her eyes gleamed. “How about Cuddlebunny?”

Was she serious? “Nah, Chris is fine.”

“Chris Martin, though, right? Shaunessy is your real name?”

“It’s actually Christopher Martin Shaunessy. It’s easier to keep things simple when undercover if you can.”

“I picked Katie for a similar reason. One of my brothers calls me Maggie Kate, and I figured I would respond to it. Harrington, O’Hara, close enough. It’s worked for me so far.”

“It’ll continue to work, until we can put Moreno behind bars.”


**Read the first chapters on many of these sites**

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Tuesday, January 19

Into the Mouth of the Cave - By Janie DeVos



     The mountains of Western North Carolina, which include the Great Smokies, and the Blue Ridge, are, according to geologists, some of the oldest on Earth, and, at one time, loomed higher than Mt. Everest does today.  But, millions of years worth of erosion have worn them down, leaving them mere shadows of what they once were.  These ancient, mist-shrouded mountains contain many secrets and mysteries, some of which we’ll never know about, but, in the late 1800’s, emeralds were discovered in “them thar hills”, as well as garnets, aquamarine, smoky quartz and beryl.  At one time, these mountains were so rich with gemstones that the famous New York jeweler, Tiffany and Company had ownership in the mines.

 Through the many decades, much money was made from the much sought-after gemstones, but they were not the only valuable commodity to be discovered here.  Others minerals included feldspar, which is used in glass and ceramic production (your toilet bowel, being one such product), as well as quartz, which is used for navigational instruments, mobile phones and more.  The other material found was mica, which is used to make any number of things, including cosmetics and toothpaste, but it also acts as a highly effective heat barrier, which is why NASA used mica in the Apollo missions.  Because of the abundance of the broad assortment of minerals found here, our town of Spruce Pine took on the moniker of “The Mineral City.”  

Many a plate of beans were put on people’s tables because of the jobs the mines provided.  Hard work though it was, even deadly at times, the miners continued to dig deeper and deeper into the mineral-rich caves until all of the gemstone and mica veins eventually dried up.  As a result, the now-defunct mines have become tourist spots, or have simply been forgotten and left for the Earth to reclaim that which is rightfully hers. 

The caves are only a fifteen minute drive from me, and each time I pass by, I slow down and marvel at the sight of them looking like large gaping mouths, open in silent protest that they’ve been stripped of all their hidden riches and then abandoned like a discarded plaything.  Getting a glance inside at the cave’s inky darkness, I can’t help but wonder what the first prospectors must have thought when they drove their pickaxes into the virgin soil and began to uncover the riches within.  Such was the case today as I drove by them once again and slowed down to take in their eerie but awe-inspiring presence.  Only this time, I didn’t just think about the past that is connected to them, I thought about the future that is connected to us in the new year ahead.  

Walking into one of the first unexplored caves, thinly lit by lamplight, looking for rare and wondrous treasures, must have created great excitement but it also must have put one’s nerves on edge simply by not knowing what might be waiting ahead, much like they way we feel when starting a new year.  As we hang up a new wall calendar (for those of us who still use them), we see many little empty squares for each day of each month that will be filled as time marches on.  They will fill up with tiny gemstones of life; someone’s baby shower to attend, or the first day of a new job, or the graduation of a child we’ve watched grow into adulthood, and almost certainly, there will be sad marks on that calendar, too, but, we’ll get through them all; sometimes hating to see them end, or, at times, glad to have them behind us.  Just like striking a pick into the Earth to see what rare and wonderful riches will be found, that’s exactly what we’re doing as we strike out into the new year ahead.  We’ll be searching for those things that make us rich; not necessarily the monetary kind, though those are wonderful, too, but the kind of riches that make us laugh or bring us contentment, the kind that make us feel loved and excite us, or inspire us to keeping trying for that brass ring.  And each and every one of those moments will make us grow, enriching us, in any number of ways.  

Embracing the new year ahead is like walking into the mouth of a dark cave; though we are unable to see what lies ahead, we move into it with a little trepidation, but also courage, determination and faith that we will certainly find those treasures that await us if we only try.  And when a vein or two runs dry, which, inevitably, they will, we’ll simply continue to lift our pickaxes optimistically high as human nature propels us forward, anxiously anticipating that the next vein will indeed be rich with life’s beautiful little treasures.



Sunday, January 17

THE GIRL MOST LIKELY #onsale! by Jana Richards

 My contemporary romance, THE GIRL MOST LIKELY, is on sale for .99 cents until January 22. Pick up your e-copy of this May/December romance with a twist!

Cara McLeod, the girl most likely to have the perfect marriage, is now divorced and, in her own words, “fat, frumpy, and over forty.” The thought of facing former classmates—and the ex-husband who dumped her—at her high school reunion terrifies her. Cajoled into attending by her kids and her best friend, Cara enlists help at the gym to lose weight and look great for the reunion. Personal Trainer Finn Cooper is more than willing to help—but does he have to be so to-die-for gorgeous?

Finn thinks Cara is perfect just the way she is. She’s everything he wants in a woman, except for one thing—she can’t get past the fact that he's eight years younger. To Finn, age and weight are just numbers. But can he convince Cara the numbers she worries about add up to only one thing for him—love?


“I think you’re beautiful. You know that, don’t you?”

No, she really didn’t know that, but she nodded anyway. What happened when he woke up one morning and realized that she had a few more lines on her face? Would he still think she was beautiful or would he tire of her, just as Peter had? 

“Are you sorry about last night?” 

Her head rose sharply. He looked away, not meeting her gaze. However mixed up she felt this morning, she couldn’t let Finn believe he’d somehow failed her. Setting her mug on the night table on her side of the bed, she caressed his unshaven cheek.

“Of course I’m not sorry. I loved our night together. Don’t mind me, Finn. I’m in a mood this morning.”

He tugged at her sheet once more. “Then let go of the sheet and let me hold you before I have to go.”

Cara held her sheet tighter. It was one thing to get undressed in the dark and another to let him see her body in the cruel light of day. “No, please. I’d rather not.”

Would he look at her in the cold morning light and see all her imperfections, her scars, her forty-three years of living? Would he look at her and want to trade her in for a newer model?

Buys Links:

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Tuesday, January 12

A Place to Go...

I've lived and visited a lot of places in my life. I grew up in Missouri and can tell you about minute differences you'll find from the Boot Heel to the Rural Centers and the Cities. I've lived in Nebraska and Ohio and can probably answer a lot of trivia about both. Have visited Colorado, Florida, Texas and Louisiana. Grand Cayman, Belize, Honduras, Mexico (three times), Jamaica. Every place I've visited has left some kind of imprint on my life, from admiring a Jamaican sunset over the Caribbean to the out-of-breath feeling of being in Denver's lighter air.

But some of the best places I go are seen from my couch or bed or my zero gravity chair on our deck.

Because every time I open a book I take a journey. I might visit somewhere familiar like Missouri or Iowa or could be swept away to the Middle East or even China. Some of my favorite places to go are Nora Roberts' paranormal worlds (from the light-paranormal of her Key trilogy to the full on vampires in the Circle Trilogy). I don't think I'll ever tire of Jill Shalvis' beach-themed small towns. Nan's River Walk is a newer favorite, and I will never turn down a peek inside Liz's Peacock, TN world. I have fond memories of Janet Evanovich's Jersey from the Stephanie Plum books, even though I haven't read any since, oh, about number nine. 

I guess part of my reader catnip is a setting that becomes very much a character within the book.

We talk a lot about character making the story here at WordWranglers (funny how we all think alike!), and I truly think character can make or break a story. But I also live for those moments, as a reader, when an author's voice paints a picture of where the action is happening. I love it when I'm not just reading about a hot, desert wind, but can feel that wind on my face. When the cold of a December snow freezes my toes on a hot summer day in Ohio. Or when the rain over New York City seems like it's just out of the reach of my fingers. Those moments are when I get to visit someplace that I've never seen in my life...but I can still feel like I've been there.

Does reading take you places, too? What's your favorite reading spot?    

Sunday, January 10

A Little Time With Liz


Friends, from time to time, I like to show off a fellow writer’s work, and such is the case with one of the women I blog with on WordWranglers.  Liz Flaherty is a U.S.A Today bestselling author, and all around prolific writer who has a wonderful new book making its debut.  So, without any further adieu, here is an excerpt from Liz’s new book, Window Over the Sink, and, as a special little treat, Liz was kind enough to also include one of her essays.   So, grab a blanket and a cup of something hot, curl up and enjoy. 





Window Over the Sink excerpt:


It’s been nearly ten years since we retired. I’m still in the office Duane and the boys created for me. The seven quilts I promised to make have been completed. A few books. He has new knees and new guitars. We’ve had grief and loss in these years, occasional discontent, times of being alone even when we were together. We’ve also had a blessed amount of fun. Of music and laughter and family. Of the other side of being alone that comes of knowing we never really are.

Much has changed in those nine years and change, and much has stayed the same. At first, it seemed as if this book was a vanity thing. Or a thing for the grandkids to look at and think Okay, Nana, what do you want me to do with this? But in the end, like most other things in life that are worthwhile, it is a labor of love. A gathering of thoughts and dreams and memories.

Thanks for joining me on the journey.


Buy links for Window Over the Sink







                                                  IT’S TODAY

Do you have days you look forward to...more than others, I mean?

My husband, the roommate, sits in wait from the day after Christmas until February first. Because then the longest, darkest month with the shortest, coldest days is over. Theoretically. According to his theory, that is. Because I know, of course, that Punxsutawney Phil is going to stick his head out the next day and haul it back inside rather than freeze to death in the darkness of his shadow. 

When I was a kid, I looked forward to Valentine’s Day because everybody in the class gave nearly everyone else a valentine. And we got candy. Then I looked forward to Easter because there was often a new dress in it for me, not to mention we wore new white shoes to church instead of the black patent ones that hadn’t survived the ravages of winter all that well. We had ham for Sunday dinner, the grandparents came to visit. And we got candy. 

There were other days of excitement. I loved the Fourth of July, complete with a parade and fireworks and unlimited hot dogs. And candy. The first day of school, complete with new clothes and new books (yes, even then I had a thing for books) was a biggie all the way from the first year to the last. Getting out of school for the summer, when hot days were so new and delicious. Thanksgiving and Christmas were my favorite can’t-waits. 

When the kids were little, especially for a few periods when I had two in diapers, I couldn’t wait until they were housebroken. Until they could talk. Until they went to school. Until the miserable years of junior high had passed. Until they graduated.

I wrote… oh, always. I wanted to write a column so much, couldn’t wait to see my byline wherever it appeared. I wanted to write a book, and couldn’t wait for the box of author copies, the first book-signing (I practiced my signature. Seriously.), and the first check. 

I’m not sure when it all changed. When I stopped saying, “Oh, I can’t wait...” about times, events, things. When my emotional February first became unimportant because all the days before it were so much fun and so full of life going on. It may have been when my firstborn reached six and a half feet and I wasn’t sure how it happened, or when the roommate and I were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary when… hey, wait, aren’t we only 25? 

It may have been while standing in a funeral home at someone’s celebration of life regretting that there’d never been enough time together, enough laughing, enough comparing of life’s notes, and laughing some more. Never enough. 

No, I’m not sure when, but at some point, it all became about the journey. I still love holidays, but getting ready for them is more exciting than the actual days. I love my adult kids and grandkids, but I’m sorry if I wished away even one day of their growing up. I love having a new book, but the anticipation is more fun to me than Release Day, when my stomach hurts and I’m afraid no one will read it. 

I still love writing this column, no matter how many starts and stops it’s had over the years, but while I still look forward to that byline, I don’t spend time thinking about it. There are too many other things to think about. To do. To laugh at. I can wait.


Author, Liz Flaherty




Friday, January 8

Every Kid Gets A Trophy by Liz Flaherty #WordWranglers

Happy 2021! This is my first post of the year. I've spent some time trying to think of something special to start with, something hopeful, something writing-related that would be helpful to people reading it.

The truth is that I don't have it in me today. I have already told Nan in panic-stricken messages that I can't write. The words aren't there. The ideas, always scarce for me anyway, aren't there, either.

I fully imagine my muse and my heart are in Washington, D. C., walking around bewildered, her mind whirling. This isn't my country, she keeps thinking, and back home, on social media, people are assuring her it's not. If she doesn't like the way things are, she should move, regardless of the fact that--yes, really--it's her home as much as it is theirs.

Oh, it's me talking. The muse has come home and handed over.

It is hard, I am learning this week, to write with a broken heart.

I write small town and rural, because it's where I'm from. What I love. Who I am. And in those small towns I write about, people are almost invariably kind. Quirky. They are who they are. They know each other's business, but they don't care. They have the key to their neighbor's house.

What I really write, I guess, is small town before social media. Before 2016. Before my family and I found ourselves referred to as "you people." Before someone told another woman she was "nothing." Before someone posted this on FB: "Biden. Pelosi. and Schumer better understand that american people are almost done talking. They better straighten their shit show up real quick."

The small towns I write, I realize, are the ones where every kid gets a trophy because participation matters. Where everyone is important. Where "love thy neighbor" doesn't depend on race or gender or income or who you voted for. 

And that's what's wrong with me. That's why my voice is silent and sad today. 

I apologize for being political here, but it's been a long four years. This week in itself has been long and sad.

I hope my voice comes back. I hope my heart can find the story in the small town I've named Fallen Soldier. And when it does, when I can write again, every kid will get a trophy and everyone will matter.