Summer Reading

Summer is here! Time for books that make you laugh, cry ( just a little bit), and cheer when the good guys win and lovers get their happily ever after.

Check out The Pride of Galveston Series

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The Garden That Love Planted

We all want someone who loves us this way.

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Out of the Shadow- Vote for Your Favorite Cover

I had fun with the last cover reveal and I think you did to, so lets do it again!

Here is the book blurb:

Fierce- Beautiful- Unreasonable- Bulldog- Sexy- Unapologtic- Irreverent- Compassionate- Successful- Principled- all words used to describe Brett Bentley, all of them true.

Risk is not a word Brett runs from, frankly she likes it.  After her husband and voice of reason dies, there is no one to stop her from building a team of hackers to hunt sex trafficers down and drain their bank accounts.  Now trouble is stalking her.  A case of mistaken identity or has someone discovered her secrets?

Help is a four letter word to Brett.  When help shows up in the perfect form of a former Army Ranger, Brett’s first response is to have her Italian Mastiff clamp down on his family jewels.  If this doesn’t serve as a warning, Alex Jensen only has himself to blame.  Retirement has been a bore, he can’t resist taking a ride on Brett’s drama train. First impressions are deceptive, not only is Brett’s life really on the line, it becomes clear that neither of their hearts will be intact when this ride is over. A South American drug lord has Brett as the object of his rage and desire.  Cornered and alone, Brett must be her own hero.  Lethal is the word she needs now- does she have what it takes?

Now, which cover would you choose?

Cover #1

Cover #2

Leave your vote in the comments!

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Don’t forget, you can find me at Goodreads!

This One Thing That Will Bring Peace to Your Marriage

Grace.

That is the one element that will make your marriage better. Grace will make any relationship you have better- including the relationship you have with yourself.

What is Grace exactly?

grace

Definition of grace

 (Entry 1 of 2)1a: unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification

b: a virtue coming from God

c: a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance

2a: APPROVALFAVOR stayed in his good graces

b archaic MERCYPARDON

c: a special favor PRIVILEGEeach in his place, by right, not grace, shall rule his heritage— Rudyard Kipling

d: disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency

e: a temporary exemption : REPRIEVE

3a: a charming or attractive trait or characteristic Among disagreeable qualities he possessed the saving grace of humor.

b: a pleasing appearance or effect CHARMall the grace of youth— John Buchan

c: ease and suppleness of movement or bearing danced with such grace

grace verb gracedgracing

Definition of grace (Entry 2 of 2)

1: to confer dignity or honor on The king graced him with the rank of a knight.

2: ADORNEMBELLISH graveled walks graced with statues— J. A. Michener

There is a lot to this one word, but I think the part that applies the most to marriage is “disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency“. Frequently, we demand more from those we live with, especially our spouse. We let our anger show, our impatience colors our words, and we keep a long list of flaws and mistakes. But, what would our marriage look like if we responded with grace instead of “justice” or harshness?

I think sometimes, especially for women, we think it is our duty or job to fix everyone around us. The world tells us that we do that by pointing our every flaw and demanding perfection. That isn’t how God does it. He offers GRACE every second of every day. If we are in a new season, he offers grace. If we are struggling, he offers grace. If we are learning a new way of being or doing, he offers grace.

Grace is key to living at peace.

My therapist once asked me what I wanted to remember in January when I thought about the holidays.

Peace- Joy- Reverence-Laughter- Ease

But most of all, in every season of my life, I want peace.

You need grace to have peace. You can’t be at peace with yourself if you don’t extend grace to yourself. You can’t live at peace with others if you don’t extend grace to others. There is a time for calling someone on their sh*&$. But those times are NOT everyday and not in every moment. Plus, if you are constantly busting someone over every flaw and mistake, they are not listening to you. However, if you deal grace like a drug dealer deals meth, people will listen when you come to them out of love and talk with them about a problem or pattern that needs attention.

GRACE should be thrown around like confetti on New Year’s Eve. Give it freely because God has certainly given it freely to you.

I also looked up antonyms for Grace:

Bitterness. Disapproval. Hostility. Unforgiveness.

Wow, sometimes you can learn more by looking at what something is not than what it is.

Jesus is our Prince of Peace. How fitting that His Father is a God of Grace.

Gratin Dauphinois- The Best Potatoes!

Food is essential to romance. Regardless of where the food comes from- a fancy restaurant, a cool dinner, or from home. The old saying “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” has a lot of truth to it. I don’t know many women who are impervious to a man who cooks for her- or at least brings her tacos.

In A Marine for Christmas, Lucas is no different. Dixie blows his mind with Gratin Dauphinois and Beef Carbonnade. What good love story doesn’t have good food? I love cooking, I love growing food, and I love serving that food to those I love. So, my characters do as well. I hope you enjoy the recipe I have included for you!

You could call these scalloped potatoes, but Gratin Dauphinois has so much more flair!  It is hard to go wrong with potatoes, they are a humble food from the earth that need only a little dressing up.  You will be hard pressed to find a menu that can’t be complimented with a potato dish.  With the potatoes cooked in the oven with milk/cream, butter and a little garlic, the simplicity is deceptive.  This taste is subtle but engaging, the texture is smooth, and the experience is wonderful.

This dish complimented the Beef Carbonnade the family greatly enjoyed at our Christmas Dinner.  There was not a bit left after dinner, always a compliment to the cook!  Unless of course there is none left because the cook did a poor job of planning for her guests, but that was not the case- this time.

The humble potato!

Gratin Dauphinois

3 pounds of boiling potatoes– peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick (the food processor works great for this)

1 cup of whole milk – I like to mix 3/4 cup whole milk with 1/4 cup cream- adds to the richness and wonderful texture.

1 clove garlic– pressed and spread on bottom of a buttered flame proof baking dish- I prefer a deep dish 9 inch cast iron skillet

3 tablespoons of butter plus more for greasing the bottom of the dish.

Once you have buttered the cast iron skillet and spread the pressed garlic, place the potatoes in the skillet spreading in layers.

Season the milk with salt and pepper, pour over potatoes.  Add more cream until the milk is 3/4 of the way up.  Place on burner and heat just to a simmer- this is a very important step so that the liquid and potatoes come together in the oven.

Distribute 3 tablespoons of butter (real butter, not margarine) on top of potatoes.

Bake in a 425′ oven for about 25 minutes- until the liquid is absorbed and the potatoes are tender.

Serve and be happy!  That is some flat out good food!  Great food does not have to be complicated to be wonderful.

Release Day! A Marine for Christmas is LIVE!

Today is the day!

You can find the book on Amazon

This is my first fiction book to self-publish and I am excited to see how this goes.

All Dixie ever wanted was a home in the country with a family of her own. That dream was shattered when her husband left the day after he graduated medical school with his new plastic surgeon.

Four years later she is highly successful with her own business, but her heart still longs for what it wanted most.

Lucas Hardwick is ready for a change. On a recommendation from a friend, he finds himself in LaRue, Texas looking for the right property to relocate his security firm. He knows exactly what he is looking for in a property. His heart, however, is looking for something more.

Dixie is stunned when she is attacked on a quiet sidewalk in her sleepy little town. When she meets the eyes of her rescuer, Dixie finds herself looking into the eyes of the first man in four years who tempts her heart to dream again.

Will this Christmas make dreams come true or will the attacks on Dixie’s life succeed?

Galveston Island- A Place of Inspiration

Twenty nine years ago, I started something and didn’t finish it. I hate have something unfinished hanging out there. Because of Tony’s encouragement and a word from God, I went back to school. At this time, I am attending college full-time. College Algebra (read with crossed-eyes) and Art (read with a GREAT BIG SMILE!) are in their last weeks. One of the projects in art was to make a collage. I had so much fun doing this project.

We were instructed to include things that inspire us and explain the meaning behind what we choose. This was so easy for me, all the things that inspire and motivate me are around me everyday. This island holds all my treasures.

The timing of when and how we got to the island is remarkable but no accident. God’s timing is perfect. I had no idea what season we were walking into, but God had a plan. He works all things for our good and answers prayers in ways we never dreamed.

It isn’t a crazy thought that we moved to an island. I am quite sure that my birthstone is actually a seashell, not a sapphire. The water makes me come alive in a way that nothing else in nature does. But yet, it is crazy that we actually packed up and moved. We had lived 23 of our 26 years of marriage in a small town where I grew up. Most of my family still lives in that town. It was a good place to raise children and live. But that season was over.

We were coming out of the most challenging time we had ever faced. Our farm had been destroyed by a massive tornado. We had spent a year cleaning and rebuilding. Every time we were ready to start on the house, God would say just wait. So, we waited. Then, one job opened up for Tony- in Texas City, fifteen minutes from Galveston. Against all odds, this door opened and every other door we needed open, opened. We just kept walking through them.

And here we are, beginning our third year at 1220 Winnie St, Galveston TX. I can walk a half of a mile and have my feet in the saltwater and feel the sand between my feet and the sun on my face. This has been a season of restoration and healing. The trauma of the tornado had left us raw and worn. God has been restoring and healing us day by beautiful day.

Not only was I healing from the recent events in our history, but God had appointed this the season to heal some deep wounds from my childhood. This has not been an easy journey, but is has been good. I am so grateful that God gave me such a beautiful and unexpected place to heal. This island has been a place of restoration.

I began seeing a therapist, who is so fabulous, and she has been a God-send. One day, last summer I was getting ready for my appointment and I prayed, “God, if there is anything you want to talk about, bring it up with Dr. Casper.” In the middle of our session she asked me, “Have you ever thought about being a therapist?” Well, as a matter of fact I had. About three decades ago I was in college pursuing a degree in Psychology. I told her about this and she said, “You should go back to school.” Later that day, I realized what I had prayed and what had been said. I told Tony that apparently it was time for me to go back to school. He said, “I know, I already got your paperwork done.” And so phase two of my college career began. That unfinished thing in my past won’t be unfinished for long.

The past is being dealt with at the same time that new things have begun. I have launched a writing career. I am now owning this as mine. I am a writer. One day in my kitchen talking with all my kids, I said how being a writer would be my dream life. I had already written a novel at this point, but I had not owned that life. I stared at them all and said, “Then why aren’t I chasing that thing down?” Well, here we are. I am running down a dream (I love Tom Petty).

So, when I am asked what inspires me- all I have to do is look around. My husband (My Leading Man), my children, my grandchildren, the sea, the historic homes and my faith. All are held on this one island. Now, the children and grandchildren will come and go. But, I will always have the memories and new memories to be made.

My Leading Man

Every writer has to have an inspiration, a muse, or archetype from which they draw. Because I am an incurable romantic, I write romance. In real life, I WANT everyone to get that happily ever after.

When it comes to the leading man in a story- regardless of the genre- I am only drawn to an Alpha male. I have absolutely no use for anything less. Power is a tricky thing, but one thing that it always is is attractive. I truly believe that is the appeal of a uniform, it represents power and strength.

Now, here is where we get into arguments. So many assume that an Alpha male is a bully, a brute, or abusive. Many book reviews I have read stated that they did not like the male lead characters because they were Alphas and Alphas were toxic. Here is where they are wrong. A true Alpha is a leader, a protector, a warrior, and a good guy. I wouldn’t follow anything less and I wouldn’t trust my future to anything less. This also means, that I wouldn’t write anything less.

Those men that are bullies, brutes, and abusive are actually weak men who act out loudly. They don’t have what it takes to lead and let others around them succeed so they beat them down either emotionally, physically, mentally or all of these above. This is not strength. A fearful man is just as dangerous. A man who shrinks back in fear cannot be trusted to protect or fight for what is important.

I have had the pleasure of being married to an Alpha male for nearly 30 years. When we met, I had a lot of unhealed wounds. He was the safe place for me to heal. He loved me as I was, took my anger (even when he wasn’t the reason I was angry), let me be myself without criticizing who I was. He even took the physical punches I threw, but not for long because he wouldn’t tolerate abusive behaviors. He never raised a hand to me but he scared me good and I never hit him again. That is what an Alpha looks like.

I have also raised an Alpha male. I have seen how the heart of a warrior develops by watching it emerge early on and seeing what it looks like through each stage. My son has a very different personality from my husband, but their hearts are the same.

There is a misconception that Alpha males don’t feel deeply or get attached. This is so wrong. They do feel deeply. They are loyal. They are driven. They love deeply, so deeply that they would sacrifice their own safety or life in order to protect what is theirs and who they love. I have watched Tony do whatever was necessary to ensure that our children had what they needed and I have never had to wonder if I was loved.

Because of their strength of character, they aren’t afraid to get physical. Both my husband and my son will settle an argument with their fists- if it’s needed. However, it is rarely needed. I feel safe knowing that if anything went down, my husband will take care of me. Honestly, I could be as wrong and wrong could be and Tony would defend me. We might have a serious talk when we got home, but he will have my back no matter what.

So, it is easy to see where I get my inspiration for the leading men I write. In each and every one of them, there is a piece of Tony Ross. The characters have different personalities, but that warrior heart is the same. My characters talk a lot more than my husband, so much of what he says is in what he doesn’t say.

He also isn’t very reactive. This is a good thing because I am VERY reactive. But in a good story, people need to react. So, I write scenes that would cause Tony to react. This means that the love interests gets physically attacked or threatened, and/or quite often shot at- but nobody dies because in my world everyone gets the happily ever after.

Everyman needs a battle to fight and beauty to rescue- these are the men I write. I simply write him again and again and thank God that every night I sleep next to Tony Ross.

Don’t let that easy going smile and quiet personality fool you, mess with me or one of his children and he will rain down hell.

I adore him.

A Marine For Christmas- Cover Reveal

As I promised, this is the over reveal!

Well, sort of-

I have two covers and you get to vote on your favorite!

#1

#2

Leave your choice in the comments!

A Christmas Novella Coming Soon

As you already know, I have been exploring the possibility of self-publishing. As I weighed the pros and cons and read many articles on the subject, I thought how it would be nice if I had a book to experiment with before I pulled the trigger on my novel, Out of the Shadows.

About three weeks ago I woke up with a story idea playing in my head. I thought, “What if I wrote a Christmas Novella and had it drop December 1 on Amazon.”

I liked the idea! If you don’t know, generally a novella is between 17,000 and 40,000 words. I did the math and knew if I averaged 2000 words per day, I could be done in 10 days.

Looking pleased with myself.

So, I sat down and began to write. 14,000 words in, the computer ate 10,000 words. I almost despaired. But, I wanted to meet that goal! So, I kept typing. Turns out, that was just an unexpected edit. I like this version better!

Now, I’m 26,000 words in and should be finished by Friday.

Yay, me!

Stay tuned, a cover reveal is on the way!