Dreams Collide Excerpt

Dreams Collide FINAL

Just wanted to pop in and share an excerpt from the last posted chapter of Dreams Collide–my reader-driven novel.

Chapter three is about to get underway, but it isn’t too late to have your say in what happens next.

If you haven’t yet, hop on over to my blog and give it a go…let me know what you think!

Here’s a little taste of what’s happening now…

 

Kendra squeezed her eyes shut and put her hands over them for good measure as Jax cued up her last two performances. “Don’t make me do this.”

“We’re supposed to analyze each piece you did to see where you need improvement, although I have a pretty good idea already.”

“Do I have to watch?”

“’Fraid so, darlin’.” He laughed as he gently pulled her hands down and clicked the mouse on the laptop in the small studio inside their house.

Her heart pounded at the heat of his fingers around her wrist, still holding her hands from her face even though she’d made no move to hide again. The warmth of his touch was forgotten, and she moaned with humiliation as she watched herself singing. Her voice was fine; her stiff posture was atrocious.

“This is terrible,” she said.

Jax chuckled. “No, it’s not. It’s real. It’s raw. That’s what made it so refreshing. We all—the coaches I mean—said the same thing. You have a true talent that doesn’t require fancy dance moves and flashy lights. You feel the music and it shows. That’s awesome, Kendra. We just need to work on making a stronger connection with the audience. You get up there and you’re in your own world.”

“Okay,” she drawled out. “But you just said you already know what I need to work on, so why are we watching this?”

He turned off the video and faced her. His dark eyes bore into her soul and she felt her cheeks warm. Damn her pale skin for always betraying her.

“Your simplistic performances work for now,” he said, “but when you get down to three or four competitors, it’s going to bite you in the behind. You can’t grab an audience by blending into the background. You need to pull yourself out of that bubble and look at what is going on around you. Look at the fans, connect with them.”

She exhaled slowly. “Yeah. Not so great at that.”

“Have you had any stage experience?”

“Not really. I got caught up in life and music kind of took a backseat.”

“Why are you coming back to it now?”

“I was forced.”

“Forced?”

She lifted her brows. “I always give the performers crap so my sister submitted a tape of me singing. But neither of us thought I’d actually get this far. Just getting past the regional auditions was unexpected, but to actually be in the top fifteen is insane.”

“It’s not insane,” Jax said genuinely and her cheeks grew even hotter. “You deserve to be here. Now we have to make sure you stay.”

“I’m not sure Justin Timberlake is the best tool for that. I’m not a pop singer.”

“I think you’ll be surprised what you can do when you step outside your box. What have you picked for your solo?”

“‘Heartbreaker.’”

“Pat Benatar?”

“Yup.”

“What did you sing for your audition piece? The night you got voted into the top twenty?”

Ooh, barracuda,” she sang.

He grinned. “Heart, Stevie Nicks, and now Pat Benatar.”

Kendra’s confidence fell. “Is that wrong?”

“Not wrong. Classic rock is your comfort zone, but staying in your comfort zone isn’t going to help you grow, and if you don’t grow, you aren’t going to win. Want to know what we’re going to do for you, Miss Kendra?”

“No,” she deadpanned.

He ignored her. “We’re going to yank you right out of that cozy little bubble and toss you into the spotlight for the world to see.”

“Yay,” she said sarcastically. Even with his cute dimples, gorgeous smile, and sexy Southern drawl, his idea sounded terrible.

Swing by the blog to vote and leave feedback!

chapter2

 

So I’m doing this thing

Dreams Collide FINAL

Little known fact: I cut my writing teeth on fan fiction long, long ago.

Not exactly returning to my roots, but in a kinda sorta roundabout way, I am. I’m doing this whole “reader-driven” novel. What does that mean?

Well, any fan fiction junkie knows that the stories are posted chapter by chapter and we needy writers LIVE for feedback from readers. So much so, that oftentimes the reader’s feedback has a huge impact on the direction of the story line.

I’m embracing that interactive style with this new story, Dreams Collide, which is being posted on my blog.

When Kendra Michaels gets a coveted spot on the reality TV show Music Star Dreams, the last thing she expects is fall for her coach–superstar Jax Landry. For Jax, taking on a team of wannabe singers is his way of bouncing back after an ugly divorce. He’s determined to prove he isn’t the bad guy his ex made him out to be in the tabloids, but that may not be as easy as he expected. Especially when one particular member of his team has captured his attention and maybe even his heart.

I am giving readers plenty of time to catch up and let me know what they want to see happen. Once the novel is complete, I’ll post the book in its entirety as a FREE download!

I’d love for you to join me and let me know your thoughts! Check it out! 

 

Ever want to direct the writer where to go? Now’s your chance!

Guys!! I’m announcing my first ever reader-directed novel! Where your feedback directs the story! Basically, read the chapter, post some feedback, I read the feedback and write the next chapter. Rinse and repeat until the book is done. Once it is, this will go up as a FREE read you can download in its entirety with this fancy lil’ cover.

What?? Oh, yeah. It’s gettin’ crazy round here!

A few things before jumping into this party: 

  • This is a free read and open to all readers, all ages. That means I will be writing a nice, clean read. Sorry, ladies!
  • Even though this is a free read, that doesn’t mean stealing the content is okay. Please don’t be a pirate. Unless you’re Jack Sparrow. Then by all means…
  • Be kind. To me. To other readers. To everyone (except maybe that creepy guy at the grocery store–stay away from him). 
  • I will not accept your content to add to the story. Ideas only, please! You can write what you want, but I will only publish my words. Copy right, legalities, all that apply to this rule.
  • Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for joining me!

Take me to chapter 1!!

 

 

 

All the craziness is happening!

Wow! So I’ve kind of gone into complete overhaul mode. New websites for both my pens, new covers for my sweet romance series, a new book coming in September… Lots of insanity going on this way!

First check out the new covers:

Whoot! Love them!!

And the upcoming new release!

This Old Cafe_500Jenna Reid purchased the Stonehill Café to prove to herself that her ex-husband was wrong…that she could make her dreams come true. Three years later, all she has is a crumbling building, no social life, and her bruised pride.

Pride is something Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Maguire lost long ago and isn’t likely to find living in the alley behind the café. He just needs a little time to get on his feet. In the interim, keeping an eye on the overworked café owner gives him a sense of purpose. He has no intentions of making his presence known until he hears the woman screaming late one night.

He rushes into the café but instead of finding her in dire straits, he finds a broken pipe and Jenna—soaking wet and holding a wrench. With her last bit of hope fading, Jenna accepts Daniel’s help to fix up her building, but it doesn’t take long for them to start trying to fix each other.

Coming in September!

But what about those new websites? Well, check ’em out!

http://emiliamancini.com/

http://marciboudreaux.com/

Okay, so some things are still getting shuffled and tested and tried and updated, but they are still beautiful and I love them and I couldn’t wait to share. Hope you like them, too!

Em

 

 

Guest Post: Berry us blue by HL Carpenter

Berry us blue
by HL Carpenter

We have a confession to make. Sometimes…sometimes here in Carpenter Country we are not actually sitting at our computers all day working diligently on our next book. That’s right. Sometimes we…we go OUTSIDE! Into the SUNSHINE!

One of those special occasions took place in early May when we headed out to the u-pick field. Because we are serious blueberry pickers, we brought home enough berries to enjoy a few bowls fresh-from-the-field, to put a couple of handfuls on top of cereal, and to make biscuits, bread, buckles, cheesecake, coffee cake, crumbles, cobblers, donuts, muffins, pies, pancakes, scones, and ICE CREAM!

Are you screaming yet for blueberry ice cream? Us too. In fact, we’re going to take a break and sample a bowl. Here’s the recipe in case you want a break from your own busy day. You will need an ice cream maker (ours makes about 1½ quarts)and a blender or food processor for this recipe.


HOMEMADE BLUEBERRY ICE CREAM
1½ cups fresh blueberries, washed, and dried (slightly less than a pint of fresh, or you can use frozen berries if you drain them well)
1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk (whole or reduced fat, your choice – coconut milk is a delicious substitute)
½ cup sugar (more or less to suit your own sweet tooth — or teeth)
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Place rinsed blueberries in the blender or food processor and process for a minute or less.

Add the whipping cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract to the pureed blueberries in the blender.

Process 10-20 seconds, just until mixed – not too long, or you’ll have whipped cream.

Pour the mixture into the ice cream maker and churn for 20 minutes.

If you like soft, milkshake-type ice cream, pass out the spoons and dig in. For firmer ice cream, scoop the ice cream into a container and freeze two hours.

Okay, break’s over – back to work!

We invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our cozy mystery, A Cause for Murder.

Septuagenarian sleuth Emma Twiggs thinks her neighbor’s death was an accident – until her friend Arnie says he suspects murder.
Arnie is convinced he knows the killer’s identity. He wants Emma to prove it.

Is Arnie right? And is he right in his belief that Emma’s best friend is the killer’s next target?

As Emma navigates madcap mayhem, multiple mysteries, and murderous motives, she discovers more than one person is hiding deadly secrets.

The question is, who has a cause for murder?

EXCERPT
It wasn’t the food. Happy Haven Retirement Community’s chef prepared delicious, artistically plated roast beef and mashed potatoes every Sunday evening.

Emma Twiggs set down her fork. No, the food wasn’t the problem.

It wasn’t the chatter or the whispers in the dining room, or the sidelong glances of other Happy Haven residents. Happy Haven was a hotbed of gossip and rumors. Being the topic du jour was familiar territory.

It certainly wasn’t her dinner companion. Arnie Bracken was always charming, kind, and intelligent, no matter what her best friend Olli thought.

No, food, chatter, and Arnie, combined or singular, were not the cause of her uneasiness.

The problem –

“I know what you’re thinking, Em,” Arnie said.

“Do you?” She picked up a glass of lemon-spritzed water and tried to swallow past the tightness in her throat. She could only hope he had no idea of what she was thinking.

“Sure.” He leaned forward and lowered his voice. “You’re wondering how someone as fit as Jo accidentally drowned in the swimming pool.”

Emma froze. Her fingers tightened on the glass. The chatter in the room faded into muted background noise. She had deliberately not been thinking about Jo. She would not think about Jo. How did Arnie know she’d been thinking about Jo?

“I’ll tell you how,” he said. “Jo was murdered, and Cahan murdered her.”

“I am not thinking about – Murdered?” The lump in her throat expanded to the size of the Brussels sprouts on her plate. “By Todd?”

“Murdered. By Cahan. And we need to prove he did the deed.”

“Arnie.” Emma set the glass on the table and uncurled her fingers from it. She coughed to clear the non-existent Brussels sprout from her throat. “The paramedics told us Jo’s death was accidental. An accidental drowning.”

“Yeah, I know all the euphemisms they used.”

Emma did too. The headline in Harmony Notes, the local daily, had read TRAGIC ACCIDENT AT HAPPY HAVEN. Unfortunate was the word murmured most frequently at the funeral service, followed closely by regrettable.

She said, “Harmony’s police department and the district medical examiner agreed with the paramedics.”

“They’re wrong.”

A trickle of condensation wept down the side of the glass and puddled into a teardrop on the table. All the words used to describe Jo’s death were wrong. Wrong and inadequate. Words were inadequate now too.

Because this was the problem she had been avoiding.

Her role in Jo’s death.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Florida-based mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write sweet, clean fiction that is suitable for everyone in your family. The Carpenters write from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit their website to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

Stay connected on Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, and their Amazon Author Page.

Let them eat American Flag Cake!

Not only is my author friend Sara Daniel a terrific writer, she’s also one dynamite baker. Sara is sharing her special Fourth of July dessert. I guarantee you’ll love it! Now here’s Sara…

Nothing beats Independence Day for showing our pride in our country. Flags wave proudly, and red, white and blue are suddenly displayed on every piece of merchandise in the local discount store.

While I don’t have flag plates, napkins or—God forbid—a star-spangled bikini, I love bringing out my once-a-year crafty side to make an American Flag Cake for a cool patriotic treat.

So to satisfy your sweet-tooth I offer you my easy and delicious recipe.


American Flag Cake
pound cake
8oz Cool Whip
Blueberries
Strawberries, sliced

Pound cake can be store bought or made from scratch. Here’s a quick recipe:
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Beat sugar into butter 2 tablespoons at a time until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time. Mix in remaining ingredients.

Bake in a greased and floured 9 X 5 pan for 1 hour. Cool completely.

To Assemble American Flag Cake
Cut pound cake into slices and lay across the bottom of a 9 X 13 pan.

Cover cake with a smooth layer of Cool Whip.

Turn pan horizontal. In upper left corner, fill an approximately 3-4 inch by 3-4 inch square with blueberries.

Make seven horizontal lines of strawberry slices. The first four lines should begin from the blueberry section to the far right edge. The bottom three lines should span the entire length of the pan. The top and bottom lines should be touching the top and bottom of the pan respectively to create 13 alternating red and white stripes.

The last step is very important – Thank a member of our Armed Forces and/or a Veteran, and share a piece of patriotic cake.

Enjoy.

~Sara

Sara Daniel writes what she loves to read—irresistible romance, from sweet to erotic and everything in between. She battles a serious NASCAR addiction, was once a landlord of two uninvited squirrels, and loses her car keys several times a day.

Learn more about Sara on her website and blog. Subscribe to Sara’s newsletter.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Special Guest HL Carpenter

by HL Carpenter

We like to bake here in Carpenter Country, and we love to eat what we bake. So the fact that baking is a subplot in our cozy mystery, A Cause for Murder, is no surprise. While our septuagenarian sleuth Emma is searching for a killer, her friend Arnie has made baking his new hobby. Emma isn’t sure what converted a seventy-three-year-old one-hundred-eighty-pound six-foot accountant into a budding pastry chef. But she has learned to be wary of the results of his efforts.

Emma’s wise to be cautious when sampling Arnie’s homemade Hungarian sweets because he specializes in spicing them with secret ingredients.

Fortunately, you can try our 3-2-1 Pear-Up dessert without worry. The recipe contains no mysterious ingredients…unless you choose to add them.

Photo by rakratchada torsap

3-2-1 Pear-Up
3 pears, peeled and sliced
3 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. oatmeal
2 tbsp. pecan pieces
2 tbsp. flour
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon, if you prefer)
1 tbsp. butter
1 spritz nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°F

Spritz the bottom of a 9″ round pie pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Toss the pear slices in the lemon juice and add them to the pie pan.

Measure the sugar, oatmeal, pecan pieces, flour, and spice into a plastic baggie. Shake to mix. Add the butter and knead the bag with your fingers until the mixture resembles soft crumbs.

Empty the bag of topping mixture into the pie pan on top of the pears.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the pears are soft.

Tips and tricks
Add a tablespoon of butter on top of the pears if you like a syrupy juice.
Experiment with different types of nuts for different flavors.
Raisins or dates add a sweet touch.
Top each serving with sweetened whipped cream for extra yum.

To stop you from eating this delicious dessert in one sitting, we invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our cozy mystery, A Cause for Murder.

Septuagenarian sleuth Emma Twiggs thinks her neighbor’s death was an accident – until her friend Arnie says he suspects murder.
Arnie is convinced he knows the killer’s identity. He wants Emma to prove it.

Is Arnie right? And is he right in his belief that Emma’s best friend is the killer’s next target?

As Emma navigates madcap mayhem, multiple mysteries, and murderous motives, she discovers more than one person is hiding deadly secrets.

The question is, who has a cause for murder?

EXCERPT
It wasn’t the food. Happy Haven Retirement Community’s chef prepared delicious, artistically plated roast beef and mashed potatoes every Sunday evening.

Emma Twiggs set down her fork. No, the food wasn’t the problem.

It wasn’t the chatter or the whispers in the dining room, or the sidelong glances of other Happy Haven residents. Happy Haven was a hotbed of gossip and rumors. Being the topic du jour was familiar territory.

It certainly wasn’t her dinner companion. Arnie Bracken was always charming, kind, and intelligent, no matter what her best friend Olli thought.

No, food, chatter, and Arnie, combined or singular, were not the cause of her uneasiness.

The problem –

“I know what you’re thinking, Em,” Arnie said.

“Do you?” She picked up a glass of lemon-spritzed water and tried to swallow past the tightness in her throat. She could only hope he had no idea of what she was thinking.

“Sure.” He leaned forward and lowered his voice. “You’re wondering how someone as fit as Jo accidentally drowned in the swimming pool.”

Emma froze. Her fingers tightened on the glass. The chatter in the room faded into muted background noise. She had deliberately not been thinking about Jo. She would not think about Jo. How did Arnie know she’d been thinking about Jo?

“I’ll tell you how,” he said. “Jo was murdered, and Cahan murdered her.”

“I am not thinking about – Murdered?” The lump in her throat expanded to the size of the Brussels sprouts on her plate. “By Todd?”

“Murdered. By Cahan. And we need to prove he did the deed.”

“Arnie.” Emma set the glass on the table and uncurled her fingers from it. She coughed to clear the non-existent Brussels sprout from her throat. “The paramedics told us Jo’s death was accidental. An accidental drowning.”

“Yeah, I know all the euphemisms they used.”

Emma did too. The headline in Harmony Notes, the local daily, had read TRAGIC ACCIDENT AT HAPPY HAVEN. Unfortunate was the word murmured most frequently at the funeral service, followed closely by regrettable.

She said, “Harmony’s police department and the district medical examiner agreed with the paramedics.”

“They’re wrong.”

A trickle of condensation wept down the side of the glass and puddled into a teardrop on the table. All the words used to describe Jo’s death were wrong. Wrong and inadequate. Words were inadequate now too.

Because this was the problem she had been avoiding.

Her role in Jo’s death.

Florida-based mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write sweet, clean fiction that is suitable for everyone in your family. The Carpenters write from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit their website to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

Stay connected on Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, and their Amazon Author Page.