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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tuesday Tips and Tweaks


This week author G.E. Taylor joins us with her tip. G. E. Taylor is an author of authentic, passionate contemporary romance and lives in New Jersey with her family.

G. E. Taylor’s Tip on Writing

The Serious Writer: Turning Passion into Craft

        “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”   Stephen King

I couldn’t agree more with this quote by Stephen King. I like to read, have always enjoyed reading. Even when I was growing up I read everything in the “Hardy Boys” series, “Nancy Drew” and any Mills and Boon romance book I could find.  Naturally, I’ve read other books, but those mentioned, I’d enjoyed and had read sometimes twice.

In my moments of reflection though, I do regret not pursuing my writing as ardently back then as I’m doing now. Yes, I did some writing but nothing worthy to meet publishing standards and I think I was pretty scared too. Still, that feeling was not strong enough to deter me from continuing to write and strive for the goal of completing and publishing that work. I attacked my first novel like I was writing and preparing for one of my most critical professors. The rewrites were many and at times downright discouraging but since I was upholding a standard there was no way I could back down. So, casting aside any feeling of discouragement I continued to work and focus on the goal of producing a novel I was satisfied with and readers could enjoy. With my second novel I used almost the same demanding work discipline to achieve my goal. But somehow I found I was more relaxed, maybe because I’d faced the fire before and was now aware of the pitfalls and avoided them.

Someone said, you should toot your horn or no one will do it for you. So, I’m pleased with myself and happy to announce that I am the proud owner of two published contemporary romance books and I am working on the third one. My first book ─The Lady Mentor was published September, 2014 and Desperate Decision on July, 2015.
 
"The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words  being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible." Vladimer
Nabokov

I am excited that once again I get to use my imagination to bring the invisible to life. Surrender My Heart is my next project and it is also a contemporary romance. This is the genre I’m most comfortable writing. Once this novel is complete, then my goal is to continue creating and writing stories, that hopefully readers will want to read.

For now, I’m pleased that I was able to meet the challenge of writing three novels as I am a member of RWA and want to be seen as a serious writer.

Excerpt from “Desperate Decision”

The cold November air hit Allison hard, chilled her bones, and caused instant goose flesh to rise and cover her skin. She hunched over momentarily trying to ward off the chill. Her eyes scanned the train station as a possible place to hide, but she discarded the idea immediately.  It was too open. The streets across from the apartment were busy and not easy to cross.  Estimating her chance of crossing them before being captured, the odds were against her. She would not have the time or the strength to do it before they caught up with her. Moving as fast as she could, she walked across the courtyard, down the embankment to the sidewalk.

Several cars and other vehicles waited at the stoplight. Making a desperate decision, she stepped up quickly to a car and yanked the handle. The door opened and she scrambled inside, slammed the door shut, and locked it. The light changed from red to green. The driver, startled, pressed the gas. The car leaped forward only to stop abruptly. Several horns blasted behind him instantly.

“What the fuck!”           

 “Drive! Please drive,” she begged.

The sound of her voice carried a desperation that commanded him to obey. The car leaped forward as two people, a man and a woman, dashed into the courtyard. They hurried through the wrought iron gate onto the sidewalk looking up and down the street, peering into cars as they drove by. Allison eased down on the floor of the car until the stranger’s car circled the green and headed toward South Street. Her heart pumped furiously, and she swallowed with difficulty. Lifting her shaky hand, she eased herself upon the seat. She had no idea what she would say to this stranger when he stopped his car. He must think she was insane or had escaped from somewhere. She hadn’t. This was the first time in her life that she’d ever done anything like this.

He pulled into the parking lot at the supermarket, flung his door open, and walked around his car to the back right door. His long strides reached it before Allison got out. As she pushed against the door, he pulled it open.  He was furious with her for not only scaring the living hell out of him, but for doing this unthinkable act. What could have possessed her to do it? She’d better have a damn good reason.

With both feet firmly planted on the blacktop, she was ready to stand, but she could not lift her body. He stood solidly in her path, one arm resting on top of the door effectively cutting off her escape. Dressed in black jeans, cream polo shirt, and light black jacket, his body allowed little room for her to move.

Allison looked up at him and swallowed nervously. He was lean and taller than Douglas, so she would say he was over six foot tall. His face was deeply tanned, his blond hair shaped his head perfectly, and straight brows enhanced his cold blue eyes that were not looking at her in a friendly way. His nose was straight, jaws firm and square, his lips slightly full and sensual. His hard eyes concentrated on her steadily.  A strong current of anger radiated from him. She felt it, and cursed Douglas fervently in her mind. There was a leached control about him that frightened her. Most of all, she needed to be on her way. The quicker she apologized, the faster she could leave, she decided.

“I’m sorry, very sorry, I startled you back there,” she said sincerely.  “Thank you for helping me. Again, I’m truly sorry. I’ll leave you now.”

“Like hell you will! Not so fast,” he stated, not moving an inch as he continued to look at her. Despite the anger that ran through him, the sound of her voice drew his attention. It reminded him of warm honey. He liked it, and he could hear genuine regret in her tone. She was also very nervous, and she should damn well be, for the stunt she just pulled. He wasn’t ready to let her walk away from him. Her skin was light brown, and he wondered what her eyes looked like. The huge dark glasses she stared at him through hid them very well.

His eyes on her were unnerving. She couldn’t help but move restlessly in her seat. If only he would move. Each minute he delayed her was making it easier for Douglas’s friend to find her.

“What made you do such a foolish thing?”

“Under ordinary circumstances, I wouldn’t have done it.” The thought of how close she came to involving him in an accident made her stomach turn.

“Care to describe the circumstance?”

Buy Links:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1JiQNqC
Nook: http://bit.ly/1NHOJ0K
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1MTrlOA

You can find G. E. Taylor at:
Website: http://bit.ly/1E6pNal
Facebook: www.facebook.com/getaylorauthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/getaylorauthor
 
Thanks G. E. Taylor, for dropping by and sharing that great marketing tip.

Don't forget to check back next week for another author's tip. 

 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Cover Reveal by Allison Merritt


Tell (The Heckmasters, Book 3)
Author: Allison Merritt
ISBN13: 9781619233010
Length: 70k
Release date: March 8, 2016

Half demon, all male...one woman strong enough to love him.

Knowing the day will come when his demon blood will overcome his humanity, Tell Heckmaster has been searching for a miracle. Something, anything, to counteract the spell. So far, he's come up empty.
 
Just as the town of Berner has finally found peace, Tell's worst fears manifest. Strange, new powers are tearing at his finely honed control. Putting everyone-including the pretty seamstress he's kept at arm's length-in terrible danger.
 
Sylvie Duke has everything she needs. Everything except Tell, who doesn't seem to own a lick of sense. His resistance only strengthens her resolve to stay by his side, driven by a nameless inner knowing that without her, all will be lost.
 
Reluctantly, Tell is forced to admit that the closer he is to Sylvie, the better he's able to quell his demon. But when a cryptic warning from an old ally tips the balance, nothing-not even love-may be strong enough to protect Berner from the raging fires of hell.
 
Warning: Contains a woman who can handle a hatchet with as much skill as a needle, and a man whose touch can transport her to heaven. Or hell. Accidentally, of course. Readers may wish to invest in an asbestos suit. Potholders just aren't going to cut it.
 
About the Author:
 
A love of reading inspired Allison Merritt to pursue her dream of becoming an author who writes historical, paranormal, contemporary, and fantasy romances, often combining the sub-genres. She lives in a small town in the Ozark Mountains with her husband and dogs. It's not unusual to find her lurking in graveyards, wandering historical sites, or listening to ghost stories.

Allison graduated from College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri with a B.A. in mass communications that's gathering dust after it was determined that she's better at writing fluff than hard news.
 
Social media links:
Blog – http://havenovelwilledit.blogspot.com
Facebook – http://facebook.com/allisonmwrites
Twitter – http://twitter.com/allison_merrit
Goodreads – http://goodreads.com/AllisonMWrites
Pinterest - http://www.pinterest.com/allisonmwrites/
  Read the first book in the series: Wystan (The Heckmasters)
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22589377-wystan

Buy links:
B&N - http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wystan-allison-merritt/1119847207?ean=9781619222892
Read the second book in the series: Eban (The Heckmasters, Book 2)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

New Release by N.N. Light

Author N. N. Light has been creating stories ever since she was little. Her grandfather remembers when she was two years old, she would stand at the top of the stairs and tell him a story filled with emotion (and in a language foreign to him) with her hands on her hips. Let's just say she was a born storyteller. She was born in Minnesota, lived in Southern California only to move to chilly Ontario, Canada to marry her beloved husband MR N. She is blissfully happy and loves all things chocolate, books, music, movies, art, sports and baking. Her mantra is to spread the Light. Most of the time you can find her on Twitter or getting new ideas on how to spread the Light on Pinterest. She is a proud member of ASMSG, Independent Author Network and Marketing for Romance Writers.

N.N. Light has a new release as of September 15, 2015

Planting the Seeds of Love is a novella

Blurb:

Torn between two men, Sally must follow her heart and decide if love will lead her to the city or the countryside.

Twenty-Two year old Sally Rayton returns to the family farm she deserted four years ago to bury her grandfather. Her plan: to settle her grandfather's estate and return to her life in the city with her boyfriend, Trevor Mattson.

Her childhood friend, Jack Smith, has other ideas.

Jack convinces Sally to transform the farm into a brewery and fulfill her grandfather's dream while keeping the Rayton Farm in the family. Sally works side-by-side with Jack while Trevor is hundreds of miles away in the city. The more time she spends with Jack, the stronger her feelings are for him.

When Trevor shows up to propose to Sally right before Christmas and finds her in Jack's embrace, she must make the biggest choice of her life: true love.

Excerpt:


Sally woke up the next morning to the sound of a chainsaw, multiple chainsaws. What the hell is going on? It's five-thirty in the morning! She threw back the bedcovers and grabbed her robe off the back of the bedroom door. Pulling it tight across her body, the floral soft cotton robe did nothing to conceal the fact she was naked underneath. She ran down the stairs and stomped out the door barefoot.

"So help me, I'm going to kill whomever is making that racket," she roared to no one in particular.

She craned her neck to hear where the sound was coming from. Turning left, towards the citrus grove, she saw Jack and two other men standing under the trees. All of the frustration from the past week poured out of her and she ran as hard as she could. When she came closer, she realized what they were about to do.

"Stop! Don't cut these trees down!" She panted. She put her hands on her hips to catch her breath.

Jack's eyes roamed the length of her body and Sally could feel a slight warmth heat her cheeks. She looked down at her disheveled robe and pulled her robe tighter. Dammit, what's he staring at? She lifted her gaze and her stomach did a flip. Jack's shirt wasn't buttoned and she caught a glimpse of his tanned ripped stomach muscles. Oh my!

"Jack, what are you doing? Do you know it's five-thirty in the morning?"

He shook his head, as if that was an answer. She tore her eyes away from his abs to his face. She inhaled sharply. His hooded eyes looked ready to devour her. I must be seeing things. Maybe he's just hungry.

The two other men set down their chainsaws. "Listen Jack, we'll be over at your farm eating some breakfast. Come get us when you're ready."

Jack snapped his head around to the men. "Sure. I'll see you guys in few minutes." He ran his fingers through his hair. "I have to clear things up with Miss Rayton." Jack watched the men walk away and whipped his head back to Sally.

Sally rolled her eyes and said aloud, "Yeah, you just have to talk to the womanfolk." She spoke in a sweet Southern drawl. "Remember to speak nice and slow so she understands ya'll."

Buy Links:
Available at Amazon Worldwide exclusively: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01581XM50

Paperback: https://www.createspace.com/5697490

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26134330-planting-the-seeds-of-love

Newsletter:
If you would like to sign up to be an exclusive member of #TeamPOTL, send me an email: info [at] princessofthelight [dot] com
You'll get a free short story and you'll get sneak peeks into what I'm working on. Plus, every Friday, you'll get a special shout-out on Twitter. :)

In addition to being an author, she's also a book promoter/reviewer and social media marketer. She loves books, has ever since she was young. Matching up books and readers is something that gives her great pleasure.

She’d love to connect with you either via email or via these various social media sites:
Website: http://princessofthelight.com
Blog: http://princessofthelight.wordpress.com
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/nnlight  
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/NNP_W_Light 
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/nnlight 
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/n-n-light/90/1a7/902 
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/118060034268079734144/posts 
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/nnlight 
Independent Author Network: http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/n-n-light.html  

Monday, September 21, 2015

Tuesday’s Tips and Tweaks

This week author Elysa Hendricks joins us with her tip. Elysa Hendricks is 5'6" tall. She has brown eyes and curly hair. She's a writer, a wife, a mother, and a daughter, everything else is subject to change without notice.

Elysa’s Tip on Plotting

There are basically two kinds of plots: character driven or event driven.  So, focus on interesting characters or unusual situations, and then play “What If…”

Your character’s motivation for reaching his goal is what creates plot.  What does he want?  Why does he want it?  And how is he going to get it.

But without conflict, there is no plot, at least not an interesting one.  So determine why your character can’t achieve his goal?

There is a difference between “complex” and “complicated.” Plots can be intricate in detail and yet simple in focus.

The Plot is usually developed in the first two-thirds of the story, leaving the last third for the climax and plot resolution.

The climax or dark moment, as it is sometimes called, is the emotional point in the story when the character has reached a point of no return and must face his problems.  Afterwards, the story needs to come to a swift conclusion.

SUBPLOTS

In a longer novel, subplots are used to sustain reader interest.

The primary purpose of a subplot is to show aspects of the protagonist’s character.

Resolve your subplots with a “domino effect”.  As each subplot is resolve the protagonist gains something, making him better equipped to achieve his story goal.  Usually, the main plot is resolved last.
 


Excerpt from “Must Love Cats The Nine Lives of Thomas Cash Riley Book I

"Not so tight, Little Bit," I told the Alana as she carted me into the house. My ribs felt crushed and my hind legs were going numb from dangling and a lack of proper circulation. This is the thanks I got for getting involved. I should have known better. No good deed ever went unpunished.

"Okay," she mumbled into my fur and eased her death grip.

For some reason the kid could understand the mews and squeaks that came out of my mouth. Praise the Lord.

"Give him here, Sweetheart."

Before she could object the man plucked me out of the kid's hold. Not that being carried by him was much more comfortable. He held me as far from his body as his arms would reach, as if I had fleas, which I assuredly did not. But at least he supported my entire form rather than letting me dangle by my front legs, my hind paws and tail dragging on the ground.

For the first time since I'd arrived back on Earth in my current incarnation as a cat I took a good look at the guy and though my recollection of my human life was woefully incomplete, I realized I knew him.

Like old home movies, images of my past flickered in my head, filling in some of the holes in my memory. Daniel James Bishop. Stick up his butt, never a hair out of place, perfect Daniel from boarding school hell.

Memories of how I'd bullied the quiet boy Daniel had been, the mean words and pranks I'd played on him, popped into my mind and filled me with an unexpected and long overdue sense of shame. I'd taken my childish anger - though what I'd been angry about I had no clue - out on someone who never did anything but try to be my friend.

This was who I was here to help? Why? The man had everything - movie-star good looks, money, an adorable little girl - what could I help him get that he didn't already have?

Love. Your challenge is to help him find love.

The familiar voice of the glowing being sounded the words in my head.

Double damn! Help him find love? I wasn't even sure love existed.

Buy Links:
http://www.amazon.com/Must-Love-Lives-Thomas-Riley-ebook/dp/B00FXCWTHW

You can find Elysa at:
Website http://www.elysahendricks.com

Thanks Elysa, for dropping by and sharing that great marketing tip.

Don’t forget to check back next week for another tip or tweak.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Writing and Current Social/global Issues

What current issues are important to you? How often do modern social/global issues take place in your stories no matter what era or genera you write? Robin has really picked an interesting topic for this month, and maybe a challenging one.

First of all I feel I should qualify that I am a Canadian, so my views on current issues come from that background. What issues are important to me?


The environment jumps to mind. I’m concerned about global warming. Because of the high temperatures all summer and the low water levels the salmon who return each year are having problems. In the lakes and rivers the temperatures are high, causing stress on the salmon and combined with lower water levels they are dying before they reach their spawning ground.

Snow packs have been low because of the warmer temperatures and water levels in lakes and rivers are lower. On our yearly trip to the Oregon Coast, walking long the beach the ocean appears to be lower than last year. Lack of water is becoming a concern world wide.
The higher, dryer temperatures have caused increased fires on the west coast.

Those are a couple of examples. I could continue, but you get the idea.
Poverty is always a concern, both locally and globally.

Do I write on those issues – not really. I mention an occasional environmental issue but not in any obvious way. I may in the future.

I’m on my way to check out what others have to say. I’m sure there are going to be some interesting posts from the US POV. Start checking out these sites:

Skye Taylor  http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Margaret Fieland  http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/
Marci Baun   http://marcibaun.com/blog/Victoria Chatham  http://victoriachatham.webs.com/
Connie Vines  http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Bob Rich  http://wp.me/p3Xihq-vQ
Rachael Kosinski  http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Helena Fairfax  http://helenafairfax.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Rhobin Courtright  http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Developing Your Setting

How do you choose and write the setting for your story. They always say write what you know. Do you use places you’ve visited or lived? Do you use your imagination?

For my contemporary Hawkins’ Family series I set it in Montana. I’ve driven through the state but don’t know it well. I researched maps and cities, check mileages, researched small towns and hospitals, prisons, etc. in the area. I also check weather and information about running cattle ranches. The internet is a marvelous tool for research.

I found this article on developing your settings. These are a few of the suggestions.
-                 Spend a few minutes daydreaming about the world of your novel.
-                 Once you have a few ideas about your setting, start writing your ideas down. It can be single words that you think of.
-                 Make your setting vivid. Your animals need to roar and shriek and squawk; you need to smell the cloying scent of exotic flowers, feel the wind and the rain against your skin, taste tangy juice. Take all five senses into account.
       By now, you should have a pretty clear mental picture of the world that your characters live in.
-        Show what you've written to someone you trust and ask them if your scene building is effective enough, or join an online writing forum.

To read the whole article go to http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Setting-for-a-Book

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tuesday Tips and Tweaks - Kristen

This week author Kristin Wallace joins us with her tip. Kristin is the USA Today Best Selling Author of inspirational and contemporary romance, and women’s fiction filled with “love, laughter and a leap of faith”. 

Kristin’s Tip on Writing


Don't have one this week.
       

Excerpt from “Left Turn at Paradise” (Book 1)

I have a mortgage. A lease on a new luxury car. I am an unabashed shopaholic and like regular meals. I need a new job. A new career. A whole new life.

Layla McCarthy tried to quell the panic as she pictured the pile of bills waiting for her at home. Bills she had no way of paying thanks to her now empty bank account.

A human hurricane had struck her life, leaving her business, LM Concepts, strewn across the landscape. Her passion, her baby, the one thing that had never disappointed her…gone. All because Layla’s business partner had fallen in love and decided to abscond with him…and the company funds.

She really should have decked him.

The moment Melanie’s spray-tanned, Euro-trash boyfriend had used kissing the back of Layla’s hand as a cover for looking down her shirt, she should have decked him. As a green-eyed blonde with a body that screamed bombshell, Layla was used to leers and suggestive comments, even from her friends’ significant others. Usually, they tried to be discreet about it though. Julian hadn’t even made an effort.

For Melanie’s sake, Layla had restrained herself.

She’d wound up losing everything for her trouble. Whatever had been left after Melanie fled had gone to pay vendors, a private investigator who was still sending her invoices for what looked to be nothing more than internet searches, and an outrageously expensive bankruptcy attorney. Layla might have held strong and kept going, except her clients took a hike too, unwilling to stay aboard a ship that had Titanic written all over the bow.

She’d known this day would be difficult, but she hadn’t expected the gut-wrenching sense of loss. The soul-shattering knowledge that she was a failure at thirty. Failing was something Layla never did.

She walked to the window and looked down at the street. From this vantage she could see both downtown Miami and Biscayne Bay. Traffic flowed on Biscayne Boulevard, the cars looking like giant ants marching back and forth—all racing to get somewhere, while Layla’s life had come to a screeching halt.

“This is awful,” a voice said from behind her. “It feels like someone died.”

Something had died. Her marketing business, her reputation, and her sense of financial security had all been killed by a backstabbing partner and a playboy with orange-hued skin.

Layla looked over her shoulder at her secretary. Kelly had been crying ever since they’d arrived to gather what remained of the business and close up shop for good. She dabbed at her eyes and nose before crumpling up the tissue and tossing it in the garbage can.

Layla’s life seemed a lot like that Kleenex.

“I still can’t believe Melanie betrayed you,” Kelly said. “Betrayed everyone.”

Layla moved to the desk and emptied the last drawer into a trash bag. “I can.”

“Right,” Kelly said, rolling her eyes. “I forgot one of Layla McCarthy’s cardinal rules. Never trust anyone.”

Layla paused to wave her arms around the nearly empty office. “Hello? I should have known better, but I thought Melanie was too logical to lose her head over any man.”

Kelly sighed. “Julian was so gorgeous, I can almost – almost – understand. I don’t know how many times Melanie told me she couldn’t believe a man like him would want her.”

Layla slammed the drawer closed. “That’s no excuse.”

“No, but for someone like Melanie who’s never had men notice her that way—” Kelly glanced over. “Maybe you wouldn’t understand. Men always notice you.”

Layla heard the unspoken assumption that she had men falling to their knees. Why did no one consider that her looks were not always an advantage? That she’d had to work overtime to prove herself to coworkers and bosses who were convinced that an extra dose of cleavage meant all the brain cells had been sucked out of her head. It’s why she’d started LM Concepts in the first place.

She could have told Kelly all of that, but Layla didn’t have the emotional energy to fight the world’s misconceptions.

“No, I’m sure I wouldn’t,” Layla said.

An awkward silence descended as Kelly realized she’d stepped into a minefield. She swallowed and looked away. “So…what now?”

Layla took a deep breath, trying to ignore the hitch in her chest that spelled tears. She hated crying almost as much as failing. “We move on.”

“Right.” Kelly gave Layla a hug and then picked up her box of personal belongings. “I’ll see you.”

Layla waited till Kelly was gone before hanging her head. Her eyes stung, and she blinked to clear her vision.

What does come now?

Her cell chirped, and she glanced at the display. Gran.

Layla contemplated ignoring the summons. If she talked to her grandmother right now she’d break down completely. But if she didn’t answer, Gran would only call back again and again until Layla picked up. Barbara McCarthy could be relentless, and she could sense despair even over a couple hundred miles of digital wiring. There was a reason Layla had graduated valedictorian of her high school class, gotten a scholarship to Duke, and then blazed a trail up the corporate ladder until she’d decided to start her own business. And it could all be laid at the feet of her grandmother, the first female surgeon in Layla’s hometown of Shellwater Key, Florida.

Well, best to get it over with. She clicked the button to answer her phone. “Hi Gran.”

“If I know you, you’re staring at an empty office, feeling sorry for yourself.”

Layla sighed. “Got it in one.”

“It’s done then?”

Her throat closed. “Yep. Over. Finito.”

“Now, honey, you know that’s not true. This is only a bump in the road. You’ll land on your feet again. You just need some time to decide where you want your life to go.”

“I want it to go on running LM Concepts.”

Her grandmother chuckled and despite the ache, Layla’s heart lifted. “I know you do,” Gran said. “But I also know there is something even better for you out there.”

“I can’t imagine it right now.”

“I can. I even have an idea of that something.”

Layla gazed out at the bay. The cruise ships were in port, readying to depart on an exciting sea voyage. Maybe she could chuck it all and take off with them. Spend a couple weeks doing nothing but sipping cocktails by the pool. Parasailing, scuba diving, exploring old forts or a rain forest. It might blow the rest of her savings, but hard work and tenacity had left her with exactly nothing. A little partying might do the trick.

“Layla, did you hear me?” Gran said.

She shook off the errant thought. “Yes, of course. You said you had an idea for me.”

“I will never understand how you can repeat back what I say word for word when I know you weren’t paying attention.”

“It’s a coping mechanism I learned, to make it through agonizing business meetings,” Layla said, feeling her mouth stretch into a smile. The movement felt almost foreign. “What’s your brilliant idea for getting my life put back together then?”

“It’s Grace-Anne—”

Layla stifled another groan. She should have known her great-aunt was involved. Grace-Anne was her grandmother’s younger sister, and the two women could not have been more different. Barbara was practical, cynical, and bold. Grace-Anne was sweet, romantic, and biddable. Despite their differences, they were extremely close. Their bond had survived college—although only Barbara had gone—marriage, and the premature deaths of their husbands. It had grown even stronger with the raising of a child who’d been abandoned by her mother.

That would be Layla.

Grace-Anne was – to put it politely – a bit of a ditz. She was one of those people who’d turn over her life savings to any whack-job with a sob story about his family living in some dirt-floor hut back home and how he was working to bring them to the U.S. for a better life.

“What’s Aunt Grace done now?” Layla asked.

“She’s bought a dinner theatre.”

Layla straightened, all thought of a Caribbean cruise chased from her mind. “I’m sorry. What?”

Gran sighed. “The Paradise Dinner Theatre.”

“Why would she do that? And where did she get the money? Did some swindler—”

“No, no…she still has the money Harold left her.”

“I’m surprised she has any left. She’s been trying her best to give it away to every hard-up Tom, Dick, and Harry in the state of Florida.”

“There are no swindlers involved. The couple that owned The Paradise retired and moved away several years ago. Now they’ve both passed, and their children didn’t want to keep it. The theatre was in danger of being shut down and turned into a fancy spa. Grace-Anne couldn’t bear the thought of that so she bought it. You know she has a thing about that place.”

A smile pulled at Layla’s lips despite her own misery. “Because of Derek the Wonderful.”

Derek, the struggling actor, who’d played a bit part in a long-forgotten production at The Paradise. He’d had a starring role in her great-aunt’s life, as Grace-Anne’s tragic first love. Growing up Layla had heard the tale of love and loss recounted more times than she could count.

“Yes, Derek,” Gran said, without a touch of wistfulness in her tone. “All these years later and that young man is still wreaking havoc in my sister’s life.”

Layla sighed. “It is crazy for Aunt Grace to sink her money into a business out of nostalgia, but what does this have to do with me?”

“Grace-Anne isn’t a business woman, and she hasn’t done any theatre since she was a teenager. I’m afraid she’s going to lose everything, and even Harold’s money might not be enough to cover it all. I thought maybe you could help.”

“How?” Layla’s head started to pound. “I don’t know anything about plays, either.”

“You do know about running a business, though. The Paradise has been closed up for so long that people have sort of forgotten about it, but with your marketing background you’d know just what to do.”

The pounding escalated to a jackhammer. “I can’t just pick up and leave Miami. I have to look for a job. What about my condo?”

“It wouldn’t be forever, and I’m sure you could find someone to sublease your place. That would bring in some money every month at least.”

Layla rested her head against the window. Return to Shellwater Key. To live. Going back was the last thing she wanted to do. If the bad memories didn’t kill her, boredom might. Shellwater Key gloried in its small-town hokeyness, having resisted the type of tourist gimmicks that had claimed most of the beach towns along Florida’s southwest coast. Unfortunately, she didn’t have many other options.

“I don’t know, Gran.”

“I’m helping as much as I can, but neither of us are getting any younger. I just don’t know if I have the energy anymore.”

Layla couldn’t remember her grandmother ever admitting to weakness. Never known her to complain. Even so, Layla couldn’t deny that her grandmother was getting older. If she didn’t go and something happened to Gran or Aunt Grace, Layla would never forgive herself. They had both sacrificed so much for her. Both tried to fill the void in a motherless child. Now it was Layla’s turn to make the sacrifices.

“Don’t you dare give yourself a heart attack or something, Gran. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

“Thank you, Baby. We’ll get your room ready for you.”

Buy Links:
Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00ZSF2Z5U
iTunes: http://indi.uno/1CcnEKv
Kobo: http://indi.uno/1Ts45sv   JULYWW30
B&N: http://ow.ly/P2gA8

You can find Kristin at:
Website: http://KristinWallaceAuthor.com
Facebook  - http://facebook.com/KristinWallaceAuthor
Twitter – http://twitter.com/KWallaceAuthor 
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kristin-Wallace/e/B00G5KX80I
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7361414.Kristin_Wallace

Thanks Kristin, for dropping by and sharing that great marketing tip.

Don’t forget to check back next week for another author’s tip or tweak.