Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A MILITARY WIFE KEEPING BUSY AT HER COMPUTER

With Memorial Day just behind us, I want to continue to draw attention to those who with honor serve  in America's Armed Forces and who willingly risk their lives to keep us free. I feel privileged this week to share a small portrait of one of America's military wives -- Author Anne Greene.  

Anne is married to one of America's honorable servicemen. She delights in writing about alpha heroes who aren’t afraid to fall on their knees in prayer, and about gutsy heroines. Anne writes both historical and suspense novels. She makes her home in McKinney, Texas. She and her hero husband, Army Special Forces Colonel Larry Greene, have visited twenty-five countries.

A visit to Scotland resulted in Anne's award-winning Scottish historical romances, Masquerade Marriage and Marriage By Arrangement. A Texas Christmas Mystery also won awards.



Take the time to look them up on Amazon. Both are excellent reads.

Anne's Women of Courage Series spotlights heroic women of World War II. The first book, Angel With Steel Wings, is also available on Amazon. 


DESPITE THE DANGER 
To escape her past, Mandy McCabe test pilots planes as part of the Women Air Force Service Pilots.
                                             
DESPITE THE OPPOSITION 
Major Harvey Applegate lost his WASP wife and doesn’t want any more women killed on his watch. He fights to close the program.
                                        
DESPITE THE PAST 
They fall in love.  


Shirley: I love the short portrayal  you placed on the back cover. Tell us a little more about this story. 

Anne:  Angels With Steel Wings is a story of a woman in a man’s domain set against the dynamics of World War II is a can’t-miss scenario.  Angels With Steel Wings paints a vivid picture of courageous pilots facing death in the air while struggling with love on the ground, and wraps it up in a unique twist that will challenge all you knew about the “Greatest Generation.” Steeped in history and framed by faith, this is a tale that takes readers into a world now all but forgotten, and lands in a place that touches the heart in a special way. To know how far we have come, we must understand where we started, and Angels With Steel Wings takes us back on a thrilling trip in time that informs as it entertains. I think this is one flight you won’t want to miss.

This book was endorsed by Ace Collins, the bestselling author of numerous books,
including the WW II series, “In the President’s Service.”

Shirley: Your second series takes us again to Texas. 

Anne:  It's called: Handcuffed In Texas. The first book, Holly Garden, PI, Red Is For Rookie, now available on Amazon.


RED IS FOR RACE
Tracking a kidnapper is an unusual assignment for a private investigator. But Matt is Holly’s lifelong friend. During the race to save him, Holly discovers a lot more than she bargained for. Matt’s in love with her.

RED IS FOR RISK 
Holly’s world has never been more dangerous. Her mother’s convinced Holly will end up dead. Holly needs Stryker’s savvy and expertise and is eager for his help, though she risks her heart with the danger-loving man.
                                                           

RED IS FOR REVENGE 
Stryker’s past returns to haunt him. The kidnapper wants revenge. Stryker’s willing to give his life for the woman he loves. The risky, revenge race transforms Holly from a Rookie into a Pro. But between the two men turning her life upside down, can Holly take the heat?

Anne: Holly Garden, PI, Red Is For Rookie, is the first book in a new Stephanie Plum-type mystery series. Except Holly has a Christian world view.

A rookie private investigator tracks a kidnapper poised to kill her best male friend. Will she find her friend in time to save his life? A seasoned PI from a competing firm dogs her footsteps. So why is she falling for the guy? Will she trust her heart to the life-long friend or the danger-addicted PI?

In this first book, Holly progresses from rookie to experienced PI. She gains confidence in her ability to perform her job. She grows from questioning her career choice to realizing she’s in the center of God’s will. She discovers she can be a Christian light in the dark world of criminals. She recovers from being left at the altar and having no love life and discovers two to-die-for men love her. She’s primed for the new PI job the Lord sends her way.

Shirley: This book has also won awards I understand.

Anne:  HOLLY won 2nd place in the Daphne du Maurier contest, finaled in the Genesis Contest, won 2nd place in the Fool For Love contest, and 3rd place in the Heart of the Rockies contests.

Shirley:  Before we share an excerpt of HOLLY,  what motivates you to write?

Anne: My highest hope is that my stories transport the reader to an awesome new world and touch hearts to seek a deeper spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus.

Shirley: Do you have a scripture that inspires you?

Anne:  My scripture comes from three verses in Psalm 37: Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn.


Shirley:  How can the readers learn more about you?

Anne: Visit me at http://www.AnneGreeneAuthor.com.
I also write a novel teaching class at my blog www.anneswritingupdates.blogspot.com.


I am also looking forward to giving away a print book 
to one person who leaves a comment. 



LEAVE US A COMMENT. 
TELL US WHAT DRAWS YOUR ATTENTION TO A BOOK AND WHY


THE GENRE? 
THE COVER? 
THE BRIEF DESCRIPTION ON THE BACK COVER?
THE ENDORSEMENTS? 
THE AWARDS AND NOMINATIONS? 
THE AUTHOR? 
AN EXCERPT?


HOLLY GARDEN EXCERPT

As I turned away to retrace my surveillance route, my gaze swept across a man I hadn’t noticed before. He stood near the ballroom door with his back to me. I did a double-take. An off-duty cop. I could spot one a mile away. The way he walked, stood, and observed his surroundings. A cop couldn’t disguise his identity. Calm, professional, strong, he looked as though he controlled the world. With legs braced wide, right foot behind, he kept his piece away from the crowd. Even from the rear the guy looked cocky.
    
Someone touched my shoulder. I jumped. While I’d been eyeing the cop, Matt had crossed to my side of the room.
     
“Who invited the police?” Matt jabbed a thumb toward the ballroom door.
     
“My question exactly. Maybe one of the rich types demanding extra protection. Or maybe the cop’s moonlighting as a bodyguard.”
     
Matt rubbed his clean-shaven chin. “Maybe. Don’t know.”
     
“Whatever. I’ll find out.”
   
“You do that.” Matt sauntered back to patrol his side of the ballroom.
      
I planned to check the cop out, but didn’t want to meet him this way. I had an image to project. I was an investigator. A professional. Strong. Independent. Cool. Granted, I had a lot to learn, but I sure didn’t want to be seen on Valentine’s night appearing to shop for a man at a meet-a-thon. In a town as closely-connected as Dallas, if we met in the line of fire–and I had no doubt we would—he’d never take me seriously. Some time tonight I’d inform him I was actually working.
    
I policed my half of the room then headed back toward the Champion Wrestler table.
      
Big, warm fingers grasped my arm with just enough pressure to make me brake and take notice. The dark-haired, fine-looking man extended his other hand. A sense of recognition nagged me. But I didn’t know him.    
    
He sat with his back to the wall at the Attorney table catty-cornered to the wrestlers’ enclave. I shook his waiting hand, feeling warmth and solid strength I hadn’t expected to find in a lawyer’s grip. He wore his dark suit like other men wore uniforms. Daring. Proud. Indomitable. Candlelight reflected mystery in his brown eyes. With the kind of smile you see on a man given an unexpected dish of ice cream, he stood and offered me the empty chair his polished wingtips had guarded. With the chair now free, a bevy of females flew over from different tables and circled him.
      
 “Sit a while.” 
     
His compelling expression excluded everyone in the room but me. It was an invitation I didn’t want, but my feet, aching from the unaccustomed spike heels, did. So I slid into the seat.
     
“Thanks, but just for a minute.”
     
Sophisticated women glared—shoppers vying for the attorney’s attention. He flashed them a smile and motioned to the nearby Champion Wrestler table. “Those men want to meet you.”
     
 “I’ll be back.” One woman, wearing heavy eye liner, trailed her hand along the top of the attorney’s chair and threw him a seductive glance before she moved away. The other ladies stepped over to the strong men’s den.
    
“Thanks, man.” One wrestler nodded, his long blonde hair falling into his square-jawed face.
     
I turned to the attorney, a real James Bond type. Unwanted sparks ignited my insides. Too intense to be handsome and too electric to be ignored, he was big, tense, and concentrated. I’d never met a man who looked so ready for adventure.
        
Here was trouble masquerading as charm.
       
“They’re gonna love this at the office,” Bond drawled.
     
I blinked. The heat in his eyes warmed me like sun-melted chocolate. The challenge in his steady gaze stiffened my backbone.
      
“The office?” I noticed the bulge under his armpit not quite hidden by his well-fitting dark suit jacket. Tingles trilled my spine.
         
“Stryker Black. You’re Holly Garden.”

Recognition hit me. The out-of-uniform cop I’d spotted standing in the foyer with his back to me. How had he settled in so quickly? His proximity caused my eyelid to do its thing. Most people never see my twitch. I hoped Stryker didn’t. The quivers make me look unprofessional.
    
“How do you know my name?”
            
“Looked up your file at our office.”
            
Suspicion brought sudden anger biting into me like the Genesis serpent. To keep my temper in check I whispered. “You’re a police officer?”
            
“Used to be. Now a PI. Ace Investigations.”
            
I shot to my feet, snagged a four-inch stiletto on the chair rung and lurched forward, catching the table’s edge to keep from landing in his lap.
            
“I knew it!” Mom.

With my nose inches from his ear, his masculine scent broke through my protective aura. Trying not to breathe in his woodsy, nautical aroma, I scooted away.
            
Because I wasn’t breathing freely, my whisper sounded weird and nasal. “I want you to leave. At once.”
            
“Why should I?”
            
I stared and forgot to lower my voice. “You’re not needed.”
            
The four lawyers seated around Stryker perked up. Fat and thin, they gazed at me like I was a valuable bequest in a contested will. One leaned so far forward on the table his French cuff dipped into his coffee.
            
Stryker remained cool. “I’m sure you’re acquainted with a lady named Violet Garden.” 
            
My palms turned sweaty.
            
My own mother thought I couldn’t fill Dad’s shoes. She thought I didn’t have the guts to be a detective. She thought I’d fail. Knees weak, I slid back into the chair and gazed down. My fingers itched to fiddle with the clasp on my glittery bag, but I held them still. I couldn’t let the PI see how his words curdled my self-esteem.
           
“Security was the word Ms. Garden used.”
            
I spoke low, not wanting anyone else to hear. “She didn’t. She couldn’t.” I clamped my lips. He didn’t need to know how his words upset me.
            
“Hard to believe?” He gave me a hard-boiled, tight-lipped Bogart smile.
            
Sitting so close, he didn’t look like a cop. Or a PI for that matter. More like a very, very sexy bad guy. Mafia or something. My throat closed. How could Mom do this to me?
            
“Mom asked for you? Personally?”   

“She asked for Ace’s top man.” His dark eyes spoke of secrets, hinted of danger. Pulled me in even as they warned me off.
            
I whispered, “Luck of the draw?”
            
We’d been talking in hushed tones, but now the PI, a beguiling smirk on his face, spoke louder. “I won the lottery.”
           
One lawyer said, “I’ve got to remember that line.”
            
The other lawyers grunted agreement.
            
Their responses helped me regain my poise. I turned back to the PI.

“Okay, you work for our competition . . . and you’re here?” I’d staked out Ace Investigations to see what I was up against, so why hadn’t I laid eyes on him there? And he was an eyeful. Plus he was feeding me a line. And good at it. Too good.

I scooted my chair away from him. Not that long ago I’d been dumped by another charmer. I wasn’t about to nibble this bait.
            
Even if I had wanted to chance another romance, God laid out other plans for me. I had a new vocation. I had Dad’s murder to solve and his reputation to sanitize. I needed to prove to the city of Dallas and its entire police force that Dad hadn’t been a dirty Private Investigator. If I failed, our investigative firm would dribble on down the drain. I lifted my chin. Even if I had time to spend with a man, I’d never choose this smoothie. But, I did need to size up the competition.
            
Investigator Rule Number One – know your enemy.
            
So, I did an about face and turned on the sugar. “Stryker, is it?” I smiled sweetly. “I thought I had every PI in Dallas pegged. Glad to meet you.”
            
Stryker’s focused expression didn’t change. “Likewise.” He laid a strong hand on my bare arm, raising the hair with a single light touch. “Stay a minute more. Tell me about yourself.”
            
A male voice interrupted Stryker. “Let’s be judicious here. Fair’s fair. There’re four attorneys at this table and one lovely woman. Time to share. My name’s Jeff Davidson of Davidson, Hillyer & Greene. I’m sure you’ve heard of my firm. And this is . . . .”
            
While Jeff introduced the other three suits, Stryker leaned back and scanned the room, doing his security thing. With me quickly shaking hands around the table, the trio of women who’d huddled around Stryker earlier made their move. Rising from the nearby Champion Wrestler table as if directed by an unseen choreographer, they mobbed Stryker.
            
I sucked in a breath. His mouth hanging ajar, Stryker looked stunned. Three wrestlers stood too, pushed aside their chairs, and towered over Stryker. I glimpsed Matt striding across the ballroom toward us, security face on.
            
The big blond wrestler, who seemed to be their leader, rasped, “We wasn’t just twiddling our thumbs over here. We was talking with these ladies.” His expression looked downright testy. He raised a fist, looking about to deck Stryker.
            
The three glamour girls stepped away from Stryker and melted into the crowd.

Prepared to intervene, I grabbed my purse and wriggled to the edge of my seat, curious to see what Stryker would do. This was plain screwy. Were the wrestlers trying to pick a fight?
            
Stryker’s face grew leaner, showing clear bone definition. A paper-thin scar slicing through his cleft chin whitened. He stood and faced the three muscled men, their crimson cummerbunds flashing.
“So?”
            
“So, we want our ladies back.”
            
“Take them.”
            
“Cool it you guys.” I unclasped my purse, thinking I might need my gun.
            
The fourth wrestler jumped to his feet, tipping his chair backward. It landed with a thud on the carpeted floor. A solid wall of red cummerbunds circled Stryker. I shot off my chair. One mat-pounder grabbed my arm and hauled me toward his table.

“We want this one too.”
            
I jerked my arm loose. My abrupt movement caused my ankle to turn in one of the tricky stilettos.

“Yeow!” I stumbled. Before I could catch my balance, I lost the shoe on my twisted ankle, and fell to my knees.
            
Events fast-forwarded. Two wrestlers pummeled Stryker. Someone kicked my evening bag. On hands and knees, I chased it under the Attorney Table to rescue my gun. I glimpsed Matt confronting the other two wrestlers, and attempted to squirm out to escort the muscle-jocks to the nearest exit. Crouched on hands and knees, my dress tightened around me like shrink wrap and stopped me cold.
            
A lawyer squatted beside me. “Let me help—”

One of the wrestlers slammed him backward with an open palm. With a crash and tinkle of broken glass, the table flipped onto its side. A white and silver rain of crockery and cutlery poured down. A plate of romaine lettuce and blue cheese dressing slapped against my thigh, releasing the odor of salad-splashed velvet. My vision slowed as if I starred in a surreal movie. Mind scanning possible actions, my skirt creeping higher above my knees, I crawled free.
            
Was this a diversion for a robbery? I had to take control. Still on hands and knees, I smelled something acrid and sulfuric. The lighted candle centerpiece smoldered at the edge of the tablecloth. With a soft whoosh, flames leapt to life. I grabbed the closest thing at hand, a large slab of prime rib probably from the same uneaten place setting as the salad, and beat the flames with the semi-rare meat until they died in wisps of smoke beneath charred beef. Smelling cooked steak mixed with scorched hair and fearful of what I would find, I touched my eyebrows and bangs. Crispy but still there.
            
Gasps and murmurings told me the crowd grew around us. Heavy feet shuffled and I jerked my hand back to keep it from getting trampled. Fists struck flesh accompanied by grunts and colorful language. I couldn’t believe such a brouhaha erupted in our little corner of the big room with so little provocation. Something smelled fishy and it wasn’t the shrimp cocktail sauce dripping onto the carpet. I was about to spring to my feet when a body thudded to within an inch of me and lay still.
            
Stryker. One look at Stryker’s bloody face and I all but keeled over him.

My pulse spiked, pushing me into Unthinking Mode. Okay, so I lost it here. Thoughts of my job flew out the window. But only for a few seconds.

Still on my knees, I fished in my clutch for my cell, and dialed 911. Dead zone. Resisting the urge to throw the instrument at a wrestler, I dropped the useless thing back into my purse.
As quickly as the commotion started, it ended. The dull thud of fists on flesh died. Fingers and knees digging into the thick carpet, I lifted one hand and pressed two fingers against the carotid artery in Stryker’s muscular neck. Warm skin. Steady pulsing.
            
Lord, please don’t let him be badly hurt.
            
With all quiet above me, I assumed Matt held everything under control. I loosened Stryker’s red power tie and rubbed his big, limp hand between both of mine. His lashes, fanned across those high cheekbones, looked longer than any man had a right to own. Other than being a little bloody and lying motionless, he looked fine. Too fine. But I didn’t have to remind myself that Mom hired him. A twinge of joy that it was him, not Matt or me lying on the floor, layered in an uncomfortable guilt that squashed the relief, so I said another quick prayer for the competition PI.

He groaned and his eyelids fluttered.
            
Men’s polished dress shoes, accompanied by glittering high heels, moved close enough for me to touch. One wrestler squatted next to me. “Here, let me—”
            
“No. Don’t touch him.” I swatted the man’s beefy hand away from Stryker.
            
Stryker opened his eyes, relieving my worry about him. But Mom would arrive any minute for her grand entrance, and I desperately wanted her to gawk at her security being carried away in an ambulance.

So I said to the wrestler, “I’ve got to call EMS.”
            
Furor at the ballroom doors made me look up. “That was fast. Matt must have gotten through to EMS.” But doubt nagged my brain. Too fast. Way too fast.
            
Before I could follow up my hunch, the crowd opened up and two blue-uniformed men, carrying oxygen paraphernalia, a stretcher, and a medical kit hustled to the table.
            
The EMS team ignored Stryker who lay concealed by a drooping tablecloth, with only his long legs and feet protruding. One Medic knelt beside another stretched-out body. I struggled to my feet, red dress hiked almost mid-thigh, to identify the victim.
            
“Matt!” I rushed over in time to see the medic jab a syringe into my co-investigator’s limp arm.
            
Electrical impulses spiked my nerves. I’d never seen an emergency team do that. The first medic finished a cursory check for broken bones, then both men heaved Matt onto the stretcher and hustled him through the crowded ballroom.
            
Juggling on one four-inch heel and one bare foot, I elbowed my way through the crowd after them. “Which hospital?”
            
They mumbled something incoherent and disappeared through the hotel’s exterior door.
            
Lord, please take care of Matt. He’s a good friend. Keep him safe.
           
I started after them.
            
The blond wrestler clutched my arm, stopping me from following them out to the ambulance. Then he smiled crookedly, straightened his bow tie, and righted his cummerbund.

“Don’t look so worried, the PI’s in good hands.”
            
I stiffened. “How do you know Matt’s a PI?”
            
The wrestler frowned and clamped his lips.
            
Shivers snaked my spine. Something was very wrong.







                         





Wednesday, May 20, 2015

REMEMBERING






HAVE A BLESSED MEMORIAL WEEKEND AS TOGETHER 
WE REMEMBER AND HONOR 
THOSE WHO DIED 
THAT WE COULD BE FREE 

LET FREEDOM RING 









 



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

That Unforgettable Power of Forgiveness

Join me in getting to know Pepper. 


Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She’s a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a mom of five, a speech-language pathologist, and a lover of chocolate. She enjoys sprinkling her native Appalachian culture into her fiction whenever she can. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she works with kids with special needs, searches for unique hats, and plots new ways to annoy her wonderful friends at her writing blog, The Writer’s Alley. She is represented by Julie Gwinn and her debut novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in April 2015. 


The Thorn Bearer 

When Ashleigh Dougall's fiancĂ© leaves her eight months before their wedding, the unexpected blow ignites a battalion of insecurities stemming from her father’s intimate betrayal. Her worst fears are confirmed – who could ever love a soiled woman?

In an attempt to escape her shame, Ashleigh boards the ill-fated Lusitania to cross the war-torn waters of Europe. Much to her dismay, she isn’t traveling alone.

Sam Miller is always making up for his best friend’s mistakes. Determined to help his childhood friend, Ashleigh, he offers his compassion and companionship as she ventures across a perilous sea. With the faint hope of renewing his lost love for Ashleigh’s sister, Sam never expects to find the woman of his dreams in the love of his best friend.

As they travel across the Atlantic, neither is prepared for the life-altering and heart-breaking journey of their friendship.

When the truth of Ashleigh’s past explodes in the middle of a hospital in England and Sam rejects her, Ashleigh must decide if God is enough – or if the double weight of her betrayal and past will crush her life forever.



SDC: Welcome to A Pen for Your Thoughts and Mine, Pepper. Your book sounds great already.  And I love the cover. Why did you choose to write this particular story?

Pepper: To show the power of forgiveness.

SDC:  That's a strong premise. Tell us more.

Pepper: This story bloomed from a small seed of a question. What if a person was wounded so deeply he/she “couldn’t” forgive? How would unforgiveness shape them? Change them?

Based on my own experience and stories shared by women who have walked the wounded road my main character, Ashleigh, walked, I began to develop this story: where war wages on the inside and the outside. It was interesting that as the story grew, so did the many ways in which we see ‘forgiveness’ threads played out in various different characters' lives.

SDC: This sounds like it would be great in a series. Have you considered that?

Pepper:  The Thorn Bearer is Book 1 from the Penned in Time series.

SDC:  Sounds perfect. What will Book 2 be called?  

Pepper: Book 2 comes out in March 2016. It’s called The Thorn Keeper and is the romantic story of two of the secondary characters you meet in Book 1.

SDC: I look forward to getting to know your characters then. Will you have more in store for your readers after this series is complete?

Pepper: In December 2015, my first contemporary romance novel comes into print. It is called A Twist of Faith and is a modern day retelling of Pygmalion/My Fair Lady, set in Appalachia.

SDC: Great title. Give us a hint about it too.

Pepper: Cattle farmer meets a hard-headed speech-language pathology professor.

SDC: Hard-headed, huh? :) Oh my. Sounds like you might have found your subject matter right in your own backyard too. Not the hard-headed part, but the speech-language pathology professor. 

Pepper: Yes.  And since speech pathology is my 'other' profession, I really had a fun time writing this story.

SDC: I'll bet you did. Before we go, please tell us where our readers can find your book and also learn a little more about you.


Pepper: The Thorn Bearer can be found  in both print and digitally right now at Amazon. It is also available for NOOK books.

SDC:  And where can we connect directly with you?

Pepper: Come on by my website. 
I'm also on Facebook.  
I'm also on Twitter. https://twitter.com/pepperbasham   
     

SDC: It's been great getting to know a little about you and your books, Pepper and having the opportunity to share you with those who come  A Pen for Your Thoughts and Mine.  I wish you the best with your writing and especially your  new book, The Thorn Bearer. It sounds like an excellent read.