Supporting Those Affected by PTSD

E.A. West:

Have you ever wondered about PTSD? What it is, how to cope if someone you know suffers from it, and where you can learn more? Check out this interview with Welby O’Brien, author and founder of Love Our Vets. She shares some excellent information, and there are links scattered throughout the interview to resources and more info.

Originally posted on Quid Pro Quills:

Have you ever wondered how to help suffering individuals? Today, we discuss Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and discover how to support survivors of traumatic events.

downloadI’m honored to welcome author Welby O’Brien to the Quid Pro Quills. Welby is crazy about her veteran husband, who battles PTSD. She founded the spouse/family support network Love Our Vets PTSD Family Support, LLC, and wrote the book LOVE OUR VETS: Restoring Hope for Families of Veterans with PTSD. Although she has a Master’s Degree in counseling, most of what she shares comes from daily life.

QPQ: Thank you so much for joining us, Welby.
WO: It’s a blessing to help people know about PTSD and share that there is hope.

QPQ:  What is PTSD and what causes it?
WO:  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder results from exposure to an experience that is horrific or life-threatening. The whole person gets locked…

View original 886 more words

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Guest Blogger – Author Krysten Lindsay Hager

Please welcome my fellow Astraea Press author Krysten Lindsay Hager! She’s here today to tell us about her book bucket list.

My Book Bucket List by Krysten Lindsay Hager

Every so often, I get tagged in one of those social media games where people ask you to check off how many classics you’ve actually read off some list of 100 of the great books of all time. I was an English major. I should have a perfect score—right? Not exactly. Well, if I’m honest, I can speed read, I have been known to dabble in Cliff Notes in a crunch (don’t judge me, you’ve seen your share of those bright yellow stripe-y books yourself), and I could always absorb just enough info about a book in a class to skim through and gain a basic understanding of a novel. To put it mildly, college was not always a place where you could take the time to enjoy a classic when you were just trying to get through it to pass an exam or write a paper. And don’t get me started on when the literature categories come up on Jeopardy! People expect me to know the answers and I get the snarky comments about it all the time. All. The. Time.

So I’ve decided that it’s time to put my money where my mouth is (that’s normally where chocolate goes) and create a book bucket list for myself. I’m going to just start with just five because that seems doable. And I’m not going to put on anything that seems like I should read it if it really doesn’t apply to me. Like my eighth grade character Landry, in True Colors, The Call of the Wild did/does nothing for me and therefore Jack London need not apply here.

Now before I start, please don’t judge me and say in disbelief, “You never read that? Really?” because there are some books that were assigned and I don’t know how to explain it other than to say that the story didn’t stick with me. I can’t remember the plot, characters, etc. I know I read it, I remember turning the pages, yet if you were to quiz me on it I’d fail. Yes, Persuasion, I’m looking in your direction.

So here, in no particular order is my Book Bucket List:

  1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. This one seems like I’m taking on too much, doesn’t it? You’re probably thinking, no, this is above her, but hear me out. I did love the movie and I got very into Anna Karenina and I do like Russian lit, so this might be doable. If nothing else the sheer size of it will come in handy should I need to kill a spider.
  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Somewhere along the line I got the reputation for being a huge Jane Austen fan. I guess I must have made a comment or something that implied that over the years, but while I’ve had Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion assigned in class, I’m pretty sure this one never was. I know the basic idea of it, seen a few remakes of it, but read it? Nope.
  3. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I love Scott. LOVE him, but never finished this one. So if I’m going to call him my literary boyfriend then I better read it. Otherwise it’s like I’m cheating on him and I refuse to betray him that way.
  4. The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy. My main reason for putting this on the list is that my dad loved this book when he was assigned it in class years ago. In fact, he wanted to name me Eustacia Vye. My mom considered it thinking I could go by either, “Stacia,” or “Vye,” but in the end decided each roll call on the first day of school might be too much for me. I have the book sitting on my shelf upstairs and it’s about time to take it down and read it.
  5. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. See the movie and the remake, love the area and setting, so I feel this one should be included on the list. It sounds like the perfect cold weather, rainy day reading, doesn’t it?

And one bonus book, if I should find myself finishing those five. My good friend, David, who I lost almost three years ago, loved William Faulkner. He tried to get me to read, As I Lay Dying, for an online book club that we sadly never got to do. It was favorite, so I may tackle Faulkner in David’s honor.

So what are the books that would make it onto your book bucket list? I’d love to hear the titles, so please leave them in the comments!

True Colors cover artBlurb

Landry Albright just wants to be one of the interesting girls at school who always have exciting things going on in their lives. She wants to stand out, but also wants to fit in, so she gives in when her two best friends, Ericka and Tori, push her into trying out for a teen reality show modeling competition with them. Landry goes in nervous, but impresses the judges enough to make it to the next round. However, Ericka and Tori get cut and basically “unfriend” her on Monday at school. Landry tries to make new friends, but gets caught up between wanting to be herself and conforming to who her new friends want her to be. Along the way she learns that modeling is nowhere as glamorous as it seems, how to deal with frenemies, a new crush, and that true friends see you for who you really are and like you because of it.

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True Colors is available from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Smashwords. Check out the book trailer here.

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About the Author

photo of author Krysten Lindsay Hager

Krysten Lindsay Hager is an author and book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and also writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. TRUE COLORS is her bestselling debut novel from Astraea Press. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and currently resides in Southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing. She received her master’s in American Culture from the University of Michigan-Flint.

Connect with Krysten:

Website: http://www.krystenlindsay.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KrystenLindsayHagerAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KrystenLindsay

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Book Spotlight – For Love Alone by Teresa Howard

Please welcome my fellow Astraea Press author Teresa Howard! She’s here today with her new romance, For Love Alone.

For Love Alone cover artBlurb

Summer Skye Danvers

Summer changes like a shifting kaleidoscope from a naïve southern belle to the elusive Duchess of Tyndale to a mother, to a widow. Through it all, she loves one man, Lord Charles Zachery Clayton, the Earl of Somerset. Will she ever possess him as her own?

Lord Charles Zachery “Chaz” Clayton

Since Summer was little more than a toddler, she held a special place in Chaz’s heart. Indeed, she has been the guiding force throughout his life, though neither of the star-crossed lovers knew just how much until they are forced to wed. But will she ever be his wife in more than name only?

Summer and Chaz share joy, loss, danger, tragedy and rebirth. Through it all, their loves thrives. But the road to their happily ever after is strewn with obstacles. Will their love survive the challenges that face them?

In a world where marriage is a matter of politics and property, can they ever marry just for love alone?

 

Excerpt

“Why didn’t you tell her how you feel?” Nate asked once they were alone.

 

Skye’s despair turned to anger. Tears welled in her eyes. She dropped her gaze to hide her feelings and stared at the hands clutched in her lap.

 

“What would you have me say, Nate? Would you have me beg and plead? Wail like an infant because I am being sacrificed to a man old enough to be my father? Sacrificed so that I might erase the scandal created by my father, a man whose only sin was wanting to be loved by a flesh and blood woman other than his daughters, the father who promised that I could marry for love alone, even if he did not. Especially since he did not.”

 

“Well, I wouldn’t put it quite that way. She is our mother, after all. But you might have mentioned that you are opposed to this marriage.”

 

Skye felt her brother looking down upon her. She couldn’t bear to meet his gaze. He would see her pain. And no one must see her pain. “I mentioned it often enough to have postponed the event for five years. Not an easy task considering Tyndale’s desire for an heir. An heir I will strive to give him.”

 

Placing his gloved hand beneath her chin, he lifted her face. “You’re following the same path as Father. An arranged marriage, devoid of love. It can only lead to disaster.”

 

She covered his hand with her own. “No. I will not make Papa’s mistakes. I am stronger. I must be. Mother needs this alliance with Tyndale. Papa’s—” her voice broke “—death and betrayal destroyed her safe, secure world. She can’t leave this house for the scandal he created.”

 

Her grip tightened unconsciously. “Gracious Nate, he died in another woman’s home — one that he provided for her. As a Christian, I don’t judge him. After all, I don’t know what was in his heart at the moment of his death. And as a daughter, I make allowances for him. I loved and respected him. I always will.”

 

Though her words were powerful, her voice was flat, as if she were bloodless, dispassionate. So unlike the girl she had once been. She could see worry reflected in Nate’s eyes. But this was her way of coping with the pain… the loss… the future.

 

“As a woman, I understand mother’s position. She has to get away from here, but it can’t look like she’s running away.”

 

“Surely things are not bad enough to send the two of you fleeing across the sea.”

 

“You have to know what mother’s been through to understand. Her dearest friends pity her. You know mama’s pride. She can’t bear the shame. She’s hurt and she’s scared and she’s desperate.”

 

Unconsciously, she straightened, trying to appear more substantial than she felt. “She wasn’t reared to withstand a scandal like this, and she certainly wasn’t reared to live in a world where Yankees might burn the house down over our heads at any moment.”

 

Pain darkened her gaze. “And tomorrow, after Tyler joins you in this insane war, strangers will run Crimson Hills. Strangers, Nate. Mama can’t bear to see that. If I marry his grace and mama accompanies me to England, she can come home one day, after the war, when it’s safe… after the scandal dies down. When you boys are home to take care of her and Crimson Hills, she can return in triumph, as the mother of a duchess.”

 

Nate pulled her to her feet. He held her by the shoulders, looked deep into her eyes, trying to see into her very soul. “What about you, birdie? Marriage is forever. Are you willing to sacrifice yourself?”

 

“I will do as I must.” When he made to argue again, she pressed her fingertips against his lips. “Please Nate, I’ve accepted my fate.” Her voice broke slightly. “Don’t make this any harder for me than it already is.”

 

Nodding, he kissed the tips of her fingers then brought her hand to his heart. “You are a remarkable woman, Skye Danvers.”

 

“I pray to God Almighty that you are right.”

 

“I’m always right.” He dimpled.

 

She smiled as he intended. “I love you, Nate.”

 

“And I love you, Skye birdie.” His gaze suddenly turned mischievous. “You haven’t asked when your prospective bridegroom will arrive.”

 

“When?”

 

“He won’t.”

 

“I don’t understand.”

 

“He sent someone to stand proxy in the ceremony.” He paused for emphasis. “An old friend of yours.”

 

“Gil?”

 

“No.”

 

Skye felt a sense of foreboding.

 

“Tyndale was occupied with affairs of state and unable to leave the Isle. So he asked Chaz…”

 

Skye no longer heard her brother for the roar in her ears. It was the far side of too much. The same afternoon Chaz had stolen her heart, her sixteenth birthday, he had made her promise to marry for love alone. Now he would make that an impossibility. A fist of betrayal squeezed her heart. Her last girlhood dream slipped through her fingers.

But she twitched not so much as an eyelash.

 

~~

For Love Alone is available from most online retailers.

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About the Author

photo of author Teresa HowardTeresa Howard is to historical romance novels what roses are to Valentine’s Day. This alluring southern belle has been delighting her audience with delectable tales of forbidden love, set in amazing times and places. Through her growing collection of novels, her readers can escape to a gentler time and experience the thrill of unbridled passion again and again.

For more information, please visit http://teresahoward.net

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New Release – Emerald Street by Felicia Rogers

Please welcome my fellow Astraea Press author Felicia Rogers! She’s here today to celebrate the release of the third book in the Wounded Soldiers Series, Emerald Street.

Emerald Street cover artBlurb

What if one laugh changed your world?

Raylyn Morrison, a critical care nurse for wounded soldiers, has a problem. She cares too much. Dreams haunt her. The death of her patients leaves her distraught and seeking peace. But temporary peace is not enough. She doesn’t want to leave, but she needs to. Then he comes along.

Staff Sergeant Jack Williams understands loss — physical, emotional, and spiritual. Not only did the war take his leg, but it took his family and his desire to live. But the voice of an angel keeps him going. A voice he dreams about even after he wakes from a coma. Yet when they meet she is nothing like he expected and he wonders if he’s made mistake.

Fate destines them to be together forever, he’s sure of it, but something goes wrong and Raylyn disappears. She leaves a hole that only service can fill.

Chiapas, Mexico, is the perfect setting to forget her loss and work on her future. But when Jack reappears in her life, she worries her heart will break again. But after two years, she should be over him. Right? Do her new fears have a foundation or should she give in and allow herself to love him once more?

While residing in a country with a rich history and a tumultuous future, Jack must convince Raylyn he never stopped loving her…before it is too late.

Excerpt

“Can I join you?”

She jumped, surprised to hear Jack’s voice. Swallowing, she held out her hand. “Please.”

He took a seat. “I didn’t expect to see you here.”

“I don’t have any food.” Way to go, just blurt out something stupid.

He smiled and played with a folded napkin. “Neither do I. I’ve been eating in some of the restaurants here on the strip. Believe it or not, they have practically anything you might want.”

“I noticed that.”

“Did you order already?” he asked.

“I did.”

“So did I. I asked them to bring it here. That is, if you don’t mind.”

She shook her head. They sat quietly, and she winked and whispered, “Are you going to show me some more of your fancy dance moves?”

He laughed under his breath. “I’m not sure. Would you like me to?”

She smiled. “Only if you’re going to move your hips again.”

He laughed heartily and stood to his feet. She reached for his arm to pull him back down, but he’d already confiscated a rose and placed it in his mouth. The guests clapped as he danced around the room. Did anyone notice the slight hop to his step? The plastic prosthesis peeked out from under the hem of his pants. She looked away and forced herself to watch his happy face. Hands clasped atop the table, she tapped her feet to the music.

A smile widened across her face as Jack drew close and moved his arms like a wave in her direction. She shook her head. No way was he getting her to dance. He bent at the waist, his nose almost touching hers.

“Come on, it’ll be fun.”

Chin lowered to her chest, she tried to avoid his intense stare. The crowd cheered as he enacted fancy footwork before her table in an attempt to get her attention. Heat flushed her cheeks at the thought of his hands guiding her.

He snatched her hand and drew her to her feet. Warmth encased her entire body as he held one of her hands high above their heads and laid the other on her waist. He guided the movement of her hips, and her heart raced. Tingles raced along her spine, and she fought her rising attraction.

Jack held her close and nodded his head for her to take the rose from his teeth. Awkwardly, she complied, and he twirled her out. Her heart hammered so loud in her chest, she couldn’t hear.
He moved his hands to her waist. Others in the crowd stood and followed suit. Soon there was a line rounding the restaurant’s interior. The song ended, and they fell into their seats, laughing.

“You have a beautiful smile, mi tesoro.”

Heat flooded her cheeks. No one had ever called her their treasure. She smoothed a wayward hair behind her ear and prayed for a distraction. Still, her flesh tingled from his touch, and she ached to regain his nearness.

~~

Emerald Street is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and most online retailers.

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Emerald Street is a contemporary inspirational suspense romance and the sequel to Diamond Mine and Pearl Valley. Want to know what readers are saying about Emerald Street?

“Gripping!! Felicia Rogers does a masterful job of telling a gripping story that is emotionally packed. It gives a realistic perspective on just how prevalent injustice towards Christians exists in parts of the world… You will not put this book down unmoved.” –Yolanda Gamble, reader

“Felicia has once again marvelously brought 2 extremely likable characters to life. The story of Raylyn and Jack seems so real that I couldn’t help but laugh, cry, and gasp throughout the book. I loved seeing old favorites again from Diamond Mine (if you haven’t read that book it is a must!) and meeting new ones.” –Danielle Williams, reader

About the Author

photo of author Felicia RogersFelicia Rogers is an author of multiple novels and novellas. When she’s not writing, Felicia volunteers with the Girl Scouts of America, teaches at a local homeschooling group, hikes, and spends time with her family.

To find out more information about Felicia Rogers visit the sites below. She loves hearing from her readers.

Connect with Felicia online

Website: http://www.feliciarogersauthor.weebly.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FeliciaRogersAuthor

Email: feliciarogersauthor@yahoo.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/feliciarogers

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New Release – At First Sight by Mya O’Malley

Please welcome my fellow Astraea Press author Mya O’Malley! She’s here today with her new sweet romance novel, At First Sight.

At First Sight cover artBlurb

Modern love can be a headache. Just ask Annie Morgan, who, recently divorced, finds herself in the middle of the proverbial online dating jungle. Making a deal with her best friend, Annie agrees to go out on exactly five online dates out of seventy-six potential suitors.

Shane Nicholls was jaded, he had his heart broken and never got over the hurt. Now, convinced that all women are trouble, he avoids drama at any cost. Funny thing is, drama seems to find Shane around every corner.

Can Annie, a romantic at heart, find love online or will she find love at first sight the old-fashioned way, by awkward, chance meetings with Shane Nicholls? Through a number of obstacles and heartache, Annie and Shane find that love at first sight really does exist if you truly believe.

Excerpt

Johnny’s was packed. Standing on line to place her order, Annie took in her surroundings. Just as the owner, Johnny, was coming over to take her order, something caught Annie’s eye. The guy near the window, he seemed familiar somehow. Where had she seen him before? He was eating dinner with a pretty brunette. He lifted his head to look at Annie as their eyes locked. On no! It was the guy from the mall, the one she bumped into. She quickly spun around, knocking right into the waitress who was carrying a tray of soft drinks.

Soda soaked her shirt and dripped onto the floor. The waitress was clearly annoyed and appeared like she would have loved to tell Annie off. Instead she rolled her eyes and ran to get a towel. If Annie thought she was embarrassed before, it was nothing compared to how she felt now. Every eye in the place was on her, including the guy from the mall. Helpless to do anything else, she grabbed some napkins and bent down to sop up some of the mess.

“It seems you have a knack for causing a scene everywhere you go.” It was his voice. The voice that filled her head with inappropriate thoughts, with longing. What was she thinking? Did she dare look up? His gaze was a magnet, forcing her to meet his eyes.

His eyes were a warmer brown than she had remembered, drawing her in.

“I…uh…”

“I’m joking. Here, let me help you with that.” He grabbed the napkins from her hand. The heat between them jolted her back. She moved quickly, surprised he could evoke such a reaction from her. Nobody had ever made her feel so exposed before. What was going on here? Annie felt foolish.

“I’m Shane. Shane Nicholls.” He extended his hand to her. They must have appeared to be quite the sight, bending over to clean up the mess while shaking hands.

“Annie.” Annie remembered her new rules of safety in the dating world. One of them was she would not reveal her last name or any other personal information until she was sure the guy wasn’t a stalker or anything.

“Annie. It suits you, I like it.” Annie had almost forgot about the woman waiting for Shane at the table near the window. She glanced over and took in a tight-lipped woman. It hit Annie that this woman was not the same stunning woman from the mall. Hmm, she had met his type before. This guy had “player” written all over him. She quickly brushed herself off and excused herself.

“Hey, Annie. Wait.” He reached for her hand. Annie forgot all about placing her order and made a beeline for the door. She didn’t look back. Well, Annie figured, it looked like it would be Chinese food tonight.

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At First Sight is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Smashwords. Check out the book trailer here.

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About the Author

photo of author Mya O'MalleyMya O’Malley was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City, where she currently lives with her husband, daughter and three step-daughters. The family also consists of two boxers; Destiny and Dolce and a ragdoll cat named Colby. Mya earned an undergraduate degree in special education and a graduate degree in reading and literacy.   She works as a special education teacher and enjoys making a difference in the lives of her students.

 

Mya’s passion is writing; she has been creating stories and poetry since she was a child. Mya spends her free time reading just about anything she can get her hands on. She is a romantic at heart and loves to create stories with unforgettable characters.  Mya likes to travel; she has visited several Caribbean Islands, Mexico and Costa Rica. Mya is currently working on her fifth novel.

Connect with Mya online

Website: http://myaomalley.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/myaomalley

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MyaOmalley

Blog: http://myaomalley.blogspot.com

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/myaomalley

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News and Updates

It’s been a while since I posted an update of all the news in my writing life (and otherwise). It’s been a busy, exciting year so far. As I’m sure you know by now, I had four releases in the first two months of the year — Red: A Weekly Devotional by various Pelican Book Group authors, Love and Diamonds a romance anthology by various Astraea Press authors, Bogotá Blessings (part of the Passport to Romance series from Pelican Book Group), and Wounds of the Heart (short prequel to the Veteran Hearts series). Since then, I’ve stayed busy with writing, revising, edits, and another release at the end of July. That’s on top of the rest of life, which as we all know tends to be crazy on a good day.

 

news

 

My most recent release is also my first YA novel. Different was published by Astraea Press on July 22. The main character, Jezebel Smith, is autistic and goes through some major changes. It was a tough one to write, but I loved the opportunity to explore the world through the eyes of an autistic character again. The book has received some great comments from readers, which I’m absolutely thrilled about. I hope you’ll check out Different and let me know what you think! (Blurb and links are at the bottom of this post.)

This summer brought more good news from Astraea Press. They offered me a contract for my Christmas novella, Running from Christmas. After plenty of happy dancing, I signed the contract. Running from Christmas is an inspirational romance with an army veteran as the heroine. It was an eye-opening experience writing this particular character, and I can’t wait to share my first female veteran main character with you!

At the beginning of July, my new website finally went live. It was a long, tedious, frequently confusing process for me to re-design the thing since it was my first attempt at creating a website design from scratch, but I’m pleased with the final product. If you haven’t already visited it, I’d love for you to check it out and let me know what you think. Even if you have seen my new site, I’d still love to hear from you! Suggestions are always welcome and may be implemented during future updates.

photo of a shepherd mix puppy

Cody playing with a bug. — Copyright © 2014 E.A. West

In other news, I adopted a puppy almost a month ago. He’s a feisty little sweetheart who’s growing like a weed. His feet are huge! Since he’s a mixed breed (German shepherd/Alaskan malamute/red heeler mix), it’s fun trying to figure out just how big he’s going to be. Cody is a smart pup who learns fast and is a creative little guy. While I love the smart dogs, this one has found about a million ways to get himself in trouble… and he’s not quite twelve weeks old! He keeps me busy and drives Paisley (my three-year-old mutt) crazy, but he’s a loved part of the family. At this point, I’m not sure how we got along without him.

I think that’s all the major news for now. For more up-to-the-minute updates, check out my Facebook page. I’m on there nearly every day and post information, news, puppy pictures, and other fun stuff. Hope to see you there!

As promised, here’s the info on Different:

Different cover artBack Cover Blurb

Jezebel Smith is different. She can’t talk, she doesn’t look like anyone in her family, and no matter what she does it’s always the wrong thing. God accepts her for who she is, but He’s the only one who does. Then she finds an unconscious man in her favorite cave, and her life is turned up-side down. New people and new rules collide with the old, leaving Jezebel unsure of which set of rules apply to her life. When the strangers in town attempt to help her out of the nightmare she’s grown up in, it promises to change her life forever.

 

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Different is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Smashwords. Check out an excerpt on my website.

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New Release – Fresh Beginnings by Iris Blobel

Please welcome my fellow Astraea Press author Iris Blobel! She’s here to celebrate the release of her latest novel, Fresh Beginnings.

Fresh Beginnings cover artBlurb

The small town of Hobart in Tasmania has witnessed many beginnings in recent years. At yet one more beginning, the wedding of a friend, Jared Fraser decides it’s time for some fresh beginnings to come his way… And he sets out for a holiday to the US to travel along the Route 66 in a motorhome.

Ivy Bennett thought leaving her boyfriend would be the hard part. It doesn’t take long to figure out how wrong she was. As she struggles with making a new start in her life, the last person she expects to lead her to happiness is a laid-back Australian on holiday.

Then the arrival of family friend Mia Levesque and her boyfriend, Josh, turns Jared’s holidays upside-down when he’s forced to play arbitrator between the two teenagers.

Excerpt

“G’day!” He stared at her and for some reason something tugged at his heart. Not that he wanted that. He had no room for women, let alone American ones. They all were on earth to make life complicated. Mark was constantly running around for Sophie or Hope, even though Mark’s wife was one in a million and little Hope was simply adorable, especially when she was asleep.

“Ya know it’s dangerous to hitch a ride,” he finally said when she was still quiet.

She stared at him for a moment, but then replied with the typical American twang in her voice. “I know you said something, but I have no idea what.”

He chuckled. “It is dangerous to hitchhike,” he repeated with exaggerated pronunciation.

The woman stepped a bit closer to the window. “Are you from Austria?”

He laughed aloud.

“Australia, I meant,” she added, seemingly embarrassed by the mistake.

“I am indeed.” He watched her looking ahead towards the horizon. “So you wanna hitch a ride?”

Jared had a feeling she didn’t want to, but her current situation didn’t give her many choices. There they were in the middle of nowhere, with the next place a fair few miles away.

“Name’s Jared,” he said and then he opened the door and walked around the motorhome. Leaning against the vehicle, he looked at her. She was pretty. Thin, but pretty. When her brown eyes met his, he experienced another one of those heart tugs and wasn’t impressed at all. He tried to look right past her. It wasn’t happening though. They were like magnets.

“Jared,” he repeated and held out his hand.

Her look went right past him into the distance, and he assumed she was fighting with herself, part of her wanting to get off the road, the other part being worried.

“Anybody else travelling with you?” she asked quietly.

He shook his head. “Nope.”

She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and, after a brief moment, reached for his hand. “Nice meeting you.”

Acknowledging that she wasn’t much into sharing details like her name, he opened the door for her. “Where are ya headin’?” he asked.

A smile started in her eyes and played with the corner of her lips. He felt himself smiling back. There was an appreciation in her smile.

“Could you drop me off at the next stop?” she asked hesitantly.

“Most certainly, but where are ya headin?”

She shrugged. “Kingman?”

“Is that on this road?”

Nodding, she said. “Yes, it is. It should be less than a hundred miles along this highway.”

“Then hop in.”

She turned to get into the motorhome, and he took in her small stature and the narrow shoulders which seemed even smaller in her tight, red T-shirt. Jared noticed her cargoes were just hanging onto her hips. A nice steak wouldn’t go astray on these hips. Suddenly she stopped and moved to look at him. “Thank you,” she whispered.

“No worries mate.”

Jared held her gaze and wasn’t sure what to say or do. She simply stood in front of him like frozen.

“My name is Ivy,” she said after a long moment.

“Hedera. An evergreen climbing or ground-creeping woody plant in the family Araliaceae.”

With a frown, she stared at him. “I really didn’t understand that one.”

He laughed. “Sorry, mate. I got carried away. I’m a landscaper. Ivy is a climbing plant.” Scratching the back of his head, he added, slightly self-conscious, “And, of course, a beautiful name.”

There was a small laugh as she stepped into the motorhome. He went around and slid behind the wheel before driving back onto the road. There was a long silence, and Jared wasn’t really sure what to do or say. Usually, he was good with silence. Actually, he loved it. But at that moment, the silence made him uncomfortable.

“So, what brings ya out into the middle of the sticks?”

When there was no reply, he turned and looked at her. There was a big frown on her face, and he sighed.

“I thought you all speak English as well?”

“We do,” she said with a slight giggle. “But I’m not so sure about you Australians.”

With a grin he replied, “Now, don’t be cheeky, Ivy.”

“Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, my mom always said.” She laughed. “No way would I make fun of you.”

“So, you’re expectin’ a meal as well?”

There was a moment of silence again, and he glanced over. The smile was gone and panic was written all over her face.

“I… I didn’t—”

Quickly he reached out for her hand. “I’m pulling your leg.” And when she didn’t reply again, he muttered, “This thing with you Americans not understanding English is turning into a problem. I was kiddin’.”

“Pulling your leg?” She shook her head. “Never heard of it.”

A bark of laughter filled the small space. “Anyway. Talkin’ about food. There’s a small place ahead. Want some lunch?”

~~

Fresh Beginnings is available from Amazon US, Amazon Australia, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

~~

About the Author

Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London as well as Canada where she actually had met her future husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper has only recently emerged, but now her laptop is a constant companion. Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her beautiful two daughters as well as her dog. Next to her job at a private school she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio.

Connect with Iris online

My Blog: www.iris-b.blogspot.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/irisblobel

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4067254.Iris_Blobel

Twitter: @_iris_b

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/iblobel/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/107759085454255573026/posts

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To Dance One More Day by Rachel Jones

Please welcome my fellow Astraea Press author Rachel Jones! She’s here today with her latest book, To Dance One More Day.

To Dance One More Day cover artBlurb

At age thirty-two, Jillian Russell has endured a life time of heartache. Alone in the world, she has also suffered the loss of her dance career. Redirecting her life, she opens the North Carolina Ballet Company. Intent on making it the go-to company for serious performers, she shuts down her personal life while she struggles to build her company into the success she envisions.

As far back as he can remember, trauma surgeon, Alan Armstrong has had a penchant for fixing things. Since his father’s death, the ambition to open a community clinic in a rural area on the eastern coast has directed his actions. Hopeful to prevent future deaths due to lack of medical care, he has made the clinic his top priority.

When Alan’s life intersects with Jillian’s, the connection they both feel is undeniable. As a new board member to her ballet company, Alan is eager to help solve the financial damage of lost federal funding. But he doesn’t stop there. He wants to help her build new relationships to chase the loneliness from her life. As they grow closer, secrets from their pasts cause them to be pulled apart. Will they be able to overcome their pasts to have a future together?

Excerpt

Jillian turned around and as she moved toward him, she tripped over a shoe left behind by someone. She lost her balance and with amazing timing, Alan broke her fall as he caught her by the shoulders. The heat from his hands spread through her body.

Pulling her upright, his hands lingered as he asked, “Are you okay? Your head almost collided with the edge of the bench and it wouldn’t have been pretty.”

Her breath caught in her chest. “Well, I guess my secret is out.” She giggled to hide her embarrassment. “I’m a klutz, except of course, when I’m dancing.”

“So, Ms. Klutz, are you sure you’re all right?” He guided her to sit on the bench. “You didn’t twist your ankle?”

His eyes pierced through her. She was not used to being so closely scrutinized and she felt she was losing control of the situation. One more flash of those dimples and she might cave.

“No, my ankle is fine. I’m good. So you said there was something you wanted to mention.” He must think I’m a klutz, first the water on his pants and now tripping over my feet. Looking up, she saw his eyes remained fixed on her.

“Are you sure you can’t skip rehearsal and go to dinner with me?” He removed his hands from her shoulders and reclaimed his seat.

“Somehow I think it would send the wrong message about professional obligations if I decided to cut rehearsal tonight.”

His head bobbed slowly up and down. He sighed. “Well, we can’t have that. So if you won’t lower your professional standards and go to dinner, I was wondering if you’d allow me to escort you to David and Ann’s wedding on Saturday.”

The question took her by surprise, but what a wonderful surprise! She sat without moving, her stillness rendering a statuesque appearance. The silence continued.

“It’s not a hard question. Just give a yes or no.”

Butterflies circled in her stomach. Her heart rate galloped and a seed of panic threatened to shut down her voice. On the one hand she wanted to go with him. On the other, she knew she shouldn’t.

Alan snapped his fingers in her direction. “Jillian — hello? Where’d you go?”

She focused her eyes on his handsome face. “Um, I’m sorry. My mind ran off on a little tangent about what dress I would wear. I’d love to go to the wedding with you.” She flashed a big smile and wondered how she could do such a horrible thing to him.

~~

To Dance One More Day is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords.

~~

About the Author

photo of author Rachel JonesIn 1977 Rachel earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education and taught music for ten years. After the birth of her second child, she returned to school and in 1991 earned her Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing and passed the state boards for registered nurses. She has been a labor & delivery and antepartum nurse since that time.

Anticipating her retirement from healthcare, Rachel decided to write her first novel at age fifty-seven. For years she had experienced scenes of heroes and heroines rambling about in her thoughts and spilling into her dreams. So it was a no-brainer that she should attempt to capture these thoughts on paper.

Rachel resides in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia with her husband of thirty-seven years. She has three adult children, who help spoil their Labrador retriever. She is a member of Georgia Romance Writers, Southeastern Writers Association and is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America.

Connect with Rachel online

www.FaceBook.com/RachelJonesAuthor

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8336834.Rachel_Jones

https://twitter.com/rellenj1

http://www.pinterest.com/rjoneswriter/

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Book Spotlight – In His Sight by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

Please welcome my fellow Pelican Book Group author Pamela S. Thibodeaux! Her book In His Sight is in the spotlight today.

In His Sight cover artBlurb

Grade school teacher Carson Alexander has a gift—a gift that has driven a wedge between him and his family. Worse, it’s put him at odds with God. Feeling alone and misunderstood, Carson views God’s gift of prophecy as the worst kind of curse…that is until he meets Lorelei Conner, landscape artist extraordinaire, and perhaps the one person who may need Carson and his gift more than anyone ever has.

Lorelei Connor is a mother on the run. Her abusive ex-husband has followed her all over the country trying to steal their daughter. Distrusting of men and needing to keep on the move, she’s surprised by her desire to remain close to Carson Alexander. Through her fear and hesitation, she must learn to rely on God to guide her—not an easy task when He’s prompting her to trust a man.

Can their relationship withstand the tragedy lurking on the horizon?

Excerpt

Carson Alexander walked through his classroom and tugged desks into a semi circle around the dry eraser board. One thing he loved about teaching sixth-grade English at Stars Crossing Middle School was that the classes were so small. With no more than fifteen students at a time he could work closely with each one and give them the attention they needed and deserved. Another thing he appreciated was the lack of standard or strict curriculum. As long as the children passed the exams set forth by the Department of Education, he could teach as he pleased.

So far, his kids excelled, maintaining some of the highest scores in the entire school. Pride filled his soul and caused his heart to swell, chest to puff out.

Pride cometh before the fall.

The Voice echoed in his mind, ricocheted through his soul. He shrugged off the warning, walked to his desk and picked up the name tags for each incoming student. He thumbed through the stack, pondered each one and wondered about the child attached to the name….Jenny & Jerry Smith – twins or un-related? One name struck him hard, sent unnamed emotion curling through his system – Laurel Connor.

He hadn’t heard the name Laurel in years and then, used only as a surname or when referring to the small town in Mississippi from whence he came. He moved to Stars Crossing, Tennessee five years ago for two reasons. One, the teaching position and two, the town though smaller, reminded him of home.

Memories crashed through the floodgates he’d built around his heart…..the huge two-story house and two-hundred acre farm where he grew up. His seven siblings, parents who adored him – their eldest son, and the pain of losing everything he held near and dear to his heart.

Tears threatened. His vision blurred, hands began to shake. Carson swallowed the lump in his throat, put the stack down, and shoved his hands into the front pockets of his slacks. Adrenaline pumped through him, caused his pulse to skitter and jump. Saliva pooled in his mouth. By sheer force he willed his emotions under control. The bell rang and he turned to greet the children who rushed into the room. He watched as one-by-one they filed in and took a seat.

~~

In His Sight is available from Amazon and Pelican Book Group.

~~

About the Author

photo of author Pamela S. ThibodeauxAward-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

Connect with Pamela Online

Website address: http://www.pamelathibodeaux.com

Blog: http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com

Face Book: http://facebook.com/pamelasthibodeaux

Twitter: http://twitter.com/psthib

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New Release – Never Say Forever by Kay Harborne

Please welcome my fellow Astraea Press author Kay Harborne! She’s here today with her newest romance, Never Say Forever.

Never Say Forever cover artBlurb

Do you follow your dream or follow your heart?

That’s the decision Kendall McKenzie has to make when she meets hunky businessman Jake Newman. It’s obvious that he’s as attracted to her as she is to him. But Kendall has vowed to never get married – and it seems that Jake, too, is determined to never commit. When the two are together however sparks fly and it’s obvious to everyone except themselves that they’re meant to be together. Can Kendall trust Jake enough to give him her heart? And if she does will she have to say goodbye to her dream?

Excerpt

He turned and saw an open door leading into the kitchen where Kendall, her back towards him, was unplugging the kettle. She was wearing a neat, grey, pinstriped suit, the jacket tapering in at the waist and the skirt finishing just above the knee, with enough of a slit to reveal her very shapely legs.

She turned around and smiled at him, and his heart missed a beat. She was incredibly pretty and fresh, even at this early hour. Her glowing hair was loosely tied back from her face, which was bare of make–‐‑up apart from a touch of lipstick, and her eyes were bright and sparkling, as if she’d had a restful night’s sleep.

“OK, I’m ready now. I’ve just got to get my suitcase out of the bedroom.”

Here was where he was supposed to tell her that she was staying at the Birmingham office, that he didn’t need her in Spain, after all. But the words wouldn’t come. He might not need her in Spain with him, but he definitely wanted her there.

“Ouch!” Kendall’s cry of pain interrupted his thoughts. He dashed down the hall and saw her bending down, rubbing the back of her leg, the suitcase on the floor behind her.

“Are you all right?” he asked, worried. His eyes rested on the hole in her tights and the bruise already forming. “That looks nasty,” he said sympathetically.

She flushed. “The case was heavier than I thought. I stumbled and caught the back of my leg with it. I’ll be fine. I just need to change my tights.”

“I’ll wait in the car for you.” He effortlessly picked up the heavy suitcase. “And we’re all right for a few minutes if you want to put some ice on that bruise.” Without waiting for an answer, he carried the suitcase out the front door.

Maybe he was the one who needed the ice, he thought, as he took the case down to the car. The sight of Kendall’s bare skin peeping through the hole in her tights and hint of cleavage as she’d bent down to rub her leg had certainly made his temperature rise.

Don’t even think about it, he warned himself as he pressed the remote to open the car boot. This was a business trip, and he had to keep it that way. He never mixed business with pleasure and he wasn’t about to start now. Not even with Kendall McKenzie.

Especially not with Kendall McKenzie.

****

It was only as she walked into the car park at the back of the flats that Kendall realised she didn’t know what sort of car Jake drove, but the sleek, midnight–‐‑blue sedan just had to be his. She was a bit taken aback when he got out, walked around,

and opened the passenger door for her. Not many guys did that nowadays.

“Thank you,” she said as she slid onto the leather seat.

“My pleasure.” There was a hint of teasing in his reply, as if he knew he’d surprised her.

“Love the car,” she said as he got in beside her.

He flashed her a smile. “I quite like it too.”

“It might have been better if you’d got someone to drop us off at the airport so they could take the car back,” she suggested. “I wouldn’t risk leaving a car like this parked at the airport.”

ʺI’m not. I’ve left a spare set of keys with my chauffeur. He’ll pick it up later this morning then drive it home for me. It didn’t seem fair to drag him out of bed this early.”

He’s a nice guy, Kendall thought, kind and considerate yet rich and successful. In her experience, the qualities didnʹt always mix.

As they drove along, she was acutely aware of his presence beside her, of his strong hands holding the wheel casually but firmly, of his left hand reaching down to change gears effortlessly and smoothly, just a few centimetres from her knee.

“How long did you teach in Thailand?” he asked her. “I spent a bit of time over there myself a couple of years ago. It’s a beautiful country.”

“I was there for a year.” She was glad of the diversion. “I taught in a school in Chiang Mai.”

For the rest of the journey they spoke about Thailand and some of the other countries they had both visited, and she realised that he was actually very easy to talk to with a good sense of humour. She was almost sorry when they arrived at the airport; she’d enjoyed his company so much.

Careful, she told herself. I bet he’s as charming as this with all the women he meets. She knew he had a reputation for collecting beautiful girlfriends — Tanya had hinted as much at the engagement party. He was the eternal bachelor. Well, she was the eternal bachelor girl, wasn’t she? She could handle Jake Newman, even if he did make her go all goose-bumpy

~~

Never Say Forever is available from Amazon US, Amazon UK, and other online retailers.

~~

About the Author

Photo of author Karen KingKay Harborne has written several romance stories for women’s magazines. Her romance novel The Millionaire Plan was nominated for the RONE Award earlier this year. Never Say Forever was originally published by as a People’s Friend Pocket Novel, then in large print by Linford Romance. She is delighted that Astraea Press have republished it. Kay has also written many children’s books under the name of Karen King. She loves reading, writing and eating chocolate.

Connect with Kay online

Website: http://www.karenking.net/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/karen_king

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Kay-Harborne/e/B00D5VD6LG

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