My Fantasy Vacation (Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge)

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As we come to the start of the summer after more than a year of not being able to do, well, much of anything, I’ve noticed a lot of people discussing potential trips they plan to make in the near future. Many seem to be focusing on visiting family (that’s our big plan for the summer). But I know some people who itching to once again journey to far-flung locales.

Which makes today’s Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge from Long and Short Reviews rather timely.

My Fantasy Vacation

I’m kind of between far-flung vacations right now, as my kiddos are still so little. And I’ll admit that I’ve already taken a couple of fantasy vacations. Hubs and I went to Rome when we were still just dating (hence all the awesome on-location references I was able to make in WHEN IN ROME), and our honeymoon in St. Lucia was heavenly (though longer than the jaunt made by Marissa and Josh in THE ONE I’M WITH). And I’ll happily go to Disney World any time.

But I’ve always dreamed of taking a vacation someplace tropical, perhaps even by myself.

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For this vacation, I would have pack so little that I could just take one carry-on bag on the plane. I would have a small resort cottage on the beach, with a fully stocked kitchen and lots of balcony or patio space. There would be direct beach access, and lots of amenities to enjoy, like a spa, a selection of movies to watch whenever I want, meals offered in a hospitality building if I wanted to partake, and, of course, plenty of time to nap, read, and write.

I don’t know if such a place exists or if I’ll ever be able to take such a vacation. But one can dream.

What’s your fantasy vacation?

Yes – These Are Your Grandma’s Romances (Blog Tour, Review, & Giveaway)

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Yes—These Are Your Grandma’s Romances

by Nancy Fraser

GENRE: Historical Romance Anthology (Vintage (1950s)

Blurb

Ah … the Fifties!

A time of innocence, and the not so innocent. From “I Love Lucy” and “Willy” to “Private Secretary”, “Father Knows Best” and “Bachelor Father”, television and music from the fifties gave us inspiration. Come take a trip down memory lane with these five vintage reads!

Get your romance on, and make grandma proud!

Ed Loves Marnie ~ 1955 – Can this handsome military man convince the single mother to take another chance at love? Or, will their shared memory put a wall between them?

Willa Thomas, Attorney-in-Love ~ 1956 – Will these co-workers be able to tow the company line and forego a chance at love? Or, will they risk everything for love?

Professor Knows Best ~ 1957 – Will this freaky trip back in time to 1957 give her the answers she seeks? Or, only more confusion? How difficult will she find it to navigate being best friends with the college-age version of her own mother?

His Private Secretary ~ 1958 – Can she run interference between her handsome boss, his needy family, and the scores of women trying to bed him and wed him and still remain unaffected by his many charms?

The Bachelor Father ~ 1959 – Will Nanny #5 be the one to finally ace the job, and coax him out of his shell and back into life? And, will a family vacation to Paris fulfill their wildest dreams?

Read an Excerpt

Day 3: Professor Knows Best ~ 1957

Susan took a seat on a bench in the campus courtyard. “Come on, think,” she scolded herself. What could have caused this to happen? And, what happens if you don’t wake up back in your own time, and the familiar surroundings of the university or your own apartment?

“Hi there.”

Susan looked up to see a young woman standing in front of her. Dressed in a long pencil-straight plaid skirt, sweater set, bobby socks and saddle shoes, she personified the 1950s.

“Hello,” Susan answered back, something very familiar in the girl’s smile.

“Are you new this semester? I haven’t seen you around before.”

“Actually,” Susan told her honestly, “I’ve just recently arrived in, uh, Chicago.”

“Really, how exciting. I’ve never traveled anywhere, except to Joliet with my mom and Aunt Sissie.”

Not waiting for an invitation, the girl plunked herself down on the bench next to Susan. “My name’s Debbie.”

“Debbie?” Susan repeated. Old family photos came back to her in a rush.

The young woman nodded, her blonde curls bouncing around her cheeks. “Debbie Phillips. What’s yours?”

Susan’s breath caught in her throat, and it was a moment before she could answer. “Susan,” she said simply.

“I absolutely adore the name Susan.” Shifting her books in her lap, Debbie shared her thoughts, “If I ever get married and have a daughter, I’m going to name her Susan. Or Susie. You know, like that new song on the charts by those two brothers.”

“Wake Up Little Susie,” Susan supplied. “The Everly Brothers.”

“Yes, that’s the one. I absolutely adore that song.”

At that very moment, Susan realized two things. First, no matter how much she wanted to deny it, she’d fallen into a time warp. This wasn’t a dream, but a stranger reality than any she could have ever imagined.

And, second, she was sitting face-to-face with her own mother.

J. Lynn’s Review

The stories in this collection are lighthearted romances that are just the right length for people like me who, sadly, don’t have a lot of extra time these days to get invested in a full-length romance novel. Even though you don’t have a lot of time to get to know the characters, they are all well-written, fully developed people with believeable storylines (the time-travel tale is a bit far-fetched, only because of the “Back to the Future” vibe) and from the moment of the meet-cute, you’ll find yourself not only rooting for the hero and heroine, but wondering how each romance will play out to its Happy Ever After.

Each story takes you back to a different year in the second half of the 1950s, and Ms. Fraser did a great job not only telling five succinct, satisfying romance tales, but immersing the reader into the historical era without relying on info-dumps. I also liked that she ended each story with a page of interesting facts about life in America in each given year.

Be aware that the stories do get a touch steamy (admittedly a little steamier than I’d expected, especially given the length of each story). Fans of sweeter romances may not appreciate the intimate scenes, but they are brief enough that a hesitant reader could skim or skip those bits without losing the heart and soul of the story.

Four out of five stars from me!

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Nancy Fraser will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click here to enter the contest.

Meet Nancy Fraser

Jumping Across Romance Genres with Gleeful Abandon—is an Amazon Top 100 and Award-Winning author who can’t seem to decide which romance genre suits her best. So, she writes them all.

Like most authors, Nancy began writing at an early age, usually on the walls and with crayons or, heaven forbid,Author Avatar permanent markers. Her love of writing often made her the English teacher’s pet which, of course, resulted in a whole lot of teasing. Still, it was worth it.

Nancy has published over forty books in full-length, novella, and short format. When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five wonderful grandchildren and looks forward to traveling and reading when time permits. Nancy lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.

Website: www.nancyfraser.ca

Facebook: http://facebook.com/nancyfraserauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nfraserauthor 

Bookbub: http://bookbub.com/profile/nancy-fraser

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Nancy-Fraser/e/B004AOL61Y/

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YouTube link: https://youtu.be/-U12J3KXdb0

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Purchase Links:

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B091HXWJPD

Apple:  https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1561179077

B&N/Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/yes-these-are-your-grandmas-romances-nancy-fraser/1139151824

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/yes-these-are-your-grandma-s-romances

Custom: books2read.com/Grandma

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/yes-these-are-your-grandma-s-romances-a-romance-anthology-from-the-fifties-by-nancy-fraser

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57606497-yes–these-are-your-grandma-s-romances

The book is on sale for $0.99 during the tour.

My Favorite Indulgence (Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge)

The weather has turned unseasonably cold here in CLT, and having just snuggled Sugarpie down for a nap in her coziest sleepsack, I’m turning to this week’s Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge for inspiration.

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Since the inspiration for the fiction writing is a whole lotta:

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This week, the challenge from Long and Short Reviews is to discuss:

Our Favorite Indulgences

This is actually a tough one. Do we mean food and drink? The thing we do that is most regenerative?

One of the fun things about writing the Sweet Somethings series was tying in each heroine’s favorite indulgence (the “sweet something” – see what I did there?).

In BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE, Carmella was, well, a chocoholic. All chocolate, all the time, with a particular fondness for Snickers bars. She used chocolate to cope with everything from a long day at work to the stresses of navigating her confusing feelings for longtime guy pal Ryan, while also surviving maid of honor duties at best gal pal Sadie’s elopement.

Chocolate candy

Kate from WHEN IN ROME fell hard for leading man Dominic but also a good scoop of ice cream. That is, until Dominic introduced her to the wonder that is gelato during their high-profile fashion shoot gig in the Eternal City.

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Marissa had plans to eat an entire cheesecake, all by herself, until the circumstances surrounding a thunderstorm forced her to share it with playboy-turned-good-guy Josh in THE ONE I’M WITH.

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The only heroine from the Sweet Somethings series that doesn’t technically have a favorite sweet indulgence is Tess, although her Top Secret red velvet cake recipe does feature prominantly. But she’s the one making a living from sweets, and it’s the love of culinary arts that brings Ty back into her life in HE TAKES THE CAKE.

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To be honest, all of the indulgences I featured in the Sweet Somethings series are favorites of mine.

Now, if we’re talking about indulgences in terms of things we do to recharge or spoil ourselves, then my go-to would be a massage. Like, from an actual masseuse, not just my husband (though those are nice, too).

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What about you? What’s your favorite indulgence?

Clawing Back to the Surface & Breathing Again

I’ve realized a few things over the past several months.

First, it is okay for me to go by my baby’s cues when it comes to sleeping. And nursing. Both separately and simultaneously. All the angst I caused myself over sleep training with Babycakes just isn’t going to be a thing with Sugarpie. She will eventually sleep all night. She will eventually learn to fall asleep on her own at bedtime. She will eventually wean (though I will have to do a lot more prodding than I did with Babycakes).

Second and related, I need to do better about my middle of the night reactions to her being unsettled for hours on end. Not necessarily awake. Just not settled.

Third, I need to take better care of my health. I am actually quite healthy, based on the results of my last physical. But I need to work on nutrition and staying in better shape. I promised myself that once Sugarpie was on a predictable schedule, I would weave in workouts and be more mindful of caloric intake. Then 2020 and the stress-eating and the Quarantine Fifteen hit. I recently started up with PiYo again, and am looking at ways to improve my diet throughout the week. Baby steps.

Fourth, I need to carve out time to write. My own stuff. Not other people’s stuff. Being able to freelance has been wonderful in many ways. But I realized in January that I hadn’t written a lick of fiction in over a year. But let’s be real. The past year has been hard in many ways, and I needed to focus more on my family, particularly my children, than anything else.

But it seems like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Babycakes has been fortunate to be back to school, face to face, since August. 100%, with no problems. Sugarpie takes a pretty solid nap and finally has a predictable bedtime, for all that she still wakes up once or twice a night. We are being cautious in our outings, but we are slowly seeing a return to a semblance of normalcy.

And I have so many ideas for stories.

I know that my family has been lucky. We’ve had our own little challenges, but the catalog of difficulties and hardships the past year has brought to our country would take ages to enumerate. We don’t know exactly what will come next and we certainly can’t control any of it, but we can choose how we comport ourselves. How we respond to others.

We can choose to listen. To be kind. To show compassion. To be tough if necessary, but to be so with love.

Maintain connections. Strive toward goals. Plant flowers.

Live as if you are always moving toward the light at the end of the tunnel, even on days when you seem stuck.

Theft Between the Rains – Guest Post

Today I’m excited to host author Luba Lesychyn, who’ll be giving some advice for aspiring authors of crime fiction as part of her blog tour for her new book THEFT BETWEEN THE RAINS. Be sure to read on to learn about this exciting mystery novel, as well as a chance to enter Ms. Lesychyn’s giveaway!

Tips for Authors who Aspire to Write Crime Fiction

When I set out to write my first book, Theft By Chocolate, I honestly wasn’t sure in what genre it would fall. I knew I wanted to set it in the place where I worked, which was an internationally renowned museum (specifically, Canada’s largest, the Royal Ontario Museum) and that my capricious lead character’s distinguishing trait would be that she was a chocolate addict and her hunting and foraging for chocolate would continually get her into trouble. So, these elements didn’t initially spell out ‘crime fiction.’

As it turns out, it wasn’t until my third draft that I had a serendipitous encounter with a security consultant who had some astonishing insider information about a cold case heist that had taken place at the ROM. A thief had absconded with a pricey opal collection after figuring out how to circumvent the Museum’s protective barriers commonly used at that time and the incident led to an upgrading of security technology around the world. I incorporated these real-life and little-known circumstances into the book resulting in a richer, chocolate-infused fictional thriller, in what I call a cozy thriller/crime fiction.

Then when it came to write my second book, Theft Between the Rains, I was once again inspired initially by settings, in this case, underground waterways and unusual or little-known sites in the city of Toronto. I didn’t come up with the plot line (what my lead character, museum employee and reluctant sleuth Kalena Boyko would do if art work listed as still missing since World War II started showing up on her doorstep) until afterwards.

So, my first tip for an aspiring crime writer is to accept that a writer doesn’t have to have it all figured out from the moment one starts to transmit idea to page. As noted above, I was inspired by settings and characters and plot threads came later. But one could very well start with a really solid plot and build the rest of the world around it. A first draft is much like an artist’s sketch and it doesn’t come to life until you start to add the various layers of paint.

My next tip is along the same vein. One has to be prepared for the fact that there may be several iterations of the work. Even if you plot out your story chapter by chapter before you start writing the book, which I did for my first novel, it’s a wise idea to leave some time and space after each draft and then go back to it with fresh eyes. Writers get so close to their work and taking the time to step away from it will most probably result in a more tightly-crafted story after a few rewrites.

I would also suggest something as basic as taking writing courses. I initially started writing my novel completely on my own and then I had a chance to get some feedback from an editor at Random House who was a friend of a friend. Upon reading it, he ever so gently, kindly, and diplomatically suggested I take some writing courses (he made a specific recommendation of a local college creative writing program) and it was the best advice I ever received.

Building on that, I very highly recommend working with a mentor, whether it’s someone you know who might be an established writer or, in my case, it was a formal mentor in my creative writing program. She was the author of several mystery books herself and was highly committed to her students. Her mentorship extended beyond the program and she did what she could to help me find a publisher for my first book, and when it was published, she helped me get some exposure for the book. And when I decided to self-publish the second book, she wrote a peer letter of recommendation for a grant to which I was applying (and which I succeeded in getting).

Aspiring writers should also read, read, read, and read more books in their genre (and I wouldn’t hesitate to add to watch films as well) to determine what works and what doesn’t – what resonates with you and what doesn’t. Building suspense is not necessarily as important in other genres and one really needs to get a feel for the rhythm of tension. How one builds excitement within a paragraph, within a chapter, and in the book as a whole is key. If your reader is not anxious to turn to the next page, chances are you’ll lose them quickly.

In that same thread, one wants to make sure the first few chapters have a strong hook. Don’t take too long to begin the conflict. Most readers have a stack of books waiting to be opened and if your story doesn’t grab them in those initial pages, they may very well put it down and move onto the next book in the pile – and I speak from experience of my own reading habits. There will be some readers satisfied with a slower burn, for sure. But especially if you’re looking at attracting younger readers, they’re growing up in a world where everything moves fast and comes in smaller bites. It’s not that one has to keep up a frantic pace. As a matter of fact, one shouldn’t. Changing the rhythm gives a reader a chance to rest and then be surprised or excited when things start to speed up again.

And finally, don’t be afraid to take risks and follow your instincts. Just because many books in a genre are formulaic doesn’t mean you can’t be a maverick. Some of the most memorable books I’ve ever read are those that kept me on my toes, not just from the suspense, but by the fact that they have had a surprising structure to them or that they blended genres or that they approached the subject matter from a perspective that I would never have expected.

Theft Between the Rains

by Luba Lesychyn

GENRE: International Art Theft Mystery

Blurb

What would you do if you worked at a reputable international museum and art works listed as still missing since WWII began showing up on your doorstep?

 

That’s the substance of the newest urban art theft thriller Theft Between the Rains by Luba Lesychyn.

 

Drawing on her more than 20 years at Canada’s largest museum, Luba reintroduces many of the affable and quirky characters from the prequel, Theft By Chocolate. Also resurrected is the malicious art thief who has been on the world’s most wanted criminal list for decades.

 

Theft Between the Rains takes readers behind the scenes at museums and to parts unknown of Toronto. And with water being a character unto its own, Luba uses both humor and thriller elements to weave a page-turning story while simultaneously illustrating how changing weather patterns and flash flooding are impacting metropolitan centers globally.

Read an Excerpt

“We are coming to yet another fascinating area of the facility. And it is one of the more recent additions to the building,” said Walter.

“Holeeeeeeeee,” said Marco. “This is straight out of some Sci Fi B movie.”

“It is something,” said Walter.

Before us were shelves full of jars – large jars, small jars, roundish jars, square jars – all containing clear liquid and specimens of every conceivable sort. I turned on my phone’s flashlight app, and the illuminated sight before me was truly haunting. Hundreds, probably thousands of fish, sea life, and land creatures floated lifelessly in their ghostly containers. Those whose bodies were turned in our direction seemed to be staring directly at us with beady eyes.

“All of these specimens are suspended in alcohol. If ever there was anything you wanted to learn about aquatic creatures, this is certainly the place to do so. Everything is organized by genus and species. They are whole specimens, and they have been stained to feature various elements. As you can see, the fish turn translucent when preserved, but with the dyes, one can make out the nervous or circulatory systems, for example.”

“Cool,” said Marco.

“I seem to recall we had no choice but to move all this off site?” I said.

“Yes, indeed. Because of their extraordinary weight, they cannot be stored on upper levels without adding costly structural supports. At the same time, if they’re stored below grade, there’s a heightened risk of explosion.”

Luba Lesychyn will be awarding a print copy of Theft Between the Rains to a randomly drawn winner (US or Canada ONLY) via rafflecopter during the tour. Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.

Meet Luba Lesychyn

Luba Lesychyn is a popular Toronto-based mystery writer, a graduate of the Humber School for Writers, and a respected author in the library readings and events circuit.

In her two books, she draws from her more than 20 years of work experiences at the Royal Ontario Museum (Canada’s largest museum), and her time working for a private museum consulting firm to write humorous, international art theft thrillers featuring amateur sleuth Kalena Boyko. Her newest book, Theft Between the Rains, is a sequel to Theft By Chocolate (about a woman looking for chocolate, love and an international art thief in all the wrong places) published in 2012 by Attica Books and launched in Canada and the UK.

Luba currently spends her time writing and virtually touring Theft Between the Rains in which lead character Kalena Boyko returns to find herself pulled into international art theft intrigue when masterpieces missing since WWII start appearing on her doorstep.

Website: https://lubalesychyn.com/
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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Luba-Lesychyn-Author-180423355396109
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