#Eggcerpt Exchange: Lily & the Gambler by Linda McLaughlin


Thanks so much for hosting me today!

I’m so thrilled about my latest release, a Western romance set in the California Gold Country, specifically Grass Valley, 1868. My husband and I visited the area some years ago and I fell in love with it. Grass Valley was especially interesting to me because of the large Cornish population in the 19th century. This area had deep gold veins that couldn’t be panned. Cornish miners were encouraged to come because of their experience in the tin mines of Cornwall, which were petering out. To this day, the Cornish pasty is a local treat, and the city still celebrates a Cornish Christmas.

A shorter, sexier version of this story was previously published by Amber Quill Press. When I got the rights back, I realized I now had the opportunity to tell the tale as I’d originally intended, as a sensual romance. It was fun to revisit Lily and King’s world and spend time with them again. They are two of my favorite characters. I hope readers will agree.


Lily & the Gambler

By Linda McLaughlin

Sensual Western Historical Romance


Respectability is in the eye of the beholder. Or so Lily Penhallow hopes when she assumes the guise of the widow Albright. She has learned the price of flaunting convention and is determined to obey society’s rules from now on. After her lover, Nigel Albright, was killed in a duel over a card game, Lily dons widow’s weeds and travels to Grass Valley, California where she plans to marry the man her uncle works for, a respectable mine owner named Hugh Ogilvie. Then, on the riverboat from San Francisco, she meets Creighton ‘King’ Callaway, a professional gambler, just the kind of man she should avoid.

King believes that since life is a gamble, there’s no point in planning for the future. You have to trust Lady Luck. After meeting Lily, King knows he has found his Queen of Hearts. But can he convince her to pass up a sober businessman for a foot-loose card sharp?

Only Lady Luck knows for sure…

(Previously published in a shortened version by Amber Quill Press)

Buy links:

Amazon Kindle US: https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B01MYMEKMD/

BN/Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lily-and-the-gambler-linda-mclaughlin/1125157205

Coming Soon to Other Retailers


Lily smiled at him. “That was quite a trick. Do you tell fortunes, too?”

“As a matter of fact, I do. Is the lady interested?”

“Perhaps,” she said, aware he was flirting with her again and annoyed with herself because she was enjoying it. “There should be a deck of cards here somewhere.”

“No cards required. Just let me see your palm.”

Unable to stop herself, Lily stripped off her gloves and let him take her hand. He held it in his left hand, and with his right index finger, traced the lines on her palm. Shivers ran up her arm at each caressing touch. His scent, a mixture of bay rum, male musk, and a faint hint of tobacco, overwhelmed her.

“What do you see?” she asked, her voice suddenly breathless.

“Health and long life.”

“What, no handsome stranger?” she joked.

He raised his head and stared into her eyes. “Oh, yes, I see romance ahead for you. With a dark haired fellow. But he isn’t a stranger.”

For what seemed an age, she stared into his green-gold eyes while her pulse quickened and warmth stole through her veins. It would be so easy to surrender to the feelings he evoked.

“I also see a fork in the road ahead,” he added softly. “You have a decision to make. A very important decision.”

She snatched her hand away, knowing she couldn’t afford to be distracted by him. It wasn’t as if he had made her any promises. “I think you need to practice your fortune-telling skills, Mr. Callaway.”

He chuckled. “There’s something else I’d like to practice.” Cupping her chin, he stared at her, his eyes full of half promises. “Oh, hell, I may get my face slapped for this, but…” His hand moved to the back of her neck as he lowered his head and captured her lips in a kiss that stole her breath away.

For a moment, she closed her eyes and gave herself up to the kiss. Then a door slammed somewhere in the house, reminding her of where they were. She pushed him away. “How dare you?” she hissed.

He gave her a lazy grin. “What’s that old saying? Nothing ventured, nothing gained?”

“I think you’d best be going.”

He paused at front door, turned and held her gaze for a moment, then left.

She sighed and leaned against the doorjamb. What had she been thinking to let him kiss her, however briefly?

Author bio:

Linda McLaughlin grew up with a love of books and history, so it’s only natural she prefers writing historical romance. She loves transporting her readers into the past where her characters learn that, in the journey of life, love is the sweetest reward. Linda also writes steamy to erotic romance under the name Lyndi Lamont, and is one half of the writing team of Lyn O’Farrell. A native of Pittsburgh, PA. she now lives in Southern California.

You can find her online at http://lindalyndi.com

Blog: http://lindalyndi.com/reading-room-blog/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LindaMcLaughlinAuthor

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

Twitter: @Lyndi Lamont https://twitter.com/LyndiLamont

Pets for the Non-Pet Lover


Let me re-phrase that. You don’t necessarily have to be a non-pet LOVER to be in a situation where owning a pet, i.e., a dog or a cat, is impractical, impossible, or unfair to the animal. Those who work long hours, travel a lot, are allergic, or whose living situations do not allow pets—i.e., dogs or cats—don’t really have any choice. If you are not the kind of person who has at least several hours, morning and night, to devote to a dog or cat, you don’t need to own one. If you love cats but own a dog, that dog will know, and resent you for it. And vice a versa.

Me? I’m a cat lover, but my husband isn’t particularly fond of the species. He’s a dog lover, and we did adopt, about nine years ago, an adorable little mini-Boston terrier. He’s the best dog anyone could ever ask for. He doesn’t bark excessively, is very neat and tidy, and doesn’t ask for much except to run in our fenced backyard a few times a day, and for a scratch on his neck as he snores on my husband’s lap in the evenings in front of the television.boston-terrier-2007709_640

But there it is: On my husband’s lap. Chopper is a smart little bugger, and instinctively knows I am not a big dog lover. I strongly believe we come into this world as either a dog or a cat person, and, like our sex or our height, there’s little that can be done—non-surgically, at least—to change that.

So, do I have pets? Yes, I do. Even though someday down the road I will talk my husband into adopting another feline son or daughter, in the meantime, I have transferred my affections to other living beings. I raise freshwater angelfish, and I collect orchids.

Possessed? Perhaps. Perhaps it’s because that unlike a dog or a cat, angelfish and orchids don’t give back the love I shower on them as perceptively as with a furry charge. They do, but it’s not as blatant, or as obvious to the onlooker. So, more is better.

In my office, there are three aquariums, two giant and one small. The two big tanks hold between them nine exotic, colorful Koi and marble angelfish. They are bright spots of color in my day who watch me as I write and never make a peep to distract me. In fact, the bubbling of their filters offer a soothing backdrop—and make delaying trips to the bathroom all but impossible. No bladder problems in my future, that’s for sure. The third tank is small and holds an electric blue Betta fish, who actually belongs to my grandson. The betta is also my token out-species, proving I don’t discriminate against species of fish other than freshwater Angels (not).

IMG_1230In the front of the house, there is an extra bedroom which I transformed into what my son calls the “Circle of Life Room.” Bathed in natural light from a south-facing window, the room is filled with more of my pets. Two tanks hold four more angelfish, two breeding pairs who occasionally bless me with dozens of baby fish. (Thus, the name, Circle of Life, I guess). There are also several flat surfaces covered—literally covered—with orchids. I believe I’m presently up to fourteen, but who’s counting? There’s also a passion flower vine, and a terrarium representing a miniature forest of plants who love humid climates.

Are these pets care free? No. I spend about 2 hours every other week vacuuming the aquariums and performing water changes—using a special apparatus I paid lots of money for that ensures the crappy tap water in my town doesn’t kill my babies. I also use this water to make ice cubes for my orchids, most of which are Phalaenopsis varieties who prefer three ice cubes a week to regular watering. I never drink my tap water, nor do I subject my orchids or angelfish to the stuff.

Do they give back? You bet they do. Every time an orchid sends up a spike with buds for yet another bloom, my heart swells. It’s saying, “Thanks, Mom, for not feeding us crappy tap orchid-2068616_640water.”

Every night I thaw out frozen fish food—a concoction of brine shrimp and plankton that my angel babies love—and feed them from a teaspoon before I retire for the night. Do they eat off the spoon? You know, they actually do.

So, if you’re in a position where a dog or a cat is out of your realm of possibility, don’t discount other, less “cuddly” variety of pets. Love can come back to you tenfold no matter what form of living thing you choose to shower it on. My orchids and angelfish may never fetch a ball, but they warm my heart as certainly as a kitten purring in my lap.


Claire Gem is a multi-published, award winning author of a memoir, five novels, and an author resource book. You can find out more about her and her work at her Website or on her Amazon Author Page.

#Eggcerpt Exchange with Sha Renée!


Today I welcome Military Romance author, Sha Renée with her new latest release,  Forbidden Kisses, Book 1 in the Anchored Hearts series.


What do you do when the person you love is off limits?

Military regulations prohibit personal relationships between senior officers and their juniors.

Violation of these rules is a serious offense. Unfortunately, for Layla and Ethan, they don’t discover each other’s military status until after they’ve already fallen for each other. With the threat of disciplinary action and their careers at risk, the lovers are faced with an impossible decision.

Layla is an enlisted member of the US Navy. On a weekend trip, she meets and grows close to the perfect guy. Her world is turned upside down when she later discovers he’s a Navy lieutenant, which means a personal relationship with him is forbidden. Is Layla strong enough to walk away from the only man to hold her heart?

She’s everything Lieutenant Ethan Parker wants, and during his darkest moment, Layla was everything he needed. Learning that a relationship with her is off-limits catapults the decorated officer into a place darker than the one she helped pull him from. Ethan is forced to choose between the profession that means everything to him and the woman he’s waited his entire life for.

Can military regulations separate lovers destined to be together?


And now for the #Eggcerpt!

For the next forty-five minutes, my coworkers spoke, but I hadn’t a clue what any of them said. My mind was busy replaying the events of the day I first met Ethan. Piercing blue eyes. Beautiful dimples. Coffee. Bathroom. Flirting. Not once had he said anything about the Navy. He had mentioned his new position, but never revealed that he was third in command at an aviation training facility… Had he?

At the conclusion of the staff meeting, everyone emptied the room, but I remained seated, waiting for a chance to confront Lieutenant Parker. I pulled my cell from my pocket, pretending I had a reason to linger. The message notification on my phone startled me.

Ethan: My office. Now.

Me: Are you kidding? I can’t just walk into your office.

Ethan: We need to talk. Wait a few minutes, and then knock on my door.

He stood and left the room without a glance in my direction. The sight of Ethan in uniform made my heart flutter a little.

Memories of nights I’d spent wrapped in his arms flooded my consciousness. How could neither of us know the other’s military status? How could neither of us think to ask?

The door to his office was ajar. Should I just go in? Should I knock? I figured I’d better follow standard procedure just in case anyone saw me. I knocked on the door and spoke immediately after. “Request permission to enter, Sir.”

“Granted.” He rose from his desk, walked past me, and shut the door.

Tension radiated through every muscle in my body. We stood for a beat, staring at each other. He had to be thinking the same thing I was: What the f-?

“Layla, what the hell is going on?”

Was he accusing me? Did he think I somehow planned this shit? “You tell me. You never said you were in the Navy. That you were an officer! That you work here. Do you know what this means?”

“Of course, I know what this means. I thought you were a student.”

“I am. I was.”

“You didn’t say you’re also an instructor.” He started to pace. “Here.”

“It didn’t come up. I had other things on my mind.”

“Like what?” Those vivid blue eyes held my gaze.

He was too smart to be that clueless. “Like you.”

His expression softened.

“You didn’t tell me you were the new Director of Training at one of the Navy’s best training facilities.”

“We’ll talk about this later at the hotel.”

“What are you? Crazy? We can’t meet at the hotel. We can’t talk. We can’t text. We can’t anything.”

“We need to figure out what we’re going to do.”

“What we’re going to do? There’s nothing we can do. This is it for us. I finally meet the perfect guy… and I can’t have him.”

A knock at the door startled us and we quickly backed away from each other. My heart beat wildly as the Commanding Officer swung the door open and came right toward us.


Forbidden Kisses on Amazon: http://bit.ly/ForbiddenKissesAZ

Forbidden Kisses on Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/ForbiddenKissesBN

Forbidden Kisses Book Trailer:  http://bit.ly/FKTrailer

Forbidden Kisses on Goodreads: http://bit.ly/ForbiddenKissesGR

Subscribe to Sha Renée’s Newsletter: http://bit.ly/ShaNews

About Sha Renée:

Sha Renée is a native New Yorker who joined the US Navy right after high school. She now lives in New Jersey where she creates stories on the pages where duty, honor and passion unite. A true nature lover, Sha enjoys spending time outdoors with a camera in her hands. She’s a fan of auto racing, military air shows and The X Games and dreams of someday riding her own motorcycle.

Sha loves watching bulldozers and diggers work, and believes every day should begin with a strong cup of coffee and end with a glass of chilled wine.








So. You Want to Write a Novel.


A simple Google search for “first time author advice” produces a literal plethora of sites, filled—I’m sure—with valid, useful information about how to write a good book, and how to go about getting it published. But it’s all a bit overwhelming. And by jiminy, where does one even start? A few years back, as an aspiring writer, I found myself in exactly this situation.

What I needed was an author survival guide.
animal-483860_640Now, five years older and maybe a teeny bit wiser, I can honestly say I’ve had some experiences. SOME experiences. Some EXPERIENCES, let me tell you! And I got to thinking about how nice it would have been if I’d had a simple, basic roadmap to guide me on my journey toward publication of that first novel. How much time and tears, effort and exasperation I could have saved.

An author’s guide. So, I wrote one.

The Road to Publication: A Writer’s Navigation Guide will officially release on March 17, 2017 in eBook and paperback. It’s not a looooong book—if it was, it would be little better than that endless list of blogs and articles and websites I came up with after search after Google search. No, at a little over 100 pages, this is a simplified, condensed overview: A blueprint, if you will. A roadmap to guide the wannabe writer, the I’ve-written-a-novel-so-now-what-the-hell-do-I-do-with-it author, and the newbie author who’s wandering aimlessly at the bottom of the pack and thinking, “I’m published! Why the hell am I not making any money?”

palo-alto-battlefield-255550_640Is this a memoir of my experiences through the battlefield called publishing? No. Well, sort of. I do share some of my tales of wonder and woe—enough, anyway, to keep the reader entertained. But mostly, it’s the book I wish I could have found when I first started my career as a novelist. And, in the words of my editor, Allie Rottman, “This is a great book, and I believe a necessary one…so much more entertaining to read than a straight how to guide.”

You can find out more about The Road to Publication here. And I’d love for all my creative writing soulmates to join me for the Facebook Launch Party on March 21st from 4-8 p.m. EST, when I’ll be giving away one paperback (U.S. only) and three digital copies of this first in my series of Author Resource books. That link is here.


Claire Gem is a multi-published, award-winning author of five contemporary romance and supernatural suspense novels. And now, a nonfiction Author’s Resource guide. Find out more about her at her Website, or her Amazon Author Page.




Another Exciting #Eggcerpt Exchange!


Today I welcome author Melanie Robertson-King, an author whose byline is “Where Fact and Fiction Meet.” I love this, because as a history buff and a scientist, nothing bugs me  more than when the two don’t jive—even if it is supposed to be fiction!

Melanie is presenting her “Secret of Hillcrest House” . . secret-of-hillcrest-house-3d-with-shadow

Sometimes there’s more to a house than bricks and mortar.

Hillcrest House is one such place. Perched on a cliff in the picturesque town of Angel Falls, there is more to this Victorian mansion than meets the eye. When referring to the house, the locals use the word haunted on a regular basis. Strange visions appear in the windows, especially the second-floor ones over the side porch. Even stranger events take place within its four walls.

Rumour has it, the original owners, Asher and Maggie Hargrave, never left their beloved home. They claim the couple and their family are responsible for driving people away. Over the years, Hillcrest House has changed hands numerous times. No one stays long. Renovations begin then stop and the house is once more abandoned. The latest in this long line of owners is Jessica Maitland.

Will Jessica be the next one to succumb or will she unravel The Secret of Hillcrest House?

 Melanie Robertson-King’s latest novel serves up a delightful blend of the supernatural and spicy romance, Lynn L. Clark, author of The Home Child, and Fire Whisperer & Circle of Souls: Two Novellas of the Supernatural, & The Accusers

Intrigue, dark buried secrets, hot romance and a neat twist in the tale make this riveting reading, Sheryl Browne, MA Creative Writing, Choc Lit Author

A fun read that keeps you guessing right up to the surprise ending, Dayna Leigh Cheser, Author of Janelle’s Time, Moria’s Time, Adelle’s Time, & Logan’s Time

BUY LINKS    Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBookstore

About Melanie

melanie-headshotA native of eastern Ontario, during her pre-school years, Melanie lived in a winterized cottage on the shore of the St Lawrence River.

Growing up as an only child, Melanie was an avid reader, and remains so to this day. It was through this love of the written word that she knew that one day she would become a writer. When she wasn’t talking about her dream of becoming an author, she wrote stories and began honing her skills at an early age.

The Secret of Hillcrest House is her fourth book.


Website | Celtic Connexions Blog | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook

And now, what you all have been waiting for…The Eggcerpt!!

“Keys. I’ll need them unless you want me to break in.”

Transfixed by the image, Jessica couldn’t look away. She extended her arm and dropped her ring holding her house and car keys into his hand.

“You stay here,” he ordered before sprinting to the front of the house.

The face appeared to be that of a young child. After a few minutes, the image faded. She blinked thinking it vanished because she’d stared at it for so long, but even that didn’t help.

Frightened by the disappearance, she dashed after the officer.

When she stepped through the door, the pungent smells of damp and stale assailed her nostrils. Out of habit, Jessica reached for the light switch. She discovered an old-fashioned push button one indicative of knob and tube wiring. That was another expense she wasn’t prepared for.

At one time, the dark wainscoting in the foyer shone. Now it was dull, dingy and covered with dust. The paint above it and on the ceiling had peeled and curled. Flakes littered the floor and stairs. She grabbed a loose piece of paint from the wall and gave it a tug. It pulled away with little resistance.

Two large rooms stood on either side of the main hall. Jessica entered the one to her left. Pocket doors, off their tracks, cut off part of the large doorway. Yellowed wall and ceiling paper hung from crazy angles. The plaster it once covered now exposed. Sheets covered the furniture. At one time, they had been white but now, layered with dust. Jessica thumped her hand down on the back of a sofa forcing a cloud of the grubby powder into the air. Choking, she scurried out and into the room across the corridor.

It, too, was in the same state but in here, boards didn’t cover the windows. Sun shone through grimy panes of glass, and dust particles floated in the air trapped by the beams of light.

The sound of footfalls on the stairs echoed through the house. Jessica turned. She gasped and clapped her hand over her mouth. On the back of a sheet-covered sofa, lay a pristine, long-stemmed red rose.

The officer stepped into the room, securing his truncheon to his belt. “I thought I told you to stay outside.”

She didn’t reply. Stood shaking and pointing at the flower. Tried to speak but no sound came out. The room started swimming in front of her eyes. Her mouth went dry. She felt cold and clammy.


Thanks for joining me today, Melanie, and best of luck with The Secret of Hillcrest House!


#Eggcerpt Exchange: The Rest of Forever by Carrie Pulkinen

Today I’m pleased to welcome Carrie Pulkinen with her new release, The Rest of Forever (I just LOVE this title, don’t you?)



Suspended between two worlds—belonging to neither—April must let go of her dreams and embrace her duties in the afterlife to win the man she loves.

April Carter is a high school history teacher who dreams of finding the perfect man to whisk her away from her small-town life. She wants it all—the husband, the house, the kids, the car. But her dreams of living the perfect life are shattered during a school shooting. Now she must learn to accept her fate if she’s ever going to find the life she loves.

Damian Perkins is April’s Guardian Angel, though no one would guess that based on his attitude. A tragic event in his past has left him bitter and resentful, and he won’t let anyone get close enough to care about him. He’s tried to make April hate him, but she sees through his abrasive exterior and awakens a part of his soul he thought had burned out long ago. Damian must let go of his past and accept his responsibilities or he’ll spend the rest of his existence alone and miserable.


Damian lay on the bed behind her with his arm across her body. God, I wish I could feel her. The memory of the way she fit in his arms tightened his chest, and he yearned to feel her warmth again. To feel her soft curves pressed against his body. She could’ve used some real affection. But as much as he wanted to give it to her, it wasn’t his place. He’d have to settle for comforting her from The In-Between.

She took a few deep breaths and slowly drifted to sleep. The tension in her body relaxed, and her pulse slowed to a steady, rhythmic beat. Rest was exactly what she needed to chase away the fear and guilt that must’ve been coiling inside her. To be betrayed by someone who was supposed to love her. He couldn’t imagine what she must’ve been feeling.

Well, yes he could…

He breathed in her intoxicating scent and closed his eyes. He was getting in too deep, and he needed to get away.

But as the last of the tension left her body, she exhaled and whispered, “Damian.”

Hearing his name dance from her lips made his heart lodge in his throat. Was she dreaming about him?

“I’m here, April. You’re safe.”

A soft moan vibrated from her chest, and she nestled her head into the pillow.

She couldn’t possibly be dreaming about him, could she? He’d tried so hard to make her hate him. What dream could possibly be twirling through her mind? She was sound asleep, and he knew it was safe to leave her alone.

But he stayed.

As much as he hated to admit it, he liked holding her, whether he could feel her body pressed to his or not. There was nowhere in the universe he’d rather be. And he desperately wanted to hear her whisper his name again.

Get it together, man. It’s not gonna happen.

The sun set, and soft moonlight filtered through the window, giving her skin an angelic glow. Even with her tear stained cheeks and disheveled hair, she was magnificent. The soft rise and fall of her chest, her gentle breath, her fragile posture. He could’ve held her forever.

But he needed to leave. To get away from her before his thoughts went any farther down the path he’d been avoiding all this time.

He pulled his arm from around her and prepared to Jump. She moaned and reached to the place where his arm had rested moments before.

“Please don’t leave me, Damian.”

He froze, his body paralyzed in anticipation, and swallowed down the lump in his throat. Did she sense him? Did she know he was there with her? No, it wasn’t possible. Charges felt comfort from their Guardians, but they never knew why.

“Damian, please.”

Liquid warmth flowed from his core, out to his limbs. His heart raced at the sleepy sound of her voice. He imagined it was how she’d sound in the morning, after a long night of lovemaking.

But he could not think about her that way. There was no way in hell he’d ever fall for a Charge. Not if he could help it.

Available at Amazon for $2.99 or FREE in KU: http://amzn.to/2jJZqpI

 About Carrie:

Carrie Pulkinen has always been fascinated with the paranormal. Of course, when you grow up next door to a cemetery, the dead (and the undead) are hard to ignore. Pair that with her passion for writing, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an exciting storyteller.

Carrie spent the first part of her professional life as a high school journalism and yearbook teacher. She loves red wine and chocolate, and in her free time, she likes to read, take pictures, and spend time with her family.

Connect with Carrie here:

 Website: http://www.CarriePulkinen.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CarriePulkinen

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/carriepulkinen




#Eggcerpt Exchange!


Advice is what we ask for when we already 
know the answer, but wish we didn’t.”
by Iris Blobel
♥♦♥  SYNOPSIS ♥♦♥ 
Becoming a parent can be daunting at the best of times, but for Flynn, a business lawyer in Melbourne, it almost pulls the feet from right underneath him. He’s become a father to six-year-old Nadine literally overnight! He had no idea about her existence, and the news throws him into chaos, even more so when he is asked to take over custody
With the help of Emma, an employee at the hotel where Nadine and her grandparents are staying, and his parents, Flynn tries to do the right thing. Yet, the right thing in his eyes differs from his parents’, and Emma is voicing her opinion as well. And right in the middle is little Nadine, still grieving the loss of her mother and finding a wonderful friend in Emma. There’s no doubt she’s afraid where and with whom she will settle.
But in the end, it’s a letter Flynn receives that helps him figuring out what to do.

♥♦♥  ~  OUT NOW  ~  ♥♦♥ 



Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and 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 met her husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper has only emerged recently, but now her laptop is a constant companion.
Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her two beautiful daughters.
Next to her job at a private school, she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio.
Social Media Links:

Website: www.irisblobel.com

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/b-U0G5

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

♥♦♥ EXCERPT ♥♦♥
“My Mum is dead.”
Somewhat startled by this statement, Emma peeked over the reception desk into beautiful green eyes that belonged to a cute little girl with brown curly hair and a freckled button nose. She couldn’t help but smile. There was something in the girl’s eyes that held a hint of mischief and curiosity, as well as some sadness, and Emma was drawn to her instantly.
The stern voice of an elderly woman approaching the reception caused Emma to flinch. The girl stiffened with eyes wide open.
“My apologies for that,” the woman said to Emma, though her expression didn’t actually reveal any signs of apologies. The woman’s face reflected a life of bitterness, the lines appearing deep and weathered.
Emma smiled. “No need to.”
An elderly man joined them, and after a brief nod of acknowledgement she asked, “May
I help you?”
“Yes. We would like to check in. Gibbs. William and Teresa Gibbs,” the woman replied.
Emma typed the name on the keyboard, and while she waited for the details, she smiled at the girl, and asked, “Holidays?”
Nadine’s face spread into a small smile, but it was enough to show she had her two top teeth missing.
“And I see the tooth fairy has been to see you recently.”
“Excuse me–” Mrs. Gibbs glanced at Emma’s name badge. “–Emma. Can we proceed with the check-in please?”
“My apologies, ma’am.” Emma read the details on the screen, made a few notes and turned around to activate the automated door card in the back office. All the while, she felt Mrs. Gibbs’ glare on her and instinctively pulled on her navy uniform skirt feeling slightly uncomfortable.
Emma sighed inwardly. In her early twenties and she still lacked confidence in what other people thought of her. Tucking an escaping strand of her tawny hair behind her ear, she tried to keep a positive attitude because, after all, she loved working at the All Stars Hotel in Melbourne. It was something she always wanted to do—to greet people to this beautiful city and make their stay as comfortable as possible. And she was often told how popular she was with staff and guests alike for her positive attitude, her generous heart, and kind spirit.
“Ma’am, that’d be room five-o-two. If you go to the right over there, take the lift to the fifth floor and follow the hall to the near end, you will find room five-o-two on your right.”
Teresa Gibbs took the card from Emma and turned it in her hands.
“Ma’am, you slide that into the door instead of a key. I’m happy to ask someone to come with you and show–”
“I’ll be fine. Thank you.” And Mrs. Gibbs turned to go.
Emma leaned across the counter and smiled at Nadine. “Enjoy your holidays,” she said and winked. “And come see me sometime to tell me about the tooth fairy.”
“We’re not on a holiday,” the girl said in almost a whisper. “We’re here to meet my dad.” 

The Problem with Meditation


I just don’t think I’m cut out for meditation. My brain is one of those that doesn’t have an “off” button. But while I’m going through this illness, this radiation treatment, my dearest friend, Loraine, recommended I give it a try. I said, “How?” She said, “I’ll send you a link.”

She did. It was nearly bedtime anyway (I find it difficult to stay awake past 7:30 p.m. nowadays), so I thought, perfect time to give this a try! It was a guided meditation by a Master by the name of Davidji, who Loraine highly recommended. I clicked on the link she sent me, donned my headphones, and prepared to embark on the quest for the “off button” in my brain.

Well, the first thing out of Davidji’s mouth was “Get comfortable. If you’re not comfortable, then you won’t be back.” He was right—and I wasn’t particularly comfortable, sitting at my desk in front of my computer. Comfortable for working, but not for meditation. Okay, time to take this to the bedroom.

Come on, Davidji boy, follow me to my boudoir . . .frog-1073356_1280

Propping myself up on a bunch of pillows, I slipped off my shoes and got comfy. Then I picked up my iPhone and attempted to plug in my headset. No go. My new phone case is apparently not set up with a ready-to-use hole for the earphones, so after struggling with that for a few minutes, I tore the damn thing out of the case and plugged in the headset. There. Done.

I snuggled back into my pillows, clicked on the link, and hit “Play.”


It took another few minutes to realize that to listen to this recording on my iPhone, I needed a software app called SoundCloud. Okay, go to SoundCloud, hit download. It took FOREVER. Well, maybe not forever . . .but I was ready to meditate, Man! I was in the mood for relaxation and positive Chi and all that stuff. So, I stared at the little round download thingy and waited. And waited. And waited.

Ah! Finally done. Click open. Yes, I know this is a program downloaded off the Internet, and YES, I’m sure I want to open it. NOW.

Click. Swipe. Wait. Swear. Open. Push arrow. Push arrow AGAIN. Aha!

I hear Davidji’s soothing voice rumbling into my ears (it’s actually kind of a coarse, gruff voice, which I found surprising, but anyway . . .). I allow my eyes to drift closed gently, lay my hands on the bed beside me, palms up, and prepare for takeoff.relax-1813100_1280

About five or six minutes later, I’m thinking (which I shouldn’t be, I know—I’m supposed to be meditating), but I’m thinking, “wow, this is nice. Soothing. Maybe I can do this after—”

Click. Silence. In the middle of a sentence? Davidji, Baby . . .where did you go???

Apparently, Davidji’s voice was so soothing, he put my phone to sleep. But upon awakening it, I couldn’t get the damn recording to play no matter what I did.

Okay, plan B. I walk back into my office and look around. Unplugging all the doo-dads off my laptop is WAY more trouble than I’m up for right now, so I dig out my smaller, more portable Surface. Please, God, let it be charged. Ah! Great. It is.

So, I fire that puppy up, type in Davidji’s web address, and click the arrow.

Nothing happens.

It’s asking for my email address to join his mailing list. I type it in, misspelling it twice because now I’m not only exhausted, but frustrated as hell. I want to meditate, damn it! Let’s get this show on the road!

Okay, got it typed in. Now hit “Join.” Click. Click. Why isn’t this button live? Is my mouse dead? Go to touchscreen. Touch. Touch. Mash. Tap, tap, tap.


This isn’t working.

Before I end up cracking the touchscreen on my Surface, I slam it shut and stalk off to bed.

Maybe I’m right. I’m just not cut out for this mediation thing after all.



Claire Gem writes sexy contemporary & supernatural suspense romance novels. You can find out more about her & her work at her Website or on her Amazon Author Page.


Down The Rabbit Hole: A Vortex of Swirling Colors


Yup, that’s what it’s like. Whenever I start on a new book, birth a new story concept, my left brain keeps trying to tell my right brain what to do. Research, it says. Research! Research! Research!

Yeah, well, that’s what I do in my day job, so should I be surprised? But it really is amazing what a little researching, i.e., Googling, can do for that right brain muse.

For example: who knew there was actually a name for the phobia, “fear of visual art”? Well, there is. It’s called sportaldislexicartaphobia. Not sure I can say it, but then again, I live a mile or two from Lake Chaubunagungamaug, which I know I can’t pronounce. So we’ll stay with “fear of visual art,” and “Webster Lake.”owl-1791700_1280

Suffice it to say that before any of the real writing begins on this next Haunted Voices Novel, there will be lots and lots of research. I’m a stickler when it comes to factual accuracy—at least insofar as one who is definitely NOT an expert. I just have to be careful that I don’t waste so much time on fact-finding that I lose sight of my true, end-goal—another creepy, scary, thrilling ghost tale with a love story intertwined.


I’ve gotten so far as to be able, though, to give you some clues. My heroine is a DNA analyst. She suffers from a phobia—that big long word I referenced above, i.e., fear of visual art.

My hero is a museum curator.

Now doesn’t that couple have potential for a match made in heaven?

Science and Art. As disparate as the concepts may seem, there is synchronicity: DNA forms the backbone of each individual human being, just as pigments define the architecture of an old master’s painting.woman-1283009_640

Coming Soon . . .another Haunted Voices novel . . .available for Pre-Order Here

Check out the first Haunted Voices Novel, Award-Winning Hearts Unloched, on sale today only for .99! Buy Now!


And Then . . .There’s Frog Poop


Words of wisdom from my four-year-old grandson.

I saw him off this morning, along with his mom, on this final day of 2016. Freezing my ass off at the departure gate of the Logan Airport in Boston. They were headed back to 70-degree weather in their home in Tampa after spending two, glorious weeks with Grandma and Pop Pop in frigid New England.

Glorious for us. Maybe not so much for them.

Lil Guy had been looking forward to building a snowman. Unfortunately, Mother Nature wasn’t on the same page. Although we did get a meager dusting and a few snow showers during their visit, there was just not enough for snowman construction.

No matter. It was too freaking cold anyway. And after two weeks of grey skies, bitter cold, and biting wind, Lil Guy had had enough.

On their last full day with us, we ate breakfast at Cracker Barrel, did some cursory after-Christmas shopping, and were on our way home for lunch and Lil Guy’s nap (during which Grandma and Lil Guy’s mom planned one, last happy hour at our favorite local watering hole). The sun had braved its way through the twenty-degree chill, and was lighting up all the ice-covered, bare-branched trees to a sparkling light show. It was breathtakingly beautiful, and I pointed it out to my grandson.snow-721952_640

“Look, Eddie. Look how pretty the ice on the trees looks in the sun,” I said, my words muffled only slightly by the scarf partially covering my freezing face.

Lil Guy looked around and nodded. Then he replied, “Yeah. And then, there’s frog poop.”

Okay, so talk about knocking the wind out of your sails. What’s the saying? Out of the mouths of babes . . .even at four, this little man knows exactly how he feels about life. And isn’t afraid of voicing his opinion. And has determined what part of the country he wants to spend his life in.

Not a snow baby, for sure.

I still think the sparkle of ice on bare branches is magically beautiful. Now, though, I realize not everyone can ignore the other, contributory factors to the production of this ice show.

Numbing, bone-chilling, freeze-your-ass-off cold.

And then, there’s frog poop.winter-69865_640

Here’s wishing everyone within the reach of my words a blessed, peaceful, and joyous New Year.

Claire Gem writes intensely emotional romance and women’s fiction. Visit her at her Website or Amazon Author Page.