The Wild Wild West and a chat with a Hot Cowboy!

It’s a dusty afternoon; Mel and I are exhausted from the flight.

“I never drink beer, but I tell ya, one would sure as hell go down a treat about now.” I whinge as we plod into the local waterhole in Marietta.

“I hope they have decent tea.” Mel tries for a smile.

We amble up to the counter and a tall woman greets us. She is brisk and confidence. This is clearly her place. Her eyes are the colour of toasted barley. Chestnut hair with streaks of grey running through it is tied up out of the way.

“G’day y’all. Can see you ain’t from around here. What can I get ya?” Her smiles highlights the twinkle in her sharp gaze as Mel leans on the counter.

“An Earl Grey and a beer, please.”

The woman rubs her chin, “Can do for both, though I’ve never had such a strange order before.” She chuckles as she types our request in to the electronic till and I pay.

“So, what are two gals like you looking for in Marietta?”

“Nate Hansen,” is all I say as I turn around and squint at my fellow patrons, all drinking, eating and socialising.

“Hey Nate! There’re two ladies here looking for ya! Thought you’d gone and changed your ways.” The bar tender shouts out across the establishment to a man sitting in the farthest corner sipping from a mug. Both Mel and I jump.

Nate looks up from his table, “Hey, darlin’, now don’t be like that.” He shakes his head. Clearly it is an old joke between them.

The lady chuckles then looks at us, “I’ll brings yer drink over to ya.” She nods in Nate’s direction.

Nate rises from his seat and holds out a hand in greeting. “Take no note of her. She loves to remind me of the past.”

Mel takes it in hers, “No worries. Please to meet you.”

And then I do the same, “All good. How are you?”

“Nice to meet you both. I was intrigued when Ann called to let me know she’d arranged the interview.”

Nate is a man who has the whole ‘tall dark and handsome’ thing doing him all kinds of favours. His grip is frim and the callouses on his hands speak of hard work. But the scars on his face tell of some risky business too.

“Nice town.” I say as I sit down. Mel pulls out her iPad and its small keypad.

“Yeah. Been here my whole life.”

“You were born here?” I ask as I shift in the hard chair.

“Nope. Ma brought me and my two brothers here to live with my grandfather when we were younger. Never left.” He reaches for his mug of half-drunk coffee just as the bar lady arrives with our drinks.

“Do your brothers still live in Marietta?” I ask, then sip the ice-cold beer. Its bitter bubbles rush down my throat and wash away the dust and exhaustion of travel.

“Jethro took over the ranch when the old man got too weak to run it. He’s a good man. Set his life straight to help our grandfather out, better than I ever was.” A look of regret and shame crosses Nate’s dark eyes.

“I hope you don’t mind me saying,” Mel looks up from her screen and reaches for her cup of tea, “But you seem to harbour a lot of guilt?”

Nate sighs as he leans forward on the table. He pins us both down with a gaze that could melt underwear in two seconds flat!

“I’ve got a lot to make right. Spent my whole life blaming everyone and everything for losing our mother. I need to grow up, stop hurtin others. Hardest part is changing my reputation.”

“The one she eluded to earlier,” I point a thumb back over my shoulder in the bar lady’s direction.

Nate nods.

“Yeah. Had a bad habit of pickin fights, drinkin too damn much and waking up in a different bed each mornin. It ain’t a life I want to live. But now I have a reason to change.”

“And what’s that reason?” I ask, then take another large gulp of the bitter beer.

“Our Grandpa died before I could show him I was the man he wanted me to be.” I glance at Mel as we both note the deep regret and hurt which hugs the edges of Nate’s tone.

“I can see family means a lot to you, Nate.” Mel across her keyboard.

“Family. It’s everything!” His gaze shifts from that of a lost little boy to a man.

“So, do you work on the ranch with your brother?”

Nate leans back in his chair, pulling his hands through his dark hair as a grin spreads across his face. The smile speaks volumes and the twinkle which brightens his gaze tells of love, hope and good things.

“Nah, I work for Joy. She’s my… Read the book will ya.”

“I can’t help but notice the look of happiness in your eyes when you mention her.” Mel cocks her head.

Nate proffers a grin that has every buckle bunny in towns, knees turning to jelly.

“Well, Thanks for the chat Nate.” I reach out and shake his hand as Mel packs up her stuff.

“Pleasure.” Ever the gentleman, he stands to see us out.

 

About the Book

Nate Hansen desperately needs a reboot to his playboy image that doesn’t involve women, drinking and fighting. Rehabilitation and building a solid future proves elusive as he can’t land a permanent job until someone mentions local widow Joy Mitchell who’s advertising a full-time ranch job. Perfect.

Joy Mitchell is desperate for a ranch hand to help keep her dead husband’s legacy alive out of the greedy grasp of her manipulative father-in-law. Nate’s reputation precedes him, none of it good, but the ranch is running on empty, and Joy make the hard choice. Problem is the job she’s offering isn’t exactly what Nate had planned.

Nate knows what its like to lose everything, but seriously, become a mail-order groom? But Joy won’t or can’t compromise.

AMAZON US

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Making wingspan in a wind-tossed world

My new romance, Grounded, is set in an alternative reality where human beings have wings – by my protagonists can’t fly.

My initial world-building entailed working out how buildings, furniture, clothes, transport and physiognomy worked, and then how that affected Clementine and Benedick, my couple looking for their Happy Ever After.

It soon became clear, though, that another aspect of a reality where most people can fly is how that would affect language. Every community and culture has its slang terms, its metaphors, its insults and in-jokes.

Creating a wing-related vernacular became one of my favourite aspects of writing Grounded, and in fact gave me my favourite metaphor for its theme.

Clementine Torres is an artist who was born without wings, which makes her quite tiny in a world where most others take up room with the span of the wings as well as the height of their bodies.  It’s easy for Clementine to be overlooked and people often bump into her.

Clementine is determined to be seen, however. She uses her art and her words to make ‘wingspan’.

Born wingless, she’d never known what it was to fly, but on days like this Clementine knew exactly what it would feel like. It was a rush in the blood, the flavour of air and sound, the uplift of beauty beyond the ordinary, the luminescent spark of life in commonplace things. And okay, maybe that’s not what flying really was, but Clementine didn’t care. This was her wingspan, the way she spread her metaphorical wings and soared through the world, capturing a part of it rarely seen by the winged.

 

The concept of ‘wingspan’ is only the beginning of course. So many aspects of life can be rendered with an apt bird-related metaphor.  In this alternative world, the inhabitants of Australis don’t have eBay, they use Magpie; they have a search engine called Echolocater instead of Google. And if you break the law, you end up in the Cage rather than the Clink.

People who fly would make reference to the elements, I thought. When people are feeling chirpy (aha!) they say they are ‘sunshiney with loads of lift’.  If things are going poorly, they’re ‘a sun-blighted mess’.

‘Sun blister it,’ they’ll snarl if they want to swear,  or they’ll refer to ‘sunblistering featherheads’.

Humans will forever find insults for other humans, and the Grounded world has its share of ‘entitled featherweights’, ‘feather-pluckers’ and ‘storm-blighted buzzards’, as well as ‘squawkers’ with a lot of flap but no lift.

There are the really nasty insults too. Crawler and grub are both pejorative terms for people who can’t fly, but in turn, fliers can be called ‘flappers’ –  a term for a ‘vapid winged idiot’.’ More flap than glide’ says one character, offended by the use of ‘crawler’.

Benedick uses the insult against himself in a fit of  self-recrimination:

‘Wind-blighted, feather-plucked, useless flapper,’ he cursed himself then stopped, shuddering, drawing heaving breaths.

He was not having a good day. Luckily, his brother Peri is good at teasing him back to good humour. Peri says Benedick is ‘so chill, like a crow in a blizzard’. He also calls him a stern old puffin.

Clementine is the type to not give a cold, salty crosswind what anybody thinks, while Benedick sometimes feels a-tumble, like a wind-tossed sparrow.

In the end, though, these two lovebirds will find ways to give each other lift and wingspan, and metaphorically fly into a golden sunset.

 

 

Narrelle M Harris

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve written over 30 novels and short stories, published in Australia, US and the UK. My award nominations include Fly By Night (Ned Kelly Award), Witch Honour and Witch Faith (the George Turner Prize), and Walking Shadows (Chronos Awards; Davitt Awards). My ghost/crime story Jane won the Athenaeum Library’s “Body in the Library” prize at the 2017 Scarlet Stiletto Awards.

My spec-fic het romance, Grounded, is out on 20 March 2019 with Escape Publishing, but I also write vampire novels, erotic spy adventures, het and queer romance, traditional Holmesian mysteries, and Holmes/Watson romances. On Patreon, I write the Duo Ex Machina series of M/M romance crime novellas. Number One Fan is currently being serialised there and will be on general release in around May.

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Grounded Blurb

In a world where flight is life, will two grounded people find other ways to fly?

When Benedick Sasaki’s wings are wounded in the line of duty, the former policeman doesn’t know if he has a place in a world where he can no longer fly.

The seductive truth about neighbours and Win!

 

Law & Disorder

by Liv Arnold

Lawyer Juliet Jackson has come head to head with Sergeant Jesse Burns on numerous occasions in court. He is provoking. Pigheaded. Punch-worthy. They don’t get along. Not one little bit. The unfortunate fact he’s also her next-door neighbour sends her loathing off the charts. But when Juliet’s caught locked outside her home in nothing but a skimpy towel, she must swallow her pride and turn to Jesse for help. She doesn’t expect the explosive chemistry between them and can’t help but wonder if Jesse’s as demanding in the bedroom as he is in the courtroom.

 

Law & Disorder by Liv Arnold

About Law & Disorder

I’ve watched the TV show Neighbours since I was a child. I used to come home from school, get changed, have a snack then sit down and watch. I love the community behind the storylines and the more light-hearted moments. So, I thought it would be a fun idea to have the heroine and hero as neighbours, but spice things up a little.

Liv Arnold AuthorAbout Liv

Liv Arnold has worked as a copywriter for several global companies and now runs her own freelance business. She grew up in Melbourne, Australia, and lives with her husband and their spoiled dog, who only eats freshly cooked meals. When she’s not writing, Liv’s avoiding the gym, devouring a cheese platter, or marathoning way too much TV. And of course, she’s a massive book addict and often reads until all hours of the night.

 

Q. What sentences in writing have changed your life?

That’s a hard one. There’re no sentences that spring to mind. I found The Kite Runner written so beautifully. So much so in another book I’m writing, The Kite Runner is the main character’s favourite book.

Q. Which book left you empty inside once you finished writing it?

Haven’t had that feeling so far. I’m so relieved when I finish my book and want to get stuck into the editing and my next book. I get distracted easily and work on multiple projects at once.

Q. What is the best opening sentence you have written?

I’m drafting a YA fantasy romance that moves at a fast pace. Every chapter ends on a cliff-hanger and I tried to build intrigue from the first sentence with: How to Tell the Difference Between a Regular Mirror and a Two-way Surveillance Mirror?

BookBaybZ John Jennings

Q. Have you ever read the ending of a book after only reading the first few chapters? If no, why, if yes…why?

I hardly ever do that because I like to read from start to finish. I read an erotica though called The Awakening of Sleeping Beauty. I usually don’t read erotica (must have a romance in the story for me), so I read the first few chapters and the end. Was curious if the main character escaped being a slave and if she got her HEA.

Q. What don’t you want to see in a well-written villain that happens frequently?

A villain that has no clear internal conflicts or motivation. There’s also so many clichés that comes with villains – they’re ugly, they wear dark colours, there’s nothing relatable about them. I love 3D characters where the reader might end up sympathising with the villain’s cause.

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Q.Who is the best villain you have written to date?

In my next book, Etched in Stone, I’ve written a Constable character who’s a little bit of a villain. Well she causes a lot of trouble for the main characters anyway through blackmail, abuse of power and threats. She stops at nothing to achieve what she wants to get her justice, but she has strong motives.

Q.Best closing scene, you have written?

My closing scenes usually has a little bit of humour in them or a twist at the end. Hard to explain without giving the ending away. For example, my short story The Commander and the Beast which was in the finals for the Monash Short Story Competition: Read it Here

This story was my first that placed in a competition and it ends with a twist that hopefully people wouldn’t have seen coming.

Competition Time

BookBaybZ and Liv Arnold Author

To win a copy of Law & Disorder, please follow my page www.facebook.com/livarnoldauthor and message me telling me you’ve followed. Winner will be drawn on 31 March 2019.

 

 

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To Love is to Conquer without Shedding Blood.

‘Not so rough!’ 9 watched 23 hurl the human across the rock floor. ‘We need the specimen unharmed.’
23 grunted before skulking into the darkness.

Continue reading “To Love is to Conquer without Shedding Blood.”

Lost Love and Hard Won Happiness!

Mel and I exit the car and make our way down to the creek where we’ve been told we’ll find Fenella Rose-Waterman, heroine and manageress of, The Cranky Lizard Winery.

It’s a hot day and we both welcome the cool shade which envelopes us as we near the Creek. Clear, sparkling waters run down the ravine and over rocks creating an aura of sublime peacefulness.

“There she is.”

Mel points to our left where a petite woman with midnight hair and clothes that match, stands, skipping pebbles across the surface of the water.

“Hi, Fenella.”

I wave as the two of us toddle toward her.

“Hi.”

She steps off the log she’d perched on and saunters over to us, hand outstretched. Her green eyes are bright, but gaurded, unlike her expression which is open in a blank sort of way.

“Juantia said we’d find you down here. How are you?” Mel shakes her hand and we all stroll back to the log Fenella had stood on moments earlier and sit down, Fenella between us.

“Fine.” She leans back and picks up a reptile, “This is Lucky.”

I cringe a little and Mel admires the scaley spiked headed beast.

“He won’t bite.”

A soft grin lightens up her face as she strokes the Bearded Dragon, sporting a red collar and matching leash, before putting him down on the ground before us.

“So, care to tell our readers a little about yourself?” I decide to start the interview.

“Muzz and Liv Waterman adopted me after my own mum died. They accepted me with all my troubles and worries. Never gave up on me. So here I remained, and now I manage the place.”

“That’s wonderful. Do you have any regrets?”

“I trusted a ratbag with my heart and my business.”

“Ratbag?”

“My ex. He emptied out the winery’s bank account.”

Mel and I give each other a painful glance. Wolves in sheeps clothing are every where these days!

“How do you see yourself?”

Fenella cocks her head and a dark shadow passes across her gaze.

“A survivor. I’ll never let anyone break me. But the shadows of my past seem darker on my down days.”

Mel shifts on her seat, “I like your leather bracelts.”

Fenella subconcoiusly grips one and twists. The movement pushes it up and I catch a glimpse of keloid scarring. This girly’s been through helluva lot more than she lets on.

“Anyone special in your life?”

Fenella’s eyes shoot toward me before she looks down as a frown creases her brow.

“He’s back.”

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

“He?” Mel gives Fenella and interested look.

“Kieran Murphy. But it’s too dangerous to get too close.”

I give Mel a , What the heck?, look and she shrugs.

The distant rumble of a car engine and tyres on gravel echoes across the warm air.

“Look. I’ve gotta go. It was great meeting you guys. Please feel free to pop by for a bottle of wine, on me.” She proffers a small smile then stands up, “Come Lucky, works a waiting.”

 

When the shadows ride in Wongan Creek…

Juanta Kees

Fenella Rose-Waterman is happy running The Cranky Lizard winery until a broken relationship lifts the lid on the Pandora’s Box of her past. After years of repressed memories haunting her dreams, she is forced to face the truth to find justice. But with truth comes a danger that puts everyone she loves at risk.

Kieran Murphy left Wongan Creek a newly-wed and returned a widower. He believes he and his young son will find healing in the town that healed him once before. Instead, he finds the woman he loved running scared, her life in turmoil and her business under threat.

As the shadows of the past gather on the horizon, will they lose their chance of happiness or will they find healing together?

Kobo ~ Amazon AU ~ Amazon UK ~ Amazon US ~ iTunes ~ Google Books ~ Harper Collins ~ Romance.com.au

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