Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Spotlight and Giveaway with Melissa MacKinnon's The Archer's Daughter

Today, I want to welcome Melissa MacKinnon with her historical romance, The Archer's Daughter.


England, 1381 

Cate Archer is a wanted woman. When her father is killed during peace negotiations with the young King Richard, Cate vows she will not rest until she sees her father’s murder avenged and his killer brought to his knees. She never imagined she would fall in love with the man sent to execute her death warrant. 

Viscount Owen Grey has only one task—bring in the rebel leaders, dead or alive. His life’s duty is to the King’s Guard, and he has certain expectations to fulfill. Falling for his prisoner isn’t one of them. He understands her cause, but he cannot bring himself to risk his position and honor for an outlaw. Owen must choose between duty and his heart. The Guard is all he’s ever known. Does he stay true to his oath or find himself on the next most wanted list alongside his Cate? 

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Guards approached.

Honest to God genuine guards, brandishing swords and gleaming armor atop enormous beasts donning the royal colors. The King’s Guard. Cate’s heart fluttered. Her chance to make an impact to her father’s cause had finally arrived. She’d briefly counted four but was sure there had to be more. Guards never traveled in less than six to a scouting party. These men, these nobles, served the King directly. One of them could have been responsible for her father’s death, making them the perfect target. If she could take to the trees, she could kill at least four.

But she was alone, a foolish mistake on her part. She should have allowed Colin to accompany her, but the enemy hadn’t stepped foot in her forest in nearly a week. She
needed him to scout for those responsible, not check rodent traps. Sliding to her stomach, Cate slithered away from the tree and into the cover of the brush. She would find a vantage point further up the road and wait to strike.
Stowing her bow and quiver across her back, Cate scaled a tree with a full canopy, fading into its lush colors. She brushed her brow with her sleeve, wiping away the gathered beads of sweat. Moments seemed to drag on.
There was entirely too much waiting in the murdering profession.
Soon, horse sweat and leather tingled inside her nostrils. The guards were near. Cate whipped the bow from her shoulder and plucked an arrow from its sheath, nestling it at its rightful place against the bowstring. A heated energy flowed from deep within her, coursing through her veins to the tips of her fingers, begging her to release the tension on the string. She did not deny it.
The arrow shot through the air, missing its intended destination by a hairsbreadth. Damn. She’d missed.
“Arrow!” A warning was called.
Her presence had been made known. Cate took a swift head count of her remaining arrows. Five. Perfect for taking down a deer, but unfortunate against six armed guards. A brief chill of panic threatened to take root but she pushed it aside, willing herself to be strong. She owed it to her father. She must fight.
From the sounds echoing below, Cate believed the guards to be readying to fight, but from the sound of their confusion, they could not apprise from where she shot. The thick forest canopy was a welcome friend.
She surveyed the area to her left. Several thick branches from a nearby tree overlapped the one she hid in. If she could get a shot off — and manage to hit someone this time — she could change locations before the men would be able to fire from below. Cate said a quick prayer, asking for the guards to be ill-equipped with weaponry, or shite shots with a bow.
“Courage, Cate.” She turned to face her opponents.
“There! Above!” A guard pointed in her direction, raising his bow to take aim.
Cate redirected her aim to the right, firing at the telling guard. Time for a new plan.
An arrow hissed through the branches, and she lurched back, nearly unseated from her perch. Tree bark scraped her palms as she righted herself.
“Do not harm the boy!” one guard shouted. “Hold!”
“I am no boy!” Cate retaliated without first thinking.
“A lass, then?”
She silently chastised herself for her foolishness. “What else would I be, you dolt?”
They thought her a child — a fantastic ruse with the potential of aiding in her escape.
“Tell me then, girl, why have you attempted to end my life?”
The men scattered to various points along the forest floor; some on foot, others on horseback. A plan was in formation, but Cate had yet to gain knowledge of it. She took a deep breath. Time to lie, Cate. Your life depends on it.
She let out a laugh, descending from the tree. “End your life? You, sir, were merely in the way of my arrow. I would have brought down that buck if you had not scared it away with your loud traipsing through the trees. Now my family will be forced to go hungry for yet another day. So I thank you… you and your overly loud mates.” She jumped the remaining distance to the ground then dusted the tree litter from her ill-fitting boy’s hose. She rose to her full height, nearly measuring up to the man standing in front of her.
He didn’t wear the King’s Guard uniform as the others in his party did, but donned loose riding breeches paired with well-constructed boots and a matching doublet with the finest detailing she’d ever seen. Deep greens and rich blues intermingled in various swirls and frills amongst the soft, blackened leather. Only the finest threads for the finest of men. He was the one she needed to kill.
And she’d missed.

About the Author:

Melissa grew up surrounded by dragons, fearsome creatures, and damsels in distress from the wonderful world of make believe. She soon found her ideas on paper, littering her desk with hand-drawn world maps and character biographies. Study hall was used not for homework, but for writing.

Although she later pursued a career in theater, the written word never left her. Melissa now leads a very full life with her husband and five children, and somehow still finds time to write in her “spare time”… usually at soccer practice in the car. She sports a Military Wife badge of honor, and is lucky enough to have her own knight in camo armor.

Melissa enjoys writing everything from sexy, sword-toting heroes to spit-out-your coffee funny romantic comedies. Her passion lies within the ancient walls of historical romance, where anything is possible. She loves creating unforgettable stories, where love knows no boundaries. Her current literary home resides with EsKape Press.

Melissa is offering a giveaway of her book, The Archer's Daughter. To take part, comment below and please give your email address too.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Fourteenth Quilt by Robyn Echols

Today, I want to welcome fellow sweet romance writer, Robyn Echols. Her short story is in the Summer Hearts anthology and I loved it! You have to read it. And there's also a rafflcopter giveaway with her blog tour. You can win a $25 Amazon gift card!

About The Fourteenth Quilt:

Annie, Celia and Lynn are all that are left of the Relief Society quilting class, but they are still determined to make baby quilts for the new mothers at church.

Annie, who is just south of eighty years old, calls the quiltsters (short for quilting sisters) together to ask for more. She wants to make lap quilts to give to some of the “forgotten” oldsters she sings to each week at the nursing home—something to wrap them in love at Christmastime. It’s a good idea, but the trio discovers that life and making quilts don’t always go as planned.

The quiltsters discuss recipes and quilting ideas including a crocheted cat mat to use up their fabric selvage and trim scraps, all of which they share in the book.

Sarah and Brian meet at the university. Their first date is after Sarah’s First Saturday block of the Month class she attends with her mom at the local quilt shop. Their romance grows, and they plan their future together—a plan that will require them to be separated for six months before their wedding. But, can they bear to be apart that long?

What wraps together this Christmas tale? The Fourteenth Quilt. 

Excerpt - Getting to Know You
“Would you like to go on a date?”

“No. Oh, no,” Sarah shook her head even more vigorously. “Right now the only thing I’m interested in is getting through finals. I’m not really interested in meeting a bunch of guys and doing the dating scene.”

“I wasn’t thinking of a bunch of guys. I was wondering if you would like to go on a date with me sometime.”

Sarah had not expected this. She forced herself to not let her mouth drop open. She looked up again and stared at Brian as if seeing him for the first time. He didn’t have the most rock star handsome face she had ever seen, but he was good-looking. Unlike most of her family who were tall and heftily-built people, he was thin and wiry. She wondered, when they both stood up, would he even be taller than she was?

With her eyes locked on his, she witnessed kindness as he patiently waited for her answer. Then again, for a second she worried the hint of laughter in his eyes indicated he enjoyed witnessing her discomfort.

Sarah didn’t know what to say. He looked like a nice guy, but she didn’t really know anything about him.

“I…I don’t know,” Sarah stammered. “We really don’t know each other. It’s not like Jenna actually introduced us or ever told me anything about you.”

Brian chuckled. 
“You need to understand, Sarah, I didn’t know anyone on your bench. I was sitting here because I’m Len’s friend, and I’ve met his girlfriend, Terry. Terry is friends with that dark-haired girl. I think her name was Angie. Evidently, Angie knew your friend. What was her name?”

“Jenna,” supplied Sarah. “I don’t know her all that well, although she seems to be really nice. We share a class together.”

“But, you know her name,” Brian pointed out. “I suspect that Jenna didn’t make intros because, other than Angie, who was sitting next to her, she didn’t know anyone on my bench.”

Sarah shrugged. She could see how that could have happened.

“I don’t want to pressure you if you don’t feel comfortable going out with me,” said Brian. “But, I like you and would like to get to know you better.”

He doesn’t want to pressure me if I don’t feel comfortable?

Sarah blinked as she thought about his words. It seemed like everyone she knew was always trying to push her out of her comfort zone. 

About Robyn Echols:

Robyn Echols has been writing since she was in junior high school. By choice, she spent most of her evening hours in her "dungeon", as her mother
called her downstairs bedroom, writing stories, only joining her family in front of the television upstairs when her favorite programs were playing. She has spent hours learning and teaching family history topics, and focuses on history from a genealogist's perspective of seeking out the details of everyday life in the past.

Now Robyn resides with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite” and has fun researching and writing the books that she hopes will interest and entertain her readers. She writes Young Adult/New Adult and contemporary fiction under Robyn Echols and adult historical romance under her pen name, Zina Abbott.

The author is a member of Women Writing the West, American Night Writers Association, and Modesto Writers Meet Up. She currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” She enjoys any kind of history including family history. When she is not piecing together novel plots, she pieces together quilt blocks.

Author Links:

Website |  Blog  |  Facebook |  Twitter |  Pinterest

Quilt Gateway blog (See posts for September 2015)

Purchase Links:


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

What I've Learned from Writing a Series

Be warned - this may be a long post. But a fun one!

I've written series before, but not one where the story continues on and the characters are deeply involved in one another's lives. I have to admit. I LOVE IT! No, I didn't love every minute. Sometimes, I didn't know how to go on. Some days, I stared at the screen and wrote maybe two or three sentences or nothing at all! But, I had to share with you the joys I've discovered in writing The Album series.

First off, let me give you a brief overview of what the series is about. Later on, I'll give a blurb of each book and I have a cover reveal for the first one at the bottom.

The Album is a magic antique which shows the owner whether a couple has a good future together. The photos of the couple are placed in the first two pages of the antique book and then the book comes to life with images of their future in the subsequent pages. Four girlie friends who live in a hot, boring place in South Africa share pain - they've never had much luck with men and love. But they have each other. Ella is the matchmaker of the group and she inherits The Album from a relative. Thus begins her adventure in using The Album to bring couples together. Little does she know that The Album also brings magic into the owner/user's life in the form of love and a whole lot more goodness.

Beware - lots of romance ahead.

Why I enjoyed writing this series SO MUCH:

1. I didn't have to think of new characters for each book.

2. I became deeply invested in the characters' lives and loved having them hang on throughout the series.

3. I loved showing the characters from different point of views, for e.g. Andrea, the heroine of Book 4 is quite a tough cookie. Her friends often find her bossy and that she can speak her mind too easily yet they love her. Ella struggles with her straightforwardness the most. Pauline not as much but a bit. Carol gets on with her easily as she's also tough-minded in several ways. Anyway, in the last book, the true Andrea is understood as we burrow inside her mind and heart. True love also changes her as you will find out...

4. I loved coming up with new ways to incorporate the magic into the lives of the characters. I thoroughly enjoyed writing about magic and seeing how it plays it differently with the unique stories and characters of each book.

5. I adored having four girlie friends who stick by each other no matter what. To be honest, I kind of envy their relationships. They're there for each other and support one another through all sorts.

6. I used a series bible to make sure I didn't forget important points from previous books. It can be a bit daunting as I could have gotten an eye or hair colour wrong. I may still find this in editing. But it actually turned out a fun challenge.

7. The message threading through each book also gets threaded through the series.

I could go on, but I don't want to bore you.

Here are the not-so-quick summaries of each story. How hard it was to summarise these stories.

The Album 1 - Looking for Love - Ella's Story

When Ella inherits a magic antique photo album that reveals the future of couples, she embarks on a part-time matchmaking business to bring couples together with the help of her three best friends - Pauline, Andrea and Carol. It's always been her dream to help people find true love. But finding true love herself isn't in her plans. Even when her best guy friend Ross confesses he's fallen in love with her. In fact, she's really mad at him because he may ruin their solid friendship. Ross is devastated that Ella doesn't want to pursue more than friendship. He withdraws and when Ella tried to match him to her friend, Pauline, he's not happy. Maybe he should play along with her plan though just to make her jealous. Through a series of adventures and happenings between Ella and Ross, Ella discovers that maybe The Album brings more than love and magic into the lives of people she meets, but also touches her own life. While she uses it to bring people together, she discovers things about love and what's been holding her back in opening up her heart.

The Album 2 - Love Finds a Way - Pauline's Story

Pauline's dream is to run her own cooking school but she's stuck in a boring job at a quiet crafts shop. At least she has her food blog. When, to her surprise, she gets chosen as a contestant in the reality TV cooking competition called The Culinary Dream and flies out to Italy for the filming, her hopes seem possible. She reluctantly assumes ownership of The Album upon Ella's insistence she needs it. Being kicked out on the first round devastates and humiliates her. Pauline decides to stay on in Italy on holiday so she doesn't have to face up to her family and friends. The cute food photographer and cinematographer of the show, Xaden, catches her eye but she discovers he's the brother of the man who broke her heart, so she pushes him away. Then when The Culinary Dream offers her a job as the magazine editor for their show, she can't turn away the opportunity to stay on in the beautiful European country even if she has to work alongside Xaden. As the couple spend time working together, they are drawn close, despite Pauline's fear of Xaden being like his brother and her reticence to any romance. The Album gives her opportunities to impact other's lives and also makes Xaden more curious about the woman with the magic. But there are barriers to their love - her friends' warnings of her getting involved with a fling with the brother of a heart-breaker and Xaden has his own issues about settling down.

The Album 3 - The Magic of Love - Carol's Story

Carol inherits The Album from her friend Pauline. She's always been fascinated with the magic and longed to use it. But then The Album disappears before she has a chance to make use of it. Why her? Why now? Devastated and feeling guilty for losing her friend's antique, she soon discovers her boyfriend, Cliff, is the one who stole it. Anxious for answers and to obtain the antique back, she hires a private investigator to help her out. Darryn isn't into relationships. His main goal in life is to find his late father's killer. That's why he opened up his investigative business years ago. When Carol asks for his help, he's fascinated by her request but even more by her. They embark on an adventure and fly to Canada to find The Album and its thief. Their moments together are charged with sexual tension and attraction. But Carol is devastated by Cliff's betrayal and Darryn holds back because of his pledge. Besides that, Carol discovers that The Album isn't the only magic antique missing. Now she and Darren must find the antiques belonging to several owners back in South Africa who are missing their precious treasures.

The Album 4 - Love's Gentle Wish - Andrea's Story

Andrea's always found the magic of The Album creepy so when Carol dumps it in her bag, she puts the artefact away. She's been working toward a promotion for years, but when her boss calls her in and gives her a retrenchment package instead, she's devastated and financially desperate. Carol insists she take up the job she was offered by Jeanie, one of the magic antique owners, to help her research in writing a book on the magic antiques. Desperate for some income, Andrea takes up the position while also assisting Pauline in the office of her new cooking school. Really, now she has to interview people about magic? Of all things? Andrea moves into the cottage at the bottom of Jeanie's garden to help save money. Jeanie's son, Trent, the mommy's boy, struggling artist, as she presumes, takes an interest in her and becomes her "saviour." Andrea's going to need all the help she can get as she not only inherits a scary magic album, but also her orphaned cousin, Lucy, who doesn't speak to her at all. How will she help the young teen overcome the grief of losing her parents and adapt to a new environment away from her friends? Trent turns out to be not a struggling artist, but rather a knight in shining armour in her time of need. But Andrea doesn't do romance. No, she's suffered a broken heart that, four years later, she still hasn't gotten over.

And here's the cover of The Album 1 for you to get a foretaste of this FUN series which should be coming out in a few months: