Sunday, December 13, 2015

Trip of a Lifetime

If you've ever read my novels, you've probably noticed that I have a deep love for Ireland and Irish mythology. Every time I needed a new character to do something specific for my story, I would look through their mythology and find a creature that would do exactly that.

My dream for the last few years has been to travel to Ireland so I could see everything my books had talked about. I wanted to experience the Emerald Isle for myself. Partly so I could enjoy what I've grown to love, and partly to make sure that my research had steered me in the right direction for my novels.

This last August, Delta Airlines had an amazing sale using their air miles and I had the chance to do something I never thought I'd be able to do. We got to travel to England, and from there, we went to go to see Ireland and Scotland.

We left last week and started out in England. While my books have not been set there, I still got to go see some amazing things while I was there. The British Museum is full of artifacts that the British Empire stole from countries all over the world. Chinese, Japanese, German, and on and on. Every time I thought we were done, we'd find another whole wing of items. The Rosetta Stone is even in there.

But then we found out that one of the exhibits was about the Celtic culture. We bought our tickets and I went into devour everything I could learn about them. It was rich in history and had many items from that time. I was sad I couldn't take pictures while I was in there, so I tried to soak in as much as I could about the Celts and their history. MY history because these were my people. 

We also made at stop at King's Cross Station so I could get my photo with the cart going into Platform 9 3/4! 

The next morning we were off to Ireland. We took a train from London up to Holyhead, and then we took a ferry to Dublin from there. Amazing. Although I wasn't too fond of the up and down from the waves on the ferry. I got used to it about ten minutes from shore ... after a four hour trip.

We went right to the center of Dublin, and because we got there after all the sights had closed, we just walked around the streets to catch a glimpse of what we could. We found a memorial for those who had fought in wars, and a few cathedrals, and then we made our way back to our hotel.

I'd hoped to make to either the Blarney Castle or to a small forest near Kilkenny because they were both parts of my books, but we just didn't have enough time. The lady at the hotel warned us that while we could have gone to Blarney, it would have been cold, windy, and rainy. Not ideal when you want to climb 90 feet to the top of the castle...

We decided on a small place called Kilkenny. It was a 2 hour trip by bus, and then we stored our baggage at a hotel while we were there (Thanks to our concierge lady from the hotel in Dublin. She'd called in a favor.) 

Oh my goodness. It was the most amazing little place. The streets were cobbled in the pedestrian areas, and the stores were small and had the cool Celtic font the I love so much, and oh, there was a castle just hanging out in the middle of it.

We toured the castle and saw tapestries that were older than our country. It had been refurbished a few different times in it's history and was owned by a family until the 1920s when it was turned over to the city. 

Yeah, that's a castle. Just hanging out right there.

The dungeon
The whole castle. There used to be four walls, but Oliver Cromwell knocked one of them down.

My favorite little shop.

Afterward we went to lunch at a little pub that was in a home built in 1049. The owner was a woman who was charged with witchcraft, but she'd managed to escape before they burned her at the stake. The walls were a rough brick, and it was so cool to be eating in side a place that was so old. Plus, the Irish stew was to die for.

We'd planned to catch a bus back to Dublin so we could see Dublin Castle, St Patrick's Cathedral, and the leprechaun museum, but the bus didn't come for another five hours, so we were stuck in the most perfect little town ever. I didn't want to leave, so I counted it as a blessing that got to stay longer than we'd planned. 

Since we wouldn't get back in time to see anything in Dublin, we took the bus to the airport and went to our hotel. After dinner, we went right to sleep so we could get up at 4:30 in the morning to go catch a plane to Scotland. 

The plane actually took off at 7, but we still had to make the trip back to the airport from our hotel, and then walk back and forth to get from security to baggage claim and then to the plane. It was small and cramped, but otherwise it wasn't too bad. The ticket were also only 9 pounds, so we couldn't complain. 

We started out in Glasgow and walked around for a couple of hours, staring up at the architecture. It was amazing! It was colder than Ireland and we had to take our bags with us everywhere, so we didn't stay there for very long before hopping on the train over to Edinburgh.

They say that Edinburgh was built on seven hills. I'm pretty sure we walked up all of them. Okay, not really, but it felt like it. This was one place that showed up in my fourth Luck book so I wanted to get some research in. We also passed by the little shop where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter. Pretty cool!

After dropping our stuff off at the hotel, we made our way over to Edinburgh Castle. Our plan was to go there and tour, and then head over to Holyrood Palace since both places were in my book. We missed the Holyrood Palace tour by eight minutes. Bummer.

BUT the Edinburgh Castle was amazing. Every wall was filled with the history of Scotland. We saw cannons, towers, dungeons, old bathrooms, bedrooms, a military memorial, and my favorite, the crown jewels. That part actually gave me some great ideas for this last luck book. So be watching for it!

Afterward, we talked to a lady about our family names and ended up staying there to talk for at least an hour. She was wonderful to talk to, but as we talked, it started raining outside. I'm not talking normal rain. I'm talking heavy, soak everything you own rain. We still made our way over to the palace (and just missed it) so we could at least get a picture, and then headed back to the hotel. We did try one souvenir shop, but we were too wet to actually want to buy anything. They tried to get us to buy an umbrella, but by that time there was no point. When we got back to the hotel, we had to empty out our bags, pockets, and everything else so we could use an iron and blow dryer to dry our clothes out. It was crazy! 

The next morning we headed back to England. The countryside was beautiful as we traveled the four hours back down to London. We took our stuff back to the same hotel we'd stayed at before and boarded a tour bus. We got to see Big Ben, the tower bridge, Tower of London, several cathedrals, and the London Eye. Sadly it was too dark to see Buckingham Palace, but I still enjoyed the tour. Afterward we walked over to Piccadilly Circus and toured the area. We found Hamley's toystore that had been there since 1760. Holy moly. We wandered through the streets again to find dinner and then made our way back to the hotel to collapse.

We only had one more morning, so we stored our things and took a train over to walk along the Thames River and to go see the tower of London. We didn't have a chance to go in, but we did stop at the gift shop, so that counts, right? We hopped back on the bus again, and toured through London, but had to get off before Buckingham Palace (sigh... we missed it twice) so we could get on a train and sprint back to the hotel to get our stuff so we get catch a train to the airport. 

While we sat there, we found out that the area we'd traveled through from Scotland to London was flooded. It was crazy! 

It was the most amazing trip we'd ever taken, and while we could have used another month or five to see everything we wanted to, I counted myself lucky that I could see the places that my characters had traveled in my books.  If you ever have a chance to go and research the places you write about, take it. Enjoy it. And soak in every ounce of history you possibly can. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Multi-Author Book sale!!

The authors of Echo Ridge decided to organize a multi-author sale during release week and invite our favorite authors to join us. All the books featured on this sale are only $.99 and they are all amazing!
Don't forget to enter the rafflecopter giveaway for $200 in Christmas Cash.
Happy book shopping!

Christmas Kisses: An Echo Ridge Anthology
Christmas Kisses is a collection from five bestselling and award-winning authors. Set in the snowy town of Echo Ridge in upstate New York, these inspirational romances are sure to delight while you sip cocoa by the fire and listen to Christmas carols.
Amazon * iTunes * Barnes & Noble * Smashwords * Kobo * Goodreads

Brownies & Betrayal by Heather Justesen
Pastry chef Tess Crawford thought moving from Chicago to quiet Silver Springs, Arizona would simplify her life. That was before she found the body of a woman with whom she had traded heated words the previous night, left her fingerprints on
the murder weapon, and came under attack for trying to clear her name. When her cheating ex-fiance shows up, intent on convincing her to come back to work for him, Tess—armed with an extra batch of éclairs—decides to take control and solve the mystery herself, with the help of friends and frenemies alike.
But will that be enough to save her when she gets too close and the killer decides it’s safer to get her out of the way?

Simplify & Savor the Season by Connie E. Sokol
Ready to enjoy the holidays again? Use this two-part holiday organizer to help you savor the celebrations. In the first half of the book, brainstorm the Big Four; then, detail the To Dos including menu, gift-planning, etc. with success tips on how to eliminate the unnecessary and focus on the essential. Wrap up with "5 Holiday Juicers" to make life joyful. Keep your notes handy in the companion Simplify & Savor Take-along Planner. 
With the second half of the book. curl up with a cup of cocoa and read "Savory Suggestions and Stories," a collection of laugh-out-loud anecdotal stories including "Let Go of the Cookie Cutter Christmas" and "Thankful for Turkey Warbling". Make this holiday season one you remember and enjoy!

Diamond Rings are Deadly Things by Rachelle J. Christensen
Adrielle Pyper knows how to plan a wedding, and she's especially good at pleasing bridezillas. But when her biggest client and best friend is murdered just three days before the wedding, Adri's world falls apart. She moves to the resort town of Sun Valley, Idaho, and starts from scratch. Thanks to Adri's impeccable taste and unique style, she lands two celebrity clients, and her business seems headed for success—until someone vandalizes the specialty wedding dresses she imported from overseas. Adri must race to uncover the secret hidden within the yards of satin and lace before she becomes the next victim. 
With a delightful blend of mystery, toe-curling kisses, humor, and spine-tingling thrills, Diamond Rings are Deadly Things will keep you turning pages long into the night. 

A Baker's Dozen by Lucy McConnell
Tempt your sweet tooth with 13 delicious, easy, and beautiful dessert recipes. Each recipe has been time-tested and found irresistible. You’ll horde the Lemon Brownies but you might be willing to share the Rock and Roll Cake—with a good friend. 
Recipes include: Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Cookies, Pumpkin Bunt Cake, S’mores Cheesecake, No-Fail Lemon Bars 
Impress your coworkers, family, friends, and even the guys at the car repair shop with these recipes. They’re sure to become favorites in your recipe box, lunch box, and ice box. 

The Colony by Cami Checketts
To protect her sons from the mistakes of her past, Brinlee Trapper escapes to a secluded mountain home. But there are dangers lurking in the mountains she has never encountered. The little family is saved from injury by Jed, a mysterious hunter. Brinlee is drawn to him, but she worries about his involvement with a peaceful commune hidden deep in the mountains behind her property.
Lance, Brinlee's attentive neighbor, has his own troubled history. Between his obvious attraction to Brinlee and his developing love for her children, Brinlee finds it more than difficult to guard her heart against this tender intrusion.
While Jed offers a life of excitement and freedom, Lance holds the key to the family Brinlee always wanted. When it comes time to choose, she learns that both men have secrets that could shatter her fledgling trust in men and the wrong decision could leave more than her heart exposed to danger.

Torn Canvas by Donna K. Weaver
Modern-day pirates took more than Jori Virtanen’s friends; they stole his face. Not only does the twenty-four-year-old former model have to confront months of reconstructive surgery, he discovers his previous life was as superficial as his looks. Up-and-coming talk show host Olivia Howard wants an interview. She, like the rest of the press, expects a hero, but Jori knows the truth. His beauty masks a beast.
In seclusion and evading the press, Jori struggles to make a new life as an artist. But he can’t hide from himself; more than his face is damaged. How can Jori possibly make amends for all that he’s broken? When Olivia finally tracks him down, he must decide if he can trust her. Could this unlikely woman be a key to freeing his heart and healing the beast?
The audiobook is only $1.99 with the purchase of the ebook.

Son of War Daughter of Chaos by Janette Rallison
Aislynn is accustomed to watching for the enemy. Her parents instructed her from the time she was young to look for people with the signs: greater than normal strength, eyes that can glow green, and the ability to jump long distances. Over the years, Aislynn has come to view her parents' fears as quirks-things that get in the way of having a normal high school life. When Aislynn's mother dies under suspicious conditions, her father doubles his restrictions. But all his precautions can't stop the boy with glowing green eyes from finding Aislynn. She realizes too late she's been drafted into an ancient Egyptian war, whether she's prepared or not.

Vocal Crush by Lisa Swinton
Can you ever out run a broken heart?
Lexi Court spent seven years traveling the world, living the nomadic Broadway life, in an attempt to outrun the broken heart Nick Rivers gave her. Now, there’s nowhere left to go.
When she accepted a position as a high school drama teacher in Las Vegas, Lexi hoped to get over Nick, find a nice guy, and settle down. But what should be a quiet summer gets turned upside down when Lexi's best friend, Taffy, drafts her to be an emergency replacement coach on a televised vocal competition.
Feeling out of her league among the other three celebrity coaches, Lexi fights for the most promising contestants to be on her team. One note from a single voice shatters her summer. Nick unexpectedly auditions and joins Lexi's team. With her vocal crush on him raging as strong as ever, she has nowhere to run from Nick’s dreamy looks or siren voice.
Lexi has no doubt that Nick can win the competition. The question is does he want to win her heart as well or will he damage it beyond repair?
Think television reality show The Voice meets Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

Picture Perfect by U.S.A. Today Bestseller Heather B. Moore

Gemma has never done anything out of the ordinary, until her boyfriend Randy starts to ignore her. But even cutting and dyeing her hair doesn’t get his attention. She decides to join her old high school friends for spring vacation, only to be faced with Drew, her best friend who suddenly seems interested in her as more than a friend. Gemma must determine if her heart is on the rebound or if it’s finally met its true match.

Endless Modern Cinderella by Jaclyn Weist
Sydney lives her nightmares every night. While other teenagers are dreaming of boys or traveling to exotic places, she must run a staircase with no beginning or no end, or a terrible debt will never be paid. 
Just before her seventeenth birthday, the dreams change. She is no longer alone.  
But her nightmares don’t end when she wakes up. Her stepmother and stepsisters threaten to ruin everything she holds dear. She must protect the secret that both she and her father have magic or they will use it to their advantage. 
As Sydney learns to control her magic, what seemed impossible before—escaping her stepmother and those ever-present stairs—is now at her fingertips. When she learns the ultimate plan of her evil captor, Sydney must stop her at all costs, or she will forever be trapped inside her nightmares. 

Cookie Girl Christmas by Christene Houston

Molly Hayes has one more job before Christmas and then she can put her plans for a storefront bakery of her own in motion. What she doesn't bargain for is the handsome young Scrooge who insults her cookies and makes her blood boil. Toss in a heaping helping of snowstorm and a pinch of romantic old Inn and you've got yourself the perfect recipe for a not-so-silent-night.

And Something Blue by Paige Timothy

Bridal consultant Laurie Fletcher spends all her time helping others prepare for the most special day of their lives. Logan Reese is easily the most irritating man on the planet, and for some reason, he's made annoying Laurie his mission in life. Will true love ever come Laurie's way, or is she doomed to watch others get their happily ever after while she sits on the sidelines?

Six Days of Christmas by Kaylee  Baldwin

When Natalie goes home with her best friend for Christmas, she expects plenty of quiet time to work on a winning ad so she can turn her dream internship into her dream job. Instead, she gets time-consuming Christmas festivities, a house full of children who seem to be multiplying, and Jimmy, her best friend’s brother—someone who makes her question everything she’s always thought she wanted. 

Ring Around the Rosie by Julie Coulter Bellon
As the ex-wife of a law enforcement officer, Sarah Reed has known loneliness and loss. In order to cope, she makes a life for herself that's full of routine while building a wall of ice around her heart. Everything about her is as predictable as she can make it until a tiny detour for her ex-husband, Ron, changes her life forever. Caught in a bomb crisis, Sarah is taken hostage by a man who wants Ron and everyone around him to suffer---and his idea of suffering is more terrible than Sarah had ever dreamed. 
Captain Ron Reed has seen the worst of humanity in his job with the Hostage Negotiation Team, but he never expected his past to come back with a vengeance---literally. Aaron Starks, a criminal explosives expert, has stolen next-gen bomb technology. He uses it to force Ron to bargain for the lives of his team and his ex-wife, Sarah, the woman he still loves. But the situation escalates when Ron discovers that Starks has an even bigger objective in mind---using the bomb to show how vulnerable America and her people truly are. 
Ron is willing to risk everything to save his country and those he loves, but when negotiations break down, will his sacrifice be too little too late?

Yesterday by Amanda Tru
Her yesterday was five years ago. What will her tomorrow bring? 
When Hannah Kraeger saves a family injured in a car accident, she has no idea she has changed events in the past. Waking the next morning, Hannah discovers her yesterday was really five years ago. 
Each trip Hannah takes through time changes the timeline and her own life. With help from Dr. Seth McAllister, Hannah must unravel the mystery of why she time travels and who she actually is before the strange ability costs her future, the man she loves, and even her life. 
YESTERDAY is a thrilling Christian Romantic Suspense filled with unexpected twists, mystery, and romance. 

My One and Only by Shannon Guymon
Meredith Jensen has seen her share of ups and downs. She’s found love twice already and lost it in spectacularly traumatic ways. Now? She just wants a peaceful life, free from love and drama. Meredith’s plans for the future center around planning other people’s weddings and her new online dating website. Just because she works to help other people find love doesn’t mean she wants any part of it though. Unfortunately for Meredith’s plans, Asher Murphy is determined to get her to give love another chance. But then again, so is Pule Matafeo. Meredith has never denied that she’s stubborn and feisty so it might take the combined forces of all their friends in Fircrest to get her heart back on track in time for Valentine’s Day. 

Stealing Adda by Tamara Leigh
WRITER’S BLOCK, NIBBLED NAILS, PLAGIARISM, OH MY! AND DID I MENTION ROMANCE? Life for Adda Sinclaire, New York Times best-selling author and historical romance writer extraordinaire, reads more like a country song than a breathless, bodice-bursting affair. For starters, she has no romance in her own life. That might have something to do with the fact that her husband—correction, ex-husband—ran off with Stick Woman, whom everyone knew would never be more than a mid-list author anyway. To add insult to injury (and another verse to the country song), her ex not only took their dog but gave it to Stick Woman. If that isn't enough, Adda has come down with a horrible case of writer's block, finds herself gifted with a Bible that is determined to speak to her, and is the unwitting target of a romance cover model's misdirected advances. Just when she catches her breath—and quite possibly the eye of a certain fabulously good-looking man (ahem…her new editor)—her arch-nemesis gives the pot one final stir.

Spy by Night by Jordan McCollum
After watching her parents’ marriage crash and burn, CIA operative Talia Reynolds doesn’t believe in “happily ever afters.” Besides, her job entails eighty-hour weeks, juggling a dozen covers and disguises, and tracking down a dangerous Russian spy ring. She hardly has time for romantic entanglements, even if she could let her guard down enough to get close to anyone.But all the rules she lives by could be broken when she meets aerospace engineer Danny Fluker.
Danny moved to Canada for a great job — and a chance to start over after a bad breakup. Dating definitely isn’t in his plans . . . until beautiful and enigmatic Talia throws a perfect storm right in his flight path. When he catches a glimpse of the real woman behind her façade, he has to get to know her better.
Talia has to find a Russian spymaster before he figures out she’s not who she claims, and failing to keep her two lives separate in the process could mean the death of more than just her budding relationship. Danny has to decide if a future with Talia — and facing the past — is worth the risk of getting hurt again. If they can break through the barriers keeping them apart (and avoid a major international catastrophe), they just might have a chance at being happy together.

Saving Grace by Michele Paige Holmes
From #2 Amazon Bestselling Historical Romance Author and Whitney Award Winner, Michele Paige Holmes, comes SAVING GRACE, a regency romance from the Hearthfire Romance series: 
After the death of her grandfather, the Duke of Salisbury, Grace Thatcher wants nothing more than to live quietly in the country with her younger siblings. Her father’s debts thwart those plans, and to protect her sister, Helen, Grace must marry a man of her father’s choosing. 
As each suitor proves less than desirable, Grace comes up with clever schemes, causing each to reject her. While staying at the mysterious Sutherland Hall, a middle-of-the-night mishap sends Grace into the arms of a stranger, Nicholas Sutherland—and provides inspiration for her grandest plan yet—one that will leave her reputation in tatters yet free both her and Helen from all possibility of marriage. 
Too late Grace regrets her rash actions when her father’s last choice, Mr. Samuel Preston, proves to be a gentleman and a friend. But Samuel is the sworn enemy of Nicholas Sutherland, the man responsible for her “ruin.” Now instead of being free, Grace is caught between two men—each with his own agenda. 

An Unexpected Proposal by Annette Lyon
While working at a wood camp in the Logan canyon during the winter of 1880, Caroline Simpson is forced to thwart the aggressive advances of Mr. Butch Larson, and in the process discovers that her long-time friend James has genuine affection for her. But as stubborn as Caroline is, she minimizes the emotions James has awakened in her, and it takes almost losing him to admit her true feelings.
 An Unexpected Proposal was introduced in the first volume of the bestselling and award-winning Timeless Romance Anthology series, Winter Collection:
Amazon #1 Bestselling *New Release* in Clean Romance, Top 10 in Regency Romance, Top 5 in Victorian Romance

Paris Cravings by Amazon #1 Best Selling Author for Clean Romance, Kimberley Montpetit
Can life really turn on a dime, a missed bus—or a stuck pastry shop door?
Chloe Dillard's life has always been complicated. Her mother is a neurotic romance novelist and her boyfriend, Mathew, has been pressuring her to go "all the way".
But after The Worst Night of Her Life, Chloe escapes on her Senior Class trip to the swoon-worthy city of Paris which takes her mind off her troubles—temporarily. On the final leg of her dream trip, Chloe squeezes in one final run for a last-minute box of decadent pastries. Add a broken shop door, subtract a broken four-inch heel from her cute strappy sandals, and Chloe ends up one stuck girl on the bakery shop floor with a sprained ankle.
Rescued by the shop owner’s dreamy son with chocolate-syrup eyes, the beautiful city of Paris suddenly becomes Chloe’s personal secret adventure. And even though Jean-Paul, the oh-so-kind La Patisserie shop boy is the gentlemanly guy Chloe has always dreamed of, even he has a girlfriend.
The police are tracking her down as a run-away, Mom’s having a nervous breakdown over her daughter’s “disappearance”, and Chloe’s just trying to have a Happily-Ever-After even as her dreams with Matt are swirling down the drain.
What’s a girl to do in the most romantic city in the world?
Easy Pastry Recipe in the back of the book!

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