Category Archives: Dana Taylor

DEVIL MOON– “Either shoot me or marry me”

 Enjoy the “Marry Me” scene from—

Devil Moon: A Mystic Romance

By Dana Taylor

Devil Moon: A Mystic RomanceWelcome to the mystical town of Beaver Cove, Arkansas where country ghosts offer homey advice and the moon makes lovers of total strangers! Maddie Harris left Boston in humiliation.  She hopes the job as assistant principal in a small Arkansas town will keep her too busy to notice the hole where her heart used to be. Phil Wilcox, divorced former NFL star, returns to his hometown as the new football coach.  He hopes to repair the tattered relationship with his eleven-year-old daughter, despite his thorny ex-wife. Maddie is neat and color coordinated; Phil takes “casual” to its limits. Neither is seeking romance, but a mischievous moon and a friendly spirit have other ideas. “Round Table Review” says “Devil Moon is a lovely romance full of whimsy, comedy and bittersweet twists.”

The set up:  This scene is toward the end of the book. Maddie has been warned off Phil by his ex-wife who has threatened to take Phil’s daughter out of his life unless Maddie gives him up. (Maddie occasionally gets advice from her dead Grandmother.)

Setting:  Maddie’s kitchen

 Maddie sat up straight. She’d been wishing the interminable breakfast would simply end. And now he appeared on the verge of proposing marriage.

She put a hand on his arm. “Don’t say it, Phil.”

“Now you don’t even know what I’m going to say. See, we’re good for each other.” He covered her hand and looked at her with the innocence of a puppy. “I love you. I’ve known it for a good little while. You make me happy and I think we’d make a great team. We need each other. We’re right together. Oh, hell, Maddie, either shoot me and put me out of my misery or marry me.” He released a deep breath. “There, I said it. I think we should get married. What do you say?”

He looked so happy, she wanted to throw up. Her voice came out hoarse. “I can’t marry you, Phil. It just wouldn’t work.”

An expression of shocked pain flashed across his face before it quickly changed to anger. “Oh, I get it. It’s one thing to have a roll in the sheets with the football jock, but you wouldn’t want to marry him.”

“No, no, it’s not like that.”

“Then what is it? Explain it to me.”

Oh God, she wasn’t ready for this. She hadn’t rehearsed a speech. She crossed her legs and tried to assume an elegant air. “Well, you’re from one world and I’m from another and I don’t think we’re compatible. You’re much too messy. I wouldn’t want to be picking up your socks and picking out your clothes.” Oh yes she would, she really would.

Phil stood up. “Okay, sweetheart, you’re too good for me. I get it. An alcoholic, has-been football player isn’t your idea of husband material. Well, let me tell you something, babe. You’re passing up a good deal.”

She knew that. She knew he was the best thing that had ever come along in her whole life. “It wouldn’t be a suitable match, that’s all. I think you have many fine qualities, but you’re just not my type. I hope we can be friends, for the baby’s sake.”

He grabbed her chin and forced her to look in his face. “This is so much baloney. You came onto me the other night like it was for keeps. You didn’t say it, but I could feel it in your body, see it on your face. You love me, goddamn it! You look me straight in the eye and deny it. Say it. Say ‘Phil, I don’t love you.’ I don’t think you can.”

Maddie swallowed and dug deep down to a well of strength she didn’t know she possessed. She had to make the lie seem true. In a calm and measured voice she said, “Phil…I…don’t… love you.”

He released her as if he’d been burned, turned on his heel and rushed for the door. She flinched at the slam and closed her eyes. Taking a breath, she opened them again and surveyed the incredible mess he’d made making one small meal.

Standing before the sink was the see-through figure of Grammy Harris. “Pitiful, simply pitiful. You’ve set the Harris womenfolk back ’bout a hundred years.”

 ****

February 2012 Amazon Customer review from Dafna Yee–

Devil Moon is a charming love story with well-rounded characters (even Grammy’s ghost has a great personality!). The dialogue is terrific and the banter between stuck-up Maddie and laid-back Phil gave me lots of smiles. Randy makes a wonderful secondary character as Maddie’s best friend while Pam makes a classic villain. I especially loved the sub-plot of the relationship between Phil and his daughter, Melissa, who ended up saving the day. The complex issues of single motherhood, abortion, homosexuality, and alcohol/drug abuse were dealt with sensitively and really added to the story line. This book is a cut above your usual romance and I definitely recommend it.

Get caught in the spell of Devil Moon: A Mystic Romance

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Theresa Ragan, “Overnight success”

And here’s the rest of the story–Part 2 of our interview with Theresa Ragan (T.R. Ragan), author of the Lizzy Gardner series and more.

Dana Taylor: I love these tales of people who are “overnight successes”! Theresa, there are a lot of Indie authors uploading a lot of manuscripts, but few are having your level of success. What would you say is making your stories stand out? Also—why did the agents and editors miss a 6 time Golden Heart finalist?

Amazon's Complete Selection of Theresa Ragan BooksTR: It is strange…writing for nearly two decades and feeling like an overnight success. Why did agents and editors miss a 6 time Golden Heart finalist? Good question! Ha! Long ago, I had heard that once an author finalled in the Golden Heart, the chances of selling were better than ever. Six finals in the GH and still nothing. I had signed with two agents, but ultimately both agents had a favorite book that they tried to sell, which meant that two or three of my books were submitted to about 20 or 30 editors. That meant that 20 or 30 people had decided my future writing career. If I were to give advice to an author looking for an agent, I would say don’t sign with an agent unless he/she loves ALL of your work, or at least most of it. Taming Mad Max

Looking back, I blame myself since I don’t think I was pro-active enough. Instead of leaving it up to my agent to make a sale, I should have found a way to make sure ALL of my books were being submitted around NY. Regarding your first question about why my books are standing out…when I wasn’t selling I would sometimes ask “why me?” And now that I am selling, I sometimes ask “why me?” I really have no idea why my books are selling well, but if I had to guess, I would say that it really is about luck and timing. Thrillers are hot right now. I hit the right genre at the right time. And maybe, just maybe, I finalled in the Golden Heart six times for a reason. I always believed that finalling in the Golden Heart meant that my stories had a certain “appeal.”

DT: Seeing how capricious “success” seems to be in the book business, it does feel like there are perhaps Greek Gods simply playing with authors as their little pawns. At any rate, I think your increasingly popularity has to be a sign that READERS LIKE YOUR BOOKS! They read one and continue on with the series.

Will you give us a mini-tour through your books and some of your favorite characters?

Finding Kate Huntley

TR: As I mentioned earlier, when I sat down to write my first book years ago, it was a medieval time travel romance. My plan was to write medieval time travels forever! I worked so long and so hard on Return of the Rose that I practically have the book memorized. I love every character and I think this book will always be my favorite. I especially adore the hero, Derek Vanguard, Lord of Braddock Hall. He is misunderstood. He’s one hundred percent alpha male, gruff around the edges, but most importantly, he’s a genuinely nice guy.

A Knight in Central Park is the second book and the second medieval time travel I wrote. The hero, Joe, is based on a thought I had one day when I wondered what my husband, Joe, would do if he found himself miraculously transported to another time–a time without toothpaste, hot showers and soap. My husband would not handle it well and neither does the hero in my book.

I wrote Taming Mad Max and Having My Baby (coming soon) out of desperation to sell to NY since time travels weren’t selling, or at least that’s what I was told. I love reading and writing romantic comedies and I plan to write many more.

The next book I wrote was Finding Kate Huntley, a romantic suspense. I really like Kate, the heroine. She’s feisty and she doesn’t take any crap from anyone. After my agent shopped it around and the book didn’t sell, I read about Lisa Gardner’s transition from writing romance to thrillers. I was fascinated by her two-year journey. I spent the next few months dissecting popular thrillers. I read every article Lisa Gardner wrote on plotting thrillers. By this time, I was a tiny bit annoyed about not selling and I decided that I was going to write a thriller and kill off my characters along with my frustrations. It was working, too, but then I began to research real-life serial killers and I started having nightmares. I couldn’t cook dinner without visualizing all of the horrible things that my killer could do with the knives in the drawer.

 Abducted was the first book I had ever written that I couldn’t wait to read the minute I wrote The End. I feel connected to every character in my Lizzy Gardner series. They are all resilient characters who have lived through horrible events, but who are also determined to not allow their demons to get the best of them.

Okay, that’s the end of my “mini” tour, Dana. Aren’t you glad you didn’t ask for the full blown tour? As you can see, I tend to ramble on and on. I can’t thank you enough for inviting me to talk with you. If anyone has any questions at all, ask away! 

DT: Theresa signed a contract with Thomas & Mercer at Amazon at the end of March for her Lizzy Gardner series. All of her books are enjoying steady sales. You can visit Theresa at her website http://www.theresaragan.com/. Be sure and ask a question or make a comment here to be eligible for a FREE copy of one of her books.

Coming soon to BLB–Marsha Canham and Anne R. Allen. As always, we remind you to support your favorite authors by writing customer reviews.

 

T.R. Ragan–Break-out Indie Author

Dana Taylor

Dana Taylor: Hey Babes!  You’re in for a treat. You may have noticed a gal by the last name of RAGAN bouncing all over the romance bestseller lists at Amazon. The tagline on her website reads “3 genres, 2 names, 1 author.” Writing as both T.R. Ragan and Theresa Ragan, this author is hitting her stride.   Here are the ASTOUNDING numbers–as of March 31, 2012 she has sold 255,655 books as an Indie Author. That doesn’t include the over 185,000 free downloads. Is it any surprise that she just snagged her first publishing contract with her Lizzy Gardner series with Amazon’s Thomas and Mercer Imprint? I’m very happy she’s agreed to stop by BLB and let us get to know her.

DT: Welcome to BLB, Theresa. I’ve been watching your star rising for the past several months. Can you give us a little background about yourself and your road as an author?

 Theresa Ragan: Hi Dana. And hello to ALL of the Book Luvin’ Babes out there! Thank you so much for having me.

        Personal Info: I’ve been happily married for twenty-five years. In fact, it just keeps getting better and better. I love spending time with my four kids. I have been playing the piano since I was 8 years old. I love to travel and I have been spoiled by my sister who has taken me on many faraway adventures.

     Author Info: Nearly twenty years ago, I read A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux, and the minute I finished that book I knew I wanted to write my own time travel romance. I was pregnant with my fourth and last child, home on leave of absence from work, and I was tired of watching Young and the Restless.( I can still hear the theme song after all these years.) Five years later, my youngest was entering Kindergarten when I finished Return of the Rose. When daycare costs became more than my paycheck, I had to quit my job as a legal secretary. With four kids at home, I had to write early in the morning, late at night, and in the car while waiting for the kids to get out of school.

 It was 1997 or 98 when a friend of mine told me that there was a group of writers called the Romance Writers of America. I didn’t have a computer at the time, but I went to the library, found a phone number and joined RWA. I still remember how exciting it was to talk on the phone with Patti Berg about joining the Sacramento Chapter of RWA. It was so wonderful to meet other like-minded people who had crazy scenes, characters, and dialogue running through their head. I learned more in that first year of being an RWA member than in the five years I had been writing. I learned all about point of view and dialogue tags. Seven national conferences, two agents, too many contests to count, 6 finals in the Golden Heart competition, hundreds of workshops and creative writing classes later, my youngest was entering college! Where did the time go?

I had written more than ten 400-page novels, I had worked with agents and editors, but I still had not made a sale to New York. I was writing every day. I was doing everything right, but my time was up. It was time for me to get a real job that paid real money. While reading through the Want Ads and looking for a job, I had an epiphany. Well, really my epiphany came in the form of Cate Rowan talking/blogging about self-publishing. Why not self-publish my two time travel romances? I read Return of the Rose for the millionth time and I knew it was time to give my books a chance. I had absolutely nothing to lose. Within weeks, I had sold hundreds of books, and within months, I had sold thousands. I was blown away. I still am.

TOMORROW–The Indie road and a mini-tour through Theresa’s books.

Spring into Books Winners Announced!

        Thanks to all the participants in the Spring into Books Blog Hop. I had quite a pile of entries! Drum roll, please. The Cockatoo Tote Bag winner is…

KITTY CARTOUCHE  Send an Earth Day Amazon.com Gift Card

Winner of the $20.00 Amazon Gift Card is JULIE WITT and because I’m feeling generous–MARY MICHAUD & ANDREA BRIGNET are receiving free copies of JAGUAR JACK

                  Thanks to everyone who participated! Keep visiting Book Luvin’ Babes. We have a lot of fun plans for the coming months. As always–we remind you to support your favorite authors by posting customer reviews.–Dana Taylor 

Go ape with “Bonobo Handshake”

Review by Dana Taylor

One of my favorite reads of last year was something I picked up on a whim at the library–Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo by Vanessa Woods. Romance, adventure, politics, and sex–monkey sex–Bonobo Handshake has it all.Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo

Product description:

A young woman follows her fiancé to war-torn Congo to study extremely endangered bonobo apes-who teach her a new truth about love.

In 2005 Vanessa Woods accepted a marriage proposal from a man she barely knew and agreed to join him on a research trip to the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. Settling in at a bonobo sanctuary in Congo’s capital, Vanessa and her fiancé entered the world of a rare ape with whom we share 98.7 percent of our DNA and who live in a peaceful society in which females are in charge, war is nonexistent, and sex is as common and friendly as a handshake.

A fascinating memoir of hope and adventure, Bonobo Handshake traces Vanessa’s self-discovery as she finds herself falling deeply in love with her husband, the apes, and her new surroundings in this true story of revelation and transformation in a fragile corner of Africa.

Written with a breezy first person tone, the book is engaging, informative and ultimately quite moving as the reader comes to care about the small bonobos and their struggle to survive on a continent torn by strife. Woods achieves a pathos that Sara Gruen somehow missed in her attempt to publicize bonobos in Ape House last year.

If you’re looking for something a little different with heart and humor, take a peek at Bonobo Handshake.

*******

The Spring into Books Blog Hop continues through March 30. You can’t win if you don’t enter!

Support your favorite authors by posting Amazon customer reviews.

“Spare Change” Jingles

BLB Indie Gem

Congratulations to Shirley King and “Catwagman” for winning a free copy of SPARE CHANGE. Thanks for participating the caption contest!–BLB

UPDATE: Congratulations Bette!–SPARE CHANGE just won First Place in the Reader’s View Literary Awards Competition for both General Fiction and Southeast Regional Fiction so it was elgible for a special award – and it won the JACK EATON BEST BOOK IN CONTEMPORARY DRAMA AWARD. ($100.) Following is the criteria used for this award … Criteria: The characters must be vividly portrayed as those individuals who can exist side-by-side with someone living in this world now, dealing with issues of today in a dramatic fashion. The setting must be excruciatingly real.

Olivia Westerly is superstitious to the core. She knows what she knows. Opals mean disaster, eleven is the unluckiest number on earth, and children weigh a woman down like a pocketful of stones. That’s why Olivia avoided marriage for almost forty years. But when Charlie Doyle happened along, he was simply too wonderful to resist. Now she’s a widow with an eleven-year-old boy claiming to be her dead husband’s grandson. Against her better judgment, Olivia takes him in. With a foul mouth, dark secrets and heavily guarded emotions, Ethan Allen Doyle is not an easy child to like. He swears he’s got dead parents, and no other relatives. He was counting on the grandpa he’d never met for a place to hide, but now that plan is shot to hell because the grandpa’s dead too. Olivia claims she’s not his real grandma, but if she doesn’t let him stay, he’s flat out of luck. He’s got seven dollars and twenty-six cents, his mama’s will for staying alive, and Dog. But none of those things are gonna help if Scooter Cobb finds him. Only two people know the truth of what happened the night his parents were murdered–Ethan Allen isn’t talking and the man who squashed his daddy’s head like a pumpkin wants to make sure he never does. Ethan Allen knows the same fate awaits him if Scooter Cobb catches wind of where he is. The only one who can stop it from happening is Olivia. Written in a Southern voice, SPARE CHANGE takes place in the 1950’s and provides a poignant albeit sometimes humorous look at the weighty issues of love, loss, and adapting to change.Spare Change

Review by Dana Taylor

SPARE CHANGE is one of those books that starts out good and just gets better. Bette Lee Crosby evokes a post-war America not quite Norman Rockwellian, but close. Norman didn’t paint people like Ethan Allen’s parents, but Olivia and the residents of the Wyattsville Arms might have posed for him. Crosby writes with a strong style, bringing many characters alive with their separate voices while moving the story along at a good clip. Spare Change is reminiscent of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mocking Bird, making the South come alive with flawed human beings. It’s a special story that deserves a wide audience and we hope that Book Luvin’ Babes can give it a boost.

Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby brings the wit and wisdom of her Southern Mama to works of fiction—the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery and romance along with a cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away.

 Crosby’s work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. Since that, she has gone on to win several more awards, including another NLAPW award, three Royal Palm Literary Awards, the FPA President’s Book Award Gold Medal and most recently the 2010 Reader’s View Southeast Fiction Literary Award.

 Her published works to date are: Girl Child (2007), Cracks in the Sidewalk (2009), and Spare Change (2011).  She has also authored a memoir for Lani Deauville, a woman the Guinness Book of Records lists as the world’s longest living quadriplegic. Scheduled for release in March 2012, the book is titled “Life in the Land of IS.”

 

Three Moons Over Sedona

INDIE GEM

Three Moons Over Sedona

Three Moons Over Sedona by Sherry Hartzler

Review by Dana Taylor

Any title with the word Sedona in it, is going to get my attention.  The story begins, however, in Ohio with these lines:

 Georgia Mae Brown wanted out of her life. No rush. She’d already waited fifty-three years.

Author Sherry Hartzler piqued my curiosity from the title to the opening paragraph and I soon became caught up in Georgia’s journey of transition and self-discovery. Georgia’s life has recently been turned upside down by the death, under embarrassing circumstances, of her husband, Ed. As the story opens, she is heading out for a gallon of milk and just keeps going.

An aimless drive turns into a road trip when a stranger at a gas station mentions Sedona, Arizona as a “must see” location. Georgia now has a destination and the hope that she’ll find clarity in the new surrounding.

Hartzler does an excellent job of weaving Georgia’s past and present into a smooth story flow. She introduces new characters along the way. Soon Georgia is involved with younger friends in Sedona dealing with their life challenges also.

Zoe is the daughter of a Joan Crawford-like movie star (with a little Loretta Young thrown in for good measure). Her story line adds glamour and mystery to the tale. Trish, the owner of the café where Georgia finds a home base, has her issues and the reader comes to care about her also.

Though the story is devoid of car chases, bad guys, shape shifters, or ditzy heroines, it provides an engaging cast of characters learning to take a chance on new friends and new loves.

Oh, yeah, and most of it takes place in one of my favorite spots, Sedona, Arizona. Did I mention that? Three Moons Over Sedona by   Sherry Hartzler, a BLB Indie gem.