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An Improper Derailment: Chapter 1

Chapter one, where Mary receives bad news…

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Mary sat, perfectly poised. The crumpled telegram in her fist, and the white knuckles rimmed with red, strained skin were the only clues to her anger.

If the message had been delivered an hour earlier she would have taken to her bed, at least for a few days, maybe longer. But she had already endured the ritual torture of being laced in and dressed. Besides, if she took to her bed now she would miss lunch with Mr. Peterson, a cousin to the Washington Porter. Mr. Chicago fruit himself. Her grandfather should be pleased she was making such prudent and profitable connections.

Janey at least was thrilled that Mr. Peterson began calling on her younger sister. They had a constant delivery of fresh fruits, thanks to the Porter family connection. She told Mary this at every turn.

“Was Mr. Peterson to be expected today? Do you think he will bring us some oranges? Would it be rude of me to ask if he could get us grapes? They ship wine don’t they?”

She always asked Mary with a mischievous wistful air, but she never once spoke of fruit or wine to Mr. Peterson directly.

Mary breathed through her nose slowly. She had to calm her nerves or she would do herself a grievance. This corset was laced a bit too tightly. That was for the benefit of her lunch companion. He had stated he was taking them to the Palmer House, and then a stroll afterward.

Janey and her husband Charles would accompany them to lunch. And then the chaperones would ever so discreetly walk a distance behind them during their stroll so they could discuss matters privately.

Mary anticipated a declaration of some form this afternoon. A request to speak to her grandfather, maybe even an actual proposal, after all, Mr. Peterson was a bit daring when it came to the rules of proper society. He had already insisted that Mary refer to him by his nickname Py. She couldn’t even bring herself to call him by his given name of Pythagoras.

But this telegram changed everything.

“Mary I do believe—” Janey stopped abruptly as she swept into the parlor. “Well, this won’t do. We both can’t wear green.” She coughed delicately into a handkerchief. “You need to go put on that lavender dress.”

Mary did not suppress the glare she gave her sister. If anyone should change it was Janey. She looked dreadful in green. Almost as if she too took on a verdigris pallor emphasized by her color choice.

Charles languidly strolled in after his wife. “I say, that telegraph was inconveniently early.”

Mary wanted to scoff at his complaint as if he were the one to open the door and shoo the poor boy away. At the time Charles was barely awake and in a dressing gown.

“What telegraph?” All thoughts of almost matching dresses gone from Janey’s head in a blink.

The longer Mary stayed in Chicago, the longer she realized how well matched those two were. Selfish to the core. Charles may be self-centered, but he was ridiculously wealthy, and that’s why grandfather allowed Mary to visit for so long.

Grandfather was a forty-niner, and he struck gold. But everything for him became about hitting the next vein of wealth. Mary knew he was living off the remaining dust of his fortune, and he expected his granddaughters to keep him elevated in the financial ranks.

The easiest and only way for this to happen was for them to marry wealthy. Mary was ahead of the game. A match with the Porter family, even a cousin of the Porter family should make the man happy. But he was an interfering bastard.

Mary felt her eye widen and her cheeks flush with the rude thought.

With as deep of a breath as she could manage, she handed the crumpled paper over to her sister.

Janey stumbled as her knees weakened.

Charles led his wife to the settee next to Mary.

Janey gave Mary a look of pained pity.

“I guess lunch is canceled then?”

 

@2018 Lulu M Sylvian

Find out what the telegraph says next month…

Interview with Heatherly Bell

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I like to set a scene for where the interview is taking place. It’s been a while since I was in the heart of Silicon Valley, where is a good place to hang out and have a conversation?

Here in my small town of Morgan Hill, we like to meet at Peet’s Coffee.

Can you remember the first romance novel you read?

Shana by Kathleen Woodiwiss.

How long have you been writing?

I will say about 14 years though of course I wrote some in high school but I don’t count that.

What is your writing process? Are you a pantser, or a planner?

I like to call myself a plotser. I used to be a pantser, and that actually worked for me, but my publisher forces me to give them a synopsis. I use it as a road map of where I will go with the story. Mostly I focus on the character’s growth ARC. Other things can change but that shouldn’t.

What currently compels you to write?

Deadlines! But seriously, when I am in the sweet spot of a story, I just want to keep going. It’s like I’m telling myself the story.

Character development is a fascination of mine, where do your characters come from?

My characters usually jump into my mind’s eye, practically fully formed. I don’t really know how that happens. I think I’m like a sponge of everything I’ve ever seen and everyone I’ve ever met. But I don’t often know what their favorite color is or their favorite food. I simply know who they are and what they have to learn. I try my best to keep it simple.

Tell us a little about Country Gold, a Wilder Sisters novel (upcoming release out 9/17)

I’ve wanted to write this book for such a long time but had too many other projects in the way. It’s been germinating in the back of my mind for a while and took a few different forms before it settled down. This is the story of three sisters who were very young when they formed a country western band and eventually became very successful. When it all implodes due to a sex scandal and sagging sales, the sisters are let go by their recording label and each has to re-think the rest of their life. Who are they without fame and music? Without each other? While they figure this out, they hide out in their central coast California town of Whistle Cove. And of course, they each have a love interest to come along and complicate the hell out of their lives. Much fun.

Fame tore them apart…can music bring them back together? 

A sex scandal ended the careers of the Wilder Sisters, the CMA award winning, chart-topping country girl band. But Lexi Wilder is okay with that, thanks for asking. 

She’s been on the road since roughly forever, and even if the scandal has followed her home to Whistle Cove, California, Lexi is going to enjoy the break. After all, there’s quite nothing like the beautiful sandy beaches of Monterey Bay to calm a woman’s soul. 

Luke Wyatt never asked to trade fame and fortune for the only woman he’s ever loved. It happened anyway. 

Now that he’s finished a punishing year-long national tour, all bets are off. He’s coming back to his hometown of Whistle Cove for the quiet, the beaches, the inspiration, and the girl. Not necessarily in that order. 

There’s pressure from Nashville to deliver more country gold like the song he co-wrote with Lexi Wilder. But that little bit of magic is not likely to happen again. 

Because she’s still not speaking to him.

http://www.heatherlybell.com/wilder-sisters

Do you listen to music when you write? What do you like to listen to? Was there a musical influence for Country Gold?

I cannot listen to music while I write. It’s too distracting. I pick up the tune, start singing. Forget about the writing, I’m going to dance! I do like listening to country music and do so often. Sam Hunt was the musical inspiration for my hero, and Miranda Lambert for my heroine.

Are you a TV watcher or a movie goer?

Mostly movies and long running series. I don’t watch much TV other than Dateline.

Which (show or movies) are your current favorites?

The Wonderful Mrs. Maizel

Orange is the new Black

Ozark

Set it Up

Like Father

If you could have one of your stories made into a movie, who would be in your dream cast?

I think Crazy for You, a Christmas book, would make a wonderful Hallmark movie. Except for all the sex. Take that out and it works. I would cast Emma Stone as the heroine and Jessie Metcalf as the hero.

If the NSA were to examine your browser history, what “concerning” topics might they find?

Fortunately, I write lighthearted. Recently I searched for Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. Wake-boarding lessons (I watched YouTube videos) and also endangered wildflowers in California. Nothing exciting at all!

What are you currently reading?

Lori Wilde’s The First Love Cookie Club.

What’s the one question you always like when people ask authors?

How can I finally finish my book?

Write every day even when you don’t feel like it. It’s a job like any other. It took me 14 months to write my first book. It got faster after that.

What is your secret party trick?

I don’t know if it’s a party trick, but I’m a trained singer so I usually do well on the Karaoke machine!

Pizza or tacos?

Pizza

 

You can follow Heatherly online

Twitter: @heatherlybelle

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

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/heatherlymbell/

Instagram: heatherly.bell

Longing Release day! Happy Book Birthday!

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Longing, Legatum 4

Lucy has a dangerous past, one she thought she left behind. She abandoned every element of it except for one, her best friend Shane. Now the life she has created is shattering, and Lucy finds herself clinging to Shane for support.

Shane hates everything about his past and prefers to live as if certain events never occurred. Except for one, meeting Lucy. He can’t let Lucy go, he can’t have her either.

A chain of events puts Shane in Lucy’s presence in time to be there for her while her marriage falls apart and as her troubling past weaves its way back into her life. In order to have a future with him, she goes in search of closure, only to discover her past holds more deceptive secrets than she ever imagined.

 

Now available

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Complete, now available for pre-sale

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Complete, Legatum Book 5

As far as Bobby is aware, he is the only one of his kind—a true lone wolf. He fills his days with running his bar, and his nights with emotionless encounters. After all, hooking up with him, the self-proclaimed town man-whore, is as easy as crashing into his buggy in the grocery store. Everything changes when he sees an angel.

When new math teacher Ramona moves to town, Bobby sees a glow around her and is convinced she’s the angel he can finally trust with what he really is. He just has to get her to trust him first…

Ramona is no angel; she’s run away from a relationship gone bad in the big city, to a small town where football is king. The last thing she needs or wants is the town playboy pursuing her. She doesn’t want a man. Doesn’t need one. Her focus is on making sure the star quarterback passes high school math. Her plans fly out the window when Bobby makes an oddball request.

Bobby finally finds a way to be with her—convincing her she can teach him how to be friends with a woman—he’s put himself in the worst position. He has Ramona, but not the way he wants. She’s learning to trust him, but his reputation is holding her back. Can Bobby trust her with the secret he’s managed to keep his whole life? Or will his past put Ramona in danger?

now available

Available now for 99 cent pre-sale!

AMAZON – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07G758JRH?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420
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Interview with Pamela Gibson

It’s summer, and summer interviews are hot!
Where are we chilling out during our conversation? Are we under an umbrella poolside enjoying drinks with umbrellas, or are we hiding out inside with lots of air conditioning?

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My absolute favorite place to chill is on the aft deck of our Nordic Tug while anchored out in a beautiful cove or on a quiet river. But today I’m home in Sonoma, California, sitting out by the pool in our shady backyard.

Tell me about your Love in Wine Country novels.

The series has six spicy contemporary novels set in Napa and Sonoma Counties. Five are written, although one of the five is being revised and will be re-released in early August. The last book has been set aside for now. The novels follow three Hispanic sisters and their cousins, three Hispanic brothers, all part of the Reynoso family ruled by a fun-loving, pseudo-psychic grandmother they all call Nana. Most of the family is in the wine business—growing grapes, tending fields, making and selling wine. I loved showcasing the working families in wine country who overcome obstacles, resolve conflicts, and find love. The series will soon be joined by four novellas, former Kindle World books, which are being rewritten with some of my characters from my novels showing up.

If you could sit down and interview any character- yours or anyone’s- who would you want to interview?

Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With The Wind

What’s the single most burning question you would want to ask them?

What’s wrong with you, girl? A real man wants you and you still moon over that milquetoast Ashley. Do you want to be the dominant one in the relationship, is that it? Or has your spoiled-child upbringing clouded what’s really important. Thank God, you come to your senses at the end.

If you had the opportunity to have your work turned in to a film, which would you prefer Hallmark Channel or HBO miniseries?

I think the St. Helena Kindle World novellas are all suitable for Hallmark films, although readers tell me my other novels are, too. If there were questions at the end of each book—all resolved in the final book—then I might say HBO for the novels. But all of the books in my series are standalones. So Hallmark (with the sex scenes removed).

Of everyone that you have written, who is your favorite character and why?

My favorite character is Marcelina Reynoso, Nana to her grandchildren. She’s tough, independent, flamboyant, and not at all afraid to speak her mind. Plus she loves her Michael Jackson playlist and can moonwalk like a pro in her gold spandex pants with her sequined top and a gazillion bracelets on her arms. She has a smart-mouth, too, and thinks she can predict the future.

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When creating characters, do you get a strong visual/ physical sense of them or are they more personality and emotion?

I start with their personalities, then write their physical descriptions. Paige in A Kiss of Cabernet is a bit of an introvert, but overcomes her shyness by talking to herself to give herself courage. She meets her antagonist (the hero) head-on by using this technique when she tries to talk him out of selling his vineyard which she manages. Her cousin Sam in Sauvignon Blanc to Sigh For is a totally macho, controlling, gorgeous guy who’s a damn fine home winemaker. His best friend Sarah is a planner, a total nerd, who keeps him in check and helps him, even though she could kill him sometimes.

What got you into writing?

When I was six years old my little brother died of leukemia. I started making up stories, often with him alive and well in them. By the fourth grade I was writing stories, and by high school, I was working part-time for a newspaper. I gradually left non-fiction and went to fiction, writing stories with happy endings. News doesn’t always have happy endings.

What keeps you writing?

It’s almost a compulsion. Out of the blue, my fit, active, younger husband had a stroke last year. Now I am one hundred percent caregiver. Writing (usually 5 am is when I start) keeps me sane and centered and lets me escape when I need to.

You used to live on a boat, do you have plans on developing some characters who take on a similar adventure?

I have a non-fiction book underway called Confessions of a White-Knuckle Cruising Spouse. Yup, I was terrified most of the time we were on the water. The last trip was over five thousand miles in a 32-foot boat. I saw and did amazing things and tested my courage over and over. But it really should be non-fiction, to give other spouses encouragement to stick it out when their significant other has saltwater in their veins, and they’d rather be at Starbucks drinking lattes.

Who is your current favorite author?

Susan Elizabeth Phillips—she’s an auto-buy, although she hasn’t released anything lately.

Who was your favorite author as a kid?

I discovered old Carolyn Keene books when I was about nine. Camped out at the library whenever a new book came out, even though Nancy Drew was dated. I still thought the books amazing.

What are you reading these days?

My most recent small trad publisher is Soulmate and my editor loves my historicals. So I am reading Regencies and Westerns because she’s contracted for one book in both subgenres and I have two sequels in progress. I will probably keep my contemporaries Indie. I also like to read romantic suspense and small-town contemporary. Do you get the impression I like to read? You’re right.

Does pineapple belong on pizza?

I’ll eat it because I’m hungry or polite, depending on the situation, but I won’t order one like that.

As a self-proclaimed snacker, what is your favorite thing to munch on?

I do love chocolate—cookies with big chocolate chips, chocolate bars with nuts, chocolate ice cream for breakfast. I am a chocoholic. It got me through a rough ride on Delaware Bay and it helped me cope with a stormy Atlantic and a tornado tied to a lock wall on the Erie Canal. Chocolate anything is my go-to food for stress relief, including a bag of chocolate chips if there’s nothing else.

Thanks Lulu. This was so much fun.

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You can find Pamela online at:

http://pamelagibsonwrites.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pamgibsonwrites/

Burnout

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I read this article in the May 2018, Romance Writers Report “The Key to a Lifelong Career,” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and I totally recognized myself in it: new on the scene, obsessively working to get as much content out as possible.

I already realized that I put myself on a tight schedule, but it’s my first full year as a published author. I definitely did not read this article and say “that’s not me” when it is so me.

You see, I can bang out a complete book in six weeks without any problems. I know this because I’ve done it more than once. But what I haven’t done more than once before this year was write, edit, revise, and have released back to back to back novels. I can feel myself headed toward total deep fried burnout.

So, even though I am in the middle of a deadline, I took the day off. But not just from writing, from panicking about the writing. I actually took the advice of the article and took screen time off too. I didn’t record my day’s adventures for Facebook or Instagram. I took pictures of my kids for me. And at the end of the day, when we were all back home and exhausted, I didn’t scoop up the laptop to occupy half my brain while we sat around and watched movies. I watched the movies.

The next day I’m back at writing. I have a huge word count to meet, but I tend to work ahead of my deadlines (not up to my deadlines). I’m confident everything will get done on schedule. And I know that going forward I will take the time for self-care first. I will not schedule my edits so close together, I will not schedule my releases so tight unless I’ve managed to work way ahead of those dates.

You see, writing the story is actually the easy part. Six weeks to get a complete, cohesive story is easy, as long as that’s all I’m doing. Once I add in the hours for marketing, revising and editing a second or third story at the same time, while still working my two part-time desk jobs, six weeks is not enough time.

I failed to take into account life, and all that other stuff when putting this year’s schedule together. Fortunately, I think I figured it out before I hit burnout. I recognized the signs in myself. I am approaching work with a new attitude, and a new sense of balance. I already knew I needed a business plan, now I know a few things that will need to be included. I’m glad I figured this out now, and not after two or three years of pushing myself too hard too far.

Christmas in July!

Special July price of 99 cents for the ebook!
 

 

AMAZON – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074LSRL3T

KOBO – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-twelve-strippers-of-christmas-1

NOOK – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-twelve-strippers-of-christmas-lulu-sylvian/1127294593?ean=2940158682254

IBOOKS – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-twelve-strippers-of-christmas/id1303627979?mt=11

GOOGLE – https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Lulu_M_Sylvian_The_Twelve_Strippers_of_Christmas?id=B-g7DwAAQBAJ&hl=en

WIP-it Wednesday: a little burlesque, and a lot of feathers

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Her eyes immediately were drawn to the two women in the middle of the open floor. They wore work out wear, and were posed knees bent, butts pushed out, chests up, arms lifting in large circles. Katie stopped and watched. They were the Poule dancers. Katie’s stomach did a flip. She was already all nerves to see Nick again after last night and this morning, would he still want her around? But now to see the burlesque dancers practicing was an extra thrill. After only having seen one show, they were her personal heroes.

Katie couldn’t take her eyes from the dancers. They stepped, turned and posed to the music. She didn’t move from inside the door until one of the dancers caught her eye in the mirror.

She stopped and faced Katie. “Who are you? This is a private dance studio.”

The words stuck in her throat. “I…” She pointed to where Nick worked. “I’m…Nick.”

“Katie-cat is my lover.” Nick announced as he crossed the studio to where she stood. Katie couldn’t take her eyes from his face. His wide smile and happy expression made her insides quiver. He pulled her into his embrace and claimed her lips in a searing kiss.

He broke the kiss and pivoted to face the dancers. Katie could only blink as she looked at his face. His words and actions claimed her like an object. An inkling in the back of her brain pointed to this as a prime example that he was never going to be emotionally invested in them as a future couple. Her heart smothered that inkling with a pillow, and shoved it far far away. She wanted to be his. More accurately she wanted him to be hers.

More holiday bump and grind this winter coming your way!
©2018 Lulu M Sylvian

If Only for the Moment by Ella Sheridan

He can tie up all her objections, but what about her heart?

Kennedy O’Connell’s life is perfect—a great job, plenty of friends, a brother who loves her. The chaos that ruled her childhood is gone, and she couldn’t be happier. Unfortunately, her mischievous streak tends to get her in trouble, and when she walks into her favorite spa to find a sexy Australian rock star taking her place, she can’t resist a little fun.

Isaac Anschau has spent five years chasing his dream. His rock royalty status can’t be denied, but his demons are catching up with him—he’s burned out, his creativity decimated. Until a redheaded vixen decides she wants to play, and he discovers a way to leave his nightmares behind. There’s just one problem: Kennedy is dead-set against submitting, despite the way she melts when his Dom side comes out.

They’ve got nothing to lose by walking away, and everything to gain if they give in to the raging hunger between them. Baring their bodies would take only a moment. Baring their souls could take a lifetime.

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“I’m a rigger.”

“A what-er?”

“A rigger. A Dom who enjoys tying subs up.”

His eyes held hers captive as firmly as the cord held her arm, delving deep inside her, demanding something she wasn’t sure of—until it clicked. He thought her response to the rope was…

“Ah, Isaac, I’m not a sub.” No way, no how. A shiver rocked her spine.

One brow calmly rose. “How do you know?”

Isaac’s question got her redheaded temper going. “Because I have a Dom for a brother, and he’s not exactly quiet about it. I’d know if I was submissive.” She wasn’t.

Isaac shook his head as if he didn’t believe her. “Your brother isn’t in your bed, Ken.”

“Ew!”

He laughed at that, but continued. “My point is, he doesn’t know your needs. Only a lover can read you like that.”

I can read me like that, and I’m not submissive.” If she said it enough times, he’d finally get that she was telling the truth, right? So why did a flutter take up residence in her belly? There was no reason to panic, no—

“Can you now?”

“Yes!”

There. That was definitive. He’d understand now.

One long finger traced the web encompassing her hand. “Want to know what I see?”

“No.” Yes. But…no. And yet curiosity raised its ugly head. “Um…yes?”

The word was barely a whisper, but Isaac heard it. She knew because he nodded once even as he reached for her free hand. She knew she shouldn’t, knew she’d regret it, but she couldn’t resist giving it to him, watching, fascinated, as he used the free end of the cord to tie her wrists together with delicate knots, and then he was lifting her hands to hook them behind the headrest. When she tugged…

“Isaac?”

The sound of her breath was loud in the close confines of the SUV as he leaned over her, his big body taking up all the space, all the air. She pulled on her arms again. A thrill, part fear and part something she really didn’t want to acknowledge, shot through her.

“Shh…” Isaac laid a finger on her parted lips. He was so close she could see the green and yellow striations in his blue eyes. Fascinating. She strained toward him but, with her hands above her, got nowhere—and the thrill came again, this time settling in her nipples and between her legs.

Isaac’s gaze softened even as his own breath quickened. “Feel that, Kennedy?”

She shook her head.

“No? Then let me help.”

His parted lips settled on hers, warm and firm and so, so good. He laved her with his tongue, dipped in to mate with hers, taking her breath and making her take his. There was nothing she could do to escape his kiss, nothing she could do to protest. She could only accept what he gave her—his mouth, the hard press of his chest against her aching breasts, the hungry groan that escaped him when she sucked on his tongue. And it was all mixed with the lightning bolts of pleasure that sparked every time she tried to move and couldn’t. He had all the control, she had none, and she…

No, she didn’t like it. She didn’t.

When he paused to take a breath, she turned her head toward the window, needing to breathe, to escape—except she was tied and couldn’t, damn it.

For someone so famous, Isaac didn’t have a fragile ego. Rather than be offended, he gently lowered her hands and began to undo the knots. Faint impressions from the cord were left behind, a reminder she needed desperately to ignore as he settled back into his seat. “See? Interesting.”

“No, no it’s not,” she told him, her voice cracking on the last word. “Not interesting at all.”

Start the If Only series today!

Only for the Weekend, Book 1

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Writing has been my passion since childhood, but like many writers, life got in the way. After earning a BA in

English Literature, I married and started a family. But the worlds and characters that swirled through my mind just

wouldn’t go away, and at a particularly difficult time in my life, I picked up pen and paper (or laptop) and tried to

release some of that difficulty onto the page. I’ve been writing ever since. Now I’m a member of Romance Writers

of America, run an accountability blog to help writers reach their goals, and am pursuing publication with the same

passion I feel for writing.

Nothing pleases me more than sharing the stories of my heart with you, the reader, and I hope, in some small way,

these stories will touch your heart too.

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