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Read the First Chapter of LOVE AT THE FLUFF AND FOLD

Love at the Fluff and Fold by Kitty BucholtzIt’s finally time! My new book is out on pre-order! YAY! 😀

Love at the Fluff and Fold is ready to purchase, and you can read the first chapter right here. I’m so excited about this story, definitely my best book yet! I hope you enjoy reading this sneak peek!

Chapter One

Wilfred Larson buttoned his shirt and glanced up at his doctor. “So? What’s the verdict, Dill?”

Dr. Bob Dillon, Dill to his friends, wrote a few notes on Willie’s chart and said, “Clean bill of health. As always. Should have plenty of fishing in your future.”

“Wanna take the boat out tonight?” If there was one activity Willie loved most, it was fishing. Trout, bass, walleye, smelt – he loved them all. He and Dill had been fishing together since they were just out of diapers. He had the photo evidence to prove it.

“Let me ask the boss and I’ll text you.”

Willie nodded. He and Dill were quite proud of their texting skills these days. Not many of their retired friends had gotten on board with that particular method of communication, but Willie found that his nieces all stayed in touch more frequently if he texted them rather than called or emailed. No one wrote letters anymore since his wife, Velma, died.

Dill laid the chart down and leaned back against the counter in the small examination room at Loon Lake Hospital. “How’s Cassie these days? I haven’t seen her much.”

Willie slid off the exam table and tucked his shirt into his trousers. “She’s busy with her final papers and exams. Graduation’s coming up in a month or so and she wants to have perfect scores. You know how she is.”

Dill ran a hand through his snowy white hair. “Oh, yeah. Beth’s the same.”

Willie’s youngest niece, Cassie, had been driving back and forth to Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, about forty miles away, often carpooling with Dill’s granddaughter, Beth.

“How’s Cassie doing with, uh, you know.” Dill waved his hand vaguely through the air.

Willie shook his head. “Single and determined to stay that way, I guess. I wouldn’t say that Fletcher fella broke her heart as much as he humiliated her. Makin’ like you’re gonna ask a woman to marry you, and then high-tailing it outta town soon as the grass gets greener…that’s no kind of man for my Cassie.”

“If this were the Wild West, we could chase after him with shotguns.”

“If we’re chasing after folks with shotguns, seems like we shoulda started with Danny. But that ship’s sailed and I haven’t been able to turn it around for anything.”

Danny Kessler was like a son to Willie, just like Cassie was like a daughter. The two kids had grown up together in Loon Lake, had been all but joined at the hip since kindergarten. He’d thought for sure they’d wind up together. But just about the time the two of them had started noticing that their best friend was a little more interesting, a new girl had sailed into town and ruined everything. Danny had fallen hard for Bright Shiny, the not-so-secret nickname his friend Jax had given Lily.

“He still downstate doing construction?”

Willie nodded. “He’s been working his way up in that big construction company near Lansing. Getting promoted, doing more than they ask, getting noticed.” He didn’t try to keep the pride out of his voice. He’d been the one to give Danny his first hammer.

“Maybe you should drop a hint that Cassie’s available.”

Willie snorted. “Oh, he knows. He pretends he doesn’t care, but he’s been asking about her more since I mentioned it a few months ago. But if I can’t get the boy to come up and visit for anything but holidays, I don’t see how I can get them together again. Too bad I’m not dying,” he said as an afterthought. “That would put a fire under his behind for a visit.”

Dill chuckled. “Yeah, well, we’re all dying, aren’t we?”

“Sooner or later,” Willie agreed. Sooner or later…hmm. “You know,” he said slowly, his brow furrowing in thought, “it wouldn’t be a lie. You just said it yourself.”

Dill took a step toward the door and held up his hands as if warding off Willie’s words. He was used to Willie’s crazy ideas after sixty-odd years of friendship, but he didn’t like to hear them at first. “Hold on, where you going with this?”

Willie feigned an innocent expression. “I’m just repeating what my doctor told me. I’m dying. The kids should know so they can help me make my final plans. I’ll need both of them to help get my affairs in order. Right?”

Willie waited and was soon rewarded. Dill grinned and dropped his hands to his hips. His friend couldn’t resist the cockamamie plans they cooked up together.

“It just might work,” Dill said.

“We can make our plans tonight on the lake. Bring a notebook.”

Dill waggled his phone in the air. “We can use the notes app on our phones, remember?”

“Right, right,” Willie agreed. The two men were determined to be the most tech-savvy senior citizens in Loon Lake. Willie walked to the door and slapped Dill on the shoulder. “This’ll be fun. I’ve always liked Christmas weddings.”

* * *

Cassie walked as fast as she could to the administration building at Northwestern Michigan College. She needed to pick up her cap and gown before the office closed. Two more weeks and she’d be free of school. Finally.

She enjoyed taking classes, but she’d been working on her associate’s degree in hospitality management, and then her bachelor’s degree in business administration for seven long years. Thank goodness NMC had the University Center. She could get her bachelor’s degree from Ferris State University without having to move away from home. She’d thanked God for that innumerable times over the years.

While most of her classmates were locals, hardly anyone lived as far away from Traverse City as she did. And none of them planned on living in a town the size of little Loon Lake after graduation. She didn’t care what other people thought, though. She loved her hometown and planned to stay there. It had character.

And characters. Life was never dull, even on days she wanted it to be.

She turned in her paperwork a few minutes before five o’clock, breathed a sigh of relief, and headed for her car. During the forty-five minute drive back to Loon Lake, she thought of all the things she could do this summer since she wasn’t taking classes. She could relax. Go to the beach more. Go fishing with Uncle Willie more. Hang out with Tabitha and her kids more. Maybe she’d even get a dog.

On impulse, she pulled into Sonny’s Restaurant a mile from home to see what kind of pie they had today. The fruit pies were made with canned or frozen fruit this early in the year, but they had a banana cream, Uncle Willie’s favorite, and a chocolate silk, her Achilles heel.

Pulling into her parking space at the Loon Lake Fluff and Fold, she gathered her backpack, her purse, and the bag with the two pieces of pie, and headed upstairs to the apartment she’d shared with Uncle Willie since her mom died when she was fifteen.

Now that she was graduating, she’d need to decide the rest of her future. Like maybe getting her own place to live. Her uncle had been adamant about not taking out student loans, which was why it had taken forever to get her degrees. Earning the money to pay cash made college a part-time pursuit. But now she would start this next phase of her life debt-free. The pie was too small a thank-you for everything Uncle Willie had done for her, but he knew how much she loved and appreciated him. She really was blessed.

Which was something she needed to remind herself of now and then. Her mom was dead, she hadn’t seen her dad in years, her almost-fiancé had dumped her, her once-best-friend wouldn’t talk to her, and she was twenty-five years old still living at home. But that was the empty quarter of a very full glass.

Very full.

Upstairs, she dropped her bags in her room, found a place for the pie in the fridge, set out some ground beef to thaw, and wandered across the street to see if her uncle was in The Laughing Loon.

Uncle Willie was quite the businessman, and he’d taught her at least as much as she’d learned in college. He owned three businesses on this corner of Loon Lake – the Loon Lake Fluff and Fold, The Laughing Loon convenience store and gas station, and the Idle-Awhile Cabins. He’d sold the Cup and Cone Ice Cream Parlor before her mom died to help pay for Cassie’s and her sisters’ college tuition.

Since then, he’d worked with the Alexanders, local goat farmers, to sell small containers of goat’s milk ice cream and goat’s milk cheese at The Laughing Loon. It was a big hit with tourists and locals alike, and Uncle Willie got to continue feeding his ice cream habit.

A bell tinkled overhead as she walked into the store. She waved to a few customers she knew and stepped behind the counter to bag groceries while Uncle Willie rang up the items.

“Hello, darlin’,” he said with a smile in her direction. He pulled things out of the hand basket in front of him. “Oh, Nancy, I see you’re trying the new coconut passion fruit ice cream from Crooked Creek. This is a good one. Just came in yesterday.”

“You’ve tried it? I just love passion fruit.” Nancy Franklin was the history teacher at Loon Lake High, one of Cassie’s former teachers. She traveled every summer and brought back pictures and videos to show the kids what the rest of the world looked like. Cassie had loved that class. None of her college teachers had made learning as fun as wacky Mrs. Franklin.

“He thinks it’s his job to try all the ice cream before he sells it,” Cassie said, grinning at her uncle.

“It’s good business to make sure you’re selling quality products,” Uncle Willie insisted. “Kids these days.” He shook his head at Mrs. Franklin, who laughed with him.

Cassie helped him with two more customers, then gave him a hug hello in the lull.

“How was school today?”

“Good. Organizational Management is still kicking my butt. I’ll be glad when I never have to think about that again. Everything else is good.”

“I can’t tell you how proud I am. Graduating with honors. Your mother would be thrilled, but not surprised.”

Cassie leaned in and kissed his cheek. “Thanks, Uncle Willie. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

“Well, that’s true,” he said, making Cassie giggle. “Kevin will be here in a few minutes, then we can go have supper together. Pick out a movie. You don’t mind staying in with an old man, do you?”

Cassie rolled her eyes. “Old Mrs. G is old. You’re just…”

Her uncle raised his eyebrows.

“Old-fashioned?” Cassie asked.

Uncle Willie grunted. But his eyes twinkled in fun.

Looking through the DVD rentals, Cassie picked an oldie-but-goodie that they both loved, RED, a spy comedy with Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, and Helen Mirren. She checked it out behind the counter, told her uncle she’d meet him at home, and left to make dinner.

Before heading upstairs, she walked through the laundromat to make sure nothing needed attention. She’d been working for her uncle since she was ten, along with her once-best-friend, Danny Kessler, and she’d learned that providing good service in a clean and friendly atmosphere was key to bringing customers back time and again. She tended to check things anytime she passed to make sure their customers were getting what they deserved.

As it turned out, one of the washers was half full of dirty water. A handwritten note from CW Emerson, the town dog catcher and an EMT, explained “I swear I didn’t do anything to break it.”

Cassie laughed. This was the third time in six months that CW had a problem with a machine. She pulled out her phone and called Edge, Jax Edgerly’s older brother — no one called him Leroy. The leather-clad biker was a mechanical wizard who could fix anything with a motor. He promised to stop by the next day.

Sitting on the couch later, watching the movie with her uncle and eating her yummy pie, she thought about her very full glass of life. She still had plenty of friends from high school, and she’d become better friends with some, like Edge, now that they were adults. She and Tabitha had grown even closer as Danny drifted away. Even CW wasn’t the turd he was as a high school football quarterback. Of course, that new teacher, Lena Hart, had brought out CW’s best qualities lately.

Six months ago, Cassie thought she’d found a man who brought out her best qualities, a man she might fall in love with, maybe marry. But he hadn’t understood that when she said Loon Lake was her home, for now and always, she’d meant she wasn’t leaving. He’d taken a job in Grand Rapids in January and she hadn’t heard from him since.

Not exactly true love.

But that didn’t mean she couldn’t be happy. Like right this minute. She glanced at her uncle out of the corner of her eye. He’d been a major influence as long as she could remember. When her parents were fighting, he and Aunt Velma brought her and her sisters down to The Cup and Cone, made them laugh, and fed them ice cream.

When Danny’s dad drank too much and lost his temper, Uncle Willie and Aunt Velma kissed his bruises and fed him ice cream.

When both of their dads left their families within a year of each other, Uncle Willie and Aunt Velma smothered them in love and gave them stability. And ice cream.

From the time they were ten, Cassie and Danny had swept the Fluff and Fold’s floors, emptied the lint traps, run across to The Laughing Loon to buy quarters for customers, and counted out the money they earned together, imagining all the things they’d do when they got older.

Uncle Willie taught them both how to run a business, how to treat customers, how to level a two-by-four, and how to catch and clean and cook many a fish.

Cassie smiled at the TV. She may not have a husband and kids and a big life in the big city like her two older sisters, but she was genuinely happy.

When the movie ended, Uncle Willie turned to her and laid his hand on her arm. “I need to tell you something.”

Cassie felt a tiny frisson of alarm. His voice and expression were more serious than she’d seen in a long time. “Sure,” she said, trying to infuse the word with a calm that was quickly waning.

“I went to see Dill today for my annual checkup.”

Cassie felt a tremor in her stomach. Please, nothing bad. She’d lost too many people she loved.

“And?” she prompted when he didn’t say anything.

“Well…” He dropped his gaze as if he couldn’t tell her whatever it was if he were looking in her eyes. “I’m…I might be dying, honey. So there are some things we need to do.”

Cassie felt herself gasp, her hands suddenly covering her mouth. No, not this. Not yet.

Her uncle finally raised his gaze to hers, looking determined. “I need you and Danny to help me get my affairs in order. Can you do that? Will you work together and do what needs to be done? For me?”

“Of course!” Cassie threw her arms around his neck, trying to hide her tears from him. “Whatever you need. Anything at all. I promise.”

Uncle Willie held her tight for a moment, then pushed her away. “I called Danny earlier today. He’ll be here in the morning. Then I’ll explain what I know to both of you. Okay?”

Cassie nodded. She had a hundred questions, and she wanted to press Willie with questions now, not wait. But he rose from the couch and moved toward his room.

“I’m tired. I’m going to bed. I’ll see you in the morning, darlin’, okay?”

Cassie nodded again, not trusting her voice to work properly. He didn’t look well, couldn’t meet her eyes. Just how bad was it?

Lord, please don’t take him yet. I’m not ready.

* * *

Danny Kessler tried not to think as he shoved clothes in a suitcase. What did he need? How long would he be gone? He threw in T-shirts and jeans, a couple rougher pieces in case Uncle Willie needed some work done on one of the buildings, a couple nice shirts and khaki pants just in case of…

He shut down that line of thinking. He wasn’t going to die this week. They wouldn’t be planning a funeral. They just wouldn’t. But if he went to church with Cassie and Uncle Willie, he didn’t want to wear torn jeans and a T-shirt. He wasn’t in high school anymore.

He packed his computer bag with his laptop, a Wi-Fi device, his backup hard drive, and shoved his Kindle and a couple paperbacks into the space that was left.

What else?

He wanted to call Cassie. He desperately wanted to call Cassie. But Uncle Willie had said not to because he hadn’t told her yet.

His poor girl. She’d be all alone in the world. Well, she had her sisters, but she’d be all alone in Loon Lake. Who would look out for her?

Once again, a pain sliced through his gut. He used to be her hero, her knight, her best friend. He used to be the one who looked out for her, brought her wildflowers, shared her favorite pizza on the hood of his car while they watched the stars move across the sky.

And then he’d ruined everything.

Which was why coming home was so painful. The people he loved most were in Loon Lake. The ones he hadn’t hurt whispered behind his back. They must. That’s what small town folk do. And then there were the people who were just disgusted and disappointed in him, like his mother and his ex-wife’s family. Going home was simply not an option for him.

But if Uncle Willie needed him, he’d face the dragons for as long as necessary. When the crisis was over, of course, he’d flee back to Lansing where he’d tried to make a life for himself.

He looked around his one-bedroom apartment, trying to think of what else he might need. He threw in a load of laundry, putting everything he wanted to take in one load, hearing Cassie’s voice, as he always did, about separating whites and darks. Then he washed all his dishes, dumped a quart of milk down the sink, and pulled out his Igloo cooler to take the other perishables with him in the morning.

Working with his hands eased his mind. For a whole forty minutes, he didn’t have to think about what he would hear when Uncle Willie told him and Cassie what was wrong with his health — he wouldn’t say over the phone. When Danny was done, nothing else he could think of to do, he sat on the couch and let his mind wander.

Cancer? It was probably cancer. That’s what everyone died of nowadays. Would it be slow or fast? Would he suffer? Danny squeezed his eyes shut and tried to think of something else.

Maybe it was his heart. That would be better, right? Less pain? But death would come suddenly. Maybe he shouldn’t wait until tomorrow morning to drive up. If he left now, he could be there by midnight.

Danny pulled out his phone and texted Jax Edgerly, his best friend. Can I sleep on your couch tomorrow night? Don’t know for how long. A week or two?

A minute later, Jax replied. Sure. What’s up?

I’ll explain tomorrow. Thanks, brother.

He leaned his head back against the couch. God, please don’t let him die. Not yet. I’m not ready.

His phone rang, startling him. He felt his heart stumble in his chest when he saw the name on the screen. Sunshine. It was Cassie.

He should’ve changed the name in his phone’s address book. She hadn’t called him in two years, but the effect of seeing her nickname hadn’t dimmed. His chest squeezed just the same. Uncle Willie must’ve told her his news.

He held his phone tight, immobile with regrets. He’d messed up, then messed up again. Trying to minimize future damage, he’d said something stupid to hurt her so she wouldn’t contact him again. Unfortunately, it had worked. Three strikes.

But he couldn’t leave her hanging, alone, not when she must be hurting. He slid his thumb over the screen to answer.

“Hey,” he said, hearing the catch in his voice and hoping she hadn’t.

“Oh, Danny.” She cried into the phone without speaking for a minute. He squeezed the bridge of his nose and felt tears slipping out. Whether they were for her or for Willie, he wasn’t sure.

Finally, she spoke. “What are we going to do?”

He shook his head. He used to pride himself on having all the answers to her questions. But he’d been lost and without answers himself lately. Today in particular. “I’ll be there in the morning. We’ll figure it out.”

She didn’t say anything and he imagined she was trying to stop crying. “I wish you were here now,” she whispered.

Danny leaned forward over his knees, squeezing his eyes shut, trying to keep everything inside. He didn’t say anything. He wanted her, needed her, felt desperate to find comfort in her arms. But he was bad news, a disappointment, a screwup. She deserved far more.

“Will you be here for breakfast? I’ll make pancakes. I’ll go to the store and get some strawberries and Redi-Whip.”

His favorite. He felt a tug on his lips that would’ve been a smile if things weren’t so grim. “Maybe,” he finally said.

The silence grew, but it was the peaceful silence they used to share. There was a measure of comfort in the quiet.

Finally, she said, “Be safe, don’t drive too fast. I’ll have breakfast ready at eight, or whenever you get here. Be careful, Danny.”

“I will,” he managed.

Then she was gone.

How would he sleep now? He’d pushed her out of his head as best he could, tried to at least lock that door in his heart. He’d never be rid of her, but now he’d have to share her space, breath the air she breathed, feel the sunshine of her presence.

It just might kill him…if Uncle Willie didn’t die first.

Pre-order your copy of Love at the Fluff and Fold today!

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Super Romance Book Sale Thru Feb 20

Valentine's Super Book Sale

Check out the Valentine’s Super Sale & Giveaway!

66 Romance Authors are offering 95 books…

Most of them are on sale for a limited time. It’s just our way of thanking our loyal readers.

Even better, we’ve pooled our funds to offer an awesome giveaway! Enter to win a Kindle and Amazon Gift Cards just for subscribing to our newsletters or following us on social media.

Here’s the link to the Valentine’s Super Sale & Giveaway!

I hope you find lots of great books to read – and good luck in the giveaway! 🙂

NEW RELEASE: My Bullheaded Superhero Valentine

It’s finally out! Wooohoooo!!!!

My Bullheaded Superhero Valentine book cover

After two years and a lot of ups and downs, I finally finished and published my idea behind, “What would happen if Bull could ever get Hayley to go out on a real date with him?”

Yay! And now you have a couple weeks to enjoy this side story novella in the Adventures of Lewis and Clarke series for only 99c. On March 1, it will go back to the regular price of $2.99.

My Bullheaded Superhero Valentine is available at all major retailers including Amazon (all territories), iBooks, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. Get yours today!

Book Marks: Chasing Symmetry – Book Review by Carrie Kurtz

Chasing Symmetry book coverChasing Symmetry by Tempeste Blake

Goodreads Summary

Someone had been trying for the perfect shade of red . . .
When art professor Bianca James tries to save a dying woman, the grudge-holding chief of police is all too quick to catapult her to the top of the suspect list. As if that isn’t enough, her ex-boyfriend’s younger brother, Finn Tierny, is assigned to the case, and she’s faced with a trilogy of dilemmas: go head to head with the chief, stop a cold-blooded killer on her own, or trust another Tierny.

Finn’s return to Riley’s Peak is bittersweet. He’s flooded with memories, both good and bad, as he battles doubts about being a cop, a cantankerous father, a jealous brother, and a drug dealer with a rap-sheet longer than the list of addicts he’s been supplying. 
Threats escalate, the suspect list grows, and it becomes clear—the murderer’s resolve to kill Bianca is almost as strong as Finn’s desire to keep her alive.

Almost.

My Thoughts

I love murder mysteries! When I was contacted about reading this book, I was beyond excited!  And then when I received it in the mail along with a note and special little “gift” from the author, I was ecstatic!  I wanted to dive right in…but, sadly, my TBR list was ridiculously long so I had to wait a while.

So, the time came that I could get into this book and I wasn’t disappointed!  I am usually pretty good at figuring out ‘who done it’ but not this time.  I was wrong!  Very wrong.  This book is full of surprises and keeps you guessing the whole time.

Now, I could have done without the ‘romance’ things in this book.  And, honestly, the choice words were a bit much for my liking.  Those were the only reasons that I chose to give Chasing Symmetry 4 stars instead of 5.

I will definitely be recommending this book to fellow mystery lovers!  Chasing Symmetry will be a book that I keep for my collection!

*Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Carrie Kurtz

 

Carrie Kurtz is a full-time mom and wife who can’t help but make time to explore new worlds in between carpooling and laundry loads. She’s trying to encourage a similar obsession with reading in her two children, and she’s grateful her husband supports her habit. She can be found at Carrie K’s Book Reviews.

What We Learn From Our Favorite Stories

For years, my all-time favorite movie was Sleepless in Seattle. Even when my screenwriting teacher in a professional program gave me the stink-eye, I wouldn’t change my answer. I have watched that movie so many times, I’m surprised the DVD hasn’t worn out. (I’ve owned it so long, I used to have the VHS tape, too!)

Then Richard Curtis wrote some big blockbuster romantic comedies that I love. Love Actually and Notting Hill are my two favorites. Even my husband, John, likes all three of these movies because they are smart and funny and have great lines of dialogue that you can’t help quoting later.

I love these movies so much that I’ll even watch them on Netflix, even though we own all three on DVD. And oh, Netflix, how I love you. Let me count the ways. That’s where I first watched The Decoy Bride with the hilarious Kelly Macdonald and the awesome David Tennant. I’ve watched that movie sooo many times! I bought it on Blu-ray because I wanted to make sure I could watch it in high quality forever. But then I had to buy it on DVD, too, because that’s the only way I could watch it on my computer. I’ve never done that before, buying more than one copy!

And what’s my go-to movie for sick days? The Family Man. Tea Leoni and Nicolas Cage are absolutely adorable, and those kids! And the best friends! The movie makes me laugh every single time I watch it.

I love romantic comedies. I love reading them, watching them, writing them, talking about them. Like I said, they’re my medicine for bad days. And lately, I’ve had truckloads of bad days.

Thank God for romantic comedy writers because I found some new medicine two weeks ago. I’d seen on Facebook that my friend Sean Gaffney (same screenwriting program I was in) had written a new movie called In-Lawfully Yours. I guess I’m a bad friend for not paying very good attention because I thought it was coming out in the theater this fall, but it came out on Netflix!

I was scrolling through the New Releases and saw the title and thought, how funny, Sean’s movie has that same title. And hey, the movie poster looks kind of – hey, that is Sean’s movie! LOL! I was having a bad day so I watched it during lunch. It is soooo adorable! The hero and heroine really played off each other so well! And the characters seemed like people I’d probably know, people I’d want to be friends with if they were real, not like pretend movie characters.

I felt so much better after watching it, just like medicine. I wanted to watch it again right away, but I controlled myself. I waited until lunch the following day. Aw, wow, it was just as funny the second time. It had been a stressful week, so I turned it on again at lunch for the third day in a row. Still had me laughing and smiling! If you like rom-com’s, you’ve got to watch this movie!

In addition to feeling better, watching a movie several times helps you consciously and unconsciously work through what you like about it, and why. You start thinking about what you don’t like and why. And if you’re a writer, you start going over your own characters and asking yourself how they can become better after seeing some other amazing fictional characters on screen or in a book.

One thing about the writing in In-Lawfully Yours. If they hadn’t gotten the right actors, it could’ve been a little dopey. That’s the risk with humor – it’s got to be the right kind, in the right amount, for the right audience. Of course, that’s the risk with movies in general. Wrong actor, bad movie. Right group of actors, amazing movie!

So when I watched this movie for the third time in three days, I had to stop thinking about these actors who had such good chemistry, and I had to think about the characters I write who will ever and only play out in people’s heads. And that’s when I remembered…

When I wrote Little Miss Lovesick, the first several drafts were aimed at Silhouette Romance (kind of like Harlequin, if you don’t know) and the humor was mild, the kind of humor they’d already published. But when I took a risk and wrote the kind of humor that had me laughing as I was typing, a whole new level of fun story developed! It was no longer the kind of book Silhouette or Harlequin or several other houses were buying. (That was a problem for me until self-publishing came along.)

But the readers who enjoyed Little Miss Lovesick really loved it! My risk paid off and I found my writer voice. Since then I’ve had to push myself to get to the edge of my comfort zone and see what else I can do. I can’t let fear or complacency take hold because I’ll lose what it turns out my readers want. (Plus, it’ll be way less fun for me!)

What stories do you read or watch over and over again? What are you learning from them? Are you letting those favorites push you to become a better writer? Give it some thought.

Meanwhile, I’m going to go watch In-Lawfully Yours again. Thanks for writing such a fun story, Sean! And thanks, Chelsey Crisp and Joe Williamson, for making me laugh with and fall in love with a new favorite couple! I’m such a happy Kitty!  😀

Book Marks: The Ivory Caribou – Book Review by Carrie Kurtz

Book cover for The Ivory Caribou by Caroline McCullaghThe Ivory Caribou by Caroline McCullagh

Goodreads Summary

Is it a love story? Or is it an adventure story? Or is it a commentary on the tragedy of war? It is all of these, and more.  Award Winning Author Caroline McCullagh weaves a thrilling and dynamic story around Anne O’Malley’s genealogical search for the story of her late husband’s father that takes her to the far North of Canada to find new relatives among the Inuit culture, to Europe behind the lines in World War I, and back to the small Inuit village where she finds romance. The Ivory Caribou won Best Unpublished Novel in the San Diego Book Awards.

My Thoughts

I think I say this a lot, but I really am such a blessed person!  People send books to me to read and review, some of which I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own, and they end up being wonderful!  The Ivory Caribou is one of those books.  I honestly don’t think I would have chosen to read this book on my own because it’s not the typical kind of book that I enjoy.  Most often, when I actually go to a store and pick out books for myself, I choose books that are either somewhat exciting/action packed, someone recommended them or, if they are contemporary fiction, have characters that I can relate to (around my age, similar lifestyles, things like that).  The Ivory Caribou doesn’t really fit any of those.  But, I really enjoyed it!

Anne O’Malley is an older woman, a widow, and she doesn’t have any children.  I wasn’t sure how much I would be able to get into her life.  But I was drawn right in!  Her inward struggles and loneliness reached right into my heart and there were times when, because of work and being a mom, I had to put the book down to do something and I realized that I was feeling Anne’s sadness so deep that I had to remind myself that it was just a book!

I really enjoyed all of the journal entries from her father-in-law.  Surprisingly, I have come to love historical fiction books lately and this has several touches of that element wrapped up in it.  Such an enjoyable bonus!  I also really enjoyed learning so much about the Inuit culture!  Again, something that I wouldn’t have necessarily expected to enjoy as much as I did.  There were also a few romantic situations but they weren’t “graphic” or inappropriate.  Just sweet and, well, romantic!

I definitely recommend The Ivory Caribou!  A very strong 4+ stars!  The only reason it’s not a full 5 stars is because it ended a bit abruptly.  However, I realize that it’s probably because this is book 1 of The Anne O’Malley Arctic Adventures series.  Still, I found myself wanting a bit more in this book.  Very Good though!  Read it!!!

*Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Carrie Kurtz

 

Carrie Kurtz is a full-time mom and wife who can’t help but make time to explore new worlds in between carpooling and laundry loads. She’s trying to encourage a similar obsession with reading in her two children, and she’s grateful her husband supports her habit. She can be found at Carrie K’s Book Reviews.

13 Days of Free Books

Little Miss Lovesick by Kitty BucholtzThis is the last time for a while that I will have an opportunity to give away all of my books for free on Amazon. (Insert uninteresting story about Amazon rules here…)

So starting today, Tuesday, June 28, 2016, Little Miss Lovesick is free for five days as an Amazon Kindle ebook. That’s today through Saturday, July 2. Hurray!

A Very Merry Superhero Wedding book cover by Kitty BucholtzThen on Saturday, A Very Merry Superhero Wedding will become free for five days – Saturday, July 2 through Wednesday, July 6. Awesome!

Unexpected Superhero cover by Kitty BucholtzAnd then Unexpected Superhero will be free from Wednesday, July 6 through Sunday, July 10. Yay!

Of course, the short story prequel to the superhero series, “Superhero in Disguise,” is permanently free on Amazon and most other online retailers (like iBooks, Kobo, BN, etc.).

Superhero in Disguise by Kitty Bucholtz, in the Adventures of Lewis and Clarke seriesI’ll send you a quick email on Saturday and next Wednesday reminding you that it’s the last day to get one book and the first day to get another.

Plus, I’ll send you one more quick email when “Welcome to Loon Lake” is published. I’ve had a couple little problems, but I expect it will still come out this week. I’m so excited!

Book Marks: The Mine – Book Review by Carrie Kurtz

The MineThe Mine by John A. Heldt

Goodreads Summary

In May 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can’t use, money he can’t spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of swing dancing and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war. With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever. THE MINE follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come.

My Thoughts

Oh, how I loved this book!  So good!  I have never read a ‘time travel’ book before so I really didn’t know what to expect.  I was certainly hoping that it would be a good read and it was!

Let me be totally real with you though, when I first started reading The Mine my immediate thought was that I wasn’t going to enjoy it.  The first chapter did not give me a great impression of Joel.  In fact, I did not like Joel at all.  He seemed like a total brat.  And then, when he first went back in time (I’m trying not to give spoilers, guys) it seemed like he adapted a little too easily.

Then, I started thinking about how I always say I was born in the wrong era.  I thought about how I might feel if I was able to go back in time… I think I’d do great too!  I might have a little longer adjustment time than Joel did, but that might just be a personality difference between us (you know, if he was a real person… sometimes I get wrapped up in a story and I forget it’s not real).

The ending was absolutely spectacular!  I adored it!  I was actually hoping for that kind of ending but I didn’t imagine it quite the way it happened.  I liked Mr. Heldt’s version better than the one I created in my mind 🙂

I will definitely be recommending this book!  It was extremely good and I can’t wait to read another John A. Heldt book again soon!

*Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Carrie Kurtz

 

Carrie Kurtz is a full-time mom and wife who can’t help but make time to explore new worlds in between carpooling and laundry loads. She’s trying to encourage a similar obsession with reading in her two children, and she’s grateful her husband supports her habit. She can be found at Carrie K’s Book Reviews.

LOVE AT THE LIBRARY: Two Classes on How to Self-Publish

I’m excited to be teaching two LIVE in-person workshops this spring teaching people what they need to know about self-publishing and helping them get started. You want to come?

Love at the Library event banner

LOVE AT THE LIBRARY – Saturday, May 28, Noon – 6pm, Free
The first one is tomorrow, Saturday, May 28, 2016, at the downtown San Diego library. The San Diego chapter of Romance Writers of America is presenting, Love at the Library, a day of workshops, readings, and book signings (with lots of your favorite romance authors) followed by the screening of the feature-length documentary, Love Between the Covers.

The film explores the romance novel industry, what makes it so popular, and why so many intelligent, talented women choose to write romance. It’s really interesting (I saw it at the LA Film Festival last year) and yours truly has a cameo appearance! 😀 

My workshop, The Ins and Outs of Self-Publishing, will run from 1:00pm to 1:50pm. I’ll have handouts for everyone, and there will be Q&A at the end. Two other writing workshops are at 12 noon and at 2:00pm. More details, including times and location, can be found here. This event is completely FREE and runs from Noon to 6pm. Cool, right?!

THE WRITE STUFF – Saturday, June 4, 10am – Noon, $10
The second workshop is next Saturday, June 4, 2016, at the Valley Center County Library not far from Escondido, California, in northern San Diego county. It’s also not far from Temecula. This one will be very cool for different reasons. 😉

First, it’s a 2-hour workshop instead of 50 minutes. And the class size is capped at 20 people, so I’ll be able to help every student more personally and in greater depth.

Second, the $10 fee per person goes directly to the library! Love that! You get to learn about self-publishing, and the library benefits. Win-win!

I’m part of “The Write Stuff” series and my workshop, Self-Publishing – A How-to Seminar, will cover many topics that are in my online course (Your How-to Guide to Self-Publishing, which will re-open this summer).

Since you need to pre-register for this event (no walk-ins except maybe on the small chance the class isn’t filled), I am attaching the registration PDF here so you can download it and mail it in ASAP. If you have any questions, or want to make sure it’s not too late to register, email me at kitty AT kittybucholtz DOT com.

I hope to see you at these events! Should be lots of fun! 😀

Elena and Kitty Blabbing About Books – A Live Show

Do you like listening to podcasts or watching video interviews? Are you a fan of shows like Inside the Actors Studio? Do you love to read and talk about books?

You just might love our new show, Elena and Kitty Blabbing About Books!

Elena and Kitty Blabbing About Books

YA author Elena Dillon and I started this new live author interview show on the Blab platform in February 2016 to see if it was something we enjoyed. We’ve interviewed half a dozen authors so far and we’re having a great time! Audience members say they’re having fun, too!

The Blab platform is a new-ish website that allows people all over the world to video chat with up to three other people live while anyone from anywhere can watch and participate in the chat box. The video chats can also be recorded and watched again later.

On Elena and Kitty Blabbing About Books, Elena and I interview authors in a manner similar to that of Inside the Actors Studio. Some of the questions are silly fun, and some are about the author’s process or new books coming out, and the watching audience asks questions as well.

Last week, we tried another format – Elena and I chatted about our favorite sci-fi and fantasy stories while our audience interacted with us in the chat. We discussed The Martian by Andy Weir, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, the Lord of the Rings books by J.R.R. Tolkein, and many more. We’re going to do the same kind of show tonight, talking about favorite time travel stories. There are so many – A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Remembrance by Jude Deveraux, and many more – that we had to dedicate a separate show to time travel, outside the sci-fi/fantasy show!

Elena and Kitty Blabbing About Books is live from 7pm to 8pm Pacific time (almost) every Wednesday. The link here is for the time travel show tonight. But you can click the link anytime after the show is over to see the replay. You can also follow Elena and me on the Blab platform (it’s connected to Twitter) and get a message when a new show is about to go live. Searching Blab will find our past episodes, but I’ll also start a new page here soon and add all the shows we’ve done. 😀

We won’t have a show next week, Wednesday, May 18, 2016, because I’ll be out of town. But we’ll be back on May 25. I hope you join us tonight and/or on future episodes as we blab about books!