Posted in short story, Story

Happy Thanksgiving Story

For our last meeting the Pamlico Writers decided to share short stories with a Thanksgiving theme. I decided to do a little experimental writing. When our Writers Read group used to get together in Belhaven, hosted by Marni Graff, there was an amazing young writer there who wrote a story in second person. Blythe was only a teenager at the time but her talent was astounding and her story has stayed with me. Now my little experiment is nowhere as good as what she wrote but I am proud that I attempted something so very different, I hope you enjoy it. Happy Thanksgiving.

Just a little post script: this is more like Christmas morning but since I was writing it for Thanksgiving I took creative license. I am thankful for the little kindnesses my family shows me and this is almost a true story.

Thanksgiving Morning

You awaken to the aroma of coffee brewing and muffled voices. Staggering from your bed you bump into the chest at the foot of the bed and stumble towards the bathroom. After relieving your swollen bladder, brushing your teeth, and taming the wild fluff on your head you follow your nose to fresh brewed coffee.

Your oldest son turns from his task at the stove and apologizes, “Sorry mom, we didn’t mean to wake you. We were trying to be quiet.”

“I smelled coffee.”

Smiling, your middle son hands you a cup and turns to his older brother and says, “I told you she’d be awake as soon as she smelled the coffee.”

The oldest grandson squeezes past with a couple of dozen eggs.

“Did you have to wait for the hens to lay them?”

“Yep,” he replies with a grin and does a reverse squeeze out of the kitchen and out of his uncle’s reach. He gives you a brief hug as he exits.

The scent of roasting garlic mingles with the sweet smell of cinnamon and brown sugar. Wrinkling your nose, you ask, “What’s with the garlic? I thought you were making French toast casserole?”

“I am. Ryan wanted to get a head start on lunch.”

Number 2 grandson lifts his head at his name. The headphones give him an alien profile and allowed him to be oblivious to the previous drama. “Hey grandma.”

“Hey, whatcha making?”

“Garlic butter.” He returns to his task squeezing roasted garlic from its skin and blending it with melted butter, olive oil, and chopped basil.

“Why don’t you sit down with your coffee until breakfast is ready,” the oldest son suggests. “We’ve got this.”

Feeling pampered and knowing you’ll spend most of the rest of the day in the kitchen preparing the Thanksgiving meal, you smile and nod and shuffle off to your recliner to take advantage of the reprieve.

A little experimental writing for Thanksgiving.
Posted in Creekside Cafe, interview, promo

Welcome Back to Creekside Cafe Tiffany Christina Lewis

I’d like to welcome my fellow crime fiction author, Tiffany Christina Lewis back to Creekside Café. Y’all may remember our previous interview. Tiffany is a publisher at Rebellion LIT, she works tirelessly to support other authors. I was lucky enough to have been interviewed on Rebellion LIT. Welcome Tiffany, it’s so good to have you back.

Tiffany: Thank you for speaking with me again Sherri! I will never forget our last interview because you helped me get over my hesitation to write Romance. Shortly after our interview, I was able to write two romance plots. A short story and a novella, so I am very grateful for our chats! 

Sherri: You have a new book coming out. Is this part of your crime series?

Tiffany: No, this new book is a short story collection. Helpless is my opposition to the tropes of true crime. As much as I love true crime, women are often seen as victims in the shows and they are rarely shown as survivors. It’s just the formula the channels are using that has given them the best ratings. My book includes eight stories of women who rise above adversity, save themselves and those around them and take control of their lives. I feature Crime Fiction, Romance, Sci-Fi, Paranormal, and Adventure stories. I’m very proud of the stories I’ve offered!

Sherri: Tiffany is the author of six books and has been published in more than a dozen anthologies and magazines. I know this isn’t an easy answer, but what inspires your writing?

Tiffany: Everything inspires my writing, but I think my stories come from characters first. For instance, with my Michael Taylor series, I knew Michael first. He is based on one of my long-time celebrity crushes, and truly, the idea just came to me based on the idea of the character. The same thing happened with my new release. I knew all the women first, then their profile created the story I wanted to tell. More recently, I’ve been inspired by the books I read. I’ve been reading 3-5 books a month, depending on the length of course, but the Indie authors I read always inspire me and give me ideas by creating worlds I can get submerged in and for my imagination to chew on.

Sherri: What inspired this new book? The blurb from Janae Bunn called it a book dedicated to the craziness, determination, and spirit of grit that women possess. I’d like to know more about that.

Tiffany: The characters definitely inspired this book. It started with one story. I was waiting at a vanpool stop to pick up my boyfriend after work and it was in the Fall so it was pretty dark out. All of a sudden I had the wild thought of someone smashing my car window with a brick. lol. Crazy, I know, and I was in a completely safe environment. There were tons of people waiting with me there, but as I explored the idea more, I created the story of Rainey, which is a crime fiction story in the collection. Each story really started with the woman, her struggle, and a big moment. Some stories are gritty, some are a little crazy and all of the women are determined.

Sherri: As you know, I like kick-ass women characters. I believe that sometimes we have to be the heroes in our own stories and rescue ourselves.

Tiffany: Absolutely! I think Fiction does a great job of presenting women like that, especially now. As I say in the introduction to my book, women are not just a ball of emotions, they can fight and they can win!

Sherri: What are you planning to do next?

Tiffany: I’m actually in the process of editing Michael Taylor number four but after that, I think I’ll take a step back from my own books and really put my publisher hat on. I have a poetry book to release under Rebellion LIT and I’ve been pushing back the start of our first Anthology release. I wanted it to be coming this summer, but obviously not… I’ll need to take some time away from my books to get this done because my Rebellion “staff” consists of 3 people and I’m the only one who releases the books so it’s a lot of work. Doing the author and publisher thing at the same time is challenging and I want to give my all to the authors I’ll be serving.

Sherri: Tiffany resides in Sacramento, CA with her family and Miniature Pinscher. This has been a difficult year and a half especially for those of you who live in larger cities, how have you managed during the pandemic?

Tiffany: I have been very blessed. My job as well as my boyfriend’s offered us work alternatives, so I was able to work from home with full pay. As a preschool teacher, my duties were very limited initially but this school year things ramped up. It did give me a lot of time at home that I wouldn’t typically have. We couldn’t go anywhere, I eliminated my commute, so I was able to write and fully plan this book release. It’s really been excellent for my writing career but not as good for my classroom. I am concerned about how my students will do in Kindergarten and I hope our state has a plan for these children who have had so little socialization.

Sherri: While I’m sure everyone will agree there’s been a lot of awful following on the tails of Covid-19, there have also been some wonderful innovations, ideas, friendships, and blessings. Do you have a special something to lift our readers?

Tiffany: I have definitely had a chance to connect with a lot more authors, interact more, share ideas and grow as an author during this time, believe it or not! Being on social media more, which I think we all have been, has actually been good for me. It has been the only way I could meet like-minded people during this time. Zoom has even played a role in my social life, outside of work! I also think the deeper connections I made with family have been a mirrored experience of others. Just checking in with family more and wishing more people well has made me feel joyful.

Sherri: I know you like to help other writers, what advice would you give a new writer? What would you say to one publishing their first book? What advice do you wish you’d had before becoming a published author?

Tiffany: I actually had a TON of advice before publishing. My mentor was a five-time published author who then became my publisher and she told me what I tell people all the time now, the number one advice I would give a new writer is to write another book! I would follow that up with please get a professional editor and an amazing book cover. Releasing your best work and putting a great face on it is step one, but if you don’t have another book coming soon, it can be hard to keep the momentum of your career. Especially depending on the genre of the book. The literary industry is so complicated, but on a lower level, writing another book means you are writing and writing is the best way to get better at writing.

Sherri: Like the strong women you write about, you embody the spirit of your heroines. Tell us again how we can find your books and remind us of your latest.

Tiffany: My latest release is Helpless: A Short Story Collection, with 8 stories of women kicking butt and taking names! To see all my titles you can check my website here, Find my Amazon Book Store here:

Book Blurb: 

Content and Trigger Warnings for this title and all titles by Tiffany Christina Lewis are available at

“Finally, a book dedicated to the craziness, determination, and spirit of grit that women possess.” — Janae Bunn

Women are powerful and can be rational thinkers under pressure. They can also be devious and vengeful. A woman is not just a ball of emotion. Women can fight, they can protect, and they can win.

These eight stories of women kicking ass, standing tall, and refusing to be victims are Tiffany’s opposition to the tropes of true crime. With stories from five genres including Paranormal, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Romance, and Crime Fiction, you are sure to find a story you love.

“Tiffany Christina Lewis branches out with new stories that will have you at the edge of your seat and wanting more! Her writing now explores the realms of paranormal, science fiction, and romance with short stories that will entrance her readers.” — Joseph S. Samaniego author of the Legends of the Carolyngian Age series

Here is a link to the book as well:

Sherri: Thank you for stopping by my virtual café, it was so good to have you back. I wish you much success on your latest book and hope we can get together again soon.

Thank you so much, Sherri! I appreciate your time. I included book links for Helpless below. Autographed: Bookstores: Amazon: Goodreads:

Tiffany Christina Lewis
Novelist of Crime Fiction


Posted in Creekside Cafe

On the Porch with Parker McCoy

It’s a lovely autumn day in eastern North Carolina, and I’m happy to welcome Parker McCoy to my virtual cafe.

Parker: Thank you so much for having me, Sherri. Happy to be here!!

Sherri: We’re almost kissing cousins, I understand you grew up in Tennessee?

Parker: Yes, I have always lived in west Tennessee. Lots of green hills and quiet country which always draws me in.

Sherri: How long have you been writing? Did you write stories as a child?

Parker: Well, when I was a kid, I often came up with characters. I loved the Dick Tracey movie when it came out in 1990. My friends and I would make up villains and draw them out and give them names. We never wrote stories. Just drew and made up the characters. I didn’t read a ton of stuff as a kid. I didn’t read a lot of books until I hit my twenties. I’m almost forty now. So, I have had plenty of experience at this point. But no, as a kid, I mainly watched cartoons and read comic books and played with action figures in a huge backyard for hours on end by myself. I think I was always making up stories in my head, but I wasn’t writing them down, which is what separates a writer from a normal person. We actually have to write these things down or we forget them. I’ve always had a big imagination, though. I really enjoy coming up with stories and would do it rather I put my work out there or not. I figure why not share it with the world, I may get a laugh or two out of it.

Sherri: Is Fairfax and Glew your first books? Tell us a little about them?

Parker: No, I’ve written other books under another name, but I also have Thinking Me Dead under Parker McCoy. Fairfax and Glew center around George Fairfax, who is the black sheep of his family and is also an adventurous dude who doesn’t like to sit still for long. Wally Glew is a private eye with too much time on his hands and together they go after thieves and other petty criminals. You won’t find murder or mayhem in these stories. They’re lighter tales with a humorous side. If you want to read about a guy who steals Marie Callender dinners, this series is for you.

Sherri: What are your plans for your writing future? Do you have more Fairfax and Glew stories or are you thinking of trying something new?

Parker: Oh, I have many, many plans for Fairfax and Glew. I can envision volume ten and beyond that. The farther it goes, the more interesting and developed the characters and of course, introducing new characters is always a thrill as well. I also love it that this series doesn’t take itself too seriously and so I can play around and have a blast. It’s definitely the most fun I’ve ever had through my many years of writing. As for other projects, I’m not currently on anything but who knows? If something strikes me, sure. I’ll take on another project but for now, it’s all about Fairfax and Glew.

Sherri: I have read several of your shorts on your blog. I like your writing style. Is this how your stories are in your books?

Parker: Yes, I like to focus on action and dialogue. I’m not big on lots of reflection or lengthy descriptions of things. I like stories that really move which I think works well for my genre. The first fourteen stories on the blog are written in first-person from Fairfax’s point of view. I like first-person but for a series, I don’t think it works as well. So, I switched to third-person limited so I could pop around in other characters’ heads which has been a blast. It’s opened up whole new worlds for me. But yes, if you like the blog stories, you’ll love the books. However, the stories in the books are longer but they’re in the same style. So, same style and more story. Win, win!!

Sherri: How did you come up with the characters of Fairfax and Glew? Did anyone influence their inception?

Parker: I’d written different books and stories but generally, with one main protagonist. So I played around with a buddy-type, duo story and decided it was something I wanted to do. I came up with Fairfax although he was named Kenneth Fairfax at first. However, I decided he needed to come from a wealthy family who named their children after royalty-kings and queens. As it turned out, there was no King Kenneth. So I changed that to George. Glew popped up on a search and then Wally popped right into my head right after. As far as influence, I think all my characters are a combination of different people I’ve met. That is what’s so cool about meeting and hanging out with a lot of different people.

Sherri: What or whom has been the biggest influence on your writing?

Parker: I’d say laughter. Anytime I quote a movie or book or show to my friends, it’s always the funny parts, even if the movie or show is not a comedy. I think that drives me. When I can make people laugh and forgot about the cruel world out there, I feel great. It starts with making myself laugh and then I hope it moves onto the readers. So far, I think that’s been the case with many. Knock on wood…

Sherri: What do you like to read? Who are some of your favorite authors?

Parker: I’m a big fan of crime and short stories. Edgar Alan Poe was definitely an influence. Donald Westlake was for sure, since he combined humor with crime stories. Charles Dickens wrote my favorite book- A Christmas Carol. I’ve also enjoyed work by Stephen Hunter, Jim Thompson, Ambrose Bierce, Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, James Lee Burke, Dashiell Hammett, and Patricia Highsmith. I also love just about anything involving Alfred Hitchcock.

Sherri: Do you belong to any writing groups or organizations? Do you have Beta readers? Are you traditionally or indie published?

Parker: I don’t currently belong to any writing groups, but I would like to. I just haven’t branched out in that area. I use beta readers and enjoy their input. I’m indie published and proud of it!

Sherri: If you could learn from or talk about writing with one person, who would that be? Why?

Parker: I’d love to talk with Donald Westlake and ask him how he churned out so much material, even when things weren’t going so well for him since all writers have tough spots in their careers. He really put in the work.

Sherri: If your stories were picked up for a movie deal, do you have anyone in mind to play your main characters?

Parker: You know, I have nothing against movie adaptations of books, but I really like to picture my characters in my head. When I see them in a movie, it takes something away. It’s like my imagination dies a little. Personally, I’d like to see two unknown actors handle the job. There’s nothing better than seeing a hungry young actor take on a role and break out.

Sherri: Parker and I are part of the Shameless Self Promo group on Twitter, we’re an eclectic group that has found strength and courage with each other. What would you say to someone who is just starting out as a writer or first-time author?

Parker: I would give them some advice that I saw Ray Bradbury give to a young group one time which is to write a short story a week for a year. At the end of the year, you have fifty-two stories. Some won’t be good but there may be a gem or two and you will have so much experience in writing about different characters and different scenarios. Writing is definitely a long game. Very few find success early on. Makes sure it’s fun for you and that you’d do it if you didn’t get paid for it. Focus on telling a story purely. Listen to family members and friends who always captivate people when they tell stories. Learn from them. They are naturals, even though most of them never write anything down. And lastly, of course, have fun at it! If it isn’t fun, move onto a project that is and have a ball!

Sherri: Parker, thank you for joining me at my virtual cafe, stick around a while, the fishing is good and if you brought some good Tennessee whiskey, we can swap some fish stories though I’m not much of a fisherman myself.

Parker: Oh, we don’t need to fish to swap great stories, and whiskey is not a necessity, but the stories may flow better with a little lubricant. Ha-ha. Thank you so much for having me, Sherri. It’s a real pleasure. Or a real McCoy, you might say.




Book links-

Fairfax & Glew: Volume 1-
Fairfax & Glew Volume Tew-

Posted in Creekside Cafe, interview

A Visit from Author Rachell Nichole

Today I’d like to welcome contemporary romance author, Rachell Nichole to Creekside Café. 

Welcome Rachell, is this your first time in eastern North Carolina?

to sir new

Rachell: Thanks for having me. No, I’m from the East Coast, so I’ve been up and down the area. Never spent a lot of time in the Carolinas, but a day here and there. We had a stop in Charleston, South Carolina on the honeymoon cruise we took.

Sherri: Ah yes, you’re still honeymooning.

Rachell: Yup, Mr. Nichole and I have been married just over two years now. So we’re still newlyweds.

Sherri: We’re getting ready to celebrate twenty-eight years and my husband says we’re still honeymooning. We’re a little more sedate about it now that we’re older. You describe your books as contemporary with a little kink. That sounds interesting.

Rachell: Wow, that’s an amazing run! 28 years. Congratulations. I have some books that I consider Kink Lite, but some are really quite kinky. Right now, I’m focusing on some heavier kinky books. I’ve also got several different flavors of books that don’t have kink. I have F/F and menage, and multicultural books out as well. All of it is steamy. I’ve also written paranormal and romantic suspense as well, but those are not published yet.

Sherri: I read the excerpt on your blog, A Love Affair in Las Vegas it’s very heart warming. I felt a connection with Barnaby. Like Sylvia Day, you weave real life and emotions with steamy sex. 

What are you working on now?

Rachell: Aw, that’s so sweet. I can’t believe I was just compared to Syl Day! That is one of the best compliments ever! Thank you. And yes, I love Barnaby. He’s such a sweetheart. Right now I’m working on Bound by Submission the second in the ABCs of Submission series, which is connected to the K Club series, that is in this anthology. I also just got ideas for the next two books directly in the K Club series, so I’m simmering those right now and trying to not get pulled into the brand new shiny projects.

Sexy woman face closeup with black lace mask
Sexy woman face closeup with black lace mask cover her eyes and fresh red apple. Seductive red lips and nails. Fashion Make up and manicure

Sherri: We met through The New Romance Café and the Love in Bloom anthology. Tell us about your story for the anthology.

Rachell: Yes, I love that group. It’s such a great place for romance readers and writers to connect. I’m so glad to have met folks just like you there. So, for this story,  I really found it hard to fit Syenca and Jensen’s piece into only 10,000 words, but I also really really loved writing it. I titled it Blooming for Sir because it serves as a prequel story to To Sir, and starts out in the K Club, where the rest of the books in the series really take place. It’s also just got a touch of kink in it, and is about Syneca kind of trying this whole kinky thing out. Syneca and Jensen are both from old money New York families from the Hamptons, and Syneca was arranged from an early age to marry Jensen’s older brother, Jackson. She and Jensen shared a friendship as kids and a few kisses in their youth, but then Syenca broke things off with Jackson and moved away. The story starts out in The K Club during an auction to raise money for Syneca’s foundation to help LGBTQ homeless youth who have been disowned by their families. Jensen offers to buy her for the night, even though he knows she’s not for sale.  I love love loved writing this short piece and I can’t wait to share it with the world. Here is the official blurb: 

It’s springtime in Spartan Nevada, and that means it’s time for the K Club’s 2nd annual fetish ball to raise money for a good cause. This year, one of the club’s owners has chosen a cause close to his heart – the Madison Foundation that helped him when he was a homeless LGBT youth. Syneca Madison Lexington is delighted Dusty wants to help her foundation, particularly since she’s quickly running out of the trust fund money she could still access when her own parents disowned her for being bisexual. But a submissive auction? She doesn’t know if that’s something she can get behind or not. When Jensen Elmwood enters the K Club, intent on purchasing himself a submissive for the night, the last thing he expects is to run into the one woman he’s loved since he was a kid, the same woman who’s been engaged to his brother since high school. When the sparks reignite between them, can a springtime romance bloom into something more? Or will their past hurts and old family influences tear them apart?

Sherri: Well, I can’t wait to see what happens with Syneca and Jensen. I’m sure things are going to heat up. 

You’ve been a published author for several years now. Are you traditionally published or indie? 

Rachell: A bit of both, actually. I have been published now for 7 years. I started with a small press, and indie pubbed a few titles, but the small house I was with closed in 2018, so I’ve since republished my backlist all on my own, with the help of my writer-editor husband. So, with those titles all republished, and with three new titles I wrote and published last year along with the relaunch, I currently have 12 titles out. The story in the anthology will be lucky number 13. 

I’ve been writing for as long as I could string sentences together, and I was writing romance fanfic in high school but didn’t start my first original paranormal romance novel until I was 18. I got my first novel publishing contract at 21, which is really early for so many people, and I feel so lucky to have started my career out that way, with the help and support of the editors, cover artists, and the rest of the team at Loose Id. 

Sherri: You hold several degrees, do you use these in your writing? 

Rachell: All the time, actually. Two of my degrees are in writing. So I feel like I use things I learned in those degree programs every day. The other degree in French is something I pull from in a lot of different ways. I’ve set books in France, and French culture and language end up in several of my books.

Sherri: Do your hobbies and interests show up in your writing?

Rachell: Languages and travel definitely make it into my writing, as does my love affair with food. My characters are eating quite a bit, or cooking for each other, or talking about food. I guess “food” isn’t really a hobby, but I really love cooking, and I think that bleeds into my writing in a lot of pieces. 

I grab most of my recipes online, so here’s one I use a lot that I adore. It’s just some great good, comfort food! 

Sherri: Do you write full-time or do you hold down another job as well?

Rachell: Hah! There isn’t a job I’ve encountered I haven’t also worked! Currently, in addition to writing, I work a normal 9-5 (though those aren’t my exact hours) four days a week at a law firm and I teach writing for an online college. I also do some tutoring on the side, but not very steadily, just in between things.

Sherri: Oh wow, and I thought I was busy. When do you find time to write? You must really enjoy writing to be able to do it as well as work two, sometimes three other jobs.

Rachell: Sometimes, it’s really hard to balance, but right now, I block my writing time, usually on Fridays-Sundays when I’m not at the firm, and then i work my teaching around those 6-10 hour blocks of time where I’m writing. I’m fortunate that I can work on a piece for multiple hours without a lot of breaks. I love the excitement of a new project rattling around in my head begging to be let out. I also love talking to people about my stories. These characters are so real to me so when I talk to others about them like they’re also real people, the feeling is amazing.

Sherri: Oh yes, I feel that way too, especially when writing a series, you feel like they’re part of your family. Is there anything you don’t like about writing? 

Rachell: Writing. Hahaha. I mean, I love it, but I hate it all at the same time. My very least favorite is the final edits and doing the formatting on a book.

Sherri: You’ve been writing several years and have a dozen books out. What do you feel your writing strengths and weaknesses are?

Rachell: I write cleanly. This comes back to my work as a writer and training, but also the fact that I learned to type when I was 9 and I can type by feel entirely. This makes typos less likely. I write what I call a dirty draft, where I can kick out 50,000 words in three weeks, and then dig in and revise it which I’m only able to do because I can type so quickly and without having to stare at either the screen or the keyboard. As to weaknesses, I overuse the shit out of words and I repeat things. So I have themes and names and things that crop up in each manuscript that I then have to revise out.

Sherri: I think we all have our pet words that show up in our writing. Even some of the more famous authors have said they have to go on a search and destroy mission from time to time. Who are your favorite authors or your go to genres?

Rachell: Hah, pet words. that’s a great way to describe it. As to my favorite authors… that’s really hard. Right now I’m obsessed with Roan Parish, Stephanie Julian, Priscilla Oliveras, and Alyssa Cole, in romance and Juliet Blackwell, who writes mysteries and general fiction. I read almost exclusively romance, but am sometimes looking to branch out. These are insta-buy authors for me right now. That list used to include a lot of other names, but I’m rather irate with a particular author who shall remain unnamed for killing off the heroine in the last book of hers I read. She was an author I always always loved, and I don’t know that I’ll ever read her again.

Sherri: I feel that way about a certain author. He writes beautifully, great characters you just fall in love with and then he kills them off or leaves them in a state of flux. NO! I want my happy ending. Life is hard enough without killing off the characters I love. 

Before you go, give us a little insight into you as a person and as a writer.

Rachell: Well, my husband would say I’m perfect… hahaha, okay, that’s a total lie, but he would say that I’m worth it! He is the second biggest fan of my writing (my mom still holds the first spot) and he tells me all the time how talented he thinks I am which just means so much. As a writer, I like to think I’m a lot like I am as a real person. As to my overall personality, I’m loud, and crass and constantly busy. I flit from project to project, and have an inability to sit still.

Sherri: Rachell, it has been lovely to have you at my virtual café, maybe someday I can make it a reality and you can come back for a real visit. I look forward to reading your story in the anthology and hope to do more projects with you. 

Rachell: That would be so much fun, Sherri. I’m definitely game. Thanks for inviting me. 

Here are all of Rachell’s links. If you enjoyed our chat and her excerpt for the anthology, “Love in Bloom,” you buy your copy with just a click.

Author website:
Author blog:
Author Facebook page:
Author Twitter: 
Author Goodreads Profile page:
Author Amazon Profile page:
Newsletter signup:

Facebook Group:


Posted in event, my books, News, promo

“Love In Bloom”–What it means to be a part of an international anthology.

Are you ready for spring? Well, I have no control of the weather, but I can give you a little taste of spring, spring romance that is. Check out our spring romance anthology, “Love in Bloom.”

When my friend, Tammera Cooper, author of The Water Street Chronicles, first suggested I join The New Romance Café Facebook group, I thought, yeah whatever. Another boring group doing nothing. Boy was I wrong. Right away, I could tell this group was going to be different. The group is a combination of writers, both published and dreamers, and readers, romance readers. The New Romance Café offers a safe haven for those who love reading and writing romance.

The founder and host of The New Romance Cafe, Andie Wood and her founding group have given its members a place that allows us to share our eclectic views on romance, characters, reading and writing. The genre is explored from different perspectives and even if we don’t agree, our views are respected. The Café is a place to discuss what we love, romance. I am surprised at how much I look forward to and enjoy participating with this group. (The New Romance Café is a closed group.)
Shortly after I joined the group, Andie put out a call for short stories for the group’s upcoming anthologies. A vacancy due to a family emergency offered an opportunity for someone else to join the two planned anthologies. Someone was needed who was willing to write a short story for their spring anthology. Without stopping to think, I volunteered. Little did I know, as we were ending the first week of January that the story would need to be finished, edited and ready to go by February first. Uh, what did I just agree to? Thanks to Lauriel Masson-Oakden, who took on the task of editing both for content and grammar, we managed to get my story, R and R, ready with time to spare. Thank you so much for that, Lauriel!

Having the opportunity to be a part of this anthology is important for several reasons. The first, all the proceeds will go to breast cancer research. Eastern North Carolina has one of the highest rates of cancer in the U S. Learning that the group wanted to support an international charity and was leaning towards breast cancer made being part of this project more important. All of us have been touched by cancer whether we are survivors ourselves, have family or friends who’ve fought the battle or lost it, cancer is very real for all of us. Finding the right charity was a little more difficult. When the U S based Breast Cancer Research Foundation was chosen, it was obvious it was the perfect fit. This foundation works globally to help women and men, deal with breast cancer. BCRF is active in teaching preventive measures and searching for a cure. BCRF funds nearly three hundred researchers across fourteen countries and six continents. I am so proud to be a part of this anthology, all the proceeds from “Love in Bloom” will got to BCRF.

The second reason to be a part of this anthology is a selfish one. Because the group is an eclectic one, representing several different countries, I hope being included in this international anthology will put my name out into the world. The anthology will link to our stories to our other works making it easier for readers to find our other books. As indie authors, our biggest hurdle is being seen in the crowd. If you are on a budget, you have to choose where to spend your marketing dollar and hope you don’t get lost amid the plethora of similar books. By being part of the anthology, helps us to stand out in the crowd. If readers like your story, they can find more from you with just a tap.
The third reason I am so glad to be a part of this anthology are the people I have met. I started doing interviews on my blog. Along the way I have discovered other readers and writers, their work and their friendship. I cannot tell you how interesting it is to meet people from Romania, Norway, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and even the good ole USA, each reads and writes different from me, there may be some similarities but where we are from, our education, our ages all play a factor in what we write. Sharing their stories on my blog and sharing space with them in the anthology is a great honor.

“Love in Bloom” is a collection of romance stories from writers from different parts of the world. Some of the authors are multi-published and successful. For some, this is their first published work. Others, like myself fall into the middle. The stories’ subgenres are just as varied: historical, contemporary, suspense, vampire and steampunk to name just a few. It’s midrange on the heat level but high octane on the romance. Our overall theme is Spring.
So, when you purchase “Love in Bloom,” you are not only getting entertaining stories, you are helping search for a cure for breast cancer.
Posted in my books, Story

Silvered Midnight

The golden glow of the whiskey refracted in the lighted mirror, the sweet smoky scent perfumed the air, beckoning her to taste. Rae held the tumbler of Jack on ice, the ice having long since melted and blended with the whiskey. The memory of the sweet burn filled her mouth. Rae sat the glass back on the bar, shifting the coaster to square up with the glass. The edge of the glass lined up with the logo, fitting into the circle with the same amount left around the edge. Tracing her finger through the condensation, she fought the memories that threatened her sobriety.

Congratulations,” Rae hugged each of the twins, so proud of them.

“We didn’t win,” DJ grumbled accepting the embrace with cool disinterest.

The beauty pageant was hardly her thing but still, she looked beautiful and Rae told her so. She left Logan talking to his sisters, she wanted to speak to Dana, to congratulate her on a job well done.

Rae was intercepted by Jake. “Rae, I need to speak to you and Billy.”

The tone in his voice warned her this wasn’t going to be a friendly chat. She could hear the official SBI agent though he looked at her with the eyes of a friend.

She stopped in the middle of the auditorium, wishing she could run. Logan came up behind her, his strength a fortress. Rae leaned into him, foreboding whispering she would need him. She was unaware of her father and brother joining them. Her focus was so intent upon the agent.

“Perhaps we should go somewhere more private,” Jake suggested.

Billy swore. “Whatever you need to say, say it. We’re all here.”

Jake’s sad eyes met hers and she knew, even before he said the words. “I’m sorry to tell you that Marisol Grimes was found dead in her apartment. It is believed she took her own life.”

“Marisol would not have killed herself,” her father insisted. “Not when she was this close to meeting Rae and Billy again.”

Jake agreed, “I find it difficult to believe as well but the evidence…”

“Could be tampered with…” Billy said.

Jake nodded. “But the official ruling is suicide unless you can get them to change it to unexplained death.”

Billy and her dad started asking questions.

Rae turned to Logan, burying her face against his chest. “I should have met with her when I had the chance.”

His arms banded around her, holding her upright though she felt like crumbling.

Billy cursed and stormed out the community center.

“How many of those have you had?” Billy asked easing onto the stool beside her. His cologne filled the air, dulling the aroma of the whiskey.

Rae glanced up at the mirror, her eyes meeting his in the silver surface. She shrugged. “I’m drinking a toast to Mom.”

Billy nodded the bartender over and ordered a beer.

She watched his reflection in the mirror. Billy raised an eyebrow and gave nod to the bartender, motioning towards her and the glass in front of her.

Charlie held up one finger and shrugged. He pulled a bottle for the cooler and popped the top setting it and a coaster in front of Billy.

Billy took a sip and turned to her. “What are you doing here, Rae.” The smell of hops and yeast scented his breath, mingling with the minty mouthwash. “You’ve been on the wagon for months now. Why would you want to screw that up?”

She picked up the glass and smelled the whiskey, wanting desperately to taste it and hating herself for her weakness. Slamming the glass to the bar, she turned to her brother and hissed, “Because I’m a screw up. That’s what I do.”

“And yet you’ve managed to stay sober for months, save granddad’s fishing camp and fall in love. If you want to talk about screw ups, I believe I have more claim to that than you do.”

“Dana?” Rae asked seeing the loneliness in his eyes. She’d seen that same look in the mirror until recently. Finding Logan and sobriety had given her something she’d not known in years, a sense of self. She stared at the whiskey, knowing she’d be giving up more than her achieved sobriety if she succumbed to the weakness now. Billy was right, she’d come so far, she couldn’t throw it all away on one drink. She sighed knowing it wouldn’t be just one drink.

“I shouldn’t have let her go.” Billy’s words brought her out of her own thoughts.

“You shouldn’t have messed with her to start with,” she was angry that he’d toyed with her best friend’s affection.

He winced. “It’s difficult not to when someone treats you like you’re some kind of hero…”

 Rae rolled her eyes. “You’re not in love with her.”

“How do you know what I am?” Billy demanded balling his fist onto the bar rattling their drinks and causing the other patrons to glare in their direction.

Rae narrowed her eyes daring one of them to say something. Her reputation lingered and the other patrons turned away not wanting to start something with the crazy girl. She hid her smile with the lift of her glass. Pressing the cool, hard surface to her lips until the sweet, pungent scent of the whiskey reached her nose and she slammed the glass back to the bar. “If you were in love with her, you wouldn’t have been tempted by every other girl that walked by.”

Billy flushed a dull red and sipped his beer. “So, you going to drink that whiskey or just stare at it?”

Rae shrugged and turned the glass around and around. “I’ve paid for it. I guess I can do whatever I want with it.”

He sighed. “You don’t want it.”

Rae sighed and scooted the to the far edge of the bar. “Charlie, can I have a bottle of water?”

The bartender returned and handed her an ice-cold bottle of water. He opened it and set it in front of her. He started to take the glass of whiskey away. Rae put her hand on it, then nodded, allowing him to remove the temptation.

Rae took off the cap and drank greedily from the bottle. Her thirst satisfied, she set the near-empty bottle on the bar and heaved a sigh. “I’ll never have the chance to ask her why?”

“Why she left?” Billy asked studying his bottle of beer as if it had the answers to the universe. The pale gold absorbed the faint glow from the lights encircling the mirror. Like most bars, the Hard Hat was dimly lit except over the pool tables where a pool of light illuminated the Kelly green felt.

Rae picked at the label on the water bottle. “Why everything? Why she left? Why she and daddy fought? Why she didn’t come back? Why we weren’t enough for her…” her voice cracked.

Billy put his hand on his sister’s and gave hers a little squeeze. “Rae, it doesn’t matter. It wouldn’t change anything.”

“What if I’m like her?” She whispered, unshed tears making her voice thick.

Billy shook his head. “You’re not.”

“How do you know?”

“You stuck out with me and dad even when we didn’t make it easy for you,” Billy said. “You’ve been friends with Dana and Jenna since middle school and the three of you are still tight.”

“That doesn’t mean anything.”

“It does. I’m not friends with the same guys I was friends with in high school. I’m close to the squad, but most of those guys I’ve only known a few years.”

“I’m pregnant,” Rae whispered.

Billy nodded. “Yeah, I heard.”

She blinked back tears. “I don’t know how to be a good parent.”

“You know what not to do,” he laughed.

She blinked. “I’m terrified.”

He draped his arm awkwardly about her shoulders. “You have Logan. You have me and dad and the girls. We’ll be there for you. You might even teach me how to be a decent human being.”

She snorted and shoved his arm off her shoulders. “I don’t do miracles.”

“You can do this, sis.”

She sighed and pushed back her stool. “I guess we should plan some kind of memorial for mom.”

Billy closed his eyes. “I don’t know what to say. I barely remember her.”

She took in a deep breath and stood. “Maybe we’ll just have our close family and friends. Ms. Sandy and who was her other friend?”

“I don’t remember, we’ll have to ask dad.”

“Maybe we could do something down at the water?”

Billy turned around on his stool. “Yeah, that sounds good.” He tapped his foot on the bottom rung of the stool. “I-uh bought a grave site up at that park in Washington.”

Rae let out a shaky breath. “Have they told you when they’re going to release the body?”

Billy shook his head. “The FBI won’t release her body until they are sure they’ve gotten all the evidence they can.”

“You think she was murdered?” They’d managed to get the state bureau to investigate their mother’s death. They found evidence that she may not have committed suicide but so far, they were ruling it an unexplained death. She sighed.

Billy looked past her not meeting her eyes. “It would be too compact, too neat if she’d killed herself now.” He shook his head brought his eyes up to meet hers. “No, I don’t believe it was an accident. Either Malcolm or her mysterious boyfriend are responsible.”

“Do you think Malcolm hired the boyfriend?”

Billy pursed his lips, his forehead wrinkling. “It’s a possibility.”

Rae pulled a five from her pocket and set it on the bar and leaned in and brushed her lips against his cheek. The scent of his aftershave filled her nose. “Thanks Billy. You know, you’re not a bad big brother.”

He snorted. “Such praise, it’ll go to my head.”

She knew Billy watched her as she headed out of the bar. He’d come to rescue her. Charlie probably called him, but he’d come. It was nice to know her big brother was looking out for her.

A dark-haired man she’d never met brushed past her as Rae started out the door. An eerie feeling tickled her spine and she leaped back, giving him room. A familiar scent teased her memory, making her palms sweat. Her eyes followed him as her memory sought to recall him.

He walked purposefully towards the pool tables. Feeling her eyes on him, he turned his head and smiled. The smile didn’t reach his eyes.

Rae shivered and turned away. Feeling the need to run she forced her steps to slow. She would not cower. Out in the parking lot she was relieved to see the pink Harley parked under a street light. The nights were starting to get cool, but she didn’t have far to ride. A glance back at the bar showed Billy standing in the doorway, watching her. She threw her hand up and waved.

He nodded.

Rae started the bike and headed home. The image of the older man lingered in her thoughts. His behavior had been rude. Most southern men stepped back to allow a female to pass. He’d made a point of crowding her space. He’d wanted her to notice him. Why? She shivered but it wasn’t the cold wind in her face that had her skin prickling. She needed to talk to Jake, she wanted to see the photos of her mother’s boyfriend. I’ll wager it’s him.

Posted in Story

Molly’s Christmas Wish (an original short-story)

“Santa Claus!” Molly exclaimed. “Oh mommy, can I go tell Santa what I want for Christmas? Please.” Five-year old Molly tugged on her mother’s hand.

Callie bit her lip and stared at the mall Santa in his red suit. What’s the point, there will be no Christmas for us.

“We have time Callie,” her cousin Rose said. “Let’s take the girls to visit Santa and then we can finish our shopping.”

Angela and Molly looked up with pleading eyes.

Callie blinked back tears, her stomach churning. Molly was too young to understand. The storm that had destroyed their home had left them devastated. They had no money for Christmas. They were dependent upon the kindness of her cousin, Rose, and her family for even the clothes they were wearing. She would not impose on their holiday. Callie had already been making plans to return Texas. FEMA would give them vouchers for a place to stay until they could rebuild their lives. Straightening her shoulders, she followed Rose and the two girls to the miniature Santa’s village.

Rose’s daughter, Angela, just a year older than Molly, went first. She had a list of Christmas presents she wanted and Santa finally had to tell her he’d surprise her with some of the things on her list. Smiling, she’d leaped from Santa’s lap and whispered to Molly as she passed. The two girls touched hands and Callie had to wonder what they were up to.

Molly climbed on Santa’s knee and stared up into the man’s kind face.

“And what would you like for Christmas Miss. Molly?”

Molly’s eyes grew large. “You know my name?”

He smiled and patted her back. “I know all the good children’s names.”

Molly leaned close and whispered.

Santa glanced up and met Callie’s eyes. He blinked and nodded. “I’ll do my best.”

Molly patted the gloved hand and said, “That’s all we can do Santa, our best. That’s what my mommy says.” She looked up and waved.

Callie smiled and waved at her daughter as she struggled to control her emotions.


“That was an awfully long list you had Miss. Angela,” Rose scolded her daughter. “You know what I think of greedy children, don’t you?”

Angela blushed. “But I had to mommy, Molly wouldn’t ask Santa for what she wants for herself, so I had to give him both our lists.”

Callie stopped walking and turned to her tiny cousin. “What do you mean, Molly wouldn’t ask?”

Molly tugged on Angela’s hand and shook her head. “You can’t tell or it won’t come true.”

Angela sighed, and whispered loudly, “You can’t tell but I think it’s okay if I tell.”

Molly hung her head. “You’ll ruin everything.”

Rose patted Molly’s head. “It’s okay Molly, you can have your secret. Of course, if you told your Aunt Rose, I could make sure Santa didn’t forget…”

Molly stared up into Rose’s eyes. Rose was only her cousin but because of the age difference, Molly carried on the family tradition of giving cousins of the previous generation the honorary title of aunt or uncle.

“Callie,” the ladies turned to see a handsome young man coming towards them. “It is Callie, isn’t it?” He asked.

Callie nodded. “Do I know you?”

Touching her hand, he turned her away from the girls and mouthed, “I’m Santa.”

Callie blushed. The man couldn’t be any older than she. Fit and handsome, he wasn’t the typical Santa. “Oh yes, how can I help you?”

“I was wondering if you had a moment.” He nodded to the coffee shop. “I’d like to talk to you.”

When Callie hesitated, Rose said, “I’ll take the girls to the bathroom and we’ll get a snack at the bakery.”

She didn’t wait for Callie to agree as she hustled the girls down the mall to the bathroom.

Callie asked, “What is this about?”

He smiled, his gentle green eyes full of warmth. She liked the way his whole face lit up when he smiled. “Come, let’s get some coffee.” He led her into the shop. “My name’s Jeremy Deans.”

She shook his offered hand. “Callie Davenport.”

They took their coffees to a table near the back of the café and he held out her chair. When they sat down, he said, “Molly’s worried.”

Callie nodded and stared into her coffee.

“She wants to stay here but she knows you don’t like taking charity from your cousin. “

She blushed and looked away. “My God, that girl…”

“My aunt owns this coffee shop. She’s looking for help. I know you don’t know me…”

“You’re right. I don’t know you and you don’t know me.” She started to rise.

Jeremy put his hand over hers briefly. “I’m a police officer in my regular life. I play Santa each year because I love kids. Molly’s only wish for Christmas was that you find a job here and a place to stay near her cousins.”

Callie wiped at her tears. There was little for her back in Texas, why not start over again here in North Carolina? Taking a deep breath, she said, “I’d like to meet your aunt.”

Jeremy waved over an older woman with kind green eyes just like his. “Aunt Ginny, this is Callie Davenport, she’d like to apply for a job.”


Callie said good bye to Jeremy and went in search of her daughter and cousins.  “You’ll never guess what just happened,” she said, smiling. “I have a job and a place of my own.” She told them about Jeremy and his aunt, leaving out the part about Jeremy being Santa. “She offered me an apartment, it’s over her garage but we’ll be out of your hair. It’s only a few blocks from your house.”

“I know Ginny and Jeremy. They go to our church. Oh, Callie, I’m so glad you’ll be staying. I’ve enjoyed having you and Molly here.” Rose hugged her. “You know you could have waited until after Christmas.”

“Luke’s family will be coming to visit and you need the room.” Callie hugged her. “This is better. We’ll still be together but just not under the same roof.”

The two little girls whispered together. “Santa is real. He didn’t even wait for Christmas to bring you your wish,” Angela said.

Molly nodded and hugged her cousin. “And we won’t be separated ever again.”

Callie and Rose wrapped the girls in a group hug. They were all getting their Christmas wishes early.

Posted in Book Review

Dorinda and the Doctor by Sabrina Jefferies

Sabrina Jefferies is an author I read to lift a blue mood. Her characters feel like family and dear friends, there is a sense of coming home after being on a long trip. This short story doesn’t fail to deliver. Her characters are strong and multi-layered, they are real with flaws and baggage and a longing to love and be loved. Dorinda’s view of herself mirrors what many women even today imagine as their worth. Ms. Jefferies makes me feel, empathize and care for these characters. She gave a complete story in a few short pages. Just a little appetizer as we await her next full course. If you love historical romances, especially Regency Era, then check out Sabrina Jefferies.

Her third novel in her ‘Duke’s Men’ Series “How a Scoundrel Seduces” will be out in August but you don’t have to wait, she has a lot of books you might love, my two favorites are the School for Heiresses series and The Hellion Series. After our home burned and we lost everything, we went to Walmart to buy underwear and socks and my husband took me to Books-a-million for a book to lift my spirits. I bought Sabrina Jefferies “The Truth About Lord Stoneville” the first in The Hellion Series. It took me out of my own tragedy for a little while and gave me some relief. I know there are people who poo-poo genre fiction and especially romantic fiction as not being serious fiction but this guilty pleasure has always given me something to think about, I have looked up historical and scientific information because of what I read in a romance. I have been entertained and enlightened. Where non-fiction and even some literary fiction may preach a point, romance shows us why we should love a flawed character or look a little deeper. I love romantic fiction and I am so thankful for the chance to meet some of the authors, like Ms. Jefferies of whom I am not only a fan of her work but also the person, she’s a great lady.