Home Schooling vs. Traditional Schooling…Yep, We’re Making the Change!

homeLast week, I posted this message on my Facebook page:

Over the last few weeks, my hubby and I made the decision to pull our youngest kids out if school and sign them up for home school. They just got accepted into the program this week. So after Christmas break, no more traditional education.

This morning I got an automated call from the middle school saying they have upgraded security. You can no longer walk into the building without announcing your presence by calling the number listed on the now locked front door. The building had already been locked down, only allowing access to the front office. At this moment, I couldn’t be any prouder with our decision!

To my surprise, thirty-one people liked it and many commented, sharing the fact that they too were home schooling their kids. I had no idea!!

My husband and I have toyed with the idea of home school off and on for the past five years. Then our oldest got accepted into a Fine Arts Magnet program for Orchestra when in the ninth grade. For four years he participated in the program and we watched what started out as a wonderful opportunity start to slowly go downhill as the county had issues with funding and teachers. At the beginning of his senior year, the amazing Orchestra teacher who had been a part of the program left just two weeks before the start of the school. For several months, the program was without a qualified teacher and my son, who had worked hand-in-hand with his teacher, stepped up to handle the class as much as he could until they found a replacement. But, it was never the same. He has since graduated and is now attending college to get his Bachelors Degree in Music. His goal: become a music teacher.

One of my daughters followed in his footsteps and joined the Fine Arts Magnet Program three years ago and is taking Art. Her skills are amazing and she has learned a lot. Now in the eleventh grade, she has only one year left before graduation.

My youngest children are in the sixth and seventh grade, one in a Fine Arts Magnet Middle school for Art, the other attends the local middle school. School has been in session for five months, and we are not satisfied with what our kids are learning or how the teachers are handling our children’s education. After listening to my kids, it seems more time is spent on handling class disruptions than education. The teachers are stretched thin, underpaid, and expected to stay on track with the curriculum. When a student doesn’t understand something, chances are they may or may not get a chance to ask questions and fail assignments because the teacher does not have time to go back over it. Yep, pretty sure a lot of parents have heard this story. So what happens? Your child is frustrated because they fail an assignment, their confidence is destroyed, and it’s harder to encourage them to see the value of their education.

Add the issues of bullying, disrespectful children back talking to teachers, threats of violence, and drugs…

Ask your child what they leaned today and the most you get is a story about yet another fight in class or the fact someone has on the latest Jorden’s and you have to wonder, what are you sending them to school for???

This year, my husband started a concerted effort to learn more about home schooling process. After several phone calls, emails, and online chats with the program coordinators with the Georgia Cyber Academy, we made the decision to sign up our youngest children for the program. Imagine our happiness when we got the approval email saying they were accepted! They have only one week left in traditional school. After Christmas break, they will be learning from home!

The whole concept of the Georgia Cyber Academy is new for me and is going to be as much of a learning experience for me and my husband as it will be for the kids. Here are a few of the preconceived notions I had in the beginning and what I’ve learned so for:

MYTH: You have to have a background in education in order to teach your kids from home.

False! The online programs are set up so that your children receive assignments and take their classes at home, on the computer. They have teachers assigned to assist them. They have scheduled online, real-time class participation with their teacher. If they have questions, they can call, email, or chat with their teacher directly at any time. Learning is more one-on-one than having your student get lost in a sea of 30 plus kids in a classroom. If your child has a learning disability, they have Special Education teachers who will work with you weekly, ensuring your children’s continued growth and education. Entrance exams are given which enable the teacher to develop a system of learning specific to your children’s learning abilities. So whether you child is gifted or needs a little more help, it’s all about them!

MYTH: As a parent, it’s your responsibility to sit and hold your students hand all day while they work in class.

FALSE! Yes, some of your time will be involved, but you will not have to hold their hands. As a Learning Coach, your job is to prep your students for their daily assignments, assist them as they need help, and from time to time, assist them in certain assignments (such as science experiments, etc.) With the higher grades (middle school and high school), and especially if your children are proficient with the basics of using a computer, you don’t have to sit holding their hands throughout each assignment. You are responsible for keeping track of the time it takes to complete an assignment and enter this information as part of their attendance record. There are parent/teacher conferences, Parent Support Meetings with other parents, and the ability to connect directly with the teacher if you need help explaining something to your child.

MYTH: My kids won’t have any friends.

FALSE! The home school community has plenty of programs, clubs, and activities that allow the students, and parents, to connect online and in person. Field trips, parties, and other activities are designed for not only the student, but the parents as well. It’s like a whole new hidden world!

MYTH: They won’t graduate.

FALSE! Home school students must still take the same standardized tests as children do in school, including the Graduation Test, and yes, there is a graduation. (Not sure off the details of the graduation, but I read about it. LOL, with a sixth and seventh grader, I’ve got a ways to go before we get there!)

And last but not least:

MYTH: I can’t afford to pay for the program.

FALSE! The program we are participating in, the Georgia Cyber Academy, is F-R-E-E!!!!!! They will be providing all of the equipment, books, even a computer and printer needed in order to get online.

So, 2014 is going to be an interesting year for my family. Did I mention we gave our kids the option of doing school online versus staying in school? When they found out the difference in the education (online interactive learning vs. standard textbook), the fact that they will have more one-on-one learning opportunities and be able to work at their own pace, they jumped on board! No coercion, no special promises or begging. My oldest, which has one year left before graduation, opted to stay in school and she has our continued support. You can believe there will be blogs coming out of this experience!

So, what about you? If you’ve had experiences with teaching your kids at home, I’d LOVE to hear them!

 

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MJ

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Music to Fuel the Muse…

Nearly every author uses music when they write. Some use it to drown out the noise of life around them, while others use certain songs to inspire emotion and action in a scene. Numerous songs have found their way into book titles and inspired  entire novels.

Music is a part of my family, a part of my life, and has defiantly found its way into my writing.

Both of my sons have had a love of music since the day they were born. My oldest, who graduates high school next week, (and I am proud to say he will be starting college in the fall to get his Bachelors in Music), has played in the Orchestra since he was in sixth grade. Over the years he’s learned to play, and mastered,  the Bass, and the bass guitar. He also plays the acoustic guitar and keyboard. My youngest son, who is completing his first year in middle school, has taken the path of percussion. Part of me is dreading the day we buy a full set of drums! But like watching my oldest son mature as a musician, watching his younger brother do the same will be a joy!

My husband is a recording engineer and music producer. His studio is in our home and located across the house from my office. Over the years I’ve watched numerous talented artist – from rappers, singers, poets, lyricist, and musicians – cross my doorway. They have eaten with my family, and crashed on my couch.  (Visit this link to hear some of the music he’s produced and artist he’s worked with.) One of my favorite songs he has produced is Off The Chain performed by Immo Stax. If you love Rap/Hip Hop, you have to check this one out!

Now, with each new artist comes a story and inspiration for some of my characters.  Brian Young of A Heart Not Easily Broken, is one to be exact.

In my latest novel, Jaded, neither character is a musician, yet the entire story was inspired by one song. Love Calls by Kem.

While the story has the premise of friends who choose to sleep together and a relationship that leads to more, Jaded is NOT your typical friends-turned-lovers story. The story doesn’t end with the moment they decide to sleep together….that is the moment the story truly begins.

Love Calls found it’s way into my writing not only as the  theme song, but as the defining moment, catalyst if you will, of two people letting their guard down long enough to realize there could indeed be more to their relationship. Watch the video and read this excerpt….and let yourself get lost in the song and dance….

Excerpt:

Our slow circuit brought us near the open doors leading inside where the reception was in full swing.  We watched the party goers enjoy the music. A popular song involving a complicated two-step routine had the older couples on the dance floor while younger ones moved aside to clap and cheer.

“I never have been able to do that dance,” I commented.

“It’s not difficult. I can teach you if you want.”

I smirked.

“What? My mom taught me.”

This time I laughed. “Why does that not surprise me?”

He extended a hand. “Come on, I’ll show you.”

I studied his palm, then his eyes. “Why the hell not?” I shrugged out of his jacket, setting it neatly on an empty patio chair.

Zack wasted no time walking me through the steps. Within minutes, he had me twirling and laughing. I was impressed. Not only was the man a good teacher, he had some good moves. Two songs later, we were laughing like children.

What would I have done if he hadn’t come tonight?

As promised, he’d done his part in distracting me from dwelling on the depressing aspects of my life.

All too soon, a slow song played, giving the couples a break. Both of my hands were in his when I released my hold.

Zack didn’t. I looked at our hands, then up into his eyes. The deep hazel irises darkened as his gaze went from fun to something else.

“We should sit down,” I managed, trying to convince myself the increased heartbeat was a result of dancing.

“I disagree.” He released one of my hands and slipped a hand around my waist instead.

It was impossible to escape the sensual smell of his cologne up close and personal mixed with the musk of flesh damp from dancing. A rush of desire covered me from head to toe.

“What are you afraid of?” he challenged.

Um, being this close? Wanting him? Falling for him?

“Nothing.” I put as much steel in my voice as I could muster. Liar, liar…

Zack pulled me close, taking control, moving our bodies as one. His gaze never left mine. It was as if we were the only two people listening to the music. The clinks of glasses, short bursts of laughter, the sound of children running around the room, were inconsequential.

I became a slave to the sultry sound of a bass guitar, the hypnotic rhythm of drums, and melodic voice of the singer. Zack assumed full control of my body as he guided us in a seductive sway.

Okay, I was used to the strength of a man’s arms and feel of firm muscles pressed against me. I could handle the ripples of desire running through me, making my knees weak.

What I could not ignore was the heat from his gaze as it explored my mouth, the warmth of his breath against my cheek, or the gentle slide of fingers along my waist as he enveloped me in his arms.

To make matters worse, the lyrics of the song hit every nerve. They spoke of ignoring the pain of past relationships and accepting love again.

I closed my eyes in an attempt to find pieces of the wall I had built around my heart. It was impossible; Zack had chiseled them away in the short time we’d known each other. The pain plaguing me from past relationships was easily forgotten while in his arms.

“Yasmine…” His whisper was husky, the laughter from earlier gone. “Look at me.”

I did.

Never had a man’s gaze pulled me in this hard. Desire replaced reasoning, a feeling so strong it could not be ignored. How did this happen? Was it the theme of the day, the alcohol consumed, or the fact this man seemed to have eyes only for me?

Zack gazed hungrily at my mouth and licked his lips.

Panic built inside. This could not be happening. I couldn’t ignore the fact I wanted it, maybe even needed it to happen.

“Yasmine…”

My lips parted of their own volition as Zack lowered his mouth to mine.

The moment our lips connected, the world stood still. Breathing ceased as desire exploded inside of me, drawing me deep into forbidden territory.

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Buy a copy of the  5 Star Reviewed JADED today to find out!

Autumn landscape

A devastating breakup leaves Yasmine Phillips in shambles. Unable to trust another man with her heart, she focuses on the one thing she can control—starting her own business.

When her computer crashes, taking months of hard work with it, she must rely on computer genius Zachariah Givens to save her. A complete opposite of men from her past, she doesn’t expect the passion that ensues. But just as she finds happiness, she learns the truth about the other women in Zachariah’s life.

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New to The Butterfly Memoirs Series? Catch up with A Heart Not Easily Broken (Book One of The Butterfly Memoirs)

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

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Support and Sacrifice in a Relationship: When Dreams Are Not Your Own

(This was originally posted on The Butterfly Memoirs Blog on 8/7/12)

I found this article the other day and had to share: (for the full article, click the link below)

‘One of the key components of a relationship is the support that two people provide for each other, yet it is typically one of the most overlooked aspects of choosing the perfect mate. A relationship that is built upon mutual support will overcome just about any obstacles that two individuals encounter along the way.

Lack of support in a relationship can surface in many ways. It can be something as simple as a failure to be sympathetic when a mate has had a bad day at work, to the major support that is required when embarking on a new business endeavor or during life changing events. 

Support can take on many forms, but in the broadest sense, it is the willingness of two people in a relationship to lift and encourage each other to be the best that they can be. It is also the willingness for each of the individuals to be there for each other through both good and bad times.’ (For the rest of this article, visit WorldVilliage)

Looks. Personality. Goals. Sexual Attraction. All are important during the beginning stages of a relationship.

Over time, personalities clash, good looks fade, and the intense sexual attraction experienced in the beginning can simmer.

In A Heart Not Easily Broken, finding a supportive relationship is one of the key things that aids Ebony’s decision to ignore the color of Brian’s skin and focus on building a relationship.

“He’s persistent, that’s for sure. He kept after me even when I told him no. And he is a hard worker, not a slacker at all. He doesn’t use his love of music as an excuse not to work in the meantime. He’s very realistic about what he wants and is supportive of my dreams. That’s what I love most about him.”– Ebony Campbell when talking about her boyfriend, Brian Young.

It is because of this supportive and loving relationship, the two of them are able to make it through the tough trial they face.

So, do you support your significant other?

Do you go out of your way to help them reach their dreams? How important is it to you that your mate support your life goals? Be it a new job, a life changing career, or the decision to move away from their family and closer to yours. How important is it to you that you have their support in return?

MJ
 


#8Sunday-A Heart Not Easily Broken- Healing

Sometimes you never know what you’ve been missing until it comes back to you…

Excerpt:

“God, Ebony… I love you.” He gripped me tighter and pushed up to give me everything he had.

When I came, there were tears in my eyes. He followed right behind me, his eyes focused on me.

This is what had been missing. My physical healing had been over long ago. Maybe now my emotional healing could begin.

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What Makes a Woman Independent?

(This was originally posted on The Butterfly Memoirs Blog on 5/1/12)
Independence. It’s something everyone, male or female,  yearn for as a child, even more so when they reach their teens. High school graduates are anxious to move out of their parent’s homes and spread their metaphorical ‘wings’ as they break free of their cocoons. No longer larva, or caterpillars, they are now butterflies. The word independent has various meanings, twenty, according to dictionary.com. Yet, when it comes to the sexes, independence is a word with both positive and negative connotations, especially for women. Let’s explore a few of those meanings.in*de*pend*ent (adjective)1. not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.; thinking or acting for oneself: an independent thinkerPretty self-explanatory, it could go for both men and women. This is the level teens strive for when separating themselves from their parents.

2. not subject to another’s authority or jurisdiction; autonomous; free: an independent businessman 

If your self-employed, you have this mindset; you have to in order to make ends meet.

3. not relying on another or others for aid or support

This could go either way, male or female, depending on whether or not they are financially able to take care of themselves without combining their income with others (roommates; renting a room)  in order to make ends meet.

4.rejecting others aid or support; refusing to be under obligation to others

Again, this could also be a male or female. This way of thinking is about  pride not allowing them to do otherwise. Even if that means running up every credit card, or worse, becoming enraged when others offer them assistance.

5. expressive of a spirit of independence; self-confident; unconstrained: a free and independent citizen

This one, in my opinion, would be where most independent women, (those who feel there is no need for a man in their life or significant other), tend to fall.

Is this type of independence the kind every woman dreams of? Is it what they truly want out of life? Or do they feel or act that way because of what life has thrown at them? Are the daily challenges they face forcing them to take on that mentality in order to survive?

Does a woman really want complete independent from romantic attachments for the rest of her life?

That is one of the questions asked throughout the The Butterfly Memoirs Series.

In the first novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, we meet Ebony Campbell.  She is smart, independent, and focused on reaching her goal. Since graduating high school, she has made it her life ambition to get her degree of Doctor of Veterinarian Medicine so she can get her dream job of becoming a veterinarian at the Los Angeles Zoo.  For seven years, she hasn’t allowed a relationship to distract her.

In Ebony’s Words:

“I don’t have time to get into a real relationship right now.  Finishing this last year of college is my focus. I’ve got to get that veterinarian job at the zoo, I’ve worked too hard to mess up now. Besides, I don’t need a man to take care of me. Financially. Having a nice body to lie against is a different story.”-Ebony

With that mentality, would it be possible for her to abandon that way of thinking  if the right man came along? What would he have to say or do to make her feel differently?  Buy a copy of A Heart Not Easily Broken in order to find out.  But I must say,  this is NOT your typical  romance! Life, love, tragedy, and triumph are the subject matters of my novels. But despite it all, there is a happy ending along with life lessons learned.

This  one is for all my independent ladies…Independent, by  Destiny’s Child. When you done singing and shaking your grove thing, be sure to leave a comment!

     

 

Here’s some food for thought…..
“A woman does not need a man to feel complete. Neither does she need to be single to be independent.” ~Mariluz Lozada
So, are you and independent woman? 
MJ


Finding Inspiration: Part Three- Characters Close to Home

Building Real Characters: How to Bring Them From the Page and Into Your HeartWriters find inspiration anywhere; at the grocery store, the bank, even the activities of driver sitting next to you at the red light, can get the muse flowing. Then of course there are my favorites: family and friends.

If you have a Facebook account, I’m sure you have seen the pictures posted by someone at least once a month that says: (in a nutshell): BEWARE, I’M A WRITER, ANYTHING YOU SAY CAN AND WILL BE USED IN MY NEXT BOOK.  I was at the bank the other day and had a lively conversation with my banker. Upon completion of my transaction, she asked me, ‘is this going to be in one of your stories?’ I laughed and said quite possibly.

It seems no matter how hard I try; my Muse is always working, always observing and cataloging the statements and actions of others, especially when it comes to my kids.

In the last few weeks, my children have shocked me with their ‘Remember when…’ tales. Being an only child, it never ceases to amaze me what  my four kids get into when they are unsupervised in their bedrooms. First, there was the ‘broken-glow-in-the-dark-stick incident’ that led to fluorescent yellow liquid being splashed over bedroom walls. (According to them, it wore off withing minutes, thus leading to doing it again in order to illuminate the room.  No evidence was left behind. Imagine my horror!!!) Of course a lot of sibling smacks upside the head, and then the sneaking to cut hair or trim their eyebrows disasters that ended with bad results. (Those I knew about, but it still makes me laugh to remember the results.) Funny stories that made my eyebrows shoot into the hemisphere and start to give the ‘you know better’ speech. But then I realized the issues happened months, even years ago. What’s the point?  All that’s left is ‘don’t do it again.’

Once the kids go about their evening activities, my Muse sorts through the information, while not inspiration for my adult characters’ lives, they make great character back story.

***Back Story: Insight into the protagonist nature or history through reflective flashbacks, scenes, or dialogue. This information is used to show how a character will react to certain situations.***

There are various ways to use back story.  Some authors like to use flashback during a scene or as a scene to show an incident that explains the reason for their character’s actions during the course of a story. (Think about the show LOST, whose episodes focused on the back story of a character’s life, decisions, made, and how they related to the present situation). In novels, the most common use is having a character allude to their past through dialogue, thought, or peppered in by the omnipotent voice. (Dialogue is the best way to share this information without slowing down your prose and boring a reader.)

How do you know what your characters back story will be?

By writing character outlines.

If you have  followed my blog, you know a large portion of my writing begins with focusing on deep character development. I love writing characters my readers can relate to either through their own personal experiences or someone they know. Creating well-developed back story can do that. Knowing where your characters have been, what experiences have affected them – good and bad – will give your characters a strong voice that makes them stand out.

Even if it starts from when they were kids.

In a nutshell, a well-developed back story lets you know your characters. Knowing and understanding your characters will explain their motivations. Motivations are what set up a plot. Reactions to plot twists/turns are what provide scenes. Scenes mixed with reactions are what create drama.

Whew!  Sounds like a lot of work, right? It is, but as with all things in life, you get what you put in. Taking the time to sit down and understand your characters will show in your writing. It will help you understand why they interrupt your writing, and no matter how much you want the story to go one way, they hijack your manuscript.

For more on writing character outlines and finding writing inspiration, visit my previous posts:

M.J.’s on Writing- Helpful Advice for Aspiring Authors

MJ

#8Sunday- A Heart Not Easily Broken- Changes

Events in Ebony Campbell’s life have lead to drastic changes in her daily activities. No matter how much she tries to hide it, those close to her know something is up. Sometimes a  secret isn’t as hidden as you think…

Excerpt: 

Brian was right, Ebony had changed. Her hard work and dedication to her job were nothing new. But once he left, she started working harder than usual.

She ate, slept, worked, and talked to him when she could. But when it came to Kaitlin and me…

I could understand why she avoided us. After all, we were spending time with our boyfriends while she waited by the phone. And the three months without sex thing…damn.

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Interview with Raine Delight!

Today I welcome  author Raine Delight. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to her via Facebook and the fact that she writes for two different types of Romance  is very interesting!  Grab that cup of coffee and take a moment to meet her!

Red Hot Magic Cover

Welcome, Raine!


What inspired you to write?

Actually it was reading one too many books that had too stupid to live heroines and heroes who made me want to scream. An author friend dared me to write something better and after a few tries I got my first book, Sticky Magic, as well as my first series set up.

What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

I write Paranormal Contemporary, either M/F or M/M, depending on the how my characters want to go. I love paranormal, contemporary stories and felt right at home with them.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I work from home so I have a bit of a flexible schedule. I normally write during the day when kids are at school and sometimes after they are in bed depending on if the story really gets its grip in me.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I like having green tea and skittles nearby if I need a break and I need music for background noise. Sometimes the music even makes it into the story. J

Are you a pantser or plotter?

I am a pantser all the way. I tried an outline once…my muse laughed his fool head off and proceeded to take the story in a completely other direction. Let’s just say outlines and myself are not good bedfellows. J

Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share and example?

It all depends…sometimes I draw from experiences in a bakery I used to work at like I did in my latest story, Moonlight Masquerade found in the On Valentine’s Day Anthology or other jobs but otherwise it is all make believe.

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Write every day or whenever you can. Read whatever genre you want to read. Talk to other authors, let yourself learn as you write your books and eventually things do stick in your head when you write. J

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

RD: I am published through Secret Cravings. I have six books there right now and plan to send in three more to them this year and I also am involved in two anthologies a bunch of us got together and self-published. Both anthologies I am in, Hot Summer Fun & On Valentine’s Day were both best sellers at All Romance Ebookstore and on Amazon Kindle. I also have another story I am getting ready to self-publish called Second Chance at Love on my own.

What are your current projects?

I am promoting my story Moonlight Masquerade, now out in the On Valentine’s Day Anthology then I am getting into my next Devon Falls story, Mistletoe & Magic (Paranormal M/M) and I am eager to get to my space pirates finished and sent out for submission.

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Valentine Anthology Cover

Mysterious roses keep popping up on Skylar Everclear’s doorstep. No idea what is going, a little disturbed by this secret admirer, he tries to forget it all since he just got rid of the latest line of loser boyfriends and just wants to do his job at the local bakery. But when he meets his new neighbor, Marc Douglas, he finds himself drawn to the quiet young man even as he tries to not let his libido take over. But on Valentine’s Day, a mysterious rose again pops up with a note to meet his admirer that night. Will Skylar take a chance that this time, love is right there waiting for him?

Excerpt:

Skylar opened his door and groaned. Another damn rose was lying on his doormat. It ticked him off that he had no idea who was doing this but every freaking night this week he either came home to a rose on his porch or opened the door to it. It was enough to feel creeped out now. He looked around, seeing no one, shut the door with a soft click and leaned against the door in despair. It has been three months since he threw out his lover, Saul, after catching him fucking some other guy after one of the numerous block parties the neighborhood held in the summer and autumn months and frankly he didn’t know what to do anymore. All he did was work, sleep and work some more. He always seemed to pick those guys who are bound to break his heart.

“I must have ‘Loser’ tattooed on my forehead the last few years.” Skylar muttered to himself.  “Why can’t I find a nice guy for once? One who won’t lie, cheat or steal and break my heart by telling me I wasn’t good enough for them.” Sighing, Skylar grabbed his backpack, keys and cell phone as he hurried to get ready for work. As a baker in the local bakery, his day started earlier than many others. With Valentine’s around the corner, he was working longer than normal hours. He was in the bakery at 4 am and not coming home till almost five at night. It made for long hellish days but he enjoyed what he did. Plus he enjoyed seeing the people enjoy his desserts and hey, the paycheck after days like this made a nice chunk of change in his bank account. His mind on what items he needed to get done for the next few days, he opened then shut his door, locked it and made sure to pick up the rose before he stepped all over it, crushing the fragile blooms. As he turned and walked to his car, he wondered who his mysterious admirer was.

Skylar’s day got off to a good start at work as he hummed a long with a local radio station playing 80’s rock bands while he rolled out dough for cookies, breads and made delicate fruit pastries. He was finally able to take a quick break around noon when the front sales person, Marlene, poked her head in the doorway saying they needed more pastry hearts. Seemed everyone was buying those desserts for their significant other, or ordering the smaller ones for class or office parties. He sighed as the fleeting dream of getting off his feet for ten minutes went on by as he got to work making more goodies. By the time five o’clock hit, Skylar was exhausted but pleased. They sold out of many of the Valentine themed items and the specialty breads were also almost gone. He made a note on the dry-erase board what needed to be replaced tomorrow and clocked out, waving to the front sales people as he went through the door to the parking lot.

Shivering as he hurried to his car, Skylar fumbled with his keys before unlocking the door and sliding into the seat. Turning the heat up on high, he waited a bit before putting his car in drive to go home. All he wanted to do was grab a shower, order a pizza and veg in front of the television. He was so exhausted it wasn’t funny. Watching couples come into the bakery or men buying items for their partners/girlfriends was a downer to be sure. He never liked Valentine’s Day to begin with. He felt it was a holiday that Hallmark cards liked so they could guilt people into buying cheesy cards and florist could raise the prices of roses so high it was mind boggling. He never had a nice Valentine’s Day where a lover surprised him with dinner or gave him something romantic or funny or sweet. He was always alone on Valentine’s day and he tried to make sure he didn’t have to deal with people who were so sugary sweet they made his teeth ache. Finally feeling the car heat up, he drove off determined to not think of hearts, flowers and all the things associated to Valentine’s Day. It was for couples, people in love and not for him.

####

 

 

Book Review: When Noonday Ends by Carmen DeSousa

When Noonday Ends coverFor all of you Carmen DeSousa fans who have read Land of the Noonday Sun, you’ve already meet and fallen in love with one of the supporting characters, Tom Turner, the best friend of Chad Wilkinson. As you know, Tom was not left in a happy place.  Per fan request , Carmen wrote another novel, just for him, and the fans!

In Land of the Noonday Sun, readers we meet several secondary characters that leave you guessing as to ‘whodunit’.  The writing is so masterful that it’s hard to decide who’s the real bad guy. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, some plot twist pops up sending you in another direction, or the character you thought was the bad guy ends up being saving the day. In this case, that was Tom (okay, that was a mini spoiler, but believe me, there’s enough unmentioned characters to keep you guessing!). Saving the day left him with a broken heart and alone. Not to mention a memory that will haunt him for the rest of his life.

Which brings us to When Noonday Ends, the second book in the Nantahala Series.

Tom Turner is an attorney just out of law school and in the process of getting his feet wet. He doesn’t have a long list of winning major cases under his belt, and quite frankly, would rather be doing something else than be an attorney. But as most of us have done in our lives, we follow the dreams our parents set before us and  look longingly at the job or dream that would make us happy. For Tom, it’s getting back to nature and doing the one thing he did as a college student in the summer: be a white water rafting guide at his best friend, Chad’s business, or better yet, hike the Appalachian Trail. Anything to get away from the memory that haunts him.

Who knew the opportunity to escape his life and find love with come with representing a beautiful woman who’s charged with attempted murder?

Weird, huh?

Once again, Carmen has written a story filled with colorful characters mixed with a beautiful back drop marred only by murder, mystery, longing, desperate decisions, and family secrets. If you love suspense, romance, and happy endings a character has to work for, pick up a copy today. You’ll be glad you did!

My rating: *****

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense

Heat Level: ***(Just enough to get the heart racing and stir your imagination!)

Violence: PG

*** SPOILER ALERT!!! If you haven’t read Land of the Noonday Sun, you may want to stop here, buy it, then come back. You have been warned! *insert evil laugh here… 🙂 ***

Prologue

Sitting at the rear of the courtroom, Tom Turner’s mind wandered. One person after another approached the judge, claiming their innocence. He hated doing this, but the law firm where he worked required all new attorneys to accept hardship cases. To get your feet wet, they’d said.

Like his father before him, he’d chosen a career as an attorney. And for once in his life, his parents were actually proud of him.

Still, most attorneys spent their days off golfing. He couldn’t stand golf, but he’d give anything to be kayaking right now. Often he thought of changing careers, as his best friend Chad had done. He had thrown away four years of medical school to manage an outdoor store he’d inherited from his parents. Tom had always thought that it had been a stupid decision, but now he wondered. His best friend was married to a beautiful woman, had a son, and could kayak every day if he wanted.

What Tom really wanted was to take a few months off from life and hike the Appalachian Trail. After the year he’d had, he needed some time away from life—all life. But then, his parents would be disappointed, and he’d miss his niece, Samantha. His sister had been one of the wildest women he’d ever known. But since she’d had Sam, she’d finally settled down and was trying to be a good mother. Being a single mother wasn’t easy, and Michelle needed him. If only to give her at least one night a week to unwind.

Tom threw his head back and closed his eyes. Just the smell of the courthouse was grating on him today. The oil they’d used on the old wooden floors was giving him a migraine.

“No contest, Your Honor.” A soft country voice roused him from his brooding.

Tom forced his eyes to focus on the woman standing in front of the judge. It couldn’t be. The smooth blond hair, that beautiful country voice. Brandy? He shook his head to clear it. Brandy was dead; he’d shot her more than a year ago.

####

Yep, you read that right, he killed someone!!! To find out what happened, read Land of the Noonday Sun. If you’d rather get straight to Tom,  buy When Noonday Ends.  But I tell you, both stories go hand in hand. Happy reading!!!

Now available in print and eBook formats:

 

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Amazon UK

3 Books

***For more information about When Noonday Ends, Land of the Noonday Sun, and other books bestselling books by Carmen DeSousa, visit her blog!***

New Release by Carmen DeSousa!

While Carmen does not write “Christian” books, she does share her characters’ Christian beliefs. Her characters are real people who come with real flaws; no perfect people allowed.

 She characterizes her stories as modern-day fairytales, as they are overflowing with romance, mystery, suspense, and of course, tragedy. After all, what would a fairytale be without a tragic event setting the stage? All of her novels are sensual, but not erotic, gripping but not graphic and will hopefully make you cry, laugh, love, and hope.

Her first two novels, She Belongs to Me and Land of the Noonday Sun, have reached bestseller status right alongside Nicholas Sparks, J.D. Robb, and other great authors. Her third novel, Entangled Dreams, is now available.

All of her novels are standalones; however, she does link each of her stories with a little surprise. If you read out of order, you’ll never notice. But if you read in order, it’s fun.

Carmen loves talking about all things books, so please connect with her via one of the links below.

Website

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Goodreads

Guest Post: Sara Barnard- A Heart Broken

Every marriage faces trials and tribulations, but perhaps none more than military families – those of yesterday as much as those of today. We are a military family, so just like in A Heart on Hold, most of this book is written from experience, as well. Whenever duty calls and the time comes to part, it is only natural to attempt to make the parting as picture-perfect as possible. Unfortunately, life usually disagrees and one or both spouses are left with a bad taste in their mouths after a sour goodbye. Instead of having a sweet, passionate send-off to remember during the duration of the absence, all they have to hold on to and reflect on is the vows they promised, the love they had, and faith. Faith in God, faith in their marriage, and faith in each other. This premise is the cornerstone of A Heart Broken. Even when couples survive insurmountable odds (as in A Heart on Hold) and appear to come out stronger, the tests to their love and their commitment continue and are bought on not by outside forces, but by themselves.

A Heart on Hold started the series off out during the Civil War years and in A Heart Broken, we are taken in the aftermath of uncertainty that followed the War. The following two books in the series, A Heart at Home and A Heart Forever Wild, will take us up through my favorite era in American History – the Old West – where Charlotte and Sanderson will rub shoulders with some of the people who made the Old West what it was: wild.

Interview with Sara Barnard!The war is over, Sanderson is home, and life is good – until the Army comes knocking. They have charged him with the murder of his former captor, Lieutenant Lantz. With the help of Jerry Thomas, Sanderson must track down and kill the notorious outlaw William “Bloody Bill” Quantrill- or hang for murder while Charlotte is left to endure a rash of hydrophobia that threatens the countryside- her Sanderson included.

BUY your copy today!!!

Sara Barnard pic 2

Sara Barnard, author of the historical fiction series, An Everlasting Heart, has been reading children’s books her whole life. First, she read then as a child then she read them to her four beautiful children! Sara has her Bachelor’s degree in history, has had her work included in numerous anthologies, and has written several other books to date. Sara and her family make their home in the historic hills of Oklahoma along with their three dogs, three cats, and eight chickens.

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