Woot. We are on USAToday for our boxed collection: Simply The Best ~ International Digital Award Winners

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mental Can Openers & Writer's Hash: A Mugging on Market Street

 This month, Brad Leach brings us his musing via a story: 
A Mugging on Market Street.
And yeah, I read it more than once. Wowzer. 
      Dreams.  They get lost, get hurt.  When they do, I step in.  I’m a dream private-eye.
      It was all clouds and snow when the old fellow slipped into my office and perched on the chair’s edge with all the confidence of a Swiss candlemaker at Edison’s lightbulb convention.  He dripped.  Claimed he was a writer.  Looked more like a ‘wanna be’, but his money’s green so I listened.
      Fresh from Nine-to-fiveville, he was eager to settle in Write-now City.  He dreamed of being the next Tolkien or Lewis, yada, yada, yada.  I’ve heard the story.
      He said things started out well.  Found a girl called Musie, a slot in a brownstone, a keyboard.  Claimed six months in, his dream got mugged.  I pressed for details.
      He didn’t know much.  Musie said some agent dragged his dream to a platform and caught a blog-train.  Said all dreams have to go down to Market and Madison Avenue.  It never came back.  He eventually found it registered in the intensive care ward, down at General.  Wanted me to find out what happened.  I already had a pretty good idea.
           I caught a cab down to Madison.  Big lights, big boards, big promises.  Just the place to sap some wide-eyed dream, hoping to be discovered, blinded by the neon covers and movie deals. 
      I walked the couple of blocks up to Market.  Rough crowd here.  These were hard men chasing harder dollars.  Even as I watched, a couple of naive dreams floated in.  Hungry eyes labeled them as marks.  I entered a sunken parlor called Write-a-Blockbuster.  I figured it was the sort of place a writing dream would haunt.
      It was crowded.  Every seat and stool taken, with plenty standing around, hoping.  All of them clutched papers.  A few harried agents moved drinks around, tossing a few elbows when the unwary didn’t make an aisle.  I muscled over to the bar and asked the big fellow behind it if he’d seen the old guy’s dream. 
      He nodded. “I see ‘em all, pal.  They’re all precious, all special.” He chuckled.  “’Round here, special means standard.”  He waved me over to a booth where my first suspects sat.
      I sat down across from Mr. Book, next to Joe Conference.  Book sported the literary look; open collar, the cardigan, a pipe.  Conference had the shark-skin suit.  Book grinned, admitting they’d met Dream. 
      “Yeah, I took him, so what?  He needed books, I sold him books.  Software, subscriptions, contests.”  I glared at him. “Hey, the writer’s golden age is over.  So is the silver for that matter.”  He fidgeted.  “I gotta live, too.”
      Then Joe Conference nudged me.  “He was good fer a few conferences.  Dose types always are.  Dey come in flush with cash, figurin’ ta buy a introduction into publishin’ whit a review and a conference ors two.”
      Sliding out from the booth, I next caught a fellow named Mr. Traditional, finishing pork rinds and a beer.  He’d promised Dream he’d get the book published.  All Dream had to do was research it, write it, change it, edit it, proof it, market it, video it, distribute it, and sell it.  Traditional even offered Dream a whole dime out of every dollar made!  I frowned.
      “He don’t like it?  Let him print it!  I got mouths to feed and this place is shrinking.  There’s hundreds beating on the door.”  I flexed fingers and reminded this “gentleman” rinds weren’t his only meal option.  He gulped, then pointed down a dim hall.
      Dream had gone through the back door labeled E-PUB.  I stepped up and a big gal dressed like an Amazon opened the door, and shoved me in.
      Dreams were jammed in.  Literally millions.  No gravity, they looked like a fog of ghosts.  They were tearing each other, mauling each other.  Scratching towards a vanishing portal labeled “Success.”  Young dreams, old dreams, dead dreams.  Some had books.  Some had none.  I was buffeted, sapped, and shoved back out. 
       On my way back up town, I swung by General.  I promised the nurse that if I could talk to Dream now, we’d do more than talk later.  She smiled.  I smiled.
      I slipped into the room. He looked like a skinned, bruised potato, hooked to an IV. 
      “There were dreams in there,” he said.  “Many dying.  Many better than me.  I couldn’t get across the room.  Some were giving books away!  No one was making it.”  He rubbed his arm.  “This race is hard when you’re late to the line.  I couldn’t keep up.”
      I nodded.  “It’s tough out there, Dream.  Especially when you’re older.  Go home!”
      “I can’t... tell him.  His book is his lotto ticket.  He’s hoping....”
      “I’ll tell him.”  I closed the door.
       I gave the old fellow both barrels, straight.  He took it, nodded, turned to go.  As he made the door, he looked back.  “I have to write you know.  It’s the only thing I’m any good at.” 
      I nodded.  You and two million other retirees, I was tempted to add.  But I didn’t.  He knew.  But he has to try.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Author Spotlight Featuring Marianne Rice & Her New Book, Staying Grounded

Today I have the joy of featuring Marianne Rice and her latest book, Staying Grounded. Wait until you read about her moving across country four, yes four times.  She now lives in one of my favorites spots in the country.....

Thank you for having me on your blog today, L.A., and hello to all you lovely readers! For those of you who aren’t familiar with my work, I write small town contemporary romances. Why? I’m not sure. I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to New Hampshire in elementary school. Then back to L.A. in junior high, and back to New Hampshire my sophomore year in high school. My heart was always in New England, though, and when my family moved back to L.A. AGAIN, I stayed put. At the time, I was in college at the University of Maine, madly in love with the middle linebacker on the football team. Since he was from southern Maine, I wasn’t going anywhere.

He had the stability of growing up in a small town, while I was the nomad city girl. I told him I wanted to build a house and never move again. And we did. Twentyish years and three children later…

I like to write stories about towns I wish I grew up in. Many are modeled after places we’ve visited in New England. Read closely and maybe you’ll figure out where Rocky Harbor would be if it were a real town.

Graham turned his chair around and straddled it, resting his arms across the top, grinning. He should have looked foolish between the mischief in his eyes and the boyish way he sat. Instead he charmed and captivated her.
“What’s going on?” Needing a distraction, she picked up her cup and slowly sipped her coffee.
“Will you give me a few hours this morning?”
“To do what?”
He quirked his eyebrow and lowered his baby blues to her lips. Yeah, she’d need a change of underwear soon. “I want to show you something.”
Maggie choked on her coffee, imagining all the wonderful things he could—he had—shown her.
“No, not that. However…if that’s what you want…”
“Graham,” she warned.
“I like it. Much better than that Mr. Riley crap. Two hours. That’s all I ask. And no, not for that. For that I’d need all night.”


Graham Riley enjoys the laid-back freedom of a pilot’s life—until one choice puts his career in jeopardy…

Graham loves his job—it allows him to escape his troubled past and the stigma of being a murderer’s son. But after an altercation with a drunk passenger is posted on social media, he's forced to go on administrative leave until his name can be cleared. To get his wings back, he must attend anger management classes, and to avoid the media frenzy near his home base in Texas, he heads to Rocky Harbor, Maine. 

Responsible therapist Maggie O’Fallon wants a stable relationship with a man who’s not going anywhere…

Maggie grew up with parents who were never around, physically or emotionally. Needing steadiness in her life and in a relationship, she only dates men with normal jobs. But when Graham walks into her office and flashes his charming steel-blue eyes at her, she's at a loss for words. Torn between her ethics and her heart, Maggie asks Graham to see a different therapist so they can explore the chemistry between them. 

He has everything she’s been looking for—except stability… 

Maggie touches something deep within Graham and he panics, pushing her away, too scared to face his feelings. But when a private investigator threatens to discredit not only Graham, but Maggie’s practice as well, he is faced with two choices. Fight…or take flight. 

Battling a lawsuit and his heart, Graham must decide what’s more important—the life he thought he wanted…or Maggie. Maggie might be the only thing that will ever help GrahamStay Grounded.

Marianne Rice writes contemporary romances set in small New England towns. Her heroes are big and strong, yet value family and humor, while her heroines are smart, sexy, sometimes a little bit sassy, and are often battling a strong internal conflict. Together, they deal with real life issues and always, always, find everlasting love. 

When she’s not writing, Marianne can be found chauffeuring her herd of children to their varying sporting events, and when there’s time, shoe shopping, scarfing down dark chocolate, and relaxing with a glass of wine and a romance book. 

Find Marianne: