Tag Archive | romantic suspense

“It’s Not You, it’s me.” Is this a joke or the beginning of a book?

My first book, To Be Continued, begins like this. Without knowing much about writing, fearlessly I plunged right in.  


Liz Malone wakes up after a hot night of romance with her husband, for God’s sake—she thought she’d have to slip a little blue pill in his drink—they hadn’t had sex in so long, and finds a note from him. “Dear Lizzie, it’s not you, it’s me…” He’s flown the coop; her daughter says it’s a mid-life crisis-he’ll return. Betty, a champion swimmer at an early age, gave up her dream of Olympic Gold to marry the handsome medical student Frank Malone. He said she was a winner and coveted Betty for his own trophy. Her mother’s delight. Her coach’s nightmare. Forty years later, she’s left with Susie, Daddy’s girl, a home and considerable income and the one thing she fought for in forty years of marriage—an Olympic size pool.
Enter Maverick, the pool guy. He’s ambitious, kind, and ruggedly handsome. They strike up a friendship and collaborate in building a pool enclosure so Betty, now called Beth, may swim all year. Heated, of course, as their relationship is about. . .
What if I’d written, “It’s you, not me.”? Four years later I wonder if the book, now optioned for a television movie–YIPPEE!–and a hot seller in audio, print and eformat had interested Vanilla Heart Publishing with that for a twist. No going backwards. To Be Continued is a winner. The title indicates a follow-up story. Hmm. Too busy right now but that’s an idea.

When a producer called and said he loved the dialogue and was interested in an option, I cried and called Kimberlee Williams, at VHP. She’s in charge now.

Meanwhile, my friends, consider To Be Continued when you want to pamper yourself or your Mom.

5 Star Review from Long and Short Reviews:

Rising from the ashes of a burned-out marriage, Elizabeth feels like forty years of her life went up in smoke. Her successful husband, Dr. Frank Malone sneaked away in the night leaving only a note.

With a daughter that “pooh-poohs” the whole thing as just a temporary mid-life crisis and “friends” that avoid her, Elizabeth must rely on herself. Even her longtime lawyer turns out to be a stinker.

The Elizabeth that once was, before subverting her aspirations and becoming Dr. Frank Malone’s wife and Susie’s mother, begins to find herself–and what a self it is. The emotional journey she makes magnifies that life is to be continued, even if old dreams and an old marriage die.

Everyone should be fortunate enough to have a new friend like Lisa, a pool man like Maverick (WOW), a new lawyer like Elise Bergen, and a Sister Mary Margaret type to help rekindle the fire to be a “winner” after feeling like a total “loser”. Besides these supportive new people in her life, Elizabeth’s life is influenced by a tempting but troubled psychiatrist that wrote a book entitled “Get A Grip”, a remarkable son-in-law, and some super guests at “The Night for Possibilities” not the least of which is Sam Taylor.

Charmaine Gordon brings the characters to life with humor, decisive action, shared tears and stories. In To Be Continued Ms. Gordon takes the reader from a situation of despair to one of joy and love with lots of living done with mature and some not-so-mature exuberance.

To Be Continued with a survive-and-thrive attitude is captivating.              Charmaine CD -3 sATURATED_pp8x10g- CD


To Be Continued by Charmaine Gordon


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Sarah Ballance: LAST CALL Doesn’t Like Me

A guest blog from author Sarah Ballance

The author/story relationship is not unlike that of two people: sometimes they get along, sometimes not so much. Sometimes it’s insta-love, while in other instances the opposite may be true. While I generally get along well with my stories, let’s just say LAST CALL goes in the “other” pile. Y’all, this story does not like me at all. It never has.

I think there were too many transitions. The plot idea was originally supposed to be part of a series, but things went downhill with the publisher in question, so I chose not to add to my catalog with them. This meant I had to change the characters just a bit since I couldn’t integrate their stories from the first book. No big deal, only things seemed to snowball from there.

LAST CALL did not want to be written.

From the first word, I was trying to get through an increasingly mucked-up release process with another book. The ordeal, in retrospect, wasn’t the end of the world, but it dealt a blow to my confidence. I started down that wreck of a “you can’t” path, and the doubts settled in. Doubts, of course, breed faster than dust bunnies, so by the time I was halfway through the book I couldn’t even look at it. I took a lot of time off, in the process finishing TWO other stories (at least one of which turned into an awesome opportunity). Doing so gave me a boost—a feeling maybe I knew what I was doing after all—but when I went back to LAST CALL all those feelings of inadequacy returned. For a long while, I looked upon it as my toxic manuscript. I wanted to toss it, but I refused to give up. Fortunately my editor not only kicks general butt, but she has no qualms about kicking mine. With her help—and the opinions of two readers—I finally reached the point where I felt ready to let it go … not to that great recycle bin in the sky (or on the desktop … at least that’s where I keep mine), but to virtual bookshelves.

Do I love this story? Yes, but not for the conventional reasons. I love this story because it saw me over some of the most difficult walls I’ve faced as an author. It represents sort of a “coming of age” moment in my career, and when I look back over the year I picked it up and put it down and picked it up again (rinse and repeat … and repeat), I see in those starts and stops how I finally took steps out of my comfort zone and found something amazing: belief in myself and the knowledge I can do this writing thing even when it doesn’t come easy.

I can make things happen, and I have. And the proof is within these pages.


In a perilous game of trust, a shocking betrayal deals a dangerous hand.

An accidental witness to a murder-for-hire, ex-cop Rhys Clark becomes the target of ruthless killer—one determined to silence her at any cost. Playing dead seems to be the most likely way to stay alive, but when her protection comes in the form of mega-sexy former adversary Nick Massey, Rhys can think of  a few fates worse than death.

Nick Massey may have walked away from his troubles, but he never got past wanting Rhys. Once paired undercover, they’d been nothing but fireworks until a botched assignment ended her career, sending his into a tailspin. Now a mysterious client threatens Nick’s life if he doesn’t keep Rhys safe, but it isn’t until fate takes a critical turn that he realizes the devastating truth: he’s been her greatest threat all along.

  • Title: LAST CALL
  • Author: Sarah Ballance
  • Genre: Romantic Suspense
  • Publisher: For the Muse Publishing, 2013
  • ISBN 13: 978-0-9889995-0-3
  • Audio ISBN: N/A

LAST CALL is available from: For the Muse PublishingAmazonBarnes & Noble, andSmashwords (formats: .mobi, .epub, HTML, PDF, RTF, LRF, PalmDoc, and Plain Text). Click here to add to Goodreads or here for reviews.

Cover art by For the Muse Design

Last Call | Excerpt

Rhys Clark swore and jerked her foot from the murky puddle that had just claimed one of her new running shoes. Perfect. The day was now officially perfect.

She blamed Nick Massey.

Blaming him was easy enough. She didn’t know which required more nerve on his part—leaving town or crawling back—but both events left her bitter and raw. And wet, she grumbled inwardly. With the sky spitting rain and the occasional pellet of sleet smacking her face, she should have skipped her evening jog. The street was little more than a concrete alley of shuttered businesses, and the bleak weather amplified the emptiness. But tonight, with Nick hot on her mind, running through the cold was her last ditch effort to return to her senses.

It hadn’t worked.

Another blast of icy air howled through the narrow street. If she hadn’t been standing still, she probably wouldn’t have heard the shouting that followed.

A few months ago, an altercation wouldn’t have been unusual in this part of town. But the whole area was under reconstruction. Local crime dissipated to nothing with the razing of several apartment buildings, and until now Rhys had long found her route to be a place of solace. She glanced around as the voices drew closer and more intense. Rapid footsteps smacked the wet pavement. Then the echo of a gunshot cracked the night.

Where fear left her paralyzed, instinct insisted she get out of sight. She looked around and found an unbroken expanse of concrete wall offering few options. Heart pounding, Rhys ducked into the recessed doorway of a vacant storefront and hoped the deep shadows would keep her concealed.

Terrifying seconds passed. The sound of her own suppressed breath roared in her ears.

Voices came, clearer this time. Close.

“If we screw this up…” The words, terse and hushed, were encapsulated in panic.

“Shut up,” demanded a second voice. “No one messed up. He’s as good as dead.”

“You think you’re going to sell that without a body? We didn’t get paid to lose him.”

“He took one to the gut. He won’t get far. We’ll find him.”

“He’s leaving a trail. Blood. We got the big bucks for a clean—”

Shut up.”

A hit? Rhys shuddered, fear scaling her spine. A professional hit would have been silent—something not accomplished by the gunshot or the ensuing conversation—but in this game, experience wasn’t always a prerequisite for willingness to pull the trigger. Two years of undercover work had taught her as much.

So had a bullet.

Rhys froze, waiting for the voices to pass. But luck was not on her side. Rather than drawing away, the footsteps ceased.

“Well, well, well,” said the confident one. “Looks like our little game of hide and seek is over.”

Hope crumbled. The voice was far too close. Had they seen her?

She dared not move. Through her lashes, she saw nothing in her narrow view of the dimly lit street but dirty puddles and the occasional bit of trash plastered to wet pavement. She prayed they didn’t look her way should they walked past.

Grunts erupted nearby, followed by the sound of sneakers scuffling on concrete. Then two shots fired, and all sounds of struggle gave way to profane celebration.

In the same instant, a man fell to the sidewalk in front of Rhys. His eyes, sightless and familiar, bore into her.

She choked a gasp.

A man stepped into her line of sight, his weapon at the ready. Before she could stop herself, she locked eyes with him. Big mistake. The decision threw her into a cloud of emotional shrapnel, the past flying at her in shards. She’d been shot once before.

It hadn’t ended well.

The gunman opened his mouth and formed an ugly grin, his breath coming in visible puffs through yellowed teeth. “Looks like a double header tonight, T,” he said, never taking his gaze off Rhys.

“Whaddya mean?” came the reply. The voice . . . she blinked until the second man shifted into focus.

She knew him. From where? She couldn’t think.

She glanced to the dead man, and her vision wavered. Panic shifted her world into a screen of jarred pixels, the flashback jagged and severe.

Rhys! Stay with me, Rhys. Do you hear me? Rhys!”

Blood. So much blood.

“Nick.” She touched his face, feeling stubble beneath her fingertips. Then the weight of her arm was too much; as gravity won he slipped away. The world twisted into a sickening spiral until all that was left was his voice, the desperation in his tone bringing warmth to the darkness.


Motion jarred her to the present.

The gunman gestured. “Our witness here is about to have an unfortunate accident.” He raised the weapon, aiming for the kill.

It was a short view down the barrel at point blank range. She expected that.

What she didn’t anticipate was the speed with which he pulled the trigger.

Or how quickly the pain hit.

LAST CALL is available from: For the Muse PublishingAmazonBarnes & Noble, andSmashwords (formats: .mobi, .epub, HTML, PDF, RTF, LRF, PalmDoc, and Plain Text). Click here to add to Goodreads or here for reviews.

Cover art by For the Muse Design

About Sarah Ballance

Sarah and her husband of what he calls “many long, long years” live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep. She never dreamed of becoming an author, but as a homeschooling mom, she often jokes she writes fiction because if she wants anyone to listen to her, she has to make them up. (As it turns out, her characters aren’t much better than the kids). When not buried under piles of laundry, she may be found adrift in the Atlantic (preferably on a boat) or seeking that ever-elusive perfect writing spot where not even the kids can find her.

She loves creating unforgettable stories while putting her characters through an unkind amount of torture—a hobby that has nothing to do with living with six children. (Really.) Though she adores nail-biting mystery and edge-of-your-seat thrillers, Sarah writes in many genres including contemporary and ghostly paranormal romance. Her ever-growing roster of releases may be found on her website

Author Links: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

It’s a pleasure having you visit and speak of your experience writing. Thanks Sarah. Come back any time, my friend.

Whispers at Ghost Point by Deanna Jewel

Whispers – Character Interview with Dana Kaster


      Thank you for joining us! I hope you’ve brought your flashlights with you. We’re about to tour the old lighthouse but before we do that, let’s head inside the keeper’s house and gather around to chat with my main character, Dana Kaster. For those brave enough, later on you can roam upstairs for a ghost hunt of your own!


Deanna:  Charmaine, thank you for having me this week on your blog. It’s great to be back for a visit. I love talking with readers so I hope they leave a question or comment for us. I’m also doing a giveaway at the end! I’ve brought with me my main character, Dana Kaster, from Whispers at Ghost Point. Since I have a love for lighthouses, I had to write about one and added a ghost to make it a bit spooky! Dana loves remodeling and decorating – who else love doing that? Tell us at the end if you love lighthouses and decorating!


Dana:  I’m excited to be here with both of you! Charmaine, thank you! I can’t wait for readers to jump into the book with all of us. I’ve always had a soft spot for decorating which is why I got my contractor’s license – it also allowed me to do more in the area of remodeling. Meeting other contractors and builders isn’t bad either! *wink* I moved to Wilmington NC a year ago after my divorce and found the abandoned lighthouse on the coast while I worked at the Cape Fear Historical Society. I was fortunate enough to get a job remodeling their lighthouse projects we took on, but I recently opened my own shop and I’m so excited.

Deanna: Taking on the entire remodel of a lighthouse that’s stood empty for hundreds of years won’t be easy. Have you run into any roadblocks?

Dana: The lighthouse in question is owned by an individual who I found through my research but he refuses to return my phone calls. That in itself is annoying. I want inside the place to see what might need to be fixed and put some plans together. I don’t understand why this man won’t call me back, but my guess is that he’s too old to care about the place being fixed up or is a recluse not wanting to be bothered. The lighthouse is begging me to fix it up though. Why can’t he sense that? LOL

Deanna: Does the lighthouse talk to you when you visit or is it the ghosts who talk to you? That would be spooky!

Dana:  I have an ability to sense the spirits in old places but I still need to work on that. It is scary when they come around and they usually visit when you least expect them to. If I were better at my psychic abilities, I could learn who they are faster but it still scares me so I need to get over that if I want to use my ability to the fullest. When I sit on my deck at night, I can see the lighthouse across the inlet. The tower light flashes and there’s no way the electricity still works there! It couldn’t for as old as it is, so what makes the lights come on? I also sense a spirit or two there and the pull they have on me is getting stronger but I just can’t learn who they are.

Deanna:  You’ve become good friends with a co-worker at the Historical Society who has the ability to sense spirits. Tell us about that. Everyone is always interested in people who talk to ghosts!

Dana: Sarah and I have really gotten close since I moved to Wilmington.  She doesn’t let very many people know that she can speak to spirits…they think you’re crazy when they learn that! Even with all the shows on television these days, but I love it. Personally, I just need to learn how to distance myself and set up my circle of light for protection. I visited the lighthouse a few times without telling Sarah…yet she knows! She has a way of knowing what goes on without me even telling her!


Deanna: How does she feel about the lighthouse?

Dana: Oh my gawd! She isn’t keen on it at all! She said the spirits there aren’t at all friendly and that I need to quit going over there alone before something happens to me. She’s sat with me on my deck at night and we’ve both seen the lights come on. I think she knows more than she’s telling me about the spirits over there.

Deanna: Well that would make anyone jumpy to sense a spirit is evil. Maybe you need to listen to her and quit going over there.

Dana: I’m too nosey to stop going so the owner just needs to give me permission to go inside. I did meet a man on one of my visits there once. He said he was just a friend of the owner but wouldn’t tell me who the owner was. Too bad he wasn’t the owner – his eyes alone distracted me! But anyway, if I were able to get that lighthouse restored, it would help boost my business in Wilmington and the residents would be able to see what I can do. The work I’ve done on our historical lighthouse remodels has really helped too, but…I want inside the forbidden tower!

Deanna: You’ve lived in Wilmington for almost a year now. Any men you’re interested in?

Dana: With all the work I do remodeling and researching for the Historical Society and now starting my own business, I haven’t had time for dating and I really haven’t missed it. Taking time after my divorce to get my life back on track is what’s important to me now. I have to make a name for my business here so I can get to know the residents. Many of them have stopped by my new shop and have taken my card, saying they’ll call me when they start their remodels. I hope they do, I love to be busy!

Deanna: Charmaine, thank you so much for allowing me to spend time with your readers! Dana, thanks for stopping in to chat with our readers. I can’t wait to finish your story so they can all read it.


The book will release later this month if it isn’t already out there! I must apologize to those who’ve waited so long…I’ve been busy at the office which has slowed down my edits on the book. The characters in Whispers at Ghost Point are pulled into the present from my historical novel set in England 1778, No Turning Back. To know a bit more about the characters, you may want to read that book – it’s still on sale for .99.

CONTEST:  I’m giving away a $10 gift card so get your entry in HERE by clicking on the Charmaine Gordon Contest to be in the drawing to be held on Saturday, Dec 22nd!

Please check my blog, website and my newsletters for more info. By subscribing to my newsletter, readers are automatically included in one of my monthly drawings and by following my blog, you’ll be included in that drawing. Both drawings win gift cards and the newsletter winner also gets a goodie bag and tee shirt!

Thank you all for stopping in to meet Dana from Whispers at Ghost Point. I hope I’ve piqued your interest just a bit and if so, you can read Chapter One and watch the book trailer by clicking HERE. I’ve also posted book info and an excerpt HERE. I hope you enjoy reading it and meeting my characters.


My pleasure having you visit here today, Deanna. We’ve become friends long distance with you extending a hand more than once.

Dear Readers, please leave a comment for Deanna but  to enter the contest, click on her link above in the CONTEST info. Wishing Happy Holidays and good health in the New Year.

A Ghost of Thanksgiving Past. . .

Looking back and forth with author Charmaine Gordon

The Ghost of Thanksgiving Past

Back in the days when people didn’t lock the front door or car doors, the big family I belonged to gathered at my parent’s home for Thanksgiving. When I say big-I’m talking BIG. Grandma and Grandpa had ten kids. My mom was in the middle and somehow she became the hub of the wheel of this family.

Picture this: Grandparents seated at one end of the table, candlelight shining on their white hair and proud faces. At the other end sat my father, leaning back in the chair, master of all he surveyed. Every other chair was occupied by an uncle while my aunts scurried back and forth from kitchen to dining room carrying trays heaped with enough food to feed a small nation. And as they served, they managed to gossip about everything and everyone.

Did I mention that the table extended into the living room? Well it did, to accommodate all the cousins who were up to no good. Boys of all ages and me, the first girl born to this rowdy bunch and two quiet girl cousins. We couldn’t wait to finish dinner and crawl under the grown-up table and sit with legs of various relatives all around us, while we listened to adult conversation and tried to stifle laughter. We weren’t discovered until cigar and cigarette smoke from above sent us coughing and choking for fresher air.

Ah, sweet memories of the ghost of Thanksgiving past.

                                                And now for a different kind of Thanksgiving.

TO BE CONTINUED” Romance in a ‘survive and thrive’ world

This takes place at St.Paul’s Church in Westchester County, New York where the soup kitchen is renowned for generous meals. Beth Malone, the protagonist in my story, volunteers her time as a way of giving back to the community. In this chapter, Susie, her daughter, questions why and what her mother is doing there and learns about giving.

Susie said, “What’s your domain, Mom?”

Beth laughed. “The kitchen, of course. It’s high tech and on, Thursday’s all mine. But not for too long. The regular chef is pregnant, due in a week. I’m filling in.”

“Do you like doing it? It seems like a lot of work.”

Beth picked up the pace, eager to see what lay ahead in the kitchen. “I came here to give something back to the community since I have so much. Yes, I like it. A lot.” A lot better than years trying to please your father. Did I really clean the dirt out of his golf clubs?

When Beth opened the kitchen door, she was overwhelmed with the number of volunteers—old and young—aprons tied around their waists listening to clean-shaven Harold speak clearly about kitchen chores. Heads turned and she greeted the group.

“I don’t want to interrupt Harold. He seems to have everything under control.” She introduced her family telling them Javier,her son-in-law,  was an experienced chef and he was there as a volunteer.

Harold continued with his list. When Beth moved near him, he showed the written items to her. She asked if he’d mind her adding a few ideas to simplify and he nodded it was fine.

Quickly two kinds of stuffing were in preparation, three people worked on fresh vegetable platters and fruit cups. One large pot was reserved for turkey gravy and a mixture of flour and water was stirred carefully.

Cheers went up when the turkeys were delivered. Javier checked each one to make sure they were all fully cooked. Beth watched the big clock. Pies were due any minute. Sam volunteered for pie pick-up and delivery since the bakery was on his way to the church. A knock at the door. One of the kids opened the heavy door and called out.

“Sam’s here with the pumpkin pies. He needs help bringing them in. Clear a table.”

Everyone loved Sam, the sport agent with inside stories about star jocks. They flocked around him whenever he showed up. Four teens ran out and staggered back, carefully placing boxes on the table and ran out for more. Every time the door opened, a cold blast of air swept through the warm kitchen. The table almost groaned with the boxes. At last they came back empty handed.

Beth opened one box. The pie was gorgeous, crust fluted and so flaky she was tempted to taste it. So she did. Heaven. Soon they had to be opened and placed on the dessert table. She wore her chef’s hat at a jaunty angle and the starched jacket half-buttoned. Beth hadn’t cooked, stirred or peeled anything. Just watched and barked out orders. She liked being chef.

Suddenly Sam came in the back door, walked directly to her, grabbed her by the hand and pulled her out the door. A few wolf whistles echoed from the kitchen. She steered him to the closest room; dark and quiet. Without a word, he wrapped her in his arms and kissed her long and sweet until they were breathless. Coming up for air, Beth said, “What. . .” Her words were cut off with another kiss.

“I missed you last night,” another kiss, “and this morning.”

“Lisa, Maverick, and the twins are joining us for dinner.” In the shadows she saw a look of pleasure on his face. “After they leave, I can thank you properly for the pies.”

Holding hands, they strolled back to the kitchen.


From a distance, Susie watched her mom and a man exit a room holding hands. She wondered who the hell he was and what he meant to Mom to bring a rosy glow to her cheeks.

After hearing about Mom’s kindness from the pregnant chef and the once battered woman in the locker room, Susie realized, for the first time, how lucky she was to have such a special mother.


An ibookbuzz winner