Tuesday 18 August 2015

Written Fireside - Can't You See? Part 9

Welcome to Part 9 of the latest Written Fireside Story! If you regularly visit my new website (www.ZaraStoneley.com) you'll know that I'm animal mad, and so I'm delighted to be taking part in this special edition story - the individual parts can be read now for free, but once published all proceeds will be donated to Pets for Vets.

The story...
Noah Hale is an author suffering from PTSD related insomnia, needing peace and sleep. All he wants is to be left alone. A certain little dog has other ideas.

Amanda Bell, a teacher, is grieving the loss of her sister, Rachel. Caring for her sister’s dog is comforting until a new neighbor moves in the other half of her duplex. Suddenly, the dog starts escaping her yard, running off to the man on the other side of the fence.

And here is where to catch up on previous parts...

Part 4  by Jane Hunt   
Part 8  by Paty Jager

Can't You See - Part 9

“I’m not sure...” He paused, not wanting to offend her. But it had been hard enough opening up to Mary, a whole room full of people sounded his idea of hell. “I don’t really do talking it over with strangers.”
Amanda smiled, seeing the look of barely disguised horror. “I didn’t think I did either. And here I am sat chatting to you and…” She spread her hands.
He got the message. Yeah, he’d just spilled the whole story out to her, but she didn’t feel like a stranger for some reason.
“I’m not saying it works for everybody, but it has helped me. What’s worked for you so far?”
There was no challenging note in her voice, no censure and for the first time he could remember Noah didn’t actually resent the intrusion. “I run.”
“Run? Maybe we could do a deal I go along with your plan, you try mine. If you want to that is?”
Noah laughed. “I run fast.”
She raised an eyebrow. “I’m no slouch.”
“Very fast, to outpace the demons.”
And even when he said the word demons there was something different to the earlier pain in his eyes. Devilment.
“Sounds like walking might be a better idea then.” Gertie tipped her head to one side as she heard one of her favourite words, and Noah grinned. “Not right now, pup. You might be one hell of a therapist, but I draw the line at walks in the middle of the night.”
“Well actually, the sun will be up soon.” Amanda had suddenly realised they’d been up talking nearly all night. “I’ve not been awake at this time for years.”
Noah had. There’d been too many sleepless nights. But it was a long time since he’d been smiling at this early hour in the morning. He made a sudden decision. “Let’s do it.” Amanda raised an eyebrow. “Let’s take her a walk, watch the sun come up together.”

Tomorrow can be the first day of the rest of your life.’ Wasn’t that one thing Mary had said to him? ‘Trust yourself.’ He pushed his chair back abruptly, spilling the little dog to the floor, where she started to spin excitedly in circles chasing her tail. His life wasn’t going to change overnight, there would be no miracles, but finding somebody who wasn’t going to run scared, who wasn’t going to scorn and make him feel like some freak or some useless shell of a man, was as good a place to start as any. He’d spent too much time trying to work this thing out on his own, and for the first time he actually wanted to share, to talk. And to listen.
“Will you come?” He held out a hand, suddenly nervous that he’d gone too far, but Amanda was smiling back at him.
“I don’t think I’ve got any choice, do you? Look at her!” She slipped her hand into his and it felt right. Like it belonged there. Like the type of anchor he wanted, even when he wasn’t having nightmares.
Amanda smiled as Gertie raced ahead up the path, turning every now and then to check they were following then putting her nose down again to follow the scents. She felt a bit like the little dog looked, happy, carefree.
She was out of breath by the time they reached the high point that she’d known would be the perfect spot to see the new day in. Noah had a long loping stride that had never faltered as they’d climbed the incline. But he’d taken her with him, his hand wrapped tightly around hers. “I’m glad I didn’t agree to run.”
He laughed, green eyes twinkling, and it somehow felt normal to let her head rest on his shoulder, to feel his arm around her waist, as they watched the sun edge its way over the horizon, filling the sky with colour.
Amanda sighed. “Isn’t it wonderful?”
“Like you.” His voice was a soft murmur, but she knew she hadn’t imagined it. She dared to glance up, and it must have been lack of sleep that gave her the mad urge to reach out and touch his face. His gaze met hers. Clear eyes, that seemed to be able to read every thought in her head.
“Amanda.” One firm finger traced along her jawbone and she held her breath. “Is it wrong if I—” She never found out what might have been wrong, as Gertie jumped up between the two of them, barking with excitement. Noah groaned, and Amanda couldn’t help but giggle
 “Gertie that is so naughty.” The dog sat down, the picture of innocence. “I think she wants her breakfast.” She wagged her tail. Not sure whether to be exasperated or pleased that the little dog had broken the spell, Amanda clipped the dogs leash back on.
“And so do I.” Noah linked his fingers through hers. “Come on, my treat.”
While Noah filled the kitchen with the wonderful aroma of bacon, Amanda looked through his books. She couldn’t help it, reading was an addiction. “Wow, have you written all of these, they’re all yours?”
He shrugged, green eyes wary, as she flicked through the pages of one.
“You never said you’d written this many. This looks amazing. Can I borrow a copy?”
“Sure, come on grubs up.”
As she went to put the book she’d been reading back on the pile, a photograph half slipped out. A young woman, pretty. Feeling guilty at rummaging through his private things, Amanda dropped the book and hurried over.
“I’m seeing Mary later, maybe you could come.”
“Ah.” Amanda put her knife and fork down, her food hardly touched. So that was her name, Mary. “Maybe I should go, I think, maybe…” She’d been such a fool, taken his concern for more than it was, thought she could help somebody who already had more than enough help.
“Amanda?” He was looking at her concerned, as she pushed her chair back. “You’ve not eaten.”
“Sorry, I’m not hungry.” She’d be fine with Gertie. They could stay on one side of the fence, and Noah and his Mary could stay on the other. So much for the little dog’s intelligence and perception.
“Hang on.” He was up out of his seat and stood in front of her before she had time to go anywhere.
“Mary understands, you don’t need me.”
“Well of course she understands, that’s her job, but you’re different. I thought…”
“Her job?”
“She’s my therapist.” He looked truly puzzled now, but was not shifting an inch. “Why, who did you think she was?”
“You keep a photograph of your therapist?”
Amanda couldn’t stand his play-acting a moment longer, pushing past him she marched over towards the book, and fished the picture out triumphantly. But whatever she’d expected, it wasn’t the look of shock on his face.
“That shouldn’t be there, I thought I’d got rid of them all.” His tone was flat. “That’s not Mary, that’s Jess.”

Don't miss the concluding part next week -
Part 10 by Summerita Rhayne

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Written Fireside Blog Hop

It might only be August, but there's a reason Christmas has come early....

Fifteen HarperCollins authors have all been given the same opening paragraph and challenged to write a 'Christmas by the Fire' short story. That brilliant first paragraph was written by competition winner Georgia Beyers. To join in the fun follow the hop, read excerpts from all the stories and enter the giveaway and be in with a chance to win lots of books and a 70$ Amazon Gift Card!
To read the stories in full, look out for the Christmas e-book anthology which will be published later in the year. So, here's the opening paragraph, followed by a snippet from my story...

Charlotte sat at the bus stop wondering whether she would make the naughty or nice list this year. Last year she had rescued a stray kitten and therefore considered herself most definitely ‘nice’. This year she had broken Daniel’s heart into a million tiny pieces, so ‘naughty’ seemed to be the only answer. There’d be no Santa Claus coming down her chimney anytime soon. - Georgia Beyers

 Charlotte sat at the bus stop wondering whether she would make the naughty or nice list this year. Last year she had rescued a stray kitten and therefore considered herself most definitely ‘nice’. This year she had broken Daniel’s heart into a million tiny pieces, so ‘naughty’ seemed to be the only answer. There’d be no Santa Claus coming down her chimney anytime soon.

Seriously though, naughty or nice, she seemed to be hurtling headlong towards the obligatory three bits of bad luck. Why did it have to come in threes? And why now, when she really could do with a bit of festive encouragement?

Actually, thinking about it, luck was a bit like buses, all or nothing, and right now her bad luck was piling up like a road block and the buses, well… there was a distinct lack of anything big, red and warm.
She glanced down at her watch, for the umpteenth time, if one didn’t come soon she’d be shattering (well shattering might be a bit on the strong side, severely denting more like) more than one little heart, and she’d actually BE blue, not just feeling it.
Although not as blue as Daniel. Poor, poor Daniel. No festive cheer for him. He was the first bit of bad luck, if you could call it that, some might call it clever engineering. And talking of engineering (or should that be mechanics?) black cloud two on her horizon was her car.
For the first time in like ever, their whole entire relationship, it had spluttered as though it had swallowed something down the wrong way, and then given up the ghost altogether. Which did just about sum up her past relationships (the human, not mechanical ones). The one with her car had probably been as good as it got.

 Maybe it was enough that her car had broken down just when she needed it most, leaving her waiting for a bus in the freezing cold. Maybe Santa could strike the Daniel thing off the list and call it quits – which left her in the good camp didn’t it? Well evens, because apparently the kitten wasn’t actually a stray. Long story, but hey she’d tried. And didn’t they say it was the trying that mattered? And it had been attempted rescue, she had climbed up the tree even if she’d missed the fact that the darn thing had decided a suicidal scramble down the other side was a better bet than being saved by her. Okay, so that left it about evens. Clean slate, hello Santa. Or maybe the third bit of bad luck would be no bus, and a lot of un-festive bad temper and maybe even tears.
 And the whole Daniel thing wasn’t really her fault anyway. Oh, why wasn’t life ever simple?


“Have you got any idea what you look like dressed like that?”
Charlotte instinctively jumped back as the car pulled in at the kerb, determined not to get her tights sprayed by yet another wave of slushy snow, then thoughts of Daniel, ungrateful kittens and naughty lists took a hike as she registered who it was.
“Like Santa’s little helper I was hoping.” She grinned at the girl inside the car, who had wound the window down and seemed to find the whole thing quite entertaining. Amy.
“And there was I just thinking green tights were the in thing this Christmas. Come on, get in, I’m freezing my bits off here.”
Charlotte pulled opened the car door and stepped as carefully as she could in, studying her by now drooping boots. Well, the perky points were drooping. Getting changed before setting off had been a good idea when she’d thought she had a car. Not so good when you have to trudge the streets.
“Crumbs it’s hot in here.” The tips of her fingers were already tingling seconds after she’d shut the door. “Don’t complain, if you’d stood out there much longer you would have either got picked up or arrested.”
“I wouldn’t say no to a nice policeman.”
“As in picked up, or arrested by?”
She shrugged and Amy laughed and steered her way back into the traffic. “I thought you were off men.” “Only other peoples.” Charlotte sighed and closed her eyes for a second, although surely the fact that Amy had turned up was a good sign. A sign that she may be forgiven? “And my look not touch policy is working just fine.”
“That so wasn’t your fault. And I can’t believe he actually cried. I mean cried. Real tears.” Her best friend glanced at her briefly, with a look of mock horror then turned her concentration back to the road.
“Real man tears.” She looked glumly out at the garishly decorated shop windows that were whizzing past in glorious Technicolor. “That, apparently, was one of the things Holly liked about him. His sensitive side.” “Until she decided to swap him for a fireman.”
“He has a big pole apparently.”
 Amy giggled, then beeped the car horn angrily as a man, half hidden behind a large conifer stepped out in front of the car. Charlotte made a grab for the door handle as the car shimmied on the ice, but Amy didn’t seem to notice. She was warming up to the subject. Holly assassination. “She is such a cow though, expecting you to do the dirty for her. Sorry, but she is.”
Diversionary tactics seemed in order. Much as Charlotte didn’t like the way her sister took advantage of her good nature, she was prepared to forgive and forget. The festive season and all that. “A lucky cow, you should see the fireman. And she probably knew Dan would cry, she only does soft sides when it works for her. I mean she just wouldn’t know what to do, would she? She’s not exactly the type to hand out tissues.” 

“More the type to give him the money so he can go buy a packet. I can’t believe you two are sisters. Here we go, grotty grotto time.” Amy pulled the handbrake on with a flourish and stared at the entrance door. “I suppose we should be thankful we’re not reindeers. The little horrors kept pinching Becky’s bum last year, they said they just wanted to see if her tail was real. One of them tugged it so hard she thought the elastic in her knickers was going to pop.”
“It was attached. Safety reasons. Elf and safety.” Amy giggled at her own joke.
“Very funny.” Charlotte passed Amy her elf hat. “Nor can I, believe we’re sisters I mean.” And sometimes she couldn’t. Holly was tall, slim, had perfect nails and breathtakingly outrageous dress sense. Charlotte stopped at outrageous. She was small, on the verge of a donut-too-many and generally wore the first thing that fell out of the wardrobe. Or, as in tonight, an elf costume. Holly would never be seen dead in green (despite her name), it clashed with her skin colouring apparently. And as for the curly toed shoes and the perky hat… “Hang on.” Somewhere from the depths of the elf tunic a merry Christmas tune announced an incoming text. “Oh.” She re-read the text just to be sure. “Apparently she’s moved on to the fireman’s mate now.”
 “So he didn’t light her fire exactly?”
Charlotte shook her head and tried to look disapproving. “You’re on form tonight.”
“It’s my mental preparation for coping with two hundred hyper kids. Shall we go find Santa?”
“I think my boots are running.”
 “The colour,” she swung her feet out of the car and watched the snow turn emerald. “It’s running. My feet are in a bit of a green puddle. Oh, shit.” Charlotte paused, half in and half out of the car. Which wasn’t a good idea as her feet nearly shot from under her on the ice. She straightened up reluctantly, which meant she couldn’t hide behind the car door any longer.
“What? Oh.” Amy walked round and stood at the side of Charlotte, and stared at Santa Claus, standing stock in the centre of the doorway. His white beard tucked under his chin. A bashful grin on his face. Amy wasn’t bothered about displaying herself in full elf costume to Santa. “Er, I mean oo.” She dropped her voice a notch, but it still seemed far too loud to Charlotte. She leant in closer, dropped to a stage whisper. “Well, I mean wow, but what is with the ‘oh shit’, girl? That is one hell of a Santa, Christmas has come early. I’m a believer.”

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Thursday 12 June 2014

The Keepers: Declan - Rae Rivers Launch Tour + Giveaway!

Declan Tour Banner  
The Keepers: Declan, the book fans have been eagerly awaiting, is finally here! We're celebrating the release of the second book in Rae Rivers' paranormal romance series today with a launch tour and giveaway. Find out all the details and be sure to get your entries in to win a copy of Archer, the first book of The Keepers.
  Declan CoverWhat they say: '“You lied to me, misled me, attacked me,” Declan murmured, dipping his head toward hers, “but what we had three months ago wasn’t fake, was it?” Kate's gaze faltered to his lips, heat pulsing between them. But she didn’t deny it. Declan Bennett has zero tolerance for thieves. He and his brothers, the Keepers, are fiercely protective of their witch, Sienna, and their privacy. So when Kate Carrigan breaks into their estate, he'll be damned if he lets the little wildcat get away with it – especially after she seduced him three months ago, leaving him buck-naked in a New Orleans hotel. Declan wants payback – and some answers. Before she was murdered, Kate's mother ingrained it in her not to trust anyone. Kate’s magical powers make her a pawn in the war between good and evil, a war she’s always avoided. Declan is everything she’s been taught to fear, even if she can’t forget the memory of his touch that one night… Trouble is brewing as the powers of evil regroup - bolder and hungrier than ever - and Kate is forced to choose a side. Hot romance, epic battles and action abound in Book 2 of The Keepers.' Click Here To Buy The Book - UK Click Here To Buy The Book - US   Author PhotAuthor Bio: I’m an avid reader and writer with a passion for writing romance novels. I live in Cape Town, South Africa, with my gorgeous husband, two beautiful children and a zoo of house pets. Besides writing, I love family time, the outdoors, travelling, watching TV series, reading and chocolate. For more information about my books, or me, please visit www.raerivers.com. I can also be found here:
If you haven't already had the pleasure of reading one of The Keepers' stories, you can find information on Archer, the first book, HERE and why not download the FREE prequel to the series, The Keepers: Sienna HERE.
Otherwise, enter via the Rafflecopter below for the chance to win one of two copies of Archer*
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*Giveaway copies of The Keepers: Archer will be gifted to the winners via Amazon. Rae Rivers and Candle Lit Author Services reserve the right to amend or cancel the giveaway at any time without prior notice to entrants.

Thursday 5 June 2014

Winner! And a great weekend event...Romance Festival 2014!

Yay, I'm pleased to announce my winner of the 'Is It Summer Yet?' blog hop. And, it's.... Tina B! A copy of 'Summer of Surrender' is on its way to you. Enjoy!

And what am I up to this weekend? Well, I've just hit 'send' on my latest book, which is winging its way to my editor, and now I'm getting ready for a weekend of fun. It's the Romance Festival!

Have you signed up yet? Whether you just love reading romance, or you're an author, or would love to write then there is something for you! It's free, and it's online. And I'll be sharing some big news!!

So, if you want to find out more about this fabulous event you can sign up here - Sign Up! Just check out the amazing line up, and events that are going on, cover reveals, advice, author chats, giveaways...

Or, check out the blog here - Romance Festival

Have a great weekend!

Zara x

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Guest Post - Welcome Eve Devon, Happy Birthday to 'The Waiting Game'!

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So The Waiting Game turns one year old today and as it was my debut book it got me thinking about all the firsts I experienced with its publication.
This year has flown by, but I can still remember the flutter in my heart when I first saw ‘copyright by’ and the copyright symbol next to my name.
And seeing my cover for the first time? I can admit that it took me a while to realize Big Ben was in the background—I was distracted by something in the foreground. Abs can say so much, don’t you think?!
Then there was seeing my book appear on all the bookseller sites that I usually purchased books from. Typing in my name and having my book pop up to buy—yep, total rush!
But as I raise my glass in celebration of The Waiting Game being out a year, the absolute icing on the cake was the first time a reader took the time to contact me and tell me how much they enjoyed my book.
I think that’s why all the firsts surrounding the release of your debut book are so special. The fact that people are prepared to take a chance on a new voice and without any pre-judging dive right in for an adventure, well, it’s the greatest of compliments. It is also why writers write—to share a story.
If you’ve been looking for the next adventure to dive right into, then consider the wait over! Here are all the details you need to immerse yourself in The Waiting Game:

Five years ago a madman stalked her. Kidnapped her. Tattooed her.
When security expert Cameron Dexter—the man Brooke Bennett once loved—appears unexpectedly at her door with terrifying news, the former musician discovers she can no longer hide from her past. After five years, her vicious kidnapper is out of prison and on the hunt—for Brooke.
Now he’s returned to complete his art.
Cam failed to protect Brooke once before. Now he’d rather die than let her be captured. With her life at stake, Cam vows to keep her hidden and safe. Brooke, however, is done with running. Unlike Cam, she wants to stand and fight. Emotions both old and new roil between them, but addressing their heated past must wait. Together they set a trap in London to catch a killer. But they soon discover the enemy wears many faces...
And waiting is no longer an option.

Buy links:
Amazon           Barnes and Noble       iTunes              KOBO

Bio: Growing up in locations like Botswana and Venezuela gave me quite the taste for adventure and my
love for romances began when my mother shoved one into my hands in a desperate attempt to keep me quiet during TV coverage of the Wimbledon tennis finals! When I wasn’t consuming books by the bucketload, I could be found pretending to be a damsel in distress or running around solving mysteries and writing down my adventures. As a teenager, I wrote countless episodes of TV detective dramas so the hero and heroine would end up together every week. As an adult, I worked in a library to conveniently continue consuming books by the bucketload, until realising I was destined to write contemporary romance and romantic suspense myself. I live in leafy Surrey in the UK, a book-devouring, slightly melodramatic, romance-writing sassy heroine with my very own sexy hero husband!

Where you can find me:

Monday 26 May 2014

Is It Summer Yet? Blog Hop

What is the first thing I think about packing when I go away in the summer? A good book - well quite a few normally, how did we ever manage without kindles?

My favourite pool side (or beach) reading has got to be a good 'bonk-buster'. If I can grab a book by Jackie Collins, Jilly Cooper, Tilly Bagshawe, Fiona Walker or Victoria Fox then I'm happy. And the great thing, for me, about books like this is that the chapters are quite short so you can put them down and not lose the plot (so to speak), but they're also long enough to last me through a good chunk of my hols.  I want a good dose of escapism, with lots of character, action and heat!

I also download quite a few shorter reads though too - for the flight and to fill in those last couple of days!

My next release is, funnily enough, just this type of story (look out for more details in the next month if you're interested). At the moment it's a bit hush, hush, but if you like a good long racy read, with lots of scandal then I'm sure you'll love this one.

Meanwhile, let me know in the comments below (or via FB/twitter) what your summer reading list is like. I'll randomly select a winner from all the comments who will get a free e-copy of Summer of Surrender, a hot erotic romance to put you in the mood for some summer loving! Don't forget to leave an email address so I can contact you.

It's still pretty cool and rainy here - but I'm hoping for a long, hot summer...

Sex is the only thing they have in common. Total surrender the name of the game.

James had it all. Good education. City job and a wife he would have been willing to die for. Their motto had been work hard, play hard, but she’d pushed the boundaries too far and he’d walked. Became the man he felt he needed to be. Detached. In control.

Free spirit Kezia lives each day at a time; sharing, loving and giving are unconditional. And sex is part of the sharing.

When fate leaves James and Kezia trapped together for the summer, her openness is an invitation he just can’t resist. The attraction is instant, the sex all-consuming. And as their fantasies become reality, James begins to realise that willing surrender is a far different pleasure to forced submission…


Don't forget to check out all the other blogs participating in the hop! http://juliesbookreview.blogspot.com/

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Written Fireside - 'Changes' Part 5

Welcome to Part 5 of the latest Written Fireside story, Changes. If you've not read any of the previous parts, catch up with them here -

Part 1 – Lori Connelly

Part 2 – Teresa Morgan

Part 3 – Lynn Marie Hulsman

Part 4 - Sue Fortin

Part 5 ...
“You dare me?” She could feel the smile playing over her lips as she dared herself to do what she’d been wanting to do since he’d walked into that art class. Reach out and touch him. The sizzle of heat burned through his shirt, set her fingertips tingling.
Zach had always been able to set her all-a-tremble with the lightest touch, she’d let him do what he wanted, let him take control. But that had been then.
He nodded, his dark eyes alive and dancing with a mix of fun and confidence. “I dare you, Marie. Take a risk.” The unspoken ‘for once’ hung between them.
“Okay.” She drew the word out long as she let her fingers trace a path down his chest. If she had changed, this was the test. She’d faced the future, decided it was time to do things differently. And now she had to face the past. She finally had a chance to draw a line under what had happened between them, rather than bury it under the carpet. End it properly, with her eyes wide open rather than letting the fantasy man come between her and every other man she’d tried to date. She stood up on her tip toes, so that her lips were level with his. Resisted the temptation to kiss him. “I will if you will.”

Zach slammed the passenger car door shut a little harder than he’d meant to. He’d wanted Marie to accept his offer, but if he was honest he hadn’t thought she would. He didn’t really deserve even an acknowledgment from her, let alone the time of day. But there was still something between them, he could tell she was still as drawn to him as he was to her. Which was why he’d dared to stop and talk to her. Why he’d offered to help.
He got in the car, started the engine up and risked a glance in her direction. And although he had a thousand and one questions he wanted to ask, he was tongue tied. Which wasn’t something he was used to.
She grinned back, raised an eyebrow. She’d changed. He’d loved the old Marie, but he had a horrible feeling he’d love the new one even more. Except she would never forgive him. He’d blown his chance long ago, even if he’d had no choice.
“Whenever you’re ready.” Her tone was teasing, something else that was new.
He pushed the car into gear. “What did you mean, I will if you will?”
The sexy chuckle sent him straight back to that summer. Made it all worse. “Dare. Take a risk.”
“Risk, what risk?” He was confused now.
“Explain to me why you did it.”

Don't miss the rest of the story! 

Next up, on the 6th May, is part 6 by Jane Lark. While you're waiting why not discover a bit more about her, and her books
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