Book signing

shellfactory

I’ll be one of seven local SW Florida authors signing our books today.

Book signings are a bit of a gamble. You never know how many people will show up and if they’ll be interested in your books. While I’m there, I hope to get the email addresses of lots of people to add to my newsletter list.

If you live in the area, I’d love to meet you.

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You should be dancing

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Have you ever taken a Zumba class? Isabella “Izzie” Ramos, the heroine of the third book on my Calusa Town Tales Island Dream, is a zumba teacher.

I’ve taken two different Zumba classes. The first was at a gym. The teacher was young and extremely energetic. I went twice a week for a while but came home exhausted, dripping with sweat. When I caught a cold, I stopped attending and never went back.

The second “class” (really just a group of women with a DVD similar to this one) was far too easy. I barely had to exert myself. That one didn’t last long.

Some years ago, I used to go to Jazzercise classes. They were by far my favorite. Now, living on an island as I do, I can’t find a class close enough to go to. The nearest one is at least a 45 minute drive. I need the exercise, but not that much.

How about you? What is your favorite form of exercise? Do you participate in Zumba?

If you’d like weekly information about clean romances, please consider signing up for my newsletter. Email me at Fran@RusticatingintheTropics.com and I will send you a link to “Girls of the Month,” a short story I wrote based on my experiences dancing with Calendar Girls Florida.

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Shh!Thievery afoot

 

herbs

If you’ve read the first book in my Calusa Town Tales, The Lady Is a Mayor, you know it features orchids. I admire them but have not had any luck with them. I have only had an orchid myself once, but I just had to try to repot it and killed it. The lady who lives up the street from me has some beautiful orchids nestled in her avocado tree. She would be wise to keep watch.

I have a confession to make. You see, out front of my home, I am coaxing along a few plants I rooted from purloined cuttings. I snapped a stem of Mexican petunia from the landscaping around Carrabba’s Restaurant (don’t judge.) I also have a plant with a small yellow flower whose name I don’t know that I broke off a neighbor’s plant. On my windowsill, I am trying to get roots on a plant with a bigger yellow flower that I got caught breaking off from a different neighbor’s yard. I have been eyeing those showy flowers since Christmas and finally gave in to temptation. Fortunately, he was not angry.

Dotted here and there around my home are pineapple plants that I started from the tops of store-bought fruit. Every once in a while, I get a pineapple and believe me they are the sweetest, most delicious pineapples I have ever tasted.

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I also have a garden in my backyard with plants I actually paid for. In it are mint, oregano rosemary, and thyme. I really like cooking with fresh herbs, and my husband likes a sprig of mint in his morning tea. In addition to the herbs, I have a jalapeno plant that keeps going strong and a cherry tomato plant. The other day, I noticed a new “volunteer” plant that looks like a tomato. Apparently, a seed from last year took off.

 

I also have a key lime tree that has been out back for a number of years and a Meyer lemon tree planted last year that has yet to produce fruit. Oh, and a huge coconut palm out front.

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Are you a gardener? I’d love to hear about the plants in your yard-whether stolen or paid for.

 

 

You can’t make this stuff up

 

Making Time with the Maestro

When I was writing this book, I had to think up a way to put my fictional opera company in jeopardy. What I came up with was making the soprano star so sick that she could not go on.

To my surprise, this happened in real life yesterday.

As I have mentioned before, I sing with the Symphonic Chorale of Southwest Florida. In the morning at the rehearsal of Verdi’s Requiem, the soprano soloist was singing softly and remained seated instead of standing up. I chalked it up to her trying to conserve her voice for the performance.

That night, our conductor told us a different soprano would be singing. The first one was too ill to perform. In an enormous stroke of good fortune, the symphony located a soprano who had just sung in Naples, FL, right down the road. And she knew the Requiem and had sung it before. She stepped into the role with four hours notice and no orchestra rehearsal, and carried off this difficult music brilliantly.

Here is the curtain call. Sometimes life really does imitate art.

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Stepping back

Surrender the Past

After suffering a brutal attack at fourteen, Elinor Abbott avoided men, finding refuge in America until war sent her back to England’s shores. Viscount Easton, wounded and sent home, falls for the unrefined beauty on the voyage home. Can Easton help her overcome her aversion to men? Can Elinor conquer her fears and give love a chance?

Seasons of Change

Cruel pranks motivated by jealousy spoil her betrothal and send Lady Beatrice Chalcroft, daughter of a Duke, into rustication at an orphanage in Scotland. Lord Vernon decides to move on and forgo love, until a chance meeting awakens his heart to Beatrice, but he isn’t sure love is enough to overcome her shrewish ways.

Seeking Redemption

Lady Lydia Markham and Lord Nathaniel Fairmont find love in a whirlwind season, but a tragic incident caused by his wild behaviour force him to leave abruptly and join Wellington. He comes home and unexpectedly runs into Lady Lydia–but will secrets and war spell disaster for rekindling their romance?

Shadows of Doubt

Gwendolyn Lambert’s finds her life reduced to penury and homelessness after her father is killed in a duel, and her invalid mother dies. Her godmother, the Dowager Duchess of Loring, is determined to see Gwendolyn taken care of and restored to her rightful place, and schemes to bring her handsome grandson up to scratch as Gwendolyn’s perfect love match. But will they be able to overcome being separated by oceans, storms, and the interference of scheming mamas?

Second Chance

The Dowager Duchess of Loring has a chance meeting with a flame from the past–Luca Faranese, Conte de Salerno–a man who was never able to forget the woman who stole his heart. Fate gives them a second chance, but will their love be enough to keep them together forever the second time around?

“Johns’ wonderful,well-crafted characters come alive in this engaging series…These characters are well written and lovable and will keep readers turning the pages.”-LibraryJournal

“Elizabeth Johns’ books have never disappointed. From the cover to the last page, these books are amazing. The stories are all well-written, and while they can stand alone, they are even more enjoyable with every additional book in the series.”-K. Simpson

“I had a hard time putting them down! I also love that she is so talented in redeeming characters into honorable and endearing heroes. Each story stands alone but I found myself leaving each one wanting to know more. She delivers in each book. I’m hooked and will hunt down everything Elizabeth Johns writes. Bravo!”-C. Miller

Author Elizabeth Johns

National bestselling author Elizabeth Johns was first an avid reader, though she was a reluctant convert. It was Jane Austen’s clever wit and unique turn of phrase that hooked Johns when she was “forced” to read Pride and Prejudice for a school assignment. She began writing when she ran out of her favorite author’s books and decided to try her hand at crafting a Regency romance novel. Her journey into publishing began with the release of Surrender the Past, book one of the Loring-Abbott Series. Johns makes no pretensions to Austen’s wit but hopes readers will perhaps laugh and find some enjoyment in her writing.

Johns attributes much of her inspiration to her mother, a retired English teacher. During their last summer together, Johns would sit on the porch swing and read her stories to her mother, who encouraged her to continue writing. Busy with multiple careers, including a professional job in the medical field, author and mother of small children, Johns squeezes in time for reading whenever possible.

Giveaway Details
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 3/13/19

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from Clean Wholesome Romance and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Rewriting fairy tales

Her Beast of a Billionaire Boss by Lucy McConnell

When Bella Creer’s father has a heart attack and is unable to finish his contract for Adam Moreau, a ruthless lawyer based in Seattle, she steps in to take his place and save The Cove Phase II.

Adam, a billionaire who lives in a secluded castle on a cliff, is gruff, demanding, brilliant, and injured. An acid attack left its mark on Adam’s face but it’s his heart wounds that Bella sees clearly.

As she takes on the management of a multi-billion-dollar project, Bella’s confidence in herself strengthens and her attraction to Adam grows. But Adam didn’t become the best lawyer in the state by making friends and the wolves circle, ready to attack him at his weakest. Bella will have to be stronger than she’s ever been just to survive. And, before it’s too late, she’ll need to realize that her true power lies in her ability to love beyond measure.

This clean romance will sweep you away to a castle where maids do your laundry, a cook makes lobster for dinner, and there’s a beauty parlor in the basement.

Welcome to The Cove

With heavy iron gates, two security stations, and a groundskeeper’s cottage, The Cove has everything a billionaire could ask for in a home. Dubbed Billionaire Bachelor Cove because of the resident’s single status and income portfolios, The Cove is the perfect place to hide away from the world. But, as the residents soon find out, they can’t hide from love.

“I loved this story and the authors style of writing. The story flowed easily and held my attention. Good , clean with no sex or swear words. Would recommend to all ages.”

“Brilliantly scripted and a fun read! The characters are engaging and strong. They draw you in and have deep chemistry in this sweet and clean read. I didn’t want this story to end though I was itching to see how the nicely crafted story concluded.

I especially love that the story seemed to occur over a long time span and conversations/intetactions were not superficial.

Am glad it’s part of a series and hopefully we’ll encounter the characters again.”

“I really enjoyed the characters, the subtle plot twists, and the growth of the main characters’ relationship. It was a fun read and hard to put down.”

Uncle Philip broke the silence and Adam’s concentration. “You remind me so much of your father.”

Adam slapped the folder shut. He had enough information to win the case. “I hope you mean that as a compliment, because it’s been said both ways many times.”

The lines around Philip’s eyes had softened. “Same noble brow. Same wavy blond hair. Though I think you’re an inch taller than him.”

“The old man just rolled over in his grave.” His father never gave him an inch in life; it was unlikely he’d give him one in death.

“I offered to take you, you know. After Alicia passed.” Philip ran his thumb over the swollen knuckle on his ring finger. “Your father had other ideas.”

Adam stared out the window as the early days of boarding school, the loneliness, and the emptiness of a child still mourning his mother washed over him like a soft Seattle drizzle. He took in the man across from him. A simple man with a simple life—a life that would have made Adam soft. “Thank goodness for that,” he muttered. At least his father had saved him from a small and unimportant life.

Uncle Philip sighed. “You have more in common with him than your looks.”

This time Adam understood that the words weren’t a compliment, though they were spoken with honesty. The realization unexpectedly stabbed, like a thorn in his flesh. No matter. He would shortly prove that being fierce was better than being … whatever it was Uncle Philip wished him to be. He lifted the folder. “This should only take a moment, and you’ll be on your way.”

The car stopped in front of King County Courthouse. The aged gray building was shaped like a letter H, with two columns of justice connected by a tunnel of office space. There were decorations on the exterior to recommend it as an architectural beauty.

Impatient, Adam threw open the door before his driver had a chance to open it for him and marched towards the entry. He was single-minded in his movements and didn’t notice the woman in the yellow dress until their hands touched on the door.

“Oh!” she exclaimed, a smile blossoming on her face.

Feeling a jolt up his arm, Adam gave her his full attention. Her brown hair was pulled back in a style reminiscent of the 1940s with a few thick, loose curls bouncing to her chin and framing her enchanting, heart-shaped face. She had large, doe-like brown eyes that dropped demurely as his cheeks colored.

He never blushed. The sensation was enough to knock him off his course. She smelled of lilacs and fresh rain.

“I’m so sorry. You go first,” she said. Her voice was strong and yet a caress that drew him near. He had the strangest feeling that he’d like to slay a dragon.

He thrust the door open and motioned for her to enter. “I insist.”

“Thank you.” Her cheeks dusted pink, and for the first time in his life, Adam was quite out of his mind over a woman. He couldn’t remember where he was going or why it was important.

“You look lovely,” he said, not even sure the words made it out of his mouth. He didn’t throw out compliments to strangers. Heck, he didn’t compliment anyone.

Her smile deepened. “Thank you. I’m meeting my fiancé upstairs. We’re getting married today.” She nodded once, her smile lighting up the entire lobby and cracking through the plaster he’d applied to his heart long ago, and then she was off to the elevators and he was left feeling as though he’d missed the opportunity of a lifetime.

Author Lucy McConnell

Award-winning author, Lucy McConnell, loves Christmas, romance, chocolate and Elvis.

After graduating from the University of Utah, she became an editor at an advertising agency before moving on to teach in the marketing department of the local community college. She loved teaching and often misses the academic environment.

Lucy retired from teaching and began to write articles and sweet romance novels. She has been published in national magazines, newspapers, short story compilations, and she writes cookbooks under the name Christina Dymock.

If she’s not at the computer, you can find her trying to keep up with her husband and four kids on the ski slopes, on a bike, in the kitchen, or on a horse.

Giveaway Details
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 3/11/19

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from Clean Wholesome Romance and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Batty for opera

Making Time with the Maestro

 

Today is National Opera Day.

I have been interested in opera ever since I was a teenager. This is somewhat a mystery. While I come from a musical family, I don’t recall any opera being played at home.

In my early twenties, I was very briefly a part of the opera company led by Josephine McGrail in Pittsburgh. We rehearsed choruses from Carmen, Cavalleria Rusticana, and La Traviata. I still remember most of the lyrics. Life intervened, however, and I never got the chance to perform these on stage.

Years later in Florida, I was in the chorus of a production of Amahl and the Night Visitors. You can read about that experience in my mini memoir I Guess I’ll Keep My Day Job. Not long after that, I was in a concert version of the second act of Die Fledermaus. I also included the story of that performance in my memoir, and I used many of those details in Making Time with the Maestro. 

In the past few years, I have had the pleasure of singing various opera choruses as part of the Symphonic Chorale of SW Florida along with the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra. In fact, I was sitting on the stage at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall before a concert when the idea of Maestro came to me.

Do you like opera? Making Time with the Maestro is free today only. Let me know what you think.