Did you ever try speed-dating?

Speed-dating wasn’t a thing when I was single (shortly after the last ice age), but the subject comes up in my friend Marin Thomas’s new Love at the Chocolate Shop book, Sweet Home Cowboy.

speed dating

I had so much fun READING these Speed-dating scenes, I wound up WRITING one–from MY characters’ points of view–in MY book (Sweet Summer’s Kiss), which releases next month. I can’t wait to see how many readers make the connection and what they think of the idea.

two pair of cowboy boots

Here’s a snippet from Marin’s book, followed by a snippet from mine. Same scene…only different.

Rosie opened her mouth to speak then frowned at a woman two tables away from Elena. “Gretchen, I thought you were dating someone?”

“As I keep telling people—my sister in particular, one date does not a relationship make,” Gretchen said, not looking up from the menu.

“Especially when the female half of the equation disappears without leaving so much as a glass slipper behind.”

Gretchen’s chin shot up as a hunky-looking stranger slipped into the chair across from her. “Hi, Cinderella. Fancy meeting you here.”

“Daniel. What–?”

“Let’s save the chit-chat for the event,” Rosie said. “Each date will last three minutes and the lady will ask the first question. After the gentleman answers, he’ll ask the next question and so on and so forth.”

“What are these for?” Gretchen’s new tablemate asked, holding up a notepad and pen with the chocolate shop logo on them.

“Feel free to use the paper and pens to jot down names, phone numbers or anything else that will help you remember each other,” Rosie said. “When the timer goes off, the ladies will remain seated and the gentlemen will move down one table, then we’ll begin another date.”

“When do we get to sample Sage’s chocolate candy?” Wren asked.

“After the first round we’ll take a break. Sage picked out a lovely Cabernet Sauvignon donated by the Two Old Goats wine store to go with her chocolate wine covered coconut stuffed dates.” Rosie held up the plate of chocolates from Elena’s table. “Sage would like to know what you think of her chocolates, so please fill out the questionnaire before you leave.”

Rosie returned the dish to the table. “Before I forget to mention it, the chocolate shop will host a second speed dating event a week from today. If you’re interested, there’s a sign up sheet on the counter.” She twisted the knob on the timer. “Ready…set…begin.”

“What’s your last name, Wesley?” Elena asked.

“Banks,” he said. “Where are you from, Elena?”

She frowned. “You’re not going to ask my last name?”

“You can’t answer a question with a question.”

“Las Vegas.” She nodded to his hat. “Are you a real cowboy?”

“Born and raised on a ranch north of Livingston. How old are you?”

“Twenty-five. How old are you?”

“Twenty-seven.” He narrowed his eyes. “Do you have a boyfriend?”

“I had a fiancé but not any more.” She ignored the questions in his eyes and asked, “Do you live on your family’s ranch?”

“No. I’m the caretaker of a rural property outside of Marietta. What do you do?”

“I’m an elementary schoolteacher. What’s your favorite color?”

“Brown.”

“Then why are you wearing a blue shirt?”

He shook his head. “My turn.”

The cowboy was a stickler for rules.

 

Sweet Summer Kisses Open

In case you’re curious, my hero and heroine met on New Year’s Eve and she left in a bit of a rush–not unlike Cinderella, although she kept both of her shoes on–this is Montana, after all.

As she stowed her bag under her chair, she heard a voice say, “Gretchen, I thought you were dating someone?”

I wish.

She picked up the menu Rosie had left on the table. “As I keep telling people–my sister, in particular, one date does not a relationship make.”

Gretchen kept her focus on the menu to avoid any other personal questions, which left her completely blindsided when a male voice said, “Especially when the female half of the equation disappears without leaving so much as a glass slipper behind.”

Gretchen’s chin shot up as Daniel Andrews slipped into the chair across from her. “Hi, Cinderella. Fancy meeting you here.”

“Daniel. What–?”

Rosie cleared her throat to get people’s attention.

“Let’s save the chit-chat for the event,” Rosie said. “Each date will last three minutes and the lady will ask the first question. After the gentleman answers, he’ll ask the next question and so on and so forth.”

Daniel picked up a notepad and pen with the chocolate shop logo on them. “What are these for?”

That same crazy zing she’d spent five months pretending she’d imagined shot through her system at light speed, blocking Rosie’s answer.

If Jonah could isolate and duplicate the chemical reaction that happens every time Daniel comes close to me, he’d make a fortune.

Not that Jonah needed money. According to Krista, he’d bought a cute little “starter” home a few blocks from his and Daniel’s parents’ to live in with Krista and their puppy until their new dream home–a future wedding present–could be designed and built.

Luckily, Krista’s move had opened up her condo so Gretchen could move into Marietta—a opportunity that meant she could avoid buying a car for the time being. Her bike had been a fraction of the cost and she loved the exercise. Fluctuating hormones also meant fluctuating weight gain. One reason she limited her chocolate consumption.

And Krista had sublet at a reasonable price because Gretchen’s six-month internship didn’t pay very well. Which meant…I live alone.

The thought hummed through her body as if the past five months hadn’t happened. No roommate to introduce Daniel to if I wanted to take him home tonight.

A pleasant warmth not unlike her body’s reaction to a gulp of Copper Mountain Chocolate Shop’s cocoa filled her mid-section.

So wrong on so many levels. No. Not happening. Nothing’s changed.

“You go first.”

Her breath caught in her throat when she realized Daniel was talking to her. “Pardon?”

He tapped his watch. “We only have three minutes. You ask the first question. Then it’s my turn.”

“Oh.” She folded her hands on the table in front of her and wet her lips. “Why are you here?”

“I like chocolate.”

Liar, she mouthed.

His grin lit up the room. “My turn. Why did you disappear?”

“Crisis of conscience. I did it for your own good.”

His beautiful ebony eyebrows pulled together above his elegant nose.

“My turn again. Why are you here?” She made a circling gesture. “In Marietta.”

“Job opportunity. Starts Monday.”

A clutching sensation in her belly warned her there was more to this answer, but he didn’t give her a chance to ask. “I’m a big boy. Don’t you think I’m capable of deciding what’s good for me and what isn’t?”

“You don’t know me.”

“I know more than you think.”

A skitter of panic vibrated through her body. Some locals called Marietta the gossip capitol of the world. But he couldn’t know the truth about her. Her sister the pastor was the only one with that knowledge. “Guessing doesn’t count. I should go.”

He reached out but didn’t touch her bare arm. His fingers hovered, like a magician ordering a rabbit to appear. “Can we go somewhere and talk when this dating thing is over?”

Maybe she owed him that. An explanation. The one she’d decided covered all bases without really saying anything. It seemed to work with her new girlfriends, maybe Daniel would buy it, too. “Okay.”

Before she could say more, Rosie’s timer went off. Daniel got up with the same ease and grace he’d shown when they’d danced. He studied her, his eyes searching for something she couldn’t give him before turning on one heel and walking to the next table. She didn’t recognize the pretty young woman with the messy brown hair and warm complexion seated one table over, but she didn’t have time to decide whether watching Daniel flash his trademark smile at another woman made her jealous or not because her view was blocked by a pair of wide shoulders and a black cowboy hat.

Each male to sit across the table from her had merits of his own but none held a candle to Daniel Andrews’s pure charisma. The Two Old Goat’s cabernet paired perfectly with Sage’s chocolate wine covered coconut stuffed dates. She’d just filled out Sage’s survey when a familiar touch closed about her elbow. “If we’re quick, we can slip out before they start Round Two.”

She froze. “What if you miss out on meeting Ms. Right?”

He rubbed his nose against the side of her cheek and put his lips to her ear. “I’ll settle for Ms. Right Now.”

And, darn, if her traitorous body didn’t want the exact same thing.

 

Have a great weekend, everyone! I’m off to a car show. Some of the vintage models are actually older than me. ;-)

Deb

PS: Marin Thomas has a couple more days of Speed-Dating fun on Facebook. Prizes galore and you get to hang out with Marin Thomas!!! Here are three of the links! Have fun!

https://www.facebook.com/LoveattheChocolateShop/

https://www.facebook.com/MarinThomasWesterns/

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMarinThomas/

New cover choices! You pick!!

Here’s something fun for your Friday: help me decide which font for my new cover. Do you like 1) or 3)? (Number 2, which was my hubby’s fave, was already eliminated by Jane Porter’s readers.) ;-)

or

sweetsummer3

This cover is for my July release, which I’m hard at work on. Leading up to that release, however, my Love at the Chocolate Shop colleagues have two yummy books for you to devour.

Newly released yesterday is THE CHOCOLATE TOUCH by Melissa McClone. (Click on image to buy from your favorite vendor.)

the chocolate touch cover

 Chocolate expert Chantelle Cummings arrives in Marietta, Montana with two goals—sign copies of her new book and research a quaint local chocolate shop. When she meets former Air Force captain York Parker passing out chocolate samples, her visit turns sweeter than she ever imagined.

Or you can preorder June’s SWEET HOME COWBOY from Marin Thomas. (click on cover)

Sweet Home Cowboy cover

 When Marietta newcomer Elena Puente is coerced into attending a speed-dating event at the popular Copper Mountain Chocolate shop, she’s blindsided by a serious attraction to local cowboy, Wesley Banks.

 

Happy reading, my friends! And, please, your input would be so appreciated. Which cover grabs you? 1 or 3?

Deb

To Grandmother’s house I go…

In 1989, when my husband and I bought a five-acre parcel in the Sierra foothills not far from Yosemite National Park, my mother, who had been a widow for two years, decided she wanted to be closer to family so she bought the five-acre parcel next door. My hubby, a general contractor, built her a sweet little two-bedroom two-bath home as soon as he finished our big house.

“Grandma’s” was a favorite spot for kids and grandkids. Mom enjoyed it for many years, until she stopped driving. Then the country became a bit too isolated. We helped her rent the house and move into a Senior Living center. Eventually, we bought the house and built my husband a new shop on the property. Our son and his family lived in it for ten years. But in January, Jon-Paul bought his first home in nearby Mariposa–a fixer-upper that his dad helped remodel. We are celebrating that wonderful accomplishment at his HOUSEWARMING tomorrow!

With Mom’s house empty, I saw my chance to DOWNSIZE! New paint, new flooring, recessed cans…my poor hubby went from one remodeling project to another. But he’s a great sport and he loves me and this house is closer to his shop… ;-)

Here are a couple of BEFORE shots. Next Friday (if I’m done moving), I’ll send you the AFTER.

Before

In addition to this move, I just typed THE END on my NEW book, BLACK HILLS LEGACY: The Inheritance.

BlackHillsLegacy_3DBook

I’m so excited about this book. It was great to re-visit my Black Hills series and reconnect with some of my favorite characters. I can’t wait to share this with you. Release date: April 18. I’ll have all the preorder information next week, along with a sneak peek excerpt.

On another fun note, the creative geniuses at Tule have helped to shine the spotlight on three books that sort of fell off the Big Sky Mavericks series flagship. We’ve rebranded these titles and given them their own series flash: Love, Montana. More about this later, too.

Love, Montana

Click on the image to check out these great new covers.

There’s paint to watch dry, boxes to pack and a new Love at the Chocolate Shop book to write, so…it’s off to Grandma’s house I go.

Have a great weekend, my friends! Happy reading!

Deb

Happy St. Patty’s Day – celebrate with a new romance!

The corned beef is in the crockpot. The cabbage is large, crisp and looking pretty. The carrots were freshly picked by my granddaughters from my neighbor’s organic truck farm (Yes, I do live in paradise.) And I even bought Guinness. :-) Who else is ready to party?

St. Patricks Day dog

I’ve celebrated St. Patrick’s Day for as long as I can remember, but I don’t remember why?

imgresMaybe to honor Bridget O’Brien — my great-great grandmother? Somehow that seems unlikely.

imgresMaybe because it’s starting to feel like spring? The green grass is ready for mow #3.

imgresMaybe because I never think to buy corned beef any other time of the year?

I really don’t know. Why do you celebrate this odd holiday on March 17th?

Regardless of the motivation, I do have a special WAY to celebrate. I plan to finish reading CHARMED BY CHOCOLATE by Steena Holmes. I started it last night and I must say…I am charmed.

charmed by chocolate cover

When Leah ran off to Southern California, she hoped to leave freezing cold winters and unrequited love behind. She was never meant for a small town life and the timing with her longtime best friend–and secret soul mate–was always hopelessly off.

But after a mishap on the hit reality show Charming, Leah declares her love for Wade nationwide and is publicly dubbed “Lonely Leah.” She returns to Marietta to hide at her family’s home–from the media who wants to turn her into a human interest story, from the townspeople upset with her blunder, and most of all, from Wade, who wants to talk.

It took Leah leaving town to wake Wade Burns up to the reality that he’s head over heels in love with his best friend. But now that she’s back home, she’s giving him the cold shoulder. With chocolate and a grand gesture, can Wade charm his way back into Leah’s heart?

AMAZON  BN  IBOOKS  KOBO  GooglePLAY

It’s garnering delicious reviews. I think you’ll enjoy it, too.

CHARMED REVIEW 2

“I thoroughly enjoyed this story of a second chance romance. Leah has returned home to Marietta, which she never wanted to return to, after embarrassing moment on a reality tv show to lick her wounds. Wade has never left Marietta and has always loved Leah. Their timing has always been off in the romance department but now he has one more chance to move his love with chocolate and fun things to do around Marietta. The whole town is rooting for this couple.

This was great addition to the Chocolate Shop stories. Many laugh out moments through the story. Plenty of chocolate and home made goodies that will leave you hungry. I highly recommend this book along with the rest of the series. Can be read as a stand alone.”

~ Shari, Goodreads Review

Happy St. Patty’s Day, my friends!

Deb

Judge a book by its cover…please!

Contests abound, but one of my favorites is the Houston Bay Area RWA “Judge A Book By Its Cover (JABBIC).  And this year MONTANA SECRET SANTA, my lovely, innovative original watercolor cover from artist Rhian Awni, made the cut.

Color me delighted!!!

salonen-chocolateshop-medium

Did I tell you I called my editor at the last minute in a panic when I saw the first draft and realized I’d left off an important element? “We have to put a jacket on the beagle. No jacket and I’ll get roasted by dog lovers for abusing my beagle,” I cried. Next version: the beagle has a jacket. Whew! Kerfuffle avoided.

I also love how the artist captured the longing of someone being on the outside looking in and the hopeful patience of the dogs!

I’d so appreciate your kind vote–and while you’re there, check out these other great covers from Tule Publishing. You can vote for as many as you like!

40.jpg-nggid03411-ngg0dyn-300x900x100-00f0w010c010r110f110r010t010      65.jpg-nggid03425-ngg0dyn-300x900x100-00f0w010c010r110f110r010t010   64.jpg-nggid03448-ngg0dyn-300x900x100-00f0w010c010r110f110r010t010      27.jpg-nggid03402-ngg0dyn-300x900x100-00f0w010c010r110f110r010t010

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Click here to: VOTE

Have a great weekend, everyone! Happy reading!!

Deb

My 2017 resolution, what’s yours?

I have one simple resolution for 2017: more nature, less drama (unless it’s in my books).

the-earth-has-its-music-for-those-who-will-listen-george-santayana

I took this photo on the hilltop behind my daughter’s house. The wind seemed to be talking to me, but we’ve been out of touch too long. I couldn’t make out all the words. It broke my heart a bit.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Are you successful in making them stick?

A friend of mine suggested I try this site for inspiration, but I have to admit I’ve been too busy to do more than glance at it:

KaiZen https://medium.com/the-mission/get-1-better-every-day-the-kaizen-approach-to-self-improvement-b79c9e045678#.fp833xyyy

One of the quotes that made sense to me was: “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily”—Mike Murdock

That’s where nature comes in. My goal is to walk–and breathe deeply–every day. I am determined to give myself time to connect to the world outside my busy, frantic brain and truly focus on the world around me.

Will I be successful? Time will tell. All we can do is try, right?

Have a very happy New Year’s Eve, my friends. I’ll see you in 2017.

Deb

PS: If your resolution includes reading more, I do have a fun story that opens at a masked ball on New Year’s Eve.  You can start reading for FREE here: MONTANA REBEL.

rebel-mask-1

Let’s Read Holiday Books!

I love to write–and read– Christmas stories. I’m going to list a few that I’ve enjoyed recently, along with my new one, which I’m so thrilled to say received a lovely review from Library Journal!

verdict-sweet-affecting-and-just-plain-fun-this-holiday-charmer-is-a-delightful-addition-to-the-series-and-a-perfect-companion-to-a-mug-of-hot-chocolate-and-a-crackling-fire

I’m working like mad to meet a deadline before the birth of my new grandbaby, so hopefully I’ll be able to share some photos in a week or two. Please feel free to add your holiday reading suggestions in the comments. I’m always looking for new books and authors.

santa-meme-2-deb-salonen

MONTANA SECRET SANTA, Bk III Love at the Chocolate Shop, Tule Publishing

KINDLE: http://littl.ink/MTSSAmazon

NOOK: http://littl.ink/MTSSBN

iBOOKS: http://littl.ink/MTSSIB

KOBO: http://littl.ink/MTSSKobo

GooglePLAY: http://littl.ink/MTSSPlay 

AMAZONAU: http://littl.ink/MTSSAZAU

AMAZONCA: http://littl.ink/MTSSAZCA

AMAZONUK: http://littl.ink/MTSSAZUK

start reading for FREE: http://littl.ink/MTSSTule


Other great holiday reads, including Dani Collin’s delightful:

Free! Don’t miss out. Click image.

I love all of Jane Porter’s holiday stories, especially this one:

cover_porter_kidnappedchristmasbride-672x1024

And don’t miss this wonderful new release from Jean Brashear:

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Click on image for Amazon link to 99¢ special sale, for a short time only!

Happy reading, my friends. See you next Friday…with a new baby in my arms, I hope.

Deb

 

 

 

#whatlovetasteslike

That’s the hashtag for Tule Publishing’s new “Love at the Chocolate Shop” series, which launched yesterday with the release of MELT MY HEART, COWBOY by C.J. Carmichael. melt-my-heart-cowboy This is a lovely, sweet romance with a focus on family and being open to new possibilities. There’s a secondary character–the hero’s sister who has developmental challenges on the Autism scale–that touched my heart.

When my hubby and I were visiting our old home town, we recalled a man in our neighborhood named Lee. Lee was probably ten or more years older than us, but his mind was…”different.” He didn’t understand things like personal boundaries and social graces. He was very sharp where certain things were concerned (remember Dustin Hoffman in Rainman?) and completely oblivious about things we took for granted. He once flew to Chicago, wandered around the airport for four hours and flew back home, where his worried parents were waiting for him. A triumph and complete success in his mind. He boasted about “visiting Chicago” for months. We went to college, moved away and completely lost track of Lee. His parents were old (well, everyone over 25 was old to us back then) and I never heard mention of siblings or other family. As we drove past Lee’s family’s house, we shared our memories of him–both funny and poignant in hindsight.

I wished I’d been a bigger, kinder person to Lee. I wish I’d been more like Rosie Linn in C.J.’s book. Do you have a “Lee” in your life? I’d love to hear.

You can read the first chapter of MELT MY HEART, COWBOY here: start reading for free.

I’m so excited to have a book in this line-up. Don’t you love the covers?! chocolate-four-covers I know I mentioned the Facebook Release Party last week, but here’s the schedule. I’d love to hang out with you on Wednesday, Oct. 12, from 3-8 PM (Pacific). You’ll have to join the Main Street Marietta private group to participate–and be eligible for all the great prizes–but you’re not obligation to remain in it once the party is over. chocolate-shop-party-times-jpg Have a great autumnal weekend–and stay safe Floridians and all those in Hurricane Matthew’s path.

Deb

#whatlovetasteslike

And we’re off…

Hubby and I are leaving for South Dakota in the morning. It’s been two years since I’ve been back. I’m really looking forward to a taste of autumn.

deb-in-south-dakota-2014

Plus, it’s been a crazy busy month for me so far.

Wednesday was release day for my new Black Hills Rendezvous book: BLACK HILLS NATIVE SON. This book always tugs on my heart. It came to me one night as I closed my eyes and a voice said, “There’s an old black woman who lives in my head.” As you might imagine, that caught my attention. I tried to ignore it, but I HAD to find out more so I went to my office and wrote–just wrote. I was too tired to think, so what came out was quite a story. One I knew belonged to Char Jones, a member of the Wine, Women, & Words book club. And once I met Eli, I was seriously hooked.

elis-question

Here are the links, chickadee:

NOOK: http://littl.ink/BHNSBN 
Amazon: http://littl.ink/BHNSAZ 
KOBO: http://littl.ink/BHNSKOBO 
iBOOKS: http://littl.ink/BHNSiBook 
GooglePlay: http://littl.ink/BHNSPlay
AmazonUK: http://littl.ink/BHNSAZUK
AmazonCA: http://littl.ink/BHNSAZCA
AmazonAU: http://littl.ink/BHNSAZAU

Yesterday, I turned in my manuscript for my next Tule Publishing book. I’m super excited about MONTANA SECRET SANTA because it’s part of a 12-book series with 5 fabulous, celebrated and successful authors: C.J. Carmichael (who’s 2015 Tule Christmas book just sold to Hallmark!), Melissa McClone, Roxanne Snopek, Steena Holmes, and me. Here are the first three covers. Aren’t they gorgeous?

love-at-the-choc-shop2

SAVE THE DATE : Oct 12, from 4-7 PM (Pacific) to join us for a Launch Party in the Main St. Marietta Facebook group. You’ll need to join the group to attend, but feel free to leave after the event! Click here to go to the group. There will be prizes!

revised-chocolate-shop-invite

I may not have the best wifi during my stay in South Dakota, so if I’m not here blogging here next Friday, you’ll know why. But hopefully I’ll be here to share some great fall photos.

Happy reading, my friends.

Deb

Autumn is here. What happened to summer?

First, let me apologize for being MIA for the past couple of Fridays. This is what happens when you overbook your life–with good things, don’t get me wrong. But when you’re go, go, going and you’re some place that doesn’t have wi-fi (yes, those spots exist, believe it or not), something has to give. For me that something was blogging.

Quick catch up. So this happened:

Annual High Country Creatives Retreat, which included my son and granddaughters this year since we had some cancellations. It was fabulous. We hiked, soaked in hot springs at the wonderful Muir Trail Ranch, swam in icy lakes at 10,000′ elevation (by swim, I mean I jumped in and survived the shock long enough to get out without dying), road horses and–best of all–my eldest granddaughter and I collaborated on a young adult novel. Discussing motivation, story arc and point of view made the trip worth every penny. And the views weren’t bad, either.

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on-our-way-out-after-4-glorious-days

I went from 7,400′ to sea level…

debsalonen-beach-game-of-thrones

San Simeon Revision Intensive - me, lap top, sand, waves and editor notes for my next Tule Publishing book: MONTANA SECRET SANTA. Good news: my editor loves the story. Extra good news: I love, love, love my new cover!

salonen-chocolateshop-medium

Available for pre-order on iBooks now, but it will available wide 12/6/16. PREORDER.

~~~

And there’s this: I got my rights back to the only Black Hills book my former publisher had retained. Smack-dab in the middle of my 9-title series. But, now, that book is officially mine again, and I couldn’t be happier. I worked with a freelance editor and my favorite cover designer to get this into production ASAP. It’s been a crazy few weeks, but I’m very proud of the end result and excited to add Black Hills Native Son to my Black Hills Rendezvous series.

bhns-release-jpeg

Releasing wide on Tuesday, but available for pre-order on all platforms:

NOOK: http://littl.ink/BHNSBN 
Amazon: http://littl.ink/BHNSAZ 
KOBO: http://littl.ink/BHNSKOBO 
iBOOKS: http://littl.ink/BHNSiBook 
GooglePlay: http://littl.ink/BHNSPlay

~~~

So, I’d like to tell you I’ve settled back into my comfortable routine and I’ll faithfully blog every Friday, but…I leave next week for a trip to South Dakota (more research for my next Black Hills book) and I have two self-pub books releasing in October (what was I thinking?!), so…all I can do is try. Thanks for your patience and your interest. And thanks to my fellow Storybroads for putting up with me.

Happy reading,

Deb