I'd like to welcome Sara Walter Ellwood to the Lair. She's celebrating the release of her latest book, Heartland.
Singing to the Heart Book 3
Sara Walter Ellwood
Releasing June 21, 2016 in both ebook and print
Sex, drugs, and country music. That was the lifestyle for Emily Kendall, a Texas girl who hit it big on the country music charts—until she found herself pregnant and battling addiction. Now out of rehab and seeking a new life for herself and her unborn child, Emily returns to her hometown of McAllister. The last thing she’s looking for is trouble, no matter how good it looks in uniform…
A widower, single father, and former Army Ranger struggling with PTSD, Sheriff EJ Cowley has his own demons to battle while keeping folks safe. The last thing he needs is a troubled celebrity speeding through town in her bright red Maserati. But when someone from Emily’s past threatens her safety and the peace of McAllister, EJ has no choice but to protect her. And soon both will learn there’s more to the other than meets the eye. And that wounded hearts can love again…
“I’m sorry, but I can’t ride you right now.” Emily kissed the horse above her nose, and Tink nuzzled her cheek. “We’ll go out tomorrow. How about that?”
“I remember when you rode that horse everywhere you went.”
Startled by the deep voice, she turned. EJ Cowley leaned on the top rail of the fence, and from the look of it, he’d been there for a while. He’d changed out of the brown uniform of the McAllister County sheriff’s department. She couldn’t help looking him over. Dressed in worn boots, faded jeans, a blue western shirt, and a brown Stetson, he epitomized every sexy cliché existing about how a cowboy should look.
Her heart sped up at the way those clothes fit him. Which irritated the hell out of her. She turned back to her horse and stroked her long face. “What are you doing here?”
“My sister-in-law watches my son while I’m at work.”
She stilled. Had she been quasi-lusting after a married man? Hadn’t he married Raquel Marshall? She glanced over her shoulder at his left hand. No ring. But then a lot of cowboys didn’t wear their wedding bands when they were working. The risk of getting it caught on something was too great.
Despite his clothes, he must have come off duty as the county’s ticket-happy sheriff not too long ago. She patted Tink’s shoulder. “See you in the morning, girl.” As she headed toward the man, who was not hiding the fact he appreciated what he saw, she guessed he wasn’t still married, but she’d been around the world a few times and knew not to take a man’s blatant interest as proof of anything. “You have a son. How is Raquel these days?”
She was close enough to notice his gray eyes had turned as haunted as a gravestone when she asked about his wife. He looked to the left, toward his brother’s house, and from the way a muscle twitched in his jaw, he must have gritted his teeth.
“She committed suicide two years ago today.”
“Oh… I’m sorry. I didn’t know,” she stammered. What else had happened to the people she’d once considered friends she was unaware of? “How old is your little boy?”
He took a deep breath and met her gaze again. She studied his eyes as they moved over her face. God, he had the most fascinating eyes. They weren’t truly blue, but the gray was an odd shade. Too light to be slate, but too dark to be silver. They reminded her of her great-grandmother’s pewter candleholders.
As silence engulfed them, she turned to head for the gate. She had no idea what was up with the sheriff, and she didn’t like her desire to ask. EJ Cowley may have filled her schoolgirl fantasies, but she wasn’t the wide-eyed kid who crushed after the local cowboy-turned-soldier.
At the sound of her name, she glanced past EJ to the porch. Johnny stood there with his toy lightsaber and x-wing. She promised to play a video game with her brother. “Well, it was good seeing you again, EJ.”
She was halfway across the drive when his voice stopped her. “By the way”--He cleared his throat--“I lost your ticket...”
Stopping in the middle of the driveway, she looked over her shoulder at him. His face puckered as if he’d eaten a lemon soaked in vinegar. He took his hat off and ran a hand through his short hair. The setting sun turned the tresses a gleaming gold.
“You lost it?” Damned if she’d make it easy on him. “After going through all the trouble of stopping me a mile away from home?”
Setting his hat back on his head, he cleared his throat again and stood with his feet apart. He gave a quick jerk with his head in the affirmative. “Can’t find it anywhere. No ticket. No proof. You’re off the hook.”
Holy crap, he was gorgeous, and heat flooded her to pool in her belly. She turned, not wanting him to see the way he affected her, and headed for the porch, then lied through her teeth. “Good, because I’ve already tossed it.” She had every intention of paying the fine, but she was glad he lost the ticket. No decent cop would lose a ticket. Maybe he did it out of remembrance of their childhood friendship. Or was he as attracted to her as she was to him?
With an inward shake of herself, she didn’t let a possible answer formulate in her muddled brain. She couldn’t be anything to him. You’re pregnant with another man’s child and don’t need the added stress! At the door into the kitchen, she ruffled Johnny’s hair and turned, ignoring her self-admonishment. “See you around, EJ.”
“Yeah… See you around.” He tipped his hat and turned on his heel to amble toward his extended cab Silverado.
From inside the screen door, she watched the way he filled out the backside of his Wrangler’s and muttered, “Hell yeah, I hope so.”
If you’d like to see more excerpts check them out here: https://sarawalterellwood.wordpress.com/singing-to-the-heart/heartland-book-3/heartland-excerpts/
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/heartland-sara-walter-ellwood/1122713773?ean=9781601834911
Although Sara Walter Ellwood has long ago left the farm for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her contemporary westerns. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for over 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia. Sara Walter Ellwood is a multi-published and international Amazon bestselling author of the anthology set Cowboy Up. She also dabbles in the paranormal genre with her The Hunter’s Dagger Series, which was previously published under the pen name Cera duBois.
The other books in Singing to the Heart…
Heartstrings, Book 1 and Heartsong, Book 2 are also available in ebook and print
Heartstrings: Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Heartstrings-Heartsong-Book-Walter-Ellwood-ebook/dp/B00IGFX7BA/
Heartsong: Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Heartsong-Book-Sara-Walter-Ellwood-ebook/dp/B00VZZM6A6/
For other vendor links and book information check out my website page: https://sarawalterellwood.wordpress.com/singing-to-the-heart/
So the last few days I've been thinking about hobbies, specifically the hobbies of a couple of my characters. These hobbies drew me to these characters from the first. Although I don't do this specific craft, I so get the need for a way to relax or express creativity. For these characters, their hobbies are a big part of who they are. It has something to do with abilities they possess, but it's also a passion for them.
One small thing can make a character real.
For one of them, it's a passion that she'd love to make at least a part time job. She crafts jewelry and loves wearing it almost as much. The other character, he's got the talent for his craft, but he's starting a new life in the city as a police officer. He's also involved in a case. He hasn't had time to take up his old hobby, much less what role it will play in his life here.
There are other reasons I'm sympathetic to the male character, but his draw to his craft even when he hasn't had a chance to do it also hits a note. I can relate to these characters so much and it's making getting through the scenes so much easier.
And onto the update. Revisions are almost finished. I'm making good progress on Guardians' Desire and Fiery Bliss. At the moment, those are the two that I'm focusing on. Although I'll probably get back to the other plotted WIP by the end of the week.
One of my big goals was finding joy, both in my life and in writing. There have been some ups and downs on that front, but overall, I'd call it a win. I find reasons to smile and look for things that make me laugh. I'm focusing more on the happy and not letting the stress and drama beat me. I still have plenty to think about on a couple of fronts, but at the moment, the positive and what I need to do now to move forward are driving me.
Another of my goals was to become more organized and be more productive with my writing. I don't know if I mentioned that one. I have been more productive and have gotten a little more organized. On one hand, trying to become organized has been good. It's let me be more aware of what I'm doing and why I'm either getting the words in or not. On the other hand, my quest to become more organized in my writing has also led to trying to build or find a better progress tracker that suits me and everything I want it to do. Can we say 'time suck?' That's what it's been.
I have also begun organizing my ideas folder into a document so that I can clearly see what needs work before I begin work on it and what is ready to go. That's not a time suck. I give it a few minutes or so and input a few of the ideas before I move on.
On the writing front, the words are coming, sometimes in spurts and starts and other times they flow. It's the revisions that are killing me. At the beginning of the edit, I didn't realize the book I'm working on was this broken. Looking at my list of things to do is daunting and makes me want to put it back down. My mantra has become: One thing at a time and it will get done.
Today, I'm giving you an excerpt of one of my current WIP, Fiery Bliss. To be honest, the title will probably change. As a temporary title it works, but it's not fitting with these two people, their personalities or their talents.
Violet and Theron are in the park, having a picnic.
Violet and Theron are in the park, having a picnic.
“Something happened before you left or did you lose touch while you were in Florida?” Theron frowned. She’d said she’d been homesick. He could see her trying to keep in contact if it was possible. It might not have been possible if there was danger to her though.
“Something happened between us before I left, but I don’t want to talk about it right now. I need to see if I can reestablish the relationship, but I’d rather talk with them first.” Violet looked down at her plate.
“That’s all right. We still have a lot to learn about each other. We have time. I’m not going to rush you into anything that you’re not ready for.” He brushed his fingers across her cheek. He’d like to lean in and kiss her, but she still looked sad. He didn’t know whether she afraid to talk about it or perhaps embarrassed, but he wanted her to feel free to tell him anything.
She looked up at him and smiled. “Thank you. How has your first few days as a police officer been? Have you managed to get in touch with the realtor?”
“My first few days have been tiring. I like Alden Glen and have enjoyed learning the streets in the daytime. My second day, I rode along with Alex on his normal patrol. I am curious about what’s going on here though.” He accepted the change in subject, but noticed that she’d put her food to the side and scooted over closer to him.
“I think we all are. Curious that is. Especially me after what happened with my tires.” Violet put her hand over his.
Theron glanced down. The touch was encouraging, but he didn’t know if he was reading too much into it. He didn’t want to move too fast wither and lose the trust she’d given him. He could tell that taking chances as she had when she’d asked him out was something she didn’t normally do. He had a feeling she didn’t trust too easily now. It probably had something to do with what had happened to her before she’d left here. It took will not ask for more details on that.
“Did you have any trouble with taking off from work that day?” He glanced down at her.
“No, I said I had to file a police report and get new tires. They were understanding. It helped that I was able to do some of the stuff from home after we finished. If it became something that happened again and again. Yeah, they’d probably have an issue with it.” Her fingers brushed across his cheek.
He leaned into the light touch. She cupped her hand behind his neck before she grazed her lips over his. The soft flesh barely touched his, but it left him wanting more. He opened his mouth and nibbled at her lips. He didn’t want a soft feather light touch. He wanted to feel her lips pressing against his as they both became lost in the kiss. His tongue thrust against her lips and she opened for him. Her arms slipped around him. Her breasts pressed against his chest. He could feel the hardened nipples even through the fabric of her shirt. His hand grazed over her hip and up over her ribs. He cupped his hand over the firm mound.
The sound of a shrill shriek silenced the birds. Theron lifted his head and looked around. He saw children playing in the clear field area. Other people walked around the park or sat on benches. He drew in a shuddering breath. Fuck. Much more and he would have slipped his hand into her shirt.
“I didn’t want to stop you.” She straightened away from him and pulled at the him of her shirt.
“I didn’t want to stop. It felt so good, but it’s probably a good thing that we were interrupted.” He laced his fingers through hers. Even though they couldn’t kiss, he didn’t want to stop touching her.
But since I have a list of what needs to be done, seeing the highlighted marks over the scenes I've finished shows me that I really am cutting through what needs to be done.
I added a step to my revisions because this book needed it. I knew I needed to break down the book and find the weak spots. So I went through scene by scene making a list of the major problems.
In this book, it's a lot of adding scenes. I found I'd left some holes and gaps in the plot that left huge story questions unanswered. Can't do that.
At times, I have to remind myself that each book is different. Some need to be cleaned and spruced up, maybe a minor scene rewrite. Others need to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up. This one is not quite that bad.
I am excited about the changes I've made to it though. It's already so much better than it was when I began. I still have a few scenes to add to it, but I'm feeling better than when I did my first read through.
I know which book will be next on the list to revise. It doesn't need as much work so it should be a quick revision without tons of added scenes that take the word count upward and consume more time. Sometimes adding words in revisions is so much harder than actually getting words down in the first place. You need to make sure that you're not putting in dialogue about something that happens two scenes later. It's a lot of double checking.
Also this week, I revised a couple of my spreadsheets that I use to keep track of my word count and characters, etc. I needed some different ways to categorize my progress and track how I'm doing. Once I started thinking about it, I had to get it done. (It became one of the things my mind fixated on and it interfered with other things.
Now, I have to go find two pages of notes (not revision related which is why they aren't with me,)
sit down and crank out some new words on the WIP.