How to start a summer book club

Welcome summer! The warm weather season is officially underway. For many people, summertime is an opportunity to slow down and enjoy life. If personal obligations like school, family, or work keep you too busy to participate with a book club during the rest of the year, consider setting up a summer book club. Not sure where to start? Here are some tips and suggestions.

Identify potential book club members. This can include friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, etc. Consider the tone and theme of the club to help determine the best fit of members. Do you want a casual girls’ night out or something for a range of ages?

Determine when your book club will meet. This will depend on members’ availability. Are most people available during the day or in the evening? How about weekends? Where will the group meet? Decide on frequency and how long meetings will be. Don’t be intimidated by logistical details. Book clubs don’t have to be hours and hours long. How about an hour meet-up at the local coffee shop? The goal is to merge your love of reading and time with special folks.

Decide what book(s) members will read. Your book club can be any format you choose. Instead of everyone reading the same book, maybe members share recommendations and brief critiques of books they are reading independently. If you prefer a more traditional approach, where everyone reads the same book and shares a discussion, check a best-seller list or accept suggestions from members. Put the list of titles to a vote and go from there. Here is an article with the year’s most anticipated book club reads.

Recruit volunteers. Invite members of the group to help organize the book club:

  • Someone to send out meeting reminders
  • Discussion moderators
  • Refreshments (if appropriate)
  • Research, such as author bio, book club discussion notes/questions

Decide on ground rules/meeting format. Will the conversation be casual or is each person expected to contribute to the dialogue? How will the moderator/group handle interruptions, keep the conversation on topic and make sure every person has a chance to be heard? Develop a list of questions to facilitate the discussion.

Read, relax and enjoy!

Do you have tips for setting up a book club or book recommendations? Post your comments here!

Meet Surf Dog Ricochet

I love dogs. They are noble and heroic and worthy of being included in my romantic suspense stories. For many years, Gus and Talley, my two Golden Labs, were my constant companions; they inspired me to include four-legged characters in my books because of the unique relationships people and animals share.

When I was researching topics for today’s blog, I came across a website for an impressive canine–Surf Dog Ricochet (or Ricki, as she is called). The achievements of this very special SURFice dog® highlight the endearing qualities of all service dogs: loyalty, personality, dedication, steadfastness, comfort and unconditional love.

After “flunking out” of training as a service animal, Ricki’s owner wasn’t sure what to do with the puppy.  She enjoyed surfing and, at fifteen months, took third place in the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge surf competition. Ricki’s knack for surfing created a unique opportunity for her to work with special needs kids and peoples with disabilities on the water.

One of Ricki’s other talents is her ability to detect stress and anxiety in people. This is one reason therapy dogs are being used to treat service members with PTSD and children with autism. Read more on this on Ricochet’s website.

Over the course of Ricki’s career as a therapy dog and philanthropist, she has raised almost $500,000 for various causes, won top dog awards and become a media star. You can read her story in Ricochet: Riding a Wave of Hope with the Dog Who Inspires Millions and catch her in Super Power Dogs, which comes out in 2018.

Part of what is most inspiring about Ricki’s story is that her “pawsome” success as a surf therapy dog was not intentional. That’s a wonderful reminder that when life doesn’t go as planned or we fall short of our goals, there is still the potential to become or experience or achieve something amazing.

See Ricki’s incredible photos and learn more at her website: www.surfdogricochet.com.

Photos of Ricochet used with permission.

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Happy Mother’s Day to the Fur Baby Moms

I saw this adorable greeting card and it reminded me that Mother’s Day means different things to different people. The second Sunday in May has become a celebration of motherhood in many forms, an all-encompassing acknowledgement of the caring and nurturing contributions of all women in our society.

That includes all the fur baby moms.

Being a mother is all about dedication, unconditional love, teaching, tending, healing, inspiring and encouraging others. For all of those moms who love and adore their fur babies, have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

If you have a fur baby, share a photo and tell me how you’ll be celebrating your special day.

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Supporting Military Working Dogs

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a dog lover. Grayce Walters, the lead character in my contemporary romantic suspense series is also a dog lover, and I’ve included several canine characters in the Grayce Walters series.

I have a special place in my heart for military working dogs. These four-legged service members contribute so much to their units. If you’d like to learn more about military service dogs, check out these organizations dedicated to honoring and assisting active and retired military dogs.

 

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The United States War Dogs Association – features war dog history, information about the U.S. War Dogs Memorial, and how to participate with this organization.

Save a Vet – provides adoption and rescue support for military and law enforcement working dogs.

Operation Military Care K9 – collects and distributes care packages to military working dogs and their handlers.

Kevlar for K9s – works to provide bulletproof vests for working canines.

 

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If you would like more stories or information about military working dogs, check out these sites or click HERE for a full listing of military working dog organizations/resources.

Dogs of the Navy SEALs

The Dogs of War

Canines in Combat

10 Things You Might Not Know About Soldier Dogs

Dogs of War: 23 Facts You Never Knew About Military Working Dogs

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I’m in control…or do I just tell myself that?

0e82b11Today is I’m in Control Day. This is one of those amusing, made-up “holidays” like National PB & Jelly Day (April 2) or Blah, Blah Blah Day (April 17). The idea of “control” struck me as a timely blog topic, since I struggle with this concept when it comes to my writing career. Is control reality or myth? Let’s see…

Yes, I am in control

As an author, I control many factors: what I write, release dates, marketing strategies, price point, distribution, cover art, social media content, newsletter outreach and participation at reader/author events. I also have complete creative control.

No, I am not in control

When I sit at my desk and make decisions about my books and publishing career, it feels like I’m in control. I ponder and plan, carefully considering each factor for maximum success.

And then I release my book and realize I have zero control.

I cannot control who buys my books, what reviewers say about my books or if my books will be bestsellers. It’s daunting to realize how much control other people have when it comes to my books–readers, reviewers, bloggers, advertisers and booksellers.

It’s really a collaboration

Absolute control is never a good thing. Relationship experts encourage people to learn how to compromise so that everyone walks away from a negotiation with something that matters to them. I think collaboration might be a better approach than struggling to control everything.

If I collaborate with my publishing partners (readers, reviewers, bloggers, advertisers, booksellers, editors, agents, other authors), then we all stand to benefit. My publishing career will grow and expand. Readers will enjoy well-crafted romantic suspense stories. Reviewers can write honest, positive reviews. Advertisers can trust they are promoting a quality product.

The only bad part about this? I’m going to need a new mug for my Starbucks passion/green tea.

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Five Fascinating Facts about Regency-era Weddings

AWC_1400x2100One of the reasons many readers enjoy historical fiction is that it provides a glimpse into the lives, relationships and traditions of different countries and eras. Weddings and marriage are, by far, one of the most fascinating topics to research.

Here are five interesting facts I discovered about weddings and matrimony during the Regency era while writing my upcoming release, A Wedding Code (The Code Breakers series book 5, releasing April 25, 2017).

For many centuries, marriage was not based on love, but as a strategic alliance between families for monetary, social or political gain. Marriages were often arranged when the bride and groom were still children.

Although the popularity of love matches began gaining popularity in 18th and 19th century England, demonstrating passion for one’s spouse was considered déclassé.

Almack’s, a London social club, became one of the most prominent “marriage marts” of Regency England. Debutantes, who once sought to be presented at the King’s court, vied for vouchers from Almack’s patronesses so they could be presented there instead.

Regency brides did not commission gowns exclusively for their wedding. Most gowns were re-worn. Although any color or pattern was acceptable, blue, white, silver and light-colored hues were most popular. Instead, many brides cherished their wedding shoes as treasured keepsakes.

 

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Brides were given a wedding ring during the wedding ceremony, but men did not wear wedding rings.

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What is your favorite contemporary or Regency-era wedding tradition?

An Inner Fire now on audio

Fans of contemporary romantic suspense can now enjoy An Inner Fire, book 1 in the Grayce Walters series, on audio. Em Eldridge gives voice to the Grayce, an intuitive animal acupuncturists and reluctant amateur sleuth from Seattle.

Enjoy the trailer for this new audiobook release.

Available on Audible, iTunes and Amazon.

Grayce Walters, animal acupuncturist, harbors a secret. She hides her intuitive gifts from the world until she becomes embroiled in arson on Seattle’s waterfront. As a key crime witness, Grayce must convince the attractive, logical, by-the-numbers fire investigator, Ewan Davis, that the fire she witnessed is part of a larger criminal conspiracy. Grayce embarks upon a mission to gather proof of the dangerous threat. She enlists the help of her cross-dressing best friend, her street-wise assistant, and Davis’ poodle, to conduct her own investigation. As her feelings for Davis shift between white hot passion and cold fear, Grayce must risk exposing her secrets to safe Davis’ life. Davis must accept things, he can neither see, nor understand to solve the mystery and finally find the love he has stopped believing in. With nudges from the protective poodle, Grayce and Davis confront shocking betrayal and international crime on the rain soaked streets of Seattle.

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Women Sleuth Mysteries Giveaway

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Have you read my novel, An Inner Fire? For a limited time, you can enter to win the book plus more than 45 fantastic Women Sleuth Mysteries from an amazing collection of authors, PLUS A KINDLE FIRE!

Enter the contest by clicking here: bit.ly/women-sleuth-myst

Be sure to check out the books from these award-winning and bestselling mystery authors.

Alana Albertson
Angie Fox
Ann Charles
Barbra Annino
Christine Kling
CJ Lyons
Connie Shelton
Dale Mayer
Danielle Lenee Davis
Deborah Brown
Dee Ernst
Denise Grover Swank
Dianne Harman
Emily Kimelman
Fiona Davis
Heather Sunseri
Jacki Delecki
Joanne Pence
John Sullins
Josie Brown
Joy Ohagwu
K.J. Emrick
Karen McCullough
Kathi Daley
Kelle Z Riley
Kelly Miller
Kristi Belcamino
Libby Fischer Hellmann
Linda Fulkerson
Lindsay Emory
Lynn Emery
M. Louisa Locke
Maggi Andersen
Mara Jacobs
Marcy McKay
Melissa Storm
P.B. Ryan
Paisley Ray
Pamela Fagan Hutchins
Patricia Rice
Sara Rosett
Seeley James
Sibella Giorello
Suzanne Jenkins
T.K. Wilde
Toby Neal
Vered Ehsani
Vicki Hinze

 

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3 Reasons to attend a Reader/Writer Event

One of the rising trends in the book community is the proliferation of reader and writer events. Back in the day, authors used book signings as a venue to connect with readers. With the closure of many brick-and-mortar book stores and the evolution of the digital marketplace, traditional book signings are a less popular option, especially when compared to everything a reader/author event (sometimes called a reader appreciation event) offers.

If you haven’t attended a reader/writer event, here are three reasons to finish the chapter you’re currently reading and find an event to explore today!

  1. SWAG! Event coordinators usually assemble a goody bag for attendees, but authors also have lots (and lots) of goodies. Tip: Bring an extra tote or backpack to carry all the great stuff you collect. You can always tell the hardcore readers who have attended events before because they bring those wheeled-shopper carts!
  2. Make new book friends. Everyone at a reader/writer event is there because they love books – reading them or writing them. This fun and friendly environment makes it easy to chat with strangers. You might even make a new BBF (book best friend)!
  3. Meet the real person behind the book cover. Have you ever wondered what your favorite author is like in real life? Connecting in person gives you chance to bond over shared interests, laugh over an inside joke or just express how much you enjoy their work.

Each reader/writer event is different. Some last a few hours; some a few days. Some are free; some require paid admission. Some include a variety of genres; some are genre specific. Most include a book signing and opportunity to mix and mingle with authors.

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I’m participating in the Reader & Writer Event in Seattle, June 3, 2017. This event includes more than 50 authors, hot cover models and other “bookish” fun. If you’re in the area, get a ticket before the event is sold out. If not, look online for other reader/writer events and have a great time!

Seattle Reader Writer Event

Reader and Writer Author Event – Seattle, WA

Featuring authors and cover models!
June 3, 2017 – WithinSodo, Seattle, WA
Tickets:  http://readerswritersevents.com/product-category/seattle-17/
Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1693884950856549/

Excerpt: A Cantata of Love (Regency Romantic Suspense)

Research is one of the reasons I love writing Regency-era romantic suspense. Digging into history is fascinating and these factual events often inspire my plots. A Cantata of Love, book 4 in the Code Breakers series, features spies that use music to transmit secret messages. Here is an excerpt for you to enjoy.

JackiDelecki_ACantataofLove_HR1-200x300About the Book

Napoleonic France is no place for an Englishman, especially Michael Harcourt, the Earl of Kendal, who is on a clandestine assignment for the Crown. Already injured and facing imminent discovery by Napoleon and Fouche’s men, Michael finds his escape made even more perilous when he is charged with the safety of a young boy who must be spirited out of Paris.
Desperate to escape the terrible fate that awaits her if she remains in France, Lady Gabrielle De Valmont must disguise herself as a boy and rely on the cunning of a virtual stranger—an Englishman, no less—to smuggle her out of the country. When the Earl’s injury becomes severely infected, rendering him gravely ill, Gabrielle realizes it is now up to her to save them both.

Excerpt – Prologue & Chapter One

1803
In the seaside town of Berck, France

Gabrielle De Valmont brushed back Lord Kendal’s blond curls and applied the wet cloth to his burning brow. His long, golden waves and eyelashes accentuated his fiery red cheekbones. In their days of hard travel from Paris, the earl’s gunshot wound had festered into a nasty infection.

At this moment, he rested. For days, when the fever spiked, he thrashed about, calling out about sending a code book to a woman named Henrietta.

Desperate to soothe him, Gabrielle discovered that he would calm with the French songs of her childhood.

They couldn’t hide much longer without being discovered by Napoleon’s or Fouché’s henchmen. When the earl’s condition had worsened to the point where he could no longer travel, Gabrielle had brought them, under cover of darkness, to her former mémé’s tiny village of Berck, south of Calais.

For eight long days and nights, she had cared for the feverish earl. Their presence in the tiny town couldn’t be kept secret much longer. They must leave Berck, and France, soon. But how could they flee with the French soldiers on high alert, inspecting every boat crossing the English Channel?

Monsieur Denby, Lord Kendal’s valet, had assured her that he had a plan to divert their attention.

Exhausted and despondent, she beseeched the Blessed Virgin for their safe escape and the earl’s recovery.

She also prayed that the earl would forgive her and Mother Therese for their deception. She had to believe that Lord Kendal would never abandon her to her terrible fate.

***

Michael Harcourt, the Earl of Kendal, woke to a soft voice and the delectable smell of a woman. She smelled like wildflowers. And her voice was soothing and sweet. Last night must have been one hell of a night of dissipation since he remembered nothing. But he had dreamed of his French mother crooning to him.

What was wrong with him? He had been in bed with a French woman, and he’d thought of his mother. His head ached as if horses had trampled over him. He tried to remember her name—Yvette? Or was it Mimi? He cracked open one lid. Big blue eyes the color of cornflowers stared down at him, and a lush, pink lower lip pouted. How could he have forgotten this angel’s name? Yvette. Definitely Yvette. “Yvette? Or maybe Mimi?”

He needed her again to refresh his memory. He raised his arms to pull her against him. He grabbed for her, but his arms felt weak. Thank God the rest of his body wasn’t that tired. She yelped when he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her on top of him. “Yvette, darling. Don’t fight me. I need you.”

Yvette gasped and tightened against him. He rubbed himself against her slender body. Not his usual type, he noted. Clearly not an opera dancer by the slender frame. What had he drunk last night that he couldn’t remember this delectable handful?

“Let go of me,” she hissed.

He whispered against her soft, tender neck, kissing her ear. “Were you this feisty last night?”

“Let me go, you brute.” She shouted in his ear, causing his head to feel as if it were cracking wide open. She jumped back, tripping on the bedclothes and knocking the water canister from the side table. The loud crash reverberated in his head.

Women didn’t fight him. He was a generous lover. Was he overlooking something from last night?

Michael looked at the disheveled, bewitching woman glaring at him. Hair the color of honey sparkled in the morning sunlight, but her bright eyes were now dark and stormy.

Damn, damn. She looked far too innocent and way too marriageable. What had he gotten himself into?

He rearranged the bedding to hide the obvious, then lifted himself to the head of the bed.

The mademoiselle didn’t look so much offended as just plain pissing mad. Her eyes had narrowed, and she glowered at him—the look of a woman who might impale him with the fireplace poker. He had gotten into a lot of scrapes, but this wasn’t how he imagined finding a wife.

The door to his bedroom swung open, knocking against the wall. The pain behind his eyes pounding like a son of a…

Denby, his valet, stormed into the room, swearing under his breath. “What the hell? Are you alright, Mademoiselle Gabrielle?”

She gestured with her hands and spoke in rapid French to Denby. Had she just called him, the Earl of Kendal, a “stupid horse’s ass”?

Denby took the irate woman’s arm. “I’ll clean up the mess. Now that he’s awake, you should prepare yourself to leave. We’ve a long journey ahead of us.”

With no word of farewell, the Mademoiselle Gabrielle huffed and left the room.

Denby chuckled. “Barely awake and already causing problems.” He bent to pick up the water container. “It is good to see you back, my lord. You scared the hell out of me. If it weren’t for Mademoiselle Gabby’s nursing, I’m not sure…”

“I’ve been sick?” He did feel a bit weak after his tussle with the delectable young woman.

“You developed a fever right after we escaped from Paris.”

The memory of fleeing Paris and Fouché’s men brought him totally awake. “My last memory is leaving Paris dressed as a nun.”

Denby handed him a glass that had survived the mademoiselle’s spirited response. “You developed a fever from your gunshot wound, and we had to hide out here. This is where Mademoiselle Gabby’s nanny is from and the people helped us.”

Gabby. He didn’t have any recollection of Gabby when they left Paris. “How long have I been out? And who is Gabby?”

“I’m glad you’re ready to travel. I’ve got a bad feeling if we don’t get out of here soon, all of Fouché’s and Napoleon’s men are going to descend.”

He only remembered Denby, and the boy, Pierre, fleeing for their lives dressed as nuns. He had stolen the code book from Le Chiffre, and everyone in Paris seemed to be after him. He wondered if Henrietta had received the book.

“Any news from England? Do we know if Henrietta received the package?”

“I haven’t been able to make any contact. We’ve been in hiding. I’ve arranged for a boat from Calais. They’ve been waiting for a signal that you’re able to travel. We go tonight with the tide. I want to get us out of France. I can’t breathe here.”

“Did you shake the villain who was posted at my house in Paris too?”

“Yes, but we can’t stay here any longer. I’ll change the bandages and get you some breakfast. You’ll rest up before we make the trip. We have to go by horseback, and I hope it won’t open your wound.”

He suddenly was assailed with the ignominy of the location of his wound. He had been shot in the arse by an unknown assailant while fleeing after he had stolen the code book. The code book, literally, was a pain in his arse.

He sure hoped to hell it gave England a tactical advantage against the power-hungry Napoleon.

For more information or to keep reading, click HERE.

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