Excerpt: COMFORT PLANS by Kimberly Fish

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  Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Date of Publication: May 23, 2017
Number of Pages: 320
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Colette Sheridan is being remodeled.

As a San Antonio architect, she’d have vowed her career was to investigate the history and create new functions for the structures everyone else saw as eyesores. The old German farmhouse in Comfort, Texas, might be the screeching end of that dream job. The assignment seemed so ideal at the start; generous clients, a stunning location, and a pocketful of letters that were surely meant to explain the ranch’s story. All that goodness crashed louder than a pile of two-by-fours when her grandfather announced he’d lured Colette’s ex-husband back to San Antonio to take over the family architecture firm. Now, not only does Colette have to endure the challenges posed by Beau Jefferson, the client’s handpicked contractor, a house that resists efforts to be modernized, and letters that may hold the secret to buried treasure, but she also has to decide if she has the courage to fight for her future.
Set against the backdrop of the Texas Hill Country, Colette and Beau have to rely on plans neither of them constructed in order to navigate the changes of a house with a story to tell, and a future they couldn’t even imagine.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Kimberly Fish’s unique writing style snatched me out of my easy chair and plunked me down into the middle of her character’s life where I was loathe to leave when my real life called me back. Her descriptive visual writing drew me in on the first page. Can’t wait to read more stories by Mrs. Fish.”
–Vickie Phelps,Author of Moved, Left No Address


Excerpt, Chapter 1, Part 3

from Comfort Plans

Continued from the Lone Star Book Blog Tours 8/5/17 Stop

Scooping up a handful of chiffon, Colette scooted across the leather driver’s seat and wondered if her grandfather followed-through with a candidate, if a new president at Sheridan’s would gain much traction in the market. The boutique firm specialized in historical restoration and had a niche in South Texas. Since Nathan Sheridan was the guru of that style, she doubted anyone would ever replicate the success her grandfather had maintained in an industry that could change on the whims of the stock market.

Point number twelve for why he needed to groom a stronger replacement.

She backed out of the driveway but stole one last glance at the man who never went a day without Brylcreem. His custom-tailored shirt was rolled at the sleeves, and he was wearing his dress slacks on a Saturday night. The Big Ben of her world—he was classy, reliable, and just as unbending as any national monument London had ever produced.

He was flagging her to roll down her window.

Colette cranked the window below her nose. “Yes?”

“Aren’t you at all curious who I’ve finally selected to manage my empire?”

Empire was a bit of a leap. The last quarter-profits weren’t anything to get excited about. “Knowing that you would scour the face of the earth to find someone worthy of the Sheridan name and that it’s taken you years since the last serious candidate, I’m hopeful this man is capable of carrying your legacy forward.”

“That’s a lot of faith from the girl who questioned me about the wisdom of maintaining my breakfast ritual at Earl Abel’s.”

He did have a nasty habit of smothering all forms of nutrition with sausage gravy, which was another reason to force him into a doctor’s appointment.

“I’m looking out for your general health because I want you to hang around and torment me for years to come.” Which was true. She adored her resident curmudgeon and delighted in being one of the few people in the world who could make him laugh.

His lips turned down even more than usual. “I’m one of the short timers, which is why I want to know that you and my firm are going to be in good hands.”

She shivered. “Don’t talk like that. You know what Momma says about positive thinking.”

“Your mother is a flake.”

Colette sighed and knew she’d be even later to this wedding than was acceptable. “I can see you want to tell me who you’ve hired, so what’s his name? Or am I supposed to guess based on last month’s Architectural Digest article about the ‘it guy’ from Los Angeles?”

She’d seen her grandfather poring over those pages like they were printed in gold leaf. She hadn’t seen anything brilliant when she’d snatched the article from the breakfast table, but her inability to see modern trends was another excuse she’d offered as to why she’d make a lousy president of the firm.

Finish reading Chapter One on the Lone Star Book Blog Tours 8/13/17 Stop

Kimberly Fish started writing professionally with the birth of her second child and the purchase of a home computer. Having found this dubious outlet, she then entered and won The Writer’s League of Texas manuscript contest which fed her on-going fascination with story crafting.
She has since published in magazines, newspapers, and online formats and in 2017, released the first novel in a series set during the World War II years in Longview, Texas – The Big Inch.
She lives with her family in East Texas.
July 31 – August 14, 2017
(U.S. Only)

Excerpt 1
Books in the Garden
Character Interview
Guest Post 1
Excerpt 2
Video Guest Post
Excerpt 3
Guest Post 2
Excerpt 4
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Excerpt: GAIJIN COWGIRL: A Val Benson Thriller by Jame DiBiasio




Working Tokyo nightclubs is easy money for beautiful and troubled American Val Benson – until a wealthy client with a dark past – reluctantly gives up a map to a stash of Japanese war loot and tempts his favourite girl into a dangerous treasure hunt.
But the Congressman’s daughter is not the only one interested in the map: Yakuza, bent cops, human traffickers, rogue CIA agents and her father are hot on her trail, snapping at her high heels.

So begins the dark, epic journey of a new anti-hero of Asian Noir, a protagonist both ambiguous and courageous, and utterly unreliable. From comfort women and tomb-raiding in Japanese-occupied Burma to the murderous echoes of the Vietnam War, long forgotten crimes come roaring back to life, as Val leaves a trail of destruction and chaos in her wake.

Together with her best friend, the equally unreliable nightclub hostess Suki, a British kickboxer and a washed up Australian treasure hunter, Val travels through Tokyo, Hong Kong and Bangkok to the Thai-Burmese borderlands for a dramatic showdown with her pursuers. Finding the treasure before someone less deserving does is her only hope for survival, and perhaps redemption.

Gaijin Cowgirl by American writer Jame DiBiasio is a breathless page turner with a beautiful, dangerous heroine to match.



Gaijin Cowgirl Chapter One




Jame DiBiasio is the author of thrillers “Gaijin Cowgirl” (Crime Wave Press) and “Bloody Paradise” (Water Street Crime), as well as the non-ficiton “The Story of Angkor” (Silkworm Books). He is based in Hong Kong. Visit him at www.jamedibiasio.com.


Guest Post: What is Noir? by Elka Ray


As an author, editor and avid reader, I’m excited to have been invited to write a guest post for The Librarian Talks.

My name’s Elka Ray. I write crime fiction, mystery, suspense and noir.

If you’re like me, up until fairly recently, I didn’t actually know what noir was. So I’m going to explain it today.


Noir is the French word for Black – which is a clue. There stories are not about rainbows and unicorns – it’s a dark genre.

Noir has its roots in the hard-boiled private eye stories of the 1920s – you know the kind – gritty tales of violence, murder, dirty cops and dangerous dames.

What sets noir apart from those hardboiled PI stories is the main character – in those old PI stories, while the world around them is grim, you know the hero’s a good guy trying to do the right thing. That is not the case in noir. In noir, you’re not really sure if the lead is a good person. Can they justify what they’re doing? Maybe. Is it morally right? That’s trickier to answer.

It’s this moral ambiguity that defines noir.

My latest book – Saigon Dark – is noir and follows a woman who – faced with tragedy – makes a terrible choice. She’s not necessarily a bad person – but she is selfish, isolated and deceitful.

In noir, the main character is often cynical and self destructive. A modern day example would be Gone Girl – you just can’t trust the main point of view. Or The Girl on the Train. The main character is not doing herself any favors.

Another great example of a contemporary noir author is Dennis Lehane. In Live by Night, for example, he leaves you questioning whether a gangster can be a good person.

If you want your stories to be black and white – with a happily ever after ending – noir is not for you. But if you like mysteries that are complex and thought-provoking, give this genre a try.

You can find my latest book – Saigon Dark from Crimewave Press – on amazon. Or visit me at elkaray.com – Happy reading!


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Elka Ray is a UK/Canadian author and illustrator based in Hoi An, Vietnam. The author of one novel, Hanoi Jane, Elka also writes and draws an expanding series of children’s books about Southeast Asia, including Vietnam A to Z, 123 Vietnam! and The Warrior Queens.

For adults, Elka focuses on crime fiction and mysteries. Her short stories have appeared in Monsoon’s Crime Scene Asia: Asia’s Best Crime Fiction 2014 (Hong Kong); New Asian Fiction (India) 2013 and Lontar: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction (Singapore) 2014. Her travel writing has run in a wide range of publications, including Fodor’s, Forbes, Executive Traveller and Persimmon Asian Arts. Elka holds a Canadian degree in Journalism and Asian Studies and a Canadian diploma in Creative Writing. She has a sporty husband and two kids, works as a magazine editor, and has an author’s site at www.elkaray.com.

When Elka’s not writing or drawing, she’s in the ocean.

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Check out her introduction video here


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Good and bad. Life and death. Some choices aren’t black and white.

A grief-stricken young mother makes a rash decision, then spends the next decade living a lie. She’s rebuilt her life and is starting to feel safe when she gets a note: ‘I know what you did’.
Can she save her daughter from her dark secret?


Saigon Dark

by Elka Ray

Black and white. Life and death. She made a choice. Can she live with it?


I am on a Ferris wheel by the sea, in the tropics. Although it’s dark, it’s still hot. A warm breeze lifts my hair and pushes the night’s smells into my nose. I can smell salt, woodsmoke and frangipani flowers, plus the irresistible scent of Vinh, a mix of warm skin, tobacco and cinnamon. The lights of distant squid-fishing boats sparkle on the horizon.

Vinh has both arms around me, shielding me. We are laughing. Our carriage rises and stops to allow more passengers onboard, sways a little. This is repeated: rise, stop, sway. But each time, I’m caught off guard, that heady mix of anticipation, excitement and unease, deep down in my belly.

When the last carriage is full we glide upwards, smoothly. Down below, the town’s lights twinkle. There are more diamond-lit boats out at sea. Vinh pulls me even closer and begins to kiss me.

I have never been happier. I have everything I want and yet the best is still to come. I am heavy with fulfilment and buoyant with anticipation. We glide higher, Vinh’s long fingers twisting in my hair. The carriage sways a little.

And then we are at the top, poised, and everything changes. That warm, salty breeze turns cool. I smell decay instead of flowers. My heart plummets. I will fall. I know this with total certainty, the way you know a dropped stone won’t float. It’s a natural law. It’s the order of things.

I start to twist away, frantically, but Vinh has a hold on me. Just before he throws me out, I wake up.

The dream is always the same. I wake up screaming.

Part 1: Ho Chi Minh City

April 9th, 2005

I’m woken by the sound of breaking glass. A woman screams. It’s the neighbours, again. A boy—one of the older kids—yells, and a younger child starts to sob. I roll over. If only it would stop. Their youngest is smaller than my daughter.

Tired as I am, I know sleep is impossible. How can I sleep when the kids next door are being tortured? Without turning on the light I walk to the window. A row of trees hides their shack from view. I can hear the dad yelling. I want to punch him. But given that I’m five foot one, it wouldn’t help. Another bottle shatters.

Even with the aircon full-blast, I’m sweating. April in Saigon. The hot season. I press my forehead against the glass. My yard lies dark. The child’s cries are louder now. I think of Evie.

The man bellows. While my Vietnamese isn’t perfect, I can understand this obscenity. He’s calling his wife a fucking whore. I unlatch my window. “Stop it!” I yell. “I’m going to call the police!” I wish my voice sounded tougher, without that waver in it.

For a moment there’s silence. But then the guy yells back. “Mind your own business you foreign traitor slut!”

I lean back. While this insult shouldn’t matter, it does, for some reason. I left Vietnam at the age of three, on an overloaded boat. I was lucky to end up in the States. Behind the trees, I can hear the woman sob. I slam my window shut.

What am I doing here?

For a moment, I think of calling Vinh. But what good would that do? Why would he help with this when he’s made it clear he wants nothing to do with us? He’s never even seen his own daughter.

I sit on the bed, fighting the urge to cry. Should I call the police? Would they even come? But then I remember my maid’s warning: The family next door are squatters, landless peasants come to Saigon from the countryside. The authorities would just evict them. Then where would they go—that small, thin woman with her thin dark children and her alcoholic asshole of a husband? I make a fist, feeling angry and helpless.

I’ve just gotten back into bed when my phone rings. My bedside clock glows 2:14. My heart rate picks up again. Is it about my mom? Or an emergency at the hospital? A ringing phone in the middle of the night is never good news. Unless it’s Vinh, calling to say sorry. I take a deep breath, absurdly hopeful. “Hello?”

Lily?” It’s Yna, my best friend in Seattle. Just from the way she says my name, I know everything is fine.

“Yna,” I say. “It’s two in the morning.”

“Oops.” There’s apause. “Sorry.” She doesn’t sound sorry at all. “I guess I got the time difference wrong.”

I met Yna at the University of Washington, where we all went to med school. She and Vinh were the stars of our class, the ones everyone wanted to be–or jump into bed with. During the time Vinh and I specialised as surgeons, Yna did an MBA at Stanford. She just got a new job, managing some investment fund. “Is it something important?” I try to keep the irritation out of my voice. Brilliant as she is, Yna is a ditz—and details like time differences mean nothing to her. Like my ex-husband, she barely needs sleep.

“What’s up with you?” she says. “You sound upset, Li.”

For a moment, I consider telling her about the guy next door, how he beats his wife and kids. How helpless I feel. But how could Yna understand? She lives in the kind of gated community where people call security if neighbours play loud music after 9pm. I can picture her now. Sharp black bob. Size nothing suit. Smart, successful and beautiful.

“I’m just tired,” I say. “It’s been a long week. I’ve been working double shifts. “

“How’s Evie?”

I fight back a sigh. I don’t want to talk about Evie, especially not now. “She’s fine,” I say. “Look, I need to work early, Na, so I’d better get some sleep.”

“The Evergreen Clinic is looking for a plastic surgeon. I told Harvey you might be interested. They have a lot of paediatric patients–“

“I’m not interested,” I say.

“But it’s a great place to work,” says Yna. “Great neighbourhood. Not far from a good school.”

“Yna,” I say. “I’m not ready to leave.”

Throughout our conversation, I’ve heard her tapping on a keyboard. Multitasking. The tapping now stops. “But why?” she says. I can hear the mystification in her voice.

Why indeed? Although I was born in Saigon, I never felt any desire to return. I came because of Vinh, who was raised in an orphanage in Go Vap, then got a full scholarship to study in Seattle. He wanted to go home, said he wanted to give back. Like a fool, I believed him.


I realise I’ve been lost in thought, trying to work out why Vinh changed. Or didn’t he change? I rub my eyes. It’s a waste of energy thinking about my ex. And it makes my stomach hurt. I take a deep breath. “It’s interesting work,” I say. “Meaningful work. Kids without access to modern medicine. Kids with facial tumours and cleft palates. I…I’m doing god things here, Na.”

She sounds unmoved. “Those problems exist here too.”

“I know,” I say. But I also know that the bulk of my work at the Evergreen Clinic would be cosmetic. “I ah, I like it here.” This comes out sounding lame, as it should, since the truth is, I don’t like it here. The real reason I’m staying, which I can’t even explain to myself, let alone Yna, is that being here helps distract me from my failed marriage. If I were back in the States, and back in real life, I’d feel even more humiliated. Everyone I know knew Vinh. They all loved him. How can I explain he was Jekyll and Hyde, the perfect husband back in the States, then AWOL in Saigon’s sleazy bar scene?

These thoughts are interrupted by a child’s scream in the shack next door. My grip on the phone tightens.

“Lily? Are you still there?” From Yna’s somber tone, I know what’s coming next. We’ve had this conversation before. “It’s time you came home,” she says. “Why would you want to deal with this on your own? Has Vinh even seen her yet? Are you still hoping to work it out with him? Two epileptic fits in three months!” Her voice has risen. “She needs medical care they don’t have over there. What tests are you running? Lily? Can you hear me?”

I’m tempted to hang up. I can call her tomorrow and say we were cut off. Instead, I take a deep breath. I know Yna means well. She was charmed by Vinh too, his dark dazzle. She’s almost as bewildered as I am.

I take a deep breath. “I’m a physician,” I say. “And I’m her mom. I’m on top of things, Yna.”

I can hear her sigh. “I hope so,” she says. “I just… You’re so far away. First, everything with Vinh, and now Evie. I feel helpless. It’s like…like bad luck over there.” She gives a nervous laugh. “You know what I’m saying?”

“Evie will be fine,” I say. I have to believe this. “How’s Sofia?”

Sofia is Yna’s baby, conceived after four rounds of IVF. Her voice lifts. “She’s great, Lily. Six months old and already sitting up.” I try to pay attention as she fills me in on Sofia’s latest achievements. But I’m tired. She must realise she’s been rambling because she says: “Wait. It’s the middle of the night. I should let you sleep.”

“Good night Na.”

“Yeah, sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” I hang my head. Vinh and I used to say that to each other. How could he have left me when I was eight months pregnant?

Only after I’ve hung up do I notice that next door, all lies quiet. No yelling. No crying. I guess that bastard passed out.

I wish he’d choke to death on his own vomit.

Interview with Melissa Cutler, Author of One More Taste

Please describe One More Taste in one sentence.

When a brazen chef tries to prove her chops to her sexy new boss, they heat up a lot more than the kitchen.

What can readers expect from One More Taste?

Readers can expect my signature combination of a book full of both humor and emotional resonance…with one seriously spicy romance woven throughout it.

Which of your characters would you most & least like to invite to dinner, from which book and why?

The characters from this series that I’d most like to invite to dinner are all those hot, sexy cowboy heroes (surprise, surprise!). Decker, Micah, Knox, and (from upcoming books) Paul and Gentry. Mmm….sexy cowboy heroes at my dinner table…now there’s a dream come true!

The character from the series that I’d least like to have over for dinner, and which readers of the series would probably agree with me, is Ty Briscoe, the villain of the first three stories.

Are there any differences and/or similarities between Emily from One More Taste and Carina from The Mistletoe Effect?

While Emily and Carina are best friends, they have very different personalities. Carina is all about becoming a mom and not working too hard, which is a shift because she used to be a work-a-holic, which Emily still is. On the other hand, Carina is a rule follower, while Emily is more of a rebel. What they do have in common is that they love each other and their home of Briscoe Ranch Resort very much.

Out of all of the secondary characters within One and Only Texas Series, do you have one or two favorites so far? If so, who are they and can you tell us why?

What a fun question. I tend to write books that have huge casts of characters, so there are lots of secondary characters to choose from. My current favorite is from next year’s release, ONE WILD NIGHT, and it’s the heroine’s grandmother, Mama Lita, who clashes with Granny June at every turn because, while Granny June is the consummate matchmaker of the series, Mama Lita is a wild spirit who doesn’t believe a woman needs a man in her life.

Random Question (so I can try to have your name listed in that color) – What is your favorite color?

Red. Love it!

June Briscoe is one of my favorite characters.  She’s appeared in all the books.  How did you come up with her and her amazing personality (sneakiness, quirks and all)?

She’s one of my favorite characters in the series, too. When I wrote her character’s first ever scene, in scene one of THE MISTLETOE EFFECT, she seemed like an old, strict Italian mafia grandma with old world superstitions at first, which probably would have been fine, but I then wrote a draft that lightened her up and turned her into the scene’s comic relief…and I instantly fell in love with her! Hence, the Granny June we all know and love was born.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

Growing up, my house wasn’t a pleasant one, and so I kept to myself in my bedroom as much as possible. In a huge way I’m grateful for the way my childhood played out, because my imagination flourished. The earliest I can remember writing stories and poems is age four. Writing them and reading books took me away to other times and places and let me live, for a little while, in magical places. Even then, I knew I was a writer, an identity that stayed with me in all the years since.

What do you think most characterizes your writing?

What most characterizes my writing is a combination of humor and emotion weight. I’m really interested in real issues and the struggles that everyday people face in their lives, not just romantically, but with family and friends and their careers. My heroines tend to be quirky, smart, career-focused women and my heroes tend to be blue collar workers. In that way, Knox Briscoe, the hero of ONE MORE TASTE, is unusual. I rarely write about wealthy men because they don’t tend to hold my interest, but what I love about Knox is how he rose to wealth from blue collar roots, which makes his relationship to his wealth and his family really complicated in the best, juiciest possible way for an author to explore.

What question do you wish that someone would ask about One More Taste, but no one has? Please write it out here, then answer it.

Q: Have you ever executed a revenge plot (like Knox does in the story)?

A: Mwahahaha! I’ll never tell! ☺

Q: Has your car or house ever been haunted by a dead relative?

A: No, but I fully plan on returning to my high school to haunt it after I pass away like the ghosts at Hogwarts do in the Harry Potter series. [kids whispering to each other] “They say she never recovered from getting that C in Spanish her freshman year, and now she walks the halls begging for extra credit to raise her grade. Poor, tortured soul.”

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

I can’t decide between these two: 1) controlling the weather, or 2) having the power to heal people with a touch. Either one would make the world a better place in significant ways.

What literary character is most like you?

Depends on the day. You know how it goes—some days you’re George, while other days you’re Lenny. Captain Ahab pops up every so often. And Jack Reacher, sometimes. And then there are those days that we all have when we’re Frankenstein’s monster. Mostly, I aspire to be Olivia, the pig from the children’s picture book. Oh, if we could all be more like Olivia. 



Melissa Cutler knows she has the best job in the world writing sexy contemporary romances and romantic suspense. She was struck at an early age by an unrelenting travel bug and is probably planning her next vacation as you read this. When she’s not globetrotting, she’s enjoying Southern California’s flip-flop wearing weather and wrangling two rambunctious kids.  Find out more at Melissa’s website: http://www.melissacutler.net/.

Amazing Praise For Melissa Cutler:

“Cutler’s engaging, down-to-earth storytelling makes this contemporary romance soar. A prideful, strong-willed heroine in Emily combined with Knox’s toughness and grit, along with the battle-of-wills between them, will appeal to readers. With genuine, delightful secondary characters, a rock-solid plot, and the passionate tension between Emily and Knox, Cutler’s latest is full of humor and heart.”—RT Book Reviews on One More Taste

“Melissa Cutler is a bright new voice in contemporary romance.” —New York Times bestselling author Lori Wilde on One Hot Summer



Melissa Cutler, author of One Hot Summer is back and ready to quench your thirst for romance with her new novel ONE MORE TASTE (St. Martin’s Paperbacks; October 4, 2016; $7.99), where one man will discover that revenge is a dish best served sizzling hot…

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Welcome to the Briscoe Ranch Resort, where love is always on the menu.

Chef Emily Ford has the talent and ambition to make it in the cutthroat culinary world—which is why she refuses to accept her demotion at the hands of Knox Briscoe, the new CEO of Briscoe Ranch Resort. He has grand plans that include bringing in a celebrity chef to helm an exciting new restaurant at the resort, but Emily has plans of her own—to do whatever it takes to change his mind…

Cut out of the Briscoe fortune by an old feud that left his family in ruins, Knox grew up dreaming of revenge. Out-maneuvering his uncle for control of Briscoe Ranch is merely the first step in a grand plan that doesn’t include the brazen and beautiful Emily Ford…or the attraction that sizzles between them. With both their futures on the line, can they keep their desires on simmer—or are they headed from the frying pan straight into the fire?




A knock sounded at the open door. Everyone turned, relieved at the distraction. A woman Knox would recognize anywhere filled the doorway, a folder clutched in her arms and a hard-set look of determination on her face. Chef Emily Ford.


            “Ty told me about you. You’ve worked at this resort since right out of culinary school a decade ago. No internships, no stints as a sous chef at a celebrated restaurant, nothing remarkable, not even a chef competition show on TV. Your whole career, you’ve been here at Briscoe Ranch, laboring in obscurity. If you’re so talented, then why have you been holding yourself back?”

            He watched the shift of her weight from one foot to the other, the extra squeeze she gave the folder in her hand. He’d hit a nerve. Good. Turnabout was fair play.

            “I’m not holding myself back. All the years I’ve worked here, laboring in obscurity”—she said with a scoff—“I’ve had the freedom to cook what I want, every dish completely original instead of imitations of more prominent chefs or attempts to pander to critics’ fickle tastes. Over the last decade, I’ve risen from a graveyard-shift line cook in the room service kitchen to the executive catering chef, one of the principal roles at the resort.” She spun the folder onto his desk and speared a finger on it. “A few months ago, Ty agreed to my proposal to open a high-concept, signature restaurant at the resort. Subterranean, I’m going to call it. We were in the process of securing funding when you showed up and ruined everything.”

            He took a step nearer to her, then another, stopping just short of arm’s length. This close, those freckles on her cheeks came into focus again, as did a faint, hairline scar along her jaw that curved to her chin. He refocused on her furious green eyes. “I did not take this opportunity away from you. Ty did. He was the one who contacted me, looking for investors. My presence here to execute my vision for the resort, as well as the timing of it, was at his invitation. If he let you believe your restaurant would be possible under this new vision, then he was stringing you along. He’s your enemy, not me.”

            Emily blanched, but only for a split second before recovering her wits. “He wasn’t stringing me along. I’m sure he was grooming me for your takeover, knowing you’d want to step up the caliber of the resort’s dining options. He’s not my enemy. He’s the employer who gave me a chance. All I need is an open door and a budget and I will give you the restaurant of your vision.”

            She’d been dead on about his sixth sense and the rush he got with each thrill of discovery. He felt that familiar rush right now while sparring with her. He couldn’t wait for her to leave so he could read her proposal. He should have eaten the damn soup. Now he’d never know what he’d missed. “You and I aren’t so different in our ambition, you know.”

            She sniffed at that, feigning a nonchalance he saw right through. “You couldn’t be more wrong. I possess a patience that you clearly lack.”

            Oh, this woman. She wouldn’t stop pushing his buttons. He felt heat rising on his neck. He had to stuff his hand in his pockets so he wouldn’t give in to the discomfort and tug his tie loose. Emily had no idea how much patience it had taken to wait for the right time to make his move against Ty Briscoe. Years of planning and strategy, years of positioning himself in the right business, with the right connections, silently closing in on his prey, waiting to pounce until the time was right—until the prey thought it was his idea and came to him, on the verge of bankruptcy and begging for a bailout.

            “Prove it,” he heard himself say, not knowing exactly what he meant by the dare.

            Her gaze was unflinching. “How?”

            He had to think fast. “I’ll give you four weeks. If you can prove to me in that time that you’re as gifted a chef as you claim, then I’ll hand you the reins of the restaurant along with whatever budget you require for this . . . Subterranean.”

CREDIT: From ONE MORE TASTE by Melissa Cutler. Copyright © 2016 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks.


LSLL Blog Tour: ARTHUR ZARR’S AMAZING ART CAR by Cathey Graham Nickell

by Cathey Graham Nickell
illustrated by Bill Megenhardt
Genre: Children’s Picture Book/Outsider Art
Publisher: Twenty-Eight Creative
Date of Publication: November, 2015
# of pages: 40


Arthur Zarr is a quiet man with few friends. His life is rather plain, and his car is plain, too. But not for long! When Arthur gets a creative idea to add everyday objects to his car’s plain exterior, he’s noticed for the first time. Neighbors and other bystanders add their own artistic flair to the car, too. What happens when he enters his bedazzled vehicle in the town’s art car parade? Mr. Zarr finds happiness and makes friends by building an amazing art car. In this whimsical story, children learn about recycling, community, friendship building, and the power of imagination. The book includes a “History of Art Cars” page for readers who’ve never heard of this creative form of artistic expression. It also has a subtle ABC theme, as Arthur Zarr adds objects to his art car in alphabetical order! This is the first—and so far, the only—children’s book published about an art car. Suitable for all ages but especially ages 4-8. Illustrated by Houston graphic artist, Bill Megenhardt.
 Praise for Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car:

“Nickell’s book is a treat for sight, sound, and sense, for readers and artcarfans (no, you won’t find the word in your dictionary just yet, anyway) of all levels.”
Lone Star Literary Life.
“A wonderful story of art, opening up to the joys of life, and celebrating the artist in everyone.”—Lynette Wallace, Executive Director, Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, Houston, Texas.
“Cathey Nickell’s book will help fuel the desire to make positive changes in our world through artistic endeavor.”—Alicia Duplan, Assistant Director, Art Car Museum, Houston, Texas.
“Cathey’s story. . . is both engaging and warm. By the end, I found myself rooting for Mr. Zarr. I even felt a small twinge of disappointment when he didn’t win the trophy. Artcar Nation highly recommends this book. Give it to all the children you know.”— Paul McRae, Artcar Nation.

BEER CAN HOUSE, 222 Malone St., Houston, Texas (weekends only). 
BERINGS Baby and Kids Dept., 3900 Bissonnet St. and 6102 Westheimer Rd., Houston, Texas.
BETWEEN THE COVERS BOOKSTORE, 224 W. Colorado Ave., Telluride, Colorado.
BLUE WILLOW BOOKSHOP, 14532 Memorial Dr., Houston, Texas.
BRAZOS BOOKSTORE, 2421 Bissonnet St., Houston, Texas.
CONTEMPORARY ARTS MUSEUM, 5216 Montrose Blvd., Houston, Texas.
THE JUNG CENTER BOOKSTORE, 5200 Montrose Blvd., Houston, Texas.
TOY FAIR at Pierremont Mall, 4801 Line Ave., Shreveport, Louisiana.


Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car – Book Excerpt

Excerpt Image

Neighbors offered to help decorate Arthur’s car, too. One man gave him the fake pink flamingo from his yard. A girl no longer needed her swim goggles. A boy offered his toy helicopter. Another child gave up his plastic iguana. Arthur attached each object to his car. … “We sure like your car, Mr. Zarr!” his new friends shouted and waved as he drove by.

Cathey Graham Nickell is an author, mother, and wife living in Houston, Texas. She is best known as the seeing-eye-person for her little blind dog named Cricket. Cathey launched her first children’s picture book, Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car, in November 2015. She doesn’t drive an art car herself, but she has a habit of covering the back of her SUV with bumper stickers! Cathey also snaps pictures of art cars—which are plentiful in Houston—when she sees them. Her all
-time favorite car was the bright-yellow Volkswagen Beetle that her grandmother drove in the 1970s. 

Cathey draws from her experience as a former newspaper reporter and public relations professional. After taking a few years off to raise four children, Cathey started freelance writing again in 2012 when a non-profit organization called the Institute for Spirituality and Health hired her to research and write its six-decade history. Uniting Faith, Medicine and Healthcare: A 60-Year History of the Institute for Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center was published in 2015. The book is used as a marketing and communications tool, and all financial proceeds benefit the Institute (not Cathey). Cathey graduated from Baylor University with a BA in Journalism in 1985. She earned a Master of Arts from Louisiana State University-Shreveport in 2013. Find her online where she blogs about her writing and publishing adventures.

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