Like a lot of us, I find I have more leisure time in the summer. Work slows down, days get longer and energy goes up. Maybe it’s all a mirage, but suddenly there’s more time for the fun stuff in life.
Here are my top 5 fun summer leisure loves:
The Beach. Breathing the salt air. Splashing in the ocean waves. Walking I the warm sand. Any of it. All of it! One of my favorite all time beaches is Gay Head Beach on Martha’s Vineyard, a small island off the coast of Massachusetts and top summer vacation mecca. When POTUS vacations there, you know it has to be hot! Speaking of which, POTUS plans a vacation to Martha’s Vineyard in my latest Beachcomber Investigations novel, Beachcomber Danger. The problem is there’s a credible threat to his life. But my hero and heroine, Dane & Shana will do their part to foil the threat. Of course, nothing is that easy and nothing good happens without a cost. Find out the price Dane has to pay when you read the book…
Summer Theater. Maybe I’m a geek, but I love seeing those small productions done in all the vacation spots well off Broadway—mostly in the mountains. Revivals of long ago favorites like South Pacific or My Fair Lady, or my very favorite The Pajama Game. I’m heading up to the mountains in New Hampshire to see whatever they’re showing!
Shopping. I know, I know. This is a great leisure activity any time of year (think Christmas) but it’s extra special when you can cruise the boutiques and shops in a vacation town, especially one that’s on the water, and duck in for specials and AC when the sun gets too hot. My favorite spot is in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, closely followed by Wolfeboro, NH on the shores of Lake Winnepesauki. Or any water front harbor town along the coast of Maine, like York or Kennebunkport.
Ice Cream. I know it’s not an activity. Not strictly speaking, but eating ice cream cones, visiting shops or outdoor stands, especially if they’re along a beach or at a carnival, is classifiably a FUN activity! I enjoy the beach side stands at places like Old Orchard Beach in Maine or Salisbury Beach in Massachusetts among many, many others (closely followed by the stands that sell ‘Beach Pizza’!)
Reading a Beach Book. This is the ultimate leisurely activity in the summer. Laying around with nothing to do but read for hours on end. On the beach or in a hammock or poolside. Or maybe in bed late at night or before you get up in the morning because you have nowhere else to be. The definition of leisure activity.
If you’re looking for a great Beach Read, check out my romantic detective series, Beachcomber Investigations.
About the Author
USA TodayBestselling Author Stephanie Queen is a romantic at heart and a writer by nature. So of course, she loves creating stories where the good guys always win. She writes the romantic detective series, Beachcomber Investigationsset on Martha’s Vineyard and the Small Towncontemporary romance series as well as other series and stand-alone novels. So far she’s published more than 25 novels and novellas and has no plans to stop.
Although she’s lost count of all the jobs she had before she settled on being a novelist, her favorite was selling cookies as a Keebler Elf. She is a graduate of UConn (go Huskies!) and Harvard U. She lives in New Hampshire with her family and her cat, Kitty.
I have written a most unusual series, The Heiress Games. 3 books that all follow the same events, but each one tells the story from the point of view of different characters. Three women who are all competing for the family fortune. Each book in the series follows one of the couples. The third and final book in the series is out this month. THE FORGOTTEN HEIRESS. Here’s the 411.
About the series…
Eccentric heiress, Victoria Armington, has died and left her vast fortune to her pet pig, Matilda. Now three Armington descendants have been chosen to compete for custody of the pig…and control of the money. Then there’s the lawyer in charge of overseeing the competition, and his two best friends, who arrive to make sure nothing goes wrong.
Heiress #3: Bailey Tenant – The Forgotten Heiress
Once upon a time, songwriter Bailey Tenant’s mother was cut off from the Armington family for daring to love the wrong person. Bailey doesn’t want anything to do with them now, but she has a mountain of medical debt, and without that fortune her grandchildren could still be paying it off. When Grammy-winning singer Jackson Stone shows up to escort her to Palm Cove, she agrees to compete. She just never expected the most dangerous aspect of the competition would be losing her heart to Jackson.
Jackson Stone lost the love of his life in a fiery plane crash and then he lost the music. He has to find a way to reawaken the muse, and helping his friend oversee The Heiress Games might work. Soon, Bailey Tenant is reviving his buried heart and tempting him to see forever again. Bailey and Jackson have both vowed to avoid love, but sometimes there’s no choice but to surrender to the promise of a fortune in love.
In the midst of it all, there’s a saboteur at work. Someone who might stop at nothing to make sure no one wins.
NOTE: Unlike the previous 2 books in the series, THE FORGOTTEN HEIRESS finally reveals the winner of Armington fortune (and custody of Matilda the pig) and the identity of the saboteur.
Here’s an excerpt showing how Bailey & Jackson meet…it’s pretty great.
Jackson Stone watched in reluctant fascination as Marilyn Monroe slowly stripped right in front of him. The screen goddess reached up and removed her platinum-blonde wig, revealing a skullcap underneath. He found himself holding his breath as her arm rose again, this time to pluck the cap off her head. A few strategic bobby pins later and a mass of ginger-colored curls spilled across her creamy-white shoulders. It was like watching a curtain of cinnamon rain down on a frothy cappuccino.
Where had that come from? He must be out of his mind.
The striptease continued as Marilyn reached under the hem of her iconic white dress. Jackson caught a glimpse of a shapely thigh as she flicked a fastener and began rolling a silk stocking down her leg.
He shifted on the couch as a part of him that had mostly been dead for the last year stirred to life. Heat washed over him as a savage want surged through his veins.
Two days ago Jackson’s best friend, Cameron Reed, had asked for a favor. A high-priced lawyer with a large estate to probate, Cam needed help looking after three women who were possible heiresses to an immense fortune. Jackson didn’t know the whole story about the will. He did know there was some kind of competition…and a pig was involved…somehow.
Jackson had been cursing his friend for sending him on this fool’s mission ever since he left Miami, but now he didn’t know whether to be grateful…or run like hell. He hadn’t traveled to the outskirts of New Orleans expecting to take part in a peep show. Then again, he hadn’t expected to find a fake, long-dead actress taking off her clothes, either.
He should alert her to his presence.
Yeah…absolutely, positively should do that.
Then she raised both arms to her chest and Jackson forgot all about being a gentleman. Except, instead of untying the top, she reached inside and removed what looked like two huge, raw chicken breasts.
Kristin Wallace is the USA Today Best Selling Author of inspirational and contemporary romance, and women’s fiction filled with “Love, Laughter and a Leap of Faith”. She is the author of two other best-selling series, Shellwater Key Tales (sweet contemporary romance) and Covington Falls Chronicles (inspirational romance).
Cinqo de Mayo has always sounded like such a fun holiday, a celebration of spring and flowers and margaritas. (I especially love margaritas, yes more than I love flowers and spring weather.) (Myren, my chauffeur is tsk-tsking me right now as if I’m a teenager expressing forbidden desires. I wish.)
Anyway, this year the celebration was extra special because May 5thhappened to also be the same day as the running of the Kentucky Derby. (Forget the mint juleps. Picture ladies in big hats—maybe a few sombreros—sipping big fat icy margaritas with salted rims.) I digress.
It’s not that I go wild every year on May 5th. It isn’t always on a Saturday and sometimes I don’t look up from my computer long enough between May 4thand 6thto notice that Cinqo de Mayo just happened. (Myren, my chauffeur is laughing at me now and I’m not really sure why… so I slap his arm and stare him down until he stops. Politely.)
But this year, this was the year the Derby ran away with the Cinqo and I went to a Derby de Mayo party thrown by an old college friend and had a ball with a dozen or so ex-UConn huskies. I’ve included pictures as proof. We wore hats and bet on the race and there was a prize for the best hat—pictured here. Not a UConn alum, but I feel obliged to illustrate how far some people will go to win a prize. She deserve it.
For me and my friends, the fun had little to do with the derby or the cinqo and everything to do with old friendships still alive and well (Myren pointed out that we ought to be happy that us old people were alive and well never mind the friendships. I slapped his arm again and threatened a punch in the nose. Politely. He offered a smug look in return. Darn chauffeur.)
We became friends forty years ago and have managed to get through the grind of life in the intervening years without losing our zest, or sense of humor and fun and sense of what’s most important. Our people.
Also, we drank lots of beer and sangria and margaritas, not unlike we did forty years ago, and celebrated our friendship and raised a glass to Derby de Mayo for giving us the perfect excuse.
As an author, no celebration would be complete without a new release. Beachcomber Danger is just out and the 8thinstallment in the Beachcomber Investigations romantic detective series is the best yet. (Myren finally shakes his head in agreement, but not because he’s taking my word for it, only because he read it in a review.)
I just got back from Hawaii and a wonderful writer’s retreat! I spent time with my sister Delilah Devlin, J.M Madden, Susan Stoker and my daughter Megan. We swam, snorkeled, saw a turtle and lot of fish, rode ATVs through Kualoa Ranch where they filmed Jurassic Park, Jumanji, Skull Island and 50 First Dates. We visited the Polynesian Cultural center where many of the Pacific island cultures were represented like Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Tahiti, Hawaii and New Zealand. I wrote 24000 words on my 6th book in the Mission Six Series while there. The first one is live today! All in all, I refilled my creative well with ideas. Now to get back to work! Get a copy of ONE INTREPID SEAL and start reading the series!
“A beam of red light shot through her window. Sunset already? She got up, fixed herself a drink, and took it to the balcony. She watched as the sun sank into the gulf, long, needle-like pincers of light stretching out as though it wanted to hook the horizon and hang on for dear life. Like Kilroy, whatever was pulling it from below won the battle and the sun dipped, leaving its signature green spot as a token of affection for the world.”
This is what it’s like to live on the Gulf Coast of Florida. By day the sky is the deep blue of Paul Newman’s eyes; at close of day it’s flooded with a full palette of reds, oranges, pinks and purples. I have a lot of pictures of my granddaughter—I have even more pictures of sunsets in Sarasota!
Here’s the story of The Pit & the Passion:
At midnight, in the darkness of a deserted hotel, comes a scream and a splash. Eighty-five years later, workmen uncover a skeleton in an old elevator shaft. Who is it, and how did it get there? To find out, Charity Snow, ace reporter for the Longboat Key Planet, teams up with Rancor Bass, best-selling author. A college ring they find at the dig site may prove to be their best clue.
Although his arrogance nearly exceeds his talent, Charity soon discovers a warm heart beating under Rancor’s handsome exterior. While dealing with a drop-dead gorgeous editor who may or may not be a villain, a publisher with a dark secret, and an irascible forensic specialist, Charity and Rancor unearth an unexpected link to the most famous circus family in the world.
The Milky Way spread a swath of cream overhead. One small cloud trundled across the sky. Behind it peeped a gibbous moon. The beach was wide here, sweeping south in a twelve-mile-long arc but ending only a few yards north of her at a severely eroded cliff.
Not a soul stirred on the sand, except for a couple of willets picking their way along the edge of the water. She turned and headed toward the cliff.
Someone had left a beach chair out. She sat and watched the waves, listening to the chittering of the sandpipers and the putt-putt of a trawler far out. She assumed the rustle behind her was a ghost crab and kept quiet, hoping to catch a glimpse of it. She loved the way they would stop, half in and half out of their holes, their eyestalks waving. They’re so sure they’re invisible.
She jumped straight up, knocking the chair backward.
“What th—?” Her heart pounding, she turned. At that moment, the cloud shrouded the moon, and in the sudden darkness she could only make out a form.
“It’s me. Rancor. Rancor Bass.”
She held out a hand and encountered a broad chest, lightly furred. She pulled it back quickly. “Are you…are you…”
He snickered. “Naked? As a matter of fact, yes.”
She backed up. A splash told her that her brand-new sandals were likely ruined. She vaulted out of the water and landed between two bare arms.
“Easy there, Charity. I hardly know you.”
“Stop it, Mr. Bass. And let me go. If I were you I’d drop that conceited tone. I wouldn’t be caught dead in your arms.”
His voice came low, laughter licking at its edges. “You don’t feel dead to me. In fact”—she tensed at the touch of a finger on the inside of her elbow—“you feel very much alive. And quite…fresh. Call me Rancor.”
“Rancor Bass, you leave me alone.” She tried to walk around the shadow, but an arm snaked out and caught her. She opened her mouth to scream and found two lips smothering hers. She stood quite still, fear and…something else…oh my God, desire?…taking over her senses.
He let her go. “Couldn’t resist. Wanted to see if those defensive walls could be breached.” He sat down in the chair. The moon came out from behind the cloud and cast a pale glow on his hair. “You’re a tough cookie, Charity.”
She wanted to deny it, to tell him how vulnerable she could be, but knew that would be very stupid. She wanted to kiss him again but knew that would be even more stupid. So she settled for a grunt and walked away.
He didn’t follow, and as she reached the dunes, she felt an unexpected twinge of disappointment. Could this man be the one? Nah. Still, preoccupied by this novel notion, she decided to skip the police station and go straight home. As she turned into her condominium parking lot, the obvious question finally occurred to her. What the hell is Rancor Bass doing naked on the beach in the middle of the night?
Although M. S. Spencer has lived or traveled in five of the seven continents, the last thirty years were spent mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, policy wonk, non-profit director, and parent. After many years in academia, she worked for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Department of the Interior, in several library systems, both public and academic, and at the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
Ms. Spencer has published eleven romantic suspense novels, and has two more in utero. She has two fabulous grown children and an incredible granddaughter. She divides her time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.
I remember being in my early teens and hearing voices in my head. Good thing these voices were stories. Stories I told my little sister to put her to sleep. And they were stories of heroines in trouble and the heroes who came to their rescue with the much required happily ever after endings.
In my high school’s library, I discovered Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney. They were my introduction to romance and mystery and from there on I was hooked.
As I got older the voices quieted down. Then one day they started up again. All types of adventures. Still I ignored them for I did not know what they meant.
Then in my thirties I discovered Nora Roberts and Jane Austen. Love the regency period. Voices came back. After meeting with several authors, I realized the voices were stories waiting to be told.
I loved the retelling of Jane Austen’s stories so I decided to create my own, especially when I could hear Lady Jane Bartholomew and Miss Margaret Renard wanting their stories told. This brought about The Vicar’s Deadly Sin.
The Vicar’s Deadly Sin
A Touch of Romance…A Touch of Regency…A Touch of Murder…
Lady Jane Bartholomew and Miss Margaret Renard have been friends since the age of twelve. Together they share their dreams, hopes and a love for reading. However, it is their wild imagination and a penchant for solving mysteries that will test their abilities when the Vicar of Dover is found murdered.
The young ladies are joined by two gentlemen, also eager to find the murderers and prove to the ladies that detecting is a man’s job, though the gentlemen find their beauty, wit, and pride more troublesome than solving a murder.
Ms. Miguelina Perez is a writer and jewelry artist. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of the District of Columbia. As a jewelry artist one of her lariats was showcased in the San Antonio Express-News. She has won several awards including a critical Writing award for an essay on the gender roles of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
It was during her high school years at the school’s library that she first encountered her first romance mystery writer – Ms. Victoria Holt and then Ms. Phyllis J. Whitney. Her love of romance novels stems from those discoveries, especially the Romance mystery genre.
Several of her poems have been published in anthologies, and she was named “Poet of Year in 1995”. She finished her first book, The Vicar’s Deadly Sin – a Regency romance mystery, the first of a seven-part serial based on the Seven Deadly Sins.
Currently, she is in editing mode with “Angel’s Lust” from her Seven Deadly Sins series and working on “A Hero of Her Own” a contemporary romance thriller, about a serial killer terrorizing New York.
The birth of a series. Years ago, I was selling short stories frequently. Now this was in 1968 when my first short story was published. I wrote a story called “And So We Walk On Eggshells.” I sent it out to an editor who had bought several of my other stories. The mss came back with this comment, “This sounds like the synopsis of a novel.” I put the story in the file cabinet and forgot about it. The short story market went bust with many magazines closing or changing direction.
So I moved on to novels. The learning process took several years and many rejections of the same book. In 1972 the first novel sold. There were so many publishers in existence that this book had sixteen rejections before the acceptance. I was at that time writing what I knew, medical romances. I was a nurse.
Then I found that manuscript for that sounded like a synopsis. I had thrown out a lot of false starts during my striving to become a novelist. The short story and the comments by the editor were in a box in the cellar. I began the quest to turn this into a book called Murder and Mint Tea. I didn’t intend this to be a series but the book in the initial printing sold well and even ended up as a book on tape. Things happened and publishers closed down. This was at the dawn of electronic books when books were sold to be read on the computer. But another idea for my heroine to step into the limelight.
I wrote a second, third, fourth and fifth “cozy mysteries” with my take on the genre. Now it’s several publishers later and the books are live again. They’ve been updated from their earlier versions. Station wagons are gone. Cell phones are in, though my heroine isn’t used to using one but she’s learning. A sixth book is on the horizon. My new publisher has designed a series of covers that show my heroine’s “familiar” Robespierre, a Maine Coon cat.
He was once a living cat found by my sons in the wire hub of my silver car with red racing stripes. The vet said he was perhaps four weeks old. We fed him with a baby bottle and he grew to twenty-five pounds at his greatest weight.
The books, all but the first one have new titles except Murder and Mint Tea. They are Murder and Poisoned Tea, Murder and Tainted Tea, Murder and Bitter Tea, Murder and Herbal tea. I’m currently working on Murder and Sweet Tea. They’re all published by Books We Love LTD, my Canadian publisher.
Next year, I’ll be blogging about all the changes I’ve seen in 50 years of being a published author. You can find me at https://wwweclecticwriter.blogspot.com/ My books are available from Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords and other venues.
I would like to give away a print copy of Murder and Mint Tea. It will be a random drawing from those who comment of this post.