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#FiveOnFriday with MJ Schiller

MJ Schiller is back with us today! If you haven’t picked up To Hell In A Coach Bag yet, I bet this will convince you!

Five Reasons to like TO HELL IN A COACH BAG

LOVE ~ not only do you have love, you have love four times over! Two married women whose marriages are on the rocks, two single women with baggage. Can they all find their happily-ever-after?

LAUGHTER ~ and lots of it! From purse rescuing to lingerie purchasing, these characters put the AWK in AWKWARD!

LINKS to you (relates) ~ You’ll recognize the issues these women are struggling with, and the bond of friendships that supersede all else.

LIKEABLE CHARACTERS ~ you know these women. You’ve met them before. One of them may be your best friend, your boss, your sister. They are flawed, but fabulous. Real and ridiculous at the same time. They’re the kind of women you’d love to hang out with.

LITTLE OFF-BEAT MUSICAL REFERENCES ~ not only do Sam and Dani have an ongoing challenge to be the first to name the artist of every song they hear, they also like to analyze lyrics. You may find yourself doing it, too, after this read! When you actually sit and think about lyrics, they can be kind of silly.

So get out there and buy yourself a copy. And get one for your best bud while you’re at it! 😉

To Hell in a Coach BagBlurb

Four Midwest lunch ladies on a cross-country road trip…

But the road to love can be rocky. What can save Alex’s marriage when her hubby’s driving her crazy? How can Max ever feel close to her man again when he never puts out? And just when Dani and Tucker are getting close, dreams of Darren’s death begin to haunt her. Can she move past them? And what about Sam? Although Kyle’s logged some serious ice time, her cold shoulder may put his heart in perma-freeze.

Is happiness around the next corner? Or are these four women simply headed TO HELL IN A COACH BAG?

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The heads popped up in unison, and Maxine stared at Sam who was pale as a ghost. “I am so sorry.”

“That’s okay,” Sam answered quickly.

“Okay?” Alex screamed. “That’s a four-hundred-dollar Coach purse.”

That got my attention. I stuck out my head. “Excuse me, ladies, but I couldn’t help but overhear. Did you say four-hundred-dollar purse?”

“Oh, Tucker,” Maxine wailed, grabbing ahold of my shirt with both fists. “You have to get that purse.”

“O-o-okay.” Was she the next to crack? I started to leave, but Max called me back.

“Oh, and Tucker, be careful.”

“I will,” I replied, bewildered. It wasn’t like I was going to have to scale the edge of the building to get it. There were stairs.

It was not until I got below that I understood her statement. The billion-dollar purse was stuck on a tree branch hanging over a muddy ravine separating the tennis courts from the outer courtyard. Here and there, quaint little bridges crossed the ravine. There had been some recent mountain storms, and it was plenty full at that point. I looked up to the balcony where the three women watched me.

“How much did you say this purse cost?” I yelled.

“Four-hundred dollars,” they yelled in unison.

As I leaned against the tree trunk and took off my loafers, I glared at them, wondering about the twisty path that brought me to this. I jumped and caught a low branch, then muscled my way to sit on it.

“Oh, my!” Maxine exclaimed.

I analyzed the branch the purse was hooked on and noted no branches were near enough to reach it. One above it appeared questionable, with patches of stripped bark. I climbed higher, hoping to angle my way down, and finally made it to a position where I was directly above it. I laid flat on the branch, holding on with one hand. The other I tried to extend to the purse. I was within inches. Pushing a little farther, I leaned to my right and gave my reach the added inch, and I snagged it.

“Got it!” I called triumphantly. But as I did, my weight carried me around the branch, and I found myself hanging upside down, with my arms and legs wrapped around the branch. Squeals of delight came from the Musketeers, but I ignored them and concentrated on my predicament.

I needed to free my hands to walk myself back in, so I stuck the handle of the purse in my mouth, careful not to leave bite marks on the expensive leather. But when I returned my hand to the branch, an unpleasant noise sounded over the rush of the water below. I prayed the crack came from another branch, and held very still, just in case. To my relief, nothing happened.

Until I began to inch back toward the trunk, at which point a very loud CRACK rent the air. Oh shit. My stomach lurched as I fell through the air, hitting several smaller branches on my way down. I landed with a thud on the soggy bank.

From above came a threefold gasp, followed by a hushed silence.

I assessed my condition, moving to determine if anything was broken. Sore yes, broken no. So, I rose, covered in mud like a horror movie swamp monster. It was smeared on my face, in my hair, and all over my white shirt. I held out my hands as they dripped and looked at my trio of spectators.

“Oh, good. You still have it,” Sam yelled happily.

Author Bio

Bestselling author M.J. Schiller is a retired lunch lady/romance-romantic suspense writer. She enjoys writing novels whose characters include rock stars, desert princes, teachers, futuristic Knights, construction workers, cops, and a wide variety of others. In her mind everybody has a romance. She is the mother of a twenty-two-year-old and three twenty-year-olds. That’s right, triplets! So having recently taught four children to drive, she likes to escape from life on occasion by pretending to be a rock star at karaoke. However…you won’t be seeing her name on any record labels soon.

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#FiveOnFriday with Elizabeth Harmon

I’m so excited to have Elizabeth Harmon back with us today! I can’t wait to check this one out. I may have had fantasies of being a figure skater once upon a time… if only I had talent!

Hi everyone, and thanks Mary, for having me as a #FiveOnFriday guest!

My new release Shining Through is a sports romance set in a sport that lots of people aren’t familiar with—competitive figure skating.

Figure skating takes a high profile every four years as one of the Winter Olympics’ most popular sports.  But there are a lot of misconceptions about figure skating, one being that it isn’t actually a sport at all!  (It is.)

In addition to being graceful and artistic, it’s demanding physically—not to mention dangerous.  Imagine jumping into the air, spinning four times and landing not just on one foot, but on a sliver of steel less than a quarter-inch wide.  That’s tough enough on solid ground, but on hard, slippery ice?  Yikes!

With the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyongchang coming this February, it promises to be an exciting skating season. So for this #Five On Friday, I thought I’d share Five Things You May Not Know About Figure Skating. (All photos were taken by my friend Roseanne Pontillo at Skate America, 2014)

#1 – It’s more than just the Olympics

While figure skating gets the most attention in Olympic years, the sport has an annual competitive season that runs from August through April.  In addition to national and world championships, there’s a series of six international competitions known as the Grand Prix of Figure Skating, which takes place over six weeks in six different countries!  Though skaters compete in just one or two Grand Prix events, that’s still a lot of miles.

In Shining Through, American skater Tabitha Turner is competing in Star Spangled Skate when she first meets Russia’s Bad Boy of the Ice, Daniil Andreev.  Sparks fly and when Daniil tempts Tabitha to take a secret walk on the wild side, both get more than they bargained for.

#2 – It’s young and done

Like gymnasts, figure skaters, especially in the women’s discipline (“ladies” in skate-speak) keep getting younger.  Tara Lipinski won a World figure skating title at 14 and an Olympic gold medal at 15. Karen Chen,  one of the U.S.’s current top ladies’ skaters, medaled at U.S. Nationals when she was 16. Polina Edmunds competed for the U.S. in the 2014 Olympics before she had her driver’s license. Japan and Russia also have a number of rising teenage stars, like 14-year-old Elena Radionova, shown above.

Twenty-three year old Tabitha knows that the window on her competitive career is closing fast.  The Grenoble Games are her last chance to reward her family’s sacrifices with Olympic gold.  But a determined 16-year-old rival isn’t going to make it easy.

#3 – Skaters perform the same program throughout the season

I once thought skaters created new routines for each competition.  In reality they work for months with their coach and choreographer, as well as specialized coaches to refine their jumps and presentation.  In competitions, the programs must be performed perfectly for skaters to obtain the maximum number of points for each trick (“elements” in skate-speak). Not only do the programs showcase the skaters’ athleticism, they also tell a story.

Daniil’s powerful,  angsty program to Imagine Dragons “Radioactive” captivates Tabitha, who longs to bring more passion to her pretty, but lifeless skate to music from the opera, “Antigone.”  A week working one on one with him in Vancouver helps her unleash her passion on the ice, and off.

#4 – It only looks easy

Elite figure skaters make their sport look effortless, and some people believe that it actually is!  In reality, skaters usually start as children and spend a decade or more before they reach the elite  Senior level.   And just because a skater falls, doesn’t mean that he or she isn’t “good.”  Just as strike-outs and errors are part of baseball, falls are part of skating,  especially when you’re performing crazy-difficult moves like combination jumps and 4-rotation “quad” jumps.  Skaters learn to fall safely, in order to avoid injury.

#5 – The scoring is confusing

Actually if you watch figure skating you probably know this. ☺  While I’m not an expert I’ll try to give a down and dirty explanation.  Skaters receive two sets of scores. Grade of Execution is for how well they perform the moves in their program. Program Component relates to the program content, the skater’s skills and overall performance. The two are added together for a skater’s segment score.  Segment scores (for the short and long programs) are added together to determine who wins the competition.

Sounds simple on the surface but its not uncommon for a skater who fell to receive a higher score than one who didn’t.  The reason usually has to do with the skater who fell having a higher Program Component score than the one who didn’t, either for a better artistic presentation OR more difficult content.  A friend who competes in the Adult  division of figure skating  often jokes about ‘spin to win,’ because certain spins are worth more than jumps.

Are you a figure skating fan or just getting to know the sport?  Leave a comment below and add Shining Through to your Goodreads To Be Read list, and you’ll be entered to win a digital copy!

Thanks for reading! Elizabeth

* * *

Shining ThroughWhen the sweetheart of American figure skating falls for the bad boy of Russian figure skating, it puts her quest for Olympic gold on thin ice. Dirty Dancing meets Olympic figure skating in this sweet and sexy sports romance!

The Biggest Season of Her Career…

America’s sweetheart Tabitha Turner is on track to win figure skating gold in the Winter Games. Her family has sacrificed everything for her career, but the pressure is taking its toll. Burned out and living a lie, can Tabitha let off a little steam without melting the ice?

The Last Chance of His…

Russia’s bad boy of skating Daniil Andreev is determined to prove the toughest thing about him is his competitive fight. When Tabitha tempts him to help her take a secret walk on the wild side, he gives her a taste of the freedom she craves, never expecting that one unforgettable night could turn into something more.

Two Hearts on Thin Ice…

Chicago, Vancouver, Paris… the international figure skating season unfolds. Tabitha and Daniil compete and fall in love, but as the pressure mounts in a make-or-break season, can they set aside their painful pasts and spiral into a shining future together… or will their dreams shatter like thin ice?

At the Winter Games, the torch isn’t the only thing burning…

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Contemporary romance author Elizabeth Harmon loves to read and write romances with a dash of different. She is the author of the Red Hot Russians sports romance series. Her debut novel Pairing Off is a 2016 RITA® Award Finalist.

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#FiveOnFriday with Iris Blobel

I’m so excited to have Iris Blobel back with us today! I think we all need to take a trip like this one day! Let’s dive in and find out about the trip, and the book it led to!

What inspired you to write this book?

I love this book. We went to the USA a few years back, travelling in a motorhome through five different states, having the time of our lives. After returning home, looking through hundreds of photos, I came up with the idea to turn our itinerary into a story. Fresh Beginnings was born. I hope the readers will enjoy this little journey and hopefully my love for the places we went to is shining through.

For first time readers, what book (of yours) should we start with and why?

Readers can start with any book of mine, but I have two series where the books can be read as a standalone, but to get a “feel” for the characters, I’d recommend to start with the first one. As for Fresh Beginnings, the first book in the series is New Beginnings

What do you hope readers take from reading your work?

I always like to use the cliché “I like to spread love”. My books are about family and friendship, something that is very important to me, and reviews are telling me that is what readers are appreciating.

What is one of your favorite quotes? What about it speaks to you?

“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. But today is a gift.” Having finished cancer treatment only a few months ago, I’m appreciating life, try not to worry about matters I cannot change, but enjoy the little things in life as well as the big ones. I used to stress so much about all sorts of issues and had a need for success that I’d forgotten to love what I have now.

What song could you listen to on repeat and not get sick of?

I LOOOOOVE music, so picking “just” one was a challenge, but I’ve narrowed it down to three songs that have been important to me that last year: Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song”, Savage Garden’s “Affirmation”, and Louis Tomlinson’s “Just hold on”

What is your favorite cocktail or drink?

Hands down – Coke Zero (which they took off the market, quite to my displeasure ☹)

What’s next for you?

“Echoes of the Past” will be re-released later this year or early next year. But there’ll also be a book set partly in New Zealand – another travel inspired story. I’m really looking forward to releasing this book. The main character has a Maori background


Jared Fraser, a landscape business owner in Hobart, Australia, sets out for a holiday to the USA to travel along the Route 66 in a motorhome. Looking forward to his first holiday overseas, he’s excited as he prepares himself for the journey. But little could’ve prepared him for crossing paths with a beautiful hitchhiker.

Will he be able to put his past aside and grab onto happiness?

Ivy Bennett thought leaving her boyfriend would be the hard part. It doesn’t take long to figure out how wrong she was. As she struggles with making a new start in her life, the last person she expects to lead her to happiness is a laid-back Australian on vacation.

But she will have to say goodbye again. And not only to Jared.

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Ivy enjoyed being with Jared. During their drive towards the Grand Canyon he told her of his home and described as much of Tasmania as possible.

“I always imagined Australia to be hot with white beaches and beautiful water.”

“That’s up in the north in Queensland,” he explained. “We have spectacular beaches as well. Tasmania is a small island in the very south. The last step before the Antarctica, so to speak.”

“That sounds cold!”

He laughed. “It clearly isn’t Queensland.” Settling his gaze on her, he continued, “But it has beautiful beaches as well. And a wonderful marine life. And the mountains. We have some stunning mountains in Tassie.”



“It sounds beautiful.”

He agreed. “Yes, it is. One of the best places on earth.”

Once they arrived at the National Park, they found a parking spot and walked towards the edge of the Canyon. She touched his arm to get his attention. Not that she needed to. His attentive nature drew her to him, and she couldn’t get enough of listening to him.

“I feel bad that you pay for everything,” she said in a low voice.

Jared waved his hand. “Nah. It’s only money and luckily the Australian dollar is—”

“Whether you can or can’t afford it, it doesn’t matter. I don’t like it.”

He stopped and turned towards her, causing heat inside her body. Her breath caught but she kept walking, yet, it took him only a few steps to catch up with her and, by way of placing his hand on her shoulder, to stop her.

“Wanna tell me why?”

Avoiding his stare, she lifted her shoulder in a casual shrug.

“A shrug is not really an answer, ya know that, right?”

Yes, she knew that. How could she tell him that she’d left Dylan because he’d spent all the money she’d worked so hard for? She didn’t want to be in the same situation, as in spending someone else’s hard-earned money. But deep inside she didn’t want to hurt Jared, either. She was enjoying her time with him so much, she wasn’t ready for it to end because of some silly pride.

Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a little squirrel in the bushes and despite some guilt inside, it was a perfect distraction.

“Look!” she said louder than she’d intended. “A squirrel.”

With great relief, she noticed how her devious plan had worked. Jared quickly grabbed his camera and kneeled down to get the best shot possible of this little creature.

Kneeling next to him, she asked, “Don’t you have squirrels?”

Still trying to get that perfect photo of the little creature, he whispered, “Nope.”

Author Bio

Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London as well as Canada where she met her husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper has only emerged recently, but now her laptop is a constant companion.

Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her two beautiful daughters.

Next to her job at a private school, she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio.

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#FiveOnFriday with Caroline Warfield

Please say hi to Caroline Warfield! She’s got a great story coming in a few weeks. You won’t want to miss it!

While visiting Venice not long ago I asked myself if I could set a Regency story there. I decided to find out. Here are five things I learned.

1. Lord Byron lived in Venice from 1816 to 1819 after he was forced to leave England over debts.

2. Young men of the Regency era regularly stopped in the city while on their Grand Tour, ostensibly a finishing touch on their classical education, but most often an excuse for wild living.

3. When Napoleon captured Venice in 1797 he ended centuries of rule by the aristocratic families, established democratic rule on the French model, tore down the gates of the Venetian Ghetto, and carted away many priceless works of art including the famous bronze horses from Saint Mark’s Cathedral.

4. He almost immediately gave Venice to Austria by treaty. Austria’s austere laws but a damper in Venice’s licentious customs. They banned Carnevale, In the opinion of many it became a dreary place.

5. The city was blessed with many physicians such as my hero, Salvatore. Many others were Jews, including Salvatore’s friend Judah Ottolenghi, because medicine was one of the limited numbers of professions open to them.

And so I discovered that I could indeed write a Regency romance set in Venice. The result was Lady Charlotte’s Christmas Vigil.

About the Book

It is 1818 and Byron is in Venice…

Lady Charlotte clings to one dream—to see the splendor of Rome before settling for life as the spinster sister of an earl. But now her feckless brother forces her to wait again, stranded in Venice halfway to the place of her dreams when he falls ill after attempting to imitate his idol. She finds the city damp, moldy, and riddled with disease.

As a physician, Salvatore Caresini well knows the danger of putrid fever. He lost his young wife to it, leaving him alone to care for their rambunctious children. He isn’t about to let the lovely English lady risk her life nursing her brother.

But Christmas is coming, that season of miracles, and with it, perhaps, lessons for two lonely people: that love heals the deepest wounds and sometimes the finest dreams aren’t the ones we expect.

Preorder now for an October 20 release:

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Join us to celebrate the launch and holiday reading in general. There will be games and prizes!

About the Author

Traveler, would-be adventurer, former tech writer, and library technology professional, Caroline Warfield has now retired to the urban wilds of Eastern Pennsylvania, and divides her time between writing and seeking adventures with her grandbuddy and the prince among men she married. Her new series sends the children of the heroes of her earlier books to seek their own happiness in the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She reminds them always that love is worth the risk.

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#FiveOnFriday with Elizabeth St. Michel

Please say hi to Elizabeth St. Michel! She has a brand new series to introduce to us today that I can’t wait to read!


HISTORY: My love of history, particularly the American Revolution is detailed in Sweet Vengeance, spanning from the shores of England across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and on to Boston. Privateering was a must for American Colonists to interrupt the trade of England, a powerful country at that time that possessed a larger and formidable Navy.

The lovely island of Martinique in the Caribbean was a French stronghold during the revolution and furnished a necessary port for Colonial privateers to leave off their contraband and resupply the Colonies with guns and munitions.

The Bahamas, lying off the Southeastern coast of Florida is an archipelago or collection of islands known as the West Indies. The island of New Providence in 1778 held a population of a thousand people. As a British Colony, it boasted a well-protected harbor that served as a convenient and favorite rendezvous place for British naval vessels and functioning as the chief British Naval station on the American coast.

During the American Revolution, Fort Nassau was taken by a dashing and daring force led by Captain John Trevett of the Colonial Marines and Captain John Rathburn of the Colonial Navy. One can imagine the dismay of sleepy townspeople when they awakened in the morning to discover the scarlet flag of England replaced by the little-known stars and bars of the United States.

LISTENING: To write strong characters you have to be a strong listener. You must know them down to their toes, listening to their complaints, joys, sorrows and dreams. Silence and thinking allows the creative faucet to flow. Often when I’m writing, I totally tune out of this world. I hear the waves lapping on a beach, the wind rustling through palm trees and the voices of my characters whispering their secrets. Listening builds deep characters, making us care about what happens to them.

LAUGHTER: I do love to laugh and intertwine my novels with humor. I have a special contract with my readers, presenting dialogue and foils of the story’s characters to make them laugh. Below is an excerpt of Sweet Vengeance. Lady Abigail, disguised as a cabin boy has to sew up Captain Thorne’s wound and he has just insulted her.

“Ouch! Take it easy. Do you know how exasperating you are?” He glared at her, and then after a long stretched out moment, his lean cheeks flexed. “A thought has crossed my mind.”

Abby froze mid-stroke. “That must have been a long and lonely journey.”

“I think you’ve had experience at this.”

Abby shrugged indifferently. So he would rather boil in oil! Piqued she thought of a million other tortures. “If you count the time I watched a donkey’s rear being sewed up after a mare took a chunk out of him.”

Thorne bellowed with laughter. “I hope you are not comparing me to a donkey’s rear.”

“Quit moving. I can’t stitch someone who’s so intent on braying. If you must know, I have complete respect for you, Captain. I would never compare you to a donkey’s rear.”

FAMILY: I love to emphasize family personalities and loyalties since family dynamics introduces an area that touches a cord with everyone. Sweet Vengeance and following sequels focus on the powerful Duke of Rutland and his four strong-willed offspring. From unseen enemies and in one catastrophic night, the fortunes of the family are changed forever. Sweet Vengeance details the journey of Lady Abigail Rutland, the only daughter and her father’s favorite.

LOVE:  What is most important, is creating a hero and heroine who are pure of heart, strong of character, and who give and sacrifice. Of course, they must get over their baggage first. No doubt they are dragged through the bowels of hell but they come up fighting because they are made for each other. Oh, how I love happy endings!

And that was when he did the unthinkable.

He kissed her and none too gently, not like the chaste kiss some fop had once bestowed on her. No, the Vicar kissed her hard, as a lover would, crushing his mouth down on hers¾and instinctively, she parted her lips. She moaned with the taste of him, felt the kiss deepening in ways she’d only been able to imagine before that moment.

That terrible, magnificent, soul-shattering moment.

Sweet Vengeance

Some say life is a grand adventure—but for Lady Abigail Rutland, it’s a tremendous bore. As a woman of noble birth in eighteenth-century England, she is expected to keep quiet and marry well, but she longs for so much more.

“Be careful what you wish for,” the old saying goes. After a chaotic night, she wakes up in the hold of a former slaver with her body bound and her hair shorn. She is soon “rescued” by an American privateer, who assumes she is a cabin boy and puts her to work. Eager for adventure, Abigail maintains her disguise despite a budding attraction to the infamous Captain Jacob Thorne. Meanwhile, Captain Thorne schemes to spring his kin from a British prison.

What follows is a thrilling tale that tosses and churns with the high seas. Set during the height of the American Revolution, Sweet Vengeance contains accurate historical details that enrich and complicate the story. Abigail yearns for danger and excitement, and it isn’t long before she discovers that the most urgent peril comes from within her own wild heart.

About The Author

Elizabeth St. Michel is the author of The Winds of Fate, which reached number one on the Amazon bestseller lists. Her second novel, Surrender the Wind, garnered several awards, including the National RONE Award and the Holt Medallion in honor of literary excellence in romance writing.

St. Michel divides her time between New York and the Bahamas.




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Surrender The Wind

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