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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Meet Celtic Hearts member, Mary Gillgannon

Hi Mary, and welcome to Adventures in Auhorland. Please share your writing adventure with us.

Have you ever traveled to a place and come away with a story unexpectedly?

The idea for The Dragon Bard came to on my first trip to Ireland. On the last leg of the trip we went to County Antrim, which is in the far northeast coast of the island. From the shore there, you can almost see all the way across the Irish Sea to Scotland. When the previous book in the series, The Dragon Prince, ended, the hero’s brother Bridei was on his way north to what is now Scotland. Gazing across the water on the coast in County Antrim, I suddenly knew that in his book Bridei wasn’t going to stay in Scotland, but end up in Ireland. And as I observed the lush countryside of northern Ireland, I imagined a beautiful Irish queen fighting to hold on to her lands and the idea for the story of The Dragon Bard was born.

Can you give us some details of your latest release?

As The Dragon Bard begins, my hero Bridei is lying shackled on a slavers’ boat as it crosses the Irish Sea. The boat eventually ends up in territory of the Queen Dessia of the Fionnlairaos in northeast Ireland. Queen Dessia is young and beautiful and desperate. Her whole family was killed years before and she has spent her life since recapturing the lands her father once held and regaining her heritage. Her harsh life has made her suspicious and driven, and when she meets Bridei and he tries to charm her with his singing, she is immediately wary. She suspects this handsome bard has the means to undermine everything she’s worked so hard for. Thus begins a clash of wits and wills, as Bridei seeks to seduce the distrustful queen and Dessia tries to resist.  Over the course of the book, both of them will have to confront what they fear most and discover what truly makes life worth living. Not surprisingly, because it’s a romance, they discover that love might be the most important thing of all.

How many books have you written? What’s your favorite?

I’ve published thirteen books and have completed four others, so it’s pretty tough to pick a favorite. But I do love The Dragon Bard, which is the fourth book in my Dragon of the Island series. The first book in the series was my first published book and featured my first (fictional) hero, Maelgwn the Great. In The Dragon Bard, Maelgwn makes a brief appearance at the end and it was very satisfying to show him as an older man and reveal his growth as a character.

I also love the hero in Bard, Bridei ap Maelgwn, because he’s a different sort of hero. He’s a poet and a musician rather than a warrior and he uses his wits, his talent and his charm to make his way in life. He’s also very cynical and rather bitter, although he hides that beneath a fa├žade of devil-may-care. It’s the vulnerable aspects of my heroes that really intrigue me and although he conceals it well, Bridei is pretty wounded. He also undergoes probably the most dramatic character growth of any of my heroes, going from a detached, rather selfish outlook on life to finally risking everything for love.

What place inspires you the most?

Although I live in Wyoming, land of cowboys and wide open spaces, almost all my books have been set in the British Islands. Due to some sort of ancestral memory, misty forests, hidden glens and rocky hillsides are where I feel most at home and that’s the landscape where a lot of my books are set. They also take place in the past. I took my heroine all the way back to the Bronze Age in one of my unpublished books and the Dragon of the Island series is set in the time of King Arthur. (Arthur plays a big part in the third book, The Dragon Prince.)  I’m currently working on a time travel where the hero visits modern day Denver. But since the set-up of the story happens in the 9th century, even that one has ties to the past.   
   
What inspired you to write your first book?

I’d always been a voracious reader and secretly harbored the dream of someday writing a novel. But I was too insecure and intimidated to attempt writing fiction until two things happened:  1) I had emergency back surgery and that forced me to consider the possibility of dying and I began to think about what I’d most regret if I did die (besides leaving behind my children).  2) I started working in a library where I realized people weren’t mostly reading great works of literature, but simply stories. Once I knew I just had to write a book before I died, and I got past the idea that you had to be as talented as Fitzgerald or Faulkner to write a novel, I decided to give it a try. Since I had small children and very little free time, I wrote in longhand on my breaks at work and any other chance I had. I told all my co-workers what I was doing, thinking that way I’d be embarrassed if I didn’t finish the book. As I wrote, I fell in love with the creative process. Having my characters “come to life” before my eyes was exhilarating. I was hooked. When I finished the book, I had one of my co-workers read it and she said it was pretty good and I should try to get it published. And so I did, and somehow, magically, it was and I was on my way.

Do you have any advice for new writers beginning their adventure?

I’ve been writing for almost twenty years and my career has had a lot of ups and downs. In this business, persistence and pure stubbornness are probably as important as talent. And you have to love it. The thrill of having characters and worlds come to life before your eyes has to be there, or it’s going to be very difficult to keep at it through the rough times. Put your heart and soul into your books and readers will respond to that. Your passion for your story does come through on the page.

Excerpt from The Dragon Bard

At last Dessia could see the visitor’s face, and it was as fine and comely as she’d expected. He wore only the hint of a beard, a dusky down outlining the square shape of his jaw. His nose was straight and narrow, his mouth, full and sensual. And his eyes—by the gods—it seemed unfair that a man should possess such amazing violet blue eyes, surrounded by thick, black lashes.
Shaking off such thoughts, Dessia forced herself to meet the visitor’s gaze. “Who are you?” she asked.
The man bowed low and then straightened, his movement as graceful as a cat’s. His dazzling eyes glinted with warmth. “I’m Bridei ap Maelgwn, lately of Britain, although I have lived many places.  I play the harp and musical pipe. I compose poems, sing songs and recite a hundred different tales. I can write Latin and a little Greek, decipher runes and tally accounts. I would be a most useful and entertaining addition to your household, Queen Dessia. In exchange for my services I would ask only that you provide me with a small chamber of my own, food and drink such as you give your warriors, and the freedom to come and go as I please.”
As he finished his speech, Bridei felt rather startled by what he’d just said. He’d intended to entreat Queen Dessia to help him return to Britain. But somehow, at the last moment, different words had formed on his tongue. Why had he offered to serve her? Was it simply a response to her remarkable beauty? For Queen Dessia was stunning. Masses of dark red hair cloaked her tall, voluptuous form. Her face was a pale, delicate oval, set with gleaming jewel-green eyes and a lush coral mouth. She was a goddess. As bold and magnificent as Epona, lady of horses. As radiant as Arianrhod, queen of the moon and stars. Merely looking at her made Bridei’s loins grow tight.
Queen Dessia shifted her body and licked her lips. At last, she said, “You appear far too young to possess the skills you boast of. And you haven’t told me how you came to be here. My man, Keenan…” She motioned to the warrior who’d escorted him there, making Bridei feel a sudden surge of jealousy. “He says you were wearing slave chains when he found you.” Her green eyes narrowed. “You’ve been brought to Eire against your will. Why would you choose to stay here rather than returning to your homeland?”
He made his expression sorrowful. “If you haven’t heard, there was a great battle in my homeland last summer. Our brave, valiant leader, Arthur ap Uther, was defeated and killed by the Saxons. Fighting at his side was my older brother Rhun.” He hung his head dramatically. “I’m still mourning my loss. While the remainder of my family yet live in the mountain kingdom of Gwynedd, I haven’t the heart to visit them. I can’t bear to look upon my father’s face and tell him that his eldest son is dead.”
He slowly raised his gaze and assessed the effect of his words. She looked stricken, as if he had been speaking of her family rather than his own. Pain creased her fair brow and her mouth trembled. He quickly bent his head again, repressing a smile of satisfaction.
He waited a moment, then sighed deeply and once more looked into her eyes. “Call me a coward, if you will, but I am weary of the war and fighting that has torn apart my homeland. I seek a place of refuge, and this lovely bit of land, bordered by the wild sea, warmed by a gentle sun and blessed with soft, sweet rain, seems the perfect place to mend my spirits.”
A sheen of tears glazed her green eyes, reminding him of sunlight shining upon a still forest pool. She looked so tender and sweet…and young. He could see the wounded girl she’d been, only partially hidden beneath the trappings of the proud queen. She could still weep over loss and injustice. In a moment, she would agree to let him stay in her household. Then he need only offer a few more soulful looks and touching tales and she would eagerly welcome him into her bed.
But even as he considered the splendor of this prize, he couldn’t help wondering what he had done—offering up his freedom, his independence, to serve this exquisite young queen. He glanced down at his hands and saw the pale reddish lines marking the place where the iron fetters had encircled his wrists. Those shackles were gone, but it felt as if they had been replaced by other, invisible and yet more powerful, bonds.

Bio:

I am fascinated by history, as well as Celtic myth and legend. These interests inspire and enrich most of my books, both historical romance and historical fantasy. Raised in the Midwest, I currently live in Wyoming with my husband, four cats and a dog. I work in the local public library and have two grown children. Besides writing, I enjoy gardening, travel and reading, of course! 

For more about my books and me, visit my website http://marygillgannon.com or check out my blog: http://marygillgannon.blogspot.com.

Thank you for joining us today, Mary. Here's wishing you many sales.

Jean

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Meet Wild Rose Press author Gail MacMillan


Hi Gail, and thank you for joining me today. Tell us a little about yourself and your writing adventure.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Let’s just say, I’ve never considered being anything else.  Maybe I have a writer gene somewhere in my DNA.  I must have.  Otherwise, over the years, with setback and rejections, a 9 to 5 office job, getting a university degree, and raising a family, I probably would have given up. 

Do you see writing as a career?

A career?  Not really.  I see it as a journey, sometimes smooth, often bumpy, always challenging.  Where publishing is concerned, writing can be frustrating and discouraging but never in the actual creative process of putting words to computer (or paper).  Those moments of actually making a story are magic, a writer’s raison d’etre.
  How many books have you written?

 HOLDING OFF FOR A HERO will be number twenty-six. 

Which is your favourite?

HOLDING OFF  FOR A HERO published by The Wild Rose October 19,  is my current favourite but, then, each and every one of my books has been and will remain special to me. It’s like asking which is a favourite child, isn’t it?  Our books are our babies and their growing up and going out into the world doesn’t make them any less precious.

Can you give us some details about your upcoming release/s?

In September, 2010, my book GHOST OF WINTERS PAST came out from the Wild Rose in both e-book and paperback.  It’s in the romantic suspense genre and set in a snowmobile lodge in northeastern New Brunswick.  If you love a good mystery complete with a First Nations ghost and an amazing Malamute sled dog with a sense of humor as comic relief, I know you’ll enjoy “Ghost”.
 
October 19, 2012, my romantic comedy was published by the Wild Rose both in e-book and paperback.  I had a lot of fun writing this book with my Pug Bruiser as cover guy and hero.

Coming from the Wild Rose in 2013 will be a contemporary romance with lots of suspense entitled ROGUE’S REVENGE.  I’m not certain what genre this actually falls into.  It does have elements of mystery.

Who are some of your favourite authors?

I love the Victorian classic novels of Austen, Collins, Dickens, the Brontes, and Harding but I’m also a big fan of mysteries beginning with Agatha Christie and Josephine Tey to such present day writers as Rhys Bowen, Maureen Jennings, Sue Owens Wright, and M. C. Beaton.

When you are not writing, what are your hobbies, passions, etc?

First of all, in the passion department there’s my husband and children.  Following on their heels are my dogs.  I’ve written four dog books, two of them award winners.  I love spending time outdoors with the dogs.  I have retrievers and a Pug  (the hero of HOLDING OFF FOR A HERO).  They’re the ultimate exercise machines...their walks cannot be denied.

Excerpt from HOLDING OFF FOR A HERO

She floored the gas, and they took off with a squealing of tires.

   “Hey, hey!” he yelled. “Slow down! The speed limit is 100 km. You’re heading to 130!”
   “Look, I told you, I’m in a hurry!” she exploded. “I’ve got a ton of things to do back at the cabin. You see,” she continued, quieting and sounding sly, “I’m having a party tonight. I have to get ready.”
   “A party? You’re having a party? At the lake?” Ah, man, that just about tears it.
   “Actually, a bachelorette bash. One of my teacher friends is getting married next week, and a bunch of us decided we’d give her a real whing-ding of a sendoff…up at my cabin where there’ll be no witnesses. Teachers and the likes of myself have reputations to think of, you realize.” She cast him a wicked glance.
   “So there’ll be music and a lot of noise and…”
   The Professor’s blood pressure would skyrocket when he gave him this information.
   “Oh, y-e-a-h.” She dragged out the last word.
   “Couldn’t you have it somewhere else? Like a male strip joint in town?”
   “Didn’t you hear what I just said about teachers and others of that ilk? We can’t be seen parading into one of those places. Our superintendent would suspend every last one of us. Anyway…” She looked over at him. “I don’t see why it should be such a big deal for you. You don’t have to keep banker’s hours. If the noise bothers you, stay up, watch a video, and sleep in on Sunday morning.”
   “Okay, okay, but will you please keep your eyes on the road? And slow down! There’s a speed trap somewhere along…”
   Behind them a siren wailed.
   “Quick!” she ordered, pulling over as the police cruiser rolled alongside. “Hunch over and clutch your chest.”

Three time Maxwell Medal winning author, Gail MacMillan is a graduate of Queen’s University and author of twenty-six published books.  Her articles and short stories have appeared in magazines across North America and in Western Europe.  Gail lives in Bathurst, New Brunswick with her husband and two dogs, Fancy a Little River Duck Dog and Bruiser a Pug who is the hero of her latest book HOLDING OFF FOR A HERO and its cover model.


Thanks for joining me today, Gail. Here’s wishing you many sales

Jean

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Meet multi-award winning historical author, Anna Campbell


Hi  Anna, thank you for joining us today and for sharng your writing adventure

Hi Jean! Thank you for having me as your guest here today. Really interesting questions!

    When did you first consider yourself a writer?

It was VERY early. My mother kept a composition I wrote in grade two where I claim I’m going to be the next Enid Blyton. Clearly my interest in popular fiction started early! I loved books from the moment I heard my first story so I think it was inevitable that I should want to write them.

   What books have most influenced your life most?
           
Oh, that’s a hard question to ask a voracious reader. How long have you got? I’ll stick to the early stuff. Enid Blyton taught me the power of story and that urge to turn the pages to find out what happens next, no matter how late it is at night. I started to read romances when I was about eight – my mum gave me a Mills and Boon (Harlequin) to shut me up. Romance novels have been shutting me up ever since! And finally I think I’ll mention THE WOLF AND THE DOVE by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I was about fourteen when I read this and I was absolutely entranced. I promised myself then that I’d grow up to write historical romance.

  Do you see writing as a career?

I write full time which is a dream come true for me.

   Can you give us some details about your upcoming release/s?

My latest release is SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED from Grand Central Publishing in North America (25th September) and HarperCollins in Australia and New Zealand (1st October). It’s the first book of my first series, Sons of Sin, and it’s a very gothic take on Beauty and the Beast. Here’s the blurb:

Will a week of seduction...
Desperate to save her sister's life, Sidonie Forsythe has agreed to submit herself to a terrible fate: Beyond the foreboding walls of Castle Craven, a notorious, hideously scarred scoundrel will take her virtue over the course of seven sinful nights. Yet instead of a monster, she encounters a man like no other. And during this week, she comes to care for Jonas Merrick in ways that defy all logic-even as a dark secret she carries threatens them both.

...Spark a lifetime of passionate surrender?
Ruthless loner Jonas knows exactly who he is. Should he forget, even for a moment, the curse he bears, a mere glance in the mirror serves as an agonizing reminder. So when the lovely Sidonie turns up on his doorstep, her seduction is an even more delicious prospect than he originally planned. But the hardened outcast is soon moved by her innocent beauty, sharp wit, and surprising courage. Now as dangerous enemies gather at the gate to destroy them, can their new, fragile love survive?

You can read another excerpt here: http://annacampbell.info/rogue.html

 In which genre do you prefer to write and why?

I love writing historical romance. It’s always been my favourite genre to read too. I love the larger-than-life quality of a great historical romance, the way it sweeps you away to a different, more dramatic world.

 When you are not writing, what are your hobbies, passions, etc?

Well, reading is a no-brainer answer for that question. I’ve always got at least one book on the go, usually more than one. I love romance but lately I’ve been on a crime binge. I read a lot of nonfiction too. I love music and travel and I’m a recent convert to digital photography so if you stand still, I’m likely to take your picture!

    Do you have any advice for new writers beginning their adventure?

There’s so many distractions now, especially on the internet. If you want to be a writer, you need to write. That means sitting down at your computer and getting words on the page. You’ll find as you write each manuscript that you hit a danger zone when you’re tempted to give up because you’ve got a better idea. Don’t! This is just your mind playing tricks on you to save you the hard work of slogging through the middle to the end. Write that book to the end – finishing a book will teach you lots of stuff that nothing else will. Including persisting through the doldrums that strike every manuscript. Then once you’ve finished that manuscript, put it away for as long as you can – six months is a good idea – and write something else. When you come back to edit the first one, you’ll have some distance from it and it’s MUCH easier to see mistakes. Not only that, you’ll have learnt additional skills from tackling your next project that you can then use to improve your previous project.

Excerpt from Seven Nights In A Rogue’s Bed

Devon Coast, November 1826

In the cavernous hall, Sidonie Forsythe stood tall and straight in a pool of pale sunshine. She wore her heavy cloak and she clutched her valise at her side.
“What the hell are you doing?” Jonas strode across the flagstones and stopped a few paces short of her. Thank God he was an early riser or he’d be too late. He’d been flicking through the prospectus for a canal scheme when Mrs. Bevan lumbered into the library to announce the young lady requested use of his carriage.
At his furious question, Miss Forsythe whipped around. She stared dismayed into his face and he knew they both revisited those blazing moments in his bed. The memory thundered through him like the blast of a thousand cannons. Her lovely eyes darkened with what he could only interpret as humiliation before anger rescued her. “Don’t you ever dress like a Christian?”
Again, she surprised him. He liked that. He liked it almost as much as he’d liked seeing her unclothed body last night. And he’d liked that very much indeed.
He released a derisive grunt of laughter. “This is my house. If I want to run around in my shirtsleeves, I will. If I tour the estate stark naked, I daresay it’s my privilege.”
Delicate color tinged her cheeks at the mention of nakedness. This morning she looked brighter. She must have managed some sleep after he’d stormed from her room.
He wished to Hades he had.
“It’s nothing to me what you wear.” Calm determination masked any disquiet. He’d lay money that composure was as false as the canal scheme’s projected profits. “We’ll never see each other again after all.”
“I wouldn’t place too much store in that particular prediction,” he said drily. “It’s a devilish shabby trick to sneak away without a by-your-leave.”
“We have nothing to say to one another.”
“You think not?” He turned to Mrs. Bevan. “Tell Hobbs the carriage isn’t required.”
“Mr. Merrick—” Miss Forsythe began in a repressive voice.
He’d be damned if he was squabbling with her out here while his housekeeper stood around with flapping ears. “Perhaps you’d rather continue this discussion in the library.”
“I’d rather leave your house and pretend these lamentable twenty-four hours never occurred.”
“So vehement for daybreak.” He weighted his tone with completely spurious boredom. “It’s a trifle fatiguing.”
“Only for a man of your advanced years,” she snapped back.
Brava ancora. He could guess how awkward she felt in his presence after what had happened—and not happened—last night. Still she came back fighting. “At least let me rest my ageing bones on a cushion while you harangue me.”
No answering humor. She continued to eye him warily. “I’d prefer to go.”
“I’m sure you would. But I’ve still got Roberta’s vowels. Or had you forgotten?”
Her magnificent eyes flashed hatred. “I hadn’t forgotten. I paid you last night.”
He gave her a nasty smile. “That’s a matter of opinion.” He gestured toward the library. “Miss Forsythe?”
She glowered at him, then glanced at Mrs. Bevan who watched with avid interest. The girl’s color deepened and she nodded abruptly. “Five minutes.”
Jonas knew not to push his advantage. Or at least to wait until they were alone before he did. He opened the door and ushered her into the book-lined room.


About Anna

 
Aussie ANNA CAMPBELL has written six multi award-winning historical romances for Avon HarperCollins and her work is published in eleven languages. Always a voracious reader, Anna decided when she was a child that she wanted to be a writer. Once she discovered the wonderful world of romance novels, she knew exactly what she wanted to write. Anna has won numerous awards for her Regency-set romances including Romantic Times Reviewers Choice, the Booksellers Best, the Golden Quill (three times), the Heart of Excellence, the Aspen Gold (twice) and the Australian Romance Readers Association's favourite historical romance (four times). Her books have twice been nominated for Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA Award and three times for Australia's Romantic Book of the Year. In 2012, Anna launches an exciting new publishing venture with Grand Central Publishing and her first series, "Sons of Sin", with SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED in October 2012.

Thank you for sharing with us, Anna. Best of luck with your new series.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Meet fellow Highland Press author, Amy Blizzard

Who are some of your favourite authors?

There are so many wonderful talents out there that it is hard to narrow the field. But I have a great deal of respect and admiration for: S.E. Hinton, Debbie Macomber, J.K. Rowling, Hannah Alexander, Tess Gerritsen, Lurlene McDaniel, Marianne Forkin and Janet Evanovich. If I have even a mere ounce of the talent any of them possess I will consider myself lucky.

If you could time travel back, or forward, for one day, where would it be and why?

If given the opportunity to travel back in time, I would want to be a little girl again and spend time with my grandfather. As a child, I was often his shadow: accompanying him to the grocery store, sitting beside him on the front porch while he completed a crossword puzzle, etc.

It would not necessarily matter where we went or what we did. I would just want to hear his voice again and hold his hand.

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

I have written three books. The first published was a young adult novel titled A Home on the Other Side, followed by the historical romance The Doctor's Daughter and A Season for Romance, which is a collection of holiday-themed novelettes.

My favorite is probably The Doctor's Daughter. It was the first novel I wrote after leaving my teen years behind and entering my twenties. Looking back, I think there is a maturity in that piece which was lacking in my earlier work.

I also loved all of the leading and supporting characters and enjoyed creating individual backgrounds which were fitting  for the time period. Writers are often plagued with self-doubt, and while I don't believe The Doctor's Daughter is a masterpiece, I  do feel confident that it was a reflection of the best I was capable of at the time.

In which genre do  you prefer to write and why?

I have always loved the young adult genre and have a soft spot for it. But I have found a niche in both historical and contemporary sweet romance. I am drawn to that category of romance because I think it allows a novelist to not only create memorable leading characters but supporting roles as well. Overall, you can expand beyond a romance between two people and create a sense of community.

I also have a fondness for incorporating an aspect of the medical field into my stories. I find medicine fascinating, but I know I could never succeed as a doctor or nurse in the real world. I suppose writing about fictional medical professionals is my way of occasionally living vicariously.

Can you give us some details about your upcoming release/s?

Yes. I have two novelettes coming out with Highland Press in the near future. The first will be a holiday-themed sweet romance A Christmas Vow in the anthology All Wrapped Up, which will be released later this year. The second will be the inspirational historical Lessons to Learn, it will be featured in the anthology The Miracle of Love.

When you are not writing, what are your hobbies, passions, etc?

I have a passion for the creative arts in general. I love music, art, theater and literature. Though I love it all, I am especially fond of musicals. One of my favorite ways to perk up on a gloomy day is watching concert footage from The Phantom of the Opera or Les Miserables anniversary specials.  

But more importantly, I cherish spending time with my canine kid, Angel.
  
Bio:

Amy Blizzard is a freelance writer and Indiana native. Her passion for the creative arts began at an early age and is still actively thriving.

In addition to writing fiction, she has worked as a music journalist. For three years, she was a staff member for the music publication and online radio station 'Dixie Streams', where she eventually earned the title of associate editor.

She has published three novels: A Home on the Other Side, The Doctor's Daughter and A Season for Romance and appeared in six Highland Press anthologies: Recipe for Love, Flames of Gold, On a Cold Winter's Night,  Hot Cocoa for the Heart, Love Under the Mistletoe and Comfort and Joy.

Excerpt: The Snowflake Ball, one of the novelettes featured in A Season for Romance

           Woody Larson whistled happily to himself as he wandered through the halls of Indianapolis Medical, wishing a Happy Holiday to all of the patients and employees who passed him. When he reached the door that read ‘ER Lounge’ he strolled inside, greeted by the frazzled voice he had been unable to forget since he first heard it yesterday afternoon.
“There has to be someone who can do it!” Dr. Chloe Miller practically yelled into the telephone as she paced the floor. “Can’t you spare an intern? Or a nurse? How about a janitor?” She paused and gave a defeated sighed. “All right, I understand. Thanks.”
“Sounds like you’re in a bit of a bind.”
Chloe quickly spun around, startled when she saw him standing in the doorway. “You-you, you’re the patient from last night. What are you doing in here, Woody?”
He smiled back at her as intrigued by the hazel eyes sparkling behind her glasses as he had been yesterday. “I asked one of the staff members up front where I could find you and they sent me back here. You look a little different than I remember, Chloe,” he commented, glancing at the baggy red jumper that drug the floor and unruly white wig hiding the soft strawberry-blonde curls he was hoping to touch again.
She crossed her arms and emitted a low groan. “Don’t remind me. You still haven’t answered my question. What are you doing here?”
“I had to come back to see you. That’s what you told me to do if I had any problems.”
“Oh, no, I didn’t mean that you had to come back to literally see me. You need to go back to the ER. You obviously can’t have your hand treated in the employee lounge.”
“That’s all right. My hand isn’t the reason why I’m here.”
“Excuse me?”
“The problem has nothing to do with my hand; you did a fine job stitching it up. It’s another problem I need your help with.”
“Is this some kind of joke? Because I really don’t have time for it.”
Woody shook his head. “No joke. Ya’ see I’m in a bit of a dilemma. Tonight is the Snowfall Ball, the annual holiday gala that all the firefighters in the city attend each winter down at the Community Center outside Circle City Park. And I am without a date.”
“Dilemma,” Chloe muttered as fire began to dance in her eyes. “That’s what you call a dilemma?”
“I realize it may sound unimportant. And in the grand scheme of things a ball definitely isn’t a priority in life. But if you saw how my buds at Ladder 48 would mock me until the next Snowflake Ball, you may find it in your heart to take pity on me and join me tonight at seven.”
“We discussed this yesterday. You’re a patient! Any involvement I had with you began and ended yesterday.”
“I was a patient,” Woody clarified. “And now I’m not.”
Chloe released a ragged breath. “Why are you so persistent?”
“Because I’m interested, and if I may be so bold, I think you are, too.”
“What? Why on earth would you think that?”
He smiled easily. “Because you called me ‘Woody’, you remembered my name.”
“I have a very good memory,” Chloe retorted, turning away from him when her cheeks began to flame with color. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have my own dilemma to deal with.”
“Maybe I can help. What’s your problem?”
“Santa.”
“Really? He always seemed like such a jolly, generous guy, it seems hard to believe he’d be going around causing problems at this time of year with Mrs. Claus.”
“Santa isn’t causing the problem, he is the problem. There is a unit full of kids upstairs expecting to see the big guy in the red suit in fifteen minutes and all I have is a red suit. Dr. Ross came down with a sudden stomach virus, I’ve spent two hours trying to find someone else and-”
Wide-eyed, she stopped speaking and turned back to face Woody. “Are you busy today?”
“Other than trying to talk a reluctant pretty lady into being my date tonight, I’m free.”
“You just got plans,” Chloe informed him as she walked up, stood on her tiptoes and slipped a traditional floppy red and white Santa hat over his wavy brown hair, “and a date. "

 I'd like to thank Jean for having me and helping her fellow authors with this great blog.

It's a pleasure, Amy. Great to meet you.