I’d like to begin by thanking Jen at Romancing the Book for having me. I always enjoy reaching out to new readers. For you Romancing the Book fans, I’ve decided to share my Top 5 Places to Visit Before I Kick the Bucket. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to a number of fabulous cities here in the United States as well as internationally, but there are still a number of places and wonders of the world I would love to see.
Top 5 Places I Need to Visit Before Heading to the Big Spa in the Sky
5. Portland, Oregon – I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest, and I have relatives who live there. (I know, shame on me.) So, Portland will hopefully happen sooner rather than later.
4. Hawaii – I’m addicted to the HGTV show Hawaii Life. Each week I jealously watch strangers purchase half-million dollar shoeboxes and I want to be them. I mean, really, who doesn’t want to spend a few weeks in paradise, much less the rest of their lives?
3. Amsterdam – When I was in grad school I bypassed a chance to spend a semester in the Netherlands in order to graduate early. Yup, you guessed it, one of the biggest regrets of my life. What was I thinking? I’ve traveled all over Europe but still haven’t gotten to Amsterdam. Now it’s a nagging little voice in the back of my head that I’d love check off the bucket list.
2. Argentina – When my father was a child he spent his childhood years growing up in Buenos Aires, and a few years ago he returned for a visit. The stories I grew up with, along with the photos from his recent trip,make me long to see the Spanish-style architecture and embrace the laid-back culture. Long live tango!
And the number 1 place I must visit before taking a dirt nap …
1. Egypt – The ancient Egyptian culture of Pharaohs, sphinxes, and pyramids calls to me like a siren’s song. I long to see the hieroglyphic writings on the walls of the Luxor temples and walk through the hallowed halls of Karnak. Egyptology has always fascinated me, and I impatiently await news that one day archeologists will find another tomb even more extensive than Tutankhamun’s.
Ellen Butler lives in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, and is relatively new to novel writing. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and Policy, and her history includes a long list of writing and editing for dry but illuminating professional newsletters, and windy papers on public policy. The leap to novel writing was simply a creative outlet for Ellen’s over active and romantic imagination to run wild.
Art of Affection is the final book in the Love, California Style series. You can find her first two releases, Poplar Place and Second Chance Christmas, at Amazon and other major ebook retailers. Professionally, she belongs to the Virginia Writer’s Club, the Write by the Rails, and is a founding member of the Tempting Romance blog. Ellen is an admitted chocoholic and confesses to a penchant for shoe shopping. Book club questions for Ellen’s women’s fiction novels can be found on her website.
My newest release, Art of Affection, is the third book in the Love, California Style trilogy. The book developed as an offshoot from the original story, Heart of Design. When I decided to write the trilogy I knew that the last book would focus on Holly, the sister of my heroine in the first book. Holly arrives in Heart of Design as a downtrodden woman who’s mustered the strength to take her daughter and leave her abusive husband. In Art of Affection I wanted to show Holly’s character moving beyond her past and into a cheerier place. However, I do place her in some perilous situations before giving her the rewarding HEA.
Here’s a short excerpt from Art of Affection:
“Watch out!” Kaitlin grabbed my arm and pulled me back from the front door. “What is that?” She hid behind me and looked over my shoulder.
A bloody, twisted rat lay in front of the door. It must have been fresh, because itwasn’t covered in ants, nor did it look as though the vultures had dined on it yet. I had atabby in college who presented me with the occasional trophy mouse or bird. Thisdisgusting specimen looked similar. Charming.
“It’s a rat. Looks like a cat left us a present.”
“That’s disgusting. I’m not touching it.”
I didn’t want to touch it either. But I couldn’t leave it sitting in front of the entrywayof the gallery for customers to see. I stepped over the mangled mess. “Come on. Thereare some gloves in the back and a dustpan.”
“Uh, uh. I never signed up for rat disposal.” Kaitlin backed away shaking her head.
I sighed at her immaturity. “Neither did I, but it’s got to be moved. You can eitherscoop it up in the dustpan or hold the trash bag.”
“No scooping. I’ll hold the bag.”
Five minutes later, both of us wore white rubber gloves and Kaitlin stood bent overwith her arms stretched out as far as they could go, holding the bag toward me. Wieldingthe red plastic dustpan, I crouched and quickly shoved it at the rat. Unfortunately, insteadof rolling onto the pan, it rolled away from it.
“Eeep!” Kaitlin dropped the bag and danced away. “It’s alive.”
Oh for heaven’s sake. “It’s not alive. I need a stick or something to help shove it ontothe pan.”
“Whatever. I’m resigning from the rat disposal team.”
I grimaced. “Fine. Go get me a stick about yay thick and two feet long.” My handssplayed out to demonstrate.
Kaitlin headed over to the small treed area next to the parking lot, and I squatted downto make another attempt to scoop up the carcass. No luck.It was this ignoble position in which Gary found me. Luckily, I’d worn slacks todayinstead of a dress, so there was no chance of flashing him my stockings. His unmarkedcruiser rolled up to the curb and the window slid down. My face burned.
“What are you doing?”
“Trying to dispose of a dead rat.” I shoved at it again.
The car shifted into park and he stepped out. “Where did that come from?”
“I suspect a wandering tomcat left it behind.” I continued to regard the rat, tooembarrassed to look at him.
“Here, boss, will this do?” Kaitlin trotted down the sidewalk brandishing a good-sizedstick.
“That’s fine. Thanks.”
Kaitlin gave Gary the once over and pasted on a winning smile. “So, who’s this?”
“This is Detective Sumner, my neighbor. Kaitlin Froggett, gallery assistant.”
He nodded, and I took the stick from her. “Gary, could you hold the trash bag?”
He lifted up the bag and held it open. I pushed the rat onto the plastic pan with thestick, scooped it up, and dropped everything into the bag.
“Don’t you want the pan?”