I feel like I've been waiting forever for this one! In March of 2017, I decided to try my hand at writing a cozy mystery. I'd read several, including my friend and release buddy, Sarah Fox's and I loved the set up.
In May of 2017, I submitted the first book. It wasn't until August 2017 (which is actually fairly quick in the publishing world) that I heard back from Kensington Publishing.
The idea of trying a new genre, and succeeding, was really amazing. I was so thrilled to be working with John Scognamiglio and Kensington/Lyrical.
Though I needed to write two other books for the series, the time between then and today stretched out. Now, finally, it is here and I'm so thrilled to be able to hold it in my hands and share it with all of you.
I hope you enjoy Molly's story, the mystery, and the town of Britton Bay. For romance lovers, I have a feeling you'll be fond of Sam. Thank you to everyone who read, liked, reviewed, talked about the book and for all of the support I've had. I'm very excited to be part of the cozy world and hope you can drop by Facebook tonight to celebrate with Sarah Fox and I at our Cozy Seaside Celebration.
Today is the release of Never Expected You, my sixteenth published story. I will be brutally honest and tell you, it was the hardest one I've written. I have no idea why or what made it so challenging compared to the others, but because I struggled so much with it, I was very worried about how people will feel after reading it. Let me just say, I'm more than a little relieved and thrilled that readers are enjoying it.
This is one of those books that just hit every emotional button and left me happy and satisfied.
~Bette H.~ Goodreads reviewer
I can always count on Jody Holford to deliver beautifully layered, heartfelt romances. And, deliver she did - on every level.
~Bookgasms Book Blog
So many things have changed since my first foray into publishing. The one thing that hasn't is how grateful I feel to be part of this amazing writing community, to have a wealth of supporters who make me feel like I'm doing what I should, and to have actual readers who look forward to my books.
To celebrate the release, I'm giving away a signed paperback copy of Let it Be Me and some swag. Thanks for reading.
Because I'm getting antsy to share, I'm letting you see the first chapter of book 2 in the Love Unexpected Series, NEVER EXPECTED YOU. I'm excited for you guys to meet Stella and Zach. It might not be a holiday where you are, but it is here, so Happy B.C. Day!
With all the things she’d been through in the last year, Stella Lane had no intention of letting a bird get the best of her. She stared up at the pain-in-the-ass-albeit-kinda-cute parakeet
trying to poke holes in her good intentions. It was just after ten a.m. and she was ready to call it a day. She wasn’t even supposed to be working today, and she’d already helped a Great Dane through a tricky delivery, given shots to a very sweet kitty, and had her purple Converse puked on by a nervous labradoodle.
Just another day at the office. She grinned, thinking it could be worse. Right now, the bird was just flying around. At least he wasn’t dive bombing her or leaving messes everywhere. The bird chirped, mocking her as it flew a little higher in the reception area.
“Come down here and say that,” Stella sang out in a syrupy voice. She crooked her finger, like somehow that was a magic spell. She snorted out a laugh. Didn’t work on men, it wasn’t likely to work on a damn bird.
As she inched toward the other side of her waiting room counter, she kept her sight glued to Pedro, certain those marble-sized eyes were sparkling with mischief. Stifling a yawn, Stella reached up and held out a hand, willing the bird to perch on her fingers.
When the door behind her swung open, she whirled. She was not the bird’s biggest fan at the moment, but she was pretty sure her owner wanted her back. Seeing as this particular owner actually paid in cold hard cash rather than most of Brockton Point’s preferred currency of casseroles and favors, Stella needed to keep the animal safe.
“Close the door. Quick,” Stella called, looking up into a gorgeous set of eyes that were somewhere between gray and blue.
Wow. When she’d signed up for another veterinarian practicum student, she hadn’t considered he might be smoking hot. Truthfully, she hadn’t thought much about it at all, since it
was routine. But this guy was enough to make her forget she was on a mission to catch a bird. Business and pleasure do not mix. The lesson might as well have been tattooed on her skin. Plus, Hot Guy was late, and that was as irritating as Pedro’s taunting. Okay, squawking, but it feels like taunting.
The heat of summer and the scent of cologne wafted through the door before he could get it closed. It was a powerful combination, but Stella regrouped and turned back to the bird.
“Bird trouble?” the man asked, his voice low and amused.
She sent another quick glance his way. He was easily a foot taller than her, but that was nothing new. At five feet, most people towered over her. Those smoky blue-gray eyes stared
back, crinkling around the corners. His dark hair was cut short on the sides and perfectly styled on the top—like the thirteen minutes he was running behind had been used to sculpt it into
“You could say that. You’re a bit late,” she answered. Cut him some slack. It’s not Dexter’s fault Pedro’s owner thought he could walk right in and drop off his pesky pet.
The student’s brows rose. “I’m sorry?”
Stella noted the light gray T-shirt and jeans, thinking that while they looked damn good on him, it wasn’t the typical student attire for the first day. Most practicum students—especially
those in their final leg—were eager to impress the veterinarian they worked with in hopes of securing a position. Not that she was hiring. Unfortunately, free labor was all she could afford.
She had a solid relationship with the University of Maine and didn’t want to wreck that by snapping at her newest recruit. Or hitting on him. It was hard to ignore the fact that he looked
more like he’d walked off a movie set than a college campus.
Focus. The last thing she needed was to cut off the supply of free, educated help. Pedro eyed the new guy, who took small, soft steps and made a clicking noise with his
tongue. Stella appreciated the initiative.
“She startles easily. Have you worked with many birds?” Stella asked, moving with a stealthy slowness to shut one of the open exam room doors.
“I’ve worked with a few different breeds. Mostly tropical.”
Interesting. She wondered if he’d done any of his earlier schooling overseas. She would have loved an opportunity like that, but her goal had been to come back and work with her dad.
That had trumped any other job offers. The bird fluttered her wings. Oh no you don’t. With the doors all shut, Stella knew it was just a matter of time. She hadn’t been able to give Pedro an
injection, but the bird was older and likely to tire soon.
Pedro cooed at Stella’s new student. Actually cooed. Traitor. “She likes you,” Stella said, trying not to scowl.
Maybe Pedro could sense Dexter Braun’s—which was the name on the files she’d received earlier that week—patience. Animals sensed emotions and Stella’s were riding high.
Running on too little sleep and knowing she had to ask a big favor of a petty person later today had stretched her nerves thin. When Dexter shot her a lopsided smile, her belly rolled over like an easy-to-please puppy. You’re as bad as Pedro. You might as well coo. Nope. No. No. Not only would she be his boss, but she didn’t do relationships. Ever. Not anymore. Flings, sure. Though even those had become a thing of the past. For the last several months, all she did was work. A work fling would be convenient, except for the multitude of gray areas. Gray was an off-limits color in Stella’s world. Black and white suited her just fine. She thought about his eyes again but didn’t let herself look. She needed more caffeine.
Her brain didn’t usually travel so many tangents at once.
“Did you hear me?” Dexter asked.
Stella widened her eyes and realized she’d completely zoned out—and it wasn’t even about work.
“No. Sorry. What did you say?”
“If you sit in one of the chairs, she might feel less threatened. Both of us shuffling her into a corner probably makes her nervous,” he cautioned. Holding a muscled, tanned arm out in a
way that showed a hint of dark ink near the cuff of his short sleeve, he placed his palm upward.
Stella sat and watched. “She’s not nervous. She doesn’t want a shot.”
Dexter smiled. “Parakeets are quite intelligent. Perhaps she senses your underlying disdain for her.”
Stella arched a brow, unsure if she was amused or annoyed. Mr. University of Maine Veterinarian School certainly wasn’t shy. “Well, Dexter, if she’s that smart, she’ll realize drawing blood is immediate grounds for disdain. If you’re smart, which I’m guessing you are, you’ll realize the combination of being bitten by our clever pal, not having enough coffee, and
having a practicum student arrive late are grounds for irritable outbursts.”
Dexter’s eyes widened. “Actually, I’m not—”
Stella held up her hand. “Shh!” Did Pedro just move closer? The parakeet seemed to have shifted down the wall. Dexter grabbed a dog treat from a bowl on the counter and crumbled some
of it into his palm, once again holding it face up.
“Come here, girl. You’ve caused enough havoc for one day. Come on down and say sorry to the pretty doctor before she gives in to one of those outburst urges.”
Despite herself, Stella grinned. “Right. She’s so not coming down for me.”
Stella had a feeling females of all species listened when the sexy-doctor to be spoke in that low, gravelly voice he’d just used.
Pedro inched along the wall at a diagonal, coming closer without a lot of wing movement. Dexter patiently held his hand aloft and leaned against the reception counter.
“Is it always this quiet in here?”
Stella laughed. “No. Honestly, it hasn’t been this quiet in months. But I was supposed to be closed today.” So I could meet you and then go grovel to the bank.
Dexter crossed his ankles over each other and turned his gaze to her instead of the bird. “Is Pedro an overnight visitor?”
“No. I was coming in to check on some of the animals and Mr. Sutter caught me outside before I could tell him I was closed. I rarely am.”
Since they were waiting on the whims of the bird, Stella decided to use the time to her benefit. She had a standard routine with new students, starting with getting to know them. “Why vet school?”
He glanced at her, seemingly weighing his words.
“I kind of fell into it actually. I always wanted to work with animals, but I joined the army and realized the number of animals impacted by combat is disgustingly high. It didn’t seem
right, so it became my focus.”
Admiration and warmth filled her chest. He’d done a lot in a short period of time. She’d had lots of late bloomer students, but she’d thought his paperwork said early twenties. That was a
lot of experience for someone so young. The idea that he’d put his heart and talent into animals in such conditions was more swoon worthy than the flex of his biceps when he stretched out his arm and rubbed two fingers together, calling to the bird again.
“Have any of your rotations included surgery?” Stella asked, afraid to move when Pedro lowered her position about a foot.
Before he could answer, Pedro swooped down toward Dexter’s outstretched palm and actually settled on his arm.
“Son of a bitch,” Stella muttered under her breath.
“Hi, sweetie. Hungry?” The bird pecked at his hand.
Stella rose slowly as her show-off student stroked the bird’s feathers. The stupid bird actually preened. Dexter’s hands were large, with long fingers that easily wrapped around the
Pedro’s body, preventing the bird from spreading her wings.
When he looked at Stella, his smile made her stomach somersault again.
With a cocky nod of his head, he asked, “What now?”
Stella laughed quietly. Gesturing for him to follow her into the exam room Pedro had escaped from, she glanced over her shoulder. “Let’s see how docile she is for you while I give
her a shot.”
Dexter’s chuckle vibrated in the small, sterile room and sent shivers over Stella’s skin. Or maybe it’s just cold in here. Right. It was cold.
They made it through the shot a lot easier with four hands, and when Pedro was back in her cage, dozing off, Stella breathed a sigh of relief. Dexter was making himself comfortable, looking around the open reception room while
Stella wrote up her notes. She’d never had a student with such…sex appeal? A sculpted body? Mesmerizing eyes?
“Confidence!” Stella closed her eyes when she realized she’d blurted the word out loud.
“Pardon me?” Dexter moved closer, but she refused to look at him.
“Uh, nothing. I’m just making notes.”
“You’re putting something in your notes about Pedro’s confidence?”
Stella looked up, and sure enough, Dexter had crowded way too close, his eyes locked on hers doing strange things to Stella’s sorely deprived libido. “I am. Yes.”
Right. Stick to your story. The look on his face proved he didn’t believe her.
Straightening, she closed the file and walked to the cabinet to put it away. She needed to reattach her walls of professionalism. This guy had definitely caught her at a weak moment, and she prided herself on not having many.
“There are no other patients in clinic today, so I’ll show you around, but I do have some errands I need to run in a bit. Plus, I have farm visits. You can fill out some paperwork and then
we’ll head down to the stables. I need to check on my horse.” Just the thought of spending a few minutes with Chocolate Chip made the tension slip from her shoulders. Too bad she didn’t have time for a ride today.
Grabbing her boots from under the counter, she switched her Converse for them, then grabbed the clipboard with the paperwork.
“So, listen,” Dexter said, taking the clipboard from her after looking at it like it might bite him.
Now he was nervous? Stella headed for the door with him on her heels. It would be easier to rebuild those sex-starved barriers if she wasn’t breathing in the delicious smell of him. Six weeks. She could handle six weeks with a sexy, smirky student if he was as competent as he appeared. They’d barely stepped off the porch of the clinic her father had built before she was born when a tow truck came rumbling up the drive.
Stella shielded her eyes to block the already hot sun. Dexter shoved his hands into his pockets and rocked back on his heels.
“You fix cars as well as animals?”
“Not so much,” she replied, not recognizing the tow truck driver or the passenger.
The big truck pulled a small, beat up two-door vehicle behind it. Her own dogs, Nacho and Soda, howled from the wraparound porch of the farmhouse she’d grown up in. It sat a short walk away on a small incline.
The tow truck driver parked, and the guy in the passenger side rushed out, almost bailing on the gravel drive.
“Slow down, guy,” Dexter mumbled.
Stella winced, amused at Dexter’s commentary but worried the person rushing them would face-plant in her clinic parking lot. He reminded her of one of her labs as puppies, all feet and ears.
“Something I can do for you?” Stella called as he continued to rush over to her.
Dressed in light chinos and a button up shirt, he straightened his shoulders like he was just now thinking of making a good impression.
“Hi. I’m so sorry for being late. Are you Doctor Lane?”
Stella’s brows scrunched together. Dexter mumbled something under his breath that sounded a lot like “uh-oh.”
“I am. And you are?”
He stopped in front of her, his breath choppy and his smile crooked. He had curly dark hair and the slightest hint of stubble on his young-looking face.
“I’m Dexter Braun, ma’am. From the University of Maine Veterinarian Program. My faculty associate arranged my practicum with you. I truly apologize for being late. My car broke down about fifteen miles from here. I tried to call but it went to voicemail.”
Stella’s heart hammered uncomfortably. Turning slowly, she saw who she thought was Dexter staring at her with an abashed forgive-me grin.
This ought to be good. This is exactly what happens when you get sucked in by sexy eyes and a killer smile.
She covered her chagrin with a glare. “Who the hell are you?”
It feels strange, after the hustle and bustle of Christmas and my latest release, LET IT BE ME, for it to already be the end of February. I've barely gotten used to writing 2018. I'm really happy with the books I released last year and am so happy that people enjoyed them.
So what will 2018 bring? Well, next month (or next week if you're keeping track of the calendar) I'll be giving away the second Cooper & Ellie story via my newsletter. I released their first story, SOME KIND OF CHRISTMAS, in November. This new story, SOME KIND OF LOVE, is about both of them being ready to take their relationship to the next level.
Those of you who read my books know that I'm a closed door sort of writer. Which made writing a book where the character's main goal was to sleep with her boyfriend a little difficult. But I think I pulled it off and stayed true to my style. You can sign up for my newsletter here and you'll get your instafreebie link on March 1st. I'm eagerly waiting to see my cover for it, which is being designed by the lovely Tanya Baikie.
What then? I'm in the middle of edits (a.k.a rewrites) for book 2 in the LOVE UNEXPECTED series: NEVER EXPECTED YOU. This is Stella and Zach's story and I'm really hopeful people will enjoy it. Hard not to enjoy a hot, former army sergeant veterinarian who comes home and falls in love with the lovely and jaded small town woman who is just trying to keep her head above water. This one releases on September 24th, 2018. I'm doubly excited about this date because my good friend, Christina Hovland, is also releasing her book that day with Entangled. You guys are going to LOVE her book.
After that, I'll be sharing a release date with another author (and friend) that I absolutely adore; Sarah Fox. We are both releasing cozy mysteries. It'll be my first, but not hers. If you haven't read any of her stories, you really should. Sarah and I are trying to hang out on our Facebook page: Cozily Ever After. Come check it out.
In between edits and writing, I've been working on proposals for new books and developing ideas that I hope, one day, come to life. It'll be a big chunk of time between sharing my Cooper and Ellie story and my next official release, so in the words of Glass Tiger, "Don't forget me when I'm gone", because I will definitely be back.
Today is the day. LET IT BE ME is the first book in a new series about LOVE UNEXPECTED. All of these characters are not expecting to find their other half in quite the way they do. I hope you'll enjoy the town of Brockton Point, Maine and the people you'll meet there. Come visit me on USA TODAY'S Happily Ever After blog today!!
LOVE UNEXPECTED SERIES from Entangled Publishing
Stop by Jennifer Shirk's and my own Facebook page tomorrow for a chance to win a signed paperback copy of EACH of our new releases!
To celebrate both of our releases this month (both of us are starting a new series so it's very exciting) we'll be doing a rafflecopter draw for a $25.00 amazon gift card! Feel free to share.
Tomorrow I am releasing my SIXTH Christmas title in four years. You might think I'm a little obsessed, but I can't help it. There's something so perfectly harmonious about romance during the holidays. It's that time of year when we believe more, care more, and feel more. Not for everyone, obviously, but even those that find the holidays difficult can use the smile that comes with a sweet story meant to do nothing other than make you feel good. Tomorrow's release is very short and very sweet. It features Ellie and Cooper who I hope you'll enjoy meeting. I plan to have three more mini stories about them over the next year, culminating in the fourth and final mini next....you guessed it, Christmas.
It's never too soon for a season that inspires us to be a little kinder and be more aware of the impact we can have on the lives of others. The world needs more happy and writing these stories pulls me away from all of the reasons why.
Other holiday titles...
Want a bonus, not available online, Christmas short? If you sign up for my newsletter here, you'll get a free mini story featuring Sam and Anna from Forever Christmas. It's called Forever Plus One.
Tomorrow is the first of a few events coming up to celebrate the release of More than Friends. Gabby and Owen's story is one that I'm very excited to share. Gabby has loved Owen for some time now, but as he's usually got his eyes on a computer screen, he seems to have missed her looks of longing. When Owen's white lie backfires, he needs Gabby's help and saying yes to being his fake girlfriend might be her only chance to know what it is like to have an all access pass to the man that owns her heart. She doesn't want to fool herself into believing he could ever feel the same, but soon, lines are blurred and Gabby isn't the only one who's not pretending.
Join me tomorrow for a Blissfully Sweet Event over at Ramblings with This Chick.
On Wednesday, you can join me and fourteen other authors for a Romancing the Holidays Hop!
If you've already read my most recent holiday stories, Falling for Kate or More than Friends, head over to Amazon and pick up one of my other Christmas reads.
Congratulations to my agency mate on the upcoming release of her book, SKIN.
With a name like Ocean, you’d think moving to Prince Edward Island would be simple. But since seventeen year old Ocean crossed that huge bridge to the land of red sand, her life has been far from normal—it’s been downright dangerous.
Trouble seems to follow her everywhere, and she’s got the bruises to prove it. And then there’s her mysterious neighbour, Sam...who seems to know more about her history than she does herself.
When Ocean finally steps into the salty waves with Sam, she realizes that her life has been based on a lie, and that she is missing something...something she never knew existed.
Want a sneak peek?
The moon is so bright outside it’s casting shadows in my room, bathing everything in grey, dim light. I walk to the window, touch the photo still pinned to the wall, and look out at the beach. My hand falls, and my thumb slides to Dad’s ring, twisting it around and around and around.
It’s as if there’s a huge, lunar spotlight in the night sky, shining on the waves and blowing grasses. I have an urge to go out and walk in the waves. I can almost hear voices in the crash of the water—comforting voices—but Mom would have a hissy-fit if she found out I’d gone to the ocean alone. I sit down and sip my water, watching.
There’s someone walking along the beach, and I’m sure it’s Sam. His hair and the smooth way he walks—that lithe, almost animal stalk could only be him. Whether it’s real or a trick of the light, I think he might be naked. He’s carrying something in his arms— maybe it’s his clothes—but he walks into the waves with whatever it is like he’s going for a moonlight swim. He goes deeper and deeper until I only see the blink of his head. That too disappears beneath the waves.
I don’t see him resurface.
BRENDA COREY DUNNE
Brenda Corey Dunne grew up in rural New Brunswick, Canada. She originally trained as a physiotherapist and worked several years as an officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force before meeting her Air Force pilot husband and taking her release.
She has two other published novels, DEPENDENT (2014) and TREASURE IN THE FLAME (2012).
Brenda is represented by Frances Black of Literary Counsel. She currently resides on the Pacific Coast of Canada, but home is wherever the RCAF sends her hubby, and she’ll be moving to the Washington, DC area in the summer of 2016.
When not writing, working or taxiing her three children she can be found either in the garden or on the beach with a book in one hand and a very, very large coffee in the other.
Connect with Brenda online
Our second release as co-authors is out today! Make sure you scroll through the entire page for a chance to win a $25.00 gift card from Amazon
They can pretend they’re fine…
Moving to NYC is supposed to be the fresh start Kristy Andrews so desperately needs, but she can't seem to shake the after-effects of having been kidnapped last year.
Detective Jackson Reed never meant to kill an innocent man, but knowing that doesn’t change the guilt he lives with every single day.
But they can’t hide forever…
When Kirsty and Jackson meet, the connection is instantaneous, but neither is ready to open up about their pasts. Can love and trust conquer their demons?
In order to have a future, they’ll have to face their past…
When Kristy starts receiving threatening messages, her anxiety kicks into overdrive, but the last thing she wants is Jackson worrying about her.
Jackson may doubt his ability to return to active duty, but he has no doubts about his instincts concerning Kristy. Someone is trying to hurt her, and he refuses to let that happen, even if it means going back to work; something he wasn’t sure he’d do.
As the threats increase, Jackson shows Kristy that strength doesn’t mean facing her fears alone, and Kristy shows Jackson that forgiveness starts from within. Can they save each other before it’s too late? Or will the past come back to haunt them?
Jaded Love is proof positive that a romance novel doesn't need sex scenes to be a fantastic book. Great characters, a good story line, a little suspense, a little romance are enough.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
JODY QUESTIONS KARA
I had such a clear image of Dr. Parker and Alessa and the overall arc of their story. But more than that, I had a need, a burning desire if you will, to ensure the emotional impact of this story hit the mark. I knew how I felt when I started creating it, and I was desperate almost to make sure whomever I shared this with could see and feel the same emotional punch that I did. So, yes, for that reason, I was scared to share that. I mean, what if my co-author didn’t see the story the way I did?
When we (me and Anaiah) began to read through the entries, the very first thing I looked for was the emotionality of the sample. It had to move me in some way. If it did, then I began to look at other aspects -- grasp of grammar and the basic mechanics of storytelling, the author’s personality, and I even stalked you on social media. Ha! Bet you didn’t know that.
2. You wear many hats in this industry: editor, author, at one time, an agent. How does having a background in each of these, or a strong knowledge of the inner workings of the different aspects of publishing, help you in each of these roles, particularly the writing?
Yeah, I wear too many hats. Want one? ;-) I think knowing and seeing and working in all of these different areas of publishing certainly helps with my writing. I have a very firm grasp on what agents / editors are looking for, what the basic thought process is when reading submissions, and overall, I think it just keeps me grounded in reality. I have no delusions about how the entire process works.
3. What do you think the hardest part of being an author is and why?
Honestly, everything! lol. Writing that first draft takes time, dedication, perseverance, and skill. Then you have to revise, which can be, at times, as pleasant as a root canal. Then there’s the ridiculous amount of time spent waiting -- waiting for an offer of representation, waiting for a publishing contract, waiting for edits, waiting for release day. Oh, and let’s not forget all the anxiety that comes from actually putting all your hard work out there and hoping readers like it. What if they don’t?? *gasp* On the flip side, all of these things are also awesome and fun and scary in a good way because they all add up to one thing --- You’ve published a book!!!
But, for me, the absolute hardest part is ending a book or a series and having to say goodbye to characters you’ve fallen in love with.
4. How are Josh and Jackson similar and different?
I don’t know. You helped write them, you should know. LOL. Kidding. They are very similar in that they both go above and beyond for those they love, their friends, family. The women they love. They’re both strong, confident men but aren’t overbearing or controlling in anyway. Jackson is much more guarded than Josh, but deep down, they have huge hearts. Could you imagine what Jackson’s bedside manner would be like? Hahaha. Josh definitely has a much more open, softer side, which is ultimately what makes him such a great doctor.
5. Kristy is Alessa’s best friend. They matter so much to each other. Who is the friend you’d face a kidnapping madman for?
My friend Christina. We met in the 5th grade, and are still friends today. We’ve been through some major highs and lows together. College. Children. Marriage. Divorce. Deaths :-( It’s the type of friendship that can withstand long periods of time without talking, and when we do chat, it’s like we never lost a moment.
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