Island Peril & Backwoods on NetGalley
ISLAND PERIL and BACKWOODS are both available on NetGalley. Please request, read and review if you can. Reviews help readers find books, so they are integral to my success as an author. I appreciate every one.
It started as a girls’ outing to California’s beautiful Channel Islands State Park. When Ella Hammond embarks on a kayaking trip with sexy adventure guide Paul Dawson, sparks fly—but so does gunfire from a boat of drug smugglers.
Now Ella and Paul are on the run, soaked and stranded in a rocky hideout. Ella feels like she’ll never be warm again. Until Paul shares his body heat—igniting a fire between them that’s nearly too hot to handle!
You can add it on Goodreads.
This one is coming May 1st, and Backwoods releases on June 1st. I have exciting news about my next 2-4 books, so stay tuned!!
Around the web
Hello all! Just a quick post to share some Badlands love.
Badlands gets a Top Pick at Book Page!!
It’s a Recommended Read at Dear Author.
All About Romance gives Badlands a B+.
Red Hot + Blue Reads says “I loved the chemistry between Owen and Penny. She was the “gentle” he needed in his life, he was the strength she needed in hers.” <3
BookPushers gives it a B.
4 stars at Tracy’s Place
5 stars from Scorching Book Reviews.
Want more info? RT Book Reviews posted an exclusive excerpt. Owen’s tattoos and connection to a white supremacist prison gang are (understandably) difficult for some readers to swallow. This scene after the kidnapping gives a bit of background on his character.
I’ve seen lots of recs for Aftershock in Badlands reviews, which is wonderful. You can read the series in order–or not. Each book features a different couple and stands alone fairly well (I think).
Thanks so much for reading, buying, reviewing, whatever!! I truly appreciate it. There are some great reviews at Goodreads and Amazon also.
The Salton Sea
The Salton Sea is about a hundred miles east of San Diego, just outside county lines. I first visited it when I was in my early 20s. I remember driving out to the west shore with my boyfriend (now my husband). I was very disappointed upon arrival. California’s largest body of water was hardly the sparkling oasis I imagined. Dead fish littered the shore. It smelled bad. I had no interest in swimming, and swimming is one of the great joys of my life. I’ll swim (almost) anywhere. Not here.
Over the years, my bf/husband and I continued to explore the Anza-Borrego desert, often camping over spring break. It’s kind of “our place.” But we didn’t go back to the Salton Sea until recently.
While I was writing Aftershock, I had no concept or plan for Badlands. I threw in Salton City as Owen’s hometown because it sounded like a harsh place to grow up. The more research I did about the Salton Sea, the more fascinated I became, and the idea for Badlands began to form.
The area has a rich history and there are complex environmental issues, so it’s difficult to sum up in a short post. Some say the entire sea is an accident, formed by a canal that broke and flooded the basin. But the body of water had been there before and dried up. Now the sea is fed by agricultural runoff and is home to a large percentage of California’s migratory birds. Because of the high salinity, only one kind of fish thrives there. When the temperatures rise, oxygen levels fall and the fish die, sometimes by the millions. This is a natural cycle (I think?), not due to pollution, and the fish come back like gangbusters. From what I understand, the salinity is continuing to rise and the water levels are decreasing. If something isn’t done to save the sea, the fish might die off for good and cause the entire ecosystem to crash.
Never heard any of this before? Neither had I, and I live here. There is little public interest for the Salton Sea these days. Back in the 60s, before the salinity killed off the “good” fish and created a stinky wasteland, it was a thriving tourist destination. But the resort area flooded and was never rebuilt. Algae blooms make the water look rusty and gross. The beaches are made of fish bones. Giant piles of fish bones.
For more information, you can visit the Wikipedia page. Googling images of the Salton Sea produces great results. It’s popular setting for photos because of its post-apocalyptic look and proximity to LA.
My photos are sadly lacking, taken at high noon during bad lighting. They don’t begin to capture the sad, ugly beauty of the place. But they’re all I have, because I only post my own pictures for copyright reasons.
This is the Salton State Recreation Area. It didn’t smell that bad. There is a dead bird at my feet.
This close-up shows what the beach is really made of:
These three are of Bombay Beach, the former resort area and the location of Badlands’ climax.
If you’re interested in more fictional representations of the Salton Sea, I can recommend the following.
The God of War, by Marisa Silver, about a boy growing up near the Salton Sea, was one of my favorite books last year.
The Salton Sea with Val Kilmer is a gritty, poetic film about drug addiction and revenge.
Little Birds is a well-done independent film about troubled girls and female friendship.
There are also a number of documentaries, photo essays and nonfiction books on the subject.
Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed the Badlands photo tour. I didn’t include my photos of Slab City, but I’m hoping to revisit that particular crazytown when/if I tackle Ace and Janelle’s story. To be continued?
Hello all! The finale for the Badlands photo tour is coming soon. Until then, how about a widget? My editor sent me this and it’s so cute. You can click on it to browse the first chapter, share it, buy direct from Harlequin. Add it to your widget collection! It’s fun!
Badlands is here!!
Ring in the New Year with Badlands!! It’s available online and in bookstores now.
There are more buy links and an excerpt on the book page. I’m really excited about Owen and Penny’s story. Hope you enjoy it!!
Happy New Year!!
Back to the photo tour…
In Badlands, my brave crusaders flee from danger only to get stranded in deadly 100+ degree temperatures. They travel through dusty canyons and hike uphill for miles in search of the desert’s two most precious resources: water and shade.
The best place to find both is in a palm grove:
During our family travels, we’ve noticed these barrels with hiking logs inside. You can sign your name and date to mark your journey. I’ve seen food and water in these canisters before, though it’s rare. Penny, Cruz and Owen find some much-needed sustenance in a barrel like this. They also take a dip in a convenient oasis to wash off the dust and wait out noontime heat by resting in the shade of the palm fronds. Sounds relaxing, doesn’t it?
Next week: The Salton Sea!
Jill’s Best of 2013
It’s that time of year again! Actually, I can’t remember if I posted a list last year. Some of my favorite books from 2012 were Riveted by Meljean Brook, Ride with Me by Ruthie Knox and Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey. In 2013 I enjoyed some new authors as well as go-to faves. According to Goodreads, I gave the following seven books 5-star ratings:
1. On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves
Loved this so much I bought it for my mom–and she loved it, too. A double winner about a tutor who gets stranded on a deserted island with her teenage student. Over the next 2-3 years, he becomes an adult and her partner in survival. Great action and a touching romance.
2. Close Enough to Touch by Victoria Dahl
I’m a huge fan of this author and I think I’ve read every installment of the Jackson Hole series. I love the female camraderie, the humor, the real-life emotions and the down-to-earth sexiness. 5 big stars for this one.
3. Unbound by Cara McKenna
Weird, wonderful stuff.
4 & 5. Big Boy and Room at the Inn by Ruthie Knox
This author does novellas so well. I thought Big Boy was a knockout and I also really enjoyed Room at the Inn.
6. Now or Never by Logan Belle
Amazing first part of a series featuring a 41-yr. old heroine with breast cancer who wants to live it up while she can. Brave and exciting.
7. Soloplay by Miranda Baker
A buttoned-up librarian discovers her wild side as “Sologirl,” product tester for a sex toy company. Sparks fly when the CEO invites her to test a new line of couples’ toys with him. I liked the way the heroine found her bliss, so to speak, before the hero entered the picture. Kind of a silly premise, but it hit all the right notes for me.
Of the 12 books I rated 4 stars, these two non-romances stand out.
Burning by Elana K. Arnold
Gritty YA novel about a cute boy and a Roma/gypsy girl who meet by chance in a dying desert town.
The God of War by Marisa Silver
I stumbled across this while doing research for Badlands. Poignant coming-of-age story about a boy growing up near the Salton Sea with his troubled mom and disabled brother.
So there you have it, my favorite reads of 2013. Sorry for no links. It took an hour to add the covers and now I’m tired. I hope you’ve had a wonderful reading year!! Happy Holidays.
More Badlands photos and giveaway news coming soon.
Hello again! Today’s photos are from the Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves in the Anza-Borrego Desert.
Mr. and the kids in front of the family truckster.
On the way in.
In Badlands, Penny and Cruz take shelter in these caves for the night. As you can see, the interior is very dark and dusty. There are bats inside. My girls loved crawling around in the tunnels and getting dirty. They’re my little explorers.
More photos coming next week!
Here are some pics of the Goat Canyon Trestle itself, taken by my husband on a subsequent trip with his hiking buddy. You can click on each one for a closer look. I accidentally figured out how to “insert gallery” and show a row of smaller photos. This is so exciting!
In Badlands, Penny and Owen (along with Penny’s young son, Cruz) have to cross this trestle on foot. There are no trains to worry about, but there are plenty of other hazards along the way. High temperatures, thirst, villains in pursuit, heights, dark tunnels that could collapse at any moment…
*bites knuckles* So tense!
Hope you enjoy the ride.