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Blogging By the Sea
Wednesday, March 26 2014

  Hi folks, It's Michael Bear here again. I promised you an interview with Jake Cameron - that handsome fella that lives next door to the old Jolee place that Zoe Callahan just bought. Poor guy is living in a houseful of females and here comes Zoe - just what he needs, another woman in his life! But he's a good guy with broad shoulders, and you'll just have to read FALLING FOR ZOE to find out how he makes out. (Available by April 5th on Amazon.com and other sites, including this one.)

Hi Jake Cameron, welcome to Blogging on the Beach. Our readers met your new neighbor the other day so now it's your turn to tell us a little about yourself. 

Jake: The name’s Jake Cameron. I’m 34, single again, although I didn't choose to be, and I have three little girls. Well, one of them isn’t so little. She’s 15 going on 21 and it scares the bejeesus out of me. I want to protect her forever, but I’m beginning to realize I can’t and it’s killing me. She’s my little girl, you know? And there’s the twins. They’re five and cute as the dickens. They say the funniest things sometimes, and they always make me smile. I don’t know what life would be like without my girls. I wanted to get a degree in Engineering, but things didn’t work out how I planned. So, I worked my way up from the bottom, and now I’m a construction site manager. I like working out of doors and the job fits. On the side I’m a volunteer fireman. Makes me feel like I’m giving someting back to my community. I’ve got one sister and three brothers. My parents live over on the island and I’m lucky to have such a great family that’s always been there for me. I like kayaking on the sound and fishing, but don’t get much time for either. I didn’t do much to deserve it, but I’m a pretty lucky guy.

Michael: Is there anything  your creator doesn’t know about you?

Jake: Yeah, there’s probably a lot she doesn’t know about me. After all, I’m a guy and she’s not. There are guy things women just don’t get. But the biggest thing?  I guess that would have to be that scene she wrote where I confessed to seducing Marsha Jolee. I did a lot of dumb things back then, but one thing my mom and dad insisted on was whatever else I did, I was going to be a gentleman. So, I let everyone believe it was me that conned Marsha into sneaking off into the bleachers for a little necking party instead of the other way around. Anyway, one thing led to another, and she got pregnant, and that was just as much my fault as hers, but I figured if I took the heat it would go easier on her. That’s the biggest thing Skye Taylor doesn’t know about me. 

Michael: If there was one thing you could change about your life, what would it be?

Jake: Well, like I said a minute ago, I should have kept my pants zipped when I was seventeen, but back then I thought I was invincible.  But since then? My plans for college at UNC got shelved to be a dad, and I should have gone to night school. It always felt like I didn’t have the time what with earning a living and taking care of my family and everything. But that's one thing I regret. 

Michael: When you were a kid did you have a favorite hero? Someone you wanted to grow up to be just like?

Jake: My dad was my hero. He knew everything and everyone looked up to him. Besides my mom told me he was her hero and she never told me anything that wasn’t true. He's still my hero. I just wish I was half the man he is.

Michael: Is there a movie or TV show that's a big favorite, or made a big impression on you?

Jake: Saving Private Ryan was definitely a movie that made a difference in my life. Not the movie so much as what it taught me. Back when I was in school, history wasn't my favorite subject and WWII seemed like ancient history, but this movie made me think about the things my grandfather must have lived through. He never talked about it much, but he was one of the men who went ashore on Omaha Beach on D-day. Granda was one of my heroes, too. Even more so after I saw that movie.

Michael: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose to live?

Jake: Right here in Tide’s Way. It’s where all my family is, except my brother, Philip, but when he comes home, this is where he comes home to. Most of my aunts and uncles live close by over in Wilmington. It's a big family, but I like it that way. I love the ocean and it’s right there where I can see it from my porch. I like knowing everyone in town. It’s a great place to bring my girls up in. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Michael: What advice would you like to share with your readers?

Jake: I'm the last person who should be giving anyone advice. I pretty much learned everything the hard way, making the wrong choices first and then having to live with them or work even harder to put things right. But maybe I’d tell them to keep an open mind and don’t let the mistakes you made in the past keep you from taking a chance when something good comes along. One other thing I've learned is that the only way to get past the things you’re afraid of is to face them head on.

Michael: Somehow, I don't get the feeling there's much you're afraid of. Being a volunteer fireman must take courage, more than most jobs anyway. 

Jake: (chuckling) You'd be surprised how many things scare the pants off me. I just learned how to hide it. Most of the time.  

Michael: Well, it's been nice chatting with you Jake. I wish you well with that sassy, sexy little package that just moved in next door. And try not to worry too much about that teenage daughter. She seems like a fine young lady. 

     

Posted by: Michael Bear AT 10:00 am   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
Monday, March 24 2014

  Next week, FALLING FOR ZOE, book 1 in Skye Taylor's Camerons of Tide's Way series will be available on Amazon.com. But I thought you might like to meet Miss Zoe Callahan ahead of time. Tomorrow, I'll interview Jake Cameron, but today is the heroine's turn. Ladies first. In case you're wondering about me, I'm a small bear who's been everywhere with Skye Taylor, even in her pocket when she jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. She took me to the South Pacific when she served in the Peace Corps and all through Southeast Asia on her way home. I've been to Ireland and Paris, too. So, trust me, I'm in on most of her secrets and I know things even she doesn't know.

Michael: Hi Miss Callahan and welcome to Blogging on the Beach. Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

Zoe: Where do I begin? Let's see, I'm a little bit of Scots and a little bit who knows what but mostly Irish, but then maybe you already guessed that from the name and the freckles and this awful red hair. I’m twenty-seven and completely unattached, but I haven’t given up hope of finding Mr. Right some day. My mom died when I was thirteen, and I was the oldest so I’ve been the lady of the house more than half my life and didn’t have a lot of time for dating and worrying about myself. But that’s about to change. My baby brother is off to college soon, and I just signed away my life to buy my very own home. It needs some work, but I fell in love with it the first time I saw it. I love to imagine my children growing up in this wonderful old house and here in this friendly little town of Tide’s Way. I recently broke up with the guy my father was hoping I’d marry so Dad’s not too happy with me right now.  Porter wasn’t the man I hoped he was, but the less said about him, the better. I work for a really super woman in an Edward Jones office. She’s the Financial Advisor, I do everything else and we have a great partnership. Oh, and I just rescued three pooches from the local shelter. I thought it would be nice to have a dog around now that I would be living on my own, but when I visited the shelter right after they had a big pet adoption event, there were only three pups left. There they were, looking at me with these pleading eyes. How could I choose just one and leave the other two behind? So, life is a little hectic just now, but I’m looking forward to a whole new beginning for all of us.

Michael: Is there anything Skye doesn’t know about you?

Zoe: She has no idea where my name came from. She already knew a lot about me as the story started plotting in her head, but my name popped out of nowhere. She never met anyone named Zoe, but Zoe is Greek and it means alive. And here I was, suddenly alive and helping to write my own story. 

Michael: If there was one thing you would change about your life, what would it be?

Zoe: I wish my mother was still here. I miss her a lot. I know she’s watching out for me from heaven, but that’s not the same as being here where I could hug her any time I wanted. Sometimes I just wish I could talk to her so bad it hurts, you know?

Michael: Yeah, I imagine that's not easy. But back before that, when you were still a kid, who was your favorite heroine?

Zoe: I always wanted to be Heidi. I thought it would be so exciting to live in the Alps and climb the mountain every day with Peter and his goats. She had a lot more freedom than I ever had.

Michael: What’s your favorite movie of all time? 

Zoe: I love the Sound of Music. I went to see it on a stage once, too. But I’ve watched the movie over and over and I never get tired of it. Maybe it’s because I always wanted to be Heidi and live in the mountains like Maria. 

Michael: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose to live?

Zoe: Oh, Gosh. That’s a hard one. I’ve never really been anywhere further away than Washington DC and Florida. The Swiss Alps maybe? But if I lived there, I'd never have found this beautiful old house or met Jake Cameron. 

Michael: What's one thing you've learned about life that you’d like to share?

Zoe: Never give up on your dreams.

Thank you for stopping by Miss Callahan. We'll look forward to your adventures in Tide's Way. Good luck with that big old house and the handsome fella that lives next door. 

     

Posted by: Michael Bear AT 10:00 am   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
Monday, March 17 2014

Falling for Zoe -  by Skye Taylor, coming out this month from Bell Bridge Books. 

The rumble of a diesel engine and the grinding of gears caught Jake Cameron’s attention. He looked up to see a red and white van with the familiar logo of a well known Wilmington moving company. Thankful for any diversion from the unwelcome feelings stirred up by today’s unsettling mail, Jake tossed the stack of letters onto the bench inside the garage door and stepped back outside to watch the movers.

The big van negotiated the sharp turn between the crumbling old brick gateposts guarding their little cul-de-sac and eased around the grassy little island in the center. Jake whistled in mild astonishment as it pulled to a stop in front of the once elegant Jolee homestead that squatted firmly on the rise between the road and the tidal marsh beyond. The real estate market was still agonizingly sluggish, and the neglected building had been vacant ever since the former owner had passed away. The nineteenth-century homes with antiquated everything just seemed to sit forever waiting for buyers with an interest in the unique and historic, or for investors on the lookout for cheap properties they could fix and flip. 

A battered Toyota pickup truck swung around the van and pulled onto the crushed shell drive. Jake started across his lawn, intending to be neighborly and welcome the new guy on the block, whatever his plan for the place. 

The person who slid out of the driver’s seat took him by surprise. She had a wild mane of reddish-gold curls and a figure to grab any man’s instant attention. Jake hesitated, waiting for a husband to appear from the passenger seat, but none did. The woman turned, saw Jake and flashed him a friendly smile.

“Hi!” the woman called in an engagingly musical voice. “Are you my new neighbor?”

Jake yanked himself out of his momentary confusion and finished covering the distance to the drive. He held out his hand. “If you’re moving into this place, then that would be a yes. Name’s Jake Cameron.”

“Nice to meet you, Jake.” Her eyes traveled down over his paint-stained T-shirt and frayed, khaki shorts and came back to his face with a curious sparkle in their greenish-brown depths that made him wonder if he’d left his fly down. “I’m Zoe Callahan.”

“Sorry, I’m kind of a mess. Been painting.” He forced himself not to check the status of his zipper as he shook her hand briefly before jamming his hands into his pockets.

She wasn’t as young as he’d first thought. Late twenties maybe, or early thirties.  She was attractive in a fresh-faced, girl-next-door sort of way. What, he wondered, could have induced this engaging young woman to buy a house that was going to need an army to put it to rights?

“This time next week, I’ll be the one apologizing.” Zoe jerked her head in the direction of the house. “Everything will need painting inside and out, I’m afraid.”

“It’ll take a lot more than a coat of paint to get this place ready to put back on the market.” Jake studied the peeling paint and derelict railings more closely, reflecting on how really bad it had gotten over the months the house had been vacant.

“Oh, I don’t plan to sell it.” Zoe’s hazel eyes widened in exaggerated enthusiasm.  “I’m here to stay.”

“Is . . . is there a Mr. Callahan?”

“Nope! Just me and the menagerie.”

“The menagerie?” Jake felt buffeted by the level of cheerful energy radiating off the woman.

Zoe waved her hand in the direction of the pickup truck. “Yup. Three dogs, two cats, and Polly. And the fish, of course. The dogs are mine. I inherited the rest when my siblings moved out and left them behind. All except Polly. She was Michael’s but his wife refused to have her around after they were married.”

Jake felt like taking a step backwards. “Wow!” he said weakly, trying to imagine the chaotic atmosphere her menagerie brought with them. Was Polly what it sounded like? He gestured vaguely in the direction of the run-down mansion. “So, you made of money, or what?”

Zoe frowned. “Made of money?”

Jake belatedly realized that his comment was both rude and intrusive, although he hadn’t meant it that way. “Just . . . it’s going to take a ton of money to fix this place up. If there’s no Mr. Callahan . . .”

Zoe’s finely arched brows peaked into a challenge.

Now he was being politically incorrect. Nice way to impress the new neighbor, Cameron!

“You think just because I’m a woman, I can’t handle it?”

“Well, no, ma’am.  I . . . ” Jake fumbled. If he was honest, that was exactly what he’d been thinking. It was a beautiful place. Old, rambling and unique, but it had been left untended for far too long. “It’s just that it needs a lot of work.”

“You sound like my father.” Zoe flipped her hand dismissively.

Sounding like Zoe’s father was clearly not a compliment.

“Sorry,” Jake muttered, mentally chastising himself. The woman definitely had spunk. “It’s really a grand old place. Lots of history. Solidly built. Back when houses were built to last for generations. Here—” He reached for his wallet and dug out a business card. “Maybe you’re already in the business, but if not, I’m in construction. I’d be glad to check it out for you. Give you some estimates. Make sure there aren’t any serious problems you’ll need to address right off. I can steer you in the direction of some good craftsmen. Might even be able help out myself on some of the stuff.”

That’s nice! Really nice. Like I don’t have enough to keep me busy as it is? Yet, even as the warning flashed into his head, his fingers relinquished the card.

Something about Ms. Zoe Callahan had grabbed his attention the moment she’d slid from the truck, and wouldn’t let go. She wasn’t beautiful, at least not in the classic sense. Nor did she appear to be the kind of siren who would be all over his brand new return to bachelorhood. Maybe it was the way her lips turned up at the corners as if she found life amusing and dared everyone else to join her. Or perhaps it was the challenge in her peaked brows, when Jake had questioned her intentions for the classic old home.

What was he thinking? Didn’t he already have a houseful of women who tested his peace and sanity? On a daily basis! Had he really just volunteered to add another?

Zoe studied the card then stuck it in her pocket. “Thanks. I just might have to take you up on it. I’m new at the whole home-owner thing.”

“Hey! Ms. Callahan! You need to get inside and tell the guys where you want things put.” The driver of the van approached with a clipboard in one hand. “And I need your check for the balance due, Ma’am.”

Before Zoe could turn away, Jake opened his mouth. “You have any plans for supper? You haven’t even unpacked yet, and you probably haven’t shopped for any groceries, and you’re bound to be hungry.” He was babbling, and he must sound like an idiot. But her kitchen wouldn’t be ready to cook in until sometime tomorrow at the earliest. There was always room for one more at his table.

Zoe’s mouth stretched into an engaging smile that warmed him right down to his toes and rewarded him for his impulsive offer. “That would be wonderful. What time?”

“Sixish sound okay?”

“Six is great. Any meal I don’t have to prepare myself sounds heavenly.” Zoe flashed him another captivating grin and turned back to the van driver.

What have I done? Jake shook his head in disbelief. The last thing I need is another female in my already crazy life no matter how cute she is. That place is going to need a mountain of fixing up. Jake had the sudden, uneasy conviction that Zoe Callahan’s arrival in his life was going to turn out to be even more unsettling than the arrival of today’s mail.

Posted by: Skye AT 10:00 am   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 04 2014

Actually, Ms Reavis doesn’t really know me. She did thank me for a review I gave one of her books, but that’s all there is as far as our friendship goes. The relationship is really about what I’ve been doing the last couple weeks when I should have been sleeping.

One of the perks of being retired is that I get to sleep in and get up when I feel like it rather than when the alarm clock shrilly demands that I roll out and get busy with my day.  I also get to order my days however I like. I can take the time for a lovely long walk on the beach with the dog, and I can step away from my desk to spend time chatting with neighbors who pass by my little bungalow here at the beach. I can do laundry at 10 am or 10 pm, whenever the notion occurs to me. I can pay my bills all at once and be done with it for the month, or as they come in depending on the whim of the day. And I can jump in my car to do an errand right then and there if I want to. Supper could be anytime, from 5:00pm with friends, to 9:00 when I come up for air after an intense few hours of writing. My life, and I love it, is pretty much spontaneous. All except for my life-long habit of reading in bed.

It’s gotten exponentially easier to read in bed, first with the advent of the Kindle that’s a lot easier to control than an oversized hardcover, or a paperback determined to shut every time my finger slips. But now I read in bed mostly on my iPhone because I don’t even need a bedside light. And because I can hold it endlessly in one hand, flicking the pages with the touch of my thumb.

    

And here’s where Cheryl Reavis comes in. My habit is to read a chapter before putting the book down and burrowing into the covers to fall asleep. But Ms. Reavis’ books don’t lend themselves to such arbitrary limits. Like Lay’s potato chips that claim you can’t have just one, I can’t read just one chapter. Her characters are so compelling and their stories so enticing, I find myself glancing at the clock and thinking, Well, it’s only 1:00 am. I can read another chapter. Only to glance at the clock a few minutes later to discover it’s 2:30 in the morning. Or 3:15! My sleeping-in lasts well past sunrise (which is later here than many places). And I also find myself aching to take a nap later on in the day. So you think I’d learn. Don’t take one of this lady’s books to bed with me. Grab a Reader’s Digest maybe, or one of those books you know you should read, but find it hard to get into. But for some reason, I’m a slow learner about this particular issue. Eventually I’ll get to the end of her many books in print, and life might get back to normal.

  

Or not. My life was never all that normal to start with. But in the mean time, I am loving this author’s stories. I’m falling in love with her heroes and rooting for her heroines. So far every book has had a different setting so I get to visit places I’ve never been, some of them in a time I never lived. And I am loving every late night moment.

What author, or authors have you read that you find compelling, enjoyable and worth staying up late to read?

Posted by: Skye AT 12:26 pm   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
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    Skye Taylor
    St Augustine, Florida
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