My “A” Connections

Posted Jun 6 2011, 12:01 am

I’m very pleased and proud to introduce Ramona Butler, one of my Romance Writing Wenches of Reno! Ramona is celebrating the release of her novella, BORDER HEAT from Champagne Books.

Congratulations, Ramona! Love your cover! Just a couple of quickie questions before I hand it off to you.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing forever, but not for publication, just to maintain my sanity. My mother believed children should be “seen, not heard.” So, growing up, I put my “voice” on paper. And I’ve continued to do so throughout my life, writing 20 page letters to farflung friends and family. The bug to be published didn’t bite until I retired.

Where can a person buy your book?

BORDER HEAT is an electronic book, available from Champagne Books —

Any other books you want to tell us about?

Yes. I’ve co-authored several books with Louise Crawford. They’re available from Amazon/Kindle ebookstores —

What’s the best thing about writing for you?

The best thing about writing is getting to hang out with writers. Interesting bunch of people. Love ’em.

Thanks so much for sharing with us today. And best of luck with BORDER HEAT.  (Scroll to the bottom to read an excerpt.) Take it away, Ramona!

On vacation in Custer, South Dakota, last month, a clerk in the gift shop said to me, “Oh, I see you like A things.” I looked at my collection of souvenir purchases and tried to see what she saw there. Only later did it dawn on me, she was commenting on the sweatshirts hubby and I were wearing, mine with “Australia” emblazoned across the front, his with a less-obvious “Alaska” on his chest. Duh! I wanted to go back and apologize to the clerk for wondering what she’d been smoking.

 Her comment, however, started me thinking about how many significant “A” things had occurred in my life. The first, I was born in August, in Arkansas, and my mother’s name was Aline. Then, because my brother developed asthma, our family moved to Albuquerque, where I graduated high school and got married. Then, my husband and I adopted a son, and later a daughter, who was born in April. Years later, while I was an analyst for the State of California, I became a grandmother of April-born twins. Later still, I was blessed with three great-grandsons, the youngest of which is named Adam. Then came two beautiful great-granddaughters, the latest, Audrey Jade Hope, born only weeks ago, in April.

 This brings me to another “A” constant in my life, as well as in yours, vitamin A.

 Who knows how writers’ brains work and the connections our minds make, right? To explain, I’ve never known a writer who wasn’t also an avid reader. So we reader/writers definitely need our vitamin A, especially since a topical application of it (eye drops) helps to relieve dry-eye discomfort.

 But wait, vitamin A is important for other reasons, too. In fact, it’s like “medicine” for the immune system, as it keeps skin and mucous membrane cells healthy and resistant to bacteria and viruses. Even resistant to some cancers.

 So eat your veggies, especially your sweet potatoes, which are loaded with vitamin A. And please use those healthy eyes to check out my brand new, electronic book, BORDER HEAT, a fast-action, romantic adventure, which was released today by Champagne Books.


You can visit Ramona at


Reno travel agent Caroline Cody wasn’t amused.

Just what I need. Two aging nymphomaniacs to make the next week interesting.

The only reason she was even with this tour group was because her co-worker Thelma Johnson–the deserter–bailed. Retired! That very morning! Simply slammed closed the Copper Canyon Tour folder and walked off the job. Leaving their boss with his jaw hanging open.

But not for long. Because that’s when Caroline’s office chair gave a loud squeeeeaaak.

The boss didn’t blink, he simply tossed the tour packet to her and pointed her in the direction of the airport.

Her job: Fly to Mexico. Join the group taking the tour scheduled to board the Copper Canyon train in the morning. Evaluate that tour through the Barrancas del Cobre.

Great. Just great, she muttered to herself. Never a big fan of train travel, she’d immediately become less of one when she opened the tour packet and a damn Tarot Death card fell in her lap.

She’d ignored it, stuck it in her purse, yet couldn’t stop wondering about its tie-in with this “senior-friendly” tour.

So here she sat in a Chihuahua, Mexico, cantina. My graying predecessor would have fit right in, Caroline mused, noticing that she was the only person attached to this group who was under–way-y-y-y under–retirement age.

“Look what just wandered in off the north forty,” cooed Daisy, the pixie-faced matron seated across the table. “Yum.”

“Yum doesn’t begin to cover it, and I’m not talking about the food,” Lilith, Daisy’s gray-haired neighbor, declared. “Younger man, older woman. Peachy keen. We only live once, right?”

Caroline lifted her gaze to follow that of the wanna-be cougars.

Omigaaawwwwd. Her heart stuttered, then tried to climb out of her chest.

Hottie at twelve o’clock. Dark-eyed. Tanned, chiseled face. He looked too intense, too brutishly handsome for polite society.

Her tablemates had pegged the fierce-looking individual a cowpoke. His rangy movements did appear well-suited to denim. Instead of jeans, however, he wore close-fitting gabardine pants, a western-cut jacket, and bolo tie. With his sun-bleached mane brushing his collar, he reminded Caroline of the wild palomino she’d coveted as a teen.

The cowboy-hottie threaded his way through the crush of cantina customers toward their table. As he approached, Lilith, with a move so smooth it appeared choreographed, scooted over one chair, leaving the only vacant seat directly across from Caroline.

He pulled out the empty chair and folded his frame into it. That’s when she noticed his nametag: Jess Hightower, Tour Leader.

He projected a powerful presence suggesting coiled strength, a man completely at ease with himself. She envied him that.

But when Hottie merely nodded and buried his head in his tour packet, Lilith gave an offended sniff and Daisy looked disappointed. Caroline tagged him as one of those macho types, prone to say nothing unless talking about themselves. He studied the tour schedule so intently she made a mental note to research his “Tour Leader” experience.

She turned her attention to her stomach, which shouted “Feed me” every time the door to the kitchen opened. As if on cue, a waitress set chips and salsa on the table. Food! She dipped a warm chip in the bright red condiment.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” With his tawny head bent to his trip packet, Cowboy’s voice was little more than a muffled rumble.

Caroline’s hand stalled halfway to her mouth. She’d had her fill of people giving her unsolicited advice. “Were you speaking to me?” The words came tinkling out of her mouth like a rain of icicles.

Cowboy looked up, his eyes darker than a stormy sky. “That stuff’s liquid lava. So unless you like it hot…” He leaned back in his chair, letting his gaze travel down the front of her designer-knockoff suit, then back up again, the harsh lines in his face softening somewhat during the journey.

Or had she imagined it?

Heat spread into areas more intimate than she cared to acknowledge.

“But–” he pinned her with a steady scowl “–I can tell you’re a woman who does what she damn well pleases, regardless of what anyone tells her.”

Each and every one of the two dozen senior citizens at the table stopped their chit-chat and turned to listen to the exchange. Caroline felt her face flame. She didn’t want to be the center of their attention tonight and their gossip tomorrow. But she didn’t intend to let this bucko get the best of her. Not when she’d been working so hard to reinvent herself.

Granted, Hottie was sexy as all get out, but she hadn’t had a bite of real food the entire day, in-flight peanuts notwithstanding. It was now two hours past her normal dinner hour, and she was hungry enough to hijack the sizzling fajita platter from the young lovers at a nearby table.

She wasn’t about to explain all this, however, to the broad-shouldered cowboy with the insolent look.

Determined, she glared back at him, the mouth-watering tidbit poised an inch from her lips. At that exact moment, her stomach gave a loud embarrassing growl.

Devilment lit his eyes.

That did it! She popped the long-awaited morsel in her mouth before sending Cowboy a sharp, “Would you be so kind–Oh-h-h-h-h…” The inside of her mouth ignited. Her tongue, her teeth, her esophagus. Every flaming pore. “Oooh-h-hhh!!!”

In self-defense, her throat spasmed shut. She couldn’t speak, couldn’t swallow, couldn’t breathe.

She reached for her water glass, but hit the margarita pitcher, knocking it backward. Crushed ice and pale green liquid exploded across the table–and into Hottie’s lap.

“Holy–” He leaped to his feet, upsetting his chair in the process of unrolling his long, tall self.

Caroline stared at his snug-tight trousers and ice-encrusted fly. “You!” She sputtered at her secret thoughts. “You… ”

Unable to remember any ladylike words, she left the phrase to dangle.

“Me!” His eyes flashed obsidian fire. “You’re the self-destructive female that frosted my–” He clamped his jaw shut, made a swipe at his iced zipper.

Lilith convulsed with laughter. “Allow me,” she chortled.

He shot her a warning scowl, bent to pick up his overturned chair. As he did, his muscular thigh caught the edge of the table, lifting it, dumping drinks, chips, and fiery salsa on Caroline as it toppled over.

She stared in shock at the crimson blotch dripping down her suit jacket.

For an instant, the entire cantina echoed with stunned silence. Then as the comic aspects of the scene registered, a giggle bubbled up from the desolation of Caroline’s heart. She focused on the intriguing individual who was her unwilling partner in the ridiculous fiasco. “I am so-o-o sorry.”

The rest of her apology was drowned out by applause that erupted throughout the dining room. Hottie glared at her as though infuriated with all mankind. He surveyed the crowd, then growled an oath, gave her a sweeping bow, and strolled out of the cantina.

Daisy tugged at Caroline’s sleeve. “Do you think being iced down like that will do any permanent damage?” she asked with exaggerated innocence, eyes twinkling.

Caroline almost choked on her enchilada.



14 responses to “My “A” Connections”

  1. Suzanne says:

    WTG Ramona! What a great intro–two aging nymphomaniacs? Just gotta read more. And the salsa “meet cute”–priceless! My tongue is blistered from your evocative description. BORDER HEAT is definitely on my must read list.
    Best of luck with your book sales,

    • Ramona says:

      So glad you could take a few moments while globe-trotting, to drop by. And thanks for the kind words. Yes, even senior citizens dream of being cougars. ha ha ha

  2. lynda says:

    Great to have you *here* this morning! I woulda been the first to post a response, but I think Suzanne had me beat with the time change in Germany – LOL!
    Best of luck with BORDER HEAT and thanks for the advice about vitamin A. Yes, eat your veggies, and take a multi-vitamin every morning just to be sure.
    Here’s to many sales, my friend!

    • Ramona says:

      Thanks for having me, ma’am. I appreciate the opportinity more than you know. Hope you will visit me in return one of these days.

  3. Cate Rowan says:

    Haha, sizzling meet indeed, Ramona!

    Off to take my multi-vites…

    • Ramona says:

      Good to hear that you’re taking your vitamins, Cate. Because you have a long, successful writing career to look forward to. PS…Many thanks for carrying the torch for “independent” publishing. I love the opportunity to have my “rights-back” books (plus a couple of new ones)circulating via the ‘net.

  4. Ramona,

    Border Heat sounds like a terrific read. Gorgeous cover! Congratulations and best of luck with sales.

    • Ramona says:

      Thanks so much, Jannine. I’m thrilled with the cover by Trish FitzGerald, one of many talented Champagne Books’ cover artists. She really captured the flavor of the story. And Champagne has been great to work with.

  5. Liz Moore says:

    Hi Ramona:

    Great opening! I can see why the book is called “Border Heat” and I look forward to reading more (as soon as I catch up on my own writing and my TBR backlist).

    Here’s hoping you sell many sizzling copies.

  6. Ramona says:

    Many thanks, Liz. Since this is a novella (my first shot at this length), it’s a quick read. I discovered I liked to write at this length. Surprise. Since I’m normally long-winded. I began the book thinking regular novel length, but because the planned action would take place along various train stops of a tour I’d actually taken, I feared it would sound more like a travelogue than the action story I had in mind. The novella length cured that imagined problem. No room to dilly-dally. Hope readers agree.

  7. Linda White says:

    Sorry I missed this morning! It sounds like you all had a great time. Ramona, I will add Border Heat to my shopping list! 🙂 Good job!

  8. Ramona says:

    Thanks, Linda. This is great fun. I plan to enjoy every aspect of being a published author. If I don’t enjoy it, why do it, right? It certainly can’t be about the money – although that’s nice, too. (I hope. ha ha ha)

  9. Jeannie Watt says:

    Hi Ramona! I love the excerpt and the one on the Champagne site, too. Sexy humor and suspense. It doesn’t get any better than that. Your book is on my TBR list. Also–I love the A connections. How fascinating. I have J connections myself.

  10. Ramona says:

    Thanks, Jeannie. So tell me about your J connections. Inquiring minds want to know. I know I was completely surprise to discover my A connections.

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