Saturday, May 30, 2020

What Did I Miss?


Sooo, I may have forgotten to post a blog on April 30th. And I may have not realized it until three days later when I was in the shower. (Doh!)

Ahem. Sorry!

But I have lots of stuff to talk about this month! Like, here we are, the restrictions are loosening and we can start poking our noses outside again like human Punxsutawney Phils. Lots of people are happy about this, but, you guys, I hardly noticed a difference in my daily routine! 

Even so, I’m not going to debate the coming of the second wave with you, or why people wearing masks seems to be a threat to other people. Here’s what I will openly and happily discuss: All the good things! And some of the changes.

First, why I now hate Thomas Kinkade and Gone with the Wind:

Our county was one of the first to implement a shelter in place order. It was a chaotic time. No school, literally—no even online for three weeks. And no idea how long the shelter in place would last. In a desperate bid to keep my two high school seniors occupied, I pulled out a brand-new puzzle that’d been sitting on the shelf for years…

…and it took three people three long weeks to finish it!

Mind you, I spent a lot of that time wondering what our deal was when many of my friends were blasting through their 1,000-piece puzzles at a rate of two or three days! Needless to say, by the time we finished, we loathed the thing. It’s no wonder we never did start another puzzle.


Next up, why I will never repaint kid #4’s room—or at least this small section of it:

“Mom, do we have any paint brushes?”

“Out in the garage.”

(Thank you, Bob Ross!)






My strategy to keep my dad from going to the stores: 

Taking him for walks! This has the added life-saving advantage of keeping him from driving my mom crazy. We'll continue walking together after the SiP ends. We're both...all, if you include the dog...enjoying the time together too much to stop.




Now for the bitter-sweet:

As I said above, the two youngest of our five kids are high school seniors, class of 2020. The loss of all their senior activities has been a gut punch for them. Over, and over, and over. (Each canceled event also meant a fresh batch of tears for me, but I know I’m not the only parent who cries.) The best the school district could do was a) have personalized yard signs made for the grads (nearly five hundred from our school alone.) b) film a video virtual graduation.

The latter happened this past Wednesday, and was…interesting. The kids were divided into small groups of about eight students, and given a twenty-minute time slot. They showed up at their appointed time at the theater in their caps and gowns, waited in line (masked and six feet apart), walked across the stage to pick up their diploma folder after their name was called, then stepped in front of a mic to give a 6-second speech.

No audience. No clapping. No cheers. It was “weird,” according to my boys. 


But here’s the thing, the rest of that day was AWESOME. They took pictures with their friends outside the theater. Then several kids they went to elementary school with ended up at our house to take pix with each other and the huge wooden “20” my hubby made from some scrap plywood we had. They couldn’t hug their friends, but they did talk and laugh A LOT. (And I got to see some of my mom-friends too, which was really nice.)

It wasn’t the graduation any of us expected, but at the end it was a memorable day, and both of them were very happy.

I think I’m going to stop here. The only thing I’ll add is this: Due to a back injury two years ago, my youngest has been receiving “home/hospital education.” There have been many times we were hopeful that a new procedure would help him, and as many times there has been disappointment that it didn’t work. For each set back, I have told my son it’s okay to grieve, but don’t let it suck you down. Give yourself a certain amount of time, then say, “Okay, so that didn’t work. What’s the next step?” Always have your eye on the future.

And that’s what I’ll leave you with today. Grieve. Cry. It’s okay. But never, ever forget that there is a future. What's your next step?

May you be blessed by good health and surrounded by love.

~Lea

~*~*~*~*~*~*~



USA Today Bestselling Author, Lea Kirk, loves to transport her readers to other worlds with her sci-fi romances. 

When she’s not busy writing about the blue and green aliens of her Prophecy series, she’s hanging out with her hubby, five kids (the nerd herd), and a spoiled Dobie mix pup.

She is currently working on the fourth book in her Prophecy series, and three new books for a new series to be released this fall. 


For more on Lea's books (past, present, & future), check out her:



Friday, May 29, 2020

New Release ~ Rescuing His Shifter by @meganslayer #gay #gayromance #shifter #pnr




Rescuing His Shifter
Sanctuary book 14
Megan Slayer
Contemporary Paranormal LGBTQIA Romance
Shifter Romance
Megan Slayer Publications

Love can be found in the places least expected.

Seth Reilly went to the animal shelter to comfort the cats during the loud noises on the Fourth of July. He had no idea the lumpy, grumpy black cat named Maui isn’t just a cat. He’s a shifter and he’s hot as hell. Seth hadn’t planned on adopting a cat, but he can’t leave the shifter behind.

Jeremy Peters never expected to lose his human side for so long. Then again, he never expected to land in an animal shelter, either. Now he’s got the chance to be free, but he’d rather rub against his sexy human rescuer.

When troubles from their past come back to mess with their happy home, can Seth and Jeremy find a future together?




Wednesday, May 27, 2020

New Release: Shadow of the Eclipse by L. A. Kelley


New Release

Shadow of the Eclipse
By L. A. Kelley


A button-down lawyer, a bean counter, and a mission from a dead man to save the world.



Excitement brews in Crossroads for everyone but lawyer, Callum MacGregor. This year, the town harvest festival coincides with a total eclipse. With a recent breakup, Cal has no desire to attend until a visit from his old law partner, Isaac Bingham, drops a bombshell. Twenty years before Cal’s birth, his grandfather, Phillip Bingham, extracted a promise. Isaac must get Cal to the harvest festival or the world would face unparalleled disaster.
            Cal is stunned. How could Phillip know Cal would be born and live in Crossroads? Why this nonsensical warning? The mystery deepens when Isaac tells him he’s not the only one to receive a mysterious summons.
Accountant Meg Adler’s day started badly when her boss fired her for refusing to cook the books, but then a letter arrives from a man named Bingham. It contains a lucrative job offer—details to follow. All she has to do is attend the Crossroads Harvest Festival on opening day and meet his representative to discuss details. Meg is leery, but it’s not the end of the world if this doesn’t pan out. Right?
Ancient evil prowls the shadow of the eclipse, but the key to saving the present can only be found in the past. In a time-traveling adventure, Cal and Meg enter a mystic maze and journey to Babylon, the Dark Ages, and 1906 San Francisco hot on the trail of two magic artifacts lost in the recesses of time. Can they dodge demonic forces, fulfill a dead man’s mission, and discover a new future with each other?

Excerpt


Meg cocked her head toward the entrance of the corn maze. “Do you hear that? Someone called for help.”
“Probably lost in the maze. George made it extra challenging this year.”
“No, it’s different.” She sucked in a breath. “M-my name—I swear I heard my name.”
A gust of wind rippled the stalks. They bent toward the entrance, fluttery hands beckoning them inside. Cal strained to hear past the whispery rustle of the leaves.
Almost as if they were voices…
“I’ll check it out,” he said. “Maybe someone fell and got hurt. Wait for me here—”
“Not a chance.” Meg bolted into the maze, and Cal ran after her. They came to the first intersection, and she skidded to a halt. “Which way?”
“Left,” Cal said without hesitation.
They dashed deeper into the field, now left, now right, now straight ahead. With each step, Cal’s path became surer as if something pulled him with an invisible cord.
Meg puffed beside him. “How do you know which way to go?”
“I-I can’t explain it.” With every breath, the air around Cal became hotter and more oppressive, pressing on his shoulders like a stifling blanket. Humidity dropped to nothing. Beads of sweat on his brow evaporated. Cal licked his dry, cracked lips and grimaced at the gritty feel of sand on his tongue.
Sand in a corn maze?
They turned a corner and stumbled into a clearing. In the center was an arbor that arched over a circle of flagstones on the ground. A glowing flame hovered above the stones, suspended in midair. Meg and Cal exchanged dumbfounded looks and stepped forward. The clarion note of a distant horn sounded a soldier’s call to action. A surge of adrenaline flooded Cal’s veins. He hadn’t felt like this since his days on patrol with the Army. Unconsciously, Cal’s hand went to his hip, reaching for the sword. He stared at his empty hand. Sword?
The flame grew larger and brighter, shooting through the arbor into the heavens.
“Cal!” Meg’s voice sounded very far away.
“I’m here!” Cal reached for her, but the flame blinded him, blotting out the maze, blotting out the sun, blotting out the world.
Nothing remained but the roar of the cheering crowd.


Buy Links


Monday, May 25, 2020

A Deal too H.O.T. to Handle by Nancy Gideon #PNR #Paranormal #BookDeals


While quarantined for these last few months, I decided to give myself . . . and my readers . . . a special gift for my birthday (since it’s a BIG one)! What could be better than four books for the price of one as a lead-in to the last book of my By Moonlight dark shapeshifter series?! Not only will this bring new readers up to speed in my world, as a bonus to me, while proofing those four stories, I discovered several more plot points that needed to be tied up in a bow in RISE BY MOONLIGHT. Win-Win!

My By Moonlight series was conceived well over a decade ago. What started as a stand-alone paranormal book for one contemporary publisher that considered it too dark as is, evolved into a 15-book series begun in 2010 with MASKED BY MOONLIGHT at a different house with books both traditionally and Indie published, and concludes with RISE BY MOONLIGHT in July 2020. It’s been a labor of love from start to finish.


The House of Terriot books were an unofficial 4-book spin-off that continued many of the main plotlines while developing their own mini-world as a rival clan. Technically, they’re still in the over-arc of the By Moonlight series. After introducing Cale Terriot as a dark hero in PRINCE OF SHADOWS, I’d been eager to get up close and very personal with his divided and dangerous brothers as the clan’s crown was unexpectedly up for bid. And the more I got to know them, the more I realized they needed their own stories.


It’s with great pleasure that I give these renegade wild boys their own special treatment prior to the series end with the HOUSE OF TERRIOT 4-book boxed set. The official release date is May 27 (Happy birthday to me!!) but is now available for preorders.


   

And here’s a tease to get you in the mood . . .

Excerpt

Picturing the sleekly dangerous Terriots in the bar that night they were introduced, her brave front faltered. She’d felt an instinctive warning. They weren’t what they seemed. There was something . . . off about them. In the way they acted, the way they instinctively moved as a synchronized unit. The way they exuded power both physically and mentally. That “more” she didn’t understand but didn’t fear enough to stay away.

Wolves. That’s what he and his brothers had made her think of that first time she’d seen them together, bumping, teasing, growling in the pack-like camaraderie of those tribal spirit animals. Strong, beautiful, deadly predators . . . not domesticated pets. (from PRINCE OF DREAMS)



Though there won’t be the usual parades or huge family picnics today, remember to fly your flags if you’re here in the U.S. to honor those who gave all for the freedoms we enjoy and can’t wait to return to after our restrictions are lifted. Until then . . . Stay Safe and Stay at Home with a good book (or four-in-one!).

♚♚♚♚♚
Nancy Gideon on the Web


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

What Authors Can Learn from "The Princess Bride" Movie Script

If you know me well, then it's no secret that one of my favorite movies of all time is The Princess Bride. A few years ago, for fun, I started tweeting quotes from the movie each day. I found a copy of the script online and methodically went through it, posting a line each day. I have to say, reading each line in detail, I've learned a few things as a writer. I thought I'd share...

Very Little Fluff

Yes, I worked from a script, so in a book the author would have to go into more detail about the visuals on screen (the world building) as well as the main characters internal thoughts. But if you strip all that out of your book, will it stand on its own merits? Remember that I was posting on twitter, so I was limited in character count. I didn't post any of the "fluff" or any lines that, by themselves, didn't add much or weren't an interesting tweet.  What I found was there are very few lines from the script that needed skipping. Very little fluff.

Lesson: Make every single word count and skip the boring bits and fluff for the sake of word count. Ask yourself, if I take this out does it make a difference?



Quick Dialog

Almost all of the dialogue is quick. Each character saying one or two lines at the most. Very few long speeches or monologues. Think about how many one-liners from the movie are immediately recognizable.

Lesson: Short, rapid dialogue is more memorable and keeps the pace going.


Optimism Despite Adversity

The characters are charmingly upbeat despite finding themselves in serious situations. Think about things like what Westley says when they're in the fire swamp. "I'm not saying I'd build a summer house here, but the trees are actually quite lovely." I find this makes the characters more endearing and keeps my interest. Picture the story as an uber-serious drama. I'd be bored in a heartbeat.

Lesson: You can have drama and adventure but not get mired in the melodrama.



Go With the Unexpected

The characters rarely do what you'd expect. I mean, why would someone train themselves to ingest poison, or give the guy they're about to fight a rest since he just climbed a cliff?

Lesson: It's okay if your characters do the unexpected as long as they are true to who THEY are.



Surprise Yourself (Inconceivable is Still Possible)

Westley is killed half way through the book (the 2nd time). That's what, as an author, I'd call a corner.  A spot where you have to ask yourself how you're going to write yourself out of it. We think of corners as bad, as something to avoid, right? But I've read the author of the book himself didn't realize that he was about to kill his main character. But Westley being only mostly dead which is a fantastic fix. We wouldn't have that if the author didn't do something inconceivable first.

Lesson: As a writer, you should even surprise yourself with what your characters do and what happens to them. DO paint yourself into a corner.


A Little Mystery is a Good Thing

I find it funny when readers or beta readers want all the mysterious questions answered in the first few pages of the book. Where's the fun in that? In The Princess Bride, many mysteries are left unanswered for a long time.

Lesson: Writers, you have permission to torture your readers with mysteries if it makes the story more compelling. Just don't make it confusing.



Perfect is Boring

The characters in The Princess Bride are not perfect people. Westley leaves his love thinking he's dead for five years, and has probably done some bad stuff as a pirate. Buttercup is marrying a man she doesn't love. Inigo is a drunk.

Lesson: Give your characters flaws that they have to overcome or which drive the plot in a way that is true to the character and true to the story.




In the same vein as what I've learned from my daily inspection, a line at a time, of The Princess Bride script, I ran across this fabulous article. It's an EW article with 30 life lessons from the movie. Enjoy!

Monday, May 18, 2020

How to Get More Blog Readers by Elizabeth Alsobrooks


The following is not easy, but totally doable and this is one instance where I might say to do as I recommend, not what I do. Hopefully, logic will tell you that if you really want more readers, you should try to do at least most of these recommendations.

A Great Headline
Well, what comes first in a good blog? A great headline is what readers see first, because just like a great book cover, a blog headline grabs the reader’s attention and makes them take at least a preliminary look. Be sure your headline grabs the readers attention by making a promise, offering some helpful info on how to do something, an informative review of just about anything from a good book to a useful kitchen appliance, or some welcome motivation. Be creative, but be mindful that a great blog is never spam. [I feel sorry for my personal fb ‘friends’ who too often get to see all the mundane things I post for my own free storage rummaging. In my defense I try not to do that on my professional sites.] If you are still not sure you have a good headline, try this headline analyzer tool : https://coschedule.com/headline-analyzer


Great Keywords
What? Well, you need to have some good SEO words in your blog. Google Adwords Keyword Tool is a good place to read up on what words will land your blog upward bound in engine searches.

Who Doesn’t Like Free?
Give something away! Have a contest or a randomized drawing. Everyone likes free. It doesn’t have to be something expensive. Ebooks cost you very little to give away, yet readers appreciate the free read, and they could become your biggest new fan!

Consistency
Ugh, don’t you just hate that word? It’s like parenting 101. It’s also true in many other aspects of life and writers with a big readership know that reader expectation is created with consistency. If you always deliver a good product you will build an ever-growing audience. It just makes sense. So you have any ‘favorite’ authors, perhaps one where you can say, “I’ve read every single book they’ve ever written.”  If so, it’s probably because you expect that each new book is going to be just as good as the last. But what if it wasn’t? Would you be so eager to grab their next one? Probably not. So consistency in great blogs is a must. And no, your readers don’t really care what you had for breakfast unless you share a unique recipe or diet plan. Unless you’re their heartthrob movie star, they just aren’t that interested in the mundane things in your everyday life. Biographies, unless they’re of pivotal celebrities, just don’t sell well and have a narrow market. 



Get in Front of Readers
Have you ever tried a thunderclap campaign or a fb ad? Maybe you should. Here's a great place to read about that: https://www.m2social.net/blog/a-guide-to-launching-a-thunderclap-campaign/  Although scandal and fake news shut the 'actual' thunderclap ap down, you can still use the same principals. You can also use a platform such as: https://www.postspeaker.com/index.html Social media is a good way to draw attention with your catchy headline. So get your tribe to tweet, share, and upload to Instagram or any other social media networks in which you participate.

Blogger to Blogger
Bloggers read blogs. Sounds obvious, right? But did you ever stop to think about what would happen if you comment on other blogs? Perhaps those folks would comment on yours too. I am VERY bad about getting around to doing this. I read all day almost every day, but I often fail to take the time to read just for the sheer enjoyment of it. I should. I enjoy reading good blogs, and generally comment when I do. I know a few folks who do this and I have noticed that they get more responses to their own blogs than others. Hm. Makes sense to me.

And have you considered getting your name and blogability skill out there by guest blogging on other blogs that have another unique set of followers? Yup, a broader audience is your goal, and this is a great way to reach it. You can reverse that too. Invite bloggers with their own audience to guest blog on your blog site! 



These are just a few ideas for gaining a broader blog readership, but if you use them CONSISTENTLY, you may be surprised at your success. Let me know how it goes, and be sure to share any ideas you may have, blogger to blogger!

Saturday, May 16, 2020

World building 101

Half the fun of writing fantasy is the fact that it doesn't take place in our world. Which is great, until you realize you have to create an entire world from scratch, then it feels like the hardest thing ever. How do you make a world that follows some reasonable set of rules while keeping things interesting? What if you don't want to write seven billion pages of backstory because you want to jump right into the story idea floating in your head? Where do you even start to build a world, and what are some things to avoid when you do? Today, let's tackle world building 101.

Why do I need to world build?
Look at you, asking great questions right off the bat! Have you ever read a story where the writer skipped the world-building step? It was awkward, right? Something was missing. It would be like making a coconut cream pie and forgetting the pie crust. Delicious? Sure, but messy as all get out. Writing in a fantasy world without world-building is the same.

Where do I start?
Is writing back story is your jam? Then, go ahead and tackle those long world-building lists. They'll ask you things like: What language do people speak? What do they eat/wear? What's the money system? Religion? And so on. But, if you're like me, you just want to write the story in your head begging to be written. If that's the case, you'll need to start with which aspects of this new world fit within the story's timeline. Does your story start at the dawn of creation? No? Then skip to the year your story does take place in this fantasy world. Who's in charge? Does it matter? What kinds of things does your protagonist experience because of the world they live in? You'll need to know what kinds of things they eat/see on a daily basis/wear/etc.

What kind of rules does my world need?
There are so many fantasy worlds and with each one comes its own set of reader expectations. But, generally, if there's magic in your world, you'll need rules for it. If there are magical creatures or plants we've never heard of, you'll need rules for them as well. Sure, these plants and magics can do amazing things, but there also has to be a limit to what they can do. Sometimes that means there's a quantity cap, and other times there's a time limit. For example, in The Curse Breaker, my debut novel, magic-born can use their magic, but it takes a physical toll on them so they can't use it forever. You'll need to do something similar in your own fantasy world to keep things interesting.

Tips for world-building:

  • Draw a map of your world. Sometimes just being able to see what the world looks like makes it so much easier to write about it, especially if your protagonist is going from place to place.
  • Watch movies/revisit your favorite fantasy worlds. What did they include? What did they leave out?
  • Want to spice it up a bit more? Think big picture. What kinds of laws/history has affected the world your main character now lives in? 
  • Don't forget to tell us WHY. Your character is on their way to save the day, but why is this happening now? Why didn't it happen fifty years ago? This is where thinking of the big picture comes in handy. The why doesn't have to be epically long, but it does have to feel logical for the reader to buy it. 
  • Don't underestimate the importance of plants. You'll be describing this lovely world for around 400 pages, make sure you put some thought into what grows in your world. For bonus points, also consider seasons and weather. You don't have to reinvent the wheel, but if your story starts in spring and ends in winter make sure your plants are following suit. This advice also goes for infrastructure, transportation, and so on.
  • Don't make one-dimensional inhabitants. People are people, and by definition quite interesting in good and bad ways. Don't write a bunch of stereotypical people, instead fill your world with lots of interesting citizens. 
  • Make sure you account for societal changes. If your people have magic, how has that changed things? For starters, they probably don't do mundane things. Or if they have super cool technology, what differences exist in their world compared to your readers?
Don't be too scared of world-building. Once you get the hang of it, it's tricky to go back to writing in the real world! What are some of your favorite tips when it comes to world-building? Share them in the comments below. 

Happy writing.

April Jones has read, written, or edited her way through numerous fictional worlds. When she's not teaching or writing, she spends her time trying to learn other languages or keeping her mischievous cat from eating the pet fish. She received her bachelor's in English and her M.F.A. in creative writing. 

A Tennessee native, April currently lives in Michigan with her husband and three children. You can find her poems and short stories published in various literary magazines across the internet and in print. You can also check out her debut novel, The Curse Breaker. For more information visit her website thepathtostory.com

Thursday, May 14, 2020

From the Pages of Sci-fi


Toshiba builds computers, right?

To add to the pages of sci-fi happening as we speak, humanlike robots are in development that will come near to mimicking human emotions and facial expressions. These robots are in their infancy but amazing!


Toshiba has introduced Junko Chihira, a most realistic human-like android they’ve named Junko Chihira.  She is 5’5”, 26 years old, and her birthday is 6/1.  She works in a new tourist information center in Japan. The android speaks Japanese, Chinese, and English—handy if you work in the tourist trade.

A female android named Geminoid F stars in a Japanese film from director Koji Fukada called "Sayonara," which premiered at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

Erika is a creation of Osaka University, Koyo University, and ATR. She was ‘born’ in Japan in 2015. When Erika is listening, she blinks and moves her eyes and head, like a human. The following link is a YouTube video of Erika and a child, illustration AI’s possibilities with children. She,q too, is pretty and interacts well. She pauses while she processes in this conversation, but her answers do not sound at all scripted but real-time.


But probably the most life-like is the android Sophia by Hanson Robotics. Sophia has appeared on The Tonight Show was well as addressed a UN committee. She has been granted citizenship by Saudi Arabia.


Hanson boasts other robots, one designed to look like Einstein. Just a few of the many are:
Philip K. Dick II was debuted in 2005, designed by David Hanson as a robotic paean of sci-fi writer of the same name. The original Philip K. Dick android was lost on a flight from Dallas to San Francisco in late 2005. However, in 2011 Hanson Robotics, together with Dutch broadcasting firm VPRO, developed a new version, including state of the art computer vision technology and employs 36 servomotors to power a complex and wide range of facial expressions. These days, PKD serves researchers at the Apollo Mind Initiative.

Jules was activated in 2006 and debuted at the Wired Nextfest that year, Hanson Robotics and partner Personality Forge created Jules for the University of West England in Bristol. Still in residence at UWE, Jules incorporates a number of advanced technologies that make him an eerily realistic and conversant android, including natural language AI, computer vision and facial tracking.

From Hanson’s website: “On the tree of robotic life, human-like robots play a particularly valuable role. It makes sense. Humans are brilliant, beautiful, compassionate, lovable, and capable of love, so why shouldn’t we aspire to make robots human-like in these ways? Don’t we want robots to have such marvelous capabilities as love, compassion, and genius?”

~*~

In Love For Sale, concurrently available from The Wild Rose Press, a divorced dreamer buys a sentient android who is totally human-like, as her companion, and they fall in love. That’s only the beginning of their story. There are forces from his past and his future that threaten their happiness—and their life. COMING THIS SUMMER: - Life for Sale, the sequel.



Monday, May 4, 2020

When Every Day is Monday


By Maureen Bonatch

Many people have been off work or school since the coronavirus (COVID-19) quarantine. It’s resulted in some people feeling out of sorts because they’ve suddenly lost their routine. It’s as if every day has become the weekend, but even then they can’t maintain their routine prior to COVID-19.

I’ve worked full-time remotely for over a year now. There are a lot of benefits to working remotely, but there are also challenges. Besides focusing when everybody is at home, often the hours blend from day to night, and sometimes through the weekend.

Working in healthcare in a role related to education has resulted in me being busier than ever with work,. With no place to go, for me, and working more on the weekends, it’s almost as if every day has become Monday.



To remind those who feel like every day is the weekend, and for those who feel like every day has become Monday, here are a few of my favorite quotes to motivate you for the new week. 

Happy Monday






How Do You Keep Your Routine During Quarantine?

 

Author Bio: Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line. Find Maureen on her websiteFacebookTwitter

Be the first to know about Maureen’s book sales and new releases by following her on BookBub, Amazon and/or signing up for her newsletter



Friday, May 1, 2020

Cure for Quarantine Fever by Diane Burton #amreading






Happy May Day. In the dark days of winter in the Great Lakes states, we talk about cabin fever when we've been cooped up too long. Quarantine Fever sounds appropriate for these unusual times.

Are you tired of staying home? Never thought I’d say it, but I am. Mind you, I like being home. After nearly three months, I’ve about had it with not going anywhere. Here in Michigan, we’ve had shelter-in-place for eight weeks. But I broke my foot in February, and the “cure” was staying off my foot and keeping it elevated. That equals nearly three months of only going to the doctor. Once my foot healed, I got to go to the store to pick up groceries that a “shopper” had collected. Whoopee! I haven’t even seen my grandchildren in person, except at a distance. Daughter and Daughter-in-Law decided at the beginning of the shelter-in-place that it was safer for Hubs and I not to come in contact with the kiddos. Son and Son-in-Law work in essential jobs, so the risk of their bringing home the virus is very real. Rational, but I sure do miss those hugs and kisses.

According to the ads on TV, we’re all in this together. So I’m probably not telling you anything new or anything that you haven’t experienced. I understand the reason for staying home and totally agree with it. Emotionally, I’m finding it hard.

With all this “free” time, you’d think I would get a lot done. Being confined to the recliner meant cleaning, organizing closets, etc. were not on my agenda. So what have I done? I wish I could say I’ve been writing like crazy. Unfortunately, no. I’m finding it difficult to focus on my work-in-progress, the science fiction romance that is 85% done. I wrote myself into a corner and can’t figure out how to get out.



So, if I’m not cleaning and not writing, what am I doing? Binge-watching TV and binge-reading. Since my buddy Nancy Gideon wrote about bingeing television shows here on Saturday, I’ll talk about reading.

When I find an author I enjoy, I tend to binge on his/her books. I discovered Jayne Ann Krentz (w/a Jayne Castle) back in the early 80s when she wrote for Dell Candlelight. I’ve read almost everything she’s written. Thanks to our library that loans ebooks, I’ve kept up with her latest, especially the ones taking place in the 1930s. Great romantic suspense. And I find the world-building in her science fiction romances fascinating.

Linda Howard is another favorite. Her romantic suspense stories capture my interest from the first pages of each book. Since I write romantic suspense (along with mysteries and sci-fi romance), I try to examine books in those genres to see how the author does it. With Howard’s books, I get so caught up in the story I forget what I’m supposed to do.

Veronica Scott’s science fiction romances are captivating. I’ve binged on her entertaining Badari Warrior series, featuring genetically engineered soldiers, as well as her Egyptian mythology series. She really knows how to build fantastical worlds.

Lately, I rediscovered Phyllis A. Whitney, an author I first read while in my 20s. I think she and Victoria Holt are the mothers of gothic fiction. As I read book after book, I found myself fascinated by the atmosphere Whitney creates that sends shivers down my spine. Our Nancy Gideon does the same with her vampire and shifters series. I’ve never considered writing a Gothic (or fantasy) romance, so reading them is pure pleasure. Not to learn anything, just to enjoy.

Anna Hackett develops futuristic worlds on a dystopian Earth. Her characters are strong and flawed, the alien conquerors are downright creepy, and the stories are so hot you need a fan.

S.J. Pajonas’ cozy mysteries are a delight. They feature a young woman who daydreams her way through life in rural Japan and somehow solves mysteries.

I blasted through Diane Henders The Never Say Spy series, reading one after another. Exciting with a middle-aged heroine. Did the same with Josie Brown’s Housewife Assassin books. Like I said, when I find an author I like, I binge-read their books.

So, if you’re still sheltering-in-place, I hope you’ll check out some of my favorites. Have you read any of them? What books/authors would you suggest?



Stay safe. We’ll all get through these difficult times by doing our part.



Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Soft Alabaster ~ Celestial Mates #7 by @meganSlayer #outnow #Pnr #gay



Soft Alabaster by Megan Slayer 

Celestial Mates, book 7
Contemporary Paranormal LGBTQ Romance
M/M, Anal Sex, Masturbation
From Evernight Publishing
Art by Jay Aheer

One man out of time and another desperate to share his life with that perfect someone. Can their answers come from a broken curse?

Owen Reed loves his secondhand store, but he’d rather run it with a partner. He’s tired of being lonely and having one-night stands. He wants a love to last forever. When he ends up with a statue of a man in pain, he has no idea how special this statue could be. Is love possible with the pained figure?

Sydney Keeler knows he belongs anywhere but locked in alabaster. When he’s delivered to Owen’s store, the unexpected happens—he can feel Owen’s hands on him. He wants to break free and be with the man with the sparkling blue eyes. Can Owen break the curse? If so, will Owen accept a man who’s been cursed to exist in alabaster? Can they have the love they deserve?

One kiss will determine their fate.

Excerpt ©2020 Megan Slayer, All Rights Reserved

Sydney hated his pose. God, he’d been in the midst of begging for his life and for Arai’s life to be spared when Zeus cursed them. He hadn’t deserved to be reduced to stone. So, he’d been a terrible lover to Zeus and horrible at his job of guarding him. When he’d signed on to be a protector, he thought it was a joke. He hadn’t realized Zeus really wanted someone to play bodyguard for him. Sydney had been in love with the idea of living on Olympus and protecting a god. He never would’ve guessed Zeus truly demanded monogamy, even when he played around with everyone on the staff.
Good Lord. Who said things like, “I want you to come to Olympus and be my warrior”? No one that Sydney knew, yet he’d followed Zeus to a place that seemed like a dream and better than any fantasy.
Zeus hadn’t been joking.
Then again, Sydney hadn’t believed the silver fox was a true god. Were other gods roaming the earth? According to Zeus, the entire clan of Olympian deity lived there. Sydney hadn’t seen anyone besides Zeus, but he hadn’t been paying attention.
The adventure of living on Olympus was more than enough for him. He loved a good quest, especially if he could be himself. Zeus hadn’t minded he was gay. In fact, Zeus encouraged him to explore his sexuality. He spent his days guarding Zeus and his nights fucking him. All had been well until Sydney met Arai.
Arai had been everything Sydney ever wanted in a man—beautiful, masculine, sexy, and interested in him. He and Sydney guarded Zeus and stole off at night to make love. None of Zeus’s warnings had been enough to prevent him and Arai from getting together.
Sydney had been in love with Arai and felt confident about being out. He could love who he wanted and not be ashamed. He even embraced the idea he’d upset Zeus, but things would work out. They always did—until Zeus didn’t cooperate. He wanted Sydney to be his plaything and belong to no one else.
He winced, although no one could see the gesture. He still remembered the panic in Arai’s eyes when he’d been found guilty of being with Sydney and the pain of losing their relationship.
Now Sydney couldn’t tell anyone about his troubles or his curse. How could he if he couldn’t talk? At least he didn’t have that awful sheet over him and he wasn’t in the musty old house.
His brother, Max, hadn’t appreciated him and his younger brother, Stan, hadn’t wanted him. They had no idea he was locked in the alabaster. All they knew was a sculpture of someone resembling their brother had shown up in the parlor of the family home.
Voices caught his attention. He hadn’t liked when the woman caressed him, but he wanted the man to return. He could gaze at the fellow who seemed to run the shop where he was now housed. He’d been locked in the family parlor, moved to a barn, left in a garage, and then shipped to a house where Max left him in the back room. Now he lived in a “junk shop”—as the younger girl called the place.
The man with the sparkling eyes stood in front of Sydney. “Well, you’re all mine.” He folded his arms. “I’m not sure you’re worth anything, but I’m stuck with you.” His blue eyes flashed and the thin outcropping of hairs on his chin caught the light.  
Heat, like the rush of excitement he felt when he’d first seen Arai, washed over him. Who was this man and why did he seem to kick the temperature up so high?