Monday, March 29, 2021

Can Three Kittens Plus Two Neighbors Equal Love? ~ Love Next Door by @Meganslayer #romance #spring #gay #gayromance

 Love Next Door by Megan Slayer

Love’s Bloom

Pride Publishing

Contemporary LGBTQ Romance

M/M, Anal Sex, Masturbation

 

Can three tiny kittens really bring these two men together and prove love can bloom despite the chilly spring days?

Tommy Davis considered himself a loner. He spent his days writing and running, all while keeping everyone else at bay. That is until he discovers three kittens abandoned in his shrubbery. His fatherly instincts kick in, and he goes to the one person he knows can help—his sexy as sin next-door-neighbor who happens to be a veterinarian.

Matthew James wasn’t looking for love, but the moment Tommy shows up on his doorstep, he can’t send him away. He’s had a thing for Tommy since the first time he saw him, but his shyness has kept him from making a move.

The melting snow, blossoming flowers and a trio of kittens could be more than the guys can handle, but they just might be the push Matthew needs to find his forever with Tommy.

General Release Date: 6th April 2021

 

https://www.firstforromance.com/book/love-next-door

https://books2read.com/u/3n8gr5

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08W593XQX/

https://books.apple.com/us/book/love-next-door/id1553148732?mt=11&id=1553148732&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-next-door-megan-slayer/1138805348

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/love-next-door-8

https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=UWMdEAAAQBAJ

 

EXCERPT:

©2021 Megan Slayer, All Rights Reserved

Matthew opened the door. “It’s eight in the morning and I’m tired. I don’t care if it is fifty degrees out, I’m not running right now.” He frowned. “Wait, you said you had a problem. Did you get my mail again?”

“Sort of, maybe?” Tommy bit back his desperation and fear. “I found kittens.”

“Kittens?” Matthew peeked into the box. “They’re only a few days old, but their eyes are open. Where were they? Is the mother with them?”

“I found these three in the bushes.” He fought to catch his breath. “I don’t know what to do. I think the momma perished.”

Matthew sighed. “Jesus.”

“If you don’t want to give me a hand, I’ll take them to the clinic.” Tommy covered the mewling kittens with the towels and box flaps. “Sorry I bothered you.”

“If you take them to the clinic, they could put them down,” Matthew said. “Kittens without a mother require special attention we don’t have at the clinic and they might not survive anyway.”

“That’s terrible.” Tommy shook his head. “Look, I don’t know anything about them. Shouldn’t I have bottles and formula or something? I’ll take care of them.” He needed to be sure about the mother cat, though. “Will you check on Momma? I’ll pay you for the home visit.”

Matthew shoved his feet into a pair of boots. “I didn’t think you were an animal lover.”

“I didn’t think you were so heartless,” Tommy snapped. “Put them down? They’d truly do that?”

Matthew grabbed his scarf. “First, I said they might—not me. Second, they are young kittens. It can be tricky because they’re so small. The averages aren’t in their favor if the mother has rejected them. It’s not being cruel. It’s being honest. That said, I’ll help you. I can’t imagine being left alone, even if today is the warmest it’s been all year. Where’s the mother?”

“In the bushes. Can’t miss her. Ginger cat by the bush closest to the flower box,” Tommy said. “Do I take these guys inside?”

“Take them to my living room. I’ve got milk replacer at the house. If the mother has expired, I’ll show you what to do to give the kittens get the best start. Ensure they’re warm. Pushy will try to get involved, so just let her. She simply wants to investigate and won’t hurt them.” Matthew hustled past the hedgerow and across Tommy’s lawn.

Tommy stepped into Matthew’s house. He’d never been inside before. The best he’d done was catch glimpses of the interior when he’d gone for an evening run and Matthew’s lights were on.

Pushy trotted up to Tommy. She didn’t bark but wagged her tail. She sniffed at the box until he put the cardboard on the floor. He had petted her head and chatted to her plenty of times when she’d managed to tunnel under the fence between his and Matthew’s yards. “Hi, Push.” He sat on the floor. “I’ve got kittens. See?” He moved one of the flaps. “Three kittens.”

Pushy whined and nosed the box, then let out what sounded like a howl.

Tommy petted her, trying to soothe the dog. “I’m sorry, Push. What’s wrong?”

Matthew strode into the house. “Momma has expired. She probably froze to death or starved trying to protect them. She was so thin.”

Tommy’s heart sank. He’d hoped she could be saved. “Why don’t you keep these guys, Squeak, Eek and Meek? I’ve got a shoebox and will bury Momma.” He stood. “When I’m done, you can give me the rundown as to how to take care of them.”

“You’re sure you want to take them in?”

“Someone has to. They’ve had a rough start in life and it’s the least I can do, giving them a fighting chance. It’s the official first day of spring and everyone needs that chance to survive.”

“I admire you, Tommy.”

“Don’t admire me until we know they’re all okay.” He half-smiled, faking confidence, then abandoned the box. He headed outside and over to his garage. Once he’d emptied a shoebox, he took to the task of giving Momma a proper burial. He might not be able to help her, but he could take care of her babies. If it meant spending time with Matthew, then even better.

Spring was supposed to be the time for new beginnings and fresh starts. Maybe he and Matthew could form a strong alliance or something more.

I never thought Matthew and I could bond over a triad of abandoned kittens.

 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

The Vernal Equinox: It's Not Too Late to Burn Your Socks by L. A. Kelley

It’s been a long winter and though the vernal equinox has passed, it’s not too late to burn your socks. What’s that, you say? You’ve never celebrated the vernal equinox? Well, you’re certainly behind the times. It traditionally occurs on March 21 each year and signals the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere (and fall in the Southern Hemisphere.) It’s all keyed to the Earth’s rotation which tilts at an angle of 23.5 degrees on its axis relative to the plane of orbit around the sun. This means that during the year, different places get sunlight for different amounts of time.

While “equinox” comes from the Latin for equal, sunlight didn’t get the memo. Because of atmospheric refraction, people at mid-temperate latitudes actually get  a few extra minutes of daylight on the equinox. The fall and spring equinoxes, however, are the only two days during the year when the sun rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west.

Earth thinks it’s oh-so-special but it isn’t the only planet with an equinox. Saturn’s occurs about every 15 Earth years. The next one is on May 6, 2025, so you have plenty of time to plan a party. When Saturn’s equinox is viewed from Earth, the rings are seen edge-on and appear as a thin line, sometimes giving the illusion they disappeared. Weird.

What’s also weird is the belief that since day and night are nearly equal, equinoxes affect gravity and are the only days of the year you can balance raw eggs on end. Wrong. You can do that any day of the year, although why you’d want to is beyond me.

Myths

The vernal equinox is responsible for many beliefs of ancient people. Stonehenge’s design also includes a celestial observatory function, which allowed prediction of eclipses, solstices, equinoxes and other celestial events.  On the vernal equinox, the druids and pagans celebrated the ancient Saxon goddess Eostre, who symbolized fertility and new beginnings.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia, was first a Hindu, and then a Buddhist temple complex. It was built by the Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century AD. The carved asuras (demons) and devas (deities) are intended to indicate the precession of the equinoxes and the slow transition from one astrological age to another.  On the morning of the spring equinox, the sun rises up the side of the central tower of the temple to crown the pinnacle.

A Chinese legend involves the vernal equinox in a divine right to rule. In the year 1600 B.C., a woman named Chien-Ti received a special egg from a heavenly swallow. Although a virgin, she became pregnant, and her son Hsieh went on to found the Shang dynasty.

In the Middle Ages, reproduction of many plants and animals was often a mystery. Philosophers latched onto the idea of spontaneous generation where life sprung out of rotting or decaying flesh or matter. Mice, for instance, were supposed to come from sweaty underwear placed near husks of wheat in a dark place. (Note to self: Do laundry more often.) The vernal equinox was the most potent time for getting something from nothing. Petrus Alfonsi, a 12th century philosopher wrote:

“From this spring equinox (which is the beginning of spring), cold weather turns warm... Blood increases in the bodies of animals, and the diseases which come from blood return; natural lust bursts forth from its latent state, and all insects which are born from spontaneous generation now procreate.”

Now as to the sock burning…The old sweaty garment thing is still showing up, however not with mice. Every year, boaters in Annapolis, Md., burn their socks on the vernal equinox. The tradition began because sailors are forced to wear these “woolly prisons” on their feet all winter and enough was enough. Now the town website proudly proclaims since no self-respecting boater would wear them in the summertime, the dreaded socks “must be reduced to ash in a community bonfire.”

Not a bad tradition and even though the vernal equinox has passed, I think I’ll make a tidy bonfire on the front porch. It’s better than having mice spring from my underwear.


L. A. Kelley writes science fiction and fantasy adventures with humor, romance, and a touch of sass. She invited the neighbors over to burn their underwear with her, but instead they called the police.





Monday, March 22, 2021

First There was Ebooks...

 

First there were ebooks, then audio books and now we have books that are  video games! Can you believe it?

A few months ago this happened.  An opportunity can knocking for one of my books to be made into a video game! Say What? Never heard of such a thing, but it was real and looked like a great deal of fun. Yep, my secret is out, I’m a gamer. LOL So I hopped on board.

I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that my title, CHARM ME AGAIN, is being made into a video game within the next six to eight months by http://Romancefate.com. These games are interactive where the player becomes the heroine and best played on a phone or tablet.

You will be one of the first to know when CHARM ME AGAIN has been transformed into a video game. I can hardly wait!

I’m also celebrating the release of my fifteenth book, CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY MAGIC, April 7, 2021. Squeal!!!  It’s part of the One Scoop or Two Summer Ice Cream Series from The Wild Rose Press. And CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY MAGIC is also the fourth book in A WITCH’S JOURNEY (it can be read as a stand-alone).

You know since September of 2015 when my first book, A DEMON’S WITCH, released the excitement of a new release never gets old. Nerve racking—Yes. Lots of promo—Yes.  Hoping my readers love it—Yes. But still as exciting as my first book’s release. WooHoo! How about a sneak peek into CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY MAGIC.

Prim and proper Trinity Shilo is the assistant manager for Salem's Wildlife Sanctuary. She hasn't had much luck in the boyfriend department, but the new employee Paul is different. Deep and brooding she sees something special hidden below the surface. Besides she has secrets of her own.

  Paul Thorp is a wounded Special Forces veteran now working in security and computer support. He's fought hard to keep his demons in check and for the first time feels he is ready for a real relationship.

 When a fire breaks out at Puffin Cove Rescue they are called in to help with the recovery and ice cream social fundraiser. Sometimes things are not what they seem, and neither are people. When magic is unleashed will what they learn bring them closer together or push them apart?

 I hope you’ll take a moment and check out CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY MAGIC, it's available for pre-order now!

Saturday, March 20, 2021

The Warrior King - New Release & Excerpt

How about an exclusive excerpt from my recent new release!?!


THE WARRIOR KING


Meira Amon is the most reserved of the phoenixes, finding computers easier to deal with than people and their messy emotions. But she wants revenge against the Rotting King Pytheios for the murder of her parents just as much as her sisters. Offering herself as a queen for their ally, dragon shifter King Gorgon of the Black Clan, only makes sense.

Just one problem…

Samael Veles worked his lowborn ass off to become the fiercest warrior of the Black Clan. He has pledged his life to protect his king at all costs. Yet somehow, in the middle of war, he took one look at a woman in a reflection and gave up his heart. When that woman turns out to be the phoenix promised to mate his king and help bring peace to their kind, he has no choice but to accept it.

Until her fire unexpectedly destroys the king after they’ve wed. Now Samael must choose between his loyalty to his clan and protecting the queen who might be his mate from his people’s wrath, one of which will unlock a destiny no one could have ever imagined…


READ NOW

AMAZON | B&N | APPLE | KOBO | GOOGLE


“Clever, seductive, and unique, Abigail Owen’s paranormal romances are totally addictive!”

~NY Times Bestselling Author Carrie Ann Ryan




EXCERPT

Her breath caught in her throat when he covered her hand with his own and squeezed. “It will get easier for you,” he said. “The memories. For a long time, you won’t want to think of your mother at all. Then one day when you do, it won’t hurt so much. Eventually, you’ll be able to think of her and smile.”

This from a man who never smiled. At least not that he let her see.

The unexpected offer of comfort unfurled inside her, wrapped around her. Gods above, she wanted to kiss him. Lean forward and steal that unexpected understanding from his lips. Lips Meira could only describe as sensual, saving his face from harshness.

And more. All different sorts of kisses. A soft brush of her lips as a thank-you. A kiss that lingered, taking its time to weave a spell around them. Something hot and openmouthed that let her taste him and generated enough heat to scorch every part of her. She was already on fire.

Except she shouldn’t be wanting this. Any of it.

More guilt. She’d suffocate under the heaps if she wasn’t careful.

Meira slid her hand out from beneath his, the cold air of the room rushing against her palm making her shiver after the heat of his touch and her thoughts.

“So, do you have any friends?” Curiosity prompted her to ask. Gods, why couldn’t she shut up around him? This conversation was already a thousand words more than she usually shared with people.

Samael heaved a sigh with an edge to it and turned his head to face her again. “Do you always have this many questions?”

She offered him a prim look, lips pursed. “My lawyers say I don’t have to answer that.”

Samael gazed at her blankly, then turned his face back up. “Was that you trying to be funny?”

“Did it work?” She bit her lip, waiting for his answer. Most people didn’t get her sense of humor.

“That depends.”

“On what?” she prompted when he didn’t continue.

“Your intent. Were you genuinely trying to make me laugh? Or were you trying to change the subject?”

“I guess I’m nervous.” Now why had she gone and admitted that?

Rather than turn his head again, Samael shifted to his side to face her, his smoke and sand scent swirling around her, soothing her when she should’ve been bracing for whatever he was about to ask. His hand lay on the mattress beside hers. Not touching. What would he do if she hooked her little finger around his, as though he was her anchor?

Maybe he’d been right to want to avoid sharing the bed. This was too close, too intimate. Too damn confusing.

“Are you afraid of me?” he asked.

She should lie and say yes. Any person with an ounce of common sense would be wary of him. His danger evident in the simple way he moved—a prowling, rolling gait—screamed perilous predator.

Meira slowly shook her head. “No.”

Nervous of giving her unfortunate thoughts away? Yes. Of the lash of his volatile emotions? The answer would have been yes before they’d come here. Now…

“You should be,” he said, voice going rougher, harsher.





Tuesday, March 16, 2021

My Writing Must-Haves

    There are so many aspects to creating a long-standing writing regiment. You need space and time, and of course the right materials. But what are those things? Let's take a mini tour around my writing space to talk about some of my writing must-haves, and hopefully, you'll get an idea or two for your own space.

    A Writing Spot

    The number one thing that I need is a place in my living space that inspires my desire to work, and for me, that is an old desk that I found and repurposed. I painted it white and founds some lovely contact paper for the top of the desk to give it a little flavor aesthetically. 

    Why is this important? Because I'm not going to be productive if I go and try to work on my writing in my bed. My bed is the place my brain associates with playing on my phone and sleeping. It's not a workspace. If you take the time to set aside a productive space, it will be much easier to work when it's time to work.

    The Right Equipment

    The right tools can take on a lot of different looks depending on what kind of writer you may be, as well as which draft you're working on. For example, if you're working on a rewrite, you may want to print off your entire manuscript and color-code your revision ideas, whereas if you're working on your first draft, you may only need some index cards for storyboarding and a laptop. Here are my all-time favorites for those first and second drafts:

Draft One:

  • A laptop-for all that writing, of course!
  • Scrivner-this just so happens to be my favorite writing software because it keeps everything so lovely and organized.
  • Poster boards-for jotting down all my minor characters as I go because this is the only way that I can keep track of them over the course of a whole novel.
  • Post-its-All the post-its! I use these to jot down next chapter ideas, name ideas, place ideas, basically all the ideas as I go so that I don't forget any.
  • A Notebook-for jotting descriptions down and sketching out my characters/creatures.
Draft Two:

  • Index Cards-so that I can see how my chapters build up over the entire novel (I jot down the chapter number and a sentence-length description of the main thing that happens in that chapter). Then I pop them up on the wall with some tape and move them around if needed while I rewrite.
  • A Laptop- because I'm not a handwritten novel kind of gal. Plus, it's easier to keep track of the draft I'm on and save all my hard work.
  • More Post-its-to jot down my revision ideas and general writing notes as I retackle a story.
If my equipment looks pretty simple, that's because it is. I'm not picky when it comes to my writing tools (unless we're talking about pens, in that case, I'm suuuuuuuuuper picky!) because I only really need a good spot to get my creative juices flowing. 

    Excitement
    If you're working on writing a story that you love, you'll keep coming back to it day after day because it's fun to write it. If you're working on a story that overwhelms you or wears you out, pretty soon Netflix will become your nightly companion. So make sure that whatever story you're writing is the one you actually want to write. 

    What are some of your must-haves for writing? Drop yours in a comment below!

    Happy writing! 


 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

"Morpheus Eugenia" and Gemini Rising - A Not-So-Literary and Perhaps-a-Little-Biased Comparison

 


By chance, have you read “Morpheus Eugenia”, a novella by A.S. Blatt, published by Random House in 1993. I read it long ago, and it impressed me…more than I knew. Years later, under the pen name Bianca Swan, I wrote Gemini Rising, and I believe this novella was the inspiration for my taboo dark fantasy.  The novella is not a dark fantasy. It’s niched as “Historical Fiction”.  Let me tell you a little about both the novella and the book. They are not alike, but the underlying theme is the same.

“Morpheus Eugenia”:

Impoverished naturalist William Adamson, traveling back to Victorian England, stays with his benefactor Sir Harold Alabaster. Sir Harold’s eldest daughter Eugenia is still in mourning over her fiancé’s death and emotionally vulnerable. Soon, William falls in love with quiet but extremely beautiful Eugenia. Sir Harold approves of their marriage, and they are wed. Sir Harold seems happy, but no one else does

Eugenia becomes pregnant very shortly after their marriage. She has intense mood swings from frosty and distant to avaricious and wildly sexual.  One day, while William is teaching the children in the woods, a servant calls him back to the manor, saying Eugenia wants him. He bursts into the bedroom and finds Eugenia and her brother Edgar having sex. Eugenia explains that her fiancé had found out and killed himself.

I know this is a spoiler.  I’m about to give you the blurb on Gemini Rising, which is a spoiler in itself. Now, there are no story similarities, but I imagine you’ve guessed the underlying theme.

Blurb—Gemini Rising:

The Alastair twins are a scientific impossibility. To parents who’ve tried every way to have a child, their male and female identical twins are a miracle.

Isolated in their island castle, the Alastair twins Alain and Alina turn to each other for friendship and love. But when their love shifts from fraternal to frighteningly deep, they’ll each dance with their lust in their own way.


A dark fantasy of forbidden longings and midnight pledges, spoken to be broken or kept. How can these phenomenal twins possibly unleash their innermost desires? The answer will shock you.

~*~

Despite the theme, Gemini Rising is a poignant love story, running the gamut of emotion from laughter to tears. The novella, which I recommend, is a bit distant, and I don’t remember feeling a connection with the characters, even William or poor Eugenia, but it was a powerful story (must have been for me to remember it decades later). Still, neither the book nor the movie delved into the characters’ feelings as I recollect.  I did see the 1995 movie titled “Angels and Insects” based on the novella. Because the actors performed the actions, it was easier to see their feelings, but they all seemed distant, except maybe Matty, the housekeeper. Perhaps, because it was the Victorian Era, they were just reserved.  I’d have to read it again, which I might just do. “Morpheus Eugenia” is a Nightingale-Swan recommended read.  haha

 

Gemini Rising Buy Link:  https://blacklotustaboobooks.com/gemini-rising-by-bianca-swan/

Angels and Insects Buy Link:        https://www.amazon.com/Angels-Insects-Novellas-Vintage-International-ebook/dp/B007OLYQ4O

With Code TR2Z44E4 Gemini Rising, as a new release, is on sale for 20% off. 

~*~

Originally published by Random House!  I couldn’t find a publisher for my little baby. Taboo fiction is taboo.  Amazon will take it down if they discover it.  So, finally in the end, because the publisher left a comment on Bianca’s blog with a link to her glowing review of The Gate Keeper’s Cottage, I looked into Black Lotus Books.  In a matter of weeks, I had a contract. Black Lotus publishes only taboo fiction. Perhaps, if I’d written Gemini Rising in 1993, I could have been published by Random House.  If wishes were horses…

Visit Bianca at her web site:   http://www.BiancaSwan.com or;

Blog at: https://biancaswanblog.wordpress.com/



Excerpt of Gemini Rising:

 Alain tucked the in-flight magazine into the seat pocket and gazed out the window. The distance from one life to another vanished with the clouds fleeing beneath silver wings. The new  aircraft transported him from a sunlit future to a misty past…from a black-haired beauty to a fair-haired princess. Sunlight broke through cloud striking steel, blinding him for an instant.

Someone was going to get hurt.

Already he hurt—a low throbbing like a toothache. If he returned to Portugal, Alina would be devastated. His father would disown him. If he picked up his discarded heritage, a part of him would die and Maritza would grieve. For a time. He wasn’t vain enough to think she’d pine for him forever. Alina would. It was that way twins, and their bond was even greater because they were identical.

The choice lay in his hands.

Damn, life got complicated when he tried to declare independence from The Keep. He shifted his long legs cramped beneath the airline seat. He preferred not to think, but fragments of memory plagued the corners of his eyes.

A vivid picture of Alina supplanted images of recent days drenched white-hot by a Portuguese sun. His twin’s presence was more corporeal than the woman sitting to his left. Welcome or not, Alina was there inside him, the mere thought of her a compulsion. He sensed her anticipation mounting as the miles melted. Expectation tingled over him. In self-defense, he grasped at a memory of riding the splendid Lusitano stallions, their beauty and majesty a temporary refuge. Like Maritza. As he pictured his lover framed in an arbor of roses, his heart dived. Grief mingled inseparably with the mounting excitement.

His seat mate muttered something. He smiled vaguely at the tiny movie screen where imaginary figures acted out their roles. The film would end happily; every desire fulfilled. He hated the silver screen people. Things never turned out right—except in the movies.

The roar of jet engines and the spattering of conversation became a distant echo. Alina was journeying. When his sister took flight, despite the distance, she’d lead him down the path her imagination chose. Alina had always been the leader. Or is that a cop out to ease my own guilt?  He laid his head back on the seat and closed his eyes. Why fight the inevitable?

The rumble of the sea surrounded him. July sunshine warmed his face. The light of home was different from any other place, diffused, like sunlight filtered through a special camera lens. He stood on the top tier of the formal garden, looking down to the wide flagstone terrace below. A brisk waterfall sprang from an aperture in rock to feed the swan pond. Even in summer the water rippled clear, green, cool.

The warp and woof of the present unwound, trailing satiny threads of the past over him. He exhaled a sigh only slightly shaded by regret...

 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Old Ephraim and Bear Shifters of the Wild West by Marilyn Barr

 

                I love animal shifter legends and one that caught my attention when researching for “Dance to a Wylder Beat” was the legend of the Ephraim shifters. When Lewis and Clark began their exploration of the western United States, they were surprised to find it teeming with giant bears. It is estimated, in Lewis and Clark’s time, there were over 50,000 grizzly bears and many (now extinct) species of giant black bears in their path. (Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee) Any bear on his hind legs taller than a human man was given the name “Ephraim” and known as a danger to herds, crops, and humans.

                As towns sprung up along the east-west railway line, these bears grew in reputation. The original Ephraim legend (as far as I could trace) comes from an 1811 pamphlet detailing the banishment of a man to the mountains from his town. The fur trader was a swindler, a thief, and subsequently forced to winter in the mountains. When he was found by hunters the following spring, he was more bear than man. It was said he “shifted (changed) into an Ephraim”. The nomadic fur-trading mountain men were common in the wild west. Many of them lived off the land after being ousted from towns. They were called “mountain men” but the least civilized were given the designation of “Ephraim”.

Artist Rendition of Ephraim from True West Magazine


               Could I use this term in my romance set in 1878? Short answer is yes. I came across the legend of “Old Ephraim” who was a giant grizzly bear who seemed to possess human-like intelligence. Old Ephraim was a nine-foot eleven-inch bear who ate flocks of sheep like bags of potato chips. He had distinctive tracks because one of his paws had three toes. (University of Utah). He harassed the farmers of Utah for 92 years until his death in 1923. However, his legend lived on for decades when P.T. Barnum named his oversized bear “Old Ephraim” in his traveling circus. (Legends of Old Ephraim)

Photo of Old Ephraim Monument in UT, taken by Mystery of Utah History.


                As a paranormal romance author, I couldn’t resist resurrecting the Ephraim legend. What if one of these mountain men had a feral family with feral children? If they continued with their wild existence, they would adapt to become more and more like bears. What if one of these children got separated from the group and had to fend for him/herself? An Ephraim child wouldn’t have the option of the foster system in the wild west. Who would be connected enough to nature with a sense of community that overrides their suspicion of the paranormal to take care of such a child? Roaming the wilderness would nurture them into a feral adult, right?

These questions became the backstory for Olive Muegge in my upcoming release “Dance to a Wylder Beat”. She relocates to the civilized town of Wylder (1878 Wyoming Territory) at the request of a cryptic telegraph ad. It was written by Nartan Sagebrush who lives on the edge of Wylder as a leather tanner with his brother, Ikshu. Nartan longs for the community he had as part of the Arapaho tribe before they moved onto the reservation in 1874 without him. He asks his spirit guides for help to assimilate into the settler social circles of Wylder. When Olive arrives, Nartan wonders if his request was misinterpreted or if his guides have decided to mess with him…again.  Will Olive destroy Nartan’s life like a true Ephraim or find a place in the Wylder community for his family? Find out in Dance to a Wylder Beat in the spring of 2021 from The Wild Rose Press…here’s an exclusive first look at the back of the book blurb!






Wednesday, March 10, 2021

How Being a PR Guinea Pig Helped to Make Me a Better (sales)Person

 

Last year I was approached by one of my fellow writers who was working on her Masters in Professional Communication. Her plan was to get into the PR field for authors and she asked if I’d be willing to do an experiment with her. She proposed that if she came up with a marketing plan to increase my visibility as an author for a month, would I be willing to be her guinea pig?

Hmm…let me see. Work with someone getting their PR degree for free? Being the bright entrepreneur that I am... I, of course, said yes!


The Game Plan Used to Boost my Authorship

Within the executive summary my friend provided (I’m withholding her name to protect the innocent…), my genre was identified (Romance – sub genre of SciFi Romance), as well as my target audience. The niche of Romance commands a huge portion of the market with 29 million readers and $1 billion in sales each year. My specific audience is typically woman (84%) who reads for entertainment, escape, and enjoyment.

She also specified that my competition is other authors as well as other media outlets (i.e. movie, TV, video games). On the “business” side of publishing, book piracy and policy changes from all publishers and online book sellers can also create undue stress for an author reaching their target audience.

This campaign was to focus on increasing engagement with my established readers as well as generate new readers.

What were the Overall Goals for the Campaign?

While the overall campaign encompassed more than I can outline here, for expediency sake I’m going to cover the measurable goals that were agreed upon. 

Objectives

  • Increase book sales by 6 books
  • Increase reviews on each published book by 2
  • Create place for folks to review a free reader magnet (The Day Behind Tomorrow)
  • Increase newsletter list by 5%
  • Increase social media audience by 5%

Strategies

  • A “Reviews” campaign - to teach current readers about importance of reviews
  • Keri’s Krew campaign to build a street team
  • Book campaign highlighting Keri’s books to the primary target audience
  • Book campaign highlighting Keri’s books to the secondary target audience

Targets

  • Established readers
  • New Readers
    • Primary target audience – women aged 30+
    • Secondary target audience – men who read romance

Implementation Plan

  • Social medial campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
    • “Reviews” campaign
    • Keri’s Krew campaign
    • Book Campaign for new readers, primary and secondary audience

Ack! How was I Supposed to do All That?

 Fortunately, part of the campaign came with a step-by-step marketing calendar as well as verbiage and graphic images to use when I posted to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.


Here are some of the graphic ads she provided:


 



How Did I Do?

Before I share with you the results, I’d like to point out a couple of things. When I knew I was going to do this campaign, I wanted to create a base to compare the end results. I purposefully halted paid ads as well as kept social media posts to a minimum. 

So, without further ado...

Objectives - Results

  • Increase book sales by 6 books
    • Amazon: sales increase by 967%
    • Other retailers – sales increased by 250%
  • Increase reviews on each published book by 2
    • Not achieved – only received 1 extra review on 2 books
  • Create place for folks to review a free reader magnet (The Day Behind Tomorrow)
    • I had no idea how to do that without creating an extra FB page – which I did not want to do at this time.  
  • Increase newsletter list by 5%
    • Not achieved – 1% increase
  • Increase social media audience by 5%
    • While I didn’t get an overall measurable result, here’s the various platforms broken out:
      • FB page – 39 likes and 4 shares
      • Instagram – 85 posts/created 83 followers
      • Twitter
        • Increase tweets: 170%
        • 75% increase on profile visits
        • 50% increase on mentions
        • 110% increase on impressions

There were other activities I did that weren’t a part of the campaign that could have added to the results:

  • Two Bookfunnel promotions ran for the month
  • My first book was put on sale and I ran a FB ad for it (which was part of the suggestions she included in the campaign)
  • I did a newsletter swap with two other authors in my genre
  • I write a monthly blog post on Writer’s Fun Zone

Confession Time 

There were a couple of things suggested in the campaign that I either had to change or didn’t do:

  • When I targeted my second audience (men who read romance) I got hard pushback from some readers. When I put in a FB ad (see below) the comments were borderline angry. Plus, the CPC was high. I shut it down in less than three days.
  • The campaign provided graphics and letters to send to my local bookstore and library. I didn’t get a chance to pursue that, but I plan on doing so sometime in the future.

What Now?

Would I recommend hiring a PR firm? Dang, if I had extra money floating around, I might give it a shot. But, as I said at the beginning, they are pretty expensive (monthly costs alone could be anywhere from $500 to a couple of thousand. Not to mention how much the retainers fee is).

Since that's not something I'm willing to do right now, I’ll continue with the calendar she provided – changing the marketing message that suits the month. During this experiment, I found a wonderful tool called Hootsuite that allows me to post on three social media platforms for free. Of course, if you want more than the minimal, they will happily upgrade you.  

My ending advice…if someone asks you to be a guinea pig for their marketing degree, what do you have to loose? I say... go for it! 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

A Fenian Warrior by Mary Morgan

As I stated in my February post, I have this fascination with Celtic mythology, specifically the Tuatha Dé Danann. They are known as the Shining Ones, Sidhe (Shee), or the Fae. When I first created my Fae warriors, I sought to give them the name of Fenian.

Here is the definition of Fenian from Merriam Webster:

1. A member of a legendary band of warriors defending Ireland in the second and third centuries (A.D.). 

2. A member of a secret 19th century Irish and Irish American organization dedicated to the overthrow of British rule in Ireland. 

Obviously, I went with the first definition. To expand more, the Fenian name derives from the Fianna Eireann, the legendary band of Irish warriors led by the fictional Finn MacCumhaill (MacCool).

In my stories, a Fenian warrior is part of a group called the Brotherhood. They’re elite warriors within the Fae world who safeguard the realm between Fae and human. These warriors have the power to travel through time called, the Veil of Ages. They are often summoned by the Fae council to restore balance in the mortal world, or to aid humans in need of assistance.

There’s only one actor I’ve envisioned for Conn in Quest of a Warrior, and that’s Alexander Skarsgard. From the moment Conn stepped forth in my first book, Dragon Knight’s Sword, I saw this actor. It’s the way Alexander walks into a room—commanding and fierce. A true warrior.

Image from tvtropes.org

Here’s a preview from Quest of a Warrior, Legends of the Fenian Warriors, Book 1 ~

"You met them in the Order of the Dragon Knights. Now, journey to the realm of the Fae and witness their legends!"

Fenian Warrior, Conn MacRoich has traveled the earth for thousands of years, guarding the realm between mortal and Fae. His deeds are legendary. Yet one mistake will force him on a journey to fix a broken timeline. On Conn’s quest, he must face a human female who will eventually bring this ancient warrior to his knees. 

When Ivy O’Callaghan inherits her uncle’s estate, she never imagines there will be more secrets to unravel, including the one she hides from the world. With the help of a mysterious stranger, she learns to trust and step out of the shadows. However, nothing prepares Ivy when she learns Conn's true identity. 

As the loom of fate weaves a thread around the lovers from two different worlds, will the sacrifices they make lead them to love? Or will their secrets destroy and separate them forever? 

On sale for 99¢ 3/12 - 3/26

AMAZON

 



 

 

 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

The short story ~ Something to read when you don't have a lot of time ~ Post by Jessica E. Subject #FreeRead #ReadAnEbookWeek

 


"A short story is a love affair; a novel is a marriage. A short story is a photograph; a novel is a film." ~Lorrie Moore

"My short stories are like soft shadows I have set out in the world, faint footprints I have left. I remember exactly where I set down each and every one of them, and how I felt when I did. Short stories are like guideposts to my heart…" ~Haruki Murakami

THE SHORT STORY

A short story is much shorter than a novel, generally deals with only a handful of characters, and consists of one main story arch. They are perfect when you only have a brief amount of time to read, but want a complete story, or if you want the enjoyment of a happy ending before you go to bed, and don't want to be up all night reading. (Which I'm sure many of us have done.)

As an author, sometimes I find them easy to write, and other times, not so much. When I first started writing, they were a great way for me to learn story structure and development, as well as character development. It can be hard to convey an entire story in a limited amount of words. 

Since today is the beginning of READ AN EBOOK WEEK (March 7-13, 2021), I have made a couple of my short stories available for FREE on Smashwords during this time. Check them out below!


ALIEN LOVER ~ Unconvinced of her fiancé’s demise, Molly combs the galaxy to search for him. As her supplies run low, she is forced to turn around and set a course for Earth, alone. But, a Moloxian Starcruiser halts her retreat, and the single passenger transports onto her ship without permission. Taser in hand to defend herself, she is startled as the form remolds into her fiancé. Has Diego found her or is her tired mind playing tricks?



CRASH LANDING ~ As his ship plummets toward Earth, Cael believes his life to be over. His last ditch effort to save himself ends in a fiery crash. When he wakes up, he believes he’s entered the afterlife, but his surroundings indicate otherwise. He made it to Earth. But who saved him, and what do they want with him?



THE POWER OF THREE ~ Cursed to live amongst several stone gargoyle statues, Oscar watches a young couple, yearning to participate in their sexual activities. For he has been away from his own lovers for over a year, and longs to touch and be touched again.

When he tumbles off the headboard onto the couple, he is released from the statue but must find a way home. His only thought: a ménage with the man and woman who freed him. But will they try something new to grant him his return passage, or leave him wandering Earth alone?



Whether you enjoy your stories short. long, or a mixture of them all, I wish you...
HAPPY READING TIME!

~ Jessica






Thursday, March 4, 2021

Self-Care Isn't Selfish

By Maureen Bonatch 


We all have a lot on our plate, and if you’re anything like me, you’re continuously wanting to do all the things! Unfortunately, I’ve yet to discover a way to add more time in the day, or days in the week, to do all the things. Instead I shave a little time off my sleep, work through lunch, say no to that fun outing, or trade relaxation time for crossing more things off my list. 

This method may result in taking care of some of that To-Do list, but may mean taking less care of myself. Ignoring self-care can result in fatigue, burnout, reduced productivity and a plethora of other things that sabotage all my efforts at increasing productivity. 


How do we stop this vicious cycle? 


We must find a balance. Self-care sounds like it would be easy to incorporate, because who doesn’t like to do enjoyable things? Often it’s because we’re conditioned to feel guilty for doing something that’s just for us. It feels selfish. 

 If there’s one takeaway from this, it’s that—self-care is not selfish. 

One of my favorite self-care activities is reading. For a handful of years when my twins were young, I used to be one of those people that felt that I didn’t have time to read. That it was a sacrifice I needed to make because there was no time for self-indulgence. 

I really missed reading. 

Reading was good for my mental health—toddler twins, remember? So I made reading, and myself, a priority. Even if I was exhausted and could only read a small bit before falling asleep I started to make time for reading then because I enjoyed it. 

Despite learning this lesson, the same thing happened with my writing for a few years. There was no time—until I made the time. 

 What Can You Do For Yourself Today? 

 
Self-care doesn’t have to take a lot of time out of your day. The important thing is being consistent in making time for things that are important for you and your health, even if it’s only for short intervals throughout the day. 

  •  Read a book 
  • Write that chapter 
  • Watch a movie 
  • Stretch 
  • Make a healthier food choice 

 Like the old sayings about putting your oxygen on first so that you can help those you love, or how your body only runs well on premium fuel, it’s the same for the time you spend on self-care. You should get a return on the investment of this time by feeling better about yourself and/or improving your health.

 Looking to make yourself, and your self-care, a priority? 


Join me April 5th to May 2nd for my online course Self-Care for Authors through Future, Fantasy & Paranormal Authors (FF&P). You don’t have to be an author to take the course—self-care is important for everyone. Find all the details by clicking right here 

What Do You Do For Your Self-Care?



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 website, Facebook & Twitter 

 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