Author Cara Bristol’s favorite books of all time – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Cara Bristol will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Author Cara Bristol’s favorite books of all time

A lifelong reader, I’ve read thousands and thousands of books. Romance is my preferred genre, but I read a variety of other genres, too. It’s hard to pick my favorite books because there are so many, and different ones speak to me at different times depending on what’s going on in my life. However, my favorite books share three things in common: first, they are well-written and crafted; second, they have a good, engaging story; and third, they have “legs” or staying power. Many books are well-written and enjoyable, yet forgettable. Months later, when I see the title, I can’t remember what the book was about. I can remember my favorites decades later.

There are probably hundreds that could make my favorite’s list, but I’m limited here to five:

The Stand by Stephen King – Although I don’t read horror anymore, The Stand remains one of my all-time favorite books. After a plague wipes out most of the population, the survivors face a showdown between good and evil. King is a master at plotting. Things don’t just happen to his characters; the choices his characters make drive the plot.

Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille – A witty, but tragic book. A attorney begins as an upstanding member of high society until he gets sucked into criminal activity after a mafia don moves in next door. What struck me about Gold Coast was how incremental choices lead to disaster. The main character didn’t suddenly decide to commit a crime, but through series of small concessions, he got sucked in.

Devil’s Desire by Laurie McBain – I read this (over and over) as a teenager. A young woman is compromised and forced to marry a roguish marquis, who uses her as a pawn until he begins to fall in love with her. Great emotional conflict between the characters. This is one of my all-time favorite romances.

A Bed of Thorns and Roses by Sondra Allan Carr – I cried my way to the happy ending. This book is based on Beauty and the Beast. It’s a historical romance set just after the Civil War. The hero, a scientist, was badly disfigured in a fire and needs a secretary so he can continue his research. He expects a male secretary, but his doctor hires a beautiful young woman. The hero is horrified. He’s been physically scarred; the heroine has been emotionally scarred. Watching these two people overcome their fears and insecurities and come together was heart-wrenching. It has a wonderful HEA, although the author added an epilogue, which I hated. Loved the book, hated the epilogue.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – When I first heard that adults were reading this children’s book, I was stunned. But I decided to try it, and I was hooked. The series is such a wonderful, complex story with amazing characters. So creative and imaginative. It boils down to a classic theme: good v. evil.

These books entranced me, moved me, captivated me. That’s the experience I want to provide for my readers. I want to pull them into the characters’ lives so that they feel like they are a part of the story. I want to entertain my readers, show them a good time, and let them escape into another world for a while.

March Fellows assumed he had all the time in the galaxy to pursue a relationship with Jules, an alien exchange student from Xenia, until she vanished without a trace. After years of searching, he finds his lost love on the eve of her arranged marriage.

The daughter of the Xenian emperor, Julietta never meant to fall in love with a Terran man while visiting Earth. Leaving to fulfill her responsibilities on her home planet opened up a hole in her heart that could never be filled. When March, now a cyborg, unexpectedly shows up just before she is to be bonded, she struggles to find the courage to turn him away a second time and follow through with her duty. Before she can act, the lovers are thrust into a political conspiracy that threatens the Xenian empire and their lives.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

(In this scene, March finally finds Julietta and confronts her.)

“I never meant to hurt you. I’m sorry. I can’t speak to you.” She reached for the scanner to close the door.

He shouldered past her into her quarters.

She gaped. “What are you doing? You have no right to enter!”

He jerked his head at the controls. “Close the door.”

“Maybe I’ll call the guards instead.” She reached for the call button.

He grabbed her wrist and pressed her hand to the screen, locking them in together. He released her and planted himself between her and the call button. Julietta rubbed her wrist. Though his hand had been callused and rough, his touch hadn’t been hurtful. The March of her past had had the smooth skin of an academic who spent the majority of his time indoors. She didn’t know what work he did now, but she guessed he didn’t teach at the university.

Stolen glimpses at the banquet and in the arena hadn’t prepared her for the effect of his presence. He had grown taller and acquired heavy, thick muscles, though there wasn’t a gram of excess fat on him anywhere. Maturity bracketed his mouth and etched the skin around his temples, but his eyes still reflected the Terran sky. Full lips, no longer soft, slashed across his face with dislike.

His nostrils flared as he exhaled, and then he raked a hand through his hair. He tilted his head. This time, when he looked at her, his anger had evaporated, and his eyes appeared haunted.

She’d earned his anger; his pain was more than she could bear. “March…”

“I shouldn’t be here. I apologize.” He turned to leave.

“Wait!” The entreaty was torn from her. What am I doing? Let him go. ”You’re right. We should talk.” She motioned to a settee. “Would you like to sit?”

“No, but I will.” He positioned himself with his legs spread wide, his hands clasped between his knees, taking up the entire space. He didn’t need to stake out his territory to prevent her from sitting next him; she wouldn’t have dared to join him. Distance was the only protection she had.

She lowered herself onto an opposite chair. “How have you been?” It sounded so inane, she winced.

“I’m sorry about Naimo,” he said. “I hope he will recover.”

“Thank you.” She rubbed the sore spot left by the headdress. “I don’t—how—I don’t understand how you came to be in the arena as the challenger.”

The corner of his mouth quirked. “I don’t either.”

“What?”

“I work for a spaceship remanufacturer. I delivered a ship your father had ordered.”

Business, then. A foolish hope deflated, leaving her more heartbroken. March would not have come for her, and if he had, she would have had to reject him. It is for the best. Let the past remain buried where it can do no harm.

“I still don’t understand the connection to the Sha’A’la,” she said. He’d been magnificent in the arena. Her eyes had been on him the whole time. Her heart had fought with him, for him. The sexy but mild mannered teaching assistant had turned lethal.

He fixed his gaze on her face. “Why did you disappear?”

Julietta rose to her feet and paced the room. “Isn’t it obvious?”

About the Author: USA Today bestselling author Cara Bristol has been the no. 1 best seller in science fiction romance, bdsm erotica, and holiday fiction on Amazon. She’s the author of two science fiction romance series featuring tough alpha heroes: the Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance cyborg series and the Breeder science fiction romance series, which emphasize character-driven stories written with a touch of humor and sizzling chemistry between the hero and heroine. Cara lives in Missouri with her own alpha hero, her husband.

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The Background of Living in the Shallows by Tani Hanes – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Tani Hanes will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

When I began writing these novels (there are seven total!), I never intended for them to get so involved. My students were freaking out over their favorite boyband going on hiatus; I actually had one seventh grader burst into tears when I told her what “hiatus” meant! We burned countless hours talking about these boys, why they needed a break, how long they’d be gone, and what we (yes, I love these guys, too :o) were going to do for the duration. I tried to tell them that a lot of the strain that was showing in the real-life boys’ relationships with each other might be able to heal if they had some time off.

This didn’t make my students feel better.

In this age of instant accessibility and social media, everyone wants to know everything immediately. So I decided to write something fun for us to read, to get us through. And this is how Living in the Shallows was born.

I took a couple of weeks, during which I asked each of my classes, every day (I’m a substitute teacher, so I had all grades), what they’d like to see in my story, and I made a detailed list. And I worked off this list when writing, trying to tick all the boxes. The funny thing is that, once my characters got on paper, they really did come to life; I no longer had complete control of what they said or did, and the more I wrote, the more obvious this became. I eventually had to make the characters older (they were originally in their teens), more mature. And I had to replace my younger beta readers with older ones lol.

The things that happen in the later books (three of the seven are out as of my writing this) are pretty dark and awful, and certainly weren’t on anyone’s wish list; like I said, the story kind of took on a life of its own. So what started as a fun project for me and the young adults I knew kind of morphed into a huge odyssey for me and maybe some “new adults”, or even older, mom-aged people :o)

I have tried, within the implausibility of the world I’ve created, namely a world in which a shy, poor music student could come into contact with a world-famous boyband, to keep things as real as possible. The way they talk, including all the swearing, is real, I can attest to the veracity of this from my experience in the high school classroom. And their physical interaction is pretty real, too; the love scene at the end of Living in the Shallows is pretty explicit, and there’s a lot of that in the following six books, too, because, when a relationship is new, people tend to get busy!

Above all, my students wanted a love story between a boy and a girl, a normal girl, of a normal height and weight, who wasn’t “supermodel beautiful but unaware of it”. Do the boys think she’s pretty? Of course, she’s lovely. But she’d never be on the cover of a magazine. And that’s not what they love about her, anyway. They love that she’s kind and smart and talented and classy. But even there, I tried to make her realistic. Her many talents have come at a price; she basically has no friends, and has no idea how to interact with people. And as she comes to have more confidence in herself as a woman, she has to learn how to interact with young men, as well, which is difficult for her. I wanted my readers, especially the younger ones, to understand that a woman who isn’t “model skinny” with a thigh-gap (odious phrase) can be considered absolutely enchanting by anyone who’s willing to look properly, which these boys were.

The result of getting so much input from potential readers about my characters has possibly created personalities who are too perfect. But a little perfection in a teen fiction romance novel isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you know?

Aileen is a bilingual music student with a chronic case of poverty. She gets a dream job as an interpreter for a boy band making a movie in Japan. Having spent her life as a sheltered, shy only child in the rarefied world of classical piano, she is utterly unprepared for this new world, these boys and their frank physicality and openness. Theo, especially, the known playboy and unrepentant flirt of the group, makes her uncomfortable in a way she’s never felt before, and ultimately Aileen, or Tinker Bell, as she’s known to the boys, has to decide if she’s ready to leave the sidelines and become a participant in her own life.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

The laughter and talking had stopped as soon as they entered the room and saw me. They stood, as if unsure what to do. The boy with the long brown hair recovered his composure first and held out his hand.

“Hello, I’m Theo,” he said in a deep voice that didn’t quite match his young boy look. He had a British accent, too, though it was different from Betsey’s. He added a smile as we shook hands, and I saw gray eyes and dimples to go with the perfect teeth.

The blond boy, whose eyes were a dark, rich brown, held out his hand next. “I’m Ronan, nice to meet you.” For a moment, my jet-lagged brain refused to process the words because his accent was so thick. I desperately flipped back through all the movies I’d seen, trying to place it. Irish. This boy was Irish. Just as I was wrapping my mind around that, the redhead stepped forward.

“Hi, I’m Gethin, pleasure to meet you.” He, too, had a lovely smile, but his eyes were green. And his accent was different, kind of British, but more sing-song, with elongated vowels, like English on a graceful roller coaster.

Was there something in my coffee besides coffee?

The curly haired boy stepped forward to introduce himself. I stared at him warily. He had stunning dark blue eyes, which contrasted with his brown skin, and the longest eyelashes I’d ever seen on a boy. Given what had come out of the other boys’ mouths when they’d spoken, if he started speaking Icelandic or produced yet another English accent, I was going to jump right out the window.

He held out his hand, and as I reached for it, he said, “My name is Matthew, and I’m very happy to meet you.” I nearly yanked my hand back. This boy was Scottish, sounded just like Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter, and looked like he should be breaking hearts on the Nigerian soccer team.

About the Author:My name is Tani Hanes, and I am a 51 year old substitute teacher. I’m from central California and am a recent transplant to New York City. The most important things to know about me are that I’m punctual, I love grammar and sushi, and I’m very intolerant of intolerance. The least important things to know about me are that I like to knit and I couldn’t spell “acoustic” for 40 years. I’ve wanted to write since I was ten, and I finally did it. If you want to write, don’t wait as long as I did, it’s pointless, and very frustrating!

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Flash Crash by Denison Hatch – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Denison Hatch will be awarding a copy of Flash Crash (U.S. only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

When a rogue quantitative programmer intentionally crashes the gold index, it seems that Wall Street’s worst nightmare has come true. In truth, the crisis has just begun.

Across town, an armored truck filled with $120M of gold bullion is hijacked by an ingeniously crafted electromagnetic crane and seemingly driven into thin air.

Programmer David Belov discovers that his virtual “Flash Crash” was simply a required stepping stone towards the largest physical gold robbery in history, and that’s he’s been framed for the resulting chaos, the lives of his beloved wife and son on the balance…

With brooding, hardboiled detective Jake Rivett and the NYPD’s finest operators from the Major Crimes Division actively seeking to locate and arrest David, and other, darker elements nipping at his heels, David is forced to confront his own past in order to have a future.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Suddenly there was a faint whooping noise in the distance.

“Did you hear that?” David asked.

“No. Do you hear me?”

David pulled Marina in for an embrace. “You have to trust me. I know what I’m doing . . .”

“He’s a scorpion.”

“What?” David asked as he scanned the horizon, searching for the source of the mystery vibration.

“Your mom’s favorite story. I’m sure you remember. A frog needs to get across a river, and there’s a scorpion sitting there at the riverbank. The scorpion helpfully offers to carry the frog on his back. So the frog says to him, ‘Well you’re a scorpion. Why should I trust you? How do I know you won’t just sting me?’ And the scorpion answers, ‘Because you have my word. I promise that I won’t bite you.’ So the frog takes the ride. And just as the two of them are about to reach the safety of the other shore, the scorpion suddenly stings the frog. As poison runs through his body and he lays there dying, the frog asks the scorpion one final question: ‘Why’d you do it?’ And the scorpion says, ‘Because I’m a scorpion.’ Vlad’s stung you before. And he’ll sting you again.”

About the Author:

Denison is a screenwriter and novelist. He has a number of feature and television projects in development, including his original screenplay, Vanish Man, which is set up at Lionsgate. A graduate of Cornell University, he lives with his wife and a big dog in a little house in Hollywood. He is presently working on the third Jake Rivett thriller.

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The Other Twin by Nan Dixon – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Nan Dixon will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Who can resist a neighbor in need?

Nathan Forester doesn’t know the first thing about kids. So when the daughter he never knew existed arrives on his doorstep, he needs help, fast! His unlikely ally is next-door neighbor and single mother Cheryl Henshaw. Nathan and Cheryl don’t exactly see eye to eye, but neither can say no to a helping hand.

Renovating Fitzgerald House is Nathan’s chance to finally prove he’s no longer the unreliable twin—and it seems possible with Cheryl by his side. Suddenly their practical arrangement has become something much more. Trust isn’t easy, but they’re stronger when they work together.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Nathan nodded, rubbing at the ache in his chest.

”I can’t screw up,” he said.

“You’ll figure everything out.” Pop slapped him on the back. “Just like we did.”

He couldn’t do this alone. He wasn’t prepared.

There had to be someone else he could tap to take care of Isabella.

He thought back to the women he’d dated in Savannah. There was Tracie, but she could barely take care of herself. Gabby—aptly named since she talked everyone’s ear off—was kind of an airhead. A nice airhead, but still not right.

He’d never been attracted to the motherly types.

The only mother he knew was…Cheryl. And they lived next door to each other.

He released a deep breath. Cheryl.

About the Author: Nan Dixon spent her formative years as an actress, singer, dancer and competitive golfer. But the need to eat had her studying accounting in college. Unfortunately, being a successful financial executive didn’t feed her passion to perform. When the pharmaceutical company she worked for was purchased, Nan got the chance of a lifetime—the opportunity to pursue a writing career. She’s a five-time Golden Heart® finalist and award winning author, lives in the Midwest and is active in her local RWA chapter and on the board of a dance company. She has five children, three sons-in-law, two granddaughters, one grandson on the way and one neurotic cat.

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Writing Fan Fiction by Jason Pere – Guest Blog and Giveaway


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Writing Fan Fiction

I am a huge dork. I love all sorts of games, from video games to board games to card games. There is one particular card game that I should mention. It is called “Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn”, produced by Plaid Hat Games and created by the incredibly talented Isaac Vega. I was introduced to Ashes and the world of Argaia, where the saga of the Phoenixborn takes place, in the August of 2015. I rapidly fell in love with the game and I came to find that there was clearly a highly complex and developed mythos to the world behind the cards but alas virtually none of it was in the public realm. Instead of waiting for Plaid Hat Games to be a little more forthcoming with the story of Ashes I decided to take matters into my own hands a put my creativity to work. There was just too much raw potential for some epic plots, cultures, history and characters to develop. I could not sit idle. I just felt like I had to contribute to the greater story. I called my Ashes fanfiction, flASH fiction.

That is really where my love affair with Fanfiction began. Since last September I have posted a weekly fiction piece to the Team Covenant Gaming Blog, detailing my own imaginative goings-on in the world of Ashes. It has been a wonderful experience and because of my stories I have been able to meet some new people, make some interesting connections, hone my creativity, pick up the odd fan or two and even influence a dorky hobby of mine. I love writing the stuff even when it’s a struggle for each line of text and I do not plan stopping anytime soon.

So, Fanfiction, what is it? How is it different from plain old fiction? How do you write it? Well I will tell you my interpretation of what Fanfiction is. I think the genre gets a bad rap and when people hear the term Fanfiction, they immediacy conjurer up the image of some guy who is far too old to still be living at home, lurking in his parents’ basement, wearing a t-shirt for his favorite fandom and writing a new episode of their most beloved, yet long canceled science fiction space opera TV show. Yes, this type of diehard super fan exists but I will not fault them for being zealously passionate about something near and dear to their heart.

I think that we are all far more acquainted with Fanfiction than we realize. When I was growing up I knew it was pretty common for me to wonder what happened to the characters after the end of one of my favorite movies, or speculate, what if the protagonist had made some different choices. I think that is something that a lot of people wonder and fantasize about. Fanfiction is just a matter of writing those fantasies down. In its most simplistic state Fanfiction is about telling your own story within someone else’s world.

I think that there are two main kinds of Fanfiction. The first is reminiscent of historical fiction in a way. The author will have a clear point of departure. They will use certain elements of an established world and doctrine but make some radical changes from the principle lore. For example, an author of this sort of Fanfiction might dive into George Lucas’ Star Wars universe but postulate “What is Luke Skywalker had never met Obi-Wan?” They could go on to tell a different kind of space epic where Luke becomes the willing apprentice to Darth Vader and fights for the Empire. This sort of story borrows elements from another creator but it is unabashedly divergent fiction. The author of this sort of story will acknowledge that their concoction exists outside of accepted Star Wars lore. That being said, I sure wouldn’t mind exploring who Darkside Luke might have been.

The other sort of Fanfiction is a little trickier. This variety of storytelling is where the author writes material that could pass for cannon doctrine within the confines of a greater fictional work. This is what my flASH fiction series is all about. There are a lot of things to take into consideration with an approach to this sort of Fanfiction. The biggest thing to take into account with this kind of story is continuity with the principle source material. An author will need to make sure that their timeline and characters match up with what has already been established. The will also have to tackle the challenge of portraying characters in a way that allows them to stay in character. Someone writing Indiana Jones Fanfiction could not have everyone’s favorite archeologist come across a Boa Constrictor in his travels and keep his cool, for example.

It can be daunting to become the creative overlord of an established icon in a given franchise. A good way for someone else to play in another creator’s world without upsetting the landscape too much is to introduce some new characters of their own design. Using this technique helps a Fanfiction author interject some of their own personal flavor into the cannon doctrine while still holding true to established elements of the original material. Some new content is going to have to be introduced at some point in order to tell an engaging story. A Fanfiction Author will have to take some liberties and risks, it is just a matter of making them believable. For me good Fanfiction is a happy marriage of tradition and innovation.

I think that the best thing an aspiring Fanfiction writer should keep in mind is the fact that they are playing with someone else’s creative baby and that they should respect the fact that they are putting their hands in something they do not own and did not originate.

The time of the Unity has ended. Now, the realm of man is stranded between Paradise and Purgatory. The Valkyrie and Reaper battle over the fate of all who pass from the land of the living and into the afterlife.

Eight mortal spirits from vastly different worlds tread the same, inevitable path toward their last, crucial decision. Within them all exists the defining conflict every man must face—to look upon the end of their life with glory and honor, or to give credence to their baser longings, calling the Reaper to their own demise.

In this rich, harrowing tale of pride, deceit, honor, vengeance, and redemption, each individual must battle their inner turmoil, facing the sacrifices they have made before their unavoidable end in the land of the living.

But their last day in life is also their first day of death amidst the terrors of the underworld. Lord Master Death wants them all…and the real battle has only just begun.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

“In the beginning. In the time before. When the Unity sat atop the throne in Paradise and reigned over the world of man below, all was good and fruitful. There was life without end for every spirit drawing breath within the embrace of the Unity. Things were as such for a time longer than memory itself. But such things end. The day of the Shattering came upon us all. Paradise above and the realm of man below were forever changed. The Unity became no more, and from it was born both Life and Death. On that day, it was decreed that all who lived must one day die. And we the Valkyrie, the children of Paradise, became its warriors. Our robes were replaced with armor, and hands once empty now grasp sword and shield. Our charge is to watch over those who dwell below in the realm of man. We are tasked with the guardianship of every spirit that yet holds life. We shall protect them until that life is at an end. Then it must leave the realm of man. For each spirit that meets its end with virtue and courage, we the Valkyrie shall fly to them and bid them welcome into the warmth of Paradise. For each spirit that meets its end with fear and wickedness, they shall call the Reaper, and I shall mourn them as they are cast into the cold realm filled with weeping and the gnashing of teeth.”

—Laurel, ArchValkyrie of the Thorn Crown

About the Author: Jason Pere is a born-and-raised New Englander. He always had a passion for the arts and creative storytelling. At the age of thirteen, Jason took up the craft of acting for film and theater. He pursued that interest for over a decade until refocusing his medium of expression into writing.

At first, Jason took a causal interest in writing, starting with poetry and journaling. Over time, he honed his direction and finally began writing larger works. In November of 2012, Jason self-published his first book, Modern Knighthood: Diary of a Warrior Poet.

Since then, Jason has continued writing on his own, mostly short stories and poetry. Calling the Reaper was his first experience committing to a full-length Fiction title.

In early 2015, Jason became affiliated with Collaborative Writing Challenge (CWC). Since then, he has joined many other writers on numerous collaborative projects. Jason is a regular contributor to CWC and is scheduled to have multiple pieces of his work appear in their publications throughout 2016.

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Gawain and the Green Knight by Stefan Emunds – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Stefan Emunds will be awarding a copy of Gawain and the Green Knight to 5 randomly drawn winners (US ONLY) via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

A knight goes out of his way and seeks his execution on his own free will in the hope people will remember him as the embodiment of honor.Sir Gawain serves as the most honorable knight at King Arthur’s Round Table, and after an encounter with the mysterious Green Knight, Gawain’s fate becomes intertwined with that of his own honorable death – a destiny he must fight for to the bitter end. After accepting a beheading challenge from the Green Knight, Sir Gawain is awestruck to find the knight quite alive, despite his mortal wound.

In the year that follows, Gawain strikes out across the land in search of the green chapel, just one link in the chain of a perplexing and ancient mystery behind the Green Knight, and the circumstances of Gawain’s voluntary execution. Along the way, Gawain’s strength, duty, and honor will be tested as he fights through treacherous trials and carnal temptations. Trapped in a terminal karmic scenario, and honor-bound to seek out his own death, Gawain leaps into the ethos of mythology as a hero of legend.

A classic retelling of the story of Gawain and the Green Knight, this story of karma and honor brings the legend back to life as a mystical romance and epic adventure tale that will whisk you away to an era of chivalry, honor, and divine purpose.

Read an excerpt:

My God – it’s the Lord’s wife!

Noiseless, he dives back into the bed and pretends to be asleep, the thin sheet over his head.

The Lady is wearing a luxurious dress in champagne shades, tight around the hips, sporting a generous décolleté. Her pearl necklace rolls over her tightened breasts all the way onto her lap. She casts the bed curtain aside and thrones herself on the mattress. The tight dress forces her into a straight posture. The scent of her opulent perfume invites Gawain, but he shallows his breath and remains stiff under the blanket. Quickly, she runs out of patience and pokes him. Gawain uncovers his head and fakes a surprise by crossing himself theatrically.

“Good morrow, Sir Gawain. Did I scare you?” She asks in a melodious voice.

“Apologies, my Lady. For a moment I thought I saw a gho … I mean an angel.”

“What a charmer! And so careless. Do you always leave your door unlocked? I could have tied you up in your bed.”

About the Author:
Stefan loves to write spiritual, visionary, and inspirational fiction and non fiction. He was born in Germany and enjoyed two years backpacking in Australia, New Zealand, and South-East Asia in his early twenties.

Although drawn to philosophy and spirituality since adolescence, Stefan chose a career in the telecommunication industry. Since then, he has worked as a business development manager in Europe, Middle East, and in South East Asia.

For almost three decades, Stefan has pursued a spiritual career at B.O.T.A., a modern mystery school teaching Tarot, Qabalah, Gematria, esoteric Astrology, and Alchemy.

2012 Stefan kick-started his author hobby career. He writes about the mysteries of life and beyond and likes to tickle people’s spiritual bone. He has set his heart on promoting a contemporary, spiritual Christianity too. Of course, he also writes to entertain. Spirituality is fun.

When Stefan isn’t writing, he spends his time with his children and works on his spiritual career, in the hope to meet God face to face in this lifetime.

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A Day in My Life: The Glamour Behind the Scenes by Eva Charles – Guest Blog and Giveaway

 

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Eva Charles will be awarding a $75 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

A Day in My Life: The Glamour Behind the Scenes

At a cocktail party over the holidays, I finally ‘fessed up to writing contemporary romance novels. The reaction was mixed, some snickered, politely of course, while others gushed over my glamorous new career. Glamorous indeed. I love what I do, but I’m quite certain that actuaries, pig farmers, and the young clerk at the bagel shop have more glamour in their workday than I do. But I’ll let you be the judge.

After taking my dogs out for an early morning walk, and making us all some breakfast, I stroll across the kitchen with a large mug of coffee to my office that overlooks the woods. I spend the first hour on administrative tasks, marketing, responding to emails and catching up on social media—before I even get out of bed, I look through my mini Ipad to determine how many emails need to be answered and how much activity has happened on social media while I slept. Although I enjoy connecting on social media, Facebook can derail the best-laid plans if I’m not careful.

Between 8:30 and 9:00 I pull up or pull out whatever manuscript I’m working on. Some days are pure writing days, on other days, I also edit or do a little research. I begin by reading back what I wrote the previous day. Usually I change just a word or two, but at other times, I attack like a rabid dog, tearing every sentence to shreds. When I’m satisfied, I put my fingers to the keyboard and click away.

On a good day, the words flow effortlessly from my brain to the page, sometimes coming so quickly that my fingers can’t keep up. And other days, my brain is a swamp and the clever ideas are stuck in murky sludge. On those days, I have trouble resisting the endless distractions, the dogs nudging me for attention, the woodland animals playing in the backyard, a phone call from one of my kids or from a friend, and social media beckoning. Fortunately this doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, I walk away from my desk and do something else. Something productive that might or might not have to do with writing books. This rarely gets the juices flowing, but it does prevent me from becoming too frustrated, and stressed-out. The feeling is akin to lying awake at three in the morning, knowing you have a full day ahead of you. The more you try to sleep the more sleep evades you, until you’ve worked yourself into a frenzy. There’s nothing good about it.

About 4:00, I take the dogs out for a long walk, and then catch up on emails, do any leftover administrative work, surf the web for motivational quotes, interesting stories, or funny memes to post on Facebook—sometimes I make my own. This is also the time when I might run to the post office to mail books, throw in a load of laundry, or grocery shop. But on some days, my characters are so animated that they pull me back to the computer after my walk, and I write until dinner.

In the evening I read mostly for pleasure, often in my genre. I spend at least fifteen minutes before bed doing some small exercise to improve my skills, reviewing a list of synonyms for the word look, completing a tutorial on comma placement, reading an article on deep POV. Although these might seem like tedious activities, they’re necessary to perfecting the craft.

I follow this routine six days a week. I take one full day off per week to visit my mom, but I do spend the commuting time lost in the world of my characters. On the weekends, I start my day a little later and end earlier, so that I can spend some time with my husband.

I feel very fortunate to be able to spend my days writing, and I’ve met many wonderful readers, authors, bloggers, and industry professionals on my journey. But glamour? It only exists on the pages of my books.

 

Prepare to fall in love with the Claytons and Harringtons and their rich Portuguese heritage. A Wedding at Meadows Shore is the first book in the series. In it, you’ll meet the family and visit their beloved Meadows Shore nestled along the moody Atlantic in the charming seaside town of Fair Harbor.

It all begins with Sophie’s story, where she discards the past and learns to trust herself and others. The series follows the lives of her sisters and cousins while they, too, sort through their baggage and fall in love. Travel with them on their romantic journeys, stopping in rural Minnesota, New Orleans, and other enchanted places along the way.

They are wealthy and powerful, but suffer pain and loss much like the rest of us. Even great privilege can’t shield them from those experiences. But despite their wealth and power, I think you’ll find them approachable and down-to-earth—or as Cole Harrington would say: “We put our pants on one leg at a time, same as everybody else.”

There’s an old Portuguese adage, “the rooster crows loudly, but it’s the hen who’s in charge.” And so it is with the Claytons and Harringtons: strong women, alpha males, and of course, Avó Angelina, the family matriarch who keeps them all on their best behavior.

Bem vindo à família, Welcome to the family!

Enjoy an Excerpt from A Wedding at Meadows Shore:

His voice took on a husky, seductive quality. “The women I date aren’t interested in my body, Sophie. What interests them is how I pleasure their bodies.”

She stared deep into his icy blue eyes and snickered.

Max never missed even the smallest of details. They were often the difference between success and getting your hat handed to you. Tonight, he noticed Sophie’s eyes betray her, even as she mocked him. Her pupils were dilated, the rich, whiskey-colored irises nearly overtaken by black. I have her attention.

Embolden by her body’s reaction, he took a step closer. He was so close that if she’d been breathing, her breath would’ve warmed his skin. “I can bring much more to your bed than my father does. So…much…more…” He drew out the words, emphasizing each in a voice that oozed sex. “And though I’m not an easy man to impress, I’m sure you’d have no trouble persuading me to finance your agency. None at all,” he drawled.

Neither of them spoke for a long moment, maybe two. The air was charged. The silence dangled between them like a ripe peach, fragrant and swollen, tempting the weakest among them to reach for it first.

“What do you think?” he asked softly, ending the silence.

While waiting for her response, a calculated kind of wait, he resisted the urge to lift his hand and run his fingers through the strands of hair that’d come loose, softly framing her face.

“I think you really are an ass.”

With that, she turned and walked away. Leaving him to gape at her magnificent back.

About the Author:
Eva Charles is the author of the multi-titled Meadows Shore Series chronicling the lives and loves of the Clayton-Harrington family. She invites you to visit their beloved Meadows Shore, nestled in the charming seaside town of Fair Harbor, where you’ll enjoy love, laughter, loyalty, and an abundance of mouth-watering food, Portuguese style.

After being a confirmed city-girl for more than thirty-five years, Eva moved to beautiful western Massachusetts in 2014. There, she found herself living in the woods with no job, no friends (unless you count the turkeys, deer, and coyotes roaming the backyard), and no children underfoot, wondering what on earth she’d been thinking. But as it turned out, it was the perfect setting to take all those yarns spinning in her head and weave them into a romantic tale.

When she’s not writing, trying to squeeze information out of her tight-lipped sons or playing with the two cutest dogs you’ve ever seen, Eva’s creating chapters in her own love story.

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The Applicant by Aidee Ladnier – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Aidee will be awarding a $50 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


How can something so cuddly and adorable be so destructive? The teddy bear robot decimating his lab is only the first disaster of the day for roboticist Forbes Pohle. If he can figure out how to end its rampage, he still has to interview applicants for the position of research assistant and convince the time-traveler on his doorstop that they should be making their future right now.

Oliver Lennox didn’t travel back in time to have a quickie in the blast chamber—but it certainly is fun. This younger Forbes is a sweeter, more innocent version of his lover. And it will be hard to leave him behind in the past.

If you like sexy nerds, humor, plenty of action, and a love story not even time can disrupt, this romantic adventure has the perfect credentials for the job.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

A wiry man stood on Forbes’s doorstep. He was dressed in a T-shirt, tight black jeans, black nail polish, and red Chuck Taylors. His strawberry blond hair was spiked up in front. The corners of his eyes and his freckled nose wrinkled.

Forbes blinked back his surprise and opened his mouth, expecting words to come out. He cleared his throat and tried again. “Come in.” Forbes waved him inside the house. “I’m Forbes Pohle. I’m the one who posted the job listing.”

The man grinned and held out a hand. “Very pleased to meet you, Dr. Pohle. I’m Oliver Lennox. Please call me Oliver.”

Forbes blushed at the title as he clasped Oliver’s warm hand. Forbes was a PhD three times over, but he hadn’t put that in the advertisement.

“If you’ll come this way, we can talk in the lab.” He turned and walked back down the hallway to the adjacent laboratory, assuming the applicant would follow.

“Oh, I didn’t come about…,” Forbes heard him say before he ran into Forbes’s back. To be fair it wasn’t his fault. Forbes had stopped short in the lab doorway.

During the few minutes he’d stepped out to answer the door, the laboratory had been destroyed.

About the Author:Aidee Ladnier, an award-winning author of speculative fiction, began writing at twelve years old but took a hiatus to be a magician’s assistant, ride in hot air balloons, produce independent movies, collect interesting shoes, fold origami, send ping pong balls into space, and amass a secret file with the CIA. A lover of genre fiction, it has been a lifelong dream of Aidee’s to write both romance and erotica with a little science fiction, fantasy, mystery, or the paranormal thrown in to add a zing.

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My Take on Critique Groups by Ally Shields – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ally Shields will be awarding a $30 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

My Take on Critique Groups
by Ally Shields

The pros and cons of critique groups are eventually discussed—sometimes hotly debated—whenever writers/authors get together. Opinions vary from “wonderful,” “can’t do without mine” to “Ugh, no, waste of time.” My own experiences have been on both sides of the coin.

Some twenty years ago, my first critique group of twelve aspiring writers was a fabulous experience. We met weekly, exchanged manuscripts, and reported back the next week with written critiques and more pages to exchange. It took a long time to get through a few chapters, but each member was thoughtful, giving of their time, and honest but careful how they expressed their opinions. As a beginning writer, I was so fortunate to have found them.

After three years, the group disbanded. I sought a new group, both locally and on line, but my second, third, and fourth critique groups (three or four people in each) were useless or outright disasters. Comments like “I don’t like vampires” and “I don’t read anything in third person” were not helpful, and there were way too many critiques peppered with “I hate this” or “I love this” without any clarification or explanation. Whether good or bad, such general comments don’t improve your writing, and they generated hurt feelings and/or jealousy among the writers. These three groups also took too long, exchanging maybe once a month, and members were frequently late in returning critiques. Maybe worst of all, I felt as if they viewed the process as a competition that only one person could win. I eventually moved on.

What worked for me was finding the right critique partner, someone who knew and understood my genre and was professional in her approach. We both write fantasy but mostly for different audiences. We don’t view our interaction as a competition but rather a chance to make each other’s books the best they can be. We take agent or pub rejections—of the other person’s work—personally. We respect differences in style, and we honor deadlines by returning manuscripts promptly. I’ve never met my online critique partner in person, but she’s my toughest critic and my biggest fan.

If you haven’t found your critiquing niche yet, keep looking. It isn’t a one-size-fits-all process, but when you make the right connection, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it.

Too many ghosts is never a good thing…

Detectives Maggie York and Josh Brandt’s latest murder case comes at the wrong moment. She just moved out on him and wants to “cool it.” But complications throw them together more than usual. Even for New Orleans, the case is unique—with way too many suspects and creepy things—ghosts, snakes, curses, not to mention the witches.

Maggie and Josh try to make sense of it all and resist finding consolation in each other’s arms. Then Josh’s ex-fiancee, a curvy blonde, arrives from Boston, making a touchy situation impossible.

But this killer won’t wait for them to sort out their personal lives, and the situation spins out of control…

Enjoy an Excerpt:

The old woman had been particularly insistent on attendance tonight, piquing Maggie’s curiosity. And a little apprehension. Had Selena had another of her visions, possibly foretelling trouble in the near future? When asked, her cousin had given a typically cryptic answer. “Good and evil are always in motion.”

Which told her nothing new. Maggie sighed, darting a glance at the focused women around her. No matter. The future wouldn’t be changed by worrying. Besides, she had no real objection to being here and supporting the coven’s hopes of healing one member’s gravely ill four-year-old niece, for a laid-off worker to find a new job, and a universal plea for greater wisdom. They could all use a dose of that.

While calling upon the Goddess to bless and protect them, Selena made a three-sixty turn, her gown billowing as she included every participant. Maggie suddenly stiffened and peered behind her cousin. Had something dark and wispy swooped past? No, of course not. The lifting dawn mist had fired her overactive imagination.

Yet her heart beat a bit faster, and she joined in the final lines of the closing chant with more gravity than usual.

“In calm or stormy days to come, light our pathways safely home.
Gracious Goddess, grant our plea. So mote it be.”

Maggie was tempted to add an “Amen” for good measure.

As they blew out their candles, her cell phone buzzed. She checked the screen. Police dispatch. Her real world snapped back into place. While they’d been surrounded by the hope inherent in these pre-dawn gatherings, someone else had committed the most grievous assault upon society…the murder of one of its citizens.

About the Author: Ally Shields grew up in the Midwest along the Mississippi River, still considers herself “a river rat,” and currently resides near Des Moines. After a career in law and juvenile justice, she turned to full-time fiction writing in 2009. Her first urban fantasy, Awakening the Fire (Guardian Witch #1) was published in 2012, and she currently has twelve published novels. She loves to travel in the US and abroad and incorporates many of those settings into her books. Ms. Shields welcomes reader contact through her website and can frequently be found on Twitter.

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Worlds Reclaimed by Maggie Mundy


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Maggie will be awarding a digital copy of Worlds Changed to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Clare and her group of vampires, fae and werewolves want to live on Earth. To do that, they must heal the worlds they have been visiting through the portals.

Vesi, is an albino vampire and Heln, is a white werewolf. Neither has been accepted by their people. This unlikely couple tries to fight their growing attraction to each other while helping to save two worlds.

On one world, a mist is closing in so nothing will survive. On the other, the High Priestess Sari is at war. Her power is failing and she wants to use Vesi’s blood so she can live forever.

Can Heln save his love and help his friends save both worlds. Will their group ever get to Earth?

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Heln ran across the deck as he watched Vesi fall. Everything seemed to slow down and yet he knew it had been only a second since the lightning streaked across the sky and hit her chest. It might as well have hit his chest, for he thought his world was being wrought in two. He knew one thing for certain. If she died he did not want to live. How could he have changed so much in such a short time?

He had grown up hating bloodsuckers. One had killed his mother and the pain still ran deep. He was a soldier and a hard man; he needed to be to survive. All his life he had been an outcast amongst the wolves and more than anything he wanted to belong. He always hoped when he imprinted on a wolf female, the clans would then accept him.

Heln knew that would never happen now as he felt the tug of his heart going towards Vesi. His yearning for her gave him a physical ache in his chest. His acceptance within the clans had always been tenuous at best. The clans considered a white wolf a bad omen and he would have been killed before now if he could not fight so well. His mother always protected him when he was small, but once she was gone he fended for himself. All his life he needed to prove himself to get respect and now would be no different. He would fight these feelings he had for Vesi, and not give up on his dream of being part of the clan.

About the Author: Maggie Mundy lives in Australia and is a member of Romance Writers of Australia. She recently completed a Bachelor of Arts in Drama and English at Flinders University. She had a short story published in the RWA Topaz Anthology Little Gems in 2010 called Sea and Vines. She has four books with Rogue Phoenix Press. Two erotic novellas called Blood Scent and Blood Oath and two paranormal romances called World Change and World Apart.

She has also performed for many years in corporate entertainment for which she wrote her own sketches, which probably explains why her head is so full of characters. She loves writing romance but thinks falling in love can be scary, especially in her stories where creatures of the night exist.

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