Killing Your Darlings by Ryan Lawrence – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ryan Lawrence will be awarding a $10 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.

Killing Your Darlings

I was once asked if it was difficult to “kill one’s darlings.” Let’s look at this more broadly than just the mechanism of “killing off a primary or popular character for plotline purposes,” but I will get to that in a moment, not to worry. Now, it takes courage and fortitude to cut storylines you’ve worked tirelessly on and edit out characters you believe add flavour and personality to your work. How can you think only some of what you’ve written is gold–it’s all great stuff! Maybe it is, but it’s likely not, and here’s the thing–not everything you write is essential for your story, anyway. And all of this is okay. Still, it is hard to accept, especially for new writers. I know it was for me.

Recognizing that something is unnecessary, too long or derivative can be difficult because you initially think everything you write is best-selling stuff. The idea that something you’ve worked hard on should be removed because it doesn’t contribute to a tighter plotline or a more coherent narrative is a tough pill to swallow. The act of editing can feel discouraging and daunting, but it will eventually, sooner than later, trust me, begin to feel freeing, if not invigorating. Cuts are necessary to produce the cleanest, best work possible. Once you see the story’s plot flow more fluidly and the remaining characters’ personalities and poignancy are given more time and space to flourish, the discouragement will disappear. Remember, before discarding (or deleting!) the remains of edited-out text, including dropped characters, see if anything can be reworked into the story another way. Cleaner. Or keep it around for use in a future project. You never know.

As far as orchestrating the demise of a beloved or entertaining character–or characters, I can’t speak for anyone else on this, but for me, it’s never been much of a problem. Regarding the villain, it can be a lot of fun to think of creative and exciting ways to off them, so they get their just deserts. It’s amusing for a writer. But when you realize the death of a main character, like your protagonist, or even just a likeable one (who doesn’t deserve it), will create a better, more satisfying ending or plot twist, I can see how it would be difficult to “let go.” But writing is emotional, which means heartbreak and unfairness as much as justice and satisfaction are fair game. Even when a character wasn’t intended to perish in your story’s outline, but as you wrote further, their death becomes organically necessary or perhaps unexpectedly exciting, what must be done must be done. The best story possible shouldn’t be derailed by personal character attachment.

So in answer to whether it’s difficult to kill one’s darlings, yes, it can be. Admittedly, it was a bit in the beginning, with my first novel, Vindictive, but only because I wasn’t sure if I was killing the correct characters off or even if I was killing enough of them off. (How shocking!) With subsequent work, like Vindictive Too, I fully understood the necessity of not playing favourites or holding back. If the death of a character, ANY CHARACTER, will evolve my story into something more significant, satisfying, entertaining, and unexpected than “OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!” Of course, my mother has warned me that there’s a particular hunky character she’s grown very fond of whose death would make her VERY UPSET. I might need to consider this as I write the third book in the series. (Or not! HA!)

The best revenge never includes forgiveness. To truly punish the guilty, something worse must be done to them.

A chain of vengeful events is set in motion when a man’s brutally murdered body is found in an alley behind a seedy bar. Inspector Declan James is put on the victim’s case, only to discover his intimate connection to the slain man. After a not-by-chance meeting with the mysterious Véronique, a woman on a mission to right a terrible wrong, Declan finds himself mired in an intricate web of corruption, lies, and coverups.

Marie and Jacques Bergé, the owners of the internationally renowned Château Bergé, act publically as the pinnacle of society and wealth, but behind closed doors, their lives are in turmoil. From Marie’s erratic behaviour and bizarre disappearances to Jacques’s not-so-secret love for another woman, Fairporte’s “it” couple teeters on the edge of destruction.

In the shadows, a bearded man, powerful and dark of heart, secretly orchestrates his machiavellian manoeuvres from a place of sadism and despair.

From the bustling core to the rustic outskirts of Fairporte, ON, secrets, suffering, and rage are found everywhere. As the cruel desire pain, the wronged seek retribution, and the fragile break, will anyone get their revenge before death or madness claim them?

Enjoy an Excerpt

The alley was off Vanier Avenue in a less-than-savoury section of Fairporte continuously ignored by developers, including the Bergé family and Cartell Worldwide. Plans for gentrification had yet to be proposed by city officials. Declan was familiar with the area, having frequented several of its local watering holes.

This part of the city was home to many of Fairporte’s undesirables and unwanted. The seedy bars, the strip clubs, and most non-white collar criminals thrived here.

Declan was looking for anything he might have missed. He had a feeling, a hunch that something small but pivotal during the initial lookover had remained unnoticed. He had to find that obscure piece of evidence. Declan made it his mission, his responsibility.

He recalled the male victim’s clothes were nothing but tatters of fabric: slashed, ripped, and bloody. They held no discernible shape or style to offer aid in identifying the poor bugger. Even the tags and labels had been removed.

Severely beaten, the body had been robbed of all identification and personal belongings. All digits had had their pads burnt off. Declan thought that was excessive, but it could suggest a professional hit. Worst of all, the victim had been shot in the face and skull several times.

His detective prowess exhausted, Declan considered the body currently unidentifiable. He had faith that Forensics would eventually discover its identity.

It? Declan quickly corrected himself. Him! While a lack of respect for a victim’s corpse had infected many of his colleagues, Declan refused to give in to that dehumanization. He fought to stay compassionate, and sometimes he failed, but he refused to stop trying.

About the Author:Ryan Lawrence was born and raised in Guelph, ON, and he is a graduate of the University of Guelph in English Literature. Ryan lives in London, ON, with his husband, Todd, their cat Dora, and his massive comic book collection that once fell on Todd. He’s okay.

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Shiloh’s Secret by KD Ellis – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews we.comes KD Ellis who is celebrating today’s release of Shiloh’s Secret, the second book in the Out in Austin series. Enter the Rafflecopter for the chance to win a $50.00 First for Romance Gift Card!

Shiloh Beckett has a trust fund, a stalker and a secret. He doesn’t trust easily, but his new bodyguard might just break the cycle.

Shiloh Beckett might be the sole heir to Beckett Industries, one of the leading tech companies in the world, but the last thing he wants is to become another suit-and-tie. He’s learned the hard way that money can’t buy happiness, just a better brand of misery.

Gage Tucker lives by the motto Protect and Serve. Raised by a cop who failed his family, Gage chose to serve his country the only way he knew how—with boots on the ground and a gun in his hand. After a mission gone wrong, Gage came home with a broken body but the same drive to protect. Months of rehab later, he joined Eagle Security as a Personal Protection Officer and he’s been a bodyguard ever since. Protecting a trust-fund brat from the paparazzi isn’t what he signed up for.

Soon he learns that there’s more than just the media after Shiloh, and the secrets the boy is hiding will change everything. If he can’t convince Shiloh to trust him, how can he keep him safe?

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, rape, reference to past child abuse, self-harm and suicidal ideation, and PTSD,. There are references to drug use, sex work, elements of BDSM—Daddy kink and power play—and parental neglect.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Shiloh hiked the hem of his baby-doll dress higher as he leaned his knee against the back of the chaise. He knew the drape of silk pooling in the hollow of his thighs barely left more than a teasing shadow to keep him modest.

Not that anyone in the frat house cared. He’d seen each of the Sigma boys naked at one point or another, while either on his knees or his back. In fact, the only man here he hadn’t seen naked yet was his bodyguard, a man who bought his muscles in a bottle of methyl-testosterone.

Brad sat in the armchair across from him. He was scanning the crowd of drunk college students stumbling from room to room, supposedly keeping an eye out for cameras. In reality, though, Shiloh caught the subtle glances toward the chaise, the way his gaze lingered on Shiloh’s exposed skin and the even-less-subtle looks into the corner, where a couple was doing lines on the glass side table.

Shiloh propped himself up on an elbow so he could see them. “Hey, Jorgie.” Shiloh feigned a slur. He’d been nursing the same glass of cheap whiskey since he’d arrived over an hour ago, though he’d skipped to the kitchen for a half-dozen refills for the sake of appearance. “Kiss you for a line.”

Jorgie, nearly as fabulous as Shiloh in a glittery pink tank and tight jeans, wiped his nose before grabbing the baggie. He stumbled over, his cheeks flushed, blue eyes nearly black as he leaned down. His lips were hot when they pressed against Shiloh’s.

Jorgie lost interest quickly, dropping the baggie on Shiloh’s lap as a girl Shiloh vaguely recognized stumbled past. Jorgie trailed after her, calling “Evie, those shoes!”

Shiloh popped the seal on the bag and turned it gently, letting the coke fall against the side. He shook out a crooked line on his thigh. By now, his bodyguard had given up all pretense of watching the room. Brad’s gaze locked on the powder.

Slowly, Shiloh ran a teasing finger over his skin to straighten the line. He admired the way it looked, even paler than his sun-starved flesh.

“I don’t mind sharing,” Shiloh said suddenly into the silence between them, and Brad dragged his gaze up to Shiloh’s. He wet his lips. He wanted it. That was obvious—wanted it even more than he wanted Shiloh. “I won’t tell if you don’t.”

And that was all it took.

Shiloh was almost disappointed at how easy it was. Brad pushed his way to standing, stalking closer. Shiloh held himself still. Brad only loomed for a second before dropping heavily to his knees. There was the briefest hesitation then his bodyguard hunched over his thigh. He pressed one large finger against his left nostril, then the sound of sniffing made Shiloh wrinkle his nose in disgust.

He expected the man to sit back but Brad lingered, skimming his thumb over Shiloh’s thigh. It would be sexual in another circumstance—foreplay, a tease—but Shiloh knew he was just grabbing the last of the powder. Brad lifted his thumb to his mouth, rubbing it over his gums.

Brad’s brown eyes grew darker as the drug tightened its grip on him. Shiloh was on the clock now. He would be lucky if the drug stuck in the man’s system for a half-hour, with everything else in his veins.

About the AuthorKD Ellis is a professional cat wrangler by day, and an author by night. She moved from a small town to an even smaller village to live with her husband and wife and their two children. She loves reading—anything with men loving men. She writes queer romance in between working her two jobs and cuddling her pets—all six of them, which confuses the turtle.

Goodreads | First for Romance Author Page

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Notice: This competition ends on 30th November 2021 at 12am EST. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

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Summer Storms by Thomas Grant Bruso – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Thomas Grant Bruso will be awarding a $10 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.

Sixteen-year-old Earl Layman is going stir-crazy. Secluded with the flu inside the four walls of his home and only the escape of his video games to help him through, Earl is struggling to keep his sanity.

That is until he notices the boy next door, seventeen-year-old Rex Chambers, raking leaves in the adjacent yard.

Earl’s summer is about to change. Before another torrential rainstorm hits the small upstate New York town of Betham County, they meet during an awkward cell phone exchange. As they start to connect through occasional texts, Earl and Rex enter the throes of adolescent lust.

In the early stages of forging a lasting connection, their family situations threaten to destroy all they are working for.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Earl was a funny name for a sixteen-year-old boy. It reminded Earl of an older man, like his late uncle Fred who died when Earl was two years old.

As he stared down at a photo album spread open across his lap, the pictures of his uncle Fred and family reminded him of a conversation he’d had with his mother years before about death and dying.

Earl ran a finger over a photo of his uncle smiling back at him from beneath the glossy sheet of paper: white buck teeth, dark-brown eyes, thinning blond widow’s peak, and a handlebar moustache. Earl had pulled the album out of storage when memories of his life in Jessup, New York, resurfaced while he was sick from school this week. He flipped through scads of photos, faces from yesteryear, as he wiped his moist eyes with the back of his hand, reminiscing.

The idea to trek down memory lane came clear to Earl when he’d had a silent, reflective moment about his own life—his purpose, and who he was.

Six years ago when his family was living in a tiny, two-bedroom duplex in the small town of Jessup, before they moved to Betham County, Earl and his mother had a long conversation about life and death. Earl asked the most obvious question: “Why does everybody have to die?”

“Even the good guys like Uncle Fred die,” she’d said.

The conversation with his mother had been triggered by his finding their cat, Shells, unresponsive, just after he’d stumbled out of bed early one morning to use the bathroom. Shells was lying on the floor, curled up in a corner. Earl crouched next to her and ran his hand through her soft black-and-white fur. She did not move, so Earl yelled for his parents. He recalled the sad expressions on their faces when they came running to him.

Earl cried when he and his father had to bury Shells in the backyard, a fragment of memories now many miles behind them. Earl had sat with his mother that morning as she answered his questions, the importance of death, and the grief that comes with losing life’s precious things.

“Like Uncle Fred and Shells,” she’d said, “everything and everybody has a purpose. That’s why it’s important to love and care for everyone and everything, people and animals, every day. It’s sad to lose a pet or a family member, but it’s also natural and part of life.”

“Are you and Dad going to die like Uncle Fred and Shells?”

“One day. But not for a long time.”

His mother’s hug, the safety of her warm embrace, made Earl happy. After saying goodbye to Uncle Fred and Shells, Earl never wanted to let go of his parents. They were all he had.

About the Author: Thomas Grant Bruso knew at an early age he wanted to be a writer. He has been a voracious reader of genre fiction since he was a kid.

His literary inspirations are Jim Grimsley, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Karin Fossum, Joyce Carol Oates, and John Connolly.

Bruso loves animals, book-reading, writing fiction, prefers Sudoku to crossword puzzles.

In another life, he was a freelance writer and wrote for magazines and newspapers. In college, he was a winner of the Hermon H. Doh Sonnet Competition. Now, he writes book reviews for his hometown newspaper, The Press-Republican.

He lives in upstate New York.

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Baking with Banshees by Xenia Melzer – Guest Blog

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Xenia Melzer who is celebrating today’s release of Demon’s Wish, the first book in her Demon’s Mate series.

Baking with Banshees

I’m a huge fan of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and when I was confronted with the chance to create a little homage to the Guide, I simply couldn’t resist. In the world of Demon’s Mates exists a book called The Guide to Successful and Satisfying Sex with a Paranormal. The reference to Douglas Adams is rather obvious but that wasn’t the only reason I introduced the book to the plot. As an avid reader of paranormal stories of all flavors I often think how handy a book explaining everything about sex with paranormals would be for the characters and so, when Sammy from Demon’s Wish decides he wants to go all the way with his demonic boyfriend, he turns to the Guide, trusting it will help him with his endeavor. Of course I’m not going to elaborate on what the book says about sex with a demon – the screen would go up in smoke, for one – but the chapter about Banshees can be safely released without corrupting younger readers and giving older readers ideas for the bedroom that could send them to the orthopedist. Here’s what the Guide has to say about Banshees:

You don’t have sex with Banshees. They are asexual. In fact, there’s many things you don’t want to have or do with Banshees. You don’t want to hear their scream – unless you feel ready to leave this plain of existence. You don’t want to take fashion advice from them – unless you’re ready to learn about the finer details of practically every kind of cloth on the planet. In comparison, hearing their scream seems like mercy. You don’t want to get into a discussion about hair dye with them – unless you’re prepared to get your hair dyed a different color every week for the next few months of forever. You don’t want to talk gender with them – unless you enjoy getting your head ripped off. And you never ever under no circumstances want to bake with them. For clarification of this vital point and to emphasize how much you don’t want to share a kitchen with a Banshee, we have listed a recipe for muffins and how a Banshee would go about making them.

Mix six medium-sized eggs and 250g of powdered sugar until the mixture is nearly white and has bubbles.
What do they mean, medium-sized? How big can an egg get… Oh, wait, okay, they probably mean not to take ostrich eggs. And I guess emu and cassowary are out as well. No quail or hummingbird eggs either. Too small. So I guess I’ll just take two duck’s eggs, two chicken eggs and isn’t there some powder that is just like eggs only less messy? Now, powdered sugar, what’s powdered sugar? I thought sugar is grainy, like salt. Should I just step on it until it’s more like dust? That’s going to take forever and I don’t have that much time to waste, there’s jewelry to buy and I wanted to try that new dye and why am I bothering with this crap anyway? Okay, let’s see what’s next…

Add 200g of molten chocolate and 200g flour. Mix thoroughly.

Molten chocolate. Molten chocolate. I just put the bars on the radiator. Piece of cake, ha, ha. (Twenty minutes later.) Mmm, strange, not molten yet, I guess I just put it in like that. Ugh, why’s that silvery paper clinging to the chocolate? How do I get it off? (Cursing. A lot of it.) Well, the muffins do look better with a few silver streaks in them anyway, it’s pretty, almost like my rings… Damn, now there’s chocolate all over my rings! (Frantic washing.) Flour. Adding it now, and mixing. There, totally easy. Looks good. Thoroughly mixed, yep.

Put batter in muffin pan, bake in the oven for fifteen minutes at 160 degree.

Batter in pan, check. 160 degree, check. In they go. Let’s see, now it’s quarter past ten, so taking them out at half past. Time to decide what I could wear for shopping today. (Off into the bedroom.)

An hour later: Okay, it’s going to be the yellow skinny jeans with the blue tank top though I guess I have to put in some blue strands in my hair, do I still have blue dye and what’s that strange smell, almost like something’s burning. It’s coming from the kitchen… The kitchen! (Frantic running toward the kitchen, black smoke wafting through the house.)

Damn, forgot all about those. They’re pretty solid now and charred. Let’s see if I can’t scrape the worst off – there, doesn’t look so bad anymore. Where’s the rack, they need to cool off otherwise people will burn their tongues eating them…

This is just a tiny example of what a Banshee is capable of in the kitchen. So don’t go there. Ever.

Finding love is hard—especially when you’re a demon and your potential mate is your sacrifice…
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Sammy is content with running his bookshop and leading a book club consisting solely of paranormal creatures. Despite the persistence of his friends, he has resolved himself to a life without romance, since he doesn’t think anybody could find him and his tendency to spill useless knowledge whenever he gets nervous attractive.

Dresalantion is a demon prince and slightly—make that majorly—annoyed when somebody persistently tries to summon him. He finally decides to show up and put the fear of Dresalantion into his summoners but finds himself rescuing their sacrifice instead.

Sammy intrigues him from the get-go, and when Dre realizes that Sammy can get him the manga he’s been hunting for months—not to mention that he refuses a wish he offered him—the sexy demon decides to get to know this fascinating man better. Much better.

About the Author:Xenia Melzer was born and raised in a small village in the South of Bavaria. As one of nature’s true chocoholics, she’s always in search of the perfect chocolate experience. So far, she’s had about a dozen truly remarkable ones. Despite having been in close proximity to the mountains all her life, she has never understood why so many people think snow sports are fun. There are neither chocolate nor horses involved and it’s cold by definition, so where’s the sense? She does not like beer either and has never been to the Oktoberfest – no quality chocolate there.

Even though her mind is preoccupied with various stories most of the time, Xenia has managed to get through school and university with surprisingly good grades. Right after school she met her one true love who showed her that reality is capable of producing some truly amazing love stories itself.

While she was having her two children, she started writing down the most persistent stories in her head as a way of relieving mommy-related stress symptoms. As it turned out, the stress-relief has now become a source of the same, albeit a positive one.

When she’s not writing, she translates the stories of other authors into German, enjoys riding and running, spending time with her kids, and dancing with her husband.


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Fascinating Facts About LOVE AND LINGUISTICS by Tara Lain – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Tara Lain who is visiting with us to celebrate today’s release of Love and Linguistics. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Fascinating Facts About LOVE AND LINGUISTICS

Hi! I’m so excited to get to introduce you to my new romance, LOVE AND LINGUISTICS. This book was a fascinating challenge. Here are some facts about the book –

• Yes, it is my contemporary, MM homage to My Fair Lady

• It took me two years of periodic rewriting to finish this book – unusual for a person who writes most novels in 2 or 3 months

• The reason it was such a challenge is because I embarked on the project thinking of My Fair Lady as a romantic comedy, but when you reframe it in a modern and more realistic setting, the life of Eliza (in my book El) isn’t all that charming

• My agent’s husband is from the Bronx and helped with the dialect

• I really had a great time imagining what some of the events of My Fair Lady might look like in today’s NYC – the royal ball becoming the Met Gala, for example.

• Actually, of course, My Fair Lady isn’t a romance, although we walk away hoping that Eliza and Henry get together. LOVE AND LINGUISTICS is very much a romance, so that changes the tone as well as the action of the book.

• Early reviewers have said they love the secondary characters in this book a lot – my versions of Henry’s mom, of Colonel Pickering, of the prince and Henry’s competitor in linguistics.

I hope you enjoy LOVE AND LINGUISTICS. It was a labor of love for me and I’m so excited for it to finally be in your hands!

In his neighborhood, El Martin stands out, and that can be life threatening. Against the odds, he’s managed to graduate high school and then master IT. Now he’s desperate to get a good job to free his drunken dad and himself from the control of gang leader M2 and the drugs he sells. But with his piercings and his slang-ridden speech, El looks and sounds like a Bronx gangbanger, and potential employers won’t give him a second look. So when El hears about Henry Fairhaven, PhD, linguistics researcher and wealthy New York socialite, El takes his life in his hands to escape from M2 and ends up sleeping in the stairwell at Henry’s building, hoping to learn how to speak.

To Henry, who wants to prove himself as a scholar and not merely a rich dilettante, El isn’t only the most beautiful man he’s ever seen—he’s also the key to getting a paper published on Henry’s ground-breaking linguistics methods before a competitor beats him to the punch. But Henry doesn’t tell El the truth, and El thinks Henry’s helping him because he cares.

El’s dreams collide with Henry’s ambitions at the elegant Met Gala, where El captivates a prince of Silicon Valley. But the real collision comes when M2 tracks El down and Henry has to choose between the validation he craves and a future with the man he’s come to love.

Enjoy an Excerpt of Chapter One

About the Author: Tara Lain believes in happy ever afters – and magic. Same thing. In fact, she says, she doesn’t believe, she knows. Tara shares this passion in her best-selling stories that star her unique, charismatic heroes — the beautiful boys of romance — and adventurous heroines. Quarterbacks and cops, werewolves and witches, blue collar or billionaires, Tara’s characters, readers say, love deeply, resolve seemingly insurmountable differences, and ultimately live their lives authentically. After many years living in southern California, Tara, her soulmate honey and her soulmate dog decided they wanted less cars and more trees, prompting a move to Ashland, Oregon where Tara’s creating new stories and loving living in a small town with big culture. Likely a Gryffindor but possessed of Parseltongue, Tara loves animals of all kinds, diversity, open minds, coconut crunch ice cream from Zoeys, and her readers. She also loves to hear from you.

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Five Things That Surprise Me About Publishing by Ashlyn Kane – Guest Blog

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Ashlyn Kane who is celebrating the recent release of Fake Dating the Prince.

Five Things That Surprise Me About Publishing
Dear Long and Short Readers (erm… that sounds slightly more suggestive than I intended. Probably an occupational hazard. Moving on!),

My name is Ashlyn Kane. I’m thirtysomething, a Leo; I like long walks with my dog, beach optional. And I am a romance writer. (Probably not a shock to anyone reading this blog.)

I’ve been at this whole professional writing thing on and off for more than a decade now—True North, my first book, came out in January of 2009. When it comes to writing in general, I’ve been at it the better part of three decades. I attended my first writer’s workshop when I was six, though I can’t say any of the advice stuck with me. I was terrified I was going to get on the wrong bus home.

That was all a long time ago, of course, and it’s not really what I’m here for. I’m here for this:

When fast-living flight attendant Brayden Wood agrees to accompany a first-class passenger to a swanky charity ball, he discovers his date—“Call me Flip”—is actually His Royal Highness Prince Antoine-Philipe. And he wants Brayden to pretend to be his boyfriend.

Being Europe’s only prince of Indian descent—and its only openly gay one—has led Flip to select “appropriate” men first and worry about attraction later. Still, flirty, irreverent Brayden captivates him right away, and Flip needs a date to survive the ball without being match-made.

Before Flip can pursue Brayden in earnest, the paparazzi forces his hand, and the charade is extended for the remainder of Brayden’s vacation.

Posh, gorgeous, thoughtful Prince Flip is way out of Brayden’s league. If Brayden survives three weeks of platonically sharing a bed with him during the romantic holiday season, going home afterward might break his heart….

Fake Dating the Prince is something like my thirteenth published work of fiction, depending how you count. I also had a poem published in my high school yearbook! On top of this, I work as an editor. The point is, I don’t have any business being surprised by much about publishing these days. And yet I do find myself surprised, again and again. So without further ado, here’s a list of things that have, and still do, surprised me about being a published author.
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1. How many typos a trained copy editor (i.e. me) can make and then subsequently not see until a proofreader points out something that should’ve been obvious. Also, how much this makes me bang my head on the table. I am not a good self-editor. *wince* I know that’s what proofreaders are for, and I am grateful for them, because it’s an entirely different skill from editing. But sometimes one just needs to whine at one’s own perceived lack of competence.

2. How much work publishing is. Mind you, writing is a kind of work that I enjoy, and I mostly don’t find the process of actually writing a book to be arduous. Usually I can barely tear myself away from it once I get started. But editing, and proofreading, and choosing cover art, and promoting the book, and not disappearing on social media, and promoting fellow authors, and interacting with readers—all of this does take up time and energy. I love being a writer, and I’ve done it for years, and yet I somehow always manage to block out how energy-intensive putting out a book can be after the writing’s done. And that’s not just for me, that’s for an art department and an editorial department and a marketing department and several admins and, and, and. I feel like there’s a lot of invisible labor that goes into the end product.

3. That seeing one’s book is part of a library’s physical collection is worth a hundred preorders. I’ve been really fortunate with Fake Dating the Prince in that it seems to have gotten someone’s attention, and all that has led to the book being picked up by various libraries. A reader tweeted me a picture of my book with a library catalog sticker on the spine and I about lost my mind, I thought it was so cool. That my actual physical book is in a library where anyone can read it for free is just mind-blowing to me. Do you remember those Old Spice commercials with Isaiah Mustafa? Mine would end with “I’m in a library.” Total heart eyes.

4. How exciting good publicity can be. Sure, negative reviews can bring an author down, and good ones can make our day. But I didn’t know how good a review could make me feel until Amelia Vaughn, Dreamspinner’s Marketing director, emailed: can you call me? I was sitting there going, what in the world could this be about? But I did, and then she told me Fake Dating the Prince got a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly. She read it out loud to me while I about lost my shit, making all kinds of squealy noises. I was useless for two days, I was so happy. I think I spent so long living in the times of the late aughts and early teens that I forgot that times are changing. Gay romance might have started as a niche genre, but it is making its way to the mainstream, and that means mainstream outlets are actually paying attention to us. Which is awesome and also, now that I think about it, utterly terrifying. Anyway, my point is: there’s always some new threshold of good feelings and pride in oneself and one’s work to discover. Presumably there’s also a corresponding new low, but let’s not think of that just now!

5. The book hangover. I know people are out there writing 6 books at a time flawlessly without ever mixing up a character’s eye color, or doggedly writing a brilliant book a month, or whatever. I haven’t found that magical ability yet. It’s always a few months after finishing that I catch the seeds of an idea that will actually make it all the way to the end. In the meantime I’ll start and abandon at least three books because they’re not quite right. Sometimes those books will end up finished as a different iteration of the same thing, but mostly not. There’s a WIP graveyard on my hard drive. I used to feel guilty about it, but now I have mostly accepted it, even if it still surprises me every time when it’s four months after I last finished something and I go, “Ugh, why can’t I write?” It’ll happen eventually. It’s part of the process. But it still surprises me it takes so long, every time.

Fake Dating the Prince released June 18. It is available at Amazon, Dreamspinner, Barnes & Noble, Indigo Books, Target, and (this just tickles me, so I have to mention it) at the Dayton Public Library—so you’ll want to check your local library too!

About the Author: ASHLYN KANE is a Canadian former expat and current hockey fan. She is a writer, editor, handyperson, dog mom, and friend—sometimes all at once.

On any given day she can usually be found walking her ninety-pound baby chocolate lapdog, Indy, or holed up in her office avoiding housework. She has a deep and abiding love of romance novel tropes, a habit of dropping too many f-bombs, and—fortunately—a very forgiving family.

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Andrew Grey’s Top 5 Shows in Reruns – Guest Blog

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Andrew Grey who is celebrating the recent release of On Shaky Ground.

Andrew Grey’s Top 5 Shows in reruns. These are the ones I watch that drive Dominic crazy. “You already saw that five times” kind of TV series.

1) Big Bang Theory. Though sometimes I want to whack Sheldon with a 2 by 4.

2) The Nanny. It’s just too funny. On, Mr. Sheffield.

3) Downton Abbey. – I’m so ready for the movie. I’ve watched the entire show from beginning to end, twice.

4) Flea Market Flip – I have no idea why, I even know who wins, but I watch anyway.

5) I Love Lucy – This is such a classic and still funny.

Martin Graham built his business from the ground up with hard work and intuition. Due to a degenerative eye disease, he’s learned to rely on his other senses to feel out the competition. To realize his dream, he just needs to broker one last deal… and finally secure an assistant.

Brock Littleton is desperate for money—desperate enough take the job no one else wants: assistant to demanding, fussy, intensely private Mr. Graham.

Everything about Brock gets under Martin’s skin in ways he never expected, making him realize a successful business isn’t the only component to a happy future. But as Martin’s deal comes together, one of the prices could be the relationship with Brock that Martin is just starting to believe could be real.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“Kelly quit last night,” Edna explained, exasperation coloring her voice. “That’s the third assistant in four months. These kids don’t have what it takes to stick it out for anything.” She paused in her typing. “I thought I’d come in early to make sure everything was up to date before I went back down to HR.”

The chair squeaked as Edna leaned back. Martin knew that squeak; he heard it every time his assistant moved in that chair. They complained about it, but that sound was one of the constants in his life, an audible clue that told him something about the mostly shadowed world around him.

“Can you find me another assistant?” he asked, suppressing a sigh. “Maybe one who doesn’t spend her days humming some ridiculous tune or tapping a damn pen whenever she gets nervous, which seemed to be all the dang time.” He clenched the hand not holding his briefcase.
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The chair squeaked again, and he turned his head toward the sound. Her hands thunked on the desk, and Martin resisted the urge to lean in a little closer to try to see her better. He already knew it was of little use. To him, she was little more than an outline against the light from the windows and her desk lamp, a moving specter from one of the old black-and-white films he used to watch as a kid.

“Can I be frank, Martin?”

“You can be anyone you want to be,” he quipped in his best Groucho Marx imitation. It garnered stone-cold silence for a few beats.

“Martin, I don’t honestly know if I can find another, but I’ll try. The entire office has heard how hard it is to work for you. I could double the salary of the position and no one would apply, and you know it.”

“They hate me that much?” Martin asked, his anger rising.

She sighed extra loudly, clearly wanting him to hear it. “No, they don’t. This is a good company. The people who work here respect you. They’ve seen what you’ve built. You’ve created an incredibly open and nurturing environment for everyone. Opinions are respected and listened to, you value and reward diligence, and we have flexible schedules as much as possible. And our turnover is incredibly low, except for one particular position—the one who sits at this desk.”

Martin humphed, walking past the desk to go into his office.

“Stop,” Edna said after he opened the door. “I haven’t gone in there yet.” The chair squawked loudly as she got up, and her hand patted his arm as she went by.

“What is it?” Martin asked, as though he couldn’t guess.

“She rearranged your things,” Edna said. “Give me a few minutes.”

About the Author: Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing) He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

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Tia’s Top Five Songs at the Moment by Tia Fielding – Guest Blog

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Tia Fielding who is visiting with us to celebrate the recent release of Ten, a Love by Numbers story.

Tia’s Top Five Songs at the Moment

Okay, so this might be a bit boring to some, but I listen to music and find songs that remind me of the story I’m writing or a character in the story or just a mood in a scene. That’s why I’m showing you my current Love by Numbers-series related songs!

And fair warning, there’s a lot of music in Ten. There won’t be as much in the other parts, I don’t think, because none of the people are musicians. This list will have “Ten songs” as well as songs I associate with Four (the next part of the series that’s going to be out some time the coming summer) and #3 that I’m currently writing.

So buckle up, my dears, here’s some songs for you to listen to!

1. Northern Wind by City and Colour – This one of the two songs that I associate the most in Makai and Emil. It’s absolutely beautiful, and it ends up wrapping up the book in a lovely, touching scene.

2. Do I Wanna Know? by Arctic Monkeys – This is the other Emil and Makai song. It relates to the story a lot too. You’ll see….

3. Redbone by Childish Gambino – I literally just wrote a scene in book #3 where this song plays in a bar just as the main characters of that book meet for the first time. Which characters are they? Well, I guess you’ll have to wait and see, eh?

4. FMLYHM by Seether – Just so you know, the song title means “F*ck Me Like You Hate Me” and it’s mentioned in book #2. It becomes evident why in book #3.

5. Higher Ground by Rasmussen – This song is something pretty much all the characters in the series would love. Especially Doc Donovan from Ten. The song was Denmark’s entry for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2018. If you look it up, I recommend the performance video for it. Trust me, you’ll love it. *wink*

So there you have it, my Top Five songs that I relate to the Love by Numbers series. I hope you enjoy Ten, and have a lovely winter and spring, wherever you are!

Can two broken men build one life?
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Ten years.

That’s what Makai lost for a crime he didn’t commit. He’s been exonerated, but the abuse he suffered in prison isn’t so easy to leave behind. He heads to the one place he remembers being happy: Acker, Wisconsin, where he spent summers with his grandpa. Unfortunately, not everyone wants Makai there.

Ten days.

That’s how long Emil, now twenty-one, was held prisoner as a teenager. The mental and physical injuries he suffered at the hands of a drug trafficking ring still haunt him.

Nightmares, anxiety, and PTSD challenge the connection forming between Makai and Emil, though together, they might find a way to move beyond their pain and into a future—and a relationship—that both had thought impossible.
Now they just have to convince Emil’s father, the town sheriff. It won’t be easy with danger closer than they know….

About the Author: Tia Fielding is a Finnish LGBTQ+ romance author. She lives in a small middle-of-nowhere town surrounded by nature and silence, just like she prefers. Tia identifies as genderqueer, but isn’t fussy about pronouns, because her native language doesn’t have gender-specific ones. She’s a lover of caffeine, sarcasm, peppermint, cats and dogs, sleeping and witty people.

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Focus and Flow by Z.A. Maxfield – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Z.A. Maxfield who is visiting with us to celebrate today’s release of her newest book Plummet To Soar. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Focus and Flow

Hi! My name is Z.A. Maxfield, and lately I’ve been working on changing some ideas I’ve had all my life about discipline and motivation. It turns out—I’ve got discipline by the crateload. If discipline is what it takes to begin and complete any long term project, I’ve got that. I’ve written a whole bunch of novels. Lost and kept off weight. Stopped smoking, stopped drinking. I am extraordinarily disciplined, when I need to be.

Recently one of my children decided to quit his job in order to study for an exam, and he was worried I’d be mad because I have to trust he’ll actually study. And it’s almost May, the beginning of summer. A lot could happen to distract him. The test is in late fall. But I know if he wants to pass it, there’s nothing I could throw in his way to keep him from it.

I have to trust his desire to pass, not his discipline. And it’s an excellent reminder I have to trust my own…

So my son Maxfield (Yeah, he’s the kid whose name I borrowed) and I are working on Focus and Flow. Focus is the spotlight of where I put my attention—it’s simply the ability to pay particular attention to some thing or idea. Flow is the steady continuous stream of something. And when I achieve a state of steady, continuous, purposeful focus that’s called Flow too, and it feels so awesome, I don’t need discipline at all. It’s a cycle of challenge and achievement that brings joy.

Creatives refer to the muse. Athlete’s talk about the zone. Writers sometimes talk about “unconscious” writing, where they might unintentionally link a concept or theme from one section of the book to another. Lately I’ve been looking for ways to get into focus, stay focused longer, and keep myself from negative distractions.

Most of us have oodles of discipline. What we lack is focus.

Here are five of my favorite Ted Talks on the subjects of focus, discipline, and motivation, in no particular order. I’ve watched these more than once, and I’ve discovered new things each time.

1. The art of Focus – A crucial Ability by Christina Bengtsson
2. Attention, distraction and the war in our brain by Jean-Philippe Lachaux
3. How the power of attention changes everything by Jeff Klein
4. How to fix the exhausted brain by Brady Wilson
5. How to stop screwing yourself over by Mel Robbins

Thanks so much for letting me spend time here, today! I hope that one of the Ted Talks that excited and motivated me does the same for you!



Feckless, luckless, and charming, Mackenzie Detweiler is the author of a self-help book one reviewer calls “the most misbegotten motivational tool since Mein Kampf.” He’s maneuvered himself into a career as a life coach, but more often than not, his advice is bad. Really bad.

It’s even getting people hurt… and Mackenzie sued.

It falls to Mackenzie’s long-suffering editor, JD Chambers, to deliver the bad news. He chooses to do so face-to-face—to see if the spark he senses between them is real when they’re together in the flesh. Unfortunately, a snowstorm, a case of nerves, a case of mistaken identity, and finally a murder get in the way of a potential enemies-to-lovers romance.

There are many, many people who have good reason to want Mackenzie dead. JD must find out which one is acting on it before it’s too late for both of them.

Enjoy an Excerpt

ONCE MAC was alone, he opened his pop and poured himself an ice-cold plastic cupful. How he wished he’d purchased extra bottles of booze on the airplane. He knew it was going to be a long, long night. No matter how much he drank, sleep might not come.

It took ten minutes to unpack and slide his few boxes of books, swag, and audiobook CDs of Plummet to Soar out of the way. He hung his clothes and placed his socks and underwear in drawers. Then he unfolded and assembled his cardboard cutout—the one he used at book signings, where he looked like the love child of Tony Robbins and Captain Ron. NYT Bestselling author, Mackenzie Detweiler. Plummet to Soar.

After that, there was nothing to do but take a shower and hit the sack. Before he did, he unlocked and opened the connecting door. Just in case.

Why did he do it?

Because it was an old-school hotel, and because the connecting door was there, and because he wanted to leave just that much, that tiny bit of an opening into his world for Doug, if he should want it.

Completely passive. Completely legit, because unless Doug tried the door, he’d never know it was open on Mac’s side. That was the perfect metaphor for every awesome sexual encounter he’d ever had. Nobody planned those things. Someone just… opened a door.

Anyway, it wasn’t about sex. Douglas had more going on in his aristocratic head than sex. Not much more, maybe, but those cloud-gray eyes hid pain and disappointment and fragile, fragile hope that somehow, Mac had crushed before he even spoke a word. He felt the change in Doug’s handshake. That’s when he made up his mind that Doug had to be a shill.

But now? Maybe Doug was simply looking for more than a life coach could give? Maybe he was hoping for something rubber-stamped like twentieth-century philosophers or something occult or religion. He hated to tell the dude there were no certificates of authenticity. The plummet thing was going to be hard on him. Douglas would want someone to talk to, maybe someone to cling to.

Which, up until the clinging part, would be a piece of cake. Mac’s body resonated every time they barely brushed fingertips. So, until the plummet was over? Mac could be a shoulder, a sounding board, but not a body. Check.

Wasn’t going to be easy. Nothing is ever easy.

About the Author:Z. A. Maxfield started writing in 2007 on a dare from her children and never looked back. Pathologically disorganized, and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends. Three things reverberate throughout all her stories: Unconditional love, redemption, and the belief that miracles happen when we least expect them.

If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four can find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you give up housework.”

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KA Mitchell’s Top Five Food Twists – Guest Blog

KA Mitchell’s Top Five Food Twists

In Bad Boyfriend, on the morning after their intensely hot hook-up, Quinn wakes up to find Eli rummaging through his kitchen cabinets. Eli explains that he’s looking for tarragon, for the eggs he’s making for breakfast. Through the rest of the series, Eli enjoys feeding his friends, something he never got to do before living with Quinn.

One of the things I love about cooking is that adding something to a basic dish can really make it special. And no, that special ingredient isn’t always love. I got to thinking about some of those regular-turned- special dishes and I invite you to stumble down memory lane with me as I reminisce on five favorite special ingredient twists.

1. Tuna Twist!

The jingle went “I’m Sir Celery, I’m Miss Parsley and we are the Onion Twins! New Tuna Twist makes tuna taste fresh as a garden.” This was a mix in package for ye old tuna-mayo (in my case, Miracle Whip) combo. Back when I was a teenage pescatarian, I loved mixing up some Tuna Twist. Unfortunately, the product was short-lived on the shelf. I tried replicating it on my own with minimal success considering I was working with breadcrumbs, celery salt and dried minced onions.

2. Maile’s Magic Dressing

Moving on to my college days and living off campus, we were all dirt poor in my apartment, but my housemate Maile had this way of turning spices and condiments into this super tasty dressing that made everything taste amazing. I wish I had that recipe. Maile, if you’re out there, send it on.

3. Next Level Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

This one is something I’m sure everyone’s familiar with. I swear my first girlfriend and I lived on this for those two years (until she cheated and broke my heart, of course). You fry onions in butter and then layer them into your ordinary plastic American cheese grilled cheese sandwich. Tossing those onions in with the canned soup is also yummy. But even if you don’t like onions, here’s something my Great Gran taught me about canned tomato soup: make it with half water and half milk and just before you serve it, throw in a little pat of butter. It melts and makes the soup taste rich.

4. Beanie-Jos

If I want to make my wife the happiest woman in the world, I just tell her I’m making Beanie-Jos for supper. It’s my own recipe, basically a vegetarian take on sloppy joes: kidney beans with spices, ketchup and molasses and wheat germ. Sounds kind of gross when I write it out like that, but I swear it’s really good. The secret ingredient this time is liquid smoke. A few drops give the dish a yummy barbeque taste.

5. Triple-O Brownies

Body Problems: High degree of stress weakens the immune system making the cheap no prescription cialis person succumb to various infections and diseases. Janumet 50 500 mg tablets are one sided film-coated with 78 debossed, bi-convex oval and light blue learn this here now order generic cialis in color. The ability to enjoy a healthy and satisfactory intimate relationship can be a big problem for some women. levitra online purchase Here people usually give up and finally realize that there is no treatment to it where in some try really hard cialis without prescriptions to overcome the issue but fail to get over it. Finally, I have a link to an actual recipe for you, but when you check it out, you’ll see that they’re actually called Cappuccino Brownies. I made them for my writer friends one time, and that’s what they started calling them. The first time I made them, I wasn’t positive about the outcome. I’m more of a tea than coffee person and while I like cappuccino, I wasn’t sure how cinnamon in the frosting would turn out. But coffee—or instant espresso if you can find it—is exactly what these brownies need to be worthy of the name. The original recipe calls for walnuts too, but walnuts are an abomination that should never despoil food. If you want the walnuts, do walnuts, but don’t @ me about your dessert perversions. *dramatic shudder*

Now, I’ve got to finish up book 6. Eli’s still feeding people. No Eli, I’m pretty sure what you’re thinking of is not the special ingredient either no matter what the brownies are called.

Causing trouble has never been more fun.
Eli Wright doesn’t follow anyone’s rules. When he was seventeen, his parents threw him out of the house for being gay. He’s been making his own way for the past five years and he’s not about to change himself for anyone’s expectations. For now, romance can wait. There are plenty of hot guys to keep him entertained until he finds someone special.

Quinn Maloney kept the peace and his closeted boyfriend’s secrets for ten years. One morning he got a hell of a wake-up along with his coffee. Not only did the boyfriend cheat on him, but he’s marrying the girl he knocked up. Inviting Quinn to the baby’s baptism is the last straw. Quinn’s had enough of gritting his teeth to play nice. His former boyfriend is in for a rude awakening, because Quinn’s not going to sit quietly on the sidelines. In fact, he has the perfect scheme, and he just needs to convince the much younger, eyeliner-wearing guy who winks at him in a bar to help him out.

Eli’s deception is a little too good, and soon he has everyone believing they’re madly in love. In fact, he’s almost got Quinn believing it himself….

About the Author: K.A. Mitchell discovered the magic of writing at an early age when she learned that a carefully crayoned note of apology sent to the kitchen in a toy truck would earn her a reprieve from banishment to her room. Her career as a spin-control artist was cut short when her family moved to a two-story house and her trucks would not roll safely down the stairs. Around the same time, she decided that Ken and G.I. Joe made a much cuter couple than Ken and Barbie and was perplexed when invitations to play Barbie dropped off. She never stopped making stuff up, though, and was thrilled to find out that people would pay her to do it. Although the men in her stories usually carry more emotional baggage than even LAX can lose in a year, she guarantees they always find their sexy way to a happy ending.

K.A. loves to hear from her readers. You can email her at She is often found talking about her imaginary friends on Twitter.

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