Raw Deal by Cherrie Lynn – Spotlight

Savannah’s brother was killed in a cage fight with Mike “Red Reaper” Larson after a savage punch to the head.

When Mike shows up at the funeral, he’s nothing like Savannah expected. Gone is the fierce, brutal beast she’s seen in the cage. In his place is a beautiful man torn with guilt, seeking forgiveness, and willing to do anything to ease her pain.

Her family doesn’t approve, but her heart doesn’t stand a chance. Irresistibly drawn together, neither of them can deny the intoxicating desire unleashed between them, turning their pain into the most exquisite pleasure.
But every time Mike steps into the cage, Savannah knows she could lose him too. She can’t go through that again, but how can she let go of the one man who sets her body and soul on fire?

Enjoy an excerpt:

She lifted her head to look up at him, horrified by his story. “The first day we met, Michael, you told me you were a horrible person. I’m confused. The person you’re describing is not that, not at all. The person who arranged this trip so Rowan and I can feel better is not that.”

Even in the darkness, she could see the cold void in his eyes, as if he were looking at something terrible that only he could see. “Bad shit follows me, Savannah. It just does. I don’t know if I’m working off some kind of karma or what. It never ends.”

“That can’t be true,” she protested. “I accept that Tommy was an accident. My family probably never will, but that’s how they are. It’s no reflection on you because the way they feel is based on a lie.”

“Tommy isn’t the only one.”

Those words affected her like ghostly fingertips up her spine. “Who?” she asked softly.

“When I was a kid, my mother had a new man every month, and none of them except for one or two were worth a shit. The ones who were decent didn’t last long, because they couldn’t deal with her issues. But it seemed the worse they were, the longer they were around. Some of them were straight-up predators. I was a kid and I saw these things; she was an adult and she didn’t, or else she didn’t care.”

Savannah didn’t need to hear any more. She didn’t think she could. “Anything you did in defense of your family was completely understandable.”

“Is it?” he asked, searching her eyes. “Why does it still follow me?”

“Maybe because you let it?”

“Believe me, if I could shake it, I would.”

“I know. Easier said than done. Probably the worst thing I’ve ever done is shoplift a box of condoms; I’m not one to give advice.”

He blinked at her and then, amazingly, burst out laughing. The shock of it stunned her, but after a moment of embarrassed silence—had she really just told him that?—she couldn’t help but join in. My, but he was gorgeous when he laughed. “Well! I didn’t want the lady at the checkout counter to know I was going to have sex. Turns out I didn’t anyway. What a jackass that guy turned out to be.” Actually, the damn things expired before she could ever use even one of them, but he didn’t have to know that. “To think I risked a misdemeanor over him.”

“I needed that,” Mike said once he’d caught his breath. “But don’t hold it against me that I’m glad you sent the jackass packing.”

“Oh, I’m glad too. I should have made him get the damn condoms.”

Easily, naturally, Mike’s hands found hers again, both of them. This time his fingers laced through hers, sending a nice shivery sensation through her. The slightly uncomfortable girth of his fingers between hers had her thoughts running wild with imagining the girth of other areas of his body. “You’re something else,” he said.

“But you don’t know what, right?” she teased.

“No,” he admitted, shaking his head a little dazedly. “I don’t know what. Yet.”

“Same here.” Oh God, was he leaning closer? She felt dizzy looking up at him with the stars all around his head, like they revolved around him. A small wave washed up around her feet, cool and fleeting. Simple as that wave that touched her, his lips touched hers, then drew back. Simple, but enormous. Savannah shivered, drinking in his breath, off balance and whirling though she stood perfectly still, held to earth by nothing but his hands holding hers.

More. Please. She tried to tell him without saying a word, looking into his eyes, seeing the raw need there. And he came back to her, his mouth opening against hers now to invite a deeper contact. The wind whipped wildly around them and she let him in, let his tongue tease inside her mouth and coax hers out to play. His thumbs drew lazy circles on her palms, drawing desire from a wellspring inside her that had been dry for so long now—

“Mike!” a shout came, borne on the wind. It jolted them apart, Savannah blushing and trying to tame her hair into something that looked like it was attached to her head, Mike straightening his shirt.

About the Author: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author CHERRIE LYNN has been a CPS caseworker and a juvenile probation officer, but now she writes contemporary and paranormal romance on the steamy side. She’s also an unabashed rock music enthusiast, and she is fond of hitting the road with her husband to catch their favorite bands live. Cherrie lives in East Texas.

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


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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.

Collaborative Writing Challenge | Facebook | Team Covenant | Goodreads

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Home Run by Heidi McLaughlin – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher to celebrate the release of Home Run, the second book in Heidi McLaughlin’s The Boys of Summer series. Enter to win a galley of Home Base, the first book in the series.

Heidi joins us today with some ideas on how to beat the winter blues:

Top Five Ways to beat the winter blues
Move to a tropical island?
Get outside when the sun is shining
Cover yourself in coconut smelling lotion
Take a trip south
Calendar count down until spring

LOVE ISN’T A GAME . . .

I’ve given up everything for the chance to play major league baseball. Everything. Now I’m so close I can practically hear the crowd chanting my name. There’s nothing that could take my dream away from me . . .

Unless I lose focus. And Ainsley Burke is the most beautiful, distracting woman I’ve ever met. When I’m with her, I can’t think of anything else.

But no matter how much I want Ainsley, there’s no room for love in my game plan. I can give her a quick tour of the bases, but that’s it. Then I have to let her go. If she wants to think I’m a love ’em and leave ’em player, fine.

All dreams require sacrifice. I just wish this one didn’t mean tearing out my own heart.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

“Can I call you, sometime?”

Ainsley looks down at the ground and crosses her arms over her chest. “Listen, I’m sure you’re a nice guy and all, but I don’t date baseball players. You guys all come in here, acting sweet and caring about the kids, but will be gone in two months. We’re forgotten all about until next spring training.”

From her spiel, I can tell someone has hurt her in the past, but I’m not willing to give up. There’s no way I can now. “Whoa, why the one-eighty?”

“Excuse me?”

“I mean, a second ago I sort of thought… never mind.” I shake my head and start to walk away, only to turn back. “I don’t know about the other guys. I only know me, and I’m not like that. I’d like to prove myself. Just one date to show you that I’m genuine?”

She shakes her head no again, but there’s a glint in her eye that tells me she’s thinking about it. “I’m sorry I can’t.”

Ainsley is walking away before I can even think to form a rebuttal. Our left fielder is there to pick up the pieces and remind me that I just had the first strike out of my major league career. Wonderful.

I drag my sorry ass out toward the waiting bus with my head hanging in shame. I thought for sure I’d at least get her number and be able to convince her that I’m not an epic douche like some of the other guys.

Just as my foot touches the bottom step, my name is called from behind. In a heart-stopping moment, I think it’s Ainsley, only to find another female worker running toward me. I step away and wait for her to get to me.

“Here,” she says, slipping a piece of paper into my hand. When I look at what’s written on it, I’m surprised to see Ainsley’s name and what I’m assuming is her number. “She’ll kill me if she knew I did this, but it’s her cell. Sweep her off her feet. She deserves it.” The woman winks before running back toward the zoo.

Our catcher slaps me on my shoulder. “Well, you lucky dog.”

About the Author: Heidi McLaughlin is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in picturesque Vermont with her husband and two daughters. Also renting space in their home is an over-hyper beagle/Jack Russell, Buttercup, and a Highland West/mini schnauzer, Jill.

When she isn’t writing stories, you’ll find her sitting court-side during either daughter’s basketball games.

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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.

Website | Spiritual Blog | Inspirational Blog | Twitter | Facebook | The Nu Christ Facebook page | Goodreads | Pinterest |
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Talking Dirty by Jennifer Seasons – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour hosted by Avon Books to celebrate the recent release of Jennifer Seasons’ newest book Dirty Talking, the second book in her Fortune Colorado series. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win the first book in the series Getting Lucky.

Jake Stone has always been an outsider, even in his hometown. As the misfit son of the town drunk and a descendant of Fortune’s mysterious founders, he’s spent his whole life not living up to expectations. So when Apple Woodman comes poking her pert little nose around his business, trying to sniff out juicy bits for a book she’s writing on the town’s history, he decides he’s had enough. He’ll give her the answers, at a price: one piece of clothing for every question. If the town’s good girl librarian wants the dirt on this bad boy then she’s going to have to bare all to get it.

Nothing is going to stop Apple from achieving her dream of being a published author, not even surly Jake Stone. She’s got a hefty advance to make good on and a looming deadline, and the last bit of crucial information she needs is being held hostage by the infuriating man. But Apple believes in equality between the sexes and she’s not going to be the only one playing along—he’s going to have to take it all off too. They’re only clothes; it’s not like they’re baring their hearts. Right?

Enjoy an excerpt:

“You know what your problem is?”

Apple Woodman smiled victoriously; glad she’d finally gotten close enough to Jake Stone for him to hear her from across the short stretch of sidewalk separating them in downtown Fortune, Colorado. Shuffling the bag of produce she’d just purchased from the local Co-op, she settled the fabric straps on her shoulder and frowned at his broad, muscular back. Not that she was noticing that it was muscular or anything. “You’re not a nice person.”

There, she’d finally said it. That had been floating around inside her for weeks.

Wow, she felt so much better.

“That hurts my feelings.” The man turned around and had the gall to say with a blatantly fake hurt-puppy expression on his handsome face.

“You know, if it weren’t against everything I’ve been taught about how a person treated others, I’d kick you in the shins so hard right now.” Annoyance flooded Apple. Most of it was directed at the most aggravating male in the entire known universe. The man had mad skills when it came to driving women crazy.

She should know. Jake Stone had been under her skin and scrambling her brains since before the last ice age. Once, just once, she’d like to have all her mental faculties fully functioning in his presence long enough to tell him exactly what she’d thought of him since kindergarten.

Or well, mostly everything.

No way would she ever admit that another tiny little part of her was also currently annoyed at herself for considering him “handsome”. She should be so over that about him by now.

Turning her attention back to his tall, broad-shouldered form, Apple scrunched her nose against the sun and shaded her eyes with a hand just in time to see the unrighteous gleam in his eye as he taunted her. “I dare you to even try that, woman. Here, I’ll hold a shin up for you to kick.” He raised a jean-clad leg and waggled it slowly at her. She could only scowl at him because she was stuck somewhere between flabbergasted and infuriated, instead of making some fabulously pithy comeback like she’d prefer. Jake must have taken that as a sign of defeat because a low rumble of humor came from him and he smirked, dropping his leg back down. “You couldn’t hurt a hornet if it stung you on your ass, sweetheart.”

“You don’t know that.” Apple instantly defended, frowning at him. She conveniently ignored the fact that he’d called her “sweetheart” and the responding quiver that had darted through her lower abdomen.

Sigh.

Back to the point: simply because they’d known each other since forever didn’t mean he actually knew her. Not one single bit. If there’d been a time that she might have wished differently, that time was long past. Like, ancient as the Indus Valley past.

There was only one thing she wanted from him now—and it was purely business. One hundred percent. So on the up-and-up platonic end of things that it was beyond vanilla.

And the damned man wasn’t cooperating. Hadn’t even budged.

Which was ridiculous. It was vanilla, for crissake. Totally harmless. Who would be afraid of harmless?

Jake raked a hand through his hair recently cut hair and sighed, his brown eyes oddly dark and restless on her before they slid away. “You’re wrong there, Apple.” His gruff voice held an edge she didn’t understand any more than that look he’d just given her.

“Nice haircut, by the way.” She retorted because it was the only thing she could come up with. Lame, but what else could she expect? He had a way of reducing her to juvenile, brainless behavior.

“You like it?” He shot her a grin and winked, his eyes dancing with sudden humor. Angsty one minute, amused the next. She swore the man’s moods shifted faster than the Colorado weather. “Thought it was time for a change.”

Apple couldn’t help it. She snorted. Right out loud on Main Street with pedestrians strolling by. “Hah! Since when do you do change?” He might not know her as well as she once might have wished he did, but she for sure knew him. He hated change. It was like a dirty word to him. Simply look at the women he dated. They were all exactly the same—and had been since his first girlfriend, Scarlet Floozy from way back in junior high school (Not her actual name, sadly.).

That thought had her frown deepening. Why couldn’t he just do what she wanted so she could stop harassing him? Stalking wasn’t her most flattering behavior. But darn it, the blasted man had reduced her to it.

Jake braced his long, heavily muscled legs apart and crossed his arms, his biceps flexing in a rather flattering, masculine way—she supposed. She’d barely noticed. Her eyes were firmly glued to where the ponytail he’d worn for the past twenty years had been. Now his sun-bleached light brown hair was a lush, tousled mass that stopped just short of his collar. She had to admit that it was a little shocking to see him with the short hair. If she’d thought his features rugged before, the new haircut made them even more so.

His brown eyes were locked on her, his expression unreadable. “You’d be surprised by what I can do, Apple. You’ve always underestimated me.”

About the Author: JENNIFER SEASONS has been a lifelong writer and reader. She lives with her husband and four children in the mountains of rural New England. An enormous, yet lovable dog and the world’s coolest cat keeps them company. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her family outdoors exploring her beautiful new home state, learning the joys of organic gardening-and if she’s lucky, relaxing in her hammock under the trees with a really good book. You can find her online at Facebook.

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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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