Writing Effective Characters by T.M. Williams – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding $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.

Writing Effective Characters

One of the most common mistakes that even seasoned writers make is creating ineffective characters. I’m a reader before I’m a writer and I’ve spent most of my life reading and loving books. One of my biggest pet peeves is a character that doesn’t pop off a page and a character that is black and white, good or evil. No one in real life is like that. Even Adolph Hitler had a reason for doing what he did. There were people who saw good in him, why? There were people who loved him, why? He believed he was doing the right thing. Although, today, we agree that he was an evil man – that wasn’t the general consensus when he was alive. There were many who gave their lives for him.

Yet, when we write a protagonist – we tend to forget they have their own back story or a reason to being who they are. When we write our hero or heroine, they’re flawless in their decision making. They never have a truly selfish deed and everything falls into place. Do we really know anyone like this? So why do we write this way?

The dialogue of a character speaks volumes for them. Here are some great questions to ask yourself about your character:

Are they verbose?
Do they beat around the bush?
Do they use a lot of idioms?
Are they soft-spoken?
Are they always playing the peacemaker?
Is their English broken?
Are they more of a listener than a talker?

A real hero usually has a lot of help from those around them, whether it was a direct or an indirect influence. These are all things to keep in mind when writing a character. And hardly anyone ever speaks or communicates with each other perfectly.

Example of bad dialogue:

“I’m going to need a lot of help with rescuing her so I’m going to ask John and Jill to help me. Then I’ll give you a call so you can pick us up,” Monica said.
“I think that’s a good idea. I’ll go to the warehouse and wait there with your mother.”

Shoot me with boredom! This is a major revelation in a story and there’s no mystery. A better way would be:

She paced back and forth, repeatedly running her hands through her hair.
“You’re going to need help,” he stated.
Monica stopped in her tracks and pressed the heel of her hand to her forehead. Shaking her head she said, “I know, but I can’t ask them to do that.”
“They’d want to.”
She took a deep breath and pulled her cell out of her back pocket. “Okay, I’ll call John and Jill.”
He nodded and his shoulders slumped, relaxing. “We’ll wait for you at the warehouse,” He forced a smile. He stood up and wiped his hands absent-mindedly on the front of his jeans. “I’ll go pick up your mother,” he said as he walked out of the apartment, leaving her alone to make the call.

This was just a quick way to demonstrate painting a picture. Which dialogue gave you a better idea of the type of characters we’re dealing with? Which dialogue painted a better picture? Through the dialogue in the latter example we saw the main characters stress in having to ask for help. We saw that this was a big deal and was something she was hesitant to do. We also see that perhaps the male character is someone she trusts because she is quick to take his advice.

Often times, the biggest statement made is without words.

4_17 BookCover_ClustersSeven year old Olivia Baxter and her dog vanish while playing in the front yard of her family’s home. After a week of searching, Olivia’s body was suddenly found in the closet, even after the police had thoroughly investigated the home.

Ethan Franco is a troubled journalist working for the Washington Gazette. His inability to move on from the past has deflated the passion he had for his career, causing him to lose his edge. Frustrated with Ethan Franco, but not wanting to lose his once star journalist, Editor-in-Chief, Jameson Stone assigns him a story to cover as a last chance to prove he could be the reporter he once was.

Ethan Franco begins his investigation into the mysterious death of Olivia Baxter and other unexplained disappearances, believing there may be a connection in the cases. No sooner did Franco begin his investigation then he realizes he is being tailed by government agencies.

Large footprints in the woods, strange sounds, foul stenches, and a looming government presence become pieces of the puzzle in cases of the missing.

Inspired by real events, the author of the Bohemian Grove trilogy and the Apocalypse brings forth a story that has been kept a secret for over a century — a story that a large group of people are still trying to keep under wraps.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Just as Michael reached for the pot of coffee, replaying that scene in his head for the thousandth time, a noise from the back room stopped him. Claire was closest to the hallway where the sound came from and she spun around quickly, drawing her gun.

Deena shot up to her feet, her eyes bright with concern. “Who’s back there?” she whispered to the officers.

The Captain shook his head. No one was back there. Michael had checked the bedrooms just an hour before, like he had done every morning, hoping to find some missing clue as to Olivia’s sudden disappearance. Claire backed up to the north side of the hallway while Sean and Craig flanked the other side, their guns drawn as well.

The noise came again, clearer this time. “Is that a dog?” Claire whispered, her eyebrows drawn together in a deep V.

Whimpers filled the home, followed by – scratching? Claire narrowed her eyes as they made their way quickly down the hallway toward Olivia’s bedroom, with Michael leading. As they entered her room it was clear where the noise came from.

“I think that’s our dog,” Deena said, wide-eyed.

The rangers all exchanged looks. The family dog had disappeared the same morning as Olivia.

Michael approached Olivia’s closet door and motioned for Craig and Sean to flank his right. He opened the door in one quick motion just as the frightened looking dog bounced out of the closet, causing Michael to stumble back at the sight inside.

Deena’s tortured scream pierced the air as she fell to the floor, crawling over to the dead body of her little girl, curled up on the closet floor.

About the Author:4_17 AuthorPhoto_ClustersT.M. Williams began her writing career by accident when a song inspired a story. Once she discovered the writing bug she couldn’t stop. Since starting her writing career late in 2012 she has gone on to write several more novels, including two Amazon best-sellers.

She writes Experimental Fiction and Non-Fiction. She is also a freelance journalist, copywriter, and public speaker.

Twitter | Facebook | Website (Signed copy available to purchase) | Blog

Buy the book at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

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Metamorphosis by RW Reels – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $25 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.

4_16 BookCover_MetamorphosisMetamorphosis: The Trey Parker Story, the first novel in a three-part paranormal thriller series. A young male is forever changed after a near death experience. His incident invites the attention of a covert Government agency. A gritty detective remains diligent in discovering the facts of the incident and encounters opposition from the unlikeliest of places.

Enjoy an excerpt:

The Chief says, “Explain the circumstances regarding the arrest of Thomas Barstow today.”

Tightening his arms around his chest, Landis knows this is the bullshit he was warned about in the academy. This is the part of the force he did not sign up for. Serving the community is only 5% of it. The other 95% is this shit.

Landis says, “Well, sir, I was writing parking tickets on East Kansas Avenue when I got the 9-1-1 call of a possible sexual assault in the area.”

The Chief interrupts. “Did you receive a call from police dispatch … or did you overhear dispatch make an all-units call?”

Landis labors to take in a deep breath. “I should say that I overheard the all-units call.”

Special Prosecutor Lancaster is already taking notes and barely looks up. Landis stares at the prosecutor and is not sure he has ever seen someone scribble so fast. These bastards are setting him up.

“Officer Landis.”

Landis brings his eyes back to the Chief. “Yes, sir?”

“Please continue.”

Landis sighs and begins to see the victim all over again in his head as he relives the events. “Well, I overheard the call and was about two blocks away, so I went to the address dispatch mentioned. Once I got there, I realized that I was the first on the scene.”

The Chief asks a question everyone in the room knows the answer to. “When you say that you were the first on the scene, does that mean you were the first responder?”

“Yes, I was the first responder,” noticing the special prosecutor has stopped writing to look at him for the answer.

The Chief nods. “Continue.” The special prosecutor goes back to writing.

“I saw the victim was an African American female that was beaten. Her face was bloody … she was missing some front teeth and had two black eyes. Her nose was all …”

The Chief’s voice grows louder. “What did you do after seeing the victim, Landis?”

His heart beats in his throat, Landis yells, “I went after the bastard next, that’s what I did.”

The Chief relaxes his posture and lowers his voice. The look on his face reveals he just got the answer he was looking for. “We don’t go after bastards, Officer Landis … We follow evidence that leads us to perps.”

Landis remains tight-lipped and redder than a stop sign, squeezing each armrest with both hands.

The Chief asks, “What is the first responder’s primary duty?”

Landis lets out a deep breath. “To secure the scene, call for medical attention if needed, and to wait for backup.” Rage makes its way in as the young cop grits his teeth. “Do you mind telling me what the fuck this is about? I take a fucking rapist off the street and …”

Before he can finish, the Chief rises to his feet and raises his voice. “This is about protocol, kid. Something your hotheaded ass didn’t follow. Because of your dereliction to duty, a rapist may end up going free unless the DA can find a way to save this case. If you want to be a police officer on my force, then you have to count for one … You must, count for one. This was not the work of a trained police officer.”

His face as red and hot as a branding iron fresh off the coals, Landis stands. “This is about truth. Do you remember our front seat companion that gives us the right to kick a bad guy in the ass? Well, it’s justice. And that’s what the victim got today. Justice.”

The fed up Chief waves off his green officer. “Save your speeches until you run for office. This type of shoddy police work is why you will never make detective … You find value in seeking the truth versus following procedure. Go pack your desk. You’re looking at a two-week suspension, son.”

About the Author: 4_16 AuthorPhoto_MetamorphosisMy infatuation with writing was born before I ever took my first breath, somewhere on the rural plains of Eastern North Carolina, nourished by the adventures of my grandmother’s childhood. From the time I was only four or five years old, her memories gave flight to my imagination and fuel to my curiosities. Her stories widened my eyes to the fascinatingly bizarre in the everyday.

As a young girl, my grandmother would bring her puppy with her to stalk rabbits every morning. The two of them would chase an unlucky long-eared rascal until it escaped into a hollow at the base of a tree, and she would run a stick around the inside of the opening as though churning butter. The spell of the sound and vibration would lure the rabbit out of the tree and into her hands.

Good fiction, inventive and provocative fiction, reverberates in readers and spellbinds them. It can spur surprise, delight, discomfort, and revelation and defy reason. As a storyteller, I strive to help others solve their problems by sharing things that I have read about, heard about, and seen. But I also prize the look on people’s faces when they hear the brilliant punch line of a joke, or when they experience an epiphany that knocks the logical wind out of them. These are the reactions that I live to inspire in my audiences when I write paranormal thrillers.

My obsession with the extraordinary in my writing might also, ironically, stem from my 20-year career in the U.S. Army. I can allow my mind to wander in the extraterrestrial sphere while my love for my country keeps me grounded in domestic affairs. Of all of my accomplishments, serving as a paratrooper in a Special Forces Group and a Field Artillery outfit during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm claims high rank. Few situations force a person to confront his humanity as painfully as going off to war, and this experience taught me both to accept accountability for my actions and to trust others. Eventually, I became a successful Army Recruiter and Station Commander, earning the Top Recruiting Station awards in Dallas and Seattle Recruiting Battalions. North Carolina Central University granted me a Public Service Award for my work in the local community. And currently, I serve fellow veterans as an HR Specialist for the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Other passions of mine include playing chess, traveling, and indulging in my contrarian nature by instigating debate. Spending time with my wife tops the list of my life’s privileges, however. Whether I am entertaining her with my emulation of Laurence Olivier as Marcus Crassus or protecting her from an elk during one of our photography excursions in the wild, I treasure her companionship and affection.

When I was twelve years old, I announced to my Aunt Becky and Cousin Tony that I wanted to write a book. They stared at me in astonishment. The world of publishing was an enigma to simple country folks in Beaufort, North Carolina in 1982. These days I am achieving my dream with the ebook, a medium through which I can express my individuality without sacrificing my voice to expectations of marketability, popularity, and deadlines. My goal is to create an opportunity for escapism that is bold and absolute.

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After Party Affair by Isabel Raven – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Isabel will be awarding a free ebook copy of After Party Affair to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

4_14 after BookCover_AfterPartyAffairNineteen-year-old Becky Smithton never imagined she’d be invited to her friend, Lorna’s, birthday bash only to be humiliated. The party is over and Becky’s seething with fury, wandering outside and itching for revenge. But what can she do to get back at Lorna and her snobbish mother? A walk through the woods and a chance encounter with Lorna’s bodilicous father, Grant, presents the perfect opportunity. Seducing the dark, handsome—and forbidden—thirty-eight year old should be easy, right? But Grant is made of stronger stuff than other men and soon it’s Becky who’s struggling with frustrated desire. What’s more, her heart is doing funny things and so is her mind, filling her with sudden what-the-hell? pregnancy fantasies involving Grant. As for her body, well, it’s naked and wet, and all she wants is for Grant to dive into the swimming pool and give her what she craves—shallow and deep. After all, if her seduction succeeds then their tryst would only be a meaningless, after party affair… Right?

Enjoy an excerpt:

I was about to head back when the cottage’s front door opened behind me. “Becky?”

As ever, my skin tingled at the sound of Grant’s deep voice. At the sight of his tall, muscular frame, it heated into a blush I was glad he couldn’t see. He’d taken off his tuxedo jacket and cummerbund, and a few of his shirt buttons were undone. With his sleeves rolled up and his thick black hair dishevelled, he gave off an alluring after-party vibe.

“Sorry,” I said stupidly, realising he’d asked me a question. “I was out for a walk and didn’t know you were working.”

Grant perused my outfit before lifting his gaze to the sky. The stars that had illuminated my run to the swimming pool were nowhere to be seen. “It’s clouding over. I’ll find you something for the walk back.”

I frowned at his broad shoulders. No doubt Grant, too, thought I looked cheap, though he was too polite to say so. But he was right about one thing, if it rained more heavily I’d be soaked by the time I got to the house. The second I stepped into the low-ceilinged cottage my eyes widened. Polished oak floors strewn with colourful rugs and a terracotta colour scheme made the long structure seem like a cosy hideaway. A large desk and office paraphernalia occupied the space near the door, and the opposite end was dominated by a Victorian fireplace. The three-seater sofa in front of it looked like the perfect place to curl up with a good book.

“I love it,” I exclaimed.

“It used to be the gardener’s cottage.”

“It’s warm and bright and not at all like—” Oops.

“Like the main house,” Grant finished wryly. “Don’t worry, I’m not offended. Kate has full reign up there, but here I’m the boss.”

About the Author: 4_14 after AuthorPhoto_AfterPartyAffairFor Isabel there’s nothing better than writing about men and women who break boundaries to explore their desires. Sweet romance with chaste kisses and closed-door sex? You’re not going to find it in her books! She writes what she likes to read, graphic intimacy between protagonists with plenty of character. Her heroines and heroes are ordinary people with secret cravings. People who will disregard taboos and traditions to follow their hearts—with plenty of hot and sweaty sex along the way.

Pop in and say hello on FB: www.facebook.com/isabelrraven (there’s an extra ‘r’ between ‘isabel’ and ‘raven’

Buy After Party Affair at the publisher, Amazon, Amazon UK, or All Romance eBooks.

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My Take on Critique Groups by Steve McHugh – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Steve McHugh will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

My Take on Critique Groups

Back when I was 25, which was only a decade ago, but feels much longer, I was tired and deliriously happy from the birth of my first daughter. There’s nothing quite like having a lot of late nights and the overwhelming thought that you are now responsible for a little person, to make you wonder just want you want to do with your life. In my case, I’d always wanted to be a writer, but I used the excuse, “some day, when I have time” an awful lot. The birth of my daughter changed all of that.

I knew I wanted to get serious about writing, but I’d never even finished writing a book, so I knew I was about to write the greatest novel of all time on the first go. So, I went online for hints about improving my craft. And that hurt my brain. Because everyone has a different view, and by everyone, I actually do mean everyone.

Eventually I found myself talking to someone about it who suggested I go take a look at Kelley Armstrong’s website. She’s written about writing and given hints and tips, and I’d loved her work, so I figured I may as well. What I found was somewhat bigger than that, because I ended up joining her forum and adding my name to the list of people wishing to join a critique group.

Now the groups on her forum were split into newbie island, which is where everyone starts until they’ve proven that they’re going to actually post and give critiques to others on a regular basis. So, I actually sat down and wrote something. It was shockingly bad.

I don’t think I actually posted anything for a few months, but I did read critiques and learned how advice should be given, and where people were going right and wrong on their own work. After a while, I published my first piece… it didn’t end well.

The following month, I published another. And then another. And with my regular critiquing, I left newbie island to be put into a permanent group (group 2 in my case). It was there that I met people who I consider some of the best people I know, certainly some of the most talented. Over the 4 or 5 years I was there, I made a lot of friends, got some excellent advice, and when Kelley had to close the forum, I’d already published my first book.

By the time it was over, pretty much everyone in the groups posting on anything close to a regular basis had either published or had a publishing deal.

To me, that shows that if you’re just starting, critiques are some of the most important things you’ll ever get. They help you grow as a writer, they help you learn from other people’s mistakes. And more importantly, you’ll make good friends. A good critique group can eventually put you on the path to publication.

Now I’m not saying they’re for everyone, some people wouldn’t enjoy that environment, but they’re certainly helpful, and they’re worth trying. You just need to find a good one.

I have beta readers now, people I’ve known for years from that group, I get to see friends go further and further with their writing career. So, no, they’re not for everyone, but for me, it helped me become a published author. Which in turn has completely changed my life.

Long ago, Olympian gods imprisoned the demon Pandora in a human—Hope—creating a creature whose only purpose was chaos and death. Remorseful, the gods locked Pandora away in Tartarus, ruled by Hades.

Now, centuries later, Pandora escapes. Nate Garrett, a 1,600-year-old sorcerer, is sent to recapture her and discovers her plan to disrupt the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, killing thousands in a misplaced quest for vengeance.

Fast forward to modern-day Berlin, where Nate has agreed to act as guardian on a school trip to Germany to visit Hades at the entrance to Tartarus. When Titan King Cronus becomes the second ever to escape Tartarus, Nate is forced to track him down and bring him back, to avert a civil war between those who would use his escape to gain power.

Enjoy an excerpt:

The power collected by the runes would have returned to me until I’d regained my strength. Breaking the runes had changed that. On the plus side, it meant getting my missing energy back much more quickly; on the minus side, it turned the car park into a damn bomb.

The remaining magic exploded outward like a nuclear shockwave. Windscreens and headlights shattered, tires blew from the pressure, and the lights and windows at the front of the restaurant rained down glass over the ground. The blast picked me up like I was made of paper and threw me aside. I felt a crunch as I collided, back first, with something hard. Pain rocked through me, and then, just as quickly as the magical energy had rushed outward, it stopped and all rushed back into me as if it were attached on an elastic band.

The final thing I remembered before passing out was that I cried out in pain.

About the Author: 4_13 PRISON AuthorPhoto_PrisonOfHopeSteve McHugh is the author of the popular Hellequin Chronicles. The fourth book, Prison of Hope, is out on April 14th. He lives in Southampton on the south coast of England with his wife and three young daughters. When not writing or spending time with his kids, he enjoys watching movies, reading books and comics, and playing video games.

Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Buy Prison of Hope at Amazon.

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Background of The Leviathan Chronicles by James Mascia – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. James Mascia will be awarding 5 copies of the ebook in either mobi or epub formats to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The Leviathan Chronicles started out about fifteen years ago when a wide-eyed high school graduate (who shall remain nameless, but I’m sure you will guess their identity) wrote a Star Wars fanfiction with a whole new set of characters travelling aboard the starship Leviathan. It was a project I worked on through my freshman and sophomore years of college, where the stories themselves took on their own identity and far removed themselves from the Star Wars universe.

Even though I enjoyed working on them, there came a time when schoolwork took over my life and I was forced to abandon them to the void that would be a subfolder on my hard-drive (amazingly, I managed to keep that subfolder through several computer changes since then). I worked on new projects, got myself a book deal with a small-press for my High School Heroes series, published four books in that series, along with two graphic novels, and a whole bunch of short stories.

So, now that I am wrapping up High School Heroes/b>, it came time to start thinking about a new project. I have been reading many old science-fiction stories from Amazing Stories, Planet Stories, Startling Stories, and other old pulp fiction magazines like these. It amazed me how well my old stories would have fit in there, like the old Buck Rogers, or Flash Gordon stories. So, I decided to dig them out and bring new life to them.

Of course, having fifteen years between my writing then and my writing now, I could barely look at those old stories without my stomach churning a little at the way they were written. So, I said, we would start from the ground up. I would totally recreate my universe, rewriting everything, and I would do it by starting with the very first story I wrote for The Leviathan Chronicles series. Hence, we have The Last Stand at Aeprion, the story of Joel, who has lost virtually everything in his life, tries to fulfill a promise while fighting off an insane alien hunter.

It was amazing to me, how much the story changed from the original as I was rewriting it, which lead to a completely different ending than the one I had originally written for it. I won’t go into details, but I will say that the new ending is a billion (yes, a billion) times better than the original.

I was also pleased by the fact that I enjoyed rewriting the story as much as I did. I am usually the kind of writer who will have a great idea and then just run with wherever the plot takes me. I can sometimes get bored writing when I know how the story is going to end up. I prefer to be as surprised as the reader when at all the twists and turns the story takes. But, writing this was a pleasure, even though I knew about half the turns the story would take when I set out.

So, there you have it. A little bit about my book and how I wrote it. I hope that you have found it informative.

4_13 LEVIATHAN BookCover_TheLeviathanChroniclesStill reeling from his wife’s murder, Joel tries to escape the alien hunter and fulfill a promise he made to her. Years of searching for the fabled planet, Aeprion, has left the space freighter captain torn between giving up the search or giving himself up to Kraxem, an alien hunter.

When Kraxem and his minions attack Joel’s ship again, he is forced into the nebula, where he’ll have to do repairs. Once there, his thoughts revert back to the final day of Kate’s life and the promises that were made. Learning to come to terms with her loss and release the guilt that he feels will be a hard battle to fight, but giving up will prove to be even more difficult and, perhaps, deadly.

Steeling his resolve to forge on, Joel vows to find the fabled living planet before guilt devours his soul and all is lost.

Enjoy an excerpt:

He stopped eating. He’d gone almost a whole day without thinking about her. Now that he had, he was overcome with an emptiness in his chest he couldn’t escape. He stared at the seat at the small table where she would always sit. If he closed his eyes, he could almost imagine she was still there, insisting that even though the food was crap, they could still eat like civilized human beings.

“Dammit!” He tossed the half empty ration pack at her seat, no longer hungry, and left the room.

He couldn’t keep doing this to himself. He knew that. But until they invented a pill that could erase memories, he really had no choice. It was all his fault. If it hadn’t been for him, she’s still be here.

He returned to the cockpit just as the air filled with the wail of the proximity alarm.

Jumping back into the pilot’s chair, he pulled up his sensor logs, and didn’t like what he saw. “Computer, is that what I think it is?”

“It is a Class-B frigate, of Quacock design with an armament of…”

He didn’t need to hear anymore.

The bulkhead groaned as Joel swung the Wanderer around, speeding away from the incoming craft.

He slammed his hand on the console. “How the hell did he find me?”

He’d been careful. Since he’d left the last port, he’d avoided all the shipping lanes, he’d made several course corrections, and he’d even masked his energy output to make it impossible to follow his trail.

“How’d the bastard do it?” he muttered.

“Please restate the question,” chimed the computer.

He didn’t respond to the machine. A warning beeped on the console a second before long streams of green energy burst forth from the pursuing craft and Joel jerked the controls to the right, sliding the Wanderer out of the way just in time. The beam of light passed only meters below the ship.

It had probably singed the armor, but at least no alarms blared. At least there was no lasting damage. It didn’t stop sweat from forming on his brow. It was a little too close, and if he wasn’t careful, he might not escape from the alien this time.

About the Author:captain america vectorHe fights evil across the known universe and crushes them between his fingers (at least, he does this with his words).

James Mascia is an accomplished writer with a bestselling series, High School Heroes, as well as a bestselling graphic novel, The Poe Murders. He has always been a fan of sci-fi, and is glad to be delving back into the galaxy once again.

James teaches in Maryland, where he also writes. He has a lovely wife and a tiny terror (a two-year-old) driving him mad, but making him laugh.

Check out some of his other work below:

Island of Dren | Twitter | DeviantArt | Amazon Author Page

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The Billionaire’s Suite Dreams by Lori Ryan – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Lori will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour. NOTE: This book is available for FREE!

Her Secrets Are All About to Come Out

Pop star PJ Cantrell’s life and career are threatened when an angry blackmailer uncovers the truth about her hidden past. PJ knows it has to be someone close, someone she trusts. She turns to long-time friend Gabe Sawyer for help, but finds more than she bargained for. As she quickly discovers she wants more from him than friendship and support, she has to wonder what he’ll think of her when he finally learns the truth.

Gabe Sawyer built a successful chain of luxury hotels by focusing on one thing and one thing only – his work. And, he’s now discovering, that just isn’t enough in life. He’s loved PJ from afar, but he’s never felt the time was right for a deeper relationship. When he discovers a blackmailer is threatening her life, everything changes as he struggles to keep her safe and end the threat to her life and to the career she loves.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Gabe set the salad down and went about plating the burgers and scooping heaps of mashed potatoes onto the plate. He looked down at the heaping plate then up at PJ’s tiny frame.

“Oh, you probably can’t eat all this, can you?” he asked and turned to scoop some of the potatoes back. He’d served her the kind of portion he might hand to Jack or Andrew for a first round.

PJ stabbed at his hand with a fork. “Back off my potatoes, mister,” she said and pulled the plate from his hands. “Mine,” she said, twisting to guard the food with her body as she eyed him suspiciously. He couldn’t help but laugh.

“Something to drink?” Gabe’s face heated. With her history of alcohol addiction, he shouldn’t offer her anything alcoholic, he thought quickly. Why hadn’t he considered that earlier? He had no idea how his caretakers had stocked the fridge, and he hadn’t thought to ask for nonalcoholic drinks. “Water? Coke? Um––” He looked toward the small fridge in the outdoor kitchen, not sure what was there.

“Water’s great,” PJ said as she sat at one of the chairs. She didn’t seem to notice his discomfort about what to offer her. Gabe grabbed two bottles of water and shut the fridge with his foot. He retrieved his plate from next to the grill and flicked a light switch with his elbow. Flames danced to life as he lowered himself into the chair next to PJ’s.

PJ moaned again, her mouth filled with the bacon, blue cheese concoction he’d cooked up for them and Gabe felt his whole body still. If she didn’t knock off that adorable habit she had of moaning when something good crossed those lips, he wouldn’t make it through the week without a lot of cold showers and hand lotion.

“It’s okay if you want to drink,” she said in between bites, and Gabe’s first thoughts jumped to whiskey. Shots of whiskey might help him get through this alive and moderately sane without too many fantasies…about other ways he could make her moan, or what she might sound like when he took her soft nipple into his mouth and made it peak under his tongue.

He shook his head instead, half in answer to her and half in an attempt to banish thoughts of PJ’s breasts from his mind. “I’m good with water. Burger okay?” he asked.

“More than okay. It’s amazing. Maybe that’s what you should do now. Become a chef. Or open a chain of restaurants. World-class restaurants with nothing but comfort food.”

Gabe laughed as PJ took another big bite and then followed that with a forkful of mashed potatoes.

And, another moan. Dear Lord, woman. Gabe wanted to lean across his chair and swallow those moans of hers in a kiss. But, that was the last thing she needed and he wouldn’t do that to her now. He’d be what she needed: a friend.

He shifted his plate in his lap. It wouldn’t look great for her to see exactly how much she affected him. She’d probably run and hide if she knew the kind of thoughts he had about her.

“No?” she asked, seemingly unaware of the effect she had on him. “Don’t like the restaurant idea? Hmmm. A cooking show! I bet all the housewives would watch you cook. You know, jeans and an apron? Nothing much else?” PJ said with a mischievous grin. “I bet if you demonstrated how to make a bowl of cereal with no shirt on it would be a hit.”

Gabe turned to look at her as she laughed next to him. Her whole face lit up when she laughed, and desire flew through him hard and fast and demanding.

To hell with it.

He leaned across the space between the two Adirondack chairs and swept her mouth with his, quickly. Just a taste. Just the taste he’d been dreaming about for years. He pulled back and looked into her stunned eyes.


“I’m sorry,” he said, but didn’t move away as his eyes locked with hers. “I just wanted to see what that felt like. What you taste like.”

About the Author:

Lori Ryan is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author who writes contemporary romance with a twist of suspense. Her books range from sweetheart to steamy in heat level (for sweeter, read the Evers, TX series.)

She lives with an extremely understanding husband, three wonderful children, two mostly well-behaved dogs, and a lone little cat in Austin, Texas. It’s a bit of a zoo, but she wouldn’t change a thing.

Lori published her first novel in April of 2013 and has fallen in love with writing. She is the author of the Sutton Capital Series, the Evers, Texas Series, and will be putting out several novellas with baseball player heroes in Bella Andre’s Kindle World, Game For Love, in late 2014. She loves to connect with her readers. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter or subscribe to her blog.

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A Dark Tyranny by C.M. Pendleton – Spotlight and Giveaway

BBT_TourBanner_ADarkTyranny copy

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. C.M. Pendleton will be awarding $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

MediaKIt_BookCover_ADarkTyrannyA Dark Tyranny chronicles the onset of the savage invasion of Altaris. Wolven beasts and gorgons ravage the four realms of man. Rumors of an ancient and greater evil lay in their wake. The rule of kings is at an end. The hierarchy of class and heritage are no more, as families are torn apart and lives are forever changed. A small few find their fates intertwined, as they fight for survival and for those they love.

An exiled commander is thrust back into a world he longed to forget.

A lone Nighteye finds his curse lifted and his true image restored.

A young noblewoman struggles to escape a gorgon caravan.

A former slave befriends an ancient and majestic creature.

The afflicted brother of a traitorous king discovers a secret that could cost him his life.

A Dark Tyranny is a thrilling epic that brings readers into a vivid world full of magic, adventure, and treachery. Discover the world of Ehlür and experience the beginning of a gripping saga.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Mirkus sat up in a start. Something wasn’t right. He could smell it. There was a thickness to the air. Those last hours of darkness seemed to harbor a dread. There was a sense of fear that crept up his neck causing a cloud of anxiety to grip him like an iron vise.

I must do something. What? Something’s wrong.

Thoughts poured through his head. The ground began to tremble. He heard the mallop tree cry out like a great ship turning hard at sea. Wood twisted slightly and then settled back in place. The ground moved and swelled. Dust fell to the floor; it filled the air. The ground continued to move. It was a slow stirring, like the earth itself was waking from a deep slumber. A large echoing grind pulled through the bowels of the dirt below. Then … it stopped. There was silence.

Mirkus left his tree. The normal chill was gone. There was a musky stench of decay rising from the ground. It was nauseating. Worms and other creatures scurried from the safety of the soil. They toiled blindly on the loose dirt. Mirkus could hear stirring in the village.

I’m not the only one that heard this.

A howl pierced the night. It was neither dog nor wolf. It had the sound of human agony layered with a bestial moan. The ground moved once again. Mirkus shifted to keep his balance. There were screams.

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_ADarkTyranny
C. M. Pendleton is the author of the epic fantasy series Of Darkness & the Light. He holds a bachelor’s degree in science and attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and four children.

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My Take on Critique Groups by Edita Petrick – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Edita will be awarding a Kindle copy of “Ribbons of Death” gifted from Amazon to 4 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

My take on critique groups

You’ve worked hard on your first 2,000-word chapter of your brand-new mind-child and you’re absolutely sure it’s ready to be sent to your critique group, for praise and nothing else. Of course, you agree to abide by the conduct rules of the workshop and why not? There’s nothing to fear about. You’re the epitome of respect and courtesy, fairness and honesty—heck, you’re the foremost crusader for honest reviews…and then the first critique comes in and every single curse and insult that you’ve ever learned bubbles up on your lips. You want to hurt all of them, all at once, at the wretch who dared to rip your darling apart.

This is the reaction most often echoed in any workshop-member’s response when asked how he or she felt about his first critique.

I’ve been a member of Fiction Writing Workshop for more than ten years.

It is an Internet Writing Workshop, run off the Penn State University servers. I’ve lost count how many offensive and downright threatening emails I received from a workshop member whose submission I critiqued. There are moderators of course, but once the email is hurled out there for workshop members to see, it’s hard to backpedal for its author. And precisely because most authors, beginners or established, do not react well to critiques, I tell those who ask me about the critique groups to simply stay away from them. They are not for everyone. In fact, they are for very few who have developed their professionalism to a point where they’re able to look objectively on any form of critique and either disregard it or learn from it. There are really only those two options that emerge from a critique. That’s the main reason for my cautionary advice.

The writer who is just beginning to develop his writing craft is cocooned in a bubble of heady optimism and lofty dreams of glory and recognition that his writing will bring him. The mid-level writer’s optimism has somewhat cooled off and he is in a stage where doubts start to set in. He is at the point of difficult decision: Continue or give up writing and focus his energies on something more rewarding. The next stage is what I call “count-to-five-groaning” stage. At this stage, the writer will read the critique, groan and then count to five and re-read it again and again and again, as long as it takes, to ascertain whether the critiquer has a valid point or whether to dismiss his critique. Regardless what his decision, he will write a polite ‘thank you’ note for the critique.

When the writer reaches this stage, it would be beneficial for him to join a critique group – but not before he is able to self-identify that he is in ‘author-developmental’ stage. It takes a great deal of courage, self-control and medication-of-your-choice for the writer to reach this stage. Is there a way to get ‘here’ from ‘there?’ Sure there is. And I don’t mean to develop a thicker skin.

Ten years ago, after receiving a critique that was well-meaning but hurtful nevertheless, I walked around for 4-5 days, tossing my reply to the critiquer over and over in my head until it literally worked itself out of my system. Believe me, few if any people can go for days silently cursing and hurling insults at a disembodied name. Life will interfere; other more pressing needs will wash out the pain and anger and by day four, you will be ready to let go of the hurt and get back to the serious business of improving your writing craft. As times goes by, the length of time it takes for you to get rid of the anger becomes shorter and shorter until finally, the writer reaches the stage where he is able to read all critiques, good and bad, with equally stoic expression and only an occasional sigh.

This is the stage where joining a critique group will be actually quite beneficial. Especially if you manage to find one or two members whose observations you’ll come to trust. These will be the equivalent of your publisher’s editor (or freelance professional editor, as the case may be) that you will work with toward a common goal—to produce a flawless manuscript that shines for your reading audience.

In conclusion, those writers who are just starting to develop their writing craft should stay away from critiquing groups and workshops. Their confidence and optimism would only get undermined by the members’ varied and often ill-targeted critiques. New writers should direct all their energy into self-learning and reading works of established writers. Critique groups are beneficial to mid-level writer who is able to take away some kernel of knowledge from any critique. It is also important for the mid-level- and-higher writer to find the right-fit critique group. Basically, if the author does not feel ‘at home’ after one or two critiques he or she should leave the group and find another. And those writers who are ready to seek publication, can join a critique group as means of staying in touch with others learning the craft, but they would be better off finding one or two high-level editors to show them what is still lacking in their craft.

4_9 ribbons BookCover_RibbonsOfDeath When a horribly scarred man knocks on the door of Stella Hunter’s ramshackle cottage in upstate Montana, she lets him in. What’s there to lose? The book critics killed her chances to warn the world about myths and legends behind the myths and legends.

But once the man pushes a book smudged with bloody fingerprints across the table, Stella sees a glimmer of hope. She may yet repair her academic reputation. She may re-establish her credibility within the scientific community and she may vindicate her ‘peace-taker’ theory. She may also be murdered by anyone standing next to her if her theory is correct.

4_9 ribbonsAuthorPhoto_RibbonsOfDeath

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Of course. Why didn’t you just say so,” he said gruffly but knew she’d see that his eyes were laughing. Then something occurred to him. “Wasn’t the Benedictine order founded by St. Benedict?”

She rapped her knuckles on the back of his hand. “No. He only wrote their rule—its prologue and seventy-three chapters—commonly known as RB. It spells out basic virtues a man should have—humility, silence and obedience. It also gives details of common living and sharing. Many a broken marriage today would still be intact if the partners had only taken trouble to learn the ins-and-outs of St. Benedict’s Rule.” She let him ruminate on her lecture and turned to McEwen. “What’s in the tabloid/diary that would interest me?”

The antiquarian resumed his story. His friend Peter immediately set to translate the Latin text of the diary and, when finished, he sat back reflectively, much puzzled how such a fanciful tale could have indeed been written by a monk. Brother Lucien, the scribe at the Clairvaux Abbey, was inspired to become Abbot Bernard’s unofficial biographer when he heard that clergy in Paris had already started this noble pursuit.

About the Author: By profession, I’m an engineer and ten years ago, I left a corporate job to concentrate on writing. It was perhaps the scariest thing I’ve done. Of course, there were other considerations at the time, life, kids, economy and my mother who was battling cancer. I wrote as means of staying grounded because I had to hold it together. There was no one else to pitch in. There wasn’t a single moment that I didn’t have doubts about whether what I was doing was the right thing or not, but doubts come and go, while the need to write goes on forever. Since 2005 I’ve published 5 books and this year alone I have 6 new ones coming out. I live in Toronto with my family and our two pets – wheaten terriers. And whenever I’m tempted to look back, and start second-guessing my past decisions, I sit behind the computer and start another book. At least for me, that’s a cure-all.

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Earths in Space by Daniel Sherrier – Spotlight and Giveaway

This is a post hosted by Goddess Fish Promotions. Daniel Sherrier will be awarding a $15 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.

Life can evolve. Amena saw the evidence on an ancient Earth. It wasn’t pleasant evidence, and it wasn’t evolution into sentient life, but she saw evidence.

So okay, she accepts that no little green men exist on alien worlds, but maybe one of these other Earths holds evolved humanity.

Evolution faces a powerful obstacle, however — humanity itself.

Volume 2: We Must Evolve begins with the discovery of a mysterious ark full of refugees caught in orbit over Pluto…

Wait, an ark full of refugees…?

Well, that’s one Earth that’s not evolving. But another could be doing better. It’s possible, Amena keeps telling herself…

Continuing the action-packed Earths in Space series, We Must Evolve features a novel-length journey told in four novellas — “The Pluto Factor,” “Worlds to Save,” “The New World,” and “On Hold.”

Enjoy an excerpt:

Evolution was a real thing. Amena Wharry knew this for a fact. She had witnessed it in action on an Earth that no longer existed. That giant swimming eyeball was forever etched in her memory.

She saw it, felt its slimy tentacles as they ensnared her, and she had regrettably killed the poor thing, though she never learned what species it had descended from. Did a race of giant eyeballs already exist deep within her Earth’s oceans? But those snakes were clearly evolved, the way they stretched their mouths unnaturally wide. Then again, that could’ve been a species of snake that had remained hidden in rainforests or was driven to extinction long ago, and those little dinosaurs might never have gone extinct over there in the first place…

The slender redhead swiped her paintbrush across a side wall in The Patrick Henry’s control room. The dull metal got old on day one, and she finally found time to rectify the horrid situation—rectify it as much as her limited artistic talents allowed. Intricate murals were beyond her abilities, and she didn’t have that much time anyway, but she could slap assorted streaks of color up and down the walls. She preferred detailed images that merited close inspection— the sort of work she’d find in art museums’ historical wings—but she settled on abstract expressionism. It was color. It broke the monotony, stimulated the brain even.

Surely people were capable of evolution. If those animals could evolve on that ancient Earth, then humanity likely had the same potential. They just never got the chance there. That civilization died young, lasted for a teensy fraction of the planet’s ten billion years. But maybe on some other Earth…

About the Author: Daniel Sherrier is a writer based in central Virginia. This is the guy who writes the Earths in Space and RIP series, which you’ve doubtless heard much about. Occasionally, a play he’s written gets performed somewhere. He graduated from the College of William & Mary in 2005, where he earned a degree in the ever-lucrative fields of English and Theatre. Recently, he achieved his black belt in Thai kickboxing. And there was that one time he jumped out of an airplane, which was memorable.

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Must Have Experience or Need Not Apply by MK Schiller – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding three separate prizes: a $20 Amazon or B/N GC, a $10 Amazon or B/N GC, and an ecopy of Variables of Love, to randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Must have experience or need not apply
BY MK Schiller

I’ve always loved romances. Possibly, this has to do with being a child of the 80’s. Almost every movie produced in that era had auto angst, a great soundtrack, fallible heroes, strong heroines, and of course, the required grand gesture. How could I not fall in love with this genre? Between purchasing jelly shoes, hoop earrings, and legwarmers, I was busy watching the great dramatic offerings of my generation.

People often ask me where I get my ideas. The way I construct a novel is much like creating a dish from scratch (although as of late, my kids think I’ve forgotten how to cook). I take snippets and stories from my life, find character traits I enjoy, add spice, and stir well. Of course, I always set it on a low simmer until I’m ready to heat on high.

My first foray into romance happened when I was sixteen. I wrote a short story…really it was just a few paragraphs with no beginning or end. The scene was that pivotal black moment, although at the time, I wasn’t familiar with that term. In truth, I had no idea this is what I was writing. But I can tell you this…I loved writing it!

The hero tells the heroine good-bye, caressing her cheek. He divulges that he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to stop loving her or love her forever. He channels all his sorrow and frustration into a heartfelt speech, trying desperately to change her mind. She’s stoic and calm, but her insides are a quivering mass of emotions. He storms out, leaving her alone in the chaos of her thoughts. She sits and stares at the ceiling, clenching her hands, welcoming the physical pain to distract her from her emotional turmoil. If she allows her caged grief any freedom, it will destroy her. She waits in silence, trying to block out his words, because she knows she’ll go after him. So she closes her eyes, and takes deep breaths until the distance between them is too far for her legs to carry. Only in that moment, when she’s sure the time has passed to call him back does she break down, allowing her anguished screams and salty tears full invasion of her facilities until she reaches the point of exhaustion.

I no longer have this piece of writing, but I remember being very proud of it. I showed it to a friend of mine. Her reaction was that I shouldn’t write about experiences I didn’t have. I have to admit, the critique (the first of many) hurt. I wondered if every writer must have experience or need not apply? The feedback didn’t stop me from writing, but life sure as heck did. Enter, college, a real job (as my parent’s like to say), marriage, kids etc. Then one day, I happened upon a very popular book written by a new author. Well, it definitely hijacked my mind for many hours. A good book gives us freedom. After all, it’s the only form of stationary travel, and the only socially acceptable means of voyeurism.

I couldn’t stop the ideas from flowing after that. My mind was a mash-up of plot points and character traits. So I started writing, if only to relieve myself and create some much-needed head space. A year later, I became a published author.

I disagree with my childhood friend. After all, sci-fi, historical, and Steam punk writers probably don’t have exact experiences to draw from either. Sympathy is the ability to feel for someone else, and I think every good writer has to have a healthy dose of it to create the ideal journey for the readers. I feel for my characters, the predicaments I put them in, and their emotional responses to it. I can do all this because the human experience bonds all of us.

I wanted to share my journey with you. To once again, emphatically state I have an awesome job, penning romantic tales for a living – one that doesn’t necessarily require experience. However, I do think there are some character traits every author should have. Writers must have intuition, admiration for others, and a healthy dose of compassion. You must be willing to let plot points take over your head, and work long hours. You must roll out the welcome mats for the frequent, odd voices talking to you. You must accept critiques with grace, and learn from them. It is not a job…it is a passion.

When I wrote Variables of Love, I had to draw on these traits to create honest, relatable characters and the difficult situation they were in. This is a story about trauma, forgiveness, and the beautiful fall and catch that goes into every love story. Variables of Love is a very personal story for me. It’s what happens when cultural expectations and personal convictions collide. I’ve borrowed from my own life experiences and culture to create this novel. It’s a story I’ve wanted to tell for some time, and I’m humbled by the opportunity to share it. As a child of the 80’s, I had to add a few grand gestures, a rocking soundtrack, and a heaping pile of angst. I hope you’ll check it out, and I’d love to hear about what other traits you think a successful writer should have.

Meena Kapoor knows what life has in store for her. She’s in her senior year at Stanford where she’ll graduate summa cum laude, and then she’ll begin her interviews…her marriage interviews. Meena is Indian, and she’s never questioned that she’ll have an arranged marriage like all the generations before her. Not until she meets gorgeous math major Ethan Callahan. Ethan’s sense of humor and free spirit stir feelings in Meena she didn’t know were possible outside of Bollywood movies. It doesn’t hurt that he’s charming and has the uncanny ability to make math sound like poetry, but Meena knows their equation makes no sense in the real world.

Ethan finds himself intrigued by the mysterious, beautiful girl, whose big, brown eyes reflect great pain. His goals are small at first – to make her smile and then to laugh. But he soon wants more, and though Meena is adamant they have no future, he convinces her to share the present. Ethan believes every problem has a solution, but with cultural expectations and family duty among the variables, they will struggle to solve the ultimate equation to find happiness.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“It is kind of cool…the mating for life thing. There are so few species that mate for life.”

I turned and stared at him, feeling my heart flutter by his very close presence. His hand twitched a bit, like it wanted to grab mine. Was he feeling the same charge of electricity I was? I wanted to be honest with him. After I told him, he would probably rather hang out with a swan.

“That’s why I love them. They are just like me.”

He didn’t seem frazzled by what I’d said. He was quiet, soaking in my words. Rachael told me statements like this were the fastest way to get a guy to leave you alone, but Ethan didn’t even seem surprised. “You mate for life, Meena?”

“My people do”

“Economists?” he asked with an amused grin.

“Very funny.”

“Are you saying there are no Indian divorces?” His question sounded genuine.

“There are exceptions to every rule, but we do have the lowest divorce rate in the world.”

“Why do you think that is?”

“It’s culturally discouraged.”

He nodded. “Maybe, it should be here too. But is that really the only reason? It makes it sound like it’s very difficult to get yourself out of a bad situation.”

“It’s difficult, but usually not impossible. That’s not the only reason. I think the marriages, in general, are stronger and more stable.”

“What makes them stronger? Religion? Culture?” I was quiet for a moment, contemplating my response. “Come on, the answer to the Western woes of wedlock could be solved by this very conversation. Surely, you have a theory.”

“Two words—arranged marriage.”

His eyebrows shot up. I had finally surprised him, but he didn’t hesitate with his next question. “People still do that?”

“It’s not as common as it was, but it’s not uncommon either. Most Hindu marriages are the result of an arrangement.”

“I don’t know anyone who would want to get married like that.”

I sucked in a deep breath, but didn’t let my eyes waver from his. “Yes, you do.”

About the Author:

I am a hopeless romantic in a hopelessly pragmatic world. I have a full time life and two busy teenagers, but in the dark of night, I sit by the warm glow of my computer monitor, reading or writing, usually with some tasty Italian…the food that is!

I started imagining stories in my head at a very young age. In fact, I got so good at it that friends asked me to create plots featuring them as the heroine and the object of their affection as the hero. You’ve heard of fan fiction… this was friend fiction.

I hope you enjoy my stories and always find The Happily Ever After in every endeavor.

I love hearing from readers so please write to me!

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