What would I tell a new author? by Aiden Ainslie

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What would I tell a new author?

The first thing I would tell them is, if you are writing because you want to be on the New York Times bestseller list and see your books made into movies so that you can be rich and famous, I suggest you rather buy lottery tickets. The chances of making it big time in writing are pretty slim. But if you have other motivations for writing then “Go for it!”

Of course, I’d love to be a bestselling author, but the writing process in itself can be immensely rewarding. Creating characters in a story is probably the closest a man can get to understanding how a woman feels about giving birth to a child. I nurture my characters for months through the whole writing process to shape them into decent human beings. And I am super protective of them. I want readers to understand my characters, root for them, and like them despite their frailties.

So, aspiring author, be prepared to give up a lot of your headspace to your story. The characters are going to be bouncing around in your head whether you like it or not.

The next thing to address with the new author is the tricky question of marketing. There’s no way around it. It’s time-consuming and takes you away from the creative process. All I can say is, find help if you can afford it, or else embrace it. But don’t let it suck the life out of you. Be selective with your precious time and advertising dollars.

One of the things I learned about marketing the hard way is that you must be really, really clear about what your genre is and who your audience is. It’s one thing to write your memoirs, which will (maybe) be read by your family and five good friends. But if you want to be commercially successful, you should know exactly whom you are writing for and what they expect. That is why people like Colleen Hoover, Louise Penny and Geoffrey Archer are as successful as they are. They stick very tightly to a genre, and readers get exactly what they expect from these authors.

So, think big! Don’t just think about the one book you are going to write. Think about the ten books you are going to write. By book five you’ve got your readers so hooked that they are panting for the next release. And that, my friend, is when you get onto the New York Times bestseller list and Netflix sends a limo for the premiere of the movie based on your latest book.


After years of hard work and training, I finally have the chance of fulfilling my lifelong dream of winning the Tour de France. Nothing can be allowed to distract me from this mission, especially not Gabe O’Reilly, the adorable art student from San Francisco.

But he looks so vulnerable – all alone in France.

I would be failing in my patriotic duty to a fellow American if I didn’t take care of him, wouldn’t I? And what possible harm could come from spending twenty-four hours with him on the shores of the Mediterranean? I deserve that little break, don’t I?


I have never seen a human specimen as perfect as Clifford Du Frey. During our fleeting encounter in Paris, I saw a man who was funny, caring, and tender – so very different from the way the media portray him. He is everything I could ever dream of in a boyfriend.

But in what universe will an international sports superstar pay any serious attention to me?

Do not get involved, my brain yells; you can only get hurt again. But my heart is thrumming to a different tune.

Enjoy an Excerpt


In my line of work as a professional cyclist, me-time was rationed like the tiny, individually wrapped squares of chocolate my mother would give me as a reward for good school results. Of course, once I had found her secret stash, I used to help myself and haughtily decline her miserly tokens of approval.

But there was no secret stash of time. I had to live with the given rations to deal with my anxieties. I knew what none of the team even suspected – this was do-or-die, my last attempt at finally pulling off the big win that had eluded me throughout my ten-year professional career. I knew that I would not be able to muster the hunger for another Tour – to withstand the hundreds of hours of training rides in extreme heat and the Alps’ arctic altitude. This was it. But if my cycling career was at an end – then what? It was all I had ever done. My grueling schedule had not allowed me to attend college. At twenty-eight, I stared into the chasm of obscurity, a has-been, yesterday’s hero discarded with yesterday’s trash.

I nursed a coffee and was about to spiral into a pit of self-doubt and anxiety when I noticed a young man at the restaurant entrance. His indecision was palpable. He had a camera on a strap around his neck. Who still used cameras? Didn’t everyone have a smartphone? And he held a copy of the Lonely Planet in one hand. He wore cargo shorts, a UC San Francisco T-shirt, and leather sandals. There was something so open, innocent, and vulnerable about him that it tugged at my jaded heart. He might as well have had “American student – rip me off” tattooed on his forehead. Physically he was gorgeous – average height with sun-tanned skin and the perfect proportions that come from working on a farm or construction site. The soft curls of his dark hair shone in the midday sun and fell in unruly waves over his forehead. I had the fleeting, insane urge to push my fingers through that hair so that I could get a good look at his eyes. A few well-heeled ladies in the bistro were giving him the once-over, but he was utterly oblivious.

The man bit his lower lip as he studied the menu, and it was as though I could read his mind. The hand in his pocket was no doubt assessing how many euros he had and whether he could afford the expensive bistro which the Lonely Planet recommended as a “must-do.” Again, his eyes scanned the packed restaurant, and the waiters were too busy to notice his dilemma.

To this day, I do not know what made me do it. I, who had wanted anonymity, to get away from the oppressive togetherness of a competitive sports team in a foreign country. I, who desperately needed time to straighten out my head. I, who definitely did not need any distractions in my life. I rose from my seat and beckoned for the stranger to join me at the intimate table with its white tablecloth, the vase with lavender, and the table-setting for two.

About the Author:Aiden Ainslie lives in the Diablo foothills, east of San Francisco. He grew up in various small towns and loves to draw on that small-town feel for his romances: the sense of community but also the petty grievances, intrigue and rivalries. “An author has to draw on personal experience to create authentic stories.”

According to Aiden, setting and mood are critical parts of a romantic story, hence he is always taking pictures of romantic settings to be used in future novels. Check them out on his website.

When Aiden is not writing or listening to audiobooks, he likes to cycle and hike. During those solitary pursuits, he dreams up the characters and plots for his MM Romance novels. He also enjoys zipping around town on his motor scooter, drinking coffee at the local coffee shops, and watching people to get inspiration for his writing.

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Welcome to Wonderland by Bobbie Candas – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Bobbie Candas 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.

A recently fired biologist with mommy issues, a successful entrepreneur with a dead wife, and an immigrant hiding from gang violence…These three have only one thing in common.

They’re all screwed up

Biology researcher, Violet Hill, was just let go and is devastated. She found the solitary lab and long hours the ideal respite for her anxiety issues–doing meaningful work while avoiding people and conversation. Now unemployed, with diminishing finances, Violet is forced to face the enemy, her mother.

For years, Turner Cooper was consumed with building his company’s client roster, until the sudden death of his wife throws him totally off kilter. Now, instead of work, Turner’s guilt and alcohol issues consume him.

Living a reclusive life in Dallas, Rosario Guzman is hiding from a Mexican cartel while working in the shadows at three part-time jobs. Finally, the item she covets the most, a Green Card, arrives in her mailbox. But Rosario quickly realizes the paper card doesn’t solve all her problems.

While navigating social issues, private demons, and nightmare memories, these three lives collide as they find each other at a place none of them ever imagined they’d be working at. As their mutual relationship evolves, Violet, Turner and Rosario lean into each other and unexpectedly find their lives unfurling in remarkable and magical ways.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Violet is Blue
Violet Hill

Mother considers me awkward, graceless, and socially challenged, but always has hope for improvement. I disagree and think of myself as critically shy. Is there such a diagnosis? I’ve learned I do best when I can control limited social encounters. That’s why I’m better working alone, in a world I’m comfortable and familiar with, the study of soil, seeds, and grasses.

I’ve been working as a research assistant with Dr. William Hirshfield. After finishing my masters at UT in Austin, I gratefully found my hidey-hole at the UT School of Environmental Sciences. After being hired, I realized it was the perfect job for me. For a year, we’ve been running experiments and collecting data on soil absorption, attempting to come up with a microbial substance that will turn arid lands into potential blooming fields of agriculture. All well and good for keeping me in my cozy, solitary research lab, but with the added bonus of working toward saving a warm and crowded planet.

Then yesterday happened.

Dr. Hirshfield called me unexpectedly to meet in his office. We normally only met every two weeks for consultations on experiments. I sat down across from his desk, with my sweating palms gripping the arm rests of the chair. The meeting opened with congenial small-talk. I said, “Hello.”

As with most people I conversed with, I found it difficult looking at Hirshfield when he spoke. Today I found his floorboards especially interesting. Wide wood panels which had me wondering, were they deliberately distressed or actually marred from age? As he shuffled papers on his desk I reached down and touched the floor. Definitely faux distressed.

He nervously coughed and then continued, “Violet, I must say, your work has been exemplary, but…”

Oh shit… The proverbial but. I shuddered slightly.

As I pretended to be intrigued with the floor, Hirshfield said, “I’m afraid I have some bad news to share.” He coughed again. “I’ll just get right to it. I hate to tell you this, but our next year of NIH funding has been cut. They haven’t renewed the terms of our project at the previous level and claim our results are not going as quickly as we initially projected.”

He seemed to be talking to himself now, explaining his problems to the ceiling as my eyes nervously flitted up occasionally to watch. “Seems our study is on the low end of their priority scale regarding research grant money. But our idea has so much merit! It dovetails perfectly with climate change issues and food production for overpopulated areas. Anyway…it’s probably all politics. Therefore—” He coughed a third time. Nervous tick or avoidance? Either way, not a good sign. “I’m having to cut most of my research staff, including your position.”

Please no. Had I heard correctly? I was praying he’d single me out as too good to let go. But of course not. My eyes became moist and my body went cold. I had finally found my place in this chaotic world, my comfy, musty den. Where I could reach my fingers deep into sandy soil and disappear into another world within my microscope. I’d clock in for hours of uninterrupted work, eat a sandwich over my work station by myself, needing to only interact with others regarding information I was knowledgeable about.

Now apparently all that was gone.

And what remained? Going home to Mother? I was devastated. I felt like laying down on those faux floorboards and curling up in a ball.

“Dr. Hirshfield, p-perhaps p-part-time. Tw-Twenty-five hours a week?”

In case you missed that, I have a noticeable stutter, which seems to come into full bloom during times of stress.

“I only wish that were possible, Violet. The grant has been downgraded to include lab equipment, supplies, and compensation for only a few key personnel. I’m so sorry. This has all come as quite a surprise. So, we’re making adjustments immediately; I can keep you for another two weeks. I wanted you to hear it from me, personally.”

I mumbled, “Th-Thank you,” then stood up, wrapped my arms across my chest, and meekly asked about a possible reference letter. He went back to shuffling papers and nodded, agreeing to my simple request. I quickly walked out with my head down, making my exit before he had the chance to shake my perspiring palm.

I spent the next few weeks desperately attempting to find a position with another research team within the department. There were several available for volunteer and credit work, but all paid positions were fully staffed. Although my educational credentials were excellent, my interviewing skills were a little shaky. I considered customer service positions, but they never seemed a good match, and I truly wanted to continue within my field of study.

At the end of the two-week period, I decided to call in for financial reinforcement. Via email, I sent my mother news of the change in job status, then requested funds to keep me in Austin while I continued to look for work, but instead of an electronic deposit, she offered this:

Dear Violet,
So sorry to hear about your job loss. I know you’ve been happy with your little research position. Sometimes these minor hiccups work out for the best. I think you need more stimulation and interaction in your work. When I visited, your lab job seemed so sterile and lonely. I’m sure I can line something up for you through my contacts in Dallas. Come home, darling. The guest house was recently redone and you’re welcome to use it. It’ll be fun hanging out together again. I believe I’ll call Lexy and see if she can revise her schedule and set aside sessions for you. What day should I expect you? Can’t wait to catch up! –Mother

She was not going to be sympathetic to my cause. I made a second stab at job hunting, knowing it was only a delay tactic. Was I being an ungrateful little bitch? Sort of. But I knew I’d have to deal with my mother’s incessant smiling face, popping in without warning, spewing false cheer, urging me to conform to her standards, and always sending out subliminal messages regarding her underlying sense of disappointment in me.

It had been five years since I’d lived at home. My first year in the dorms had been a disaster. I was happier on my own, renting an apartment for three years while earning my bachelor’s and another two for my masters, comfortably surviving in my small, quiet efficiency.

In contrast, Mother’s home was palatial, but for me it was a luxurious prison sitting on a green oak-studded hill overlooking White Rock Lake in Dallas.

I dragged out my move. I felt no incentive to rush home knowing what lay ahead; struggling through painful interviews, going through clothing issues and social events with Mother. Yes, still a tender issue at age twenty-four. Then, once again, I’d start sessions with my speech therapist, Lexy.

Unfortunately, research assistant’s pay was low, Austin rents were high, and the guest house at Mother’s was free. Economically, it made sense. Emotionally, I was an unhappy wreck.

And who could I complain to? Call 911 — My mother is inviting me to move into her newly renovated guest quarters. Put her on trial? — She insists on buying me new clothing suggested by her personal shopper at Neiman’s. Lock her up? — She’s offering me therapy for an affliction which admittedly has recently become worse.

I was a pathetic whiner. Time to get up, pack it in, and get moving.

About the Author:

Bobbie Candas lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, Mehmet Candas, a stray gray cat, and a jealous tabby who does not enjoy sharing affection with the interloper. Bobbie attended The University of Texas in Austin, earning her degree in journalism. She took a detour with a career in retail management, and found her happy place when she returned to writing fiction about nine years ago.

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Cover Reveal: Once Upon a Halloween Night


We are so excited to share the cover for the upcoming Halloween anthology, Once Upon a Halloween Night. We’ve got eight brand-new, sexy novellas just waiting for you to sink your teeth into. Keep reading for more details.


You’ve been invited to attend the exclusive Once Upon A Halloween Night bash. This year, join us in New Orleans Warehouse District on Halloween Night for an evening of fun, costumes and… romance?

Wait. What?
That’s right.
The Indie Pen PR and Beyond the Bookshelf Publishing is proud to host Lauren Helms, Aubree Valentine, Kate Stacy, Mel Walker, Susan Renee, Kartina Marie, Courtney W. Dixon, and Louise Lennox – in this fun Halloween romance anthology.

So, throw on your best costume and get ready to sit back and enjoy eight brand new novellas to celebrate spooky season with a romantic twist.

Pre-Order At
Your Favorite Retailers!

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About Lauren Helms

Lauren Helms is a romance author her nerdy and flirty contemporary words. Lauren has forever been an avid reader from the beginning. After starting
a book review website, that catapulted her fully into the book world, she knew that something was missing. While working for a video game strategy guide publisher, she decided to mix what she knew best–video games and romance. She decided to take the plunge and write her first novel, Level Me Up. Several published novels later, Lauren created PR company, Indie Pen PR, to help other authors promote their books.

Lauren lives in Indianapolis, Indiana sharing her love of books and video games with her own Gamer Boy husband and three young kid nerds who will
hopefully grow up to share the love of things that united Lauren and her husband on their own happily ever after.

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About Kate Stacy

Author of emotionally-gripping, contemporary romance, Kate Stacy’s novels feature sassy heroines, swoony heroes, life, love, friendship, and all the angst.
When she’s not writing or spending time with her family and friends in small-town North Carolina, Kate can most likely be found nose deep in her Kindle. She stays up too late, swears too much, and loves too hard.

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About Katrina Marie

Katrina Marie lives in the Dallas area with her husband, two children, bonus child, grandchild, and fur babies. She is a lover of all things geeky and nerdy.
When she’s not writing you can find her at her children’s sporting events, curled up reading a book, or binge watching her favorite shows.

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About Courtney W. Dixon

Courtney W. Dixon loves to write steamy romance, but in each story, she gives her character’s challenges and struggles. She writes m/f and m/m stories within one series to add a variety to her characters. And she writes her characters as having flaws, imperfections, and who don’t always do the right thing. Humans are never perfect, and make a lot of mistakes in their lives. In the end, she tries to help them grow to be better as they achieve their HEAs.

You can find Courtney working in Central Texas with her husband, two boys, and two crazy dogs, none of whom know how to knock on a door while she’s working.

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About Aubree Valentine

Aubree Valentine began her book world career back in 2016 as a virtual assistant for a friend/author and as a book blogger. While working with authors, PR companies, and fellow bloggers, she fell even more in love with the Indie community and decided to launch her own small scale PR company where she continued to hone her skills as a virtual assistant to several authors and studied the ins and outs of what it takes to help succeed in the industry.

Aubree doesn’t always hang out behind the scenes though and has put her business knowledge to good use for herself as well. Her first book, Take
Back My Heart, was released in the fall of 2016, with its follow-up – Come Back to Me launching a year later.

When she’s not working with her favorite clients, you can find her penning fun and flirty stories about all of her imaginary and very smexy alphas. This
includes her current and most popular series, Too Hot To Handle.

Aubree has a degree in sarcasm and resides in Pennsylvania. She enjoys reading, chasing after her twins and her three furbabies, cuddling with her husband, and coming up with new project ideas that often involve power tools.

She’s usually always online via Facebook or Instagram


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About Mel Walker

Mel Walker has been writing fiction most of his adult life. Specializing in Short Stories and Contemporary fiction and Romance Novels. A native New Yorker and life-long frustrated NY Mets fan. He loves to write about ordinary people placed in difficult situations, especially as it relates to their closest relationships.

Mel Walker is a rare bird, the male romance author. Specializing in heartfelt small town romance, he enjoys telling compelling romances with all the feels. A native New Yorker and life-long frustrated NY Mets fan, he enjoys long walks, bike rides and taking in the energy of the city.

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About Susan Renee

Susan Renee wants to live in a world where paint doesn’t smell, Hogwarts is open twenty-four/seven, and everything is covered in glitter. An indie romance author, Susan has written about everything from tacos to tow-trucks, loves writing romantic comedies but also enjoys creating an emotional angsty story from time to time. She lives in Ohio with her husband, kids, two dogs and a cat. Susan holds a Bachelor and Masters Degree in Music Education and a self-awarded Doctorate in Sass and Sarcasm. She enjoys laughing at memes, speaking in GIFs and spending an entire day jumping down the TikTok
rabbit hole. When she’s not writing or playing the role of Mom, her favorite activity is doing the Care Bear stare with her closest friends.

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About Louise Lennox

Contemporary romance Author Louise Lennox is a hopeful romantic writing steamy romances full of heart and healing. A Spelman College and Georgetown University graduate,Louise provides women with diverse and meaningful representation in romance novel pages. Not seeing enough women like herself headlining positive love stories, she launched #HappyBlackRomance; a community of readers and writers committed to the creation and sharing of positive romance stories featuring Black heroines.

Louise Lennox plots highlight the joys of Black relationships across the diaspora; pushing readers from all cultural backgrounds to admire them for their strength and downright sexiness. In her novels sparks always fly; the sex amazes; and the characters always leave the world better than they found it through their love.

When she’s not writing, Louise is enjoying her work as a school leader, wife, and mother of the two cutest dragons to ever walk the earth!

To learn more about #HappyBlackRomance and to score a free book or two, check out her website www.lovelouiselennox.com.

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Ten Favorite Romantic Screen Couples by Gayle Feyrer – Guest Post and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a $20 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn host. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Ten Favorite Romantic Screen Couples

Phaedra: On my favorite movies ever. Most gorgeous love scene ever. Movie that’s influenced my writing the most. Gorgeous score. Great acting. A love to burn the world down.

Blast From the Past: Adam, the hero (who’s lived in a bomb shelter all his life) is adorable, so innocent, so honest, and so open to the beauty of the world. Brendan Fraser, a superb actor in both comedy and drama, captures this charm and whimsy to perfection. And he can dance! Alicia Silverstone but she makes a good Eve, a bit shallow and jaded when she meets Adam, but essentially honest and loving like him, so I do love them as a couple.

Here’s the spectacular dance scene—Eve is helping Adam find a girlfriend. She tells him to be funny but expects him to be hopeless.

Romeo and Juliet: Zefferelli’s, not Baz Lurhman’s slight lunatic version. Except that Zefferelli cut too much of the actual text, it’s perfection. Beautiful and heartbreaking.

The meeting, set to the beautiful prophetic song.

Sense and Sensibility: What a pile of fantastic relationships. Elinor and Edward so adorable and the proposal scene makes me cry every time. I love that Alan Rickman wipes out the two handsomer actors with the intensity and tenderness of his love for Marianne. And even though Willoughby gets his just desserts, he’s still a delightfully sexy presence before he deserts. I think this is a perfect film, beautifully written, cast, directed.

Willoughby looks like the winner at first:

Pride and Prejudice: I’m fond of several! Sorry, I do not like Colin Firth as Darcy, though I appreciate the production as a whole and love Jennifer Ehle’s Elizabeth. My favorite Darcy is Laurence Olivier because, well, pride. Greer Garson is marvelous in the banter scenes, but fails to deliver a real depth of emotion. It’s got a great script but the production is too silly overall. But it has enough good points I return to it often.

But my favorite Lizzy is Lily James in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I really love Lizzy best, but Darcy’s transformation is wonderful.

Here’s the hilarious proposal scene:

Best version overall for me is the Keira Knightly film. I do love the Bröntesque feel, even if Austin would probably not approve. This version plays the physical attraction between Elizabeth and Darcy more than any other. I certainly responded to the sexual tension but I did miss the verbal banter and meeting of minds that other versions do better.

Bound: Corky and Violet, Woo! Pretty hard to find a scene that isn’t too steamy to post. It’s a great thriller and I love both women.

Who Am I This Time: I’ve watched this endless times. Christopher Walken and Susan Sarandon are fabulous as two lonely souls who find each other through acting. It’s a pity Walken didn’t get more romantic comedy when he was young and beautiful.

Full movie:

Luther (and Alice): This wasn’t on my list at first. It’s TV, so that’s one reason why. But then I added my beloved Who Am I This Time, which was an hour drama for American Comedy Theatre. And for what I watch over and over – and over and over – for sexual tension and a fascinating emotional relationship, Luther and Alice are way up at the top of the list. Do I believe a psychopath can fall in love? Probably not. Do I believe that Alice falls in love with Luther and Luther comes to love her? Yes. I do have to wonder if one of them would have ended up killing the other though. I couldn’t find their first scene, the interview, but this one is good at showing the game playing though you’ll have to watch the show to really get it.

La Femme Nikita (and Michael): So, doing TV and yes, another all time favorite couple. A wonderful attraction of opposites. They are both forced to serve Section One or be killed. Nikita constantly fights to keep her soul. Michael is convinced he doesn’t have one anymore but holds on to Nickita because she will be his soul, his conscience for him. I was going to write an Elizabethan historical romance that was basically a La Femme Nikita story. Instead, after many mutations, Michael and Nikita transformed into Michel and Theo in Floats the Dark Shadow. Without being captives of Section One, they had to change greatly, no longer captive spies but independent cop and artist at odds, detecting a murder.

The Last of the Mohicans: I wavered a lot on a final movie pick—really too many to chose from. Casablanca and its reverse, The English Patient. Notting Hill. Something New. But I love both Cora and Hawkeye, and even if action dominates the movie their love story is still at the center. Daniel Day Lewis is truly extraordinary in it.

The trailer:

Love scene at the fort:

Warrior. Spy. Marian Montrose dons silk or chain mail with equal aplomb. Sent by Queen Eleanor on a mission to Nottingham, Marian is waylaid in Sherwood Forest by the infamous Robin Hood. Her companions are stripped of their riches, but from her, Robin steals only one brazen kiss.

Seething with anger at the thief’s presumption and the haunting memory of his searing embrace, Marian arrives at the castle to find the sophisticated and seductive Sir Guy of Guisbourne a welcome distraction. Guisbourne would be the perfect ally against the Sheriff and Prince John but he believes he’s already picked the winning side. Deft at games of intrigue, Marian discovers Guisbourne’s involved in plans to steal the ransom meant to free King Richard the Lionheart.

Conquering her misgivings, Marian returns to Sherwood and recruits Robin with the promise of a pardon for him and his men. Now they are allies in the fight to return the king, but Robin wants far more from Marian. First she resists his almost magical allure, then succumbs, then resists again, distrusting the elemental power he has over her. Guisbourne may be lethally dangerous, but Robin threatens to consume both her body and her soul.

Danger surrounds them. Betrayal separates them. But desire—and fate—will not be denied.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Simon of Vitry was a dead man. His rush was telling on him. In his eagerness for the kill, Vitry had expended too much energy. As he thrust at her again, he stumbled over a root. He recouped before she could counterattack, but Marian regained her balance and her surety. She saw that the great sword had grown heavy for him, showing its weight in his faltering backhand. Deliberately she edged around him, letting him follow with his strongest cuts, then quickly reversed direction, playing to his weakest maneuver. The backslash came at her, aiming to open her chest. She brought her own sword under his blade and turned it, then instantly drove her point home, taking him deep in the belly. Vitry screamed, surprise and outrage rising to a shrilling agony as she pulled her weapon free. With a surge of cold triumph she saw him fall to the ground. He lay at her feet, clutching the wound and thrashing. She did not answer when he begged her for his death.

Implacable as fate, Marian sat by the edge of the pool and watched Vitry die, wondering if her father had taken as long. After an hour it was over. Rising, she went to stand over his corpse. Though all around the bright May greenery fluttered in the breeze, looking down on him she felt encompassed by winter.

About the Author:Gayle Feyrer began drawing as soon as she could hold a crayon and writing when she was twelve. She holds a Bachelor’s in Pictorial Arts from UCLA, and MFA from the University of Oregon in Creative Writing. In her varied career, she has been a tie dye artist, go-go dancer, baker, creator of ceramic beasties, illustrator, fiction teacher, and finally, novelist. A Libra with Scorpio Rising, Gayle’s romantic nature takes on a darker edge. She hopes these shadows bring depth to her romances.

A world traveler, Gayle has visited Paris, England and Italy numerous times. She lived for two years in Jakarta, Indonesia, with many trips around Asia. She currently resides across the bridge from San Francisco, with her husband and their two rescue cats, Charlotte and Emily, the Flying Bronte sisters, half Siamese and half tabby.

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Interview: Rosemary Morris

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Rosemary Morris. As a child, Rosemary had a vivid imagination and deep interest in history, which transformed into writing historical fiction. She was blessed with a vivid imagination from early childhood and wrote stories as soon as she could handle a pencil and paper In her late teens, she started writing novels and began to think of herself as a writer.

After a long, hard struggle, Sunday’s Child, the first in the Heroines Born on Different Days of the Week series was published. There are currently four books in the series.

She’s recently started a novel set in Madras and England. It begins in the 1800’s, with a cast of ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ and will be published by Books We Love in October 2024.

Rosemary told me that she often gets and idea for a plot from historical non-fiction.

“I spend a long time thinking about it before I jot ideas to develop it,” she explained. “Characters pop into my mind, then I become acquainted with my characters through detailed profiles I can refer to.”

Rosemary converted her smallest bedroom into a study which has a large bookcase three quarters full of non-fiction for historical research. From her seat at a large desk, she has a view of her organic garden, the park, and the woods beyond it. In the downstairs area, she has a moveable table with a narrow top for her laptop and a comfortable recliner in her living room. There are comfortable sofas, another bookcase, houseplants, large mirrors and paintings on the walls.

I asked her what her writing day was like.

“I wake up at 5 or 6 a.m. say my prayers, meditate, then read and study The Bhagavadgita As It Is by His Holiness A.C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada or another scripture. At 7 a.m. I check my Facebook messages and e-mails. At about 7.30 I work on a new novel until 10 a.m. when I have breakfast, then do household chores, garden, shop and carry out other tasks. At 5 p.m. I critique chapters for members of a historical critique group, or apply a critique of my current chapter, and deal with ‘writerly’ business.”

When Rosemary is not engrossed in research, she reads fiction or deals with the business side of writing. She also works in her organic garden where she reaps the rewards of growing herbs she uses in cooking, to promote good health and cure minor ailments. She puts her home-grown soft fruit, stone fruit, and vegetables to good use in the vegetarian food she cookes. She also enjoys knitting and other crafts when she has time, or visiting stately homes and other places of historical interest, as well as museums.

“However, time spent with my family is the most precious,” she assured me.

Finally, I asked, “If you had to do your journey to getting published all over again, what would you do differently?”

“It is not enough to have a promising idea for a novel without knowing how it should be written. I would study books on how to write and join a writer’s group on or offline which offered constructive criticism. Also, I would have searched the Writers and Artists’ Yearbook to find an agent or publisher who might accept my novel.”

In March 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from exile in Elba. In Brussels, 18 year-old Helen Whitley knows war between France, Britain and her allies, is inevitable. A talented artist, she is aware of the anxiety and fear underlying the balls, breakfasts, parties, picnics and soirees held by the British Brussels. She paints scenes in which she captures the emotions of daily life during the hundred days before the Battle at Waterloo while waiting for Major, Viscount Langley, to arrive in Brussels and ask her to be his wife. Before Langley leaves England to join his regiment in Belgium, he visits his ancestral home, to inform his parents that he intends to marry Helen. They are bankrupt so he cannot ask Helen to marry him and her pride does not allow her to reveal the misery caused by Langley’s rejection.

About the Author: At heart I am a historian. My classic/historical romantic fiction is set in England during the reigns of Edward II, Queen Anne Stuart 1702-1714, and the Regency era. I explore themes 21st century people can relate to e.g., a soldier suffering from posttraumatic syndrome before the condition was diagnosed, a young woman seeking her birth parents, a city on the verge of war. My novels are meticulously researched to capture times past – culture, fashion, food, customs and much more. My late 20th century novel, Indira and Daisy is a view of two vastly diverse cultures shown through two fourteen-year-old girls who live in England. The Hindu and English backgrounds, religion, clothes, food and drink, bring their story to vibrant life.

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Beards and Babies by Heather Lauren – Spotlight

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Heather Lauren who is celebrating the recent release of Beards and Babies, a Man of the Month book.

I haven’t seen Soren Mathews in ten years, but he draws me right back under his spell. We spend one stormy night together living out our teenage fantasies and in the morning, he’s gone again, leaving me to think about him and the secret I’m keeping. Readers who enjoy romance with childhood crushes and one night stands will love Beards & Babies by Heather Lauren, a steamy, small town, brother’s best friend, beach romance.

The bare naked buns of my brother’s best friend greet me in Florida.

I haven’t seen Soren Mathews since the most embarrassing night of my life. Now ten years older, he’s all grizzly man. With a sexy beard and new scars, he draws me right back under his spell.

For one night the storm keeps us under the same roof and we finally live out all our teenage fantasies and secret desires. But the sea calls him the next morning and he’s gone.

I try to move forward with a new life in Candy Cane Key, but I can’t stop thinking about him. I can’t seem to eat and all I want to do is sleep. I’m restless and lost until he comes back and by then we’ve both got secrets we’ve been keeping.

Enjoy an Excerpt

The place is quiet and never fails to bring a strong since of comfort every time I walk through the doors. I kick out of my shoes and wet sweater and make my way for the master shower. The house is huge and technically has four master bedrooms and three smaller bedrooms. My family bought it back in the nineties with their best friends and our two families have been vacationing here ever since.

Bonnie and Carl Mathews and of course, Soren.

A man who haunts my wet dreams to this very fucking day but couldn’t be more off limits. After a terribly embarrassing incident when I was eighteen, I’ve avoided my childhood crush completely.

Until right this second.

I think a squeak comes out of my mouth or maybe its a moan. Either way my feet are firmly fused to the floor as I stare shocked and honestly in awe of the gorgeous man in front of me.

“Robin!” He shouts in obvious surprise.

Suddenly I regret avoiding this moment for so long. Seeing him. Not just his amazing body. Holy hell the man was chiseled. No, seeing him instantly feels like a balm to my ever spiraling anxiety. After a fast sweep down where my eyeballs absolutely do not belong, I lock eyes with his deep brown ones.

“Hey.” I say like an idiot. It’s just so good to see him.

I nervous laugh but turn around quickly, closing the door behind me.

Oh holy hell Bateman.

That man is cut. Muscles on every inch of him. Decorated in black ink and he has the sexy v thing I thought only existed in magazines.

About the Author Heather is a Polly Pocket-size mom of three with a burly hubby and hairy husky. They live in sunny Arizona where she writes steamy contemporary romance and romantic comedies. Her books feature beefy cinnamon roll heroes (often bearded), dirty talking alphas, and adorkable, strong heroines full of sass. Each one guarantees, good laughs and epic Happily Ever Afters.

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A Simple Life by Tory Richards – Guest Blog + FREE Book

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Tory Richards, who is celebrating the recent release of Doc, the eighth book in the Desert Rebels MC series.

A Simple Life
Some of you may relate to this. When I first retired after working for forty something years, I had a hard time adjusting. I didn’t retire because I wanted to, I had to because of a disability. So, for a while there I felt lost. I felt lazy and useless. But once I embraced not working anymore things gradually began to change. I found myself enjoying my freedom. I could travel when I wanted. Take naps, stay up late and sleep in. I spent a lot of time with my grandchildren. Suddenly life was good again!

Now it’s my mission to keep my life as simple as possible. I’ve downsized considerably. Heck, if I downsize anymore, I’ll be living in my car. I was big on material things when I had the room but now I live with my daughter and her family. I have my own area in the house, and it reflects my tastes and likes, just less of it. My cats and I are content, and I have my vintage Etsy shop and writing to keep me busy.

Speaking of writing…

I want to tell you about my newest release, which came out on August 1. Doc, book 8 of my Desert Rebels MC series, may or may not be the ending of the series. Book 1, Cole, is free if you want a taste of what the Desert Rebels is about. The short version is that the series is about a motorcycle club. There’s a new hero and heroine in each book who get their HEA ending, and I recommend the series be read in order.

Doc has been a member of the Desert Rebels for a long time. He had his own clinic until a sweet, beautiful nurse came on board and ruined everything. Harlow is married and a complication Doc didn’t need. He tried; he really did. But after a while he couldn’t stand working beside a woman he wanted more than he needed air to breathe.

Giving his practice up seemed the only logical solution, but life has a way of kicking you in the ass when you least expect it. Harlow becomes friends with some of the old ladies and suddenly she’s frequenting the clubhouse and club owned bar. There’s only one way Doc can survive being around her.
Make the beauty hate him any way he can.

Enjoy an Excerpt

We were quaking with passion, unwilling and unable to break apart. Tasting her was like taking a hit of the strongest drug in existence, like something new and wicked. Addicting. As our tongues engaged in a rhythm of give and take, there was no way to determine which one of us was more demanding. We ground our mouths together, wet and sloppy and so fucking hot, until the need to breathe won out and we pulled apart, sucking in loud mouthfuls of air to fill our starved lungs.

“Fuck, that got out of control fast,” I rasped, burying my face into the side of Harlow’s neck. She smelled like sunshine and flowers. “I wasn’t expecting you to reciprocate so enthusiastically. Thought I’d have a fight on my hands.”

A short laugh escaped Harlow. “You’re the only man who’s ever kissed me like that,” she admitted in a breathless tone.

I leaned back to check out her expression to see if she was disappointed by how rough and demanding I’d been, but all I saw was smokey heat in her eyes. Her beautiful face was flushed with color, her mouth swollen and wet. I relaxed when I felt the subtle nudge of her hips against me as if she couldn’t help but do it. A feral smile spread across my face when I thrust right back.

“You don’t even like me,” she said after a minute of silence.

*Warning, may have triggers for some readers.

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Avery Sterling – Interview and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Avery Sterling, who is celebrating yesterday’s release of Precious Benefits. Leave a message or ask the author a question for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card.

Avery started reading historical romances when she was a young teen and was captivated by the storytelling – the settings, the tropes, the drama, etc.

“I was fascinated by the author’s ability to create an environment in which I could immerse myself completely,” she explained. “I loved being alongside characters, watching their relationship develop through a series of trials and tribulations. That stoked my initial desire to weave a memorable tale. We never know how stories will stand the test of time, but their lasting impressions have been the fuel for my books going forward.”

In her mid-teens her addiction shifted from reading romances to writing them. Even though there were many authors she admired, she wanted to create her own characters. So, she began researching history, character development, etc, and wrote her first novel. She’s dabbled writing other genres, but told me that she eventually accepted the fact that no matter what she starts out to write, it turns into a romance.

“It’s been over 25 years now, and I’ve been writing ever since,” she told me.

Avery considers herself more of a pantser than a plotter. She will have a vague roadmap – one that begin with an idea that sparked while she was driving, listening to music, or some other activity.

“It’s often just one scene,” she said, “but within that scene are the characters’ actions and emotions. I feel it, and I have to get that out.”

Music is her greatest inspiration, but what she listens to varies. Most of the time, she’ll listen to whatever has inspired her WIP either partially or for the entirety of writing the story. The end of one of her books was inspired by Yiruma’s “River Flows in You”, and she listened to it while writing the end.

“One of my other books was sparked by Sia’s House on Fire,” she said. “I listened to it on repeat for hours, unto months. During that time, my earbuds broke, but my family quickly replaced them.”

She is currently writing a book set in Ireland, during the Restoration period. A young woman, keeping her pagan roots alive, is tried as a witch and sentenced to death by Cromwellian soldiers. This puts her at the mercy of a Royalist who was rewarded her family’s land for his loyalty to the monarchy.

Writing is not the only creative outlet she has. When she’s not writing, she like to make soap, candles, salves, and things of that sort. She is also passionate about holistic healing.

“What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?” I wondered.

“In my opinion, simplicity. Einstein said, ‘If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.’ You have to understand the story you’re writing, the message. Right down to the meat and bones. Another important element for me is emotional intelligence.”

“If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?”

“That old couple I gave directions to, five years ago. I never give directions, I’m not qualified on any level. I should’ve said “Sorry, I can’t help you.” But I didn’t. To my everlasting shame, I directed them. I’ll never know where they ended up.”

Finally, I asked, “What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?”

“I can’t stress enough how tempting it is to quit. Doubt and fear can be daunting, but being a writer isn’t something that you become. It’s something that you are. That gift (or curse—however you see it) will continue to revisit you, so embrace it. Find the tools that you need to express yourself in your own, unique way. That’s a great accomplishment in itself.”

Sarafina di Ramonicci sets sail for America as the promised bride in an arranged political marriage.

Taken prisoner at sea, she clashes with her captor and demands freedom, only to discover he is planning her future husband’s demise, with her as a pawn in their deadly feud. The challenge of escape tests her loyalty to family, human decency, and love.

Captain Nye Tarquin is a dangerous man. Left to die on the streets of New Orleans, he swears retribution on the man responsible. When he makes Sarafina part of his plan, he isn’t prepared for the fiery vixen aboard his ship, nor his desire to claim her as his own. When passion overtakes honor, he’s torn between his heart and his need for justice.

About the Author: Avery Sterling’s love for the romance genre began in her teen years when she picked up her first novel. She was captivated by the sweeping scale of emotions brought about by the words. The experience catapulted her towards learning the art of wielding a breathtaking adventure, with a love that felt authentic. Wanting to inspire people with her own thoughts and words, she finished her first novel at sixteen. It was a step towards understanding the essence of what she wished to create. Most of her youth was spent traveling, searching out the romance and beauty in her everchanging world. From the waves that crashed against the rocky shores of Downeast, Maine, to the warm breezes of the Caribbean, she discovered that love was universal, apparent in its grandest and simplest of forms. Her goal is to write novels an audience can relate to, one that conveys the truth and nature of love… with all that steamy romance.

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The Take That Ride Playlist by Meg Benjamin – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Meg Benjamin will award a $15 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The Take That Ride Playlist

Take That Ride, my newest Konigsburg book, is all about music. In particular, it’s all about Texas Americana music. My hero, Coy Blackburn, is a touring musician trying to get his musical groove back. My heroine, Lexi Markham, has been hired to drive Coy and his band around town. When Coy discovers a premium collection of country and folk albums from the seventies at Lexi’s house (they belonged to her late mom), he’s a happy man. And he’s doubly happy when he and Lexi make some sweet music of their own. The music they listen to plays a big part in their story, so I made up a playlist of some particularly important songs. You can find it here.

I won’t go through everything on the list, but here are some highlights.

1. Take That Ride. All my Konigsburg books are named after songs, and this is Emmylou Harris’s lovely song about a woman trying to decide if it’s time to move on. But to me it’s a broader question than that. Both my characters are trying to decide if it’s time to take that ride. To take the next step in their lives and their relationships. In a way, that’s the central question in most romances, and their decision to go for it is what makes the story move.

2. Ain’t Livin’ Long Like This. A Waylon Jennings standard that Coy is trying to do as a duet with his opening act, Marcia Mills. They can’t quite get it to work until fate presents them with a surprising new guitarist who leads the way. This version is by guitar virtuoso Daniel Donato, who sounds a lot like my character Danny the roadie.

3. Mr. Bojangles. Coy plays this beautiful David Bromberg version of the Jerry Jeff Walker song when he visits Lexi’s place for the first time, and it forms a bond between them. It also represents what he’s after in his time singing at the Faro tavern in Konigsburg since he really wants someone to play the Bromberg guitar line while he sings, and he finally gets it right.

4. Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys. Yes, the Willie Nelson classic. Coy sings it because he thinks even Lexi will recognize it, and he’s sort of stunned when she gets tearful. She tells him she was remembering how her father and mother danced to that song at her sister’s wedding, and how happy they were. “I think that’s what music’s supposed to do, sort of,” she says. “Make you think. Make you feel.” An idea Coy takes to heart.

5. I Threw It All Away. Ever have a song come on the radio that suddenly sums up everything you’re feeling, everything you’re worried about? This Dylan song does that on the last night Coy and Lexi are together. Coy keeps trying to convince her and himself that he’ll come back, that he won’t forget what they have together. The Dylan song comes across as a warning—don’t blow this! Don’t give up on what they might be able to create. But circumstances may override whatever the two of them want.

6. On the Road Again. This Willie song doesn’t actually show up in Take That Ride, but it’s still got resonance. In the end, Coy’s got a tour to finish. But now he’s got something else, too. And yes, he wants to get back on the road again, with Lexi.

Since I love Americana music, I had a great time writing Take That Ride. And I hope this playlist will make it easier for non-fans to experience the music along with my characters. Here’s hoping it’s a hit. Happy listening, y’all!

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They’ve only got a week. They need to make it count.

Coy Blackburn is an up-and-coming country singer, but right now he feels more like he’s down-and-going. He’s at the end of a long tour, and his band is dragging. A week-long gig at the Faro tavern in Konigsburg, Texas, may get them back on their feet or it may be a disaster. For Coy, it feels like it could go either way.

Lexi Markham is living life on auto-pilot at the moment. As the main driver at her family’s tour business, she spends her days taking tourists around the Texas wineries and trying to get over her breakup with her lying fiancé. Now her sister has booked her to drive a country band around town, and she’s definitely not feeling it.

When Coy and Lexi meet, sparks fly—and not it a good way. Still, trust the power of music (and a back country cloudburst) to overcome a few bumps in the road. But can they even think about the future when they’ve only got a few days together?

Enjoy an Excerpt

Lexi propped herself against the doorway watching the band slide into the complete number. After a moment, Deirdre stepped up behind her. Lexi didn’t recognize the music the band was playing, but it must be one of their regulars, given the easy way they seemed to be moving through the verse. As if they felt comfortable with what they were doing. After they’d played a few minutes that were strictly instrumental, Coy stepped to the microphone and began to sing.

The words weren’t familiar, but she found herself listening closely. Something about a couple that had broken up but still had feelings for each other. The man in the song missed the way they’d been together, even though he didn’t exactly miss the woman herself. It was a complicated kind of lyric, a lot more complex than she might have expected.

Lexi wasn’t sure if she’d heard Coy sing before or not. The last time she’d heard them rehearse, she hadn’t paid much attention. She was fairly certain now she’d never really heard him sing. His voice was deep and resonant, but not exactly a bass. More like baritone. Something about the way Coy sang those complicated lyrics began to reach deep into her senses. He wasn’t really living the song, but he made her feel as if the feelings he described weren’t totally unfamiliar. As if he knew how to make her feel them, too.

A shiver traveled up her backbone, and her arms seemed to tingle. She checked to see if she had gooseflesh.

About the Author Meg Benjamin is an award-winning author of romance. Meg’s Konigsburg series is set in the Texas Hill Country and her Salt Box and Brewing Love trilogies are set in the Colorado Rockies (all are available from Entangled Publishing and from Meg’s indie line). Her new cozy mystery series, Luscious Delights from Wild Rose Press, concerns a jam-making sleuth based in the mythical small town of Shavano, Colorado. Along with contemporary romance, Meg is also the author of the paranormal Ramos Family trilogy from Berkley InterMix and the Folk trilogy from Soul Mate. Meg’s books have won numerous awards, including an EPIC Award, a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Holt Medallion from Virginia Romance Writers, the Beanpot Award from the New England Romance Writers, and the Award of Excellence from Colorado Romance Writers.

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LASR Anniversary Scavenger Hunt: Bloodstone by Helen C. Johannes

Thanks for joining us on our 16th anniversary scavenger hunt! There are two ways to enter to win and it’s easy to play– first read the blurb below, then answer the question on the first Rafflecopter. You might win a $100 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC (along with other prizes). Follow and visit authors’ social media pages on the second Rafflecopter and you’re entered to win another $100 Amazon/BN GC (along with other prizes)!

What if looking at the face of the man you loved meant death?

Years ago, warrior Durren Drakkonwehr was cursed by a mage. Now feared and reviled as the Shadow Man, he keeps to himself, only going to town to trade rare bloodstones–petrified dragon’s blood–for supplies. Though he hides his face, he can’t hide his heart from the woman who haunts his dreams…

Needing bloodstones for a jewelry commission, Mirianna and her father journey across the dreaded Wehrland where the beast-men roam. When their party is attacked, only the Shadow Man can save them. Strangely drawn to him, Mirianna offers herself in return for her father’s rescue.

Living in the ruined fortress with the Shadow Man, Mirianna slowly realizes that a flesh-and-blood man–not a fiend–hides there in hoods and darkness. But are love and courage enough to lift the curse and restore the man?


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