Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Things That Get Us Through the Year by Jane Kindred

It’s that little souvenir, of a terrible year
Which makes my eyes feel sore
And who ever would've thought, the books that you brought
Were all I loved you for
 — The Sundays, “Here’s Where the Story Ends”

Normally, I’m all about the holiday spirit this time of year. I’m an atheist with pagan leanings, and I adore all things Yuletide. This year, however, putting up the tree was an act of faith—as it is every year—that after the darkness, the light will return. But this symbolism has never resonated with me quite so much as it does right now, at the end of this terrible year, in which “to 2016” has become an insidious verb.

The unexpected death of David Bowie on January 10 hit me hard, and then my personal year got off to a rocky start with the announcement that my publisher was closing its doors. In addition to uncertainty about the fate of my current titles, it meant the cancellation of a book whose characters I'd grown deeply attached to. That loss, coupled with some reviews that shook my faith in my writing, plunged me into a deep depression.

Then, in April, Prince’s tragic death hit me even harder than Bowie’s had. Both were major influences on me growing up, helping me to take pride in being different, accepting that who I was didn’t have to be who I’d been raised to be. But Prince had helped me define my individuality in countless ways, letting me take the first baby steps away from my fundamentalist Evangelical upbringing when I wasn’t quite ready to let go of my beliefs even though they no longer rang true. The loss of that icon—and that music that had been the soundtrack of my teenage years—made me feel like a little bit of my youth had been irrevocably lost as well.

And then 2016 continued to unrelentingly “2016” on a global scale.

But there has been a little light among all the darkness. In April, the first two books of my Sisters in Sin series sold to Harlequin Nocturne. And it’s those little glimmers of light that keep writers going when the world seems to be turning against them. Writing is what carries us out of the darkness.

The first book in the series, Waking the Serpent, was released yesterday, and the second, Bewitching the Dragon, comes out in May. I started writing Bewitching right after Prince’s death, and the first draft of that book included my main character reflecting on how his music had given her strength as a young woman. Like me, she had struggled to reconcile the beliefs of her youth with her changing views as she came of age. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Book 1 is about Phoebe, the sister who embraced her magic and never looked back, and Rafe, the living embodiment of Quetzalcoatl.

If you like magic—and hot dragon shifters—with a healthy dose of sin, perhaps the Sisters will do for you what they did for me and help you get through these dark times.

Waking the Serpent is available now in ebook and mass market paperback at the following retailers:
Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Writers, such curious folk

Do you have a friend who is a writer? If you do, then perhaps you're familiar with what I'll be talking about here. If you're a writer yourself, you may not have noticed these strange traits in yourself or maybe you don't have them, some writers don't. These strange folk (writers) come in many different variations. If you're a writer, perhaps you haven't noticed them because you were lost in the corridors of your mind at the time and failed to notice.

Maybe you've been engaged in conversation with a writer or he/she is among a group of friends participating in a conversation. Suddenly the writer drops out of the discussion and gets a faraway look in his/her eyes. Don't be alarmed or think that person is intentionally being impolite, nor has anything gone wrong. Something has occurred during the conversation, a word, a picture, a sound, that has triggered them to retreat into his/her inner thoughts.

Maybe elaborate scenes for their current work in progress are flashing in their minds, or maybe one of more of their characters are shouting out to be heard. Maybe the characters are suggesting situations to put them in or introducing (groan) other characters to crowd into the corridors of their mind. So many things. Talk about being insane. (grin) Imagine, if you can, having multiple personalities running amok in your mind and as more of your stories are created, the number of personalities inside you explodes. It soon becomes very crowded in there. Don't be concerned, a strait jacket is not called for, most authors are too busy plotting and performing things in their fantasy worlds to do anything dastardly in the real world.

Furthermore, don't be alarmed, he/she will come back to the present in due time. He/she is just being a crazy writer. Always remember, anything he/she sees, or hears, may well become part of the story. Writing inspiration comes from too many sources to count.

If you like the writer's stories, just remember, posting a review on Amazon or wherever you found his/her book, is the best way to tell them you appreciate their effort to entertain you and encourage them to write more.

My latest book. (caution) for 18+ contains M/F, F/F and menage couplings. There are BDSM scenes as well. 

Small town raised with conservative values, Janelle has recently graduated from college. Her job search has been fruitless so far and she is facing mounting debt along with pending eviction from her apartment. When she finally receives a job offer, it is both unbelievable and disturbing. The offer requires her to cruise the world on a fabulous yacht for a year with all expenses paid. It also requires her to sell herself for that year in a Master, slave, relationship. The wages she will receive are beyond her wildest dreams, over a million K for the year. Will Janelle accept the offer or turn it down because of her conservative values? 


She slipped into the seat and dug into her briefcase, taking out one of her resume folders, which she placed on the desk and slid across to him. For a moment, Mr. Davis left the folder containing her resume untouched, and instead, openly studied her. Janelle shifted uncomfortably as his gaze traveled from her face and down. His brazen stare caused her to picture him inspecting a piece of meat at the grocery. One that he was contemplating purchasing. Instinctively, she clamped her legs closed.
"This interview is going to be unorthodox, Miss. Lawson, but your answers will carry more weight than your credentials. If I like them, I will offer you a job, if not…" he shrugged his shoulders.
Great, no pressure here. She squeezed her hands forming fists and resisted the urge to dry the sweat that developed on her palms on her skirt.
Mr. Davis opened the folder containing her resume and scanned it quickly, then slowed as he read the second page containing her personal information. "I see you're from Oklahoma, and I presume a small town since it is unfamiliar to me."
"Yes, it's in the panhandle of northwestern Oklahoma."
"Are your parents there?"
"My parents are dead."
"I see. I'm sorry for your loss, Miss Lawson. What about a boyfriend…or girlfriend."
She jolted at his question and wondered what it had to do with anything in an interview. "No boyfriend. I do have friends who are female, but that isn't what you're asking, is it? I don't have any close ties if that is what you're asking."
"Good. I say good because the job will require extensive travel. Having close ties would complicate things. And yes, I was implying a female sexual partner." What is your opinion of sex?"
His question sent shock waves racing through her. What type of interview is this? "Excuse me, sir?"
"You heard me."
"Um, if you're asking if I'm a virgin the answer is no. I've had boyfriends but don't currently have one. I feel there should be a strong emotional attachment between a man and woman before sex enters the picture."
He pressed his lips tight. "Okay, please stand, Miss Lawson."
Shit! Wrong answer, I'm being dismissed.
"May I call you Janelle?"
"Janelle, please unbutton your suit jacket and turn slowly."
What the hell? She did a slow pirouette as asked.
When she faced him again, approval shown in his eyes. "You are a very attractive woman, Janelle." He examined the sheet of paper on his desk. "You're height and measurements?"
You've got to be kidding! The thought of her mounting bills and desperation over possibly obtaining the job loosened her tongue and she divulged the information he asked for.
"Thank you." He picked up his desk phone. "Kevin, would you please come over here to my office?" He nodded over his steepled his fingers.
Another man joined them while she still stood next her chair. He took station beside Mr. Davis. Kevin, she assumed, was just as handsome, with short, blond hair, blue eyes, and broad shoulders. Just like Mr. Davis, he wore an obviously expensive three-piece suit. He examined her openly, then said to Mr. Davis, "She'll do just fine if she desires us to employ her." With no further words, Kevin left the room.
Mr. Davis dug in one of the desk's drawers and placed a sheaf of papers on top. "Please sit, Janelle," he said, gesturing to the chair. He slid the papers toward her. "I know you're confused right now and wondering what this is about. I will tell you a little about the job requirements, but this contract will explain them in greater detail."
"Okay," was all she could manage. This interview was far different than she had ever imagined.
"The job will require you to travel and live abroad for a year. Most of the time you'll be living on a yacht that belongs to Mr. Parker and me."
"And what will my work entail?"
He ignored her question. "I'm certain you're curious about many things, including your salary. Your salary will be 85K—"
Her jaw dropped open.
"Per month," he continued.
It opened wider. 
"The job will begin in six months—"
Her heart fell to her feet. "Um, sir, I don't know if—"
"You can survive financially for that long," he finished for her. He scanned the paper. "I'm well aware of that. I know a lot about you, Janelle. After you called yesterday, I did extensive research on you. I know you're behind on your rent and your other bills. If you decide to accept the offer, those will be taken care of for the six months before the job actually begins, including having your student debts paid in full. Trust me, you will be busy preparing for the six months and you won't have the time to worry about finances. You'll continue living in your apartment because moving would be pointless since you will be leaving when your job starts. The rent will be paid ahead for the entire six months. You'll receive eight hundred dollars per week to live on." He peered into her eyes. "I'll be frank with you, Janelle. Your attitude towards sex will need to change. During your employment, I will be fucking you. You'll sort of be my girlfriend."
Holy shit. Did he say what I think he just said? She studied Mr. Davis closer. Janelle estimated him to be in his early thirties. Okay probably ten to fifteen years older than me, but for that kind of money, I'll be your paid girlfriend.
She grinned. "Despite my statement, I'm not a prude concerning sex, Mr. Davis, and having sex with you will not be a problem. You're a handsome man. Besides, the generous salary you're offering buys a lot of attitude change. What else will I be doing?" 
He glanced at his watch. "I'm sorry to cut this meeting short, but I have another appointment. Read the contract; it contains more details about your employment. If you agree to the terms, sign it. I will need your decision one way or another by this time tomorrow. Thank you, Miss Lawson. I'll see you at two."   

Monday, December 5, 2016

Holiday Blues

I'm afflicted with Holiday Blues. Quiet days at home are what I crave. Heck, I leave work Monday and don’t go out again until Saturday when I return to work. Occasionally my sister drags me out or a variety of appointments I can’t get out of force me into the world. This time of year I try even harder not to leave my safe, warm, abode. Doesn’t help that I abhor winter weather – any weather below 70 degrees is brutal! So why a holiday story you might ask? Gosh knows. Maybe it’s because I’d put this one out a few years ago and never quite ‘felt it’ so I enhanced the story by adding close to a thousand words, and I’m setting it free once again this week after a few more fixes! Here’s a bit of my interracial male/male/female ménage:

Pennington Seevers picked the same all-inclusive island get-away the very woman he wants to escape also chose. Partner, best friend, and lover, Rory Burton, is along for the trip and though they enjoy sex together, even love each other, Rory insists Pennington is more than attracted to Headley Etta Xavier and accuses him of not wanting to share as they often did.

Headley Etta Xavier who goes by the name Hex knows involving herself with her boss, Pennington, or his second in command, Rory, might mean an end to her job so she takes her first vacation in years hoping to wipe both from her mind. Little does she realize the men she watches having sex from a hidden spot behind a tree is Penn and Rory. Worse yet, seeing them in the act didn’t deter Hex, it made her hotter than hell!

A holiday to remember or a case of holiday blues—which way would it go?

“It’s been so long I barely remember but I’d bet you can’t describe the last woman we shared.”

Penn stroked his chin, scratched stubble. “Tall and blonde.”

“Yeah, right, and I’d wager again this sudden thing you’ve developed for tall, skinny blondes is so you don’t think of Hex when you screw them.”

“You just can’t leave it be.”

Rory said, “Tell her.” The lopsided grin Penn loved appeared. “The worse that could happen is one of us gets lucky.”

“Stop right there.”

“Christ, Penn, I don’t get you sometimes.” Rory tipped his beer, finished the bottle. “You don’t laugh anymore, we don’t go out, and you’re rude as hell all the time. You need to pull it together.”

He gazed at his friend. They’d known each other forever, Penn loved the man. Rory didn’t know how close he was to the truth about his feelings for Hex. He watched her at work, Penn liked how meticulously she handled her job, how she smiled, how she walked, how her brown skin glistened under lights... Fuck me! He couldn’t find a single thing to fault her on. Hell, he searched hard for errors to have a reason to call her into his office. He found none. And the way she dressed, God, she was stunning in those fitting outfits that hugged her round ass. How could he be so attracted to Hex but not want to give up what he had with his best friend?

Hex rejected his advances so many times, he stayed angry at the world and it was wrong. “With the others, I could share them, it was sex and we all got what we wanted. Anyway, what they thought didn’t matter. I always knew I could continue to have you.”

“And now?”

Rory was right about why he chose thin blondes—they kept thoughts of Hex from invading his head. “I almost told her, Rory. If she had agreed to go out with me again, I would because I didn’t want a lie between us.”

“Jeez, that bad, huh?”

A hand waved in Rory’s direction, “She may not have understood us.” Penn shook his head. “Hell, I’ve never felt this way about anyone but you and I’ve only kissed her.” He didn’t take his eyes off Rory. “Though we’ve shared men and women, I’m possessive as hell when it comes to you.” He glanced away not wanting Rory to see anger flushing his face. “I remember the guy you brought up in conversation earlier. We enjoyed him together but when he tried to take you from me, I wanted to do more than punch him out.”

“I knew you remembered.”

“Thinking of you feeling this way about someone… Jesus!” His head bowed. “What if I couldn’t have shared Hex?”

“Doesn’t seem to matter now. Anyway, I get it.”

“Fuck that, Rory, because I don’t. I don’t get this at all.” Penn appreciated the fact only one lamp cast light from the far corner because he would rather not ruin Rory’s holiday by having him witness raw emotion surfacing at this moment. What the hell! He leaned forward on the sofa, elbows on knees, and buried his face in his hands. “Every night, every goddamn day. I can’t get her out of my mind. I liked being with her, we talked, laughed, touched, and she didn’t expect anything from me. I’d have taken her to one of those godawful girly movies if she asked. Christ, Rory.” Air whooshed from his mouth. “I won’t… I can’t give up what you and I have.”

“Penn, I’m sorry.”

He jerked around and stared at Rory. “What the hell does that mean?” Would Rory disappear from his life if he found a woman and wanted to settle down? “What would you do?”

Rory got up, walked a few steps to where he sat, and pulled Penn’s hands into his. “I don’t want another man, you’re enough for me. But we’ve talked about women, doing different things with them, and I’m more than aware you want to start a family, have children. You’ve never hid that from me. I don’t want kids but it’s been my dream we’d find one woman we could spend the rest of our lives with.” Penn pulled his hands back and rubbed his face. “Look at me.” Rory continued, “I’m not searching but if I found one and she didn’t understand what you and I have together, she won’t be in my life. Period.”

Penn stood and embraced Rory. “Then there’s your answer why Hex can never know, why I can’t make her a part of my, our life."

Keep your eyes open for more information on release date.

Growl and roar-it’s okay to let the beast out.J. Hali Steele

Sunday, December 4, 2016

When You Win NaNoWri You Need to Stand Up & Pull Out Your DIY Treadmill Desk With Maureen Bonatch

By Maureen L. Bonatch

Okay, so I gave it away- I won #NaNoWri! (National Novel Writing Month). But after my endless flapping about it last month, it would be a bit embarrassing to admit defeat. Although I truly believe anyone who commits to participate and puts any words to the page is a winner.

But to win and get the very rough draft done for Sister From Another Mister (Book 2 in A Touch of Magic Series), and for most of the year, I’ve spent a lot of time with my “butt in the chair”

This means I also win extra backaches and must constantly fight the force of gravity on my dedicated behind. 

Exercising has gotten more difficult as the cold weather closes in on Pennsylvania, but I’ve developed a few solutions over the years that I’d like to share with you.

Drag Out That Old Clothes Hanger

You know what I’m talking about, your treadmill. Many of us have one that we’ve either held onto over the years, or have gotten rid of and reacquired each time we renewed our exercise efforts.

Most writers, and many other people who work at jobs that result in a lot of sitting, struggle to get enough exercise throughout the day. Plus, it’s difficult to carve out the extra time for exercise. 

Hence, the treadmill desk. When I first learned about such sorcery, a desk that you can write and exercise at the same time, I was amazed and immediately put it to the top of my ‘want’ list.  Then I looked at the prices…and the treadmill dropped a few pegs on my list.

Until This Non-DIYer Made a DIY Treadmill Desk

I am not a crafty person. I don’t make things, I buy them. But turning my treadmill into a treadmill desk was incredibly easy & I had everything I needed already. Cost= Nada.
I’m nothing special. If you Google it, tons of people have done similar DIY Treadmill Desks.

What I Used:
  •       Treadmill
  •       Old Extra Large Shelf from my Daughter’s Room
  •       2 Big Ass Belts I’ve hoarded from the 1980’s (don’t judge- I didn’t say I’ve worn them…lately) 

My DIY Treadmill Desk & My Poor Photography Skills ;)
When I’m ready to do some editing (writing is a little more challenging), or check my email, marketing etc. then I grab the loose wood shelf and lay it across my treadmill arms and hook the 2 belts around the hand bar. Viola! I can walk at a slow pace—so I’m not breaking any race records, but I am off my butt. 

Speaking of Sitting

Then there’s the study most of us heard about a few years ago published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that had everyone talking about how sitting is the new smoking and how sedentary lifestyles were killing us. That increases in physical activity has less of an impact that merely reducing the time sitting.
So there are plenty of Standing Desks on the Market as well, but I didn’t have room for one, and didn’t think I’d use one enough to make it worth it. A little thinking out of the box, and digging through my closet I found my solution.

As a writer, I have multiple laptop tables, so I pulled one out that had legs to use in bed and sat it on top of my current desk. Place my Laptop on Top + Stand Up to Write=Standing Desk.

Now…to stand up and write on!

Do you have any tips to share for maintaining movement while creating or escaping into a good story?

                                                                                                                                                                         Check out 
Grandma Must Die
 & all of my stories on my Amazon Author Page

About Maureen
Maureen writes stories in the beautiful state of Pennsylvania that boast laughter, light suspense and something magical in the hope of sharing her love of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary world. She writes Paranormal Romance and Fantasy.

Find Me:

Saturday, December 3, 2016

NANO AND YOUR SERIES by Marie Dry @MarieDry1

We're happy to introduce our guest, Marie Dry. She's here to talk about her experience with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, known to the rest of us as November).

NaNo and Your Series

Every year during NANO life seems to happen and I end up barely making my 50k. Then on top of that, when I start editing I have to cut more than half of the story and rewrite almost everything. I’ve heard many authors complain about this.

This year something strange happened. In spite of life happening i.e. two French tests, a crazy busy time at the office and family responsibilities, I made 80k easily this year. It felt as if I barely had to put in any effort to reach 50k and before I knew it I had 80k.

I believe the one reason is that long before my first book was accepted by Black Opal Books I wrote minimum three hours every day. Whenever the successful authors give advice on writing that is the one advice all of them give. Write every day and write with discipline. I followed it religiously and it seems to be paying off. My writing muscles have strengthened.

Before NANO started I went on the forum for Pretoria (South Africa) and asked if there were people near me who wanted to do write-ins. We got together once a week close to my place and it was wonderful. I also joined an online sprinting group that was created for NANO. Waving at the NANOWRIMOERS facebook group!

The one major difference I made with the writing was I decided to not be so focused on the 50k but instead to try and write a tighter novel. Not easy to do for a pantser like me. The moment I decided to focus on the story and not the word count it took a lot of pressure off.

If I had to choose one decision I made this year that allowed me to reach 80K in a month while working full time, it is to work on more than one book. Instead of writing words for the sake of the word count, if I ran into trouble with one book I worked on the next one until my mind figured out the problem. It worked! I now have the rough draft for Alien Resistance, an even rougher and shorter draft for Alien Captured, a good bit of Alien Ruled and the outline for a novella for Alien Rescue.

The support from other writers during NANO is amazing and it has made a huge difference to me. When I joined RWA Australia in 2010, I did online sprints with them and it was the first time I ever sprinted and had company in my writing. It was wonderful. I lived in Spain at the time and it was hot and I remember all of us buying flakes (a brand of chocolate) in our respective countries and putting them in the fridge as a reward for after the sprints. I still like cold flakes because it reminds me of that year. That is also when I finished Alien Mine and yip, I had to rewrite the whole book because I was so focused on word count I didn’t pay attention to the structure of the book.

What I’m trying to say in a very convoluted fashion, is that NANO is wonderful, but if you want to walk away with a book you can sell it is better to have a strategy. My strategy of not even thinking about the word count this year paid off. Maybe it will for someone else as well.

For anyone looking for craft books here is a list of the books that I went through this year before NANO. There are many more but these are my current favourites.

Goal Motivation & Conflict – Debra Dixon
Writing Active Settings – Mary Buckham
Secrets of the Selling Writer – Dwight Swain
Self-editing for Fiction Writers – Renni Browne, Dave King
Writing the Breakout Novel – Donald Maas
Dialogue – Gloria Kempton
On Writing – Stephen King

Below is the blurb and a short excerpt of Alien Under Cover, the second book in my Zyrgin Warriors series. Enjoy.


In a bleak and apocalyptic future, Julia Benzoni flees the violence-saturated world of her mafia family to build a peaceful life in a No Name Town, Montana. Now, while civilization disintegrates into anarchy around her and evil men prey on the innocent, she’s pursued by an alien, whose warrior life thrusts her back into the world where might makes right and violence is the order of the day. Torn, she now has to choose between her need to distance herself from war and violence and the alien warrior who holds her heart.

The first time he revealed himself to his breeder she fainted.
Zurian caught her before she hit the floor. Left with a beautiful human woman helpless in his arms, he’d laid her down on her bed, covered her with blankets, and left her alone. It had taken a surprising amount of willpower to let her out of his arms.
He was not a warrior known for his mercy. He’d killed and executed many and, for a long moment, while he stood there staring at her soft human face, he’d been tempted to take her to his dwelling despite the fact that she was too small and delicate for life with a Zyrgin. Not taking her as his breeder so he wouldn’t break such a fragile woman had been an act of mercy from a warrior considered the most pitiless in the empire.
In the end he could not stay away from her and, when he revealed himself to her the second time his faith had been rewarded. She’d tried to shoot him. Julia handled the pistol well and, instead of crying when she couldn’t manage to hit him, she was furious. His Julia knew some words his translator did not have the meaning of.
He returned a third and fourth time, cloaked, curious to know more about her. Since then he’d gone to her many times. Sometimes cloaked, sometimes not. She intrigued him with her strange habits. She spent most of her time on the human communication device they called a TC, which seemed to be her means of earning a living. She liked to paint her tiny claws—nails he reminded himself, humans called them nails—many colors. Women on Zyrgin frequently adorned themselves but since no warrior with honor would look at another warrior’s breeder he’d only been vaguely aware of perfumes and lavish clothes during ceremonies.
He thought about her when he should be concentrating on his warrior duties. Curious to see what she would try next, he returned to her impoverished dwelling. She was clever enough to stay out of grabbing range. Sometimes he played with her, pretending he only moved at human speed. Countering her attacks, he grabbed her and enjoyed the feeling of her skin, of her body held briefly against him while she fought and squirmed. Once, she tried to knee him in the groin. Seemingly convinced she could harm him that way. He’d observed some of the women in the raider camps, the ones who were not broken, use that tactic with great success on human males.
It had been a week since he’d seen his golden human. At the back of her small house, in the settlement the human’s called No Name Town, Zurian stepped forward and stopped, his boot lifted. A thin white powder covered the door entrance. Something gleamed on the windowsill and, as he moved to the side, more of it gleamed at the bottom on each window ledge. He pinched a tiny amount of the white powder and tasted it. Salt, the spice the humans put in everything. It had to be one of her curious tricks to try to keep him out.
The first four chapters of my books are available on my website.


Ever since she can remember Marie Dry wanted to travel. She had had the privilege of living in Zambia, Morocco, and Spain and sees herself as a bit of a gypsy. Every few years she gets restless and has to be some place new.

She read romances since she was nine and was fairly young when she decided she would write the perfect story that had all the elements she looked for in a romance. In 1997 she decided to go all out with her writing and to get published. Being published by Black Opal Books is a dream come true for her.

There are several wonderful moments in her life that she would never trade for anything. One of them is meeting President Nelson Mandela and the second being published. Her Book Alien Mine was released by Black Opal Books in June 2014.

Marie's social media links:
Twitter:  @MarieDry1