High School Reunion (Why Is This Not a Musical?)

My high school reunion is this weekend.

I’ve  been lying low, flying under the radar. I’ve joined the Facebook group, read the posts, and looked at the pictures, but I have neither commented nor responded (or even decided) if I’m actually going. I didn’t go to the first one (in truth, I didn’t even hear about it), and I only hear rumors about the second.

A lot of things have happened since I last saw many of the people I graduated with. To put it into perspective as to how long it’s been, these are some of the things that were happening in the world the year we graduated:

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  • The Jamaican Bobsled Team Debuted at The Calgary Winter Olympics

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  • 2 1/2 Years after the Challenger tragedy the Space Shuttle Discovery was launched

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  • 4 years after the disease was recognized, the 1st World Aids Day was held

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  • The President we had (and the one that was voted in that year)

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  • Ben Johnson won gold in Seoul. Three days later he was stripped of his medal, and Olympic record, after testing positive for steroids. Carl Lewis was awarded the gold medal and Olympic record.

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  • Pan Am flight 103 was bombed while flying over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 243 passengers and 16 crew members.

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  • Eli Lilly began marketing Prozac in January, annual sales hit $350 million within a year ( #HowIShouldHaveInvestedMyTacoBellEarnings)

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  • Crack cocaine became a thing (is it even still a thing?)

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  • Residents of super-ultra-rural areas of California & Nevada were relieved to finally know that they weren’t imaging those “hovering crafts” they saw in the night sky. The US Government finally unveiled the B2 Bomber.

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  • Stephen Hawking released A Brief History of Time

 

So, as you can see, we left our glory years of high school and walked into the hope and promise the late 80’s had to offer. And that’s the last time I saw many of my classmates.

With the invention of Facebook I’ve managed to connect with a few of them. If nothing else, we are “Facebook Friends” and will occasionally Like or comment on each others posts. In all honesty though, our community was on the small side and we tended to hang out with kids in the classes ahead of and behind us. At various points we ended up in different districts and I can’t remember exactly if my Facebook friends are high school friends, junior high school– or even elementary school!– ones. This reunion will actually be a combination of the graduating class of three (!) local high schools.

So, if it’s been so long why am I so anxiety ridden about going and seeing everyone? Aren’t I excited at the chance?

Well, I have reasons to be anxious, and I think I may not be alone (really, I can’t be alone, can I?).

  1. I’m anxiety-ridden by nature. I don’t do well in large groups or around people I’m not comfortable with (I actually don’t even do well around the people I see regularly and do feel comfortable with).
  2.  I’m not a social creature. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not antisocial. I’m just a person who is comfortable and content in my own quiet world. I never viewed myself as a highly social person. I was a side-kick to my friend, Lysa. Now she should have a Doctorate in Social Interactions. She’s good with people. She’s confident in groups and she remembers everyone and most of the things that happened to, with and around everyone we hung out with. I was pretty much the grumpy (occasionally drunken) sidekick.
  3. I have insecurities. Lots of them. At the top of the list is the fact that I’ve gained weight (a lot!). I’m sure there are plenty of us who have gained weight as we aged, and I think they all still look great, but I can’t give myself that consideration.
  4. I am no less socially awkward now than I was back then. Maybe even more so now (see #3).
  5. I am horrible at recalling names. I generally remember a face, but can’t always pair it with the proper name (see #4-Socially Awkward).
  6. Sometimes my facial recognition skills fail me. Two days ago I had a conversation with a junior high school classmate. I’d remember her face anywhere!! She looked exactly the same, a fact a marveled at as I walked away. How, after all these years can she still look exactly the same as the last time I saw her?  The answer came as I recalled the confusion in her eyes (though she was sweetly trying to play the whole thing off) and pieced together the reality. I’d been speaking to her daughter!!!! A true Doppelgänger, but not who I thought (see #4-Socially Awkward).

While it may seem like I’ve been obsessing over the negative (and maybe I have) I’ve also tried to come up with reasons that I should go to my high school reunion. I’ve worked long and hard to come up with a list of things I can be proud of, reasons that I can show my up to my high school reunion without shame. Here are the highlights:

  1. During all the years since graduation I haven’t been featured in The Blotter (our local who’s-who of law enforcement attention).
  2. I’ve never been forced to flee from an angry mob in a foreign country.
  3. My family has never had to arrange my release from a third-world prison.
  4. I’ve never been the awkward subject of a photo that’s gone viral and spawned thousands of memes.
  5. I haven’t bilked any charities for millions and had to flee to the islands.
  6. I haven’t hacked into any multi-national corporations, released inflammatory e-mails, or tried to influence elections.
  7. My personal nuclear program abides by all limitations imposed by the UN.
  8. I’ve never been the subject of a Dateline or 20/20 investigation.

All in all, a pretty good track record, in my opinion. So I may do it. I may face my fears and step into a room full of people I haven’t seen in *information redacted to protect the innocent and vain*  years.

But, until then, please enjoy a few more images from our world during the year of our graduation:

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Author Spotlight: Laurie Bell

Name: Laurie Bell  

Author of: The Butterfly Stone (Wyvern’s Peak Publishing)

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing? I think it was a Choose Your Own Adventure story, about a female Doctor Who. I wrote it with a writer friend after school, (I still have it too). But I know I was writing stories well before then, this is just the one that sticks in my memory. I probably wrote fan fiction too… I loved the book The BFG when I was little so I would not be surprised if I wrote something along those lines.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession? Seriously? About 5 years ago, but I have been writing since I was a little kid and then when the internet came along I was writing online in various chats, message boards and blogs all the time. A lot of fan fiction stuff and a lot of my own musings, bits and bobs and things that made me happy. LOL I was an angsty teenager, so probably a heap of that too.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author? I did a lot of research online and I have a really good friend, who was also going through the author journey at the same time. We helped and still help each other a lot. Once I got onto the online writer community on Twitter things really took off. I have met some wonderful and supportive writers online, met some fabulous CPs (Critique Partners) and editors and friends. You sort of learn things together and help each other out. One person who really was fabulous was a fellow writer (who is also with my publisher). Lauren is an amazing writer and super supportive of her fellow authors.

Do you exclusively Sci-fi/fantasy or have you written in other genres? I mostly write Sci Fi and Fantasy. I’ve also dabbled in Supernatural Contemporary, but I am certainly more comfortable amongst spaceships and magic. It’s my one true love so to speak. When I was little my Poppa read me a book of short stories over and over about knights, witches, dragons and trolls… I got my first taste of fantasy sitting on his knee listening to him read.

 What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance? HA! Work life balance? What’s that? I work full time, so I mostly write on the train, at lunchtime and in coffee shops on the weekend. I aim for a chapter a week… sometimes I get more, sometimes less. Depends on the stage of the book I’m at, and, if I’m at the beginning, middle or end or if I am editing.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions? First draft usually takes about 6 to 8 months. Then up to a year of edits, depending on if I actually like the first draft or if I end up doing a major rewrite. I also send it to my CP’s for things I miss. My CP’s are the best in the world!

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book? As my books tend to be sci fi or fantasy, it’s not so much research as it is worldbuilding. But I do google a lot, read as much as I can, A lot of non-fiction science mags and books too. I enjoy learning and sort of absorb a lot as I read. It finds its way into my stories. In the end, my stories are about the people. Families and friends, so I also look around me at the way people interact with each other. The world is research if you sit back and look. (and a lot of TV and movies… As far as I am concerned… everything is research).

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)? Hmmmmm do I want to tell you? Haha, I don’t know that they are embarrassing, but yes quirky perhaps? I hand write my first draft (and I have awful handwriting… when I’m in a flow it’s hard to actually read my draft back. When I type it all up I can stare at the page for a good ten minutes trying to figure out what it was that I wrote!

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list? I’d love to go to NASA one day. There is also a space array in WA, Australia that I would love to visit… or Hawaii, when there is not an eruption taking place (Mind you…. How amazing are the pictures? Mother nature at her most violent and beautiful.)

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects? Oh…. It’s funny. Sometimes it is a view, or an overheard phrase. With The Butterfly Stone it was actually a prompt. I wrote a short story based on a random prompt I read and loved the character so much I wanted to tell the rest of her story.

For Blood Fever (my upcoming novel) I can remember writing parts of it in my little rental on my recliner but I can’t remember the prompt. I know I wanted a female James Bond in space. Secret Agents and spaceships, who wouldn’t want that.

For White Fire (Jan 2019) well… I wrote that when I was 17 (way way way back in the past… and I wrote that because… well… Star Wars (originals). The Empire Strikes Back was my favorite movie. But I wanted Princess Leia to be Han Solo (In my head she was). So, I wrote the Star Wars movie I wanted to see when I was little. A kick ass hero who could rescue herself, defeat the bad guys and save the galaxy.

My newest WIP well… hahaha that came to me on the train.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites? Sci Fi and fantasy of course. Anything by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, Chuck Wendig. And fan fiction novels… you know, the novelisations that continue a TV show or move once it’s been cancelled? I LOVE those.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? Oh yeah, I have references all the way though, but mostly to amuse myself. IF people reading them find them and get the reference well, that’s like an added bonus!

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life? Yes and no, my characters – my main characters – are all based on who I wish I could be. (Brave, dangerous, awesome…)

Otherwise, mostly they are completely made up… though White Fire does have a few people in it that my friends know about 😊

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated. Do you have a couple of years? Hahahaha. Honestly, there are so many indie books that people just don’t know about. I am always giving friends recommendations of books I love. (For sci fi fans… you have to read The Illuminae Files) for Supernatural Noir (The Burned Man series)

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure. Oooooooo Pride and Prejudice. But I kinda wish Lizzy had told Darcy to go…. *rest of sentence deleted for inappropriate content*

Be honest: Do you Google yourself? Absolutely. Hahahah there is an American Footballer with my name so unless I put in “writer” or “author” in the search field I am always disappointed!

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus? I like to believe it would be a wolf or eagle… Something about being a protector of the pack (but also a loner), but somehow I think it would probably be a house cat, like a Burmese 😊 (At least that’s what my partner would say)

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with? Grammar, OMG I’m not even trying to hide that one. And show… show show show *Sigh!*

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer? Don’t give up. Stick at it and ignore the people who tell you not to bother or that it is a waste of time and energy for little return. If you love it… do it anyway.

And to understand that rejections are not about YOU as a person. It’s a hard one to learn, but once you understand that, it’s a lot easier to accept a rejection and keep on keeping on.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? Don’t stop writing… ever.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers? I love reading, I will read anything anyone sends me (provided I have time). I love to read, so if you ask and if I have time, I will read anything for anyone and offer suggestions. I’m also happy to listen. It’s a tough business, sometimes just being there is enough.

Want to find more about Laurie?

The Butterfly Stone (The Stones of Power, Book 1)  

“DON’T LET THE SHADOW TOUCH YOU.”

Beware! Something is after Tracey Masters, a Mage-kind teen in a mostly non-magical world—a world where people like Tracey are often feared, and oppressed. Add to this stress a crazy family life, the schizo pressures of school, friends, and bullies, and working a boring job as an assistant at her uncle’s detective agency for magical types, and life isn’t just hard, it’s chaos! That is, until a mysterious woman walks through the door with a case about a missing necklace known as the Butterfly Stone.

The case seems to be the big break Tracey is looking for to prove herself and her abilities as Mage-kind. But she unexpectedly finds herself dangerously connected to it when the evidence takes a turn that reveals secrets from Tracey’s past, and places her friends and family in mortal danger.

She also discovers that she’s being hunted by a shadow that senses her magic is the key to unlocking the power it’s after.
The magic within the Butterfly Stone is too powerful to be contained, but if Tracey doesn’t learn how to control it, and escape the threat of the shadow that surrounds it, she could lose everything and everyone she cares about … beginning with her younger sister, Sarah.

Laurie Bell’s first young adult novel is fresh, fast-paced, and fun. It’s filled with what makes life interesting, hard, and yet, worth living. You’ll believe in magic again, but you’ll also remember that the magic of family and friendship is where life is best lived.

 

Get The Butterfly Stone from Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

 

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Cover Reveal: The Witch’s Tower by Tamara Grantham

The Witch’s Tower
Tamara Grantham
(Twisted Ever After, #1)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: March 11th 2019
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult

Gothel is a witch. Punished for the actions of her mother, her choice is simple: either she stands guard over Princess Rapunzel—or she dies. But just because a choice is easy doesn’t mean it’s pleasant. Protecting Rapunzel means watching as the princess lays trapped in a tower, bedridden by hair that is so long and heavy it’s slowly driving her insane. Gothel’s life has become one of imprisonment and solitude as well—until a prince and his handsome squire appear at the tower.

Only one object can cut Rapunzel’s hair and end the curse: a pair of magical shears. But the shears are guarded by the most terrifying witches in the land, who also happen to be Gothel’s aunts. As Gothel and the prince’s squire, Raj Talmund, work to form a plan, she finds herself more and more drawn to the mysterious young man from the Outerlands. Unfortunately, his destiny is far more dangerous than she wants to admit: to save a princess, he must kill the witch who’s been forced to guard her.

THE WITCH’S TOWER is the first in an inspired new series of fairy-tale retellings from award-winning fantasy author Tamara Grantham.

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Author Bio:

Tamara Grantham is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books and novellas, including the Olive Kennedy: Fairy World MD series and the Shine novellas. Dreamthief, the first book of her Fairy World MD series, won first place for fantasy in INDIEFAB’S Book of the Year Awards, a RONE award for best New Adult Romance of 2016, and is a #1 bestseller on Amazon with over 200 five-star reviews.
Tamara holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Lamar University. She has been a featured speaker at multiple writing conferences, and she has been a panelist at Comic Con Wizard World speaking on the topic of female leads. For her first published project, she collaborated with New York-Times bestselling author, William Bernhardt, in writing the Shine series.
Born and raised in Texas, Tamara now lives with her husband and five children in Wichita, Kansas. She rarely has any free time, but when the stars align and she gets a moment to relax, she enjoys reading fantasy novels, taking nature walks–which fuel her inspiration for creating fantastical worlds–and watching every Star Wars or Star Trek movie ever made. You can find her online at www.TamaraGrantham.com.

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Author Spotlight: Rosanna Leo

Name:   Rosanna Leo  

Author of:   The Stand In; Up In Flames; Gemini Island Shifter’s Series (Predator’s Kiss; Predator’s Serenade; Predator’s Refuge; Predator’s Claim; Predator’s Fire; Predator’s Trinity; Predator’s Rescue; Predator’s Salvation); Greek God Romances (For the Love of a God; Sweet Hell; Sunburn); The Orkney Selkies Series (The Selkie; Selkie’s Revenge; Selkie’s Lure) (Liquid Silver Books)

Handymen Series: A Good Man (Limitless Publishing)

Vegas Sins Series: Vice (Crave Publishing)

Night Lover (Hartwood Publishing)

 

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?   The first piece I remember writing was when I was 12. There was a creative writing competition at my school, and all the essays were supposed to be about World War II. I chose to write about my grandfather’s experiences in the war and the way he still suffered from horrible nightmares decades after the fighting stopped. Although he was never diagnosed, I am certain he suffered from PTSD. My essay won me the top prize in the competition and I ended up going to a regional final as well. I think that was the first time I got “the bug.”

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?  Strangely enough, when I first enrolled in university, it was with the intention of being a writer. However, I was pursuing a few other things at the same time and I strayed from writing and ended up becoming a classical soprano. I also worked in the corporate world for a time but years later, I found my way back to writing.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?  When I started, I knew nothing…and I mean, nothing. I had some knowledge, a lot of enthusiasm and crazy dreams but that was about it. My first publisher Liquid Silver Publishing, really nurtured me, as well as taking a chance on a newbie. The first draft I sent them was pretty horrible but they helped me shape it.

Do you exclusively romance or have you written in other genres?  Most of my books are romance and that is my first love. However, I am a huge fan of ghost stories as well. Last year, I had a horror novella published in an anthology called The Stranger. My story “The Cemetery Guardian” takes place in Toronto’s historic cemetery, the Necropolis, and explores the idea that every cemetery has a guardian…the spirit of the first person interred there. It was so much fun to write something terrifying!

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?  Work-life balance is always hard to achieve and I think most of us have to make little sacrifices here and there. I think the key is making peace with whatever measures you take. I also work part-time so I try to write when I’m not at work. However, some weeks are tricky. Life can throw up obstacles. When it does, I’ve learned not to stress out about it. I always respect my deadlines but have learned how to compartmentalize and prioritize so I’m happy with the work that gets done.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?  My first drafts have really varied as far as time it takes to complete them. I’ve had some books that I’ve written in a matter of weeks because the words just flow. Others take months. I have one that I worked on, off and on, for years. It really depends. As far as revisions, that is usually another few weeks. And then, of course, an editor at the publishing house gets it and provides more feedback, so another few weeks there. It’s a process!

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?  This is something that varies from book to book as well. I write both contemporary and paranormal romance. One could argue there are different types of research that come into play for each subgenre but I try not to skimp on research in either case. Even if I’m writing about a mythical creature, I read the old myths and folklore. Did that creature have an origin in the world of legend? What were its characteristics? As far as contemporary romance, I might have to do research on character professions, emotional issues, types of conflict. I don’t like to get bogged down in minute detail but it’s important to get the big picture right.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?  LOL, nothing that I can’t share. I don’t write in the nude or anything like that…not that I’m passing judgement. Nope, as for me, I just need some quiet and some coffee and I’m good.

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?  I have, although I didn’t always realize I was making a literary pilgrimage at the time. LOL. I’ve used many of my travels in my writing and have used places like London, the Mayan Riviera and Las Vegas as settings after visiting those places. I also set a lot of my books in or near Toronto, my home town, so there is often a lot of Canadian flavour.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?  I wish I could! My inspiration is never quite that tangible. I’m struck more by characters and conflicts than moments in time.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?  I’m a big lover of contemporary and paranormal romance but also love suspense and some horror.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?  Actually, I do have a couple of Easter eggs. I have two teen sons, Daniel and Andrew. Although I have never, nor will I ever, name heroes after them, I have used parts of their names for secondary characters or as surnames for major characters (i.e. Emily Daniels and Trent Andrews in A Good Man, Handymen 1.)

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?  Not really. I don’t tend to use people I know in books. I prefer to create completely fictional characters.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.  My pal Jessica Cale is a wonderful historical romance author. Her Southwark Saga is one of my favourite series and I want the world to know about it.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.  The S.E.C.R.E.T. series by L. Marie Adeline. I love the whole series.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?  LOL. I have, out of curiosity, and to see if my promotional efforts have worked. There is another Rosanna Leo out there and I believe she is an American dentist.

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?  Definitely a sleepy house cat.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?  The whole thin skin/thick skin syndrome is probably something that bothers me…if I let it. Over the years, I’ve gotten better at putting aside negative opinions. After all, we can’t please everyone. We just want to. LOL

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?  Read outside your genre every so often, if you don’t already. You can learn a lot about writing from authors of all genres and adapt that to romance or your chosen genre.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?  Write book 2. Now.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?  I’ve been trying to pay it forward since I started because I received help from so many nice people in the romance world. I often feature other authors on my blog, in my newsletter, in my tweets. I share posts for others in my reader group on FB as well. Just a lot of general cheerleading for some great friends and talented authors.

Want to know more about Rosanna?

 

The Gemini Island Shifters Series

Predator’s Kiss (Book 1)  Predator's Kiss (Gemini Island Shifters Book 1) by [Leo, Rosanna]

Rosanna Leo weaves a fun, exhilarating tale in Book 1 of her new Gemini Island Shifters series. Thrills, suspense, and humor abound when a rock star brother, stalkers, and a sexy erotica author descend on one ornery bear shifter. Find out for yourself what happens when events conspire to awaken the bear!

Bear shifter Ryland Snow just wants peace. The peace and quiet afforded him at his woodsy retreat, the Ursa Fishing Lodge. As owner of the lodge, Ryland enjoys the tranquil life he’s created among his fellow shifters. He lives to maintain a safe haven for them, away from meddlesome human eyes.

When his rock star brother arrives, bringing trouble in the form of a possible hit man, Ryland is incensed. He’s been cleaning up Soren’s messes as long as he can remember, and is tired of his brother’s lecherous exploits.

Things go from bad to worse when Lia Goodblood stumbles upon Ryland and his lodge. Yes, the reclusive erotica author is easy on the eyes, but the human woman is more trouble than she’s worth. To say nothing of her bizarre fear of furry creatures.

Ryland determines to rid himself of her presence. But when he learns she’s on the run from a crazed fan, Ryland’s protective bear instincts flare. And the bear won’t be denied.

Content Notes: Paranormal, Shifters, Contemporary, Spicy

Buy Predator’s Kiss on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 

Predator’s Serenade (Book 2)  Predator's Serenade (Gemini Island Shifters Book 2) by [Leo, Rosanna]

He’s a rock star shifter on a mission of mercy, she’s a mother who will do anything for her child. Can a famed playboy find love with a soccer mom? You’ll be singing the praises of Rosanna Leo’s passionate, new romance, Predator’s Serenade, Book 2 of the Gemini Island Shifters series.

There are three things that make bear shifter Soren Snow’s skin crawl: mothers, their children, and the great outdoors. Soren is a famed musician and playboy, and he would rather spend his days pressing the flesh with the women in his fan club than developing meaningful relationships. When his brother calls in a favor, forcing Soren to revisit the Ursa Fishing Lodge in Northern Ontario, he couldn’t be more displeased. However, he owes his brother big time.

Gioia Clementine would rather not meet Soren, her drummer son’s rock idol. But when tragedy strikes her home, it seems the only one the boy might respond to is Soren. Gioia begrudgingly agrees to let her son meet him, hoping the rock star won’t turn her tween into a musical misogynist.

When Gioia and Soren meet, the sexual chemistry threatens to set the Ontario woodland ablaze. Can these two opposites find a common ground? And can they manage to resolve their unwanted feelings, even when a mysterious stranger arrives at the lodge, threatening everything?

Content Notes: Spicy

Buy Predator’s Serenade from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 

Predator’s Refuge (Book 3) Predator's Refuge (Gemini Island Shifters Book 3) by [Leo, Rosanna]

A tiger shifter searching for a safe place to hide. A lynx shifter trying to prove herself. Neither expecting the desire that flares between them … nor the danger stalking them. Suspense and passion fill the pages of Predator’s Refuge, Book 3 of Rosanna Leo’s thrilling romance series, Gemini Island Shifters.

Lynx shifter Marci Lennox has worked at the shifter-friendly Ursa Fishing Lodge and Resort all her adult life. It’s more a home to her than a job. When her boss goes on vacation, putting her in charge, Marci is thrilled. Finally a chance to prove she has the mettle to run a resort.

Her confidence is shaken when new employee Anton Gaspar appears. One look at the mysterious tiger shifter spells trouble for Marci and for her sex-crazed lynx. Anton is judgmental, condescending, and a little misogynistic. Unfortunately, Marci’s lynx thinks his tiger is more delicious than an oversized bag of Maltesers.

It becomes difficult for Marci to remain neutral near Anton, especially when she learns of his troubling past and unusual family circumstances. However, when dangerous incidents occur on the resort, the lynx woman and tiger man join forces to combat the threat to the lodge and its guests.

Harder still is the quest to combat their explosive feelings for one another. As they explore their mutual passion, they realize the danger at the resort is more insidious than they ever envisioned. Their dreams, their love, and their very lives are at stake.

Content Notes: Hot, Paranormal, Contemporary, Shifters, Suspense

Buy Predator’s Refuge from Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

 

Predator’s Claim (Book 4) Predator's Claim (Gemini Island Shifters Book 4) by [Leo, Rosanna]

As a new Alpha, Bart Cairo has his hands full. His pack is driving him crazy, an old enemy is knocking at the door, and he’s ready to stake his claim on the woman that has been his heart’s desire for years. You’ll love Predator’s Claim, Book 4 of Gemini Island Shifters, author Rosanna Leo’s hot paranormal romance series.

For years, wolf shifter Bart Cairo has harbored secret feelings for his co-worker, Charlotte Moffatt. Even though he thinks he’s been discreet with his affections, everyone at Gemini Island’s Ursa Fishing Lodge knows he and Charlotte, a fellow wolf shifter, are meant to be mates. Everyone but Charlotte.

Charlotte couldn’t be less interested in mating. A free spirit, she wants nothing more than to succeed at her new career in the big city and leave small-town Gemini Island behind. However, she can’t deny Bart stirs up unwanted emotions inside her. Emotions she swore she’d never feel again.

The occasion of Bart’s family reunion compels him to assume new responsibilities, and to consider a role he never envisioned for himself. Family tensions rise to the surface as a new Alpha is proclaimed in his pack. And when old grudges escalate, Bart must stake his claim.

Charlotte resists as he stakes a claim on her as well. But when he begins to employ sexual tactics of temptation, she wonders if the only solution is submission to the enticing wolf man. Can she trust her heart again? And can they find their happy ending before an enemy cuts their story short?

Buy Predator’s Claim from Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

Predator’s Fire (Book 5) Predator's Fire (Gemini Island Shifters Book 5) by [Leo, Rosanna]

Nina never dreamed a world of shape shifters could exist. Killian never dreamed he’d fall in love with a human. Neither of them ever expected their love would make them targets of a vicious shifter cult. Together, they’ll have to find a way to protect Gemini Island from destruction! Rosanna Leo is pleased to bring you Predator’s Fire, Book 5 of her passionate romance series, Gemini Island Shifters.

When Nina Suzuki discovers the body of her best friend Janine, her world turns upside down. Things go from bad to worse when Janine’s corpse seems to transform into that of a large, brown wolf. For the first time, Nina is faced to confront all the clues indicating her BFF was not what she seemed. A letter from the dead woman opens Nina’s eyes to a strange, new world. The same letter warns of a sinister group called the Alpha Brethren, and urges her to find Killian Moon of the Ursa Fishing Lodge and Resort on Gemini Island.

Killian Moon is a jaguar shifter and teen mentor at the Ursa Lodge in Northern Ontario. He may be a comfort and inspiration to confused teen shifters, but he also has a fiery past. His past comes back to haunt him when human Nina arrives at the resort, demanding to speak with him. Demanding answers. Can he trust her with knowledge that will not only change her life, but possibly endanger those around him?

As Killian begrudgingly tutors Nina on all things shifter, their mutual curiosity flares into passionate need. Once they touch, once they succumb to desire, there is no going back. Killian realizes Nina is his mate and they both begin to comprehend the terror threatening those on their shifter-friendly island. He is forced to confront the tragedy in his family and determines to protect Nina at all costs.

But can they protect everyone they love from a cult of dangerous shifters, intent on horror and destruction?

Buy Predator’s Fire from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 

Predator’s Trinity (Book 6) Predator's Trinity (Gemini Island Shifters Book 6) by [Leo, Rosanna]

Suzan has become the obsession of a vicious cult leader. Percy and Byron are jaguar shifter twins who will stop at nothing to protect her. In Suzan, they have recognized their mate, the one woman they always dreamed of sharing. But when evil visits the Ursa Fishing Lodge and Resort on Gemini Island, will their love be enough to defeat it? The passion and suspense continue in Predator’s Trinity, Book 6 of Rosanna Leo’s paranormal romance series, Gemini Island Shifters.

Librarian Suzan Marsh is an empath who has always felt assaulted by the feelings of others. She has had to distance herself from the people in her life, raising a mental barrier to ward off unwanted emotions. When wolf shifter August Crane abducts her, he breaks through the walls she constructed, forcing her to accept a frightening new truth.

Jaguar shifter twins Percy and Byron Moon are familiar with the evil ways of August Crane. Because of him, their childhood was destroyed. Because of him, their way of life at the peaceful Ursa Fishing Lodge and Resort is threatened. And they won’t rest until he is dead.

When Crane drags Suzan into his cult and decides to make her his “concubine,” Percy and Byron know they must save the human woman. Their connection to her is strong, and they cannot deny the dream they always held close. That they could share a woman and make her their mate.

But even after rescuing Suzan, none of them are free from Crane’s clutches. The wolf shifter has plans, ones that involve the demise of every shape-shifter at the Ursa Resort. Not only must Percy and Byron keep Suzan safe, they must convince her to accept them both. In order to stop Crane from hurting everyone they love, they must learn to fight together.

Buy Predator’s Trinity on Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

 

Predator’s Rescue (Book 7) Predator's Rescue (Gemini Island Shifters Book 7) by [Leo, Rosanna]

Peace has been restored to Gemini Island, but wolf shifter Fleur Bissette isn’t rid of her personal demons. Can the good guys ever trust a former bad girl? And can a noble tiger man learn to love a woman who hasn’t learned to love herself? Find out in Predator’s Rescue, Book 7 in the Gemini Island Shifters series by paranormal romance author Rosanna Leo.

Tiger shifter Jani Fodor should have washed his hands of Fleur Bissette long ago. However, when she disappears from the shape-shifter sanctuary on Gemini Island, he can’t forget her, and launches a fraught two-week search to find her. He thinks she’ll be grateful but the petulant she-wolf resents his intrusion in her life.

Jani recently liberated Fleur from a vicious cult of shape-shifters, where she was brainwashed by the sadistic August Crane. The wolf shifter terrorized their friends at the Ursa Fishing Lodge and Resort on Gemini Island. Labeled a “bad girl” all her life, Fleur knows she’ll never fit in with the good guys at the Ursa, no matter how much Jani tries to convince her of their regard. Besides, she can’t stay with Jani. Although he’s the closest thing she’s ever had to a friend, their chemistry is explosive in the worst way.

When a new menace arises, in the form of a vicious drug dealer with a grudge, Jani is adamant Fleur accept his help to rehabilitate her addict mother and remove her from the influence of her dealer. Fleur accepts Jani’s assistance but as they work together, friendship erupts into passion. Neither can deny their lust-struck spirit animals, and before long, they realize their connection runs deeper than they ever expected.

Despite the threats posed by the drug dealer, the worst danger of all dwells inside Fleur. Haunted by the spirit of August Crane, Fleur is inundated by visions that torment her. She is consumed by guilt and plagued by old hostilities. Can this bad girl make good? And is Jani’s love enough to save her from her demons?

Buy Predator’s Rescue on Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

 

Predator’s Salvation (Book 8) Predator's Salvation (Gemini Island Shifters Book 8) by [Leo, Rosanna, Leo, Rosanna]

The shape shifters from Gemini Island’s Ursa Resort have been through hell. In the battle with their enemy the Alpha Brethren, they suffered losses and are still dealing with the emotional aftermath. No one in this heroic group has emerged unscathed.

When mountain lion shifter Connor Church lost his best friend, he made a vow to protect his widow and small children. Of everyone on Gemini Island, he knows best how badly the young family has suffered.

Unfortunately, Elaine Gleason hasn’t made it easy for Connor. Drowning in grief, she moved her family far away. When a medical emergency forces them to return, she is confronted by unexpected feelings for Connor, a man who has always been one of her closest friends. Her emotions send her into a tailspin when it becomes clear Connor feels the same way. They fight the attraction, tortured by their loyalty to Elaine’s dead mate.

When a remorseless organ trafficker develops an obsession for Elaine, Connor’s protective instincts emerge and he realizes his feelings run much deeper than friendship. The friends at the Ursa must do battle once more. But even if they win, can Elaine ever move past her grief and start a new life with Connor?

Buy Predator’s Salvation from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

The Greek God Romances

For the Love of a God For the Love of a God by [Leo, Rosanna]

Conservator Maia Douglas is an expert on ancient Greece and its mythology. She would never tell anyone at the museum where she works, but she’s always had a secret crush on the mythical Eryx, Greek god of love. There is nothing she loves more than to tend to her favorite statue of him, and her nighttime dreams are filled with luscious images of Eryx making love to her.
One day, the peace at Maia’s beloved museum is shattered when a new director arrives. A man who looks exactly like her image of Eryx. As Maia watches, he manages to upset her ordered museum world, at the same time he inflames her with unwanted desire.

Maia does not know that her new boss is actually the god Eryx, disguised as a mortal so he may work in antiquities. Although he is the god of love, he has forsaken his sexual nature because of a curse that has killed any woman he’s dared to love. Though he fights it, Eryx is drawn to Maia with a force he’s never experienced in a thousand years. But can he convince her of his true identity?

And can he protect her from a vengeful goddess who seeks her destruction?

Buy For the Love of a God from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 

Sweet Hell Sweet Hell by [Leo, Rosanna]

Dionysus, Greek god of wine and theater, is the world’s original playboy. But lately, he has been restless, moody, and he knows something is wrong. His carefree and bacchanalian lifestyle is starting to feel like one long string of meaningless sexual escapades. Even worse, he is suddenly aroused by the idea of marriage. To top it all off, Josie Marino, the mouthy, disheveled, and eternally annoying woman who serves him coffee at the local bakery, sets him on fire.

Josie, a Toronto baker of Italian heritage, is not looking for love or lust. Especially not with Dionysus Iros, the most aggravating, demanding customer she’d ever had to serve. With his rippling muscles and sexy, knowing eyes, he’s obviously trouble with a capital T. Unfortunately, he’s also the star of her every X-rated dream. She’s known players like Dionysus before, and one of them almost got the better of her. Josie determines she will not fall for his considerable physical charms, come hell or high water.

But Dionysus turns strangely protective when a sinister character arrives at Josie’s bakery, and they can no longer deny their unwanted feelings for one another. They are forced to embark on a bizarre, sexually-charged journey to hell itself, which threatens to either change them for the better, or destroy them.

Buy Sweet Hell from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Sunburn Sunburn by [Leo, Rosanna]

There’s more going on at famed Helios Resort in Mexico than meets the eye and Patience O’Conner is going to figure out what, even if it kills her . . . Which is exactly what Death has planned.

Patience O’Conner is a travel blogger who lives for her work. Her dedication to her readers brings her to the famed Helios Resort in Mexico, a locale that stuns her with its beauty but at which she suffers from some very strange accidents.

Luckily, hunky resort bartender Apollo Delos is always there in the nick of time, a malcontent guardian angel. Apollo stuns Patience again and again with his life-saving abilities, to say nothing of his smoldering looks and apparent desire to keep her alive.

Before long, Patience wonders if there is more to the sexy bartender than mixed cocktails and insane first-aid skills. Something strange is happening at Helios and Apollo doesn’t want to talk about it.

Can Patience open herself up to this enigmatic man, even though she is terrified to be vulnerable again? And can Apollo recover from an eternity of hurt and learn to trust once more? They must both decide before Death comes calling.

Buy Sunburn from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

The Handymen Series

A Good Man (Book 1) A Good Man (Handymen Series Book 1) by [Leo, Rosanna]

Not only is Michael a star on a successful home improvement show, he’s also seen as a local hero. But no one knows about the demons he carries inside him ever since the day he risked his life to save others.

All the accolades and honors only make the memories stronger and the pain unbearable. He would do anything to be able to forget, to put his past behind him and move on.

Michael takes on a new home improvement project, convinced it’s the perfect distraction. Little did he know that Emily, the woman who’s supposed to be nothing more than a client, would turn out to be a huge distraction…and engaged.

While Emily battles with her own personal problems, Michael is determined to keep his distance. The last thing he needs is woman trouble. But when it becomes clear that the attraction is mutual, he realizes staying away from her is not an option.

Now Michael needs to decide if he’s willing to risk exposing his weakness, and his heart…by giving in to temptation.

Buy A Good Man on Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

Orkney Selkies Series

The Selkie (Book 1) The Selkie (Orkney Selkies Book 1) by [Leo, Rosanna]

This was supposed to be her year. However, after losing her job and discovering her fiancé cheating, Maggie Collins has her doubts. When her grandmother dies, she hits rock bottom. Maggie travels to her grandmother’s home in Orkney, Scotland to sort through her gran’s things, only to discover the old woman has left her a seal pelt as her inheritance. She also learns that others are after the pelt.

To add to her frustration, Maggie’s dreams are filled with luscious images of a long-haired man, images that draw her to the magical beaches in Orkney. Although she’s lost her trust in men, this dream man inspires her with a lust she’s never known before.

Calan Kirk has also been dreaming. Dreaming of Maggie, the mortal woman who arouses him as no other woman ever has. Meeting her in the flesh when she arrives in Orkney is nothing short of spontaneous sexual combustion. But she is a human, and not to be trusted. He needs the seal pelt, not a red-haired temptress.

As a thief ransacks Maggie’s grandmother’s house, Maggie and Calan are thrust together. They must search for the animal skin, a mythical relic which once found, will either bring them together or rip them apart forever.

Buy The Selkie on Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

 

Selkie’s Revenge (Book 2) Selkie's Revenge (Orkney Selkies Book 2) by [Leo, Rosanna]

When a heartbroken, lonely widow is saved by an equally heartbroken, mysterious man, their lives are changed forever. But evil stalks the beaches of Orkney. Before their long-buried emotions can take flight, they have to save themselves from a monster with no soul. The pages burn with passion in Book 2 of Rosanna Leo’s hot, fantasy series, Orkney Selkies.

On the beaches of Orkney, Scotland, an evil entity stalks mortal women. Machar “Mack” Kirk is a selkie man with a haunted past, one that has prompted him to become a hunter. He prowls the beaches at night, his arrows aiming for the finman who took his first love.

Beth Pedersen also watches the sea. The haunted widow has suffered losses of her own, ones that have crippled her into a state of stony grief. Beth can no longer feel, can no longer see color and life. Until the day Mack Kirk saves her from a mysterious foe, flooding her world with brightness and foreign temptation.

As Mack and Beth fight their growing passion, the finman escalates his attacks. Before long, Mack realizes he’s not just playing Good Samaritan. He wants Beth, too, and will do anything to ensure his lover isn’t taken by the finman. But can he protect his mate from a monster with no soul?

Buy Selkie’s Revenge from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 

Selkie’s Lure (Book 3) Selkie's Lure (Orkney Selkies Book 3) by [Leo, Rosanna, Leo, Rosanna]

Amy Woods, one of TV’s famed Beast Seekers, has come to Orkney, Scotland, to hunt sirens. One of them killed her sister and she has sworn revenge. Most people think she’s crazy for believing in monsters. She knows the truth. But while patrolling one of Orkney’s cold beaches, she runs into a naked selkie man rather than a siren, and he proves to be an alluring distraction.

Edan Kirk is a selkie, one of an ancient race of seal shape shifters. When he hears of Amy’s intention to hunt sirens, tragic memories overwhelm him. He knows he must get rid of the pesky human. As much as he tries to convince her she’s on a fool’s errand, he can’t resist trying to protect her. After all, he has heard the enticing song of the sirens and he knows its deadly power.

As Amy and Edan engage in a battle of wits and wills, other emotions rush to the fore. Their connection is intense, the sort to come along only once in a lifetime. Edan recognizes her as his mate. However, another woman has set her sights on him as well, one whose powers of seduction are legendary. One whose voice has driven men to madness and devastation.

Can Amy accept Edan as her mate, making her home in the world of the supernatural? And can they save each other from a beast that cannot be destroyed?

Buy Selkie’s Lure from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 

The Vegas Sins Series

Vice (Book 1) Vice (Vegas Sins Series Book 1) by [Leo, Rosanna, Publishing, Crave ]

Las Vegas has it all—casinos, gambling, money, and women. For a handsome business entrepreneur, it’s paradise.

Wearing success like a well-tailored suit, it’s business as usual for Liam Doyle while he runs his multi-million-dollar empire…until a pesky protester catches his attention.

Staging a one-woman demonstration, Kate Callender has the potential to be a huge pain in his ass. If he doesn’t take care of her soon, there will be bad publicity slapped all over Vice, the newest addition to his chain of casinos.

But there’s one tiny problem Liam didn’t count on—the feisty redhead isn’t about to go down easily. She’s fighting him every step of the way…and he’s starting to like it.

Buy Vice from Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

 

Covet (Book 2) 

Coming July 31 to Crave Publishing.

Alex just acquired Sin City’s hottest casino hotel, and he’s determined to make Vice the ultimate pleasure palace—along with the mind-blowing new club, Covet.

But behind the successful entrepreneur façade, Alex struggles with a past that continues to haunt him, day in and day out.

After a surprise hookup with a beautiful stranger, he thinks he’s found the perfect distraction…until she walks out, leaving him with an unfamiliar ache which the pulse-pounding nights of excess at Covet can’t soothe.

When their paths cross once again, Alex realizes Dana is so much more than a mere distraction. He wants her—all of her.

But having her means he needs to face both her demons…and his own.

Night Lover Night Lover by [Leo, Rosanna]

Canadian soprano Renata Bruno is tired of waiting for her big break. Unfortunately, her boss, the conductor of a chamber ensemble, sees her as little more than background material. When she learns of an opportunity to sing solo with a different troupe in England, she knows she must seize it. Especially when she hears the group is to perform Mozart’s Requiem, her favorite work.

As soon as Renata decides to make her move, a strange, sultry presence invades her life. She begins dreaming of a man, one who makes love to her, bewitching her. It isn’t long before her night lover leaves startling proof of his nocturnal presence, making her doubt her senses.

To compound her discomfort, she learns her new conductor is the college boyfriend who broke her heart years ago. As Renata grapples with old hurts and renewed passion, she must also fend off the increasingly fervent advances of her night-time visitor. She realizes she is under the influence of an incubus, a sexual demon.

It becomes harder to resist the incubus when she learns he has a name and had a tragic history. The more she discovers about his past, the more she realizes they are linked in more ways than one. Renata begins to rediscover love and her sense of faith, but will it be enough to save her night lover from an evil curse? And will it destroy her in the process?

Get Night Lover from Amazon

 

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Book Release: Nocturne (Nightmusic Trilogy #2) by Heather McKenzie

 

NOW AVAILABLE IN PRINT!

Nocturne
Heather McKenzie
(Nightmusic Trilogy, #2)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Print Publication date: July 10, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Young Adult

I am hunted.
A pawn in a vicious game.
The only way I can protect the ones I love…
…is to disappear.

Finally free of her father, Kaya has the one thing that keeps her heart beating—Luke.

Blissfully content in his arms, everything seems perfect…until their world is shattered by a deadly invasion. When an old ally comes to the rescue, Kaya wants none of it. She is devastated to learn the identity of her attacker, and that she must do something truly heartbreaking if she wants to save the ones she loves. Sacrificing everything and sinking into bottomless sorrow, Kaya finds solace in an unlikely friend—one who shows her a different kind of love, and helps her discover an inner strength she never thought possible.

A heart-pounding journey of self-discovery, Nocturne is the transformative second installment of The Nightmusic Trilogy by Heather McKenzie.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

 

 

Author Bio:

Heather McKenzie is the Canadian author of The Nightmusic Trilogy. Also a professional singer/songwriter with five albums to date, she told stories through music for years before falling in love with novel writing. Heather pulls from her extraordinary experiences as a musician to fuel her passion for creating Young Adult fiction. She is a rocker at heart, a mom of three and an aspiring painter.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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Book Review: The Forest Queen by Betsy Cornwell

*Note, I was provided an advanced reader’s copy of The Forest Queen from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Robin Hood reimagined as a female? Yes, please!

The Forest Queen is the story of Lady Silviana of Loughsley, “Silvie”. Raised amongst the wealth and power of nobility, Silvie has been isolated from the struggles of the countrymen who live just outside the walls of her manor. But when her father grows ill, and the king names her brother, John as Sheriff, Silvie begins to see just how barbaric and cruel he’ll be with the power he’s been granted.

In the dark of the night Silvie flees her home with her best friend, Bird (Robert Falconer). Together they, along with a steadily increasing band of followers, build haven in the trees of the surrounding forest.

In true Robin Hood fashion Silvie and her new friends return to Loughsley in nighttime raids to “rob from the rich and give to the poor”.

The Forest Queen was an intriguing concept. I found it a bit hard to get drawn in to at the beginning and found the build up to be slow. This book might be setting the groundwork for further books, which I understand, but I’d prefer more swashbuckling and adventure with my Robin Hood stories (even if it’s just Book 1).

Some of the characters felt underdeveloped, I did come to really like Bird and Little Jane though.

One of the things I really appreciated in this book was the idea that a female character could be relied on to take the leadership role in both a rebellion and the establishment of a community. Just because of her own attributes Silvie was viewed as the authority figure in the band of evacuees from Loughsley.

I can’t say I liked The Forest Queen enough to rave about it, but it was entertaining, interesting and an easy read.

 

The Forest Queen will be available on Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble and from other retailers on August 7, 2018 (follow the links for more information or to pre-order).

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Author Spotlight: TJ Turner

 Name: TJ Turner

Author of: Lincoln’s Bodyguard; Land of Wolves: The Return of Lincoln’s Bodyguard

From: Yellow Springs, OH

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing? 

I remember writing a brilliant piece of science fiction, a short story, when I was in about 5th grade (please note the sarcasm here!) I was devastated that it was not accepted into Isaac Asimov’s magazine! I had a lot to learn. I would love to find that story and to see just how horrible it really was. I wrote it late at night when my father brought home this “computer” thing, and I learned I could write a story, save it, and print it out on our old dot-matrix printer.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

Honestly, it was after graduate school. That experience beat the fun out of me, and I took a long hard look at what I wanted to do with my life. My choices narrowed to astronaut, author, bike racer, or engineer. The first one didn’t work out, even after I chased it to the point of joining the Air Force. The whole bike race thing went pretty good for a while, and I raced at the National level a bit. But the guys who go pro were on a whole other level. I had just finished my PhD in engineering, so I marched happily along that route. When I mentioned to my wife that I wanted to wrote a novel, she told me something like, “that’s way too hard.” Challenge accepted! That first novel is something like that first story—awful!

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

Too many to list! Of course, my wife provided that initial kick (in the posterior). But then I found this really welcoming community of writer’s when I attended the Antioch Writer’s workshop. There I met many other folks on this same struggle to write and become published. In particular, I met Robert Inman as one of the faculty members. He in turn introduced me to his editor, Bill Phillips. Bill read through my second novel, and helped me revise it a few times. Then he delivered the awful news…move on to something else because something in this manuscript is not working. At first I was depressed about that verdict, but then Bill is a man who knows the industry—he worked at Little and Brown as an Editor. And I didn’t have to wait long for inspiration. The idea for LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD struck that very afternoon—for every door that closes! After that, I have several friends who proof-read my manuscripts, to include my wife Nancy, who is brutal in her redactions. Sharon Short, another novelist, has been amazing at giving great focused feedback. And of course, Elizabeth Kracht, my agent is awesome at honing in and finding any flaw. By the time it hits the publisher and my editor, it’s usually pretty clean.

Do you exclusively write historical fiction or have you written in other genres?

So far it’s been just historical fiction. At least all my published works are historical fiction. I know that as writers we sometimes get the advice to “write what you know”, but I think that turns out to be terrible advice. Instead, if you listen to any lectures by Andre Dubus III, I think he nails it. You should write what you are authentically curious about. I love history. In particular, I love American history. I read almost all historical fiction and non-fiction about our nation’s past. So the whole LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD inspiration probably came from that deep curiosity about our own history as a nation.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

Absolutely! It’s really difficult to sleep. I don’t force the writing. If I feel like it, I write. If I don’t, then I leave it be. I find that works for me. But I am most productive between 10pm and 2am. The kids are asleep. Nancy has most likely fallen asleep with the TV on, and I can just zone out and write. I like to get a chapter a night in. Once I start writing, I need to finish that chapter or scene. Then the next day I start by re-reading that chapter, editing, and then pushing forward.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

About 6 months. I find that process is getting smoother, and at 6 months I’m fairly confident in the draft I have. LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD took me much longer, but that was the first real published work. I learned a lot from that process.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

It’s a lot of reading. I can generally narrow it down to a time period, and a general event for background. For instance, with LAND OF WOLVES, I read a ton about the westward migration along the Oregon trail, and then the Lakota wars. So those factor heavily into the second portion of the book. I would say that I spend a good 2-3 months in research up front, then start writing. When I hit walls, I go back to the research.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

And you want me to tell! Well, I never let anyone read a manuscript until it’s all the way done. I let Nancy read one half way once, and she crushed my motivation to keep going on it. So I finish it, then take a couple of passes myself on the manuscript, then I let her read it. Other than that, I keep a list of words (kind of like filter words if you do a google on that term), to search for in my manuscript. That list has been found from experience, and points to places where I need to make my writing more impactful, or closer to the reader.

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

I have! Or maybe more truthfully, the background came to me when I was out on a road trip. Our family took a trip a couple years ago to Yellowstone, to celebrate my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary. So we took an extra week and went along a portion of the route of the Ingles family. My oldest is a huge Little House on the Prairie fan, and she loved stopping at all the sites. So when we traveled through the Dakotas, I started feeling the call of LAND OF WOLVES, and that I had to set a portion of the novel there.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

So for LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD, that’s easy. When I received Bill Phillip’s recommendation to let go of my current project and move on, I literally left work early. We talked at lunch, and I think I made it another hour before I drove home. I had sunk so much time into that project, to see it flounder was hard to take. It was even harder to have to go home and admit to my wife that I had been spending hours upon hours of my life writing and it would go nowhere. But on the way home I turned on NPR, and Fresh Air was on one of our local channels. Terri Gross was interviewing someone, and they were talking about presidents. When they got to Lincoln she said something to the effect of: “Wouldn’t it be a different country if President Lincoln had a real bodyguard?” And just like that, the title of LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD flashed in my head.

For LAND OF WOLVES, I don’t know if I have such a singular moment. I knew it had to be a continuation of LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD, and I had the first half mapped out in my head. But it took that trip out west to see the second half of the novel. The pull of the landscape and the history there was too great to ignore. It had to go in the book.

And finally, for ANGEL IN THE FOG (working title), which I just turned in, I knew it would be the prequel that would be all about Molly—my female protagonist. Molly really comes into her own in LAND OF WOLVES, and a few friends and readers were hounding me about her story. I just didn’t know if I could write well for a female character, especially as well as Molly deserves. Then, and this is going to sound corny, I first heard the Kesha song Praying, and that was it. I play that song before each writing session on Angel on the Fog. It put me in the right mood to write Molly, and really try to give her the voice she deserved.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

It’s been a lot of Historical Fiction, and pure history. I might need to branch out! My favorite books? In non-fiction: Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee, April 1865, the Month that Saved America, and XXX. Those books really show you how many stories we’ve lost to time. How many people who suffered, or persevered, or overcame awesome struggles, that we’ll never know about. I want to give them all a voice, even if I can only write a few books. On the fiction side, my absolute favorite is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I wish I could write like him. That was the first book where I NOTICED amazing writing. After that, Red Badge of Courage (an oldie!), Cold Mountain, and True Grit. All great reads.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

YES! But if I tell you…but yes, I do!

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

Yes and no. They’re all bits and pieces of real people I meet and characters I make up.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

There’s a few that grab me as being under appreciated. One that comes to mind is True Grit. And I know, it’s wildly popular. But it didn’t win any awards that I can think of, and I think it kind of gets overlooked for one of the principal things it does—places a female character out front as a strong driving lead throughout the book. In fact, she’s the reason the men even take up the whole adventure. If you think about the setting, in the Old West, and when the book was written (1968), that’s pretty interesting. On the truly unappreciated side, there’s this book written by a former aid worker in Afghanistan: Allah’s Angels. If I remember right, it’s self-published, and it could have used some editorial work, but the basic story was very compelling. Again, a female lead in a male dominated world. It may have had its shortcomings in terms of the writing, but the story is something I still think on.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Glory Road by Robert Heinlein. I first picked it up form a discarded pile in Bagram Afghanistan in 2010. I read it, and thought…what the heck was that? Then I read it again. I still have no idea what really happens in that book, but every once in a while, it makes me think about it. Kind of crazy.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

I’ve done it! I admit it…the football player TJ Turner is still way more popular than I am!

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

I’ll go with the wolf. I like the quote that you sometimes see around: “The lion and tiger might be stronger, but the wolf does not perform in the circus.” It’s a pack animal and needs a family around to succeed. I’ve certainly needed that and continue to need the support of my pack.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

I think my biggest weakness is truly flushing out my antagonists. Part of that in my first two novels comes from POV. I used the 1st person, so it’s hard to really get into the mind of the “enemy”. In ANGEL IN THE FOG, I wrote it in 3rd person, and that felt more natural. But the more believable and human you can make your antagonists, the higher the stakes. It becomes a better story.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

READ. Then start writing. Then finish writing. Then find someone who loves you to look at it. Then find someone who DOESN’T love you to look at it.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

The same! Being published is just another step in the journey, it doesn’t make you a better or worse writer. Keep striving to improve.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

Probably the biggest way is through the Antioch Writer’s Workshop. I’m currently the President of the board of trustees, who organizes and runs the workshop. It’s a great place, where I got my start. So we’ve implemented many programs, including ones for young writers. If you’re looking for a community, come and check it out! We’re all about empowering writers.

Want more information on TJ and his books?

 

Lincoln’s Bodyguard

In Lincoln’s Bodyguard, an alternative version of American history, President Lincoln is saved from assassination. Though he prophesied his own death the only way he believed the South would truly surrender Lincoln never accounted for the heroics of his bodyguard, Joseph Foster. A biracial mix of white and Miami Indian, Joseph makes an enemy of the South by killing John Wilkes Booth and preventing the death of the president. His wife is murdered and his daughter kidnapped, sending Joseph on a revenge-fueled rampage to recover his daughter. When his search fails, he disappears as the nation falls into a simmering insurgency instead of an end to the War. Years later, Joseph is still running from his past when he receives a letter from Lincoln pleading for help. The President has a secret mission. Pursued from the outset, Joseph turns to the only person who might help, the woman he abandoned years earlier. If he can win Molly over, he might just fulfill the President s urgent request, find his daughter, and maybe even hasten the end of the War.

 

Buy Lincoln’s Bodyguard from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble 

 

 

 Land of Wolves

Land of Wolves finds Joseph Foster with Molly as they settle into a new-found life in the hills of Tennessee. But Abraham Lincoln’s former bodyguard, the man who saved the President’s life, cannot escape the Consortium as they come roaring back, killing his mother, abducting his daughter—all to coerce his Congressional testimony on their behalf.

Instead, Joseph and Molly strike the Consortium in their own safe haven of New York City. In a Bonnie and Clyde-like twist, they rob from the Consortium to draw out their leader—General Dorsey. But the hidden plan reveals more than they counted on, exposing the true intention to steal the Black Hills and the gold underneath from the Lakota Sioux. Land of Wolves traverses the American landscape, where only a full reconciliation with Joseph’s native heritage and a cast of characters ripped from history—including Lincoln—can bring true peace and stop General Dorsey and the evil Industrial Consortium.

 

Buy Land of Wolves from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

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Announcement: The Light at Finnigan’s End (Rum Runners Book 2)

I am so happy to announce that my second book, The Light at Finnigan’s End, is going to be published on November 5, 2018. I am again working with the wonderful team at Changing Tides Publishing and this novel will be a follow up to A Shine That Defies the Dark, as well as #2 in The Rum Runners series.

 

Here is a little about The Light At Finnigan’s End:

Irish immigrant Deirdre Cassidy is determined to find out what happened to her brother, Finn. With the Great Depression sweeping the nation, Finn turned to the Moret Gang as a means of earning money and now he’s missing.

Deirdre manipulates her way into the depths of the most brutal bootleggers in southern Louisiana and one thing is clear, nothing happens without the approval of Claude Moret or his brother Jack. Before it’s over, Deirdre is determined to kill them both, even if she dies in the process.

The one thing Deirdre never counted on was Mo Moret. Claude’s son is as dangerous as he is magnetic, but Deirdre isn’t convinced he’ll ever be able to set aside his Moret loyalty for love. And Deirdre is determined to see the end of the Morets, however that end must come.

 

For those who are subscribed to my newsletter you’ll get a special sneak peak within the next week. If you’d like an early look at the first two chapters you still have time to sign up for my newsletter here

Many thanks to everyone who continued to ask for a second book and everyone who helped me along the way.

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Author Spotlight: Susan Harris

Name: Susan Harris

Author of: Shattered Memories; Jessie’s Girl; The Ever Chase Chronicles (Skin and Bones; Collateral Damage; Smoke and Mirrors; Night of the Hunter and Never Back Down)

From: Cork Ireland

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing? I used to write a lot of poetry as a child and make up short stories. I wrote a poem for a local newsletter about my dad and how awesome he is!

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession? I’ve always wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. When I realized that acting, my other love, wasn’t meant for me, I continued to write despite not knowing if anyone would read them!

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?  When Shattered Memories was selected to be published by the amazing Clean Teen Publishing, I met a wonderful person called Melanie Newton  or(NerdGirlVamp or Melanie’s Muses as she is also known) who has become one of my closest friends. She kicks my ass when I doubt myself, tells me straight out if an idea will work and is basically just an all round amazing person.  She has helped me out so many times and I feel truly blessed to call her a  friend.

Do you exclusively write paranormal romance/crime novels or have you written in other genres? I love paranormal books but I do go off when the story takes me there! Shattered Memories is a YA Dystopian and Jessie’s Girl is contemporary romance. I am currently working on a book that could be classed as Fantasy and Romance …I like to think I am open to writing anything, if inspiration hits.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance? Juggling a work life balance is extremely hard. I work full time, write as much as I can and sometimes venture out of the writing cave to do some fun things! I hate when I get into the flow of a story and have to table it to do non fun stuff like pay bills and socialize lol

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions? It takes me about three to four months to get the first draft done and then go over for revisions. Once the first draft is done, I tend to send it to my trusty beta reader who is way better at spotting my errors than I am.

 Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?  It does depend on the book. For the Ever Chace Chronicles, I did an online course in Criminal Psychology so that I could write true about profiling and the likes. I want it to be realistic even if the supernatural aspect isn’t. I spend hours creating playlists as music plays a very crucial part of my writing process. I’m also a very big outliner and spend a lot of time planning and preparing for each chapter…that is until one of the characters misbehaves and completely changes my entire story!

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)? I don’t think so! I know I use the same kind of pens and notebooks for each story I outline, but then again, I do have OCD so the quirks I have are just really all me lol

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list? Yes actually I have. Last year, while writing Night of the Hunter I went to Paris for a couple of days by myself. It was m=one of the best experiences of my life. I went to the catacombs, and Pére Lachaise Cemetery. All of those amazing places were written into the book and make it so much better than I could have imagined.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?  With The Ever Chace Chronicles, I had been toying with an idea for a while and one night, I was watching Criminal Minds and suddenly thought, what would Hotch be like if he were a werewolf? And the Character of Derek Doyle was created!

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites? I love paranormal romance and fantasy. I am a big fan of J.R Ward, Laurel K Hamilton, Nalini Singh, Sarah J Maas, Darynda Jones, Rachel Vincent, Ilona Andrews to name but a few…I know I am missing some of my favorites but there are too many to name. I am, first and foremost a reader!

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? I do actually. When I wrote Shattered Memories, it was because I had just been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, OCD and depression and my CBT therapist thought it would be a good idea to use my conflicting emotions any convey it in a story. All of the pain, all of the isolation that Alana, the main character, was going through was what I was going through.             I also like to use funny things people have said and use them for certain characters.

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life? Some are …Melanie from The Ever Chace Chronicles is based off of Melanie my friend. Alana from Shattered Memories is also based on the real Alana. Donnie from Ever Chace is based off of Tom Hardy, but that’s for purely selfish reasons lol

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.  Can I say my own? Lol No okay…I’m thinking, I’m thinking….Maybe any of the books by Cat Clarke…she is probably one of the only out of genre authors that I tend to read. Her first book Entangled was sooooooooooo good and A Kiss in the Dark is one of my all time fave books!

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure. The Fault in Our Stars…its john Green I have no other excuse.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself? Nope, not at all. I have no delusions of grandeur haha

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus? Definitely a wolf…or werewolf to be more precise!

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with? Being proud of my accomplishments, I once had a teacher in school tell me I would never be a writer, and now here I am, about to publish my 6th full length novel. I think I proved her wrong many times over.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?  I have a quote tattooed on my arm that reminds me everyday to stay humble and not forget why it is I have to write. It’s a Cyril Connelly quote that I also have above my writing space “Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”  I like to think it means that if you are writing simply to get published and not because you are writing for you the there is no point in it. You have to put all of you in your writing, or else the reader won’t feel it.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? You are doing just fine. Breath, relax, and never, ever, take any reviews to heart!

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers? I share links when asked. I’m also open to give advice though I feel completely unqualified to do so. And more than that, I am more than happy to be an ear or helping hand.

Want to know more about Susan?

 

Skin and Bones (The Ever Chace Chronicles, Book 1)

Being human in a world filled with supernatural creatures can give a girl a complex. Dr. Ever Chace wants nothing more than to be able to stand out in this crazy place she calls home. When she’s asked to consult on a case where teens are being brutalized, she relishes the chance to make a difference by helping to stop a monster. But when she’s teamed up to work alongside a sexy shifter, she ends up with more than she bargained for.
Derek Doyle has been a member of the Paranormal Investigations Team since the monsters first revealed themselves to the world. Considering he believes it takes a monster to catch a monster, he’s definitely in the right place. As a lone wolf not used to letting many people in, he isn’t prepared for the effect his new partner, consultant Dr. Ever Chace, has on him.
With a murderer on the loose, Ever and Derek will have to put their attraction aside while the hunt continues. Easier said than done… right?

 

Buy Skin and Bones from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

 Collateral Damage (The Ever Chace Chronicles, Book 2)

When Derek Doyle wakes up next to a ripped-apart body, he’s terrified he’s about to lose everything he holds dear—Ever, his job, and his family. Dealing with his past has never come easy to Derek, especially since he’s too afraid of what people would think if they knew exactly what kind of monster he really is. But finding out who’s setting him up could be harder than the team thinks. As long as Derek has lived, there’s bound to be a long list of enemies.
Ever Chace has a lot on her plate. Confronted with the possibility that she is indeed losing her mind, Ever tries to push it aside as they deal with the ramifications of Derek’s past. Every new relationship has teething problems, but learning to deal with a mate who’s used to being a lone wolf has its own set of issues.
Can the team figure out how to save Derek from a swift execution? And just how much strain will the revelations put on Derek and Ever’s shiny new relationship?
Collateral Damage is the exciting sequel to Skin and Bones by Susan Harris.

 

Buy Collateral Damage from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 

 

Smoke and Mirrors (The Ever Chace Chronicles, Book 3) 

Ever Chace is a Valkyrie, but not just any Valkyrie—she’s a Valkyrie queen in the making.
Torn between the past and present, love and obligation, Ever is terrified of saying the words that would break the curse she is bound to. Pushing Derek away hasn’t simplified things; it has only made her miserable. With her father waking, and her and Derek’s lives on the line, can she really shy away from who and what she is becoming? How long can Ever keep her past lives a secret?
Pushing thoughts of his mate aside, Derek tries to focus on the task at hand—tracking down a monster that leaves nothing but a husk behind. But Ever is never truly off his mind, even as two of his own become targets of the unsub. Can he set his personal distractions aside to keep his team alive?

 

Buy Smoke and Mirrors from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Night of the Hunter (The Ever Chace Chronicles, Book 4)

Caitlyn Hardi is on a mission…a suicide mission. Driven by the pain of the past, she sets out to confront the monster deep in the Catacombs of Paris—the one who took everything from her. Caitlyn doesn’t care if she survives Paris. Her only concern is that the vampire who made her does not take another family from her. If dying means keeping everyone she loves safe—especially Donnie—then Caitlyn can accept that…as long as she can take her maker to Hell with her.
Donnie O’Carroll began to live the moment Caitlyn made him a vampire. Caitlyn gave him a family, a purpose, and he’ll be damned if he’s going to allow the darkness to overwhelm the woman he loves. He will fight to the end to prove to Caitlyn that love can conquer all—even if he has to die to do it.
Sacrifice, a supernatural assassin, and immortal love are on a cosmic collision course in this powerful fourth installment of the Ever Chace Chronicles.

 

Buy Night of the Hunter from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

Never Back Down (The Ever Chace Chronicles, Book 5)

(Coming June 26, 2018)

Since the day that she was abandoned on the shores of Valhalla, and fought her way to be the fiercest Valkyrie, Erika has lived by those three words. There has never been a challenge Erika has backed down from; apart from Loki. But when Erika embeds herself in a supernatural fight club in the hopes that she can weed out Odin’s location, Erika will be put to the test. And when love and loyalty cause confusion, can this battle-hardened warrior finally let her guard down enough to see what’s been in front of her all along?

Loki knew the moment he clapped eyes on the beautiful warrior that she was meant for him. However, the Norse God of mischief hides a secret; he was once cursed and has shied away from his feelings to shield himself from hurt. Can he convince Erika that he’s the one meant for her, will he be forced to watch the woman he wants for himself spiral out of control?

 

Buy Never Back Down from Amazon

 

Shattered Memories

Shattered Memories is a stand alone psychological science fiction romance thriller perfect for fans of Hunger Games and Shatter Me.

A terrible tragedy forced Alana McCarthy to forget a year of her life. Now she is to be executed for a crime she doesn’t remember committing—the murder of her entire family. Lost and alone, Alana is terrified of unlocking secrets buried so deep inside her mind that she’s willing to forget the one person who could set her free.
Daniel Costello hasn’t forgotten about Alana, and he will do anything and everything to protect the girl he loves. But first, Alana needs to unlock her memories and find out the truth about what happened the night her family was killed.
The day of her execution is set. Together, will Alana and Daniel be able to uncover the truth behind her family’s deaths before it’s too late?

 

Buy Shattered Memories from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 

 

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