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Knowing when to reboot with Lila Munro

It’s odd for me to think at times in just a few weeks I’ll mark the fourth anniversary of that first “yes” coming to my inbox. While four years is in no way a lifelong career by most standards, it seems quite an accomplishment in my book because they’ve been four years filled with learning, and anyone who knows me knows I’m a lifelong learner.

And sometimes, that learning has to come in the form of knowing when to reboot.

My first “yes” came from a small publisher out of Tennessee whose doors sadly closed earlier this year as is the way I’ve watched many small publishers go the past few months. It is sad. Those doors not only close on a business, they close on someone’s dreams—often times they close on the dreams of many. While the press could in no way control the events (which I am not privy to in any way, shape, or form) leading to the decision to stop operations, it left several authors adrift and their dreams scattered on the winds of change. My works had found other homes before the closing by my choice not by chance as I’d pulled them in an effort to improve their quality.

My third “yes” came from a reputable press from the western US and it was with great pride I sent them a creation which met its match with an editor who I credit a least in part my knowing when to reboot to. That was the point I cemented my belief in quality over quantity any day. I worked really hard at fixing the problems littering the manuscript, but alas, perfection is an elusive creature and while I had improved greatly, I still had a long, long, long way to go.

In the interim, my career started a wide left turn from my original path of career choice. You see, in the beginning I was a straight up contemporary romance girl—no kink, no frills, no fuss. I liked it that way, my readers seemed happy, but the draw of the shiny thing known as the latest fad drew my attention and I soon found myself trapped within its lure. That’s when the BDSM novels started to fly off my keyboard and my life plan as a writer spun off somewhere into the darkness. But it wasn’t irretrievable. Thank goodness!

After a fairly successful run with my Identity series, I started to long for the calmer waters I’d left and sat down to take a serious assessment of what I was doing. Don’t get me wrong. I completely enjoyed and still enjoy writing the kinky characters I grew to know and love as did my readers, but that wasn’t what I originally set out to do. Then the unthinkable happened. My niece who recently reached the “age” asked me if she could read my books. Horror of horrors! Absolutely not, my beautiful niece of all of thirteen, not now not ever!

It’s a sobering experience when you realize what you’re doing isn’t something you’re so proud of you’d let your niece read it even in her adulthood which is years away.

It was while I was in this period of self-analysis when the words stopped and I wondered if they’d ever return, I started looking at my backlist and realizing the growth as a writer I’d always striven for was happening and some of my earlier works could definitely use some brushing up if not complete overhauling. That seemed like a place to jump start. Fix what was broken then maybe something new would come across my screen.

My third “yes” caught my eye. I went to my Kindle and opened it, and I began to read. Tears, laughter, embarrassment…They all collided for an emotional reunion with Madi and Rafe as I realized just how far from perfect their story was and just how hard my editor had tried to teach me things that only later made sense. Things I could now easily fix and make a good story something closer to great.

Point of view? What was that? She’d tried to tell me, but in my inexperience I’d failed to completely absorb the concept. Commas? Oh dear… Chapter breaks, descriptive dialogue tags, character development, plot holes… The list went on and on. After a series of emails with my editor and the owner of the press, I was able to attain the rights to the work back and after weeks which had turned to months of idleness at the keyboard, my muse came home. Not the naughty muse who’d taken over in her high heel boots and corset, but the girl-next-door muse with her hair in a ponytail and her reading glasses sliding down her nose.

I rebooted.

For weeks I ripped at, restructured, rebuilt, and sanded away at what is now titled One Tear. There is not a single incidence of head-hopping, the commas seem to be under control, the chapters are restructured, the plot is clean, the characters are more fully developed, and there are over 15,000 words of brand new content. And…there is a completely different ending.

In short, it’s a much better work. One I am proud of. One my initial readers have said they don’t even recognize as the same story aside from names (and they mean it in a completely good way). One I will let my niece read someday.
There is no shame in knowing when to back up and assess then act on that assessment. Redirection and refocus is a beautiful thing, a humbling thing. Knowing when to reboot truly shows growth.

One Tear will release January 3, 2014, I hope you’ll all join me in celebrating this triumphant moment with me…and don’t be afraid to reboot. You’ll know when it’s time. It’s hard to relent, but once you do, it’s a very freeing experience.

Have a realmantic day, y’all!

Lila Munro

Sometimes mourning the loss of one life while rejoicing the discovery of another requires more than one tear…

Living just outside an Army base in the Midwest meant Madison Melbourne grew up around soldiers by the thousands. While they were a constant in her life, she never envisioned herself filling the role of Army wife. Until Gage came along. Over the course of a few months, Madi knew two things. She might be head over heels and she was definitely pregnant. Against the advice of friends and family, she jumps over the state line and into a marriage that would later be defined by the secrets it held rather than the truths she thought it was based on. Upon his death in combat, Gage leaves Madi with more questions than answers and more debt than money forcing her from her Kentucky home and right back where she started. She may be at square one, but Madi’s determined to move forward and never to be left destitute and heartbroken again.

Seeing how difficult the Marine Corps is on marriages and families, Rafe McCarthy has sentenced himself to a life of hard time as a bachelor, living for the moment and never staying with any woman long enough for the grass to grow beneath his feet. In fact, Rafe has a reputation as the unit player that follows him everywhere he goes with a vengeance. But it seems biological time clocks aren’t just a female thing. In fact, Rafe’s biological alarm goes off one afternoon and like a man possessed, he falls into a wife seeking mode akin to the heat seeking missiles he’s watched zipping over the Middle East for the last several years. It’s only a matter of hours before he has Madi in his crosshairs and a matter of days until he realizes he’s sighted in on one tragically broken woman. But instead of listening to every single male instinct he possesses and running, Rafe digs in his heels, determined they can work and hell-bent on making her happy.

And then the tears come…

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Murph is HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS with giveaway

DENVER, Colo. – Back in the driver’s seat again, the cabbie who made readers laugh out loud in the first three installments of the posthumously published “Asphalt Warrior” series has returned for two more books written by best-selling author Gary Reilly.

Winner of the 1979 Pushcart Prize, Reilly passed away in 2011 after a two-year battle with colon cancer, trusting a pair of friends to publish an 11-book series after his death. Since then, the “Asphalt Warrior” series has been in the hands of Mike Keefe, a retired political cartoonist and Pulitzer Prize winner, and Mark Stevens, a former journalist and acclaimed author in Colorado. Following the successful release of the first three books – “The Asphalt Warrior,” “Ticket to Hollywood,” and “The Heart of Darkness Club,”
which hit No. 1 on the Denver area bestsellers list – the two friends will publish two more books Nov. 21, 2013 in honor of Reilly through Running Meter Press.

 

 

Denver taxi driver Brendan Murphy, aka Murph, returns in Reilly’s fourth book, “Home for the Holidays.” It’s Christmastime, and Murph leaves his cab behind to visit his family in Wichita where he finds himself reluctantly reconnecting with his siblings.

Meanwhile, Murph takes it upon himself to save an old friend from making the biggest mistake of his life – accepting a job where suits and ties are everyday attire.   It will take all of his persuasive powers to rescue Jimmy Callahan from The Suits. That, and maybe a Christmas miracle.
 

 

 

My Take on HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

4.5 stars

Murph has been called home toWichitaby Maw to celebrate the Christmas season with his sisters, their families, and his evil brother, Gavin.  This is Murph’s first trip back home in twenty years.  It’s a true treat to see where and who Murph comes from.

 

It didn’t take long to snuggle back into a world that moves at the speed of Murph.  Our insightful protagonist is a true minimalist.  Not in some avant-garde artsy form but as an honest-to-goodness way of life.  Murph has perfected getting by and having just what he needs, never too little or too much but just right.  Murph on ambition:

I coughed and cleared my throat.  “You’re missing the big picture,” I said.  “Step one is to divest yourself of all ambition.  After you have succeeded in doing that, then-and only then-can you take step two, which is to figure out a way to get money.”

    “It seems like you should get the money first,” Jimmy said.  “Then you could go ahead and stop having ambition.”

    I took a deep breath and sighed.  I hated talking to amateurs.  They did everything exactly backwards.  

When Murph reluctantly travels back toWichitaat Maw’s behest he takes us on a many storied trip down his youthful memory lane.  The young Brandon Murphy isn’t really all that removed from the Murph of today.  While opening presents Christmas morning:

“Don’t tear the …!” Sally shrieked as I ripped the paper away from the box. “Oh Brendan,” she said mournfully.  I had spent my entire childhood listening to people say, “Oh Brendan.”

    The wrapping paper was ruined.  A bit of tape might have put it in good enough shape to reuse next year, but I squelched that possibility by wadding it up and tossing it over my shoulder.  All the kids laughed.  I was setting a bad example.  That’s what uncles are for.  

Murph references classic TV shows, movies, and literature.  He ties them into whatever story he’s telling making it feel personal because so many of us watched or read what he’s referring to and many of us had comparable youthful experiences.  What a delight it was to juxtapose the boy, Brendan, against the man, Murph.

Reading a Murph book is one of the top stress relievers on the market today.  I should warn you, though: they’re highly addictive.

Thanks to Sami  Manic Readers has a print copy of HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS to give away (sorry due to shipping costs, U.S. only).  How do you feel about family get togethers over the holidays or in general?  Giveaway ends 1-3-2014 with the winner announced shortly thereafter.  Good Luck!

Author Website
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Reilly was born in Arkansas City, Kan., and moved with his family of seven brothers and sisters to Denver.  He served two years in the army, including a tour in Vietnam as a military policeman, and later majored in English at Colorado State University with continued studies at the Denver campus of the University of Colorado. After publishing his short story “The Biography Man” and writing as an AOL comic advice columnist in the ‘90s, Reilly turned to novels. His dedication to writing did not include self-promotion.   Instead of seeking agents and publishers, he focused on his craft, writing and rewriting, polishing to perfection. Proceeds from his book sales benefit Reilly’s longtime partner, Sherry.

 

CANDLELIGHT CHRISTMAS and giveaway with Susan Wiggs

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR SUSAN WIGGS INVITES YOU TO AN UNFORGETTABLE CHRISTMAS IN THE CATSKILLS

A single father who yearns to be a family man, Logan O’Donnell is determined to create the perfect Christmas for his son, Charlie. The entire O’Donnell clan arrives to spend the holidays in Avalon, a postcard-pretty town on the shores of Willow Lake, a place for the family to reconnect and rediscover the special gifts of the season.

One of the guests is a newcomer to Willow Lake— Darcy Fitzgerald. Sharp-witted, independent and intent on guarding her heart, she’s the last person Logan can see himself falling for. And Darcy is convinced that a relationship is the last thing she needs this Christmas.

Yet between the snowy silence of the winter woods, and toasty moments by a crackling fire, their two lonely hearts collide. The magic of the season brings them each a gift neither ever expected—a love to last a lifetime.

Amazon          B&N          BAM          Indiebound        Walmart

Thanks to Jen & Susan we have a print of  CANDLELIGHT CHRISTMAS for one (1)  lucky commenter.  What’s a favorite Christmas memory?  Giveaway ends @12am est 12-22-13. Good luck!

Summer’s End

Logan O’Donnell stood on a platform one hundred feet in the air, preparing to shove his ten-year-old son off the edge. A light breeze shimmered through the canopy of trees, scattering leaves on the forest floor far below. A zip line cable, slender as a thread in a spider’s web, hung between the tree platforms, waiting. Below, Meerskill Falls crashed down a rocky gorge.

“There’s no way I’m going off this.” Logan’s son, Charlie, drew his shoulders up until they practically touched the edge of his helmet.

“Come on,” Logan said. “You told me you’d do it. The other kids had a ball. They’re all waiting for you on the other side, and I heard a rumor about a bag of Cheetos being passed around.”

“I changed my mind.” Charlie set his jaw in a way that was all too familiar to Logan. “No way. No W-A-Y-F.”

Logan knew the shtick, but he went along with it. “There’s no F in way, dude.”

“That’s right. There’s no effin’ way I’m going off this thing.”

“Aw, Charlie. It’s almost like flying. You like to fly, right?” Of course he did. Charlie’s stepfather was a pilot, after all. Logan crushed the thought. There were few things more depressing than thinking about the fact that your kid had a stepfather, even if the stepfather was an okay guy. Fortunately for Charlie, he’d ended up with a good one. But it was still depressing.

Charlie spent every summer with Logan. During the school year, he lived with his mom and stepfather in Oklahoma, a million miles away from Logan’s home in upstate New York. It sucked, living that far from his kid. Being without Charlie was like missing a limb.

When he did have his son with him, Logan tried to make the most of their time together. He planned the entire season around Charlie, and that included working as a volunteer counselor at Camp Kioga, helping out with the summer program for local kids and inner-city kids on scholarship. The zip line over Meerskill Falls was a new installation, and had already become everyone’s favorite feature. Nearly everyone.

“Hey, it’s the last day of camp. Your last chance to try the zip line.”

Charlie dragged in a shaky breath. He eyed the harness, made of stout webbing and metal buckles. “It looked really fun until I started thinking about actually doing it.”

“Remember how you used to be scared to jump off the dock into Willow Lake? And then you did it and it was awesome.”

“Hel-Zo. The landing was a lot different,” Charlie pointed out.

“You’re going to love it. Trust me on this.” Logan patted the top of Charlie’s helmet. “Look at all the safety features on this thing. The harness, the clips, the secondary ropes. There’s not one thing that can go wrong.”

“Yo, Charlie,” shouted a kid on the opposite platform. “Go for it!”

The encouragement came from Andre, Charlie’s best friend. The two had been inseparable all summer long, and if anyone could talk Charlie into something, it was Andre. He was one of the city kids in the program. He lived in a low-income project in the Bronx, and for Andre, it had been a summer of firsts—his first train trip, his first visit upstate to Ulster County, where Camp Kioga nestled on the north shore of Willow Lake. His first time to sleep in a cabin, see wildlife up close, swim and paddle in a pristine lake…and tell ghost stories around a campfire with his buddies. Logan liked the fact that at camp, all the kids were equal, no matter what their background.

“I kind of want to do it,” Charlie said.

“Up to you, buddy. You saw how it’s done. You just stand on the edge and take one step forward.”

Charlie fell silent. He stared at the waterfall cascading down the rocky gorge. The fine spray from the rushing cataract cooled the air.

“Hey, buddy,” Logan said, wondering about his son’s faraway expression. “What’s on your mind?”

“I miss Blake,” he said, his voice barely audible over the rush of the falls. “When I go back to Mom’s, Blake won’t be there anymore.”

Logan’s heart went out to the kid. Blake had been Charlie’s beloved dog, a little brown terrier who had lived to a ripe old age. At the start of summer, she’d passed away. Apparently Charlie was dreading his return to his mom’s dogless house.

“I don’t blame you,” Logan said, “but you were lucky to have Blake as your best friend for a long time.”

Charlie stared at the planks of the platform. “Yeah.” He didn’t sound convinced.

“It sucks, losing a dog,” Logan admitted. “No way around it. That’s why we’re not getting one. Hurts too bad when you have to say goodbye.”

“Yeah,” Charlie said again. “But I still like having a dog.”

“Tell me something nice about Blake,” Logan said.

“I never needed an alarm to get up for school in the morning. She’d just come into my room and burrow under the covers, like a rabbit, and she’d squirm until I got up.” He smiled, just a little. “She got old and quiet and gentle. And then she couldn’t jump up on the bed anymore, so I had to lift her.”

“I bet you were really gentle with her.”

He nodded. After another silence, he said, “Dad?”

“Yeah, bud?”

“I kinda want another dog.”

Aw, jeez. Logan patted him on the shoulder. “You can talk to your mom about it tomorrow, when you see her.” Yeah,, he thought. Let Charlie’s mom deal with the mess and inconvenience of a dog.

“Okay,” said Charlie. “But, Dad?”

“Yeah, buddy?”

“Kids were telling ghost stories in the cabin last night,” he said, picking at a thread in the webbing of his harness.

“You’re at summer camp. Kids are supposed to tell ghost stories.”

“Andre told the one about these people who committed suicide by jumping off a cliff above the falls.”

“I’ve heard that story. Goes way back to the 1920s.”

“Yeah, well, the ghosts are still around.”

“They won’t mess with the zip line.”

“How do you know?”

Logan pointed to the group of kids and counselors on the distant platform. “They all got across, no problem. You saw them.” The other campers appeared to be having the time of their lives, eating Cheetos and acting like Tarzan.

“Show me again, Dad,” said Charlie. “I want to see you do it.”

“Sure, buddy.” Logan clipped Charlie to the safety cable and himself to the pulleys. “You’re gonna love it.” With a grin, he stepped off the platform into thin air, giving Charlie the thumbs-up sign with his free hand.

His son stood on the platform, his arms folded, his face screwed into an expression of skepticism. Logan tipped himself upside down, a crazy perspective for watching the waterfall below, crashing against the rocks. How could any kid not like this?

When Logan was young, he would have loved having a dad who would take him zip-lining, a dad who knew the difference between fun and frivolity, a dad who encouraged rather than demanded.

He landed with an exaggerated flourish on the opposite platform. Paige Albertson, cocounselor of the group, pointed at Charlie. “Aren’t you forgetting something?”

“Oh yeah, my only son. Oops.”

“Why is he staying over there?” asked Rufus, one of the kids.

“I bet he’s scared,” said another kid.

Logan ignored them. On the opposite platform, Charlie looked very small and alone. Vulnerable.

“Everything all right?” Paige put her hand on Logan’s arm.

Paige had a crush on him. Logan knew this. He even wished he felt the same way, because she was great. She was a kindergarten teacher during the school year and a Camp Kioga volunteer during the summer. She had the all-American cheerleader looks, the bubbly, uncomplicated personality that most guys couldn’t resist. She was exactly the kind of girl his parents would want for him—pretty, stable, from a good family.

Could be that was the reason he wasn’t feeling it for her.

“He’s balking,” said Logan. “And he feels really bad about it. I thought he’d love zip-lining.”

“It’s not for everybody,” Paige pointed out. “And remember, if he doesn’t go for it, the world won’t come to an end.”

“Good point.” Logan saluted her and jumped off, crossing back to the platform on the other side, where Charlie waited. The zipping sound of the pulley and cable sang in his ears. Damn, this never got old.

“Just like Spider-Man,” he said as he came in for a landing. “I swear, it’s the coolest thing ever.”

Charlie shuffled across the wooden planks of the platform. Logan reached for the clips to attach him to the pulley. “That’s gonna be one small step for Charlie,” he intoned, “one giant leap for—”

“Dad, hang on a second,” Charlie said, shrinking back. “I changed my mind again.”

Logan studied his son’s posture: the hunched shoulders, the knees that were literally shaking. “Seriously?”

“Unhook me.” Beneath the helmet, Charlie’s face was pale, his green eyes haunted and wide.

“It’s okay to change your mind,” Logan said, “but I don’t want you to have any regrets. Remember, we talked about regrets.”

“When you have a chance to do something and then you don’t do it and later on you wish you had,” Charlie muttered.

Which pretty much summed up Logan’s assessment of his marriage. “Yep,” he said. “At the farewell dinner tonight, are you going to wish you’d done the zip line?”

Logan unhitched himself. Charlie studied the cables and pulleys with a look of yearning on his face. Okay, Logan admitted to himself, it bugged him that Charlie had conquered the jump off the dock with his mom, but Logan couldn’t get him to push past his fear of the zip line. He had a flashing urge to grab the kid, strap him in and shove him off the platform, just to get him past his hesitation.

Then he remembered his own pushy father: get in there and fight. Don’t be a chickenshit. Al O’Donnell had been a blustering, bossy, demanding dad. Logan had grown up resenting the hell out of him in a tense relationship that even now was full of turmoil.

The moment Charlie was born, Logan had made a vow. He would never be that dad.

“All right, buddy,” he said, forcing cheerfulness into his tone. “Maybe another time. Let’s climb down together.”

The final dinner of summer at Camp Kioga was served banquet-style in the massive dining hall of the main pavilion. There was a spaghetti feed with all the trimmings—garlic bread, a salad bar, watermelon, ice cream. Awards would be given, songs sung, jokes told, tributes offered and farewells spoken.

The families of the campers were invited to the event. Parents arrived, eager to reunite with their kids and hear about their summer.

A sense of tradition hung like the painted paddles and colorful woven blankets on the walls. The old Catskills camp had been in operation since the 1920s. People as far back as Logan’s grandparents remembered with nostalgia the childhood summers they’d spent in the draughty timber-and-stone cabins, swimming in the clear, cold waters of Willow Lake, boating in the summer sun each day, sitting around the campfire and telling stories at night. In a hundred years, the traditions had scarcely changed.

But the kids had. Back in the era of the Great Camps, places like Camp Kioga had been a playground for the ultrawealthy—Vanderbilts, Asters, Roosevelts. These days, the campers were a more diverse bunch. This summer’s group included kids of Hollywood power brokers and Manhattan tycoons, recording artists and star athletes, alongside kids from the projects of the inner city and downriver industrial towns.

The organizers of the city kids program, Sonnet and Zach Alger, pulled out all the stops for the end of summer party. In addition to the banquet, there would be a performance by Jezebel, a hip-hop artist who had starred in a hit reality TV series. The show had been filmed at Camp Kioga, chronicling the efforts of the outspoken star to work with youngsters in the program.

Tonight, the only cameras present belonged to proud parents and grandparents.

Charlie was practically bouncing up and down with excitement, because he knew he was getting a swimming award. Andre was next to him as they took their seats at their assigned banquet table.

Paige, who stood nearby, handing out table assignments, leaned over and said, “Those two are such a great pair. I bet they’re going to miss each other now that summer’s over.”

“Yeah, it’d be nice if they could stay in touch. Tricky, though, with Andre in the city and Charlie off to an air force base in Oklahoma.”

“Must be hard for you, too.”

“I can’t even tell you. But…we deal. I’ll see him at Thanksgiving, and he’s mine—all mine—for Christmas.”

At the moment, Christmas seemed light-years away. Logan wondered how the hell he’d keep himself busy after Charlie left. He had his work, a thriving insurance business he’d founded in the nearby town of Avalon. If he was being honest with himself, he was bored stiff with the work, even though he liked helping friends and neighbors and made a good living at it.

Initially, the whole point of setting up a business in Avalon had been to enable him to live close to Charlie.

Now that Charlie’s mom had remarried and moved away, Logan was starting to think about making a change. A big change.

His sister India arrived to join in the festivities, and Logan excused himself to say hi. Her twin boys, Fisher and Goose, had spent the summer here. Charlie had had a great time with his two cousins, who lived on Long Island, where India and her husband ran an art gallery.

Red-haired like Logan and Charlie both, and dressed in flowing silks unlike anybody, India rushed over to her twin sons, practically in tears.

“I missed you guys so much,” she said, gathering them against her. “Did you have a good time at camp?”

“The best,” said Fisher.

“We made you some stuff,” said Goose.

“Real ugly jewelry, and we’re gonna make you wear it,” Fisher told her.

“If you made it, then I’m sure it’s beautiful,” she said.

“Uncle Logan taught us how to light farts.”

“That’s my baby brother,” India said. “Now, you need no introduction, but I’ll introduce you, anyway.” She indicated the woman behind her. “Darcy, this is my brother, who probably needs to be sent to the naughty corner, but instead, he’s a volunteer counselor.”

“And head fart lighter,” said the woman, sticking out her hand. “I’m Darcy Fitzgerald.”

He took her hand, liking her straightforward expression. She had dark hair done in a messy ponytail and a direct, brown-eyed gaze. Her hand felt small but firm, and she had a quirky smile. For no reason Logan could name, he felt a subtle nudge of interest.

“Are you here to pick up a kid?” he asked her. “Which one belongs to you?”

“None, thank God,” she said with a shudder.

“Allergies?” Logan asked.

“Something like that.”

“Then you came to the wrong place.” He gestured around the dining hall, swarming with excited, hungry kids. To him, it was a vision of paradise. He liked kids. He liked big, loud, loving families. It was the tragedy of his life that he was restricted to summers and holidays with his only child.

“Except for one thing,” said Darcy, turning toward the dais where the band was setting up. “I’m a huge Jezebel fan.”

“You must be. We’re a long way from anywhere.”

She nodded. “I came along for the ride with India when she invited me to pick up her boys. Thought it would be nice to get out to the countryside for a weekend.”

“So you live in the city?” he asked.

“In SoHo. I didn’t have anything thing else going on this weekend. Yes, I’m that pathetic friend everybody feels sorry for, all alone and getting over a broken heart.” She spoke lightly, but he detected a serious note in her tone.

“Oh, sorry. About the broken heart. Glad to hear you’re getting over it.”

“Thanks,” she said. “It takes time. That’s what people keep telling me. I keep looking for distractions. But hearts are funny that way. They don’t let you lie, even to yourself.”

“Not for long, anyway. Anything I can do to help?” He instantly regretted the offer. He had no idea what to do about someone else’s broken heart.

“I’ll spare you the details.”

Good.

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Susan Wiggs’s life is all about family, friends…and fiction. She’s been featured in the national media, including NPR’s Talk of the Nation, and is a popular speaker locally and nationally.

From the very start, her writings have illuminated the everyday dramas of ordinary people. At the age of eight, she self-published her first novel, entitled “A Book About Some Bad Kids.”

Today, she is an international best-selling, award-winning author, with millions of copies of her books in print in numerous countries. Her recent novel, Marrying Daisy Bellamy, took the #1 spot on the New York Times Bestseller List, and The Lakeshore Chronicles have won readers’ hearts around the globe. Her books celebrate the power of love, the timeless bonds of family and the fascinating nuances of human nature.

She lives with her husband and family at the water’s edge on an island in the Pacific Northwest, where she divides her time between sleeping and waking.

What Mad Men Looks Like in a Small Town with Ava Miles

So happy holidays! I’m Ava Miles, a new contemporary romance writer who kicked off her Dare Valley Series with NORA ROBERTS LAND a few months ago. I’m here to talk about my newest release, THE TOWN SQUARE, which is set in the early 1960s and finally tells the story my readers have been begging for: the love story of the wonderful Arthur Hale in my other books. Thanks to Manic Readers for hosting me today.
I’ve been a big fan of the TV show Mad Men since its inception, but there’s the romantic part of me that wants Don Draper to have a happy ending. So, when readers started asking for Arthur’s story, I thought, “Aha,” I can write my own Mad Men in a small town with a happy ending.
My Dare Valley series is set in modern times, and the grandfather figure and journalistic legend, Arthur Hale, has a hand in helping all my characters navigate their ways through love. Now we venture back to the early 1960s to the small town of Dare Valley, Colorado. Arthur has just returned from working at The New York Times, and he’s starting up his own newspaper. His vision is for it to be the Voice of the West.
Arthur brings a cosmopolitan flavor to the small town. He’d lived in New York for over 5 years. He drinks Manhattans and…well…is pretty driven to succeed. He’s starting up this newspaper from scratch, and it’s no easy matter.

And then Harriet Jenkins walks into his office to apply for the job of his secretary. She’s a redheaded bombshell, and it’s so clear she has the big city polish he’s returned to his hometown with. She’s also mysterious, saying nothing about her past. But she’s terrific at typing and shorthand, and the best candidate he could hope to find. He hires her on the spot.
Mad Men is largely set in an office, and so too is THE TOWN SQUARE. There’s something tantalizing about working with someone you’re attracted to. Especially when you don’t want to be.
Like Harriet.
Harriet is my female version of Don Draper (played by the tantalizing John Hamm). What’s that, you say? Harriet has come to Dare Valley under an assumed name—very Don Draper-like—and she has an agenda. A newspaper article ruined her father and sullied her family name, and now she’s out for revenge on the journalist who wrote it: Arthur Hale. Sound interesting yet?
But Arthur is nothing like she expects, and soon she’s falling for him as fast as he is for her. Yet the secrets she’s keeping threaten their love and her new station in the small town.
Like in Mad Men, people’s reputations matter significantly, and Arthur has to consider his own as he becomes unwittingly involved in Harriet’s secrets. Will their love survive?
I hope you’ll check out THE TOWN SQUARE and see for yourself.

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Ava Miles burst onto the contemporary romance scene after receiving Nora Roberts’ blessing for her use of Ms. Roberts’ name in her debut novel, NORA ROBERTS LAND, which kicked off The Dare Valley Series and brought praise from reviewers and readers alike. Much to Ava’s delight, BlogCritics says “It [NORA ROBERTS LAND] captures the best of…a Nora Roberts novel,” while USA Today’s Happily Ever After blog praises the series noting its “wonderful, idyllic setting… [and] great characters.” Ava continued The Dare Valley Series in FRENCH ROAST, which Tome Tender says “raised the entertainment bar again” and then THE GRAND OPENING, which reviewer Mary J. Gramlich says “is a continuation of love, family, and relationships.” The fourth book in the series, THE HOLIDAY SERENADE, was met with high praise, and now Ava shares her ode to the early 1960s, THE TOWN SQUARE, what she calls Mad Men in a small town with a happy ending. A descendant of generations of journalists, Ava—a writer since childhood—now lives in her own porch-swinging-friendly community with an old-fashioned Main Street lined with small businesses. Much like Dare Valley.

 

Brenda Jackson and A MADARIS BRIDE FOR CHRISTMAS with giveaway

 

IN HER 100TH BOOK, NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR blends heated sensuality and drama into a dazzling new novel featuring one of her most unforgettable Madaris heroes yet…

One by one, Madaris men have surrendered to the matchmaking schemes of Felicia Laverne Madaris, matriarch of the family. But Lee Madaris isn’t letting anyone else control his destiny. He’ll bring a bride of his own choosing to the family’s holiday gathering—if his hotel’s gorgeous new chef will agree to a marriage of convenience.

It’s not just the chance to work at the Strip’s hottest hotel that brought Carly Briggs to Vegas. Witnessing a crime in Miami may have made her a mob target. Though she’s reluctant to complicate their working relationship, Lee’s tempting offer is so hard to resist. And soon, desire is clouding their no-strings arrangement.

The danger that made Carly flee Miami is about to land at their door. So Carly and Lee must decide who to trust, when to let go—and whether a love they never anticipated is strong enough to pass the ultimate test.

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Thanks to Jen and Brenda we have a copy of A MADARIS BRIDE FOR CHRISTMAS to give to one (1) lucky commenter.  Did you have your dream wedding?  Planning it?  Giveaway ends @12am est 12-19-13.  Good luck!

 

Lee Madaris glanced at the clock on his wall before rubbing away the tension forming in the back of his neck. Although it was nearing midnight, he was still in his office working. It was imperative that he do so.
Five potential investors would be arriving tomorrow and spending four days at the Grand MD Vegas hotel. He would be catering to them at a level that was unprecedented. The five men had enough cumulative capital to balance the national budget, if they’d chosen to do so. However, balancing the national budget wasn’t Lee’s goal. His objective was to get them to invest in his next hotel—the Grand MD Paris.

After the success of the Grand MD Dubai, as well as all the attention the hotel in Vegas had received since opening its doors four months ago, a number of investors were ready to provide funds for his next venture. But he didn’t want just anyone; he wanted men willing to take a chance on a hotel that would be astonishingly different from its two predecessors. It would be a hotel of the future.

Both Grand MD hotels had been Madaris-Di Meglio joint ventures—highly successful and breaking sales records. But the third hotel, the one planned for Paris, France, would use state-of-the-art technology while maintaining the rich architectural design Paris was known for.

Lee’s cousin and the architect in the family, Slade Madaris, had designed the first two Grand MDs and would likewise design the one proposed for Paris. Slade’s design was nothing short of a masterpiece and would be unveiled at one of the meetings this week. Slade’s twin brother, Blade, would be the structural engineer. No two Grand MD hotels would look the same. Each would have its own unique architecture and appeal.

Pulling in a deep breath, Lee returned his attention to the documents in front of him—bios on the five men. The name that topped the list was that of his grand-uncle Jake Madaris. Lee didn’t need to read his uncle’s bio.

The man was a walking genius when it came to playing the stock market, and as far back as Lee could remember, Jake had been financial adviser to the entire Madaris family. If it hadn’t been for his uncle’s smart move of establishing a trust fund for all his nieces and nephews when they were still in high school, Lee would not have had the money to partner with his good friend DeAngelo Di Meglio to build their first two hotels.

Jake and another family friend, Mitch Farrell, had been the hotels’ financial backers. Mitch—the second man on the list—and Jake had already confirmed they were on board for the Paris hotel since the last two hotels had been a successful venture for them.

However, the price tag for a Paris hotel was higher than the price of the other two combined, and Jake had suggested bringing in other investors. All were good friends of Jake’s, but his uncle had warned Lee that convincing them to invest would be Lee’s responsibility.

He was ready.

The third person on the list was Kyle Garwood, a multimillionaire who made his primary home in Atlanta. Kyle was married, the father of six. Lee liked Kyle and highly respected him.

The last two men were sheikhs from the Middle East. Sheikh Rasheed Valdemon of Mowaiti had such a close relationship with the Madaris family that he had been named an honorary family member and occasionally went by the name of Monty Madaris when he did business in the United States.

Finally, there was Rasheed’s brother-in-law, Sheikh Jamal Ari Yasir of Tahran. Lee had never met Sheikh Yasir but had heard he was a shrewd businessman, always looking for a good investment. He was married to an American woman, the former Delaney Westmoreland.

Lee would be wining and dining the five men in the Grand MD style. Everything was in place and would be set in motion as soon as they arrived tomorrow morning.

Their visit had been strategically planned down to the last detail. They would be given a tour of the hotel before they were served lunch. Since tomorrow was a traveling day, no meetings had been planned. However, early the following day, Lee’s skilled marketing team would kick things off with several video presentations and meetings. Around three, the men and their wives would be given the chance to rest and relax before a dinner fit for royalty.

Afterward, they would enjoy the nightlife Vegas was famous for—from right inside the Grand MD. The casinos, live shows, state-of-the-art IMAX theater and the exquisite mall on the fifth floor that offered twenty-four-hour shopping all guaranteed that the Grand MD would gain a reputation as the hotel that never closed.

A winning hotel had to have a winning staff. He and Angelo had handpicked all of his executives and managers. Each had hotel experience and had come with sterling resumes and excellent recommendations. He and Angelo were pleased with every staff member, and those who didn’t deliver were quickly replaced. Second-best was not an option at the Grand MD.

Lee moved away from his desk, intending to walk around and get his blood flowing, but the moment he stepped into the executive suite’s lobby he stopped to stare at the huge picture hanging on the wall. It was a portrait of his great-grandmother Felicia Laverne Madaris the First, whom they fondly called Mama Laverne.

She was the matriarch of the Madaris family. Having borne seven sons, his grandfather Lee being one of them, Mama Laverne had raised her sons by herself after her husband, Milton, had died. All her sons were still alive except for Robert, who had been killed in the Vietnam War. Lee’s grand-uncle Jake was Laverne’s baby boy.

Mama Laverne had insisted that Lee hang this particular picture of her right there on that wall. She’d given the same directive to his other cousins. They all had the same framed photograph hanging in the offices of their various businesses. She was dressed in her Sunday best, with a huge dressy hat on her head, and she appeared to be looking directly at the viewer with those shrewd eyes and an all-knowing smile. At least she was smiling. A Mama Laverne frown could make him quake in his boots. She definitely liked giving orders, and she expected them to be carried out.

Lee chuckled. He wished he could say she was getting bossy in her old age, but as far back as he could remember, she’d always been bossy. Besides that, she was a notorious busybody when it came to meddling in the lives of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Even at ninetysomething, he figured she would still be around to meddle with the great-great-grands’ lives as well.

He didn’t want to think of a time when she would no longer be in their midst. Their love for her was the main reason why he and his still-single brothers and cousins overlooked a lot of her shenanigans, especially her determination to marry off each of them.

Closing the door behind him, he walked along the spacious lobby hallway, noting the elegance, style and sophistication that were such integral parts of his Vegas hotel. Besides being the tallest building on the Strip, with seventy-five floors, it had an amusement park on one of its lower levels, making it an ideal place to stay for both adults and families. From the carpeting on the floor to the paintings on the wall, from the furnishings to the hotel’s special amenities, anyone would agree that the hotel deserved the seven-star rating reviewers were giving it.

Sliding back huge glass doors, he stepped out onto the terrace of the executive suite. Normally, he wasn’t one who took the time to appreciate a lot of greenery, but with the quality of the hotel on his mind, he couldn’t help doing so. Various plants had been flown in just for this terrace.

Lee inhaled deeply, breathing in the scent of the plants mixed with the September air. He looked beyond the Vegas view to study the looming desert. The rain had lessened the heat and now a sultry breeze stirred the air. The sky overhead looked dark and dreary. There didn’t seem to be a single star. A part of him longed to be back in Houston, gazing up into a Texas night.

Lee shook off the longing. He had too much work to do to be melancholy. He hadn’t been home since last Christmas and another one would be coming up soon, but opening the two Grand MDs had taken up all his time, personally and professionally. Now luring investors for a third hotel would make him even busier.

Just as he turned to go back inside, his gaze landed on a woman standing on the balcony a couple of levels below. His breath was snatched from his lungs. A low groan passed from his lips as a jolt of sexual energy rocked him to the bone.

She was beautiful. Sensually stunning. Picture-perfect.

She stood leaning against the balcony rail, wearing a sexy green dress and chocolate-colored stilettos, her hair blowing in the breeze. From her expression, as she stared down below, he could tell she was fascinated by the bright lights of the Strip.

Was she a guest at the hotel? He scanned the balcony connected to a tri-level observation deck. It appeared she was alone. Something about her pulled at him. She looked happy, peaceful, but lonely.

Lee didn’t know the woman yet he felt as if he could read her perfectly. He stood and watched her, totally mesmerized. A slow heat flowed through him and pooled in his groin—she was arousing him in a way no other woman had. What was there about her that made every muscle in his stomach tie into knots? Made full awareness of her fill his every pore?

Granted, he hadn’t dated in a while because of his stringent work schedule, but still, there was something about this particular woman that had lust rushing through his veins.

Nothing like this had ever happened to him before. He checked his watch. It was getting late, but he had to meet that woman and find out why he found her so captivating.

Anticipation filled him as he made his way off the terrace and toward the elevator bank.

She simply loved it here, Carly thought. Bright lights lit the Strip and each hotel seemed to compete to shine the brightest.

It was hard to believe she had gotten the job of pastry chef at the Grand MD’s Peyton’s Place restaurant a little more than a month ago. The hotel had been gracious enough to give her time to resign from her job in Miami and remain in Florida long enough to pack up her things and attend Heather’s wedding.

Initially, she had missed South Beach and wondered if she would ever get acclimated to Vegas’s dry summer heat. But she had discovered that in addition to being a fun city with its infamous Strip, Vegas was also a nice place to live.

Her house was in a residential area of town not far from shopping. Because she had everything she needed right at her fingertips she rarely came into town on her days off.

Except for today.

Today was her twenty-eighth birthday, and she had decided to celebrate with a night on the town. She had even treated herself to a night at the Grand MD. It had to be the most beautiful hotel she had ever seen. Her room on the fiftieth floor was to die for and the service was excellent.

Carly had stumbled across this particular balcony a few weeks ago while on break. She loved the view, and it had become her favorite. There had been several other couples here earlier, enjoying the view as well, but they had departed, leaving her alone. She didn’t mind. It was the story of her life.

Carly forced the depressing thought from her mind.

After all, it was her birthday and she intended to have fun. So far it had been a beautiful day. Before leaving home this morning she’d gotten calls from Aunt Ruthie and Heather. They had remembered, and they were the only two people in her life that counted.

There was a party going on in one of the ballrooms upstairs. She could hear the music playing, a Marvin Gaye classic. She felt like dancing. What the heck. It was her birthday and she had every right to be silly if she wanted to.

Turning from the rail, she waltzed across the floor. She closed her eyes and pretended she was at a party, celebrating her birthday in style, dancing around a ballroom filled with tall, dark, handsome men. One would come forward, claim her hand and ask—

“May I have this dance?”

At the sound of the deep, husky voice, Carly’s eyes flew open and she stared into the most gorgeous pair of dark eyes she’d ever seen. And there was a very handsome face to go along with those eyes. Where on earth had he come from? She blinked, wondering if she was still clutched in the throes of her fantasy. She had to be.

“Are you real?” she asked, making sure she hadn’t conjured him up in her mind.

He smiled and the sight of the dimple in his chin nearly brought her to her knees. It definitely caused every hormone in her body to sizzle.

“Yes, I’m real. Now, how about that dance,” he said, taking her hand in his. A different song was playing now, this one by Luther Vandross.

Carly nodded her consent and he pulled her into his arms. The man was a total stranger. Had it not been her birthday, she would not have allowed him to hold her. But she had already decided that it was okay for her to act silly today. And it wasn’t every day that such a good-looking man asked her to dance. Not only was he handsome, but he smelled good too. And to top it off, they danced well together. The way their bodies swayed and moved against each other had her fighting a desire she hadn’t felt in close to four years.

A desire that had never been this strong.

She was reminded how it felt to be held by a man, in powerful arms. Every part of her body tuned in to the solid hardness of his. It was staggering; she was mindful of his every movement, the steady sound of his breathing, the way his arms encircled her waist.

Carly looked up at him to find him staring down at her. His predatory look made her insides simmer. Swallowing deeply, she said softly, “Where did you come from?”

He smiled again and she felt a tingling sensation in the pit of her stomach. “From my terrace.”

She nodded. He was a guest at the hotel.

“What about you? Are you a guest here?” he asked.

“Yes.” She wasn’t lying. She had checked into the hotel that day. There was no need to tell him she also worked here. “It’s a beautiful hotel.”

“I think so too. I’m Lee, by the way.”

“I’m Carly.”

His smile widened. “Nice meeting you, Carly. Is there a reason you were dancing alone?”

Her face warmed as she wondered if he thought she’d looked ridiculous. “It’s my birthday and—”

“Happy birthday,” he said.

She smiled up at him. “Thanks. I was having my own private party of one.”

He tilted his head. “That’s no fun. A beautiful woman should never party alone.”

He was smooth, she thought. As smooth as he was handsome. And she’d noticed he wasn’t wearing a ring. She knew some men didn’t cherish the sanctity of marriage vows, but she did.

“For me that’s no problem. I’m a loner anyway,” she said.

“Why?”

A New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling and award-winning author of more than seventy-five romance titles, Brenda is a recent retiree who divides her time between family, writing and traveling with her husband.

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Introducing Ju Ephraime

Please welcome Ju Ephraime to Manic Readers.

How long does it take for you to write a novel?

It varies. I have written a full novel in less than four weeks. Matter of fact, I’m working on one now. I set myself a goal of 5000 words a day. This doesn’t always happen, but if I get in 1000, I’m happy.

What book are you reading now?

At the moment I’m reading, Only You For Me by Solange St. Brice and How to Entice an Enchantress by Karen Hawkins.

Tell us a little about your latest release. Where can readers find you books?

My latest release, A Wonderful Piece of Dark Mahogany can be found at B&N, Amazon, Kobo and ENVISION and of course IndieBound.

What are you working on now?

At the moment I working on three projects: Against All Odds, an adult contemporary romance, out this month, Complete Surrender, also an adult contemporary romance, out in December and Footsteps in The Sand, a romantic ghost story, out in December for Christmas.

Who are some of your influences?

Elizabeth Lowell, Lisa Kleypas and Virginia Henley, but then, I read a lot, so every book is a potential influence.

Where is your favorite place to curl up with a good book?

On my couch in the den. I have my own couch; no one sits on it but me.

Coffee or tea? Physical book or e book? Dogs or Cats?

I have to have my coffee. I really only enjoy reading from physical books. I don’t own a kindle. I do have a Nook, but it’s not my choice read for enjoyment. Matter of fact, I find it terribly annoying.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?

Reading, reading and more reading. I believe I enjoy reading more than I do writing.

Where can readers contact you?

I can be contacted at author@juliaeantoine.com or on my blog.

Do you have a favorite quote you would like to share?

Perseverance is the key to success.

Set in the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, this is a story about love, passion and jealousy. Two men desire one woman and they’ll both do anything to claim her. Charles thought he had an advantage working closely with Mel as he did.

But he began to despair when Craig Holland appeared on the scene. Did he? Could he–stand a chance?
With his swarthy skin and golden eyes, Craig Holland could pretty much get any woman he wanted – but only one has captured his heart – Mel (Mellicent Molyneux). He wanted her to the exclusion of all else. If only he could get her to surrender to him, so he could unleash the passion he sensed hidden within her.

Mel (Mellicent Molyneux) had been pursued by men wherever she went. She had always been able to put them off with one of her condescending glances, until Craig Holland–The dark handsome plantation owner with the striking good looks and unusual eyes had captured her heart with one smoldering glance. Should she surrender to his insatiable kisses and heated touch…? And then there was Charles…

 

 

 Jayden breathed a deep sigh. He had been doing this a lot lately. Six months ago, the woman he had hoped to spend the rest of his life with had told him she had met someone else and would be leaving him, this after eight years. Even now, he could still feel the pain and the shock he’d felt when she’d told him. But he had put up a brave front and gone about his life as if it was an everyday occurrence for the love of his life to walk out on him. He thought he had done everything humanly possible to make life comfortable for Shannon, but evidently, he had not given her the one thing he wanted most—sex, and lots of it. He had nothing against sex, but Shannon had pretended she had no interest in it the few times he had made any advances toward her. He had foolishly thought she would come to him if her feelings changed, but as this wedding had clearly shown; she had taken her needs elsewhere. Now he was left to pick up the pieces and move on with his life. How? He’d no clue where to begin. He was hurting like he’d never thought he could hurt.

 

 

It was Christmas Eve, and deep depression was clouding his mind.He’d been going through this depression phase,as the holiday season approached, for the past four years. This year would mark the beginning of the fifth year and already he was not able to eat or sleep. He knew Nicola would not like it if she was here, but the problem was she was not. She drowned almost five years ago to the day, while they were out on their yacht. They were celebrating their fourth anniversary as a married couple. They had fallen asleep after a night of celebrating, too exhausted to go below deck. Sometime in the middle of the night, the weather had turned unexpectedlynasty with winds over 80 miles an hour.

To this day, he didn’t know what woke him, but one minute he was asleep, next to his wife, and the next he was woken to the yacht being tossed about like a toy as it was thrown off course. At Christmas, more than any other time, he felt her presence with him, but alas, it was always like a fleeting memory. Today, Christmas Day, on the anniversary of her death, he woke up feeling her presence stronger than ever. It was as if she was in the room with him. It was so strong, he’d reached over to bring her into the warmth of his body, but his hands came up empty. Getting out of bed, he changed into his swimming trunks, and went down to the beach—the same beach where his yacht had washed up.

As he began to run, he thought he heard someone running next to him. Looking back, he saw two footsteps alongside his, just before the waves came ashore and washed it away. He kept on running, and thefootsteps kept up with him. Whose footsteps were those? Could it be what he thought it was or was he finally losing his mind?

 

 

Raymond was feeling on top of the world, he was on his way to the airport to catch a flight back to his home on the island of Martinique. He had been gone for a little over five years now, and couldn’t wait to be around family again. He had a good life in Paris but Martinique would always be home. No matter where he went, it always felt good to return to the island.

He almost didn’t make his flight.His taxi had stopped to pick up the most beautiful woman he’d ever laid eyes on, and being in Paris, the home of beautiful, glamorous women, that was saying something. Just thinking about her had his temperature rising. Oh well, he’d never see her again, so he would just lay back and fantasize about her instead. Stepping out of his seat, he opened the overhead compartment to retrieve his iPod.Just as he began reaching into his coat pocket for the iPod, his cell phone began to vibrate. In his haste to get on the plane, he’d forgotten to turn it off. Without retrieving the phone, he pushed what he knew was the off button, but the phone kept on vibrating. He was forced to pull the phone out to see just why it wasn’t going off and to his utter surprise the image of the same gorgeous woman with whom he had shared the taxi was staring back at him. What the hell! He inspected the phone more closely.

It was definitely not his phone. How the hell did he have the woman’s phone? Removing his coat from the overhead bin to search for his phone, he was shocked to find that the coat he had carried onto the plane was in fact, not his. Somehow, he had swapped coats with his female co-passenger and her coat and all its contents were on its way to Martinique with him.God only knew where his coat was headed.

Visit Ju      FB    Indiebound    Kobo   Amazon

B&N    Envision

I began writing professionally at the age of 19. At that time, I wrote short stories for the local radio station in my home town. I gave up writing when I moved to the United States to attend college. I have since earned several degrees, including two Masters and a Doctorate in Higher Education Administration from Northeastern University in Boston.  During the course of my schooling, I wrote and published a working curriculum for a career school, a business manual and its answer key, as well as other literary work.  In 2010 I revisited my first love, writing for fun and enjoyment.

I write children’s books under my given name, which can be found here, Too-Clever ,and under my pen name, Ju Ephraime I write high heat, steamy, adult romance novels, which can be found here, Ju Ephraime or on my blog here, All About High Heat Romance.
Currently, I am working on my ninth  romance novel, a love story set in the beautiful state of Connecticut,  Against All Odds, the sequel to Temptation To Sin. I am also participating in National Novel Writing Month and hope to put out one title, Complete Surrender and a Christmas Novella, Footsteps In The Sand. Check back for updates.
You can purchase any of my books from my publisher’s Online Store.

Introducing The Den of Sin and a giveaway

Sometimes when authors get together to talk shop, they spark amazing ideas that are too big to take on alone. What started as a mere reference of the old television show Fantasy Island spun off into brainstorming about people exploring sexual fantasies in a vacation setting. That’s how the Den of Sin erotic romance series got its start. Four authors, lots of stories, and one very special hotel.

Launched December 6, the series will issue a new New Year’s-themed erotica or erotic romance novella each Friday until December 27. Each story has a different couple (or trio) and different kinks and obstacles to explore.

 

~*~

New Orleans’s Hotel Beaudelaire isn’t just a critically acclaimed 5-star establishment. For New Year’s Eve, it becomes a den of sin, and its owner extends invitations to a few discriminating guests to help make their sexual fantasies come true.

 

Look for these titles at major online booksellers including All Romance eBooks, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Smashwords.

 

December 6: Forbidden Rendezvous by Mel Blue

Seraphina orchestrates fantasies, but this year she’ll create one of her own. It’s against the rules for an employee to participate in the weekend-long sex-capade but she’s willing to risk it for Luke. The man’s a mystery, but in a sea of CEOs and Fortune 500 billionaires, he stands out. His past and connection to her boss is clouded in intrigue, but she knows what he wants, and she plans to star in one of his voyeuristic fantasies.

 

December 13: Ménage à Troys by Holley Trent

At the Den of Sin anything goes, so instead of two newlyweds letting down their guards to finally consummate their marriage of convenience, three people desperate to be touched forge bonds. That’s all well and good for the weekend, but what will shake out of their tentative ménage à trois when it’s time to go home?

 

December 20: Wicked Surrender by Ambrielle Kirk

Kris is tired of spending her nights playing with hard plastic and silicone. She wants a real man for a night, and expects to find him at the Den of Sin. She doesn’t expect to meet one of the World’s Most Eligible Bachelors there, and this isn’t the first time she’s met him. Unfortunately, Travis Brenden doesn’t seem to remember her.

 

December 27: Redeeming the Amazon by L. V. Lewis

Karen hasn’t made love fully unclothed since her double mastectomy and the subsequent demise of her marriage. Her most significant relationship occurred right after her surgery when she connected with a former Marine, amputee classmate. Paul once left his heart in Baltimore with a beautiful former model, whose crumbling marriage was the only deterrent to his waning honor. A fantasy weekend at his uncle’s hotel may give him a second chance with his contemporary Amazon…if her fear of rejection doesn’t become a barrier to their reconnection.

 

 

To learn more about this shared world series and its authors, and to access purchasing information, please visit DenofSinSeries.com. While you’re there, check out our free reads: Shamelessly Taken and Two Strikes.

~*~

Help us celebrate the Den of Sin’s opening by entering our contest!

 

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Gloria Gaynor and WE WILL SURVIVE with giveaways

“I Will Survive – a timeless anthem empowering those reaching for positive change in their lives, a sing-along sound track supporting those in a period of change, often from a dark place to somewhere brighter” – Tina Turner

We Will Survive – Singer Gloria Gaynor Shares 40 Stories and Life Lessons Inspired by One of Pop Culture’s Most Famous Songs.

New York, NY — For millions of music lovers around the world Gloria Gaynor’s name is synonymous with pop music. An undisputed disco sensation, she was enjoying tremendous success in the 1970’s, performing to sold-out audiences across the country and riding the top of the Billboard chart with her hit single, “I Never Can Say Goodbye”. Little did she know that fate would soon strike in both tragic and triumphant ways. While performing a concert in New York City, Gaynor fell from the stage. She got back up and continued the performance, but the next morning she woke up unable to move. The singer required back surgery and a lengthy, painful recovery, and she nearly lost her recording contract. At the request of the label she went back into the studio (in a back brace) to record a cover version of a Righteous Brothers song called “Substitute”. The hastily selected B-side chosen for the single…a little tune you may have heard of called “I Will Survive”.

Over the last 35-years, “I Will Survive” has transcended from a surprise hit to a pop culture anthem. From its instantly recognizable opening riff to its final chorus, the song has become an international inspiration for people everywhere struggling to find the courage and strength to survive and thrive against life’s challenges and setbacks. Gloria Gaynor and the song have both become legends, and the legend lives on!

Gaynor will celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Grammy Award winning tune with a new book and a new CD. WE WILL SURVIVE: True Stories of Encouragement, Inspiration and the Power of Song (December 2013, Grand Harbor Press), written with Vanity Fair reporter Sue Carswell, shares personal stories from fans across the country who have triumphed over incredible adversity, and for whom the song “I Will Survive” has become a mantra for perseverance and success. The book recounts real-life experiences from people from all walks of life – from an Oklahoma Bombing rescuer to a 9/11mother to a Holocaust survivor. Gloria also opens up for the first time about her own personal life struggles including the murder of her sister and the break-up of her marriage.

WE WILL SURVIVE is both heart-wrenching and uplifting – a book that illustrates the unifying and healing powers of music. It also eloquently expresses Gloria Gaynor’s unique style – her fierce love of life, her devotion to faith and her enduring love for the song that has become the soundtrack of a million lives. “I still love singing it in concert, and on tour I save it for last,” says Gaynor. “I sing the song to myself every time I face a problem. It always works.”

INTRODUCTION

Behind the Song

I grew up in a single-parent home with a single mother and six siblings—therein lay the crux of my problems. Too few people know the devastating long-term effects that can ravage the life of a child raised without a father—or at least a good father figure. I had no uncles—my mother was an only child—and my father had two sisters but no brothers.
When I was five years old, we moved from an apartment building to a two-family house. There was a young, childless couple, John and Mary, who lived on the second floor. I often visited them, and they played with me every day.
One day Mary went to the hospital to deliver their first child. I had come to think of them as an aunt and uncle, so it was not strange to me when John invited me up to their apartment to have cookies and milk. I innocently allowed him to lead me into the bedroom, where he proceeded to lift me onto the bed and remove my panties. As he began to molest me, I looked up at him and said, “My mommy’s not gonna like this!”
He responded angrily: “Your mother’s not gonna know!”
“Yes, she will, cuz I’ll tell her,” I timidly said.
At that he hurriedly replaced my panties, snatched me from the bed, and dragged me to the front door of the apartment, where he shoved me out with a growl: “Git on back downstairs. You make me sick.” Looking back on it now, I think he probably meant, “You make me scared.”
My mother was a no-nonsense, take-no-crap-from-anyone kind of person, and John knew it. Because of that, I never told her what happened that day. I believed she would probably have hurt him seriously, which would have meant jail time and that I would be left without a mother as well as a father. I had no way of realizing then that John had stolen my innocence that afternoon and had reinforced the low self-esteem and abandonment issues I already suffered, born of fatherlessness.
Fatherlessness, coupled with this incident, set the stage for my behavior in male relationships from then on. I grew up feeling that every rejection or maltreatment from any man for any reason was because I wasn’t worthy of better treatment. When I was twelve, my mother had a relationship with a man she grew to love. For two years she kept him away from my siblings and me, so as not to have someone around who might, in some way, harm her daughters. Eventually he came to live with us, and we grew to like him a lot. He was a father figure—until one day he sexually molested me while I was asleep in my bedroom and my mother was asleep in hers.
“Why are you doing this?” I asked as I awoke.
“I was just trying to see if you were messing with those little boys,” he answered.
“You could have asked me that,” I snapped back.
I stopped him before he had gone too far, but the damage to my psyche had already been done. Again I didn’t tell my mom, even though her greatest fear had come to pass. I had seen her alone and lonely for years, and I didn’t want to get in the way of her happiness with the man she loved. I also didn’t want her to get into trouble for trying to seek retribution against him.
The incidents with my stepfather and John, as well as my reactions to them, set the tone for my future relationships with men and became par for the course. I ended up being rejected, disrespected, and neglected in every relationship, from puberty up to and including my marriage. When I was eighteen, I was naïve enough to trust the cousin of an ex-boyfriend. I allowed him to take me to visit his girlfriend—only to find that not only was she not home, there was no one there at all. He raped me. “Don’t even think of screaming,” he threatened. “No one else is here, no one will hear you, and you will only piss me off. So, act like you like it!”
When I got home that night, I went straight to the bathroom and tried to scrub away the guilt and shame I felt. It did not work. I never told anyone about it because, again, I didn’t want anyone to get in trouble for trying to defend me. Legal recourse never crossed my mind. Again, I just considered it all par for the course.
When I met my husband, Linwood, I thought he was my knight in shining armor. He was handsome, intelligent, gallant, chivalrous, generous, and so much fun. After two years I made him my manager. As artist/girlfriend and manager/boyfriend, our relationship was great for two years that was followed by a not-so-terrific one.
In the midst of my trouble in paradise, I received a notice from my record company. For no apparent reason, they were not renewing my recording contract, which would expire at the end of the year.
One night, at one of my shows, I had an accident onstage and woke up the next morning paralyzed from the waist down. I ended up in the hospital for spinal surgery. People were going around the record company saying, “The Queen is dead.” Was I simply a one-hit wonder with “Never Can Say Goodbye”? During the three-month hospital stay that followed, God got my attention. Gripped with fear of abandonment, physical handicap, and showbiz obscurity, I reached out to Him for help.
True to form, the Lord didn’t fail me. Within a year I had a massive hit with “I Will Survive,” and Linwood and I were married. Like so many innocent women, I thought, now that we’re married, things will be different; our focus will be on building a happy family together. I wasn’t the perfect wife, but I was attentive, trusting, reassuring, supportive, affectionate, loving, caring, and faithful. Linwood wasn’t all that bad as a husband. He was supportive as far as my career was concerned—physically protective and affectionate. But he took disrespect and disregard to a whole new level. I think he became so self-absorbed that he didn’t care if he was being hurtful to me. He had no concept of commitment and thought a grown man should be free to do whatever he wanted, stay out all night as many nights as he liked—so he did. It’s enough to say, as I often do, that I stayed at that party way too long.
What Linwood didn’t count on was the impact of “I Will Survive” and how much it would do for me. When I recorded the song, I thought of it concerning the courage it produced in me regarding my career, my mom’s passing, and the surgery I’d just had, and how it would encourage and inspire other people as well.
Now it became my mantra. It guided me in holding on to my faith and trusting God to bring me victoriously through all my trials and tribulations. I learned that internal scars—like those caused by fatherlessness, my stepfather, my ex-boyfriend’s cousin, and Linwood—put holes in your soul. Those scars can be just as deep as physical ones. They are just as painful and damaging, and generally hurt longer and are more debilitating. It took a while, but I grew strong, and I truly learned how to get along. My courage grew, and I began to recognize my own strength and the power God had placed in me. I spent several more years trying to make my marriage successful. But, as I told my husband on several occasions, “The problem with pushing a person to her limit is that no one knows what her limit is until she reaches it, and then it’s too late.”
Indeed, it became too late. I had reached my limit and came to the conclusion I couldn’t make the marriage work on my own and it was time to end it. My husband had taken up permanent residence in the state of denial and it was time for me to make a move as well. When I told my pastor I was getting a divorce, he asked me how I felt about it. After a long pause, I said, “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I’m free at last!”
I never missed Linwood because, to tell the truth, he had left me years before the divorce. But it was great getting to know the new me, the me so many abusive men had caused to hide deep down inside. Well, she’s out now. I love her, and God loves her, and she’ll never go into hiding again.
Indeed, I will survive.

In the following pages, you will find compelling stories that will likely mirror the experiences of yourself, family members, friends, and acquaintances. They are real-life stories of real people who valiantly climbed mountains of seemingly insurmountable obstacles to reach the pinnacle of triumph.
This book came about in a special way. My team—Sue Carswell, Stephanie Gold (my manager), and I—put out the word across the world that we were looking for survival stories for this book. We eventually received stories from as far away as Africa—including one story of a woman who was encamped in Auschwitz, another from a 9/11 mother, and the story of an autistic boy ordering flowers for his mother for Mother’s Day. We contacted blogs and writing magazines and reached out to various organizations that had members’ stories depicting the true essence of the song. Several of these groups included healing resources for abused women and men. It seems we used every connection we could find. Some in this book are even our friends’ stories. In the end we narrowed it down to forty stories we felt best illuminated the lyrics of my song. They vary in dimension, but I am very proud of each and every contributor for making this book come true.
My sincere hope is that these stories will provide inspiration, encouragement, and empowerment to you—no matter what challenges you might be facing. If the remarkable people in these stories can survive as I did, I know you can too!

*A portion of the author’s proceeds will donated to the NY Chapter of the American Diabetes Association and Danny and Ron’s Rescue .

Thanks to Jen, Manic Readers has a print copy of WE WILL SURVIVE and an MP3 download of the first cut off Ms. Gaynor’s new album to give away to one (1) lucky commenter.  Share with us that special song that’s gotten you through the rough patches.  Giveaway ends @ 12am est 12-16 -13.  Good Luck!

Grammy Award-winning singer GLORIA GAYNOR took the music world by storm in the 1970s, striking platinum with her disco hit “I Will Survive.” “I Will Survive” was the only song to earn a Grammy for Best Disco Recording and was one of only 25 songs inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2012. Gaynor has appeared on countless television and radio shows, received numerous national and international music and humanitarian awards, and continues to perform around the world for legions of fans. Her most requested song is, of course, “I Will Survive.”

Coauthor SUE CARSWELL, author of Faded Pictures from My Backyard (Ballantine), is a reporter-researcher at Vanity Fair and has ghostwritten numerous books. She is a former executive and senior editor at Random House Inc. and Simon and Schuster, a former story producer for Good Morning America, and correspondent for People magazine.

Visit Gloria      Amazon

DON’T PASS ME BY with Julie McGowan

A handful of evacuee children arrive in a small Welsh village, with a young woman who shouldn’t be there… but never wants to leave

One of the things I like best about writing is how one piece of work informs and leads one into another realm of fiction or worthwhile feature. That wonderful moment when one’s interest becomes piqued by something not previously considered and the mind starts asking, ‘What if…?’

This happened when I was writing my first novel, ‘The Mountains Between’. Part of the book spans World War 2, and, as I researched the era, I became fascinated by first-hand accounts of people who, as children, had been evacuated. Many had treasured memories of being taken into the homes of complete strangers and treated with the utmost loving care, but for some their lives became a nightmare; almost as bad as if they had stayed to face the bombs.

These stories stayed in the back of my mind while I completed my second, contemporary novel, ‘Just One More Summer’, but they were resurrected when I wrote a series of features about ‘helicopter’ parenting and how parents cope when their children leave home to go to university. Here I was, writing about the hand-wringing that goes on when a strapping 18-year-old leaves the family nest to go to a well-researched, nurturing environment, whilst in my mind’s eye were the images of little 5-and 6-year-olds gamely clutching their teddies, their gas masks and their cardboard suitcases, to go off to goodness knew where.

And so my current novel, ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ was born. It tells the story of two young East End evacuees who find themselves in a small Welsh village not far from Swansea. I set the book in my native Wales because the combination of Welsh accent and odd bits of Welsh language, a tight-knit chapel-led community and a mix of mining and rural landscape would all add to the children’s sense of bewilderment.

Young Arfur is outwardly tough and a bit of a young tearaway, but inwardly he wants nothing more than to return to his feckless mother in London, and rejects the overtures from the kindly family with whom he is billeted. His young timid friend Amy is more unlucky – she is placed with the God-fearing Mrs Preece and her son Edwin, who is initially friendly towards Amy, until his interest takes a more unhealthy turn….

And then there’s Lydia, a young woman with a baby, who shouldn’t have been on the evacuee train and leaves the billeting officer with the headache of not knowing where to place her. She is foisted onto the local doctor, as his housekeeper, but it is clear he doesn’t want her there. However, Lydia is determined to stay; she has run away from a violent husband, and, in her efforts to make sure that he won’t find her, tells everyone that she is widowed.

As the situation of each of the evacuees becomes more desperate, their lives and those of the villagers are inextricably intertwined until they each realise that in order to help themselves they first have to help each other.

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RIGHT BEFORE MY VERY EYES with Michelle Robinson


Begin writing with the first word. Don’t worry, the other words will follow behind. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation or paragraphs, just write. Don’t be afraid of what others may think. Don’t be afraid of what you may think. Write it down! Don’t let others tell you not to write about them. Trust me, they want you to write about them. But always use two or three people you know to make up a character, that way there’s plenty of material to write about the character and the people will not see themselves in the character at all. Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know and don’t give up until you finish it.
There will be times when you get writer’s block, but it will pass. Having a blueprint of events may prevent that. It keeps you on your path. I advise setting time in your schedule to write like you do with everything else, such as hair appointments, doctor appointments, dinner reservations, etc. Don’t be afraid to give some of yourself away in your characters. Use those hurtful experiences, they will make your story more real. Face it, you’re a survivor so be free when writing.

And make a motto for yourself that will encourage you not to give up. Eg. Write it for the story! Write b4 bed! Don’t turn on the TV until 2 chapters are done!

You’ll have to do your own research with finding a publisher. Most likely, the one that fits in your budget is the one to go with. Hopefully, you know someone who can assist you with that.

Finding a great editor is very important. Pay to have them critique your story too. It will make your book a great story. Most times you will almost have to rewrite your story, but that’s what you want. Don’t be a cheapskate because you get what you pay for. Ask them for references and make sure that they are an English major. From my experience they never meet your deadline so play with that abit so you stay on task.

You’ll need an attentive graphic designer who has vision and creativity. Make sure you get a website and get on all of the social media.
If you become a self published author, the most success is in vending at popular events. You’re gonna need an assistant to help you out. Channel book clubs and author events also. You must sell your books, you’ll be amazed at how many people actually read.

Go to some author events to learn more about marketing. Take some writing workshops and mingling amongst other authors and share information with them. Doors will open for you, don’t worry about that.

December 2-31, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1491805442
ASIN: B00EU77UW0
Genre: Mainstream Fiction

Journee and Jordyn are back! It’s a new year and things have shaken up alot between The Bell Twins after the untimely death of Kalena’s husband Todd. Coming back alone from her honeymoon, discover if Kalena will find peace with Todd’s death and happiness within her own life again.

Jordyn’s shocking secret only gets worse as it takes a turn down a path that leaves everyone more confused than before. Will Jordyn and Chris survive? Now that Jordyn’s mayhem has put Journee in the middle of her and her sisterhood, Journee has to decide what’s more important now, the friendship that the girls have shared for over twenty years or the relationship with her twin sister.
Chelsea & Najah’s lives have changed as well as Journee’s when Drew comes home from prison. This is the moment that Journee has been waiting for but is she ready to leave her broken past behind and marry him? Has she really moved on from Jason?  On vacation in Cabo San Lucas, things about him are uncovered and the truth is finally revealed to her.
As you witness more drama and celebrations, follow Jordyn, Journee, Kalena, Najah & Chelsea as the year 2009 just might be their year after all.

Amazon ebook        paperback       B&N

 

Michelle Robinson was born and raised in Oakland, CA. Oakland’s rich culture has laid the fabric for this story. She’s been doing hair for two decades. As a hairstylist, it’s safe to say she has also served as a therapist to her clients. She has heard and witnessed it all right behind her styling chair. From her experiences, she’s given advice to many and has watched people’s lives transistion. With this driving force, she has finally penned her second novel.

Email: rightbeforemyeyes@yahoo.com
Website   Facebook    Twitter: @BooksbyMichelle
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