Dana Burkey, Author of LOCKET FULL OF SECRETS, Talks About Her Writing Journey (with a giveaway!)

locket

My Writing Journey

 

With Locket Full of Secrets out on Kindle and paperback, receiving reviews and being purchased by readers, I stopped and looked back. How did I get to this point? What really lead to the book being out for people to read, or even what lead me to write this story in the first place?

Looking back I see that everything really started in middle school! That was when I was first encouraged to write thanks to writing prompts giving out by my 6th grade English teacher. It was in that class that I started to write fiction, build characters, and use my mind to create! I wrote often in the years that followed, and when I got to college it was an easy choice to pick Creative Writing as my minor. This was, however, where my writing career de-railed for a while.

My creative writing classes in college were the first time I ever experienced workshops. Each class consisted of reading something written by a classmate and then going around in a circle on by one to review their work. It sounded simple enough, and I was really excited for my first project to be read by the class. On my story day I felt really excited about my work, and was expecting nothing but good comments. Instead, I was told my writing was “childish” and “juvenile,” that my plot was too simple and that the way my characters faced conflict was un-realistic. I left class that day feeling that I had been punched!

After that first class, I took two more creative writing classes, each of them with many of the same people as the first. And each time, people told me my writing was childish! I did not understand. Sure, I was writing about characters that were teenagers, and knew I wanted younger people to read them, but it felt like people were not getting it. It felt to me like I was just not as good of a writer as I always thought and hoped I was. There were some good comments about my writing, my ideas seemed to be creative to some people, and my teacher encouraged me to keep writing and gave me positive feedback on my edits. But, I still felt like something was wrong. Why was my writing not being appreciated or liked? Even when people were saying they liked it, they never said it was “great” or “amazing,” but rather used words like “cute.” At the time, it made me feel like I chose the wrong minor completely.

I graduated college in 2009 and immediately moved to Washington State. It was a whole different world than Ohio, and my job as an intern kept me busy. In fact, for two years I worked and worked so much that I did not have time for much writing at all. I was learning about the full-time camping world, trying new things, and just living life out in the Pacific North West. But, once I was settled into my full time job at camp after my two years of being an intern came to an end, I started to miss writing. I wanted to create again, and knew that if I didn’t I would start to go stir crazy.

Not sure what else to do, I went online and printed out a few writing prompts. I had to do a lot of them in college, so I figured it could be a good way to start my brain working. And boy was it ever! The first writing prompt that caught my eye encouraged me to imagine meeting up with someone I had not seen in years. What would that be like, and how would that meeting go? The second I read the words, my brain began working over time! I remembered my best friend from 8th grade, Simona, and the fact that I had not seen her or heard from her at all since the last day of school so many years ago. But, rather than just imagine what we would talk about, my mind started working overtime. What if Simona, who was from Romania, was actually a spy? What if she HAD to leave Ohio?

As my mind created idea after idea I started jotting down notes. At some point my fascination with Chernobyl, and a Ukrainian friend I had in high school came into play, and I imagined Simona coming back looking for answers and help that would uncover truths about 1986 nuclear power plant explosion. Olena, a high school friend, was suddenly combined with Simona to make a strong character with a dark past and big secret. Sitting down with a paper and pen one day, I wrote four pages front and back, outlining the whole story. Some of the ideas were sketchy, but I felt like it had a flow and theme to it that would be really cool and exciting to read. Once it was all on paper, I stopped. I literally put the paper in a drawer and walked away. Clearly, the timing was not quite right, but the papers were there waiting for their moment.

With the papers in the drawer and forgotten, I spent my time reading. This is a super important fact in the journey for this book, since for the first time in my life I was hearing about this book genre called “young adult.” I did not understand it at first, but as I read more and more books it was like something clicked in my head. This was the type of book I was writing in college! The term YA did not exist yet, but it was clearly the genre I had been writing the whole time! It gave me new ideas and excitement to try writing more right away. So, I wrote a few short things that never went anywhere, and read as many YA books as I could. Then, each night I would lie in bed and think about that outline in my desk drawer. I would imagine the scenes in the book playing out, the characters interacting, and even the dramatic reveal of a secret about Chernobyl.

It was during those late night thinking times that I realized I wrote the outline wrong. In the outline the characters were all in the mid-twenties. They were living lives and had real jobs, but the dialogue I was imagining was much younger. Suddenly, I knew what I had done wrong. The book was meant to be a YA story, the character teens instead of adults. Knowing this, I hopped on my computer and wrote the first chapter of the book. I stopped there, busy with life and distracted with my role in a community theater show. But, I knew I wanted to go back and add more to this story that was growing and changing in my mind.

Just over a year ago, through a long series of random ideas and trial and error, I published my first book on Kindle. It was the start of my real writing career, and it was a bumpy and uphill climb for sure. I did not know much about the indie writing world, so I started making friends on social media. That was when I first heard about NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month takes places in November, in case you have not heard about it before, and it is a time for writers to write! The goal is 50,000 words in one month. It sounded daunting, but I signed up for it right away! Then, I went back to that outline and the ideas in my head and got ready. I made notecard outlines, researched even more about Chernobyl, despite already knowing a LOT, and then counted down the minutes until November began!

The journey was long and tiring, but by the end of November I had the first draft of Locket Full of Secrets complete. It went through two more edits and some help from my older sister “Red” Dawn, but in the end Locket was finished. The day I released it on Kindle I could not help but tear up a little. This was a project that was so many years in the making. So much emotion went into writing each word, fueled by the people that never saw my writing for what it really was. I wanted to prove to myself and everyone that I was a good writer, and that just because my audience was younger than myself, did not mean it was not worth reading.

So now, with Locket being read by readers that love YA books, I am happy for the crazy journey that got me where I am today. I think the time off of writing fueled my need to write this book. I think the negative comments I got in college helped me to make sure the words and stories are not JUST for teens. In fact, if I had to go back and do it all again, I would keep things just the way they are. The journey to where the book is now help made it mean that much more to me when a reader enjoys what I have created. It was not always an easy journey, but looking back I know it shaped and molded so much of who I am as an author. So, after all this time, I am thankful that people said my work was “juvenile.” Without their help, I might have never realized that I was a YA author all along!

 

About Dana Burkey:
dana burkey
I graduated college from Youngstown State University in 2009 with a degree in theater and a minor in creative writing. I am currently living in Washington State in a little cabin in the woods with my cat Cato. I work full time at a kids camp, and spend my free time doing community theater and adventuring in nature! I am an avid geocacher, and love watching reality TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance, Project Runway, and Big Brother! I am currently working on my next project that includes a few YA romances and a YA dystopian series!

 

Book Description:

After over 4 years, Olena comes rocketing back into Claire’s life, changing everything for the worse. Picking up the shattered pieces, Claire is not sure who to believe. Is Olena who she says she is, or is she a killer to stay away from? Leaning on her new boyfriend Steven for support, Claire is faced with the choice on who to trust: a friend she barley knows, or a history lesson she barely remembers. Together, the three will begin a journey that will take Claire from the safety of her home to the last place she thought she would ever be: The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. With the wreckage of rector four looming behind her, Claire will have to see Olena’s plan through until the end if she wants any chance of making it out alive.

 

Locket Full of Secrets Excerpt (End of Chapter 5)

“Night, sweetheart,” dad added before giving me a kiss on the forehead.

As they turned out the light and left my room I found myself suddenly more awake. The dark reminded me of the bathroom just before I saw the body, and that thought got my heart racing once again.

Walking to the window I opened it to allow for some of the spring air to fill my room. It was cold out, but it felt good after being inside for so long. Hearing a metal scraping sound behind me I turned to face my vanity. Moving closer, it became clear what was making the noise. The necklace Olena had given me was swinging where it hung, tapping into the mirror.

It had been a full year since I last saw Olena. My birthday had come and gone, followed by summer and even Christmas. I knew it was time I accepted the fact that I would probably never see her again.

Pulling the wrapped gift box from the top drawer of my dresser I could feel tears pricking my eyes. Despite my promise to open it when I saw her again, I had waited enough.

Ripping the paper off, I tossed it onto the ground, revealing a flat square box. As I took off the lid, a handwritten card from Olena greeted me instantly.

“In case I do not see you again, I wanted you to have this. You are my true best friend, and you will be missed. Do svidanija, Olena.”

Wiping my face with the back of my hand I pulled the card aside to reveal a necklace I knew well. Nestled in the small box was the silver pendant Olena always wore. It was a gift from her aunt and uncle; a locket that never opened. That did not matter though, as the design on its front more than made up for it.

I ran my thumb over the intricate tree design with light pink amethyst stones making up its delicate leaves. Since we shared the same birthday, February 23rd, it was not just my birthstone but Olena’s as well. With shaking hands I undid the clasp and put it around my neck, then looked at my reflection in the mirror.

Staring at the necklace resting atop my sweater I suddenly felt certain I would see Olena again soon. This necklace was too important for her to give me and then disappear from my life forever. Picking up the wrapper and reading the Russian birthday greeting once again, I felt a smile pull at my lips. This present gave me hope. This small amount of silver and stone was a sign from Olena she would always be my friend, no matter what. It was a sign of hope she would come back one day, and proof that our friendship meant something to her.

Pulling the necklace from its perch I held it in my hand, my thumb rubbing over the tree design the same way I had done so many times before. Tears sprang up in my eyes as I turned and threw the necklace at the wall. As it tumbled to the ground I heard it making contact with the floor grate, before falling into the heating duct. It would likely be stuck there, out of reach, until I unscrewed the grate to find it. My tears blurred my vision as I stumbled back to bed, unable to stop their flow. Crawling under my covers I hugged my new teddy bear tight as my body was wracked with sobs. Pressing my face into my pillow to mask the sounds, I cried until my body was too exhausted to do anything but sleep.

 
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New Release Review and Giveaway! SCOTSMAN OF MY DREAMS by Karen Ranney (MacIain #2)

Looking for a historical romance? Look no further!

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Scotsman of My Dreams
MacIain #2
By: Karen Ranney
Releasing August 25, 2015
Avon

Blurb:

In USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Karen Ranney’s second novel in her breathtaking series, an unconventional woman and a former scoundrel embark on a daring mission of desire. 

Once the ton’s most notorious rake, Dalton MacIain has returned from his expedition to America during the Civil War-wounded and a changed man. Instead of attending soirees, he now spends his time as a recluse. But Dalton’s peace is disturbed when Minerva Todd barges into his London townhouse, insisting he help search for her missing brother Neville. Though Dalton would love to spend more time with the bewitching beauty, he has no interest in finding Neville-for he blames him for his injury.

Minerva has never met a more infuriating man than the Earl of Rathsmere yet she is intrigued by the torrid rumors she has heard about him…and the fierce attraction pulling her toward him.

Dalton does not count on Minerva’s persistence-or the desire she awakens in him, compelling him to discover her brother’s fate. But when danger surrounds them, Dalton fears he will lose the tantalizing, thoroughly unpredictable woman he has come to love.

 

Excerpt:

“Are you afraid?” he asked.

“Of course not. I just don’t want to kiss you.”

“Not at all?”

“Not one little bit. Not an iota.”

“No curiosity about what it might be like to kiss the man Queen Victoria said was most certainly the worst rake in all of London?”

“No.”

“You’re fibbing, Minerva.”

“I’m not.”

He lowered his head, brushed his lips over her heated cheek. To his surprise, she didn’t move away. Slowly, he traced a path to her lips, breathing against them before placing his mouth on hers.

A kiss should be an appetizer. A kiss was a prelude, strings being tuned in an orchestra pit, dawn on an important day.

A kiss was not a feast. A kiss was not an explosion of the senses. But this one was.

He could smell her, that hint of earthiness mixed with her new perfume. Her skin was warm against his fingertips, her cheek heating as he inclined his head slightly to deepen the kiss.

Her mouth opened slightly on a gasp.

He wanted to banish her sorrow, the pain Neville had caused her. He wanted to change the tenor of her thoughts, give her something to replace her dread.

He could give Minerva passion. That’s the gift he could give her.

Review:

How have I never read anything by Karen Ranney before? I have no idea. It’s an oversight I plan on fixing…soon.

I adored both Minerva (such an awesome name!) and Dalton. I suspect I wouldn’t have been too crazy about the “before” Dalton–a man who is so bored with his life of debauchery he runs off to join a war, a war he actually tosses a coin to decide for which side he’s going to fight?? Who does that? (well, obviously someone, since it’s based on a real event, but honestly)–but the Dalton we meet in this book is wonderful.

Or at least he works his way over to wonderful, slowly but surely.

And Minerva? I’ll let Dalton speak for her here:

She was too opinionated, too stubborn, too much an individual. She pushed against the mold of society, bent its restraints, and was in the process of making herself a source of endless gossip.

His need to protect her startled him. She was, on the face of it, not the type of woman who engendered protective impulses. But that was the problem, wasn’t it? People didn’t see the true Minerva. They didn’t realize her loneliness or that she was easily wounded despite her crusty exterior. They didn’t know her capacity for affection or her sense of loyalty and duty.

She wasn’t plain; she was beautiful in a way that was completely Minerva’s.

All that, and she’s an amateur archaeologist. She’s definitely up there as one of my favorite heroines, and together she and Dalton are absolutely among my favorite couples.

They definitely don’t start out that way–this is a classic enemies-to-lovers story.

“You can be the most arrogant, autocratic, rude creature it has ever been my experience to meet.”

“While you, on the other hand, are impulsive, rash, and given to outlandish behavior with no thought to the consequences.”

“You drove me to it.”

Minerva Todd was making him insane.

And that conversation was after they fell in love. 😉

Two thumbs way, way up on this one! A slow build to romance, a hint of mystery and danger, and two fascinating main characters who it’s so easy to fall for make this one a definite must-read. It’s second in the series but works just fine as a standalone–Glynis, Dalton’s cousin and the heroine of book one ( In Your Wildest Scottish Dreams ) plays a very small but important role, but you don’t need to know more of her story than is given here for this book to work.

Anxiously awaiting book three, An American in Scotland !

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

SomD

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Author Info:Karen_Ranney

Karen Ranney began writing when she was five. Her first published work was The Maple Leaf, read over the school intercom when she was in the first grade. In addition to wanting to be a violinist (her parents had a special violin crafted for her when she was seven), she wanted to be a lawyer, a teacher, and, most of all, a writer. Though the violin was discarded early, she still admits to a fascination with the law, and she volunteers as a teacher whenever needed. Writing, however, has remained the overwhelming love of her life.

 

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

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Lisa Nicolas, Author of AS LOST AS I GET, Talks About Her Writing Inspiration (with a giveaway!)

Lisa Nicholas gets inspired by a classic!

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“I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I even read one of your books.”

It’s funny the things that stick with us and influence us years later. In 1984, a movie came out called Romancing the Stone, staring Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas. You’re probably familiar with it: Joan Wilder is a reclusive but wildly popular romance novelist, and when her sister gets kidnapped in Colombia, Joan has to face everything she fears about the outside world (which is pretty much everything) to go save her. Along the way, she meets the dashing (if somewhat crude) Jack Colton and they wind up having adventures and eventually falling in love.

Little did I realize I’d be writing a bit of an homage to it thirty years later, with my new book, As Lost as I Get.

Make no mistake: Zoe, my heroine, isn’t a romance novelist, and she’s much tougher than Joan Wilder. Zoe’s hero Lee isn’t nearly as uncouth as Jack Colton. (His mother would never tolerate such behavior!) But one of the first things I knew about As Lost as I Get was that I wanted my hero and heroine to wind up lost together in the jungle. That’s when I remembered Joan and Jack, and knew I had to write my own version of the infamous mud slide scene:

They were pushing their way up a particularly steep slope, the water running down her face and turning the ground beneath her feet to treacherous black mud. Her feet started to slip in slow motion. Her first instinct was to push forward harder, to try and get past the slippery spot. It just succeeded in making her fall faster, and the world sped up when she landed face first and started to slide down the slope. “Lee!” was all she managed before she had to close her mouth to avoid a mouthful of mud.

It was like sledding, if snow were black instead of white, and warm instead of cold. She tried to turn over, tried to grab at roots and tree saplings to stop her fall, but she was moving too fast. Mud filled her shoes and pushed up her pant legs, soaked through her shirt. When she finally slid to a stop—at the bottom of the slope she’d just climbed—it felt like the entire fall had taken an hour. Despair pushed her down into the mud like a bully’s hand, and she didn’t try to get up at first.

Unfortunately, Lee doesn’t wind up following her down the hill (or landing with his face in an intimate spot–that happens later ;)), but I was able to use the moment to make the two of them stop and consider their feelings for each other, and it’s a major turning point in their relationship.

That moment was, I swear, the only intentional reference to the movie. It wasn’t until after the book was finished that I spotted other similarities too, like the setting, Colombia. I also had the awkward realization that, like Joan, I’m a single romance writer who’s much more interested in writing about dangerous adventures than having them–and is pretty attached to her cat (cats, in my case, and a dog). Like I said, it’s funny what sticks with you.

Thankfully (?) I don’t have a sister. And if my Jack or Lee want to find me, they’re going to have to look, not in the wilds of Colombia, but in the neighborhood coffee shop where I’ll be working on my next book.

 

About Lisa Nicholas: P12-8013f

Lisa Nicholas is the author of The Farther I Fall. If she’s not writing, she’s feeding her story addiction any way she can: raiding Netflix, pillaging her local bookstore and library, and (most recently) tearing her way through the comics archive at Marvel.

Connect with Lisa at her website | blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

 

AS LOST AS I GET by Lisa Nicholas is the perfect mix of hot romance and thrilling adventure. A doctor working in rural Colombia is shocked to run into the CIA agent who saved her life two years before. After an impetuous night of passion, she vows to stay away from him. But when her job takes her deeper into the jungle, he may be the only one who can save her from a new threat… If readers liked STRIKING DISTANCE by Pamela Clare they’ll be thrilled by this romantic suspense.

AsLostasIGet

Title: As Lost as I Get
Author: LisaNicholas
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: August 18, 2015
Publisher: Berkley Intermix
Print Length: 72k
Format: Digital ONLY
Digital ISBN: 9780698191464

Synopsis: 

From the author of The Farther I Fall comes an action-filled romance in which two lovers discover that the best thing about being lost is having someone find you…

CIA operative Lee Wheeler is glad to be back in the field, even if the assignment is at a backwater station in Colombia—what he considers punishment for crossing lines in an attempt to save his brother’s life. Either way, he’s ready for action. But he never could have predicted the action he’s about to get…

Doctor Zoe Rodriguez is in charge of a clinic in a tiny town on the edge of the rain forest. She’s still dealing with a traumatic experience she had in Mexico—a trauma she wouldn’t have survived if it weren’t for Lee. So when they unexpectedly cross paths again, unresolved wounds rise to the surface, and their mutual passion flares to life.

But when a new threat reveals itself, Lee and Zoe’s reunion takes on echoes of the past that may ruin their chance for a future.

 

Find out more at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks | Books-a-Million

 

 

Other Books from Lisa Nicholas:

THE FARTHER I FALL

Sometimes when you fall, you land just where you need to be…

Gwen Tennison got out of Afghanistan alive but scarred–and then got stuck on her sister’s couch. When she’s offered a job managing the U.S. tour for rock music’s hottest, most troubled star, it seems like just the thing to snap her out of her post-injury funk. Her instructions are simple: start the shows on time, and keep him clean.

But Lucas Wheeler may be more than she can handle. Though he’s drug-free, he still feels the need, and his gorgeous, capable new tour manager is a challenge he can’t ignore. Fame and infamy have forced Lucas to protect his heart, but soon he finds himself craving Gwen’s touch, and yearning to give her control. And Gwen might feel the same way.

But it’s not just the mutual heat between them that is keeping Gwen on her toes. Someone is following Lucas from city to city. With more than just her job on the line Gwen must decide how much she’s willing to risk to keep Lucas safe.

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New Release and Giveaway! DRIVING HER CRAZY by Kira Archer

Out now!

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Book Title: Driving Her Crazy

Author: Kira Archer

Release Date: Aug 17, 2015

Genre: romantic comedy

Book Synopsis:

Cher Debusshere hates being the black sheep of her posh, well-to-do family almost as much as she hates driving—which is exactly what she’s forced to do when her flight home for her perfect sister’s wedding is grounded. Fan-freakin’-tastic. Then a hot guy offers to share both the car rental and the driving duties…only to drive her crazy by assuming she’s just some spoiled little rich girl.

Mechanic Nathaniel “Oz” Oserkowski is about as blue-collar as they come. There’s never been a time he hasn’t worked his ass off, and he’s determined to prove it to the gorgeous princess in the passenger seat. As the miles pass, they bait and needle each other…until their lust and longing gets so hot it nearly overheats the engine.

They have nothing in common. Hell, they can barely stand each other. But sometimes it takes a journey to change the destination…

 

Excerpt:

Cher smiled, refusing to think of anything else but that moment. The rest of the world could come crashing in later. Oz…settled back against the seat, pulling her into his lap. He kissed her, his lips gently caressing her forehead, her cheeks, her jaw, her neck. He nuzzled against her, breathing her in. Her heart skipped at the painfully sweet tenderness of his actions.

She didn’t say a word, just curled into him and he held her. For just a brief moment, she considered the possibility that Oz could be the one for her. That maybe they could make it work. She could go live with him, open her shop near him. Have dinner on the table every night when he got home and send him off to work every morning with a cup of coffee and a kiss. They could have babies and maybe get a cat. Or a dog. Or both. They could have it all. Have their dreams and each other.

It was a nice thought.

But that’s all it was.

Part of her would love nothing more than to walk right up to her parents and announce that instead of reapplying for medical school or marrying whatever suitable man they’d dug up, she was going to open her own extension of DressHer and ride off into the sunset with Oz. The other part of her knew she’d never do it. They’d disown her on the spot. And as much as they drove her nuts and sometimes made her downright miserable, she loved them. They were her parents.

And the longer she sat there, curled on Oz’s lap like they had some kind of future together, the harder it was going to be to leave him and go back to her real life.

Time to end the fantasy and get back to reality.

DHC_500

Goodreads * Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Entangled

Kira ArcherAuthor Bio:

Kira Archer resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kiddos, and far too many animals in the house. She tends to laugh at inappropriate moments, break all the rules she gives her kids (but only when they aren’t looking), and would rather be reading a book than doing almost anything else. She has odd, eclectic tastes in just about everything and often lets her imagination run away with her. She loves a variety of genres and along with contemporary romances, she writes historicals as Michelle McLean.

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Giveaway Info: $25 Amazon gift card International entrants welcome.

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Cover Reveal and Giveaway! THE MISFIT BRIDES SERIES by Jamie Farrell (BLISSED, MATCHED, and SMITTENED)

Three cover reveals in one!
The Misfit Brides Series
by Jamie Farrell
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blissed
(previously published as The Husband Games)
Book 1: The Misfit Brides Series
Release Date: August 7, 2014
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Welcome To Bliss, the Bridal Capitol of the Midwest!

Natalie Castellano practically has it all—beauty, brains, and a stellar reputation. Because childbearing hips and exhaustion lines are totally sexy. And knowing when to let go of her family’s failing bridal boutique is smart…right? Plus, who doesn’t want to be that divorced mother in Bliss?

With all she has going for her, it would be selfish to secretly wish for love too. Who needs it? Definitely not Nat. But perhaps she does need to take her wedding dress-obsessed little boy somewhere else for a fresh start.

CJ Blue is on top of the world. At least, he was last week when he stood on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Now, he’s in an empty confessional, hiding from the hullabaloo of a family wedding. Aka the depths of hell.

His meddling relatives want to poke at the deep psychological wounds he supposedly bears from being a twenty-something widower. But he doesn’t want to talk, he doesn’t want to be fussed over, and he certainly doesn’t want another chance to fail at love. He just wants to get through this wedding and back to his adventurous life.

But when a dark-haired, wounded-eye beauty invades his sanctuary and whispers a secret he was never supposed to know, he gets swept up in her life. Is he brave enough to tackle the adventure of life in Bliss, or will he walk away from the only woman in the world who could offer him love, forgiveness, and a second chance?

Matched
Book 2: The Misfit Brides Series
Release Date: October 20, 2015
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Welcome Back to Bliss, The Land of Happily Ever Afters!

Lindsey Castellano couldn’t ask for more. She’s the most successful divorce lawyer ever raised in Bliss. (Never mind that she’s the only one.) She’s her nephew’s favorite aunt. (For the moment, anyway.) And thanks to a little gift (or curse) from the universe, she’s an expert at avoiding love, commitment, and inevitable heartbreak. Or so she thought until the night of her sister’s wedding.

Will Truitt might’ve grown up living a country song—his momma died, his daddy went to prison, and his dog ran away—but as an adult, he’s been blessed by the country rock gods. Being Billy Brenton on stage isn’t an honor he takes lightly. He likes to give back what fame has given him, which is how he finds himself happily crashing a wedding in this quirky little bridal-obsessed town. The one thing he isn’t counting on, though, is colliding with the only girl he ever let himself love.

It’s been fifteen years since Lindsey shattered his heart. Then, she’d been a sorority girl on her way to the top, and he’d been a lowly janitor with a little bit of a dream. Now he’s on top of the world, and she’s the last person he should need or want.

But she’s the only person who has ever inspired his music. And he’s the only man she’s never been able to forget. Have the years made them wiser, stronger, and better able to love, or this time, will they simply crash and burn harder?

Smittened
Book 3: The Misfit Brides Series
Release Date: March 1, 2015
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A Bad Boy, a Good Girl, and Ice Cream Collide in the Best Little Wedding Town in America!

Dahlia Mallard has finally found her destiny—running an ice cream shop in the happiest bridal town in the Midwest. Problem is, her heart is bigger than her bank account, and she needs a serious influx of cash to get through the winter. Her last-ditch effort? Getting country music superstar Billy Brenton to commit to attending her risqué flavor-tasting event to boost ticket sales. But the closest she can get to Billy is his drummer, the womanizing Mikey Diamond.

Mikey loves the ladies, and he makes no secret of it. But he’s not such a fan of this town devoted to weddings, love, and marriage. And he’s even less of a fan of people using him to get to Billy. When circumstances land Mikey in Dahlia’s house, though, all his caution—and all his interest in any other single ladies—flies out the window. Dahlia’s quirky and funny and, unlike all the other women he’s ever known, she doesn’t tolerate any of his baloney. But when Mikey discovers that Dahlia, too, is using him to get close to Billy, will he take the chance to be her hero instead, or will he revert to his manwhore ways?

 

MATCHED (Misfit Brides #2) Playlist

 

 

Jamie Farrell writes fun contemporary romances with quirky characters and lots of heart. She believes love, laughter, and bacon are the most powerful forces in the universe. Her debut novel, Southern Fried Blues, was a finalist for the 2013 National Readers’ Choice Awards and the 2014 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Awards.

A native Midwesterner, Jamie has lived in the South the majority of her adult life. When she’s not writing, she and her military hero husband are busy raising three hilariously unpredictable children.

 

 

Join Jamie’s Feisty Belles! The Feisty Belles is a fan group with open membership. Members get exclusive content and other fun stuff. :-)

 

 

 

 

 

Heather Long, Author of RIVER WOLF, Talks About Punching the Writing Clock (and a giveaway!)

Writing muse vs writing schedule? Author Heather Long shares her process with us…

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Punching the Writing Clock

Determining the writing schedule is as much an artistic choice as it is a business decision…

As a hybrid author—meaning I publish both as an indie and via publishers—creating a writing and publishing schedule can be a juggling act. The moment I let readers know of a pre-order date, I’m on a clock to make sure that book is produced, edited, proofread, finaled and formatted so that it can be uploaded and ready to go.

In general, I would prefer to be writing six to ten months ahead of any release date, but, as in all things, life tends to get in the way. So, how do I decide what I write next?

It’s a little bit of project management, blended with artistic desire, capped by whomever is yelling the loudest in my ear.  In an ideal world, I like to write in a specific order—paranormal, contemporary, paranormal, contemporary, etc. This is the best schedule for me, because it keeps my muse fresh. However, since life can get in the way, I may get caught up in one series or another and write several in a row. It’s usually at that point that I really need a break to write something completely different.

A Muse By Any Other Name…

Let’s put it this way…I have a to be written list that looks like this:

  • A Man Called Wyatt
  • Desert Wolf
  • Three Marines and a Baby
  • Boomers #4
  • Soulgirls #6
  • Snow Wolf
  • Going Royal spinoff #1
  • (FYI, this list is actually 30+ books long at the moment)

That’s what the schedule looks like, but what really happens?

6 a.m. Manuscript open to book A because the scene just built itself. Hit save and run an errand or get Mini to school. Come home and switch over to book B, because a new scene came to life. Try to go back to the first book while book C, which I’ve been waiting a year to write, gets louder and louder and louder.

When it comes down to is a conflict between the muse and the schedule, the muse will win nearly every time. Why? Because the words flow when the muse wants to play.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t made myself finish a book even as another shouted in my ear, but it does mean that those I am passionate about come swifter and finish faster than the ones I have to pull teeth to get onto the page.

I love every book I write. It’s a love affair and, just like relationships in real life, you can’t force them to be what you want. For those of you who are wondering? I’ve always referred to my muse as a litter of puppies. Some are sweet and playful, others are demanding and pushy—but they’re all cute, and I can’t wait to see what they grow up to be.

 

About Heather Long:Heather Long

National bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas summertime. From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories—her characters drive the books. When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.

Connect with Heather: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

River Wolf by Heather Long is a hot, sexy, and snarky tale of redemption, betrayal, healing, and the power of love.

After a murderer tore his pack apart, Alpha Brett Dalton must put the pieces back together again while solving the mystery of the woman who captivates him. Readers who’ve fallen for the Willow Bend wolf pack with fall even harder for this 7th book in the series. Packed with action, animal instinct, and tension, this book will leave you panting for more.

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Title: River Wolf
Author: Heather Long
Series: Wolves of Willow Bend
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: August 25th, 2015
Publisher: Self-Published
Print Length: 100K
Format: Paperback and Digital
Print ISBN: 9781515313618
Digital ISBN: 9781311154637

 

Synopsis:

Brett Dalton, Alpha of Hudson River, isolated himself from his pack mates after one betrayed him. The once, easygoing Alpha has become taciturn, remote and unforgiving. His pack worries for him, but they too have suffered a devastating blow. When several members leave to join Three Rivers, the pack faces the threat of dissolution until Brett’s best friend and Lone Wolf, Luc Danes returns to Hudson River accompanied by a beautiful young human—or is she? Something about the woman consumes Brett. Has Luc come home to help or to take the pack from Brett?

Colby Jenson wrapped up thousands of hours of community service working at the hospital in Maine when an injured Luc Danes rolled through the door. The impossible patient drove the nurses crazy, but when Danes offered her money no strings attached to drive him to New York, she agreed. The last thing she expected was to arrive in the small Westchester County town and to meet the craziest collection of residents—especially the devastatingly sexy Brett Dalton. Part of her wants to hit the road, the rest wants to make him smile and he keeps making excuses for her to stay.

Then she sees the wolves…and is exposed to a world she can barely imagine. When Brett discovers a secret about her, nothing will be the same again. Now she will find herself torn between a world she isn’t sure she can understand and the man who has taken her heart hostage…

Find out more at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks | ARe

 

Praise for the Wolves of Willow Bend series:

“Long dished out a lot of unexpected twists and turns and did a great job tying it all together. The build-up and bits of action kept me up late at night flipping the pages.” – Booked & Loaded

“ROGUE WOLF is a fast paced, intriguing look into the world of shifters. Salvatore is old world a bit stodgy and Margo is very much new world and on top of that a lone wolf and Enforcer. How is it possible that these two could be mates? In author Heather Long’s vivid and fun imagination it’s very easy.” – Fresh Fiction

“BAYOU WOLF is in a word … amazing. All the reader can do is hold on for the ride and enjoy the fireworks.” – Fresh Fiction

“If you love sexy wolf shifters, sweet love stories and action then you have to pick up UNTAMED WOLF by Heather Long.” – Annetta Sweetko, Fresh Fiction

 

Excerpt from River Wolf:

So not ready to be awake…

A knock on the door intruded in her drifting and she groaned. Dammit, she was a guest. She couldn’t stay in bed all day. In fact, what she needed to do was get up, shower, dress and get her ass on the road. Florida seemed a hell of a long way to go, though. Rolling over, she shoved the blankets away then climbed out of the bed. Glaring at the light between the curtains, she rubbed a hand over her face, then stumbled to the door.

Opening it a crack, she gazed at her host. Goddammit. He looked perfect. Dressed in a clean, nicely pressed shirt with the top two buttons open to reveal the faint curls of dark against his chest and smelling like heaven, he looked good enough to eat. His hair wasn’t even damp, though it fell in a soft wave toward his forehead. He’d been up long enough to shower and dress—and he wore a smile.

“Ugh,” she sighed. “Please God tell me you are not one of those happy morning people.”

The corner of his sensual mouth quirked higher. The effect on his expression devastated her sleepy senses. No human should ever look so damn good without coffee. The combination of rake and boy next door added to his appeal, but the trace of scars and mottled skin gave him a ruggedness she desperately wanted to smooth away. “I woke you.”

“Not exactly,” she admitted, rubbing her cheek against the door and leaning on it a little more heavily. Everything ached and she wanted to go back to sleep. “I’m used to getting by on a lot less sleep.” And rolling out of bed to go to work for eight hour shifts that as often as not turned into ten to twelve hours on her feet. “I think I am tireder than I thought.” She yawned the last three words, and when she glanced at him again, his expression softened.

Extending a finger, he traced the line of her cheek and it was a soothing motion, one which had her eyes half-closing in pleasure. “Go back to bed, Colby.” His voice washed over her. “I’ll be in my office working.”

“I can’t laze about in bed all day.” No matter how good it sounded.

“Why not?”

“Because…” She had to go to Florida or at least say her goodbyes. She was a guest and not even an intentional one.  “…Luc. I should probably check on him.”

“He’s fine, the doctor is with him.” The indulgence in his voice evaporated, but the steadiness in his tone remained. “Go sleep. When you wake up, come find me. We’ll have coffee.”

Tempting. So. So. Tempting. “I’m up now…but coffee sounds like heaven. Really, really strong coffee.”

“Double pot? I made one, I can run it through again.”

Colby groaned at the idea. Now that he’d mentioned it, she could smell the coffee. It proved even more alluring than the sweet vanilla and jasmine entwining the pine of his cologne on her pillow. Releasing the door to stretch, she would have thumped her tail if she’d had one. “Yes, please. If it wouldn’t be too much to ask.”

Silence greeted her comment, and she found Brett gazing at her. Rapt admiration in his eyes as he trailed his gaze down her body and up again.

Fuck me… She still only wore a t-shirt and panties and she’d just given him a show. “Crap. Sorry.” Slamming the door shut, she leaned against it. Adrenaline burned through the remaining traces of sleepiness, adrenaline and a healthy dose of lust. Having him look at her like that warmed inside and out.

“Please,” his voice stroked her through the door. “Don’t apologize. I’ll go fix the coffee. Come and find me.”

The invitation had her toes curling and she bit her lip. “I will,” she said, then added in a low whisper. “I promise.”

“I’ll be waiting.”

A shiver skated over her spine and she closed her eyes. Maybe she should have invited him inside to go back to bed with her. Inappropriate as hell, and impulsive, but she bet Brett would wake her even better than the coffee.

He already has…

 

Other Books in the Wolves of Willow Bend Series:

WOLF BITE

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Book 1 is available HERE

CAGED WOLF

Caged Wolf 300

Book 2 is available HERE

Follow the blog blitz August 24th-28th! One grand prize winner will receive a Wolves of Willow Bend SWAG Basket! Enter HERE or through the form below!

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Visit any or all of the following blogs for your chance to win!

8/24/2015

Evermore Books

3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!

Romance Junkies

Melody’s Love 4 Books

Undercover Book Reviews

Coffee Books & Art

8/25/2015

Mama Reads, Hazel Reads

Carol Kittie Reviews

The World As I See It

The Book Quarry

I Smell Sheep

Snarky Mom Reads…

8/26/2015

Archaeolibrarian: I Dig Good Books

Tammy’s  Tea  Time

Joyfully Reviewed

Crystal’s Chaotic Confessions

8/27/2015

Becky on Books

Majorly Delicious

Fresh Fiction Blog

My Reading Reality

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A Little Fiction of Every Flavour

8/28/2015

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Release Week and Giveaway! BREAKOUT by Ann Aguirre (Dred Chronicles #3)

We are absolutely thrilled to bring you the Release Week Blitz for Ann Aguirre’s BREAKOUT! BREAKOUT is an Adult Romantic Science Fiction novel set in the Jax Universe and is a part of Ann Aguirre’s Dred Chronicles, published through Ace. Grab your copy of BREAKOUT today!
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BREAKOUT Synopsis:

All hell is breaking loose in the edge-of-your-seat follow-up to Havoc and Perdition from New York Times bestselling author Ann Aguirre…

The prison ship Perdition has become a post-battle charnel house with only a handful of Dred’s soldiers still standing and now being hunted by Silence’s trained tongueless assassins. Forging an uneasy alliance with mercenary commander Vost—who is their only chance at escape—the Dread Queen will do whatever it takes to end her life sentence on Perdition and keep the survivors alive long enough to cobble together a transport capable of getting them off station.

If Dred and her crew can win the deadly game of cat and mouse, the payoff is not only life but freedom—a prize sweeter than their wildest dreams. Yet the sadistic Silence would rather destroy Perdition than let a single soul slip from her grasp…

Praise for the Dred Chronicles:

“There’s so much action, so much adventure, and more than that, it’s great writing.”—USA Today

“SiranthaJax fans may be intrigued to see what befell Jael after his ill-considered actions there, and new lead Dred is a strong linchpin for a promising new series.”—Publishers Weekly

“Spectacularly and spell-bindingly perfect with high octane action that keeps you on the edge of your seat and a romance that is surprisingly sweet and tender in a harsh and unforiving setting…This is honestly one of the best SF romance series I have read.” —Book Pushers

 

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Amazon ** Barnes and Noble ** BAM ** Indiebound ** Vroman’s ** Book Depository ** iBooks

And don’t miss the previous books in the Dred Chronicles!
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PERDITION

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HAVOC

 

 

Author PhotoAbout Ann Aguirre:

Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author and RITA winner with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. Ann likes books, emo music, action movies, and she writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens, published with Harlequin, Macmillan, and Penguin, among others.

Website **Facebook**Twitter**Tumblr ** Goodreads ** Newsletter SignUp

 

 

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New Release Review and Giveaway! JUST SAY YES by Alyssa Goodnight

Looking for a fun read? Warning: it may give you the munchies… 😉

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Just Say Yes
by Alyssa Goodnight
Publication Date: August 24, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance

Synopsis:

Single mom Jade Moran isn’t ready for any big changes in either her horrible ’70s kitchen or her romantic life. Her ex did a number on her, and she isn’t interested in getting hurt again. But when she meets a super-hot contractor, she wonders if avocado appliances are on the way out and romance is on the way in.

Max Gianopoulis doesn’t have a clue why he’s so enchanted by Jade. She’s almost as big a mess as her kitchen, and he’s a guy who likes to keep things simple. He let himself get involved with a previous client, and he’s not interested in repeating the experience. But Jade has turned up the flirty heat—and he can’t keep his hands off her.

With everything moving too fast and coming too easy, Jade’s insecurities kick into high gear. She’s not sure she can trust another man again—and she definitely doesn’t believe in magic.

 

Review:

A fun and quirky read! I loved both Jade and Max. Neither one was looking for a relationship–heck, Max wasn’t even looking for a new contracting job, yet not only did he take one on, he only gave himself two weeks (!) to completely redo her entire kitchen–but they found themselves unexpectedly drawn to each other anyway, in spite of themselves. The secondary characters–Jade’s daughter Evie, Max’s grandmother Yia Yia Cleo and his sister Tessa especially–were as much fun as the MCs.

There were so many references to things I love–Anne of Green Gables (seriously, Anne and Gilbert just don’t get enough page time as a classic romance couple; I have no idea why), Gone with the Wind, Firefly, Veronica Mars, Lizzie Bennett Diaries, various superheroes…the list goes on and on. Seriously, I was wearing my Captain America hoodie (okay, one of my two) while reading about Jade in her Cap t-shirt. We could be besties.

A warning: all the little excerpts from the Book of Kitchen Witchery and Witch in the Kitchen made me more than a little hungry–and oh so tempted to give kitchen magic a try. Especially the chocolate cherry blurberry bark. I’m not sure if the “magic” is real or not, but it sounded delicious and definitely worth a try either way! :)

This was my first book my Ms. Goodnight, but it absolutely will not be my last. So much fun!

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

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About Alyssa Goodnight

Alyssa Goodnight

Alyssa is a Texas girl who dreams of British accents. She currently lives between Houston and Galveston with her husband, two sons, and their adventure dogs, Indiana Jones and Short Round. She does her writing with an ice-cold can of Dr. Pepper, or when she’s feeling spicy, a handful of Hot Tamales. She fangirls over Masterpiece Mystery, good Tex-Mex, and boxed chocolates. And, of course, books.

 

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Release Day and Giveaway! SPECIAL AGENT MAXIMILIAN by Mimi Barbour (Undercover FBI #3)

Out today!

Special Agent Maximilian
by Mimi Barbour
Series: Undercover FBI, #3
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: August 25, 2015

Identical twins but different men – she loves both!

In this electrifying romantic suspense set in the steamy streets of New Orleans, Lieutenant Commander Nik Baudin, accidently meets up with an identical twin he never knew existed. When his brother Max goes missing, Nik assumes his identity as Special Agent Maximilian. This gives him access to FBI files making it easier to arrest the gangsters who attacked his brother and to stop their trafficking of underage girls. Being that Nik has specialized commando training, he’s the perfect man for the job – that’s if his PTSD doesn’t kick in and leave him cowering in a corner.

Special Agent Maya Barnes can’t believe it when she spots her partner, Max Foster, wandering along the French market without a care in the world. Since he’d been beaten and had gone missing weeks earlier, they all believed him dead. There’s only one problem… though this man might look exactly like the missing agent, she knows differently. In all the years they’ve worked together, she’s never wanted to have mind-blowing sex with her partner before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mimi Barbour is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who’s sold over 500,000 copies of her books world-wide. Her five romance series: The Vicarage Bench/ time travel at it’s best, Angels with Attitudes / angels love romance, Vegas / fast-paced plotting, Elvis / make a song a book and her newest, Undercover FBI / with sizzling conflicts and lots of humor.

Mimi’s been heard to say: “I’m an author who loves to read uplifting stories about romance. Add in some time travel, or maybe an angel, or even a little romantic suspense and it makes the story more fascinating because of the incredible possibilities.