A First Look at Laverne Thompson’s “The Beast Within”

Today it is my pleasure to introduce Laverne Thompson and TWO of her new books. She is honoring us by sharing a preview of her upcoming book, The Beast Within along with an excerpt of her current novel, After Midnight-City of Sin. Take it away, Laverne.

My name is LaVerne Thompson, I write contemporary, fantasy and sci/fi romance but I also have an alter ego. As Ursula Sinclair I write new adult and romantic suspense.

I’m an empty nester. Both of my kids have graduated from college and are off in their chosen careers so it’s just my hubster and me along with my dog and cat. So I pretty much write all over the house. I’m no longer relegated to hiding in the basement to write, which is what I used to do when the house was full.

I write romance because I am a romantic at heart. I love a happily ever after and want to take my readers there. Even in a continuing series the reader still has the satisfaction of knowing my heroine gets her hero. lol I also love to build worlds, which is why even my contemporary stories tend to have intrigue or be more romantic suspense. But my favorite is writing fantasy/paranormal or sci/fi works. Then I can really let my imagination roam. The other thing about most of my books, other than the romance and hot sex 😊  there’s also violence. In some more than others, not between the hero and heroine but directed toward them and they also direct it toward the villains, who more than deserve it. And my heroines stand side by side to dish it out with the hero.

I find my inspiration pretty much any and everywhere, even in my sleep. I find it in my dreams, in music, a conversation, looking up at the stars, looking into the mist or watching the ocean. I can go on but you see, everywhere.

Right now I’m working on something new that will be out in August. It’s part of an anthology this is new work and is a stand alone paranormal. The Beast Within will be part of the Creole Nights Anthology. Here’s a first look.

Excerpt from The Beast Within by LaVerne Thompson

(Coming in August)

Suddenly, her body froze in mid sway slowly she lowered her arms. Someone stood behind her. This person was different from whoever had been there before. It wasn’t like he was touching her ass or any part of her body—yet she felt him. His heat. Her heart picked up its pace, but it had nothing to do with the music but the man behind her. Oh yes, she knew it was a man, there was no mistaking the male energy wafting off him behind her. She desperately wanted to turn and see who he was. She could feel his breath on her neck. Then she began to sway again, a primal instinct moving inside her, wanting him to press his body against hers and move with her.

My daddy dearest would make anyone who looked at me sideways disappear, permanently… Click To Tweet

AFTER MIDNIGHT- City of Sin (available now)

laverne thompsonBlurb:

Tobias

I wasn’t looking for a relationship, never even crossed my radar. Then one night in a crowded room, I caught a scent that seeped into my marrow. I followed it and found the shock of a lifetime. Someone was playing frigging tricks on me. She is Vampire and I’m Were. She is forbidden to me. But I never did do rules.

Sage

I wasn’t looking for a relationship. Hell, I’d never really even had a boyfriend. My daddy dearest would make anyone who looked at me sideways disappear, permanently. Then one night in a crowded room, I heard a voice. The resonation vibrated soul deep. I could not turn away. But he’s Were and I’m of the old blood. My father’s going to kill him when he finds out a Were has claimed me.

Buy Links

Meet Laverne Thompson

Laverne ThompsonLaVerne Thompson is an award winning, best-selling, multi-published author, an avid reader and a writer of contemporary, fantasy, and sci/fi sensual romances. She loves creating worlds within our world. She also writes romantic suspense and new adult romance under the pen name Ursula Sinclair.

She is a certified chocoholic and is currently working on several projects. Some might even involve chocolate. But writing helps maintain her sanity.

Sign up for her newsletter for sneak peeks and advance info on new releases as well as a few freebies to subscribers. http://bit.ly/1hA7C9W

 

http://lavernethompson.com to learn more about her books

or Facebook to contact her, http://facebook.com/groups/lavernesnews or  https://www.facebook.com/ursulasinclairauthor

and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lavernethompson

 

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Meet Ann Everett and her Romance “Chirp”

Please join me in welcoming author Ann Everett, a fellow Diet Dr. Pepper addict.  Ann brings her love of romance and her wit to her latest release Chirp. Check out this excerpt and you will be as anxious as I was to start reading.  Enjoy!

My Questions for Ann

Where is your favorite place to write? At my desktop. Most authors I know love using their laptop, but I’ve never been able to feel comfortable with one. The only way I use mine, is to connect a regular keyboard to it!

What inspires you as an author? Just about any and everything. The book I’m working on now was inspired by an article in the monthly magazine I get from my electricity provider.

Why do you write romance and why your genre of romance? Who doesn’t love a happily-ever-after? I write several different types of romance. Contemporary, romantic mysteries, and new adult. It depends on the idea I get as to which slot my books falls into.

What are you working on next and when can we expect to see it? I’m about half-way through my next project which is a companion book to my latest release, Chirp. I hope to have it released by late 2017 or early 2018.

Ann Everett author of "Chirp"Chirp by Ann Everett

A woman hiding from her future…..

Heiress to the largest steel company in America, twenty-year-old, socially awkward Blaze Bledsoe hides out at Dessie Bishop’s farm. For the last three years, Blaze has eluded one investigator after another, but just when she thinks she’s safe, a PI closes in. Her luck is about to run out in more ways than one.

A man running from his past….

Rance Keller, a tough, hard-living ex-con, fresh out of prison for a crime he didn’t commit, arrives to claim the house his grandmother left him. Finding a strange girl living there, his plans for a solitary life take a turn. Her lack of modesty, no filter, and word of the day fetish baffles him, but those big green eyes and sweet mouth have him losing sleep.

Welcome to Bluebird, Texas

Where two damaged people with secrets, discover trust can lead to passion.

Excerpt from Chirp

Blaze

Blaze reached room three and referred to the next list: Blue eye shadow. Black mascara. Mauve lip gloss. Enhance beauty mark at corner of mouth.

Only thirty-nine years old, Ginny Elliott had met her demise when her biker boyfriend failed to negotiate a turn. Thank goodness she’d worn a helmet. Camouflaging a mangled face presented a challenge. Being tossed ten feet into the air before landing on hard pavement had proved too much for the rest of her bones.

Ginny was dressed in a leather jacket and low-cut tank, her voluptuous breasts swelling over the top. Nothing like formaldehyde to pump up a woman’s upper thorax. Blaze tugged at her own T-shirt, conscious of the small boobs she’d been blessed with. Removing the pencil from behind her ear, she scratched out part of the note, and made changes.

Proper shading and contouring made women appear pounds lighter and years younger. Once Blaze had finished, Ginny looked like a Harley Harlot. Blaze always regretted the client couldn’t witness the magic. She jotted another message, tucked it into Motorcycle Momma’s pocket, and zipped it. “Give this to Larkin Montgomery. You’ll recognize her because we look alike.” With only a few pictures for comparison, she wasn’t sure about that. The older she got, the less she remembered about her mother.

With her supplies back in place, Blaze peeked into the hallway. The coast appeared clear. No Cam waiting to walk her out. Maybe she’d finally been rude enough for him to get the message.

Outside, a sharp February breeze cut at her face, but spring hid right around the corner. Almost time to break up the garden spot. Even though she liked living alone, she missed Dessie. The sweet woman had left the place to her only grandson, but Blaze would never meet him.

Since he was serving a fifteen year prison sentence. She’d be long gone by the time he showed up.

Rance

Rance stepped outside and followed the aroma of bacon to Bubba’s Diner. Just what he needed after going heels to Jesus all night. He removed his last cigarette and tossed the package into the blue trash barrel at the corner of the building. Really should give up the bad habit, and he would. Later.

It occurred to him, the tag-team event with the BFFs, had fulfilled his goal. No more pressure. With an early start and few stops, he could make it to Bluebird in one day. Grab a quick breakfast. Crank up the Harley. Hit the road. Couldn’t wait to see the place again. Enjoy the seclusion and relax in his grandmother’s old claw-foot tub. That’s what he loved about the little country town.

Everything remained the same. Never any surprises.

Find Ann’s books at http://www.amazon.com/author/ann.everett 

Meet Ann Everett

Award winning and Amazon Best-Selling author, Ann Everett embraces her small town upbringing and thinks Texans are some of the funniest people on earth. When speaking at conferences and to writing groups, businesses, book clubs, and non-profit organizations, she incorporates her special brand of wit, making her programs on marketing, self-publishing, and the benefits of laughter, informative and fun.

A top reviewer on thenextbigwriter.com, she lives on a small lake in Northeast Texas where she writes, bakes, and fights her addiction to Diet Dr. Pepper.

  • She’s been married to her high school sweetheart.
  • She loves shopping at thrift stores.
  • She doesn’t remember her first kiss.
  • She hates talking on the telephone.
  • A really sharp pencil makes her happy.
  • She secretly wants to get a tattoo.
  • Elected as a charter member of National Honor Society in high school remains one of her biggest surprises.
  • She’s thankful wrinkles aren’t painful.
  • She sucks at math.

 

 

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Brand New! “Oh Danny Boy” by Josie Riviera

Please join me in welcoming Josie Riviera and her brand new book “Oh Danny Boy”. Josie is a USA Today Bestselling author of sweet romances that promise a great read. “Oh Danny Boy” promises not to disappoint. I think this is where the craic is!

A Little Irish from Josie

A favorite phrase in Ireland is “What’s the craic?” which, loosely translated, means “What’s happening?” or “Where’s the fun?”

The Irish people are a people of contradictions. They love to have a good time, they love to laugh, and they love people who make them laugh. If you don’t have a sense of humor in Ireland, you’ve committed a grave offense, and one not easily forgiven.

Most Irish are uncomfortable accepting a compliment, However, the mere hint of an insult might result in a brawl. On the other hand, they will avoid confrontation.

Women may rebuff a compliment by belittling the object complimented as in saying, “What, this old rag?” and draw attention instead to their perceived failing–hair that’s too curly, skinny legs, etc.

So, if you want to laugh, head to Ireland. Feel free to lavish praise, regardless of the rebuff you’ll likely receive. And don’t forget to ask, “What’s the craic?”

Oh Danny Boy  

This pot of gold could hold more than they bargained for…

Grand. Just grand. Clara Donovan’s failure to keep her brother from going off the rails—again—is a public spectacle. Including a handsome stranger who puts down his guitar case to help her talk Seamus down from Farthing’s tallest bridge.

Everything about Danny Brady reminds Clara how many times she swore she’ll never again be that pathetic, weak woman who got taken in by a good-looking man. Especially when, the next day, she walks into a new coffee shop in her little Irish town and discovers Danny’s secret.

Danny didn’t lie—technically—about his coffee shop chain. He’s just tired of women going after him for his wealth. Clara is a graceful, fiercely loyal, non-Irish Irish damsel in distress, a combination that tugs at his heart. A heart that’s spent its share of time in pieces.

Danny has never hesitated to go after what he wants, but melting Clara’s defenses will take more than hot tea and charm. He’ll have to prove he’s made of stronger stuff—even when her past threatens to tear her carefully reconstructed world to shreds.

Available from Amazon: http://a.co/cQGXJrK

Excerpt from “Oh Danny Boy” by Josie Riviera

CHAPTER ONE

“Seamus, don’t jump!” Clara Donovan heard her own cries, the shouts resounding through the misty night air. She raced across the sidewalk toward Farthing Bridge, her gaze riveted on a horror she didn’t want to believe. Her older brother Seamus sat on the edge of a tall bridge with his head slumped in his hands, a bottle of whiskey beside him. The arched stone bridge spanned the River Farthing, connecting the town to a once-popular marketplace.

No. It couldn’t be. Her breath burned in her chest as she took in gulps of dampness and drizzle. Don’t stop. Run faster.

When she reached the bridge, she elbowed through a group of late-night revelers. Several pointed up at Seamus. “He’s off the rails!” someone shouted.

Her brother seemed unaware of the gathering crowd. He swung his legs back and forth like an underwound metronome and stared into the ice-cold river below.

She shook off the image of him on her living room floor several days earlier. He’d been passed out drunk. Should she have phoned a treatment center? No. She could fix her brother’s problems. He simply needed encouragement, surrounded by his loving, supportive family.

Seamus. Gentle Seamus. Kind and fiery-haired, quick to temper, quicker to make amends. Her heart squeezed at the scruffy, dejected man he’d become since his wife had died.

Clara put her hands on her knees and took in calm, even breaths. Quickly, she assessed the corroded pedestrian catwalk leading to the top of the bridge, the skull and crossbones sign that warned Danger.

She stared upward at her sweet brother. “Dear saints in heaven, Seamus,” she whispered. “You promised me that you’d never drink again.”

She stuffed her wool gloves into her jacket pockets and bent to lace her weatherproof boots tighter. There was no time to dash around the river to the street that crossed the bridge, and she certainly wouldn’t ask anyone in the crowd to lend a hand.

She yanked off the “Danger” sign and threw it to the ground. That pressing feeling in her chest, like she was running out of air, slowed her movements. Dragging in another breath, she grasped the slippery wet handrails and stepped onto the bottom rung of the catwalk.

“Missus, are you trained for this?” a man from the crowd inquired.

She glanced around. The man stood a hairsbreadth away. He was tall with piercing blue eyes and carried a guitar case. His dark brown hair had a reddish tinge and his navy wool jacket strained against his athletic form.

Meet Josie Riviera

Oh Danny Boy author Josie RivieraJosie Riviera is a USA TODAY Bestselling Author of contemporary, inspirational, and historical sweet romances that read like Hallmark movies. She lives in the Charlotte, NC, area with her wonderfully supportive husband. They share their home with an adorable Shih Tzu who constantly needs grooming and live in an old house forever needing renovations.

Send her an email at: josieriviera@aol.com

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An “Unexpected” Visit with Valerie Ullmer #Unexpected

Unexpected blog tour on www.madisonmichael.net

Today, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Valerie Ullmer and her new hot romance, “Unexpected”. Valerie is a Denver native and fellow coffee lover. What is it about coffee and writing? I asked Valerie a few questions to help you get to know her a bit better.

A Little about the Author

Where is your favorite place to write? I have a desk near the window in my living room where I have to work every day. If I don’t have a set schedule, I would never write, so my desk gives me a spot that I can see and know that I have to get to work.

What inspires you as an author? It’s an answer that I have seen from other authors. Everything. In my latest book, the idea came to me when I heard that news that the new administration wanted to overturn gay marriage. After all this time, some people can’t stand the fact that two people of the same sex can fall in love. I wanted to write a book where two men fall in love, despite obstacles and other’s opinions.

Why do you write romance and why your genre of romance? I have loved romance books since I picked my first one up in high school. There are rules to romance and the greatest one is that they have to end in a happily ever after. And because I read mostly romance, when I started writing, it was only natural that I wrote romance as well. I write contemporary and paranormal erotic romance because most of my ideas (and there are a lot) fall into those categories.

What are you working on next and when can we expect to see it? My next book is a paranormal romance. Xander (A Dark Assassins Novel Book Three) releasing on July 25th, 2017.

 Unexpected (A Unexpected Novel Book One)

Unexpected byValerie UllmerGenre: Contemporary M/M Romance 

BLURB

A chance meeting will change their lives forever…

From the moment he entered the dark taproom, Caleb Hunt found himself drawn to the handsome man who sat alone at the end of the bar, away from the crowd. His interest in the dark-haired, muscled adonis took him by surprise, not remembering when he’d felt such hunger from a simple glimpse. Unable to stay away, he quickly found an open seat next to him and slid into it. When Ronan turned his ice-blue eyes to Caleb and introduced himself, his warm hand sent shivers of desire through his body and he was enthralled.

Ronan Scott’s boring Friday night had taken a turn for the better when Caleb took the seat next to him. Over the next few hours, he found Caleb easy to talk to and at the same time, he found that he couldn’t tear his gaze away from the beautiful man. Caleb captured his attention in a way that no other had for as long as he could remember. Taking a chance, he leaned forward and captured Caleb’s lips with his. And with the simple kiss, Ronan understood that Caleb would become an essential part of his life.

As Ronan and Caleb explore their new relationship and integrate their lives together, they realize that not everything will be so seamless…

 

BUY LINKS

 

EXCERPT

“Are you here alone?”

Caleb had to bite the inside of his lip in order not to moan out loud at the sexy, deep voice. Remembering the question, he shook his head and pointed toward Dylan and Garrett across the room. Dylan, of course, had a woman on his lap and was tracing a finger down her neck, before he leaned toward her and his mouth followed the same trail.

Garrett was looking down at his phone. The shy woman he’d been talking to had disappeared, much to Caleb’s disappointment, and another was trying, unsuccessfully, to get his attention. She looked drunk and very loud by the way he flinched every time she spoke.

“Dylan, the one on the right with a woman on his lap, is the biggest flirt in the world. He’s never serious about any woman he takes home. Garrett is his best friend, the complete opposite of Dylan, but he’s loyal.”

The man laughed and Caleb couldn’t help the lift of his lips at the sound. It was deep, rich, and addictive. But when the man turned his ice-blue eyes on him, something unidentifiable swelled in his chest. He could sense that he should speak, to keep this gorgeous man talking for as long as possible. “Are you here alone?”

Smart, Caleb. Just parrot the same question back.

The man smiled before he nodded over to his group of friends. Some were flirting, but others were enjoying the company of their friends on a Friday night.

“The ginger is Hawk; he’s a divorce lawyer who is handling Ryan’s divorce. That’s why they’re hunched over their beers. Ryan’s wife apparently hadn’t been faithful during their entire four-year marriage, and he found out when he came home early from a business trip. Jack is the one who is flirting with the group of women; he’s like Dylan in that way, never serious. He’s a CEO of a tech company and he could have any woman with his looks and the power he exudes, but he’s never been in a serious relationship. Sam is my second-in-command, the one who looks faintly sick, because Adam is a forensic scientist who loves talking about his work.”

Caleb found himself smiling at the group of friends. When he glanced at the man, who had turned back to Caleb after pointing out his friends, he snagged Caleb’s gaze. “So, do you have a girlfriend at home?”

“No. I can’t remember the last time I had a date, much less a successful one. You?”

Caleb breathed a sigh of relief when he shook his head.

“I’m Ronan Scott.” He held his hand out.

Shit, even the man’s name is sexy.

He had to clear his throat before he reached out and grasped Ronan’s large, warm hand in his. “Caleb Hunt.”

Something inside Caleb warmed in increments until fireworks exploded behind his skin, all from a simple touch.

Valerie’s Bio

Valerie writes paranormal and contemporary romances with strong alpha males and brilliant, beautiful heroines. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her wonderfully supportive husband and their funny and wise black lab. She’s addicted to coffee, crime shows, and reading and writing character driven romances.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

FACEBOOK ~ TWITTER ~ PINTEREST ~ INSTAGRAM ~ GOODREADS ~ AMAZON

 

 

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Need a Great Summer Read? “Any Duchess Will Do”

In I love vacations, don’t you? I love the change of scenery and schedule despite the fact that I control my own schedule all year long. Oh yeah, I love the chance to catch up on my reading too. In my humble opinion, airplanes and trains are perfect for reading. Guest rooms are too.

I just returned from almost a week of vacation, staying with friends in Virginia and North Carolina. I saw the sights, visited with my besties, and attended an awesome party. The days were very full as was my belly. Seeing friends always boils down to the meals: breakfast with Ann, lunch with Sarella, dinner with Brenda. Brenda introduced me to fried Oreo’s for which I will be eternally grateful. (She was a fabulous host ).

I managed to spend some time catching up with a little work on my book, and read a romance or two. In fact, I had a little trouble putting one down, sinking under the covers on starry Virginia nights reading when I should have been sleeping. I discovered a new author and I couldn’t stop reading her book. I recommend it and want to share a bit of it with you.

Any Duchess Will Do

tessa Dare Any Duchess Will DoThe book is “Any Duchess Will Do” by USA Today Bestselling author Tessa Dare. I borrowed my sister’s Kindle to read something else for our book club but I read this instead. I am so glad I did.

Any Duchess Will Do is part of the Spindle Cove Series. Spindle Cove is a fictitious seaside village haunted by hopeless spinsters, who are in fact, anything but. Instead, they are smart and resourceful women. I was not aware until several capable characters from Spindle Cove arrived late in the book that this was a series, but it quickly became obvious that each of these women was spunky, bright and wonderfully quirky. So is the heroine in “Any Duchess Will Do.”

Redheaded barmaid, Pauline, is plucked from Spindle Cove as the unlucky pawn in a game between a determined Duke and his equally tenacious mother. Unfortunately for Pauline, mother and son want completely different results from her, and so the fun begins. The Duchess vows to turn Pauline into Duchess material in 7 days so that her son will marry the girl. The Duke promises Pauline a veritable fortune to fail at her task. We all know where this is leading, but Tessa Dare takes us there in such a delightful and fresh way.

The plot seems ludicrous as I describe it and yet it works – completely. From the first chapter to the last, these characters are rich, funny and believable. The writing is quick and clever and the sex is hot. Regency England comes alive under the author’s pen in all its haughty stuffiness, so that Pauline –and her lack of pedigree – are a breath of fresh air.

Now it’s my turn…

This book has inspired me to get back to my own writing, but now I want to inject some humor. I couldn’t wait to try my hand at suspense in my book, Bedeviled, and I continue that path in the final book of the Beguiling Bachelor Series. My new challenge will be to marry a bit of fun with a bit of mystery. I am about 50 percent done so stay tuned for “Besotted” later in 2017 to see if Tessa Dare’s influence is a success.

In the meantime, go buy Dare’s book, and I suspect you will want to read the entire Spindle Cove Series.

The Prior Books in the Spindle Cove Series:

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Where Rainbows End – Anne Marie Brear’s latest Pot of Gold

annemarie brear's where rainbows endPlease join me in welcoming AnneMarie Brear, a fellow chocoholic and writer of historical romance. Anne Marie get’s both her love of history and the settings for her novels from a first hand exploration of England, where she grew up and New South Wales, where she has lived. I feel certain you will enjoy her sweet, historical romance, Where Rainbows End.

Where Rainbows End

Blurb

“I’m not a man, but that won’t stop me. Just you wait and see.”

It’s 1850 and the Noble family have arrived in Australia to start a new life after scandal drove them from their native England. Headstrong Pippa Noble is determined to reclaim their honour by making her father’s plans for a successful stud farm a reality.

Pippa is immediately spellbound by the untamed outback landscape, although she learns the hard way about the unforgiving nature of the bush – sometimes with devastating consequences. When circumstance leads to Pippa tending the new farm alone, it is the steadfast friendship of neighbouring country estate owner Gil Ashford-Smith that helps her through.

Then an unexpected visitor from England arrives, putting Pippa’s dreams in jeopardy. But she refuses to let go. She will hold onto her family’s land and make her mark, even if it means losing everything else …

Excerpt:

Pippa rode until she coughed and her eyes smarted. The roar of the fire drowned all other sound. Smokey baulked at every movement as his terror mounted.

Pippa called for her father again and again. She waited for a few minutes, willing him to burst through the dense smoke. When it became so thick she couldn’t breathe, she wheeled Smokey back the way they’d come. With every yard they took, her sense of unease grew. Then she saw it. A torn scrap of material caught on a branch. Wrenching it free, she studied it. It was the same brown colour as her father’s tweed jacket.

Scrambling off Smokey, Pippa screamed for her father to answer her. She ran into the scrub, stumbling in haste, pulling Smokey by the reins behind her. The horse, frightened, pulled back, throwing up his head and trying to pull the reins free from her grasp. ‘No, no! Smokey. Calm down!’ But the horse half reared, snatching the reins from her hands and once free bolted away.

Distraught at losing the horse, she turned in a circle, looking through the white gloom. ‘Father! Can you hear me? Where are you?’

She darted to the right, peering around large boulders and tree trunks before running to the left where the ground steeply sloped away. She skidded down a few yards, searching the landscape for any sign of him. Her foot dislodged a rock and she tripped, landing on her knees.

‘Father!’ For a moment she knelt on the ground, exhausted. Despair waited to claim her, but she refused to give up. With a frustrated sigh, she stood and wearily wiped a hand over her eyes. Where was he?

A flock of white cockatoos screeched above the trees. The sound of what seemed like thunder came again. Abruptly, a kangaroo bounded down the slope, nearly crashing into her before it jumped to the right and away. Then another came thumping over the top and down beside her, and then another. It hadn’t been thunder at all, but hundreds of kangaroos fleeing. An opossum scuttled by, followed by a large fat wombat and smaller kangaroos and wallabies. Lizards of varying sizes and the odd snake slithered past and Pippa stared in fear as a huge goanna charged its way over a boulder and skimmed past her skirts.

Pippa stared at the exodus of animals and birds all headed east. From the west she heard the splintering of wood, followed by a loud whooshing sound. The fine hair on the back of her neck rose.

The fire was close.

Rushing back to the track, she caught her skirts on a bush and paused to unhook them. The snap and crackle grew louder. Straightening, she tore her skirts free and reached the top only to stop and stare at the small circle of orange flames licking the dry grass a few feet from her. Ash and embers floated in the air like snow; where they landed, they started spot fires.

She looked for Smokey, only he had gone. Fear closed her throat.

Lifting her skirts high, she ran down the track, heading for the entrance down into the valley. Thick smoke blanketed the countryside and crept into her lungs, slowing her down and making her cough. The roar of the fire urged her to keep going. A stiff, hot wind thrashed at the treetops, swirling the ash and embers about her head. The air seemed sucked dry and, apart from the crackle of flames, the bush was eerily quiet.

Pippa ran, the sound of her laboured breathing noisy in her ears. Her eyes smarted and streamed, while her lungs felt as though every breath would be her last. She tried to ignore the encroaching danger and concentrate on getting into the valley. She had to outrun it.

Buy links:

 

Meet AnneMarie Brear

Meet AnneMarie BrearAustralian born AnneMarie Brear writes historical novels and modern romances. Her passions, apart from writing, are reading, researching, genealogy, roaming historical sites, buying books and gardening. She is an author of historical women’s fiction, contemporary romance and several short stories and is currently living in England.
AnneMarie Brear on the web:

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5 Guaranteed Ways to Fail at Blogging

blog failureIt’s Thursday and I need content – again. I am not alone in getting the jitters when Thursday comes around. Other bloggers all over the world feel the same way every week, every month or even every day. Content, new original content is hard to write. It’s especially hard to write when one is also busy writing the last novel in The Beguiling Bachelor series.

Fortunately for me, I work for myself, so I set my own deadlines. No nasty publisher is breathing down my neck demanding the latest chapters. But as I am my own publisher, when I wear my publishing hat, the pressure is on. I want to finish my novel and start another. I have a head full of  ideas I want to share. Just not blog ideas.

Blogging is hard work. You may think that hundreds of people just wake up and decide to blog and poof! Success. Alas, for them, and for me as their fellow blogger, there are tough lessons to learn on the way to that magical poof. If you skip these lessons, you are guaranteed to fail. Trust me on this one. Learn from my mistakes.

If you skip these lessons, you are guaranteed to fail. Trust me on this one. Learn from my… Click To Tweet

Content is King

As a reader,  you only want to read interesting stories told well. That is true when you select books, and it’s equally true when you read blogs. Finding interesting stories to tell week after week is a challenge for the best of writers, and making it tougher is the challenge of putting a new spin on a topic that has already been covered.

Some fiction writers simply publish excerpts from their novels. Maybe I should do that more, maybe not. Some publish posts similar to mine on Tuesdays, promoting other authors. I really enjoy doing my Tuesday blog because I get to meet other authors and help them reach a new audience. Also, romance readers are serious readers; when they read, they read everything they can get their hands on by authors they like. Sharing new books allows me to provide a service for my readers.

I want to connect with my readers to share some of myself – what I like, what I do, my ups and my downs. That means new content, usually weekly, rain or shine. This week, for example, I am traveling, but my blog does not get a vacation. Content, content, content. It is a blogger’s biggest challenge. Feel free to help me out and share your ideas for future posts.

If Content is King, Traffic is Queen

If a blogger is not complaining about what to write, then they are complaining that no one is reading their content. Bloggers who want to derive income from their blogs need to get enough traffic to be worth an advertiser’s dollars. Traffic is the differentiator. Like people seeking Twitter followers or likes and shares on Facebook, bloggers look for viral content, something that makes people sit up and listen, share and discuss.

How to drive traffic? Give something away? Increase the number of days you blog?. Of course, you manage your search engine optimization so you rank higher on Google and Bing. You write snazzy headlines. You continually write great content.

Starting to see a pattern here? These are all intertwined. Miss the mark on one, you miss the mark across the board, and then you do the work week after week but no one reads it. So sad.

SEO can drive a Person to Drink

SEO or search engine optimization may be the death of me. I use a wonderful tool, Yoast, to score me on my efforts. If I do well, Yoast gives me a green light. If not, a series of little red dots greets me

I can write a blog in half the time it takes me to get that stupid green light from Yoast.

I can only jump through so many hoops to keep the search engine happy and publish the post I wrote. Still, traffic is queen and if Google cannot find me, you cannot read me. So I write alt-text for my photos, even though I have no idea what it is or what it does. I know this: If I do it right I get a green light and if not, more red. I am completely trainable on this – like Pavlov’s dogs.

Writing a Blog Headline is Heady Stuff

I studied Journalism,, after classes all day I would run to the newspaper office where was the night editor. I was there when Patty Hearst was kidnapped, and I felt very superior knowing about it before everyone else.

As night editor, I picked the stories that ran. I decided on the photos and their size. And I wrote headlines. I wrote hundreds of headlines. I made certain that my headlines conveyed that who, what, where, when and how. I was good at it.
Fast forward 50 years…SEO and headlines? What is SEO again? Teaser headlines? Hashtag or no Hashtag?  Optimized headlines? Did you know that Coschedule has a headline optimizing tool? I find it addictive to test my headlines there each week. The one at the top of this post garnered a very strong 76, but I have yet to write one that scored above 85.

Blogging headlines don’t follow the rules I learned all those years ago. They require power words – win, lose, love or today! They require teasers that appeal to your hopes or threaten your fears. Many of the best ones begin with a number or ask a question. Creating urgency is really good, too. One wonderful expert on blogging, Jon Morrow, CEO of Smartblogger has provided a cheat sheet of headline hacks that allows you to fill in the blanks and be pretty much guaranteed success.

I use it whenever I can, or the analyzer. I learned my lesson on this one.

Get a Professional Web Designer

This has been the hardest lesson for me. Not because I did not understand I needed a designer, but because I have been unable to afford one. I have mooched time and energy from dear friends, but because they are dear friends, I can only mooch so much. And learning on the job means trial and error, frustration and airing a lot of dirty laundry.

Why dirty laundry? Every time I try something new on my website, all of you see it, until I replace with my next effort. There have been some really messy efforts too. My favorite has to be the gigantic sign up or opt-in boxes. I had some that were 10 times bigger than I planned. I have removed most of them for now.

Themes, was another area of web design experiments. A theme is a template for a website, some are easier to work with then others. Most are difficult for me. Or how about plug-ins and widgets? Not sure what those are? Me either, but it doesn’t stop me from adding them. I am a walking web-hazard. It doesn’t help that I am not certain how I want my website to look. That might have been a good place to start.

Just today, I changed my “About Madison Michael” page. I changed the text, moved things around and added a dreaded opt-in box. I haven’t tested it yet to see if the signup actually works. I am saving that mistake for another day.

Let me know what changes you would make in the comments below.

 

Want to read more about highly successful blogs?

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Love at First Fight – Meet Mary E. Thompson

Love at First FightToday, it is my pleasure to introduce to you Mary E. Thompson and her brand new contemporary romance, Love at First Fight. Mary and I share a habit of writing our novels from our living room couches, she because she has no office, me because I prefer it. But she has another odd writing spot that has given me ideas about car maintenance. So pour yourself a glass of wine, read on and meet Mary and Love at First Fight. I know you will enjoy it.

What is your favorite place to write?

Favorite makes this question tricky. I do the vast majority of my writing in my living room on the couch. I don’t have an office, so this works. If I had unlimited funds, I’d definitely have an office, but one day I’ll get my dream office.

Aside from home though, I think my favorite place to write is in the waiting room when getting my oil changed. It’s always interesting to see people trying to peek over my shoulder and see what I’m doing. They quickly look away!

What inspires you as an author?

My kids are always my number one inspiration. They are very creative and constantly sharing story ideas (which I encourage them to turn into their own books). They have a unique perspective on life and the world around us. I try to pull that into everything I do!

Why do you write romance and why your genre of romance?

I have a BS in Chemical Engineering, but I didn’t enjoy being an engineer. When I was given the opportunity to look elsewhere for a job (aka fired) I wanted to do something I would enjoy instead of something that I would tolerate for a paycheck. My husband encouraged me to write since I always loved to read. I fell in love with it.

I chose to write contemporary romance because it’s what I love. I can’t give you a better answer than that. I spent too many years doing something I didn’t love. It was time for me to love my work. Contemporary speaks to me. And I answer!

What are you working on next and when can we expect to see it?

My next release will be July 11. Stocky & Sumptuous is book twelve in my Big & Beautiful series. I’m alternating between the two different series all year. The next Raise A Glass book, Everything She Never Wanted, will be out August 22.

INTRODUCING LOVE AT FIRST FIGHT

She has a secret…

Andie Young has always been good at hiding who she really is. Her emotions and truths have stayed buried beneath the sexy clothes, makeup, and endless amber waves that are her signature look. She had to do something to get attention. Between her three brothers and five cousins, she grew up feeling like the invisible one. So she changed that.

He’s loved her forever…

Cody Powell has been attracted to Andie since the summer she turned seventeen. Off limits back then, and involved with one guy or another since, Cody has kept his adoration secret from her. He spent fifteen years avoiding Andie, and stammering like a fool when he was face to face with her.

Cody spends weeks fixing up her house and falling harder for her with each passing day. He knows she’d never be interested in a country boy like him, but seeing her dating other guys has finally taken its toll. Cody doesn’t think he can handle it any longer.

They both want someone to share their lives with…

Is she strong enough to take a chance with Cody? Or will he finish her house and leave before she gets the chance to tell him how she feels?

EXCERPT

Cody followed her to the door and inside. She practically skipped across the living room floor. All Cody saw was work. The rest of the downstairs was the next project. Refinishing the floors. Painting the walls and trim. He mentally pieced together how he was going to relocate the furniture so he could do it all.

“It’s gorgeous, Cody,” Kristen said as he entered the kitchen. “Andie said it wasn’t supposed to be like this?”

Cody liked Kristen. She was flashy in a casual way. Where Andie looked like she’d be high-maintenance, Kristen looked like she was as low-maintenance as a woman could get. Her dark hair hit her shoulders, just long enough that she wore it tied up most days. Her skin was free of makeup, which suited her torn jeans and wine colored top. He leaned down to kiss her cheek, a move that was natural to him, but he felt the room change.

When he looked back to Andie, he knew why.

Crossed arms. Taut shoulders. Angry glare.

“Why did you change it all?” Kristen asked, dragging Cody’s eyes from Andie.

“Andie said none of what I had was what you guys picked out. I never thought Pauline would tell me to redo the house in a way that you guys would hate. I should have checked with you.”

Kristen shrugged. “I’m not picky. Really, as little as I’m here most of the time, it doesn’t matter to me. Andie’s the one who dominates the kitchen. This is perfect for her.”

Cody looked over at Andie, managing to catch her eyes before he said, “I wanted her to be happy.”

Her mouth parted on a gasp. Hands fell to her sides. Blue eyes melted to liquid pools of desire.

“Thank you.”

Cody nodded. He knew she didn’t understand just how much he meant those words. Just how badly he wanted her to be happy. How many times he thought about her happiness and wished she could have everything she desired.

In that moment, she looked like he was everything she desired.

 

Meet Mary E. Thompson

Mary E. Thompson grew up loving to read, like a good little girl. Many nights she would fall asleep with the flashlight still turned on as she hid under the covers trying to finish the last few pages of a book. As an adult, the light from her eReader means she doesn’t need a flashlight, but she still stays up way too late to finish a book.

When Mary’s not reading, she’s playing with her two kids or living out her own real life romance novel with her hubby. She has a weakness for chocolate, especially when it’s paired with peanut butter, and has been known to have a bad day just because there’s no chocolate in the house. Unless there’s wine. Then everything is okay.

Mary grew up in Buffalo, New York and swears she’s the only local to never ski or snowboard. Soccer was always her sport, with a couple adventures white water rafting and skydiving to keep things interesting. Mary moved to South Carolina for college but missed Buffalo every day. Yeah, she thinks she’s crazy, too. She somehow convinced her South Carolina born and bred hubby to return to Buffalo to raise their kids and live out their lives. He’s still not sure what he was thinking.

Visit me online!

  • Website http://maryethompson.com
  • Blog http://maryethompson.com/blog
  • Twitter http://twitter.com/authormet
  • Facebook http://facebook.com/authormaryethompson
  • Pinterest http://pinterest.com/metdaisy7
  • Goodreads http://goodreads.com/maryethompson
  • Amazon Author Page http://amazon.com/author/maryethompson
  • Newsletter http://maryethompson.com/fiction-free/
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A Vacation Discovery: Romance Novels

It is with great pleasure, that I introduce today’s guest blogger, Sandra Berman. Sandy and I have known each other forever. We met during our corporate days over a box of Frango Mints, a Chicago delicacy that you can buy at Macy’s. If you love chocolate, you owe yourself a box. Buy them now! Anyway, when I saw Sandy and the chocolate I knew she was my kind of woman, and that we shared a love of Chicago and chocolate. Fast forward 30 years and we still share those loves and many more, including romance novels.

A New Zealand Discovery

discover romance novelsI love a good story. Give me a well written book with interesting characters and a nice sense of place and I am a happy camper. I love to read, and I usually read pretty quickly. So in 2013, when I was heading to New Zealand for 6 weeks, I knew I needed something substantial to read. I loaded a long book on my iPad – over 800 pages, set in New Zealand in the 1800s and was ready to go – or so I thought.

The book was ‘literature’, not my usual fare of mysteries or sci-fi. There were 12 major characters and a plot that moved around in time. It was one of those books where it would have been nice to go back to the list of characters at the start of the book. A printed book, that is! But I persevered, and finished the book with about 2 weeks still left in my trip.

Luckily for me, my Amazon recommendations were busy while I was reading, and they came up with “Just This Once” (Escape to New Zealand Book One). The summary sounded great – a woman goes to NZ for vacation, meets a guy, has a good time. Why not? I downloaded the book and started to read.

The story was fun, it was about the place I was visiting and had interesting characters and was well written. Then Hannah and Drew, the main characters, had steamy sex – in New Zealand. Not bad! They had a whirlwind relationship, had a misunderstanding that took them apart, and eventually ended up together. I really didn’t know this was the standard construction of every romance novel – but I did know why my friend Maddy had been reading romance novels all these years!

Discovering a new Genre

Sandy and I on vacation 2014.

I read more in the series, about different hot rugby players that find the girl, lose the girl and find the girl again. Oh, and had hot sex in between. Fast forward a few years, and my dear friend has written her first romance novel, “Bedazzled“.  I read it and loved it – it is well written, has nice descriptions of Chicago and characters I like reading about.

I’m still reading lots of mysteries and sci-fi, but John Scalzi can only write so many books in a year. Plus, while the world has become a little more chaotic, I like the lure of the romance novel. It’s nice to read something fun with a happy ending.

I have started exploring the romance section at my local library – at first I was a little tenuous (maybe embarrassed?) and then I gained more confidence. I am learning there are a wide range of romance novels: I picked one up where I think the person turned into a wolf – not for me. But the beauty of the library is I can take it back and try something different.

There seem to be a lot of historical romances where someone ends up in a different time, or there are dukes and earls involved – not sure those are for me either. But I’ve found a series set around a vet clinic, and a baseball team, and they are relaxing and fun.

And isn’t that what matters?

How did you discover romance?

How did you discover romance novels? Won’t you share your story in the comments below?

YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY:

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Warriors, Vampires and Romance by Kryssie Fortune

By Kryssie Fortune

Spartan Warriors 101

claimed by the vampire300 Spartan warriors held back the Persian hordes at Thermopylae.

We still remember them 7000 years later, but what made them so special? Their upbringing, of course.

At seven-years-old, Spartan boys were torn from their family and sent to the agoge—aka the harshest boy training academy ever. There, they were divided into herds or packs and lived under the care of a boy-herder. Life was harsh, comfortless, and cold. Family was a thing of the past. Loyalty belonged to the pack now. Otherwise, they wouldn’t survive.

At ten, the boys learned reading, writing, and dancing. Not ballet! Not ballroom. More movement with weapons so their attack moves became ingrained and instinctive.

Turning twelve deepened their misery. They went barefoot to toughen their feet, and their rations were cut to starvation level. Their hair was cut short and their clothes replaced with a single red cloak. Survival meant stealing food and clothing. The penalty for being caught, not for stealing, was a beating so severe some didn’t survive. Worse, the boys became the bed mate of a seasoned warrior. No choice. No refusal. No chance.

“Institutionalised pederasty,” Plutarch, an ancient Greek scholar, called it.

After thirteen years of brutality and torment, the could face anything the enemy threw at them. After all, their own society had already put them through hell.

Why my interest in Sparta?

Because one of the heroes in my book, Claimed by the Vampire, Seduced by the Werewolf is one. Well, he was until he turned vampire. In the twenty-first century, he finds the one woman who makes him whole. His destined bride. Only how can he claim her when his demons want him dead?

CLAIMED BY THE VAMPIRE, SEDUCED BY THE WEREWOLF

Blurb

After seven centuries, Elias, a former Spartan turned vampire, finds his eternal bride.

Seth, Elias’s werewolf half-brother, scents his mate.

Vampire and werewolf loathe each other. The only thing they agree on is that Tempest is their mate–and they’re not sharing.

A prophecy will force Tempest, a twenty-first-century witch, to choose between them. As the half-brothers vie to win her heart, they teach her about spanking, the way pain heightens pleasure, and the joy of multiple orgasms.

A vampire can’t survive without his fated bride. A werewolf dies if he loses his mate. Their future rests in Tempest’s hands. Which one will she choose?

  • Note: While loosely linked to the Scattered Siblingsseries, this book may be read as a standalone story 

Buy links

Loose id        Amazon USA           Amazon UK              Kobo            Barnes and Noble

She’d never felt so alive—and excluding last night—so desperate for sex. @kryssiefortune Click To Tweet

Excerpt

Accepting his offer of coffee had been stupid. She knew that now. Eyes closed, she tried to picture Elias. Major fail. Her confused emotions showed Seth cradling her in his arms. She shouldn’t lust after him, not with Elias waiting for her at home.

Seth’s delicious scent—all fast-flowing rivers overlaid with the scent of ripening corn—pulled her in like a lure. His solid muscles made her want to run her hand down his torso. She loved his dimpled smile and kept stealing glances at his tempting lips. Part of her wanted to taste him right back. Damn it, I’m not a sleep-around kind of girl. With Seth, her wicked intentions punched a hole in her good-girl persona.

Determined to resist him, she shoved at his shoulder. Undeterred, he lowered his head toward hers. She ran her tongue over her lips and puckered up for him. Surely one kiss—one tiny taste—won’t hurt. Leaning toward him, she buried her hands in his curls and tugged him closer. He smiled as he moved in for his kiss, a butterfly caress that whetted her appetite and made her greedy for more. Kissing Seth seemed sensual and abandoned, a taste of forbidden fruit she couldn’t resist. Didn’t want to, really. One gentle sweep of his tongue over the seam of her lips, and she opened for him, inviting him into the damp heat of her mouth. Another moan escaped her, soft, low, and desperate. She needed him inside her, screwing her hard.

Pulling back, he cupped her cheek and gazed down at her face. His intensity, his need, and his determination to claim her showed in his eyes. She’d never felt so alive—and excluding last night—so desperate for sex.

As if in slow motion, he lowered his lips back to hers, plundering her mouth for kisses the way a pirate did treasure, and slid one arm beneath her thighs. He rose to his feet and sat her, legs open, on the table. She supported herself by putting her hands behind her as her legs dangled over the edge.

Seth shoved her skirt up her thighs, stood between her legs, and untied the bow on her blouse. The unadulterated joy in his gaze made her think of a little boy unwrapping a long-awaited Christmas present.

Thank the Goddess I’m wearing my raciest bra and panties. Her pulse rate rocketed as Seth kissed his way down her neck and ran his tongue over her breasts. It felt raspy and rough over her skin.

A needy shiver ran down her spine as he slid her blouse from her shoulders and unfastened her bra. She sat with her skirt pulled over her thighs and her torso bared for Seth’s delight. Forgetting everything except the deliciously sinful man who held her with reverent intent, she curled her arms around his neck. He’d protected her in the parking garage, comforted her, and now his lips dominated her into sweet submission. Head spinning, she clutched at his shoulders. Her pussy filled with her intimate juices, and her nipples stood like scarlet beads atop her generous breasts.

“More,” she gasped. “I need more. Make it hurt.”

Meet Kryssie Fortune

Meet Kryssie FortuneKryssie Fortune writes the sort of hot sexy books she loves to read. If she can sneak a dragon into her paranormal books she will. Her paranormal heroes are muscular werewolves, arrogant Fae, or BDSM loving dragons.

Kryssie likes her contemporary heroes ex-military and dominant. Her heroines are kick ass females who can hold their own against whatever life – or Kryssie – throws at them.

Kryssie’s pet hates are unhappy endings, and a series that end on a cliff hanger.
Her books are all stand alone even when part of series. Plot always comes before sex, but when her heroines and heroes get together, the sex is explosive and explicit. One review called it downright sensual.

Media Links

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