Sara Daniel Romance Author: April 2013

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday Toolbox - Think You Want to Write Paranormal?

Guest Post by Clarissa Johal

People often ask me how I began writing in the genre of paranormal. I’m not brooding or scary or running off to join the latest séance, which I think is what they expect. And my silly sense of humor oftentimes gets me into trouble, especially with my two daughters.

The topic of paranormal has always interested me because I moved around so much as a kid. It seemed we were always living in an older place and with those older places, came a ghost or two. Now, before you chuckle and roll your eyes (or not) let me tell you, I walk the line between skeptic and 100% believer. On the surface, I may be rolling my eyes with you, but inside, I believe in a plethora of things I won’t even begin to discuss until I’ve known someone a very long time. I know what I’ve experienced, and I know what my rational mind tells me. Believe me, there’s a lot of arguing in my head over those two things. We are a collection of what we’ve experienced in our lifetime, and since I’m as old as the hills, I’ve experienced plenty.

When I was 10-years-old, we moved to an island and lived for several months in a 30-year-old house. I’m an insomniac and have been since I was a kid. Consequently, being awake while the rest of my family slept was nothing new, though my mom would get quite irritated because I would roam the house at night and wake her up. One evening, and after hours of tossing and turning, I decided to stroll. While I sat on the couch trying to figure out what to do with myself, I heard singing in my ear. It was as if a woman was sitting right next to me singing, “Time in a Bottle.” I liked the song, it was popular at the time (and yes, that dates me) but I didn’t know the words. At that point, I did what any kid would do if they weren’t compelled to run away screaming, I politely sat and listened until she finished. Afterwards, I went back to bed and proceeded to have the worst nightmare. I dreamt that I walked into our bathroom and found a naked, young woman wrapped up in a shower curtain in our bathtub. She was blonde, had a bullet hole in her head, and was quite dead. It was a graphic nightmare for a 10-year-old; I never watched television and rarely had nightmares. I had it for weeks until we finally moved. Each time, it became more intense—it had gotten to the point where she was clawing her way out of the tub and trying to speak to me through the shower curtain. Needless to say, I was a bit of a wreck by the time we moved. Years later, I remember finding out from my parents that there was indeed, a murder at that house. They didn’t elaborate, but I always wondered of the details. Parents, tell your kids these things ahead of time, because if they ever experience anything, they will always wonder.

I was 13-years-old when my parents took a house by the ocean. They were able to rent it cheap and I was more than a little sad when we moved a year later. It had a garden, a tree-house, a large yard to do cartwheels in; everything a kid could want. It also had ghosts. I would lay awake for hours and watch a white cat walk through my bedroom wall. Over and over again. No explanation for that, it just was. I remember constantly seeing an old lady out of the corner of my eye. She would follow me down the stairs to the basement and back up again. She would follow me down the hallway to my bedroom. Sometimes, I would see her sitting in my mom’s rocking chair in the living room. I wasn’t afraid; she was just a presence I came to accept. It wasn’t until we moved from that place that I overheard my parents discussing the house and the fact they had both seen the shadow of an old lady there. They thought it might have been the lady that died in the house before we bought it. Well, that was news to me (and unfortunately, taught me the joys of eavesdropping).

So, back to the genre of paranormal. I began writing fiction when my kiddos were younger. While writing the second installment to my Pradee series, I was interrupted by two characters that truly didn’t fit. I kept setting them aside, but they would return, stronger than ever. Finally, I gave up on my young adult title and began Between, a story of the paranormal. While my young adult fantasy, took me ten years to complete, I had the rough draft of Between finished in several months and a year after that, the full novel was complete. Six weeks after I submitted, Musa Publishing offered me a contract.

The novel I’m working on now is also in the genre of paranormal. I have to say, I’m hooked. I like the freedom of writing for adults and I love presenting the paranormal in a new and interesting ways. Now, I know what you’re probably going to ask me. Do I write of my experiences or make stuff up? I’m a writer, I write fiction, and I know the difference between fiction and real life. I have to, I have kids. However, the best fiction is when writers “write what they know” and a little of what I know creeps into my novels from time to time. I hope you will enjoy reading them.

How far would you go to redeem yourself?
Since Lucinda was a young girl, she's been able to see spirits, a gift that didn't come without its problems. Now, a dedicated, young veterinarian, she is committed to the idea that everything can be saved.

When Lucinda is involved in a car accident that kills her fiancé, she is devastated and moves to a small town to live a life of self-imposed exile. There, she meets a newcomer and feels an immediate connection with him. However, there is another mysterious stranger to the small town, one that stirs within her a mixture of unease and desire.

The spiritual activity around her intensifies as Lucinda is increasingly haunted by memories of the accident. As she is drawn into a bitter tug-a-war from the forces around her, she is likewise pulled into a dangerous twist of past and present events. Forced to make difficult choices, she surprisingly finds that the two men are locked in not only a battle for her life...but a battle for their salvation.

Learn more about Clarissa Johal on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Friends - Celebrating Anzac Day with Vonnie Hughes

by Vonnie Hughes

Anzac Day is celebrated on April 25th with people all over Australia and New Zealand remembering our war heroes by wearing red poppies and baking our traditional biscuits. The tradition began in World War I. Wives and lovers wanted to provide a bit of home to their soldiers and nurses, but they needed a food that wouldn't perish on the long journey. These biscuits were created and have been a symbol of Anzac Day ever since.

Here is a recipe that is easy and flavorful. I hope you try them.

1 cup plain flour not self-raising
1 cup rolled oats
¾ cup sugar
½ cup dessicated (shredded) coconut
2 tbsp. golden syrup (light molasses)
1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda (raising agent)
125 grams of butter (4.4 ozs)
½ teaspoon salt
2 tbsp. boiling water.

Preheat oven to 160C or 325°F (140C or 285°F for a fan-forced oven).

Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper (parchment paper).

Sift flour into a large bowl. Stir in the oats, coconut, sugar and salt.

Combine butter and golden syrup and stir over medium heat until melted.

Stir the bicarbonate of soda in the boiling water and add to the mixture. It will bubble.

Quickly pour the liquid over the flour mixture and combine.

Roll heaped tablespoons of the mixture into small balls and place at 5cm (about 2 inches) intervals on the baking trays. Press the balls down with a fork to flatten.

Bake for about 18-20 minutes until golden brown.

Note that these are not puffed up cookies but more a flat biscuit type of cookie.

While your biscuits are baking, step into a different moment in time with one of my Regency novels. I hope you enjoy this short intro.

When Alexandra Tallis sets free the attractive man her sister stupidly tried to hold captive, her actions lead not only to a love she never thought to find, but also to a horrific family secret that threatens that love.

When Alexandra Tallis discovers that her witless sister has imprisoned their father’s nemesis, Theo Crombie in their attic, she quickly frees him, fighting an unladylike impulse to keep him as her own special captive. Despite the brutal beating she receives from her father for her actions, Alexandra continues to yearn for the delicious Mr. Crombie even though she knows that nothing will ever come of her dreams.

Injured and shackled in a stranger’s attic, Theo unexpectedly discovers the woman of his dreams. But how can he pursue those dreams when her bizarre family’s complex relationships threaten the very foundation of his existence? Somehow Theo must find a way through this maze to claim his lady.

To read an excerpt from Captive, please click HERE.

Vonnie Hughes is a New Zealander living in Australia. She loves animals and jogging. Vonnie writes Regencies and romantic suspense novels along with short stories. She is presently working on a romantic suspense, working title: Innocent Hostage and a Regency novella, working title: A Tale of Two Sisters.

Her earlier book Coming Home is about a soldier and a nurse, thrown together during the Napoleonic wars, who find more danger on their return to England than they ever did on the Iberian Peninsula.

The Second Son is actually a prequel to Coming Home. A second son, filled with angst, stands to inherit a title and property through the death of a brother he has always loathed and mistrusted. A young disabled woman teaches him how to find his self-respect and how to love.

Another Regency Historical, Mr. Monfort’s Marriage, has businessman Matthew Monfort inveigled into marrying an earl’s daughter. With good reason he loathes the ton, so his new wife needn’t think she’s going to win him over, even though she’s quite delightful…and intelligent…and sweet…However Verity shows him that not all members of the ton are idle layabouts and that he can do much good with his largesse and with—shock, horror—the unexpected and embarrassing title conferred on him by Prinny.

All of Vonnie’s books are available on Amazon and Musa Publishing.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesday Toolbox - To Self-Publish…Or Not

Once upon a time (aka three years ago) self-publishing was something an author might consider after she’d received rejections from every editor and agent on the planet, if they deigned to acknowledge her at all.

Now self-publishing is the land of opportunity where the Kindles are paved with gold. Authors who’d never turned a profit through traditional publishing herald us with dazzling stories of overflowing bank accounts. Many more authors self-publish to modest or disappointing results.

Self-publishing is no longer a last resort for misfit manuscripts and stories that never should have seen the light of day. It is a legitimate publishing option that stands shoulder to shoulder with traditional New York publishers and smaller independent (often digital) presses.

Self-publishing is not an either/or proposition. I see it as another tool available to the author, one that can be very powerful in the right hands—and completely ineffective for those with no clue how to capitalize on it.

I first published with a small press for a hardcover romance. Several years later I digitally self-published two children’s chapter books. Both those ventures proved disappointing (although I still have hope for my children’s books). Now I am digitally published with three digital publishers in romance. My success is modest as yet but continually growing. I am excited to continue working with my publishers. I love my editors, my book covers, their automatic distribution to multiple e-platforms, and our joint promotional efforts.

I’ve also decided to test the self-publishing waters again, this time with an erotic romance novella. Why? First of all, the book is short, which makes the price point low enough that splitting the profits doesn’t leave a significant amount for anyone. Second and much more compelling to me is flexibility in promotion efforts. I now have a book where I can give away as many promotional copies as I please. I can experiment with the price and the genre classifications. I can even take it off the market and revise it after it’s published.

A rising tide floats all boats. Self-publishing helps publisher sales and vice versa. I’m excited to put my boat in the water and discover where I float to.

Contemporary Erotic Romance Novella
Currently 99 cent download only from Amazon

When Haley Miller posts on a sexual fantasies forum that she wants to have an orgasm while surrounded by her friends, one reply stands out. Intrigued and desperately aroused, Haley prepares for the orgasm of her dreams. But when she arrives at her friend’s house, she learns that the man of her dreams, Seth Gardner, is back in town. Now she must decide if she wants to go through with her plans for public pleasure or go after her dream date with Seth, or risk losing them both.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Magic Touch Giveaway Hop & Swag Bonanza

The magic touch. If anyone has such a thing, it's Armanda Verdad, hero of The Wiccan Haus: Psychic Lies.

Armando, can you explain us who you are are how your "magic touch" works?
As the head of the Department of Truth-Finding for Syndicate (which is the government of the paranormal world for you humans out there), I have the truth-finding power. This means when I touch a person who is speaking, their words mentally play back in my head followed by the word “truth” or “lie.” If the person speaks a sentence that is half truth and half lie, my power will break it into parts so I know exactly what part is truth and which is a lie. This makes me a very useful investigator for the government in solving crimes and ferreting out those who aim to deceive our honest citizens.

What do you wish people would know about you?
I wish people understood how much I want to use my power for the greater good of keeping the Syndicate safe. It’s true that I don’t have Cyrus’s amazing retro-cog power, but I can still make a difference, and I intend to prove it by cracking this high-profile murder case before the police do. I’m following the victim’s lifebond Vetter to the Wiccan Haus. She’s definitely hiding something, and I’m going to figure out exactly what and bring her to justice.

I get the feeling you don’t believe you’re portrayed fairly in the media?
I have a problem with everyone believing the Department of Truth-Finding is not capable of solving crimes and protecting the Syndicate. Everyone constantly wants to compare me to Cyrus. It’s very frustrating to continually come up short.

What really pushes your buttons?
People not telling the truth, obviously. But aside from the big lies to cover up evil intentions, I don’t understand why people lie about insignificant things that don’t matter either way. How do I know which lies are worth digging into when everything that comes out of a person’s mouth is a lie?

Sounds like you need to relax a bit. Any ideas on how to go about that?
Well, if I’m lucky enough to have a woman to relax with, I enjoy a picnic with some exotic fruit, a variety of cheeses and a fine white wine. I’m not opposed to finishing the meal off with a nice massage or a swim in the lake (clothing *ah-hem* optional), but ultimately it’s whatever the lady wants. If she’s happy, then I’m relaxed.

Is the man on the cover of Psychic Lies a fair representation of you?
The man is definitely me, and the picture of the lake behind me is very nice, as well. But the cover itself is rather embarrassing. I’m the head of a government department. I need to be portrayed professionally, wearing my overcoat…or, at the very least, have my shirt buttoned.

What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is the Syndicate dissolving the Department of Truth Finding, so I’ll be forced to use my power to investigate cheating spouses and petty concerns. How does that serve the greater good?

Thank you, Armando, for sharing your thoughts. Good luck with that "magic touch." I have a feeling you're going to need every bit of magic to have a chance with Fiona.

Psychic LiesFiona must keep her ability to read minds during sex a secret from those determined to exploit her, especially a sexy truth-finding investigator who needs her psychic power to save his job.

Fiona has spent her life hiding her sexual mind-reading power at the risk of being exploited by the government. Instead, she pretends to have life bond vetting powers like the rest of her family. When her fake power results in the death of an innocent woman, her life of lies unravels and she retreats to the Wiccan Haus.

Armando is the head of the Department of Truth-Finding for the Syndicate. To prove his unit’s worth to the government, he follows Fiona to the Wiccan Haus to expose her as an infiltrator of an enemy faction. The truth about Fiona is even more valuable to his people and his career.

Fiona uses her power to seduce Armando and stop his plans to betray her. But nothing is strong enough to keep her from falling in love with this man whose power threatens to destroy her. Now she must trust him, not only with her life and her psychic lies, but also her heart.

I will be giving away a copy of Psychic Lies to one random person who leaves a comment telling me their favorite "magic touch" that they've read about. Or make up a magic touch that you'd like to see in a book! Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter for updates on my latest books and contests. For extra Brownie points, like my page on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and follow my blog here. Make sure to include your email address and your preferred file type (Kindle, Nook or pdf) in your comments. Contest is open internationally.

This Hop is hosted by author Kallysten and book blog Riverina Romantics. In addition to individual prizes provided on each blog, we are offering assorted swag to the first 100 participants who simply tell us they want some! See all details and sign up here.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Friends - Sloane Taylor's Magnificent Men of Munich

The Magnificent Men of Munich, featuring rugged Wolfe Deider, are back in book two of the fiery four book series by Sloane Taylor.

As the games heat up, the stakes grow higher, and Lonnie must decide whether to play along or leave her heart out in the cold.

Lonnie Copley may be a genius, but not when it comes to her personal life or road maps. A series of wrong turns puts her far from reality and the German autobahn. The last thing she wants on the eve of a snowstorm is to be dangling at the edge of an Austrian mountain in need of rescue—especially by a leather-clad giant with Johnny Depp eyes. As luck would have it, Lonnie’s not the only one in need of rescue.

Wolfe Deider has spent his adult life recovering from the pain of childhood. He is too aware romance is unattainable for him. Try as he might to keep the troublesome American at arm’s length, her spunk is disarming, and forces open all his old wounds.

Lonnie loves Wolfe’s special brand of complications, but can she afford to indulge in his winter games?


“Shall we set the rules of the game?” Wolfe knew how he wanted this evening to progress.

“Checkers? I’m good at those.”

He rattled the torn box. “Would you like to make the game more interesting?”

“Of course. How much money can you afford to lose?”

“How about for every disk you jump of mine, I must remove an article of clothing?”

“And for every man you jump, I lose something I’m wearing?” She drummed her fingernails on the tabletop.

He grinned and dumped the pieces onto the chessboard.

“Ja, I believe that would be the fair way to play the game.” He laid out a few of the black disks on his side of the board. Eleanor scooped up a handful of pieces and plunked them on appropriate squares, then turned the board.

“You start. After all, you’re the host.”

He shoved a red circle into play. She concentrated, then moved her black disk onto the square that forced him to conquer her.

“I believe you lose your first disk, Eleanor.” His dick tingled.

“Guess so.” She kicked off a boot. Grinning, she lifted a checker and jumped his disk, then glanced up. “Not just yet, Herr Deider. I have another move.” She swooped up the next disk.

Both of his shoes clomped to the floor.

He leaned across the board. A strategy was mandatory if he wanted the outcome in his favor. Looking her in the eyes, he slid a disk on the diagonal keeping his finger on top of it.
She glanced down, a smile tweaking her lips, and raised her hand to play.

“Not yet, Fraulein.” He slid the red circle back onto its original square. “I think this a better move.” He crossed jumped two of her disks.

She never flinched. Her other shoe hit the floor, followed by a sock.

“You are a good sport.” He raised his glass in salute.

Another play and he pulled off both of his socks.

He moved. She snorted and flung her other sock into the air.

She made an outstanding move he never suspected. His shirt flew onto a side chair.
With a grin he glanced up and conquered another checker.

She grabbed her sweater at the hem, peeled it up her body and over her head, then tossed it onto the floor. Her low cut purple bra barely covered her puckered nipples. And his dick stood at attention.

His hands shook as he lifted another red disk over her black one.

She slid back the chair then stood. Her graceful fingers worked the button free. Wolfe held his breath as she wiggled the pants past her curvy hips. She glanced at him over her shoulder with the look of a woman who knew what she wanted. Her hands glided over her sleek ass, guiding the material down her long legs. She bent over to pull them off. He gripped the edge of the table at the sight of her ass cheeks gripping a purple thong and…


Sloane Taylor believes humor and sex are healthy aspects of our everyday lives and carries that philosophy into her books. She writes sexually explicit romances that take you right into the bedroom. Being a true romantic, all her stories have a happy ever after.

Her books are set in Europe where the men are all male and the North American women they encounter are both feminine and strong. They also bring more than lust to their men’s lives.

She is an avid cook. Check out “It’s Wednesday. So What’s Cooking?” with complete menus posted once a week on her blog. The recipes are user friendly menus, meaning easy. Feel free to email her at to be included on the Cooking Pals list. These are people who receive an advance email of the new menu.

Learn more about Sloane Taylor on her website, and of course her blog blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My Decadent Journey

My journey to Decadent began ironically at Musa Publishing where I was (and still am) happily writing for the Wiccan Haus series. I noticed that my fellow series authors Dominique Eastwick and Kate Richards both had books out with Decadent's 1Night Stand series. Not wanting to have "all my eggs in one basket" as the cliche goes, I was looking to branch out to another reputed publisher.

I respect Dominique and Kate as great romance authors, and I trust their business sense, so I decided to check out Decedent's 1Night Stand series. The moment I read about Madame Eve here, I knew I wanted to be part of this series. In the coming weeks and months, I brainstormed and then wrote More Than a Fantasy. The day after I submitted it, I had an acceptance letter and a contract. Wa-hoo! I was definitely excited. And amazed. And a bit overwhelmed!

This was in May. Over the summer, I wrote a rough draft of another 1Night Stand book while I was waiting for edits for More Than a Fantasy. Fall turned into a crazy rush of edits and promo. But finally at the end of October, I was able to return to the second 1Night Stand story and revise it. I submitted One Night with the Bride, the first in the One Night with the Bridal Party sub-series, which will come out next month to be followed by One Night with the Bridesmaid later this year.

Meanwhile, my love affair with Decadent has spread beyond 1Night Stand. I am looking forward to showcasing "September" in the Calendar Men series in 2014, and I've been eyeing the Challenge Series and brand new Tease Entice line with great interest. And I definitely have a couple more One Night with the Bridal Party stories to tell. My journey with Decadent has just begun, and it's been a heck of a ride so far!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuesday Toolbox - Writing About Sex by Leigh Daley

Why I Write Sex
by Arley Cole and Leigh Daley

I write under two pennames—Arley Cole for my YA-friendly fantasy and Leigh Daley for my steamy romance. Arley Cole keeps it out of the bedroom, but Leigh Daley gets into some seriously R-rated territory.

This makes life difficult for me in my tiny Alabama hamlet. When people ask about my latest release, I have to make a quick judgment—do I tell them about the Leigh Daley stuff or will it scandalize them? What would the little women in my church say about me if they read my Leigh Daley stuff? Would they ask me to put a scarlet letter on my choir robe?

But the truth is sex has a hugely important place in women’s lives. We think of men as being the sex-driven beings, but human relationships are cemented together by the physical act of belonging to one another. If we want stronger relationships, we need to be having frequent, mutually beneficial, loving sex.

That is not to say that I am at all in favor of the “jump in bed first, ask questions later” school of relationships. From personal experience, that attitude leads to sleeping with frogs rather than princes. My characters sometimes do sleep with each other before they should – that’s one of the relationship minefields we have to navigate. When they do, I am compelled as a story-teller to deal with their actions in the most realistic way possible. Sex too soon causes trouble they have to work out together.

But sex in the fullness of time in a relationship binds two people together in ways very little else can. I truly enjoy writing about a couple’s exploration of each other. In loving someone else, we really do discover things about ourselves. The sex act opens up all kinds of emotional territory for us, and I love to show my characters discovering themselves through their physical loving of each other.

Our sexual experience affects us profoundly, no matter our age, background, or gender. As an erotic writer, I try to treat the subject with the respect and integrity it deserves. If my readers sometimes find themselves inspired to jump their partners after reading, I am glad of that. Anyone fortunate enough to be in a loving, committed relationship owes it to that relationship to invest in it physically as often and as jubilantly as possible. In fact one of my personal goals as a romance author is to inspire my readers to have more sex!

In my latest Leigh Daley release, Storm Duty - Finally Ever After, a natural disaster shakes up divorced couple Kyle and Jenna. In the midst of the chaos, they both have to learn that all that really matters is who we love, and their love scene is one of my favorites because of the healing that takes place between them.

At this season, especially after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, I think we all need to remember to hold close the ones we love. So I’m going to keep writing romance, and I hope you all will keep reading. Now, go hold somebody!

Leigh Daley

Their careers drove them apart--could disaster bring them back together?

In the aftermath of a series of tornadoes, Kyle Mathis just wants to guide his linemen to restore power to the devastated town of Milton. When reinforcements in the form of corporate deskjockeys come to work storm duty, he's glad for the extra bodies to help serve food and support the crews working eighteen hour days.

But Kyle is not prepared to face one of the latest arrivals, his ex-wife Jenna. Jenna left him years ago, choosing her career over their marriage. However, being back together in their home town brings back memories and desire--for both Kyle and Jenna.

Can Kyle and Jenna find each other again in the midst of the devastation? Or will their jobs pull them apart and leave not only their homes but their hearts shattered?

The instant Jenna Harlow heard her ex-husband’s voice, she wished she hadn’t agreed to come.

She certainly wanted to help and Cedar Hill had been home once. But as she stood and saw Kyle face to face, she wished she hadn’t. There were just too many memories.

“Yeah, I’ve got some made already,” she answered him, aware that his eyes had widened at the sight of her. She covered her own desire to stare by pouring him a cup. “Do you still take cream and sugar?” she asked, trying to keep her tone light even though her heart pounded so hard she could feel it in her fingertips.

“I’m drinking it black these days,” he answered, his tone just as even.

As she passed him the cup, her hand trembled. He took the coffee, but the hot liquid splashed out a little over the side. His hands were shaking too.

He cursed under his breath as he sat the cup down on the table and grabbed a napkin to mop up the spill.

“Don’t worry,” she insisted. “I’ll clean it up.” She looked at his face in the dim light. His eyes that same dark green, his hair the same light brown—still cut the same as she remembered from seven years ago.

But his shoulders were broader, and he stood taller, more muscular. His jaw had a strong, determined set, and little sun crinkles had begun to frame his eyes. She’d always thought he was good-looking, but now in the fullness of manhood, he was downright gorgeous...

To read more of Storm Duty, please click HERE.

Musa Publishing
Barnes & Noble
All Romance E-books

Leigh Daley lives with her husband and kids in the wilds of West Alabama along with her dogs Bruno and Jack. Now on her fourth career, she has spent most of her life writing for other people, but these days she is writing for herself. She eats like a cavewoman, posts crazy fanfic as Arcole, and tries to meet her creative needs by writing romance as Leigh Daley and fantasy as Arley Cole. She’s a really big fan of happily ever after.

Learn more about Leigh Daley on her blog. Stay connected on Facebook.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Friends - Holley Trent's Melting Pot

Guest post by Holley Trent

There’s this bit in my new release Her Resident Jester where my protagonist, Shane, waxes poetic about her identity:

I’d almost forgotten about that ultrasound. I didn’t generally volunteer for medical studies, but one of my coworkers’ kids was on the investigative team and I got strong-armed into it because I’m from an underrepresented ethnic group. That is to say no particular ethnic group. I’m more mixed up than Vin Diesel, but far less coy about it. I leave that to Marcia. She’s really uptight about that sh*t.

Shane and Marcia are sisters (you’ll meet Marcia formally in April in Love by Premonition), and constituents of the Great American Melting Pot. They can’t simply itemize what they are, because at some point in the family tree the colors blur. They’re sort of a lot of things and nothing in particular.

Shane’s fine with that. She’s okay with her ambiguity and having people ask her about it. Culturally, she’s North Carolinian, Southern, and American. Marcia is far more sensitive about her perceived identity. She’s not self-hating, exactly, but as a lapsed physicist, she sort of likes being able to put things into neat little boxes. So, when people question her on what she is (and isn’t), she dances around the subject and deflects. It’s not easy for her to answer, and she doesn’t like other people guessing about it, either. She could hedge and say “I’m black,” but she isn’t. Bi-racial wouldn’t be accurate, either. Tri-racial would work, but it’d be imprecise.

Shane doesn’t mind imprecision so much, but it makes Marcia twitchy.

I made this a “thing” with Marcia because I think people should sometimes come in shades of gray (even if they don’t have cool names for themselves like Cablinasian)…and I think sometimes they should be sensitive about not having a tidy label.

Although I identify very well with characters like Shane and Marcia (good luck trying to itemize all my components), they make requesting cover art extremely tedious. I could spend an hour scanning through stock art depositories looking for models who are suitably ambiguous and only come up with one or two.

For Her Resident Jester, we stepped around that casting issue and put the hot doctor Derek on the cover instead of Shane or a couple. (Isn’t he pretty?) We’ll see what happens with Marcia’s story.

Here’s the gist of Her Resident Jester:

Marketing executive Shane Andrews’s reluctant participation in a research study leads to the stunning discovery she needs immediate surgery.

Out of sorts, and in a moment of spectacular tactlessness, she insults a man wearing a red rubber nose and big floppy shoes. He turns out to be Derek Palmer: Edenton’s hottest young surgeon…and the resident observing her operation.

With her body and pride both on the mend, Shane hides out to prevent further humiliation. She can’t avoid the gorgeous clown too long, however. Edenton is a small town, and Derek isn’t content with letting her wallow. What kind of clown would he be if he did?

Her Resident Jester is available for purchase in most major eBook formats at the Musa store and also at third-party retailers like Amazon and All Romance eBooks.

To learn more about Holley Trent, visit her website or watch her navel gaze on Twitter.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Marci Boudreaux announces The Messenger

We're back with more Marci and her brand new release, The Messenger. If you guessed yesterday that she's writing it as Marci Boudreaux, you're right!

Special Guest Post
by Marci Boudreaux

I wrote The Messenger just over ten years ago. I was still riding high on winning third place for unpublished manuscript in a Texas Writers’ League contest. Unfortunately, the world didn’t love the book as much as I did. After numerous rejections, I put it on the shelf and only recently pulled it off to give it another go.

It needed lots of work. Let me say that again: It needed A LOT of work!! Head hopping, showing not telling, repetitive writing…just to name a few.

But I was determined, so I cleaned it up, offered it up and it was accepted by Secret Cravings Publishing. I knew it still needed more polishing and scrubbing, so I turned to some great author friends—Vonnie Hughes, Sloane Taylor, and Parker Kincade all had a peek at it—to help me get my head on straight and attack this as an editor instead of a sentimental writer.

With their help I was able to rework this story that I’ve loved for so long into something that I hope you will love too!

Evelyn Thomas is tired of being treated like a little girl playing dress-up. Just because she is working at her father’s newspaper doesn’t mean she isn’t a good journalist. All she needs is a chance to prove it.

Unfortunately for seasoned reporter Wes Reilly, that chance turns out to be the exact same story he’s working on.

When the journalists get separate leads on the same insurance scam, they butt heads over who gets to expose it. However, when Eve’s source ends up in ICU she has no choice but to turn to Wes for help.

Every step they take brings them closer towards the truth and each other. But the path to vindication is filled with danger and leaves Wes and Eve struggling to get out of sticky situations and fighting for their lives.


Eve ran her hand along one of the many rows and skimmed the file tags until she got close to the numerical prefix she was looking for. She pushed the files as far apart as the overstuffed shelf allowed and tilted her head down to get a closer look. She went over each name, not finding any files which corresponded with names on the list Jerry had given her.

This was impossible, like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. She pulled a piece of paper from her shirt pocket to verify the spelling of the name before she pushed the folders apart again in case she had missed what she was looking for the first time.

Suddenly a hand roughly grabbed her shoulder. She spun around, her heart racing and her lungs tight with the gulp of air she had involuntarily inhaled. As soon as she met the angry gaze of the man who had startled her, she let her breath out with a rush and sank against the wall of folders.

Wes pressed his lips together and flexed his jaw muscles as he stared at her. “What are you doing here?”

She looked at the white coat he was wearing with a badge which identified him as Dr. Henderson. “What are you doing here?”

Wes leaned down to get eye-to-eye with her. “Answer me, Thomas.”

“I’m following a lead.”

“What lead?”

“I don’t have to share my stories with you.”

“Your story?”


He snorted as he leaned back. “Exactly what story would that be? How to properly file medical records?”

She felt the sting of his words go straight to her heart. Defiance set in and she stood a little straighter. “Insurance fraud.”

Wes stared at her for several seconds. He may have been trying to intimidate her, but his glare had nothing on her father’s. She simply cocked her brow in return.

“That’s my story,” he said.

Eve shook her head. “No. I got this tip on my own, Reilly, and if you think you’re going to steal it away from me—”

“Steal it away from you? I’d like to know where you got your tip ’cause I’ve been on this story since last week. You are so unbelievably—”

Eve raised her brows when he stopped mid-sentence and turned his head away. “I’m so unbelievably what?”

“Shut up,” he breathed. Her mouth opened and Wes put his hand over her lips. “Hush.”

Eve gasped when she was quiet long enough to hear footsteps. She grabbed his wrist and pulled his hand away. “What do we do?”

Author Bio:

Marci Boudreaux lives with her husband, two children, and their numerous pets. She is a freelance writer and video producer for a variety of local monthly magazines as well as a content editor for several small publishing houses.

Romance is her preferred reading and writing genre because nothing feels better than falling in love with someone new and her husband doesn’t like when she does that in real life.

Marci is currently working on her Masters in Publishing and has plans to eventually take over the world.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tuesday Toolbox - Writing Under Your Real Name or a Pseudonym

I write under my real name, which (I think) simplifies my life. But there are a host of good reasons to take a pseudonym ... or two. Here's what Marci Clark has to say on the matter:

Me, Myself and I
By Marci Clark

One question I am asked quite frequently is why I use various names instead of just sticking with one. I think my reasoning reflects that of many author’s so I thought I’d share.

When my first book, The Rebound, was purchased, it was completely unexpected; it was awesome, but unexpected. I was a non-traditional student (that’s nice speak for old person in college) and working as a journalist/editor, yet I’d just sold an erotic novella. Did I really want my fellow students, most of whom were a dozen or more years my junior, reading a sex book with my name on it? If someone liked my article in the magazine I write for and decided to look me up to see my other work, did I really want them to immediately find The Rebound and forever associate my journalistic work with sex?

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t in the least bit embarrassed. In fact, I was and am very proud of my first release. The problem was what others would think about it and how it would impact my career, volunteer work, and the work my husband does.

So I thought long and hard as I stared at the pseudonym line on my contract. Before the papers were signed Emilia Mancini, my erotic writing sidekick, was born.

When Musa contracted Unforgettable You, a sweet romance, I again had to decide if the name I was making as a journalist was going to be tied to my fiction writing or if I was going to give Emilia credit for this one as well. I considered several pros and cons, including the fact that I’d already started building an identity for Emilia and that my lifelong dream was to see my name on the cover of the book. While Emilia was me, it just isn’t the same as seeing my name on there.

In the end I decided to use my maiden name, Marci Boudreaux, for romance.

This would serve several purposes; fulfilling that dream of seeing my name on a cover, letting people know it was not an erotic work like what Emilia would write, and keeping my day job separate from it all.

I put everything in its own little box on the professional shelf; erotica, romance, and day job. I have three names, three genres, three personas that have completely different reasons for existing.

I also have three work e-mails, Facebooks (plus two author pages), Twitters, websites, and three different sets of people I network with. It is confusing, insane, and sometimes overwhelming, but it helps me keep my head on what I’m doing without worrying who is going to see it.

My alter egos and I can all be tied together because, in the end, we are all public figures in different areas. We’re all proud of the other’s work and more than happy to tell anyone who will listen. We all help each other out when we can.

I cross promote my authors so if you see Marci you will probably find Emilia not far behind and vice versa, but you will know what you are getting into depending on the primary persona. The real me, however, is a bit more hidden in the shadows, never completely in the dark and always happy to take credit for the hard work of the other two.

To read an excerpt from Marci Boudreaux’s latest release Unforgettable You, please click HERE. Check out the trailer for Unforgettable You HERE. Learn more about Marci Boudreaux on her website. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Note from Sara: Marci has brand new release out today. Guess which of her names it's under, and check back here tomorrow to see if you're right!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Reading Romances Challenge - April

April's theme was Beauty and the Beast--one of the main characters is physically marred in some way or emotionally tortured. I immediately looked up Decadent Publishing's Challenge Series, where every book deals with exactly this. I decided to go with the emotional torture and read Healing Hearts by Liz Crowe.

Jay Longmire had it all--a successful business, a beautiful wife, two loving children. But one normal Sunday evening in Ann Arbor everything was ripped from his arms at knifepoint. He has retreated to Traverse City to hide from the world, nursing his physical and emotional wounds and trying to cope with mind-numbing guilt over his inability to protect his family.

Abby Powers serves him coffee he never drinks and has become obsessed with the movie-star handsome but melancholy man. And the anticipation of his appearance every day takes her mind off her own messy life.

What begins as a near desperate physical connection out of the blue develops into a friendship that has the potential to heal two damaged hearts. But Jay is terrified to love again. While Abby's fierce independence forces them both to acknowledge the deeper relationship they both desire, but that remains just out of reach.

Wow, you will be hard-pressed to find a hero more emotionally tortured than this man! He is a mess. This book is not for those who have trouble reading about violent situations because Jay's memories share the excruciating details again and again. Those parts were tough for me to read. It definitely pushed me beyond my comfort level. However, the story itself, the romance, the hero's transformation, and the heroine were all wonderful. I highly recommend this book (just not for the faint of heart).

Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday Friends - Susan Lodge

ONLY A HERO WILL DO is the latest release by Susan Lodge.

Hetty’s desperate gamble to avoid an odious match lands her all at sea. Can an overbearing ship’s physician really be the hero she needs to escape her treacherous family?

Marriage to a cruel dandy is not how Hetty Avebury envisions spending the rest of her life. Determined to raise funds to escape the match she earns money the only way she knows how—gambling. Her plans go astray and she finds herself onboard a man-of-war under the care of its stern physician. But Hetty soon realizes that the disapproving Doctor Withington is not at all the man she had first imagined.

If it wasn’t bad enough declaring one of the pressed men as a woman, Robert has been tasked with the tiresome job of returning her safely back to her dysfunctional family. It was ten years ago when his father gambled away his inheritance, home, and any chance of marrying the woman he loved. So when Robert discovers Hetty gambling he takes drastic action to cure her of the habit.

“Annie, will you please walk beside me? Try to remember, I am supposed to be your brother not your employer. You must keep your arm on mine.” Annie pursed her lips but did as she was told.

At five foot four, Hetty was tall enough to masquerade as a male. Her disguise was not of fine quality this time, as she had no desire to stand out in the crowd. It was serviceable and clean, if a little ill-fitting.

She resembled a rather youthful clerk.

They had left in the early hours after Hetty had written her aunt a short note to tell her not to worry. She couldn’t risk anything else, as she knew Stark and her father would ask too many questions. If she knew nothing, Aunt Amelia wouldn’t have to lie—something she didn’t like to do.

After a moment, Hetty and Annie searched for a respectable inn, both having missed breakfast. It was only after they had seated themselves in the Boar's Head and ordered a modest meal that Hetty realized it was a bad choice. The tables were occupied by groups of unsavoury looking males, half of whom were staring at Annie in a very vulgar way. Hetty looked around with a feeling of foreboding while picking at a cold rabbit pie. The room started to empty as a strange murmur of discontent rippled through the establishment.

Annie fidgeted beside her. “I don’t like it, Miss Hetty! It ain’t right.”

Hetty groaned. “Harry—not Miss Hetty! For heaven’s sake, Annie!”

“Beg pardon…Harry,” she said, as though the name was blasphemous, “but I think we should go now.”

Hetty agreed and prepared to rise when the door shot open and the remaining customers scattered in all directions. A small party of hefty men, armed with wooden batons, sauntered in and stopped in the center of the room, assessing the occupants.

Annie grabbed Hetty’s arm. “It’s the press-gang!”

It took a moment for Annie’s words to register then Hetty swallowed violently. If only her skirts were back on. One of them noticed her and narrowed his eyes with a terrifying gleam like a predator. He pointed his finger her way. “Now, lad, I reckon you look ripe for adventure. Eager to serve your king, I wager.”

Hetty shook her head and grasped Annie. “No, sir, I have my sister here to look after.”

The man wandered closer, his fleshy face beamed and his voice cajoled. “What’s your name, lad, and how old are you?”

“Harry Blake. I am fourteen." Surely that is too young.

The man considered her for a moment, and Hetty didn’t dare to breathe.

“Bring him.”

Logic ceased. Hetty ducked under the table and tried to crawl toward the door, but one of them crunched a foul-smelling boot down on the small of her back, and her breath escaped in one whoosh of pain. A large hand hoisted her up by the neckcloth and placed her on her feet.


Susan Lodge is a life long writer, but has marketed her work just these last few years. When she is not writing, Susan tinkers on her piano, enjoys the company of her children, or takes long walks along the coastline with her real life hero.

Once asked the most important piece of advice she had been given in pursuit of publication, Susan answered -
The only difference between the unpublished writer and the published writer is the fact that the published writer didn't give up.

Catch up with Susan on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuesday Toolbox - Looking After Yourself

by Eleni Konstantine

You do right? Or are you like most people and run yourself to the ground trying to keep up with the hectic pace that is the 21st century? The latter probably.

I’m a great believer in telling people to look after themselves. But do I do the same? The answer is sometimes, because I have to. I have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and I know that I will crash if I don’t have breaks. One thing that CFS has taught me, I can’t go weeks without looking after myself as I once did. Probably a reason for the onset of it.

So what can we do to look after ourselves?

Nap or Meditate
I love my afternoon naps and have them most days. It helps me re-energize. Can’t get to sleep? Don’t worry. Use that time just to close your eyes and relax. I can’t meditate properly as I tend to fall asleep and that’s okay. I think it’s my body’s way of letting me know I need the sleep.

Move away from the computer. I find that I move a lot more during the day than at night, where hours can pass as I sit at the computer. During the day, I put laundry on to remind me to move. When it’s time, I empty one load and fill the machine with another. But at night, I put the alarm on the computer or listen out for the computer voice telling me the time on the hour. I do move - some of the time.

I feel better on the days I exercise. Endorphins are released and the body benefits from the movement. I haven’t managed to get into a proper routine yet (CFS is awful for setting routines) but when I did exercise regularly, I felt much better and I was more productive. Of course finding an exercise you enjoy is the key. I go to Curves as it suits me the best and do Tai Chi.

Necessary ‘Pampering’
I need to have remedial massage every so often (ouch!), because it does help the muscles and movement. I have reflexology on occasion, and also chiropractor and acupuncture appointments more frequently. Basically it’s me listening to what my body (and brain) needs. So work out and try to work it into your schedule once a month.

I truly believe reading feeds the soul. See my blog post on the Musa Publishing blog. It helps to re-energize and let our imagination run wild, and our inspiration and muse spark off as well.

Vege Out

I watch TV, but I tend to watch it when I’m so tired I can’t read. I love stories and this is just the visual form. I tend to record things and watch when I’m in the mood or have an hour or so that I want to relax and not think about anything but what’s in front of me. Currently episodes of Son of Anarchy and Boardwalk Empire are waiting for me. Both amazing shows with such complex characters.

Drink Water
Remember to have that water bottle on your desk. I find it better than grabbing a glass of water because I’m likely to drink more. However, if you are good, you can use the refill of the glass for ‘moving’ as discussed above.

Eat Regularly
My biggest downfall. I don’t eat regularly nor have a proper breakfast - though I’ve been trying to fix that. Because I don’t have a set routine this isn’t easy for me. If you’re hungry (even if you don’t know it), your brain doesn’t operate at full capacity and you can’t concentrate on your work. And eating brain food helps. Bananas, anyone?

Commune with Mother Nature
Being outside - even if it’s in your front or back yards helps us get out of that funk that we can get when we’ve been too long inside. I always feel better for it even if it’s for a short while. It’s been hot here in Australia so this hasn’t been doable lately. I love the beach, and don’t mind going and sitting on a bench and staring at the waves. Or even going for a walk to the local park.

Hanging Out with Kids or Pets

Kids live in the moment, and as adults we tend to think in the past or the future. They have boundless energy and love doing all sorts of activities. I draw and play board games with my godson. It’s an enjoyable time and ultimately the kids will say something that is hilarious, so it’s always fun.

My dog is the same - lives in the moment and loves to play ALL the time. That unconditional love and companionship is just priceless.

All the above do help - if we can get them into the routine. It’s a work in progress for me.
Maybe we need to schedule looking after ourselves into our diaries? What do you think?

Zeta will protect the one she loves, even if it means living in Hell.

Mastering a unique power was much safer for Zeta Kosmos with a mentor to help her along. Now that he’s disappeared, Zeta must continue alone with her calling—closing Gateways to Hell.
Daniel Richards is in the family business—Warding supernatural evil from causing havoc on humans. As such, he’s only interested in the safety of one-night stands. Until Zeta. This bad boy now wants a long, lasting relationship.

But Zeta can’t let go of her past, nor can she ignore the secret demonic threats against Daniel’s life. She’d rather fight demonic spawn and be dragged into Hell than allow anything happen to him. Can Daniel convince her to stay? Will she have to pay the ultimate price?

To read an excerpt from Gateway to Hell, please click HERE.

ENCHANTED REALMS - a short story duo

Stormy Divide
Will Ellie ever find a way home?

Thom may be used to the dangers of the forest, but nothing has prepared him for this. When he stumbles across a woman dressed in weird clothing lying on the ground during a storm, he has no choice but to help her.

Ellie finds herself in another world, having travelled through time and space thanks to what Thom calls The Rifts. The question is whether she will ever be able to find her way back, or if she will be stuck in this new world forever. Or if she will even want to go home…

Angel Eyes
What if the man of your dreams only existed in your dreams?

Vera’s dreams are haunted each night by a man she only knows as Angel Eyes. He feels more real to her than anything else in her life, including her fiancé. Vera must try to forget her childish dreams of soul mates and happily ever after… but are they really only dreams or can she find a way to be with Angel Eyes forever?

To read an excerpt from Enchanted Realms, please click HERE.

Eleni Konstantine is Fantasy and Paranormal fiction writer, with a number of shorts published. Her stories range from flash fiction to novels. She blames her mother for her writing bug because as a child she was given many books, including illustrated fairytales. That and a love of Greek mythology, and Eleni was destined to become a writer.

Eleni lives in Adelaide, Australia, with her family and feisty American Staffy.

Learn more about Eleni Konstantine on her website and blog.