Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Interview with Chani Lynn Feener, WITHIN ASH AND STARDUST

Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
I always love when this happens, and it’s happened a couple of times in my writing. The most memorable one, though, would definitely be Trystan, from the Xenith trilogy. In the beginning, he was meant to be a minor character—just another small obstacle for the main character to overcome. By midway through the first book, I knew he’d already turned into the main villain, because he was always so prominent. But then by the end he made it clear he wasn’t going to settle for that role either, and he became a main character and real love interest. Book two, which focuses a lot on his character, would have been so different if it’d gone the way I’d originally thought it would.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
I did. I sent out queries to agents and publishers for projects like the Xenith trilogy, while also self-publishing other works on the side. It’s definitely a lengthy process, filled with a ton of rejection, but I was prepared for that. I’m still looking for an agent, but I’m happy that I was successful in getting at least one project traditionally published! I think it’s really important when working towards something like writing to stay positive and not give up.

How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract? Was it for your first novel?
I signed the contract with Swoon for the first book in the trilogy, Amid Stars and Darkness, when I was 25. I’d graduated at 21(a month before turning 22), and started sending out queries to agents and publishers by 22, so it took about 3-4 years for me to get a project accepted. This wasn’t my first novel, I wrote that when I was 16, and I’d been self-publishing already. I self-published my Underworld series right after graduating, so I was already doing that while searching for agents and a traditional publisher for ASAD. I pretty much consider Unhinged, the first book in the Underworld Saga, as my first seriously published novel, since it’s one of the first things I self-published with the goal of getting readers and possibly doing more with it (it was published through an indie press for a short time before I went back to self-publishing it). Because it’s my first official work, I don’t consider it as good as the Xenith trilogy, but it’s come to mean a lot to me over the years, and I’ve learned a lot through the self-publishing process which has helped me improve my writing.

Are you currently under a traditional publishing contract for future books or do you have manuscripts that you will self-publish? Are you doing both?
I’ve got a few things I’m waiting to hear back on from a couple different traditional publishing houses, but I also have a YA urban fantasy coming out in October which will be published by Aionios Books, a small publisher. I’m really excited to share this book with everyone! It’s a lot darker than the Xenith trilogy, with a twisted romance and a lot of hidden, and obvious, betrayal. To sum it up briefly, it’s a book about a girl who can see Unseelie faeries, who’s gotten involved with one of them in the hopes to break her family curse. Then there’s also the final book in the Underworld saga which will hopefully be announced sooner rather than later!

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)?
In the beginning, I knew it was going to be timely and difficult to search for a traditional publisher/agent.  I also knew I didn’t want to feel like I was wasting time while I did that, and wanted to try and learn as much about the industry myself as possible. Self-publishing was a way for me to get feedback from real readers I didn’t know, ones who wouldn’t be bias or sugarcoat things for me, that I could learn from.

Through self-publishing, I was able to better understand what it is readers tend to look for in a cover and blurb, what they like and dislike the most when it comes to general plot, and whether or not my particular writing style was well received. I thought it was important for me to have something like that on the side, so that every time I did receive a rejection letter I could go back and read a nice review from someone on my self-published book. Even though I was prepared for it, it’s obviously hard receiving rejection letters, at least once you’ve passed three or four of them. Self-publishing was a great way of keeping my moral up and teaching me things I needed to know in order to better myself as an author. This helped me change my pitches and continuously write something better than the last thing I’d written. Eventually, that led to me writing Amid Stars and Darkness and my getting signed by Swoon so, I think it was a good decision on my part.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I like to just let the story unfold on its own. If I over plot something, it tends to fall apart on me. I lose that spark of inspiration and all the fun gets sucked out, so I end up getting bored and leaving it by chapter three. Typically, I like to just start with a basic concept and a few characters names. I’ll know the names of my main characters, like Delaney, Ruckus, and Mariana,  but won’t delve too deeply into their personalities or looks, I let that write itself while I go. For instance, I had no idea Delaney was a redhead until that description popped up while I was writing.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
For all of my self-published works, yes. I got an editor to look at them, as well as a couple beta readers, since I was putting the books out there on my own. Even with all that, there were still a couple mistakes that managed to slip through. That’s the tough part about self-publishing, if anything goes wrong, it’s one hundred percent your fault. Still, my editor did a great job and I’m grateful that I found her.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?

The Xenith trilogy books are available through all bookstores, while my upcoming book, Tithe, will only be available through Amazon. My self-published works are available there, as well as through, so ebook versions of it can be purchased for Nook and e-readers other than Kindle.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
It is a little difficult, only because so much time has to go into both, and if I get distracted with something for marketing, and lose my train of thought for the book I’m currently writing, then I have to break for a bit and hope that inspiration comes back. There’s also the fact that there are a lot of things that can go wrong or pile up with marketing, and writing while in a bad mood or frustrated doesn’t really work well for me. Currently, I’m working on marketing the book coming out in October (the first book in a new trilogy), as well as the final book in the Xenith trilogy (Within Ash and Stardust) and writing the second book in this new trilogy. Usually I can write a book in a matter of weeks, but this one has stretched to over two months now because I keep getting busy with other things.

Some fun facts about you, which do you prefer – dogs or cats? Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or Tea? Talk or Text? Day or Night?
Oh, I love these questions because I am a hardcore cat person (although I also have a dog named Finch) and am obsessed with coffee. I can’t even tell you how many lame knickknacks I have lying around just because they have a cat or coffee “theme” to them. I also prefer text over talk, because I can text and still work, and I am a night owl. Most of my best work happens during the night, and I’m usually up pretty late—like between 2-4 am.

Within Ash and Stardust
Chani Lynn Feener
(The Xenith Trilogy #3)
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: July 16th 2019
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Having gone from kidnapped faux princess to the legitimate heir to an intergalactic throne, an impulsive, sarcastic teen must take charge of her own destiny in this epic YA novel.
On Earth, Delaney is a normal teenager who recently graduated high school with a fantastic best friend and a loving boyfriend.
But Delaney isn’t on Earth. She’s on Xenith, a war-torn planet half a galaxy away. Originally mistaken for an alien princess, Delaney has gone from kidnapped imposter to the recognized heir to an alien throne. Oh, and she’s engaged to the prince of an enemy nation whose ruthless father is on the warpath.
Torn between two planets, two fates, and two loves, Delaney is finally ready to choose her own destiny in Within Ash and Stardust, the stunning conclusion to Chani Lynn Feener’s Xenith Trilogy.

Author Bio:
Chani Lynn Feener has wanted to be a writer since the age of ten during fifth grade story time. She majored in Creative Writing at Johnson State College in Vermont, and graduated in 2012. To pay her bills, she has worked many odd jobs, including, but not limited to, telemarketing, order picking in a warehouse, and filling ink cartridges. When she isn’t writing, she’s binging TV shows, drawing, or frequenting zoos/aquariums. Chani is also the author of teen paranormal series, the Underworld Saga, originally written under the penname Tempest C. Avery. She currently resides in Connecticut, but lives on

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Interview with Mary Karlik, MAGIC HEIST

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
Magic Heist is the second book of the Fairy Trafficking Series. This book picks up after Layla, a powerful fairy, rescues over 100 fairies who had been kidnapped and brought to the human world. Now they can’t find their way back and they’re slowly dying.  Layla learns about a silver wand that could open a portal to the magic world. The trouble is she has to find it and steal it. To be successful, she knows she must team up with the one man who can make her insides quiver with an accidental brush of his fingertips. The same man who’s alter ego dragon is the natural predator of fairies. The man she knows will give his life to keep the fairies safe—Scotland’s finest Specialist Crime Division leader, Ian Cameron.

Ian has only been a dragon shifter for a few days. He struggles to control the dragon spirit locked inside his human form, doesn’t know what magical powers he may or may not have, and has never been to a magical world. But none of those things frighten him as much as the little spark that ignites in his soul when the half – human fairy is around. The problem is, the dragon-spirit inside Ian would like nothing more than to feed its appetite with all those fairies starting with Layla.

Do you have a favorite character?
Layla. The female protagonist in Magic Harvest and Magic Heist. She grew up on the fringes of fey society. She was an outcast—teased, taunted, and bullied. She is kind, brave, powerful, and can wield a sword like a medieval knight. And when she had an opportunity to save her people, she didn’t hesitate.

How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract? Was it for your first novel?
I started writing in 1996. It took me 17 years to get published. A lot of life happened during that time and for the first few years, I didn’t write every day. I would go months without writing. A friend, who is a NYT bestselling author, told me if I really wanted this, I had to make it my job. So, I did. I started writing every day. I worked full time, had kids, a husband with a demanding job. So, I wrote from 4:30 – 6:00 every day. I queried, entered contest, went to conferences, pitched— all the things. I landed my first agent in 2010 but it wasn’t a match made in heaven. We parted ways in 2011 and I signed with another agent. I adored her. We worked well together. We were pitching my Hickville High series set in small town Texas. We were offered a few really bad contracts but never found the one. Self-publishing was starting to take off and she suggested I self-publish the books. So I did. It was, and has been, a learning experience. In 2016 I was offered the contract with Ink Monster Publishing for my Fairy Trafficking series. I have taken the long route to publishing. Most people get published between their 4th and 6th books. I follow that statistic but it took me forever to write those first books.

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
I no longer belong to a critique group. I write too fast to make it work. But, I do have a content editor. He keeps me in line. Since he’s also my son-in-law, if I’m stuck I can run things past him and we always come up with a solution.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
I have a very particular process. I write very early in the morning. I have a playlist for each book I’m working on and listen to music while I write. I also keep track of how many words I write every day. So before my fingers hit the keys, I look at the previous day’s word count and set an intention to beat it. I “fast draft” the first draft. I try to take a break every hour. I have a short attention span so sometimes I break more frequently.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I usually know the major turning points but that’s about it. I write the first draft messy and fast. I love discovering where the muse will take me.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
I have a content editor and a copy editor. I don’t know how writers could possibly edit their own work. My eyes skip right over those mistakes.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
Most of my promotion is via Facebook, Instagram, and twitter. I also have a once a month newsletter.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Yes. I’m getting better. I have an author assistant who helps a ton! She got me on this amazing app called todoist. Between Lola and the app, I think I’ll do a better job. Fingers crossed.

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena? 
Have a solid marketing strategy. Hire a blog tour company like Xpresso Tours. Learn as much as you can before you jump out there. Nicholas Erik wrote the Ultimate Guide book to Book Promotion. It has helped a ton.

Besides writing, do you have any other passions?
Oh yes. My family of course. I just moved to Texas from New Mexico. I love to run, hike, and ski. I was a ski instructor in Taos, New Mexico before returning to my home state. I also love Scotland. My grandfather was from Glasgow. I am currently studying Scotish Gaelic at Sabhol Mòr Ostaig. A Gaelic Univeristy on the Isle of Skye. I’m taking a distance learning course and attend short courses for immersive Gaelic for a couple of weeks each summer.

Some fun facts about you, which do you prefer – dogs or cats? Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or Tea? Talk or Text? Day or Night?
 Dogs, Coffee, Depends—with my kids and close friends—talk otherwise text. Day for sure.

What’s next for you?
At least one more Fairy Trafficking book. I am also working on a rom com series set in Scotland that I’m super excited about. It’s early days yet but in each book the “cute-meet” will be on a solo’s tour in Scotland. I’ll get to feature the culture, history, and beauty of the country while falling in love. 

Magic Heist
Mary Karlik
(Fairy Trafficking #2)
Published by: Ink Monster LLC
Publication date: July 9th 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Layla rescued fairies that had been kidnapped and brought the human world. But now they can’t find their way back to the magic realm and time is running out.
Layla is a powerful fairy with magical ability that stretches beyond throwing spells. But with all that power, she still doesn’t know how to get over one-hundred fairies back to the magic realm.
With their magic gone, the rescued fairies have no immunity to protect them from the toxins of the human world, and they’re slowly dying.
To find the path home, Layla knows she must team up with the one man who can make her insides quiver with an accidental brush of his fingertips. The same man who’s alter ego dragon is the natural predator of fairies. The man she knows will give his life to keep the fairies safe—Scotland’s finest Specialist Crime Division leader, Ian Cameron.
Ian has only been a dragon shifter for a few days. He struggles to control the dragon spirit locked inside his human form, doesn’t know what magical powers he may or may not have, and has never been to a magical world. But none of those things frighten him as much as the little spark that ignites in his soul when the half – human fairy is around.
But this little fairy is no Tinkerbell. She is brave, powerful, and can wield a sword like a medieval knight.
With growing feelings toward Layla, he couldn’t refuse to help her get the fairies back to the magic realm if he wanted to. The problem is the dragon who lives inside him would like nothing more than to feed his appetite with all of those little fairies—especially the half human one who killed its leader.
“Mary Karlik, is truly a hidden gem of a writer.”I Am the Bookworm

Author Bio:

Mary Karlik has always been a dreamer. When she was a teen, she read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and then sat in every wardrobe in her Nanna's home, trying to open the door to Narnia. She didn't find it, but she did discover her voice as an author: one filled with her young adult self, and grounded in her roots as a Texan and her Scottish heritage, nourished by obscure Scottish folklore.
You can find her Texas roots in her YA contemporary romance Hickville series , which has been described as "100% solid storytelling," and begins with Welcome to Hickville High, a "lovely story about growing up."
She digs deep into her Scottish roots - there is magic there, she just knows it - for the forthcoming YA epic fantasy Fairy Trafficking series, beginning with Magic Harvest.
She makes her home in the beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountains of Northern New Mexico where she is a certified professional ski instructor, but she also loves visiting Scotland where she is currently studying Scottish Gaelic at the University of Highlands and Islands in Skye. Mary also earned her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, has a B.S. degree from Texas A&M University, and is a Registered Nurse.
Mary currently serves as the President of the Young Adult Chapter of Romance Writers of America and looks forward to raising a glass or two of gin and tonic with her fellow writers every year at RWA's national convention.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

#Review: TEMPTATION'S DARLING by Johanna Lindsey

  4 of 5 stars

William Blackburn, Earl of Ketterham, has lived in exile in the Scottish Highlands with his daughter, Vanessa, for the past 6 years, but now it's time for her to return to London and have a Season with her twin sisters. Vanessa has had a decidedly unladylike upbringing and she's enjoyed more freedoms than any proper young lady should have had. On her way to the family's estate, she meets Lord Montgomery Townsend when she helps defeat ruffians intent of robbing the carriage or worse. Both Vanessa "Nessi" and Monty are hiding secrets as they travel together. Will the past rear its ugly head and rob them of a happily ever after?

I loved the lively banter between Nessi and Monty as they traveled together. It was fun to see them develop feelings for each other all the while hiding secrets that could destroy them. The plot flowed nicely although I did think the ending was a bit rushed. Along with a few twists and turns in the story, the book kept my interest until the end. I suspect Vanessa's twin sisters will each end up with their own book as they have a enjoy the Season.

I voluntarily read this advanced reader copy and opinions are entirely my own.

Monday, July 15, 2019


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. L.J. Epps will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The futuristic world of Craigluy has been divided into three territories and three economic classes. A large wall separates the territories, so the poor cannot mingle with the rich.

Since President Esther, the ruler over all of Craigluy, believes the poor do not have adequate means to take care of children, they are no longer allowed to procreate. Pregnant mothers are imprisoned until their babies are born, then the infants are taken away.

Emma Whisperer is the last child to survive. She is the last child born in lower-class Territory L before the law was instituted in the year 2080. She is the last eighteen-year-old.

Emma struggles to understand why she was spared while others weren’t. She doesn’t like the laws and believes they should be repealed. Her family doesn’t agree with her; they discourage her rebellious streak. Yet, she helps them to cover up their own family rebellion. She helps them to hide a big secret, a secret that could be both disastrous and deadly for members of their family.

As she meets new people along the way, Emma learns who she can and cannot trust. And, in the end, she makes a gut-wrenching decision that may be disastrous for everyone.

She finds herself in danger for doing what she feels is right.

Buy links:
Barnes and Noble:


“I see your side is still bothering you.” He looks me up and down. “That’s why I came by in regular clothes. I knew you wouldn’t feel much like training. You should rest your side for a few days, like the doctor said.”

“How do you know what the doctor said?”

“Samuel told me. He said we should put off training, for a while.”

“Until I recuperate.” I groan again, pushing the pack more into my skin. “I don’t want to lose my newfound skills. Pretty soon, I will be good enough to beat you.”

“Now wait a minute.” He holds up his hands. “Slow it down, a little. You’re doing well, but don’t get ahead of yourself. I think the nickname Whisper has caused you to lose all sense of reality.”

“No, I’m still in my right mind,” I say. I grin like baby Abigail when you tickle her stomach.

“Seriously, though.” His eyes find mine. “Is your side all right?”

“It’s fine, or it will be.” My fingers sting, holding the pack.

“What about your hand?”

“They gave me some ointment to use.”

“Why did you let Samuel take you?” His chest rises and falls like the words were hard to say. “I mean, I asked to take you to the hospital and you refused. Why would you let Samuel take you, instead of me?”

About the Author: L.J. Epps is a lover of all things related to books: fiction and nonfiction novels, as well as biographies and autobiographies. She has also been known to sit and read comic books from cover to cover, several times over.

Over the last few years, L.J. has written several manuscripts; her mission is to publish all of them. She enjoys writing fiction in several genres, including contemporary romance and women’s fiction, as well as young adult dystopian, science fiction and fantasy. She loves to write because it immerses her into another world that is not her own.


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Friday, July 12, 2019

#Review: KISSED BY MAGIC by Erica Ridley

  4 of 5 stars

I'm a fan of Ms. Ridley and Kissed by Magic does not disappoint. It is a cute fantasy romance combining modern technology with medieval lifestyle. The hero Lance Desmond is off to find and retrieve a priceless treasure hidden within icebound and cursed Castle Cavanaugh. He believes he'll be successful where hundreds of explorers before him have failed. What Lance finds is the beautiful princess Marigold who's been cursed to live the same day over and over again for hundreds of years. When Lance realizes his predicament, he vows to break the curse and release Marigold from the castle.

This was a fast and enjoyable read. I finished it in a few hours. I loved how Lance tried to cheer up Marigold once he realizes what she's endured for over six hundred years. Their growing attraction to each other is sweet and the key to breaking the curse is clever.

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy and all opinions are my own.

#Excerpt: THE FOREVER GIRL by Rebecca Hamilton

The Forever Girl
Rebecca Hamilton
Publication date: June 18th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Paranormal

A young descendent of a true witch, Sophia discovers her familial curse can only be cured by entering a world of shifters, fae, and vampires who want her dead.
Sophia’s ancestor’s body went missing after a Salem Witch Trials hanging. Now, over three centuries later, Sophia is cursed, and the only way to free herself is to find out what happened to her ancestor’s body.
As Sophia uses magic to find answers, she unknowingly paints a supernatural target on her back, making herself a beacon for creatures of the night. And they won’t stop hunting her until they’ve collected what they want.
There’s one man who might be able to help her, but when Sophia finally decides to trust him, his own secrets place them both in more danger.
Fans of True Blood, Twilight, and The Craft are devouring Rebecca Hamilton’s witty, imaginative series.

Once Circe disappeared into the crowd, Thalia smiled at Charles.
“That one”—she bit her thumbnail and indicated me with her pinky—“would be valuable.”
A vein pulsed in Charles’ neck, and a soft hum vibrated through his body. Why didn’t he just shift?
“Surely you aren’t attached?” she asked, dropping her hand away from her mouth.
“You’re outside your rights, Thalia.”
“Temper, temper.” She sighed, the sound sickening coming from her. “But, my sweet Charlie, we’ve missed you. And what of Adonis and Blake? Have you forgotten who your 𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑙 friends are?”
“These women know nothing.” His voice sounded rougher, more gravelly. “Do not cross me.”
“Cross you? Oh Charlie, I’d never cross you.” She patted his chest and winked. “You’ve already 𝑏𝑒𝑒𝑛 crossed.”
A young, scrawny vampire pushed his way through the crowd. He bowed toward Thalia. “I’m sure Charles can handle this…misunderstanding. He’s been around longer than both of us put together.” He arched his eyebrows.
Thalia stepped back, cocked her head to one side, and tapped a finger against her cheek. “Fine. We have their scents.” To Charles, she added, “Pray you handle this well.”

Author Bio:
New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Hamilton writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Harlequin, Baste Lübbe, and Evershade. A book addict, registered bone marrow donor, and indian food enthusiast, she often takes to fictional worlds to see what perilous situations her characters will find themselves in next.
Represented by Rossano Trentin of TZLA, Rebecca has been published internationally, in three languages: English, German, and Hungarian.
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To learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder, please visit the website below.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

#FREE July 10-14: LOVE BY SECRETS by Debra Elizabeth

LOVE BY SECRETS, Book 1, Age of Innocence Series:

Eighteen-year-old Emily Stanton is excited to attend this season's society balls and begin her search for a husband. She is thrilled when the dashing and handsome Connor Preston begins to show her more attention. After each ball, Emily finds a love note in her drawstring reticule, and she expects a marriage proposal from Connor any day.

When her father objects and forces Emily to accept the proposal from Lady Tisbury's shy nephew, Ethan Richardson instead, her heart is broken. How can she love her new husband when her heart belongs to the man who wrote her such beautiful love letters?

LOVE BY SECRETS is a novel. (~200 pages)

Read for FREE July 10-14, 2019:


Emily sat at the vanity in her bedchamber, penning a letter.

My dearest Mia,
I find myself quite anxious these days. I couldn’t wait until our next visit to speak of this. I would like your wise counsel on this delicate matter as soon as you are able to write back. Mr. Preston has slipped me several lovely notes, one at each ball these past months, but he has only come to see me once, and he was with Mr. Richardson that particular time. I have no experience in the ways of courtship, and thus turn to you, my dearest friend. How many times did Mr. Giles visit you before he spoke of marriage?
I find myself quite in love with Mr. Preston. How long must I suffer this unbearable wait before he speaks to Papa and me? I so hope to have a wedding as beautiful as yours very soon myself. I am anxiously awaiting your reply.
In loving friendship,

She blew on the ink, making sure it was dry before she folded the paper and applied her seal. She got up from her vanity, left her bedchamber and headed for the stairs. “Mrs. Jannell?” she called when she reached the bottom landing.
“In here, Miss Stanton,” Mrs. Jannell replied from the dining room. She was choosing the table linens for the evening meal when Emily found her. “What do you need?”
Emily handed her the letter. “Please have Joseph deliver this letter straight away to Mia; I mean, Mrs. Giles.”
“Of course, Miss Emily. I’ll see to it right away. Would you like tea? I came from the kitchen and the water is hot.”
“Yes, thank you; that would be lovely. I’ll be in the parlor.”
Emily walked down the hall to the parlor and picked up her embroidery hoop. She looked at the piece trying to determine which thread was next, but she found it hard to concentrate. Her mind was racing with thoughts of Connor Preston. Her insides fluttered whenever she thought of him. Would he come today to visit her? What was he waiting for? And what of all the compliments he directed her way? Surely, he did not say those words lightly? The stolen kiss on the balcony had been so unexpected and yet, so magical at the same time. Surely that meant that he had feelings for her, didn’t it? What gentlemen kissed a young lady if he was not ready to propose marriage? But that was weeks ago. Why wasn’t he as prompt with a proposal as Mr. Giles had been with Mia?
Thinking about Mia and Mr. Giles, she was thankful that their cottage was not too far in the country. Joseph should deliver the letter well before nightfall. She missed her friend so much, but at the same time, she was so happy for her. Mia had never looked lovelier. She had positively glowed the first time she had showed Emily around her new home and garden. 
Emily let out a pent-up sigh. The Season was nearly over, and still, she had no serious suitor. Perhaps there was something wrong with her. She hadn’t thought about that, but hadn’t she always tried her best to be kind and considerate to everyone that crossed her path? She couldn’t remember saying an unkind word to anyone, not even those who had directed cruel gossip at Mia. Why couldn’t she attract a serious suitor?

Reviewer Comments:

"As a fan of the incredible Jane Austen ... this novella was a real treat for me to read. The author does a wonderful job with descriptions, such as when she describes Emily's first ball as a kaleidoscope of colors as the couples dance the night away."

"Love by Secrets is a sweet, bite-size love story. ... I really liked the time period the book was set in. It reminded me of Pride & Prejudice in that regard." 

 "The story was captivating, truly well-written.....Overall, Love by Secrets was an enjoyable, quick read. The author did a good job in conveying all the right elements of a sweet historical romance and I look forward to continuing the series, as well as read her other works. I recommend giving this one a try.

#Excerpt: STRANGER RITUALS by Kali Rose Schmidt

Stranger Rituals
Kali Rose Schmidt
Publication date: July 9th 2019
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult

A fighter with a venomous grudge.
A monster with an immortal curse.
A girl with a terrible gift.
All three out for blood in a land torn apart by harsh gods and holy wars. Each entwined with the other, on their own quests for vengeance, and yet held together by strange links to sinister pasts. As their fates unravel, a dangerous romance blooms, and violent darkness beckons.
At turns both darkly humorous and utterly morbid, STRANGER RITUALS is the startling first novel in Kali Rose Schmidt’s dark new series.

She swallowed, and then moved away, ducking her face from his grasp, hating how he knew her weakness so well. She rose from her knees. The Djavul stared up at her a moment, then gracefully stood to his full height.
“What did they want?” she questioned.
Vojtech smiled. “You have a job to do.”
She rolled her eyes. “I know. That’s guarding you. It’s a thrill a minute.” She gestured toward the ruined soldier beside them.
Vojtech frowned. “I actually thought you were growing bored here. No attacks in three months, only this idiot sneaking around in the desert.” He shrugged. “It seems Olofsson is losing his fear of me.”
“Good.” Scarko’s words mingled with fury. “Let him. It’ll serve our purpose for the second Holy War.” She stalked back to the Warskian soldier’s head, lifted it by the scraggly, blood-drenched hair. “So, what did the gods want?”
Vojtech watched her carefully, hands clasped before him. “You’re to go to the city of Kezda. A boy there is immune, it seems, to Vrakan abilities. You are to kill him.”
Scarko dropped the head with a thud. “What?” she hissed. “Why me? I’m your guard. Send someone else.”
Vojtech smiled. “As much as I enjoy you bossing me around, the gods are not so easily convinced.” He wiped his hands on his black robes and sighed. “This boy is a street fighter,” he wrinkled his nose, “taking on Vrakan defectives from the Warskian army. While he isn’t able to die from the usual Vrakan methods—ice, wind, fire, shadows—I think your magic could kill him. That’s why you.”
Scarko left the head on the stone floor and stalked toward the stairwell, behind the Djavul.
“I’m sure he’d die by sword just fine. Tell the gods I won’t go. A street fighter—the nerve of them…”
She made to pass Vojtech, but he snaked a hand out and gently stroked her dark blonde braid, the color of damp sand. She spun around to face him, fury in her eyes. But it was equally matched in his.
“I am the Djavul of the Order of Saints, Scarko Kadezska. You will not blasphemy our gods here. You know as well as I do that we cannot resist their orders, and we should not. They have guided me thus far.” He took a step toward her, brushed a cold finger against her cheek. “You will do this, and you will return to me.”
She stuck her tongue out at him and turned, clomping up the stairs. She heard him chuckle softly as she pushed open the doors from the dungeon, the Shadows on guard making way for her, black thread entwined in their grey cloaks, same as hers.
“Watch him,” she said unceremoniously.”

Author Bio:
Kali Rose Schmidt is an author, mother, and villain lover. She likes bloody tales of monsters, yoga with the lights off, and anything that goes bump in the night.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

#Review: THE RELUCTANT DUCHESS by Jane Goodger

  4 of 5 stars

When I first started reading this book, I thought it was more a fairy tale like Beauty and the Beast. When Oliver's affliction is finally relieved, I was surprised and delighted by Rebecca's reaction. Poor Oliver, orphaned at a young age and raised by a distant cousin, he had no idea the depths that Mr. Winters would go to to retain control of both Oliver and the ducal properties. Oliver thought himself a monster and never thought to question Mr. Winters about it. Marrying Rebecca was the best thing for Oliver and as she helped him understand his affliction and begin to assert his own voice.

There are quite a few twists and turns in the story that kept me reading until the end. Ms. Goodger weaves a compelling story of loss, betrayal and finally love before Oliver and Rebecca find their happily ever after.

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy and opinions are my own.

Monday, July 8, 2019

#Excerpt: DRAGON'S REVENGE by CJ Shane

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. C.J. Shane will be awarding his original artwork - an ink drawing of ocotillo on handmade paper in a wooden frame ready to hang with hooks and wire. Size of frame: 6 1/2" by 8 1/2" (U.S. ONLY), via rafflecopter during the tour. 

Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

When Tucson private detective and Iraq War vet Letty Valdez is hired to investigate a murder, she immediately finds herself targeted by a violent criminal. To find the killer, Letty turns to an old memoir of life in late 19th century Tucson. Clues in in the memoir, with its tale of love between two immigrants - one, an Italian widow, and the other, an exiled Chinese revolutionary - launch Letty on a suspense-filled struggle to find answers, to stop the murderer – and to stay alive!

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from the memoir:

Mama agreed to sing at the rededication of the cathedral. She considered this a great honor and a spiritual responsibility. She wanted to do well to show her respect and devotion. Because of this, she began practicing every week as she had time, even though the rededication was six months away. She liked to climb a ladder up onto the flat roof of our adobe house and sing there. I asked her once why she went up on the roof.

"It's the right place to talk to God and that's what I'm doing when I sing. Singing here helps me to be strong." Mama said. Mama was very religious. She talked to God a lot. She also talked to Jesus, the Virgin, and all the saints. Me, I never had much use for all that.

She was up on the roof one day when Drago came up the street with his cart. When Mama didn't appear at our front door, he entered the gate to the side yard hoping to find her at the outdoor ovens. It was then that she began singing. Drago moved into the yard and stepped away from the adobe wall so that he could see her on the roof.

Mama stood straight upright, her long skirts moving slightly in the breeze. Her hands were clasped in front of her. She took another deep breath and out came that glorious mezzo-soprano, full and textured, subtle, rich with emotions I was too young to identify but would later know, emotions like passion and longing. Tendrils of curly dark hair escaped from the knot on her neck. Her northern Italian skin, pale like a pearl, glowed in the sunlight, and her dark eyes sparkled. My mama was a beautiful woman and she sang like an angel.

Drago stood transfixed in our garden, his hands at his side, his head bent upward to watch her. He was utterly still, utterly silent. I know this because I was hiding high in the branches of a tall mesquite tree behind him where he couldn't see me. I was supposed to be doing my chores but I, too, liked to watch Mama when she was singing.

Drago stood for the longest time listening to Mama. I was watching Mama but when I looked at Drago, I saw that tears were running down his face.

I think that was the day that Drago fell in love with Mama, the day he first heard her sing.

About the Author:

C.J. Shane is a writer and visual artist in Arizona. In addition to her mystery fiction, she is the author of eight nonfiction books. Her first fiction book, _Desert Jade: A Letty Valdez Mystery_, (11-2017) is a finalist for Best Suspense-Thriller novel, New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards.

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