Sunday, May 29, 2016

Thank a Soldier for their Service, MEMORIAL DAY 2016

We all get caught up in the fun activities of Memorial Day--getting together with friends, BBQs, having a great time, but let's not forget the real meaning of Memorial Day. Soldiers risk their lives every day for our freedom, a freedom that we take for granted. Nothing in life is free and I for one am thankful that we have such brave men and women who are willing to put their lives on the line to protect our freedom.  

Dear Solider: Thank you for your Service. Thank you for your Sacrifice. Thank you for your Courage. I Salute YOU. This day honors all of you. 

Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May. It was formally known as Decoration Day and commemorates all men and women, who have died in military service for the United States. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials on Memorial Day and it is traditionally seen as the start of the summer season.

Memorial Day started as an event to honor Union soldiers, who had died during the American Civil War. It was inspired by the way people in the Southern states honored their dead. After World War I, it was extended to include all men and women, who died in any war or military action.

The current name for this day did not come into use until after World War II. Decoration Day and then Memorial Day used to be held on May 30, regardless of the day of the week, on which it fell. In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed as part of a move to use federal holidays to create three-day weekends. This meant that that, from 1971, Memorial Day holiday has been officially observed on the last Monday in May. However, it took a longer period for all American states to recognize the new date.

Whatever you decide to do on this 3-day weekend, say a prayer and a "thank you" for all of the US military personnel who are serving around the world to keep us all safe.

Friday, May 27, 2016

#Excerpt: PLAY YOUR HEART OUT by Crystal Kaswell

Play Your Heart Out
Crystal Kaswell
(Sinful Serenade #4)
Publication date: May 24th 2016
Genres: New Adult, Romance

He parties like a rockstar.
She’s there to make sure no one finds out…
Jess James has her eye on the prize. She is finding the money to pay for law school. Period. She is starting a new life on her own. Period. And she’s absolutely staying in Los Angeles, three thousand miles away from the people who expect her to lie for them. It doesn’t matter how lonely she gets on her own, how exhausted she is from working overtime as a cocktail waitress, or how deep the knife wound in her back cuts. She is going to be a lawyer, whatever it takes.
Only she doesn’t have what it takes. She can barely afford to pay her rent.

Sinful Serenade bassist Pete Steele has enough to pay Jess’s rent and buy her a small island in the Caribbean. The famous, talented rock star has everything… except the one thing his manager wants. Pete rose to fame as a devoted boyfriend. Doesn’t matter that his ex slept with his best friend, he needs to stop screwing his way through Los Angeles to keep his reputation clean. Pete works hard, and parties harder… and the sweet, blond waitress is exactly the girl he needs on his arm if he wants to keep the record company happy.

Their arrangement is simple: he pays her tuition, she plays his girlfriend. They’ll lie to the world, but not to each other. Especially not when they’re alone, in his bed, him figuring out exactly which buttons to push to get her moaning his name.

Jess is good at keeping up appearances. She can play the enigmatic rock star’s girlfriend. But Pete shouldn’t play games with a girl who’s been broken before…

Previous books in the series:
26014662 27847598 28599719

My eyes find Pete’s. There’s an earnestness to his expression. I feel like I can trust him. Like I can talk to him.
That might be worth lying to everyone else.
His hand slides under my skirt. My thoughts fade away. My shoulders and back relax. I want to feel the way I did at the park, like there’s nothing in the world but the two of us.
Sex first. Decision second.
I lean in to whisper. “Do we have to stay to talk?”
“Have to clear something with Aiden but I can do it after.”
Mmm. After. I nod. “Yes please.”
“Yes please, what?”
I can hear the smile in his voice. “Yes, please… will you… Do I have to say it?”
He chuckles. “I’ll get you there.”
His fingertips skim my thighs as he pulls his hand back to his lap. He pulls back enough he can stare into my eyes. I still can’t figure out what the expression in his deep brown eyes means, but damn if I don’t like staring into them.
They’re gorgeous eyes.
That vulnerability returns. He blinks and it’s gone. I shift backwards, breaking his touch. But it’s too loud to think.
Pete stands and pulls me to my feet. He nods goodbye to his friends then leads me to the back of the VIP area. There’s a roped off area with a NO ENTRANCE sign. He scans the room. A cocktail waitress has her eyes on us. More likely, she has her eyes on him. She licks her lips hungrily.
He could easily take her home. But he looks at her with apathy. He doesn’t want her. He doesn’t want any of the gorgeous models in this place.
He wants me.
Pete leans in to whisper. “Wait for me on the balcony. I’ll lose her.” He motions to the closed door in the corner of the roped off area.
He wants to do this on a balcony? Damn. First the bar bathroom then this. He has a thing for public sex.
I should say no. I’m going to be a lawyer. I can’t get caught having sex in public.
I try to force the word to my lips but it refuses. “What if we get caught?”
“This is private property. They’ll ask to leave. That will be it.” His eyes meet mine. “We can hold off till we get back to your place.”
I shake my head. I don’t want to hold off. I want him. Now.
I trust his assessment of the situation.
“No. Let’s do now,” I say.
He nods.
I wait for him to grab the waitress’s attention and I sneak past the velvet rope. The door to the balcony is frosted glass. You can’t see in or out. I turn the handle and check my footing. All good.
We’re overlooking the alley. No one can see us, not from the street, not from the club.
No one is going to catch us. Not on camera—it’s too dark for that.
Thoughts swirl around my brain. I like Pete. Find him interesting. Hell, find him fascinating.
Can I play his girlfriend without falling in love with him?
I press my hands into the smooth metal railing. It’s the only cold thing here. The sounds of the street—conversations and cars—flow into my ears, competing with the music coming from the club.
There’s only one thing I know: I can’t leave without being with him.

Author Bio:
Crystal Kaswell writes steamy new adult and erotic romance books. She loves when flawed characters fall head over heels for each other. Especially if they fall into bed first. She loves police procedurals, tea, and The Hunger Games series. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband.

Hosted by:

Thursday, May 26, 2016

#Excerpt: THE TROUBLE WITH MISBEHAVING by Victoria Hanlen


“Since you burned my letters we still have much to discuss.”

He squared his shoulders. “I think not. Our brief association is at an end. I do not wish to be a part of your mad games. After the night before last—”

“After the night before last?”

“It seems best to allow you your distance.”

He heard a quick intake of breath and a rustle of silk. Her voice seemed to rise in pitch, “Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone what you almost did with crazy ol’ Miss Collins. But then you have lots of secrets, do you not, Captain Tollier? What’s one more?”

“I don’t know what you mean, nor do I care.” He started walking again.

“Looking at all these…lovely portraits, I can see why people whisper you’re the family’s cuckoo.”

Lurching around, he clenched his fists in an effort to control his temper. Not only did the insult shock, it cut into one of his earliest, deepest insecurities. He lowered his voice to a dangerous calm. “You are fortunate to be a woman, madam. Were you a man, such an insult might force me to call you out.”

She stood and gave him a look so sultry it almost begged him to teach her lessons of a different sort.

“Ah yes, call me out. And what should I call you?”

He turned to leave, hoping to prevent saying or doing something he’d regret. Before he’d taken two steps, C.C. said in a voice full of authority, “Mr. Wainwright. Perhaps Captain Scott? Or would it be Cornelius Dolan?”

The hairs on his neck stood straight out.


Love, Betrayal and Redemption

Calista ‘CC’ Collins is used to being the talk of the town. With her scandalous past she’s learnt the hard way that a woman needs to be strong to get what she wants in a man’s world. And what she wants is the infamous Captain Beauford Tollier—roguish son of an earl, notorious blockade-runner and all-round knave of the seas.

However, Captain Beau is not one to be cajoled—he is done with the dangerous sea life and ready to follow the life of the straight and narrow. But with many powerful forces circling around him, Beau doesn’t stand a chance…

Buy links:

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Award winning, historical romance author, VICTORIA HANLEN, has worked at a wide range of jobs, from fashion, to corporate business, to treading the boards of stage and professional opera. A lifelong writer, she once put her skills to use in PR and advertising. But her favorite form of writing is happily-ever-afters spiced with a dash of wit and a page-turning mystery. Victoria and her husband live in rural New England surrounded by a host of wildlife.

She enjoys hearing from readers at:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Interview with Caroline Gill, FLYING BLIND

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
It is the second book in the Flykeeper Chronicles. After I finished Flying Away, the book itself felt complete. I had told Lani’s story from a lost, abandoned child through to her decision to take back her life from the callous men who stole memories. When she grew up and came into her own in Book one, it felt right. 
But in reality, we all know that technology once invented is almost impossible to contain, a genie in a bottle with destructive and beneficial powers depending on the user. And while Lani thought winning the first battle was enough to set her free, all of her opponents and more are still on the board. Her life and all those dear to her will always be in jeopardy because of her knowledge about the memory stealing technology AND because she can talk to flies. That alone makes her valuable, endangering all she worked so hard to save in Flying Away.

Do you have a favorite character?
In the Flykeeper Chronicles, I have to say my favorite character is Eleanor, the younger cousin. Though she spent much of the first book in a memory-stealing induced coma, she is the kind of cousin that you adore and drives you batty at the same moment. I probably love her just because she speaks fluent pig latin. But also, Eleanor is the hope Lani carries: for a family of her own, for a future not broken by greed.

Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
I am pleased that both Enyo and Eleanor had a story arc in Flying Away, and that Lani continues to value Eleanor, protecting her cousin whenever possible. Both of Lani's cousins were fundamental to the first novel and continue to play foundational roles in the series. They share blood and bone, belief and wonder. Together, the two girls are a reflection of Lani's own struggle.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)?
I wanted more control and less gatekeeping than traditional publishing offers. That's why I chose self-publishing. I really wasn't aware of the stigma it carried for quite some time. Thanks to the internet and places like Amazon, the way we publish, what we read, and the voices we hear are widening. And the availability and production of books and music lets in a lot of trash, but also a ton of treasure.

If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
I drew the cover myself using layers of sweeping orange, red and the glow of green. I drew the figure and the flies using a wacom tablet and adobe photoshop.
Part of the story of Flying Away, the first book in the series is Iolani's discovery of the magic of houseflies. The other factor is the use of memory stealing technology to drain away part or all of a person's mind. The light from that sinister tech is an eerie lime green. So I wanted that color on the cover. A housefly has vermilion eyes and iridescent blue green wings and body. Red and green are complementary colors. 
With Flying Blind, Lani is older and surprised by her enemies when the only home she has is attacked. She failed to plan for that moment and is left to pick up the pieces. 

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
For Flying Away, Flying Blind and Flying Free, I listened to the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack. A lot. And I listened to some of these:

 The Flykeeper Chronicles Music Playlist:
Hooked On a Feeling, Blue Swede
My Brown Eyed Girl, Van Morrison
Rollin' In the Deep, Adele
Radioactive, Imagine Dragons
The Only One, Melissa Etheridge
Crying, KD Lang (Roy Orbison tune)
Pieces of You, Jewell
Good, Better than Ezra
1,2,3 Like a Bird I Sing, Tim McGraw 
Big Black Horse and a Cherry Tree, KT Tunstall

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
The characters write themselves. And then once I know them, I find their story. It is not normally where I thought it would be, and their desires are far more fascinating. I plot over several books to maintain consistency and to include hints of things to come. Meta plotting (looking at the overall skeleton of several books and then breaking down the individual novels) really helped make book two and three, Flying Blind and Flying Free feel knitted together.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
Back in 2012, I published a novel, my first and thought I didn't need an editor. I assumed wrong. We all have blind spots which make it impossible to clearly see our writing: our brains fill in the missing information of what we Meant to say.... And readers can't do that.  Editors have caught so many little mistakes, but also several rather big ones. I would have never seen those weaknesses. One of my first editors broke me of multiple exclamation points. Well, sort of.

What have you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey?
Kindness matters. Always.
It takes a village. Whether its readers, fellow authors, PAs, bloggers, or publishers, we all lift each other. Trust makes us stronger. And there is always a great deal to learn.
Try again. And again.
Find something new.
Watch what successful authors do and adapt to that strategy.
Put your head down and keep writing. Success doesn't normally come after one book. Write your heart onto the paper, the readers will come.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I use twitter, facebook, free books, newsletters, and anthologies. It's important to help your readers find you. And in order to do that, you have to produce quality that shines.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Luckily, this is the second book in a three book series. Flying Free, the concluding book comes out in a month. So I feel like I am marketing the first book, Flying Away, while releasing the second and third. But I can also see how having multiple books out works, while having multiple series out begins to be messy. I think by then, it will be time to hire a personal assistant.

Interview with Michael Ross, HAND OVER FIST

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series? 
Martin Russell spends his last coins on a bus ride out of the city with barely enough motivation to face the future. The story follows Martin as he at first rebuilds his life and then when his world shatters around him. His girlfriend has a secret world of which he knew nothing and Martin's world goes tumbling out of control, until he turns to his old friend John Staples  better known as Pin-up, who enlists the disgraced ex cop Bobby Tanner, who has a chance to once again prove himself..

Do you have a favorite character?
I really love both Pin-up and Bobby Tanner

Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
Bobby Tanner did not even exist when I was half way through writing the story, his malevolent as a character and personality in his own right drove and guided the story to its conclusion.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
Yes I did, and it was only by fluke I stumbled across my publishers, Limitless, via Facebook, no less!

How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract? Was it for your first novel?
About three years, I was happy self publishing, but knew I needed a professional team behind me if I was to make any significant headway with a career as an author.

What factors influenced your decision to go with a particular agent or publisher?
Hobson's Choice!

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?
Both the Out of Hand series, of which Hand Over Fist is the first will be published by Limitless, but I will continue to self publish my short story anthologies

If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
Not too much involvement whatsoever, I actually do not like my cover, but I bow to the commercial acumen of the professionals.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
Just 'follow my nose,' all my novels have evolved form short stories I have written, and the situations or characters nag at me until I explore their back stories.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
Yes- over a period of time I have two editors who I find inspirational in their help and advice

What have you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey?
I greatly enjoyed self publishing, but it is a solitary experience.- don't be driven by the quest for financial security. However the odd email with a little bit of praise for your writing is worth so much more.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
I would say it is almost impossible, I spent my life marketing and selling, I hate having to do it all over again

What’s next for you?
Three books coming out this year. The follow up to Hand Over Fist, entitled Out of Hand, a feel good romance, Chasing What's Already Gone, and another short story anthology


When an old friend disappears, Martin learns nothing is what it seems…

Martin Russell can barely face the future. With dismal life prospects and an estranged family, he is at the end of his rope. When an old friend, Hannah, elbows her way back into his life, Martin’s luck begins to turn around.

Hidden within the shadows of evil, there must be some good…

Ex-policeman Bobby Tanner lost everything one rage-filled night. Now he runs a reading group for alcoholics where he meets a young drug dealer, Zack, who disturbs him in a way that’s hard to define. Bobby soon discovers the teenager is in over his head and has been dealing with a despicable individual known as The Chemist.

The roots of evil run deeper than we imagine…

Martin’s lucky streak begins to unravel when Hannah suddenly goes missing, and he turns to a friend of a friend, Bobby, for help. Thrust into an underworld empire of corruption and half-truths, he learns his friend may not be who he thought she was.

In a shadowed world of deception, stalkers, and despicable drug dealers, Bobby and Martin must uncover the truth, and fast…

Several lives depend on it.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

It was a strange and twisting road that led to the publication of my first novel. From my humble beginnings, as an office clerk, to ownership of a multi-million dollar business I always maintained my love for literature.

Born and raised in Bristol, England. I spent most of my life in business, my companies turning over in the region of $500 million. The majority of that time marketing cars, eventually owning the largest Saab specialist in the world, before a bitter divorce forced me rethink my priorities. Particularly between 2003 and 2005 when I had to accept that I was no longer a millionaire but literally penniless. I avoided bankruptcy by the skin of my teeth and slowly rebuilt my life.

This led me to the life changing decision to leave the bustling city and move to live halfway up a mountain in the Welsh valleys. At the same time I started a part time six year English Literature course at Bristol University, and attended creative writing classes at Cardiff University. I left school at sixteen and this was my first taste of further education and an immense challenge.

I eventually adjusted my thinking to the academic life, and on 30 June 2015 had confirmation of my 2.1(Hons) degree from Bristol University. At the same time I also won the prestigious Hopkins Prize for my essay on Virginia Woolf and the unsaid within her text. Now the university courses are finished it will, with any luck, gives me plenty of extra time that I can devote to my fiction writing.

Thanks to the university experiences, my interest in English literature has flourished over recent years. Hopefully I have evolved as a writer from my earlier work in short stories (over ninety of them.) Although interestingly my first three novels have all been developed from a long forgotten short story.

Life is, once again, very good, and I live very happily halfway up a mountain, in the Welsh Valleys, with my wonderful partner Mari, and our rescue dog Wolfie.

Twitter         @mikerosswriter
Goodreads    Mike Ross

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 23, 2016

#Review: MEMORIES OF ASH by Intisar Khanani

5 of 5 stars

It's been a while since I read the first book in the series, "Sunbolt," but it was not a problem for me delving back into the story of the young woman Hitomi in "Memories of Ash." Ms. Khanani does a superb job of slipping in back story throughout the book without it feeling like it's bogging down the action in the story.

In the second installment of the series, Hitomi is faced with another life-changing decision. When her mentor, Brigit Stormwind, is summoned to High Council to stand trial on trumped up charges initiated by the evil, power-hungry Blackflame, Hitomi knows she has no choice, but to travel to the High Council and try to save the woman who has become more like a mother to her in the last year than her own mother who abandoned her all those years ago.

Ms Khanani masterfully weaves a plot full of wonderful surprises as well as heartbreaking choices we all must make when our choices do not go as planned. The supporting cast is so well fleshed out that even when they stand against Hitomi, their humanity shines through. It's so hard to pick a favorite character, but the Lycan Captain was such an intriguing character, I felt an instant kinship with him. This is not a book to read quickly--it is best savored over several days, which of course, I could not do. That first reading was so intense, I couldn't put the book down. Ms. Khanani clearly stands head and shoulders above the usual YA authors I've read recently. Her stories are rich not only in detail, but in honor, in intrigue and in surprising the reader at every turn. I thoroughly recommend this series--it is a superb piece of storytelling. Now, we all must wait in excruciating anticipation for the next volume! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Book details:

Memories of Ash by Intisar Khanani
(The Sunbolt Chronicles #2)
Publication date: May 30th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

In the year since she cast her sunbolt, Hitomi has recovered only a handful of memories. But the truths of the past have a tendency to come calling, and an isolated mountain fastness can offer only so much shelter. When the High Council of Mages summons Brigit Stormwind to stand trial for treason, Hitomi knows her mentor won’t return—not with Arch Mage Blackflame behind the charges.

Armed only with her magic and her wits, Hitomi vows to free her mentor from unjust imprisonment. She must traverse spell-cursed lands and barren deserts, facing powerful ancient enchantments and navigating bitter enmities, as she races to reach the High Council. There, she reunites with old friends, planning a rescue equal parts magic and trickery.

If she succeeds, Hitomi will be hunted the rest of her life. If she fails, she’ll face the ultimate punishment: enslavement to the High Council, her magic slowly drained until she dies.

(Both Sunbolt (Book 1) and Memories of Ash sale for 99cents until release day!)
Barnes and Noble –

Purchase book 1 - Sunbolt:

The author has a Thunderclap campaign set for release day, May 30, and wanted to share the link with you in case you would also like to support it. You can find the campaign here:

Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. She has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. Until recently, Intisar wrote grants and developed projects to address community health with the Cincinnati Health Department, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy. Intisar's current projects include a companion trilogy to Thorn, featuring the heroine introduced in her free short story The Bone Knife, and The Sunbolt Chronicles.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

#Excerpt: SUMMER HEAT by various best-selling authors

Summer Heat: Love on Fire Boxed Set
Publication date: May 24th 2016
Genres: Adult, Romance

16 All New Contemporary Romances from NY Times, USA Today, and International Bestselling Authors.
Guaranteed to make your blood run hot. Passion, steamy nights, excitement, and suspense. Something to suit every reader’s taste. Grab a cool drink (you’ll need it!), find a hammock, and curl up for an unforgettable escape.

1: Caridad Pineiro, Under the Boardwalk – A passionate night under the boardwalk brought them together, but can Chase and Natalie rekindle that lost love in just one night?
2: Nina Bruhns, Fast and Flirty – The top-secret package STORM Corps transporter Kade Maddox is hired to deliver turns out to be way more trouble—and a whole lot sexier—than he ever anticipated.
3: Rebecca York, Outlaw Justice – Will a surprise reunion with her old lover save her life when she flees from a homicidal husband?
4: Jennifer Lowery, The Fall (Book #2 ATCOM series) – The last thing ATCOM agent Brendan Devayne wants is to settle down, but Mia Lawrence makes him think twice…
5: Taylor Lee, Jared: (Book 1, The Justice Brothers Series) – The rookie cop learned the hard way that when tangling with the Justice Brothers, Justice—like Love– isn’t always fair or easy.
6: Traci Hall, Festival by the Sea – Al Cooper’s too bad to be a cop and too good to be a crook; Darcy Smith can’t get enough.
7: Stephanie Queen, Beachcomber Heat – This summer’s heat wave on Martha’s Vineyard is breaking records, but so is the crime wave. The combination is causing a wave of red-hot dangerous desire between Dane and Shana.
8: Kathy Ivan, Sex, Lies and Apple Pies – A televised baking competition brings them together. But deceit, intrigue and revenge are on this menu. Can their love survive?
9: Jackie Ivie, The Hunted – LeeAnn’s got business in Miami. Bring on the sun. Sand. Sexy men to look at. The last thing she expects is to be someone’s target.
10: Michele Hauf, The Geek Gets The Girl – Mistaken for the IT geek? This sexy CEO is about to learn the intimate operations of his company—up close, and personal.
11: Rachelle Ayala, Bad Boys for Hire: Ken (Bad Boys for Hire Series, #2) – After Jolie Becker is left at the altar, her friends secretly hire a hunky beach bum to cheer her up.
12: Katy Walters, Sands of Seduction – Clary escaped to a place of sea and sand, a place of passion and seduction.
13: Melissa Keir, Protecting Her Pigg – Arson and fire bring them together, but what will cause the most damage…the arsonist bent on revenge or their own stubborn ways?
14: Dani Haviland, Pool Boy Wanted (No Experience Preferred) – He’d never known a woman before, and that’s just how she wanted him.
15: Jacquie Biggar, Summer Lovin’ – Can two mismatched lovers find a way past their mistakes, or will they keep their lonely hearts forever guarded?
16: Angelique Armae, Dark Wolf – When Highland wolf Callen MacHendrie catches intern Miranda Kendrick stealing his prized sword, the term wild romp takes on a whole new meaning.

Excerpts from a couple of books included in this boxed set:

She took a deep breath; was there ever a good time? She must do it; accept it, not hide away anymore. Right now she needed a roof over her head and a job far away from the taunts and stares.
Clary heard the letterbox of the front door, snap shut. The post, it was never ending; every day she gathered up over half a dozen envelopes and yet more leaflets, more dead trees. As she slammed the spam into the recycle bin, a glossy photo caught her eye. Her heart leapt, just what she was looking for; a cottage for sale in a picturesque hamlet, nestling at the foot of a forest in the South Downs. It was half way across the country, but the further the better. She frowned reading the message, maybe it was just a general advert, but it seemed personal.
Delighted you are reading this. I invite you to make an appointment as soon as possible. Your dream cottage by the sea is waiting for you; within easy reach of Brighton and London.
Phone or email Cecil Partridge now, don’t hesitate.
02890 760723
After pouring a fresh cup of coffee, she picked up the leaflet, taking it to the small dining room, serving as an office. Sitting at the PC, she bent to stroke the head of her white retriever, gazing up at her with those brown soulful eyes. ‘Would you like to live by the beach? Run on the sands, swim in the sea?’
Lila raised her head, with a huge smile, a pink tongue lolling out of her black lips. ‘Yes you would wouldn’t you. Okay – let’s do it. Right now.’ Clary googled ‘MoveNow’, the best website for buying and selling houses or apartments. She tried to swallow the hurt; it seemed so strange searching for property without Theo by her side. It was impossible to ban the memories, the grief. Clenching her teeth, she rubbed away the tears stinging her eyes; dread welled up. Fight it Clary, fight it. Her chest tightened, as she forced herself to search the list of properties for sale. After only a few seconds of scrolling along, she recognized the hamlet. There was more information on the list; it was near a medieval market town with an ancient castle. The tiny village was a picture postcard, composed of cottages either side of a cobbled street, with a village store. The price was low and within her range. It was all she needed or wanted.

According to the wrinkled strip of paper taped over the original brass placard on the office door, Rachel Parker was the manager of the Paris Haute Heels office. Zac assumed Miss Parker was the woman who strode down the parquet-floored aisle between cubicles with the air of a confident runway model, red heels clicking smartly. Not even the weight of the office supplies she carried could lower her proud jaw. Juggling a coffee cup in one hand, file folders, binders, purse and briefcase in the crook of an elbow—not to mention a mouthful of pink phone messages—she shrugged by Zac where he stood in the doorway to her office, and lunged toward the glass-topped desk to release her burden.
The sleek bend of her body sprawling over the desktop begged attention. A clingy, dark blue dress hugged her from shoulders to mid-thigh, and he visually caressed the taut curve of her ass. Hmm, what did the French call it? Derriere. Nice. And when in France… His fingers cruised an imaginary stroll over the dangerous curves. Shifting into high gear, he hugged the corner and stepped on the accelerator, moving down around her thigh. Breathy pants encouraged his actions until—
Those breathy pants ceased, and the woman whose curves he’d just mastered in a matter of three fantasy seconds stood staring at him, green eyes narrowed in stern summation.
Conjuring a save to cover the distraction that had almost netted him the yellow flag, he tapped the paper taped over the door’s nameplate. “Snazzy d├ęcor you’ve got here, Miss Parker.”
“Cutbacks. Tightening the proverbial office belt. It works for me.” Long coils of chestnut hair danced over the spill of office ephemera as she nestled the paper coffee cup into a nook amidst the scatter. “And you have finally arrived.”
She caught his surprise and reacted, propping a manicured hand on her hip. “Seriously? How long does it take for IT to process a call for help? I know all eight private offices in this building share one tech department, but you must have more than one guy to handle service calls.”
“IT?” Nowadays, he generally put his fingers on sales figures, outlook charts, and the butter-soft leather in the company jet. Zachary Cosgrove had moved up from humble IT guy. Way up. “Oh, you assume—”

Hosted by:

Friday, May 20, 2016

Interview with Alice Rachel, UNDER GROUND

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
My series "Under Ground" takes place in dystopian New York State, where the protagonist Thia is forced into marriage with William Fox, a young man she can hardly stand. One day, Thia meets Chi, a boy born illegally, who is also part of the Underground—a rebellious group seeking to overthrow the established government of New York. If caught in their forbidden relationship, Thia and Chi could face a death sentence. Soon devastating secrets surface from Chi's past, forcing Thia to make a choice that could save her or destroy her forever. 

"Under Ground" is part of a series that contains three major novels from Thia's POV, two novellas from Stephen's POV, and other novellas and short stories developing the side characters. So far, only one novel and one novella are out. Two sequels are coming out in October.

Do you have a favorite character?
Yes, I do. My favorite character is my antagonist Stephen. He is also the twin brother of my main male protagonist Chi, born in a family that was only allowed to have one child.
Stephen is the easiest character for me to write because he has a really strong, imposing personality. He usually writes himself, whereas Thia requires a lot more work on my part. But Stephen is also the most complex of all my characters and the most heartbreaking. Writing his story often brings me to tears.

My favorite characters go in this order:
Stephen Richards (antagonist)
Chi Richards (main male protagonist)
Taylor Jones (one of the leaders of the rebellion)
Chase Martinez (third in command to Taylor)

Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
Yes, that has actually happened with many of my secondary characters. Most of them were supposed to only be side characters, but they are growing to have their own novellas or short stories. All my characters matter. They have different stories to tell, and it's really interesting for me as a writer to develop as many of them as possible.

Also, in the series, the rebels work as a team, which means that all the characters work as a united force. They each have their own role to play in the evolution and outcome of the series.
It makes writing a lot more complicated though, because I have to make sure all their time lines fit together and that all their experiences and interactions make sense.

What factors influenced your decision to go with a particular agent or publisher?
If an aspiring author wants an agent, they should browse through books similar to those that author is writing. Authors always thank their agents in the acknowledgments, so one can look them up online and contact them.
An author can't contact a publisher directly unless that publisher is targeting indie authors. The agent will be contacting the publishing houses for the writer.

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 am self-publishing all my books. I like it that way and don't plan on changing that. When I want input on how to better my writing, I ask my readers for their opinions. They are the best help I could receive since they are the ones I want to please. :-)

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)?
As mentioned above, I didn't feel comfortable working with someone else. I don't think I could have let them take so much control over my story.

I usually say that my biggest reason for self-publishing is my antagonist Stephen.
I'm not sure a regular publisher would have approved of Stephen's actions, or of the things done to him in the series, and I simply couldn't take the risk of seeing his story changed in any way.

Stephen is really important to me, just the way he is, and I wanted his story to be told as it came to me, without any polishing or sugar-coating. The things that happen to Stephen are important things to put out there and talk about. He's not a character I am willing to compromise or change in any way.
So, I would say that I self-published for Stephen.

If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
I have designed and created my own book covers. The covers I really want to work on this summer are the ones for my short stories. I didn't have time to make individual covers for them yet, and I really need to.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
I listen to music when I write my first draft. It helps me connect with the characters. When I edit, I need to focus, so I do that in complete silence.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I couldn't outline a story to save my life. I write my chapters out of order. Usually, I write the romantic and emotional scenes first. I finish with the action scenes because those are my least favorite to write. Then I piece it all together.

What have you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey?
Listen to the advice you are given. Your readers know best. You can't follow all advice, but take criticism kindly. Most advice is wise and in your best interest. I think I've always been quite open to advice and criticism in general. :-)

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Not necessarily. I find it hard to juggle my time between writing and working my full-time job. Drawing has been nearly impossible for me this year, but I'm going to have to get back to it if I want to create book covers for my short stories. :-)

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Make sure your book is carefully edited and ready to be published. Once it's out, there is no turning back.

Be close to your readers, always. Communicate with them because their attention is the best reward you can possibly get. Their time is as precious as yours.
Do a blog tour as soon as possible. Contact as many bloggers as possible.
Take criticism kindly. Most criticism is in your best interest. It will help you better your writing.
Be yourself, always.

Some fun facts about you, which do you prefer – dogs or cats? Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or Tea? Talk or Text? Day or Night?
Chocolate or Vanilla? Mmm, it depends. Chocolate for cakes, drinks, and in bars. Vanilla for ice cream.
Coffee... a LOT of it!
Text. I have a phone phobia. It takes me forever to gather the courage to return a phone call. I will text and email people before I call them. I will avoid talking on the phone as much as possible unless it's with someone I personally know.
Day. I have a daytime job, so I have to be awake during the day. When I take time off, I tend to write deep into the night though.

What’s next for you?                                                                                                                            I am currently editing my two sequels, "Standing Ground" and "Holding Ground," which I am hoping to publish this fall. I cannot wait! The secrets and spoilers are killing me. I can't wait to discuss the sequels with my readers. :-) Thank you so much for having me on your blog today. :-)

Book & Author Details:
Under Ground by Alice Rachel
(Under Ground, #1)
Publication date: October 30th 2015
Genres: Dystopia, Romance, Young Adult

Love is a taboo, a mere fantasy— foreign, unreachable, and dangerous.
Raised in a society where women have no rights, seventeen-year-old Thia Clay holds little hope for a bright future. When her parents sell her into marriage to elite member William Fox, Thia slowly gives in to despair. William is nothing but a cruel, selfish young man with no other interest than to serve his own.

Born illegally and forced to hide from the authorities his entire life, nineteen-year-old Chi Richards is an active member of the Underground—a rebellious group seeking to overthrow the government.

Chi only has one goal—to rescue his parents from the work camp they were forced into.
Meeting Thia was never part of the plan, and neither was falling in love with her.
If caught in their forbidden relationship, Thia and Chi could face a death sentence, and when devastating secrets surface from Chi’s past, Thia has to rely on her instincts to make a choice that could save her or destroy her forever.


Alice Rachel is the author of the YA Dystopian ROMANCE SERIES “Under Ground.” Originally from France, Alice Rachel moved to the United States ten years ago to live with her husband, and she now also shares her home with two really old foster guinea pigs.

Alice enjoys books of all kinds and more specifically those introducing well-written antagonists and complex protagonists. Alice also loves to draw her own book characters.

The first book of her series “Under Ground” came out in October 2015, and the sequel will be out later this year.

Alice loves to interact with all readers, so feel free to send her a Tweet.

Author links: