I'm not sure exactly how I found Melissa Wray but I am lucky to have done so. Australia produces so many wonderful things, not the least of which are writers. I am pleased that Melissa accepted my offer to stop by for a "visit" and share her experiences with us.
An excerpt and link to Chapter One of Destiny Road follows Melissa's post. -- Sophie. * * * * *Destiny Road
is my first published novel and I am very proud of it. The story is about Jessica who is 16 when she meets her father for the first time. She then makes the heartbreaking decision to leave her mum to live with her dad and get to know him better.
The idea for the story came from when I was 16 because I actually made the same decision, to live with my father for the first time. Unlike Jessica I had known him all my life but my parents divorced when I was very young. I was never able to say thank you to him for saying yes when I asked to live with him. He passed away several years ago and it has always bothered me that I could not get those words out before he died. Now, with Destiny Road
, I feel like I have said them, so hopefully he knows.
I have been extremely lucky with my road to publication. I subscribe to a bi-monthly e-zine called Buzz Words
. It was through this I saw a competition to win a publishing contract with Morris Publishing Australia
. I had originally sent my story to a manuscript assessor who gave me some great feedback. I then spent another three months playing around with my writing and added an additional 15,000 words. It was just good timing that the competition came up when I had finished polishing the story. That and my maiden name is Morris so I thought the coincidence too much to ignore! I entered the competition by sending the first four chapters off. Destiny Road
was shortlisted and I quickly sent off the entire manuscript. I could not believe it when it was accepted. I read the email about 20 times! For the record, I have submitted other stories elsewhere without luck and received the dreaded rejection notes. Destiny Road
is a story of decisions and consequence. It is a real life journey that changes the life of the main character, Jessica, in ways she couldn't imagine.
Brought up without a father, at 16 Jessica meets him for the first time. Before she has a chance to get to know him, her mother whisks her away to a new town. Leaving her life-long friends behind and starting at a new school is more than Jessica can cope with. Being threatened on her first day at her new school doesn't help at all. She struggles to fit in and begins to question her life.
And then she is faced with a huge decision – a chance to go back to her old life – but it comes at a cost. Follow Jessica's journey as she struggles to find the right path and deals with the trauma of a new life, her first relationship and growing up.Destiny Road is available here: http://www.morrispublishingaustralia.com/destiny-road.html Chapter 1
‘You look like this chick I wanna bash.’
A girl of similar age stares in my direction. A look of amusement settles as she leans casually against the metal shelter. Plum coloured curls are pulled sharply off her face with no chance of escape. The palms of her hands thump against her thighs repeatedly. Da-dump, da-dump, da-dump. She stares at me without blinking. A hint of a smirk pulls at the corner of her lips. Movement around the bus stop freezes as those nearby notices the tension in the air. The conversations abruptly end as everyone turns to look at me.
Heat rises up my neck as I turn around, hoping she is talking to someone else. I’m desperate to know it’s not me this stranger I’ve never laid eyes on, wants to beat up. My insides sink as I discover what I already knew to be true. Some leaves scatter as a breeze bursts past but there is nobody behind me. Swirling back to face my antagonist, I realise no one is within a two metre radius. Like ants, they’ve scuttled away from the danger point. Pressure builds in my body like a slingshot straining to ping. My legs feel like they will collapse at any moment.
Click on the link to read the rest of the first chapter for free! http://www.morrispublishingaustralia.com/destiny-road.html
Destiny Road Book Trailer
Dream Big … Read Often Blog
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Destiny-Road-By-Melissa-Wray/407031252661034 Thanks for allowing me to share my experience.
My name is Melissa Wray. I have always loved reading. I grew up about 600m from the local library. I spent a lot of time at that library! Some of my favourite authors growing up were Judy Blume, Enid Blyton, John Marsden, Ann M. Martin and Francine Pascal.
I grew up mostly in Geelong, with a year or two in Townsville, North Queensland. I now live in Leopold which is in the middle of Geelong and the beach. It is a pretty great place to be.
I’ve been lucky enough to live and travel overseas and see some amazing places. Some highlights included Carnivale in Venice, Italy. The venetian masks and costumes are beautiful. La Tomatina in Bunol, Spain. A tomato throwing festival not for the fainthearted. Also Mt.Sinai, Egypt. We began climbing this mountain at 2am to reach the top in time for the most spectacular sunrise.
As a primary school teacher, I am passionate about encouraging my students to enjoy reading and writing.
As a mum, I love creating stories aloud with my kids and reading to them. Nothing thrills me more when I see them reading for pleasure, even though they are yet to learn how to read properly.
I am an emerging author and I am looking forward to sharing my stories and spending many more hours creating new ones.
It’s Release Day for Hold My Hand! Hold My Hand
is an Erotic Contemporary BDSM Romance about Aubrey, a young woman filled with hurt, and William, a man who couldn't walk away. They're navigating through a relationship that may have too many hurdles... or perhaps not, as long as she can hold his hand. To celebrate, thirteen blogs will be giving Hold My Hand a shout out today.
Readers can go to each one for an additional entry into a drawing for a $20 Starbucks gift card. It’s only fitting since Aubrey and William meet at the coffee shop where she works.
There are many ways to enter but only ONE LUCKY READER will WIN. Increase your chances by visiting each blog listed below... Alyssa Halford
| Behind Closed Doors
| Bratty Addy
| Cover Reveals
| Doris O'Connor
| Gemma Parkes
| Haven's Realm
| House of Taboo
| Katherine Deane
| Liv Honeywell
| Melinda Dozier
| Romance Beckons
| Sophie Sansregret
| Sue Lyndon
Title: Hold My Hand
Author: Paloma Beck
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance
Elements: BDSM-lite, Consensual Adult Spanking
Release Date: April 1, 2013
Editor: Perk It Up Editing
Cover Design: Erin Dameron-Hill Graphics
Website: Hold My Hand
ISBN: 9781301768714 Blurb
Aubrey has been hurt in the past, discouraged and degraded by a heartless father. Still, William sees something in her that won't allow him to walk away. Instantly drawn to her but intuitive enough to take it slowly, he courts her. Then he bargains, persuades and seduces until he ensnares Aubrey with his commanding nature. He’s everything she ever needed but never had the courage to want for. Despite the fight she puts up in accepting William's lifestyle, the bonds he places on Aubrey give her a freedom she desperately needs. Together, they heal old wounds and find their perfect love. BUY LINKS Smashwords
: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/298418 Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Hold-My-Hand-ebook/dp/B00C2RDSSA/ref=la_B008XMXGGW_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364758202&sr=1-1 Excerpt © Hold My Hand, Paloma Beck, 2013
When he seated me on the edge of the chair nearest the fireplace and began to stoke the embers of the fire, I kept my eyes cast down. He made me nervous, those same nerves I felt once living under my father’s roof. No, I reminded myself again, not those nerves exactly. William told me I was beautiful so I know it’s not the same. He was nothing like my father though that tension –the tiny feeling of inadequacy I can’t quite shake- was so similar; I shied away from his gaze. Yet at the same time I craved William, his presence completely overwhelmed me.
He moved behind me, seated himself with his legs on either side of my body and pulled me down to him. My back to his front. My heat to his heat. My body to his body. I shivered, wanting nothing more than to be what he wanted me to be. I assured myself my desire to please was different this time. I was already pleasing William. He told me as much and I believed him. After all, I had to believe in something.
His fingers on my shoulders distracted me. “You’re so tense, sweet Aubrey. Won’t you just relax in my arms tonight?”
“I’ll try. I don’t relax often.”
“No, Aubrey. Your answer to me is yes, sir.”
“Yes sir,” the whisper floated from my lips on a sigh. It was such a certain response, it left no room for me to fail or disappoint. I found comfort in the statement and relaxed into his body.
“Good. Well done.” His affirmation bolstered my confidence. I’ve not received many compliments that I can recall and it felt nice. I couldn’t help but smile while the pride at such a simple act made my chest feel tight.
William aligned his body against mine so that I could feel him as part of myself. Then I realized he could feel every inch of me against him. He could feel my imperfections. I tensed, wondering what he’d think of me when he got a closer look. I was no longer overweight but now I was slight and never held any real beauty. When he realized this, my time with him will most likely end.
He molded my shoulders and back with his strong fingers. “Relax into me and let me took care of you,” William tickled my neck with his words and a tiny shiver ran along my spine.
“I thought it would be the other way around.”
I felt his laugh against my neck. “You think too much. Time for thinking was over. Now simply trust in me to take care of you.”
His warmth enveloped me. I was caught in him, absolutely ensnared by all that he was. About the Author
Paloma Beck is a Romance Author living a life of contradiction... she's a happily married carpooling mom writing erotic romance. It's almost naughty! Paloma writes in both the Contemporary and Paranormal realms, journaling the stories her characters tell her, and they are anything but PG. She dabbles in vampires, witches, ménage, spanking and bdsm - all in her books, of course. Paloma believes a daily dose of espresso and a good book make any day better. Connect with Paloma WEBSITE
: http://palomabeck.weebly.com TUMBLR
: http://palomabeck.tumblr.com/ TWITTER
: https://twitter.com/PalomaBeck FACEBOOK
: http://www.facebook.com/PalomaBeckAuthor PINTEREST
: http://www.pinterest.com/PalomaBeck GOODREADS
: http://www.goodreads.com/PalomaBeck BLOG
: http://RomanceBeckons.blogspot.com Paloma will be doing a full two-week release tour for Hold My Hand.
You can find more information about her tour at her blog, Romance Beckons
. She’ll be giving away a-book-a-day and the chance to name the pet William purchases for Aubrey in book two, Heal My Soul.
Don’t forget to enter today’s contest. ENTER NOW!
VOTING CLOSES MARCH 31, 2013...
The Romance Reviews has nominated THE SELKIE for Best Paranormal Romance. Please stop by there and drop a vote for this lovely scorching hot book. http://www.theromancereviews.com/bookvote.php About THE SELKIE
This was supposed to be her year. However, after losing her job and discovering her fiancé cheating, Maggie Collins has her doubts. When her grandmother dies, she hits rock bottom. Maggie travels to her grandmother’s home in Orkney, Scotland to sort through her gran’s things, only to discover the old woman has left her a seal pelt as her inheritance. She also learns that others are after the pelt.
To add to her frustration, Maggie’s dreams are filled with luscious images of a long-haired man, images that draw her to the magical beaches in Orkney. Although she’s lost her trust in men, this dream man inspires her with a lust she’s never known before.
Calan Kirk has also been dreaming. Dreaming of Maggie, the mortal woman who arouses him as no other woman ever has. Meeting her in the flesh when she arrives in Orkney is nothing short of spontaneous sexual combustion. But she is a human, and not to be trusted. He needs the seal pelt, not a red-haired temptress.
As a thief ransacks Maggie’s grandmother’s house, Maggie and Calan are thrust together. They must search for the animal skin, a mythical relic which once found, will either bring them together or rip them apart forever. Excerpt
She was attempting to stand on her wobbly legs, only to fall back down on her bottom, when she heard the sound of splashing water. Thinking it was her seal, Maggie turned to look.
Her breath caught in her throat. It wasn’t the animal at all.
It was a man. He was rising out of the waves, walking toward her. She froze. He was nude, utterly nude, and was staring at her with overflowing intimacy. As if they’d had, God help her, relations.
And she realized, with sudden panic, they’d had! In her dreams. He was the seal-man from all her sex dreams.
Her first instinct was to call for help, but there was no one near. And then she realized with frightening awareness that she didn’t want any help anyway. Glued to her spot, she couldn’t help but drink him in.
He was beautiful, if unnervingly wet and naked. He had long, shiny, brown hair that hung down past his shoulders. His face could have belonged on an ad for expensive cologne, and he had a body to match. Sculpted shoulders gave way to arms corded in muscle. His defined chest was blanketed by a smattering of sparse, brown hair that led tantalizingly to his rock-hard abs.
Maggie held her breath as her gaze traveled lower on his body, taking in trim calves and thighs a quarterback would envy. And, she noted with simultaneous hunger and horror, his penis was the biggest she’d ever had the pleasure of seeing. It was thick and long and glistening with the droplets of water that yet cascaded over his body. And it seemed to be reaching for her. She gulped, and forced herself to look back up at his face.
There was a faint glow about his skin, a shimmery aura. Dismissing it as a trick of the moonlight, she shook her head.
He was almost upon her, and his full lips were taut in a teasing grin. Maybe he was a surfer who’d lost not only his board, but his shorts in the waves. She knew she should be frantic, but wasn’t. There was something in his brown eyes that was so familiar, so soothing, even as they swept over her own body with lustful appreciation.
He stopped in front of her, and stood boldly, unashamed of his glorious nakedness. She managed to spit out one hushed word. “You.”
“You,” was his equally awed reply.BUY LINKS (you've seen the cover... YUM) http://www.lsbooks.com/the-selkie-p698.php http://www.amazon.com/The-Selkie-ebook/dp/B0095M6R7O/ref=la_B007X5P4I8_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347123491&sr=1-1 https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-theselkie-930496-140.html
The Romance Reviews has selected Pleasing the Colonel by Renee Rose as a finalist for the 2012 Best Erotic Romance – Historical
category.To vote for Pleasing the Colonel at The Romance Reviews, click here: http://www.theromancereviews.com/bookvote.php
A regency spanking romance, Pleasing the Colonel is about a governess who finds herself corporeally disciplined by her employer, a military Colonel. Charged with sexual tension, the book explores the development of their relationship and the intimacy forged through punishment. About Pleasing the Colonel
Trapped in a crevice after a carriage accident, Amanda Downy is not sure whether she'll ever see the light of day again. With her tongue loosened by a fellow passenger's flask of brandy, she reveals several well-guarded secrets about her life as a governess at Colonel Watson's residence, including the fact that she falsified her references to gain her employment.
The next morning Amanda is horrified when she finds that the passenger who saved her life after the carriage crash is sitting at the breakfast table at Colonel Watson’s estate, and it appears that he is the long-absent Colonel himself! Amanda is certain that she will be immediately dismissed, but the Colonel has a different sort of discipline in mind for her…
The Colonel soon learns that in spite of the deceitful manner with which she obtained the position, Miss Downy is an excellent governess and is much loved by his children. After a firm dose of the leather strap on her bare bottom, he lets her know that she may keep her position as long as she is truthful with him in the future. As time passes, though, the Colonel finds himself thinking of Amanda as he has not thought about any woman since his beloved wife passed away. Though he has no intention of ever marrying again, he cannot deny his growing need for her.
Amanda has a longstanding dislike for stiff military men, yet she warms to the Colonel, discovering that underneath his gruff exterior he is kind and generous. As she wonders if the attraction is mutual, another suitor makes his interest known. Should she accept his offer? Or should she wait to see if the Colonel will ever make his move?
This book contains sexual scenes and spankings, including domestic discipline in a historical setting. If such material offends you, please do not buy this book! Excerpt
“Where have you been, Miss Downy?” She had just emerged from the cellar steps wearing a distinct look of guilt on her face.
She sucked in her breath. “In the cellar, having a word with Julie,” she said quickly.
He could smell ale on her. “Have you been drinking?” he demanded, his eyes narrowing suspiciously.
“Certainly not!” she retorted, drawing herself up.
Her indignation seemed truthful. He looked at her closely. “You smell of ale.”
“Oh…” She looked flustered and glanced down at her dress. “I… I guess I spilled a little on my dress,” she stammered.
He pursed his lips. “Who else is down there?”
She hesitated and looked like she didn't want to tell him.
“You promised me the truth, remember?”
She nodded and swallowed. “Violet and Jane,” she confessed. His house staff. Probably down there gossiping about the family. He was disappointed that Miss Downy would join them. Actually, he was surprised to find that he felt almost hurt about it.
“Tell me again what you were doing down there,” he said grimly.
She took a deep breath and then spoke in a rush. “Well, Julie stopped by my room after putting the children to sleep and invited me down. I agreed—I didn't really know what to expect. I quickly realized my mistake but it took me a little bit to extricate myself politely.” She gave him a pleading look, which melted all his irritation.
He hid a smile. “I see,” he said mildly. “Then I don't need to tell you that it is entirely unseemly for you to be in my cellar with the staff?”
“No, no. Not at all. I understand that completely, Colonel, and I apologize.” She looked relieved.
“Very well. Good night.” Somehow, as she turned to go, his hand moved of its own accord to deliver a sharp slap on her backside. He froze, realizing that he certainly should not have done that. She had frozen, too, but did not turn to look at him. She started toward the door, only turning back when she reached it. “Did you require assistance in the kitchen? Shall I make you a cup of tea?” she asked.
He could feel his ears growing hot. “Thank you, Miss Downy, that won't be necessary,” he said stiffly.
She curtsied, and he could swear he saw a slight smirk playing on her lips as she turned to go. He sat down at the table and put his head in his hands. What on earth had caused him to do such a thing? Amazon
| Amazon UK
| Barnes & Noble To vote for Pleasing the Colonel at The Romance Reviews, click here: http://www.theromancereviews.com/bookvote.php About Renee Rose
An erotic romance author, Renee did not come out of the closet as a spanko until she published her spanking romance Betrothed. A lifelong writer, she has a B.A. in creative writing from Knox College, where she won the Davenport prize for both fiction and poetry, and the Lorraine Smith prize for literary criticism. She spent thirteen years in technical writing before she found a way to incorporate her deepest darkest spanking fantasies into fiction and express a part of her that longed to see the light. She is now passionate about supporting others in accepting and exploring their kink, whatever that may be.
Please drop by her blog at http://www.reneeroseromance.com
and join the conversation!
As the only child of notorious mob boss, Tony “The Chief” Azzari, Antonietta lives her life by this mantra. Toni never questions the world where decisions are made for her, until she meets Harley-Davidson riding bad boy, Braxton Malone. Ever since their fiery first kiss all those years ago, she can’t deny the desire to submit to his control.
Brax always knew he’d be walking a dangerous tightrope if he fell for Toni, but like a moth to a flame, he couldn't stay away. Barely surviving the wrath of the mob within an inch of his life, a scorned Brax has vowed never again to allow a woman under his skin.
Three years later, Brax is a top Dom at The Satin Rose Experience, New York’s posh BDSM club. When Toni shows up to fulfill her fantasy of submission before being forced into a loveless marriage, that vow is in just as much jeopardy as his life. Can they overcome the crimes of passion from their past and change Toni’s fate forever? Excerpt
Toni lay in darkness, left alone with her thoughts and listening to the air flowing in through her nose and out through her mouth as Mia had instructed. Candles were one of Toni’s demands, especially when she discovered the submissive pose would push her ass high in the air. She couldn’t handle a harsh spotlight on her full cheeks. Even though she didn’t want to admit it, the dim lights also served the purpose of keeping her Dom of choice, Mick, as anonymous as possible. Not that she needed candles for that; his last minute demand was to blindfold her. Something that they hadn’t talked about while reviewing her soft and hard limits.
Toni wasn’t sure how much time had passed since Mia left the room after preparing her for the scene. She tested the restraints connected to her wrist bindings. Only an inch or two of slack allowed her to shift slightly on the sumptuous bed. Crisp linens cradled her shins, which were spread slightly. Deep breaths pushed her leather-covered breasts into the soft mattress. Her position of submission caused the leather strap between her backside cheeks to tighten against her sensitized folds.
The click of the lock and slide of the door caused every nerve ending to stand at attention. Heavy footfalls sounded on the suite’s plush carpeting. Concentrating on her breathing, Toni willed her heart to stay within the confines of her chest.
Inhale through her nose. Fingers caressed the back of her calf and eased her shoe off her right foot.
Exhale through her mouth. Her other shoe slid from her foot and a single finger drew a slow line down the bottom of her foot.
Inhale. The ticking of a zipper filled her ears.
Exhale. Shit, the breathing thing wasn’t working.
Inhale and hold. She squeezed her eyes shut. I can do this. I can do this.
The floodgates opened with a sobbing exhale. “Fire! Fire. I’m sorry. I can’t. I just...can’t. I thought I could. I thought it would be like before. But it’s not.”
“Before?” a low voice whispered. There was something about that voice.
“Yes, before. With Brax. I’m sorry. I just can’t, not like this." A sob wracked her chest and tears soaked her blindfold.
“Shh, it’s okay,” Hands stroked her hair enveloping her into a comforting sensation that was as familiar as breathing. She picked her head up and perked her ears toward the source.
“It’s me, Antonietta. You’re safe.”
The bed dipped next to her and the blindfold slipped off her head. She blinked a few times to focus her eyes.
“What are you doing here?”
“Come on, you know me a little better than to think I’d sit back idly and allow some random man have his way with you.”
Toni sat up on her heels causing her tethered hands to rise awkwardly.
“Here. Let’s get you out of these.” Brax unhooked the restraints from her bindings and took her hands into his. He untied the satin cords and slowly uncoiled them from her wrists. Rubbing them in between his hands, memories came flooding back. Back when she was his.
“You look beautiful,” he said, surveying her body.
She focused on his face, attempting to sear every feature of him into her memory: the planes and light stubble of his cheeks, his tousled hair, and his eyes that had always been able to read her like a book from the first day they met.
There was so much she wanted to say, but it was pointless. “One night is all we have.”
Brax took her chin between his thumb and index finger and pulled her close. “I know. Get up and get dressed.”
“Where are we going?”
“Your fantasy of submission starts now. No questions,” he said and playfully slapped her ass. Grabbed his jacket from the chair, he strode to the door before turning around.
“You have ten minutes. Wear a dress and these.” He pulled a flash of red and lace from the jacket’s pocket and tossed it to Toni. Evernight
About Sandra Bunino
Sandra Bunino is a numbers crunching business professional by day who stays up past her bedtime thanks to her oh-so-sexy imagination. Who needs sleep, anyway? Sandra is constantly searching for different ways to achieve a heart-pumping, stomach-flipping, breath-catching reaction from her readers.
These days, Sandra lives on a wooded mountaintop not far from New York City with her family. She always looks forward to hearing from her readers and she may be contacted at sbunino[at]gmail[dot]com. As a social media junkie in need of a ten-step program, you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter (@sandrabunino).
Stalk Sandra here:Website
Remember, following is sexy!
A review and excerpt of Sparkle
is available here.
A Q + A with Cara Alwill Leyba
is here. Starting the New Year Right
There is one surefire way to guarantee that this will be "your year" - and that is your attitude
. If you believe that good things are coming your way, they are! It's really just as simple as that. Let me explain.
Setting intentions and goals are extremely important, and it doesn't just have to happen on New Year's Eve. I believe we should constantly be re-examining our lives and looking for ways to reinvent whatever it is not working. Self re-invention is one of the most beautiful things we can do. And it goes beyond a haircut or a new pair of shoes. If you're stuck in a rut, truly take the time out to examine your life. If something isn't serving you, let it go. Figure out exactly what you want more of. Create a new vision. Don't conform to what people around you think you should be doing. There is only one person you need to impress in this world, and that's you!
A really fun exercise that I have my clients do is answer a series of questions. Grab a cup of tea, or a glass of wine (whatever you like!) and find a calm, centered place where you have some peace and quiet. Then write down your answers on a piece of paper:
1. What's working (let's start with the positive, shall we?) What do you love about your life right now? What feels good?
2. What's not working? What absolutely has to go in 2013?
3. How are you going to get rid of all the things that aren't serving you? Give details.
4. Areas that need a little love? What's something that could use a little fixing or extra care?
5. Game plan for improving each of those areas. Be specific!
These questions should get the wheels turning and help you take a good, hard look at your life. So many of us are quick to say, "I'm miserable!" or "Life sucks!" but unless we really write all those things down, in detail, and come up with a game plan to make things better, those complaints are all in vein.
Your life, and your happiness, is in your hands. Nobody else's. Now get out there and sparkle!
About Sparkle As women, we have become professional self-critics. We've become so convinced by society that we need to attain a level of perfection that just isn't real. Whether it's trying to get skinnier, look younger, get that promotion, please our parents, get fuller lips or rid ourselves of cellulite -- we're on a never ending mission to change and it always makes us feel like crap.
Instead, why not focus on all the fabulous qualities we already possess? There is so much to celebrate when we look at all of our accomplishments. In this straight-up girlfriend's guide, lifestylist and wellness coach Cara Alwill Leyba encourages women to discover what makes them sparkle so that they can design the lives they desire and deserve. So raise your glass and toast yourself. You're about to start shimmering, shining, and dazzling every day. Because isn't everything better when it sparkles?
As women, we have become professional self-critics. We've become so convinced by society that we need to attain a level of perfection that just isn't real. Whether it's trying to get skinnier, look younger, get that promotion, please our parents, get fuller lips or rid ourselves of cellulite -- we're on a never ending mission to change and it always makes us feel like crap.
Instead, why not focus on all the fabulous qualities we already possess? There is so much to celebrate when we look at all of our accomplishments. In this straight-up girlfriend's guide, lifestylist and wellness coach Cara Alwill Leyba encourages women to discover what makes them sparkle so that they can design the lives they desire and deserve. So raise your glass and toast yourself. You're about to start shimmering, shining, and dazzling every day. Because isn't everything better when it sparkles?
About Cara Alwill Leyba
Cara Alwill Leyba is a best selling author, and certified life and wellness coach from New York City who empowers women to live their most effervescent lives and celebrate themselves. She encourages women to indulge in the things that make them happy, and swears that every woman can live a "champagne life," no matter how busy she is or how tight her budget.
Her blog, The Champagne Diet
, boasts a following of thousands of loyal readers and has been featured in Glamour, Shape, Cafe Mom, Daily Mail UK, MSN Australia, AOL UK Lifestyle, and a host of other publications worldwide. Cara's writing has been featured in The Huffington Post, xJane, Mind Body Green, MTV News, and many other sites.
Cara regularly appears on the “Ask Dr. Fritz” radio show on WWRL New York, where she helps host Dr. Fritz answer questions from callers about love, career, family, relationships and more. She also hosts her own lifestyle and wellness show, "Uncork Your Best Self" on Blog Talk Radio.
Cara's first book, SPARKLE, became an immediate #1 bestseller on Amazon in both the Happiness and Self-Esteem categories upon hours of its release. She celebrated the release of her book with a book signing in New York City this past fall.
When she’s not popping bubbly, blogging, or working with her coaching clients, Cara spends her days leading a digital advertising team at MTV Networks. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and dog-child. For more on Cara visit www.LiveCreateSparkle.com
. Her blog can be found at www.TheChampagneDiet.com
A guest post by Ana Vitsky
Would you like a $50 gift certificate to Blushing Books
, a custom-written short story by Breanna Hayse, or one of 22 free books from 14 authors? Come and play Ana’s Advent Calendar
Do you remember, if you were lucky, having an advent calendar as a child? The traditional kind had small, perforated paper windows to open for each day of December. Each day’s window revealed a small surprise. Usually it was a piece of chocolate or candy. I never had one, but I envied the children who did. Guess what? We’re going to have an Advent Calendar, but we’re going to do it my way!
How will the advent calendar work, Ana style? There will be rules. Of course there will be rules.
- Sign up on my blog. Be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you are a winner! This will ensure that I track your comments to give you credit for each day that you play. If you have any trouble leaving a comment, please let me know immediately by email. If you do not sign up, you will not get credit for your entries!
- Play daily. Leave a comment responding to a regular post* (Monday Morning Fika or Six Sentence Sunday) or answering a daily Advent Calendar question. Only one entry per day will count as an entry, but you are welcome and encouraged to leave additional comments as part of the conversation.
- Check for the winner list on Christmas Day! Those who participate the most will win!
Yup, that’s it! Oh, you want more rules? Well, if you insist. ;)
· Surprise Checks!
Prizes will be awarded during random “surprise checks” throughout the month. It may be the first person to post on a certain day, a randomly selected commenter on a randomly selected day, or the first person to mention a secret word, or anything else. Surprise!
· Perfect Attendance award!
Everyone who comments every day (by midnight EST on the day of each post) of the month will win a small surprise.
· Free book days!
A few authors will be offering one or more books free on select days in December. Check for details on the blog throughout the month. *GOOB (Get Off Our Butts) post comments do not count toward the Advent Calendar entries. Any comment that has been copy-pasted or contains advertising material, is offensive, or does not address the post or question will be disqualified. Participants must be age 18 or older, and winners must claim their prize within one week or it will be re-assigned. Prize Pool +$50 Gift Certificate to Blushing Books +The Vengeance of Mrs. Claus (THREE copies!) by your Advent Calendar host, Anastasia Vitsky The Birthday Wish and Underwear Probation by Celeste Jones Deathless Love by Renee Rose *To Love a Woman and The Point of it All by Jade Cary Jinxie's Orchids by Maren Smith Charla's Shadow by Robin Smith Red Hots by Emma K. Gardner Cowboys in Charge by Starla Kaye *Traditional Love, Traditional Terms, and Of Yesterday by Alta Hensley *Action and Cutaway by Liz Borino Becky's Last Chance by Constance Masters Tough Choice by Patty Devlin +A Firm Husband, +Karyn and the Crigon, and Dark Without You by Sue Lyndon An autographed, custom-written spanking short story by Breanna HaysePrizes may be added or deleted throughout the month.
*Donated by Lazy Day Publishing
+Donated by Blushing Books
About Nights of Steel
by Nico Rosso You'll want to read to the end, if only because there is a raffle to win a copy
Enter the world of The Ether Chronicles with Nico Rosso’s latest sexy steampunk offering, Nights of Steel
. “Wild” West takes on a whole new meaning in Rosso’s version of America: airships roam the skies, and genetically engineered Man O’ Wars wreak havoc—and that’s nothing compared to the rising tension between bounty hunters Anna Blue and Jack Hawkins. This book is all about action—of every kind—and between the cool-as-heck characters, the surreal steampunk landscape, and the electrifying chemistry between the two protagonists, Nights of Steel is a must-read for fans of romance with an action edge!
Bounty hunter Anna Blue always finds her fugitive. But her latest mission is filled with mystery-a high price for an eccentric inventor. And her biggest rival, Jack Hawkins-a startlingly handsome, entirely unsettling man whose abilities match her own– is hunting the same bounty. Neither will back down.
When a rogue Man O’ War flies his airship into the California skies, guns blazing, Anna and Jack are forced to team up or die. But it isn’t the danger that has them ready to flare like gunpowder. They’ve circled each other for years as competitors only. Fighters and outsiders, they never thought they’d find a kindred soul. But as hot passion, and raw need draw them together, can they survive this mission long enough to track the most elusive fugitives…their hearts?
Excerpt: CHAPTER ONE The remote hills south of Thornville, California.
“The only good place for a man is on the other end of my gun.” Anna Blue cocked the hammer of her .45, keeping the green dot of her prismatic sight hovering over “Dirty” Danny Malone’s heart. His partner in crime, Ron “Rat” Welles, stood on the other side of their little dead campfire. Anna had heard Malone was fast, but she had no doubt she could put a bullet in him before he reached the pistol on his hip. And he knew it, too.
Instead, Malone shot off his mouth again. “You ain’t too plain. Wash some of that trail dust off and you could be a pretty little flower.”
She kept her gun steady. The sun was high, but her tinted spectacles kept the glare down, as well as letting her see the green dot of her pistol’s sight. “I know you boys are stupid, but do you really think you’re the first to try to use what’s in your breeches to distract me from taking you in?”
Malone spoke up, thumbs casually hitched in his belt, but ready to draw if he had to. “Might want to reconsider that, sweetheart. A lot of things a man can do for you. A man like me.”
She laughed, but it didn’t break the tension in her body. She’d done this a hundred times—more, even. No one was better than she was at running down bounties. The image of a man with intense eyes, broad shoulders, and a two-gun rig flashed through her mind. Maybe one man was as good as she was.
“That’s right.” Welles’s nasal voice seemed to rattle in the pine needles around the campsite. “Laugh a little. Live a little. Got a bottle of corn liquor we could all share.”
“You boys could never earn the right to drink with me.” She hadn’t had a drink with a man in years. Something like that, sharing the heat of whiskey, the calm it soaked into her nerves, was more intimate than the tumbles she’d had with strangers.
Malone sucked a breath, shaking his head in disappointment. “Never met a more ornery woman.”
“That’s your problem,” she said. “Gotta stop thinking of me as a woman and start realizing I’m the bounty hunter who’s bringing your sorry hide in.”
Malone’s eyes narrowed. She saw the tendons twitch on the back of his hand. Welles shifted his feet in the dirt. Now they were serious. Even the horses that were tied on the edge of the campsite had the sense to paw at the ground and nicker nervously.
She kept the green dot on Dirty Danny’s chest. “What’s your play, Malone? Boxed yourselves in. You can’t run north. Up that way is Thornville, and everyone knows the law doesn’t even let mosquitos bite in that town. The ocean’s to the west, hunting parties to the east, coming up from New Mexico where they really want you dead.” Malone glanced in all the directions she mentioned, a tic developing at the side of his eye. She didn’t let up. “I imagine you wanted to run south, but I’m standing here.”
Welles’s nickname of “Rat” became abundantly clear when he showed his sharp front teeth in a mean sneer. “Not for long.”
He flinched toward his pistol and she swung her gun to aim at him. No more than ten minutes ago, she’d snuck up on these two fugitives, having picked up their trail when they crossed from the Nevada territory into California. The men were caught so unawares they didn’t even have a second to grab their hats.
“Make a play for your gun, Rat.” She kept her voice even. “I don’t hold any bounty papers on you, won’t lose any money if I leave you here for the vultures.”
“But I’ll lose money.” A third man stepped into the clearing. Silently.
How the hell did he sneak up on her? No one in boots moved with that kind of stealth. Besides her.
Taking on two shooters was a challenge. Three was a whole new deal from a stacked deck. Instinctually, she pulled the small revolver she kept in the small of her back and aimed it at Malone while swinging her pistol from Rat to the new man.
Then she understood how he’d come upon them with the silent ease of a true predator. The newcomer was Jack Hawkins.
At well over six feet tall, the black man filled the campsite with his presence. Hell, he even seemed to challenge the nearby mountains for dominance of the skyline. His dark striped shirt and buttoned wool vest hardly seemed to contain the muscles across his broad frame. A leather harness across his chest and shoulders held a weapon at his back. The small brim of his crisp hat shaded his face, but his intense eyes still pierced through. A two-gun rig was buckled across his trim hips.
One of those .44s was in his left hand, cocked and ready. His right hand was empty, but still looked like a weapon. His sleeves were rolled up, allowing sunlight to glint off the brass and black enameled metal that made up his thumb and first two fingers. It was some kind of mechanical wonder, extending into a steel band around his wrist. More metal rods climbed up his forearm and ended in a band just beneath his elbow.
But those eyes—they were more incredible than the technology that built a human hand out of metal. Like lightning striking gunpowder, his gaze was quick, piercing, and dangerous. And right now he was looking straight at her, into her, as if there weren’t two armed men intent on not going to jail between them.
This is what it was always like when they were within range of each other. Two of the best bounty hunters in the Western U.S. Of course they kept their eyes on each other. Often enough they were tracking the same bounty. Never came down to a fight for the prize, though. She or Hawkins would collect before the other had a chance to get the drop. Standing there now, however, looking back at him, she felt his presence and how it made her pulse race faster in more than her trigger finger.
“Anna Blue.” Hawkins’s voice was low, nearly a growl.
It was like stepping into a clearing and coming face-to-face with a predator just before it made its kill.
Anna growled back. “You’re not taking in my bounty, Hawkins.”
Jack had seen plenty of predators, but never a beautiful hunter like Anna Blue. Beautiful? He questioned himself as he took another step into the campsite. But the answer was yes. She wasn’t one of those pretty flowers from the dance halls, gliding in frothy skirts. Anna stood strong in tall miner boots. Her denim trousers hugged her hips. Even in breeches, there was no doubt she was a woman. He never thought a woman in trousers could light a fire in him, but Anna changed his mind about that. Damn if she didn’t have to be his rival.
“Malone? He’s all yours.” His gun was steady and level on Welles. “I’m here for Rat.”
Rat didn’t look like he was going easily. “I might have a say in that, boy.”
He’d heard it before. Too many times. His teeth clenched. But he wouldn’t let a piece of dung like Rat rattle him. “You might bleed to death from a .44-sized hole I put in you. So watch your mouth.”
While Welles took all the attention, Malone reached for his pistol. Anna swung her gun around, aiming precisely. Her .45 barked before Malone gripped his gun. Birds scattered from the trees and the horses tested the knots of their lead ropes. The single bullet streaked across the campsite and smashed into Malone’s gun. Sparks flew, and he nearly jumped out of his boots.
Silence came heavy down on the campsite.
Anna broke it. “Can’t cock a gun with no hammer.” She moved her aim a little below Malone’s belt buckle. “Guess where I’m aiming now.”
Jack let out a laugh. But his mouth was dry, and he didn’t have a lot of breath. Watching her move and shoot was like fine art. Better than anything they could hang in a museum.
Her razor-sharp aim was a wonder to behold. “Guess all them tall tales are authentic. Heard you put a bullet in the barrel of Junior Winter’s rifle before he could fire. Blew the whole rig up.”
“It’s truth.” She seemed to conserve her words like her bullets. “I’d tell you to ask Junior, but he ain’t talking from six feet down.”
Rat tried to laugh, too, but it only came out as a strained wheeze. “Ain’t she the most prickly filly you ever seen?”
Holstering his gun, Jack approached Rat. Knowing Anna paid attention, Jack put a little extra swagger in it.
Rat’s smile wavered as Hawkins came closer. He’d seen it before in a hunted man. Rat teetered between trying to talk his way out of it, run, or fight.
“She’s the best bounty hunter I’ve ever seen,” Jack said.
A decision hit Rat. It was a mistake, but he was already reaching for his gun. Jack balled his left hand into a fist and slammed it into Rat’s jaw. The bounty had no chance. He stumbled backward, grasping at the air. Dry pine needles scattered as he landed heavy on the ground. He groaned a little and rolled from side to side, but he was definitely down for the count.
Jack sneered, pulling the gun from Rat’s holster and the knife from his boot. “She’s the best bounty hunter besides me.”
Anna gave a wry laugh and muttered, “Cocky son of a bitch.” She maintained her aim on Malone, but her attention was on Jack.
He moved aside the shortened sabre on his belt so he could pull a pair of shackles from one of the many pouches.
Her voice grew louder. “Spend a lot of time staring in the mirror, Hawkins?”
He didn’t look up from shackling Rat as he boasted, “Who wouldn’t want to gaze at this man?”
“I’m sure there are plenty of people with their sights lined up on you.”
He stood from his task, fixing her with his gaze. Her eyes were hard, but she didn’t seem ready to look away from him. He reached up with his right hand and turned his wrist slightly, making the mechanical fingers pinch the trim brim of his hat. Then he winked, like giving her a shot from a hidden pistol.
If it had any impact, she didn’t show it. The way she handled herself with Malone, stonewalling him, Jack wouldn’t be surprised if bullets and ether-powered cannon shells bounced off her.
He cocked his head toward Malone. “You just going to let him stand there and sweat, or you going to bring him in?”
If Malone had even dreamt of reaching for his broken gun, Jack knew she would’ve been able to pull the trigger first. She tore her eyes from Jack and turned all her attention back to her bounty.
“Left hand,” she commanded. “Reach across and take out your gun.” Malone started to move and she cautioned, “Slow or dead, get it?”
Malone grumbled, “I get it.”
What on Earth could resist her? Seemed Anna’s demands would make the sequoias stand up straighter. Malone followed orders well, gingerly unholstering his pistol and tossing it on the ground in front of him. He pulled out the rest of his weapons without her urging. The guns and knives jangled into a heap in the dry pine needles.
Stealing little glances at Jack, she made Malone walk backward a few paces before turning around and getting to his knees with his hands in the air. She shackled his wrists behind his back and holstered her gun.
Jack could stand there and watch her work all day. He knew the kind of bounties she’d brought in. Her confidence was warranted. Her skills were as sharp as legend said. And for the first time in longer than he knew, she made him remember what it was like to have a hunger for something he couldn’t have. As silently as he arrived, Hawkins slipped into the trees surrounding the campsite.
Distant thunder rippled over the clear sky, but it wasn’t a coming storm. It was the sound of Hawkins’s engine-cycle. She’d noticed it on the street before, but never flying with its ether tank activated. The eight-foot machine glided in wide circles over the campsite.
It didn’t seem like Rat had ever seen the engine-cycle before, though. Still dazed, he scuttled backward in the dirt until he ran his back into a tree. “Oh, sweet Father in heaven, have mercy on my poor soul.”
She watched the engine-cycle circle tighter, looking like a bird of prey’s demon skeleton. “I’m sure he won’t.”
When Anna was a child, sneaking away from the orphanage to marvel at the fantastic inventions displayed at the county fair, she saw attempts to rig a small steam engine to a bicycle frame. The contraption would sputter in circles, belching smoke and looking like it was ready to explode at any second. With the advent of tetrol, that miracle fuel pressed by the Chinese from the soya bean, the technology could actually translate from the inventor’s mind to the real world.
Hawkins’s engine-cycle was a perfect example. Rather than a dream come to life, it was more like a lawless man’s worst nightmare. Enameled black steel made up the long frame. Brass fittings shined in the sun. Hawkins took meticulous care of the vehicle. Maybe because it was built with the same materials as the apparatus that made up half his hand, the engine-cycle looked like an extension of Jack Hawkins’s body.
Malone muttered, “I’m sorry, Rat. Sorry for what he’s going to do to you.”
Twenty feet in the air, Hawkins sat in the small leather seat, thick arms outstretched to reach the handlebars. Extending forward, between him and the front wheel, was a long engine. It rumbled, shaking and cranking out power to the propeller spinning in the back of the engine-cycle. The back of the frame was strapped down with saddlebags and cases of leather and canvas. Being a bounty hunter meant traveling with your home. If you couldn’t carry it, it wasn’t yours.
Unexpected emotion fluttered open in her. Hawkins lived exactly as she did. The loneliness of the existence ached. She quickly pushed the thought away.
She nudged Malone with her boot, bringing his attention to her. “What makes you think you got it any better?”
His lips quivered. “Nothing . . . ma’am.”
Hawkins hadn’t put on his goggles, so he squinted against the wind as he dove the engine-cycle toward the ground. The propelling fan kicked up dirt and leaves, creating a small storm that settled around Hawkins and his machine. Once it rested on two wheels, he killed the fan and let the engine idle. It growled like an animal.
He swung out the kickstand with the heel of his black boot and dismounted. As he extended a retractable metal and canvas sidecar from the cycle, Rat continued whispering prayers for mercy.
Hawkins pointed at the sidecar. “Stand up and get in there.”
Rat merely shook his head.
His temper didn’t flare, but the menace was clear in Hawkins’s deep voice. “Count yourself lucky I didn’t use my right hand to deck you. I once used it to punch clean through a steel suit Professor Bates built to protect him while knocking over banks.”
The inventor and his steam-powered thieves had made the news in several counties. She knew he’d been captured, but always assumed it took the might of the army to bring him in. But she wasn’t about to feed Hawkins’s ego by telling him that.
Hawkins pointed Rat toward the sidecar. “You sure as hell don’t want me to put you in there.”
“No, I don’t.”
Anna couldn’t help but laugh. “Sounds more like “mouse” than Rat.”
Hawkins shot her a look. This wasn’t a man who liked being interrupted. Too bad; she shrugged it off. She had her own business to attend to.
Putting her hand on the butt of her pistol, she leaned close to Malone. “I’m going to get my ride. You’re not going to give me the same kind of trouble Rat’s giving Hawkins, are you?”
Malone swallowed hard and shook his head.
Walking from the small campsite, she heard Hawkins continue to threaten Rat, but the bounty sounded petrified by fear and wouldn’t move. She couldn’t keep a small smile from her lips; served Hawkins right for thinking so highly of himself.
Through the trees and over a small ridge, she found where she’d landed her engine-trike. It was downwind of the campsite, so they wouldn’t hear or smell the engine on the approach. She climbed into the familiar saddle of the three-wheeled vehicle. After having her nerves jangled by being so close to Hawkins, it was calming to have the handlebars and control levers of her trike just where they were supposed to be.
She pulled the choke knob and yanked on the starter cable. The pistons cranked, but didn’t start up. Another try on the starter and the engine turned over, blooming heat in front of her.
Twisting the release valve started the catalyst in the ether tanks. They hummed to life next to the rear wheels. The suspension springs creaked as the whole frame lifted off the ground. A quick double check told her that all her gear was still secure. Like Hawkins, she rode with her life rolled up in leather and canvas, strapped tight.
She squeezed the clutch, dropped the gear lever into flying mode, and felt the air pulled around her by the propeller fans on the side supports. A long breath filled her lungs. Rising off the hard earth was the best freedom she ever knew. For a long time, she’d only imagined scraping her feet for countless miles on the dirt until she was dead. No grave. It seemed that there wasn’t even a place for her in the ground. But there was a place for her above it.
Turning the throttle gave more power to the fans, pushing her higher. Tree branches brushed past, then gave way to the open sky. It was a short trip, so like Hawkins, she didn’t put her goggles on. But her tinted spectacles helped some, cutting down the bright sunlight.
The treetops parted into the small campsite. She circled overhead, watching Hawkins drag Rat toward the engine-cycle.
She called down, “I’ll give you a hand if you split the bounty with me.”
Even from thirty feet up she felt the scowl on Hawkins’s face. “Don’t need no hand.” He balled a fist in Rat’s shirt and hauled him up to his knees.
Malone was still where she left him. She dove lower toward him, keeping her eyes on Hawkins. “You look like a greenhorn bringing in your first wanted.”
Hawkins lifted Rat higher and tossed him into the sidecar. “Just a shy, reluctant bride.”
She brought the engine-trike down hard and jumped from the seat to face Hawkins. “I ever see you treating a woman like that, you won’t live to see sunrise.”
He blinked. Before steeling over, he took a moment. His eyes searched her face; he had to know she meant every word. Hawkins made a little bow of his head. “Pardon the offense, Miss Blue. My momma raised me better than to say something like that, and if she’d heard me, you’d have to beat her on the draw to put the first bullet in me.”
Again, his mechanical hand came up to pinch his brim.
Her turn to blink. She’d have been ready for a hidden pistol or throwing knife, but his response was completely unexpected. If she knew how, she almost had the urge to curtsey. Maybe it was just another weapon of his. Twelve-gage charm.
She had to get out of range, so she turned back to Malone. “You’re going to stand up, walk slow, and sit down on the back of my engine-trike, just behind my seat.”
Her bounty thought through every instruction and nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”
The man scraped his way to his feet and walked over to her machine. On the other side of the clearing, Hawkins strapped a leather belt across Rat’s chest, pinning him to the narrow sidecar. The bounty hunter kept stealing glances at her.
She didn’t expect the hungry look on his face. Like a man who’d just rode out of a snowy pass after a long winter. The look quickly disappeared as he turned to her machine.
He spoke casually, like they’d been drinking friends for years. “You don’t find that trike too wide for horse trails?”
She shook her head. “Just fly over them.” Malone sat on the back of her trike and she tightened a canvas belt across his lap. She hooked a thumb toward Hawkins’s ride, ether tanks extended on brass and steel lattices. “And I don’t need to pull out my ether tanks when I want to go up.”
“A fella doesn’t need more than two wheels,” he replied. “Keeps it lean.” Satisfied Rat wasn’t going anywhere, Hawkins strode over to the horses and pulled off their saddles and tack. He untied them, slapped their flanks, and hollered for them to run. They quickly obeyed, weaving through the trees and disappearing in the forest.
Malone craned his neck to see what Hawkins was up to. “Sure, the horse was stole, but the saddle’s mine. Think I can keep it?”
“No.” She placed her answer like a bullet, right between his eyes. “You killed a man in New Mexico. Left his bride a widow. Far as I’m concerned, you shouldn’t even get a last meal.” She took her seat in the trike and revved the engine. “But I’ll let the judge decide that. To me, you’re just one hundred dollars.”
Ether hummed in the tanks and the trike lifted off the ground. Malone gave a little yelp, but she didn’t care if he was scared or not. Yet she did care that Hawkins watched her. More than she wanted to. He even smiled a little as she made her turn over the campsite, twisting higher.
Last thing she saw of him before turning north was Hawkins taking his seat again on the engine-cycle and revving the motor. Then she turned her attention to the treetops and mountain ridges. The salt of the Pacific washed over her in the wind coming from the west.
She turned slightly to the left, getting a view of the full expanse of the silver and blue water. “First time I saw the ocean, thought I’d fall off the earth. Like it was some great waterfall that was going to take me away.” The trike climbed higher, easing to a steady pace two hundred feet above the ground.
Malone’s shackles jingled as he shifted in his seat to grip the trike’s frame. “I ain’t gonna fall now, am I?”
Waggling the steering, the trike swung from side to side. She knew everything was strapped down good enough to stay on. Even Dirty Dan. “We’re all given the same chance starting out. You’ve already fallen.”
The peace of the high air was broken by the rumble of Hawkins’s engine-cycle. He shot up, quick and nimble, and leveled out the long machine next to her. Goggles obscured his eyes, but the wide grin was clear on his face. Revving his motor, he pulled ahead of her in the air.
She prickled, charging forward to move beside him, then forward by the length of her front wheel.
Hawkins smiled, cocky. His cycle nosed ahead of her.
Even though they’d never spoken before this morning, this tug-of-war with Hawkins was all too familiar. In the past, when she’d shared a space with him, the tension was undeniable. They were the two best, they both knew that. But neither knew which was better. One time, in a Tucson opera house, they had spotted each other as they walked down opposite aisles to their seats. She sat a few rows behind Hawkins. He kept squirming in his seat like he was sharing it with a rattlesnake. After a minute, he got up and took a seat a row behind her. Then she had understood what had made him so restless to be sitting in front of her. No way she could relax, knowing he had the advantage at her back. By the time she got up, Hawkins’s row and all the seats behind him were filled. He sat comfortably on the aisle, long legs stretched out. But his eyes remained alert as his gaze tracked every move she made.
She couldn’t let him scare her out of that theater. But she couldn’t keep her back to him. A city dude sat in the aisle seat on the opposite side of the row from Hawkins. It only took a steady glare from Anna to move the dude to another part of the theater. Even with twenty people between them, she was aware of every move Hawkins made on the other end of the row. The Shakespeare actors stomping on the stage and the clockwork ghost of Hamlet’s father weren’t enough to steal Anna’s and Hawkins’s attention from each other.
When the audience rose to a standing ovation, they each slipped out through opposite exits. Flying now through the air with him, feeling Hawkins’s presence closer than ever, she wondered if more than just professional rivalry kept them in each other’s line of sight.
She released more of her engine’s power, retaking the lead. It was a race. But to what end?
About the Author
Nico Rosso was a writer in search of a genre until his wife, Zoe Archer, brought romance into his life in more ways than one. Through her he learned the romance genre was filled with vast opportunities for storytelling. He created the sci-fi romance Limit War series, sweeping readers off Earth to an interstellar conflict. Closer to home, he set off the apocalypse with The Last Night. And starting with the Ether Chronicles, he gets to write closer than ever with his wife. They created the steampunk world together and trade off, telling the romance tales that span the globe. You can find him on the web at www.nicorosso.com Website | Facebook
Hello, world. It’s me, Tanjlisa Marie
. My young adult urban fantasy, Codename Fairy Godmother: Reassigned
(CFGR), debuted this past Halloween. I wanted to write a blog detailing my journey from blank paper (or in my case a blank Word document) to having a novel to share with booklovers all around the globe.
My motivation for CFGR came around the time of the Twilight phenomenon. I tried to get my then 17-year-old stepson to read the book and he looked at me like I asked him to cover himself with body glitter. It was then I realized that most YA was written for females and not males. I decided to write a novel that a) both genders could enjoy, b) explored an untraveled road, and c) adults would read as well. Soon afterwards, Agent Thunder—the kick-butt Huntress for the Fairy Godmother Organization—was born.
Agent Thunder was so fun to write about it only took me a month to finish the manuscript. It took another two years editing the darn thing to a point where I felt it was ready for a professional editor to tackle. During the editing phase, I researched the traditional route of publishing (the whole query letters to agents, wait, rejection, rinse, and repeat), but decided it wasn’t for me. Thanks to eBooks, the market for self-publishing was on the rise and there were a lot of resources and bloggers out there to help someone like me.
First, I explored which company I wanted to print with. My brother used Lightning Source and wanted me to go the same route. But when I searched around the Internet, I decided on CreateSpace. (There are many options out there and one blog that helped me was http://www.bookmakingblog.com/2011/09/lightning-source-vs-createspace-again.html). CreateSpace is great for a beginner. The online steps were easy to follow and the support staff was prompt and efficient. My only gripe with CreateSpace, which is an affiliate of Amazon, is Amazon takes a huge chunk of your profit. Ultimately, I decided my first book would be about getting my name out there and not necessarily to make money. Although for my second book, I may have to reconsider Lightning Source.
So, I had my manuscript getting a thorough review and I had my printing company picked out. Next came the hard part (which I’m still doing today)…promotion. Whatever you read or are told about how time-consuming promoting your self-published title will be, multiply that by six! I used to have a weekend; I used to have nice evenings. Now I tell my 9-to-5 coworkers that I come to work to rest! Think about it: there are over seven billion people in the world. So how are you, self-publisher without the marketing budget a big publishing house has at its disposal, going to reach all those potential readers? It’s daunting at first but do not be discouraged. The age of social media is one of our best advantages. Just be prepared to spend almost every free minute you have typing away, making connections via Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc. While I tease about how time consuming self-promoting is, I do not regret one second of it. I have met some of the best eFriends (as I like to call them) since I’ve become a social media maniac. The self-publishing world houses the best group of people I’ve come across since being honorably discharged from the United States Air Force.
Some of the best advice I can give a person who was in my shoes two years ago would be:
1. Invest time (and money if you are not willing to do it yourself) into a memorable website. Your website is your calling card; where you will direct all eTraffic. Do you want to welcome them to a B-movie or a blockbuster?
2. Invest time (and again money if you can spare it) into an eye-catching cover. Even if you plan to publish strictly eBooks, the cover people see on Amazon, Smashwords, etc. will speak volumes about your book. The self-publishing world is saturated with a lot of material, make yours stand out with a professional book cover.
3. Craigslist is your friend. Self-published authors’ funds are limited. You will be surprised at the trade-and-barter deals you can find on Craigslist. But of course, be careful!
4. Make sure your manuscript is ready for the world. Have your friends (who like books) read your work and give their honest opinions. There are several online communities you can go to and share your work (Createspace.com, Authonomy.com are just two). I would recommend joining some of these websites because while we may think our work is awesome, some things may not make sense to others and we have to go back and tweak.
5. Don’t forget to have fun. I know at times the business aspect of writing became so daunting I wanted to throw my laptop at some unsuspecting pedestrian. Those feelings will pass and you just have to remember to stay focused on the ultimate goal—to see your manuscript materialize into an actual book. I promise, the feeling is similar to seeing your child for the first time.
I hope this information was helpful to at least one person out there. I have a blog where I kept more detailed notes throughout my self-published journey. Have a wonderful day and don’t forget to check out my YA urban fantasy, Codename Fairy Godmother: Reassigned
. Agent Thunder, the fairy godmother. Ciaran, the terminator-leprechaun. Find out what happens when their two magical worlds collide. Listen to the podcast interview
with Tanjlisa Marie
by Evolvedworld's Sophie Sansregret
. Read an Excerpt
About the Author: Tanjlisa Marie
Born in Chicago. Raised in Arkansas. Now living in the south suburbs of Chicago. Tanjlisa Marie graduated from the University of Phoenix with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management. She is also a United States Air Force veteran.
When Tanjlisa Marie isn’t spending time searching for fairies, (which always turn out to be lightning bugs) she earns her living as a federal government employee. Tanjlisa Marie first got the idea to write the saga, CODENAME FAIRY GODMOTHER, when she realized there were not a lot of young adult novels for both genders to enjoy. With the intent to entice more males to read, she sat and wrote REASSIGNED keeping in mind to include enough action for the young men, enough flirting for the young ladies, and a sophisticated page-turning plot to entertain adults. Tanjlisa Marie's Site
/ Book Site
/ FB Page
Note: due to the evils of the online world, Lilly Rose's blog is currently offline. I'm posting this on her behalf. -- Sophie.
When I first thought about this article on being a submissive over 40 years of age, I had a dom that I was playing with in real time and it was quite nice. I really did not have to worry about my position in kink or what it meant to be a mature submissive. Oh sometimes, I would see younger subs grouping around my dom and feel a little insecure but it was a fleeting feeling. Now, that I am searching for a dom, many issues have come up regarding seeking a full-time monogamous long-term relationship with a dom.
I would like to say first that I am aware that my experiences may not be typical of all subs. All I can write about is what I experience and the issues I am facing as a over 40 plus submissive woman in the kink world
I put my observations as a single submissive female looking for a monogamous Dom into 10 Categories (and my apologies to fellow mature female kinksters if I missed any):
First: It is hard to find a good Man (Dom or otherwise)
Much like the vanilla world, the kink world has its limitations for mature, single women who are seeking a dom. In the vanilla world, when I was dating, it was very hard to meet men my own age who wanted to be committed to a long-term relationship. I also found a lot of men my age who wanted younger (10 years or more) women.
This is no different in the world of BDSM. In fact, there is a real shortage of good doms over 40 years of age in BDSM. There are a lot of men who think that they are doms out there. But a true, experienced dom is hard to find. Most men think that they can rough up a sub and get a lot of head and *poof* they are a dom. A proper training of a sub by a dom is a much more complex process and requires a certain amount of experience and confidence. It takes patience and a knowledge of the likes and dislikes of a variety of sub women. Most doms gain this knowledge through experience and time. Now, since the percentage of doms over 40 and doms in general is quite low, subs have an unfair disadvantage from the start.
In fact, in the kink world there is a plethora of the dom’s ideal sub: the young nubile 20 something. On one very popular BDSM site that I am on, there are literally thousands of young girl subs on there displaying themselves in every conceivable type of photo and making themselves accessible for “any” type of relationship. I really don’t know if these are legitimate offers (or if these girls are “professional sex workers,” “con artists,” or the type of usual “scammers” you find on regular vanilla dating sites). I can’t tell you on that point. But I do know that this lends to the fight for the stance of legitimizing the existence of the mature submissive. It also makes the mature sub very bitter and disillusioned with the kink world. So mature lady subs, now we are competing for a few good doms in a world of tempting little 20 somethings—or let’s just say younger--- sub packages who will supposedly “do anything” for a dom.
Second: It is hard to find a monogamous Dom (or man for that matter)
Much like the vanilla world—dominant men can be commitment phobic. 40 something doms may be coming out of a rocky marriage and not want to be tied down again. They also may simply like being single and playing the field. As I have stated, it does not help that the ratio of doms to subs is very low and that doms are in demand and have a nice steady supply of subs to play with and tempt him.
Third: Polyamory or Monogamy
The kink world is also very open to the different forms of non-monogamy: like polyamory, open, relationships, and swinging. In the Book of O for example, O is trained to be shared with others subs. Many doms and subs feel that this is part of a true submissives’ role or, at least a very good option. Because the dom to sub ratio is low, many doms decide to go with the flow, and try playing with two to three subs or slaves at a time. Many Doms also experiment with different non-monogamous frameworks within kink so that they can find subs who are open to their non-monogamous lifestyle. Now, for a sub or a woman who just came out of a bad marriage and likes her freedom, this is not much of a problem. But if you are a mature sub looking for a monogamous relationship, the option of being non-monogamous limits your available dom pool even more.
Many doms are interested in bisexual subs for a number of reasons. One: it is a turn-on to watch two women fooling around for a lot of men. Two: if the dom is planning on taking on two or more subs, he may want them to “play” with each other as well—creating a sort of “family” of play partners under his control—and thereby increasing the love factor and decreasing jealousy and drama between subs. If you are bisexual (or willing to try it) submissive then you are sought after. If you are a straight, monogamous mature sub female this factor serves to limit your male dom pool even more.
Fifth: There is a shortage of female Dommes
Yes, my friends female dommes are hard to find. Blame it on genetic makeup—women don’t like to be sexually in control even in this modern age? Blame it on statistics. Who knows? It just is a fact. This makes (female) dommes a commodity very sought after by males subs in the kink community. Many mature female subs therefore, get approached by males in the hopes that they will domme them or “switch” and become more dominant.
Sixth: Go 10 years older or 10 years younger?
Oh yes, cougars do exist in the kink world. Many submissive women over 40 get approached by younger doms. I personally, like a dom my own age so this option is out for me. It seems that younger doms are much more flexible than older doms when it comes to the idea of a sub female. They like the older woman for the same reasons that vanilla younger men do.
Or, you can go for a dom who is 10 years older. Yes, I get many responses from older doms who consider me the young sub ideal—well sort of because I notice that these older doms do still have an eye for the 20 somethings—they are just harder to get at their age---so I am an appealing compromise. If you don’t want a young dom and you like older men, you are in luck. If not, you have to move on and politely reject the offers.
Seventh: Pick a Man and Train your Dom?
Some women decide that they will find an alpha vanilla male who is open to kink and train them or “top from the bottom” –that is take on a temporary dominant role. Eventually, as the two of you learn more about kink roles, the hope is that the dom will be “caught up” in knowledge to the sub and the roles will be more sub and dom appropriate. This is a risky endeavor as a lot of kinksters believe that doms get experience by training a number of subs and learning over time.
Eighth: Mature females should become dommes (female doms)?
If you are a mature woman, it seems to me and to other women with whom I have spoken to in the kink community, that many men are going to assume that you should “naturally” fit into the domme role. I would guess it is because mature women are assumed to be stronger, more assertive, wiser, and way too old to fit into the model of a sub at her master’s feet, worshipping and serving him.
It is quite a reverse stereotype. The older mature sub is consequently left wondering: Because I am older, I have to be in the dominant position? And, am I foolish to want to be a sub at my age?
I will never be dominant. I have tried it and simply do not care for it. I have always been a feminist. I have worked since I was 12 years of age, have never really depended on anyone, except my mother and father in my younger years to pay my bills. When I was 18 and went off to college, the financial support from my parents was minimal. I am in control of a lot of things. Most of my jobs were managerial. I like the power in the real world. However, in the bedroom, I like to sit back and let the men take charge. Call it a breather from my real life, call it a whimsical decision…whatever. I just don’t like to be controlling the scenes during sex. It is a welcome break and has nothing to do with how assertive, confident or mature I am. I just like to serve and have someone else take care of the sexual play. Of course, subs are always involved in what happens. To think that subs are docile creatures who go along with anything is quite a wrong assumption. Subs decide what is going to happen in the bedroom when they set their hard and soft limits. So they are more in control than most people would think.
Ninth: Long distance and Role Play?
Many sub females chose to engage in long distance relationships with doms who are suitable but two far. Their training may consist of online role play, e-mailing training requests back and forth, and phone sex. This may be a nice compromise for some but if you are looking for regular sexual contact, it may become a little frustrating.
Tenth: Virgin or Whore?
Here is the dilemma: a mature sub can decide to “play” with many doms, and/or become polyamorous and accept the fact that the monogamous long-term relationship may never happen, or they can sit around waiting for their one true dom.
Why must a mature woman be lumped into the role of Domme in kink? On the one hand, BDSM recognizes the strength and wisdom of an older woman. But it can also stereotype her as “too old” to be a sub to a dom and better off in the role of domme.
The shortage of doms also forces the mature sub to make decisions about her sexuality that are not far from ones in the vanilla world. Do I sit around alone, waiting for my prince charming, or should I just have affairs and sexual encounters with different men/doms and see how it goes?
So, if you have a dom and you are over 40 more power to you but if you do not, it is a struggle to find one who is exclusive. Suffice it to say that the mature sub woman faces many challenges in finding a mate—some like those of the vanilla world and others very unique to the kink world. These challenges can make her question her sexuality, and her ethical and sexual belief system in terms of monogamy and gender preferences. It can make a lot of mature subs leave the kink world in frustration or change their roles and beliefs over time. As for all single mature women, oh well there is always the Hitachi, online role play, or good old fashioned compromise!