Tag: S.L. Hughson

Virtually Yours Releases Today! No Fooling

Virtually Yours CoverIf you’re looking for something to read this weekend, you can get eight novellas for under a buck. Check out Virtually Yours at your favorite retailers.

Since last spring, I have been working on this novella off and on, amid the three short stories I sold (and needed to edit), the Bible study I released in January, and the novel I hope you’ll see in print one day soon.

My story, “Matchmaker: Reality” is one of eight contemporary romances included in this boxed-set. You can pick up these eight stories (most about 20,000 words long) beginning today. For a buck.

No, that wasn’t a misprint. Eight romances for 99 cents. I know you want to do it before you read the rest of my post, so here’s the link.

How this came about

I’m friends with dozens of authors on Facebook. I follow dozens more on Twitter.

One of the romance writers I follow posted an article about an Invisible Boyfriend application that was going into beta testing. Her question with the article, “Doesn’t this lend itself to hundreds of story ideas?” (Or something like that. I don’t mean to misquote you, Kait.)

I was quick to chime in that indeed it did. Others did the same.

Later, Kait tagged the writers who had responded favorably to the question. Did we want to collaborate on a romance anthology based on a similar “fake date” application we invented?

There were ten of us who said “yes.” At some point along the road, two of the people dropped out.

First things first, we posted our story ideas to make sure none of them were duplicating a plot line. In the beginning, a couple of them looked like close relatives, but we changed it up. Now you’ll get eight stories with amazing twists and turns.

Then we got specific about the dating app we wanted to create. We agreed to call it Virtual Match. Titles for the collection were tossed around. And Virtually Yours was born.

Virtual Match is your one-stop shop to convincing those nosy relatives, the too friendly coworker, or your ex that you’re off the market. We’ll match you up with an attentive boyfriend or girlfriend. Texts, emails, phone calls, and even gifts. All the fun of being in a relationship–well, almost all the fun–and none of the commitment. You might even forget it’s not real.

The Stories

Here are the blurbs for the eight stories:

Wish I Might by Kait Nolan: Bookstore owner Reed wasn’t looking for a woman. But when the new clerk he hired won’t take no for an answer, he needs a girlfriend stat. His friends give him the perfect out—Virtual Match. But when Reed gets a second chance with the one that got away, his virtual girlfriend may cause more problems than she solves.

Lip Service by Wendy Sparrow: Amputee Berg is struggling with civilian life. Dating is perilous, but the girl next door is oh so tempting. His new gig as “virtual boyfriend” allows him to bask in her sunshine without risking rejection. Roxie has tried cupcakes and pizza and her neighbor doesn’t adore her yet. He recommends Virtual Match to get rid of a slimy coworker, but she absolutely can’t fall for her new fake boyfriend

Code Name: Girlfriend by Jessica Fox: Drew needs a girlfriend—fast. Trouble is he already told his nosy coworkers all about her, and she doesn’t exist. When his BFF sees an ad for Virtual Match, it seems like the answer to all his problems…until he starts falling for his match. Struggling writer Caroline thinks the tell-all feature on Virtual Match will make her career. Seems easy enough, until pretending to be someone’s girlfriend suddenly gets far too real.

Dream Home by Lisa Kroger: Evie doesn’t have time for the boyfriend her mom and sister think she needs. Still reeling from her husband’s death, she’s renovating the antebellum plantation meant to be their dream home. Enter Luc, her virtual boyfriend. Luc may keep her family at bay and provide company in the dark of night, but when sinister things start happening in Evie’s house, she’s still very much on her own.

Something Old and Something New by J.R. Pearse Nelson: Delia has finally managed to kick her cheating ex to the curb. In a parting jab at her lack of tech savvy and need for companionship, he signs her up for Virtual Match. The virtual boyfriend’s texts are as creepy as the idea and getting stranger, but she can’t stop them. When an old friend shows up on her doorstep, Delia is pushed to retire old heartaches in favor of a new vision of herself and her future.

Matchmaker Reality by Sharon Hughson: Ronnie isn’t willing to put her heart on the line. A fake boyfriend through Virtual Match will satisfy her nagging family and keep her heart safe. Unexpected sparks fly with her imaginary boyfriend and she gets in deep—her feelings unearthing a past secret she’d buried. When her virtual boyfriend wants to meet, reality might ruin Ronnie’s chances of a real connection. Will her heart survive and is love worth the gamble?

Virtual Surprise by Catherine Lynn: To convince her friends she’s moved on from her divorce, Anna signs up for Virtual Match. A fake boyfriend is safe and easy…until their relationship feels real. Then, there’s her high school crush—who broke her heart. Neither man is simple and one may not even exist. Luke’s job with Virtual Match is just for extra cash. He’s still dealing with his anger for the girl who once hurt him. Then, he starts falling for his assigned “girlfriend.” Is it worth the risk to make their match real? 

Home Field Advantage by Kate Davison: For Shelby, going home to Suwannee Grove after her sister’s death is the hardest thing she’s ever done. The reasons she left make it even harder. One look at Dallas and she knows her bigger mistake may have been staying away so long. Dallas has always considered Shelby the love of his life and he wants her her trip home to be permanent. But if Shelby ever finds out he was posing as her sister’s Virtual Match, he doubts even his home field advantage will help convince her to stay.

The Authors

I’m amazed and proud to be included in this anthology with two romance authors I regularly read. It’s like making an album with Karen Carpenter. What? You think I’m a good enough singer to share the same space with me.

Only in this case, it’s my first love – writing – that’s getting a boost. If you haven’t read the Wishful series by Kait Nolan, you should pick up the first book now. Wendy Sparrow also will have your sides hurting with her romance stories.

You prefer a little speculative or paranormal. You’ll probably find J. R. Pearse Nelson to your liking then.

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for your next favorite author. I LOVE and adore finding an author who entertains me. The only way to do that is to take a risk and try a new author.

I promise you, this will be a dollar well-spent. Two of these authors are on my “new favorite” list (and I’m thrilled to share a cover with them). I’ve read four of the seven stories I didn’t write. All of them are unique. Paranormal, sweet romance, and a little suspense are all represented.

No risk involved.

I know you’d spend a buck to support my writing. Now you can support eight independent authors for less than mailing two letters.

We all thank you.

Find VIRTUALLY YOURS at these retailers:  Amazon   | Smashwords

Realizing You’re Already Amazing

A few months before I graduated from college, I met Holley Gerth. Not in person. Through her book, You’re Already Amazing, but it was like we sat down day after day and talked about my dilemma.

You know, what’s going to happen when I finish college. Will I continue working as an educational assistant and pursue my writing dream on the side? Will I jump into a master’s program to become a teacher? Can this fledgling idea for a novel fly into something larger than life?

I had a dream. Since I was old enough to read, I dreamed I would write stories. My words would send people into magical realms like C. S. Lewis did for me. Or these books would comfort others in confusion, as Judy Blume had done for me.

I wrote stories, poems and filled notebooks with my personal struggles. Then I grew up. I really despise those four words. Truly.

Because adult hood is filled with advantages, but often it includes abandoning dreams that fostered a soul through childhood and motivated her during the ugly insecurity of teenager-hood.

I wish I had known Holley Gerth back then.

Let me introduce you to her now, so you don’t have to wonder about finding a purpose or abandoning a dream.

You’re Already Amazing

AlreadyAmazingBookBetween the covers of this book, I met the sweet-spirited counselor, Holley Gerth. She poured a cup of coffee. We sat on her sofa. She talked, and I listened.

Reading this book felt like a conversation. After she shared wisdom and insight, she asked me to delve into my own heart. I spilled ink on the pages.

Her next words responded to that transparency – as if we were sitting across from each other.

This is the best thing about every book from Holley. It feels like a two-way conversation. The probing questions and activities at the end of one chapter open up questions that are answered in the next chapter.

In order to use the new LifeGrowth Guide she’s releasing this month, you should read this book. Each chapter of the new guide tells which chapters from the book correspond to it.

Sure, she has excerpts from the original book in this guide (and plenty of new coaching and counseling), but experiencing the original book helps this guide make more of an impact.

By the time you finish, you’ll have a “mission” statement for your life and an idea how you can start fulfilling it.

It was this statement that assured me of my own path. I worked through her You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream book before I settled on a course of action, but the seed was planted with this book.

Do you feel like you’re standing still in your walk with God? Does each day seem like a duplicate of the one before?

You’re Already Amazing will help you understand why you’re feeling these things. Then it will show you how to move beyond those debilitating emotions.

LifeGrowth Guide

YAA_LifeGrowth_Guide_Cover_1024x1024I jumped at the chance to preview this new guide when Holley offered the opportunity to her blog followers.

I loved the original book, and since I plan Bible studies and retreats for the ladies in my church, I saw this guide as a possibility for either activity.

After reading through this new book, and watching a few of the videos, I’m certain it will uplift women at any stage in their life.

Divided into six sessions, the book works as leader and groupie guide. In fact, it could be used solo, as a woman read through You’re Already Amazing and used the questions and activities in this guide to supplement her journey.

It’s intended to be used with a small group. In fact, it has powerful potential to bind women closer together and encourage them to lift each other up. What better way to carry out Paul’s admonition for the older women to teach the younger (Titus 2:3-5)?

The reading and activities in this guide are meant to be completed before the group session. Each session begins with a short video chat from Holley, which sets the stage and opens the conversation for that chapter. After discussing the questions and helping each other digest the truths, there’s another short clip to end each session.

In the back, there are helpful outlines to be used by group leaders or facilitators.

Perhaps you’d like a more informal group, the guide helps with that aspect. Each chapter includes a hands-on crafty project. A group could gather to watch the short video and then work on that project. Conversations could flow while hands were busy creating.

Amazing Applications

When I finished You’re Already Amazing, three years ago now, I told everyone about how helpful it was.

I’m super excited about the LifeGrowth Guide because it packages my excitement in a format that can help other women.

Let’s face it, some people don’t want to read. They might scan the guide and complete the activities, but they aren’t going to wade through an entire book.

The LifeGrowth Guide could be used by this type of person. It wouldn’t take long before they wanted more of Holley’s wisdom.

My plan for this guide is to use it at the annual ladies’ retreat. I’m going to have to reorganize and condense the lessons, because the sessions really need several days (minimum) between them to complete all the reading and activities.

To get the most from the book, a woman needs to invest time and thought into her answers. Season each page with prayer. Meditate on the deeper queries and return to them the next day.

A two-day retreat doesn’t provide time for all that. But I still think this curriculum will work.

It would certainly work as a weekly or bi-monthly Bible study.

If you had people who really wanted to write a life purpose statement, you could tailor this guide to be used for a one-day seminar. As long as there is ample time for independent thought, three of the sessions could be juxtaposed together and rock a woman’s Saturday.

If your life feels stale or you’re at a cross-roads, you need this book. If you yearn for women to come alongside you, this guide could open the way for that to happen.

Once again, Holley Gerth delivers a piece of her heart to her readers. And she’ll make you realize You’re Already Amazing, too.\

Meet the Authors: Heart of Valor Blog Tour Continues

Today, I’m thrilled to welcome my fellow Roane authors onto the blog.

They’ve agreed to answer ONE question for this stop on the tour. Hopefully, it will whet your appetite for the romantic stories of military heroes in Hearts of Valor.

If someone has a heart of valor, what does that mean? Is it more than courage? More than being a hero?
Feel free to say why the hero of your story matches your ideal of valor.

London Saint James:

Courage? Yes. Bravery? Yes. Sacrifice? Yes. Brawn? Yes. Brains? Yes. Strength of will? Yes.
Dependability? Yes. A man or woman of their word? Yes. Honor? Absolutely.

T.E. Hodden:

Being a hero is not about being brave, or laying waste to the enemy. Being a hero is about doing
what is right, what must be done, despite being terrified. It is much more about mercy, and
consequences, than it is about being Rambo. Rambo is a great character to watch on a film for a
few hours, but he is an icon, a fiction, not a hero. Not in the way that can be found on any side of
any conflict, amongst the ranks, amongst the stretcher carriers, firemen, medics, and the
refugees. War stretches far beyond those who happen to fight it.

S.L. Hughson (yes, this is me):

Part of the dictionary definition (yes, I’m THAT person) specifies that valor involves
determination. To me, this means premeditated bravery, a strength of character that won’t allow
the man (or woman) of valor to back down from what they believe to be the correct and
honorable course of action. I don’t want to spoil “Hero of her Heart,” but both Nicole and Vince
exhibit valor in different ways.

Jean Young:

Valor is courage, it is bravery, it is heroism, but it is more. Heart of valor is a courageous man
with kindness and spirit. He is “a manly man”, as in my story. He would do what most men
wouldn’t do—he would be kind and do good deed, even in the face of evil, even when he had to
endure unimaginable pain. “Good for good is natural; any man can do it. Good for evil is manly;
only a noble man can do.”

Philip Lisagor:

I think of valor as a deep, core trait, of not being scarred in the face of danger—and courage as
more of the demonstration of valor through actions. The character in “Goin Home” confronts the
vagaries of his ennui about going home resulting from his deployment by taking a long hike with
a surreal experience which sends him back home.

Terri Rochenski:

Valor, to me, is bravery—even outside of battle. In my story, Walter goes off to war, but his wife
is the one with the heart of valor in the end.

What about you, dear readers? What’s your ideal of valor?

Feel free to direct comments to any one of the authors who appear here.

Now for the information about the book:

Hearts of Valor: An Anthology of Sweet Romances

HeartsofValor_eBook_CVRThe PromiseLondon Saint James

Veronica Weis married the handsome Lieutenant Carter Weis only to be widowed six months after the happy nuptials. Captain Quinn Alstrom of the U.S. Coast Guard eagerly begins his newest post in Key West. Will Quinn’s surprise arrival in Veronica’s life re-spark the fire in the vivacious woman he remembered? Or, will the memory of her fallen husband stop the two of them from finding happiness?   

A Manly Man Jean Young

Confederate POW, Braxton Bolton, had an unexpected visitor the day before his execution: Arabella Anderson walked into his jail cell and kissed him. Two years prior, she had been the Lieutenant Colonel’s prisoner and he protected her, now the grateful young woman had come to repay his kindness.

Hero of Her Heart S.L. Hughson

Nicole Taylor has loved Vincent for years. Now he’s back from serving in the Army, and she’s determined to make him see her as something other than a little sister. After a heated Valentine’s date, Nicole is confused by Vince’s withdrawal. He drifts further from her happily-ever-after plans. What will it take for him to see he is truly the hero of her heart?

Feathers T.E.Hodden

Kerry only wanted to do right by Christopher. To protect him from the whispers of ‘coward’ and the shame of a white feather. But the war doesn’t look like a grand adventure any more. All Kerry wants is Chris home safe. But will he still be the same man she once knew?

Goin’ HomePhilip Lisagor

How will Jack be able to put Iraq behind him and return home to Leah and their two children? The green peaceful coast of Ireland is the perfect landing zone from the brown violent landscape of Mesopotamia. Jack is humping ruck along the North Atlantic coast when a chance encounter with an Irish maiden turns him all around and he hears the voice of Leah in a magical moment calling him home.

Promises Kept  – Terri Rochenski

Ever since they were kids, Joan dreamed of being Walt Herley’s wife. But, Joan’s dream is short-lived when the Korean War draft has Walt trading his groom’s suit for army fatigues. With her heart a world away, Joan struggles to keep her spirit afloat while praying for the war’s expedient end.  Fate, however, has a plan of its own, one that threatens Joan’s faith in Walt’s promise to return.

Purchase Links:

Roane Publishing          Amazon                  Barnes & Noble           Bookstrand

Kobo                               Smashwords            iTunes                           AllRomance

And, of course, click the blue link to enter the Giveaway for a $20 Amazon gift card: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please click here to check out the rest of the tour: 

My Newest Release: Hearts of Valor

Welcome to the world of military heroes!

Hearts of Valor

HeartsofValor_eBook_CVRIt takes a heart of valor to survive love’s battlefield.

Six veteran-themed romantic tales brimming with love and sacrifice are sure to show us all what it truly means to have a Heart of Valor.

Blurbs:

The PromiseLondon Saint James

The year Veronica turned twenty-two changed her life. She graduated from San Diego State University, married the handsome Lieutenant Carter Weis—widowed six months after the happy nuptials.

Captain Quinn Alstrom of the U.S. Coast Guard was eager to start his newest post; however the excitement had nothing to do with the beautiful surroundings of Key West, and everything to do with his best friend’s wife.

Will Quinn’s surprise arrival in Veronica’s life re-spark the fire in the vivacious woman he remembered? Or, will the memory of her fallen husband stop the two of them from finding happiness?   

A Manly Man Jean Young

Confederate POW, Braxton Bolton, had an unexpected visitor the day before his execution, when Arabella Anderson walked into his jail cell and, in front of other POWs, kissed him until he shook with desire.

Two years prior, she had been the Lieutenant Colonel’s prisoner. While she was tortured and raped by the other Confederate soldiers, Bolton was different. He protected her from further suffering, and the grateful young woman had come to repay his kindness.

While they became more and more intimate, she learned the story behind his kindness.

But what she learned while with her hero POW, turns the sweet girl into a fearsome warrior. One determined to save the soldier with a noble heart.

Hero of Her Heart S.L. Hughson

Nicole Taylor has loved Vincent for years. Now he’s back from serving in the Army, and she’s determined to make him see her as something other than a little sister.

After a heated Valentine’s date, Nicole is confused by Vince’s withdrawal. She confronts him, but no matter how hot their physical attraction, he keeps backing away.

Nicole helps him follow his lifelong dreams but he drifts further from her happily-ever-after plans. What will it take for him to see he is truly the hero of her heart?

Feathers T.E.Hodden

Kerry only wanted to do right by Christopher. To protect him from the whispers of ‘coward’ and the shame of a white feather.

But the war doesn’t look like a grand adventure any more. All Kerry wants is Chris home safe. But will he still be the same man she once knew?

Goin’ HomePhilip Lisagor

How will Jack be able to put Iraq behind him and return home to Leah and their two children? The green peaceful coast of Ireland is the perfect landing zone from the brown violent landscape of Mesopotamia. Jack is humping ruck along the North Atlantic coast when a chance encounter with an Irish maiden turns him all around and he hears the voice of Leah in a magical moment calling him home.

Promises Kept  – Terri Rochenski

Ever since they were kids, Joan dreamed of being Walt Herley’s wife. But, Joan’s dream is short-lived when the Korean War draft has Walt trading his groom’s suit for army fatigues. After a short celebration of their rushed nuptials, Walt is whisked away to fulfill his duty to his country, leaving Joan behind with a promise to return.

With her heart a world away, Joan struggles to keep her spirit afloat while praying for the war’s expedient end.  Fate, however, has a plan of its own, one that threatens Joan’s faith in Walt’s promise to return.

Review

Here’s a comment from a reader who won an advanced copy of the book.

“An engaging, enjoyable and touching collection of romantic short stories. Perfect reading for an afternoon, curled up in front of the fire with a warm drink.” –Connie Craddock

Buy the book today at your favorite online retailer.

Roane Publishing (I earn the most in royalties if you use this one. Just so you know. NOT a hint or                                     anything *wink, wink*)
Createspace                       Amazon                        Barnes & Noble                       Bookstrand
Kobo                                   Smashwords                 iTunes                                       AllRomance
Add this title to your Goodreads To Read pile!

Giveaway!
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Check out other stops on the Blog Tour!

 

Writing in a New Direction

Which-Way-is-the-Right-way-for-Satellite-Web-Browsing-Sometimes directions are clear: “Turn left at the next stop light.” Other times, the directions can be convoluted: “Take the next right. Keep left.” (My GPS often says this, in fact. Amazingly unhelpful.)

In 2013, I started in a new direction. I quit my job with the school district to pursue a writing career full-time. I finished my bachelor’s degree and wanted a change.

Immediately thereafter, I finished my first young adult fantasy novel and had begun writing its sequel. I took a class on antagonists from Writing Jedi Master Kristen Lamb. When we spoke on the phone about my story, I learned it was gobbledygook without a clear purpose.

Back to the drawing board. For another young adult fantasy series, which Kristen and I had discussed during the heart-shattering call. Her advice: write the entire series before going back to edit book one. That way I’d know what the “real” story of the series was by the time I was rewriting.

Six months later, I had three complete novels in very rough first draft form. The summer of 2014, I attempted to market the first book in the series. By the time I’d gotten the final rejection back, I knew the first book was crap needed work.

But I had this amazing idea for a contemporary young adult fantasy. Dragons, erupting volcanoes, teenagers with special powers and the end of the world at stake. Who wouldn’t want to read that?

Or maybe the question should be: who wants to read it?

I’m still waiting for the rest of the rejection letters to roll in, but I think I finally figured something out.

What I Can Sell

As much as I love young adult fantasy, I’m not going to break into publishing with those stories.

No, I’m not giving up. I’m not copping out.

I’m being realistic.

Young adult is the fastest growing and most competitive fictional market right now. And fantasy has to have a certain bent to even get a look.

Sadly, dragons aren’t it.

Dragons: so TEN years ago.

Short fiction: I have sold three short stories. Two of them are sweet romances written to a new adult audience. The third is a young adult dark biblical retelling.

Bible studies: These are independently published by me, and I don’t price them to make a bundle. However, I do have a small following who enjoys my quirky teaching style.

Writing that Grows Me

In the end, writing the biblical fictionalization and Bible study books challenge me as a person. They require a slightly different writing voice and tons more research than most of my fiction stories.

In short, they stretch me out of my comfort zone.

And if people will buy them, I should produce them.

My Big Dream

During November, I wrote the first book in another young adult series.

I know. I know. I never learn.

What’s different about this book? It uses the short story I’ve already sold as a springboard into my post-apocalyptic universe. I continued the story of Scisco Irons, a sixteen-year-old blacksmith who dreams of discovering the technology destroyed in his homeland during the Demon Wars. And escaping the backward region he’s lived in forever.

I introduced a snarky teenage girl with major trust issues. Added in a “mentor” character with a pile of his own secrets.

The best part, I pitched the outline to the publisher of the short story (at her request, because she liked the world introduced in that story and saw potential for the story to continue). She wants to see it.

I have a professional editor who will help me content edit the first draft and polish the second draft to get it ready for submission. She’s employed by the publisher but has offered to help me because she believes in my story.

The dream:

I submit this manuscript in May 2016. The publisher adores it and offers me a three-book contract (that will finish out the series as I’ve envisioned it).

During our conversations, I mention my four other manuscripts. She asks for outlines of each of them. Why not, right? It doesn’t cost her anything.

She sees the potential in all of them and offers me another contract on Doomsday Dragons and asks to see the first Gates of Astrya book before deciding on that series.

Of course, the Age of Apocalypse series will appear in bookstores everywhere during 2017-2019. I’ll have an enormous fan base. They’ll scarf up anything I write.

The rest is J.K. Rowling’s history.

Where I’m Going Now

As often as I’ve been accused of being a dreamer, I’ll argue that point. I’m a realist. Yes, I’m a realistic optimist, but I know better than to float on the puffy vapors of “hope it happens.”

I’m going forward. I have a novella releasing in a collection with nine other independent romance writers in February. And I’ll say this, romance rolls from my heart onto the page. Nearly effortlessly (and then the editing torture begins).

All those years of sneaking my mom’s romance novels into my room to read when I should have been sleeping are paying off. Unfortunately, those royalties aren’t buying too much at the moment.

I have another study book in the works. There are ideas for sequels to Reflections from a Pondering Heart, but I’m not convinced that’s where I should invest my time.

My biggest project idea is a grief memoir/Bible study combination. I’ve got this baby outlined, and I’ve started amassing research. Am I ready to tap into my personal losses for the memoir vignettes? That’s the big unknown.

I’ll keep subbing short stories to anthologies – romance, young adult and fantasy. My crazy ideas will find their way into the spiral notebook I have dedicated for them.

Writing is more than my passion or my dream. I’m convinced it’s my calling.

And I’m saying “yes.” Even if I’m unsure of the direction it will take me.

Any advice? What would you like to read from me?

Win! Win a copy of my next story!

Yes, this anthology contains another short romance by yours truly. I hope you’ll take a minute to enter into the giveaway. Maybe even consider signing up to support my release during the blog tour.
The entry form is at the bottom of the post. Details about the stories can be found by clicking here.
Roane Publishing is giving away THREE ecopy ARCs of 
Hearts of Valor!

Hearts of Valor
Genre: Romance Anthology (Sweet)
Release Date: January 13, 2016

Description: It takes a heart of valor to survive love’s battlefield.

Five veteran themed romantic tales brimming with love and sacrifice are sure to show us all what it truly means to have a Heart of Valor.


Stories:

Hero of Her Heart – S.L. Hughson
Feathers – T.E.Hodden
A Manly Man – Jean Young
Goin’ Home – Philip Lisagor
The Promise – London Saint James

~~~oOo~~~
Roane Publishing is giving away THREE ARC copies to three lucky winners!
You don’t even have to be a blogger.
If you are willing to leave an honest review before January 27th, you are eligible to enter.
How? Simply fill out the form!

You have until Midnight of November 28th when three winners will be chosen by random drawing.




Cover Reveal: My Next Anthology Appearance

HeartsofValor_eBook_CVR

Hearts of Valor
A Sweet Romance Anthology
By: Various Authors
Release Date: Jan 13, 2016
Publisher: Roane Publishing

The Promise by London Saint James
The year Veronica turned twenty-two changed her life. She graduated from San Diego State University, married the handsome Lieutenant Carter Weis-widowed six months after the happy nuptials.Captain Quinn Alstrom of the U.S. Coast Guard was eager to start his newest post; however the excitement had nothing to do with the beautiful surroundings of Key West, and everything to do with his best friend’s wife.

Will Quinn’s surprise arrival in Veronica’s life re-spark the fire in the vivacious woman he remembered? Or, will the memory of her fallen husband stop the two of them from finding happiness?

A Manly Man by Jean Young
Confederate POW, Braxton Bolton, had an unexpected visitor the day before his execution, when Arabella Anderson walked into his jail cell and, in front of other POWs, kissed him until he shook with desire.

Two years prior, she had been the Lieutenant Colonel’s prisoner. While she was tortured and raped by the other Confederate soldiers, Bolton was different. He protected her from further suffering, and the grateful young woman had come to repay his kindness. While they became more and more intimate, she learned the story behind his kindness.

But what she learned while with her hero POW, turns the sweet girl into a fearsome warrior. One determined to save the soldier with a noble heart.

Hero of Her Heart by S.L. Hughson
Nicole Taylor has loved Vincent for years. Now he’s back from serving in the Army, and sheâ’s determined to make him see her as something other than a little sister.

After a heated Valentine’s date, Nicole is confused by Vince’s withdrawal. She confronts him, but no matter how hot their physical attraction, he keeps backing away.

Nicole helps him follow his lifelong dreams but he drifts further from her happily-ever-after plans. What will it take for him to see he is truly the hero of her heart?

Feathers by T. E. Hodden
Kerry only wanted to do right by Christopher. To protect him from the whispers of ‘coward’ and the shame of a white feather.

But the war doesn’t look like a grand adventure any more. All Kerry wants is Chris home safe. But will he still be the same man she once knew?

Goin’ Home by Philip Lisagor
How will Jack be able to put Iraq behind him and return home to Leah and their two children? The green peaceful coast of Ireland is the perfect landing zone from the brown violent landscape of Mesopotamia. Jack is humping his ruck along the North Atlantic coast when a chance encounter with an Irish maiden turns him all around, and he hears the voice of Leah in a magical moment calling him home.

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Waiting for News? Write on!

By the time you read this post, it will have been four weeks since I mailed out my queries for Doomsday Dragons.

The first week after they were gone, I was still combing through the manuscript. I read it aloud. Strengthened the sentences with stronger verbs and more precise nouns and descriptors. Tried to polish it to a sparkling gem.

Then I closed the Scrivener file and moved on to a different project.

What? Did I check my email every ten minutes looking for manuscript requests?

Not really. But I didn’t need to.

Early Responders

Shock of all shockers, I had answers to some of the queries in the very first week.

In fact, within six days, three agents responded with “no thanks.” I was impressed by this because all of them requested between four to eight weeks to get through their queries.

One of these only allowed query letters. Their only taste of my story came from the query description. Obviously, they weren’t impressed by dragons.

The others? I guessed they also probably weren’t piqued by a dragon story. It takes a very specific sort of person to imbibe the myth and fire.

The fourth response was a notice of an undeliverable mail. So even though I checked all the links and double-checked all the email addresses, one of the agencies was no longer receiving mail at the address they advertised on their website.

Four of twelve responses within one week. Not too shabby.

Except they all amounted to 100 percent rejection.

Non-Responders

There were just as many who made no promise to even respond to every query.

Of the twelve, four of them said that hearing nothing after a certain time frame would be equal to a “no thank you” email.

The surprise? The amount of time given before drawing this conclusion ranged from two weeks to twelve weeks.

Talk about holding out hope.

Or maybe it would be more accurate to assume dashed hopes. And then if an email magically appears, it can only be good news.

People I Pitched

Of course, the two people I pitched my idea to at the writer’s conference will get the full 90 to 120 days before I begin to assume the worst.

At least they’ll respond.

I hope they’ll remember me favorably enough to offer advice if they decide the project isn’t for them. Don’t I deserve at least that much?

The Rest of the Pack

That leaves only two out of twelve agencies that will still respond to me sometime during this lengthy waiting period.

Fortunately, I’m not holding my breath.

I’m not sitting on my hands or biting my nails.

I’m following the professional writer’s prescription for winning this waiting game: write something new.

In fact, I had to polish a novella that’s coming out in a month or two and deliver it to an editor. Then I nibbled on the idea for another short story.

And, of course, the women’s fiction novel I’d begun writing while waiting for the last of the beta edits on Doomsday Dragon still needed finishing.

The best way to insure a watched pot boils is to walk away.

In writing terms: write something else without constantly checking your in-box.

What about you? What are your tricks for making waiting bearable? Please share. Not that any of us our impatient or anything…

The Vanished Knight by M. Gerrick – 3.8 of 5 Stars

In the interest of promoting independently published authors, I often agree to review new releases. In the case of The Vanished Knight by M. Gerrick, I agreed to review the first book in her series The War of Six Crowns in exchange for a free eBook copy.

For those of you new to book publishing in the Amazon paradigm, the goal is to build chatter about your existing titles so that when a new title is released, people are excited to snap it up. I admire the indie authors who willingly put themselves out there with minimal support because they believe in the story they have to tell.

I read this book between July 6th and 9th but waited to post the review on my blog until today. Why? Because today, the second book in the series, The Heir’s Choice, releases on Kindle today. Get your copy by clicking here.

Story Summary

The Vanished Knight CoverCallan, orphaned at the age of eleven, is a foster child with a strange entity living within her. (Don’t get too intrigued by this entity because we learn NOTHING about its origin or real purpose in this book.) She also is plagued by strange dreams of knights and murder.

She lands into a new foster home, where her wealthy “brother” is less than pleased to have a new sister. Apparently, he had a sister who died (but there are mere hints about how and when) and his parents should have sought his permission before trying to replace her with this mousy girl.

They head off to an elite boarding school that is situated near a supposedly haunted castle. Callan likes to blend in, hide in plain sight, in order to cope with new situations. Unfortunately, several things happen the first day of school to prevent that.

In what should have been a pleasure trip, Callan falls into the hands of kidnappers from an alternate world. She is rescued by a boy from school, who apparently is a knight in the other realm.

Soon she discovers that her family might not be as dead as she always believed. This world is on the edge of war (as the title of the series suggests), and Callan appears to be caught between two powerful races who despise and distrust one another.

My Review

Does my summary end abruptly? So does the book. This is one of the reasons I give this book a 3.8 out of five stars on my rating scale.

The author created a winning character with Callan. The girl is compelling and sympathetic. Although she seems too passive at first, readers quickly realize the reasoning for this. Just enough of her history is given to us to help us understand her while yearning to find out more.

The three male characters aren’t nearly as compelling. Although Darrion comes across like a jerk, his strong personality fits his station and background. Due to the sparks that fly between him and Callan, I imagine there will be a romance between the two of them in later books.

Of course, Gawain already fancies himself in love with Callan. His easy-going personality makes him quite likable, but he’s not as well-rounded as he should be if he’s going to be a major player in the story.

The foster brother, James, is my least favorite character in the story (even above Callan’s kidnapper and the unhelpful museum curator). He has zero redeeming qualities. When bad things happen to him, I feel no sympathy. He’s simply a spoiled rich kid who feel entitled to whatever he wants (and that is not relatable to me or any of the young adults I know).

Apparently, he will play an important role in future stories because the sample chapter of the second book features him. His part in this story was minor, and his journey into the alternate world didn’t feel like natural story progression (another strike against this book and why it didn’t quite earn four stars).

Too much time is spent in our world since the actual “story” takes place in Nordaine. Even the title speaks to events happening in this other reality. Most of the events at the boarding school, which took up chapters, could have fit easily into two or three scenes. I did like the arrival scene, but most of the other byplay didn’t add to the depth of story or characters.

What was the problem in this story? Callan has an entity (still a mystery at the end of the book) that keeps her from developing close relationships, but she wants those. In the end, she discovers she might have family alive and well in the alternate world. I’ve read the book, contemplated what it was “really” about, and I’m still coming up blank (thus the lowered rating).

The beginning was confusing, jumping between three perspectives, dreams and reality, this world and that world. I feel like some young adult readers would have closed the book before things started happening.

All this book offers are more questions. Who are Callan’s parents? Why did someone want to kidnap her? What is the entity? Why does the book promise me a vanished knight when that is an underlying issue but not the heart of Callan’s story?

Because this is Callan’s story. Sure, it might also be a little bit of Darrion’s story, but that felt like an introduction to the magical otherworld more than something important. It hints that James has a story, but most readers will be happy when very little time is spent with the rich brat.

In short, this is one of those first books that irritates me. It doesn’t have it’s own story. It is nothing more than set-up for the rest of the series. It says, “Here are the characters. This is what’s going on that’s about to change everything. And we’ll get to that in the next installment.”

A Recommendation

I clicked over to pre-order the second book as soon as I finished this novel. Do you need more of a recommendation than that?

My biggest recommendation is to WAIT to read this until the second book is available. Lucky for you, that’s today. Your appetite will just be whetted for this universe Gerrick creates and this novel will end.

Overall, I believe this book will entertain lovers of all fantasy genres. I had a hard time putting it down after the first three of four confusing chapters. The medieval setting of the alternate universe will captivate those who love historical fiction from that era.

Love knights? You’ll meet some good and bad ones here. Think elves are out of this world? Right again. But they belong to the alternate reality created by Gerrick in this novel.

The scope isn’t quite epic because the cast isn’t too huge to keep straight. Maybe this is why I enjoyed the book (even though this review may give a conflicted recounting).

Pick up your copy of this book and it’s sequel today.

Whose story is it anyway?

In a non-parody of a comedic television show, let’s take a moment to investigate the ownership of a published work. Recently, this author has been pondering this oft-debated issue, and I’ve come up with four possibilities.

One of the co-authors in the romance anthology Accidental Valentine posted on the topic July 16, 2015. Her points made me reconsider this whole notion that a story belongs to any one person.

I hope you’ll take the time to read Wendy Sparrow’s post on this topic, as well as the comments (there were only two at the time of this writing). I won’t attempt to paraphrase what she says because I don’t want to twist her original meaning.

And there is the crux of this issue for me. How can I know Shakespeare’s intended meaning a few hundred years after his death? 

If an author is still living, and of sound mind, I suppose we could interview them to find out what they meant. However, if we assume that words can take on a life of their own when formed into a story, is the original intention even the point?

Those questions are to give you a hint how my brain arrived at the four possible owners of a story. (And I’m not talking about copyright issues because we have laws that clearly govern those.) Once a story is penned, published and consumed, does the story belong to the author, the readers, the literary community at large or the characters?

Perhaps you have a fourth alternative. I hope you’ll share it in the comments.

Author

As an author, it’s no surprise that my first thought of ownership centers on the story’s creator. Surely, the one who created it should be able to say, “That’s my story.”

As Wendy Sparrow says in her post, ” authors pour a little bit of themselves into what they write, so taking the author’s opinion away from the work might strip it of some of its value.”

I would say authors pour heart and soul into whatever piece of fiction they’re working on. And creative non-fiction based on personal experiences takes an even bigger chunk. If the author holds back, the writing lacks authenticity.

Like Hemingway said, “It is easy to write. Just sit in front of your typewriter and bleed.” (Read more on the debate of the true origination of this quote here.)

However, I can’t take full credit for any of the stories I’ve created. Something in the real world sparked the idea in my brain. It originated from that little seed. To grow it, I just kept expanding on the idea, asking “what if” until I had a solid story line.

Readers

I agree with Sparrow in that I am a reader first. I love to write. I live to write (or is that I write for a living?), but my first love is reading.

Once an author releases a story into the world through publishing, it settles into the hearts and minds of readers. Some stories are in the mind only as long as it takes to read them. Others embed themselves deep in the heart, offering up reminders of characters whose attitudes and experiences shaped my own worldview.

Do I write for readers? Yes. My stories are as much for them as it is for me. If I didn’t want to share it with someone, I wouldn’t.

Does that mean I’ve relinquished ownership to them?

What does that mean? Ownership, according to dictionary.com is “the state or fact of being a person who has or holds” some object. Ownership implies possession. If I possess it, it is mine.

Once I publish the story, I have consented to share its ownership. By making it available for public consumption, I’m sharing my creation. It’s like baking a cake. Everyone who consumes a part of the cake becomes owner of its deliciousness. I can’t take it back. It’s in them.

The same with written words. Once they are consumed, they become part of the consumer. That story is now part of the reader. It might go out as quickly as the cake. Or it might stay around for awhile (like the fat on my waistline from all the cake I’ve consumed over the years).

Sparrow says it well: “Authors want readers to invest in their stories…to become so involved that they care what happens to the characters. In some ways, we want to pass on ownership of our vision to the reader so that they immerse themselves in reading. It’s the only way a book becomes more than just text and becomes a journey.”

Literary Community

Once a book is published, it’s fodder for the public. One major voice in this realm is the literary community. You know who I mean, the professors at universities and English teachers at every level.

We’ve all suffered through a lecture on symbolism in some classic story or another. We were told the blue walls represented the author’s depression. The sword was a euphemism for death or power or kingship. (How can it be all three at once?)

In her post, Sparrow cited some literary figure and his theory on “The Death of an Author” (read more here if you’re interested). He’s one of many who believes if an author didn’t infer or state something in the text, it shouldn’t be later implied to be there.

Can we hear professors of literature everywhere sobbing?

Let’s face it, stories – especially fiction – are subjective. Each of us interpret the text through the stained glass of our own experiences. And the author did the same while they wrote it.

Can a story mean more than one thing? Certainly. It can live a thousand lives in the heart or mind of anyone who reads it and gleans meaning from it.

As an author, I want people to find themselves in my stories. I want them to relate to characters who are like them and find compassion for those who are completely contrary. Some of my writing is purely for entertainment, but even a short romance story I wrote had a deeper message: “breaking free from expectations takes determination.”

Characters

This is where my mind went after I read Sparrow’s post.

I might have birthed the story. In fact, I know I labored hard to perfect it on the page. It’s my baby. Or, I should say, it’s about a bunch of my babies. I’ve given them life by writing their story down and sharing it with others.

“Dream Architect” is whose story? Ashlin’s and Dylan’s. I told their story and submitted it to a publisher. The publisher liked it and bought the first American publishing rights to it. (So maybe the publisher is the owner of the story-for three years anyway.) Readers consumed the story.

But the story is about Ashlin and Dylan. It belongs to them. They lived it (as much as a fictional character can). They experienced the accidental encounter and the turmoil that followed. I wrote their experiences down and readers learned about them through reading, but the story is Ashlin’s and Dylan’s.

What do you think? Does a story have a single owner (possessor)? Do all of these people share in ownership of a story?