Wednesday, December 30, 2020

5 things in 2020 — a review

5 things (books, movies, etc.) I enjoyed in 2020
  1. To All The Boys I've Loved Before (2018)
  2. Rabbit Proof Fence (2002)
  3. Loved Mars, Hated the Food by Willie Handler
  4. Puppy Love by Becky
  5. Holidate (2020)

5 things that went well in 2020
  1. Recovering from sports injuries
  2. Communicating better with family
  3. Spending more time outdoors
  4. Setting up a standing desk at home
  5. Establishing better writing habits

5 things that could have gone better in 2020
  1. Work-life balance
  2. Eating habits
  3. Personal grooming (quarantine eyebrows, anyone?)
  4. Dealing with rude and mean people
  5. Cleaning the house

5 things I'm proud of in 2020
  1. Releasing "The Guy From The Flower Shop"
  2. Releasing "The Guy From The Internet"
  3. Starting this blog
  4. Making new friends though my newsletter
  5. Maintaining a decent gym routine

5 things I would like to work on 2021
  1. Finishing "The Guy From The Library"
  2. Write more of "The Guy From The Wedding"
  3. Watching more romantic comedies
  4. Getting a haircut 😅 (how does anyone have time right now?)
  5. Getting my garden under control

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Guy From The Wedding — Chapter 5

"So, I'm kinda going through a breakup at the moment. And it's still pretty fresh and...this is kind of embarrassing, but you remind me of her a little."

Laura cocked her head. "You mean she was Asian?"

"No, I didn't say that. And she's not. But you have the same hairstyle and your voice sounds similar and...you sort of move similar."

"We move similar? You being serious?“

"That sounds weird, doesn't it?"

"No... It does a bit to hear it, but I get it. You mean mannerisms. Little things people do that remind you of someone, even if they don't look anything like them."

"Exactly. It just took me by surprise, got a bit much."

"Must have been a bad breakup."

"It was the worst."

"Well, you don't have to talk about it if you don't want to, but...how fresh are we talking?"

"Six months or so?"

"That's not that fresh, is it? How long were you together?"

"A while. So, you know... Sorry again."

"Fair enough." It didn't excuse him behaving like an arse, but it certainly explained it. And he seemed like he was prepared to take responsibility for it, so maybe she's consider rescinding her harsh assessment of him after all. "So, where are you on the Getting Over It Timeline? Still turning off sad songs on the radio...or turning them up?"

Aidan grinned. "Come on, it's been six months. I'm not that pathetic. I'm getting out there."

"Yeah? How's that going?"

"Aw, you know, as well as can be expected."

"My condolences."

"You know what it's like then?"

"Oh yeah, too well. My story's not much better than yours."

"Sorry to hear that."

"Don't be." Laura raised her eyebrows and flashed him her most sardonic smile. "All men are arseholes, which you did prove tonight, even though you're sorry and yes, I do forgive you. But you know, it's not like the apps aren't full of blokes who aren't sorry when they mess up. And I just need to get better at remembering that in the heat of the moment. Not that it matters anyway."

"Why's that?"

"Cos I'm giving up on dating."

"Aren't you a little young to be giving up?"

"I don't mean for good! Just, you know, for a while. It just...hasn't been great." Her smile faded. "And so many people are getting married at the moment. You know, I went to two weddings last November, and I've got another one to go to next month."

"That's a lot of weddings."

"Right? It just rubs in it and like you said, sometimes it gets a bit much. And I don't know... Maybe I wasn't ready to start dating when I did, and maybe I'm still not ready."

"Funny you say that, I've kinda been wondering the same thing. About me, I mean. Not you."

"Yeah?"

Their eyes met. He chewed the inside of his cheek and Laura noticed a hint of a dimple. She'd always liked dimples on guys, and this guy seemed like he might have other qualities she'd like too. Like the way he still fidgeted with the umbrella after twice attempting to setting it aside, and how tidy his fingernails were, and how good his hair looked even after he ruffled it to help it dry.

But what she liked most was how comfortable their conversation had become, even after they'd made such terrible first impressions. She didn't mind him so much now. And there was a decent chance he was an all right guy after all.

The speaker above the buttons crackled. "Hello? Everyone all right there?"

Laura scrambled to answer. "Yes, we're fine! Can you get us out?"

"Yep, you'll be out soon. Lucky it's only a minor fault. We'll have it looked after in a couple minutes."

Aidan was on his feet again too, adjusting his shirt where it bunched up and hugged his body in uncomfortable places. The air was awkward again somehow, now that they were getting ready to leave. He cleared his throat and Laura cleared hers too, then acknowledged him with a nod and a nervous smile.

"So, this is it," she declared, and cringed internally at how cliché she sounded. "You can relax for the rest of the night and not worry about offending me."

"I'm sure I'll still find a way." He smiled. That dimple beckoned her again. He held up the umbrella. "Thanks for this, by the way. You didn't have to. I'll bring it back before I fly off."

"Flying off? You going on holiday?"

"No, headed back home on Tuesday. I'm from Melbourne."

"Really! I wouldn't have guessed. What are—"

The speaker crackled again. "Hello, Miss? Sorry to keep you waiting. The lift's about to move. It might jump a bit, so make sure you're holding onto something."

With a creak and a judder, the elevator came back to life. The technician waited for them on the ground floor. He pulled Laura aside for a chat that went on for longer that she wanted it too. And when she finally turned around to say goodbye, Aidan was already gone.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Visiting Ellen Mint

Last week, I visited Ellen Mint's gorgeous blog for a little interview about "The Guy From The Internet".


And while you're there, be sure to check out Ellen's books too — if you're over 18, of course! With the world the way it is right now, a little hot cinnamon roll romance might just hit the spot.





Friday, December 18, 2020

A Stolen Heart by Kayelle Allen

Kayelle Allen is a long-time author with an impressive backlist, who offers so much support to the online romance author community. I was thrilled when she expressed interest in being featured on my blog.

Here's my interview with this lovely human and her exciting new book.


Kayelle, tell us a bit about yourself and your writing journey.

KAYELLE ALLEN: Thank you for allowing me to share with your readers! I’ve been writing since I could hold a crayon, too many years to count. My big break came in 2003 when I joined an online critique group. One of the members took me under her wing and mentored me. Barbara Karmazin passed a few years later, but I will never forget her. She taught me the value of deep point of view when writing, and how to be professional as an author. She even introduced me to her publisher and insisted I submit my book.

Within four days I had an offer of a contract. The book was published only a few months later.
I have since released multiple books, and I’m fully indie published. Next year I anticipate the release of at least four books in the first half and hope to have more ready for the second.

What does this time of year mean to you?

KAYELLE: For one thing, it’s my wedding month. My husband and I celebrate our 47th on the 23rd. Hard to believe it’s been that long. In my bio, it says I’ve been married so long I’m tenured. That’s pretty much the truth!

My middle child has his birthday this month as well, so there’s that. I’m not big on holiday decorations, but I love seeing them. One of my most successful books is set during this month. A Romance for Christmas takes place on Christmas Eve and tells a lovely story of a widow and widower whose four-year-old daughters are friends, and end up together for Christmas. The book is dedicated to my sister and her late husband.

The story is truly a one-off for me. I write science fiction romance, and this little book is my only contemporary. I love the spirit it brings to mind when reading it. Sweet, without even a kiss, and it’s short enough to read in about an hour.

How about the book you're promoting today — what's it about?

My latest book is A Stolen Heart, which is about an immortal "retired" space pirate who stumbles across a toddler running for his life. Although the immortal doesn't realize the danger at that time, he does stop and take notice of the frightened child.

When the person tracking him shows up, he instinctively protects the boy. But now what? He can't turn a toddler loose or abandon him. To top it off, the little one is being coached on how to be a thief, just as he was when younger. There's no way he can take in this child. He can't let mortals know he's immortal, but how can he turn away this homeless little boy who immediately steals his heart?

That's a great setup. It must have been fun to write!

The thing I love most about A Stolen Heart is that the young hero is sooo adorable. He's half-human and half-Kin, a feline humanoid race. He looks human, until you see his cat's eyes. Believe me, the adorable factor is off the charts. Little Senth is also the full-grown hero in At the Mercy of Her Pleasure, my first book. I always wondered how he came to be adopted by someone so different from himself, so when I saw the opportunity to write this story, I jumped on it.

What was the most interesting thing you had to research for it?

Researching how thieves work, and how to break into a house was probably the weirdest thing I ever looked up. I remember thinking that anyone monitoring my search history would be sure I was some dangerous criminal. I looked up how to break and enter, where to fence stolen goods, how to plan a getaway, and a whole lot more. I even wrote a Thieves' Guild Handbook.

Subscribers of my newsletter who take the "Citizen's Journey" -- an in-depth look at my story world, will get to download the booklet free. Much of that came out of my research. Sign up and you also get a free book, Lights Out: Bringer of Chaos, a prequel in the Bringer of Chaos series. This series features some of the immortals in my other books. You'll find the link on my website.

A Stolen Heart — a sci-fi romance adventure


When he rescues a half-human orphan, a glorified space pirate turned entrepreneur sets in motion a chain of events that threatens to topple the powerful Thieves’ Guild he once led.

Multiple layers of conspiracy unfold, reaching all the way to Luc’s immortal ex—the king. Behind each solved mystery looms an unseen foe, undoing the good Luc accomplishes. For the sake of this child, Luc must postpone his own freedom and master his desire for revenge or he will violate an ancient vow. Worse, he’ll put the toddler at risk.

At war with his compassion for the vulnerable child, loyalty to the king, duty to the Guild, and the bright lure of freedom he’s coveted for centuries, Luc seeks the right path. Will he choose liberty and unparalleled success, or restore the Thieves’ Guild to its former glory while overseeing the child’s training?

A hard choice for any man. For an immortal whose inner monster can destroy on sight? Impossible.

A pirate with a monstrous past can never be trusted with an innocent child. He must ensure the child is protected, safe, nowhere near danger. Nowhere near him. Even if this little boy has already stolen his heart…

Genre(s): Sci-fi, Sci-fi romance, Adventure
Published by Romance Lives Forever Books


Excerpt

In this scene from A Stolen Heart, the immortal Luc has rescued a three-year-old boy and to protect him, is taking him home as part of a foster program. Having worked with human teenagers for decades, he is comfortable with young people, but children baffle him. And because his nightmare eyes are terrifying to humans, he covers them with lenses that turn his eyes entirely solid black. The scene opens with them in Luc’s hoversine, a floating limo.

"Is that a place to play?" Senthys pointed.
"Where?"
"It goes up and down." The boy gestured, moving his hand like a wave in the sea.
It took Luc a moment to realize what the boy was seeing. "That's called the Monster. It's an anti-grav-powered roller coaster." In the distance, it clawed streaks against a steel blue sky. The sharp curves and steep inclines had rocketed the ride to the pinnacle of success in the empire when it opened the previous month. On Tarth, it had even displaced him as the hottest topic in the tabloids. The reprieve had lasted all of one day. Luc pulled back. "I can't believe you can see that far."
"I see better than humans. Can you see that far?"
"You mean because I have 'weird' eyes?"
"Uh huh."
"Looks like we both see better than humans. I mean, than other people." How odd to have a discussion with a child. Usually, none stayed in his presence long enough to say hello.
"Do they hurt?"
"My eyes?" His real eyes would send the boy screaming in the other direction, but it was sweet of him to show concern. "They don't hurt. I cover them for protection."
The boy squinted. "Do my eyes need 'tection?"
"Pro-tection." He touched the boy's hand. "Yours are fine. Mine are sensitive to light." It was an old lie but kept people from asking him to show them his real eyes. He fished out dark glasses he wore in the event of a lens failure, and put them on. "I wear these if I'm in the sun all day."
"Can I try?"
Luc considered it. "Why not?" He pulled them off and helped the boy adjust them over his ears and nose.
The wraparound glasses dwarfed the young face. When they slid down his nose, the child tilted back his head and pushed them up.
"Don't move." After pulling out his mobile, Luc captured an image. Without proof, his friends would never believe he'd been this close to a child without it fleeing in terror.
"Do us too!" Senthys patted the seat beside him. "Take our picture."
Luc set his device to hover an arm's length away, then put his head closer to the boy's. "Portrait. Capture." The mobile made a soft click signaling completion.
When he showed the image to the boy, Senthys squealed. "That's me! And that's you."
"Yes, it is." The glasses had the name Draap on the earpiece. No kid this age could afford those and it was Luc's preferred brand. Proof he hadn't faked the entire thing.
His friends would lose substantial bet money with this.


About the Author

Kayelle Allen writes Sci Fi with misbehaving robots, mythic heroes, role-playing immortal gamers, and warriors who purr. She is the author of multiple books, novellas, and short stories. She's also a US Navy veteran and has been married so long she's tenured.

Sign up for her newsletter and free Sci-Fi stories, book recommendations, and other reader exclusives.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Who inspired Richard from "The Guy From The Internet" — and why it's important

This topic is a little unpleasant, but I felt it was important to touch on, because every lady (and most guys) I know who've worked in an office has come across a co-worker like this.

I'm talking about Richard from "The Guy From The Internet", the one Holly reveals has been acting "dodgy" around her at work.

When writing this book, I wondered if only letting the reader know, second-hand, about Richard's dodgy behaviour was story-worthy enough. I wondered if readers would expect to be shown the guy in action, or if they'd expect to see something at the more extreme end of the behavioural spectrum — the stuff that's most certainly very bad. After all, that stuff does happen often enough to realistically portray in an office setting.

The thing is, I feel "mild" dodgy behaviour is bad enough too, and happens often enough to boot. I worry that when fiction focuses only on extremes of behaviour, we may come to exclude it from the lens through which we view reality.

In my opinion, letting slide behaviour that's "just dodgy" is a slippery slope to letting worse behaviours slide.

How many times have the recipients of dodgy behaviour been told (or told themselves) they're just "making a big deal" out of behaviour that's "not that bad" — and yet having to deal with it over time causes them a build-up of anxiety that undermines their self-confidence and ability to shine?

How many times are we willing to say it's fine that people we care about become the proverbial boiled frog?

Richard was inspired by those colleagues (both male and female) who behave intrusively and predatorily, who don't quite appreciate the meaning of consent, yet don't always tread obviously enough across the line that they get in real trouble.

They trawl the murky social waters, taking small advantage of those around them who are too nice, too non-confrontational, or too conforming to rock the boat by speaking up.

They may behave like "white knights". Sometimes they're called the "missing stair". They're the ones who get labelled as "kind of creepy", but no one can firmly quantify why.

At best, they simply demonstrate leftover habits from their toddler years that they were never taught to take responsibility for. At worst, they take advantage of how society still deems it normal to be disrespectful towards certain groups and individuals in the population.

It's not okay, and it never has been. If you've ever been bothered by behaviour like this, you're not crazy or over-sensitive for being upset about it.

Though Richard's character was a minor part in "The Guy From The Internet", having him in the story like this was my way of offering some validation to anyone caught in that "grey area". Anyone dealing with the anxiety of being preyed upon with no one to support them.

I see you. This is a thing. You are not alone.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Book Blitz: The Last Christmas by Seelie Kay

Today, I'm taking part in Seelie Kay's book blitz for her latest release, "The Last Christmas".

Readers take note, this is an adult book with a 3-flame heat rating. But if you're comfortable with that kind of thing, the hope and family factors in this contemporary Christmas romance sound certain to touch your heart 💙

An Interview with Seelie Kay

Q.  Why do you write romance?

Because I am fascinated by the games people play to find and secure a lasting relationship, which is not always love. There’s the chase, the courtship, the falling, the surrender. That’s what I try to capture in my stories.

Q.  Do you prefer a certain type of romantic hero?

I adore smart, dashing gentlemen who aren’t afraid to live on the edge. They can be a bad boy, a billionaire, a prince, or a secret agent. That hint of danger just hooks me! However, I they have to be paired with strong, independent women who aren’t afraid to fight for what they want, even love.

Q.  Why did you write “The Last Christmas?”

My father is 94-years-old and as you might expect, has had a number of serious medical, age-related events. Each time, we were told to prepare for his death. Each time, he survived. The fact was, my Dad wasn’t ready to die. And his children and his grandchildren weren’t ready to let him go either. So I started thinking about terminal diagnoses and how they are really a best guess, not a guarantee. That, of course, led to thoughts how a terminal diagnosis often causes people to give up and prematurely mourn the death of the person who is ill. I wondered how that impacted the outcome. And because I was preparing to write a holiday book, I also started thinking about the power of family, and how, time after time, families are capable of creating miracles. 

That led me to “The Last Christmas.” Christmas truly is a time for miracles, and thought it important that everyone be able to experience one through the tale of the Wright Family.


The Last Christmas by Seelie Kay

When the doctors say there’s no hope, Santa begs to differ. After all, he claims, miracles are love combined with action to get the desired result. And at Christmas time, everyone deserves a miracle!

David Wright is dying from cancer. He is not expected to see another Christmas. At least that’s what the medical professionals say. Fortunately, Santa begs to differ. After all, modern medicine is nothing more than a best guess. Santa believes anything is possible until you give up.

When Santa tells David’s wife, Joan, that heaven is full and she has to keep her husband alive, she is beside herself. She has no medical skills. How can she save anyone’s life? Set your skepticism aside as Santa embraces a family already mourning their father’s terminal diagnosis and teaches them that a Christmas miracle doesn’t always require heavenly intervention.

Sometimes, all it takes is a family with enough love to create their own. As Santa says, a true miracle is when love combines with action to get the desired results. And only humans are capable of that. Will Santa’s words fall on deaf ears? Or will Team Wright find a way to save their father’s life?

Release Date: December 11, 2020
Publisher: Extasy Books
Genre(s): Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romance
Heat level: 3 flames


Excerpt

“It’s not about you, it’s about him, Joan.,” a grumbly voice said. “You’re looking at this all wrong.”

Joan turned so fast she almost lost her balance. She glared at the old man who had spoken. He was around seventy, with ruddy cheeks and twinkling blue eyes. And thick white hair. Lots of white hair. Flowing over his shoulders, winding up in a very lush beard. On top of his head was perched a brightly colored red knit hat. She frowned. “Wait a minute. You’re Santa Claus. Without the red suit, but clearly, you’re him. I’d know you anywhere.” 

The man bowed and with a smile, said, “At your service.” He gestured toward a park across the street. “Let’s take a walk.”

“Oh, no. I’m not going anywhere with you.” Joan shook her head. “I didn’t mean you actually were Santa Claus. Everyone knows he doesn’t exist. I just meant you looked like him. You’re just a man who looks like him. I don’t know you. Why would I…” She glared at him. “You’re not even wearing a red suit. And since when has Santa taken up armchair psychiatry?”  She ran a hand through her blonde hair. “I must be hallucinating.” Despite her objections, she followed him across the street. 

Santa laughed. “My dear, I have been dispensing advice since I was old enough to talk and make people listen. God chose my role a long time ago and I have gotten very good at it.” He looked toward the heavens. “Sorry, old boy. Still working on that humility!” He chuckled. “Man never stops reminding me.” He smiled at Joan. “Do you sense any ill-intentions from me? Of course not. I’m Santa. All I want to do is talk.”

Joan reached out and touched his shoulder.

He laughed again. A laugh that came directly from his belly. “Yes, I’m real. Well, as real as a centuries-old spirit gets. I even eat all those cookies children leave me each year. And let me tell you, that’s a heavenly feat.” Again, he looked skyward. “Yes, sir, I am well aware that borders on gluttony. A sin. You know darn well it has nothing to do with gluttony and everything to do with the magic of Christmas, an affirmation that Santa is real. I do it for the children.” He smiled at Joan. “Sometimes, He gets a little overbearing with his angels.”

He smirked. “Even God has his faults. He is by no means perfect.” A strong wind swirled through the plaza, nearly catching his knitted cap. He clapped his hand on his head to hold it down. He whispered, “And he doesn’t take criticism too well, either.”

Joan stared at the man. Surely, she was losing it. Santa a spirit, an angel? He and God didn’t even travel in the same circles. She shook her head, trying to make the hallucination go away.

Santa sighed. “I know, I know. You’ve been taught that I’m not real. That I’m a myth. That’s a rumor started by Satan himself, the old devil. He can’t stand the fact that people embrace the goodness in the world. And that I spread good cheer. He would much rather unleash a plague and make people miserable. He hates Christmas. He hates that the birth of Christ is celebrated, and his birth, well, is not. He really can’t stand the fact that love binds people so tightly during the holidays.” Santa shook his fist toward the ground. “The fool pouts all through the holidays.” He then sat up straight and gazed at Joan. “Christmas is really about love, you know. All kinds of love. The type of love he’ll never have. Love of family, love of children, love of—”

“What the heck do you want?” Joan blurted. “People are starting to stare.”

About Seelie Kay

Seelie Kay is a nom de plume for a writer, editor, and author with more than 30 years of experience in law, journalism, marketing, and public relations. When she writes about love and lust in the legal world, something kinky is bound to happen! In possession of a wicked pen and an overly inquisitive mind, Ms. Kay is the author of 18 works of fiction, including the Kinky Briefs series, the Feisty Lawyers series, The Garage Dweller, A Touchdown to Remember, The President’s Wife, The White House Wedding and The President’s Daughter.

When not spinning her kinky tales, Ms. Kay ghostwrites nonfiction for lawyers and other professionals. She resides in a bucolic exurb outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she shares a home with her son and enjoys opera, gourmet cooking, organic gardening, and an occasional bottle of red wine. 
 
Ms. Kay is an MS warrior and ruthlessly battles the disease on a daily basis. Her message to those diagnosed with MS: Never give up. You define MS, it does not define you!

Giveaway: Midweek Madness Christmas Shopping — ends 31 Dec

There a multi-author, multi-genre giveaway here! Midweek Madness Christmas shopping ends 31 Dec.


Thursday, December 10, 2020

My favourite Christmas traditions

Christmas will be unusual this year. Our local family presence is thin on the ground, and I expect there'll be virtual shenanigans going on... or not! Who knows?

Even though we're used to dealing with distance, 2020 feels like an odd one — what with moods and other prevailing elements in the mix.

Then again, Christmas is unusual anyway these days. We're older and busier, our tastes have changed and relationships evolved. Favourite faces have disappeared while new ones have joined us. Such is life, and the Christmas traditions I once loved have all but disappeared:
  • Extended family under one roof
  • Christmas lights all over the living room
  • Recording sing-alongs and silly home movies
  • Sleepovers with my cousins
  • Grandma laughing at us over her coffee
Don't worry, this isn't a sad blog post. There's beauty in change. That we no longer celebrate in the same way is kind of nice, like the way flower buds blossom and later become fruit.

One of my favourite holiday traditions of modern times is actually not Christmassy at all: sending emoji-laden text messages to every group chat I'm a part of.

Okay, maybe it's ridiculous. But it brings us together; friends, family — regardless of age, generation, location, device, disposition, or pop culture preferences.

And that's what Christmas means to me.

Photo by Lucie Liz from Pexels

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The Guy From The Wedding — Chapter 4

"Hold the door!"

Aidan didn't expect to see Laura running into the elevator after him. She mumbled an apathetic thanks and leaned against the far corner. She crossed her arms and said nothing, lips pursed as the doors shut and the lift descended. She obviously wasn't coming after him.

A guttural grinding noise echoed in the shaft around them. Aidan looked up to the ceiling, for all the good that would do, just as the elevator lurched and came to a sudden halt.

"You've gotta be kidding," Laura muttered under her breath. She pushed past him and thumbed the Emergency Call. It rang four times before an operator answered.

Aidan zoned out while they talked. The night was catching up with him, despite the shower and a fresh shirt, and if they were really stuck, there wasn't going to be anything they could do about it. Laura wasn't rude, but it was clear she had an assertive streak. He could respect that. But he still felt sorry for the guy. When he caught the words "a couple of hours", he withered inside and slid down the back wall of the elevator.

She rolled her eyes, glancing at him before sitting down too, as far as she could get from him in this small space. The way she sighed and rubbed her temples made him uneasy, and suddenly too aware of the situation waiting for him back home.

"This is just great." Her voice cracked a little.

"It could be worse." Aidan cringed at his flimsy response, but he was keen for the distraction.

"Thanks, Mr. Brightside," she snapped. "Sorry. I'm sure you were just making conversation, but this is a pretty crap situation."

"Are you this much of a downer at parties too? Oh wait..." He shouldn't have said that. As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he recoiled from them.

For a moment, it looked like she was going to give him another serve, but she just laughed. It was a barbed laugh, but a laugh all the same. "You're no picnic yourself."

"Yeah, guess not." He fidgeted with the umbrella. "So...what was the deal upstairs? Did you used to have an eating disorder or something?"

Laura scowled at him. "Are you serious?"

"I'm sorry. I don't know what I can and can't say now. I didn't know you'd take what I said that way and I want to understand why. I mean it."

She studied him for what felt like a full minute before her expression softened. She picked at the end of a thread near the seam of her boots.

"I've never had an eating disorder. It's just not a good thing to say to girls— to women. We're already under a lot of pressure to look a certain way, act a certain way. It's just...you just don't say stuff like that to a woman you don't know, all right? Guys do that kind of thing all the time and it's not cool. You don't know what people have been through."

He nodded. Laura gathered her hair over one shoulder and combed her fingers through it. It reminded him too much of things he wanted to forget and his toes twitched inside his shoes.

"Hey," he ventured, still rolling the umbrella in his hands, "sorry about before. You're right, I shouldn't have said that. It wasn't even that good a joke anyway. And, um, sorry for giving you stick at the wedding too."

She eyed him suspiciously. Boy, what a story she must have to be this suspicious of an apology. Aidan didn't push it. In the end, it wasn't up to him whether she accepted it or not.

But she smiled. "Apology accepted. Maybe you're not that big an arse after all."

"No, I can assure you I am, but I usually make people wait a few months before telling them."

She laughed again. He decided he liked the sound of it.

"So what's your story then?" she asked. "Wait, let me guess. You're some hot shot investment banker who was looking to pick up at a friend of a friend's wedding, but when no one talked to you, you thought having a tanty would be a way to get attention?"

"Ouch! You really go for the jugular, don't you?"

"Am I wrong?"

"Yes, you are so wrong. But you don't need to hear my story. It's pretty pathetic."

"Try me."

Now it was his turn to sigh. He set the umbrella to one side. "All right, but you're not allowed to judge me."

Friday, December 4, 2020

Lyndi Alexander's favourite book (and her post-apocalyptic YA series)

Earlier this year, I asked author Lyndi Alexander to tell me about her favourite book. After thinking about it for a while, she sent me her answer. Check it out 🌸


Friday, November 27, 2020

Something special for December

For the whole of next month, 50c from every sale of "The Guy From The Internet" will be donated to Black Rainbow, an LGBTQI+SB support organisation here in Australia.

If you'd like your purchase to mean something extra, on top of making an indie author do a happy dance, grab your copy of my sweet romance novella anytime during December.


About Black Rainbow


Black Rainbow is a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Sistergirl and Brotherboy (LGBQTI+SB) organisation in the pursuit of positive health and wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lesbian LGBQTI+SB*. 
Through our grassroots and diverse approaches, we strive to alleviate the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI+SB people. We have several new and exciting community initiatives that will be launched in November 2020.
We are a non-profit that is 100% Indigenous owned and operated. Black Rainbow is premised by advocacy, leadership, and solutions which identify and address social and cultural determinants of wellbeing as they relate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians whom identify as LGBTIQ+SB.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

5 things I'm thankful for in 2020

We don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Perth, but some folk still observe it informally, especially when it comes to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Well, there may not be pumpkin pie and turkey near my dinner table, but I still like to take the opportunity to think about what I'm thankful for.

There are evergreen things I give thanks for all the time, like my health, access to clean water and food, a loving partner, a caring family (even if we get on each other's nerves sometimes!!), great weather, and nourishing friendships.

But then there are things exclusive to the year. And, oh, how special 2020 has been...

Photo by Kiy Turk on Unsplash

1. Lockdown was bearable in WA


There's talk of a second wave coming to Western Australia next year, but that doesn't stop me feeling grateful for how bearable our first wave's lockdown was, compared to many other places in the world. We could have had it a lot worse.

2. Getting more opportunities to learn and talk about important issues


I don't like the circumstances leading up to the BLM eruption earlier this year, but the worldwide protest and visibility has made it so much easier to have difficult conversations about injustice, oppression, race, misunderstandings and misgivings. At least in my social bubbles, there's common ground now for learning together and educating each other. I'm very thankful for that.

3. Releasing two books!


For a while, I worried that I wouldn't achieve anything this year, only to find that looking at writing as a matter of "achievement" is what would hold me back. Switching to a "just learning and having fun" mindset got me back on track with my writing, and got both "The Guy From The Flower Shop" and "The Guy From The Internet" out into the world.

4. Finding a good physiotherapy studio


Sometimes you don't know you're missing something until you stumble upon it. The studio I'm at now has such a welcoming vibe about it, the staff are so friendly, and there's a positive atmosphere. I don't want to blame the old place I was at, because they do help a lot of people. But I was hoping for a more wellness-focused vibe, which this new place seems to have plenty of. Lesson learned: never be afraid to shop around! What a lucky find. I'm thankful there are places like this, and hopeful that they stay this way for the long term!

5. The option to switch off


I don't take this for granted at all, especially knowing that not everybody gets the choice to do this. And I think it's important to make the distinction between feeling guilty for what you have (definitely don't feel guilty!) and showing gratitude by appreciating what you have and trying to help lift others up. Everyone deserves a break and a fairer life. Everyone.

To all of you who celebrate at this time of year, have the happiest of happy Thanksgivings 🧡

Friday, November 20, 2020

A Little In Love With Death by Anna M. Taylor

Today's guest post is about a gothic romance by New York native, Anna M. Taylor. If this genre floats your boat, be sure to check out Anna's website for some gorgeous inspiration shots that make up the settings in her books.

Ps. How awesome is the excerpt!!


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The "family dinner" scene

I want to talk about that family dinner scene in "The Guy From The Internet". Although it was an awkward experience for Holly, I found it one of the most natural scenes to write. The Chee family's energy, their dialogue, the little bubbles of chaos that pop every now and then — all of it felt very real to me, even though I was just sitting at my computer, probably eating some very non-Asian snacks.

This book isn't based on a true story, nor are the characters based on real people, but I loved getting to draw from real qualities in people I know. A couple of characters' quirky turns of phrases and exchanges — like "Dad" Chee telling Alain to excuse him because he's talking to "his daughter" — are things I've certainly heard around my family's dinner table, and around the tables of other families I've had the pleasure of joining for dinner.

Photo by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash

When I started writing this novella, I didn't mean for it to be culturally infused family drama in addition to a romance. I didn't think anyone in my readership would care about the weirdness that is the Southeast Asian language and culture.

But after a while, I realised it's the sharing of culture that makes it less "weird", and that I still love it even if my friends may never understand it. Then, it became really important to me to let the quirks shine through in Holly's family.

Now that the book is out, a small part of me wishes I could have shared a little more. Maybe showed some of Candace's love-and-friction dynamic with "Ma" Chee, or more of Alain's relationship with his sisters. I would have liked to have dug into Florian's background a little more, and explored how Jedda's relationship with both sides of her family led to her and Holly becoming friends.

Well, shoulda, woulda, coulda, as they say around here. "The Guy From The Internet" is a lean little romance, and I hope you like it.

Happy reading!



Friday, November 13, 2020

What makes a good gift?

I'm visiting Jana Richards today to talk about what makes a good gift.

Gifts aren't my primary "love language", so every Christmas and birthday presents a fresh puzzle of what to get someone. If you take the love languages test linked in the post, feel free to come back here and let me know what your results were (and what you reckon makes a good gift).

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Friday, November 6, 2020

Linda O'Connor on success (and her brand new book!)

The last time Linda O'Connor visited, she talked about the creative endeavours keeping her busy. Well, she's certainly been busy over the last couple of months, getting her brand new book ready for release.

She's here today to tell you a little more about it, and about how she defines success in her author career.

Linda, what does success mean to you?

I feel successful every time I finish a novel. My books are all around 50,000 words in length. The sense of accomplishment after plotting, planning, wading through the mushy middle, and pushing through to the end is like none other. It gives me a feeling of pride – even after 15 published stories. I would love to have earn enough from my writing to support myself but that would be icing on the cake. Real success, to me, is getting the stories in my head written and out there for others to enjoy.

This month, I’m celebrating the release of Don’t Mess with Christmas, the fourth book in the Dr. Brogan Corkie Matchmaking Doctor series. The medical romantic comedies in this series are all stand-alone stories. It’s matchmaking at its funniest! 

Don’t Mess with Christmas

Dr. Brogan Corkie is happily semi-retired from medicine and now has time for other hobbies. Her passion for food is second only to her skill at matchmaking!

Parker Roy grew up in the middle of four brothers and has lived with enough testosterone to last her a lifetime. She’s finally moved out and made a life of her own. Between putting the finishing touches on the set for Mapleton’s Christmas play, plowing snow, and transforming her hydroponic greenhouse into a Christmas wonderland, it’s ramping up to be a hectic season. 

Dr. Julian Murphy, the only allergist in town, has his eye on the woman behind the set design of the holiday play. He’s volunteering backstage in the hope of getting to know her. There’s a bit of a snag when she’s referred to his clinic for a rash – doctors aren’t allowed to date their patients – but Dr. Brogan Corkie doesn’t see it as an insurmountable problem and steps in to give their romance a nudge. She’d better be right because, if not, it could seriously mess with Christmas.

The allergist or the rash– which itch does Parker want to scratch?

Series: Dr. Brogan Corkie Matchmaking Doctor (Book 4)
Release date: November 2, 2020
Publisher: Interlock Publishing
Genre: Medical Romantic Comedy
Rating: PG-13

Excerpt

Get a grip. Mary’s Boy Child. Dates are supposed to be fun. Parker’s shoulders sagged. If only. 
She blew out a breath. Was this all worth it? She could be in comfy sweats, with a big bowl of buttered popcorn, curled up on her favourite chair watching a movie. Cozy, fun, stress-free. 
Her cell phone rang making her jump. “Hello?” 
“What are you wearing?”  
Parker smiled reluctantly. Hailey Gibson, her best friend since grade two, got right to the point. “Yoga pants and a hoodie.” 
“March yourself into that bedroom and change right now. You are going on that date.” Hailey tsked. “I’ll be there in five.” 
“No need. I’m kidding.” Parker pursed her lips. “I’m wearing black plants and a blue sweater.” 
“The fitted ones that go to your ankle?” Hailey’s voice was suspicious.  
“Yes.” 
“The cashmere sweater with the low back and pearl buttons?” 
“Yes.” 
“Jewelry?” 
Parker rolled her eyes. “Pink and yellow crystal pendant with the matching earrings – the dangly ones.” 
“Perfume?” 
“Definitely not.” 
“Okay, maybe you’re telling the truth.” Parker imagined the consternation in Hailey’s blue eyes. “Maybe.”  
Parker laughed. “I am. I can send you a pic.” She leaned against the bathroom counter. “Oh ye of little faith.” 
“Huh. I know you too well, Parker. Any little excuse and you’d be backing out of that date. I’m not going to let that happen. Should I come over to drive you?” 
Parker sighed. “How did you know I was having second thoughts?” Her voice was quiet. 
Her best friend didn’t even say I told you so. “Twin vibes.” Parker’s eyes filled. “Parker, just relax and try to enjoy yourself. You put too much pressure on yourself. You think every date is an interview for marriage. Don’t. Sometimes people get together to have fun and…enrich their souls.” 
Parker harrumphed. “I don’t need my soul enriched.” 
“Maybe Julian does. Look, he sounds like a great guy – talented, smart, easy on the eyes. And he’s taking you to Fire and Ice. Not a bad way to spend a Friday night. Pretend he’s one of your brothers. No scratch that. Pretend you’re meeting to discuss the stage set. Just give him a chance – get to know him.” 
Parker made a face. “I always seem to say something stupid and blow it.” 
“You can’t blow it, Parker. You can’t have a relationship if you have to watch what you say. Your true soul mate will overlook an occasional blunder.” 
“Is that supposed to be reassuring?” 
“Yes.” 
Parker held the phone away from her ear. Ouch. 
Hailey continued at a lower volume. “If you don’t jibe, it wasn’t meant to be. No harm, no foul.” 
“I suppose.” 
“And if you don’t mesh, you can get the rash sorted out. It’s a win-win.” 
Parker laughed ruefully. “I guess. In a pique of bravado I told him that all my dates were fantastic. Nothing could be further from the truth.” 
“Repeat after me. I am kind and considerate, have a great sense of humour, am a smart, successful businesswoman, and I’m fun to hang out with.” 
“I’m a mess.” 
Hailey laughed. “No, that you are not. You’ve got your shit together, Parker. You just need to ratchet that confidence up a notch.” 
“I’m trying.” 
“You go, girl. It’s 6:40. No more stalling. Put on some lipstick so you don’t look anemic, a little blush to cover the pallor, and get ’er done.” 
“All right. Will do.” 
“Send me deets.” 
Parker shook her head with a laugh.  
“Have fun.” Hailey had been a cheerleader in high school. Pep talks were her thing.  
“I’ll try.” 
“That’s the spirit,” Hailey said dryly.  
Parker hung up the phone with a chuckle.  
She fastened the necklace and earrings, her hands no longer shaking. She looked at herself once last time in the mirror and squared her shoulders. “Here goes nothing.”

Buy:

Only 99c!


About Linda O'Connor

Award-winning author Linda O’Connor started writing romantic comedies when she needed a creative outlet other than subtly rearranging the displays at a local home décor store. Her books have enjoyed bestseller status. When not writing, she’s a physician at an Urgent Care Clinic. She shares her medical knowledge in fast-paced, well-written, sexy romances – with an unexpected twist. Her favourite prescription to write? Laugh every day. Love every minute.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Take a peek (at D.V. Stone's blog)

I'm visiting D.V. Stone's blog today, sharing a peek through my window.


Thank you for having me, D.V.!



Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

It's time for a break...

 

Photo by Ales Me on Unsplash


I'm taking it easy today, after the launch of "The Guy From The Internet". Some authors celebrate with drinks, some with cake, some with a launch party... but the ideal celebration for me is a quiet evening at home with my Love Interest and our little fur family.

If you haven't picked up a copy of my new book yet, it's available for purchase on Amazon.

Digital ARC copies are also available via StoryOrigin for a limited time.

Hope you have a gorgeous day!

Monday, November 2, 2020

The Guy From The Internet is here!!


"The Guy From The Internet" has landed!

I'm so very excited to finally share this novella with the world. It's been a wild ride getting everything ready for today. Thank you to everyone who's helped with the preparation and promotion and keeping me in check over the last few weeks.

There's also a small giveaway...

Run by the good folks at Xpresso Tours who are helping me get the word out. Everyone's welcome to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Tuesday, October 27, 2020

How I decide what to read next

Undoubtedly, I am a mood reader. Which makes it challenging to do all the reading one must do in a writing career.

To me, books are kind of like people, and reading like meeting up with them. Can I blame a book for being "bad" if I'm the one who half-heartedly turned up to our date? I've read reviews of books that sounded as if the reader picked them up out of obligation and kind of resented having to read. That's like a relationship destined to fail.

I don't want to read that way. School was the worst matchmaker and kind of sucked the fun out of reading. Few of my English teachers seemed to care about the texts they assigned us too, so it might have been contagious. Now as a sort-of adult type person, my first priority is forming an emotional connection with a book before I even start.

These are the questions I ask:
  • Do I identify, relate to, or sympathise with anything in this story?
  • Do I have a connection to, infatuation for, or admiration for the author or parties this book represents?
  • Will I learn something new or learn to appreciate something I already know in a new way?
  • Will reading this book feel like time well spent?
  • Will this book help me understand or relate better to someone I care about?
How about you? How do you decide what to read next? If you've written your own blog post about it, link it in the comments so I can check it out 😄

———

Hey, did you know preorders are still open for "The Guy From The Internet"?


———


Friday, October 23, 2020

Interview with Cheryl St. John, author of "Whisper My Name"

Cheryl St. John's fifty-strong back catalogue is, to say the least, impressive. I'm excited to be interviewing her today about her work and her latest book, "Whisper My Name".


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

New cover for "The Guy From The Flower Shop" (short story)

I'm excited to present a new cover for "The Guy From The Flower Shop".


This short story came out in May, but with the upcoming release of "The Guy From The Internet", I wanted to give this little book a fresh face and shine.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Visiting Romance Lives Forever

Today, I visited Romance Lives Forever to share my upcoming novella, "The Guy From The Internet".

We did that interview a little while ago, but you know what? I'm still a little obsessed with that burger place.

Thank you kindly, Kayelle, for having me!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The Guy From The Internet — Preorders now open!

Preorders are now open for "The Guy From The Internet"! And to celebrate, I wanted to share this little excerpt from a very special moment in the story. It's one that reveals a lot about Holly, about her love interest in France, and well... some other things too. Check it out.

Excerpt from "The Guy From The Internet":

But then today happened. I woke up to a message from my mum about not putting her takeaway containers in the dishwasher. Then at work, creepy Richard from IT stopped by first thing to ask if mail arrived for him. Mail never arrives that early in the day, and he bloody well knows it. 
As he sauntered off, the GM of Marketing walked in, discovered her PA had chucked a sickie, and was very unimpressed. She tossed a dictaphone at me, curtly told me not to drop it, then walked away. I wasn’t even halfway through my morning coffee. 
My hands shook as I picked up the stupid little device. Once the people waiting in the foyer got into the lift, I burst into tears. And once I started, I couldn’t stop. It was so embarrassing.
Jedda, my absolute angel, told our manager I’d just thrown up. Bless her, honestly. The team sent me home with a box of fancy tea from our secret stash, but not before Jed grilled me on whether I’d be okay in my apartment all by myself. 
The truth was, I couldn’t wait to get home—away from everyone and everything. I didn’t think I’d be up for streaming tonight, but having something to focus on seems to have calmed me down. 
Well, that and the package sitting next to my monitor. 
I found it waiting in my mailbox when I got back to my apartment. 
You know how something can happen, and suddenly all the crap you were dealing with—no matter how important it felt at the time—just vanishes into thin air? My day was reborn, thanks to this drab padded envelope, with its a French postmark and a Paris return address. 
It’s hard to concentrate on drawing when that package is sitting right there, staring at me while I try to look directly into the webcam. Pretty sure the undo combo on my keyboard is starting to fade. 
But I can’t open it yet. I want to wait for Rin to get home, to get online, then open it with him. 
Is that weird? Am I obsessive? Friends do that kind of thing too, don’t they? Even when they’re all grown up… or supposed to be? Rin’s still not on. It’s later than usual for this time of the week. Not that I’ve memorised his schedule or anything. 
As we get closer to midnight, I end the broadcast and decide I’ve been tragic for long enough. I pick up the envelope and give it a proper shake. Something rattles inside. 
Waiting any longer would be weird now. It would totally send the wrong signal. Like I don’t care. Or that I care too much
I’m definitely overthinking this. 
I grab the rip tab and pull it open. As soon as it detaches from the packaging, a message pops up on my screen.

A hand holding a mobile phone on the cover of The Guy From The Internet by Birdie Song

The Guy From The Internet

A sweet romance with a touch of family drama.

Holly Chee does not have her life together. She’s flip-flopped on uni courses and career choices, and somehow scared off her long-term fiancée-to-be, much to the chagrin of her immigrant parents.

But she does have her streaming channel, where she broadcasts her art from her one-bedroom Mount Lawley apartment. And she has that guy from France… assuming he’s even who he says he is.

“The Guy From The Internet” is a sweet #OwnVoices Asian-Australian romance novella, set in the world of Somerville Downs.

Coming 2 November 2020. Preorder now on Amazon.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Thoughts on culture

My upcoming novella, "The Guy From The Internet", draws from growing up as a first-generation migrant in Perth. It's not true to life, though many of the culturally charged events and exchanges were inspired by real human moments I've experienced, heard about or witnessed.

We're in this dynamic and exciting period where media representation of Asian culture is being called into question (sometimes with vitriol). Admittedly, I struggle even when writing my own culture because of how much Western culture I consumed throughout my formative years... and how much I continue to consume in adulthood.

The casual through politically incorrect label for someone like me is "ABC" (Australian-born Chinese or American-born Chinese), but since I was actually born in Asia, it's also highly inaccurate.

Of course, there's always the charmingly offensive though somewhat more accurate label of "banana" — yellow on the outside, white on the inside. (I don't recommend using this unless you're a close friend!) (I think I've heard "coconut" used before too, since some of us have darker skin than others.)

When we're not splitting hairs, though, ABC/banana refers to a Chinese person who has become Westernised. We speak fluent-enough English with Westernised accents, adopt Westernised values, etc. That's me to a T, even before my family moved to Australia. And we have the media and a Westernised primary school to thank for that.

Growing up, I was never "Asian enough" for the Asian half of my life, while never "Western enough" for the Australian half. This doesn't bother me so much for what other people think, but I do feel a little sad that I never held on more tightly to my Asian roots. Learning language is hard now that I'm not surrounded by it. Learning food feels less personal when it's not my Mum and Grandma teaching me.

My biggest challenge when writing "The Guy From The Internet" was the cultural stuff. Will I represent us right? Am I doing a disservice to "my countrymen", to my fellow bananas, to other racial groups who've had equally frustrating yet very different upbringings?

The truth is, I could never represent the total Asian-Australian experience. I could Google facts til I'm blue in the face, but anything I read online will come with a fair serve of Someone Else's Experiences. And those experiences could be wildly different to mine, which was already so different even to those of my other first-gen migrant friends.

Well, "The Guy From The Internet" is my little contribution to the media mix. It was never meant to be a family culture novella, just a simple online romance. But I guess this is the story that wanted to be told.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Betrayed by Jacklyn Daher (Cover Reveal)

Betrayed by Jacklyn Daher

The Chronicles of Luxor Everstone, #2

Publication date: November 19th 2020
Genres: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

With the revelation Luxor Everstone is the daughter of the Prince of Darkness, an entirely new door fraught with danger is opened. As Cane is lying in wait, Luxor is forced to have constant protection, leaving her suffocated. 

When new help arrives in the form of a witch, and a mysterious and dreamy boy who seems to soothe her more than anyone else can, she doesn’t hesitate to invite them into her life despite her growing affection for Hunter. 

As fresh dangers loom on the horizon, she begins to unravel different details about her past, while greater powers are introduced, and the others continue to evolve. Conflicted between the pull toward her darkness and her desire to be good, Luxor juggles the priorities—and her opinionated guardians—while trying to find some semblance of balance. 

When the darkness returns to claim her completely, can she trust herself to make the right choice?

I have a lot more social media since the last time here are all of them.

About Jacklyn Daher

A mother of two boys, I’m a self confessed nerd who loves to write dark and twisted characters in modern settings. You could find feisty MC’s and bad boys with filthy mouths. Doesn’t mean I don’t love to read or write saucy romances too!

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"The Guy from the Internet" is now available on Kindle Unlimited

"The Guy from the Internet" is now available on Kindle Unlimited. Enjoy this Australian sweet romance novella from the comfort of ...