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 ๐Ÿ˜… (how does anyone have time right now?)
  5. Getting my garden under control

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 ๐Ÿ’™

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

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 ๐ŸŒธ


Latest on my blog

Out Now: 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 fiancรฉe-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.

Now available on Amazon in digital and paperback.


Would you like to sample my work?

The Guy From the Library is a sudden puppy short story, free for my newsletter subscribers, available now on StoryOrigin.