18 September 2017

Why the Same-Sex Marriage Survey is a Farce

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On the 12th of September 2017, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) started sending out a postal survey on behalf of the Australian Government. The question?

"Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?"
Yes or No.

Now, before any of you go and get your knickers in a twist, this post is not about me pushing my opinions on same-sex marriage down your throat.

No.

This is about the colossal joke that the government has made of a serious social issue. Let me break it down for you.

  • This is not a referendum or a plebiscite. Now for those of you that aren't familiar with these terms, put simply, they are when a compulsory vote done by every Australian citizen of legal age in order to change a law or constitution. Since the government has handed over the responsibility for the answer to this question to the ABS, it is now a mere survey since they cannot legally handle elections or votes.

  • With all that went down last year with the ABS and their fail with the Census going digital, it is not really much of a surprise that have chosen to go with a postal survey. However, I think I can speak for the general population when I say that our confidence bar is set very low for the ABS handling this well.

  • It is non-binding and non-compulsory. The point of this vote, sorry, I mean questionnaire, is for the powers that be to gauge the views of the population on the issue - those that do end up sending their little slip of paper back.

  • If the majority vote YES, it does not mean that same-sex marriage will be legalised. Not a referendum or a plebiscite, remember? What is does get us is a parliamentary vote. BUT the MPs are under no compulsion to actually vote in favour of same-sex marriage.

  • And here's a kicker. Want to know how much this non-binding, non-compulsory, opinion poll of the Australian people is costing us? $122 million. Yeah, buddy. You read that right. No typo here.

  • Finally, the use of the word 'allow' in the question. Allow, meaning to let someone have or do something. The gall they have, as if to say, 'If the majority of the country agrees, and the MPs are in the right mood, we'll let you have one of your basic human rights.'

It has also sparked a series campaigns ranging from gay pride to bigotry. I find it incredibly sad that a question that is ultimately about love and connection, has created a bubble of hate and division amongst us. At uni, I am assaulted daily by people wishing to impose their opinions on me. Whether this is in the form of rallies, flyers, banners, or just in general conversation. At home, TV ads ram someone else's opinions down my throat. It is becoming less about whether whether we have the right to dictate who you can and cannot love, and more about declaring who is right or wrong.

On the Australian Coat of Arms, we have an emu and red kangaroo holding our shield. These animals were chosen, not only for their native significance, but because they cannot walk backwards, representing progress forward and an unwillingness to back down. We are a relatively young country having only gained our independence from England on January 1st 1901, but it seems we are already beginning to forget the virtues this country was founded upon.

But if this is what progress looks like, our government, the people appointed to represent our nation, making a mockery of our rights as a democracy? Our future does not look bright.

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15 September 2017

Blitz: Times Square by Jana Aston

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Times Square
Jana Aston

Published September 12th 2017

Purchase: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo
A STANDALONE romance from New York Times bestselling author Jana Aston

Once in a while right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale.

I saw that quote about fairy tales embroidered on a decorative pillow at a home decorating store. Honestly, it pissed me off. Retail propaganda aimed to promote sales when any single girl in the city could tell them they’d sell more if they’d offer Keep Your Pants On, Asshole instead.

But it’s fine. I don’t have room for decorative pillows anyway.

And I don’t have time for distractions.

Which is why I’m ignoring the distraction staring at me right now. The one who looks like he belongs on a billboard campaign. The one with the full lips and the cocky smile. The one refusing to look away even when I give him my best no way scowl.

The one headed in my direction. Right now.

*Times Square was previously published inside the Love In Transit anthology.

About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | FB Group | Twitter
Jana Aston likes cats, big coffee cups and books about billionaires who deflower virgins. She wrote her debut novel while fielding customer service calls about electrical bills, and she's ever grateful for the fictional gynecologist in Wrong that readers embraced so much she was able to make working in her pajamas a reality. Jana’s novels have appeared on the NYT, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists, some multiple times. She likes multiples.

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Reveal: #HookUp by Cambria Hebert

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#HookUp
Cambria Hebert

Coming October 1st 2017

Your #HookUp for all things #Hashtag.

Missing your favorite #family?

This is your exclusive invitation back into their world.

#HookUp is an explosion of the award-winning #Hashtag series by Cambria Hebert and makes the perfect collector’s item and addition to the series.

It’s a coloring book, but not just any coloring book.

#HookUp includes coloring pages that will rock your world, a #Hashtag-themed word search, recipes from your favorite characters, and…

Are you ready?

Bonus scenes!

Four bonus scenes total—two of which are brand new!

Find out what your favorite gang is up to these days.

So what are you waiting for?

Get the #HookUp!

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About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Email
Cambria Hebert is an award winning, bestselling novelist of more than twenty books. She went to college for a bachelor’s degree, couldn’t pick a major, and ended up with a degree in cosmetology. So rest assured her characters will always have good hair.

Besides writing, Cambria loves a caramel latte, staying up late, sleeping in, and watching movies. She considers math human torture and has an irrational fear of chickens (yes, chickens). You can often find her running on the treadmill (she’d rather be eating a donut), painting her toenails (because she bites her fingernails), or walking her chorkie (the real boss of the house).

Cambria has written within the young adult and new adult genres, penning many paranormal and contemporary titles. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense. A few of her most recognized titles are: The Hashtag Series, Text, Torch, and Tattoo.

Cambria Hebert owns and operates Cambria Hebert Books, LLC.
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13 September 2017

Blitz: Thunderstruck by Brenda Drake

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Thunderstruck
Brenda Drake

Published September 11th 2017

Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Kobo
Stevie Moon is famous…at least to the subscribers on her comic review vlog. At school, she’s as plain as the gray painted walls in the cafeteria. So when Blake, the hot new guy at school, shows an interest in her, she knows trouble when she sees it. Been there. And never doing it again.

As the son of the god Thor, Blake Foster’s been given an important mission—to recover the Norse god Heimdall’s sacred and powerful horn before someone uses it to herald in the destruction of the entire universe. But while Blake is great in a fight, the battlefield that is a high school’s social scene is another matter.

Blake knows his only choice is to team up with the adorable Stevie, but she’s not willing to give him even the time of day. He’ll need to woo the girl and find the horn if he hopes to win this war. Who better to tackle Stevie’s defenses than the demi-god of thunder?

“Every page brims with captivating Norse mythology and deliciously creative worldbuilding.” Pintip Dunn, New York Times bestselling author.

About the Author

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Brenda Drake is a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction. She grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. Her fondest memories growing up is of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write stories with a bend toward the fantastical. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

Excerpt

After disposing of the troll, Blake rushed to May’s house and showered. His thoughts kept going to Stevie. After hearing what Jörd said to him, he wanted to see her. The pull to go to her was too strong. He had no choice but to give in to it.

He climbed the tree outside Stevie’s room and sat on the branch. A blue light blinked on and off inside the room. He lightly tapped on the window. Muffled voices from within the room hummed against the glassed pane.

The curtain pushed aside. Amira was close to Stevie’s back when the curtain slid to the side. Stevie said something to Amira that Blake couldn’t hear through the thick glass. Amira turned away and dropped onto the bed. Stevie flipped the locks and opened the window.

“You scared the shit out of us,” Stevie snapped.

Amira crossed her arms. “Yeah, we’re watching scary movies here.”

Blake tried not to laugh, but he couldn’t hold it in. “My apologies. Can I have a moment alone with you, Stevie?”

“With me?” She glanced back.

“No.” Amira heaved a sigh. “With the other Stevie in the room.”

“Where do you want to go?”

He reached his hand out to her. “Out here is fine.”

She narrowed her gaze on him. “I don’t think so.”

“Come on,” he said. “It’s perfectly safe. This branch is thick. Trust me.”

“Stop being a chicken and go already. I have to pee.” Amira shuffled off.

Stevie hesitated before grabbing his hand and letting him guide her out the window and onto the branch. “This is crazy, you know that?”

“If you never throw caution to the wind, you’ll never be rewarded.” He sat on the branch and held her hand as she came down beside him. Her hand was warm and soft in his, and he wanted to hold it forever.

The loose pajama bottoms she wore had cats on them. Her pink tank top rode up a little and exposed a bit of her midriff. Her light-brown hair, the color of the acorns he’d gathered with his grandmother when he was a boy, rose in the wind behind her. Wide, dark eyes met his, her full lips parted in a smile.

“What did you want?” She glanced at the ground. “Wow, this is pretty high.”

“Don’t worry. I won’t let you fall.” He slid his hand across her lower back and held her waist. She shivered. “Are you cold?”

“A little,” she said.

“Hold on.” He let her go, shrugged off his hoodie, and draped it around her shoulders.

“Thank you.”

She held it closed at the zipper. He returned his arm around her, grasping her waist. She shuddered, and he smiled at her response to his touch.

“You didn’t answer me,” she said. “What did you want to talk to me about?”

“Actually, I’m not here to talk,” he said. “Have you ever had an urge to do something, and once it’s in your head, you can’t sleep or think until you do the thing?”

“I guess.” When she looked over at him, they locked eyes and an intensity passed between them like the energy he felt in the handle of his hammer after catching lightning with it. He noticed a faint scar just above her cupid’s bow.

“How did you get the scar?” he asked.

“Scar?” She glanced down at her chest.

“Not there,” he whispered, lifting her chin to look into her eyes. “On your lip.”

She touched it. “Oh this? It’s an embarrassing story. Let’s just say, I learned to watch where I’m walking, especially when poles are around.”

He chuckled. “I can imagine what happened.”

She lowered her head again, her feet kicking back and forth.

He decided to take his chance and cupped her face in his hands, bringing her face to his and kissing her. It was a gentle, wanting kiss. Her lips were soft and warm against his. She tasted like May’s brownies. When Stevie hadn’t responded to his kiss, he was about to release her, but then her lips began moving with his. He cradled her in his arms and they balanced together on the branch.

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12 September 2017

Tour: Ann, Not Annie by Sage Steadman

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Ann, Not Annie
Sage Steadman

Coming September 20th 2017

Preorder: Amazon
Ann, not Annie, is tired of her nominal existence and has vowed to turn things around by dating the hottest guy in school, Jacob Waters. Easier said than done since Jacob isn’t even aware she exists. The truth is, due to Ann’s lively temper she spends more time in detention with the rest of the school rejects than she does fantasizing about Jacob Waters wearing spandex.

Her best friend and devout alien believer, Lisa, doesn’t like the changes she’s seeing in her BFF. Neither does Danny Feller, a fellow detention inmate and resident lost boy who has started keeping an extra watchful and unwanted eye on Ann.

When a chance encounter in an empty hallway changes everything, Ann finds all her dreams coming true and she is well on her way to living the perfect life she’s always wanted. But appearances aren’t always what they seem and Ann is going to have to face not just cold hard facts, but also her past.

About the Author

Website | Goodreads
Sage Steadman was awarded a master’s degree in social work from the University of Utah. While pursuing her passion for writing, she worked as a licensed mental health therapist. She published her debut novel, “Snowflake Obsidian: Memoir of a Cutter,” in 2010 under her pen name, The Hippie, and since, re-released the second edition under her real name. The novel has been deemed an “idyllic” read, filled with love, humor, romance and heart. She is also the co-author of the gritty and inspiring historical fiction novel, “Upon Destiny’s Song,” alongside classical guitarist, Mike Ericksen, and has penned an article on teen cutting for Canadian Magazine, “Edmonton’s Child.” She has recently produced a stunning and thought-reflecting novella entitled, “The Waking Dream.” Sage is heralded as a talented writer who tackles her novels with a witty, raw and honest approach. She currently lives near Salt Lake City, Utah with family.

Excerpt

The usual slackers joined Ann in detention. Stacey what’s-her-face always insisted on wearing a tankini belly shirt with a push-up bra, and liked to obnoxiously bat her eyelids and flirt with teachers. If she’d had the decency to throw on a cardigan, then Ann wouldn’t have to spend countless hours of unlawful imprisonment watching Stacey flip her hair and hoist her boobs repeatedly.

Then there was Mike. He was quiet and had an affinity for fire and things that exploded. Ann overheard two of her classmates say that Mike was in detention that day for wadding up newspapers and sticking them in the tailpipes of teachers’ cars. Ann slumped in her chair as Mike discreetly etched a bomb into his desk with a razor blade.

Rumor had it he’d once told the high school guidance counselor he wanted to grow up to be the next Unabomber. Ann was certain if there were ever going to be a Glenwood High School shooting, it would be Mike who did it.

That never happened, I might add. In fact, Mike eventually attended Harvard Business School (his dad, a financial bigwig in New York, pulled a few strings—I’d say a whole orchestra’s worth), and Mike became next in line to be vice president of a chain of grocery stores before his twenty-second birthday.

Ann absentmindedly drummed her fingers loudly on the desk. It was that or bang her head against it. Ms. Steinberg shot her a glance from over her gossip magazine, and Ann slumped back with a sigh.

“Don’t you have homework to do?” Steinberg asked.

Don’t you have lice to clean out of your curly rat’s nest? Ann thought, before grabbing her notebook.

The odor-heavy Ms. Steinberg was the school’s detainment officer. She sat behind an ancient, wobbly desk, manufactured sometime in the seventies, and read gossip magazines. Occasionally she stood in front of her desk and ominously slapped a ruler into the palm of her left hand. She waited, as if any minute a special messenger might burst through the door perspiring with excitement, to deliver the news that corporal punishment was lawful and say “By all means Ms. Steinberg, swing away. These infidels had it coming.”

I’ve often wondered how people like Ms. Steinberg end up in school education. Did she used to like kids? Or has she always hated them and felt like high school would be the best place to nurture that hatred? Either way, Ms. Steinberg was a joke, and Ann liked to fantasize about tying Steinberg to a chair and escaping from detention. Ann closed her eyes and was entertaining the daydream when the door abruptly opened and the school’s leading outcast (kind of like head mascot, but less reputable) sauntered in.

Now, I am of the firm belief that until you’re eighteen it is your God-given right as a teenager to break rules, trespass on private property, and streak naked in public without subjugation to severe punishment.

This brings me to Danny Feller. You might say he was beautiful, hot, gorgeous, magnificent, sexy—pick which adjective you like, they all fit—and he was walking into Ann’s detention. Now Danny didn’t consider himself a bad-looking guy. He just wasn’t into flaunting his awesomeness, but sometimes a person’s awesomeness simply flaunts itself, even when you politely ask it not to. And I don’t say all this to toot Danny’s horn. I’m not really into tooting horns, anyhow, but here’s the thing: At this particular moment, Ann Julia Grey was in denial about Danny Feller’s obvious magnificence. (Tragic sigh.)

She looked up, locking eyes with Danny. She looked at him as if she were trying to produce a paralyzing lightning bolt from her eye sockets. Really, she was just grumpy. Danny sensed as much and tried smiling at her. Ann immediately grew flushed and glanced away.

Danny brushed his dark brown hair from his eyes as he looked for the misplaced detention slip. He rummaged through pockets, pulling out candy wrappers, random homework assignments, loose change, until finally he found the slip and handed it over to the model of patience, Ms. Steinberg, who was making loud, disapproving sighs. She snatched the slip with a tight frown as sweat formed at her hairline.

Ann watched Danny take his usual spot in the back left corner. He plugged his headphones into his iPod and began drumming his fingers on the desk. Ann noticed his solid hands: not too meaty, but not skinny either, and tanned from the summer. She noticed a slight tingling sensation in her knees as her stomach did back flips. She wrote it off as indigestion and turned back to her notebook.

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6 September 2017

Blitz: Just Three Dates by David Burnett

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Just Three Dates
David Burnett

Published July 1st 2017

Purchase: Amazon | B&N
Should you only marry for love?

Since breaking with her last boyfriend, Karen has refused to trust any man her age. For the past three years, she has not dated the same one twice, and only one in ten has received even a goodnight kiss as she turned him away. Karen is an artist. She follows her feelings, lives in a cluttered loft, and gushes over vivid sunsets.

Mark still dreams about his almost-fiancée, and his date book has been empty since he threw her out a week before he’d planned to ask for her hand. His friends call him the “Ice Man,” since he seldom smiles, especially at a woman. A math professor at the College, logic guides his behavior, he loves order, and an elegant proof is a thing of beauty.

Both Karen and Mark have all but abandoned hope of ever falling in love, and, left on their own, these opposites would never attract. So, their mothers become matchmakers, entangling them in a series of dates, extracting promises that they will go out together three times, suggesting that, in the absence of love, a “marriage of convenience” is a live option.

If you like heartwarming stories based on true-to-life behaviors, with complicated relationships and a less-than-certain outcome, you will enjoy Just Three Dates!

About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter
David Burnett lives near Charleston, South Carolina, where he walks on the beach almost every day and photographs the ocean, the sea birds, and the marshes that he loves. Three of his four books are set in Charleston, and he has always enjoyed the Carolina beaches.

David enjoys photography and has photographed subjects as varied as prehistoric ruins on the islands of Scotland, star trails, sea gulls, and a Native American powwow. He and his wife have traveled widely in the United States and the United Kingdom. During trips to Scotland, they visited Crathes Castle, the ancestral home of the Burnett family near Aberdeen, and Kismul Castle on the Isle of Barra, the home of his McNeil ancestors.

He reports that he went to school for much longer than he wants to admit, and he has graduate degrees in psychology and education. He and his wife have two children and a blue-eyed cat named Bonnie.

David Burnett's 'On Happy Endings'

“….and they lived happily ever after.”

Can a fairy tale end in any other way? Can the beautiful girl ever be eaten by the wolf, remain under the power of the wicked sorcerer, or end her life in abject poverty without the love and support of the handsome prince? If there is such a tale, I’ve never read it.

Happily ever after is a principle enshrined in literature for generations. It was something on which a reader could count. In the end, the hero would always come out on top. The interest in happy endings carried over into film. No matter how dark the circumstances, the guy in the white hat would triumph, and the villain – dressed in black – would be vanquished.

Of course, not every story or play or book ended in the way we might want. Romeo and Juliet, and its modern incarnation, West Side Story, come to mind as a plays in which the heroes died. But, by and large, the reader or the viewer could plan on a happy ending.

At some point this all changed. Today, one never knows what evil awaits the hero, nor if the hero will be able to overcome it. It has been asserted that if writers want to be taken seriously, today, they must actually avoid happily ever after endings to their books.

I wonder if the modern disdain for happy endings comes from the pervasive cynicism that we see among the baby boomer generation. Boomers were born between nineteen forty-five and nineteen sixty-five and, in part because of their numbers, they have had a dramatic impact on American society.

As a baby boomer, myself, I might well ask why we are more cynical than were those who came before us.

Perhaps it is because, during our lifetimes, we have seen political figures shot in the streets (the Kennedys, Wallace, and Reagan). We have watched as our government prosecuted two wars – in Viet Nam and Iraq – which ultimately seemed to make no real sense. A sitting president tried to break into his opponent’s headquarters and then resigned from office. We have seen corrupt politicians, immoral public figures, and rampant corporate greed. We have witnessed mass murders.

All of these have been brought into our homes in full color by the news media who seem to believe that the right to show and tell everything is the same as an obligation to show and tell everything.

Life is not happy, many boomers have concluded. We don’t believe in fairy tales anymore and we’ve lost our confidence in happily ever after. Happy endings are so unrealistic as not to be believable.

Still, I like happy endings. When I read a novel, I am entering into another person’s world, perhaps at a different time in history, in a place I’ve never been. The hero may be doing things I’ve never done. I get to know the characters. I come to care about them. I do not want anything bad to happen to my hero.

If I want to feel depressed, I can tune in to CNN. The news this week focuses on chemical attacks in Syria. Hundreds of noncombatants have been killed. I can feel sad for people who I do not know and have never met.

When I open a novel, though, I am not reading the Times. I am reading neither an autobiography, nor an historical account. I do not want the author of my novel to draw me into the story, only to leave me feeling depressed, or sad, or angry. I may be reading the novel, in fact, to escape from the world around me. I want a happy ending.

Perhaps more important than a happy ending, however, is a satisfactory ending.

Alan Watt, in his book, The 90 Day Novel, writes that the hero of a story is attempting to get something that he wants – the girl, a new job, a blue ribbon. He also writes that the hero has a need, which is bigger than what he wants, and the hero believes that what he wants will satisfy the need. The boy who chases the girl may really need love, and he believes that she will love him. The one who looks for a new job may really need recognition and thinks that it will come with the position. Winning the blue ribbon may be an attempt to obtain the acceptance that the hero believes will follow an outstanding performance.

It seems to me that the hero must get what he wants if the story is to have a happy ending.

In some stories, the hero does not get what he wants – no happy ending – but he does find a way to satisfy his need. This is a recipe for a satisfactory ending.

In the motion picture, The Titanic, Rose is a young lady sailing to America where she will marry. Her family is forcing her into the marriage, and she does not care for her fiancé. Jack is a poor boy sailing to America to make a better life for himself. They fall in love and want to marry.

Had the story ended with their arrival in New York and their marriage, it would have had a happy ending. We would have assumed that they lived happily ever after.

However, the Titanic strikes an iceberg and the ship sinks. Jack dies in the icy water of the north Atlantic, while Rose is rescued. She eludes the family members and her fiancé who search for her among the survivors. She gives a false name to immigration officials. She begins a new life. She does the things that she and Jack had talked of doing. She marries, she has children and grandchildren. Although she always cherishes her memory of Jack, she has a good life.

What Rose needed was freedom – freedom from her parents, freedom from her fiancé, freedom to build her life as she wants it to be. During the voyage, marriage to Jack seemed like the path to satisfy her need. While she was not able to follow that particular path, she did find her freedom.

The ending was not happy, but it was satisfactory.

In one sense, a satisfactory ending is better than a happy one, because getting what one wants may provide only short-term happiness – marriage to Jack may not have been as wonderful as Rose imagined it would be. Getting what one needs provides continuing satisfaction – Rose was free for the rest of her life.

A story may have a happy ending. It may have a satisfactory ending. The very best stories have both.

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31 August 2017

Reveal: Sure Thing by Jana Aston

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Sure Thing
Jana Aston

Coming October 10th 2017

Pre-order: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo
A new STANDALONE romance from New York Times bestselling author Jana Aston

Have you ever set out to have a one night stand with a sexy stranger?
No? I’m the only one?
Just kidding, I would never.
Ever.
Not usually.

But then I figured, why not? My entire life I’ve been good and it’s gotten me nowhere.
No job.
No apartment.
No boyfriend.

I’m owed a little fun, aren’t I? A reward for being good.
Sure, a new pair of shoes would be more appropriate, but Mr. Sexy Stranger is more appealing. And when he speaks—in that British accent—it’s a done deal. Every American woman has a hot British guy fantasy. Well, most do. I haven’t taken a poll or anything, but I’m pretty sure it’s a fact.

Except…
You know that saying about best-laid plans?
Good, because I don’t either, but I assume they go awry.
Like my one night stand…

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About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | FB Group | Twitter
Jana Aston likes cats, big coffee cups and books about billionaires who deflower virgins. She wrote her debut novel while fielding customer service calls about electrical bills, and she's ever grateful for the fictional gynecologist in Wrong that readers embraced so much she was able to make working in her pajamas a reality. Jana’s novels have appeared on the NYT, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists, some multiple times. She likes multiples.
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Blitz: Ivar’s Prize by Amy Pennza

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Ivar’s Prize
Amy Pennza

Published July 10th 2017

Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Kobo
Nadia Green has everything–power, prestige, and a fiancé. That all ends when she’s sentenced to life on the prison planet Tolbos. Within hours of landing, Nadia finds herself captured, stripped, and placed on an auction block, where she’s purchased by Ivar Holok, a brutal warlord with golden eyes and an ability to wield kaptum with a mastery unlike anyone she’s ever seen.

Ivar is instantly attracted to the beautiful slave, but he suspects her presence on Tolbos has sinister implications. The Council wants him dead, and what better way to achieve its goal than by planting an irresistible assassin in his bed? No matter how much he wants to trust her, Ivar has to protect his people–even if it means denying Nadia her freedom. He vows to keep her enslaved and at his mercy until she confesses her involvement in the Council’s schemes, but he didn’t count on the slave enthralling her master.

About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter
Amy Pennza is an author of romantic fiction that’s not afraid to turn up the heat. A lawyer-turned-copywriter, she’s much happier behind a keyboard than she was in the courtroom. A mom of four, including a set of twins, she always has a granola bar and a package of baby wipes handy. After years in Tornado Alley, she now makes her home in the Great Lakes region with her husband, kids, and one very persnickety cat. You can visit her at amypennza.com.

10 Things Every Aspiring Writer Should Know

As a new author, I’m still navigating the publishing journey — and when I say “navigating” I mean stumbling around and banging into everything, occasionally knocking stuff over. Each step on the path to publication has featured a steep learning curve, but the good news is there has never been a better time to sit down and write something you feel passionate about.

If you’ve been bitten by the writing bug, first: put something on that so it doesn’t get infected. Second, relax because the internet is a goldmine of resources. The title of this post could easily be “Everything I Needed to Know about Writing and Publishing I Learned Online.” Okay, not everything, but I owe a lot to authors who have come before me and generously offered advice and tips on the web. Here are the top 10 takeaways I’d like to share from my own writing adventures.

1. Write the Book First
When you’re just starting out, creating characters and devising plot elements, it’s tempting to dream about what your book’s cover will look like. Who hasn’t stood in the shower, fantasizing about the dedication page for their first novel? To everyone who said I wouldn’t make it — suck it. These are fun exercises, but you’ll never get to do them for real until you finish that first manuscript. When I really buckled down and got serious about writing a book, I didn’t allow myself to google literary agents or publishers. My only goal was to finish a manuscript. Take it step by step, and make writing the first one.

2. There Are Many Paths to Publication
The traditional route to publication involves submitting your manuscript to literary agents, securing representation, and freaking out waiting while your agent submits your manuscript to editors at publishing houses. There is nothing wrong with this approach, but it’s not the only option these days. Don’t overlook small publishers and digital-first publishing houses. They put out high quality books, and many don’t require authors to have a literary agent to submit manuscripts.

3. Write Every Day
This is advice I see often. It’s simple, but it’s spot on. Carve out time to write every day. Even if it’s 100 words — even if it’s 10 — get something on paper (or computer screen) somehow. Write on a cocktail napkin if you have to. Writing is like working out: it’s easier and more rewarding if you do it all the time. It’s also easy to get out of the habit quickly if you stop.

4. The 30,000-word Slump Is Real
Slump…hump…whatever you call it, there is a “sticking point” in every first draft that makes you want to give up and swear off writing forever. You get to about the 30,000-word mark, and you run out of steam. Suddenly, your plot is like overcooked macaroni noodles — all stuck together and unappetizing.

For me, the way out of this is to go at it like a mom determined to get the doorbuster on Black Friday. I just keep shoving doubt and obstacles aside until I get that sweet, sweet word count in my cart. Other people like to jump to a different part in the book and write a scene they’re excited about. However you handle it, know that a lot of writers experience (and overcome) it.

5. You Probably Can’t Quit Your Day Job (at Least Not Right Away)
Unless you write the Great American Novel and sign a deal for a six-figure advance, you’re probably not going to make enough money to quit your regular job. The phrase “starving artist” isn’t exclusive to painters. There are many, many authors publishing many, many books. However, if you’re persistent and talented and willing to hang in there and continue improving your work, you’ll be successful. Maybe not “dining on a private yacht on the French Riviera with Oprah” successful, but successful enough.

6. There Is No Right Way to Write
Does your favorite author post Instagram photos of her antique writing desk on the veranda of her beach house on the Nantucket Sound, complete with Cocker Spaniels and mugs of Earl Grey tea? It’s probably a kick ass writing environment, but that doesn’t mean yours has to look like that. In other words, do what works for you. James Joyce wrote in blue pencil and sometimes crayons. Charles Dickens wrote his manuscripts in longhand (not that he had much choice) in a pronounced downward slant. Sir Walter Scott wrote on horseback. Lewis Carroll wrote standing up.

There is no magic formula for writing, nor is there an ideal environment for getting words on the page. Whether you write at the kitchen table, in your car during your lunch break, or in between the kids’ naps, what matters is that you’re making progress.

7. Be Willing to Hustle
Once you’ve written your book, landed a publishing deal, and watched your precious manuscript launch into the literary world, your job as an author is far from over. Being an author today means promoting your work — and yourself. Many authors are naturally introverted, so self-promotion can feel as awkward as a sixth grade dance. Be willing to invest time (and some money) into things like social media and advertising.

8. Focus on Writing Before Anything Else
“Wait. Didn’t she already cover this in #1?” Yes, I did, but it’s worth repeating because it’s so important. If you talk about writing and dream about writing and think about writing, but never actually write the darn book, you never will. Don’t let that happen.

9. Don’t Get Derailed by Rejection
Subtitle: Get a thick skin, fast. In elementary school, we called this “I am rubber, you are glue.” Rejection is a reality for all writers. At some point in their career, every author you’ve read and admired was just starting out. Most likely, they heard “no” more than once. Heed agents and editors who take the time to offer critiques — they usually only do that if they see promise in your work. But don’t let rejection shut down your creativity (or your soul). You can hear no a thousand times — all you need is one yes.

10. Patience, Grasshopper
Few aspects of writing — and the business of writing — happen quickly. It takes months (or more) to write a manuscript. It can take just as long to find a literary agent or publisher. Once you’ve secured a publishing deal, you can expect multiple rounds of editing. And then, when you’re finally published, growing your career as an author takes— you guessed it — time. Like most good things, however, the end result is worth waiting for.

Amy Pennza writes contemporary and historical romance — and sometimes futuristic romance, too. Her first book, Ivar’s Prize, was published by Loose Id in July 2017. She lives in the Great Lakes region with her husband, kids, and more laundry than you’ve ever seen. You can visit her at her website.

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30 August 2017

Reveal: Chasing Ella by Jillian Quinn

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Chasing Ella
Jillian Quinn

Coming September 27th 2017

Preorder: Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | B&N
Every Princess needs a Prince Charming…

When a masked girl throws herself at Shawn Finch at a costume party, the hotshot football player assumes she’s just another girl trying to get his attention. Except she’s not just any girl. She’s his Cinderella, the nameless girl in the pale blue dress who got away.

Desperate to find her, Finch searches for his mystery girl with no luck. So, it must be fate when Finch’s grade point average drops and the school assigns him a tutor not knowing they just handed over his Cinderella.

After having a crush on Finch since the first time she spotted him on campus, one kiss was all she’d ever wanted. But Finch has other plans for his Cinderella once he discovers the truth about his tutor.

Full Cover


About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Newsletter
Jillian Quinn is the author of the international bestselling Face-Off hockey series as well as other sexy, sporty romances.

Jillian loves sports, bad boys, dirty talkers, strong females, and books with plenty of heat—all of which you will find in her books. As a lover of all things bookish, she has a serious book hoarding problem and runs a blog in her free time. When she's not reading, writing, or blogging, she's obsessively fangirling over hockey players and can be found wherever she can catch the next hockey game.

For updates, visit JillianQuinnBooks.com

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29 August 2017

Reveal: Bahama Mama by Tricia Leedom

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Bahama Mama
Tricia Leedom

The Key West Escape #2

Coming January 30th 2018

Preorder: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo
Perfect for fans of Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Janet Evanovich, this action-packed sequel to Rum Runner from a fresh voice in contemporary romance offers a sexy and comedic take on love, adventure, and what it means to trust your heart.

Troubles are piling up for Molly MacBain. Between navigating the moods of an increasingly sassy teenage daughter, battling mounting financial difficulties, and dealing with her daughter’s deadbeat dad, Molly certainly doesn’t need any more stress in her life. But when she learns that her best friend, Sophie, has been keeping a huge secret from her, she’s beyond bowled over. Apparently, Sophie’s soon-to-be brother-in-law is Molly’s idol, country music superstar Anders Ostergaard and after years on the country music circuit herself, Molly can’t help but have a fan-girl moment when she finally meets him.

Anders flies to Key West to attend his brother’s wedding and keep a low profile after a Vegas scandal makes him a tabloid target. Usually, he has a strict rule about getting involved with fans, but Molly MacBain’s sharp wit and refreshing openness draws him in like no one has before.

But romance and flirting take a backseat when Molly’s daughter witnesses a murder and winds up in Jamaica. Anders offers Molly the use of his private plane to bring her home and together, they set off for Montego Bay. Between racing against her ex’s impending visit and the hitman hunting for the witness to his crime, both Molly and Anders are completely unaware they’re being stalked by an even greater danger.

In the sultry Caribbean, Anders and Molly discover when a man who’s sworn off love and a woman who guards her heart can’t keep their hands off of each other, something’s gotta give. If their luck doesn’t run out first.

About the Author

Instagram | Goodreads | Twitter
TRICIA LEEDOM enjoys traveling to exotic destinations and having torrid love affairs with hot, dangerous men... even if it's only in her own mind. When she's not writing romantic adventure novels, she reads voraciously, tweets compulsively, and fangirls over a TV show based on her favorite book series. Tricia earned her BA in Creative Writing from The University of Tampa and her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. Her favorite authors include Diana Gabaldon, J.R. Ward, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Karen Robards, and Johanna Lindsey. She lives in Southwest Florida with two very spoiled dogs. Follow Tricia on Twitter and Instagram @tricialeedom
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24 August 2017

Blitz: Stay With Me by Hensley Park

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Stay With Me
Hensley Park

Published August 21st 2017

Purchase: Amazon
All he wanted was to break through her tough exterior.

All she wanted was to be left alone.

When they finally got together, it was everything.

Explosive. Epic. Delicious.

And then he found his calling. The military.

And she was proud. And jealous. She wanted him home. With her. Not half-way around the world where their relationship was defined by quick calls, video chats, and letters.

She knew it was wrong. She knew it was crazy. She asked him to choose.

And he did.

Falling head-over-heels in love was the easy part. Sweet. Sexy. Good.

Loving a man who is always gone, deployed, and proud to serve his country takes courage and sacrifice.

All she wanted was for him to stay.

STAY WITH ME is a story told in parts. We’ll hope you’ll stay with us as the story develops, and we encourage you to share STAY WITH ME with your friends.

About the Author

Website | Twitter
Hensley Park loves the smell of roses. She's an animal lover and also enjoys listening to music, hanging with friends and going to movies. She is a super nerd who appreciates all things Geek. A perfect day for Hensley would include reading and napping.

Excerpt

On a cold and rainy day in early March, I kept my head down against a steady diagonal downpour and my eyes trained on the slippery sidewalk. I couldn’t afford another tumble, since I was only now recovering from my last one. Never underestimate the trickery of black ice, which seems to be prevalent in this part of North Carolina in the winter.

By the time I reached Starbucks, I was soaked and looking forward to a salted caramel mocha. I rubbed my hands together in anticipation of feeling the warmth seep through the paper cup’s sleeve.

As I approached, a gray-haired English professor type held the door open, poorly shielding a tattered copy of Othello inside his tweed jacket. “It’s really coming down out there, huh?” His green eyes sparkled behind wire-framed gasses as he ducked against the rain, hurrying to a late model blue sedan parked nearby.

“Thanks,” I called after him, wondering where he was hurrying off to. He must be about to teach an evening class, I thought.

Inside, I scanned the room, looking for Becca, and stared at her a full minute before I recognized her wavy blond hair and bright blue eyes, always smeared with inches of liner and globs of mascara. She was with someone. I sighed, annoyed, though I should not have been surprised. This was supposed to be study time, not make-out-on-the-Starbucks-couch time. Then again, with Becca, every time was make out time.

I stalked over and slammed my laptop bag on the side table, trying not to laugh when they looked up at me, startled.

He had gorgeous blue eyes, a wicked tan, and sun-kissed hair. Typical type for Becca. Probably pre-med or pre-law, student council president, future-valedictorian, fraternity social committee chair, and on the football and lacrosse teams.

“Oh, hi,” he said, smiling and scooting back so Becca’s full-mouthed pouty expression was visible. Whoa. Nice smile. Him, not her.

“Didn’t you say four?” I demanded, trying not to be distracted by the hot boy. “I thought we needed to study for African Studies.”

“We do,” she replied, clearing her throat and reaching for the spring-themed cup on the table in front of her. “Why don’t you go get your mocha, and I’ll say my goodbyes to Barry?” She shot me a hurry-and-get-the-fuck-away look.

“Super,” I replied, hoisting my purse on my shoulder and heading quickly for the line to order. I didn’t know which was worst, how cute the guy she was with was or the guilt I felt for even thinking it. He was totally not even my type though, so no Girl Code broken.

“It’s too early in the day for that kind of thing.” Someone was standing behind me, and I hadn’t even noticed.

“Huh?” I spun around.

“Becca and Barry.” He motioned to where my roommate was sucking face with a guy. “They should get a room. Put us out of our misery. Let us drink our Sumatra in peace.”

The way he looked at me — self-assured, matter of fact, hot as fuck — unnerved me. He ran a hand through longish black hair as I did my best not to notice how long his eyelashes were.

“You know Rebecca?” My voice’s pitch was a lot higher than I wanted it to be. He was dressed in navy blue jeans, biker boots and a gray hoodie. The hi-fi noise cancelling headphones, wrapped around his neck like a scarf, told me he was serious about music. And his smile? Infectious.

“Yeah. She’s dating my roommate, Barry,” he offered. “You might know him as the guy currently trying to examine your friend’s tonsils.”


Over the noise of the late afternoon crowd, Becca’s giggles annoyed the crap out of me. She could be so immature at times or basically any time a cute boy was around.
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23 August 2017

Book Blitz: Latte Girl by Katia Rose

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Latte Girl
Katia Rose

Published August 17th 2017

Purchase: Amazon
Hot coffee is a regular fixture in Hailey Warren’s life. Hot guys? Not so much.

Her grueling shifts at a cafe in the heart of the city’s business sector are rarely punctuated by anything special, so when the gorgeous heir to the security company next door strides into Hailey’s life, it feels like punctuation with a capital P (or D, depending on your preferred terminology).

Jordan Knox is enough to send her heart racing faster than a triple shot of espresso, and when the attraction proves to be mutual, no hidden corners or empty offices are safe from their game of cat and mouse.

But when she’s ready to drop the pretenses, Jordan continues to hold back, and Hailey realizes he’s been hiding secrets that could make whatever’s brewing between them boil over and burn.

‘Latte Girl’ is a full length, standalone novel, and the debut title from author Katia Rose.

About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Katia Rose is not much of a Pina Colada person, but she does like getting caught in the rain. She prefers her romance served steamy with a side of smart, and is a sucker for quirky characters. A habit of jetting off to distant countries means she’s rarely in one place for very long, but she calls the frigid northland that is Canada home.

Latte Girl's Playlist



Help I'm Alive - Metric
Coffee - Sylvan Esso
Karma Police - Radiohead
Time - Onuka
The Love you're Given - Jack Garratt
Till Sunrise - Goldroom ft. Mammals
Waiting - City and Colour
Reminder - Mumford and Sons
Little Lion Man - Mumford and Sons
Do You Love Me Still - The Kooks
She Is - The Fray
You and Me - Disclosure ft. Eliza Doolittle (Flume Remix)

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