Friday, June 28, 2013

Bella Signorina Release Giveaway!

Inspired by music…
(A look at where the story was born)

Back in 2006 a young Italian singer by the name of Patrizio Buanne had come onto the international music scene. He was an old style singer, with a powerful and seductive voice, rich in emotion and range. He was in his mid-twenties then, and had just recorded his second album, a collection called Forever Begins Tonight. It was on this CD that a particular song caught my imagination, with the story it told and the romanticism of the tale. Bella Bella Signorina was one of the most popular songs on this CD, and remains a fan favourite. For me, the more I listened to the song, the more certain I was that I wanted to write a story. I met Patrizio after concert in April of 2007, and by then the story had come into being in my mind. I asked for, and was given permission to use a few lines from the lyrics of the song as the framework for the story I wanted.

Later in the summer, I wrote the first draft of Bella Signorina and after getting the properly signed release from the copyright holder, it was submitted to a publisher. The decision was made the “tone down” the sensuality of the story and make it a sweetheart story, so any sexual overtones were removed, leaving the romantic fantasy to play out like a song. The book held the #1 best-seller spot for over six months, but went largely unnoticed, despite good reviews. I revised the story after the contract expired, and it was released again. This time it was largely unnoticed.

So, when I finally located the file of the original story and had the chance to read this story the way it was originally written, I thought this time it could be released as it was meant to be. Eirelander was willing to give the sexy, sensual version a home at last.

Available soon in AUDIO


She looked up, and her smile was radiant in the soft glow of the nearby streetlight. “La Galleria d'arte di Idillio,” she murmured. “I love this place.”

“It’s mine,” he told her as he dug out the key that would unlock the doors to the small gallery.


There was enough real shock in her voice to make him stop as he held the door for her to go inside. “Why does that surprise you so much?”

“I’ve come here a number of times, and I’ve never seen you,” she replied, once he’d locked the doors and turned on the lights.

“I’ve never seen you,” he noted. “Except at the caffè.”

“I’ve always felt this place was a tribute to love, and romance.”

“It is. My father began the collection for my mother.”

“Your father was a romantic?”

“My father was a gentleman, in the truest sense of that word,” Stefano said with a familiar sense of loneliness and pride combined. “He lived la dolce vita,” he smiled, “with the passion of a man who loved all life had to offer him, good and bad.”

“He’s gone?”

A curt nod was all he could offer without revealing how deeply the loss still affected him. He set his coffee on the reception desk, hung his jacket on a rack then did the same with Bianca’s things. Then he took her arm and led her to a small area that had been his work for the past year.

“This is my latest addition to the collection.”

Bianca wandered the area, studying the beautiful collection of photographs. Each one was in a different area of Italy, and the women smiling and lovely, but each one as unique as her surroundings.

“What do you see?”

“Beauty. Romance.” Bianca stared at the photographs for a few moments longer, considering them with serious thought, then turned to face him. “In every photograph, they are not looking at you, but at the camera. They’re seeing the opportunity, but not your reason for wanting them.”

Something fluttered against Stefano’s chest from the inside, an excitement he hadn’t felt in a very long time. He let his gaze drift, cataloguing the woman in front of him. Standing next to him the top her head was at his chin. She had long, waving hair, dark brown with a distinct tint that caught the glow from the lights and turned her thick mane into a mass of warm, burnished auburn. She had eyes that resembled Chinese jade, and a wide, full mouth that curved upward, as though a secret hid behind her smile. She was curvaceous and feminine, effortlessly graceful, and with minimal makeup, appeared very much without artifice of any kind.

“What is my reason for wanting them?” He forced his tone to calm and curious, sincerely interested in her reply, but also caught in the spell she was exerting. Part of his mind was still watching her, measuring the emotion and internal workings of her mind as she analyzed his photographs with real interest. Her teal-colored dress was simple in design, flared skirt unevenly cut at the hem, swirling around her shapely legs as she walked, pausing often to peer intently at the images on the walls. The upper half of the dress clung to luscious contours, and the silver crucifix, her only jewelry, drew his eyes to the shadow between her breasts. He wanted very much to touch her, and instead stuffed his hands into his pockets and went to join her as she stopped at one of the last photos, then looked at him over her shoulder.

“She loved you.”

“So she said.”

“You didn’t love her?”

“Not the way she thought I should.”

“You wanted love from every woman here, yet not one of them saw who you really are,” she observed softly, sadness evident in her tone.

His eyebrow rose. “Who do you think I am, bella?”

“How honest do you think I should be?”

“I admire honesty, Signorina,” he told her. “I respect the courage it takes to offer it to anyone.”

“But do you respect it if the object of discussion is you?”

“Now you’re beginning to worry me,” he teased with a smile. He was fascinated by her intelligence and her insight. She looked past his appearance and his presence to probe his secrets, and whatever she was seeing made her even more alluring to him.

“You want attention,” she told him, not a shred of question in the observation, only the certainty that she was right. “You enjoy women vying for your favor. It gives you security, even while it makes you lonely. Because you know it’s not you they love, but the image you present to keep the world out of your heart and your head. You’re a complex man, Stefano.” She smiled. “I don’t know your last name.”


She nodded. “Marino,” she offered, so that he knew hers, too.

“Why are you asking me to analyze you?” She had started walking around the showroom again, stopping to look at the various displays. She halted at one of the cases that housed a collection of love letters. “These are beautiful. Do you know who wrote them?”

“A friend of my father’s,” he answered. “To my mother. When he was killed, they drew comfort from each other, and it became a love affair that lasted forty years.”

“The love affair that you seek in your own life now.”

He smiled but remained silent on the matter, and she moved to another display case, one dedicated to his family’s past.

“This ring is exquisite,” she noted. “I’ve never seen another one like it.” It was an antique, but beautifully wrought. The gold base shone as though it had been forged and shaped the day before. The design was unique, a horizontal figure eight—the symbol of infinity, with a perfect emerald balanced in the centre and outlined in tiny, sparkling diamonds.

“My grandmother’s engagement ring,” he informed her. “She wanted me to have it, and I wanted it to be here, where many people could see it.”

“Is she still alive?”

“Yes. She has a small villa in Amalfi. I see her often.”

“Has she seen this, Stefano?” Bianca smiled as she glanced around. “Everything here fills the heart with peace, and hope, and joy. It’s overwhelming some days when I’ve come here.”


“Will you add your history to this place one day, or leave it to your children to show the world their papa’s romantic heart?”

“Only time will answer that, Signorina,” he laughed. Before she could speak again, he touched her lip with the tip of his finger and shook his head.

Her mood curious, she followed him when he led her to a beautiful open area, with a gleaming, polished hardwood floor. He punched a few buttons on a wall console and seconds later music filled the air, soft and rhythmic. Bianca laughed quietly and walked into his arms.

“You’re avoiding me with this distraction,” she said.

“I’m indulging myself,” he admitted with a smile. “Do you mind?”

She stared at him for a few moments then shook her head.

“Why this song?”

He didn’t answer, merely looked at her as the sultry music of Alta Marea, by Patrizio Buanne filled the air and settled over them like a cloak.

“This is the sexiest piece of music I’ve heard in years,” she whispered. “I love it.”

“So do I.”

As the seductive sound of the singer’s smooth voice enveloped them, Stefano permitted himself the luxury of simply enjoying the moment he was in, and the feel of the beautiful woman in his arms as she nestled close and moved in perfect attunement with him.

* * *

Want to know more? The dance is only beginning for Bianca and Stefano, drop by Eirelander Publishing and indulge the fantasy more…

Also, enter the Giveaway to win these exquisite earrings, and a few other goodies!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Reviews and more...

I’ve done so many blogs over the past couple of years I find myself wondering if there’s anything left to talk about most days. Just when I think there isn’t, something reminds me there’s always a reason to write. A few days ago I posted an observation on my Facebook wall, it was innocuous and I didn’t think much about it. Little did I know it was going to become a serious discussion not only about authors and how we cope with the incessant “ratings” of a few people who appear determined to undermine credibility, but also the reactions of the real readers who abhor the petty maliciousness as much as those meant to be hurt.

We have a wealth of opportunity and ability to be heard in this amazing day and age of computers. In this small sector of the “arts” there’s a growing spirit of meanness among writers who should be supporting each other, but in many cases are behaving in ways that would make the best con artists wince. Reviews, once the realm of well read and professional minded readers, are now the province of every Tom, Dick, and Harriet with the know-how to create a blog and collect books from authors eager for those sought-after reviews. Maybe that more than anything is the real problem. Authors are TOO eager to have those rave reviews in hand to help promote their books and elevate them a little above the overcrowded masses who are struggling to be heard in this industry. But what happens when those rave reviews are just raves and rants?

Many, many authors request of readers that they post a review to Amazon, or to Goodreads… which is the same thing now, since Amazon acquired Goodreads recently. While it was once helpful to consult reviews before making a purchase, you have to really weed through a lot of questionable reading at times now to discover if there’s anything worth considering before you buy a book by a previously unknown to you author. On Goodreads there are pages of ranting, sniping, and snarking on many books–reviews that are so much convoluted opinion and complaint, with little of it relevant to the book. If some point in a novel or story rubs a reader the wrong way, the response these days for many is to simply log in at Amazon, or other sites, and post a scathing review, or worse, simply start rating the book with one-star to bring down an average from other reviewers. We’ve all had it happen. I think it’s how we accept it that often distinguishes the professionals from the amateurs. I’ve seen people whine and moan about one-star reviews, and if you’re fool enough to do that in public, the public will never forget it.

Yet, in some cases, there is good reason for complaint. More and more people are questioning the one-star hit and run “readers” who don’t really read the books, but have some bone to pick with the author. I recently noticed two such people on my Goodreads account–every book with a one-star rating, and all on the same day. So, is it remotely believable that someone would purchase every book on an author’s catalogue then find not a single title to their liking? And then wait until one afternoon to go online and rate them all? Doesn’t sound likely to me, honestly. Do I care, or am I upset? Not in the least. What DOES bother me is the mindset behind this kind of sabotage to someone’s reputation.

Authors work very hard to craft their books, as a rule. But if someone takes offense, they now have the means to be petty and malicious. It is nothing more than that. There’s something vitally wrong with a system of “ratings” when people can rate hundreds of books they’ve likely never read–and not once supply a review of any kind to support the rating. New authors are often crushed by this kind of thing, and at the very least they’re disheartened and shaken. It’s not remotely fair, though I’m well aware life usually isn’t! Then there’s the growing rumble of malcontent as it’s discovered that some of these “trolls” are actually other authors trying to knock down their “competition” by low rating books. That’s even more unsavoury than the ones who just want to exercise their “power” by trying to ruin any author’s high rating.

At the end of the day, this, like so much else, is all but irrelevant in many ways. New authors need to learn to submit their books to legitimate sites, reviewers with a record of being fair and respected within the industry. It may take time, you may not always get the stellar review you hoped for–but you will never be crapped all over and made to feel like unplugging your computer is your next career move.

To those of you out there who think you’re being cute, or those who really are just mean little trolls with no integrity, “go hard” as a friend of mine says…in the end, you don’t ever destroy a real writer–you make them more determined. Real talent is never silenced, and your efforts to malign will one day find and reward you justly. Life is like that, whether you believe it or not.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

New from Tina Donahue!

Tina Donahue's Deep Within Me is being released today from Samhain Publishing!

Erotic Paranormal - Book Two - The Prophecy

Unrestrained desire…danger without end.

For one agonizing moment, Zeke Neekoma thought his most feared vision had come true. Liz was lifeless in his arms, murdered by her own clan for one traitorous act—loving him. Then her father’s healing touch brought her back.

She hasn’t emerged from death unchanged. Now her healing gift leaves her drained, weak. Worse, Zeke is still tortured with visions of a woman covered in blood.

Liz aches for a future with Zeke, to always know the thrill of his body imprisoning hers with mindless pleasure. At her reanimation, she redoubles her determination to use her healing gifts to help his people—except Zeke refuses to allow her to use them.

But with her clan leader set to launch his next attack, Zeke and Jacob have no choice but to try to heal Liz with the same sensual force she used to save them. Yet it may not be enough to avert a merciless plan that will test Zeke’s humanity, risk Liz’s life—and threaten their timeless bond.

Features a determined hunk and a babe who won’t be tamed, loads of lusty sex including some menage, a ton of unrelenting peril, and love that knows no limit. In other words, a romance hot enough to vaporize steel.

Tina Donahue 
“Heat with Heart” 

DEEP WITHIN ME (June 25 - Samhain) 

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Pinterest  |  Amazon

The Esposito Series by J. M. Griffin

The Esposito Series Box Set: 

Now you can own the first three books in the sassy and suspenseful Vinnie Esposito Series by J.M. Griffin! 

By day, Lavinia (Vinnie) Esposito is a criminal justice instructor at a college in Rhode Island. By night Vinnie is an amateur sleuth, solving murders while trying to avoid getting yelled at by her Italian father, her hunky protective boyfriend Marcus Richmond, and her sexy upstairs tenant, the mysterious Aaron Grant. 

For Love of Livvy (Book 1) 

Vinnie investigates the death of her beloved aunt, and a mysterious box is left on her doorstep. 

Dirty Trouble (Book 2) 

Someone is stalking Vinnie and that’s just the beginning of her troubles. 

Dead Wrong (Book 3) 

Vinnie is out to save her brother from being framed after a valuable painting is stolen.


The front door knocker rapped twice after the door bell rang. I hustled from the rear deck of the gargantuan house to answer the summons. Someone seemed impatient, and I was curious as to who it was. My watch read just after eight o’ clock. I swung the heavy door open to find my prospective visitor absent.

It was so quiet, the town ghostly in its seemingly deserted state. Sundays were always lazy days in Scituate, once church was over. With a glance up and down the street of the small historic Rhode Island village, neat colonial homes stretched along the sides of the road in both directions. No one came into view.

On the doorstep, a package addressed to my recently deceased Aunt Livvy sat wrapped in brown paper. Again, I gawked up and down the street, but only empty sidewalks and barren roadway appeared in the waning light. The idea of a jaunt along the main drag entered my mind. I figured it would be senseless since the street was visible for about two hundred yards in either direction. Whoever had left the package was gone, long gone.

An eternity passed, or so it seemed, while my gaze locked onto the square, little box. Reluctant to touch it, I decided to call the local fire company to come take a gander. Call me paranoid, but as a criminal justice instructor, a recent audit of a class on bomb components remained fresh in my mind.

I quickly stepped to the living room and grabbed the phone. I dialed the private number of the fire station up the street. A grunt came across the phone line that could only be Bill MacNert.

“Hey Nerd, its Vinnie,” I said. “A package was just left on my doorstep, could you come down and check it out for me?”

“Sure, you got a secret admirer or somethin’?” He cackled, as only senior men can.

“Not likely, but you never know. This package is addressed to Lavinia Ciano, not Lavinia Esposito and is wrapped in brown paper. Nobody’s here to accompany this little surprise either.”

“I’ll be right down, Vinnie, don’t touch it.” He warned.


Anxious, I paced back and forth across gleaming hard wood floors in the spacious living room of my newly acquired colonial. My fingernails tapped the enamel on my teeth as I wandered to and fro. As irrational as it seemed, I finally leaned against the door jamb inside the entry to wait for MacNert to arrive.

It wasn’t long before the limber old guy came into view as he hot footed down the street with a stethoscope in his hand. This particular piece of equipment wasn’t quite what I’d expected, but then he wasn’t a bomb expert either.

When he arrived on the doorstep slightly out of breath, he glanced at the parcel, and then turned toward me.

“This was just delivered, you say?” MacNert squinted toward me with wizened brown eyes that twinkled all the time. It was as though there was a private joke going on inside his head.

“Yeah, someone knocked on the door, and when I got here to answer, there was nobody around. It didn’t seem prudent to mess with it, so I called you.”

“You just finished that bomb class, eh?” He chuckled and then sobered quickly. Since 9/11, everyone took stuff like this with a serious attitude. While he chuckled, I knew MacNert was no different.

The stethoscope ends plugged into his ears, Bill laid its diaphragm on top of the package. Removing it, he gingerly set it against the sides and listened again. I didn’t make a sound as he stood and glanced up.

“There’s no tickin’ but that doesn’t mean it’s not an explosive. You should probably call the state police barracks up the road. Have them send their bomb guys down for a lookie see, just to be on the safe side.”

“Geez, I hate to do that. I’ll feel stupid if it’s a joke,” I whined.

“It’s up to you, but if you were nervous enough to call me, then you should call them. It’s just my opinion, Vin.” He stepped over the box and wandered into the entryway. “Got anythin’ to eat? Wifey’s out of town visitin’ her sister and I’m starved.”

Bill didn’t seem over concerned, but then again, he hadn’t recently taken a bomb class either. My eyes never left the box as I answered him. “There’s food in the fridge, help yourself.”

I’d known the homely man and his family for years and respected his opinion. Tapping my fingers against my lips, I called after him, “You’re right. I’ll ring the state police now, but stick around okay?”

Unwilling to be nailed as over-dramatic by the staties, I reluctantly punched in the numbers. It was bad enough that the local cops had bugged the shit out of me for the first month after Aunt Livvy’s death. They still stopped by now and then, annoying me even more with stupid questions. Questions to which I had no answers.

After the trooper covering the desk answered, I explained what I’d found on the doorstep. He seemed unconcerned until I mentioned my name and address, and then he stated someone would be down momentarily. The swift change in his manner piqued my curiosity. I wondered why he’d suddenly capitulated when his initial response had been of disinterest.

In the living room, I paced while awaiting the arrival of the state police. Within minutes a sleek, grey Crown Victoria pulled up to the curb out front and a tall, lean trooper got out. Broad shouldered and well built, he walked with assurance and a certain amount of swagger. I stepped into the open door entry and watched him saunter through the front gate onto the walkway. He stared at the package and then at me.

“Did you call about this box, ma’am?” Keen hazel green eyes traveled over my face and down my body.

Craggy features, sculpted from granite, faced me and I felt my blood run hot as the breath caught in my throat. What was this about? I gazed at him admiring the neat package wrapped in the trim uniform.

“I did. Bill MacNert from the fire station thought it would be a good idea since it was mysteriously left on the doorstep. He checked to see if it was ticking, but it isn’t.”

“Are you Lavinia Ciano?” The trooper’s glance strayed from the name on the wrapper to me as his eyes showed a glint of humor and his mouth twitched.

Could that humor be over the name? I wondered, as I said, “No, my name is Esposito. Livvy was my aunt.” Our eyes held and my heart pounded. I licked my parched lips and then glanced away.

An oversized van idled up behind the patrol car and the trooper glanced back. Two men stepped from the vehicle dressed in heavy gear and acknowledged him. He turned to the lead man, mumbled a few words and then stared at me again. If this was an action film, I would have expected Bruce Willis to jump out of the truck announcing he was about to kick someone’s ass. This wasn’t an action film, but a real life situation instead.

The two guys angled through the front gate and hitched their gear as they hauled a peculiar looking lidded barrel toward the front door. By this time, a few neighbors had taken notice of the activities. Several people straggled along the sidewalk across the street to watch.

You’d think it was a freakin’ sideshow. I smiled and waved. Nobody responded, they just continued to gawk. A little excitement for them on an otherwise dull Sunday, I guessed. The trooper stood aside and watched the crowd, but said nothing.

The overdressed bomb guys corralled the box between them. With delicate finesse they lifted and stowed it into the metal container, loaded it into the truck and drove off. I stared in disbelief. Hell, I wanted to know what was in the package. I had a right to know, didn’t I?

The trooper turned to leave and I stepped forward.

“Uh, I’d like to know what’s in the box, if it’s not too much to ask.” My hand snuck up to my hip as my cocky Italian attitude slid into place.

Tall and Curious stiffened at my tone and turned to stare at me. It seemed he wasn’t used to being spoken to in this manner, which wasn’t any big surprise. Women tend to respond differently to men in uniform, especially a man such as this luscious creature. Well, not this chick. I teach guys like him all year long and the “I’m so wonderful” thing gets old fast.

“I’ll be sure to let you know, Miss Esposito. If we have any questions, you’ll hear from us right away.”

I gawked a moment and my eyes narrowed. His opened wide in contrast and he waited, his body tense. Maybe he thought I’d pitch myself off the steps onto his perfectly toned frame and pummel the daylights out of him or something. It was a thought, but I really wanted to know what was in the package. Besides, his muscles were bigger than mine.

In an effort to change tactics rather than be handcuffed and dragged off to jail, I smiled and spoke in as nice a manner as I could muster.

“I’d appreciate any information you could give me officer, since the package was left in such an alarming way. Should I call headquarters tomorrow?”

His look narrowed. I suspected he was unsure of where this was headed. There was a moment’s hesitation before he answered the question.

“Sure, that would be a good idea.” He gave a nod of the stiff brimmed campaign hat that covered cropped brown hair.

“All right then. I’ll call the colonel first thing.” My voice remained light and sweet, and the smile was charming, at least I hoped it was.

The colonel runs a strict police force and is a tough disciplinarian with an intense dislike for any impropriety, implied or otherwise. I’d gleaned that much from the cops in my criminal justice classes.

A tight lipped smile crossed his face. I figured he couldn’t decide whether I really knew the colonel or if this was a ploy. To be truthful, I lied by omission. I hadn’t said I knew the colonel, I just said I’d give him a call.

“That won’t be necessary ma’am. As soon as there’s any information, I’ll get in touch with you.” With a nod of his head, he turned and left.

Don’t you hate that ma’am thing? It makes me feel old. I know I’m thirty-something, but really.

Bill MacNert stood near the doorway sucking down a sandwich filled with sausage and peppers. My mother had sent the food home with me the day before. The smell of rich tomato sauce and fragrant sausage tantalized my taste buds.

“Guess it wasn’t that serious then?” Slurp noises preceded a sauce blob that dripped down his uniform shirt.

 I glanced at Bill’s shirt, snagged a tissue from my pocket and dabbed at the drip.

“I won’t know until tomorrow, but if I’m the town laughing stock you’re in for it and don’t forget it. By the way, did you leave me any food?” I chuckled at his expression.

Bill’s guilt ridden grin assured me that he hadn’t, but he swore that he had. He handed me the empty plate before he headed toward the fire station. I watched the stethoscope bob up and down from the back pocket of his pants. He trotted up the street, and I felt sure the story would make the rounds since Bill was an avid gossip.

The crowd had dispersed, and I was alone again. Livvy would have had a fit over the whole affair had she been alive, but I figured there was no sense in being stupid. I act that way often enough, thank you.

Mystery still surrounded Livvy’s non-violent death. While the police weren’t forthcoming with information, the state troopers’ attitude on the phone caused me to reconsider the promise to my father to not investigate on my own. I wandered through the house deep in thought over the situation.

Darkness had descended as I headed toward the bedroom. Changing into a t-shirt and boxer briefs, I climbed into bed with a notebook. The troopers’ attitude niggled at me. I leaned back against the pillows scribbling notes about the package delivery. Words ran across the page as the scene and the trooper came to mind. The trooper’s name wasn’t on his badge, but I remembered the badge number.

The pad propped against my knees, my mind drifted over the parcel and the officer’s attitude. Warm hazel green eyes along with the trooper’s cool manner had drawn my interest. It wasn’t really just his bearing that caught my attention either and it was a struggle to stay focused.

Intense eyes sat above a strong, chiseled nose and firm jaw. I sketched the features onto the pad of paper. His lips weren’t thin, not too wide, but just right for kissing. Wondering what it would be like to taste those lips, I gave myself a mental head slap. A cop is the last thing you want or need, my inner voice echoed. This voice always echoed dire warnings through my head. It had a bad habit of doing so at the worst possible moment. Just stay focused on Livvy, I lectured myself.

Snuggled under the lightweight blanket, thoughts about Livvy and our life played in my mind. Muscles relaxed, and I realized I needed to talk to her tomorrow. The graveyard was about two blocks away from the house. I often went to her grave for a conversation when I’d become involved in one issue or another. That’s what my life consisted of, one issue or another. Most of the time the issues were huge, never mundane, not ever.

I sighed, sniffed the sweet summer scents that wafted through the open window and wondered how this summer in Rhode Island would be. The pillow slipped lower and so did I as my mind wandered over life, the package and my aunt.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

As a humorous, cozy mystery writer, J.M. adds a touch of romance to every story. She believes in fairies, doesn't believe in coincidence, and feels life is what you make it. Believe in yourself and look at the positive, not the negative, to bring about success. AND. . .never stop trying.

J.M. lives in rural New England with her husband and two very mysterious cats.

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mental Meanderings...

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to many things recently. Jobs done, the sometimes unpleasant responses to doing work well, despite it being unpopular. Amid all the negativity and spite, several things have become clear–professionals admire other professionals, and amateurs find reasons to turn their issues into yours. I wear many hats, a result of working in a number of areas related to, but not exclusive to publishing. With two talented and dedicated partners and friends, I own and run an internationally read magazine that’s hosted some of the top talents in many entertainment fields. I’ve held the #1 best-seller position for over a year with one of my publishers, and achieved best-seller status with several others. Things to be proud of, to be sure.

Pride is a funny thing, just like popularity. Too much and you lose your perspective. Too little and you lose your ability to strand up straight and control your life. Popularity is a two-sided weapon–too little and you feel like all you’re doing means nothing and is reaching no one–too much and all you see is your small universe, not the bigger picture that is life.

I’ve gotten very weary of people in this business who scream and shout down the walls when things don’t go the way they want them to. Those who congregate on sites to snipe, bitch, and lay waste to their peers for whatever reasons, really need to take a closer look at what is really motivating their rage, because “the people have a right to know” is a cover for a thousand sins in any business. There truly is a right way and a wrong way to conduct your business, and public floggings are not really conducive to impressing anyone with your cause.

Like many of my peers, I’ve had issues with bad publishers, other authors, even over-zealous readers a couple of times. Unlike some, I don’t take the issues public. Nothing taints your credibility worse than “scandal” or attacking other business people. When asked about certain publishers, I will explain my experience, but I have never told anyone they shouldn’t publish with a company because I don’t like them, or for any other personal reason. We each have only OUR experiences to draw from, and one man’s joy is another man’s sorrow as we all know.

Recently, something has happened that has made me look very closely at motivation, response, and honest emotional reactions to attacks made against me. It doesn’t seem to matter a damn to anyone that some people just aren’t interested in “mud-wrestling” with anyone who happens to have a bug up their butt about someone else. Frankly, I have enough on my own plate without looking for more to add to it that doesn’t involve me in any way! Shit-storms never really blow over, they just change shape and focus, moving with the new fuel that people feed into them. Any doubts about that? Look at how many times a day any given social media is filled with virulent attacks and blasts to perceived enemies. For some it’s the only way they can get anyone’s attention, so they don the mantle of “defender” of some ideal that is then perverted and twisted to serve the immediate need of our modern Joan of Arc types.

Martyrdom aside, I have no great ambition to battle the world I want to one day conquer. My dragons have been slain, my fears acknowledged and tamed, and hopes embraced and put in the light so they can grow into real dreams attained, not simply aspired to. Until we know ourselves, we can’t really grow into all we want to become. And success should never be clawed at and clutched because it’s been stolen from someone else through manipulation and demeaning. If you think you can win your goals and dreams by tearing apart someone else, you’ll lose everything you think you’ve secured for yourself. Fact of life. Learn it well.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Promo’s Book Tour for Fairy Dust by Carol Shenold

Welcome to the third stop in Sensuous Promo’s Book Tour for Carol Shenold’s, Fairy Dust.

Can a half-fairy and a were wolf find true love and save the world the same day?

Fairy Dust by Carol Shenold

Half fae/half witch, Ande Ryan’s deepest desires are simple: a stress-free, fun evening with a nice guy, to earn the respect of her peers in the Paranormal Investigation Unit, and at long last, learn to use her Goddess given fae magic.

Instead, she fights a demon, gets mugged by a pixie, meets her soul mate and oh yeah, has to try and defeat a wizard with the help of a six-foot elf and a wolf—Cal Masterson.

Cal had no idea that his first encounter with Ande Ryan would include a fight with a demon or an intense attraction to the red-haired fairy who displays as much courage and determination as any wolf in his pack. Will Cal overcome his need to protect her as they both fight the odds and allow her fulfill her destiny?


The thing coming at me barreled out of the trees, leaping from shadow to shadow.

Its rotten-meat smell drove me back. It didn’t hesitate before it threw itself at the circle shield. Sparks flew off, crackling in the air and weakening the shield. It kept coming, like the crazy it was, slamming itself into the arc, weakening it more and more until one of the impacts threw me back, into my own energy and through it. 

Okay, out of protection here. I threw myself over to land on my knees and came up in a crouch.

The ghoul looked around as if it couldn’t figure out where I went. When it saw me, it let out a snarl and flew toward me. I sent a stream of earth fire at his sorry ass but missed because I levitated at the precise moment I let the stream of fire loose. Ahhhhh.

It always happens at the wrong time. If I ever get control of the flying thing, it will be so great. 

Now the darkling was truly confused, and I sent another tiny but forceful fire stream toward him. This time I didn’t miss, and he burst into flame, at least his arm did.

He screamed with frustration because he couldn’t see where I was, flailed around a bit, and ran back into the trees.

“Damn it.” I needed down before the hell dog came back so I could get rid of it.

What if some kid came along. Not one child but several, in a group, with a leader came skipping toward the bridge. Damn, I shouldn’t have had that thought out-loud.

“Go back,” I yelled as loud as I could. “Hurry. Run.” The kids were chattering at the top of their lungs. The leader tried to push them faster, wanting out of the park before the sun set altogether I guessed. They didn’t hear a word I said.

Shadows crept toward them, and one shadow moved away from the others. It was back and heading straight toward the kids.

“Up here, idiot. Leave the kids alone. I’m your prey. Come on, use that one cell you have for a brain.”

“Oomph.” I dropped like a dead fairy, directly in front of the thing. I was toast.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The social in Social Networking

What’s happened to the social aspect of our world class social networking sites? I posed this question today on my Facebook wall, off hand, as an observation that very little in the way of social interaction seems to take place on these sites nowadays. The responses and shared annoyance surprised me a little.

It’s only been a few short years since social networking exploded into all our lives and connected us to the “four corners” of the planet. We interact daily with people who are often on the other side of the world, and we share common loves and affection in many cases. But, recently, I’ve noticed that the biggest social network of them all has lost a lot of its social aspects. Hence the question - where is the social in social networking. Many users of Facebook have apparently been asking the same thing. Endless streams of advertising and for authors the constant flogging of books... Does this really have any effect on the buying public? Apart from annoying them, of course.

Over the past few days, I’ve left over two dozen groups designed solely for the purpose of book promotion. The membership of these groups must be in the vicinity of 10,000 people. So why leave? Well, in groups of over 1000 authors trying to snag the attention of readers, how long do you think your post stays on the top of the page? It’s not so bad if you own the group or admin it, you can then post your material and “pin it” to the top. Hardly fair, but still, you do own the group, after all.

At the end of the day it’s my belief that the only real way to sell books is to take them to where readers look for new titles. Showcase your work on your pages, invite other authors to share their work via your blogs, and rely on the best promotion possible, your readers, who if they like a book will tell all their friends! I’m not convinced for a moment that endless posting to groups does anything more than irritate people who would much rather converse and share a laugh, or ask a friend for a recommendation when it comes to a new book or author.

A few years ago, MySpace was all the rage... I remember how much fun it was to log in and see who’d posted things on my page, and how much fun it was to have some control over the way my page looked. The new MySpace doesn’t look like that, of course, everyone is expected to look the same... which could account for why the site floundered and is all but dead. Facebook allows us to waste hours playing games, of course. But, how many people really do chat and have fun now? It was only a few years ago that a single post would have numerous friends jumping in, laughing, and having a lot of fun - it was social - it was an online party. Now, that rarely happens.

Twitter is a ton of fun–and I’ve honestly found there is more social interaction there than on Facebook much of the time now. I don’t know the mysteries of Tumblr, another hot ticket in the online social world. Pinterest is hot–don’t understand how that works, either, but I’m old–maybe it’s all getting to be too much after all?? I do know that getting back to basics is the only way I see of being able to find some focus for work, and storytelling. There is no easy answer, if indeed there is an answer at all, but I do wonder often now if all of this social networking has taken us all away from real interaction with people around us. We spend so much time in front of our computers that we lose time in our “real” worlds that could be spent with the people we love and doing the things we love. Instead, too many of us appear determined to spend hours on Facebook–bitching about it when it doesn’t work, doesn’t respond quickly enough, and makes changes we don’t like to their stream of doing things.

Ultimately, I come back to the same query–does any of this further my efforts to reach people as a writer–or as an individual? I’m doubting it somehow... What do you think?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Guest: Jo Sparkes

A brief interview with Jo Sparkes:

How long have you been writing?

Since I was about eight. If squiggles count, since I was four.

How long have you been a published author?

My first book was published a year ago. I’ve been a professional writer for some time.

What titles do you have available?

Feedback  How to Give It, How to Get It. The Writer’s Guide to Spinning Gold. It’s a survival method for turning criticism into career rocket fuel.

And now this fantasy, of course. The Birr Elixir.

What made you choose the subject of this book?
Pure self-indulgence.

I’m paid to write what others want. Don’t get me wrong -- I’m grateful for the work.

But it’s so much fun to just cut loose and write what I want to write. Without permission, without approval, and without a committee review to determine what ought to be most effective for the goal at hand.

Mind you, there’s a ton of editing and criticism that goes into crafting a book. But it’s still my own choices, my own story. Or the characters story, really. They’re the bosses.


Do you have any new titles coming soon?  Will you be venturing into the area of fiction anytime soon?
November is the projected date for the next book in the series. And I have a sort of beach/tropical/supernatural horror, but I haven’t begun that novel.

What is your favourite genre and why?
I vary. What really catches me is a great story, with great characters. For example, I’m not really a big horror person, but I loved the Sixth Sense. It transcends the genre.

What, to you, is the most exciting part of the writing process?
I suppose – and this probably is really weird – I suppose those key flashes during the rewrite. You’ve got the draft done, and after letting it sit a bit, pick it up and read. And you change bits here and there, of course, but you’ll find a whole scene or thread that doesn’t quite work. The gut says it could be better.

And BAM! Marra (the character) hits you with what she really would do – some new idea that deepens the story, that makes it twist and take off in a new direction. And the other characters and plot points suddenly evolve before your eyes.

You walk around grinning foolishly the whole day.

If you could co-author a book with anyone, who would you choose and why?
I love collaborating. Two heads are so much better than one, at least upon occasion.

Perhaps Tom Clancy. I’d love to find out his method, how he works. Or Maeve Binchey. Shakespeare would be great – but I have a feeling I’d never be able to communicate with him.

Where can readers find you on the web? The book details and blurb is there – and other stuff. 

Feel free to include your latest release/promo, and any additional info you might like included! Thanks so much for being my guest.

A well-known Century City Producer once said Jo Sparkes “writes some of the best dialogue I’ve read.”

Jo graduated from Washington College, a small liberal arts college famous for its creative writing program, forgot about writing totally, until she had a chance to study with Robert Powell, a student of renowned teachers Lew Hunter and Richard Walter, head of UCLA’s Screenwriting Program.

She has written feature film scripts, scripts for Children’s live-action and animated television programs, a direct to video Children’s DVD, and commercial work for corporate clients. A featured writer on several websites, she was a member of the Pro Football Writers Association and (very unofficially) the first to interview Emmitt Smith when he came to the Arizona Cardinals.

Jo served as an adjunct teacher at the Film School at Scottsdale Community College, and even made a video of her most beloved lecture.

Her book for writers and artists, “Feedback How to Give It How to Get It” has received glowing reviews.

When not diligently perfecting her craft, Jo can be found exploring her new home of Portland, Oregon, with her husband Ian, and their dog Oscar.

Her latest book is the fantasy, The Birr Elixir.

You can visit her website at or connect with her at twitter at 

 About the Book:

Marra had never heard of Birr Elixir.

But when Drail of the Hand of Victory saw the words in an old book, she found herself agreeing to make it. Even lacking the right ingredient.

And after drinking it, the Hand of Victory defeated a Skullan team, something no one had ever done before. Now Drail walked the path his grandsire had walked, and Marra was offered a place as Brista, his potions mistress. She doubted her ability, but took the chance to escape her slave-like existence.

When she found a way to wake the mysterious sleeper, Marra wondered if she deserved the title after all.

But with Tryst's waking, ill luck and bad things suddenly dogged their tracks. Drail, being a man of action, saw only the good in people. Marra lacked his faith, but was frozen by her own timidity. When the time came to confront these enemies, would Tryst stand with them or against them?

Would it make any difference?

Purchase your copy at AMAZON