May 29, 2015

Do Authors Play Favorites?

Hmmm… I mused… do authors play favorites? Do they have favorites among their own characters and is this impacted by the number of books they have written and their personal hero type preference? To answer these questions, I enlisted the help of five, fabulous writer friends…

Cherie Nicholls, author of 11 books, recently released Windborn on May 7th, but she thinks Laney from her first book Leashed by a Wolf is still her favorite. Her favorite hero type is strong and protective, the kind of male who becomes unstoppable when they meet the right female. Sounds a lot like Heath, the hero in Leashed by a Wolf.

The author of around 80 books and short stories, Raven McAllan admits she always favors her current hero and heroine. She confesses a soft spot for Athol in the Dommissimma series just because he was so much fun to write and Molly Simpkins from A Most Unusual Mistress because it inspired the Miss Simpkins series. She writes hot characters – strong heroes and feisty heroines, her favorite type.

Alannah Harte modelled Rafe from The Best Part of Breaking Up, her first solo book, after a good friend she liked, but didn’t return her feelings. They remained friends and now Rafe has a special place in her heart.

The author of 54 books and counting, Doris O’Connor falls in love with each of her heroes as she writes them. If she had to pick an all-time favorite couple it would be Sven and Sylvia from her first book The Housewife and the Filmstar. She loves strong, possessive, dominant alphas and tortured bad boys… these types are often featured in her stories.

Jessica Stevens is the author of 2 books with her second book Behind the Makeup just released May 5th. She told me she always falls for her main characters although Alana and Nick are especially special since they were part of her first solo publication.

There’s something about a ‘first’ of anything… A first kiss, a first love, and, apparently, a first book. Many of the authors I interviewed noted characters from their first books were still their favorites. It also appears favorite character types influence the characters written.

I’m no different from the rest. Gabe from my first book Dream Hunter, a strong, protective man who confidently knows what he wants, is my favorite, hands down.

I’m sure you’d find many of your favorite authors have a special place in their heart for their first characters and incorporate their favorite character types in their books.
Readers, do you have favorites? Let me know in the comments. Thanks!


Cherie Nicholls is an author of Paranormal Romance. By day she is an IT Manager and by night she whips up worlds where alpha men find their mates and people are always more than human.

Cherie was born and lives in London, UK and is a daughter, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, aunt-in-law, great-aunt, and godmother in an ever growing family. She has a passion for shifter stories, most any sport and thimbles...don’t ask.  

Raven McAllan lives in Scotland, along with her husband and their two cats—their children having flown the nest—surrounded by beautiful scenery, which inspires a lot of the settings in her books.

She is used to sharing her life with the occasional deer, red squirrel, and lost tourist, to say nothing of the scourge of Scotland—the midge.

Her very understanding, and long-suffering DH, is used to his questions unanswered, the dust bunnies greeting him as he walks through the door, and rescuing burned offerings from the Aga. (And passing her a glass of wine as she types furiously.)

Alannah Harte grew up in the south of Ireland beside the sea. She still calls this beautiful part of the world home. Her background is in education. She loves drama and debating and has been successful in both. Her writing played second fiddle to these activities for a decade but in 2010 she took up the typewriter again.

Glutton for punishment would be a good description for Doris O’Connor... at least that's what she hears on an almost daily basis when people find out that she has a brood of nine children, ranging from adult to toddler and lives happily in a far too small house, cluttered with children, pets, dust bunnies, and one very understanding and supportive husband. Domestic goddess she is not.

There is always something better to do after all, like working on the latest manuscript and trying not to scare the locals even more than usual by talking out loud to the voices in her head. Her characters tend to be pretty insistent to get their stories told, and you will find Doris burning the midnight oil on a regular basis. Only time to get any peace and quiet and besides, sleep is for wimps.

She likes to spin sensual, sassy, and sexy tales involving alpha heroes to die for, and heroines who give as good as they get. From contemporary to paranormal, BDSM to F/F, and Ménage, haunting love stories are guaranteed.

Jessica Stevens was born in Northern Ireland and moved to London a few weeks after, where she grew up with her parents and siblings. As a child, she was always writing songs and poems, so it was only natural that Jessica should find her feet in writing Romance. Jessica now lives in Bedfordshire with her husband, their three children and their dog. Much of her working week is spent cooking and looking after their three small children and the family dog. At weekends, she tries to spend as much quality time with her family and can often be found roaming woods and other opened spaces, desperately trying to run off some of her boy's endless energy, much to the objection of her 'growing up way too fast' daughter.

May 24, 2015

For Sexy Snippets - May 24, 2015

#SexySnippets are seven sentences, taken from a work in progress, or published book, brought to you every Sunday.

This is a #SexySnippet from Dream Hunter, my latest paranormal romance. This scene is between my heroine Cynthia and her guardian angel Gabe near the beginning of the story. Let's set the stage... In one day, Cynthia has found out there is a threat against her workplace and she has a guardian angel to protect her. A normally independent woman, Cynthia has a hard time accepting help, let alone protection, from someone else. Her reaction to his help is a confused mixture of gratitude and resentment. In this scene, Gabe has just told her he has retrieved some clothes and toiletries from her apartment for her stay.

Here are the seven sentences... Slightly amended to fit into the guidelines... Enjoy! :)

How dare he? Indignation shook her to the core. ...Before she could even open her mouth, he grabbed her shoulders with both his hands and smashed her lips against his.

“Mmph,” she protested with little resistance as he proceeded to nip her bottom lip, sending tremors all the way down to her toes. Her anger forgotten, she submitted to his arousing assault. With a soulful sigh, she relaxed against his muscular body. Appreciating the feel of the hard panes of his chest under her small hands and the way he trembled under her touch. 

Cynthia’s dreams are so real, they are actually coming true – complete with the prerequisite dream guy. But things are not as they seem.
Who said dreams are sweet?
Chicago businesswoman Cynthia Courtland is completely focused on her career when a sensual, reoccurring dream disrupts her orderly life. Then a threat against her workplace forces her to take time off. She is lost with nowhere to go--only her empty apartment.
Work is Gabe’s life too; he takes it very seriously and will do whatever it takes to succeed. He's been watching over Cynthia for a long time and he has her best interests at heart, but can he protect her from the danger she is blind to? When Cynthia insists on investigating the threat so she can get back to work, it makes Gabe's job all the more difficult.
When things settle, will there be more for them than a life filled with work? Will she give her dreams a chance to come true?


If you liked this sexy snippet, please check out the other awesome authors participating in #SexySnippets this week as well as the other writing samples on my blog. Dream Hunter now available

May 22, 2015

The Author's Resume

I approach querying a book for publication the same as applying for a regular job (even though writing is a hobby for now).
In my experience, a prospective employer is looking at a combination of factors: appropriate education and experience. Those qualifications only get your foot in the door. Interpersonal skills and professionalism also factor into the hiring equation. Being qualified on paper does not mean you are qualified for the position.
What qualifies your book to be published? How do you get your foot in the door?
The query letter is the cover letter and contains a brief description of your book and highlights your education and experience. Let me elaborate.
Have you completed the necessary research for your book? Even fiction requires a modicum of fact-finding. Well-written science fiction, in particular, must be based on sound science. Thorough research will solidify the plausibility of your storyline and win the heart of even the staunchest critic.
Have you enlisted help from a second pair of eyes? Even the most seasoned author makes mistakes. The first draft, and even the second or third, is usually wrought with errors. Self-editing will only take you so far. You wrote it. It's perfect. You think. But are you willing to take that risk? I think not. You have options. Ask a friend, join a writing critique group, or seek a professional editor for a read-through.
An unpublished author can compensate for a deficiency in experience by emphasizing their strengths and what they have to offer. They can note their educational background, highlight writing-related accomplishments, and identify their author platform. A query request is about more than just your book. You are packaging and selling yourself as a brand. Make yourself stand out from the rest. Enthusiasm and innovation can make up for a lack of experience.
I started submitting my debut book to publishers in July 2013 as a completely unestablished author. In my query letter I mentioned my commerce degree and noted the applicability of my completed coursework in English and Communications. At that time, I had only published a short story and I had no author platform, just a Facebook account. I started my blog in January 2014 and set-up my website in December 2014.
A published author can showcase their experience through their published works and accomplishments. They can highlight sales figures and writing awards. They can demonstrate an established author platform and brand. They have built-up a readership eager for their next book.
I took the lessons learned from my first publishing experience and I adapted. Going through the process was a tremendous undertaking for me. To say there was learning curve is an understatement. I realized (albeit a little late in the game) the importance of an author platform. After writing and publishing comes selling and, in order to sell successfully, marketing and promotion is crucial. I took the knowledge gained from my business marketing courses and devised a marketing plan. This plan was not limited to selling my debut book, its reach extended into my brand – me. Establishing me as an author – taking interviews, promoting blog posts, and working with other authors – would create interest in me personally as well as my work – present and future.
Interpersonal Skills and Professionalism:
The combination of education and experience has gotten your foot in the door. Now it's your books' turn. The publisher has looked beyond the query letter. They are reading the synopsis, first three chapters, or whatever sample of your book they requested with the submission. They will assess the quality and marketability of your work based on set criteria.
Is your book well-written? Have the characters been adequately developed? Is your storyline unique? Is your book a suitable fit for the publisher? And – the most important question of all – is your book marketable?
As an author, not a publisher, I can only speculate on the types of questions and level of scrutiny put on a manuscript under consideration for publication. Years of job interviews in the business world has taught me prospective employers all have particular criteria in mind. The publisher (employer) is considering your book for publication (a job). It may differ from publisher to publisher, but they are evaluating your book with their own particular criteria in mind.
The book is the author's resume. It speaks for itself. The publisher will judge you on the merit of your words and deem you worthy of publication or not.
I treat my writing career as a job because I take it very seriously. When I put my mind to something, I am determined to succeed. Whether I actually do or not is another factor altogether! After all, as they say, 'nothing ventured, nothing gained'.
Writing and publishing a book was a brand new adventure for me. I always wanted to be an author. I believe everyone has a story in them and I didn't want to regret not writing mine. I published my first book in 2014 and I'm currently querying my second book, keeping all these pertinent points in mind, of course.
Being an author is a job, at times, a difficult and discouraging one. You face constant rejection from publishers and readers. But it's worth every iota of misery to experience the pure joy of creating.
If being an author is a job, then you need to approach a query submission like a job application. You need to put your best foot forward so you stand out from the rest. You need to equip yourself with the tools of the trade – a well-written query letter and polished writing sample – the author's equivalent of a cover letter and resume.

Then comes the hardest part... The waiting.

May 18, 2015

Book Spotlight - Behind The Makeup

Congratulations, Jessica, on the release of your latest book and welcome to my blog!

Hello and thank you Maya for having me here today.  I am celebrating the release of my latest book, Behind The Makeup, so I thought I would stop by and tell you a little bit about it, see if I can wet your whistle as it were ;-)

Elizabeth Rhey is a world class singer on her final tour. Gareth Buchanan is her body guard with a history. When her brother is killed, her world falls apart. A police investigation means that past secrets are exposed and ghost come back to haunt.  Can they face their past to find peace in the future?

So this is the cover:

As soon as he sat down, he was encased with her scent again. She smiled at him and he sensed she was nervous.
“Are you okay being here?” he asked, worried he had got this all wrong.
“Yeah of course, why do you ask?”
Gareth watched her forehead furrow as she leaned back on the bench and stared at him.
“Well, this isn’t your usual kind of hangout place, and I just suddenly thought it was a bit too… I dunno, a bit.”
“Common?” Beth interjected.
God this is going wrong. How she made him feel so small. But she was right, too. It was a very small thing to suggest. He knew her better than that.
“Not in so many words, but yes.” He held her stare, intrigued to what she would say.
Beth let out a chuckle and smiled. The humour reached her eyes and made them sparkle. Then she sat forward, rested her forearms on the table, and lent across the table towards him. “How much do you know about me?”
The question threw him a little. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, what do you know about me before I became…?” She leaned over more and finished her sentence in a whisper. “You know… famous?”
Gareth thought for a second. “Not much to be honest.”
Beth leaned back on the bench again, just as Dan approached the table offering their drinks.
“There you go, Gareth, and this must be yours?”
Gareth knew that Dan was fishing for a name. Now he cursed himself for not admitting that Beth was with him. He could tell that Dan was trying his luck with her.
“Jennifer,” Gareth said. Beth looked over the table at him, her eyes wide in question. He hoped to god she would just go with the flow. “I’ll save you the embarrassment, Dan, Jen is gay.” Both men looked over at Beth as she spluttered her J2O.
“Sorry, you don’t mind me saying, do you, Jen?” Gareth wiggled his eyebrows at her as he smiled mischievously at her.
“No not at all. I’ll remember to bring a badge next time, you know, save you the trouble,” she said to Gareth. He relaxed when he heard the playfulness in her voice.
“Right, well, I’ll leave you to it.” Dan picked up the tray[SBS1]  he used to carry the drinks over with. “Catch you later, Gareth,” he said as he walked back behind the bar.
“Laters, Dan,” Gareth called out after him, but Dan was gone too quick.
“Jen? Gay?”
If you would like to read more, you can purchase a copy from here:

Get to know me:
I live in Bedfordshire with my husband, three children and our dog. Our oldest children are nine and seven and both go to school. Our youngest is two and a half and full of energy. Too much at times if you ask me lol. Growing up I was always writing songs and poems. I actually wanted to be a singer, but that didn’t quite work out. I got into writing with a friend of mine, I joined a writing critique group and learnt a lot. A few years later here I am with my second publication. I still cant believe it to be honest. Happy is an understatement.

I love hearing comments from readers, so please leave a message and tell me what you think. Or you can find me
You can find me on:
Twitter @jpstevens79

Until next time, take care.
Jessica xXx

May 15, 2015

The Elusive Honest Review

Every author needs reviews for their book. Along with cover, genre, and description, reviews convince a reader to buy a book. Every reader looks for different things so you have to have it all.
v  The amazing cover.
v  The genre of choice.
v  The spell-binding description.
v  And reviews (lots of them) extolling all the unique virtues of the book.
How to obtain a vast number of complimentary reviews? That is the million dollar question. Or, in some cases, the $40 - $200 question. Do you buy them? Do you swap for them? Do you ask (or beg) for them? Do you play the ‘wait and see’ game? What is a writer to do? Reviews are a must. Who will buy a book (or any product for that matter) that no one has reviewed? No one.
The truth to obtaining reviews is patience and hard work. There’s no 'secret, skip to the front of the line' formula. And there’s no guarantee every review will be a good one. I’ve read time and again that a few poor reviews give your book credibility. It’s true a book with 150 five star reviews seems a bit phony.
These are the hard truths about reviews:
·         Not everyone will like your book.
·         Some will like it (or love it) and still not leave a review.
·         It takes time for reviewers to actually read your book.
·         Some reviewers will accept a reviewer copy and not post a review.
·         There are more books out there than reviewers.
By the time you publish your book, you’ve done your work (along with your editors) to make it the best it can be. Like a child heading to kindergarten, you send your book off into the world to be admired and enjoyed. And <gasp> not everyone loves it as much as you do!
I appreciate the honesty and time of every reader who leaves a review. Since I embarked on this review seeking journey, I leave more book reviews myself.

May 8, 2015

PRE-RELEASE BLITZ for Kola by Kiru Taye


Title: Kola
Author: Kiru Taye
Series: An Essien Trilogy Spinoff
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotic, Suspense
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Cover Model: Allan
Photography: Yuri Arcurs
Cover design: Love Bites and Silk


When sassy heiress with a heart of gold, Tari Essien, needs a place to escape the pressures of the hounding press, she turns to Kola Banks, a deeply scarred ex-soldier who's also the Essien chief of security. Kola can't offer Tari anything more than his protection. She's family for goodness sake, even if they share no blood ties.
It’s a weekend of lessons for both of them. Together they can't avoid the explosive heat that sizzles between them, nor help pushing each others' boundaries physically as well as emotionally.
But when the weekend ends and Tari's life is in danger, Kola will put his body as well as his heart in the line of fire to keep her safe.



If she even sensed half of the things he wanted to do to her, she’d run a mile.
He jumped into the pool. When he came up for air, she was gone from the window. He swam a few laps before the skin on his nape prickled and he lifted his head.
Tari stood at the edge of the pool, wearing what he could only describe as a very skimpy emerald bikini set, her hourglass curves barely tamed by the scraps of fabric, her flawless caramel skin tempting him to touch and taste her.
How was he supposed to keep his hands off her if she walked around his house with next to nothing on?

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May 1, 2015

How do you spell 'Scrabble'?

My mom taught me how to play Scrabble when I was a kid to help improve my spelling. We played Scrabble Junior first (the one where the words are already made up), then we graduated to the real Scrabble board game.

I've grown up quite a bit since those days, but I've realized real lessons can be learned from a game of Scrabble.

Three truths about Scrabble:
1. It does help improve spelling.
2. You need the right letters.
3. You need to find a place on the board.

I was playing Scrabble one night and I started comparing it to writing. How much depends on the ability to form the right words and place them correctly. You can have the best word out there, but it means nothing if there's no space on the board.

I play Scrabble by myself on my iPad, but we also have a Deluxe Edition. My husband is a big fan of the double and triple scores so I've only beat him a handful of times. Even when I have marvelously brilliant words! :)

I love the eloquence of the game. My challenge (other than to beat my husband) is to create a beautiful board, nicely spread out with words longer than three letters. I like getting the 'q' or the 'z' because they represent a unique challenge. And I like using all my letters first.

You can be the best Scrabble player (or writer) in the world, but the only words that count are the ones you put out there.