Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Anthem's Fall by S.L. Dunn (guest post, excerpt and GIVEAWAY)

I have the pleasure of hosting S.L. Dunn today and he has shared his thoughts about his writing. 

What do you think is the strongest attraction about the genre(s) you like to write in?

Anthem's Fall has elements of both sci-fi and fantasy. It reads like a Michael Crichton novel that collides with a Marvel/DC kind of storyline. Without getting too caught up in classifications, I would say there are aspects of “low fantasy” and “high fantasy” that fuse together to create the plotline. With that in mind, it can be said that my favorite genre as a writer is anything with a bent toward the fantastical.

I love all genres, and my bookshelf is quite eclectic. My favorite writers range from John Irving to John Steinbeck and everywhere in between. But when it comes to my own work, I’m exclusive to sci-fi/fantasy, at least for now.

Empathy is at the heart of every novel, whether it's Moby Dick or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The reader picks up the novel, envisions the scenes and the characters, and somewhere along the line has emotions aroused. Readers don’t experience a book passively, and at some point in the pages they might feel fearful, anxious, excited, edified, amused etc. That feeling can only manifest itself through empathy, regardless of a book’s genre. 

What separates sci-fi and fantasy from other genres is another unique attribute on top of that empathy, and that is imagination. The willingness on the reader’s part to suspend his or her disbelief is a foundation of fantastical fiction. Of course all novels require imagination to write and read, but sci-fi and fantasy bring that imagination to its zenith. Only in sci-fi and fantasy is imagination a key component of the novel’s fabric. 

The way I regard my own writing is simple. If I’m going to be making stuff up on every page, I might as well go all the way and create entire worlds. I’d rather take my chances going “all in” and push a reader’s suspension of disbelief to the max than hold back with any aspect of my storytelling. I write for a reader who is willing to leave reality at the door, and my goal is to deliver in the task of igniting his or her willing imagination.


Anthem's Fall

S.L. Dunn

Above a horrified New York City, genetics and ethics collide as the fallen emperor and a banished exile of the same herculean race ignite into battle over the city’s rooftops. In the streets below, a brilliant young scientist has discovered a technology that can defeat them both, yet might be more terrible than either.

Set both in modern New York City and in the technologically sophisticated yet politically savage world of Anthem, Anthem’s Fall unfurls into a plot where larger than life characters born with the prowess of gods are pitted against the shrewd brilliance of a familiar and unlikely heroine.


“Yes, Lord Vengelis!” the boy called, but suddenly froze with fear. The boy began trembling, his chest convulsing in terror. Vengelis slowly turned and looked in all directions. Hysteria was rampant; men, women, and children were running every direction, many horribly wounded. None of them were soldiers. The fire was blazing out of control, and the entire block was immersed in raging flames.

A woman standing nearby, just below a broad tilted awning, remained unscathed. Her appearance contrasted strangely with the mayhem around them. She was thin and average sized, of Royal appearance, with blonde hair and bright blue eyes. Tattered ribbons of the awning and bits of orange cinders and ash blew all about her. She was smiling at Vengelis, her teeth white and perfect. Vengelis was taken aback.

Her eyes.

Vengelis squinted through the billowing ash and felt an eerie sense of disquiet surface within him. Her eyes were not quite right. There was a glowing property to her stare, as though her eyes were emitting a strange blue radiance. She was beautiful, but the serene way she was smiling in the midst of the madness was peculiarly horrifying.

“State your name and rank!” Vengelis called out.

The boy stifled a small cry as the woman’s smile broadened. Vengelis glared and turned his attention from her to the boy. In a corner of his mind he already knew he was speaking to one of the Felixes. She moved her unsettling gaze from Vengelis to the boy. The boy let out a terrible sob and released the soldier he had been dragging. The woman took a step closer to the child.

There was no longer any doubt in Vengelis’s mind.

The woman whirled into motion, dashing toward the boy and reaching for his throat. The boy flinched and locked his eyes shut, expecting instant death. But it did not come. He peered through his trembling eyelids after a moment passed. The woman was still reaching for his throat, though now just in front of him. Vengelis had closed the distance and grabbed her wrist with his left hand, stopping the strike in its tracks. Her fingernails were reaching out longingly, inches from the boy’s neck. The woman turned to Vengelis, her expression vacant.

“Huge . . . mistake,” Vengelis growled through gritted teeth, his knuckles white from the vice grip on her wrist. “Get out of here, kid.”


S.L. Dunn is the debut author of Anthem’s Fall, a novel he wrote amid the wanderings of his mid twenties. He has written while living intermittently in St. John USVI, Boston, Maine and Seattle. Raised on big screen superheroes and pop science fiction, he sought to create a novel that bridged a near-sci-fi thriller with a grand new fantasy. He currently resides in Seattle with his girlfriend Liz and their dog Lucy, and is hard at work completing the next book of the Anthem’s Fall series. Get in touch at

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Eyes Die Last by Teri Riggs

The Eyes Die Last

by Teri Riggs



The Las Vegas Mayoral race is heating up, and the incumbent doesn’t have a prayer. Wealthy real estate speculator Nick Campenelli, who wants to legalize prostitution in Clark County, and former pastor Louis St. Louis, running on a 'clean-up-Vegas-by-getting-rid-of-the-whores' platform, are the front runners.

They’re also front runners on the suspect list for a string of murders. Kennedy O’Brien, four-year detective with cop blood running in her veins, and her partner Wilder “Wild Thing” James, a veteran, are determined to find the man who’s murdering prostitutes who work the wrong side of the street, and they don’t care how important or politically active he is.

The killer is a man with a mission. He stalks the women before he kills them, leaving a “BEFORE” photo on their bodies, and sending an “AFTER” shot to the local news hound. Ed Hershey, an aging newscaster with just the right amount of grey in his hair, is determined to turn this story into a network gig, and his interference, along with the LVTVS legal team, are making Kennedy and Wilder look bad. Campenelli’s good looks and charm, and St. Louis’ vitriolic hatred of prostitutes are muddying the waters too, and now the killer seems to have taken a liking to Kennedy.

So the big question remains. Can she get him before he gets her?



Wilder was fine, just winded.  She turned to Elvis, ready to whip some mad on him.  “Would you mind explaining what you’re doing here?”

“Sorry, Detective Gorgeous Eyes.  I’m trying to find out who killed my Priscilla.  I might possibly, have overheard you and your partner talking about staking out the store.”


“I thought I’d have a look myself—undercover.  I was doing a decent job of it until I saw Detective James take off like a bat out of hell.  I followed in case he needed backup.  And, well, here I am.”  Elvis sheepishly looked away.

“Undercover?  In a fucking, flashing, light up Elvis jump suit?”  She looked him up and down, blinking at the lights on his clothes.

“I accidentally hit the on button while running.”

Kennedy turned to Nick, who still had that same grin she suddenly despised, dimples and all, plastered on his face.  “What about you, Campenelli?  What’s your story?”

“Just out for a stroll, Detective.”

Wilder and Elvis both stifled grins and she shot them a look that shut them down.  Wilder should know better than to mess with her when she was pissed, and she was really pissed.

“If I had the time I’d haul both of your asses in for obstruction, lock you up, and throw away the key.”

“Well now, it’s lucky for us you’re pressed for time.”  Nick sounded smug and he was still smiling. Damn the man.

Wilder turned to Elvis.  “You get a good look at the man I was chasing?  Could he be the man at the casino taking pictures of you and Priscilla?”

“I’m not sure.  He sort of looks familiar.  But I’m really not sure where or if I’ve ever seen the dude.”

“The man is my campaign manager, John Tully.”  Nick offered, “You may have seen John on TV with me.  We’ve been on camera quite a bit lately.”

Wilder, his breathing back to normal, asked, “Mr.  Campenelli, how can we reach your campaign manager?  There are questions we’re going to need answered.”

Nick scribbled down a few notes on the back of a business card and passed it over.  “Try calling these numbers.  If they don’t work, I’ll call my assistant and she’ll get you John’s address.  He lives in Summerlin, I believe.”

Wilder pocketed the card.  “Kenny, I think this stakeout is a bust for the day.  I’ll take Elvis to Metro, go through some of the mug shots and get that picture of St. Louis in front of him.  We’ll see if he spots anyone.”

“No thanks to these two,”  Kennedy snarled.




 Teri Riggs was destined to be a writer.  As a small girl she didn’t read bedtime stories, she made up her own.  Who needed Little Red Riding Hood or The Three Little Pigs when there were so many great tales bouncing around in her head?  When she grew up and became a mother to three little girls, she continued the tradition of making up bedtime stories.  On the occasions she chose to tell conventional fairytales, Teri usually gave them a bit of tweaking here and there or added a new ending.  Her girls loved it.

After her daughters had the nerve to actually grow up and leave home, Teri discovered she had a passion for writing and jumped right in.  It came as no surprise she chose to write mysteries and happily-ever-afters since that’s the genres she loves to read.

Teri lives in Marietta, Georgia with her husband, one of her daughters and two dogs that seem to think they rule the world.  And some days Teri thinks maybe they do.

Teri still frequently tells herself stories as she falls asleep.  The only difference now is she wakes up the next morning and turns her bedtime stories into books.

Author links:
Twitter: @TeriLRiggs

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Monday, July 28, 2014

The Ashes That Remain by A.M. Griffin (spotlight, excerpt) GFT

The Ashes That Remain
A.M. Griffin


We’re at war against the aliens that have invaded Earth, fighting the only way we can—by surviving. I have more than most people do, but although I know it’s stupid to hold on, I can’t let go of what might have been—can’t help dreaming of something more. No matter how I tell myself it would be easier to do what everyone else wants me to, there’s a part of me that can’t give in.

Making the best of the situation is one thing. Settling, even to make other people happy, is something else.

Then we hear the alien mother ships have disappeared. Of course we have to go and investigate. What we find lands us in a huge mess that we somehow have to clean up and, as our little enclave is rocked to the core with even more changes, I’m learning a hard lesson.

The more things change—for the better or the worse—there’s no fighting human nature, and building on the ashes that remain will take everything we have. And maybe more.


We’re in trouble.

Deep trouble.

We’re out in the open.

It’s day time.

And no matter how many times I’ve been to Detroit, it’s still an unfamiliar city.

If this were Oxford Township, we’d have known all the nooks and crannies to hide in. But out here every building looks like a trap and every street looks like a dead end.

A blast erupts in front of us, sending snow and pieces of debris up from the ground to pelt me in the face.

I slide to a stop and lose my balance to fall on my side. “Shit.”

As MJ runs by me, he grabs my hood, pulling me to my feet. I hear his heavy breathing as we plough through the snow, hampered by the heavy drifts but propelled to sprint by adrenaline and fear. The increasingly louder hum of the spaceship whizzes through the air, gaining on us.

“Take cover!” Rocky yells.

The spaceship cuts through the wind above my head. MJ and I turn down a street and press ourselves against the side of the building. The spaceship travels in a blur past us. When it passes, I poke my head around the corner to see the ship make an angling turn back in our direction. Everyone has taken cover and is out of sight, except for Jorin.

My heart slams in my chest as I watch him dive under a car. When the craft makes a path toward where Jorin has hidden, I do the unthinkable.

I sprint from between the buildings and run across the street, drawing attention to me.

“Sinta!” MJ yells. “What the hell are you doing?”

One shot at the car and Jorin is a goner.

Whiz, boom! The ground shakes underneath my feet as a blast hits no more than five feet from me. I take off running in the opposite direction. Whiz, boom! I skid to a halt as another blast hit a few feet to my right.

“Over here!” Rocky yells, flailing his arms in the air. “Come get me you bastards!”

“This way!” Ian yells, doing the same thing Rocky is doing.

The spaceship can’t focus on three targets, so it fires behind Rocky.

Whiz, boom!

“Come on.” MJ’s strong hands grab me again, pulling me, urging me to run.

Panic engulfs me as Rocky runs by us. “That way!” He points to a narrow passage between two buildings. “Come on!”

I stay on his heels, too afraid to turn back to look at the spaceship or to see if everyone is following us.
Whiz, boom! Five feet in front of us, the ground shakes. Chunks of the building we were running toward erupts. Rocky makes a left. The GPS tumbles from his pocket. I slow down just enough to grab it and stuff it into mine.

Whiz, boom!

So close.

The heat from the blast scotches the side of my face. From my peripheral vision I see them, five lizards running our way.

In a flash Rocky has his rifle in his hands, peeling off shots as we run.

They shoot back, one of the bolts hitting Ian in his leg. He howls in pain, falling to the ground. MJ and I stop, going back for him. MJ works on lifting him, trying to put Ian over his shoulder. While he does, I cover them, firing shot after shot at the aliens coming closer to us.

“Help us!” I yell to Rocky and Jorin, but they’ve got their own troubles. Aliens are chasing them. In a frenzy I look for Wade, he’s stuck in an alien shooting match of his own.

I turn back to the aliens that are now just a few feet away from us. I can’t let them get to us. Panic rips through me.

Keep them away.

They’ll tear us apart without even trying. I empty both high-powered pistols in their direction, trying to keep them at a distance, taking down one. I reach underneath my coat, feeling the cool metal of my throwing knives in my hands. One-by-one, in quick succession, I aim and let my knives fly, hitting my target in the face. With each throw of my weapons, I try to kill. My knives hit the lizard’s eyes and one lodges in its skull.

It goes down.

Another lizard is too close for me to throw the knife that I’m clutching in my hand. I open my hand and let it drop to the ground. It’s no use to me right now. Using both hands, I reach behind my back and retrieve my swords.

“Leave me,” Ian cries out. I glance at him and see he’s clutching his leg. His face is twisted in pain as MJ positions Ian on his shoulder.

If MJ heard Ian, he doesn’t pay attention, because he lumbers to his feet with Ian dangling over his shoulder.

“Sin, let’s go,” MJ says as he struggles to walk in the snow with the added weight.

The lizard lunges for MJ and, with a swish of air, I take off its hand. I make a quick turn to the right and bring my other sword through its body where it glides freely until it lodges in the middle. As I pull out, the lizard falls on its stomach to land in a dead heap.

Another alien heads our way.

Where did this one come from?

I steady my feet and ready my swords. “Get him out of here MJ.”

“Don’t you dare leave her,” Ian yells. Just as I turn to tell them to keep going, the lizard’s tail hit me on my legs and knocks me on my back. I fall with an “oomph”.

“Sin!” MJ screams.

The lizard looms over me, his thin lips are pulled back to reveal his pointy teeth, which drip saliva onto my stomach.

“You belong to me,” it snarls.

It leans down to me, arms outstretched.

I aim my swords and thrust them both in its gut and twist.

Its eyes widen in disbelief. Slowly the lizard begins to slip down my swords. Its blood gushes down the metal to meet my gloves. MJ lets Ian slide to rest against a bus, then uses his booted foot to kick the lizard on its side. It falls, taking my swords with it.

I struggle to my feet and, once there, I pull my swords from the lizard’s belly.

“Aw, shit,” Ian says. His eyes are on something past MJ’s and my shoulders.

I turn to follow his gaze. More aliens. I glance around wildly. Where are Rocky, Wade and Jorin? I hear the gun shots in the distance but I can’t see them.

We’re on our own.

With no bullets and no help.

“Sin,” MJ calls. He holds his hand out and I toss him one of my swords.

We can do this.

“Don’t be idiots,” Ian says, shaking his head. “If you two stay, they’ll just kill you.”

I lift a shoulder. “Bet I can take out two,” I say to MJ.

He smirks. “Good, leave the rest for me.”

“Show off.”

It was odd. Us standing here, holding samurai swords and joking. About to die.

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 A. M. Griffin is a wife who rarely cooks, mother of three, dog owner (and sometimes dog owned), a daughter, sister, aunt and friend. She’s a hard worker whose two favorite outlets are reading and writing. She enjoys reading everything from mystery novels to historical romances and of course fantasy romance. She is a believer in the unbelievable, open to all possibilities from mermaids in our oceans and seas, angels in the skies and intelligent life forms in distant galaxies.

Where you can find me:

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Back to You by Jessica Scott (excerpt, review, GIVEAWAY)

I am THRILLED that this wonderful story is in print and delighted to share it with you.

He's in for the fight of his life . . . 
Army captain Trent Davila loved his wife, Laura, and their two beautiful children. But when he almost lost his life in combat, something inside him died. He couldn't explain the emptiness he felt or bridge the growing distance between him and his family-so he deployed again. And again. And again...until his marriage reached its breaking point. Now, with everything on the line, Trent has one last chance to prove to his wife that he can be the man she needs ...if she'll have him

. . . to win back his only love.
Laura is blindsided when Trent returns home. Time and again, he chose his men over his family, and she's just beginning to put the pieces of her shattered heart back together. But when Trent faces a court martial on false charges, only Laura can save him. What begins as an act of kindness to protect his career inflames a desire she thought long buried-and a love that won't be denied. But can she trust that this time he's back to stay?


His uniform scraped the edge of her cheek. His body was a solid wall beneath her skin and for a brief moment, she simply let him hold her. His strength wrapped around her, his scent pulled her close, reminding her that somewhere inside this man was the man she’d married. The man she’d loved.

She hadn’t meant to cry in front of him. Not again. But the truth had simply slipped free of the chains she’d attempted to bind it with, breaking her resolve until it emptied out of her, tearing free and leaving her drained.

It was a long time until the tears stopped. Her eyes felt swollen.

Now, she rested against Trent and closed her eyes. She simply stopped. Stopped fighting. Stopped arguing. Stopped resisting her stubborn heart that still loved this man no matter how many times he hurt her or lashed out.

His leaving, his anger: He wasn’t in control of those things. Not like she’d convinced herself he was in those dark days when the rumors and innuendos had been breeding like a live thing in the silence between them. But there was more at work here than her husband simply walking out on her.

He’d made a huge step by talking to the counselor. And he hadn’t needed to tell her about their conversation, but he had. Laura leaned back, refusing to believe the insidious voice in her head that said he was just telling her this out of sheer selfishness.
She lifted her gaze, looking deep into his eyes. She started to shift and pull away but Trent moved first, cradling her face with his palms. Gently, his thumbs caressed her cheeks, wiping away the tears.

“I’m so tired of screwing everything up, Laura,” he whispered. “I want to fix this. Not for the trial. For us.”

“It’s not that simple.”

“Yes, it is.” His voice was urgent and harsh. “I can’t fix what I’ve done. And I damn sure don’t deserve your forgiveness.” He lowered his forehead to hers, his palms warm and solid against her skin. “But I’m asking you to help me. Help me reset my normal. Help me learn how to be a dad again. A husband.” He blinked rapidly.

She pressed her lips together, biting back fresh tears. “And what happens when you leave again?” she whispered. “What do I do then?” She sniffed quietly. “You keep breaking my heart.” Her voice cracked.

His fingers crooked around her jaw. “I want to stop.”

They were tucked away in a quiet corner of the coffee shop. The couch was blocked by a high booth. No one could see them. Laura kept her eyes locked on his. Finally he’d laid his fears, his hopes, his dreams in her lap.

She could crush him so easily. A stronger woman might have walked away, doing to him what he’d done so many times to her. But she was not that woman. She wanted to end the pain between them, not prolong it.

She’d thought divorce was the right answer. Ending the sham their marriage had become, protecting their children from more pain. The kids were her life now and she would not apologize for that. For all intents and purposes, she’d been a single parent for years and that was okay because she knew how to do that. Now fear latched on to her heart. Fear that he would leave her again. That he would once again shatter her into a thousand pieces.

But he was here. At this moment, it was all she had. Without giving herself time to think about the consequences, she leaned closer and brushed her lips gently against his.

She pulled away before he could deepen the kiss. Fear and awareness and arousal skittered through her veins, making her off balance, like a needful, sensual thing. She’d grown accustomed to the hugs of her children, their wet kisses and enthusiastic embraces.

What she craved now was something darker. The faintest brush of lips against lips had sparked something primitive inside her. Something deeper and richer. A long-forgotten need to be touched by a man. But not just any man—by this man. His hands, roughened by combat, sliding up her thighs. The coarse pads of his fingertips caressing her skin.

Memories bombarded her as she attempted to lean away and salvage the remnants of her pride.

But Trent was not operating under the get-some-space battle plan. He reached for her, his eyes rich with dark emotion. His palms scraped against her cheeks, his fingers strong as his lips claimed hers.

His breath was a gasp against her tongue and for a moment, Laura was stunned into stillness, unable to move beneath the assault on her senses. But then her body remembered his taste, her tongue remembered his touch, and a warmth awakened inside her. She opened for him, stroking his tongue with hers, her body folding into his like it was meant for him.

Her every nerve came alive. A cascade of long-denied arousal mixed with bittersweet memories of other homecomings, other farewells. It crashed into them both, driving them under a torrent of emotion.

This was the man she had married. A man who could make her body purr just thinking about him inside her. A man who knew exactly how to kiss her to drive her wild.

This was the man she’d been waiting for. She wanted nothing more than to crawl into his lap and have that urgent, passion-filled sex of first homecoming.

It was a long moment before the arousal faded and she became aware of the tender, sucking kisses he placed on her lips.

Another moment before he rested his forehead against hers.

An eternity passed before the words she’d never thought she’d ever say again slid past her lips. “I miss you,” she whispered.

And for once, he did not pull away.

About the author:
USA Today bestselling author Jessica Scott is a career army officer; mother of two daughters, She's written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View: Regarding War Blog, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn and has served as a company commander at Fort Hood, Texas. She's pursuing a PhD in Sociology in her spare time and most recently, she's been featured as one of Esquire Magazine's Americans of the Year for 2012.

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5 out of 5 stars

Back to You by Jessica Scott is the searingly emotional military romance that continues the ‘Coming Home’ series and finally explores the relationship between Trent and Laura Davila that imploded in “Because of You”, the first story in this compelling series. An impending court martial continues to loom over Trent’s head but that pales in comparison to the disaster that his marriage to Laura has become and he struggles to find a way to reach the woman he has not ceased to love, despite her demands for a divorce. Trent must find a way to deal with his discomfort with his family, his distance from everyone he cares about, his crippling guilt, and the impending destruction of all that he has held dear over the years. The question is whether any of it is reparable or have things gone beyond the point of no return?

There are some stories that just touch the heart and make one suffer right along with the characters and root for them to get through the heartache and difficulties in their lives. Jessica Scott has created a cast of characters that are vivid, not just because of the poignancy of the issues they face...the constant threat to their survival, the strain on their interpersonal relationships, the repercussions of breast cancer, amputation, survivor’s guilt, PTSD...but also because they are not perfect. 

The harrowing journey to find himself characterizes Trent’s role in this story but the strengths and weaknesses that are displayed in his interactions with others plus Laura’s own reactions detail the cost that is often extracted by war and its machinery. There are many poignant scenes in this story, that reflect the deep love shared by these two people who have become so scarred by their experiences that they have lost touch with what they had but there are glimmerings of hope as well...”The overwhelming love that he felt for her was there. Like a sleeping thing waking from a long dormancy. It was fragile. Malnourished. But there, stretching after a long slumber...”

It is cathartic to watch the healing start as Trent finally gets some help “...what he truly saw was her strength. The strength to love his children, to keep their home together. To walk away when he hadn’t been enough.” and a memorable description of something called an ‘emotional rucksack’ helps shed a little light on the sometimes impossible pressure that soldiers force upon themselves with incredibly harmful repercussions. “It means that we all have the capacity to deal with bad news. And when the first piece of bad news hits, we can stuff it down and keep going. But eventually, our bags get too heavy and there’s no more room to stuff things down anymore.”

This is a great novel which combines a fantastic love story with harrowing realism about the cost being paid constantly for participating in war and if I could give it more than 5 stars, I would. 
© Night Owl Reviews 

I received a copy of this title in return for an honest review. 



Friday, July 25, 2014

Bleeding Heart by Melissa Graves ADULT title (spotlight, excerpt, review and GIVEAWAY) GFT

I asked Melissa Graves the following question and she was gracious enough to answer:

What was the most difficult thing to overcome on your path to becoming a published author and how did you conquer it?

Melissa's answer:

I think what stops people from getting publish is simply the assumption that it's an impossible task to begin with.  Even people who have backgrounds and degrees in writing often don't know where to start, and it isn't as if you're handed a manual when you begin writing that explains what to do once you think you've got something that you want to share.  It becomes almost an assumption after a while—"of course, not me".

The question is: why not you?

I was absolutely one of those people.  I wrote and wrote and wrote, sometimes for no one but myself, sometimes for fandoms, sometimes for friends, and every time that I sat back and looked at that fifty thousand word story I would tell myself, "No one would understand this, or find it interesting" or "It's such an unpopular genre—who would care?" or "It's not profound enough" or "It's just not good enough".

Over time, though, I began to realize that maybe, just maybe, I was sabotaging my own efforts.  I knew that my stories entertained people, and that my friends and family never let up reminding me of that fact.  I began to receive comments on the stories that I wrote from people everywhere saying the same thing: "have you ever thought of being published?".

So I just kept writing.  The most important thing for me was making the decision to keep writing, no matter what the outcome; to keep creating, even when it felt ridiculous, and even when I thought that no one but myself would laugh or cry or care about my characters or stories.   I refused to allow my doubts to influence what I wrote or how often I wrote.  I wrote for myself, because it made me happy. 

Eventually, an opportunity presented itself—I took it, even though I was terrified, and I haven't regretted it since—but I never would have even been positioned to cross paths with that opportunity if I hadn't made the decision to write, and continue writing.

If you love and believe in what you have to offer, others will eventually love and believe in it, too.

Bleeding Heart
is an ADULT title

by Melissa Graves



While the public struggles to live side-by-side with vampires, medical student Brian Preston has dedicated himself to their care and study by working in a government-run clinic that monitors and feeds the resident vampire population. He has learned to expect the unexpected in his job, but his life takes a surprise turn late one night when a young, struggling vampire named Kyle stumbles into his clinic and his heart.

 As they draw closer, can Brian come to grips with loving the elusive vampire, and can Kyle find the strength to share the secret that can separate them forever?

Bleeding Heart is the story of love, blood, political intrigue and the secrets that can spell the difference between life and death.


"I know," Kyle says apologetically. "I can't help it." He swallows. "I mean, it only happens when I—when—I get excited. Sorry. Just, missed you."
"You—you can." Heat pounds in Brian's cheeks.
Kyle goes still, panting against his skin. "W-what?"
"You can, if you want," Brian repeats. His body is aching all of the sudden, for something new, for something more, for something that they haven't done yet. He can feel it, simply at the idea—it has been since they started kissing, of course, but now it's fully awake and invested in the proceedings—against the front of his jeans. "You can."
"Have you ever—"
"No," Brian answers. It's impossible to think clearly with Kyle holding him against the door, with Kyle's head bent over his neck like that. He's so hard that his jeans are starting to hurt; the angle at which he's risen against them is uncomfortable, but he can't move. "Please." The anticipation is like ants beneath his skin, crawling and crawling and crawling. "Please."
Kyle kisses the half-numbed skin just inches off of Brian's neck. His fangs are fully distended now and Brian can feel them, smooth and hard as they brush his skin.
The need to feel the pain that he knows he'll feel, to feel opened, to feel his blood run past Kyle's eager lips is sudden and new. Kyle can and will drink from his body; Brian can let him do that, this is a thing that they can do together, and it is as exciting as it is frightening.
"You can," he repeats. He feels dizzy. "I want you to. Want to take care of you, please. Do it." His hands are shaking so hard that he can't even maintain a grip on Kyle's waist, but it doesn't matter; Kyle is supporting him.
"God," Kyle breathes, shaking, his lips damp as they pass over Brian's shoulder again and again. "Ever since you—that night with the wine glass, I—god, I've dreamed of your blood so many times."
"Please," Brian hisses, arousal pounding through his body. "Do it. Do it."

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Interlude Press

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

A veteran writer of fan fiction known as MissBeizy to her online readers, Melissa Graves’ stories have thousands of followers. At age 13, she wrote her first work of fan-based fiction, and by age 16, had met her future husband in an online vampire fiction chat room. A fan of science fiction/fantasy, she has a degree in anthropology and a passion for good chocolate, amateur erotica and fan worlds that celebrate diversity. She is mother to two cats.

Follow Melissa Graves and learn more about her work at her website




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4 stars

“Bleeding Heart” by Melissa Graves is an adult m/m paranormal novella that centers around a human medical student named Brian Preston who forms an unanticipated connection with a desperate vampire he meets at the blood service center where he works.  The young male who calls himself Kyle is fleeing a horrific experience and he serendipitously ends up at a site that caters to humans who want to experience vampire feedings.  The two slowly establish a connection that deepens as they explore a relationship but it is fraught with not only the complications attendant with being two males in a human-vampire relationship but the specter of Kyle’s past which may do more than just end the  blossoming romance before it can truly form, it may end someone’s existence.

This fascinating and evocative story is both frustrating and mesmerizing for me.  I thought it was a great storyline and it was delightful to watch the two main characters explore an intimate relationship that deepens gradually but I was disconcerted by the use of the present tense to tell the story and found it to be a bit jarring.  This story establishes a great framework with a complex system that is in place to deal with the needs of vampires and I think the author did a wonderful job of creating intriguing primary and secondary characters who all have their own stories to tell.  There are multiple threads that I would love to see developed in subsequent stories since this story provides a very entertaining sensual and suspenseful read and I would love to read more about this world.

A copy of this title was provided to me for an honest review

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Taming Miss Tisdale (review) GFT

I had the pleasure of having a guest post by Jessica at this link earlier this summer.  To refresh your memories, below please find the excerpt and blurb info, giveaway link and my review.


                                Taming Miss Tisdale

Jessica Jefferson


Miss Tamsin Tisdale believes herself to be completely unsuitable for London life. After a myriad of social mishaps, and the potential ruination of her family name, she’s shipped away to her cousin’s northern estate. Only after she comes to her senses will she be welcomed home.

Marcus Winston, the Duke of Grayson, has a lackluster reputation. The last in a dying line, he’s endured a protected life—rank with privilege, encumbered by isolation. After a brief encounter with rebellion, he learns the devastating consequences of his carelessness and willingly accepts living life from inside his gilded cage.

However, a chance meeting with the brazen Miss Tisdale gives Marc the opportunity to reinvent himself into the man he’s always dreamed of being. When his deception comes to light, and ghosts from both their pasts threaten to unravel the intimacy they’ve come to cherish, will either of them set their fears aside long enough to embrace love? Or will Miss Tisdale’s stubbornness divide them?


    Jason looked bored. “Get to the important part, Grayson. Was she beautiful?”

    Again, Marc was ill-prepared to answer such a question. Taken individually, that large mouth, those plump pink lips, her long nose, red hair, and freckled skin—nothing about her was spectacular by any means. But together, all those odd pieces and parts, which seemed so ordinary at first glance, fit together to form the picture of a particularly stunning woman.

    “Yes,” he answered quite simply. No need to give Jason any more fodder for discussion by rambling on like some sort of awful poet.

    Jason grinned from ear to ear. “Well, that is quite eventful, indeed.” He swept a crumb off his jacket sleeve. “Does this original have a name?”

    Marc stopped suddenly, his coffee halfway to his lips. “Name?”

    Jason laughed. “Yes, her name. This unique creature has to have a name. Diana? Aphrodite? Venus, perhaps?” Then Jason stopped laughing as realization spread over his face like a mordant rash. “You don’t know her bloody name, do you?”

    Marc set his cup down on the table and stared at it. “She never volunteered the information and I never bothered to ask.”

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Jessica Jefferson makes her home in northern Indiana, or as she likes to think of it—almost Chicago.  She is heavily inspired by classic sweeping, historical romance novels, but aims to take those key emotional elements and inject a fresh blend of quick dialogue and comedy.  She invites you to visit her at and read more of her random romance musings.

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3.75 stars

Taming Miss Tisdale by Jessica Jefferson is a historical romance that explores the travails of countering Society’s perception of one’s role, from the perspective of each gender.  (Fern) Tamsin Tisdale has been sent away to escape the consequences of her actions but she continues to be true to herself, much to the surprise of the gentleman who introduces himself as Mr. Winston.  Tamsin finds herself strongly attracted to the man who finds the freedom to be himself when around her but they both have to find a way to share their respective truths and decide whether they are going to let those around them shape their futures.

This story is a gentle read that combines multiple tropes in an entertaining story.  The hero is tired of dealing with the strictures imposed upon him and finding his backbone.  The heroine is determined to go her own way, no matter who she has to defy, but she slowly discovers that there may be someone worth changing for although he has secrets of his own that may change everything.  There is a friend of the hero who may or not be trying to be helpful but seemed to almost steal the spotlight, hopefully he will get his own book.  I found myself a bit frustrated by some of the events as they didn’t quite seem logical but there were great episodes of banter that enlivened things.  Be forewarned that this tale features someone who is not a strong alpha male but rather a mild-mannered hero who is finding a way to cope with his handicap.  This story can stand alone yet connects to another story about a sibling who has found her own path to follow and undoubtedly will be augmented by more entertaining tales about the Tisdale siblings. 

A copy of this title was provided to me for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Favorite Obsession by Nancy Corrigan ADULT title (excerpt tour, review and GIVEAWAY) GFT



Favorite Obsession
is an ADULT title by Nancy Corrigan


Book 3, Royal Pride

Centuries after what should have been a blessing from a goddess, Mira has gone from the chosen daughter to a woman shamed. She’s found a tentative peace among her family and the females they’ve chosen to mate. And despite the potentially fatal consequences, Mira has found the one thing she never thought she’d have—love. Josh is the only male she’s ever wanted, desired and burned for, and he’s the only man she can never hope to keep.

One glance into Mira’s exotic feline eyes and Josh is lost. She’s everything he never knew he wanted and loving her becomes a passion he can’t deny. The obstacles keeping them apart seem insurmountable, but Josh knows he’s the man Mira needs. With every passionate encounter, every stolen touch, his certainty that he and Mira belong together grows. He’ll defy every shifter decree and fight to his dying breath to convince those around them of the truth—Mira belongs to him, mind, body and soul.

A Romantica® Paranormal erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

Forbidden love…Undeniable passion.



Mira grasped his wrist, stopping him from reaching for the next movie. “Ignoring this won’t make it go away.”

He yanked his hand free. “What do you want me to do? I’ve made it clear that I want you. You said no and I’m in no mood to fight tonight.”

Silence stretched while he continued to unpack. He felt her eyes on his back no matter where he moved in the room.

Finally, she sighed. “No matter who I end up mating, I don’t want to lose you.”

He slammed a disc down. “You can’t lose what you don’t have, Mira. And this,” he brushed his fingertips over his scarred cheek which carried her scent, “doesn’t give you any rights to me.”

He turned away, unable to bear the hurt expression on her face, and reached for another movie. Not looking at her didn’t stop the memory of her laving the wound her brother had caused when he’d swiped a clawed hand across Josh’s face.

Josh had almost kissed her that night, probably would’ve made love to her too if she would’ve let him. Kade had stopped them in a frenzied panic as if he’d known they were about to get naked. That was when all the ridiculous rules had started.

“It makes you my beloved human.”

He whirled around. “No, it makes me Devin’s fucking beloved human. Or did you forget that rule?”

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 Nancy Corrigan believes in unending love and epic tales with a paranormal flare. She enjoys transcending the boundaries of reality to take her readers on an erotic, emotional and romantic journey.

She resides in Pennsylvania with her husband and three children. When she’s not weaving sizzling fantasies, she works as a chemist in a pharmaceutical lab.

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My review:

4.5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Obsession by Nancy Corrigan is Book 3 of the ‘Royal Pride’ series.  Josh Conway is a human with ties to the shifter society, not least of which is his guardianship of his niece Megan and the complications with Megan’s twin, Molly.  Josh is frustrated by his exclusion from the shifter-human matings that are allowed for male royal shifters since he and royal Mira have formed a connection, with the approval of her cats, yet the Council is ordering her to take a mate.  There are complications due to the conflict between the single-shifters and the royals with their multiple animals, the need for secrecy to keep the existence of shifters from becoming common knowledge, ex-lovers, and the past traumas each has experienced.  It will take divine intervention for Josh to find a way to survive his courtship of the complex yet alluring Mira and convince the shifter world to accept their bonding.

This erotic paranormal tale provides an intriguing twist on shifter tales with its focus on a schism within shifter society itself.  The heartrending backgrounds of some of the characters make this a poignant tale that is counterbalanced by the intense relationship that forms between Mira and Josh.  Those who are squeamish should be forewarned that there is a fair amount of violence that forms the natures of the hero and heroine but it is still a compelling story.  The author does a nice job of establishing enough background that this story can be read as a stand-alone but the connections are so intriguing that I definitely would like to read the stories that lead up to this one and am anxious to read subsequent tales that explore further the remarkable events that take place in this story, particularly if the twins are spotlighted.  This is a nice exploration of the star-crossed lovers theme with a paranormal flavor and an intense and enjoyable story.

A copy of this story was provided to me for an honest review
Review submitted to Night Owl Reviews