Friday, September 28, 2018

Based on Principal by Marie Johnston (VBT, guest post, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY) GFT ADULT Title

I'm delighted to share with you a guest post by author Marie Johnston, who answers my question...

ELF: Which author(s) has/have been the most influential to you and how or why?

MJ:  This is going to sound like a sales pitch for JR Ward, but she’s my favorite author. Reading her work intimidated me away from writing, but husband kept insisting she had to start somewhere, too. That got me considering…maybe someday I’d write a book.

So, I started paying attention to what I liked about her books. The characters? Yes. The natural humor she infuses? Absolutely. That she made big words easy reading? I had to look a few up. She weaves emotion in from start to finish. Her writing immediately sucks me in until I’m reading a scene about a character choosing which ice cream to eat and I’m riveted. How in the world can I do that?

A lot of practice, and my editor still highlights sections asking why I’ve added such detail that I don’t bring up later. Writing’s a work in progress, literally.

When I first started writing and creating my brand, I gave blogging a try. And this is a little over the top, but I wrote out 20 things I learned about writing from JR Ward. I did this for a couple of authors, back before I knew what character arcs were, black moments, and subplots. I’d love to go back and identify the techniques I’d noticed, but couldn’t identify. But back to the JR Ward blog: I separated it into four different posts and gathered the courage to tag her on Twitter each time I post a set.

Y’all…she liked my tweet. Each time. I was even more ecstatic because one of my points was that she does her own social media. When she posts and tweets, it’s her. She liked my tweet. I didn’t care if she read the post. I would’ve died inside if I knew.

But she did. Because one of the last points I made was my observation of her social media presence. And she tweeted me, telling me that it was always her on her accounts, and that we’re equals in writing, this biz is hard, and she wished me luck.

I was sitting in the waiting room at my kid’s speech therapy, having a major fangirl moment. Squeeeee!!! She even sent a pic of her beloved dog.

I’ve never met her and I don’t know that I ever will, but she’s had a huge impact on my ambition and optimism, which in turn affects my longevity in this business. Whenever the words are a struggle and I need to fill the creative well, I read one of her books. When I’m editing, I can even tell when I read her work. The words come alive and I’m much less restricted in my scenes. This is when I believe the advice I often see others give: To be a good writer, read a lot. 



by Marie Johnston
 ADULT title

GENRE:   Contemporary Romance



By day, Natalia is the strict principal of a private school with a staid, troubled legacy. By night, she’s a lithe, agile assassin with a penchant for latex. Or at least her cosplay character is. The two identities don’t mingle until she meets a handsome comic book shop owner at the local comic con. Now there’s a guy she’d be willing to peel her mask off for.

Too bad he’s the father of one of her students.

Single father Chris has no time to date, thanks to his business, his daughter, and his ex’s meddling family. But how can he resist a comic lover in a business skirt? She’s his perfect woman. Or she would be, if she didn’t keep the professional and play parts of her life so separate. And he swore he’d never date a woman ashamed of him again.

Too bad she’s obsessed with what the wrong people think of her.

Together, they could be an unstoppable duo, but when Chris’s daughter acts out at school, Natalia will be put in an impossible position: break all her school’s rules, or pack away her cape forever.



The man she had twined herself around not two days ago at the comic con had just entered her office.

Chris was Mr. Halliwell? He was dressed nearly identically to when she’d met him. There was no denying he was the same person. 

She’d made out with a student’s parent?

Mortification swept through her. The one time she lowered her guard, and she committed professional suicide. She’d come here as the ballbuster to knock the place back into shape. If those who resisted her efforts found out she had a personal relationship with a student’s father, they would double down to undermine her efforts.

He smiled, that easy grin she’d dreamt about each night since the convention, but it was filled with tension. “Hello, Ms. Shaw.”

He didn’t recognize her.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 Marie Johnston lives in the upper-Midwest with her husband, four kids, an old cat, and a young dog. After trading in her lab coat for a laptop, she’s writing down all the tales she’s been making up in her head for years. An avid reader of paranormal romance, these are the stories hanging out and waiting to be told, between the demands of work, home, and the endless chauffeuring that comes with children.

Author web links:



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The tour dates can be found here

Love You So Special by Tara Lain (Spotlight, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY)

Can a man’s secret yearnings be revealed in a tank full of fish?

(Love You So Series, bk 3)
by Tara Lain


Artie Haynes knows he’s nothing special, with just-your-regular-brown hair, a solid plumber’s job, not much education, and a family that can barely get off the couch. But Artie has quirks—like his love of tropical fish, a landlord who’s a professor of existentialism, a passion for the amazing piano music he hears at a concert hall while he’s fixing the bathrooms—and the fact that he’s never come out as gay and probably never will. But when he’s hired to build a guesthouse for the pianist whose music enchanted him, Artie is swept up into an unimaginable world.

Francois Desmarais may be famous, rich, and revered as one of the world’s great classical composers and pianists, but he’s soothed and challenged by the inquisitive, stalwart, protective man in his back yard. When Francois’s terrible fear of crowds turns into a dangerous plot, Artie can stay in the closet or prove just how special he is.

Available for purchase at


Francois pointed to a door farther down the hall, and Artie strode there feeling the heat of Madame’s stare between his shoulder blades. He opened the door for Francois, and they both stepped into the subdued lighting of the offstage area. The sounds of voices and feet moving around filtered through the heavy curtain that separated the stage from the audience as people moved back to their seats after the intermission. A huge black piano stood in the middle of the stage.
Artie totally got why this was scary. Giant numbers of eyes would be staring up at Francois as he tried to play, some of them admiring, some bored, maybe even some pissed-off. Francois said everyone knew he was gay. What if somebody in that mass of people hated gay men? Shit, what if they decided to make some statement?
Francois’s whole body trembled. Artie tightened his hand on that tense arm.
Shit, take a breath. Stop freaking yourself out. Remember why you’re here. “Have you ever considered asking for a white piano?”
Francois frowned. “What?”
“You know, like shiny white? We could get you a sequined suit.”
His expression went from outraged to amused. “Uh, you were thinking I should play ‘Pinball Wizard’?”
“Nah. ‘Bennie and the Jets.’”
His teeth were now showing. “I’ve got it. ‘The Bitch is Back.’”
Artie laughed. “There you go. That’s my boy. Give ’em hell.”
His smile faded, but he didn’t look scared. “I like being your boy.” He leaned forward, pecked Artie on the lips, then grinned. “That was for luck.” Chuckling, he turned and strode onto the big bare stage just as the curtains slid apart and the place burst into an ocean of yells, applause, and enthusiasm.
Francois never faced the audience or bowed. Maybe people wondered why he walked in from the back of the piano and crossed around to the keyboard, but he didn’t look awkward. He just slid onto the piano bench, looked up at Artie—and winked.
Before Artie even stopped vibrating, music poured from the piano, and Artie didn’t care if he never thought again. All he wanted to do was feel. He thrust out a hand until he felt a wall, staggered toward it, and leaned. Hold me up. The music flowed through him like a shot of bourbon with a beer chaser and a mouthful of Francois’s champagne. Wow, what would it be like to be able to create that? Francois’s brain must be full of music all the time.
The piano looped and soared, raising Artie’s heart into his throat, then dropping it to his belly. Francois’s eyes were mostly closed, but every now and then he’d open them and gaze at Artie. Then a hint of a smile would turn his lips as his eyelids drifted shut again.
No one but Francois could sound like that. He was sure of that. Artie might not be an expert, but he’d listened to a lot of other piano players on YouTube since he’d started working for Madame, and to his mind, Francois was the best.
He slowly let his breath slide out between his lips and lolled his head against the wall. Man, I’d settle for just hearing that music every day forever.
His head snapped up. Holy shit, do I really feel that way? He stared hard at Francois’s spectacular face framed by the impossible-to-control pale blond hair like a wacky halo. The guy was weird, temperamental, and about as obviously gay as anybody since Elton John. Just showing up somewhere with him could blow Artie’s whole fucking cover. But looking at that face made his cock do some kind of happy dance, just when he’d been thinking he wasn’t much of a dancer.
Maybe I’ve got to break down and tell him I’m gay.
Like he’d heard Artie’s thoughts, Francois’s eyes opened. For a moment he looked dreamy; then he cocked his head and broke out in the one full-wattage smile he’d shown the whole night.
Artie fell back a step as if he’d been hit with a laser beam, and his perfectly tailored trousers felt like his too-tight jeans.
The music built and soared. Francois’s stare barely left Artie’s face, and Artie wanted to run across the stage, slide over the piano, and kiss Francois—among other things. As Francois crashed to the end, he might have puckered his lips at Artie—or maybe Artie imagined it.
Their eyes clung as the audience went apeshit. Whereas they’d been enthusiastic when he walked in, clapping and cheering loudly, this time they practically rose to NFL proportions, cheering along with the applause.
Then the miracle happened. Francois rose from the piano, his chest expanded with what had to be a huge breath—and he turned to the audience and bowed.

Love You So Series

Bk 1

Available for purchase at
Kindle |  Audible | Kobo | iTunes | Nook | Dreamspinner Press

Bk 2

Available for purchase at at 

About the Author

Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Erotic Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance,  Best Gay Characters, and more. Readers often call her books “sweet,” even with all that hawt sex, because Tara believes in love and her books deliver on happily-ever-after. In addition to writing dozens and dozens of romance novels, 

Tara also owns an advertising and public relations firm. Her love of creating book titles comes from years of manifesting ad headlines for everything from analytical instruments to semiconductors. She does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. Together with her soulmate husband and her soulmate Dog, she recently realized a vision to live where there were a lot more trees and a lot fewer cars by moving to Ashland, Oregon. She hasn’t stopped smiling since. 

You can find Tara at Lain



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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

More pictures from HRR

These delightful macaws at Mission Inn have quite a vocabulary. I'm sure they derive great entertainment from all of us standing around trying to get them to say the various words they know, lol.

The Mission Inn Hotel is very picturesque and evidently a scavenger hunt helped many of the conference attendees learn about many of the historic details of the site

Preparing the room for the readers!

I apologize, most of the following pictures will be fuzzy because I turned off the flash to avoid blinding the authors (I figure it's pretty rude to make them sign autographs with afterimages in their eyes!).

Again, I urge you to attend if a book conference is going to be in your neck of the woods. At the very least, there is usually a signing day that is free...and not only do you get to talk to your favorite authors and meet new ones, but you can also gather lots of bookmarks and swag! The authors are delighted to interact with fans and happy to take pictures with you or sign your books.

In L.A., In D'Scribe is coming to Burbank next month (info) and Saturday, October 6, 2018 is the Reader Rave Book Signing. It's a great time to visit with your "tribe" and discover a new title or two (or ten).

Naturally, I was drawn to Mary Wine's table, not only because of her beautiful books but because she had a box of See's candy!


The irrepressible Jade Lee/Kathy Lyons


The effervescent (and prolific!) Sabrina Jeffries



Monday, September 24, 2018

The Half Breed (Secret Fires) by Bobbi Smith (VNBtM, guest post, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

I have the pleasure of sharing a guest post by author Bobbi Smith. I FINALLY  added the pictures of the beautiful buildings that she supplied, thanks for your patience   (0;'s Bobbi!

Hi Everybody! 

My blog question today is – What would be your dream place to visit and why?

I love to travel. My family went on a lot of driving vacations when I was a kid, and I fell in love with all of the U.S. From the Arizona desert to the snow-covered mountains to the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, it’s all breathtaking and endlessly fascinating to me.  

The one thing that stayed with me from my childhood, though, was something I learned in French class during my freshman year of high school. We watched a filmstrip series about a girl named Margot and her uncle, and how they toured the chateaux on the Loire River in France. Wow! What magnificent architecture! I’d grown up living in flats in the city and always loved looking at big houses on lots of land. It was fun to imagine what it would be like to live in one. When I saw these castles, I was awestruck. I certainly would love to visit them, but I wouldn’t want to have to clean them!  J 

I came close to visiting “castles” when I toured the Southern plantations in Louisiana and Mississippi. I spent the night at Nottoway Plantation on the Mississippi River while I was researching my first book, Rapture’s Rage. What a wonderful experience. I got up early and went to walk the grounds. There was a heavy mist that morning, and that’s how I came up with the title The Mist and The Dream for my book. (Only later, after I’d sold the book, did I discover that the publisher has control of the title, and they changed it to Rapture’s Rage.) If you like beautiful mansions, check out Nottoway, Madewood and Oak Alley. 

Azay le Rideau 

Oak Alley Plantation

Nottoway Plantation


Madewood Plantation

Chambord Castle in the Loire Valley 



by Bobbi Smith


GENRE: Historical Romance




In the midst of the vast, windswept Texas plains stands a ranch wrested from the wilderness with blood, sweat and tears. It is the shining legacy of Thomas McBride to his five living heirs. But along with the fertile acres and herds of cattle, each will inherit a history of scandal, lies and hidden desire that threatens to burn out of control.


Chase knows he has no legitimate claim to the Circle M. After all, his father made it painfully clear he wants nothing to do with his bastard son or the Comanche girl he once took to his bed. But Chase has his own reasons for answering Tom McBride's deathbed summons. He has a job to do as a Texas Ranger, and a woman to protect—a woman whose sweet innocence gives him new faith that love born in the darkest night can face the dawn of all his tomorrows.



When the raiding party passed out from the liquor they’d been drinking, their captive Faith made her escape on foot. Terror drove her on through the darkness. She had been running for hours when she finally saw the faint glow of a campfire in the distance

Faith moved stealthily onward.  She hoped it was a company of cavalrymen or ranch hands.

Her hopes were dashed as she surveyed the scene below.

Sitting before the low-burning campfire was a bare-chested warrior.  Faith did not recognize him as one of the raiding party, but there was no mistaking the aura of danger about him.  As she was watching, he looked up in her direction.  She remained still, barely breathing, until he looked away.  Her fear turned to fury as she slipped away.  She had to save herself.

Chase McBride knew someone was nearby.  He hadn’t survived this long by ignoring his instincts, and they were screaming a warning right now.  He was puzzled, for if someone was out to kill him, they would have taken a shot by now.  Continuing to act naturally, he stretched out on his bedroll, pretending to fall asleep.  With his gun in hand, he waited.

Faith believed the warrior hadn’t seen her.  She hoped to steal his horse before he could catch her.  

She returned to watch the campsite and was relieved to find the warrior asleep.  She felt a flicker of hope.   Slowly, cautiously, she made her way toward his horse.       

Amazon link


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

After working as a department manager for Famous-Barr, and briefly as a clerk at a bookstore, Bobbi Smith gave up on career security and began writing. She sold her first book to Zebra in 1982.

Since then, Bobbi has written over 40 books and 6 novellas. To date, there are more than five million of her novels in print. She has been awarded the prestigious Romantic Times Storyteller of the Year Award and two Career Achievement Awards. Her books have appeared on numerous bestseller lists.

When she's not working on her novels, she is frequently a guest speaker for writer's groups. Bobbi is mother of two sons and resides in St. Charles, Missouri with her husband and three dogs.
You can follow Bobbi on Facebook

Bobbi has been awarded the prestigious “Storyteller of the Year” Award from Romantic Times Magazine (New York) and has attained positions on the New York Times Best Seller List, the USA Today Best Seller List, the Walden’s Best Seller List, B. Dalton’s List, and the Wal-Mart and K-Mart Best Seller Lists.

The foreign rights to Ms. Smith’s books have been sold to China, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Russia and Sweden. Smith’s current publisher is Amazon. Bobbi has written two faith-based contemporary novels - Haven and Miracles  - using the pseudonym of Julie Marshall.

Copyright © 2018 Bobbi Smith.



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The tour dates can be found here