New release – finally!

Hi everyone,

It’s been a month of chaos and reorganization, major decisions and lots of changes. For the first time in a long time I was forced to delay the release of my latest book – if you know me, you know I avoid this at all costs. This time it is unavoidable. The move and renovations and finding some bigger issues in the story meant pushing the release date back in order to devote the necessary time to make the story shine.

Now it’s being released next week! :) It’s nice to know I made the second deadline. lol. So what book is this? This is Chilled by Death, book 3 of the By Death series.

Chilled By Death R0.3

This is book 3 in the By Death series. In this book we revisit a character from Haunted by Death – Stacey Carter.

After losing several friends in an accident, Stacey became a loner. She knows she needs to grow past it but, a career working with the dead is not a warm and cozy conversation starter. When her brother coaxes her back to the same mountain for a holiday to help her heal, she realizes he’s right – it’s time.

Royce, a long time friend and someone who wants to be so much more, can’t believe Stacey is back and fighting her depression. He blew their last time together and this might be his second chance with her. His only chance to get back with her. Now if only he could figure out how to not blow it…

But once out in the winter wonderland, the holiday atmosphere quickly shifts when they find a dead man. Then one of their own goes missing…

It will take everything Stacy and Royce have to make it through this nightmare…. They can’t trust anyone – maybe not even each other…

Available for preorder now! Amazon, itunes, Google Play.

Release day is June 29th when it will be available everywhere! I for one, am very glad to be back to normal release days and a steady working schedule!

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Review: Never Too Late by Robyn Carr

never too lateTitle: Never Too Late
Author: Robyn Carr
Release Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: MIRA Books
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: ARC received from Publisher

Book Summary:

A near-fatal car accident might be one of the best things that ever happened to Clare Wilson. During her recuperation, Clare gathers the resolve to divorce her charming but philandering husband, a man she’d married after the tragic death of her original fiance. As Clare heals both physically and emotionally, she gets close to Jankowski, a studly cop 10 years her junior who witnessed Clare’s crash. But Sam is too intense too soon, and Clare has been burdened with guilt over the man who has held the key to her heart for 20 years. As Clare sorts out her life, her sisters gather around her, trying to protect her from any more harm. This is as much a novel about the strong bond among sisters as it is a love story.

My Thoughts:

‘Never Too Late’ is more than a love story. (Although it definitely delivers in that department!) It’s also about the love between families, especially sisters, and the resilient spirit and strength of women.

Right away, Clare is involved in a serious car crash, and this changes the way she thinks about her life and how she wants to handle her current situation. I loved seeing her resolve to change her life and not stay in an unfaithful marriage. To me, her ‘restart’ was so inspiring to see evolve. I loved how she handled herself in her divorce and started focusing on herself and her fresh start. The dynamic between her and the men in her life was so entertaining to see unfold! Without risking spoilers, Clare’s love life gets pretty interesting and SUPER romantic.

Clare’s two sisters, Sarah and Maggie, face challenges of their own in ‘Never Too Late’. I loved that the sisters were pretty different from each other, but all three were dealing with some pretty major life events. They are all strong in their own ways, but each display different vulnerabilities. Carr interwove the sisters lives together seamlessly and provided a very multi-dimensional story. I don’t have sisters but felt that I could really relate to these women and their stories.

Although the three sisters are at the heart of this story, Carr did not skimp on the romance! Each sister is at a different spot in their lives. Clare is going through a divorce, Maggie has been married for many years, and Sarah is single. ‘Never too Late’ touched on new love, old love and rekindling passion. All I can say was that I wasn’t disappointed! The scenes between love interests were sweet, sexy and everything in between. The romantic interests are all pretty different and swoon-worthy in their own rights.

‘Never Too Late’ is full of hope and a lesson in the power of new beginnings. It’s a great balance of romantic, fun and uplifting!

Reviewed by: Chelsea Cloud

Four stars

Posted in Contemporary Romance, Reviews, Women's Fiction | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Review: Chasing Danger by Katie Reus

chasingdanger_01Title: Chasing Danger (Deadly Ops, #2.5)

Author: Katie Reus

Publisher: NAL/Signet Eclipse

Release Date: April 21, 2015

Rating: 3.5 stars

Source: ARC received from Publisher via NetGalley

Book Summary:

Chief Nursing Officer Hannah Young is accustomed to working under pressure, but even she’s still reeling in the aftermath of a horrific terrorist attack on Miami. And things only get worse after a knife wielding maniac tries to kill her. Desperate for help, Hannah must turn to the one man she never thought she’d see again.

After spending an intensely passionate night with Hannah, NSA Agent and former Delta Force operative Dax Costas fell off the face of the earth. He got called away for a two week mission with no way to contact her. Now he can’t get the smart, sexy woman out of his head. She might be angry at him, but when it appears she has a stalker, Dax moves her under his roof and into his protection.

Unfortunately, whoever wants Hannah dead will stop at nothing. And if Dax can’t identify the perpetrator in time, it could be too late to discover if there is more between him and Hannah than just heated passion…

My Thoughts:

Chasing Danger by Katie Reus is a quick read full of smoking hot intimacy and suspense. While I adore the Deadly Ops series, I was a little disappointed with this one – mainly because it was so short. I knew it was a novella going into it, but that didn’t keep me from wanting more of Dax and Hannah’s story.

Hannah is the target of a killer all because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Good thing she has an ex-Delta Force operative who also has his sights on her for a different reason. Dax happens to be in the right place at the right time when Hannah needs him most. I actually enjoyed the suspense of the story more than the passion and relationship side of things in Chasing Danger. Usually its the other way around for me, but this one had me on edge and I didn’t want to put it down until the villain was caught.

Despite what I said above about enjoying the suspense and story aspect of the story most, I enjoyed the unfolding of Dax and Hannah’s relationship. I like that they already had a history since there was not a lot of time to build up each character as one would have in a full length novel. Dax and Hannah have great chemistry and you can see that in the passionate intimate scenes in the book.

Overall, this is a good read. As mentioned before, I wish it were longer, but if you realize that going in and know it is going to be quick, you will enjoy it. I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in the series and see if Dax and Hannah make an appearance later!

Reviewed by: Amy R.

I really liked this book.

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Friday Finds

Welcome to Friday Finds! We would love your input for discounted books, free books, book recommendations or new releases and book contests (where books are the prize). Feel free to submit through our Friday Finds Submission Form. The cut-off is Wednesday for that Friday’s post, and please make sure that the offers you are submitting will be running that Friday. Please check the deals mentioned in this post before buying, as some may have expired. Thanks!


Dark Horse

Book title: Dark Horse

Book author: Michelle Diener

Book blurb: Some secrets carry the weight of the world.

Rose McKenzie may be far from Earth with no way back, but she’s made a powerful ally–a fellow prisoner with whom she’s formed a strong bond. Sazo’s an artificial intelligence. He’s saved her from captivity and torture, but he’s also put her in the middle of a conflict, leaving Rose with her loyalties divided.

Captain Dav Jallan doesn’t know why he and his crew have stumbled across an almost legendary Class 5 battleship, but he’s not going to complain. The only problem is, all its crew are dead, all except for one strange, new alien being.

She calls herself Rose. She seems small and harmless, but less and less about her story is adding up, and Dav has a bad feeling his crew, and maybe even the four planets, are in jeopardy. The Class 5’s owners, the Tecran, look set to start a war to get it back and Dav suspects Rose isn’t the only alien being who survived what happened on the Class 5. And whatever else is out there is playing its own games.

In this race for the truth, he’s going to have to go against his leaders and trust the dark horse.

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | KOBO

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Book title:  Singer of Death

Book author:  Shona Husk

Book blurb: currently 99c to celebrate the release

An acid attack left Bronwyn scarred, but when she sings she is beautiful again. Her voice is hypnotic and powerful. For those moments she has control, no one can hurt her and no one is immune. Or so she thought.

Jonah Sheppard is a thief on the run. When he meets Bronwyn his life begins to make sense. He isn’t human. He is a changeling like her. Their fairy blood has given them magic and he thinks they should use it. It’s a game she wants to play.

Bronwyn knows he only wants her for her voice, but she doesn’t care. And he knows that she could do so much better than a career criminal. A fragile trust grows but when they draw the attention of human and fairy authorities everything they know is torn away.

Amazon | BN | Kobo | iBooks



Book title:  The Cowboy’s E-Mail Order Bride

Book author:  Cora Seton

Book blurb: Ethan Cruz should be mending fences on his Montana ranch, but instead he’s driving to the Chance Creek, Montana, airport – to pick up the bride he didn’t know he had. This latest salvo in his ongoing practical joke battle with his best friend, Rob Matheson, has gone too far, and Ethan plans to send his “bride” right back home, then get busy plotting his revenge. One look at Autumn Leeds changes his mind, however. Perhaps he needs a bride, after all. A breathtakingly beautiful city bride.

Autumn Leeds needs a story – fast – or she’s going to lose her lucrative contract with CityPretty Magazine, so when she sees the crazy video plea for a modern mail-order bride for a cowboy, it sounds like the story of the century. Making a video of her own, she casts herself as the perfect mail-order bride for a rancher, but when she finally reaches Montana, she’s surprised to find Ethan’s the perfect cowboy husband-to-be. Against her better judgment, her plan to keep her handsome groom at arm’s length disintegrates into a night of passion spent in his arms.

Ethan knows he can’t keep playing this game – he has to come clean with Autumn and tell her the truth; about the practical joke and about the state of his ranch. He’s about to lose it all because of the debts his mother racked up before his parents’ deaths. Now his sister, Claire, wants to sell the ranch and collect what little money they can. He’ll be out of a home and a job, and in no shape to support the bride he desperately wants to marry, after all.

Autumn’s in bigger trouble than ever. Not only has she fallen in love with the subject of her expose – she might be carrying his child. If she doesn’t write this article and secure her contract for another year, she’ll lose everything – her career, her apartment, and more importantly, her family’s approval. The only alternative is to stay and marry Ethan. But how can she trust a man she’s just met when she knows too well that men always let you down?



Book title: Dangerously Inked

Book author: Eden Bradley

Book blurb: When the submissive he played on New Year’s Eve turns out to be his tempting tattoo artist…Finn knows Rosie may soon have him on his knees.

Aussie Dom and ultimate ‘player’ Finn Carter is in New Orleans to spend New Year’s Eve with his friend Mick at The Bastille, the city’s infamous BDSM club. A night of play with a beautiful sub leaves him wanting more…more than he’s ever imagined with any other woman. When the tattoo artist he has an appointment with turns out to be her more than his flesh may be marked forever.

Roisin ‘Rosie’ Gallagher’s past and working as a tattoo artist has taught her to be tough. Even in her scenes as a submissive she’s strong, always fighting to give herself over. Tattooing Finn may give her a thrill at being the one in command now, but as they explore the kink dynamic in private the control ceases to matter, and all that’s left is pure pleasure…and the possibility of something that could last as long as the ink on his skin.


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Book title:  Riding for Love

Book author:  Tina Susedik

Book blurb: Eve Dayton, owner of a riding ranch, rose above her childhood past and overcame the emotional damage her boyfriend caused when he married another woman. When someone starts sabotaging her ranch, Eve is desperate to find the culprit before she loses everything. Is it a coincidence or is the return of Denton Johansen tied into the mystery?

Divorced Denton Johanson returns to his hometown to help convict the embezzling controller of the family business. When he runs into Eve, he realizes his feelings for her are still strong to try and win her back. His fear of horses won’t get in the way of his goal and decides the only way to be near Eve is to take riding lessons from her. Can he convince her that his love is real and he is no t behind the mystery surrounding the ranch?




Book title: Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Book author: Laini Taylor

Book blurb: Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE by Laini Taylor​ is on sale for $2.99: Amazon

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Ode to Crab Sauce and 6 Must Haves for Summer! By Guest Blogger Lisa Watson

Summer Hearts final cover

When I decided to write my novella, A Summer of Stars for the Summer Hearts Compilation, the first thing I knew I wanted in the story was Maryland blue crabs. While most writers would work on their hero and heroine first, I was figuring out ways to incorporate my love of seafood into my story. Since our common theme for the compilation was summer, and or the beach, I decided that I’d set my story in the fictional small town of Shady Glen, Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay.  It brought back lots of great memories for me since my paternal grandparents had a beach house in Shadyside, Maryland. I had very fond memories of visiting there during summers. I learned how to crab, fish, and get attacked by mosquitoes like a pro. There was even a guy there that I had a crush on one summer. Granted, that went nowhere, but it was fun just the same.

So back to crabs…I believe my dad put my first crab in my hand at three. Of course, he had to help me navigate the intricacies of eating one properly, avoiding the “Devil’s fingers” which were the lungs, and never, ever eating the yellow glop called mustard. Trust me, it’s not mustard! I also recall with great fondness my Aunt Adele’s crab dipping sauce she’d make for our steamed crabs. In my story, my hero, Zane Davidson, invites heroine, McKinley Graham to his house for dinner. I knew that I wanted to pay homage to my Aunt’s awesome sauce by having him make it, and a special meal for McKinley because nothing says, “I really like you” like a crab feast!

While I’m not a huge fan of sitting stationary with the sun beaming down on me, I am big on hanging out with family and friends…along with my 7 summer must haves. One you’re probably already guessed:

  • Crabs
  • Cook outs
  • Watersports
  • Fruity frozen concoctions
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock 55SPF
  • Deep Woods Off Dry

Yes, I’m big on dry. These are things I can’t do without during the summer months. I live in North Carolina now, so I’m not able to have blue crabs as often as I’d like, but when I get back to Maryland…which is pretty often…they’re on my To-Get list! That being said, I thought I’d share Aunt Adele’s Crab Dipping Sauce recipe with you.









1/2 cup mayonnaise (Aunt Adele says don’t use Salad Dressing)






1/3 cup Mustard

Old Bay





Season to taste. Old Bay seasoning is salty so use a little at a time. You want to ensure the sauce takes like crab, but you don’t want it so salty that you go running for ice water.






1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce



Add each item to a small bowl. Stir with a whisk until the mixture gets nice and creamy and looks like custard.  This recipe feeds about 4-5 people.  Make it in small batches, because you want to use it when it’s fresh, and not have leftovers.


Be Inspired…

Summer Hearts final cover











About the Author-

Lisa_Watson 2015 (1)

A native of Washington D.C., Lisa Watson writes multicultural novels with engaging storylines, strong, fun characters with universal appeal.  Lisa’s Match Broker series, introduced readers to Love Contract, and matchmaking guru, Norma Jean Anderson, aka The Love Broker. Book two in the series, Her Heart’s Desire, was a #1 on Amazon’s Bestseller list, and was listed as one of 2014’s Top 25 Books of the Summer, and Top 50 Best Reads. Book three, Love by Design was #2 on the Amazon Bestseller list.

Her latest story is a Sweet Romance. A Summer of Stars, is one of the novellas in the Summer Hearts Compilation. This exciting new collection featuring five additional authors, and their sweet, beach-themed romances, will be released May 2015.

Lisa works at a technology consulting firm, is the co-publicist for RT BookReview Magazine’s annual RT Booklovers Conventions, and host for Reader’s Entertainment Radio show.

Married for nineteen years, with two teenagers, and a Maltipoo, Brinkley, Lisa lives outside Raleigh, NC and is avidly working on a Sweet Romance, and her next series.

Connect with Lisa on Social Media:

A native of Washington D.C., Lisa Watson writes multicultural contemporary romance novels.  Having her debut novel nominated for Best Contemporary Fiction, sparked Lisa to continue creating engaging storylines, strong characters with universal appeal, and a keen sense of humor. They are drawn together by love, respect, and a strong family ties.

Lisa loves traveling, so weaving beautiful destinations into the pages of her novels as lush backdrops, or the heritage of her characters is not uncommon.

Lisa’s latest novella, A Summer of Stars, is featured in the summer compilation, Summer Hearts: 6 Summer Tales of Sweet Romance. It introduces readers to McKinley Graham, and Zane Davidson, both hardworking people that escape to a small, waterfront community to search for balance in their lives. Neither was looking for love, but it certainly found them.

Her three novels for the Harlequin’s Kimani line, The Match Broker series. Book one, Love Contract, a #2 Amazon Bestseller, introduced readers to matchmaking guru, Norma Jean Anderson, aka The Love Broker.  Book two in the series, Her Heart’s Desire, and book three, Love by Design, hit #1 and #2 on the Amazon Bestseller list respectively.

Lisa works at a technology consulting firm, is the co-publicist for RT BookReview Magazine’s annual RT Booklovers Conventions, and the host for Reader’s Entertainment Radio show.

Married for eighteen years, with two teenagers, and a Maltipoo, Brinkley, Lisa lives outside Raleigh, NC and is avidly working on her next series.

Connect with Lisa on Facebook (NCLisaWatson), Twitter (@LisaYWatson), Goodreads, Pinterest, and here.


Posted in Sheila's Posts | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Muse

When I get a good idea from the Muse I like to say it out loud. It feels like it becomes real when it has been spoken. Spiritual texts back me up on this. Something comes into existence by being spoken. In the beginning there was the word, and it was good. Or as the Babylonian creation myth said (even as I am writing this I am thinking – is this over the top? What the heck, we are writers! ):

When on high the heaven had not been named,

Firm ground below had not been called by name,

When primordial Apsu, their begetter,

And Mummu-Tiamat, she who bore them all,

Their waters mingled as a single body,

No reed hut had sprung forth, no marshland had appeared,

None of the gods had been brought into being,

And none bore a name, and no destinies determined–

20120208-Queen_of_the_Night_(Babylon)The thing is, I also find that if I talk about the idea in detail, I feel like I lose the energy to get it on paper. When the idea comes to me, mystically, there is a certain internal discomfort until it has been made visible. Captured and preserved. This is writer’s gold. It drives me to sit in front of the computer or grab a pad of paper and get it down. Anything to take it out of my head and make it visible because it feels very valuable and I fear loosing it in my memory.


What I have learned is that saying it out loud in detail feels better but I think it is a false relief. It is like I imagine it is scribed in the brain of the listener for future reference, or they will carry the ball for me until I need it. In reality they probably have less drive to remember it than I do.  I think it is a disrespect for the muse, and maybe laziness.

It was my Muse, only I can do it justice. I think the Muse chose me because the idea is best filtered through my senses to become visible. Someone else will do it differently. Ultimately, saying your idea outloud is a false sense of comfort and maybe a bout of insecurity. To write you have to believe that you are the best person to share the story, that the way you interpret the world is interesting and meaningful.

So, here is how I have figured out my relationship to the Muse. She gives me a gift and I am meant to receive it and do my best to give it my authentic expression. She chose me and who am I to question her judgement. I need to give the idea a name so it will come into existence, and I can share that name with friends. To me friends are people who want me to be all I can be and will check in to make sure I am not neglecting myself. And then I have to bottle that energy and let the discomfort drive me to get the idea on the page.

I’d be curious to know what other people’s relationship is with their writing muse. Do you have a ritual?



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Please Work for Free – And Other Crazy Things People Ask of Authors

I realize this applies to other types of artists and freelancers, so apply this to yourself if it fits.

But, first, let’s talk about  YOUR job.  If you are employed, paid in cash or otherwise, you have an idea in your head of what you and that work is worth.  Would you do this work for free?  If you love your job, why wouldn’t you work for free? I mean, it gets you respect and name recognition, right?  It makes you feel good to do it and be admired for it.

I work at Amazon three months out of the year and I am fortunate enough to love the job.  But, inevitably when I come home and my husband asks me, “How was work?” my standard reply is “They still have to pay me to do it.”  It’s kind of an inside joke for me though.  Because most of the time I work as an artist either writing or doing video and marketing.  And often I’m asked to work for $2.00 or less an hour.  Would YOU work for $2.00 an hour?  No, I thought not.  But when people ask me to work for less it does not mean I do less work.  I just get paid less for my time.  Occasionally I will get a client who wants to pay for a single-wide, but get the Taj Mahal.   And believe me when I say, it is that client who will be the most demanding and least appreciative.  Luckily, I am at a point in my career that I can turn those projects down.


I also feel a bit unappreciated as an author at times.  I spend hours, days, weeks, months writing a novel.  Then, I spend weeks, maybe months, editing the novel so people can enjoy it.   I release my work, knowing it will be judged.  Then, I get told by “marketing gurus” posting blogs and articles, that I really need to make the first book free.  And there’s some wisdom to what they say I guess, under certain circumstances.  But, honestly, would they work for free for a few months to prove themselves? Probably not.

I get it.  Some people write at the speed of light, edit at the speed of not-really-editing-it, and try to make money through volume.  Readers get those cheaper or free books and become jaded because the editing is terrible (and sometimes the writing itself) and they don’t want to give an unknown author a chance.  So readers want to try something for free first.

Part of the issue is a question: Have authors caused mistrust with readers?

Do we owe readers free books because other authors didn’t take care in the writing and editing of a book before putting it up for sale?

Though I understand the plight of the reader, of which I am one, I don’t think we owe free books to anyone.  But, I will say that we, as authors, need to be more honest with our contemporaries who ask our opinion of their work and we would rather show support by giving kind feedback than by telling them they need to edit their work or re-write a thread or chapter.  We are so worried about being kind that we compromise being honest.  Give constructive feedback.  Suggest resources so the person can better their craft.


Is there ever a time to give away a free book?

Yes.  But, know what you are going to get out of it.  For example,  I co-wrote a marketing book with Barbara Vey and we both agreed the book would do three things:

  1. Reflect our beliefs and ideas of best practices
  2. Help authors to be successful and to not make common mistakes we both saw happen regularly
  3. Inspire people to ask us to be speakers on those topics we wrote about.


We weren’t looking to make a lot of money from the book.  We wanted people to know what we believed in, what we support and ask us to lecture or do workshops.  So, the book was like a business card on steroids.  If people liked the book and found it useful, they might be inspired to have us as speakers.  So, we made the book free in order to facilitate our ultimate goal.

If you don’t have a lot of marketing dollars you might use your first book as your own “calling card” for readers to give you a try.  But, you need to realize how much that marketing idea will cost you.  Calculate how much you are willing to give up in order to market yourself.  But, have a clear goal in mind before you give away your hard work.

Authors are asked to do workshops for free, speaking engagements for free, donate short stories, etc.  It’s become so ordinary to expect this of authors that people are more surprised when an author asks to be paid for his/her time.  Again, don’t do anything for free unless you have a goal that makes it all worth it, other than “I want them to like me.”   And to those who ask authors to fly and do a workshop or lecture for free, or worse, expect them to pay their own way to do that favor for you, you’re being unfair and perpetuating the devaluing of an author’s time and worth.    At the very least the author should be compensated for travel, meals and hotel.  If the event is in alignment with the author’s overall goal and he/she feels it is an investment to pay their own way and do the event, that’s fine, but the host of the event should make extra efforts to acknowledge the author and help them with their goal either by advertising that they will be there or offering some trade of service.

This is not going to be a popular opinion and I realize that.  But stop and think for a moment about the last time you felt someone did not value you.  Maybe it had to do with work.  Maybe home.  Maybe you did a favor and didn’t get thanked.  That feeling sucks.  There’s no argument you can have inside your own head that makes it okay to make someone else feel that way by asking them to do or offer something for free without compensation of any kind.  There’s always something that can be done to show appreciation.  Always.


And to authors who think they must give away their time, talent or resources on the off-chance it will net them something in the future please stop and check out this funny video.  It’s more for freelancers, but that’s pretty similar –  the point being, people will try interesting ways to make you think you should give more for less.  Don’t do anything for free.  You don’t have to charge for it, but you need to get something for your time, effort and talent.

Do you ever feel under-appreciated?   Do you feel doing something for “free” without any compensation is an investment or devalues?



Posted in Sheila's Posts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Gray Matter Matters

graymatterLGI consider myself pretty lucky. I have two jobs, fiction writing and copyediting (well, two jobs plus if you count technical writing separately), and I love both of them. Truly.

I’m frequently asked which one I like best, and I have trouble answering because… well, first off, I love writing!

There’s something that burns in me to imagine situations and people and how they would handle them and, ultimately, how two individuals can eventually fall in love. I’m driven to try to make all these ideas and thoughts make sense by writing about them. In short, I love making stuff up!

But it’s hard. Every time I sit down to write, I, like lots of writers, suffer some measure of anxiety. I want to get the words right, want to make the story sing, want people to feel what my characters feel, and that doesn’t just fall out of my brain and fingertips easily. Eric Maisel, a well-known creativity coach, said in a workshop I went to several years ago that when you’re writing, you make constant decisions. Every word you write, every character mood, every plot event…they’re all decisions the author has to make. Well, wouldn’t you know it, I’m a Libra, the sign known for the inability to make a decision.

So yeah, sitting down to write, opening the file, is anxiety provoking. But when I close the file for the day, having written a few paragraphs or pages… Yeah. That’s what I love. Having written. Some days, having written brings on a mini high, a feeling of accomplishment like none other.

And then…there’s editing. I love editing!

While writing is this terror-filled, gaping black sludge hole I jump into every day, not knowing what’s lurking there, waiting for me, whether I’ll be able to figure it out and come out victorious or whether, that day, it will get the best of me…editing is predictable. A shallow oasis of clear, refreshing water, where you can see the bottom. Comfortable for me. My safe place. There are rules in editing (though, contrary to what most people believe, grammar is not black and white and there is frequently more than one right way to do a particular thing). Guidelines. A couple of guidebooks, called the Chicago Manual of Style and Merriam-Webster. Experts at the tips of my fingers.

If I had to choose between the two? I don’t think I could. The writing speaks to my right brain, the creative side, and the editing speaks to my left brain, the analytical side. Writing is like the roller coaster ride, with extreme highs, rough lows, and the highest sense of “I freaking did it” when it’s over. Editing is more like the go-carts, even-keeled, keeping the car on the tracks, fun while you do it but less of a high afterward.

According to an online right brain/left brain test, I’m in the middle, and so between that and the Libra’s lifelong endeavor for balance…splitting my time between writing and editing is the best of both worlds.

So what about you? Are you left brain dominant or right brain dominant? (Take the super fast quiz here.) Is your job well suited for the side of your brain you favor? Or are you strangely in the middle like me and need to balance out both sides to be happy?

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Review: Love On The Slopes (Hartley, #1) by Amy Manemann

25449257About the Book:

Title: Love On The Slopes (Hartley, #1)
Author: Amy Manemann
Release Date: April 30, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC received from Author

Book Summary:

Jessa Hartley is haunted by memories of the night she threw herself at her childhood crush, Dominic DeRenzi – and he turned her away. Years later, Jessa has managed to put the past behind her and climb up the ranks as head instructor of the ski lodge she one day hopes to purchase. Only her plans take a nosedive when the smooth talking Italian shows back up in town. Even worse, he’s planning on purchasing HER lodge.

After surviving a disastrous marriage, Dominic DeRenzi returns to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, hoping to make a fresh start for him and his six year old son by purchasing the old ski lodge. Until a chance encounter with Jessa Hartley throws his well laid plans off track. The once innocent girl from his childhood has grown into the beautiful woman he always knew she would become, and he is painfully reminded of the night he over stepped his bounds and kissed her. Then broke her heart by sending her away.

Rekindling the flames of their past isn’t part of the plan, yet Dominic and Jessa soon find they’re helpless to stop the fire that burns brightly between them. He broke her heart the first time he left, but can he make her see this time around he’s here to stay?

My Thoughts:

If you are looking for a story filled with love, laughter, friendship and sweet romance, Love On The Slopes by Amy Manemann is for you. This was my first book by Amy and it will not be my last. It’s one of those feel-good, warm-and-fuzzy romances. The story was easy to read, and I found myself flying through pages. I didn’t have the emotional ups and downs that I get with some books so this is something that you will want to read when you are sick of fighting the emotional roller coaster of reality.

In Love On The Slopes, Dominic is coming back home to start over for he and his son, Dante. Dominic and Jessa grew up together but when they parted, Jessa assumed the worst and has harbored ill feelings toward Dominic ever since. Dominic has had his share of struggles in life and just wants to come back to a familiar place with happy memories. As you can imagine, the homecoming for Dominic does not go so well.

The author does a great job with Dominic and Jessa. Sometimes I felt that Dominic was too good to be true (even in a romance) but I think I learned throughout the book that he really is who you see. I related to Jessa a little more because of her emotional ups and downs, as I would have felt the same way, yet sometimes I wanted her to just stay strong and not let her insecurities drag her down.

The addition of Dante was great. I love it when kids are in a story because they add such a refreshing and honest aspect. Dante helped bring Dominic and Jessa back together so he really played an integral role in the story. I also enjoyed his nanny, Elaina, and would love it if she ended up with one of Jessa’s brothers (or someone equally fantastic).

Overall, Love On The Slopes was an enjoyable read. If you are looking for a feel-good romance that takes you to the the wintery ski slopes and keeps you warm with homemade beer, friendship, family and love, give Love On The Slopes a try!

Reviewer: Amy R.

Four stars

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Review: Shattered Duty (Deadly Ops #3) by Katie Reus

unnamed-8About the Book:

Title: Shattered Duty (Deadly Ops, #3)
Author: Katie Reus
Publisher: NAL/Signet Eclipse
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Rating: 5 stars
Source: ARC received from Publisher

Book Summary:

When his wife was murdered two years ago, Special Agent Levi Lazaro turned his back on everything he cared about. Ever since, he has thought of nothing but vengeance. Now he’s finally uncovered the identities of those who killed his wife—and he’s ready to destroy them at any cost. He won’t let anything stand in his way—not even a beautiful NSA agent on a mission of her own.

Special Agent Selene Wolfe prides herself on being the best. Her fearlessness and quick-thinking make her the perfect person to take down a deadly terrorist cell. But she needs Levi’s help, and the moment he shows up, Selene knows her objectivity—and her heart—are in trouble.

As the two strike an uneasy alliance, Levi finds himself tormented by his desire for Selene—a feeling he thought long dead. But when their mission takes an unexpected turn, he finds himself faced with an impossible choice: either put aside his need for revenge, or save the woman who’s reawakened his soul…

My thoughts:

Extreme book hangover. Shattered Duty by Katie Reus was absolutely fantastic. I have read a lot of books by Reus so that should tell you that I love her writing, but what I loved so much about Shattered Duty were the characters. Levi rocked and Selene kicked some serious butt. The two of them together were phenomenal.

In Shattered Duty, Levi and Selene work together with the same goal in mind yet they don’t always see eye to eye on how things should happen, nor do they completely trust one another. If you have read the other books and know when Lieutenant General of the NSA, Wesley Burkhart, is involved in something, he usually gets his way. Selene is loyal to both Levi and Wesley in very different ways. Something you don’t completely understand until the end of the book with the cool twist that is thrown in there. I adored the way Wesley watched over Selene. She is like a daughter to him and sometimes he breaks the tough guy mode and thinks like a father. It is very heartwarming.

Levi is trying very hard to avenge the murder of his pregnant wife, Meghan. He doesn’t know how all the pieces fit together yet, but he has a pretty good idea of who at least issued her murder and he is not going to give up until he is able to take that person out. Selene needs the terrorist for another reason and they work together as much as they can.

I really enjoy how the author allows Meghan’s name to come up a lot. It really brings some reality and emotion to the story where she is concerned. It’s like we get to know Meghan even though she is not alive in this book. There is a lot of respect and love for her from both Levi and Selene and that makes their relationship easier to accept. It allows Levi to continue with his quest while having new feelings for Selene, even if he does feel guilty about those feelings at times.

The love story between Levi and Selene was quite a treat to watch. Both of them are strong characters and had to decide between duty and their heart several times. I will admit I worried at different times about each of them and what they were doing to one another, but it worked out in the end. The chemistry between the two of them was very palpable. The intimate scenes really fit the characters and the story, which is important to me. They are not forced or thrown in for heat. They play into the story and move it along. One of the reasons I love this series – everything just flows very well from beginning to end.

It’s always nice to see characters from previous books and in Shattered Duty, we got a quick glimpse of Jack. I was hoping we would see more of him in the final scene but understood why we didn’t. I found Agent Ortiz to be very intriguing. He played quite a role in this story, so I wonder if he will be next in line for receiving his own story. He is calm, cool, and collected, which to me means something might be brewing under that work persona. I enjoyed the final action scene. It was different than anticipated, but played out nicely and probably more realistically than anything. It also brought about a very surprise ending that was the icing on this already fabulous story. If you like romantic suspense with engaging characters, explosive action and passionate love scenes, give the Deadly Ops series a try. You can read Shattered Duty as a standalone but it is also great as part of the series.

Reviewed by: Amy R.

Five stars

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