Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Welcome, Judith Sterling

The Sword Unsheathed (Guardians of Erin, Book Three)
By Judith Sterling

Book Blurb
Ashling Donoghue is no closer to finding her parents than she was the night they disappeared. But hope returns as her brother Kian channels the Sword of Light, revealing past-life secrets and truths long suppressed.
The more she learns, the greater she fears the darkness that drowns the Netherworld also drives her. Is Aengus her true love, or is it Lorcan? Does her future wait in shadow or the light?
One point is clear: the threads of her past-self are woven inextricably into the tapestry of her soul. An impossible choice looms before her, and all the while, evil is poised to strike.

That night found me hovering above a massive, semicircular prehistoric fort at the edge of a cliff roughly 300 feet above the swish and swoosh of the ocean. Three concentric, terraced stone walls enclosed it, and beyond the third ring, an army of jagged stone slabs stood vigil. A large, tan tent dominated the innermost enclosure.
The all-encompassing twilight was telling, as were my bare feet and blue satin nightshirt, which I’d worn to bed. I was in the Otherworld, courtesy of an astral trip. But where exactly?
I had to know.
Determined, I floated to the ground in front of the tent’s entrance. A curious sense of déjà vu washed over me, and every inch of my flesh tingled with a hidden memory.
I’ve been here before. I’m sure of it.
I entered the tent, and a plush Persian carpet cushioned my feet as I explored. Sumptuous in texture and color, the interior seemed strangely familiar. There were silks, satins, and velvets in shades of gold, burgundy, ruby red, dark blue, and emerald green. Curtains, cushions, and pillows aplenty. Spherical, perforated hanging lanterns. There was even a Moroccan tray table of polished brass decorated with an arabesque pattern; atop it sat two crystal glasses and a matching decanter filled with brown liquid, as well as a compote containing what appeared to be cocoa-dusted chocolate truffles.
“I could get used to this,” I said aloud.
“Could you?”
I jumped, then whirled around. Lorcan stood an arm’s length away. As always, he wore his black, Regency Era greatcoat, breeches, and riding boots. A question, deeper than the one he’d asked, glowed in his ice blue eyes.
I trembled.
His eyes darkened. “Are you cold?”
“No. Are you?” A heartbeat after I spoke, I cringed inwardly. What a stupid reply!
He shook his head. Glossy black hair swayed, teasing his broad shoulders. “Not particularly.” A smile tugged at his full, sensuous lips as he gestured to the table. “Chocolate? Cognac?”
I clenched my fists, steeling myself against his charms. “No, thank you, and you can wipe that smile off your face. How can I trust you after what happened Christmas Eve?”
“What do you mean?”
“You left me alone in Aoife’s castle. Where did you disappear to?”
He blinked, and for a moment, his long eyelashes stole my focus. “Ashling, you know I went to investigate the noise we heard.”
“And never came back.”
“I did come back.”
“Really?” I tilted my head to the side. “Funny that I didn’t see you. Aoife said you brought me to her, like some kind of warped Christmas present or—”
“Aoife lies.”
“I’m sure she does, but she also spoke a lot of truth. Are you still working for her?”
“How can you ask that?”
He sighed: a sound of impatience and annoyance, both of which I, too, had felt over the past few months. “As I told you before, when I met Caer—you—I left Aoife and planned to live the rest of my days in the Middleworld…here, with you. Then you disappeared on me.”
“So Christmas Eve was payback for something I did centuries ago?”
“It wasn’t. By the time I returned to the dungeon, you were gone. Then I sensed you were in danger. Of course, Aengus did too, and I arrived just in time to watch him save the day.” A shadow crossed his features.
I’d seen that look before, whenever he compared himself to Aengus. Sympathy surged within me, but I expelled it with a huff. “Why didn’t you come and tell me all this before?”
“I didn’t think you’d listen. I knew Aengus would poison your ears with lies about me. How can I compete with such a paragon?” He twisted his lips, and a hint of humor restored light to his face. “Perhaps if I wore only my long drawers.”
“Your what?”
“I believe you’d call them underwear.”
The image of a bare-chested Lorcan flashed in my mind and set my pulse racing. “No. Clothes are a good thing.”
He arched an eyebrow. “Are they? Still, my attire is outdated.”
I shrugged. “A little.”
He furrowed his brow, then it smoothened. “I’ve got it.” Before my eyes, his clothing morphed into black jeans and a black T-shirt. “Better?”
Holy hell, he was sexy! Unfortunately, his new look emphasized the toned physique I’d only imagined till then.
I swallowed hard. “I don’t care what you wear.” It was true. He could dress in Super Mario footie pajamas, and I’d still think he was hot.
“Don’t you?” He inched toward me.
I took two steps back. “I…I wanted to ask…where are we? This place seems so familiar.”
“It should.” His eyes smoldered. “We made love here.”
My stomach dropped, and I fumbled for a reply. “You and Caer, you mean. How long were you together?”
“One perfect night.”
“That’s it?”
He stepped closer. “Even one moment of bliss can feel like an eternity. Caer and I created a heaven of our own. All. Night. Long.”
Dear God. I cleared my throat. “So you live here?”
“Ah. We’re going to have a safe conversation.”
“Yup…if you want me to stay.”
“I do, and yes, I live here. This is Dun Aengus on the isle of Inishmore. Once upon a time, it was Aengus’s home, hence the name which means ‘fort of Aengus,’ but he abandoned it. I’ll admit, I felt a perverse pleasure when I claimed it as my own.”
Doubt and distrust gnawed at me, and I frowned. “Did you feel the same way when you took Caer away from him?”
“That was different.”
He reached for my hand and enfolded it with both of his. Everywhere his flesh touched mine, a subtle vibration took hold. “I wanted you more than anything else in the Otherworld, or any world. I still want you.”
“I’m with Aengus now.”
“But you were once with me.”
“I don’t even remember that.”
His gaze held mine. “Your soul remembers. It went looking for me tonight. That’s why you’re here.”

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Author Bio
Judith Sterling is an award-winning author whose love of history and passion for the paranormal infuse everything she writes. Whether penning medieval romance (The Novels of Ravenwood) or young adult paranormal fantasy (the Guardians of Erin series), her favorite themes include true love, destiny, time travel, healing, redemption, and finding the hidden magic which exists all around us. She loves to share that magic with readers and whisk them far away from their troubles, particularly to locations in the British Isles.
Her nonfiction books, written under Judith Marshall, have been translated into multiple languages. She has an MA in linguistics and a BA in history, with a minor in British Studies. Born in that sauna called Florida, she craved cooler climes, and once the travel bug bit, she lived in England, Scotland, Sweden, Wisconsin, Virginia, and on the island of Nantucket. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and their identical twin sons.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Welcome Sadira Stone

Until 2016, I was one of those readers—literary snobs who look down their noses at romance for the usual stupid reasons: too corny, too predictable, too fluffy. Then I read about how fun and lucrative writing erotica can be. I thought, what the heck? Let's try.

I have never had so much fun with a writing project! My first steamy romance, Through the Red Door, nearly wrote itself, though it damn sure didn't edit itself. Now I'm totally addicted to passionate, heartfelt stories with happy endings, both as a reader and as a writer.  

Why set the series in a bookshop? Ever since I was a wee lass, I dreamed of owning one. Add to that my fascination with historical erotic art and literature, and you’ve got the Book Nirvana series, set in an indie bookshop with an extensive erotica collection behind a locked red door. 

I love writing stories in which a couple’s powerful physical attraction leads them to consider a partner outside their usual M.O.—one who just might turn out to be their perfect match. That’s how it happened for my husband and me! 

I wanted to set my series in a college town, so I chose Eugene, home of the University of Oregon, with its lively arts scene and rich counterculture legacy from the hippie era. It’s now my favorite Oregon town to visit!  

ON SALE FOR $2.99 May 18-29!

Tagline: She’s a free spirit. He’s a one-woman man.


Rejected by her family for her bisexuality, graphic artist Margot DuPont yearns for a life with no fences, no limits, and no family ties. Between college, work at Book Nirvana, and an art competition, she barely has time for her part-time girlfriend, much less a flirtation with her competitor.

Dumped into the foster system at a young age, ceramics artist Elmer Byrne craves a big, loving family of the heart. His artist family almost fills that need, but something is missing...until Margot. But when he offers his heart, her thorny defenses shatter him.

Thrown together in an art competition that could jump-start one artist's career, but not both, their irresistible attraction forces them to reconsider the meaning of success.


                  “Tell you what,” he said. “How about if we have drinks and talk about anything but the competition?”


                  “You’re a real hard-ass, aren’t you?” He rolled his eyes. “Because I like you, Margot.”


                  He leaned so close their foreheads almost touched, a challenge simmering in his smile. “Have a drink with me and find out.”

                  If there was one thing she couldn’t resist, it was a challenge. On the other hand, he might not like her so much if he knew about Darcy. Let that be the test, then. Let him prove he wasn’t one of those possessive, controlling guys Darcy warned her about.

                  “Okay. I will.” She stepped back. “But you should know, I’m sort of seeing someone.”

                  His thick auburn brows contracted. “Sort of?”

                  “A woman.”

                  His nostrils flared on a deep inhalation, but he held her gaze. “Is it serious?”

                  “Not really.” Might as well serve up the truth, raw and ungarnished. Might as well be honest with herself too. “She lives in Berkeley. I only see her every month or two.”

                  Holding her gaze, he nodded. “Okay then. Thanks for telling me.” The tense lines of his mouth relaxed into a casual grin. “So, drinks?”

                  Well I’ll be damned.

Author Bio: 
Ever since her first kiss, Sadira’s been spinning steamy tales in her head. After leaving her teaching career in Germany, she finally tried her hand at writing one. Now she’s a happy citizen of Romancelandia, penning contemporary romance from her new home in Washington State, U.S.A. When not writing, which is seldom, she explores the Pacific Northwest with her charming husband, enjoys the local music scene, plays darts (pretty well), plays guitar (badly), and gobbles all the books. Visit Sadira at .

Sign up for Sadira’s quarterly email newsletter for freebies, news about upcoming books, and some really bad romance jokes!
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12/2/19 Interview on Next Tribe website
11/6/19 Featured author in Uncaged Book Reviews Magazine p. 64-69
Praise for Through the Red Door (Book Nirvana Book One)
"…a beautiful love story filled with wonderful characters and if you like your romance hot, hot, hot look no further. It is a story about being able to begin anew and still love the one you lost." 
            -- Linda Tonis, RWA Paranormal Romance Review Team
"The erotic scenes in this book were off the charts - even the ones that were only Clara's "dreams." Ms. Stone's debut novel is a rich mix of love, sex, and thoughtful introspection as she tries to move on with her life." – Peggy Jaeger, author of Christmas and Cannolis 
“This book is in a class by itself... What elevates this book is the excellent writing, the memorable characters, and the captivating story. of it are verrrry funny. I mean laugh-out-loud funny. There are also some very touching parts, too. Parts that'll bring tears to your eyes.”
                                                Susan Flett Swiderski, author of Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade
Praise for Runaway Love Story (Book Nirvana Book Two)
“This is such a lovely, believable story with the characters masterfully drawn, dealing with their real-world problems and doubts instead of the 'fluff' that often permeates romance. The absolute standout feature, though, is the dialogue. There is not one instance where the dialogue becomes contrived or unnatural. In fact, I suspect the author must have eavesdropped and recorded conversations!”
    BookBub review by Laney Kaye (@leehotline)

“Stone’s use of everyday situations like putting a loved one in a nursing home brings a deep humanity to this novel that is usually lacking in romance, especially one this hot! It certainly elevates the book above the usual romance. Laurel and Doug face a rough road with lots of potholes and emotional baggage as they try to find a compromise that will let their relationship blossom. I read it in one sitting.”
                                                                        —Suanne Schaefer, author of A Different Kind of Fire
“The author writes with humor and heart, giving us a country mouse / city mouse relationship, where the two aren’t as different as they might think, and Laurel needs to open her eyes to the possibilities right in front of her. The secondary characters were lots of fun to read as well - I adored the colorful great aunt, and her gaggle of young artistic friends. The author sends the readers through a rollercoaster of emotions before giving us our happy ending, but it’s well worth the journey! 5 sparkling stars for this one, and I look forward to reading more from this author!”

     Katie O’Sullivan, multi-published romance author

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Welcome to Sydney Winward

I wanted to introduce my fellow Rose, Sydney Winward, to you. Here are a few questions to get to know her better:

Where do you get your inspiration for your books?
I’m a very visual person. I can look at a photograph or a picture of a person, and an entire story will unfold in my head. Pinterest is my go-to source for inspiration when I want to come up with a new story. Unfortunately, I have to avoid Pinterest altogether while I’m writing, otherwise a hoard of ideas will stack up before I’m able to get to any of them!

What was your favorite scene to write in Root Brew Float?
I loved writing the chapter where Josephine gives in to her desire to fly again. As a witch, she takes great care to hide her magic from mortals. But when Clarence gives her a little push, she finds she can’t resist the pull of flying. But flying with a crippled man with a leg injury is not easy! Especially when she hadn’t practiced flying in a long time.

Why did you decide to make the hero a crippled man?
Oh, it has everything to do with the storyline. An ancient curse haunts Clarence Watts, but other than that, you’ll just have to read the book to find out what it is!

What was your favorite side character to write?
Does a cat count as a side character? I loved writing about Jinx, Josephine’s cat familiar. She’s mischievous and does what she wants. Although Jinx is just a cat, she’s very in tune with Jo’s emotions. She may even have to step into the meddling game when Jo is too stubborn to face fate head on!

Josephine Brevil has lived hundreds of years haunted by the horrors she experienced during the Salem Witch Trials. She takes great care to hide her powers, though serving a Root Brew Float laced with a magic potion now and again never hurt anybody. The Order sends her to Massachusetts to deal with a paranormal threat, and she meets the young and handsome widower, Clarence Watts. However, being with him comes with a choice. How can she choose between the man she loves and the magic she holds dear?

“There’s a reason we’re inside the circle. Nothing can touch us in here. Now close your eyes and listen to my voice.” She paused for a moment to take a deep breath, channeling the magic swirling within her core. “Clarence Watts, our task here is to send your deceased wife into the afterlife, beyond the door and into the next realm. If you have done as I previously instructed, you have gotten rid of many of Heidi’s earthly belongings, which is a crucial step to letting her go. Now, imagine a rope that connects you to Heidi. Cut it and sever the tie.”

“It can’t be that simple.”

“It’s not. It’s symbolic of freeing her, but the act of letting go is another story altogether.”

“I’m not sure how I’m supposed to let her go.”

“Cling onto something else you care about. It usually helps.” 

His hands tightened around hers. She cracked her eyes open, her heart racing as she stared at their conjoined hands. The word home echoed in her mind again, and when she tried to push it away, it slammed back into her stronger than before. 

Home is with the Order, she insisted.

Yet, her pounding heart didn’t believe her.

About the Author:
Sydney Winward was born with an artistic brain and a love of discovery for new talents. From drawing to sewing to music, she has loved to explore every opportunity that comes her way. At a young age, Sydney discovered her love of writing and wrote her first book at twelve years old, and since then, she hasn’t been able to stop writing. Her active imagination and artistic mind take her away to different worlds and time periods, making every new story a fantastic adventure. When she is not writing (or fawning over animals in the neighborhood) she spends time with her husband and children at home in Utah.

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Monday, May 11, 2020

Mother's Day

Mother’s Day was yesterday. It’s supposed to be the day to celebrate the relationship between mothers and their children. In the times of Covid, that means something a little different.

My in-laws are in Florida. They couldn’t travel so we talked on the phone. My husband wasn’t with his mother, my mother-in-law wasn’t with her grandchildren, but we sent gifts that were delivered in time and we talked.

My parents came for lunch. A socially distant one. They brought their own food, we provided our own, gifts were left on a table and we sat six feet apart. Our yearly photo was taken with lots of space between us. There were no hugs. But we spent time together.

My kids were home and it was wonderful. That doesn’t always happen. There were handmade cards because no one wanted to venture to the store, although I did get a cake that required store-going, but I didn’t ask.

I think this year, while very different, was also nice. What we did was intentional. We all took the time to figure out a way to make everyone’s day special, even if it couldn’t be the same as in previous years.

And hopefully next year we can go back to hugs.

Mother's Day 2018, the last time we were all together for the holiday

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Welcome Back, Peggy Jaeger

Writing a novella 

I talk. 

A lot.

really lot.

So it stands to reason when I write, I write a lot. 

The majority of my romance novels are 95,000 words, plus. You can tell just by the widths of the book spines how much I love to write words.

So having to pare down a book, get everything you need to say, said; every plot point you needed summed up, resolved; and every character arc complete and vivid, all in under 40,000 words – relatively less than half what I usually write – can be torture.

And a wonderful exercise in concise storytelling.

Writing a novella is no different from writing a full-length novel except for the number of words you use to get your story to a favorable ending.

Both have:
A three act structure (beginning, middle, end)
A hero and heroine you can and must root for
A plausible plot
An interesting setting ( the locale)
An interesting set-up (goal, motivation, conflict)
A full resolution of all plot points
Side characters ( although you can have more in a full length novel)
And, for romance, a meet/cute, conflict, then an HEA

All that in under 40,000 words.

I think to be a really good novella-ist ( is that  a word??) you have to be a really good EDITOR ( I know that one’s a word, hee hee). You have to have a brutal mindset when you kill all those filter and easy to write clutch words that you don’t need in a every single sentence in order to get your brilliant point across.

See now, in that sentence above? There were so many useless words that, although they could add to the word flavor of the story, are really NOT needed. Much better and more concise to have written: You have to be brutal and kill all filter and clutch words.

I’m not the best editor, I will admit that. I’m the type of writer who loves her words. All of them. All the time. Removing them is like hacking away little bits of my soul. 

But…once I know I’m writing a novella, I can learn to be brutal and bloodthirsty and do away with all the “stuff” that doesn’t add to the story.

My newest novella, VANILLA WITH A TWIST, part of the One Scoop or Two series from Wild Rose Press, was a joy to write. For the very first time in all my writing – big and little stories – I didn’t have to cull many of the words because I outlined the story to be as concise as possible with a narrow plotline that I kept to from beginning to end. Now, could I have made this into a 90k novel? Sure.  Easy peasy. But I settled on less than 35,000 when all was said and done, and still managed to fulfill all my story requirements. 

Disclaimer: No words were killed in the writing of this book. (Many, though, were tortured and buried while penning this blog piece!)

So, if you want to tackle a novella, remember, the old adage less is more is true for a reason. A very good one.

And if that paragraph were in a novella, I would cull the last 4 words.

Just sayin’.


Tandy Blakemore spends her days running her New England ice cream parlor, single-parenting her teenage son, and trying to keep her head above financial water. No easy feat when the shop's machinery is aging and her son is thinking about college. Tandy hasn't had a day off in a decade and wonders if she'll ever be able to live a worry-free life.

Engineer Deacon Withers is on an enforced vacation in the tiny seaside town of Beacher's Cove. Overworked, stressed, and lonely, he walks into Tandy's shop for a midday ice cream cone and gets embroiled in helping her fix a broken piece of equipment.

Can the budding friendship that follows lead to something everlasting?

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For a few moments, she regarded him with a look his mother would have called insightful. The corners of her eyes narrowed, she dipped her chin a hair, and she pulled her mouth into another appealing pout he was tempted to kiss. 
“I bet,” she said after a long, drawn-out sigh, “you were the kind of kid who took apart clocks and fans and vacuum cleaners to see how they worked.” 
“It was more washing machines and lawn mowers and anything with a motor, but yeah. I was.” 
She shook her head, her own lips forming a lopsided grin. “Your poor mother.” 
“She survived.” 
Tandy rolled her eyes and shot her hands to her hips. “So it’s working again?” She thrust her chin at the ice cream machine. 
“For now.” 
“Okay, well, I can live with for now. And you think you know the real reason it’s been acting up?” 
“I definitely do. But like I said, the water to the machine needs to be shut off to fix it.” 
“Okay. Well, we close at nine.” 
“I’ll come back a little before then. Get things ready. Is that okay with you?” 
“I guess it’ll have to be.” She bit down on the inside of her cheek as her brows pulled together. “And you’re sure you want to do this?” 
“If I weren’t, I wouldn’t offer, Tandy.” 
Why her reluctance to have him help was such a turn-on was something he considered while he waited for his ice cream. 

Author Bio and Social media links:

Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes Romantic Comedies about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them. If she can make you cry on one page and bring you out of tears rolling with laughter the next, she’s done her job as a writer!

Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, she brings all topics of daily life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she’s created the families she wanted as that lonely child.

When she’s not writing Peggy is usually painting, crafting, scrapbooking or decoupaging old steamer trunks she finds at rummage stores and garage sales.

A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, Peggy is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

As a lifelong diarist, she caught the blogging bug early on, and you can visit her at where she blogs daily about life, writing, and stuff that makes her go "What??!"

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