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Archive for May, 2019

N.J. Walters: Twice is Nice
Friday, May 17th, 2019

Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans. That’s the way it is in both life and writing. I have several publishers and occasional participate in Indie projects, so I have no control over when my books are released. Sometimes I may go several months without a new release. Then there are times like this when I had two books releasing less than two weeks apart.

Even nicer? They’re totally different kinds of projects. One is a contemporary romantic suspense story for an anthology. The other is a smoking hot science fiction romance.

StrandedThe first book released was STRANDED: A BOYS BEHAVING BADLY ANTHOLOGY. This is actually the second A BOYS BEHAVING BADLY ANTHOLOGY that I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of. It’s fun to write a short story. There’s not a lot of time to tell the story so everything has to be tight, which means lots of tension and action between the main characters.

My story is “Undercover Lover“—Undercover as a waitress in a biker bar, DEA agent Sherry Norman is alone, stranded without backup until Ellis Smith, a man from her past, walks into the bar and back into her life.


Mind racing to try to figure a way out, she glanced toward the door when it opened. Her heart stopped. The entire bar dropped away. She no longer felt Deke’s hands on her. All she could see was the man who’d just walked in.

He stood about six-eight, his shoulders nearly as wide as the doorway. He was all muscle, which was on display as he wore nothing more than an open leather vest, a pair of faded jeans, and leather biker boots.

“Ellis,” she whispered.

“What was that?” Deke demanded, giving her a shake.

That drew the attention of the man. He looked their way and his gaze narrowed. “That’s my old man,” she told him. Deke was so surprised, he released her.

Praying she wasn’t making a mistake that might cost her dearly, she hurried over to the man she hadn’t laid eyes on in ten years. He watched her, his eyes still as blue as a lake in summer. His shaggy blond hair fell to his shoulders.

She put her hands on his shoulders and went up on her toes. “Kiss me,” she whispered. Not giving him time to object, she laid her lips against his.


Only days after the anthology came out, RESCUING RORY was released. This hot science fiction romance was actually published before for a very short period of time some years ago. It was the last book that a former publisher released before they closed their doors. I’d always planned for the Marks Mercenaries series to be a five book series, so I’m thrilled that it’s finally happening. The other four books in the series have been written and contracted and should be out very soon.

Being a writer is never boring.

Rescuing Rory
Marks Mercenaries, Book 1

Betrayed and sold into slavery after her father’s death, Rory Banks finds herself dancing on the Exos, a deep-space pleasure ship. So when a stranger breaks open her cage and offers her a way out, she grabs it and runs.

Kal Marks and his brothers are space mercenaries and traders who have spent the past ten years searching for their younger sister. Their hunt has led them to the Exos and to Rory, who they hope will have information. But Kal never counted on wanting Rory or on the sexual tension and scorching heat that blazes between them. This mission just got a lot more complicated.


What did Rory think she was doing? And why the hell did she want to bunk somewhere else?

Well, he wasn’t having it. She belonged here with him.

He didn’t question the craziness of that last thought. He was long past rational reasoning when it came to the woman perched on his lap. Just the thought of her leaving him left his guts in a knot. It was like getting a fist to his heart when she’d casually mentioned Albion 5, but nothing like the boot to the balls he’d received when she’d said she wanted to move out of his quarters.

None of it made sense. Why should he care that she didn’t want to stay with him? He’d just met her, barely knew her, but that didn’t matter one little bit. They’d been through more in that short time than many people had in a lifetime together. He’d protected her. Saved her life. And she’d given him her trust.

The muscle beneath his eye continued to flutter. He forced himself to stop grinding his back teeth together for fear of damaging them. Rory felt right in his arms. He hadn’t realized how empty his arms or his life had been until he’d filled them with her.

Evernight Publishing:
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About the Author

N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.

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Road Trip? (Jigsaw)
Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Have fun! Not sure why I chose this picture other than I’m longing for a road trip of my own! DD

McKenna Dean: Writer’s Block
Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

As creative types, we’re all familiar with writer’s block—when we open our notebooks or documents and stare at a blank page because the words won’t come to us. Sometimes we do find ourselves procrastinating writing: we tackle the backlog of laundry, mow the lawn, re-grout the shower—anything to avoid looking at that blinking cursor. Or we’ll binge-watch TV shows, take up yoga, commit to a new diet, all in the name of doing Something Else.

It’s incredibly frustrating. We chisel words out of stone, chipping away at the block in the hopes it will go away. Or sometimes we simply refuse to look at the current project. We might even start a new project. We want to create. We hate being idle. We want the block to go away.

The advice out there to deal with writer’s block is legion. Work through it. Take a break. Take a break but not too long a break. Write every day no matter what. The problem is knowing the right way to proceed.

In order to do that, we have to understand why we’re blocked.

As I see it, there are three basic forms of blockage. The first comes after you’ve finished a major project. You’re riding a high from successfully completing a draft, or turning in revisions. A day or two goes by but you can’t seem to settle to starting a new project or picking up on an old one you’ve set aside.

Give it some time. Farmers know they can’t keep planting the same fields over and over without allowing the soil to rest and replenish its nutrients. I know in today’s publishing environment, we’re supposed to be producing a story a month—heck, we’re supposed to be writing in our sleep—but creativity needs a chance to rest and replenish, too. Honor that. Read some books. Watch television. Take the dog for long rambles in the woods. When you’re ready, the next project will speak to you.

A subset of this type of blockage is when you’ve submitted something to a publisher and are waiting for the acceptance or rejection letter. While you should rest your mind for a bit because of the successful completion of a project, putting everything on hold for weeks or months while you wait and see if your book is contracted is a huge waste of time. Give yourself a week to recharge and then put the submitted story out of mind. Get the next one in the queue.

The second kind of blockage comes when your well of creativity is dry. This is NOT the kind of writer’s block you just plow through. You can’t pump water out of an empty well. Take a hard look at why your creativity has dried up on you. Are you burned out? Is your day job or personal life taking its toll on you? It’s hard to write a love story if your own love life is on the rocks. It’s hard to be creative when the world is falling apart around you or you’re working twelve hours a day. The words you drag out of an empty well will be just as dry and lifeless as the source. Author Louis L’Amour once advised, “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

To a certain point, he is right. I’ve been telling myself something similar for years without knowing the origin of the original quotation until recently. But there are times when that well is dry. You have to either wait for the water table to rise or drill a new well. You have to figure out how to solve the root problem. Sometimes there’s no easy fix. In which case, see if there is something you’re going through that can be incorporated into a story someday when there is more distance between you and the problem. This is also a great time to explore other areas of creativity. Write some no-pressure fanfic. Recount memories from your childhood. Keep a journal. Paint. Learn a new craft. Take photographs. Remember what it is like to play, to have fun. One time I created storyboards for action figures and photographed them in a series of scenes to tell the story I wanted to tell. Creativity begets creativity. It all counts in the end.

I think the third type of blockage is the kind most of us think of when we picture writer’s block. There’s an old Joe Flanigan movie called Farewell to Harry in which Flanigan has decided to ‘become a writer’ and travels to a small town looking for a story. He goes through all the classic moves of the blocked author: he sits in front of a typewriter staring at the blank page. He ripped the paper out of the machine, balls it up and throws it away. He drinks too much. He smashes a glass against a wall. His frustration is there for us to see.

But the real problem is he doesn’t know what story he wants to tell. He’s unable to write because he doesn’t know what he wants to write. It isn’t until he becomes involved with the titular character that he finds the story he wants to tell.

To be honest, that’s a very romanticized version of writer’s block. Most of us know the story we want to tell. We just can’t find the words to do so. If you can’t move forward on a story and you feel blocked, it’s a sign something doesn’t feel right to you as an author. You’ve gotten something wrong. There’s either a plot problem or you’re asking your heroes to do something out of character for them. Many times you can’t become unstuck until you figure out what that is.

Sometimes the answer is to write a different scene, the one you see clearest in your mind, and worry about how you bridge the two later. Sometimes the answer is to slog through it, tweaking and revising the scene until it falls into place. Sometimes you need to set the thing aside and do something mindless and physical to allow your brain to work through the problem without the blank page teasing you.

The hard part is knowing which to do when. But eventually, the writer in you will break through and the solution will be clear.

There’s no better feeling in the world than when that happens.

About McKenna Dean

McKenna Dean has been an actress, a vet tech, a singer, a teacher, a biologist, and a dog trainer. She’s worked in a genetics lab, at the stockyard, behind the scenes as a props manager, and at a pizza parlor slinging dough. Finally she realized all these jobs were just a preparation for what she really wanted to be: a writer.

She lives on a small farm in North Carolina with her family, as well as the assorted dogs, cats, and various livestock. She likes putting her characters in hot water to see how strong they are. Like tea bags, only sexier.

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Read an excerpt from Gilded Cage…
Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

Gilded CageHere’s a snippet from my latest release. Be warned. The story is very erotic, contains scenes with BDSM, and features two female lovers—a witch and a vampire. Enjoy their “first meet”. Elena has no clue that her “target” is about to get the upper hand. I stayed twice in a hotel right next to the Old Absinthe House and knew I had to feature it in a story. I love, love, love it! Remember, you can get a FREE copy here: Amazon

Excerpt from GILDED CAGE

Elena approached Jean Lafitte’s Old Absinthe House from Bienville Street. She skirted the sidewalk, striding in long steps, enjoying the cloying heat, the mingled scents of life and decay, sniffing delicately when she passed a sewer grate, but not minding the odors all that much. Tonight, little would spoil her mood.

The tavern looked good for its age—although not as good as Elena. Not a single wrinkle marred her face. Not that she was mindful of her beauty. She only accepted it as a fact, having come slowly to acceptance, acknowledging her beauty not as a gift or a curse.

She dressed simply. Straight-legged blue jeans, a black tank, and black military boots. A man’s black-banded watch sat on her left wrist. Her hair was pulled tightly into a ponytail at the back of her head. Her only concession to her femininity were the large white-gold hoops she wore in her ears, and only because she liked the way they bumped against her cheeks.

Still, as severe as she knew she’d dressed, Elena drew attention. She had a model’s long, lithe frame and moved as fluidly as a cat. Again, facts about which she was aware of but not overly self-impressed.

She’d reached the point in her long life where little mattered. Not friendships, because they were fleeting. Not money, because it could be gone in a single day—something she’d faced twice now in her lifetime. Little interested her. She’d seen most of the world. Done everything. Her only constant was the hunger that drove her even now when she was wishing she could ignore it just a while longer.

The other constant was Angela. And she was meeting her tonight for the first time in ten years.

Her stomach growled loudly, and Elena growled right back, alarming a musician carrying a guitar case so much so that he stepped onto the street to make a wide arc around her.

Something in his keen eyes said he knew what she was. What she must do. And soon. She toyed with the idea of stalking him, making him her supper. That might amuse her, but she’d have annoying regrets later because she no longer wished to prey on the innocent.

Besides, he’d looked to be in the flush of good health, smelled of broccoli and legumes. His sweat was fresh, pure. She wrinkled her nose because she preferred blood flavored with sin even when she wasn’t being noble. Or at least, trying very hard to be.

Her secret wish, the one she’d shared only with a priest before she’d ripped out his throat, was that she would ascend to heaven after a very long stay in purgatory. Something the priest had said was impossible due to the horrendous list of sins she’d confessed.

No matter that she’d been forced into this undead life. The moment she’d opened her mouth and accepted Angela’s blood, she’d forever outlawed her soul.

At least, she’d have good company.

Her phone chirped, and she slipped it from her back pocket and swiped across the screen.

Am here. Where r u?

Elena grinned and tapped the button on the side to close the phone. She was so close she didn’t bother responding.

She approached the doors to the Absinthe House, smelled the citrusy, medicinal scent of the absinthe they served and the burnt sugar they lit atop the drink the house was named for. The odors of sweat and perfume, fresh alcohol from opened bottles, and stale liquor oozing from the pores of patrons, kicked up her heart beats. She dragged in the smells, discovered one intriguing aroma among the snarled pack, and homed in on it—lush, sweet musk. Feminine. Dark.

The sense she’d honed over time found the sinner. Her gaze tracked over the tables and the people seated at the bar, landing at last on a woman whose unblinking eyes stared right back.

Angela could wait. This one was too delicious to pass up. The woman’s hair was a mass of shiny corkscrew curls, which tumbled past her shoulders in shades of dark brown, blond and red. Her skin tone was a milky latte. Her eyes were golden and tilted upward at the outside corners, long, thick lashes sweeping downward to cast shadows against glowing cheeks, before rising again so that their glances locked.

The vixen’s mouth sent a thrill through Elena’s body, cinching her nipples, hardening her clit. Her hips swayed a little deeper as she approached. Draga, esti mina. You’re mine.

The woman’s head canted slightly, as though she had heard her, which surprised Elena. Most humans couldn’t hear the suggestions although they acted upon them, thinking they’d formed the thought themselves. Perhaps she was a sensitive, one with psychic gifts. There were many in this city.

Elena stopped beside the table. “Are you expecting anyone?”

A glance flitted over Elena’s slim frame. “I think I’ve been waiting for you.” Her voice oozed like caramelized sugar onto Elena’s skin.

Satisfaction shivered through Elena as she sat in the empty chair opposite the woman and let her own gaze trail lower. Her heart fluttered at the sight of the temptress’s breasts—nipples like dark moons, shadowing her gold tank, the tips protruding, lengthening as Elena stared.

Elena’s mouth watered; her tongue scraped the edge of an eyetooth, drawing blood. Her belly growled again, but the music and sounds of conversations flowing around them masked the insistent sound.

The dark-skinned woman lifted a hand from her lap, one long, slender finger beckoning a waitress. “Would you like a drink?”

“Perhaps, later.” Elena smiled, dipping her eyelids as she gave the sultry beauty a look that said without words what she hungered for.

A slight, feline smile curved the corners of her generous mouth. “Then we’ll leave. My apartment’s not far.”

Just released! GILDED CAGE! Get your FREE copy!
Monday, May 13th, 2019

I have something dark and sexy for you—if you’re not persnickety about a f/f romance. However, if you love something dark (it involves the Blood Countess, Elizabeth Bathory!), which depicts a witch and a vampire in a life and death battle for dominance, and takes place in New Orleans, you’ll love this. It’s intensely erotic with BDSM elements. So, be warned!

This is a story that was previously released through Ellora’s Cave but has been significantly revised. And there’s more in the series to come. It’s only 12,000 words, so not terribly long. I hope you’ll give it a try. And best yet? If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for FREE!

Gilded Cage

A f/f paranormal novelette…

Since her turning, Elena Csintalan has wrestled her inner demon on a nightly basis. She never expects her limits to be tested—until she finds herself drawn to a tawny woman whose lush curves make her eyeteeth spike. Before she knows it, she’s dangling inside an iron cage, one that’s frighteningly familiar. And the punishment she endures is oh so divine…

Despite a surprising empathy she feels for the vampire she’s captured, Cassia proceeds with her coven’s plan—drain Elena of her blood at the height of orgasm to complete a potion that will protect them from Elena’s maker. Cassia scried the darkness coming their way, and the monster has a name…the Countess Elizabeth Bathory.

Get your copy here!

Happy Mother’s Day!
Sunday, May 12th, 2019

Here’s wishing all you moms, stepmoms, foster moms, and even
you babysitting aunties a Happy Mother’s Day!

If I had more time… (Jigsaw)
Saturday, May 11th, 2019

I wish I was two people. I’d write more. I say that because I have all these stories in my head and not enough time or energy to get them out. I keep this photo in my Future Covers stack because I’d love to do something with it—writing this book! *sigh* Someday…

Have fun with the puzzle and remember: There are still open contests, here and on my Collections page! Be sure to enter!