Today, I hit the VA in Little Rock to get my COVID shot! When I finished my 15-minute waiting period, I strutted out of that facility, da-da da-da, to the tune of “The Jack” by AC/DC, substituting “She’s got the jack” with “She’s got the shot!” If no one had been looking, I’d have been headbanging out the door I was so happy!
The shot didn’t hurt. My lips felt a little numb and my head was a teeny bit woozy, but those aren’t necessarily bad sensations, right? I lived through the 70’s—and I used to have to pay to feel that way! Okay, I’m being silly, but I’m soooo relieved to have the vaccine. That’s two down in my household—the SIL is a cop/first responder. Now, we have to wait for the rest to get theirs because then we’ll be getting closer to living with a little less paranoia. I hope your day comes soon, too! In the meantime, I’ll leave you with AC/DC’s “The Jack” in case you have no idea what this little gem sounds like… You’re welcome.
Danger is sexy. Why? Pounding heart, rushing blood, a wild cry in the night. Is it danger or passion? Hard to tell because they evoke the same responses. They wake us up and put all our senses on high alert. The difference is while one can end in death, the other can lead to eternal love. Danger also makes us vulnerable. Forcing us to trust, and Delia has a big problem with that…
After 2020, Delia Sloane struggles to keep Rainbow Falls Resort afloat while grieving the loss of her father and husband. She refuses to let her Key Largo slice of paradise—a haven for non-mainstream couples—die. But when a serial killer begins attacking her guests—leaving a single dreadlock on each victim—everything spins out of control, including what’s left of her family.
Hides a killer…
After her brother’s experience with police brutality, the last place she wants to turn to for help is law enforcement. Scarred mentally by a deadly force incident, Detective Will Peterson has avoided homicide cases. But only he has the skills to drill into the elusive killer’s twisted mind.
And it just got personal…
When a hurricane strikes, exposing the horrible truth behind Delia’s losses and threatening everything she holds dear, trusting Will may be her only hope. Are they up to the challenge?
They climbed the metal staircase and arrived at her door. Her hand trembled as she swiped the card key and opened it.
Will’s eyes looked electric blue in the semi-darkness, burning into her soul.
“Would you like me to come in?” he asked, his voice so husky she could barely understand him.
The throbbing magnetic pulse between them was much easier to comprehend.
She answered by grabbing his hand and pulling him inside. While he closed the door, she turned on her pineapple-shaped lamp, nearly knocking it over. She felt as if she swam underwater as he looped his arms around her waist. She locked her own behind his neck, exploring the crisp texture of his hair while they kissed again.
His hot tongue explored her mouth, making her melt at every joint, especially between her legs. The olive pantsuit she wore seemed to catch fire as her skin ignited with desire. Was it chemistry? Or the danger?
Stop. They had to stop.
She wrenched her mouth away. “I-I haven’t been with anyone since Keith.”
“There’s been no one since Amy, either.”
“Then why are we here?” she asked.
He brushed his knuckles down her cheek. “Because we need each other.”
Maybe if she hadn’t heard about the video of her father, she wouldn’t be so emotional right now. So vulnerable. It felt as if a dam had broken inside her, washing away all her control.
Every pain she’d ever suffered bubbled to the surface—Keith’s drowning, Jamal’s injury and imprisonment, her economic problems.
The force of it flooded her. Made her grab the lapels of his blazer and wrench it off. As if joining with him would cure every pain she’d ever endured. Wildness and pain filled his eyes, too. He grabbed her hips and slammed them against his pelvis. Against his steel-hard desire.
She kissed him until her lips bruised. Until the pain mixed with the losses screaming and aching inside her.
“Where’s your bedroom?” he asked, breathing hard against her cheek.
She cupped her hand over the swollen ridge behind his zipper. “We’re not going to make it that far.”
Afton Locke is a USA Today Bestselling Author who prefers romantic fantasies to everyday reality. Fantasies take her to different times, races, places, and beyond. She lives with her husband, several unnamed dust bunnies, and a black cat that can be scary or cuddly, depending on the current book. When she’s not writing, Afton enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and watching retro T.V.
Winters are long where I live. Since I’m not a big fan of the cold and wind, I tend to stay inside on those days and get cozy. Here are my top tips for staying comfy and content on blustery winter nights.
A fire—if you have a fireplace. I don’t, but if I did, I’d have one crackling away for warmth and ambiance.
A blanket or quilt. I’m a huge fan of a cozy blanket. I have a chocolate brown fuzzy one that is always draped over my legs whenever I’m curled up on the sofa.
Fresh baked goods. I tend to make cookies since I can either make smaller batches or freeze some. But pie and cake work, too. You really can’t go wrong with something yummy fresh from the oven. If you don’t bake, treat yourself to a good quality chocolate bar or something from a local bakery.
A hot beverage. I drink tea, not coffee, but whatever works for you is great. Some days demand hot chocolate, with marshmallows. Some nights call for a glass of amaretto. (Or whatever alcoholic beverage you enjoy.)
I love slipper socks. I find them more comfortable than slippers. I have a pair that are fleece-lined and keep my toes nice and warm.
A good book. There’s nothing like curling under my blanket (with my slipper socks on) enjoying a hot drink, some chocolate, and a good book while the wind howls outside. If you enjoy a sexy sci-fi romance, you might want to check out my latest release.
If you’ve read the Marks Mercenaries series, you might remember that the hero from Salvaging Abby is from Gravas, a highly secretive world with advanced technology and a kickass military. Oh, and their assassins are the best in the known universe.
Gravasian assassins are ghosts, whispers on the wind, and feared by all. Kyler el Darkos is even deadlier, more dangerous. He’s no ordinary assassin. He’s the king’s blade, answering only to the king of Gravas, his loyalty absolute. Few know of his existence. He lives and works alone. Gravasian justice is swift and brutal. His job is to see it carried out.
Assassins of Gravas, Book 3
Kyler el Darkos is an elite Gravasian assassin who answers only to the king of Gravas. His mission: Find Balthazar and eliminate him and any of his associates for their part in abducting the king’s son and trying to market stolen Gravasian weapons. His search has brought him to the planet of Mortis and Hell’s Gate, a bar owned by Balthazar’s father. The last thing he expects is to fall for Etta Mortis—his target’s sister—a woman who tempts him to risk his honor for a chance at love.
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, assassins, 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.
Going down the rabbit hole is what we authors call picking up a thread of research that takes us away from our intended purpose. My latest is African-American opera. What got me started was my quest to track down a modern adaptation of Richard Wagner’s Das Rheingold. I learned of an African-American version where James Brown’s first gold record is the gold stolen in the opera. Looking for information on that performance has taken me down many paths in my latest rabbit hole. Before my quest, I’d have had to admit my knowledge of opera depicting aspects of African-American life was limited to the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess and Scott Joplin’s Tremonisha. I soon became lost in the wonderful facts I discovered about old and new works. And truth be told, I loved being lost.
My rabbit hole was really a gold mine. I struck a rich vein every time I began a new internet search. I’ve learned about modern works like Tulani and Anthony Davis’ X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X that premiered at the American Music Theater Festival in 1985. Last year, the Seattle Opera performed Daniel Schnyder and Bridgette A. Wimberly’s Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, a daring piece that incorporated jazz and opera.
This month I learned about 1949’s Troubled Island by composer William Grant Still. You can learn more about the piece here…
In 1936, Still began the opera set in Haiti’s slave rebellion. He asked poet Langston Hughes to write the libretto. Hughes had collaborated with African American composer James P. Johnson to write a blues opera called De Organizer. The International Ladies Garment Workers Union sponsored performances of the work in 1940. In 1937, Hughes moved to Spain to correspond on the Spanish Civil War. Still’s wife, Verna Arvey, a librettist in her own right, finished Troubled Island‘s libretto. Completed in 1939, it took ten more years before the work was performed by the New York City Opera. This made Troubled Island the first African-American grand opera to be produced by a major opera company.
I was drawn to learn more about William Grant Still, the music of Langston Hughes, Verna Arvey, James P. Johnson, famous sponsors of work by African-American artists. Can you see why research is an underground rabbit warren from which I might have never returned to the story that initiated the search in the first place? I plugged up my ears against the siren call of all these facts and made my way back to the surface. I’ve tucked the information away for another time and other stories.
I’ve yet to find the James-Brown-gold-record version of Das Rheingold but I haven’t given up. If you come across it or any information about it, please let me know. But beware lest you fall into a rabbit hole research trap of your own.
For a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card, share in the comments if you have a favorite opera or if opera is something you avoid at all costs.
One Breath Away
Sentenced to hang for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. She’s never been courted, cuddled or spooned, and now no man could want her, not when sexual satisfaction comes only with the thought of asphyxiation. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more.
Wealthy, freeborn-Black, Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing the mysteriously exotic woman is his mate foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex.
Hope ignites along with lust until the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…
Excerpt from One Breath Away
He removed his hat and extended his hand in greeting. “At your service, Queen.”
She donned her hat and examined him with that regal air.
“Miss Payne, if you please. You may call me Queen after the nuptials.” She finished tying her hat’s long ribbons beneath her chin. “Although, even then, I’d prefer Mrs. King.”
“You don’t say?” He chuckled, taking her measure from head to foot. “Well, Miss Payne it is…for now.”
She filled her face with a frown. “I don’t appreciate being examined like some newly purchased cow, Mr. King.”
He pulled back. Amusement wrestled with annoyance. “I’m making sure you measure up, Miss Payne.”
“Pray to what criteria? I doubt there’s a standard for marriages of convenience.” She shoved her valise against his chest then crossed her arms, causing her lovely bosom to swell.
He inhaled against the pull of desire throbbing in his privates. “The same criteria as you I suspect: my own self-worth and what I deserve.” He dropped the bag at her feet. “So, by that token, I don’t appreciate being treated like some fetch-and-carry boy.”
She lowered her gaze. But for the set of her jaw he’d have taken the gesture for apology.
He leaned forward and whispered, “If you ask me nicely, I’d gladly carry your bag.”
“A gentleman wouldn’t need to be asked.” Her tone dripped with disdain. “A gentleman would simply take it.”
“I do many things, Miss Payne.” He pushed up the brim of his hat and grinned, fired up by the hazel flame sparking in her eyes. “Pretending to be a gentleman doesn’t number among them.”
Being a writer—no, being a successful writer—isn’t only about getting words on pages. I wish it worked that way, but in the real world, or at least for the independently published authors…
We write a book
We scrounge for cover art to hand to the cover artist
We look for decent editors (or in my case since I am an editor, good beta readers to find my errors)
We pay or learn to format our books ourselves
We upload the books on all the platforms where people buy books
And then…we try to figure out how to get people to notice our book amid the millions of books available on all those platforms.
And that’s where you can really fall down that rabbit hole and waste an inordinate amount of time while you try to figure out what works.
I have a website. That’s a must for authors—the first order of business for any author.
I have a blog. Now, authors say blogs are dead, but I think mine does okay. See the number of folks on the left who get this daily post mailed straight to their inbox? I choose to continue this blog because it serves as my “face” to the real world out there. I talk about what’s real in my life. I talk about my books. I invite other authors to come to talk about their lives and their books. It’s a friendly place. But as an author, I have to do so much more.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… Gah. How can I be in all places at all times? Simply put, I can’t. And I do not want to pay someone to manage my social media, even though I’ve seen some authors who have the right support do very, very well. You see, I tried it, but it was work managing that support and I don’t really want anything more on my plate. I’ll do the occasional Facebook and Amazon ad and call it done.
And then my dd offered to do something for me.
She noticed all those lovely, luscious book memes on Instagram and Facebook and wondered why I wasn’t doing them. I told her flat out I didn’t have the time or the talent. Since she’s got online school to supervise every day and has to sit in the livingroom or dining room with the kids anyway, and it doesn’t take up every second of her time, she said she’d give it a shot. It looked like fun to her. Fun?! Of course, I worried about what those ads might look like because her taste and mine are not the same, and she doesn’t read romance, doesn’t get the genre at all.
But hey. She wanted to help.
So, for a little over a month now, I give her a cover and maybe a snippet about the book or a piece of an Amazon customer’s review and off she goes.
I told her donuts and the color pink feature in my latest release, Preacher…
And I thought, That’s alright. At least people will stop and look.
And then she saw my cover for my next release, Hardman, and asked whether I had more art with this guy because she said he was hot! This one’s simple. Stark. Sexy. I like it!
And she’s only gotten better. I wanted her to go back and do memes for books I already have out there but folks might have forgotten exist or had no idea they existed…
I had this Texas Cowboy story about a wild-child judge’s daughter who gets caught going Lady Godiva on a motorcycle by a pair of Dom deputies… She found this art!
The story that followed was about a schoolteacher voyeur spying on a deputy’s playroom. This one’s just too cute!
When she put all the Texas Cowboys together, she did this and I snorted with laughter.
My favorites so far? I love, love the biker girl and voyeur girl, but I love this one too!
And has it helped? I really think so. When I look at my sales on Amazon, there are more of my older titles selling, so I’m going to keep her employed for the longterm doing my memes. She’s becoming a goddess (and a godsend—just one more thing I don’t have to worry about)!
What do you think? And which is your favorite image from the ones I provided. Comment for a chance to win a backlisted title of your choice!
“All of us have moments in our lives that test our courage. Taking children into a house with a white carpet is one of them.”
~ Erma Bombek
I love that quote. Isn’t it soooo true? When my sister lived in Texas, she had a property in the country—and a white-as-hell carpet. You know where my kid spilled the grape juice, right?
I’m thinking about kids because school is back in full swing after Snowmageddon. Online, for our house. But there are Zoom meeting alarms set, homework to supervise. We’ll be busy.
The snow is melting. Yesterday, we had huge slabs of ice slide off the roof. It was dicey getting out the doors. There’s snow in patches, and “The Great Mudding” has begun. Towels are on the floor in front of every entrance for folks to clean off their shoes before coming inside.
I’m busy working on two sets of edits, plus charging back into my Work-in-Progress, Hardman—along with 20 items on my daily To Do list. Gah.
So, to the contest…
Tell me about your family’s “tests of courage” for a chance to win a download of your choice from my backlist of books!