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Archive for March, 2022

Those $%#-ing Plateaus! (Contest)
Friday, March 11th, 2022

UPDATE: The winner is…Peggy!

Okay, so this isn’t me. I’m not working out like a bitch to lose weight. I have too much work to do, and I’m 63 years old. I did however make a New Year’s Resolution—top of my list, actually—that I was going to drop some pounds this year.

I know, I know. New Year’s Resolutions tend to fall by the wayside a week inside the New Year. But that’s not me. I do tend to have some, when I make them a priority, that “stick”.

Take my resolution made years and years ago to post daily on my blog. For three years straight, I didn’t miss a day. I figured out that having lots of guests helped because content is HARD! The past couple of years, I had a handful of days where I missed posting. One handful. My mother’s passing was a great excuse. I simply didn’t want to face my keyboard when all I wanted to do was vent about how painful it all was, and that’s not me. I’m not a crier. I’m not a wear-my-heart-on-my-sleeve person. Not even with the people I love most. My granddaughter is going through some things, life-threatening things, but we keep this house happy and positive. We’re a funny group of people, and we always find something to laugh about. THAT’s who we are.

So, back to this picture. I made a resolution that I’d lose some weight. I don’t plan to get slim. I plan to feel good. A week ago, I was at the twenty-pound mark. I felt svelte. (I’m so not, but hey, I could suck in my belly—that’s progress!) This week, I’m bumping back to nineteen, and I’m angry. No, I do not want to give up a morning of writing/editing to up my step-count. I want to work. So, I’m looking at the reasons why I’m plateauing. I’m not going to think too hard. I don’t have the time. I’ll cut out more salt (who eats eggs without salt?!). I’ll go back to being strict about my portions (I don’t like portions. I’d rather graze all day on 0-point foods!). Maybe, in the end, I’ll just relax. It is working. I’m standing taller. I’m not huffing up the stairs. My clothes are getting looser. I shouldn’t obsess over the scale.

I paid for seven months of online Weight Watchers. That told my family how serious I was. I’m two-and-a-half months in, and I still enter everything I eat in their little point counter. That’s dedication. It’s a habit now. I need more good habits.

Still, the picture above is funny. Although my hair’s getting more silver by the day rather than blonde now, that’s what I’d look like in a tight workout outfit. Maybe, I’ll go look for my handweights and place them beside my desk for “thinking time.” I wonder where that old Shake Weight is—it makes me laugh.

For a chance to win your choice of one of my backlist books, tell me what you do to make good, healthy habits!

Valerie Douglas/V.J. Devereaux: Adventuring in Audio with Director’s Cut (Romance) and Fire Season (Contemporary, paranormal, reverse harem – that one was fun!)
Thursday, March 10th, 2022

For those who haven’t tried audio, it is one of the fastest growing segments of literary options, ideal for busy people who still want to enjoy a good book, so you really should. I’ve been blessed with several great narrators, with books in a variety of genres – although I consider myself primarily an epic fantasy writer – finding the right narrator has had it’s ups and downs.

I use ACX/Audible because it gives you the option to do a royalty share, a combination of share and pay up front or paying the narrator their stated fee. I do a royalty share because it gives the narrator and me a stake in the success or failure.

Choosing a narrator, for me, is a matter of matching the audition and voice to a given project, finding if your styles mesh, and the narrator’s interest in the project. Two of my narrators give me different voices for different characters, and another changes the timbre of voice. Make certain you discuss expectations – not just for time, but how it will be delivered. One narrator recorded several chapters, didn’t post them for my review, and had to go back to clearly delineate what character was speaking. Communication is important, in both directions. One gives me his ‘raw’ version – mistakes, flubs, pronunciation errors or questions – and sometimes he’s really funny. And, periodically he sends me his ‘blooper’ reel which is a riot.

It wasn’t a new experience for me, many of my books are in audio, but hearing another interpretation of what I’ve written has been a fascinating experience. In at least one case, the voice for a favorite character is now the narrator’s interpretation, another caught the characters’ accents perfectly (and his voice is like melted butter, smooth, warm, and rich).

Both Director’s Cut and Fire Season are in production for the audio versions so I can’t attach the retail samples yet, but they are both out in print.

Fire Season
A Paranormal Reverse Harem

Excerpt from Fire Season

The wildfire consuming the forest had a voice all its own. Each did, Ari had found. He listened to the hungry, angry roar, the crack of tree limbs giving way, the small explosions as burls within the trees’ boles burst. The sound surrounded him, spoke to him. Ari kept half an eye on the rapidly spreading inferno. The canopy of leaves and pine needles above him and his people was still intact but in the near distance he could see licks of flame swirling around trunks, reaching higher. The tops of other trees burned like torches. Another ignited even as he watched.

The heat of the blaze, the parched air, baked him within his gear. He could barely breathe, despite his air bottle.

On this part of the mountain the rough, uneven terrain worked against them, kept them from using the tanker and trucks – the vehicles were too far away, the hoses couldn’t reach – so they were fighting the fire hand to hand.

His team worked hard and steadily, cutting some trees, digging up turf, shoveling the debris and dirt and tossing them aside. All they could do was hope to create a firebreak wide and long enough to stop the flames from advancing. At least to hold for long enough to allow them to fight the blaze itself. Even as he worked alongside his people, he kept an eye on them. He anchored one end of the line, Jase the other. Every one of them knew their job but, focused on the task at hand, even as experienced as they were, they relied on him to keep the line straight and true so they didn’t need to shift their attention from what they were doing.

Nor were they alone. Just beyond Jase was a team from the local firehouse doing the same thing – cutting a firebreak. Other teams from the local department’s two firehouses were scattered over the mountain, using their equipment where the land allowed.

Like him, that team leader worked hard, wielding a chainsaw like a sword, shouting instructions he couldn’t hear over the blaze to her people and department over the radio, keeping everyone apprised.

Something about that one, their stance, the way they carried themselves, and their short stature told him the leader was a woman, rare among firefighters.

The way her people responded to her instructions and orders, swiftly and without argument, told Ari she was good at what she did and respected.

Not for a moment did he allow his attention to wander for more than the second needed for that brief appraisal. It was too dangerous.

Ari sensed the wind shift even as the leader of the other team went stiff and looked up. The roar changed, hungry for fresh fuel as the fire turned. She saw it even as he did. Embers blew above them, past them. The fire, hungry for fuel, hungry for air, and powered by the strengthening breeze, leaped from one tree to another…toward them.

“Out, out, RUN! The wind shifted. GO! GO! GO!” Ari shouted, and he could hear an echo of his words as he signaled to Jase at the end of their line. The other team leader had her radio keyed even as she shouted and gestured to her people.

Amidst the raging blaze, the sound of one tree falling into another to topple against a second was hardly noticeable. The movement wasn’t.

Branches showered from above, some ablaze, falling even as Jase echoed Ari’s words, then turned to run and so didn’t see the danger. Like Ari, the other team leader was doing a headcount, making sure all her people were on the move, no one left behind.

A large falling branch sent Jase sprawling, and knocked his helmet, mask, and air bottle askew.

Even as a second branch, larger than the first, cracked, ready to fall, Ari was moving. As fast as he was, he knew he wasn’t fast enough to reach Jase in time.

The other team leader, closer, with her own people already on the run, did see and didn’t hesitate. She threw herself over Jase and turned turtle, tucking her chin in close to Jase’s vulnerable neck so her helmet and air tank would take the impact as she tried to cover as much of Jase as she could.

When the branch struck, Ari winced. At the very least, she would have cracked or broken ribs, if not worse, and Jase as well. As long as luck was on their side.

The fire was closing. They didn’t have much time or else find themselves trapped by the flames. It was no small branch, and they had to move it quickly, both for the sake of the two pinned beneath it and their own.

Celebrate National Procrastination Week! (Contest)
Wednesday, March 9th, 2022

UPDATE: The winner is…Mary Preston!

National Procrastination Week is a thing! How exciting is that? It runs March 6th through March 12th, so I’m a little late telling you all about it—but isn’t that the way it’s supposed to work? LOL

Most days, procrastinating is kind of a bad thing. You put off things you should be doing now—which can have consequences, even if the only one is added stress for you. So why celebrate it?

Use the holiday as your excuse to put something off you really don’t want to do now! Say, It’s National Procrastination Week, dear! The trash can pile at the curb; the laundry can build until it overflows the basket. I can start that book next week—I have a holiday to celebrate!

Here’s my procrastination rant: Yup… I have two whole weeks to finish this book. Woops, it’s ten days now. Still, I can push through to finish it next week. I’ve done it before. I work best under pressure. Adrenaline fuels my muse… 

For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, give me your procrastination rant!

Flashback: Begging for It (Contest — 2 Winners!)
Tuesday, March 8th, 2022

UPDATE: The winners are…Colleen C and Eileen McCall!

I’m being lazy again! I pieced together this patchwork of covers last month for a contest, and I’m using it again because I’m up to my eyeballs! Do you care? 🙂


For a chance to win your choice of one of the books below,
tell me something about yourself others might find strange or weird. Have fun!

Hot SEAL, Decoy Bride Handymen Jane's Wild Weekend
Raw Silk Begging For It Fun with Dick and Jane
Bad, Bad Girlfriend Saddled Ride a Texas Cowboy

Click on any cover to learn more about the story!

Excerpt from Begging for It

Cross McNally watched the woman walk away, her back straight, but her chin tilted at an angle that betrayed her inner turmoil. He’d seen her cross the street and thought he’d recognized her, but she’d given him a sneer when he’d slowed down.

He’d parked in front of the bar and followed her inside. When he’d seen her drag the dude in the Brooks Brothers suit out the back, he’d hurried out the front and around the side to watch.

It was shadowed where they stood, but he hadn’t needed to see clearly to know what they were doing or what it was doing to her. Her groans had been edged with desperation. The hard, crunching thrusts had to have rubbed her back and ass raw.

A familiar ache settled in his chest. The last time he’d felt it, he’d held her against his chest while she’d beaten him with bloody fists.

Cross left the bar and walked back to his car. He opened the door and slid behind the wheel but paused for a long moment before kicking the ignition. It must have been fate that had him on this exact street at just the right moment to find her.

And it looked as if he’d have to rescue her all over again. He just hoped this time she wouldn’t hate him.

Tamlyn Black: Dogs and Romancing the Grumpy Rancher (Excerpt)
Monday, March 7th, 2022

When I was a teenager, I had a poster that said, “The more people I meet, the more I love my dog.” It was very true back then with Frankie — my Scottish Terrier cross Staffordshire Bull Terrier rescue who kind of looked like a very hairy black Pumba — and it’s still true today with my monster dog, Kalbati.

Most people agree that dogs are amazing, but Kalbati… She’s special. Kalbati has been with us for seven years. We were told she was about two or three months old, but when we went to pick her up, it was clear they had fudged the details over the phone. She was probably about six months old and double the size we were expecting. There was no way she could fit in the carrier we brought along, so she sat on my lap and vomited her way home. It was a really long drive and not the most auspicious start, but she quickly made herself at home in our chaotic house and our hearts.

Kalbati has the sweetest nature of any dog I’ve met. She’s a Labrador crossed with some kind of hunting dog, and she’s about 80 pounds of energy and love. She’s no pushover, but she has great energy and can calm down any scared or aggressive dog. She’s also the best mom to rescue kittens and takes the nightshift by letting them snuggle with her in her bed, which means I get some sleep.

Kalbati is also the inspiration for Lic (Licorice), one of the dogs in my debut release, Romancing the Grumpy Rancher, releasing in RESCUED, a boxset of contemporary romances with heart, heat, and dog treats.

Like Kalbati, Lic has a big heart and tons of patience. She’s much more friendly than her human, Matthew Thomas, the grumpy rancher who isn’t too happy when his sister’s best friend from college shows up on his ranch the same day Lic finds a stray puppy. Savannah and the rambunctious puppy disrupt Matthew’s organized, quiet life in the best way.

This story was so much fun to write, and I hope readers enjoy getting to meet Matthew and Savannah and their four-legged friends.

Excerpt from Romancing the Grumpy Rancher…

One of his eyebrows rose just a little, and those full lips pressed into a firm line. “It’s not muggers you need to be on the lookout for. This is not the city, where going out for a run is as simple as running ten blocks one way and then ten blocks back. We have spotty cell reception in places and critters who would gladly chase your pretty little behind down the trail just to see if you’re worth taking a bite out of.”

Hearing Mr. Stern and Studly talking about her behind shouldn’t make her pulse flutter. But it did. Even though flirting with her best friend’s grumpy older brother was probably the worst idea ever, a smile stole over her lips, and she couldn’t resist provoking him. “I’ve been told my pretty little behind is definitely worth taking a bite out of.”

Something flashed across his face—something predatory and primal—before he shuttered it back behind stark disapproval. Maybe Olivia’s brother wasn’t as stalwart as she’d described him. As fun as investigating that possibility might be, Savannah knew it was inadvisable. She didn’t want to be the cause of any drama between Olivia and the brother who’d all but raised her.

“While you’re here, you should stick to running along the drive and staying close to the main house where you’ll be safe,” he said. “That way, I won’t have to waste time sending anyone out to rescue you.”

“I didn’t need rescuing, Matthew.”

His eyes widened at her use of his name, and she realized they technically hadn’t been introduced yet.

Buy link:

About the Author

Tamlyn Black is a mom to three amazing wildling kids, a monster rescue dog who sheds about a pound of fur a day, and two former feral cats who moved in and took over when they discovered they could have comfortable beds, free food, and endless snuggles.

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While the world is in chaos… (Contest)
Sunday, March 6th, 2022

UPDATE: The winner is…Elaine Howell!

A note popped up on my phone, telling me how much my time spent on the device has increased. My Twitter time has risen dramatically. No surprise there. I’ve been watching the news out of Ukraine incessantly. It’s hard not to. So many harrowing and uplifting stories. Today’s favorite was the story about a woman in Kyiv who took down a drone by flinging a jar of cucumbers at it from her balcony.

Writing hasn’t been easy or particularly productive, which is worrying since I have a book I have to upload by the 18th. I’ve been doing edits, because it doesn’t take as much brainpower—usually.

I’m still trying to make time for the #100DayProject art challenge, but I’m falling behind. Again, too much time on my phone and spent in front of the TV. I have to manage my “need to know” a little better. I made a bookmark earlier last week and didn’t realize until I was done that, subconsciously, Ukraine was still on my mind…

Another tweet prompted me to do this in response to whether I supported the Ukrainians. My answer ten minutes later…

I’ll keep with the challenge. It makes me experiment a bit. This picture was made using oil pastels, with which I have no experience (obviously!), but it was highly enjoyable giving it a try…

This one is more in line with what I usually do. Just a repeated pattern. No thought. Just paint and doodle. Very relaxing.

So, my question to you for a chance to win my Ukrainian sunflower bookmark is…

How do you find balance while the world is devolving into chaos?


Reminder for Authors! A Puzzle for Puzzlers! And Open Contests!
Saturday, March 5th, 2022

UPDATE: The winner is…Elaine Swinney!

Reminder for Authors

Deadline for Submissions is March 15!

When you send in your story, I’ll send you back a note to say I have it! If you have questions, don’t hesitate to email me!
Here are the guidelines: Silver Soldiers Guidelines

Puzzle Contest

For a chance to win a FREE download from my backlist of books, tell me—how’s the weather where you are? We’re nearing 80 degrees here today and tomorrow, then we’re going back into a freeze, followed by possible tornadic activity. It’s almost Spring in Arkansas! Is the weather as crazy where you are?

Open Contests

  1. Michal Scott: Elizabeth Jennings Graham — The Rosa Parks of the 1850s (Contest)This one ends soon! Win an Amazon gift card!
  2. February into March (Contest–and more contests!) — Win an Amazon gift card!
  3. Ukraine Solidarity (Puzzle-Contest) — Win an Amazon gift card!
  4. Cameron Allie: Character Spotlight — Lucifer (Contest & Excerpt) — Win a gorgeous pendant!
  5. Lainey Reese: The Inspiration Behind a New Series (Contest) — Win an Amazon gift card!
  6. Anna Hague: South Carolina, here we come! (Contest) — Win a FREE book!