I’m heading into town to my favorite destination! We go early to avoid crowds. Once we’re past the desk, we head to the stalls, where there’s no one around and we can pull off our masks. (They have open doors and run fans all over the place!) Then it’s pure nirvana!
So, you probably guessed where we’re going. For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, tell me about your weekend plans!
Thank you, Delilah, for hosting me today. You’re very kind.
I’ll admit a secret – I didn’t think the current war would happen. I follow politics and world events, and I couldn’t conceive of this happening. From the beginning—from the first bombs falling—my worldview changed. I felt powerless and, as atrocities continue, my heart breaks a little more each day.
So, what could I do? I can’t influence politicians. I can’t solve the crisis. And asking for world peace, although laudable, isn’t realistic. I donated to a worthy cause. I reached out to my Ukrainian friends to offer unconditional support. But I continued to feel powerless.
Then a friend told me Dakota Willink was putting together an anthology to benefit Ukraine. I’d seen several before, but this one provided me an opportunity to sign up. I immediately threw my name into the ring. I’d written a novella previously for another charity anthology, so I knew I was capable of writing a 10k word story in a short period of time. And I have a world to set that story in, so that was easy.
Still, I wanted to do more. I have another pen name, under which I write very different books. I asked them if I could write a second story, and they agreed. In fact, I’m not the only author who’s done that. With my task at hand, I sat down at the keyboard.
To be clear, none of these stories are about the conflict. We recognize that it’s far too painful for many readers to tackle at this point. But love? Our readers are always up for reading about love. The stories span broad categories such as contemporary, paranormal, and dark, and delve a little deeper into gay or BDSM or other subgenres. There’s something in here for everyone.
My first story is The Lightkeeper’s Love Affair. From my description, it’s a 10k lighthearted gay romance with forced proximity, a loner, a future schoolteacher, and Buddy, the adorable beagle. So, a little something for everyone. The story takes place in a fictional world I’ve created in British Columbia, Canada, and has some familiar sights to those from here. If you’re not, I invite you to immerse yourself. This book is under my pen name Gabbi Grey.
My second story, Toronto Tryst, is also, clearly, based in Canada. I’m showing my roots. Again, from the description, this is a 5k word BDSM-light romance short story with a surprise that will delight. My dark erotic BDSM series, under the pen name Gabbi Black, is, frankly, very dark. It touches on black places but always with a happy ending. That series takes place in Vancouver. The final book in the trilogy is coming out early next year, so I didn’t want to disrupt the series. Yet I wanted to write the story for the anthology. My solution? Pull someone from the BDSM club on the west coast and transport them to Toronto for a nice evening of fun. Don’t be afraid of the BDSM—this is definitely a fluffy read. A nice sampler for those who are new to the subgenre, and a amusing story for those who are more familiar with it.
Obviously, I’d love if everyone purchases a copy of the anthology. It contains hundreds of thousands of words—all written by authors who just want to do their part. 100% of the proceeds go to United Help Ukraine.
Thank you again, Delilah, for giving me a place to share my great news. I would love to give a $10 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky commentator.
Let me know your favorite romance trope! Mine turn out to be instalove and forced proximity. And a dog (or cat). I know pets aren’t a trope, but I just always have to throw one in. Share your thoughts for a chance to win!
Seeds of Love: A Romance Charity Anthology to Benefit Ukraine Synopsis
You can help us make a difference.
SEEDS OF LOVE is a romance anthology to benefit Ukraine. This collection of short romance stories is not available anywhere else. 100% of the royalties will be donated to United Help Ukraine, a charitable organization dedicated to helping the Ukrainian people affected by Russia’s invasion. They are a grassroots, entirely volunteer-based organization that provides aid to wounded Ukrainian warriors, assistance to their families, and support to internally displaced people.
This anthology features 48 authors. The stories include various sub-genres of contemporary romance, paranormal romance, dark romance, and romantic comedy.
SEEDS OF LOVE is only available for a limited time! Stand with the people of Ukraine and get your copy today!
I was inspired to create Nowhere, NC in 1998 after reading an article about a road in a town in NC that ended because the funding ran out. The photograph showed nothing but woods at the end of this road. My writer brain said, “That is the town but ordinary people can’t see it.”
It has been a long road to Nowhere since then. I’ve written several short stories for it, but only published a couple of them. I am currently revising Veronica Grimm and will conclude her journey in the revised book. In the meantime, you can listen to the original on Audible and read a bit about Nowhere in the Witches & Whiskers Anthology (https://books2read.com/charmedmagic1) . All the proceeds from the anthology goes to an animal sanctuary.
The resilience of the formerly enslaved in the face of societal oppression never ceases to amaze me. Despite violence from groups like the KKK and laws to strip away the rights they’d earned, former slaves refused to be daunted. One of these brave souls was Anna Julia Haywood Cooper.
I learned of Cooper while researching a novella I hope to set in Paris in the 1920s. She received a PhD in history from the Sorbonne in 1924 when she was 66. She had first started her doctoral work in 1914 at Columbia University but had to stop to take care of her siblings upon the death of her mother.
Born into slavery in 1858 in Raleigh North Carolina, Cooper went on to become an author, an educator, and sociologist. She received a scholarship at the age of nine to Saint Augustine’s Normal School and Collegiate Institute. She studied there for fourteen years and successfully fought to take classes reserved only for men. She then enrolled in Oberlin College and once again refused to be barred from men-designated courses of study. She graduated in 1884 but after teaching at Saint Augustine’s and Wilberforce College returned to Oberlin and received an M.A. in mathematics in 1888.
Her book, A Voice from the South, published in 1892 is considered to be one of the earliest if not the earliest work advocating education and social uplift of Black women as the way to uplift her race. She is often called the Mother of Black Feminism. That same year she formed the Colored Women’s League with such luminaries as Ida B. Wells, Charlotte Forten Grimke and Mary Church Terrell.
In 1900 Cooper attended the first Pan-African conference in London and presented her paper, “The Negro Problem in America.” She retired from teaching and became president of Frelinghuysen University in 1930. This university was established to help African Americans receive education after working hours so they didn’t have to choose between an education and working to support themselves and their families. When the university could no longer pay its mortgage, she moved the school into her home. She died in 1964 at the age of 105.
When I discover women like Anna Julia Haywood Cooper, these words from Maya Angelou’s poem, “And Still I Rise”, come to mind: “Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave.” Formerly enslaved women like Cooper were their own dream and their own hope. Her example inspires me to reinvent her audacity and resilience in the characters I create in my fiction.
For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card, share in the comments a woman from history or in your own life who inspires you.
One Breath Away
by Michal Scott
Sentenced to hand 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. Never having been courted, cuddled or spooned, Mary now fears any kind of physical intimacy when arousal forces her to relive the asphyxiation of her hanging. 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 a relationship with Mary was 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.
Then just as Eban begins to win Mary’s trust, an enemy from the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…
Excerpt from One Breath Away…
The squeak of the indoor pump provided no distraction from the lingering tingle where Eban’s fingers had rested against her spine, where his lips had kissed her hand. She focused on her task to temper her excitement.
Fill the bucket. Lift the bucket. Carry the bucket. Empty the bucket. Fill the bucket. Lift the bucket. Carry the bucket. Empty the bucket.
The pans she filled slowly simmered then steamed on her small, pot-bellied stove.
Her heart seized as she fingered the simple gingham curtains covering Harvest Home’s windows. Harvest Home’s humble kitchen contrasted sharply with the trappings that had graced Mary’s Manor, her Weston restaurant expansion.
She’d looked up the word manor and decided her place would imitate that kind of luxury as much as possible. Brocaded drapes and white, linen tablecloths had dressed up the Manor’s supper room. Slipcovers made from the same linen covered the cushioned chairs. White, bone china and delicate silverware completed the picture of elegant dining she hoped to draw.
A Franklin stove, indoor pump, double sink, polished counter tops and spacious storage cupboards made the Manor’s kitchen a dream made true. Nothing lacked for the grand opening. Picturing couples enjoying themselves in her simple but elegant setting had become her favorite pastime.
Then Judah Little and his lies thwarted her plans. Thwarted. A good word. A true word.
“But not for long,” she whispered. “That dream will come true just as this dream might come true tonight.”
Ready for a meaty, sexy read (full-length novel)? Plenty of plot twists? Vampires, demons, and zombies? A yummy menage? A sexy, sexy hero (this one’s EROTIC!)? Well, it drops tonight after midnight!
A raging storm unleashes a tempest of desire and an ancient evil…
For nearly 800 years, Revenant Nicolas Mountfaucon has dedicated his life to ensuring an immortal monster never walks free. When a terrible storm unleashes the beast, Nicolas’s past rises to haunt him, taunting him with the memory of the death of his bride and the loss of his brother at the hands of the ancient demon known as “The Devourer.” Nicolas turns to the only person who can provide him emotional and physical solace, Born vampire Chessa Tomas, sure she will join the hunt for the evil creature.
Only Chessa wants nothing to do with hunting the “Big Bad”—she’s shed her responsibilities as a Born, refusing her seat on the council because she doesn’t trust their leader. However, Nic isn’t as easily dismissed—he appeals to the secret side of her nature that begs to be dominated.
Fresh from her shower, Chessa heard the heavy knock and glanced at her clock on the bedside stand. Still an hour before she had to be at work.
Not the super. She’d paid her rent. Besides, he’d fled with the rest of the building’s inhabitants when the Mayor had ordered evacuation.
And not her partner seeing whether she wanted to get a cup of coffee before reporting to duty. Her partner wasn’t coming today.
Or ever again.
Curious, she threaded through piles of discarded clothing to her front door and peered through the peephole into a hallway lit only by grayish, pre-dusk light from the landing window. The power had gone out sometime during the night. Just one more annoyance on top of the last hellish twenty-four hours.
A familiar man stood on her threshold. Broad shoulders, long dark hair—her body clenched. “Nic?” What was he doing in the city again so soon? How the hell had he gotten in? She’d heard most of the roads around the city were closed due to flooding.
“Chessa, open the door.”
Something in his voice had her gripping the doorknob tight. Her breath hitched. She didn’t want to know what had brought him here.
“Please,” he said, weariness and raw, aching need flavoring the rich timbre of his voice.
Although they’d sated their appetite for sex a few hours ago, Chessa’s body softened instantly, heat tightening her womb. She hated the way her body betrayed her.
They’d said their farewells, she reminded herself. “We had a deal, Nic. You stick to your turf—I’ll stick to mine.”
“Chessa, open the goddamn door.”
The “or else” he left unspoken in his lightly accented voice. She got the message and turned the knob, stepping aside to let him in as she wrapped her towel tightly around her body.
A quick, sweeping glance told her there was trouble. Big, fat vampire trouble. Nicolas looked a mess.
His long black-brown hair hung in damp, curling tendrils around his lean face. His exposed skin was grimy-looking, and he smelled of sewage and sour swamp water.
His hands reached for her.
Without time to sidestep, she found herself smashed against his chest, his strong hands clutching her close.
She leaned back in the circle of his arms and stared into his face. What she saw troubled her. His jaw was clenched tight, and his face was unnaturally pale—even by a vampire’s standards. “What’s happened?”
His throat tightened, but he shook his head and lowered it.
Only she’d just had a shower, and he stunk to high heaven. Besides, she needed space to calm the riot of feelings he aroused. Ones she was still uncomfortable acknowledging even existed. She pressed her palms against his chest to halt him.
She loved Rene. Although he’d chosen to enter a mage’s sanctuary with another Born vampire, Chessa wasn’t over him yet.
Her feelings for Nicolas were strictly carnal—and she needed to get her libido back under control. Unbridled passion had been unleashed by proximity to Natalie Lambert’s coming into season, as only a transforming Born could inspire. That arousal had spilled over onto Chessa and Nicolas—it was the only explanation Chessa would allow for the strength of the desire that even now made her body yearn toward his.
Nicolas’s chest heaved, and his eyes narrowed to feral slits. “Don’t deny me. Not now.”
She wrinkled her nose. “You stink.”
“Then we’ll shower,” he said, a dangerous edge to his voice.
As always, his first terse words had her melting. “Tell me why you’re here,” she said, searching for a way to put him off while she shored up her fading resistance.
Another shake of his head, this time sharp and violent. “Later,” he ground out.
Then she noted the wildness in his eyes. Something had rattled his cage. Nicolas was never anything but completely in control. Chessa felt the last bit of solid ground crumble beneath her. “All right,” she said softly and held up a hand to ward off a kiss. “But shower first.” He’d have to let her go to follow her.
However, Nicolas wasn’t giving her the space she needed to regroup. He grabbed the top of her towel and ripped it away then slammed his mouth on hers, backing her toward the bedroom.
Chessa’s bare feet skidded on her wood floor as she dug in her heels, but he swept her along, through her bedroom into the bathroom, all the while punishing her lips with a brutal kiss.
When the edge of the tub brought them up short, he reached behind her and yanked aside the shower curtain. “Turn it on.”
Dumbly, she reached behind her, fumbling to turn the knob, finally sending a spray of water that misted around them before he lifted her above the rim of her tub to set her inside.
Nicolas tore at his clothes, dropping them at his feet, then stepped beside her in the stall, crowding her against the cool tile walls with lukewarm water falling all around them. “Any more objections?” he asked, in his oddly rasping voice.
She shook her head, overwhelmed and mute with rising desire. Her body already strained toward his. Her breasts swelled, her nipples ruching tight and hard. Her legs trembled, and her sex released a trickle of fragrant moisture she couldn’t deny.
His hands reached around her and grasped her bottom, lifting her off her feet, crushing her breasts to his chest, her mound against the base of his rigid cock.
With his erection pressing into her belly, any objection was obliterated. She flung out her arms and gripped his shoulders, aiding him as he angled her body toward his and thrust his cock between her legs.
Chessa groaned as he slid inside her. “Bastard, we had a deal.”
His response was a flex of his hips to thrust hard inside her, tunneling deep, pressing higher until the strength of his hips and cock had her feet dangling above the porcelain bottom of the tub.
When he’d reached inside her as far as he could, he wrapped his arms around her, squeezing away her breath and laid his cheek alongside hers, his chest heaving.
She shivered from arousal so strong it nearly choked her and from fear of whatever had shaken Nicolas to his core. She’d never seen him like this. “What is it? What’s happened?”
His head drew away, and his gaze burned as it slid to her lips. “Later,” he groaned.
Again, the wildness in his gaze and the tension that gripped his broad shoulders and arms as he held her unsettled her. This wasn’t Nicolas with his sardonic quips and ever-watchful gaze. Accustomed of late to him showing up at unexpected times to tempt her, this was different.
He was frightened.
Although tempted to argue, to chide him and try to drive him away, she wound her arms around his neck, her legs around his waist, and pulled him close, dragging his head down to bury against her shoulder.
If she were honest with herself, she was glad he’d come.
Not that she was ready to be anybody’s rock. She had problems of her own. A life to sort out. One far away from the vampire enclave at Ardeal.
Nicolas was entrenched in that life, but she had broken free decades ago and had vowed she’d never go back. Whatever was bothering him now wasn’t her problem.
But she could hold him and let his warmth and strength provide her comfort as well. She had her own needs and a desolate loneliness that had filled her when she’d shut her apartment door hours earlier and realized the only friend she’d had in the world was lost to her forever.
“Stop thinking,” he growled.
“Just fuck me,” she bit out, meeting his hard gaze with a glare of her own.
Their hips churned together in a desperate coupling. Not at all the sexy, teasing pummeling she’d come to expect—that in itself was an indication of his upset. His movements lacked finesse. He gave no thought for her pleasure, which he was always so careful to draw out—torturing her with her own desire.
Instead, his hands gripped her ass hard, pushing her up and down his cock, grinding her back against the cool tiles as he powered into her.
When he came, his eyes squeezed tight, his body grew rigid, and he held his breath for one endless moment. After his pulsing release waned, he dropped his forehead against the tiles. “Get out.”
Surprised at the harshness of his voice, she didn’t question him, just unwound her legs from his waist and slid down his body. She stepped out of the tub to dry herself with a towel while he remained inside, drawing the curtain closed behind him.
She couldn’t think of a thing to say. Despite the humid air inside the room, she shivered.
Damn. It sure as hell felt like she cared about the fact he’d tossed her out of her own shower.
I’m charging around my office and rooms, trying to get things tidied so I can charge through the rest of the week and accomplish all my goals without messy distractions. My plan is ambitious, but it has to be because I have sooooo many deadlines, back-to-back.
So, I found an affirmation—a positive quote I’m stating publicly—to tell myself and the world that I can do it. Just like the little red engine that could.
For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, share one of your positive affirmations!And no, I don’t stand in front of a mirror to recite them, but I do say them out loud. There is actually something very REAL about saying things out loud. Even if you’re the one speaking them, a switch in your brain (called the RAS) hears it and believes it. So that’s my woo-woo for the day. Share your favorites!