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Melanie Jayne: My Nightly Conundrum—To DNF or Not (Contest)
Monday, June 10th, 2024

Cue “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men to play in the background.

Besides writing romance, I am an avid reader. I try to read a book every two days.

Now, before you credit me with being a speed reader, I will admit that my husband and our bossy mastiff fall asleep early, so I have about three hours to read. I usually pick out a book and start after dinner with interruptions, and after the males are quiet, I can get my reading groove on.

Eighteen months ago, I decided to clean out my Kindle. I had books from 2012 that I had never read. So, I made a deal with myself:  read one old and then two new (published in 2023 or later) to make a dent in the TBR list.

For years, I finished the book no matter what. After I started publishing, I felt like I had to hang in and finish a book as a sign of commitment to the writing community.

However, life is too short for bad books.

I felt guilty for not finishing. I’d message my friends and defend my decision not to finish as if the “Kindle Police” were going to report me for having DNFs (Do Not Finish).

Then, I started to notice more people talking about not finishing books. What once had been a somewhat taboo topic was discussed openly.

I have reasons for not finishing. The first is if I find five proofreading/editing mistakes within the first three chapters. Authors are taught that the first three should grab the reader’s attention. So, misspellings, incorrect word usage, or poor grammar causes me to stop.

Recently, I’ve come across three published books where I believe the authors forgot to tap “Accept Changes” before uploading the manuscript and pressing “Publish.” These were not intentional cross-outs—no, they were unnecessary extra words. Again—DNF.

This is a hard rule for me—if the pet dies. I won’t finish and most likely won’t read anything else by the author. True story:  I almost dumped a friendship because she sent me a book where at the end, the dog died. I still feel upset about the poisoned pet, and I never read another book by that author.

Excluding Dark Romance, another stopper for me is when a main character is written to be so ugly and hateful that I can’t believe that they are worthy of love. There are times that I think that authors intend to create a strong, outspoken character and instead, they read as a total jerk. I try to keep toxic people out of my life, so I’m not letting them in my reading.

Filler. I accept that some stories are shorter than others. What makes me quit a book is when the author stretches out the tale with multiple-page passages in another language, recounts a prior scene two or three times, and repeats the same reasons for why the couple won’t work. I have a running joke with a friend about a series that we both love. In each book, the couple has officially committed and marching to their HEA. The author adds a final kidnapping, an explosion, or a car chase. Those events don’t add anything else to the story except an action scene and another deep kiss. If I discovered the series today, I might be annoyed by the “one more” to consider DNF-ing.

That brings me to the most difficult to explain—I didn’t connect with it. There are times that I just don’t like the book. It could be that I had figured out who committed the crime too early. A character is too stupid to survive in the real world. I will admit that as my years increase, I find myself getting irritated by characters in their early twenties who run crime syndicates, are running billion-dollar, large corporations, or find the answer to a problem that people have been working on for years.

The great thing about reading is that there is always another book to read. With the explosion of Monster Romance and Alien Romance shorts, I can devour two a night, and that makes me feel accomplished.

Now, I’m curious- What causes you to DNF? A Winner will be chosen at random to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

About the Author

 

Melanie/M. Jayne is the teller of tales of the Novus Pack and an Amazon Bestselling Author. See Me was a finalist for the Holt Medallion. In 2022, the Duchenne Vampire Series enriched her portfolio. She loves reading, luxury handbags, watching sports, and the Bravo Housewives. Learn more at www.readmelaniejayne.com.

Saturday Puzzle Contest: On this day…Ghostbusters released!
Saturday, June 8th, 2024

Okay, so you’re probably thinking my topic is kind of weird, but hear me out.

Coming up with topics on a daily basis isn’t always easy. Yes, I can talk about books, but doing that every day…? Boring. I have guests, so that changes things up. When I’m reaching for a topic, I love to check the calendar for weird holidays because I love an excuse to celebrate. Today’s holiday was VCR Day, and I thought about it, but got nothin’. So, I moved on. Then I thought about the History Channel’s website. Every day, they have a “This Day in History” post, so I headed on over to steal some ideas.

Some of today’s offerings were…

  • Muhammed died (632)
  • Robert F. Kennedy was buried (1968)
  • Apache chief Cochise died (1874)

Those are sacred dates, so I know better than to have fun with them. Then another one popped up.

I remember when the movie came out. I think I was pregnant/giving birth at the time, so I didn’t see it in the theaters, but back in the day, we had HBO and a new-fangled way of watching movies we wanted, whenever we wanted, called a VCR (see how I worked that holiday into here?!). Ghostbusters was one of the recordings we made so we could enjoy it whenever we wanted. When my family went with me to Germany for my second tour there, all those taped movies we’d made were sooooo important! Remember, that was before streaming, and sometimes, we only had one channel, AFN (Armed Forces Network) to watch. The library on post had a ton of classic movies (most in B&W) to check out, and I attribute my love of classic movies to that period. However, it was our library of movies recorded off of HBO that saved our sanity. There were many, many kids’ movies among them…

Anyway, Ghostbusters it is, and I did manage to find an image I could use without getting into trouble with a copyright, so enjoy the puzzle!

For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, solve the puzzle, then tell me what classic movies you might have seeing made into a puzzle.

Gabbi Grey: Are we allowed to have favorites? (Contest)
Thursday, June 6th, 2024

Hello Delilah!  Thank you for inviting me here to discuss my newest release.  As your readers know, I love writing short stories for anthologies.  Especially charity anthologies.  I’ve seriously lost count of how many I’ve done over the past five years.  My little part to help contribute to worthy causes.  I have to say, though, that my favorite anthologies are the LGBTQ ones.  Might this be because they hit close to home?  Yep, I can say that for certain.  This year, Love is All Volume 7s proceeds are going to a transgender charity.  I know several trans people in my life as well as having several friends whose children are nonbinary and trans.  That’s a hard road to go down, unfortunately.  The vitriolic rhetoric — and the outright lies told — hurt people I care for.  People I love.

Okay, so 10 authors have come together in this amazing anthology to bring you great stories of love across the LGBTQ spectrum.  This year, my novella is The Boyfriend Arrangement.  I admit, I had fun with this story.  I was given the trope of arranged marriage for another project that fell through.  In the end, I had started this cute little story that I decided to finish, keeping the anthology in mind.  This is the story of two young people, destined for marriage. Josette and Felix were born close together.  Their mothers are best friends.  Naturally, the two will marry.  And everyone’s just sort of gone along with this.  Felix has become an elementary French teacher.  Josette is an interior designer.  When Felix comes into his inheritance and buys a dilapidated old cabin, of course, Josette is going to do all the decorating.

There’s just the little step of renovations.

That’s okay, though, because Josette’s older brother, Jacob, is all about helping his younger sister and the guy she’s going to marry.  Okay, Jacob might’ve noticed Felix.  Their families are friends.  And, okay, Felix might have a crush on Jacob.  That’s… Yeah. A problem.  As he views his cabin with the woman he’s supposed to marry, he comes to the realization he doesn’t love her the way he’s supposed to.

I suspect you can guess the rest of the story — but I love the execution, and I hope readers will as well.  Love is All is a project close to my heart.  I thank you, Delilah, for letting me share it today.  I would love to give away a $5 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky commenter.  Easy one – what’s your favorite trope?  What will you one-click over and over again?  Leave a comment and random might pick you!

Love Is All Volume 7

Get ready to turn the page on love, acceptance, and making a difference with Love Is All: Volume 7!

This limited-edition anthology features swoon-worthy novellas and short stories by ten award-winning and bestselling authors, including A.D. Ellis, Chantal Mer, Gabbi Grey, Lee Blair, Piper Malone, R.L. Merrill, Skylar M. Cates, Sophia Soames, Susan Scott Shelley, and Xio Axelrod. Second-chance sweethearts, steamy encounters, and heartwarming friendships all await you.

All proceeds from the anthology will benefit Advocates for Trans Equality, an organization dedicated to protecting and empowering transgender individuals.

Love Is All: Volume 7 is only available for a limited time.

Links:
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/LIAV7
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Love-All-7-Xio-Axelrod-ebook/dp/B0CTHRJ3GH
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-is-all-xio-axelrod/1145597032
KOBO: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/love-is-all-volume-7
Apple:  https://books.apple.com/us/book/love-is-all-volume-7/id6502670886

The Charities

All proceeds from this year’s collection will benefit Advocates for Trans Equality.

Founded in 2024, A4TE brings together the National Center for Transgender Equality (a previous LIA beneficiary), and the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund — two powerhouse champions of trans equality.

About the Authors

Xio Axelrod

Xio Axelrod is a USA Today bestselling author of different flavours of contemporary romance. She also writes what she likes to call strange, twisted tales. Xio grew up in the music industry and began recording at a young age. When she isn’t writing stories, she can be found in the studio, writing songs, or performing on international stages (under a different, no-so-secret name). She lives in Philadelphia with one full-time husband and several part-time cats.

Chantal Mer

Chantal Mer is an author and optimist. Her stories explore relationships and what it means to be family. When she’s not writing about strong women, strong men, and strong love, she can be found walking her adorable dog, volunteering at her kids’ school (in the library, of course), teaching at the local university, and reading.

Chantal lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband, kids, Toffee the Wonder Dog, and vicious cat, Gracie.

Susan Scott Shelley

USA Today bestselling author Susan Scott Shelley writes stories with heat and heart, where love always wins. Her romances give readers lighthearted and emotionally satisfying escapes into happily ever after. In addition to crafting stories, she is also a professional voiceover artist and enjoys lending her voice to a wide range of projects.

She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and is an avid fan of her hometown sports teams. Her favorite things include running (honestly, it’s more like jogging), sports (especially hockey), hard rock (but will listen to anything from heavy metal to show tunes), and writing about people from all walks of life finding their special someone.

Lee Blair

Lee Blair is a queer author from Oregon who writes low angst, funny, M/M contemporary romance. She’s constantly amused by the antics of her two ginger cats, considers daydreaming about future trips to Scotland a part-time job, and is obsessed with Schitt’s Creek to an alarming degree.

Piper Malone

Piper Malone is an award-winning author of sweet and sexy romance.

Dog lover. Reader. Foodie. Coffee, please.

Gabbi Grey

USA Today Bestselling author Gabbi Grey lives in beautiful British Columbia where her fur baby chin-poo keeps her safe from the nasty neighborhood squirrels. Working for the government by day, she spends her early mornings writing contemporary, gay, sweet, and dark erotic BDSM romances. While she firmly believes in happy endings, she also believes in making her characters suffer before finding their true love. She also writes m/f romances as Gabbi Black and Gabbi Powell.

A.D. Ellis

A.D. Ellis is an Indiana girl, born and raised. She spends much of her time in central Indiana as a teacher in the inner city of Indianapolis, being a mom to two amazing teens, and wondering how she and her husband of nearly two decades haven’t driven each other insane yet. A lot of her time is also devoted to phone call avoidance and her hatred of cooking.
She loves chocolate, wine, pizza, and naps along with reading and writing romance. These loves don’t leave much time for housework, much to the chagrin of her husband. Who would pick cleaning the house over a nap or a good book? She uses any extra time to increase her fluency in sarcasm.
A.D. uses she/they pronouns.

R.L. Merrill

Whether she’s writing contemporary romance featuring quirky, queer, and relatable characters or diving deep into the supernatural to give readers a shiver, R.L. Merrill loves creating compelling stories that will stay with readers long after closing the book. Ro writes inclusive romance for the Happily Ever After collective, contributes paranormal hilarity to Robyn Peterman’s Magic and Mayhem Universe, and pens horror-inspired tales and music reviews for HorrorAddicts.net. A mom, wife, daughter, and former educator, you can find her rocking out in her Bronco with Great Dane pup Velma, being terrorized by feline twins Dracula and Frankenstein, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more…

Skylar M. Cates

Skylar M. Cates loves a good romance. She is happy to drink coffee, curl up with a good book, and not move all day. Her novels feature strong and passionate men. Skylar loves to craft stories where realistic characters are challenged with emotional situations. Although lately the laundry room is the farthest place she has visited, Skylar loves to chat with folks from all around the globe.

Sophia Soames

Sophia Soames is a Scandinavian, UK based, Author of contemporary MM romance. She writes stories of everyday people with kids and families living real life fairytales.

Cameron Allie: Looking for Red Hot Excerpts?
Monday, June 3rd, 2024

Do you struggle to figure out what to read next? Not sure which spicy book to pick up?

Look no further!

Starting in July I’ll be sending out a “I want sexy excerpts” newsletter once a week.

What’s in each newsletter?

  • A theme: Each week the newsletter will follow a theme. For example, shifters, vampires, fake relationships, holiday stories, etc. See below for a comprehensive list, so you know what to expect in each letter.
  • Three excerpts: Each week will feature three hot, spicy excerpts from different authors.

If I like the excerpt, where can I buy the book?

The availability of the stories will be a variety. Some will be wide, some in Kobo Plus, some from Kindle Unlimited, some on Ream, and yes, some will be free.

This sounds awesome! Where do I sign up?

Right Here!

Are you an author interested in being featured?

Sign up now, but hurry, the spots are filling up fast!

Author Sign Up

Will this continue in 2025?

If it’s successful and in demand by both authors and readers, then yes. If the sign-up form is full, and you would like to sign up for 2025, watch my social media and blog, or sign up for the newsletter itself. When the 2025 sign up goes live, I’ll add it to the weekly newsletter.

Weekly Themes:

  • July 19: Beach Reads/Vacation
  • July 26: Fake Relationship
  • August 2: Wolf Shifter
  • August 9: Vampires
  • August 16: RH/Why Choose
  • August 23: LGBTQ+
  • August 30: POC Authors
  • September 6: Teacher/Professor
  • September 13: Billionaire
  • September 20: Autumn
  • September 27: Fantasy
  • October 4: Dark Romance
  • October 11: Masked Men
  • October 18: Autumn
  • October 25: Halloween/Dark/Spooky/Horror
  • November 1: MC
  • November 8: Mafia
  • November 15: Forbidden Lovers
  • November 22: Friends to Lovers
  • November 29: Breeding/Pregnancy
  • December 6: Holiday
  • December 13: Fantasy/PNR Holiday
  • December 20: Holiday
  • December 27: Fantasy/PNR Holiday
  • January 3: Poly Relationship
Genevive Chamblee: Rock of Ages
Wednesday, May 29th, 2024

When most people think of types or subgenres of romance, they think of historical, regency, erotic, romantic comedy, inspirational romance, speculative romance, and suspense romance. This is expected as these are some of the most popular. There are others such as dark romance, steampunk romance, alien romance, and paranormal romance. But have you ever heard about rock romance?

Several years ago, I met an author who stated he wrote rock fiction. I was intrigued. While I had never heard of rock fiction, it made perfect sense. Most of my favorite romance movies have musical soundtracks. I write listening to a playlist. Many romantic evenings include music. So, why would it be farfetched to have music as a romance subgenre? But what does that look like exactly?

Over the months, as I spoke with this rock fiction author, I gained a clearer understanding of what this is. The name rock fiction sounds like a story about music. Well, it is, and it isn’t. Let me explain. Rock fiction is not necessarily about a character who is a musician or about music in general. For example, a book about Taylor Swift, probably wouldn’t be considered rock fiction if the plot was only an imagined account of her life. It would need to entail more than depicting her life and music. Rock fiction is more about the approach to storytelling and the inspiration of a story. It adapts the lyrics, concepts, and titles of a song, album, or an artist’s/band’s collection of work to a piece of fiction. The storylines, plots, and character arcs are taken directly from the music.

A close example of rock fiction would be the rock opera, Tommy, which was adapted from the music of the band The Who. The difference is that Tommy used film as a medium while rock fiction is in book, e-book, or audio form. Rock fiction goes beyond being “inspired” by music because the author incorporates much of the music in the story.

Using Taylor Swift as an example again, consider her song, “Fifteen.” I picked this song as an example because Taylor gives a clear-cut narration of a story. The song is about two fifteen-year-old girls who want to (and do) fall in love but have their hearts broken (or at least one of them does). A rock fiction story would have this as the plot and main characters. However, it would go a step further and include lyrics (maybe not quoted directly as that may tiptoe the lines of plagiarizing and sticky copyright violations) in the story. Some rock fiction stories may have obvious references or the references may be more subtle—nearly undetectable. Readers don’t need prior knowledge of the referenced musical material to understand or enjoy the story.

Additionally, rock fiction does not have to be “rock” music. It could very easily be country, rap, classical, bluegrass, jazz, hip-hop, R&B, or any other genre of music. As long as the author uses the music as a central base of the story, then it’s considered to be rock fiction. Since there are so many genres and subgenres of music, it’s practical to use “rock fiction” as a catch-all title. Otherwise, one would end up with all kinds of subgenres—metal fiction, folk fiction, alternative fiction, K-pop fiction, swing fiction, etc. The list would be endless.

Romance rock fiction is rock fiction with a romance at the heart.

And that’s it. Have you ever heard of romance rock fiction? Have you read any? What did you think? What is your take on the subject? Do you agree or disagree? Did you find this information helpful or informative? Did you learn anything new, or did it change your opinion? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section. Also, let me know if you would like me to cover more of these types of topics or dive deeper into this one. If you like this post, please click the like button and share. Your feedback allows me to know the content that you want to read.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance. Laissez le bon temps rouler.

If you’re not following my blog, Creole Bayou, what are you waiting for? There’s always room at the bayou.

NEWSLETTER! Want to get the latest information and updates about my writing projects, giveaways, contests, and reveals first? Click here and sign up today.

Want to chat about writing, mental health, Cajun cuisine, Creole culture, or just spill some tea? If yes, let’s get connected. Follow me on one of my social links. There’s plenty to choose from.

Locker Room Love

Locker Room Love Series

Are you searching for a sexy book boyfriend? You’ve come to the right place.

  • Out of the Penalty Box (book #1) One minute in the box or a lifetime out.
  • Defending the Net (book #2) Crossing the line could cost the game.
  • Ice Gladiators (book #3) When the gloves come off, the games begin.
  • Penalty Kill (book #4) Let the pucker begin.
  • Future Goals (book #5) The future lies between a puck and a net.

About the Author

Hi, I’m Genevive, a blogger and contemporary sports romance author. My home is in South Louisiana. If you like snark and giggles with a touch of steamy Cajun and Creole on the side, I may have your poison in my stash of books. Drop by the bayou and have a look around. The pirogues are always waiting for new visitors.

Anna Taylor Sweringen/Michal Scott: Mary Jane Patterson — First African American Woman to Receive a B.A. (Contest)
Sunday, May 26th, 2024

UPDATE: The winner is…BN!
*~*~*

Do pioneers think to themselves, “I want to be first” or does becoming a first happen because they choose not to accept limitations? I believe the latter was the case for Mary Jane Patterson.

Mary Jane was born enslaved September 12, 1840, in North Carolina. After her father gained his freedom, he took the family to Oberlin, Ohio, in the mid-1850s. There, Mary Jane completed preparatory coursework at Oberlin College in 1857. She then enrolled in their four-year program of classical studies for men instead of the two-year course of study for women. She was not the first African American woman to graduate from a college, but this made her the first African American woman documented to have received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1862. She graduated with high honors in 1862 and gave a graduation address on the Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi. Think of it. She does this while the Civil War is raging.

After graduation, she moved to Philadelphia and taught at Fanny Jackson Coppin’s Institute for Colored Youth. In 1869, she moved to Washington D.C. and taught at the Preparatory High School for Negroes. In 1871, she became their first colored principal and, except for one year when she served as assistant principal, held the position until 1884 when she resigned but continued to teach. During her tenure, the school grew from less than 50 to 172 students.

Like many African American women of her era, Mary Jane gave time and money to community organizations which focused on uplifting the race. Her involvement in women’s rights led her to help found the Colored Women’s League of Washington, D.C.

In Hallie Q. Brown’s Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction published in 1926, Mary Jane is described as one who “blazed a trail that many have followed and will follow, ever choosing the highest and hardest courses and ever overcoming.” She died at the age of 54 on September 24, 1894.

So once again I wonder if pioneers consciously decide “I want to be the first” or do they have a natural determination that just makes it so? I’d love to hear what you think. For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card share your response in the comments.

One Breath Away by Michal Scott

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.

Excerpt:

“Why, Miss Hamilton, I do believe you ‘re blushing.” His fingers held hers with a teasing yet possessive grip.

“I am not.” Her words shot out with a force she hadn’t intended. “I mean I don’t blush.”

“No?” A cheeky boyishness winked at her from eyes as dark as chocolate. He leaned down so his breath tickled her earlobe. “Not even if I kissed you behind your ear?”

She shrank back then stared up into the gaze showering her with attention. Her heart beat beneath her breast with a prisoner’s unease. An unease she knew well having once been a prisoner.

“You—you wouldn’t.”

His smile widened into a grin. “Only because I don’t want to embarrass you.”

The amusement in his voice coaxed forth a wet response that Mary clenched her vaginal muscles to stem. She swallowed repeatedly until she found her voice.

“You still haven’t answered me, sir. Of all the women here, why did you pick me?”

“Why not you?”

She blinked. Why not her? The answers swirled through her mind as easily as she and Eban swirled in this waltz.

Why not her?

Because she remained planted among the wallflowers by the time the musicians played the last song at every Safe Haven dance. Because she learned to hang back at the call of “Ladies’ Choice,” forewarned of rejection by the grimaces caused by her approach.

Because unlike desperate-for-a-man Felicity, Mary refused to dance on her back in some dark field just so she wouldn’t be a woman who ain’t been asked.

Ain’t been asked to court.

Ain’t been asked to spoon.

Ain’t been asked to the altar.

And never would be.

*~*~*

Buylink: https://amzn.to/2u5XQYY

Word Search Puzzle: Summer Beach Reads (Contest)
Friday, May 24th, 2024

UPDATE: The winner is…Dana Zamora!
*~*~*

Yesterday was the last day of school for our kids, here. The 10-year-old has already asked, “So, what are we doing today?” She thinks the summer is supposed to be filled with fun activities. It’s raining, and our pool still has a few more days to go before it’s clear and ready for swimming. She was disabused of the idea of swimming when the water is still cloudy when a water moccasin shimmied up from the cloudy depths the other day. No, we have to see the bottom of the pool, dear.

Today, I think, my daughter is leading her in some sort of art project. Last night, the kid reviewed my vast supply of yarn to find pretty bits for all the friendship bracelets she plans to make. We’re off to a start. Not going to say what kind. She’s going to make this exhausting. LOL

In the meantime, I’m wondering about your preferences for Summer Beach Reads. I came up with a list. For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, tell me the title of a book you plan to read this summer, or the type of book you prefer to read pool or beachside.