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Melanie Jayne: Lessons from My Mother
Friday, September 25th, 2020

A few days ago, was the anniversary of my mother, Betty’s, death from cancer. I’ve worked through the stages of grief. I celebrate her life and all that she taught me. Like most, I didn’t appreciate her lessons until years later. I’m going to share the top three with you.

#1—Compliments. We are not given a finite number of compliments. Give them often and spread them far and wide.

I work part-time in a beauty salon in my small town. They don’t really need me; clients can make appointments online, and there are only two stylists working at a time (due to COVID-19). They keep me around because I compliment freely. I praise the stylist’s work, the outcome, shoes, jackets, the sunny day. I say it all. The best part is that it makes me feel better to see a person’s face light up.

In the Writing World—I compliment often. I send messages to authors that I’ve never met when I discover their book and enjoyed it. I respond to posts that make me think or feel. It is an easy way to network, and I’ve made great connections that started with a simple comment.

#2—Pick Your Battles. Why waste energy on something you will never win?

I remind myself of this every day since it is election time. Especially, when I see posts on social media. I do my best not to engage, however, my “snooze” button is getting a workout. The only thing I can say is that if a person is acquiring their news from a Facebook post as their only source—I’m not sure that they can be educated.

In the world of Romancelandia, there is a battle brewing weekly or so it seems. I have not returned to twitter since the RWA debacle; I can no longer handle the vitriol. I do admit to following some of the interactions, but I rarely enter the fray. I will comment on the never-ending trademark filings for commonly used words.

I try to follow Rule #2 because fighting a battle takes energy and emotion. My goal is to use my energy on my writing, and if there is any leftover, then dusting my old house.

#3—Acceptance.  No one is perfect so why should we expect our friends to be?

You might be jealous—I have a friend who is the authority on everything. She is – just ask her.

I’m a part of a group message where we share our day to day victories and fails, our news, and our concerns. If I post that a friend received a cancer diagnosis—she’s had three this week. A mention of how you called somebody to express your sympathy at the loss of their parent—she tells you how you did it incorrectly. Somebody had a kitchen fire—she’s lived through two and the damage was much worse.

It’s exhausting and sometimes very frustrating. However, she has many good points, so I choose to overlook her responses, or I try to. I know I cannot change her, nor do I have the time to try. Yes, she can be an annoyance, but I’ve become used to her and I now “prepare” myself for her responses.

I could also go on about Betty’s rules concerning no white before Mother’s Day or after Labor Day—Take that Vogue! Her belief that you should never offer a beverage without a napkin. If you give a purse or wallet as a gift, you should always stash some coins and a dollar in it for luck. And finally, good-byes should take at least fifteen minutes.

My hope is that this fall you might try to incorporate one or more of Betty’s lessons into your life. It will enrich yours and others.

I’m Melanie Jayne/M. Jayne, and I write Romance. I live on a grain farm in central Indiana with my husband and our mastiff, Duncan Keith. I’m a huge sports fan and cannot wait for SEC football to begin. I have a deep attachment to The Real Housewives franchises and daytime court shows.

My books incorporate true stories from life and many of my characters are over the age of 35. My heroines are usually larger than size 16 and never apologize for their love of food and dislike of diets.

About the Author

Melanie Jayne/M. Jayne lives on a farm in Indiana with her husband and Duncan Keith her mastiff supervisor. She is addicted to trashy TV and TMZ.com. She writes The Novus Pack Series featuring a human psychic who lives amongst werewolves and several Contemporary Romance Series that feature characters over the age of thirty-five.

You can learn more about me and my writing here:
https://www.facebook.com/MelanieJayneAuthor
www.ReadMelanieJayne
on Twitter @1MelanieJayne
https://www.bookbub.com/authors/m-jayne
https://www.bookbub.com/authors/melanie-jayne
readmelaniejayne on Instagram

Vonna Harper: Where Inspiration Lives
Thursday, June 25th, 2020

Setting, for me, is where every book begins.

Yes, I love getting to know the characters that slip out of the shadows at the back of mind where they’ve been living, sometimes for decades without my being aware of them. I enjoy the plotting process which consists of waking up in the middle of the night to mull over possibilities, running down roads both promising and dead-end, and throwing possibilities into a Word program called “Notes”, but I have to have a strong picture in my mind of where everything happens before I can write the first word.

I love going for solitary drives accompanied by Neil Diamond going full blast while the world around me becomes part of me. I’m a mountain gal born and bred. I don’t understand cities. They don’t speak to me. But give me the wilderness and I come alive.

That’s true even when I’m writing erotica.

Case in point, I’m in the process of releasing two self-published books. Cry of the Wolves will hit the virtual shelves on the 29th. I haven’t set on a release date for the companion novella Call of the Wolves, sometime in July.

The two connected stories came to me unbidden. I had no idea that’s what would happen when I went for a hike near Crater Lake at a place known as The Gorge. The Rogue River of southern Oregon flows through The Gorge, or rather it fights to. As I explain in the forward for the two Wolves stories, an ancient volcanic eruption sent molten lava to the Rogue. At one spot, the river was squeezed into a narrow channel. Every spring during snow runoff, the river screams and boils as it struggles through the lava.

That’s where I found my characters. Each in their own way, they listened to and watched the ageless battle between rock and water. That wild place impacted them as deeply as it did me and gave rise to the ghost wolves. I’m including a couple of pictures I took. I just wish readers could feel the spray and sense the ground shivering.

A big part of the writing business consists of getting the word out, which is what I’m doing right now via a couple of projects designed to try to garner reviews.

In case you’re interested in getting your hands on some free ARC (advanced reader copies) in exchange for a voluntary review, I recommend becoming a member of Book Sirens, https://booksirens.com/advanced-reader-copies, and/or The Hidden Gems, https://www.hiddengemsbooks.com/.

A.C. Dawn: My Writing Journey
Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

I started my writing career as a ghostwriter. It was a great way to cut my teeth and hone my craft, but the pay was abysmal, and of course, other people took the credit for my work. So, last year I finally made the leap to writing for myself, and so far, the pay hasn’t been any better, but it’s been a blast! I’m back for another Boys Behaving Badly Anthology and have several more anthologies planned for the coming year. The most fascinating part of this journey has been developing my writing process and learning about that of other authors. It’s amazing how differently everyone approaches writing. Some authors meticulously plan out their work step by intricate step. It’s like a beautiful dance in colorful illustration before the first word is even put on the page. For others, they wade in with a vague notion or idea and just see where it goes. My process lies somewhere in the middle.

Typically, I have a rough outline of where the story will go with major plot points. How I get from point to point isn’t necessarily defined. Sometimes, the storyline drives the words, but more often, I find the characters and who they want to become influences the story the most. I’ve been astonished at how some of my stories have turned out!

No one was more surprised than me when I finished my latest short story, The Invisible Goddess, about Hestia, the Greek goddess of fire, hearth, and home. I call her the forgotten Olympian because she has almost no stories about her. She’s rarely mentioned at all in the myths. So, I reinvented her with the idea to make her bolder and write a bit of romance into her hum-drum life of keeping Zeus’s court at Olympus. What I ended up with was a fiery hot goddess who brings Olympus to the brink of war over her hand and in the middle of it all, a primordial god of darkness stirring the pot, and the heroine’s heart. The god of darkness wasn’t even in my original outline of the story! This is the coolest part of writing. I love it when my imagination gets churning, and suddenly, a story that I never even realized was there materializes on the page. I look back at this short story and wonder where the heck it came from!

Aside from how writers approach the structure of their stories, I also find the logistical aspect of how authors work intriguing. Some authors write every day, 8 hours a day. It’s their job, and they treat it as such. Of course, that whole time isn’t necessarily spent spinning words onto the page of their latest and greatest novel. A lot of it is spent working social media, responding to emails, editing, and updating their website and blog. Some authors have a particular place they like to write, or they have a prewriting routine they do. Other authors don’t touch their keyboard for days or weeks. Then, they sit down and binge write for days on end. Again, I find myself somewhere in the middle.

First Response: A Boys Behaving Badly AnthologyI’m not cool enough to write full time- yet! One of these days…. But for now, my writing must fit in with a full-time job as a nursing instructor, a 21-acre farm, and a family. I don’t have time for rituals or routines- other than coffee. There is always time for coffee! I fit writing in whenever and wherever. I often peck away at my keyboard at my daughter’s horse riding lessons and scribble ideas on the back of my grocery list while waiting in line at Costco. I wish I was one of those disciplined souls that would get up 2 hours early and write before work. Countless failed early morning exercise aspirations have proven that it isn’t a sound strategy for me! My main goal is to write a little bit every day. Sometimes, it’s literally a single sentence, and sometimes, when the writing gods smile upon me and the stars align, it’s pages. In the end, it always seems to come together.

Anthologies, like the latest Boys Behaving Badly with my gracious hostess, Delilah Devlin, attract me because I can write tons of different storylines, and they’re typically short story to novella lengths. I have several going at the same time. One of the other things I’ve discovered about my writing process is the stories and characters often need to marinate at different points along the way. Sometimes, we gotta give each other a bit of space! I also like to sleep on my stories. Seriously, I do my best writing as I am falling asleep. I’ll turn a particular point around and around in my head, and in that semi-dozing state, my mind forgets boundaries, conventions, and the distractions of daily life. Suddenly, the imagined world is possible and some of my best ideas have come from this technique (Ok… I’m not sure that falling asleep is a technique, but I’m going to go with it!). I’ve also utterly annihilated storylines and caused myself tons of extra rewrites because I came up with a scene that I just couldn’t live without. I guess that’s why they call it a process!

I will continue to hone my practice and do hope to transition to writing full time. I have dreams of writing full-length novels with glossy dust jackets adorned with my picture and having a fan base that stretches beyond blood relatives! For now, I’ll continue to grab the time as I can find it and inspiration where it is granted. I can’t wait to see where my journey takes me next. I hope that you’ll join me along the way!

My website and latest releases, including The Invisible Goddess coming this fall, can be found at acdawn.com or wander over to my Facebook page and follow me there!

As always, many thanks to Delilah for letting me pop in! Until next time…

Here’s a picture of my home base in north Georgia…

Three weeks in… (Puzzle & Contest)
Tuesday, April 7th, 2020

UPDATE: The winner is…Pansy Petal!
*~*~*

Psst! Just a quick reminder!
This offer is ending in just a couple of days!
Get your free read! Lily’s Last Stand

So, here we are in our third week of lockdown. It has been three weeks now, right? Hard to tell. The days blend together.

On the pro side of things (I don’t let myself think about any cons!)—I’m nearing the end of another book! Yay! My dd has been decorating/rearranging things in the house. It’s so pretty now! Her attention has now turned to the storage sheds. I’m not sure how that means multiple trips to the dump and the burn pile, but she has warned me not to look—so for my mental health, I have not! The kids have really liked their online classes and assignments. Sure, they miss their friends, but they’ve been hanging out on TikTok and FaceTime. They aren’t feeling horribly isolated. Not yet, anyway. And now, Arkansas has made the hard decision to close the schools through the end of the school year. What a relief!

Today, in addition to hopefully getting to the end of my book, I begin my #100dayproject art challenge! I’m stoked! I haven’t done anything to prepare, so I’ll be busy scrambling to do my first pieces. I’m sharing everything I do on Instagram. The good and the bad. (I’m sure there will be lots of horrific, too! 🙂 ) An artist, I am not, but I do love working with paints and color, so it feeds something inside me. Makes me happy. That’s the point.

So, three weeks in, how are you feeling? I saw something from Dr. Fauci saying that our return to normal will mean a “new normal.” Makes me sad that we will forever be hyper-aware of what we touch, who we stand next to, and that this disease will continue to be with us. I’m so very thankful that my family lives in a rural area, away from other people. I can’t imagine how paranoid people living in cities will become.

On a lighter note, I have another puzzle for you! It’s something fun! Solve the puzzle, then answer me this for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!

If you were to write a YA book using this picture as the cover,
what would the story be about?

2019 is at an end…
Tuesday, December 31st, 2019

2019 was not a good year for me.

After a long illness, my father passed away in March. His care, up to the time of his death, placed a pall over everyone. We knew what was coming. We took care of his needs—getting him to dialysis, cleaning the ulcers on his feet, the day to day of helping a mostly wheelchair-bound man get around… We didn’t mind any of that. We just wanted him comfortable and happy. After his death, personally, I felt drained of energy and creativity. Mourning is a malady, just like flu, and it also makes you susceptible to every bug going around. So, I barely wrote.

That’s why this list of releases for 2019 is so short. I’ve always been a prolific writer, but I couldn’t make myself sit at my computer and do the work. If you missed any of these releases—some new works and some re-worked previous releases—the links are embedded here:

1. 01/22/19 – ANIMAL, Montana Bounty Hunters series
2. 03/11/19 – ALONG CAME A SPIDER, Men in Uniform Anthology
3. 04/30/19 – STRANDED, A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology
4. 05/14/19 – GILDED CAGE, Femme Surnaturel series, reissue
5. 07/14/19 – NEW ORLEANS NIGHTS, SEALs in Paradise series
6. 07/30/19 – QUINCY DOWN UNDER, short story, reissue
7. 08/12/19 – BIG SKY WEDDING, Montana Bounty Hunters series/Brotherhood Protectors crossover
8. 08/30/19 – MAMBO’S DOOR, Femme Surnaturel series, reissue
9. 09/24/19 – QUINCY, Montana Bounty Hunters series
10. 11/05/19 – HARVEST MOON, Beaux Reve Coven series

My favorites projects to work on from the list were…

Animal Stranded Hot SEAL, New Orleans Nights Big Sky Wedding Quincy
 

We lost my grandmother, who also lived with us, in 2018, after months and months of in-home 24/7 care. We lost dad in 2019. At the end of this year, my mother’s health has taken a hit. She’s spending the New Year holiday in the hospital, while we wait for the doctor’s to tell us what her future will be.

I’ll be glad to see the end of this year. I’m not very hopeful on the home front for 2020, but I do have a plan to do better on the writing front… More about that tomorrow.

I’d love to hear how you deal with sadness. Any advice would be appreciated.

DEADLINE EXTENDED! Call for Submissions: FIRST RESPONSE: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology
Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

FIRST RESPONSE: A BOYS BEHAVING BADLY ANTHOLOGY
Editor: Delilah Devlin
Deadline: November 15, 2019 December 10, 2019

FIRST RESPONSE is open to all authors.

Editor/Author Delilah Devlin is looking for stories for a romantic erotica anthology tentatively entitled FIRST RESPONSE: A BOYS BEHAVING BADLY ANTHOLOGY.

Why write a short story for this collection? Well, it’s certainly not about making a lot of money, so why do it at all? I’ve said this before, but here are my thoughts…

Writing a short story for a call for submissions is a chance to flex your writing muscle! It can be a chance to experiment with a genre you’ve never written. If you’ve never written a story in first person but don’t want to begin by writing an entire novel using it, start short! For myself, I’ve written stories in new genres or with fresh themes that ended up being so much fun to write they’ve spawned entire series.

You have a deadline! I don’t know about you, but I have trouble keeping my butt in the chair without one!

It’s a promotional opportunity! If selected, you’ll be joined by 12-15 other authors for the launch, sharing your audiences and, hopefully, picking up new readers along the way. Having your story in the collection is another chance to be “seen.”

And remember, you retain the rights to your story, so you can republish it for individual sale or give it away to attract subscribers to your newsletter. You might even decide there’s more story to tell and expand it into a novel!

Here’s what I’m looking for…

FIRST RESPONSE: A BOYS BEHAVING BADLY ANTHOLOGY will include stories that satisfy the reader who craves stories about those brave people who sweep into therescue, regardless of the dangers. Here are a few ideas…

When an alarm goes off in a high-rise apartment building, our heroine is trapped in an elevator while fire spreads in the floors above her. Who will provide her comfort until she can be rescued? An ex who’s a fireman with local FD? Perhaps the heroine is the pilot of a spaceship on the edge of the galaxy when her ship is attacked, and she’s forced to land on uninhabited planet. Who will come to her rescue? Will he be human? The vessel of a woman attempting a solo voyage around the world is sinking in the middle of the ocean. Will a pirate be her only hope?

Don’t limit your imagination to these ideas! Just remember, our “boys” have to behave badly—to give the rescuee just what they always secretly craved… Have fun with the concept.

I’m open to any subgenre of erotic romance you want to write. I’ll accept contemporary, historical, science fiction, or paranormal stories, and I won’t be picky about whether the stories are hetero, LGBT, ménage… Basically, you, the author, can go anywhere your imagination takes you so long as 1) a character is in jeopardy, and 2) the story is a romance, and 3) you have a bad boy somewhere in the pages!

The anthology will be sold at a low price—my intent is exposure for you and your writing. The more readers reached, the better! You will retain the rights to your story so that, at a later date, you can republish your stories individually.

I’m seeking hot and inventive stories from authors with unique voices, and above all, I’m looking to be seduced by tales filled with vivid imagery and passion.

Published authors with an established world may use that setting for their original short story.

This is erotic romance, so don’t hold back on the heat. Stories can be vanilla or filled with kink, but don’t miss describing the romantic connection between strong-willed individuals learning to trust and love one another. A deep sensuality should linger in every word. Keep in mind there must be a romantic element with a happy-for-now or happy-ever-after ending. Strong plots, engaging characters, and unique twists are the ultimate goal. Please no reprints. I want original stories.

How to submit: Prepare your 2,500 to 5,500 words story in a double-spaced, Arial, 12 point, black font, Word document (.doc or .docx) OR rich text format (.rtf), with pages numbered. Indent the first line of each paragraph half an inch, and double space (regular double spacing; do not add extra lines between paragraphs or do any other irregular spacing). U.S. grammar (double quotation marks around dialogue, etc.) is required.

In your document at the top left of the first page, include your legal name (and pseudonym, if applicable), mailing address, email address, and a 50-words or less bio, written in the third person, and send to boysbehavingbadlyfirstresponse@gmail.com. If you are using a pseudonym, please provide your real name and pseudonym and make it clear which one you’d like to be credited as. Authors may submit up to 2 stories. I will respond no later than January 30, 2020 with decisions.

Payment will be $25.00 USD, ninety days after publication at the end of that month.

Who am I?

Delilah Devlin is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of erotica and erotic romance. She has published nearly two hundred stories in multiple genres and lengths, and is published by Atria/Strebor, Avon, Berkley, Black Lace, Cleis Press, Ellora’s Cave, Entangled, Grand Central, Harlequin Spice, HarperCollins: Mischief, Kensington, Kindle, Montlake, Penthouse, Running Press, and Samhain Publishing.

Her short stories have appeared in multiple Cleis Press collections, including Lesbian Cowboys, Girl Crush, Fairy Tale Lust, Lesbian Lust, Passion, Lesbian Cops, Dream Lover, Carnal Machines, Best Erotic Romance (2012), Suite Encounters, Girl Fever, Girls Who Score, Duty and Desire, Best Lesbian Romance of 2013, and On Fire. For Cleis Press, she edited Girls Who Bite, She Shifters, Cowboy Lust, Smokin’ Hot Firemen, High Octane Heroes, Cowboy Heat, Hot Highlanders and Wild Warriors and Sex Objects. She also edited Conquests: An Anthology of Smoldering Viking Romance, Rogues: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology, Blue Collar: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology, Pirates: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology, and Stranded: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology.

Direct any questions you have regarding your story or the submission process to me at boysbehavingbadlyfirstresponse@gmail.com.

Carmen Webster Buxton: The Real-Life Crisis That Led Me to Write a Science Fiction Romance
Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

One Sunday in May, many years ago when I was in college, I got a call from my sister. Since it was Mother’s Day, I was expecting that she had called merely to remind me to call our mother, but it wasn’t that. She was calling to warn me that Mom was a mess because our father had just that morning left her. I found out later that after 28 years of marriage, Dad had learned that a woman he had known more than 10 years before, the wife a fellow naval officer, was now a widow. He had been to see her and had received enough encouragement that he had found an apartment and was leaving Mom.

A pretty crappy thing to do, no? And on Mother’s Day, too! Our family was in shock for years. Mom was especially hard hit because she had been a Navy wife for 20 years of her marriage. We had moved every two or three years. She had a college degree, but had never worked outside the home or had a chance for a career of her own. Even after he got out of the Navy, we moved twice for Dad’s job.

I spent a lot of time pondering whether my mother was better off knowing the truth about how Dad felt about her, or worse off because she had been so dependent on him for so long and was now alone. I could never decide. Neither alternative sounded good.

It was many years later, after I had started writing science fiction, that my parents’ divorce planted a seed in my brain. What would life be like if there was no such thing as divorce? What if finding a mate was a matter of biology and not feelings? And furthermore, what if a mated-for-life pair experienced total empathy with each other? They couldn’t then hide their true feelings. This was obviously not possible with humans, so I came up with a whole new species. I named their planet Wakanreo and the people Wakanreans.

Once I got going on the story, I had two main tasks. First, I had to decide how this quirk of biology would affect Wakanrean history and cultures. Second, I had to decide how it would affect individuals, more specifically my protagonists.

For the first task, I decided that one effect of uncontrolled life-long pairing off would be that Wakanrean society is less stratified than ours. Even if there was an aristocracy, arranging marriages only with other aristocrats wouldn’t be possible. Ergo, people could not be kept in their “place.” In modern time, a corporate CEO could step away from his or her desk and suddenly be mated to the office cleaner. Also, being good looking counts for a lot less. No one tries to alter their looks to attract a mate because that doesn’t work. Since biology does the deciding when it comes to mating, there would not be cultures with different family structures—no polygamy, as such, although I did allow for the rare instance when one person pairs off with two others simultaneously. And all cultures have to accept the results of biological mating. If you bond to someone of the same gender, or to two people instead of one, everyone knows it’s not a choice. Sex is in no way related to morality.

As for how this circumstance affects individuals— are Wakanreans better off than humans or worse— I decided that would vary. Luck is very much the decider; if you are a kind person and you bond to another kind person, then the chances are you will both be happy with each other and thus happy in life (Although you could make that case for human marriage, too, I think). But on Wakanreo, if you are a kind person and you bond to a selfish, cold-hearted person, you are truly out of luck. If they dislike you or hate you, you will feel it. And since you can’t divorce a biological process, you are stuck for life. In the end, I decided that Wakanreans are luckier than humans in that they can’t be deceived in a mate, but less lucky in that they have fewer options.

Of course, Wakanreans exist only in my head, and in my books. This is one of the few instances where I knew where a story idea came from. Usually a situation or a scene just pops into my head, but for Alien Bonds, I knew exactly what had planted the idea.

NOTE: the views expressed in this post are solely those of the author and not the SFR Brigade.

Alien Bonds

A story of two very different people from two very different cultures, a sort of AVATAR combined with PRIDE & PREJUDICE. In ALIEN BONDS, two lives are changed in an instant. Industrial chemist Dina Bellaire travels all the way to the planet Wakanreo to advance her career. Her carefully planned life goes up in flames the second she meets Kuaron Du, a Wakanrean who makes his living singing ancient songs in a dead language. Both of them know they can’t go back to the way they were before they met. They just have to convince the rest of the universe that what happened to them is real.

Get your copy here!

About the Author

A voracious reader since childhood, Carmen Webster Buxton spent her youth reading every book published by Ursula LeGuin, Robert Heinlein, and Georgette Heyer. As a result, her own books mix far-future worlds, alien cultures, and courting customs.

Carmen was born in Hawaii but had a peripatetic childhood, as her father was in the US Navy. Having raised two wonderful children, she now lives in Maryland with her husband and a beagle named Cosmo.

Carmen’s blog http://carmenspage.blogspot.com/
Carmen’s Amazon Page https://www.amazon.com/Carmen-Webster-Buxton/e/B004V8MM8U/
Carmen on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carmenwebster.buxton
Carmen on Twitter https://twitter.com/CarmenWBuxton