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Archive for 'COVID-19'

Payton Harlie: Love in Lockdown — Pandemic Partner with Benefits (FREE story!)
Friday, November 13th, 2020

Download your FREE copy of the latest installment of the Love in Lockdown story, PANDEMIC PARTNER WITH BENEFITS!

Lucy Caldwell may be stuck in quarantine, but she has her priorities straight. Once she’s out of lockdown, she isn’t taking any chances. Dating is fun, but safety comes first, and Lucy has a plan…

The LOVE IN LOCKDOWN authors are back with another short story! This one’s from Payton Harlie, another First Response alumni! Her story tackles the “how to meet a cute guy in quarantine” question! It’s cute, it’s short, and you’ll definitely be left with a happy sigh at the end.

Follow this link!

Saturday, November 7th, 2020

Reina Torres is back with another installment of her short story series, Sublet! We have more stories coming!

Download your FREE copy of the latest installment of the Love in Lockdown story SUBLET!

What happens when two exes have to live in an apartment built for one?

Reina is back with installment #4 of her story, SUBLET! And she’s not finished yet! Enjoy! And have you subscribed to this blog? You might want to do that so you don’t miss a single story! More lockdown stories from more wonderful authors are on the way!

Follow this link!

Genevive Chamblee: Finding Love in 2020
Friday, October 23rd, 2020

I know for many it’s spooky season, and most people are discussing horror and scary topics for Halloween. But honestly, hasn’t 2020 been scary enough without adding vampires, werewolves, and zombies to the mix? I mean, we’ve already had murder hornets, land hurricanes, and aliens or whatnot. Civil unrest lurks around every corner. Going to the grocery store is like entering a realm in The Matrix and trying to avoid Agent Smith, and staying at home feels like being trapped in Alcatraz.

Most of the world will agree that 2020 has not been phenomenal, and the majority of people have had their world’s thrown upside down in warp speed in a not so pleasant way. In fact, this year has left many people anxious and depressed. I believe one of the hardest adjustments that needed to be made was remaining at home mandates. For persons with families, remaining at home may not have been as lonely of an experience as persons who live alone. Even for extreme introverts who work from home, live alone, and value their privacy, not being able to go places likely dampened their mood, too. It’s like being a kid and being told not to touch something which makes the forbidden item even more desirable. And while it is easy to point out all the negative, it is more important to locate the good. When given lemons, make lemon drop martinis. (BTW, if you haven’t tried a lemon drop martini, it really should be on everyone’s bucket list in my opinion. But that’s not the point of this post.)

Since the pandemic began, I found myself watching less television. I would’ve thought my viewing would have increased. However, I found that I quickly ran out of material for binge-watching. But I did run across an interesting movie (unfortunately, I do not know the name of it because I didn’t catch it from the beginning) that was apparently filmed during the pandemic. It revolved around several couples coping with the stay-at-home city ordinances and how it affected their relationships. Well, that was the Hollywood (or wherever it was filmed) version, and it caused me to consider how people were coping with dating in the real world. So, I began doing some small-town investigation with my merry band of hobo friends, colleagues, and associates.

While dating during a pandemic certainly has its challenges, there are positives to be mentioned.

  • “I don’t know” is a thing of the past. Let me illustrate this with an example I’m sure most can relate to. Imagine spending the day with a group of your closest friends. It’s dinner time, and you’re all hungry. You ask the others what they want to eat. It’s a round of “I don’t care,” “it doesn’t matter,” “anything,” and “I don’t know.” Therefore, you throw out some suggestions. Friend One doesn’t like food X, and Friend Two got food poisoning the last time he/she was at Restaurant A. Friend Three is vegan and won’t eat at Restaurant B because all their dishes have meat or meat products. Restaurant C is too far out of the way for Friend Four who is driving, and no one wants to go to Restaurant D because it doesn’t have a bar. This one is too expensive. That one has bad seating. And the list goes on. After an hour of debate and frustration, your group ends up going to the first restaurant suggested. The pandemic restrictions reduced the number of options which simplified a lot of decision making.
  • Creative Planning. Traditional dates of going out allows the environment to do a lot of the work. For example, it’s pretty difficult mucking up a date at an amusement park (although I’m sure it’s possible). One gets on the rides, eat greasy foods, and play rigged games that they can never win. They aren’t inventing the fun. Rather, they are enjoying the environment that has been created for them. The best example I can give one that reflects on my childhood. Growing up, my parents would send me outside to play. This required me to invent ways to entertain myself. I looked around me and found something to do. That might have been skipping rocks across the bayou or catching crawdads. Or maybe it was braiding blades of grass into necklaces and bracelets. Any activity that I engaged in, I created. It wasn’t waiting for me. The pandemic is causing people to invent virtual dates. For example, some people set up cameras in their kitchens and cook a meal together. Others watch the same movie from their individual homes while Facetiming.
  • Saving money. Dates can be expensive, but not most pandemic dates. Many people dress up and sit in front of their computers for dates. During this time, for many, every penny saved is important. One does not need to spend a lot of money to have a good time. Some of the best dates are ones that cost zero bucks.
  • Being comfortable in one’s own skin. Speaking of getting dressed up, another trend that seemed to come out of the pandemic is the enjoyment of getting dressed up for something. Many people spent weeks wearing nothing but pajamas or joggers. Men gave themselves haircuts. Women didn’t bother with makeup. Having a date gave people reason to gussy up. But even when stay-at-home restrictions were lifted, many people continued to embrace this new sense of “naturalism.” That confidence comes out in dating. People aren’t putting on as many airs. It’s an “accept me as I am” attitude, which is beautiful because it means people are showing their authentic selves.
  • Improved communication. Virtual dates are all about communication. There isn’t anything there to distract. But it’s more than that. In this current environment, more people are finding their voice. People who have been reluctant to speak what they feel are more open. A colleague was discussing her dating experience. She has a tendency to not say anything when a man hurts her feelings, and she has put up with a lot in the past. The last man she dated ghosted her after their first sleepover. She texted him a couple of times before she realized what was happening. Previously, she would’ve spent weeks crying over it and wondering what she had done wrong. This time, she phoned him and told him that she deserved better than not having an answer to what had gone wrong with the relationship. After that, she seemed to get over the relationship a lot faster than previous ones. Another friend stated how the pandemic has made him more aware of what he’s looking for in a relationship. He stated that dating shouldn’t be an interview, but he knows which questions are important for him to ask early to determine if he wants to continue dating. He stated that during the pandemic he has gained a deeper understanding of himself and his part in his previous failed relationships. He is using this information to better his future dating experiences.
  • Beyond skin deep. I find this to be funny, but so many people have said this to me I had to include it. “Everyone looks the same,” one friend said to me. “They must have a personality because I don’t know what they look like beneath the masks.” A male associate stated that, prior to the pandemic, he placed a higher weight on physical beauty. “Eyes attracted me, but now it’s ears.” The reason this made me chuckle is because I have always had the Randy Travis’ Forever and Ever, Amen physical beauty fades; love shouldn’t. I think sometimes people fear aging, not because they fear nearing the end of life but because they fear being unloved. They fear, once their youth is gone, so is their value and relevance. Well, if beauty is all that one has to offer, that’s scary. But apparently, it takes a pandemic forcing people to cover up with masks for this to resonate for some people.
  • “I’m ready.” I think I have heard this from more male companions than female companions. It’s the realization that they have reached a point where they are finally ready to settle down with someone and make a commitment. A friend who was an avowed bachelor stated that the pandemic made him aware he had an empty space in his life. When he was able to go out with friends, he did not see vacant spots in his life. However, being alone in his home and seeing his friends in video chat with their families hit him in a different way. “My job shut down, and my night life dried up when all the local establishments closed. I would call my friends, and they would all be busy doing something with their families, or they would send me funny videos of them doing something goofy they’d do as a group. And I’d be alone for days with no real interaction. I began jogging in my neighborhood just so I could have human contact from six-feet away. I’m not saying I’m running to the altar tomorrow, but I will start taking relationships more seriously.”
  • Time management. A divorced friend stated that she had to relearn how to manage her time. She spent the days at home in Zoom meetings and helping her children with virtual school. She still had her daily household duties to tend. When it came to dating, she wasn’t leaving her children with a sitter to go out for the evening. “He had to see my dirty house and kids yelling in the background from the other room. He got a real view of what my life was like and an idea if he wanted to stick around and be a part of the craziness. It would make me so anxious,” she said. She continued with, “But I also had to learn to get my act together so that I would have my kids in bed and house cleaned before my dates. I began making schedules of when chores were to be done and by whom. I color coded things and used containers to organize my closets and shelves. I designed a homework area and enforced bedtimes. Doing these things not only helped simplify my life but made dating easier as well.”

That’s all I have. How has your pandemic experience been? Have you found any of these items to be true? What did you agree or disagree with? Let me know your thoughts and comments below. If you like this type content consider giving this post a like and follow.

And also, don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my sports romance Locker Room Love series.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him. Grab your copy of Ice Gladiators at or

Missed the first two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit

Defending the Net can be ordered at Crossing the line could cost the game.

Locker Room Love is a steamy standalone gay romance/ MM romance series revolving around professional hockey players. Set primarily in the Cajun and Creole bayous of south Louisiana, these love stories have a diverse cast of characters. These sexy athletes are discovering their own voice and the best romance of their lives, even if that isn’t their intention. Find tales of friends to lovers, enemies to loves, billionaires, bad boys, forbidden romance, first times, gay for you, and more. These alpha males are guaranteed to work up a sweat and melt the ice.

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, New posts are made on Wednesdays (with bonus posts sometimes on Mondays), and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou. I discuss all things Creole, Cajun, recipes, trivia, psychology, mental health, self-help, beauty, writing tips and, of course, romance. There’s a little something for everyone.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors or BookBub.

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

Until next time, happy reading and much romance. Keep safe.

Reina Torres: Get your FREE copy of Sublet–Part 3!
Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

Download your FREE copy of the latest Love in Lockdown short story!

Reina Torres is back with another installment of her series, SUBLET! If you haven’t read the first and second parts—no worries! She’s combined all three in this installment to make it easy for you.

Enjoy! And have you subscribed to this blog? You might want to do that so you don’t miss a single story! More are on the way!

In a nutshell, this is what SUBLET is all about…

What happens when two exes have to live in an apartment built for one?

Follow this link!

Just me, chatting away… (Contest)
Monday, October 12th, 2020

UPDATE: The winner is…Cara!

It’s hard to be chatty with one-handed typing. I say that, but I just finished a novella typing with one hand and one finger. It can be done if you’re properly motivated! No excuses!

I’ve been plotting my new book and another series I’ll be showing you soon. Well, as soon as I can get a cover for you to drool over. It’s not easy looking for the right series name, the right branded look for a cover. I love my Montana Bounty Hunters books’ “look”— sis (Elle James, if ya didn’t know) did an awesome job with that.

I spent (er, wasted an afternoon and evening looking for the right guy to be on the first cover. I still have no clue. Nothing jumped out to me from the usual sites. If any of you out there have recommendations for photo stock sites with really hot, rugged men, I’m game to go look!

I spent an hour cleaning my desk. If you could see the amount of crap I keep on my desktop (toys, cups of pens, those weird solar-powered dancing figures, notebooks, and on and on, you’d see what I mean. I’m not taking a photo because you’d call one of those hoarders shows or sic Marie Kondo on me, but I don’t roll with Feng Shui. I roll with clutter.

LawlessSo, tonight after midnight, Lawless releases! Expect fun, sexy times. Due to my hand, it’s shorter than what I’ve been writing lately, but it’s satisfying and sweet, and the heroine is badass in her own way. The hero is an ex-Ranger and presently a Texas deputy—so a guy who can handle thangs. And he has chest hair, which the guy on the cover clearly does not!

A few minutes ago, I went upstairs to start coffee for my dd. She’s got all four kids in the sunroom with the windows open. Outside, it’s sunny and just right—breezy with just a hint of cool. They’re gathered around the table out there with their school laptops and tablets, doing their homework. My dd’s in her groove in the mornings, making sure everyone is keeping up on assignments and getting to their zoom meetings on time. She does all that while doing dishes and laundry. She’s amazeballs.

2020 will be a year everyone in our family will look back on with mixed emotions. I think the fact we’ve pulled together as a family and spent so much time figuring out how to be happy will be something we’ll look back on with fondness. Everything we do is purposeful. Every little victory is worthy of celebration—a movie night, a special dinner.

Which gets me to the coming holiday…Halloween. I’d love your suggestions for making it fun and memorable. We’ll be skipping the door-to-door stuff and the many activities I’m sure most folks will still be doing around town (folks here aren’t much on science or masking). So, offer up ideas for things for us to do around the homeplace, and you’ll be entered to win a $5 Amazon gift card!

Jaap Boekestein: How I Got Seduced into Writing Romance (And Loved It) — Excerpt
Friday, October 2nd, 2020

“What do you truly desire?” Lucifer asks in the Netflix series.

As a romance writer, I ask the same question. Of course, I don’t have a suspect at hand, the potential readers of my story are safe at home, so I just ask the question to myself: What would the reader truly desire in this story? Luckily, the answer differs with every story. If I’m writing a cowboy romance, I see tough men, courageous and willing to best the wilderness to save their women. But when I write a romance with something like “behind the mask” as a theme, I see secrets and seduction, subtle smiles and surprises. And I can smell the leather and feel the wind with biker romance and so on.

Ah, writing romance is never boring! It’s always different and trying to get in the mind and soul of the reader, to seduce and titillate – yes even arouse  – her (or him… or them) is wonderful. I guess every writer likes to manipulate and surprise the reader a little. I know I do.

I haven’t always been a romance writer, and I still don’t write exclusively romance. Quite a few years ago, I started writing fantasy, science fiction, and horror short stories. In time, I branched out to genres like children’s stories, crime, and thrillers. Although I’m a short story writer at heart, I’ve done five fantasy novels, which had some romance.

For those who don’t know, I’m Dutch. I live in the lovely old city of Den Haag, the Netherlands. Although I had done a few English stories, back in 2015 I started writing in English in earnest.

Oh my, I felt like a kid in a candy store. The Dutch market for short stories is almost non-existent and very limited to a few genres. But the American and British markets! Wow! So many anthologies, so many genres—woohoo!!!!

I started writing romance stories. Well…kind of. Some anthologies were asking for horror-erotica and I thought: Hey, that’s interesting! Combining two strong emotions—lust and fear.

So I wrote horror-erotica for a while. I’m not really into slasher stuff, so I tried to keep it terrifying and sensual. It more or less came down to BDSM with monsters, which was great fun to do. Vampires yearning for the pain of sunlight, the werewolf wanting to tear apart his human mistress, a dark god doing knife play with two-feet-long fingernails on the body of his acolyte. Creepy and erotic. Trust me.

Through a path of weirder and weirder erotica (tentacle erotica, steampunk erotica, Cthulhu Mythos erotica, furry erotica to name a few) I also entered the field of more general romance/erotica. Stuff that could work in the real world, with real people. And hey, that was great fun, too!

I’ve been asked if the romance I write is based on my own experiences. Well, I wish! But for a part, they are inspired by real life.

I just came back from the dentist and walked back to the bus stop. A new crown, all was well. It was a sunny September day in The Hague, behind the Peace Palace, the neighborhood with all the embassies.

She was a pretty girl. No, a young woman. Slender, blond, some sporty, braided hairdo. Black suit-like outfit, without being really a suit. She was speaking on her phone.

“No, I can’t take public transport; I forgot my mouth masks.”

I turned to her. Shaven head, huge mirror shades, twice her age. But hey, today I wore a nice shirt, nice trousers.

“You want one?” I asked.

It took a short moment for her to realize what I was offering.

She smiled. “No thank you, I’m fine.”

I nodded and walked on.

I heard her say into her phone. “No, this nice gentleman was offering me a mouth mask.”

I smiled. Some courtesy, a nice thank you. All was fine.

The writer in me could think of a thousand different outcomes. Okay, a few dozen, probably. But I was happy with reality.

Offering a mouth mask. It was a nice pick-up line in these Corona times. I guess I wasn’t ever going to use it for real, but maybe I would use it in a story, one day.

Happy I took the bus home. Mouth mask and all.

This happened to me a while ago, and one day, I’ll use some of it for a story. Maybe with a different outcome…


You can find my stories in several anthologies, available on Amazon: Of course, there is the lovely First Response: A Boys Behaving Badly in which I have a story about a pair of handcuffs and the importance of keeping track of keys. [Delilah, can we have the cover and a link to amazon here?  Of course! 🙂 DD]

First Response: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology


Love in Lockdown! The First FREE Story is Out!
Friday, September 4th, 2020

I may have talked about this here before, so forgive me if I have. I got to thinking one day after seeing so many conversations on social media among authors not wanting to tackle the topic of the lockdown because we like to write romance, and how do you handle romances and settings where people intermingle with their communities and meet the loves of their lives when so many of us are having to self-isolate. I mean, how do couples find each other in the middle of a lockdown?

As well, we like to write stories that lift people up. How do you lift people up tackling a real-world issue when so many are grappling with depression and loneliness due to the current pandemic?

Well, I talked to author friends online, and we came up with this idea for a series of short-short stories, just 1,500 to 2,500 words long, that we want to offer for FREE to readers. Our passing-time-in-a-pandemic gift to you.

Authors will be hosted on my Collections website—that site that’s not all about me, but rather all about the anthologies I put together and the authors who contribute to them. We’ll all share promo duties to get the word out when a new story arrives. You might want to subscribe to the Collections site so you don’t miss a single FREE story. Just a thought!

While you’re enjoying these short freebies, of all different heat levels,  be sure to check out the authors, too. They’re a talented bunch. I bet you’ll find some new authors you’ll be eager to follow.

So, let’s start with the first of the stories coming your way…

SUBLET — Part 1 by Reina Torres

Click on the cover to head over to the Love In Lockdown webpage!