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Archive for 'COVID-19'

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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!

Back to school…or not? (Contest)
Sunday, August 23rd, 2020

UPDATE: The winner is…Amy Toohey!

Tomorrow’s the big day. Only, this year, it’s going to be very different from previous years.

This year, we didn’t have to buy a bunch of new school clothes or backpacks and lunch bags. This year, we had to make trips to the schools to pick up computers and tablets and practice logging into school websites, because in our little town, the school district offered families the option of in-school or virtual instruction, and we chose the virtual route.

We did it for many reasons, tops being—COVID-19. We want everyone to stay safe—students and adults—and when schools can’t prevent outbreaks of head lice in classrooms, we kind of figure they won’t be able to do a lot against an easily transmissible disease. Related reason: They won’t be able to do a lot to prevent outbreaks, so we’ll be ahead of the game when schools shut down again.

The kids were split. The boy hates not being able to hang with friends. The littlest girl will miss being queen bee of the classroom (she was the teacher’s pet last year), but she also loves being with her mama. The oldest girl likes the idea of doing classes online because she’ll have plenty of support from her mom and me when she runs into things she doesn’t understand (math!). They’ve found the self-isolation both fun (because we’ve been very creative about making little things into “events”) and lonely. FaceTime is a sanity-saver, but most of their friends are going back to the classroom, so I worry that their friends will drift away.

Still, we had little choice. With two elderly persons in the house, and one child a two-time cancer survivor, we knew from the outset what we would do if the opportunity was provided.

So, how to make it work and not go nuts?

My daughter has spaces throughout the house for the kids to have privacy to do their lessons. We’re setting alarms so they all start their work at the same time. If they finish early, they have the rest of the day free to do what they want. We’re lucky we have a big house to give everyone their space. If she still lived in her previous house, she said she would have set up posterboard cubicles to separate them at the kitchen table, anything so their line of sight wouldn’t include someone they could start a fight with. We’re an Irish family—there are always a lot of noisy opinions being thrown around.

How will this affect my writing schedule? We’ll see. I imagine mornings I’ll be standing by to provide assistance. Both of us will be running from room-to-room to keep kids on task. When the afternoon comes around—that will be my time. I have to stand firm. Hopefully, my dd can take a nap. 🙂

The upside of all of this? We’ve never been closer as a family. And who wouldn’t want to spend all the time they could with this one?


For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, answer me this…

How are schools where you are handling school reopenings?
Plus, bonus points for anyone with great ideas to keep kids happy at home!

Last day of July! Open contests! NEW PUZZLE-CONTEST!
Friday, July 31st, 2020

UPDATE: The winner is…Elaine Mulder!

I checked the calendar this morning and had to do a double-take. We’re at July 31st! July 31st! Has this year flown by for you like it has me? Sure, it’s been a very strange year. One for the history books in so many ways. A year where we’re living from one disaster to another. Plus, we’re stuck at home.

I had to think back to my childhood where we stayed glued to the TV through JFK’s assassination, the moon landing, the Viet Nam war. (An aside, one of my most vivid memories was watching a reporter get shot and having a South Vietnamese medic wrapping his leg with a tourniquet—while he continued his report!) Now, we (maybe just I?) can watch news 24/7. I’m listening to the news while I’m typing this! It’s crazy. Not healthy, I’m sure, but I feel like I have to know the second when the zombie apocalypse starts! Because that’s next, right?

In the meantime, it’s the end of July. I did plenty of work this month but don’t yet have a new book to share. That happens in August.  Check out Cage, if you’re ready for another sexy bounty hunter. I did a s*$t-ton of editing for other folks. I painted my ass off. I spent a lot of pool time with the kids. So, I wasn’t lazy. I just wasn’t writing fast enough. I realize I’ve been using my family’s self-isolation as an excuse to…watch more movies with the family, participate in meal preparation, playing with the little ones, playing with a new hobby that provides me joy… Maybe that makes me a bad writer, but I’m not caring. 🙂

These contests are still open!

  1. Susan Saxx: Nathan Unwrapped (Contest) — Win a FREE book!
  2. Storytime — A Puzzle Contest — Win an Amazon gift card!
  3. Gabbi Grey: Why gay romance? (Contest) — Win an Amazon gift card!

The Puzzle-Contest

For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, tell me the story that goes along with this picture! 

Fun things to do in COVID-Times…? (Contest)
Friday, June 19th, 2020

UPDATE: The winner is…Michelle Oxrider!

This was me with the fam yesterday (dd is taking the pic; the guy second from the left is my grandaughter’s boyfriend). While we have plenty to do to keep us busy around the old homestead to combat boredom, we really needed a break. Since we had our own innertubes, we loaded up and headed out early yesterday to avoid any crowds on the river. Other than some kayakers, we had the river to ourselves for four hours! Doing it on a weekend would have been out of the question because—too many people, and we’re still self-isolating as best we can.

Yes, self-isolation is still a thing here with numbers in Arkansas on the rise. We have way too many people who still think COVID is no worse than the flu, and who refuse to mask or keep their distance. Our schools are trying to figure out what next year will look like—whether they will offer at-home options to folks who’d rather not let their kids mingle and bring home the virus. We’re praying we’ll have a choice, or we might have to go the official homeschool route, which we really don’t want to do.

So, back to our tubing day… We brought water and snacks and plenty of sunscreen. The river is shallow in a lot of places, so we floated, hit the shallows, and picked up our tubes to walk to the deeper waters and floated again. I’m not as nimble getting in and out of a tube onto sifting, silty riverbed, but my SIL is a big guy and strong, so he helped me when I needed it. We laughed and paddled and lazed. The little ones had their tubes tied to the adults’ tubes. We’re all swimmers, so no vests. All in all, it was a lovely morning.

We’re already trying to map out our schedules to see when we can do it again. The kids are ready for more adventures. We’ve been trying to think out of the box. We’re lucky we live in the country, so there’s plenty of outdoor area for them to play. We have a pool—another huge plus. Still, we all get cabin fever.

We bought an outdoor projector to watch movies, but with mosquitoes already out in force, we can’t do an outside movie night until Fall.

Do you have any suggestions for things a family can do “out in the world” and still be safe? Answer for a chance to win your choice of a download of one of my books!

N.J. Walters: Summer Fun at Home (Drink Recipe)
Thursday, June 18th, 2020

It’s been a stressful year and many of us will be staying closer to home this summer. If you expect to be spending more time in the backyard this season, here’s a cool and refreshing adult beverage you can make ahead of time and enjoy whenever you like.

Summer Slush

1 – 12 oz can of frozen orange juice
1 – 12 oz can of frozen lemonade
Âľ cup of sugar
5 cups of water
2 cups of vodka

In large freezer proof container, mix in order given and freeze.
Serve ½ glass of slush with 7 up or ginger ale.

Things you can do at home!

Now that you have your drink, here’s some things you can do at home this summer.

1. Throw an indoor picnic. On a rainy day, spread a blanket on the living room floor, thrown down some pillows and enjoy picnic foods—fruit, cheese, crackers, fried chicken, pasta salad, or whatever you desire. If it’s an adult picnic, you can throw in a bottle of wine, light a candle and make it romantic.

2. Have one night a week where you try a new recipe. Get your family involved and all of you take turns choosing. They don’t have to be complex recipes—unless you’re so inclined. Keep it simple and fun. Fire up the grill if you have one.

3. Dessert night! I’m sure you’re seeing a theme here. Spend a day baking some tasty treats and enjoy. Or recreate a traditional English tea, complete with scones and cream.

4. Have a movie marathon day. Pick a movie series, load up on snacks, and watch them back to back. Lord of the Rings, Die Hard, Bourne Identity, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Mummy. There are plenty to choose from. Or have a theme movie day—Disney, horror, comedy.

5. Take a walk or a drive somewhere different. Doesn’t have to be far. We all tend to be creatures of habit and take the same routes or go to the same places.

6. Read a book. Take yourself out to the backyard, the balcony, or walk to a park (maintaining social distancing) and enjoy a few hours.

And if you’re looking for something to read, you might want to check out ARCTIC BITE, the second book in my Forgotten Brotherhood series, out now.

Arctic Bite
Forgotten Brotherhood, Book Two

Being immortal doesn’t mean you can’t die. It just means you’re damn hard to kill.

When Alexei Medvedev joined the Forgotten Brotherhood—paranormals hired to assassinate other paranormals—he knew it wouldn’t be a cake walk. But his next target is one of Death’s own Reapers gone rogue. For the first time since he started this gig, “damn hard to kill” feels more like “damn near impossible.”

Tracking Cassie Dobbs brings him to a remote bar in small-town Alaska, where this hot-as-hell Reaper is casually serving drinks, as if she doesn’t have a bounty on her head from Death himself. Alexei is dangerously intrigued. Everyone in the Brotherhood knows the first rule: don’t fall for your target.

But Alexei soon has bigger problems to face than an unexpected attraction. They only send assassins after those who deserve to die…or so he’s been made to believe. Now that he’s met Cassie, though, he’s not so sure.

What if everything he’s been told is a lie, and the person he’s been sent to kill is the only one who knows the truth?


About the Author

N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.

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The way things work out… (Open Contests/Giveaways!)
Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

Sometimes, things work out the way they’re supposed to.

Take for example, the #100dayproject, which I’ve been completely faithful to since I began on April 7th (I’m on Day 51 of the challenge!). I planned to participate, not knowing 1) how difficult it was to produce a single piece of art every single dang day, and 2) how much I’d need something to put all that effort into.

Sure, as a writer, I create almost daily. But, unless I’m in the buzzy tail-end of a story when the action is speeding up, writing feels like work, and I know I can do it and do it well. The only challenge I face, these days, is getting to the end when I’d rather be doing anything else. However, I am not a mixed media artist. I can’t draw worth a flip, and I don’t know a lot about the different mediums. Over the past few years, I’ve only dabbled. So, I accepted the challenge, and then made my commitment very, very public by announcing it and then posting my daily attempts at art on FB and Instagram. Sometimes, with embarrassing results!

The challenge came along at the perfect time because, now that we’re living in Corona-time, we all need reasons to stay home. I love getting on FB and seeing folks who are baking for the first time ever or building something in their yards that they’d been promising themselves to do for years. My dd has been getting after it, too. She built a goat pen and bought goats! She also built a fire pit in the yard near the pool, and she bought a projector so we can watch movies outdoors, with a fire and lots of citronella candles going to keep away the mosquitoes!

Some states are loosening their stay-at-home orders. Our state never implemented any. However, we’ve been doing our own sheltering, keeping everyone close to home, with only rare visitors and only those who’ve also sheltered. We plan to do this for as long as we need to keep everyone safe. So, we’ll be looking for new challenges and around-the-home projects.

How about you? Are you still self-isolating? Have you finished any longterm projects on your To Do list?

Oh, and here’s my #100dayproject–Day 51 entry. 🙂


These contests and offers are still active!

  1. Thom Collins: The Anthem Box Set (Contest—3 Winners!)This offer ends soon! Get a FREE box set of books!
  2. Reina Torres: An Idea, Some Spare Parts, and a Little Bit of Magic (Contest) — Win a FREE book!
  3. Diana Cosby: Nature – Amazing Muse Inspiration (Contest) — Win a SIGNED book!
  4. Open Contest–Reminders–A New Puzzle/Contest!  — Win an Amazon gift card!
  5. Two Important Notices about FREE Reads! — Everyone gets 2 FREE reads!
Em Petrova: The No-Focus Virus
Thursday, May 21st, 2020

I hate to be one more person talking about quarantine or lack of supplies on a store shelf. Like you, I’m sick and tired of hearing news reports or Facebook posts about the state of our world right now. I’m to the point where I actually mute the radio when a deejay comes on, because they always mention the importance of staying safe.

But I’m talking about staying SANE. For me, right now, that’s hard. Writing is my sanity. An escape, a place to go and be with new characters I love and become friends or fall in love with them. But lately, my focus is totally bombed. I look out the window and see yard work that needs doing, and I want to do that instead. I see a layer of dust in my office and groan out loud.

So many of my friends are spring cleaning. While I haven’t gotten that bored or crazy, I have to admit Goodwill might be overrun with all the bags I already purged from our hall closet and my son’s wardrobe. In the course of organizing the world around me into something I better understand, I realized it’s high time that I organized my bookshelf as well. No, not the ones holding paperback copies of all my books. I mean my backlist. MY ENTIRE BACKLIST.

After you’ve written many novels, you sometimes forget which one falls into what series. That got me thinking about why they’re part of that series in the first place. Mostly because years ago I wrote a book and said, hey this fits here. Lately, I wondered if that was true, so I started playing with my titles. That meant stripping down various series and seeing what exactly was going on. As well as asking myself…if I was a reader, what makes more sense?

In the end, I separated a huge grouping of mĂ©nage a trois novels—7 of them. Now those are the MĂ©nage Ă  Trouble series. I had a handful of novellas, all featuring cowboys, one of my all-time favorite heroes to write. Who doesn’t love a hat and those buns in Wranglers, hmmm? (I’ve gotten off track. See—I told you my focus is off.) The novellas fit together into the Hardworking Heroes Novellas series. And…that left 4 orphan books. Which broke my heart. All 4 books are solid romances featuring very rugged men. I love them all. So how to organize them…?

We think about organizing as grouping similar objects. All the sand toys go here and the pasta goes here on the pantry shelf. But books seemed harder to me. After days of fretting over these poor homeless books, I finally hit on what makes them all fit together. Each and every one is a second chance romance. BAM! Another Shot at Love series came to light, and I plopped 3 of those into the series, with one in the stages of a rewrite.

Finding a solution for this brain-twisting dilemma made me realize that maybe I’m not as unfocused as I thought. I’m focusing—just on different things right now. And you all are too, I’m sure. I think what I’m trying to convey here is that while you might feel very off-kilter in your methods right now, you are doing what you’re meant to be doing at this point in time.

Even if it’s different, roll with it and be kind to yourselves. In the end, you might look back and find that all your homeless ideas have found a very good spot to live inside your brain.

Much love to all and be sure to escape in books!
Em Petrova

His to Shelter

Eighteen years is a long time to never forget…

Retired Navy SEAL Oswald “Oz” Morgon assembled an elite team of men with skills far surpassing those of ordinary bodyguards. To save and protect is a creed that goes beyond simply guarding their wards—it’s a way of life. And these guys are his heart and soul, his brothers…and the family he’ll never have. Now, his next call is to find the one woman who always had a grip on his heart. Eighteen years ago, he walked away from her. But she’s thrown back into his arms—and under his protection.

As a JAG Corps Officer, Rose Kilbourn never expected to be kidnapped for doing her job. And there’s only one man who can save her. Back in the day, she believed Oz was the man for her. Then he vanished, leaving her with a secret she can’t confide to another soul on Earth.

If Oz had chosen a different path, he might have Rose now. But a man who’s lied, cheated and killed to save those he guards doesn’t deserve the sweetness of a woman like Rose. Still, he can’t help but steal moments while he can, and Rose can’t bring herself to walk away from the happily ever after she always wanted. Now she must decide whether or not to use her secret to ensnare the wild man who must protect her or die trying.

Get your copy here!

About Em Petrova

Em Petrova was raised by hippies in the wilds of Pennsylvania but told her parents at the age of four she wanted to be a gypsy when she grew up. She has a soft spot for babies, puppies and 90s Grunge music and believes in Bigfoot and aliens. She started writing at the age of twelve and prides herself on making her characters larger than life and her sex scenes hotter than hot.

She burst into the world of publishing in 2010 after having five beautiful bambinos and figuring they were old enough to get their own snacks while she pounds away at the keys. In her not-so-spare time, she is fur-mommy to a Labradoodle named Daisy Hasselhoff.

Find More Books by Em Petrova on her Website.
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