Top 10 Misconceptions about Heaven, Hell, and Everything in Between (at least in the world where my story takes place)

Point of no Return 200x300Guest blog by Torie James, author of Point of No Return

  1. The Archangel Michael doesn’t hold a flaming sword. He’s not allowed to use sharp objects on fire after an unfortunate incident involving the Ominomicon, a sleek white bird with huge eyes and a whistling song. What? You’ve never heard of the Ominomicon? Well, now you know why.
  2. The Three Wise Men were notorious grifters who rolled a few drunk townsfolk and stole the gifts they gave to the wee baby J. Their real names were Big Tom, Shunk and Norm.
  3. The first Dine and Dash took place at the Last Supper.
  4. After Abraham came down from Mount Moriah, relations between he and his son, Isaac, cooled entirely. Apparently, Isaac had no sense of humor and wasn’t thrilled with being Punk’d.
  5. Lucifer never “fell” from Heaven. He was pushed.
  6. The Universal Flood was more akin to a Tropical Storm but Noah liked to exaggerate.
  7. There were actually 11 plagues, not 10. The 11th one has currently re-emerged. They’re called Pop Ups.
  8. Moses, like a typical man, got lost leading his people and refused to ask for directions. That’s why it took them 40 years to get to where they were going.
  9. The Twelve Apostles were really just a prototype for the numerous Boy Bands we have these days.
  10. Not only was Adam the “first man” created, he was also the “first man” to sleep in the doghouse after he threw Eve under the bus for that nasty apple business.

I’ve had a massive blast hanging out here today and thanks to LRP for having me! So, talk to me, Dear Readers. Who do you think played a better God? George Burns or Morgan Freeman? Or are you quirky like me and think Alannis Morrisette rocked the robe in Dogma? Phone lines are open!

Blurb

Full of seething, sensual shadows and hidden faces, the annual Masquerade Ball at Lymbo Resort is one event anyone would sell their soul for.

One night a year, impiety and temptation take center court at the invitation only event hosted by the mysterious Avan Noxturna. Decadent darkness, burning lust, and wicked intentions hide behind innocent masks in the most innocuous places.

The fires of hell may blaze hot, but the flames of passion consume common sense when obsessive memories escape to ignite an inferno of intimate bliss that will sear both saint and sinner.

Excerpt

She enjoyed being a highly sexual female who felt no shame in shagging a man for recreational purposes. Guys did it all the time and they were called studs. A woman with the same goal? Slut. Luckily, she didn’t much care what anyone thought. She had no desire to settle into a bullshit relationship where she lost her identity. Her mother had schooled her. She was an island and it suited her fine when the occasional ship came into port, docking on a temporary pass. A lustful interlude with a masked stranger on Halloween? Cliché. And tempting. She did have a few extra minutes.

Then he filled her vision and she grew damp under the heated gaze.

One. Quick. Fuck.

Medicinal purposes only.

He opened his mouth to speak and she shook her head. “Shh. Don’t talk. You’ll ruin it.”

Torie James author picAuthor Bio:

Torie James has loved reading since she was old enough to hold a book in her lap. While her friends were out playing, she was generally curled up nearby falling down rabbit holes, catching second stars to the right, and stepping through wardrobes into mysterious lands and countless adventures. When those stories ended, she made up her own and kept going.

Find Torie James on Amazon

Where you can you find Torie:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WriterGurl216

Blog/Website: http://torienjames.blogspot.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Writergurl216

Get into Bed with Molly Harper (Author Interview 2)

molly harper snow falling bluegrassKeira: If Kelsey, the heroine of Snow Falling on Bluegrass were to recommend her top five places in Kentucky – where would she tell us to go?

Molly Harper:

  • Moonlight Barbecue in Owensboro, Ky. – a Kentucky tradition. Get the pulled pork shoulder.
  • Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville
  • The Kentucky State Fair
  • Tater Day in Benton, Ky. – A local festival that has to be experienced to be believed
  • Vent Haven Museum in Fort Mitchell, Ky. – The only museum in the world solely dedicated to the ventriloquist arts.

Keira: I love secluded romances where a set of circumstances (such as a snow storm) cause the main characters to be isolated together away from the “real world.” What is your favorite aspect of secluded/isolated romances?

Molly: The improvisation.  I love that they cook frozen pizza on a gas grill and make romantic pillow forts. It was like writing a “desert island” romance because any random item can become a solution to any problem.  My only regret is that I didn’t get to build a fictional Swiss Family Robinson house. It’s considerably sexier than my own ice storm experience, when the only time I saw my husband was when he stumbled in from twelve-hour emergency police shifts to sleep for a few hours and then get back out for another shift.

Keira: Snow Falling on Bluegrass also features a love triangle. What are the three best aspects of Luke and Charlie (in their opinion and/or Kelsey’s opinion)?

Molly: Well, there’s insane hotness on both of their parts, which is always a plus. Kelsey enjoys Charlie’s quiet genius and the fact that he has a snarky center she is trying to help him cultivate.  They share the same sense of humor and enthusiasm for their work. They were friends first and slowly fell for each other.

But while Charlie is shy and reluctant to tell Kelsey how he feels, Luke is very upfront about his appreciation for Kelsey.  Not only does he enjoy her subversive personality, but he very openly admires her looks, something that Kelsey is a little insecure about, after getting out of a relationship with a guy who made her self-conscious about them. She appreciates that he’s straight-forward with her.  He doesn’t make her guess.

Keira: What’s the best part of writing a love triangle and what’s one of the pitfalls?

Molly: It’s fun to write not one, but two, romantic connections. The drawback is writing the characters to be equally good matches for the hero/ine, without obviously leaning toward one or the other.

Keira: As a former humor columnist, do you find humor to be easy to write or is it one of those things that’s difficult to always get right?

Molly: For me, humor has always come effortlessly. It comes a lot easier than plotting, characterization, etc.  In some cases, it happens unintentionally and I have to go back and remove it because it’s inappropriate.

OK, that happens a lot.

Keira: What’s next for you in life and/or books?

Molly: I’m writing five more Half-Moon Hollow spin-offs.  My Christmas novella, I’m Dreaming of an Undead Christmas will be released in November.  And I will have some interesting news to announce in the next few weeks!

Book Blurb:

Kentucky Tourism Commission employee and executive assistant extraordinaire Kelsey is known around the office for having everything under control. So it’s not surprising that she and her boss, Sadie, have everything planned to the second for the office winter retreat. But there are things even Kelsey can’t micromanage.

An unprecedented snowstorm smothers half of Kentucky and knocks out the power, closes the roads, and generally shuts down the state. Luckily, the lodge has working fireplaces and enough food to keep the staff from turning on each other like something out of The Shining. Kelsey wouldn’t mind being stuck inside if it wasn’t for the tension with her not-so-secret crush, Charlie, the office’s statistician. But handsome Ranger Luke, the lodge’s only employee on hand, is there to take Kelsey’s mind off her discomfort.

Even though this weekend is supposed to be a planning session for KTC, Kelsey can’t help her mind from wandering and finds herself conflicted over Luke and Charlie. Someone’s love will keep her warm, but whose will it be?

Buy: Snow Falling on Bluegrass

Giveaway: Two readers will get a digital copy of Snow Falling on Bluegrass by Molly Harper. Leave a comment to enter! Last chance to enter is 9/28/2014.

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Where is the Love? How Writers are Forced to Cheat

Glorious-Sunset-front-final[1]I’m Ava Bleu, author of contemporary and edgy inspirational romance, and I just want to know why things have to be so hard for writers?

If you are a lover of romance novels you have probably heard more than one author explain that they still have their day job because it is terribly hard to earn a living income as a romance novelist.  And the fact remains that writers write because they must.  Day job or not, a writer is compelled to write. Alcoholics have their wine.  Food addicts have cake.  Writers have writing.  Okay, some of us also have wine and cake too, but that’s beside the point!

Writers need to live — pay mortgages, put our kids through puppy kindergarten, get our hair done — and these things cost money so we must work second jobs.  Yes, the nine-to-five is the second job despite the fact that it is usually the only job bringing an income.  The nine-to-five is not the job we love; it is the one that makes the job we love possible.

It’s much easier to understand when I put it in my own, personal romance novel terms:  My nine-to-five is the husband I have fallen out of love with but must stay with because of the needs of the children (and by children I mean food, shelter, puppy kindergarten, and those hair appointments).  The writing?  Clearly, Lady Bleu’s scandalous lover.  He’s gorgeous, he’s addictive, he’s a delicious, devilish rake. Sometimes he’s bad but he’s always good, if you know what I mean ;-).

I’m no harlot. I want to love my husband, but he doesn’t have my heart. The best possible solution would be if my scandalous lover could afford to keep me in the lifestyle to which I’ve become accustomed. Instead of buying him dinner and sustenance (paper, toner cartridges, time), maybe he could afford to feed me for a change.  Instead of paying to dress him up all pretty with a website and postcards and a fancy new logo, maybe he could afford to get me something nice like an electric stapler or a tank of gas or, I don’t know … a shiny new savings account.  An actual real vacation would look fabulous on me and would go a long way towards keeping my respect.  I mean, you’d think he’d get tired of being a “kept” career and have the dignity to contribute a little more.  Just sayin’…

But who am I kidding?  Despite all he costs me, I would pay anything to keep writing.  The joy it brings is priceless.  So I will bite my tongue and pretend to love my day job for as long as it takes.  And someday – one glorious day – my lover will find his financial legs and we will sail off into the great beyond leaving only a dear John resignation letter to end the nine-to-five commitment I once held so dear.

Yes, it seems cold.  Yes, it’s reckless and scandalous and wicked.  But let’s face it … the heart wants what it wants.

And when it’s all said and done, doesn’t everyone want just a little wicked?

~~

Ava Bleu lives and loves in the Midwest, countering bitter winters with smooth jazz and tasty edibles. She can be found in bookstores and the public library camped next to the cookbooks and/or on the town keeping an eye out for hero-material.

Website: http://www.avableu.com/subscribe/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ava.bleu

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AvaBleu1

Ava’s latest novel, Glorious Sunset (Blurb):

African King Taka Olufemi has traveled over four hundred years to find the woman who holds the soul of his murdered queen and he’s a little cranky.  With a ruby brooch as his vessel, the former king is forced to grant wishes to ungrateful mortals hoping to one day find, and win, the heart of his lost love.

But it will take more than good looks, superior intelligence and an impressive pedigree to earn the love of Violet Jackson.  The ambitious interior designer doesn’t remember Taka or their history.  Love—with its inevitable heartbreak chaser—has no place in Violet’s immediate life plan.  All the handsome “genie” can do for her is pony up on the three wishes he’s promised and try not to be a pain while he’s at it.

While the arrogant king is praying for his submissive queen and the faithless object of his affection isn’t praying at all, guardian angel, Aniweto, is praying for them both.  With Ani’s help, Taka and Violet’s epic love will be rekindled and this royal couple-behaving-badly will finally earn their happily-ever-after through the grace of the Almighty.

Buy: Glorious Sunset (Urban Books)

Audio Review: The Unexpected Duchess (Playful Brides, Book 1) by Valerie Bowman

unexpected duchessHero: Newly appointed by the crown, Lord Derek Hunt, the Duke of Claringdon, made a promise to his friend Julian, who is dying. His moniker among the ton is the Duke of Decisive for he makes quick decisions and sticks to them – winning many battles and honors because of it, including his dukedom. He will wed Lady Cassandra because it not in his nature to be indecisive or to change his mind. But a kink quickly appears in his plan when a friend of the lady in question insists Cassandra is not interested.

Heroine: Lady Lucy Upton will not let her dear friend be coerced into a courtship with the dashing duke. Cassandra is in love with another and waits for his return from the war. If the duke and Cassandra’s mother had their way, Cass would be wed before the fortnight was out. When Cass asks for help, Lucy does what she does best – interfere and deliver cutting set-downs. But it doesn’t scare Claringdon off. Instead he comes back for more again and again and Lucy’s traitorous heart hopes it’s because of her and not Cass.

Review: One of my favorite scenes is the verbal wit challenge between Derek and Lucy. He asks her to dance and she says “no.” He must then come up with 20 cleverer ways to turn a gentleman down for a dance. I won’t share my particular favorites, because they’re just too good to give away. I also enjoyed Derek wooing Lucy by writing letters to her appearing to be from another suitor. She sees the differences between the letters and the person and can’t quite make them fit, but doesn’t suspect Derek is writing to her.  The friendship between the ladies is strong, which is nice to see. The story itself is silly and very humorous. I would only change the timing of Derek’s change of heart and the start of his pursuit of Lucy sooner. For somebody decisive, he was too hesitant to break a promise that needed breaking.

Narrator: Alison Larkin could deliver on Lady Lucy Upton. She brought much life to the heroine and brought out her personality and wit. She delivered Lucy’s set-downs with a flourish!

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: The Unexpected Duchess, The Unexpected Duchess (Audiobook)

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Review: Once Upon a Kiss (Book Club Belles Society, Book 1) by Jayne Fresina

once upon a kissHero: Darius Wainright doesn’t know it, but the ladies of the local book society of Hawcombe Prior have labeled him a real-life Mr. Darcy. He doesn’t have plans for matrimony, he just wants to sort his uncle’s things, sell the house, and leave for society as quickly as possible, but all that changes when he realizes who is in town — that young lady who jumped on him in his bed one year ago in Bath.

Heroine: Not only does Justina Penny not understand her friend’s fascination with Darius Wainright, but she doesn’t understand the appeal of the priggish brute Mr. Darcy. Clearly Mr. Wickham is the hero of Pride and Prejudice. So while she has her sights set on a certain local captain, Jussy plans to help her sister snag Darius… only things don’t quite go as planned as Darius Wainright is the WRONG MAN she encountered a year ago.

Review: Jussy is a fun heroine to read due to her misadventures. She loves a good romp, a fast dash, and a delicious escapade here and there. Her parents have no hope for her to get married and rely on their other daughter to make a great catch. Justina is virtually overlooked when compared to her sister – that is until her scrapes call attention to her unladylike ways. Darius catches her in two scrapes involving his property and decides to teach her a lesson which leads to quite a lot of fun and misadventure. Darius draws on Mr. Darcy in a number of ways, but is still a unique character. Like Justina, he grew up under the shadow of his sibling, but whereas Jussy’s sister is kind, his brother was not. Darius has never been comfortable around women and had to go to great lengths to overcome a strong stutter. Around Jussy, he gets tongue-tied and that my dear readers makes him all the more adorable. I fully recommend this book and consider it one of the best reads of the year.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Once Upon a Kiss (Book Club Belles Society)

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Review: Liar, Liar, Hearts on Fire by Jennifer Zane

liar_liar_hearts_on_fire_72dpi_200x300Reviewed by Cara Lynn

This was a cute and funny book, with a cast of zany and odd-ball characters, including the owner of an adult bookstore who gives out (needed) advice on lovemaking and a bit of meddling. It has a little more story than some books that exist only to tie in the sex scenes.

Mike Ostranski is being stalked in Alaska while on vacation, and he is desperate to come up with something to get the woman off his back. His mother wants grandchildren and had hopes for the stalker and him.

Violet Miller answers the phone at the adult store, instead of her sister, only to hear Mike’s plea for help.

It is complicated by the fact that she has loved him through high school, and they consummated the deal one night, then he went off to become a doctor. She’s never quite got over her love for him or her perceived rejection.


He asks her to fake a relationship with him to get the other woman off his back. And he gives her a gigantic ugly ring.

Of course, you know they will fall in love. (I thought he had orchestrated it, but no.) And you know it will all turn out in the end. But not without a bit of excitement along the way, including Violet being held at gunpoint.

The sex is believable. Their foreplay includes getting to know each other again and a funny fishing scene and…

It was fun, and a whole lot better than the one I read just before this one.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Liar, Liar, Hearts On Fire

Review: Lingerie and Felons by Ros Baxter

9780857991393Summary: Lola is always wearing the wrong underwear at the worse times… like upon arrest. Wait! Let’s back up a minute!

Lola’s parents repeatedly told her she could make a difference growing-up. Lola wants that. She wants to have purpose and be a force of change… The trouble for Lola is that she’s not sure what force of change she wants to be. As she tries to help she slips into and out of tricky legal situations such as the aforementioned arrest.

Along the way Lola meets a handsome Australian broker and a sexy lawyer with Superman tendencies. Her heart is torn and the choice should be easy, but there isn’t a pair of undies to tell a girl what to do and who to be with… Lola will have to figure that out on her own.

Review: I really enjoyed Wayne. When he’s first introduced he’s clearly the opposite of the heroine. They butt heads on a lot of issues. I loved that he switched Lola’s nickname on the first date and started to call her Rocket. That was really cute.

Wayne gets Lola on a level that she’s terrified of because on the surface Wayne is all wrong. She’s hardcore save the planet, hippy, libertarian, democrat and he’s a “heartless” and “soulless” suit, except he isn’t. Wayne is greatly amused by Lola and her passion for making a difference. It changes him throughout the novel. I really felt for him and wanted him to find someone special who loved him and wanted to be with him.

The greatness that is Wayne aside, I do not like Lola, and since the story is from her point of view (POV) that puts me in a predicament. I liked her fine in the beginning of the story, but actions she takes reveals that Lola is narrow-minded and shallow about what is right and what is wrong, and she argues instead of debates. Wayne gets in a really good point about money when she’s on her high horse and it makes her very uncomfortable.

Then there is Lola’s emotional immaturity. She ends her and Wayne’s relationship when it gets to be “too real” and hides her emotions in another relationship because the man is a safe choice. He’s rebound all the way and she uses this other man, who is equally great (but not great for her), to hide. This is perfectly acceptable in the beginning of the novel when she’s younger and a grad student. Everybody needs some time to figure out what they want and who they want.

But, as the years go by, she should have a better grip on what she wants/needs and not face a panic attack every time she and Wayne cross paths. Lola pushes Wayne away at all of their encounters, tells him lies when she’s scared she might fall back into a relationship with him, and misdirects him (regarding her daughter, Eve). She feels that wanting Wayne means being untrue to herself and punishes him for it. I’m honestly surprised he wanted her after all the years apart and all her crazy. And she hurts another in her endeavor to protect herself from what loving Wayne might mean.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Lingerie For Felons

How I Screwed Up My First Romance Novel

passing wind of loveGuest Blog by John Blumenthal, co-author of Passing Wind of Love

Inspired by the gazillions of dollars people are making in the romance novel genre, I decided to write one with a friend, Barry Golson. Granted, the genre is dominated by women, but so what? How hard could it be?

Besides, Barry and I weren’t exactly neophytes. Some years ago, we’d cut our teeth on a short romance novella called Love’s Reckless Rash, written under the pen name Rosemary Cartwheel. Granted, it was a spoof but it gave us a feel for the lingo. We knew our way around the territory.

Sort of.

But this time, we vowed to write a straight one. Our heroine would succumb to fiery passion, flaming eroticism, burning desire and lots of other forms of romantic arson.

Sure, there would be challenges. First, we would have to attempt to see things through a female’s perspective, which meant that power tools would not figure prominently in the plot.  Also, we don’t know anything about romance because we’re guys and we don’t understand things like why women like candles so much. We asked our wives for help but they thought the idea of guys – especially us — writing a romance novel was… well… idiotic.

We decided to ignore them.

Having written Love’s Reckless Rash as a period piece, we felt comfortable with the historical approach. It would take place in Jane Austen’s era. There would be dukes and earls and princes, all of them incredibly horny because in those days first base meant getting beyond the bustle.

The era’s sexual repression also appealed to us as did the language of the day -– words like “hither” and “hence” and “bodice” (although we had to look up “bodice” in a dictionary.)

So far so good. We mapped out a story. Now, all we had to do was fill the pages. Easy right?

Nope.

Ten pages into it, we encountered problems. Every time our story required us to describe ball gowns, sensuous fragrances, the intricacies of corsets or most importantly, the mysteries of the female heart, we’d get stuck.

How did we compensate for our ignorance? Simple. We went for laughs. Again. We simply couldn’t write it without cracking up.  Every time we tried to craft a lurid sex scene we couldn’t resist a punch line.

Often, we’d start a sentence with the best of intentions, but end up with this:

“I have never felt my heartstrings pulled so sharply as they are being pulled at this moment. I feel as if they will snap, and my heart will be flung across the garden into yonder lake.”

“She knew her One True Love was out there somewhere, practicing cruel expressions in the mirror, opening his shirt just so, and in general posing rakishly, roguishly, and redundantly.”

“’Sir, kindly remove your nose from my bosoms this instant! Bosoms are not places into which one inserts one’s nose. If bosom nosing is a custom in this vile place, it is not one that I care to have performed on my bosoms!!’”

You get the idea. Eventually, we succumbed to temptation. We expanded our original spoof to novel length, sending our heroine on new adventures to foreign places where she would encounter a variety of slow-witted potential paramours of different nationalities, and upper-class twits, most of who would –- of course — ardently attempt to unravel her sixteen petticoats. We titled it, Passing Wind of Love.

In other words, we fell back into the ditch.

And we still don’t understand why women like candles so much.

Passing Wind of Love Blurb:

Based on the 1984 cult classic, “Love’s Reckless Rash”, (which the Cincinnati Inquirer called “A gem…a biting romance parody”), “Passing Wind of Love” takes our heroine, Vanessa Hardleigh-Bourne-Bryte, to new heights of romantic hilarity and expands her adventures to new places where she is chased by a variety of new ardent lovers.

Given to swoons, impromptu raptures and lapses of extreme dimness, young Lady Vanessa is possessed of a dazzling Beauty that causes 19th-century noblemen to go into cardiac arrest Inevitably, she meets her One True Love–the rakish, reckless, roguish Duke of Earl–in this picaresque tale set in semi-Victorian England and semi-barbaric America. It’s for lovers of wordplay, literary banter and flagrant historical inaccuracies – Jeeves meets Emma. (That would be Wodehouse meets Woodhouse, wouldn’t it? Never mind.

Its cast of characters–nearly all with either a screw loose or no brains to speak of–include Lord Gastleigh (upper class twit), Trapper Jacques (loathes bathing) Dowager Duchess Maggie (from downtown Abbey), the Queen of England (very stout), Prince Albrecht (in the can), Lord Roscoe Jagger (demanding satisfaction), Wyatt Earp (lightning fast), Beau Weevil (lightning slow) and Thaddeus Cruise (short, handsome,).

Her adventures take her from the Queen’s dysfunctional court to a Mississippi steamboat piloted by Mark Twain to the body-littered streets of Tombstone, to the burlesque stages of olde Hollie Woods, thence to a nunnery where she must uncover a dark family secret from a silent Trappist monk via charades.

Every man who meets Vanessa becomes hopelessly smitten, while she tries valiantly to save herself for the always-bronzed and ever-chiseled Duke of Earl, not without a slew of sexual close encounters and pratfalls too embarrassing to reveal here. Passing Wind of Love is more than just a parody – it skewers religion, money, historical myths, English nobility, racism, gun control and show business. For sure, it’s the only romance novel directed at smart readers of both genders. (Don’t worry guys, Jane Austen doesn’t show up, although Darcy has a cameo.)

This fast-paced novel of high romance, glittering style, damnable puns and low intrigue will make you cheer for its indomitable heroine, sneer at its quirky villains and weep with laughter. You won’t be able to put it down. (Not without damaging your Kindle.)

Buy: PASSING WIND OF LOVE: A Hysterical Historical Romance