‘Marelo’, by Eileen Troemel

I have always been a huge fan of Eileen’s writing, ever since I stumbled across the epic dark fantasy ‘Dragon Lord’s Mate’. Not only is she one of the most prolific authors I know, she’s also one of the most unique.

So here’s a sneak peak at her latest book: Marelo.

Marelo was part of a group write about a world this group created. While I kept the scene I wrote, I didn’t like where the group was going so I opted out. I had 1500 words which made a great scene but not a great story so I wrote the story. 

Fantasy is one of my favorite genres – to both read and write. In this case it involved dragons, love, and unusual laws and customs. The cover was my inspiration. I loved this cover from the moment I saw it and had to have it. As I wrote the fuller story, I used the cover as a reminder of the type of world I created. It helped me stay on top of things.

Marelo

Marelo studies water dragons. Bandor studies her heart.

Driven to succeed, Marelo focuses on her studies. She doesn’t have time for males claiming her as a mate. She came here to study the dragon’s ancestral home. She will find the evidence she needs while avoiding all males especially Bandor who makes her heart rush.

Bandor takes one look at Marelo and knows she’s his mate. Her haughty demeaner doesn’t put him off. She’s his mate, he’ll do anything to win her. But he has secrets only his mate can know. Can he convince her to be his mate or will it take something more?

TO ORDER MARELO: https://books2read.com/marelo

TO CONNECT WITH EILEEN: https://linktr.ee/eileentroemel

TO READ MORE ABOUT EILEEN AND HER WORK:

Welcome to ‘Smoke Chaser’!!!

I have long been a fan of Annabel Allan/Stephanie Douglas’ writing …

So, my dear readers, welcome to the entire skinny on the ‘Smoke Chaser’ series!!!!

SMOKE CHASER: WILDFIRE

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire…

Blurb:

Stephanie Fournier is an assistant to a high-priced divorce lawyer in Toronto, Ontario. Her boring 9-to-5 heats up on one January day, when the gorgeous owner of the building—and multimillionaire—Robert Quinlan takes a sudden interest in her. 

Things start to scorch as they plan a hookup after a work event—until he finds out she’s a virgin. His sudden disinterest is not only embarrassing for Stephanie, but also infuriating. She sets out to prove that she doesn’t need his affections, the heat still present between them, eventually enticing him to make her an offer she doesn’t want to refuse.

Can an amateur like Stephanie keep it casual or has she started a fire that will quickly spread out of her control?

Story behind:

I didn’t start out writing erotic romance—I started in sweet romance. It was January 2015 when I crossed that line into the former genre. I was at a stand-still in my writing career, so I figured I would write something to appease the writing gods. And you know what? Sex sells!

I sat down and started a manuscript titled “Licking the Flames”. Oh, it was a naughty one! It was certainly too naughty to use my real name, so I thought of a pen name; Esmerée Delamort. I decided to pursue it, submitting to Xcite Books, who turned it over to their sister publisher, Cariad Romances. It was decided that due to it being heavy with the romance element, it was best suited to that imprint. I was offered a three book deal that June.

It was also decided to re-title it. “Wildfire” was suggested to me…I liked it! Then I was informed my pen name was too sexy. I looked around my desk, seeing my edition of the Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe. The name Annabel Lee was first to come to me, then I quickly squished Allan onto it. Of course, they shortened it to Annabel Allan. Voila! You now have the current title and pen name 🙂

FIRESTORM

Things really heat up…

Blurb:

Stephanie Fournier’s life is turned upside down by multimillionaire bad boy & the man of her dreams, Robert Quinlan. 

Things are going well, until doubts start creeping into Stephanie’s mind due to being targeted by Quinn’s disapproving aunt. Things start to bubble until they peak, boiling over and sending Quinn into a pit of despair and back to dancing with his demons.

Is their relationship strong enough to survive the perilous fires of his past?

Story behind:

Due to the end being a little open ended for a sequel (which was intentional on my part) and now having a three book deal, I quickly started on the second book, which I titled “Firestorm”. It was also then that I thought of the series name, “Smoke Chaser”. I knew I needed to amp up the stakes for both Stephanie & Quinn. So, I brought his demons out to play.

FIRELINE

Have they crossed a line?

Blurb:

It’s been thirty days, but finally Stephanie Fournier gets to put her arms around the man of her dreams again. 

After his stint with a dangerous addiction that nearly destroyed their relationship, Robert Quinlan is back and ready to put the demons of his past behind him. Feeling eager to start anew, Stephanie welcomes him back with open arms, but she’s not the only one to do so. 

With an unwanted admirer and his family against them, being with Quinn never seems simple. Their love is stronger than ever but outside forces still threaten to demolish their relationship. 

Now they must walk the fine line to preserve the love they fought so hard to save from the flames.

Story behind:

Again, three book deal! Haha. I needed a third book and knew that the ending of the previous book left an interesting circumstance for Stephanie. Of course, the edition that is available now is an updated edit—I parted ways with Accent Press in the fall of 2020. I left it for nearly a year before I decided I was going to self-publish the entire series. I re-wrote nearly the entire story, only keeping certain elements…I feel we have a stronger, better “Fireline” now!

FIREWHIRL

Happily ever after?

Blurb:

Stephanie Fournier has accepted Robert Quinlan’s proposal & in a short five months they are to be married in a wedding that is every girl’s dream. Everything is happening so fast that Stephanie finds herself dazed but confident to make her day go forward as planned, no matter what Quinn’s aunt or anyone else has to say about it.

Story behind:

I wrote the end of “Fireline” and realized…uh-oh! There’s gonna be a fourth book. After I submitted the third, they were excited for a fourth to end the series. Again, when I parted ways with Accent Press, I decided to re-write the book, giving it an updated edit as well.

All four books in the Smoke Chaser series have new covers, a new edit, and the addition of the “Quintessential Short” in the back of the book. “Firewhirl” was intended to be the final installment, but a fifth book is planned, taking place 5 years after the fourth. Keep an eye out on my social media for when that goes ahead!

THANK you, Stephanie/Annabel, for gracing our pages today! Best of luck to you in the future! In the meantime, y’all can stalk her here … AND order her books!!!

Stephanie Douglas

https://linktr.ee/AnnabelAllan

‘Elizabeth’, by Estelle Pettersen: A Review

BLURB:

It’s 1996 and Elizabeth has to choose: work for six months at a country newspaper, Maranoa Herald, or lose her job. Convincing herself this is just another stepping stone, Elizabeth leaves the city and her fiancé, lawyer Paul Ricci, for a small town in rural Australia. Despite the scorching heat and pests, Bandara holds a charm of its own—Keith Starling, a handsome farmer with sky-blue eyes and a spellbinding smile.

MY REVIEW:

Estelle Pettersen has long been a favorite of writer of mine, beginning with her novel Lessons on Seduction

Now, there’s Elizabeth.

What fascinates me about Elizabeth is how different it feels from Lessons on Seduction. Estelle’s publicly-available bios reveal her to be happily married, and a devoted family woman. Thus, Lessons on Seduction felt surreal, dream-like. It read like what it probably is: fantasy. It’s kind of like when I write about murder and mayhem. It reads like fantasy, because, well … I’ve never actually killed anyone!

Elizabeth, on the other hand, feels real. It reads like Estelle was writing from a place of experience. I loved the title heroine! She’s smart and assertive, but not so assertive that she crosses the line into being obnoxious. There is a fine line between strong and being a china-shop bull, and Elizabeth straddles it nicely.

Keith was an interesting hero. He’s basically small-town royalty, a big fish in a small pond. Often such men are insufferable, but it’s clear that Keith cares deeply for his community, and wants the best for it.

The relationship dynamic was fascinating. Elizabeth—a journalist from Brisbane, Australia—is forced by her editor to move to the small town of Bandara. Adjusting to small-town life after having lived in a big city is a reality that many of us have lived, myself included. So not only does Elizabeth have to adjust to small-town life, she has to come to grips with falling for a man who is absolutely enamored with said small town.

All I can say about the ending is that I love how it skips forward in time. Romances, by definition, always have a ‘happily ever after’ ending. But this one is more realistic than most, and that’s all I’ll say.

Spoilers, you know?

So if you’re looking for a short, fairly sweet romance read …

Elizabeth is the book for you!

A FEW WORDS FROM ESTELLE ABOUT ELIZABETH:

The novella Elizabeth is very close to my heart because it is about a city journalist moving to a small town in rural Australia. She deals with lifestyle differences, prejudices, and spiders, snakes, and other animals at the start. However, she also learns to adapt, make friends, and…fall in love with someone who loves and cares for her very much.

Set in the fictional town of Bandara in western Queensland in 1996-1997, the story focuses on a love triangle between Elizabeth, hotshot city lawyer Paul Ricci, and gorgeous farmer Keith Starling. Elizabeth must choose between Paul and Keith, but she doesn’t see things so clearly until a few hidden truths start to pop out in the novella.

The story is fun, light, and flirty – it’s the prequel to the Starling Sisters series, a trilogy coming soon.

Much of the novella’s setting is based on a country town I lived in when I was a journalist for a rural newspaper. A few elements in the story are based on real memories , including stumbling around in the cattle saleyards, interviewing the football team (and not reading their names aloud after), and living in an apartment where there were King Brown snakes in the backyard and poorly designed doors.

Writing Elizabeth brought light into my world, as it was written during the COVID times when I was unable to travel back to Australia. I’m an Aussie married to a Norwegian, so I live in Norway these days.I hope that romance readers wanting to know a bit about rural Australia will find the story entertaining.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ESTELLE, READ HER INTERVIEW HERE: https://virginiawallace.com/2021/03/09/meet-estelle-pettersen/

STALK ESTELLE (AND BUY HER BOOKS) HERE!!! https://linktr.ee/estellepettersen

THANK you, Estelle, for appearing here today! Best of luck to you in the future!

‘Full Circle’, by Jan Selbourne: A Review

Well, well … ANOTHER epic from the mistress of historical fiction herself, Jan Selbourne!!! This baby goes live 2/1/2022, so let’s take a peek!!!

Blurb:

According to Dr. Arthur Sanders, a terrible miscarriage of justice has taken place. His entire fortune and that of his partner, Mr. Frank Owens, has disappeared along with Owen’s secretary/accountant and the secretary’s assistant. Owens himself is visiting the Australian colony. Is he, like Sanders, a victim or the perpetrator? That is what Sanders wants Lloyd Harrington to find out and as swiftly as possible.

Harrington is recovering from an injury received while on the job in the Metropolitan Police as well as guilt from a personal loss. He’s bored from forced inactivity and the chance to use his skills to track down Owens interests him. Sanders agrees to pay all expenses, and so Harrington sets off for Australia. Before he leaves, a body is discovered—the secretary. And the assistant holds a ticket on a ship bound for Australia. It seems the action is all set to take place Down Under.

Miss Carey Stafford arrives at the home of Owens’ host just as Harrington does and announces to the stunned Owens that he is bankrupt, along with his partner, Dr. Sanders. How does she know this, Harrington wonders. His tingly detective senses warn him that something very wrong is going on here, and he arrests the lovely Carey for theft and possible participant in the murder of Owen’s secretary. He has no way of knowing then that she holds secrets upon secrets upon secrets. They will either provide the answers to everything or will drag Lloyd into a morass of trouble with his former comrades at the Met.

Full Circle is a complex tale of mystery, intrigue, and revenge. How the tale and its principals actually come full circle will keep you on the edge of your seat!

BIO:

Jan Selbourne was born and educated in Melbourne, Australia and her love of literature and history began as soon as she learned to read and hold a pen., After graduating from a Melbourne Business College her career began in the dusty world of ledgers and accounting, working in Victoria, Queensland and the United Kingdom. On the point of retiring she changed course to work as secretary of a large NSW historical society. Now retired Jan is enjoying her love of travelling and literature. She has two children, a stray live in cat and lives near Maitland, New South Wales.

MY REVIEW OF FULL CIRCLE:

I’ve been at least somewhat familiar with Jan Selbourne’s work for a while now.

Her short story A Convict’s Prayer (featured in anthology Desire Me Again, by Black Velvet Seductions) is a major favorite of mine. So it was exciting to finally read a full-length story: her new release, Full Circle.

 Wow …!

Jan’s writing, to me, always reads like a throwback to my favorite era in literature: the nineteenth century. The angst-ridden, complex relationship between Police Inspector Lloyd and his ex-con lover Carey reminds me of one of my favorite, obscure novels: Robert Louis Stevenson’s David Balfour. There’s an intensity there that one doesn’t find very often.

At its heart, this book is a mystery. Who is this Frank Owens fellow? What exactly did he do, and how did he do it? There’s a element of Agatha Christie in Full Circle, but the emphasis slowly teeters toward striking a balance between mystery and romance.

Historical fiction is difficult to write, because the author must make the past feel real to a modern reader. At this, Jan Selbourne excels. I also appreciate that she took the time to make this book very readable to an American audience. The geography is easy to follow, and she describes the locations clearly.

The world of Full Circle is an immersive one, quickly pulling the reader into the past, and leaving them there until the ending.

And such an ending it is!!!

Full Circle, by Jan Selbourne …

Give it a read!

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO GET TO KNOW JAN BETTER, READ HER AUTHOR INTERVIEW HERE:

STALK JAN (AND ORDER HER BOOKS) HERE!!!

https://linktr.ee/Selbourne

THANK you, Jan, for gracing our page today! Congratulations, and BEST of luck to you in the future!!!

‘Fright Club’: A Review and Author Interview!!!

It is my honor, my dear readers, to present to you my esteemed teammate at Black Velvet Seductions, the one and only STEPHANIE DOUGLAS!!!

Stephanie’s work spans the entire gamut of literature, from horror to romance to gothic suspense … and back again. She is not only one of the most prolific authors I know, but also one of the most versatile.

So let’s a take a peek at her latest release, ‘Fright Club’!

BLURB

Evelyn Walker is a simple library technician in the bustling city of Toronto. It’s an unusual time, as supernatural creatures have woken from their slumber and made themselves known, fighting for the same rights as mortals, running businesses, even raising families. Evie keeps out of the supernatural business, living the “normal” life, until one hot July night when the library stays open for a specific visitor—a vampire. She finds herself thrust into a new world with new rules, fighting to stay alive, all the while locked in the cold embrace of the undead love of her life.

REVIEW

It was a long while at the police station, so long that Rick and I just decided to skip out on dinner and go back to my place. I obviously wasn’t in the mood for earth-shattering sex, so he just curled up on the couch with me, watching late night TV until I fell asleep. Line from Stephanie Douglas’ ‘Fright Club’

Meet Evelyn, a librarian.

Whoops, ‘scuse me … ‘library technician’.

Welcome to the world of ‘Fright Club’!!! Now, let’s be honest here. In a post-Anne Rice world, it’s very hard to be original when it comes to vampires and werewolves. The appeal of such fare is not that it’s particularly original, but rather that it’s comfortingly tried and true.

So yes, the setting’s pretty familiar.

When one chooses to work within a tried-and-true genre, it’s best to pull out all the stops in regards to characterization. And this is where Stephanie Douglas NAILS it! Evelyn is not exactly the type of character that you’d expect to find in a horror-laced novel. What I loved most about this story was the bait-and-switch. You think it’s gonna be a love story involving two particular characters, but it may or may not work out that way.

And that’s all I’m gonna say. Spoilers, you know?

As a bonus, I LOVED Alistair the werewolf! He was just a low-key, blue-collar kinda dude. I felt like I’d love to sit down with him at the bar, and drink beer with him.

Also, I loved that the tale revolved around the characters, their personalities, and their interactions. So many paranormal tales are absolutely awash with gratuitous sex, and honestly …? I’m not over-fond of that. While the erotica genre is perfectly appropriate for pervasive sexual content, I find it distracting in paranormal. For every chapter you spend describing sexual encounters, you sacrifice pages that you could have spent on character development. While sex scenes are occasionally appropriate in literature—sex being a part of life, after all—at the end of the day, sex is just that: a part of life, not the whole thing. The nuances of human nature, on the other hand, encompass the entirety of human existence. That’s why I love to read about them, and it’s in this department that Stephanie TOTALLY delivers! ‘Fright Club’ is a decisively character-driven tale, and I adore it for that.

‘Fright Club’ is a story set within a well-established genre. The setting is immediately familiar, and that, my dear readers, is simply the nature of the beast. Stephanie Douglas is an author whose work I know fairly well, and I can tell you that she is a very original thinker. It just so happens that—this time around—she made a willful decision to go down a road that others paved for her.

But when it comes to the characters and the plot, well DONE!!! ‘Fright Club’ … yeah, it’s a five-star read.

Check it OUT!!! The setting is familiar. The story is not. You’ll love it!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

(All opinions and statements contained in this interview are solely those of the author providing them, and may not necessarily reflect my own. – Virginia)

When did you start writing? What made you first decide to try your hand at it?

Stephanie:

I have always had an active imagination, telling stories for entertainment purposes (mostly my own!). In high school I received awards in the English contest, but my thirst to tell stories was through visuals, so I tried to focus on film, and upon graduating I went to film school. It was while I was there that I discovered I am really not too great at directing, which was my aspiration, so I was going to fall back on screenwriting because I was receiving praise for my abilities. That was ultimately unfulfilling, even in film school. I couldn’t see myself doing it as my job. So, I decided to try my hand at writing a short story as an exercise in July of 2008, while I was still in fourth term. Everything kind of snowballed & went downhill from there!

What was your first published work? What do you think of it now?

Stephanie:

My first published work was self-published through a vanity publisher, a sweet vampire romance titled “Out of My Grave” in 2010. Ultimately, I think I really shouldn’t have gone that route, as I was still trying to figure out how to tell a story and kind of who I was in both writing & life. I can’t take it back, so I just own it, and it was a learning experience. Gotta start somewhere.

How do you balance writing with your personal life?

Stephanie:

Easy! I have no personal life! Haha. My work takes up most of my time, and I’m one of those writers that if I’m not actively writing, I’m always thinking about writing. I even think of scenes before I go to sleep and some of my dreams end up novel ideas. I’m kind of in this 1000% and it’s just part of my personality now. I’m the crazy author friend & cat lady.

Do people you actually know make appearances in your stories?

Stephanie:

I have used real people in my life for character references or “based on” purposes. I’ve started to shy away from that though because some people are flattered, some not so much. Rather than make waves, I try to just go with interesting aspects of a person for the character.

Do family members or friends help with your writing? Your marketing?

Stephanie:

My mum is my sounding board for ideas. If I get stuck, I know I can just sit and start talking about my story and we’ll eventually figure it out. But I do have friends I go to when I need help too, some of my writer friends, especially Eileen Troemel! She’s been a wonderful mentor for me and is always a gem when I’m stuck.

Do you have stories you want to write that you haven’t yet?

Stephanie:

I usually write down all the ideas I get in an actual notebook my mum bought me one year for Christmas, it has a little typewriter on it in gold. When I have a good amount of them, I transfer to my laptop, do up little blurbs for them. I usually let the ideas kind of sit for a while, then go back and read them over. Some of them I keep, some of them I bin. Having said that, I have a lot of files I’m pretty jazzed about. But it’s hard to juggle new ideas when you also have a series or multiple series going on, because readers want more books with the established characters. Hopefully I’ll get to them!

Is there a story you’re afraid to write for some reason? Why?

Stephanie:

I’m afraid to write a character that I can’t say I identify with, honestly. For instance, someone not of the same ethnicity or sexuality. Mainly because I feel like those stories should be told by those particular writers. I worry about being considered a hack for writing a character and not being able to represent them, but then again…I feel there’s not enough representation for the LGBTQI+ spectrum, as well as ethnicity or even just cultures other than North American or white European. I do have an Annabel Allan project that features the heroine being mixed, white & Chinese, and the lovely Estelle Pettersen helped me with confidence in that project so, so much! I think research makes a big difference, as well as getting feedback and proper education from that minority in literature. It’s another story I hope to get to soon.

Do you ever target differing age groups or demographics with your writing?

Stephanie:

I try to ignore that stuff while I’m writing. I just let the Muse talk and write down what they say. Sometimes I end up with something that appeals to certain groups or demos, but I never aim for it. I usually write what I want to read or what I’m inspired to attempt. “Fright Club” came about when I was reading The Southern Vampires series (True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse) and Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series. I love that urban fantasy genre and the character of Evie came to me. So, I started writing it. I had a blast doing it too, and now I have ideas for multiple installments and the second book written.

Have you ever written non-fiction? If so, what?

Stephanie:

I have a memoir I’m working on, mainly because it’s a great way of keeping details of my memories. I lost my grandmother when I was twelve, and we were very close. She’s actually the reason I want to be successful as a writer. She used to make up stories for me and even wrote a novel in the 70’s, tried to get it published, but was ultimately rejected. I still have the rejection letter. I kind of want to do it for her, as well as myself. But there are memories of her I want to keep fresh, so I write them down. I don’t know if I’ll ever release it, but it’s nice to have to look back on.

Are you a ‘normal’ person who likes to write, or do you consider yourself more of the tormented/driven ‘artist’ type?

Stephanie:

As I said, writing is kind of my personality now. I definitely don’t see myself as “normal” but I feel the tormented part was just a phase in life that I’m now beyond. I’m definitely driven though, very ambitious, so I try to make my work a priority.

Do you drink? Why or why not?

Stephanie:

I do not drink, never have. I honestly have never been drunk before, or even tipsy. I dislike the taste of alcohol, so it’s never really been in my lifestyle. I’ve also never done drugs either. I think the “why” for that is just that I’ve never been interested. It’s not something I’ve been eager to try or do.

Are you married? How does being a writer affect that? Has your marriage affected the way you write love stories?

Stephanie:

I am a single Pringle right now, though I have found that most of the people I have dated often are uncomfortable with the fact that I write for a living as well as the subject matter I write about. I don’t know if it’s the thought of being a character reference/the fact that real events often inspire me that deters them, or because my life is kind of public due to my work. Everyone knows me as both Stephanie Douglas and Annabel Allan, which is a bit of a damper on the love-life.

If you could see one of your stories made into a movie, which one would you pick and why?

Stephanie:

I would actually love for my NOLA vampires in The Raven Series (under R. M. Draven) to either be a film or a TV show. I just think that history and vampires hasn’t really been done enough—it’s mostly modern settings, like in “Fright Club”. But I do have hopes for “Fright Club” to be adapted too, as I feel it would make a pretty epic franchise.

How does your life experience influence your writing?

Stephanie:

I think experiences shape who we are and we’re constantly growing and changing as people. I don’t think we’re ever the ultimate “this is how I am” because things change and people change. I think I try to keep that in my stories. We don’t stay the same forever and that goes for characters too. They grow, they develop. That’s part of the reason I rewrote the third instalment in the Smoke Chaser series, “Fireline”. I’ve grown as a writer and a person, so I could see how it wasn’t working. The characters didn’t grow with me, so I had to change that. I think it’s much stronger now having made the changes.

Do you try to keep your stories within their pre-determined genres, or do you just tell the story your way regardless of genre expectations?

Stephanie:

I definitely just write. In The Raven Series, I was trying to keep it just the paranormal element, but by the fifth instalment, I added fantasy elements as well. I think again, it’s all about growth, and setting the expectations and rigid structure isn’t going to really let something grow to its full potential. A story should not only grow up, but out.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what kinds? Does music influence your stories?

Stephanie:

I usually make a quick playlist on how I’m feeling before I start the script. Sometimes if I need more music, I put my music on shuffle, try to see if there’s a song that has a certain beat that feeds the Muse. Sometimes it surprises me! For “The Beast of Bradley Downs” it was all playlists from high school, dark, gritty, metal. But when I did the Smoke Chaser series, it was all 90’s pop. Usually for when I do historical settings, I end up on a classical and opera kick.

Have you ever written a story based on a personal experience you had? If so, what was it about?

Stephanie:

I actually have! My horror novel, “Summoned: A Battle With Darkness” was inspired by spooky things happening around my apartment. I also drew inspiration from my mother’s own experiences with the paranormal in the past. It’s just easy to sometimes fall back on reality, especially in horror. The real stuff is often the scariest.

Do you let real-life events influence your work, or is there a ‘disconnect’ between your stories and world/national/local events?

Stephanie:

I try to keep a disconnect unless I can’t avoid it. I want readers to be able to escape into the world I’m creating, so I try to keep real-world stuff out of it. Unless it’s something historical where the history is important, ie. The French Revolution or even the American Revolution.

Is your writing time planned out or structured? Do you go on writing ‘benders’?

Stephanie:

It depends on what story I’m writing. I have found that lately, I write best in the afternoon and later in the evening. I try to follow a schedule while I’m actively working on a story, especially if I have a deadline. I also always have either a word count goal or a page count goal in mind when I start for the day, based on what my target is for the end product and that deadline.

What to you is the most rewarding aspect of being a writer?

Stephanie:

I think it’s when a reader says to you how much they love a story you created. Especially if they go out of their way to tell you. I had a woman get in contact with me on my FB page, tell me how much she loved the Smoke Chaser series and what it meant to her. It blew me away, because she really could have just left it at a review, but she went out of her way and told me. It made my week, made me realize that I was actually reaching people.

Who is your favorite author, and why?

Stephanie:

The late Anne Rice has always been my favourite author. I started reading her stories when I was ill and it required surgery, back in 2009. This was after I fell into writing, but she inspired The Raven Series and my love for New Orleans. Basically, it was sort of like fan fiction, in that I wanted more of Lestat in the 18th century…so I was like, okay, I’ll create my own vampire in the 18th century in NOLA. So, Eduard La Roche was born and he’s had a pretty adventurous time in the Quarter of 1775.

If you could pick anyone to narrate one of your books, who would it be?

Stephanie:

I’m actually hoping that if “Edgeplay” gets the audio book treatment that Lilly Canon will do the narration for it. Sometimes, you meet someone and their voice just puts you in mind of your character. It doesn’t even need to be a big Hollywood celebrity, but a friend you meet through other friends. When I heard Lilly’s voice for the first time while doing her and Kyle’s podcast “Speak Seductively” I was just like, man! Ava’s voice sounds exactly like that. Sexy, sultry, yet confident and bold.

Which character of yours is your favorite? Why? Whom would you pick to play him/her/it in a movie?

Stephanie:

This is actually a tough question! I think my favourite character is Evelyn Walker from “Fright Club” and the Bite Scene series. I see her as a Rachel Weisz type, specifically from The Mummy (1999). It’s why I named the character Evie. She’s funny and relatable, yet has that charisma. I feel like she still has so much growing to do and I can’t wait to see where it takes me. For a film/TV adaptation…I don’t know, I don’t know who could play Evie. I think I’d like an unknown who just is Evie.

Do you write when you take a vacation, or do you prefer to simply relax?

Stephanie:

The only vacation I’ve taken as an adult was to NOLA and that was for research purposes. Other than that, it was Disney when I was a kid, and I wasn’t into writing yet. When I went to New Orleans it was basically trying to soak up everything I could about the French Quarter and the history, and I remember writing a chapter in the hotel as well. All the places I plan to visit (when travel is possible) are mainly for research purposes, so I’ll be writing a book in my head while I’m there.

Do you prefer to read fiction that’s similar to what you write, or do you pick different types of stories?

Stephanie:

I think I read similar fiction in that I read a lot of romance novels. If I want to disconnect from work (which is rare) I’ll read a saucy Highland romance. That’s kind of my go-to for shutting my mind down, I don’t know why. But there are genres I don’t read because I’m not too enthused about it, like sci-fi or certain fantasy stories. I guess because I don’t write those genres. I read to feed the Muse, so I end up giving them what they really enjoy, which is romance.

What’s one quirky thing about you that your readers might not know?

Stephanie:

I watch the same movies over and over and over. Legit, I can watch certain films repeatedly. And I mean that in that, when it ends, I start it over again. I always joke with my mum, saying, “Let’s play a game. How many times can I watch X in a day?” It’s a compulsion due to my having obsessive compulsive disorder, but it’s also part of my process now, and again, just me! Haha.

What’s your favorite movie? Why?

Stephanie:

I usually kind of lie with this question when I’m asked it! Haha. I usually say either Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Dangerous Liaisons. They arefavourites, don’t get me wrong, but if someone said I could only watch one movie for the rest of my life, it’d be Jurassic Park. It was the first movie I vividly remember seeing in theatres. I think the VHS came out in the summer of ’94, so I got that for my birthday, my grandmother ordered it for me. I kind of went dinosaur crazy after seeing it and everything I owned was either JP or had dinosaurs on it. I even wanted to be a paleontologist too, from age 4 until high school, when interests shifted.

Do you set up events to meet your readers, or is your interaction with them strictly online?

Stephanie:

I’m kind of an inside person, haha. I would love to do signings and readings eventually, but my interaction so far has been strictly online. Hopefully, once things clear up with the pandemic, we can do book signings and events.

Have you ever had to exhaustively research something (say, history) for any of your books?

Stephanie:

Pretty much everything I write needs some sort of research done. I did a lot of research on 18th century fashion, as well as the history in both France and NOLA for separate projects. I also did research on BDSM elements I’m not familiar with, stuff that I felt I wasn’t versed enough in to explain in the Goode Pain series. Sometimes it’s not only portraying things accurately, but also safely.

THANK you, Stephanie, for gracing the pages of virginiawallace.com today! And best of luck to you in the future!!!

ORDER STEPHANIE’S BOOKS (AND STALK HER) HERE!!!!

https://linktr.ee/sdouglasauthor

‘ALL GONE’ by S.K. White: A Review and Author Interview

I am SO excited for this release!!! So without any further review, ladies and gentlemen, meet my teammate from Black Velvet Seductions, S.K. WHITE!!!

Blurb

Are the newly discovered crop circles an invitation to the second coming or a first contact? Investigative reporter, Paige Martin, finds herself thrust into a perilous mystery. The search for answers takes her on a wild adventure of survival, betrayal, and romance. Join Paige on her search for answers and the adventure of a lifetime.

Review

I haven’t read a good science fiction novel in years …

Enter ‘All Gone’, by S.K. White! It’s a rock-solid tale, written in the tradition of H.G. Wells and Isaac Asimov. To be perfectly honest with you, I’m a bit surprised that it was published by Black Velvet Seductions—a romance imprint. ‘All Gone’ has a strong romance element to it, sure, but as far as I can tell it’s straight-up science fiction.

Which makes it AWESOME!!!

I found the lead characters quite relatable. Not only did I find them relatable, but I also found them to be very balanced. One of my pet peeves is characters with one-sided personalities, whether that personality is too sappy, or too hard-nosed. The best character is one in which strength and softness strike a balance. In that sense, Paige and Nick are amazing characters. Both have an edge, a strong—or in Nick’s case, even violent—streak, but their strength doesn’t tarnish their inborn sense of compassion. They’re tough, sure, but they’re still good people. They treat others with courtesy and respect, and I love them for that.

And then there’s Logan …

I can’t comment on him for spoiler reasons, but I don’t like him at all. Which is also good writing. You can only dislike a character if his or her story is told well.

We’ve all read ‘alien abduction’ tales before. It’s difficult to put a new spin on an old genre, but S.K. White figured it out. Okay, so the aliens make legions of people disappear. We’ve read that before, but it’s the ‘why’ of the matter that makes this tale truly shine! And that’s all I’m gonna say. No spoilers! But yeah, this story does have a strikingly original approach to the ‘alien abduction’ genre.

I will point out that some readers might dislike the secular-humanist viewpoint of some of the characters. A few of them seem to hold the unspoken assumption that those who look at the mass disappearances from a faith-based perspective must somehow be superstitious rubes. Also, the sociology-political philosophy of the aliens is disturbing as well. Some would call it ‘environmental sustainability’, while others would refer to it as ‘Eco-Fascist genocide’. It is a testament to S.K. White’s writing prowess that I haven’t the foggiest idea what her politics or religion are, and to be honest I don’t care. Inserting one’s obvious sociology-political leaning into a novel is a ham-handed faux pas, and she certainly does not. This story is just told with an acceptance of modern reality, for better or for worse, and that’s what makes it resonate so well with the reader.

It feels real, ya know?

I hafta admit, I kinda bludgeoned S.K. White for this script. I’m like that. I’m smugly pleased to have access to books that the general public hasn’t seen yet …

So here’s my message to the general public: YOU’RE GONNA LOVE THIS BOOK!!!

‘All Gone’, by S.K. White. Give it a read!

Author Interview

When did you start writing? What made you first decide to try your hand at it?

I first started writing in high school in a creative writing class. It was there I discovered a love for short stories and poetry.

What was your first published work? What do you think of it now?

I had my first poem published in one of my high school annuals. Later, I received third place in a poetry contest. Of course, the winners made it into the local paper. It’s funny to look back on the writings I did in high school and college. After college, I had other poetry published in anthologies throughout the years. The first book I published was a children’s book when I was teaching. That was a fun experience. I did assemblies in schools and visited classrooms throughout the state.

How do you balance writing with your personal life?

Balancing is hard. In the early years, when my son was at home, I had to squeeze it in whenever I could. Now, I have more time and do most of my writing at night.

Do people you actually know make appearances in your stories?

I think my characters are a combination of many people I know. Nora Ephron always said,‘Everything’s copy’. Meaning, we take our experiences, parts of ourselves and the people we know, and then take all of those perceptions and create the characters and worlds they live in.Everything that happens in your life usually ends up on the pages in one form or another; we’re the product of our experiences and our writing reflects that.

Do family members or friends help with your writing? Your marketing?

Yes, I have one family member who is kind enough to read and edit for me, but most of my friends and family just lend-an-ear on a new idea for a book. As far as marketing, friends and family promote my books to everyone they know and do what they can.

Do you have stories you want to write that you haven’t yet?

Yes, I do. I have a whole book of ideas.So, when the mood strikes, I can pluck an idea from my book and roll with it. Fortunately, the good ones seem to bubble up to the top just at the right time.

Is there a story you’re afraid to write for some reason? Why?

Not really. If the muse speaks, then the challenge is on.

Do you ever target differing age groups or demographics with your writing?

Absolutely. From the very start, I challenged myself to write one story or book for every age group; and I have done that, but not all of them are published. However, early in my writing career, I found a publisher that chose one of my children’s stories about a visually impaired Native American boy on a vision quest. Fortunately, that children’s book fulfilled all the age groups all at once, so the pressure was off. I’ve shared that book with every age group—from readings in senior centers to small children in public libraries. I even shared a copy of the book in braille (that a member from the Commission of the Blind embossed for me) at the K-12 schools that I visited. Working with the Commission and members of the Nez Perce Tribe was deeply rewarding.

Have you ever written non-fiction? If so, what?

I did. I started my autobiography or memoir. Problem is, knowing when to cut it off. Also, having the courage to write a tell-all and resisting the urge to turn it into fiction. Fiction is easier, there’s not as much blow-back or the risk of hurting the feelings of the people you know. 

Are you a ‘normal’ person who likes to write, or do you consider yourself more of the tormented/driven ‘artist’ type?

Well, I’m not normal, so I must be the tormented/driven ‘artist’ type. One might describe me as a recluse. I’m the weird lady on the corner,happily tucked away in a quiet corner of the world, writing in solitude.

Do you drink? Why or why not?

I did enough in my younger years. These days I’m pretty much a teetotaler. Perfectly happy with a hot cup of tea with a splash of cream.

Are you married? How does being a writer affect that? Has your marriage affected the way you write love stories?

Yes, I’m married. I probably drive my husband crazy;I’m always reading a paragraph to him or pondering a new idea. He’s learned to just listen and nod. Being married hasn’t affected the way I write love stories at all. I remember one time, after my first manuscript, my husband read it and said, “I hope I’m Evan (the hero) and not the villain. After that first manuscript, I still get the attentive nod, but once in a while, it’s accompanied by a raised eyebrow. And that arched brow usually tells me this passage or draft is pretty good. Fortunately, no matter what, upon the publication of one of my books, he gives me a hug and says, “I’m proud of you.”

If you could see one of your stories made into a movie, which one would you pick and why?

That’s interesting. When I write, I visualize my character like they were in a movie. The way they speak, react, and move. You might say, I write scene by scene. Sometimes I’ll watch a show or movie and think a particular actor or actress would be a great Nick or Paige from All Gone or a great Whitney or Jason from Bounce. Therefore, it’s easy for me to picture Bounce and All Gone as a movie. As-a-matter-of-fact, I’ve had people tell me both would be great movies. Not likely, but a girl can dream.

How does your life experience influence your writing?

I think everything I’ve been through: the good, the bad, and the ugly, has influenced everything I write. All those lived experiences and the things I observe filters into the characters I create and the worlds I construct around them. 

Do you try to keep your stories within their pre-determined genres, or do you just tell the story your way regardless of genre expectations?

I just tell the story and let the story determine where it fits. I let the story speak.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what kinds? Does music influence your stories?

Always. Music is often the inspiration for some of my creations; and although some songs change as I edit, they all become the soundtrack behind the scenes I write. I have an eclectic playlist that I use and constantly add to it.

Have you ever written a story based on a personal experience you had? If so, what was it about?

I wrote a story called, “Messy Danny.” The story centered around a student I taught in middle school that had ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyper-Active Disorder). The story chronicled his experiences in elementary and middle school. Many of the quirky qualities the teachers displayed in the story were from educators I had as a child and those I taught with. In “Messy Danny”, Danny had earned that unfortunate nickname from one of his teachers, and that nickname carried on through his elementary and middle grades. Of course, there was one teacher who understood his disability and changed his life. The story ends with a list of recommendations and lessons on study skills. 

Do you let real-life events influence your work, or is there a ‘disconnect’ between your stories and world/national/local events?

Absolutely. In “All Gone,”some of the challenges we currently face filter into the story. In fact, many of the characters tackle some of those challenges head-on, and the consequences of their choices are fully realized—both good and bad.

In my first published adult novel—written around 2014—called,“Bounce,”the real-world events snuck into Whitney’s life; and those events set the stage for the alternate worlds I created in Whit’s and Annie’s reality.First, Whitney bounces into Whit’s world and discovers a more advanced society,then later is thrust into Annie’s brutal world and experiences being ruled by an autocratic dictator called, “The Founding Father.” His ruthless military regime forbid any free thought or expression. This difficult situation required Whitney to navigate Annie’s reality with extreme caution because the consequences for her were dire.

Is your writing time planned out or structured? Do you go on writing ‘benders’?

I try to write every day, usually in the evening; but if it’s really flowing, then it becomes a full-on-bender.

What to you is the most rewarding aspect of being a writer?

It’s after the final round of editing,when I look down at the last page and push send. That satisfaction of completion is gratifying; but, even better, is dreaming of all the possibilities afterward.

Who is your favorite author, and why?

That’s a hard one. There are so many and it keeps changing. However, there was one book that changed my life. One of my amazing high school teachers suggested I read it. So, the book that opened the world to me was called “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran. If an author can crack open a reader’s limited view of the world and expose them to new experiences, that’s an amazing accomplishment. One I hope to achieve someday.

If you could pick anyone to narrate one of your books, who would it be?

Probably Cate Blanchett. I’d like her to narrate,“All Gone.”I’d want a female voice to represent Paige’s voice.She’s the main character and is an investigative reporter.

Which character of yours is your favorite? Why? Whom would you pick to play him/her/it in a movie?

It’s hard to pick one because I love them all. But if I had to choose… In “All Gone”,it’s definitely Nick.He’s complicated and so fun to write. I would pick Ben Robinson from (ANIMAL KINGDOM) or Luke Grimes from (YELLOWSTONE) to play his character. Nick’s a ruggedly handsome guy and complex; both actors could do an amazing job. 

Do you write when you take a vacation, or do you prefer to simply relax?

Even on vacation, I jot down notes. I’ll see something or hear something I think I can use and have to write it down. I’ve even pulled my car over to write down that perfect sentence. Also, I’ve crept out of bed in the middle of the night to scribble a phrase or idea on a notepad.No rest for the obsessed.

Do you prefer to read fiction that’s similar to what you write, or do you pick different types of stories?

I choose different types of stories. If it piques my interest, I read it.

What’s one quirky thing about you that your readers might not know?

I don’t know how quirky it is, but my friends tell me that if they tied my hands down, I couldn’t speak. It’s true. My hands flail around when I talk. I’m very animated and expressive with them.When I taught a hearing-impaired student in one of my elementary classes, I learned a little bit of sign language. I taught my students the alphabet and a few signs just for fun. In fact, I almost studied to be a speech therapist twice in my life. Once, right after I received my B.A. in Education; and then later, when I worked for a school district. But I ended up teaching Title 1 Reading instead.

What’s your favorite movie? Why?

Dragonfly. That’s the one movie I can watch over and over. It gets me every time. Okay, it doesn’t hurt that Kevin Costner is in it(I’m a fan) and the amazing Kathy Bates.Or that it deals with the afterlife—which is a fascinating topic. It also has all the makings of a great movie and checks several boxes: thriller,mystery, suspense, and romance.

Do you set up events to meet your readers, or is your interaction with them strictly online?

I’ve done both; but currently, it’s online.

Have you ever had to exhaustively research something (say, history) for any of your books?

I love this question. Yes, for “All Gone,” I researched several science-related theories, military procedures and weapons. There was extensive research for Bounce in science as well. With Emily’s Cabinet—a complex time travel novel— (unpublished) there was a great deal of history required for different time periods.It was extensive and exhausting, but rewarding. I loved every minute.

What’s a question I haven’t asked that you’d like to answer?

I can’t think of any. Your questions are pretty thorough. Thank you for putting all the time and effort into this interview. It has been a treat to go down memory lane on some of your questions. It brought up things I haven’t thought about in a long time.

THANK you, S.K. White, for gracing the pages of virginiawallace.com today! Here’s hoping for a bright literary future for you!

Feel free to stalk S.K White: https://linktr.ee/skwhite

FLEEING MADNESS

This is a piece I wrote back in 2009. Obviously, I was in a bit of a cynical place back then. While I honestly don’t feel this way anymore, I do think there is nevertheless an element of truth to what I had to say back then. See yeah … this was me, in ’09. – V

‘I never knew what changed you… Did they paint your dreams?’

                                                            – Nevermore Lyric, from ‘Dreaming Neon Black’

Art is insanity.

?

My better half asked me the other day why he never sees me drawing pictures anymore. He loves my old paintings, and he shows them off proudly when our friends come to visit. He often prods me to play guitar for him, too. Sometimes I do, because I love him and I like seeing him smile. Thankfully, he’s not much of a reader; he seldom delves into my old writings, and that’s probably a good thing. He would see far more of me in them than he’d want to, and he would come to know me far better than anyone should wish to know their lover.

From time immemorial (or at least as far back as I can remember, immemorial or not) I was an artist. Childhood crayons turned into pencils, which became ink pens, and then evolved into paintbrushes. Schoolwork essays became short stories, which matured into novels, which then blossomed into epics. Head-bobbing to hard rock led to guitar playing, that …

And there I stopped.

Rather suddenly, actually, for I learned something over my short little lifetime:

Everything has a price tag.

Everything has a price tag, and you will pay it. No one cheats death, for instance; it is the price tag attached the unavoidable act of living. The price of love is loss. The price of finding God is the abandonment of self. The fee for freedom is the unholy carnage we know as war.

Every eternal constant is paid for by its own polar opposite, creating a pell-mell kaleidoscope of endless juxtaposition. Those who think that they can avoid paying the price end up paying double the price, reeling as fate deals them its hand in gleeful vengeance. Everything has a price …

And the price of art is madness. The more you seek of one, the more of the other you will find, until at last you cease to make coherent sense. The world around you becomes a surreal fog, scarcely more than an evanescent haze that irritates you at best. The only thing that is real to the artist is himself … and his fantasies, without which ‘himself’ would soon become a meaningless concept.

His self-inflicted poison might be visual imagery. Or maybe it’s music, and he despairs that the rest of us will ever understand the messages conveyed by his notes. For notes speak in a language that transcends the mundane-ness of words, but alas … only a few can translate their whispered messages.

Perhaps his self-destructive muse is the written word. I don’t mean the ‘written word’ as it pertains to the journalist, or the random scribbler. No, I am talking about the ‘written word’ as in Poe, Twain, and Mary Shelley. Perhaps he wallows in tales best left unspoken, and views the world through the multiple personalities that he’s conjured from his own fractured being.

I myself leapt into a mystical pool of self-obsessed thought, first jumping from the diving board of visual media. Thirsting for more, I swam toward the deeper waters of the written word. I scrambled out of the pool before Music consumed me … but in the years prior, I sold my soul in exchange for gifts that enriched my life no one whit.

Artists are a broken lot, a twisted breed that redefines ‘narcissism’. Without exception, the artist—more so than anyone else—lives in two worlds: The one into which he was forced by ignominious indignity of birth, and the one he himself has created.

The problem is, no one was ever meant to play god save God Himself. With every nibble from the Tree of Knowledge, a burning flare is tossed on your behalf toward the Tree of Life. Artists feel pain like no one else, and consequently they fear it so badly that they cannot pull their thoughts from it. Artists see life more clearly than anyone else ever could … and they run screaming from it, diving into maudlin, feverish creation until life at last offers them some relief by becoming a bit blurry.

As every fantasy—every picture, paragraph, and note—becomes clearer, life becomes less clearly defined. And the better the artist becomes at art, the more he fails at life. The more he grasps the transcendent, the less he is able to handle the humdrum. Careers fail, marriages fall, addictions form, relationships strain, and the only relief for the artist is more of the same behavior that caused his melancholia in the first place.

This cycle is breakable.

But only barely, and relapses are quite frequent …

Artists have a lot in common with alcoholics, I think.

SEVEN FORBID presents: PARAMOUR by Virginia Wallace (A Preview)

The girl sat up in bed, stretching her arms wide as she yawned herself awake.

This, she thought as she lay back down with a smile, was a good way to spend her nineteenth birthday. Holed up in her lover’s tiny lakeside cabin nestled deep in the woods of the Adirondack Mountains.

It was a welcome respite from the last few days’ turmoil.

Her affair with the old man had begun as soon as they’d met, at his daughter’s graduation ceremony … the ceremony at which his future mistress was also graduating. While she’d been appalled by the old man’s advances, she was also drawn to him.

Or at least, to his money.

But the old man had been unwilling to leave his wife, and insisted on maintaining his relationship with the young lady as it had begun: an affair. He made her send him a video of herself taking her birth control pills every single morning.

But the girl was an ambitious thing, and became deeply embittered by having no power over the old man, no angle from which she could manipulate him. And so she finally pulled the trigger, and told his wife about the affair.

She’d hoped for a monetary settlement, some ‘hush money’ to keep her from talking to the press. That, she assumed, would have been the end of it. She would have preferred to go on as a newly minted trophy wife, an undeserving heiress. But alas, such was not to be.

Somehow the old man had seemed strangely ambivalent about the tattling to his wife. He’d brushed off the explanations, the self-righteous declarations of ‘wanting to be honest,’ and invited his young lady love here for the weekend. He’d made sure that his ‘love’ had her birth-control tablets and he his erectile dysfunction pills, and thus they were off.

The girl sat up, adjusting the top on her gauzy nightgown as she finally began to perk up. It suddenly struck her that something in the room smelled very enticing.

She smiled as she saw the spread laid out for her on the nightstand. Fresh pancakes with cinnamon, whipped cream, and sliced bananas—her favorite breakfast. There were crisp bacon slices laid out to balance the sweet pancakes with their salty, savory goodness, and a tall glass of ice-cold milk.

The young woman ate her breakfast with gusto, thoroughly enjoying the meal. The day would come, she knew, when she’d have to count calories, when she couldn’t just eat whatever she wanted. But for now, she was still a teenager. The whipped cream and bacon would have no effect whatsoever on her long, lean legs and taut stomach.

As she finished up, she could hear the old man puttering around the kitchen. Dishes clinked here and there, and the faucet ran every once in a while. Smiling, the girl gathered up her dishes and climbed out of bed, padding down the hallway toward the tiny kitchen.

“Hello, love!” she chirped.

Nothing.

There was no one there.

She set her dishes in the sink, looking curiously around. Where had the old man gone?

He’d just been here, that much was certain. Hadn’t she just heard him loading the dishwasher?

The girl opened the dishwasher; it was empty, and dry as a bone. The cabinets were still full of dishes, and the sink wasn’t even wet.

Had she drifted off from the carbohydrate-heavy pancakes, and begun dreaming again? Perhaps the old man had left her breakfast and gone into town for a while.

The young woman looked out the kitchen window. No, the old man hadn’t left; his luxury sedan was still parked in the gravel driveway.

She began to feel nervous, restless.

Then she laughed at herself, as the hallway toilet flushed. Smiling, she headed back down the short hallway.

“Hello?” she whispered, tapping on the bathroom door. “Love?”

She waited a moment, and then opened the bathroom door.

There was no one there.

Surely, she should have seen him exiting the bathroom door, yes? The girl frowned, feeling a strange sense of nervousness again.

Then she heard a dresser drawer shutting in the bedroom.

Internally laughing at herself, she headed for the bedroom. “Hello? Love?”

Nothing.

But the girl took a fearful step backwards, nonetheless.

The bedroom trash can lay overturned on the floor. Scattered upon the bed were dozens of empty pill packages, which the girl recognized as once containing the old man’s erectile dysfunction medicine.

And scattered all throughout the torn packages were birth-control pills, intact, uneaten, as they always had been during her affair with the old man. She’d been popping aspirin in the videos she’d sent to him, calming his fears while ever hoping that he’d get her pregnant, that he’d give her some means of wreaking a campaign of extortion upon his estate.

The girl jumped as she heard the riding lawnmower starting up in the garage.

She ran into the garage, suddenly frightened. The old man knew about her attempts at getting pregnant. This she knew now. Was he angry with her? Had he brought her up here to threaten her—or even worse?

She threw open the door to the attached garage, and jumped over the steps.

“HELLO? LOVE?”

Nothing.

The lawnmower sat idle, covered with spider webs. The garage didn’t even smell of exhaust, as it should have if the lawnmower had been started within its plywood walls.

Terrified, the girl yanked open the garage door and ran outside in her nightgown.

“WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!” she screamed at the trees. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”

The trees, resplendent in their autumn glory, hung as still as hanged bodies. There should have been a breeze causing their leaves to rattle. The morning shadows should have been dancing on the forest floor while the birds sang merrily.

Nothing …

TO FIND OUT HOW PARAMOUR – AND OTHER STORIES – END, YOU CAN ORDER SEVEN FORBID AT: Amazon.com: Seven Forbid eBook : Wallace, Virginia: Books

TO CONNECT WITH ME: https://linktr.ee/VK_Wallace1378

MEET KEREN HUGHES!!!

It’s not often you meet a novelist as accomplished as Keren Hughes …

Keren lives in the UK, and is one of the veterans of Black Velvet Seductions Publishing. She’s a wonderful teammate in addition to being a literary veteran, so let’s get to KNOW her better!

(All opinions and statements contained in this interview are solely those of the author providing them, and may not necessarily reflect my own. – Virginia)

When did you start writing? What made you first decide to try your hand at it?

I first started writing when I was 15. I was an avid lover of Point Horror and Point Romance books at the time. I wanted to be a Point Horror author, so I concocted a story about a woman who babysat for people and stole their children’s souls. I write it in pencil, by hand on A4 lined paper and illustrated a cover for it (badly, as I sadly lack any artistic skills). My mom was the only person who ever read it, and she gave me feedback. Then when I was 16, I wrote another. Nobody ever read that one.

Years passed and I never thought I’d actually get published. But when I had an operation on my spine that left me permanently disabled at the age of 29, I had plenty of time on my hands, so I tried my hand at another story. I was a book blogger/reviewer at the time, so I asked a couple of author friends to read it and tell me what they thought. They loved it and encouraged me to pursue getting it published.

What was your first published work? What do you think of it now?

My first published book was called Stolen. It was a paranormal romance, and played with the idea I’d had at 15, only a bit more refined. It was published in 2013. I got the rights back to it after 5 years and signed a contract for it with a different publisher, but after a while, I concluded that I didn’t want it to be published again. The fact as I see it is that my writing has come a long way since then. I stopped writing PNR after that one and found a love of writing contemporary romance. I’ve written many books since that one (I’m now on my 18th) and I see each one of them as a learning curve. A chance to learn more about myself as an author, about my voice, what I want to say and how I want to say it. So now I look back on it as the book that opened a door for me into the writing community, but no longer wish to see it published as it isn’t my best work.

How do you balance writing with your personal life?

I am permanently disabled, so I have a lot of time on my hands while my teen son is at school or on holiday from school. I am a single mom, so I juggle trying to be the best parent I can be to him and the best friend I can be to those I love, whilst still taking time to cultivate love stories for people to fall in love with.

Do people you actually know make appearances in your stories?

Yes and no. The Jagged Scars Duet (Safe and Home) are based on a real-life once upon a time couple I knew when I was in my 20’s. I gave them the happy ending they never got in real life.

Other than that, I take personality traits and/or physical traits from people I know and combine them to make characters. I’ve used my best friend on more than one occasion. I base any grandmothers on my own late grandmother Pat. I’ve also used both good and bad traits from my own exes to make love interests or bad guys.

Do family members or friends help with your writing? Your marketing?

I don’t have any family. My late grandmother used to help financially. She bought an exclusive model image for me to use on one of my books. But she also helped when I did my first signing, in that she helped me get copies of my books and things to make swag until I could afford to pay her back.

My friends help me out a lot by sharing teasers and excerpts, by posting in book groups and getting the word out about my books on social media.

Do you have stories you want to write that you haven’t yet?

I have an idea for another MM story that I want to write, which I intend to get to after the MF romance that I’m currently writing.

Is there a story you’re afraid to write for some reason? Why?

Possibly FF. I have a small comfort zone––­­or should I say I did have. Once, I. only wrote MF contemporary romances of differing sub-genres. I was thinking that I wanted to try my hand at writing MM but wasn’t 100% sure I could pull it off. Some people say to “write what you know”, and obviously, I know nothing of being a gay man. I was scared to step out of my comfort zone, but I did it. Then I wrote another and another. The most recent of which being an enemies-to-lovers story, which I feared writing in case I didn’t get it right. But I have valued alpha and beta readers, with whom I entrusted that story, and they were all of the opinion that it was one of my best books yet.

In that story, I had an FF couple. I was asked if I. would give them their own book, as people wanted to know what happened to them. But I declined because I fear stepping out of my––albeit expanded somewhat––comfort zone.

Do you ever target differing age groups or demographics with your writing?

Not really. I would say my books are 18+ but are received well by both younger and older readers.

Have you ever written non-fiction? If so, what?

In short, no I haven’t.

Are you a ‘normal’ person who likes to write, or do you consider yourself more of the tormented/driven ‘artist’ type?

I would like to think I am normal. But what really is ‘normal’ these days? It’s all about perception.

Do you drink? Why or why not?

I do. I like whiskey especially. But I’ll also drink beer, wine, gin and vodka. I don’t drink a lot, as I am on medication for my ailments.

If you could see one of your stories made into a movie, which one would you pick and why?

Honestly, I don’t think I’d like to see any of them made into a movie because I fear that they’d want to change things about my story. I see too many movies that don’t stick all that closely to the original story. BUT, if I was consulted about changes and had influence, then I would have to go with Whiskey Lullaby. It’s one of my personal favourites. It’s about a country music star who is tired of the limelight. He’s jaded. The music he once held so dear no longer seems to call to him. So, he takes a break (mid-tour, much to the chagrin of his manager) and ends up in small town River’s Edge. There he meets a feisty pink-haired single mom. I won’t say much about their story but suffice to say that sparks fly and although he didn’t go looking for love, it found him anyway.

How does your life experience influence your writing?

There are things that happen in real life that I take to the page. It might be a person I’ve met that becomes a character, or it might be an experience that I, or someone I know, has gone through. I like to write about realistic things, relatable people and things that could happen between them, whether those things be good or bad.

Do you try to keep your stories within their pre-determined genres, or do you just tell the story your way regardless of genre expectations?

I don’t think of myself as writing to tropes. Yet in the end, they mostly end up in one. It’s subconscious though. Except for when I wrote my MM enemies-to-lovers. That one, I wanted to prove to myself that I could write ETL, so I did. But normally, I will just write the story that comes to me, no matter what sub-genre/trope they end up in.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what kinds? Does music influence your stories?

A big fat YES. Music is a big influence for me. I used to play a little guitar and a little piano as a teen. I’ve grown up with a love of a lot of genres of music, and a lot of different artists. I am a fan of 80’s/90’s stuff mostly, but if pushed to choose, I am actually a country girl at heart. I love country music with a passion.

As for writing, I have separate Spotify playlists available for all of my books. I’ll add songs to them as I write. Like, this one I’m working on now has mostly 80’s/90’s––almost cheesy––music on it. I’ve got a lot of boybands from my youth on there like Westlife, Boyzone, A1, but also female artists such as Lisa Loeb, Shakespeare’s Sisters, Meredith Brooks (the song ‘Bitch’) and Alanis Morrisette.

I usually include some sexier songs for when I’m writing sexy scenes, romantic songs for when I’m feeling mushy, and a lot of the playlists end up having bands like The Cure, The Smiths, New Order, Depeche Mode… I have eclectic tastes, but they’ll always come back to country 😉

Have you ever written a story based on a personal experience you had? If so, what was it about?

I have. Admitting this takes a lot, but the duet I talked about before––Jagged Scars Duet––was based on me and an ex-boyfriend. In the story, Elise is a disabled single mom, the same as me. Drew is a paramedic she dated in her 20’s and they meet up again when they’re older and fall in love all over again. I gave them the HEA that my ex and I never had. It was intended for me to only write SAFE––I tend to write stand-alone novels––but ‘Drew’ asked me if he’d get a story. At first, I said no. But the more I mulled it over, the more I liked the idea, so that is where the book HOME comes from.

Their story is not written the way our story happened, but it isinfluenced by our past. I would say it’s about 70% made up.But then the other 30% consists of real-life experiences, such as being in a DV relationship for years prior to meeting ‘Drew’––which I was, for around 4.5 years, and the fact that Drew had demons of his own.

Is your writing time planned out or structured? Do you go on writing ‘benders’?

I write when I feel inspired. I won’t force the words to come. I learned the hard way that doing so only ends up in me having a bad case of writer’s block. I used to approach writing very goal-oriented and cared about the word count for the day/week/month. But then I tried a different approach that’s now stuck. Instead of writing for the word count, I write for the words themselves. It doesn’t matter how much––or little––I add in one go; it matters that I make those words themselves count. They matter to the story and that’s what matters to me. So, I could add 1K one day, but 10K another.

What to you is the most rewarding aspect of being a writer?

There are several things that are rewarding about being a writer, but my two main ones are getting my stories out there for people to read, and readers loving those stories. When I am emailed by a reader, or they message me on social media to say that they loved a certain story or a certain aspect of it, that really makes me happy.

Who is your favorite author, and why?

Oh my goodness, I have so many. Too many to name really. I would say at the moment, I am loving reading books by CM Albert, Casey L Bond and Rue Volley.

Which character of yours is your favorite? Why?

It’s most likely to be between Tyler and Zach (MM enemies-to-lovers story called Love This Pain, which is under contract) and Houston and Culhwch (another MM under contract, about a rockstar and a firefighter, called Tempting The Rockstar and will be my next release).

Why? Well because as flawed as they may be, those characters mean a lot to me. Houston is a rockstar who isn’t ‘out’, whilst Culhwch––which is easier to pronounce than it looks––is a firefighter who is ‘out and proud’. They meet and quickly fall in love, but because of how he believes he’ll be perceived by his bandmates and fans, Houston is reluctant to admit that he is gay. Sometime after they split, they meet again and––not without difficulty––try to start afresh. This time though, Houston knows he has to come out to everyone and live his truth.

As for Tyler and Zach, well, that’s another story altogether. They meet on a dating app because they both come from neighbouring small towns where everyone knows everyone else’s business. They fall for one another, but Tyler has been hurt before. He was bullied throughout high school for being gay––having been out since he was 15––and he finds it hard to trust people to love him the way he is. Zach has his own personal demons and it’s up to the two of them to try and find love in the last place they expect.

Do you prefer to read fiction that’s similar to what you write, or do you pick different types of stories?

I read a lot of different genres and tropes. Mostly, I stick to MM, contemporary romance and PNR/supernatural.

What’s one quirky thing about you that your readers might not know?

Quirky? Try my whole personality LOL. Ask anyone in my ARC group, my PA, my alpha/beta readers and my friends in general. They’ll tell you that I am definitely quirky.

What’s your favorite movie? Why?

City of Angels. I cry every damn time the candle goes out, right up until the end.

But there are also a lot of other films I love, like Dirty Dancing, Grease, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, The Lost Boys, IT, Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline, Corpse Bride, UP, The Little Mermaid…Also Iron Man, most Marvel films (except Black Widow and Captain Marvel). I am a big Disney nerd, and I love Disney and/or Pixar films. Then there’s Harry Potter. My favourite of those being Prisoner of Azkaban.

Do you set up events to meet your readers, or is your interaction with them strictly online?

I have anxiety and social anxiety, so I have only ever done two signings. One was at my old high school, set up by my old English teacher-turned headmaster. The other was a huge event in Birmingham with other authors such as Jodi Ellen Malpas, Sophie Jackson, Charlotte Fallowfield, MB Feeney, and many more.

The main place I interact with my readers is in my ARC group.

What’s a question I haven’t asked that you’d like to answer?

Umm… I don’t think there are any really. But I’d like to thank you for the chance to talk books with you. I do so love to talk, a lot, about a variety of things. But there’s nothing like talking about the fictional world and our contributions to it.

THANK you for joining us, Keren! It was an honor to have you!

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CONNECT WITH KEREN!!!

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MEET LJ DARE!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to present author LJ DARE!

LJ’s writing is very near and dear to me. Her tales are reminiscent of the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson and Jane Austen. What I love best about her is how ‘PG’ she is; I was perfectly comfortable giving her stories to my teenage niece to read. The historicity of her tales – combined with her strong sense of good taste – makes her work read like it’s straight out of the nineteenth century, my favorite era in literature.

So without any further ado … LJ DARE!!!

(All opinions and statements contained in this interview are solely those of the author providing them, and may not necessarily reflect my own. – Virginia)

Blurb for The King’s Blade

After surviving a massacre, Lady Megan MacKelloch intends on seeking sanctuary with the Poor Claires for herself and her young sisters. That is until Lord John Lindsay, known as The King’s Blade, is ordered to find her.
As the Crown’s chief criminal investigator, Lindsay metes out justice as he deals with murder, betrayal and intrigue but never has he encountered such female resistance. Life has taught John and Megan not to believe in love. So, when forced into marriage by a Royal Decree, can they set aside their differences and learn to trust their hearts?

Burb for A Bride for the King

Accompanying her twin sister who is marry the Barovian King, Lady Belle Bradford agrees to switch places with her sister until after her twin has met her future husband. But when rebels surrounded the village, Belle is whisked away to safety by the King’s military commander.
Prince Nikolai Orsini, heir apparent and Supreme Commander of Barovian Forces, recognizes his only duty is to get his future Queen safely to the church on time. What he hadn’t counted on was falling in love with her. Deceived, betrayed and hunted, can these two learn to rely on love?

Blurb for The King’s Spy

Working undercover for the monarchy as the King’s Spy, Baron Donovan Forbes investigates rumors of possible abductions, espionage and treasonous plots. That is until he encounters the unpredictable Lady Eileen Fraser. Eileen will do anything to escape her older sister’s scandalous reputation. Even if it entails stealing a horse, donning a disguise, organising a rescue, or spying on Forbes’ clandestine activities. So, when forced into marriage by Royal Decree, will Novan and Eileen discover that while love at first sight is blind? But will it conquer all?

Meet LJ!

When did you start writing? What made you first heard decide to try your hand at it?

I’ve always written-poems, lyrics, skits, and have been curious about everything, asking ‘what if, why?’  I kept a journal with words I didn’t know the meaning of, then added bits of conversation I had heard, descriptions of people, places, emotions, expressions, new ideas and unusual situations. Then in college, I took a playwriting class.

What was your first published work? What do you think of it now?

The King’s Blade, novel #10 (the other eight are contemporary) & it was my 2nd historical. I am very proud of the story line that is based on historical fact.

How do you balance writing with your personal life?

I run my errands, do lunch prep, housework, gardening, laundry in the mornings. I spend my afternoons  writing, working on correcting the edits I receive, researching and/or doing social media promotion. In between this I pick up my great-grandson from school, drive my brother to his appointments, assist my husband in the office. & most important of all, I always take my clipboard with my writing on it with me.

Do people you actually know make appearances in your stories?

Not normally but in Book #6-Whispers of Deceit that is currently in the editing phase, the two little boys are a combination of my younger brothers, John & James and my Great-grandson, Brayden.

Do you have stories you want to write that you haven’t yet?

I would like to write about Hadrian’s Wall& the Roman occupation of Scotland. I was very impressed with the artifacts that are housed in the Roman Museum, near the archeological site of Vindoland west of Hexham, England.  

Have you ever written a story based on a personal experience you had? If so, what was it about?

Not an entire story but I’ve used actual life experiences I’ve had. We are retired military and have been fortunate to have traveled the world. Both my husband and I love history so we naturally gravitate toward historical places and museums. My most memorable, is in my Civil War Spies Book#3, Web of Intrigue  (which I’mwriting now) was standing on Little Roundtop at Gettysburg. I used the vertical climb of dark uneven stairs of the Drum Tower in Beijing in A Bride for a King. The storm we encountered crossing the North Sea from Copenhagen to Harwich, England in Civil War Spies Book #1, Deadly Secrets. The borderlands and St. Margaret’s Chapel  in The King’s Blade,  the grounds of Edinburgh Castle in The King’s Spy and the area of Loch Lomond in The King’s Ladies.

Do you let real-life events influence your work, or is there a ‘disconnect’ between your stories and world/national/local events?

When I write, I am very aware of how I portray all of my characters. We all have positive and negative traits. I do try to treat all with respect.

Is your writing time planned out or structured? Do you go on writing ‘benders’?

I am a planner. I create the plot and characters so that when I sit down to write I know what I’m writing and where I’m going with it. Now, does that mean that sometimes my writing doesn’t take a curve ball?  Of course it does. I don’t fight it, I go with it to see where it leads and thus far, it is better than what I had first planned by giving me more twists and turns in the plot.

What to you is the most rewarding aspect of being a writer?

For me its sitting down and creating an imaginary world that ‘lives’ for me. Since I write transformational, my goal is when readers finish my novels, they have a sense of hope, that through all adversity, love, kindness and respect conquers all.   

Do you write when you take a vacation, or do you prefer to simply relax?

I write everywhere, while sitting at the bow of a boat traveling down the Amazon River, The Nile, The Mekong, & the Yangtze. On airplanes, buses, autos, trains , in restaurants, on a park bench, and even once during Father Charlie’s Sunday sermon. I always carry a note pad and pen.

What’s one quirky thing about you that your readers might not know?

When we were stationed at Ft. Riley, KS, I taught Speech and Drama in Junction City. When we moved to Arizona, the state wasn’t hiring out of state teachers, so I went to work at the local hospital. Central Processing & Central Sterile was attached to the Surgery Department. I often worked the weekend and that meant I often times was pulled into surgery in case the surgical team needed additional supplies. Thus I became very interested in the practice of medicine. Which I’ve also had helped in my writing. When Arizona opened their hiring doors, I changed from secondary to elementary and returned to teaching. I’m short, so at least this time I was a bit taller than most of my students.

What’s your favorite movie? Why?

Gone with the Wind. The sheer scope of the subject, action, cast and characters still leave me breathless. But the fall of 2019, our Granddaughter gave us tickets for the stage play, Hamilton. Both my husband and I were blown away with the plot, talent and music of the play. 

Do you set up events to meet your readers, or is your interaction with them strictly online?

Tomorrow, I am giving a presentation at a charter school in the area. On the 9th, I will be appearing at the Aquarius Casino’s Girls’ Day Out event in Laughlin, NV. I’ve done that event since 2017 but when Covid struck it was cancelled last year but has resumed this year.

Have you ever had to exhaustively research something (say, history) for any of your books?

I love researching, so I look forward to finding the quirks and little-known facts. For me that is what makes history exciting.

THANK you, LJ, for gracing the pages of virginiawallace.com today! Thank you for your endearing, pulse-pounding tales, and here’s wishing you all the best in the future!

LJ Dare’s books are available on Amazon.com. (Sorry, no link. Amazon tends to hijack my page and drive my security programs bonkers.)

To read more about LJ Dare on virginiawallace.com: https://virginiawallace.com/2020/10/02/the-kings-blade-by-l-j-dare-a-review/