Sep 1, 2014

Meet September's Featured Author of the Month Suz deMello

Life as an author -


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"After an author’s first sale, she generally leaps to the conclusion that a thriving professional career is assured. Not so. I don’t know quite why, but my first editor (at Kensington/Zebra) treated me as though I was a smallpox carrier despite the book’s success—it sold out its print run, garnered great reviews and earned an award for the best historical romance of its year.
I found an agent and although she wasn’t very good at what she did, I managed to sell a book to Silhouette Romance, a line that folded a few years later (that was one reason she wasn’t good at what she did). Three more books to SilRom followed before the line shut down.
This was a very difficult part of my life. My father had died after a two-year bout of cancer. My marriage and my career were falling apart. My eldest brother was diagnosed with stage four cancer and one of my dearest friends committed suicide.
My writing tanked.
I’d sold four books and had written about eight additional manuscripts that my critique partners and my then-agent (different from the first) told me were wonderful. But they didn’t sell, and I didn’t know why. Still don’t.
The stress from the life-changes and the rejections gave me a writers’ block so heavy that most days I can’t write anything. Since then, I’ve published unsold manuscripts and struggled to eke out more words but believe me, it’s not easy.
And then what happened?
I hit the road. They say that “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” After my brother died—a whole saga in itself—I got going. I went all the way through Europe to Thailand, where I finally gained a measure of peace and a great deal of self-knowledge.
I learned that I don’t need very much. Big houses don’t do it for me. I lived in a room about 15x15 feet and was perfectly happy. I didn’t need a car, which made life even easier. I discovered that I don’t need a husband or a conventional life.
And I started writing again.
My friends had been telling me, “Write erotica for the online market. It’s booming!”
So I did. I took all my old manuscripts that hadn’t sold and revised them for the erotic romance market. They sold.
I’m back in California, and since I started my first simple boy-meets-girl manuscript in 1996, I’ve written seventeen complete novels—about one every year—plus a number of short stories and articles on writing. Though it’s still a challenge, my writer’s block isn’t as crushing as it once was.
But, being American, I’m an optimist.
And, being British, I maintain a stiff upper lip and carry on. "

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Author Bio

"Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written seventeen romance novels in several subgenres, including erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing.
A freelance editor, she’s held the positions of managing editor and senior editor, working for such firms Total-E-Bound, Liquid Silver Books and Ai Press. She also takes private clients.
Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.
A former trial attorney, her passion is world travel. She’s left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip."


Links

"--Find her books at http://www.suzdemello.com
--For editing services, email her at suzdemello@gmail.com
--Befriend her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sueswift, and visit her group page at  https://www.facebook.com/redhotauthorscafe
--She tweets @Suzdemello
--Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/suzdemello/
--Goodreads: http://bit.ly/SuzATGoodreads
--Her current blog is http://www.TheVelvetLair.com

Favorite Quote

Why did Rick the number-cruncher have to be so pussy-clenching, nipple-hardening, clit-wetting, squirm-inducingly sexy?


Latest Release


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"Pub date unknown
Kinky Toes
erotic romance
heat level: 3
Ellora's Cave
Blurb:
Shelbie Nathanson resents Rick Saldano's ascension to C.O.O. of her family's shoe company, a job she's wanted all her life. But she can't resist his red-hot, sexy style of lovemaking... one that focuses on her passion: shoes."


Give Away



free copy of new release




Make sure to comment for a chance to win.

Aug 31, 2014

The Power of Disillusionment – by MFRW Feature Author of the Month Lloyd A. Meeker




 

 

For years, I had a quote pinned up on the wall of my work-place cubicle attributed to congressional historian Daniel J Boorstin: “The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents, and the oceans was not ignorance, but rather the illusion of knowledge."

 

I'd like to share with you something of my enthusiasm for disillusionment – the loss of illusion. Discovery is an essential part of any plot, from clues in a murder mystery, to trust (misplaced, real or withheld) in a romance, geographic exploration in an adventure, or finding inner strength in the Hero’s Journey. While the need for discovery is always present in our stories, the context for the discovery is infinitely changeable.

 

Perhaps the most important variable is the protagonist’s own attitude toward discovery. That could be the beginning of his character arc: he may be certain he doesn’t need to change, or that he is as self-sufficient as his reputation says he is. He may be convinced a situation is hopeless. He may believe he is not worthy of love. This is where the story gets really interesting! How the hero handles that discovery is a crucial revelation of his character. What is he really made of? What he does when a cherished illusion is dispelled will show it in spades.

 

The classic example is an altruistic young person who, full of optimism and naïveté approaches the world of commerce as if everyone were as honest as she is. That person soon finds out that altruism, if it is to be a kind influence in a person's life must be tempered with realistic caution.

 

While I rhapsodize about the profound value of cognitive dissonance, I don’t enjoy the pain and sadness (or embarrassment!) I can feel when a cherished belief proves to be false. I believe emotional pain is probably the worst teacher of reality – certainly the harshest. The problem is that so often it’s the only teacher left to us because we’ve rejected kinder, less cataclysmic ones. We can be so damn stubborn or blind about what we’re certain is true – the illusion of knowledge.

 

In the case of Shepherd Bucknam, the protagonist in my new novel The Companion, disillusionment is a great but pain-inducing ally, in two particular instances. When the story begins, he doesn’t see any need for him to change. Privately, he carries a bitter disrespect for his dead alcoholic mother, believing that she didn’t really love him. He is also afraid that a recurring nightmare foretells his violent death.

 

In both these matters he discovers that what he thinks is true is not true at all, and the shock of discovery opens him to new experience and real growth as a human being. What happens next? Well, you’ll have to read the story to find out!

 

And I sincerely hope you do… :D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blurb for The Companion

 

Shepherd Bucknam hasn’t had a lover in more than a decade, and doesn’t need one. As a Daka, he coaches men in the sacred art and mystery of sexual ecstasy all the time, and he loves his work. It’s his calling. In fact, he’s perfectly content—except for the terrors of his recurring nightmare, and the ominous blood-red birthmarks on his neck. He’s convinced that together they foretell his early and violent death.

When Shepherd’s young protégé is murdered, LAPD Detective Marco Fidanza gets the case. The two men are worlds apart: Marco has fought hard for everything he’s accomplished, in sharp contrast to the apparent ease of Shepherd’s inherited wealth—but their mutual attraction is too hot for either of them to ignore.

 

Shepherd swears he’ll help find his protégé’s killer but Marco warns him to stay out of it. When an influential politician is implicated, the police investigation grinds to a halt. Shepherd hires his own investigator. Marco calls it dangerous meddling.

 

As their volatile relationship deepens, Shepherd discovers his nightmares might not relate to the future, but to the deadly legacy of a past life—a life he may have to revisit before he can fully live and love in this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buy Links, Social Media:

 

At Dreamspinner:

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5243

 

On Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Companion-Lloyd-Meeker-ebook/dp/B00M28O24S/

 

 

www.lloydmeeker.com

https://twitter.com/LloydAMeeker

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/MBe1gp

https://www.facebook.com/lloyd.meeker

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this excerpt, Shepherd is a suspect in the murder of his friend and protégé Steven Lewis. Detective Marco Fidanza, who is soon to be Shepherd’s lover, has called Shepherd to the police station for more questioning.

 

 

 

I DIDN’T see any visitor parking at the police station, so I took a meter on the street and reported to the desk. Five minutes later, Fidanza appeared and steered me to what could only be an interrogation room. Two chairs and a metal table with a welded bracket in the middle—for restraints, I guessed. Not even a wastebasket. That was it. The air smelled of pine disinfectant, but I didn’t want to think of why the place might have needed disinfecting.

He pointed to a chair. “Have a seat.” He put a recorder on the table and sat across from me. He spoke in a brusque monotone into the recorder: date, time, people present, case number, murder of Steven Lewis.

Using the same voice, he read me my rights and asked if I understood them. I said yes, and my attorney was waiting for my call if needed.

He studied the open file in front of him as if he hadn’t heard what I’d said or its warning. But then I’d threatened to call my lawyer yesterday. He probably heard that all the time.

“You say you were a friend of the deceased.” He sounded nonchalant, even bored. Even without Juergen’s warning, he didn’t fool me for a second.

“Yes, I was.”

“How close a friend?”

“I was his mentor. We were intimate friends.”

“Physically intimate?”

“Certainly. Once a month, sometimes more often. For his lesson.”

Fidanza looked up, and his lip curled. “A lesson in sex.”

I shook my head. “A lesson in sexual intimacy.”

“Come on, Bucknam. You’re saying he didn’t know how to do it?”

“Can you sing Happy Birthday, Detective?” I smiled. “I’ll bet you can.”

He scowled. “On the right occasion. What’s that got to do with this?”

“Dmitri Hvorostovsky can sing happy birthday too. Even though he sings the same notes you do, I think you’d agree it’s a very different song when he sings it.”

I leaned forward on the table and stared into Marco Fidanza’s glare. “Most men know the melody of sex and can stumble through it, pretty much in tune. I teach them how to sing their sexual intimacy like Hvorostovsky sings opera. At least as far as they can go, and as far as I can take them.”

The air crackled between us. I could tell I’d gotten to him, and it was clear he didn’t like being bested on his own turf. A small ragged vein on his temple pulsed, and his lips pressed to a thin line. I sat back in my chair.

“Very clever,” he grumbled. “So you were teaching Lewis to sing sexual opera.”

I nodded. “He was incredibly gifted—a natural—but still dangerously naïve.” I fought a lump in my throat. “We were working on that too.”

“Yes, I’m sure you’re not naïve in the least, Mr. Bucknam.” He was good. I folded my arms and replied with silence. “Did you introduce him to customers?”


“Yes, a few. He had no trouble finding his own, though.”

He drew some rectangles in a corner of his notepad. “Did you get a cut of that action?”

“No. He offered, I refused.”

“His car had no loan. Was that your doing?”

“Everyone in LA needs a reliable car, Detective. We agreed it would be a loan.”

“What about him using your, ah, studio?” “What about it?”
“Did he pay you for its use?”

“Detective, you seem fixated on money issues. That may make sense in other investigations, but it doesn’t in this one. We didn’t have any money issues. I would have covered all his costs without a thought, if he’d let me.”

He looked up, searching my face for something. “But he didn’t.”

“He was a free spirit. He didn’t like being fenced in.”

Fidanza nodded. “Were you trying to fence him in?”

“Not deliberately. And he had no trouble telling me when he felt like I was.”

He went back to his doodling. “How did you stay in touch?”

“Phone mostly. Sometimes a text.”


“What did you do together besides your, um, opera lessons?”

I couldn’t help but laugh. “Not very much.” Then I wanted to cry. The truth was that we hadn’t done anywhere near enough together. We could have done so much more.

“He loved his independence, as I said. We’d eat together once a week, maybe twice. Occasionally, we’d attend a wine tasting or some other event. One weekend, we went to a gay rodeo in Palm Springs. He loved that.”

He glanced at the papers in front of him. “So part of your, ah, mentorship included cosigning his lease and holding a key to his apartment.”

“Yes. He’d arrived in LA with nothing. No credit, almost no cash reserves. Sometimes, he was sleeping in dangerous places. He needed a place of his own. I wanted him to stay safe.”

“Right,” he said, his voice cold and dry. “That worked out well for him, didn’t it?”

“How—” I gasped, blindsided by the deliberate cruelty. “I suppose you say that to the children of every officer killed in the line of duty. You must be a real hit at police funerals.”

“I thought that might get a reaction from you.” He looked up, smug. “I was right.”

“Brilliant. You get a reaction by hitting someone with a sledgehammer. Such sophistication. Such finesse.”

My heart hammered against my ribs as I leaned forward, hating that he’d found where I hurt most. “Maybe I could have done more to protect him. I wish I had. But if you think I didn’t want the best for Stef, you are wrong, Detective. Very, very wrong.”

He shrugged, unrepentant. The door opened and a heavy-set Hispanic man, probably early fifties, with a tired, fleshy face and a soft middle came in, half dragging a chair. He parked it facing the table, sat, and sighed as if his feet had hurt all day and he’d just discovered the solution.

Fidanza cocked his head at him. “This is my partner, Detective Tomás Alvarez. He’s here to make me behave.” He picked up the recorder and turned it off before stuffing it in his pocket.

I smiled tightly at Alvarez, still stinging. “You’ve arrived too late for that, I’m afraid.”

He lifted his shoulders an inch, clearly used to the failure. “I do what I can.” He looked at his partner. “Malena called. Nicki’s over, and the little one is sick. If I want to eat, I’ve got to buy stuff at the store on the way home. I want to eat.”

“You go ahead. Mr. Bucknam and I have one more task,” Fidanza said as he closed the file and stood. He stared down at me, and I could tell he was watching for something. “I need you to identify the body, down at the Coroner’s Office. You can ride with me, if you like.”

Sweat pricked along my neck. I didn’t want to see Stef’s body. Then I surprised myself. Yes, actually I did. I wanted to say good-bye. We both deserved that. What if I got sick again? Then I got sick, it didn’t matter. I wasn’t going to try to get out of it. That’s probably what Fidanza was hoping for.

There was no way I was going to ride in his car, though. He would just try to nail me again to see how I squirmed. I shook my head. “Give me the address. I’ll meet you there.”

Aug 28, 2014

#Thursday13 Facts About #MFRWauthor Linda Bond @AuthorLindaBond

MFRW Author Linda Bond  is an Emmy award winning journalist by day and an author of romantic adventures by night.  She’s also the mother of five, four athletes and an adopted son from Cuba. She has a passion for world travel, classic movies, and alpha males. Linda currently lives in Florida, where the sun always shines and the day begins with endless possibilities. You can become a Bond girl and share in her continuing adventures at www.lindabond.com.

Today, for Thursday 13, Linda shares 13 things you might not know about her...

13 FUN FACTS FROM LINDA BOND
• I have two stepdaughters, one adopted son from Cuba, and two biological daughters, so I’ve been blessed to know motherhood in many different ways.
• I’m afraid to fly, yet accepted a ride in a U.S. Air Force Thunderbird – which travels twice
the speed of sound. I’m still afraid to fly.
• I love ketchup but hate tomatoes.
• I love late afternoon thunderstorms in Florida, the big boomers, where the thunder and lightning shakes the house.
• I named my bulldog, Sanford, after Sanford Stadium at the University of Georgia, where I spent four years performing as a majorette with the University of Georgia Redcoat Marching Band.
• I was Ms Greenville, South Carolina 1985 – while using my stepfather’s name Linda Yokum.
• My favorite movies are Gone with the Wind, Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice. Oh, love The Notebook, too.
• My favorite music is 80’s hair band rock and roll. In fact, I run to Guns – n – Roses and Bon Jovi most mornings.
• My guilty pleasure is watching reality TV. (Any of the housewives shows – please don’t’ tell anyone)
• I love dark chocolate and full‐bodied red wine.
• I’ve worked in television news, at the same TV station, with the same wonderful folks, for more than 20 years.
• I survived a fight with breast cancer, and it changed the way I enjoy my life.
• I write because I can’t stop. It’s been a life long addiction.
She recently released Alive at 5, a Mainstream Suspense, with Entangled in July.

BOOK BLURB
TV news reporter Samantha Steele is one panic attack away from losing her job. Future on the line, she sets up an easy feature story – following her mentor on an exhilarating adventure vacation.       When her mentor dies while skydiving, Samantha suspects he was murdered, and her investigative instincts lead her to gorgeous thrill-seeker Zack Hunter.

Zack is an undercover police officer investigating his uncle’s death through the same adventure vacation. Zack doesn't want Samantha investigating alongside him. The emotionally wounded loner is afraid of being responsible for a partner again, especially a journalist whose goal is to splash evidence all over the evening news.

But the striking reporter’s persistence is quite a turn-on, and Zack’s overpowering desire makes it harder for him to push her away. When the killer turns his attention to Zack, Samantha could be the only one who can save him, forcing the anxiety-riddled correspondent to finally face her greatest fear.

Meet Sam Steele and Zack Hunter.

A reporter on edge. 
A reckless, undercover police officer on a very personal mission. 
A high-octane, adrenaline rush of a journey to find a murderer begins.
Will they live to be Alive at 5?


What Reviewers Are Saying...
"Oh my gosh! I just finished proof reading this book for Entangled and I am blown away. I can't remember the last time I held my breath in fear while reading a book! THIS book is great! I read a lot of books and I very rarely leave reviews but this one calls for it. Linda Bond has written a page turner in romantic suspense. Alive at Five has everything: romance, suspense, action, alpha hero and a strong female lead! I think release is set for July 14th. I just had to sing its praises as soon as I finished reading! You have to read this one!"
- Sherry Willingham – copy editor and reviewer - Posted on Goodreads

Aug 26, 2014

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: The River Leith @LetaBlake #MFRWauthor

MFRW Author Leta Blake self-published The River Leith, a GLBT Contemporary Romance on May 13, 2014.

Memory is everything.

After an injury in the ring, amateur boxer Leith Wenz wakes to discover his most recent memories are three years out of date. Struggling to face his new reality, Leith must cope with painful revelations about his family. His brother is there to support him, but it’s the unfamiliar face of Zach, a man introduced as his best friend, that provides the calm he craves. Until Zach’s presence begins to stir up feelings Leith can’t explain.

For Zach, being forgotten by his lover is excruciating. He carefully hides the truth from Leith to protect them both from additional pain. His bottled-up turmoil finds release through vlogging, where he confesses his fears and grief to the faceless Internet. But after Leith begins to open up to him, Zach's choices may come back to haunt him.

Ultimately, Leith must ask his heart the questions memory can no longer answer. If memory is everything. Can love survive when the memory of it is gone?

Amazon Buy Link  |  Smashwords Buy Link  |  Barnes & Noble Buy Link  |  iTunes Buy Link

What Reviewers Are Saying...
"Leta Blake is fast becoming one of the most exciting new voices in the romance genre." - I'm With Geek Reviews

"Raw, beautiful, lyrical, painful, sensual, hopeful. This author gets inside all of it and then lays it open, exposed, for us. The writing. The dialogue. The characters. The love. They're all here. I recommend this to everyone." - Prism Book Alliance

Excerpt
Memory, as it turned out, was both everything and nothing. It had no substance, no form, no weight, and no color. It was described, in technical terms, as deposits of proteins within cells of the brain. However, these were words that at their heart were as mysterious and ultimately magical as any other metaphor used in an attempt to understand the concept: memory as a storehouse or set of books—a way to keep track of life’s checks and balances; or memory as meaning—a mode of life, and a way of being.
Leith knew now that all these metaphors and all these words boiled down to one thing: memory is the sum of us, the total, and if it is divided, then we are lost.
There were other people in the occupational therapy ward, and Leith studied them with a mixture of horror and envy. There was the droopy, sagging stroke victim Jan Troxell, who could tell anyone the weather report from that morning, but couldn’t remember anything else—not her daughter’s name, not her age, and not her favorite color.
There was David Mueller, for whom every day began as April 12, 2006, until he found out again, and again, and again that he had suffered a brain injury and couldn’t make any more memories.
In some ways these people repulsed Leith, leaving him breathless with terror and disgust at how close he’d come to joining their ranks. People who were shells of the beings they were before, empty and unable to give anything back to the world except for the memory that once they were more, and that they never would be again.
But in other equally scary ways, Leith watched these people with envy. They were free, utterly rudderless in a thrashing ocean, but still free. Their options had been removed from them, and they were at the mercy of the elements and the grace of people’s kindness. But they weren’t tied down to memories of who they were, of what and who they’d loved, the things they’d once dreamed, and the things they’d valued.
Leith was not free. He knew who he was, give or take the last three years of his life. It had been almost two weeks since he’d come out of the coma. The illegal blow to the back of his head during the New York Amateur Boxing Championship match had cost his opponent his career, but it had cost Leith a hell of a lot more than that.
His last memory was learning that he would soon be released from prison. In his sparse, clean cell, he’d sat on a bunk and composed a letter to Arthur asking if it would be all right to start over in Brooklyn instead of going home to New Jersey and their father.
Leith had no memory of finishing that letter. No memory of a bus trip from the jail in Florida to Arthur’s apartment in Manhattan. No memory of meeting a girl named Naomi on the ski slopes of Vermont. No memory of his father’s death and no memory of mourning by his dad’s grave. Leith only knew of these things because he’d been told. And he still didn’t know how to believe them.
About Leta Blake
While Leta Blake would love to tell you that writing transports her to worlds of magic and wonder and then safely returns her to a home of sparkling cleanliness and carefully folded laundry, the reality is a bit different. Instead, piles of laundry and forgotten appointments haunt her life, but the joy of writing and the thrill of finishing a book make the everyday chaos all worth it.

Leta’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively, but her passion has always been in writing, and she most enjoys crafting romance stories that she would like to read. At her home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.
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