First, the cover is beautiful and caught my eye immediately. As I read the book, the woman on the cover was exactly how I imagined Maddison Skye, the protagonist. She’s a talented musician who’s had a hard life, and now her determination and ambition make her unstoppable, paving the way for a bright future full of dreams and hopes. Her road won’t be an easy one – will she succeed and become a professional musician?
Second, the chemistry between Maddison and her lover, Hatch, was dynamite! Plus, I loved, loved, loved that he was a good guy! Yes, a good and wholesome man who is sexy, strong, and supportive. But, will their love last, or will Maddison’s ambition come first?
Third, I enjoyed experiencing how the characters evolved, matured, and developed. I adored Maddison all the way – she shows us how kindness can go a long way in life. Hatch is the type of guy you fall in love with immediately; he is solid and means what he says. And he treats women with respect. Finally, a romance hero who knows how to respect a woman from start to end (in the story). It was honestly such a refreshing read with loveable characters.
Finally, the themes of hope, ambition, and true love resonate well and consistently throughout the book. Everyone needs a book that makes them feel good, and this was the one for me.
Follow Maddison on the journey of her two greatest loves: Hatch, her first love, and Nashville, her lifelong dream.
Maddison Skye is a 25-year-old waitress who loves to play her acoustic guitar, write songs, and is determined to chase Nashville stardom. She is hardworking and loyal but can also be very outspoken and sometimes clumsy. Maddison has a tattoo that says, “Chase Your Dreams,” on her left forearm with an acoustic guitar and music notes; this is her daily reminder to keep chasing her Nashville dreams no matter how impossible they seem. Maddison grew up in the Pacific Northwest in Oregon.
When she was fifteen, she left home and her abusive father behind. Maddison catches a Greyhound bus with what little money she has in her pocket; she makes it to Mustang Creek, Oklahoma, and accepts a waitressing job, where she ends up meeting her first love, Hatch. Deciding to put her move to Nashville on hold, Maddison stays in Oklahoma for three years until after graduating high school, and she and Hatch move to Fort Worth. Unfortunately, they break up two years after moving to Texas; again, Nashville is on hold, and so are her dreams of the big city lights and fan-packed concert stadiums.
Years later, she is still single and focusing on chasing her country music dreams once again…then one day, by sheer chance, she crosses paths with Hatch while playing a set in a smokey downtown Fort Worth bar. Her heart stands still when she sees him, and he smiles at her as their eyes meet; Maddison prayed for this day for so long, but now that he’s returned, she doesn’t know if she will take him back or run straight into his arms!
Estelle Pettersen, author of Elizabeth: The Starling Sisters: Prequel Novella, published by Magnolia Blossom Publishing, receives national recognition through the INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD®!
The INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD recognized Elizabeth: The Starling Sisters: Prequel Novella by Estelle Pettersen in the category of Romance as a distinguished favorite.
The competition is judged by experts from different aspects of the book industry, including publishers, writers, editors, book cover designers and professional copywriters. Selected IPA Award Winners and Distinguished Favorites are based on overall excellence.
Elizabeth: The Starling Sisters: Prequel Novella, is a contemporary romance novella set in the Australian outback. Newsday Australia reporter Elizabeth Martin seems to have it all. Until her boss gives her an ultimatum that will change her future.
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.
What happens when Elizabeth returns to the city and discovers what Paul’s been hiding from her? Will she choose her career or everlasting love in the country with Keith? Elizabeth is the prelude to the Starling Sisters series.
In 2023, the INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD had entries worldwide. Authors and publishers from countries such as Australia, Canada, Germany, India, Japan, Norway, Scotland, and South Africa, participated.
Books submitted included writers based in cities such as Atlanta to Los Angeles; London to Nova Scotia; from Cape Town to Mumbai; from Albuquerque to New York City as well as others.
“We are proud to announce the winners and distinguished favorites in our annual 2023 INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD. This year included an array of quality and diverse independent books,” Olczak said. “Independent publishing is pushing on every corner of the earth with great content. We are thrilled to be highlighting key titles representing global independent publishing.” said awards sponsor Gabrielle Olczak.
For more information please visit independentpressaward.com; and to see this year’s list of IPA Winners and Distinguished Favorites, please visit the website pages:
Estelle Pettersen is an Australian/Norwegian author and former journalist whose romance stories explore empowerment, freedom, and finding one’s strength. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Journalism and Psychology, from the University of Queensland, Australia. Her second degree is an MBA from Queensland University of Technology, Australia. She is a member of Romance Writers of Australia and is passionate about history, languages, cultures, traveling, food, and wine. She is happily married and living in Norway these days.
When she discovers her bank accounts drained, spoilt socialite Ali Stinson has two choices, admit defeat or accept the help of the one man she might lose her heart to. Sam Freemont moved to LA for a fresh start, not to meet the woman of his dreams. Will his secret destroy the delicate trust she has placed in him or will love conquer all?
What is your message to readers on International Women’s Day, March 8?
To all the bold and courageous women out there, be they fearlessly on the front lines making a statement or quietly behind the scenes driving change, March 8th is a day to stand in solidarity and recognize your value.
Let’s celebrate our achievements, recognize our challenges and lend a helping hand to those in need. This year, as in the past, I’ll be donating my time and money to my local women’s shelter. How will you mark this day?
My name is Ava Goode…and I’m a Dominatrix at the sex club Xposed in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
One could say that my life made a violent turn into the unpredictable; everything started while I was working a day job in insurance & Dominating submissives in my private dungeon in the evenings/weekends. No one knew at the time. No one really knew me. They just assumed I was multi-billionaire Duncan Miller’s daughter. Then I met Gabriel Burton…It gets a little complicated from there. I think Estelle will agree, it gets majorly complicated.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
My true goal as a Dominatrix is to empower women. It’s not about me, about sex, about BDSM. I really want all those who identify as the feminine to realize that they are goddesses and should be treated as such. I think it’s finding that outlet, that opportunity to Dominate, to show that you are confident & know you are worthy of that god-like praise.
And it doesn’t have to be in the bedroom or in a Dungeon. Just getting that respect, the reverence, feeling that you’re worthy, adored, & valued. Because women have been historically undervalued, underappreciated, and seen as not worthy, even of basic human rights.
It’s time to prove that women are absolutely the most powerful.
Are you in a relationship with a man who is all for gender equality? What are his strengths and best qualities?
At this current time, I’m engaged to a man…and yes, he’s also my full-time submissive.
I think his strength lies in his capability to submit. He accepts that he finds pleasure in relinquishing control, therefore accepting, and trusting me. And because he doesn’t have that need to Dominate, whether in the Dungeon or outside of it, he makes a great teammate—a big misconception about D/s is that the Dominant is solely in the dynamic to get what they want. In reality, there’s a very healthy amount of communication, and as the one in the Dominant role, I’m trying to provide a safe space & fulfil the desires of my submissive. It takes teamwork, working together.
And, honestly, it’s taken me time to open up, to understand him. Funnily enough, he’s always understood me. It’s taken me time to even admit that I’m in love with him…but he’s always been there, waiting for it to dawn on me.
That’s another one of his strengths—he’s patient. But, still persistent.
My name is Sapphire Blake. I’m an introvert, but I speak my mind when it comes to matters of the heart. I fell in love with a college professor, who showed me what it means to be truly loved. Our relationship had a rocky start, but he’s willing to fight for us.
Here is my story:
Fresh from a breakup, Sapphire Blake embarks on a new journey as a college student. Freeing herself from the expectations of others, innocent Sapphire experiments with her new casual lover, Vera Richland.
Handsome, smart, and intimidating, Julian Richland finds himself enthralled with Saira Quinn, a powerful woman willing to pay top dollar for his time in the bedroom. To pay his debts and continue his lavish lifestyle, Julian discovers a world filled with sex, drugs, and lies.
Vera introduces Sapphire to her brother and sparks fly. Julian sees a sexy vixen who he wants despite her conservative background. He desires to school her in passion, but he must keep his budding relationship secret.
Will his secrets and his desires put Sapphire in danger?
Sapphire, what is your message on Women’s Day?
Be proud of your achievements, be confident, and be supportive of others.
Be courageous. Change can be good for you and the people around you. Try new things. Learn new technologies. You don’t have to be perfect at everything you do.
Surround yourself with good and positive people. Don’t worry about the things that don’t matter. Tomorrow has its own worries.
Pick your battles wisely: when to speak up and hold back (think, breathe, think). Have fun working together with others, and appreciate each other’s unique qualities.
Join Latinx and LGBTQIA author Clarity Townsend and Jamaican freelance writer Latty—Goodreads #4 Best Reviewer—as they get down, dirty, and real in their podcast Get Real with Latty and Clarity. No topic is off the table, and each of these women of color bring their own unique and vibrant perspective to the issues at hand.
Whether it’s a down-to-earth discussion of their favorite hot celebs or a heart-to-heart on subjects like mental illness, Latty and Clarity will make you feel like part of the family. They’re just two friends, inviting you to curl up with a cup of tea and listen while they share their open and honest conversations and advice. (Suitable for 18+)
Join Latty and Clarity as they discuss this month’s hot topic, have a Halloween mini-discussion, and dig into their main topic: natural remedies from their respective cultures. As always, you’re in for some laughs, rambling, and candid debate on the topics at hand.
Grab your favorite drink and get cozy for the episode of Get Real with Latty & Clarity,“Cure What Ails You”!
Listen to the podcast by clicking on the image below:
Join Latty and Clarity in“Get Your Head Right” as they get the most “real” they have to date about the important topic of mental health.
This deep and personal discussion is one you do not want to miss. In this episode, the girls open up about their personal struggles with mental illness, share facts about mental health in the US and Jamaica, tips and resources for coping with stress as well as resources to find help if you’re struggling with your mental health.
Listen to the podcast by clicking on the image below:
Get Real with Latty and Clarity has given me the lift I needed to continue my authorship during the darkest moments of my health. As a chronic pain sufferer, I rely on doing everything I can to take care of myself. The “Cure What Ails You” episode reminded me of great natural remedies, especially during the winter months (aka cold and flu season).
The “Get Your Head Right” episode felt like Latty and Clarity were with me as I went for walks and listened to it with my headset. They make some great points about why it is important to prioritize our mental health.
Have you ever met a good author you can’t forget? I have. As an avid reader, I’ve met some great authors: bestselling and award-winning authors who taught me a lot. Here’s what I learned about what it means to be a good author.
Meeting a NY Times bestselling author at the airport
Some years ago, I was on a holiday with my family in the United States. During the transit from Seattle to San Francisco, I walked around the Denver airport with my baby in a Babybjörn carrier, looking for a book to read.
Airport bookstore surprise
I stopped at a bookstore and grabbed a thick paperback with a blue cover. From the back cover’s blurb, the novel seemed intriguing; a story about a young Marine lieutenant during the Vietnam war. I picked up the book and ambled toward the counter when a man in front of me grabbed a handful of the same book.
He eagerly suggested to the bookshop owner that he could sign the paperback copies. I moved forward with my sleeping baby in tow when the man noticed me holding the same book. “I can sign that for you,” he offered, reaching for a pen in his jacket pocket.
At first, I paid for the book, then held it close to my baby, who slept in the Babybjörn, snuggled in my chest. Noticing my apprehension, he told me, “I wrote the book. There’s a picture of me in there.”
I skimmed toward the back of the novel, and wow! The same man was pictured in the author’s bio. Slowly handing the book over to him, I was in awe.
The good author
“What’s your name?” he asked as he started to scribble in my book.
I gave him my name and watched him finish signing my copy. Feeling starstruck, I thanked him for signing the book and shook his hand.
“Have a nice day,” he said.
He then turned to the bookshop owner, who had just given me my receipt, and she smiled while he signed more copies for her.
I watched him rush to his next flight, so I wondered.
Holding the dream
I returned to my husband in the lounge area, feeling spirited (while my baby still slept). Proudly holding the paperback in my hand, I squealed, “Guess what? I just met the author, and he signed my book!”
Our plane was boarding so we rushed with our hand luggage and hopped on board the plane. I gazed at the clear blue sky from my plane window. I will never forget the author’s kindness. He sparked an idea – to reignite my passion for writing. He was so humble and gracious that I bought his book.
Years later, while visiting my home city, I caught up with a close college friend. She reminded me of our fun writing activities during our university years.
“Why don’t you write again?” she asked. “Maybe a romance novel?”
“I don’t know if I can do that,” I told her. Little did I know I was wrong. We sipped our wine and watched the ferries traveling up and down the Brisbane River.
After returning to Norway, I wrote for fun, picking up the pieces I had learned during my college years. I reignited the words and stories in my heart—my passion.
What did I learn from good authors?
Karl Marlantes and other authors I’ve met, especially through my publisher Black Velvet Seductions, have taught me the importance of kindness and being a professional author. They’ve achieved their successes (bestsellers and award winners) because of their powerful writing.
I love reading a good erotic romance with some BDSM when it’s written tastefully and cleverly. In The Driving Seat by Richard Savage is perfect for exactly that, and for busy readers looking for a spicy story.
This steamy book gives readers both points of view of the couple, Barbara and Alan—I related equally with them. The story left me wanting more, from an emotional perspective: it’s a wonderfully wicked and delicious tale giving insight into a couple’s relationship.
“In The Driving Seat” is one of the stories in the romantic domestic discipline anthology “Spanked!”
Alan is a man that likes a structure to his life. He has a need to be in control and considers himself, In the Driving Seat, at work and at home.
Barbara enjoys her freedom. She takes pleasure in pushing Alan’s boundaries and loves to shop…especially for shoes. She never would have thought that buying a pair of shoes would ever land her in so much trouble. They were only shoes for goodness’ sake.
Alan is tired of fighting petty battles with Barbara over money. Then we’re not short of cash, they lived an affluent lifestyle, but he decides that a pair of shoes costing $1500, is a step too far and that there would need to be consequences. But is Barbara ready to pay Alan’s price for the shoes?
I read Life as a China Doll by Nancy Golinski when I was at the height of my chronic pain. While the book focuses on coping with osteoporosis, it is not limited to readers with osteoporosis; it has excellent tips and advice for anyone suffering from chronic pain outside osteoporosis, like myself.
It is also a good read for anyone who has a close friend or family member with osteoporosis to understand the illness better. The book addresses the physical, emotional, and mental challenges chronic pain sufferers deal with.
The book reminds chronic pain sufferers that we are not alone, to take advantage of the resources available, and to focus on the positives. A handy book to have and a great motivational lift overall.
Key takeaways from Life as a China Doll:
“Chronic pain may impact your sleep, your job, your appetite, your physical activity, your hobbies, and even your relationships. It basically impacts your entire life. When you hurt, that’s all you know. It’s your entire world, and it can be a very lonely one.”
“Number one on the list is your posture. It is no longer okay to slouch or have poor posture. I can still hear my mom yelling at me as a kid to sit up straight. Back!”
“…would be remiss if I didn’t mention exercise, which is one of the most physical things you can do. It is also something you have to do to keep your body as healthy as possible.”
“So how do you safely tighten your core? It’s simple. While laying down, sitting, or even standing, pull your belly button in and up toward your spine and hold it there.”
“Chronic illness is a family affair and impacts everyone in your family.”
“If you find you have toxic folks in your life, I urge you to gently extract yourself from them if at all possible.”
“You have precious energy now…What little is left needs to be dedicated to things that bring you pure joy.”
These tips are priceless, and I have followed each one of them. Thank you, Nancy.
Hi everyone! It’s my pleasure to welcome Suzanne Smith, an award-winning romance author from Chicago, USA.
Her book, The Brute and I, is one of her emotionally rendering stories that won the Literary Titan Book Awards’ gold award. The novel is also a finalist in the Best Book Awards. It explores the psychological complexities of a relationship, winning the hearts of readers worldwide.
Congratulations on winning the Literary Titan Book Awards. Which of your stories won the awards and what they are about?
Thank you Estelle! I have two short stories and one full length novel that have won the Literary Titan Gold Award. The first short story is The Mortal Vampire, in The Mystic Desire Anthology. It’s about a 300 year old vampire that starts to regain his humanity after he meets a mysterious human named Angela.
The second short story is Bullets and Bustles, in The Cowboy Desire Anthology. It’s set in the Old West and is about a female bounty hunter named Emma Tombs who is forced to come face to face with who she really is and the true reason she’s compelled to hunt and kill men.
The full length novel is The Brute and I. It’s about the passionate, yet destructive relationship between Alex and her lover Marco. While the three stories are different in terms of time and place, they all touch on themes of forgiveness and redemption. All of the books were published by BVS.
Also, congratulations on The Brute and I getting into the finals of the Best Book Awards. How will you be celebrating your successes?
Probably with a drink or two and a steak dinner.
How did you feel when you were informed about your wins/successes?
Elated. I really hadn’t anticipated it. As an author who writes psychologically dark stories, I often ask myself if those who read my work are able to relate to the severely flawed characters that I create.
Are my characters likable? Memorable? Winning an award tells me that they are, at least to the judges of the contests. It’s encouraging.
Is this the first time you’ve won a book award?
No. The Brute and I placed as a Distinguished Favorite in the Independent Press Award Contest in 2020.
When did you start writing and what motivated you to write?
I started writing a few years ago. Retirement was fast approaching and I wanted to find a hobby that would keep me busy. I figured I’d try my hand at romance, so I started taking online writing classes.
Writing romance proved more difficult than I ever thought it would be. But, I had a great teacher/editor named Laurie Sanders who helped me with character development, deep point of view, and plot progression, among other things.
It wasn’t long before I realized how stimulating and satisfying it was to bring the characters that I’d imagined in my head to life on the page. I also found that writing allowed me certain freedoms. The freedom to travel back and forth in time, to go anywhere in this world or another, and to kill someone without consequence. Lol.
What are the highs and lows of being an author?
The highest of the highs is holding a physical copy of your published book in your hand. It offers tangible proof that you’ve achieved your goal. I also love getting complimented on my work completely out of the blue. One morning, not that long ago, as I was sitting in my chair at the front desk of the dental office I worked at, a patient approached me and told me that she’d really enjoyed reading The Brute and I. I had no idea she even knew I was a writer. I was on cloud nine all day.
The lows are those negative comments that you have no control over. I had someone on Twitter comment that they didn’t read The Brute and I because they found the title in combination with the cover offensive, that I should be ashamed of referring to a dark-skinned man as a brute. I also had a Christian author insult me when I friended her on FB. She said she would never, ever be friends with someone like me who writes “smut” and how dare I think that she would.
The negative comments weren’t based on the story itself, but rather on what each of these people perceived the story to be about. But, that’s social media and you just have to move past it.
Have you ever received criticism from readers, editors, or reviewers? If so, how did you handle it?
So far, the only criticism I’ve received was from an editor who didn’t like the pacing of The Brute and I. I fully agreed with what he said. For a little while, I turned to writing short stories. I found that writing short stories helped me with the pacing issue immensely. I respect criticism, but only if it is constructive.
What is the nicest thing anyone has said about your work?
Well, not the nicest, but certainly the most profound, was when my boss’s wife, who is an avid reader, told me that she will never again look at me the same way now that she’s read my stories. She had no idea that I had such darkness in me. It’s kind of thrilling to expose that hidden side of yourself to someone.
What is the one key advice you would give to anyone who wants to become a published author?
This can’t be said enough. Never give up. Take bad reviews and rejection letters with a grain of salt and move forward.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I read, do a little gardening, spend quality time with my three fur babies, and watch a lot of Netflix. I’m probably one of the few writers that spends more time watching television than reading a book.
What is your next writing project?
I recently completed a full length novel titled Lilah’s Limit. The story is set in New Orleans circa 1870, and is about a scarred man who falls in love with a prostitute. I’m currently working on a story about a young girl who is tormented by a demon who lives inside her walls.
The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed the judges with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and the judges are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and writing talent of these brilliant authors.
Why did Cowboy Desire win the Gold Award?
The Gold Award is bestowed on books that the judges found to be perfect in their delivery of original content, utilizing fresh themes to convey innovative ideas, and deftly uses elegant prose to transform words into expertly written literature.
What is the Cowboy Desire anthology about?
Cowboy Desire is an eclectic assortment of short stories.
It offers fourteen stunning short stories, including contemporary, historical, fantasy, and even outer space romance.
These fourteen authors provide a range of sweet to sexy stories all with a Western cowboy theme. They feature strong men and women battling the weather and dangerous terrain, here on earth and in outer space.
The collection is as diverse as the authors who wrote them. Here’s a chance to discover new talented authors and the characters they create. Within these pages, there are blends of tender, often moving, thought-provoking, and downright sexy stories.
The authors come from diverse backgrounds (from North America to the UK, Europe, and Australia), with unique writing styles and different ways of storytelling. You can check their Amazon profiles here:
I am thrilled to announce that one of my favorite authors, USA Today Bestseller Eileen Troemel, has released a new book!
Fractured (Love Of The Broken Book 1) was released on October 15, 2022.
You can buy it here: https://books2read.com/Fractured-bk1-Love-of-the-Broken
Sent to the prison planet Laken, Zulma expects to be raped and tortured. What she finds there may save her and her people. Ordered to a crashed Dolian ship, Conasian prisoners of war Drake, Claud, Stuart, and Parker hope to survive the trek through the dangerous sleepers. The downed ship is vital. What they discover will change their future if they survive the sleepers and their own men.
This is a Reverse Harem dark sci-fi romance.
Trigger warning: There is cursing and violence. Rape and torture are referred to.
Drake stepped across the threshold and held up his hands. “What do we have here,” he growled. “Stay away from me,” a small woman held a laser pistol. Clad in a concubine’s white dress covering her from her upper thighs to her breasts, she stood her ground. “Who are you,” Drake asked. Stuart snatched a similar pistol out of the air when Claud tossed it to him. “Where am I,” Drake asked. Stuart snatched a similar pistol out of the air when Claude tossed it to him. “Where am I,” she demanded without answering Drake’s question. “Laken,” Drake provided. Long purple hair fell in front of her shoulder. Her pale skin shimmered as though embedded with gold. “Bastard,” she muttered not taking her eyes off the two men invading the room. “You judge us harshly,” Drake growled. “Not you,” she said. “Him.” “Him who,” Drake stepped closer. He tried to judge how far he’d get before she pulled the trigger. He noted the safety was not on so she at least knew how to shoot. “The Prime,” she said. Her golden-brown eyes assessed her surroundings as if she sought an escape.
USA Today Bestseller Author Eileen Troemel writes action packed and emotionally powerful fantasy, scifi, romance. She’ll try almost any genre if it means she can tell a good story. In addition to her writing, she loves to read, crochet, and research genealogy. Her best days are spent with her family of three adult daughters and her husband or writing.
Creatures of the Night by Deborah Kelsey Lazaroff is an incredibly sensual and erotic supernatural love story.
I felt it was a fantastic book, one of the best supernatural romances, with an eerie feeling throughout the novel. The author’s work is superb and flawless – I loved her writing style.
The steamy scenes are almost too hot to handle, and the emotional development in the relationship between the main characters, Sarah and Trevor, keeps me hooked, wanting to read the next chapter even past bedtime.
This novel is a must-read for supernatural and dark romance lovers who want originality in a vampire romance novel.
Michael by Callie Carmen is the perfect romance book to end the Risking Love series.
After reading the other novels in the series, I can honestly say that Michael did not disappoint. I was kept on my toes with the thrills of the love story between Olivia and Michael.
A survivor of relationship abuse, Olivia has put the past behind her and focuses on her future. She moves forward with her thriving career and meets the gorgeous VP Michael Evans. Falling in love doesn’t come without obstacles – a cunning dragon lady ready to claw her way into Michael’s life, and a crazy ex-boyfriend who raises one’s anxiety levels through the roof.
As I read every chapter, I cheered for Olivia because of her strength, tolerance, and refusal to be beaten by the bullying forces. I loved Michael for his loyalty, faithfulness, and ability to see the forest through the trees in tough situations.
I loved this story – so many emotions raced around my heart when I read Michael.
I sometimes prefer reading books with good short stories to a full novel, especially in busy times. A good dark romance anthology in the lead-up to Halloween is the perfect treat.
Dark Desire has everything I craved – vampires, shapeshifters, werewolves, and an abundance of mystery. It was time to step out of my comfort zone and dig deep into something darker in romance, so I went for the anthology.
It’s worth checking out some amazing authors and getting to know their other work.
Dark Desire showcases twelve stories where the authors delve into the dark crevasses of their imaginations, probing into dark themes, creating strange new worlds and inventing larger than life characters.
These stories explore relationships, unafraid of taking the genre of romance to a darker deeper level.
It takes a miracle sometimes to make things happen. And, if you don’t believe in miracles, do you believe in science? How about an amazing doctor?
For years, I lived in a chronic hell, scorching every nerve and muscle in my upper back, shoulder, and neck. My body was a prison of pain. No ‘expert’ from Stavanger’s public hospital or private hospitals by my health insurance company could help me. When they couldn’t help me, they tossed me around to someone else, or they told me that my pain was not real. That was the past.
Today, I am recovering nicely, thanks to a gifted surgeon named Doctor Nils Åke Nystrøm. I am lost for words, except for one—gratitude. Dr. Nystrøm is a medical expert and a professor with years of knowledge and experience desperately needed in the medical world.
About my illness
Entrapment of the spinal accessory nerve and/or chronic compartment syndrome of the trapezius muscle may cause chronic pain. In my case, surgical treatment was necessary to provide permanent relief.
In other words, Dr. Nystrøm has given me back my life. He has liberated me from an illness with symptoms including:
Horrendous headaches that lasted for days.
Terrible radiating pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulder, down to my shoulder blade.
Numbness in the left arm and fingers.
I am so grateful to the team at Clinique Bellevue for being so supportive from start to finish. Everything went smoothly and I promised to send paperbacks of my next book when it is published and available.
And, thank you to my new friend, Karina. She is a brave woman and a strong soul whose story I initially found in the newspaper Stavanger Afterblad. It pivoted me to see I was not alone and motivated me to pursue my search for Dr. Nystrøm.
Karina’s voice has empowered many patients. I write about empowered women in my books, so meeting this incredibly courageous woman was an honor.
Getting my life back
My life is a healthier one incorporating light yoga, meditation, and walking. I started gentle swimming in a warm therapy pool yesterday as part of my rehabilitation. My lower back is another issue I have from the car accident I was in years ago, but my upper back is on the good path to recovery.
Readers can expect new books from me in the future. I can continue projects for both my publishers. Plus, I have other planned projects, all about women’s empowerment.
The surgeon who saved my life, Doctor Nystrøm, is a good man with a kind heart who gave me hope.
My children have a mother again. My husband, Geir, has a wife again.
I recently discovered that my Australian novella Elizabeth was listed in AustLit’s directory of books. It was a happy surprise and an honor to see something I’d written in their database.
What is AustLit?
AustLit is a searchable, scholarly source of authoritative biographical, bibliographic, critical, and production information about Australian writers and writing.
Led by The University of Queensland, AustLit is a non-profit, research-driven collaboration between a network of researchers from Australian universities and the National Library of Australia. Its mission is to be the definitive information resource and research environment for Australian literary, print, and narrative cultures.
AustLit provides rich resources for teachers and students throughout Australia and has an amazing team of scholars, librarians, researchers, and volunteers.
Fun fact: My BA was from UQ ( The University of Queensland).
Elizabeth book blurb
Newsday Australia reporter Elizabeth Martin seems to have it all. Until her boss gives her an ultimatum that will change her future.
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.
What happens when Elizabeth returns to the city and discovers what Paul’s been hiding from her? Will she choose her career or everlasting love in the country with Keith?
My personal view on Elizabeth and the Starling Sisters series
There’s so much more to Elizabeth than just Romance, and I wonder if it slightly touches the ChickLit genre. A few years ago, I wrote a story of a similar tone for Wattpad, a platform with more than 90 million readers, and my story was handpicked to be part of the platform’s Summer of Sisterhood project, run by its ChickLit profile. It went on to win a bunch of community book awards and was featured on various official Wattpad profiles.
I’ve since removed the story for my own personal reasons. Maybe I’ll put it back…I don’t know. One day at a time. For now, my focus is on the Starling Sisters series.
Having a voice
Elizabeth is more than just about romance. It digs deeper into what it means to lose one’s voice at some point in our lives (i.e., through a form of violence or oppression) and the importance of regaining that voice.
I’m not a wordsmith, and I only type what Elizabeth and Keith dictate to me. Lol! My characters came to life during the autumn of 2021, waking me with their loud chitter-chatter at 4 a.m. There I was—at my desk bashing the keyboard while listening to songs on Aussie radio Triple J.
The experience left me emotionally charged from my characters’ strength, courage, and willingness to stand strong.
Standing strong, having a connection with the land/country, and holding onto unbreakable bonds even when the going gets tough are all thematic throughout the Starling Sisters series. Though I’ve only released Elizabeth via my publisher, I have a whole world that will be ready for readers when the time is right.
The next book in the series is currently being edited before submission. I’m excited about Keith and Elizabeth’s daughter, Rose, and her partner Liam’s second-chance story.
Unlike the more traditional romances, each main character must achieve self-empowerment without relying on each other before reuniting at crossroads. Is this more in tune with real life? Maybe.
I try to keep it real.
There are tough times ahead for the Starlings in the series, but they are a strong bunch.
It’s been a year since I wrote about being an author with chronic pain, and life brought more challenges, and hope.
Warning: some of the photos in this article can be disturbing. Please do not go further if you’re sensitive about photos of physical injuries or vehicle accidents.
Chronic pain hell
Has my health gotten better? No, but there is hope.
Did I have to let go of a wonderful career? Yes. There was no way I could work with the incredible pain I endured.
Have health practitioners (neurologists, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors, physiotherapists, etc etc) tested me like a guinea pig?
I’ve been given a shitload of useless treatments by experts who believed they were gods. When the pain didn’t show in the MRI scan results, they told me that my body should not be experiencing pain and that it was in my head. There were at least two health practitioners whose patience wore thin, insinuating that this ‘pain in my imagination’ was my fault.
I went to two psychologists to explore the theory of pain being part of my imagination. The first one believed the pain was real and there was not much he could do to help me, except my anxiety of coping with pain, and also to shut the noise out – the noise of the world around me that was doing more harm than good.
The second psychologist spent a few sessions asking me all sorts of questions and she believed my pain was not ‘in my head’. I was encouraged to seek the truth – ah, medicine sounds like religion, doesn’t it?
Thank God, I have the determination to find out the truth, despite the lack of energy and weakness my body was experiencing, in addition to the pain.
I started to develop doubt on ongoing practices that had little or no effect, or worse. I wondered if I was being treated or assessed for the wrong thing. What if there was a different prognosis that the health experts had missed?
I needed to know more. Were there others who suffered like me? Or, was I alone, and had I gone stir-crazy mad?
I wanted to know the truth about my pain.
So, I studied and searched for an answer.
I recently tapped into an area about chronic whiplash and the long-lasting effects that could be devastating. I was in a car accident years ago, and lucky to have survived it as the vehicle was a total wreck. The headaches, neck pain, etc, mirrored the patients’ symptoms. I did have surgery to remove a broken cervical disc a few years ago, so that may also have been something correlated to the accident from long before.
I read studies on the type of pain I suffered, and what was being done in the USA and other parts of the world. I spoke with a leading local chiropractor and took the discussion further with my GP, and then my physiotherapist. They explained the anatomy and the symptoms I showed, and two of the three mentioned at one point a Swedish surgeon who has helped patients in my shoes.
My appointments became more like Q&A lectures where I asked a lot of questions and took notes while the people I trusted passed down their knowledge. I found an article about how a Swedish surgeon had saved the lives of thousands of patients whose symptoms mirrored mine – he had taken away their pain hell and gave them back their lives. I wondered if this was the same surgeon my GP and chiropractor referred to.
I discovered articles about patients who had the same debilitating illness as me, and they described how the surgery had changed their lives for the best. The operation was performed by the same surgeon, and eventually, I found more journal articles on the topic of the type of chronic pain I endure.
So, I was not alone. And there was hope.
At first, I thought the surgeon was in the United States, and it all seemed all out of reach for me, being in Norway. Then, I stumbled across one of the clinics in the city I’m in, and lo and behold, it turns out he visits the clinic.
I brought this up with my GP, who wrote a darn good referral letter to the clinic. This surgeon – I could love to mention his name to give him credit but I need to ask permission first – is not only highly sought after by patients needing help, but he is a professor, a teacher, and one of Scandinavia’s most elite surgeons – a unicorn in his field with valuable knowledge to pass to medical practitioners on the area of chronic nerve pain.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Fast-forward to about a month later, and after meeting with my surgeon and undergoing testing and examination, I am in the category of patients who would most likely benefit from surgery. There is a good chance I will have a normal life again.
Now, I’m waiting for the date I go into the operating theatre.
While I wait for my surgery date, I still write when I can, and though it hurts to sit, I have an ergonomic desk that allows me to stand while writing. Linked to the pain, cognitive issues are affecting me but I soldier on. Right now I’m an author with a broken wing waiting to fly again.
Like I said before, all good things take time and I believe there will be better days ahead.
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?
Preorder your copy of Marelofor only $0.99, available on April 2.
A fantasy and adventure reader’s delight
What’s not to love about fantasy/adventure stories? Especially one that is so vivid and rich in descriptions, yet simplistic enough to take me by the hand and lead me to the world of Marelo, a Dragon Descendents Book by USA Today Bestseller author Eileen Troemel.
I need to be guided to a new world when I read a fantasy/adventure story and to become familiar with its surroundings, villages, the characters, the conflicts. The author made it an easy passage for the reader to feel as if they were part of Marelo’s world. Also, I love dragons and was super excited to have the chance to meet dragons in this short story.
Moreover, I connected with the protagonist, Marelo, an eco-positive character who shows courage, strength, and isn’t afraid to speak up on her views of her world and society. The relationship development between her and her friend Bandor evolved in an even flow throughout the story, and the tension in their dialogue kept me intrigued, wanting to find out more about the mystery behind each of the characters. Bandor cares deeply for Marelo but is challenged by her strong opinions. Will he learn why she is adamant about her views of the world they live in? And what will happen if they encounter the mythological water dragons?
There is a good twist in the story, and I won’t spoil the surprise, but it is worth unwrapping. Readers who like a good short story that includes fantasy and romance will enjoy Marelo.
Lady Isabella Pennington’s life is mired in scandal, but not of her own making.
As London’s gentry bask in her heartache, she devises a plan to avoid another disastrous engagement. But those plans go awry as she struggles to forget the rogue Captain Nicholas years after the passionate afternoon they spent together.
Her intention to adhere to societal demands is admirable but short-lived when Nicholas shocks everyone by asking for her hand in marriage. What unfolds leaves Lady Isabella torn between societal expectations and her long-held desire.
Captain Nicholas is far from an aristocrat yet is held in high regard in some circles. With his attention focused on Lady Isabella, it’s all she can do to resist the handsome devil. Will a marriage of convenience be a means to a much-coveted end, or will it lead to another humiliating failure for Lady Isabella?
Scandal seems to follow Lady Isabella’s love life. Like many women, she is not immune to heartache from seemingly nice men with selfish intentions. That is until she meets the devastatingly handsome Captain Nicholas who is about to change her life.
No, Nicholas does not bring shame on Isabella. On the contrary, he does the honorable thing in London society when it comes to his plans for a relationship with Lady Isabella, by offering her a proposal that is hard to refuse. Her feelings deepen for him as she learns exactly what kind of man he is underneath the tough exterior – a warm-hearted soul with compassion for the people he cares for and loves, putting others before him.
I give this story five stars because it is a sweet historical romance that is flawlessly written – an enjoyable read for all.
Gaia spends her nights lost in ecstasy, within a world she doesn’t believe exists, alongside her gorgeous vampire master, Sebastian. But reality comes crashing down around her when Sebastian reveals the truth; their months together have been anything but faded dreams.
Faced with the revelation of a lifetime, Gaia wonders if she can trust in Sebastian’s declaration of love, and the love she feels in her traitorous heart. Meanwhile, with the growing need to keep Gaia safe from the horrors threatening his kind, Sebastian attempts to deny his heart’s desires before it’s too late.
Yet, a force beyond their control binds them, and Sebastian’s denial has far-reaching consequences.
When fantasy and reality blur, will Sebastian and Gaia escape with their sanity and lives intact?
Pick up your copy ofFaded Dreams today, and get lost in the heat and danger lurking inside.
Beautifully written steamy romance
Faded Dreams was the perfect steamy supernatural romance I was looking for. The plot was great, filled with suspense and an air of mystery. Gaia and Bash (Sebastian) had so much chemistry and passion – and during their time apart from each other, I really felt that absence made the heart grow fonder. The ending left me wanting to read more – especially about the supporting characters who also had depth and dimensions.
Now, I am a fussy reader and this book was my cup of tea. The steamy scenes were passionate and written tastefully – this author takes the lead when it comes to writing a good love scene.
Overall, five stars. The author, Clarity Townsend, has given romance readers a high-quality novel.
D.L. Croisette – author of bold and sultry stories with heart. Here’s an earlier interview with the author of the Ruby Red Romances Collection:
Gala Russ – writer of women’s fiction and romance. Occasional poet. Omnivorous reader. Speaker of English, French, Russian, and Spanish. You can read her work here:
Thank you to Øyvind Kaland, Kaland Marketing, for editing parts of the above-featured video.
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