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.
I’m thrilled to welcome Eileen Troemel, a USA Today Bestseller author of action-packed and emotionally powerful fantasy, sci-fi, and romance. Eileen’s diverse books – such as Through Destiny’s Eyes and Paranormal Investigators – reveal her versatility in writing various genres.
Congratulations on becoming a USA Today Bestseller. How did you feel when you found out?
It was stunning, exciting, and surprising! It was a day when everyone in the anthology was watching and hoping. There was a lot of excitement. I got it and did a little happy dance. I texted my out-of-state daughters and let my daughter and husband know. I texted all my sisters and I think my nieces and nephews.
What 3 key tips do you recommend for readers looking for a good book?
Don’t look solely at the cover or the blurb – the quality of these is based on the thickness of an author’s wallet.
Read a sample – if you have the ability to get into the book and can read a page or two that should tell you whether you will like the writing style of the author.
Try to overlook punctuation and simple grammar errors. I know every author should make the best book they can but some authors tell a good story – they just don’t know all the comma rules or similar grammar rules.
What books do you enjoy reading?
I like the classics. I’ve not read nearly enough of them. EE Cummings is one of my favorites. But I also LOVE dragon books – whether it’s a dragon shifter or a dragon. You can usually get me to open the cover. Thea Harrison – I love her books and wish I had more time to read more of them. JD Robb – her in death series I’m usually right on top of them when they come out.
I love science fiction and fantasy. I also like a good western. Louis Lamour is amazing. I like Shakespeare and I’ve read the Iliad and Odyssey a number of times. I’m kinda all over the place.
Is there a book you read that made a change in your life? How did it change you?
Life Magic by Susan Bowes For most of my life, I considered myself an agnostic. When I read this book I found my path for spiritualism. The power in her words resonated deep inside me.
When did you start writing novels and who/what motivated you to write?
In my late 30s, I found myself very dissatisfied with myself. I’d had my kids, was married, and loved all of them but was very unhappy. I hadn’t seriously written much since my late teens so I went back to writing. I started with poetry, short stories, novel starts, and flash fiction.
But I always knew I wanted to write books. I think that started in grade school when I was given an assignment of writing a short story. It was the first time I realized you could tell stories and have them published. I was 8 but it took me a long time to get to a place where I was writing seriously.
I was 50 when I published my first 8 books. Poetry, self-help, romance, fantasy… all in my first year of self-publishing after years of attempting to be published traditionally.
Were there any major changes in your writing career? Highs and lows?
I don’t know about drastic highs and lows. I tell my stories. I know that I’ve had weeks where I seem to get dumped on – comments from other authors, bad reviews, or even bad rejection letters… one in a week isn’t bad but when you get a bunch of them, it can be overwhelming.
I’ve said more than once – maybe I should stop. Then I don’t write for a couple of days (sometimes only hours) and I am reminded why I’m writing.
I want to tell these stories that are in my head. I remind myself no one has to like them. I’d love for everyone to love them but the reality is not everyone will. It’s okay for readers to not like my stuff. I just have to keep trying to craft that better story.
What was your first published story and what is it about?
Secret Past. It was my first novel I published. I tried for years to get it published through a variety of different publishers. I had interest from them but not a lot of follow-throughs. It took me ten years to write so I was invested in the story and hadn’t learned a lot. I’m not giving you a link – this book is in my pile to get an updated edit and new cover. I love the story but I see too many flaws in it now.
Secret Past is a contemporary romance thriller. Dee has a past – one she’s not willing to talk about. Nick is an ex-Navy Seal turned private detective. He wants to know everything about her. The more she says no, the more he needs to know. His need to know causes her past to catch up with her in the worst way. Rather than let her disappear from his life Nick opts in for whatever she needs to feel safe. Dee wants the house, kids, and white picket fence but with her past doesn’t think she’ll get it.
I think it’s a solid story. It’s been seven years since I published it. It needs a stronger edit to make it a better book.
What advice do you have to new authors?
Lots… lots and lots…
I think first and foremost – write the story. Write it your way, in whatever order works for you, in whatever manner works for you. Get the story told. Everything can be fixed in editing. So just get it entered in the computer or written.
There are four areas you almost need to be an expert in if you’re going to be a self-published author – Writing, Editing, Graphics, and Marketing. If you aren’t an expert, then pay someone to do the job for you.
Do not ever complain about the readers or the reviews you get. One if you’ve got readers – YEAH!!! Two if you managed to get them to write a review – thank them for their time. Most books are not 5-star reviews. Most books range from 2 to 4 stars.
How do you get over writer’s block?
I don’t get writer’s block. I have pauses in my stories. I have pauses in my writing process. In general, I don’t get writer’s block. If one set of characters isn’t talking to me another set will. I often have two to four manuscripts going at once.
The one time I stopped writing was around my mother’s death. As executor of her estate, I balanced the grief, the tasks to do with her funeral, the tasks to deal with her estate, and then family. I stopped writing for almost a year. It was bad for my mental health. When I started back up again, I realized the lack of writing caused a lot of negativity in my life. It wasn’t easy to start up again. I didn’t like anything but… I started in and just wrote.
How do you handle criticism, from beta-reading to after your story is published?
Whether it comes from a beta reader or a book review doesn’t matter. I try to take in what they have to say, analyze whether it’s valid or not and then use it to make the book better. It depends on what they are saying.
That’s my grown-up response to it. Sometimes when I get a negative review it throws me into a funk. I really don’t expect 5-star reviews but at the same time, there’s the creative person inside me that’s going – What? Wait? I put my heart and soul into this… and well it goes from there.
But then I put on my business person’s hat and analyze. Is there something I can do without (if it’s published) drastically changing the story? Is there something I can put in the blurb that will make people realize it’s “that” rather than having different expectations?
Ultimately I attempt to turn the critique into something I can use to make my books better.
Have you ever dealt with rejection and how did you handle it?
I tried to get published for more than ten years. I used to keep a file of rejection letters – yes actual letters. I can’t tell you how many submission packets I’ve sent or how many rejections I’ve gotten. I stopped counting.
At first, it was all HOPE as soon as it was sent and then nerves about waiting anywhere from 3 to 6 months to get an answer. Then a letter (or email) would come and dash my HOPE away. Eventually, I just figured I’d get rejections.
I’ve gotten mean rejections – one said I shouldn’t write again. That was for my poetry. They did not like it apparently.
If I actually got something more than a – thanks but no thanks – from them, I tried to use it to improve my books.
What is the nicest thing anyone has said about your work?
One of my readers who had just finished reading my Wayfarer series told me she couldn’t put it down from the prequel to the eighteenth book. That was wonderful to hear but then she took it over the top by telling me, even though she just finished the series, she wanted to go back and read it again. I was over the moon with that.
She recently told me she was in a book funk and nothing appealed. She said she was looking for another Adara / Decker match and series but not finding it. So she was going to read the series again to see if she could get rid of the funk.
What is the one key takeaway advice you would give to anyone who wants to become a published author?
Being a published author is just getting started when you’ve finished the book. There’s the production of the book and then there’s marketing the book. So don’t throw something together willy nilly and expect to be a millionaire author. It takes time and work.
What do you do when you’re not writing? (hobbies, e.g. crochet? )
Yes, though writing can become all-consuming, I do several other things. I like to paint, craft and crochet. In fact, I publish my own crochet patterns. I also read when I get the chance. Researching family history is another of my hobbies.
Is there a particular book you would like to feature?
The Moon Crossing which I co-wrote with Jan Selbourne.
Eileen, thank you so much for your time and the great insight you have given both readers and writers. Eileen has shared a blurb and excerpt of The Moon Crossing, which she authored with another amazing author Jan Selbourne.
USA Today Bestselling Author Eileen Troemel and 2019 winner of Coffee Pot Book Club Book of the year silver medal for Historical Fiction Jan Selbourne present an alternate history, sweet romance of life after the Moon Landing in 1969.
In 2030, World Correction Center – the Earth’s most secure prison – is a miserable place to land. Since it’s on the moon, it’s inescapable. It contains the worst criminals Earth has ever seen. So why are the brilliant minds across the globe being sent to this black hole of the justice system?
When world-renowned archeologist Micky Cooper is charged with embezzling, his sister Susan knows it’s a set up. It’s up to her to prove his innocence. Susan thinks she might be paranoid but she swears she’s being followed and should she trust the nice man whose cousin has disappeared as well? Was it just a chance meeting or is he against her too?
Teaming up with Greg Tanner, a man equally resolved to prove the innocence of his cousin, Samantha Tanner – a world leading linguist. Susan and Greg seek clues wherever they can find them but they’re barely keeping one step ahead of those who want them to stop.
They begin to unravel the web of lies, fraud and cover up. Just when they start to put the pieces together, Susan and Greg are forced to run for their lives. With a nudge from Samantha, they find someone to help. Is this woman an ally? Or simply part of a greater conspiracy to hide the truth? What exactly is on the moon and why are the Earth’s greatest minds being sent there to serve time?
Finally at the front, she saw the little line on the sidewalk. The signs said no matter what, stay behind the line. Why? Did they think her powerful enough to break through a steel cage and bullet proof window? She forced a smile on her face as she fought her own rebellious nature. Putting her toes on the line, she raised her eyes to meet those of the officer.
The officer behind the window glanced her way. She flashed a sweet almost innocent smile to charm him. He paused momentarily, “State the name of the prisoner.”
“Micky… Michael James Cooper,” Susan heard the whir of the computer through the thick walls as the officer typed in her brother’s name. Biting her lip, she waited.
The officer stared at the screen, an eerie green reflection on his face. He glanced at her, frowned, and glanced back to his screen. “He’s not assigned,” the officer said.
“Can you tell me when he will be assigned,” Susan asked stepping closer to the window. She stepped over the line, but no one burst out of the doors to drag her away.
With his Adam’s apple bobbing, the officer looked into her pretty blue eyes. He licked his lips as he took in her tight sweater and her curves. Pencil skirts highlighted her narrow waist and flat stomach. Susan saw the desire she endured from men since she got breasts at ten. Men. She tried to keep the disgust she felt hidden.
“He’s been assigned,” the officer said reluctantly shifting his eyes back to the screen. “There’s no backlog of prisoners. They either get a prison in the US, or they go off to WCC.”
“World Correctional Center,” he informed.
“Sergeant Brady,” she read off his name from the tag on his gray uniform, “I know you get a lot of flak from people all day long, I don’t want to cause trouble. I want to send my brother some food and other creature comforts.”
Sergeant Brady adjusted his belt as he stood behind the glass and metal counter. “Most likely they sent him to the moon,” he said. “Those designations always take longer to get in the system.”
“May I ask you a simple question,” Susan said putting on her ‘I’m a dumb girl act’.
“Anything I can do to help,” Officer Brady said, grinning when she gave him a half smile.
“I thought they only sent the worst criminals there,” she said leaning forward to give him a better view of her cleavage. “I know Son of Sam and Charles Manson were sent to the dark side of the moon. Why would they send my brother who… well he did something with the computer, and they said he stole money.”
“It’s all up to the International Department of Justice,” Officer Brady said leaning towards the glass. “They assign the prisoners to the prison.”
“You’re so kind,” Susan beamed at him. “Who can I contact…”
“You can’t and you are beyond the line,” snapped an officer behind Brady, who jumped to attention.
“Oh, forgive me,” Susan said stepping back. This man was not swayed by her helpless girl act. “Thank you for your assistance.”
Turning away from the head of the line, Susan felt a flush rush across her face. How dare they? The dark side of the moon. Why send her brother? They convicted him of embezzlement. Murders, mass murderers, traitors were all sent to the dark side of the moon.
USA Today Bestseller Author Eileen Troemel writes action packed and emotionally powerful fantasy, scifi, romance. She’s versatile and writes in many genres. 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.
When I was little, I was a sensitive child. A very sensitive one.
If another student at school was feeling miserable, I was that kid who gave a piece of my chocolate to her, hoping to see her smile. That’s who I was then, and it’s who I am today.
My parents told me I was too sensitive. I know they were right, but it was hard when I was easily influenced by energies around me – positive, negative, people on highs and lows…I took it all in, and you know what? It affected me.
Let’s go forward to today. I’ve learned to harness my sensitivity with time and experience.
I block negative thoughts and feelings, putting up an ice barrier, kind of like the wall from Game of Thrones. Hey, it works brilliantly, which is why I thrived doing the crime and court rounds, which could be gruesome and disturbing when I wrote for newspapers.
In situations when I am out of my comfort zone, I’m the quiet person who listens rather than talks, asking people questions, preferring to remain a little mysterious. It’s a technique called deflection.
Deflection means that you’re passing something over to someone else in an attempt to draw the attention away from yourself (cited in https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/psychologists/what-is-deflection-psychology-explains-this-defense-mechanism/).
However, I make sure my voice is heard when I want to speak up. That’s important.
Things are extremely intense when I see, feel, hear, smell, and taste things.
When I’m in the woods or at the beach staring at the ocean, everything around me is so rich. The rolling waves roar at me. The scent of the sea is like a smorgasbord of seafood delights (I love seafood). The wind blows viciously, sinking its icy teeth into my skin.
This is great for me when I write my stories. Writing descriptively using the five senses and drawing on cultural references was always one of my strengths. A few friends call me a “sponge,” absorbing everything around me, including cultural references from the past and in the present.
Another advantage of being a sensitive writer is I get to know my characters quickly and in great depth. They become real, and I sense them wherever I am. I’ve learned that my protagonist Sapphire Blake, who is normally an introvert, becomes very open and chatty when she’s with her friend, Vera, from my novel Lessons on Seduction, published by Black Velvet Seductions. This is great for dialogue in the sequel, which I’m working on.
It’s too real at times, so I have to snap back and put that wall that blocks fantasy from seeping into reality.
Dealing with the cons
There is a downside to being sensitive. Sometimes it unleashes incredibly strong feelings, from fury, rage, and sadness to overwhelming joy, mirth, and other emotions when there’s a trigger. If you show me something funny, I can laugh for days.
Noise affects me – television noise, social media noise, and the noise of people talking loudly as I sit and write this blog article. That’s why I have a noise-canceling headset and listen to music that I enjoy.
I’m sensitive to people’s energies. So much that I won’t hang out with someone I feel has a lot of negativity coming from them. We all have our issues, but we shouldn’t rain on other people’s parade is my take. In other words, I use my sensitivity to avoid negative people. I’ve learned that I cannot fix others – they need to fix themselves.
Now, I hate crowds. There’s way too much noise! Ironically, I end up in crowds a lot. I have my friends to thank. And, when you get me started, I can be extremely social, not being able to shut up.
Still, too much noise affects me, and that is why I end to shut off from the world to recharge my batteries.
How about you?
Are you a sensitive writer? I’d love to hear about your experiences.
I’m writing this blog post for aspiring writers who dream to have their books published one day. I hope this will help you make clever choices as part of your publishing journey.
Are you looking for a publisher?
Okay, so you’ve spent time researching (this is a MUST), writing, editing, editing, and editing your story. Have I emphasized the editing part enough? You’re now feeling ready and excited to submit your story to an agent or publisher.
There’s been a lot of buzz, hype, and excitement about finding publishers, but here’s what you need to know, because amid the good publishers, there are many sharks out there. When I mean sharks, I’m referring to:
Vanity publishers offer you contracts where you pay an arm, leg, foot, or kidney to have your work published. With some vanity publishers, you pay for all the services, but you don’t even own the book because they may demand in the contract the same rights over the book as a traditional publisher would. Does this sound fair? My advice: don’t do it.
They paint themselves as credible but Google them. Google publisher reviews on them. Be wary. Their game is a dirty business, driven by what they can milk out of you, not giving a d-mn about the quality of your content.
You’re only selling yourself short because what have you really achieved? If your work is truly outstanding and you’ve jumped too soon in bed with a vanity publisher, you’ll always be questioning yourself, “What if I had gone with a traditional publisher?” When I talk about traditional publishing in this sense, I’m referring to the Writer’s Digest definition:
“Traditional book publishing is when a publisher offers the author a contract and, in turn, prints, publishes, and sells your book through booksellers and other retailers. The publisher essentially buys the right to publish your book and pays you royalties from the sales.”
False agents will pitch your book to publishers for an inflated fee. What happens? You end up paying a lot of money and they do the work you could have done: send a generic email to a ton of publishers but nothing is personalized; it’s just a big blast.
Companies that claim to have direct contacts with publishers and will write your synopsis and submission letter for a large amount of money also fall into this category. Plus, you can pay more! Why? Because there are add-ons if you want more, such as a tracking list of publishers/agents, edited chapters of your manuscript, etc.
For goodness sake, don’t you trust your own writing and research skills? If you can write your own story, you should be able to write your own synopsis and submission letter. And guess what? Doing it yourself is free!
These are ‘Publishers’ who approach you out of the blue, claiming that they love your work and offer to send a contract. Do they even know your name? Have they really read your novel? What do they like about your work? Did they even mention your novel title in their message? Be very careful about what they promise because all that glitters ain’t gold. Do not lock yourself into a contract that seems too easy and too good to be true.
Did you check their platform and see how many readers they actually have? Or how many stories they have? Are they quality stories? Will you be lost in the sea, competing with others who have been promised the same shady, shoddy deal? My advice: stay away from them.
Good publishers don’t:
Approach you out of the blue. They’re often going through submissions and picking the ones that are the right fit for their publishing goals.
Ask you to pay a ridiculous amount of money to cover publishing or marketing costs. This is a general statement as there are some good hybrid publishers out there who do give a fair deal.
Offer a small percentage of sale returns – your share (eg. 5%).
Hike the price for your book’s selling price so that it’s harder to sell.
Aggressively push you to sign the contract with haste.
Leave you in the dark when it comes to marketing your book.
Good publishers do:
Have a submission process where writers (or agents on behalf of writers) are encouraged to submit a manuscript, based on the publisher’s requirements.
Offer a contract where you, as the author, are not required to foot a hefty amount toward the publishing of your book. That’s right, you heard me. The publisher pays you, not the other way around.
Offer a fair percentage of sales returns – your fair share.
Price your book so it’s at a competitive price, including a presale prior to the book’s release. The book’s price will be similar to other books in your subgenre.
Give you a reasonable deadline to sign the contract.
Encourage you and guide you with marketing your book, and offer promotional opportunities and events. This includes developing a social media presence and offering suggestions such as having an author’s website among other things.
There’s one last thing that good publishers do: they believe in you. I chose to go the hard road and persevere with my writing. It took me two years from draft to final manuscript of Lessons on Seduction, and I did my research on publishers.
I found my publisher Black Velvet Seductions after doing my homework and checking for erotic romance publishers with great reviews in the publishing industry. It was also listed on renowned sci-fi and fantasy author Piers Anthony’s website, in the publishers’ list.
Finally, there are three platforms I recommend, where you can meet and interact with other readers and writers to help you grow in your writing journey:
I’ve got a presence in all three platforms (I’ve only got draft sample stories on the latter two and haven’t been too active; I just don’t have the time to stretch, sorry!), but I’m most active in my role as an ambassador for Wattpad, doing my best to give other writers a helping hand. I believe we can all succeed. I really do!
Whatever your goals are, please be patient. Please be persistent, and please persevere. Every author who has a contract with a publisher will tell you that they have had to persevere before they get their work published.
The other option, of course, is to self-publish. However, I would suggest trying an agent or publisher first. Why? They can open the door for you in so many ways and can give a boost to lift first-time authors. You can also meet other more experienced authors (with the same publisher) who you can learn from and grow.
I’ll write some more about publishing, but I thought this is a good start.
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’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.
I enjoyed writing Flowers for Kate, a short story about a fictional character named Kate Calloway, who seeks true love in the late 1980s. No, her love interest is not a dashing man, but Dahlia, a stunning woman who would make your mouth water with desire.
It’s 1988, a decade after video killed the radio star. Disco’s out of fashion, and pop music dominates the dance floor.
At twenty-two, Kate Calloway is a bangle-loving university student finding her way in life with her friends. She’s allergic to pollen and hates flowers until she meets the mysterious Dahlia, a florist who takes her breath away.
Kate wants Dahlia, but does Dahlia feel the same for Kate? Will they forge an unbreakable bond of love, or will circumstances tear them apart?
>> Find out in this short story about finding true love.
How did I feel about writing an LGBTQ+ romance?
It was an incredible experience! I felt so free writing the story, and the flow was amazing – everything went smoothly. Flowers took an unexpected and eerie turn, with a surprising twist about 80 percent into the story when I was writing it.
I’ve written about characters who are heterosexual, pansexual, and bisexual, but Kate was the first woman I wrote about who had zero interest in men. A few people asked me if this would be challenging, but I shook my head and simply got to know Kate – she’s a welcoming character, bringing me into her world.
Pushing away people-driven doubt
Despite people-driven doubt on my ability to write Kate’s story, I immersed myself in her world as I burned the midnight candle. Of course, there is research in the stories I write (as a former journalist it’s important to get your information right). The fun part about going back to 1988 was listening to music from artists/bands such as Bananarama, Eric Carmen (remember Hungry Eyes from Dirty Dancing?), U2, Cyndi Lauper, and The Bangles.
What message does Kate bring?
Kate brings a message of empowerment (of course! It wouldn’t be me writing any other way), hope, and friendship. And, love is a given – always in my stories.
Kate showed me the power of friendship and how our friends can be the family we need in times of trouble. However, we need to pick our friends carefully – the true diamonds from the fairweather friends. You learn who your real friends are when you put yourself first – your physical and emotional health. Kate can count on three friends (Andy, Frances, and Jasper) who are her family by choice. Friendship works both ways, and she proves to be a loyal friend from start to end.
Friendship is such a powerful gift and we must always treasure our true friends.
Francesca Gabel, a learning support assistant, accepts a post at a prestigious Catholic boys’ school. She manages to form a bond with a challenging student named Richard Cunningham, but the lines begin to blur as they become closer. Francesca experiences an internal struggle as she grapples to control her feelings.
The passion they develop for one another consumes them as they enter a world of forbidden love and desire. Is it true love or a simple case of lust? Francesca must make a decision: give in to Richard and face the consequences or let him go.
A steamy, passionate, and emotionally powerful book
Secret Love by F. Burn was love at first sight for me. Firstly, the cover caught my eye before I bought it – it was one of the most beautiful romance covers I’d seen, depicting the inner torment of two lovers.
Secondly, it was a refreshing change to come across an older woman/younger man romance – it’s given readers diversity. Thirdly, this romance was a steamy read and for me, the steamier the better! I loved the passion and tease between the couple and how they took their time to invest in each other emotionally before diving into the physical side of their relationship.
The emotional and psychological aspects of the story hooked me from start to finish – I read the book in one sitting, then re-read it over the weekend. A truly gripping story!
The lovely and talented Kate McCoy once thought that her future was predictable, and secure. Classical music was her passion, and she was inarguably the mistress of her craft.
Then she met Alec Murdenson…
Alec knows nothing of orchestras; he’s a rocker, through and through. The ferocity of his music seems out of place when viewed alongside his easy smile, and his sense of humor… not to mention his handsome face, and striking green eyes.
But there is something else lurking behind his riveting gaze, an entity that is both Alec and yet not Alec at all. That phantasm is more than a little disturbing; perhaps it is even a cold-blooded monster.
As Kate becomes tangled within Alec’s web, she is forced to re-think everything she once thought she knew. In so doing, she must make a horrific choice: Either run for the hills…
Or embrace a man who understands human depravity better than she ever could.
Hot, fiery, and unforgettable rock star romance
Kate and Alec are talented musicians with a lot of creativity and strong personalities. The chemistry between them is powerful, and it’s clear that they care for each other. There were emotional moments (I won’t give away any spoilers) where I felt sorry for the characters. I also learned a few things about the music industry through Kate and Alec’s experiences.
I loved, loved, loved the ending! I couldn’t get it out of my head and still keep re-reading the last few chapters.
This is the first rock star romance that I’ve completed reading and thoroughly enjoyed.
By day, Ava Goode is in the insurance game, getting her work done and being a model employee. But by night, she retreats to her secret world where she Dominates those that seek to submit to her.
This private world gets turned upside down the moment she meets Gabriel Burton; a man who is not only successful, but works for her father—and dating men in her father’s office is a big no-no. But, it’s hard to resist your deepest desires, especially when they kneel before you and kiss your feet, like a good boy.
A daring five-star erotic romance novel
Edgeplay by Annabel Allan had everything I was looking for in an erotic romance novel that dared to be different. I loved Ava’s strength – she’s a real hero with a strong voice, and she’s an incredibly empowering character. This is great, as I’m not a fan of weak voices.
If you’re looking for a book that accurately portrays BDSM, this is it. The descriptions in the steamy scenes were intense and felt so real – which is another thing that made this story stand out from other erotic romances I’ve read.
Well done to the author for an excellent plot, the twists, and the suspense!
Oh, and if you’re looking for a hunky book boyfriend, Gabriel is gorgeous! Edgeplay is book one in the Goode Pain series and I intend to read all the books in this series.
Jaq had no interest in a serious relationship because life at an early age had taught her that men weren’t to be trusted. But she met Patrick who soon had her thinking about risking her heart. For Patrick the time for Jaq dating other men had ended. He wanted her all to himself. But would she stay if she knew the secrets of his past?
Patrick wasn’t the only man who wanted Jaq, and the other man was willing to kill to have her. Patrick is the first novel in the Risking Love series. The stories chart a group of friends through life and love. These steamy stories will have you laughing, crying, and have your heart racing.
I enjoyed reading Patrick by Callie Carmen and couldn’t put it down over the long weekend. Jaq, the protagonist, is a woman with a strong voice and I like women with strong voices in romance novels.
I can see why she fell in love with Patrick – he was every bit the loving partner; he’s smart, sexy, respectful, and not to mention hot! I enjoyed the suspense in the plot, which kept me on my toes, and the steamy scenes put my phone on fire! I loved it and will be reading the next book in the Risking Love series.
He’s young, prominent and razor blade sharp. Dylan Pratt is a financial analyst who thought that understanding human behaviour in the world of finance meant he could decipher people in general.
However, he was wrong. Very wrong.
After a long rift with his best friend, Sam, life brings them together within the walls of the same bank. This moment follows such an ordinary event of hiring a new assistant for Dylan – a young girl whose name is Dakota.
Once the lifelines of these three cross, a chain of unordinary events start to evolve. Dylan notices that there is a connection between his friend Sam and his new assistant Dakota. However, both deny any existence of a previous link. Soon Dylan realises that he is falling in love with Dakota. Despite mutual feelings, the girl distances herself from venturing into a relationship with him.
At the same time, changes in the life of Dylan’s sister Dionne, such as an announced engagement, remind him not only about the reason of his long-lasting rift with Sam, but also serves as a memory of Dylan’s background – which was far from the life of a white-shoe boy, as others could think of him. In just several days after an accidental weekend with Dakota, Dylan goes through a carousel of discoveries.
He finally realises what the real love is and what kind of skeleton his family keeps in the closet. But the darkest of those discoveries is a secret his best friend and his crush share together, and the fact that Dylan becomes an inseparable part of their secret.
A Bad Fall is written mainly from a male POV and the protagonist, Dylan, is an alpha male who seems to have it all. However, he has his vices and a very interesting back story, which is threaded intricately with the overall plot.
The characters are full of depth, the writing is sharp and straight-to-the-point, and I really empathized with Dylan every step of the way. The dialogue is brilliant – it could easily have been scripted into a movie. The story is full of twists and elements of surprises, which I love. The writer has a great technique of storytelling and character development.
For many of us, the Easter holiday gives us a bit of time off work or study to relax and spend time relaxing. During these COVID times, it may mean a different way of celebrating Easter.
My partner and I decided to stay ‘in town’ instead. We picked up our swags (bags) and slept in a hotel for a few days. Our time away from home meant that we let go of cooking, cleaning, or doing the laundry for a few days.
Celebrate a book launch
We also celebrated the launch of Cowboy Desire, an anthology of sweet to raunchy romances by 14 authors with romance publisher Black Velvet Seductions. It was a fun day of interaction with authors and readers, as well as old friends I hadn’t spoken to for a while.
See a movie
My partner and I watched Gunda, a brilliantly constructed documentary directed by Viktor Kossakovsky about the circle of life in a barnyard. My partner didn’t quite enjoy it so much (he groaned loudly when I showed him this part of the blog article 😕) … Just as I don’t enjoy many popular films.
Rekindle the joy of reading
What else did I do? Yep, I read. And read. And read.
By the time this blog is out, I would have finished two books that I started a while ago but took longer than expected due to the busyness (and business 😂) of life:
A White Knight Falls by Virginia Wallace. Oh my goodness, where do I start? This is the first rockstar romance I’ve (soon) fully finished reading. I can relate to the ferocity of the female main character, Kate, and was captivated by the ‘love/hate’ passion between her and fellow musician/love interest Alec. Virginia was smart with the way she weaved the reflective moments in the book. The descriptions were perfect, and the story had a great twist toward the end.
A Merman’s Choice by Alice Renaud. I haven’t been transported to the magical world of merpeople since I was about ten, pretending to be a mermaid and buying a ‘wishing’ bracelet that didn’t transport me to a magical place. Well, the author must’ve put a spell on me because I was transported to that magical place I’d wanted to be in years ago. Alice spun a wonderful story that made me feel I was really there with Yann, the gorgeous shape-shifting merman, and his lover Alex.
If you’ve got time off this Easter or any holiday, I hope that you make time to rediscover the things you love most.
According to UN Women, all women deserve an equal future free from stigma, stereotypes, and violence. We’re talking about equal rights where women should have an integral role when it comes to decision-making.
The media empower our voices
The media play an important role in influencing our thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors when it comes to perceptions of the roles women and men play at work, at home, and in relationships.
I am thankful for podcasts such as Speak Seductively, hosted by five-star romance/erotica author Kyle Canon and his partner Lilly. Lilly Canon is a model, narrator of audiobooks a naturist, and, with Kyle, a swinger. Their podcast explores relationships from a #sexpositive perspective.
The topics on their show include the ‘difference between art, erotica, and pornography’, BDSM, and bring up themes of empowerment in their interviews with various authors.
I was recently interviewed by Kyle and Lilly, and we had a wonderful chat about strong voices in romance novels. We also talked about my female character’s journey in embracing her femininity and emancipating from controlling relationships. Finally, we discussed the importance of trust and communication, which are empowering factors in relationships.
As a romance reader and writer, International Women’s Day is a personal reminder of the stories that made a lasting impression when I was in my teens and early twenties.
Back then, I was influenced by romance novels where the woman came second to the man. He was the rich guy. The smart guy. The strong guy. The playboy. He was the guy with a career, may it be business, law, or a hotel empire.
The female character would, of course, be a virgin or celibate. She would try to outwit her playboy love interest with halfwit jokes. She pretended to be dumb, played silly mind games, and came up with failing tactics. She was less powerful socially, depended on her hero financially, and her voice faded like wallpaper losing its luster as the story progressed. Ultimately, she needed him to ‘save’ her (and the story plot).
Right now, I feel angry at my younger self for being such a gullible reader. Yes, I admit that I wanted the hero to stomp into my life, throw me over his shoulder, and ‘rescue’ me. Back then, I was someone who accepted the status quo and took in all the kicks in the gut that came my way. Looking back, I’m glad I abandoned the books and waved good-bye to my old life.
I started reading a different type of romance book, thanks to a few good friends. I had never read an erotic romance until this point, and the books my friends put in my hands were eye-popping. The novels transported my curious mind to a place where women could dominate their lovers (both men and women) freely.
In addition to the BDSM books, I read other novels that had great messages on equal rights. These books helped me strengthen the voice I have today. I learned that the hero and heroine cooperated and communicated to achieve their journey together. These stories were enjoyable to read and I would read them again.
You have the power to empower others
I want to challenge every romance reader on International Women’s Day and every other day:
Are you willing to put aside stories that weaken our voices and diminish our role as equal human beings?
Will you read a book that portrays women having an integral role when it comes to decision-making?
Will you share with your friends a book you’ve read that portrays women having an equal future, breaking away from stigma, stereotypes, and violence?
International Men’s Day
Later in the year, on November 19, we will celebrate International Men’s Day. This year’s theme is “Better relations between men and women.” The day celebrates the positive value men bring to the world, their families, and communities.
I believe it’s important that men are portrayed accurately and that stories show their sensitive side. A man who shows empathy, kindness, and feelings is a man of great strength.
Let’s do both genders a favor and portray them as equals. After all, together, we are stronger.
Loving Jack in Cowboy Desire, an anthology of country and western romances by 14 talented romance authors.
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