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Racism hurts writers

diversity author

An extension of The Sensitive Writer

I want to share a story with you, and it explains a little why I doubt myself as a writer and struggle with confidence sometimes.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember because it’s cathartic, not because I wanted to make a career out of it. Yet, it’s what I do for a living.

Growing up, I did well in maths, science, history, and other subjects, but I didn’t enjoy them as much as I loved English. I was an avid reader who used writing to scream out my emotions, while I remained the shy introvert who listened rather than talked.

I moved around due to my parents’ expatriate career and lifestyle and became accustomed to different styles of writing and British and American spellings. My English teachers at the international schools were great, motivating me to meet my potential via advanced English programs.

When I hit my teens, my parents split, and my mother moved to Australia to raise three kids while going to night school and working a day job. We dealt with many struggles, yet I adapted to the new life and did well academically.

Now, here’s the thing. I am not purely white. My mother is 100% ethnically Chinese, making me a 50-50 split between Asian and European (Dad’s heritage is English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish).

Image source: Pixabay.com

A teacher who used her prejudice as power

During my mid-teens, I had a new English teacher. When I first met her, I thought the world of her. She appeared to be gentle, angelic, and youthful. However, she was anything except angelic to me after meeting my mother at a parent-teacher social event.

What shocked me was when I received my English results. I went from being a straight-A English student to getting nothing better than a C.

I confronted the teacher, asking her why I was getting average marks.

Her response? I was not Australian.

I remember feeling gobsmacked as my brain processed what she had just said. Of course, I was (and still am) an Australian citizen! So I asked her why she did not believe I was Australian. She said it was because of my mother.

My mother is Chinese (but an Australian citizen!); therefore, my teacher saw me as an English as a second language student. I explained to her that I was raised in an English-only environment, and I did not speak any other language at home. Instead of listening to me, she said that I would not receive anything higher than a pass (C) because of my ethnic heritage.

She alluded to me that I did not have the talent to write in English and suggested I write in my native language instead. I thought that English was my native language. I studied German and Japanese as second languages at school.

Image source: Pexels.com

Snobbery and racism

Now, here’s another thing I had to consider when it came to the prejudices I had dealt with and why being an academic was my survival card. I went to an all-girls Christian private school where most families were affluent and influential.

There were only two girls in my grade whose parents were divorced – I was one of them. Of the two of us, I was the only one whose mother was an Asian woman.

This particular English teacher frowned upon people like my mother, an Asian single mother, far beneath her ideal. I was a teenager who stood no chance of excelling in that teacher’s class.

My confidence was shattered in one fell swoop.

Image source: Pexels.com

Being called a “half-breed”

I hated being a mixed-race student of a single parent in that school. I was berated, belittled, and bullied that semester. I was called a half-breed and half-caste, among other things, by both students and that particular teacher. She broke my self-esteem, and I stopped writing. I lost my joy, and I lost my passion.

My mother took action and raised the issues with the school, who apologized. I had a new English teacher the following semester, and it took months to rebuild my confidence.

The confidence gamechanger

There is a happy ending in this story. In my last two years of high school, I had the most amazing English teacher who believed in my work.

At the start, I was petrified when my mother and I first met Mrs. Morrison at a parent-teacher social event. Mrs. Morrison came across as the classic strict teacher from an English boarding school. She dressed perfectly, had flawless hair, and spoke in a refined way. She had a reputation for being one of the school’s toughest teachers, unafraid of failing her students.

She approached my mother, and at that point, I wanted the earth to swallow me. I wished my mother had not attended the event because I dreaded the stigma of my ethnicity rising again.

Instead, Mrs. Morrison smiled at my mother, gently placed her hand on my elbow, and spoke kindly about me.

Mrs. Morrison saw through my physical appearance. She saw my soul.

Image source: Pexels.com

A teacher who made an author

I enjoyed my final two years of high school, excelling in English and topping the class in literature such as Hamlet, Wuthering Heights, and A Doll’s House. When we studied Gallipoli, I wept when I handed my assessment to Mrs. Morrison. In turn, her lips twitched when she returned my marked assignment – another top result. I then confided in her that my great-grandfather was an original ANZAC soldier, something I hadn’t said to any other teacher.

It’s incredible how beautiful things can happen when people look beyond ethnicity. Mrs. Morrison helped me fill out my university application form, encouraging me to study journalism, one of the toughest courses to get into. At the time, a few students laughed at me, saying I wouldn’t get in. And yes, I studied journalism at the University of Queensland.

University of Queensland, Australia. Image source: www.uq.edu.au

Final conversation

My last conversation with Mrs. Morrison happened when she called me to her office on my last day of school. I thought I had bombed in my last exam, and she rarely called anyone into her office unless it was a serious matter.

I was surprised and relieved by what she said. Mrs. Morrison told me how proud she was of my achievements and advised me to pursue a writing career. She told me she believed in me and that I had a talent.

The author today

I still get my bad days from the damage done by the other teacher, and that memory is imprinted, a part of me.

However, my memories of Mrs. Morrison remind me of who I am. I have a talent. I can write. I can read. She never saw me as a lesser student because of my ethnicity. She never held me back; she pushed me forward. She created an author.

Maybe one day, I will have the opportunity to tell Mrs. Morrison how much her words still mean to me. I think I will write her a letter. 🙂

You can find me and my books here.

The story behind Flowers for Kate in Rainbow Desire

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.

The story is part of the Rainbow Desire anthology published by Black Velvet Seductions.

What is the story about?

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.

Anyway, that’s it from me. You can preorder your ebook copy of Rainbow Desire, published by Black Velvet Seductions.

Book links:

I’ll leave you with an awesome tape mix – Guardians of the Galaxy, which features songs from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and early 2000s – whichever decade you fancy. Yes, I’m a Marvel comics fan. 😉

Author interview: Eileen Troemel, USA Today Bestseller

Wayfarer series banner

Eileen Troemel, USA Today Bestselling Author
USA Today Bestselling Author Eileen Troemel.

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. 

Books by USA Today bestseller Eileen Troemel
Books by USA Today bestseller Eileen Troemel.

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.

>> The novel is available on Amazon.

The Moon Crossing by Eileen Troemel and Jan Selbourne.

The Moon Crossing

Blurb

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?

Excerpt

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.”

“What’s 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.

About Eileen

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. 

Author links:

Website: https://eileentroemel.com/ 

Twitter https://twitter.com/EileenTroemel

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

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/eileentroemel/

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/eileen-troemel-6667825b/

MeWe https://mewe.com/i/eileentroemel

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7868345.Eileen_Troemel

Secret Love by F. Burn

Secret Love, a steamy novel by F Burn

Buy the book for $2.99

Blurb

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.

Review:

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!

TV series review: Sex/Life

Sex/Life

Sex/Life was okay.

Image courtesy Netflix & IMDB. Watch the full trailer here.

Billie Connelly, a suburban housewife, can’t stop fantasizing about her ex-boyfriend. The former career woman sits in her upper-middle-class home, breastfeeding her baby and wondering what life would be like if she married her ex-boyfriend instead. What if her life was with bad boy Brad Simon instead of cute hubby Cooper Connelly? Sweet Cooper is the safe choice, but he’s boring. Brad is fun, wild, and he’s toxic. He’s the kinda guy you want your friends, daughters, sisters, etc., to stay away from. Still, Billie is obsessed and cannot stop thinking about him.

Good acting

Let’s start with what I liked about the story. The acting was pretty neat. Sarah Shahi convinced me that her character, Billie, was worth remembering. While the stunning actress is likable and comes across as confident/self-assured, the character she portrayed was the opposite. Billie was scripted as weak, insipid, and emotionally stupid. Sure, I empathized when I watched scenes of her crying over her miseries. I related when I watched her stand against the “perfect moms” in their suburban bubble. However, she knew what she got herself into when she married Cooper, a rebound from Brad.

Then there’s the delicious Aussie actor Adam Demos, who plays Brad. I had seen him in a few other movies and shows, including Falling Inn Love, a super-cute romance, but a little too sweet for me. He did a great job portraying Brad, a far cry from other characters he had portrayed previously. I was not too fond of the character Brad (I’ll explain later), but I appreciated the good acting from Sarah and Adam, who are dating in real life, which is sweet.

Plot and characters

Now, what didn’t I like about the plot? I had hoped for plot twists that would surprise me, but nope. So disappointment sank in. I was also confused by the lack of ownership of consequences, and in some cases, there were too many things going on at once. In real life, there would have been less forgiveness between Billie and Cooper and the friends who had somehow gotten involved in this web of lies and deceit. I doubt that any of my friends or family would be that forgiving in real life. Yeah, I know it’s called TV. Still, we try to grasp and hold onto relatable concepts.

Image source: Pixabay.

And the thing about friends sleeping with the ex you’re clearly not over? In my single days, my friends and I had one rule: we don’t touch what the other had. It’s a good rule.

The lines were corny, the plot was all over the place, and I wouldn’t say I loved any of the characters. Billie’s best friend, Sasha, was probably the most relatable character. She seemed to have some sense (except for sleeping with Brad). Don’t watch this series if you’re hoping for a strong and empowering female role model. Billie was weak, like smashed layer cake that can’t be put together again. She’s insecure and indecisive, with no backbone for when the going gets tough.

Brad’s more than just a player with daddy issues; he’s selfish, psychologically destructive, and an emotional crusher trapped in the body of a sex god. Cooper is that preppie asshole I couldn’t stand. Plus, I didn’t know if I should have laughed or cried at the faces he pulled when he came during the sex scenes.

If I had the choice of picking Cooper or Brad, who would I pick? None.

Why did I watch the series?

Now, on a more personal note. Why did I watch the entire season one? My husband knows I can’t sit still for too long, let alone watch an entire season in the series. It’s because Sex/Life got to me. I’m not talking about the sex, but the emotional hold that Brad had on Billie.

It was a bit like a horror movie, where I wanted to watch more, not sure if I could handle it. It scared me that a woman could want to return to the very man who destroyed her life in the first place. He was a cheat and a scumbag. He fucked with her mind, and even years after they had broken up, she still wants him!

Then, there was talk around the “have you wondered…what would you do if you saw your ex again?” concept.

I don’t think about my exes because when things didn’t work out, they didn’t work out for very good reasons.

Who didn’t have a bad ex-boyfriend who tried to fuck with our minds? Except, unlike Billie, I closed the door for good. I said, “No” forever.

Years later, I found another kinda guy, and he wasn’t interested in playing dangerous mind games. Nor did he want me to be the perfect suburban mom. He’s fun, wild, daring, and we do crazy, thrilling things together. That’s a much more enjoyable story. 🙂

Image source: Pixabay.

When the White Knight Falls by Virginia Wallace

When the White Knight Falls

Buy the book for $2.99

Blurb

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.

Review:

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.

Edgeplay by Annabel Allan

Edgeplay by Annabel Allan

Buy the book for $2.99

Blurb

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.

Review:

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.

Story: A Bad Fall

By Daria Lamtsova

Wattpad review

A Bad Fall by Daria Lamtsova.

Blurb:

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.

Review:

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.

Celebrating International Women’s Day

International Women's Day

Monday, March 8, is International Women’s Day in 2021.

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.

Recommended read (certified STEAMY!)

>> The Resort by Kyle Canon

Romance books influence empowerment

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).

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels.

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.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

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.

Upcoming stories:

Loving Jack in Cowboy Desire, an anthology of country and western romances by 14 talented romance authors.

>>>Romance books that empower by publisher Black Velvet Seductions

Writing with chronic pain

What’s it like being an author, parent, wife, and full-time worker?

Anyone who’s wearing these shoes can tell you that it’s just part of life and you keep at it. I’ve always been running on a high metabolism, so I enjoy juggling a couple of balls in the air – it keeps my momentum going. I’m an introvert by nature, but once you get a conversation started with me, I can talk a million miles an hour and tap into all kinds of crazy topics; it’s like a multi-track where there are several trains running at full speed. Stories come to life in my head, and my characters urge me to write their stories – something I can’t resist.

But what happens when chronic pain strikes? How do you deal with it? How does it affect you? Do you get depressed? How do you live life with chronic pain? Can you still write?

I’ll answer the questions in this blog article.

What happens when chronic pain strikes?

All seemed well until chronic pain came into my life a few years ago. The first was cubital tunnel syndrome (like carpal tunnel syndrome), which I had surgery for, and the healing took six months in 2017. Thanks to exercise, training, and relaxation techniques, my arm is good now.

Then, at the end of 2018, unexpected back pain struck me like an insidious evil carving through my skin and scorching wildfire into my left muscles, nerves, and upper spine. At first, I thought the pain would go away after being prescribed anti-inflammatory medication.

The pain did not go away. In early 2019, an MRI scan revealed a prolapse that required immediate surgery. So, I had the surgery.

Things were meant to improve, but they did not. Now, two years later, I’m still living in pain. These ‘best-of-the-best’ private-sector doctors have all played roles of the gods – there was Apollo, then Asclepius, followed by Sekhmet, Wu Tao, Airmed…and the list goes on for the number of ‘expert’ doctors with numerous degrees and university teaching records who were haughty and oh so omniscient. They claimed to know exactly what’s wrong, but their advice and treatment did not work. What amused me was their arrogance when I dared to say I was still in pain!

Then, there were natural healing therapies by chiropractors, naturopaths, physiotherapists, etc. – including one who left me semi-paralyzed for a few hours and my whole left arm bloated in swollen pain – I had to take my wedding ring off because of the swelling that night and suffered from a blinding headache, attached to the nerve pain stemming across a gridlocked highway from my upper back, down to my arm.

My new local GP is fantastic. He’s like Dr. Gregory House from the TV series named after the character. He’s gone above and beyond the ‘expert’ doctors to try to find an answer and treatment. He’s called different experts in his network, and now, after a six-month wait, I’ll be tested for nerve damage and muscle damage by the head of neurology at a local hospital next week. They may not find an answer, but I live with hope every day.

Do I get depressed?

Of course, I get depressed and anxious. I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t feel any sadness associated with the long-term pain. However, I live for a better day and try to do as much as I normally can without exerting myself. I make use of the outdoors and fresh air.

How do I live with pain?

I work in my day job as I normally would, with the aid of heat packs, ibuprofen gels, and a strong medication that I take for the worst of days – which I take in the evening as it knocks me right out and I wake up feeling groggy after about 12 hours. When I take that medication, I know that I won’t be writing, editing, or doing anything after work hours.

The other thing I do is switch off from social media when needed. I’ll do the best I can to promote my stories, prioritizing my publisher first – but everything else is placed in the ‘noise’ basket. There are so many social media channels and people with questions I don’t always have answers for.

I don’t answer all the questions – only the important ones and yes, I do connect with readers and authors who hold a special place in my heart. I prioritize them first when I’m well enough to be online socially.

I know my limits and switch off when I need to. I don’t give when I cannot give. I know when my tank is running on empty – so that’s when I say to myself, ‘stop now’.

Can I still write?

Yes. Of course! There are windows in my free time when I get a good stretch of minimal pain and that’s when I’m most productive – I’ll prioritize the tasks I need done first, and get these done. Everything else can wait.

I’ve learned to prioritize what I can take in, working with my strengths and weaknesses. As a professional author, the first writing priority is my publisher and activities around my published work. Everything else can wait.

I realize that the least painful days are like windows of opportunity that come – I’ve got a certain amount of time to really focus on completing my writing tasks before the pain intensifies again.

I also have an author PA who does an amazing job promoting my published book, and she’s wonderful. When my pain medication kicks in and it’s lights out for me, I can rest assured that my book is being promoted. It also means that I can use the “feeling well” days to write – again, a focused approach.

What have I learned from living in pain?

I’ve learned to put myself first – that means my health and my family. They come first and that’s not negotiable. We all have our challenges during these COVID times and I need to tackle these challenges with my family first. What would you do? Leave a crying child while you answer a message from a writer who needs feedback on their story? Of course, not! The kids always come first. 🙂

As I said earlier, I do get my ‘blue’ days but I take advantage of my surroundings. If it’s a sunny day, I go for a walk. If there’s a hailstorm outside, I watch my favorite TV show with my husband or read one of my favorite books – right now I’m reading A Merman’s Choice by Alice Renaud, one of the best fantasy romance authors in today’s world – her books are on Amazon.

Will there be better days ahead? Of course, there will be! I plan on doing so much more as an author. As for my health, I know I’ve got a good doctor who’s earnest and he does his best to refer me to the right people – even if it takes time.

I’m hoping for treatment to minimize/mitigate the pain after my visit to the hospital next week. Here’s hoping and praying for the best!

All good things take time.

So, you want to get published?

By Estelle Pettersen, author of Lessons on Seduction.

Lessons on Seduction, an erotic romance novel by E Pettersen
Lessons on Seduction, an erotic romance novel by Estelle Pettersen, published by Black Velvet Seductions.

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

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.”

(source: https://writersdigestshop.com/pages/how-to-publish-a-book-an-overview-of-traditional-self-publishing)

False agents

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!

Cold-calling publishers

Cold-calling publisher. If you’re a Wattpad user and you’ve been contacted on the platform, please report it as spam.

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.

Find a publisher that best fits your book. Aim for a publisher with a good reputation. Image source: Pixabay.com

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.

Make your writing and publishing journey an enjoyable one. Image source: Pixabay.com

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:

  1. Wattpad
  2. Radish Fiction (by application only, they can be tough on screening content quality)
  3. Inkitt (by application).

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.

Authors supporting authors. Image source: giphy.com

Useful links:

Hot and healthy romances

Lessons on Seduction, a hot erotic romance novel.

It’s been a busy week promoting the cover reveal of my debut erotic fiction novel Lessons on Seduction, published by Black Velvet Seductions. My debut erotic romance novel is available for pre-order on Amazon at a discount price and will be out on July 30.

I know I should be writing a chapter for my next project (a short romance with a hot and sexy Aussie cowboy), but after talking to a few wonderful readers and writers, I have to get this off my chest:

How about a hot, healthy, sensational, and sexy romance this summer?

Are you up for that?

I hope that most of you will be nodding in eager anticipation. Well, there’s no waiting line because here’s a few good romance stories where the heat between the protagonist and the love interest is flammable—which could be a little dangerous in the summer heat! 😉

Here are summer reads I recommend from books I’ve read/am reading from BVS authors:

There’s more, and I’m getting through them – including Paging Dr. Turov by Gibby Campbell and A Thread of Sand by Alan Souter.

What I love most about these books is while they’re ultra-hot and steamy, they also have heroines with strong voices. The women in these books won’t tolerate any kind of demeaning behavior from their partners. They are neither passive nor aggressive: they are assertive women.

Their love interests are men of diverse backgrounds who have a few things in common: empathy, love, and respect for their partner’s boundaries.

On Wattpad, I have my reading lists. From there, here are a some hot romance stories I recommend:

There you have it. Hot romances don’t need to tease readers with blurred lines, underage sex with vast age differences (eg. a fifteen-year-old who romps around with her 38-year-old teacher), or love that emerges from forced submission or kidnapping.

The red flag comes up when I see these lines at the start of a book:

“You will be mine…”

“By the time I’m done with you…”

“You will do as I tell you…”

“Other women would kill to be in your shoes…”

What the heck?

I have to share a personal anecdote. When I was an undergrad student years ago, there was one fellow, let’s call him Casanova, who used one of those lines on me in a confrontational manner in a public place. Oh, he was charming and handsome, but my self-respect was more important than submitting to an unhealthy proposal.

What happened next was something I’ll never forget. My male friends stood with me. They didn’t say much, but their unified stance in silence was enough to send the poor guy running like the clappers. 😉

I realized then that there was no room in my life for unhealthy relationships. That included my taste in books and movies.

Enjoy the heat this summer!

If you haven’t pre-ordered Lessons on Seduction, you can do that now for only 99 cents (pre-order sale price).

>> Pre-order Lessons on Seduction