Estelle Pettersen, author of Elizabeth: The Starling Sisters: Prequel Novella, published by Magnolia Blossom Publishing, receives national recognition through the INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD®!
The INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD recognized Elizabeth: The Starling Sisters: Prequel Novella by Estelle Pettersen in the category of Romance as a distinguished favorite.
The competition is judged by experts from different aspects of the book industry, including publishers, writers, editors, book cover designers and professional copywriters. Selected IPA Award Winners and Distinguished Favorites are based on overall excellence.
Elizabeth: The Starling Sisters: Prequel Novella, is a contemporary romance novella set in the Australian outback. Newsday Australia reporter Elizabeth Martin seems to have it all. Until her boss gives her an ultimatum that will change her future.
It’s 1996 and Elizabeth has to choose: work for six months at a country newspaper, Maranoa Herald, or lose her job. Convincing herself this is just another stepping stone, Elizabeth leaves the city and her fiancé, lawyer Paul Ricci, for a small town in rural Australia. Despite the scorching heat and pests, Bandara holds a charm of its own—Keith Starling, a handsome farmer with sky-blue eyes and a spellbinding smile.
What happens when Elizabeth returns to the city and discovers what Paul’s been hiding from her? Will she choose her career or everlasting love in the country with Keith? Elizabeth is the prelude to the Starling Sisters series.
In 2023, the INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD had entries worldwide. Authors and publishers from countries such as Australia, Canada, Germany, India, Japan, Norway, Scotland, and South Africa, participated.
Books submitted included writers based in cities such as Atlanta to Los Angeles; London to Nova Scotia; from Cape Town to Mumbai; from Albuquerque to New York City as well as others.
“We are proud to announce the winners and distinguished favorites in our annual 2023 INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD. This year included an array of quality and diverse independent books,” Olczak said. “Independent publishing is pushing on every corner of the earth with great content. We are thrilled to be highlighting key titles representing global independent publishing.” said awards sponsor Gabrielle Olczak.
For more information please visit independentpressaward.com; and to see this year’s list of IPA Winners and Distinguished Favorites, please visit the website pages:
Estelle Pettersen is an Australian/Norwegian author and former journalist whose romance stories explore empowerment, freedom, and finding one’s strength. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Journalism and Psychology, from the University of Queensland, Australia. Her second degree is an MBA from Queensland University of Technology, Australia. She is a member of Romance Writers of Australia and is passionate about history, languages, cultures, traveling, food, and wine. She is happily married and living in Norway these days.
Hi everyone! It’s my pleasure to welcome Suzanne Smith, an award-winning romance author from Chicago, USA.
Her book, The Brute and I, is one of her emotionally rendering stories that won the Literary Titan Book Awards’ gold award. The novel is also a finalist in the Best Book Awards. It explores the psychological complexities of a relationship, winning the hearts of readers worldwide.
Congratulations on winning the Literary Titan Book Awards. Which of your stories won the awards and what they are about?
Thank you Estelle! I have two short stories and one full length novel that have won the Literary Titan Gold Award. The first short story is The Mortal Vampire, in The Mystic Desire Anthology. It’s about a 300 year old vampire that starts to regain his humanity after he meets a mysterious human named Angela.
The second short story is Bullets and Bustles, in The Cowboy Desire Anthology. It’s set in the Old West and is about a female bounty hunter named Emma Tombs who is forced to come face to face with who she really is and the true reason she’s compelled to hunt and kill men.
The full length novel is The Brute and I. It’s about the passionate, yet destructive relationship between Alex and her lover Marco. While the three stories are different in terms of time and place, they all touch on themes of forgiveness and redemption. All of the books were published by BVS.
Also, congratulations on The Brute and I getting into the finals of the Best Book Awards. How will you be celebrating your successes?
Probably with a drink or two and a steak dinner.
How did you feel when you were informed about your wins/successes?
Elated. I really hadn’t anticipated it. As an author who writes psychologically dark stories, I often ask myself if those who read my work are able to relate to the severely flawed characters that I create.
Are my characters likable? Memorable? Winning an award tells me that they are, at least to the judges of the contests. It’s encouraging.
Is this the first time you’ve won a book award?
No. The Brute and I placed as a Distinguished Favorite in the Independent Press Award Contest in 2020.
When did you start writing and what motivated you to write?
I started writing a few years ago. Retirement was fast approaching and I wanted to find a hobby that would keep me busy. I figured I’d try my hand at romance, so I started taking online writing classes.
Writing romance proved more difficult than I ever thought it would be. But, I had a great teacher/editor named Laurie Sanders who helped me with character development, deep point of view, and plot progression, among other things.
It wasn’t long before I realized how stimulating and satisfying it was to bring the characters that I’d imagined in my head to life on the page. I also found that writing allowed me certain freedoms. The freedom to travel back and forth in time, to go anywhere in this world or another, and to kill someone without consequence. Lol.
What are the highs and lows of being an author?
The highest of the highs is holding a physical copy of your published book in your hand. It offers tangible proof that you’ve achieved your goal. I also love getting complimented on my work completely out of the blue. One morning, not that long ago, as I was sitting in my chair at the front desk of the dental office I worked at, a patient approached me and told me that she’d really enjoyed reading The Brute and I. I had no idea she even knew I was a writer. I was on cloud nine all day.
The lows are those negative comments that you have no control over. I had someone on Twitter comment that they didn’t read The Brute and I because they found the title in combination with the cover offensive, that I should be ashamed of referring to a dark-skinned man as a brute. I also had a Christian author insult me when I friended her on FB. She said she would never, ever be friends with someone like me who writes “smut” and how dare I think that she would.
The negative comments weren’t based on the story itself, but rather on what each of these people perceived the story to be about. But, that’s social media and you just have to move past it.
Have you ever received criticism from readers, editors, or reviewers? If so, how did you handle it?
So far, the only criticism I’ve received was from an editor who didn’t like the pacing of The Brute and I. I fully agreed with what he said. For a little while, I turned to writing short stories. I found that writing short stories helped me with the pacing issue immensely. I respect criticism, but only if it is constructive.
What is the nicest thing anyone has said about your work?
Well, not the nicest, but certainly the most profound, was when my boss’s wife, who is an avid reader, told me that she will never again look at me the same way now that she’s read my stories. She had no idea that I had such darkness in me. It’s kind of thrilling to expose that hidden side of yourself to someone.
What is the one key advice you would give to anyone who wants to become a published author?
This can’t be said enough. Never give up. Take bad reviews and rejection letters with a grain of salt and move forward.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I read, do a little gardening, spend quality time with my three fur babies, and watch a lot of Netflix. I’m probably one of the few writers that spends more time watching television than reading a book.
What is your next writing project?
I recently completed a full length novel titled Lilah’s Limit. The story is set in New Orleans circa 1870, and is about a scarred man who falls in love with a prostitute. I’m currently working on a story about a young girl who is tormented by a demon who lives inside her walls.
I am thrilled to announce that one of my favorite authors, USA Today Bestseller Eileen Troemel, has released a new book!
Fractured (Love Of The Broken Book 1) was released on October 15, 2022.
You can buy it here: https://books2read.com/Fractured-bk1-Love-of-the-Broken
Sent to the prison planet Laken, Zulma expects to be raped and tortured. What she finds there may save her and her people. Ordered to a crashed Dolian ship, Conasian prisoners of war Drake, Claud, Stuart, and Parker hope to survive the trek through the dangerous sleepers. The downed ship is vital. What they discover will change their future if they survive the sleepers and their own men.
This is a Reverse Harem dark sci-fi romance.
Trigger warning: There is cursing and violence. Rape and torture are referred to.
Drake stepped across the threshold and held up his hands. “What do we have here,” he growled. “Stay away from me,” a small woman held a laser pistol. Clad in a concubine’s white dress covering her from her upper thighs to her breasts, she stood her ground. “Who are you,” Drake asked. Stuart snatched a similar pistol out of the air when Claud tossed it to him. “Where am I,” Drake asked. Stuart snatched a similar pistol out of the air when Claude tossed it to him. “Where am I,” she demanded without answering Drake’s question. “Laken,” Drake provided. Long purple hair fell in front of her shoulder. Her pale skin shimmered as though embedded with gold. “Bastard,” she muttered not taking her eyes off the two men invading the room. “You judge us harshly,” Drake growled. “Not you,” she said. “Him.” “Him who,” Drake stepped closer. He tried to judge how far he’d get before she pulled the trigger. He noted the safety was not on so she at least knew how to shoot. “The Prime,” she said. Her golden-brown eyes assessed her surroundings as if she sought an escape.
USA Today Bestseller Author Eileen Troemel writes action packed and emotionally powerful fantasy, scifi, romance. She’ll try almost any genre if it means she can tell a good story. In addition to her writing, she loves to read, crochet, and research genealogy. Her best days are spent with her family of three adult daughters and her husband or writing.
Creatures of the Night by Deborah Kelsey Lazaroff is an incredibly sensual and erotic supernatural love story.
I felt it was a fantastic book, one of the best supernatural romances, with an eerie feeling throughout the novel. The author’s work is superb and flawless – I loved her writing style.
The steamy scenes are almost too hot to handle, and the emotional development in the relationship between the main characters, Sarah and Trevor, keeps me hooked, wanting to read the next chapter even past bedtime.
This novel is a must-read for supernatural and dark romance lovers who want originality in a vampire romance novel.
Michael by Callie Carmen is the perfect romance book to end the Risking Love series.
After reading the other novels in the series, I can honestly say that Michael did not disappoint. I was kept on my toes with the thrills of the love story between Olivia and Michael.
A survivor of relationship abuse, Olivia has put the past behind her and focuses on her future. She moves forward with her thriving career and meets the gorgeous VP Michael Evans. Falling in love doesn’t come without obstacles – a cunning dragon lady ready to claw her way into Michael’s life, and a crazy ex-boyfriend who raises one’s anxiety levels through the roof.
As I read every chapter, I cheered for Olivia because of her strength, tolerance, and refusal to be beaten by the bullying forces. I loved Michael for his loyalty, faithfulness, and ability to see the forest through the trees in tough situations.
I loved this story – so many emotions raced around my heart when I read Michael.
I sometimes prefer reading books with good short stories to a full novel, especially in busy times. A good dark romance anthology in the lead-up to Halloween is the perfect treat.
Dark Desire has everything I craved – vampires, shapeshifters, werewolves, and an abundance of mystery. It was time to step out of my comfort zone and dig deep into something darker in romance, so I went for the anthology.
It’s worth checking out some amazing authors and getting to know their other work.
Dark Desire showcases twelve stories where the authors delve into the dark crevasses of their imaginations, probing into dark themes, creating strange new worlds and inventing larger than life characters.
These stories explore relationships, unafraid of taking the genre of romance to a darker deeper level.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Okay, so I’ve been asked a few times: what’s all the hype about bad boy characters in romance novels?
Well, it’s not news. The ‘bad boys’ have been around for centuries andthey are appealing for various reasons. According to the Oxford Dictionary online, a bad boy is “a man who does not conform to approved standards of behavior, especially in a particular sphere of activity.”
In fact, they’ve been in literature for a while, including the biblical times. Let’s take Moses; I mean, c’mon—the guy killed a man, talked to shrubbery, turned his staff into a snake, and divided the Red Sea! Now, that’s pretty badass and impressive, if you ask me.
Let’s skip centuries forward to Dorian Gray. He was hedonistic, vain (yup, that portrait!), indulged in debauchery (oh, poor Sibyl!), and yeah, he killed a guy.
Okay, let’s travel to the twentieth century: Dirty Dancing. Wasn’t Patrick Swayze a dream? His character, Johnny Castle, makes me swoon. Who can forget the line “nobody puts Baby in a corner?”
Today, we have characters like Christian Grey from the Fifty Shades series, Massimo Torricelli from 365 Dni, and Kylo Ren in the Star Wars series (yes, I’m a Star Wars fan!).
What’s the appeal?
A study led by Gregory Louis Carter of the University of Durham (cited in Psychology Today) provided insights, revealing that women found men with dark personalities attractive. The results of the study offered two possible explanations. First, sexual selection might be at work; women responded to signals of “male quality” when it came to reproduction. With respect to short-term mating, women may be drawn to “bad boys” who demonstrate confidence, stubbornness, and risk-taking tendencies. Secondly, sexual conflict may be at play.
Stories with sexual conflict, risks, and a bad boy sounds appealing, right? It seems to work for many successful romance stories. The bad boys are exciting and fun, according to psychologist Robyn McKay, author of Smart Girls in the 21st Century (quoted in Good Housekeeping).
A short-term fiction fling?
Can the bad boys have their happily ever after (HEA) in romance stories? Or will they end up like Heathcliff, Dorian, or some other kind of roadkill?
Carter and his team reported that there were limitations of their study, indicating that the sample they selected were likely to be oriented toward short-term relationships.
Moreover, studies by Urbaniak and Kilmann (2003) and Herold and Milhausen (1999) (cited in Edward Horgan’s Harvard University project “Exceeding the Threshold: Why Women Prefer Bad Boys”) indicate that women adamantly claim to prefer nice guys. Horgan further states that there is an apparent discrepancy within current scientific literature on the subject of female attraction, with regard to the bad boys.
Is there hope for the bad boys?
There seems to be hope, depending on the circumstances. Psychologist Forrest Talley, Ph.D. (quoted in Good Housekeeping) stated that women desired to have someone in their life who was tough enough to face the world and punch back when necessary.
In other words, we don’t mind the tough guys who have a protective side, when they’re on our side. They have an even bigger chance of winning our hearts for good if they are kind, sensitive, and romantic. Interestingly, niceness itself is not an unattractive characteristic but is simply insufficient to garner female attention on its own, according to Horgan.
In my erotic romance novel Lessons on Seduction published by Black Velvet Seductions, my male MC, Julian—a guy who sold his body to pay off his college debt—takes his new girlfriend, Sapphire, for a wild ride before he realizes just how much he loves her. However, he makes some pretty big mistakes. Is it too late for guys like him, though?
Well, not if he’s brave enough to punch back at the world, show his sensitive and sweet nature, and fight for his lover. However, if Julian continues taking Sapphire for granted, then there is no hope for him.
I’m proud of Jules for one thing, though—he’s not an abusive man. I’ve met abusive men in my life, and I can tell you firsthand that it’s not a pleasant experience. Abuse comes in different forms: mental, emotional, and physical. That is one thing no one should tolerate from any person, bad boy or not, in fiction or real life.
Who’s your favorite bad boy in literature?
I’ll admit my weak spot: I’ve always liked the vampire Lestat from Interview with a Vampire and The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice. The Lestat I read in her books has more appeal and sensitivity than the movie version played by Tom Cruise in the 1990s film Interview with a Vampire (sorry!).
I also don’t mind hot and charismatic Dracula, played by Gary Oldman in the Francis Ford Coppola film version. While others might swoon over Keanu Reeves, who played Jonathan Harker, I’m more interested in none other than Vlad himself. Why? He’s enigmatic, dangerous, mysterious, and yet, he’s protective of sweet Mina—with all his heart. It’s his capability to love (some may disagree, but I believe Irish author Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a love story as much as it’s a horror fiction), his vulnerability, his protectiveness, and his hungry passion for his true love that I liked.
I can honestly admit I’m a sucker for bad boys who are sensitive, protective, and loving—as long as they’re not abusive.
Over to you: Have you ever imagined riding off into the sunset with a bad boy (or bad girl) character in fiction?
If you’re looking for a hot romance with a bad boy, or a hunky good guy, check out the diverse range of romance books, from sweet to erotic, on publisher Black Velvet Seductions’ website: https://blackvelvetseductions.com/
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