From The Darkness

 

Three years ago I signed a contract with a new publisher for my second book, Desert Jewel, and what would become The Jewel Chronicles series. Rebel Jewel was just released yesterday marking my eleventh publication in four years. So why am I bringing this up now?

That year I was in a bad place. I had suffered from bouts of mild depression throughout my life but nothing prepared me for what that year would bring down on me. It wasn’t one isolated thing and it didn’t have anything to do with a death in the family or an illness. It was just a combination of many things throughout the space of a few years all rolled into what turned out to be the perfect storm that almost took me under.

I won’t go into details about everything that went wrong in my life during those years but they were both family and work related. By then I had been navigating many downs in my personal and professional life, but what happened that year was the proverbial drop that overflowed my very full cup.

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Going to work that year was unbearable. I felt smaller than a bug in an extremely toxic environment. The one thing that anchored me to sanity was my writing. I had been offered a contract for my first book and that small triumph made my life bearable and gave me hope that something better lay ahead. Then I received a rejection letter from my publisher for Desert Jewel, a story I had put all of myself into, one I wanted to share with the world because it spoke of my beliefs, it spoke of the strength that lies inside me, it spoke of many things I normally couldn’t voice. I was crushed. Suddenly my only tether to hope had been severed and I was left adrift.

All the hurts, all the doubts, all the fingers pointed at me in the past came crashing down and before I could do anything about it, I was drowning in darkness. I withdrew from all my friends, all activities, barely talked and was always on the verge of tears. I was never suicidal, but I did think about death a lot. I’d be driving home from work and a thought would pop into my head, “What if a car ran the red light, crashed into mine and killed me?” In my depressive state I thought that it would be a blessing, not only for me but my loved ones. My husband would finally be able to move back to his hometown and marry a wife who made him happier, my sons would not have my pervasive enabling to deal with and could finally be independent and happy, my coworkers would be able to work with someone more efficient than me, and I would have some peace at last. Years of listening to people telling me these things had finally convinced me they were right. I was useless and brought nothing to the world. Even the one thing I thought I was good at, my writing, was now a broken dream.

The scariest part was that no one noticed or realized how depressed I was, even though I barely talked, barely left the house, stopped meeting with friends. Instead, those close to me thought I was just being difficult, that because I was unhappy at work, I was mad at the world and just lashing out. They would often get mad at me, tell me to snap out of it which in turn made me even more depressed. I felt guilty for being such a party pooper, for feeling the way I felt and helpless against it.

black and white black and white depressed depression

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Amid all the murkiness of depression I sent a submission to a new publisher one of my pub sisters had recommended. I was not holding my breath. After all, if my own publisher didn’t want my book why would others?

My husband and I went on a mini-vacation to the mountains that spring and I was miserable. This early riser couldn’t get herself out of bed in the morning and woke up already crying. That morning I dragged myself out of bed and went to hide in the big bathroom, pretending I was getting dressed. I sat on the edge of the hot tub scrolling through my messages and saw an email from the publisher I had sent my manuscript to. I must have sat there for ten minutes before daring to open it. I was sure it was a rejection but as long as I didn’t actually read the words there was always a thread of hope. And I needed hope desperately.

Eventually I did click on it and read the message. I will never forget what I felt reading the words of the woman who is now my publisher. It was not a rejection, far from it. Not only was she offering me a contract, but her words filled me with a joy I hadn’t felt in a long time. It was not just a “yes, we want your book” letter, it was a “loved your manuscript, it’d be an honor to publish it”.

She doesn’t know this—no one does—but that message brought me from the edge of that terrible place I was in. That day I got dressed, I went out, I laughed and talked to my husband. I also decided to get a therapist and go back to yoga. Shortly after that, I got an interview and was able to move to a different school where people treat me with respect to this day.

I was not “cured”. More recently I saw the darkness rising again but I was ready this time. I called my doctor and asked for help before it got too far. Writing is still saving me one day at a time. It’s where I go when I need a break from reality, where I go when I need to control life the way I can’t do in the real world. It’s where I go to rest.

left hand

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I was lucky to have someone say just the right thing at the right time to give me enough hope that I could find my way to the surface, but what if that hadn’t happened? Where would I be?

Be aware of your loved ones’ behavior at all times. Don’t assume they are just being difficult and if you notice a difference, talk to them without judgement, without finger-pointing and listen, listen to them. You may be the one thing that keeps them afloat.

**This article offers several depression hotlines that you can use at any time. Don’t wait, talk to someone today.**

 

Rebel Jewel- New Release

Author: Natalina Reis
Title: Rebel Jewel
Series: The Jewel Chronicles, book 3
Genre: Romantic Fantasy
Release Date: August 31, 2019
Cover Designer: Soxsational Cover Art
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Milenda never wanted the responsibilities that came from being a royal heiress. After three years in exile, she’s called back home to ignite a revolution. A revolution that will spill innocent blood and endanger her husband and baby daughter.
After a lifetime in captivity, Jaali only wants a quiet life with his wife and daughter. But the gods have other plans, ones that promise a wave of destruction. To rescue their people from the Elders and free the enslaved, Milenda and Jaali must put aside their fears, summon all their courage and wits, and march head-on into a bloody revolution.
Even if their love for each other carries them, unscathed and victorious, to the end, the revolution may yet destroy the lives of the ones they hold dearest.
Rebel Jewel is the third and final book in The Jewel Chronicles. A unique interracial romance set against a breathtaking fantasy world with complex characters and twists at every turn. Let Rebel Jewel take you to another world.
 

Amazon US:  https://amzn.to/2zbsZZJ 

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Author of We Will Always Have the Closet, Desert Jewel, and Loved You Always, Natalina wrote her first romance in collaboration with her best friend at the age of 13. Since then she has ventured into other genres, but romance is first and foremost in almost everything she writes.

After earning a degree in tourism and foreign languages, she worked as a tourist guide in her native Portugal for a short time before moving to the United States. She lived in three continents and a few islands, and her knack for languages and linguistics led her to a master’s degree in education. She lives in Virginia where she has taught English as a Second Language to elementary school children for more years than she cares to admit.

Natalina doesn’t believe you can have too many books or too much coffee. Art and dance make her happy and she is pretty sure she could survive on lobster and bananas alone. When she is not writing or stressing over lesson plans, she shares her life with her husband and two adult sons.

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Excerpt

The smell of blood suffocated him. There was no running from it. It surrounded him, tightening its nauseating grip on Jaali’s senses, clinging to his nostrils, not letting him go.
Where is Milenda? Jaali scanned the area around him, his glance bouncing off objects and undefined shapes, straining through the red fog closing in on him. Even the mist was tinted with blood, snaking over the wet ground, the exhale of a hidden monster. Milenda was nowhere to be seen. His heart pumped harder, the drumming echoing in his ears, deafening and frantic.
He tried to move, but invisible hands held him steadfast, feet rooted to the dirt-covered ground, unseen shackles around his ankles, breaking through skin and digging into his flesh.
No, not again.
With all the strength he had left, Jaali pulled and pushed against whatever held him in place, the sting of wounded flesh shooting up his legs, a feeling all too familiar to him. He was enslaved again. He thrashed harder, blood now running down to his bare feet, warm and frightening.
A shadow emerged from the fog. Milenda! But, no, it couldn’t be. Its frame was too tall and broad. Jaali opened his mouth to yell for help, but the word never left his lips. Panic rose inside of him, insidious and overwhelming. Why had they returned to Afrika? He had warned his wife it was too dangerous. Too many people wanted them dead.
The shadowy figure took shape as it approached him—brown legs the size of tree trunks and long arms to match.
No, no, no.
The sight of an impressive bald head choked him. It couldn’t be. The duivel was dead. And yet, there he was, striding toward him like an out-of-control transport. Jaali yelled out, his voice freed from whatever was muting it, and pulled harder on the invisible chains holding his ankles. To no avail. The shackles held steady as if glued to the ground.
The slaver proceeded toward him, a cruel smirk curling the corners of his lips. “I’ve got you now, my beautiful boy. You can’t run this time.” Mnyama threw his massive weight into his stride, coming closer and closer to Jaali. “It’s been too long. Ready to give me some of that milky goodness?”
“You’re dead,” Jaali screamed, his voice absorbed by the thick fog. “It’s not possible.”
The large man took a few more steps, a growl-like chuckle leaving his lips. “Well, I’m not. And I missed you, little white boy. My friends missed you too.”
From the thickest part of the fog, where the blood seemed to have coagulated into disgusting blobs, a few more shadows appeared, coalescing into several human bodies, both male and female—all unwelcome echoes of his past. The slaver had brought his cronies.
“No, you’re dead.” Jaali’s voice came out as a sob, a heart-wrenching plea to whatever gods were listening. “I killed you.”
The group of human shadows united in their progress toward him. “It’s about time we have ourselves a good orgy.” Mnyama glanced at his friends. “Any preference about who does the boy first?”
He couldn’t be sure the ear-splitting scream he heard came from himself. Jaali closed his eyes tight and, like a mantra, repeated the words, “It’s not possible. You’re dead, duivel. This is only a nightmare.”
“Well, you should have stayed in Isvärld,” a familiar female voice said. “You wouldn’t be going through this again.”
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Being True To Yourself as a Romance Writer

I just recently read a blog that made me reevaluate my writing or at least the way I look at it. Writing from a place of fear versus from a place of love by Chuck Wendig really hit a nerve with me. Like most writers I thrive on self-doubt and am never sure whether I’m writing the right thing; the thing that readers want, what the readers will devour and beg for more, ultimately the one thing that will sell my books.

I have been tempted to write what seems to sell. As a romance writer I am plenty aware of what romance readers in general are reading, the things that make them tick. But as much as I have wanted to write those books, I couldn’t. They were not me. So cue in another wave of self-loathing; why can’t I be more like others, why am I so weird and different from everybody else? Enter days and days of agonizing over a manuscript; is my publisher going to want it? Will it sell? Will reviewers even be interested in reviewing it?writing

I was recently at a book signing event and decided to attend one of the panels they were offering. As quickly as I went in, I turned around and left, not so much horrified and depressed by what was being discussed but by the fact that if that was what the readers wanted, I would never be able to give it to them. No judgement on the authors of such books but they are not me. I can’t write kinky stuff, just can’t. I love writing about everyday Joes who take great pleasure in making love to their mates in simple ways, men and women who don’t need the aid of tools or pain (or the suggestion of such) to reach an orgasm, couples who won’t allow a third wheel in their sexual life and don’t need to be dominated, women who are not sex goddesses who may in fact even be a little shy about it… in short, people who are so in love with each other that they don’t need anything else to turn them on, keep them on, and reach that apex of pleasure most of us look for.

The reverse of the medal is what it’s usually called clean or sweet romance where sex is either only implied or not mentioned at all. I can’t write these either because I enjoy reading about the characters being intimate and loving, their physical reaction to the love they have for each other. So I like to write spicy scenes. My kind of spice, the kind I keep thinking is not what today’s romance reader want.

Making love

And so the cycle of self-doubt goes on, possibly to never stop. But for now I will stick to what feels right to me at the risk of never selling enough books to keep me fed. I will keep writing from a place of love.

Have you ever been tempted or have in fact written from a place of fear? How did it make you feel?

Boost – New Release

🚨ᑎEᗯ ᖇEᒪEᗩᔕE🚨

Boost

❝When 𝘎𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘪𝘯 60 𝘚𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘥𝘴 meets 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘍𝘢𝘴𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘍𝘶𝘳𝘪𝘰𝘶𝘴❞

Boost

by Author Krissy V

Blurb 
Car boosting is all Zahara knows. She’s built her reputation as The Ghost and enjoys the anonymity. No one knows who she is, what sex she is, or when she is going to strike. That’s the way she likes it.

Nikolai Federov is the boss of one of the largest car boosting gangs in the States. He has a team of bratva working for him, and he doesn’t trust anyone.

One mistake brings their two worlds together, and what happens when they do, is explosive.

Follow Zahara and Nikolai’s adrenaline-fueled story as they try to outwit their worst nightmare.

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Krissy V

Krissy V.

She is a mother to two young children, who in turn keep her young. She lives in Dublin, Ireland, but she’s originally from South Devon in the UK. She works full time in a pharmacy and writes in all her spare time, in her lunch hour, when watching TV at night and anywhere the urge takes her.

She is always thinking of situations that be turned into a story and has started a few stories, which in turn will be completed and released to her readers.

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Excerpt
Adrenaline is pumping through my veins. I guess it’s like taking a hit of heroin. I don’t need drugs though, I know how to get my highs. My heart pumps faster. My skin is highly sensitive, I can feel the air blowing each of the hairs on my arm.
Checking my phone one last time I put it back inside my bra and zip up my cat suit. Everything I’m wearing is black, as black as the night so that I won’t stand out. I can’t afford to be seen. I’ll end up going to jail and I have too much to lose for that to happen now. My blonde curls are tied back in a ponytail and hidden under my black woolly hat.
I spot my target. Felix. Just sitting there waiting for me. He doesn’t know he’s coming home with me tonight. No-one will have treated him as good as I’m going to. I’m going to ride him so hard he won’t know what’s hit him.
This is a one night thing, so I need to remember that. I tend to forget and get attached. Creeping closer I see there are actually a few good choices tonight, but I only have my eyes on one target.
Moving silently across the garage I keep an eye out so that I don’t get spotted. I’ve been here a few times already. Scoping the joint. Watching the comings and goings of security and of course the owner. Felix is a Ferrari F60 America, worth about $2.5 million. There were only ten F60’s made and my client is desperate to get his hands on one. Even a stolen one.

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Retribution – New Book

 

Way of the Wolf: Retribution

(The Wulvers Series Book 2)

by Rebecca Anne Stewart

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Blurb

My father is dead, and my need for vengeance fuels my every decision and every move. I may not have evidence to prove it, but I know who’s responsible and it’s only a matter of time before I bring them down. 

Roarke is now more determined than ever to prove his worth—not only as the alpha of our pack, but also as my mate. He made it clear our bond will be sealed on the next full moon, and my growing feelings for him make me realize there’s no fighting fate.

But our pack is in danger, secrets start to surface, and loyalties are questioned. Nobody can be trusted, and it seems our enemies are closer than we thought.

Now that I know my place in this world, there’s nothing I won’t do to keep my position in the pack and protect those who are under my care. Roarke and I might have gotten off to a rocky start, but soon everyone will know that together the alpha and I…

We’re a force to be reckoned with. 

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Blurb (2)

Rebecca Stewart

REBECCA STEWART

Rebecca is an Author, musician and singer/song writer based in Alyth, Scotland. She focuses her energy on her creative passions and uses her Highland roots to influence all aspects of her life.

Rebecca comes from a family of musicians and spent much of her childhood absorbing the sounds of traditional music while touring Scotland. Rebecca also has a keen interest in her genealogy as she descends from the country’s travelling folk, a culture steeped in history and stories.

A proud Scottish person with a rich family heritage, Rebecca enjoys spending time with her loved ones, travelling her beautiful native homeland and performing with friends.

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Series

Way of the Wolf: Ascension

(The Wulvers Series Book 1)

My father is the alpha, a mantle my unborn brother will take one day. But as daughter of the alpha, my role isn’t yet certain.

My heart is set on becoming the beta, I want to show our kind that a female can be just as strong as any other wolf, without needing a mate to protect her.

But when my father is called to help a neighboring pack, suddenly everything changes. I’m thrown into a world of intrigue, deadly plots, and a fight for power.

As a female who never wanted or needed a mate, I now find myself torn between two males. One, the leader. The other, an untamed wolf.

Either way, taking a mate requires submission, and it’s not in my nature to submit. But no matter how hard I try to fight it, it seems my fate has already been decided.

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White Hot Kiss – Review

White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements, #1)White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve been meaning to read one of Armentrout’s books for a long time and I finally got to it. I’m so glad I did. What a great story. It has everything I love in fiction: drama, humor, fantasy, and romance. I am truly sorry for Layla and I have no idea how she is going to decide between the two swoon-worthy men in her life (because it’s not hard enough being a half-demon, right?), bad-boy Roth or wholesomely hot Zayne. But I already ordered the second book. With books this good is it any wonder that there are so many of us, mature women, reading and loving YA? Thank you, Ms. Armentrout for a great read.

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Here Comes the Son – New Book

Title: Here Comes the Son
Genre: M/M Urban Fantasy Romance
Release Date: July 27, 2019
Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing
Cover Designer: FuriousFotog Covers
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When evil stirs in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, heroes come in both ordinary and extraordinary packages.
Ignatius Faber knows a few things for absolute certain. He’s half-demon, his father is the unequivocal prince of darkness, and demons want to destroy his city. And if he doesn’t make the first move on his crush, they’re never going to be anything more than a teenage fantasy that’s lasted into his thirties.
Lalo Pavia grew up hard and fast, orphaned at a young age.  As an autistic, he’s learned to approach life cautiously. He throws his energy into gardening and photography—allowing both to provide a buffer between himself and the rest of the world.
Except for Iggy.
Can they find triumph, life, and even love in the middle of a city in flames?
 
Their fight for the mile high city has just begun.
“And don’t eat my slice. Why are you so distracting?”
“Have you seen me?” Iggy licked the chocolate spread from his fingers, sighing when the move was completely wasted on Lalo, who hadn’t bothered to turn around. “You’re hard on my ego.”
“Good.” Lalo finally glanced over his shoulder with a grin. “Yours has needed deflating since high school. You’ve got Nutella on your cheek.”
“Want to lick it off?” Iggy infused the question with all his charm.
“Are you this unsanitary on all your dates?” Lalo wrinkled his nose and turned back to his camera. “They put napkins in with the pizza.”
Iggy fell backwards with an aggrieved sigh, staring up at the stars in the night sky. “Why do I bother?”
“No idea,” Lalo muttered. “Don’t know why you bother either. You’re less obnoxious when you aren’t using your chili senses to spice up your life.”
They snickered together.
The slightly defensive tone in his voice caught Iggy’s attention. He sometimes forgot Lalo misread teasing for seriousness. Silently kicking himself for not being more careful, Iggy got to his feet and walked toward him as their laughter faded away.
Great job, Iggy; put your foot in it on the first date. You’ve only known Lal for years.
Iggy brought his hands up, giving Lalo plenty of time to retreat, and gripped him by the shoulders. “I bother because you’ve had my attention since high school. Not that you noticed or cared.”
“You were joking.”
Joking?
Oh, right, the misunderstanding a minute ago.
“I was.” Iggy tilted his head to put their lips closer, bending a little to close the two-inch height difference. “I’m not joking about wanting to kiss you.”

 

Dahlia Donovan wrote her first romance series after a crazy dream about shifters and damsels in distress. She prefers irreverent humour and unconventional characters. An autistic and occasional hermit, her life wouldn’t be complete without her husband and her massive collection of books and video games.

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A Court Of Mist And Fury-Review

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Maas ripped my heart apart before she put it back together only to tear it to pieces again. This book is a wild, heart-wrenching ride that often left me breathless. There are no words to describe it. It is pure intense heartbreaking and soul satisfying magic. Don’t miss it.

Note: Not for young adults. I wouldn’t let a teenager younger than 18 read this.

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Twenty Things the Craft of Writing Has Taught Me

 

My pub sister, Amy K Mcclung recently posted this in her Facebook page and, since I agree with pretty much everything she says, I asked her if I could post it here. What do you think? Is there anything else you’d add to the list?

Twenty Things the Craft of Writing Has Taught Me

by Amy K Mcclung

  1. A good editor is worth everything
  2. Don’t read reviews!
  3. If you do read reviews, learn from them…don’t cry
  4. Write what you love, not what’s the big seller at the moment 
  5. Other Authors can be a great support system, 
  6. There are some authors who will only look out for themselves (true in all aspects of life)
  7. Write what you know or do your research heavily on what you don’t. 
  8. Show, don’t tell. 
  9. When I tell people “I write romance” and they respond with a judgmental, “Oh”, remember there are so many people who love the genre, and who love my books 
  10. Blurbs are hard 
  11. Rejection is part of writing sometimes. Take it and move forward. 
  12. I’m not crazy, the voices in my head are characters 😋
  13. Don’t force a story. It will all fall together when the time is right 
  14. Avoid drama – especially on Goodreads 
  15. Be proud of my books, I wrote an entire novel…that’s not something everyone can do. 
  16. If one person reads/loves my book(s) I’m a success.
  17.  I don’t need a Best Seller tag to prove my worth as a writer 
  18.  Blurbs are hard (yep I said it twice)
  19.  People will judge a book by its cover 
  20.  Family will support you even if they don’t read your books. Word of mouth is a powerful thing. 

Idea Girl

Manhattan Cinderella-Review

Manhattan Cinderella: A romantic comedy (Fairy Tales in New York Book 1)Manhattan Cinderella: A romantic comedy by Kate O’Keeffe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fun read, just what I needed. I love fairy tale retellings and this one was no exception. I started reading it right after coming back from a trip to NYC so the author’s descriptions of the area rang true and took me right back there. Gabby and Cole are great and their romance is sweet and sexy as much as believable. Loved it.

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