Syrian Brides-New Release

 

Syrian Brides

New Release

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Book Blurb:

Syrian Brides, published on November 3rd, is a collection of eleven short stories about the lives of women in Syria. The author manages to make the reader laugh while introducing a range of serious topics, such as domestic violence and the role of women in the Syrian society.

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Author’s Bio:

Anna Halabi was born and raised in Aleppo, Syria. She emigrated to Europe in 1999 for her university studies. She currently lives with her family in Germany.
Syrian Brides is her debut as an author. The stories and characters in this collection were inspired by her personal experiences as well as her relatives, friends and TV Shows.

 

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Further details:

·  Paperback: 136 pages

·  Publisher: Independently published (November 3, 2018)

·  Language: English

Whatever It Takes-Guest Blog

Today I have the pleasure of introducing Leigh Fleming as my guest blogger. Please join me in welcoming her.

Whatever It Takes

by Leigh Fleming

January 8, 2019

Contemporary Romance

Available through Amazon 

Some secrets aren’t meant to be kept.

Whatever It Takes, the fourth book in the Whatever series, takes place in the small fictional town of Highland Springs, WV. Its heroine is Darla Heartwood, a successful realtor and Citizen of the Year in the close-knit rural town. On the surface, Darla is a spunky, go-getter, but she has a secret she’s carried for over eighteen years. A secret she’d been determined to bury forever.

The story was inspired by a show I heard on NPR in which a woman had given up her baby to adoption many years ago. One day, her biological child reached out to her, requesting they meet. She didn’t want to reunite with the child she’d given away. It was never revealed in the NPR story as to why she didn’t want to see her child. That got my wheels turning.

Darla’s story began as a secret baby book, but turned into a testimony to the #MeToo movement. Her experience is not unlike many women, and in fact, was loosely based on a work-based sexual harassment situation I endured when I was nineteen. Thankfully, my story ended better than hers.

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whatever it takes ebook cover

Short Synopsis

Secrets are best left buried in the past, something Darla Heartwood knows better than anyone. She’s hidden the truth for eighteen years until the night of her birthday when she receives a call asking if she gave birth to a baby girl. Suddenly, her perfectly ordered world, successful business, and public persona come unraveled.

Life doesn’t always turn out the way you expect it to. Jason Byrne found that out the hard way. Left to raise his baby daughter on his own, he’s made a quiet life for them, teaching at the local college and dedicating his time to being a single dad. He had hoped to avoid the promise he’d made to Meghan—to find her biological mother when she turned eighteen—but when his healthy, athletic daughter collapses and doctors aren’t able to determine why, he can’t put it off any longer.

Meeting the daughter she gave up and the handsome, distinguished man who raised her, Darla decides it’s time she faces her fears. Meghan deserves a strong, brave role model. To earn her respect, Darla must confront the powerful man who left her pregnant at fifteen. She has to do Whatever It Takes to forgive herself, stand up and be heard, and open her heart to love and family.

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Author Bio 

Leigh Fleming creates unique characters facing life’s challenges but who are always rewarded with their happy ending. Her latest release, Whatever It Takes, is the fourth book in the Whatever series. Stay Hidden, the first in her Hidden series, won the Lone Star Writing Contest for romantic suspense in 2017.

A member of Romance Writers of America and the Washington Romance Writers chapter, Leigh lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia, with her husband, Patrick, and her deaf French bulldog, Napoleon, and is mom to adult children, Tom and Liza. When she’s not writing in her windowless office, she enjoys reading, travelling, scrapbooking, and spending time with friends.

Social Media Links

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Books and Heartgasms

This weekend I learned a new word. One that totally describes what I feel when I read good romance: a heartgasm. It’s a perfect term for that feeling I get when reading about a loving relationship between the pages of a book. A relationship between equals, between two people who respect and love each other despite their differences.

Those of you who follow this blog or my Facebook page know that I have strong feelings about certain things that have became a part of the romance novel scene (some that have been around from the beginning, other things that came later but are just as insidious). In the heels of E L James’ success, a lot of other romance writers and readers were sold on the idea that disrespect can be sexy.  I have quit reading many a romance book because of that idea. Including romances that have been international best sellers and critically acclaimed.

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Outlander is such a book. After hearing my friends and acquaintances praising the series as the most romantic book in years, I bought and began reading it. At first I absolutely loved it. What’s there not to love? A strong woman travels back in time to Bonnie Scotland to find the love of her life in the shape of this amazing, hunky Scot. The best part about Jamie Fraser is that he is strong but sweet, respectful, willing to lay his life down for the woman he loves, and in total awe of her beauty and strength. Even though there is way too much unnecessary sex in the story (my opinion) it didn’t bother me–it was loving and mutually satisfying.

Until a scene about half way through the book when Jamie sort of forces himself on his wife to “show” her who the boss was. I couldn’t read anymore after that. Before that scene there was the whole issue of a beating to put her in “her place”. However historically correct that may have been, the Jamie that I fell in love with in the beginning of the story ceased to exist and was replaced by someone very willing to do the unthinkable to prove to himself and the other men in the clan that he was man enough. Disrespectful and power-driven. I was very disappointed because the book was well written and the premise for the story was just up my alley. After all the first full length novel I ever wrote, way back before the new millenium (yes, I’m that old) was a time-travelling romance set in beautiful Scotland. My hero was from the same era as Jamie’s but he would never, ever disrespect his girl.

Heart icon. Vector illustration.

So back to the heartgasm. Throughout the years there have been many novels in different genres who have given me one. There have been YA novels, science fiction books, fantasy, women’s fiction, classics, and of course romance. It so happens it is the feeling I want to give my readers with my heroes and heroines, with their relationships and the way they overcome difficulties and obstacles together. The way they love and support each other while tackling their day to day life with all its troubles. That kind of thing–not the tough sex, the hot billionaire or the sexy biker–never fails to give me multiple satisfying heartgasms. What about you?

The Barbie Factor

I read something online about Barbie dolls the other day, which I believe was meant as a joke but made me think, “Hey, that’s exactly how it was for me.”

The post was about how Barbie dolls had been so much more than dress-up toys for this woman writer–the dolls were a tool for her to practice how to take over the world.

In my country we didn’t have Barbie dolls, but we had something very similar. Mine was a Susi (which I still have today) and yes, I dressed her, combed her hair, and admired her perfect made-up eyes and lips. But Susi was so much more than that.

Susi Dolls

Susi dolls

She was my prop to recreate all the stories I had in my mind. I’d plan and put together elaborate stories and play them over and over again, adding details, perfecting it. I remember one particular setting I seemed to favor–not sure why: a baby bathtub which I had filled with every supply my doll and her family would need. The plot was simple; they were escaping some kind of calamity and they were stuck on that ship until they found a safe harbor somewhere.

Even though Susi had a husband, she was always the one in charge. She took care of the whole family and was the one who found solutions to every problem. She might have been tiny–hubby was a full size doll–but she was fierce.

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Because of that I always roll my eyes at the whole controversy about said doll. I never looked at Susi and thought, “I want to look just like her and be perfect, thin, and helpless.” Instead, I thought, “Girl, let’s go do something awesome and worthy of the kick-ass heroine you are.”

I projected my inner goddess into the lifeless doll and practiced my writer’s imagination and my female super-powers 🙂

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My original Susi with the medieval dress I made for her. (sorry it’s so blurry)

What did you do with your Barbie dolls?

New Markets

New Markets or How to Reach Readers Who Feel Left Out

We all know that the market is fickle and fluctuates all the time. For example, dystopian was huge just a couple of years ago but now agents will not touch it with a ten-foot pole. In the romance genre we are lucky because romance has been a steady market for as long as the genre has been around (don’t believe me? Shakespeare wrote romance and so did Austen and the Bronte sisters).

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It’s the sub-genres that fluctuate a lot. Right now it appears there is a huge market demand for cowboy romance (don’t look at me. The only thing I know about cowboys is that they herd cows, wear boots to bed, and you can never see their faces because of those damn Stetson hats), M/M romance (hot right now), and in the paranormal sub-genre, shifter romance (I’m not even sure I know what a shifter is. Will have to read on that).

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So what’s the real new markets out there? Something that has never before been explored because the publishers and agents were not interested? I was surprised and pleased all at once to find out that some of the big romance publishers are currently interested in later-life romance.

I sat through a panel hosted by Entangled, a small-going-big romance publisher, and was floored when they told us that the publishing house is opening a new imprint called August which will target romances for women who are anywhere between 30-50 years old.

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They want to see no stereotypes (divorcees looking for a husband) but strong women who have put off love in favor of careers, or for whatever other reasons, and stumble upon love late in life. They are asking for 45-60K word manuscripts and, according to the spokesperson, they are rather anxious to test the waters. Their reps at RT told us their market analysis shows there is a huge demand for these stories. So there you go. What are you waiting for? Get busy writing that story you’ve always wanted to write and prove that older women can still cut it in romantic pursuits.

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#ChickLitMay Book Boyfriend Blog Hop

VOTE FOR JEM–YOU KNOW YOU WANNA!

Hiya! I’m JEREMY PETER but please call me Jem. I’ve always hated my name. That is until my best friend–and love of my life–began calling me that to annoy me, lol. I don’t mind so much now because every time I hear it I’m reminded of her. I get this funny fluttering in my stomach and I’m lost. Love that woman!

But I digress. Why should you vote for me for CLC HQ’s Book Boyfriend 2017? Let me count the ways:

  • I’m good looking–in a boy-next-door, not-really-aware kind of way. Emily Rose claims that her favorite hobby is to run her fingers through my curls and stare into my ocean-blue eyes. You be the judge 😉
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JEREMY PETER

  • I’m not perfect, not even close. I messed up big with Em but I fessed up to it and will do anything to be forgiven. Even put my life on the line–or go to yoga with my love.
Ems Bubble

Emily Rose (Em)

  • I will eat just about anything, so my sweet Em will never have to worry about cooking for me. I’ll be just as happy going through the drive-through at McDonald’s as eating a gourmet meal. I love food. Period!
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Celia (Em’s sister)

  • I always support my love to the best of my abilities, even if it means looking like Confucius in drag.
  • I have a great sense of humor. I can make light of any situation. Ask Emily Rose if you don’t believe me. I laughed my way to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.
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Marcy, the witch

  • I’m so the best choice for CLC HQ’s Book Boyfriend 2017! Even magic couldn’t keep me from loving and fighting for my Em.

Vote for me, JEREMY PETER!

You know it’s the right choice.

Print

To buy click here

Send your vote to:  traciebanister@gmail.com

To enter for the Grand Prize

Hop to all the blog stops, collect the candidate’s name at each stop, then submit all 30 names to the address above  in order to be entered in our Grand Prize giveaway. This giveaway includes a Kindle Paperwhite + 30 e-books, one from each of the authors participating in the hop. I will be giving away an e-copy of Loved You Always . Entries for the hop will be accepted until Sunday, May 21st at midnight E.D.T. A winner will be chosen on Monday, May 22nd. This Grand Prize giveaway is open internationally.

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Photo credits:

Picture of Parker Gregory by Mario Testino

Jessica Lu (photographer unknown)

“Celia”‘s picture by Pupulandia

Miss Pandora by Gardrop Kedisi

BLOG STOPS

Tracie Banister 

Becky Monson 

Hilary Grossman 

Glynis Astie  

Jayne Denker  

Jennie Marts  

Barbara Valentin  

Beth Labonte  

Victoria Cooke  

Holly Kerr  

Meredith Schorr 

Stacey Wiedower  

Laurie Baxter 

Jennifer Farwell  

Natalina Reis  

Celia Kennedy  

Beth Carter 

Ellyn Oaksmith 

BJ Knapp  

Lizzie Lamb  

Sylvia Ashby  

Karen M. Cox 

Lindsay Detwiler  

Kirsty McManus  

Melissa Baldwin 

Geralyn Corcillo 

Cassandra O’Leary 

Cat Lavoie 

Kate O’Keeffe  

Monique McDonell  

 

An Introvert In The Crowd

My New Year’s resolution was to be more outgoing and challenge myself to attend lots and lots of writing-related events.

Let me explain why this is important and difficult to me. I’ve always been an introvert. I love people and I do like socializing, but when that involves crowds bigger than two or three it all becomes too stressful for me. Even in small groups, socializing always requires at least a few hours (a few days being ideal) of decompressing and quietness afterwards. I lack the self-confidence that would allow me to feel comfortable hanging out with people I don’t necessarily know very well. My anxiety makes me question everything I say or do constantly (it’s exhausting) and if I decide to just be silent–which I do more often than not–then I chide myself for being unsocial and unnoticeable. Such is the life of a true introvert; we don’t want to be noticed but also don’t want to vanish into the background–and we envy those who always seem to so effortlessly steal the limelight.

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I have challenged myself all my life in this arena. As a young woman I chose a profession that wouldn’t give me the option of NOT being around people and speak in public. I was a tour guide, in charge of large groups of people. I not only had to “herd” them from one place to another but also deliver long, detailed speeches about the places we were visiting, often in more than one language. I loved it, but everyday I had to go home and bury my head in the sand for a while.

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Before that, I worked in a ClubMed-type resort where I had to crawl out of bed super early and–oh the horrors–sit and make small talk with the guests during breakfast (in French). I also had to get on stage every night and perform some kind of skit–sometimes a lip-synced musical, a mime, or a comedy skit. So out of my comfort zone.

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I’m used to being always uncomfortable in social situations–doesn’t mean I have to like it–but I now fear it is hurting my writing career. So I challenged myself again and booked myself into various writing-related events. I just came back from RT Atlanta, one of the biggest romance writers and readers convention in the US.  I had a lot of fun meeting and getting to know my publisher and all the ladies that work for her–editors and writers. What an amazing team I’m part of.  I’ve been back for three days and my neck and shoulders are still recovering from the tension of meeting new people.

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Yesterday I attended an outdoors book sale where I met two other romance writers and in spite of my lack of confidence I actually interacted with the public and even sold a couple books.

In August I’m sitting on my second panel of the year. It’s not an easy thing for me to do even if I will be talking about one of my favorite things in writing–world building–but I’m hoping to put myself “out there”, make myself recognizable and network.

I have signed up for meetings, workshops, book signings…I’m doing the branding, marketing “thing”. It’s exhausting and gratifying all at once. Take my word for it; it’s not easy being an introvert in a very extrovert world.social battery

How many introverts out there? Do you ever challenge yourself? Share your experiences with us.I’d love to hear from you.

 

The Heart of Betrayal-Review

 

The Heart of Betrayal

by Mary E. Pearson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles, #2)

After reading “The Kiss Of Deception” and loving it, I was weary about reading its sequel. Could Mary E. Pearson really write another book as good and surprising as the first one? Well, apparently she can. I loved the surprises she threw at the reader in the first book in the series and she didn’t disappoint again on the second. She keeps you on your toes through most of the story, she makes you hate and love the characters at the same time, and in the end you thirst for that next book. Pearson has a knack to write characters who are lovable and strong as much as they are uncomfortably imperfect and to describe a cruel and hopeless world with heart. I also love that the women in the story are strong and never give up,no matter what their circumstances may be. Pearson gives her female characters a sense of sisterhood that I truly appreciate and hope holds true in real life. Another amazing read. Looking forward to the next (already in my Kindle) one.

View all my reviews

Strawberry Kisses

 

STRAWBERRY KISSES

by Marianne Rice
A Rocky Harbor Novel #2
Limitless Publishing

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Rachael Riley is back home in Rocky Harbor, but she’s not the same woman she once was…

After being rescued from an abusive relationship, Rachael is a shadow of her true self. The only place she manages to find some degree of comfort is in the kitchen, hiding behind her apron as she continues to shut everyone out. Her foster sister knows the real Rachael has been broken, and reaches out by signing her up for self-defense classes, hoping to get her outgoing, confident, and nosy older sister back.

Jake Morgan has done his time and is finally free of his past…

Teaching self-defense is Jake’s way of giving back, compensating for what was taken away from him years ago. He’s well aware that most women in his class have a backstory, and avoids getting emotionally involved—until a beautiful, blue-eyed woman walks in. Jake is instantly drawn to Rachael and sees the inner confidence she tries to hide behind her blonde bangs and hunched shoulders.

Wanting to know the story hidden behind those blue eyes, Jake sets out to break down every barrier Rachael has built…

As he helps Rachael find the strength she’d lost, teaching her how to trust again, a secret from his past threatens to ruin the safety they have found in each other. There’s more connecting them than just their mutual attraction. Once their pasts finally collide, revealing a devastating truth, Jake’s commitment to Rachael is put to the ultimate test.

There is no guarantee when it comes to love, but sometimes all a broken heart needs to heal are sweet strawberry kisses…

** KINDLE ** PAPERBACK **

Strawberry Kisses Promo

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MEET THE AUTHOR: Marianne Rice writes contemporary romances set in small New England towns. Her heroes are big and strong, yet value family and humor, while her heroines are smart, sexy, sometimes a little bit sassy, and are often battling a strong internal conflict. Together, they deal with real life issues and always, always, find everlasting love. When she’s not writing, Marianne spends her time buying shoes, eating chocolate, chauffeuring her herd of children to their varying sporting events, and when there’s time, cuddling with her husband, a drink in one hand, a romance book in the other.
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Germ Attack and Getting Old…

I’ve been hit by the bug. Not sure which bug but definitely a nasty, unwanted bug that has made me feel miserable for the past week and sent me back in my work load another couple weeks. Normally I write a lot when I’m sick but this particular germ brought a nasty headache with it. My brain feels as if someone has put my head in a vise for a few days. Four days of utter misery and a diet of meds. On the positive side I’ve lost weight. On the negative side I haven’t got anything accomplished. No grocery runs, no cleaning, no lesson plans, no yoga, no writing.

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I bring this lovely subject matter up because I have come to realize that getting old sucks big time. Let me explain. Three years ago I would have bounced back this thing, be back at work and go to exercise afterwards. I remember having minor surgery in the morning and going to work in the afternoon. I used to think my friends were “milking” it when they acted as if they were dead after a simple cold. I had done it all; surgeries, wisdom teeth extractions, colds, even an ulcer without having to barely take any time off work. Until about a year ago when I had another of my repeat-offender surgeries in the morning and decided gleefully to go to work in the afternoon. Big mistake! The difference one year made. Something changed. I thought I was going to die. As soon as the anesthesia began wearing off I was in hell. So sure I could bounce off it as I had done many times before, I had refused any pain medicine. I had never needed it before, why start now? Because apparently your body just had it, foolish woman! 

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Same with this cold. I’m not suffering from the flu or any major illness. It’s a freaking cold. And it is kicking my butt. Everything hurts from my head to my toes (and I mean that literally) and all I can gather energy to do is sleep. The simple act of getting dressed and driving to the store down the street to get meds left me exhausted. Is this what I can expect from now on? Is this what getting old feels like? Can someone get me off this ride please? It’s not fun anymore.