Since romance awards have been problematic lately I decided to just do some of my own. There are no submissions, no judges, no pomp and ceremony. Just me looking at the books I read last year and saying which ones GAVE ME THE MOST FEELS. I think everyone should do this. Celebrate the books you love. If you’re like me then really dork it up and do something like this.
Stay tuned to this space because the awards show will start tomorrow night and go for… awhile. With buy links, giveaways, and lots of praise for the books that entertained me in a year that we would otherwise prefer not to mention. At least one award (with associated giveaways) will be posted each week. Maybe more often if I feel like getting this over with. Are you sensing the lack of formality? I hope so. A friend on Twitter suggested that proper red carpet wear will be pajamas and YES. Put on your favorite pajamas for this.
In case you missed the original Twitter thread where I hatched this crazy idea you can find it here.
With Pheme’s Regret in Fall 2019 we were officially half-way through the Haberdashers series, and also halfway through “Act II.” In Act I we learned who the Haberdashers really were and in Act II we are learning what they are really up against.
Justice for Sisyphus, coming out in 2020, picks up the story of the Earl of Harington’s wayward steward Philip Gladstone after Philip musters out of His Majesty’s Army. Philip finds himself caught up in the mysteries around a woman named Desdemona Merlo. Will he compromise his loyalties yet again?
To finish out Act II, in Loving Echo Samantha Walters decides she is tired of waiting for her majority before marrying Justin Miller. Unfortunately, Justin doesn’t agree with her plan. She proves that Jack isn’t the only impulsive Walters sister, disappearing for months and returning with an unexpected prize.
Hope you are safe and well during this time of #socialdistancing. Work has actually been crazy busy for me, but this weekend I had a little time on my hands. Along with writing a bunch of words (yay!) I also created an Upcoming page for my website to highlight some of the other books I will get to after (and maybe a little during) finishing up the Haberdashers series. For all of my friends who have been WAITING for some SFF, scroll down on that page and you will see some are planned. Some of my favorite covers are posted to the end of this blog post, too.
We also set up an website to sell Graythorn Publishing books directly to fans! If the site continues to do well it might be the only source for Graythorn pre-sales. It’s not just Sue London books but also the Werechaun Chronicles from Andy Click and the upcoming horror novel Wendigogo (Reluctant Wendigo Book 1) from K.A. Silva.
Two Haberdashers novels should be released in 2020. Justice for Sisyphus by June and Loving Echo (finally! Sam & Justin!) by December. If you’re a Haberdashers fan thank you for hanging in there for this journey. We are most of the way to revealing the Bear and then we will see what becomes of the Swan.
And in case you haven’t visited the website lately I have three novellas coming up in collections this summer/fall. It is a Haberdashers-adjacent series about George’s cousins, the Flowers sisters. So keep an eye out for The Wallflower Way, Tempted by the Windflower, and the Wildflower’s Rogue.
Now here are some of the covers for stuff we should see in the next year or so!
It feels right on Friday to be a little naughty, so I invited my Twitter buddy M over to share her book Too Cool for School. She and I tend to bond over strong heroines, spooky stuff (we both have a lot of tarot cards), and silly little Twitter games. M also does book covers at Bookwyrm Covers.
This book is for all the reckless, adventurous women in the world.
Detective Angie Dubois’ latest assignment is to bring down a drug ring in a local high school. It would be a simple job, but some of the students are hiding deadly secrets connected to one of Angie’s past cases, and one of the history teachers is… well, the hottest man she’s ever seen.
Mark Green is a good teacher, so he fights his attraction to his rebellious new student. But something is not quite right with Angela Thompson, and as Mark tries to unravel the mystery of his beautiful, flirtatious, unpredictable pupil, he finds himself drawn into a dangerous case that threatens both his job and his life.
Some happily-ever-afters don’t come easily, and with enemies like Angie’s, Mark and Angie will have to fight for their happily ever after, if they get one at all.
About the Author
Over-active imagination + access to a laptop = author.
I write historical, contemporary, paranormal, and fantasy romance novels with a feminist twist.
Why “feminist romance?” Forget damsels in distress and knights in shining armor (ok, there might be a few knights but their armor probably isn’t shiny). I write about strong, capable women and the men who love them. Both my male and female characters kick ass. 😉
I believe romance should empower us to be our best selves. Join me and my heroines in making strong the new sexy!
Cora and I are twitter buddies and one of our big connections is being history research NERDS. Well, and general nerds, as you will see in her blog post below. I was very excited that Cora has a NEW novella out just in time to be featured during my Celebrating Pheme week where I’m posting about a bunch of other authors who have books out. Check out the book description and some insider info below. And enjoy the novella!! Happy reading!
Maddie Hayward has been actively looking for a husband for nearly three years, but no gentleman will spare her more than a smile. Everyone thinks she’s destined to wed Kit Mathison…except neither of them is interested in a romance with the other. When Kit and his family come to visit the Haywards for Christmas, the whole village expects a proposal–but Maddie has other plans. Can she convince everyone that her friendship with Kit will never be a courtship? Or will she have to choose between her closest friend and the chance at family of her own?
Thomas Mathison has loved Maddie since the day they were first introduced, but can’t ask for her hand until he can afford to support a family. When she suggests a sham courtship between them he agrees, despite his misgivings. Being seen with someone other than Kit would shatter the illusion of an arrangement between them and give Maddie a chance at a happy life. But while she would be feigning affection, Thomas would not. Can he conceal his true feelings from her while executing her plan? Will he have the strength to let her go when he returns home?
Mistletoe Easter Eggs & Research
I’m a bit of a superhero movie nerd, and one of the things I love best about those films is the Easter eggs and subtle nods the filmmakers hide in their work. Since I tend to do the same thing, I thought I’d share a few from Kissing by the Mistletoe and talk a little bit about the research I did while writing it to celebrate its re-release.
The first things a reader would likely notice are the characters names. I have a tendency to name my characters after favorites from fandoms, research, or anything else that strikes my fancy and I did it here, too. In Kissing by the Mistletoe, we have brothers Thomas and Kit (short for Christopher) who were named for Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth—and you might catch a tiny Thor/Loki vibe when you read the scenes they appear in together. Their surname, Mathison, comes from Alan Turing, whose middle name was Mathison. The heroine, Maddie, was named for the goalie of the 2018 Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, mostly because I’m a hockey fan and Maddie Rooney was putting on a clinic while I was writing the outline for this book 😉
Further into the book, there’s a scene where the main characters and their families attend an assembly in the village closest to where they live. It’s held at a place called the Flying Horse Inn, which is modeled on an actual place called the New Flying Horse Inn near Ashford in Kent. It’s been remodeled and updated, but it was in operation during the 17th century with both a posting house and a coach house (which are now rooms for overnight guests).
There’s also a scene where Thomas, our hero, is lounging by the fire reading a book called The Philosophy of Nature, or, the Influence of Scenery on the Mind and Heart. This is, in fact, a real book written by a gentleman named Charles Bucke and published in 1813, the same year the story is set. A few pages into the first chapter is the line, “Love is composed of all that is delicate in pleasure:—it is the union of desire, tenderness, and friendship…” which I think sums up Thomas and Maddie’s relationship rather well. And no, that’s not a typo—there really is a colon and a hyphen right next to each other in the quote!
I’ll close with the item that was probably the most fun for me in writing this book: the title. Kissin’ by the Mistletoe is an Aretha Franklin song released in 1963 that had the exact right feel for Maddie and Thomas’s story. I listened to it dozens of times while I wrote—unusual for me, as I almost always write in a quiet space—and danced to it when I got stuck on a scene. Somehow I’d never heard it before I went looking for musical inspiration, but it’s become one of my favorite holiday songs 🙂
Cora Lee is a National Bestselling author of Regency romance. She went on a twelve year expedition through the blackboard jungle as a high school math teacher before publishing Save the Last Dance for Me, the first book in the Maitland Maidens series. She then followed it up with five other novels and novellas ranging from sweet and traditional to spicy and suspenseful.
When she’s not walking Rotten Row at the fashionable hour or attending the entertainments of the Season, you might find her participating in Romance Writers of America events, wading through her towering TBR pile, or eagerly awaiting the next Marvel movie release. If you’d like to find out more about Cora or her books you can sign up for her newsletter, or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Bookbub, or Goodreads.
Matthew and I met recently on Twitter and bonded over a love of bats (they are adorable, after all). Then it turned out he has a WHOLE TRILOGY full of ghost and vampires and other creepy critters. Since it’s almost Halloween I thought this would be a great time to share the series!
A series about love, magic, monsters and the cost of getting what you always wanted.
Thea Mendel is living in her car because there’s a ghost in her house. At a Halloween party, she meets someone who believes her, a boy with green eyes and ghosts of his own named Thomas. Someone wants to do worse to Thea than kill her, and in order to find out who they are and what they want the two of them will have to deal with a clan of unusually helpful vampires, unexpected Shoggoths, and all the weird that Rhode Island can throw at them. And that’s a lot of weird.
Thea Mendel and her fiancee Thomas Willrew fought off a god and stopped a nightmare, and made a family for themselves in the process. But now there are minotaurs destroying farms and wererats attacking that family, vampires wanting favors and they have to figure out what any of it has to do with evil exes encroaching on their lives. They thought they’d gotten their happily ever after, but it turns out that you have to fight to keep your happy ending.
It starts in a deserted part of Rhode Island, with a woman fearing for her life. It ends with the looming threat of the end of the world. In-between Thea Mendel, her husband Tom Willrew, and their extended family will need to deal with ghosts, giant monsters, ancient Celtic myths, wisdom fallen from heaven and a threat that has no identity, no name, and no face – a void from beyond the stars that sleeps like a black sun in the heart of our world. Thea and Thomas have found each other and a family built on shared love and respect, but the past can have a habit of refusing to stay dead, and faceless horrors can rise up when you least expect it. How do you stop people from destroying everything to spite themselves? How would you even know if you were the one who needed to be stopped?
It’s not every day that I get to name a new baby romance author, but that’s exactly how Ellen Mint came into being. Ellen is the pen name for my SFF author buddy Sabrina and I love, love, love her romance books. This one, PSL, is probably destined to be my favorite!
PSL – An Erotic Autumn Fairytale
One hot lumberjack, a rustic cabin in the woods, whipped cream and lattes, princes, magic, and fairy wings. This is not the vacation I wanted, but it might be the one I need.
After a broken heart, I had to get away from the city. Escaping to a cabin in the woods deep into autumn sounded perfect. Peace. Solitude. Just me, my books, and my coffee fix. Next thing I know a gorgeous man chainsawing downed trees is sweeping me off my feet.
Literally, as it turns out he’s a fairy. Not just any fairy either. No, he’s a freaking Prince in exile.
Now I’m trapped in the kingdom of the autumn fairies while assassins lurk in every shadow. Every day Scott, who rose to fill in for the ill King, slips further from me. Time is ticking and soon I’ll have to return home. The question is will the once-disgraced Prince, sweet as caramel and sinful as cinnamon, come with me.
There are few regrets I wear harder in my heart than what led me to abandon my throne, my people, my kingdom. When I was banished to the human realm, I thought to live out my days protecting the forests. That changed the day this breathtaking human in leggings approached me.
In her, I found that which I thought was lost forever, home. It doesn’t hurt that she’s got a body worthy of worship either.
I never anticipated a return to my kingdom, much less dragging a human with me. Now, I have an opportunity to regain everything I lost. But, after all this time I find myself wondering if being king of the autumn fairies is what I truly want or if my heart aches for another.
This novella is a celebration of all things autumn. Grab a blanket, pour yourself a warm drink, and snuggle by the fire to fall in love.
To celebrate releasing a new book I thought it would be fun to celebrate OTHER authors and their new releases. Today we have a guest post from McKenna Dean! Her new book Bishop Takes Knight is an AMAZING paranormal romance. You can grab it at Goodreads &Amazon .
Why Heroes Need Flaws
My husband and I frequently discuss our favorite superheroes and the pros and cons of the Marvel vs the DC Comics universes. We have a lot of material right now—both Marvel and DC Comics have brought out a multitude of shows and movies. I admit to leaning a bit more on the side of Marvel vs DC Comics, but then I am a huge fan of Captain America and Agent Carter. We’ve watched The Flash, Supergirl, and Arrow, as well as Agents of Shield and all the Avengers movies. The Batman franchise leaves me cold (though I have watched the movies in the past) and I had some real issues with the Man of Steel movie, but I adored the Wonder Woman movie. I’ve watched it several times and bought a copy as soon as it became available on DVD.
I’ll be honest, though I wanted to love the Aquaman movie—I’m a Stargate fan and have enjoyed Jason Momoa as Ronon Dex—it fell a bit short of the mark for me. All the things I love about superhero movies: the origin story, the character arc where he/she comes into their own, the defeat of the bad guy, the action laced with humor—all these elements were there in Aquaman, and yet the dialog was a little flat, the humor didn’t quite zing, the battle scenes were a bit too obviously CGI. So while I give DC high marks for Wonder Woman, overall, I’m a Marvel Girl.
Though we’ve watched Supergirl, my husband has a real problem with the invulnerability of both Supergirl and Superman. From what I’ve seen in various movies and shows, the kids from Krypton are bulletproof (and impervious to pain and illness), can fly (and leave the atmosphere without their lungs exploding), and in general seem pretty undefeatable. Which, as far as my husband is concerned, makes them less interesting as characters, Krypton notwithstanding.
I see his point.
When they released the trailer for the movie Batman vs Superman, my initial reaction was, really? Is there any question of the outcome? And while I’m here, what is it with movie trailers giving away 90% of the film? I feel as though I’ve seen the whole thing already, just from the trailer alone… but I digress. Right. Regardless of how much of a Bruce Wayne fan we might be, the fact is, Superman as portrayed on film and in the comics is nigh-on invincible. Unless Bruce has a shaft of Kryptonite in his pocket (and is not just happy to see Superman), then it is unlikely he’s going to win this one.
Which brings me to the point of this post: your hero has to have vulnerability for the reader to identify with him or her.
I read a story recently in which the heroine was utterly fearless, competent, and seemingly without self-doubt. I hated her. There are some people who’d suggest my dislike of this character reflected some sort of internal misogyny because I’m incapable of liking a strong female character. That’s not the case at all. There’s nothing better than a strong female character. Most of my favorite books feature enviable female leads. I disliked this character because she was too perfect. Even in her tiniest moments of self-doubt, she didn’t feel real to me. In the end, I didn’t care what happened to her, either. Blame it on the lack of tension, or the lack of connection with the character, but I just didn’t care. She had too much: too many resources, too much money, too many connections, too much respect. In fact, there was no reason to suspect she wouldn’t solve the case from the get-go, and I yawned my way through the story. When the killer was revealed, I didn’t believe that either, I’m afraid. So my advice to you is this: remember your reader wants to identify with your characters. The joy of reading for many people lies in self-insertion into the story, and this is difficult when the main character bears little resemblance to a human being. Be cautious of loving your character so much you elevate them to godhood. Give them relatable characteristics. Make us doubt just a little if they can get themselves out of the situation they are in. Show the soft underbelly. Make them vulnerable. Maybe they aren’t cool under pressure, or maybe they get a little too carried away when they’re in charge. Give them a boss that doesn’t like them, or something to prove. Make the stakes high for them. Make sure they grow during the course of your story. Don’t set them on a pedestal at the beginning. Show us the progression towards heroism. Your readers will love you for it.
Bishop Takes Knight
New York, 1955. Former socialite Henrietta (“Rhett”) Bishop, destitute after her father gambles away the family fortune, takes a job at Redclaw Security. But Redclaw is no ordinary operation. Part detective firm and part enforcement agency, Redclaw regulates matters involving the growing population of shifters who have emerged since the onset of the nuclear age.
Peter Knight is a nuclear scientist shattered by the death of his wife. Blacklisted by the government and scientific organizations, he drowns his sorrows while searching for the people behind his wife’s murder.
When Rhett is assigned to recruit Knight, their meeting is more than either bargained for—a rival organization will do anything to secure Knight for themselves. Following a lead to locate a missing cache of alien technology stolen from Redclaw, Rhett is thrown back into her previous glittering life with Knight as her pretend boyfriend. But when someone from the past turns up to start a bidding war on the artifacts, Bishop and Knight wind up in a fight for their very lives.
About the Author
McKenna Dean has been an actress, a vet tech, a singer, a teacher, a biologist, and a dog trainer. She’s worked in a genetics lab, at the stockyard, behind the scenes as a props manager, and at a pizza parlor slinging dough. Finally she realized all these jobs were just a preparation for what she really wanted to be: a writer.
She lives on a small farm in North Carolina with her family, as well as the assorted dogs, cats, and various livestock.
She likes putting her characters in hot water to see how strong they are. Like tea bags, only sexier.
As our hero Gabe Berrington would complain, Christmas comes way too early. BUT, in case you like to start your holiday reading as soon as the weather chills then check out my new story BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS!