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contents July/August 2016

features 34 Rebecca Heflin 42 Sara Walter Ellwood 57 K.D. Wood Premiere Promo 59 Charity Parkerson



Kenny & Sammy Bates of Rotting Corpse Productions by Danita Minnis

27 Interview with Tammy King

founder of Night Owl Reviews by Lizzie T. Leaf


on the website

Blogging 101 with Heather Powers Karen’s Writing Detours with Karen Albright Lin

Issue 34 | July/August 2016 |


From the Desk of

Babs Hightower BTS CEO

July’s issue will be the last for BTS. We will be closing the doors. It has been nice getting to know more authors and helping as much as we could. Times are changing and so are authors and publishers. Everyone here wishes each and every one of you great success and joy in all you do. You will notice in the issue that we all are doing special things to continue to help so be sure to reach out to us. Myra has her own website for Horror, Babs and Amber have their own website for Cozy Mystery authors and readers, Cyrene has her own site going on for reviews with a companion magazine and help for authors. Thank you all for your support! Babs Hightower Babs and Amber: Sleuth Cafe

Myra - Romance & Horror

Cyrene - Uncaged Book Reviews

8 |


| Industry Insider |

2016 Conventions

READERS AND WRITERS UNITE Houston, TX August 5-7, 2016 KALLYPSO CON Casper, WY August 26-28, 2016 ROMCON Denver, CO September 30-October 1, 2016


Issue 34 | July/August 2016 |


COVER AUTHOR Showcase | Danielle Devon |

Issue 34 | July/August 2016 |



Angela Roquet is a great big weirdo. She collects Danger Girl comic books, owls, skulls, random craft supplies, and all things Joss Whedon. Angela lives in Missouri with her husband and son. She’s a member of SFWA, HWA, and the Four Horsemen of the Bookocalypse, her critique group, where she’s known as Death.

BTS: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I began my love affair with books at a very young age, and I still have the weathered copy of The Cookie Monster and the Cookie Tree with the duct taped spine to prove it. My collection has grown considerably since then, and if not for ebooks, I might very well have died in a book avalanche by now. BTS: How would you describe your books to readers? If all the religions and mythologies of the world existed together in a modern melting pot society 14 |

beyond the grave, that would be Limbo City, where my protagonist, reaper Lana Harvey, resides. Lana’s grim endeavours are full of action and comedy, with a sprinkle of romance. BTS: What are you currently working on? Right now I’m working on Death at First Sight, book 2 of Spero Heights, my paranormal romance series about a town for monsters who have lost their bump in the night. BTS: Of the books you’ve written, which one is your favorite and why? I tend to like each new book I write better than the last, since I can see how I’ve grown and improved as a writer. But nostalgia dictates that I choose Graveyard Shift. It’s where my journey as an author began, and I’m still quite proud of it. BTS: What books have most influenced you as a writer? I’ve read so many great urban fantasy series. Some of my favorites include Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, Kim Harrison’s Hollows series, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead series, Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series, Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series—this list goes on forever. My shelves overflow with awesome. BTS: What do you find to be the most


challenging part of writing? And the most rewarding? Challenging: Killing off a beloved character. Rewarding: When readers email me to tell me how my novels have helped them through a difficult time in their life. It’s overwhelming—in a good way—and I feel like, I just write these silly fictional books, how can they have such a profound impact on someone’s life? But then I remember the difficult times that some of my favorite novels helped me through, and I get it. BTS: What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future? I have the next 7 years of my writing career outlined. I’m legitimately OCD in that way. The Lana Harvey series will be ending this fall with book 7, Hellfire and Brimstone, and then I’ll be focusing more on my Spero Heights series. I have a dozen more books planned after that. BTS: Is there anything you’d like to share with your readers? I love connecting with readers! And I enjoy hosting Facebook parties with lots of silliness and giveaways. Come find me online for digital adventures!

Enjoy an excerpt from:

The Inferno has Evolved… Lana Harvey is a reaper, and a lousy one at that. She resides in Limbo City, the modern capital of the collective afterlives, where she likes to stick it to the man (the legendary Grim Reaper himself) by harvesting the bare minimum of souls required of her. She’d much rather be hanging out with Gabriel, her favorite archangel, at Purgatory Lounge. But when a shocking promotion falls in her lap, Lana learns something that could unravel the very fabric of Eternity. If the job isn’t completed, there could be some real hell to pay.


Issue 34 | July/August 2016 |


| COVER AUTHOR | “All right.” Lial smiled and turned to walk away from the crowd of mourners. “Enough of this. I’m ready to burn in Hell.” The dead are strange. They always assume they can just walk into their afterlife. I reached for his shoulder and pulled him back. “Hold still.” If you had my job, you’d be grim too. I pushed my hand into the pocket of my robe and found my coin. Rolling it three times, I said the word, and we left the graveyard behind. The coordinates I had used pushed us out into the middle of the market area, shadowed by the towering architecture of downtown Limbo. Buildings crammed together down Morte Avenue, a collage of metal and stone. The old world charm of cathedrals and temples mixed with New York styled skyscrapers, imitating the human realm. Rusty streaks of light shot out from behind the city, strangling the illusion of a sunset. Limbo has no sun, but the fake light is welcomed by most citizens. Even the dead prefer to see what they’re doing. I sighed, wishing I had picked a different location. The market was an unthinkable place to be on a Sunday. Crowds of souls picked through an assortment of goods shipped in from the afterlives. The innocent items like phoenix feathers and vases autographed by Greek gods were arranged out in the open, but if you looked close enough, you could find someone selling vials of holy water or hellfire under the table. Both substances required a license to carry in Limbo City, but most vendors didn’t care, if you paid the right price. Crones hobbled by, gaudy amulets swinging from their necks as they waved their salt-crusted fingers to lure customers closer. A patron bumped a table of herbs, and a horde of pixies scurried to gather them before they hit the ground. A trio of saints lectured outside a white tent, stressing the importance of keeping faith in the afterlife to a crowd of fresh souls. The harbor would be busy too. It’s always busy on the weekends. That’s when the Sea of Eternity is the calmest. It used to be only Sundays, but less than a century ago, during the Colorado Labor 16 |

Wars, two souls who had died in the Ludlow Massacre ended up working in the Three Fates Factory. They convinced the employees to go on strike until they were given Saturdays off as well. The strike hadn’t lasted long. The factory is responsible for pulling souls out of the sea and reinstalling them into the human realm. After a few days, the Sea of Eternity had swelled up around Limbo City and threatened to swallow it. The Fates quickly agreed to give Saturdays off, and the factory began running again. The Sea of Eternity used to be a river, but that all changed when humans began dabbling in science. More atheists and agnostics die every day. It’s their souls that fill the sea, making my job even grimmer. It used to be easy getting a lot of souls to their afterlives. It used to take minutes, but minutes stretched into hours, and soon I fear it will become days. I don’t get paid enough to waste that kind of time. Like I said, you’d be grim too. Taking Lial by the shoulder, I directed him through the crowd and down the main dock to my ship. He was my last soul for the day and I was ready to set sail. I had twelve souls to take to Heaven, eight to Nirvana, and four to Summerland. Not too bad for a Sunday. Unlike the Three Fates employees, reapers don’t get weekends off. But if we save enough coin, we can buy ourselves a vacation. “What are you doing, Lana?” Josie, my sailing partner, stood on the deck of my ship with her arms folded. Tuffs of black hair framed her oval face. The haircut was almost too short to be considered feminine, but she pulled it off with her delicate chin and ample pout. The fierce sweep of lashes around her eyes didn’t hurt either. She tapped her toe on the deck of my—well, our ship. We had gone in and traded our two smaller boats for something a little nicer and a little faster. A demon sold it to us, claiming Grace O’Malley had given it to him in exchange for some deed involving the possession of a queen. How fitting that two lady reapers should purchase it. It had been a little too expensive for me to buy on my own. Besides, it was nice to have some company other than a herd of disoriented souls. “Sorry, I know I’m late. We stayed for the funeral.”

| ANGELA ROQUET | I hated being lectured. Josie was a better reaper than me, and I didn’t have a problem with that. What I did have a problem with, was her rubbing it in my face. “No, what are you doing bringing that soul on our boat? I saw his file. He’s a suicide and a non-believer. Where do you think we’re taking him?” She tilted her head to one side and raised an eyebrow. “By all rights, yes, he belongs in the sea. His soul is not nearly dark enough for Hell to pay us anything worth our time.” “But?” she snapped. We hadn’t been working on the same boat for very long, but her criticism was getting old. She always had to do everything by the book, like something bad might happen if she bent the rules. I didn’t bend them all the time, and I never outright broke them.... much. “I like Lial here, and I have a coin I’ve been saving for a rainy day. Nirvana should take it. He’s had a difficult life, and I think he deserves a little enjoyment before being sucked up by the Fates and spit back into that pitiful reality again.” I yanked back the hood of my robe so she could get the full effect of the face I made at her as I pushed Lial on deck. “Nirvana? You mean that Asian religion was right?” Lial’s fear mutated into curiosity. “They’re all right. We just sort you humans by how well you measure up to your individual beliefs.” You can’t imagine how many times I’ve had this conversation. “Then why are you taking me to Nirvana? Not that I mind,” he quickly added. “Because I think you deserve a vacation, and Nirvana’s laws are easier to get around than Heaven’s.” I patted his arm and opened the door to the sailor’s quarters. My first twenty-three souls chattered among twenty new faces, Josie’s catch. My stomach knotted. She had twenty-four souls on her docket that morning, same as me, all preordered by their afterlives. This meant four were in the hold. We never put souls in the hold unless we’re taking them to Hell. Most Hell-bounds try to escape. Can you blame them?

I scowled, wishing I had reviewed Josie’s list as well as she had reviewed mine. I hated making deliveries to Hell. Lucifer never gave me any trouble, but he had been on vacation lately. Gate duty had been turned over to Maalik, one of the Islamic angels. Maalik had originally been appointed to watch over the Islamic hell, Jahannam, but with Eternity’s growing demands, the rulers of Jahannam and Hell decided to adjoin their territories and utilize a single gateway. Maalik made me nervous. He was too flirty and too pretty to be guarding the gates of Hell. I didn’t trust him, and I didn’t like that he was racking up so much coin with his ambitious work ethic. If he showed up in Limbo, I planned on hightailing it to Summerland until he left. I needed a vacation anyway. Lial looked around the room. He was my most enjoyable catch of the day. I didn’t regret staying for his funeral. Josie would get over it. “I’ll come find you when we get to Nirvana,” I said. “Meanwhile, talk to James over there. He’s a Buddhist. He can fill you in on how to get through the gates.” “Hey, uh, thanks,” Lial whispered. “I don’t know why you’re doing this, but I appreciate it.” “Sure.” Granting little favors almost made my job worth it. I closed the door behind me and found Josie waiting. “Do you even know how many rules you’re breaking doing this?” she grumbled. I folded my arms. “It’s not a big deal. Like the Fates will even miss him.” “You’re jeopardizing both of our jobs, not to mention gambling with a ship that I paid for, too.” “Lighten up. I’m going to change before we take off. Where’s Gabriel? Didn’t he need a ride?” I wanted to change the subject before she listed off every rule I had broken since we started working together. “He’s late, as usual. Cocky jerk thinks the world revolves around him. He’s probably still at Purgatory Lounge.” “I thought he quit drinking. He better sober up Issue 34 | July/August 2016 |


| COVER AUTHOR | before we get to Heaven, or you know we’ll get blamed for it.” “I know.” Josie frowned. “You’re redirecting souls without authorization, and now we’re transporting a drunk of an archangel to make coin on the side. We might as well be demons.” “I’ll go fetch him.” I felt like a drink myself after Josie’s little fit.

Enjoy these other titles:

18 |

Movies | Television | Books | Adaptations



Featured Videos,

REVIEWS and more

BTS showcases writers and other professionals who bring characters to life through movies & TV.

Issue 34 | July/August 2016 | 21

| Interviewed by Danita Minnis |



Sammy Bates

Rotting Corpse Productions

BTS: Rotting Corpse Productions has produced short films, commercials and music videos, ranging from comedy to grisly horror. What is the biggest production challenge you face when making the mental shift between the two genres? As fans of multiple film genres growing up, we typically just try to make the kinds of films we would want to see. Ultimately, it comes pretty naturally to switch between genres for us. BTS: Psychological tension is just one tactic that pulls an audience in. What other goodies do you love to pull out of your tool kit as the plot thickens? Depending on how serious the film is we may use comic relief to lighten the mood but if the film is very dark then we will continue to use suspense to keep the audience hooked. BTS:What’s next in your comedy web series The Expansion Pack?

Rotting Corpse Productions is a film production company specializing in horror films. It is based out of central Kentucky and was co-founded in 2010 by company owners Sammy and Kenny Bates. Since then, they have produced several short films, commercials and music videos. Currently they are in production on their comedy web series entitled “The Expansion Pack”. They have many great projects in the works and a bright future ahead of them.

22 |

We are continuing to submit it to festivals across the globe in hopes of getting the show picked up by a major network in the future. If you want to check out the Pilot Episode of The Expansion Pack, you can find it on our YouTube channel or the Independent Movie Channel on Roku.

| BTS Goes Hollywood |

BTS: Tell us about your latest production, the anthology horror film Gallery of the Damned. We are currently in the very early stages of preproduction on this project. We are extremely excited about this anthology. It will involve three stories by three different directors. We will be directing one of the stories along with the overlay. We can’t yet say who the other directors are at this point. Our story will be entitled “A Prized Possession”. Each story will be based on a cursed artifact of some sort. If you want to keep up with this project please follow our Gallery of the Damned page on Facebook and donate to our fundraiser once we launch it hopefully in the next few months.

Kenny and Sammy Bates’ film company, Rotting Corpse Productions was founded in 2010. Based in central Kentucky, the production company specializes in horror films. Currently, Kenny and Sammy are in production on their comedy web series, The Expansion Pack. Facebook

ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER Born and raised in the heart of New York City, Danita is a singer, writer and lover of romance. She is the author of the ghostly love story Adderley’s Bride and the Cardiff novels, Falcon’s Angel and Love Entwined. Website

Issue 34 | July/August 2016 |


Contemporary | Romance | Mainstream | Literary Fiction



Issue 34 | July/August 2016 |


Interview with Tammy King

Founder of Night Owl Reviews

by Lizzie T. Leaf

Issue 34 | July/August 2016 |


| LIZZIE T LEAF | Interview with Tammie King, the founder of Night Owl Reviews. Tammie’s magazine is the first eMagazine I read when my first publisher gave me the link and encouraged me to check it out. As it turned out, a few years later, I answered Tammie’s call for a columnist and for some reason she picked me. Currently I write Behind the Scenes for Night Owl Reviews magazine where I interview people who support authors from agent representation to editing and more. Tammie did me the honor of agreeing to be interviewed for my first BTSeMagazine interview. So, let’s learn what Tammie has to share with us. What did you do prior to Night Owl Reviews? I had just finished college and got my degree in political science. I ended up working in scheduling at a hospital to start paying the loans and so I could be close to my fiancé at the time, now my husband. How and when did Night Owl Reviews start? Did you originally include the magazine or did it come later? Well around twelve years ago I was working in a basement and I wasn’t very happy in my job. I love the sun! At the same time I started learning web design and I needed a theme to make a site. At that time I created two sites, and A while after that I branched off into working 28 |

exclusively on Night Owl as it was so much fun to promote authors and connect with readers. I didn’t create the magazine at first. How fast did Night Owl Reviews grow? When did you notice a substantial growth in readers and ad sales? Night Owl Reviews grew pretty rapidly, and we are always growing in different ways. At first it was just me telling readers about awesome books and authors I had discovered. Then I started having others join me for reviews. Quickly we found we had to update our system as we were getting more traffic than the hosting provider of the time could handle. We had to also upgrade our database to a more robust system. What do you feel is the secret of your success? Well I don’t think there is just one thing. Three of the things I think have played key roles are: Actively connecting with readers, publishers and authors. Our readers and reviewers really make the site what it is. Working diligently almost every day for the first few years. Now I take 3 days off a week to relax, read and enjoy life away from NOR. Great software and automation. What changes have you seen happen in publishing since your first entered the arena? I’ve seen a huge change in the form of eBook publishing and independent publishing. It was taboo to independently publish a book twelve years ago. I had some authors tell me self-publishing was bad and that they didn’t touch that stuff. Now they are self-publishing books and seeing the benefits. Even the RWA (Romance Writers of America) had a switcheroo on their self-publishing stance. At the time many small press pubs were starting to

| INTERVIEW WITH NANCY KING | do eBooks. At the time many of our reviewers had never read an eBook and I feel proud to have introduced them to that format. As someone in the technology industry that loves to travel, I saw a huge opportunity when it came to eBooks. An eBook Reader is a treasure trove to any traveler. I now just use my phone as my eBook Reader. So a combination of changing technology has really driven our industry. Many writers have found a belief in themselves that they can succeed and publish a book, with the help of others, even if they have to self-publish. That is an awesome thing. These authors have become business women and men where they make the big and hard decisions on how to publisher their book, market their book and connect with their audience. Being a self-published author pushes them to be a small business and think of writing like a business. Entrepreneurialism is awesome. Authors have always been entrepreneurs, but self-publishing just pushes the envelope on what they have to do. If there is one thing you could change about your earlier days in the publishing world, what would that be? When I started the site it was more as a fun way to learn to make websites. I wasn’t focused on growth or promotion. So I would have to say I would have started a newsletter earlier and marketed better in the beginning. “Authors – Get a newsletter started from the get go!” A newsletter is key to connecting with people one on one. Social media is okay for putting something out and hoping a few people see it. But if you can connect with thousands via email that is even better.

You’ve probably seen a lot of authors succeed and others not. Do you have suggestions for authors on what to do to further their careers? Over the years I’ve seen a lot of authors move on from publishing and others rise up and make their mark. Here are a few items I think are key to success and working with others in the industry. Get your newsletter and website set-up before your book is published. It should be up when reviewers get your advanced copy. We often times use that info to set-up your author profile before your book comes out. Constant Contact has a free newsletter option. They start charging you when your list grows. Start growing your newsletter before the book releases by doing giveaways. That way when your book comes out you have a list to email for your debut. Work with other authors. You can build a following together. Focus on getting a good collection of books out. Readers like to jump from book to book by the same author. Feed their craving for more. Build that backlist. Work with technology and not against it. When Amazon offers a free follow me button, promote it. Sign up for the service. Amazon is helping you get readers and build your following by emailing them for you. Take advantage of the services that are being offered to boost your sales. Connect with the owners of book blogs and websites. They can be your champion and promote you or not know you and not promote you. So connect with them and make yourself memorable. I find authors every day that have never connected with us. We can help promote your book. But if we don’t know of you we can’t help you. Have a strong website where it’s easy to find your books and series title numbers. Readers really just want to read, make it easy. :o) Hook readers early with something memorable. Issue 34 | July/August 2016 |


| LIZZIE T LEAF | Something that will have their buy now finger clicking on Pre-Order. This equals a great story and voice with a way to connect with you at the back of your book. The big publishing houses at times seem to have a case of PMS in the way their mood changes about what’s “hot” and what’s “not” in various genres. Do you have a bit of insight, or a gut feeling as to what may become the next big genre? Well I don’t really know what will be the next big genre. Personally I’m hoping for more science fiction and new spins on paranormal romance. I came into reading romance from science fiction. I remember back when Dorchester was doing science fiction romance and I just loved that genre. I’m a huge fan of Dara Joy and Susan Grant on the fantasy / science fiction side of romance. I wonder who will be my next big find. Do you accept eBooks and print books for review? If an author would like their book reviewed by Night Owl Reviews what is the procedure they need to follow? On the site we accept eBooks, .Mobi and .PDF. We accept prints from some publishers. We keep the prints down to a minimum because of shelf space and shipping costs. It’s much more affordable to review eBook copies for both us and the authors. We don’t guarantee a review as we get in more requests than the reviewers have time. Plus the reviewers choose what they want to review. So really it’s up to the author to produce something our reviewers and the public wants to review and buy. Authors and publishers who want to submit a review request can do that at: 30 |

What changes do you envision for Night Owl Reviews at either the review site, or the magazine? Well it could take some time before we have any major changes. Our tech guy works on the site when he has the time. I’m hoping at some point to have a “wish list” system in place. Ten years in the future I hope more people have virtual reality systems and we can take the site into VR. VR chat rooms and bookstores where we interact with each other would be very cool. It would take the bookstore into a whole new community feel again, but the community would be the world. I love virtual reality and encourage those of all ages to give it a try. It’s not just for games. Virtual Reality is very much like that web in that it’s for all and will have apps helpful for everyone. Just this week I traveled to Japan in a full 3D 360 environment all by using my Galaxy S7 phone and a VR headset. It was awe inspiring…and not a game. It was just me visiting the world and taking in sights I had never been to. But instead of the place being flat like a picture it was like I was staging in the scene. Please share a list of your websites for readers. We have several genre pages where readers can connect directly with those books they most enjoy. Romance: Teen / YA: Paranormal: https://paranormal.nightowlreviews. com Suspense: Science Fiction:

| INTERVIEW WITH NANCY KING | Erotica / Erotic Romance: Our main site homepage is: Reviews: Thank you for taking time from your schedule to answer our questions, Tammie. Loved reading your answers.

Lizzie T. Leaf is an award winning author in various genres including paranormal and historical romance. She is currently revising some of her previous books that are not currently available as well as developing new story ideas.

Issue 34 | July/August 2016 |


feature 3-book showcase

Best-selling romance writer Darcy Butler is holding out for perfection in the form of her own carefullycrafted heroes. Once blissfully engaged to be married, Darcy’s post-traumatic commitment phobia is depriving her of the very thing she wants most: her very own happily-ever-after. Now, here she is just six months shy of her thirtieth birthday, and not a Prince Charming in sight.

Okay—first—baseball boring? Her excitement fell in proportion to the rise in her blood pressure. Second, boxing? Hockey? Where guys beat the crap out of each other? Did she want to date a man with a proclivity for violence?

Advertising Diva Laura Armstrong is after Imperial Cruise Lines, the biggest account of her career and the one that will lead to the next step in her Life Plan of becoming one of the most powerful women in advertising. That winning the account will also prove her father wrong is a bonus.

Successful lawyer Josh Ryan is the boy-next-door with a soft spot for the less fortunate, and Darcy’s best friend without benefits. Darcy often comes to him lamenting her love-life, or the lack thereof, whereupon Josh patiently doles out his sage advice. Problem is Josh is in love with Darcy.

Excerpt from

Dreams of Perfection

Darcy Butler sat across the table from her blind date in a trendy new SoHo restaurant contemplating the fact that he was no Blake Garrett. Blake was . . . perfect. But why wouldn’t he be? After all, she’d created him. Listening with half an ear, she nodded at something he said. Her date was handsome, polite, successful, charming even. He had good taste in food, wine, and from the looks of his expensive suit, clothes as well. But the comparisons continued, and she found him lacking at every turn. Robert, or Russell, or something that started with an ‘R’ asked her a question. She could hear her mother’s well-deserved admonishment. He’s buying you dinner. The least you can do is remember his name. Focus, Darcy. “What do you like to do with your free time?” He gazed into her eyes, clearly trying to make a connection. “I love going to Yankees’ games,” she said, excited that the season started that week. “Baseball? Really?” “Yeah, do you like baseball?” Her excitement rose at the prospect of finding a fellow baseball lover. Provided, of course, his loyalties didn’t run in the wrong direction. “No. I find baseball boring. Too much standing around. I prefer boxing or hockey, something with a little action.”

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Sexy Southern Gentleman Nathan Maxwell is after that very same account, but for completely different reasons. Landing the account means a sizeable bonus just in time to save his family’s farm, and the only stable home his sister’s ever known, from foreclosure.

Excerpt from

Ship of Dreams

Laura Armstrong strode toward the building housing the New York offices of Imperial Cruise Lines. Her stiletto heels clicked a staccato on the sidewalk as she tested the limits of her snug pencil skirt. Tapping out a message on her smart phone, her mind five steps ahead, she nearly took a header when the heel of her shoe plunged into a sidewalk seam. The text message all but forgotten, she twisted and turned, unable to dislodge the stubborn heel. Risking a tear in the cherry red patent leather of her sky-high Louboutin ankle-straps – the ones with the plunging vamp revealing her sexy toe cleavage – wasn’t an option. But between the ankle strap and her figurehugging skirt, she couldn’t slip out of the shoe, nor could bend over and unfasten it either. Perfect. She’d be late for her meeting with Imperial’s CEO. Daddy Dearest thought Giddings-Rose couldn’t

handle an account the size of Imperial. Check that. He thought she couldn’t win an account the size of Imperial. Determined to prove her father wrong, she’d get the account and the corner office. That is if she could pry her heel out of the sidewalk. Bustling New Yorkers in suits and skirts just stepped around her, dodging her like an out-of-place trashcan. “Well, sh–” “Hold still, Sugar, or you’ll break the heel.” The masculine voice called to mind the mellow sweetness of the fine Kentucky Bourbon she’d once sipped at the Derby. Rich and mellifluous, with a hint of Southern graciousness. Even so, there was no denying the authoritative tone. “And that would be a damn shame.” The hand that wrapped around her ankle from behind was broad and masculine, but well-manicured, topped with an elegant Cartier watch.

Excerpt from

If the Guinness Book of World Records had a category for the world’s most boring life, Millie Stephens knows she would hold the record. After the plain, straitlaced personal assistant is saved by a total stranger from becoming New York City’s latest traffic fatality, she has a disheartening epiphany: her life’s highlight reel was nonexistent. Determined to step out of the shadows and take a walk on the wild side, she starts Millie-style—by making a list. That total stranger, bad boy Ian Brand, could help Millie with one very important item on her list: sex. But Ian is more than the sum of his parts—and he’s got some really great parts. Beneath that sexy, tattooed exterior is a man with a painful past who’s desperate to both hide and overcome his disability in the pursuit of his dreams.

Dreams of Her Own

She consulted the day’s to-do list to see what other errands were on it. Lists were her life. They provided organization, structure, and a sense of accomplishment. She loved ticking things off her list so much that if she accomplished something that wasn’t on the list, she’d write it down just so she could have the pleasure of marking it off. She had a list for everything. Errands. Tasks. Books to be read. Special dates to remember. If something needed doing, she had a list for it, all appropriately categorized, of course. Shoving her errand list into her coat pocket, she stopped at the corner and waited for the pedestrian signal. As soon as the light changed, she stepped out into the pedestrian crosswalk, anxious to get to the pharmacy and out of the cold. She glanced to her left and froze, as a delivery truck barreled down the street as if the red light meant nothing. And as if she truly were invisible. Fear stole her ability to move and she scrunched her eyes closed hoping death would at least be quick. She strived for invisibility, but now she’d give anything to stand out. Next thing she knew she was yanked from behind and hauled up against a hard object, bands of steel around her waist, her feet dangling in the air. “Are you okay?” a gruff male voice asked, his breath warm in her ear. She nodded, unsure if she could do any more than that. “I’m going to set you back on your feet. Do you think you

can stand?” Nodding again, she realized the hard object at her back was a man’s chest, and the steel bands were his arms. She slid down his body and felt the sidewalk beneath her feet. A wave of dizziness washed over her. “Breathe,” her rescuer encouraged. He turned her to face him, his hands on her shoulders, and she gazed up and into eyes the color of a winter-gray sky, earnest with concern. His already tousled brown hair ruffled in the wind whipping around the corner, and his chin bore the stubble so many women were fond of.

Rebecca Heflin is an awardwinning author with a day-job as a practicing attorney. Rebecca is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Florida Romance Writers, RWA Contemporary Romance, and Florida Writers Association. She and her mountain-climbing husband live at sea level in sunny Florida. Issue 34 | July/August 2016 |


Historical | Western | Period Fiction

once UPON a TIME


Issue 34 | July/August 2016 |


reviews historical | western | period fiction

Lady Honor & The Duke of Darkness

Montana Rose

DeAnn Smallwood

Maggi Andersen

Historical Heat Rating: 1

Rose is a rancher at heart. There’s no doubt in her mind that if given another chance, she can make a success of homesteading. She will not fail this time. People scoff, saying ranching is too much of a job for a lone woman to undertake. But Rose is no ordinary woman. She may be petite, stylish, and beautiful, but she is also strong and driven. Every aspect of ranching brings joy to her heart. Then why is she here in Wise River, Montana, taking orders from a mean-spirited school board and attempting something she has no clue how to do? Teaching? Jesse Rivers carries his own baggage on his wide shoulders. He’s been called home by a dying stepmother to take over the Rocking R Ranch and the care of a belligerent and wounded brother. A rugged, lanky cowboy, Jesse is also demanding, surly, and afraid to love. No, he can’t love. What if he has buried inside him the same volatile anger as his father, resulting in brutality by strong fists or a whip? Then Jesse meets Rose. Strong willed, outspoken, determined, and oh-so-desirable.

Review:This is a very sweet story, with interesting and entertaining characters and storyline. After losing her dream of owning her own ranch when fever wiped out her cattle, Rose Bush takes on a teaching job in the town that her sister Wisteria, lives. Even though she’s successful at helping the children learn, there is one student, Tory, who needs extra help – who is angry, and unwilling. His older brother whom he lives with, Jesse, is also an angry, stubborn man whom Rose butts heads with. But when the snooty school board decides they don’t like Rose’s methods of teaching, Jesse hires Rose to live at his ranch and be his housekeeper. Little by little, Rose creeps into their lives and hearts, and it’s a sweet story that is believable and holds your interest. This is part of a series of books, but reads very well as a standalone. Nicely written, I’ll look forward to the others in the series. Reviewed by Cyrene

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Historical Heat Rating: 2

In her first Season, Hope Baxendale attracts the interest of a powerful English duke, the husband all debutantes wish for and some will fight dirty to get. If only the handsome Frenchman Daniel Brienne, Duc du Ténèbres wasn’t distracting her from her course. Daniel shows little interest in marrying again, and surely, it is only the sadness in his deep brown eyes that pulls her to him: Daniel yearns for solitude. When his very existence is threatened, he wakes to the possibilities of a life passionately lived. He knows just whom he wants in his future, but the weary hawk, the Duke of Winslow, circles. And is it fair to ask Hope to leave her family and her country for him? Review: This is a nice story, and the 3rd book in this series, but it will read perfectly fine as a standalone. In her first Season out, Lady Hope attracts the attention of an English Duke, but it’s a French Duke, Daniel – that captures her attention. Although Daniel isn’t looking for a wife, he can’t help but be drawn to Hope. I settled on 4 stars for this book, because I would like to have seen it a little longer, with the characters flushed out better. I didn’t really even have a good idea in my mind what most of the characters looked like, except the main two. Also the ending was a bit abrupt, and I don’t feel that the story flowed from the end to the epilogue all that well. All in all, it’s not a long read, and it was easy to like the characters. Reviewed by Cyrene

feature 3-book showcase

Seth Kendall wants to meet the daughter he’s never known. Abby Crawford was the love of his life when she broke his heart and refused to go with him to Nashville. Though she’s now divorced, she’s never understood why their mutual best friend proposed, but she went with it. Confessing she’s lied about her daughter’s paternity all these years won’t be easy for Abby, especially with her ex blackmailing her to keep the secret. And Seth doesn’t know the hardest truth of all: Every love song he plays on his guitar still plucks her heartstrings.

Excerpt from


Country star Gabriel McKenna is no stranger to fame, money, or beautiful women. Despite his bad boy image, he wants take his orphaned ten-year-old brother under his wing. The judge on the case awards custody to the grandfather Gabe knows is abusive. Michaela Finn was engaged to Gabe, but two days before their wedding he ran off to Nashville. Now he’s back with an insane plan. Marry him, so he can get custody of his brother. Michaela loves the little boy too, but she’s just not sure her heart can carry a happy tune when Gabe is playing lead.

Excerpt from She sighed and leaned back in her chair. She bit her bottom lip. God, she wanted to spend time with him. “What do you have planned?” “Something special.” When she started to shake her head, he added, “All you need to do is say yes. And pack enough for a two-day trip. Although, I doubt you’ll need any of it.” “I’m not going anywhere with you. I have the ranch–” “You can go willingly or I’ll kidnap you. The choice is yours. I talked to Judd, and he’ll take care of the ranch in your absence,” he countered, referring to her foreman. “You thought of everything.” Excitement curled in her lower belly at the way he grinned at her. A whole weekend with the one thing she couldn’t have, but wanted beyond all reason. Maybe she could convince herself he only wanted sex and couldn’t possibly feel anything for her.

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“Okay.” Michaela breathed the word. “You’ll marry me?” Gabe didn’t bother hiding his surprise. She drained her glass with a wince. “Damn, I’ve never liked champagne.” Michaela headed for the fridge. “Do you have any beer in here?” He was more uncertain now than he’d been before he started thinking about this crazy idea. “Yeah. Lone Star. Get me one, too.” When she turned with the longneck bottles in hand, he chuckled. “A two hundred dollar bottle of fine French bubbly, but we’d rather drink Texas beer.” “I’m a country girl, Gabe. You’ve always known that.” She handed him one of the bottles. “I’ve actually been thinking the same thing– that if I were married the judge would’ve given me Jesse. But the only man I can think of is Cash Nelson.” She twisted the top off the beer and took a long draw. “But

he would read too much into the agreement. I never considered you. Hell, the whole town knows I can’t even stand you. How is this gonna work?” Gabe didn’t like the way his heart pinched at her words. He tossed the cap from his beer beside hers on the island top and took a drink. “We’ll have to convince them otherwise. We have a history and we’ve been working together”–he grinned as he remembered the custody hearing– “or against each other for weeks now. Everyone knows there’s a fine line between love and hate.”

Excerpt from


Texas girl Emily Kendall hit it big on the country music charts—until she found herself pregnant and battling addiction. When she goes home, the last thing she’s looking for is trouble, no matter how good it looks in uniform. Single father, Sheriff EJ Cowley has his own demons to battle from his days in the Army Rangers. The last thing he needs is a troubled celebrity speeding through town. When someone from her past threatens her safety, EJ has no choice but to protect her. Soon both will learn there’s more to the other than meets the eye.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t ride you right now.” Emily kissed the horse above her nose, and Tink nuzzled her cheek. “We’ll go out tomorrow. How about that?” “I remember when you rode that horse everywhere you went.” Startled by the deep voice, she turned. EJ Cowley leaned on the top rail of the fence, and from the look of it, he’d been there for a while. He’d changed out of the brown uniform of the McAllister County sheriff’s department. She couldn’t help looking him over. Dressed in worn boots, faded jeans, a blue western shirt, and a brown Stetson, he epitomized every sexy cliché existing about how a cowboy should look. Her heart sped up at the way those clothes fit him. Which irritated the hell out of her. She turned back to her horse and stroked her long face. “What are you doing here?” “My sister-in-law watches my son while I’m at work.” She stilled. Had she been quasi-lusting after a married man? Hadn’t he married Raquel Marshall? She glanced over her shoulder at his left hand. No ring. But then a lot of cowboys didn’t wear their wedding bands when they were working. The risk of getting it caught on something was too great. Despite his clothes, he must have come off duty as the county’s ticket-happy sheriff not too long ago. She patted Tink’s shoulder. “See you in the morning, girl.” As she headed toward the man, who was not hiding the fact he appreciated what he saw, she guessed he wasn’t still married, but she’d been around the world a few times and knew not to take a man’s blatant interest as proof of anything. “You have a son. How is Raquel these days?” She was close enough to notice his gray eyes had turned as haunted as a gravestone when she asked about his wife. He looked to the left, toward his brother’s house, and from the way a muscle twitched in his jaw, he must have gritted his teeth.

Although Sara Walter Ellwood has long ago left the farm for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her contemporary westerns. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia. She’s a multi-published and international Amazon bestselling author of the Cowboy Up anthology series. She also writes paranormal romance. Issue 34 | July/August 2016 |


Mystery | Suspense | Thriller | Horrror



Issue 34 | July/August 2016 |


Now released! Cold Blooded V Nightmare in Red

reviews mystery | suspense | horror

Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection Barbara Venkataraman Mystery/Suspense Heat Rating: 1

Books 1-3 of the Jamie Quinn Mystery Series! Including: “Death by Didgeridoo”-Winner of the Indie Book of the Day award. Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, still reeling from the death of her mother, is pulled into a game of deception, jealousy, and vengeance when her cousin, Adam, is wrongfully accused of murder. It’s up to Jamie to find the real murderer before it’s too late. It doesn’t help that the victim is a former rock star with more enemies than friends, or that Adam confessed to a murder he didn’t commit. “The Case of the Killer Divorce”-Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, has returned to her family law practice after a hiatus due to the death of her mother. It’s business as usual until a bitter divorce case turns into a murder investigation, and Jamie’s client becomes the prime suspect. When she can’t untangle truth from lies, Jamie enlists the help of Duke Broussard, her favorite private investigator, to try to clear her client’s name. And she’s hoping that, in his spare time, he can help her find her long-lost father. “Peril in the Park”-There’s big trouble in the park system. Someone is making life difficult for Jamie Quinn’s boyfriend, Kip Simons, the new director of Broward County parks. Was it the angry supervisor passed over for promotion? The disgruntled employee Kip recently fired? Or someone with a bigger ax to grind? If Jamie can’t figure it out soon, she may be looking for a new boyfriend because there’s a dead guy in the park and Kip has gone missing! With the help of her favorite P.I., Duke Broussard, Jamie must race the clock to find Kip before it’s too late. Review: Jamie Quinn is a lawyer whose life is now never dull. First her cousin is accused of murder, then a client’s husband dies, and finally her boyfriend is harassed. With help from a private Investigator, she tackles these challenges. This is a charming collection of stories but since there are only a few characters they read like novellas instead of three full novels. So only read these books if you want a quick read. If you prefer complex mysteries then skip them. I personally like them, they were just charming enough to make up for their lack of real mystery. Reviewed by Sally W

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Science Fiction | Fantasy | Paranormal | Urban Fantasy



Issue 34 | July/August 2016 |



science fiction | fantasy | paranormal

Wonderfully Wicked C.J. Burright

Para/SciFi/Fantasy Heat Rating: 2

DREAMS CAN BE DEADLY Kidnapped by the man of her dreams, she must embrace the darkness within to save her life … and her heart. She’s an ordinary girl with a nightmare problem For as long as she can remember, Kalila Montgomery has been tormented by creatures from her nightmares. Doomed to a solitary life with her cats, she’s determined to go down fighting. Until the man of her dreams— literally— kidnaps her and claims to know a cure. If only she could believe him. Review: This was a pretty decent read. It was a nice alternative to the fantasy world of books. Kalila is a dreamcaster – unknown to herself, all she knows is she’s had a life of nightmares. She’s tracked by a person in her dreams, Lydon, who is V’alkara, a race that can only survive on the dreams of others, and only true dreamcasters can truly feed their soul. As a hunter, Lydon is ordered to find dreamcasters, and when he finds Kalila, he’s surprised that he’s so drawn to her. It begins a journey of trust, and trying to save each other from the V’alkara that would steal her dreams, and her mind. This is very creatively written, and I really enjoyed the journey – and it kept a very good pace. It’s the first book in a series, but does wrap up it’s storyline nicely so you aren’t left on a cliffhanger. Reviewed by Cyrene

Her Fierce Warrior Paige Tyler

Para/SciFi/Fantasy Heat Rating: 4

The woman tensed. As anger and fear ricocheted across her face, her eyes changed from red to green to brown in a dizzying display like nothing he’d ever

seen. Every instinct in Angelo’s body screamed at him to lunge for his weapon. Instead he set his feet for impact, blocking her slashing claws. Unbelievably, after a few moments of struggling, she went still, all the fight gone... Minka isn’t sure she should trust the sexy Special Forces soldier who found her. Subjected to horrors, on the run from scientists set on locking her in a cage, Minka is terrified of the monster she’s becoming...and somehow, Angelo is the only one who can calm the beast inside her and make her feel safe. But can she trust the way he makes her feel when she’s not even sure she can trust herself? Review: This is a series book, known as the X-Ops, but they each read fine as standalones. This one centers on Minka, a woman who is kidnapped from her home and experimented on, turning her into a hybrid. Minka survives, but rage and anger are all the beast in her knows. Until Angelo, a special ops team member that saves her and she finally feels peace in his presence. Finding out that they used a shifter special ops, named Ivy and injected Minka with her DNA – will Minka be able to control the beast in her with Ivy and Angelo’s help? There is some great action sequences and friendships, and you meet characters in this book that may set up for future stories. I was a bit put off in the very beginning, and the instant connection between Angelo and Minka, but seeing Minka’s character grow and change and come into her own was nice. I would like to have seen a bit more of “learning to trust” between Minka and Angelo, and I think that would have driven the story even more, but it worked OK in the end. Reviewed by Cyrene

54 |

Armageddon and the Fourth Timeline Don Mardak

Para/SciFi/Fantasy Heat Rating: 1

In face of global holocaust, a time-traveler attempts to rescue humanity from its catastrophic destiny. While the United States’ military and intelligence communities pull out all stops in an effort to prevent a nuclear holocaust, one man””encouraged by an enlightened Tibetan Mater - attempts so save humanity from its certain annihilation. Eric makes three journeys back in time in an attempt to alter an important event that might change the future and prevent the ultimate disaster. Review: The world is not in a good place. Terrorist groups are trying to destabilize Europe and the United States by attempting various attacks. Europe and the United States are trying to find a way to protect their people. The terrorist groups manage to nuke several cities. When they manage to nuke stateside cities, America retaliates with a barrage of nukes. While the groups are fighting it out and destroying the world, three enlightened mystics are trying to prevent the death and destruction using a form of time travel. This book was interesting on a lot of levels. Mardak showed a realistic possibility of what could happen as the fight between Islamic extremists and America heats up. He also uses the interesting concept of using time travel to prevent the atrocities. Where the book fell short for me was in the whole new age bit of mysticism that was used for the time travel bits. There is a lot of Christian mythology used throughout the time travel parts. Peter, Paul, Moses, the burning bush, Eve all make an appearance. Mardak used the biblical stories in a way I haven’t seen before (which was pretty neat). He explores what happens when you change events in certain biblical stories. Unfortunately, the remedy for all of the world’s problems was a little simplistic for my taste. I had the impression that even the author didn’t quite feel it was adequate but he was trying really hard to make me as a reader believe it. Would I recommend this book? Yes. The parallels to things going on today and the interesting use of time travel coupled with the unique views on mysticism make for a decent read. Reviewed by David

Issue 34 | July/August 2016 |


premierepromo K.D. Wood


Press release: Coming August 2016, Unwilling, the first book in bestselling paranormal romance series by K.D. Wood will be available on, an Amazon Company. The same story you’ve come to love in print will be brought to life by professional voice actress, Candice Goodman. A North California native who has performed at The Comedy Central Stage, The Comedy Store, and Flappers Comedy Club. Candice studied Voice Over with Nancy Wolfson and can be heard on her other Audible work, Speak by Laurie Halsy Anderson, seen in guest staring roles on Weeds and Law & Order, and numerous promos for YouTube reality shows, commercials, and radio.

Candice is a Northern California native with strong Canadian roots. Her background allows her to have a clear all around standard American sound, with a warmth and humor only a true Canadian can bring. Candice has been acting and singing since she was 5 years old when she had her first line in Pinocchio the musical, ” Poor Gepetto!” After studying theater at UC Santa Barbara, Candice went perform on the New York City off Broadway and UCB comedy stages. In LA, Candice continued to perform improv., sketch comedy, and stand up at The Comedy Central Stage, The Comedy Store, and Flappers Comedy Club, to name a few. As she made people laugh, they would always come back to that voice! Her voice is straightforward, grounded and measured. It is feminine and cool. While she loves to flirt, she is not too cutsy or clownish, perky or dismissible. Candice has studied Voice Over with Nancy Wolfson and her voice can be heard on promos for you tube reality shows, voice mail recordings, commercials for TV and radio, audiobooks, and much more.

Issue 34 | July/August 2016 |


feature sneak peek

Charity Parkerson Unknown Malik loves hating Logan… or hates loving Logan. Hell, even he doesn’t know. Three years ago, Malik met the man of his dreams. Everything stopped for him, so his world could revolve around Logan. Eight months ago, Logan walked away, leaving Malik with one burning question— why? No man on the planet has ever stolen Logan’s heart the way Malik has. As much as Malik claims he loves Logan, Logan knows the truth. He’ll always come second to Malik’s boxing career, but that’s not why Logan left. He has his reasons, and he can’t share them with Malik. But a love this real and strong, it won’t be denied.

“Have you ever been or are you currently in an abusive relationship?” Malik snorted at the asinine question. “No.” The male nurse who couldn’t have been more than twenty-two, scratched something out on the notepad in his hands before focusing on Malik once more. “Are you being held against your will?” Malik looked around, searching for hidden cameras. “Is this a joke? Are you fucking kidding me right now?” The nurse’s gaze moved over Malik’s bruised and battered body. “I assure you, these are standard questions, Mr. Harris.” “Are they?” Malik asked, hearing the aggravation in his tone. “Because I have to say, no one’s ever asked me this bullshit before, and I spend a lot of time at the ER. A lot.” The guy’s bland expression never faltered. “I could get you the number to a place where they help people like you get out of bad situations.” Shifting positions, Malik opened his mouth ready to blast his unwanted champion when the door to his room flew open. Logan strolled through, stealing the oxygen Malik needed to argue. It had been three months since he’d last set eyes on Logan’s gorgeous blue eyes. His perfect body and blond hair always turned heads everywhere he went. At one time, Logan’s presence alone was enough to fix every fucking thing in Malik’s world. Now, Malik knew the truth. Logan’s beauty masked an ugly heart. “Jesus, just what I need. What are you doing here?” Logan’s gaze moved over Malik. His expression gave nothing away. “I’m still

listed as your emergency contact.” “I’ll be sure to fix that. You’re free to go.” Snagging a chair with his foot, Logan dragged it closer to Malik’s bed and sat. “Shut up, babe,” Logan said before focusing on the nurse. “What’s your name?” The guy visibly swallowed. “James.” Logan’s smile turned sexy in a way that never failed to get the man his way. “What’s the prognosis, James?” James glanced between Logan and Malik. His nervousness fled and his shoulders squared as he focused on Malik. “I’ll go get that number for you.” Malik bit back a groan as the man scurried from the room, leaving Malik alone with Logan. His eyes skirted Logan’s way without his permission. Logan’s hair was shaved on the sides and thick on top. It stood on end, making Malik want to run his fingers through it. That thought pissed him off. “For real, why are you here?” Instead of cowering, as any sane man would have, Logan’s face softened. “I told you—I’m still listed as your emergency contact. Are you okay? Sam said you were out cold for much longer than usual. You scared the shit out of me, baby. Don’t do that shit. You know my heart can’t take it.” Crueler words had never been spoken than the ones leaving Logan’s lips—lips he’d loved to kiss, lingered over. Crossing his arms over his chest, Malik looked away. He needed to protect his heart. “It’s just a concussion. I’m sure it won’t be the last. See? No big deal. Feel free to leave.”

Charity Parkerson is an award winning and multi-published author with several companies. Born with no filter from her brain to her mouth, she decided to take this odd quirk and insert it in her characters. Issue 34 | July/August 2016 |


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