Category Archives: Womens Lit

Welcome, Christine Elise McCarthy!

We are excited to welcome professional actress, Christine Elisa McCarthy, to the Highlighted Author. You’ve watched her on U4EA, Beverly Hills 90210, ER, and Child’s Play 2  among other shows and films. Today we’re featuring her debut novel Bathing & The Single Girl. It’s hilariously funny. It’s fabulously relatable. It’s totally Christine. Enjoy! –Jo Grafford, Highlighted Author Co-Hostess


Bathing & The Single Girl

BathingandthesinglegirlCoverBathing & The Single Girl is the smutty, mercilessly irreverent and laugh-out-loud funny debut novel by actress Christine Elise McCarthy.  Inspired by her one-woman short film of the same name, it’s the kind of novel Jonathan Ames might write if he’d dropped out of college and had been working as an actress in Hollywood for the last 20 years.

The life of an actress in LA isn’t all glamour, money, and bedding rock stars.  Sometimes it’s more about humiliation, red wine hangovers, and the bad decisions they fuel.  Ruby Fitzgerald has barely worked in years, not that anyone remembers her for anything but her short stint on a long-canceled but iconic TV show.  But that was back when her career prospects seemed on the upswing — longer ago than Ruby cares to admit, and awkward sex with regrettable partners is doing nothing to take the edge off. Everything once functional in her house is going on strike, but the unemployment checks barely cover the mortgage, and a self-respecting girl needs to be able to pay her bar tab — so repairs are on hold.  One more bubble bath and a few more cocktails.  A gal can always get responsible tomorrow.

With everything mounting against her, a cranky and increasingly despairing Ruby will have to find out if her life’s larger indignities are the result of bad luck, or a chronically bad attitude.  What follows is a walking tour of the hilarious depths you can sink to if you stop exercising your best judgment.

Purchase Bathing & the Single Girl now:



Christine – from the screen to the world of publication

Christine Elise McCarthyChristine Elise McCarthy has been acting professionally for 25 years and is recognized primarily for her roles as U4EA-popping bad girl, Emily Valentine, on Beverly Hills, 90210, as Harper Tracy on ER, and as Kyle, the gal who killed Chucky in Child’s Play 2.  She has also appeared in recurring roles on China Beach, In the Heat of the Night, and Tell Me You Love Me.  Among her other film roles are Abel Ferrara’s Body Snatchers and two films starring Viggo Mortensen: Vanishing Point and Boiling Point.

As a writer, she has written three episodes of Beverly Hills, 90210 as well as characters and storylines for the series, a pilot that was optioned by Aaron Spelling, and comical true-life essays that she performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade and Naked Angels theaters in LA.  She maintains an irreverent food porn blog called for which she provides recipes, photographs and sometimes shares details of the triumphs and, more frequently, the humiliations of her own life. She has a great passion for photography ( and has shown her pin-up and decaying Americana imagery in the United States & Paris.  She has been on the selection committee of Michigan’s Waterfront Film Festival since its inception in 1999, she is co-director of the Victoria Texas Independent Film Festival, programs for the Self-Medicated Film Festival and The Lady Filmmakers Film Festival, and consults & judges for many others.  Her directorial debut, Bathing & the Single Girl, was accepted into over 100 film festivals and won 20 awards.

Bathing & the Single Girl, inspired by the short film, is her debut novel.

Here is a link to a recent & comprehensive radio interview about everything Christine is up to –


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“I’m sorry, but is anyone sitting in the seats on either side of you?”

He turned and looked at me with huge blue eyes which were set off by an amazing quiff of nearly white hair. I’m not one that typically goes for towheads but something about his face made my heart pitter pat. He appeared to be in his early thirties. He looked at the seats beside him and turned to me and shook his head.

“Well, would you mind terribly moving over one so that my friend and I can sit here?”

“Fo shizzle,” he replied and scooted over a seat. Eliza and I bellied up to the bar.

“This your first time here?” he inquired.

“What? We look like we don’t belong here?” I snapped back defensively and reflexively removed my granny sweater.

“Whoa, Cuz. I was just making small talk.”

“I’m sorry,” I said as I tucked my sweater beneath me and wondered if I’d really just been addressed as “Cuz.” “It is my birthday and it hasn’t been a very good night so far.”

“Happy birthday! Let me buy you guys a round, Big Willie style.” He smiled a shy smile that was in contrast to his urban verbiage and he touched my shoulder. He called the bartender by his first name (Thaddeus) and I ordered a glass of champagne. Eliza was still pawing her first glass of wine.

“Thanks. That is very sweet of you. So, you must come here a lot, huh? You know the bartender by name and all.”

He nodded as he sipped what looked like a gin and tonic but more likely involved exotic tinctures and artisanal liqueur and probably set him back thirty bucks. I eyed the candied lime astride the rim and wondered if it was made of fruit or Chuckles. You could never tell with hipsters these days, what with their irony and irreverence. Thaddeus placed a glass of champagne before both me and Eliza, made some hat-doffing, semi-bow gesture and moved away.

“Ya dig, my Thaddeotis. Celeb mixologist. I’m all about livin’ nappy, yo. Know what I’m saying?”

I did not. Undeterred, I forged ahead.

“Can I ask why you come here? This place sucks.”

“Co-owner Mos is my OG homie skittle, son,” he explained and touched my cheek.

I tried to put an expression on my face that 1) suggested I understood what he had just said and 2) looked noncommittal enough to suggest that I agreed with him—whether what he’d said had been good or bad and 3) hid the fact that I was secretly swooning every time he touched me. Eliza kicked me under the bar. I grabbed my champagne and took a long swallow, trying to distract my platinum wigga from seeing in my eyes that I had no idea what the fuck he was talking about.

“My name is Ruby. This is my friend Eliza.”

“Word. I’m Bunker.” He smiled again and pierced me with those baby blues. He reached out and removed an invisible bit of lint from my dress. It was all I could do not to press my heaving bosom into his retreating palm.

“Bunker? Really? Bunker? Eliza, did you hear that? Isn’t that unbelievable?”

“Yes. I have been listening and yes, it is unbelievable.”

Her sarcasm was lost on me.

“My dog! I had a dog named Bunker. He just died last month. His name was Edward Bunker.”

I said that to Eliza, as if she didn’t already know.

“Facheezie on the reezie! That is some crazy shiznit, Holmes. My middle name is Edward,” interjected Bunker, and then he touched my champagne glass. I took it to mean I should finish the glass. I drained it and, as I chewed the green-tea infused lychee that had been at the bottom of the flute, I gestured to the bartender that I was ready for another. I was very excited about this Bunker business.

“This is amazing! Are you a fan of Edward Bunker?” I asked him and, without even waiting for his response, I turned back to Eliza. “Can you believe this, Eliza? Isn’t this crazy?”

“Craaazy shiznit, fo sho,” Eliza quipped. I heard her mocking tone that time. I mean—she never said shiznit at home. I threw her a little warning stink-eye. A fresh glass of champagne was before me. Bunker touched it twice and then touched my cheek again. He looked directly into my eyes when he touched me. I blushed and grabbed my drink. My head was swimming with wine and champagne and the crazy odds that I would meet a cute guy that shared a name with my recently deceased dog. And on my birthday. It had to be sign. I looked at Eliza and I could tell she saw the hearts bursting above my head. I fixed her with the “Wow, can you believe my luck?” look.

“I’m gonna go to the ladies’ room. Ruby, will you come with me?”

“Go ahead, Shorty. I’ll watch your drinks.” He touched my shoulder again.

I giggled a thank you, took a huge slug of champagne. Standing up, I suddenly felt the impact of the five plus drinks I had had in probably just over an hour. Hoping Bunker was watching us, I tried very deliberately to suck in my gut and be sure I did not stumble in my heels. I could hardly wait to get into the privacy of the bathroom and discuss these exciting new developments.

“Oh my God! I LOVE him! And his name is Bunker! How perfect is that? Isn’t this crazy?”

“Word, Dawg,” she said and flashed me a gang sign.

“I know, but, I don’t know. Maybe he is trying to talk black to… compensate for… being practically an albino…” I said, stumbling into an end to a sentence I had begun with no formed conclusion. “AndheissocuteandhekeepstouchingmeandhisnameisBunker!” I thrilled.

“I don’t know who is more retarded, you right now or Yo MTV Raps out there.” Eliza was laughing.

“You don’t think he is cute?”

“I guess he’s okay. You know who he is, right?”

“No. Who is he?”

“He is an actor. He was in that movie about the kangaroo that became President.”

“THAT’S Jerry O’Connell?”

“No, the other kangaroo movie. The impossibly dumber one…”

“Dumber than? …oooh…” I exhaled my realization, deflated by this new information. “But still. Tonight sucks. My life sucks. My career is on life support, I’m hopelessly broke and I haven’t kissed a boy in five years.” I let that soak in for both of us before I continued. “Fuck it, Eliza. He is very cute and every time he touches me I think I am going to faint.”

“I saw him on Oprah a long time ago. He has Tourette’s syndrome,” she said gingerly, as if it had great meaning. I stared blankly back at her. I was pretty buzzed. Then it dawned on me.

“Oh! You think that’s why he hangs out here?”


“You know. Shouting out ‘FUCK’ and fucking… blurting out racial slurs… might not seem so offensive in a restaurant with ‘Nga’ in the name and bizarre, culturally insensitive art on the walls… right? I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s like a racist free for all in here.”

“No. No. Some Tourette’s manifest as ticks—like OCD. Like—counting stairs and washing hands and… you know… touching things. He has no ability to control the urge to touch stuff. That is why he keeps tapping you and your drink and everything else.”

“Oh.” This was even more disappointing news to digest. I was determined to have a good birthday now, though.

“Well, his name is Bunker.”

“This is true,” Eliza charitably conceded.

“Five years, Eliza. I’m squandering my sexual prime! Tonight. Tonight, I’ve found a new sense of purpose. You know what comes after middle age, Eliza? Old age. Old age, Eliza. I need to find some fucker out there to step to the plate and blow the dust off my cooter and breathe some Goddamn life back into it. If you go too long without using it—it just puckers up, you know? Eliza. Yes. Like a prune. And nobody likes shriveled snatch flaps, Eliza. Nobody,” I said in my gravest tone.

“I think you are mixing some very unappetizing vagina metaphors there but thanks for the visual all the same.”

“I’m serious. I heard an unused twat gets all dried out and powdery like the elastic in your sports bra—you now—the one you find years later at the back of the drawer,” I said while pretending I was stretching the band of a crumbling athletic top. “I don’t want an ashy bajina!”

“My dry spell has been at least as long as yours but… this guy… really?”

Eliza was laughing but still not giving me the green light I was angling for.

“He really has Tourette’s and isn’t just, you know, unable to keep his hands off me because I’m wicked fabulous?”


“Well, would that explain why he talks like the D.O. Double G?”


“Eh—fuck it. I like him and I hate everyone. I’m going to go back out there to New Jack City and I’m going to flirt my ass off. It doesn’t mean I have to marry him. Right?”

“Heck to the yeah, Cherry Coke! Stop trippin’.”

“I had no idea you were so street, beatch.”

“Let’s get out there and get some of that dope mac-n-cheese, home slice,” she answered, dryly.

“Okay, Cockblockie. I get it. Shut up.”

We returned to the bar to find a new round of drinks next to our old ones. Bunker’s seat was now the perch for a scantily clad, Britney Spears look-a-like hooker slut. I looked at the two glasses in front of me and waited for the champagne to explain this new development.

“Bunker had to go but he bought you guys another round before he left,” Thaddeus said and stepped away quickly as if to avoid further questions. I got the distinct impression that he was embarrassed for us. For me, actually, because I am the center of the universe, a hundred years old, poverty stricken, fat and unfuckable. I looked at Eliza, trying to mask my humiliation.

“He probably just heard there was a blue light special on dookie ropes on Hollywood Boulevard or something,” Eliza said.

~ ~ ~


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Welcome, Pavarti K. Tyler!

We are excited to have mega lover of books and erotic romance writer, Pavarti K. Tyler, paying a visit to the Highlighted Author this week. She is thoroughly enjoying her writing journey and plans to release her second book in The Sugar House Novellas series just a few days. Enjoy the feature!


A Note from Pavarti

pavartiktylerI love books, like love them, like I have a problem.  My husband keeps trying to tell me about this building where you can go get any book you want to read, but the thing I don’t understand is that then you have to give them back!  That’s inane!  My books are my children, my friends, my companions, my lovers.  I always have one with me and when I look through my shelves I remember each story like the memory of a kiss.  Writing is a dream come true for me and I’m blessed to have a family and group of readers who support me.  I couldn’t be more thankful.

The Sugar House Novellas are literary erotica, where I tried to tell a story, give you something to think about and chew on while you delve into the proclivities of the men and women of The Sugar House, a highend brothel in modern day Manhattan.  Check out Sugar & Salt, available now, and look for Protecting Portia, coming May 19th!

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Sugar & Salt – The Sugar House Novellas

Blank bookcover with clipping pathAfter over a decade working in the sex industry, Janice Cane retains no illusions about the nature of relationships. Everyone lies and everyone wants something. Still, a part of her longs for a connection.

Speed-dating becomes her addiction, a place to find a man for the night when she needs a quick fix, and her last hope that true love may still be waiting around the next corner. When a mysterious man entices both her intellect and her lust, she becomes entangled in an affair more complicated than she’d expected.

Enter the world of The Sugar House. Here you’ll meet the illustrious Madam Janice Cane and her brood of men and women who will fulfill your every fantasy. But can they find a way to fulfill their own?





“I f—ing hate these people,” a familiar gravelly voice says from behind Janice, taking her breath away. A flush spreads across her chest, bringing the nerve endings of her body to life and igniting the smoldering embers of her desire

She takes a deep, steadying breath, and turns around. “You’re here.” The reaction of her body does nothing to dispel her belief that any entanglement with Salt remains doomed before it begins.

“It’s the social event of the summer.” He wears a cocky smile and custom-fit tux. Broad shoulders fight against the confines of the jacket, emphasizing the strength beneath, but not enough to require the next size. “I noticed your name on the donor list and bought my way in.” He steps closer, hands hovering at his sides, ready to reach out.

She studies his hands and relishes the memory of his touch on her waist, the grip of his embrace.

“You didn’t come back to the bar.”

“I told you this won’t work.”

“I can’t stop thinking about you.”

“Please….” Janice moves to turn away, but he takes her hand in his. His grip is loose—not intended to restrain, but more of a plea.

“I don’t understand what happened. Whatever it is, I can fix it. Just don’t walk away again.” Vulnerability in a man usually turns her off, but his sincerity speaks directly to her soul, reminding her of what it means to feel

“It’s nothing you can fix, because it has nothing to do with you.” She is mesmerized by the green of his eyes, the shadow of yesterday’s beard, and the soft lines around his mouth. “I can’t tell you more than that.”

“Then don’t.” He tightens his grip on her hand and pulls her closer.

She is forced to step forward, due to the precarious balance required to walk in these heels.

“Don’t tell me anything.” He gently parts his lips and they breathe together, their movements so perfectly in sync one could believe they were one body, one breath. “How about we don’t talk, just dance?”

Before she can respond, he sweeps an arm around her waist and guides her to the crowded dance floor. In his arms, she relinquishes control, allowing him to lead her across the room, through the crowd, and into a dream. His embrace is warm and familiar, and though she knows she should walk away, she finds it impossible. The green of his eyes shines bright in the glow of their closeness, and for just a moment, she wonders if it might be possible. His hand rests on the small of her back, directing her movements with subtle firmness. The rest of the room fades away, black surrounding the spotlight of his gaze, until they are the only ones who exist.

She presses closer, removing her hand from his and setting them both on his shoulders.

His breath catches and he tilts his head down toward her. Music swells in the background and the lights dim. He releases his hold on her and steps back, leaving his hand on her back.

The presenter announces it’s time to take their seats, but Salt doesn’t move; instead, he quirks his eyebrow, posing the question.

She knows this can never be, but the air has left the building and she’s intoxicated with the thought of his lips.

He drops his hand from her back, and takes her hand.

Before she can answer, he strides forward, leading her out of the banquet hall, past the private exhibit, and out into the dimly lit hall.

Hand in hand, they navigate the maze of the empty museum without a word, taking in the blur of surrounding art. He stops to look at a painting, and she drops his hand to skip ahead to the Greek and Roman displays

A massive, fluted column stands in the center of the room, its base lined with delicate carving, showing an elaborate, scaled pattern. She studies the piece, struck by its size and beauty. What a display of power and worship.

“It’s from the Temple of Artemis.” He speaks in a hushed tone appropriate for the low lighting. Reverence fills the room as they gaze at the sculpture. “Goddess of childbirth and virginity.” He wraps his arms around her middle, pulling her against his strong chest.

The air conditioning chills her arms, but his embrace invigorates her pulse. “And of the hunt.”

“Like all women.”


“Like you.” He turns her around in his arms and stares at her parted lips.

She sucks in a breath, anticipating the sweetness of his mouth.

“You make me hunt you.” With brutal force, he leans in and kisses her, holding her close in his strong, determined arms.

She struggles against his hold, but only enough to free her arms, reach up around his neck, and pull him closer. She nips his lip and then submits to his need, opening her mouth and drawing in his tongue.

Purchase now!



Other Books by Pavarti

Two Moons of Sera

Consumed By Love

Shadow on the Wall

White Chalk

Protecting Portia: Coming May 19, 2014

Dual Domination: Coming December 2014



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Welcome, Iris Blobel!

We are excited to welcome fellow Astraea Press author Iris Blobel today with her Beginnings novels. Not to mention, I find it totally cool that she was born and raised in Germany where we are on tour for a few years with my husband’s job. Small world, huh? That said, enjoy the feature about New Beginnings and More Beginnings! –Jo


New Beginnings

~~To believe in New Beginnings is to trust in tomorrow ~~


New BeginningsTwenty-two-year-old Sophie Levesque has been guardian to eight-year-old sister Mia since their mother’s death a few years ago. Luck comes their way when they inherit a small house in Hobart. Problem is, though, they don’t know or have even heard of Clara Bellinger, the testator, and Sophie is afraid it’s all been a mistake.

As Mia settles well into her new school and life in general, Sophie is not only occupied by her search of what connected her to Clara, but also her new studies and the two men, who suddenly have become part of her daily life – Mark O’Connor, the lawyer representing Clara’s estate, and Zach, the hunk from across the road.





You can purchase your own digital copy of New Beginnings from any of these retailers. Just click and buy!

Astraea Press (Publisher) ~♣~ ~♣~ ~♣~Barnes & Noble ~♣~Smashwords ~♣~ Kobo Books



New Beginnings Trailer




New Beginnings Excerpt

Sophie stared at the attorney, waiting for some answers. She and her sister, Mia, had been quietly sitting in Mr. O’Connor’s office for more than half an hour, and had learnt about the details of their inheritance.


“Clara Catherine Bellinger.”

“Who is she?” Mia asked.

Startled by the subtle sound of the clock chiming across the road, Sophie’s gaze turned to the window, where she saw the post office building across the road. It looked impressive and old.

Surely, an old place like this would have its own ghosts — after all, Hobart was renowned for its lively spirits.

Her younger sister’s gentle touch on her arm reminded her she hadn’t answered the question, yet. “I wouldn’t have a clue.”

Sophie shrugged and focused her attention back on Mr. O’Connor. Although hearing his words, she still found it hard to comprehend. Here she was in this old office, furnished with heavy antique oak furniture, the curtains in a pretty shade of Aubergine, and the carpet beneath her shoes thick and warm in a matching shade.

“I believe she was a distant relative of yours. I’m afraid I don’t have any further details,” he replied.

Sophie arched an eyebrow in disbelief. Was he serious? What kind of lawyer was he? Sure, Tasmania was at the very end of Australia, but wouldn’t they have the same education?

With a slight shrug of her shoulder, she asked, “Why not?”



More Beginnings

~~Embracing More Beginnings is showing faith in tomorrow~~


It’s been six years since Sophie and Mia inherited a house from Clara Bellinger.More Beginnings

Life is good for the now teenaged Mia, even if she does have to deal with a dragon lady for a teacher. But then a man named Darren Schuster shows up in Hobart. Mia knows something is up when Sophie and Mark cut their weekend away short and rush home in the middle of the night. When Sophie won’t answer Mia’s questions, emotions run high, and Zach, the neighbour from across the road, confirms Darren’s identity to Mia. Disappointed, angry and feeling alone, Mia runs away.

Zach had been watching Mia for his friends while they took a much needed weekend away. When the late Clara Bellinger’s ex-husband, Darren, showed up, bringing Sophie and Mark home from their trip, Mia is filled with questions. But it’s Zach who gives Mia the answers she’s seeking. When she runs off, he must find her. He enlists the help of her teacher, Miss Peterson, and finds out that the ‘dragon’, is really more of a kitten. How will they find Mia and can they help her come to terms with the truth?


You can purchase your own digital copy of More Beginnings from any of these retailers. Just click and buy! ~♣~ ~♣~ Barnes & Noble ~♣~Smashwords ~♣~ Kobo Books


More Beginnings Excerpt

Mia let out a mighty sigh. She had joined Zach at the front porch and sat next to him on the swing. Enjoying a cool drink, he asked her to grab a soft drink from the fridge as well. It was a warm summer day, and the air showed no sign of cooling down. A lot of people in Hobart were tired and weary of the unusual hot spell for the very southern Australian city.

With another hefty sigh, Mia raked through her long, blond hair and focused into the distance.

“Honestly, Zach, she’s a dragon. I’m sure she does that on purpose. She doesn’t like me. She thinks I’m spoilt.”
The dragon was Miss Peterson, Mia’s high school English teacher. Mia liked school and enjoyed her classes. English wasn’t her worst subject, but it certainly was the toughest, with Miss Peterson piling on homework one after the other.

Zach sipped on his drink. “Hey, pumpkin, settle down. What is that supposed to mean ‘you’re spoilt’?”

She shrugged. “You know!”

His eyebrows shot up. “Actually I don’t know! Isn’t she Sophie’s good friend?”

Another shrug. “Kinda, I s’pose. They used to do the boxing stuff together, and since Soph’s carrying a baby, they go and enjoy cake instead.”

Ignoring his laugh and the subject, she went inside and helped herself to cold lemonade. She opened the can with a simple click and took a long sip. “Man, it’s hot.”

Zach seemed to ponder on that thought just like Mia, when she suddenly said, “You need to cut the grass, Zach.”

He almost spilled the drink. “Good grief, thanks, honey.” There wasn’t much yard in front of Zach’s house. A flagstone path crossed the patch of lawn, and he’d kept the rest of the garden as low maintenance as possible. But he loved sitting on the front porch, watching the world go by.

He placed his arm around her and drew her in a bit closer. “Have you talked to Soph about your teacher?”

She nodded. “Yes. Her reply was that for most fourteen-year-old girls all the teachers seem like dragons. She remembers her science teacher who gave her a hard time. She blames it on my hormones because she thinks,” Mia snorted and then continued, “Miss Peterson is a really nice person.”

He chuckled, which earned him a momentary glare from Mia.

Zach shrugged his left shoulder. “I s’pose she has a point.”



About Iris Blobel

iris blobelIris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London as well as Canada where she actually had met her future husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper has only recently emerged, but now her laptop is a constant companion. Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her beautiful two daughters as well as their dog. Next to her job at a private school she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio.


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