Archive for the 'Womens Lit' Category

Monday, June 16th, 2014

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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Posted by Jo Grafford | Filed in Comedy, Contemporary, Fiction, Humor, Womens Lit | Comment now »


Monday, May 5th, 2014

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!

Author Social Media Links:

Website & Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ 





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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Posted by Jo Grafford | Filed in Drama, Erotica, Fiction, Uncategorized, Womens Lit | Comment now »


Monday, April 7th, 2014

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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Posted by Jo Grafford | Filed in Contemporary, Drama, Fiction, Romance, Uncategorized, Womens Lit | 2 Comments »


Monday, March 31st, 2014

Welcome, Amelia James!

Highlighted Author welcomes contemporary romance writer and self-proclaimed Wisconsin Cheesehead (we’ll try to forgive her of that) Amelia James. She’s been hooked on romance novels for a very long time – at least well before her own mother thought she should be – and finally started penning her own “escape reads” as an adult. If you’re into bad boy heroes and tough heroines who are up to the challenge, Amelia’s College Romance Series is going to be a real treat.


Book #1 College Romance Series – Tell Me You Want Me

…“I can give you exactly what you’re asking for, Janie, and I can give it to you all night long.”…

"I can give you exactly what you're asking for..."

“I can give you exactly what you’re asking for…”


Their first kiss is impulsive, fun, a little wicked—everything Jane Elliot isn’t looking for in a man, but desperately needs.Their second kiss is slow, deliberate, an instant connection—everything Austin Sinclair never had with a woman, and doesn’t want.

Jane is no easy conquest, not the type of woman Austin’s used to. Stubborn as hell, and a bookworm more interested in studying than dating, she needs a little—no, a lot—of fun in her life. Well,Austin’s just the guy who can give it to her.

Too bad she thinks love should be easy. Too bad Austin knows it isn’t.

Everybody  told her to stay away from the heartbreaker, but Jane knows there’s more to Austin than full-body contact kisses and bad boy charm. He promised her a good time—nothing more—and wow… does he ever deliver!

SPECIAL NOTE: Tell Me You Want Me is the first book in the “College Romance” series. Be sure to check out the second book in the series, Secret Storm.

Purchase now!

Evolved PublishingAmazon


Book #2 College Romance Series – Secret Storm

"I want to let you in..."

“I want to let you in…”

…“I want to let you in, Jack, but I…. Oh hell, I just want you. I know you’re not what I need, but I don’t care. Take me to bed now and we’ll sort the rest out later.”…

The last thing Sara Jensen needs is another risky relationship. She wants Jack, but she’s been hurt too many times to trust him, even though he’s more than a friend. Jack won’t trust her, and that hurts more than her ex’s betrayal.

Jack Wheeler wants Sara. His long-denied lust burns barely contained. But a dangerous secret comes back to haunt him, a secret so horrible he can’t trust anyone with it, not even the woman he desires more than anything.

For the first time since they met, they’re both available, but the timing couldn’t be worse. Sara’s not too eager to trust a man again, and Jack refuses to reveal his secret. Getting involved right now is complicated, but Sara and Jack have waited long enough. Neither one of them can control their desires.

But there’s a storm approaching, and as hard as she tries, Sara can’t run away from Jack’s past. Jack won’t accept her help, and Sara doesn’t know how long she can wait for him to realize that he needs her.

Purchase now!

Evolved Publishing | Amazon


A Word From Amelia

ameliaJamesI got hooked on trashy romance novels in junior high, but my mom took them away from me, But she couldn’t stop me from daydreaming. After I got married, I wrote some of my naughtier daydreams down and sent them to Playgirl magazine. Two of them got published. I kept daydreaming and writing stories until my dirty stories turned into trashy books.

I live in Colorado, but I’ll always be a loyal Wisconsin Cheesehead. When I’m not lusting after my next bad boy hero, I’m looking for inspiration in sci-fi and action movies, football players, morally ambiguous lawyers, muscle cars, and kick-butt chicks.

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Monday, February 17th, 2014

Welcome Cynthia D’Alba


Join me in welcoming Cynthia D’Alba to Highlighted Author.

Romance author, Cynthia D’Alba, was born and raised in Arkansas. After wandering the world for 17 years (okay, it was Memphis, but to her it felt like another world!), she made it home again. She lives in a small vine covered cottage on the shores of a 8,000 acre lake with 2 dogs, a crabby (okay, she used a stronger word for it) parrot and her fisherman husband. Live is good.

D'Alba RT BooksigningWelcome, Cynthia. Please tell us about yourself.

Hi All! Cynthia D’Alba here. I was born, raised and educated in Arkansas. I hold a BS in Nursing, MS in Curriculum & Instruction, MBA and doctorate in Higher Education Administration. From about age three, I’ve been a reader. I spent summers living in the county library reading everything from the Autobiography of Malcolm X to the Trixie Belden Mysteries. It was rare to not find me with a book in my hands, and that’s still true all these years later. After I left the daily workforce grind, I began reading at least a book a day. After about a year (and a thousand read books) later, my husband suggested I try to write a book. Bottom line is I started writing on a challenge from my husband in 2006 and discovered having imaginary sex with lots of hunky men was fun.


Want to hear her Southern Accent? She did an interview on Feb 4, 2014 

Authors on the Air Books Too

How did you come to write your featured title, Texas Fandango?

I started finaling and winner RWA chapter contests in 2007, but I was kind of rudderless. I tried different romance genres, lengths, heroes, etc. I think most newbie writers go through that. I found my voice in contemporary westerns. My first book, Texas Two Step, released in 2012 to outstanding reviews, was a Samhain Publishing best seller. The second book in the Texas Montgomery Mavericks series, Texas Tango, released November 5, 2013, again from Samhain Publishing. Texas Fandango, a book three in the Texas Montgomery Series released February 4, 2014 by Samhain Publishing. I am thrilled to announce that I sold book 4 in the Texas Montgomery Mavericks series (Texas Twist) last week to Samhain.

Texas Fandango was such a fun book to write. I went off for a week of writing with three writing buddies and when I came home, the book was about 80% completed. I love the book because it technically wasn’t supposed to exist. It was never in my plans to write. The hero of the book, Drake Gentry, is the ex-husband of the heroine in book 1, Texas Two Step. He was supposed to be a secondary character who walks on stage, says his lines and exits. Except my readers really love him, geeky stud that he was. My heroine, KC Montgomery, never existed under I was writing book 2, Texas Tango, and she just showed up…unannounced. Sort of like someone from the audience jumping on stage during a play and joining into the action. But you know what? I didn’t mind. I really love KC. She’s strong and independent and smart…exactly why Drake needs, even if he didn’t realize it. Here’s a little more about the book…

Two weeks on a beach can deepen more than just their tans.


Texas Fandango

Texas Montgomery Mavericks, Book 3


KC Montgomery was eleven when she met the love of her life. Of course, seventeen-year-old Drake Gentry didn’t know she existed, but that didn’t stop her girlish fantasies from growing and changing over the years.

Now, after enjoying a front-row seat to his breakup with his latest girlfriend, she’s been handed an all-grown-up fantasy come true—two weeks at the Sand Castle Resort. With him.

Drake most definitely noticed KC a long time ago, but the timing’s never been right. Now that he’s facing a lonely vacation that was supposed to be for two, it seems only natural to accept KC’s offer to fill in. And as far as her terms go… No strings. No expectations. No holds barred. Drake is no fool—he’s all over it.

But once they’re back in Texas there are invisible strings still hanging between them. Strings labeled attraction, affection…even love. And the more they try to untangle the knots, the tighter they’re bound together.

Warning: Beware of sunburns, whirlpool sex and sand in delicate places.


Sound interesting? Check out one of the purchase links below or your favorite online store.

Amazon | Barnes & Nobles | Samhain


She loves to hear from readers and there are lots of ways to find her. Online, you can find her most days at her website or group blog. Or sign up for her newsletter for the inside scoop and newsletter contests. Follow her at Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Goodreads or Pinterest, or email her at

To send her snail mail, write to: Cynthia D’Alba PO Box 2116 Hot Springs, AR 71914


Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a jar of delicious-smelling, orange-scented hand lotion.

She also has a Rafflecopter drawing going until tomorrow! You’ll want to enter that too! Check it out here….

Thanks to gal pal Charlene for having me here today!


Posted by CharleneAWilson | Filed in Contemporary, Fiction, Uncategorized, Womens Lit | 6 Comments »


Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Welcome Andrea McKenzie Raine

Join me in welcoming Andrea McKenzie Raine to Highlighted Author.


Welcome, Andrea. Please tell us about yourself and how you came into writing.

author_photoI have always been writing – since I was first asked to keep a journal in the first grade. In elementary school, when teachers gave our class creative writing assignments, I became really excited while all of the other kids groaned. I had a wonderful teacher in the third grade who told me she expected to see a book written by me one day. That moment was pivotal. I began writing poetry and short stories at an early age; it is simply in my blood. I attended the University of Victoria and studied English Literature and Creative Writing. I earned a B.A. in English Literature in 2000. I also have a post-degree Certificate in Public Relations. I have been employed in government writing positions since graduating from university.

I have attended a long-running successful reading series called Planet Earth Poetry (formerly Mocambopo) in Victoria, BC, since 1997, and published my first book of poetry, A Mother’s String, through Ekstasis Editions in 2005. I wanted to write a novel, and after a two-month solo backpacking trip through Western Europe in the summer of 1998, I felt I had a little more to say.


Tell us about your debut novel, Turnstiles.

I hope that readers will consider different ways of looking at the world, and the circumstances of people, all of us, in this world. Turnstiles is a work of literary fiction, but it is also a make-up of observations and challenging questions about power struggles, social classes, gender battles, and the possibility and courage to break through or cross over these stigmas. I suppose I hope that the reader finds a piece of him or herself in the characters, and that it resonates. Ultimately, I hope readers will enjoy the characters, their vulnerability and strength, and the journey.

I have written a first draft for a prequel novella to Turnstiles, which lends the backstory to a character who is deceased from the beginning of the novel. This character is significant, as his actions have caused a great domino effect for the main characters in Turnstiles.


 What they’re saying:

Turnstiles by Andrea McKenzie Raine is the story of different people as they struggle through common social problems. To me, the book is divided into sections or novellas. Three stories blend as one. The plot is creative, the work is ambitious as well as engrossing and addictive…”- The Drunken Druid





Martin Sourdough is a homeless person who has chosen to turn his back on the corporate, material world; Willis Hancocks Jr. is a barrister, an alcoholic philanderer, and a misogynist; and Evelyn (aka Yvonne) is a prostitute. Turnstiles speaks to these social problems through the smaller scope of each character’s individual trials. There is a struggle that exists between the need to serve one’s own needs and the expectation to participate in the larger social scheme. Martin and Willis are both trying to fit into the world, but on their own terms. They are naïve, searching for an Eden-like state of being. Through a broader experience of personal fortune, misfortune, travel, and social interactions, they each learn to accept their paths and take control of their own destinies.



GR icon
                                                                                  gr enter
Giveaway dates: Jan 23 – Feb 28, 2014
5 copies available, 175 people requesting
Countries available: US





Turnstiles cover photoThe radio alarm clock began to hum in Willis Hancocks’ hotel room, which he rented in downtown London. He groaned, rolled over, and slapped his hand on the off button without looking. He rolled back and stared groggily at the dented pillow beside him. She was already gone, and he was trying to recollect the night before. He rolled his eyes towards the dresser. There was his wallet, open and most likely empty. His pants lay crumpled beside the dresser. He rubbed his hands over his face and gave a self-deprecating chuckle. Then he began to rise. He was anything but happy. She had definitely served her purpose, but the others had been more professional, and much more discreet. When this happened, he usually didn’t realize he had been robbed until hours later, when he found himself at a store counter fumbling for his credit cards.

“You cheeky little bitch,” Willis mumbled to himself as he flipped through his wallet. She hadn’t been discreet, but she had been thorough. Even his lucky franc coin from his trip to Paris was gone. It must have caught her eye. Ignorant street kid.

“She’ll never use it,” he mumbled. “Never in a million years.” And, suddenly, he felt vulnerable without it. He was used to having small charms in his pockets. They were little reminders that there was some luck in the universe, good or bad. That afternoon he was going to the courthouse to hear his father’s will. His father. He sure as hell had never been a dad. He hadn’t earned the title. Dads taught you how to play cricket on summer days. Fathers called from foreign cities to say, again, that they wouldn’t make it to the biggest day of your life.

Willis was tempted to throw the wallet in the wastebasket, but he gently placed it back on the dresser with an air of defeat.

An hour later, he was showered, sharply dressed, and hurriedly locking the hotel room behind him. He strolled with purpose through the chic lobby and out onto the pavement. He was not rushing to his appointment with excitement or even mild anticipation. He was rushing to get it all over with. He desired the whole matter to be dead and buried. There was a shameful question repeating itself over and over again in his head, and he tried desperately to ignore it … What did the bastard leave me? His only son. What did the bastard leave me? Bastard … bastard … bast— He began walking faster.

As he rounded the corner, the large, impersonal, grey building loomed before him, with its long, stone steps. He vaguely imagined guillotines. Willis couldn’t remember the streets he had walked, as though something else had brought him to this place without his knowing or consent. In many ways, it had. He did not want this part of his life to exist. Where was Occam’s razor for moments like these? How wonderful it would be to splice out all the undesirable bits.

Willis threw these encroaching thoughts from his mind and scurried up the stone steps. The engraved wooden doors looked large and imposing, but were surprisingly light and swung open with ease. Willis couldn’t help thinking that perhaps these doors were much like his father. If only he had taken the time to turn the doorknob. Once again he banished his useless mind chatter. None of it could be helped now. His father’s barrister, and friend, was waiting for him, perched on one of the many benches placed along the sides of the grand hallway. The white marble floor was immaculate. Almost so that, if he desired, he could see his reflection near his feet, but few dared to look at themselves in a courthouse.

The man rose to meet Willis. Willis knew this man well—too well. Sometimes the disappointing calls from his father would be telegrammed through this man’s voice.

“I’m sorry, son …” the voice would say, “your father has been held up in a meeting.” Even this man knew his father well enough to know he was only that. A father. A sperm donor. An absent male figure. The dictionary was far too generous with the word. Father. A male parent. God. One who originates, makes possible, or inspires something. The word dad was merely listed as a colloquial term or a shortcut for father. It was all so backwards.

“Hello, Willis,” the man said as he extended his hand, which was taken without hesitation. However, Willis shook hands limply. He was still overwhelmed by this place and these people and papers and things. They were all just things. Was he grieving? He didn’t know. It was all packed somewhere inside his big toe. Everything would take a very long time to reach his mouth and then his brain.

“Hi, Sam,” he answered in a voice that was barely audible. Sam motioned him into another room nearby. There were too many thresholds that day. The room was small and dimly lit. The blinds were down and the large desk and tall bookshelves seemed to judge Willis from their standpoints. Willis loosened his tie, feeling the musty tone of the heavy, dark brown books and neglected carpets. It was a furnished closet where many unsaid things happened.

“Would you like some coffee?” Sam offered. Willis thought he could use something a bit stronger, but he politely raised his hand in decline. Sam poured himself a cup and settled in behind the large oak desk. He folded and unfolded his hands and then laid them flat before him. There was no real sense of sorrow in the room, but the situation was delicate and Sam wasn’t sure where to begin. He didn’t want to touch a raw nerve.

“I have your father’s papers,” he began. He pulled an envelope out of a large, squeaky drawer in his desk and deftly handed it over. Willis didn’t make any move to accept it.

“Shouldn’t mother be here?” Willis stalled.

“Your mother conveyed point-blank that she isn’t interested in what he had to say.”

Willis nodded solemnly. She was still his widow, but he had been less than a husband to her. She had known the truth behind his unscheduled business trips years ago. However, she had kept quiet and continued to pack his lunch every morning and make pork chops every Tuesday night. It had been a different era then, and she probably made herself believe there was nowhere else for her to go. Maybe it would have been easier if he had run off and left her for good. Besides, she had to stay. She had Willis to think about. And now Hancocks Sr. was dead. The freedom of it was suffocating.


Get your copy of Turnstiles here: 

Ink Water Books | Amazon


Want more Andrea? Here’s where you can find her:

Facebook | Twitter


Posted by CharleneAWilson | Filed in Contemporary, Drama, Fiction, Uncategorized, Womens Lit | Comment now »


Monday, January 20th, 2014

Welcome Sarah Grimm

Join me in welcoming Sarah Grimm to Highlighted Author.


Sarah_GrimmHello, my name is Sarah Grimm, and I’m an addict. I read my first romance when I was twelve years old. I don’t recall the title, you think I would with something that changed my life so dramatically, but I don’t. The title doesn’t really matter does it? Because it was just the beginning for me. That one book led to another, then another. Pretty soon I was devouring romances like my life depended on them. Somehow, I didn’t see anything strange about that.

One day my mother walked into my room without knocking and she caught me reading.   I dropped that book so fast, tucking it under my thigh so she couldn’t see the cover! But I wasn’t fast enough. My mother knew what I was doing – reading romance in a ‘mystery’ house.

She kept an eye on me after that, locating all the paperback and hardcovers in my closet and under my bed. She told me I had a problem. I told her I couldn’t stop – even to make her happy. Instead, I lured her into my world. I gave her her first romance, then her second; her third. She is stronger than me – romance never took control of her the way it did me.

I began reading romance everywhere: curled in the corner of the couch while the family watched television, in the back of the classroom while the teacher talked biology. I didn’t need to learn biology, I had romance novels. I couldn’t get enough – the promise of happily-ever-after, of love being enough to heal all wounds. *sigh*

In no time at all my addiction grew stronger. Just reading romances wasn’t enough. Suddenly I had this urge, this new and frightening, uncontrollable urge…to write. I wasn’t strong enough to resist. Who is? I began carrying a notebook with me everywhere I went. A notebook I filled with dialogue and partial chapters, story ideas and possible titles. Some days it got so bad that the world around me faded away. While my friends enjoyed the sun or the lake, I wrote.

It’s hard for some people to understand, this addiction to romance. I’ve endured the odd looks, the smirks, and even those that say “You’re poisoning your brain with that stuff.”

Well guess what? If stories that celebrate falling in love, emotion and commitment are poison, I don’t want the antidote. I love the stuttered heartbeats when the hero and heroine first meet, the gut punch of sexual awareness. My heart races with the sweetness of that first kiss, and the momentary panic over the realization they’ve fallen in love. I thrive on the idea how even at the worst of times, at those moments when you least expect it, two people can find love.

Yes my friends, I’m an addict, and happily-ever-after is my drug of choice.

Currently I’m feeding my addiction by working on Midnight Heat, the second book in the Black Phoenix Series. A reunion romance about a man who doesn’t tend to keep anything in his life. But then he suffers a concussion, and opens his eyes to the one thing he wishes he’d never let go.

I want to take a moment to thank Charlene and Highlighted Author for the opportunity to share After Midnight: Black Phoenix #1, with you today.


What they’re saying:

“Hot and sweet, with suspense that’ll keep you guessing!” Laura Kaye, NYT Bestselling Author of One Night with a Hero

“It’s a special feeling when you start reading a novel not expecting much but are immediately drawn into the storyline, then by the end of the second chapter you are captivated… After Midnight was a compelling, sensual page-turner and I was sorry when it concluded.” – 5 Bookies & A Favorite Read of 2011, Book Lovers, Inc

“After Midnight is one hell of a love story! I was hooked at the end of the first chapter. I had to read more. I had to know more. And Sarah Grimm definitely delivered more.” 5  Stars, Fire Pages



After Midnight:

Black Phoenix #1

Can music heal the fractured soul…or will it tear them apart forever?



Thirteen years—that’s how long Isabeau Montgomery has been living a lie. After an automobile accident took her mother’s life, Izzy hid herself away, surviving the only way she knew how. Now she is happy in her carefully reconstructed life. That is until he walks through the door of her bar…

Black Phoenix singer/front man Noah Clark came to Long IslandCity with a goal–one that doesn’t include an instant, electric attraction to the dark-haired beauty behind the bar. Coaxing her into his bed won’t be easy, but he can’t get her pale, haunted eyes nor her skill on the piano out of his head.

Can Noah help Isabeau overcome the past? Or will her need to protect her secret force her back into hiding and destroy their chance at happiness?



Adult Content


AM_cover01_533x800“I’m not the type of woman men fall for.”

“I’ve fallen for you.”

Heat flooded her system. She forced herself to breathe, to keep her eyes locked with his. “No you haven’t. You …”

He pushed off the mantel and stepped in her direction. “I, what?”

“Never mind.”

“Finish the sentence, Isabeau.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Then let me.” He closed the distance between them. “You were going to say I haven’t fallen for you, weren’t you? You actually believe him? That you’re nothing more to me than convenient?”

Her pulse throbbed thick and hard. Heat radiated off his body. The scent of him filled her head. She wanted, more than anything, to press herself against him and relive the pleasure of his mouth against hers. Instead, she lifted her chin. “Maybe.”

He leaned in close. So close his breath brushed across her lips. “You believe him, but not me?”

“You are here only temporarily.”


“And I am just down the street.”

“I suppose.”

She ran her tongue over her dry lips. “So the whole thing does seem rather—”

“Don’t say it.”


Something dangerous came and went in his eyes. “Now I’m getting angry.”

His hands skimmed down her sides, slipped under her shirt and settled on her lace-covered bottom. Her breath went uneven. Searing need swarmed her.

“You want something to believe, believe this.” He pulled her into the solid ridge of his erection. She lost her concentration. “There is nothing convenient about the way I feel about you.”


“You think you’re not the type to draw a man’s attention, think again. I can’t stand in the same room as you without wanting to taste you. I can’t taste you without wanting to taste all of you.”

Oh, God. Her knees turned to jelly. A hot, wet pulse came to life between her legs.

“If you can’t see in yourself what it is that I see, feel what you do to me.” Taking hold of her wrist, he placed her hand in the center of his chest.

His heart was racing. She tipped her head back and looked into his eyes. Her bones began to liquefy.

“The way you’re looking at me,” she whispered.

“How am I looking at you?”

“Like I’m important.”

“You are.”

She swallowed hard, wanting to believe him. “Like I’m beautiful.”

His lips brushed across her temple and her eyes drifted shut. “I wish you could see yourself the way I see you. Then you would know how beautiful you are.”

Her eyes snapped open as he spun her in his arms. His hands settled on her shoulders, drawing her back against his chest. She gasped at their image reflected in the trio of mirrors that hung on her wall. When had this become a seduction?


Get your copy of After Midnight: Black Phoenix #1 at Amazon . 


Want more Sarah? Here’s where you can find her:


Posted by CharleneAWilson | Filed in Drama, Erotica, Fiction, Romance, Uncategorized, Womens Lit | 5 Comments »


Monday, December 30th, 2013

Welcome Jo Grafford

Join me in welcoming Jo Grafford to Highlighted Author.


Jo GraffordJo Grafford is an award-winning historical fiction author at Astraea Press. She writes to spotlight unsung heroes and unsolved mysteries. She published her first poem in junior high, edited her high school newspaper while typesetting for a local news journal, and has been writing ever since. She holds an M.B.A. and has served as a banker, a junior college finance instructor, and a high school business teacher. She is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America and From the Heart Romance Writers RWA Chapter. The mother of three children and the wife of a soldier, she serves as a literacy volunteer for elementary school students.

She’s with us this week sharing her novel, Breaking Ties.




Breaking Ties

A cursed island, a chilling conspiracy, and an unforgettable love story. The 115 colonists on Roanoke Island couldn’t GPS, skype or twitter their ultimate destination back to their families and friends in 16th Century England. But modern laser technology has finally uncovered a clue – hidden beneath a patch on an ancient map at the British museum – that leads us to their whereabouts. Considered “lost” for centuries, these brave pioneers finally reveal the rest of their story in Book One of the Lost Colony Series.

Rose Payne’s world is left in tatters after a disastrous betrothal, making her an easy target for recruiters to the Colonies. Using every cent she has, Rose sails for the New World and a fresh start, vowing to never again fall for a wealthy man.

Returning from a diplomatic tour in London, Chief Manteo is bewitched by the fiery-haired ship’s clerk and determined to overcome her distrust. He contrives a daring plan to win her heart – one that forces her, honor bound, to serve as a slave to his tribe – a plan he prays will protect her from a chilling conspiracy involving murder, blood money, and a betrayal of their fledgling colony so terrifying it can only be revealed in Breaking Ties.


Book Trailer




Breaking Ties“You want my help.” ‘Twas an accusation.


His eyes darkened. “I save your life. I give gifts. I offer marriage.” He closed the remaining distance between us, his eyes burning into mine.

I stumbled back.

“You give nothing in return,” he snarled. “You only ask for more.”

“I would had I something to offer,” I whispered. “But I have nothing. I am nothing.”

“Then what use are you to me?” He wheeled away.

I sagged against the door, eyes stinging. I blinked rapidly and pressed a hand to my stomach. Nausea rolled at the thought of informing the others of my failure.

Manteo circled the cabin like a hawk stalking its prey. ‘Twas a fine room with ornately carved shelves lining one wall. Bunks were built into the next wall. A generous desk jutted from the third, overflowing with maps and navigational devices. I recognized the compass and hourglass but could not identify the other instruments. I jerked in surprise when Manteo swooped down upon me.

“I know our location.” His arms shot out and slapped the wall on either side of me, hemming me to the door. “I could swim ashore from here.”

“Then why do ye stay if ye can leave and save yourself?”

“Governor White gave his word to deliver me home.”

“We are going to starve, Manteo. ‘Tis only a matter of days now.”

“Nay. You alone starve. The others eat.”

“I have no appetite.”

“You act as one already dead.”

I straightened my back. “I accept what I cannot change.”

“And I change what I cannot accept.” He shifted his weight to the wall, one arm propped over my head. He drew his fingertips down the side of my face in a feather-light caress.

I closed my eyes against the rush of unbearable sweetness. He made me long for things forbidden. “‘Tis within your power to help us. I am begging you.”

“Very well.”

My eyes flew open. “Ye will do this for us.”

“For you.” His voice was silken, his features as hard as granite.

I smiled tremulously. “I thank thee, Manteo. Chief Manteo, that is.” The new title felt strange on my lips. I beheld him with a mixture of awe and pride.

“I have yet to name my price.”

I stared, confused.

He grunted in disgust. “You refuse me as both husband and lover, so you are left with the hiring of my services.”

I worried my lower lip between my teeth. At least he was willing to negotiate. His eyes flashed with lust as he followed my movements.

“I will entreat the Dares for payment.”

“Nay. You are the one in my debt.”

I raised and dropped my hands helplessly.

“You serve this company, no? You can serve my people, too.”

“Ye would hire me as clerk?” Hope leaped in my chest at the possibilities. I would not have to part from him so soon.

“My people have no clerks.” His eyes narrowed. “We have slaves.”

My breath hitched. “Ye wish to punish me, humiliate me?”

“Nay, I only wish to marry you.”

I briefly closed my eyes against the pain. He already knew the reason for my refusal.


“Say no more. I will do it. ‘Twill be punishment enough to see you so often and—“ I clamped my lips.

Exultation flickered briefly across his face. “You would give up your freedom to save your friends?”

“Without question.”

“Swear it,” he said grimly.

“I swear it.”

His eyes flared with emotion. He bent slowly ’til his breath stirred my lips. My eyelids fluttered closed. Heaven help me, for I had no will left to resist him.

“Now you will eat,” Manteo commanded hoarsely. He stepped back, surveying me from head to feet.


“I have no slaves so thin and weak. Go. Collect your rations.” He turned from me and bent to pore over a map on the table.

I reached for the door handle, disbelieving at the curt dismissal.

“And send for Anthony. I have need of him.”

I glared at his back. Faith, should I press my face to the floor as well? “Aye, master.” I bit the words out and fled.
Get your copy of Breaking Ties at Amazon  


Want more Jo? Here’s where you can find her:

Author site:



Monday, December 16th, 2013

Welcome Joanne Guidoccio

Join me in welcoming Joanne Guidoccio to Highlighted Author.


In high school, Joanne dreamed of writing the great Canadian novel. She wrote several poems and short stories,  but decided to wait until she had more life experiences before starting a novel. The original plan was to get a general arts degree and take a few years off to travel and write.

Guidoccio 001Instead, she gave in to her practical Italian side and got degrees in mathematics and education. She planned to teach during the day and spend her evenings, weekends and holidays churning out best-selling novels.

That was the dream.

The reality was very different.

Welcome, Joanne. Please tell us more.

In June of 2008, I took advantage of early retirement and left a 31-year teaching career. At the time, I had only a vague idea of what life after retirement would look like. Sleeping in each morning. Leisurely breakfasts. More traveling. Trying out new hobbies. Volunteering in the community.

Those were the pat answers I gave to anyone who asked about my plans for the future. I would then end each “retirement” conversation with one of my favorite quotations from Eckhart Tolle: When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.

All wonderful and enlightening in theory, but the reality was very different. After one month of leisure, I realized that I needed much more than this patchwork of activities. Goals and structure—words I thought I had left behind started creeping up again. A part-time job would definitely take care of both, but I was determined not to take that road. Instead, I resurrected a writing dream from my high school years.

Within days of making this decision, I received a call from an editor who offered to publish one of my travel articles. Excited, I started Joanne Guidoccio, Wordsmith and ordered my first set of business cards.

That first article was only beginner’s luck

It took twenty-one months to get another article published. In the meantime, I attended creative writing workshops, took online courses, and continued to send out queries. Slowly, a writing practice emerged and my articles, book reviews and short stories started appearing in newspapers, magazines and online. This was gratifying, but it wasn’t enough to satisfy my creative bent. I wanted more.

“More” translated into a novel. In my case, two novels: A Season for Killing Blondes and Between Land and Sea. While literary agents and acquisition editors were amused by the premise—a brunette lottery winner never has an alibi when dead blondes turn up in dumpsters near her favorite haunts—they passed on the novel.

On a whim, I started attending workshops facilitated by science fiction and horror writer Sarah Totton. At first, I only listened as the other participants chatted about werewolves, witches, zombies and dystopian worlds. Toward the end of the sessions, I wondered if I could write fantasy that would appeal to a different demographic—boomer women and their older sisters.

What if…

A mermaid is aged thirty years and given twenty extra pounds to carry. Could she survive abandonment and reinvent herself?

It took me three months to write the first draft of Between Land and Sea. After a year of editing and polishing, senior editor Debby Gilbert of Soul Mate Publishing offered me a contract. The ebook is now available on Amazon.

Currently, I’m working on The Coming of Arabella, the second book in the Mediterranean trilogy. Another mermaid rises from the depths, determined to wreak havoc in the lives of older ex-mermaids. A Season for Killing Blondes and It Comes Out of Nowhere, a memoir of my cancer experience, are sitting on the back burner.


Between Land and Sea


between land and sea

After giving up her tail for an international banker, Isabella of the Mediterranean kingdom is aged, weathered, and abandoned on the fog-drenched shores of southwest England. She faces her human journey as a plain and practically destitute fifty-three-year-old woman.

With the help of a magic tablet and online mermaid support, she reinvents herself as a career counselor, motivational speaker, and writer of self-help books. Along the way, she encounters a cast of unforgettable characters, among them former mermaids, supportive and not-so-supportive women, deserving and undeserving men, and several New Agers. As Isabella evolves into Barbara Davies, she embraces her middle-aged body, heals her bruised heart, and learns to love again.





Book Trailers

When I asked my brothers to compose the music for the trailer of Between Land and Sea, they exceeded all expectations and delivered two beautiful songs. Unable to choose between them, I decided to use both versions and hired videographer Erin Kelly to produce the trailers.

I am happy and proud to share “Father Time Blinked” (Augy Guidoccio/Lillian Liber) and “It’s Your Time” (Ernie Guidoccio/Joanne Guidoccio) with all of you.





Isabella stumbled as she got out of bed and tried to balance herself on the stumps that now served as permanent legs. She willed herself not to cry as she recalled the magnificent tail that had been the envy of the Mediterranean kingdom. Her mother and grandmother had also been blessed with the same tail. Now only Annabella held this birthright.

She heard her stomach growl and thought longingly of her favorite kelp dish. She closed her eyes and visualized the steaming goodness that would satisfy her hunger. And then she remembered that she could no longer manifest her desires.

No more powers. No more comfort and ease.

Her lips trembled as she looked about the small, neat room filled with large wooden pieces and smaller metallic ones. She tried to move one of the larger pieces and then gave up in frustration. Andrew had promised her a beautiful home with servants, and now she must live this life of ordinary humans.

The flickering of a green light caught her attention. She approached and noticed the tablet lying on one of the wooden surfaces. It was blinking at her. Tentatively, she touched the green light. The blinking stopped and a smiling face materialized.

“Greetings, Isabella. I am Lisa738. Annabella has asked me to guide you through your orientation.”

Isabella frowned and tried to recall her connection to this lowly mermaid from the Numbers class.

Lisa738 explained, “Since this is your first time using a tablet, I will describe some of its features. Whenever you press the green light, I will appear on this screen. Underneath the screen are a series of buttons that you will learn how to use.” She paused. “Am I going too quickly for you?”

Isabella had a sudden flash from her youth as she recalled a small, helpless, uncoordinated mermaid who could not keep up. She also remembered the wicked laughter and cruel taunts she had hurled at Lisa738. “No, go on. I’m listening.”

“Some of the buttons are raised and shiny. If you touch them, you will notice they have a smooth finish. Their glaze has been treated with magnetic ions. Go ahead and peel off one of the coatings.”

Isabella picked up the button closest to her and slowly and deliberately peeled off its coating. She looked up expectantly at Lisa738.

“Good. Now place the button on your left temple. The ions from the button will penetrate your skin and enter your brain. It will take only a few seconds for all the information from the button to enter your consciousness. When you feel a tiny surge of energy, move on to the next button. Each button has been programmed to give you enough information to survive as Barbara Davies, your new earth identity.”

Isabella hesitated and then followed the instructions. Lisa738 watched and nodded in approval as Isabella proceeded to absorb the ions from ten different buttons. By the end, Isabella felt her body separating from her as she grabbed hold of a chair.

Where did that word come from?


Get your copy of Between Land and Sea on Amazon.



Want more Joanne? Here’s where you can find her:



Posted by CharleneAWilson | Filed in Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Uncategorized, Womens Lit | 4 Comments »


Monday, October 14th, 2013

Welcome Collette Cameron

Join me in welcoming Collette Cameron to Highlighted Author.

Collette CameronMulti-published historical romance author Collette Cameron has a BS in Liberal Studies and a Master’s in Teaching. She only teaches part-time so she has time for her greatest passion: writing. Collette’s been married for 30 years, has 3 amazing adult children, and 5 dachshunds. Collette loves a good joke, inspirational quotes, flowers, the beach, trivia, birds, shabby chic, and Cadbury Chocolate. You’ll always find dogs, birds, quirky—sometimes naughty—humor, and a dash of inspiration in her novels. Her motto for life? You can’t have too much chocolate, too many hugs, or too many flowers. She’s thinking about adding shoes to that list.

She’s with us this week to share her novel, The Viscount’s Vow.


What they’re saying:

“…brilliant memorable ride …You cannot help but being dazzled by the rich characters and setting of this romantic story.” ~Romance Reader Girl

“A very enjoyable and riveting read by Ms. Cameron!” ~My Book Addiction

“Brilliant historical romance that you won’t be able to put down.” ~Pure Jonel Blot

“Just freakin’ AWESOME.” ~Inside BJs Head Blog


The Viscount’s Vow


Amidst murder and betrayal, destiny and hearts collide when scandal forces a viscount and a gypsy noblewoman to marry in this Regency romance, sprinkled with suspense and humor.

Part Romani, part English noblewoman, Evangeline Caruthers is the last woman in England Ian Hamilton, the Viscount Warrick, could ever love—an immoral wanton responsible for his brother’s and father’s deaths. She thinks he’s a foul-tempered blackguard, who after setting out to cause her downfall, finds himself forced to marry her—snared in the trap of his own making.

When Vangie learns the marriage ceremony itself may have been a ruse, she flees to her gypsy relatives, declaring herself divorced from Ian under Romani law. He pursues her to the gypsy encampment, and when the handsome gypsy king offers to take Ian’s place in Vangie’s bed, jealousy stirs hot and dangerous.

At last, under a balmy starlit sky, Ian and Vangie breech the chasm separating them. Peril lurks though. Ian’s the last in his line, and his stepmother intends to dispose of the newlyweds so her daughter can inherit his estate. Only by trusting each other can they overcome scandal and murderous betrayal.


Book Trailer



 Wedding Reception Scene


TheViscountsVow3_850“You didn’t eat much, wife.”

They were alone on the dance floor. Ian deftly twirled Vangie around his aunt’s smallish ballroom, mindful of the interested gazes watching them.

Stealing a glance at the smiling and nodding onlookers, he suppressed a frown. He felt like a curiosity on display at Bullock’s Museum. He wished others would take to the floor, so he could dispense with the devoted bridegroom facade.

The twelve courses at dinner had been torturous. His wife hadn’t taken more than a dozen bites nor said as many words. He’d tried to eat the succulent foods Aunt Edith had gone to such efforts to have prepared, but his anger made everything dry as chalk and every bit as tasteless.

“I’d not much appetite, my lord.”

He chuckled. “Don’t you think you might address me by my given name, wife?”

“Why?” she asked pertly. “I’ve known you but four days, certainly not long enough to be so familiar with you.”

He lowered his head, breathing in her ear, very aware every eye in the room was trained on them. He’d give them something to gossip about. “Because I want you to, wife, and you did promise to obey.”

He nipped her ear.

She jumped and a tiny yelp of surprise escaped before she clamped her lips together. Her eyes were shooting sparks again; only this time they were directed at him.

“What’s my name, wife?”

“Please, don’t call me that. I too have a name, as you well know.”

Drawing her closer, her breasts pressing against the breadth of his chest and cresting the edge of her bodice, he murmured, “Indeed, but Evangeline sounds . . . angelic, and we both know you’re no such thing.”

“Pardon?” She stiffened, trying to shove away from him. “I don’t under—”

His head descended again. “Say it, or I’ll trace your ear with my tongue.”

He grinned as her breath hissed from between clenched teeth. She stumbled, her fingers digging into his shoulder and hand. A very becoming flush swept across her face.

“Will you cease?” Her worried gaze careened around the room. “We’re being watched.”

Voice husky, he said, “Say my name, sweeting.”

Giving her a gentle squeeze, he started to dip his head, caressing her elegant neck with his hot breath.

“Ian, your name is Ian,” she gasped breathlessly, twisting her head away.


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Want more Collette? Here’s where you can find her:



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She can also be found on WordPress, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Google+


Posted by CharleneAWilson | Filed in Fiction, Historical, Regency, Romance, Uncategorized, Womens Lit | 7 Comments »