New Release March 26!

Female legs and revolver

Atlanta Edge’s hottest Russian hockey star made a big mistake. Now he must find a way to apologize big time to the girl he left behind in the States.

I’ve been a puck bunny most of my life. So when Roman Volkov, up and coming hockey star with the Atlanta Edge, takes me home and treats me like a queen, I believe I’ve found the man I can love. Then one morning, I wake to the news that Roman has left me behind while he plays in Russia. His agent takes pleasure in kicking me out of Roman’s house. I don’t believe anything the sleazy man says. Roman is good to me. No way will he treat me this way. So I go in search for the truth and I discover so much more.

I’m suffocating on the third line when the season ends. So when I get a call from Russia in the middle of the night to participate in a high-profile tournament, I go for it. I’m certain a gold medal will launch me into the top line with my team back in the States. No sooner than I arrive, I call Kitty Summerville to explain why I left without waking her. She’s not answering. Has my ambition destroyed any chance of a future with her? When I return, my sexy kitten and I will have a long conversation.

Only, I want to know why is she living with my Coach, and his wife and family?

The Heroine Hero

No. I didn’t leave out anything between heroine and hero. Lately, there has been a debate of rather or not the word heroine is outdated.

Someone on Twitter had said that comics…oops…graphic novels (or whichever term you prefer) refer to superheroes no matter the sex of the character, not superheroes and superheroines. Okay. Sounds cool right? There’s more I can say about female superheroes and some of their costumes, but that’s not really what I’m talking about here.

I understand why people are saying there shouldn’t be a difference, but I disagree with that when it comes to traditional romance novels. So you can say there are certain stories or books that it should always be okay. It’s to do with their gender, and the two are equal in their importance in the story.

My novels have a heroine and a hero. They have a man and woman who fall in love. It is just my preference to write those type of stories.

Okay now on to the heroine hero point I want to bring up. I see this happen mostly in paranormal romances. I’m sure it happens in other genres. Maybe romantic suspense. You know, a female detective with a male lead who isn’t in law enforcement.

Anyway, it’s where the female lead has all of the skills to the point she doesn’t need the male lead, and she has big time control issues. As in she wants to control everyone and everything around her. It’s most tiring to read. While the male lead is there merely so they can have sex, and the book can be called a romance. Sure, he may come in and help out, but he is really just beefcake. Kind of like how the woman is sometimes treated in other books. (Then she would be just cheesecake. Look it up. LOL!)

I prefer that the male lead possess a certain skill or object she needs (get your mind out of tFemale legs and revolverhe gutter) to defeat the evil entity. That gives him a solid reason for being there.

While I’m writing this, I’m mentally going through my published books. Do I have a heroine hero? No. I have a few heroines with control issues, and the heroes certainly have their own issues, but they have skills.

Circle of Desire has a female assassin, and she loves to use men for relief (this is where you can let your dirty mind run free), but the hero is certainly there for a reason. He kidnaps her and works on bringing her over to the good side.

Hidden Heat_Swafford

In Hidden Heat, the heroine is bossy and unafraid of the bad guys. They are like uncles to her. Men who she grew up around. So she knows the Brothers of Mayhem MC inside and out, and the hero (undercover cop) can use her knowledge to bring the bad guys down.

My heroines are not wimps, but the two above are the most gutsy.

I like to think most of my lead characters are on equal footing, but the heroine is all woman and the hero all man, and that makes the dynamics of the romance more interesting.

RT BookReviews

RT BookReviews closed it operations on May 16, 2018. It was a sad moment for many including myself. I read the magazine from the time it was actually a newspaper (1980s). At least, my dream of having a review of my book(s) done by the magazine came true. Plus my name was mentioned a few times in the magazine.

Before the website goes dark next year, here are copies of the reviews and such. Side note: The highest star rating you could get at RT was 4-1/2 stars.

By the way, my first book came out 7 years and 17 days ago.

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(Out of the Shadows was the pre-published title.  Now it’s Circle of Desire)

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You can find the video at the bottom right of this website.

BLOGGERS: Book Haven Book Blog

Another romance review site. I couldn’t find a place to search for my name. So I have no idea if they reviewed my books are not. As you can tell, I’m not playing favorites. Be sure to check them out.  Here are the links below.

Website:  https://bookhavenbookblog.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bookhavenbookblog/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ErikaBHBB

Instagram: https://twitter.com/ErikaBHBB

Blogger: Book Reader Chronicles

Here I am continuing the celebration of book reviewers, in particular, romance book reviewers.  And they don’t necessarily have to review and be part of my book tours as in this case. I just want readers to be aware of the different choices they have to check out new or old releases.

Here’s Book Reader Chronicles’s links.

Website:  http://bookreaderchronicles.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bookreaderchronicles/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BookReaderChron

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/brcbookblog/

Be sure to look at older posts here with other blogger information.

BLOGGERS: Joyfully Reviewed

1kansas cityI had the pleasure meeting Joy and Melissa at the RT Book Lovers Convention in Kansas City (2013) at the Avon event I was part of with my Circle series. Nice ladies indeed.

Be sure to check out the website. Link below.

http://www.joyfullyreviewed.net/

And their Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/JoyfullyReviewed/

See. I even like sites that do not review my books. One of my books did showed up there through a blog tour. It was just an announcement with an excerpt of Hidden Heat coming out at that time.

You Are Important For Real

So you never thought to do this, but I bet someone you know has thought about it or has tempted it or done it. So please copy and paste on your social media, everywhere.

Did you know that if you text 741741 when you are feeling depressed or suicidal, a crisis worker will text you back immediately and continue to text with you? Many people, especially younger folks, do not like talking on the phone and would be more comfortable texting. It’s a free service to ANYONE!

This text crisis line works in all states in the continental United States.

Or if you do want to talk with a human, call 800-273-8255.

So good to know for yourself, loved ones, coworkers, etc.!!! Asking for help is so brave and so worth it ❤️

#SuicideAwareness
#YouAreImportantForReal

If you are elsewhere, please insert your country’s phone numbers and website.

Want more info, check out the website: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

And yes, suicide is on the rise in the USA.

Click here to see how it affected me.

BLOGGERS: SMUT BOOK JUNKIE

Here’s another review site you might want to check out. I’m a little partial to this one, not because she rated my book perfectly, she didn’t, but because I admire the woman who runs the blog. Sweet lady who loves romance books. Be sure to check her out.

Here are her links.

Website: https://smutbookjunkie.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/smutbookjunkiebookreviews/

FYI – HIDDEN HEAT received a 3.5 – average -not everyone has to be totally in love with my books. Plenty of readers out there.  🙂

 

BLOGGERS: I HEART YA BOOKS

A couple weeks ago, I came across my list of book review sites/bloggers I like and decided to let my readers know about them. Kind of give back to them what they do for all authors out there. You may find a few books you have to buy.

The first site I’m pointing you to is one of my favorites. Yes. She loved my first two books in the Brothers of Mayhem series and even understood my heroine so well in HIDDEN HEAT she almost made me cry with happiness.

Side note: If you’re wondering about book three in the series. I just haven’t sent it out to be reviewed.

Here’s the link to her blog:

https://iheartyabooks.blogspot.com/

And her link to her Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/IHartYABooks/

She told me once that she likes more than just YA books. So true, considering the only thing about my books being YA is the age of the heroines and heroes. HA!

Oh, I see on her blog that she said, “I review Mature YA, New Adult and Adult Books. Romance is my heart!”

If you’re interested in the review of HIDDEN HEAT, click below.

http://iheartyabooks.blogspot.com/2016/02/newrelease-blast-review-excerpt_16.html

And here’s FULL HEAT’s review.  Click below.

http://iheartyabooks.blogspot.com/2016/07/newrelease-review-for-mc.html

Love it? Review It.

Heroine wants to save the man she loves, but not everyone is cut out to be a killer.

The last Bookbub I looked at was Tuesday’s. Today I caught up.

A few interested me, but not enough to buy. I’ve been wanting to cut back on my TBR pile. So the book has to interest me big time. Wednesday, nothing. Thursday, thought about one, but decided I’ve read too many like it and have been disappointed. Friday, interesting, but a no go.

Finally, Saturday’s has three I’m interested in. An erotic Romantic Suspense: Hero offers to pull heroine’s business out of debt if she obeys him in all ways for 30 days. Historical Romance: A Scottish warrior inherits an English earldom and an impoverished lady will teach him “proper” etiquette. Sci-Fi romance: Girl goes to war torn planet and meets two warriors.

I try to narrow my choices by looking at the full blurb on Amazon or iBooks. Sometimes it reveals the book isn’t what I really want. Maybe too heavy on history, or doesn’t really concentrate on the romance. And I’m not talking about sex. I like the one-on-one relationship building. I don’t mind a little arguing as long as it doesn’t get stupid. You know, arguing for argument sake.

Then if I’m still interested in the book, I read the sample. I can’t tell you how often I read the beginning and became SO bored. Then others are just not to my taste.

So far, I’ve bought the erotic Romantic Suspense. Passed on the Sci-Fi romance. The blurb did it. So not what I thought it would be. Maybe the author or editor messed up in telling the summary, but that’s the way it goes. Still thinking about the Historical Romance.

When it comes to To-Be-Read piles, mine is small. Around 10 e-books, and about the same in paperbacks.

I refuse to mistreat the authors who go out of their way to provide a deal that takes you years to read. When you finally read the book you bought 2-3 years ago, and it turns out to be great, and you go in search for the author, don’t be surprised if you can’t find another book from that author. Please understand. The author thought no one liked her books. You didn’t read it and review it, or tell your friends because you took so long to read it. For an author to make only $100 a year on her books isn’t enough to keep going.

And don’t get me started on selling a book that took months, if not a year to write for 99 cents. Someone told me recently that charging more than 99 cents for an e-book is horrible. She says the author doesn’t have to spend money on paper and printing. Like that’s the only reason a person reads a book. Maybe I’ll try to sell her a bunch of books with nothing printed inside. I bet she wouldn’t pay $7 dollars for each then. It’s the words inside that makes them valuable.

Think of it this way, I use a computer to write my books and often have to get a new one every two to four years. (Salesperson in the store said they aren’t made to last no more than two years. Bull crap!) When you write everyday in your spare time, they get overused and/or obsolete. My wage from a day job pays for it. Not my writing. Then I go to a writers conference to hear experts talk about how to make my manuscripts/books better, fresh, or more exciting. Again my day job helps pay for my airfare/gas, hotel, food, and the huge conference fee. Not my writing. Even if I go to a local college to take a class or two, I have to pay tuition. Not provided by my books. I giveaway book marks (readers still love them despite most read e-books), pens, t-shirts, and gift cards to readers. Day job, not writing. Let’s not even get into the costs of ads.

If I self-publish a book, there is the cover art that can range from $20 (if I do the design) to $400 (by a professional designer and you could pay even more if you want a unique design/cover). I can format the inside of the book through Draft2Digital free. Then there’s the editor. She receives $350 to $450 a book. Some editors charge a lot more. So I dare you to tell me again the book is worth less than a dollar.

You say, why do all of that? Just write a good book, they will come. Despite what the movie, Field of Dreams, make you believe, it doesn’t necessary work that way.

Even if you have a publishing house–I’ve had the biggest–behind your book advertising the hell out of it, you still need to help.

Book signings do little. They are more to stroke your ego. Actually, I say go for it. Authors need all the ego stroking they can get. It’s a rough, thankless job. Kind of like being a mom. At book signings, I’ve given away more books than I’ve sold just with the hope they will read the others.

Sure most publishers give the author books, but only one of the two large publishing houses I’ve been with gave me six. Yep. Six. And those I gave to relatives because they think you’re being cheap by not giving them a book. To cover everyone, I usually have to buy a few extra. The other publisher gave me zilch. My book was published in e-book only. I will say they provided the most advertising to readers and bloggers (that’s the one I mentioned above). Of course, the self-published copies were provided to my family at my cost. You know, I’m rich off all of those books. NOT!

As you can tell, authors deserve more for each book. No matter what, be sure to tell your family and friends about the latest book you enjoyed and write a review and share it everywhere!  Thanks!

T-Shirts Are Not For All Occasions

IMG_1345First remember, my blog, my opinion. I can’t tell you what to do. I can only tell my family. HA!

And no, I’m not about to talk about hockey. I just want to first show you I do wear (what I consider) unfeminine clothing on occasion. That includes T-shirts. For years, I had only two or three T-shirts and that was mostly to wear when I’m painting walls or doing housework. But when I started watching and going to hockey games, I wanted to support my team and decided it would be okay to wear their T-shirts. Yes, they have a few cut for women, but those are tight. If I was forty years younger and fifty, okay, hundred pounds lighter, I would wear them, but I’ve seen the women at games, most are like me. Bless their hearts. NHL believes all women who support their men are thin and young. I can tell you, they need to increase the offers in plus sizes. Us fat people have money to spend, and we don’t have to ask hubby.

Anyway, for the last twenty years or a little more, I’ve seen women going to restaurants (not talking about fast food), movies, shopping (dear GOD! I won’t even get into talking about Walmart) at nice department stores, and even funerals wearing T-shirts. Yep, funerals. Remember T-shirts were originally made to wear beneath a shirt.

When my daughters were growing up, I would buy them nice classic feminine clothes, especially for the fun dances the school put on. What do the boys wear? T-shirts and cargo pants. Why? Why? They ruin the pictures with their sorry clothing. I won’t blame their moms (much), but as my daughter grew older, they learned to tell the fellows what to wear. Yes. They don’t want to be embarrassed by being seen with clueless boys/men.

How many times have you been out about and seen two people together (I’m not talking about gay couples) and cannot tell who is the female? Both are wearing baggy T-shirts, blue jeans, flip-flops, and their hair cut above the ears or hidden beneath a hat.

Personally, I’m proud to be a woman. I don’t wear frilly clothes and rarely wear dresses (though I love them, but hate my fat legs), but even overweight as I am, if you saw me walk by, you would know I’m female. Even with a T-shirt on (rarely out and about unless going or coming from a game), I have a purse, girly shoes, dangling earrings, makeup, and my hair below my ears and styled like a woman. (I really wish I could grow it long to my shoulders, but my hair is baby fine.)

You don’t have to wear stilettos (more power to you if you can) and a neckline down to your navel or skirt up to your butt. RuPaul can do that and as of today, he’s not a woman (he does look good in or out of a dress and makeup). I say you can be comfortable without a blasted T-shirt and still be feminine.

Be proud to be a woman and let others know it, even in subtle ways.

 

 

 

A Beautiful Life Being Published

aXnH+gU1TWSC+R6CZW9BeQA few years ago, I posted on another blog about how wonderful it is to be a published author. Some of it was me teasing (aka sarcastic/ being funny) and a commenter thought I was for real and scolded me for not being appreciative of my good fortune. Anyway, I thought I would talk about what people expect when you become published. If you’ve been reading my posts for any time, you’ll know I love lists. So here we go.

  1. Non-writers (not necessarily readers) believe you are rich. Less than 1 percent of published authors make enough for a living or more. No. I don’t have a link confirming that. But think, saying someone is rich because they were published, for example, with a traditional publisher like Penguin/Random House. That would be like saying a person who owns a business is rich. Did you know only 20% of new businesses survive their first year? So that means 80% lose money and close up. Writing is a business, a business most writers love, but they don’t work out for everyone.
  2. Writing takes time from being with family and friends. Many writers are overweight, manic depressives, alcoholics, drug addicts, etc., because once a person is published they are pressed by their publishers and fans to write more and faster. Most writers have a day job to pay the bills until they can make money. See #1 above. So we can be found on our computers (or handwriting in notebooks)  early in the mornings to late at night and all the times in between.  And yes, I know some authors can write a book in a few weeks. That’s all I’ll say about that. And yes, I’m a little green with envy, but … {biting my tongue).
  3. People expect you to give your books away. People become offended because I don’t give them a book. Family and friends are to support what you love, but they don’t want to buy. First, when you’re traditionally published, most authors only receive five to twelve books free from the publisher. Those are to be sent to reviewers, but I always gave them to my immediate family, signed. If you’re independently published (indie), then those books you hand over to family and friends are paid by you, and they don’t necessarily cost only two bucks.
  4. Reviews can be confusing and they don’t always help authors to become better writers. They can push an author into a gray funk. Yes. We try to avoid reading them, but it’s like driving down the interstate swearing you won’t look at the wreck, but we always glance at it. No matter if the majority of your reviews are five stars (coffee cup, hearts or whatever the fuck a person makes up), the four and less can kill you and the percentage. I really wish Amazon would do away with the stars. I’ve seen one stars because the author charged a dollar more a book than author xyz. That’s not why the review section is there. Read the book, review it, and then at the end, say (without affecting the stars) please lower your prices because we all know you’re rich. See #1 above. I’ve seen one stars because it’s written in first person. The blurb on the story is in first person. That should’ve been a clue, not counting there is usually samples on the same website page. Or one person gives four stars because it’s a great read. Four stars out of five, really? Great? Yes. The five stars are for those certain authors they love. Geez! Or one star because the hero has the same name as the reviewer’s lying, cheating SOB of an ex. That’s why stars (and the other kind) should be done away with. Yes. I need to write a blog about it.

    By the way, editors at publishing houses you submit to do look at reviews (mainly the number of stars) in particularly, at that troll paradise place called Goodreads.

    I know I struggle to improve my writing. Though many readers appreciate my writing (see picture above of an award). I’ve learned it doesn’t matter how well you promote yourself or the publisher does, it all boils down to the writing, the story you have to tell and how you write it. That’s what I figure where my problem lies.

    The word I hear in several of my reviews is gritty. That means, per the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “having strong qualities of tough uncompromising realism.” I guess it’s okay for romantic suspense about assassins to have the term used, but I want more. So my next book will be a pure romance. Of course with sex, I’m not going off the deep end here. By changing the type of story and writing it in first person (oh, yeah, I’m going there), maybe I will find my niche.

  5. Author swag rarely sell books. BUT, I have to say if you send out 300 bookmarks and get one sale, it’s really worth it. For they may decide to buy your other books and tell their friends. That’s how the good things get started. Swag like pens, bookmarks, and other cutesy and cheap items for giveaway at book signings or in the line at the grocery store can be easy to carry in purses or computer cases. Really, in a way, they are items every writer loves because it is an ego thing. A way to tell strangers that you’re published.
  6. That brings me to doing giveaways on FB or websites/blogs. This is more than just bookmarks or postcards. If you give away big items like flash-drives, tablets, and huge dollar amount gift cards, be sure to advertise and/or pinpoint those fans who will celebrate by mentioning your name often. I’ve given away books and gift cards where people didn’t come back and acknowledgement their win with the info I need like their email address.  I do not add them to other lists. And I can understand not wanting a romantic suspense book if you read only historical romance. So be careful where you comment. If you do and see that you might win a book you’re not interested in, say “Don’t include me in the drawing.” If you think that’s rude, it’s just as rude not to accept the prize. You’ve prevented someone else from winning a book they may love. You can always add “I have too many books to read for now.” You know you won’t be lying. All readers do. Not lie, but have a huge stack on their Kindle or on their bookshelf or both.
  7. Book signings can be boring. In all of the signings I’ve participated, I’ve talked more to the authors around me than to readers. Don’t get me wrong. I’m an extrovert and will wave freebies at passersby to get them to stop and talk to me. Packages of M&Ms attached to postcards with pictures of a nearly naked man on the front will stop most attendees in their tracks. But if you’re not a well-known author, the readers will ease on by otherwise. I can tell you, you can go to every friend’s book signings before you’re published and chances are they won’t be there for your first. Bitter? Oh, yeah. Couldn’t help but let it spill out. I guess I’m in a mood.
  8. And no, once traditionally published doesn’t mean you’ll be forever published that way. Many, many reasons and it’s so hard to explain to non-writers. It can be from your editor leaving and the next one assigned can’t stand you and/or your writing to you don’t write the type of books they want no matter what they thought in the beginning. Goodness, there are hundreds of reason for not carrying on with the same publisher. If you’re lucky enough to click with the publisher, editor, and fans, I say bully for you! Stick with it until you know you need to write something different. Get that fan base and remember them when you’re writing your next book/series.

With all that said, I do love being published, traditionally and indie. I love writing the stories about two people falling in love and having fun doing it. Though I will say halfway through most of my books, I’m cursing as bad as my characters. I always wonder why in the hell I’m doing this, but when I hold that completed book in my hand. I feel proud that I finished something not everyone can or is willing to do. Maybe when my grandkids get older they will think Nana was one crazy woman, but they will remember me. They’ll know my name and know what I loved to do. Write.

Hat Trick, Power Play, and an Empty Net Goal

A few years ago, if you had asked me what the above meant, I would have thought you were talking about a new video game. For those who don’t know, they are hockey terms.preds goals
You’re probably wondering what is a nice southern girl doing becoming involved in a Yankee game.  Heck, there’s rarely any ice in Alabama.

Well, first, a couple friends of mine mentioned that theyhad fallen in love with hockey. They talked about the Predators hockey team located in Nashville. Who knew? Just a hop and skip from north Alabama. *Mind blown* In fact, one is a billet parent (takes in an out-of-town teenage hockey player into her home) and her enthusiasm is contagious.

Then about a couple months or so, I listen to the audios of Sawyer Bennett’s Cold Fury Hockey series. *sigh* Loved them! It caught my interest. Not just for the men, but some of things she brought up about the game. I can’t pinpoint what, but anyway, I decided to check it out on TV and fell in love.

How in the hell do those big guys fall and get up so fast? Amazes me. So freaking limber! Hmmm…never mind.

So have you read a book or series that interested you in a sport? Or into checking out something you never thought about? I bet a lot of people got into BDSM after reading 50 Shades.

I have to add:  GOOD WRITERS AND GOOD STORIES INFLUENCE PEOPLE.

Have You Lost Your Marbles

marblesWhen I was a kid, boys played with marbles. Girls played with jacks. I felt we girls got gypped. Marbles were so pretty. Thankfully, I had a male cousin who was cool enough to teach me how to play.

My sister used to love to heat marbles in a pan. It cracked the glass. Looked rather pretty, but it always made me sad.

Then it became popular to use marbles in clear vases to have flowers to stand straight. Awesome. Oh, yes. I have quite a few.

Now I have three grandsons and the middle boy LOVES marbles. Maybe next time he comes over, I’ll teach him how to play.  I think he’ll like it.

In The Fast Food Lane

parking spaces

Like many Americans I love to eat fast food and most times, I enjoy walking in and taking it easy before heading back to the day job. One thing I noticed is all fast food places have skinny parking places. Really? What are they trying to do? Keep us from coming inside? Make us use their drive-through?

My car has a ding on the passenger door because of those stupid parking spaces, but I want to eat inside. I don’t want to make a mess in my car.

And of course, like every eating place I’ve ever been to, fast or formal dining, the restrooms have only one to three stalls. What’s up with that? I had to wait in line the other day for one out of two stalls provided. Women have to move clothes a lot to take care of business. Not just a zipper and undies. So it takes time.

I do say, I get tickled seeing men stand in lines for the restroom at an ice rink. Probably because there are often more men than women attending. Oh, yes, I loved walking straight into the restroom during a hockey game. No wait. Awesome!

Another reason to love hockey!

Quote from Full Heat

“A sprinkle of cherry blossoms floated over a cheek, down one leg to

Full Heat_Swafford

behind her knee. What else did the woman have hidden?”

Storm watching Mary Jane walk naked into his bedroom

 

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Divorce and Fancy Towels

IMG_1196Over the years, I’ve read many romances where the heroine or hero had children with a divorced (or never married) spouse. I find it all interesting to see how younger authors handle the situation. It appears to be one extreme to the other. The parents get along like old distant friends to pure hate for each other. Sounds about right from what I see nowadays.

My parents divorced at the beginning of the new norm (kids living in two households) in the 1960s. Check out this chart. I thought it was interesting how there was one bump after World War II. I guess all of those misbehaving war brides got kicked out the door. (Thinking of Bridges of Madison County – I intensely dislike that book. Cheating war bride.)

Considering divorce is the lowest it’s been since pre-WII, it’s still high and there are children still dealing with a parent who isn’t there 100% and often 0% of the time, along with strange step-parents and half and step-siblings. I mean strange as in their habits are not the same ones you are used to from the first five to ten years of your life. And many children are living in poverty because don’t we know it takes two incomes to make an average living, and sadly, women make only 80% of what men do in the same job. In the state I live, it’s 74%. I believe it. Click here to read more. 

Anyway, I remember how I felt when I “visited” with my dad. I wasn’t lucky enough to have room to myself. I slept either on a sofa-sleeper or in the sewing room. A few times, I had to sleep in the same bed with my step-sister. Talk about uncomfortable. I know she resented it despite how I was one of those kids who was taught to not touch anything that isn’t hers, including not to open drawers, cabinets, or closets. So I made sure to place my suitcase in an empty corner and took out what I needed and put it back when I was through. I still place my hands behind my back when I look at something that belongs to someone else.

I’ll never forget one time when my dad and his wife and her kids moved into a new home. She had white shag carpet in the living room and we were told to never walk into there. I remember standing in the foyer and just looking at the room and thinking I never want a room where I worried about messing it up.

On one of my visits, I had been roaming around the yard outside, her kids were usually somewhere else when my brother and I came to stay (maybe their father’s). I was called in for lunch and I washed my hands in the upstairs bathroom (I don’t remember one being downstairs).  After we ate and I helped clear the table, I sat on the couch watching TV with my dad, my step-mom called my name, fury in her voice. “It was you who used my fancy towel. Don’t you ever put your dirty, wet hands on them again.” She chewed on me some more but that’s all I remember. I was so embarrassed. So whenever I went to her house, I wiped my wet hands on my pants. All her towels looked new and fancy.

Even as an adult, and they lived in a big house that had a guest bathroom downstair, she never had a towel in there, not even the fancy kind. Remember, I’ve been taught never to open closets or cabinets in houses that don’t belong to me. And my dad’s house was never my home. I was a guest. It wasn’t until the last couple years before she left my dad did she ever place towels in there.

Funny thing about that is she had a little long haired dog. I wouldn’t ever touch it because I wouldn’t have a towel to dry my hands after washing them and I wouldn’t let my kids touch it either. Occasionally, I would get a paper towel and take it in the bathroom with me for the kids. When she finally did place towels in the bathroom, I would pet her newest dog (the other one had died) and she’d said, “I thought you didn’t like dogs.” I said it was because I had to handle the kids at the same time. Never pointing out, I couldn’t wash my hands because I would have to dry them on my pants more often than I did at the time. I never told her the real reason.  

It may all sound stupid to you. You’re probably wondering why didn’t I ever ask for a towel. Maybe part of it was because I was chewed out about the fancy towel and in the back of my mind I figured all of her towels were fancy.  My mom didn’t have fancy ones. We couldn’t afford them.

By the way, my oldest daughter (she was an adult then) asked for one. I remember being worried my stepmom would jump on my daughter and I would have a fight on my hands. No one spoke ugly to my kids. But my stepmom made a big deal of finding one and then she pulled out a raggedly towel. To think of it, I believe that was when she finally started to have one in the bathroom (probably 85% of the time).

I always wondered what her kids did for one or did they go around with dirty hands? Or maybe they could use the fancy ones.

Giveaways For Fun

This is a copy of the email I sent out today to my newsletter list.

Being a fan of my books, I thought you might like the opportunity to come and win a bag of author swag (some of mine but lots of other authors), including signed copies of NAKED HEAT and CIRCLE OF DECEPTION.

Two of the bags are from my local Romance Writers of America chapter’s Romance Readers Luncheon held each year in November. To learn more about it, you can check it out at SouthernMagic.org. The speaker for 2018 is NYT bestselling author Cathy Maxwell. The third bag is by way of author Hildie McQueen. She’s a sweetheart, and it’s so cute!

I’ve started up a Facebook group that I hope you will like to join. That’s where once every three months I plan to do giveaways, paste deleted scenes, ask your opinions on titles, covers, and general writing ideas. Of course, I’ll gladly answer any questions you have about my books or to do with writing.

So if you’re interested in participating, here’s the link. FACEBOOK GROUP. Must join the group for a chance to win one of the bags and future giveaways.

Present giveaways for US addresses. Most future ones will be available for International addresses.

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Quote from Naked Heat

“Technically, we haven’t had sex yet, but sex is fun and should always be. That’s the best time to laugh.” Then as if he’d heard what he said, he quickly added, “That is as long as you’re not pointing at my dick when you do it.”

~~Wolf Savalas

Naked Heat By Carla Swafford

 

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Love and Hate of the Outlander Series (Books)

First, let me say I LOVE the character Jamie in the book and TV series. His character is well-written, manly man with emotions and all the charm of what an American can imagine a Scotsman would be. He’s the only reason I listen to the books or watch any of the TV series. There is a small possibility I would have READ the full series just for him, but only a small chance. Nine hundred plus pages of one story is way too much to me, and really I can’t believe I listened to the series through the third book. Audio is the way to go. Davina Porter is a wonderful narrator.

Nevertheless, so many times I screamed at the audio (in my car alone) for the narrator to hurry the f**k up. The person pattered on about some of the most obvious and boring crap when all I wanted to know was what the person had to say or did or she/he would just die.

Personally, I could’ve deleted one-third, that’s being lenient, and the story would be the same and so much better.

Claire is a woman who lives in the now even if it was more than 200 years before she was born. I get so tired of her believing she must be the one to jump in and solve everything. She never thinks of the consequence beyond her need to be in control. Some would call her a strong-willed woman, personally, I thought she was totally self-centered. There’s a difference between brave and stupid.  Claire was often stupid.

I think extremely long books are like soap operas. You get tired of all the angst and nothing going right. You need a break and it takes, if you’re lucky, hundreds of pages before the author thinks to lighten things up. I began to feel bad for everyone in the book along with myself. It is sad how Jamie meets trouble after trouble. No one has that much to go bad, but I understand why the author had to do it. If you’re going to write nine-hundred pages, you have to have something bad to happen over and over and over and over again. Yes. I could’ve dropped a couple of those overs, but I wanted to show how unnecessary they were to make a point. Hell, I could’ve cut half of this post.

Once again, that’s why I don’t love long series with the same lead character.

Latin names of plants, diseases, etc. WHY?! I couldn’t care less. Only interested if that was my field of study. I love history, but I read non-fiction for the details.

There. For almost two years I held up this post because I wanted to see if I changed my mind. Even the TV series didn’t help me do that. I fast forward in Claire’s scenes because she irritates me. All I can say is the only reason Jamie stays with her — when she’s in his time zone – ha! — is because she’s a good lay. There has to be reason.

Of course, what do I know? Just my lowly opinion. Millions of people love this long-ass series. They’re best sellers. Congrats to the author. I do believe the author is a talented writer, and I’ve heard the storytelling improved as the series went along. But life is too short for that much angst between the same two (or twenty) characters, and there are many wonderful — shorter, like 80,000 to 100,000 words — stories out there to read.

Besides, I have to save time to write my poor, pitiful short stories (60,000 to 80,000 words).  LOL!

I Love Bookmarks!

bookmark back Brothers of Mayhem

The back of my latest bookmark

Bookmark for Brothers of Mayhem

The front of my latest bookmark

I want to mention something I feel strongly about. When my writers group’s luncheon was over, I went to the large trash can to throw away an empty box. I looked in and to my horror were LOTs of bookmarks, booklets, post cards, in other words, paper promo out of at least two giveaway bags. I wonder if those readers noticed a card had a code for a free ebook? To those readers, they thought of it as trash, but to the authors who provided the material that represented money.

But let’s not think of the authors who sent the paper promo to help you decide on what to buy, let’s think of the other readers out in the local area or your area who would have LOVED to have a bookmark or information about a local reader? If you were the reader(s) who did that, please be nice and not throw them away at the luncheon, instead go to your local library and ask them if they are interested in them for their readers? I bet they would be thrilled. Plus they would love to talk with you about the luncheon and who all you met. A good way to make a friend.

Do you have any other suggestions?

Stories from Dark to Light

Readers are really benefiting from all of the independent publishing. You like dark romance, you have your choice of how dark. Want a romantic comedy? Yep, you bet your sweet bippy they’re out there. How about erotica? What type? BDSM? Of course, sir. Age play? Yes, Papa. Have a fetish? There’s a book out there for you. Historical or paranormal? Or both? Or everything above? Goodness, yes.

I love all kinds of romances, but I’m still old fashioned about one thing. My heroine or hero (read or write) cannot be married to another when the relationship is starting up or going on. Oh, yes, there are romances out there like that. Crazy, heh?

CircleofDesire mm cI love marriages of convenience (historical or contemporary), male – female spy teams, cowboys (historical or contemporary), and reverse roles (like my book Circle of Desire, the heroine was the dangerous assassin). Most of my reading and writing is dark, though I do enjoy reading romantic comedy on occasion. But the hero or heroine cannot be or act stupid. Bad or dumb luck is okay.

As I like to do every once in a while, here are some recommendations.

Lucas: A Cold Fury Hockey Novel  By Sawyer Bennett:  I do love this series. This book is one of her best. Such an unusual heroine. She has issues I can relate to. A great guy hero. Sweet story. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hot. Just lots of feels.

Alien Slave Master series by Samantha Cayto (The Captain’s Pet, The Rebellious Pet, The Untamed Pet, The Captive Pet, The Inconvenient Pet, The Undercover Pet.) Now be aware, these are not for everyone. So go with caution. Be sure to read the excerpts the on-line booksellers provide. The author did a great job on the emotions, and there was a wide spectrum.

I’m presently listening to the audio of Louise Bay’s The Empire State Series: A Week in New York, Autumn in London, and New Year in Manhattan. Lots of sex, but it doesn’t get monotonous. Good narrators and just an enjoyable story. Ms. Bay continues to make me happy.

I have mixed feelings about the dark romance (audio) Echo: A Dark Billionaire Romance (Bleeding Hearts Book 1)  by A. Zavarelli. In one of my earlier recommendations, I mentioned some of her books. (Love Ghost.)  This one . . . I liked but it went off in left field a few times. Still I enjoy this author’s unusual characters. I might get the second book’s audio. Still debating.

Her book, The Beast, no. It was too much of everything — too dark — and I read some crazy stuff. If you decide to check it out, be aware the male lead rapes the female. Multiple times. I just can’t call him a hero. Then again that might be your thing. You’ve been warned. I feel this is one of her older books she released after some/a lot success from her newer ones. Then again, what do I know. By the way, I listened to the audio and wasn’t too happy with the narrator.

Speaking of the narrator, for the last two books mentioned, she had a lilt at the end of every sentence. Bug the crap out of me. I guess I’ll stick to reading A. Zavarelli’s books, instead of listening to them.

Romance in Entertainment Weekly

Entertainment Weekly magazine had an interesting article this week. They announced the on-line version will have a “roundup” (reviews) of the latest romance novels. I was so proud that in the short article they hadn’t said the two words I hate (initials are B. R.). Then I pulled up the column on-line. There were those hated words. Oh, well, hopefully they won’t use them again. Anyway, I’m just glad they are giving all of our hard work some recognition. Be sure to check it out.

http://ew.com/books/2017/10/06/romancing-the-tome-novels-ew-reviews-september-2017/

Danger cover2

And by the way, CIRCLE OF DANGER is only 99 cents.  Not sure how long HarperCollins will price it that low, but be sure to go and buy it now. Links below.

REMEMBER TO READ IT SOON!  If you’ve been following my blog for long, you know how I feel about LARGE to-be-read piles (ebook or paperback). TBR piles kill authors’ careers.

~~~

In a follow-up to Carla Swafford’s sexy Circle of Desire, the agents of The Circle—a top-secret group of assassins—are back and on the hunt for a dangerous drug lord capable of bringing women to the brink of pleasure . . . and devastation.

Marie Beltane, a lowly data entry specialist for The Circle, resents being treated like a little girl and wants to help by proving she’s worthy of being a full-fledged operative. Disobeying Arthur Ryker’s orders to stay out of the way, she accepts a simple fact-finding assignment—only to have everything go horribly wrong. Now she’s been injected with the drug responsible for the deaths of four local women, a drug that puts her sex drive into overdrive.

Ryker wants nothing more than to keep Marie safe from the world. He’s already killed to protect her from one madman, and he may have to do it again. While on a search for an antidote to her mysterious drug, he falls into a trap and must fight a new evil. Now he must become the monster he’s always feared to save the woman he’s always loved.

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So What’s Next?

If you’ve been wondering about what I’ve been up to and what you should expect next from me, here’s a little information. Presently, I finished a book I’ve been working on and off for a handful of years. Book one in my Southern Crime Family series. It will be first of three I hope to publish a month apart at the end of next year.

I’m also working on another book written in first person about a bounty hunter. Hopefully, it will be something everyone will love.

If you’re interested in excerpts and announcements about my books, you can sign up for my newsletter.  If you just want to know when another book will come out, you can sign up to follow me on BookBub and/or Amazon. Or do all three.

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Of course, you can follow this blog too. Look on the right near the top.

On Sale!

Hidden Heat is on sale for 99 cents for a limited time. Sexy undercover cop infiltrates a motorcycle gang and meets former MC president’s daughter with a smart-mouth. Hot sex and danger. Be sure to check it out and buy!

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First Line Short Story

Yesterday, I went to a workshop my writers group sponsored, and it was so much fun. The presenter mainly talked about motivation. As in how a writer can use encouragement or habits to put their butt in a chair and write every day. Otherwise, you will never get done that book, short story, or article you’ve been dreaming about writing.

One exercise I enjoyed the most. In any book a person reads, the first line in the first chapter is important. It should be able to draw a person in to read more. The presenter gave us a choice of several first liners. One was “It’s so huge!” You can imagine that was a favorite. Anyway, I picked the one you’ll see below. Hope you like the itty-bitty short story.

**be aware that I use naughty words**

Sliding down the stripper pole isn’t as easy as you might think. When I took the bet from my friends. I was already down six beers, and really should know better than to take their dare. The asshats.

Everyone claps and hoots, trying to encourage my rhythm as I dance around the pole. Playing the part, I yank off my shirt and twirl it above my head. The servers and dancers laugh and shout their advice.

Kid Rock’s Cowboy blasts through the speakers. Grabbing the steel pole, I jump up and try my best to hold on with my jean-clad legs, but I slide inch by inch down the slippery bastard. And who knew the fucking thing rotates by itself? I tighten my grip and lean back. Lifting my arm as if I won the lottery.

More shouting reminds me I need to move with the beat. So I thrust my hips and swing around the pole. The colors and sounds swirl by and my head feels light. A little cross-eyed, I fall to the stage, and the pounding of the music vibrates through my body. Not letting my friends get the better of me, I jump up, sway, regain my feet, and begin a bump and grind. Dollars rain around my feet.

Fuck the pole. I’ll just dance around and make a few bucks. Then I can buy another beer when the song stops. I do every dance I can remember from what Mom taught me. Two stepping, I trip and my friends catch me, helping me to stand as the song ends.

“You win, Luke. I never thought you would do it.” Rich hands me the fiver he had promised if I show the girls I could do it too.

****

I always love a twist and not just on a stripper pole.  HA!

The Beast Inside

I’m screaming inside right now.

That’s what happens when you hear news you don’t want. As a reasonable human being with manners, you know you should never scare the people around you. You should grin and bear it. Never let people see you cry or be upset. Otherwise, you’ll have to explain what happened. When you explain, you relive the devastating reality. Then people give you platitudes you can live without. Usually, they say those things because they believe it’s the proper thing to do. So in other words, they say the words to make themselves feel better.

All you can tolerant is someone who will talk about the nice weather. So you keep your mouth shut and manage a faint grin.

Most people do not understand how I feel, so I rather not hear their opinion or receive their sympathy. I keep the screaming inside until I’m numb and can come to terms with the person I am, not the one who I thought I was.

Yet I move on.

Recommendations

book-signingLately, I’ve realized how much I miss holding and reading a paperback book. Plus I hate how all of my e-books are all jumbled together. No matter how I set up categories in iBooks or Kindle, I still find myself thumbing through several unfinished books to find a new one. Then I’m not sure if they are unread or an unfinished one. While with a paperback, you can place the new book on a certain shelf or leave it in a shopping bag. Simple.  Anyway, I’ve plan to read more paperback books.

Here are some recommendations. You’ll note that I do not recap story lines. So if you want to know more about the book, look it up on Amazon. Easy enough.

Funny how authors will give a title to a book that really does not do justice to the story. One such book is Dirty Daddies by Jade West. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Carla has a kinky side. Well, of course. Have you read what I write? Geez! In this case, the book isn’t like some I’ve read. Behave. Let me look at your e-reader and I’ll see what your kink is. As you can imagine, Dirty Daddies is a hot book, but so much more. It really surprised me by the layers of character development revealed in the story. Yes, it involves two older men (not too old, gross) and a younger woman (offhand, I can’t remember, but I do believe she’s 18. In the US, that’s considered an adult). But the heroes struggle with their desire for someone younger, they recognize the problem she has with low self-esteem, and they don’t want to take advantage, but as the book goes along, the men actually help her. Like I said, it’s hot, but the story is not all sex. There’s character growth for all of them. The book turned out to be a perfect love story. Besides, the romance having two heroes for one heroine (love that), it is an unique story. Just really needs a better title.

I love hockey books. Since I love hockey, that makes sense, right? As I’m all caught up on Sawyer Bennett’s Carolina’s Cold Fury series, I’m always searching for more. Well, I had almost given up as the others out there were not meeting my standards. Then I came across, Alicia Pace Hunter’s Nickolai’s Noel, and they (the author is a writing team) met my need for more. It’s a short story, but packed with romance and hockey. (Presently, you can find it in Fire On Ice: 4 Hockey Romances.) Their latest hockey romance is Face Off: Emile. They write romantic comedy and not the silly kind. More of the sweet and fun kind. Love their sense of humor. In Face Off, it does have a little bit of sex in it, but not hot like Sawyer’s. I love the time the heroine grabbed the hero’s butt. Sexy and funny at the same time. HA! But I like mixing up my reading of romance, from hot to sweet. And I love reading hockey books where the author really knows what they’re talking about. Yes. I’ve tried reading a couple you could tell the author was writing to the market and nothing else.

Now for audio, I have fallen in love with Louise Bay’s three books set mostly in New York. They don’t have a series name. They’re stand-alones, but one character in each book is connected in some way (sister, brother, friend) to another. So same world. The narrators do a wonderful job. The books are hot, but definitely have a romance storyline. They are King of Wall Street, Park Avenue Prince, and Duke of Manhattan. Talk about some sexy, well-rounded men (and women). You really need to listen or read these books. I plan to check out her other books next.

Presently, I’m listening to Radiance: Wraith Kings, Volume 1 by Grace Draven. It’s different enough to keep me interested ,and the writing is good overall. Though I have to mention, I get aggravated with the author writing a scene where the hero or heroine thinks about something that happened earlier in the day and then being jerked back to that scene. Why not write the scenes in order without the yanking around? It wasn’t like the event happened years and years ago. In that case, you would write the event in a scene mostly as backstory. In small doses, backstory is good if it is helping the reader understand why the hero or heroine is the way he or she is. But a current event of only hours earlier being out of sequence is jarring.

Though I’ve listened to and read or tried to read many more, those are the ones worth mentioning here.

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