Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Author - Interview Intimate Escape by DC Stone

- What is your “day” job if you are not a full-time author?

My “daytime” job is a manager of a major case investigation group. We handle large, complex cases involving organized crime and embezzlement activity. Definitely, something that changes each day, as far as what kind of work I’ll be doing. And it’s one hundred percent something that keeps me on my toes. Crime is ever-evolving and criminals constantly look for ways to do new schemes. 

- What is the hardest thing about being an author?

I think the hardest thing about being an author is marketing. Books are easy for me to write. It comes very naturally and it’s a process I enjoy. But there is so much out there in this industry (as far as books go) that it’s often hard to stand out amongst others. Sometimes your book or name gets lost within the saturation and it’s a difficult thing to showcase.

- Have you ever been star struck by meeting one of your favorite authors? If so who was it? 

Absolutely. Julie Ann Walker. While she’s not one who would probably accept as causing such starstruck, I totally did. She’s an amazing woman who makes you feel very down to earth when you’re in her presence. And anyone who knows her definitely would agree with that. 

- What book changed your life?

Is this where I say I was a total Twilight fan? It’s not just one book, but the entire series. I gobbled them up, then immediately reread the series three more times. Since then, I’ve probably read the series a dozen times. I couldn’t get enough of them. Those books are also where I realized I wanted to write stories of my own. 

- Which do you prefer ebooks, print, or audiobooks?

I’m a total ebook fan! Probably about thirteen years ago, my husband gifted me with my first Nook for Mother’s Day. Since that time, it’s been extremely difficult to read from a paper or hardback book. I love reading in bed at night and do so with the lights off so reading from an ebook has allowed for that flexibility. Also, carrying around a couple hundred books in one place isn’t so bad either!

Intimate Escape
Empire Blue Series
Book Four
DC Stone

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Date of Publication: 11/29/22
Number of pages: 250
Word Count: 76,000

Cover Artist: Evernight Publishing

Book Description:

Juliette Scaglione doesn't think her world can get any worse. Recently dumped by her longtime boyfriend while on a vacation she paid for, she returned home only to find the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) on her heels.

DEA Agent Matt Gonzalez is sent on a task to uncover a mule at the airport, one he discovers is a feisty and beautiful woman whom he can't take his eyes off of.

Problem is, things get out of control for both fairly quickly as they are kidnapped by the cartel and taken to a prison in Mexico. The two have to learn how to rely on one another to escape the clutches of this violent operation. Through their journey across a country far from home, both of them recognize fighting their attraction may not be the only challenge they have to face.

Amazon      BN


“What do you expect to find in my bags?” she asked.

Agent Gonzalez stared at her, and rather than answer what she thought was a pretty logical question, he threw another softball. “I’ll ask you one more time. Do you give your consent to allow us to search your bags? I’m warning you now that I have a federal judge on standby in the event you say no, so one way or another, I will search these bags today. It’s just a matter of whether this will go quickly or take a few hours. Up to you.”

Her heart pounded against the inside of her chest, wanting to run away. She felt much the same way. Not that she thought he’d find anything. It was the absolute certainty she saw on his face that said he knew he’d find something.

“What’s going on?” she asked, hating the meek sound in her voice.


“Yes! Yes, you can search my bags, my—my body, but you won’t find anything in, or rather, on them.”

 Agent Gonzalez unzipped her suitcase.

“After you find nothing, I expect an explanation for what’s going on.” There, that sounded firm. Not shaky, like what her insides were doing.

Agent Watson relieved her of her backpack and purse but placed them on the table and didn’t go through them. Instead, he kept his attention on what Agent Gonzalez was doing, though she knew without a doubt she had his full attention too.

Gonzalez removed her clothing in a systematic fashion, placing items one at a time on the table next to the suitcase. Out came her dirty clothes, which lay on top, jeans, dresses, and her underwear. Her cheeks heated as he continued, his movements slow and thorough.

He got to the bottom, having removed everything from within. Her things were scattered across the table like some bizarre game of Clue.

“See?” she said. “Nothing.”

Agent Watson didn’t move, but Gonzalez sure did. He reached inside her suitcase and felt around the corners, then yanked. The sound of fabric tore.

“Hey! What are you doing?” He tossed the fabric aside, and black plastic square packages were stacked inside in a neat and orderly fashion. Had to be about a dozen of them, at least five to six inches in width.

Shock rooted her to the spot for a few moments. “Wait. What is that?” she asked and took a step forward.

Watson held up a hand in front of her. “Ma’am, please stay back.”

“What is that?” she asked him again, hearing the rising hysteria in her voice.

Gonzalez pulled out one package and produced a pocketknife from somewhere, then cut into the wrapping. Everything around her moved in slow motion until she swore the world had ceased to spin. Her attention stayed riveted to the white powder that came out on the shiny blade.

“Gonna need a test kit,” he said to Watson. The other agent immediately set the bags beside the table, at the farthest reach from her, and left the room.

“Agent Gonzalez,” she said, sounding like she pleaded, because she did. She’d never seen that stuff before in her life. “That’s not mine. What’s going on?”

He pulled out twelve packages, and yes, she counted every single one, before grabbing another black trash bag that someone had taped to the inside of her luggage frame. Once he opened that, several brown baggies came tumbling out. She gasped.

No wonder her bag had been so heavy.

Only then, after the whole horrid nightmare was laid out on the table, all the ugliness next to her things, her clothes, and her bag of toiletries, did he look up at her. “Ms. Scaglione,” he said, reverting to formalities, “the intel we received was there would be someone on your plane, matching your description and carrying a suitcase with over ten kilos of cocaine and about a hundred baggies of heroin. Although I haven’t tested it yet, I can tell you I’d bet my next paycheck that’s what is right here.”

“But it’s not mine.” Dryness coated the inside of her mouth, as if cotton balls had been shoved inside and sucked up all the moisture.

“Are those your clothes?” he asked.

She nodded.

“This your bag?” She nodded, getting where he headed. “Yes, but those drugs are not mine!”

“Of course, they aren’t.” But he said the words as if he didn’t believe her.

“They aren’t!” she yelled.

He slammed his hands on the table and leaned toward her.

About the Author:

D.C. “Desi” Stone is a best-selling romance author and full-time fraud investigator. She lives in the northeast with her incredibly supporting husband, two kids, a cat, and the ever-growing family of dogs. 

After serving eight years of service with the United States Air Force, she went on to transition into the world of financial crimes and became a lead investigator for many years.

Reading has always been a passion of hers, getting lost in a good, steamy romance is one of her favorite past times. She soon after discovered her own love for writing and recreating stories and characters in her head. Her writing concentrates on romantic with specifics in paranormal, suspense, and erotica.

Now, when she isn’t trying to solve a new puzzle in the world of fraud, she is engulfed with coffee, her laptop, and all those crazy characters in her head. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Hudson Valley Romance Writers, New Jersey Romance Writers, RomVets, RWA Kiss of Death, and the Liberty State Fiction Writers. She served as the 2014 NJRW Vice President and Conference Chair. Come stop by on Facebook, Twitter, or her website and say hello!

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Monday, November 28, 2022

Release Day Blitz Martyr by Linda Robertson Reinhardt

The Immanence Series
Book Three
Linda Robertson Reinhardt

Genre: Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Igni House Publishing
Date of Publication: Nov 28, 2022   
ISBN:   9781685440091
Number of pages:  635
Word Count: 148,000 
Cover Artist: Linda Robertson Reinhardt

Series Tagline: A renegade angel once changed human society forever… now a new angel will change it again.   

Book Description: 

Jovienne’s quest to understand her power and claim her freedom leads to a shocking discovery--one that will shake the foundations of modern society and sends her straight to Hell.

Listen to the Immanence Soundtrack

About the Author:

Linda Robertson Reinhardt is an internationally published novelist and her short stories have appeared in several anthologies. In 2022, she released The Immanence Series, a dark fantasy trilogy for which she created the covers and all the interior artwork. A life-long musician, she’s also an award-winning composer, so it’s no surprise she also wrote and produced a 72-minute original orchestral score to accompany the new books. She has even scored a few short, independent films. Her music is available on most streaming channels. She is also a graphic artist and a painter, and her artwork is available through Redbubble. If that’s not enough, she makes jewelry and hand-blends/hand-bottles fragrances that she sells on her Etsy store. A mother of four boys, Linda is married and lives in Ohio.

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Patricia Friedrich's Top 10 Vampires

10. Count Dracula (in Bram Stoker’s namesake) – This is a serious, traditional vampire that needs to be acknowledged. 

9.Dead and Loving It Dracula– Leslie Nielsen doing what he does best. 

8.Count Von Count from Sesame Street – it is Sesame Street!

7.Matthew Clairmont (A Discovery of Witches)– An elegant and romantic vampire.

6.The Vampire Lestat – This is Anne Rice’s creation and a very literary vampire. 

5. Najia(What We do in the Shadows) – she is ruthless, funny, and unshakeable. 

4.Laszlo Cravensworth(What We do in the Shadows)– he’s got the flare, the voice, and the attitude. 

3.David (The Lost Boys) – Kiefer Sutherland, playing one of my favorites from my younger years. 

2. Colin Robinson (What We do in the Shadows) – It takes a genius to add an energy vampire to the team. 

1. Nandorthe Relentless (What We do in the Shadows) – I mean, his hair alone would make him my favorite, but his whole personality, his relationship with Guillermo, and his general quirkiness makes him the best vampire! (Creepy paper, anyone?)

The Art of Always
Patricia Friedrich

Genre:  Women’s Fiction/Historical
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Date of Publication: Jan 19, 2022
ISBN: 978-1509237791
Number of pages: 372
Word Count: ~ 90K
Cover Artist: Diana Carlile

Tagline: The biggest mystery is why we lie to ourselves

Book Description:

Art history student Darcey Mendes needs a new topic for her thesis in order to graduate, but time is against her. Family debts are pressing. She fears she must give up all hopes of an academic career. Yet, without her degree, would she earn enough to provide for her secret daughter's future? 

Archie Northwood, rich and from a privileged family, suddenly reappears in her life to offer the chance that could save her--the story of his Brazilian great-grandmother. His ancestor was Modernist painter Ana Eça, who, on the verge of stardom in the 1920s, mysteriously vanished from public view forever. 

Choosing to unveil Ana's story is a complicated proposition for them both. How will they be able to work together to resolve the decades-old mystery when Darcey cannot allow Archie to guess her secret?

Amazon     BN     Google


A thin mist had covered the city. Inside the fog, cobblestone pavers and streetlamps gave the streets a dreamlike feel, which Ana experienced from the other side of her window. Watching the movement of neighbors hurrying to catch a train or walk to work, she knifed a small wedge of butter and slathered it on a piece of toast. The flavors of the morning, fresh coffee and jam, delighted her. It was a moment of perfection, a fleeting one, full of ideas about art and success, so she took full notice of it. But soon the pleasure of warm French bread and sweet coffee was replaced with worry. Her morning with Joaquim and the strange intuition she had about it kept her heart prisoner and made her attention falter. The strange prophecy and the knot in her stomach alerted her to be careful. As she fell asleep the night before, she had made up her mind that the recent encounter would be their last time together. She reminded herself that no matter the powerful hold Joaquim had on her, she could do whatever she wanted.

About the Author:

Patricia Friedrich is a Professor at Arizona State University, having received her Ph.D. from Purdue University. She teaches courses in composition, linguistics, peace, and culture. She writes non-fiction about the intersection of those areas. Her non-fiction work has appeared in eight books and in over 40 book chapters and journal articles. Her fiction has been published in several literary magazines including Eclectic Flash, The Linnet's Wings, and Birkensnake, as well as in the anthology Flash in the Attic. Her novel The Art of Always was awarded first place at a regional RWA competition, was the winner of a National Indie Excellence Award, and was published in 2022 by The Wild Rose Press. She is also an author of historical romance under the pseudonym Eliza Emmett. All the Parts of Your Soul, her next novel (with Jen Jensen), is forthcoming. She lives in Arizona.

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Friday, November 25, 2022

Author Advice from E.M. Munsch - A Haunting at Marianwood #AuthorAdvice

Writing is a fairly solitary endeavor. You sit alone with pen and paper or at your computer. You can get lost in the words on the paper. Your characters sit next to you telling you what they want to do, not what you want them to do. You usually comply because it is easier that way. When you finally type ‘The End,’ you rise from your workstation. And ask what next?
If you are smart, you will share your work with one or two trusted friends who may or may not be writers themselves. You need someone to tell you the truth about your work, in a nice way of course. No need to crush your spirit.

I found a critique group to be the answer to my prayers. I belong to Sisters in Crime and our chapter has a very good core of authors and writers. As I work on a book, I present a chapter or two for their perusal and advice. Since I write mysteries, I want to know if I hit the mark – Are there hints (clues) along the way? Does this or that make sense? What questions do you as the reader have and are they answered?

Each member of my critique group has a particular talent for looking at this or that. One lady wants to know what the protagonist is thinking as well as seeing what he is doing. Another wants to know what the room looks like, what scents are the characters smelling, is the sun shining or is it raining. And all of them want to know who dunnit and why!

They keep me honest. Right down to the question: Would this character really say that?

I started with a blank page and filled it with my thoughts, my words. When the group read it, they saw things I did not OR didn’t see what I thought was obvious. Since I have dinner with my characters every night, I have a greater insight into their minds, their psyches. Sometimes I forget that the reader is not privy to those conversations and it is my job as author to put it on the page, bit by bit but put it there, nonetheless.

One you have written, revised and edited; the final product should be scoured by a very fresh set of eyes. As an author you KNOW what should be there on the page, but occasionally words are misspelled or that tiny ‘of’ is missing.

Two bits of advice: Write, write and write some more. There is truth to practice makes perfect. And find yourself a critique group, one that writes or reads your particular genre.

Good luck and stick to it.

A Haunting at Marianwood
Dash Hammond 
Book Six
E.M. Munsch

Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Mystery and Horror, LLC
Date of Publication: October 18, 2022
ISBN-10: ‎1949281213
ISBN-13: ‎978-1949281217
Print length: ‎217 pages

Book Description: 

Life is good for Dash Hammond. He's recently remarried his childhood sweetheart, Dr. Maevis Summers, and together they're raising his four-year-old son, T.J. in the Hammond family homestead in Clover Pointe, Ohio. A retired Army colonel, Dash now keeps himself busy fixing everything from a leaky faucet to an unsolved murder.

It is no wonder that his cousin Billy McCafferty calls on Dash for a road trip to Kentucky when  his oldest sister is in trouble. The president of a religious order, Sister Miriam Patrice, Miri Pat to those who knew her before she took the veil, has been hearing things, seeing things and misplacing things. A very competent woman, she refuses to accept an unearthly reason for all this.

Marianwood, the motherhouse of the Sisters of the Blessed Mother of God, is located on an old plantation thought to be haunted by its original inhabitant, Miss Victoria Harris, who is rumored to prowl the grounds and cemetery in search of her murdered beau. 

When the Ohio contingent arrives, they discover that things are not as simple as your ordinary haunting. 

In a battle of wits, will the victor be supernatural or a very corporal retired Army colonel?



Sister Miriam Patrice slid back from the kneeler. The quiet of the church soothed her as it wrapped its velvet cloak of serenity around her. She sat, hands folded, once in prayer but now to stop the trembling. Glancing at the sunlight streaming through the stained-glass windows casting a rainbow on the empty pews, she drew in deep slow breaths. She looked at the watch pinned to her tunic. Time to get back to work. She rose to leave the church, her place of refuge, a place free from the distractions of the running the community and the new retirement home the sisters established to help make ends meet.

The members of the Sisters of the Blessed Mother of God found their numbers dwindling. New recruits, as Sister Miriam Patrice called them mimicking her cousin Dash Hammond’s military jargon, were very rare. The teaching congregation once had more than a hundred sisters. Vocations, callings to either the religious or the educational side of the community, had fallen to less than a handful each year.

As she walked down the aisle to the back of the church, she heard it again. Tap, tap, tap. She stopped to listen, making sure she wasn’t mistaken. That sound sent shivers down her spine. Squaring her shoulders she walked to the doors next to the church exit. One led up to the choir loft, the other down to the cellar. In days past she had gone up the stairs; today she would go down.

Pulling the doorknob, Miriam Patrice met the resistance of a locked door. She pulled out her keys and unlocked it. She struggled with the door, suggesting to her that no one had gone to the cellar in a while.

The stone steps were worn but sturdy. She moved cautiously into the darkness, one hand on the wall to steady her nervous knees, the other searching for the handrail. Her hope was that the security guard forgot to close the door one day and some critter, not two legged, was trapped down here and making the tap, tap, tap sound. Logically she knew this was wrong, but the alternative could be worse.

Decades ago they discovered one of the newer buildings constructed during a period of rapid expansion had been built on an underground spring. It wasn’t long before the building tilted, as did their finances. What a waste of time and money. Fearful that what she would find was a tell-tale pooling or bubbling of water, she moved forward slowly. She said a silent prayer that she would not stumble into a puddle, a precursor of the inevitable unwelcome news.

Her trek seemed unnecessarily slow though reason told Miriam Patrice she should alert one of her sisters where she was just in case she lost her footing. But her reasoning had not been the sharpest of late. She blamed her sleepless nights, not because of an uneasy conscience but an overabundance of concern for her congregation and its uncertain future, both financially and individually.

After spending a half an hour poking into the corners, searching for the origin of the sound, Miriam Patrice gave up. She needed a flashlight if she wanted to do a proper search. Next time she would be prepared. Next time, she told herself, she would be less skittish, more confident that she could deal with whatever sprung up from the tap, tap, tap. After deciding this, she nodded to herself. At least she didn’t hear a drip, drip, drip.

The sound had stopped so she returned to the church. As she locked the door behind her, the tap, tap, tap began again, louder this time. If she permitted herself, she would have said damn.

About the Author:

Elaine Munsch is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, but has spent her adult life in Louisville, Kentucky.  She graduated from Nazareth College of Kentucky located outside of Bardstown and attended The Ohio State University for her graduate work. She has been a bookseller for fifty years working in both large and small, chain and independent bookstores. She opened the first Barnes & Noble in Kentucky where she set up a mystery reading group which is still active today. She also taught classes in the mystery genre for the Veritas Society and joined the local chapter of Sisters in Crime.
With Susan Bell, she co-edited MYSTERY WITH A SPLASH OF BOURBON, an anthology of bourbon related stories.

As E.M. Munsch, she writes the Dash Hammond series set on the shores of Lake Erie. The latest title, A HAUNTING AT MARIANWOOD, is set to be released at the end of October.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Character Confessions with Werewolf Justin Ruel from Beta Test by Karenna Colcroft

Character Confessions—Justin Ruel

Being a werewolf isn’t easy in and of itself. Especially when it wasn’t a choice. I was changed during my senior year of college. Boston University, not far from my family’s home in a triple-decker building in Dorchester. I was pre-law, top of my class, all that great stuff…and one night destroyed everything.

I was walking home from a party when it happened. I lived off-campus on a seemingly safe, quiet side street in a place I shared with three other guides. I wasn’t afraid of walking home at one in the morning; what was there to be afraid of? I got my answer that night. Something leaped out of the bushes and attacked me. Something that turned out to be a werewolf in shifted form. I tried to defend myself, but hands and feet don’t have much power against teeth and claws.

It took three days for me to wake up after the attack—and I awakened in wolf form. The attack that changes someone into a werewolf is severe enough to be fatal if they remain in human form, but in wolf form, their newly-acquired healing ability kicks in. (After that, even in human form a werewolf heals faster than humans, as long as silver bullets aren’t involved.) The Alpha, Chal Torres, talked me through shifting back to human form, and he and the rest of the pack, City Pack, taught me what I needed to know to live life as a werewolf.

Including the unfortunate fact that I could never see my family again. One of the strictest laws in the werewolf world is that against telling humans we exist; the only law that carries a stronger penalty is changing someone who’s underage. Since werewolves age much more slowly than humans, it’s impossible to have long-term contact with humans without risking them finding out the truth; eventually the humans will question why the wolf doesn’t appear to be getting any older. A werewolf who is in a romantic relationship with a human or who has children can petition their Alpha for permission to tell their partner and/or kids the truth, but there’s no exemption for parents, siblings, or other relatives. So even though I was still living in the same city as my family, I had to cut all ties with them.

I had to move out of my apartment, too, though it wasn’t so much a matter of moving out as just of never going back. Over time, Chal helped me figure out how to finish school; he thought it would be useful for the pack to have someone with a legal background. And over time, I fought my way up through the pack ranks, going from the lowest in the pack (anyone who enters a werewolf pack starts as the lowest-ranked wolf, even if they were previously ranked higher in a different pack) to Beta. Chal’s second-in-command, both in werewolf terms and in running the shipping company he established years ago to provide a source of income to pack members who aren’t able to handle working for humans.

Decades have passed since I was changed. I’m seventy years old now, though to look at me you’d think I was still in my thirties. That slow aging thing isn’t necessarily bad! My family is all long since gone, and I live on the same street I grew up on, though no one who knew me as a kid is around anymore. I share a place with the pack’s Peacekeeper (third in command). Not with a partner. I don’t have one of those. I’ve had lovers over the year, women in the pack who were happy to share my bed for a time, but no one long-term.

Until now. Long after giving up on finding my mate, I think I’ve found her. She’s beautiful. Sweet. All I can think about.

And she’s human.

Did I mention being a werewolf isn’t easy?

Beta Test
Real Werewolves True Mates
Book Two
Karenna Colcroft

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Vegan Wolf Productions 
Date of Publication: November 10, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-958346-03-7
Page Count: 344
Word Count: 100,671
Cover Artist: Kim Ramsey-Winkler

Book Description: 

Tareth McConnell has learned not to count on anyone other than herself. She definitely is NOT in the market for a relationship. But the first time she sees the man with the long braid on the subway, she’s drawn to him.

The first time Justin Ruel speaks to Tareth, he knows there’s something special about her. Something that calls to him as clearly as her beautiful voice. If he didn’t know better, he would swear she was his mate–but that’s impossible. Justin is the Beta of City Pack, the largest werewolf pack in the United States, and he absolutely cannot have a human mate.

As their connection grows and they begin to act on their attraction, Justin hides the truth from Tareth. But when a series of attacks on members of the two Boston werewolf packs occurs, Tareth’s life is endangered. To protect her, Justin has no choice but to tell her what he is–even if it means losing her forever.


She knew Justin wasn’t anything like Max. He didn’t seem at all fazed by his discovery.

If anything, he’d been amused. She hadn’t seen that at first. To her, the situation had been anything but amusing. It wasn’t until he’d threatened to leave that she’d realized she was overreacting.

At least we got the arguing out of the way on the first date. Maybe that means our relationship will be smooth sailing from now on.

That wasn’t exactly a logical thought either, but it made her feel better.

She rummaged through the pile of menus and mail on her kitchen table until she found menus for the three nearest Chinese restaurants. Justin could decide which one he wanted to order from, since he was insisting on paying. For once, she was grateful for the clutter. Having to search for the menus gave her a little more time to calm down and think rationally.

When she returned to the living room, Justin was at the window looking out at the street.

“You have a great neighborhood here,” he said without turning around.

“It is pretty nice.” She’d entered the room quietly, or so she thought. How had he known she was back?

He turned and smiled at her. “I just wanted to tell you how great today has been so far.

I’m glad we’re continuing the date. To be honest, I didn’t want to leave yet.”

“To be honest, I don’t know if I’m going to want you to leave at all. At least not until morning.”

The words seemed to drop out of her mouth without consulting with her brain. Of course she’d considered spending the night with him. She would have had to have been dead not to be attracted to him. And despite the way she’d reacted to his finding her toy, a tiny part of her found it arousing that he knew she’d used it on herself. Maybe he even knew that she’d been fantasizing about him.

No matter what her libido and body wanted, she hadn’t intended to let him know that she might let him stay. They’d agreed to come back to her place and kiss. Maybe more. She’d laid down her ground rules at the beginning. First date, no sex.
Neither of them had said anything about his staying the night, but that was exactly what she’d just suggested.

She bit her lip and managed to look him in the eye. He smiled, and something in his eyes let her know that she could say anything she wanted to him and he would be fine with it.

“I don’t want to leave either,” he said softly. “I’ve already told you I want you. It doesn’t have to happen tonight. If it does, I’m not going to complain about it, and I’m not going to think any less of you.”

It was an odd thing to say. Not something Tareth had ever heard from a guy. And it was exactly what she needed to hear.

“I won’t think less of you either,” she said, trying to make a joke of it.

“Good.” He held out his hand. “Let’s take a look at those menus. Lunch was way too long ago.”

They chose a restaurant and placed their order, then sat on the couch again to wait. Justin held her hand, and for several minutes they sat there together in silence, as they had on the boat. The silence now was just as comfortable as it had been then.

Justin’s touch was just as much a fuel for desire as it had been earlier.

About the Author:

A writer since childhood, Karenna Colcroft delved into the world of romantic fiction in 2009 and brought numerous novels, novellas, and short stories into the world until 2016, when various circumstances combined to enforce a hiatus. Now Karenna is resurrecting herself and some of her previously-published books along with new books set in the same universe.

Karenna lives just north of Boston and has been in love with the city since childhood, though she has yet to encounter any werewolves, vampires, or other paranormal beings in her travels. (At least none that she knows of.) Though since in her non-writing life, under another name, she offers services as a channel and energy healing practitioner, it could be said that she herself is a paranormal being. The jury’s still out on that.

Karenna is a polyamorous, nonbinary human who splits time between the home she shares with her husband and the one she shares with her committed partner. She also has two adult children and a bonus son, three grandchildren, and two and a half cats. (Half in terms of time the cat lives with her, not in terms of the cat itself…)

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Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Eavesdrop on Producing an Audiobook with Melody Johnson #SciFiRomance

If you’re a writer and ready to learn about how to produce an audiobook, congratulations!

You’ve made it passed the breakers of writing and publishing your book, and in my experience, producing an audiobook is smooth sailing in comparison. Even if you end up needing to navigate over a few waves along the way. Having recently produced an audiobook of my sci-fi romance novel, Beyond the Next Star (Love Beyond, Book 1), I hope that my experience can help guide your own journey. And if you’re a reader, I hope you enjoy this sneak peek behind the scenes of making an audiobook.

Let’s set the scene: you’ve already put in the hard work—creating your characters, developing your plot, writing your story, editing your story, often re-writing your story—and prepared for your journey with all the tools and supplies your book needs to succeed: cover design, professional formatting, review submissions, and a marketing campaign. You’ve launched your book and implemented your promotions, and now, you’re ready to invest in the next phase of publishing: producing an audiobook edition.

In preparation for audiobook production, you have a few options to consider:

ACX vs. Findaway Voices: These two platforms are audiobook production companies with author portals where you can hire a narrator to produce your book. ACX is owned by Amazon, and they distribute to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. If you decide to publish exclusively with them, you will earn 40% royalties on your audiobook. If you publish non-exclusively, you will earn 25% on royalties, but you can distribute elsewhere, such as tolibraries, on Findaway Voices, and offer deals on Chirp—the audiobook version of BookBub.

Upfront Payment vs. Royalty Share: A voice talent will narrate your audiobook, and you have a choice of how to pay that person. You could pay them upfront for their services. This is a higher investment in your audiobook—upwards of $1,500-$2,000 depending on yourbudget per hour of narration and the length of your book—but you retain 100% of your royalties. Or you could choose to share your royalties with the narrator in a 50/50 split.

Now that you’ve decided on distribution and budgeting for your audiobook, it’s time to prepare for your narrator! You’ll need to gather a few assets:

Audition Script: The script that you develop for your narrator auditions should be less than three pages. I recommend it contain a paragraph for each point of view, and a few paragraphs of dialogue between different characters. Having a variety of snippets from your book will ensure that the narrator can showcase their range and talent

Pronunciation Guide: Most sci-fi and fantasy genres have interesting and unique names for characters and places that may require a pronunciation guide for your narrator. For Beyond the Next Star, I actually created an entire language! Luckily, I’d already developed a dictionary for my readers, so adding pronunciation to that dictionary for my narrator wasn’t too far a stretch.  

Character Guide: Some narrators want to know how many speaking characters are in your novel because they may use a different voice for each. I found this especially important during conversation scenes when there may be less dialogue tags. You wouldn’t want “he said” “she said” everywhere, but in an audiobook, having a different tone of voice speaking can make a big difference to listeners trying to follow the conversation. 

Resize Your Cover: Audiobook covers are square, a 1:1 ratio, and you should avoid text in the lower right corner where the platform may put an icon, such as if your book is on sale.

Now that you’ve gathered your audition assets, you’re ready to begin!

Create an account in your chosen platform.
Claim your book.
Open for auditions.

Narrator Auditions

During the audition process, I thought I’d need to seek out a narrator—and you certainly can if you have someone in mind. You could scout fellow authors in your genre and study their star ratings by performance. And if there’s someone with a high star rating whosenarrator appeals to you, feel free to reach out to them. However, narrators will also submit auditions to you without you having to solicit them. I experienced a broad range of talent, but listening to their auditions and hearing my written words come to life in their performances was thrilling. I recommend asking your narrator a few questions, like their availability (even if you aren’t on a hard deadline) and to make an adjustment to their audition. This will showcase their responsiveness, professionalism, and ability to take artistic feedback. Additionally, you can download their auditions. This gives you the opportunity to share their voices with reader groups, fellow authors, and friends. And then, finally, you get to choose your narrator.

15-Minute Sample

After choosing a narrator, coming to terms on pricing and deadlines, and signing the contract, your narrator will provide a 15-minute sample. That’s your opportunity to give additional artistic feedback if needed, and if any red flags appear, your chance to dissolve the contract and find a different narrator. I recommend keeping all your messages within the platform, so your conversation is documented in case it becomes necessary to change vocal talent. You have the right to change narrators before you approve the 15-minute sample or if they miss their deadlines. In my experience, switching narrators wasn’t a difficult process and ACX (the platform of my choosing) was extremely supportive and responsive to both emails and phone calls. If there’s a breach in contract or you are unhappy with their 15-minute sample, notify your narrator via the platform’s messaging system and then email ACX support. It took ten business days to dissolve the contract and put my book back into auditions. 

Edits and Approvals

Once you approve the 15-minute sample, your narrator will dive headfirst into audiobook production! You’ll have the opportunity to review the audiobook per chapter, and provide two rounds of feedback. After those adjustments are made, then it’s time for the exciting, nail-biting moment all this work has built towards: click the “approve” button. You pay your narrator, and after payment has been received, ACX will quality check your work—a 10 business day process—and then, if you chose to publish exclusively with ACX, your audiobook is distributed to Amazon, iTune and Audible!


As a published author, you know all too well that despite the journey it takes to publish a book, distribution is only the beginning to your marketing plan. Now it’s time to promote your audiobook in every way possible. In this effort, ACX provides free download codes for you to distribute to professional reviewers. I recommend taking advantage of those promo codes during a blog tour or submitting your book to Audio File Magazine. The professional reviewers who gave positive reviews to the written edition of your book are also great resources who may be interested in reviewing your audiobook. 

I wish you all the best in producing your audiobook and hope you find enjoyment as well as success in this stage of your publishing journey!

Beyond the Next Star 
Love Beyond 
Book One
Melody Johnson

Genre: Sci-fi Romance
Publisher: Incendi Press, LLC
Audio Date of Publication: September 13, 2022 
Date of Publication: June 23, 2020 
ISBN: 978-1-7351499-0-5 
ASIN: B0897S23JN 
ASIN: B0BF6126L4 

Runtime: 10 hours and 52 minutes
Word Count: 91,815
Cover Artist: Robin Ludwig Design Inc. 
Narrator: Michelle Sobeski 

Tagline: An intolerable order. A desperate charade. A deadly secret.

Book Description:

“She wasn’t dreaming, in a coma, having a mental breakdown, or in hell. She was abducted by aliens.”

Before Commander Torek Renaar can return to active duty, he’s ordered to purchase an animal companion to help relieve his PTSD symptoms. But having been a caretaker for and lost a loved one, keeping even one little human alive is a challenge he feels doomed to fail. It doesn’t help that his animal companion is the newest, most exotic breed on the market, demanding constant attention, daily grooming, and delicate handling. If she doesn’t die first in his incompetent care, she’ll be the death of him.

After witnessing the murder of her domestication specialist, Delaney McCormick allows her new owner to treat her like the pet he believes her to be. If anyone suspects she’s more intelligent than a golden retriever, her murder would be next. She endures the humiliation of being washed, the tediousness of being trained to “sit” and “come,” and the intrigue of hearing private conversations. But in Torek’s care, she finds something unexpected on this antarctic planet, something she never had in all her years on Earth while house-hopping between foster families: a home.

As companionship grows to love, must Delaney continue the charade, acting like an animal and hiding from the murderer waiting on her misstep? Or can she trust Torek with her secrets, even if the truth threatens everything he holds dear—and both their lives?

Amazon      BN      Audible      iTunes

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/DYbFY4LAQ8I  

Audiobook Sample: https://youtu.be/mbmkievDPbU   


When the lorienok abducted Delaney—after she’d finally accepted that she wasn’t dreaming, in a coma, having a mental breakdown, or in hell—she’d given them a fake name: Jane Smith. Not an exceptionally creative or unique pseudonym by any stretch of the imagination, but having come to grips with the fact that she’d been literally abducted by aliens, her imagination was stretched dangerously thin. Intergalactic kidnapping wasn’t a chronic illness, but for a time—a longer time than she was comfortable admitting to now—wasting away had seemed a preferable fate.

She didn’t accomplish much by hiding her identity. She didn’t have any blood relatives to protect, a criminal record to hide, or a trust fund to safeguard. Delaney Rose McCormick had about as much value associated with her name as did the fictional Jane Smith and left nearly as small a void on Earth. But all Delaney had in those early days directly following her abduction was her name and the hope that everything—the abduction, the tests, the training—was just a big mistake. Which, as it turned out, it was. Her abduction had been the biggest technological mistake in lorienok history, but that didn’t change her circumstances. Days turned to weeks turned to months turned to the abandonment of tracking time. Hope died. She had nothing to her name, but her name, at least, was her own, and she would keep it for herself.

By the time her domestication specialist, Keil Kore’Weidnar, discovered Delaney’s capacity to learn and taught her Lori, his native language, the issue of her name had become moot. He’d already renamed her Reshna, a spiral-shaped handheld tool used to drill into ice. He’d shown her a hologram of it, pointing to the spiral and then to the wild frizz of her unconditioned curls. They had a similar-looking tool on Earth, but they used it to open wine bottles. He’d named her “corkscrew” for her crazy hair.

She’d been called worse names in high school.

She couldn’t say she’d lived in worse places, though. Most of her foster families, with the exception of the Todd household, had been decent people who’d given her clothes, a bed under a roof, and regular meals. Besides clothes, those basic necessities were still being met, so a little gratitude was probably in order. But only just a little, because she also had a cage. And a collar. And if she’d just translated the words and growls of the pet store manager correctly, she had a new owner.

Like most lor, her owner had thick, curved ram horns jutting from his head, and like all lorienok regardless of gender, he was covered head to toe in brown fur. Sasquatch did exist after all; he just wasn’t native to Earth. He was roughly the same size and shape as a human bodybuilder, and in addition to the horns, his nose and mouth protruded slightly into a blunt muzzle, two rows of sharp predator teeth filled his overly large mouth, and pointy bearlike claws tipped each finger and likely each toe on his boot-shod feet.

Unlike most, this male wore his hair long. His locks were tied back from his face in a messy bun with a forest-green elastic band. His beard was also long and came to a point at the end, hanging a few inches below his chin. But his eyes were his most striking feature, assuming that one had already become accustomed to the ram horns, claws, abundance of muscle, and close-cropped body fur. His left eye was the same doe brown common to all lorienok—a smidge rounder and larger than human eyes, like calf eyes with those thick lashes and soul-deep stare—but his other eye was ice blue. A thick scar bisected his right brow, eyelid, and upper cheek, slicing directly over that unique, penetrating gaze.

His bearing was regal and confident, the sharp cut of his jawline proud, but his eyes betrayed him. He was sad—horribly sad—and he glowered at Delaney through the wire door of her cage like he was the Greek king Sisyphus and she his boulder, resigning himself to an eternity of labor over an impossible, futile undertaking.

Or maybe Delaney was just projecting because she couldn’t imagine anything more impossible and futile than her current existence. I am not a pet! she wanted to yell. But after witnessing Keil’s cold-blooded murder, she knew to keep her mouth firmly shut. If anyone suspected her more intelligent than a golden retriever, her death would be next.

Accomplishing impossible feats while enduring debilitating injury and sensory deprivation were challenges both expected and anticipated by the young cadets training to enter the combat and strategic intelligence division of the Federation. Qualifying exams were brutal. Training was rigorous. But for the few who didn’t fail, drop out, or obtain an infirmary discharge, the rewards were astronomical. Torek Lore’Onik Weidnar Kenzo Lesh’Aerai Renaar had certainly reaped those rewards many times over, as evidenced by the four property titles bestowed to his name. He’d never been one to flinch when facing a challenge, but this order—the court-mandated appointment of an animal companion to “facilitate mental recovery”—was the challenge that finally made him flinch.

Torek stared at the human—at the beautiful, riotous hair that sprang like coils from its head and would obviously need continual cleaning and grooming, at its tiny stature and lean form that probably couldn’t lift its own weight, at the lovely gray eyes and smooth, bare skin that would need layers upon layers of protective coverings to keep it warm—and he seriously considered the merits of simply retiring from the Federation.

No one would blame him after what had happened. He could return to his home in Aerai and resume the quiet, peaceful, unappreciated toil of plant cultivation he’d abandoned so many seasons ago along with his dreams of filling that home with a family.

The store manager hefted a bound book from the counter and plopped it into Torek’s unwilling arms.

“What’s this?” A tingle of cold dread crept across the back of Torek’s neck.

“Why, it’s your owner’s manual, of course.”

“Of course.” The Federation’s policies and procedures manual was the thickest book Torek had ever had the displeasure of memorizing, and it wasn’t even half the size of this tome.

“You’ll be the envy of all Lorien. The first to purchase a human, our newest species.

She’s the pilot for her breed, of course, but her domestication is progressing fabulously. They dispatched a harvester while she was still in transit, so until the next shipment arrives, she’s the only human we’ll have for a while yet, six kair at the least. You must be thrilled.”

As Torek flipped through a few of the manual’s pages and skimmed the table of contents, the tingle of dread that had started at his neck devoured the rest of his body and intensified to nausea. An entire chapter was dedicated to heating and insulating the human’s living quarters. If her rooms dipped below a specific temperature—Torek brought the book closer and squinted, but no, his eyes didn’t deceive him—and the human didn’t have tailored, fur-lined coverings to retain heat, she would sicken and die. If he didn’t provide her with private sleeping quarters, she would become lethargic and depressed, then sicken and die. If he didn’t feed her three meals a day, complete with a cooked protein, vegetables, and some grain, she would sicken and die. She was even allergic to ukok, a simple seasoning. If consumed, her throat would swell, cutting off her air supply, and she would immediately die.

He would kill her.

Not intentionally, of course, but despite the wild popularity of owning foreign domesticated animals, he’d never even owned a zeprak let alone something as exotic, delicate, and temperamental as this human. She wouldn’t survive a week in his care.

His throat tightened. His breath shortened. His chest ached, and suddenly, black starbursts shadowed his vision.

Not now. Not in public. Not again.

About the Author: 

Melody Johnson is the award-winning author of the “out of this world” Love Beyond series and the gritty, paranormal romance Night Blood series published by Kensington Publishing/ Lyrical Press. She graduated magna cum laude from Lycoming College with her B.A. in creative writing and psychology. 

Earning the 2021 Maggie Award of Excellence, Beyond the Next Star (Love Beyond, book 1) is an exciting branch from Melody's paranormal romance roots, keeping the dark grit from her Night Blood Series and taking it to new worlds. Her first published novel, The City Beneath (Night Blood, book 1), was a finalist in the “Cleveland Rocks” and “Fool For Love” contests. 

When she isn’t writing, Melody enjoys swimming, hiking, reading, and exploring her new home in southeast Georgia. 

Stay in touch with Melody on social media or her website: http://authormelodyjohnson.com/ 



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