Emotional Writer’s Block: Get Real or Go Home

I’ve been struggling with a WIP for over a year now, while at the same time dealing with a great deal of personal loss. For some time, I thought my inability to punch my way through the barriers in the story had to do with the initial set up: I took two strangers and isolated them on a farm in a snowstorm. For much of the story, it’s just the two of them, with no other characters for interaction.

Now, I confess, that kind of scenario is one of my favorites. Show me a story with ‘snowed in’ as a premise, and I’m one-clicking that baby. It was only a matter of time before I wrote one myself. And I’ve written novels before in which the two main characters were the only speakers onstage for much of the story. So I couldn’t understand why this story felt so wooden and dull, why the protagonists seemed to have little chemistry or sparkage.

I knew my creative energy was down because my emotional well was depleted. But I’ve written in those circumstances before, so I just didn’t get it. Why was this story being so difficult?

It finally dawned on me that the problem was I had two characters that were walled-off emotionally and unwilling to communicate. Well, let me tell you having one such character is pretty standard in romances. It’s usually the hero with the stiff upper lip,  who doesn’t share anything with the heroine until she breaks down his emotional barriers. It’s my favorite kind of hero, to be honest. But you can’t have both main characters walking around with a stick up their ass, saying “I’m fine” whenever someone asks how they are doing. Two taciturn and uncommunicative characters isn’t just difficult to write, but they’re boring to read as well.

My critique group tried to point this out early on, but I wasn’t having any of it. I was defensive of my characters and their inability to vent their emotions. I had my reasons for why they behaved in a certain way–and yet I felt the lack of connection and complained about the dullness of their interactions. Now, I don’t confuse bantering with bickering. The first is a witty, sometimes playful back and forth between the two main characters. Think Nick and Nora from The Thin Man movies or the early days of Castle. Banter isn’t mean. It doesn’t snipe at one another, taking nasty potshots along the way. I don’t want my hero to be a jerk–especially if he and the heroine are trapped together in the same house for a while. But there has to be that spark between them. And with both of my characters being tight-lipped and suffering-in-silence, that wasn’t happening.

I frequently joke that when I don’t know what to do with the plot, I blow something up or burn it down. It’s a great way of getting unstuck from a plot point, or when your characters are wasting time getting coffee or putting on makeup instead of moving on with the story. I was pounding my head on the desk trying to figure out how to get my characters to engage without turning one of them into someone I didn’t want to be around, when it suddenly hit me.

I needed an emotional fire. I needed for them to get real or go home.

There’s a lovely scene in Have His Carcase by Dorothy Sayers, in which Lord Peter and Harriet Vane are discussing this very same problem with one of her stories–and Lord Peter’s suggestion is to get real with the murderer–give him a true reason for committing the crime as opposed to being a vehicle for posing a pretty mystery puzzle. Give depth to the story beyond what the genre called for. Harriet, having just been acquitted of murder recently (thanks to Lord Peter), is reluctant to do this because it may hurt too much. Lord Peter essentially says, “What difference does that make if it makes for a better story?”

(Lord Peter really gets Harriet on a fundamental level. My goal is to one day create a romantic couple with that kind of dynamic in their relationship.)

In many ways, I believe writer’s block can be boiled down to this: an inability or unwillingness to get real with the characters. For the writer to strip themselves naked and stand on display in the form of their fictional creations. Not that characters are necessarily stand-ins for authors, but when you read that one sentence that utterly rings true for you, when someone details an experience, and you nod knowingly because you’ve had that experience yourself–that’s getting real.

And that was what was wrong with my WIP. To fix it, I went back and re-wrote all the dialog and interactions, taking out the silent, simmering refusal to emote and putting back in the emotions I’d been afraid to experience myself. 

So far, early word from my beta readers is promising. They love the WIP and think it’s better than my previous book, which is a relief, let me tell you.

So much so, it’s going to be my new motto: Get Real or Go Home.

 

Storm on the Horizon by Meredith Bond

Isn’t this a gorgeous cover? It’s Book 1 in the Storm series by Meredith Bond. I’ll let her tell you more about it! She’s got a winning combination that might just be my new catnip!

 

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that if you read McKenna’s blog you probably like paranormal romance. But what about historicals? Meh? You can take them or leave them? What? You love historical novels? Excellent! Because I’ve got a combination that’s going to blow the wand right out of your hand.

Regency-set fantasy romance.

Yep, you read that right, fantasy romance (not really paranormal which usually involves vampires or shifters, but fantasy as in King Arthur, Morgan le Fey, and Magic) set in Regency England.

Imagine, if you will, a Regency romance—beautiful balls, dancing, gowns, witty dialogue, noblemen and women—all intricately woven through with a hidden society of magical people. These people are a part of society, members of the haute ton. They could be the hero’s next door neighbor or the man your heroine danced with at Almack’s last Wednesday. They’re everywhere and they’ve got abilities that would make Lady Jersey’s stockings fall down—literally! 😊

The Vallen are a race of people descended from Morgan le Fey and the people of the magical Isle of Avalon. They are musicians, scientists, politicians, and doctors. They are the people who are simply so incredibly talented you wonder how they can be part of the human race.

Well, that’s easy, they’re not.

Their talents are magically inspired. Think of Bach and Beethoven, Copernicus, Plato and Aristotle. They were all Vallen. Their abilities come from the Earth or the Air, Water or Fire. They are a part of society and yet are able to do so much more than anyone else. And it is their job to look out for, help, and advance ordinary people and society.

That is the Vallen.

The direct descendent of Morgan le Fey is the high priestess of the Vallen. She is more powerful than any other and is tasked with ensuring that the Vallen only use their powers for good. For centuries the seventh daughter of the high priestess took over the position from her mother on her twenty-first birthday with the seventh daughter of every seventh generation being the most powerful Vallen in order to renew the power that wanes just a little with each generation.

Tatiana Ashurst is the seventh daughter of the sixth generation. She knows that she has to marry well, not just a nobleman, but a powerful Vallen because her seventh child is going to be the Seventh—the seventh child of the seventh generation. Her parents have taken her choice out of her hands because it is so important that she marry the right man.

Her twin sister, however, will have the chance to enter society, to meet, flirt and dance with any man of the ton who catches her eye. Because Tatiana herself is denied this opportunity, she’s determined to make her timid sister’s debut fantastic, amazing and perfect. What she doesn’t anticipate is that she could inadvertently risk everything—her sister’s debut and the secrecy of the Vallen—with a flash of her own hot temper. Only one man has the ability to rein in this strong, powerful woman. Only one man is the right one for her.

The first book of the Storm Series, Storm on the Horizon, is free wherever you buy ebooks. Tatiana’s story is a novella, but is followed by three full-length novels: Bridging the Storm, Magic in the Storm and Through the Storm.

And if you really love King Arthur-type stories, you’ll love the Children of Avalon Series which describes the beginning of the Vallen world: Air: Merlin’s Chalice, Water: Excalibur’s Return, and Fire: Nimuë’s Destiny (which need to be read in that order – it’s a continuing story).

Interested in learning more? Check out all my books—Regency and Regency-set fantasy at www.meredithbond.com.

Meredith Bond’s books straddle that beautiful line between historical romance and fantasy. An award-winning author, she writes fun traditional Regency romances, medieval Arthurian romances, and Regency romances with a touch of magic. Known for her characters “who slip readily into one’s heart,” Meredith loves to take her readers on a journey they won’t soon forget.  She is currently living in Europe enjoying the Bohemian life.

Merry loves connecting with readers. Be sure to find her:

 

Website: http://www.meredithbond.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/merrybond

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/merrybond/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/847484.Meredith_Bond

Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/merrybond

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Meredith-Bond/e/B001KI1SNE/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1447638858&sr=8-2-ent

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

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/meredith-bond

Newsletter: http://meredithbond.com/subscribe/

 

Dear KU: Why I’m breaking up with you

Dear KU:

This is going to be hard for me to say, but I think we should stop seeing each other.

I know that the time-honored tradition is to say it’s not you, it’s me, but I can’t. The truth is, it is you.

See, I think you’re an abuser.

You come in with great promises. I confess, they sounded fantastic. And others sang your praises. It seemed like such a loving relationship between a distributor and an author. Writers were making money, enough to quit their day jobs and concentrate on writing full-time, and in this profession that’s the Holy Grail of promises. Who wouldn’t leap at that?

Sure, the clause about exclusivity niggled a bit. Since we’re being frank here, it bugged me a lot. But my fellow authors told me that if a book wasn’t in KU, it had little hope of reaching bestseller status within a genre, and a quick glance at sales rankings seemed to support this. I worried I was giving you too much power in this relationship, but there weren’t a lot of good options out there. Besides, the risk that you’d abuse that power was all theoretical, all down the road. Some day. Not today.

But the thing I didn’t count on was the need to feed you more and more stories in order to make your magic work for me. That’s my fault, not yours. I’m incapable of cranking out a story every couple of weeks, and the idea of collaborating on a large scale with other authors under one pen name just wasn’t a good fit for me for that reason as well. So I shouldn’t have been disappointed that my stories haven’t done well in KU. There’s a lot of competition. I’ve waffled back and forth on whether I should stay in or not. I’ve put books in and taken them out. Either way, it seemed to make little difference. The reported success stories of other authors and their exclusive relationship with you would seem to suggest that it’s more me than you.

Or that could be you, gaslighting me.

Either way, I’m done waffling. I’m saying goodbye. 

The scammers are collecting the lion’s share of your pot, and it’s obvious the system is frequently manipulated. I fully believe #cockygate wouldn’t have existed without the favorable environment created by your system. The author in question is a KU All Star. I think protecting that status is what drove the author to TM the word “cocky” and prevent any books with “cocky” in the title from being sold. Not because Amazon doesn’t have a generous return policy for those people who accidentally get a book by mistake, but because people reading other books with ‘cocky’ in the title aren’t reading hers.

Because it’s all about that page count.

You know, the page count that’s been affected by glitches that you refuse to fix. The one where you can’t tell us exactly how you determine page counts, but that’s the criteria for which we get paid–fractions of a penny for every page read, by the way. Slivers.You know, the system that  benefits us until you release your bots in an attempt to get ahead of the scammers, and then lops off heads at will with little room for recourse.

Now, I’m hearing fellow authors saying they’ve been shut out of their accounts because you have accused them of manipulating the system when they only thing they’ve done is run a promotion through your own service. Not just one or two, but widespread. I know, I know, you’re trying to get the scammers, but you keep netting the innocent instead. (Any author who would like to appeal can reach out to content-review@amazon.com if they have additional questions. The Indie Author Support Network is also seeking documentation. A quote from them: 
We are continuing to compile information and ask that anyone who has had their account suspended and/or books removed from sale on the Kindle platform, to please provide any documentation you have to indie@indieauthorsupportnetwork.com. We are looking for cases of ACTUAL suspension and content removal at this time. We understand the loss of page reads is also a major concern, but the account suspension matter has our top priority.)

Here’s the thing. It’s not worth it to me. Even without KU, 80% of my sales are through Amazon. The reason is clear–the Kindle is amazing and the website is superior. I get most of my own books (and nearly everything else) through Amazon. One of the factors in Barnes and Noble’s failure to compete is that their website is horrible. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to redeem a coupon or credit and have been unable to do so. Or I follow the link to B&N to check out a special deal, only I have to log in at least three times before I can get to the page I want. I give up. Every time. I shop Amazon because it’s so easy.

So why not give Amazon the whole 100%?

Because we as authors can’t afford to have you shut down our accounts over some KU nonsense. Boom, the decree comes down and we are out of business. It’s hard enough to be an indie author without risking the ire of an impersonal god whose army of bot minions do all the dirty work. Like hiding works from buyers because they fell into an algorithm black hole. Or deciding to decrease the visibility of erotica and then mislabeling many romances as erotica. Your decisions are arbitrary enough without the exclusivity clause. I can’t afford to give you that much power over me.

We should all be thinking about what will happen to the publishing industry once Amazon owns it all. We’re already at a state where books have been devalued to the point of slivers of a penny.

Which is why I circled back to my original impression of you, KU. You’re bad for me. You’ve created a mindset where readers demand stories faster than I can produce them for ‘free’, a price I can’t afford. And while I’m not the world’s best writer–not hardly–I love stories too much to burn them as fodder for your KU fire.

When my run ends on my current promotion, we’re done, KU. We’re done.

 

 

 

Civil Hearts by Claire Gem: Love, Loss, and Ghosts? Tell Me More!

Please welcome Claire Gem as she shares with us her exciting new story: Civil Hearts!

Thank you, McKenna, for hosting me on your blog today! I’m excited to announce my new release, CIVIL HEARTS, is now available for both Kindle and in paperback. There’s an interesting story behind the story . . . but first, here’s the blurb:

 

He’s a sexy Southern gentleman—with epilepsy. She’s a widow scarred from her husband’s brain cancer. Her new home is haunted by a Confederate soldier—and she’s a Yankee.

 

A widow with no family, web designer Liv Larson yearns for big change. After all, she can work from anywhere, right? Why not throw a dart at the map? She heads out of the big city for the rural South and falls in love as soon as she arrives—with the Belle Bride, an abandoned antebellum mansion.

 

Heath Barrow loves his country life, managing his antiques store in sleepy Camellia. But he’s lonely, and his condition—epilepsy—makes life uncertain. It’s already cost him a marriage. A new medication and the new girl in town have his heart hopeful again.

 

Sparks fly between Heath and Liv. But his first seizure sends Liv into a tailspin. Its mimics those her husband suffered before he died . . .

 

To make matters worse, Liv discovers she’s not living alone. Her challenge? Dealing with a Confederate soldier, one who clearly resents his Yankee roommate—even though he’s been dead for over a hundred and fifty years.

 

~~~

 

The idea for Civil Hearts came to me in a dream. Believe it or not, this is how a LOT of my story ideas come to me, but there is a shred of true history here. Years ago, when my kids were still little, my husband and I fancied moving to central Alabama, where some friends of ours had relocated. We took a trip there, loved the countryside and the low cost of living.

 

A realtor took us around to look at a few homes—and one of them was a dead ringer for the Belle Bride. The memories of walking through that abandoned antebellum home have been buried in my subconscious for years. I got a funny, tingly sensation as we toured the lovely but poorly cared for old home, as if someone were watching us. And there was an old barn out back where I caught sight of something, some movement, I never did identify.

 

We didn’t move to Alabama, and I forgot about that chapter in my life. Until I dreamed about it. Only this time, there was a Confederate soldier pounding on the front door. A ghostly one.

 

In Civil Hearts, my hero is epileptic. I tend to address some of life’s more serious issues in my novels: the hero in Spirits of the Heart is an alcoholic; the heroine in The Phoenix Syndrome goes deaf. I think it’s important for authors to portray life as it really is, even in the romantic fairy tales we create. It’s one of the reasons I endeavor to evoke more emotion in my readers.

 

You can buy your copy of CIVIL HEARTS here.

The book trailer (which I had a blast putting together, by the way!) is here.

 

I hope you enjoy Liv and Heath’s journey, and I’d love if you’d sign up for my Author-Reader group so you’re the first to know when the next Haunted Voices, SIRENS OF SALT, will be released later this summer.

 

Thank you again, McKenna, for hosting me today.

My pleasure, Claire! I’m really intrigued by your story! 

 

Claire Gem’s Bio: Strong Women, Starting Over

   ~Redefining Romance~

Claire is a multi-published, award winning author of six titles in the genres of contemporary romance, supernatural suspense, and women’s fiction. She also writes Author Resource guide books and presents seminars on writing craft and marketing.

 

Her supernatural suspense, Hearts Unloched, won the 2016 New York Book Festival, and was a finalist in the 2017 RONE Awards. Also in 2017, her women’s fiction, The Phoenix Syndrome, was a finalist in the National Reader’s Choice Awards, and her contemporary romance, A Taming Season, was a Literary Award of Merit finalist in the HOLT Medallion Awards. Her latest release, Spirits of the Heart, was a finalist in the 2017 “I Heart Indie Awards.”

 

Creating cross-genre fiction she calls “supernatural suspense,” Claire loves exploring the paranormal and the unexplained, and holds a certificate in Parapsychology from the Rhine Research Center of Duke University.

 

A New York native, Claire has lived in five of the United States and held a variety of jobs, from waitress to bridal designer to research technician—but loves being an author best. She and her happily-ever-after hero, her husband of 39 years, now live in central Massachusetts.

 

Media Links

 

Website:                      http://www.clairegem.com

Blogs:                          http://www.clairegem.wordpress.com

                                    http://www.hauntedpathways.wordpress.com

Facebook:                    http://www.facebook.com/clairegem.author

Twitter:                       http://www.twitter.com/gemwriter

Goodreads:                  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8284235.Claire_Gem

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2nabvbm

Youtube Channel:        https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCO-vB7WDZhEQ8U4YpC937ng

 

 

 

 

Follow the Wolf Pack Giveaway!

Wolf Pack Promotions is doing a cool giveaway–from now until April 13th, every follow earns you an entry in their giveaway for two $25 Amazon gift cards and two $5 Amazon gift cards!

To enter is simple: follow the Wolf Pack on Facebook, sign up for their newsletter, and follow each of the authors listed on their Amazon pages (links provided). How easy is that? You’ll get the latest updates and news on new releases and sales from your favorite shifter authors with just a simple click!

Speaking of shifters, if you haven’t already done so, you’ll get a free sexy short story set in the Redclaw universe when you sign up for my newsletter!

 

And if you hurry, you might be able to grab a copy of The Panther’s Lost Princess at the current sale price of only 99 cents. Price is going back up in less than 72 hours!

Be sure and stay tuned for snippets on my upcoming Redclaw novel, Ghost of a Chance. Looking toward a June 2018 release!

 

To Review or Not to Review: That is the Question

For some time now,  I’ve been torn about whether or not to leave book reviews.

If you’re familiar with the show The Good Place, you know the character Chidi, an ethics scholar who ties himself up in knots every time he has to make a decision about anything, including where to have dinner. I’m not that bad, but when it comes to this particular dilemma, I go back and forth on it.

It’s only since the explosion of social media, and the encouragement of such sites as Amazon and Goodreads that the average person has been able to leave reviews–it’s a relatively recent phenomenon. Prior to that, the only way to get reviews was from major literary magazines, and that sort of thing didn’t happen unless you were already a Big Name. Amazon has been one of the great equalizers when it comes to leaving reviews, and their algorithms have shifted the balance of power to the ‘little guy’ reviewer in mass numbers.

Before that, the only time I ‘left a review’ was when I enthusiastically pushed a favorite book onto friends. The only time I knew a favorite author had published a new story was by haunting the bookstores and libraries.

I’m glad I have ways of following favorite artists now, and can keep up with new releases as they occur. But I stumble over the review process.

There are a lot of reasons for this. I’m not in the habit of leaving reviews in general. I intensely dislike the way I now get hounded with automatic emails to leave a review every time I purchase a product or use a service. Come on, I don’t need to leave a review every time I go to the dentist, peeps! Leaving thoughtful, well-written reviews is time-consuming–something that I have in short supply. Then too, if I can’t leave a glowing review, I don’t want to leave anything at all. Partly because I was raised that way, and partly for fear of backlash. I’ve seen fans go after an author who left a less-than-stellar review for another writer’s work.

But then there’s the Big Brother aspect of leaving reviews as well. I know several people who’ve had their reviewing rights revoked at Amazon because of perceived improprieties. They are mostly bloggers and people on ARC lists, so they are getting a complimentary copy of the book in question. Amazon gets snitty about non-verified purchase reviews. Okay, I get that. But sometimes it is mandatory you state how you received the copy and sometimes the review gets pulled if you state you received a free copy. Even if you received that free copy as part of an Amazon-sponsored giveaway! The rules keep changing.

Amazon also doesn’t like authors leaving reviews for other authors, despite the fact almost every author I know is a reader too. They cite conflict of interest, and pull the review. The flip side of this is if you follow an author’s social media, Amazon might deem you a ‘friend’ of the author, and your review is also treated as suspect and pulled. It’s almost like Amazon doesn’t understand how social media works outside its own algorithms. 

Then there are the authors themselves. I’ve heard Big Name Authors state they never leave reviews, and other BNA point out the importance of reviews and ask fans leave one if they enjoyed a story. And face it, we all want reviews. It’s not just about Amazon’s algorithms, either. Getting that little bit of positive feedback is like crack to a writer. We naturally want more. But it can also encourage a writer who feels their current WIP is hopeless, or bring someone back to work on a project they thought no one was interested in. Feedback like this is vital.

Which brings me back to the eternal dilemma. I recently picked the brains of fellow authors as to what they do, and I found many people feel as conflicted about this as I do. Some have stopped leaving reviews, or only leave reviews if they can rate a story with five stars. (I really, really wish the ‘star’ system would go away and people would just leave written feedback. I know Amazon uses it to rank stories, but when people 1-star a story because they misread the blurb or the book was damaged in transit, it makes me want to pull out my hair. Ditto when people low-rate a story they’ve never even read because they don’t like the subject matter…)

Because of the restrictions Amazon places on reviews, many of the authors I spoke with who do leave reviews, do so under their real name on a separate account not connected with their pen names. I’m not sure that is distant enough to satisfy Amazon, but it does solve the ‘verified purchase’ issue for the most part.

Some authors said they didn’t leave reviews at the main sites but instead wrote them on their websites and boosted them on their social media. I like this idea but I’m not sure how much that helps the author in terms of visibility on Amazon.

Then again, perhaps it’s time we stopped letting the ‘Zon dictate everything.

 

Fallen for Shame Book Tour with Anna Edwards

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Shifter love is the wildest love…
Find out for yourself with Fallen For Shame, the brand new release from Anna Edwards!

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GET IT NOW!
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BLURB:

Teagan Holland left her old pack under a cloud of prejudice. Her breed, an Asiatic wild dog, considered nothing but vermin. But as the Glacial Blood Pack are about to find out she is one the kindest people they will ever meet. The accident prone dog also has a strength within her that will be needed to help stave off the now homeless Nuka Lincoln’s attempts at revenge. Will she regret taking this job?

Tyler Quinn has been a fighter for the pack since he was eighteen. He is mysterious, and nobody knows that much about why he joined them. All they do know is that he is a fantastic cook and a bit of a computer geek. Behind the man he portrays is a secret that threatens to send him on a path that he thought he had left behind. Will the white powder be his downfall?

Fallen for Shame is the third book in the highly recommended Glacial Blood Series by the author Anna Edwards. It is set in a paranormal world full of drama, suspense and great love affairs. Plus it features a secret that must never be told for fear of the consequences.

A family isn’t always blood; it’s the people that accept you for who you are.

Although book three in the Glacial Blood Series, Fallen For Shame may be read and enjoyed as a standalone.

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ALSO IN THE GLACIAL BLOOD SERIES:
The Touch Of Snow – CURRENTLY #FREE!
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Fighting The Lies
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About Anna

Anna hails from the rural countryside near London. She previously worked as an accountant, and while she still does a bit of accountancy on occasion, the majority of her time is now spent writing and looking after her family.

An avid reader herself, Anna turned to writing to combat depression and anxiety after her diagnosis in 2015. She loves travel, hunky heroes with dirty mouths, demure but spunky heroines, and dramatic suspense. You will find all four woven into each of her magical stories.

Follow Anna Online!
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2Btjgyk
BookBub: http://bit.ly/2ySXdOx
Facebook: http://bit.ly/2yTKQC4
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2BDeGjE
Twitter: http://bit.ly/2CzwOYj
Website: https://authorannaedwards.com

All He Wants for Christmas Release Boost!

11 Holiday Shifter PNR Romances
New & Exclusive Stories


All He Wants for Christmas Box Set
Publish Date: November 1, 2017


All He Wants for Christmas ebook3d cover.jpg
Contributing Authors:
Emma Alisyn, Cecilia Lane, Ariel Marie, Shelique Lize, Ever Coming, Dottie Wilson, Anna Morgan, Paulina Woods, Starla Night, AR DeClerck, Angelique Armae
ALL HE WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS, a limited edition paranormal holiday bundle brings you a selection of new and exclusive stories guaranteed to make you blush every time you hear the words Happy Holidays.
A polar bear alpha falls in love with the dark unicorn sorceress he thought he killed in battle twenty years ago. A tiger shifter learns of the surprise he left behind with a curvy waitress…his fated mate. A dragoness fakes a mating with a bad boy to escape an arranged marriage, and discovers true love. These stories and many more are inside this steamy hot compilation.


Werewolves and bear shifters, Jack Frost (like you’ve never read him before) and fiery dragons, we have something for everyone. Each story is a must read fantasy action adventure, certain to keep you up long past your bedtime.


Ready to dive into 11 curated paranormal holiday novels and novellas? Download now because you deserve a bit of me time.


Don’t wait, this box set will only be here for a short time and then it is gone forever.



Purchase Links:
Amazon: US : AU : CA : UK


Polar Enemies by Emma Alisyn


Blurb:
He went mad with grief and murdered his mate. Only she didn’t die, and the dark unicorn sorceress Elsaday has finally returned. Will she wreak vengeance on his clan down to the last cub, or will the Solstice moon bring peace and healing?


Excerpt:


“You don’t know me. You don’t know anything about me.” She hated that at this moment he was physically stronger than her. That she felt fragile. That she wanted to lean on his chest and let him comfort her.
Theon’s arms tightened. “That’s where you’re wrong, beauty. I know you. I killed you. And, now you’re back from the dead, and all I can think about is tasting your lips.”
“Don’t,” she whispered. “It’s easier if we’re enemies. Don’t make me fall in love with you when we hate each other.”
His lips curved, but there was no humor in his winter eyes. “Too late. For both of us.”
The kiss reawakened her heart, and then shattered it into pieces.


About the Author:
Emma Alisyn writes paranormal romance because being a SAHM isn’t like how it is on television. Her lions, tigers, and bears will most interest readers who like their alphas strong, protective and smokin’ hot; their heroines feisty, brainy and bootylicious; and their stories with lots of chemistry, tension and plenty of tender moments.


Get a FREE book INSTANTLY: Join my mailing list @ smarturl.it/HowlList


Connect with Emma:


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Her Christmas Wolf by Cecilia Lane


Blurb:
Wolf shifter Tommy Conri has been burned by love, but one woman has his inner wolf sitting up and taking notice every time her brown curls bounce past his window. Can foxy Faith’s dreams of sleigh rides and mistletoe kisses mend the wolf shifter’s heart?


Excerpt:


He approached slowly, almost as if afraid she’d dart away, and stroked fingers across her cheek. Then that smirk returned and he pulled something from behind his back. He dangled the mistletoe above her head. “This is what you do, isn’t it?”
Yes, Faith wanted to scream. She stared wide eyes at the bit of greenery and then dug deep for courage.
He wanted to play? She could tease, too.
She planted her hands on his chest and stood on tiptoe. A tiny press of her lips to his was all she gave.
Only, Tommy didn’t want to play games.


About the Author:


Cecilia Lane grew up in a what most call paradise, but she insists is humid hell. She escaped the heat with weekly journeys to the library, where she learned the basics of slaying dragons, magical abilities, and grand adventures.


When it became apparent she wouldn’t be able to travel the high seas with princes or party with rock star vampires, Cecilia hunkered down to create her own worlds filled with sexy people in complicated situations. She now writes with the support of her own sexy man and many interruptions from her goofy dog.


Connect with Cecilia:


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A Tiger’s Gift by Ariel Marie


Blurb:
Dixon Blackburn had almost let his mate slip through his fingers. Upon his return, he discovered that he had left more behind than just his mate.


Excerpt:


Deja crept back to her bed as slow as she could. She sent up a prayer that she could make it to the plush mattress, where she could potentially get at least one more hour of sleep. Her eyes were heavy and begged to shut. She took another step and reached her hand out.


Almost there.


The wood floor was usually unforgiving, but tonight, the big guy upstairs was looking out for her. She leapt and landed softly on the bed, then quickly crawled underneath her comforter as she tried to hide from the chilled air. She held her breath and peeked from beneath her cover and stared out across her small bedroom.


Quiet.


She sighed as she rolled over onto her side, and tucked her pillow beneath her head.


“Thank goodness,” she whispered.


Her three-month-old son, Augie, was still asleep. August Dixon Scarlett was her pride and joy. Right now, the little stinker had yet to master the art of sleeping through the night.
If she weren’t so tired she would laugh at herself. Life as a single mother to a three-month-old was certainly not glamorous, but she wouldn’t trade it for all the money in the world.
But she knew that one day it would come. She just had to hold out and continue working with him to finally get her much-needed, sleep-filled nights.


She peeked over at the small crib again and took in his still form. He was her angel, her everything.


She wished she didn’t have to do the single mom thing, but it was what it was. There was no way that she could contact his father and tell him that he had left her a little present.


She sighed.


His father.


There wasn’t a day that went by that she didn’t think of Dixon. He was her tall, dark, and handsome that she had met a year ago while working as a waitress at the Ski Bar and Grille. The minute their eyes had met, her body reacted to his like no other man before. He and his friends had kept her laughing all night while she served them, but it was him that she had eyes for, and he for her.


Dixon, as all other patrons of the Ski Bar and Grille, had come to Breckenridge for the fun, snow, and skiing. He had come into the bar a total of three times, always requesting to be seated in her section. By the last time, he had won her over with his intense amber eyes. Just remembering his heated look had her squeezing her legs shut.


How could a memory of a single look make her want him all over again?


About the Author:


Ariel Marie is an author who loves the paranormal, action and hot steamy romance. She combines all three in each and every one of her stories. For as long as she can remember, she has loved vampires, shifters and every creature you can think of. This even rolls over into her favorite movies! She loves a good action packed thriller! Throw a touch of the supernatural world in it and she’s hooked!


She grew up in Cleveland, Ohio where she currently resides with her husband and three beautiful children.


Connect with Ariel:
Newsletter Sign Up: http://eepurl.com/clg-H1


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Demon Beauty by Shelique Lize


Blurb:
As a bastard, Kyra has spent her entire immortal life hiding from the powerful Demon lord her mother betrayed. When she stumbles upon Marek, a Wyvern shifter being attacked by a pack of demons. Can Kyra and Marek put aside their differences, to survive the demons now hunting them both?


About the Author:


Shelique Lize is a mother of two beautiful baby girls, and a wife to the luckiest man on the planet. It took her five years to write Velicious, but once her first daughter was born, she decided to revisit the world that she had created. Falling in love with her characters all over again, she wanted to finish their story. Velicious Part Two was written in half the time.


Shelique loves anything to do with the paranormal world. She’s a proud Canadian but dislikes winter. She prefers watching the snow falling beautifully from inside a warm home.


The movie Grease is her all time favorite movie. She loves all romance movies. She thinks everyone should still watch Disney movies. Sailor Moon is her favorite anime. Currently, she likes to listen to The Weekend and Lana Del Rey, and she’s pretty open to every other genre of music.


Connect with Shelique:


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A Very Beary Christmas by Ever Coming & Lila Gray


Blurb:
Down in Shotgun Row, far away from Mardi Gras and the French Quarter, a crew of mismatched beasts clash and mangle mingle with their beasts and each other. None of them have found a mate. Their beasts are too fierce. Their manners too gnarly. Their reputations, vengeful and swift. Then Tansy moves into town, taking over her grandmother’s bakery, Etienne knows something is unique about her. One of the motley crew from the infamous Shotgun Row might have just found their his mate.


Excerpt:
I winked at her. “I know, darlin’. I’m doing okay, okay enough to help out someone I care about.”
She sprang to the defense. “I’ll pay you back. This is just a loan. With interest.”
Rolling my eyes, I answered, “You will not. But that was a good try. Go get your son and hurry it up. We’re losing daylight.”
“Oh—okay.” She grabbed her tattered purse and went outside, but of course, not past the back yard. While I sprinted back to my house and started up my truck, I couldn’t help but smile. She was back in my life again—returned like a hurricane to pick up their next victim and I was happy to be caught up in her storm.
I had a chance for her to be mine again. She’d always been mine in my heart and this time I wouldn’t be losing her to anyone.


About the Authors Ever & Lila:


Ever coming and Lila Grey have been friends for years and often spend hours discussing  all things shifters. They have recently began writing as a team, their first series, The Shifters of Shotgun Row which features, among other things, smexy gators.  To follow the duos crazy foray into the bayou, please follow them at Www.shotgunrowshifters.com and sign up for their newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/c89ub9.             


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School of Ice & Whispers by Jacqueline Sweet & Devon March


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Dragon Solstice by Anna Morgan


Blurb:
Desrea wants to find her true dragon mate, but her mother thrusts her into an arranged marriage with an older man she’s never met. No offense to Lorren, but Desrea wasn’t built to sit at home while a man provides. To escape the contract, she fakes a mating with bad boy Ryker. However, the powyr of the Solstice has other plans. Desrea’s mate might be Lorren, or it could be Ryker, because there’s no way she’s fated to love both.


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A Genie’s Sacrifice by Paulina Woods


Blurb:
Being a giver in the genie world is not as glamorous as humans think. For the length of the sentence, their life is not their own. When Persha is gifted to a polar bear shifter named Brandon, she prays that she will be able to guard her heart. But when they find themselves bouncing between worlds, the spark turns into a flame and it will take a sacrifice for them to find happiness.


About the Author:
Some people write because they love it, others because it pays the bills but for Paulina it’s a compulsion. Even before she published her first book she carried around notebooks to write in and could be found lost in thought as she scribbled away. From funny to dark, her thoughts flowed from her fingertips like water from an undying well. When she finally decided to publish it felt natural. This was what all her writing had been about over the years.
Her world may be a little dark and scary. Sometimes it may seem like she has fallen deep into a pool of despair but each character, each moment has been predestined from the beginning of time.


Connect with Paulina:


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Her Perfect Christmas Dragon by Starla Night


Blurb:
Can this sweet, curvy pet groomer teach a gorgeous, implacable dragon shifter alien the true meaning of Christmas, or are they both about to get burned?


Excerpt:


Peridot shortened the distance, keeping the delectable, sugar-and-cinnamon-scented female at arm’s length. Close enough to rescue from another tumble. Far enough away to keep his unwelcome, nearly unmanageable desires in check.
Karmel hummed along with the holiday music as she wove between shoppers, her curves swinging as she walked. The tag on her threadbare dress curled up above the hem, tickling the back of her neck.
It took all of his will not to reach over and tuck it in.
Because if he did, he might not be able to stop himself from caressing her slender neck. And then tasting her delicate skin.
With his teeth.


About the Author:
Starla Night was born on a hot July at midnight. She hikes, scuba dives, and swims naked in the ocean. She writes about smoking-hot dragon-shifter billionaires and steamy alpha merman-shifters at http://starlanight.com/


Connect with Starla:


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The Naughty List by AR DeClerck


Blurb:
Christmas was never kind to Merry. Her best friend had disappeared one cold winter’s night, and she had lived her life in solitude ever since. But a chance encounter with a jolly neighbor leaves her with a very surprising gift under the Christmas tree.


Excerpt:


“So you left to find your parents?”
“No. I left because Krampus recruited me.”
She moved away from him to the other end of the couch. “Excuse me?”
He turned to her, his face hard but his eyes beseeching her to believe him. “Krampus recruited me.”
“To do what, exactly?” Her voice was shrill with barely controlled hysteria. The man she’d yearned for these last ten years was certifiably out of his mind.
“To take care of the Naughty List.”


About the Author:
Wife. Mother. USA Today Bestselling Adventure Romance Novelist. Food assassin. Reading ninja. Self-proclaimed nerd. All-around goofball.
AR DeClerck spends her days wrangling a job, family and pets and she spends her nights writing romance novels from the comfort of her couch. She believes that LOVE is the greatest adventure of all, and she never wants her readers to forget the feeling of falling in love.


Connect with AR:


Newsletter Sign Up: http://eepur.com/cecnzL


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A Touch of Tinsel by Angelique Armae


Blurb:
When she flees a brutal relationship with an evil Fae prince, Irish witch Sloane McKinley falls into the arms of vampire selkie king Roane CuMara. But can she truly escape when the Fae prince threatens to destroy Sloane’s family if she doesn’t turn over Roane’s selkie pelt by Christmas Eve?


Excerpt:


There were two things alchemist Sloane McKinley knew never to do.
One—never misjudge a dark Fae. Those enticing creatures were nothing but empty souls behind their cunning masks. To destroy your magick, they’ll prey on your soul, pull you so far down the abyss, you’ll end up needing to be spoon fed.
Two—never engage a vampire selkie in hopes of earning his aid against said Fae. That mistake will only land you in the fangbearer’s bed—naked—your desires too stoked to be doused by anything less than complete submission to the beast.
Tonight she broke both rules.


About the Author:
National best-selling author Angelique Armae / J. C. Makk is a native New Yorker who loves all things royal, can trace her Irish roots back to the Scottish Highlands, is half Italian, and is owned by a long-haired Tuxedo feline. As a child her favorite toy was Emerald The Witch, a small doll with green eyes, green hair and purple skin. She spends most days writing, unless her cat deems otherwise.


Miss Armae’s books and novellas have garnered numerous awards and nominations, including the Sapphire Award, P.E.A.R.L. Award and Word Weaving Award. Her books have also been featured on Midwest Book Review’s Book Watch TV. Angelique’s first novel, COME THE NIGHT, made Fictionwise’s Best of the Best list, rounding out the top five best selling dark fantasy books of the year. Since the release of COME THE NIGHT, Angelique’s books have made Amazon’s Overall Kindle Bestsellers List (top 30), Barnes and Noble’s NOOK list (top 10), iBooks Bestsellers List (top 50) and Kobo’s Romance Bestsellers List (top 10), as well as various other bestsellers lists.


Aside from writing, Angelique also dabbles in digital art. She is the recipient and two time nominee of the Dream Realm Award for best cover art.


When not working, Miss Armae enjoys traveling, learning about the ancient Celts, exploring history, and learning new languages. After studying design in London, England, Angelique returned to the States and studied history and French literature at Skidmore College.


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You Don’t Have to Wear All The Hats: The Indie Author’s Secret to Staying Sane

I’ve worked with publishers and I’ve published on my own. One of the biggest differences between the two is how much work the publisher does on your behalf: cover art, editing, sending your book out to review sites and so on. There’s also the advantage of the built-in audience your publisher already has, the value of a larger group newsletter, as well as networking opportunities with other authors in the same publishing house. Sure, when you go indie, you retain more control over every little detail of your work. You get to set your production schedule, get to choose your cover artist, have the last word on editing, and receive a bigger share of the royalties. But there’s a reason publishers take the lion’s share of sales earned. 

You have to wear a lot of hats to be an indie author.

There are some people who love this. They relish having all the control. But there are others who are overwhelmed with spinning all the plates at once: finding a good cover artist and editor. Scouring the review sites to find ones that will accept your story. Lining up beta readers and ARC readers. Designing eye-catching graphics and running Facebook groups. Scheduling posts across the board to all your social media sites. Holding giveaways and writing guest blog posts. All the while working on the next release because we all know the next story is your best advertisement.

Where does anyone find the time to do all of this? Especially if you haven’t a freaking clue how to set up a newsletter or your attempts at  website design or graphics look as though a second grader created them?

The good news is you don’t have to wear all the hats. (Do you like my image above? It was from a Peggy Carter cosplay photo session I did last month 🙂 ) You are allowed to delegate.

The bad news is you might have to pay for that delegation.

Here’s my take on where you can and cannot skimp.

  1. Pay for an outstanding cover. No, seriously, you can’t let your BFF with Photoshop make your book cover unless he or she is a graphic artist and is looking to expand their portfolio. For one thing, you can get in a lot of trouble if your cover artist isn’t using royalty-free images (or images they purchased) that have been licensed for cover art. But even more importantly, if your cover art looks like it’s been done by an amateur, if it doesn’t match genre expectations, then readers will give your story a hard pass. People DO judge a book by its cover. And a crappy cover will sink even the most amazing story. You have a nano-second to catch a reader’s eye and make them take a second look with your story. Don’t blow it with a crappy cover.
  2. Pay for quality editing. Yes, good editing is expensive. There’s a reason for that. An editor doesn’t just correct your grammar and punctuation, though that is important. A good editor tells you when you use repetitive phrases or actions. When your story has continuity errors or plot holes you could drive a truck through. When you are writing outside genre expectations. A good editor meets deadlines and does more than give your story a cursory read. It may take time to find an editor that’s a good match for you, but when you find him or her, cling to them for all they are worth because they are worth their weight in gold. Readers will notice crappy editing and comment on it in their reviews.
  3. Formatting: if you can’t figure it out, pay someone to do it. There are lots of people out there who offer formatting for all the major outlets for reasonable fees. Nothing pisses a reader off more than weird formatting on their e-readers. Yes, there’s software out there like Calibre that will put your book in the different formats, but if you want elegant formatting–pretty chapter headers or reliable reading across the different file formats–pay someone. If you have to cut costs (and believe me, I’ve been there) teach yourself how to do it.
  4. Graphics: Social Media Posts and Teasers. This is a tough one for me because there are some great options out there for creating your own, like Canva. However, I simply don’t have the time right now to learn how to make sophisticated graphics. I can make a serviceable image, but an elegant one? Not so much. If I have to chose between spending 3 hours messing around with Canva to produce an image that looks cheesy or write 3 K on the WIP, I’m going to choose the WIP every time. Eventually, my skills will improve. But in the meantime, I’ll pay someone to give me this:It doesn’t have to be expensive. Talk to your friends. You probably have friends who would love to make something like this for you without charging you an arm and a leg. Or again, find that graphic artist looking to expand their portfolio.
  5. Marketing: You have to do it. You can’t simply launch your book like Noah releasing a dove from the deck of the Ark, hoping it will eventually return with evidence of dry land. I wasn’t able to nail down exact numbers but read that in 2014, Amazon reported at least 5 K new releases each day. You might think that’s insane, but what’s really crazy is expecting your book to get singled out among the pack for notice if you make no effort to call it to anyone’s attention. I highly recommend Bad Red Head Media’s 30 Day Book Marketing Challenge. Get it. Read it. Do it. If you want to pay someone to promote your book you can, but this is one area if you’re willing to do the legwork yourself, it will pay off.
  6. Create a Book Bub account for yourself. If someone follows you, boom. They get notified every time you have a new release. Post that link on your website so people can find and follow it. Easy. Free.
  7. If you don’t have a clue what you’re doing, consider hiring someone to teach you the ropes at first. Yeah, you hear me say ‘hire someone’ a lot, and believe me, I know what it’s like not to have the funds to do that. But you only have a couple of options: Teach yourself or pay someone to do it for you or pay someone to teach you to do it yourself. I’m a big believer in hiring the right help to teach you how to do it for yourself.
  8. Don’t have the discretionary funds to pay for the right help? I get that. Then join groups/lists/sites where you can learn what you need to know for free. Consider offering your services to another newbie needing to learn the ropes. I like the ‘watch one, do one, teach one’ philosophy because I think (aside from being a cool thing to do) sharing what you’ve learned helps you retain those lessons. Face it, if you only ever set up a newsletter once every few years, you’re going to forget how to do it.
  9. Decide what’s really important to you and what works best. Don’t waste your time on things that frustrate or annoy you. If participating in every Facebook group or wasting hours on Tumblr is not your thing, don’t do it. You only have so much time and most of it should be spent working on the next story. Because even though it isn’t sexy or cool to say it, THE NEXT STORY IS YOUR BEST ADVERTISEMENT. Sure, there are lots of people out there willing to teach you how to make your next book a bestseller but if you aren’t writing and releasing on a regular basis, it’s all for naught. Readers are like stray cats: feed them and they will come. Stop feeding them, and they will drift off in search of food elsewhere.
  10. Check out the time-saving options for scheduling posts across various sites. Crosspost whenever you can. This post will automatically appear on my Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Tumblr pages. When I use Hootsuite to schedule a post, I can set it to post to Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook simultaneously. Simplify your life whenever you can. But pick a schedule and post regularly. Your audience, like stray cats, will expect you at certain times once you establish your schedule. Don’t disappoint them.

One other thing I would add: be authentic. I confess, I struggle sometimes to balance the author side of me with the part that is enraged about world events or just wants to post pictures of my pets. Don’t work so hard at presenting your brand that you show your readers someone who doesn’t actually exist. Yeah, there’s a risk in revealing your real self. You might lose readers. But truthfully, your real self is revealed in every word you write. So what do you really have to lose?

Bottom line: if you have the time, energy, and skills to teach yourself what you need to know to be a successful indie author, go for it. But in those areas where you have doubts, where your skills are subpar, hire the right help until you can master those skills. There are some things I believe should always be left to the experts–cover art and editing being the biggies–but be ruthlessly honest with yourself. If you’ve been skimping on services because you can’t afford them, consider saving up to give your story the best launch possible before releasing it into the world. After all, you want that dove to bring back an olive branch.

Are You A Book Addict?

I started to write a post about my addiction to diet and health books, but as I was gathering the evidence for a photo, I realized I had a much bigger problem: I’m addicted to buying books in general.

No seriously.

I have stacks of unread books all over the house. Books are piled precariously on counter tops and nightstands. They threaten to topple over whenever the cat brushes past them, and on more than one occasion, I’ve had to rescue a book from the jaws of the puppy.

The last time I moved, for giggles and grins, I counted my books as I was packing them. I stopped after 5 K because it was slowing me down. And that’s not even counting what I have on my Kindle! Many I’ve re-read dozens of times. Some I’ve only read once. But lately my TBR stack has grown out of control, and I strongly suspect some of the books I’ve snagged will never be read at all.

The Japanese have a delightful word for this: tsundoku. I am tickled to know there is a word for this, because it means I’m not alone.

 

According to Wikipedia, it means “acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up without reading them.” The image I’m posting here could have been taken from house, if I had the acres and acres of lovely bookshelves pictured here.

Truth be told, it wouldn’t matter how many bookshelves I had, I’d still have an overflow of stacks of unread books waiting their turn.

That’s not to say I won’t read these books. Some day I will. I used to read five or six books a week, so buying books on this scale wasn’t unreasonable. I don’t have that kind of time anymore, particularly since I’m writing as well. I love books. I love going to bookstores and libraries. I love going to someone’s home and checking out their book collection. You can learn a lot about a person by the books they have. 

I hear people talk about decreasing clutter and getting rid of their books because they have electronic readers now. I get it, I do. I see the attraction of having your library on a single device, never being at risk of running out of reading material, only battery life. But it saddens me just the same. I envision homes of the future where blank sterile walls greet you as you walk in, and you cannot glean any information as to your host’s tastes in literature because their library is entirely digital.

And I worry about the future of writing as an industry when I see fewer people reading, and more people exhibiting signs of a decreasing attention span–a problem fostered by our addiction to smart devices. The people who used to read on the bus or waiting in line now seem to be scrolling their Twitter feeds or streaming a television show.

Maybe I’m part of a dying breed, but I came from a time when books were the major gateway to another world, a different existence. They connect us to the past, and with great minds that have gone before us. With a book, far more than with any other medium, I can step into the story and be a part of it. Books have saved my life more than once. I lived for sci-fi and mysteries when I was a teenager. I still reach for my favorite horse and dog books when I need comfort. And there are some series, like the Lord Peter Wimsey books or the Amelia Peabody mysteries, that I’ll read over and over again.

I like to think there will always be readers because there will always be storytellers. That’s the part of me that wants to believe in a happily ever after.

 

These days, I need to believe in a happily ever after. Life is kind of stressful and I need the escapism of a good book. At least I never have to worry about not having something to read! So yeah, maybe I’m hoarding books just a bit. Maybe it is an addiction. But as addictions go, there are worse ones to have.