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Cover Reveal: A Handful of Fire by Alexis Alvarez

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I am in LOVE with this cover of A Handful of Fire by Alexis Alvarez!

PREORDER NOW!
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2ob1tIa

Release Date: April 11th
Cover Designer: Okay Creations
ADD TO YOUR TBR: http://bit.ly/2mPPn72

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A taboo relationship…steamy passion…and secrets that can ruin everything.

Single father Gabriel Baystock is rich and powerful, educated and handsome – and helpless when it comes to ensuring his son Michael recovers fully from a childhood cancer. He’ll do anything, even hire award-winning child therapist Shai Bonaventura.

Shai is drawn to brooding, sexy Gabriel, and while she falls in love with the little boy she’s hired to help, she loses her heart to his father. Their powerful chemistry is off the charts hot, and Shai thinks he might be the one to help heal her own demons, even if it means crossing professional boundaries.

But when old secrets from Shai’s past are revealed, it’s not clear if their fragile relationship can survive the harsh reality of the real world…or whether they have the courage to fight for what they really need?

A Handful of Fire is a full-length stand-alone romance (about 80K words) with an HEA. It’s a contemporary love story with a high heat level and gorgeous, poetic prose.

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AUTHOR BIO:

Alexis Alvarez writer erotic fiction. Her books feature strong, intelligent sassy heroines who may enjoy being submissive in the bedroom, but are never doormats or pushovers.

You can find more about her work on her website www.graffitifiction.com, where she and her two real-life sisters – who are also romance writers – blog about their books.

In addition to being a romance author, Alexis is also a photographer and digital designer. She enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and making really inappropriate jokes.

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AUTHOR LINKS:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2bjS9vm
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlexisAlvarezAuthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14127116.Alexis_Alvarez
Website: http://graffitifiction.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlexisAlvarezWr

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Going After Your Dreams

Chase Your Dreams!

When I was about 10 I fell in love with reading. I started out like most kids with Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary. Seriously, who didn’t love Ramona Quimby or Superfudge? I was going through these books so fast that I was quickly running out of “appropriate” things to read. By age 12 I was reading Sweet Valley High romances and started writing my own version of those when I couldn’t get my hands on new ones in the series. By 13 I’d discovered my mother’s secret stash of historical romances.
Like many latchkey kids, I was bored and nosy. I found a shelf in my mother’s closet that contained rows and rows of these thick books featuring women in amazing gowns and men with lots of muscles and long gorgeous hair. The titles were even exotic. Savage Thunder, Defy Not The Heart, and The Fires of Winter.  Certainly not the kinds of titles you’d find on a teen romance. I would occasionally flip through them but was daunted by their length. One day I discovered one of the books not only had a character with my name, but it was about a third smaller than all the others. That was enough for me to give it a chance.
I opened the book, right there in the closet, and began reading. 4 hours later when my mother came home I was still sitting in the closet and was almost finished with the book. That was it. I was hooked. The sex didn’t concern me. It wasn’t actually graphic, just passionate. I’d seen much worse on cable TV. My mother wasn’t mad, except for the fact my chores hadn’t gotten done and I was sitting in her closet (which actually confused her more than anything I think).
I started going through my mother’s collection of romances one by one for the next 3 years. What hooked me was the unlikely pairings, the “I’d die for you” devotion, and the fact that no matter what they faced somehow they came together in the end to be together.

Happily Ever After.

Who doesn’t want that?
I’ve heard parents blame a young girl’s unrealistic expectations of love and romance on Disney and their multiple princes who always save the day for their true love. Disney had nothing to do with creating the hopeless romantic in me. It was Penelope Neri, Johanna Lindsay, and Julie Garwood. Even though these stories were set mostly in other countries and all in another time I came to love escaping into the lives of the heroines who tested the boundaries of society, pushed the limits of ladylike behavior, and always found their happy ending in the arms of true love. From Indian maidens to viking princesses to duchesses of grand estates, they all had one thing in common; a happy ending.
Early on I started imagining how I wanted the book to end before I ever got to the ending. Sometimes I was right in line with the author, sometimes their ending was much more intricate than I could have imagined, and sometimes I really believed my ending would have made the book better. I was feeding my imagination and building stories in my head before I was even fully aware of what love and romance were all about.
I didn’t have a traditional English or Grammar teacher. Mrs. Cook was more concerned with teaching mythology, Shakespeare, and all the manias and phobias. I still don’t know how to diagram a sentence and I couldn’t tell you what a split infinitive is, but I can tell you how the Goddess, Athena, was born and draw you a pretty accurate depiction of an Elizabethan theater. The rules for commas are lost to me, just ask my friend the editor, and my ability to stay in the same tense comes and goes.
Then came my Junior year of high school with American Literature followed by a Senior year with World Literature. From Dante’s Inferno to Pride and Prejudice to The Raven to Canterbury Tales. I LOVED IT ALL. In college I read W.E.B. DuBois, Flannery O’Connor, Sylvia Plath, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. This list goes on and on and there were so few that didn’t fascinate me.
I took every writing class I could get into and found that after years of reading my imagination was endless. My technique definitely not comparable to the greats, but I was a bottomless well of ideas. I could pick and emotion and write a story that would make my teacher feel it. I could pick a life and convince the reader I’d lived it.

I’d found my passion.

Many people go through life never finding what it is they are passionate about. I KNEW I wanted to be a writer. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was meant to write. I had no idea what I wanted to write but I knew I had to tell stories.
Like most people life went on and I got busy just making a living and my dream was put on the back burner, ignored, and almost forgotten. I was still reading anytime I could, but I’d stopped writing.

The Book That Changed Everything

In 2011 a phenomenon happened when a previously unpublished writer self-published and self-promoted a trilogy of romances set in a fictional world of billionaires and BDSM. It took off like no other adult book I’ve ever seen. The sex scenes made those historical romances seem innocent. The main character of Christian Grey was suddenly creating a frenzy of women who coined the term “Book Boyfriend.” He was sexy, rich, mysterious, a little dangerous, and would do anything to keep his woman. Without the half naked people on the covers moms everywhere were able to put these books in their purse without fear of being caught with their smutty, romantic reads. Finally giving into the trend I read the trilogy, in less than a week, and then craved more. I quickly found authors with similar works featuring alpha men and luxurious lifestyles where possibilities were endless and creative sexuality was encouraged. All that had been “taboo” was no longer. I fell in love with other authors like Julie Kenner, Maya Banks, and Tara Sue Me.
Now a woman in my late 30s and early 40s my imagination was sparked in new ways and I began to write again. Short stories. Snippets of scenes. Nothing extensive. Thanks to social media I was able to follow and actually interact with authors I was reading. One of the best days of my life was when Julie Kenner sent me a friend request on Facebook then just a few months later another author idol of mine, Lauren Blakely, saw a post I’d written mentioning her and she also sent me a friend request. These are women selling millions of books to millions of fans and I can now interact with them directly. I found indie authors of every sub-genre of romance and through social media interaction started actually building friendships and have extensive conversations with these women. Through these authors I’ve discovered other authors who I not only like as people but love as authors. My book collection, both paperback and e-book, is massive. I’ve become engrossed in the world of romance and writers.

BUT…

The more I read the more I doubt I have any place among these amazing writers. Some offer to read what I’ve written and many encourage me to just write until I get more comfortable with my skill level and improve naturally with time and practice. Fear has a way of making a person immobile. Fear of not being good enough and of being a small fish lost in a giant ocean kept me from even trying. I kept making excuses to keep my dream just that, a dream.
I started this blog to give me an outlet to write whatever I wanted without fear of success or failure. It’s for me. It’s nice that others have read it and enjoyed it when I’ve written, but that wasn’t the point. I would never have guessed that this one thing I did just for me would lead to all the crazy things happening just over the last several months.
First, I received and email from and unknown sender. I actually opened it simply because of the subject. Smut For Charity. Wouldn’t you open it?  It was an offer for previously unpublished bloggers of romance to submit their own short story for publication in an anthology. I read that email probably 10 times and kept finding excuses not to reply. I didn’t have time, I didn’t have the energy, I wasn’t good enough, I didn’t have any fresh ideas, etc, etc. Then my daughter came to visit me. After listening to all the “practical” reasons she was putting aside her dream of art school and seeing her enthusiasm for art dwindling because she believes that her dreams are always going to be out of reach I was heartbroken for her. A parent never wants to see their child settle for less than their greatest potential no matter how impractical or impossible it might seem. But here I was doing the same thing I didn’t want her to do. I had all kinds of excuses for why I couldn’t be the writer I always dreamed of being.
So I answered the email. I kept putting off writing my story because I didn’t think it would come out as well as the ideas that were forming in my head. Finally I made a promise to one of the ladies putting together the anthology of a day I would submit my story by. Someone was counting on me to follow through. I wrote my story in less than two days and sent it in.  There’s things I’d change now if I could since I’ve reread it probably 100 times but it’s my first time and you learn as you go. The people who have read my story have given me a lot of great feedback. So much that I decided that this year I would face another fear and take on the challenge of NaNoWriMo. That’s National Novel Writing Month, which is November, and meeting a goal of 50,000 words written. I’m not at my goal yet, but I’m well on my way. In the meantime the anthology is being put together as I write this and is due to release on November 29th. My story is not only the first one in the book, but also an excerpt from the book I’m writing for NaNoWriMo will be in the back of the book. We have several prominent authors supporting us and promoting the anthology. Even Ms. Julie Kenner has offered to promote the release, among other super supportive author friends I’ve made.
As an unpublished writer I’m learning the cost of things like editors and formatters and cover art. I have an amazing author friend who offered to edit my first work for me when I’m ready, which is a HUGE chunk of the cost, and so many ready to support and share my solo book when it comes out and my short story isn’t even out yet. I’m facing these fears reluctantly but every step of the way I keep reminding myself that I want to show my daughter that if you want it you have to go for it. You can’t give up before you’ve even tried. You can’t make excuses and expect any results. I’ve already invested in cover art for two books and have the support and push from those who won’t let me turn back.

Every day I write a little. Some days I write a lot. What matters is at the end of the day, before you close your eyes, ask yourself this question; what did I do today to get one step closer to making my dreams a reality? It doesn’t matter how small it is, do something, EVERY SINGLE DAY and don’t settle until you’ve exhausted every possibility. You can’t be the best if you don’t try. You can’t grab the trophy if you don’t show up.

Reading romances taught me if you want it bad enough you make it happen. Never give up hope until you find your Happily Ever After.

Monique P.

chances

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BOOK BLITZ: Ugly by Margaret McHeyzer

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Ugly by Margaret McHeyzer

Available Now!

From New York Times bestselling author Margaret McHeyzer….

If I were dead, I wouldn’t be able to see.

If I were dead, I wouldn’t be able to feel.

If I were dead, he’d never raise his hand to me again.

If I were dead, his words wouldn’t cut as deep as they do.

If I were dead, I’d be beautiful and I wouldn’t be so…ugly.

I’m not dead…but I wish I was.

GOODREADS LINK:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25987654-ugly

See The Trailer:

GET YOUR COPY TODAY!

US:  http://amzn.to/1R2UjdD

UK:  http://amzn.to/1H0n8BR

AU:  http://bit.ly/1i2rTEj

B&N:  http://bit.ly/1LMvYoU

Kobo:  http://bit.ly/1SaOmO3

iBooks:  http://apple.co/1H0ng4g

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FROM UGLY:

It’s days like today I wish I was dead.

“Lily Anderson, you get your ugly ass out here right this minute. Don’t make me come after you,” Daddy screams.

He’s so angry. I knew the moment I heard him come home from work I was in for it. I was in my bedroom, lying on the floor trying to do my math. He slammed the front door so hard the windows in my room shook.

And then I knew, I knew I was in for it.

“Lily Anderson!” he yells again.

As soon as I heard him yell I ran to my hiding spot. I’m inside the closet in the hallway, wedged as far into the corner as I can get. Mom’s old coat hangs in front of me and I can still smell a faint waft of the perfume she used to wear.

“Lily Anderson!” he shouts. I can hear the anger in his voice and I can already feel the pain he’s going to inflict on me when he opens the closet door. I know what’s coming.

I close my eyes tight, scrunching them up so no light can seep through. I put my hands over my ears so I can’t hear him.

“I swear to God; if I have to find you, you will not sit for a month.”

My knees are folded into my chest. I’m trying to make myself small, invisible, so he forgets I’m here. I’m rocking myself, trying to block out what he’s saying.

School is safe. School is safe. School is safe. I keep repeating the mantra because in a few short hours I’ll be back at school. Maybe tomorrow I can go to the library after school, stay there until it closes and then sneak in after Dad’s passed out, because he’s had too much to drink.

It was never like this before. Ever.

I’m twelve years old and I can remember when Mom, Dad, and I were all happy. But that was years ago. It’s been a long time since there’s been any happiness in this house.

Well, before Mom died anyway, and not a day since.

Mom died when I was nine. I don’t remember much about her, except I remember her telling me how ugly I am. How life would be better if I was taken away from them. How I’ll never be anything, because I’m stupid and ugly.

Sometimes I dream happy things. Like me, Mom, Dad and a little blond-haired boy all going for a picnic. The sun beamed down on us as we played outside and laughed. We’d eat yummy sandwiches Mom made for us, and we’d drink homemade lemonade. We’d spend hours outside, laughing and talking and just having fun. Mom would tell me how pretty I am, and how much she loved me. She would play with my hair, braid it, and then we’d go and pick bright flowers to take home and put in a vase. Dad would smile and call us “his girls”, always kissing Mom and hugging me. Dad would put the little boy on his shoulders and run around the park, trying to catch the clouds.

I love those dreams, and I hold onto them; wishing they were real. But I’ve never had a mom like that, and my dad doesn’t talk much unless it’s with his fists, or to tell me how ugly and useless I am.

I feel him walking around the house. The floorboards creak and the vibrations from his footsteps come through the floor to where my bottom is. I close my eyes tighter and try and breathe as quietly as I can.

Please go away, Daddy. Please go away.

My heart is beating so fast. My hands are shaking and I’m trying really hard not to think about what’s going to happen the minute he opens the closet door.

Shhh, it’s so quiet. The only sound is my heart thrumming in my ears. Nothing else. Not a whisper, not a rattle…nothing.

Maybe Daddy’s left. Maybe he’s gone to the pub to have a few drinks. Maybe, just maybe, he’s left…forever.

I take a deep breath and just relax for a moment. My shoulders drop and I finally stop rocking.

Slowly I take my hands down from my ears, and I’m so happy because I can’t hear him yelling at me. I can’t hear him at all.

Gradually, I begin to unscrunch my eyes from the way I’ve tightly closed them. But something’s not right. There’s light coming into the closet.

I don’t even get a chance to open them fully before a rough hand reaches in, latches onto my ponytail and yanks.

“I told you it’d be worse for you if I had to find you,” Dad says, as he drags me out of the closet by my hair.

I’m desperately trying to hold onto my head so he doesn’t rip my hair out. My feet are trying to find traction on the dirty floorboards.

“Please, Daddy. Please. You’re hurting me,” I begin sobbing as I plead with him.

“Then your ugly ass should’ve come when I called you, you stupid bitch. You’re fucking worthless, you ugly idiot,” he says. But now his voice is calm as he continues to drag me toward the family room.

That’s when he’s most scary. When his voice is low and his eyes are filled with hate.

He throws me against the side of the sofa and takes a step back to look at me.

I look up and can see he’s the angriest I’ve ever seen him. “You dumb, ugly piece of shit,” he says, as he paces back and forth in front of me.

“Sorry, Daddy. Whatever I did, I’m so sorry.” I cower into myself, trying to make myself as small as possible.

“You’re just too fucking stupid, aren’t you?” he spits toward me as he brings his hand up to scratch at his chin.

“I’m sorry,” I say again. Tears are falling hot and fast down my cheeks. My head hurts from where he was pulling my hair, but I don’t dare try to rub the spot.

“You ugly fuck.” He kicks a boot into my leg.

The pain is instant and my leg feels like it’s shattered. “Please, Daddy,” I beg again, burying my face into my hands.

But ‘please’ never seems to work.

Nothing does.

I’ve just got to take the beatings, because that’s what stupid, ugly girls do.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
There’s something about the written word that is pure magic.

Possibly it’s the fact there are 26 letters in the English alphabet, and they can create something so beautiful or so empowering they’re capable to change our lives.

How important is it that we break suit and stretch our minds?

I like to think of myself as ‘unique’. My stories aren’t for everyone, and sometimes I may push what you believe to be ‘normal’.

Normal is subjective.

I prefer to be known as a person who’s never been ‘bound by custom’ but is ‘unique by choice’.

I hope you do read and enjoy my stories.

FOLLOW MARGARET:
Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/authormargaretmcheyzer

Twitter:   https://twitter.com/MargaretMAuthor

Website:  http://mackandmilo.wix.com/margaretmcheyzer

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7084793.Margaret_McHeyzer
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Public Library: Use It or Lose It

I’m constantly hearing people say they don’t have time to use a library or it’s easier to just buy a book you want to read.
Here are a few things most people don’t realize about public libraries:
1: It’s free. Yes, you probably knew this part. Did you know that it’s not just books for free? Most libraries have books on C.D., movies (even new releases) magazines, and even Kindles.
2: With my library I have the option of going online and actually borrowing FOR FREE e-books to load directly onto my kindle to read. Many libraries have this available.  Your library staff are more than willing to help you set this up. Bonus: you can browse e-books and borrow them FROM HOME.
3: Online catalogs. Gone are the days of perusing giant wooden card catalogs and hoping the item is on the shelf once you track down the call number. This is done on a computer now. You can look items up on the catalog only computers in the library and usually you can look items up on your library’s website from home. There’s several benefits to doing this. You can see right away if it is actually AT your library branch. If your library is one branch of a library system you can actually “order” your item from another library and it will be sent to your branch. Some libraries will even order the item from outside their system. If there’s a book in a series you want to read and it’s not at your library just ask. They can probably get it for you! Another benefit of doing this online is the time saving aspect. If you place a hold on an item at your library a library staff member will find the item on the shelf or order it from another library and then contact you when it’s available to pick up, either by calling, texting or emailing. Go in, give them your library card, check out your item and *poof* you’re done! Easy peasy!
4: Computers! Almost every thing you do these days requires you to have an email contact but sadly not everyone can afford a computer. Filling out job applications, quick filing your taxes, even using a kindle to read on all require you to have Internet access. You can do this for free at your library. I have yet to see a public library not have computers for their patrons to use. Clueless about computers? No problem! Ask a library associate! That’s what they are there for! Some libraries even offer free classes on basic computer use if you wish to be a little more comfortable with them.
4. Entertainment! Don’t have the money to go out and buy your favorite movie or see the latest sequel to your comic book hero movie series? Don’t want to spend $15 on a new CD when you only know for sure you like one song? Go to the library! You may have to wait your turn to borrow it but you can borrow it for free. I put myself on the hold list for brand new releases all the time. When it’s my turn to get the new CD or the new movie my librarian sends me an email and I go pick it up. And unlike the $4 movie rental place that gives you 24 hours I get a full week to watch it. Some libraries give you 3 days, 10 days or 2 weeks. Ask your library staff or check your check out receipt for the due date to be sure.
5: Magazines. How many of us have magazine subscriptions that pile up because we don’t have the time to read them? Why are you paying for something you eventually realize you’re never going to have time to read and will just throw away? Go sit in your quiet library in one if their comfy seats, most have MANY, and peruse the magazine you wanted to read. Read the articles you want and don’t feel guilty about the ones you skip because you paid to read them. Many libraries even let you check out the magazines for a short period. See a recipe you want to make? Take it home and make the item! If it’s good write it down! Save a tree and your guilt for spending money and throwing it away.
6: Starting early getting your kids excited about library visits, reading “marathons,” summer reading programs, etc will begin creating a reader. The more your children read the better off they will be later on, not just in school but also jobs. Reading opens up new worlds, imaginations and, most importantly, encourages thinking. Take kids to the library. Read to them and with them. It can improve your own reading skills as well and creates great memories for your kids.

Libraries are publicly funded. If we don’t use these great resources we will lose them. Go get a library card today if you don’t have one. Check your local library branch for what ID is needed to get one and for what their hours are. Many offer extended and weekend hours for 9-5 workers and busy moms.
If you do use your library then I thank you!  Make sure you thank a librarian next time you’re there!

Lots of love and happy reading,
Monique P

When I got my library card, that’s when my life began.
–Rita Mae Brown

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