Stephanie Douglas/ Annabel Alan

Bio of Stephanie Douglas

Stephanie Douglas is an author with 10+ years experience in the publishing field, in both independent & self publishing. She writes under her birth name in the horror genre as well as under Annabel Allan in erotic romance. She lives in Ontario, Canada, with her three Ragdoll cats, Binks, Edgar, and Ulalume. 

Hi Stephanie!  Welcome to my book blog!

Thank you so much for having me!

I’m a fan of your writing so I’m excited to talk books with you today!  You write under 2 names, please tell me what names and what you write under each.

Well, under my real name of Stephanie Douglas, I write horror and urban fantasy. But under Annabel Allan, things get a bit spicier! I write erotic romance, specifically BDSM romance.

Which one came first?

I actually started out writing under my mother’s maiden name–so, Stephanie O’Hanlon. But when the publisher I was working with closed their doors, I rebranded and started up with my birth name. Annabel has been around since 2015, so she technically came first!

So horror and urban fantasy for one side of your writing persona – what about those genres spoke to you?

Horror has always been an interest. I grew up watching both quality and low-quality horror movies because of my cousin, who used to babysit me. So, I knew I was going to eventually try to write a horror novel. The urban fantasy was actually a bit of a surprise! I originally was working within historical settings for my vampire romances, but I read the Southern Vampires series (True Blood) and I was like…I can do this! “Fright Club” and the Bite Scene series was born!

And under Annabel, you write erotica and BDSM… what brought you to those genres?

I started out with writing erotic romance because I thought it would get my foot in the door with publishing. I wrote “Wildfire” and kind of fell down a rabbit hole. As the years progressed, I knew I needed something new and fresh for Annabel, so I tried writing a BDSM romance with a male Dominant and female submissive. That outing wasn’t successful, but did bring about “Edgeplay” and Dominatrix Ava Goode. FemDom then became my thing!

I can tell you I like the idea of the female dominant rather than male.  So how did you learn about the BDSM community?  Was it through research?

This is actually the funny part! My kinky journey actually started in high school when I was given a BDSM erotica novel as a gag gift. It kinda stuck with me…then I wrote my unsuccessful D/s novel, and personally started to explore the BDSM lifestyle. That led to meeting interesting people, as well as researching the aspects of it.

Sounds like an interesting journey.  Your Ava Goode series is on my to read list.  I’m looking forward to reading them!  So what shifted you from Male Dom to Fem Dom?

A friend of mine wanted me to write shorts for his website, he suggested FemDom. I was going to write a little short for him called “Goode Pain” because I was inspired by a KISS song called “Thrills In the Night”. Then as I wrote the first scene, I remembered an instructor from film school telling me that flip the dynamic to make it interesting. So, I took my unsuccessful D/s novel (The Wilder Side) and rewrote it with a Dominatrix.

Do you often use music to inspire your stories?

Oh, definitely! I always make a little playlist for each novel when I’m writing. And sometimes while I’m writing, I can hear the soundtrack in my head, hear the music that would play if I was watching it as a movie. Then I obsessively listen to it until I get that scene out of my head.

Tell me about your writing process, please.  Do you plot or just write?  Do you have a specific place you have to be to write?  What starts a novel for you?

What starts the novel is the Muse whispering loudly in my head. When I’m sitting on the couch trying to watch a movie and all I can think about are these characters, I know that’s it. I have to start writing. I then usually do up the first chapter, just to test the waters out. I’m a little bit of a “plantser”–I have recently started doing loose outlines, but leave enough room for me to go off in whichever direction suits the story.

I’ve heard some authors create pinterest pages and play lists.  Do you do anything like this?

I used to be obsessed with Pinterest! I decided to delete the app because it took up waaaay too much time! Haha. I want to find a way to share playlists…maybe have a portion on my site for it.

Pinterest is a rabbit hole for sure.  Lots of interesting things but easily distracted.  Do you include the playlist in the book?

No, I try to steer away from songs in my books, just because you never know when you’re going to cross a line and have people after you for money. But I do love when books include songs! Like Stephen King’s Christine.

What are you currently working on?

Annabel has a new BDSM series that’s in development! I’m so excited about it too. When I started writing FemDom, I didn’t realize it was a taboo subject, especially in publishing. I’m very grateful that BVS took a chance on “Edgeplay” and that so many people love it. But it’s time to switch up the dynamic…but I am staying in the realm of FemDom.

Oh that sounds exciting.

What got you started writing?

I have always been interested in telling stories. I used to play with dolls a lot, using them to tell stories. Then every so often, I would actually write a story down. I always excelled in English-based classes, especially when we were told to write fiction. I never thought about being an author though. My career aspirations were in science until I got to high school and it shifted to film. I went to film school in 2007 and by the end of it in 2008, I realized that I was going to have to fall back on writing…which led me write my first manuscript. Because writing is a rabbit hole too! Haha. You start by writing a short and then that turns into a whole novel.

Are you an observer of your characters or do you feel they tell you their stories?

They definitely tell me their stories. I always say they aren’t my stories I write. I have voice in my head that I need to get down on paper, telling me their own stories.

So who or what has been a big influence on your writing?  Is it books you’ve read or movies you’ve watched?  Or is it something else?

There are two things that have influenced me: one, my grandmother. She used to write children stories for me when I was little, though we also had a book of fairytales she used to read to me also. She instilled a love of books into me. She always had a book in her hands. Second, the late Anne Rice. I read the first three books in the Vampire Chronicles in 2009 and her writing just stuck with me. I always aim to write as beautifully as she did. Then, on top of that, to take risks, like she did with her Sleeping Beauty series.

I always ask this question… what advice would you get someone who wants to write?

I used to say the same old that you should just write, but I actually have a new piece of advice. RESEARCH! And I don’t mean just research for your novel, though that is extremely important too. I mean, if you want to get into writing, want to be successful, research about the publishing industry. I’m not a big fan of the “you’re a writer only if you do this” thing, so you write how you want to write. But researching the business is so, so, so helpful and I wish I had done that back in the day when I started out.

Oh that’s lovely advice!  Thank you for joining me!  I’m excited to see what you write under both names!

Thank you so much!

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Lesley Wilson

Lesley and I met through a mutual friend. I’ve enjoyed talking writing with her. I think you’ll enjoy getting to know her.

Author Bio

Lesley Wilson began writing at an early age. She turned her father’s garage into a theatre and produced juvenile dramas. Local kids who watched her shows were persuaded to donate a penny to the RSPCA. In her early teens, Lesley joined a theatre company and took part in many productions.

     In 1957, during a holiday in Italy, Lesley met a young man. A whirlwind courtship followed before he joined the British Army. Fifteen months and hundreds of letters later, Lesley, aged seventeen, boarded a troopship bound for Singapore, where she married the love of her life. 

     Lesley’s careers have included fashion modelling, market research and, latterly, running her own business, but writing has always been her passion. 

     She now lives in North Queensland and enjoys frequent visits from her adult grandchildren. When Lesley isn’t writing, she loves to read, work in her garden, entertain friends, and travel, Covid virus permitting. 

Tell us about yourself.

Born in North Yorkshire during the war, I began writing stories at an early age. Together with a bunch of young friends, I turned my dad’s garage into a theatre, never mind that his much-loved SS Jag had to stand outside in all weather. What a patient man he was. I shanghaied local kids into watching our shows and extracted a penny from each of them to donate to the RSPCA. A taste for treading the boards was ingrained, and I joined a theatre company in my early teens. My major claim to fame was when Sir John Gielgud opened a new theatre in my hometown. I had a bit part in George Bernard Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra and stood within three feet of the great man as he made his opening speech. I was equally thrilled, during a recent trip back to England to see a photograph of the play in full swing, hanging in pride of place in the theatre foyer, and there I was, doing my bit in a crowd scene. 

Aged sixteen, I caught a train to Italy. Back then, it took many hours to make the journey, and I fell asleep on a young man’s shoulder. I didn’t realise, but he was to become my husband! 

In 1958, my beau joined the British Army. Fifteen months and hundreds of letters later, aged seventeen, I boarded a troopship bound for Singapore where I married the love of my life. We recently celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary. Where did all those years go?

North Queensland is now my home. My family lives close by and I see them all regularly, though my two grandchildren are now grown up. (No great grandchildren yet.)  

Various careers have included fashion modelling, market research and running various businesses, over the years, with my husband.

When I’m not glued to my computer, writing, I love to read, work in the garden, entertain friends, and travel, though the latter option has been curtailed because of Covid.

My Garden

When did you know you wanted to be an author?

I have scribbled pretty much all my life and, in my early thirties I completed a course in Journalism with the London School of Writing. This exercise confirmed my love of writing.

As a young woman, the backwoods of Yorkshire were my playground and I cycled and hiked across acres of heather and gorse-clad moors, winter and summer, come rain, hail and shine. Many medieval towns and villages that exist to this day provided me with a wonderful backdrop on which to base my stories, but I didn’t begin writing in earnest until I retired. 

     After migrating to Australia, I joined a writers’ group. I also became interested in doll making. The figure of an apothecary, which I needle sculpted on a wire armature, began talking to me, and the seed for my first novel grew in my mind.  That was over twenty years ago. My first ‘G’ rated medieval adventure was published in 2015. I completed the trilogy in 2017. 

Ichtheus, the little man who kick started my writing career

What genres do you like to read?  Are these the same genres you write in?

I read many books. Biographies, romance, thriller, nonfiction—usually to do with writing techniques, mystery, psychological thriller. I’m not keen on paranormal, erotica, or sci-fi. However, I will read any genre if an author asks me to. I always leave an honest review. Even if I don’t enjoy the story, I award 5 stars if I think the writing style merits it. Anything less than 3 stars, I try to contact the author for a chat.

Is your book for adults, young adults or children?

Initially, I thought my books were for young adults, however, many older folk loved them and gave me good reviews. Of course, I have had a couple of bad ones, but I always take comments, whatever they are on board. There is always something one can learn. 

What is your current release or project?

The Final Twist. An MA rated psychological thriller/romance set in the early 1960s. I hope to release the book next year, but don’t want to pin myself down to a definite date until I am sure it’s ready to publish. I am working on my tenth, but final, re-write. LOL.  

Tell us about the key characters

Albert Tomlin, aka Albie, is an oversexed, womanizing, psychopath. He is also the manager of the Cravendale Estate in Yorkshire.  

Anne Craven. Pretty eighteen-year-old daughter of Major John and Mrs Flora Craven. 

Corporal Paul Eckland, a local boy, recently demobilized by the army. Foot loose and fancy free, he is living with his parents until he finds a job.

Secondary characters. Major John and Mrs Flora Craven. Madam Clementine De Bruisac, Anne’s eccentric aunt, divorced from her French husband and living in a villa on the Cote d’azur.  

What is your blurb or synopsis of the book?

Major John Craven must give up his army career and return to Yorkshire to run the crumbling family estate, after the sudden death of his elder brother. He faces crippling, government death duties and, to bring money into his coffers, he determines to marry his daughter, Anne, to the bucolic son of a wealthy neighbour. Outraged when she falls in love with Paul Eckland, a decent but penniless youth from the village, John determines to send Anne to finishing school in Paris and pays a year’s fees in advance. 

Paul borrows his parent’s camping gear and runs away to Europe with Anne. Their destination, Anne’s Aunt Clementine’s villa in the South of France 

Albie Tomlin, son of a London prostitute, is raised in London’s sleazy back street during the second world war. His mother dies in an air raid; Albie survives and spends time in an orphanage. In his teens, he runs away to the country. He learns about farming and land management, teaches himself to speak Queen’s English, and practices the social graces necessary to fit in with the landed gentry. He scores a job as manager of the Cravendale Estate. For several years he lives off the fat of the land, dabbling in many illegal transactions. A sex crazed predator, he ill-uses every woman who crosses his path. 

The incumbent playboy Squire is killed in a car accident and afraid of detection, Albie ceases his black-market activities. The new Squire knows nothing of country ways and relies on his manager to run the estate. Albie immediately resumes his illegal regime. Obsessed with becoming a wealthy country gentleman, he sets his sights on Major Craven’s teenage daughter.

When John learns of Anne’s elopement, he is unwilling to involve the police, for fear of causing a scandal and ruining her chances of marrying well. Instead, he sends Tomlin after the runaways with instructions to fetch Anne home.

Share an excerpt

North Yorkshire: Autumn: 1962 

Albie Tomlin hadn’t planned to kill the French backpacker—but what did she expect? Getting around his part of Yorkshire with her short skirts and cocky attitude. He’d given her a good time, bought her fish and chips. She’d got plastered on his best cider. Then he’d had to fight the little cat for a spot of nookie. Not his fault her stupid neck cracked in the struggle. 

Blades of grass, growing around the edge of a bog, rustled in the breeze. Albie lit a cigarette and contemplated his victim’s broken body. Finished his smoke, he ground the stub into her belly button.   

“Goodbye,” he said, nudging the girl into her soggy grave. Her clothes, shoes, and handbag met the same fate. A chunk of her hair hacked off with his penknife to keep as a souvenir, reposed in his wallet. 

Albie parked his Land Rover in the yard and crawled upstairs to his flat above the estate office. Exhausted after his nocturnal activities, he peeled off his clothes and forgot to turn out the hall light before falling into bed. 

Thunderous knocking jerked him awake. He snapped on his bedside lamp to check the time, but his wristwatch was missing. 

The hammering increased, as did Albie’s heartbeat. He peered through the bedroom window, his cheek twitching. 

Two shadowy figures stood in the yard below. 

“Police!” one man yelled. “Open up!”

Albie’s muddy boots and bloodstained clothes lay in a crumpled pile on the floor. Galvanized into action, he looked for something else to wear. 

‘Get rid of that lot quick smart.’ 

Albie growled at his inner voice, but it refused to be silenced.

‘Suppose somebody’s found the girl’s body?’ 

“It’s at the bottom of a bog, for God’s sake!”

‘Your choice, mate.’ 

“I hear you!” Albie bundled up the incriminating evidence, tossed it into a crawl space under the eaves, and heaved a chest of drawers across the access point. 

‘Attack’s the best form of defence.’

Dressed in jeans and a sweater, Albie thundered downstairs two at a time, and yanked open the outer door. “I hope you’re not here to tell me poachers have been after the Squire’s game—again.” 

“I’m afraid it’s worse than that, sir.” 

Rather than allow the two coppers access to his private quarters, Albie ushered them into his office on the ground floor. He perched his backside on the edge of the desk, crossed his ankles, and folded his arms across his broad chest. “You are…”   

“Sergeant Foley and PC Thomas, sir. We’re from Dramcannon Bay Police Station.”

Albie smirked. “Must be something dire to fetch two police officers from the big smoke.”  

“I’d not call Dramcannon Bay the big smoke, sir, and twenty miles isn’t too far. Who are you?”

“Tomlin! Albie Tomlin, Cravendale’s estate manager, and I don’t appreciate folk dragging me out of bed in the middle of the night. What are you here for?”  

“It’s the Squire, sir. He’s had an accident in his car.”  

Albie raised his eyebrows. It was a miracle the boss had escaped mishap to date, considering his penchant for drinking and womanizing. “In the Cottage Hospital, is he?”

Foley didn’t care for the large man’s arrogant attitude. “No, sir, the morgue, and his son’s laid on a slab beside him.” 

“Good God!” Albie catapulted off his desk like it had grown spikes. “When did this happen?” 

“Couple of hours ago. We tried to raise someone in the big house, but no-one answered our knock. We saw the light over here and came to investigate.” 

“I’m the only employee living here, full time. The manor’s empty because the boss took his son out to celebrate his twenty-first birthday.”

‘Their last supper…’ 

Albie ignored the gibe.

“Does your employer have other relatives?” asked Sargeant Foley

“A younger brother serves overseas with the military, but he’s never visited Cravendale during my time.” Albie rasped a hand over a growth of dark stubble on his chin. “According to other staff members, the pair don’t… didn’t see eye to eye.”

“The Squire’s not got a wife, sir?”

“I believe she died in childbirth. He never remarried.” 

‘The bugger didn’t need to, not with the lascivious lifestyle he led!’

Albie flipped open a pack of cigarettes, tapped one out and lit up. “Brother’s going to fall on his feet inheriting this place,” he said, drawing smoke deep into his lungs. “Always assuming he can be located!” 

“Don’t worry, sir, we’ll find him.”

“I’m sure you will, Sergeant.”

Albie slammed the front door and leaned against it until his heart rate returned to normal.

‘Thought your number was up, killing that girl, didn’t you?’

“I couldn’t give a rat’s about the silly bitch, but some bloody upstart poking through the company accounts is cause for deep concern.” 

Do you have a favorite scene?

So many different scenes, some of them confronting, I would be hard pressed to single out just one.

What advice would you give a beginner?

Before putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, read all the textbooks you can find on every aspect of writing and the correct production of the English language. How I wish someone had given me that advice before I began my writing career

Writing is a skill and must honed until it is word perfect. Many authors, me included, re-write as many as ten times before they are satisfied with their work. I have written stuff most of my life, though not professionally in the beginning. To this day textbooks remain high on my list, and I keep a substantial reference library. Reading fellow author’s work is a must, too.

When you are on a high, having finished your first book, don’t imagine that’s the end. Send it off to a publisher and hey presto, fame and fortune follow? Certainly not, unless you are one of the rare few authors who make the big time from the upshot. Writing your book is the simple part. I cannot explain the rigamarole you are likely to face, getting your publication into the public reading domain.

Finally, watch out for sharks and scammers. There are many rip-off merchants under the guise of publishers ready to butter your ego, take your money, and do nothing more to help you. With millions of books being independently and traditionally published, authors face an uphill battle to recoup their expenses. So why, I can hear you ask, am I still writing? Because I can’t help it. If I stop, I will die—simple as that 

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David C Dawson

David C. Dawson is an award-winning author, journalist and documentary maker. He writes British gay-themed thrillers featuring gay men in love.

His debut novel The Necessary Deaths, won an FAPA award in the best suspense/thriller category. It’s the first in the Delingpole Mysteries series. The latest: The Foreign Affair, was published last year.

David’s also written two gay romances: For the Love of Luke and Heroes in Love.

He lives near Oxford, with his boyfriend and two cats. In his spare time, he tours Europe and sings with the London Gay Men’s Chorus.

Tell us about yourself.

I write British gay-themed mysteries. A Death in Bloomsbury is my sixth book and my first historical novel, set in 1932. I live near Oxford in the UK with my boyfriend and two cats.

When did you know you wanted to be an author?

Ha! I started writing when I was seven when I won a prize for sending a story to a children’s television programme. But being an author? That didn’t start until my fifties.

What genres do you like to read?  Are these the same genres you write in?

I’m quite catholic in my reading tastes: from what some would call classic literature through to racy romances. I’m reading a lot of books by authors of colour at the moment who are giving me a whole new perspective on world history. My writing genre is romantic suspense.

Is your book for adults, young adults or children?

Primarily adults but it’s accessible for any age from ten onwards I’d say.

What is your current release or project?

A Death in Bloomsbury tells the story of a gay man living in 1930s London when homosexuality was illegal punishable with up to two years hard labour. He uncovers a plot to assassinate the king and faces a choice between his loyal duty and revealing his true sexuality.

Tell us about the key characters

Simon Sampson is the hero. He’s a news reader on BBC radio, or ‘the wireless’ as it was referred to then. He’s in his early thirties and from an affluent background, but rejected by his parents. Florence Milne is the other main character. She works with Simon at the BBC and prefers to be known as Bill. She wears men’s suits and has her hair cut short. Like Simon she’s an outsider in the homophobic society of the time.

What is your blurb or synopsis of the book?

Everyone has secrets… but some are fatal.

1932, London. Late one December night Simon Sampson stumbles across the body of a woman in an alleyway. Her death is linked to a plot by right-wing extremists to assassinate the King on Christmas Day. Simon resolves to do his patriotic duty and unmask the traitors.

But Simon Sampson lives a double life. Not only is he a highly respected BBC radio announcer, but he’s also a man who loves men, and as such must live a secret life. His investigation risks revealing his other life and with that imprisonment under Britain’s draconian homophobic laws of the time. He faces a stark choice: his loyalty to the King or his freedom.

This is the first in a new series from award-winning author David C. Dawson. A richly atmospheric novel set in the shadowy world of 1930s London, where secrets are commonplace, and no one is quite who they seem.


Simon arrived at Piccadilly Circus at ten minutes to eight that evening and waited to cross the road to the statue of Eros on its traffic island. This part of London always gave Simon a thrill of excitement. It buzzed with activity, like a giant beehive. There were swarms of people hurrying from work, or strolling towards a restaurant, theatre or bar. The metaphor was apt, because within fifty yards of where Simon stood there were so many queens.

Across the road was The Trocadero. Its Long Bar was always guaranteed to provide a gay evening for gentlemen in search of pleasure. A little farther on was the Empire Theatre in Leicester Square. Its Upper Gallery was popular with painted boys and men dressed in smart suits who spent an evening either exchanging acid-tongued witticisms or seeking a friend for the night.

Even at that time of the evening the traffic on Piccadilly Circus was almost stationary. Simon stepped off the pavement and wove his way between taxis and omnibuses queuing to drive up Shaftesbury Avenue or down the Haymarket. Cameron was waiting for him, and Simon was pleased to see he was once again soberly dressed in his immaculate black coat. This time with a grey scarf and black leather gloves. Young men of a similar age to Cameron were also standing on the steps of Eros, and they wore far more flamboyant clothing. Simon preferred to be inconspicuous when out with a gentleman friend. There was less chance that they might draw the attention of the police, or busys as his friends in the Fitzroy Tavern would call them.

“I do hope you’ve not been waiting long.” Simon took Cameron’s outstretched hand and squeezed it firmly. “It’s getting awfully cold. I think it might snow this Christmas.”

Cameron reached out his other hand and rested it on Simon’s hip. Simon pushed it away. “Best not here, old chap,” he whispered. “Awfully public you know.”

He released Cameron’s hand and pointed across the road. “We need to head towards Leicester Square. The Lily Pond is two roads up. And we can walk past the Trocadero on the way and see who’s out gadding tonight.”

“I’m glad I’m wi’ ye,” Cameron replied. “I’m still finding ma bearin’s in London. I’ve nae come down to this part of town since I moved to York House.”

“Oh, you should.” Simon led the way through the still stationary traffic to Coventry Street. “It’s frightfully exciting. And you can always be sure of meeting someone interesting.” He pointed to the corner of Glasshouse Street. “That’s the Regent Palace Hotel. Awfully good bar. Perfect place to meet gentlemen from overseas, and they can hire a room for you by the hour if that interests you.” He grabbed Cameron’s arm and pulled him to safety as a motor car attempted to circumvent the traffic jam and drove up onto the pavement.

“Try not to get yourself killed, my dear.”

Do you have a favorite scene?

Bill has some of the wittiest lines in the book. She’s got an acid tongue but a heart of gold. One of my favourite scenes is when she has an argument with the lady who pushes a trolley around the corridors of the BBC delivering tea to the staff. Bill turns away from her and complains: “Give these people a trolley and they think they’re bloody Boadicea.”

What advice would you give a beginner?

Write! It’s that simple. Don’t judge yourself and don’t whatever you do try to edit what you’re writing in your head. You’ll never write anything if you do. The first draft is never the last draft.

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Natasha Smith

Natasha dropped in to my group on Facebook and we chatted to get to know each other a bit better. So here’s a bit about her.


I have a BA in Sociology and a MS in Health Service Administration; however, I’ve spent most of my professional career in the fields of human services and education. I recently got licensed in real estate in 2020 and started a property management company in 2019. I’m now working on my second novel and it is so exciting putting my thoughts into words and eventually on paper. I hope many readers will go on this journey with me and enjoy the stories I have to tell.

Tell us about yourself.

I have loved writing for a number of years.  As a student, I loved doing research papers, writing songs and short stories.  I even started writing a screenplay when I was in middle school.  I even loved the old oral tradition of storytelling. I think it’s about time that I fully embrace my talent.

When did you know you wanted to be an author?

In 2008, I was at a point of self-discovery and training to determine what would give me career satisfaction.  That’s when I started writing again and reconnected to an old love.  I started the novel Reflections, then I started a new job and put it on hold until the pandemic.  Then I finished the story; actually, ¾ of the story was written during that time.

What genres do you like to read?  Are these the same genres you write in? 

Suspenseful romance is my genre of choice for reading and for writing as well.

Is your book for adults, young adults or children? 

I personally believe that adults and young adults alike would enjoy the story.

What is your current release or project?

I am working on the prequel to Reflections.  The working title is the Ripple Effect.  The story takes place in 1955.  Although it is a prequel, the novels can be read as stand-alone reads.

Tell us about the key characters.

The key characters are the grandparents of Vincent Barrington, Bernard Barrington and Josephine Epstein. 

What is your blurb or synopsis of the book?

The Ripple Effect is the prequel to the suspenseful story Reflections.  John Barrington, of Reflections, told us that the history and wealth of his family is built on a foundation of lies.  In this novel, you find out what lies laid the foundation of the family and how those lies ripple across time to affect the lives of the Barrington clan.

Boxed in, trapped and caged were all of the ways Josephine felt her mother wanted to keep her.  Josephine Epstein would not live the life her mother wanted her to, nor would she allow anyone to deny her the love of her life, Bernard Barrington.  He comes from a world of privilege and wealth.  Josephine comes from a world of hard work and deception.  Little do they know that both of their lives have been shaped by their family secrets.  But neither will be bound by them.

As Josephine navigates the world of her former high school peers, she sees, all too well, what her mother was denied.  But she is not her mother; she won’t be denied.  Wealth, prestige, respect and Bernard will all be hers.  But at what cost? 

Bernard will hold on to his heritage, but at what cost?  This story merges the worlds of the working class, the wealthy and the mob to provide a suspenseful story of romance and thrills.  Just like in Reflections, you are in for a shock!

Share an excerpt

Life no longer provided excitement or escape for Josephine since graduating from high school a year ago.  Whenever, she passed the massive structure known as Cass Technical High School, she longed to walk its halls once more.  It was an impressive structure built using brick and Indiana limestone blocks; it stood eight stories tall with an elevator.   To a non-Detroiter, it looked like a hotel or apartment building not a school.   It was an 831,000 square feet Gothic masterpiece that covered an entire block.  It was fitting to a city that was considered the wealthiest city in America on a per capita income basis.  Its welcoming vestibule was lined with marble and its hall floors were lined with Terrazzo.   During class, Josephine would often stare up at the barrel shaped ceilings while day dreaming or contemplating life. 

Do you have a favorite scene?

The scene between Josephine and her mother when she realizes that her mother had lied to her.

What advice would you give a beginner?

Well, I am a beginner.  I would say just write.  Don’t get lost in the unimportant things like word count.  I see so many writers in Facebook groups bragging about their word counts; a lot of it is smoke scenes and pixie dust.  This can be very discouraging to a new writer or one easily influenced.  As I said in a group to a new writer, write until your story is told in full.

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Simone Francis


I am Simone Francis. I write very naughty erotic fiction in which my glamorous heroines find themselves subjected to all sorts of spankings, bondage and myriad of other fetishes. There is sex in my books, a lot of sex, but there are always bad guys and girls to overcome, trials to endure, and mysteries to solve as the gripping story carries you along. My short stories tell you tales of women caught up in erotic situations and reveling in new experiences.

All of my books and stories follow confident, sexy women who only completely submit when the right man – or woman – appears in their lives.

My first full length book has just been published by Black Velvet Seductions

Tell us about yourself.

I am approaching retirement age but not yet ready to be put out to grass. In the past I have run businesses including a photography studio and gallery. For the last twenty years I had a job which gave me the opportunity to travel around the UK. A lot of my work involved the public so I have had the chance to meet and observe all sorts of people. All good material for an aspiring writer.

When did you know you wanted to be an author?

Being an author crept up on me. I used to write articles to accompany photographs plus we produced photographs for several erotica and BDSM publishers. I decided to do an Open University degree in English Language and Creative Writing to improve my writing. I had just graduated from this when I was furloughed from my day job. I suddenly found I had a lot of time, so I set myself the target of actually finishing and submitting a book. I had written several unfinished manuscripts but, I read a publisher’s specifications for the type of book they were looking for and started The Bookshop from scratch. Two months later I submitted it and within forty-eight hours it was rejected. I resubmitted it to the next publishers and, fortunately, Black Velvet Seductions accepted it.  

What genres do you like to read?  Are these the same genres you write in?

To relax I read crime or thrillers. I find I can sit up until two in the morning reading just a couple more pages of a Lee Child or Boris Akunin book.

I read a lot of adult erotica, especially if it has a good and believable plot. Partially because this is the genre I write in and partially because I am always looking for tips as to how other authors describe sex scenes – and who doesn’t like a good naughty book.

When I was younger I used to read a lot of science fiction but now I like to read a lot of modern contemporary authors. I have missed bookshops being open as I like to pick up something interesting rather than have a website recommend forty-three other titles on the same theme.   

Is your book for adults, young adults or children?

Definitely for adults.

What is your current release or project?

The Bookshop has just been released. It dives into underworld of the aristocracy in Edwardian London. I had to do a lot of research from the type of underwear people wore to the sexual mores of the time. I was not surprised to find that there were brothels where men went to be spanked, but was more intrigued to find there were also establishments where men went to spank women and also women to spank women. We might think that BDSM is a modern idea but it is just that it is more out in the open now. This is one reason I set The Bookshop in Edwardian times; I needed some of the characters to be secretive. Also, modern forensics would probably have solved some of the mysteries quite quickly.

Tell us about the key characters

The story is told almost exclusively from Amelia Slone’s point of view. Amelia is a bright, resourceful and daring young woman but her middle-class upbringing in Victorian Britain has meant that she has had very little experience of the world. Now she is twenty-four, it is the Edwardian era, and she is a widow. Her husband, an army officer, was killed in a distant part of the Empire two years ago. Despite having a couple of lovers she is very inexperienced, especially sexually, but willing to try anything once and do it again if she likes it.

Konrad von Schellenberg is from the Prussian aristocracy. I will not tell you too much about him as his character is revealed in the plot. Let’s just say he is good looking, a man of action – somewhere between an Edwardian James Bond and Erast Fandorin.

What is your blurb or synopsis of the book?

It’s 1908 and Amelia Slone is bored until her friend Frances disappears. The bookshop and the haughty, arrogant Prussian Konrad von Schellenberg are her only clues. Determined to find her friend, her search leads her into a world of sexual submission, kidnapping and murder that seethes just below the surface of Edwardian London. Desperate to find her friend, it seems romance will have to wait, or will the new passions awakened in her help her find love as well?

Share an excerpt

The room was sparsely furnished. A writing desk and chair stood under the window. Almost in the centre was a chaise longue upholstered in maroon velvet. Its left hand end was open and the right hand side curved up to a rolled arm.

‘You must be prepared for what you will face and what you will administer. Take off your skirt’

‘What?’ Amelia heard herself squawk.

‘Take off you skirt and bend over the back of that chaise longue,’ von Schellenberg said calmly.

‘To gain access to the order you must at least appear to be a disciple of discipline. In order to be a disciple you will need to have experienced it. Later we will train you in administering it. Now take off your skirt and bend over.’ His voice suddenly acquired a hard edged note.

Amelia unbuttoned her jacket and, folding it carefully placed it on the seat of the chaise. Her shirtwaist revealed her naked arms but leaving it on to at least preserve some modesty she unbuttoned her skirt and slid it down over her petticoat. She folded the skirt in half and then half again before placing it on top of the jacket. She turned to face von Schellenberg.

‘And the petticoats,’ he sighed.

Amelia obediently slid down her petticoats and began to carefully fold them.

‘When I give you an instruction I expect it to be obeyed immediately, with alacrity, do you understand?’ Von Schellenberg barked.

Amelia turned, deep within her a memory stirred. She had never been beaten on the behind at school but slaps across palms with rulers or canes had been common and she could remember the stinging pain. Now she could feel herself pouting like a naughty schoolgirl and she was aware that only her draws and chemise covered her lower half.

‘Remove your drawers.’

‘What,’ Amelia stuttered.

Von Schellenberg picked up a leather strop from the table beside him and tapped it almost silently across the palm of his left hand.

‘Your drawers,’ he said quietly.

Amelia untied the cord at her waist and slid the cotton drawers down thankful that her chemise hung down to mid-thigh level.

‘Turn around.’

Amelia complied; every movement slowed with anticipation as if the air around her had suddenly thickened into the consistency of oil. She realised that part of her mind was fearful of what was about to happen, but a small but growing part of her brain seemed to tingling with excitement. She had only witnessing a caning once at school. The girl had wriggled and screamed but the display had stirred something deep inside her. In the following days she had even found herself daydreaming of what it would be like to be in the girl’s place. Now as an adult it seemed that she was about to find out.

‘Raise your chemise and bent over onto the head of the chaise longue.

‘What! No.’ Amelia half turned towards von Schellenberg’s voice.

There was the merest swish and a crack. Amelia felt a stinging sensation across her rump.

‘Do as you are told girl.’

Amelia’s hand moved to the left cheek of her bottom. There was another crack as the strop contacted with the still exposed right cheek. Amelia scrabbled at the hem of her chemise and. pulling it up to her waist bent forward.

There was silence. She was acutely aware that her naked behind was now on view to a man she had only met a few days before.

Do you have a favorite scene?

Yes, well two. One where Amelia indulges in administering discipline for pleasure and begins to recognize her bisexual urges and the action scene at the end. I won’t say more as they are both integral to the plot.

What advice would you give a beginner?

Write every day and write about everything from what you had for breakfast to the vase of flowers on the table. Observe people and make notes. Remember a photographer can show what a scene looks like but only a writer can describe how it tastes, smells and how a character feels when they see it.

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Ed Pacheco


Ed Pacheco is a Dad, Husband and Entrepreneur. The idea of this story started about 20 years ago, while tucking his children into bed. His youngest daughter, recently completing elementary school prompted him to finish his work. In his spare time, Ed also does various charitable work in his community and in collaboration with his Masonic Brothers from Quittacus Lodge, in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He resides in Dartmouth, MA .

Tell us about yourself.

I’m a married dad of 6 daughters. A small business owner and a College student . I’ve been working on this book for over 20 years in 1 way or shape. 

When did you know you wanted to be an author?

The idea of being an author for me was never a definitive idea, It’s been a matter of being since I was a child. I would always be scribbling some story other down to keep myself entertained. 

What genres do you like to read?  Are these the same genres you write in?

I like nonfiction, historical pieces . One of the books I read recently which i really enjoyed was Killing Patton. Great history piece. My first piece is obviously in the child lit genre, and I’m not sure I would step outside that box. 

Is your book for adults, young adults or children?

This is a great Share book for kids and adults. Even if an older sibling wanted to read it to a younger one it would be very user friendly. 

What is your current release or project? 

Little Lamb Shenanigans drops for pre order April6 and Publishes May 6 on Amazon and Barnes and Noble .com. 

Tell us about the key characters

The main character is Jenna Marie. She is a typical 9 year old girl, Smart, great in science and Math, caring, friendly , helpful. Her one issue is getting ready for bed at night. Such a procrastinator…  Her parents , grandparents and sisters and cat are all really supporting cast here. lol She is the star. 

What is your blurb or synopsis of the book?

Great Kid, Lousy bedtime routines. lol

Share an excerpt

Every child has a certain way that they get ready for bed at night. For some children, before bedtime, they take a bath or a shower and floss and brush their teeth. Some may spend some quiet time listening to music or saying their prayers. Others just race right to bed after they have been told 10 times that it is past their bedtime! However, it is almost a universal fact that most girls and boys love a bedtime story and to be tucked in.  (At this point the story starts with the main character)  This is a story about a little girl name Jenna Marie. During the day, Jenna is your usual little girl. She gets up in the morning, eats breakfast, gets dressed and even makes her own lunch, before leaving for school. That’s pretty impressive for only being 9 years old!( from here it rolls into story…

Do you have a favorite scene?

My favorite scene is when JM finds out a secret about her Dad. Her face is priceless and really reflects the innocence that kids have about their parents as children. 

What advice would you give a beginner?

Lots of things. First, Join the IBPA. They are such a great resource for new writers. I met my publishing assistant and illustrator through them . Do not compromise on your standards for expediency. 

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Janice Tremayne


Janice Tremayne is an Amazon bestselling and award-winning ghost and supernatural writer. Janice is a finalist in the Readers’ Favorite 2020 International Book Awards in Fiction-Supernatural.

She is an emerging Australian author who lives with her family in Melbourne. Her recent publication, Haunting in Hartley, reached number one on the Amazon kindle ranking for Occult, Supernatural, and Ghosts and Haunted Houses categories, for hot new releases and bestsellers.

Janice is well-versed in her cultural superstitions and how they influence daily life and customs. She has developed a passion and style for writing ghost and supernatural novels for new adult readers.

The concept of writing the Haunting Clarisse series was spawned over a cup of coffee many years ago, and she has not looked back since. Her books contain heart-thumping, bone-chilling, and thought-provoking ghost and paranormal experiences that deliver a new twist to every tale.

Tell us about yourself.

Janice is an emerging Australian author who lives with her family in Melbourne. Her recent publication, Haunting in Old Tailem reached number one on the Amazon kindle ranking for Occult, Supernatural, and Ghosts and Haunted Houses categories, for hot new releases and bestsellers.

Janice is a finalist in the Readers’ Favorite 2020 International Book Awards in fiction-supernatural and was awarded the distinguished favorite prize for paranormal horror at the New York City Big Book Awards 2020.

Janice is well-versed in her cultural superstitions and how they influence daily life and customs. She has developed a passion and style for writing ghost and supernatural novels for new adult readers. Her books contain heart-thumping, bone-chilling, and thought-provoking ghost and paranormal experiences that deliver a new twist to every tale.

When did you know you wanted to be an author?

I have always wanted to be an author. As a child, I always enjoyed writing short stories and I had a vivid imagination. Later on, in life, my work career and family took over and it left me with hardly any time to think about writing. I started writing professionally 18 months ago when I took a break from work. I completed a writing course and refined my craft by writing a series of supernatural suspense novels.

What genres do you like to read? Are these the same genres you write in?

I like to read horror stories and particularly those with a religious bent or undertone. The DaVinci Code and The Exorcist are some good examples and books by Stephen King. Because of my profession previously I also read business books on self-help and improvement for example.

Is your book for adults, young adults or children?

My books are for adults; however, I would categorize it as ‘new adult’ in terms of audience. Having said that, some of my best fans are older and retired people.

What is your current release or project?

I am working on a new suspense thriller series (The Zack Bolder Suspense Thrillers) Each book is set in a real Australian ghost town and I study the history of the town before I start writing.  

Tell us about the key characters

The key character in the series is Clarisse. She is a brave and inquisitive spirit hunter that has been blessed with supernatural talents at a young age. The only problem is that demons and ghosts know about her abilities and follow her around. In every book, she encounters a new ghost town, another demon entity and a battle for supremacy.

What is your blurb or synopsis of the book?

An Australian ghost town. A resident demon and a local Shaman. A confrontation with evil awaits.

Clarisse realizes that running from evil is not a bad idea until she figures out you can’t hide. When some ghosts get tired of hanging around, they latch onto you. At the centre of the war on evil is a historic Church that carries dark secrets within its walls. After she meets with the local Shaman, Clarisse discovers secrets with evil consequences by digging too deep into the town’s past. When matters become complicated, she visits a circus of young performers on the outskirts of town triggering unexpected paranormal events and unleashing memories of a one-hundred-year curse. After being caught in the crossfire of a battle for evil supremacy, Clarisse confronts Little Charlie as he rallies the town’s ghosts into an impeccable evil stronghold.

Can the local Shaman and townsfolk rally in her quest to defeat the evil incarnate or will the town succumb to Little Charlie and his evil crew?

Haunting in Old Tailem is the third book of the Haunting Clarisse Series. If you like spine-tingling, chilling, creepy and spooky supernatural thrillers, then you will love this story by 2020 USA Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards Finalist in Supernatural Fiction, Janice Tremayne.

Share an excerpt

She heard a flurry of steps run across the graveyard as stones flicked off the ground and crushed, dried-out weeds propelled into the air. Tiny steps that she had encountered once before—in Hartley. Was it Little Charlie?

Then another ominous sound. Children laughing and giggling while the faint sound of a circus tune played in the background. Da, da, da, da, da …

She immediately turned around to find four children, each one standing next to an unmarked grave.

One little girl, no more than ten years old, with a black ponytail, knee-high cotton socks, and a white frilled dress, played with her hula hoop. She swung it around in motion and with the equilibrium of an expert. She smiled as her, dark eyes with thick, black eyeliner resonating toward Clarisse.

Next to her was a young boy, no more than eight years old, playing hopscotch between two graves. His knee-length shorts, long socks, and blood-stained shirt, held up by suspenders, were ragged and worn out. He looked like he had been in a terrible accident and dragged across the ground, oblivious to any pain. While playing hopscotch, he balanced three small balls in the air like a juggler, quite a trick and well-coordinated.

Next to him was Little Charlie, sitting on a gravestone with his rope lassoed and legs crossed. He swung his lasso repeatedly and flung it toward an empty can as his target. He liked showing off his prowess to Clarisse, even though he couldn’t say any words, throwing his hands up in the air each time he conquered his target.

Another girl, albeit younger than the first, stood behind Little Charlie on an unmarked grave. She was wearing a crimson dress with frills and brown, country-style boots. Her dress was tainted red in parts from bloodstains, and her face was white as snow. It accentuated the eyeliner around her black eyes and sculptured face. She tilted her head slightly to the side as her red hair was tossed around in the slight breeze while holding a Raggedy Ann doll next to her face. She looked directly at Clarisse, smiling while caressing the doll.

The Raggedy Ann doll smiled one thoughtful expression, blinked its right eye two times rapidly, and then nodded before going back to its original posture

Do you have a favorite scene?

My favourite scene is the first chapter because it sets the context for the book. It a powerful ghost scene inside a Church in the town of Old Tailem. Here the protagonists confront the evil for the first time and there is an interaction between them.

What advice would you give a beginner?
My first advice is to learn about book marketing if you are going to self-publish. I wrote my first book in the series without understanding a clue about establishing a readership or following, building a newsletter and how to market the book in the context of a series. How to establish which genre or subgenre to write, editing, book covers…the list goes on. You will save lots of money by not making expensive mistakes and have an established plan.

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Violet Fox

Author Bio

Violet Fox is a lover of foxes and the colour purple…

When she’s not writing about werewolves, vampires, and faeries, she can be found watching cute fox videos online, or drinking a ridiculous amount of tea and coffee.

Tell us about yourself.

I am an author from Liverpool in the UK, and currently I am working on my series Fae Incarcerated under Violet Fox. Under K.L. Rymer, I have written Merlin’s Supernatural Academy, and under Kaylee Rymer, I’ve written Her Ugly Monster, a Beauty and the Beast retelling.

When did you know you wanted to be an author?

When I was 12. I made a book out of treasury tags once and a hole puncher, and starting writing a fairytale about a mermaid.

What genres do you like to read?  Are these the same genres you write in?

Yes, I love paranormal romance, fantasy romance and young adult. But I do read in a variety of genres.

Is your book for adults, young adults or children?

Fae Incarcerated is for adults since it has some steamy scenes. Merlin’s Supernatural Academy can be read by older teens, and her Ugly Monster can be read by teens.

What is your current release or project?

I try to aim for every 6 to 8 weeks at the most.

Tell us about the key characters

The key characters in Fae Incarcerated are Gossamer, Levington, Conan, and Drystan. It’s a reverse harem with a fae, a vampire, and a werewolf. Since I liked reading about all three, I wasn’t sure which supernatural race I wanted to write about first, so I just decided to create a harem with all three.

What is your blurb or synopsis of the book?

Here is the blurb below…

Want to hear a joke? A fae, a werewolf, and a vampire walk into a bar…

Well, it turns out I’ve forgotten the rest of the joke, but do not despair. My life has become one big joke right now, and I’ve got the pretty gossamer wings to prove it.

There I was on the streets, stealing whatever I could get my hands on so I could feed my sister, and then I was arrested and sent to Fairborn Reform for Unruly Fae.

Fairborn is the last stop before prison. Fae of all kind are given a second chance to become upstanding citizens for a bunch of mean vampires who think they’re better than us. To make matters worse, the school is run by a vampire jerk by the name of Levington Straus, along with his broody werewolf companion Conan Grey.

But when I meet Drystan Wildflower, a rebel fae who plans to free the school, my hopes are lifted. With Drystan’s help, maybe I can escape and reunite with my little sister.

That’s if I don’t do something stupid first, like falling in love with the dean and his grumpy werewolf companion. Oh, and don’t forget to add a pretty rebel fae to the mix too.

Yeah, I’m doomed.

Share an excerpt

Dean Levington proceeds with his boring lecture, and all the while I can feel Bryony’s probing gaze.

She’s out for my blood, just like someone else I know.

At least she’s not looking at the dean right now, who’s breathing a cloud of sparkling faery dust.

Wait. That’s my faery dust.

It spreads from his mouth like a contagion, and now the dean throws a hand over his mouth, muttering, “Shit…”

People start whispering, turning my way. I try to hide under my desk, wishing I could die or something.

I guess it’s true what they say about glitter. It does get everywhere.

Hooded Girl seems to be pleased with me, however. So for that, I’m proud. I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be proud of.

So Levington has my faery dust inside his lungs? Big deal.

Bryony seems to think it’s a big deal, and once again she looks as if she wants to vanquish me.

“Fuck!” the dean snaps, and it looks as if he’ll have to get a surgical facemask lest he wants to spread my glitter everywhere.

With his hand pressed to his mouth and nose, he turns to the class. “I guess class is dismissed. I seem to be exuding some strange, sparkling substance…”

He sweeps out of the room, and the class falls absolutely silent. No one knows what to do. We all just remain in our seats.

Suddenly, the class breaks into a round of applause, cheering and hooting like a pack of wild chimpanzees, and now they all congratulate me.

Despite my embarrassment, I smile.

Have I just surpassed phase two?

I have no idea why my feet urge me. After all, they’re taking me in the direction of the dean’s office.

For some reason, I felt compelled to check on him.

Conan must be wandering the halls looking for me but who cares. I have a vampire to look for.

I’m not sure why, but I feel a little guilty about making a fool out of him in front of class. It’s his fault after all. He was the one who decided to prey on me in the first place, and now he’s breathing my faery dust.

Still, it can’t be good for his lungs.

What am I saying? He’s the monster who threatened to hurt my little sister; he deserves everything he’s about to get.

I arrive at his office, taking a few moments to compose myself. If I can just turn back now and go and find Conan, then I can forget all about this and let that monster suffer alone with my faery dust.

Yet why do I knock on his door?

“It’s open…” a dark voice comes from inside, and I shiver.

There’s just something off-putting about that voice, but at the same time, it’s… inviting. Now I’m finally starting to understand why women fall prey to these beasts.

They exude sexuality. It’s in their DNA.

Slowly, I enter the room, and a gasp leaves me instantly. My glitter hovers through the air like dust motes. It settles on bookshelves, and on the dean’s shiny desk.

The vampire stands before the window, silhouetted against the light like a shadow. I blink.

How is he not bursting into flames? That’s daylight. It’s bad for vamps, right? All I can see of him is his gleaming red eyes, and every fiber in my body is telling me to run.

It’s a predator after all. It’s dangerous.

But when I see that venom dripping from his pointed fangs, I let out a small, helpless moan, and my body betrays me. 

I gush inside my panties, hating myself for being turned on by a vampire of all things.

They’re monsters. His venom could kill me!

The dean hisses, breathing out a cloud of faery dust, and then he shoots across the room. He presses me against the door, and those dripping fangs are inches from my face.

My wings flippity-flap behind me as he crushes me with his body, and he really is strong. One snap and I could break.

Yet the thought only delights me further, and now I throw my head back, offering him my neck.

I will surely regret this tomorrow, but deep down I know I have won. After all, his breath is warm on my neck, and vampires are cold-blooded.

It seems I’ve changed the very essence of this beast.

Do you have a favorite scene?

The scene above. It was the moment I started to see the attraction between the two characters, Gossamer and Levington. I had a crazy idea about a vampire falling for a  faery and, well, I decided to write it. I was worried it would come across cheesy and stupid, but so far, I’ve received good feedback.

What advice would you give a beginner?

The only way to get through writers block is to just write. Sounds hard, but it’s the only way to beat it I’ve found. At the end, you’ve overcome a block and written something, even if it’s not the best. You can always edit it when your brain is in a better state.

And just write your ideas, even if they seem dumb. Someone may enjoy them too, you never know.

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Blackhorse Road

Author Bio

For three decades, I was a university professor who taught classes and wrote textbooks on “nerdy” subjects centering on computer systems in healthcare.   

But a decade ago, informed by my experience in a male-dominated area, I started my practice as a leadership coach to help women break the glass ceiling and fulfill their leadership and economic potential. Consequently, during the past ten years, I transitioned from writing textbooks to motivational books on creating environments where people flourish through better leadership. 

About a year ago, I was on a conference call discussing concepts of what makes a fulfilling life with fellow life coaches.  Bang! Like a thunderclap, I had an insight. What would it be like to help people understand the concepts of a flourishing life in a story instead of through a motivational book or text? After all, I thought, storytelling has been the most compelling form of communication for thousands of years. As far as I could recall, none of the great prophets fed up learning objectives and multiple-choice questions to their followers.  No!  They got their message across through stories. 

Motivational books and textbooks give frameworks, theories, and ideas, but they don’t immerse us in the human experience. They don’t show us how others face challenges, embrace their passions, overcome sorrow, celebrate achievement, quash self-doubts, develop positive emotions and relationships, handle betrayal, or act on aspirations.  

Storytelling ignites our imagination and emotion.  We experience being part of the story rather than being served up a platter of facts, exercises, and information.  

This eye-opener was enough for me to take on the challenge of novel writing.  My passion is to help people catapult beyond concepts and theories and jump into the wonderment of imagination in designing a flourishing life for themselves.  Storytelling does this best. 

Happily, as a fiction writer, I have jettisoned learning objectives and test questions.  Ah…the freedom makes me feel as light as a balloon on a summer breeze. 

Tell us about yourself. 

I like to view myself from the perspective of the constellation of positive strengths that impact my behaviors and how I feel and think.  My calling has been to devote my personal and professional life to help people fulfill their potential and be their best selves. Beyond my work as a college professor, life coach, and small business owner, I’ve taken my calling and applied it to writing women’s fiction.  I like to write about the human experience, showing readers how ordinary people tackle challenges, live through sorrow and betrayal, struggle with doubt, and act on their aspirations to achieve flourishing lives.  I hope that stories help my readers be their best selves too.   

When did you know you wanted to be an author? 

My first recollection of writing fiction was when I was about ten years old.  What inspired that effort was a picture that hung in the dining room of my parents’ home. It was a moon-lit lake scene that screamed out that mystery lurked among the shadows cast from the trees on the shoreline.  At the time, like most young girls in the 1950s, I was into Nancy Drew books.  So, my first attempt at fiction involved some type of scary adventure along the shores of a secluded lake. Although I had minor attempts at writing short stories in high school, my fiction writing career was interrupted by authoring nonfiction works related to my career in health information systems and leadership.   
What genres do you like to read? Are these the same genres you write in?  

Although I enjoy reading mysteries and biographies, my favorite genre is women’s fiction and nonfiction.  I love women’s diaries and letters, published and unpublished.  A sampling of women’s nonfiction on my bookshelf:  Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinor Pruitt Stewart, Army Letters from an Officer’s Wife 1871-1881 by Frances M.A. Roe, Covered Wagon Women, Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1850, and Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey by Lillian Schlissel. One of the favorite women’s historical fiction I’ve read the past year is My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie. 

Is your book for adults, young adults or children? 

At first, I thought Blackhorse Road was for adult women.  However, my Beta readers and the feedback I’m getting from readers say that the story is for everyone age fifteen and older.  The following is an email I received from a grandmother who read the book with her seventeen-year-old granddaughter:    

Ive been wanting to get back to you to tell you how much my granddaughter enjoyed your book. We’ve had a little time to discuss it, and I know that she especially enjoyed the fact that the main character was a young woman – strong-willed, like my granddaughter, dealing with a difficult parent, falling in love. She has passed it on to one of her friends. 

And a grandfather wrote:  “Blackhorse Road should be required reading by every teenage boy and girl and the parents of every teenage boy and girl. Blackhorse Road not only entertains, it teaches. It shows how beautiful and how special young love can be, what true friendship is and the importance of having supportive friends, that setbacks in life can be overcome . . .” 

What is your current release or project? 

The current release (2020) is Blackhorse RoadMy focus in writing fiction is to tell a story of a protagonist’s journey toward a fulfilled self and flourishing life. I introduce strong secondary characters that are as memorable as the protagonist, and the villain must be a worthy opponent—no sissies or milk toasts for my heroes! 

Tell us about the key characters 

As I wrote the story, I formed a relationship with all the characters in Blackhorse Road. I was amazed at how the characters surprised me as they evolved from my computer keyboard. I found myself challenging them with questions. Luci, you did what?  What were you thinking, Chris? Berry, that was heavy!  Sean, you were brilliant!  Marie, how could you go so low?  I also fell in love with characters I would never have anticipated, and I was unpredictably torn between love interests—pure satisfaction that made me smile as the words tumbled across the computer screen! 

The character who fascinated me the most is the protagonist’s mother, Marie, who is the most complicated. There is a mystery about Marie that engaged my developmental editor and my beta readers as well as myself.  In the focus group with my beta readers, Marie is the character that took up the most space and intensity of the discussion.  She fell on the extremes of the spectrum between compassion and disgust. 

Several of the characters stole a piece of my heart—I call them Luci’s informal therapists and guardian angels.  These are Lucinda, Sam, Barry, the gang of Nerds, Chris, and Genevieve. It’s often said that it takes a village to . . . .  These characters are Luci’s village. I hope that my readers don’t just read how Luci grows, but, through the help of the supporting cast, feel and see her maturation as she faces her life’s challenges.  
What is your blurb or synopsis of the book? 

It’s the turbulent mid-1960s, and Luci, an eighteen-year-old Southern California girl, is on the quest for self-determination and new beginnings. Three powerful forces influence her values: the grit of her Irish great-grandmother, Lucinda McCormick; the philosophy of choice of her father, Sam; and the 1960s ideals of equity and altruism. But potent foes thwart Luci at every turn. Her budding romance with a handsome United States Air Force Academy cadet sets the stage for conflict and deception that last for two decades. When Luci discovers how her autonomy and love affair were hijacked, she struggles with anger and bitterness. But from a surprising source, she finds a forgiveness path that restores her well-being and hope and, in the end, faith in herself. 

Share an excerpt  


The cranky engine revved as the driver shifted gears, and the military bus crawled forward exiting the Air Force base. Along a narrow and dark roadway, the vehicle increased its speed and left the MPs at the gate standing immobile and mute in the glow of the rising moon. Drifting through the open windows the Southern California desert air blew like pixie dust across the faces of the thirty young women who were headed home. A few hours ago, they were preening and adjusting their bouffant hairdos, reapplying creamy pink lipstick, and placing the last twirls of mascara on their eyelashes preparing for a street dance with cadets from the elite Air Force Academy. Then, the atmosphere buzzed with gossip, chatter, laughter, and anticipation. Now, the glimmering night sky created the perfect backdrop to lull each into a contented silence to fanaticize about the handsome men they had met. 

Luci Bartolino closed her eyes and rested her head against the vehicle’s window frame. As the driver navigated the empty highway, the herbal desert smells floating on the dry air wafted into Luci’s thoughts.  June 10, 1966.  Like the transformation of a cocoon to a butterfly, the routine day had metamorphized into an enchanted evening leaving Luci feeling like Cinderella. Although the night heat permeated the bus, emotional chills skipped across Luci’s arms and neck as she daydreamed of the cadet with the electric blue eyes.  She sighed, and a smile of wonderment and gratitude danced across her face.  Thank you, Lucinda McCormick, for giving me the courage to conquer my self-doubt.   

Do you have a favorite scene? 

One of my favorite scenes is when Luci transitions from her “black moment” and allows herself to forgive a grave transgression that caused her to lose something precious that she can never recapture. Forgiveness and mercy are not my top strengths!  So, to write about forgiveness, I had to go beyond writing about what I know. I needed to know about what I wrote—and that meant doing a lot of research on what forgiveness is and what it is not. In the end, Luci taught me so much about forgiveness, and to give readers a hint, I’m happy to share the following scene from the book, modified a little to not give the story away.  Hopefully, it will help others struggling with forgiveness too. 

I keep asking myself, what is forgiveness?  Forgiveness is not pardoning.  It is not overlooking or justifying someone’s transgression and the hurt his actions caused. I am relieved that I don’t have to condone, excuse, reconcile, or even forget his behavior to forgive him.  What is forgiveness . . . forgiveness is choosing to reject resentment and embrace compassion. 

What advice would you give a beginner? 

When I started writing fiction, I took two pieces of advice before pounding the keyboard—write about what you know and know what you write.  Blackhorse Road blossoms from my imagination and is influenced by my experience, perspectives, and observations to give the story authenticity and sensitivity, helping readers connect with the characters and feel their joy, disappointment, sorrow, and happiness.   

But Blackhorse Road is enriched by the backstories that set the context for the characters and events in the story—historical incidents, politics, economics, philosophy, religion, and psychology that influence the values of the characters and ultimately the consequences of their actions.  I uncover these backstories from usual fact-checking and readily available historical references to know about what I write.  The sources that I like best to enhance my novel’s pallet are diaries and letters and mementos from special events such as graduations, weddings, and funerals. These provide a personal perspective to establish a context that helps form a relationship with the reader.  






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Bernadette Marie

Author Bio

So Cute Photo San Jose Family Photography

Bestselling Author Bernadette Marie is known for building families readers want to be part of. Her series The Keller Family has graced bestseller charts since its release in 2011. Since then she has authored and published over thirty-five books. The married mother of five sons promises romances with a Happily Ever After always…and says she can write it because she lives it. 

Obsessed with the art of writing and the business of publishing, chronic entrepreneur Bernadette Marie established her own publishing house, 5 Prince Publishing, in 2011 to bring her own work to market as well as offer an opportunity for fresh voices in fiction to find a home as well.  

When not immersed in the writing/publishing world, Bernadette Marie and her husband are shuffling their five hockey playing boys around town to practices and games as well as running their family business. She is a lover of a good stout craft beer and might have an unhealthy addiction to chocolate. 

Tell us about yourself. 

I am the happily married mother of five sons. An entrepreneurial spirit controls me, as I have been in business for myself since I was twenty. I am a publisher, an author, and of course I have two other businesses, because like I said, the entrepreneurial spirit controls me.  
When did you know you wanted to be an author? 

When I was thirteen, I began writing letters in a spiral notebook with my friends. We would pass it around during classes. The unique part to it was that we wrote as characters. Eventually, after having fallen in love with mini-series that were based on books, I thought I could take the letters my character wrote and I could write a book. This was my passion for the next twenty-seven years—writing that story, even submitting it when I was sixteen.  

 What genres do you like to read? Are these the same genres you write in? 

Aside from contemporary romances, which is my favorite, I enjoy reading biographies and paranormals. I write in contemporary romance. 

Is your book for adults, young adults or children? 


What is your current release or project?

Kennedy Devereaux is the first book in my new family saga series, The Devereaux Family. Each book follows one of the siblings and is named for that character. 

 Tell us about the key characters 

Kennedy is entrepreneurial as well. The owner of a fashion boutique, she loves all things pink and feminine. But, don’t let the pink fool you. She’s a strong and independent woman. 

What is your blurb or synopsis of the book? 

Kennedy Devereaux, owner of Kennedy Devereaux Designs, is a sight to behold in her signature pink colors, accented with custom designed jewelry. Intriguing enough that Joel Kingsley, the man building the new business next door, can’t help but keep coming around, just to get to know the woman in the designer clothes. He finds she’s not such a mystery, and his charm easily wins her over–until she finds that he’s forgotten to let her in on the secrets of his past. 

Share an excerpt

Pink doors, crystal light fixtures, white shelves. Joel cupped his hands around his eyes to get a better look at the feminine interior of the store he stood in front of. Kennedy Devereaux Designs, the lettering on the door said. Costume jewelry, purses, and a few pieces of clothing were elegantly displayed on uncluttered shelves. He could see a small sitting area toward the back of the store with white chairs on a plush pink rug.   

When he stepped back from the door, he inhaled. Could he even smell the store and all of its femininity? 

“Can I help you?” A soft voice had him turning to see a woman, as feminine as the store, standing behind him. 

She was the smell—sweet and floral. Soft golden hair framed a delicate face, and her lipstick matched the soft pastel pink of the doors he’d been looking through. Sharp blue eyes watched him as he stared at her. 

Joel Kingsley was no idiot around women, but this one seemed to render him speechless. 

“We don’t open for an hour, but if you’re looking for something specific, I could help you with that,” she said as if to wake him from the trance that he’d fallen into. 

“Sorry,” he said, tucking his fingers into the front pockets of his jeans. “I was just looking in the window. New to the neighborhood and wanted to check out who else was here.” 

“New to the neighborhood? You just moved in?” 

Joel nodded to the building next door. “New business neighbor.” 

The woman looked past him to the old building which had once been the post office, then was broken down into retail businesses. They were about to reopen the space and make it grand again. 

“You’re putting a business in the building next door? Which part?” 

“All of it,” he said rocking back on his heels. “We’re gutting it and starting fresh. When we pulled back the dry wall on the north wall, we even uncovered all the old mailboxes. They’d just walled them up.” 

Her eyes were wide. “You’ll be doing a lot of construction?” 

“Of course. Ideally now is when we’d like to be opening. Spring and summer are great times for this kind of business. But permits took a lot longer to pull than we’d imagined. We’d like to be open by August at the latest, but with construction, you just never know what can happen.” 

A line formed between her brows. “You’ll have crews here all day?” 

And then it hit him. She was worried about what that was going to do to her business—the soft pink, feminine business that happened just beyond those doors under crystal lights. Joel looked down the street. Her neighbors included an antique shop, florist, holistic healing, and a bakery on the end cap. Something told him he was going to be met with the same lack of sensitivity from each of them as well. 

But his father always taught him to keep to his convictions. He believed in what he was doing, and nothing was going to stop him. So, he was going to inconvenience people for a while, but he was also about to bring in three times the number of customers to the quaint little square. 

Holding out his hand he began to introduce himself. “Joel Kingsley.” 

The woman hesitantly took his hand and shook it. Her nail polish matched the door and her lipstick.   

He’d expected a weak little shake, but he got a full on business handshake, and it lit something inside him.   

“Kennedy Devereaux.” 

Kennedy Devereaux Designs, that’s you.” 

“Of course it is.” 

Do you have a favorite scene? 

I think my favorite scene is the one I shared where Joel meets Kennedy. The set up of femininity was fun to create, and her use of Kennedy Pink is my favorite. 
What advice would you give a beginner? 
Never give up. Never quit writing. Don’t over edit. Make sure if you are going traditional, research the agents and publishers first. Make sure they are trustworthy. Also, make sure you know what they are looking for. As a publisher, most rejections happen because the author never read our guidelines. If Independent Publishing is in your future, find an excellent content editor. Put out quality work, and you’ll have more success. 








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