March is a wonderful month! Springtime, St. Patrick’s Day, green everywhere, and we all get to be Irish for a day. To celebrate this amazing season, the Pen Dames are holding a Mega Contest for Lucky Leprechauns. We invite everyone to play, but only U.S. residents are eligible to win. Apologies to our international readers, but shipping costs are prohibitive.
The list of prizes is below. (We don’t literally have a pot of gold to give away. If we had such a thing, we’d keep it for ourselves.) But we do have some fantastic goodies lined up. At the end of the month, we’ll draw one random winner and send the person enough gifts to fill up that mythical cauldron.
From Loretta Rogers:
The Witching Moon ~ Ebook
Isabelle and the Outlaw ~ Readable PDf on CD
Magnetic Refrigerator ClipSpiral Bound Note Pad
From Flossie Benton Rogers:
Time Singer eBook
Irish Connemara Marble Wishing Stone
$3 Amazon gift certificate to purchase audio Celtic love song
From Jennifer Taylor:
Heartbeat of the Moon Paperback
Color Street Nail Polish Strips with Hearts
From Linda Tillis:
A Heart for All Time Paperback
From Katherine Smits:
3 signed paperback books (Water Dreams, Water Desires, and the combined paperback edition of The Sea Witch and the Mage and Siren Descending)
Imperial Jasper Turquoise-color Bracelet
Rose Gold Crystal Pen
Check the Pen Dames blog every week this month for pictures of all the prizes, and please tell your friends! We love our readers and hope we’ll get lots of participation.
“One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.” ~ Sophocles
On Valentine’s Day most of us think of hearts and flowers and the giddy feeling of meeting The One. Romance is fantastic, but love is about relationships of all kinds and fundamentally involves acceptance.
I’d like to share an excerpt from Siren Descending which examines the different kinds of love.
The main character, Athenia, is trapped in the underworld after trading herself to the devil in exchange for her lover’s freedom. Though she knows her life, her powers, and her soul are forfeit, she agrees to sing her siren song one last time for the inhabitants of Hades. At first, she only wants to delay her fate for as long as possible, but she ends up giving even the most repellent creatures the gift of love through her song.
Keeping her promise, Athenia gave everything to the song. Opening her soul, she let all her pain, fear, loneliness, and desperation suffuse her voice. At first, the notes jangled with sharp edges and discordances, evidence of her anguish. Minor chords overwhelmed the music with their overtones of alarm. When the inhabitants of the underworld came out to listen, they milled about, whispering, and glaring at one another. At a gesture from Gelion, they stilled, but tension filled the air. Eyes narrowed, Gelion started toward her.
While her deepest emotions took over, she ignored everything else. She sang of her grief for Delphie, for what might have been with Thorne, and for the soon to come loss of her identity. Next, she poured out her longing for the sea and her acceptance of kinship with the Atlantean Nerei, especially Deme, who had been a friend.
She trilled a refrain for the other mages, who would have accepted her, if she hadn’t been so secretive.
When all else drained away, she let the ballad take her back to her first time with Thorne. The moment when she’d realized how perfect he was for her played like a movie in her mind. She crooned her love for him. So long as he survives and goes on to lead a happy life, I can tolerate all this.
The pure notes echoed around them, and the denizens of the underworld stood with arms around each other, swaying in rhythm to her music, staring at her as though hypnotized.
Three-headed Cerberus rolled on his back, whining through all his mouths.
After the harpy landed beside him, she reached over and rubbed his belly. No one moved away from the winged creature this time, though her stench rolled through the area in an almost palpable haze.
Staring at Athenia intently, Gelion stood behind the crowd. Clear-eyed, he didn’t appear mesmerized like the others. However, the corners of his lips turned up, and he tapped his foot.
As long as I’m singing, he won’t make me have sex with him. A vision of him naked and jamming himself inside her made her stomach heave. Worse, he’ll make me enjoy being raped, long for more, and beg him not to stop. She shuddered.
Momentarily, her song shrieked into a register so high human ears probably ached. The demons clenched their claws, some digging talons into boulders, scraping long gouges out of the rock. Growling, Cerberus shook his head. Then, he snapped at the harpy, who snatched her hand out of reach of his jaws.
Can’t let my fear stop me. Must face this with as much dignity as I can summon up. With an effort, she brought her voice back to the pleasing range and added a hint of hope. Not for me since I’m doomed. For these poor creatures. Maybe this moment of solidarity will be all they ever experience, but this small amount of peace is my gift to them. For once, I can offer something to someone else without needing or wanting repayment. Besides, they aren’t the reason I’m here.
Everyone settled down. Now, her voice strained to reach the high, pure notes, and lost some clarity. I never used my siren ability so long or with so much emotion before, so I won’t last much longer. When my voice dies, Gelion will come for me, and that will be the end of me, too.
Sadness threatened again, but she refused to give in to despair. For as long as I can, I’m going to focus on joy, even in difficult circumstances. All I want now is to be fully present for every moment of my precious life while I possess free will. Though my time is almost over, I’ll make the most of every second.
At the top of her aria, her voice cut out. She lost a few notes, but not enough to end the enthrallment of the crowd. To preserve her vocal cords for as long as possible, she lowered her range. A siren with no voice. How ironic, I’m morphing into a Disney character.
Time passed. How long has it been, hours? Can’t keep on more than a few more minutes.
From the depths of her soul, Athenia poured every form of love into a haunting chorale.
Philia, the deep connection between comrades in arms, who are loyal and willing to sacrifice for each other. Though this was partly what I felt for Thorne, I realize now I care so much more for him.
Ludus, playful love or affection. Not as serious as Philia, but important to help us remember we’re not alone in our mortal condition, and we can make connections with many people, including those different from us. Like when Bathin helped me.
Philautia, or love of self. Through all this, I discovered I’m not a horrible person. Of course, I was misguided to think I needed to protect myself from everyone, even Thorne. Yet, though I did some awful things, I’m not bad. I care about myself and want to live, but it’s too late now. At least, I figured this out before the end.
Eros, or sexual passion. What I felt for Thorne all along, what I thought was the most important kind of love, but it’s not. Romance is wonderful when combined with friendship and affection, and when both lovers care about themselves, but sex isn’t everything and is empty without the other dimensions.
Pragma, or longstanding love. The pain of loss in her chest increased. This is the type of love I’ll never experience with Thorne.
Agape, the selfless love, which encompasses all people. This is what I offer you today. She sent agape to every creature assembled, even Gelion. He’s still part of the universe and needs whatever caring anyone can spare for him. Odd, to pity someone so powerful, but I do now. In these final moments, I understand so much more than I ever did before.
The rasp in her voice became huskiness. Then a whisper. Finally, she stopped. I’m done. There’s nothing left to do or say, no way to fight the inevitable any longer. Strangely at peace, she bowed her head.
Through the silent throng, Gelion marched toward her. None made a move. All of Hell’s occupants sat as if turned to stone.
Thank you for joining me. I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. This post was first published on the Pen Dames blog. Please come on over and join us for more wonderful posts from my fabulous colleagues. https://pendames.blogspot.com/
Like me, many of you probably stayed home on New Year’s Eve and quietly watched 2020 exit. While I believe everyone is happy to see that dumpster fire end, we missed having a rousing party. So, I thought in this post, I’d give you a chance to stage a bash in your imagination.
I call this a Choose Your Own Adventure Paranormal Romance Micro-Story. That’s because you get to pick the characters and decide what happens and because it’s short, only one paragraph. Even so, there are lots of possible combinations you can use to create the fete of your dreams. I hope you have fun!
Let’s get this shebang started! Pick one item from each of the six categories below and insert your choice next to the corresponding number in the story. Use the prompts or just pick the one you like best. That’s it. Easy peasy and you have your unique shindig.
Your favorite color: (Heroine/Hero)
Green: Scottish Highlander
Purple: Motorcycle Gang Leader
Orange: Movie Star
Pink: Sports Star
Gold: War Hero
Silver: Famous Novelist
2. Your Favorite Beverage: (Love Interest)
3. The first number on your street address. Includes postal code. If no number, use 5: (Villain)
0. A Rival
1. An Enemy
2. An Ex
3. A Jealous person
4. A False Friend
5. Your Boss
6. An Evil Twin
7. A Random Stranger
8. A Crazy Neighbor
9. A Drunken Co-worker
4. Your Zodiac sign: (Conflict)
Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18): Picking a Fight
Pisces (Feb. 19 – March 20): Telling their Secret
Aries (March 21 – April 19): Stealing their Money
Taurus (April 20 – May 20): Poisoning their Drinks
Gemini (May 21 – June 21): Getting them arrested
Cancer (June 22 – July 22): Kidnapping them
Leo (July 23 – August 22): Spreading lies about them
Virgo (August 23 – September 22): Casting a spell on them
Libra (September 23 – October 23): Shooting at them
Scorpio (October 24 – November 21): Trying to break them up
Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21): Starting a fire
Capricorn (December 22 – January 19): Challenging them to a duel
5. The first letter of your pet’s name. (Action) No pet? Use a friend or family member’s pet name or select M.
A. Escape to a land in another dimension
B. Hide in a magic trunk
C. Change their identities
D. Pay a fortune for ransom
E. Find the key to an invisible lock
F. Tame the Minotaur
G. Outwit a rogue A.I.
H. Sacrifice their most treasured possession
I. Rescue a changeling from the fey world
J. Learn a government top secret
K. Stop a psychic killer
L. Prevent a war between two kingdoms
M. Discover a cure for a terrible disease
N. Transform a frog with a kiss
O. Acquire a rare, magical jewel
P. Bind a demon
Q. Develop and Drink a magic potion
R. Spin thread into gold
S. Make a deal with the devil
T. Persuade a dragon to give up his hoard
U. Pretend to be enemies
V. Defeat an evil overlord
W. Find and Raise Atlantis
X. Shoot cupid with his own arrow
Y. Swim with crocodiles
Z. Appease a poltergeist
6. Favorite time of Day: (Resolution)
Morning: Find the answer
Noon: Overcome the problem
Afternoon: Negotiate a compromise
Evening: Manage to get away
Night: Defeat the enemy
Here’s the template:
A (1) meets a (2) at a New Year’s Eve costume party. They are instantly attracted to one another but (3) causes a problem by (4). In order to be together, they have to (5) by the stroke of midnight. When they (6), they achieve their Happily Ever After.
To kick things off, I’ll start. Here’s my story: A (Queen) meets a (Merman) at a New Year’s Eve costume party. They are instantly attracted to one another but (an enemy) causes a problem by (challenging them to a duel). In order to be together, they have to (change their identities) by the stroke of midnight. When they (negotiate a compromise), they achieve their Happily Ever After.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts and read your stories. You can add them in the comments.
Thank you so much for playing!
This post was first published on the Pen Dames Blog.
Life changes during a pandemic. My deepest sympathies are with those who lost loved ones, or who are dealing with illness at this time. Even if the virus has not personally touched us, we have all been forced to adjust. Whether we self-isolate for protection, lose our favorite restaurant, or miss new movies and travel opportunities, we all experience upheaval in our daily routines.
My husband and I haven’t gone out to eat, visited friends or family, shopped in a store, or been to the dentist since March. So far, we are lucky and remain healthy, but we miss our children and grandchildren and being able to do normal activities without wondering if we are risking our lives. We don’t go to the post office. We pick up medications from the drive-through window at the pharmacy. We get all our groceries through curbside delivery. We watch church services on-line. The list is endless.
However, I refuse to give in to depression and anxiety. One day this will end, and I want to be ready.
During this time of isolation, I take inspiration from the butterfly. A universal symbol of renewal and beauty, she starts life as a poor, unsuspecting caterpillar who, without warning, loses everything.
Biological imperatives force her into a silk chrysalis, where her entire body dissolves and rebuilds her into a new creature. When she emerges with vibrantly colored wings, she must learn a new way to live and how to fly.
I embraced this new lifestyle by beginning an intensive exercise program. I also finished writing my fifth novel, with a central motif of a butterfly, and submitted it for publication. (Release will be in 2021.) To celebrate, my husband bought me a lovely butterfly necklace.
Being a butterfly means going on a journey into ourselves which turns us into a new creation ready for a different phase of life. It means taking the opportunity to push past boundaries which stopped us in the past. It means having faith that life can change again, and maybe it will be more beautiful than we imagined.
We can all be butterflies! Find transformation within this unplanned chrysalis, and when you emerge, you’ll discover your own gorgeous wings.
Thank you for reading this blog. I hope you enjoyed it. Please let me know in the comments about your experiences with the pandemic. I’d love to hear from you.
Chances are you don’t know what a beta reader is unless you’re a writer or friends with one.
Beta readers are usually the second people to peruse a story after critique groups or partners. Nothing is set in stone, but beta readers often provide their feedback before the novel goes to the editor.
Since they see the book before it is published, they serve a special function by finding plot holes, mistakes, and problems.
Beta readers are not other writers, but people who love books and reading. They tell us the boring parts, the places where they dropped out of the narrative for one reason or another, and many other things.
What qualities do you need? First, it’s important to like the type of work you’ll be evaluating. You’ll bring to the table an awareness of what fans of the genre appreciate. Also, you’ll have more fun with the process.
Being able to finish a book quickly is also helpful. No one expects beta readers to devour the book in a day, but we do prefer to hear from you in a reasonable length of time. Authors are anxious to release their books as soon as possible.
A critical quality is the ability to give honest reactions. We need to know where the work can be improved, and we won’t get mad at you for telling us. Please be specific. Just saying the book was great or terrible isn’t enough. Tell us exactly what you didn’t like and why. We can take it!
What you don’t need is expertise in grammar or punctuation or an eagle eye for spotting typos. Editors and proofreaders address those issues.
What do you get for doing this? You probably won’t get paid in cash. However, you will get the book for free, and your name may be listed on the acknowledgements page. I also give my beta readers paperback copies of the book, bookmarks, and other swag, and take them to lunch or dinner. I treasure my beta readers and treat them like solid gold, because that’s what they’re worth to me.
If you’re asked to beta read for someone, I hope you’ll consider it. It means the author trusts you with their baby before it is completely ready for the world, and they believe you can help them make it better.
Are you already a beta reader? What has the experience been like for you? If you aren’t, are you interested in trying it out or isn’t it for you? Do you have questions about anything I didn’t cover? I would love to hear from you in the comments.
Fall is the time for witches, fae, and things that go bump in the night! It’s a spooky time when days grow colder and shorter, and the line between reality and possibility thins a bit more each day. If you’re like me and love the otherworldly, celebrate your appreciation of the paranormal. Check out these 83+ books available now on KU. They all look fantastic and I can’t wait to read them myself. https://books.bookfunnel.com/witchesfaeonku/wx98hs1m3e
Most readers ask out of idle curiosity. Or maybe they’re fans and want to know more about their favorite heroine or hero.
When a storyteller’s family asks that question, they have an agenda.
Here is an actual conversation I had with several people close to me. Most authors I know have had this same discussion.
Me: I wrote a book.
Family: That’s nice.
Me: I found a publisher!
Family: You didn’t write about people you know, did you?
Me: It’s a romance.
Family: But did you include any relatives?
Me: A paranormal romance.
Family: No family?
Me: About mermaids.
Family: But did you—
Me: You’re not in the book!
The truth is, most of the time we don’t know where our characters come from. They may start out with attributes or personality quirks of people we know, but they grow and change and become unique. They are themselves, genuine, if insubstantial.
However, characters can be “real” people (or as I like to call them, the corporeally incarnated).
Like everyone, I’ve been treated badly by some people during my life. When someone wrongs me, I make them a villain in one of my novels. (Disguised, of course.) I don’t know if karma will pay them back in life, but in my stories, bad guys get what’s coming to them. (And I enjoy it.)
Historical figures may play roles in our books. This is tricky because we must research every detail and stick to the facts as much as possible. If we make a mistake, an alert reader will catch it. Every time. Still, some people are so intriguing, we need to tell their story. If the writer happens to be a descendant, sharing the person’s tale with the world is even more compelling.
In Loretta C. Rogers’ newest historical romance, Bitter Autumn, the protagonist, Birdie Mae Dix, was inspired by the author’s ancestor, who was captured by Indians as a child and later escaped. Not only is this fascinating story based on a real person, but Ms. Rogers even has her great-great-grandmother’s diary to learn how this remarkable woman thought and felt.
Today’s blog features my friend, colleague, and mentor, Flossie Benton Rogers and her Wytchfae novels. I recently reread and reviewed Mind Your Goddess, the KCT Literary Award 2019 Blue Prize Top Finalist.
Mind Your Goddess is a fully developed paranormal romance set in the enchanted Wytchfae and Florida in the Roaring 20s.
I’m talking about the 1920s. I just realized we’re in the 20s again. What will historians dub this decade? The Ailing 20s? The Isolating 20s? The Hoarding 20s? I sincerely hope they will nickname the decade something much better. Maybe we’ll even manage an updated version of the Roaring 20s, one where we come back from this upheaval better and stronger. We’re all anxious and wondering what life will be like on the other side of the crisis. We wouldn’t be human if times like these didn’t stress us. Despite that, I’m keeping a positive attitude, and wish, along with staying safe and healthy, the same for you.
Mind Your Goddess by Flossie Benton Rogers Five Stars *****
Mind Your Goddess is the third exciting Wytchfae book by Flossie Benton Rogers. Some writers create towns, cities, or worlds where their characters live, love, and fulfill their destinies. Ms. Benton Rogers created a complete universe and has located six (soon to be seven) tales there.
The Wytchfae is an enthralling nexus where every god, goddess, witch, warrior, supernatural creature and possibility exist. Greek, Roman, Celtic deities and more live there. Time travel? Yep. Runes? You bet. A Demoness? Absolutely. Add Succubae, a Lamia, and a Janus, and you get the picture. This is a mythology geek’s fantasyland!
Mind Your Goddess Blurb:
The Goddess Epona is breathless over a lover’s tryst with Eshigel, the dark Guardian of the Between. Before she can meet him, she must hear the pleas of her Dark of the Moon supplicants. Strange requests originate from a captive little girl and a succubus seeking revenge. Then Epona is attacked and abducted.
Epona awakens stranded in the human realm of the Roaring Twenties. With her powers nullified, she assumes the guise of a flapper in a speakeasy. Knowing the little girl is nearby, Epona seeks to save her.
Eshigel rushes to find his missing Goddess. To gain information he undergoes a dangerous rite involving a half woman and half serpent Lamia. After locating Epona, he vows to protect his flapper Goddess from the demons set on her destruction. Can a Goddess and her dark Guardian overcome misfortune and reclaim their love?
Here’s my review:
This book has everything I enjoy. First, it’s an amazing love story. Epona (Eppie) and Eshigel share a fascinating history which is only mentioned in Mind Your Goddess. I’d LOVE to read the story of how they got together, but we’ll have to convince Flossie to write it first. (You can contact her to ask for it here: https://flossiebentonrogers.com/contact/ )
When Mind Your Goddess begings, the couple have resolved their past and now are madly in love. But Eppie disappears, and Eshigel realizes he’s to blame. Nothing on earth (or in the Wytchfae cosmos) will stop him from rescuing her.
Meanwhile, Eppie, stripped of her gifts, copes with life in Sapphire Beach, Florida in the 1920s. This is a major endeavor because she has landed in the clutches of a Speakeasy owner who uses her as a dancer in his establishment. Dressed in a fringed frock, she must shake her booty to the Charleston and endure sweaty-handed left foot lugs who drag her around the dance floor while she attempts to restore her divinity and find a desperate child psychically begging for help.
Eshigel’s detective work to figure out what happened to Eppie is brilliant. Yet, before he can locate his lover, he must survive the challenge of the snakes. If you think this part couldn’t be half horrifying, half erotic, you would be wrong. The Lamia is gorgeous and hot, and though Eschigel has made a lot of mistakes, she eventually supports him in his quest and gives him the information he needs to find his goddess.
When Eshigel and Eppie get back together, sparks fly for them and those in their way. The book has a satisfying ending which wraps up most of the plot points and includes a Happily Ever After.
Mind Your Goddess is book 3. The narratives connect by being part of the Wytchfae milieu, but they are all separate. As Ms. Benton Rogers said, “They all stand alone, with different characters. The parallel Wytchfae magical macrocosm is the entwining factor.”
Though you can read the Wytchfae books in any order, my recommendation is to start with Book One: Wytchfae Runes and find out what happens when Kelly falls for the Viking Ingvar.
Wytchfae Runes Blurb:
Wytchfae Kelly O’Day’s job is to transition ghosts to the afterlife. The last thing she expects is to fall for one of them — sexy Viking Ingvar Hrothson.
Cursed to roam the earth as a restless spirit, Ingvar is hell bent to destroy the sorceress responsible. His war plan doesn’t include spending time with a bewitching flesh and blood woman like Kelly.
With their attraction approaching supernova, the couple must battle sinister forces and master manipulators of the unholy dark arts. More than lives are at stake. Will hell give them a chance?
The second book, Guardian of the Deep, is another of my favorites.
Guardian of the Deep Blurb:
Forbidden love in the fae realm…
The Succubus Layla has one job: to seduce dreaming men. Although emotional attachments are strictly prohibited, Layla has powerful feelings for the Guardian of the Deep.
Samael is a dark lord charged with maintaining order in his submerged domain. The Guardian is enamored of Layla, and they fuel their passion in his undersea home.
With forces stirring against them, the fae world becomes dangerous. Samael suggests a hideaway in the human dimension – a 1950 Montana ranch. Layla is thrilled. They can escape the threat looming over them, and she can indulge her cowboy fantasies with Samael.
When Samael disappears before their rendezvous, Layla’s dream turns to a nightmare. Peril is closer than ever. She must call on her deepest reserves and risk everything for the truth to come out. Is her love strong enough to hold the bond with her Guardian of the Deep?
Here’s my review:
When Layla, a succubus, becomes too involved with Sammael (Sam), Guardian of the Deep, someone decides to punish them. Their planned vacation to Montana becomes a nightmare for Layla when she finds Sammael there ahead of her with no memory of her or his life. He thinks he is a rancher who has spent his entire life on his land. Layla hires on at the ranch as his housekeeper to remain close to him and help him regain his memory.
Guardian of the Deep Wytchfae 2 is a stand-alone novel. The characters and plot are different from the ones in the other books, so you could read each book without having read any of the others. The continuity comes from the Wytchfae parallel dimensions containing magical creatures including witches, demons, goddesses, and mortals with fae blood. You can pick up any book for a complete story. However, you won’t want to read just one. Once you step into this alternate reality, you won’t want to leave until you have finished all the sagas, when you must exit sadly, until the release of the next enchantment.
I loved this book, which combined many elements dear to my heart. Sammael is a merman in his water form. Although the reader doesn’t get to see him in his other form for long, the glimpse is intriguing, and I hope Ms. Benton Rogers writes another book featuring him in his merman shape.
I also love horses and ranches. Most of the book takes place on the ranch. The incongruous idea of a beautiful succubus trying to cope with life on a hardscrabble ranch makes for some delightfully humorous scenes and conflicts between Layla and Sam.
Since Layla is a succubus, sex is an important part of the story. The artful love scenes portray just enough detail to add heat without sacrificing the romance.
Guardian of the Deep is a quick read that combines romance, paranormal and western themes. I would not have predicted the blend would produce such a tasty cocktail. Yum—something enjoyable for almost everyone.
Katherine Eddinger Smits writes spellbinding stories of mythical, mystical, magical fantasy and romance. Sign up for her quarterly newsletter and receive a free short story exclusively for subscribers. Newsletters always include, contests, freebies and fun. http://katherineeddingersmits.weebly.com/
Ho, Ho, Ho, it’s time for a Pen Dames Christmas Giveaway. So easy to enter: follow the link, select the number of your favorite song, and comment with 1,2,3, or 4. If the song you like best isn’t listed, write it in. One lucky reader will win signed copies of 5 books by award winning authors + a $25 gift card.