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Saturday, October 22, 2016

He's a football hero! He's a Coast Gard officer! He's my latest hunk!

Mark your Calendar
October 25 you can take Chase DeMarco home with you!
Who is Chase? The hero of FOURTH DOWN
#4 GAME ON Series

Leave me a comment for a chance to win a $10 Gift Certificate

Go Big or Go Home.  

When her relationship goes up in flames, Holly Funchess jumps straight back into the heat—by becoming a firefighter. Running as far away from her past as she can, Holly trains hard and lands a job with a small San Diego firehouse. With everything to prove, she has no problem putting her love life on the back burner. But where there’s smoke…

A former football player with a string of failed relationships behind him, Chase DeMarco has put his all into his Coast Guard career and the youth football team he coaches. He’s not about to let anyone distract him—especially Holly, the woman at his gym who seems to relish getting under his skin. But when their skirmishes turn into full-contact workouts—and they face off against the dangers of their jobs—Chase and Holly must choose between letting the clock run down or playing to win…


He was just about to take a sip of his third drink (probably his last, if he was smart) when he happened to glance to his left and his jaw nearly hit the floor. He blinked, twice, just to make sure he wasn’t seeing things. Nope, it was her. Holly Funchess. Miss Sass. Right there in this madhouse. And holy shit! Tonight her hair was down in soft waves falling to her shoulders, and the jeans and top she wore showed off a figure that he was sure every man in the place was drooling over.
He wondered what she was doing here. She didn’t look any too happy about her situation. Had she been dragged here by friends, too? She stood for a moment, frowning, looking around the room. Was she looking for her friends? Had they left without her? That would suck big time.
Then two things happened. He saw the exact moment she spotted him, her jaw dropping slightly, and a frown creasing her forehead. And a guy big enough to be an NFL linebacker squeezed over to her and tried to put his arm around her. She recoiled in shock and tried to move away but there was no place for her to go. As Chase watched, the man tried to pull her into the crowd with him. When there was no room to move, his face reddened with frustration and his arm tightened around her. Holly pushed hard at him but he was the immovable object. He watched her try to free herself, try to jab her elbow into him, but his grip on her was too strong;
Chase sighed. Okay, that was his cue, no matter how hard he told himself not to get involved. He set his drink down on the bar and began the tortuous job of inching through the crowd to get to where Holly and the man were standing. He kept his eyes on her the entire time, making sure the two of them never moved from that spot. People swore at him as he shoved between bodies, and some even punched his arm but he kept going.
Finally he was there. When he saw how the man’s fingers dug into Holly’s upper arm his temper spiked. Despite what had happened with his mother, his father had taught him always to respect women. Actions like this enraged him. He was glad now that he worked out so much and kept himself in top shape. Closing his fingers around the big man’s wrist, he pressed hard on the spot that he knew would send pain shooting up his arm.
“Hey!” The man shouted at him, his face turning red as the pressure forced his fingers to loosen their grip. “Leggo of me.”
Chase put his lips as close as he could get to the man’s ears. “Keep your damn hands to yourself and get away from my date.”
Whether it was the pressure on the nerve center of the wrist or shock at the words, the man let go instantly. Chase pulled Holly toward him and wrapped an arm around her. She stared at him in shock but went along with the play.
“Fucking bitch came onto me,” the man shouted at him.
“I saw the whole thing.” Chase took a step back, or as much as he could, bringing Holly with him. “It’s all on you, buddy. One hundred percent. Better cool it or I’ll have you thrown out.”
He eased through the edge of the crowd back into the short hallway that Holly had appeared from. It took several apologies as they inched their way through the press of bodies, but finally they reached the rear door and a few inches of clear space. He released Holly and took a step back.
“Thank you.” She rubbed her arms.
Chase could already see the reddened marks of fingerprints blossoming on her skin and it made him want to go back and punch the guy’s face. “No problem.”
“He just came out of nowhere. What he said. I didn’t—”
“I know. I saw the whole thing.”
“You did?” Her eyes widened. “Well, thanks for coming to my rescue.”
There it was again, that hint of the south in her voice. He wondered where she was from? Not San Diego, for sure.
He gave her a half-grin. “Sure. It’s what we Coasties do.”
“Listen.” She looked into the packed bar and back at him. “I-I need to get some fresh air for a minute. I don’t think I’m ready to go back into that mixing machine yet. But thank you again.”
“Why don’t I just step outside with you?”
Why don’t I just shoot myself first?

Friday, October 21, 2016

Formatting and Cover Design by Author Renee Vincent

  • Are you an indie author, or even a hybrid author, who'd rather concentrate on writing your next book instead of learning how to professionally format it for print and digital format?
  • Don't have the time to learn the skills it takes to design your own quality cover?
  • Do you wish you could find a proficient designer without paying an arm and a leg for his or her service?
  • Are you interested in finding a designer who's patient and eager to satisfy without making you wait months for the finished product?
Then perhaps you'd like to check out

I'm super excited to launch the GRAND OPENING of my new venture in publishing! And because I love my awesome Romance Books 4 Us peeps, I'm giving you an automatic 10% discount on all services rendered. But hurry, it's ONLY for services purchased today on October 21, 2016!!!

As well as formatting, I have historical, contemporary, western, and holiday pre-made covers available, with more on the way...but I'm also able to do a custom cover, if you're looking for something in particular.

I'd love for you to check out my website and see if there's something I can do for you while you concentrate on writing.

Click to go to GOT YOU COVERED DESIGNS, and don't forget to let your author friends know about the GRAND OPENING deal!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Hang On. Your Career Just Took A Plot Twist!

This year has been a very difficult one for me. My schedule has been shot to heck several times. I've taken chances this year, lost money on ads and "must haves" for my business. I've had a record month for iBooks and Audible, and a record low for Amazon.

Am I balanced or coming apart at the seams? We whisper in hallways about what works and what doesn't. What the hot genres are and what is dead (like vampires) - except some are doing fabulously well. I've begun to worship outliers, people who do things differently. I'm a free thinker, so I thought this might be easy for me. It's exhausting.

I think I liked writing more when I didn't know what the heck I was doing. Someone told me that when you're new, you don't have to worry about fans, visibility (except on retail platforms). You begin your long slow climb to branding, unless you have a smash hit, and then you can hire that be done. Every day I see smart authors and extremely dumb ones. And you know what? I learn from both.

Now I get to worry about also-buys and re-covering previously loved book covers because they aren't "with it." I've grown my newsletter up to nearly 30k, which is great, except now I'm obsessed with the NL "heatmap" and how many clicks and conversions I make. We're installing evergreen links on my website to track ads I never used to run. We test the market. We sign up in droves to take seminars on FB marketing, and then jump in by the hundreds, all competing for the same dollar.

I never felt this much competition before. I thought competition was bad in real estate, when I did that. Whoa! Nellie! Just when I master something, something else comes along. I'm way behind deleting old emails and files I never want to look at. I want to stay relevant, get my new releases out there more effectively, along with the other two thousand romance authors who also have a new release the same week.

But as busy as I am as an author, the readers are just as busy. I find reviewers are full, ARC and Beta readers are harder to get and even harder to return the reviews in a timely manner. My reader group, Sharon Hamilton's Rockin Romance Readers is growing respectfully. But readers and bloggers I meet at signings are in some twenty "groups". I would imagine that a PA who worked for multiple authors would have their entire day taken up with facebook posts. I belong to nearly 50 groups and I probably need to delete all but about 20 of them.

I went through my fans page, because I was maxed out at 5000, searching for someone I could delete. After I made a mistake and deleted someone I shouldn't have, I scrolled down the page for another face I'd not seen for a long time. Of the 5000 people I scrolled through, I was shocked to learn by the time I got to 3000, I knew everyone and something about them.

I feel like one of those multiplex boxes with the in and out portals to give and receive energy, hopefully in equal proportions so I don't get fried. These portals tightly latch on to chargers of information, and yes, the dreaded drama occasionally. I've listened to people who have the secrets, and others who say they have the secrets but they'll only tell a select group of 1000 if they pay some $600. Be the first to sign up. Get connected and get going. I've paid thousands of dollars for advice, taken it and it worked some of the time, many times not working at all. I've guessed, begged for answers, stopped and started a new routine nearly every month. In the end, nothing works, but writing.

Maybe it's the election. Maybe it's the stars. Maybe we look for meaning in our over shares. There has to be a limit to how many likes we give and receive in a day. And I don't check my FB feed to find out what other people who are friends of mine have thought was interesting and shared or commented on. I have a label over my "Notifications" because I know how to stop the noise, but not the little orange box that tells me something urgent is going on in my world. Everyone is so busy, busy, busy connecting to as many other people as possible. Trying to find that gold mine of readers so we don't have to work so hard.

I'm reminded of what Mark Twain once said about writers. "The difference between a writer and a published writer is a published writer writes until he gets published."

Maybe Mars is doing something. Or, I need a new candle. Maybe I should be writing about heavily tatted biker dudes, except I don't know any, and I do know some SEALs. Maybe I should watch where everyone else is going, and then turn around, slip out back, and go the other way.

Or maybe, just maybe, I should just shut up and go back to finishing my book. Oh darn! Could it really be that easy?

Here's to a new day! Make it your best ever. Only you are counting all the sparkly things, and you get to count your imagination too.

Sharon Hamilton

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Books of Days for the LIterary Year....

Most of you know one of my less than secret vices is my love for second hand book stores. I recently found this little gem, that gives day by day references to the literary scene. Naturally I turned to my  blog day, October 3rd. And here are the surprising notations for that day.

October 3rd, 1849.  During electioneering in Baltimore, Edgar Allan Poe is kept drunk by a gang of political hacks who have him vote repeatedly in the polls. In four days he is dead.

October 3rd, 1895.  Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage is published in book form.

October 3rd, 1900.  Novelist Thomas Wolfe is born in Asheville, Tennessee.  He will later complain: "I can find plenty of women to sleep with but the kind of woman that is really hard for me to find is a typist who can my handwriting."

October 3, 1925. Gore Vidal,  novelist, playwright and politician, is born in West Point,  New York.

On my own birthday, the most interesting quote was from Henry Adams, author of The Education of Henry Adams, who was born on that day.  He says of himself, "I wanted to look like an American Voltaire or Gibbon, but am slowly settling down to be a third-rate Boswell looking for a Dr. Johnson."
Somehow I found that touching. But for this day in October, I found the information about Edgar Allan Poe to be both distressing and poignant.

If you want to know what the book says about your birthday, send me the date in a comment. I don't need the year,  just the day.  I'll post your days' comments right away.  

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Roping the Cowboy #BoxedSet by the Authors of @RomanceBooks4Us #Cowboy #Romance

FOLLOW YOUR COWBOY HEART by Janice Seagraves   
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Chili Peppers Rating: 1

Max struggles daily to hide his psychic gift with animals. Being a hired hand at a local dairy probably wasn't his best idea, but his mom needs the money he brings in. And there's the dairy owner's sexy daughter he can't stop thinking about. Will he ever have anything other than himself to offer her?

COWBOYS ONLY by Nicole Morgan   
Genre: Contemporary romance
Chili Peppers Rating: 2

Terry Reynolds runs his family’s cattle ranch in Antonito, Colorado. Born and raised on the
one-hundred-plus acre property, it’s the only life he knows. Much to his match-making
mother’s dismay, it’s the only thing in his life he truly cares for.

Andie Donahue has just moved to Antonito after inheriting a small two-bedroom cabin from
her late aunt. She wants a new start and decides this is her chance. After discovering a
dating site has matched her to a handsome cowboy in the same town, she wastes no time
sending the hunk a message.

Terry has no clue why some strange woman has shown up at his ranch, or what the heck
she’s talking about. After running the adorable brunette off, he finds out the truth. Now he’s
faced with making amends for his mother’s meddling. But did he just blow the best chance
he had for love right out of the water? And worse…what does he do now?

LiGHTNING STRIKES TWICE by Rose Anderson writing as Madeline Archer 
Genre: Paranormal
Chili Peppers Rating: 1

In 1919, with soldiers off to war in Europe and influenza taking the heartiest in the homeland,
a small ranch in New Mexico hangs on the edge of foreclosure. After the granddaughter of a
Yaqui medicine man prays to the ancestors for guidance, a stranger arrives seeking work
and he's is unlike any vaquero they've ever known. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers:
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

THE SHADOWS IN OUR PAST by Denyse Bridger   
Genre: Historical Western
Chili Peppers Rating: 3

Enroute home to Gold Ridge, Colorado after their honeymoon, David and Hannah Logan are
attacked by a pair of bandits who plunge them back into a past they shared, but never truly
came to terms with together... It’s been almost a year since the nightmare of violence and
assault tore Hannah from David’s side and left him bereft and angry. When she returned to
him, determined to rebuild what they’d lost, the light of love had come with her. Now, a new
torment threatens to destroy everything, and Hannah’s biggest enemy might just be David

LOVE, TEXAS STYLE by Gemma Juliana  
Genre: Contemporary
Chili Peppers Rating: 1

Amy Waterstone must return to the family ranch in Glen Creek, Texas because her father had
a serious accident. Then she learns her father compromised the ranch by taking a loan he
can’t repay from Chase Storm, the cowboy next door. He’s the one man she never wants to
see again. Chase has waited seven years for Amy to come home, and for a chance to
redeem himself in her eyes. They’re both older, but are they any wiser?

BEAR COUNTRY by Michele  Zurlo  
Genre: Paranormal/shifter  
Chili Peppers Rating: 1

Tasked with scattering the ashes of her beloved aunt at the source of the Big Bear River
high in the mountains, Mallory must swallow her pride and ask Gavin, a laconic, sexy ranch
hand, to guide her.

Genre: Erotic Contemporary
Chili Peppers Rating: 4

This luscious cowboy's been on her radar for years, but he's never noticed her. A speeding
ticket changes everything, leading to a sultry weekend and no-holds-barred romance -
Texas style.

Genre: Western Contemporary Romance
Chili Peppers Rating: 1

Dr. Miranda Chase didn't want to be home but she'd do just about anything for her dad
including temporarily taking over his veterinarian practice. However, once she met her dad's
client Garrett, she wanted to drop everything and run. Cocky cowboys just weren't her thing.

Garrett Jackson cares more about his horse than himself or anyone else and when a tiny bit
of a thing calling herself a vet blows into his life like a tornado, he's literally knocked for a
loop. He doesn't have time for women.

But, when Garrett's horse turns up missing, Miranda isn't going anywhere. Forced to work
together, they'll learn a little bit about each other or die trying.

Genre:  Historial (Victorian England)
Chili Peppers Rating: 3

(England, 1870) The Honorable Amelia Haddon must marry, or lose the income that supports
her and her "companion."  Averse to men, she is desperate until an American cowboy
proves to be her unlikely rescuer. But will judgmental society drag this happy trio apart?


Find out more about the authors of Romance Books 4 Us by visiting them here:

Saturday, October 15, 2016

It's Almost Time for NaNo--So Let's Prepare by Suz deMello (@NaNoWriMo #NaNoWriMoPrep)

Here's my handy writing manual, just in time for NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month, and that's November. So buy this dandy little craft book and get ready! Here's a snippet of the great advice you'll read:

In every book, we create a world apart from our own, even if we’re writing a story set in the present day in our hometown. The world of a book, any book, isn’t like our world. Our world may be cluttered with irrelevant events and people who don’t impact our lives. The world a writer creates includes only those objects, events, and people who have a part in the story in some way. Everything in a story should contribute to it, from the biggest monster to the tiniest comma

About Writing has garnered several five star reviews. Here's what a couple of Goodreads reviewers, both authors, say:

Kelly Collins rated it 5 of 5 stars
I was given this book as an ARC for an honest review. Suz deMello wrote a fantastic primer for the beginning writer, but it should not be overlooked by the more experienced. It’s nice to have a go-to guide to touch on the things easily forgotten. She touches on everything from character arc to plot points. This is an excellent book to have in your craft library.

Kathleen Davis rated it 5 of 5 stars
About Writing by Suz deMello is a small, but powerful book for beginners and experienced writers alike. This little book is an excellent reference to remind all authors of the goals of becoming a better author. I love that Ms. deMello started with this quote, “There are three rules to writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” – Somerset Maugham. Is this not the truth? How many times have we endeavored to learn the correct way to write, and then we pick up a best seller and the author has broken all the rules? This being said, Ms. deMello explains in clear language and with excellent examples the building blocks of writing. She offers excellent ideas for developing characters, plot, conflict, and even how to stir up an author’s creative juices. I believe the most important message in this book is “everything in a story should contribute to it, from the biggest monster to the tiniest comma.” I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in improving their writing. Keep it close and read it often. 

So check it out here:

And happy writing!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Autumn Glory

Even in north Texas autumn is slowly rolling in. I welcome back my favorite season with delight—the cool air, changing leaves, and rich hearty meals. Mugs of hot chocolate replace coffee and hearty soups replace salads. My eyes stray to the leaf-bejeweled trees—ruby, amber, and gold glow in late afternoon sunlight as I drive the country roads near home.

This time of year is conducive to introspection, when we can honor the seasons, reap the harvest of life’s lessons, and be thankful for all the good things in our lives. It's a time to go within and focus on hearth and home, preparing for the bitter cold winter that may lie ahead. Meditative reflection alerts us to the gems we’ve gleaned, and our gratitude increases for all the people and experiences that have crossed our paths. There is some sadness as well, as 2016 has impacted many neighbors, friends and loved ones harshly.

Two years ago, I wrote a novella called Autumn Masquerade as a tribute to this rich season. Anna Spencer is a corporate executive with otherworldly gifts she tries to hide because she thinks people won’t take her seriously if they know she speaks with dead people. Richard Bentley, her boss, lost his wife two years ago and has been a hermit since then. Anna’s feelings for her lonely boss have been growing, but now she’s agreed to be the psychic at an autumn masquerade to help her friend out. The only problem is that Richard will be there, and the ghost of his deceased wife has matchmaking on her mind. This sweet story is available only on Amazon and is $0.99 through the end of the year.

I’m so thankful during this past twelve months to have joined up with many wonderful authors in six anthologies and series. My muse went on strike in mid-2014 and didn’t return until mid-2015. I lured her back with novelettes for anthologies, and she jumped at the bait. Now we are in the flow again.

So for writers who are going through a dry period, take heart and try something new. Maybe a short story, novelette, or group undertaking will jump start your creative flow.

Entice Me – RB4U 2015 Anthology – my story is Riviera Rendezvous

Exquisite Christmas – Exquisite Quills 2015 Holiday Anthology – my stories are Shooting Star Holiday Express, Tropical Christmas, Midnight Sleigh Ride & Recipe

World Romance Writers – 2016 Letterbox Love Stories Volume I – my story is Abandoned Treasures Thanks to everyone who helped make Letterbox Love Stories Volume I an Amazon bestseller!
A World of Gothic series – My stand alone novella Raven of Blackthorn Manor: Ireland 2016

Roping the Cowboy – RB4U 2016 Anthology – my story is Love, Texas Style

World Romance Writers 2016 Holiday Anthology – Holiday Magic – my story is To Kiss A Prince (coming in November)

To all the delightful author friends and readers in my life, thank you.

Do you dress up or do anything special for Halloween?

GEMMA JULIANA lives in Texas and enjoys playing matchmaker to her characters… but not without putting their backs against the wall and squeezing them first. She writes across many genres of romance and mystery, and lately enjoys writing novelettes and novellas. She enjoys hearing from readers.
Love Across The Ages ~ Intrigue Across The Pages

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

It Takes a Bit of Luck Too By Karen McCullough #RB4U #Romance #Mystery #Suspense

I spent a fair amount of time during the month of August watching the Olympics and found a lot of lessons in those competitions that could be applied to writing.

The athletes who compete at the Olympic Games are the best in the business, but they didn’t get there by accident. Those men and women worked their tails off to get there. They trained, practiced, watched their diets, kept in peak physical shape, every day for many years to get to the top rank of competitors in their sports.

Authors need to write, write, write as well. You don’t get better at it by sitting around reading books about writing but never doing it yourself. Yes, the books are like coaches who can make you better if you listen to their advice and put it into practice. But without that practice you don’t improve.

You have to compete and test yourself against others to discover how good you are and what you need to work on. As authors we are always competing for the attention of agents, editors, and readers. It can be useful to run your manuscripts by friends, critique partners, and beta readers first to get an idea of what you need to work on. Entering contents can help you assess where your skills stand in relation to other authors.

But one thing the Olympics made clear and you also learn as you spend more time in the publishing industry: there’s a lot of luck involved in making it to the top.

It helps to be born with the right genes. I was never destined to be an Olympic athlete. I did gymnastics in high school and college, even competed in a few regional meets. I never won, though I placed once or twice. I was more than willing to put in the practice time but I wasn’t born with enough natural talent to go any farther than that. It took me months (and a lot of bruises) to learn to do a twist on a handspring and it was clear my body was at its effective limits with that.

As a writer there are a lot of things you can learn – punctuation, proper grammar, story structure are all basic skills every writer needs. But the talent needs to be there too and that means deep insight into character, a feel for the right details to convey the story, and an understanding of the nuances or word usage and meanings. Those are things that can’t really be taught.

Which brings me to the luck part. Just as every Olympian has to master all the little nuances that go into a winning performance, every author has to master their craft on the basic level. You have to hone what talent you have and strive to get better all the time. But once you’ve reached a high level, there’s still the luck factor.

Gymnast Ali Raisman did some magnificent gymnastic routines in her events. She scored higher on several routines than every gymnast from every other country competing. Many years that would have been good enough to win everything in sight. But she happened to have a teammate who is a phenomenon unlike anything the gymnastics world has seen. Simone Biles isn’t just fabulous, she’s one of the all-time greats and, with the exception of one flawed balance beam routine, she won everything. Raisman kept coming in second to her. Ali has been nothing but graceful about it, but you know it must eat at her.

Writers experience the same thing. After a certain, level getting an agent or getting a publishing contract is a case of hitting the right person with the right thing at the right time. A lot of others are trying to do the same thing, so the odds aren’t good.  You can improve them by writing the most fantastic story possible, and sending out as many proposal as you can, but that won’t insulate you against rejection.

In fact, I have hundreds of rejections in my files, from the standard form ones to many nice ones.  One proposal I sent out got two rejections on the same day and both said the same thing. “Good story but no marketing hook.”

I once sent a proposal to an editor I’d worked with before. She liked the story idea. A lot. But she couldn’t buy it because they’d just acquired something very similar the month before. I self-published my most recent mystery novel, Wired for Murder, because the publisher who’d brought out the first book in the series, Five Star/Cengage, decided to cut their mystery line. I’ve had one other publisher fold entirely. It’s a tough business. If you want to be in it, work as hard as you can at the craft and then hope you’re the one who gets that lucky break. And keep in mind that you can improve your odds by keeping lots of proposals and books in circulation.

Karen McCullough is the author of a dozen published novels and novellas in the mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy genres as well. She has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy, and has also been a four-time Eppie finalist, and a finalist in the Daphne, Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards contests. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the mystery, fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She has three children, six grandchildren (plus one on the way) and lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years.


Blurb for Wired for Murder: Most of the time, Heather McNeil loves her job as assistant to the director of the Washington DC Market Show Center. Because she’s a good listener and even better at solving problems, her boss assigns her to handle a lot of the day to day issues that arise during the shows, exhibits, and conferences being held there.  When Heather becomes an unwilling audience to murder during the Business Technology Expo and later finds the body, she’s willing to let the police take care of it. But she soon learns more than she wanted to know about the victim and all the people who really didn’t like him very much.


·         Amazon print:
·         Smashwords:
·         Nook:
·         iTunes:
·         Kobo:

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