This blog is for those 18 and older.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Guest Author: Danica Winters

An Author's Golden Rule

A friend of mine, who is a fresh writer, asked me a question the other day.  She wrote, “I want to write a [review] on a published book…The thing is, it is kind of negative.  Can I do this?”

I am of the solid belief that if you are a writer or a reader, you shouldn't put down authors.  It is incredibly hard to create.  I don’t think there is a single writer out there who has written their first novel, published it, and later called it a masterpiece.  This is a craft that one learns as they go, every novel a person writes they get better and their voice becomes stronger.  However, if they are crushed by negative reviews, some will become crippled by the public outcry against them.  I’ve seen it time and again and I don’t blame them.  It’s a rough day when an author receives a poor review—it is crushing.  (Who knows how many great novels would have been written if the author had only been treated with a higher level of courtesy.)

That being said, you should give an honest review—it will help the author to see the weak and strong points in their writing.  However, it is a thin line between helpful criticism and negativity.

We will read books we will not like, we will read books that we love, but we must remember to treat authors with the same level of respect in which we wish to be treated.  

Too often I see writers, so absorbed in their own grandeur that they begin knocking authors down.  Writing is a personal struggle, a battle against life, a battle against self-doubt, and an occupation that requires a tremendously thick-skin, but authors do not need to have other’s egos become major antagonists in the war that rages within them.  

If you feel that you must say something negative, send the author a personal message—your opinion does matter and it may help strengthen the writer.  It is easy in the Facebook age to be discreet and respectful.   Most importantly, please listen to our Mother’s advice, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  

*I am a positive person and if you choose to request a review from me, I can promise that I will focus on the positive aspects of your work.  I only wish to help raise other writers and I never break someone down.    

Alexis: For more information on Danica, go to
For a chance to win Danica's book CURSE OF THE WOLF leave her a comment :-)

For cursed, shape-shifting Veela, Gloriana, following her heart and giving her body to sexy, tortured werewolf Alexander means one thing-he will die and it will again be her fault. 

Once only a man, Alexander finds himself scarred by the memories of his former life and the deceptions and lies that surround him. When a glimmer of light breaks the madness, he must let go of his misguided preconceptions and the hatred that consumes him. 

On a mission for blood, they find unity in their desire for revenge, but are driven apart by their pasts. Traveling the darkest paths and fighting the very people they think they can trust, they draw closer to one another's hearts and further into danger.

Will the curse prove to be unstoppable... or is there hope in forbidden love?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review: SUNRISE ON CEDAR KEY by Terri DuLong

It’s all about love on Cedar Key, an island off the west shore of Florida, whether it’s between relatives, friends, or that special someone.

Grace originally moved to Cedar Key to start a new life and business.  When her coffee shop burns to the ground, she begins once again.  At the same time, she runs into a multitude of conflicts and wonders whether she can handle so much.

Not only does Grace decide to partner in a knitting retreat service and rent an apartment from her aunt, but her jealous and overbearing sister comes to town.  At the same time, she meets Lucas who makes her heart swell. 

Can Grace overcome her last romance and give her everything to Lucas?  Does a glimpse at her Tarot cards or a vision of her passed mother help? 

DuLong unravels multiple issues in Grace’s life in a masterfully crafted story.  Sunrise on Cedar Key is the third of a continuing series of island life enriched with family and friends.   


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Guest Author Interview: Kellyann Zuzulo

Today we are interviewing Paranormal Romance Writer Kellyann Zuzulo. She is giving away a $20 Amazon Gift Card.

Alexis: Hi Kellyann, thank you for visiting Happily Ever After Thoughts. Can you start by telling us why you decided to write stories about Genies? 

Kellyann: Hi Alexis! Thanks for hosting me today. I’ve always been fascinated by the paranormal and how much of it is imagination and how much is based in truth. I’m also a journalist. When I worked for the Saudi embassy as a writer, I learned about belief in the race of jinn. So I started out by asking, “What is this belief based in? Are they real? What would a world with jinn be like?”

Alexis: Talk about a job with great opportunities. It must have been fun learning about the jinn. What is THE GENIE IGNITES about? 

THE GENIE IGNITES is a love story about the genie Zubis and a human woman, Bethany O’Brien. Bethany is an editor living in Washington, DC, when she meets Zubis at an embassy reception. There is an immediate attraction between them and yet she is cautioned by an innate sense of danger. She thinks he is a Saudi minister, but he is a jinni. Born of flame, he was an emissary of the jinn in Solomon’s temple when she was a priestess in that previous lifetime. They were lovers. He has never forgotten her and continues to love her. But she needs to be convinced that their ongoing connection won’t be her destruction. Her search for truth leads across three continents to a world of magic and mystery, of treachery and tears, of seduction and devotion. She’ll find out just how durable love is.

Alexis: I know I'm being redundant, but that sounds so romantic . Where did you get the idea for this story?

Kellyann: I rubbed my magic lamp. ; )

Alexis: Really? I think I need one of those. What are your favorite character traits of Bethany and Zubis?

Kellyann: Bethany is inquisitive, honest, passionate and as cynical as any urban 21-st century woman will be. But she’s open to possibility. I like that about her. Zubis is loyal. And that’s one of the most important traits to me. Plus, he has a sexy charisma and is absolutely fearless.

Alexis: Ah, loyalty is my weakness too. You don't only write romances though. Toy write thrillers too. Are these completely different genres for you, or do you see overlap?

Kellyann: Well, with romantic suspense, which I think applies to THE GENIE IGNITES (as well as it being a paranormal), there are a lot of similarities to a thriller. The author not only has to establish a relationship between characters but build of sense of urgency around a particular situation. I think you’ll find that sense in many romances and, of course, in thrillers.

Alexis: That makes sense. So what can we expect next from you? Do you have any new releases coming or a work in progress?

Kellyann: I’ve already submitted book two of the Zubis Chronicles to Boroughs Publishing Group. That book is called THE GENIE SMOLDERS and continues the love story between Zubis and Bethany, amidst a particularly compelling peril (there’s that thriller sense). I’m currently working on another novel about an American archaeologist who uncovers—guess what—a genie in the desert outside of Jordan. He has to return with her to the United States and convince her to free him. And I have a completed thriller about a genetically altered coyote that terrorizes a Long Island community.

Alexis: Wow, you have some great story lines! We can't wait to read these :-) Thank you so much for sharing your stories with us. It's a pleasure having you visit.

Kellyann: Thanks for letting me share my jinn with you. Best wishes to you!

Alexis: For a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card, be sure to leave a comment for Kellyann. If I have contact information, I will let you know when you win, otherwise, check the side column for your name on Wednesday under WINNERS (under the Blog Hop)

For more information on Kellyann's books, go to

Alexis: Check out this excerpt from THE GENIE IGNITES.

A sucking sound like a jar of sauce being twisted open snapped Bethany to attention. She spun around to face the front of the stall. Wiping at the steam fogging the door, she saw the gray silhouette of someone standing outside the shower. Derek must have come in. He stood still, arms slightly raised from the sides of his body. If this were one of Bethany’s yoga classes, she could say he executed a classic mountain pose.
“Son of a …” Working up to a flurry of curses she grabbed for the stall door. The handle slipped from her grip as he pulled the door open. The chrome trim rattled.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Irritation spat out her words. “If you think …” The mist swirled around his body and against his neck. Despite the dense steam, Bethany felt a chill of recognition and froze.
He was naked, his chest broad and hairless. His eyes, barely visible through the vapor, were golden. Eyes she’d imagined just now when looking at Derek, but not like Derek’s eyes at all. He lifted a foot over the lip of the shower door, his motion pushing her back into the stall. The door snapped shut behind him. Moving with quick grace, he cupped the full weight of one of her breasts. His touch was exhilarating, the movement familiar.
For reasons that seemed idiotic - her body telling her she knew him, had enjoyed the caress of his hands before - she didn’t scream, but flattened her palm on his chest and pushed.
Firm, pliant skin coursed beneath her fingers, feeling real and solid. “Hold on.” She brought her gaze up to his eyes and her heart flipped in her chest.
An urge to run - to push past him and flee out of the room and out of all knowledge of who this man was and why she felt that he had a right to be standing before her, imposing and expectant - flashed and faded.
Anticipation held her immobile. From the moment she had seen Minister Zubis at the embassy, she knew it would come to this. Maybe not a rusty shower stall in Italy, but a face-to-face liaison that may or may not include clothes.

Alexis: Don't forget, for a chance to win a $20 Amazon Gift card, leave a comment for Kellyann!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What about book reviews?

Do you read book reviews? And if you do, do you put much stock in them? Does it make you go out and get that book? I admit, I’ve read a couple (both good and bad), even received a couple (all good. Whew!), but I’ve never let someone else’s opinion influence my purchase. I like to form my own opinion (and that goes for movies too. I have found, for me though, the worse a movie review is, the more I generally love the movie).  
For all the hype about Fifty Shades of Grey, I have yet to read the story. Banish me to the basement where all the old, well-loved books reside, but I haven’t read any of the Twilight Series (I know! Shame on me!)
That being said, if a friend simply gushes: “Oh, you have to read this book!” then chances are, I will read that book because my friends know what I read and what I like. I have yet to be steered wrong (thank you, friends!). I have my favorite authors, of course, and I will continue to read them no matter what critics say.
So what about you? Does a review (good or bad) influence your purchase? Does it make you want to run right out and buy that book?  And what was the last book you bought because of a review?

As always, happy reading!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Guest Author Interview: Kim Watters

Today we are interviewing Inspirational Romance Writer Kim Watters. She is giving away a copy of AND FATHER MAKES THREE.  
Alexis: Hi Kim, thank you for visiting Happily Ever After Thoughts again. Can you start by telling us why you decided to write Inspirational Romance?

Kim:  Thanks for inviting me here, Alexis. I love hanging out with you and your followers. I also love being able to write my two favorite things. Romance and my faith. So finding a house where I can do both was fantastic.

Alexis: What is AND FATHER MAKES THREE about?

Kim: I think the blurb says it best.

“Your Daughter Needs You.”
She’s saved countless lives, yet there’s one person emergency room doctor Elizabeth Randall can’t rescue—her adopted daughter, Jordan. Perhaps meeting her biological father, Blake Crawford, will be the lifeline Jordan needs. The handsome, guarded firefighter takes risks every day. But facing the daughter he never knew—along with lovely Elizabeth—has him thinking about family. With fatherhood thrust suddenly upon him, there’s no way he can turn his back on his sick child. Will working together to give Jordan a second chance at life also lead them to a second chance at love?

Alexis: This sounds wonderful! Where did you get the idea for this story?

Kim: I'd brainstormed the idea with my critique group while finishing up ON WINGS OF LOVE. I also had a friend diagnosed with Large Cell B non-hodgkins Lymphoma and needed to have a bone marrow transplant to put her cancer into remission.  So I started doing the research and FATHER MAKES THREE  was born. In my friend's honor, I have dedicated this book to her. Today she is in remission and living life to the fullest.

Alexis: I'm so glad to hear that :-) What are your favorite character traits of Elizabeth and Blake?

Kim: Elizabeth never gave up the faith that they would find a cure for Jordan. Even during her lowest moments, she believed that her daughter would get well. Having to deal with her biological father though wasn't something she expected. As for Blake, he never thought he'd be father material, but given the chance he did all right. He didn't let his past dictate his future.

Alexis: Now there's a man readers can admire. This is your third book for the Love Inspired Line. What kind of writing routine do you have . . . or do you?

Kim: Well, I work a full time job so I get up really early in the morning, usually around 4:30. I answer e-mails and do some on-line social marketing and stuff and then get down the writing. I quit around 6 to walk with my neighbor and then make sure the kids get ready for school and I get ready for work.

Alexis: Wow, you get a lot done in the morning! I'm a morning person too, but usually I'm writing at 1:00am :-} What can we expect next from you? Do you have any new releases coming or a work in progress?

Kim:  Good question. I just turned in another proposal to my editor with the working title A Christmas Angel, so I'll have to keep you posted. I've also put my backlist up on Amazon and Barnes & Noble so you can look for some of my romances there. Amazon also just bought my first publisher so STAKE YOUR CLAIM will be available soon in e-book format.

Alexis: That's great! I know when I discover a great writer like you, I like to find all the books they've written and catch-up :-)

Thank you so much for sharing your stories with us. It's always a pleasure having you visit.

Kim:  My pleasure. Of course, now if I could visit your island paradise for real.........:)

Alexis: I promise to keep posting photos so you can you feel like you have :-)

For a chance to win Kim's AND FATHER MAKES THREE, be sure to leave a comment for her. If I have contact information, I will let you know when you win, otherwise, check the side column for your name on Wednesday under WINNERS (below the blog hop).

For more information on Kim's books, go to

Alexis: Check out this excerpt from AND FATHER MAKES THREE.
"Dr. Randall? Dr. Elizabeth Randall?" Pulling her focus from the patient chart in front of her, Elizabeth Randall snapped her attention to the tall man next to her. Anger simmered beneath her calm facade as she took in his brown hair and strong jawline covered with a hint of a five o'clock shadow. Under any other circumstances, she might have found the stranger attractive. Not now.

"Yes. I was wondering when you'd get here."

It was about time someone from Child Protective Services showed up. Mario Martinez-Alvarez had been at Agnes P. Kingfisher Memorial Hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona, just under two hours waiting for a caseworker to appear. The child's black eye and broken ribs had not been caused by a simple fall from a high chair. Mario's stepfather had been taken into custody and the mother had yet to be found.

Unlike some, Mario would recover, but each time a young innocent victim came through the hospital doors, her heart broke at the injustice. Children were precious. A gift from God that some people took for granted.

Not Elizabeth. Her fingers tightened on the pen in her hand until it became painful.

"Excuse me? You know why I'm here?"

"Of course. The boy has been transferred upstairs. Dr. Harris is his attending now." After signing her name, Elizabeth closed the chart and turned slightly so she could rest against the nurses' station. She took in the man's casual clothing—a dark blue Phoenix Fire Department T-shirt and jeans. In all her experience with CPS caseworkers, she'd yet to come across one dressed so casually, who didn't carry a briefcase or at least a notebook or day planner of some sort.

Maybe she'd been hasty in her assessment. "You are with CPS, aren't you?"

Uncertainty clouded his blue eyes as he shifted his weight. "No, I work for the City of Phoenix Fire Department."

"Oh. Sorry." Elizabeth softened her tone, feeling guilty for letting her bad day affect her work. It wasn't his fault her adopted daughter, Jordan, had developed another infection at her IV site. Crossing her arms, she gave the man her full attention. Concern furrowed the lightly tanned skin on his forehead. "How may I help you then, Mr….?"

"Blake Crawford. Blake William Crawford."

He spoke his name as if she should know him. He looked vaguely familiar now. If he worked for the fire department, it was quite possible she'd seen him bring in a patient or two, but they'd never been formally introduced. She'd remember meeting someone like him.

She grasped his extended hand, surprised to feel a slight connection. She shook it off as fatigue.

"Dr. Elizabeth Randall. But you knew that. I'm afraid I'm at a disadvantage here."

"I need to talk to you about my daughter."

"Your daughter?" No female children had been brought into the E.R. today and she'd already met the fathers of the few who had come in over the past week. None of them were Blake Crawford. "I don't believe I've met your daughter. When was she brought in?"

"She wasn't."

"Then I'm afraid I can't help you. Have you spoken to her pediatrician?"

"I have no idea who her pediatrician is. She doesn't live with me." He ran a hand through his short, cropped hair as his gaze darted around the area before it returned to her. "She's with you."

Alexis: Don't forget, for a chance to win this wonderful story, leave a comment for Kim :-)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


For those of you have been following my reviews, I tend to only write reviews on books that I felt were well written and kept me interested.  Fifty Shades of Grey has had so much publicity and people who don’t typically read romance, including men, have heard of the novel, so I decided to read it and review it no matter what I concluded.

Anastasia Steele graduates from a Washington college, fresh into the work world and a virgin in the sexual world.  The first man she meets, Christian Grey a billionaire, through a final project for school decides to claim her.

Christian wants Ana to sign a contract as his submissive.  This means she must do whatever he wants sexually as he’s the dominant. 

Ana falls in love with Christian, yet he doesn’t seem to reciprocate more than many sexual acts minus the emotion. 

I became intrigued with E L James’ novel at the point of Christian offering Ana the contract and wondered how she would react. 

After further reading, I felt a subplot or two would have moved the story deeper.  The conflict remained stagnant as it didn’t shift in intensity at any point as Ana’s reaction to the different sexual escapades mirrored one another.

I did enjoy E L James variation in word choice and the ending leads you directly to the next novel - Fifty Shades of Grey is the first of a trilogy.  E L James is commendable in her ability to market her work, originally self-published, to create growing interest and have her work currently retained by Random House. 

I’ve talked with many who’ve also read the novel and have heard everything from “boring” to “I devoured all three novels.”  Guess you’ll have to read it for yourself :-)