Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for December 2014

Why Leelah Alcorn’s Suicide Matters

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Only rarely do I find it necessary to talk about a previously unknown individual’s suicide, but the death of Leelah Alcorn (born Joshua Ryan Alcorn), 17, has touched me deeply.

Leelah, you see, was transgendered. Apparently her parents, especially her mother, did not like this. At all.

And that is upsetting, for more than one reason. Parents should love their children as they are, not as they want them to be –whether someone is heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or transgendered, that person deserves to be loved by his/her parents. Period.

Unfortunately, Leelah Alcorn did not feel that love. And because of that, she committed suicide.

Why has her death touched me? Partly because of her suicide note on Tumblr, which I’ll get to in a bit. Partly because she was a human being who obviously felt she’d be better off dead. And partly because one of my novels, the forthcoming CHANGING FACES, discusses transgenderism in an unusual way, so I’ve at least considered the issue before.

Here’s some of Leelah’s own words in her suicide note, published posthumously (her words were as she wrote them, but I did bold one section for emphasis on my own):

When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong. If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this to your kids. Even if you are Christian or are against transgender people don’t ever say that to someone, especially your kid. That won’t do anything but make them hate them self. That’s exactly what it did to me.

My mom started taking me to a therapist, but would only take me to christian therapists, (who were all very biased) so I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression. I only got more christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.

When I was 16 I realized that my parents would never come around, and that I would have to wait until I was 18 to start any sort of transitioning treatment, which absolutely broke my heart. The longer you wait, the harder it is to transition. I felt hopeless, that I was just going to look like a man in drag for the rest of my life. On my 16th birthday, when I didn’t receive consent from my parents to start transitioning, I cried myself to sleep.

Ultimately, Leelah Alcorn believed that she would never be happy in this world. Because she couldn’t start transitioning, because she was continually called “Josh” or “Joshua” when she already knew she was Leelah inside, because her parents believed that “good Christian values” meant that she should be happy as God (monotheistic, male) made her — as a male, not as a female — Leelah Alcorn took her own life.

This young woman knew in her heart that she was female, just as I’ve always known my entire life that I, too, am female. The only difference between me and Leelah is that I was born female. I never had to fight to become who I was in that regard (fight in other ways, yes, as we all do to become ourselves). And I never had to worry about saving enough money to start the transitioning process, or any of the other things Leelah was obviously worried about in her suicide note.

This is a heartbreaking story, one of the most heartbreaking I’ve ever read. Leelah clearly believed nothing she would ever do was right in her parents’ eyes, and she clearly believed that not being able to transition until age 18 or later (after she’d saved up enough money) would make it impossible for her to find love.

What bothers me most here is that she obviously didn’t know some of the stories I do from pop culture. The role model here that strikes me the most is Chaz (born Chastity) Bono, because he came out to his parents as lesbian early on, but only came out as transgendered (and male) much later. So why didn’t Leelah know the entirety of Chaz’s story? (My guess is that Leelah only had seen Chaz’s “It Gets Better” commercial and maybe one of his dances with pro dancer Lacey Schwimmer on Dancing with the Stars and that’s about it. But it’s only a guess.) Why didn’t Leelah know about Christine Jorgenson, born George? Why didn’t Leelah know about transsexual tennis star and ophthalmologist Renee Richards?

All of them — all — transitioned to their proper sex later than age 18. And all did so successfully. All found at least a few lovers and friends who accepted them. And all of them, eventually, found their faith — whether it was in themselves or in God/dess is immaterial.

Leelah Alcorn did not have to die. She did not have to feel like a failure to her parents. She did not have to believe she’d be “Satan’s Wifey” (the original name of her blog on Tumblr, though apparently later she changed it to Lazer Princess) by dying and declaring exactly who and what she was.

She did not have to feel unloved, unwanted, bereft of hope and friends.

And for those who dismiss this as a typical teen suicide story and believe she would’ve grown out of it — well, you’re probably right, but how does that change anything?

A young woman is dead today at least in part because her parents apparently would not accept her for who she was. Her friends were not strong enough to accept her, either. And she, herself, was ultimately not strong enough to stand up to years of unrelenting criticism from her parents, so-called friends, and idiotic “therapists.”

Somehow, as Leelah Alcorn herself said, we must do better than this. No more LGBT youth should be treated this way. Ever.

Lest we have even more heartbreaking stories like this.

New Interview (Mine) at Ally Shields’ Blog Is Up…

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Folks, I wanted to let you know that urban fantasy author Ally Shields invited me over to her blog today and interviewed me…and the interview has been posted. It’s a conversational interview — hence the name, “Coffee Chat” — and I enjoyed being interviewed by Ally immensely.

Please be sure to check out this interview, as Ally asked me some extremely interesting and relevant questions that I hadn’t been asked before. She’s an urban fantasy author herself, so one of her questions was about what attracted me to the paranormal/UF genre — and I told her that, along with many other interesting things.

For some reason, I’m having trouble cutting and pasting from that interview, so you’re going to have to go directly there and read it for yourself.

Thanks again, Ally, for having me over for a Coffee Chat.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 31, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Please Remember Those Who Grieve During the Holidays

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Happy holidays, folks!

Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Yule, Kwanzaa, or as more often is the case in the United States, Christmas, I hope you are celebrating the holidays as you see fit.

But I’d like to ask for a moment of your time amidst the merriment, because I want you to please remember those who grieve during the holidays. For those who’ve lost loved ones, whether they’re beloved spouses, parents, siblings, or friends, this time of year can be brutal.

We miss our loved ones so fiercely, you see. We want to talk about them. We want to remember what they said, what they did, how they laughed, and how they enjoyed the holidays because their lives mattered. Their vital, bright spirits were here for a reason, and they loved us…but now, they’re gone.

But never forgotten.

I’m not sure why it is, but in American society, many people don’t seem to know what to say to a widow. Or to someone who’s missing her father. Mother. Brother. Cousin. Special friend.

And when those important people are left out of the conversation, those who are missing their lost loved ones feel even more bereft than before.

God/dess is love, I firmly believe. And part of that love is to be kind to those who grieve, especially at this time of the year — and most especially with people who are enduring their first major holiday without their beloved family member(s) or friend(s).

So while you enjoy the holidays — and you should — please remember those who grieve. Talk with them about their loved ones, and what you remember about them. Make a point to say to them that you care, that you haven’t forgotten, either, and that it’s important to remember the love they shared with us.

Because it helps. (Really.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 24, 2014 at 4:47 am

Craig Wayne Boyd, Persistence…and You

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Folks, it’s no secret that I am a fan of Southern country/rock singer Craig Wayne Boyd. His time on NBC’s The Voice was in some ways magical, especially considering his eleven-year odyssey in the music business. And that he made it all the way to the end, and then actually won The Voice, was just that much more special.

What I found in Craig Wayne Boyd’s story were a number of things. Persistence. Faith, not only in a higher power, but in himself and his talent. And the drive to succeed against all odds.

Consider, please, that Mr. Boyd has said in several televised interviews that he considered quitting music altogether not too long before he auditioned for The Voice. And he knocked around Nashville and the touring circuits for eleven long years, singing his heart out, with talent and drive and dedication — but all of that garnered him very little.

Or so it seemed at the time.

Because in retrospect, what Mr. Boyd was learning all that time was to have faith in himself and his talent. He was also learning to perform, and the limits of what he could do and what he could — and couldn’t — control.

This is something we all need to learn. Because like Craig Wayne Boyd, we cannot control what other people do. We can’t control who will take notice of us, who will show up at our gigs, who will buy our books and/or recordings, or who will care about what we’re doing.

All we can control is what we do and how we do it. That’s all.

And that’s why being persistent is so very, very important. You don’t know when the next audition you do will result in a major breakthrough (as was the case for Craig Wayne Boyd). You don’t know when someone will read what you’re writing and decide it’s wonderful and tell all his friends, because you don’t know when your big break will come.

The only thing you do know is this: Once you stop trying, you have absolutely no chance of doing whatever it is you want to do.

That’s why I’ve said over and over again that you cannot and should not give up. Because you don’t know what’s around the corner…for all you know, it might just be your big break.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 22, 2014 at 5:35 am

Vinny Rottino News and Speculation

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Folks, I’m editing up a storm and working on a few book reviews right now, but as it’s been a while since my last Vinny Rottino update, I thought it was time for another one.

So here’s the one, little factoid I found out about my favorite baseball player, Racine native Vinny Rottino:

He is apparently again a free agent, this courtesy of his Wikipedia page.

I don’t often use Wikipedia as a source, mind you, but I’d gathered by the few articles I’d seen about Korean baseball in the past few months that Rottino wasn’t seeing much action in the latter stages of their season. Further, I know that Rottino’s age (he’ll be 35 next April) is now against him…professional baseball players often have relatively short “shelf-lives.”

That said, every organization Rottino has played for (mostly in the minor leagues) — the Milwaukee Brewers, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Miami Marlins (then the Florida Marlins), the New York Mets, and the Cleveland Indians — talked about the potential Rottino had as either a manager or baseball coach. This is because Rottino has always maximized his ability, and because he’s always been known as a smart, savvy baseball player who did whatever he could to help his team win.

I feel terrible, though, writing all of that down. Because I always felt Rottino had major league-level talent. He didn’t get the right breaks in his career to bring him up to the big leagues for more than a few “cups of coffee” now and again, and eventually was saddled with the reputation of a guy who could hit in AAA ball, but wasn’t able to convert in the majors.

Which wasn’t fair to Rottino, because he never got the opportunity to play every day.

And that bad luck followed him to Japan, and then also to Korea.

Mind, Rottino made a little bit of history earlier in 2014 as he was part of the first “all-American” battery (a pitcher-catcher combo from the U.S.) in Korean baseball. And that is no bad thing.

In addition, there’s nothing saying Rottino won’t catch on as a player somewhere else in 2015. He is a good, solid player who can play nearly every position on the field except pitcher. And he’s smart, driven, a high-quality individual…someone who deserves to succeed, because he’s tried so very hard and he really does have talent.

But time is no longer on Rottino’s side. And the longer you are a professional athlete, the more difficult it is to keep going — your body just won’t let you. (Satchel Paige and Julio Franco excluded.)

I hope for Rottino’s sake that he will have options to play. I don’t think he wants to stop playing. And he still has value as a player to the right team and the right setup — someplace he will have an opportunity to play often at a variety of positions would be ideal.

But if this is the end of the line for Rottino as a baseball player — and again, I don’t know that it is (I only suspect it) — I hope all of those teams he played for earlier in his career weren’t just blowing smoke and that there will be opportunities for him to continue in baseball, this time as either a manager or a coach.

Rottino has all the tools needed to succeed no matter what he does next, mind. He has heart. Drive. Dedication. Knowledge, both of baseball and of life. Faith, not just in the Man Upstairs, but in himself and his abilities. And he is demonstrably persistent.

Yes, one thing is clear, no matter what happens next:

Vinny Rottino is a winner.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 19, 2014 at 4:31 am

Before I forget…

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Today was a day for mentions at other well-read blogs, folks. And as I’ve already mentioned my appearance at Joan Reeves’ Sling Words, I figured I’d best get over here and mention the other wonderful blog that mentioned me — and my book AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE — today.

That blog is Cheryllynn Dyess’s “CDyess Writes,” and she featured me and AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE in her “50 Days of Indie” promotion. She and I know each other because of belonging to the Fantasy and Science Fiction Network…or #FSFNet for short, if you’re using Twitter hashtags.

Cheryllynn was kind enough to let people know about my novel AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, and I truly appreciate that. FSFN highlights novels that do not exceed a PG-13 rating, and AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE assuredly qualifies as there’s no sex, little cursing, but much rousing action and a whole lot of funny moments along with some age-appropriate romance between Bruno my “teenage” Elfy hero and his love interest, the short but very human teenager, Sarah.

Please take a look at her blog, and check out some of the other wonderful authors she’s featured in her “50 Days of Indie,” including Kasper Beaumont, Leeland Artra and Kia Carrington.

And thank you so much again, Cheryllynn, for your willingness to spread the word about me and my writing!

Edited to add: By the way, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE remains at ninety-nine cents, but it won’t stay that way for long. (Just sayin’.) That’s the only thing Cheryllynn didn’t know about, as the regular price is $3.99 (as she stated), and the original plan was to raise the price back up before this point.

But since it’s still at just ninety-nine cents, why not take a chance?

I mean, really. Where else are you going to get a full-length, action-packed and very funny urban fantasy for less than the price of a latte?

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 17, 2014 at 8:59 pm

Check Out Today’s SlingWords “Christmas Past” Blog…Featuring 12 Great Authors (Including Me)

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Folks, author Joan Reeves has been generous enough to share space on her blog, SlingWords, for a “Christmas Past Promotion.”

What does that mean? Ms. Reeves asked for a link to a book of our choosing (for me, it’s obviously AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE as that’s my only book thus far) and for a past Christmas memory.

Please check out the promotion at SlingWords forthwith, as there should be any number of interesting writers for you to “meet,” not to mention finding new books that interest you — just in time for Christmas!

In case you were wondering, though, here’s my Christmas memory:

In 2001, I was talking with an interesting man named Michael on Christmas Eve. We’d known each other about six months, had been introduced by a mutual friend — and you’d think nothing of this, except this was a long-distance relationship where we’d only met each other once due to him living in San Francisco and me in Iowa.

Anyway, Michael and I were talking. It was Christmas Eve. My family was far away, and his was, too…so we talked and talked and talked, and didn’t care about how much money it cost because hey, it was Christmas Eve. Before we knew it, we’d talked for nearly thirty-six hours in a row about everything under the sun. And at the end of that time, he told me, “I hope we can consider ourselves dating now.”

That was the beginning of my romance with the love of my life, my late husband, Michael B. Caffrey. It is the most precious memory I have…and it happened on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, 2001.

(Yes, miracles truly do happen.)

For those of you with sharp eyes, yes, I’ve talked about this before, most notably at Murder By 4 in my guest blog last year. It is one of the most precious memories I have, and it did indeed happen at Christmas.

As I’ve said here many times, without Michael, I doubt I would’ve written AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE. I doubt I’d have finished CHANGING FACES (coming in 2015 from Twilight Times Books), either, and I certainly wouldn’t have written any military science fiction at all, whether it was to finish Michael’s stories or not.

Sometimes, one person can make a huge difference in someone’s life. Michael B. Caffrey obviously made a huge difference in mine (please check out my prior blog about Michael’s transformational life if you don’t believe me). He was encouraging, kind, knowledgeable, a skilled editor, and knew how to structure a novel. Between learning from him and working on my craft since, I’ve become a better writer, a better editor, and a far better person.

It is because I took a chance on Christmas Eve back in 2001 that I met and married the most wonderful person I have ever known — Michael B. Caffrey.

Thank you, Joan Reeves, for giving me the chance to spread the word about my work…and more importantly, about my husband.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 17, 2014 at 1:33 am

“The Voice” Finals Are Tonight — Who Will Win, and Why?

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Folks, NBC’s The Voice has reached its final round, and has only four singers left. Three of them — Damien, Chris Jamison, and Matt McAndrew — are coached by Adam Levine, while the final contestant, Craig Wayne Boyd, is coached by Blake Shelton.

All four men are outstanding singers in their own, distinct ways, but at the end of this competition, only one will win The Voice and a recording contract. Who will it be, and why?

In alphabetical order:

  • Craig Wayne Boyd has impressed me from the start and has given excellent performances throughout. He is a country singer with a wide range, a big baritone voice, and has worked hard to get to this point. I’ve enjoyed everything he’s sung thus far…his voice is instantly recognizable, and whether or not he wins The Voice, he should be a huge star in country music for years to come.
  • Damien, the winner of the wild card round, has a velvety smooth voice and is at his best when singing something down-tempo and bluesy. Damien’s impressed me several times due to his emotional, impassioned singing, and is someone I’d definitely enjoy hearing in person. Like Craig Wayne Boyd, Damien has paid his dues and spent much time trying to break into the music scene.
  • Chris Jamison has come on strong toward the end of the competition. He has a voice with an interesting quality to it that has impressed all four judges. He’s an energetic, engaging performer, and the teenyboppers seem to be wild for him.
  • Matt McAndrew has been consistently strong throughout The Voice, and is perhaps the odds-on favorite to win this competition (and the recording contract, too). (This article shows the depth of Matt’s commitment, exactly how difficult it is to be a contestant on The Voice, and may give additional insight for fans of all four singers.)

Edited to add: Monday night’s Voice Finals featured duets (Adam Levine with Chris, Matt and Damien; Blake with Craig) and two singles, one an original song. The other groups and singers I’d originally referenced (Hozier, Lynryd Skynryd, Bruno Mars and Jennifer Hudson) are all taking part in the finale. It’s my best guess as to who is singing with whom…I suppose we’ll all find out on Tuesday!

Now, back to the original post.

Who should win The Voice? Either Matt McAndrew or Craig Wayne Boyd. Anything else would be a major upset.

Who will win?

All four men. Because it should help all four jump-start their music careers, whether they walk off with the recording contract and the money or not.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 15, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Exquisite Quills Holiday Anthology is now up at BN — and It’s Still Free

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Folks, I just wanted to let you all know that the Exquisite Quills Holiday Anthology 2014 is now available through Barnes and Noble’s website — and it’s still free.

(Yes. Really.)

So if you have a Nook, and you really want to read my story “Marja’s Victory,” or any of the other wonderful short romances in the anthology, please do…these are short reads, but they are complete in and of themselves.

So go check it out at BN.com, and enjoy!

As for everything else, I should have some posts later this week. Topics include music (my own and others), social justice (or at least the quest for same), the NFL and why I think their unilateral approach to player personal conduct is a mistake, and perhaps a few book reviews up on Friday and Saturday over at Shiny Book Review.

So it’ll be a busy week, but a merry one…yes?

 

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 10, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Sneak Peek Sunday: Exquisite Quills 2014 Holiday Anthology Awaits!

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Folks, my fellow authors included in the Exquisite Quills Holiday Anthology 2014 have whipped up a special treat for something they’re calling “Sneak-peek Sunday.”

Take a look! (Then please, go and download the anthology right now. It’s absolutely free!)

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A Holiday Anthology (Volume Two)

A Collection of Winter Holiday Tales

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Please join us in reading this fantastically diverse FREE collection of stories to warm
your heart while you wait for the kids, the oven to buzz, on a
15-minute break from work, or when you just need to hide for ten minutes
from everyone! Every story is PG,but a few have a hint of zing.

The calendar on the wall says 2014 but the holidays are a magical time where anything is possible when it comes to romance. Prepare to travel through snow or to a tropical setting with a little dash of fantasy sprinkled in to make your holiday reading enjoyable. This heart-warming collection of all new, very short stories is our way of saying happy holidays to you.

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Frankie’s Wish by Jennifer Garcia

“Every night, as my daddy taught me, I kneeled by my bed and said my prayers. But tonight, I wanted to ask for something.
“Now I lay me down to sleep… I pray the Lord my soul to keep. Oh, please bring me a mommy. Amen”

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&

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THE GIFT OF TIME by Rose Anderson

“Rose is a multi-published, award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and discovering interesting things to weave into stories. She lives with her family and small menagerie amid oak groves and prairie in the rolling glacial hills of the upper Midwest.
Possessing an active imagination, she writes everything from children’s stories to historical non-fiction.”

FRANKIE’S WISH by Jennifer Garcia

Jennifer believes in writing love stories that connect families and touch hearts. Her first novel, My Mr. Manny, was released August 2013 and her first novella, In My Mother’s Footsteps, was released July 2013.

A KISS AT MIDNIGHT by Lily Bishop

Lily Bishop lives in South Carolina with her husband and two children. She writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense, and has published two books in the City Lights series, No Strings Attached and Under His Protection. She is working on the third book now.

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER by Dee Ann Palmer

In every age the heart loves, and Dee Ann Palmer’s romances reflect those eras in fantasy, historic, contemporary and futuristic tales. The award winning Palmer is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America and belongs to the Los Angeles chapter of Sisters in Crime.

MARJA’S VICTORY By Barb Caffrey

Barb Caffrey is a writer, editor, book reviewer and musician from the Midwest. She is the author of the humorous urban fantasy/romance AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, and is the co-author of the Adventures of Joey Maverick series (with late husband Michael B. Caffrey).

CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS by Beverley Bateman

Beverley Bateman is a Canadian author of several books who loves traveling, good wine and a mystery. She lives with her husband and two Shiba Inu dogs among vineyards and orchards set in lake country and surrounded by mountains – beaches, swimming and skiing.

GINGERBREAD DREAMS by Victoria Adams

Victoria Adams is a romance writer, dividing her writing between contemporary romance and New Adult contemporary romance. She lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and kitten, Licorice. She likes to study Raqs Sharqi (Egyptian belly dance), garden, and bake.

CHE GELIDA MANINA by M. S. Spencer

Although she has lived or traveled in every continent except Antarctica and Australia (bucket list), M. S. Spencer has spent the last thirty years mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, kayaker, policy wonk, non-profit director and parent. She has two fabulous grown children, and currently divides her time between the Gulf coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine. Ms. Spencer has published nine romantic suspense novels.

ROMANCE VALLEY by Kaye Spencer

Native Coloradoan Kaye Spencer writes romances from her basement hovel in a small, rural town in the far southeastern corner of Colorado—no mountains in sight—just prairie dogs, buffalo grass, and glorious prairie sunsets. While drawn to cowboys and the Old West, all genres are within her story-crafting realm. Retired from a long career in public education that included teaching through a community college outreach program, Kaye is enjoying being a full-time writer and spoiler of grandchildren. Kaye is also afflicted with ACD—Accumulative Cat Disorder—with no cure in sight.

THE CHRISTMAS EVE GIFT by Janis Susan May

Janis Susan May is a seventh-generation Texan and a third-generation wordsmith who writes mysteries as Janis Patterson, romances and other things as Janis Susan May, children’s books as Janis Susan Patterson and scholarly works and non-fiction as J.S.M. Patterson.
Janis and her husband live in Texas with an assortment of rescued furbabies.

TROPICAL CHRISTMAS by Gemma Juliana

GEMMA JULIANA is a multi-published author who lives in an enchanted cottage in north Texas with her handsome hero, teen son and a comical dog. She loves making new friends and hearing from readers. Exotic coffee and chocolate fuel her creativity.

A KISS AND A PROMISE by Lyndi Lamont

Lyndi Lamont is the racy alter ego of author Linda McLaughlin, who writes historical and Regency Romance. Since becoming Lyndi Lamont, she has discovered that writing sexy romance is a license to be naughty, at least between the pages of a book.

A COWBOY’S HOLIDAY by E. Ayers

E. Ayers is a multi-published and best-selling author of western and contemporary romances. Her books are never too sweet or too hot. She writes down the middle.

It is available for FREE at smashwords-icon1

and will be available at Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Kobo.

Last year’s anthology is also available at

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and

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Written by Barb Caffrey

December 7, 2014 at 10:37 pm