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Life On Her Own Terms

Stella Jayne Phillips
Stella Jayne Phillips Author Interview

Sweet Dreams at The Palace Hotel follows a woman who leaves her dreams behind to run a historic hotel and finds the live-in ghost a welcome presence in her life. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The women in my family have embraced reinventing themselves when life knocked them down. Knowing their stories helped me regroup and reinvent myself when I felt beaten. In creating Nikki, who needed a fresh start, I wanted to give her a model, Victoria Wyatt, of someone who started over, created a life on her own terms and loved without restriction. Making Victoria a resident ghost “reliving” life’s important moments was inspired by my interest in ghost stories from Arizona towns.

Nikki is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character’s development?

Nikki holds herself accountable for her own happiness. She accepts responsibility for choosing a life that will make her happy and investing herself in making it happen. She invites others into her world, celebrates their success and commiserates with their grief. Nikki is the friend or relative we all wish for, the one who provides emotional support without providing unasked for advice. She’s imperfect enough to be approachable and she believes in the power of friendship and love to change the world.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The everlasting quality of love. The value of friendship. The quality of family, either by blood or choice.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The third book in the Creekside Dreams series was just submitted to my publisher. Promise in a Dream, the second book in the series was released November 2020.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Nikki Benton crossed the threshold of the historic Palace Hotel, leaving her shattered dreams behind. Determined to follow in the footsteps of the hotel’s original owner, she puts her heart into creating an intimate lodging experience while becoming an integral part of the community. So what if she takes lessons on embracing life? And does it truly matter that her teacher, Mrs. Victoria Wyatt, is the hotel’s live-in ghost?

The Reasons I Enjoy Writing Romance

Liz Crowe
Liz Crowe Author Interview

Numbers Game follows a football coach who’s relationship with a reporter turns into something deep and changes the direction of both their lives. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I love stories about athletes, having raised one of them and seen first hand how hard it is to truly achieve those sorts of goals. In fact, all three of my kids played sports of some kind or another in high school and I was always involved somehow — running the concession stand at football and soccer games, helping raise money as a booster, and of course driving to endless practices and attending games all over the U.S. that were necessary to get my youngest to her spot on a Division 1 Big Ten women’s soccer team. We lived in Ann Arbor at the time, and my kids’ school was located directly across the street from The Big House, where Michigan plays football. The town was utterly consumed by football on Saturdays in the fall and that sort of atmosphere was exhilarating to those of use who are sports fans (even if we weren’t Michigan fans per se, we did love living there on football weekends.) I got to meet both Harbaugh brothers (Jim is the Michigan coach) in 2016 when I helped run a fundraising auction and dinner for the high school’s athletic program that we invited them both to attend. It was a rush and meeting one of my favorite pro coaches (John, coach of the Ravens) was a highlight for me.

Desiree is an alum of the University of Michigan and we always made a point to meet up when she’d come to town from Florida to attend a game. I made sure to get her a signed commemorative football from our event and she keeps it on her inspiration shelf in her office. We’re both football fans, and we concocted our fictional Michigan football town with Ann Arbor in mind, without a doubt (even though I cheered for Michigan State …women’s soccer, anyway)!

Hatch and Olivia were intriguing and well developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind the development of their relationship?

We divided up the tasks of writing in their POVs. I wrote Hatch’s and Desiree wrote Olivia’s. It took us almost 2 years to complete this book since we started it as a romantic suspense but it kept turning in a more contemporary, second chances style story the more we wrote. We wanted our characters to both be older than the usual romance standards, both divorced, and having seen the puppet strings behind a marriage, somewhat disinclined to repeat that process. They are laser focused on the goals they’ve set for themselves: Hatch bringing his alma mater’s program back to prominence while leaving his gambling issues behind him. Olivia emerging from a bad marriage and re-capturing her mojo as a sports journalist. But one of the reasons I enjoy writing romance novels is the creation of characters on seemingly separate trajectories that end up colliding, and then what? It’s the “then what” that allows me to show them as people with real emotions, making mistakes, and ultimately recovering and finding happiness.

What was the writing collaboration like with author Desiree Holt?

It was a fun and learning experience. We’ve been published about the same amount of years, but Desires has a lot more books out than I do, as I’ve been working around days jobs while writing. What was amazing and satisfying to me was how well we meshed–keeping egos and pre-conceived notions about how the book should flow out of our equation.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am working on several things at the moment, but the next book I’m releasing is the final book in a best selling series (Stewart Realty) also set in Michigan. It’s the second generation’s turn to have their happily ever after, and so BACKUP OFFER is a book that is a “ten years later” look at a relationship that fell apart in book 8 — for good, self-care sorts of reasons — and how everything comes back full circle in a mature, gratifying way for the couple in question, as well as for their friend and family. I think “second chance” stories are among my favorite to read and write. My characters are (sometimes too) fallible. They make mistakes, do dumb, human things. But I always redeem them.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | BookBub | Amazon | GoodReads | Website


Former professional football player and coach Duncan “Hatch” Hatcher fumbled his career and marriage. Now divorced and ready to tackle his future, he has an opportunity to redeem himself as coach of his college alma mater’s football team. But how can he turn the team’s losing streak around and keep the secret of his downfall buried when the school agrees to a documentary that will allow a lovely journalist to dig her way into his past…and into his heart?

Olivia Grant’s ex-husband almost wrecked her journalism career while he definitely did a number on her self-esteem. The documentary on Duncan Hatcher is the perfect way to rebuild both. As a freshman in college, she’d had a crush on the senior football hero, but he hadn’t known she existed. She never expects the sparks that fly between them as they work on the project nor the struggles they must face if they both want to win.

Tides Beneath Unshattered Love: SHIMMER OVER DARKNESS

L.C. RENIE Author of Tides Beneath Unshattered Love PARIS… Present Tides Beneath Unshattered Love Series


Dr. Alexandria Belmont survived danger once. Can she survive what lies ahead?

Alexandria has settled into a safe zone. Nothing can touch her now. But just as she puts the past behind her, a stunning revelation threatens her new puppy.

Trevi has been kidnapped, but that’s not the worst of it. With no ransom demands and no clue as to his whereabouts, the race is on to find him before her fragile state of mind suffers another devastating blow.

Samantha, will take the helm, but where the clues lead may expose them to more danger than they’ve ever faced.

Alessio will do anything to keep Alexandria safe from harm, but his brand of protection comes with dire consequences.

Will the search for Trevi break Alexandria or will her unrelenting faith see her through?

Tides Beneath Unshattered Love




Red Thread of Fate

Red Thread of Fate by [Woo Ae Yi]

The Red Thread of Fate by Woo Ae Yi is a fiction story following a half-Black half-Korean woman named Zarah, who was adopted by a white father. She is a victim of emotional abuse but can’t seem to break away from her white boyfriend, Perez (aka Threat). When she gets a new job, she meets a man forty years older than her. But despite their age difference, she feels drawn to Yue Lao, a Chinese man who fought in the Vietnam War. After she finally ends her four year relationship with Perez, she moves away from Indiana to another State. But she remains in contact with both men. Will she ever be able to cut ties with the people who are connected to her by the red thread of fate?

Red Thread of Fate has an intriguing concept, and it was interesting to see how the author wove it into this story, which is intended as a cautionary tale. So much of our future is affected by things that happen to us in our past, and it is hard to overcome this without allowing ourselves to be pulled back in by previous self-destructive patterns. Despite the darker elements of the story, there were some humorous moments, which I enjoyed. I also liked that there were poems interspersed throughout the story. I enjoyed reading them, and they helped to provide additional insights into the characters and events.

While I thought this was a compelling and emotionally-charged novel, I thought the writing was hard to follow at times because, in the beginning, the book didn’t follow chronological order and included flashbacks that didn’t seem relevant to the chapter. Things seemed to be a string of random incidents rather than a story with a strong central plot with a smooth flow.

Author Woo Ae Yi has given readers a provocative romance novel that provides thought-provoking commentary on relationships and how they change and affect us. Red Thread of Fate is an intriguing romance novel with an alluring character and some emotionally resonant moments.

Pages: 171 | ASIN: B092M9QMWP

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Sundays at Simone’s

Sundays at Simone's by [Thomas Bauer]

Sundays at Simone’s by Thomas Bauer is set in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas about a young man named Michael McDowell. As a young boy, his parents were killed in a car accident and he was adopted by his Aunt Madeleine. His aunt’s best friend was Sheila, an unsophisticated woman who was often down on her luck. Years later, Sheila has transformed herself into Simone, a wealthy and glamorous woman who married well. Every Sunday, Simone hosts exclusive gatherings modeled after 19th century salons, where the elite would come to enjoy art and music and discuss the issues of the day. Michael is barely making a living as a piano player at an Italian restaurant. What will happen after he is invited to Sundays at Simone’s?

Author Thomas Bauer provides readers with a refreshing character driven story that is easily enjoyable. I especially liked reading the sections of the story where Michael worked in the music department for the movie studio. It was interesting to get a glimpse into that behind the scenes aspect of making a film. I also liked learning how all the characters’ lives turned out, some succeeding and others suffering failures. The ending of the book had some unexpected elements.

The novel blends contemporary urban fantasy with sultry drama where we find an adulterous affair between Simone and Michael. She was married and he had a girlfriend that he claimed to love, but that did not ring true given his actions. I enjoyed the second half of the novel a lot more than the first half, which I think is attributed to being introduced to characters in the beginning, some of them not being likable, and afterwards seeing them evolve was much more interesting. They were all people who seemed to only care about their own interests and used others to get ahead without a thought for how their actions affected anyone else.

The story is told from the first person point of view of Michael, which gives readers a inside look at his motivations and ruminations, which provides more context for his actions, but it’s still left up to the reader to decide what was right and wrong. I was able to empathize with the characters and was emotionally involved in this riveting story.

Sundays at Simone’s is an emotional dramatic fiction story following the lives of stirring characters as they make decisions that change their life and affect the lives of others. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading light but intriguing romance novels.

Pages: 258 | ASIN: B08WRS1STV

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Destiny Love Jones Volume 1. “Sisters and the Plight with Boys,”

DESTINY LOVE JONES VOL 1. "sisters and the plight with boys" by [N. R. White]

Destiny Love Jones Volume 1. “Sisters and the Plight with Boys,”  by N. R. White takes place in the classic ’40s setting and follows three friends Pearl, Augustine, and Holly who carry a whole load of tricks up their sleeves. The three friends have to be cunning in their dealings to help them handle the harsh reality of segregation and black oppression among other political factors during the time. They stick together and their belief in the power of sisterhood helps them fight through some tough obstacles together. But when the girls turn into women they face a whole new set of obstacles in the form of dating and men. Their unique sisterhood bond is once again portrayed in another set of friends Destiny, Olivia, and Tiffany almost half a decade later who face the same challenges as was the case with Pearl and her friends. The stories of each set show the struggle that a young black woman would face in both 1940’s and in contemporary society.

Author N.R. White uses comparison effectively to explain the challenges that young black girls face throughout their lives. She uses fantasy to tell an engaging story that still reflects on the realities of modern society. The smooth transitions within the story helps the reader understand the constant challenges that black women have been facing throughout the 20th century.

The themes of loyalty, friendship, resilience, and sisterhood are embedded throughout this impassioned novel. They are all portrayed in realistic and interesting ways within the story. The plot is filled with endless challenges that the characters face throughout the book, making a story that is both riveting and thought-provoking. I also love how author N.R. White uplifts women and shows the strength within despite the oppression women have been facing across centuries. The characters show a resilience that is both heartening and memorable.

Destiny Love Jones Volume 1. “Sisters and the Plight with Boys,” by N. R. White is an emotionally-charged urban fantasy novel that that knows how to build up intriguing characters and make readers empathize with them.

Pages: 519 | ASIN: B08WHD1MJX

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Madam Vice President

Madam Vice President by [Julian Mann]

Madam Vice President by Julian Mann is an exciting story about Victoria Pierce, a very ambitious girl who flees her home in Oklahoma, escaping her strict parents, and moves to San Francisco where she enlists in the United States Marine Corps. She is very patient and determined, persevering and works her way up the ranks till she becomes the Brigadier General.

She gets into a dreaded love affair with the United States Senator Sam Eagan throughout her career development phase and they manage to keep it a rendezvous from everyone except one anonymous stalker. She goes ahead and joins politics where she befriends Grace Brandon who gets suspicious of Victoria’s past and poses a threat that could change Victoria’s future in politics when she is elected president.

Author Julian Mann bases this riveting story on real-life situations that are based on a real 25th amendment law that raised his concern. He uses his writing to connect with a larger audience and the vivid way the story is written makes it more relatable to readers. The flow of events creates suspense at the end of each chapter; this made it very hard for me to pick a place to set the book down. The story is filled with rich, believable, dialogue that feels engaging throughout this novel; which is important because this is a character focused drama.

The fact that the author has managed to write the book in an agrarian setting and still bring out women empowerment throughout the growth of Victoria’s career increases the book’s appeal (at least to me it does) and is a role model for strong female protagonists.

The friendship between Victoria and Grace would have been a good one if not for Grace’s envy which sparks curiosity, raising eyebrows that make her poke into Victoria’s past. Despite the bad decisions she made, the young Vera Ochman still fights against all odds to become successful.

Madam Vice President by Julian Mann has a seemingly endless flow of intriguing events that ratchets up the suspense in this dramatic political fiction novel. I think this novel will appeal to anyone looking for an engrossing political thriller that knows how to build compelling characters.

Pages: 297 | ASIN: B08TK9GM3H

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Delightful and Endlessly Funny

Linda Sheehan Author Interview

Decanted follows a vivacious young woman as she learns making wine and the perils of love. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

My daughter, the delightful and endlessly funny Samantha Sheehan, who created and produces Poe Wines Pinot Noir, Ultraviolet Cabernet, and a 95 point organic vermouth under the MOMMENPOP label is my total inspiration for Decanted. Like the novel’s heroine Samantha Goodyear, my daughter quit her job at a big five accounting firm to go to France to learn everything she could about making wine. Like the main character in Decanted, she then moved to Napa and took a bookkeeping job at a winery before launching her own wine brand that’s sold across the US and in many countries around the world.

Samantha is a compelling character that was fun to follow. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

I wanted to draw my main character as a young woman who, though she’s a total product of modern times, has a tremendous love and respect for those who came before her. Samantha also has a tremendous work ethic, and never veers from her quest to achieve her dreams.

Wine making and wine culture were intriguing parts of this novel. Why was this an important aspect for you to include in the story?

Many people would like to understand more about wine culture and the winemaking process but don’t know where to begin. My goal in writing the book was to seamlessly give readers a fun wine education and illustrate what separates a great wine that reflects what nature intended from a tricked up brand with ingredients and flavors added by the big corporate wineries to sell the most bottles possible.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next book is my novel Fore Play, a comedy set at a Los Angeles country club that will be available this coming summer.

Author Links: Facebook | Website

Decanted eimage.jpg

From author Linda Sheehan, who’s part of a Napa wine dynasty, comes a story of grapes, wine, first crushes, and juicy redemption. Dreading the desk job that awaits her after high school, eighteen- year-old Vivian Goodyear takes off for pre- World War ll Paris, where she supports herself as an artist’s model.

Flash forward to modern day Manhattan where, inspired by Vivian’s courage, her grand-niece Samantha leaves her pressure cooker career to work the grape harvest in France. There, between picking grapes in the vineyard and crushing them in the cellar, she gets lessons in the art of making wine and in the art of making love. But when her world is turned upside down, a link from Aunt Vivian’s past could right it in a tale of being on top, sinking to the bottom, and coming up for glorious air.

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