Saturday, October 20, 2018

Featured Author - October 2018

Welcome back to the featured author post! This month we'll be taking a look at Valerie Bowman and her upcoming release, Kiss Me At Christmas. 

I've had the pleasure of spending some wonderful quality time with Valerie on a few separate occasions. The last time was in NYC during the Romance Writers of America convention in 2015 where we had a blast, both at the hotel where we were staying as well as out and about in the city. 

Valerie and I having some photo booth fun with the lovely Katharine Ashe

Valerie is a ton of fun and up for pretty much anything, which she proved when the two of us went out for dinner together. The restaurant was Mexican and when we discovered that they served fried grasshoppers...well...we just had to order up a dish :)
What was that like, you might ask? Crunchy with a lemon/lime flavor and not the worst thing I've ever had - escargots and tripe is worse. In my humble opinion.


In 2014 Valerie appeared in season six, episode 18, of Say Yes To The Dress. I wish I could have seen it since I'm sure it must have been fun to watch due to Valerie's wit. This element of her personality has been reflected in all of the books I've ever read by her. She has the ability to not only make you sigh with the pleasure of a perfect romance, but to laugh out loud as well. 

Here's a bit more information about Valerie from her website:

Valerie Bowman’s debut novel was published in 2012. Since then, her books have received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus. She’s been an RT Reviewers’ Choice nominee for Best First Historical Romance and Best Historical Romance Love and Laughter. Two of her books have been nominated for the Kirkus Prize for fiction.
Valerie grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English Language and Literature with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her mini-schnauzers, Huckleberry and Violet. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS.

Now, there's only a little over a week until the release of Kiss Me At Christmas.
Publisher's Weekly says it "sizzles with sensuality," while Kirkus Reviews has dubbed it "delicious and suspenseful." 
So get ready, mark your calendar or pre-order just to make sure you don't forget about this one. It sounds like a wonderful read - one that I'm definitely looking forward to reading this coming holiday season.

A spirited lady facing spinsterhood. A common man with a noble mission. And a surprise that just might be waiting for them under the mistletoe in Kiss Me At Christmas by Valerie Bowman.
Bow Street Runner Daffin Oakleaf abhors Christmas. Carol singing and holiday cheer only remind him of a dark time. When a close friend calls on him for help, Daffin is happy to capitalize on the distraction. But when he learns the lovely Lady Regina is the one in danger, he’s to become bodyguard to the captivating woman...
Regina has one mission: to find a night of passion in the arms of a gentleman. Considered firmly on the shelf, Regina has given up on marriage—but that doesn’t mean she wants to be denied the pleasure married ladies experience. Daffin has long captured her attention…and when a threat calls him to her side, the sparks between them ignite. But how can a hired bodyguard find his way into Regina’s noble heart?

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What's your favorite Valerie Bowman book? Did you see the episode of Say Yes To The Dress that she participated in? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Author advertising - Creating memes using Microsoft Word

As I've touched on before in a previous post, at least half of an author's job is advertising. This means hours of work spent on researching best promotional sites, writing blog posts for tours, setting up newsletters, running FB adds, daily social media posts and a whole lot more.
One of the funnest forms of advertising, I find, is creating memes, because this allows me to be creative and that's something I can appreciate. Now, I don't have expensive art programs, not because I don't know how to use them, but because I don't want to pay for something I don't need. And that's because all the memes I have ever created for my books were made using Microsoft Word. 
Wait. What?
Yup. That's right. All I really need is one program. Plus the standard Paint program that comes with windows computers. I use this to crop my images and convert them to jpeg files.

Consider the image below as an example:

The first thing I did, was create the 3D book image. You can do this HERE for free.
Now, create a new Word document, select the insert tab and click on shapes. Choose the rectangle and size it to a perfect square since this format works well for Instagram as well. Simply hold down the shift key while resizing.
Once this is done, select the square, go to format, and pick the fill color and outline color you want. Play around with the outline width until you're happy with the way it looks.
Next, it's time to add some text. Go back to insert and select text box. The meme above contains three of these because this makes it easier to control the placement of different text fonts and sizes. The first is Sophie Barnes, the Second is No Ordinary Duke and the third is the quote. 
The quote part had to be modified in order to fit around the 3D book image. After inserting the image somewhere outside your square in the document, select it, right click on it and choose 'wrap text in front of text'. This will allow you to move the image about and place it where you want. Resize it and then adjust the text around it. You may have to drop some text to a different line in order for it to look just right.
I grabbed the squiggly thing from 'insert clipart' where there are loads of great choices. If you need to remove the background from a clipart image, you can do that as well. Just select it, click format, choose color followed by 'set transparent' and then select the color in the image you want to remove. If there is more one tone it gets slightly more complicated and you'll have to use Remove Backgrounds.
And that's it. Select all the elements in your design: the square, image and text boxes, and go to the formatting tab to group everything together. Then copy and paste into Paint, trim to size and save as a jpeg file.
If you're feeling more adventurous, you can try using more clipart options for your backgrounds instead of a blank square, like I did with the image below:

I made this even more fun by downloading it onto my phone and then using an animated photo app to add pink falling rose petals. The result was great on Instagram! You can check out the result HERE

Was this post helpful? Do you have advise on creating means that you'd like to share? Let me know in the comments below!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Free Historical Romance Deals - October 2018

It's been a while since I went scavenging for freebies so I thought I'd take a look at Bookbub deals and it turns out that there are some really good ones right now! Below you'll find a list of the ones I plan on grabbing along with the necessary links. I'm really excited about these. Some authors are new to me while others, like Courtney Milan and Heather Boyd are familiar, but it's been a while since I read them, so this is perfect! These are limited time offers, so you should try to get them while they're still available. If you can't access Bookbub for some reason, try searching Amazon, iTunes and B&N directly.

The Wedding Affair cover

The Wedding Affair

4.27(22 ratings)
A charming Regency romance: Lady Sally Ford might have been engaged to Captain Felix Hastings six years ago, but that was before he broke her heart. When he returns, Sally wants nothing to do with him — but she can’t ignore the passion still between them…

Publisher Description

The life she wants is the love he lost.
Coming face-to-face before her wedding with the scoundrel who broke her heart and destroyed her trust could not be more awkward or ill timed for Sally Ford. When she agreed to give her hand and fortune to London’s most eligible earl, she did so believing she would learn to love him after they tied the knot. Her betrothed has no idea she was engaged to Captain Felix Hastings six years ago, or that she gave her innocence to the ambitious officer.
When Felix answered the summons from his superior he never expected to face Sally Ford, the woman who’d believed a lie and labeled him a fortune hunter before calling off their engagement six years ago. In his determination to clear the air about the past, pride clashes with the truth as every argument and stolen moment reignites a passion that has never waned. Giving in could destroy everything they’ve both worked so hard to achieve, or will fate offer them a chance to begin again if only they can forgive?

The Duke She Wished For cover

The Duke She Wished For

5.00(1 rating)
Tabitha works in her father’s hat shop, wishing more than anything that she could escape her stepmother and stepsister. Nicholas, a duke, comes from an entirely different world than her. Can a masquerade ball unite them? A steamy and entertaining historical romance!

Publisher Description

Tabitha Blackmore is a woman who knows what she wants. 
A life of her own, one free from her hostile stepmother and gold-digging stepsister, and the ability to profit from her own talent. Working out of the shop her father began, Tabitha creates some of the most noteworthy hats and accessories in London, and looks forward to the day she can attend millinery school in Paris and break free of her current life. An opportunity arises to outfit and protect the Duchess of Stowe, leading to a chance meeting with her son, the Duke.

Nicholas Fairchild is a duke in name but not at heart.
As his mother returns to society following her mourning period for his father, Nicholas dreads his responsibility to entertain vapid, fortune-seeking socialites and, eventually, find a wife. He happens upon Tabitha, who is everything he would have hoped for but nothing that he would have ever expected.

He’s a duke who holds honesty above all; she’s a commoner hiding her true identity. Can they find their happily ever after at the masquerade, or will what separates them be too much to overcome when the final chime sounds at midnight?

The Duke She Wished For is a 30,000-word romance with no cliffhangers, no cheating, and a guaranteed happily ever after! For readers 18+ due to some steamy love scenes.


Her Gilded Prison cover

Her Gilded Prison

4.33(3 ratings)
Lady Sybil expects Stephen, her husband’s heir, to marry one of her daughters. But when Sybil and Stephen meet, a forbidden passion erupts between the two in this steamy Regency romance!

Publisher Description

She was determined to secure the succession, he was in it for the pleasure. Falling in love was not part of the arrangement.

When dashing twenty-five-year-old Stephen Cranborne arrives at the estate he will one day inherit, it’s expected he will make a match with his beautiful second cousin, Araminta.

But while proud, fiery Araminta and her shy, plain sister, Hetty, parade their very different charms before the viscount-in-waiting, it’s their mother, Sybil, a lonely and discarded wife, who evokes first his sympathy and then stokes his lustful fires.

As Stephen introduces Sybil to every pleasure she’s been deprived of, duty and passion become a deep and mutual love. But with the unexpected arrival of a contender to the estate, Sybil realises that what she’s set in motion to save the family might have tragic consequences.
Her Gilded Prison is Book 1 in the Daughters of Sin series, a Regency-set ‘Dynasty’ that follows the sibling rivalry between Viscount Partington’s two nobly-born and his illegitimate daughters as they compete for love during a glittering London Season. Her Gilded Prison can, however, be read as a stand-alone.

A Rebel Without a Rogue cover

A Rebel Without a Rogue

3.93(75 ratings)
To avenge her father’s death, Fianna will stop at nothing to find the Englishman who oversaw the execution. But when she mistakenly goes after the man’s son, Kit, she’s surprised by the passion between them… A stunning Regency romance!

Publisher Description

“A sparkling debut” — Historical Fiction Society Indie Reviews

A woman striving for justice

Fianna Cameron has devoted her life to avenging the death of her father, hanged as a traitor during the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Now, on the eve of her thirtieth birthday, only one last miscreant remains: Major Christopher Pennington, the English army officer who not only oversaw her father’s execution, but falsely maligned his honor. Fianna risks everything to travel to London and confront the man who has haunted her every nightmare. Only after her pistol misfires does she realize her sickening mistake: the Pennington she wounded is far too young to be the man who killed her father.

A man who will protect his family at all costs

Rumors of being shot by a spurned mistress might burnish the reputation of a rake, but for Kit Pennington, determined to add to his family’s honor by winning a seat in Parliament, such sala-cious gossip is nothing but a nightmare. To regain his good name, Kit will have to track down his mysterious attacker and force her to reveal the true motivation behind her unprovoked assault. Accepting the mistress of an acquaintance as an ally in his search is risky enough, but when Kit begins to develop feelings for the icy, ethereal Miss Cameron, more than his political career is in danger. For Kit is beginning to suspect that Fianna Cameron knows far more about the shooting—and the reasons behind it—than she’s willing to reveal.

As their search begins to unearth long-held secrets, Kit and Fianna find themselves caught be-tween duty to family and their beliefs in what’s right. How can you balance the competing de-mands of loyalty and justice—especially when you add love to the mix?

Dark Desires cover

Dark Desires

3.97(656 ratings)
In this smoldering gothic tale, penniless Darcie Finch takes a position at the estate of the enigmatic Dr. Damien Cole. But even as she falls for him, she can’t help but wonder what secrets he’s hiding… With nearly 900 five-star ratings on Goodreads.

Publisher Description

“A dark and delicious gothic. I gobbled it up in a single sitting.”--New York Timesbestselling author Linda Lael Miller
Betrayed by those she trusted, penniless and alone, Darcie Finch is forced to accept a position that no one else dares, as assistant to dangerously attractive Dr. Damien Cole. Ignoring the whispered warnings and rumours that he’s a man to fear, she takes her position at his eerie estate where she quickly discovers that nothing is at it seems, least of all her handsome and brooding employer. As Darcie struggles with her fierce attraction to Damien, she must also deal with the blood, the disappearances … and the murders.
With her options dwindling and time running out, Darcie must rely on her instincts as she confronts the man she is falling in love with. Is he an innocent and misunderstood man … or a remorseless killer who prowls the East End streets?

The Fairy Tale Bride cover

The Fairy Tale Bride

3.88(526 ratings)
Idealistic Miranda Fenster fervently believes in true love. And she’s convinced she can persuade the cynical Duke of Kerstone to see things her way in this spirited tale!

Publisher Description

Miranda Fenster was known as the Fairy Tale Miss during the one disastrous London season that convinced her she would never have a happily-ever-after. But when her brother’s elopement is thwarted by the stubbornly proper Duke of Kerstone, Miranda sets off to convince the duke to champion her brother’s cause for love. Unfortunately, he is too proper to consider love, or any matters of the heart, a suitable reason for marriage, and too proper not to marry Miranda when they find themselves compromised. Now, Miranda is an unexpected duchess caught up in a marriage-of-convenience with a man she has loved from afar. The new duchess is sure of only one thing: she has a second chance for happily-ever-after, if she can uncover her new husband’s darkest secret, and make him believe that fairytale endings can be real.

Engaging the Enemy cover

Engaging the Enemy

4.25(317 ratings)
Mercy, Duchess of Romsey, is struggling to keep an estate running when Leopold Randall — her late husband’s estranged cousin — arrives on her doorstep. Out of duty, he agrees to help her, but they soon find their hearts entangled…

Publisher Description

A duchess should be regal, aloof and the image of calm elegance. But those words have never applied to Mercy, Duchess of Romsey. A widow and mother of a young duke, Mercy is lonely and floundering to keep the estate afloat. When she discovers the existence of Leopold Randall, her husband’s estranged cousin, Mercy commits to help him locate his missing siblings if he’ll return the estate to order. Although cautioned against trusting a man who would inherit everything should her son die, she impetuously hands over the estate to Leopold’s care in the hope of keeping him near.
Leopold Randall, heir to the young duke, has returned to Hampshire to demand information regarding the fate of his missing siblings. Unfortunately, the Duchess of Romsey is clueless about them, yet her struggle to maintain the estate tugs at Leopold’s sense of duty. At her insistence, he steps in to bring order to chaos while searching for hints to his family’s whereabouts amongst the old duke’s papers. Yet the duchess tempts him in ways best unspoken. He fights to hide his weakness for her and a shameful past that could see him banished again. But when Leopold discovers a threat against the duchess and young duke’s life, he must join forces with the temptress to protect his last known relative.

Chills cover


4.22(754 ratings)
When Jack, Marquess of Ettington, invites his former ward to London as his sister’s companion, he’s surprised to realize Pixie Grange is hunting for a husband — and for some reason, she’s not considering him! A scintillating tale of unexpected love.

Publisher Description

London, 1813

Jack, Marquess of Ettington, is at his wits’ end dealing with his twin sister’s distress. Under her name, he’s summoned Constance Grange, his vexing former ward, to London to act as his sister’s companion for the season. Although Pixie’s debt-ridden state comes as a complete surprise, what disturbs him more is his sister’s plan to find her a wealthy husband to pay off her overwhelming debts. And—despite his availability, wealth and title—he’s shocked to be overlooked for the position of Pixie’s husband.

With a nickname like Pixie, Constance Grange should be used to disasters, but debt collectors pounding on the Marquess of Ettington’s door demanding payment is beyond mortifying. Given the precarious state of her finances and the previously unknown loss of her family estate, her choices are either incarceration in debtors’ prison or turning fortune hunter to secure a wealthy husband. Yet the man who comes to her rescue more times than she cares to think about is unavailable, betrothed, and her former guardian Jack—the cold-hearted marquess.

Introducing Chills, the first installment of the Distinguished Rogues series. Bestselling regency romance author, Heather Boyd, brings readers a lively tale of reckless spending, fraudulent correspondence, and the humorous twists and turns of falling for the right rogue…

The Governess Affair cover

The Governess Affair

4.23(574 ratings)
From a New York Times bestselling author comes an addictive love story! Governess Serena Barton must win the favor of ruthless Hugo Marshall if she is to secure her future. “A battle of wills with the sweetest of prizes: true love” (RT Book Reviews).

Publisher Description

The start of a new series from New York Times bestselling author Courtney Milan...
She will not give up.
Three months ago, governess Serena Barton was let go from her position. Unable to find new work, she’s demanding compensation from the man who got her sacked: a petty, selfish, swinish duke. But it’s not the duke she fears. It’s his merciless man of business--the man known as the Wolf of Clermont. The formidable former pugilist has a black reputation for handling all the duke’s dirty business, and when the duke turns her case over to him, she doesn’t stand a chance. But she can’t stop trying — not with her entire future at stake.
He cannot give in.
Hugo Marshall is a man of ruthless ambition — a characteristic that has served him well, elevating the coal miner’s son to the right hand man of a duke. When his employer orders him to get rid of the pestering governess by fair means or foul, it’s just another day at the office. Unfortunately, fair means don’t work on Serena, and as he comes to know her, he discovers that he can’t bear to use foul ones. But everything he has worked for depends upon seeing her gone. He’ll have to choose between the life that he needs, and the woman he is coming to love…
The Governess Affair is a prequel novella (about 33,000 words) to the Brothers Sinisterseries. It is followed by The Duchess War, which is now available.