It’s time for another instalment of my “Getting to know…” series. Today, author Ines Johnson is joining us. I first heard about Ines through Facebook–we’re both passionate about diversity in romance writing– and after reading her novel, Pumpkin: a Cindermama story, I asked her to join my release party for Maybe Forever. Ines is based in Washington, DC and writes erotic, paranormal and fairytale romances. Add her books to your TBR list, and follow her on Amazon, Goodreads and Facebook!
I come from a family of storytellers. My mother would talk your ears off for hours and my father is a songwriter. I began my storytelling career in television, where I still dabble from time to time. A few years ago I’d written a script that I thought would make an excellent book, only I didn’t know how to write a book. So I took a couple of classes and started querying. I never received a single rejection letter. Instead, I got no responses at all in the beginning! But I never gave up and I never stopped writing. Wait, isn’t the the definition of insanity?
Do you have a favorite place to write?
I do my best writing at hightop tables where I can alternately sit or stand while typing on my laptop. A cuppa is a must. My favorite is a cuppa soy chai, sweetened with honey. I write best in the morning from 8am until lunchtime. Nights are reserved for reading.
Where do you find your inspiration when you write?
I’m a very bad Buddhist. I sit each week in sangha, which is similar to sitting in a church pew on Sunday. In a sangha the teacher, think preacher, will lecture on spiritual teachings and guide the group in mediation. During meditation when I’m supposed to be getting my zen on, my mind always wanders back to the teaching and turns it into a story.
Tell us about your latest release. What inspired this book?
I released my debut fairytale retelling in March. It’s called Pumpkin: a Cindermama story. Here’s the blurb:
Single mother Malika “Pumpkin” Tavares lost faith in fairytales after she fell for a toad. Now she believes she’s not cut from the storybook, heroine cloth and searches for Mr. Good Enough amongst the sidekicks and supporting men of the town. Love at first sight isn’t a cliche for town royalty Armand “Manny” Charmayne because for generations the Charmayne’s have spotted their soulmates be seeing a golden aura around them the first time they laid eyes on them. When Manny meets Pumpkin he sees…nothing, but sparks fly off the richter scale. The more he gets to know her the more he considers defying fate, if only he can convince her to take a chance on love again.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Could you describe your writing process for us?
I love plotting. Its my favorite part of writing. I love to go into Scrivener and use the Outline tool to plan the journey of my characters. I can recite just about any plotting structure you can think of. The Hero’s Journey, Save the Cat, Romance Arc, Relationship Arc…I could go on.
The first time I tried to write a book it took me one year to write the first three chapters because I agonized over each word choice. Now, I believe in fast drafting. Vomit the story onto the page without a care for comma placement. All told, it takes me about six months from the first drafted word to the final polished manuscript.
I take three to four weeks for the first draft, which I call The Dirty. I let The Dirty breath for as long as I am able to be parted with it -usually a week or two. Then I come back and Sweep up the grammar and plot holes, which usually takes another three to four weeks.
Next I send The Swept draft out to my trusted critique partners. When it comes back I Clean it up for another three weeks focusing on my weaknesses which is setting. Finally, I send The Clean manuscript off to the copyeditor for two to three weeks. When it comes back I Polish up all the commas and rethink my overused words. Then I hit publish, and start all over again!
What’s the hardest part about being a writer?
I went to school for producing and screenwriting, and worked in the broadcasting industry for over a decade, before trying my hand at novel writing. I wrote my first novel in 2009. It was based on a script that I wrote but couldn’t find the financing for. I was so proud of my work, but readers and critique partners noted that it was evident that I was a screenwriter and didn’t understand the mechanics of novelization. Screenwriting consists of action and dialogue. That’s it. In scripts, there is no internal monologuing and setting is minimal. I had some learning to do. Five years, and a ton of classes later, I’ve got four published novels lush in setting and internal angst.
Which of your characters is your favorite? Why are you so partial to that character?
My favorite character is still my first hero, the pleasure monk, Jian, from The Pleasure Hound.
The elements of a great romance is when the hero and heroine fit each others need. There’s a preponderance of books where pain is pleasure. And that’s okay with me -when I believe that there’s actually pleasure being had. I’ve read too many books where women are getting spanked just to get spanked. It’s not clear how the act satisfies a need in them, nor is it clear that the man understands and is acting to fulfill that need. That understanding is the sexy part to me: a woman who knows (perhaps subconsciously) what she needs and a man who knows exactly how to give it to her.
My book, The Pleasure Hound, came into being out of this frustration. I wanted to read about a heroine who was eager to explore pleasure. I wanted to encounter a hero who was skilled in, and solely interested in, that woman’s pleasure. My hero, Jian, studies women’s bodies like textbooks. After thorough perusal of, he emerges ready to ace the examination.
Do you have a critique partner? If so, could you describe how you work together?
I have a fairy book sistah in author L. Penelope. We’ve been sharing stories since our days as film students and college roommates. In 2014, after a few years at NANO and writing workshops, we made a pact to self-publish in 2015. Pulling, pushing and shoving each other along, we both made it through and haven’t looked back.
We share WIP drafts in the early stages of crazy sentences and plotting derailments; messy pages that we would never show our editors. For me, the early stages is the only time that I’m open to making changes in my story. Once I start painting my words with pretty prose I’m no longer open to critique.
Which books are on your TBR list? Do you have any particular indie writers who are your favourites at the moment?
I’m obsessed with Ernessa T. Carter who just went indie. Her book “32 Candles,” is an 80’s fairytale retelling for women of color.
What’s next for you? Are there any new publications in the pipeline? If so, could you tell us about them?
I’m currently working on the second book in the Cindermama series. These books are fairytale retellings featuring single mothers as the heroines. The first story is Pumpkin: a Cindermama Story, which is a retelling of the Cinderella story. This story is based on actual events. Shortly after my divorce, I was out with my two children at a community farmer’s market. A really handsome politician waved me over and began chatting with me about his platform. I was more interested in his light-colored eyes. But my burgeoning fantasy was dashed when my son sauntered over and embarrassing words spewed from his mouth. I ushered myself and my kids away, chiding my silly imagination. What man would be interested in a single mother of two school-aged kids? There are no fairytales featuring mothers as the heroines.
That night, I rewrote the events of the day to my liking. In my imagination, the light-eyed politician asked me out, after winning over my guard dog of a son. We got married and I moved out of my apartment and into some big mansion with a closet stocked full of name brand clothes. Oh, that closet…
Anyway, it was October, and so I plotted the book for the next month of NANO. The completed manuscript sat in a drawer for years because I didn’t think anyone would want to read a story where a single mother was the hero. Thankfully, I was wrong. Every woman deserves an HEA.
Thanks so much to Ines for joining us! Hope we can meet in person when I am in the US again!
One word describes Mara White’s Maldeamores (Lovesick): heartbreaking. Lucky and Bey’s story pulls at you–challenging you because their love is forbidden, yet making you empathise with them because their love is like an addiction, an illness they can never overcome. So why is their love forbidden? Luciano (also known as Lucky) and Belén (AKA Bey) are cousins, growing up together in the Heights. What starts as familial love becomes romantic love, even when both know that nothing can ever come of it…
Mara White never disappoints–she takes on controversial subjects (this time: incest) and weaves wonderfully written stories that smoulder and pull at your emotions. This is an emotionally-driven story that’s tight, erotic and challenging. A tightly written page turner, you’ll get sucked into this story and it won’t let you go until the very end. As much as I knew Lucky and Bey’s love would tear them apart, I longed for them to find happiness. It’s the sort of love story that leave you ragged, that makes you want what you know you cannot have…
This is not a book for everyone–but if you’re willing to give yourself over to Mara White’s sensational storytelling, you won’t regret the experience. Maldeamores (Lovesick) challenges what is love, what is acceptable in society, and how love can destroy you…
And I loved every minute of it.
Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.
“Exquisitely sensual, Maldeamores is the most unforgettable forbidden romance I have ever read.” Katy Evans, New York Times Bestselling Author of the REAL Series.
“Refreshingly ‘taboo’ – in a community where we’re inundated by novels claiming this title, it’s wonderful to finally find a book that not only truly lives up to the word, but is also well written, moving, and beautiful in its prose.” Stylo Fantome, Best Selling Author of the Kane Trilogy.
Belén: I’ve loved Luciano ever since I can remember, desired him before I even knew what it meant. He’s always been the only man in my life—my constant protector, and his rejection only intensifies my need.
Luciano: I’ve never known a love more fierce than the one I feel for Belén. But I force myself to deny her no matter how much it hurts.
Our love is a sickness and both of us are infected.
Because there’s no cure for being from the same family.
This novel contains graphic sex scenes, including: incest, F/F, and ménage, M/M/F. Some drug use and violence.
Mara White is a contemporary romance and erotica writer who laces forbidden love stories with hard issues, such as race, gender and inequality. She holds an Ivy League degree but has also worked in more strip clubs than even she can remember. She is not a former Mexican telenovela star contrary to what the tabloids might say, but she is a former ballerina and will always remain one in her heart. She lives in NYC with her husband and two children and, yes, when she’s not writing you can find her on the playground.
Shades of Desire Authors: J.A. Coffey, Wendy Ely, Dorothy Callahan, Diane Escalera, Lena Hart, Chanta Rand, Emma Leigh Reed, Cindy Stark, Valerie Twombly, Kristina Knight
Now available! Ten titillating tales from USA Today, bestselling and award-winning authors. Step into the world of some of the freshest voices in romance. From spicy secrets to sweet second chances. Come find your perfect shade of desire.
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J.A. Coffey – Bestselling Author LIAR, LIAR
Divorced certified fraud examiner Jessica Barlow catches liars for a living. Sparks fly when she’s assigned to investigate a dating website owned by a man determined to guarantee she finds love—even if he has to pretend to be a client!
Wendy Ely – USA Today Bestselling Author DANGEROUS FLAMES
Sometimes good men are taught to do evil things and it takes the strength of a sheltered woman to make things right. When Gabi learns of her father, she is asked to leave for her own safety. Fine. She’ll go… but she is taking her secret love with her, even if it’s at gun-point.
Dorothy Callahan – Bestselling Author A DECADE FOR DARIUS
Jess never forgot her first kiss, especially since it came from the guy who taught her everything she knows about antiques, her livelihood. But if she wins the priceless inheritance, Jess will risk losing Darius Covington all over again.
Diane Escalera – Bestselling Author STILL HOT FOR YOU
Shay LaCosta screwed up a damn good marriage. Now she’s on a mission to get a little submission, and get her hunky husband back in her bed.
Lena Hart – Bestselling Author HIS BEDPOST QUEEN
Athena Lewis has a sharp mind and an even sharper attitude. Except when it comes to “Davie,” the only man who’s ever truly made her feel safe. Yet to protect the only family she has left, she must embark on a mission that goes against everything she believes in—and that includes using the last trick she has left. Her body.
Chanta Rand – Bestselling Author and Debut Author of the Year RESISTING DESTINY
Thrown together for ninety days by a spiteful judge, womanizing attorney, Cayson Sullivan and street-smart hustler, Destiny Jackson find the only thing they can agree on is their red-hot attraction for each other.
Emma Leigh Reed – TRUSTING LOVE
Pregnant and running from her abusive boyfriend, Chloe Wilder takes refuge in the sleepy coastal town of Arden. Police chief, Jayden Peterson, thinks the worst crime that could happen in Arden is jaywalking. Could the real danger be the two of them falling for each other?
Cindy Stark – Bestselling Author WOUNDED
Battle-worn soldier, Jerry returns home intending to avoid his ex-fiancée. The shrapnel that wounded him pales in comparison to the gash she left in his heart. Kimber lost everything when she broke off her engagement, and she’ll fight to win him back.
Valerie Twombly – Bestselling Author SPANISH NIGHTS
Armand has lost everything. His magic and his freedom are taken when an evil curse is placed on the Jinn, but a newcomer to town may be his savior. When evil emerges from the shadows, Makayla learns she must choose between her mortality and Armand’s freedom.
Kristina Knight – Bestselling Author MR. RIGHT NOW
Dumped by her celebrity boyfriend, unlucky-in-love author Casey Cash needs a break. But, between the male escort trying to get into her bed and the tabloid reporter intent on getting her story, Casey might have been smarter to stay in New York…
“It began quickly and almost immediately, the story had me in suspense. Whether I was hoping for Gabrielle’s safe escape to her father’s cabin, and for her and Mikolas to get together, I was on the edge of my seat.”
—Isabella from Chick Lit Goddess Reviews
A DECADE FOR DARIUS
“I’ve never read a romance where the two main characters were more perfect for each other.”
—Print and Film Fan
STILL HOT FOR YOU
“Diane Escalera cranks up the heat and gives a story sizzling with seduction and chemistry between her characters.”
—Book Lovers, Inc.
HIS BEDPOST QUEEN
“The passion between the main characters is FIYAH, and they are relatable!”
“The sexual tension in this book is incredible. These are real people, and it is as if they could walk right off the pages and into the real world!”
—Rose, Amazon Reviewer
“The book had me sharing emotions with the characters and had my heart racing the whole time. I called it “criminal minds in a book”.
“Powerfully sweet story of love, hurt and forgiveness.”
—Vo Pov, Amazon Reviewer
“This book was steamy, sexy, raw with a side of chocolate dipped cherries on top! I finished reading this book in record time it was so damn juicy!”
“Mr. Right Now packs a lot of story into 50,000 words—it demands attention. Steaming sex scenes, humor and memorable characters.”
—Reader review on Amazon & Goodreads
Mailing List: http://eepurl.com/bjdlP1
GIVEAWAY: Kindle Fire 7” HD
DL White has done it: written a wonderful book about friendship and all its foibles in such a way that you don’t want the book to end. In Brunch at Ruby’s, we meet lifelong friends Debra, Renee and Maxine when all three are a crossroads in their lives: Maxine is convinced she’s met Mr. Right (based on standards her mother has instilled in her since her youth–wealthy and cultured and above her station), Debra has been caught in a clinch with her lover and the shit is about to hit the fan at the school where she’s principal (especially since her lover is the Athletic Director at the school) and Renee is struggling to deal with her father and his quickly declining case of dementia.
White takes us through the highs and lows of the women’s lives in alternating points of view and does so with a deft hand. There is NO head-hopping here; instead, we have confidently drawn characters whose voices are unique and whose storylines are differentiated enough that we understand all the time whose story we’re following. This pleases me as there are far too many books out there told from alternating POV in which less confident authors jump from head to head mid-paragraph and end up confusing readers.
What I love about Brunch at Ruby’s is that DL White has taken everyday life and made it so compelling that you don’t want to put the book down. This is a story every woman can relate to–the ups and downs of friendships, marriage problems, dealing with ageing parents–and it does so without becoming maudlin or predictable. Loved this book! Looking forward to DL White’s next release!
It’s not often that you get a chance to read a Regency romance with people of color in focus. Vanessa Riley challenges the usual norms of Regency romance with her latest novel, Unmasked Heart, an inspirational romance with a biracial heroine as its heart and soul. All of her life, young Gaia has felt that she is not as loved or cherished as her siblings. She thinks it’s because she resembles her mother, who was rumoured to have Spanish blood. Gaia is gentle, good-natured and patient–exactly the sort of daughter her father should love, but still he is distant with her and treats her like she is a step above the servants. What Gaia wants most in life is to marry the neighbour’s son, a botanist with a fickle heart. Enter to the scene the Duke of Cheshire. He is in need of help from someone like Gaia–someone who will be kind and patient with his mute daughter. He’s not looking for love. He thinks himself incapable of love. But when he and Gaia meet, and they have two meet-cutes, it’s obvious that Fate has already got something planned for them.
I really enjoyed reading Unmasked Heart. I am not someone who usually reads inspirational romances as I generally find them too preachy. However, Vanessa Riley does a great job of
NOT being preachy and focusing on what is at stake–the relationship, the growing respect
Gaia and the duke have for one another and–when Gaia uncovers the secret of her past–the soul-searching necessary for her to come to terms with who she really is. I thought the question of race was handled quite well–it makes sense that there would be gossip, and that her father would assume that his actions could shield Gaia from disappointment without realising that he is doing his daughter a disservice.
A positive and interesting take on the Regency tale with a sweet heroine you want to cheer for.
Synopsis: They said they would try. They said they would give their love a chance.
But when the mistakes of Gabriel’s past clashed with Nicole’s hopes for the future, they realized love wasn’t enough. They tied up the loose ends of their broken hearts and walked away.
Now, Gabriel’s career is on a meteoric rise and he is back to his bachelor ways. He told Nicole he couldn’t promise forever and did his best to let her go, but these days he wonders if he spoke too soon.
Nicole has a new life, a new man, and she refuses to look back. To everyone around her though, not looking back looks an awful lot like running scared from the past.
With Jackie and Ian’s wedding approaching, a reunion between the best man and the maid of honor is to be expected. What they don’t expect is for the olive branch of friendship to catch fire with a love and need that is stronger than even their best intentions.
They called it quits. But is it really over? They still love each other. But does that even matter when they’ve made up their minds that there’s no going back?
*NOTE* Mind Over Matter is the third and final book in the Loose Ends series.
Also in the Loose Ends series….
Synopsis: After a whirlwind week of hot sex and growing affection, Nicole and Gabriel were forced to part ways and to return to real life. For a while they danced around each other, meeting up when they could, the distance between them rivaled only by their desire to be together again.
Now these lovers are no longer star-crossed. They’re in the same city at the same time and can finally indulge their insatiable passion. At least until Gabriel’s increasingly popular band goes on tour.
But the ticking clock of his budding music career isn’t the only obstacle to contend with. A blast from Gabriel’s wild past, a guy that kept Nicole warm in Gabriel’s absence, and fear of what the future holds all converge just as they’ve begun to realize this might be love…
Author’s Note: This book contains strong language and sexual content with dark elements, some of which readers may find uncomfortable.
Synopsis: Nicole Langley’s #1 Crush has always been Gabriel Roberts, but settling for being a friendly acquaintance has had to be enough.
Gabriel has always seen Nicole as his good friend’s very pretty, but extremely off limits baby sister.
Then a hot summer day and an even hotter discovery pushes them over the lines of friendship, over the lines of unrequited desire, and into each other’s arms.
Will they indulge and move on? Or will this crush turn into something more, something deeper? Something that leaves loose ends begging to be tied…
About Kaia Bennett
Kaia Bennett is a native of New Jersey, a college graduate and U.S. Army veteran who loves music, movies, astrology, tattoos, martial arts, animals and, of course, the written word. She heard the siren call of the writer as a teenage girl, but took her sweet time answering it until she had lived and loved enough to share her work with the masses.
She is an erotic author who loves to write stories with diversity, depth, realism and viscerally hot encounters that flirt shamelessly with the taboo. A lover of all genres and a voracious reader, she aims to write stories that are transformative for her characters and readers alike.
A few months ago, I bumped into Melissa Blue on Facebook. I don’t remember if it was in one of the promotion groups or during a release party, but I do remember seeing the cover for one of the books from her Under the Kilt series and deciding I should check it out.
I started with the first book in the series, Under His Kilt, which was sexy fun and perfect for reminding me why I like Scotland and Scottish men like Ewan McGregor so much. Jocelyn and Ian had great chemistry and the story of a woman with a bucket list and exploring her fantasies with someone who should have been off-limits was a page turner. ;) Ditto Her Insatiable Scot. Loved the set-up of the former con man Tristan (who just happens to be Ian’s brother) and the shy Keri (who just happens to be Jocelyn’s cousin) and what happens when they have to pretend to be Ian and Jocelyn to help them get the house of their dreams was another plump dollop of sexy, funny frothiness that made me laugh and cheer for a couple who were obviously meant for each other.
It didn’t take long for me to move on to Kilted for Pleasure. This time the story moves on to Callan, Ian and Tristan’s cousin, and Victoria, who works for Ian, and what happens during the three months that Victoria is in Scotland. Ian has sent her there to convince Callan to help work on restoring and repairing some antiques. And the last thing that Callan wants is to be distracted by a woman he thinks could still be wet behind the ears. And Victoria? Well, she’s been burned in the past by a man she trusted and she’s cut love out of her life.
Of the three books in the series, Kilted for Pleasure was my absolute favorite. Why? I love a story with good characterisation and deep point of view. And we get that in Kilted for Pleasure. Melissa takes us deep into both Callan and Victoria so we get a great sense of who they are and *why* they are this way without simply telling us. She shows us. Add to the mix the loveable cad, Douglass Baird–also known as the Baird–the patriarch of the Baird clan–who assumes the role of our unlikely Cupid.
You’ve got to love a book featuring a sexy, brooding Scotsman. Kilted for Pleasure is not just a sexy summer read, it’s a story about two people who’ve given up on love and who are afraid to give themselves emotionally to one another. Instead of admitting what’s in their hearts, they focus on pleasuring one another–even when they both know there are consequences. Throughout the novel, there’s so much sexual tension and release but there’s also a hell of a lot of soul-searching as these two very flawed characters traverse an emotional minefield. Neither wants to admit their feelings, yet both are falling love. And for Callan especially this is torture (in a good way) since he’s still dealing with the death of his wife. And I think that’s one of the most interesting aspects of Kilted for Pleasure (even if I do love reading about sexy Scotsmen)–not only are we watching a man fall in love, not only are we peeling away the layers of his rough and ready image, we’re experiencing the guilt and turmoil he feels as he tries to hold Victoria at bay (though he cannot stay away from her since he’s so drawn to her) and come to grips with the realisation that loving Victoria does not mean he is betraying his deceased wife.
Are there frustrating moments? Of course there are! And that’s why we love sexy rom-com. Will you fall in love with Callan? Yup! Will Victoria drive you insane even as you’re cheering you on? Yup! Will you want to go to Scotland even though you know it will be chilly and rainy during the summer? Indeed! ;)
Fun, sexy and set in Scotland. Loved it!
Clearer in the Night by Rebecca Croteau
Cait’s still reeling from her father and sister’s deaths when a werewolf bite changes her life forever. Two men seem frighteningly familiar with her condition and the world of magic she’s thrown into. Torn between sweet, too-hot-to-be-true Eli and dark, alluring Wes, Cait must choose sides… before it’s too late. Long version: Cait’s used to being an outsider. The odd girl out, the one with the alcoholic mother. The one whose sister and father died. The one who might just have telepathy. These things she could manage, could hide just enough to get by. Now a werewolf’s bite forced her outside the whole human race. Two men — the one night hook-up who shows up at her hospital bed, and the rescuer worker who may be following her — seem to know more about her condition than she doe … and about this strange world of magic she’s pulled into. As Cait plunges into this darker reality, painful secrets of her past are churned up and she’s forced to confront her new identity. Torn between the between the sweet and too-hot-to-be-true Eli and possessive, darkly sensual Wes, Cait must decide whom to trust and which side to choose… before it’s too late.
This is what it’s like to be the odd girl out: you stand in a crowd, and everyone’s looking through you, past you, around you. Every smile you think is for you? It’s not. They don’t know you, they don’t know your story, but they can smell the curse on you, like a rotten perfume, and they know better than to brush up against you. Can’t risk it rubbing off on them. Of course, in a town like Meredith Falls, a small town that thought it was big, it could be that everyone here knew. That what they were laughing and whispering about was that girl, that Cait girl, didn’t you hear? Her father and sister were killed when she was nine years old, and now her mother’s a drunk and she’s a disaster. Don’t go close, you’ll get her on your shoes. But someone always came close. There was always someone willing to give it a shot, go for a spin, dare the roller coaster. Take a quick bump and grind in the darkest corners of a club, or an alley, or someone’s darkened bedroom, and then run back to their friends, laughing about how they made it with the town whore. Nah, that wasn’t fair. A whore charged. I was just fumbling after something that I wasn’t ever going to find, and reaching for something that approximated release in clumsy hands and whispered lies.
Rebecca, Ree to her friends, lives with her family in the wilds of New England. She is owned by two cats, and enjoys discovering the various ways that one can enjoy string. She is fueled by coffee, and strong autumn breezes.
Connect with Rebecca Croteau
($10.00 Amazon Gift Card and Three Digital Copies of Clearer in the Night)
Tour arranged by Pen and Ink Book Tours