Winter Solstice Fun and Some Great Reviews for Movie Magic

It’s the winter solstice, and therefore my favorite day of the year! Why is that?, you ask. Because it’s traditionally accepted that every day after today is leading up to spring! It’s like hitting rock bottom…the only place left to go is up!
wintersolstice-cover1.jpgAs always, I have to reflect back on one of my favorite romance novels (that I wrote, that is). Though published second, it was actually the first one I wrote. And it’s the only one I can honestly say I know who the guy on the cover is! (Lots of inquiries about that…can’t figure why.) Anyway, a few years ago, he actually emailed me to ask if he could include the cover on his website. Of course, I said yes, though I’ll admit I was a little starstruck! Anyway, his name is Jason Aaron Baca, and he’s been featured on quite a few romance novel covers. Here’s an article about him: Jason Aaron Baca. And his website in case you want to see even more: Jason Aaron Baca

Just a little trivia about one of my favorite novels to start our winter solstice out right. And if you want to read more, check out the book! I promise you’ll love it…almost as much as the cover.

On to more up-to-date things…

Movie Magic, as you know, is currently on a review tour. I have two stops today, and they’ve both posted mostly complimentary reviews. I always say my best reviews are not always a hundred percent positive. First off, Locks, Hooks and Books gave Movie Magic four stars and said:

“I thought Sabrina and Walt’s story to be a pretty good and fun read. I found myself laughing out loud right from the beginning. I loved their chemistry together. I enjoyed the beautiful Beaufort, NC location.”

Great way to start the day, right? I went on to The Reading Addict to find a 3.75 star review that said:

“There are fun twists in the story and I think those who enjoy gentle romances with show business elements will be delighted by this tale.”

I will add that the above reviewer had a couple of understandable issues with Movie Magic that I will take into account in future writing. I love when reviewers tell me what doesn’t work as well as what works!

Please stop by and give my reviewers some love. And while you’re there, enter the giveaway for a $50 Amazon gift card that will be awarded at the end of the tour. Also, don’t forget that I’m starting an email list and those who join before January 1 are eligible to win another $50 Amazon gift card! Check it out here: Email List Sign Up

Long post, I know, but lots to cover! Hope you enjoyed some of it!

Celebrating Winter Solstice with a Giveaway!

It’s the winter solstice! December 21, my favorite day of the year. Guess why?

Here’s a hint:

wintersolstice-cover1.jpgStartled, Becky raised her head to meet John’s gaze in the mirror. He shrugged and smiled at her reflection. “You didn’t look too good, and when you weren’t out by the time I finished my shower, I decided I’d better check on you.”

He crossed the room and turned her to face him, touched her sweaty forehead gently, then reached back and released her hair from its knot. Perhaps his only intention was to help her relax, but as her hair fell around her shoulders, Becky realized with a jolt of self-consciousness that she enjoyed the intimacy of the gesture.

When she looked at him, he moved a little closer, his hand lingering at the nape of her neck. He drew his fingers through her hair, letting it slide through them, and she closed her eyes in pure sensuality, forgetting every tragedy she had witnessed in a simple desire to live in the moment.

Neither spoke as he bent his head to cover her mouth with his. She lost herself in his touch, aware of his arms around her, his lips first on hers, then on her neck. She slid her hands up his biceps, caressing as she did so, wanting to encourage his response. He smelled good–clean and male in a way she had never experienced. In some detached part of her brain, she thought maybe it was the hospital soap.

She clung to him, thankful for the strength of his body as her own betrayed her weakness. Not until his hands slid beneath her scrub top did she come to her senses.

“Not here.” She could only think that she didn’t want to become another of the legends–the PR woman who couldn’t resist the irresistible John Grant in the locker room.

“Where?” His body still pressed hard against hers, his lips against her hair. Becky felt the cold porcelain sink behind her, but he was warm and solid and the heat of their passion was thick in the air around them. In such a position, restraint was the last thing on her mind.

“My place,” she whispered and told him the address.

“I’ve got a few things to take care of.” His lips brushed her ear and she shivered. She felt his smile. “I’ll be there in a couple of hours.”

Before she could change her mind, he left, taking the warmth and safety of his arms with him, and Becky was left to wonder if she had suddenly gone insane.

Okay, maybe that’s not much of a hint, but it’s an excerpt from my book Winter Solstice, which was just a fun romantic romp starring a slightly bumbling public relations guru (Becky) and a sexy, strong, alpha-male ER doctor (John). It was my second published book (2011) from Lyrical Press. And you could win a Kindle copy on Amazon today. Check out the giveaway here: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/78f45d8e0611e57f#ln-tw.

Enjoy the shortest day of the year, and look forward to new, brighter days ahead!

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Embrace your velvet-cloaked vampire: Go ahead and publish that book

I just read an article in Forbes called Don’t Publish That Book. It’s worthwhile reading. The author Suw Charman-Anderson publishes a Twitter conversation she had with authors Steve Mosby and Lou Morgan in which the authors bemoan their early stories, one of which was evidently about a vampire in a velvet cloak.

I enjoyed the article. It encourages writers to write until they’re good enough to be noticed and not to rush to self-publish. Charman-Anderson seems to indicate that if you get multiple rejections, there’s probably a reason for that. She’s probably right and I agree with her. Too many self-published books are published before they are ready. Please, please copy edit. Don’t rely on spell-check. It’s not infallible. And let a manuscript sit for a few weeks after it’s done, re-read it and then decide if you want to publish it. You might be surprised by the answer you give yourself. My self-published book Weeds and Flowers sat on my hard-drive for years before I got the go-ahead from my inner editor.

With that said, I will also add that we all have our stories about vampires in velvet cloaks. C’mon, if you’re a writer who started publishing within the last fifteen years, you have that story. That one story that’s still floating around in the ether somewhere waiting to come back and bite you in the ass. I know where mine is. Do you?

My point is that we live and publish in a different time. A new age for publishing. An age in which our mistakes and growing pains may make it into “print”. Yes, we need to watch ourselves, but we also need to embrace this new age. Imagine if we could read Stephen King’s first stories. I’ve heard Nicholas Sparks say his first novel was a horror novel. Now that would be some interesting reading.

One of my favorite books on my bookshelf is A Whisper in the Dark: Twelve Thrilling Tales by Louisa May Alcott. Of course, I don’t love the tales so much as I love the book. You see, Louisa May Alcott was my inspiration for becoming a writer. I loved all her books, read all of them, but my favorite, of course, was the semi-autobiographical Little Women, in which Jo, the character Alcott based on herself, writes “sensational” tales for the paper. The first time I read Little Women when I was about nine or ten years old, I couldn’t imagine what “sensational” meant. Later I got the idea that they must have something to do with sex, especially since Jo destroys them all in a fit of shame in the book. I read A Whisper in the Dark much later as an adult, and I wondered what on earth Alcott was talking about. They’re corny by today’s standards, and probably pretty dark and risque in the nineteenth century, but not the awful stuff I’d half been expecting.

Only now as I begin (notice I said “begin”) to reach my own maturity as a writer do I understand where she was coming from. But as a writer, I’m grateful not all of Alcott’s early works were lost. It makes some of my own early growing pains easier to bear.

Even now when I look back on Secrets of the Lotus, published almost exactly two years ago, I see things I would do differently. The same for Winter Solstice. If I’m fortunate enough to continue growing and developing as a writer—and I hope that will be a lifelong process—in five years I may reread Where the Heart Lies with tolerant disdain.

It’s a process. So whether an editor or publisher will take the time on your work or you self-publish it, you have to know that if you are one of the lucky ones, you won’t like what you write now in five years.

WINTER SOLSTICE gets five stars from Booked Up Reviews!

You know those moments that affirm you’re doing okay, right? I hope everybody gets them, no matter what they do for a living. I’ve talked about validation on here before. I’ve gotten validation in several small ways since I started publishing. When I wrote horror, believe it or not, my validation often came in the odd looks people gave me when they’d read something of mine. “How did you write that?” That was a fun validation.

Since eschewing horror for my more romantic side, my validation has come in the form of reviews. Some are face-to-face. Friends tell me “I loved your last book!” I even had one reader chase me down to ask me when I had another one coming out. That was really nice validation. I also enjoy the comments on Goodreads and my blog and Amazon (I really love finding a new review of one of my books on Amazon!).

But let’s face it, when a review site gives you a good review, it’s kind of awesome. These are people who read a ton of work in my genre. To have them give me a good review is a thrill. To have them give me a great review–well, it sort of makes my day. Booked Up Reviews did that for me today. Five stars and reviewer Dolce Amore had this to say about WINTER SOLSTICE:

I think I said before that paranormal is my favorite genre, but I always take the chance of finding good writers… no matter the genre. And Ms. Michelle Garren Flye is a good one, a very good one; my favorite writers’ list keeps growing…

Now, I will put into words what I think about the book: we have outstanding characters, wonderful storyline, great dialog, and delicious humor that just adds flavor to the story. And the way she adds the medical terms with the story just fills me with wonder.

Wow. Thank you, Booked Up Reviews for the validation! To read the whole review, click here: Booked Up Reviews: Winter Solstice by Michelle Garren Flye.

Second edition of Weeds and Flowers: The perfect valentine?

Yay! I just checked Amazon and my “second edition”, including the beautiful new cover you see to your left, is now up and ready to be downloaded to your Kindle (or smartphone or computer with the Kindle app). Happy Valentine’s Day! It’s free!

If you like Weeds and Flowers, you might even like my two romances, and today’s all about romance, right? And hey, today really is your lucky day! Lyrical Press is having a sale. Everything in their store is 50% off! Here’s a good place to start: My Books.

I’m also scheduled to be interviewed on author John Peters’ blog today. Until that’s up, check out his other informative posts: Dark Scribblings. He’s written some great articles and you might even spot my name in there once or twice. 🙂

Want my books?

If you do, February 14 is the day to get them. Not only will you be able to get your mitts on my re-release of WEEDS AND FLOWERS for FREE, Lyrical Press is offering a storewide 50% off sale. So you can get every book I currently have out there at a great deal. Be sure to check it out.

Lyrical Press, Inc.

Weeds and Flowers for Kindle

E-reader Giveaway Update; Winter Solstice is Thursday!

I’ve had so much fun with my Rose is a Rose debate, I haven’t paid nearly enough attention to my Winter Solstice e-reader giveaway. Rest assured, I’m still planning to give it away and I’m taking entries right up until midnight tomorrow. Then I’ll draw a winner on Thursday morning and announce it right here, so tune in then. All you have to do is leave me a comment telling me which your favorite e-reader is. Again, I’ve had to put a $100 limit on it, but there are a lot of great e-readers out there for $100 and less. The Kindle and the Nook and Kobo can all be had for $100. I don’t particularly have any preference among the e-reader. I have both Nook and Kindle apps on my Droid phone and enjoy both. I’m sure when the Kobo app becomes available, I’ll get that one too!

In the meantime, get your Yule log ready because Winter Solstice is December 22. The darkest day of the year, it’s been honored by celebrations for years. After all, every day after gets brighter and longer!

P.S. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for my guest Cristal Ryder. Cristal writes red-hot romances, and I’m very interested in finding out how she names the characters in them!

New Giveaway Begins! Plus: Five Romantic Gifts for Your Spouse (and some of them are surprisingly practical!)

Black Friday is done and now we have cyber Monday coming up. Tis the season. By the way, if you actually went out into the maelstrom of Black Friday, let me know. I’d love to hear about it. It occurred to me that many of you, however, might not have any good ideas for that special someone in your life. It’s tough being romantic, isn’t it? Jewelry, flowers, etc. get tiresome. Anyway, here are a few gifts I’ve either given to or received from my wonderful husband over the years that at first sight might not seem romantic but really are:

5. K-cup Coffeemaker. Yep. This one may have saved our marriage. Seriously. He likes lighter tasting coffee. I like really bold, dark coffee that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. The joy of compromise with a plug!

4. Personal Grocery Shopping! This may actually be one of my favorite “gifts” ever. For a fee, I go online, place my order for groceries from my favorite grocery store and my personal shopper does all the work. Then I swing by with my carload of kids and pick them up. In some cases, you can prepay the fee for your significant other so she/he won’t feel weird about using the service.

3. Piano/Dance/Horseback riding lessons. What has your partner always dreamed of doing but never had the chance? The important thing here is not to just give him or her the certificate for lessons. Make sure you give them the time to do it, too! And if it’s piano or something else that makes noise, prepare yourself for some hours of not so great musical entertainment.

2. Gift certificates. What? Did I just say that? You’d be surprised how romantic this one can be, though. You see, I love almost everything in the Sundance Catalog that I get every month. Jewelry, clothes, boots, etc. If I were skinny enough to be one of their models, I would be a happy woman. My husband knows how I feel about Sundance, and he could easily just pick something from the catalog. However, he also knows that often something in particular will catch my eye and since (as he has often told me), he is not a mind reader, a gift certificate for my favorite non-essential catalog is often a better choice.

1. E-Reader. Yup. You got it. You knew this one was coming. But did you know THIS was?

ANNOUNCING! MY SECOND ANNUAL E-READER GIVEAWAY!

In honor of the gift-giving season and my recent good news about Carina Press and the release of my second book WINTER SOLSTICE, I’m giving away an e-reader. How do you enter the giveaway? Leave me a comment telling me what kind of e-reader you’d like me to give away. I wish I could tell you I would give away a Kindle Fire or an iPad, but for the purposes of this giveaway, I’m limiting it to e-readers that cost $100 or less. You can get some pretty good e-readers for $100. The Nook and the Kobo start at $99, the Kindle at $79.

You have until December 21 at midnight to throw your name into the hat. I’ll make the announcement on December 22. In case any of you don’t know the significance of the date, it’s the winter solstice!

Romance Girls Gone Goblin Halloween Blog Hop Begins! Prizes Galore!

And so it begins.

The Romance Girls Gone Goblin Blog Hop kicked off first thing this morning and I, of course, was unprepared. I have two kids class parties to attend today, plus my favorite art gallery is having a party tonight, so I had to get dinner into the crockpot. But now I’m here, and I have a grand thirty minutes set aside to update my blog.

I wracked my brains to figure out what to write about for Halloween, and I kept coming back to my work-in-progress. It’s half ghost story, half romance, and I’m working hard to get the creepy edge just right. It’s been a while since I’ve written anything close to horror, but I’m rediscovering my love of the genre. Anyway, in honor of Halloween and Romance Girls Gone Goblin, I thought I’d give you just a taste of one of my chilling scenes before getting to the good stuff (my giveaway).

Natalia.

A whisper, somewhere just outside the range of hearing. Was it a memory or something more?

…Natalia…

The light breeze from the heavy night breathed over her skin, heating instead of cooling the drops of sweat. She welcomed its touch, tilting her head back and lifting her mass of auburn hair.

Yes…come to me…

How she’d made it outside, she didn’t know. Pain pricked the skin of her legs. She’d stumbled through something, scraping them in the process. Sharp sticks? Barbed wire? She couldn’t tell, but the blood running down her calves felt hotter than it should, almost fevered.

But he was there. Wherever she was, he was there. More than a large, dark shadow now, she could feel him hard against her as he pulled her into massive arms, lowering his lips to hers. He tasted salty, as if his skin was covered with seawater, and she recoiled.

Natalia…

Now that I’ve whet your appetite for all things spooky romance, here’s my offering:

Included in this giveaway are a tote bag with the cover of WINTER SOLSTICE on one side and SECRETS OF THE LOTUS on the other, a paperback copy of Hyprink’s The Best of All Sins: Stories of Love & Heartbreak featuring my award-winning story LIFE AFTER, a $25 iBooks gift card and some swag, including the beautiful postcard my friend Shannon LuQuire of Trade Ideas, Inc. put together for me with blurbs of my two published books and a sneak peek at my as-yet-unpublished book THE SIXTH FOLD. Sorry, the pumpkin is not included as it belongs to my daughter!

Two steps to win!
1. Follow my blog. (Humor me. I know you won’t always read all my posts, but every now and then I do come up with some cool stuff, and I’ve got some great stuff planned for December, including another giveaway!) If you already follow my blog, you can skip this step.
2. Leave a comment on THIS post with your name and email address. I’ll throw your name into the hat.

Winner will be announced the morning of November 1. For a full list of participating blogs in this blog hop, check out Lisa Sanchez’s blog here: Lisa Sanchez. Lots of other giveaways out there! Good luck!

NOTE: I’ve added an Email Subscription button to the top left column (just above the HONEOWP updates). This should make it easier for you guys to subscribe and become eligible for the giveaway!

What Makes a Super-Couple? A Study of Soap Opera Characters

Hi. My name is Michelle and I am a soap opera addict.

Well, I’m addicted to one soap in particular. Days of Our Lives. My mom watched it when I was a toddler playing in the living room with blocks and baby dolls. I took a brief hiatus during elementary school (although I did enjoy it when I was sick), and then the advent of the VCR and then the DVR allowed me to become re-addicted. Nowadays, I watch it on Hulu while I’m on the treadmill. I almost never miss an episode.

It’s exciting times in soap opera world. You’re either fixing your formula so you can compete with the talk show hosts or you’re getting cancelled. Days, or DOOL as my fellow addicts and I affectionately refer to it, has chosen the first, and far more preferable, route. After years of sub-par plots, untalented (and very young) actors and a startling preference for violence over romance, the Powers-That-Be seem to be listening to the fans. They’ve pared down the cast to the most talented, and now they’re bringing back some old fan favorites and giving some others more meaty storylines.

This all got me thinking. Soap operas, at least since the eighties, have been known for creating “super-couples”. These are the couples in soaps who are truly together “until death do they part.” If you’re a fan of soaps, you know these couples are never going to be torn apart, no matter what. Well, sometimes they get divorced or accidentally fall in love with somebody else for a while, but only if they think the other one is dead while they’ve really only been kidnapped. Or maybe they did die but were brought back to life for nefarious purposes by an evil genius. Either way, love will conquer all in the end.

But what makes these couples so indestructible? How do they have such powers for forgiveness and love that they can overcome finding someone else in their spouse’s bed after they’ve fought their way out of a dungeon to get home? I’ve come up with a (sort of) formula for this, just in case anybody out there would like to attempt to replicate this heaven on earth in real life.

First, they must both be incredibly attractive, but probably in different ways. For instance, the woman is a debutante or a professional while the man is sort of a diamond in the rough. A nice scruffy beard is a plus, but just a permanent five o’clock shadow will do. And while the woman is absolutely clueless (at least at first) as to the effect she has on the man, the man should definitely believe he is God’s gift to women. (If there are any guys out there reading this, this attitude most definitely does not work in real life. Trust me, you won’t be able to pull it off like an outwardly alpha/hidden beta male can.)

Second, the man must be an alpha male, but with a tender side that the woman uncovers by accident. He’s often brusque and rude, especially in her presence, but if given the opportunity, he will save little children and kittens (accidentally in her presence).

Third, our couple must experience an element of danger. Life-threatening (mostly for her) danger is best, and if it can be brought about by him, all the better.

Finally, the woman must be so attracted to the man, she will never, ever give up on him. Even when he’s rude and endangers her life, she will turn a blind eye and a deaf ear. After all, she knows there is more to this guy. She’s witnessed his bravery when small children and kittens are at stake. And besides, the five o’clock shadow is too sexy to leave.

On second thought, I don’t think I would recommend reproducing these characteristics in real life. However, if you’d care to live in a fantasy for a while, try reading a romance or two. Like these:

Excerpt from SECRETS OF THE LOTUS:
Josie let him take her hand. “No, I guess not. How do you know for sure when somebody can’t hurt you anymore?”

Dan’s thumb moved gently over the backs of her fingers in an absent but comforting gesture. “I suppose it’s when you no longer feel like they have the ability to reach into your chest and grab hold of your heart.”

“I’m not sure I ever felt that way about Eric.”

“You’re lucky.” He was still looking at her hand.

“Then you have?” She was surprised, she had to admit. She hadn’t thought he ever let women get that close to him.

Dan dropped her hand abruptly. “Only once. We should go before I get a parking ticket.”

Startled, Josie watched as he pulled on a sweatshirt and headed to the door.

“Coming?”

“Sure, yeah.” She picked up her bag. “Sorry.” She followed him, wondering which of his many conquests had elicited such intensity of feeling from him and if that woman fully appreciated
what she’d left behind.

Excerpt from WINTER SOLSTICE:
“Has anyone ever told you you’re very sexy when you’re feeling guilty?” John asked.

Becky looked up to find him smiling. With a rush of violence, she wanted to hit him. In fact, she did raise her hand to strike him, but he forestalled that by stepping forward, one arm sliding around her waist, the other hand behind her head, pulling her to him, his lips first gentle on hers, then more demanding. As she relaxed in his arms, he drew her even closer, the hand behind her head sliding down to the nape of her neck in the lightest of caresses.

It was the first time they’d kissed in nearly two weeks. It felt incredible to be in his arms again. She realized how much she had missed being with him and reveled in the heat between them, wanting more, but knowing this embrace would have to end.

He released her with obvious reluctance, tapering off the one long passionate kiss to several slow and deliberate kisses, finally stopping completely.