Busy, busy: Sales, Deals, and Upcoming Releases from Sarah Madison

Time Turner Melanie Tata: flickr creative commons

Time Turner Melanie Tata: flickr creative commons

Whew! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I could use Hermione’s Time Turner device.

I’ve got so much going on right now, it’s hard to keep up. First: let me share a few limited specials with you:

Dreamspinner Press is currently holding a 25% off sale on all paranormal titles until Oct 31st–which means most of my stories are on sale right now!

Even more exciting, however, is the fact that this weekend only, you can snag a copy of Crying for the Moon for only 99 cents as part of Dreamspinner’s Weekend Reads deal! I do love this tale of Alex and Tate, struggling to find out what ‘normal’ means in a world of vampires, werewolves, and shifters. I’ve been saying for years I intend to write more in that universe, and I do, but see the note above about the Time Turner device.

CryingMoonI definitely want to tell the story of how Nick and Peter met, however, and I have wicked, terrible plans for Tate, too. *rubs hands together with an evil grin*

I’m currently winding up edits on my holiday story with Dreamspinner, called Holiday House Swap. In it, reclusive snarky author Noah Finley battles a professional crisis and writer’s block by arranging a house swap for Christmas, only someone forgot to tell the real owner about it! Major Connor Harrison faced retirement or dishonorable discharge due to his actions to save a buddy overseas–the last thing he expects to find in his house when he returns is a sharp-tempered, wickedly funny writer.

I look forward to being able to share that story with you soon!

I’m also beginning edits on the expanded version of Unspeakable Words. This was the first major story I’d ever released, and as the series has grown over the years, I realized there were things I wanted to delve into deeper detail with the original story. I’m very excited about being able to revisit the beginning of Flynn and Jerry’s story, as well as a relaunch of the series (hopefully after the first of the year)! As soon as I finish these edits, I’ll be writing the final installment in the Sixth Sense series. The entire set is on sale right now with the Dreamspinner Paranormal sale, so if you’ve been thinking about starting the series, you should grab them now!

I’m also working on a short epilogue to Fool’s Gold, available only to those who sign up for my newsletter. There’s still plenty of time to sign up, so be sure to do so if you want the latest updates and exclusive material!

And I’m working on several other stories for different projects at the moment as well–which leads me back to the opening paragraph! Man, I’d love a Time Turner!





Book Tour and Giveaway: Tempting Tristan by Melissa Foster

Tempting Tristan (A Sexy Standalone M/M Romance)
Series: Harborside Nights
Author: Melissa Foster
Release Date: October 19, 2016
Tempting Tristan is a stand-alone M/M romance featuring two sexy, hot alphas.
Fresh off the heels of yet another bad relationship, Tristan Brewer is taking a break from men to try and figure out where he keeps going wrong. He knows his biggest fault–he leads with his heart, not his head–and that’s never going to change. But after several introspective weeks, he’s beginning to get a handle on things. That is, until badass heartthrob Alex Wells walks into his bar…
Alex has spent eight years in the Army, months in a hospital bed, and far too long hiding his sexual identity. He’s guilt-ridden, damaged, pissed off, and up for a Silver Star–for the incident that nearly cost him his life, and kept him from his grandmother’s funeral. But all he wants to do is forget his stint with the institution that allows but doesn’t necessarily accept, and live the life he’s always dreamed of.

The chemistry between Tristan and Alex ignites from the moment they meet, and the more time they spend together the hotter the flames become. But the closer Tristan gets, the more Alex’s walls go up, and when the two walk onto a military base, Tristan finds out Alex’s physical scars aren’t the ones that run the deepest.
HARBORSIDE NIGHTS is a sexy, hot, and evocatively real series of stand-alone romances that follows a group of friends who have known one another for years as “summer” friends, and now come together after college to build their lives. They’re tough, edgy, and accepting–most of the time. This series is written in the same loving, raw, and emotional voice readers have come to love by New York Times & USA Today bestselling, award-winning author Melissa Foster with LGBT themes.


“Melissa Foster is synonymous with sexy, swoony, heartfelt romance!” New York Times Bestseller Lauren Blakely

“With her wonderful characters and resonating emotions, Melissa Foster is a must-read author!” New York Times Bestseller J. Kenner

We step forward at the same time, and he presses his rough hand to my cheek. “I don’t know what kind of pussies you went out with before, but I wanted to fucking claim you in there.”

He slides a hand around my waist, tugging our bodies together. I feel every hard inch of him, and he’s got me so hot I’m sure we’re going to combust.
“I’ve spent almost nine years hiding who I am, and I’m not willing to do it anymore,” he says through clenched teeth. “Not here, where I came to start over. Where I came to live on my terms without the goddamn military hanging over my head.”
“I have no interest in hiding,” I assure him.
“You’re sure? Because I really want to kiss you right now, and I don’t care who sees us.”
I respond by pulling his mouth to mine, my break from men long forgotten. We stumble backward, crashing into the railing, fighting for dominance as we did yesterday morning. The passion between us has a life of its own. My hands claw over his ass, up his back. I want to strip him down and take all of him. I want to discover why he’s so rough and learn what about those shadows that are lurking behind his gorgeous eyes. Instead I take, and give, and take more of the angry kisses. When we finally tear our mouths apart, my body’s still reeling, and we both curse under our breaths.
“Okay?” he pants out.
I nod, knowing if I open my mouth, I want to fuck you, is going to come out.

“Can I ask you something? You don’t have to answer.”

Tristan shrugs. “Have at it.”

“Why were you taking a break? I get that your ex was a prick, but is there more to it?”
He looks down the street, across the street, and then his hand cruises through his hair as it has so often that I’ve already come to expect it when he’s nervous.

“Ian was a prick, but the rest is going to make me sound like a pussy,” he admits.

“I’ve only known you a day, and I already know nothing can make you sound like a pussy.”

He meets my gaze, and his jaw tightens. He lifts his chin and I recognize the struggle between feeling proud and worrying about looking weak. I fight that battle on a daily basis.
“I give away my heart too easily, and I end up getting hurt.”
His eyes never leave mine, and that trust, that confidence, is the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen.
“I was right. Nothing can make you sound like a pussy.” I slide my hand to the hard ridge of his jaw and lean in closer. “I’ve never given my heart away. That makes you braver than me.”
Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance, new adult romance (M/F, M/M, F/F), romantic suspense, thrillers, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic and always family oriented. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the World Literary Café. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success.
Melissa has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Her interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping others see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.
Melissa is available to chat with book clubs and welcomes comments and emails from her readers. Visit Melissa on Facebook or her personal website.

Never miss a brand new release, special promotions or inside gossip again by simply signing up to receive your newsletter from Melissa.


The Number One Rule of Writing: Have Fun!

sorrow-and-worry-1434786-1918x1274I’ve been away from the keyboard for a while. The week before last, I was on vacation, and then I came home with a nasty respiratory bug that has knocked me flat for several days.

As per my norm when I’m ill, I tend to enter a weird shadow zone of ginger ale and crackers, comfort reads and cheesy television shows from the past. I don’t want anything that requires too much concentration. I don’t want anything that is going to blindside me or hurt. I read or watch TV until I doze off, sleep as long as I need (or until one of the dogs wakes me to go out), then get up, get a little something to eat and drink, and do it all over again.

As long as I don’t have to work while I’m sick, more and more these days, I don’t want the cycle of reading and snoozing to end. I am constantly on the go, and sometimes it seems nearly everyone’s needs come before my own. I’ve come to enjoy sick days. Once I get over how much time I’ve wasted being sick, I find I wish I could continue lying on the couch, binge-watching old television shows and reading favorite books.

Not all of the old favorites hold up to the test of time. Sometimes I reach for something I loved as a teenager and wonder what was I thinking when this was a favorite thing of mine. But there’s a common thread through most of my favorite entertainments: they know how to have fun.

Not just outright humorous stories, mind you. I rarely find the typical comedy shows funny. No, what I mean is a story or show that doesn’t take itself too seriously. That knows its premise is ridiculous and doesn’t mind poking fun at it. Bonus points if the *characters* themselves take it seriously–that just adds a delicious layer of irony to the whole process. Even the more serious shows, such as the gritty crime dramas I love, know when to place a ‘silly’ episode in between three or four more intense ones.

And after several days of re-reading and re-watching these old classics, one thing struck me about my current WIPs: I’m not having fun with them.

I’ve started and abandoned four stories in the last year–very unlike me. The first dealt primarily with job burnout, and whoa! Too close to home. I just couldn’t finish it. Not now. Maybe never.

The second is a Regency I’m revamping, adding in more secondary characters and fleshing out the backstory of the MCs. I love Regencies, but this isn’t my period or my forte. I know there are people out there who do this sort of thing better than I will and they already have an audience. Part of me wonders if it even makes sense for me to write this story when it’s not part of my ‘brand’.

The third is a contemporary story in which one of the MCs is a former solider and an amputee. It’s important that I get the details right, which means lots of research. Again, there are people who do this sort of thing better than I do. That’s not to say I’m afraid of hard work, just that again, is it part of my brand? I don’t really know. My ‘brand’ is all over the place, to be honest. I tend to write what I want to write when I want to write it. Perhaps a little more discipline and development of a recognizable brand would be useful.

The fourth is a major departure for me: set in the 1950s and dealing with an agency that investigates paranormal events (you read the part where I said my brand was all over the place, right?). Oh, yes, and instead of male/male romance, it would be more along the lines of a traditional romance, perhaps even with the sex scenes fade-to-black. It’s been so important to me to get the heroine right that it dawned on me the other day that the story has bogged down–and it took being sick and bingeing on my favorite stories of all time to see that I’m not having fun with this, either. I’ve been tossing obstacles at my heroine left and right in order to justify her attitude, and really, the fact she’s a woman in the 1950s who desires to be more than a housewife or secretary is enough of an obstacle right there. At least 25 K of what I’ve written so far needs to be scrapped. And what could be more ridiculous than Ward and June Cleaver meets the X-Files, which is how I refer to this story? I should expand on the wackiness here, not try to dress it up like a serious story. It was a relief figuring this out, let me tell you.

oh-these-photographers-1430111-1600x2400So yeah, first law of writing: have fun. Write what you want to write, not what you think will sell. Cross genres. Hell, mix them up. Don’t take yourself–or your characters so seriously. Sure, do the research (you have to respect the genre and the character) but don’t belabor it to the point of tedium. If it bores you, it will bore your reader as well. Let your wild creative side out to play. Sometimes you have to write 25 K to realize who your character is. Sometimes you have to write 25 K to realize who your character is not. Either way, they aren’t wasted words. Don’t dole out your sentences like each one is a precious heartbeat you can never get back again. Words are more like Doritos. We can make more. We can also trim them when they don’t fit the story we’re trying to tell. So don’t be afraid to be outrageous. You can always ‘tone it down’ in edits. When I look at which of my stories were wildly popular compared to others, they are usually the ones where I let it rip, threw in every trope but the kitchen sink, and in general said, “Yeah, I know this isn’t grand literature, but it’s fun.”

Have more fun with your writing. If you’re having fun, your readers will too. That doesn’t mean you need to turn every story (or piece of art, or whatever your medium is) into a 1930s screwball comedy. Some people find horror fun–I’m not one of them but I’m all for whatever floats your boat and makes you happy. These days, I think we could all use a little more fun in our lives.

The Value of Your Tribe…

the-gang-is-all-hereFor some time now, I’ve suspected the need to categorize people into Us and Them is something that’s deeply ingrained in human nature. When you think about it, survival pressure has probably selected for those of us who have the ability to organize ourselves in communities, since those who live in groups have increased survival rates. But the flip side of this benefit is the tendency to see everyone that is not Us as Them. It’s as though we’re constantly playing a game of “What’s Wrong with This Picture?” only the consequences of saying “You don’t belong” has gone far beyond kids sorting themselves into Jocks and Nerds. That process itself is not innocuous either: there are real consequences to bullying and being ostracized. But that’s just one end of a spectrum that includes racism, homophobia, misogyny, sports team rivalry, and more.

john-and-rodney-hanging-outIn the past, not being part of a tribe could get you killed–but the process of sorting you into a tribe can be an anxious one. I think J.K. Rowling got it right when she depicted the competition and tension between Houses at Hogwarts, and the concern Harry had about being sorted into the ‘right’ house.

In the aftermath of 9/11, the rhetoric I heard on the television and radio was all Us against Them. So much so, I stopped listening to commercial radio altogether. I have to rely on friends (and YouTube) to introduce me to new music and artists because I simply couldn’t bear to hear what was coming out of the announcers’ mouths. For the most part, I stopped watching the news as well. I still have a fairly low tolerance for both, and mostly listen to my iPod.

Fast forward 15 years: this election has been one of the most polarizing Presidential races I can recall. People are drawing lines in the sand and standing by their candidate no matter what. In fact, at a recent gathering of friends this past weekend, we had to declare a ‘no politics’ rule. Not because I don’t think we could have discussed the current race without coming to blows, but mostly because we’re all so sick of it and we were there to get away for a few days. But the subject of Us against Them came up, and it struck me that this mindset was so deeply rooted in all of us that probably the ONLY thing that would unite us as one people on this planet would be the threat of an alien invasion or the threat of another pandemic–which is a nightmare for another day.

oh-captain-jackSometimes, in my fear of the hatred and hostility I see out there, I forget the value of having tribes. The importance of finding *your* tribe, the place where the people get you. The people with whom you can be your real self.

I had that experience this past week. Once a year, I get together with some friends for what we call “Squee Weekend.” We come from all over the world to laugh, talk, watch movies, drink wine, eat food, and share what we love and the things we are passionate about. Over the years, the group has grown in size and expanded from a long weekend to a full week. We joked about how the name would soon become Squee Fortnight, and then Squee Month, only to grow into Squee Season, and so on.

Most of us are writers. Some of us knit. Others do crafts. Others are whiz bangs at computer tech. It’s rare that I come home without having learned something about a new-to-me social media platform, or how to podfic, or discover a fantastic story because someone shared it with the group.

raincheck-bookmark-decoratedThe best part is that because the group is so organic, we can gather in the main conference room to discuss topics of interest (such as some of the things I learned at Writer’s Police Academy this year) or we can subdivide into smaller groups to watch a television show or brainstorm with someone about the story we’re working on. The person on my left could be filling in the pages of a coloring book while listening to the discussion on the degree to which sex is necessary to romance stories, while the person on the right might be pulling up a link to an editing website they wanted to share. Someone might be upstairs baking brownies to bring down later, while another group might be sitting around the fire discussing stories they wish someone would write. One of my friends is a talented crafter, and every year she helps me create decorated bookmarks to give away at conventions. Another is into journals, another into jewelry-making, and so on. I can sit with someone and learn how about their passions while having meaty conversations about the art of storytelling.

A few years ago, a bunch of us were sitting together, clicketedy-clacking away on our laptops, when one of the Squee Members looked up and said, “Ah. The sound of my people.”

on-the-gateWe all laughed, but it was because it was true.

That is not to say that there is never any friction between the members of your tribe. You put a bunch of writers in a room together and they are torn between socializing with people who understand the writing process and the frequent need to go some place quiet and decompress for a while. And though we are all walking the fine line between being introverts and extroverts (because anyone who shares their art is an extrovert to some extent), we have strong opinions and tend to bridle easily on certain subjects.

That said, when push comes to shove, we still recognize our tribe when we see it. It’s like that Firefly episode, Safe, when the villagers wanted to burn River at the stake for being a witch. You cheer when Mal demands her release, saying, “Yeah, but she’s our witch.”

Wraith Photobomb

Wraith Photobomb

I can’t think of many people with whom I could announce I’m going outside to take pictures of action figures, only to have someone say, “Let me get my camera and join you.” Maybe it’s a little weird for a middle aged woman to be rolling up her jeans so she can wade in the pool while re-enacting a scene from a television show. My particular brand of weird isn’t everyone’s brand, either. But a tribe mate merely nods and tells you when the brownies will be out of the oven.

The only bad thing about Squee Weekend is the depression that comes when it’s over for the year. The link between us is elastic, however, and stretches across time and space as we make our way home, only to pull us back again the following year. Because, yeah. Our tribe.


The Elephant in the Room that the Diet Industry is Ignoring



At the beginning of last month, I posted a little rant about an article I’d read, which suggested ways in which the ‘average’ person could easily lose weight throughout the day. I found the article so ludicrous, so not in keeping with the daily lives of most ‘average’ people I know, that I felt I had to say something.

I got that off my chest (with a fair amount of bad language on my part), but I’ve been thinking about it ever since. You know, the diet industry has a vested interest in making us feel bad about our appearance. So-called fitness magazines frequently feature models so nonathletic and frail-looking it’s hard to believe they could complete a single set of exercises they’re depicted performing. Their articles claim to help the reader to lose an unbelievable amount of weight in a ridiculously short period of time. Again and again. At some point you have to wonder if these ‘tips’ and fad diets were so successful, why does the next magazine come out with a new suggestion the following month? In fact, you have to kind of admire the whole set up: let’s make people feel bad about their appearance and then let’s persuade them to spend lots of money trying to live up to unrealistic ideals, only to have them fail and come back to spend more money. Clever, eh?

I read a statistic today from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and that said two thirds of every American are either overweight or obese. Why does this seem to be a uniquely American problem? I would have to say it’s multi-factorial. It probably has a lot to do with the abundance of fast food and processed food, both of which are cheaper than fresh clean foods you have to prepare yourself. One of the things I discovered on a trip to the UK was how much healthier much of the food is there. For one thing, they don’t allow all the additives that are considered a matter of course here in the US. Then there’s the difficulty of finding the time and energy to prepare healthy food when you’re always on the run. Not to mention exercising, for heaven’s sake.

Just this morning, I took an online ‘test’ to determine my ‘metabolic age’ based on a few questions. Of course, once I took it–and received the information that I was metabolically six years older than my given age–the whole thing was designed to scare me into buying into some program guaranteed to reverse this terrible condition, probably for three easy payments of only $19.99 each.

I think all of these health and fitness recommendations overlook one very important thing: the level of stress most of us are under every freaking day. It’s all very well to talk about willpower and increasing your metabolism, of getting up early and working out before breakfast, or eliminating all carbs, no wait, eliminate all meat, no… scratch that. Anyway, the one thing most of these lose-weight-fast and improve-your-health-in-12-easy-steps programs seem to overlook is that most of us are walking around with adrenal glands the size of cantaloupes from all the stress we’re under.

sleeping cat freeimage.com

sleeping cat freeimage.com

I don’t know about you, but I have to fight hard to get seven precious hours of sleep a night. You know what they say about lack of sleep? Among other things, it makes it easier for you to gain weight. Lack of sleep also ravages your immune system, and driving while sleep-deprived is every bit as reckless as driving while under the influence.

Then there’s the average work day in America. You think it’s eight hours, right? Well, I can’t tell you the last time I worked nine to five. More like eight to six or longer. A forty hour work week? Don’t make me laugh. I’ve worked sixty plus hours a week for years and I didn’t get paid overtime because I was on salary, not hourly employment. Add to that the fact the job itself is stressful, and you get the triple whammy: you’re eating junk food on the run and you’re eating to keep moving AND your own stress hormones are both demanding you eat more and storing everything you eat as fat. When your entire day is one long ‘flight or fight’ mode and you do neither, the constant influx of cortisol in your body with no outlet does bad things to you. And this makes it ten times harder to do anything about your weight.

Unfortunately, stress in America seems to be a way of life. Our work day and work week is not likely to get any shorter. Our jobs are probably going to remain one of the biggest sources of stress in our lives. Most of us are also trying to balance raising a family and taking care of elderly parents as well. And I’ve said it before but the thing so many ‘experts’ seem to overlook is we’re all starving: emotionally, physically, financially. We’re all pinching and scraping and sacrificing–and to come home at the end of the day and deny ourselves something else seems like asking too much.

But you have to. At some point you have to say, “You know what? Yes, I probably deserve that second helping of lasagne, but I also deserve better health. And I have to choose.” At some point, you have to accept that your job/family life is stressful and that it’s not likely to change–but how you react to it is under your control. You can manage your stress in other ways besides eating. Meditate. Walk the dog. Ride bikes with the kids. Hell, talk to the kids, for some other reason than to tell them to go clean up their room. For me, watching less television, spending less time on social media, and spending more time reading and doing quiet activities helps.

But cut yourself slack on the nearly Sisyphean task of losing weight. Because like any other goal you seek to achieve, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You’re going to have good days and bad days. Toss out the diet and fitness magazines, ignore the latest fad trends. Remember that most of those magazines aren’t even depicting images of real people–they’ve been Photoshopped into unrealistic standards.

Take a deep breath. Maybe the most important thing today isn’t the number on the scale or whether your thighs rub together when you walk. Maybe it’s the fact you made someone smile, or you played with your dog, or you solved that really challenging problem at work. Let’s not make your weight one more thing to stress about. It’s not the most important thing about you.

Rogue Soldier: Book Tour, Interview & Giveaway with Jamie Lynn Miller

rogue-soldier-banner-smallBefore we get down to business, I totally forgot that Fool’s Gold, my newest release about second chances in the exciting world of competitive sport horses, is on sale in US Amazon outlets for a limited time! The price will start creeping up slowly over time so hurry to get it at the best price possible!

But enough of me–Please welcome Jamie Lynn Miller as she joins us today to talk about her latest release, Rogue Soldier! This is book two of the Shadow Unit series, the followup to Broken Soldier.


Thanks for joining us here today, Jamie! Welcome to my blog and thank you for answering my nosy discerning, questions!  First, please tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you like to write. Would you say there is an underlying theme behind your stories?

Thank you so much for having me! Little bit about myself – I’m a 40-something graphic designer who loves my husband, my cats, science fiction, photography and of course, writing.

I would say the underlying theme of my stories is “Hearts and flowers romance with a bit of angst thrown in for good measure”.

But that statement changed pretty drastically with both Broken Soldier and Rogue Soldier. I believe in challenging myself as a writer and taking chances. And that’s what I’ve done here with my Shadow Unit series. These books are dark and gritty, more romantic suspense than contemporary romance. I want people to constantly wonder if Connor and/or Shawn will survive to the end of the book.

It’s a big change for me, and I hope that my regular readers will give this series a chance. Because even though it’s not my usual style, I am, and always will be, the Queen of Happy Endings. I will put my boys through hell, but love and dedication will always put them back together again. So give it a try! You just might like it!

What part of the world do you call home? Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and where you live now?

I’ve lived a pretty boring life in that I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago and still live there today!

How long have you been writing? Did you write as a child or is it something you developed a passion for later in life?

I’d been writing short stories since I was a kid and I also had two English teachers in high school that really encouraged me. But didn’t get serious about it until the mid-90’s when I started writing fanfic.

What gave you the courage to submit your first story to a publisher?

I got tired of hearing how bad all fanfic was, that fanfic writers had no talent. I took it as a challenge and decided to give going pro a shot. And what do you know, my very first book was accepted to a publisher on my very first try. Take that, fanfic haters!

I see you write M/M fiction. Would you characterize your stories as M/M romance, erotica, or something in between?

My new Shadow Unit series is romantic suspense and the rest of my books are contemporary romance.

What draws you to the M/M genre? Have you written in other genres?

This goes back to my fanfic days as well. I started off writing m/f fic and then by complete accident ended up reading my very first m/m story. To say it was a life changing experience would be an understatement! LOL! My eyes were opened and I jumped ship to the m/m world and have never looked back.

Are you a panster or a plotter?  Do you outline extensively or write your story as you go along?

I’m a big time plotter. My outlines are extensive, like pages long. So that takes up a good chunk of time before I even write the first word of the book. But then because I have done such detailed outlines, the writing of the actual book flows pretty easily after that.

Of the stories you’ve written, which one do you like the most? Which one would you recommend a new reader begin with?

Oh gosh, that’s like choosing your favorite child! LOL! But if I absolutely had to pick I would choose Burnin’ for You. I spent a couple of months in a fire academy class and used that experience to write the book. My firemen have a special place in my heart.

Most authors admit to feeling uncomfortable with the degree of self-promotion necessary to be successful. Are there some aspects of social media and self-promotion that make you more comfortable than others? Are there some you avoid like the plague?

I think the only thing I’m not really comfortable with is approaching reviewers. They make me nervous! Their word can either build me up or knock me down.

How often does your real life experience figure into your story telling? Do you base characters or stories on your actual experiences?

Oh yes, absolutely. It was actually my time spent in various citizen police and fire academy classes that inspired me to write nearly all of my books.

How much do you think that a good blurb and good cover art figure into the success of a story?

A LOT. If you can’t hook people with a few hundred words they won’t click on the BUY button. And a picture’s worth a thousand words, right? So I believe cover art is very important. And this is coming from a graphic designer who’s been doing advertising for over 20 years!

Do you miss your characters when you come to the end of their story? Do you find ways to write sequels for them or do you become entranced with a new set?

I do miss them! I’ve just spent sometimes a couple of months with them non-stop and suddenly they’re not talking in my head or appearing in my dreams. This was especially true with Connor and Shawn and probably why the idea for Rogue Soldier came to me so quickly after finishing Broken Soldier. And also why I’ve already started plotting out Book Three!

What are your writing goals for 2016?

My tag line is “Men in uniform…and out”. So far I’ve written cops, firemen, paramedics and now soldiers. I would like to tackle a Coast Guard book next. I’ve already started scribbling down notes.



Rogue Soldier (Shadow Unit Book 2

Shadow Unit may have overturned the illegal arms cartel in Kuala Lumpur, but the harrowing undercover op left emotional scars on Sergeants Shawn Weller and Connor Finley. Slowly, patiently, they piece their partnership back together, closer now than ever before.

But the arrival of Julian Montgomery, Shawn’s former CIA handler and lover, threatens to tear them apart. Julian knows all of Shawn’s secrets as well as the past Shawn has kept hidden from Connor. Now the self-serving Julian wants Shawn back—with the CIA and with him. No one will get in his way. Including Connor.

When the joint Shadow Unit/CIA mission to stop the supplier of a deadly biological weapon goes sideways, Connor is captured, tortured, and used as a human test subject. It’s a race against time to save his life. But who can Shawn trust?

And who has gone rogue?

Missed Shawn and Connor’s earlier adventures? Read BROKEN SOLDIER, available from your favorite retailer.



Once on the ground floor, Shawn assembled the unit around him, scanning for Connor’s face. Perhaps his comm was just malfunctioning and he didn’t hear Shawn. But he didn’t see his partner anywhere.

“Has anyone seen Finley?” Shawn snapped.

There were headshakes all around and Shawn’s concern intensified with each negative response. Where the fuck was Connor?

“I might have seen something.”

Shawn’s head whipped to the left, to pin Julian with his gaze. “What exactly did you see?” he demanded.

“I was coming down the stairs and saw two of Hamid’s men escaping through the front entrance,” Julian said. “They were dragging a third man between them. I assumed it was another of his men, who was injured. But now that you say Finley is missing… It could’ve been him.”

“And you didn’t think to try and stop them, no matter who the third man was?” Shawn spat, getting up in Julian’s face.

Julian shrugged. “I was too far away and they were nearly out the door,” he replied.

Shawn was furious at Julian’s blasé attitude but wasn’t surprised, since it concerned Connor. He was about to say something else when his comm crackled and MacDonald’s voice cut in. “Shadow One, send sit-rep.”

“Alpha. Shadow Two. We have secured the facility and have several prisoners,” Shawn began. “Shadow One is currently unaccounted for. Request immediate GPS location of his cell phone.”

After a long pause, Liam responded. “Shadow Two, GPS location of Shadow One shows him at your current location. Approximately ten meters to your north.”

Ten meters north would put Connor outside. Shawn set off at a fast jog to the front of the building, his heart starting to beat faster the closer he got to the door. Was Connor lying out there injured, possibly dying? Or being held hostage with a gun to his head?

He burst through the door and froze, his rifle up and at the ready, Mandy and Chloe right behind him. All three began looking in every direction, trying to peer through the darkness of the night. When Connor wasn’t immediately within sight, Shawn turned to Chloe and Mandy. “Spread out,” he told them and headed to the left while Chloe went straight ahead and Mandy to the right.

“Where the fuck are you, Finn?” Shawn muttered, his chest tightening with ever increasing worry as he searched the area, unable to find his partner.

“Shawn! Over here!” Mandy called out over the comm.

Shawn reversed direction and ran to Mandy’s position. She pointed in front of her, brows drawn together in concern.

There, lying on the ground, were Connor’s tactical vest, comm earbud and phone, next to a fresh set of tire tracks.

Shawn felt his heart seize up as he looked out into the dark.

Connor was gone.



AMAZON: http://tinyurl.com/jpznqp3

ARe: http://tinyurl.com/zu5fv8w

KOBO: http://tinyurl.com/jb364ck

SCRIBD: http://tinyurl.com/jaevs8t



Jamie Lynn Miller has been writing fiction since childhood and decided to take the plunge and go pro in 2008, finding to her amazement that people truly enjoyed her love stories. She’s a romantic at heart, and her tales reflect the desire we all have to find “the one,” persevering through trials and heartache for that happy ending.

Jamie has a degree in fine arts and has spent the last twenty years working as a graphic designer, though she’d much rather be writing. She was born in Chicago and still lives there today with her husband and their two furry, four-footed children, er… cats.

If she’s not brainstorming story ideas, you can find Jamie at a sci-fi convention, in front of a furnace doing glass blowing, or on a mat twisted into a yoga pose.



Email: jamielynnmiller@live.com

Blog: http://www.jamielynnm.wordpress.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jamielynn.miller.3



Leave me a comment (AND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS) for your chance to win a FREE copy of any of my backlist ebooks! Contest ends Saturday, October 1st.


Dear Entertainment Industry: A little hope, please?

candle by Q8y_dream Flickr Creative Commons

candle by Q8y_dream Flickr Creative Commons

Sometime toward the end of last year’s television season, I quit watching most of my shows. I work in an incredibly stressful profession. I describe it as life and death in a microcosm every fifteen minutes. I come home at the end of the day totally wiped out, with barely the energy to walk the dogs and cobble together some sort of dinner, which is often the first chance I’ve had all day to sit down and eat a meal.

One of the things I look forward to are my ‘must-see’ television shows, when the BF and I can relax, kick back on the sofa, and watch the next installment of whatever thrilling drama the entertainment industry has to offer.

But toward the end of the last mainstream television season, several things happened at once: many of my favorites went on hiatus or were cancelled. Of those that remained on my watchlist, many had become too intense, too dark for me to enjoy. I realized that 99% of everything I watched was incredibly violent. Storylines went from captivating to grim. Combined with my increasing anxiety over the upcoming elections and what the outcome could mean for the world as a whole, I felt as though I had to stop watching television and movies. At the end of the day, I didn’t need to be devastated by the death of characters or the destruction of everything I loved.

I took a hiatus. I read books. I watched old favorites. Thanks to the wonders of Netflix, I could re-watch old television shows that managed to entertain without nearly destroying me in every episode. I listened to music. I took up meditation.I walked the dogs. I began riding horses again. I wrote stories–a lot of stories. Sometimes when I heard friends discussing their favorite shows around the water cooler or on Facebook, I felt a little left out, but for the most part, I enjoyed my quieter evenings.

As the current fall TV season crept closer, I found myself getting excited about the returning favorites or the new possibilities. I watched a few episodes I missed in order to catch up with the season premieres, and I settled in to watching the first eps of the season.

After two such attempts, I complained to the BF that everything was horribly dysfunctional and dystopian. No one could be trusted. Teams betrayed each other and were broken up. Leaders were replaced by people that were evil and dangerous. Friends were forced to choose sides. Beloved characters were angry and vengeful. And I’m sick of it.

Worse, it’s not fun.

No, seriously, some of the franchises I’ve loved in the past have become so unrelentingly hopeless and dark that I Just. Can’t. Even.

Look, I get it.  We tend to write stories that reflect how we feel, and examine our fears and concerns. The mythology of werewolves is believed to have risen out of a need to explain serial killers. I recently read a study somewhere that suggested certain kinds of fiction arise in certain types of political atmospheres–and surely the rise of dsytopian and zombie apocalyptic fiction is a reflection of how angry–and terrified–so many of us are right now.

Hope: Steven Snodgrass Flickr Creative Commons

Hope: Steven Snodgrass Flickr Creative Commons

But I need hope. I need the possibility of a future that is better than my fears. One of the reasons Star Trek has had such an enduring fandom over the years is because Gene Roddenberry’s vision of our future was more hopeful than nearly every other sci-fi universe out there. In Roddenberry’s universe, we overcame our worst failings and inclinations. We solved the problems of how to feed people and create clean energy and how to embrace diversity without being terrified of it. Star Trek is about sending the best and brightest out as ambassadors for the human race. Sure, they were flawed, but week after week, they got the job done. Better yet, they inspired generations to be the very best human beings they could be, in the hopes that one day, they’d be good enough to be considered for the Enterprise crew.

At the risk of sounding like someone’s cranky old granny, I want that in my entertainment again. Sure, you can give me adversity to overcome–that embodies great storytelling to me. Yes, there must be conflict, otherwise it’s boring. But give me that happily ever after–or happy for now. End with a note of encouragement, a candle lit in the dark against the forces of evil. Maybe you don’t trust your team mates in the beginning because you don’t know them–but show us that trust building over time.

Because otherwise, you could end every story with “Rocks fall. Everyone dies.” And in a world where it seems increasingly likely that this is our future, I want a little fantasy, please.

So give me hope.


Galloping Toward the Finish Line

jumping-kSome of you might notice I haven’t been around much lately. I apologize, and want you to know I haven’t forgotten you–I’m just behind on my emails with a lot of catching up to do.

What have I been doing?

Well, I’ve been deep in edits on my upcoming Christmas story called Holiday House Swap. I’m so excited about this one, guys! It’s a fun little story about opposites attract when circumstances throw an in-the-closet writer and a forcibly retired Air Force major into frivolous circumstances. This one’s a feel-good story for the holidays, and should be out from Dreamspinner Press in December.

I’m also working like mad  on the next story–which I *must* finish before the first of the year: the next (and final) installment of The Sixth Sense series. I’m thrilled to announce that the entire series is getting a new look with new covers because I’m releasing an expanded version of the first story, Unspeakable Words! That’s right, Unspeakable Words will be coming out soon with extended scenes and the sorts of details everyone’s been begging for! I can’t tell you how pleased I am to be able to share this information with you!

Fool'sGold-400x600I’m also running a sale on Fool’s Gold soon (as soon as I can set it up). I’ll be offering an epilogue to the story–but it will be available only to those who sign up for my newsletter. I’ll make an additional announcement when I get that in place too! Which reminds me–Fool’s Gold is up for Book of the Week at Love Bytes Reviews! I know it doesn’t stand a chance of winning (I’ve seen the competition and it’s fierce!) but if you’d like to vote for it, the poll is at the link in this paragraph.

And I almost forgot! My monthly blog post is up at Author’s Speak at Rainbow Gate, where I discuss the dangers of comparing yourself to others. This doesn’t apply just to writing–the advice is applicable to everyone! Do drop in, check it out, and tell me what you think.

And work just called me in early… Whew! No wonder I’m distracted and am behind on my correspondence! I promise I’ll catch up soon, though!

Dear Weight Loss Experts: Tell It Like It Is

I had to laugh at this post I ran across this morning: 14 Easy Ways to Lose Weight All Day. I admit, I’m a sucker for these kinds of things. Easy weight loss! Sign me up!

I’m one of those people you probably hated when growing up. For most of my adult life, I’ve been at an ideal weight with little effort on my part. I could eat pretty much whatever I wanted and lived off cheeseburgers, Pepsi, and peanut butter crackers. I didn’t live for food–it was just something I ate when I got hungry. I didn’t even know what cellulite was until I hit my mid-forties. My hair grew so thick and fast, my stylist would jokingly tell me to stop putting Miracle-Gro on it. Lest you think I was one of the popular girls or thought I was the next Cindy Crawford, not true. I hated me too. I’d grown up hearing how homely and unattractive I was, thanks to Coke Bottle Lens glasses and a set of teeth only a gargoyle could love.

The point is, however, when middle-age and changing hormones finally caught up with me, I could no longer eat what I wanted and I hated everything deemed healthy. I’d never had a weight problem before, and so I didn’t know how to cope with the sudden spread. Hence my fascination with fitness magazines and diet information–most of which gets tossed out when said tips include things like eating Greek Yogurt and red peppers as a mid-day snack. BARF.

So, despite knowing better, I checked out the post. I found it full of helpful tips designed for women who live alone and don’t work for a living. Things like: 7 am: Do 2 minutes of jumping jacks, calisthenics, followed by 7:15 am cook a hearty breakfast, and 7:45 am hit the gym for some weight lifting…. I had to laugh because in this magical household, dishes don’t need to be washed and the gym isn’t a 20 minute drive away and there are no critters to feed or kids to put on the bus.

So I thought I’d create my own version of this advice post, with a more realistic outcome.

6:30 am: Hit snooze on the alarm. Because sleep is a damned precious commodity that you get very little of these days. You ignore the cat patting your eyeballs to see if you’re awake and hunker down under the blankets for ‘a few more minutes.’

7 am: Look at the clock and jump out of bed cursing. Leap around the room as you find clean clothing and dress in 2 minutes flat while the dogs bark and spin in circles in anticipation of breakfast. Feel good about your adrenaline rush. Remind yourself you’ve pre-made your lunch and that you have time to accomplish all the things you desire to do today.

7:02-7:30 am: Feed all the living creatures in the house except yourself. Walk dogs. Scoop litter boxes. If you leave up the baby gate to the litter box area, you can combine this activity with hip flexor stretches, but be careful not to fall over the gate and injure yourself. Pause to clean up vomit in the living room from the species of your choice.

tired-dont-care-despair-steve-carell-the-office-gif7:45 am: Consider cooking yourself a hearty breakfast but recall you haven’t been to the store yet this week and unless you can make an omelet out of cat food, you’ll have to settle for cereal. Convince yourself cereal is what you really want. Get bowl out of cabinet only to have work text you that they’ve added an extra appointment and now you have to be there a half hour earlier than expected. Swipe some peanut butter on a slice of bread and head out the door. Grab your previously prepared salad and your healthy snacks to take with you, feeling virtuous that you planned ahead.

glazed-doughnuts-recipe10 am: Completely and totally ignore the break room stuffed with baked goods: doughnuts glistening with glazed sugar. Fresh snickerdoodles. Bagels with cream cheese. M&M’s. You can eat your apple when you get a chance. Pat yourself on the back for being so virtuous. Of course, you aren’t going to get a break because you’re double booked this morning, but at least that will keep you out of the break room.

12:20 pm: Stomach growling, you wonder if it is close to lunch time yet. Realize you’re well into your lunch period but won’t be able to leave the building for the much-needed mental break. Eat your salad at your desk, (the first chance you’ve had to sit down all day) shooting surly looks at the constant interruptions to take this call or field this question. Vow you will take your full break tomorrow and actually leave the building.

the-little-shop-of-horrors-giant3 pm: Full-on hangry now. You’re Audrey from the Little Shop of Horrors. Work-stress has used up all your available blood sugar. You take a couple of bites of your apple but get interrupted. When you finally come back, the apple is brown. You say ‘screw it’ and get a doughnut. You stuff the whole thing into your face in a single bite because THAT’S ALL THE TIME YOU HAVE TO EAT IT.

6 pm: You’re just getting home. You now must feed all the living creatures in the house except yourself. You gauge the temperature outside to determine if it is too hot to walk the dogs. You know you must walk them before you eat or it ain’t happening. You love your dogs. If it weren’t for them you’d never get any exercise at all. But there are times when you wish they were cats and scorned the idea of exercise, period.

7 pm: Now suffering from decision fatigue (yes, that’s a real thing), you say SCREW IT and fix too much food for dinner. You try to stay healthy but that’s not what you want. You want meat and potatoes, damn it, with a whopping big dessert and a glass of wine. Hell, you’ll pour the wine right into the dessert. While eating dinner, you catch up on the day’s emails. You know you have a writing deadline but there simply isn’t any brain power left over from the day’s work.

8-10 pm: You watch two episodes of CSI:NY on Netflix, a show you didn’t like when it originally aired but now you’re too fried to give a shit and you don’t want to watch anything you care about.

10:20 pm: You take the dogs out one more time.

tiana-bed-flop10:30 pm: You get ready for bed because SLEEP IS A DAMNED PRECIOUS COMMODITY YOU GET VERY LITTLE OF. You pull out all the stops: shut off the electronics a hour before you want to close your eyes, take benadryl, take melatonin, take pain meds. You lie in bed hoping you don’t wake your partner because there is NO position that is even remotely comfortable. An hour later, you’re still awake but you’re hopeful you might fall asleep soon.

12:01 am: The phone rings. You have to get up and deal with the potential work-related emergency. This time, you don’t have to go in, but your chances of falling back asleep now are nil. You take a book out into the living room to read on the couch for a while. You try not to fret over the upcoming elections, climate change, and your own future. Or, if you don’t have a job that puts these kinds of after-hours demands on your life, insert your favorite teenaged family emergency/sick kid crisis here.

Okay, so I’m making some excuses here. But seriously, women’s health magazines–this is my life and I don’t even have children. It discounts those of us working full time jobs (and that seldom means 9-5 these days in the US) while taking care of elderly parents, young children, or both. It ignores the fact that most of us are so over-extended, so stressed, and so tired, there’s only fumes left in the tank. Your articles, while chipper and enthusiastic, aren’t even remotely realistic. I’d like to see a post that addressed some of these things. That’s all I’m asking. 🙂

In other (happier) news, I’m the featured Author of the Month over at the Paranormal Romance Guild–check out my interview and the reviews there!


Dear Internet: I Want My Life Back

cell-phone-2-1525544-1280x960Periodically, I decide I need to break up with the Internet.

It usually comes after a week fraught with huge blowups among my circle: meltdowns and high drama, like the exposure of a catfisher or outrage over someone/something that is Absolutely Wrong.

More and more these days, it comes as a result of feeling overwhelmed and anxious about the future of my country and the planet as a whole, especially when we’re constantly bombarded with images and messages that tell us to be afraid, be very afraid.

As Internet Addictions go, I don’t think my case is too bad (though isn’t that what all addicts say?). Sure, my boyfriend jokes about how I reach for my cell phone first thing in the morning, but that’s about a morning ritual of checking messages and my Twitter feed that allows me to spend another ten minutes or so in bed before I have to get up. No, really.

I don’t have Facebook on my phone. I don’t have a tablet. With the exception of Twitter, I don’t check any of my social media platforms on my phone–that waits until I’m seated at the computer.

But I do spend hours every day at the computer, circling social media sites looking for something interesting to read or start a conversation. I get online to ‘catch up’ and ‘unwind’ and the next thing I know, I’ve wasted most of the evening. Would I have been more productive if I’d stayed offline? Hard to say. Probably. But most days I’m so fried when I get home that faffling around on the internet is about all I’m good for.

Earlier in the week, I read this post by social media guru, Kristen Lamb. She talks about the fine balance between maintaining a social media presence online and losing five hours of your life to LOL cat videos. She has some good things to say about the way mindless tech use can kill your muse (not to mention your life in general). I read the post, nodding along, knowing I needed to institute some of the same measures mentioned. My friend Shira Anthony calls her tactics “Ninja Facebooking”, which is to log in, share some information, comment on a few posts, and get out again before the time sink effect kicks in. It’s a smart way of handling things, I think. By the way, she’s got a great new release upcoming up that’s available for pre-order now–Take Two from Dreamspinner Press. You should check it out.

Pokemon HoundsYesterday, while I was out with the dogs for a short run, I almost walked into a couple coming from the opposite direction. I looked up just in time before my muddy dogs and I plowed into them and I was horribly embarrassed that I hadn’t been paying attention. Why had I been so oblivious? Because I’d opened a game on my phone (ostensibly with the purpose of deleting it, only I started playing it instead) and I wasn’t even aware of their approach until it had almost become a social disaster.

Lately, I’ve been noticing just how much time I spend answering emails, sharing posts and tweets, and participating in online conversations… and I seriously believe that I do this far less than the average person. I’ve been noticing how much of the evening is devoted to sitting on the couch beside the boyfriend while we both tickety-tap away on our devices–me on Facebook or Live Journal, and him on Reddit or playing games. Just the other day, I met a man with a toddler who had very little verbal skills, but he was a demon on the smartphone. His little fingers flew over the screen, scrolling through images until he found the video he wanted to watch. The kid probably knew how to work his father’s smartphone better than I know how to use mine. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I don’t know. Perhaps it is a matter of trading one skill set for another, exchanging one form of learning for a new one. However, I can’t help but wonder about the scores of young adults I know with crippling social anxiety, and whether the willingness of the younger generation to put every aspect of their lives online for public scrutiny has anything to do with that.

I met with my critique group this morning, and toward the end of our conversation we began discussing how much online presence writers need today. Where the boundaries are. How much should we share. How much time to spend doing it. That sort of thing. To my surprise, my group members seem to think I’m some social media whiz-bang. We were discussing the success of my latest story, and my friends gave much of the credit to my marketing skills. I had to make the squinty–face at them because I’ve been doing about the same thing as always on the media front–the surprising success of Fool’s Gold was probably due to several factors but I don’t think my ability to ‘work it’ on social media had as much impact on sales as decisions I made on pricing and which platform to offer it in.

Yes, I post to Facebook and Twitter regularly, and I share other people’s posts, too. Yes, I post to the blog semi-regularly, but then I *like* writing blog posts. Nothing has changed in that regard since my previous book was released.

But I agreed with much of what they had to say. It resonated with many of the things I’d been thinking lately.

computer-keyboard-1188763So I sat down here with the firm resolution to write the Internet a Dear John Letter. I wasn’t going to ‘take a break’ because I found being online overwhelming. I wasn’t shutting off my browser so I could finish a WIP. I was going to make a full-fledged declaration that the Internet was bad for me and I needed to be strong and walk away. To take that time and spend it more wisely. To reconnect with the living things in my life on a daily basis. To live my life before I woke up one day and discovered it was over.

And then I read this post by The Bloggess, who put things a little in perspective for me. And I remembered that my online life has allowed me to stay in touch with people I’d never see otherwise. I’ve made friends all over the world. I’ve traveled to meet up with my online friends, too. Hell, I met my boyfriend online, and next month will mark eight years of our being together. We had a blast playing Pokemon Go together at a local street festival a few weeks ago (just wait until he finds out I caught a Pikachu!), too.

Even my critique group, with its bicoastal and international membership, originated out of online communities and we ‘meet’ via Skype. Last weekend, I attended Writer’s Police Academy–an organization I learned about from friends met online–and I met up with fellow authors there. I’ll be posting about my experiences at WPA in the future, but the point is I’m not going to be breaking up with the Internet at all. The Internet and social media aren’t inherently good or bad. They are tools, that’s all. And like any tool, we need to learn how to use them appropriately and with common sense.

I wouldn’t carry a hammer to a wedding (it’s not Game of Thrones, peeps!), nor out horseback riding or to the grocery store. But if I need to fix a fence or replace a board, I’m going to use one. Be smart. Turn off the device from time to time and check out the world around you. Don’t walk into hikers or off cliffs or into bears because you weren’t paying attention. Pay attention. Life is worth it.