Book Promotion & Marketing · Books

Free Kindle Downloads For Your Weekend!

I know it’s late and it’s probably the end of your Sunday where you are, but I’m still bleary-eyed as I sit in front of my laptop on a Sunday morning (9am) waiting for the caffeine withdrawal to hit.  So instead of making my personal pot of coffee first, I’m writing this post to let you know of a few free books you can download for your Kindle right now.  I also have the attention span of a 6-year-old at the moment (that’s what happens when you spend your days with one).

So, what’s free?  Of course, it’s my book, A Collateral Attraction: Fire & Ice Book 1!


And while you’re there, check out these other free books by my friends as well!

Invoke – A paranormal romance by Michele Hayes

Confessions of a Wedding Planner – a fun romantic romp by Michelle Jo Quinn

Pitch Black – a romantic thriller by Elise Noble

Books · loving ashe

A Perfect Weekend Read

I got so busy with all the rebranding and writing on my plate that I forgot about a  Kindle Countdown deal I had scheduled awhile back. Yes, Loving Ashe, Book 1 of the Celebrity Series, is on sale for 99 pennies for the next few days!


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So if you haven’t gotten your copy yet, now’s the time to get it.  You can read one of my favorite excerpts below.


“Does it bother you…people asking you for autographs and selfies?”

“There you go again,” Riley said. “Answering my question with a question.”

He smiled. “But you didn’t ask a question. You were wondering out loud if this would be the time to ask me if I’m famous.”

“Are you?”

He shrugged his shoulders. He’d stopped eating and Riley wondered if being recognized had somehow ruined his appetite. “Fame is relative. That woman may have recognized me, but then many others in this restaurant haven’t.”

“So you are famous,” Riley said. “Does it bother you that some people don’t recognize you?”

He shook his head. “No, and in fact, I prefer they didn’t. That way, I get to eat my noodles in peace and not worry about somebody taking unflattering pictures of me as I eat. Hopefully not with a noodle hanging from my mouth.”

“I’m sorry,” Riley said.

“It’s not your fault that some people can’t help themselves.”

Riley took a deep breath. The conversation seemed to drag his mood down. The smile was completely gone. “So, do you like it? Acting?”

“I do, yes,” he replied, the smile returning to his face. “I’ve been doing it now for the past ten years or so.”

Three giggling teenagers walked past them and Riley thought they were about to line up in front of him and ask for autographs. But the teen-agers were more engrossed in what was on their phones than the people around them and had settled themselves at the next table.

“Is this the part where I’m supposed to ask you what shows you’ve been on?” Riley asked.

He chuckled. “This is the part where you get to ask me whatever you want.”

Riley took a deep breath and thought for a moment. What would she ask, she wondered? She wondered if it bruised his ego, meeting someone who had no idea who he was. Perhaps Gareth felt the same way when someone didn’t recognize him. Back then, no one did.

“People usually answer questions more truthfully when they’re under pressure,” Riley said. “So now it’s rapid-fire question time. I’ll take the first answer that comes to mind. Ready?”

Ashe frowned, as if he didn’t understand what she meant. But Riley didn’t want to give him time to think. He could improvise if he had to, lie if necessary.

“Morning person or night person?”

“Night person,” he replied, a smile forming on his lips.

“Are you funny?”

“Unfortunately, no.”

“Do you consider yourself serious then?”

“Unfortunately, yes,” he replied, frowning. “In fact, tonight, someone just called me an old fart.”

“If you could be any cartoon character, who would you be?”

“Pepe La Pew.”

Riley giggled, imagining him batting his eyes like the lovable skunk.

“You’ve got to keep going, Riley, or it’s my turn to ask questions,” he warned. “And I have to warn you – I don’t take prisoners.”

“If one song were to describe your life, what would it be?”

“I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing.”

“Aerosmith! That’s my favorite band! And did you know that they’re playing in Atlantic City – ”

“Next question or it’s my turn,” Ashe warned, arching an eyebrow.

“What do you like best about your job?”

“Being someone I’m not – for a time.”

“What don’t you like about your job?” Riley asked.

“That you’re only as good as your last movie.”

“When did you last get laid – No! I mean, when was the last time you lied? Lied! Lied, not laid!”

Ashe chuckled, then forced himself to be serious. “Just before I got into that elevator with you.”

“Was that an answer to the first question or the second?”

“Second,” Ashe replied, his eyes never leaving her face.

Riley blushed. Goodness gracious, his eyes. And his voice. She focused and cleared her throat, serious again. “Do you see yourself in ten years’ time still doing the same thing you’re doing now?”

“Yes, but I’d like to produce more, too. Even direct. After all, what’s hot in Hollywood right now may not be so hot next year, or in five, or ten years.”

“You never know,” Riley said. “You could still be hot. I mean, look at you! You’re hot right now, so why not in ten years?”

“If I’m really that hot, then how come you don’t know who I am?”

“Just because I don’t know who you are doesn’t mean I don’t know real-life hot from not.”

This time, it was Ashe who paused before his face broke into a wide grin, his blue eyes twinkling.

“You’re good – even though you did get distracted for a moment – though that was entirely my fault,” Ashe said, taking a sip from his beer. “Debate team in school?”


His eyes narrowed. “Auctioneer?”

“Definitely not,” Riley replied, laughing.

“I give up. What?”

“I have three smart-aleck nephews and, whenever they’re around, you need to have your game face on all the time. They’re relentless. And you?”

“I’ve only got one niece, so obviously I can’t compete with three.”

His phone beeped, the third time since they had sat down though he’d ignored every single call or text message throughout dinner. Riley remembered how it had beeped in the cab as well, but he hadn’t answered it that time either. But this time, Ashe pulled out his phone from his jacket pocket and glanced at the display.

“Is that your manager, by any chance?” She asked.

“Yes, it is. And she’s wondering – in full caps, no less – where I am,” Ashe said, and began typing a message on his phone. “I’m not supposed to leave the hotel.”

“You’re in big trouble then.”

He drew a deep breath, and took another sip from his beer. “You could say that. She’s probably a nervous wreck right now. But then, she always is.”

“Are they sending a car to pick you up?” Riley asked. Ashe made a face but didn’t answer her. “I gather that’s a ‘yes’, then. Well, I need to get going anyway.”

Despite Riley’s insistence that she pay for dinner, Ashe took care of the bill and together they stepped outside. Riley shivered, a cold wind ruffling her hair. They looked up at the sky, shrouded by heavy clouds.

“It’s going to rain,” Riley said, rubbing her forearms. “It must remind you of London.”

He shrugged. “Just because I’m English doesn’t automatically mean I’m from London.”

“Oh, that’s right,” Riley chuckled. “The posh Englishman who’s not really posh!”

“Right,” he laughed as his phone beeped again. This time, Ashe excused himself and answered it.

Riley tried not to eavesdrop but it was difficult to avoid. Ashe had such a deep voice it was easy to hear what he was saying. He was in Chinatown, he was telling someone. Of course, he was fine. Why wouldn’t he be? He’d only been trapped in the elevator for half an hour, no big deal, really. He was in good company at the moment and didn’t need any help. But he told his caller that he was standing outside the restaurant, in case they were racing through Manhattan to rescue him.

Riley glanced at her phone, too, checking the time. It was half past ten and she needed to get back home. As Ashe turned to face her, she gave him a mock salute. “Well, thanks for joining me for dinner, and for talking me off that ledge of getting back into bed with the ex.”

“You talked yourself out of it long before I met you,” he said, slipping his hands inside his jeans pockets as he walked towards her.

“You still made me feel better about what I would have ended up doing – or rather, not doing, for that matter.”

“Why would you feel anything but better about it?” Ashe asked, frowning. “Did you really want to see him again?”

“Him? No, I mean, I had a few questions for him, but in the end it wasn’t worth it.” Riley exhaled. She really had to go. “Anyway, it was nice meeting you, Ashe. Dinner was fun.”

“Thank you, Riley,” he said. “But it’s late. I can have the driver take you home.”

“No, thanks,” Riley said, shaking her head. “I’ll take a cab.”

“Can I call you some time?” he asked, taking another step towards her.

She stared at him, unable to believe her ears. She would love to give him her number, but then what? He’d just be another Gareth, only this time, he was already at the top of his game, whoever he was. Gareth had been a nobody back then. She’d paid for everything just so he could go to his acting classes and his auditions, and Riley never complained because she loved him.

Three years later, she just might not be over Gareth at all if she ended up dressing in the skimpiest dress she owned and buying a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes — on sale — that would probably end up returned or never worn again, all because he sent her a text saying he missed her.

You always fell for his lines, Ri, her older sister Paige had told her more than once. That’s why he’s an actor. What other job gives someone the perfect excuse to lie?

No wonder Riley had stopped watching movies the moment Gareth left her three years ago.

“I had a wonderful time, too,” Riley said, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. “But suppose I don’t give you my number and say that I did. Or let’s say I did give you my number and you lost it, misplaced it, or maybe deleted it by accident. It happens all the time.”

“That would be lying, and I hate lying. But I understand what you’re saying,” Ashe replied as thunder rumbled overhead and a large drop of rain fell on Riley’s nose. “Are you sure you don’t want a ride home?”

“I’m sure,” Riley said, just as a limousine stopped right in front of Ashe and an older woman with long blonde hair leaped out of the rear door, calling his name. And just then, as Riley waved goodbye and turned away, the skies opened up.

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Featured Author · Writing

Featured Author: Andrew Reid, Author of Kingdom’s Fall

This week, I’m pleased to feature Andrew Reid, author of Kingdom’s Fall, a fantasy novel about a group of ordinary people and not-so-ordinary people forced to work together to save a kingdom from an ancient evil.  I first discovered the story on Wattpad and when Andrew published his novel last year, I immediately bought my own copy. 

Andrew did a virtual “interview” and he was kind enough to answer a few questions I posed about his book and his writing process.  Before I go ahead with the interview, do check out his blog.  I love his so-English humor and Andrew’s got it by the buckets.  Considering that the main male character in one of my novels is so English, I should be taking notes…but I digress.

Let’s check out the interview!

So what is Kingdom’s Fall about?

It’s about “a handful of exceptional people who band together to brood, crack jokes, fight giant monsters and save their kingdom. It’s a fantasy novel built on the idea that the choices people make out of duty or loyalty – even if they’re the right choice – can have repercussions that echo for a long time. It is told through the medium of cool people doing awesome stuff.

What inspired you to write the book?

A scrap of paper that I saved from a writing workshop. I’d been kicking around a fantasy idea about two rival kingdoms and a gift of a cursed sword that never really found its feet. Casting about for something to give me direction, I found about 200 words of a prologue that I had written during an hour-long session with Mark Chadbourn (fantasy and tv writer) back in 2009 about a giant wall that held back the sea, and the ship that finds it breaking. I reread it and thought about a country locked behind walls; walls so old that nobody remembers why they were built; about walls that aren’t necessarily made of stone. I started with that and a list that read “Soldier, Spy, Rogue, and Adventurer” and the story sprang from there.

51RiJp3jAXL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_How would you describe your writing style?  Are you a pantser or a plotter?

I started off essentially as a pure seat-of-the-pants writer. I got the book done, but…I found it very stressful going. Even though all the parts were there, it needed a lot of work in the edits to get the structure, pace and flow correct. So now I deploy a little structure beforehand to keep me sane. It’s based off of Save the Cat, and I will build a set of cards with the major beats that I want to hit and then start writing towards each one. I do go off piste sometimes, but having it all laid out means I can think, “right, well if *this* has changed how can I use it later?” and it’s a much smoother process.

Who has influenced your writing?

I’m a huge fan of Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy. It’s one of my favourite fantasy works, along with the companion Tawny Man trilogy. I love Ursula K LeGuin: A Wizard of Earthsea is a fantastic book. Other favourites include The Count of Monte Cristo, and the Culture novels by Iain M Banks. Recent fantasy books that I really enjoyed and have had an influence on me: The Copper Promise by Jen Williams, Half the World by Joe Abercrombie.

What do you love about writing?

I love playing about with dialogue, the inner and outer voice. I like feeling that kick when you get characters sparking off of one another and it makes the writing *come alive* when you read it back, even though you know it took six months and three drafts to make it happen. I really like seeing what references my brain throws into the mix – all the stuff you see and read, all these old quotes and ideas get dredged up to the surface and it’s amazing what you remember when you’re sweating blood trying to just get the words out of you and down.

What do you dislike about writing?

Getting too close to the work is a problem. I can picture scenes very very clearly in my head, so when I come to write them I feel like I have to smudge the image a little to leave room for the reader’s interpretation. But when it goes out to beta readers, those parts always get flagged as being too vague, and could I be a little more forthcoming with the detail. It can be really hard to judge sometimes if you’re being blunt, or simply direct. Basically, the constant second-guessing of the thing you’ve just written.

What challenges have you faced as a writer?

Getting a traditional publishing deal is the current hurdle! I’ve been really close to things a few times now – I have a couple of unpublished novels under my belt in the past few years – and it has come down to things like “this is really good, but it’s not a debut” or “right writer, wrong book”. So…that’s what I’m working on. I’ve got one book bouncing through round after round of edits so that it is about as good as I can get it, and hopefully it will stick. Touch wood.

Can you tell us about your next book or project?

The next book is called The Tracer. Bit of a diversion from the fantasy, but it’s a contemporary thriller about a tech-savvy bounty hunter who is hired to track down a corrupt trader, only to find him dead and evidence planted at the scene that implicates her in his murder. I’ve had some thoughts about surveillance culture bouncing around my notebooks for a while now, and getting to talk about them AND have a main character whose main solution to any problem is to kick it as hard as she can seemed like a nice way to spend my evenings. I’m also working (slowly) on the sequel to Kingdom’s Fall. Hopefully the former will be finished in the summer, and then I can concentrate on the latter.

What’s the last book you read?

The last book I read was so bad it put me off picking up another one for a few days. I won’t mention the title or author but it was a hangover in the worst way.

On the good side of things, I just picked up The Privilege of the Sword and The Fall of Kings, which are the sequels to Ellen Kushner’s *truly amazing* fantasy, Swordspoint. Now that is a book hangover. The imagery is so crisp and intense, the world so compelling and yet almost entirely ephemeral on the page: the city where it takes place is never named, and yet feels so familiar you could swear you’d been there. I should have put that up in influences, but seriously: Swordspoint is an amazing gem of a book.

On the tech-y side of writing, what programs or apps do you use to write?

I write mostly in Google Docs at the moment. With one small child and another on the way alongside a full-time teaching commitment, I write on my phone during my commute and then sort out the text later on. For the complete draft, it all goes into Word so I can track changes. I use notebooks to sketch out ideas. I very rarely write blocks of text freehand, but I do a lot of flow diagrams or loosely connected frameworks. I write a LOT of dialogue fragments and often surprise myself by going back through old notebooks. I use index cards and Post-Its stuck to a wardrobe for planning, although I just got a massive flipchart refill where each page is divided into squares about the size of a Post-It and have hung it on the wall so I can write straight onto it. It should be awesome.

What’s the best advice you can give to someone about writing?

Best advice heard: finish what you start. Get it done. Yes, you have other ideas. Finish this one first. Advice to give: if you’re submitting to agents or publishers make sure your MS is complete before you start querying, follow the submission guidelines, and be polite. Writing is art, but publishing is a business. Be professional.

Thank you so much, Andrew!  Learn more about Andrew and Kingdom’s Fall on his website.


Aiden was dragged from the inn – his shoulder alight with pain, too much for him to protest or resist any further – and out into bright sunlight. The inn stood at the very edge of a tiny village. It was little more than a stopping-point, a place that thrived off what few travellers and wagons passed through on their way inland. On the opposite side of the road a massive tree disturbed the verge, so big that it had been either too much trouble or too familiar to cut down.  Someone had thrown a rope over one of the branches, and a noose swung lightly at one end.

“I thought I was going to face justice.” Aiden spat the words out between gasps. The pain was hot and bright, bright enough to mix with the sunlight and send flashes across his vision.

“You are. Warrant doesn’t say you need to be alive to face it.” The leader grinned savagely. “We’ll hang you here, and save his majesty the trouble.” He made a show of looking Aiden up and down as if judging his weight. “Might just send your head back.”

Two of the men held Aiden upright while the leader slipped the noose over his head and pulled the knot tight against the back of his neck. One peace-man spat on the ground, disgusted. “Thought you’d be bigger,” he said. “At least you’re not begging. Can’t stand it when they beg.”

“Does it ever work?” Aiden asked.

The man thought for a moment. “It gives us something to laugh about later.”

“I’m sorry to disappoint. If we ever meet again, I’ll try to make more of an effort.”

“Do that.” The man let him go. Aiden sank into the noose, barely able to stand. He twisted on the rope, turning to look at the men who were getting ready to haul him up. He could feel the blood gathering in his face, the skin of his cheeks and forehead prickling hot and tight.

“Any last words, my lord?” Their leader asked.

For a long time there was nothing but silence, and terror. He was going to die, alone and hurt and afraid, for something he couldn’t even remember doing. Aiden closed his eyes and felt the weight of it press down on him. As it sank through him, a thought rose to meet it. There’s still one thing you can do. One good thing. Aiden struggled to nod, and the weight on the noose eased off as they waited for him to speak. He forced the fingers of his good hand up under the rope, trying to take the pressure off his windpipe. “There were six of you.” His voice was little more than a whisper. “Now there’s four. If you kill those two who are off after the serving girl, that’s a lot more reward to share.”

The leader snorted. “Bit late to find your conscience, my lord.” He turned away, gesturing to his men. “Haul him up, lads.”

Purchase Kingdom’s Fall here. Your purchase benefits Pencils of Promise.  And if you’ve read Kingdom’s Fall, please leave a review.  Reviews help readers discover new authors!

-Reposted from Liz Madrid Author



Book Review: Kingdom’s Fall by Andrew Reid

Kingdom's FallKingdom’s Fall by Andrew Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this as it was serialized on Wattpad, then bought it the moment it was published.  It’s one of the things I love about stories I discover on the site that go “wide,” meaning that they end up published professionally (we’ll argue about the difference between traditional and indie in another post).

But before I continue with the review, let me just preface this by saying that if you guys know me, I am a romance and women’s fiction writer, though my reading choices lean more towards literary fiction, thrillers and women’s lit with elements of romance.  And other than George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, I don’t necessarily gravitate to fantasies right off the bat.

I actually discovered this book while searching to see if anyone was using the title Kingdom’s Fall since it was the title of Gareth’s breakout mini-series in Loving Ashe.  To my surprise, Reid already was, but I ended up sticking to my title anyway, and then went on to read this – and I sure am glad I did.

So on to the review.

Something dark is growing in the Kingdom. Trade from the south has choked to a standstill, and the air over the marshes hangs heavy with the threat of war.  In the north, the sea-wall, the ancient defense that protects the coastline, is crumbling.  The people look to their lords for guidance, and the lords look to their King.

But King Varion has little time for their concerns, for his daughter has been kidnapped a priestly cult who intends to sacrifice her and summon an ancient power into the world.

From the moment the story began, I liked the way the characters feel realistic.  You feel like you know them, their motivations, even their failures.  I felt for the characters, beginning with Kara, the innkeeper’s daughter who finds herself allied with the most wanted man in the kingdom, Aiden Baird, who can’t quite remember who or what he’s doing so far from his King. Then there’s Captain Gray who takes the poor army urchin, Cuan, under his wing, and the Islanders Siv and Einar on a heart-wrenching mission to find their kidnapped daughter.

I stuck with these five characters through their journey to fight an evil force that’s threatening to take over the Kingdom, even as the walls protecting the coastline have started to crumble. The odds are against them all, but they keep on going, knowing that if they fail, the Kingdom will fall.  One thing that I did wish to see in the book was a map to show me the Kingdom that everyone is fighting to save, but that’s only because I’m a visual reader in some respects – and maybe I’m so used to those maps that come with Martin’s books.  But let that not be a reason to not check this book out – the story is engaging and the characters even more so and they’ll have you rooting for them till the end.

Buy on Amazon

Books · Writers · Writing

How To Support Your Favorite Author

Fellow author Kristen Lamb just wrote a blog post about the ugly truth behind publishing and how to help authors.  And while most of the post has to do with the behind the scenes of publishing, I found her words about how readers can help authors quite informative and said in a way that I couldn’t word any better.

If you love our books, your promotion means a thousand times more than any ad I could pay for. Ads and marketing don’t sell books. Never did and never will. Only thing that sells books is word of mouth.

Beloved reader? You would be shocked how much regular people will pay attention to you. That review is worth your weight in gold to me for a number of reasons. Humans don’t like being first. So unless a couple of you are brave and review? My book can sit with NO reviews and it is then unlikely to sell.

Think about a shelf with ONE item. It freaks us out. There is only ONE. Is it poison? O_o

Secondly, when you review us, Amazon favors our books in the algorithms meaning more people SEE our book. More people SEE it, odds are I will sell more copies. In the on-line world YOU have the power to get US that awesome front of the store book placement. The more reviews the better the algorithm. Better algorithm, more views. More views, more sales, more sales—>we make a best-seller LIST!

You can also use your social media because it means more than ours.

Tweet a picture of our book. Put it on Facebook. People in your network ARE noticing. Peer review and approval is paramount in the digital age. And don’t support your favorite author on Goodreads as a first choice (AMAZON reviews are better). The only people hanging out on Goodreads for the most part are other writers and book trolls.

Support us on your regular Facebook page or Instagram or Twitter. Because when you post a great new book you LOVED your regular friends see that. When they get stranded in an Urgent Care or an airport? What will they remember? THAT BOOK. They won’t be on Goodreads. Trust me.

Via Kristen Lamb, The Ugly Truth of Publishing and How Best to Support Authors

So if you’ve ever wondered how you can help an author in addition to buying their books, it’s as simple as writing a review and spreading the word.

Photo is from



It’s Release Day!


It’s finally here!  A Collateral Attraction is finally available for purchase and thank you to those of you who preordered a copy and also purchased the paperback.  I can’t even remember how my wedding felt like but it surely wasn’t this nerve-wracking, but that’s just me being weird – plus, my brother took care of the whole schedule.

I really hope you enjoy the story of Billie and Heath.  I certainly had a wonderful time writing their story even if that is a distant memory now because my head is filled with all the other stuff that comes with publishing a book, and that includes book  blitzes, giveaways and blog tours, and I can barely see straight.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 6.17.19 PMI really do love writing and though it’s a hit or miss with all the marketing and promotions, I know that it’s really just me needing to learn how make better use of my time, and wisely, too.  In the end, it’s the writing that matters, and the stories that we tell that touch people who read them.  And whether it’s hundreds or thousands of readers, or even only one, that’s still one person your story did touch than if you hadn’t even put it out there.

And while we’re on the topic of promotions, here’s a featured page for A Collateral Attraction.  I’m really putting the links here for my own record while I’m setting up my own dedicated website.  They have a giveaway going on as well so if you’d like to check out their giveaway or read an excerpt please pop on over there!

If you’d like to keep abreast with the latest about my books, upcoming releases and events, please subscribe to my newsletter here.  I won’t spam you, I promise. That’s what this blog is for!