Tag Archives: anthology

The Earl’s English Rose by Regina Jeffers in the Featured New Book Spotlight


Woot! I have been sharing posts for books by Regina Jeffers for literal years and I’m so excited to host her today in the Featured New Book Spotlight. It’s always fun to get a better, closer look at a book I’ve seen bandied about on social media — and this is another reason why stopping in here is always a smart thing to do! I’m so ready to learn about your books, I can’t tell you.

So let’s get right to it, shall we? Regina Jeffers, what song makes you think of your new book, The Earl’s English Rose?

If I were to choose a song to accompany “The Earl’s English Rose,” I would choose Amanda McBroom’s “The Rose,” sung beautifully by Bette Midler as the soundtrack of a movie by the same name. Yes, I know, my choice seems so obvious, as such is the heroine’s first name, but there is more to the lyrics which speak of the “ease” of the young woman to give her heart to a man she realizes is both her savior and her nemesis and his “inherent” lack of trust in “LOVE” itself.

Some say love, it is a river
That drowns the tender reed
Some say love, it is a razor
That leaves your soul to bleed
Some say love, it is a hunger
An endless aching need
I say love, it is a flower
And you, its only seed

The heroine, Miss Rose Vickers, although young, recognizes the fear of romantic heartbreak as real, but she does not avoid the possibility. Instead, she accepts what she cannot control and plunges head first into a relationship with a man dead set on only being her guardian.

It’s the heart, afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance
It’s the dream, afraid of waking
That never takes the chance
It’s the one who won’t be taken
Who cannot seem to give
And the soul, afraid of dying
That never learns to live

Meanwhile, Jacob Casper, the 13th Earl of Everwalt, believes his life of dissipation is all he requires until he must marry and provide the earldom the traditional “heir and a spare.” Love has nothing to do with begetting a child on his future wife. However, as Midler’s “The Rose” tells us, there are certain endeavors in life, including most importantly, falling in love, which require a considerable degree of courage on the part of participants.

When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love
In the spring becomes the rose

So, although some consider this song has something to do with dying, as it is often played at funerals, and because such was the plot, which is loosely based on the rise and fall of Janis Joplin, I think otherwise. I dwell on the lines , “I say love, it is a flower, and you its only seed” in the first verse and the last two lines of the third verse, which say, “Lies the seed that with the sun’s love, in the spring becomes the rose.” The song speaks to the durability of love. Therefore, I offer the book’s tagline: The True Beauty of a Rose Lies in its Contradictions.

OOH! What an explanation! I love it! I also love where Regina says, “There are certain endeavors in life, including most importantly, falling in love, which require a considerable degree of courage on the part of the participants.”

So. Much. Yes.

If that’s not enough for you (yet), I’ve got more! And so does Regina, thankfully. Ready for the book’s official and actual description (although what we’ve already gotten is pretty darn good)?

The new Earl of Everwalt was not one to appreciate being bamboozled by an obstinate, headstrong girl, though pretty she may be. If he did not require her to repair his reputation, he would leave her to the schemes she had concocted to save her father’s estate.

Just because he was now her guardian, the Earl of Everwalt had no right to decide who she might marry. Therefore, Miss Rose Vickers sets out for London to provide the new earl a piece of her mind, only to run into a highwayman. As if scripted, the new earl proves to be her savior, but it would be some time before the suspicious Rose and the extremely susceptible Everwalt learn the depth of their connection and the true meaning of love.

Are you ready to grab your copy? I sure am!

“The Earl’s English Rose” is one of six tales in The Regency Summer Garden Anthology.

Amazon Paperback


Also Available to Read for Free on Kindle Unlimited

And remember: the best way to show your appreciation for a book is to leave an online review for it. Some of my favorite reviews are short; others are thoughtful and perceptive. And other favorite reviews of mine are in between. There are no rights and wrongs — so long as you are honest.

Be sure to connect with Regina Jeffers! It’s free! It’s fun! It’ll let you learn about more of her books!
Every Woman Dreams (Blog)
Austen Authors (Blog)
Amazon Author Page
You Tube Interview
Regina Jeffers’s Website

Remember if you’re an author or have a friend who’s an author, the Featured New Book Spotlight is waiting to be filled by you (or them)! This is my labor of love, my way of helping readers find new books. Join me. Grab one of the books you see featured here. Send your friends over. Fill out the form yourself, if it’s your book. Because no one can talk about your book if they don’t hear about your book!


Featured New Book Spotlight: Naval Maneuvers by Dee S Knight


Let’s welcome Dee S Knight to West of Mars! She and I got to chatting via Twitter one day and the next thing you know, my inbox was full of a Featured New Book Spotlight that I’m thrilled to bring you guys today.

Do you guys like military fiction? I have to confess I like what I’ve read, but I don’t rabidly seek it out. Still, this is one that’ll probably show up on my GoodReads page sooner or later… it really sounds good!

But before we get to what the book’s about, let’s talk about music. Because that’s the fun of the Featured New Book Spotlight: the music. Dee, what song makes you think of your book?

“Blue, Navy Blue” by Diana Renay.

I like it for my book Naval Maneuvers because it’s kind of bittersweet. Men and women who choose the Navy to serve the country leave family and loved ones behind during long tours at sea. Of course, the song also mentions the happy homecoming, which is often filled with lots of kissing and loving behind closed doors (except those doors aren’t closed in my book! ;)) Naval Maneuvers is composed of three novellas: love denied because of childhood memories, love found and then lost because of military regulations, and love found for a second time after years of lies. All have HEAs, humor, and strong men and women.

An oldie! Oh, I love this song. I’d never heard it before, but it makes me think of a more innocent time. And Henry Winkler. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a compliment.

Now I need to read this book! But wait! It’s actually a three-in-one volume — and not novels, either, if you’re worried about time commitment. Nope. These are short stories. Even better.

Here’s what it’s about:

Men and women of the armed forces experience desire and love pretty much like everyone else. Except, well, there is that uniform. And the hard-to-resist attraction of “duty, honor, service” as a man might apply them to a woman’s pleasure. All things considered, romance among the military is a pretty sexy, compelling force for which you’d better be armed, whether weighing anchor and moving forward into desire, dropping anchor and staying put for passion, or setting a course for renewed love with anchor home.

Weighing Anchor (allowing a ship to move forward by retrieving the anchor): A professional woman sworn to avoiding all things military finds herself in love with a lieutenant commander in the Navy. Love won’t conquer all if she allows her childhood memories to eclipse future happiness.

Dropping Anchor (securing movement by dropping the anchor): Two people find (surprisingly) that they are both in the Navy and love their chosen professions—until one turns out to be an officer but not a gentleman and the other is a gentleman but not an officer.

Anchor Home (safe, smooth sailing): When two former lovers find each other after more than a decade, will a long-hidden secret threaten the course of a rekindled romance or be the cause of it?

So. Grab your copy, and be sure to leave a review — they help readers find books!
Smashwords (affiliate link)
Book Nook

And connect with Dee, too.
Good Reads


Book Review: Hot Summer Nights


I was hanging out on Twitter a few weeks ago when I caught a Tweet from author Freya Lange. She was talking about a new anthology of erotic shorts, Hot Summer Nights. I told her I’d love to read it, so she sent me an .epub and just like that, I was off and reading.

This is an interesting anthology. It’s not juried, which means no one judged the submissions before they were accepted for publication. To some readers, that means something about quality. As someone who’s in a number of unjuried anthologies, it means these are good friends who are smart enough to capitalize on an opportunity to widen their readership.

However, the quality of the stories varies. Collection lead-off story The Endless Summer, written by Steve Williams, screams that it’s written by what we call a young writer. Had I been the editor, I would not have let this one lead off the anthology; it’s almost as if it signals that this is going to be a rough ride. Of course, if I were the editor, Mr. Williams and I would have done more work on the story before it was published, to bring it up to the level of the best in here.

That’s not to say the other stories aren’t strong. They are, and a few are exceptionally so, including Freya’s own Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday, which is the story of a young woman on a road trip in the late ’60s who learns an awful lot about love … and marriage, from a complete stranger and a cooler full of Coke.

Further kudos for creative settings and situations go to JC Winchester for Tryst in the Trail Shelter, a fun, steamy read. What struck me most about this story was the narrator’s understanding and love for her partner. I know… it’s supposed to be about the adventure, which is pretty much what it sounds like, given the title. But what we as readers respond to isn’t always what we’re supposed to, and that primary relationship is what I took away. It seemed so very real, so very realized. Kudos for pulling that off in a space so small. I would not be surprised to learn the author has worked with these two women before.

Bucky Duckman’s I’m not Gay wins for most humorous story and most clever manipulation of the main character. This story has stayed with me and makes me chuckle every time I think about it. A player finds a young woman to spend his summer nights with, but somehow, it becomes not only a threesome and his first experience with another man, but something addictive, too.

The story I think I had the most problems with, though, was Hole in the Basement Wall, written by TT Tales. From point of view shifts to a lack of tension in the story, this was one story I’d have loved to work with the author on. The potential in this story is huge and incredibly ambitious, but it simply wasn’t handled well. And the concept? Absolutely fabulous.

That misstep is offset by the collection’s standout story: Shea Mara’s Keys to the Sun. The least erotic of all the stories, this story, I felt, belonged in a major literary magazine. It’s a science fiction story about a colony on Venus. Issues of longing, of domination, of relationships, of hope are all brought up. Characters are well-drawn, and while the bad guy is pretty stock, he needs to be for the story to work as well as it does. The author understands this. She clearly understands what makes good fiction and while most of the authors in this anthology do, Ms. Mara is an unusual talent. And she’s not the only one.

Overall, yes, this anthology is one to pick up. Despite the weaknesses, every story has something redeeming going for it. Watch out for the typos –oh, how I’d love to give this entire anthology a good proofread. Interestingly, their number varies with the success of the stories, so proofing continuity is a bit of an issue. But remember, I have high standards; I edit for a living.

So ignore the typos and settle in for a good and hot read. One thing I didn’t mention: with the exception of Ms. Meara’s story, this collection is hot. Steamy hot. Don’t-read-in-public hot unless you like to squirm.

Which, of course, is a large part of the fun.


Featured New Story: Celtic Knot by Gail Oare


More from my friends in the Lucky Charms anthology! Today, it’s Gail Oare, who is a super lady you all need to know. LuckyCharms_eBook_082113

Her story, Celtic Knot, has what must be the funniest song I’ve come across in all the years I’ve been doing this Featured New Book Spotlight. Ready?

My story in Lucky Charms: 12 Crime Tales is “Celtic Knot.” When I wrote it, I was concentrating on the symbolism of Celtic knot variations and what one(s) would be chosen as a charm bracelet keepsake associated with a family secret. I had no music in mind at all when I wrote this story. This is odd for me since I love Celtic music, having done my thesis on Welsh mythology, taught myself to play the English concertina and am now learning the bagpipes. So when asked by West of Mars for the song that inspired the story, I went on a search for one, a Google search.

And failed. There doesn’t seem to be any tune titled Celtic Knot despite the many possibilities it holds!

What to do? Back to my mental blackboard. I reflected on the underlying sadness of the “Celtic Knot” family tragedy that hung over the family for years until the final resolution. The heavy sound a hammer pounding a piece of metal on an anvil came to mind. Bomp bomp bomp. Regular, relentless pounding. Oddly enough, this sound and rhythm brought to mind an episode of the sitcom “Cheers.” It was almost St. Patrick’s Day and Sam and his competitor Gary were both vying for the most revelers for the holiday at their respective taverns. Sam found out that Gary was planning to hire an Irish band at his bar, so Sam sought one out as well. St. Patrick’s Day arrives. Gary’s bar is packed with patrons reveling to the lively jigs and drinking songs. Then the camera moves to Sam’s empty bar, where a solemn Irish band was singing a slow dirge of “And everywhere I looked was death, death, death.” Like the labored sound of metal on the anvil, like the tragedy that haunted the family in “Celtic Knot.”
So the music I will claim for my story is this heavy, heavy “death, death, death” from Sam’s Irish band. I’m not sure that is even a real song, just a musical prop for a sitcom, but regardless, I’m commandeering it as the soundtrack for my crime story. Who knew?

eBook versions of LUCKY CHARMS are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iBooks. Print versions are available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and CreateSpace although we encourage you to send your sales through Mystery Lovers Bookshop, our local independent bookstore. Support your independents!


Featured New Story: Strangler Fig by Martha Reed


Martha Reed is truly one of my favorite people. Join her at a writer’s convention and all you’ll need to do is sit and listen as she spins hilarious tale after hilarious tale. Be prepared to laugh until you cry, and never come back to me and complain that you weren’t warned. I’ll point you right here.


And here’s a great place to be, because Martha’s story, Strangler Fig, made the cut for the Lucky Charms anthology I’ve been telling you about. She stopped in today to tell us what song makes her think of her book.

What’s Past is Prologue
During the summers when I was a kid I grew up in a house filled with swing music. My grandfather, Pop, had a lakeside cottage with a rotary phone and no TV but he did have a tape player and a stack of vinyl. We listened to big band swing music, mostly Benny Goodman, all day long. To this day whenever I hear a rising clarinet solo I have a flashback to those glorious summer days.

At certain drum solos, Pop would raise his hand and call for silence. ‘Listen!’ He would say. ‘That’s Gene Krupa.’

Pop served in the 3rd Marines during WWII. He fought his way across the Pacific islands. He parachuted into the fight at the battle of Tinian but he wouldn’t ever talk about it or tell me anything more. Then Pop died, and recently I got the feeling that his generation, so defined by its music, was fading away. I decided to write a short story with characters from his age group to try to capture some of that wartime feeling, that genuine camaraderie. The perfect song for that time is The Andrews Sisters singing Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.

My story, STRANGLER FIG, tells the tale of T-Rex, a street thug, and his retirement home invasion. The problem is that all the retirees are all ex-Pacific Naval Command. They’ve had plenty of practice dealing with his particular brand of trouble before. T-Rex has no idea about the deadly situation he’s gotten himself into.

STRANGLER FIG is only one of 12 crime tales found in the LUCKY CHARMS anthology. LUCKY CHARMS was produced by members of the Mary Roberts Rinehart Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime, an international organization dedicated to the advancement of women crime writers. Each tale tells of surprising good luck or of good luck gone sour. I invite you to explore the anthology and to brace yourself for an entertaining read.

And for a change, Martha said it better than I could.

Get yourself a copy! Only Martha Reed can come up with something like Strangler Fig … and a street thug named T-Rex.

eBook versions of LUCKY CHARMS are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iBooks. Print versions are available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and CreateSpace although we encourage you to send your sales through Mystery Lovers Bookshop, our local independent bookstore. Support your independents!


Featured New Story: Sweet Deadly Lies by Annette Dashofy


Yep, we’re going three for three with the Lucky Charms anthology. I don’t know about you, but I sure hope the other nine contributors weigh in.

Today’s author has been a friend of mine for probably going on ten years now (wow). Annette Dashofy is one of the coolest, most persistent women I know. A true pro author, through and through. No one’s celebrating her recent string of success more than me.

Well, other than Annette, herself.


She’s not the music lover I am, but stay tuned for the song. It is indeed an earworm!

I firmly believe in the importance of a good title. I’ve had stories rejected over and over until I changed the title. Then they were picked up immediately. After a few of those, I make a greater effort these days to get it right the first time.

For me, titles either come very easy, often before the story completely forms in my mind—or they fight me tooth-and-nail. Nothing fits. Nothing sounds right. Such was the case with the short story I wrote for my local Sisters in Crime chapter’s anthology, Lucky Charms:12 Crime Stories.

My story involved the homicide of a woman who was thought of as sweet…at least to those who didn’t really know her. My protagonist, Officer Abby Baronick, knew otherwise. The deceased loved to stir up trouble by telling lies. Lies that eventually got her killed.

I had a blast writing the story, which included Detective Wayne Baronick, Abby’s brother, who also has a part in my upcoming novel Circle of Influence (Henery Press, March 2014). But when it came time to give this story a name, I was stuck. Thankfully, I have a great bunch of critique buddies who had read it and could brainstorm ideas with me.

Keywords from that brainstorming session triggered a musical memory. An earworm. The exact song title didn’t work, but with a slight modification, “Sweet Deadly Lies” was born. Now I can’t listen to the song without changing the words in my head. “Tell me lies, tell me sweet deadly lies…”

You know you need a copy… here’s the links:
Amazon digital

Amazon print


Mystery Lovers

Barnes & Noble digital: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lucky-charms-pittsburgh-sisters-in-crime/1117388201?ean=9780991051311

Barnes & Noble print


Apple iBooks

Get to know Annette.


Featured New Story: Batter Down by Liz Milliron


As promised, there’s more fun from the Sisters in Crime chapter who are proudly appearing in the Lucky Charms anthology.


This week, I bring you my good friend Liz Milliron, who is known in other circles as Mary Sutton. Split personality? Nah. Just a different name for each genre she writes in. It actually makes sense, even if it makes it hard to find all of her writings in one spot. She’s worth tracking down, no matter her name. I promise (and not just because she handles a lot of the non-fiction editing for West of Mars!).

Now that the introduction’s done, let’s get down to business, shall we? Liz, what song makes you think of your book?

My anthology story, Batter Down (written as Liz Milliron) centers around the death of a player for a fictional independent-league baseball team. And nothing puts me in the mindset, musically, of baseball like John Fogerty’s Centerfield. This is a rocking rendition with Fogerty and Keith Urban. Now, obviously, Fogerty’s classic has nothing to do with murder, but I can’t think about baseball without this song running through my head. In fact, I’m humming the chorus right now, just typing this, and baseball season is only a glimmer on the horizon. The song just seems to capture the magic of baseball for me, hearing the crack of that bat on a warm summer night. And my protagonist, Jim Duncan, has in fact tuned in to the game for that reason – to listen to a little baseball on a summer afternoon, hanging on his boat with his canine buddy, Rizzo. Unfortunately, that’s not really to be. But, because of the baseball connection, it still makes me think of this song.

I have to confess: baseball isn’t one of my favorite sports, but I, too, think of Fogerty’s classic when the subject comes up. Which, since the Pirates did so well last season, has been fairly often.

Want more about the story and the anthology as a whole?

A record-breaking baseball streak takes a deadly twist when star player Johnny Pierce is found dead on the day he was set to break the team’s consecutive-game hitting record. Jim Duncan and Sally Castle team up to figure out if this was a random act of violence – or if Johnny’s streak meant bad news for someone determined to keep him from continuing.

Inside LUCKY CHARMS you’ll find twelve crime tales from the members of the Mary Roberts Rinehart Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime, Inc. You’ll dig into gritty police procedurals; enjoy a spangle of suspense; tuck into a cozy or two; and thrill to a cool touch of noir. Each story tells a tale of surprising good luck or of good luck gone sour. We invite you to brace yourself for an entertaining read.

You know you need a copy… here’s the links:
Amazon digital

Amazon print


Mystery Lovers

Barnes & Noble digital: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lucky-charms-pittsburgh-sisters-in-crime/1117388201?ean=9780991051311

Barnes & Noble print


Apple iBooks

And connect with Liz/Mary, too! You’ll be glad you did.


Featured New Story: Sweet Murder by Paula A. Smith


I’m tickled pink about a series of Featured New Stories I’ll be running here at the Meet and Greet at West of Mars. The stories all appear in the new Lucky Charms anthology edited by my friend Ramona DeFelice Long, and put together by a bunch of my local ladies: the Mary Roberts Rinehart Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Yep, I’m a member. And yes, I offered advice as the anthology took shape.


I offered the Featured New Book spotlight to the ladies lucky enough to make the editorial cut, and Paula A. Smith is the first to take me up on it.

So, Paula! What song makes you think of your story?

If life’s like a card game and not a gooey box of chocolates as others say, we have to play the hand that we’ve been dealt and remember, “Every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser” as Kenny Rogers sings in “The Gambler” (1978).

In my short story, Sweet Murder, appearing in the newly released Lucky Charms Anthology that contains 12 crime stories by members of the Mary Roberts Rinehart Chapter of Sisters in Crime, you could say the main character is a pretty good gambler. She looked at her cards and seemed to “know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run.”

When she snaps her cards face-up on the table, how did she know what cards to give up and which ones to keep? You won’t know that until the end. But you will get inside her head as she figures out what to do while playing the game. It’s a high-stakes card game and the deck is stacked against her. But by the end of the story she finds that “the secret to survivin’ is learning what to throw away and what to keep.”

You’re probably wondering about the murder victim? How does the ace of spades get shuffled into the deck and who gets it? Ah-hah, if I told you, I’d be showing you my hand, wouldn’t I? And don’t try to peek. Wait and see how it all plays out and how your own gambling strategies reveal what I’m holding. After all, “they’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.” Just to be nice, I’ll up the ante for your curiosity with words from the song, “The best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep.”

Gamble and get the book.

I didn’t get to read any of the stories until the anthology came out, so I’m as intrigued as you are. And I am intrigued!

Want to know more about the project as a whole?

Inside LUCKY CHARMS you’ll find twelve crime tales from the members of the Mary Roberts Rinehart Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime, Inc. You’ll dig into gritty police procedurals; enjoy a spangle of suspense; tuck into a cozy or two; and thrill to a cool touch of noir. Each story tells a tale of surprising good luck or of good luck gone sour. We invite you to brace yourself for an entertaining read.
Buy a signed copy by 12 authors from:
Mystery Lovers Bookshop (Oakmont, PA)

Link to the SinC website page for the book where the full list of stories and author bios are shown.

Link to and “like” the new SinC Facebook page where updates will also continue to appear

The book is available in paperback and electronic forms:
Electronic purchases are available through: Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Kobo and Apple (iBooks). Print are available through Amazon and CreateSpace.