Bound, Spanked & Loved Boxed Set

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Bound, Spanked and Loved: Fourteen Kinky Valentine’s Day Stories
Publication date: February 9th 2016
Genres: Adult, Romance

***14 ALL-NEW novellas! Available for a limited time only!***

Bound, Spanked and Loved: Fourteen Kinky Valentine’s Day Stories is the HOTTEST box set of the season, brought to you by fifteen New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling authors of bdsm and spanking romance. Lose yourself in a whole lotta naughty with this sexy collection of ALL-NEW, standalone novellas sure to set your e-reader ablaze and leave you breathlessly panting for more.

Publisher’s Note: The stories included in this smoking hot collection are MF, MFM, and MMMF pairings. Some contain taboo subjects and no-holds barred BDSM and spanking scenes. All will make you blush hard. ***over 700 pages of brand new stories***

Stories Include:

Slab Hands by Annabel Joseph ~ Christine’s always been curious about spanking, and the bouncer at the bottom of the stairs has a magnificent set of hands. Once he learns about her secret disciplinary fantasies, he’s more than happy to put those hands to use…

Master Class: Initiation by Sierra Cartwright ~ When wanna-be sub Jennifer Berklee calls him Master and begs him to flog her, PI Logan Powell knows all his military training won’t be enough to keep his jaded heart safe. He intends to claim this sexy, innocent woman for his own…no matter the cost.

Theirs to Punish by Renee Rose ~ When a billionaire’s daughter-turned-ninja picked Casino Magnifico for a heist, she didn’t take into account one thing–actually–two. Twin owners Joe and Alex Jamison won’t hesitate to employ a little corporal punishment to bring the virgin socialite in line…

Lust Angel by Cari Silverwood ~ On good days, what falls from the heavens may be a naked woman. As an ex-SAS soldier, now private contractor, Adam is used to the unexpected, but nothing in life has prepared him for a fallen angel with a craving for spanking, bondage, and punishment.

Stepbrother Jerk by Natasha Knight ~ To buy her stepbrother’s silence, Lisa agrees to submit to his discipline, even though she has no idea what she’s in for. But Jace knows exactly what his stepsister needs and a bare bottom spanking is only the beginning.

His Runaway Valentine by Sue Lyndon ~ When a handsome stranger rides out of nowhere to rescue Nora from slavers, the runaway bride is shocked to learn he’s the very man to whom she was betrothed. There’s no escaping the arranged marriage now, and Luke is quick to make Nora understand that he expects not only obedience, but her absolute surrender.

Rose’s Are Red by Ashe Barker ~ Rose has had a crush on Iain McCain for years and when she spots her sexy ex-teacher with a whip in his hand at her favourite BDSM club her heart stills. Dare she approach him? A Valentine’s Day card might earn her the spanking she craves if she delivers it personally…on her knees.

His to Take by Kallista Dane ~ On the now-sexless, sterile Planet Earth, Dr. Selena Reston saves the life of Haldor, a Viking warrior from another world. His savage lovemaking shocks her and awakens her wild side. Though she craves his domination, can she build a life with him halfway across the galaxy?

Stepping It Up by Cara Bristol ~ Ariel had crushed on her stepbrother Hunter for years. But if he expects to win back her heart in one wicked weekend, he’ll have to step it up and take her in hand…the Rod and Cane Society way.

Claiming Chloe by Korey Mae Johnson ~ When she is left alone on Valentine’s Day, Chloe takes matters into her own hands. But going out exploring on her own on an alien planet turns out not to be the best idea she ever had, and when her three handsome alien mates end up having to rescue her, Chloe’s bare bottom will pay the price for her naughtiness.

Maud and the Secret Society of Saint Valentine by Emily Tilton ~ Maud has decided that the new boyfriend she’s crazy about can’t be serious when he tells her she needs a firm hand in the bedroom and everywhere else. The Secret Society of Saint Valentine begs to differ, and summons her to a tribunal where she’ll learn just how serious David is.

Dancing With a Dom by Katherine Deane ~ What do ballroom dancing, hard spankings, and mind-blowing orgasms have in common? I guess it depends who your dance partner is. The man smiling down at me, with his hand on my waist… he’s a Dom. And he wants to be mine this Valentine’s Day.

Taking the Human by Trent Evans ~ For Lukanos, a muscle bound, seven foot tall alien, abducting the beautiful human female was the easy part. Winning her heart–and not breaking his own–was something else entirely.

Sweet Birdie Blue by Alta Hensley ~ Rem Langston has no choice but to save the feisty Birdie Bluebell, whether she wants saving or not. Their icy beginning soon turns to a passion hot enough to melt the blizzard outside, but will Birdie accept Rem into her heart?

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SNEAK A PEEK at a couple of books included in this boxed set:

Stepping it Up by Cara Bristol:

“Don’t run from me again,” he said sternly, but he didn’t blame her. He’d run the fastest and the furthest. Had run into the arms of too many other women in an attempt to outrun his feelings for her—until he ran smack into the truth. He loved her, and no other woman would do.

“No.”

“Sir,” he instructed.

“No, sir.” Her husky voice would have given him a woody if he didn’t already have one.

“I’ll only come after you.” He slipped his hand through the open lapels of her robe and under her pajama shirt to cup her breast. She sucked in a breath through parted lips as he stroked the beaded tip to greater hardness. He watched her face as he pinched and rolled her nipples, enjoying the play of expressions, noting her reactions, gauging her pain tolerance.

He pushed her robe off her shoulders to puddle around her hips then tugged up her shirt and captured a reddened stiff bud in his mouth. With tongue and teeth, he teased moans of pleasure from her lips. She had sweet, sexy breasts, not too large but a good handful. Her rounded bottom pressed against his aching erection. Soon he would be inside her, would have her bottom up over his lap, and might even fuck her ass. But before they progressed to that level, a clear base of understanding needed to be established.

Actions did speak louder than words.

He tugged at her pajama shirt. “Take this off. The rest, too.” He eased her off his lap and tossed her robe onto the floor then rested his hands on his spread knees.

“B-but…what about…aren’t you…” Aren’t you going to undress? He could read the question in her eyes.

“Just do as I tell you.”

With only a slight hesitation, she stripped.

Then, with her hands fidgeting at her sides, she waited, like a good subbie. A natural.

From her rounded breasts, his gaze traveled over her tummy. A tiny gold ring pierced her navel. He didn’t remember that from summers at the lake or in the parents’ pool. “Is this new?” he asked.

“I got it a couple of years ago.”

“I like it.” It was sexy as hell and suggested she might consent to having her nipples or clitoral hood pierced. He eyed her mound. Bare. Perfect. He continued his slow visual tour, following the long lines of her legs down to her rosy toenails and then back up again to her face.

A blush tinted her cheekbones, but desire flickered in her eyes. She liked being on display for him. He’d bet anything her pussy was sopping wet.

Submissive to his Dominant. Feminine to his masculine. Light to his darkness. His perfect partner. What a fool he’d been to wait so long. Lust surged, and the need to stake his claim swelled, but he forced back the urge.

First things first. “I left a duffel by the front door. Please bring it to me.”

She left the room. He admired the backside view. Her ass belonged to him.

She came back with the bag.

“Set it there.” He pointed to a spot beside the sofa.

Curiosity lit her gaze, but she didn’t ask about it. He liked how she waited for his instruction. He’d do more than that. He’d show her. He wasn’t sure yet how much of the bag’s contents he would use tonight, but he wanted his supplies within easy reach. “At the party, I was going to tell you about the Rod and Cane Society.”

That got a reaction. She planted her hands on her hips. “You want to talk about that now?” She looked so cute standing their naked and feisty. Not cute—fucking amazing. His fantasy come to life. He desired an obedient, submissive partner, but not a doormat.

“It bears on what’s going to happen next.”

“Aren’t we going to have sex?”

“Yes, but not until after I spank you.”

Rose’s Are Red by Ashe Barker:

I know when he approaches me, I can sense him, right behind me. I lift my head when he lays his hand across my hair. My eyes are closed. He strokes my hair, then closes his fist around a handful of it. He tugs my head back and around to face him as he crouches beside me.

“Look at me, Rose.” His voice is not harsh, but I know I must obey.

I open my eyes. His face is close to mine, his own eyes a deep blue, more intent than before, and his handsome features hardened into that Dom mask I recognise. I should be scared. Incredibly, the more controlling he becomes the safer I feel.

“Sir?”

He breaks our connection to peruse my naked body, then captures my gaze again. “You’re beautiful, little sub.”

“So are you, Sir.”

He smiles. “You think so now. I may be able to cure you of that. I’m going to start by clamping your nipples.”

My reservations of just moments ago evaporate. “Yes, Sir. Thank you.”

“Put your hands behind your head.”

I lift my arms and do as he tells me. He strides across to the chest of drawers where he picks up a pair of clamps, then returns to stand in front of me. He opens his hand before my face to allow me to study the delicate-looking tweezer clamps, then he slips them into his jeans pocket.

“Stand up, Rose, and keep still.”

It’s not so easy to comply with my hands positioned as they are but I manage to get to my feet. I know what to expect. He will squeeze and twist my nipples to make them erect, hard as pebbles, then he’ll apply the clamps. This will hurt. It’s my first test.

“Look at me while I do this. Don’t look away, don’t lower your eyes, or close them. I have no near neighbours so no one will be disturbed. You can be as vocal as you please. Do not suffer in silence, I expect you to let me know how you are feeling.”

“Yes, Sir,” I whisper.

He takes each of my nipples between his fingers and thumbs and tightens his grip, He tugs, and I step toward him.

“Did I tell you to move?”

“No, Sir. I apologise.”

“No, indeed. I distinctly instructed you to keep still. I expect you to obey.”

“I’m sorry. I will, Sir.”

“We’ll try again then. Remember, you have safe words if you need them.”

I gnaw on my lower lip as he takes my nipples in his harsh grip again and goes to work. He compresses the tender buds between his fingers and thumbs until I can’t contain my squeal of pain. Only then does he stop ramping up the pressure, though he does not reduce it one jot. He twists, tugs, tortures the swollen peaks as I yelp and whimper in pain. The entire time his gaze is locked on mine, his eyes searching for – what?

It’s too much. I open my mouth to utter yellow, though it might come out as red.

boundspankedloved_promo

 

Author Bio:

Cari Silverwood is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling writer of BDSM and kinky, dark-erotic fiction. Contemporary Mff romance, urban fantasy, steampunk, scifi, historical, and erotic parody have all fallen under her pen.

Annabel Joseph is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling BDSM romance author known for her emotionally intense storylines. She writes mainly contemporary romance, although she has been known to dabble in the medieval and Regency eras.

Natasha Knight is a #1 Amazon Bestselling Author in Erotic Sci-fi and a top 10 bestseller in several other categories, including Military Romance, BDSM erotica and Paranormal Erotica. Her books include spanking romance, and, more recently, dark romances.

Trent Evans is a #1 Amazon best-selling author in Military Romance, along with top 100 spots in several other romance and erotica genres. As both a writer and editor, he specializes in BDSM romance and erotica, his stories often exploring the darker, more intense aspects of power exchange. Though he still thinks of himself as nothing more than a dancing monkey, miraculously, people still pay him for his work.

Alta Hensley is a #1 Amazon best-selling erotic romance author who has had top-selling books in erotic science fiction, humor, BDSM and historical. She writes the naughty…and then the cure for it.

Sue Lyndon is a #1 Amazon bestseller in BDSM Erotica and Sci-Fi Erotica, as well as an Amazon Top 100 Erotic and Science Fiction author. She writes naughty spanking romances in a variety of genres, from contemporary to historical to fantasy.

Ashe Barker is a #1 Amazon best-selling erotic romance author in LGBT, as well as having numerous spells in the Top 100 erotic and BDSM charts. She writes contemporary and historical romance, with a strong BDSM flavour, the hotter the better

Cara Bristol is a #1 Amazon best seller in science fiction romance and an ARe Bestseller. She writes contemporary, science fiction, and paranormal erotic romance.

Sierra Cartwright is an award-winning, #1 Amazon and international best selling author of contemporary BDSM romance. “If you’re not reading her books, you’re missing out.”–Confessions From Romaholics

Emily Tilton, whose books have hit number one on Amazon in four different erotica categories, wishes she could live out her fantasies of submission the way her characters do.

Kallista Dane is a #1 Amazon best-selling author in Sci-fi erotica, as well as a Top 100 author of deliciously naughty spanking stories in BDSM, Erotic Suspense and Historical Romance.

Katherine Deane is a multi published, top 100 erotic and BDSM author. She writes sweet and sexy spanking romances that always have an HEA.

Korey Mae Johnson is an author, a cover artist, and the co-owner of Stormy Night Publications. She enjoys writing kink-themed erotic romance with unique characters and settings, and her two top-selling books have each sold over 8,000 copies.

Renee Rose is a #1 Amazon best-seller in Erotic Paranormal and Erotic Sci-fi categories and a top 5 best seller in Erotic Suspense. She was named Eroticon USA’s Next Top Erotic Author.

 

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Taken (Forced Submission Series) by Jessica Fox

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Taken
Jessa Fox
Publication date: February 8th 2016
Genres: Erotica, Romance

Since the moment Chase and Evan spotted Shay, they knew they had to have her. They are best friends, closer, brothers really. They do everything together including women, and they always get what they want.

Once they set their plan she doesn’t stand a chance. She will be theirs, point blank. Period.

There’s no way she’s getting away from what they have in store, and whether she likes it or not, she will be owned by them both.

Goodreads / Amazon

Are you a book reviewer?

You can request a review copy of Taken here!

SNEAK PEEKS:

“Listen please. I have people who will be looking for me, wondering where I am.”

“None of that matters now, your ours for the taking, to do whatever we want with, so you may as well sit back, relax and enjoy it.”

The lights were dim, but I could still see pretty clearly. There was also a couch place along one wall. Then as I try to sit up, I realize that I can’t because my hands and feet are tied to the bed with tight ropes on my feet and scarves on my hands.

“Hey look Chase, she’s coming to.” I hear a male voice say.

“Yeah, I see. Wake up princess. It’s time to get the party started.”

 

Author Bio:

Hi, my name is Jessa Fox. I’m a professional by day and an erotica writer by night. There’s nothing I love more than writing all of the smutty stories that are in my head and bringing them to life. I specialize in writing down all the taboo, sexy scenarios that we all wish we could experience, at least once.

But maybe that’s just me.

I’m also a wife and mom, and dutiful member of the Parent’s Association. Shh, don’t tell.

Jessa Fox is my pseudonym, because no one knows about all of the kinky stories and characters I love to create. They would never imagine all of the dirty thoughts running through my mind.

I hope you enjoy my stories as much as I love writing them. If you’re looking for a quick smutty treat, you came to the right place.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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National Libraries Day

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(reblogged from Nanny Cool)

 
Do you ever go to the library? 

know I do not go at all now as if I want a book I just pop one in the basket at Tesco along with the shopping or I go on-line and pick it up from Amazon and within a couple of days it is delivered to my door.  If I want to look something up or find out about some history or geography then I use Google, most households have a computer or gadget to go on the Internet to find out anything they want.

So, what is the purpose of libraries?  

1) People that cannot afford to buy books.

2) For those that have no internet.  Most libraries have a computer room as well.

Read the rest of the post here at Nanny Cool.

Review: Chi-Raq by Spike Lee

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(reblogged from Canadian Cinephile)

chi-raq

 

Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq is a blistering, potent, hilarious, poignant work of art. The 2015 motion picture weaves broad comedy with compelling drama and ornery music, generating a mess of emotions and reactions. It’s a film designed to provoke and it’s never content to just sit on the screen as a passive piece of nothing. It’s alive and lively, a forceful ode to how cinema can still move mountains.

Lee directs Chi-Raq like a prizefighter. Sometimes he throws muscled punches to the body, while sometimes he mixes in scientific jabs. Sometimes he swings for the fences with a glorious haymaker that misses its target but still stirs the audience with the sheer potency behind the effort. He’s always moving, with Matthew Libatique’s expert lens there to track the action.

Based on Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, the film introduces Nick Cannon as Chi-raq. He’s the leader of the purple-clad Spartans, a Chicago street gang at war with the orange-clad Trojans. The city is torn apart by violence and one day a young girl is murdered. The mother (Jennifer Hudson) cleans her daughter’s blood off the streets the incident effects Chi-raq’s girlfriend Lysistrata (Teyonah Parris) profoundly.

After an arsonist tries to get the better of Chi-raq, Lysistrata has really had enough. She moves in with Miss Helen (Angela Bassett) and comes up with a plan. She urges all the women of Chicago to deny their men access to the booty until the violence ends. In order to restore normal relations, the gangs will have to lay down their arms and agree to a peace treaty.

Read the rest of the review here at Canadian Cinephile.

The Phoenix Project by D.M. Cain

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Title: The Phoenix Project
Author: D.M. Cain
Genre: Psychological Thriller

A thought provoking and compelling dystopian world that will change the way you view justice…

A man fights for life—and redemption—in D. M. Cain’s riveting new novel, The Phoenix Project.

Britain has descended into chaos as violence and terrorist attacks seethe across this once-peaceful country. Outraged by the steady stream of lawlessness, citizens demand a harsher penal system, and the Phoenix Project is born.

In prisons across the country, inmates fight to the death in a weekly bloodbath while the nation cheers them on.

Raven Kennedy, a prisoner who has never forgiven himself for his unspeakable crime, struggles against his own guilt and self-loathing. But even as the real war wages on within himself, Raven is forced to battle some of the prison’s most ruthless killing machines. Can he survive long enough to unravel the anger and regret that shackle him—and one day find the forgiveness he seeks?

‘The Phoenix Project by D.M. Cain is a superbly written debut, soaked in tension and intrigue,’ Jack Croxall, author of the ‘Tethers’ trilogy.

Buy it at Amazon.

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D.M. Cain is a dystopian and fantasy author working for US publisher Booktrope. She has released three novels: The Phoenix Project – a psychological thriller set in a dystopian future, Soren – a middle-grade fantasy, and A Chronicle of Chaos – the first in a dark fantasy series. She is currently working on the next novel in the series, ‘The Shield of Soren’, and a novella to accompany it.

D.M. Cain is also a member of the International Thriller Writers and is one of the creators and administrators of the online author group #Awethors. Her short story ‘The End’ was published in Awethology Dark – an anthology by the #Awethors.

Cain lives in Leicestershire, UK, with her husband and young son, and spends her time reading, writing and reviewing books, playing RPGs and listening to symphonic metal.

Connect with DM Cain on: FB / Twitter / Pinterest / Goodreads / Amazon / Website / Google+

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Review: Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman

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(reblogged from Paragraph Film Reviews)

Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman

Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman Tráiganme la cabeza de la mujer metralleta Fernanda Urrejola, Matías Oviedo, Jorge Alis, Sofía García, Alex Rivera, Felipe Avello, Pato Pimienta, Francisca Castillo Behind Ass Booty

Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman (Tráiganme la cabeza de la mujer metralleta): a geeky gamer must track down and kill a sexy assassin – The Machine Gun Woman – to save his own life. Although marketed as a Tarantino / Grindhouse flavoured low-budget B-movie it feels more like a guerilla film: short, cheap, and resourceful… natural light, minimal FX, no frills. The plot is split into missions/chapters marked by Grand Theft Auto fonts, and more generally the film is shot from the games’ camera angles, to give the feel the lead is playing his own version of GTA.

Read the rest here at Paragraph Film Reviews.

The Fine Art of Cursing

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(reblogged from Legends of Windemere)

Minion Meme

Warning: Crude language ahead.

This might not be a long post because it feels like a simple topic.  Just like sex and violence, cursing is a personal preference category.  Some people freak out when you say ‘damn’ while others laugh when you say stuff that is a lot more vulgar.  It’s rather interesting how we have a saying ending with ‘words will never hurt me’ and we also have a list of words you can’t say in most situations.  Most of them have mundane versions that you can say or you can use #*^@! instead.  I’m sure nobody can figure out what f*ck or sh^t is.

Read the rest of the article here at Legends of Windemere.

Friday Chapter Reveal: There Once Were Stars by Melanie McFarlane

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Today Melanie McFarlane and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for THERE ONCE WERE STARS, which releases April 26, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive a eGalley!!
 
A quick note from the author:

I have anticipated this moment for months—the moment I would be able to share
my cover with all of you! When I first laid eyes on the cover for THERE ONCE
WERE STARS I was immediately drawn to the stars and how they are escaping their
glass prison. In my novel, the main character, Natalia Greyes, is also locked
in a glass prison: her home, Dome 1618. During Nat’s childhood the stars became
more visible in the sky, after being blocked by darkness for decades after the
Cleansing Wars. Like the stars, Nat is a symbol of change as she transforms
from a naïve youth into a strong teen, who searches for her place in her tiny
world of Dome 1618, and dreams of escaping to the outside one day. But my
favorite detail of all is the grass and how cool and inviting it is in contrast
to the hard sheen of the glass jar. It can be seen as a symbol of how mankind
can never capture or truly duplicate the beauty of nature, or the wonder of
life itself.
 
Don’t forget to check out my trailer on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuTOuBPX11k
On to the reveal! 
 
 
Title: THERE ONCE WERE STARS
Author: Melanie McFarlane
Pub. Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback & eBook
Find it:  Goodreads

 

Peace. Love. Order. Dome. That’s the motto that the Order has given the residents of Dome 1618 to live by. Natalia Greyes is a resident of Dome 1618, a covered city protected from the deadly radiation that has poisoned the world outside for four generations. Nat never questioned the Order, until one day she sees a stranger on the outside of the dome. Now Nat wants answers. Is there life outside the dome and if so, what has the Order been hiding from everyone?
 
Exclusive Excerpt

Chapter One

I stretch my arms across my bed, running my fingers along the same sheets I’ve had since I was a child. The stiffness was beaten out of them long ago, but they still carry the memory of my mother carefully stitching the first tear back together when I was seven. The tiny x’s remind me of her long fingers, moving the needle back and forth with the same care as when she worked with samples in her laboratory.

I trace the row stitches, squeezing my eyes shut as I make a wish; it is my eighteenth birthday, after all. But when I open them, the same scene shows from my bedroom window that always does—the grid of our dome. Nothing changes. It doesn’t matter how many birthday wishes are made; I always wake up trapped inside the dome. The grid of thick glass and steel arcs far above our apartment, stretching to where the great Axis, a tower of government offices, meets the peak of our home—Dome 1618.

I crawl out of bed and let my gaze trail down the Axis to the rooftops of the other apartment buildings, row upon row of housing for blue-collar workers. Closer to the Axis are townhouses of the business owners, hidden from the rest of us, but that’s not where I long to be. My eyes drift to the base of the dome, far away from my window where the Outer Forest lies, my only saving grace. It’s forbidden to hike among the trees, but sometimes rules need to be broken.

“Natalia!” Grandmother’s piercing voice comes from the other side of my bedroom door. “Get up. You’re wasting the day away.”

The clock on my dresser reads eight o’clock in the morning. Seriously? It’s been nine years since I moved in with my grandparents, and saying Grandmother and I have differing opinions barely touches the surface. Her rules are sometimes worse than those of the Order, who police the dome. With any luck, I’ll be assigned my own apartment soon and can finally restart my life, again.

I run my brush through my long brown hair, although by the time I go outside it will look unruly once again. It’s my curse; I have thick hair like my mother, with waves that look more like oddly-placed kinks, unlike the smooth-flowing locks worn by some of the other girls at my school. But I won’t have to go back to the Learning Institute again. Today I’m an adult.

My jeans are on the floor where I left them last night, and I manage to find a clean T-shirt in my drawer. Both have the same tiny stitches as my sheets, covering up the wear and tear over the years, but I sewed these back together myself. Grandmother is firm on the fact that if I don’t take care of what I have, I don’t get a replacement. There’s no point in arguing when her opinions are as deep as the wrinkles on her face, and honestly, it’s hard to tell which she has more of. Before I leave my room, I grab my mother’s notebook. It’s filled with her sketches and work notes on different projects she was involved in. But my favorites are the tiny notes, squeezed in the margins, excerpt of her personal thoughts, hopes, and dreams. The biggest of these was to move her family outside the dome.

“I know you were out last night,” Grandmother says, eyeing me suspiciously between the milk and dry toast as I slip into my seat at the table.

“Must we have this conversation every morning?” Grandfather speaks up.

“You know the ramifications!” Grandmother shrills, and he shrinks in his chair. “Do you want to let her stroll around at night past curfew? One day she won’t come home, and then we will be questioned.” Grandmother redirects her attention to me. “What are you doing out there that’s important enough to risk everything? Haven’t I warned you? If the Order catches you, you will wish you had listened to me.”

“That’s my problem.” I fold my arms across my chest. She always makes me back down with her words. If I’m going to be an adult, I need to learn how to take a stand.

“If your parents could only see you now,” she says unsympathetically. “They would wonder how they got a daughter so determined to get herself detained. You know what they do with little girls who don’t follow the rules.”

“Yes,” I say through gritted teeth. She’s given these lectures many times. Girls who don’t follow the rules are sent back to the Learning Institute for retraining, where they come out all prim and proper, ready to take their place as functional citizens of the dome. I’m not going back there; I know how to stay under the radar.

“Come on, now.” Grandfather finally steps in. “It’s Nat’s birthday.”

“Yes.” Her tone softens. “You’re eighteen now. Hurry and eat; we got you a little something.”

I gobble down the toast, stale as it is, but fresh food is not something that our dome has had in a long time. Since the accident that caused my parents’ death, the Order stopped all excursions for scientific research, completely cutting off the outside world. Prior to this, there were plenty of rations from the farms due to uncontaminated seeds the expedition teams found, along with new plant life for supplementing the crops. But those stockpiles have slowly depleted.

When I finish breakfast, I look at my grandparents in anticipation. Grandfather’s face is beaming, and though Grandmother looks like she is trying to be serious, I can see a small sparkle in her eyes as she hands me a tiny green box with a little purple bow. The bow is smooth, made from fabric nicer than anything I own. I gently untie it, and put the silky strand safely in my pocket, before opening the box to see what is inside.

A silver, heart-shaped locket sits on top of fine tissue paper, so delicate I don’t dare touch it in case it rips. An image of two hands holding a smaller heart is engraved into the center of the locket. This is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen—I’ve never owned jewelry of my own. My hands are shaking so bad I almost drop the box.

“Careful!” Grandmother’s voice snaps me from my awe. She grabs the box from me, and it takes all my inner strength to let it go.

She removes the necklace from the box and opens the locket, holding it out to me. Inside, is a photo of my parents on their wedding day. Photos are luxuries. I only own one other— a photo of me with my parents when I turned three—and it stays safe on my nightstand. But this locket—I can take it with me anywhere. I hold up my hair, allowing Grandmother to secure it around my neck, then grasp the tiny keepsake in my hand. I will cherish it forever.

“I’m going to show this to Jak and Xara,” I say, leaving the table.

“Don’t forget, you have to report to work today.” Grandmother reminds me.

“But it’s Saturday.” I groan.

“You’re eighteen now,” she says, her eyes vacant of the compassion they held only seconds ago. “Your time to contribute to the dome begins today. Plus, any experience is good to have if you want to be a scientist one day, like your parents.”

“I don’t see how cleaning toilets at the Axis will do me any good in the future,” I complain. “And I never said I want to be a scientist.”

“You’ll find where you’re meant to be.” Grandfather smiles. “Understanding everything from the bottom-up will help you make a better decision about what you want to do to make your contribution.”

I sigh as I lace up my sneakers, now feeling the pressure of the future. I have no idea what I want to do today, let alone the rest of my life. But it definitely does not involve cleaning up after those in the Axis. I wave good-bye as I leave the apartment, but only Grandfather waves back. My number one fan; he always tries to keep the peace between Grandmother and I. But no matter how close we are, I still have to lie about where I’m really going. No one can know about my secret place.

Outside, I stretch my arms up toward the top of the dome. The sun shines through the dust covered glass of the dome, with sections of blue sky showing here and there. I sneak around the back of our apartment building, and begin my stealthy weave through alleyways. I have hours before my first shift starts at the Axis. Hours to spend somewhere the Order can’t find me.

When I reach the Outer Forest, I sneak in a break in the fence and move between the trunks of trees, inhaling the last of the old world. The rich combination of musk and earth fills my lungs as I run as fast as I can from the fence. Running is one of the few things that make me feel free. When I reach my destination, I’m out of breath, but exactly where I belong—a hidden clearing at the edge of the dome.

I crawl inside a hollowed-out tree I’ve claimed as my own. How did the Order miss this lone tree, dying amidst the perfection of the Outer Forest? It should have been torn down long ago, to make room for larger, healthier, oxygen bearing trees. Decay doesn’t coincide with the Order’s pursuit for perfection and efficiency, but it’s ideal for me: hidden, empty, and alone. I accept this tree’s imperfections and it offers me solace.

I clutch my locket again, this time removing it from my neck so I can look inside. A twinge of pain prickles my throat as my parents’ faces stare back at me. They look so happy and in love. I remember that about them. The in love part. I haven’t thought about people in love for so long.

I lean back, holding the locket against my chest, intent on enjoying the morning sun. Unfortunately, the heat of the sun doesn’t penetrate the cold glass of the dome, but something about that glowing orb in those blue skies makes me feel better. Mom wrote in her notebook about the first time she felt the sun on her skin: warm and, bright, as if it gave her a new life with its rays, just like it did to the world, after the Cleansing Wars. I close my eyes, imagining myself bathed in sunlight, and finally give in to the peace of the forest.

I wake up, feeling something sharp poking my side. I can’t believe I drifted off. My hand shoots behind me, to find the source of the pain. My mother’s notebook is jutting awkwardly from my back pocket. I stand up to tuck it back in, and my gaze slips above a line of bushes growing wildly along the base of the dome. At the same time, something flashes above them, and my breath catches in my throat. My reflection stares back at me from the glass, revealing my locket shining in the sunlight. Relax, Dacie, it’s only you. A nervous laugh escapes my throat, as I finish putting the notebook away.

Another light flashes, but this time it’s in the distance, on the other side of the glass. I lean forward, focusing on the light, and see a shadow move on the other side. My entire body goes rigid, and my heart beat thunders in my ears. No one could be out there—unless—could it be an Infected? No, that’s impossible. They were all killed by the Cleansing War—everything was. If the nukes didn’t kill them, the nuclear fallout afterward would have.

Something moves again—closer this time. A gasp escapes my lips, as a shudder rips through my body. That’s when I see it—the faint outline of a person standing in the open. He’s camouflaged by a layer of dust, blending him into the barren landscape that surrounds the dome. The figure’s shadow stretches across the ground, reaching toward me.

I rub my eyes, as if something in them could be making me see the figure, but when I open them I’m startled to see the figure again, only now there are two. One stays farther back, toward the rockier land, silhouetted against the foothills in the distance. The other stands a short distance from the dome. My heart skips a beat—they’re both human, and they’re both staring in my direction.

 

About Melanie: 
Whether it’s uncovering the corruption of the future, or traveling to other worlds to save the universe, Melanie McFarlane jumps in with both hands on her keyboard. Thought she can be found obsessing over zombies and orcs from time to time, Melanie has focused her powers on her two upcoming YA novels: THERE ONCE WERE STARS and SUMMONER RISING. 

 

 

Giveaway Details: 1 winner will receive the FIRST eGalley of THERE ONCE WERE STARS. International.

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Also Melanie is giving away swag enter that giveaway too!
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Organic Book Marketing

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(reblogged from chrismcmullen)

Image from Shutterstock.

ORGANIC BOOK MARKETING

I take a long-term approach to book marketing.

My goal is to generate periodic sales over the course of several years.

I’m more interested in how well the book sells years after its release than how well it says when it makes its debut.

Granted, a book often gets its best traffic in the beginning, so anything you might do to improve that could be a significant boost.

But if you can get the book to sell consistently for years instead of tailing off, time can provide a huge boost of its own.

That’s the potential of organic book marketing, if you can pull it off effectively.

Organic book marketing also doesn’t tend to be depend as strongly on the latest marketing trends.

There are some fundamental marketing strategies that work long-term even in a dynamic market, whereas short-term strategies tend to be trendy.

We’ll consider several aspects of book marketing, and what it might mean to be organic.

BOOK REVIEWS

As a customer shopping for products at Amazon, if you read customer reviews, would you prefer to read organic reviews? I would.

What makes a review organic?

It can’t get any more organic than this:

  • A customer discovers a book.
  • The customer takes the initiative to review the book.
  • The customer leaves genuine feedback for the book.

Amazon considers a review to be more organic when the customer discovers the book on Amazon.com and the review shows the Verified Purchase label. Amazon’s new machine-learning algorithm, which determines which reviews get more exposure, favors a Verified Purchase.

The machine-learning algorithm looks at more than just whether or not the review is Verified. For example, it also looks at Yes vs. No votes. There are multiple factors. In general, most of these factors favor organic reviews.

Obviously, when a customer discovers a book in a bookstore, reads the book, and leaves a review on Amazon, it’s just as organic. Although it won’t have that Verified Purchase tag, potential customers will see an honest opinion to help them with their purchases.

Even if the customer discovers the book because the author employed effective interpersonal marketing skills, it’s still an organic review if the customer leaves unbiased feedback. In fact, customers are more likely to review a book having interacted with the author.

The problem, of course, is that customer book reviews often come at a very slow rate. It can take 100 to 200 sales, on average, to get a single review. (These numbers may vary considerably, depending on subgenre, for example.) And if the book is selling one copy every few days, that may very well seem like never.

And some book promotion sites, like BookBub, require a minimum number of reviews.

Thus, authors are tempted to look for less organic methods of seeking reviews.

Most customers think they can tell, to some extent, organic reviews from inorganic ones:

  • Suppose a book has a sales rank of 1,000,000, was released 30 days ago, and already has 20 reviews. It may seem suspicious.
  • Organic reviews tend to show a degree of balanced opinions, and a few tend to be off-the-wall. There is a certain variety of opinions and the expression of them typical of Amazon.
  • Checking out what else the reviewer has reviewed can also seem to tell a tale.

Amazon’s SEO can probably tell organic reviews from inorganic ones, to some extent. (Even if it doesn’t do this well now, it probably will in the future.)

If you can find effective ways to generate more sales, that will help to generate more organic reviews.

And then there is always review karma. This philosophy is to post reviews of books you have read, and hope that the universe returns the favor.

But that’s different from swapping reviews with fellow authors, which is not organic (and Amazon may choose not to support).

Read the rest of the post here at chrismcmullen.

Notable February Horror Releases

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(reblogged from Rare Horror)

Odds are high that The Witch is at the top of your “must watch” list this month, rightfully so.  If period set horror isn’t your thing, though, February has a lot more to offer.  Check out this month’s notable releases.

Theatrical and VOD releases:

February 5

Regression

regression

Set in 1990, a daughter accuses her father of an unspeakable crime; one he has no recollection of committing. When he admits to his guilt despite this, a psychiatrist is brought in and together they uncover evidence of a widespread satanic cult.  For some reason this one has flown under the radar despite big starring names like Ethan Hawke, Emma Watson, and David Thewlis.  It was written and directed by Alejandro Amenabar, known for period ghost story The Others.

Southbound

southbound

Some of the people behind the popular V/H/S series have teamed up for another anthology, this time connecting five interlocking tales that features a group of travelers facing their worst nightmares on a stretch of desert highway.  A festival circuit darling, this anthology promises tons of gore and very dark humor.

The Pack

The Pack

A family facing foreclosure must contend with more than the bank when a pack of feral, bloodthirsty dogs close in on their land.  A violent battle for survival ensues between the dogs and the family, in this based on true events story set in rural Australia.  Filmed outside of Adelaide, South Australia, you can expect a very brutal man versus wild showdown.

Feburary 19

The Witch

The Witch

Set in 1630, Robert Eggers’ directorial debut follows a farmer and his family forced to move to a remote plot of land at the edge of ominous woods rumored to be filled with witches.  When strange things begin to happen, paranoia mounts and fingers are pointed at the teenage daughter.  Faith, loyalty, and love will be tested in shocking and horrific ways.  The critical acclaim alone makes this worth watching, but the mounting dread and atmosphere in the trailers promises this will be a film that will get under your skin.

 

Check out more releases here at Rare Horror.

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