The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Thanksgiving is a time for reflection. Sometimes in life you just have to stop, inhale deeply then, look around and count your blessings.

2013 has been pretty tough for me but I've also had many successes thus far. There's been a lot of change, a lot of turmoil and a lot of uncertainty in my life this year.  I let all that go today to focus on what's positive.

I spent the day with my daughter and her family. My Prince is embarking on a new phase in his life as today was his birthday. My nephew who I raised from a little boy has a family of his own. It's very gratifying to see the changes in their lives. It's nice to see your children build their own lives, start new traditions forcing you to look at them differently.

I watched my daughter today host a feast for fifteen people including myself, her in-laws, her "little brother," his family, her childhood friend and her boyfriend, my sister and my brother-in-law. When I think back to when my daughter and nephew were little kids fighting the way siblings do, I never would have imagined a day like today.

The chatter.

The laughter.

The games.

There was complete and utter joy. Three generations of MY family; people that came from ME. I am a matriarch.



Today I am thankful for that and more. I am blessed to have the friends I have, for the good things in my life, and above all, I am grateful for my health; my ability to live independently. I am thankful for the opportunities afforded me -- ones I never would have imagined in a million years coming my way.

Days like this especially, I miss my Dad. I miss my Mom -- the woman she used to be. Nothing could replace the memories I have of the life I had with my parents. But, today, I've been blessed to oversee my own branch of this family --- my family.

Thank you Joseph Sultana and All Media Radio for the faith and support you have shown me. Thank you to my station colleague and friend, Scott Samain for your support and kindness.

Thank you Edward Medina for the love you have shown me.

Thank you to my readers, my Twitter and Facebook followers. I am nothing without you all.

Thank you to my Pink Diamond Inspirations -- Kevin Swarbrick, Johanna Pitcairn, James L. Rubart, Montgomery Granger, Robbi Sommers Bryant, M.J. Kane, Carmen DeSousa.

I owe you lovely souls so much. So many of you inspire me. This post does not adequately express my deep and abiding gratitude to you all. I know I left people out and I apologize. You are all blessings in my life.

So often we are quick to point out and dwell on the negative. I have been guilty of that, but the fact of the matter is that I would not be able to do what I love without you all. You all keep me bouyed.

You are all inspirations for me.

Thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

~~ML

Monday, September 9, 2013

I Don't Believe in Coincidence

Have you ever met someone and instantly loved them ... or hated them; or vice versa? If so, have you ever wondered why?

This has happened to me. Sometimes it's just nice for me to meet them. Sometimes it's not so nice -- there are no fuzzy feelings on either side when it's not so nice. Sometimes the not-so-nice-feelings emanating from that other person make me uncomfortable; sometimes they make me defiant and I decide not to go anywhere until we get it straightened out. 

I think this is all part of the message in that famous poem "A Reason, A Season or A Lifetime" that is so widely quoted. If you've never read it, watch the video below.


In my day job, I am always on the phone with clients. Some love me; some merely tolerate me. That's fine by me. 

In my personal life, I don't have any trouble starting conversations with random people. Hell, I'd talk to a tree if I thought it would talk back to me! And, every once in a while, some of those random conversations plant the seed for new friendships.

In my media life, I regularly talk with experts when doing research for whatever novel I'm working on and I'm conducting interviews all the time for my radio show. All of this I love doing because I am naturally curious about the human experience.

But it is rare for me to meet anyone who so moves me as to blog about it. This is one of those rare occasions. So, why? What is it about this/these person/people that's got me so charged? 

Well, here's the thing:

In this new era of virtual relationships/friendships, it is easy to hide behind a keyboard and create a persona; an image that will be appealing to an audience. Like I said, I like to meet people, but oftentimes, when I meet someone in real life after a virtual friendship, I am disappointed in what the reality is.

Yesterday was different.

For several years, I've had an ongoing virtual friendship with fellow Indie Author and NuYorican Edward Medina (click on his name for his FB page). Most recently we'd exchanged emails after the release of his short story AWILDA. He'd just released it, I'd just downloaded it and I wanted him on my Pink Diamond Inspirations Radio Show with All Media Radio. He agreed and said he was in the midst of moving back to NY from Florida and that we should plan on doing this interview in person once he arrived. 

Cool! I responded. But, honestly, I was a little bit concerned. I mean, I don't know this guy from a hole in the wall. Hello? Has anyone heard of catfish?? LOL!! Ok, that may be a little bit out there, but I DO write psychological thrillers, so you can't blame me! 

I don't believe in coincidence. Ed and I hit it off on Twitter when I first joined. Little did I know then that we had so much more in common than our heritage, the similarities in our upbringing and, in my case, a little old book -- his books are far from little old books. From the very beginning, I felt a kinship with him. This was a person who appeared to be very much like me. He came from where I came, looked like I did, wrote the way I wrote and he thought the way I did -- to wit, outside the proverbial box.

In any event, Ed, myself and his IT Goddess (I love that he calls her that!), Nate Hinkle met for brunch yesterday in the city. We broke bread, we chatted and drank mimosas. :) We had so much fun though there were moments where I could have cried -- but I sucked it up and kept it together. The bottom line is: I could not be happier to have met them both -- in person -- nor could I have been more inspired to continue on in what is now a multi-media journey that began with my writing.

Edward Medina and I 

Nate "Ed's IT Goddess" Hinkle and I
At one point I realized that I was sharing memories of me and my Dad and I wasn't crying; I was smiling!! Here it is two days before the 12th anniversary of the tragedy that was 9/11/01 and six days before the 8th anniversary of my Dad's passing and I'm not feeling sad even though those two dates have made me feel inconsolable and morose in the past. The fact that I had that realization while hanging out with these two beautiful souls will never be forgotten by me and that alone will be what binds us.

The three of us have founded a beautiful friendship and for me that is so, so important particularly in this day and age when anything can happen at any time. Stay tuned my friends. You're going to be seeing/hearing a lot from me about Mr. Medina and his IT Goddess, Nate :)  (Hover over their names for links to their twitter accounts and follow them!)

In closing, I ask you this: what girl can't use another girlfriend to do girly things with??

~~ML





Friday, January 18, 2013

Life

If you've followed my blog for any amount of time, you might have learned a few things about me. Not the least of which is how sensitive I can be, how I might lose patience and gripe about things I can't change or how nerdy I can be when I learn some seemingly useless (to some people) piece of information.

One thing you might not know is that when I start to feel lost or melancholy, I tend to pull back and go within myself to figure things out, learn things about myself. That's where I've been, and this is what I've learned:

2012 was a very full year for me. I was still high last New Year's Day from the headiness of having released my debut novel eight months earlier. I remember thinking at the time that I couldn't believe I was still in that euphoric state and how long could I do that?  But by May I was planning long delayed orthopedic surgery and my recovery. I thought: "Cool! Yea, I'll be in pain but I'll be off from work for 3 months and I can write!"

I truly envisioned myself writing the whole time I was in recovery. NOT!!!

I was barely able to move during the first two weeks and heavily medicated for 6 weeks. I know there are some writers who write really good work while sipping on a cocktail or two, but I can't. My mind goes blank -- my brains are, literally, mashed potatoes.

My brain on mind-altering drugs

I can almost hear them squishing about in my head. So imagine how worthless I was feeling during those first six precious weeks. Eventually, I was able to finish "Divergent Lives" during that time and a few weeks later, I returned to work as did that dark shadow hanging over me. What a cruel twist to have had the opportunity to get a taste of what life could be, only to have reality smack me on the forehead.

I know. I'm rambling. Bear with me ... I'm getting there.

This week a co-worker/friend died unexpectedly. We used to work together on the same floor but two years ago, my firm's NY office moved and departments were split between two locations. Dion worked at the second location, so except for facebook exchanges I had very little contact with him after the move. He is the second person working out of the second location who passed away in less than a year.This saddens me especially since I don't handle this kind of loss very well. Are you kidding me? I still cry over my father's passing 7 years ago.

That's the way I am.What can I tell you?

In addition, I've not been entirely happy since I returned to work.I am extremely grateful to have a job, particularly since I am my sole source of income. So, please don't chastise me for my feelings. The truth of the matter is that I got a taste of what it would be like to be able to write whenever I felt like it. I got used to not having to rush to go anywhere during rush hour and dealing with the masses. When you work someplace for as long as I have, things might linger until you return, or things might change. My job has changed a bit, I've changed .. a lot .. but life goes on and I've learned to adjust.

I am happiest when I'm creating; writing; talking about creating, and writing some more. In fact, writing this post has lifted my spirits to heights I haven't been in weeks.

I am the luckiest girl in the world to be able to openly share my thoughts and feelings without fearing ridicule and looks of confusion someone might have who doesn't get it. Some of you might feel or have felt the same way. To share with people who are like minded makes me feel less alone and grateful to have found my passion.

My friend Dion's passing is testimony to the fact that life is precious and you never know when it's all going to be snatched away. All the more reason to follow your bliss. Writing is mine.

~~ML

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The End of 2012 and a New Beginning: 2013

2012 was a very full and interesting year for me.

I connected with new people who will forever be a part of my life. I re-connected with some who I'd been out of touch with and ended ties with others. The one constant factor here is that everyone I've encountered in my life this year has left an indelible mark on me ... good, bad or indifferent -- that mark is there and will always be.

I had major surgery -- knee replacement -- that also left a mark on me -- not to mention a prosthetic :)

I realized that my baby boy, Dayne, is on his way to becoming a young man -- I mean, really? Where did the time go?? He's looking at Junior High Schools!! That's left a mark on me. Aging sucks man!

I released my second novel "Divergent Lives" and received four five-star reviews within the first two weeks of its release! This has left a huge mark on me. I am not only extremely grateful, but extremely humbled -- and desirous to get back to writing my urban fantasy series in order to keep my readers not only hooked, but also, hopefully, yearning for more.

As I sit here reviewing the past year, I feel like crying; crying from joy; relief and a little bit of frustration.

I am relieved because my surgery was successful and the pain I had been in over the last few years has lessened. I still need to go back and get my other knee done, but for now, I'm hoping to soon remember what it was like to climb the stairs without pain.

I am joyous because I was able to finish Divergent Lives in a flash after I was taken off medication. I am joyous because I met someone who I would eventually pass it on to -- someone who shared my vision; someone who would enjoy the process of editing it because she is just like me. Admit it, Andi -- we're cut from the same cloth :)

I am frustrated because I wish I had the means to dedicate myself to all things involved with writing and marketing/promoting my works full time. I am frustrated because as much as I would like to engage my readers on a more regular, extended basis, I can not do that. My day job, though I am grateful for that as well, demands attention during normal business hours --- and -- I have a mortgage....

I hold on to the positive experiences I've had this year and I recognize that I am truly blessed. So many people are not afforded the opportunities I have been lucky to have.

It is customary to make resolutions this time of year in the hopes that by keeping them, the person making them can be a better model of themselves a year later. Oftentimes, those resolutions aren't kept. I say, make resolutions every day. It's difficult to list all the things you want for a new year and attain all those things within a 12 month period. Why not pick one thing; one big thing and strive for achieving that in the coming year.

Placing all your focus and efforts on just one thing can open doors you never dreamed were open to you.

This year I will re-focus on putting, having and keeping faith in myself. I will remain steadfast in my determination to attain my dream even if it takes longer than 12 months.

Think about that.

To you, my readers, fans, friends, colleagues: May the year 2013 bring you much love, excellent health, joyous days and strength within yourselves to manifest the success you are worthy of!

Until then....

Happy New Year!

~~ML

Friday, November 2, 2012

Guest Post: A Lesson in Submission by Katie Salidas


Ms. Katie Salidas

For me, writing is a powerful thing. I am the creator of a world and people that until that point had never existed. I rule over this world with a mighty pen and control the fate of the creations within the pages. But, along with great power comes great responsibility. It’s not enough to play god. I have to develop a story that is not only worthy of being read, but also able to be read (published). That often feels like a daunting task. Roadblocks of writer’s block and time constraints often have me feeling frantic that a story will never see itself to completion.

Even with the stress involved, the power of being “the creator” is nice little perk. I often find myself falling in love with the world I’ve created and using it as my escape from the everyday stresses in real life.

That escape element makes writing an intensely personal endeavor. The world I create is my world. It belongs to no one else. I spend a lot of time and energy in developing that vision as I work my world into a readable and enjoyable story. In that world, I grow my characters from seeds of inspiration, and watch them develop into actual entities. Their thoughts and feelings, their lives, their interactions -- they all become real within the confines of that world.

Because of this intensely personal nature, Writing is not a craft that often lends itself to collaboration. Collaboration means giving up control, it means letting someone into my world and trusting that they will not abuse their power while in it.

In that respect, choosing to work with a partner is a lesson in Submission.

It’s not always an easy lesson. This world I’ve created is personal. It’s an extension of myself. Letting someone in is a deeply intimate act.  Once inside, they will have the ability to manage and manipulate my characters. They can do so much damage.

Just as the Dom/Sub relationship relies on trust and faith, so too does the co-authoring partnership. You have to trust that the partner you are working with has a vision and goals that match your own. That both of you, no matter how you might differ on opinions, are working toward the best story possible.
It’s never easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it.

I’ve never been one to relinquish control of anything. I’m more than OCD in my writing. I don’t like having to listen to others opinions. I don’t like people telling me what I should and shouldn’t do with my characters.

Much like our character, Natasha, I like to control it all. And much like Natasha, I find myself feeling heartburn and stressed out over stories that I can’t seem to see to fruition.

But, as I have learned, there are some benefits to letting go of some control.

Writer’s block, being one of the biggest road blocks becomes much smaller an obstacle when there are two writers battling against it. When stalled on a story and I simply cannot find the solution, I’ve learned that if I let go of that control, that need to make this story 100% mine, and to trust in my writing partner, the answers become clear. Sometimes he might have the answer and next step in the vision, and sometimes, just through chatting about the story, the solution presents itself.

Does it always work smoothly, no, but having a partner I can trust, and letting go and trusting him has proven itself to be very beneficial. And at this point, we’ve put out three and we’re working on number four with many more stories to come.



Submission Therapy releases today!!



Billionaire CEO of Blakely Incorporated, Natasha runs her empire with an eagle eye for every detail. She’s an obsessive, compulsive, micromanaging hard-ass, consumed by the need to control every aspect of her life and her business.

But underneath that seemingly strong fa├žade, Natasha is a swirling mess of anger, anxiety and sexual addiction. Only her therapist, Dr. Benson, knows how close she is to burning out...or exploding. He insists on a radical form of treatment – Submission Therapy – knowing that it’s her only hope.

Skeptical but intrigued, Natasha agrees to attend the first session. What she finds there is an erotically-charged environment that will forgive none of her habitual bad behavior. And a steely-eyed man who seems to read her every desire - even the ones she won’t admit to herself.

Will Natasha learn what it means to submit? Or will she allow her brittle pride to rob her of what she truly needs?

***
Hello Readers! Sinner here!

Did Katie's post whet your appetite?  If so, here are some buy links for this wonderful story!


And here are the many ways in which you can reach Katie!


Until next time my friends, this is Sinner...signing off....



Thursday, November 1, 2012

Spotlight on Willsin Rowe and Katie Salidas


Today we shine the spotlight on Willsin Rowe and Katie Salidas, co-authors of Submission Therapy which releases tomorrow!!

Ms. Katie Salidas

It is a well known fact that I love Katie and that I read every word she writes, so it's not unusual that I would also read this new release Submission Therapy.


Submission Therapy is the story about Natasha, CEO of Blakely Incorporated, hard assed, compulsive control freak who is a hot mess underneath it all. Her therapist, Derek Benson, insists she participate in a non-traditional form of treatment after little success with conventional therapy. She is to give up all control and submit to the desires of "Master Sweet."

The story is a quick but attention grabbing read that serves as a great introduction into the world of Dominance/Submission and pain turning into pleasure. You get a good sense early on as to who Natasha vs her therapist, Dr. Benson shown by her impatience and irreverence toward him,.

When Master Sweet's identity was revealed I was surprised, but it made sense perfect sense and I look forward to more from this dynamic duo! 

To whet your appetites, here is an excerpt from Submission Therapy:


Submission Therapy
EXCERPT:
© November 2012 by Willsin Rowe and Katie Salidas

“If your spirit is the equal of your body...” He ran his fingers across my shoulders and down the gully of my spine. “...then it will be a rare pleasure breaking you in.”
Despite my initial apprehension, his words and his touch sent a thrill through me.
He moved from behind me and my back suddenly felt cold. I watched his muscular form as he prowled to the chair, and admired his grace as he mounted it.
“Bind her. Bring her to me.”
Chloe appeared beside me with a length of smooth rope in her hands. My instincts cried out to run, to fight, but I bit down on them. I could see where this was heading and…and I wasn’t sure I hated it.
With practiced efficiency, Chloe had my wrists secured in under a minute. She led me over to Master Sweet and handed him the loose end of rope.
“Slave, lay across my lap.”
I couldn’t help it. I hesitated. This was so new to me. He curled the rope around his wrist and pulled steadily, with a strength I couldn’t resist. With Chloe’s help he had me prone across his lap, my bare ass angled out and vulnerable. My heartbeat sped with a mixture of excitement and uncertainty. Even though there was something so degrading about being put over someone’s lap, there was a part of me that found it...invigorating. I wasn’t about to let him know I felt that way, though. I held my tongue and watched blankly as Chloe worked, binding me in place.
She took the rope and fed it through the eyelet at the base of the chair, leading it underneath and through a matching eyelet on the other side. She walked around and crouched behind me. From my angle I could only see her hands taking the rope, but I could sense her body heat on the backs of my thighs, feel her breath tickling across my ass…and everywhere else. I wondered if she was there to do more than just tie knots.
The rope’s firm grip around my right knee took me out of that reverie. I watched as Chloe fed the rope back through the loop and then around my left knee. I understood the chair’s construction much better now. Looped around it, with Master Sweet’s strong legs as a cushion, I had nowhere to go. Intriguingly, there was still enough slack in the rope that I could spread my knees apart.
“Look in the mirror.”
I raised my head and stared. I barely recognized myself. In the low light, my black hair almost blended with the room. I could see enough to know it was a mess, though.
He slipped his hand onto my ass and rested it there, soft, unmoving. The deceptively light touch sent chills rippling across my body.
“You’ve earned a spanking for your disobedience. You will watch as your punishment is delivered, and you will count the strokes.”
My breath hitched in my chest. Spanking. I hadn’t had one of those since I was a little girl. So demeaning, and yet the thought of it sent heat rushing between my thighs. There was a part of me that longed for it. In a world where I constantly had to think at least six to twelve months ahead, a consequence that was both immediate and tangible somehow felt like a luxury.
He raised his hand, cocked it like a gun. I followed the movement instinctively, admiring the pure power of it, knowing full well that its force was about to come crashing down on me.
“No. Look into your own eyes.”
I did as instructed. My mouth hung open as I tried to catch my breath, which had begun racing. I clenched my muscles and squeezed my thighs together, waiting for what came next.
The blow, when it landed, cracked like a pistol shot. For the slightest instant all I felt was the jolt through my body. My vision blurred with the impact. Then the sting bloomed on my ass and began to tingle. I watched my own mouth stretch, listened as my breath hissed in. I would not cry out.
“Count it!” he demanded.
And here are bios for our authors:

Katie Salidas

Katie Salidas is a Super Woman! Endowed with special powers and abilities, beyond those of mortal women, She can get the munchkins off to gymnastics, cheerleading, Girl Scouts, and swim lessons.  She can put hot food on the table for dinner while assisting with homework, baths, and bedtime… And, She still finds the time to keep the hubby happy (nudge nudge wink wink). She can do all of this and still have time to write.

And if you can believe all of those lies, there is some beautiful swamp land in Florida for sale…

Katie Salidas resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mother, wife, and author, she does try to do it all, often causing sleep deprivation and many nights passed out at the computer. Writing books is her passion, and she hopes that her passion will bring you hours of entertainment.

Contact info for Katie:



Willsin Rowe

Willsin Rowe falls in love with a scent, a playful expression or an act of casual intimacy more easily than with physical beauty.  When confronted by any combination of those elements he is a lost cause.  He has done many things over and over, done even more things only once, and half-done more things than he cares to admit.  He loves to sing and doesn't let his voice get in the way. He is intelligent but not sensible.  He is passionate but fearful. He is not scruffy enough or stylish enough to be cool.

Willsin is also the author of HungerThe Three Day Hump and Lightning.

Join us tomorrow for a special guest post by Katie Salidas!

~~ML




Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Let's Never Forget 9/11/01

Today is the eleventh anniversary of the attacks on US soil by cowards who used three planes to kill thousands of innocent people. Every year I write about how clear and beautiful a day it was that day; just as it is today. Every year, I write about how it is a day I will never forget and how I can remember every detail of that day.

I remember the fear I felt that we were being attacked. I remember the desperation I felt not being able to get to where my pregnant daughter was fast enough. I remember the relief I felt when I finally found her in an irish pub a few blocks from her office with her co-workers who had gathered there after their building was evacuated. It was only because I had spotted one of her colleagues that I even went into the pub. I knew he had to know where she was as I approached him, I looked over his shoulder and there she was. She was sitting on a stool with shock on her face and tears in her eyes as she watched the remaining tower crumble on a television screen.

I lost friends that day, one who's mother I worked closely with.

Today, I listened to the roll call as I do every year and as I do every year when that friend, Laura Gilly's name was called, I turned it off. I often think of her but today, I have been thinking of her all day long. I remembered how much fun we had during my first trip to Las Vegas with her mother.

This year, there were no politicians giving speeches. It truly was about those we lost on this date eleven years ago and the heroes that came after. It was a day for remembering and sharing stories of the people we lost, the valiant manner in which first responders worked to pull as many remains as they could from the ashes and who then later helped clear up the debris.

Let's not forget what happened that day; not just the horror but also how we all embraced one another during a time of need with love and compassion.

~~ML