31 July, 2016

Stealing Home by MJ Compton #NewRelease

Manipulative Leads in Romance Novels

A long time ago I read an article about a 'famous' Playboy photographer who let us in on his biggest 'trade' secret to capturing the best photos for the magazine.

He said when he starts with a new model, he is silent and refuses to offer the woman any words of encouragement. That way, she becomes desperate and starts to expose herself more, works harder to attract him as a woman, and ends up making love to the 'camera' so-to-speak.

This was an eye-opener moment on Manipulative Behavior because at that time, a friend's photographer friend wanted to work with me, and I hated him. He rubbed me the wrong way and was the most insulting creep I had ever met.

It confused me why he wanted to take my picture if he had nothing nice to say and treated me like dirt.

After reading that Divine Providence article, it made perfect sense.

Especially since he wasn't the first rude guy I had encountered back in the day.

From about the 6th grade on, I met my fair share of manipulative males who sneered at, laughed at, insulted, and belittled me to no end.

It never came off as their believing that by being mean, I would somehow want them.

I just assumed it was an immature guy thing.

Decades later, those same 'guys' behave the way that they had back in their teens and twenties.

They're incapable of intelligent, worthwhile conversation and instead like to bring up ancient mishaps, like the time you slipped and fell, exposing your crotch to the world, or whatever other inane, ridiculous notion pops into their heads.

As long as it makes me uncomfortable, embarrassed, or unhappy, they're good to go.

Insults and laughing AT you are their trademark and making sure you look like an idiot and feel awful is their ultimate goal.

When it comes to manipulative behavior, I feel self-appointed expert on the topic, so when I recognize them as a lead in a Romance novel, I go a little crazy.

There are two plot devices I refuse to read: the extra-marital affair and manipulative bastard (H and/or h).

A disturbing trend in Contemporary Romance novels is the use of manipulative behavior on the part of the H (and the h).

Protagonists, mind you, and neither sex can be excused or redeemed.

If the author thinks I will buy the concept of an h falling for a manipulative H or vice versa, they are dead wrong.

I don't bad-review or low-rate the novel, I just stop reading the story to find out 'what happens' is all, and that is becoming too frequent of late.

I know what happens, and having to read about it in a 'romance' novel is contradictory to my own emotions via experience.

Yes, it happens all the time in real life.

Which is why we hear so much about domestic abuse.

There is nothing romantic, soothing, or promotional about manipulating someone.

According to psychology author George K. Simon, successful psychological manipulation primarily involves the manipulator:

  • Concealing aggressive intentions and behaviors.
  • Knowing the psychological vulnerabilities of the victim to determine which tactics are likely to be the most effective.
  • Having a sufficient level of ruthlessness to have no qualms about causing harm to the victim if necessary.

Consequently, the manipulation is likely to be accomplished through covert aggressive (relational aggressive or passive aggressive) means. ~Wikipedia

When the H cusses at, talks down to, or insults the h and the author refers to it as mutual hate or distrust, I roll my eyes.

When the H insults, cusses out, or badgers the h and the h starts to feel something stir in her 'core', it makes me cringe.

When the H talks down to the h, embarrasses her in front of others, or simply behaves like an arrogant ass and the h begins to wonder what more the H has to offer, I become unhinged.

It makes me wonder how much the author really knows about relationships and if they have ever experienced life outside their Pleasantville snow globe.

The difference between manipulative behavior versus mutual distrust, anger directed at another, or reactionary behavior based on misinformation is like apples to oranges.

Manipulation can be as subtle as a sneer and as outright obvious as 50 Shades, but it is still the unfeeling, insecure attempt to one-up their 'victim'.

Some readers cry foul if the h sheds tears at any point in the story, or if the h spends a paragraph or two wallowing in reflective self-pity, but they are somehow okay with an H being foul-mouthed, aggressive, and/or rude and insulting.

Weeping is real, natural, and nothing to be ashamed of, and wallowing in a few minutes of self-pity is nothing life-shattering or immoral.

Trying to pawn off a jackass or a hag/shrew as a leading love interest is, though.

If both leads are overly antagonistic, insult one another, and are rude before eventually falling into the same bed, that is an author's prerogative and a reader's preference.

If the story involves a typical h meeting an amoral H and her goal is to change him, I'm not buying it or the book.

Manipulation is abuse in any relationship, and as mentioned above, leads to domestic violence at most, destruction of self-worth at least.

Zero romance factor there.

An h labeled as ballzy and brave but actually behaves shrewish or ineffective is just as bad and I fail to see the appeal in a female capable of knocking a male into next Tuesday.

Or an H who lets her get away with it.

Nothing wrong with physically fit females -- that isn't what I said -- it is the notion that a raging h whose guard is always (always) up, who resembles a wounded animal and snaps at everyone she meets is not my idea of romantic material.

If a romantic lead needs Anger Management courses or a full Psychiatric Evaluation at any point in the story, the Romance aspect is out the window and I'm left to wonder what is the point.

There is just too little to work with and I don't see the appeal.

It is a clear indicator of trend, an Editor's advice on formula, and bad things to come, which isn't good, and that's just sad.

OR, it is the author's misguided attempt at making the male protagonist sexy like Loki but missing the mark entirely because they fail to see all that is wrong with Loki's true character.

Sexy? Sure. Trustworthy? Not on your life. Romantic? Never.

A Good for Sex, Not Good for the Long Haul kind of character -- hardly the stuff of Heroic Legend appeal.

The Bad Boy is sexy and has appeal, but White Trash is never a good idea for a male Protagonist.

There is nothing sexy or appealing about Donald Trump, and to be reminded of a guy like him when reading a Romance novel is neither enjoyable nor captivating.

Save the manipulative jerkwad antics for your Antagonist, please.

Don't force me to stop reading just a chapter or two into your story -- which I've never had to do until now.

30 July, 2016

Tackling the Green-Eyed Monster

Of the seven Deadly Sins, invidia (envy) is probably high on my for-shame list.

And despite what you've been told, it happens to be a 'healthy' emotion and not as you're-going-directly-to-hell as most want us to believe.

As long as the person feeling this way doesn't act on the negative outcome, that is.

Although voodoo dolls are an acceptable form of anger management whenever the green-eyed monster rears it's ugly head.

Pictures used as a Dart Board are okay, too.

Anything else and you risk being labeled as petty or sounding like sour grapes.

Unlike most other negative personality traits, Jealousy is probably as easy to control as it is easy to let get out of hand.

As with ALL vices, though, it depends on you and how you deal with it.

No, it isn't.

Jealousy can become an issue of self-confidence if you lack self-control -- which can be said for everything else in life that is difficult to overcome.

Overcome it we can, but it won't work by shaming or denial.

It's not as if we invite Jealousy in and ask it to take over our lives.

It just happens, so we are hardly to blame.

Anything can trigger the emotion, and its range can be anywhere from mildly annoying to outright flames licking at an extremely sensitive wound.

But not even the intensity of an inner emotion is a horrible thing.

As long as we don't act on it, let it hang out like an old friend, or wallow in it for a few hours (or longer).

Otherwise known as self-pity (whole other ball of wax).

There are more triggers for my green-eyed monster than there are for my smoking and salt addictions, and that can't be good.

More healthy, perhaps, but not in a good way.

More normal-natural than craving unhealthy things.

I tend to think that most people have it better than I do.

I tend to believe that my hard-fought efforts are a waste of my time since no one recognizes or acknowledges it.

I also tend to notice that if good things happen, it is to other people, and if bad things happen, it is to me.

I am sorely lacking in a lot of ways and know it.

I suppose my childhood had something to do with this jealousy thing being a high VICE.

And, I suppose I did a lot of what the pouty lad in the picture is doing, too.

Being cast aside or ignored for any reason sucks.

No one can convince me that it doesn't affect them to some degree, either.

Any more than they can convince me that they have somehow mastered the art of NOT feeling a single twinge of jealousy from time to time and for any reason.

We're not little kids anymore, though.

So it's how we DEAL with jealousy that matters, not the emotion springing up when we least expect it (or WANT it to).

As artists, we're sensitive by nature.

It is natural for us to see, hear, feel, react, and think differently than the common masses.

When it comes to our creativity; our work; our babies . . . we're basically one and the same.

Touch it, sneer at it, insult it, ignore it, or do anything derogatory with regard to the toil, strife, and heartache I put forth, and you'll wish you'd never been born.

Being a writer, having always wanted to write, loving the art, and letting it consume me are just some of the reasons why I consider behaving overly sensitive about it as having merit.

Learning, growing, changing, adapting, and rearranging my line of thinking about my writing -- mostly overcoming bad habits -- are part of the artistic process.

When I see/hear about others in the profession who are flying past me on their way to stardom, jealousy enters the picture.

It can't be helped.

Well, yes it can.

Avoiding Social Media websites is a terrific way to chase away the blues -- or the Greens in this case.

I know how I am and I know what triggers jealousy, so when I've had enough with the posts about attending conferences, book signings, contract deals, and oodles of 5-star praise, that's when I unplug from today's reality.

Mature thinking and a healthy way to deal with jealousy in order to avoid letting a natural inclination get the best of me.

Not bragging, just stating facts.

Because there are as many instances where hearing about another's accomplishments will usher me into a jealous pity party, but then some things aren't always as they seem.

Best-Seller, Over 500 5-Star Reviews, and Publishing House to name three.

They will awaken the green monster at a moment's notice, but wait!

I really shouldn't ought to be feeling this way because, well, something just isn't right here.

Case in Point -- Jayne Mansfield's breasts.

Or, Sofia Loren's seemingly obvious reaction to them.

Because while it sure looks that way, it actually wasn't a jealous reaction.

She's Sofia Loren, for heaven's sake! What's there to be jealous about?

She's quoted numerous times as having been overly concerned about their popping out and revealing themselves with paparazzi (and men) present.

Who wouldn't want to save a BFF from that kind of humiliation?

So, this is what I refer to as it looks like jealous but is actually a source of accomplishment.

Like being jealous of  some Award-Winning author and then having to back-track the emotion after reading the novel only to discover that a) the editor needs to be fired, b) the award is unfounded, and c) the author has 500 very supportive friends/family.

I call it taming Jealousy by being a Smart Ass.

It works but can also be considered borderline petty.

Not sour grapes, though. Just petty.

Bottom Line: I have way, too far to go in my own journey to stop and think I'm better just because a lot of inadequate writing is making its way onto Best-Seller lists and hundreds of thousands say it is great stuff when it isn't.

And with me still stuck in neutral.

That isn't my goal.

Those aren't my people.

This isn't my parade.

What works best for me is react, realize, breathe, and let go before you move on.

It isn't my concern that some folks always tend to get away with murder while I'm always busted and condemned for every minor infraction.

I can't allow jealousy or Murphy's Law to rule my life in these or any other instances.

It happens, though, and I'm sure it will continue to happen because that's life and Jealousy is a part of it.

I'm dealing with it by turning a blind eye to mishaps, continuing to follow my heart, and striving in every way to learn the craft of writing what I like but in a way that readers want to read.

That way, when my time finally does arrive, it will actually be worthy of 100 5-Star reviews, #11 on a top-ten Best Seller List, and perhaps one brick & mortar Editor might actually notice, acknowledge, and reward my hard-fought efforts.

Because like Jealousy, you just don't know until it actually happens.

Chelsea Handler made me feel good about how I deal with jealousy, and I hope it works for you, too.

Shout-outs to Elle Magazine and Xio for the FB post heads-up.

29 July, 2016

Pure Torture, Oblivion on Tour #3 by Tania Sparks #ReleaseBlitz


release day blitz

PT Book Cover

Book Title: Pure Torture 
Author: Tania Sparks 
Genre: Rock Star Erotic Romance 
Release Date: July 29, 2016 
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions


book blurb

Cody’s the sexy drummer extraordinaire of the hard rock band Oblivion.

Kitty’s the little sister of one of Cody’s band mates and she’s had a secret crush on him for years.

When the band are back home for a few days, the chemistry between them is both unexpected and undeniably off-the-charts.

She quickly realizes that the prospect of having what she’s always fantasized about is a very real possibility.

He quickly realizes that although he feels this mind-blowing attraction towards her, she’s the little sister of one of his band mates - he would get his ass kicked from here to hell if he ever laid a finger on her!

But can Kitty convince him? After all, no one else needs to know, a one-time hook-up might suit both of them…or could it ruin everything?

Warning: This story contains hot rock stars, sizzling sexual encounters and language that you would expect from heavy rock musicians used to a life of sex, booze and rock and roll. Pure Torture contains graphic sex scenes and is strictly 18+ only.

This novel is Book 3 in the 'Oblivion On Tour' series. Each book in the series follows a different band member and tells the story of the women that steal their hearts. Pure Torture can be read as a stand-alone but you might also want to check out Heaven Sent (Book 1) and Bolt From The Blue (Book 2).

Sexy Ink

Everyone else is already up and they look like they’re just about ready to leave for the day. As soon as I walk into the room mine and Cody’s line of sight connects and we lustfully hold our gazes as I stroll towards the kitchen. He must have just showered too because his hair is still damp. He looks absolutely edible. The electricity between us is definitely still there. In fact my desire has been fueled even further by all the erotic dreams I had last night and now we’re in the same room again my cold shower seems to have been a complete waste of time. By the way he’s looking at me it makes me wonder whether he’s been thinking about me too.

The next thing I know I hear my brother Nikki growling angrily as he stomps towards me pointing at my leg, “What the fuck’s that?” he snarls.

Shit, I’d forgotten about my tattoo. About three months ago I got a colorful tattoo. I think it looks cool and I’m told it’s extremely sexy. I glance down at my leg and then glance back up to Nikki who’s still pointing angrily. I mock surprise by holding my fingers to my lips, widening my eyes and inspecting my thigh as I snark, “Oh my gosh, I think it might be a tattoo! How the hell did that get there!”

Nikki scowls and admonishes, “I know it’s a fucking tattoo Kit but what the hell’s it doing on your thigh?”

Nikki’s attitude annoys me. “Don’t be such a hypocrite Nikki, you’re covered in ink. Anyway, I think it looks sexy.”

Cody gets up from his seat and saunters casually over to me. His eyes run over my leg, carefully inspecting the ink on my thigh. He steps so close to me that we’re almost touching and I can feel the heat of his body radiating off him. He smells divine, fresh from the shower, all musky and clean. I’m struggling to control my urge to reach out and touch him.

He moves his focus to my face and winks at me self-confidently, “Looks as sexy as fuck if you ask me sweetheart.” His fingers gently glide over my thigh, but as quick as he’s there, he’s gone and is strolling back to the other side of the room where he slouches back down into his armchair. My skin tingles at his touch and that small amount of contact definitely leaves me wanting more. I hope like hell I’m not visibly panting!

Nikki scowls at him. “She’s my god-damned little sister Sticks. I don’t want her to look sexy. So keep your opinions to yourself…and your fucking hands for that matter. Don’t think I didn’t see that dickhead.”

Nikki’s comment doesn’t affect Cody in the slightest as he mumbles, “Not my fault she’s scorching hot, I’m just admiring the view and saying it how I see it.”


PT Teaser - This Is Pure Torture

PT Teaser - Nobody Needs To Know

meet the author

Tania Sparks is a romantic at heart who genuinely believes in true love and soul mates. She met her husband while still at school, she was sixteen, he was seventeen. They are high school sweethearts who more than twenty five years later are still very much in love and are happily married with two beautiful daughters.

Tania does have a full time job, but in her spare minutes enjoys spending time with her family, cooking and reading. She's an avid reader who tends to chomp through a large volume of books, mainly in the romance genre. Her other major 'hobby' is writing steamy rock star erotic romances!

In 2014, after finding herself constantly being inspired by numerous romance novels, she decided to try her hand at writing. After penning her first scene she discovered that she enjoyed it immensely and so resolved to continue with the rest of the story that was swirling in her imagination. That story resulted in her first novel, Heaven Sent which is the first book in her Oblivion on Tour Series. This was soon followed by Bolt From The Blue and Pure Torture. Each book in the series is a stand-alone story which follows a different band member from a hard rock group called Oblivion - and of course the feisty ladies that steal their hearts! The other books in the series are at various stages of completion.

Now-a-days Tania finds it very difficult to control her imagination and swears that her rock stars are constantly chanting their stories in her head. She can't wait to share them with you.

28 July, 2016

Beast out of Hell by Camilla Aitken & Bonita Gutierrez #PreorderBlitz


Preorder Blitz

Book Title: Beast Out Of Hell (Werewolf Whisperer Tales #2) 
Author: Camilla Ochlan & Bonita Gutierrez
Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Release Date: August 12, 2016 
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions


book blurb

When gun-toting Granny hires The Werewolf Whisperer team to save her Werebeast granddaughter, Lucy and Xochi get caught between a pair of star-crossed lovers and a gang of biker Weres hell-bent on destruction. In a dark twist that snaps our girls' brittle hold on the "werewolf apocalypse," Lucy and Xochi find themselves alone on the road of no return.


Click through to read an excerpt of Beast Out of Hell

meet the author

Camilla Ochlan: Separate of The Werewolf Whisperer series, Camilla has written The Seventh Lane, a mythpunk fantasy short, and is working on the forthcoming YA series Of Cats and Dragons, as well as a nonfiction dog-training manual.

In collaboration with her husband, Camilla has written and produced a number of short films, including the suburban ghost story Dog Breath and the recent 20/20 Hindsight.

A dog mom and cat servant, Camilla shares the house with three sweet rescue dogs and two rascally Abyssinian cats.

Bonita Gutierrez: Bonita found her way to the stage at the early age of five. After college, she moved to Los Angeles to get into "The Biz." Over the years, she's played many roles from actor to producer, screenwriter to filmmaker — and now novelist.

A mixed martial artist, Bonita has a background in Jeet Kune Do Kung Fu (Bruce Lee's art), Kenpo Karate MMA and Kali Escrima (stick and knife fighting). An avid runner, student of film and lover of music, Bonita is a self-proclaimed hamburger connoisseur with a passion for all things Star Wars and Buffy.

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