Release Deets, A New Giveaway, & A Word On Dreams

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I’m sitting in Starbucks, where lately I’ve been spending inordinate amounts of time fueling up on assorted coffee concoctions while simultaneously reaping the benefits of free wifi, electrical outlet privileges, and eclectic people-watching.

Leaving the quiet (albeit messy) solitude of my home office to write in a bustling public establishment wasn’t something I’d ever considered doing until a fellow writer friend suggested it as a way to shake things up and combat writers block.

And, guess what? It worked like a charm! Yippee!

But before I pickup the pace with my latest WIP (work in progress), there are some things I’d like to share with you, starting with…

A Book Release Announcement!

I am SOOOOO excited to relay the news that my second novel, FILL ME IN (The Liquid Series Book 2), will be available at all major eBook retailers–including Amazon, Apple iBooks, and Barnes & Noble–beginning Thursday, May 25, 2017! Yikes, that’s in less than a month!

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE BOOK TRAILER

Is it acceptable to confess that I’m also nervous? Maybe even scared out of my wits? Okay, good. 🙂

So, in honor of all the nail biting I’ll be doing over the next four weeks, Empty Me Out (The Liquid Series Book 1) is currently on sale for just 0.99 cents at U.S. eBook retailers (including Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, etc.), so if you haven’t had a chance to grab a copy, this is an opportunity to get it at a significant discount before it reverts to its regular price upon Fill Me In’s release on May 25.

And, moving right along…

I’ve got another newsletter subscriber GIVEAWAY to tell you about!

This time, I will award TWO WINNERS the following:

1.) An eBook copy of my contemporary romance novella, The High Road (not available in stores)

AND

2.) A $25.00 gift card to Amazon or iTunes/iBooks (your choice)

If you’re not a newsletter subscriber and would like to sign up to get in on this giveaway, you can do so below:

SIGN UP FOR BOOKISH BUZZ

Good luck!

Oh, and something to think about…

Last week I received an email from a lovely reader who shared her regret over giving up her dream of becoming a novelist. I was saddened by her belief that it was too late to chase her passions and incorporate them into her life. Over the course of several exchanged emails, I hoped to make some headway in convincing her otherwise.

Speaking from experience, I can tell you that it’s never too late. Despite dreaming of becoming a professional writer pretty much my entire life, it wasn’t until I found myself in the thick of middle age that I finally uncovered the wherewithal to do something about it.

Has it been easy? Hell to the no.

Have I contemplated throwing in the towel? Yup. More often than I care to admit.

But I stuck it out, and I am so glad I did.

If you have a dream that you’ve put on the back burner, I’d like to invite you to read an article I wrote this past fall, called Feeling Stuck? So Dream ~ Then Do.

READ THE ARTICLE HERE

I truly believe that dreams can alter destinies. So, I hope you keep dreaming, and I wish you every success and happiness.

With warmth and gratitude,

Sue

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey

 

 

Get the Bookish Buzz

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Making the shift this year from part to full-time writer has been an awesome—and at times, equally terrifying—adventure. Even with its eclectic mix of ups, downs, learning curves, and deadline-driven all-nighters, I wouldn’t trade a single second of the experience for anything. It is a gift to be able to do what I love, one that I never intend to take for granted.

The last six weeks in particular have been spent stocking up on bundles of nervous excitement as I prepare for the launch of my second novel, Fill Me In (The Liquid Series, Book 2). This book was a long time comingits story putting me in, and then dragging me through, some rather unexpected places. Though hell-bent on challenging me every step of the way, protagonists Kelsey and Mark will always sit close to my heart. And, my goodness, I sure am going to miss writing about them.

In anticipation of announcing Fill Me In’s release date later this month, and as a special thank-you to those who have supported me along my authorly journey, I am hosting a giveaway for subscribers to my newsletter, Bookish Buzz.

If you’ve been kind enough to follow my work and happen to be a fan of romance, bookish things, and freebie opportunities, then I hope you’ll consider signing up for your chance to win.

So, what exactly do you win?

Subscribers to Bookish Buzz are automatically entered to win a signed paperback copy of my debut novel, Empty Me Out (The Liquid Series, Book 1), PLUS a $100 Amazon gift card.

The winner will be announced in my newsletter on or around April 6, 2017.

Sound good?

YOU CAN SIGN UP HERE.

Oh, and good luck! 🙂

~ Sue

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey

 

 

Why Romance? Why not?

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There are dayslike todaywhen I find myself on the receiving end of…

The look.

It’s the one people lay on me after learning what I do for a livingmore specifically, the fact that I write…

Wait for it…

ROMANCE.

It’s a look that evolves from…

Are you serious?

To…

No, you can’t be serious.

To…

Holy @#%&, you ARE serious.

To…

Oh, how cute. You actually think you’re a REAL writer.

And, to further drive the spike into my already fragile ego, a saccharine-laced response usually piggybacks “the look,” something along the lines of…

“Those books are okay to read if you don’t want to think too much.”

Ouch.

Unfortunately, this perplexing (and rather unwarranted) romance-is-a-subpar-genre attitude is something I’ve been running into for as long as I can remember.

There’s an assumption shared by many that neither effort nor intelligence is required to write romance novels and that their pages contain nothing but embarrassingly sappy drivel. And if you actually read them, then God help you, because you’d better be armed with one mother of a justifiable reasonnamely, your brain needing a sabbatical.

Pffft.

Personally speaking, I can tell you that reading and writing romance has nothing to do with a lack of creative depth or an unhealthy penchant for heaving bosoms and quivering loins.

By the way, 99.999% of romance imprints did away with those terms eons ago.

Fact: Romance consistently wins out as the best-selling literary genre…by a landslide.

Yet, ironically, it comes up the rear in terms of respect and credibility…which, if I’m being frank, kind of steams my clams.

Whether or not people admit it, they’re reading romance and lots of it. So, you know what I say?

Be proud!

When you’re engaged in bookish chit-chat with someone who asks you, “Why romance?” you can fire back with a simple, but effective…

“Why not?”

Then point them in the direction of a book like Pride and Prejudice and I’ll bet they never ask you that question again.

The one thing I love most about voracious romance readers is that they…just…get it. If you’re reading this right now, then chances are, you do too.

And I am so grateful to have you along!

Of course, I’m not suggesting that everyone should go gaga over romance novels, because as we all know, art in its various forms is subjective. What one gets off on the other may yawn over. It’s a matter of personal preference.

Even as a self-proclaimed sucker for all things swoon-worthy, I still enjoy dipping my eyeballs into horror, mystery, suspense, and fantasy.

Stephen King, if you’re reading this, I love you!

(Who am I kidding? There’s no chance in hell he’s reading this.)

What I’m saying is that romance deserves equal inclusion as a legitimized, stigma-free genre among its industry counterparts.

Does that mean all romance novels are worth critical acclaim? Heck no. There are some sucky ones out there for sure. But do other genres have their own share of craptastic representation? You betcha.

Again, if you follow this blog, then I’m probably preaching to the choir. Maybe you’re actually a romance writer yourself. If so, then you’re also familiar with “the look.”

There will always be people who don’t understand, or even want to, and that’s okay. Because the rest of us know that with the romance genre, there is so much more than meets the eye upon that curious first glance. It’s the type of fiction that gets into your mind and stays there, the type that explores love and intimacy from within the intricate tapestry of the human condition. It inspires hopeand yes, even change. So…

Whether you read it…or create it…

I hope it inspires you too.

If you’re proud to be a romance fan, let me know by leaving a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey

 

Image source: flickr.com – Tsahi Levent-Levi, artist

 

 

Book Review – Web of Darkness by Paris Andren

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It’s official. Paris Andren writes unputdownable books.

After devouring her debut release—Pointe of Darkness (LA Dark Series) (Volume 1)—in one nail-noshing sitting (read my review here), I couldn’t wait to get my stubby, greedy fingers on her highly-anticipated sequel…

WEB OF DARKNESS (LA Dark Series) (Volume 2)

And wouldn’t you know it…I also consumed this book by way of a single, multi-hour adventure in page turning.

It’s that good.

The story picks up where Pointe of Darkness left off, with its main characters fleeing from, yet still chained to, the underground world of sex slavery and human trafficking. The heavy nature of the subject matter is neither trivialized nor glorified, and I am enormously impressed with the special care Ms. Andren took to treat it with the staunch realism it deserves.

Speaking of which, Web of Darkness almost gives off a non-fiction sort of vibe, a testament to the author’s ability to pull readers into the crux of a problem that is closer to home than we think. We ride every emotion in tandem with the characters until they become our own.

Now, that’s talent.

Web of Darkness didn’t just give me feels…it gave me all the feels Joy, sorrow, desperation, heartbreak, terror, devastation, hope, anxiety, desire, love—you name it—I was in total immersion mode.

Andren’s writing is superb, using alternating points of view to the story’s advantage, deepening our connections to returning protagonists Ava and Sage, introducing us to new characters, and giving us an unobstructed look into the evil mindset.

The description, dialog, and pacing were on point(e) (see what I did there?), keeping me in a near constant state of pulse-thumping suspense. I seriously couldn’t stop reading if I tried because I just had to know what was going to happen next. Every time I was convinced I had it all figured out…BAM…it was time to think again!

This book is chock-full of page-turning elements: darkness, action, mystery, intrigue, blush-inducing eroticism, and most of all…

Romance.

Because at its essence, Web of Darkness is a love story…albeit an unconventional one, but that’s what makes it special. After all, love isn’t conceived from puppies and unicorns alone. Sometimes fate brings hearts together under extraordinary circumstances. And, to me, there’s something especially satisfying about witnessing the progression of love as it fights against all odds to prevail.

But, the big question is…

Does love indeed win out in the end?

Well, you know I can’t tell you that!

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your copy of Web of Darkness today!

Get it on your Kindle

Get it in Paperback

And don’t forget to leave a review. 🙂

To find out more about Paris Andren, visit her website: http://www.pariswrites.com.

Happy reading!

~ Sue

 

Image source: Amazon.com

 

Anything (a short story)

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We were each to come separately.

We had to be smart. Cautious. Cover our tracks. Travel as far as the money would take us. Away from the horrors of the past.

The location was perfect, a tourist’s seventh heaven—presently cloaked in the kind of night that reverberated a palpable electricity, prickling my skin with its righteous appeal. Fireflies sparked the air while a seemingly endless band of katydids worked the crowd, crooning en masse in a harmonious buzz of rhythmic exultation. But I wasn’t here for the music or the ambiance.

I was here for her, the only woman in this world who ever gave a damn about me. The one person I’d do anything for.  Anything.

I could still smell the blood on my hands.

For a fleeting moment, I wondered if she’d actually go through with it—uproot her life for a bastard like me. A small part of me secretly hoped she’d bail on the arrangement, maybe turn me in. Not because I didn’t value my freedom or want her here.

But because she deserved better.

Then, I felt it—that tug—her heart in proximity, drawing me forward. Emerging through the tea-lit trees, she looked wired, nervous. She fussed with her hair, blunt red layers that were a far cry from her signature jet-black curls. Still, I’d have known her anywhere. Even downcast and uncertain, those big brown eyes always gave her away…

My beloved Leila.

Wearing a baggy olive dress that hung to her ankles, she hugged herself gracefully against the wind and I sighed. Only she could don such an outfit and make it regal. Puffing out her chest, she filled her lungs with the moony sky. She lifted her gaze to take in her surroundings—and froze.

She saw me.

Of their own accord, my knees grew weak, yet my feet persisted, propelling me to my fate. I inched closer while noticing the rapid rise and fall of her chest, indicating that she was just as affected as I.

I wanted to say something. Something important. Something profound. My mouth opened but the syllables hid under my tongue.

Searching her face, I aimed to process her expression. My efforts were awarded with a heart-stopping smile. I took her hand, relishing the contact and the warmth of her skin. Studying our entwined fingers, she chewed her lower lip then put her head on my shoulder. And that was all that needed to be said.

All the plans we made and all the dreams we shared and all the times we ached with the desire to have something tangible, culminated in this moment—our clean slate.

I felt happy. And hopeful. For the first time in my life.

I had no idea how long we stood like this while vacationers thrust to action around us, oblivious to who we were and everything we’d been through to get here. All I knew was that I suddenly stopped breathing. And then I heard it:

The slow-crunch approach of vehicles from behind. Too many to count.

No. Please God…

My fingers went numb—she was squeezing me, hard. She heard it too. The telltale drawl of engines was distant then on top of us.

I shot her a look…

Run.

I let go of her hand and she took off, yet my boots remained rooted to the ground. Like I said, I’d do anything for her.

Anything.

Initially, she made good distance before coming to an abrupt stop, as if sensing the growing gulf between us. Her head whipped around. Her body followed suit. Her eyes held mine for a beat before registering what it all meant. Vigorously shaking her head, she held out her arms and started to run…this time, to me.

No. Go back, foolish girl.

Boys in blue appeared from the shadows, detaining Leila in short order, resulting in the sort of outburst I never thought she was capable of, a sound akin to a person being burned alive. She wailed. She sobbed. She shrieked incomprehensible language. It made me crazy to watch her unravel this way, yet the rational part of my brain knew she was merely being held for her protection.

I was the one they had come for.

Emotion sliced through me like a hot blade. Sadness for the person I should’ve been. Envy for the better man who would one day give the only woman I ever loved all the things I never could. Remorse for the tender heart in front of me that I would have to leave behind. Regret for all the time I wasted doing wrong.

But tonight…I would do something right.

With a deep inhale, I made my peace with what I couldn’t change. I would give them what they wanted: The pretender with more aliases than there were months in the year. The grifter with outstanding warrants all over the U.S. The shyster who wouldn’t know an honest dollar if it bit him in the ass. The cutthroat who rid a subpar human of his breath and resilience.

Truth be told, I wasn’t a killer by nature. I simply did what I had to do…for her. She was always my reason. Always the exception.

After all, this was no ordinary love.

They say every man has his breaking point. I learned mine the day I encountered her father, and the way he looked at her—the way no blood relation had any business doing. Upon being welcomed into his home, it was clear I was touching upon something outside my criminal realm…something vile and sinister. Even with Leila right at my side, he never took his eyes off her, continuously adjusting himself in his too-tight polyester slacks as if to entice, sucking on home-rolled smokes until their ashes became one with the carpet.

I took special interest in his “wall of fame” as he called it, where dozens of dusty photographs of Leila dangled from rusted nails—as well as one of her mother.

God rest her soul.

First thing I noticed was that Leila didn’t smile. Not in the pictures or in her father’s company. Second, was the fear written all over her face…in past and present tense. So absolute it made my blood curdle.

Then all I could think about were her headaches. The anxiety. The tremors in her hands. How she cried the first time we made love…flinched whenever I touched her hair. How the smell of tobacco made her languid and nauseous. How the scars on her right breast resembled inflicted burns from cigarettes. The way she called out in her sleep…

“Mommy, can you hear me?”

And I realized that being summoned to the place where she grew up was her way of turning a spotlight on the secrets she could never say out loud. She needed me to see…to understand…

Because she loved me.

So as I broke his nose and spit in his eye, he only laughed…while his daughter cried. That’s when I stepped out of my right mind to commit a crime worthy of a true sinner.

Then, just like that, it was over.

And now, so it was…for me.

I was surrounded. The tourists were gone. I could no longer see her, though I still heard her crying.

Don’t be sad, my beloved. He can’t hurt you anymore.

I went for my pocket. That always made them twitch. But I did it for Leila. Because, for her, I’d do anything.

“Leila, can you hear me? I love you.”

Click.

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey

 

Image source: flickr.com – Danielle Elder, photographer