My Top Three Favorite Messed-up Love Stories

Messed-up Love Stories juliamikhaylova –

Valentine’s Day honors LOVE with chocolates, flowers, and romance. Most of us celebrate in some way, whether it’s dinner with our honey, chocolate hearts for the kiddoes, or fluffy toys for the fur babies. Romance month is big business. Consumers have countless venues for indulging their sentimental side in February.

What about those of us who avoid the typical easy path to a happy ending? Hallmark movies just won’t do for us! We want tragedy, sweet suffering, and – dare I say – an unhappy ending sometimes. Here are my top three favorite tragic love stories with their film companions. Note: The book is always better than the movie!  

My Top Three Messed-up Love Stories

Cyrano de Bergerac by Emond Rostand

Brave soldier and romantic poet Cyrano has fallen in love with his beautiful cousin, Roxanne. Cyrano, a confident soldier with a keen wit, fears his large nose will stand in the way of his love for her. He remains too shy to express his feelings. Then the worst happens. Roxanne and Cyrano’s friend, the handsome Christian, fall in love with each other. Cyrano, standing aside for friendship, uses his own words to woo Roxanne on Christian’s behalf.

This story is a must-watch/read for anyone who has stepped aside for friendship’s sake.

Upcoming Film Cyrano starring Peter Dinklage (Releases February 25, 2022)

Death On the Nile by Agatha Christie

The original “Fatal Attraction” story. Boy meets girl. Boy dumps girl for her beautiful rich friend. Girl stalks boy and his new wife like a crazy person. Somebody ends up murdered. What I like best about this story is Hercule Poirot’s compassion for the crazy stalker. Having lost his own love when young, he tries to help her let go.

This story is a must-watch/read for Agatha Christie fans. I can’t wait to see Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot again.

Upcoming Film Death On the Nile starring Kenneth Branagh and Gal Gadot (Releases February 2022)

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Following Jane Eyre through her life struggles could cover so many topics. People see her as plain and ordinary, including her abusive aunt. She goes through sickness, poverty, and heartbreak. Yeah. You guessed it. The story is a real tearjerker. We finally think Jane finds her place at last when she goes to work for Edward Rochester. They fall in love, but Edward has a secret that destroys their happiness.

Classic version: Jane Eyre starring Orson Welles (Released 1943) * I realize there are newer film versions but watching Orson Welles as Edward Rochester is epic!

Try something different this Valentine’s Day. Go for the messed-up book or movie. But, don’t forget the chocolate and tissues.


And They Call It Book Love

Running my fingers across the rows of shiny spines, I slowly slide one out of its place among the other tantalizing covers. The aroma of recently cut paper and new print fills my senses. I absorb the words stretching across the back. Heart racing, I wonder what type of adventure this book will take on.

@Sergey Nivens – Stock.Adobe.Com

Sorry Romance fans. Love is fleeting. Book Love is forever. Think about it. Whether you’re two or one hundred and two, a good story is always one of life’s greatest pleasures.

How to Find Your Next Love

Book Stores – Ask for staff recommendations – Check out their Listopia section with recommendations by readers just like you

Best Seller Lists – Amazon and B&N both have Best Seller Lists. I’ll be honest. I rarely pick from the best seller lists, because they distract from other (and possibly better) books

BookBub and Riffle – Books on these sites are vetted pretty well. And they feature the ones on sale. Big bonus!

Word of Mouth – Book clubs or Goodread Groups are a great way to discuss what others are reading

What I’m Reading Right Now:

Tangerine by Christine Mangan

Death Without Company by Craig Johnson

Odd Hours by Dean Koontz


7 Signs You May Have a Book Crush


Ah, L’amour! Isn’t it grand? You have a special Valentine to curl up with on those cold February evenings. Secretly, you may have more than one. Don’t worry. I’m not judging. One book crush is never enough.

Teddy bear in reading glasses sitting on the stack of old booksNot sure you have a book crush? Here are a few tell-tale signs:

  1. You pour a glass of wine and turn on soft jazz before opening the cover.
  2. If the book is written in multiple points of view, you skip ahead to read your book crush’s chapters first.
  3. You dislike your book crush’s love interest and hope the author sends them packing in the next act.
  4. You wish the author would be a little more liberal with physical descriptions.
  5. Your bookshelf or Kindle contains every word ever written about your crush.
  6. Given enough wine, you imagine joining your crush in the storyline. Naturally, they’ll leave the hot spy in the high heels (or the hot spy in the sharp suit) for you.
  7. Should the heartless author kill off your book crush, you mourn for weeks. Well, until a replacement crush rises out of the pages of a new book series.

Anymore signs I missed? Share them in the comments section.

(Images used with licensed permission from Adobe Stock)

Publisher Spotlight: Literary Wanderlust


Literary Wanderlust is a new royalty paying print and digital press located in Denver, Colorado. We publish well-written fiction and interesting non-fiction books.

We are currently accepting the following:

  • Romance/Erotica
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Non-Fiction
  • Short Story Collections of all genres

Please send query, brief synopsis, and 1st three chapters, and a brief marketing plan to


I’m pleased to welcome Susan Brooks, Editor-in-chief of Literary Wanderlust. Thanks for joining me today. Let’s get started:

What do you look for in a novel or short story? Do you look for the same things in your non-fiction projects?

We look primarily for well-written works. By well-written I mean that we can see that the author has learned their craft regardless of the genre. For genre fiction, it is important to us that the author has worked through the plot and there is a good story arc with enough conflict. The story needs to have a beginning, middle and end. It is also important to us that the author has created compelling characters that are interesting and dynamic. There should be some unique twist if at all possible.

Short stories are a different on many levels and are structured quite differently than novels. Short stories tend to focus only on one character in one moment in time. There may be more narrative. There may be significantly less action and conflict, but this is not always so. Short stories still should have some unique twist, and we truly love it when we didn’t expect the ending. We look for short story collections where the writer has been judicious with word usage and has thought carefully about how the sentences are structured. Usually the collections are themed, but this isn’t necessarily so. We recently signed two authors with short story collections, both with themed collections.

Non-fiction, topics can range from everything you ever wanted to know about Billy the Kid’s girlfriends’ brother’s son who ran for governor of New Mexico, to how-to manage your time, to a history of all the head stones in the Fairmount Cemetery. We like niche, interesting, and even obscure topics. The key is that the editorial team has to find the topic interesting and we like it especially if the project has “a freshness” to it. In other words, the non-fiction project presents information that hasn’t been presented before, or hasn’t been presented before in this way.

Tell us about your latest release. What made it special? What made it stand out above other submissions in your slush pile?


Our latest release was Frog Kisses by Linda Joffe Hull which was released June 1st. Frog kisses is a romantic comedy and is Linda’s fourth book to be traditionally published. Linda is usually known for her mysteries, but she really wanted to tell this story about a young woman who realizes that she dislikes her life because she has made choices based on who she thinks she is, rather than who she really is. This book is special because Linda writes with such wit, and creates interesting characters that she puts in difficult situations. The story made the whole editorial team laugh out loud, and that is special in and of itself. Linda is a professional and that showed in her submission.

Do you have more new releases in the works?

Our latest projects are slotted to be released March 1st, 2016. Both are short story collections.

The first collection, Mexicali Blues by Joseph Grant, takes a dark look at the dichotomy between what it means to be Mexican in Southern California versus Mexican in Mexico, and how some people are not Mexican enough, while others are too Mexican. Both of these scenarios can lead to racism and all the stories have unusual twists.

The second collection, Not Quite So Stories by David Atkinson, is a collection of absurdist humor stories. David has a way of looking at things from a unique perspective which we find refreshing. The humor ranges from the slightly absurd to the very dark. These stories express David’s belief that existence as a whole is beyond everyone’s grasp. Life is absurd and beyond comprehension.

Both of these collections stood out to us because the authors thought about their topics deeply have learned their craft and it shows. It started with well written queries.

Do you have any advice for new writers who want to submit their work to you?

First of all, I want to congratulate them for completing their books. I am well aware of the amount of work that goes into completing a novel, or a collection of short stories, or a non-fiction book.  For new writers, I would say take the time to write the best possible book that you can write. Don’t submit it until it is ready. Don’t submit a draft. Submit polished pages. Take the time to write a synopsis that tells all the action from beginning to end for genre fiction (don’t leave out the ending to entice me. I want to know that the writer knows how to resolve the story). If it is a short story collection submit a brief paragraph about each story. For a non-fiction book project, write a clear synopsis of the project.

Look at the publisher’s website before you submit. Each publisher will have their own guidelines and requirements. Tailor your submission to meet those specific guidelines. Be professional.


Susan Brooks, Editor in Chief

Susan Brooks has been reading voraciously since she was a toddler and got her hands on a copy of Go, Dog! Go! Soon after, she won a copy of A Wrinkle in Time through her public library’s summer reading program for reading more books in one summer than all the other students combined. She was six. She decided right then that when she grew up she wanted to read books for a living.

Since 2009, she has served on the board of directors for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, a non-profit educational organization supporting both published and aspiring writers of commercial fiction, and she currently acts as the conference chair for Colorado Gold, RMFW’s annual writers’ conference. She holds a master’s degree in publishing from George Washington University and has over 20 years of editorial experience.

Susan’s main focus in fiction is romance, science fiction, fantasy, non-fiction, and short story collections.

You can follow her: and @oosuzieq


Look To Your Own Backyard

Stuck for inspiration? Have a story idea, but not sure where it takes place just yet? Look to your own backyard. Your hometown/ home state has a history. I know what you’re thinking. Yawn. Nothing interesting happens here. Are you sure about that? Delve a little. You may find some juicy history interesting to a reader who’s never been to your part of the country. Don’t forget about the folks like me who love old unsolved crimes or haunted places.

I’m one of the blessed souls who gets to live in the state of Colorado. Stunningly beautiful, impossibly mellow with the addition of our newest agricultural commodity (Puff. Puff.) and dripping with interesting history. Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull, The Unsinkable Molly Brown…the list goes on. Denver is full of history (and ghosts), as is the rest of Colorado. It makes a great location for several genres.

Doing research on the early days of the Colorado and New Mexico Territories for my new Horror novella, The Hounds of Perdition, has been an amazing journey into the past. I walked into the story with preconceptions for certain simple details about life in 1865. Yep. You guessed it. They were all wrong. The Civil War had just ended in 1865, affording me the opportunity to throw two characters on opposite sides into the same bad situation. Indian attacks had risen to a high intensity, necessitating several forts to be built in the territories to protect settlers. Famine. Disease. Life wasn’t easy and civilized townships were far apart. In fact, Denver wasn’t established as the capital or recognized central government until a few years later.

Now it’s your turn. Check out your state’s history. Do any ideas come to mind? Good luck and have fun!

Book Addicts Unite

Indie Publishing is a journey. No wait. Maybe journey isn’t the right term. Indie Publishing is an exploration mission. There you go. Every path I take holds something new. It could be a new way to reach readers or a dead end. You never know until you get there.

This week my literary exploration vessel is mooring at the shores of Choosy Bookworm. I’m seeking a way to connect with new readers and hopefully get a few reviews for my urban fantasy, Pariah. They have a free “Read and Review” program I’m pretty excited about on two levels. Here’s how it works:

As an Author: I submitted my book for review by Choosy Bookworm. Quality checks are important to build trust with their reader community. They also accept pre-published books now. Big bonus. I plan to use this option for my upcoming epic fantasy, “The Lords of Valdeon.”

Pariah’s feature date started on July 14th. Readers select my book from a list of many others (the selection is awesome by the way) and commit to read it within 2 to 3 weeks. All this is free to the reader. Choosy Bookworm then sends me a list of names and emails at the end of the day. I “Gift” the readers a copy on Amazon and send them a thank you email, reminding them to put the all important disclaimer at the end of their review. This meets the Amazon TOS guidelines.

I listed Pariah for 30 Readers. There are still spots left. If you enjoy urban fantasy and would like to participate, here’s the link – Free Copy of Pariah. I’d love to hear your feedback on the book.

As a Reader: Talk about a Book Addicts dream! Choosy Bookworm features free books from a wide selection of genres. You’ve got your choice of new authors and pretty established favorites. I’ve found at least two books I’ve already read on their site. Oh pooh!

Free books. Personal contact with the author. What better way to sate a book addict’s cravings?  Here’s the link for Choosy Bookworm’s feature page – Awesome Free Books.

Guest Post: Aurora Styles


As if being hunted by assassins, secretly assisting the Gallic rebellion against Rome, and learning about her favorite rebel pirate isn’t enough to keep a princess busy, Freya learns she has magical powers. Magic she cannot control. Oh, and she’s also the daughter of immortals. Mistaken for a supporter of Rome by the man she fantasizes about, Freya is kidnapped by the rakish corsair, Siegfried the Fox. She has dreamed of this moment for years, fantasized of the wicked things the sexy swashbuckler would do to his fair captive. Only he has no idea of her desires, and she wants to keep it that way. No sense in appearing desperate. All Siegfried wanted was to kidnap the princess for ransom, but he’s learning things seem to go awry when the seductive siren is involved. And that includes maintaining control of his darkest hungers. She stirs his need to protect her from those who want to dictate her magic while drawing on his desire to dominate, to punish…to enslave. Can Siegfried keep the klutzy princess safe—even from himself? Can Freya convince the swarthy bandit to accept both her willing submission and her love?

Purchase Information: Siren Slave or Siren Slave (paperback) [p8041] – $18.99 : The Wild Rose Press, Inc. – Wilder Roses


Author bio: Aurora Styles lives in the mountainous regions of Northeastern Pennsylvania. She fills up her free time by laughing with friends, sampling the rich (and greasy) local cuisine, and tasting the variety of craft beers. She keeps up with local current events, and prides herself on being active in her community. In the past, she has been involved with various causes, and wrote a newsletter for a third party.

Siren Slave is her first published novel, but she is already hard at work on the second. Aurora holds a Master’s Degree in creative writing.


Under the Mistletoe Two! Redemption and Glory


Focus on Romance

Now for something to spice up your eggnog! It’s a great pleasure to have Cris Anson on the blog today.

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Bored with all the groupies who provide him with anonymous sex, famous sculptor Adam accepts the offer to lurk behind a voyeur screen at his agent’s BDSM club. Watching the magnificent Mistress Glory in action, Adam is so smitten that he can’t decide if he wants to tame her or kneel before her.

When Davinia helps her business partner Mercy at a book signing, a magazine’s “Most Eligible Bachelor” – the man of her wet dreams – comes by to help publicize the event. Instant lust turns to chagrin when he addresses her as Mistress Glory.

As the two novices to Dominance and submission explore what turns them on in this exciting new world, the journey takes explosive twists and turns. Add the sexy agent and his slave, and anything can – and does – happen.

You can purchase the print version of REDEMPTION AND GLORY at Ellora’s Cave , AmazonBarnes & Noble, and other online retailers who sell print books. If you want to order it at your local bookstore, here’s the ISBN: 1978419971358.

Here’s what an RT Book Reviews reviewer had to say about REDEMPTION AND GLORY:

“There are big things going on in this small book, including a ménage, m/m and f/f trysts and lots of bondage, so readers won’t get bored when it comes to the dirty stuff…colorful scenes that might make even fans of erotic romance blush…”

Check out the special December Edition of my Books and Banter Newsletter for more information about today’s story. The newsletter features new book releases from several talented authors. Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Mystery and Suspense, and Romance. You’re sure to find a good read!

Under the Mistletoe! Waking Up Joy


Focus on Romance

Author Tina Ann Forkner’s Waking Up Joy is our first featured novel in the Romance Genre. It’s a great stocking stuffer for readers who enjoy a little comedy with their romance.


Behind every dream lost lies a second chance. When Joy Talley wakes up from a coma, her quirky brothers and sisters think she is off her rocker, but she has never felt better. Now Joy must face her darkest secret and risk reopening old wounds. Taking risks brings change, and suddenly Joy’s once humdrum, rural life in Oklahoma is anything but routine. Filled with magical charm and a small-town love story that transcends time, Waking Up Joy tackles dark secrets and complex relationships with wit, humor, and insight.

Available for Purchase:


Barnes and Noble


“A wonderfully-paced weave of compelling characters dealing with buried secrets and second chances within the framework of a flawed but fascinating family. Tina Forkner is an insightful, engaging storyteller. If you’re a fan of Jodi Picoult, you won’t be disappointed.” ~ Susan Meissner, Author of A Fall of Marigolds

Check out the special December Edition of my Books and Banter Newsletter for more information about today’s story. The newsletter features new book releases from several talented authors. Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Mystery and Suspense, and Romance. You’re sure to find a good read!

Dipping Your Toes in Other Genres


Conventional wisdom counsels writers should pick a genre and master it. I can see the validity of the point, but there is also wisdom in learning from others. My first published work was a contract co-author gig for a Horror Romance novel (Yep it’s a thing. Devil Music was a finalist for an EPIC eBook award in the category). I’d really hit a rough patch trying to sell my epic fantasy. Seriously, I could not give this thing away even though my friends and critic partners thought it was good. I even considered giving up trying to get published. Then I was presented with an opportunity to go outside my genre. I had an epiphany. Writers write. They aren’t their genre or condemned to one story. They write anything. That was my “Oh What the Hell” moment. I decided to give it a try and was successfully published under the pen name Thia Myles Vincent.


What I learned from Horror: Each year I either attend the World Horror Convention or KillerCon. These conventions offer a great opportunity to learn and to be around some of the nicest, most positive people on the planet. Horror folks (writers, artists, movie makers) joke that they get all their negative and violent thoughts out on the page, so all that’s left inside is positive and kind. I think it’s true. They accepted me into their fold right away.

Go To Horror for Plot and Tension: Horror writers are masters of tension and suspenseful plots. They have you on the edge of your seat, hiding under the blankets as you peak at the page. This genre necessitates advanced tension levels in each scene in order to scare the begeezus out of its readers. There must always be that element of fear and surprise.

What I learned from Romance: This genre should not be entered into lightly. Writing romance and sex scenes without making them silly is harder than it looks. One thing I learned from the experience is that I’m not good at writing romance. My co-author took care of that end while I wrote the plot and action. Deep respect and hats off to Romance Writers everywhere!

Go To Romance for Characterization: If you sit back and think about what makes Romance successful, you’ll find it is the characters. Romance Writers are pros at finding the inner turmoil and motivations for their characters. While plot plays a big role, it is characterization that really drives this genre. My voice is best in Fantasy and Suspense, but I’ve taken what I’ve learned from Romance and put it into all my work. I’m not a pro yet, but I’m getting there.

Final Thoughts: It is important to find your voice and be true to your art. Don’t forget to take the time to learn. The best way to gain new skills is to try new things, especially when they push you outside your comfort zone.