Exclusive Author Guest Post – Mary Castillo

Today I’m excited to share an exclusive guest post written by author Mary Castillo. Thank you to CLP Tours for letting me participate in the blog tour celebrating Mary’s new novel Lost in the Light!

How to Listen to an Audiobook by Mary Castillo

I thought audiobooks were for people who wanted something to keep from getting bored on long road trips.

But then Audible began a TV campaign of commercials featuring a woman ironing while listening to a romance, or a guy vacuuming to a Raymond Chandler-esque noir mystery.

When I signed up for the free trial, I was fully converted. I filled up my Wish List like I didn’t have books to write, a child to raise and a husband to kiss at night. I looked forward to traffic jams so I could get more listening time with my favorite meditation guru, davidji. While my boys battled the Imperial troops in Star Wars Battlefront, I dropped into Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell Mystery series. Heck, I even kept up with the laundry so I could follow alongside Eve and Roarke in J.D. Robb’s In Death series!

While I love having a closet full of folded towels, here are other fun ways I recommend enjoying audiobooks:

Coloring – I haven’t tried this myself, but I’ve heard other audiophiles rave about the meditative quality of adult coloring books.

Long walks: I recommend paved, well-lit streets especially if the book is good! Also, look both ways if you must cross the street. On second thought, maybe a tread mill is the safest option.

Knitting or crochet: My favorite activity is to work on simple, repetitive patterns like blankets or simple scarves. Lace work and short rows can get tricky and if you get engrossed in the story, you’ll have some TINK-ing to do. (Knitting spelled backwards means having to undo your work to fix mistakes!)

What do you like to do while listening to your favorite audiobooks?

Here are some other titles I recently enjoyed:

Once Upon a Grind: The Coffeehouse Mysteries, Book 14 by Cleo Coyle

Making Life Easy: A Simple Guide to a Divinely Inspired Life by Dr. Christiane Northrup

A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley

Favorite audiobook activities collage from above from top left clockwise: Back Bay Newport Beach trail, my latest knitting project, recent road trip to Carmel where Girl in the Mist (next audiobook title) is set and of course, the beach!

About the Author – Mary Castillo

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon Author

Author Bio:

Mary Castillo is an Amazon bestselling author and audiobook narrator. She writes chilling paranormal mysteries and sexy, heartwarming romantic comedies, all with compelling characters that keep you turning the pages long past your bedtime! Her debut, Hot Tamara was selected by Cosmopolitan magazine as a Red Hot Read and Latina magazine called Mary “an author to look out for” and selected In Between Men and Names I Call My Sister for the Top 10 Summers Reads in July 2009. Lost in the Light was a finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Paranormal Mystery.

Mary grew up in a haunted house in National City, CA. She cries every time she sees the movies, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and Casablanca, and may have developed a mild addiction to listening to audiobooks while she knits.

Lost in the Light by Mary Castillo


Book Blurb: One October morning in 1932, Vicente Sorolla entered the white house on the hill and was never seen again.

Now, Detective Dori Orihuela witnesses his brutal murder in her nightmares.

Drawn to this tough but tender woman, Vicente materializes out of the butler’s pantry and asks her to find his lost love, Anna. Dori wonders if she’s not only about to lose her badge, but also her sanity.

Dori has always been drawn to the mysterious Queen Anne Edwardian house in her hometown. But after a devastating injury that puts her career on the line, Dori isn’t sure if she made the right decision purchasing this rundown old mansion.

Her wisecracking Grammy Cena has waited too long for her independent granddaughter to return home. She hires a a kooky psychic to banish the ghost and a handsome contractor with whom Dori has an unhappy past.

With a promise to Vicente, Dori may solve a forgotten Prohibition era murder. Or she may exhume secrets someone died to protect.

Book Links: Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Now Available in Audio (How appropriate, given the theme of Mary’s guest post!)

Audible subscribersNew subscribers


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour!

March 13 – Rebekah Martin Writes –  Excerpt

March 13 – A Southern Girls Bookshelf – Excerpt

March 14 – A Novel Thought With Jess – Guest Post & Excerpt

March 14 – T’s Stuff – Review & Excerpt
March 14 – Rebekah Martin Writes – Q&A

March 15 – Living Life With Joy – Guest Post

March 15 – Books, Dreams, Life – Excerpt
March 15 – Rebekah Martin Writes – Guest post

March 16 – Leigh Anderson Romance – Guest Post
March 16 – Rebekah Martin Writes – Review

March 17 – Authors and Readers Book Corner – Excerpt

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Exclusive Author Guest Post & Giveaway by Clare Chase

Today I’m excited to participate in a blog tour for author Clare Chase in celebration of her novel A Stranger’s House being published in paperback last week. In keeping with the fact that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, the author has graciously written a Valentine’s Day themed guest post exclusively for my readers!! Scroll on to learn about her novel and read Clare’s fabulous post.

A Stranger’s House by Clare Chase

a-strangers-house-clare-chasePublished: Hardcover – February 2016, Paperback – February 2017

Publisher: Choc Lit

Book Blurb:

What if you were powerless to protect the person you cared about most?

When Ruby finds out that her partner has done the unforgivable, she has no option but to move out of their home. With nowhere else to go, a job house-sitting in Cambridge seems like the perfect solution.

But it’s soon clear the absent owner hurts everyone he gets close to, and Ruby’s faced with the fallout. As violent repercussions unfold, her instinct is to investigate: it’s a matter of self-preservation. And besides, she’s curious…

But Ruby’s new boss, Nate Bastable, has his eye on her and seems determined to put a stop to her sleuthing. Is he simply worried for the welfare of a member of staff, or is there something altogether more complicated – and potentially dangerous – at play?

Book Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Guest Post written by Clare Chase

Valentine’s Day in Cambridge, UK

Thanks so much for having me on your blog today, Arielle. It’s great to be here.

Although my books all have a romantic thread running through them, they’re mystery fiction and so I often blog about the crime element. Given that, it makes a lovely change to be asked to write a post about Valentine’s Day!

I should say that I’m at the stage where I know who my valentine’s cards and presents come from – despite the fact that my husband and I still sign our messages with a question mark for tradition’s sake. Apparently this habit of sending cards anonymously took off when the price of postage went down with the introduction of the stamp in 1840. Not having to hand deliver cards made it easier for shy, would-be lovers who wanted to hide their identity.

Although there’s certainly something fun about sending and receiving anonymous cards (and I’m not going to turn my nose up at champagne and chocolates either!), I sometimes feel it’s the more unplanned and less deliberately romantic situations that make for the most memorable occasions – especially in a relationship that’s just starting out. In my book A Stranger’s House, a lot of the sexual tension develops over cooking: two people who don’t know each other well, collaborating on making a sumptuous meal, accidentally brushing against each other and catching each other’s eyes. The wine flows freely, and my lead characters start to find out more about each other.  The spark’s there, and it builds.

A Stranger’s House is set in the UK, in the ancient university city of Cambridge and, on Valentine’s Day, there are certain treats you can enjoy that are specific to this location. The river Cam, that flows through the city is scenic, weaving its way between college buildings that date back hundreds of years. Hiring a punt is the accepted way of making the journey. For anyone who hasn’t come across this weird method of transport before, a punt is a long, flat boat that’s square at both ends, and the punter stands on a board at the back, ready to propel the craft with a long pole. What could be more romantic? You can take a bottle of wine and a picnic, if it’s warm enough, or a hip flask of brandy if not!

clare chase guest post photo 1

But there are a few things to be wary of. The poles are either aluminium or the more traditional (and heavy) wood. If you get a wooden pole, making your way along the river and back again by shoving it against the river bed is quite hard work! What’s more, the base of the river is pretty muddy in places. It’s not uncommon to shove your pole down and find you can’t drag it up again. Meanwhile the board I mentioned that the punter stands on is outside the body of the boat, and it’s slippery if wet! And guess what? Each time you drag your pole out of the river, the board gets covered in water. (Or at least, it does when I do it. I’ve always been hopeless at punting.) If your pole does get stuck, the all-important thing is to let go. It’s hard to look like a romantic idol if your punt moves out from under you and you’re stuck clinging to your pole, sliding inexorably down towards the river! Thankfully, the punt hire people provide you with a (rather weedy) paddle, so if needs be you can eventually rescue your pole. More often than not, some kind person who’s still fully in control of their craft will nip over and get it for you. Other people seem to make the whole process look effortless…

clare chase guest post photo 2

The punt companies know all about the pitfalls, and that’s why – for a hundred pounds or so – you can book a Valentine’s punt tour instead. With these you get to sit back and relax whilst a chauffeur takes strain – at the same time as giving you a running commentary about the colleges you pass on your journey. There are also blankets, hot water bottles and a red rose for your guest. And if you go after dark you even get Chinese lanterns. I can sort of see the appeal. It’s less private, but when it comes down to it, it’s hard to have a cuddle when one of you is in charge of an unwieldy river craft and the other’s clenching their teeth and wondering how hard it would be to swim in their clothes. That said, when I went punting with my husband (then fiancé) on an unseasonably warm February 14th, he did the punting, and I seem to remember it was a solidly good experience.

Whatever you do to celebrate your Valentine’s Day, I do hope you have a wonderful time!

Enter to Win!

Enter for the chance to win an eBook or paperback copy of A Stranger’s House by Clare Chase. To enter simply email info@choc-lit.com with your details and the subject heading Living Life with Joy competition. Good luck!

About the Author – Clare Chase

Links: Website | Twitter | Goodreads

clare-wartnaby-1Author Bio:

Clare Chase writes women sleuth mysteries set in London and Cambridge. She fell in love with the capital as a student, living in the rather cushy surroundings of Hampstead in what was then a campus college of London University.

After graduating in English Literature, she moved to Cambridge and has lived there ever since. She’s fascinated by the city’s contrasts and contradictions, which feed into her writing. She’s worked in diverse settings – from the 800-year-old University to one of the local prisons – and lived everywhere from the house of a Lord to a slug-infested flat. The terrace she now occupies presents a good happy medium.

As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books.

She lives with her husband and teenage children, and currently works at the Royal Society of Chemistry.



Arielle Joy


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Thank you to Choc Lit for including me in the blog tour fun!

Guest Post by Julie Archer – The Importance of the Writer’s Retreat

Today I’m excited to tell you about a new novel called Cocktails, Rock Tales & Betrayal by Julie Archer and share a fabulous  exclusive guest post by the author herself! Thank you to Hello Chick-Lit for letting me be part of the book tour fun!

The Importance of the Writer’s Retreat

Guest post written

By author Julie Archer

If you are lucky enough to get the opportunity to go on a writer’s retreat, I have three words for you: JUST DO IT!

I was fortunate enough to stumble across Urban Writers’ Residential Retreats in Devon (prior to moving there – that didn’t influence my decision though!) a couple of years ago. I’ve now been five times (only a few more visits and I will then have stayed in all the rooms in the house!). The house itself is country-style and relaxed, homely and cosy. There are also farm animals and bunnies for company! Plus plenty of lovely views and rolling hills for inspiration.

It’s a beautifully unstructured retreat where you join in as much or as little as you want to. When I researched retreats, I read horror stories about timetabled writing workshops and, even worse, sitting down each evening to read out loud to the group what you have been working on. Those things don’t work for me. This retreat is not about learning how to write, but gives you the opportunity to settle down and focus for an extended length of time. You can escape from your normal day to day routine where you have to put the washing on or sort out the cat’s litter tray.

Put simply, you get quiet time and space to write. Or read. Or take a bath. Or nap. Yes, the afternoon nap is a hugely underrated part of the whole experience. And no-one judges you if you wear pyjamas for the entire day.

And there’s food…oh, the food! Someone cooks you lunch and dinner. And cake. Every day. Which means you can just focus on the writing.

Then there are other writers. Everyone is at a slightly different stage of their writing journey. Some fully formed, fully published authors with deadlines. Several self-published authors with new ideas. Others who are working on non-fiction books. And those who just want to come and explore the creativity they think they have. Being around half a dozen other writers for several days means getting inspiration and support. If you’re having a bad time, you can talk it through. Or have word races to get the creative juices flowing. Or sit around the dinner table and discuss some of the most random topics (most totally unsuitable to put in a post like this!) to get your brain thinking about what you could write.

I’ve made some really good friends through the retreats. And you’ll often find yourself on the same retreat again, even without planning! If you’ve been once, you tend to find yourself boomeranging back again in a few months’ time. Particularly if you’ve got a deadline to meet or something specific you want to write.

While retreat-ing may not work for everyone, it certainly worked for me in getting Cocktails, Rock Tales & Betrayals into the outside world. I’m hoping it will have the same effect for Book 2!


Cocktails, Rock Tales & Betrayals by author Julie Archer

Book Tour Dates: November 27th – December 6th, 2016

Published: September 29, 2016


A bar, a band and a Thorne between two roses…

Caro and Nate are perfect for each other. Trouble is, Nate is really Alik Thorne lead singer of the Next Big Thing in rock music and his girlfriend, Edie, isn’t really prepared to share him…

Caro Flynn leaves behind the sultry nights of Mallorca to open her own bar back home. Romance wasn’t high on her list of priorities, but a last minute fling makes her think again…

Edie Spencer-Newman always gets what she wants. But when she sets her sights on something a little too close to home, she’s about to stir up a whole heap of trouble…

When the consequences of a tragic accident cause relationships to crumble, will anyone find a happy ending?

Book Links: Amazon US | AmazonUK | Goodreads

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About the Author – Julie Archer

Author Links: Goodreads  |  Twitter  |  Facebook

julie-archer-author-photo Author Bio:

Julie Archer grew up in Hampshire and lived in Reading before moving to the beautiful riverside town of Dartmouth in Devon. She still feels like she’s on holiday.

Julie trained as a journalist, then went into teaching (kept meeting the sixth form students in the pub, awkward!). After that she ‘fell’ into recruitment, spending more years there than she cares to mention, where the most creative thing she did was to create a sexy top line for job adverts! Since moving to Devon, she set up her own business offering virtual administration and recruitment services, worked for an accommodation company and is currently moonlighting in the local bookshop…

Also, COYS, Cats, Metal. Underneath this preppy exterior beats the heart of a rock chick.


Visit all the stops on the Tour:

November 27th

Blog on the Run – Promo Post
My Comfy Reading Corner – Book Review
He Said Books or Me – Author Guest Post

November 28th

Steamy Book Momma – Book Excerpt
Judging More Than Just The Cover – Author Q&A

November 29th

Rachel Brimble Romance – Author Q&A
Living Life With Joy – Author Guest Post

November 30th

Book Lover in Florida – Book Excerpt

December 1st

Chick Lit Central – Author Guest Post

December 2nd

Authors & Readers Book Corner – Book Excerpt

December 3rd

Hello…Chick Lit – Book Excerpt

December 4th

Novel Gossip – Book Promo/Excerpt

December 5th

Rae Reads – Book Excerpt

December 6th

Grass Monster – Amazon Book Review

Tour arranged by: HCL Author Services & Book Tours


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Arielle Joy

Guest Post – Nikki LeClair

Today I’m excited to tell you about a new novel that’s been released by the lovely miss Nikki LeClair, called Locking Up Santa. Not only am I going to tell you all about her new novel, but I’m also sharing an exclusive guest post written by the author herself in honor of her blog tour arranged by Hello Chick Lit. Nikki’s guest post is titled Why a Beauty Company? and it’s a must read!!

Locking Up Santa by Nikki LeClair

Book Tour Dates: November 8th – 15th, 2016

lockingupsantafrontcoverkindleBook Blurb:

It’s the Christmas season, and seven months since Phoebe Mercer’s life dramatically changed. She went from being an overworked legal assistant, to a CEO of a popular beauty company. She moved from the bustling big city, to a quaint seaside town. She’s gone from living with a fiancé, to living with a ghost. Yet, it seems she can’t get a grip on her new life, whether it’s getting used to being a public figure, having a Chief Operating Official who hates her, or a ghost who is just too passionate. As if things can’t get any worse, Phoebe’s friend and mentor is arrest for a horrible crime many think they were capable of committing. Except for Phoebe, and her ghost.  As Phoebe races to prove her mentors innocence, and stop the company from sinking, she must deal with a face from her past that throws her in a disarray of emotion, an unwanted visitor, and old friends who seem to have abandoned her.

Book Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Why a Beauty Company?

Thank you SO much for having me on Living With Joy! So grateful to be given a chance to share a bit about myself and my new book, on your wonderful blog.

My name’s Nikki and I am a writer from Canada. I write Cozy Mysteries and Chick Lit’s. My new release is part of my cozy mystery series that centers on an eccentric ghost and her multimillion dollar beauty company, Lavish Looks. Lavish Looks specializes in skin care, hair and body products, which in the series, are well known all over the world for their uplifting scents. Scents like Lavender, Coconut Grove, and Sweet Orange. My inspiration for the company came from two things; my obsession with The Body Shop, mostly their Brazil Nut line, and my sister. She makes her own all natural soaps, and the moment she gave me a sample of her first batch two years ago, I knew exactly what my characters lives would centre around.

Natural and delicious smelling beauty products.

Before the first book was published in the series, I had to ‘research’. I had so much fun when I was researching how a beauty company is run, or how their scents are invented. Not only did I get tons of samples from dozens of beauty companies, like the Body Shop and L’occitane En Provence, but I was able to score some behind the scenes videos on how they run their factories and headquarters! I was introduced to the way they test their products and market them. I was surprised to discover how so much ‘power marketing’ by these companies is now relied on whether famous beauty bloggers around the world give it a ‘pass!’ or ‘fail!’, but should I have been? It is the power of social media after all.

I’ve always been a fan of sweet scents, and delicate beauty products. Hair masks, face masks, homemade bars of soap… I think they are the perfect way to pamper yourself after a stressful day, and I think they are fantastic gifts to give friends and family. I absolutely love how our world is changing and how more people are getting cautious about what they put on their skin. It’s making a great difference in how these companies create their products.

Edie Edwards, the fun-loving ghost in the series is beyond proud of her company Lavish Looks. And she makes sure her human companion, Phoebe Mercer, knows it. Even beyond the grave Edie is still there to guide Phoebe into making the right choices with the products and company. Locking Up Santa takes the two of them through a situation that would be a nightmare for any beauty company; a failing scent. A scent they spent thousands and thousands of dollars on, that comes out smelling like a rip off of Mr.Clean with extra bleach. Toss this in with a series of scary break and enters in their gorgeous hometown, and you have a rather dramatic Christmas novel! Though it was fun to write, it was also torture for someone who loves hair masks and lotions.

I’m curious; do you have any favorite beauty products? What are they?

Comment below and let us know.


About the Author – Nikki LeClair

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

Author Bio:

profileNikki LeClair lives in Canada with her loving husband and their two rambunctious children. When she isn’t ordering her children to behave or begging her Border Terrier to listen to her, she sits behind her lap-top plotting out the next adventure of her new characters. She’s a fan of a good glass of Pinot Noir, and can’t live without her favorite Tea blends.

She enjoys hearing from readers and fans of her work. You can find her on twitter at @NikkiL_Books, and on her Facebook Fanpage Nikki LeClair


Visit all the Tour Stops:

November 8th

lifeisawalkingshadow – Book Review
Novelgossip  – Excerpt/Promo Post

November 9th

Living Life With Joy – Guest Post/Promo
Grass Monster – Amazon Book Review
Judging More Than Just The Cover – Author Q&A

November 10th

Jena Books – Book Review
Hello…Chick Lit – Book Excerpt/Promo Post

November 11th

He Said Books or Me – Guest Post/Promo
Steamy Book Momma – Promo Post
Splashes Into Books – Book Review/Excerpt

November 12th

Reading Is My SuperPower – Book Review

November 13th

Reading To Unwind – Book Review/Promo

November 14th

BookLoverWorm – Book Review
Book Lover in Florida – Book Review/Promo

November 15th

Whispering Stories – Book Review/Excerpt

Tour Arranged by:


Arielle Joy



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Guest Post by Author T.A. Williams

Today I’m thrilled to share an exclusive guest post from author T.A. Williams where he reflects on his canine obsession. Whether or not you’ve read his novels, you’ll know just by looking at the covers of his books that his women’s fiction stories all include dogs [see the below image for visual proof!] Read on for a fun guest post from the author, and check back tomorrow for my review of his latest novel, What Happens at the Beach…

T.A. Williams Covers

So is this the last appearance of a Labrador?

TA (Trevor) Williams reflects on his canine obsession

What Happens at the Beach… is to be the last (or maybe the penultimate) in the What Happens… series. This book has a great canine character in it, in the form of Barney the black Labrador. Those of you familiar with my work will know that a black Lab is pretty much my trademark. But is that about to come to an end? My editor at Harper Collins believes it might be time to ditch the dog when I branch out into another series. I’m prepared to give it a go, but I’m not convinced.

As an author, I find that the dogs in my books actually serve a practical purpose. A page full of text can look intimidating, maybe potentially boring. Insert some dialogue and it breaks the whole thing up. When you’ve got a character all alone, it’s hard to insert dialogue unless you go for a phone call or have the poor soul talking to him or herself. That’s where the dog comes in. Tell me honestly, all you dog owners out there that you never speak to your dog. I don’t believe you. I’m not just talking about “sit, stay, good dog”, but actual chat. I used to do it all the time with dear old Merlin. Men are often described as poor listeners. You could never say that about a Lab. They listen, maintain eye contact and, apart from an unfortunate habit of interrupting the conversation to lick his genitals, Merlin proved to be an outstanding sounding block.

All right, they aren’t too hot at the responding part of a conversation, but my dogs could always be counted on to stretch out a friendly paw or offer a lick of the hand (depending where the dog’s tongue had just been, this often resulted in a trip to a wash basin, but I digress). So, as a writer, I find the dog a valuable tool.

My next book is set in Venice and, as such, offers less scope for a canine companion than in some of my other books. Dante the Tuscan dog and Barney in What Happens at the Beach… both have whole hillsides to roam around in. Venice has very little in the way of green space and, although a dog is the ultimate status symbol there, indicating to all and sundry that the owner is a local, not one of the millions of tourists who descend upon the city each year, there aren’t many about. Venice doesn’t really lend itself to dogs.

So, brace yourselves, the next book is going to be dog-free although I might just slip in a cameo appearance by a woofer or two for old time’s sake. I will be interested to get the feedback of the readers but, for now, I do hope you enjoy Barney the dog, the latest reincarnation of good old Merlin.


To all my T.A. Williams fans out there, are you ready for a novel without his signature dog? I’m on the fence, but either way, I’m sure his next novel will be wonderful regardless of the lack of a lovable four-legged character.

About the Author – T.A. Williams

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

TAWilliamsAuthor Bio: Firstly, my name isn’t T A. It’s Trevor. I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of books are read by women. In my first book, “Dirty Minds” one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn’t possibly comment. Ask my wife…

I’ve written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I’m enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. Romantic comedies are what we all need from time to time. Life isn’t always very fair. It isn’t always a lot of fun, but when it is, we need to embrace it. If my books can put a smile on your face and maybe give your heartstrings a tug, then I know I’ve done my job.

I‘ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away in south west England. I love the place. That’s why you’ll find leafy lanes and thatched cottages in most of my books. Oh, yes, and a black Labrador.

I’ve been writing since I was 14 and that is half a century ago. However, underneath this bald, wrinkly exterior, there beats the heart of a youngster. My wife is convinced I will never grow up. I hope she’s right.


Thank you to Karan Eleni PR Tours for organizing this guest post for Living Life With Joy!

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Arielle Joy


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Mermadelaide by Carla Caruso

There’s something happening on social media right now that you have to check out! One of my favorite Australian authors is telling a story online about a mermaid through social media posts. [By the way, Carla is one of my favorite authors in general, but she happens to be Australian!]

I don’t know about you, but I love the mermaid trend happening right now. Perhaps I’m a bit biased because my mom named me Arielle and I grew up on Ariel the Little Mermaid? I always said I was going to dye my hair red when I got older but now it seems the mermaid trend falls back from the Disney idea of Ariel to a more ‘natural’ mermaid blue. Perhaps if I was a natural blond I would jump on the bandwagon and give the color a go, but my dark brown hair refuses to cooperate! Read Carla’s guest post below, then click on the links to follow her story on social media.


Guest Post by Carla Caruso, www.carlacaruso.com.au

Check out this mermaid romance tale – being told post by post!

SelmaMermaids are bigger than Disney’s Ariel right now, in case you hadn’t heard! (And you no longer have to be under eight to appreciate them.)

Here are several reasons why mermaids are on-trend:

  • The ‘mermaid’ pastel hair – everyone from Kylie Jenner to Rihanna are dying their locks blue
  • The Little Mermaid In Concert hitting the Hollywood Bowl this month, featuring stars like Rebel Wilson
  • Mermaid performers actually making a good living from being hired out at parties and clubs
  • Stores selling everything from realistic mermaid tails for kids and adults – hello TheMertailor.com – to cozy mermaid-tail blankets
  • Celebs like Richard Branson donning a merman tail for World Oceans Day this June!

Mermadelaide model Jade Allen - pic James Elsby 2Not that I actually knew all this when I had a mermaid story swimming around in my head and pitched the idea to the SA Writers Centre (in Australia, where I live) for its digital-writer-in-residence program.

At any rate, the Centre gave me the green-light, and I’ve since been telling a story – via daily Instagram and Facebook posts – about a mermaid stuck in the city, dubbed ‘Mermadelaide’.

It’s all a totally new experience for a romantic comedy author like me, used to writing lengthy manuscripts for paperback or ebook form. But I’m having a blast! And with our shortened attention spans, courtesy of Netflix and texting, maybe ‘fast fiction’ via social media might even become more widespread in future?

Mermadelaide model Jade Allen - pic James Elsby 3To help tell the story, I roped in Adelaide model Jade Allen to play my urban-mermaid ‘Luna’, plus my photographer hubby, James Elsby, to take the pics and video, and my arty sister, Daniella Caruso, to add illustrations to the mix.

Naturally, being a romance writer, the mermaid tale involves a romance – with a human guy!

You can follow Luna’s journey here http://bit.ly/250WENP or here http://bit.ly/1R9xZwN until June 25. Or find out more about the project at bit.ly/1WeEeYp.

Since starting the tale, I’ve had an idea to do another digital story – involving a ghost girl… it just depends if I garner a keen enough audience!

Mermadelaide model Jade Allen - pic James Elsby 4


Thanks for reading and don’t forget to follow the links to read the story on social media!

Arielle Joy

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Interview, Guest Post & Excerpt | Mary Chris Escobar

neverending beginnings button (1)Today I am excited to share an excerpt of Mary Chris Escobar’s latest novel Neverending Beginnings. Not only will you get a sneak peek of the book, but you’ll also get to enjoy the fun interview we had PLUS a fabulous guest post written by the author herself! And to top it all off, there’s a giveaway to enter too!

Guest Post by Mary Chris Escobar

I recently ran across a playlist that I made when I was writing Neverending Beginnings. Making a playlist for the book you are writing is a pretty common practice for many writers, but it wasn’t something that I did for my second novel, or the two novellas I have written. In fact, I had completely forgotten that I had done this for my debut novel and it was really fun to stumble across just as the novel was released in paperback this summer.

The version of Neverending Beginnings that is out in the world today had a long and winding journey to publication. The first version of it was met with positive accolades for my writing style, but a desire for bigger, more exciting things to happen. I substantially re-wrote the story, adding a bigger plot hook and lots more tension. Then I ultimately ended up tearing that second story apart to include the repeating week structure that is the defining characteristic of the novel today.

Listening to the playlist I made all those drafts ago, was like flipping through a scrapbook full of memories. Some of the songs completely made sense for the book as it exists today, others not as much. I thought it would be fun to share some of the highlights here.

The Flaws – David Shultz and the Skyline

This song is from a local band in Richmond, Virginia where I live. I met David at the DMV one Saturday years ago — true story. It contains the amazing lyrics “If you get to close to beauty, you begin to see the flaws. But I really don’t think that’s too close at all.” Since I always strive to write flawed characters, this one could go on every book playlist.

At This Moment – Billy Vera

This song could also be on every book playlist, because it is for me it is symbolic of good storytelling. I grew up watchingFamily Ties and the love story between Alex P. Keaton and Ellen may very well be one of the first romances I encountered. He was trying to date her roommate, but she got under his skin (mostly by standing her ground). When he chases her to the train station to confess his love, this song is playing in the background. It’s not about the song itself, but about the emotion it invokes for me.

Brave- Idina Menzel

I honestly have no clue whether I picked this song because it was reflective of things my main character, Kate, was learning or as a reminder to myself to be brave and put my work out into the world.

What it Takes – Aerosmith

I think my characters sang along to this in a bar in the second version of the story. Maybe. If not, I have no idea why it’s on this list (perhaps because I sang along to it in bars when I was 26 like Kate?)

Fidelity – Regina Spektor

This song is the closest to embodying who Kate is for most of the book, “I never loved nobody fully. Always one foot on the ground. And by protecting my heart truly, I got lost in the sounds…” One of my goals in writing Neverending Beginnings, was to write a female character who was afraid of commitment. I felt like I was reading a lot about women running toward relationships and marriage and wanted to create a character who was more hesitant.

Those are the highlights of the playlist I created while writing Neverending Beginnings. I would love to hear what songs come to mind for readers! And if anyone has any insight into how that Aerosmith song landed on my list, please do share.

Links used:

David Shultz: https://vimeo.com/5283028

Billy Vera: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK0hl0u26t0

Idina Menzel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luiRqbZ7t8U

Aerosmith: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSnuQcFgvDo

Regina Spektor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wigqKfLWjvM


Author Interview – Mary Chris Escobar

1. Would you like to start by introducing yourself?

Sure! I’m an author, living Richmond, Virginia (which may or may not be considered the south, depending on who you ask). I write lighthearted romantic comedies. When I’m not writing, you can find me sipping a craft beer or enjoying a chocolate croissant at the coffee shop around the corner from my house. I also spend some of that non-writing time advising undeclared college students. Which is appropriate, since I still feel a little undecided myself, at times.

2. Can you give us a brief overview of your latest novel and the inspiration behind it?

My most recent publication was the paperback release of Neverending Beginnings. The novel is best described as the movie Groundhog Day meets My Best Friend’s Wedding. The main character Kate, gives a splendidly horrible toast at her best friend’s wedding and wishes she could get a do-over. She wakes up the next morning a week in the past — with the chance to do exactly that.

The inspiration behind the story was actually I toast I gave at a wedding. I thought I had prepared adequately, but realized after the best man’s perfect toast that mine was way too short. It took me approximately 30 seconds to deliver it and guests were confused, scrambling for their glasses because they were expecting the toast to be much longer. While this was not even close to horrible in the way that Kate’s toast in Neverending Beginnings is, it did give me the idea that sparked the story: what if it had really, truly, been a disaster?

3. How long did it take you to write Neverending Beginnings? What is your writing process like?

Even though it was just released in paperback, Neverending Beginnings was the first novel I wrote. I was writing on the side, just for fun, while I was in graduate school, so it took quite a long time— probably a couple years. I spent at least another year to a year and half on revisions. The repeating weeks were not part of the original story. I added those in as an “edit” later. I put quotations around “edit”, because it was really more like a complete and total rewrite.

As far as process, I am a pantser, meaning I fly by the seat of my pants when I write and don’t start with an outline. I generally know how I want the story to end, but I flow with the twists and turns as the story unfolds. This means that I write extremely rough first drafts and spend a lot of time in edits shading in the nuances of characters and fleshing out scenes.

4. Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?

Yes, thanks for asking! Earlier this year I wrote two short stories as part of blog hops. I loved the characters and continued their story week by week on my blog over the course of several months. Once the story was told I was thinking about polishing it up and publishing it as a serial told in three parts. However, as I dug into the edits I realized there was a whole novel there. So that’s what I’m working on now. The overarching theme of the story is the concept that“fresh starts” are virtually impossible. The past is always a part of who you are. There are also squirrels.

5. Did you always want to be a writer?

I think so, but I didn’t officially figure it out until I was nearly 30 years old. I was always acting out stories with my stuffed animals as a young child. In middle school, I wrote New Kids on the Block fan fiction and then followed that with some bad poetry in high school. In college, I was always given feedback that I was a “good writer” on my papers. I think until I started teaching and grading papers myself, I mostly thought instructors wrote that on everyone’s papers. I later learned that offering the comment “well-written” is usually about style and voice, not simply that the paper is spell-checked and on topic. I didn’t officially find my calling as a writer until I took a class at a local arts center and fell in love with the process.

6. Who are the authors that inspire you and what genres do you enjoy reading?

I really do write what I read, so I enjoy reading lighthearted women’s fiction. Some of the first authors I remember reading in the genre were Meg Cabot, Alison Winn Scotch, Megan Crane, and  Emily Giffin. Recently I loved The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke and After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

I don’t have a chance to read as much romance as I would like (because there just aren’t enough hours in the day for all. the. books), but I have critique partners and beta readers who are romance writers and I am constantly inspired by their work ethic, spirit of collaboration and general kindness. A great deal of my knowledge about the business side of publishing is courtesy of the romance community.

7. What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?

I’m paraphrasing a bit here but it was: “one of the kindest things you can do for yourself and those around you is to stop looking to the left and right and just run your race.” A wise former colleague of mine said this, and it has really stuck with me. We have this tendency to make other people’s definition of success our own, but we aren’t doing ourselves or anyone else a favor by doing that. Like most good advice it’s easier said than done, but ultimately I’ve found those times when I’ve stayed true and authentic to myself, even when it’s difficult, have made the greatest impact on the trajectory of my life.

And now for a few “just for fun” ones …

8. What are the things you can’t live without in your kitchen?

Garlic, olive oil, pasta and cheese. Also avocados.

9. What are the things you can’t live without in your wardrobe?

Dark jeans, gray and black shirts, colorful cardigans and comfy flats. Also at least one fun dress and totally impractical pair of shoes.

10. What would we find if we looked in your handbag right now?

Like most people that spend a lot of time traveling places by foot, I carry a really large bag. (Also, as a writer, it is imperative that a laptop fit in there when necessary.) If you were to look in my handbag right now you would find:

  • my phone
  • headphones
  • a couple seashells from a beach trip last month
  • a pen (Uniball, extra fine in blue)
  • a small beat-up journal I’ve had for years
  • an umbrella
  • a PayPal credit card reader
  • business cards
  • home and office keys
  • a planner
  • proof copy of Neverending Beginnings (which I guess is sort of my  equivalent to carrying around a picture of my child)
  • a reusable shopping bag
  • sunblock (lavender-scented)
  • sunglasses
  • a little pouch with lip-gloss, lip balm, lipstick (yes, all three), bobby pins, hand lotion, ibuprofen, and mints in it

11. Either or…

Dogs or cats? Cats, though only in pictures, since I’m allergic.

Red wine or white? Rose. Just kidding (not really). Red in the winter, white in the summer. Rose all year.

Coffee or tea? Coffee

Summer or Winter? Fall. (Apparently I’m not so good at either/or …)

Sleep in or get up early? Sleep in

Apple or PC? Apple


Neverending Beginnings by Mary Chris Escobar

neverending beginningsPublished: November 9, 2013 [Re-published May 2015]

Book Description: This contemporary romance is Groundhog Day meets My Best Friend’s Wedding. Readers who like women’s fiction by Meg Cabot, Emily Giffin and Allison Winn Scotch will enjoy this romantic comedy.

Kate is alarmed to find out that her best friend Amy is getting married after dating for only six months. Her alarm turns to shock when she learns that the groom-to-be is Kate’s old college ex. As the big day approaches, Kate’s inability to hide her feelings is threatening to ruin her friendship with Amy.

Kate’s last minute, vodka-fueled wedding toast has her wishing she could turn back the clock and make things right. Imagine her surprise when she wakes up the next day and finds out she can.

Forced to relive one of the most painful weeks of her life, Kate slowly works to repair the damage she has done. In the process, she learns a lot about herself and the cynically charming best man, Ben.

Book Links: Amazon | Apple iBooks | B&N | Smashwords | Kobo

Excerpt – Neverending Beginnings

The screen on my phone lit up. I had silenced it before I went to bed. It was a text message from Ben. Did you get the squash yet? I smiled and clicked on the message to reply, then changed my mind and called instead.

“Hello,” he answered. There was a little gravel in his voice. It was nice.

“Just wanted you to know that there is a whole basket full of squash and salsa and spaghetti sauce in the trunk of my car.”

“You didn’t mention the salsa and spaghetti sauce the other night. I mean that’s a total game changer, I wouldn’t have even given you a hard time for blowing me off over that.” I could hear him smiling, which made tingles run the length of my spine.

“So what are you up to?” I asked.

“I was actually cutting out tiny people to glue onto this model I’m working on.”

“Like stick people?”

“No, tiny photographs of actual people.”

“Really. Where do you find something like that? Is it like clip art?”

He laughed. “Sort of. There are actually whole websites where you can download them for architectural purposes.”

“What are they wearing?”

“Um … are you trying to chat up my tiny model people? Because I think I might have to protest on their behalf. I mean they’ve never even met you. . Now if you’re asking me … ”

I hadn’t, of course, meant that at all, but I laughed. And tried desperately to fight back the onslaught of images and feelings the mere hint of intimacy with Ben seemed to produce. Perhaps calling him while I was lying in bed had been unwise.

“I, um … just wanted to make sure they were, you know, not going to embarrass themselves by being out of date … fashionably speaking. That’s all,” I tried to recover.

“Oh, I see. They certainly appreciate the concern.” He was still smiling.

“So, other than an update on the squash situation, and propositioning your tiny model people, any word from Jack?”



“I can call you tomorrow if I hear, though.”

“Yeah, that would be great.”

“So, are you having a good visit with your dad?” he asked.

I hesitated. “Yeah.”

“You don’t sound so sure there.”

I tried to remember if he knew about my mom. I don’t think it had come up this round, but there was the dessert … except that was last round. The combination of tired and tingly all over was making details hard at the present moment, so I just asked, “Did I tell you my mom passed away last year?”

“No. Wow. So I guess it is sort of weird being back there, huh?”


“Have you been back a lot?”

“No. Not much at all, actually.”

“How … I mean was it sudden … if you don’t mind me asking?”

“No. Not sudden. Cancer. And actually thanks for asking, most people are scared to.”

He was quiet, probably not sure what to say. As usual with him, I kept talking. “So my dad is starting to go through things. Wants my help tomorrow. I’m really dreading it.”

“I guess so,” he said sympathetically.

“He’s right. It’s time, and intellectually I know that. It just sucks … you know, emotionally.”


We were quiet again, but it wasn’t awkward. Never awkward.

“I didn’t mean to unload all that on you … I barely know you …”

“No, no … thanks for telling me. Now we won’t have that awkward moment later when I ask about your family.”

“Right, awkward, sort of like how I just asked what your little people were wearing.”

“I’d file that more under adorable, actually. And for the record, seriously, if you ever want to ask what I’m wearing, that would be nice, too.”

“Duly noted.” I smiled.

“So I’ll keep you posted if I hear anything tomorrow. Otherwise, Tuesday night?”

“Sounds good.”

“Good night,” he said.

“Good night.”

I hung up relaxed and sleepy. As I drifted off, I thought for the tiniest of split seconds, that possibly a phone relationship with Ben might not be the worst thing in the world.

About the Author – Mary Chris Escobar

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Amazon | Goodreads

mary chris escobarAward-winning author Mary Chris writes women’s fiction. She was destined to write romance from a young age (as a child, her stuffed animals always got their happily-ever-afters). She lives in Richmond, Virginia in a renovated parking garage with her husband. Find her on her website, on Twitter or just about anywhere good coffee or craft beer is served.

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Check out the other stops on the Neverending Beginnings blog tour!

July 6 – Sweet N SassyBookaholics – Review & Excerpt

July 7 – Living Life With Joy – Guest Post. Q&A & Excerpt

July 8 – Coffeeholic Bookworm – Review & Excerpt

July 9 – Mallory Heart Reviews – Review & Excerpt

July 9 – Julie Valerie’s Book Blog – Review & Q&A

July 10 – Sinfully Good Reads – Excerpt

July 13 – Hey Said Renee – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt

July 14 – A Love That Can’t Be Stopped – Excerpt

July 17 – Samantha March – Excerpt

July 20 – Polished & Bubbly – Review

July 23 – Chick Lit Goddess – Review

July 24 – Chick Lit Plus – Review

July 28 – Writing Pearls   – Review & Excerpt

July 31 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt

August 3 – Storm Goddess Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt