The writing roundup for 2023

Well, I’d thought the end of 2022 had been a challenge. Let me just say it had nothing on what 2023 had to offer. If you’ve been on my newsletter list, you’ll have heard about it. If you’re not on the list yet, then  you can sign up for it here and I’ll write a post called Things that happened while I was writing werewolf book 2 when I publish the second werewolf book (all going well that will be later this year and when I’ve written that post, I’ll add the link in here). Anyway, 2023 was grueling, but weirdly enough, the awful year helped me refocus and to start using the pockets of time that I had to get to the desk, and make the most of the time I had rather than to stop waiting for that perfect convergence of free time, mental energy, and physical energy)(e.g. doing what professional writers with a family are doing every day:-).

So, without further ado… here’s the review for 2023:

What I wrote in 2023

Total new words written for 2023: 96K

This was:

  • 63K towards draft 1 of the second werewolf book (WW)
  • 7.7K towards “draft 0” of the third werewolf book
  • 5K towards “draft 0” of the 2nd middle grade fantasy (TFI)
  • 12K on A Touch of Magic (the novel)
  • 3K on short stories and daily writes
  • 4K on a high fantasy

50K of the 96K were written as part of Nanowrimo.

(Not included in the above is the time and words spent on doing edits, re-writing, plotting, researching, and putting together the “story bible”. Also when time has been short, and or I’ve been stressed – which was a significant amount of this year – I find it easier to write something new than to build on to my established story worlds as there’s too many details I can miss and it saves me time down the track in unnecessary re-writes).

Where the fiction books are at (as of December 2023):

  • ATOM was sent off for a copy edit (it’s due back in January 2024)
  • WW has been sent to 4 alpha readers and to my editor for a manuscript assessment
  • I’m currently working on TFI (Middle grade Book 1)

What I’ve been reading in 2023

According to my goodreads reading challenge, I’ve read 53 books. (My goal was 100 books but I reduced it to 50 in June after the events of the first half of the year).

Of these:

  • 42 were audiobooks
  • 7 were ebooks
  • 4 were print books

Interviews and highlights in 2023

I had two interviews in 2023, one was an audio interview for the Stories bind us podcast.

And the other was a written interview on fellow Women’s Fiction author, TA Rosewood’s website.

Goals for 2024

I’m going to take a bit of time to think about my goals for 2024, but because I have some projects in the works, a lot of started projects I want to work through and finish and hopefully a little more time, so with that said, my writing and publishing goal is to:

  • Publish A Touch of Magic (the novel)
  • Publish Moonstruck Mother series (book 2)

I’d love to:

  • Publish GG or TFI and
  • Write the first draft of Moonstruck Mother series (book 3)

Anyway, if I’m going to achieve all this, I’d better get writing! 🙂

The writing roundup for 2022

I love a good review/ summary post and since I’ve had a bit of a challenging start to this year, (and consequently haven’t had a chance to share my yearly roundup in my newsletter), I thought I’d share the summary here (because it would seem odd to include it in the June newsletter given we are half way through the year!).

So this is the 2022 review:

What I wrote in 2022

Total new words written in 2022: 102K *

This was:

  • 20K added to the final draft of A Touch of Magic (the book is now getting ready for a copy edit)
  • 10K added to the secret co-writing project (which I am now no longer working on)
  • 30K added to draft 1 of TFI (the second middle grade book)
  • 40K on draft 1 of WW (the second Moonstruck Mother Series book)
  • 2K on a separate women’s fiction with magic project

(50K of the 102K words were written as part of NaNoWriMo).

(* as I was writing my 2023 update, and I went back over previous years, I discovered the total on this page was wrong, so I’ve updated it:-)

What I’ve been reading

According to my goodreads reading challenge, I read 81 books this year (my goal was 100). (To see all the titles I’ve read over on my goodreads page, click here). Not included in this 81 book total were the books I’d beta read that hadn’t been published (including multiple drafts of my own stories while editing).

I was curious about how many of the books I read were audio, ebook or print, so I calculated it and here’s the breakdown:

  • 54 audiobooks
  • 22 ebooks and
  • 5 print books.

I thought I’d read more print books than that but last year just wasn’t a sit down and read kind of year. All in all though, it’s the closest I’ve got to the 100 books goal since I’ve been setting that as my goal:-).

Interviews and highlights

I had two interviews in 2022, one was a video chat with Louisa West in her facebook group:

And a written interview over on Dana and Chole’s blog:

My goals for 2023:

The first half of 2023 hasn’t gone anywhere near according to plan, but assuming things improve, these are my writing and publishing goals for 2023:

  • Complete and publish ATOM
  • Complete and publish WW
  • Complete and publish GG (the first middle grade fantasy)
  • Write the first draft of WP (the third Moonstruck Mother book)
  • Complete the first draft of TGI (the second middle grade fantasy)

 

Down in a sinkhole

Before writing Wolf Mother (The Moonstruck Mother Series, Book 1), I’d never seen a sinkhole – let alone been in one – and if it hadn’t been for a research interview with a friend, that would most likely still be the case.

So, what is a sinkhole?

Basically, it’s a hole in the ground, that can either be created gradually, or suddenly. Three main types are:

  • Dissolution sinkholes
  • Cover subsidence sinkholes
  • Cover collapse sinkholes

They’re formed by erosion. Dissolution and cover subsidence sinkholes occur slowly, while cover collapse sinkholes occur suddenly. A common example of a cover collapse sinkhole is the cavern of an underground cave collapsing. So an area like the Limestone Coast in the South East of South Australia, is a great place to see these up close.

The three sinkholes I went in, for my research for Wolf Mother were the cover collapse kind, and they are:

  • Umpherston Sinkhole (Sunken Garden)(Mt Gambier, South Australia)
  • Depth: 20m
  • Width: 50m

Umpherston sinkhole is one of those places that photos just can’t do justice. It’s truly beautiful. The sinkhole was turned into an elaborate garden as you can see in the picture below. Behind the hanging plants, is a little hidden area, and at night, you can feed the possums that live there (they seem to be a fan of grapes and apple). The edge of the sinkhole is fascinating and reminded me of pancake-like layers of rock (nothing like the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks in New Zealand, but layers of rock just the same).

(This photo was taken from our first research trip to Mount Gambier in January 2019).

  • Cave Gardens (Mt Gambier, South Australia)
  • Depth: 30m

This sinkhole is located in the city centre of Mt Gambier. It’s deep, with a few viewing platforms along the way. It’s quite pretty, with plants, and colourful lights, lighting it up in the darkness. Unlike Umpherston sinkhole, which is not just deep, but also quite wide, the Cave Gardens sinkhole, like the entrance to Engelbrecht cave (see below), is narrower, and deeper.

(Cave Gardens viewing platform, this photo was also taken in January, 2019)

  • Engelbrecht Cave (Mt Gambier, South Australia)
  • Depth: 12m (according to google, though I have to say it felt deeper than that walking up and down the 164 steps!)

(The sinkhole entrance to Englebrecht cave)

Engelbrecht cave is located in the centre of the city. The caves consist of two separate caverns that you access via a sinkhole, and gives access (for cave divers anyway) to approximately 600m of underwater caves (and yes, I’m already thinking about ways to use this in subsequent books in the Moonstruck Mother series:-).

 So how does it feel to be down in a sinkhole?

Each of these sinkholes (as tourist attractions) were beautiful with exposed rock, and greenery. It’s cooler in temperature down in the hole, rather than above ground (as you’d expect). And although the ground beneath my feet was solid, and firm, I confess, I found myself wondering how stable ‘above ground’ was as we drove around afterward. Incidentally, shortly after we returned to Adelaide, a sinkhole opened up in my parents residential street, and although that particular sinkhole wasn’t as deep as these, it was pretty unsettling to see the broken asphalt and the hole in the centre of an intersection I’d driven over many times. (And it was a reminder that not all sinkholes are like the pretty ones above).

Anyway, if you’re wondering how a sinkhole fits into a book about a werewolf, you can find out here:

A walk down Ghost Mushroom Lane

Maybe it’s because I was a city kid, or most likely, it’s because I’m a fantasy writer – but the word ‘forest’ is usually enough to conjure story ideas in my mind. Add the words ‘glowing mushrooms’ and I’ve entered a whole new dimension. So once I learned about Ghost Mushrooms (special mushrooms that grow in forests near Mount Gambier, and glow in the darkness), I had to see them for myself.  I had  gone to Mount Gambier once before (January 2019) for a research trip to see forests, sinkholes, dormant volcanoes, caves, the Blue Lake and The Tantanoola Tiger. And I loved the region so much, I was eager to return.  So finding out about the ghost mushrooms was just the excuse I needed.

Luckily for me, my children and husband were just as eager to see them too:-)

Okay, so what exactly are these ‘special mushrooms’?

They’re a bio-luminescent fungus that grows on rotting tree trunks and stumps. If you head to Mount Gambier, you’ll find them at Ghost Mushroom Lane in the OneFortyOne Pine Forest Plantation in Glencoe (16km out of Mount Gambier).  By the way, their scientific name is Omphalotus nidiformis but if that’s a mouthful, just stick with Ghost Mushrooms:-). According to the Forestry SA website, this species is native to Australia. The glow (bioluminescence) comes from a chemical reaction between oxygen and an enzyme in the mushroom, and you can see this glow, once the sun sets and it’s dark.

The mushrooms only glow from May to June each year (so it’s a pretty narrow window of opportunity to see them). Unfortunately Ghost Mushroom Lane is closed this year (2020), due to Covid 19, but according to the Forestry SA website, it will be up and running again next year (2021).

We took a lot of photos during our visit and I thought I’d share some of our observations and tips for anyone interested in going to check them out in the future.

About the mushroom trails

The first thing you need to know is that there are four main trails off Ghost Mushroom Lane (the main road through the plantation). These include: Fairy Tale Hollow, Fungi Hunter Ally, Ghostly Gully and The Neon Forest. Some of these trails are shorter than the others, but I’d recommend going during the daylight hours so you can see the layout of the area, get familiar with the trails, and also, so you can put some markers down (flags) to help you find the mushrooms in the darkness.

What to take with you

It gets pretty cold down in Mount Gambier. The night we went it was about 7 degrees Celsius. For people who live in areas where it snows, this might be a balmy night for you – but if you’re from somewhere it doesn’t, or you’re someone who feels the cold, then trust me, you’ll want warm clothes (including a beanie, scarf, thermals, thick socks, and gloves), an umbrella, a torch and rain boots. May to June is a damp time of year, and the ground can be slippery, so make sure you’ve got sturdy footwear. You’ll definitely need a torch (and don’t just rely on your phone). Although each of the trails were marked, it’s  easy to get lost and disoriented in the dark (especially if you’re not used to walking in the forest).

Know what you’re looking for in advance

The weekend we went, it was a full moon, and the mushroom glow was hard to see. So I’d recommend getting familiar with how the mushrooms look in the daylight first, so it’s easier to find them at night (especially if you go when it’s a full moon and the glow is more subtle).

As you can see (pictures above) the Ghost Mushrooms are white in colour, and personally, I think they look more like a flower than a mushroom (they make me think of a hibiscus:-).  Some of the Ghost Mushrooms had a brown centre (more about that in a moment). Also, they’re quite big. In fact, the largest we saw were about the size of my husband’s hand. Below is a picture of my son’s hand beside one of the big mushrooms.

Many of the mushrooms we saw were developing these dark brown centres (see the picture above). Some of the mushrooms had very little white left, and others were almost completely black. We found the most luminescent mushrooms were the whitest mushrooms with the least amount of brown, while the mushrooms with a large brown centre (or the mushrooms that were mostly brown) didn’t glow well at all and the mushrooms with black, barely glowed (most likely because they were decomposing by this stage).

Other cool things to see

While the ghost mushrooms are fascinating, there are so many other beautiful things to see in the forest if you walk slowly, and look closely. I took so many photos, but these are some of my favourites:

 

If you do a search  for Ghost Mushrooms on google or instagram, you’ll see thousands of beautiful images . The vast majority of images taken by professional photographers will be spectacular (especially of the green glow). In our experience, the mushrooms we saw didn’t glow anywhere near as much or look as green as in those images, however, we went very late in the season, and during a full moon, two factors which probably impacted what we saw.

We didn’t take our DSLR during our trip, and so this photo was taken with my phone and enhanced a little with brightness/ contrast and a tiny bit of torch light in the background (and it doesn’t really do it justice). I’d absolutely love to go again (when it isn’t a full moon!) and I’d like to take the DSLR and a tripod too:-)

As we drove out of Ghost Mushroom Lane each night, mist settled over the road, kangaroos stood by the side of the road and the full moon shone brightly.

All in all, it was a pretty magical weekend. I came away with so many ideas (and of course, the night forest, and glowing mushrooms feature in Wolf Mother ;-).


Wolf Mother
The Moonstruck Mother Series (Book 1).

A mother, a full moon, and menopause. What could go wrong?
A quirky, feel-good, women’s fiction meets urban fantasy tale.

 

It takes a village: The Complementary Kitchen Publisher Logo Design

I’ve chatted about the Wolf Mother cover design and editing and today, in the last post in this little ‘It takes a village’ mini-series, I’d like to thank Kathryn McIntyre of @KatCreativeStudio  for designing the original image for the Complementary Kitchen (publisher) logo that you see on the title page of the book and on the print version, you’ll see it on the spine of all my books to come.

The brief was: quirky, magical, mysterious and I think its fair to say she nailed it.

Due to a variety of factors beyond my control, I didn’t get to do the book launch I had planned for Wolf Mother but one thing I wanted was a creative cover reveal (after all, I’d been calling it ‘the werewolf book’ online for a couple of years, because I figured, the moment I called it ‘wolf mother’ it would be obvious what it was about! So when it finally came time to reveal the cover, I asked Kathryn if she could make some creative over-lays with cover elements, to give a peek of the cover and a quirky hint of what the book was about.

And I absolutely love the result!

If you’d like to find out more about Kathryn’s design services, or to contact Kathryn, you can find her at @KatCreativeStudio on instagram.

It takes a village: Editing the Wolf Mother book

As I said previously, writing (and publishing) a book, is a bit like raising kids; it takes a village.

Last post, I chatted about the cover design, and in this post, I want to thank Lara Colrain from Feather and Ink Editing Services for her work, editing Wolf Mother for the manuscript assessments, line edits, copy edits and to her colleague Nicole who is currently working on the proof read for the print version of the book. Lara has literally spent hours and hours and has taught me so much!

Interesting editing Wolf Mother behind-the-scenes editing fact:

In my first manuscript assessment (January 2019), Lara suggested I make a change to the story relating to Gillian’s husband Jake. Now, as far as authors and creatives go, I don’t think I’m really that much of a ‘diva’. Generally, I can see the merit in the suggestion and implement it. But I did have a mini meltdown over that one particular suggestion Lara made. Ugh! Making that change required a pretty big change to the book (the ending and basic story didn’t change, but weaving the suggested change in, wasn’t as simple as changing a few action tags here and there).

And truth be told, I was worried that by changing that particular part of the story, I was going to turn my little quirky book into one of the ‘same same’ books I was rebelling against. But, I was watching the TV show Younger a few weeks later, when something I’d been looking forward to in the show was dealt with differently than I’d expected, and it hit me: Lara was right (of course she was!). So, we chatted about how I could incorporate her suggestion without losing the essence of the book, and the result is the story that’s published. The solution involved cutting out about 20,000 words, and writing a new 20,000.  And you know what? I love the version with Lara’s suggestion, better.

If you want to find out more about Lara or editing, you can check out her website at Feather and Ink Editing Services.

It takes a village: The Wolf Mother Cover Design

Just like raising children, publishing a book takes a village.
I wrote the Wolf Mother book, but a couple of other incredibly talented women (my pack of Lone Wolves) helped make the finish product look like the idea I had in my mind.
So the next few posts are to say thank you to the women behind the Wolf Mother finished product.
Today I’m thanking Angela Stevens,  of The Cats Pyjamas for designing the (very cool) cover for Wolf Mother.
When I first told Angela my quirky story and cover idea, she laughed, then showed me a design that perfectly captured the vibe.
At first we had a different Gillian, but she wasn’t quite right. So we kept searching, and  then we found this on (who I loved instantly). This Gillian was the perfect blend of sweet, quirky, motherhood frustration and determination.
A couple of interesting behind-the-scenes facts:
I just looked on my phone and the first draft of the book cover with this Gillian on it was May 2018.  So I’ve had to keep this cover to my self for 2 years! Omg do you know how hard that’s been???
Another quirky fact. We’d designed the book cover before I started writing the book. (I started writing Wolf Mother during the July school holidays in 2018). After we settled on the design, I printed out the cover image and kept it beside me while I was writing the first draft.
Even now, after all this time, every time I look at it, it still makes me smile.
To check out Angela’s other cover designs and services, go to  The Cat’s Pyjamas.
To check out Wolf Mother the book, click here.

My cat swallowed a sewing needle (and other odd things that happened while I was writing a book)

Some writers write fast, while others might take longer.

My novel, Wolf Mother (The Moonstruck Mother Series, Book 1) took me 23 months to write. While it’s not the longest time an author has taken to write a book, the stories behind this one, are almost as quirky as the happenings in the book itself.

Here are 5 odd things that happened while I was writing Wolf Mother:

1. While on holiday with my family in the USA in late 2018, we were driving along a free-way when my husband pointed out a truck beside us. He was telling my kids that it was a snow plough. We’d all never seen a real snow plough before (only ever on TV shows or movies), and so it was a bit of a novelty (especially given that it was Fall, and the weather in the USA was still pretty beautiful). Anyway, we’re driving along, and I think to myself, ‘Gee, that looks a bit rattly. It’d be dangerous if it fell off.’ The next minute, the loose bit on the back of the truck does fall off, and it bounces across lanes of traffic, and lands in our windscreen. Luckily my husband managed to get us all to the side of the road safely (no mean feat considering it was twilight and raining, and the windscreen wipers got jammed).

2. A small dose of whiplash, slowed my writing in 2019 when a few days before my 42nd birthday we had a car accident, that rendered my much loved 18.5 year old car (that I had no intention of replacing), a write-off.

3. Bushfires in Cudlee Creek, and all over Australia in the summer of 2019 /2020 made for difficult writing times. Partly because it was generally a horrific event. The loss of homes, lives, and wildlife was just heartbreaking. But it was also worrying because the fires went through my sister’s property. My sister was lucky, in that their home was saved, but they lost sheds, tractors, motorbikes, and a lot of personal items stored in their sheds. During the fire danger days afterward, my little fur niece and nephew (Tux and Roxy) came to stay at our place. But Tux had a bladder infection, and so we needed to keep the cats separated. Tux stayed in my son’s room, Roxy stayed in my daughter’s room, and our cat, Oliver stayed in our room. Meanwhile, the kids thought it was great, because they had a camping sleep-over in our lounge room for the week.

4. Speaking of our cat, Oliver, he swallowed a sewing needle in early 2019. How? you might ask. Well, Oliver likes to eat rubber bands and hair ties (when he can find them). And if you leave a piece of string laying around, he sees that as a challenge too. So, one day, I was sewing the elastics on my daughter’s ballet shoes, and the kids said, ‘Mum, can we do some craft?’ I was having one of those magnanimous mum moments and said, ‘Sure, why not?’ In my mind, were idyllic images of us all sitting cosily around the table sewing (like something out of a Jane Austen novel). In reality, thirty seconds later, my son screams out, ‘Mum! Ollie swallowed my needle!’ I laughed, and said, ‘No way. He’s not that silly.’ (I’d actually had a chat with my husband the day before, expressing concern over the cat eating one of the kids lego toys, and my husband laughed and said, ‘Lisa, cat’s aren’t stupid.’) Anyway, I watched Oliver for a couple of minutes, and decided we needed to take him to the vet to make sure.

Well, an x-ray confirmed that he did swallow the needle, and the money we’d put aside to get Wolf Mother edited and proof read, went toward Oliver’s needle removal surgery instead.

5. There was a global pandemic and I homeschooled my kids for two months. The general shock, and worry during the pandemic would have been enough to upset my writing routine anyway, but we’d began some bathroom renovations (repairing a mouldy, water-damaged ceiling) just before things got serious. And as part of the repair, we made our bedroom off limits so we didn’t need to traipse the waste and dust through the house. Consequently, my husband and I ended up camping in the lounge room for six weeks (where I usually write). Add to that, homeschooling too, and I found I was lucky to get thirty minutes a day to think about my book at all.

Anyway, while I’m sure there are writers who would have still mananged to write a book a month during these wild times, but I haven’t been one of them. I am however, happy to have finally finished, and published Wolf Mother (The Moonstruck Mother Series, Book 1)(check it out here)

The distractions over the last 23 months haven’t all been bad though. As we did manage to do two ‘research’ holidays during this time. One in January 2019 to visit Mount Gambier, Portland and Port Fairy, and to see the Tantanoola Tiger, and another trip to Mount Gambier in June 2019 to see the Ghost mushrooms. (And I’ll write about those trips in another post!).

The tale of two tigers

There have been quite a few weird coincidences while I was writing Wolf Mother (The Moonstruck Mother Series, Book 1). The freakiest of them all was learning (after I’d already plotted out the rough concept of the book which featured some cryptozoology sightings, unexpected animals in unexpected places, and werewolves in the south east of South Australia, was discovering that there actually was a story about those things already here, and it’s the story of the Tantanoola Tiger.

I discovered the existence of the Tantanoola Tiger during a research chat with my son’s teacher, who grew up in Mount Gambier. At the time, my son’s teacher wasn’t too clear on the details, but gave me the name, and my curiosity was piqued enough to research it further.

So, what is the story? Well, when I first went looking, there wasn’t much information out there online. And what I learned, I learned from a research trip to Tantanoola, and a visit to the Tantanoola Tiger Hotel. Julie, the publican, kindly shared the copies of the newspaper articles, she had on display, and some of the others that weren’t, and of course, I got to see the ‘tiger’ for myself. Now if you want to hear a more detailed story, this is an excellent podcast about it.

But, if you want a short version… here’s an excerpt from Wolf Mother:

‘According to the story in the papers, back in the late 1800s, a Bengal tiger went missing from a circus that was visiting Adelaide. There were several sightings of a large striped beast, and farmers complained about missing livestock. But when someone shot the “beast”, it turned out to be a wolf. It’s now stuffed and on display at the Tantanoola Pub,’ Estelle explained.

So how did they confuse a tiger with a wolf? Especially one that’s not orange, or striped? Well, the answer might lie with the existence of Tasmanian tigers, or thylacines. Thylacines were carnivorous marsupials with a ‘dog-shaped’ head, a long smooth tail, and stripes across their backs.

Sounds good so far, but there’s a slight problem. Thylacines are extinct. Although the last living thylacine (in captivity, in a zoo in Tasmania) died in 1936, thylacines on the mainland of Australia, were believed to have become extinct 2000 years ago.

So if you’re wondering how a wolf could be mistaken for a tiger (especially after seeing the  Tantanoola Tiger yourself) you’re not alone.

Okay, so lets ask another question. How did tigers and a wolf get to South Australia anyway? Because neither animal is native to Australia. Well, the  current theory is that the tiger might have escaped from a circus (as explained above) and the wolf might have been one of the animals brought to Australia during the goldrush. Although some US servicemen during World War II brought exotic animals to Australia, the story of the Tantanoola Tiger occurred before that time.

As an fantasy author, I of course have created another theory 😉

If you want to read a quirky story that blends women’s fiction with urban fantasy check out my book Wolf Mother here.

From the bookshelf: January 2018 books I have read

Because I only pressed “publish” on the 18th Jan for the final book in my non-fiction cookbook series, I started out the year a little slow…. although I still set myself a goodreads reading challenge for 100 books this year (we will see how it goes – but I’m optimistic…. if I could manage 39 books last year, then I’ve got a good feeling about this goal this year:-).

Anyway, let’s get on with it… So in this 100 book reading challenge I’ve set myself some extra mini goals:

  • Update my reading in my favourite genres and the genres I write in
  • Continue to read widely, and to read genres I don’t usually read
  • Read some of the classics I’ve had on my shelf for years (not sure how many of these I’ll get through, e.g. Rebecca)
  • Read more indie authors and support my fellow indies.

Ok, so lets get onto the January reading…

Romance

Lemon Drops and Love by Angela Stevens.

I really enjoyed this book, and am half way through the next book in the series. If you’ve read a lot of series and single title romances in the past from the major romance publishers, you’ll like these books. The characters are believable. This particular story deals with the confronting issue of rape, but it’s ultimately a story of hope with a happy ending. I found the book compelling.

Very very steamy romance (e.g. erotica)

Big Gun by Dani Stowe

So this book fits in the “pushing myself outside of my usual comfort zone of reading” category, and after really enjoying Lover’s Catch by Dani Stowe (see below), I thought I’d give this book a go. The book has explicit sex scenes so if that’s your thing, you’ll love it. If you prefer sweet romances, and books that leave a lot to the imagination, this author isn’t for you. This book is fast-paced and easy to read. The characters were strong, and so were their motivations. I enjoyed the way the author wrote about the themes of family, age-differences and power. I also enjoyed the different insight into the military lifestyle. I prefer books which have love scenes which don’t walk the line with pleasure and pain so closely (I’m not a fan of pain -especially in sex scenes), but putting my personal bias aside, the book is well written, fast paced, emotionally intense and the sub plot with Carrot Top was sweet and made me cry.

Contemporary Fantasy with steamy romance

Lovers Catch by Dani Stowe

I really loved the concept of this book, it’s a reverse take on the little mermaid and it’s really cool (although, if you don’t like steamy sex scenes, then it might not be for you). The characters are interesting, the world building is really well done too. I’ve never read a merman book before and I liked the way the mythology and the physiology was dealt with too. A good read! I’m definitely intrigued about book 2 in the series.