Today I’m sharing the good news of fellow Story Empire Author, Staci Troilo’s latest release—Pour It On and my review!
Bold, complex, vibrant. The wine is, too.
Despite Romy Chandler hosting a romantic meet-and-greet at her restaurant, she’s all business. When her sommelier quits without any notice—to work for the competition, no less—she goes into mega-mogul-mode. The last thing on her mind is finding a man. She’s looking for someone who knows his way around a Bordeaux, not the boudoir.
Rick Santucci grew up in his family’s vineyard. After years of hard work, he’s turned his grandfather’s humble produce farm into a profitable winery. Once he gets their bottles into the right establishments, he’ll be able to acquire more land and move into the next phase of the company’s expansion. His mother thinks the next stage should be a wife and children, but his sights are set on different fertile grounds.
When Rick and Romy meet, they both forget all about their ambitions. The evening becomes less about revenue than romance, and they get distracted by the music and wine. She thinks he’s the man she needs, both in the restaurant and out. He finds her to be the perfect partner on the dance floor and believes she’ll be the perfect business partner, too. But a series of mix-ups could put an end to everything they’ve started—personally and professionally.
“Pour It On” is the second novella in the Keystone Couple series, of which I was already a fan. Romy owns a restaurant, and her sommelier quit right before Valentine’s Day and an event. Luckily, she was able to get three candidates to interview for the job. Romy is simply trying to resolve what seems like an impossible situation, and I sympathized with her. Her quick wit, strength, and determination to make her business a success made her an interesting character to root for. I loved the humor in this story, along with the misunderstandings and miscommunications. Rick works for his family winery and is looking to expand sales and do right by his family. I love when — and how — Romy and Rick meet. “Pour It On” pulled me in from the first line and made me smile. I can highly recommend this quick read and fun love story that captivated me.
Staci Troilo grew up in Western Pennsylvania writing stories and poetry in her free time, so it was no surprise that she studied writing in college. After receiving creative and professional writing degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, she went on to get her Master’s Degree in Professional Writing, and she worked in corporate communications until she had her children. When they had grown, she went on to become a writing professor, and now she is a freelance writer and editor.
Staci is a multi-genre author. Her fiction is character-driven, and despite their protests, she loves to put them in all kinds of compromising or dangerous situations.
I’m thrilled to welcome fellow Story Empire Author, C. S. Boyack here today to celebrate the release of Wreck of Lanternfish. I’ve been looking forward to the final book in this series and here’s my review.
Thanks so much for lending me your space today. Spreading the word about a new book is so important. Today is all about concluding my Lanternfish trilogy with ‘Wreck of the Lanternfish.’
Somehow, I wound up with a theme behind these stories. I tried not to make it obvious, but fatherhood became something I kept going back to. It all started with James being forced into trying to start a war with the neighboring country.
Turns out James’s father was a somewhat shady character who did similar things. The only reference James had were stories his father told him as he grew up. Early on, he was forced to rely upon his father’s advice.
Dan is James’s best friend, and later brother-in-law. His father is still alive, and lends his own teachings here and there. It seems simple enough, but there’s more to it.
The two of them rescued a slave who turns out to be a witch doctor. Mal fills a fatherhood role for James as he turns to piracy to save the woman he loves. In that event, they rescue Mal’s own son as a bonus.
The crew gets saddled with a boy they call Mule. This involves retrieval of a magical item, but the price is taking the boy with them. James becomes his adopted father, and does the best he can for Mule.
Serang has her own daddy issues. She grew up without a father, but there were male tutors at the monastery. If you dive into her supporting story, there is one monk that serves as much as a father as he does her master.
Even such supporting characters as Don Velasco have a history with their fathers that shaped who they are today.
I never set out to do this, but I’m pleased with it. Fantasy/Adventures aren’t known for deeper themes, and I claim dumb luck. Luck doesn’t get enough credit sometimes.
Hoist the colors and wheel out the guns one more time. It’s time to bring this trilogy to a conclusion.
James Cuttler created a peaceful spot for he and his wife to settle down. Far from the war that ravages their homeland, far from the reputation he earned as the notorious pirate Captain Bloodwater, and far from responsibility.
A royal Prelonian houseguest is a constant reminder of what’s at stake half a world away, of the friends he put ashore to fight the war. He lives in a dream world that’s temporary, at best. It’s only a matter of time before his guest is identified and the black assassins come for her.
He mortgages his precious vineyard to pay for repairs to his ship. If nothing else, Lanternfish will be one of the most powerful ships in the war, if he’s not already too late.
James will have to merge the skills of commander and con man into something new to make this work. He’ll need to avoid those on his own side who would hang him for piracy.
Serang is half a world away, leading her army of mercenary swordsmen toward the Fulminites. Mistrusted by both sides of the war, she appears as a third combatant on the battlefield. She may eliminate the mysterious order, only to succumb to the demons of her own tragic past.
Strap on your swords and hoist the colors one more time as the thrilling Lanternfish Trilogy comes to an end.
I’m thrilled to welcome fellow author, Yvette Calliero, here today to celebrate her latest release, HYPE. Here is my review: LINK
GIVEAWAY: 3 e-book copies of HYPE! Leave a comment below for your chance to win!
I wrote my first poem when I was twelve years old. I don’t remember what it was, but I know I felt proud of it because it was my own creation. My English teacher, Mrs. Hoffman, loved to give us time to explore our imagination through writing. Recently, she sent me this gem that she found one day.
One of her assignments was to use affixes and root words to create an imaginary animal. We had to draw the animal and decorate it using art supplies and other materials., and then we had to write a story about it. I don’t remember the story, but I do remember my animal had three legs, a hippo’s body, and a horse’s head (or maybe its tail). I don’t remember the other parts. What I remember from the name was tripodequihippo… I loved that activity!
Writing has always been a form of therapy for me. It has always helped me get my thoughts and emotions out of my head. So, when I began writing Hype, I knew I wanted to incorporate creative writing as one of Cici’s classes as well as an outlet for Gaby, one of her antagonists. The class plays an important role in their relationship.
One of the activities I incorporated into the story is called a RAFT. It stands for Role of the author, Audience, Format, and Topic. For several years as a high school teacher, I challenged my students to write a RAFT about the Holocaust. They had to take on the role of something other than the humans at the camp. The audience was other people. The format was a poem, and the topic was the atrocities that took place at the concentration camps.
My struggling learners wrote the most incredible poems. Some of the roles they chose were discarded glasses, rats who lived in the camps, the clubs used to beat them, the barbed wire, and the stale bread. There was no doubt those students truly grasped the horrors that took place during the Holocaust.
For Hype, I chose a bit of a more festive RAFT, but one’s perspective of a holiday doesn’t always turn out the way others might expect. Here is an excerpt from the story:
School is a blur for the next few weeks as the holiday break gets closer and closer. My creative writing teacher gives us an assignment to pretend to be an inanimate object that symbolizes the holidays and write a piece from its point of view. Mr. Garnett loves inanimate objects coming to life, and we tend to write crazy stories to humor him.
I decide to write from the viewpoint of wrapping paper as it wraps its arms around new treasures. I build the excitement up toward the moment when a bubbly, little kid removes the paper from the gift and squeals with glee. Of course, my wrapping paper is delighted to provide such wonder and anticipation for the toy, but she also wishes she, too, got to stick around and play with the kid. It’s cute. It’s humorous, but it’s nothing out of this world.
When it comes time to share, Mr. Garnett makes the mistake of calling on Grub. The whole class quietly moans. We all know Mr. Garnett doesn’t like anyone to be ridiculed in class and believes in having an environment in which everyone feels comfortable enough to share, but to call on Grub? Really. I mean, it’d make perfect sense to have called on her when we were writing a Halloween piece, but Grub and Christmas don’t mesh.
Mr. Garnett glares at us, and we shut up and prepare ourselves for her piece because one of his other rules is everyone shares. Grub comes up to the front, takes the podium, and begins. I half-expect her to complain and ask for someone else to go before her since it was close to the end of class, but I guess she finds some horrible pleasure in torturing us.
“I wrote about a Christmas candle,” she starts, takes a deep breath (for dramatic emphasis, I’m sure), and continues. “For years, I was the beautiful centerpiece, the home’s elegant, most prized decoration. I was bright and cheery, tall and elegant. Everyone always stopped to admire my beauty, to comment on how special I was. Until one day…”
Again, she pauses and stares at her paper. I roll my eyes, thinking not for the first time, that she really should have joined the Drama Club.
“Go on,” Mr. Garnett encourages her.
She looks up at him and then back at her paper.
“Until one day, someone thought it would be a great idea to light a match and see how well I could withstand the heat. I could smell the rancid sulfur as the matchstick caught fire. It was then I discovered what true fear felt like. The sensation of the intense heat violating my wick was too much to endure. I screamed and crackled at the fire’s invasion.
“I cried tears of wax as the blaze melted my beauty away. I wished there was some way to stop it, to keep it from taking away all that was pure and perfect about me. I wanted someone, anyone, to blow out the flame, to save what was left of my beauty, but no one could hear me. No one was even paying attention to my withering loveliness.
“I cried and cried until there was no wax left to cry with, and when all my beauty was gone, the flame finally burned out and I was discarded. No longer did anyone admire me. No longer did anyone care. I was alone, abandoned, dead.”
The whole class sits silently, stunned. Mr. Garnett starts clapping while we sit there shocked. One kid from behind me says, “There wasn’t anything holiday-ish about it.”
“I disagree,” Mr. Garnett says. “It completely held to the assignment’s directions. It was very compelling.”
Someone else whispers loudly, “Her name should be changed from Grub to Grinch.”
I now sponsor a poetry club called Writer’s Ink. My poets write both written and spoken word poems and enter contests and competitions. I am always amazed at the ideas and images they create with their words. It’s an opportunity for them to speak their truths, to be seen and heard, and to be accepted. I hope readers of this book will enjoy the activities shared, and if you want to try your hand at a RAFT, I’d love for you to share it with me. 😊
Cici’s junior year in high school is going to be the best year ever. Popular co-captain of the varsity cheerleading team, she’s dating the starting quarterback. Even her jealous co-captain’s attempts to steal her boyfriend can’t curb her enthusiasm.
When her mom moves in with her fiancé, a handsome, wealthy man, only one small detail threatens Cici’s perfect life. The school’s social pariah is about to become her stepsister, and Cici wants nothing to do with her.
Everything changes when someone Cici cares about throws her life into a tailspin, and the one person Cici couldn’t stand becomes her only ally.
Warning: This story contains scenes of sexual assault.
Yvette M. Calleiro is a heavily addicted reader of both young adult and adult novels. She spends most of her time pseudo-living in paranormal worlds with her fictional friends (and boyfriends). When she’s living among real people, Yvette M. Calleiro is a middle school Reading and Language Arts teacher. She’s been sharing her love of literature with her students for over twenty years. Besides writing about the various characters that whisper (and sometimes scream) in her head, she enjoys traveling, watching movies, spending quality time with family and friends, and enjoying the beauty of the ocean.
Yvette lives in Miami, Florida, with her incredible son who has embraced her love for paranormal and adventurous stories. She also shares her space with an assortment of crazy saltwater animals in her 300-gallon tank.
Amazing fellow Story Empire Author and wonderful human being, Staci Troilo, just released a new romantic novella, “No Such Luck.” She’s making the rounds on her release tour so don’t miss out on that! I know I’ll be following along 🙂
Today, I decided to give “No Such Luck” its own special review day in honor of its release. You will see this review again in December on my regular book review post too!
Seeds of luck usually wither. The rare one grows and blooms.
Piper Seidel has one thing going for her—a red carnation given to her by Tommy Burnett in the tenth grade. It might have dried over the years, but it’s still her good luck charm. Losing it sets her life in a downward spiral, forcing her to return to her hometown where she comes face to face with her high school crush.
The years have been kind to Tommy, who looks better than ever. Unfortunately, Piper is at her worst, continually embarrassing herself whenever he’s around. The only plus? Her long-time friend, Jack Rhodes, still lives in town. Since she last saw him, his legs have grown longer, his biceps thicker, and his shoulders broader. He was always the brother she never had, but now she can’t help noticing him in an unsisterly way. Jack is every bit as caring as he’s ever been—until her bad luck drives him away, maybe forever.
Piper needs a new good luck charm, and fast, before she loses her final chance at happiness.
When things get bad for Piper, she heads home. It’s here she runs into not only her best friend from high school, Jack but her crush, Tommy. Piper is a character who is likable even in her not-so-stellar moments. She maneuvers through what is real and the musings of a teenage girl. This is a quick read that I devoured in one sitting to see if she got her happily ever after. “No Such Luck” is a sweet novella that emphasizes what and who is important. A fantastic beginning to the new Keystone Couples Series that I can easily recommend.
Hi! I’m excited to share James J. Cudney’s cover reveal and pre-order link for “Sleigh Bell Tower: Murder at the Campus Holiday Gala.” Looks like a great holiday read and I’m looking forward to reading it.
When Bell Towers decides to build their newest boutique hotel in Wharton County, Braxton establishes a hospitality program as part of their university expansion. Despite the Ingram and Lynch family ties to prominent citizens, a dispute over the proposed landsite pits citizens against each other. One takes matters into their own hands and slays the hotel magnate during the campus holiday party. As the list of suspects increases, long-lost family members are anxious to keep their secrets from being revealed, complicating Sheriff Montague’s ability to determine the murderer’s true motive. Even Kellan’s forced to cast doubt on his friends and colleagues when it becomes obvious someone he knows committed the ultimate crime. April and Kellan are also celebrating their first Christmas and Hanukkah together, exchanging gifts based on the classic Twelve Days of Christmas song. While they trim the tree, light the menorah, and experience all the traditional holiday festivities with the kids, Nana D delivers her sarcastic brand of humor and endlessly tortures the town. Among Eleanor’s surprise news, Augie’s new girlfriend, and Myriam’s hilarious demands, Kellan’s dealing with unexpected holiday drama. The poor guy simply wants to spend the merry season with his family before he’s forced to trek to Scotland to fulfill his promise to the late Constance Garibaldi. What kind of quest has the psychic sent him on now?