I have been selected as an Ambassador for ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors)
Some of you may have noticed a new addition to my banners and cover photos. I am so proud and excited to announce that I have been selected as an ambassador for ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors). ALLi is an advocate for the equitable treatment of the independent author. Their campaigns operate and advise globally creative industry professionals, literacy programs and cultural organizations, the strive to influence and inspire government bodies and decision makers in seven core territories: Australia, Canada and the Commonwealth, Europe, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States.
As an ALLi ambassador the goal is to be a good local source of information about ALLi’s work: their campaigns, membership, efforts on behalf of the industry, and to let authors know about their great resources both free and paid. While ALLi wants to THINK and work globally, they wish to ACT locally. Using the knowledge, resources and experience of its members, ALLi can reach independent authors on their own turf and assist in their market.
While there is still much I do not know, I am constantly learning and seeking information. That is where ALLi comes in. I started following Michael LaRonn, JoAnna Penn and Orna Ross via YouTube and podcast before becoming a member of ALLi. If you have heard these names then you know they are large part of the ALLi family and their efforts on behalf of independent authors has made a big difference in our acceptance by readers and retailers, our education as entrepreneurs, and they given us an advocate for the protection of our rights. If you haven’t heard of them, check them out, and others.
If you are an independent author or an organization that represents independent authors, then ALLi might be the options for you. Have you checked into being a member? I am a fairly new member to ALLi but I have been contemplating joining for several years. With my work with the Pamlico Writers’ Group and the Romance Writers of America especially, my local chapter, the Heart of Carolina, I felt that belonging to one more writers’ group might be too much. I am already the chairperson for the Pamlico Writers and VP of communications for HCRW, but I realized there are still things I need to know. As a leader, I need to be on top of what was happening in the industry and while I could read things after the fact, being part of the Alliance of Independent Authors allows me to have an inside view of what is happening. ALLi has a list of approved businesses who other authors have worked with and the have a watch dog desk to keep authors aware of predators.
Education is the key to any successful business. My husband is a mechanic and each year he has to learn about the new cars. It is important to have reliable resources. I hope to use ALLi to better help my local writers’ groups and to use my local writers’ organizations to help ALLi better serve authors in our community, to broaden their understanding of what is happening here, and to help them make the decisions that will affect changes that will allow more authors to support themselves with their craft.
If you are interested in being a member of ALLi, or are thinking about it, here are their four branches of work:
ALLi’s mission is to foster excellence and ethics in self-publishing.
We empower authors through community and collaboration—author forums, contract advice, sample agreements, contacts and networking, literary agency representation, and a member care desk.
We advise, through our Self-Publishing Advice Center—blog, podcasts, emails, magazine, guidebooks.
We monitor the self-publishing sector—watchdog desk and approved partner program.
We campaign and advocate for independent authors throughout the publishing and creative industries globally.
Discounts on self-publishing services
Approved partner directory and database of services e.g. editors
Free guidebooks, member magazine and resources
Sample contracts & agreements and a contract review service
Dedicated literary agent & rights services
Private member forums—ask questions and receive helpful advice
Willow wants to repair the relationships with her husband and sons. When someone from her past threatens her family, she doesn’t have time to waste.
Dr. Willow Rider may not be a good mother or wife, she is an awesome psychiatrist. It is time she takes her own advice. She must face the ghosts of her past to make way for the future. Will she mend or family or move on without them?
Rider Harrell has no intention of coming out just yet. He likes things just the way they are. He’s well thought of in the community, on his job and he loves being a volunteer firefighter. When his cousin dies, he becomes the target of his former aunt’s revenge. It’s not enough that she tells the world he’s gay but she makes everyone believe it was his fault Bobby died. When the town of Leeward and the volunteer fire department is targeted, everyone blames Rider. It soon becomes evident that the whole Harrell family is in jeopardy.
Every time I think I have learned what it means to be an indie author I discover there is something else I didn’t know, didn’t do correctly or forgot. Of course it doesn’t help that I’m often publishing in the middle of the night because I have to go to work at my bill-paying-job the next day, or I have this amount of time to write or learn how to do something, let’s write. Too often I feel there are only a few hours in the day I can devote to being an author and I have to divide them into writing, editing, marketing, publishing, etc.
Being an indie author is much like any other small business owner. As the owner everything falls to you and until you make money you can’t afford to hire others to take up some of the slack. So, you juggle all of the jobs that have to be done and too often you find out the hard way what you don’t know. For me, it’s marketing. I don’t want to go around shouting buy my book, buy my book! But please, buy my book!
But how else do you market if you don’t shout out here’s the book buy it? I don’t know. I just want to write. I take classes both online and in person. I belong to several writers’ groups, and I study what I see others doing. But while money is a problem, it is also the limit of time. How best to spend my time as well as my dollars?
In writing this new book, Willow’s Secrets many of you will be surprised that it is Book One of The Harrell Family Chronicles. This is because of one of those things I didn’t know. When I finished The Leeward Files series with Book Five Red Steel, I thought it could also serve as my Book One for The Harrell Family Chronicles, B-U-T it doesn’t show up that way and if I want new readers who may start at the new series, I need a new number one that would begin the series in such a way as to let readers know enough of what happened before but not bog them down. If they are interested enough they might want to go back and read the first series but if not, they could just wander through the new one. UGH! The things I do to myself.
If you have followed me for any length of time, you know I’m basically a pantser. I write by the seat of my pants, heck, I live by the seat of my pants. With six sons and my husband, no matter how many plans I make, I often have to adjust them. It was difficult at first and then it just became my normal.
About The Harrell Family Chronicles new book, Willow’s Retreat, I didn’t want to interfere with the stories that were already published but felt I needed an origin story. I looked to the older adults to give me what I needed to write book one. Willow’s retreat combines the loves and marriages of the three Harrell brothers who inherited the farm from their father: John, Charlie and Robert, told from the points of view of John, his wife Willow and their son, Rider.
The farmer and the psychiatrist. Willow and John should have never met, much less fallen in love, but they did. Thirty years later their relationship is in limbo. When her nephew dies in a tragic fire, Dr. Willow Rider knows she has to repair her relationship with her husband and sons before it’s too late. She is a terrible mother and an awful wife but she’s an awesome therapist. Can she take her own advice and save her family?
Saint John, the oldest of the Harrell brothers has sacrificed everything to ensure his family’s happiness. Isn’t it time he grabs his own happiness? He is willing to do anything for a second chance with Willow, even take her crazy bet. But as he makes the same stupid mistakes, he pushes her farther away.
When a motorcycle club believes the only thing keeping them from gaining control of the local sex trafficking cartel is the Harrell family, they are their town come under attack.
Willow and John’s second chance at happiness may go up in flames as they find themselves at war with the Steel Marauders.
Cover Reveal Sunday, August 1st, 2021
Book Launch Tuesday, August 24th, 2021
Book Blog Tour Tuesday, August 24th – Thursday, August 26th, 2021
If you would like to be a part of the Blog Tour you can sign up here. (Just click on the link)
Needing romantic comedy more and more in my life right now with everything going on in the world, I turned to Avery Flynn’s Awk-weird. This delightful story of misfits who find their place and create a family is more than a romance, it’s about friendship and teammates, and yes, it’s about finding that one person who completes you. When Tess Gardner ends up a wallflower at her best friend’s wedding rehearsal, she inadvertently draws the attention of one the groom’s Ice Knight teammates. She’s not his usual type, cute, not sexy gorgeous but when they team up against some of the other players in a trivia game, they wipe the floor with the guys until Tess gets concerned about taking the rookies’ money.
After a night of riotous sex, Tess is nearly late for the wedding. She gives Cole an out by telling him they’d been wedding-ed and what happened wasn’t their fault. But when they realize the expiration date on the condoms they’d used turned their one-night stand into something more, they’re forced to take a second look at each other. Could they find their forever person with one another? Busted pipes and a leaking ceiling has Tess in Cole’s guestroom messing up his well-ordered life. Cole likes things to always be one way but with Tess around things never go the way he expects and maybe, just maybe, that’s a good thing.
I loved this story, laughing and crying and swooning right alongside the pair as they navigate romance in reverse.
I’d like to welcome the awesome M. Lorrox to my Creekside Café. M. Lorrox and I are both members of the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers and I’m thrilled to have him at my virtual café.
M. Lorrox: Hi Sherri, I’m happy to be joining you, thanks so much for inviting me!
Sherri: If I ever win the lottery, I’ll build a café near the water where I can hang out with friends and talk about books when I’m not writing or reading. We’ve both been busy lately but if you’re like me you are seldom without a book. What are you reading right now?
M. Lorrox: Oooh, I’d take a lottery prize and start a cafe too, but it would be a half cafe, half rare-books library. I might call it Dusty’s Tomes or something, just for fun. I actually just started reading Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. It’s wild and has elements of horror and romance–the two genres I write.
Sherri: I had to chuckle when I read your bio, raised in a barn in rural upstate New York. My father-in-law was raised on a dairy farm just outside Albany. He told me he got here as quickly as he could. He arrived with the Marines. How did you end up in North Carolina?
M. Lorrox: Hey, small world! Another New York ex-pat. I first ventured to DC, where I was a producer for a while and then a professor. My brothers ended up moving to the Triangle, and I visited a lot. I loved it down here, and after a few years, I was able to make the move.
Sherri: You are preparing to launch your first romance novel, but this isn’t your first writing career. According to your bio you wrote your first book in junior high. Although you didn’t publish that book, you have published other books. What made you decide to switch genres? Are you excited about your new venture?
M. Lorrox: I’m super excited! My first books were action & adventure stories with vampires and zombies…a real mashup. I decided to write romance, because I wanted to see more progressive heroes and heroines in love stories—people like me. I wanted to read about sex-positive people having great relationships, and I didn’t want any of them to be millionaires or shapeshifters, so I decided to write the stories myself.
Sherri: Tell us about your upcoming book. When does it go live?
M. Lorrox:Trashy Romance – Curbside Pickup is the stand-alone first novel in the Trashy Romance series of scorching, blue-collar, sex-positive, LGBTQ+ inclusive love stories. It’s about a high school economics teacher and the garbageman who services her neighborhood… It includes a pansexual character, some very hot scenes, and a teeny bit of domination and submission. But it’s a romance, not erotica. There’s ‘loads of love’ in it, tons of emotion, and because it’s an M. Lorrox novel, there’s also some suspense and action elements!
Sherri: I love your website. You’ve done a fabulous job with it. I’m so excited for you and your new author platform, https://mlorrox.com . As authors, especially indie authors, our social media is a huge part of our identity. Your website shows you humor, intelligence and passion, it is very well done.
M. Lorrox: I really appreciate it! I have an MFA and was an artist before anything else. I’ve always loved web design, and I’m glad that I can use some of my visual arts skills in my writing career.
Sherri: You studied and taught Kung Fu? As a child of the seventies I grew up watching David Carradine and the show Kung Fu. I love the beauty and choreography of martial arts and the religious teachings. As an adult I’ve learned the falseness of television but with a Cambodian daughter-in-law who was raised with Buddhist parents, she has taught me more about the religion. Do you practice Buddhism? Do you still study martial arts?
M. Lorrox: I started learning Kung Fu in college, and it was a great fit. After a few years training, I started to teach for that school. It introduced me to Ch’an Buddhism, which is kinda like a Chinese precursor to Zen Buddhism, and from there, yes, I continued to learn about Buddhism. I don’t practice Kung Fu regularly anymore, but I do practice the forms now and then. More recently, I found myself teaching the kids of my friends some self-defense techniques, and it’s been quite rewarding to see them benefit from the ancient skills. Buddhism is important to me too, and I highly recommend that people unfamiliar with its deeper principles to read about it.
Sherri: You’re a motorcycle guy, crotch rocket or cruiser? We’re a motorcycle family. My husband is a mechanic. He restored an old Honda for me. I prefer a small bike, but he keeps trying to get me on a cruiser. Do you still ride?
M. Lorrox: Actually, I ride a naked adventure bike, which I like to think is the best kind of adventure, AND motorcycle! Ha! I used to ride a Honda Shadow though, a cruiser. It’s wonderful to feel the road beneath you, and although I don’t ride much on trails or gravel, my bike lets me, and it feels extra badass whenever I do! I ride pretty often, mostly on twisties or around town, but I always ride as safely as possible. Car and truck drivers: watch for us motorcyclists and don’t F-around on your phone while driving! Thanks. 🙂
Sherri: Your books are described as pan-sexual and non-monogamous, for an old-fashioned woman like myself, it is difficult to think of them as romance. How is the romance genre changing and how are we as members of RWA trying to be inclusive and accepting of more diverse romances? How do we interpret romance? Is it the traditional “Happy ever after” or “Happy for now” scenario or are we opening doors to something else? How do we reach the old-timers like me and open their eyes to other possibilities of what is romance?
M. Lorrox: Well, what is a romance story? Where people fall in love, right? There’s historical romance, gay romance, regency, inspirational, etc. These are just different settings that the romances take place in, or different themes, or different orientations of the people. Pan-sexuality is an orientation (for those unfamiliar with it, the big difference (to me), is that it rejects the notion of binary gender in bisexuality). Non-monogamy, I’d say, is a relationship style or choice. But they’re humans falling in love, and LOVE IS LOVE!
I think the romance genre is changing with more stories being published that reflect or highlight these alternative lifestyles. How to be more inclusive of these kinds of romances? Read them! Fall in love with the characters, even if they may not be attracted to the same gender of people, or if they choose to practice a style of relationship that’s different to you. Besides connecting with an interesting character with views different from the reader’s, the reader can experience a different kind of emotion as the characters face different kinds of challenges. Just like more traditional romances, the emotional journey of the characters is the most important. I think we should interpret romance genre stories as love stories, and so I don’t see why a story about person X or Y or Z or Q falling in love with _____ can’t be romance genre.
Sherri: As a member of RWA and Heart of Carolina we felt the impact of the recent upheaval and both of us along with many others debated leaving the organization. I know my reading habits are not as inclusive as perhaps they should be. When I read for pleasure, I want to read what I like but in the hope of educating myself and becoming more understanding of other authors and their needs, I’d like to widen my reading pallet. How do we go about finding authors of differing viewpoints, ethnicities and ableness in order to read and show our support?
M. Lorrox: First off, you’re doing it right now by asking questions and opening a door. There are plenty of people that want to walk through, but it’s so much easier if someone on the inside opens that door for them, especially in a historically not-inclusive situation. I’ll thank you again for inviting me on, because you’re doing the work that RWA aims to do!
I’ve got a great suggestion on how to explore these new kinds of stories, and it’s not just ‘read them,’ although that’s certainly key. That book I mentioned, Gideon the Ninth, was a huge success, and I’d be surprised if most readers hadn’t either seen the cover or read a blurb about it. It topped the charts, reaching #1 in various LGBT romance categories on amazon, but it was also a top seller in a number of other categories. By browsing the top seller lists, or Amazon or Goodreads, you’ll be exposed to books that other people are loving. While there’s no subcategory for non-monogamy or pansex yet, LGBT subcategories will suffice to give you lots of options for what kinds of inclusive stories other readers are loving–and that you might too! Bloggers who cover queer media are also a good resource for learning more about the community and its creatives.
The ARC is available until 11/15/2020. Links to it are on the site, and I’d love to have you, and any of your readers, read it!
Sherri: Thank you M. Lorrox for taking the time to talk with me and readers. Time is getting away from us quickly, if you enjoyed our chat follow M. Lorrox on social media you can find his links below and stay tuned for his upcoming book, Trashy Romance-Curbside Pickup by M. Lorrox due out November 15, 2020! Thank you M. Lorrox for stopping by my Creekside Café, I think it’s time for a drink. Name your poison.
M. Lorrox: I’ll have a kombucha cut with seltzer, please!
Lush Money by Angelina Lopez, Narrated by Scarlette Hayes
I didn’t expect to like this book much less love it, but I do. I have never been a fan of billionaire romances but after listening to an interview with Angelina Lopez on Reese Ryan’s YouTube channel “The Story Behind the Story” and attending a presentation at the Romance Writers of America’s virtual conference, Writing Alpha Heroines I had to check it out.
Too often strong women are portrayed as masculine or as evil bitches, but Angelina Lopez created a heroine who is strong, independent and still feminine. Roxanne Medina, a billionaire CEO is not what she seems when Prince Mateo Ferdinand Juan Carlos de Esperanza y Santos is first ordered to her office. The handsome winegrower is stunned by the bargain the woman is offering, a marriage with three-nights a month in her bed, a pregnancy followed by a divorce. After which she will pay off debts and help him save his small kingdom, a Spanish principality on the verge of bankruptcy due to his parents’ outrageous behavior. Although he is attracted to the beautiful, sensuous woman, he is angry that he is being treated as little more than a stud.
Roxanne doesn’t have time for a relationship, but she yearns for a child, one she can give everything she never had as a child. Marrying her prince is part of her fairytale. When Prince Mateo begins making demands of his own the two discover they have more in common than they realized, and their bargain turns into something neither of them expected.
Angelina Lopez did a fabulous job of showing readers a woman who is both strong and fragile, powerful and vulnerable, a woman who has built an enterprise but has no one she trusts that she doesn’t pay. Prince Mateo is her perfect counterpart, he just needs to face losing everything to find out what really matters. This was such a feel-good book with a lot of heat and plenty of twists and turns to keep you holding onto the oh shit strap.
I can only give it 5 stars but I think it deserves at least 7!
The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams, Narrated by Andrew Eiden, Maxwell Caulfield
What do smart guys do when their love lives are on the rocks? They turn to romance novels for advice. When second baseman Gavin Scott of the Nashville Legends discovers his wife has been faking it in the bedroom, he is hurt and angry, his pride destroyed. He behaves badly. When his wife Thea asks for a divorce, he realizes he must do something, anything to get her back.
He is desperate and willing to listen to anyone who has a plan. When his friends show up and take him to a meeting of book club, he is skeptical but with nothing left to lose agrees to read the book to get ideas on how to reach his wife. At first Gavin’s goal is to just stop his wife from divorcing him but it soon becomes more. He realizes he needs to get to know his wife.
This was a fresh idea on relationships and romance. I love how the guys were all willing to help their friend get his wife back, but their plan is forever not just a temporary fix. The friendships of these Alpha males is a wonderful part of the story. They explain the use of the romance novels is to help them better understand their own failings and what their wives and girlfriends need from them. One of my favorite parts of the story is when Gavin starts thinking and arguing as a Regency Count.
Lyssa Kay Adams did an excellent job portraying these characters and using humor to deal with real issues. They were fun but deep. When Thea explains that faking it in the bedroom wasn’t the only place she was faking it, the couple begins to find their way back to each other. Like all happy endings, it didn’t come easy but when they finally reach that moment it’s so satisfying.
It’s day two of RWA’s virtual writer’s conference. I have dreamed of attending a Romance Writer’s of America conference for years but never expected my first one to be online. Thank you, Covid-19. Our world changed this year but as librarian keynote speaker, Virginia Kantra said, the need for stories hasn’t changed. We shouldn’t wait until we’re dead for someone else to tell our story. If you are a writer or a storyteller, tell your story now.
“Use your words. Find your voice. Don’t be afraid to share yourself, to tell your story. Your experience matters.” I felt Virginia was speaking straight to me. For years I’ve ducked my head afraid to speak. I felt no one wanted to hear what I had to say. I wasn’t even sure what it was I wanted to say. Who am I and why does my story matter?
Each time I brave a new crowd whether it is online or in person, I discover many people feel the same way I do. They want to be heard but they are unsure of the message they want to deliver. They want to think about it and speak with care often losing their opportunity to voice their views. As writers we can tell our side through our characters’ perspective. We can show readers our stories without preaching. We don’t have to raise our voices to be heard over the crowd because in the silence of the pages a whisper has much greater impact.
If you are a writer and you don’t have a writers’ group, you need one. Whether it is online or in person, a writer’s group offers support and a sense of community to what is a very lonely profession. I joined the Romance Writer’s of America in 2009 after attending a Romantic Times Convention. I was lucky enough to have been chosen for the first Ann Peach Scholarship for New Writers where I met the late author, Judi McCoy. She encouraged us to believe in ourselves, our craft and to find others who shared our passion. With a love of romance, I joined RWA and later the Heart of Carolina, our local chapter. I also went in search of a writer’s group closer to home and found the Pamlico Writer’s Group.
Well, I should get ready for my next program, I’m hosting a Writer’s Block Meet Up. Do you suffer from writer’s block?
What’s happening with the Romance Writers of America?
I’ve had several people ask me “What’s going on with RWA?”
How do I even begin to explain? While the big pimple on the face of the organization might have imploded with the wrongful suspension and false allegations against Courtney Milan, the blemishes we’ve been covering up go much deeper and have been going on for much longer. Unfortunately, many of us, myself included where blind to these facts, or at least willingly oblivious.
Like the political climate, things have been festering for a while. When the new president of the United States was announced one of my dear friends and mentor from high school, Ms. Glenoria Jennette came to me and told me of a nightmare she’d had. In her dream, she feared the US would revert to slavery. I denied this possibility, but she told me she knew she’d be okay because her friends, like me, would protect her. I thought, Oh Lord, she’s giving me her power. She can’t give me her power, I’m not worthy, I’m not strong enough… Oh crap what if I really do have to protect her? But that wasn’t what she was doing. She wasn’t giving away her rights or her ability to make her own choices, what she wanted was to know was that I had her back. To quote the late Martin Luther King, jr. “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” In the present political climate I have ducked my head and kept my own council because no matter what I believe it’s wrong according to someone but when a friend is depending on you to do what is right, you have to make a stand, even if it’s unpopular.
“In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends,” MLK. As a white, heterosexual, able bodied woman I do not feel capable of making decisions for people of color or any other marginalized individual. Before I can make a decision affecting someone else, I should first have an honest conversation with them to discover what it is they need from me, from the group, etc. Making assumptions about others’ needs, taking away their power is no different than saying they are incapable of making these decisions for themselves, but I know it is past time for the rest of us to stand up and add our voices to this problem. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter,” MLK. I pray it is not too late for RWA or for our country to find a place of understanding and peace.
It is difficult to look at myself as one of the entitled white women, and I don’t say that with any malicious intent or to undermine the racial inequalities that have come to light during this whole debacle. No, I say it to embrace the facts. I did not realize I was entitled, and I think that is where my crime lies. I was oblivious. Like many who belong to RWA or other groups and organizations, we do not necessarily see the problem because it doesn’t affect us. Sometimes we see slights but write them off as this one’s personality, or that one is older, and she doesn’t really mean to be inconsiderate. For some reason people who have reached a certain age think they can say anything they want and get by with it. We also tend to “mind our own business” and not involve ourselves in someone else’s fight.
With so many of our fellow authors leaving RWA in protest of Courtney’s mistreatment, the battle has fallen to us, the “white women” to finally stand up and say, this is our battle too. For if we are truly a “Professional Group” for ALL romance authors then we need to behave as such. Regardless of race, religion or sexual preference, all men and women shall be treated equally and with respect. (I started writing this before reading JR Ward’s and Nora Roberts’ responses to the situation but found both had said much of what I wanted to say and more eloquently. Check out their essays. Also check out Alyssa Cole’s op-ed about Harry and Meghan’s announcement and how it parallels with what is happening in RWA.)
I believe it is the lack of respect that I find the most difficult to understand. My parents taught me to always treat people, no matter their station in life, with dignity and kindness. Good manners cost nothing and when we belong to a large group like the Romance Writers of America it is important to be kind. That doesn’t mean we can’t be ourselves, that we can’t speak out, it means we treat others the way we want to be treated, and we expect our neighbors regardless of race, religion, physical ability or sexual preference to be given the same opportunities, respect and welcome.
For now, I will remain with the RWA in the hope that my voice will make a difference and that one day soon those who felt the need to leave will be welcomed home with the love and honor they deserve. I believe in happy endings.
sherrilhollister.com/Suspense She Writes Bookstore Dismiss