Category Archives: Mermaids & Friends

Mermaids & Friends: Sonya Cooke + Book Giveaway!

“Avoid boxing yourself into choices without allowing yourself a period for discovery.” ~ Sonya Cooke

Carlene and Sonya celebrating the release of Seven Pillars Acting.

Sonya and I haven’t known each other for very long, which says a lot for the amount I’ve already learned from her. We connected this past September when she was in need of a last minute proof read of her book which she was very close to having published. My friend Kathleen, who I had edited for in the past, was a student at Sonya’s Acting Studio of Orange County and when she heard of Sonya’s need, she graciously thought of me. I happened to be free and it was within a few days’ span of working with Sonya that I realized, someone very special had crossed my path.

Author, actor, founder, & teacher Sonya Cooke.

I will do my best to list the plethora of hats Sonya regularly dons. She is the Founder/CEO/Owner and Head Teacher of Seven Pillars Acting: LA Studio and the Actor’s Studio of Orange County. She is also a Film/TV, Commercial and Voice-Over Actor, a producer, and the creator and author of Seven Pillars Acting. What a busy lady! Pursuing, creating and involving herself in so many wonderful endeavors. When the opportunity arrived to get to meet Sonya in person this January, I have to admit, I was a little nervous. Not to belittle myself, but sometimes it can be intimidating to be in the presence of someone who is so accomplished with so much charisma and ambition and drive. Well, it turns out I had nothing to be nervous about. Within seconds of meeting her, I learned Sonya is all those wonderful things, but she is also more… She is warm, and grounded, and kind hearted, and gentle and incredibly nurturing, and supportive of those around her.

The wall of the Seven Pillars at Sonya’s LA Studio.

Her book, Seven Pillars Acting, the one she wrote to encapsulate the comprehensive technique she designed for the modern actor, is BRILLIANT. I remember thinking to myself as I was proofing it that not only was it absolutely going to help actors become better at their craft, but there was a significant amount of material that would be spot on and superbly helpful to writers.

To quote Sonya: “Acting is not an escape; actors put themselves in the line of fire, exposing themselves to tremendously high stakes to tell a story.” Which is exactly what we do as writers, too! When Sonya equates creating a role with building a house, light bulbs instantaneously go off in my head. “You have to build a house before you can live in it, right? It’s much the same for the actor creating a role. In order to bring the character to life, the actor must craft his circumstances, history, and life conditions.” ~Sonya Cooke

Sonya’s book detailing her acting technique, Seven Pillars Acting.

The beautiful thing about this book is that it goes even a step beyond. Not only will an actor or writer benefit from Sonya’s experience, tips and philosophies which she shares in a very organic and natural way–not formulaic or mechanical, but so will non-actors and non-writers as she touches on the heart of communication and the human experience. I’m not sure how she managed it, but she has truly written a book that while intended to help actors, ends up being for every one of us! There are so many more passages of this book I have earmarked to quote (like my favorite section which explores the lifespan of a human emotion…pages 183-187). My hope is that if you are looking for answers or assistance or a fresh perspective on how we as humans operate and affect each other, you will check out Sonya’s book. I honestly feel you will not only benefit from reading it, but you will be touched, inspired and entertained as well, just as I was.

GIVEAWAY: Thank you so much for stopping by the mermaid lagoon today and learning a little more about a wonderful book and its author! In celebration and appreciation, I am giving away a signed copy of Sonya’s Seven Pillars Acting. All you need to do to be entered is leave a comment below. The winner will be randomly selected one week from today on the evening of Friday, March 2nd. Good luck, everyone! (Continental US mailing addresses only please due to shipping fees. Thank you so much for your understanding.)

Have a productive and inspired day!

Fishy kisses,

Mermaid Carlene


Mermaids & Friends: Fiona Roarke

Fiona Roarke and I have the unique distinction of having written stories in the worlds of both Barefoot Bay and Nocturne Falls.

I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have someone else around who is as quirky and adventurous a workaholic as me! She’s the SF to my Fantasy. And she also likes to name books after movie titles!

Fiona joined me in the January NFU launch with Close Encounters of the Alien Kind. This week we’re celebrating her third Alien novella, The Alien Who Fell to Earth. (Look for a boxed set coming soon!)

But what can I say…women who love books tend to be drawn to other women who love writing books. Only Fiona writes SO MUCH MORE THAT I DO. Trust me on that! I admire her so much that I invited her into the lagoon to tell us a little about her first novel…


The first novel or story I ever remember writing was when I was in the sixth grade. I had a crush on a boy named John M., but I was the new girl in school that year and didn’t rate much of his attention. Isn’t that the way so many romances start out? Sigh.

So, at the tender age of eleven, I wrote my very first what if scenario. What if the boy I had a crush on “had to” pay attention to me? What if I controlled the circumstances—like we were lost on an island? What if we were all stranded there together? What if there were four boys and four girls?

That very first story—which I wrote in long hand, with a pencil in a spiral, wide-ruled notebook—stranded me and several of my friends and classmates (without grownups, of course), sort of like a shipwreck. Perhaps I was influenced by Gilligan’s Island. My brother used to make me watch that endlessly when I wanted to watch Star Trek. But I digress.

I matched up the couples naturally. My imaginary “John M.” who found me completely intriguing in this imaginary island realm, chose me to be his girlfriend. We spent the days working together to find water and food and a place to live until “help” came for us, all the while stealing kisses and smiling at each other.  We did that quite a lot. (Some things never change. My editor can attest to the vast number of smiles and grins my characters exchange in the books I write these days.)

Though that particular story has never been published, fame came early in my writing career. I won second place in a short story contest at a local library while in my twenties and pregnant with my second child. That was a science fiction piece about a global virus pandemic involving a secret formula that forced everyone to tell the truth. What I mostly I remember about it was that the hero’s name was Jake. (Yes, my love that’s why your middle name is Jake, now you know the truth.) That and that the manuscript was supposed to be ten pages typed. Which it was … mostly. It was also single-spaced and had quarter-inch margins on four sides. Hey, I still won second place.

After hearing the phrase “write what you know,” my first full length novel was a boring basic business and work-related drivel that I’m pretty sure I set fire to as a gift to humanity. You’re welcome!

For my second attempt, I managed to get two hundred pages written before I landed in a gigantic plot paradox. One I couldn’t solve without bending physics or ignoring it altogether. And yet, I still refuse to plot to this day. Go figure.

Maybe it’s because I get totally psyched when I’m writing along and a really great surprise unfolds before me. I grin and then I smile, and write faster with gleeful intent in my heart. The utter joy comes through my fingers to the keyboard. Oh and I love, love, love a great twist that even I don’t see coming until it shows up  on the screen. Love it!

Would I have ever shown my first book to anyone? Perhaps if it wasn’t currently a pile of ash blowing in the wind. My second place, global pandemic truth virus short story is somewhere around here. I should look for that.

And in conclusion, I believe those early attempts added to the basic desire I had to keep trying to tell stories because that’s what I love to do, and I imagine I always will.




Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iBooks

Pilot. Guard. Prisoner. … Stowaway.

Crashed in the Georgia woods, all are lost on a world where aliens are the stuff of science fiction. But what if the locals are far from human themselves, with secrets of their own?

Holden Grigori is lost on an alien world, and his memories are just as lost. All he knows is a beautiful woman says she’s his wife, she loves him and he’d do anything for her.

Security specialist Victoria Greene’s mission is to find the heroic pilot of a downed spaceship and keep him safe while he recovers in a human hospital in the Halloween-themed town of Nocturne Falls, Georgia. Part of her ongoing mission is, as always, to keep the humans from realizing that aliens walk among them, hiding in plain sight.

Pretending to be Holden’s wife is far from a hardship. Falling in love with him is even easier. But what will happen when he gets his memories back and realizes that to him she is … no one.

Fiona Roarke is a multi-published author who lives a quiet life with the exception of the characters and stories roaming around in her head. She writes about sexy alpha heroes and used them to launch her very first series, Bad Boys in Big Trouble.

Next up, a new Sci-Fi contemporary romance series set in Arkansas. When she’s not curled on the sofa reading a great book or at the movie theater watching the latest action film, Fiona spends her time writing about the next bad boy (or bad boy alien) who needs his story told.

A hearty dose of laughter, each and every day, is required along with lots of coffee first thing in the morning as important parts of her routine.

Follow her on Amazon —



Mermaids & Friends: Mary B. Rodgers

Mary B. Rodgers and I have been friends for a very, very long time–all the way back to the Codex Writers Group. She’s been my roommate and my date to awards ceremonies…she’s even my legit fairy godmother. Yes, on the eve of my book launch in 2012, I found myself in NYC with nothing but literal rags to wear. “Give me that,” said Mary, and she took the rags. When she reappeared, she had a beautiful renaissance top and full golden skirt for me. I AM NOT EVEN MAKING THIS UP. How could I? You already know my life is a fairy tale.

Mary and I got to spend some  long-overdue time together at DragonCon–I even dragged her to be in the parade with me. The parade is not for the faint of heart and has beaten many a friend before her….but my dearest Mary had the time of her life.

And so it is with great pride that I present to the lagoon Mary’s latest novel, Winner Take All! To celebrate, Mary has decided to jump in with her own tale (ha!) of that first novel…


Imagine a sprawling, adjective-pockmarked portal fantasy featuring a grumpy heroine and some poorly disguised mythological denizens of Irish origin, and you’ve got Vanishing Point, my first clumsy, albeit heart-felt attempt at writing a fantasy novel.

Good Lord, was it awful.

And I loved it. Every cliché-ridden, melodramatic word.  Every impossible situation from which I extricated my protagonist by using the Giant Hand Of The Author ™ instead of logical narrative sequence. Every creature I created that miraculously communicated in perfect English, toothy jaws and skull-crushing mandibles notwithstanding.

I still love it.

And it will never see the light of day. ::triple-locks forlorn manuscript into a pirate’s chest and sends it all down to Davy Jones’s locker::

What do we call these things when, kicking and screaming all the way, we allow ourselves to grow up? Ah, yes. “Learning” experiences.

I may have learned, but thankfully I haven’t grown up that much.

I still love to lose myself in magical fantastical landscapes, still root for the brave and much-put-upon protagonist who fights and loses but keeps on fighting, still passionately believe in the power of love and the truth of hard-won happy endings.

And if someday I decide to break open that pirate’s chest and revisit the little world I invented, and send my hapless heroine down a raging torrent into a dangerous and unfamiliar wilderness …maybe with all that time spent at the bottom of the ocean, my story will have “suffered a sea change, into something rich and strange.” Maybe I’ll be able to hear the heartbeat of the land and understand what it’s trying to say to me.  Maybe I’ll know how to listen better to the secrets  my characters whisper in my ear.

I’m open to most possibilities.

The grumpy heroine is non-negotiable.


Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iBooks

Hot shot skier and unrepentant party girl Carly Carrington is on top of the world until a disastrous crash destroys her championship dreams. Can she lower her guard long enough to trust the one man who might be able to heal her body…and her heart?

When it comes to sports doctors, buttoned-up Paul Blackburn is the best of the best. But when Carly upends his carefully ordered little world, will Paul fight his one chance at true love, or go for the gold in…WINNER TAKE ALL!

I am so excited about this book; I bought the Kindle version immediately! But if you prefer paperbacks, don’t despair–Winner Take All will be available in print very soon!

A career performer and storyteller, Mary was the keyboardist and lead vocalist in an all-female rock band for a number of years, and has acted in leading roles in plays and musicals across the globe.

Her first screenplay, Common Ground, was a finalist in the Moondance International Film Festival competition, and she is a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild/AFTRA and the New York chapter of Women in Film and Television.

An avid gamer and unrepentant nerd, Mary’s been a fan of romance, science fiction and fantasy novels since she was old enough to hide them between the pages of her textbooks during geometry class in high school. She hopes you enjoy her stories!

Follow her on Amazon —



Mermaids & Friends: David B. Coe/DB Jackson

Alethea MermaidDavid B. Coe (a.k.a. D.B. Jackson) has been my dear friend for over a decade (David contributed a guest post on my blog recently in which he discussed the circumstances of our meeting in 2002, and our friendship since then).

David is not only an exceptionally talented writer (his Thieftaker books are my favorite) but he’s also exceptionally prolific. I’m not kidding–the guy has TEN books out this summer.

Okay…so maybe I’m exaggerating. But not by much. Check out: Water Witch, Dead Man’s ReachHis Father’s Eyes…and I’m sure I’m missing something. On top of the hundreds of guest posts he wrote for this month’s blog tour to celebrate all these releases. LIKE THIS ONE! Which I demanded. Because what else are friends for? <grin>


His first name ain't baby. It's David... Mr. Jackson if you're nasty.Birds, Teen Angst, and High Fantasy:
Three Books That Changed My Life
by David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson

Choosing three books that changed my life, even if it’s just for the purposes of a blog tour, is a little like choosing “Three Meals That Helped me Grow Big and Strong.” Sort of. Actually, no one would ever accuse of me of being either big or strong. But you get the idea. The first thought that pops to mind is “Only three?” And the second is, “Okay, how many people am I going to tick off by leaving their books off the list?”

A lot of fantasy/SF writers would choose the classics, and I suppose I could make a case for putting Lord of the Rings, or other landmark works in the field on my list. The truth is, though, my journey into a writing career began long before I discovered speculative fiction.

The first book that changed my life might also have been the first “serious” book I read without any help at all from my parents. Back when I was a little kid, and dinosaurs roamed the earth, Grosset and Dunlap published a series of nature books for children. Mammals Do the Strangest Things, Fish Do the Strangest Things, and the one that caught my fancy, Birds Do the Strangest Things. I loved all the …Do the Strangest Things books, but at the time, I was discovering what would become a lifelong passion for birds and birdwatching, and I found this book utterly fascinating. It described, among other things, the elaborate bachelor pads constructed by bowerbirds, that creepy 360-degree-turn-thing owls do with their heads, and the fact that some shrikes impale their prey on thorns and barbed wire to store for future meals, like little birdy survivalists.

Joking aside, Birds Do the Strangest Things confirmed for me that my love of birds wasn’t weird, or a valid justification for teasing from my contemporaries. Birds, the book assured me, were just as amazing as I believed. More, so were books themselves. This one fed my passion; it captivated and inspired me. Most important, it befriended me. I returned to it again and again, and each time it welcomed me, admitting me to a world that didn’t judge or ridicule. My lifelong love affair with the written word began with this book.

Our literary needs change as we get older, and I went through some fairly typical reading phases over the next ten to fifteen years: Hardy Boys mysteries and books about baseball, more sophisticated nature books and a host of novels, among them The Hobbit. When I was sixteen, having read Catcher in the Rye, John Knowles’ A Separate Peace, and a couple of other “coming of age” novels, as YA was known back then, I stumbled across Good Times, Bad Times, by James Kirkwood. (Kirkwood also wrote the script for A Chorus Line, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.) Good Times, Bad Times, appeared a decade after A Separate Peace, and in some ways the books were similar. Kirkwood’s novel told the story of Peter Kilburn, a typical alienated teen who goes off to prep school. There he’s befriended by Jordan Legier, a brilliant, charismatic kid with health problems. Their friendship deepens, but, predictably, is cut short by tragedy.

I’m the youngest by far of four children, and though Salinger and Knowles spoke to my siblings, I was a different kid, living in a different time. Kirkwood’s book touched my emotions in ways the older titles couldn’t and no other book had. It dealt with all the things I was thinking about at the time: friendship, sex, death, the struggle to fit in and still maintain some semblance of individuality. I understood its characters, and I imagined that if they were real, they would have understood me. Upon finishing it, I immediately started over from the beginning. I did that four times, and even after that binge returned repeatedly to certain passages. Good Times, Bad Times got me through my sophomore and junior years in high school.

Which brings us to number three. Given that I’m a fantasy author, I suppose it’s not surprising that one of my choices is in the genre. I’m cheating in a way, because my third life-changing book is actually a trilogy: Stephen R. Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever (Lord Foul’s Bane, The Illearth War, and The Power That Preserves). By the time I read the series, I had already fallen in love with fantasy. I knew that I wanted to read as much of it as I could.

Donaldson made me want to write.

Reading those books came as a revelation. His world was fascinating and strange; his “hero” was dark, at times evil, always difficult to like. I never wanted to create a protagonist like Covenant; I found him too distasteful. But having read fantasies that all struck me as somewhat similar, I felt as though Donaldson had drawn back a curtain, revealing a thousand new possibilities. If he could turn Covenant, this leprous misanthrope, into a hero, and create a world that embodied health and healing, a fantasy writer could do anything.

From the moment I finished reading the first Covenant trilogy, I knew I would be a fantasy author. I intended to explore every nook and cranny of my imagination, and though I still have a long way to go before I satisfy that ambition, I’ve at least made a dent in it. This summer I have two new novels out. The first, Dead Man’s Reach, the fourth volume of the Thieftaker Chronicles, which I write for Tor Books under the name D.B. Jackson, came out on July 21. The second, His Father’s Eyes, the second installment in the Case Files of Justis Fearsson, which write as David B. Coe, comes out from Baen Books on August 4. These will be my seventeenth and eighteenth published novels.

Dead Man's ReachAt first glance, my newest books may seem to have little in common with Birds Do the Strangest Things and Good Times, Bad Times. But the passion for reading sparked by the first title, and nourished by my teenage obsession with the second, made possible the spark of inspiration the came with the third. Taken together, they put me on the path to where I am now, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson is the award-winning author of eighteen fantasy novels. Under the name D.B. Jackson, he writes the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and, the newest volume, Dead Man’s Reach, was released on July 21. Under his own name, he writes The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy from Baen Books. The first volume, Spell Blind, debuted in January 2015. The newest book in the series, His Father’s Eyes, comes out on August 4. He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a His Father's Eyesmean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

Mermaid & Friends: E.E. Cooper

I am absolutely thrilled to welcome E.E. Cooper to the pond today. Her YA, VANISHED, released earlier this week, and it sounds 100% up my alley. In fact, I’ve decided to reward myself with this book as soon as I finish my revisions. Read on to find out more about this intriguing book!

1) Where did the idea for this story come from?

I’ve always been fascinated with friendships and how some are the best relationships in your life and others can be toxic. I wanted to write about a group of friends who are keeping secrets from each other and themselves. Once I knew the main secret the story Vanished coverstarted to spiral out from there. It was much more complicated than stories I’d written in the past so I was both excited to write it and also intimidated.

2) VANISHED is a very twisty mystery. Can you talk about the plotting of it a bit?

There were a few moments where I was pretty sure this story was going to drive me insane. Those who know me may argue that it didn’t have far to drive. I knew aspects of the story when I started and I spent a fair bit of time outlining it. I thought I had it all figured out. (feel free to laugh here) Then I started writing. This book went through several revisions and I was lucky enough to work with a great editor who kept pushing me to make it more complex and not go for an easy answer. My office started to look like a scene from A Beautiful Mind. There were index cards taped to the wall, various things highlighted, Post-it notes sprinkled around and I would pace back and forth waiting for “a-ha” moments.


3) Do you have a favorite character?

How does anyone pick a favorite? I love them all, but I will admit a soft spot for the main character Kalah. She’s fallen into a very difficult situation and has to push herself well beyond her comfort level to get out. Kalah is a complicated character. She has a mixed heritage, half Indian and half French. She is part of a clique- but with two very different best friends that she’s always trying to glue together. She has a boyfriend who she really cares for- but can’t hide from the fact that she has romantic feelings for a girl. She has a history of anxiety and is always struggling to figure out if she’s right to be upset- or if her anxiety is making the situation only seem out of control. I admired her all the more for all her flaws and complexities.

4) You’ve had some great reviews for this story. Care to share a favourite?

Thank you so much! Reviews are nerve wracking. I tell myself that I don’t care- but that’s a fat lie. The one that made me run around the house in circles (with my dog running after me wondering what the heck was going on) was the one by School Library Journal. They said: This novel tackles themes of friendship, deception, obsession, and love….With early hints of John Green’s Paper Towns that slowly morph into Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl​.” Any comparison to John Green and Gillian Flynn was enough to make me lose my mind.

5) So, what are YOU reading right now? Do you have a favourite genre to read?

I suspect it’s not a shock to discover that I am a huge reader. I love a bit of everything: Non-Fiction, YA, Contemporaries, Mysteries, you name I’ll try it – but psychological thrillers are a favorite. I find people fascinating and how they respond when situations turn dark is always something that will keep me reading just one more chapter. I recently finished Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn which has a great twist. In a totally different vein I plan to crack open Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu which just came out. I love her books- so am excited for this one.

6) What is up next for you?

I am working on the second book in the VANISHED series. I’ve got a draft done and am in the stage where I try and make things make sense on the page and not just in my head. It’s also a beautiful summer in Vancouver so there is a lot of walking the dog on the beach planned. The fresh air helps me get story ideas and my dog enjoys the chance to roll around in dead things he finds.

Thanks for having me!

* * * *
Thanks so much for joining us, E.E.! And wow! John Green and Gillian Flynn! I’d better finish these revisions quickly, ’cause I kinda want to read this book right now!

* * * *

E. E. Cooper lives in Vancouver Canada with her husband and one very spoiled dog. You can reach her on Twitter (@eecooperbooks) where she spends entirely too much time. You can also visit her website at

Mermaids & Friends: Delilah S. Dawson

I met Delilah S. Dawson at Dragon Con. We were on a panel together — I forget how many years ago. She was the other author on the panel (besides me) wearing a fabulous costume. We did not sit next to each other. I slipped up and accidentally called her “Delia” and felt like an idiot. I don’t think I saw her again that year. But I remember thinking, That woman is really cool and I wish I knew her better.

Getting to know Delilah S. Dawson has been one of the better decisions of my life.

My love for Delilah started with her tweets of verbatim dialogue with her kids. (Delilah’s son once decided to be an evil supervillain whose goal was to shut off the sun. She asked him politely not to, because she needed it. His response: YOU HAVE A LAMP.) Then there was her blog, with its incredibly helpful entries on being an author and reader that continually make me think “Why didn’t I post that?” And then there was her fantastic entry for Dear Teen Me that broke my heart into tiny pieces and made me love her all over again.

Delilah has a new book out this month — HIT — about a futureworld teen who is forced to become an assassin in order to save her mother’s life. (It also has a seriously kickbutt cover.) I thought this was as good an excuse as any to invite Delilah into the Mermaid pond for a swim and a chat about three of the books changed her life…


Three Books That Changed My Life, by Delilah S. Dawson

I’m a Romance writer, but I grew up with no respect for Romance. In my house library, horror and science fiction ruled. We thought of anything with smooching as “bodice rippers” and assumed they were all poorly written drivel without a plot. Oh, what fools we were, and oh, how our shelves have changed. Now my mom wears a “Keep Calm and Dinna Fash, Sassenach” shirt, and I have penned three Romance books with naked man chest on the covers.

So what happened?

These three books happened.

The Valley of Horses by Jean Auel
When I was 13, my mom suggested I read Clan of the Cave Bear. It was a gripping tale merging real history with the fictional account of a homo sapiens raised by neanderthals. When I found its sequel, The Valley of Horses, in the used book store, I had to buy it to see what else Ayla did. As it turns out, she tamed a horse, adopted a wolf, invented a spear thrower… and had lots and lots of athletic sex. And I couldn’t put it down, even as I knew that what I was reading was forbidden and strange. That paperback—which I still have— was my first introduction to the concept of women as sexual beings capable of receiving as much pleasure as men. No bodices were ripped, and Ayla continued to be a great fighter, a fierce friend, an intelligent inventor, a talented cook, and basically the progenitor of our species, all while having a billion orgasms.

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Just as The Valley of Horses was my introduction to women as sexual creatures, The Mists of Avalon was my first taste of women as figures of power. Although I recently discovered that the author was a horrible person who did horrible things (, that doesn’t change the fact that when I felt the most powerless and awkward on the brink of puberty, this book made me feel like I could claim strength and be more than just a spectator in my life. King Arthur was actually a pawn of strong women? SOLD. It was so gratifying and reaffirming to see women recast as the heroes of history and legend.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
I didn’t recognize, when I was younger, that The Valley of Horses and The Mists of Avalon were actual Romances. I considered them Science Fiction or Historical Fiction. That’s right—young me had a genre chip on her shoulder, the little goof. And then a friend recommended Outlander. I took one look at the back cover and put it right back on the shelf. A bodice ripper! 900 pages of ripping bodices! And then I moved 300 miles away and had pneumonia for three months with no money to see a doctor and no TV. The used bookstore was the only thing that helped keep me sane, and when I stumbled upon a ripped-up copy of Outlander, I figured it was a good bargain for that many pages. And then, fourteen hours later, I looked up and counted down the hours until the used bookstore would open in the morning. Because I needed the sequel like I needed air. I’d never cared about characters so much, never hung on every word, whether it was dialog or instructions for making porridge.

History, violence, sex, intrigue, jokes, horses, castles, kilts—Outlander had it all. And I was finally forced to admit that Romance could be so much more. That it wasn’t silly or poorly written, that it could have plots that made you sweat and characters that clung to your heart and never let go. That’s what I want out of every book, not just Romances: I want it to stick with me. And that’s the kind of book I try to write, every time.

Delilah S. DawsonDelilah S. Dawson is the author of HIT, Servants of the Storm, the Blud series (with naked man chest!), and the upcoming Wake of Vultures. She also writes Geekrotica as Ava Lovelace.

Find her online at

[And if you’re up for a ton of fun, be sure to follow Delilah’s exploits  on Twitter! –AK]

Michelle Monkou Swims with the Mermaids: Aligning Passion, Career, and Job

We are absolutely thrilled to welcome the uber-talented Michelle Monkou to the lagoon today! I have had the pleasure of knowing Michelle for the last year and a half, and I can honestly say she is one of the most hard working, dedicated, and inspirational people I’ve ever met. Her latest book, ONE TO LOVE, is being released on April 1 from Harlequin Kimani and she has graciously agreed to talk to us about aligning her passion, career, and job. Take it away, Michelle!


I’m entering my 13th year in the business…wow, I can’t believe it. From the first day of publication, I had no idea what the future would hold. I was so focused on the fact that I had signed a contract and a publisher would take my contemporary romance, Open One To Love CoverYour Heart, out to the world.

That was the big dream.

So what came after the dream had been fulfilled?

• 20 titles with an additional 3 titles in the hopper with publishers.

• One publisher expanded to three publishers and my own indie platform.

• Contemporary romance now sharing space on the shelf with urban fantasy, and erotic romance.

Now what?

I hadn’t planned for Acts or Parts or Phases to my dream. Yet, a shift in priorities and vision made me take stock of where I was and where I wanted to go. The only direction to go is forward, upward, where the sky is only an artificial limit.

Passion for writing is there. Writing groups, networking events, goals keep the momentum going and the energy flowing.

This is my career. Thirteen years is not amateur night or a side gig. I’m creating a legacy. I’m building a fan base. I’m channeling that passion for the long haul.

At the end of the day, this is my job. I earn a living, want to continue earning a living and unapologetically expect to earn a living.

With these elements aligned, I’m free as I want to be, in order to create, to imagine, to continue fulfilling my dream—to be one helluva kick ass writer.

I hope your passion, career, and job are in alignment with your dream.


Photo 2 (1)Michelle Monkou is a multi-published author with over 20 books in print and digital. She began her writing career in 2002 with Black Entertainment Television (BET) Books, Arabesque imprint. She writes contemporary romances, paranormal/urban fantasy and publishes her backlist and original stories on her independent digital platform, Stella Maris Publishing. Her stories speak to the heart and offer that happy ever after ending for the romance fiction reader.

Michelle is also an active participant with romance writers’ advocacy efforts. She served on the boards and as presidents of Washington Romance Writers, and the 10,000 membership Romance Writers of America. She’s a weekly contributor on USA TODAY’s Happy Ever Blog providing commentary on romance fiction.

She resides in Maryland writing many more stories to fill the hands and e-readers of romantic bookaholics. Michelle‘s One to Love is available for purchase this week. Preorder your copy now and catch Michelle‘s fabulous other titles.

Mermaids & Friends: Jennifer Fusco Swims with the Mermaids!

Mermaid-Carlene-300x225Dearest Fishy Friends!

Today is a very special day in the pond because we have the lovely and talented author, Miss Jennifer Fusco, as our guest! She’s sharing a very poignant story about the importance of embracing all of your life’s experiences, whether you think they are relevant or not. Take it away, Jennifer…

A second career…

After college I joined one of Corporate America’s largest companies. I had a degree in English. I wasn’t an Engineer or a math nerd, so the places I could fit in the ginormous conglomerate were few. Luckily, I found myself stuck in the Marketing department.

I’d never taken a marketing class. Had no knowledge of what it was, exactly. You tell people why they should buy stuff, okay. I get it. And, a career was born. My day job educated me in all things marketing. They sent me to workshops, classes, industry meetings. It turned out that telling people why they should buy stuff was harder than it sounded. It wasn’t sales exactly, nor was it psychology either. It was both.

Market or Die - 600x900x300

I spent fifteen years in marketing. Learning, practicing, putting those learned techniques out into the market place and evaluating their results. I did well. I won the ANA’s Advertising award three years running. I knew stuff. Yay, for me. But, it was a far cry from the teacher I thought I’d be as a child or the writer I dreamed I’d be as an adult.

Was I happy? No.

Marketing is a discipline. Anyone can learn it. Anyone can convince people to buy stuff. There is a market for everything.  The challenge was over.

Then I discovered a writing group, CTRWA to be exact. In essence, we made a deal. You teach us how to market, we’ll teach you how to write romance. DONE!  A second career was born!!

I began teaching my fellow chaptermates about brand, and marketability. They joined with me and I took my workshop to RWA National. And, I was set. From there, I jenphoto2conducted more workshops, more classes, gave more speeches. Turned out, my chaptermates were right. Authors did need to learn marketing, and they needed to learn it the right way.

I opened at publicity services company Market or Die Author Services, LLC in 2012. Now, my partner and I maintain over 40 active clients. Shortly after I signed with an agent, I drafted a proposal for a marketing book for writers. We sold it to Belle. It releases today.

The point of this post is that in life there are things we’re going to learn, to embrace, whether we want to or not. I never intended on being a marketer. It happened, but it prepared me with the skills I need to teach you how to do your very best marketing work, and sell more books.

I encourage you to take a read through Market or Die. In the book you’ll find marketing lessons not only from me, but from some of the most successful names in romance, like Eloisa James, Loretta Chase and Kristan Higgins.

Please don’t think marketing is this force with which you must endure. I did for fifteen years, and it only makes it harder to understand. Learn, embrace and ask questions. Feel free to email me at [email protected] with your questions.

And who knows? You may like it so much you might want to start marketing as a second career for yourself.  🙂


Mermaids & Friends: Lynne Silver

Today is another installment of Mermaids & Friends. I’m very happy to welcome a very talented writer and one of my fabulous critique partners, the awesomesauce Lynne Silver. *Glitter toss* Oops, Lynne hates glitter. 😉

Lynne has a new book out called Waiting on Love and it’s amazing! More details later, but in the meantime, please enjoy Lynne’s post.

Top 5 things to do when stuck in an airport Waiting on Love

In Waiting on Love, KK and Aidan meet because there’s a major snow storm back on the east coast and they’re caught in Dallas with no flights out for at least 20 hours. So what to do when stuck in an unfamiliar airport with a hot stranger?

  1. Leave the airport for a meal. Forget about the TSA- you’ve got hours to get back through security. Thanks to Yelp and Urban Spoon, try to sample some local delicacies.
  2. Shop- Unless you’re at an airport in Podunk, there’s some good shopping to be had at the airport. In Miami, my kids love the Miami Heat fan store. In Washington Dulles airport, I love the Smithsonian shop. My husband loves to shop at the American Airlines store in Dallas/Ft. Worth- he has t-shirts, hats etc…to show his platinum loyalty! He also likes that other travelers think he’s an American employee and ask him questions.
  3. Get a massage. Seriously. Lots of airports are offering seated massage. Last time I flew through Dallas, I spotted a Barber shop!
  4. Celebrity spot in the lounge. So this is only possible if you’re a member of the lounge or willing to fork over the money for a pass. Mr. Silver travels (a lot) and has access thanks to one of his credit cards. Celebrity spottings in the past few months include: Mandy Patinkin, one of the teachers from New Girl, Anna Faris, and more. He’s good at the celebrity spot.
  5. Get a room! Literally. KK and Aidan split a room for budget reasons and then made full use of the *cough* amenities in the room.

About the Author

Romance author, Lynne Silver, writes the popular Coded for Love series and other hot contemporary romance novels, such as Love, Technically. Before writing romance, she wrote fiction of a different sort, drafting press releases for technology corporations. Washington DC is her home (non) state, where she resides with her husband and two sons. She is represented by literary agent, Jessica Alvarez of Bookends LLC.

Thanks for joining us in the lagoon today, Lynne! Here’s all the details you need on Lynne’s new book. Happy Reading!

Buy Links:


All Romance eBooks:

Barnes & Noble:



Stalker links:




Twitter: @LynneSilver


After a disastrous vacation breakup with the man who was supposed to be The One, KK O’Brien decides she’s done. Love will find her when the time is right.  

On her flight home, she’s seated next to a male soldier, Aidan Dominguez, whom she ignores, because one: he is male (a trait she’s recently excised from her mind), two: he’s younger than her, and three: he’s on his way to be deployed overseas (geographically undesirable). When weather grounds her flight, she agrees to a drink and more with Aidan. After all, he’s leaving the country and she’s done projecting hope and wedding bells onto encounters with men. KK knows this is nothing more than a one-night stand with an extremely sexy soldier. It’s practically her patriotic duty to send him off to war with a good last memory.  

Aidan and KK have a great night together and they part with the expectation that they’ll never see each other again. Only, a few weeks later, the first email from Aidan arrives. Once she replies, another arrives, and soon an epistolary love affair blossoms where love was never supposed to grow. When Aidan asks for a shot at being her man, KK must decide if she’s brave enough to take another chance on love.

Evernight Teen’s Birthday Blog Hop, UPDATED!

BirthdayBHPromoDearest Fishy Friends:

The Waterworld Mermaids lost several posts from the past two weeks, including our original posting for the fabulous Evernight Teen Birthday Blog Hop. Unfortunately, all record of the wonderful comments left on that original post were also lost. If you commented then, please comment again here. And if you are visiting the hop for the first time, please comment as well! The mermaids are keeping a handwritten record this time, just in case the mysterious ghost of the lagoon strikes again. We want your comments counted toward the awesome prizes being offered and we want you to know all about the awesome book by Melissa Frost being spotlighted here in the pond! Thank you for your patience. Fishy kisses, xoxoxo.


Happy Birthday to EVERNIGHT TEEN! Continue reading