The Second Sentence

The Second SentenceA Collection of Romance Novellas

The premise: That if 5 authors start with the same sentence, they will all write vastly different stories. The results: A series! After the success of The First Sentence, we upped the degree of difficulty. These romantic novellas run the gamut of genres but all are inspired by the same SECOND sentence.

Catch of a Lifetime by Vicky Burkholder
Maren spent her year above the waves searching for a mate before her father marries her off to a stranger. Then she meets the one. When Kai meets Maren, the water around them sparkles with magic. Then he finds out who she is. With family honor at stake, can they trust their love to the fates?

Sing to My Soul by Allison B. Hanson
Ariah Bentley’s life is all about music, so of course she’s fallen for a musician. In the past, the guys she’s dated have pretended to be into her just to gain access to her record-producer father. She’s certain Jackson Slater is different. Not only has he asked her to move in with him, but she never told him who her father was. But could he still be using her to get to the top?

Written in the Cards by Misty Simon
Lydia’s broken heart does not need to be at a Ren Faire, but her friend Penelope insists. Codpieces and men in tights shouldn’t do it for her, but when she meets a tarot card reader who seems to see right into her soul, she might just have to rethink this romance thing and see what the future holds.

In the Heart of Chaos by Victoria Smith
When the residents of her small town begin exhibiting zombie-like symptoms, Mari will do whatever is necessary to survive. She meets up with Jason, the boy-now-man she has loved forever, and they work together to help their community survive. Along the way, they discover the feelings that had always simmered under the surface are real.

The Tempest Turtle by Natalie J. Damschroder
Using time travel to right wrongs has filled Amaya and Brody’s lives for 12 years. But when they learn what The Charge, their employer, is really doing with the power they’ve tapped, everything changes. Their purpose. Their choices. And their feelings for each other.

Preorder Now (Release date: 2/14/18)


Guest Post: Tammy Mannersly

Tammy Mannersly is an Australian author based in Brisbane, Queensland. She loves writing romance, has a fondness for animals, is crazy about movies and enjoys a great Happily Ever After. Her passion for writing started at a very young age and led her to complete a Bachelor Degree in Creative Industries majoring in Creative Writing at Queensland University of Technology.

Persuading Lucy by [Mannersly, Tammy ]Persuading Lucy

By Tammy Mannersly


You can’t hide from destiny….

Callum Hawthorne is one of those lucky guys who seem to have it all. He’s a wealthy property tycoon, the CEO of his family’s company. He’s handsome, intelligent and charming and has a gorgeous new woman on his arm every week. But there’s one thing still missing – the love of his life, Lucy Spencer.

Fourteen long years ago, Lucy left for college and cut off all contact with Cal, leaving their mutual friend Madison as his only connection. That was until in his effort to save his deceased father’s beloved Gold Coast property, The Calypso, Cal contacts Insight Marketing, the best advertising firm in Melbourne, and discovers his Lucy among the team.

Successful marketing executive, Lucy Spencer had managed to avoid her ex-best friend for nearly half their lives. Fearful of trusting him, loving him and having her heart broken all over again, Lucy tries to keep her distance from him, but discovers that there is a fine line between love and hate, and maybe – just maybe – Cal could be her inescapable destiny.


“Cal?” She said his name as she glanced between the two options.

Is he behind door number one or door number two, she wondered. And if so, where exactly did door number two lead?

“Luce?” His voice sounded wary. “I’m at the adjoining door. I’ve unlocked my side, but you’ve got to unlock yours.”

The adjoining door?

Her gaze snapped to the right, to the bright cream color of door number two.

Yes, she’d heard that correctly. Cal had organized adjoining rooms. She would have been furious had the knowledge of it not sparked some deep enticement to tug at her libido. She considered telling him to head around to the front, not wanting to unlock the door between the rooms and add further temptation to what her slinky black dress was already offering—but she didn’t.

Without a word, she walked over to the door and placed her hand on the cold brass handle.

“Lucy?” His tone was cautious again.

With a flick of her thumb, she turned the lock and then twisted the handle. Her breath caught in her throat as she pulled the door toward her, slowly revealing the tall, broad handsome figure behind it.

Cal was elegantly dressed, matching her quite perfectly in his jet-black suit, white fitted shirt and gold and silver tie.

Lucy tried to breathe, she knew she needed air, but the scrumptious sight of him kept each breath too shallow. She felt like some kind of animal, like a creature that had been caged too long without food and now found itself face to face with an extraordinary meal. The feminist in her was irked at the comparison, at the thought of Cal as a potential piece of meat, but she knew the reality was much worse than that. She had hungered for him nearly all her life and now here he was, presented to her in such a perfect situation—adjoining rooms, for heaven’s sake—that her once tight control over her lustful desires was ever weakening.


ISBN: 978-1-945910-49-4

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You can find out more information about Tammy and her work on her website: or by visiting:






Here’s to 2018

As 2017 comes to a close and we look forward to a new year, I wanted to take a moment to wish all of you the best. I know for many of us that the past year has been one of challenges, but tomorrow dawns a new day. Look not back, but forward. Below is blessing that I give to you. I’ve seen it listed as coming from multiple cultures and countries–which only means it’s a universal wish. May you have a blessed new year.

May your joys be as bright as the morning, and your sorrows merely be shadows that fade in the sunlight of love. May you have enough happiness to keep you sweet, enough trials to keep you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, enough hope to keep you happy, enough failure to keep you humble, enough success to keep you eager, enough friends to give you comfort, enough faith and courage in yourself to banish sadness, enough wealth to meet your needs and one thing more; enough determination to make each day a more wonderful day than the one before.


Guest Post: Haley Jordan

For a cute, funny, heartwarming story – that is also inexpensive! – try this on for size:

Haunted LoveHAUNTED LOVE by Haley Jordan: Kyra James is building a career as a TV journalist, but her boyfriend doesn’t see it that way. When late-night Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve assignments derail her personal life, Kyra’s photojournalist, Blake Archer, is there to console her. Can a ghost from Christmas past convince Kyra to adjust her focus and see that true love might be right by her side?


This entry was posted on December 24, 2017. Bookmark the permalink.

Positive Affirmations

This has been a difficult year for many of us. So many things going wrong and so much negativity in our lives – which is not a good thing. All that negativity can cause its own set of problems, which lead to other problems, which lead to… a big circle of bad. For instance, for me… I’m up way too early because I had a bad night. And I feel like crap. And my vision issues have not resolved. And my mom is still having problems. And other members of my family are not doing well. And I haven’t had a lot of work to do so the money isn’t coming in. And… so it goes.

I’m done with that. From here on out, I pledge to think positively – or as positively as I can. I have a nice home with heat. I have a soft bed to sleep in. I have food in my kitchen. I have clothes in my closet. I have family and friends who love me. I have more than a lot of people do. And I am grateful for them.

So today’s affirming quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle, the other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

For today – be grateful for what you have and approach your day as a gift.


Speaking of gifts… this is an anthology done by friends of mine and is free only until January 1, then you’ll have to pay for it. But… all money goes to charity. Please check out site: https// The First Sentence Final (1)

Guest Post: D.R. Grady

DeAnnD.R. Grady lives with her husband near Hershey, PA. She adores chocolate, laughing, collecting bags, books, and shoes, and writing stories that resonate with others.


Amazon Author page:

Twitter: @drgradybooks

Facebook Page: D.R. Grady


Google+:  D.R. Gradybooks

The Nerd Who Spied Me 

TheThe Nerd Who Spied Me covery’re confident in their secret operative abilities, but maybe not so much in their relationship goals.

Cian Hunter is tasked with the impossible: find Verity Wellington and bring her home safely. His survival is not guaranteed.

Everyone in their business knows Verity is perfectly capable of getting herself home, since she’s the gut-them-first-and-ask-questions-later type of operative. She also has the advantage of knowing where she is, which would be helpful.

He accepts the assignment, aware two operatives are better than one when dealing with the nebulous factions who lurk in the shadows. Plus, the chance to get close to Verity to see if his attraction to her is more than a fleeting interest is too good to pass up. Provided she doesn’t gut him first.

Cian is confident in his secret operative abilities, despite wishing to leave them behind. However, his relationship goals leave something to be desired. If he can figure those out… he might stand a chance of getting them both home alive.

About the book:

In the manner of a smattering of her de Leos relatives, Verity Wellington was born a warrior. Unfortunately for her, she also inherited a full dose of her mother’s femme fatale woman magic.

I’ve enjoyed the dichotomy of a warrior saddled with femme fatale genes. All men notice her. None of them forget her, and for a secret operative, this obviously creates trouble in the field.

For Verity, the heroine of THE NERD WHO SPIED ME, she has to work that much harder, and is limited in the types of jobs she’s assigned. This concept is nothing new for women the world over. A quote from the late former Texas Governor, Ann Richards, applies. “After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.”

This sums up Verity’s life as a secret operative. She is every bit as capable as any of her male counterparts. Yet she’s got a couple of major disadvantages, but still exceeds expectations.

Being a woman in any society that we know of appears to be fraught with perils many men have never encountered. But what if the woman in question is tough and scary in her own right? She’s wrapped in a delectable shell, but she’s got skills to rival any Navy SEAL or Army Ranger.

Verity is altogether different from our previous woman warrior, Janine Morris from SHADOWS AND SPICE. Janine became a warrior due to her circumstances—which she overcame by becoming an impressive warrior in her own right. However, Janine is first and foremost a healer. Verity was born a warrior, and would love to remain unassuming and invisible so she can do her job.

She is faced with these conflicting genes and must come to a compromise between them before she can perform to the full extent of her expertise. Impressive abilities she can’t fully stretch and expand because of the come-hither vibes she wishes she could permanently turn off.

Join Verity and hero Cian Hunter as they combine forces to return to her native Rurikstan. Their only task is to arrive alive. It’s too bad that can be difficult for some people.

This story is a wonderful romp with plenty of the Morrison family members who make an appearance so I hope you’ll pick up a copy of THE NERD WHO SPIED ME to enjoy.


Barnes and Noble:

Google Play:


Createspace: coming soon!

Other works by D.R. Grady:

The Morrison Family Series:

The Nerd and the Marine

The Corpsman and the Nerd

The Nerd and the SEAL

The Nerd’s Pocket Pets

Shadows and Spice

Macy’s Parade

Bad Nerd Rising

Bad Nerd Falling

Nerds on Fire

Nerds Unite

The Trouble with Nerds

The Nerd who Spied Me

Free Short Stories:

Math Nerds and Mechanics

Tall Golfs

The Me Series:

Treasure Me

Save Me

Trust Me

Heal Me

Love Me

The Dragon Chronicles Series:

The Dragon Chronicles Book 1: Learning

The Dragon Chronicles Book 2: Shifting

The Dragon Chronicles Book 3: Healing

Please visit my website for updates on these series.



Guest Post: Vicky Burkholder

Many times authors are asked “Where do you get your ideas?”. The simple answer is… everywhere. The hard answer is…everywhere.

A little explanation. An author is open to possibilities from everywhere. A newspaper headline. A bit of a song. A snippet of an overheard conversation. A beautiful sunrise. The ideas are everywhere. It’s what you do with them that makes you an author…or an artist…or a musician…. And no two authors (artists, musicians) will do the same thing with the same idea.

For most authors, once we’ve gotten that snippet, we start playing the “What if…” game. Take my first series, “Gambling on Love”. I took a bit of a news story – the horrific practice human trafficking – and played “what if…” What if this was still going on a hundred (or more) years in the future? What if the low lifes that do this are in outer space, on space stations and other planets. What if a friend or relative of a cop was taken? And so on. And thus, Gambling on Love was born.

The story I’m working on right now – a romantic suspense – is based on the titles and lyrics of two songs from Sarah McLachlan: “I Will Remember You” and “In the Arms of an Angel”. I love her music and the emotions it evokes. And the ideas it gives me.

For my Pride series… What if there really were people who could change their shape? They’d have the same problems humans do, but they’d have the the additional problems of keeping their animal selves hidden from the world (or risk becoming lab specimens). What if…they purchased a large tract of land somewhere remote and developed their own town(s)? What if not everyone who lived there was happy with the setup and the rulers? Thus… “Lion’s Pride” series. Currently it’s only two books, the the third will soon be coming. 🙂

And that is where authors get their ideas. From everywhere.

lionsheartLION’S HEART – Book 1 in the LION’S PRIDE series.

Facing a lonely existence after the death of her mother, Healer Selena is startled when two strangers show up on her doorstep. One is badly injured, beyond her help. It is the injured man’s companion who draws her notice. She wonders how much her mother had to do with bringing him here. After all, Selena’s mother was a witch. The ruby she enchanted before she died is glowing, telling Selena that this man is her chosen mate. But he’s a shapeshifter, a being she has learned to distrust.

Tristan had been against the journey with his godfather, Jacob, but a promise is a promise. An attack by outlaws sealed his fate. Injured and on the run, they come upon a secluded cabin and a beautiful woman. When she shows powers that go beyond the imagination, he is certain he’s been bewitched, but for some reason, he doesn’t mind as much as he thought he would. When he finds out she is actually the daughter of his mentor, he knows there are forces at work that go beyond the realm of normalcy. His lion recognizes her as his mate, it takes the man a little longer.

from Amazon                                                                From Liquid Silver Publishing


Stefan the Black, alpha of the northwestern territories, needs a strong mate. It’s the only lionschoice600x900way the prides and packs will continue to follow him, but he hasn’t found the right one yet. Then Dr. Malena Troutman literally runs into him and he and his beast know that she is the one.

The problem is convincing her.

Malena wants nothing to do with prides or packs. As a half-breed—part witch, part shifter—she’s been shunned by both shifters and witches alike. But her beast wants Stefan, and so does the human part of her. Still, can she trust him not to turn her away, especially once he learns her secret?

But Stefan has more than a few secrets of his own, not the least of which is … he’s also got magic running through his blood. It’s up to him to convince the packs and prides that their prejudices are hurting the prides. Ruling a large area of multiple packs and prides takes a lot of balancing—funds, people, emergencies, and more. But with Malena by his side, Stefan turns things around and both beasts find contentment.

From Liquid Silver Publishing


Grammar Rules and when to break them

As many of you know, in my day job, I’m an editor. Yes, I’m that evil person who tells you where to put your Oxford commas and how to correctly use their/they’re/there. There are rules for grammar and The Chicago Manual of Style is an expert at giving us these rules. But, as in most things, there are times when rules are made to be broken. This is especially true in fiction writing.

When I do an edit for an author, I rarely change anything outright (re: incorrect usage of their/they’re/there and other homonyms), but I make suggestions for the author to use as he or she sees fit. For instance:

Sentence fragments: This often happens when you start a sentence with a conjunction (and, but, etc.). But why not do this? It’s a purist thing. The “But” sentence I used here could just as easily be written as “Why not do this?”. Unfortunately, that’s not the way most people talk. People speak in fragments all the time. I wouldn’t advise writing this way in a formal essay or something for a grammar class, but using them in a popular fiction novel? Go ahead. It makes the reading flow better and is more understandable than formal writing. But… don’t use them all the time. Sprinkle a few in here and there for emphasis or dialogue, just don’t have every sentence be a fragment. Then it becomes the problem instead of a solution.

Ending a sentence with a preposition: Again, why not? This rule originally comes from Latin construction but we’re not talking Latin. We’re writing plain English and that is an entirely different kettle of fish. Forcing us to move words around so there’s no preposition on the end of a sentence makes the writing sound stilted and way too formal. Go ahead and end it with one. I give you permission to do so. But… if you can reword it differently as in: That’s something I won’t put up with. vs. I won’t put up with that. Go for the clarity and brevity unless you’re making a statement about the character.

Split infinitives: When I edit for these, most people say “huh?” What in the world is a split infinitive? It’s a two word phrase that expresses one thought, usually with the word “to” involved: to walk, to go, to see, to…whatever. A split infinitive occurs when you put another word–usually an adjective–between the two words: to boldly go; to quickly walk; to really see, etc. A purist will tell you that you should never split these two words. I say… maybe. Yes, sometimes you can reword the sentence: I wanted to really see him. vs. I really wanted to see him. And it works fine. But there are other times when moving the word messes with the meaning of the sentence and it just doesn’t sound as good: To boldly go where no one has gone before. vs. To go boldly where no one has gone before. While the second one is correct, it doesn’t have the same impact as the first one. So go ahead and split those infinitives if necessary. Just don’t do it all the time, please.

That vs. Who: True grammarians will know the difference between that and who: I’m going to see the man that/who gave me my dog. The correct usage is “who”: I’m going to see the man who gave me my dog. “That” is for things; “who” is for people. But… very few people use it correctly. I rarely edit a writer who has used this correctly. In dialogue, I might let it go because that’s how people talk (unfortunately), but in regular prose? Nope. This is one rule I do stick to.

There are a lot of other rules I can discuss, but we’ll stop with these for today. Just remember, kind of like the pirates in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies – “The code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.” – substitute “rules” for code and you have it. Follow the rules when possible, but don’t be afraid to break them every now and then. Just be sure you have a good reason to. 😉

You only fail when you quit trying…

My self-confidence was gone. My writing prospects were gone. My job was gone. I could have curled up, quit, and gone back to being a librarian, but jobs for cataloguers were few and far between those days as most libraries were going to centralized catalogues. So I read, and became a reviewer for a couple of magazines. At least it kept my name out there. And I learned more as I read for critique rather than for pleasure.

Then I got an email one day from another friend who was working for a small publisher who needed another copy editor. Leery (I can be taught), I asked what the payment would be. This time, it would be a flat rate, plus royalties. Okay, the flat rate wasn’t great, but at least it was something. So I agreed. And I kept on writing, though not submitting. I’d been burnt too badly. I worked for her for nearly a year. And kept learning the craft.

I joined RWA and my local RWA group. And that was all I needed. It was a small group of about twenty people, but they were so full of enthusiasm. Some of them were published, some not. But all had experience in rejections. And they all had stories that wanted to be told. They understood me. They understood how I felt. And I understood them.

With their help, I started submitting again. And writing. And learning. Though I kept getting nothing but rejections, they were now coming with handwritten notes and encouragement to submit something else. And I was winning contests.

Then I got “The Call” from a publisher who is no longer in business for a story I’d submitted less than a month previously. And that was followed just a week later, also from the same publisher, but a different editor, for another book I’d submitted eighteen months previously. They wanted both books. I’d done my homework on this one. They were relatively stable, had a good reputation and the authors I’d talked to who were already writing for them had good things to say. So, heart in hand, I accepted.

And I was off and running.

The journey: when a dream goes bad

About the time I was getting frustrated with being a newspaper journalist, two things happened in my life as a writer. A friend of my husband had started his own computer services company and needed someone to edit policy and procedures manuals for a contract. He asked if I would be willing to take on the job – and I could work at home. He’d load up my little computer with everything I needed and pay me a ridiculous amount of money to work at home. How could I say no?

At the same time, an acquaintance of mine from an online group I’d joined was working for a new e-publisher. They were looking for copy-editors and she knew my background (that Master’s Degree came with a 4.0 average). Payment would be a percentage of the royalties for each book I edited. Of course I said yes.

Oh, how little I knew. And how much I learned. The policy and procedure job was a piece of cake. I did 240 of those boring little documents over the space of a year. Plus wrote other ones for other agencies as well. I got a good reputation for accuracy and quick turnarounds. But, oh my goodness, was it boring. Still, the money was good. It helped get the last of the kids through college. The contract lasted a year, but it was a good year.

The novel editing, on the other hand, was exciting. Over the course of two years, I edited thirty-five novels for that company. And learned a lot. Enough to write my own novel. I submitted it, like every other wannabe writer, and lo, and behold, it was accepted! I was going to be published! Okay, it was going to be an e-book, but still. I was going to be published!

The day I received my contract was one of the happiest of my life. And it just happened to be my dad’s birthday. Unfortunately, he had passed away two years before this so I could not share the incredible news with him. But I know he had something to do with it.

So I continued to edit other books while working through edits of my own. I learned about cover art and blurbs and tag lines. I learned about dedication pages and promos. I learned about how much I still had to learn. In the background of all this, there were some rumblings in the company. My friend who had gotten me into the job left the company. As did some of the authors I’d edited for. When I asked my “supervisor” about it, I was told it was just internal issues and nothing I needed to worry about.

How naïve I was. But I was too excited about my book coming out to really worry. My book did come out and it was grand. I sold copies – I know this because people wrote to me to tell me how much they enjoyed the book. And a week later, the company closed its doors and went belly up.

What? I now had no book. No royalties for my book, or the other books I’d edited. Nothing. All that work for nothing? Hours spent doing edits for others only to find out they sold their books to other publishers and were making successes there. Hours spent doing my own edits only to have it tied up in limbo. I eventually found out that the owners were basically scammers who had done this before under different names. But they’d crossed the wrong people this time as several of the top editors broke off, formed their own company and took the scammers to court. The break-out people did well-enough for themselves, but they were a very small contingent of the larger company. And because I was so new, I wasn’t one of the “in” people. So I was left hanging, though I did get my rights back (I have that in writing). With no book, no editorial job, no contract (since that had ended). I saw my fledgling writing career as a major failure.

(the story continues…) (next week)