I wrote this story years ago and shared it on my old blog. I'm reposting it here for your enjoyment.
Brandon Ringer slowly opened his eyes, completely disoriented as he tried to remember where he was. Whatever the location, it was pitch black, dank, and musty.
His head throbbed, a punishing beat that pounded throughout his skull. He groaned, lifting his head upright on his sore neck.
To alleviate the pain, he tried to cup his head in his hands and realized with a start that he couldn’t move. His eyes widened in panic. Suddenly, the throbbing pain increased as his heartbeat kicked into a frantic gallop at the realization that he was completely immobilized.
And his mouth was taped shut.
What the hell?
He struggled into full consciousness, now aware of the fact that he was in a seated position in a chair with armrests - completely naked.
Tape bound him to what felt like a wooden chair, wound from the top of his hair-sprinkled torso down to just above his hips. His hands were bound, secured tightly to the arms of the chair. His legs were open and bound to either side of the chair’s front legs.
As the fog in his brain cleared, the memories came flooding back.
He had attended the annual Halloween costume party held by a local law firm. The party was known all over town for bringing out the local who’s who and being a good place to make business and sexual connections. He had been interested in the latter.
Dressed as a Roman gladiator, Brandon had prowled the party looking for a woman interested in having fun for the night. After being shot down several times, he met a blonde wearing a mask across her eyes and a toga cinched over her shoulder. He moved in for the kill, introduced himself, and found out her name was Jill.
“You don’t remember me, do you?” she asked, pouting prettily.
“If we’ve met before, sweetheart, pardon my manners, and allow me to get reacquainted.” Smooth.
Unexpectedly, she invited him out to the privacy of her car. The last thing he remembered was opening the door for her, and…nothing. Nothing except…a blinding pain to the back of his head.
Wait a minute. That’s how he’d gotten here. Someone working with her had knocked him unconscious. They must have put him in the car and brought him here. But why?
As if on cue, a noise caught his attention. Light filtered through to what he now saw was an unfinished basement.
A bulb overhead suddenly illuminated the space. Footsteps on the stairs indicated more than one person. The door through which they’d entered closed. His heart began to beat faster, pumping so hard he was certain it would burst through his chest.
Then he saw her, coming toward him in her white toga, sans mask this time. Her eyes were no longer playful and teasing. Instead, they were glacier blue, devoid of all emotion. She looked angry. An attractive brunette trailed her, dressed in a black and white maid’s costume. He remembered her from the party.
Before he saw it coming, Jill slapped him hard across the face, twisting his head back. The jolt from the blow increased the pounding in his head to an almost unbearable pitch.
“You lying, cheating, son of a bitch!” Jill hissed.
What is she talking about?
She cast him a scathing look.
“You’ve really let yourself go,” the maid said. She shook her head. “You’ve lost weight, you’re pale.”
“That didn’t stop him from hitting on us,” Jill said, as if he wasn’t in the room. Whack! It landed in the same spot. Brandon felt dangerously close to passing out from the pain. “Your rap has gotten weak, too.”
They both giggled.
What was going on here? Brandon tried to talk, but only muffled tones could be heard behind the tape. He tried to jostle the chair. Nothing. They’d tightly secured him, and it seemed as if the chair was bolted to the cool concrete below his bare feet.
Jill laughed. “Nothing to say now?” she asked, leaning forward to look him in the eyes. Her voice sounded sweet like honey when she said, “You look scared, but you’re only getting what you deserve.”
Jill straightened and walked away, prompting the brunette to lean forward. In a menacing tone, she said, “You shouldn’t play games with women’s emotions. There are consequences.”
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean any harm.
A whirring sound caught Brandon’s attention. Jill strolled back over to where he sat. She held an electric knife in her hand. He gulped.
“I knew you’d come to the party. I just had no idea how easy you’d make it for us.”
“You’ve been a bad boy, Barry. And now it’s time to pay,” the maid said.
Barry? Wait a minute…
Brandon’s eyes widened as Jill moved closer, the knife cutting through the air as she waved it in his face.
Sweat broke out on Brandon’s forehead and upper lip. His stomach muscles clenched and he began to fervently pray. He promised a multitude of changes in his life if God would get him out of this.
It was a case of mistaken identity. He had been house-sitting for his brother, a successful attorney, of whom he’d always been jealous. His brother was in the south of France, living it up with his latest model girlfriend. Brandon had taken the ditched costume party invitation from the trash and decided to go as his brother. His twin brother, Barry.
“Where should we start?” Jill asked her companion.
“I say we save the best for last,” the brunette answered, looking pointedly between his open legs. “Let’s start with his fingers.”
He tried to move as the knife came closer, but there was nothing he could do.
Please, God, he prayed. Help me. I’m sorry I pretended to be Barry. Tell them I didn’t do whatever it is they’re angry about.
He moaned hysterically.
Somebody, tell them. I’m not Barry. I’m Brandon. I’m Brandon!
Share this with anyone you think would enjoy a short Halloween story. Be safe and have fun. Happy Halloween!
Some authors don’t like visiting Goodreads. But I find there’s a perfectly good reason to participate on the site, which was why it was created in the first place. Participate as a reader.
Goodreads has been around since 2007 and has been the go-to site for bibliophiles, from beginner level book enthusiasts to hardcore book collectors. It’s a virtual book club where people from all over the world can share reading lists, recommendations, and write reviews. According to Goodreads, they are “the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations.” A claim that’s hard to contest.
So what are some of the benefits of hanging out on Goodreads?
1. You can curate your list of books
If you haven’t checked it out yet, Goodreads is a good place to curate your own list of books by filing them into categories. Start by organizing them into the three default categories or shelves, namely: Read, Currently Reading, and Want to Read.
In your Read shelf, you record all the books you’ve previously read. This can serve as a reference for when you want to re-read books. Or, if you’ve been following a series, the list can serve as a reminder of which books you’ve read so far. You can also see how many people have read the same books you have and how they rated them.
In your Currently Reading shelf, list all the books you’ve started reading but haven’t finished. This is useful for people who are into reading challenges, where they set a goal of a specific number of books they plan to read during a calendar year.
In your Want to Read shelf, list all the books that are part of your reading wish list, aka the to-be-read (TBR) pile. This is particularly helpful if you have a thousand recommendations from friends and family, but for the life of you, can’t remember a single one of them. Having a wish list on Goodreads beats keeping a notepad on your phone. My personal TBR list is long, and I refer to my Goodreads list as a reminder of books I want to get the next time I visit a bookstore or browse online.
2. You can create your own shelves
Another cool feature of Goodreads is that you can create your own shelves. My shelves are pretty mundane. They include titles like contemporary romance, sensual, african-american romance, etc. Other members have created quirky shelves where they put their favorite books into re-read categories or list them as guiltypleasures, or the not-so-nice overrated-drivel.
3. You can discover new books
Goodreads’ main mission is to help their members find new books. Every time you view a book, Goodreads will show you reviews of it by your friends first and then will show you reviews from other members. This creates a strong sense of community, making Goodreads like being part of a worldwide book recommendation club. I’ve found quite a few new authors by scrolling through my friends’ updates.
4. You can discover new releases from your favorite authors
The platform helps you discover new releases from your favorite authors. You can use Goodreads to follow your favorite author’s work and also create shelves of all their previously released titles. You also have the opportunity to learn more about your favorite authors, their upcoming events, which books they love, what they’re currently reading, and genres they are particularly interested in.
5. You can join book groups
Keeping with the book lovers community theme, Goodreads has thousands of groups for book fans. They fall under hundreds of categories with featured groups displayed on the landing page. This is an avenue to ask questions or discuss common interests, tropes you love or hate, favorite authors, genres, writing styles, and just about anything under the sun. In groups, you may discover independent authors or start a discussion about your favorite book, author, or genre. And because some authors do hang out in Goodreads groups, you may get the opportunity to chat with them.
Other fun things Goodreads offers:
If you’re a book lover, you should definitely explore Goodreads. It’s currently available as an app on Android and iOS devices. By the way, check out my most recent reads on Goodreads, below.
Are you a die-hard bibliophile but can’t always find time to read? Then you might want to consider audiobooks, which are growing in popularity for people just like you. Amazon’s Audible offers a monthly subscription audiobook service and boasts having the world's largest audiobook library with access to more than 180,000 titles. You can download these titles to your phone, tablet, or computer. If you have the ebook and the audiobook of a title, you’ll love the Whispersync for Voice technology.
What is Whispersync for Voice?
Whispersync for Voice, simply known as Whispersync, is a feature that allows you to switch between all of your Whispersync-enabled devices without losing your place. Here’s the cool part…this feature allows you to listen to your audiobooks and easily switch to reading the companion ebook and vice versa. All it takes is a wi-fi connection, and you can pick up where you left off without losing your place, your bookmarks, or your notes. You can switch between an Audible for Android app and an Audible for iPad app seamlessly and also access your ebook from your phone, e-reader, or laptop or any compatible device.
Why is this beneficial?
Let’s say you have a one-hour commute to work, carpool or ride the bus or train, and use the time to read. You can continue with the story even as you get off the train and walk to your office building. But of course, you can’t read and walk at the same time (or at least you shouldn’t). So instead, you listen. That’s the beauty of the Whispersync feature. With a simple tap of a screen, you can switch between reading and listening, pop in your headphones, and continue the story. Perfect for those books that are so good you can’t put them down.
Another beneficial feature
Whispersync not only lets you switch between reading and listening, but you can also do both! It lets you read while listening to your ebook, highlighting the text as it’s being narrated, great for when you need to boost comprehension and retention.
Alternatives to Audible
Amazon Audible is the only place where you can use the Whispersync technology, but you do have other options for audiobooks. You can borrow books through Overdrive. If your library doesn’t have the book you’re interested in, request it. With enough requests, they might acquire it. iTunes is another alternative. Audiobooks.com has a similar subscription plan to Audible, including a 30-day free trial, which equates to one free credit when you try the service. Downpour is another alternative source for avid listeners. They also offer a monthly subscription plan free credit upon sign-up.
June is Audiobook Month, so keep your eyes open for specials, coupons, and giveaways at all at the aforementioned retailers. And make sure you stop by my audiobooks page to see the list of books I’ve produced in audio, and listen to the samples. For any of those books you already have in ebook format, Amazon offers the audiobook as an add-on for only $1.99 each, and they’re all Whispersync-enabled.
Happy reading and/or listening!
- Delaney Diamond
I have some exciting news! My publishing company, Garden Avenue Press (GAP), has partnered with Building Relationships Around Books (BRAB), an online book club of over 1200 members for an amazing writing contest.
BRAB is the sponsor of the Writers Got Talent contest, in a search for creative stories in romance and women's fiction that feature people of color. The first place winner in the published and unpublished author categories will receive a publishing contract from GAP, as well as a $250 advance.
Get your manuscript ready and mark your calendar. BRAB starts accepting entries May 1st. Here are the details:
For more details, visit the contest page.
There are only 20 slots in each category, so make sure you submit early. Good luck!
To celebrate the release of More Than a Mistress, I decided to do a blog tour. It's been years since I've done one, but I was fortunate enough to arrange for some bloggers and authors to help me spread the news of my fifth addition to the Latin Men series. It's the longest book of the series and takes place mostly in Miami, with short visits to Argentina and Atlanta. Esteban, a wealthy restaurateur, pursues Sonia, a sommelier, and eventually convinces her to begin an unconventional relationship with him as a kept woman. But of course, this is a romance, and when they develop feelings for each other, things get complicated.
What's included in the blog tour? Interviews, where you learn more about me and my books. (The interviewers ask some really good questions.) Excerpts, to tempt you into buying a copy of More Than a Mistress. And prizes!
Below is the schedule of events. Each host's link goes live on the date they're scheduled to post. Take some time to visit each site. Check out the authors' catalog of books, and visit the bloggers to read reviews of other novels and see what other events they have planned.
By the way, feel free to leave questions here or on any of the blogs you visit, and I'll answer them. I look forward to chatting with you!
BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE
April 3 - Black Page Turners - interview
April 3 - Monlatable Reviews - excerpt
April 3 - Tall Stack of Books - excerpt
April 4 - My Reading Nook - interview, excerpt
April 4 - Musings and Romance - excerpt
April 5 - The Island Reader - interview
April 5 - SORMAG - excerpt
April 6 - Nana Prah, author - excerpt
April 6 - Kim Talks Books - interview
April 7 - Tia Kelly, author - 5 Things I Learned About Wine While Writing More Than a Mistress
Will their arrangement ever be enough?
Relationships are not a priority for restaurateur Esteban Galiano, and when he sees Sonia Kennedy at a party, he plans to make her a conquest in a long line of many. But she rebuffs his advances and forces him to adjust—determined to meet the challenge and do whatever he must to make her his.
All her life, Sonia’s beauty has caused unnecessary problems, and right now she needs a job, not a suitor. When Esteban makes an indecent proposal, her first instinct is to turn him down. But soon she’s rethinking her response. Maybe it’s time for her to use what she’s got, to get what she wants.
In a previous blog post, I gave you two solutions to ensure you don’t miss newsletters from your favorite authors. You can find those here. Today, I’m suggesting one more way to stay up-to-date.
Subscribe to the author’s newsletter RSS feed.
I subscribe to various blogs via RSS feed and read them at my leisure when I have time. I prefer to subscribe to author newsletters via email so I don’t miss time-sensitive announcements such as sales or new releases, but this is a good option for readers who don’t have a preference.
I’ll use my own newsletter as an example, which I send out via MailChimp.
And there you have it! Follow these steps and never miss a newsletter from your favorite author again.
I recently opened the doors of Garden Avenue Press (GAP), a digital-first press, to publish romance and women’s fiction. The editors are looking for sexy stories, emotional stories, and unique stories. GAP offers a two-year contract and a generous split.
Visit the website for submission guidelines, and follow on Facebook and Twitter to see what’s coming next.
Can’t wait to see what your powerful pens have in store for readers!
**** PERMISSION TO SHARE GRANTED ****
We all have our favorite authors whose books we obsess over. We scroll through their social media updates, read online interviews, and check their blogs for announcements and news. We also subscribe to their official newsletter, where we get first-hand information and updates about previous works, sales, appearances, and projects in the pipeline.
Some web-based email services, to streamline messages and make email more efficient, group together newsletters and events and separate them from the inbox into a promotions or other tab. Your inbox gets automatically sorted by what the service deems important messages, leaving you to take care of the rest that fall into the “others” category.
In theory, this sounds great. It's a time-saving option that lets you get down to the business of reading only priority emails, and lets you get a handle on the amount of messages you receive. But practically, because you don’t choose which emails are considered priority, you may be missing out on messages that are important to you. This means there’s a chance you’ll miss or delete the important author update you’ve been waiting to receive.
So what can you do to make sure you receive newsletters and updates from your favorite authors?
First, make sure you subscribe to the newsletter in the first place - an important but sometimes overlooked step. Newsletters are often double opt-in lists. Once you subscribe, check your email for the confirmation message and click it to confirm you want to receive the author’s news.
Second, you can tweak your email settings to make sure that the newsletter lands in your inbox and not a different folder. For this example, we’ll look into tweaking your email settings using the most popular web email service, Gmail.
Maybe you want to get rid of sorting altogether and have all emails come directly into your “Primary” inbox. You have the option to turn off the tabs. Here are the steps:
If you ever want to enable the tab function again. Use the following steps:
And there you have it! Follow these steps and never miss a newsletter from your favorite author again.
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Latin Men series
Love Unexpected series