Market that Book – Cover & Blurb

Market that Book – Cover & Blurb

You’ve just typed…‘The End’… to the story you’ve laboured over for countless hours. Its been critiqued, edited, proof-read and you’ve decided to self-publish.

So what’s next?

How do you make your story stand out from the thousands of e-books available? An impossible task, you sigh to yourself. But there are a few things you can do to give your book the best possible chance of sales. The rest really is in the lap of the gods or in this case, the hands of the readers.

Well first off, your book needs to be the best story you can write at that time and you need to be happy with it. You need to have had to professionally edited and proofread and be satisfied that there is no niggly little question mark digging into your sub consciousness.

Assuming all these boxes have been ticked, its time to consider your market. Research has revealed that readers are attracted to a particular book by the following:

  1. Cover
  2. Blurb
  3. Price
  4. Sample pages (and somewhere on this list is of course, author name)

You will need a professional-looking cover. There are quite a number of professional book cover designers out there with pre-made covers that may suit your story or custom made services. This again will depend on your budget. You can also make a cover yourself but remember, it must not scream ‘amateur’ or readers will be turned away. Consider the genre of your book – your cover needs to portray the genre (including time such as historical or contemporary), the heat level (sexy, sweet, erotic) and if for younger readers, an indication of the age of the protagonists.

Then there is the blurb – for me this is one of the hardest things to write. How to hook a potential reader? What do I include? What do I ignore?

Remember – the blurb is NOT a synopsis. The reader does not need to know everything that will happen in your story. Or even the ending.

Ensure you include ‘keywords’ and ’emotional power’ and ‘punchy’ words (evoke the same emotions in the blurb that will be in the book). Some examples of emotion power words are: trapped, tormented, frantic, desperate, terrified, escape, primitive, mad, crazed, revenge, betrayal, obsession, passion, explode, explosive, quest, hunt etc. Give an indication also of the genre and setting – ie romantic suspense set in a rural town for example.

Keep the blurb around one hundred to one hundred and fifty words. Write it in third person present tense. Do not include any sub-plots – keep focused on the main plot and the main theme of your story. Don’t litter your blurb with lots of names either of people or places – keep that to the two main characters. Too much detail is confusing and will muddy the water. Tease the reader – ask yourself, what will make the reader purchase this book?

Do multiple drafts of your blurb (and keep each one – sometimes the best blurbs end up being a combination of the first ones and part of the last one). Ask for critiques by others who aren’t so ’emotionally’ tied to your book.

Also go on-line and read lots of blurbs of books especially those that are in the same genre as your story. Get a feel for what the writer includes, leaves out and analyse the blurbs you liked the most as to HOW the writer hooked you (or even if he/she didn’t!). Look at what you think worked for you and try to replicate the same technique for your own blurb. Please note I’m NOT advocating you copy anything – that’s a BIG NO NO!

Here’s an example of the blurb I wrote for my latest story: Bindarra Creek Makeover. Take a look and ask yourself – Does it work for you? What doesn’t work for you? I wanted to portray: contemporary, rural, romance, quirky characters and a hint of suspense or danger.

Bindarra Creek Makeover © S. E. Gilchrist

When Tessa Gibson reluctantly embarks on a desperate plan to secure her daughter’s safety, she never dared dream of falling in love – especially with a cop and a town that makes her feel like one of their own. The moment Constable Dylan (aka Dodge) Myers meets Tessa, more than his internal cop radar is activated. With his career on shaky ground, he doesn’t need additional complications in his life.

But neither Tessa nor Dodge are a match for his grandmother and her CWA cronies and their own ideas on revitalising the struggling rural township of Bindarra Creek.

And not even the monster from Tessa’s past will stop them.

Good luck – and remember, the best thing about e-books is that you can change your blurb, update it, make it ‘punchier’ more ‘evocative’ any time you like.

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Small Town Charm


Afternoon Glow

I’ve always enjoyed long trips to the country. I’ve camped, motel-ed & caravanned my way through many small & not so small, Australian outback towns. And more times than I can count I’ve said, “Lets sell up and move here, I can see myself living here”. And of course that hasn’t happened…

So what is it with small towns? What’s the lure that makes you want to leave the busy suburban sprawl, the plethora of choice in cafe, restaurants, shows & movie nights, the joy of running up or down the station stairs hoping to make the 4.15pm train, or those down-town smells and shopping galore. Why leave all that excitement?

photo 3 (1)

Country street

All the clear Fresh air I suppose, or maybe the fact that everyone says it’s quiet, lay-back, less stressful – but is it? Taking the opportunity to speak with many people living in the towns we visit, I find they are just as busy as those of us living in medium populated towns or in the bustling cities. When you take the time to stop and spend a day or two you do see a different lifestyle, but it’s not any less than than their city cousins, it’s just different. Most of them have as much going on in their busy lives as the rest of us.

To be fair, the balance of population in the smaller towns goes with there being more senior, long-term or retired folk, so for many, their lives may operate at a less hectic pace – that’s what I’m looking forward to. And in hectic, for me (short of unforeseen issues), it’s being able to choose what you do for the day when you no longer have to rise with the alarm in your ear.   :)

Glen Innes (7)

Saturday avo at the local

So I started wondering if it had more to do with the atmosphere – after all country towns are set – well – in the country! And straight away we think of mountains, fields and hillsides, dotted with livestock or fenced off  for horses or crops. We imagine a river or creek running nearby or more often than not, they run right through the town. Driving into the town the first thing you usually notice are the  streets are much wider (and quieter) than built up suburbia, I especially love the main streets, enough room to support the through traffic and lots of angle parking on the side. I mean, it’s not the issue with, “Gee, is my car going to fit in that spot,and will those 20 cars behind me mind waiting while I give it a go, ’cause my reverse parking is a little rusty.” Often you have plenty of time to pull up and check out if that’s where you want to park or should you move slowly along the road, checking out the other 10 free spots ahead? I live in a ‘growing population’ Tourist town on the coast, so we try to head out of town in holiday season so I am very familiar with the saying “Bloody Tourists”


Huge find on a bush track

Of course I have to be fair, there’s less population in the average country town, and much of the residential area is close to the town centre and in walking distance, so it makes sense there would be less traffic, less constriction on the roads. For me, strolling the town, window shopping, being able to stop here and there to check out the local wares, is a welcome change. Just being able to move easily on the footpath is great.


Doesn’t this view make you want to escape to the country?

There’s usually great walking or sightseeing tracks around too! And these are normally not far out of town. Wide open spaces of parks, woodlands, dirt tracks that meander off the beaten track, taking you to unexpected treasures,  a cave, a rocky outcrop majestically sitting high above the landscape below, or a babbling stream flowing under wooden walk bridge on it’s way past the township.

I’ll never miss an Art Show or Exhibit if I’m in town. Some of Australia’s most famous Artists come from country beginnings – Two that come instantly to mind are Pro Hart &  Albert Namatjira. Often there is a museum. Some are nice new buildings, but most are refurbished homesteads or shops manned by volunteers.  I like that I can browse for ages in them – small towns get you in like that.

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New Release – BINDARRA CREEK MAKEOVER by S. E. Gilchrist

The first of an exciting anthology – A Bindarra Creek Romance

BindBindarra Creek Makeover v4 (533x800)arra Creek Makeover

On a collision course with the nightmare from her past, she never dared dream she’d find love.


Tessa Gibson reluctantly embarks on an elaborate plan to fund her escape from a dangerous collision with her past. With the help of an isolated country town and the government grant meant to rebuild it, she’ll secure new identities for her sickly daughter and herself. Desperate to escape the nightmare stalking them, it never enters her head she’ll fall in love – not only with a cop but an entire community that makes her feel like one of their own. With his career on shaky ground after his ex-partner is charged with fraud, Constable Dylan Myers (aka Dodge) returns to his hometown of Bindarra Creek. What he finds is a community struggling to survive. When an attractive young woman presents a proposal to the town council, his internal cop radar is activated. Something isn’t adding up about Tessa Gibson. No matter how much she makes his pulse race, Dodge doesn’t need or want any complications  – especially in his love-life, which is just fine as it is. But neither Tessa nor Dodge are a match for his grandmother and her CWA cronies. They’ve got their own ideas on how to draw new life to Bindarra Creek…and not even the monster from Tessa’s past will stop them.

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New Release by S. E Gilchrist

The latest release in S. E Gilchrist Darkon Series.


The first longTouringTheStars (534x800)-range star voyager will soon depart the Seven Galaxies on its quest to find Earth. Desperately in love with a Darkon warrior who appears oblivious to her existence, Elise has reserved a cabin. But before she leaves, she has one more thing she wants to do: bring some fun and light into the countless lives that have known only war. And if it gives her one last chance to try and win her warrior’s heart? Well, so much the better.

Commander Magar understands duty, and that the world might not be as safe as everyone hopes. Under the cover of providing security for the new rock band, Magar has orders to search for a renegade Elite captain – one who has no intention of coming quietly. But the close quarters with Elise, the woman who holds his heart – and the hearts of his daughters, makes keeping his mind on work increasingly difficult.

He may not be worthy of her heart, but that doesn’t stop him from craving it, along with her body and soul.

Escape Publishing, Amazon AU, iBooks, Nook, Amazon US, Amazon UK

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New Release from S.E Gilchrist

Cosmic Fire cover draft (3) (427x640)S.E Gilchrist has a new release out this month Book Two in her ‘The Mars Academy Series’


The Mission – find and claim a new earth

Ensign Dana Lawson of Sector Seven fire team on the star ship, Columbus, has one goal: her own command. On an exploratory mission to Alpha Centauri A, she has the opportunity to earn her stripes, but instead faces a challenge that threatens to send her plans up in smoke.
Rick Morgan, a guy with heartbreaker imprinted in his DNA, the warmest smile and the bluest eyes she’s ever seen, ignites a fire inside her heart. He is trouble, on every level…and he’s brought his dangerous past with him.
Now a saboteur has Dana and Morgan in his sights. Together, they must learn his identity before he strikes again and kills them both…or destroys the ship and everyone on board.

Available from:

Amazon US, Amazon AUS, Amazon UK

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New Release from Téa Cooper

Back to Blue Gum FlatOur member Téa Cooper has a new release out, ‘Return to Blue Gum Flat’.

Sometimes life in the fast lane veers off track and it’s time to take a break and regroup. After all a few weeks back home won’t change anything…or will it?
Going home wasn’t on the agenda, not part of Maddison Markham’s grand life plan but when the corporate rug is pulled a girl has no other choice.
Never mind it won’t be for long. It better not be. There’s nothing and no one in Blue Gum Flat that Maddison doesn’t know as well as the back of her own hand. She might well die of boredom.
But Blue Gum Flat is nothing like she remembers. New people, new attitudes and even a coffee machine. The old riding stables have been sold too – taken over by a man who looks more as though he belongs in the city than in the country…

Another heart-warming Australian rural romance from the author of The Journey Home and Tree Change.
Get your copy from Amazon now!!

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As a writer – what are your turning points?

To make great change in your life (whether by design or not) we pass through a number of key turning points. Writing focuses us to think about our characters’ turning points, big and small, which show change and growth.

We all have turning points in our own life, but what about the ones in our writing life? What were the pivotal moments that made you decide ‘yes, I’m home, this is for me’?

For this exercise I have followed Michael Hague’s list of Turning Points.

TURNING POINT #1: The Opportunity

Almost every second person you meet today states the age old dream that they have a book inside them. E-publishing has given everybody the chance to be a published author. The ease of e-publishing is a wonderful opportunity for everybody. Today, the only gatekeeper is your own fear.

You see an opportunity to fulfill a dream.

STAGE 2: The New Situation

The new situation begins the moment you sit down and write. You believe your enthusiasm, dreams and work ethic will see you through. This is a new place for you and you feel transformed by all the endless possibilities for you and your story.

Then you hit a few snags (you read your story) and a new reality emerges. After re-writing chapter one a couple of times, you have trouble working out which is the best version, you decide the best place for it is in a box under the bed. You know something is wrong with your story, but have no idea what to do about it.

To move to the next stage you need an unbiased opinion and so you begin the search for a critique partner, someone who can read your work with a clear and honest eye.

TURNING POINT #2: The Change of Plans

By now, you take a deep sigh. You can’t do write and critique on your own. You need help – you google and discover a whole new world and your writing problems appear to be solvable.

Oh, it’s so easy. You’re almost stymied with indecision because there is so much help available on-line. You strike a small bargain with yourself. You’re serious about wanting to write and the characters are still in your dreams. That has to mean something doesn’t it?

So, you join a writing group, find a critique partner and feel at last you’re on your way, and it feels good. You’ve made a positive and strategic move and have gathered a like-minded clan about you, a safe support group.

Strengthened with a new resolve, you decide seek out on-line writing groups, sign-up for writing blogs, and, most importantly, join a few on-line writing courses.

But as you read and learn the problems with your story grow.

STAGE III: Progress

This is a very difficult stage.

You struggle with following the on-line course recommendations and you have endless internal questions – am I a plotter or a pantser? Do I use a character wheel, a story board, or do I spend an afternoon brainstorming with a pen and paper? The choices are endless and you can’t decide what is best. You try them all, and during the process something happens.

You keep re-writing.

The questions keep persisting – can I re-write great scenes? How do I end my story? Where is the best place to start my story?

It is at this stage you are still able to avoid truly committing, because you hide behind the ‘learning’ phase. It’s a wonderful excuse not to produce anything to send out into the world. You want to be perfect and you’re not alone. The classes are full. In your heart you know you’re hiding behind the thought that there’s a lot to this writing gig and you want to be well-prepared. What better way to avoid the real task of writing than by spending time doing another writing course. But, it’s frustrating because you want to finish the story.

TURNING POINT #3: The Point of No Return

Somewhere along the way, beyond the frustrations of learning, re-writing and disappointment of some not so positive feedback from judges, something emerges – an unshakable belief. It is the final key, or the final act that locks commitment into your heart and head. You know right to your bones that you are fully committed to your writing goal.

You’re now prepared to do whatever it takes to write your story and get it published. You’re wiser about what is involved in terms of planning, focusing and working.

Somewhere deep down you’ve made a secret pact with yourself about what success means to you. It could be:

your first book sale;

becoming a NY Times bestseller;

winning a series contract; or

getting an agent.

STAGE IV: Complications and Higher Stakes

After many re-drafts you’re suffering. Tiredness, sacrifice and being selfish begin to take their toll. The world is full of tantalizing distractions and your family is the biggest one. You want and need to spend time with them so you send your completed story out into the world.

Your writing group gives you positive feedback and so does your critique partner. You pay for an independent editor to read it and you blush with the glowing remarks in their report, and quickly fix everything else. You send it to a publisher.

TURNING POINT #4: The Major Setback

Rejection – and for a few hours you sit tight before sharing this awful news. You know what has to be done. You do as any of your feisty characters would do – you straighten your back, look your problem in the eye and resolve to solve the issue.

STAGE V: The Final Push

It is here that the thought of getting published seems insurmountable. You’re blinded by love for your story – it’s perfect. You find it hard to sit down with your writer’s hat on and make it better.

But you do.

As months pass and the distractions mount (as does the guilt), you continue to work on your story and when satisfied, you again send it out into the world.

TURNING POINT #5: The Climax

You hear back – the feedback is positive and you get an offer (or two).

STAGE VI: The Aftermath

You sell your story and bask in the glory for a short time because another story beckons …

We all know the major turning points in our writing life, the ones that propelled us into unknown territory. And we have happily, willingly, carried on writing. I’ve written this piece so that you can recall your major turning point(s) where you decided ‘yes, this is it’, so that when times get difficult you can recall that moment and your resolve is strengthened.


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Ann B Harrison on Writing

Posted on behalf on Ann B Harrison

My fifteentCoastal_3_finalh book was release the other day and as I looked back over the last five years, I gave myself a pat on the back for being so determined to succeed and sticking to my guns even when the chips were against me.

When I started writing, I struggled with setting, characterization, POV (I still have days when this confuses me) and dangling modifiers. I took the comments and vivid colors slashed across my manuscript from my editor as part of the learning process and tried to do what they said. No point in being precious about it, they after all, are the experts and I was merely beginning.

I ran the gambit of publisher verses self publishing and after trying both, I find I’m  happier being my own publisher. Not saying I’ll never dip my toes in the publishers pond again, just not at this moment.

One of the comments I get often is, ‘You’re so lucky, being able to write fulltime.’Grady_CVR_LRG

Yep, I am. But that took a lot of work, a lot of early morning starts and late nights. You see, when I first started writing, I was working the same as anyone else. I did family day care from home which was a bonus. But along with that came the longer hours because I mainly cared for kids that came from mining families and they worked long shifts.

I would have a house full of joyous or screaming toddlers, depending on the moods and who got the swing first, babies who needed to be handled more than the others and parents coming and going at all hours. To top it off, I worked three nights a week at the local supermarket and every Saturday. Sunday was my only day off.

I was a busy person, no doubt about it. But you know what? My first two years writing, I managed to get twelve books out. Six with a publisher followed by six I self published. And if you’re thinking that many books a year can’t be good, two of them were ARRA finalists. Not bad for a beginner.

So, here’s the thing and the reason for this blog post. The ‘You’re so lucky’ bit. We are all pushed for time. I was and you probably are too. But if you have the dream, you have to feed it to keep it alive. You would be amazed how many words I wrote while those little darlings were having their afternoon nap. I generally bash out around one thousand words an hour. (My typewriter skills were learnt early on J). I would get up that little bit earlier so I could do a couple of pages before the kids arrived. Last thing at night I would knock over another couple of pages and Sunday – well, after family that was when things got hectic.

Hidden_CVR_LRGIf you have the dream, you’ll find the time and if you’re a procrastinator, you don’t have the want enough as far as I’m concerned. Someone once told me that all excuses are equal. It took me some time before I took that on board, but they were right. An excuse is just that, regardless of how good you try to make it.

The other thing I get asked about is writers block. Slap! Slap!

No such thing! Get over it people. Your brain works 24/7. It never sleeps so how is it possible to have writers block? The truth of the matter (IMHO) is you don’t like what your brain is coming up with. It hasn’t gone on holiday. Your muse isn’t missing. You just aren’t listening. Do you think that Nora Roberts gives into writers block? Hell no. Her famous saying is ‘You can fix a bad page but you can’t fix a blank page.’ If you worked in the supermarket, would you tell customers to go away and come back later because you didn’t have your checkout chick skills happening right now? No! You would do your job.

Some days I struggle getting my characters to talk to me but I push ahead anyway. I might write crap and it feels like pulling teeth to get those words on the page but I do it. Just try it and see. When you go back and look at it a week later, you might surprise yourself. I’ve written some great pages this way.

Excuse me while I go and get lucky some more with my characters because I haven’t finished my word target for the day and this blog doesn’t count toward it. See you after my 2k is done and dusted!


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In this day and age most of us have some sort of technology at our fingertips. Be it mobile phones with Internet access, computers, e-readers, laptops or ipads. And then there is the social media available. Facebook, twitter, You-tube, Goodreads and a host of other platforms for us to indulge in. So what happens when we find ourselves without this technology?

A couple of months ago I spent five days at Eden Health Retreat in the Currumbin Valley near Queensland’s Gold Coast. Eden is known as a place to nurture your mind, body and spirit, away from the hustle and bustle of our busy lives and our reliance on technology. There is no mobile service or Internet and you are encouraged to leave your laptop at home. Now for those who are desperate, there is a landline and computer available at the office. There are also several locations on top of mountains that you just might get your phone to work, but I couldn’t be bothered going to all that trouble.

I decided to embrace the whole experience and it did me wonders. I got right into Qi gong and the many activities and challenges. The food was delicious and of course healthy, but what I liked best was the way everyone spoke and connected with each other.

How often do you take a train or bus and see other passengers’ texting or playing on their phones, or reading from their devices. No one talks anymore. I’m astounded when I go out to dinner with my husband to a nice restaurant and see people sitting opposite each other but not talking. They’re busy on their phones. What happened to the art of conversation? Who are you missing out on meeting because your eyes are glued to a device instead of the world around you?

Having said this, I love where technology has taken us, and the fact it has opened up a huge world for me as a writer. I use social media frequently and the Internet is invaluable for my research. But I think the occasional break is good for the soul and it worries me that future generations may lose the art of face–to-face communication.

It is almost Christmas so I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday with those you love around you. Good food, good wine and good company. Put your phones away and enjoy each other. Smile at a stranger, wish someone a good day and most of all cherish your loved ones. Have a little break from technology.

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Posted on behalf on Kariss Stone


There’s nothing like adding those extra layers of pasta, mince and cheese on a lasagne to make it chunkier and more hunger-fulfilling.

Lasagne photo



Or layering a sandwich with all sorts of salad ingredients to make it tastier.



Or going to the hairdressers to get your hair layered, to give it more bounce around your face.

Layered hair wig


Or layering on a collage artwork by sticking all sorts of different materials over the coat of paint.

And the list can go on.

Now I’m no cook or hairdresser or artist, and unfortunately I can’t afford to eat Subway every day, so what am I getting at here?

Okay, so as we are all writers and readers, if you haven’t guessed it, the layering I’m talking about is layering of your novel, from first draft to published draft. Layering to add more to the story. Bringing in emotion in the areas of your story that require it, setting the scene, engaging your readers.



Now every writer approaches a story they write from scratch very differently. If you’re like me, the very first draft is just whatever comes into your head and it can read pretty woefully. But then you do a second draft, third draft etc until you hopefully have a story that only needs minor touch ups or edits from a publisher.

I find layering of a novel quite interesting, and thought I’d use something out of my current WIP to illustrate my point. So first you lay down the slab of your story (in my case a very bad slab!)

First draft

He brings the cocktails over to the lounge area and hands her the strawberry Daiquiri, before sitting next to her. He turns her way and looks at her like so many other times he’s looked at her, when they’d been together, that he likes her, likes her company. The attraction is still there.

Second draft

He brings the cocktails over to the lounge area and hands her the strawberry Daiquiri, his fingers brushing hers, Turning her way, he looks at her with desire in his eyes, reminding her of those other times he’s looked at her like that, when they’d been together. The attraction is still there.

Rewrites made:

  • Adding ‘his fingers brushing hers’ which uses the sense of touch
  • ‘He turns her way and looks at her’ to ‘Turning her way, he looks at her’
  • Adding ‘with desire in his eyes, reminding her of…’ Now we’re starting to add in a layer of emotion. We know how he feels about her.
  • Changing ‘like so many other times he’s looked at her, when they’d been together, that he liked her, likes her company’




‘reminding her of those other times he’s looked at her like that, when they’d been together. The attraction is still there.

Which cuts down on some unnecessary words, but of course there’s still work to be done on this particular sentence.


  • Deleting ‘he likes her’, to cut down on the ‘telling’ aspect, and because it’s not necessary. The reader knows he’s attracted to her because of the last sentence.


Fourth draft

With a satisfied look on his face like he’s pleased she acquiesced to having cocktails at midday, he brings the cocktails over to the lounge area and hands her the strawberry Daiquiri. His fingers brush over hers as he does, the sudden touch of warmth on her cool hands is very welcoming. Then he sits next to her and turns her way. There’s desire in his eyes. Desire, still, for her.

Rewrites made:

  • Adding ‘with a satisfied look on his face like he’s pleased she acquiesced to having cocktails at midday’ which once again brings in a layering of emotion, and we also know what time of the day it is.
  • Adding ‘the sudden touch of warmth on her cool hands is very welcoming’ so it becomes more than just fingers brushing, we know his fingers are warm, and her hands are cold and she likes him touching her. Brings the reader more into the scene.
  • Rewriting the last couple of sentences to improve the pace, shows his desire, rather than just telling the reader he desires her.


And so it goes on – where in future drafts you can bring in a bit more of the setting, add more physical reactions and/or internal thoughts, and/or more emotion, and make other changes if necessary, until you get the final draft.


Final draft

With a satisfied look on his face, as if pleased she acquiesced to having cocktails at midday, he brings the glasses over to the lounge area. Okay, you got me with the cocktails mate. I just hope that lasagne won’t take too long to cook. I shouldn’t be drinking alcohol on an empty stomach.

When he hands her the Strawberry Daiquiri as he sits down, his fingers deliberately brush over hers and his eyes pin her in place. Well, the intensity in his dark gaze, and the sudden touch of his warm fingers on her cool hands causes her breath to catch in her throat. The action is so unexpected, yet so thrilling. Turning her way, his lips are curved in that sexy, knowing smile she loves, his eyes sparking desire the way they always have. Desire for her. Even after all this time.


© Kariss Stone


You know I think that’s one of the most satisfying things about writing, getting to the finished product, seeing how your story has developed through layering and other writing techniques.


Now I’d better get back to that several-layered lasagne my beautiful partner has made, oh, and then I’d better go and start practicing what I preach! J

























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