Blackbird Falling by Em Shotwell


Series: The Blackbird Series (Book 2)
Release Date: October 30th, 2018
Author: Em Shotwell


Meet Delia. Gifted. Magical. Broken.

Hell hath no fury like Delia Caibre—Gifted single mom with the power to make people love her, and a chip on her shoulder the size of the Mississippi. In BLACKBIRD FALLING, Em Shotwell takes us back to the fictional town of Brooklyn, Mississippi to visit the Gifted Caibre clan, this time to tell little sister, Delia’s story.

It’s been a year since the tragedies of Shotwell’s Blackbird Summer, and things seem to have finally settled down, but when a monster from Delia’s past reappears and threatens everything, and everyone, she loves, it will take the most powerful in the Caibre family to put things right. But bringing Delia’s broken family together may prove impossible, even if not doing so means their destruction.

Available everywhere October 30th. Be sure to ask for it at your local library and favorite book shop!

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Em Shotwell invites you to help her launch her latest book, BLACKBIRD FALLING. The launch will be hosted on November 9th, 2018 by Conundrum Books in St. Francisville, Louisiana. Em will happily sign books and answer questions. Check out Conundrum Books online for more info (
Em will be speaking about her writing process and answering book questions at the Zachary branch of the Baton Rouge Public library on December 12th. For more information, please contact the library at (225) 658-1840.


Once and For All

“How hard must I try
To put my dreams aside
And open your eyes so you’ll realize
Once and for all

That the fear, the Fear is worse than the fall…”

-“The Fear is Worse Than the Fall”– Leauxco

Two local bands are featured in Running on Empty when Grace and Gabe take a road trip to Lafayette. Those bands are Destination Sanity and Leauxco. When it came time to plan a release party for ROE, I asked Neil Ray if his band would like to come play for the party. And they did.

All the Boonie books are titled after songs, “Tangled up in You” is a song by Staind. “Running on Empty” is a popular song by Jackson Browne. I had already started the third novel in the series, but had tentatively titled in “Everything Changes”. That’s also by Staind, and I was definitely feeling like two songs by the same artist were a bit overkill.

During the evening, Neil Ray, the lead singer, says, “Alisha, you need to name one of your books after this song. When he started singing, I knew then that “The Fear is Worse Than the  Fall” would be the inspiration for Carly and Joey’s story. It describes perfectly what is keeping the two lovebirds apart. Fear, plain and simple. It also plays into Carly’s constant search for her fairy tale ending. Will Carly get her happily ever after, “once and for all”? Well, we’ll just have to see about that.

Once and For All 

Chapter One


Saturday September 27th
4 days until landfall
Bon Chance, Louisiana
Carly Devereaux rolled over in bed, one eye opening to see the time on the clock on her nightstand.

The red light shone 10:00 a.m.

She groaned and started to get up. Sammie, her fat and ancient weenie dog thumped a heavy tail under the blankets. Probably hoping to get another half hour or day of sleep.
Carly pulled the sheets back, “Come on lazy. We have to get up. We have a party to get ready for.”

Carly managed Snapper’s, the bar and grill that she owned with her brother, Noah, and best friend, Joey. They had opened it a couple of years ago, after their younger brother, Benjamin had been killed in an oilfield accident.

Tonight was a big birthday party for Tessa, one of the bar’s regulars and Carly needed to be there to make sure everything was ready. She had already decorated, but there were a few last minute things to take care of. Jello shots to make. Extra beer to stock. The food, her roommate Joey would make. She was a hot mess in the kitchen. But, Carly would need to make sure there was adequate plates, silverware, etc.

As she thought about food, she smelled bacon cooking. Her stomach growled. Sammie, who was still half under the blankets, flopped around and stood up.

Carly laughed and patted her on the head, “Yeah, that bacon gets you going every time, doesn’t it?”

A hearty ear flop was her answer.

Carly picked the dog up and placed her on the floor. She did a little dance around Carly’s legs as they walked to the door.

The tip tap of the dog’s feet accompanied Carly’s footsteps as she walked through the house the she and Joey had shared since she returned from Biloxi.

She reached the open kitchen that Joey and her brother, Noah, had remodeled recently, and her heart started doing that weird flutter thing it had been doing for the past few months.

Her friend, her best friend, Joey, was at the stove wearing only pajama pants. His hips swayed slightly to the Cajun music playing on the streaming radio station. His hair dark hair was rumpled. When he turned and he flashed that dimpled smile at her, she had to look away to keep herself from throwing herself in his arms.

Instead, she crossed the kitchen and poured herself a cup of coffee.
Sammy, that bitch, trotted over to Joey and placed a paw on his bare foot. She rolled over on her back, kicking her tiny legs up in the air. She was rewarded with a tummy rub and piece of bacon.

“C’mon Sammy, let’s go out,” Carly said as she walked over to the door. She opened the door and the dog pranced out. Carly carried her under one arm and held her coffee in the other hand down the steps of the raised house. She plopped down on the bottom step, and looked out at the gulf while Sammy sniffed around the grass.

Carly couldn’t see the water from where they were, but it was a short walk.

“C’mon Sammy,” she said, and the little dog took off, ready to go on an adventure.
Reaching the beach, Carly plopped down, her coffee mug still in hand. She continued to sip while Sammy along the water’s edge, nose to the sand, looking for something. Carly had long ceased wondering what the dog was on the hunt for.

The heavy clouds were shades of gray and navy blue. It was hard to see where the clouds ended and the water began. White surf churned and splashed against the sand.

A storm was brewing.

Carly frowned and took a sip of her coffee. A cold breeze blew off the water, and she shivered.

She thought of Joey and her reaction to him in the kitchen. The same feelings she’d been fighting for months now.

The ocean wasn’t the only thing in turmoil.

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Hypnotize the Moon

Finalist_LP_ROMANCESHORTI’m so excited that my short story has been chosen as a finalist for a Reader’s Choice Award! I really enjoyed writing this story, and being able to add to Emily and Noah’s story was fun too. It’s exciting to see those two grow personally and as a couple. Adding in a hot set of brothers was a definite bonus as well.

As always when I write, there’s particular songs that I listen to as I write certain scenes. As I wrote the scene with Gemma and Jasper dancing in the moonlight, I listened to this country classic by Clay Walker.  I hope you enjoy the song and the scene it inspired.

If you’d like to vote for “Blue Jeans and Gemstones’, I’m including the link. Thanks so much!


“She shines like a diamond when she walks into a room….”


Craving Country


Gemma took a deep breath and inhaled the wonderful earthy smell that could only be found in South Louisiana. Music played from the bar’s jukebox, light music that blended in with the soft sounds of splashing water, the singing of the frogs, and other sounds of the night.

She rested her hands on the wooden railing and looked out at the stars that sparkled on the still water.

“Gorgeous,” she said.

“I agree.” Gemma turned then to see Jasper looking at her.

“Like diamonds,” he said. He reached out and tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear.

As if on cue, an old country song about diamonds and the moon started playing.

Jasper held out his hand, and she took it.

They moved slowly to the music, a bit awkwardly at first, as most couples do when they’re just getting to know each other.

He tugged her closer, her body pressed against his. “Like a gem, she sparkles,” his smooth voice sang close to her ear. She shivered.

The bastard chuckled and pulled her even closer, and she let him, enjoying the feel of him.

The music trailed off, and an old Southern rock staple began playing, but they paid no attention to the new music.

When he stopped dancing, she looked up, lost in his stormy blue eyes. He lowered his head to hers. When their lips touched, any chill that was in her body was instantly burned out. She was on fire. His lips moved slowly over hers, softly exploring, teasing. Her hands drifted from his shoulders to feel the expanse of his broad back. She explored the rippling muscles under the soft fabric of his shirt.

The sound of someone clearing their throat brought them both back to reality. Sheepishly, she looked away, stepping back and turning again toward the water.

Craving Country is always 99 cents on Amazon! 

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Tangled up in You

“How long has it been since this storyline began…”

“When did you start writing?”

It’s one of the questions I get asked most when I tell people I’m an author. The real answer, is that I started writing when I was in the ninth grade in Linda Riggs’ class. I’d sit in the back and write my stories after I had finished my English classwork. My first novel? A really, really, bad story I called Summer Love. It was about a girl going to summer camp and finding her first love. I kept that manuscript in a box for I don’t know how long. But after a few moves, it’s history.

I wrote off and on after that. I never finished anything. I’d start one idea, play with it, work on it, and then another idea would hit and I’d abandon that one. One day, I just simply stopped writing altogether.

About ten years ago, I met someone who would become a great friend of mine. I was hanging out one night at a place I used to like to go to. We talked about writing, and he wrote me a poem on a bar napkin. I told him I’d write a poem back, and I did. A really horrible one, I’m sure. Today, I don’t even remember what it was about.

It did spark something in me and I started playing with words again. I found out about this thing called National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and I set out on a journey to write a novel in thirty days. I didn’t make it. But, I did start this wonderful story about this girl named Carly, this guy named Joey, and the Redbird Inn.

I set that story aside, but I never really forgot it.

A couple of years later, I was bartending and a friend of mine brought me a newspaper clipping about a story contest for a writer’s conference. All I had to do was write the opening scenes of a novel. That seemed easy enough. It was only a couple thousand words. So, I did it. I started the story of a woman who was tired of her alcoholic husband and the damage he was doing to not only his life, but hers as well.

I sent it off. Went to the conference. And won third place. I was ecstatic.

And motivated enough to finish the novel. I titled it Crossroads.

I finished this one, but it wasn’t the end for this story. I re-wrote it. Submitted it. Recieved rejection after rejection. I eventually put it away and started the second novel.

In 2014, I decided to give it a try one more time. If nothing happened this time, I was going to quit. I dusted it off, literally, and read through it again. I sent it out to some readers who had some pretty tough words for me. I was going to have to rework it. Again. Determined, I learned everything I could about story structure and mapping. I made a huge poster on my wall and moved the scenes around until it flowed. That poster is still on my office wall.

As I worked on it, I would listen to music. Every time that Aaron Lewis’ “Tangled up in You” came on, I would think that if Emily and Noah had a song, that would be it. When I started submitting the novel again, it not only had been completely redone, it had a new title as well.

I participated in PitMad on Twitter that summer. A publisher I’d never heard of before, Limitless Publishing, liked my Tweet, and I guess you could say that the rest is history. The story that started so many years ago, finally found a home.

And I haven’t quit writing since….


I’m out!

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Holding on to Someday by K. Leah

Holding on to Someday

By: K. Leah

“An amazing debut novel from author K. Leah. A heartfelt, heartwarming story that would make a fantastic Hallmark movie! Clara and Brady are a sweet couple you can’t help but cheer for.”



Clara had it all planned out… graduate from college, get married, find her dream job and start a family of her own. When she met Drew during her senior year of college, she was certain he was the Prince Charming she had been waiting for, the one to complete her fairytale life. Turns out life had different plans.

Now a single, middle-aged workaholic, Clara has poured herself into building her career, and those dreams of finding love have taken a backseat to her success. She’s been holding out for someday, but when that day finally comes… will she follow her heart or will fate step in yet again?

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About the Author:

K. Leah is a writer of sweet romance. She is a hopeless romantic who loves a happily ever after. She grew up in the South and wears many hats including being a wife and mom, and she also likes to dabble in graphic design.

Follow K. Leah on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest & Twitter @ kleahbooks



Where There’s Hope by Marianne Rice

Where There’s Hope, a Well Paired Novel by Marianne Rice
Release date: May 29, 2018
Genre: Contemporary romance/romantic women’s fiction

WTH Teaser 4


Hope Windward’s life in Crystal Cove, Maine is comfortable, if not predictable. The small town has always been her safe haven, until Cameron Smithfield—the man who killed her daughter’s father—shows up. Now the stranger she’s hated from afar is working to become the town’s favorite citizen.

Cameron Smithfield’s life went horribly wrong the night he killed his brother in a car accident. After a decade in prison, he’s ready to make amends and do everything he can for his niece. There’s only one problem with his plan, he can’t seem to get past her mother’s protective instincts. While he’s not surprised by Hope’s guard dog instincts, he is surprised at the connection he feels with his brother’s old flame.

Hope doesn’t want to feel anything for Cameron, but his heart-melting smile and genuine affection for her daughter have a way of breaking through her carefully guarded emotions. That is, until her worst fear comes true, and all fingers point to Cameron. Now, Hope has to decide if she’s going to believe the evidence, or trust the newfound love within her heart.


The front door opened before his foot touched the front step. Hope’s welcoming smile lit up the front stoop, and he did all he could to keep from picking her up in his arms and covering her mouth with his.

Those lips, though. Julia Roberts had nothing on Hope Windward.

“Hey,” she said coyly, her voice wrapped around his heart, giving it a gentle squeeze he hadn’t felt since he was a young boy.

“You’re beautiful.”

Hope looked down at her feet then back up at him, scrunching her nose in that adorable manner she did when she was confused. “I’m wearing jeans and a sweater.”

“I didn’t notice.” And he hadn’t. It was her rich hazel eyes and her sunshiny sparkle that brightened his dark world. She wore her hair down tonight, soft ribbons of dark blonde hair flowing just past her shoulders. Hair he longed to run his fingers through.
Cameron walked up the steps, stopping in the open doorway.

“Well, I’m noticing you. And you look very handsome. I don’t know what I like better, though. Sexy whiskers or the soft skin.”

Cameron rubbed his cheeks with his fingers. He’d shaven tonight for her family, thinking the clean look was more presentable to her parents and her daughter than the usual scruff on his face.

“You name it, beautiful, and I’ll do it.”

Hope raised an eyebrow and her gaze dropped to his lips. “You should probably come in and meet my parents first, don’t you think?”

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“You’re Gonna Hear Me Roar”

I was driving home the other night and Katy Perry’s song, “Roar” came on. I, of course, had to turn it up and sing right along with it. This song has always been special to me because it inspired a scene for Running on Empty. In Running on Empty, Grace who sings in a band in the beginning, loses her voice because of something traumatic that has happened to her. Every time she gets up to perform, she has a panic attack. As the story progresses, her friend Noah, starts talking with her and their visits help her to find her inner strength again. When Grace’s voice comes back, it comes back with a vengeance. She “Roars”. It’s one of my favorite scenes so far in the Boonie books. Here’s the scene.

From Running on Empty

“That’s right. You never! But maybe you should. Life is about living, and enjoying it.” As soon as the words came out, Grace knew she was done with this job. At this point, if she was going down, she was going down in the proverbial flames. She was done with hiding. She was going to live again.

“Guess what?” she asked loud enough for the kids milling around to hear. “Looks like your Ms. Delchamp will be performing on this float. Let’s load up, kids. It’s time.”

She hiked her skirt up a wee bit more and went to the DJ stand manned by Mr. Benoit.

“I’ll take that mic,” she said. While he readied the music and the float began to roll, Grace took the red lipstick she often wore on stage out of her bag and applied it. She added a dash of lip gloss and teased her hair a bit more for good measure.

When the first song began to play, Grace felt a flash of fear. She nodded her head in time with the introduction. Then, when it was time for the vocals, without hesitation, Grace began to sing.


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Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

(Let the good times roll!)

I’m originally from a small town in Oklahoma, so I didn’t grow up with Mardi Gras. In fact, all I knew about it was what I had seen on television. That, of course, meant Bourbon Street and all its debauchery. The Sin City of the South.

I had wanted to visit New Orleans, though, ever since I read Interview With the Vampire. I fell in love with the town from Anne Rice’s description, and her own passion for the Crescent City. So, when I had my first chance to go, I jumped on it. It just so happened it was during Mardi Gras, and one of the biggest parades, Endymion.

That was twenty years ago, and I remember it like it was yesterday. Well, maybe not yesterday, but definitely not like its been twenty years. I can feel the warm sun on my face. Smell the scent that is so New Orleans, a little of earth and a little of trash. (It was Mardi Gras). We walked the Quarter that day, and I was amazed. I was astounded that so many people could fit into one street.

I think this small-town girl’s eyes were open wide all-day long. (It was Mardi Gras.) Everything you see on television is true. But, I loved every minute of it. In my life, I had never experienced anything quite like that.

And then, the sun went down, and the parade started. I stood there, neon green alien cup in one hand, the other hand raised to catch whatever they were throwin’. The floats were breathtaking, all lit up like the Vegas strip, with celebrities on them and everything. Ian Ziering, from Beverly Hills 90210 just happened to be on one float and I think I swooned just a little. Maybe it was Ian, maybe it was whatever was in the alien drink, I don’t know. (It was Mardi Gras.)

At the end, neck heavy with beads, I’m sure my grin was as bright as the lights on the floats. The memory still makes me smile.

Twenty years later, I’m living right in the heart of Cajun Country and I still love Mardi Gras. There’s something about it that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s the joi de vivre, the excitement of the catch, the anticipation. I’ve ridden in parades, and I actually rented an apartment for years because it was near the parade route. Have I been back to New Orleans? Many, many times. Have I been back for the parades? No. I much prefer the laid-back atmosphere of Lafayette.

Fat Tuesday is coming up, so that means it’s once again, time to laissez les bon temps rouler!


I’m out!

A Boonie New Year’s Eve

Mark Twain

I love New Year’s Eve, there’s something about saying goodbye to the old and ringing in the new. It’s no surprise that I have scenes that take place during this time of the year. This is one of my favorites, one from Running on Empty. Enjoy!

New Year’s Eve

Grace and Gabe walked into Snapper’s. Carly’s eyes lit up as she saw the two come in. She hurried from behind the bar to envelop them in hugs.

Joey came in the bar through the swinging wooden doors that separated the bar from the kitchen area. “Grace!” He, too, came around from behind the bar to shake Gabe’s hand, then he hugged Grace close. He left his hands on her arms so he could take a good look at her. Seeing her happy, the anger in her face gone, he smiled and hugged her close again.

“Austin’s been good to you,” Carly said.

Grace smiled and looked at Gabe. “Yes, yes, it has.”

“Did you text Ryder? What about Em and Noah?”

“They’re all coming,” Grace said.

Emily and Noah were the first to arrive. Then Ryder. Soon they were all gathered around the corner of the bar. The guys were playing pool, and Carly, who had ended her day shift, had taken charge of playing the jukebox. It was all like old times.

Cheech, as they all called him, approached the girls who sat in the corner, surrounded by whichever guys weren’t playing pool at the moment. Always the protective barrier.

“Hey, ladies,” he said. “Wanna hear some music?”

“Would love to,” Carly said, “but I have an idea. Why don’t we get Gabe and Grace to play a few? Would you guys do that? We’d love to hear y’all play.”

Gabe glanced at Grace, who nodded. “I’ll go get the guitars,” said Gabe.

“I’ll hook up the sound system,” said Grace.

Gabe stepped out to get the guitars and gear. Ryder set down his pool cue and came over to her.

“You look good, Grace,” he said.

“I feel good,” she said.

He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek. He took his black cowboy hat off and shoved it on her head. “Good.”

She leaned in and rested her head on his chest for a moment. Then looked up at him. “Thank you,” she said.

“No thanks necessary. Now, get that ass up there and sing. We’ve missed that voice.”

Grace and Gabe made quick work of the equipment and soon were sitting on the makeshift stage of Snapper’s.

“First up, we’re going to play an original song that Gabe and I have been working on. You guys are going to be the first to hear it,” Grace said into the mic. She motioned to Gabe, and he began to play.

After a few chords from Gabe’s guitar, Grace began to sing, “Deepest are the wounds without a scar at all.”

It was a slow song. Emily grabbed Noah and they headed to the area in front of the band that was used as a dance floor. Carly grabbed Joey. And Ryder, not to be left out, found Allison.

Grace’s eyes met Gabe’s, and she smiled.

Want to read more of Grace and Gabe’s story? Buy Running on Empty on