Liz Durano

A 2020 First! A New Book!

Well, I did it! I released my first book for 2020 and that is HUGE for me. It’s a novella at 25k words but it’s still a HUGE deal for me and so I’m celebrating.

How?

I’m spending it home because after two weeks of dodging whatever the boys were taking home with them from work or school, I woke up yesterday with a sore throat and I don’t feel too good. So I’m spending the day at home and celebrating my release with a cuppa! I did start with a cup of ginger tea and honey but I need my coffee so…

I just realized it’s also been a while since I blogged so here’s my recap of January so far. I didn’t do much other than write this book which was originally supposed to be about one couple’s Valentine celebration. A slice-of-life, basically. Easy 7k words, I figured.

Then I decided to make it about FIVE couples because I told myself, “Nah, that’s easy. Just five stories. How hard can it be?”

How hard?

Oy vey.

Well, if all I had to do was write erotica pieces, it would have been easy peasy. Just do 1,000 words of setup and then go straight to the sexy times. But because I was writing about couples who had their own books already, there’s back story—lots of back story—and now we’re basically just catching up with them since we last saw them in their respective books.

Tying together five stories spanning 24 hours while they’re all in the same location wasn’t as easy as I thought but since this year, I told myself I would face challenges with a positive mindset, I took a deep breath, put on my big girl panties and told myself, “well, no one twisted your arm to write about FIVE couples…”

When it was all over, it felt like I’d just spent the best time with ten of my favorite people in the world. It was tough, yes, but it also helped me get over a few losses from the past year. Loss of my creativity, loss of trust, loss of faith in humanity. In my stories, I started to find them, little glimpses here and there that have helped me process those and many other losses. Also fear.

So while Nothing but Love isn’t a full novel, it’s five short stories with a lot of heart and soul… and sexy times to boot! They go from 2/5 jalapeño hot to 4/5 jalapeño heat levels. I couldn’t go all the way to 5/5 jalapeños because, well, I just couldn’t go there with this book. I’ll reserve that for Naughty Pen!

Before I end this post so I can hit Publish (you have no idea how many posts I write and forget to hit Publish and so they sit in Draft forever!), here’s the inspiration for the title of the book. I’d always wanted the title to go to one of the side characters Gabe but it always escaped me when the time came. Until the idea for this book came to me…

Have an awesome week!

No More Net… or Happy Book Birthday, Harlow and Dax!

Three years ago this month, I released my fourth book. It was a story that had been percolating inside my head about an older woman who falls in love with a much younger man. Originally planned as a novella, one that would have tons of funny and steamy scenes, it would end up taking a different road all its own the moment I sat down to write the first chapter.

I didn’t even know the heroine’s name that night in May. I just knew that she was on some kind of vacation in the Southwest, a place I’d been to in the past and had fallen in love with. There was just one catch.

This was one vacation she planned never to return from.

And so the original steamy lighthearted novella turned into something different but one that I realized was a story I wanted so badly to write. I had to write it like my life depended on it.

Around this time, I had already written three books, all of them commercial failures. I had been so close to quitting writing altogether and heaven knows what my friends and family thought of me and my sad attempt at being a writer. But something inside me decided to give it one more try. One more book.

One more story.

And so, I quit my massage teaching job that summer. I still had my main private practice even if it had already been cut back from five days a week to two days a week because of my son’s schedule which only made childcare costs more expensive because now I was paying per day instead of a monthly rate.

At this point, I’d lost whatever confidence I once had about being a decent writer. I really had no idea if I was good enough or not. I had no idea if the story would resonate with anyone outside of Wattpad (where I was posting each chapter). But I had to try. Quitting my teaching job which I had relied on for that extra boost of income was also that message to myself that said, no more net. Now show them what you got even if you have to bare your soul to do it.

For days and weeks after the book was done, I was so scared of letting it go. If I could have delayed the release, I would have simply because the book, to me, was too raw and too honest in parts. I had also changed my pen name and so people were basically seeing a brand new author at this point. Just another wannabe writer trying her hand in the author world.

But life has a way of reminding you that you’re on the right path. The singer-songwriter whose two songs inspired the book granted me his permission to include lyrics to one of the songs when I saw him perform in Los Angeles two weeks before the release, prompting me to go back and do those additions just in time.

There was no turning back now.

And so if my math is correct, October marks the third book birthday for Dax and Harlow’s story, Everything She Ever Wanted. It marked the official debut for my main pen name and it would remind me that you can’t sit back and wait for things to happen. You have to take that first step and put yourself out there.

You have to go after your dream, share your stories with those who need to read them and do it again and again and again.

I also learned that you do need to set a series bible and timeline but that’s a story for another day…

In the meantime, the ebook version of Everything She Ever Wanted is FREE for a limited time. It’s also available in paperback and audiobook.

When her husband leaves her for a younger woman, transplant surgeon Harlow James hits the open road and ends up in Taos, New Mexico hoping to find out where she went wrong.

Instead, she finds the perfect man.

Master woodworker Dax Drexel is gorgeous, funny, and represents every reason to keep going.

There’s only one problem: he’s too young.

But even if everything about Dax is perfect, can their fling stand a chance against the world that betrayed her… the same world she’s about to return to?

For Dax, a naked woman asleep in his bed when he thought his rental would have been available is the last thing he expected to find on his day off.

He could walk away… but he can’t.

For there’s something about Harlow James that he just can’t turn away from.

Sure, she’s thirteen years older than him, but she’s smart, independent, and beautiful.

She’s also broken.

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Book Review: Coyote Dream by Jessica Stein-Davis

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There’s nothing like the feeling of discovering a book you can’t put down or stop thinking about and Coyote Dream by Jessica Davis-Stein is one of them. I read it in one evening two nights ago and boy, do I wish I had taken my time. So I am giving it a second go-around with the audiobook and I’m loving it as much as I did the first time.

Here’s the synopsis:

For Sarah Friedman – smart, sophisticated, urban woman – the chance to journey to the Southwest to buy American Indian art for her family’s successful New York store comes at a time of personal transition. Determined to put aside romantic disappointments, she seeks new perspectives in the serenity of the vast desert landscape. Then her car breaks down on a remote part of the Navajo reservation and fastpaced Sarah finds herself stranded in a slow brown world.

After years of turmoil, Ben Lonefeather has finally gained control of his life. Aloof and tightly wound, he devotes his time to work and caring for the coyotes he rescued as pups. When Sarah Friedman shows up stranded he wants to get rid of her as quickly as possible, and only grudgingly offers help.

The intersection of two lives that would not ordinarily have crossed for more than a moment deepens into a connection that leaves both of them passionately alive and profoundly changed. Within a layered collision of social spheres, Coyote Dream explores the tension between society’s surface and nature’s undercurrent.

This is a thoughtfully written multi-faceted love story about two people from different worlds and how the heart wants what it wants even if time, distance, and society’s expectations keep them apart. It’s about living your life on your own terms even if it means stepping out of everything you’ve always known. And that’s pretty much all I can say about it without spoiling anything.

You can find Coyote Dream at your favorite retailer by clicking this link: https://books2read.com/coyotedream

This is the only book that Los Angeles-based author Jessica Davis-Stein published and I’m sorry to learn that she passed away early this year. You can read her short stories and her blog posts on her blog here.

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Double Life #teasertuesday

Other Side of Love is the story of Sarah and Benny from A Different Kind of Love series. I can’t seem to work on anything but their story so I’m going to run with it. The events in their story happens ten years before Everything She Ever Wanted.

Celebrating Back to School with 100+ FREE ROMANCE READS!

Yup, ya heard me.

100+ FREE ROMANCE BOOKS for your Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Apple Books or Google Play ebook reader!

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And yes, LilDude is back at school TODAY.

I’m so happy I’m going to go on a hike and lose some weight.

Musings Over Coffee: I’m a Hot Mess

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Another hot day here in Southern California and I’m still a hot mess without a Macbook to work with. I’d ordered a used iMac from a third party but it arrived damaged and so I had to return it and I’m still waiting for my refund to show up on my bank account. In the meantime, my MacBook is supposed to be ready to be picked up today. They’re just doing more tests on it to make sure everything is back to normal.

I guess I must have downloaded a virus or some kind of malware because they said the solid state drive was wiped clean so whatever I didn’t back up to the cloud is gone. I figured if I don’t remember what it was then I don’t need it (crossing my fingers). But it is what it is. I would love to get a brand new MacBook but I hate that all new Apple devices from what I’ve heard are designed to be tossed away. And given the state of affairs of the world where we have enough trash to contend with, I’m not a fan of that. No way you can simply upgrade stuff inside it like you used to (unless you go only to a certified Apple technician), and that’s why I’m not buying a brand new one yet. They’re also over a thousand dollars and with my book income on life support, even with a healthy credit limit, I just couldn’t push that Buy button.

But I’m still here. I’m surviving #firstworldproblems

I do have the HP Stream laptop I bought two years ago when DH needed to practice with Excel but never did and so it’s been sitting around with its barely there memory (32g) that you can’t even upgrade the operating system without first deleting everything. Well, I did just that and inserted an SD card as was recommended and almost bricked the thing. But luckily I was able to restore it to its system settings without all the bloatware that HP had included when I originally purchased it and so far, so good.

So, yes, I’ve had a crash course in Windows after switching exclusively to Apple products since 2006. And I still can’t write with the thing because my stories are ALL written in iOS apps like Ulysses and so I end up writing them on my iPad. It can be done and I have been writing but there are still a few limitations. I’ve also started uploading my files directly to Google Docs so that my editor can take a look at my WIP since I’m really behind everything.

How behind? According to TimeandDate.com, it’s been 163 days since I last published. That’s four months. Yikes!

But you know what?! The LilDude goes back to school in TWO DAYS!!!!

By the way, if you’ve read this far, Everything She Ever Wanted is $0.99 this week. It’s also part of a $0.99 weekend sale that ends today! Check out other books that go from sweet to steamy!

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Musings Over Coffee: A New Look!

One of my books got a bit of a facelift this week! The same guy, just looking the other way and a new title. And a few new promo images for social media because… well, it was due. I’ve ignored poor Roxy and Kodi enough since their release day in March.

But not anymore!

I’ve changed the title and spiffed up the blurb. It’s short and to the point. A feel-good quick romance for those summer days hanging out by the pool!

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EVERY GOOD THING

A Friends to Lovers Romance

What happens when you end up with your own trending hashtag?

For Roxy Porter, you try to salvage what’s left of your nursing career by agreeing to billionaire Kodi Donovan’s suggestion that they pretend to be engaged… just until the trend dies down.

But pretending to be something you’re not, it turns out, isn’t as easy as it looks… especially when feelings between them become real.

FREE IN KINDLE UNLIMITED

Book Review: The Waiting Room by Alysha Kaye

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“We’d always promised that when our wrinkles sagged across the surface of every one of our limbs, we’d find a way to say sayonara to the world together. (But) I was too early. I left her—her worst fear.” – The Waiting Room by Alysha Kaye

This was an interesting love story, one that grabbed me from the moment I read the description. It’s about fate, love, reincarnation, and the choices we make with each life and even the ones that come after and in-between. It’s metaphysical and philosophical, definitely not your typical love story or romance which means it’s also miscategorized in the Amazon store, which is unfortunate because that means it’s invisible, algorithm-wise.

Yes, they have their happily ever after but not before Jude ends up dying first and finds himself in what he can only call “the waiting room,” a place in between lives where people have minutes or a few hours before some mysterious receptionist calls out their names and they walk through the doors and into their next lives. Only Jude is never called. Instead, he looks out the windows to watch Nina grieve and ultimately live her life without him. Is it because he’s waiting until she joins him? What then? Is it a predetermined existence for their next life together? Will they find each other again and again and again? What if they don’t?

Alysha gifted me the paperback through her blog and I ended up reading this story in Kindle Unlimited on my Kindle Fire late into the night.

You can read The Waiting Room by Alysha Kaye here.

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A New Look

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I wrote Billie’s story in 2015 for a romance competition. Back then, I had NO idea what genre or category romance was. Sure, I read them—Harlequin, Mills & Boon, Silhouette, and others—but writing it? Nope. It simply never crossed my mind that the stories I wrote were literary fiction or women’s fiction with romantic elements, not category romance.

Of all my books, this was probably the one that came with the toughest learning curve… and the smashing of that bubble I had been writing in for years.

I did not write romance. Not then.

So when RT Book Reviews, a well-known review service that closed last year, stated that Billie’s story was a “mistaken identity story that straddled chick lit and romance,” they were basically saying, “yo, this isn’t category romance.”

I didn’t get it though. Not then.

Since then, I could probably say that I’ve been learning how to write romance. It’s actually not as easy as people believe. There are beats, turning points, character arcs in addition to the kissing and other steamy scenes (unless you’re writing Christian or clean and wholesome romance). There are expected events that when the author fails to deliver, the reader knows. Romance readers know what they want. They know every book that claims to be a romance has to have a happy ending, either happily ever after or happy for now.

If your story doesn’t have that happy ending, no, you did not write a romance. It may have romantic elements but it’s not category romance.

But I digress…

Billie’s story used to be titled A Collateral Attraction, A Romantic Suspense Novel. There is still romantic suspense so I’ll keep that subtitle but because the story is narrated only by one person—Billie—as she struggles through sibling rivalry, grief, and guilt, I always knew that I needed to have only a woman on the cover. I’ve had couples and then a lone man on the cover for so long and it always felt… “off.”

Until now.

I think I’ve got it this time. After holding on to this cover for months, I finally designed the text and the layout to fit my branding last night and it’s live. Different cover and title but the same story.  I had debated on adding Heath’s point-of-view many times but each time I tried, he had nothing to say that Billie already didn’t say in the original 95k word book that’s since been edited down to 73k. The story was fine the way it was, even with its 1-star reviews and whatnot. Some stories are just fine the way they are.

But I do love the cover, and if you haven’t read it, here’s the synopsis:

The Other Sister: A Romantic Suspense Novel

Billie has always been content standing on the sidelines while her identical twin sister, Blythe, gets all the attention, including a glamorous lifestyle with billionaire Ethan Kheiron. 

All that changes when Blythe and Ethan disappear and Billie is mistaken for her twin sister. Worse, Ethan’s younger brother Heath accuses her of corporate theft.

To prove her sister’s innocence, Billie will need to step into her sister’s Manolos and play the game, including pretending to be Heath’s lover. 

But a life of luxury, personal shopping sprees, and private jets cannot hide the years of unresolved differences between sisters, nor the decades of lies that have left the Kheiron family divided. And even as Billie slowly falls for Heath, she realizes that until they all settle their differences, they’re really just pawns in someone else’s game of power and money… and where some of them are more expendable than others.

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A Little White Lie and Other Updates

For the past few years, I’ve been wondering how to link Everything She Ever Wanted (Dax and Harlow’s story) with Falling for Jordan (Addison and Jordan’s story), Book 1 and Book 2 respectively in my Different Kind of Love series.

Somehow, I never really linked them together except for the second version of the Prologue that replaced the original version in the last year and a half. Only that wasn’t what I should have done.

Instead, that second version of the Prologue should have been a short story, one that would be available at the end of Book 1 as a bonus story (appearing AFTER 90% of the ebook) and the same one I’ll link here. So if you’ve read Everything She Ever Wanted and want to take a peek at the wedding reception through Addison’s eyes, you can read it here.

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Little White Lie introduces Addison Rowe, Harlow’s best friend, a Filipino-American doctor who just finds out her life is about to change while attending Harlow’s Taos wedding to Dax.

In the writing front, I’m still working on stories I set aside a month ago. Somehow, subconscious me wants to finish the stories I started before tackling the big ones and so that’s what I’m doing. They won’t fit any of my current series but my subconscious mind won’t let them go either so I guess I’ll have to follow that muse for now.

Oh, and two earthquakes happened in my neck of the woods. The house was rocking for over a minute during that second one and the lamps were swinging and so was the front door. It was scary but at the same time part of living in Southern California. My main concern during the second one was that my kid was wearing only his underwear (he has SPD and likes being in his underwear while wrapped in his two favorite fuzzy blankets when he doesn’t need to be outdoors) and I told him that if we had to run outside, he was running out in his undies.

I need to know where to shut things off should the big one hit and it’s just me and the kiddo at home (water, gas, electricity). I need to stock up the emergency backpack, too. Two earthquakes in a week is not a good sign. But then, what else can we do but keep on going, right?

How about you? How’s life treating you so far?

The Reviews Are (Coming) In!

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“…still loving Ashe” 

I am in love with this series and these characters… I loved the narration (his voice melts me like butter). Loved the twists in the storyline, the sweet romance and of course the HEA…

“Great voice brings the story to life” 

This book was the second in the series and the story takes up just where we left off in the first and didn’t disappoint. plus the narrator’s voice captured my mental image of Ashe perfectly and I can’t wait for the next in line in the series. 

“Riley and Ashe…”

Ashe and Riley have overcome so much. The secrets revealed in this book were so worth waiting for. I loved the characters determination. The storyline has heartbreak, perseverance, love, humor, and vengeful ex-lover. Martin John Hopkins is the perfect voice for this book told from Ashe’s point of view. I really enjoyed his sexy accent.

It’s been a few weeks since the audio narration of Loving Riley was released and the reviews are coming in. If you’ve left your review, thank you so much. I hope you enjoyed the story. If you’d like a free copy to review, let me know in the comments and I’ll send you an Audible code which you can redeem.

You can listen to the sample here.

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The Muse… Er, Loving Riley is LIVE !

Yup, Ashe Hunter, er, Loving Riley is finally live on Audible and Amazon.

I’m still waiting for the link to show up on iTunes (which I hear may not last too long – but only because Apple will be splitting it to three (Books, Music, and TV,  which I thought was the way the app was structured).

This is the third audio narration of my books, the other two being Loving Ashe and Everything She Ever Wanted. This was also the one that probably took the longest for me to find the right “voice” to be Ashe mainly because when I wrote the first book, I already had his “voice” inside my head and nothing else would do but something close to that voice. Deep, intense, and smooth as “chocolate drizzled… over a lover’s skin,” if I remember the first book correctly.

Talk about being too close to your muse, right?

If you’d like a promo code (good only for Audible US and UK) for Loving Ashe or Loving Riley (or both since you need to have read Loving Ashe to get Loving Riley), please let me know in the comments.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering if Loving Ashe and Loving Riley are romance, they fall more under the umbrella of Literary Fiction. It has drama, angst, romance, and mystery. So, no, it’s not a genre romance at all.