Fresh Find: Hot Girl Summer by Sonia Palermo — cover reveal

My dear friend, author Sonia Palermo, is releasing her debut novel next month! Courtesy of Xpresso Tours, this is our first glimpse at the gorgeous cover for a steamy contemporary romance about forgiveness and fresh starts.

A woman in a short black dress takes a photo of a man in a white shirt and a dog wearing a kerchief. They stand on a pier looking out at the London Eye on the cover of Hot Girl Summer by Sonia Palermo.

Hot Girl Summer
Sonia Palermo
Publication: March 14th 2022
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Sophia DeLuca is over casual hook-ups. Between her sister’s eating disorder, her track record of falling for fuckboys, and a lifetime of being written off as a shallow flake, “failure to launch” may as well be her middle name.

Under false pretences and a fake name, she meets Danny Pearce, an obnoxious musician on the opposite end of the millennial spectrum. Danny is cocky, rude, and a contender for fuckboy of the year.

After a series of serendipitous encounters and a secret gig, Sophia unexpectedly falls for Danny. But when he is faced with his own demons, Sophia must reclaim her power and forgive the past, or risk losing the only thing that’s real.

Add to Goodreads / Pre-order

About the author

A brown-haired woman with striking eyes subtly smiles.

Sonia Palermo writes fun, sexy, steamy contemporary romance with sex-positive, sassy-but-soft heroines and cinnamon roll heroes.

Twitter / Goodreads / Instagram

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Text in image: Xpresso book tours

Reflections on The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Lately, I’ve been thinking about our climate future and it stresses the hell out of me. I blame it partly on starting Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl just before a big heatwave, which was followed by a small heatwave, and now here we are looking forward to a peak of 40°C (104°F) on Wednesday. And did you know that recently one of the towns up north hit 50°C (122°F)? Hnnnnngggggh

Getting into cli-fi at this point in recent history was maybe not the smartest choice. Or is it a necessary choice? Only time will tell.

The Windup Girl is a dystopian science fiction novel set in a futuristic Thai Kingdom that is weathering the storm of climate change, genetic modification, commercial greed, corrupt politics, “colonial” expansion and more. The Kingdom holds fast where other nations have collapsed or capitulated. Its citizens are tenacious.

The world-building was incredible, although maybe I’m biased at how Southeast Asian it was. I saw pieces of my culture in it, which is naturally enticing, though it was kind of weird seeing words I grew up with get italicised as if they should be treated as something other than ordinary. Not grumbling; I understand why it must be so.

I did catch one snippet of Mandarin that struck me as oddly Western influenced, which either speaks to my poor grasp of Mandarin or an intentionally clever hint from the author about the history of the world in his book. The idea of the latter tickles me, as one of the book’s themes is the relationship between East and West.

I couldn’t disagree with some of the less flattering reviews on Goodreads, but strangely the shortcomings they described ended up being things I enjoyed about The Windup Girl. The detached writing style left a lot to the imagination, especially when it came to the characters’ motivations and emotional states. And ironic as it sounds, this just made me get more invested in the characters and the story.

I was going to say something here about how writing romance has taught me that more exposition around thoughts and feelings is needed to guide readers through an emotional journey… but that’s not true, is it? For example, one of the things I love most about Stefanie Simpson’s romance books is that her style has elements of this too. I sense “gaps” when reading her work, and I instinctively want to fill them with my own interpretations and empathy.

The Windup Girl was an uncomfortable and at times stressful read, but it’s also artfully written (if you have a sense for those “gaps”) and features fascinating characters with well-considered flaws. Personally, I also loved the underlying messages and ideas that surfaced at the end. Even with a slightly ugly dystopian finish, they offered a glimmer of hope.

An elephant-like creature and robed people walk the market streets in futuristic Thailand on the cover of The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Starting the new year with a whisper

My 2022 has begun with deactivating a bunch of social media accounts. As of today, you won’t find me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, save for my blog feed.

Please know this isn’t some cry for help or a rage-induced impulse. My relationship to social media has been something I’ve questioned for a while. For easily over a year, or maybe longer now.

This week, I read Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by technologist Jaron Lanier, and it’s driven home a heap of my concerns. There’s nothing inherently wrong with technology that allows us to reach out to others and develop meaningful connections. I’ve made amazing friends through social media, who I’m very grateful to have in my life today.

It’s just that I don’t feel comfortable in those spaces at the moment. It’s partly me and partly those platforms’ engagement-driven business models. I don’t like what my chopped up feeds are doing to my brain and attention span. Every time I load up those giants, I feel overwhelmed and burnt out before I even get to scrolling. It’s a price I seem to be paying for a product I’m not sure I like.

This isn’t by any means a dig at you if you’ve chosen to stay on there. Social media platforms do make a lot of things possible, and you’re most likely better at managing the discomfort than I am.

I still read and follow people’s posts on those platforms where I can. I’m just not Follow-ing them now, if that makes sense. This is an experiment for me. Whether it suits or not remains to be seen. But for the time being, it does feel right.

To anyone feeling even a little pinch of fatigue, anxiety, foreboding or concern when it comes to social media, I highly recommend Jaron Lanier’s book. You don’t have to “delete your social media accounts right now”, but you certainly do have a right to know what it is you’re participating in.

If you’d like to hear about me, I have a Goodreads profile and a Bookbub profile.

If you’d like to hear from me, I send emails via a low-noise newsletter, to which you can always reply for a chat. Or you can just get in touch.

My 2021 in lists

Work I released this year

  1. O, swear not by the moon (a novelette in Star Crossed)
  2. About Henry — A Novella (re-release)
  3. Microfiction via Dot Club
  4. It Starts with a Kiss (re-release)
  5. Iteration Eleven (published by HyphenPunk magazine)

New things I learned about

  1. Autism (specifically, mine)
  2. Hyper-mobility (also mine lulz)
  3. World War II history
  4. Some of my family history
  5. Art, drawing & digital painting

What I wish I did less of

  1. Fear procrastination
  2. Getting injured
  3. Eating junk food

What I wish I did more of

  1. Reading books
  2. Research & writing for The Basilica Conspiracy
  3. Speaking up for myself

Books/Stories that grabbed me

  1. After my Before by Stefanie Simpson
  2. Summerland by Hannu Ranjaniemi
  3. A Lover’s Discourse by Xiaolu Guo
  4. Perihelion Summer by Greg Egan
  5. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Movies that grabbed me

  1. Casablanca (1942)
  2. Stowaway (2021)
  3. Hot Rod (2007)
  4. Tenet (2020)
  5. Dune (2021)

What I’m grateful for

  1. Family
  2. Broadband internet
  3. The health I do have
  4. My pastry friends 🥐
  5. My physiotherapist (it’s amazing what you can do when your health practitioners have a positive attitude)

My hopes for next year

  1. Tidy up my life (literally, it’s a mess) so I can work and live better
  2. Keep my health markers at healthy levels
  3. Consume more SFF and educational books
  4. Get SUNSET to a publishable state
  5. Finish outlining The Basilica Conspiracy

Iteration Eleven — a short story

My latest story, Iteration Eleven, has just been published by HyphenPunk, a magazine that examines the human condition through a postmodern lens.

The stories they publish really sit with me, and I’m absolutely stoked to have my work included in their collection.

Iteration Eleven is a quiet cyberpunk horror flashfic. I’ll estimate it’s about a 5-minute read.

Read Iteration Eleven in HyphenPunk magazine

Fresh Find: Etched in this Moment by Calla Zae

Calla Zae is an otherworldly and contemporary romance author, and a busy one to boot! Fresh off the back of a September release, she has a brand new book out for your reading pleasure.

A false identity romantic suspense, Etched in this Moment sees Sofia battling her desires for the determined detective who just might be her undoing.

An interview with Calla Zae

JL PERIDOT: What’s the deal with Sofia? Why is she in hiding?

CALLA ZAE: Sofia is a woman who’s at a crossroad in her life. She moves across the country in search of her purpose in life, and she dates a cop. Like many of us who feel lost, we often gravitate toward people who we think are “good” for us. Sofia is no exception.

When he reveals the monster in him, she ran.

JL: Theo embodies the archetype of a protector in this book. What do you love most about the protector trope in fiction?

CALLA: We all want to be safe and secure. Love gives you that. A safe environment allows a child to grow and an adult to mature. When we feel safe and loved, there’s this liberation that allows us to be ourselves. We can show the world who we are. With that mindset, we can reveal our talents. When someone loves you in a way that allows you to feel safe and secure, you grow wings. You are free. You can explore any destination you want.

At least for me, that’s how I see it and that’s what I love about the “protective” trope. 

There are so many good books with this kind of hero. The most recent one I read was the Mount Trilogy by Meghan March. I loved the way Lachlan Mount protected Keira.

JL: So, from your creative beginnings, how did you come to write otherworldly and contemporary romance?

CALLA: I have a fashion design degree and worked in the fashion industry for a while. But during that time, I also wrote stories on the side because stories feed my soul. So when the pandemic hit, I had to stay home with my young kids due to virtual school (an experience that confirmed I’m not a very patient person! Lol!), I took a leap of faith and published my stories. Initially, I had wanted to query an agent. But like I said, I’m not a very patient person. Besides, I believed in my stories. I believed in myself. And when you have that kind of conviction and ambition, you create your own magic. The Universe will follow suit with your desires.

Art plays an important role in everything I do. It affects how I think and see things. Creativity is the breath of life for me. When I write, I use a large portion of my brain—the intellect, the discipline, the linear way of thinking that chapter two goes after chapter one like placing one foot in front of the other in a logical manner.  But when I create art, I tap into my heart, my intuition. I go sideways, upside, inside out; it doesn’t matter if it makes “sense.” Art is all about how you feel when you look at it. As long as the art makes you feel something, then you’ve made something worthwhile. 

I believe emotion is where the magic is.  I like to think that my brain and heart are creative muscles that I use every day, so I try to flex them as much as possible. When I’m stressed, I turn to art. Art shuts down my brain, and I enter a quiet space that resets my mind. Art therapy is healing. Writing can be healing too, depending on what you write. Writing in a journal is different from writing a difficult plot. Art and writing are different forms of creativity, and I believe both are important in a soul’s journey.

JL: And when it came to this romantic suspense…?

CALLA: Etched in this Moment is set in Coolidge Corner, an active shopping area in Brookline, Massachusetts. It’s adjacent to Boston. I went to college in Boston and enjoyed the energy of the city. I wanted to write a contemporary story set in an area I was familiar with. I wanted a romance with a sense of danger, mystery, sophistication, and steam. It’s the kind I love to read. The Etched series will have seven books.

Also, writing contemporary romance gives me a break from my otherworldly stories!

JL: Seven books is a huge undertaking! But if anyone can do it, you can. What can we expect from the rest of the series?

CALLA: Etched in this Moment is Book One in my Etched series. There are seven books planned. You can expect similar romance, suspense, and steam. The characters are interconnected, and each story can be read as a standalone. There are no cliffhangers.

All of my books allow the woman to gain a sense of self-worth. I want them to know that they are worthy and they have something to offer the world. I want them to understand the inner chambers of their hearts. There’s nothing that is too small. Everything that is given and made with love is “worthy.”

When you acknowledge who you are, you claim a spot in this world. From that spot, you can shine. I want to show them that it’s possible to overcome your shadows, your past and gain back your self-worth. All of us are born with it, and society has pushed that worthiness into a corner. Over time, people have forgotten that it was always there. I want to show women that they can take it back. Self-worth was always theirs to begin with.

Etched in this Moment by Calla Zae

The law has failed her; men have failed her, but I won’t.

“Every moment with you is precious time ticking life into my heart.”

Sofia (Tia): The holidays are here, and I’m feeling hopeful until an anonymous text message arrives, reminding me of why I’m in hiding. I go by “Tia,” but that’s not my real name. I stay away from men, especially cops. But Theo—an attractive and determined detective—fascinates me. I’m afraid my desire for him might be the end of me.

Theo: The last thing I need is a distraction that takes me away from my recovery from a deadly wound. But as the mystery unravels around Sofia, so does danger, and so does my heart. The need to protect her pulses in me, becoming a priority. She’s mine, and I always protect what’s mine.

Available now from ebook retailers.

About Calla Zae

I love writing otherworldly and contemporary romance novels. I’m an artist, and I love to create visuals to convey my stories.

I live in Massachusetts with my husband who keeps me grounded to Earth and two creative children who think I have my own secret planet. They’re onto something…

Fresh Find: I Don’t Want to Wake Up by Chelle de Notte

Chelle de Notte’s latest release is a contemporary romance in her Hearts on Fire novella series, a collection of steamy firefighter romances brought to you by Evernight Publishing.

I had the pleasure of reading I Don’t Want to Wake Up when it was still in beta, and am so excited this week to get to share it with you.

But first, here’s the author herself to tell us more about it…

An interview with Chelle de Notte

JL PERIDOT: Chelle, tell us about your new book, I Don’t Want to Wake Up. Why will readers love Kat and Mike?

CHELLE DE NOTTE: These two characters get together thinking they’ve hit the jackpot — she’s sleeping with a hot firefighter, and he’s with a gorgeous masseuse who knows how to use her hands everywhere!

But as the relationship deepens, the realities and dangers of each other’s jobs set in. If they’re going to be together, they have to figure out how to handle that, especially in light of exes who were less than supportive of their professions.

JL: Your previous book in the Hearts on Fire series was a firefighter (and day spa) romance too. What inspired you to connect these two professions in your series?

CHELLE: The firefighters originated with a secondary character in An Especially Hot Summer, a female firefighter who works a tough job in a mostly male environment, but lets her feminine side out in full force off duty. As for the day spa, a professional massage is an incredibly intimate experience, and it was interesting to see the characters interact after experiencing that together.

JL: So, what inspired this book?

CHELLE: At the end of Never So Grateful, there’s a mention of two side characters exchanging smiles across the Thanksgiving dinner table. This story brings them into the spotlight and gives them a romance. I hope it gives readers of the previous book a sense of reuniting with friends, and I hope new readers will connect to the camaraderie, sense of place, and steam of the story.

JL: What kind of research did you have to do to write this story?

CHELLE: Because I don’t want to readers to wonder how my characters can afford their New York apartments, I had to do some research on which Brooklyn neighborhoods they could conceivably afford. From there, I found myself studying subway maps to see how they’d get from Manhattan to home and how they could have somewhat easy access to each other.

When I’m writing about New York characters in general, I like to visit their neighborhoods to get an idea of their everyday lives. And sometimes when I mention a certain food, I’ll buy or make it, then eat it more mindfully than usual so I can describe the flavors better.

One regret about writing these stories during a pandemic was that I couldn’t go for a spa treatment in the name of research. 😂

JL: And of course, you’ll have had plenty of research into the holidays for the Christmas elements in this novella. What are some of your favourite holiday tropes?

CHELLE: Some of my favorite fictional holiday tropes are snowed in together (this drives me stir crazy in real life!) and people taking chances/doing things they normally wouldn’t because “tis the season.”

It also warms my heart to see characters get gifts with special meanings, whether inside jokes or marks of how well they understand each other, and I try to be a thoughtful gift giver to my loved ones.

JL: Finally, what’s next in the world of Chelle de Notte?

CHELLE: Jake’s story is next – not only does he get a romance, but we learn why he had glitter on his face. While I wait for my first round of edits on that, I’ve started notes for future Hearts on Fire novellas.

I Don’t Want to Wake Up by Chelle de Notte

He’s a hot firefighter…

Between the demands of his job and his own work ethic, it takes a lot to get Lieutenant Mike Devierse to loosen up and relax. One woman managed it, and Kat’s at his firehouse’s Thanksgiving dinner.

She’s a beautiful masseuse…

In Kat Kominsky’s work at a spa, all the people she meets and massages tend to blur together. There are some standouts, though, and she’s excited to see Mike outside a professional capacity.

As Kat and Mike grow closer, their time together is right out of a fantasy. But will they be able to handle the moment when the reality of each other’s jobs sets in?

About Chelle de Notte

As a kid, Chelle de Notte had a reputation for turning in 30-page creative writing assignments. As an adult, she balances her passion for fiction with a day job in real estate.

Because she is already a creator, Chelle doesn’t feel the need to give birth. She doesn’t smoke and hardly ever drinks, but can’t turn down a dirty chai with almond milk. When she’s not writing, she’s active in the local barre scene.

Reading through a tough time

This week marks my final visit to Nomad Authors for 2021. It’s been lovely getting to know Dee and Jan—two talented and friendly authors who share all sorts of interesting things with their readers.

Today’s post is about reading through a tough time. I’m sure it’s not telling you anything you don’t already know, but sometimes we need to hear the same old advice independently before we feel like we’re allowed to follow it.

If your December looks like it’s gonna be stressful, give yourself permission to read indulgently this month. And heck, every month, because life’s too short for books you don’t enjoy.

The Great Aussie Giveaway 2021

This month, I’m collaborating with 29 amazing Aussie authors to bring Christmas to your Kindle early.

This huge giveaway gets one lucky winner a chance to grab 30 fantastic ebooks sent directly to their Amazon account. And, yes, it’s open internationally!

You’ll need to have an account on BookBub to play, as well as access to Instagram or Facebook to submit your entry.

How to enter

First, head to the giveaway website and follow each author listed in the promotion.

Then, head to the giveaway post on my Instagram or Facebook.

Leave the comment “DONE” and tag 3 book-loving friends.

What happens next?

This promotion runs from 1 December – 8 December.

Once it’s over, each author will select a single participant to go into the prize pool. This means the more authors you follow, the more chances you have to win!

Later in the week, one winner will be selected from the pool.

Keep an eye out for the announcement on 12 December!

Good luck!

They’d collapse on the bed and he’d kiss her

For any curious bods, I’m visiting Beyond Romance today to share a steamy (NSFW) excerpt from my latest release, It Starts with a Kiss.

Thank you to everyone who bought the book, helped out with this launch, and generally made it possible for me to get this story back out into the world 💖