Cover Reveal for Jenn Nixon’s Mind: The Reckoning

Baldwin Bates has only wanted one thing since joining MIND, to take care of his friends and keep them all safe. While the MIND team is busy dealing with an emergence of psychic and alien activity, Bates takes his first solo assignment searching for a woman who claims to see the future, only to botch […]

via Cover Reveal for Jenn Nixon’s Mind: The Reckoning — fantasyandrealityblog

Liquid Friday with Author R. L. Weeks

This week we are featuring  Fantasy and Horror Author of Into the Myth, Toad Prince and bestselling horror stories One Way Out ,See No Evil and #Yourenext  R. L. Weeks.

Her favorite drink is Sex on The Beach! So lets hear directly from our featured author:

I used to work in a cocktail bar and I just loved the combination of flavour from the cranberry and orange juice, and when mixed with my favourite sex-on-the-beachalcohol, vodka and peach schnapps (or sometimes archers instead) it’s just an explosion of flavour! Plus, it gets me pretty tipsy quickly 😛 


Fill your glass with ice and add 1 oz Vodka, .5 oz of Peach Schnapps, 1 oz Orange Juice and 1 oz Cranberry juice, Garnish with a lemon wedge and Maraschino cherry.

OK, it’s time to pour a glass of this delicious sounding cocktail, kick back relaxing and read a bit about her newest release:  Beauty’s Beast (Haunting Fairytales Collection Book 2):

The Blurb:
Edward was cursed to be a beast, but the new curse had a cruel twist to it that could put Bella in danger.
beatysbeastThe beast isn’t the only thing Bella should fear that roams within the castle’s walls. The rooms all hold cursed hearts and one man who could be the undoing of them all.

The Excerpt:


James peered over the boat, looking down into the clear blue water. The top of the water glimmered in the moonlight.

‘Careful,’ Bella said and pulled him away from the edge. ‘Remember what Papa said, there are mermaids in this lake.’

‘Mermaids are nice, though, aren’t they?’ he asked his mum.

‘No, they’re really not. They lure men into the water, drown them, then eat their insides.’

He jumped back and sat at the back of the boat, looking cautiously out over the water. ‘Why are we even here then?’

‘We have a task to do. Papa is ill. I told you, I paid a witch to tell me of anything that could help him, and she told me about a magical rose that’s guarded by a monster. It’s in that castle,’ Bella said and pointed at the castle that was growing bigger the closer they got to it. It sat on top of a massive rock; it was larger than most of the cliffs they had seen on their travels.

‘Yeah, but I still don’t understand why I’m here,’ James huffed.

‘I need you to pick the rose, only one who has an innocent heart can take it from the jar,’ she replied and continued rowing. Her arms were aching, she wasn’t shy to manual labour, but she had been rowing for three hours and her arms felt like they were going to drop off.

‘Mama, when we get to the castle, will they have food?’

‘In my bag, there is some bread and butter.’

James scoffed. ‘Great.’ He begrudgingly took out the stale bread and bit off a piece. As he chewed on the bread, he spotted a tail by the rocks splash out of the water then disappear. It didn’t look that big; it was as if it belonged to a child mermaid. However, it was unmistakably the tail of a mermaid, he had seen pictures, the strange glimmer that covered the scales, the transparent tips of the fins, the golden lines that cracked their way up from the fins to the torso.

The boat rocked and shook as it sailed through the rocks. It stopped at the bottom of the weathered stone steps that wound their way up the surface. James got out first, the water sprayed him, soaking his light brown hair so it stuck around his face. He grumbled and slicked his hair back. Bella got out after and laughed, the water lapped around her ankles. They climbed a step so they were out of the water. Her pale yellow dress hung around her ankles, she lifted it up & followed her son.

‘I wouldn’t worry. I’ve heard that no one has actually seen this monster that guards the rose. I think it’s just a story made up so people wouldn’t try to steal it.’ They huffed as they climbed the steep steps, Bella helped her son by allowing him to put a lot of his weight on her arm.

‘So we will be safe,’ he asked, raising an eyebrow.

‘Perfectly safe,’ she promised. ‘I won’t let anything happen to you anyway. If there is anything dangerous in there, then you run back to the boat and leave me if you have too,’

‘I wouldn’t leave you mama, plus, if there is a monster, I will strike it with my sword.’

She laughed. ‘So where is this mighty sword?’

He looked up. ‘You see the front of the castle, where the steps stop, and the drawbridge starts?’ she nodded, smiling. ‘Just past there, to the right should be an armoury, there always is. Somewhere in there will be an enchanted sword and only one who can kill the monster will be able to find it…’

She grinned. ‘You’ve been reading my books again, haven’t you?’

‘Maybe, but, it’s true,’ he stated and climbed faster. He loved adventure; ever since his dad had died, he felt the need to protect his mother.

‘Well, we will first look for the enchanted sword, slay the beast, then grab the rose. We will be home within days,’ she said, fuelling his imagination.

‘Yes, and the beast will try to capture you. But, I will find the secret passages that are obviously hidden behind the tapestries and break you out.’

‘Oh, will you now.’

‘Yes,’ he grinned, getting excited. ‘Then the beast, I believe he will live alone. Cursed to remain at the castle. He will try to attack me, then plunge himself onto the sword which will glow brightly before he runs into it. By the time he realises that I am the one who was prophesied to kill him, it’ll be too late.’

‘You will return as a knight,’ Bella shouted. James punched a fist into the air and laughed, but wobbled a little on the step. Bella grabbed him and pushed him up further.

‘Let’s go get this beast,’ she said. She knew there wasn’t a beast, a monster, or anything in there. But, she would always play the game. He would come up with the craziest stories about men he had seen walk past, how they were cursed, how one was a dragon slayer, and she would always go along with it.

She wrote fantasy stories for children, and he had taken to reading them all. One dragon at a time.

‘So, where’s this armoury?’ She asked as they climbed the last few steps.

When they were in full view of the castle, Bella’s heart pounded loudly. Maddening screams were coming from the barred up windows, the two large doors creaked open as James approached.

About Author:

R. L. Weeks is a fantasy and horror author living in Exeter, UK. She grew up in Devon surrounded by local folklore which she incorporates into her writing.

RLWeeksInto the Myth, published by CHBB, One Way Out and See No Evil, published by Vamptasy, are available for purchase on Amazon and Kindle.

She wants to write novels to inspire and help young people in the same way that fantasy books helped her. Horror is a genre that she wants to bring people back to ‘it’s such a deep genre. It’s so much more than just scaring people, it gives them a sense of empowerment. I’m obsessed with the reality of the human condition and the darker shades of humanity. I try to tell my stories from a different viewpoint.’


Liquid Friday with author Susan Shapiro

This week we are featuring New York Times bestselling author of ten books and an award-winning writing professor Susan Shapiro.

Susan’s favorite drink is the Republic of Tea, Honey Ginseng tea. Are you surprised?  Of course not!  A wonderful beverage, served iced on a hot summer day from the author of self help books like:  Lighting Up, How I Stopped Smoking, Drinking and Everything Else Except Sex (A Memoir). and co-author of Unhooked: How to Quit Anything.

Honey Ginseng Tea from  The republic of Tea:

A relaxing blend combines the ancient health properties of China teagreen tea with Panax ginseng and full blossom honey. This delicious, subtly sweet tea offers a peaceful sipping experience.
Steeping Instructions:
Steeping green tea is easy. Simply heat fresh, filtered water just short of boiling. Then pour water over tea and steep for 1-3 minutes ice-tea-pitcher-iced-jug-cold-iced-drink-lemon-mint-44879245(if using a tea bag) or 2-4 minutes (if using full-leaf tea.)


China green tea, linden flowers, pollen eleuthero, Panax ginseng, natural flavor.


So lets grab a pitcher of this amazing Honey Ginseng tea, some ice and learn a bit about Susan’s newest book:  What’s Never Said.

It’s dangerous to search for an old flame you never got over. What if you find him-and he doesn’t remember you? In her captivating new novel, Susan Shapiro explores the perils of whats neverrevisiting past passion. Lila Penn leaves Wisconsin for graduate school in the big city, where she falls for her professor Daniel Wildman. Decades after their tangled link, she arranges a tête-à-tête in downtown Manhattan. But the shocking encounter blindsides Lila, causing her to question her memory-and sanity. Switching between Greenwich Village and Tel Aviv, the saga unravels the sexual secret that’s haunted Daniel and Lila for thirty years. PRAISE FOR SUSAN SHAPIRO: “Frank, darkly funny, entertaining…” -New York Times Book Review “A promiscuously readable guilty pleasure…” -Elle Magazine “Sly, candid, disarming…” -Pam Houston “Shapiro’s voice is so passionate and honest, it’s bewitching.” -Erica Jong “Irresistible energy, winning humor… breathtakingly frank honesty.” -Philip Lopate “Unputdownable.” -Gael Greenereal

Setup: In February 1981, in Greenwich Village, Lila Lerner, an innocent graduate N.Y.U. student from a Jewish Wisconsin family, is upset when the professor she adores ignores her on Valentine’s Day. So she has dinner with a Turkish classmate, Tarik, at the Cookery on University Place.


When the wine came, Tarik took a sip and nodded for the waiter to pour

“Why did you get a bottle from ten years ago?” Lila asked, wondering if it was still good a decade later, and if you got a discount for old stuff.
“A friend and wine best when old,” he said, clicking her glass.
Lila was intrigued by his accent and the way he sometimes left out connectives.

“You prefer red or white?”

“Definitely red,” she said, not mentioning that the kind they drank at home was Manischewitz.

“After graduate degree, you move home?” Tarik asked.

“No. I’ll get a job and stay here. I love the Village.” Lila drank up. The taste was growing on her.

“Your family let you do this?” Tarik poured more.

Lila shrugged. “Why not?”

“Dangerous alone. Before you marry…”

Lila finished her glass. “I might never get married.”

“Woman writer needs husband,” he insisted.

“Tell that to Sylvia Plath.” She poured a tall one she finished quickly.

He looked confused. “She had husband and two babies young.”

“Yeah, then her husband’s affairs ruined their family,” Lila said. “She would have been better off unmarried and childless. Like Emily Dickinson. Jane Austen. Elizabeth Bishop.”

“You don’t mean.” Tarik shook his head. “Something wrong with woman who doesn’t want to be wife and mother.”

“What do you mean by wrong?”

“Broken. Damaged. Not normal. Crazy,” he listed. “How you say — disturbed.”

“Why the f— would you say something so ignorant?” she asked, emboldened by the wine.

“Speak quietly,” he said through clenched teeth. “Not attractive for ladies to swear.”

“F— you!” she said louder, standing up.

He stood up too, his eyes jumpy, horrified. “Sit down,” he whispered.

Lila did not sit down. She marched out the door. She’d never walked out on a guy at dinner before. It felt totally cool, like she was the poet version of Gloria Steinem. Until she realized that she was overdressed and alone at 9 p.m. on the Saturday night of Valentine’s Day in a city of couples on dates. How humiliating.

Lila started to cry, heading back to her dorm to hide under the covers. Instead she went to Washington Square Park. Sitting on a bench, she lit her roommate Sari’s present: a red joint. Nobody noticed Lila amid the transvestites, hippies and students gathered around the fire-eater — even in freezing cold. A scraggly regular said, “Hey pretty clothes, what ya doin’ back here?”

“Dumped my date,” she said, handing him the joint. They shared it as a guitar player sang Joni Mitchell’s “Free Man in Paris.” She hummed along, tingly, dizzy, starving.

Remembering the $20 her mother sent her for Valentine’s Day, Lila decided to take herself out to dinner at Dojo. She changed into the flats hidden in her purse and waded through the hordes of bohemians and homeless men hanging out on decrepit St. Mark’s Place. It smelled of burning incense and the hot dog truck on the corner.

Lila marveled at the seedy bodega, dive bar, graffiti-lined record shop and tattoo parlor she passed. More crazy characters strolled this jam-packed East Village intersection than she’d seen in nineteen years in her hometown of Baraboo — population 10,000. She was awed by the downtown graffiti artists and foreign women selling used blouses and coffeemakers on the sidewalk — not noticing it was twenty degrees out.

All the oddballs were decked out as if Valentine’s Day was Halloween — girls in gowns with vampire capes, men in dresses, high heels and makeup. Everybody carried bizarre objects: antique chairs, bagpipes, a boa constrictor. She felt like she was floating, escaping from prison to live in this exciting drug-filled carnival.

At her favorite bookstore, St. Mark’s Bookshop, she treated herself to a poetry collection, Louise Glück’s “Descending Figure,” on sale for $2. Crossing the street, she sat inside at Dojo and read the angry female Jewish poet’s words, craving chicken yakimeshi. Sari had turned her on to this dive and awesome $4 meal. When Lila got her paycheck, she’d treat herself to this special dish. The only thing Lila didn’t like was the sliced onions. She’d pick them out one by one, putting a pile on the side.

Right after she ordered, she had a revelation. She stopped the waitress and said, “Excuse me, miss. I have a question. Can I get my yakimeshi without onions?”

“Sure, hon. No problem,” the waitress said.

Lila was amazed. Forget all her male Svengalis trying to teach her wisdom. She’d just learned the most important lesson on her own: You could order the world without onions! Just as it came, she saw Sari walking by through the window. She was alone too. What happened to her date Lenu? Lila ran outside and called out to her. “I left Tarik at the Cookery and smoked your joint alone in the park.”

“Lenu bangs me four times last night, then blows me off Valentine’s Day. It’s a stupid motherf—ing Hallmark holiday,” Sari muttered, then started crying.

Lila held out her arms, which Sari fell into. “I’m so glad you’re here. Come hang out with me.” Lila led her inside.

Sari sat down at her table, blowing her nose with Lila’s napkin. Then she stuck her fingers in the yakimeshi, picking out chicken and some carrots, plunking them in her mouth.

“Tastes different,” Sari said.

“I special ordered it,” Lila told her. “You can just order life without the onions!”

“Nice metaphor,” Sari said.

“Right? I know!” Lila cracked up, then asked the waitress for another fork, thinking she wound up with the exact right person she loved most on Valentine’s Day after all.


That was really good!  If you enjoyed what you read, we have another excerpt for you:

Scene: Lila Penn is standing in line at Barnes & Noble, nervously excited to see her old professor — and former flame — Daniel Wildman, who just a won a Pulitzer Prize. She whats neverhasn’t seen him in three decades. She knows it’s risky to be there, since they’re both married, and Lila never really got over him.


Jittery all day, Lila had left work early to get her hair done, having her highlights frosted ash blond, her original color. She’d put on the black silk dress and Prada high heels she’d bought at Bergdorf’s. As the line winding around the huge bookstore crept closer, she scanned all the college kids in jeans and sweatshirts, feeling overdressed. She should have worn Levi’s and loafers, to look like seeing Daniel again was no big deal. Handing him the envelope in her purse felt too dangerous.

Even half-obscured by a pillar, his chiseled face was regal. He was powerful before the grand audience, more self-assured than he used to be. As she reached the head of the line, the clerk, who’d been marking names on Post-Its to show the author what to sign, had disappeared. Lila stood before Daniel, separated only by the thin table. Her hand sweated as she held out his slender book, feeling elated, a grad student again, younger, completely unveiled.

“Thanks for coming.” Unlike the last time they’d been this close, he was serene and sober.

“My pleasure. You killed,” tumbled out of her mouth, as if she were still his coed.

“Thanks.” He looked up at her. “To whom should I inscribe it?”

“To me,” Lila said.

He tilted his pen on the page, glanced up sideways and asked, “Your name?”

What? He didn’t know? Her breath stuck in her throat as he stared at her blankly. He was near seventy now. Was his eyesight failing?

“Sign it to Lila Penn.” She stared at him, waiting for her name and face to jar his recollection.

“One N or two?” he asked in a monotone.

“Two N’s,” she answered, dumbfounded, pushing her hair behind her ear. He didn’t know how to spell her married name? She felt flushed and frazzled. Maybe he’d inherited what he’d called “the forgetting disease” that had afflicted his father.

“With that last name, I hope you’re not a writer,” he said, looking pleased with his quip, the same cheesy joke every other idiot made.

“No, I’m a teacher.” She inverted their connection, trying to trick him into a reaction. But it was a lie. She’d recently been asked to teach a class, but still hadn’t responded.

“Okay, thanks for buying my book,” he said by rote.

Her eyes fell on his inscription: “To Lila Penn, All the Best. Daniel Wildman.” As if she were any stranger. Her forehead was hot, her heart knotting up in her chest.

Had he seduced so many students he couldn’t even recall who she was? She must have overblown their relationship in her head. Could she be the one whose memory was addled? Lila’s best friend Sari had insisted she had a distorted self-image. The teenage girl next in line, who had a pirate tattoo on her arm and a metal ring piercing her lower left lip, hovered right behind her, staring. Lila felt ashamed, as if she were just exposed as a pathetic hanger-on, an imposter.

“My maiden name is Lerner.” Lila blinked back tears, not believing he’d erased her. The whole room blurred.

“My wife kept hers,” he said smoothly, no recognition in his eyes. Then he reached his hand out for Lip Ring’s book and opened it. “Who am I signing it to?” he asked the youthful interloper, flashing the same polite grin, finished with Lila.

“To my mother, Mary Jonas. She studied with you a million years ago.”

“I know Mary! You look like her.” He laughed aloud, the big, hearty full-bodied laugh Lila used to love. “Must have been at least two million. Do you have a name too?”

Lila caught her reflection in the framed store poster, focusing on the faint marionette lines around her mouth, mortified to suddenly realize she’d lost her youth and beauty. She usually still saw herself as attractive. Yet she was obviously no longer a head-turner, the woman Daniel had called “his luscious muse.” Had she changed that much? The older suitor who’d adored her, exalted her looks more than any other male she’d known, had no idea who she was. But Daniel, you were the one who accepted me, discovered me, drew stars in the margins of my rough drafts.

She shouldn’t have lied to her husband about coming. She slinked to the register, fumbling for her wallet, so flustered his book fell to the floor. The rule: If you drop a book, kiss it, sacred like the Torah echoed from her childhood. She crouched down and quickly scooped it up, humiliated, invisible. As she went to pay, Lila spied the envelope she brought in the pocket of her purse, but it was too late to give to him. She had clearly overestimated her effect on him, her place in his romantic lexicon.

Out of all the conflicting scenarios she’d envisioned for almost thirty years, Lila had never once imagined that Daniel Wildman wouldn’t remember.


And for the first time ever, we can also indulge a bit in the story behind the story. In an article published in New York magazine Susan Shapiro reveals a bit more:

The Line Between Professor and Predator Isn’t Always So Clear


“Are you okay?” I asked my 22-year-old smart, pretty student Debbie last spring during office hours. She often susanhad questions about class or the ambitious book she was working on. But tonight she’d rushed over — still in a minidress, high heels, heavy eyeliner, and lipstick — upset about a bad experience she’d just had with a famous older novelist now teaching at my alma mater, whom she’d befriended on Facebook. “What happened?” I asked, worried.

She nervously combed her long, dark hair behind her ears. “He wanted me to be his date for this fancy award ceremony tonight. I was excited, got all dressed up. It was fun. But then he asked me to go home with him. Gross. I said no way.”

“What did he do?”

“Nothing. I got the hell out of there. It was creepy. There was another girl there he was flirting with.”

All the harassment, sexual-assault, roofie, and rape cases in colleges across the country were not distant news. Many of my students had shared similar sordid encounters, which scared me. I’d sent several distraught women to school authorities, to the police to report crimes, to therapists, and to editors who’d published their stories. Because I was a female professor and outspoken women’s-rights advocate who’d championed Debbie’s work, I knew she wanted me to be angry on her behalf, toe the conventional feminist line, take her side, see her as an innocent victim, and call the guy a harasser — or worse. Yet this time, I couldn’t.   

“I’m confused,” I said. “Why go on a date if you weren’t attracted to him?”

“I admire his writing. And I hoped he’d blurb my book,” she admitted. “But that doesn’t mean I was going to bed with him.”

“Of course not,” I told her. “Yet his proposition — and taking no for an answer — sounds fair.  We don’t have to vilify every man on the planet with a functioning libido.”

“Wow,” she said. “You’re taking this so personally.”

She was right. It wasn’t her actions that troubled me. I feared I’d done what I was accusing Debbie of doing when I was her age. She didn’t know that I’d had an affair with an older professor and tried to make him the villain. The truth turned out to be more complex.

Decades earlier, as an overeager graduate student in Manhattan, I’d dressed up for orientation, excited to introduce myself to the head of my program — a brilliant,  acclaimed author.

“It’s such an honor to meet you,” I said, shaking his hand.

“Planning to finish your PhD by the end of the mixer?” he quipped. He must have seen my application and knew that I was only 20, having skipped two grades.

“Why? Are you threatened by fast women?” I’d asked, not catching my double entendre.  

“Maybe I am,” he said, smiling, pulling his hand free from my grip.

He was about twice my age and academically dashing in his beige jacket and corduroys. I’d admired his dark, hilarious books, which seemed like Philip Roth put to poetry.

I was a tall, thin-skinned Michigan girl with a big mouth, a big appetite, and big feet. Although my conservative parents didn’t know what a master’s in creative writing was, they’d reluctantly let me sell my orange Cutlass to help fund three terms in the big city. The minute I got to Greenwich Village, I never wanted to leave. I dreamed of becoming a famous author with bylines in magazines and books, just like my professor.

Showing up to his every office hour, I’d hand him stacks of poems I’d been revising until four in the morning.

“Just one,” he’d say, then unleash his full, throaty laugh.  

I morphed into a downtown New Yorker. I lost weight, donned thick, black eyeliner, low-cut, tight black clothes, and spiked black boots. My professor noticed, I could tell. At a holiday party at his apartment, he stood close to me, pointed to my heels, and joked, “You’re trying to tower over me.” I removed them to help clean up afterward. Then we sat on the wooden floor of his dusty one-bedroom, drinking cheap Chardonnay from paper cups, me barefoot, chattering anxiously.

“You talk too much, too loud, too quickly,” he cut me off. Noticing me blush, he said, “Don’t be nervous, we’re not having an affair or anything.”

I wondered if I wanted to. Did he ever think of me outside of class, the way I thought of him?  From his work I knew he was single, straight, and lonely. I wasn’t sure if the spark I felt between us was my imagination.

“Will you look at my latest rewrite?” I begged, taking a revised poem from my purse.

He pulled out a pen and marked my page with squiggles and arrows. “You have too many words, not enough music.” I loved how honestly he critiqued me, our intellectual and erotic energy entangling.

“I think I’m falling for you,” I blurted out, avoiding his eyes.  

He cracked up. Humiliated, I couldn’t hold back my tears.

“I’m sorry.” His voice grew softer. “It’s just that everybody falls for the person who fixes their work.”

“That’s not why,” I insisted.  

“Listen, I would never date a student,” he said. I was crushed. Until he added, “If only I weren’t your teacher.” Hope!

After that, he invited me to book events, introducing me to his colleagues as “a talented newcomer,” elevating me socially — and creatively. Having his ear and his eyes on my work felt  magical, mystical, enthralling. I was honored when he asked what I thought of his first drafts, thrilled when he took my suggestion to retitle a poem.

Before I completed my degree, he recommended me for a coveted position at The New Yorker,  which I took, finishing my thesis by night. I told myself I’d landed the full-time gig because I’d aced their editorial test and hit it off with my fascinating female boss, who’d been there since World War II. But without my professor’s referral, I may have landed next to my classmate as an assistant at Soap Opera Digest.

That May, I graduated and decided to stay in New York. Released from the confines of  academia, my former professor took me to dinner. At a local Chinese dive, he told me how beautiful I was. Finally we kissed. Our connection intensified. It was awkward and scary, but switching from protégée to girlfriend made me feel special. His crowd embraced me. Friends my age were a little skeptical, perhaps because I’d disappeared into his much more intellectually stimulating world. He was the oldest, wisest man I’d ever dated. He said I was the only student he’d ever touched. I believed him.

Yet the fantasy of having my professor fall for me was more exhilarating than the reality. With our feelings for each other no longer illicit, I found I was more comfortable in his classroom than his bedroom. Hearing him kvetch about his lower-back pain and receding hair was a turnoff. He  didn’t like that the job he’d found me became my priority. He rolled his eyes when I exalted Gloria Steinem and analyzed different waves of feminism. I tired of him correcting my grammar and making fun of me when I read tabloids or watched TV talk shows. I nicknamed him “Henry Higgins.” He called my new short haircut “too butch.”

“You’re too controlling,” I argued. I’d once imagined us as Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning. Were we closer to Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes?

I started smoking, toking, and drinking, all of which bothered him. He recommended I see a therapist. I refused, insisting he’d been on the couch so long, I got analyzed by osmosis.

Rushing home from a meeting one day, he announced that he’d been awarded a one-year fellowship in Israel and wanted me to accompany him. Although I was flattered, I couldn’t afford it, I confessed.

“I’ll pay for everything.”

“I already have a job that you got me. I can’t gallivant around as an appendage to a boyfriend.”

“We can get married,” he said.

Two female students I knew had wed their former professors. Yet I felt rushed and overwhelmed. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to get married. Or whether I was in love with him or the idea of him. Rather than take vows so young, I was yearning more for a mentor, a father figure. “I’m nowhere near ready for this,” I told him, honestly.   

Wounded by my cold response, he took off, refusing to return my calls. He was mortified. While I’d put the brakes on a serious commitment, I hadn’t meant to end everything. I was confused. If he saw me in our shared neighborhood, he’d rush to cross the street. I felt guilty and grief-stricken. Yet completely ghosting me — not even returning a phone call — seemed cruel.  Wasn’t he supposed to be the mature one? I’d never felt more alone or vulnerable. Breakups were bad enough, but I was afraid this split would exile me from my newfound colleagues and the literati crowd.  

Indeed, when I later became a teacher, two students reported that he’d badmouthed me, telling them not to take my class, claiming I had no idea what I was talking about. I couldn’t believe he’d publicly maligned me. I felt powerless and persecuted by an angry ex who could ruin my reputation. Freaked out, I finally did call a shrink. She reassured me that nobody would take his word over mine at this point. Then she asked what had originally drawn me to my professor. I said, “He had this great apartment overstuffed with books, and brilliant writer friends, and smart editors publishing his work …”

“So you didn’t want to marry him, you wanted to be him?” she asked.

I nodded yes, awed by the distinction.

Amid debates of older men harassing, seducing, and manipulating female students and subordinates, it was tempting to see myself as the innocent prey and injured party, another  young, impressionable protégée manipulated  by a powerful man. Yet as easy as that narrative would be on my ego, it wouldn’t be psychologically accurate.  

I realized this after my husband, a scriptwriter, spoke to my writing class about TV and film. The next day, an envelope came from one of my undergrads. Assuming she’d dropped off a late assignment, I opened it, taken aback to find her sexy headshots, body shots, and a note to my husband about how brilliant his talk had been and how she’d love to buy him a beer to discuss career options in “our biz.”

“She just wants me to help her get a job on Saturday Night Live,” he tried to reassure me.

She was sharp and talented. Yet from the vantage point of being her writing professor and his wife, it seemed to me she was blatantly flaunting her sexuality to further her career. It reminded me of the way my student Debbie had posted half-naked pictures of herself on social media,  probably what had lured the acclaimed novelist. She felt I was being prudish. I thought I was being protective.  

I wasn’t always so conservative, of course. We each harness whatever power we have to get ahead, whether overtly or subconsciously. I’d once been a hot 22-year-old using my looks to fuel my ambition. Yet here I was, wishing my students would own their roles in this clichéd, coquettish game while I hadn’t been honest either. I suddenly saw how I’d deceived myself years earlier. If my professor was drawn to my youth and beauty, I’d been enticed by his experience and status, which I wound up usurping. It was a trade-off I’d chosen, a barter that launched me, benefitting me most in the long-run.

Seeing him at a crowded soirée not long ago, our eyes met. I went over to say hello. He pretended not to remember who I was, turning away as I approached. I was shocked. Then I wondered if he’d intentionally shunned me because he was still angry. I was actually flattered to think I could elicit so much emotion all these years later.

Had he spoken to me that night, I would have thanked him. He had, after all, improved my life, teaching me to be an incisive reader and critic. He’d helped me land an awesome first job in the city. He’d inspired me to write books and teach, demystifying the process. I might have even apologized, not sure if I’d been immature back then or just a typically self-involved single player in my 20s.

Now, after two decades in a happy union, I’ve learned I can be a feminist who loves men and marriage. This involves not lumping all men into the enemy camp, or labeling someone “sexist” or “predatory” just because they express desire.  

In retrospect, my professor was not a Svengali seducing an innocent rube — or  a skirt chaser abusing his position, like other infamous men in the news. I was never victimized. He was a gentleman who’d postponed our romance until I was no longer in his class. I’d been a consenting adult who’d actually initiated the relationship. I’d wanted him, went for him, got him — and his connections. When he’d pushed for more, I set the limits I needed to, and not all that gently. Then I published a book telling my side of the story.

Ultimately, he might have been more of a victim than I was.

See the original article in NY Magazine.


About Susan:

susan2Susan Shapiro, an award-winning writing professor, freelances for The New York Times, New York Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, L.A. Times, Newsweek, Elle, Esquire & She’s the New York Times bestselling author of 10 books, including the acclaimed memoirs Lighting Up,Only as Good as Your Word, and Five Men Who Broke My Heart, the coauthored nonfiction booksUnhooked and The Bosnia List , and the novel What’s Never Said. She and her husband, a TV/film writer, live in Greenwich Village, where she teaches her popular “instant gratification takes too long” classes at the New School, NYU and in private workshops & seminars. You can follow her on Twitter at @susanshapironet or reach her at


Liquid Friday with Author Lisette Kristensen

This week we are featuring Dark Erotica author Lisette Kristensen. Her favorite cocktail is the Sidecar.


  • 3/4 ounce Cointreau
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juicesidecar 2
  • 1 1/2 ounces cognac
  • cocktail glass

Sidecar Instructions:

Shake well with cracked ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass that has had its outside rim rubbed with lemon juice and dipped in sugar.
The Wondrich Take:

The Sidecar is often singled out as the only good cocktail to come sidecar 1out of the long national nightmare that was Prohibition. And when you’re sipping one, you almost think it was all worth it. The luminous, golden-straw color, the perfectly controlled sweetness, the jazzy high notes of the citrus against the steady bass of the brandy. This is a drink whose suavité is beyond question — it’s the Warren Beatty of modern mixology. It’s so easy, in fact, to be seduced by this clever old roué that a word of caution would not be out of place here. These gents have a way of stealing up on you and — bimmo! (was thinking bimbo!!) Next thing you know it’s 8:43 on Monday morning and you’re sitting in the backseat of a taxi idling in front of your place of employ. In your skivvies.


So lets try this beverage, kick back and relax while reading about secondLisette’s  newest book: Facade’s Surrender (book 3 of the Dark Desire series) to be release on June 11th!  Hey! that’s tomorrow!



Here is an excerpt from Book 3:  Facade’s Surrender.

“She laid on the table panting, soaked in sweat and cum. Jocelyn lifted her head and there were two men right before with gorged unused cocks. She didn’t hold back the wicked grin. Both were handsome men, swarthy and dark. She took them to be middle eastern. Long hair, menacing dark eyes, with bodies well sculpted.  They weren’t as big, but their cocks were gorgeous.

firstThey gave her no time to react, both men dove at her. She laughed as their hands grappled with her body. One laid out over the table, his cock rose like a spear, she wanted to suck it but they had other plans.  Strong hands lifted her up and put her ass onto the man laying beneath her.  The other man stood before her, his eyes raked her body with such obvious lust, Jocelyn almost came on the spot.

She had an idea what they wanted, and she was crazed with lust. Rising off the one man, straddling his cock, while fingers wrapped to it. His moans deepened as she stroked it, pulling the head to caress her puckered dark star. She stared at the other man, cocking her leaking pussy at him. The man below got the hint and his strong fingers pulled down on her hips.  Jocelyn freed his prick and let him impale her ass.

Her cries echoed over the room, she held nothing back when his thick shaft filled her ass.  She trembled, spasm’s roamed through her body. Jocelyn was out of control with this dark burning need. She leaned back, spreading her legs, hooking her heels to the edge of the table. One of them crawled on top of her. Her arms wrapped to his neck.   Her pussy swollen from the early abuse, dripped with anticipation of being fucked again.

When he planted that cock into her, she moaned wildly. Two cocks filled her, they rubbed together like fire sticks and she wasted no time bursting into flames. The both found that rhythm, cocks fucking her in unison.  Hands from underneath grabbed at her tits, squeezing them viciously, tearing at her nipples. The other man focused on fucking her hard. Each thrust rode deep into her.  His crown punched at her core, bringing a heightened pleasure to race through her.

Jocelyn floated to the double hammering of cocks. Eyes rolled to the back of her head, letting every sensation of fingers, cocks take hold of her depraved psyche. She fucked back hard, the need to cum again roiled within her. Jocelyn found her deviant heaven, nothing thirdheld back. Her cries and begging for more filled the room.  The men grunted like beasts, sweat flushed over their bodies as the pace quickened.

A finger found her clit, she had no idea who it was, it didn’t matter. She screamed to the heavens when that thick coarse digit raked ruthlessly over her shivering pearl.  The cocks fucked her holes with a frenzy, Jocelyn no longer cared.  Burning sensations ripped across her, stars blinked across her eyes and that throbbing rush crashed down between legs.  She blew apart, shattered into a thousand shards of lust. Her body quaked and shuddered.”

Also available in this series are:

Book One, Unveiling Facade.  A short story setting the stage for Jocelyn’s future exploits.  UnveilingAvailable on Amazon and also on Smashwords.




Book Two, Facade’s Retribution.  Available on Kindle Unlimitedretribution


Book Three, Facade’s Surrender is now available at Smashwords at 99 cents. For Kindle users download the Mobi file. If you use Nook, Kobo or iBooks it will take a few days to arrive at those platforms.



About author Lisette Kristensen:  Lisette grew up in a home full of artistic types. Her brothers became professionals in painting and photography, while her father worked in TV and film. Reading had been a passion of hers, mostly historical fiction. It wasn’t until her father left laying around (bathroom no less) a trashy Nazi BDSM magazine that her desire to write kicked in. That moment changed her life and she dove headlong into the world of depraved/deviant erotica.

It took years before Lisette could put those stories that rambled in her darkest corridors to paper. Unveiling Facade is her first of many yet to come.


Liquid Friday with Author Alan W. Jankowski

This week we are featuring Poetry and Short Story author Alan W. Jankowski.  Albeit Alan is known for his breathtaking 9-11 Tribute Poem, he does like to frame in words more mundane elements as well.   In fact he wrote his Dirty Martini recipe in rhyme, so lets hear in Alan’s own words:

The Dirty Martini:

The making of a dirty martini is truly an art,
Vodka and vermouth are merely a start,
But follow my advice and you can depend,
On achieving perfection in the end.

DirtyMartini_00First the martini glasses should be filled,
With a little ice to ensure they’re chilled,
Your next step as the martini maker,
Is to put some ice in the shaker.

Next pour in the vodka, a premium kind,
For the perfect martini, use the best you can find,
Just a dash of vermouth is all it should take,
For the best martini you can make.

For a drink that’s smooth and never rough,
The next step I just can’t stress enough,
Grab the olive juice and begin to pour,
And if you think it’s plenty, pour some more.

Put the lid on the shaker and give a few shakes,DirtyMartini2
Just a few seconds is really all it takes,
Now take the glasses and dump the ice,
And add a couple olives, plump and nice.

Then over those olives you can begin to pour,
And then start to savor what’s in store,
For if you follow this little rhyme,
You’ll have the perfect martini every time.

I got turned on to dirty martinis by a girl I was going out with several years back, she was a big fan…apparently she knew stuff.

Wow!  Now, we are certainly capable of making our own Dirty Martinis.  So lets grab one, kick back and relax learning more about Alan’s new book : “I Often Wonder: a collection of poetry and prose.”  It is a collection of 78  of his poems and 4 short stories.

Book Blurb:
All of the short stories and most of the poems included in this volume have been published before, mostly online, though the majority of the stories will have appeared in print in various journals and anthologies by the time you read this. When I first started i-often-wonder-93-1390224505writing stories, and poems shortly after-wards, back in 2009, the last thing on my mind was getting anything published. It was something I did for fun, and found pleasure in. I was not until late 2010 when I had over a hundred stories and poems that the idea of getting anything published even occurred to me. Since then, I’ve been published in various journals and anthologies, this is the first book of my own. I only found out about Inner Child Enterprises after entering their World Peace, World Poetry 2012 contest, but I’m grateful for the discovery, and for the support of Bill and Janet at the organization. Perhaps far more importantly than the pleasure of holding my own book in my hands is the people I’ve met on this writing journey. The people who have written me expressing how much they’ve been moved by my words. The people who have sent notes asking if it was alright to send one of my poems to their loved ones, because they could identify so closely with the words. My only hope is that this book finds you equally moved, and let my words be my gift, from me to you.    Alan W. Jankowski, June 12, 2012.
Lets listen to a wonderful poem straight from the pages of “I Often Wonder…..

We Started As Friends

We started out as a couple of friends,
Who saw each other now and then,
Two people hurt many times before,
And afraid of getting hurt once more.

Slowly we began to share long walks,
And share our thoughts in quiet talks,
And of each other we soon grew fond,
Realizing we shared a special bond.

Hearts that harbored so much pain,
They never thought they’d love again,
Secretly wishing that they would find,
Someone to give them peace of mind.

Hearts that searched so far and wide,
For the love that went missing inside,
Souls that roamed long and far,
Wishing upon most every star.

Then one day my wish came true,
I found love again and it was you,
There was a piece missing from my soul,
You were the one who made me whole.05-17-10.

Allan W. Jankowski

About the author:

Alan W. Jankowski is the award winning author of well over one alan-4-1367384557hundred short stories, plays and poems. His stories have been published online, and in various journals including Oysters & Chocolate, Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal, eFiction Magazine, Zouch, The Rusty Nail, and a few others he can’t remember at the moment. His poetry has more recently become popular, and his 9-11 Tribute poem was used extensively in ceremonies during the tenth anniversary of this tragic event… When he is not writing, which is not often, his hobbies include music and camera collecting. He currently resides in New Jersey. He always appreciates feedback of any kind on his work, and can be reached by e-mail at:

We could not leave you without one more example of Alan’s genius, one that strikes close to many harts:

We Shall Never Forget (9-11 Tribute)

Let the world always remember,
That fateful day in September,
And the ones who answered duty’s call,
Should be remembered by us all.

9b97013d74e857b12fe766318712f514Who left the comfort of their home,
To face perils as yet unknown,
An embodiment of goodness on a day,
When men’s hearts had gone astray.

Sons and daughters like me and you,
Who never questioned what they had to do,
Who by example, were a source of hope,
And strength to others who could not cope.

Heroes that would not turn their back,
With determination that would not crack,
Who bound together in their ranks,
And asking not a word of thanks.

Men who bravely gave their lives,
Whose orphaned kids and widowed wives,
Can proudly look back on their dad,
Who gave this country all they had.

Actions taken without regret,
Heroisms we shall never forget,
The ones who paid the ultimate price,
Let’s never forget their sacrifice.

And never forget the ones no longer here,
Who fought for the freedoms we all hold dear,
And may their memory never wane,
Lest their sacrifices be in vain.