Next Generation Indie Book Awards – Call for Entries

*from the Next Generation Indie Book Awards site*

Visit   to learn more.

Entries are now being accepted for the 2019 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the most exciting and rewarding book awards program open to independent publishers and authors worldwide who have a book written in English and released in 2017, 2018 or 2019 or with a 2017, 2018 or 2019 copyright date. The Next Generation Indie Book Awards is presented by Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group (

With over 70 categories to choose from, enter by February 15, 2019 (all books must be received in our offices by February 15, 2019) to take advantage of this exciting opportunity to have your book considered for cash prizes, awards, exposure, possible representation by a leading literary agent, and recognition as one of the top independently published books of the year!

The Nine Dots Prize Submission


The Nine Dots Prize seeks to reward original thinking in response to contemporary societal issues. Each Prize cycle lasts two years, with a new question being announced every other October.


All those 18 years of age and over are welcome to enter but responses and the resulting book must be in English. We are looking for innovative thinking, whether this comes from new voices or from experienced authors. The Prize’s heartland is in the analysis of contemporary society and societal challenges, and we welcome responses that draw on all disciplines and cross-discipline thinking. Joint entries will be considered, although proposals that put forward a number of authors all contributing single sections (such as an edited collection) will not be accepted.

Learn more about The Nine Dots

The question: Is there still no place like home?

Submissions open for the US$100,000 Nine Dots Prize

Do you have ideas that could change the world but no platform to share them? Do you have an insight or viewpoint that needs to be heard?

Submissions have opened today for the next cycle of the Nine Dots Prize, which this year is asking entrants to answer the following question in 3,000 words: “Is there still no place like home?” The winner will receive US$100,000 and a book deal with Cambridge University Press, for a book which will expand on the ideas in their response to the Prize question.

It does not matter whether you’re a known author or undiscovered voice, the aim of the Prize is to reward an individual with an original perspective on contemporary societal issues who demonstrates the potential to be able to develop this into a short book.

Everything you need to know about entering the Prize can be found on the submissions page of our website, and we regularly update our FAQs so please check there if you have any questions. The deadline for entering is 12:00 GMT on Monday 21 January 2019.

Resources for Writers

There is a lot happening all the time in Indie Publishing. When you have a moment to look for new opportunities and information about improving your craft knowing where to go is a must.

Consider subscribing to Authors Publish. This is a free newsletter that lists information about magazines and publishers who are currently looking for submissions, and articles about the art of writing.

Their most recent newsletter featured a listing for Belle Lutte Press, an Indie Publisher currently taking open submissions.

Learn more about Authors Publish and Belle Lutte Press and the opportunities and information that await you!

Now, go write something amazing today!



Jo Brown is an international award winning author, experienced journalist, blogger and fanfiction enthusiast who writes romance because to her, “every story is a love story.” She is also a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Alliance of Independent Authors. She publishes her unique blend of love, adventure and romance under the pen name Cybill Cain.

ALAREON MEDIA is her dream to help other authors on their journey through her personal and business experience. Contact her today and learn about all the ways ALAREON can make your story shine!

2019 Emily Contest Submissions

2019 Emily Contest
Sponsor: West Houston RWA
Fee: $25 WHRWA members / $35 all others
Closes: October 2, 2018, midnight CST
Eligibility: unpublished in the category entered.
Entry: First 5600 words, no synopsis.
Categories: Contemporary-Long, Contemporary-Short, Historical, FFP/Paranormal, Romantic Suspense, YA.
Judges: First Round Judges: Published in Romance, PAN authors or PRO authors who give positive, helpful feedback.
Final Judges: Two publishing professionals: agent and editor for each finalist.
Top Prize: Silver Emily Pin and Certificate for winner, $100 Grand Prize.

Speaking from the Heart – Inspiration

Where do you get your ideas? What do you use for inspiration?

Those are two of the most commonly asked questions for authors. They are also  impossible  to answer. They imply that the answer has more meaning than the end results.

Where we get our ideas, and what inspires us is as individual and unique as the storyteller themselves. It’s not like we can draw a map where X marks the spot that will allow you to pack a bag, travel there and partake.

Any idea or inspiration that will resonate comes from the heart of you.

The confusion may come in because the author or artist’s ideas touch you, and so you instinctively seek to understand more about them, confusing your journey of self-introspection with a journey into the author’s heart and mind.


The simple truth is, if a story has touched you that is about you, not the author. Don’t look away from what you find in yourself. Don’t seek to validate it with external experiences that are not your own. Don’t look for inspiration outside the things that move you as a person, and as an artist because that is your voice.

You will need a firm grasp of your voice if you want make it heard above others.

Hold the things that inspire you close. Seek them often. Use them to renew your will to move on, even when things seem their darkest.

There has never been a story told that won’t touch a reader somewhere the way you yourself have been touched. Don’t be afraid to be that author for someone else.

Now go write something brilliant today!

Until next time,



Jo Brown is an international award winning author, experienced journalist, blogger and fanfiction enthusiast who writes romance because to her, “every story is a love story.” She is also a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Alliance of Independent Authors. She publishes her unique blend of love, adventure and romance under the pen name Cybill Cain.

ALAREON MEDIA is her dream to help other authors on their journey through her personal and business experience. Contact her today and learn about all the ways ALAREON can make your story shine!





Make this cover yours for just $35!

Ebook or paperback, choice of fonts and placement are negotiable. CONTACT ALAREON today and let’s make sure you have a cover to remember!

Need something original for your masterpiece? ALAREON has you covered! CONTACT US and let’s talk about how to make your story shine!

ALAREON MEDIA LLC uses stock images and special effects to create a cover guaranteed to grab a reader’s attention. We provide artwork for all genres of fiction an and nonfiction specifically designed for you! We also provide a variety of premade covers and graphic teasers to promote your work.

Defining BDSM

Elizabeth Williams is the Senior Managing Editor at ALAREON MEDIA. She is a voracious reader of all genres, and has been active in the BDSM lifestyle community. She brings a unique perspective to literature that chooses to explore this culture, and in writing Lizzie’s Whipping Post hopes to bring clarity to storytelling about the BDSM lifestyle to educate as well as entertain.

 B   D   S    M


Those four little letters have caused a huge wave within the indie author community ever since the day the book, Fifty Shades of Grey showed up.  Within the reader community, because most of us had never actually been exposed to anything even remotely related to BDSM, we accepted the assertion that Christian Grey was a dominant and that Anastasia was submissive.  Having nothing else to teach us, we just knew this had to be fact.

Today, I’m going to briefly go over what those four letters mean and explain each facet of BDSM, which by the way, doesn’t contain ANYTHING about Domination and Submission.

B is for bondage.

Bondage also includes rope practices such as Shibari, which is a Japanese form of rope bondage that makes the receiver into Rope Art, for lack of a better term.  Your characters can play with handcuffs and scarves in the bedroom, but please don’t call it BDSM, because it isn’t anywhere close.  Yes, bondage can be something simple, such as handcuffs, but to a practitioner of BDSM, it means to totally control your partner through ropes, chains, cuffs, leather thongs or rope, or jute (and there are many other materials used for bondage, too many to list here).

D is for Discipline.

To control your partner’s actions by disciplining them if they deviate from your instruction.  As you can tell, a D/s lifestyle would fall partially under this heading, but D/s stands alone because it is so much more than the sum of its parts.  Discipline, as contained in BDSM, can be something as simple as a punishment spanking for disobeying a command, or as complex as humiliation of your partner in front of friends or acquaintances.  The level to which a couple uses Discipline in their pursuit of the lifestyle depends upon both personalities.

 S is for Sadism.

Interesting word and if you want the best definition I can give you, just look at Christian Grey.  Sadism’s definition would be wanting to forcibly bend people to your will, with the outcome being real pain for the partner.  In order for this relationship to work, the receiving partner must certainly be partly a masochist….and so we move to our last letter so this relationship can be explained.

M is for Masochism.

A masochist needs pain, just as they need food and water, in order to survive. If asked, they will tell you that the pain focuses them, centers them, and that by concentrating on the pain, they are able to temporarily forget their worries. More importantly, to a person, they will tell you that after the session, they are able to focus much better on those problems and work to solve them, where before, they may have been overwhelmed by them.

When you write about BDSM, you are writing about the practices above.  BDSM is not bedroom play with handcuffs. BDSM is not a spanking given as “funishment”, unless those two people are an active, practicing D/s couple.

When a woman (and I’m using a woman for an example here since most contemporary “romance” uses a female as the less dominant partner), visits a BDSM club and is immediately found by a Dom who takes her to a room, ties her up and spanks her, every practitioner of BDSM cringes. Even those of us who are no longer practicing will cringe. Why? Because no one in their right mind gives up that type of control to a stranger and no one trusts on sight. If you have a character that trusts someone to flog them, without a contract or without understanding of safe words, then you are reading a true fantasy.

All Dominants are Alphas, but not all Alphas are Dominants.

Dominant, with a capital “D”, refers to a mindset that can inhabit both male and female. The Dominants want to control their surroundings. In my experience they do this usually because in their past that control has been lost to them, sometimes temporarily and sometimes for a long length of time.  If you ever get close enough to a Dominant to learn his/hers innermost secrets, you’ll find that they’ve felt the loss of control far deeper than you or I would have experienced it, and so have vowed to control their lives after that point.

The Submissive who is in an active D/s relationship with a Dominant has told him/her their most basic thoughts and secrets.  All those hidden thoughts that they’ve never shared with anyone else, MUST be shared with the Dominant.  In exchange the Dominant does the same.  From that sharing comes trust, and within that trust is built the D/s relationship.

A D/s relationship may start with dating, plain and vanilla.  The trust that has to live within the Dom and Sub must start at the beginning, just the same way a vanilla relationship begins.  The sub and the Dom are both put into a position where they must begin to trust the other with their innermost secrets.

I’ve found that the trust is what is missing in most D/s relationships written about in Contemporary Romance – either Erotic, Steamy, or whatever you want to call it. Through the trust, you’ll find the romance that readers crave.

Until next time,





Need a consultant for your BDSM novel? Have a question you need expert advice on how to handle regarding the plot of your story? CONTACT US today, and explore ALAREON’s consulting options to make your story shine!






Author Interview- Victoria Vale

ALAREON is proud to begin our series of author interviews with the amazing and delightful Victoria Vale!  Her Amazon author page describes her as “the author of over two dozen Romance and YA novels under various pseudonyms. As a lover of erotic romance, she enjoys nothing more than a sexy hero paired with a sassy heroine, flavored with a dash of spice and lots of heat.’

Thank you, Victoria for taking the time to sit down with us and let us celebrate your work with you! Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about who Victoria Vale is.

VV:   I’m Victoria Vale, a wife and mother of three from small-town Texas. I’ve been writing since I was 12 years old (I wrote my first novel at that age on notebook paper with stubby pencils), and haven’t stopped since. I’m the author of over two dozen fiction books under various pen names, and have written Romance, Young Adult, and Erotica in a variety of genres.

Please tell our readers about your journey of becoming an Indie Author.

VV:  Like many Indie authors, I started off trying to go to the traditional route. I spent two years of my life trying to peddle a manuscript that no one would sign. I received the same feedback from almost all the agents and publishers I queried: my writing was strong and the story was good, but my book wasn’t ‘marketable’. I became discouraged and wrote the entire process off as a waste … until I discovered self-publishing. Initially, I only wanted to try it out to see if anyone would even want to read it. That first book began to sell, and became the first in a series. I was a stay-at-home mom with nothing to lose, so I turned it into a business. Seven years and many titles later, I have no regrets. I am able to do what I love for a living and help my husband support our family.

What’s the most valuable experience you’ve had so far on your journey?

VV:  That I do not need the backing of a major publishing house to succeed in this business. For a long time I thought earning that ‘big deal’ would cement my worth as a writer and an author. But now, I’ve been doing this on my own for so long, I couldn’t imagine it any other way … unless the ‘right’ trad-pub deal were to fall out of the sky. I learned that all I needed was a voice, a story, and an audience. I have all three of those things, and said audience shows me every time I have a new release that my books are worthy, entertaining, anticipated, and perhaps even vital to their everyday lives. No publisher can ‘give’ me what I’ve earned with my own sweat.

Do you have any advice for authors just starting out?

VV:  Write the sorts of books that YOU would want to read. You don’t need to try to write the next Twilight or 50 Shades … you only need to be true to your own voice or your own story. And don’t worry over whether anyone will want to read it. If you would want to enjoy the story in your head, I promise you there are many others who would enjoy it as well.

What do you like to drink while you are writing?

VV:  Water, water, and more water! It’s hot in Texas, and I try to stay hydrated. People who know me well know me as a coffee fiend—and I am one—but I try to limit myself to 1-2 cups a day. Between those cups I sip water all day long.

Who is your favorite character that you’ve ever created and why?

VV:  That’s a tough one, since all my characters are sort of a part of me, and I love them all for different reasons. And I find myself enamored with whichever characters I’m working on in the moment—and of course I have a special connection to my heroes because the hero is my favorite part of any romance novel. If I absolutely HAD to choose, I would have to say Lord Simon Fitzwilliam, Marquis of Ashton, from Submitting to the Marquis … because he has everything I love best in a hero. He’s tortured and scarred, a bit brittle on the outside, but hiding a deep-seated vulnerability because of his horrible past. Unlike so many other romantic heroes, he isn’t running from love. He KNOWS he needs it, that it will improve his otherwise bleak life. And when he sees the heroine, Sophie, for the first time, he instantly recognizes that she can give that to him in a way no one else can. Then, he does everything he can to make her his, chasing the love that’s eluded him his whole life. There’s a sweetness to him that doesn’t come off right away, but it’s there from the beginning.

Who do you consider to be your greatest literary influences?

VV:  I’d have to name a lot of the old-school bodice ripper authors, as those were the romances I cut my teeth on. Authors like Johanna Lindsey, Kathleen Woodiwiss, and Julie Garwood … as well as those I got into when I was older and historical romance evolved from the bodice ripper age into funny and sensual stories by ladies like Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, and Sabrina Jeffries. There are many others, but these are the names I think of when I consider my influences.

What do you enjoy most about being an author?

VV:  The freedom to be able to work from home, doing what I love, as well as being able to interact with my readers. Nothing makes me happier than getting to hear from them how they feel about a story or character of mine.

Why do you feel romance novels are important?

VV:  I think that romance is so vital, even though it gets shunned and ridiculed by outsiders. It’s funny, even in other genres, the protagonist is almost always doing something for love. In a thriller, a man might go vigilante to avenge his child or save his wife. In a mystery, a woman might hire a detective to solve the case of her murdered husband of 20 years. In YA, young people find themselves along with their first loves. Romance is at the center of everything, and love is what makes people feel most alive. Aside from that, I am all for the idea of a woman owning her fantasies, and erotica/romance offers such a wide spectrum of indulgence for us. Men have like 800 varieties of porn (not that I’m likening romance to porn, but we’re talking sexual fantasy here), why shouldn’t women have virile dukes, wealthy billionaires, sexy vampires, shapeshifters, bikers, or whatever else tickles their fancy?

What is your ultimate goal as a writer?

VV:  I don’t think I can really quantify my ultimate goal. It isn’t a specific achievement or anything like that. I just want to be able to write and publish my work, grow my readership, and reach the people who enjoy what I do. So, in that sense, I’ve sort of already reached my ultimate goal. At this point I’m all about expansion—writing MORE books, reaching MORE readers. If I make some sort of bestsellers list, win awards, or get that elusive publishing deal … well, that’d be fine. But it’s not something I feel I must have in order to feel I’ve achieved something.

What’s the one thing you want readers to take away from your stories?

VV:  That love is worth fighting and working for, and that good sex is more important to your life than you think! Seriously, ladies … learn what pleases you and demand it, go after it. My life became so much more enriched once I dropped all my preconceived notions about sex and sexuality. Your mind, soul, and body will thank you!

What is something you struggled with at the beginning but now feel more comfortable with, and what was your process for getting there?

VV:  Writing in the male POV has always been something I worry about. Being a woman and all, I only have so much insight into the way a man’s mind works. And one of my pet peeves is female authors writing in the male point of view without it being convincing. I’ve read books where the man sounded like a woman in his own head, and it just didn’t feel authentic to me. As I’ve written and published more books and I’ve seen readers connect so strongly to the men I write, I’ve relaxed about it. I don’t worry over it as much as I used to. I’ve gained confidence in that area, for sure.

Do you outline your stories extensively, or do you complete your outline initially then let your characters drive the story?

VV:  It really depends. Each story is different, depending on what’s happening in my life at the time, or on where the idea came from. For the most part, I don’t outline or plan ahead. I literally write by the seat of my pants. I like this process best, because it allows the characters to drive the story with their actions. If I allow them to take me by surprise, then I know they’ll take the reader by surprise as well. Every now and then, I’ll get a new story idea while I’m already knee-deep in another project, so to keep the story fresh in my mind, I may outline a bit, jot down some notes. And of course, since I write historical books, some projects require me to research deeper than the things I already know. I’ve acquired a lot of peripheral knowledge about the Regency era, but if I’m writing about a subject or location I know nothing about, I will conduct my research and take notes before I even begin so I am prepared. But, aside from all that, I’m writing on the fly!

How much research do you do for each historical you write and does that research ever drive the story in a different direction than you’d originally chosen?

VV:  So, as I said in the previous question, a lot of my research is already done. Most of my stories let me rely on the subject I know most about—the lives and surroundings of the Regency era le bon ton (the titled and wealthy people of society). Of course I may need to pause in writing to double-check my facts on something, but for the most part everything in my stories happens in familiar places. Some stories require me to read up on something I may not know as much about, but it’s never anything so major that it will alter my story. Since I’ve been doing this a while I think I’ve gotten pretty good at coming up with stories that fit neatly into my knowledge base, so new information isn’t a detriment to what I want to write.

Your duology, The Villain and The Dove, gained a lot of popularity and I understand that you will be writing two more books that will follow and create a series. Tell us about them.

VV:  It’s funny about The Villain Duology … I wrote those books for myself and never anticipated the reception it has received. I was on a dark romance kick, just devouring all these juicy, taboo stories that were all contemporary-set. And as I was reading them, I thought, ‘You don’t see stories like this in historical often, if at all. How much more interesting and intriguing could it be if you set it in a Regency era castle in far-flung Scotland?’ The idea was simple at first—take the often-used ‘virgin sells her body to a bad man for lots of money to save herself or her family’, and make it something more. I wrote those stories because it was what *I* wanted to read. See how that goes back to my advice for writers? I wrote something I desired, that I wasn’t finding within my own genre, and people loved it so much more than I thought they would. It’s been great.

I only ever intended it to be a two-book set, but then side characters started jumping out at me. And then readers started telling me how much they loved those same side characters and expressed interest in reading their stories. So, I’ve just sort of rolled with it. I’ve been elated to see what started off as just a little pet project turn into the biggest series I’ve written to date. It’s exciting for me!

For right now I only intend for there to be two follow-up books. The Butterfly is one of them, and is coming October 16. The Damsel is what I plan to be the final book, and doesn’t have a release date yet. There’s always a chance more secondary characters will jump out at me, but for now, that’s all I have planned for the Villain universe.

The Duology books are dark with touches of BDSM that isn’t of the playful bedroom variety. Were those scenes difficult to write and still make them appealing to the masses?

VV:  Funnily enough, no. I actually really enjoyed writing those scenes and did nothing at all to blunt their edges or make them ‘palatable’. And that’s because all the dark stories I love also have a huge, captive audience. The women who like dark romance really do like it DARK. They want extremes and taboos, and I wanted to deliver. I wrote the sort of dark, dirty BDSM scenes I enjoy reading, and trusted that the readers who enjoy this genre would find them compelling. It paid off, because the majority of reviewers have mentioned their enjoyment of the sex scenes. It just goes to show that trusting your gut almost always leads you somewhere good.

What do you read when you finally get time? What genre is your favorite?

VV:  Romance is my favorite genre, of course. My tastes are very eclectic, but naturally historical romance is my favorite. I read YA books as well, and the occasional literary fiction book. But romance is my number one genre, and I read across sub-genres from Contemporary to Paranormal, to Historical to Fantasy. If it is well written and has a compelling story, I’ll read it!

There’s a rumor that you are hoping to do a contemporary series.  Is the idea formulated or is it still percolating?

VV:  So, I actually have two contemporary series brewing right now, but they are a long ways off at this point. I had originally planned to launch the first one this year, but the success of The Villain Duology and the expansion of it into a series changed all of that. I also have a new historical series that has to come before my contemporary ideas because it’s something I’ve been excited about writing for a while. I don’t want to divulge too much about any of my future projects … but I will say that contemporary works are coming from me, hopefully within the next year.

Tell us about what you are working on right now.

VV:  Right now I’m working on my yearly Christmas anthology. My readers really enjoy reading follow-up stories of couples from my Scandalous Ballroom Encounters series. So, every year I choose three couples and write a little expansion of their happily ever after. It’s a tradition I’ve really come to enjoy.

Where can we find out more about you and your books?

For a full listing of all my books (ebooks and audio) you can visit my website:

Universal Preorder Link for The Butterfly

Facebook Group


Thank you, Victoria Vale! So much of what you said here resonates with me both as a reader and an author, and I appreciate very much you taking the time to share your journey and your passion with us all! Best of luck to you on your new release, and I hope this article helps new readers to find your amazing work and enjoy your storytelling.

Speaking From the Heart- The Problem with Genre Labels

Some people will tell you that they only read certain genres. Mystery, thriller, romance, fiction, women’s fiction, fantasy, science fiction, the list and the subgenres within each one is dizzying.

To me a good story can hold more than one of these elements, and in fact to be memorable it must.

Why? Because life is more than one thing. We as people are more than one thing.

Life can be filled with any and all of these elements swirling and churning all together at once. For a story to be relatable and leave a lasting impression on me as person it must be rich and multi-dimensional, incorporating multiple threads of an existence.

No detective is an island. While they solve crimes they still have feelings, and some of those can be romantic.

No fantasy character can quest and make me care unless they also have an emotional storyline.

No life is lived, fictional or otherwise, without forming intimate connections to the world around them.

The best lives, the ones that make the most difference, incorporate more than one experience and so does a good story.

If you took the time to talk to a person, and really got to know them you would find that everyone has a thrilling moment of mystery, a fantastic experience where reality seemed to peel back around them, and most of all they have a love story. Someone they have, or someone they seek to give all the other parts meaning. Someone they can share their experiences with and feel that they are understood and connected to the world around them.

Life and stories are only as limited as you let them be. Always be open to more.

Until next time,



Jo Brown is an international award winning author, experienced journalist, blogger and fanfiction enthusiast who writes romance because to her, every story is a love story. She is also a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Alliance of Independent Authors. She publishes her unique blend of love, adventure and romance under the pen name Cybill Cain.

ALAREON MEDIA is her dream to help other authors on their journey through her personal and business experience. Contact her today and learn about all the ways ALAREON can make your story shine!