Blog Stop: Lillian MacKenzie Rhine, author of ‘Winter’s Island’!

FINALCOVER1kLillian MacKenzie Rhine has just released her new vampire romance, Winter’s Island. Below is a blurb about the gorgeously lethal paranormal romance.


Cay Winters is an impressionable free spirit from Los Angeles, California. Losing her mother at a very youthful age has given her a drive to live life a certain way. Her aunt Lulu and cousin Malcolm welcome her into their hearts, taking care of all of the things needed by a motherless child. Being an artist has taken her to a lot of interesting places; but when the chance to live in Saint Thomas, Virgin Islands appears, she is eager to take it.

Once there, she is overwhelmed by the beauty and the mystique of the Virgin Islands. The food, the beaches, the attractions are amazing, but William Gatling is the best part. He takes on the task of teaching Cay how to love the right way. The only problem is the secret that he holds from her. A revelation that could rip her from his heart; or, worse yet, end her life.

The two lovers spend so much effort trying to fight their inner demons that they cannot see the true devils that are sitting in front of their faces. Once Cay fights her battles within, she can finally win the war outside. Once William accepts the truth, he can see the light.


Today this talented author will be discussing the insights for choosing the interesting location of Saint Thomas, US Virgin Islands for her setting for Winter’s Island.


The novel Winter’s Island was heavily inspired from a personal friend of mine that happened to originally reside on the beautiful island of Saint Thomas. With making this 32 square foot mecca of wildlife and beautiful beaches the location for my story, I embarked on the task of keeping the spirit of the island present at all times.

There was not a day that I did not research not only Saint Thomas itself but the Caribbean and West Indians as well. Never having the luxury of visiting such glorious environments, I had to heavily rely on personal friends who had roots in the Caribbean plus others who had visited themselves.  I was very naive to the fact that each island, even the three of Virgin Islands, all operated differently with a range of traditions and customs. YouTube became my best bet when it came to internet research. The drawbacks from researching on the internet is the abundance of information for tourists which was against what I was trying to achieve.

Given that run-of-the-mill maps of Saint Thomas did cover a good portion of the island small rural areas unseen on most maps had an importance to me as. With an abundance of beaches and locations, it was vital that I knew where all attractions were in comparison to my main characters’ residences.

Another thing that proved to be interesting is capturing the local culinary styles and soul foods. I found myself going through a history lesson of sorts just to answer the question why the foods of Saint Thomas have a Indian fusion with curries and Indian inspired dishes versus what I thought to be island specific foods like fish and fruits. Of course, no one can survive only on fish and mangos…well they could…but that would not make for a good book.

So outside of knowing the different types of foods, describing them was a different story. How to describe something you have never sampled? In the exact way a reader would experience it; through careful descriptive and wild imaginations. Being a great cook with a sensitive palate does not hurt either. Some of the dishes that I showcased were callaloo, roti, as well as rice and peas.

Lastly, the climate and building style made up for the remainder of vital island information. This also called for a brief…well extensive…history lesson as well. From the historical African slave market that presently held the produce market to Tillett Gardens, the island proved to have a lot of history within those 32 square feet. The mixture of building structures, ornate iron workings, and hillside residences made up for a lot of the overall look. The climate was perfect for the most part so I put a lot of focus into the description of daytime versus the night life. The piercing sun and rich liquid darkness of night that comes alive with lights and people.


Overall, I am confident that I was not only able to capture the essence of Saint Thomas from remote towns to succulent dishes and enchanting environments, but I was able to make the island itself a major character amongst Cay, William, Jeremiah, and Ivy.


Saint Thomas as a fifth character in the story sounds like a great read to me. To order your copy of Winter’s Island, click on the amazon links found below and be sure to leave a review on amazon and goodreads. Find book trailers, character bios, and more on Lillian MacKenzie Rhine’s blog found below.

Thank you for tuning in today.

To find Lillian MacKenzie Rhine in cyberspace:







Blog Stop: Christopher Bynum, author of ‘With Benefits’ . . .

With Benefits Cover Master-CB-Nook[1]

I used to be a book snob. I had a very short list of authors that I read religiously and new authors only broke into my reading list via the New York Times Book Review which I started reading with my Dad when I was about fourteen. I know, I know . . . I was missing out, big-time. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been fortunate enough to read, and to come to know some great indie authors whose talent continues to astound me. One of these is Christopher Bynum, who also writes under the moniker ‘The Black‘.

I love his work, and have never been disappointed with anything of his I’ve read, even though his work can vary quite a bit as he writes across multiple genres. I turn to one of his books when I need a boost to get me back into the writing frame of mind, just as I turn to him as a compatriot, partner and mentor in this writing life of ours. So I am so pleased to host him today, to talk about his latest work, “With Benefits“.

Welcome Chris! Let’s dive right in with the questions . . .

What made you want to write ‘With Benefits’? What did you want to say that you didn’t think had been said in similar ‘friends with benefits’-themed books?

“With Benefits” was inspired by real life events, and it’s actually a second version of the story. The first version—which I did publish somewhere online once—was a literal recounting of the real event. As I recall, some online readers were depressed by the ending. But hey, real life can be depressing sometimes. More recently I decided to write a “what if version” of that short story with a more upbeat  ending. That story became the novel “With Benefits.”

In ‘With Benefits’ Kyle and Britt become close friends very quickly though they’re attracted to each other. From a man’s perspective, why does a man sometimes NOT make a move even when he’s attracted to a woman?

There are no absolutes and this may read as insane, but sometimes a man won’t make a move because he actually likes and respects a woman. He thinks there might be more good things about her than just her body, and wants to know what that is. He still wants her physically if that’s the way he’s attracted to her, but I think that sometimes we hope that she be won’t be that easy. Again, there are no absolutes. It might also be that he’s painfully shy. Or that he might be physically attracted to her but not like her otherwise, enough to turn him off to wanting her. I’ve known a couple of women in my life that I felt were hot physically, but if I didn’t have to work with them I wouldn’t want them anywhere near me because I didn’t like them as people. None of this has to do with Kyle’s situation, however. He and Britt simply had poor communication and invalid assumptions based on what they did say to each other.

We see Kyle in ‘With Benefits’ struggle with some unresolved issues about women and their sometimes dishonest motives in relationships. This is a recurring theme in your work. Tell us why.

I didn’t set out to make it a theme, so I guess it’s my subconscious acting on experiences and observations. And, I’m all about character in whatever I write, and women tend to be more complex and more confusing when they do their dirt as compared to men. For example, men may lie to excuse the wrong they do, but they know they’re lying, and you know it, too. Women are much better at rationalizing and giving themselves excuses for why they do wrong, and they usually have half the human population backing them up as a support system. Men don’t back each other up like that, because we know a lie when we see one (“Damn, bro, she busted you.”). Sometimes women are so good at rationalization that the damaged man is left thinking it’s his fault. Again, there are no absolutes and I’m not being negative, but that stuff makes for a more interesting write, and hopefully a more interesting read.

Your books, including ‘With Benefits’ feature women who are also very realistically crafted. Not many male authors do this well. What’s your secret to writing women so well?

I’ve always liked women, so I pay attention to them. I was never one of those boys who thought girls had cooties or whatever and didn’t want them hanging around. From Pre-K—from the moment I recognized that girls were different than boys—I was fascinated, and I wanted one.  So I pay attention.

Britt is a so-called “good woman” who struggles to find a good man. What do you think about the old refrain from some women that “all the good men are taken”? Do you think that’s true?

It’s not true. Due to the impact of society and the times we live in the pickings might be slimmer, but good men are out there. I would suggest to frustrated women that if you keep digging in the same hole, you’re going to find the same dirt. You can add all your special water to it and make your temporary mud pie, but when the water dries you’ll have the same dirt you started with. I feel for women because I see how the game has changed. You’re not the prize anymore; men are, and that goes against nature. Even in generations past when women were second class citizens, they still had their feminine power, and men respected it.

Women might not have been able to vote and were paid pennies on the dollar as compared to men, but a man would pull out a chair for a lady and open a door for her and give a certain respect. If in those times one man had called a woman a bitch or a ho on the street, another man would’ve punched him in his face. Women always had that power: the power of respect for their femininity. But today too many women have given up their power. A man will only do what a woman allows him to do. So if women want things to change and want more good men, they have to take back their power. Command respect; not by mouth, but by action. Trust me, when you do, men will fall in line because you have what we desire. Yes, it’ll be hard to do because for every woman who won’t make it easy for a man there are five who will, but that’s the world we live in now. But if you do—and you stick to your guns—you’ll create more good men, if not for yourselves, then for your daughters.

Kyle and Britt’s parents feature prominently in their emotional lives and help the reader understand them better. Do you think our parents are a big influence on our ‘relationship style’? And if so, how so?

I think parents can be and should be, and hopefully the influence is a positive one. I think that what we observe in our parent’s relationship influences us as much as what they tell us about how to manage our own. In Kyle’s case, for most of his life his parent’s influence was a positive one, and when things changed it threw him for a loop. But when writing his character I felt that the recent change in his attitude would be a temporary one because by the time the change happened he already was who he was going to be. He just needed the right influence to get him back on track. I think that Britt was more solid in who she was by the time she met Kyle. Her mother raised her to be a whole person, to not have to rely on anyone else to take care of her. Britt’s first example of that necessity came from her parent’s relationship. So she made her own money and had a better living than most. The only reason she needed a man was to fill that space in her heart when she was ready for it to be filled, because she had everything else covered. Yes, she had some missteps along the way, but don’t we all?

 You’ve said often that you don’t write romance novels, but some of your books are the most ‘romantic’ I’ve read. What distinguishes your work from the ‘romance’ genre?

I don’t go into any story involving a relationship with the intent that the characters are going to get together in the end and have that romance novel “happily ever after.” I write life as I see life, which means that sometimes characters end up together, and sometimes they don’t. And if they don’t, it won’t necessarily mean that their relationship ended badly. Sometimes when my characters ride off into the sunset one travels northwest and the other goes southwest, and they’re okay with that. That’s life.

Of all your work, which stories/books did you feel compelled to write?

To one degree or another I felt compelled to write all of them. I definitely have more affection for some, either because they’re based on something experienced or observed or because I liked the base idea. But so far everything I’ve written was something I wanted to write, or I should say, needed to get out of my head. That being said, I definitely have favorite stories. One is the upcoming novel series “Nightwalkers,” and also “The Hitman Chronicles.” My current release “With Benefits” was one that I had to get out of my system in its original version. The published book version is the answer to the writer’s “what if?”

Of all your work which was the hardest to write?

Technically, I’d say a short story (so far) Western tale titled, “The Black Gun.” For years I’ve had it in mind that one day I wanted to write an Old West novel. My father was a big fan of Westerns, so I inherited that from him. With all the cowboy movies and television shows I’d watched and Western novels I’d read as a kid, I thought it would be an easy and fun write. But when I started on “The Black Gun,” I realized that what seemed like a fun and easy write in imagination would be a chore if I wanted to do it right. I wanted to write something historically accurate—from the clothes and weaponry of the time and towns that existed back then, and I discovered that I had to do a ton of research. I probably researched more to complete two short stories for that one than I have for any full-length novel, even though I didn’t use much of the information I researched.

Emotionally, the hardest to write was the first (and still unpublished) “Insatiable” novel. That’s Simon Bishop’s story.  I was going to title it “Memoirs of an Insatiable man.” The idea for the story came first, but as I began writing, real life began to mimic the fiction, so I had to put it aside because it became too tough to write. I might’ve canned the story completely, but a few months later I had the inspiration for a story about a woman who was hard on her exterior, but really yearned to be submissive. I needed a male protagonist for her story—“Elle”—and so I dusted off the Simon Bishop character and made him her guy. That got the “Insatiable” series started.

Now that you have a significant body of work under your belt, what’s your writing ambition? What do you want to do writing-wise that you have not yet done?

In the coming years I’m going to publish a lot more fiction under my real name rather than The Black, novels in every genre. My ambition is to be known not for a specific genre, but for writing things that will always be entertaining, and that will take readers away from their day-to-day for a few hours. “With Benefits” was the first of those. Next by Christopher Bynum will come “Nightwalkers,” and then “The Hitman Chronicles.” That being said, The Black has a hard drive full of first drafts yet to be published, so he’s not going away anytime soon.  Stay tuned, because fun stuff is coming from both.

If your readers want to stalk you, how can they find you?


Barnes & Noble

How can your readers get in touch with you?






The Pier- The Silent Character

jaded-blog-tour-cover2If you’ve had the opportunity to visit the ocean, at some point you find yourself drawn to the water’s edge.  Whether your feet are in the tide pool, or your standing on the dock, you stare off into the horizon. There’s no land in sight for hundreds of miles, just wide open space.

The Unknown… your future.

Look to your left, right, or behind you…what do you see? Land, buildings, objects offering security. It’s the remnants of decisions already made, or rules that cannot be broken. All you do is go with the flow.

Isn’t that how life usually is?

We’re born, taught right from wrong, what’s expected of us, and what decisions we should make.

Then one day we reach a critical point in our lives where a life-altering decision has to be made.

For the characters of The Butterfly Memoirs, that place is the Santa Monica Pier.

Life experiences bring them to a cross-road, a time where the decision made can change the rest of their lives, for good or for bad. In A Heart Not Easily Broken, Ebony Campbell was at the pier when she decided where her interracial relationship with Brian would go, resulting in a first kiss.

The same is true for Yasmine Phillips in, Jaded. For the sake of not going into spoilers, I will say this: when you reach those chapters in the book, pay special attention to how the characters lives were before and after their visit.

Was it for the better…or worse?


***TRIVIA QUESTION! What is the name of the record label where Brian Young works?***

A devastating breakup leaves Yasmine Phillips in shambles. Unable to trust another man with her heart, she focuses on the one thing she can control—starting her own business.

When her computer crashes, taking months of hard work with it, she must rely on computer genius Zachariah Givens to save her. A complete opposite of men from her past, she doesn’t expect the passion that ensues. But just as she finds happiness, she learns the truth about the other women in Zachariah’s life.


Buy Jaded

Buy The Amazon Bestseller, A Heart Not Easily Broken (Book One of The Butterfly Memoirs)





Author Pic 5.2012


M.J. Kane stumbled into writing. An avid reader, this stay at home mom never lost the overactive imagination of an only child. As an adult she made up stories, though never shared them, to keep herself entertained. It wasn’t until surviving a traumatic medical incident in 2006 that she found a reason to let the characters inhabiting her imagination free.  Upon the suggestion of her husband, she commandeered his laptop and allowed the characters to take life. It was that, or look over her shoulder for men caring a purple strait jacket. And the rest, as they say, is history.

No longer a television addict, if M.J. isn’t reading a book by one of her favorite authors, she’s battling with her creative muse to balance writing and being a wife and mother. She resides in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia with her high school sweetheart, four wonderful children, and two pit bulls. MJ can often be found hanging out at the local library where she is director of a local writer’s group, or online connecting with readers and other authors. Other activities she enjoys include: creating custom floral arrangements, assisting her children in their creative pursuits of music and art, and supporting her husband’s music production business, 3D Sounds.

MJ’s debut novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, Book one of the Butterfly Memoirs, became an instant Amazon Bestseller in Multicultural Romance and African-American Literature and Fiction within hours of publication. It has also spent time on the African-American Women’s Fiction and African-American Romance Bestsellers lists.

You can find MJ on social networking sites, sharing writing tips, talking about music, life, and family. She’s always excited to meet new people. Connect with her via the websites below.




Author M.J. Kane Blog and Website