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’Tis the Season for Cocoa and Reading

Holiday Stories and More


Tamara Philip, Chelle Cordero, Malcolm R. Campbell,
Gwendolyn Jensen-Woodard, Neva Squires-Rodriguez,
Charmaine Gordon, and Lauren Shiro.


That Christmas Feeling

Tamara Philip


A Date With Mistletoe

Chelle Cordero


Jock Stewart’s Holiday Hilarity

Malcolm R. Campbell


Dead for a Night

Gwendolyn Jensen-Woodard


Esperanza-The Holiday that Wasn’t

Neva Squires-Rodriguez


Surprise in August

Charmaine Gordon


The Gift

Lauren Shiro


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Book Review: Blood Moon Over Africa (The Blood Trilogy Book 1) by Paul Zunckel


Africa, a place where superstition and witchcraft runs deep, a place of beauty, but where death lurks in the shadows. A land shrouded in mystery, with ancient beliefs simmering just beneath the surface – set on a collision course with modern western ideas.

An innocent act unleashes a horror that walks the African night… under the full moon… and nothing is safe.

Piet van Zyl, safari owner, finds himself drawn into a world of witchcraft, and face to face with a horror returned from the grave. With the support of Veronica Strydom, with her vast knowledge of African Culture, he must rid the night of the abomination, or die trying.

Amazon Customer Review

Black Magic, witchdoctors,  things of old, or, are they? Are they still being practiced in Africa?

What would happen if your husband inherited a property secluded in the African bush? Well most of us would grab the chance with both hands of a new life. This is exactly what the main characters Adele and her husband David did. They arrive at the new homestead and realize it has much work needs doing to be considered somewhat liveable

Newly married the pair embark on this new chapter in their life, looking forward to renovating the property and moving in, but their happiness is soon short-lived when they start noticing weird things happening. They are in the African Bush, animals should be in abundance, birds should be tweeting and flying overhead, but in fact around their property there is none, which is definitely a warning flag.

Before long they soon discover why, they actually do have an animal living on their property, or is it an animal? Walks like a human leaving footprints like a human, but its shadowy figure looks more like a hyena. This confirms to them that something evil is there, something neither man nor beast, just evil.

The pair enlist help in tracking down more information on the beast, they need to know what it is and how to deal with it, because this is their home and Adele is damned sure nothing is pushing them out of it.

You will be taken on a journey, an adventure, a scary trip that will have you rooted to the spot, whispering to yourself, WATCH OUT, perhaps yelling at the kindle like me!!! This is a fabulously well-written story, it tells the story of the old ways, witch doctors, medicine men, of tribal beliefs, the things that scare the tribes, the information is endless, you cannot help but be compelled to read on, to follow the journey to the end, keep praying for a miracle because these pair along with their friends and helpers are going to need more than help, they are going to need every ounce of their wits, their courage, their skills, and prayers to protect them.!!!

VHP’s Tamara Philip ~ Finalist for Outstanding Debut Author of Interracial Romance 2015!

Tamara Philip


Outstanding Debut Author

of Interracial Romance 2015

The Angie Ovation Awards

nominee for debut author award graphic

The Outstanding Debut Author Awards recognize an AA/IR/Multicultural romance author who has demonstrated strong literary potential and contributions to the genre. The award is designed to both recognize and further the recipient’s professional development activities.

–quoted from

Cupid print and ebook with hands

The Trouble with Playing Cupid
by Tamara Philip

One New Year’s Eve, shy singer, December Brown drunkenly texts her talk show host pal, Trace Randall, about her long time crush on the aloof actor, Tom Elmswood. Thinking the two celebrities would make a cute couple, he unwisely decides to play matchmaker… in front of a live studio audience.

Things start to go downhill when Tom admits he’s never even heard of December before. Now what seemed like a sure fire hit quickly becomes a flop. Will these two lonely hearts ever make a love connection or has this cupid’s arrow missed its mark?


I laughed and cried along with the characters. I fell in love with the story line and the Characters. I Love Tom! He was the most down to earth man with a heart of Gold! December AKA Dee banter and sweet talk had me on a emotional roller coaster.I would love to have friends like Clarissa and Terrence. This book (genre) is a book that I have never read. Tamara wove magic when writing this and also has made me become a fan of Romantic Comedies. Awesome!!! …April Nichols Baker

Despite having placed the book down due to being busy, as soon as I picked it up again, I had no problem being wrapped back up into the story. The characters are able to be connected with and each have their own quirks that give them life. The tone of the book is so casual that it feels as if you’re right in the thicket of the story’s environment. Additionally, the tone complements the characters very well as it emphasizes the thoughts of each of them that makes their situations feel real. Anytime a book can make me use my imagination to paint the picture, it’s doing a darn good job…. Kelsey

Who doesn’t like a gritty love story. The romance plays out to be true to imagination with a real flare for an intimate setting and flawless character portrayals, the character ‘Trace’, being my favorite. The authors writing style sucks you in to the pages and I found I couldn’t put it down.

I was actually late for an appointment yesterday as I was so engrossed reading this book on the train that I missed my stop lol. I hope Tamara brings a lot more romance to our lives, and I will definitely be watching out for more books to come by this talented new author…. Pennie Mae Cartawick, Author of the Sherlock Holmes book series

Cupid Vid CVR clip

The Trouble with Playing Cupid Sneak Peek Video


Tamara Philip

After spending most of her life in New York City, Tamara Philip decided to let love lead her on an international adventure, where she’s met many amazing people and ate entirely too much. Tamara and her English-born fiance, Chris, now split their time between the United Kingdom and The Caribbean.

The Trouble with Playing Cupid is her debut novel, and writing has been her secret passion since childhood. Quirky female leads are her trademark.
On any given day you can find Tamara telling people what to do, dodging wedding planning, and working hard on her second novel.

Congratulations, Tamara!

Where to find Tamara Philip online

Twitter: @MsTamaraPhilip

About Tamara Philip – VHP Author

After spending most of her life in New York City, Tamara Philip decided to let love lead her on an international adventure, where she’s met many amazing people and ate entirely too much. Tamara and her English-born fiance, Chris, now split their time between the United Kingdom and The Caribbean.

The Trouble with Playing Cupid is her debut novel, and writing has been her secret passion since childhood. Quirky female leads are her trademark.

On any given day you can find Tamara telling people what to do, dodging wedding planning, and working hard on her second novel.

 logo banner Tamara 2 no edge

coming soonThe Trouble with Playing Cupid
July, 2014 (electronic editions), print edition TBD, audiobook TBD

Where to find Tamara Philip online

Twitter: @MsTamaraPhilip

Welcome to Vanilla Heart Publishing – Susan Berry!

Susan Berry

Author Susan Berry

I read my first romance novel when I was ten years old. My grandmother gave it to me to help pass the time on a long car ride to the Midwest. I grumbled as I opened the book and began reading. Ten miles later, I couldn’t put it down. The characters came alive, the tension between them building as I frantically turned the pages. I had to know how it all worked out. That experience never left me. From that day forward, I read romance novels every chance I got, and reading turned into writing, which eventually led to my first novel, a traditional romance called Dance of the Heart.

Every woman secretly wishes for a man who is both strong and charming enough to sweep her off her feet. A man who can match her independence with just enough force to break through her guarded heart. As someone who loves to escape into the pages of love, I am dedicated to the writing of such novels filled with heartfelt romance that can be shared with every generation.

Along with romance novels, I have written several articles regarding social issues close to my heart and had the privilege of being a guest speaker for Together We Care, a diverse group of Puget Sound collaborators who are partnering toward achieving outstanding care for individuals experiencing chronic illness in our community.

Interview with Susan Berry

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

One of the greatest joys of writing, for me, is being introduced to my characters. As I write, my characters speak to me and lead me in the direction they want their story to end up. Most of the time I find the journey is not what I had initially planned. I feel that in writing fiction, it is important not to be constrained by your initial vision for the project, but allow flexibility in the storyline, to go where the characters take you.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

The first story I ever wrote was about an awkward girl who thought she was too tall. It was called, Jenny the Giant. I was the tallest girl in my class all through elementary and most of junior high. It was my way of easing my self-consciousness. In the story, Jenny finds her height an advantage when one of her classmates, a mean girl named Cheryl, needs help getting a cat down from a tree in her backyard and Jenny is the only one tall enough to do the job.

What do you read for pleasure?

I read mostly romance for pleasure. I also enjoy fantasy novels that have characters struggling with human flaws.

What are you working on next?

I am currently working on Laughter of the Heart, the sequel to Dance of the Heart, as well as a fantasy novel called Bravery.

Who are your favorite authors?

There are so many authors who I enjoy reading from old time romance novels written by Flora Kidd or Violet Winspear, to works by Suzanne Collins and Nora Roberts.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

When I am not writing, I enjoy antique shopping with my daughter Elisabeth, being anywhere outdoors, and sharing a meal with family and friends.

Where to find Susan Berry online

Twitter: @SusanBerry111
Facebook: Facebook profile

Welcome, Author Susan Berry!

Meet VHP Author Marie Hampton

Hi and welcome to the Potpourri Parlor.

Today I’d like to introduce you to one of my fellow Vanilla Heart Publishing authors, Marie Hampton.

Hunting Heartbreak by Marie Hampton is the Winner of last year’s Vanilla Heart Publishing Author Contest and is Marie’s debut novel, the first in a series featuring Kasumi, a female assassin involved in the Las Vegas Yakuza.

What’s the elevator pitch for your novel Hunting Heartbreak?

On the flashy Las Vegas strip, Kasumi Yoshida tracks down her marks– assassinating gamblers who pay their loans with their lives.  Business becomes scarce when a past lover and fellow Yakuza member betrays the honor system and rescues Kasumi’s future clients.

Her boss insists she work with Ryan, a hired gun, to find the cause, but Kasumi becomes distracted by his arrogant charm, and soon her adrenaline-filled world of death and motorcycle racing is muddied by her obsession with the past and her uncontrollable attraction to her partner.

Kidnapping, torture, and betrayal allow the enemy to capture Kasumi, and she is forced to trust in friendship and love to free her from guilt so she can take her revenge.

Do you work on more than one novel at a time?

I used to. It took getting published to make me sit down and work through the hard spots, and I’ve completed more that way. Sometimes you just have to sit down and writer through the writer’s block and edit it later.

What historical time period is your favorite? Why?

 Only one? Oh, geez. I would have to say Ancient Greece. It is the birthplace of western literature. It all started with Greek theater, and I’m a big theater buff. I might even write some plays in the future.

Do you have a vision board or other `trick’ to help motivate you?

 Hmm, well, music is huge to me. Also, I like changing out my desktop with a reminder image. I would have to say, though, that the thing that keeps me motivated the most is Taekwondo. When you repeat the Spirit of Songahm and confidently say you will persevere, it carries over into everything you do.

Do you schedule time to write or is writing all-consuming to the exclusion of everything else and you schedule time to do other things? Like eat.

I’m working on this still. I think I would be more productive if I scheduled, but now any free time is a good time to pull out the laptop and get some words down.

What three words do you think describe you as a human being?

 Creative, passionate, fun.

How do you think others would describe you?

That depends who you ask, but family would say I’m fun and outgoing. My friends that I game with would say I’m creative and a bit goofy. I’m a little hard to get to know because I’m shy, but once I know you you’re a friend for life.

Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.

Well, I’ve already mentioned Taekwondo. Family is big to me. I currently live with my mother, husband and two sons. My sons are five and five months. They mean the world to me. I also love to teach people and help them discover new things.

Do you have any pets? If so, introduce us to them.

Oh, yes. She’s my little furry 80lbs. American Bulldog, Toph. We named her after the character on Avatar: The Last Airbender. There is a picture of her on my blog.

What is your most precious memory?

The first time I held my children. It is an amazing feeling to know you are responsible for bringing life into the world. Also, I hold memories of fishing with my father very close to my heart since I lost him to cancer in March.

What is your most embarrassing memory?

Ha ha. I haven’t thought about it for a while, but when I was sixteen I auditioned for my first play. I mixed up the word exotic with erotic. To say I turned a little red is an understatement.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing with your life?

I’m not sure, but before, when I was a kid, I wanted to sing. I’d probably be a screaming vocalist for a metal band. Yeah, that’d be it.

Can you describe a typical writing day for you?

It starts with a big, endless cup of coffee at my favorite shop. I’m sitting there with my laptop logged onto my Google Drive, my music pouring into my ears. When I really get going my eyes close and I tip my head back on the back of the chair and let my fingers fly. The scene plays out in front of me. I just record it.

Where do you dream of traveling to and why?

A lot of places, but Athens and Tokyo are on the top of my list. With studying beginning western culture I became interested in the difference between western culture and eastern culture.

Does travel play in the writing of your books?

Yes. I actually dreamed about the idea for Hunting Heartbreak after I returned on a vacation from Las Vegas.

What are you passionate about these days?

 I am set on creating a good life for my boys by putting my best into everything. Writing helps me be a creative mom, and it relaxes me. Also, my boys inspire me by the things they do. My husband also helps. Writing books in my house is a family affair, and I love that I can share that passion.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

 I don’t want to repeat myself, but martial arts, specifically Krav Maga, is a great stress reliever. Nothing like kicking butt, even imaginary butt, to get out your frustrations. I love to swim, too. And I love to read of course. This winter I’m hoping to add skiing and snowboarding to the list, so if you hit the slopes, watch out.

Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?

Yes. You are a writer, an artist, and if you want to get better you cannot be afraid to share your work. Find a writing group and get used to criticism. Learn what you can, and make your writing your best.

Do you have a milestone birthday coming up? If so, how are you approaching it?

Ha, I do! I turn thirty this year. I hadn’t thought much about what I should do, but a creative night gaming, writing, or dancing would be high on my list. I am pretty comfortable with where I am, but I might do a blog comparison list between Kas and my accomplishments by the age of thirty.

Have you attended a high school reunion? What did you learn?

Yes, my ten year reunion. I learned that the popular kids never changed. Those that changed the most were those that never settled for what they had. They kept striving for something more and that made them better people. I learned that learning never stops, and motivation is important.

Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website? Blog? • Is there a place where readers can reach you?

 I’d tell you but I’d have to…no wait. That’s Kas. You can email me at, or reach my blog

You have my email above, you can also find me under Marie Hampton Author on Facebook and twitter@mariehamptonnv. Also, check out my Pinterest boards mariehamptonvhp

Have you ever written something that made you feel uncomfortable, cry, or disgusted? If so, what?

Yes, I have. I cried a bit when I work through Kas’ feelings about Kin what she did to him. Sometimes, in my short stories, I gross myself out. You’ll have to keep your eyes open for those coming in the Fall VHP Author Spotlights

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

If my words inspire any sort of creativity, please share. (Fanfic, art, poetry, sketches etc.)

Marie, thanks so much for spending time with me in the Potpourri Parlor today and letting our readers know a bit about you. 

Hunting Heartbreak by Marie Hampton is now available in Print, All Ebook Formats and is the first live Vanilla Heart Publishing AUDIOBOOK on Audible, iTunes, and on Amazon!