Stardust: A Futuristic Romance Collection

Visualize a world where space travel by the common man is as normal as getting on a plane, life has been discovered on other planets, humans travel light years to find their soul mates, technology exists along the lines that we have only imagined, and a passport will take you anywhere.

Your task for this anthology is to tell a story of adventure and love in a fantastical world. Use your imagination and come up with the futuristic aspects. Make believe a world that will wow us and have us wishing we could live there. Show us that, in a vast universe, love has no boundaries, and that worlds are just waiting to be discovered…

This is an adult anthology, so some light sex and intimate situations will be likely.  But sexually disturbing scenes and those sensitive in nature will not be accepted (we have a right to refuse anything we deem inappropriate).

This time there will only be TEN stories chosen.  Each submission will be provided to the judges without title or author information and will be chosen blindly based on story alone.


Submission Guidelines

Please look over the submission guidelines below and make sure that your story is formatted according to the specifications. Stories submitted that do not follow the guidelines will not be considered for the anthology.

  1. WORD COUNT: at least 5,000 but not to exceed 12,000 words.
    1. Document: Microsoft Word Document (doc/docx) is the ONLY file type accepted
    2. Font: Times New Roman
    3. Paragraph indentations: 0.5” (page layout > first line indent) *Please DO NOT use tabs or spaces*
    4. Margins: Normal margin settings (click on page layout > margins > normal)
    5. DEADLINE: Contest runs from January 1 – February 1.  All entries must be turned in on or before February 1st.  No exceptions.
    6. CONTRACT & COMPENSATION: You must sign a contract if you are chosen to be in the anthology.  Due to the adult nature, no participants under the age of 18 will be accepted.  There is no monetary compensation. The winners will receive one paperback and eBook copies, plus lots of great exposure!
    7. LIKE US: You must be following Cynthia Shepp’s Facebook because that is where all the contest details and announcements will take place.
    8. SUBMISSIONS: Please send all submissions to with the following information:
      1. SUBJECT: Stardust
      2. FILE: Your story attached using the guidelines above (please make sure your story title is included in the file)
      3. BIO: A brief bio up to 100 words
      4. DEDICATION: A brief dedication up to 50 words
      5. SOCIAL LINKS: Two social links you wish to share (example: website/blog and Facebook links)
      6. BOOK LINK: The ASIN number of one of your published books you wish to link to on Amazon
      7. CONTACT INFORMATION: (this is for private use and will not be shared with the public) email, full legal name, pen name, mailing address




Shine Not Burn, by Elle Casey



A review by:  Terri Kinckner

I will start out by saying that yes, Elle Casey is my favorite author. She writes amazing YA books and although I’m almost 40 years old, I will buy and devour each book the day it is released. That being said, I usually HATE romance books! I’m not sure why, except that maybe they gave me unrealistic expectations of what love was when I read them as a teenager. I now know that romance novel-type love is possible (although not nearly as perfect), but I still can’t bring myself to read romances…until now.

Elle has a knack for creating strong female characters with just enough flaws to make them endearing and believable. Andie is no exception! I loved her from the very start! I could relate with her childhood, and I even understood her need to create a life plan and stick to the script. I was absolutely shocked when she went to Las Vegas and threw that plan out of the window, if only for one night. I actually high-fived my kindle for that one! Of course, if I ever came across a Mack in real life, I’d certainly put my life plan on hold, too!

Speaking of Mack… I just ignored the last three letters of his name and named him Mmmm. It fits! I love nothing more than a sweet, honest and HOT country boy (I’ve got one myself). Mack is the kind of man that loves completely, hurts deeply, and knows exactly what he’s doing under the sheets. For a country boy, he’s also well-educated, which surprised Andie. The personalities of these two characters fit each other like a glove! It was a perfect balance of strengths and weaknesses.

I absolutely adored Mack’s family. I wanted to find them and invite myself to dinner! The love in that household, and the way Maeve kept all of those men in line and managed to do it so gracefully, made me smile. Even Boog, the “man bear pig” brought a smile to my face. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, just because Elle wrote a romance book does NOT mean that she isn’t going to fill it with her wonderful colorful banter and unique expression. This book has Elle written all over it and there were moments that had me laughing out loud, grabbing for tissues and sobbing, and even fanning myself while debating whether I should put the book on hold and go spend time with my “Mack” or not.

I read this book in almost one setting. I would have, had I not brought a bottle of wine out to my deck with me to read under the stars. That book was distracting… I kept refilling that glass until the bottle was empty! Although I usually am not a fan of romances, I will not hesitate to read more of this genre…as long as Elle writes it!

I give this book 5 holy hot wow stars out of 5!

Duality: Vol 1, Melancholia by Elle Casey



A review by Terri Kinckner

Book description from Amazon:  Malcolm’s had a problem for as long as he can remember. No matter where he goes or what he does, he leaves misery in his wake. Sadness and negativity are his constant companions, influencing others around him until they cannot bear to live.

But then Rae shows up in his life, and everything changes. Darkness cleaves to light. Anger yields to joy. The question is whether she’ll be his salvation or his destruction.

DUALITY is a 3-book Young Adult/New Adult Paranormal Romance. Volume 1 will be published April 30, Volume II May 31, and Volume III June 30, 2013.

My take:

This book was so different than any books of Elle’s I’ve read before, but it’s still Elle! I loved it! The characters were amazing (as usual) and their banter had me laughing SO hard through most of this book! Jazzy was by far my favorite character… who knew a “neutral” could be so awesome? Rae and Malcom were remarkably wonderful, considering their “gifts” (curses?). I just wanted to hug them both! I think I’d be a miserable rainbow, but hey… maybe they’d feel better! I’m not sure I’d be nearly as well adjusted as they were! They still had their fair share of teen angst and were written as such so accurately. I often wonder if Elle hides out in high schools listening to the interaction, because she is always so spot on! Kootch was hysterical, his and Jazzy’s conversations had me belly laughing and at the same time, I wanted to knock both of their heads together for not seeing the chemistry that was between them!

Speaking of chemistry… the chemistry teacher Holder and his lackey Derek were ultra creepy. Not only was their behavior creepy, Holder had a comb over. Gross AND creepy! I’m very interested to see exactly why they are after Rae, and what their game is! All in all, I loved this book. It’s unique, witty, scary at all the right places, romantic without being sappy, and had a cliffhanger ending! You all know how much I love those…seriously, I do!

I give this 5 rainbow stars out of 5!

Reflections (Whisper Cape, #2) by Susan Griscom writing as Regan Walsh



A review by Terri Kinckner

Book description from Amazon:

This is a Whisper Cape Novel, Book 2

What if you heard a voice whispering warnings while you coped with a frightening pregnancy? 
Knowing the future has its advantages…or does it?
Can love survive the reflections and memories lost?
Welcome to Maia’s world.
 Gerry has loved Maia from the very first moment he laid eyes on her and now that she’s pregnant with his child, he’s over the moon with happiness. Likewise, Maia is overjoyed about having Gerry’s baby, but when she starts seeing and hearing an old woman who warns Maia about the pregnancy, Maia starts to think she is losing her mind. But Maia’s nightmare has only just begun…

A most sought after beautiful woman, the talented lead singer in an up and coming rock band, sets her sights on Gerry determined to rekindle an old flame. But murder befalls the sleepy town of Whisper Cape once again, creating suspicion and betrayal, and a love once considered invincible, begins to crumble and fall apart.

My take on the book:

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Honestly? I loved it! I read Whisper Cape first and didn’t think the second book could possibly compare to the first one. It did, and then some! When I read the first book, I adored Addie and Cael, but was intrigued by Maia and Gerry’s relationship. I’m so glad they were a bigger part of the second book.

Maia, although growing up surrounded by family with special abilities, had none… until she became pregnant with twins. her ability to speak to her future self gave me chills. I worried with her throughout the book, trying to figure out the future Maia’s warnings alongside her, and shared her fears and victories. I finally got to understand Gerry a little better. He was a really hard character to figure out and I was very curious about him and his abilities, but most of all about his aversion to marriage.  His foul mouth and big heart won me over big time 🙂

The new characters introduced into this series in this book are quite interesting. Aiden is so mysterious, I can’t wait to learn more about him. Finn and Careen, well, the jury is still out on those two. I’m hoping for more interaction from these characters, as I have a feeling Aiden and Addie are going to have their own story line. The ending of this book hit me hard. I was so emotionally gripped by this book that it took me several days to get over so I could write this review.

This book has everything;  mystery, murder, magic, betrayal, romance, suspense… gripping action that kept me turning pages long after I should have been in bed. I just simply could not put this book down! My only problem with this book is that I finished it before the next book in the series was finished! Of course that book is well underway, and I shouldn’t have to wait long to get my fix! This book is a definite MUST READ, although I suggest reading Whisper Cape first. With the first one also being a must read, that shouldn’t be a problem at all 🙂

I give this book 5 stars out of 5!

Whisper Cape (Whisper Cape, #1) by Susan Griscom writing as Regan Walsh


A review by Terri Kinckner

Book description from Amazon:

A powerful woman, an extraordinary man, and a maniac who wants to destroy them. Fate has brought them together, but will it make them stronger or destroy them all in end?

Escape to a world where the impossible becomes possible and sparks ignite.

WHISPER CAPE is a town of secrets and Addison MacKenna soon becomes tangled in a web of them. Plagued with nightmares of her father’s sudden and brutal death, Addie struggles with her anguish and refuses to believe his demise was accidental.

Fighting to shake off one of those devastating early morning nightmares, Addison finds it even harder to escape from the vision of a man lying on the side of the road–a man she may have just killed. When she frantically tries to locate him, he seemingly disappears, just the beginning of strange occurrences in her life. She also cannot ignore the weird sensations in her own body. Suddenly, the impossible seems possible, but is that a blessing or a curse?

Believing that her continual and worsening nightmares are both the key to her own new abilities and the clue to her father’s death, Addie knows she will not rest until she has the answers she craves. As she strives to cope with her new remarkable talents, someone else learns of her abilities–a disgruntled maniacal psychopath with his own agenda that involves eliminating Addie. The only one who can protect her, instruct her in the use of her powers and teach her how to destroy the murderous monster is the same man who makes Addie’s heart race and her blood heat with passion. The same man she’d left for dead.

Cael Sheridan may be arrogant and mysterious but he’s also undeniably gorgeous. A member of a secret society, he is sworn to protect the woman he believes to be the daughter of his recently murdered mentor. In the process, he finds it impossible to resist her magnetic sensuality, complicating his efforts to shield and guide her as she learns to manage her newly acquired skills. At the same time, Addison has much to teach him about trust and commitment. Will fate win in the end? You be the judge.

My take on this book:

I thought this book was well written from the very first page.  I liked Addie right away, and I found myself really wanting to live in the town of Whisper Cape.  Her nightmares were vivid and frightening, and left me feeling the same shock when she woke up as I do when I’ve had a nightmare of my own.  I love an honest main character, and Addie was a very genuinely good person who had a lot of bad things happen to her, but still held herself to a standard.  I was impressed with how she wrestled with the guilt and fear that she may have killed a man.

Speaking of that man, Cael… oh my goodness!  He has become a bona fide book crush for me!  His arrogance normally would be a complete put off, but it worked for him.  The instant connection he felt with Addie tugged at my heart strings, it was almost literally love at first sight, although neither of them wanted to admit it.  I love when I’m reading a book and know both character’s thoughts and I’m screaming inside for them to tell each other!  As a stubborn woman myself, I identify with characters that keep themselves stuck in angst when a simple conversation can clear it up.  These two characters were so real and wonderful, and the abilities they possessed just added to the chemistry; especially when they realized just how strong they were together.

The supporting characters were also wonderful.  Maia, Addie’s aunt, and her boyfriend Gerry were excellently written.  Each could easily have a story of their own! Her friends Darcy and Jared  also have an excellent sub story going on that had my complete interest.  Cael’s mother was intriguing, and I’d love to learn more about her!

The “bad guy” in this book was terrifying.  Not in appearance, but probably because of his lack of appearance.  I was questioning every character in the book in my mind, wondering who Eidolin could be.  The way he used other people to do his bidding left him free to stay safely on the sidelines with little risk to himself.  The psychological terror he inflicted on everyone matched the physical violence he was conducting.  The final reveal of who Eidolin was completely surprised me, and I was horror-stricken!  That is all I want to say about the main plot of the story…any more elaboration from me risks a potential spoiler (and I HATE those)!

I’ve started reading book two, Reflections, but I really had to stop and write this review before the dividing line between books became blurred for me.  This is a series that is seamless, yet, I think someone reading book two as a stand alone could still enjoy it and have enough information to understand the dynamics of the relationships and abilities.

I give this book 5 stars out of 5!

Allusive Aftershock, by Susan Griscom


A review by Terri Kinckner

This book was amazing! Faced with a catastrophic series of earthquakes, Adela, her best friend Max, and classmate Courtland are left alone and struggling for survival. Courtland was a bit of an outcast, being able to understand the needs of animals better than the average person. Adela has spent her entire childhood swooning over Max, who only saw her as a friend, and Max has spent the last eight years hating Courtland after an incident that happened between these two when they were best friends.

The circumstances these young adults found themselves in were horrific, and were so well described that I often felt like I was right there with them through the earthquakes and subsequent aftershocks. Susan was able to bring these three young people to life for me, and I found myself rooting for them, mourning their losses, and reveling in their triumphs. I also love a book where the characters evolve into who they were meant to be. This is absolutely the case with this book! They certainly learned a lot about life and a lot about themselves!

This book had all the elements required to make a great, fast-paced read: love, hate, catastrophe, fear, and humor. I would most definitely recommend this book to anyone, young or old! There are some parts of the book that I thought might get too adult, but were actually not. In fact, I would be very comfortable having my own teenagers read this book, because of the excellent message it sends!

I give this book 5 stars out of 5!

An Uncommon Surfeit of Lipstick, by Richard McGowan


A review by Terri Kinckner

I received this book in the mail yesterday as a winner in a Goodreads giveaway. At first, I was going to just glance at it and put it on the shelves with the other books to read and review until I finished the three books I was already reading at the moment. I was too intrigued to put it down.

First off, the cover and title are most definitely very female. The author, a man. I started to read it just to see how a man would write a book for women. Before I knew it the book was finished;  mere hours after I sat down with it.

This story is a fairy tale of sorts, but a hilarious, bizarre, and unique one. Trina Katrina Martini had no idea how much her actions had impacted others until she had to wear her shame in the form of very slutty, over-applied lipstick every single day. Her “Fairy Bad Mother”, Janet Guimpledrim (Bad Janet, to Trina) and motley bunch of fairy friends had me laughing through most of the book. The crazy things Trina both had to do and had to endure had me grinning, shocked, and pitying the poor girl that never had a bad day in her life until she was 21.

The story had a great ending, with Trina finding true love and her true self. I didn’t realize just how invested in these characters I was until the end of the book, and the book left me wanting more. I’m hoping that Trina’s sister’s story is told next, and I’m really curious to see what becomes of Trina and Connie in the future!

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars!