Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How to Avoid and Manage Student Loan Debt

Today, I'm pleased to host freelance writer Vera Reed as she offers some valuable information on avoiding the pitfalls of student loan debt and some great information on where to get money. Students and parents alike can benefit from this. Having two kids in college right now myself, I can tell you it is already time to start thinking about financial aid forms again and scholarship applications! So, I'll turn the time over to Vera.

How to Avoid and Manage Student Loan Debt
Vera Reed

Everywhere we look, from op ed pieces to highway bulletin boards, we’re told that our future prosperity is more dependent than ever on higher education.  And yet with tuition prices higher and higher, and the job market still in a feeble recovery state, more and more recent graduates emerge into the workforce burdened with an albatross of seemingly insuperable student debt.  Depending on which authority you ask, the outstanding balance for student loans is somewhere between $902 billion and $1 trillion, a staggering figure at either end of the spectrum.  What’s worse is that 12.8% percent of those loans are in default status -- and since student loans are exempt from bankruptcy proceedings, those numbers are likely to stay.

To make sure that a college education is a process of empowerment, not one of imprisonment, be control of your borrowing at every step of the way.  Here are some broad courses of action that will set your future on the right course.

Look Diligently for Scholarships

While the figures are often exaggerated, millions of dollars in scholarships go unrewarded eachyear simply because applicants fail to look for them.  This happens for several reasons.  First, potential recipients often give up before they start on the assumption that their high school transcript doesn’t merit rewards.  For one thing, many scholarships are awarded not on academic performance but by circumstances such as gender or minority status, and often in surprising ways.  For example, many people don’t realize that even partial Native American heritage opens the door for a number of awards. 

In addition to overlooking the many factors that may lead to a scholarship, some borrowers look at scholarships in an unfortunate “all or nothing” manner.  While getting a free ride would be great, don’t forget that one or more smaller awards add up.  Some of these come in the form of simple contests, so it’s surely worth a try.

There are in fact so many scholarship opportunities out there that the search is daunting for some.  Luckily, there are a number of convenient online one-stops out there to help your search, so check out Scholarship America, FinAid, and FastWeb.

Borrow Conservatively

Especially for young people who’ve never had to manage their own money before, student loans can be a dangerous thing.  Though lenders are not as willing to lend as they once were, it’s possible to borrow amounts that far exceed tuition alone, and inexperienced borrowers can falsely see those large quarterly disbursements as free money.  By all means, if you know you’ll be unable to work as you complete your degree, factor cost of living expenses into your borrowing.  However, because you’ll be paying interest over years, don’t be extravagant and only take out what you need for a comfortable existence.  

Consider Work Options

For some, college is seen as four years or more of dedicated study, free of the distractions of having a job.  While this sense of freedom is wonderful, don’t let it be at the expense of your future autonomy.  With some careful time management and a part time job, you can bring in enough income for cost-of-living expenses and lower your total loan.  In particular, see if you can find employment within the university you’re attending:  if you’re an out-of-state student,  this can sometimes make you eligible for wildly lower in-state tuition.

Look for Bargain Schools

Education should in the end be about getting skills and knowledge with which to prosper, not about prestige.  While it’s true that many “name brand” universities offer unparalleled networking perks, you can often find comparable professors and programs at state schools and lesser-known institutions.  Instead of going by a school’s overall reputation, check out the word on individual departments and placement rates within the degree you’re seeking. 

Similarly, if you’re pursuing a strictly career-focused technical degree, strongly consider bypassing university altogether and gain accreditation more cheaply - and even quickly - through an online school.  You can get certified as a pharmacy technician, for example, in only a year, while with the time you save commuting to classes can be spent working.

Finally, make sure to compare the total sum you expect to spend with what you can realistically expect to make upon entry into the job market.  If there is a gaping discrepancy, you may want to rethink your plans before you borrow.  Should you end up owing more than you would have liked, be absolutely sure to keep lines of communication open between you and your lender.  Student loan providers are more humane and flexible than any others, and there’s almost always a way to refinance or consolidate

Vera Reed is a freelance writer from Southern California. She is a former school teacher and loves writing about education and parenting issues. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her two young daughters.

Monday, October 28, 2013

#CoverReveal ~ Surrender to Temptation ~ E.B. Walters

Book Title:  Surrender
to Temptation
The Fitzgerald Family
Author:  E. B.
Genre:  Contemporary
Romance - Suspense - Sensual
Presented by:  PageFlipperz & AsYou Wish Tours
Banner Made by: 
Julia Hendrix


A playboy in hiding

A woman searching for answers

Will he let her in or send her packing?

After a tragic accident, Chef Chase Fitzgerald left his life in Los Angeles behind and moved to a ranch in Montana. He's convinced that all he needs to be happy are his horses, a few ranch hands and the Big Sky Country. Until one day, Nikki Savoy walks through his doors with her city clothes, sexy mouth, and a body designed to drive a man insane.

Nikki wants to know the truth about the accident that left her sister in a coma. Getting a job at Chase’s ranch is just the beginning. Throw in a crafty housekeeper, a cantankerous old cowboy, a few adorable horses, and an attraction that can’t be denied, and you have a recipe for disaster or romance. Will Nikki get her answers or will Chase offer her something better?

EDNAH WALTERS grew up reading Nancy
Drew and the Hardy Boys and dreaming of one day writing her own
stories. She is a stay-at-home mother of five humans and two American
short-hair cats (one of which has ADHD) and a husband. When she is
not writing, she’s at the gym doing Zumba or doing things with her
family, reading, traveling or online chatting with fans.

Ednah is the author of The Guardian
Legacy series, a YA fantasy series about children of the fallen
angels, who fight demons and protect mankind. AWAKENED, the prequel
was released by Pill Hill Press in September 2010 with rave reviews.
BETRAYED, book one in the series was released by her new publisher
Spencer Hill Press in June 2012 and HUNTED, the third installment,
will be released April 2013. She’s working on the next book in the
series, FORGOTTEN. Visit her at

Ednah also writes YA paranormal
romance. RUNES is the first book in her new series. IMMORTALS is book
2. She is presently working on book 3, GRIMNIRS (Release date TBA).
Read more about this series and the world she's created here

Under the pseudonym E. B. Walters,
Ednah writes contemporary romance. SLOW BURN, the first contemporary
romance with suspense, was released in April 2011. It is the first
book in the Fitzgerald family series. Since then she has published
four more books in this series. She's presently working on book six.
You can visit her online at or



Friday, October 25, 2013

#BookReview ~ Finding Forever by Michele Shriver

Title: Finding Forever
Author: Michele Shriver
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Chantel's Rating: 5 stars

Finding forever cover
Sometimes life offers a second chance at first love, but only if you have the courage to take it.

Jordan Priestley buried her mother, her alcoholism, and her California dreams to start over in Grande Valley, Texas. Defending the accused in a violent border town is a far cry from the entertainment law practice she abandoned, and that’s the way Jordan likes it. Happiness eludes her until a former client-turned-lover reappears, tempting her with a hopeful future, while dredging up mistakes from her past.

Jake Morrison paid his dues in the acting business. Now, his big break has arrived with a starring role in a major director’s next blockbuster film. The movie shoot takes Jake to Grande Valley, where he seeks to reconnect with the one woman he couldn't forget. As Jake slowly breaks through Jordan’s defenses, an old girlfriend resurfaces, threatening their future and Jordan’s fragile sobriety.

Will Jake and Jordan take a chance on forever, or will reminders of their past be too much to overcome?

Purchase today: E-books available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Apple / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Smashwords

My Review:
After reading and loving all of Shriver’s Women’s Fiction books, I was wowed by her first romance. A great read that I highly recommend! Jordan is an awesome heroine. I love her sense of humor and her views on life. She comes with a whole host of problems in her history and things she’s striving to overcome. An alcoholic in recovery and a successful lawyer, she left the Hollywood party lifestyle behind her when she moved to Texas.

Enter Jake, a love from her past who can ultimately destroy everything Jordan has worked for. I have to say, I loved Jake. Maybe he doesn’t make the best choices each time or know the right thing to do, but the care he has for Jordan comes through the page. I really hoped he could break through the defenses she had put up to protect herself. Of course, the past is never content to stay the past, and these two will have a lot to work through if they are ever going to find their forever.  If you’re looking for a contemporary romance with great characters and a good dose of humor that also deals with real issues and isn’t all fluff, pick this one up. 

Happy reading, my friends! 
~~ Chantel ~~

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is a month very dear to my heart - Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Readers of all my books know that somehow, someway the message that abuse is not okay makes it into my stories. I don't go in with the intention of this being there, but it sneaks in. My first book, Always & Forever, was all about domestic violence. Lilly was abused most of her life before struggling to start over. In Crime & Passion it is revealed that my hero, Donovan, was abused as a child. In my latest release Love & Deception, my heroine was raped in her very first sexual encounter, something she doesn't truly face until late in the book. 

When I first started writing, I tried to write fantasy books, things that didn't really matter to me but were entertaining. I never could finish the stories. I've found that in order to really count to me, there has to be something about the story, some underlying importance. I'm not trying to be preachy. In fact, I've spent my entire life trying not to push my beliefs on others, not to be offensive in any possible way. The truth, however, is that I am disgusted by the abuse that goes on with people turning a blind eye to it. I do think it needs to be brought to public attention. It needs to be stopped. 

For the longest time I told myself it didn't matter when Always & Forever received bad reviews. People are allowed to not like my writing, after all. However, the tone of some of the reviews greatly disturbs me. Things people say, that has nothing to do with my writing ability or the story. They judged Lilly as weak because she "let" herself be trapped in abuse, because she was a victim for so long. Let herself. Right. Because it's so easy to escape someone who routinely beats you and threatens to do worse if you leave. Apparently, she's weak because abusers often isolate their victims and she had no support system to help her. She's weak because she feared her abuser would kill her family if she didn't do what he demanded.

It's that kind of thinking that gives the abusers power. The victim is NOT at fault! Lilly is just a fictional character, true, but when someone says she's too stupid to live because she believed her abuser would kill her the next time if she tried to run again...those kinds of comments sicken me. 

I've been thinking about it a lot this month. Why? Why am I driven to write these things? I know it opens the doors for attacks from people. When Donovan cried, I've gotten a lot of flack for that. Men shouldn't cry, no matter what they've been through. Granted, maybe Donovan cried a little too much, and because of those negative comments I did make Nick more macho, but I hope people weren't judging Donovan as being weak because he finally admitted the abuse he had suffered and cried about it. 

The why is pretty easy though. Awareness. Understanding. It's not the only thing my books are about, but it is something important to me. I want to empower the abused, help those lucky people untouched by abuse to find some understanding, and express my disgust with the abusers. No one should have to suffer in silence. Abusers need to get help, true, but the victims need help first, so they don't become a statistic. 

If you are being abused, it is not your fault. You don't deserve it. You didn't ask for it. You deserve a better life. 

Links: (remember that computer activity can be traced so only visit sites from a safe computer)
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) 

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: 

National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-422-4453. Visit for more information on things you can do to get involved and help in the fight against child abuse.

Resources for rape victims: RAINN’s website - They also have international links if you are outside the United States of America. For resources in other countries visit here -

Get involved - hold a phone drive or donate a phone through Project Hope with Verizon Wireless:

We need to talk about domestic violence in society and not keep it a dirty little secret. My daughter is the strongest, smartest woman I know. It took a skilled manipulator only a few weeks to tear her self-esteem down and make her question whether she was actually going crazy. She stayed with him for quite some time, thinking she was somehow in the wrong because all the world saw was this super nice, great guy. He even had me fooled for a while. If she and I didn't spend so much time talking about healthy relationships versus abusers and how that kind of thing wasn't okay, she'd probably still be stuck in that situation, too afraid to speak out against it. Sometimes all it takes is a conversation and someone to believe. Let's get involved and help everyone we can. 

I read that 1 in 4 women are affected by domestic violence. Chances are, you know someone right now who is being abused if you yourself aren't. It's time to change those statistics. It's not only women being abused either. I know many men trapped in abusive relationships. It's almost more taboo for them to admit. We need to change this. No one should live in fear. We all deserve happiness. 

Wishing you all love and joy, and the happiest life you can have! 
~~ Chantel ~~

Monday, October 21, 2013

#BookReview ~ Love and Other Games ~ Romance Short Story Collection

Title:  Love and Other Games
Genre: New Adult Romance/Short Stories
Chantel's Rating: 5 stars

Love and Other Games, is a collection of four sexy new adult stories centered around athletes competing in the Winter Games by Ana Blaze, Melinda Dozier, Aria Kane, and Kara Leigh Miller.

Worth More Than Gold by Ana Blaze

Trouble With Gold by Melinda Dozier

The Girl Behind the Gold by Aria Kane

Ice Gold by Kara Leigh Miller

Links for the book:
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

My Review:
This is a fun collection of sexy short stories that I quite enjoyed. Truthfully, I only picked it up because I had beta read for Melinda Dozier her story Trouble With Gold before they started submitting to publishers and I loved Ty and Nadia's whirlwind romance and their fun, flirty, and hot story. However, the other stories were quite enjoyable and I would recommend the entire book (though fun-loving Ty still has my heart and I still giggle about Nadia's panties).

I'm not normally a person who reads short stories, but this is a fun collection and a nice introduction to each author's work. The winter games tying them together was a nice touch. If you're looking for new authors to read, you won't be disappointed with this collection and it can point you in the direction of some great authors. 

Happy reading! 
~~ Chantel ~~

Friday, October 18, 2013

#NewRelease ~ Love & Deception by Chantel Rhondeau

Love & Deception (Agents in Love ~ Book 1)
Release Date: October 18, 2013
Author: Chantel Rhondeau
Genre: Romantic Suspense

What if everything you believed in was a lie?

In hiding for six years, Carlie Hollis is tired of running. All she wants is to stay in Sayle, Washington and make a success of her struggling delicatessen. Because of her past, she’s suspicious of anyone who takes an interest in her.

Nick Kendall works as a spy in a top-secret government operation, protecting innocent people from danger. Sent to Sayle on a mission to infiltrate a suspected terrorist organization, Nick finds himself attracted to Carlie, an alleged key player of the group.

Despite her misgivings, Carlie develops feelings for the handsome stranger, believing he is there to help her. But when Nick finds evidence of her guilt, he’s given orders to do the unthinkable—eliminate the target, one he's fallen hopelessly in love with. Will he follow orders...or become hunted himself?

CONTENT WARNING: Violence, language, sizzling love scenes.

Agents in Love Series:
Book 1 - Love & Deception (October 2013)
Book 2 - Love & Redemption (Spring 2014)
Book 3 - Love & Compromise (Fall 2014)
More to come...

Buy it now:
Kindle Edition:
Amazon: US | UK
Apple iBooks:  US | UK | AU | CA | NZ
Barnes & Noble US | UK
Mark it as "to read" on Goodreads

Silence rushed to fill the space between them. Desperate to keep the conversation moving, Carlie jerked her chin in the direction of the chandelier. “I love how big that is.”

“Really?” Nick lifted one eyebrow and his lips quirked at the corners. “I’ve heard size is important.”

Embarrassment burned all the way up her neck and face. “I meant the chandelier. I wasn’t saying...” Holy crap. She was supposed to flirt. Another woman would have come up with a witty comeback, but Carlie had nothing.

He laughed and reached across the table, patting her hand. “Relax. I figured that’s what you meant. Just trying to lighten the mood.”

“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be so nervous.”

“It’s okay, but you really don’t need to be. I don’t bite. Well,” he glanced at the tablecloth briefly before looking at her again, heat in his gaze, “not on the first date.”

“” Carlie gasped for a few seconds and then sighed. Shelley would be so disappointed in her. “I’m not good at this.”

“You’re not trying to tell me you don’t date much, are you?”

“Well, actually, I don’t.” She took a sip of water. The truth was the wrong path to take here. Guys wanted worldly, experienced girls who knew how to have a good time.


She winked at him, hoping it didn’t look like she had something in her eye. “At least, not men as sexy as you.”

He winked back. “And big, don’t forget big.”

Author Bio
Chantel once thought a great mystery or fantasy book with strong romantic themes was the highest level of reading bliss. After reading her first romantic suspense novel, she never looked back. Before long, the need to create her own stories took over. She spend her days in the clinical profession of medical transcriptionist, but her passion is in the hours spent with her characters in the evenings.

She live in the western United States, and when she's not writing she love playing cards with her family, bowling on leagues, and snuggling with her lazy kitties.

Want to contact Chantel?
Cyber Stalk on Facebook
Follow on Twitter 

Check out all Chantel's available titles:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

#NewRelease ~ Finding Forever by Michele Shriver ~ Romance

Finding Forever, a contemporary romance by Michele Shriver, is now available in eBook and paperback!

Finding forever cover

Sometimes life offers a second chance at first love, but only if you have the courage to take it.

Jordan Priestley buried her mother, her alcoholism, and her California dreams to start over in Grande Valley, Texas. Defending the accused in a violent border town is a far cry from the entertainment law practice she abandoned, and that’s the way Jordan likes it. Happiness eludes her until a former client-turned-lover reappears, tempting her with a hopeful future, while dredging up mistakes from her past.

Jake Morrison paid his dues in the acting business. Now, his big break has arrived with a starring role in a major director’s next blockbuster film. The movie shoot takes Jake to Grande Valley, where he seeks to reconnect with the one woman he couldn't forget. As Jake slowly breaks through Jordan’s defenses, an old girlfriend resurfaces, threatening their future and Jordan’s fragile sobriety.

Will Jake and Jordan take a chance on forever, or will reminders of their past be too much to overcome?

Purchase today: E-books available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Apple / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Smashwords / All Romance eBooks

From the author: I am very excited to share Jordan and Jake's story with the world and I hope people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. To help celebrate the release of my new novel, I am offering free copies of my other books now through October 31, 2013. The books are available for download from Smashwords by entering the appropriate coupon code. Thank you very much for your support!

After Ten (coupon code SC34Y): Download

Sixth South (coupon code LH26U): Download

Aggravated Circumstances (coupon code LW28G): Download

Friday, October 11, 2013

Cover Reveal - Engraved by Amber Graza

Book Title: Engraved

Author: Amber Garza

Release Date: June 12, 2012

Genre: Suspense

Length: 392 pages

Publisher: Amber Garza

Presented by: As You Wish Tours



A missing girl.

A young woman running from her shameful past.

A person with a dark secret who will stop at nothing to keep it hidden. 

And the act of betrayal that binds them all together. 


Amber Garza is the author of Young Adult paranormal and contemporary romance. She has had a passion for writing since she was a little girl, making books out of notebook paper and staples. Amber lives in California with her amazing husband and two hilarious children who provide her with enough material to keep her writing for years.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

#NewRelease ~ Love and Other Games ~ Contemporary Romance

Today, we're celebrating the release of Love and Other Games, a collection of four sexy new adult stories centered around athletes competing in the Winter Games by Ana Blaze, Melinda Dozier, Aria Kane, and Kara Leigh Miller.

Worth More Than Gold by Ana Blaze

Amy Pierce, the klutzy sister and manager of America’s Skating Sweetheart, is used to being invisible. But when a friend drags her to a party near the Olympic Village, Amy catches the eye of a sexy Norwegian ski jumper. It’s a magical night, but an awkward next morning has her running.

Everyone knows Erik Andresen’s best shot at an individual medal was back in 2010, before an injury pulled him from the competition. He’s there for his team, but a hot night and a remarkable final training session have him wondering if a gorgeous good-luck charm could give him another chance at the podium. With a little bit of luck, these two might have a shot at something worth more than gold.

Ana Blaze's: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Trouble With Gold by Melinda Dozier

US snowboarder and notorious prankster, Ty (Trouble) Madsen is only getting a taste of his own medicine when his Olympic teammates shackle him to a fence wearing nothing but his boxers.

Reception and protocol volunteer, Nadia Hoffman, gets up close and personal with the sexy snowboarder to rescue him, but she's not the kind of girl who lets her hormones get in her way. A professional performance could help her land her dream job at Olympics Committee Headquarters, but her new assignment supervising the rambunctious US Snowboarding Team is making that difficult.

Can she see behind the snowman in the community center bathroom and into the warm heart of the man everyone calls Trouble?

Melinda Dozer's: Website | Twitter | Facebook

The Girl Behind the Gold by Aria Kane

Greek aerial skier Lia Milonas’s parents are about to lose the family farm. Saving it means medaling and landing a huge sponsor. While her no-nonsense attitude has her well on her way to a medal, it hasn’t won her a place in fans' hearts.

“Come back with a story that will make readers cry, or don’t come back.” This is what Brandon James’ boss told him before he left New York to cover the Winter Games for Moment Magazine. With a wink and a smile, he can charm his way into any invite-only party, but that career-making story is nowhere to be found – until he meets Lia.

The two strike a deal that should get them both what they want - but neither would have guessed they’d also find what they need.

Aria Kane's: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Ice Gold by Kara Leigh Miller

Colton Campbell thrives on the fast paced, adrenaline rushed lifestyle of being an Olympic hockey player. Despite Brenna Jessup's abhorrence for the games and the athletes, she's hand-picked as the official photographer for the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team. When a faux pas by Brenna almost costs Colton his career, she owes him. Too bad for her, Colton doesn't want apologies -- he wants retribution! And he knows just how to get it -- and her -- in the process.

Kara Leigh Miller's: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

The authors are hosting a Facebook party on release day filled with fun, surprises, and PRIZES! You can find the event here!

Be sure to check out the #OtherGames hashtag every day in October for winter Olympian sexiness! 


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