Clare London and Ghosts ~ Do you believe?

Have you ever seen a ghost?

Well, I have, though only once. And before you offer me any sympathy or concern, I can assure you he wasn’t at all scary! Just a transparent, smiling young man who appeared in the corner of the room one night while I was on my own, watching TV. He was definitely there, it wasn’t a reflection of the screen, or a brief, hallucinatory flip in my mind.  I blinked and looked again, and he was still hovering. I can’t remember his clothes, whether they were contemporary or from another era. Likewise I can’t remember much about his looks, except that he had smiling eyes. Romance readers will know what I mean!

I was watching a comedy show, and even before I had time to be startled, he put his finger to his lips and grinned, like we were both sharing the jokes, but privately between us. It was a long time ago, but I’m sure I asked him “Who are you? What are you?” He just looked at me, still grinning, and shrugged.

I must have laughed then, because I do now when I recall it. He had no more idea of what was happening that I did myself. Why do we automatically expect ghosts to have all the answers? To be somehow wiser and more at peace? Or, like the horror movies, to be angry, tortured or vengeful souls?

Maybe they’d be characters just like us, except … well, in ghost status.

I think I’ve always been interested in ghosts that are not the typical stereotypes. And that’s partly what led me to write The Tourist, out now at Carina Press. My hero Ace was a young Victorian man, living on his wits on the London streets. He tells us the tale of how he lived and died then, how he turned up to meet us in this novella as a ghost, and what he seeks out of life now. And that’s fun!

I tried to write Ace as any other person, looking for entertainment and comfort and company. He soon represented himself as a cocky, sexy, good time guy, but I was happy to follow him there! Still inhabiting the streets of London’s now-fashionable Chelsea, he visits men’s bodies as a “tourist”, the closest he can get to real life. When he meets two lovers, steady Dan and disturbed Ricky, we find out about them through his eyes, and the fun he has with their love affair. And when things turn dangerous for the lovers? Well, rather than seek another host, Ace finds there’s something he can do for the young men in return.

So if you have seen a ghost, has it changed your view of life – and maybe of ghosts themselves? Let me know!


The Tourist available now at Carina Press:

BLURB: Visiting isn’t a science, at least not for me. It’s just what I do. Not that I mind, though. It’s not a bad thing, you understand, to find yourself in someone else’s body, stepping into a hot shower stark-naked and sporting a decent-sized morning wood.

Ace is a tourist. A spirit who spends his time visiting the lives of others for entertainment and sexual satisfaction. He can’t make anyone do anything they aren’t willing to do—but he is able to push them to their personal limits.

He’s currently visiting Dan and his lover, Ricky—a couple struggling with jealousy and words left unsaid. Emboldened by Ace, Dan becomes more sexually aggressive, a pleasant surprise for Ricky. But when an abusive ex threatens their newfound happiness, how far will Ace want to get involved? Will his fascination with the couple’s sexual games tempt him to protect them from a very real physical danger?

Clare London online:

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BADLANDS with Seleste DeLaney


For writers, inspiration comes in a number of forms, and sometimes it hits them out of the blue. The first hint of a story hit me upon seeing a piece of artwork featuring a warrior-woman with weapons strapped all over her staring out over a desolate landscape. The moment I saw it, I knew I had to write her story, but other than a general idea of how she ended up on the outcropping, I didn’t have a clue what that story was.

Then I met editor Jeremy Lassen (Nightshade Books) at WorldCon in 2009 (very funny guy). He mentioned a joke he liked to play on new writers about their titles and what he would send them as the new title. I decided to write something that could use his bogus title. It involved a spaceship with a name that could easily be called a variety of things depending on how the words were translated.

When Angela James asked for a space western, those two ideas combined and I started writing. Needless to say, the space western collapsed, but the core story remained, and one translation of the spaceship’s name became the name of the dirigible that features heavily in Badlands: Dark Hawk.

It wasn’t a simple, straightforward path from inspiration to product by any means, but I don’t know if I would have wanted it to be. I learned a lot through the process of piecing together the story from a variety of ideas—and from re-writing it. I hope my love for this project shines through, because what good is a romance if you don’t feel the love that went into it?

“Stop right there, ma’am. No need for more killing.” The voice was young—some soldier just following orders.

Ever’s arm strained to hold on as she glanced back to judge his location. “If I do not move, I will fall. Whether you pull the trigger or not, it will still mean my death.” Her biceps quivered and sweat poured down her back, dripping under her belt. He must’ve seen her weapons, known she was a warrior.

“All right, ma’am, find your footing and climb back down.”

A slow smile curved onto her face. “Thank you.” As she pretended to look for a handhold, Ever let her foot slip from the rock. She screamed and threw her body to the left, twisting as she fell. Her left hand snagged on the hold as her right pulled the pistol from its holster and fired.

Through the smoke and dust, the soldier—barely out of his teens from the look of his unlined face— raised a hand to his throat. Blood poured from the hole there, collecting in his cupped palm. Shock was writ large across his features, mouth gaping, eyes wide as he fell to the ground.

Buy BADLANDS here:

To find Seleste at her homepage:


Generally, fairy tale retellings—or twisted tales—are historical fantasy or contemporary, like Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine or The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey. But when I decided to tackle Jack and the Beanstalk I went in the other direction, Futuristic. The idea of taking an old story past the present and beyond intrigued me.

In twisting this tale, to take it into the realm of Romance and let my imagination soar, the first thing I had to pin down was, what exactly is this beanstalk? I started in a unique place for me—figuring out a small piece of the story before the characters or the plot. What are these magic beans?  Are they really magic? If I said “no”, then it still had to be something extra special and that’s how I came up with the idea of a vine created through science.

From there, it snowballed into a complete story full of spies, giant megacorporations, and love. Love is behind everything I write, both for the love of the story and the love of Romance. So this beanstalk is the means for the heroine Jacqueline to climb her way back to the love of her life:

With her toe, she kicked the gravel around for a few moments before she made herself focus. Thinking of Merry would only upset her and leave her fingernails chewed to the quick. Instead, she set her internal clock and meditated. Deep breaths. Noise faded away. The world fogged. A memory of a man in jeans, dark hair and dark eyes, giving her warm caresses and hotter kisses threatened her tranquility, but she shoved it in her internal lockbox. Never a time for those wasted thoughts. The hurt.

A shadow passed overhead. She pulled herself into the here and now to check her watch. Time. She pulled the binocular lenses out of her pocket and slipped them on. After days of studying this same subject, the lenses were perfectly focused.

The floating island had a distinct call sign on its trailing edge as it passed overhead.

The Giant Corporation.

Like clockwork. It’d come about twice more before doing so again at exactly 0500.

The beans in her fist had grown hot from her skin. The small stone-like tech was a bioengineered product, the only shot she had. When she dumped them in the hole she’d made with her toe, she let out her pent-up breath.

Tomorrow morning, she’d get what she needed from Giant Corp.

Leave a comment here by Wed 11:59pm EST, or check out Ella’s blog for other chances to win an epub or pdf version of Jaq’s Harp.

Jaq’s Harp is available from Carina Press, Amazon, Nook, AllRomance.comBooksOnBoard, &  Diesel

Ella Drake is a dark paranormal and science fiction romance author. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, & Goodreads.


A while ago, I was wandering around in the mall.  Now, for most people the mall is the place to go buy a pair of shoes, a gift, or new outfit. Me? I go to watch people.

Okay, I’m not gonna lie, I buy the occasional pair of shoes.

Oh, all right, two pair…I have two x chromosomes

I know I’m not the only one who enjoys people watching, and the American shopping mall is the place! Teenagers looking for friends and dodging everyone else, speed walkers, mall cops, there’s a little bit of everything! On one trip, I saw a little old lady in a skater shop, holding up a leather mini skirt to her waist, and checking herself out in the mirror. Another time there were two teenage girls trying so hard to look grown up–one tripped on heels too high for her, and pulled the other down until they toppled in a big pile of nylon and leather.  They were mortified.

I didn’t laugh (out loud).

During this particular trip, I was shopping in one of the big box anchor stores, and there in the tool aisle, I ran into the hero of one of my books.

It was him. Plain as day, alive and breathing, just like I pictured him.  I watched him from behind an appliance display; I couldn’t tear my eyes away.

I know I stared. I know my mouth dropped open, and I’m pretty sure I started drooling. He finally saw me and gave me the look that could have either said “Do I know you?” or “should I call the mall cop?”

I wanted to say, “Yes! Yes it’s me! I wrote you!  Your name is Josh! You flare your nostrils when you get angry! You like whiskey instead of beer! I wanted to ask about his ranch, I wanted to ask about Tessa, the heroine in my novel. It was a very strange experience for me.

I had pictured this man so vividly that he came alive for me.

Well? What would you do?!  I stood there for a long long time, close to embarrassing myself before I made up my mind as to what I needed to do.  I’m a shy person.  Really I am. Born and raised in small town USA, out in Wild West Nowhere. We like our space.  We keep our distance.  But I’m old enough to know that if I didn’t do what I knew I had to do, I would regret it.

So I did. I walked up to that complete stranger, and asked for his email address. I told him I was writing a book, and he could have walked right off of its pages. I practically begged him to model for the cover if it ever came to that.

I wasn’t dragged away by the mall cop, and he wasn’t horrified, I think he was even a little intrigued when I told him the genre, and I got his email address.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a happy ending to this story. By the time I finished Tessa’s Pride, I’d misplaced my hero’s email address. Artist Amanda Kelsey found the guy playing Josh Bradley on the cover, and I think he’s pretty darn close, but nothing was like meeting him face to face.

Maybe I should shop more often.

You can get to know Josh Bradley on Monday 2/21/11 when Tessa’s Pride releases from Carina Press.   (short buy link)

Learn more about Olivia:

Olivia’s Website

Olivia’s Twitter

THE BEST GAME~According to Susan Charnley and Rue Allyn

You’ll be seeing Valentine’s Day blogs and posts all over the web, so we thought we’d write about a different topic, our favorite game.  Our favorite game in the entire world is “What if…”  That’s probably why we’re writers.  We like having fun and only a few games are as much fun for us as playing “What if…”  Here are a couple of winners.

What if a widow with sex as her only resource plots to ruin the reputation of the man she believes is responsible for her husband’s death?  That “What if…” became The Widow’s Revenge, available June 1, 2011.

What if one wealthy tycoon bets his wealthier friend can’t live on a handy man’s income for three months?  Would the friend lose the bet just to win the lady he works for?  That “What if…” became The Catnapped Lover, available now.

We won’t list all of the million and more plus one “What if’s” that we have yet to play.  You’ll have to discover them when we get the opportunity to write and publish them.  Here’s hoping each “What if…” becomes a story that we all can love.

Send us a note at and let us know what games you like to play.  Check out these links for samples of all the “What if’s…” we’ve played and more.

Harlequin’s Patent Your Kiss & Goodies!!

Kisses are awesome and should be preserved, right?  Kisses can convey a wealth of meaning and emotion.  They soothe booboos and start motors racing.  Not much carries quite the impact of a kiss.  Kisses are as varied as the people giving them and here’s your chance to illustrate your own method, vote on your favorite or both!

Visit Harlequin’s fun and delightful site:

Create your own awesome kiss, vote on the kisses, enter for a chance to win an incredible prize; really y’all,  you don’t want to miss this.  I had a large time playing around.

BTW, my favorite kiss is the Against the Wall….those intense looks,  yummy.

What a great kiss kit, huh?  Throw in a few Blaze books & you’ve got quite a nice little package guaranteed to make someones day.  The kiss kit and Blaze books are up for grabs courtesy of Emma at Harlequin.  Sweet isn’t she to offer such a goodie package for one of our lucky commenters?  Chosen at random on February 13th . Good luck!!

Virgin River’s Jack Sheridan visits ~ Chance to win Wild Man Creek!

Hi, I’m Jack Sheridan and I own this little bar in Virgin River. It took me a couple of years to turn a two room cabin into all this. I’m a passable cook, but the place took on a whole new image after my buddy Preacher came up here. He was really just paying a visit, but I told him he could stay on as long as he wanted if he could find something to do. He started cooking. At first it was just the fish we caught or the venison we shot, but he discovered he liked it. And I have to say, he has a gift.

Now, we don’t have a menu here—Preacher cooks one thing for each meal every day, and it’s whatever he’s in the mood for. The savvy customers know there are probably leftovers if they don’t care for today’s fare. And everything is large portions because that’s what Preacher thinks people deserve, even if they ask for small portions. It’s hearty food—comfort food.

Well, we had an interesting turn of events not long ago. The sister of one of our newer residents came up for a visit, and she’s a chef, and a refugee from an insane five-star San Francisco French restaurant. Get a couple of chefs together—Preacher and Kelly Matlock—and there are plenty of surprises to go around. I think that Carr woman’s writing about it in Harvest Moon; she’s been poking around a lot lately and I caught her taking notes a time or two. To tell the truth, she gets on my nerves. Nice woman, but bossy. Always giving us advice on how to act, what to say.

Anyway, Kelly is interested in some of the things Preacher does with game; his duck and venison dishes are always smooth and delicious, never gamey. And since Kelly’s specialty is frou-frou foods for a French restaurant, she wants to know all about the kind of meals served at a place like ours. Lodge food, she calls it. Heavy, filling food with real substance. Preacher is only too happy to share his recipes and tricks—like what to do to make game less gamey.

You might wonder what Kelly has to show Preacher, since the odds of him serving up some puny French thing, that’s barely a stain on the plate, is pretty much out of the question. Well, turns out Chef Kelly has some old secret recipes from her great-grandmother that put Preach in a fever of excitement—like bisques. Tomato, squash, pumpkin—thick, creamy soups that ride alongside one of his sandwiches real nice. He really went for the bisques. And since Preacher likes to stretch a dollar, this is a discovery that will take real good care of his kitchen. And Kelly can definitely compete with his preparation of duck; she turns out a damn fine fowl meal. And she’s working with him on pastry, something he’s just decided he has to perfect.

Yeah, they’ve been teaming up real well, my cook and the French chef. I kind of hate to see Kelly leave…and I’ve noticed a certain man around here who acts like he wishes she’d stay. Oh wait—that’s right—this is Virgin River!  The place everyone wants to call home. I reckon we might be seeing plenty of Kelly.

Drop by the bar for a drink, a meal. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

Thanks to Harlequin we have a copy of WILD MAN CREEK to give away to one lucky commenter!

Meaningful comments only please…..Winner will be chosen @ random on the 10th.

Good luck!

BLACK WINGS ~ Christina Henry

Christina thanks so much for visiting Manic Readers.

Thanks for having me here today!

Could you tell us a bit about BLACK WINGS, your debut?

Maddy Black is an Agent of death. It’s an inherited job with no pay. She’s broke, she’s stressed and she’s got to rent the apartment in her building if she wants to have some income. She takes on a new tenant who winds up bringing a whole host of new supernatural problems with him. She’s also got a very mouthy gargoyle with a bad popcorn habit who loves to express his opinion on everything.

Did you always want to write?

Yes, it was something that I’ve always wanted to do. When I was 12 years old I read J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” for the first time and decided then and there to be a writer. I’ve never really wanted to do anything else.

What 3 things do you require to be able to write?

Unfortunately, because I have a 4-year-old I just have to write when I can. I prefer to have a pot of green tea, my iPod, and a couple of hours of quiet, but I will take what I can get.

I guess, to be so small they require a lot of time and energy!  *S*

Who’s in control, you or the characters?

I think the process of a writing a story happens pretty organically. Bits of plot or dialogue will occur to me at random throughout the day, and then when I sit down to write I build something around those bits. So the answer is I am mostly in control, but my characters give me a lot of help!

Can you give us some info on BLACK NIGHT?

I can tell you that the world will open up some, and that you will be introduced to some new creatures and characters that will become important in Maddy’s world. I can also tell you that her romantic relationships become more instead of less complicated, Beezle eats a lot more doughnuts, and that the ending of the book surprised me when I was writing it, so I hope it surprises you when you read it!

I’m looking forward to it, I adored Beezle.

What do you most enjoy about writing?

I love getting into the intricacies of the story and being so engaged that I’m not sure exactly what’s going to happen next. It’s so much fun to be surprised by the story!

Dislike the most about writing?

Deadlines 🙂

What are your 3 biggest pet peeves?

I don’t have a ton of pet peeves, but a big one is people who just stop in the middle of the aisle at Costco! Those carts are too big and the store is always crowded, even on a weekday, because it’s the only warehouse store on the north side of Chicago.

Did you have a favorite book as a child?  Teenager?  Do you currently have a favorite?

My favorite books as a child were the Black Stallion books. As a teenager I was very serious and interested in being perceived as deep so I read a lot of French and Russian writers, like Sartre and Camus and Dostoevsky.

My favorite book of all time is Richard Russo’s “Nobody’s Fool”. It’s just a masterpiece of characterization.

I’ll have to check out “Nobody’s Fool”.  I’ve never read Richard Russo.

Where do you envision yourself in 5 years?

I really hope to be still writing professionally. I don’t need to be a bestselling author (although that would be nice!) but I’d like the books to do well enough that I can keep writing.

Thanks so much Christina for taking time out to talk with us.  I’ve really enjoyed it!

Thanks again for having me!

Christina has kindly offered 1 commenter a copy of BLACK WINGS!!   Winner will be chosen @ random and notified via email and here.  Comments have to be meaningful y’all!

STITCH ME DEADLY with Amanda Lee

Amanda thanks so much for taking the time to stop by Manic Readers.

Thanks so much for having me here!

Could you give us some details on your newest release STITCH ME DEADLY?

In this book, a woman brings an antique sampler into the Seven-Year Stitch, asks Marcy to help her find “ivy”, and collapses. Marcy believes the sampler is the key to the woman’s murder as well as to a mystery from the woman’s past.

Why embroidery?  Is it because of your personal love & knack for it?

I do enjoy embroidery, but it was actually my editor’s idea. One good thing for me has been reconnecting with the needlework I’ve enjoyed for years and learning new types in the name of research! J

Do you find it difficult to find time to write?

I sometimes find it difficult to write in the time I have, if that makes sense. For example, I was writing the other day and one character asked another a question. And I didn’t know the answer! So I spent the rest of my allotted writing time looking up random junk on the computer (to find the answer to the question, of course) and checking e-mail…because, you never know, the answer might be there…in a sales advertisement or something.

What’s your favorite part of the writing process?

I love it when the story goes in a direction I wasn’t expecting it to go. I figure if I’m surprised, readers will be too.

Least favorite?

Going through the editing process is hard. Sometimes you think you’ve written a really cute scene and it makes perfect sense to you, but the editor says it doesn’t work. But after you make it through that process, the book is better. It’s kind of like going to the dentist for a cleaning. You dread it, you hate doing it, it can get ugly…but afterwards, your teeth look and feel great! LOL!

Is there anything you need to coax your muse?

Sometimes I need cheat notes or teasers. For example, if at the end of a writing session, I know what the characters need to do next, then it’s a lot easier to dive into the next writing session if I make myself a note like: NEXT: Marcy goes to the hospital to visit the lady who collapsed in her shop. Afterward, I might change it up, but at least it gives me a jump-off point.

Do you have everything planned out or does it just “come to you”?

I’d say it’s a combination of both.

3 pet peeves?

1) When everything is really quiet and I’m engrossed in my writing, and my dog barks at what seems to me to be nothing! It makes me jump out of my skin! And I could almost swear he’s snickering at me afterward.

2) Putting stuff away so I’ll know where it is and then forgetting about it. I found Christmas paper under my bed just a couple weeks ago…after buying more Christmas paper for next year. On the other hand, I’m always finding “surprises.”

3) When my family makes fun of me over my obsession with the mail! On Saturdays, I make my husband move his car if he’s blocking the mailbox because they won’t stop if the box is blocked. Sorry, but I like mail! I get STUFF in the mail. Okay, often there are bills [L]; but just as often, there’s a little goodie tucked inside: a free sample (these delight me, even if it’s dog food—I’m happy for the dog!), a magazine, a movie, books, a check, something I’ve ordered online…. You never know what wonderful thing might be out there. Of course, someone told me once his grandfather found a snake in his mailbox, but I’ll bet that nearly never happens. J

3 favorite things?

Besides the mail, you mean? LOL! Okay….

1) Jesus – He loves me even if I am a crackpot.

2) My family – ditto

3) My pets, writing, reading, chocolate, pasta, mail, puppies, shoes….

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading The James Prescription by Chuck Thompson.

Thanks again for joining Manic Readers today Amanda.  I know we’re all looking forward to STITCH ME DEADLY.

Thanks again for letting me visit! I truly appreciate your support, and I can identify with manic readers!  J

OK Y’all, Amanda is having a release party on her FB page also.  Follow the directions below to be entered to win prizes all day.  Also, 1 lucky commenter on this blog will be randomly selected to win a book!

“Like!/pages/Gayle-Trent-and-Amanda-Lee-Cozy-Mystery-Writer/123653074333103 on Facebook and learn how to be entered to win prizes throughout the day for the Stitch Me Deadly release party!”

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