Allegra Fairweather

Hi Ivy, thanks for inviting me.  I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the first two Allegra Fairweather books and I can’t wait to share some information about book three.













The working title is Pirates and Pearls. It’s due for release in the first half of 2012.

As you know the first two books were set in cool climates. I’ve been longing to write something set in the tropics and Pirates and Pearls gave me that opportunity. It was a no-brainer to choose a setting I’d visited and after considering Fiji, I finally settled on Tahiti, which is absolutely gorgeous. It’s exactly the way you’d imagine a tropical paradise.  If you don’t believe me, check this out.

The action takes place in both the Tahitian capital of Papeete and a billionaire’s resort on fictional Lu’arna Island.  Just for fun,I “marooned“ Allegra at the billionaire’s luxurious resort. But there is a serious purpose to her visit. Deceased mermaids have been washing ashore on  Lu’arna’s beaches and the billionaire isn’t happy.  Allegra is given the job – and paid very well, thank you very much – of discovering who is killing the mermaids.

As usual, she’s assisted by her guardian angel, Casper, whose professional standards slip when he’s distracted by a beautiful woman. But it’s all good, because Allegra findsher own distractions in the arms of a cute guy.

This story was great fun to write, not least because I got to experience the lifestyle of the very rich.  I got to fly with an angel and hunt for pirates’ treasure. Okay, it was only in my imagination, but still.

I’m still in the process of editing this novel so I can’t share an excerpt, but I’ll put one on my website as soon as it’s available.

Ditto for the cover. The first two covers were designed by the amazing Frauke of Croco Designs. I’m sure the next cover will be just as beautiful.

In breaking news…As well as Pirates and Pearls, there may also be an Allegra Fairweather novella released in 2012. Watch my Facebook and Twitter over the next months for more information on this.

Thanks so much for having me, Ivy. It’s been great!


‘Tis the Season….Karen Erickson

Are you ready? It feels like we were just discussing what we were thankful for and now we’re in full on Christmas mode. If I’m really being truthful, I’d say it’s more like we were just ringing in the New Year and now that year is already almost over. I feel like such an old lady when I say this but it’s so true: you blink and the entire year has flashed by!


In January I was writing a little holiday-themed story while staying for a week at my parents’ house in Palm Springs. Yep, I was surrounded by giant palms and orange trees and writing about the pleasures of Christmas set in the 1820s. When I sold the novella that would eventually be called Her Christmas Pleasure, I was given the release date of fall/winter 2011. That sounded so far away…

And now it’s here. The second in The Merry Widows series, I hope this novella will touch your heart at least a little bit. I pulled out all the stops. Man who loves the wife of his deceased best friend. A scheming father-in-law whose trying to get the hero and heroine together and an adorable five-year-old boy who wants nothing more but a father for Christmas. Stolen kisses in the halls, headaches from too many Christmas carols, you know—the usual stuff that goes down during the holiday season. *grins*

I hope you enjoy Damien and Celia’s story as much as I enjoyed writing it.


Contest: To celebrate, I’d like to gift a copy of HER CHRISTMAS PLEASURE to one lucky winner via Amazon Kindle. And you don’t need a Kindle to read it – you can download the Kindle app on pretty much any phone or PC. Just answer the following question:


What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?

I will announce the winner here in the comments on Wednesday, November 30th. That means only one day to enter!


Damien Morton is madly in love. Unfortunately, it’s with his best friend’s widow, Lady Danver. Damien is not worthy of Celia. Or so he thinks. Desperate to escape his feelings for her, he plans to leave the country at the first of the year. Celia treats him as a family friend and nothing more—until they share a heated kiss beneath the mistletoe…

Celia is shocked by the passions that surge within her at her dear friend’s kiss. One touch and one taste aren’t enough to satisfy her cravings, and she is startled into action. Damien has stirred something inside her that she never expected to experience again, and she must have more. Full of shameless desire and emotions newly discovered, she decides to pursue Damien and won’t be deterred. Will she be able to convince him to stay—both in her heart and life—forever?

Carina Press


 Barnes & Noble

Her Christmas Pleasure excerpt


Karen’s Website

Karen’s Blog:

The Smutketeers Group Blog

Karen on Facebook



The expression “guilty pleasure” has been around for a long time but perhaps it wasn’t truly defined until reality TV came on the scene and changed the face of television.

At the time, we were both working in TV but hadn’t made our way over to the world of reality.  Many of our friends were working behind the scenes and we loved hearing their stories and watching their episodes unfold on television.

Reality TV was many things to many people  – it could be crass, hilarious, suspenseful, dramatic, sweet, offensive and sometimes even romantic.  It captured everyone’s attention – whether they liked it or not.

And many people didn’t like it.  A lot of our struggling actor friends were none too happy when reality took over the airwaves.  While we wanted to stand by their side Norma Rae-style and boycott the television…we were sucked in.  For us, reality TV became the guiltiest of guilty pleasures.

While we enjoyed watching the antics of the crazy ladies on The Bachelor, we were also hooked on Chick Lit.  We devoured Helen Fielding, Jane Green and Lauren Weisberger until one day we realized that we wanted to write our own book…and we had the perfect setting right in our own backyard.

By then, we were working in reality TV as well, so we wanted to find a balance between what we saw on-screen and what was happening behind-the-scenes.

We decided our main character Abby should represent the people we worked with – that she would be an ordinary girl in a sometimes-extraordinary world.


As far as Abby’s boss Will was concerned…well we didn’t really model him after the guys we worked with everyday (no offense to our reality brothers-in-arms out there.) We wanted him to be a little extra-ordinary – someone who could really shake-up Abby’s world.

We hope you think that UNSCRIPTED has the addictive appeal of the best reality television:  that narcotic imperative to spend a few hours on the couch engrossed with an ordinary but compelling stranger…because you need to know how it all turns out.

Thanks so much for having us on Manic Readers!

Here’s the book blurb for a closer look:

As a producer on a reality dating show, Abby Edwards knows that true love is a myth. Her career and her friends are all she needs. Right?

 When her screenwriter ex makes a hit movie based on their relationship, Abby’s faults are projected on screens across the country. Suddenly the fact that her job depends on orchestrating hot tub hook-ups doesn’t seem so impressive.

Her friends rally to help. Zoë thinks she needs to meet a guy. Stephanie suggests an attitude adjustment. Nancy wants her to get in touch with her inner Goddess. Abby knows they mean well, but she prefers to focus on her work. Unfortunately, she’s already embarrassed herself in front of her new boss, Will Harper, who she would find totally crush-worthy if he weren’t so irritating.

 Abby’s about to be reminded that life doesn’t follow a script—and good things happen when you least expect it…


We’d love to hear about some of your guilty pleasures… You can find us at our website -on Facebook  and on Twitter @Unscriptedbook

UNSCRIPTED is available at most e-book stores including Carina Press , Amazon , and Barnes&Noble.

Music As A Literary Experience with Dean Mayes

Committing music to the written page can be a particular challenge for a writer. Surely,  music has to be listened to be appreciated it – right? How then, can music translate to a literary experience that is as satifying for a reader, as the music itself?

The answer is not as difficult to achieve as one might believe.

“The Hambledown Dream”, my first novel, is very much a musical journey, with the classical guitar taking center stage. I adore classical guitar. It is a perfect accompaniment to any number of situations and states of mind. When you are stuck in peak hour traffic on a commute. As background music for a dinner party with friends. When you’re relaxing in a chair somehwere with a glass of wine. Indeed, I have found it helpful when I have been sitting a my computer writing.

However, I did not anticipate just how much of a challenge describing music as it performed would be when I first began to pen the story. I grappled with the concept for the longest time.

Music is, obviously, an aural experience, whereas reading is a silent one, that relies on our imagination. As a writer, the challenge in translating this very aural experience into a literary one, is significant. One must be able to deliver an experience that is as emotionally satisfying to the reader, than if they were hearing the music. And, herein lies an additional challenge. How does a writer describe a piece of music that the reader, in all likelihood, has never heard?

During my research, I knew that I wanted to feature classical guitar in the story as a device that would tie two lives together as well as portraying it as a ‘character’ in it’s own right. From the beginning, I consumed as much classical guitar music as I could, determining that I wanted to feature three or four key pieces in the story. Just how I was going to describe them being played, was initially difficult.

At first, I made notes about the technical aspects of several pieces that I found appealing. Their tone, and tempo, whether they were loud or soft, whether they were bold in their execution or more introspective. But in attempting to put these descriptors into an engaging narrative, the initial results were pretty uninspiring. They didn’t grab me in an emotionally satisfying way, so I knew they weren’t going to grab my readers. I needed to approach the problem from another angle.

It wasn’t until I happened across an album in my collection by Australian virtuoso guitarist Slava Grigoryan, that the other angle I was seeking became apparent.

“Another Night In London” is a wonderfully obscure 2003 recording featuring Grigoryan’s classical guitar in a languid, free flowing style. Part jazz, part classical, part contemporary, it’s a more experimental example of Grigoryan’s work. You probably have never heard of the album – am I right?

Within the album, is a three part exploration of Grigoryan’s skilfull playing in an enchanting suite called “The Sounds Of Rain”.

Part 3 of this suite has long been a favorite of mine for a couple of reasons. It evokes the most wonderful imagery of the rain. Soft rain falling through the tops of a tree and dripping freely from the leaves. Pattering rain on a tin roof, somewhere in the country side. Long languid afternoons where rain falls for hours and one can sit on a porch somewhere and simply be accompanied by it. It is calming, soothing and it allows you to drift away. Grigoryan, himself, plays the piece with a gentleness and subtle energy. He moves with piece, bowing his head in concert with the rhythm he draws from the guitar. His fingers dance across the fret board as though they are floating on air.

See what I did there?

In just a few short sentences I was able to evoke imagery in describing the piece as well as impart an emotional accompaniment to it, i.e. – how the piece makes me feel. And, rather than labor on the techincal aspects of the performance, I instead describe Grigoryan’s playing as though it were a dance – a kind of ballet. We know he is a good guitarist, since I described him earlier as a virtuoso. So his technical ability can be taken as a given.

I featured Part 3 of “The Sounds Of Rain” in my novel, right from the start and it became the template for the way I would present the other pieces of music. For pieces that are more renowned than “Rain”, I referred, subtly, to their origins as a way of describing them as another means of ‘translation’.

For example, the famed composer Astor Piazolla’s “Tango Suite”, is fairly well known to lovers of classical guitar. I featured it in a scene where my central character is performing it in a Pub in the chill Chicago winter. By describing the suite in just a single sentence in the novel as…a piece that bristled with a controlled erotic energy of the legendary Argentine dance”, I beleive I was able to evoke the imagery of a dance – the Tango – that is familiar to most of us, as well as evoking a sense of eroticism, an emotion that is, undoubtedly emotionally satisfying to 99.9% of us.

A good exercise to partake in, if you want to write about a piece of music is to write down the kinds of things you see in a piece. A place, a texture, a color, an act – so long as it is visual and it fits into the narrative that you are trying to convey. Add to this the feelings the piece evokes in you. You can then work with your two lists and extrapolate on the themes you find therein.

Music imparts imagery and emotion within us. It fires our imagination and encourages us to seek out more of those forms which we derive the greatest pleasure from.

For a writer, the interpretation of a musical experience into a literary one requires that we tap into a similar sense of imagery and emotion and translate these onto the page, as if the music itself is a character. In this way, a writer can present a musical journey to a reader that is every bit as rich and rewarding as the music itself.

Dean Mayes is the author of The Hambledown Dream which is available from Amazon and Dean Mayes in digital and print formats.

Dean on Manic Readers

Dean on Twitter


Romantic Suspense, How do I love Thee? Toni Anderson

When I first discovered romance novels in the 1990s I was beyond thrilled, I’d moved from the UK to Canada and for some bizarre reason it was almost impossible to get hold of a romance novel in the UK at that time. I was so excited when I walked into the library and bookstores to find these amazing books. I even wrote to Catherine Coulter with vague dreams of myself one day writing a novel like hers (she only wrote historical at that point). I still have her typed letter of reply in my filing cabinet.

When I discovered that some people murdered, maimed, kidnapped and chased other people through romance novels, dripping blood and gunpowder as they went, making love in cupboards as they eluded the bad guys, I was transported into bliss. This was what I wanted to write.

My fourth book, EDGE OF SURVIVAL, is released today from Carina Press J. The hero is a disgraced former British SAS soldier turned Canadian helicopter pilot, trying to stay as far away from civilization and emotional connections as possible. Cameran Young is a fish biologist who suffers from diabetes and is trying to live her life to the fullest. Needless to say things don’t go to plan for either the hero or the heroine J  There is murder and mayhem and betrayal, even the odd shotgun blast in the rugged coastline of Northern Labrador.

EDGE OF SURVIVAL (November 2011)

Foreword by Brenda Novak

Dr. Cameran Young knew her assignment wouldn’t be easy. As lead biologist on the Environment Impact Assessment team, her findings would determine the future of a large mining project in the northern Canadian bush. She expected rough conditions and hostile miners—but she didn’t expect to find a dead body her first day on the job.

Former SAS Sergeant Daniel Fox forged a career as a helicopter pilot, working as far from the rest of the human race as possible. The thrill of flying makes his civilian life bearable, and he lives by his mantra: don’t get involved. But when he’s charged with transporting the biologist to her research vessel, he can’t help but get involved in the murder investigation—and with Cameran, who awakens emotions he’s desperate to suppress.

In the harsh and rugged wilderness, Daniel and Cameran must battle their intense and growing attraction while keeping ahead of a killer who will stop at nothing to silence her…

My heroine has diabetes and I’m donating 15% of my royalties to diabetes research.

Toni Anderson is a former Marine Biologist turned Romantic Suspense writer who now lives in the Canadian prairies with her husband and two children.  Her stories are set in the stunning locations where she’s been lucky enough to live and work—the blustery east coast of Scotland, the remote isolated mining communities of Northern Labrador, the rugged landscapes of the U.S. and Australia. Check out her website for a list of current titles, blog and Facebook Author Page for writing news and her personal Facebook page and Twitter for constant nonsensical chatter.

Her books are available as ebooks from Carina Press,,, The Wild Rose Press, BooksOnBoard, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and many other online retailers.

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Shona Husk and Quintessential Quests

I love a quest story. This comes from reading far too many fantasy novels as a child. But there’s an excitement that comes with going on a quest, whether it’s for treasure or an object of power. Greek mythology is full of questing heroes, as are movies (Indiana Jones, Lara Croft).

When I first had the idea for DARK VOW all I knew was that Jaines, the heroine, wanted the magic gun.

I didn’t know why, or what the gun could do but the idea of having a fantasy novel that involved magic and guns and a quest was too good to push aside. From there I took a pinch of the old West, threw out kings and queens and created ten trade Unions that control everything. The most powerful of which controls magic…guess what?They want the gun too. And so does the anti-union movement.

Like all good quests Jaines gets help from unexpected places, and also discovers some things about her life and herself that she needed to know. And of course no fantasy would be complete without a touch of romance. Jaines does get her man (there’s none of that sacrificing love to save the world here. I like a HEA).

So if you like danger, romance, revenge and magic DARK VOW might be for you.

What’s your favourite quest story?

Visit Shona

Writing, Magic and Electricity

I am always astonished when people ask, “Where do you get your ideas?” The world is full of ideas. Almost anything can spark an idea. At a writers lunch not long ago someone brought a very technical book on statistical analysis they had just published as a part of their day job. The subject was so esoteric I could read every word in the title, but could not understand what they meant as a whole. (I am definitely among the mathematically inept!) When the author explained, I said, “But what a wonderful idea for a plot!”

Everyone looked at me as if I had just lost my mind and one writer was blunt enough to say, “Not for me, it doesn’t,” whereupon I spun out the skeleton of a tale including – as I recall – rogue scientists, an honest researcher and various unscrupulous types manipulating the future through scientific predictions based on statistical data.

It’s usually at this point where The Husband says, “You’re weird.” This impromptu story-spinning of mine has been part of me all my life and is now an almost obligatory performance at dinner parties and other social functions. Pity I don’t remember any of these tales for more than ten minutes or so.

The point of all this being that anything – anything! – can be the germ, the seed, the kernel of a plot. Of course, we all know that for a book you need hundreds of ideas, ideas that will interlink into a seamless whole, but every plot starts with a single idea, even if you don’t know from where it comes.

I’m almost ashamed to admit that I have no idea of where the idea germ came from for THE HOLLOW HOUSE, my 14 November release from Carina Press. It’s a cozy historical mystery, set in Denver in 1919. I knew little about either time or place, but one day I was simply working on the story. Of course I tried to change both time and place to something more familiar, but the story wouldn’t let itself be changed. Every time I tried, the magic just curled up and died. So I started learning about 1919 and Denver and Boston (which figures significantly in the story) and of course got a gazillion more flashes of ideas, both for THE HOLLOW HOUSE (The Great Molasses Flood of January 1919, for example) and for other probably-never-to-be-written stories.

In a way it’s a shame to let all those ideas die without even attempting to incorporate them into a manuscript, but sheer numbers and time crunches make that impossible. The whole exercise is extremely useful, though, as just that – an exercise for my imagination. As the saying goes, use it or lose it. Therefore I fully intend to keep on entertaining (and occasionally unnerving) those around me with my flights of fancy. As an acknowledged member of the Reality-Challenged, it’s great fun.

So how do I decide which idea becomes a book or even part of a book and which is an amusing piece of ephemera? Easy – I don’t. It’s the idea. It grabs ahold of me and won’t let go. No matter what else I’m working on – writing or cooking or anything – it’s somewhere there in my mind, as tenacious (and occasionally annoying) as a terrier. Eventually I give in and start writing. Generally every one of those books is finished, usually including a few ideas that somehow didn’t manage to stand on their own. I do have a few – a very few – of these stories that petered out before the final ‘The End’, but I don’t think they’re dead. They’re just dormant, and when the right combination of ideas comes together they will be finished, even if not in the form I originally intended.

That’s why I think writing is a form of magic. Like electricity, I don’t really know how it works, I just know that it does.

Carina Press


Janis Patterson is a seventh-generation Texan and a third-generation wordsmith who writes mysteries as Janis Patterson, romances and other things as Janis Susan May, children’s books as Janis Susan Patterson and scholarly works as J.S.M. Patterson.

Formerly an actress and singer, a talent agent and Supervisor of Accessioning for a bio-genetic DNA testing lab, Janis has also been editor-in-chief of two multi-magazine publishing groups as well as many other things, including an enthusiastic amateur Egyptologist.

Janis married for the first time when most of her contemporaries were becoming grandmothers. Her husband, also an Egyptophile, even proposed in a moonlit garden near the Pyramids of Giza. Janis and her husband live in Texas with an assortment of rescued furbabies.

COME BACK TO ME Melissa Foster

As I sit down to write this guest post, it is 4:51 p.m., the evening before it’s due, I’ve been at my computer since 7 a.m., and it’s Sunday. I have been mulling over what I wanted to say in this post for two weeks, and I still have a hard time coming up the right sentiments. You see, I should write about gratitude in general, because it’s the right thing to do. What my heart tells me to write is very specific, and in this case, I have to follow my heart.



My third novel, COME BACK TO ME, was recently released. To celebrate the release, I hosted 35 authors on the new literary community that I was developing, WoMen’s Literary Café (for men and women). I felt that I had marketing skills to share that could benefit others, and I wanted to pass them along and watch others succeed. What became of the effort was so much more, and so much more important than my simply sharing of information and teaching.

Thirty-five authors, along with twenty-two bloggers and reviewers—all of whom only knew me from limited online conversations, gathered with open arms, enveloping one another and each of our separate endeavors. Friendships blossomed, bonds were formed, and even now, almost two weeks after the event, I am overwhelmed with emotion when I think about how much energy went into our event, and the amount of support that took place.
Support was not limited to those directly involved with the event. There was an outpouring of support by many who were simply generous enough to donate their time and energy. I believe in fate, and can only believe that this literary community that we’re developing was meant to be. The WoMen’s Literary Café is being built upon the premise of giving more than you receive, and that once you have received guidance, you should then pay-it-forward. These are the values that build strong communities, and our community has already proven its strength.
I wish to extend my gratitude to all of the readers, bloggers, authors, reviewers, editors, Kindle promoters, and other individuals and groups that graciously reached out to us. Thank you. I look forward to a long and happy friendship with each of you. My gift to you is a free copy of CHASING AMANDA. I hope you enjoy it.
As Melissa said above, each commenter will be sent an ecopy of CHASING AMANDA. Please be sure and leave your email. Giveaway is TODAY ONLY!


Jenny Twist – After you get published

Hi everyone.

I’m Jenny Twist. I’ve visited Manic Readers before to talk to you about how I came to write my first two books and the difficulties I experienced in getting them published. Today I’d like to talk about what happens after you get published.

I had, rather naively, assumed that once your book was accepted by a publisher all you had to do was sit back and wait for the money to roll in. Well, it doesn’t happen like that. In order for a book to sell, the author needs to have a fan base, to get fans in the author needs to be actively marketed. Even the best publishers, and I think mine is one of the best, cannot spend the time and money  marketing an unknown author. They will only do this for new books from authors who are already best-sellers or for those whom they believe have a really good chance of becoming best-sellers – celebrities writing their autobiographies, for example.

So is this a Catch 22 situation?

Not quite.

The answer is, you have to market yourself. Luckily, a good publisher will give you lots of tips on how to do this. Ultimately books sell through word of mouth, so the more people you can get to read your book, the better chance it has of becoming well-known. Join author groups – Yahoo has dozens of them. Send your book for review to any review site that seems to be appropriate. It is so easy now that we have the internet, and costs you nothing but your time. Offer to do interviews and blogs. It’s time-consuming, but it really does work.

That’s the down-side of getting published. The upside, apart from the sheer joy of seeing your precious book in print, is that once you are on a publisher’s list of authors, you regularly get asked to submit more stories and your publisher will actually read them! Just remember how many rejection letters you used to get and how you just knew they hadn’t even read your precious manuscript. How fabulous is it to know that your publisher will read your story and take it seriously?

The other great thing, and I wasn’t expecting this at all, is how many new friends you make amongst your fellow authors.

I found myself energised by all this and started writing at a rate of knots. I have so far had three other stories accepted by Melange, two of which, Doppelganger in the anthology Curious Hearts and Uncle Vernon in the anthology Spellbound 2011, are already in print. The third, Jamey and the Alien will be published in a Christmas anthology later in the year.

Contributing to anthologies is both exciting and nerve-racking, since you have absolutely no idea who the other authors will be until the finished product appears. To my great relief, I have enjoyed the other stories in both books and found the other authors to be highly entertaining and full of enthusiasm for promoting the books. It’s too early yet to tell how they’re doing, but I have high hopes.

Here are a couple of excerpts from my contributions:


EXCERPT from Doppelganger by Jenny Twist

Christine lay in the bath sipping a glass of wine and staring at her toes. She had quite nice feet, she thought. A little chubby, perhaps, but a pleasing shape, the toes even and straight. In fact, she wasn’t bad looking altogether. Despite bearing two children she retained a shapely figure. She had stretch marks, of course, fading to silver now, and scarcely noticeable, and her breasts were perhaps on the large side. Kevin thought so, anyway. He had laughed at her bra on the line, saying it looked like a couple of potato sacks. And she used to think he was such a kind and loving person.

She scooped up a handful of pills and knocked them back with another sip of wine. It was taking much longer than she had expected. She’d had to run more hot water in twice and had to get out to get another bottle of wine and more pills. She’d used all the painkillers she could find – paracetamols, aspirin, ibuprofen, even the children’s junior aspirin and was now starting on the rest of the stuff in the bathroom cabinet – antihistamine, diazepam, something for diarrhoea. They all said not to exceed the stated dose, which just goes to show how much leeway there was.

She had considered slashing her wrists, even gone as far as bringing the sharp kitchen knife into the bath, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. An overdose seemed so much more civilized, less messy. And if you did it in the bath, you’d slide under the water when you passed out and there would be no question of botching it.

Except she wasn’t passing out.

Buy Curious Hearts here


Excerpt from Uncle Vernon – Jenny Twist

She reached the ground floor without further incident and was just reaching for the handle on the back door, when she realised there was someone in the kitchen. She could hear singing – Janice, singing along with the radio. Damn! She didn’t think she could let herself out the back way without being seen from the kitchen window. She was still trying to work out a way round this when suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder and she gave a small shriek of surprise and turned round.

Standing in the passage was an enormously tall, incredibly thin man. His face was so pale it was almost translucent. His hair was completely white and swept back from his forehead in a perfect Dracula’s widow’s peak He was dressed entirely in black, the collar of his coat turned up like Dracula’s cloak. And his eyes were staring and colourless in the dim light of the passage.

She screamed a full-blooded, heroine in a horror film scream. And the man put up his hands as if to fend her off. Long, thin, incredibly white hands with long, thin fingers.

She screamed again and was just taking a breath to scream a third time, when the kitchen door opened and Janice said, “It’s all right. It’s only Uncle Vernon.”

Alison flung herself, sobbing, into Janice’s arms and looked back into the passage way. The man had disappeared! How? There was nowhere for him to go. At that moment Gary came clattering down the stairs.

What the fuck?”…

Gary!” Janice said. “Watch your language! It’s only Uncle Vernon.”

Buy Spellbound here

For more excerpts and other stuff, go to my website.

Visit Jenny

Thank you so much for sharing my visit and thank you, Manic Readers, for giving me the opportunity. I really appreciate it.

Jenny Twist

Thankful I Finally Found Someone – Megan Slayer

Okay, so I’ll start with this: I’ve got an earworm from the title. That happens a lot. Does it happen to you? Oh well. Anyway, I thought I’d let my pen name run amok this time around. So take it away, Megan Slayer!

You guessed it, I write as two names. Why? Its fun to try new things and what might now work with one name or might goof up the brand for one name, might work perfectly for the other. So this post is from Megan.

As Megan, I like to write stories about characters finding their perfect one-even if perfect isn’t what the character is. Lots of times it’s the flaws that make a person unique and fun to be around. So I played with characters that really didn’t seem meant for each other and let them do their thing.  I have to say, I love all my books, but this one was fun because I didn’t realize the twists and turns the characters wanted to go on until I really got into the story.

Which one am I talking about? The book just out this month from Changeling Press. Its titled, Under and Over It.  Regan and Camryn are friends and roommates. The idea that they could be more than just friends and find their passions for the sake of art seemed completely foreign to the both of them.  I loved playing with the idea of an artist creating a whole exhibition based on the connection to a person and their passion. It was fun. I kinda liked making Camryn a musician, too. He loved those leather britches.

But back to the title of the post. That was the thing with the book. They, even when they aren’t sure if they want more than sex, are happy to have found someone who gets them. Cam gets Regan’s need to create art and Regan understands Cam’s drive to create music. They found each other and they weren’t even sure they were looking. And I think that’s the cool part about writing. I get to take characters that might not want to be together, put them in a situation they never expected to be in and see what happens.  For me that’s a fun thing to do and I get to learn about my characters. And in this time of being thankful, I’m thankful for the opportunity to write the stories of my characters and make other people happy.

Want to know what this book is about? I’ve talked about it quite a bit. Here’s the blurb:

What happens when an artist finds his muse?

Regan Finley’s photography makes the local music scene shine. He’s four months from his final exhibition and graduation with a Masters in Fine Art Photography. But instead of preparing for the party, he’s fretting about his exhibition theme–bondage and passion. There’s one person he wants to make his exhibition come to life, if he can convince his housemate to participate.

Camryn Tate plays the music that makes the young girls scream. He likes being a local rock hero. His time on campus is coming to a close as well. In four months time, he’ll have earned his Bachelor’s of Music degree in composition. The moment he finds out what Regan wants to do for the exhibition Cam has to make a decision. He can let Regan have his commanding way and get the pictures he needs for the exhibition or he could walk away from the best roommate and friend he’s ever known… all because of a little ball of nylon rope.

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I hope you enjoy the book and the post. I’m having a great time writing it and my characters. Grin. What are you thankful for?

BY HONOR BETRAYED and Gender Roles with Alex Beecroft

As a writer of m/m romance I’m always a bit taken aback and amused when I see blog posts about “how to write male characters,” as though it was something you had to approach in the same way as you’d approach “how to write Regency street-urchins” or “how to write convincing aliens.”

I always read the blog posts with enormous interest, but in my limited experience, they’ve mostly consisted of a rundown of cliches about what men are like (apparently they all watch sports, prefer beer to wine and don’t wash their socks,) that vaguely offend me in the same way that stereotypes about women offend me.

In my lifetime’s experience of men, no two of them have been alike.  Most of them have liked beer, but that could be because I like beer and it tends to be something all my friends have in common, the women too.  Even so, I know some male wine snobs, and some men who are sports-hating domestic gods, and can whip up a fine meal in the time it takes them to wash and iron their socks.

So what do I do, to create convincing male characters?  Well, I look at the one human being about whom I have inside information – the one person who, to a certain extent at least, I understand in depth.  That is, of course, me.  Then I gift my character with a selection of traits that I either have, or can imagine having.  I put the character in situations that I have never had to face, under pressures that I have never had to face, and I imagine how I would react, if I was them in their circumstances.

Of course, those circumstances involve being male, and that means that society shapes the way their traits manifest in a different way from the way I experience things.  John Cavendish from False Colors has my temper, for example, and in writing him I do need to take into account the fact that society treats men’s anger and women’s anger differently.  In men it’s expected, even respected, in women it’s unexpected, and is treated with suspicion, as irrational and hysterical.  So, (in general) a male character can afford to express his anger outwardly, whereas a female one can’t, if she hopes to be taken seriously.  Conversely, (in general) no matter how upset he is, a modern male character can’t break down in tears and expect not to be mocked, whereas a female character can.

It’s much easier to figure out what society expects from each gender and how that determines the way a common human trait plays out, than it is to write male characters as though they were not quite as fully human as the writer.

As for poor Conrad in By Honor Betrayed, my most recent release, I do feel terribly sorry for him.  I’ve given him my decision making process – which is to try and see both sides of any decision in such exhaustive detail that it becomes almost impossible to make a choice between them.  Then I’ve given him a life or death decision to make.  He is bad – truly, awfully bad – at making up his mind, and on his choice rests not only his own life but also that of the man he loves.

I wouldn’t like to be in his shoes!  But I suppose, in my head, I already have been, because that’s how I know what he felt like when he was.  I’m still not sure whether he made the best choice, mind you.  I’ll leave it up to you to decide that 🙂


Alex Beecroft was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the Peak District. She studied English and Philosophy before accepting employment with the Crown Court where she worked for a number of years. Now a stay-at-home mum and full time author, Alex lives with her husband and two daughters in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.

Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has lead a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800 year old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.

You can find me in many places, but chiefly at Facebook, Twitter, and my blog.

Let’s hear it for Regency Romance!

Thank you for inviting me over to Manic Readers to talk about my love of Regency romance.  My debut novel The Lady’s Secret has just been released by Carina Press, and yes, it is a Regency romance!

The Regency period – technically the period when Prince George acted as regent due to George III’s ‘madness’ – lasted for just a decade from 1811 to 1820 when George III died and the Prince Regent finally became George IV.  However the term ‘Regency’ is frequently used to refer longer periods, ranging from the late 18th century until 1837 when Queen Victoria was crowned and the Victorian period began.

For me, the Regency is fascinating because of the sense of it teetering between two different worlds.  Before the Regency, you have the Georgian period, when Britain still had quite an agricultural economy and the aristocracy/landed gentry had the real political clout.  After the Regency, you have the Victorian period with its surging new technologies and thrusting, upwardly mobile middle class.  And in between, you have the Regency, this period of transition and great tension between these groups.

The Regency was also a time when women were virtually powerless, particularly married women, whose property transferred to their husbands upon marriage and who had few rights even in relation to their own children.  Once married, a woman was, to all intents and purposes, a slave to her husband, expected to obey him unquestioningly and reliant on his mercy and generosity.

So in terms of power dynamics, it’s a fascinating time period to write about.

In The Lady’s Secret, I wanted to give my heroine a taste of what it would be like to be a man.  Georgy Knight is a failed-actress-turned-stagehand.  When she discovers that she and her brother are in fact legitimate—and that her brother is therefore the true Earl of Dunsmore—she embarks on a quest to find evidence of her parents’ marriage.  But the only way she can gain access to the ancestral home to search for evidence, is to pose as a valet of one of the guests.  Thus Georgy becomes George Fellowes, passing herself off as a man to the hero, Nathan.

During her masquerade, Georgy experiences the freedom of being a man, but she also has to put up with being a servant.  So she both gains and loses power.  It was a fun set-up to explore, particularly in the intimate scenes between Nathan and Georgy.  You can read an excerpt here.

What about you – what’s your favourite historical period, and why?

London, 1810

Former actress Georgiana Knight always believed she and her brother were illegitimate—until they learn their parents were married, making them heirs to a great estate. To prove their claim, Georgy needs to find evidence of their union by infiltrating a ton house party as valet to Lord Nathaniel Harland. Though masquerading as a boy is a challenge, it pales in comparison to sharing such intimate quarters with the handsome, beguiling nobleman.

Nathan is also unsettled by Georgy’s presence. First intrigued by his unusual valet, he’s even more captivated when he discovers Georgy’s charade. The desire the marriage-shy earl feels for his enigmatic employee has him hoping for much more than a master-servant relationship…

But will Nathan still want Georgy when he learns who she truly is? Or will their future be destroyed by someone who would do anything to prevent Georgy from uncovering the truth?

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